Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111027

Financial Crisis
»China’s Hu Hopes Eurozone Deal Stabilises Markets
»Commission Names Finland’s Rehn Its New Eurozone Tsar
»Debt Spain’s Banks to Find 26 Billion Euros
»EU Bank Buffer Agreement to Cost €106bn
»European Summit: Italy: The Ideal Scapegoat
»European Summit: Berlusconi Makes Firing Easier
»Eurozone Leaders Eye 1 Trillion Euro Bailout Fund
»Frantic Deal to Appease Europe
»Germany Makes Greece Pay With Sovereignty for New Bail-Out
»Greece: Forecast for 100,000 Firms Lost by Year-End
»Greece: Number of Households Needing Food Aid on the Rise
»Greece: ‘Social League’ Created for Change
»Greece: Venizelos: No to Further Austerity Measures
»Greece Hails ‘Historic’ EU Deal, Critics Warn of Cuts
»Growing Debt Overshadows China’s Economy
»Let’s Laugh About Sarkozy
»Obama Says He’ll be Taking ‘Executive Actions’ Without Congress on ‘Regular Basis’ To ‘Heal the Economy’
»Obama Now Accused of Destroying U.S. Economy … on Purpose!
»Rehn to Get Increased Economic Powers
»Summit Deal Saved Euro: French Finance Minister
»UK: The Warped Class War Taking Place at Occupy London
»Alien Abductions May be Vivid Dreams, Study Shows
»NY’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to Open 15 New Islamic Art Galleries on 1 November
»Real Americans Must Stand Against Muslim Brotherhood, Radical Islam and Sharia Law
»Shameful Graphic Novel Promotes Islamophobia
Europe and the EU
»Austrian Judge: Europe Will be the Battlefield for New Religious Wars
»Belgium: 500 Days and Still No Government
»EU: An Apocryphal Apology
»Faroe Islands to Begin Voluntary Genetic Sequencing of All Residents
»France: Muslim Veil Also Banned in Private Nurseries
»French Court Cancels Permit for Marseille Mega-Mosque
»Italy: Buddhists, Muslims, Yoruba join pope [sic] for peace pilgrimage; traditional Catholics condemn it
»Italy: Parliament Suspended After MPs Brawl
»Linn Duchaill: Ireland’s Unlikely Viking Capital
»‘Malta is Not Yet Multicultural Enough’
»Metal Theft ‘Epidemic One of Biggest Threat to UK’s Heritage’
»Missing Link in Roman Conquest of Germany a ‘Sensational Find’
»New York Times Spotlights Norway Rape
»Scotland: Woman Raped at Glasgow ‘Anti-Greed’ Occupy Protest Camp
»Swede Shocked by Backyard Elk ‘Threesome’
»The Muslims in Bulgaria Are Facing Persecution Campaigns
»UK: ‘Yes, I Criticise Certain Aspects of Islam, But Don’t Call Me a Bigot’, Demands Islamophobic Bigot
»UK: BBC Trust to Undertake a Review of the Impartiality and Accuracy of Their Coverage of the Events Known as the ‘Arab Spring’
»UK: Beaten to a Pulp: Face of the Father Left Unrecognisable by Gang of Robbers Who Stole His Wedding Ring
»UK: Diet Islamism
»UK: Hunt for Worthing “Poo Thief”
»UK: Islamophobia Off Our Campuses
»UK: Repeat Offenders Responsible for Half a Million Crimes
»UK: The Country Has Had Enough of Deception
»UK: White Man Subjected to Race Attack by Gang of Yobs
»Underwater Lava: Eruptions Could Create New Island in the Canaries
»US Mafia Boss Arrested at Rome Clinic
»Violent Shop Robberies Triple in Belgium
Mediterranean Union
»Mediterranean to Face Grain Crisis by 2030
North Africa
»Arab Spring Activists Win Sakharov Prize
»Dreaming of Spring in Tunisia
»Egypt: Muslims and Christians, If You Don’t Communicate, You Don’t Exist
»EU Parliament Hails Arab Spring Self-Immolation
»Libya: MI6 Planted Qaddafi Spy in British Mosques
»Libya: Frattini: Europe Must Avoid Islamic Autumn After Spring
»Libya: Gaddafi’s Driver, He Was Without Fear But Lost
»Morocco: Strategy to Bring Home Emigrant Capital Studied
»Mummy Has Oldest Case of Prostate Cancer in Ancient Egypt
»Tunisia: Election: Partial Data, Ennahda Already 85 Seats
»Worse Than Gaddafi?
Israel and the Palestinians
»Gaza: Israel Raid After Rocket, 1st Since Shalit Deal
Middle East
»Iran: What Will They Think of Next?
»Lebanon: Geagea Misses Prison, Insults Islam, Sayyed Nasrallah
»Russia Links Chechens Shot in Turkey to Bombing
»Saudi Arabia: Nayef Leads Procession of Mourners
»Saudi Arabia: Large Lebanese Delegation Headed by Hariri and Siniora Offers Condolences in Riyadh
»Saudi Arabia: World Dignitaries Mourn Sultan
»Saudia Arabia: A Fond Farewell Amidst Speculation
»Spanish Consortium to Build High-Speed Train in Desert
»Spanish Firms Win Mega-Deal to Build Saudi High-Speed Line
»Stakelbeck: Would Muslims Accept Iran as Leader of a New Caliphate?
»Syria: After Damascus, New Major Loyalist Rally in Latakia
»Taking Sides in Syria, Turkey Shelters Militia Fighting Assad
»Energy: Russian Gazprom Eyes Cyprus Gas Reserves
»Ex-Minister Slams ‘Degradation’ of Russia Politics
»Magnificence Meets Modernity: Bolshoi Rebirth Has Traditionalists Up in Arms
»Putin Disgusted by Gadhafi Death Images
South Asia
»Afghanistan is in a State of ‘Anarchy, ‘ Argues Head of German NGO
»As Bangkok Evacuates, City Could be Flooded for a Month
»Bangkok Residents Flee as Floods Advance
»Pakistan: Drone Strike ‘Kills Five Taliban Commanders’
»Pakistani Judge Flees Country After Receiving Death Threats
Far East
»Cyber War on Japanese Embassies
»Shipwreck May be Part of Kublai Khan’s Lost Fleet
Latin America
»Central America the World’s Most Violent Region: Research
»UK: ‘Kick Out Blackburn Child Sex Asylum Seeker’
»UK: 4,000 Foreign Criminals Set Free to Fight Deportation Including Murderers, Rapists and Child Sex Offenders
Culture Wars
»Candidly Speaking: On Distinguishing Between Good and Evil
»French Christian Group Besieges Jesus Excrement Play
»Discovery: Cosmic Dust Contains Organic Matter From Stars
»Dreams Read by Brain Scanner for the First Time
»The World at Its Limits: Feeding the Extra Billions
»Water’s Quantum Weirdness Makes Life Possible

Financial Crisis

China’s Hu Hopes Eurozone Deal Stabilises Markets

Chinese President Hu Jintao said Thursday he hoped a European deal to tackle the continent’s deepening debt crisis will stabilise financial markets. Hu made the comments during a telephone conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who earlier announced eurozone leaders had agreed to leverage the 440-billion-euro bailout fund to one trillion euros ($1.4 trillion).

Hu told Sarkozy he hoped the measures would “help Europe stabilise financial markets, overcome difficulties and push forward economic recovery and development”, according to comments posted on the foreign ministry website. The Chinese leader said he also hoped next week’s G20 meeting would send a “strong signal to promote stability”.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, has invested significant sums in European debt and has repeatedly called on Europe to address its sovereign debt crisis, saying a failure to act risks dragging the world back into recession. Europe is also a key market for Chinese exports and a downturn in eurozone economies will hurt the Asian country’s vast manufacturing sector, which employs millions of people and is a key driver of economic growth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Commission Names Finland’s Rehn Its New Eurozone Tsar

(BRUSSELS) — The European Commission on Thursday appointed finance chief Olli Rehn as its number two, with special responsibility for the euro currency area. Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said the Finn, central to joint EU-IMF bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, would now be his right-hand man with responsibility for all economic and monetary affairs including the euro.

“Having a commissioner tasked especially with the euro shows that we want euro governance to happen within a communal framework,” Barroso told the European parliament in Strasbourg. He was speaking hours after leaving a summit of eurozone leaders in Brussels that reached a late-night deal to hit banks with a 50-percent write-down on Greek debt, recapitalise some lenders and boost its bailout fund to a trillion euros.

Rehn “will have strengthened decision-making capacities,” Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly added at a post-summit news conference back in Brussels. As well as the numbers, leaders moved to accelerate the process of eurozone integration.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Debt Spain’s Banks to Find 26 Billion Euros

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 27 — According to the estimates published by the European banking authority, the capitalisation requirements for Spain’s banks total 26.161 billion euros, with an additional capital requirement for the financial bodies of 106 billion euros overall. According to initial assessments that have appeared in Spain’s media today, the devaluation of the country’s public debt will have an impact on the banks of 6.290 billion. The request from the European authorities is intended to prepare the banks for the sector impact of a possible Greek insolvency and its knock-on effects on other countries in the area. It is taken for granted in European Union circles that Spain’s capitalisation requirement will affect the country’s five largest banking groups: Santander, BBVA, Caixabank, Bankia and Banco Popular.

While awaiting details of the criteria for tackling the new solvency demands, Spain’s banking regulator, the Spanish banking association, (AEB) has announced in a memo today that these demands are “arbitrarily high, far from the established regulations: they generate uncertainty and detract credibility from the shoring-up work done over several financial periods”.

The AEB is also critical of the fact that the solvency of Spain’s national debt is also brought into question, “threatening confidence in the country”.

Similar criticisms have been voiced by the country’s savings banks, although the federation for the sector, (CECA) has not yet made an official pronouncement. Sources from the sector have spoken to national radio stations of “armed robbery”, warning that this can only lead to a further tightening of the credit squeeze which is already suffocating the Spanish economy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU Bank Buffer Agreement to Cost €106bn

The European Banking Authority, the sector’s trade association, has calculated that an EU deal to make sure lenders hold at least 9% of ‘safe’ capital in reserve by mid-2012 will cost €106 billion. Greek banks will need to find €30 billion, Spanish ones €26 billion and Italian ones €15 billion.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

European Summit: Italy: The Ideal Scapegoat

Ruben L. Oppenheimer

At the European Council of 23 October, Germany and France passed out some good marks and some bad marks to partners in trouble in the eurozone — to Italy, notably. While the criticism of the inertia of the Berlusconi government is justified, the current crisis is equally down to the sluggish reactions that Berlin and Paris have shown ever since the beginning, writes the Corriere della Sera.

Franco Venturini

It was no great pleasure for an Italian to be in Brussels yesterday at the joint press conference with Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy. Throughout the meeting of the German chancellor and French president with the international press, the head of our government, Silvio Berlusconi, who, whether foreigners like it or not, represents all of us, was humiliated, singled out for having failed to adopt the measures that Italy ought to have taken against the sovereign debt crisis.

Tacitly placed on the same level as Greece (Sarkozy has Ireland, Portugal and Spain down on a separate list), he has been accepted only reluctantly as an intermediator (and considered as trustworthy in this role only by the Chancellor).

Considering that diplomatic language and moderation in behaviour are usually the rule in the Council of Europe, it is easy to grasp why France and Germany — whose role is certainly decisive if we are to hold our ground against the tsunami rolling up on the euro — have managed to irritate a large part of their European partners.

Twenty-fifth hour has come

But, after pointing out the excesses of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, how is one not to wonder if they were right, and just how right they were? The Berlusconi government has in effect broken down and has not brought to Brussels the reforming legislation that it should have pushed through long ago.

Through his inertia, Silvio Berlusconi is imperilling the entire rescue operation that will be settled on Wednesday. And the warnings that the Council sent to him in Rome regarding budget cuts (a trap?) have so far been in vain. Yet yesterday Sarkozy told him again that those who do not accept their share of responsibility have no claims on the solidarity of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

The uncontainable and ostentatious irritation of the French and Germans has, therefore, good reason to emerge. Many other European partners are said to share it, in more muted terms. And that, of course, is the point the Italian Government should take most seriously, if belatedly.

The final decision, which this time will cover all of Europe, is expected by October 26. This acceleration certainly explains the paradox that has come with the work done on October 23: never before has so much optimism been seen at a summit that went so wrong. Not so wrong as to transform the battle for the euro in a fratricidal war and prevent the necessary agreements from being concluded next Wednesday, but wrong enough to raise the political stakes to the highest level and to “compel” Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy to reach an agreement that, by stopping up the crisis, saves them from ignominy.

Because it is they, the German Chancellor and French President, who have taken the initiative of setting up a marathon of meetings and negotiations under pressure. And so it is they who, now that the twenty-fifth hour has come, should take sympathetic note of a common political interest: that of not failing, of not becoming the gravediggers of the euro and of Europe, of not transforming into a boomerang the guiding responsibility that the two “locomotives” wanted to take on.

Banks will not be happy

It is no coincidence that Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, between their attacks on Berlusconi, declared yesterday that they were virtually certain to reach “common, ambitious and sustainable” agreements that they will present to the G-20 at Cannes in early November…

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

European Summit: Berlusconi Makes Firing Easier

La Stampa, 27 October 2011

“Easier dismissals to please EU”, headlines La Stampa after yesterday’s euro crisis summit in Brussels. New measures submitted by Berlusconi to his EU partners include a sell off of Italian state-assets — raising 5 billion euros annually over the next three years, pushing retirement age up to 67 from 2026 (currently 60 or 61 for women and 65 for men) and, most of all, loosening up labour laws. According to the new plan, workers on permanent contracts can be fired if the company can prove financial difficulty.

European leaders were pleased by these Italian efforts but have also demanded a “forthcoming schedule” and a strict “compliance with obligations”. Meanwhile, Italian opposition parties and unions reacted violently to the dismissals plan. “Their opposition is already worrying the EU”, notes Corriere della Sera. Indeed, Italian Parliament and Senate are shortly to vote on Berlusconi’s austerity package but his government may well be too weak. On October 26, it was defeated twice at the Parliament. “Where will Berlusconi find the house majorities to approve the plan?”, comments La Stampa. Rome daily La Repubblica is also sceptical about Berlusconi’s proposals: “EU demands concrete measures but Berlusconi is still making vague promises”.

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

Eurozone Leaders Eye 1 Trillion Euro Bailout Fund

Eurozone leaders mulled boosting a bailout fund to one trillion euros to contain the debt crisis Thursday as the leaders of Germany and France scrambled to convince banks to lose big on Greek bonds. The 10-digit figure is expected to appear in the final declaration the eurozone’s 17 leaders are to adopt at the close of a marathon summit that began Wednesday and was running well past midnight, a diplomat said.

Boosting the bailout fund is a key element in the crisis response eurozone leaders have promised, along with making banks agree to write down billions in Greek debt and recapitalising the banking sector so it can absorb the hit. Under the plan, the eurozone would use clever financial footwork to “leverage” up the 440-billion-euro European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) without increasing guarantees provided by governments.

The bailout fund, the main weapon against the crisis, has already flown to the rescue of Portugal and Ireland, and would be tapped in a new Greek bailout. But it would be too small to rescue bigger endangered economies, such as Italy and Spain. “We are heading towards the one trillion euro ($1.39 trillion) figure,” another diplomat said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Frantic Deal to Appease Europe

Corriere della Sera, 26 October 2011

“A mini deal for Europe”, headlines Corriere della Sera a few hours ahead of Italian prime minister Berlusconi’s journey to the Eurozone summit in Brussels, where he’s expected to present Italy’s new austerity plan. Berlusconi’s party and his Northern League coalition partners have been struggling in recent days to reach agreement on pensions as demanded by the EU.

“The current pension system has not been touched because of Umberto Bossi of the Northern League’s opposition”, explains Corriere della Sera, but it is understood that the “coalition parties have reached a deal to raise the retirement age to 67 years”. In a concerned editorial, Corriere della Sera editor-in-chief Ferruccio de Bortoli appeals to Italian politicians to put divisions aside, calling for Berlusconi’s resignation: “Italy is not Greece. However, even though this may be unfair to us, we are not trustworthy anymore in Europe. For months we have been announcing new measures that have been never approved. Berlusconi should resign. He is the only one to blame for this”.

Roberto Napoletano, editor-in-chief of the Italian economic daily Il Sole 24 Ore, agrees: “Berlusconi and his government keep on avoiding their responsibilities. Italy must stop this shameful farce”. Despite agreement on the austerity package, Berlusconi’s government seems again on the brink of collapse. According to La Repubblica, he is likely to resign next December or January 2012 to advance general election due in 2013 and therefore avoid a “disadvantageous” new voting system which will be probably approved by a forthcoming national referendum.

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

Germany Makes Greece Pay With Sovereignty for New Bail-Out

BRUSSELS — Greek sovereignty was further undermined by eurozone leaders on Thursday (27 October), as Germany demanded a “durable” supervision on the ground of its economic policy-making under the terms of a second €130 billion bail-out. The new rescue package, which comes with a 50 percent debt cut by private lenders and is to run until 2020, will include a “monitoring capacity on the ground” instead of current visits every three months by the troika of European Commission, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank lenders, the summit communique said.

The aim of the mission will be to “advise and offer assistance in order to ensure the timely and full implementation of the reforms.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed for the permanent presence instead of the current set-up, which sees the troika “coming and going every three months,” she told journalists after the meeting.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Forecast for 100,000 Firms Lost by Year-End

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, OCTOBER 27 — The Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE) expects no fewer than 183,000 enterprises to close down by next summer, which entails the loss of 250,000 jobs. The forecast, as AMNA news agency reports, goes on to suggest that by the end of this year there will be 100,000 closures. The Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises’ Institute of GSEVEE, that drafted these estimates, expects a total of 305,000 jobs to be lost between July 2011 and July 2012, on top of 300,000 jobs lost in the July 2010-July 2011 period.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Number of Households Needing Food Aid on the Rise

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, OCTOBER 27 — Hunger is increasingly becoming a problem among poor Greek households, with more and more families unable to make ends meet, AMNA news agency reports quoting the Greek branch of the humanitarian aid organisation ‘Doctors of the World’ (DoW) as warning in a press conference on Wednesday. It said volunteer doctors working at the organisation’s four health centres in Athens, Perama, Thessaloniki and Hania were reporting an increase in the number of Greeks seeking their aid and also a rise in those asking for food. “The number of Greeks seeking medical attention from us has shot up from 6-7% last year to 30% this year, out of a total of 30,000 people seen in the past year. They are elderly people, those on small pensions, young unemployed, people with chronic diseases who come in great anxiety, often with a hospital prescription in hand, because they are unable to pay for their contribution. What shocked us most, however, is that many now ask us for food,” said a representative of DoW.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: ‘Social League’ Created for Change

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, OCTOBER 27 — “People in Greece want change, not elections,” the Socialist Prime Minister, George Papandreou, repeated last night, at the press conference that followed the Brussels summit, in a new effort to end talk of the country going to the polls ahead of schedule.

In Greece, though, there is no shortage of people who believe that the decisions made at the summit could accelerate political developments in the country, where something is already brewing in the ranks of the centre-left.

Indeed, following the letter addressed to the Prime Minister by three of his government ministers (the Public Education Minister, Anna Diamantopoulou, the Health Minister, Andreas Loverdos, and the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Giannis Ragusis), in which the signatories underlined the difficulty of the current time and the need to take important initiatives to emerge from the crisis, a group of 40 figures from the world of business, culture and politics — including George Floridis, the former Finance Minister in the Socialist governments of Costas Simitis — announced on Tuesday that they have created a new political faction. The new group, called “Social League”, is not a party, its founders say, though they have not ruled out that it may become one in the future.

Members say that the new political movement “wants to provide an answer to the national dilemma of whether to insist upon an old model shown to have failed or to carry Greece forward within the European family”. The new group does not believe that the current political system, which among other things is considered responsible for the disastrous economic situation in which Greece now finds itself, will bring Greece out of crisis. The main objective of the Social League is to “promote information, dialogue and action in order to get all citizens involved, giving the priority in the immediate future to the formation of a government that will aim to reorder the country, enabling it to be a part of the core of the European Union and to be a part of the Eurozone, with the necessary economic and financial discipline, with a productive economy, and not the state, as a source of new riches”.

George Floridis, the only politician in the movement, said that “the political system about to disappear will immediately need to support a government with a large parliamentary majority in order to manage the current crisis and, in the medium-term, to carry out its necessary restructuring with the deepening of democracy at all levels”.

The well-known economist, Giannis Sturnaras, has been particularly critical of the current political system, insisting on the “need to create a new development model based on the reduction of public spending and the increase in public investments, and not the increase in taxes. If Greece does not apply this project, it is the troika’s fault”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Venizelos: No to Further Austerity Measures

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, OCTOBER 27 — “The presence of representatives from the Troika in Greece should be continued in order to avoid problems of communication”. Speaking to a press conference this evening, Greece’s Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos explained to reporters the decisions made concerning Greece’s public deficit at the European summit and ruled out any adoption by the government of further austerity measures.

“With the accord made yesterday,” Mr Venizelos said, “liquidity for Greece’s banking system has been guaranteed,”.

The Minister went on to explain how the sixth tranche of eight billion euros will be paid before mid- November and he also attacked opposition parties for the stance they have taken on the agreement attained, speaking of “national and political short-sightedness”. Mr Venizelos reaffirmed that Greece has to continue along its path of structural reforms. Asked whether the government was planning any fresh austerity measures’, Mr Venizelos categorically ruled them out.

“The people of Greece have already paid the price they had to pay: now we have to apply those measures enacted so far in a thorough way”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece Hails ‘Historic’ EU Deal, Critics Warn of Cuts

(ATHENS) — Greek authorities on Thursday hailed a late-night EU deal slashing the country’s huge debt as “historic” but critics warned of new sacrifices lying in store under the watchful eye of Brussels. The Athens stock exchange jumped 4.32 percent in afternoon trade after eurozone leaders agreed to slash Greece’s debt of over 350 billion euros ($487 billion) by nearly a third. “The country has signed a very major deal, this is a historic day that can put order in our public finances,” government spokesman Elias Mossialos told Mega television.

Prime Minister George Papandreou will brief President Carolos Papoulias, hold a cabinet meeting and give a 1500 GMT televised address to the nation on the results of the summit, his office said. Speaking to reporters in Brussels hours earlier, Papandreou said Greece had “escaped the trap of default,” which he termed a “question of survival” for the country.

But main opposition leader Antonis Samaras said the government was boasting for no reason. The EU deal “proves that the government’s policy was wrong,” he said in a televised address of his own. “The (debt) ‘haircut’ will bring the country’s debt ratio to 120 percent of output in 2020, which is where it was in 2009,” Samaras said. “Those who celebrate about bringing the country back to 2009 in 2020 should get serious … the government responsible for a shipwreck should not speak of salvation,” he said.

The deal brokered early Thursday will cut 100 billion euros off Greece’s debt mountain thanks to an agreement between the eurozone and private sector creditor banks to take a 50-percent loss on their holdings of Greek government bonds.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Growing Debt Overshadows China’s Economy

While European governments are working hard to find a solution to the debt crisis, China might soon be facing a crisis of its own, as a growing number of local governments are unable to make good on money from Beijing.

The new east railway station in Chengdu is like an entire city in itself, with its six floors, 26 platforms and brand new surrounding infrastructure, including two new underground lines and freshly built streets. And it all popped up within just two years. It is China’s largest train station and it cost around one billion euros to build. Most of it was financed on credit. During the financial crisis, Beijing gave all local governments a free hand to spend money in order to keep the economy going. As a result, there were countless new infrastructure projects. Within a short time, the provinces and municipalities accumulated a debt of over one trillion euros — around 60 percent of Germany’s national debt. Duncan Innes-Ker of the Economist Intelligence Unit in Beijing believes the newly accumulated debt is dangerously high.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Let’s Laugh About Sarkozy

Il Giornale, 25 October 2011

The outbreak of laughter from Angela Merkel — and especially from Nicolas Sarkozy — on the subject of Silvio Berlusconi’s commitment to the reforms needed to prevent the spread of the debt crisis to Italy is going down badly with the pro-Cavaliere press. On its front page, Il Giornale leads with “To hell with Sarkozy”. The Milan daily, owned by the PM’s brother is taking up the call launched by sister paper Il Foglio inviting Italians to protest outside the French Embassy in Rome this October 25 at 5pm for a “laugh-in” to “fling back into Sarkozy’s face his laugh at Berlusconi and the Italian people.” Meanwhile, the head of government will try to persuade coalition partners the Northern League to approve the pension reform demanded by the EU. Writes Il Giornale, “To dump the political problems between France and Germany onto Italy: this was the agenda of the duo in Brussels. Sarkozy has set the tone. But the bankers, investors and savers in France are not laughing. They’re holding more than 400 billion euros in Italian securities”, while in Italy, “the public patrimony and private savings are unbeatable and the unemployment rate is better than in France. It’s our turn to laugh now.”

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

Obama Says He’ll be Taking ‘Executive Actions’ Without Congress on ‘Regular Basis’ To ‘Heal the Economy’

President Barack Obama told an audience in Nevada on Monday that he will be regularly announcing “executive actions” his administration will take to “heal the economy” without the “dysfunctional” Congress.

“I’m here to say to all of you and to say to the people of Nevada and the people of Las Vegas, we can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will,” Obama said.

“I’ve told my administration to keep looking every single day for actions we can take without Congress,

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Obama Now Accused of Destroying U.S. Economy … on Purpose!

President, Dems accused of deliberately overloading country’s financial system

NEW YORK — A new book released today documents how President Obama and progressive Democrats are deliberately overloading the U.S. financial system, using socialist designs to remake the economy.

“Red Army: The Radical Network that must be defeated to save America” by Aaron Klein and Brenda J. Elliott unearths the radical origins of Obama’s major economic legislation and policies, including the 2009 “stimulus” and health-care law.

The book, with nearly 1,500 endnotes, documents how these radicals aim to remake the American financial system with massive government control.

“Red Army” investigates recent legislation and initiatives, including the “stimulus” bill, “Making It In America,” the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act of 2010 and “Buy American.”

It traces the policies to groups such as the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a union-manufacturer partnership; the Soros-funded Campaign for America’s Future; and the Apollo Alliance, which is run by a who’s who of radicals.

On Obamacare, the “Red Army” documents how the legislation — deliberately masked by moderate, populist rhetoric — was carefully crafted and perfected over the course of decades. The book shows how the law is a direct product of laborious work by a coalition of radical groups and activists with socialist designs who seek to “reform” the U.S. health care industries, which account for a significant portion of the U.S. capitalist enterprise.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Rehn to Get Increased Economic Powers

BRUSSELS — EU monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn is to be given extra authority to supervise national fiscal policies, as the commission moves quickly to centralise economic governance powers in Brussels. “(Rehn) will become deputy-head of the commission for economic and monetary affairs and the euro,” and will have “additional working instruments,” European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso told the European parliament on Thursday (27 October).

“This is the best way to guarantee independence, objectivity and efficiency in the exercise of the Commission’s responsibility of coordination, surveillance and enforcement in the area of economic governance of the union and of the euro area in particular,” said Barroso. It is also a way of making sure that economic governance stays within the hands of the commission, amid fears that eurozone member states would club together and make their own rules and institutions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Summit Deal Saved Euro: French Finance Minister

A deal reached at a summit of eurozone leaders has saved the single currency, French Finance Minister François Baroin said on Thursday. “Yes, indeed,” he said on RTL radio when asked if the deal had secured the future of the euro. “Of course there was a risk of explosion. This is an incredible systemic crisis we’re going through. “Last night’s deal is an ambitious, comprehensive and credible response,” he added. “That’s what’s going to resolve this business (the debt crisis), that’s what will get us out of this zone of turbulence, that’s what will allow the economic rebound, that’s what will stabilise the eurozone and world growth.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: The Warped Class War Taking Place at Occupy London

I have visited the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral three times now, and each time I have been struck by its warped class dynamic. For all the claims that this is a people’s movement facing down evil bankers, in truth the majority of the occupiers are middle-class and well-spoken and clearly have lots of time on their hands, while many of the men and women in suits making their way to offices or trading floors in the City are working class. On one side you have the plummy-voiced pink-haired daughters of academics and writers complaining about how banks have “destroyed working people’s lives”, and on the other side you have ambitious wide boys from the suburbs and young working-class women from Essex or High Wycombe going to jobs that they hope will earn them lots of cash.

Occupy London does not speak for the 99 per cent or for the working man — on the contrary, it is more an expression of slacker disdain and organic-fuelled fury for the ethos of the ambitious working man. Hence all the placards telling the besuited passers-by that they have been brainwashed by capitalism and consumerism. One placards informs these aspirational ignoramuses that capitalism makes you into either a “chump” or a “tart”. That’s how the bookish, well-brought-up occupiers view the people who work in the City: as thickos and slags. This protest expresses middle-class spite more than everyman anger.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Alien Abductions May be Vivid Dreams, Study Shows

Researchers say they have conducted “the first experiment to ever prove that close encounters with UFOs and extraterrestrials are a product of the human mind.” In a sleep study by the Out-Of-Body Experience Research Center in Los Angeles, 20 volunteers were instructed to perform a series of mental steps upon waking up or becoming lucid during the night that might lead them to have out-of-body experiences culminating in perceived encounters with aliens. According to lead researcher Michael Raduga, more than half the volunteers experienced at least one full or partial out-of-body experience, and seven of them were able to make contact with UFOs or extraterrestrials during these dream-like experiences.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

NY’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to Open 15 New Islamic Art Galleries on 1 November

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) is opening 15 new galleries that feature 12,000 objects that aim to promote “mutual understanding and education”. The MET’s original Islamic department closed in 2003. Now, on 1 November, the department reopens in a grandiose style with a suite of new galleries spanning a staggering 19,000 square feet of space. The galleries, which are collectively named “Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia” provided a sneak-preview to the press on 24 October (pictured above). The name may be cumbersome, but it is intentionally a long one. The curators are trying to underscore the richness and interconnectedness of the arts that reflect a melting pot of different cultures.

The organization of the 15 galleries is by geographical area, will emphasize the diversity of the Islamic world, over a span of thirteen hundred years, by underscoring the many distinct cultures within its fold. Posters lined outside the museum urge passersby to “Rediscover the Islamic World”. At the ribbon-cutting preview for the galleries, Thomas P Campbell, the MET’s director, was clear about the political urgency of the galleries. “We must recognise,” he told the 700 assembled invitees, which included politicians and donors, “that we live in a nation where a widespread consciousness about the Islamic world really did not exist until 10 years ago, and that awareness came at one of the darkest hours in American history.”

He added: “It is our job and the great achievement of these galleries to educate our audience about the depths and magnificence of the Islamic tradition.”

If the initiative is partly about educating people and attracting visitors to the museum, there is also a deeper, more subtle, message to convey: that the US takes the culture of the Islamic world seriously and is interested in exploring it beyond the cliches and the news headlines. One of the first things visitors will see at the entrance to the new suite of galleries are two 15th-century examples of calligraphy from what is now Uzbekistan. They are from what is thought to be the world’s largest Qur’an, which, according to legend, was made for the ruler of the Timurid Dynasty only after the same calligrapher had made a copy that was so small it was rejected. “So he went away and decided to do exactly the opposite,” explains Ms. Navina Najat Haidar, the coordinator for the galleries. “He then wrote it out so big that he had to tie it to a wheelbarrow and present it at the court. This shows two almost full pages and you get sense of a monumental Koran,” she added. “It’s a very important thing for us to show right at the entrance, because we are the Islamic department and Islam is an essential binding thread throughout the installation.”

There galleries offer a diversity of arts of every medium, from paintings to sculpures to handicrafts, scientific instruments and architecture. There is beautiful Arabic calligraphy next to ancient Qur’ans and ornate weaponry, including swords encrusted with rubies, silver and gold. The world of sculpture is represented by Iranian statues, made from stucco, measuring a meter and a half (five feet) tall. “We’ve allowed the objects to speak as they wish to speak, to be experienced as the visitor wishes to see them, giving all the relevant information,” Ms. Haidar said. “But we’ve opened up a connection to European Orientalism. We brought out Spain, North Africa and Southern Italy as a separate area, meaning eight centuries of Islam in Europe. China, that’s an important story, and seeing the Islamic world through objects that have been borrowed from the Asian department.”

One gem of the new galleries is the fully re-constructed reception room of a large residence in Damascus, dating back to the 18th century. Its marble floor has a geometric design with magnificent red velour pillows strewn throughout and its wooden walls are inscribed with verses from the Koran. “It’s one of the highlights of the galleries,” curator Mechthild Baumeister said. “It’s one of our biggest achievements.”

Also from the world of architecture, there is an example of Indian windows made from intricately carved wood. “With India we decided to show later India, Islamic and non-Islamic India as one interrelated culture, which it absolutely is. That is a slight correction because, in the old galleries, Islamic India had been extracted from everything else and other native material of the same period was not together with it and we managed to unite it all with a separate entrance space, which makes the viewer understand these objects not just as expressions of a single tradition but because the Indian culture is so hybrid. We’ve offered an extremely wide canvas for these objects.”

Asked how these new galleries reflect or inform the grim political realities in the Islamic world today, Ms. Haidar said: “As you start thinking about audiences and how to make this material relevant to them and thinking of their world, that’s when you begin thinking of contemporary politics and the contemporary world and trying to understand that the person might have this morning just read about the assassination attempt of the Saudi ambassador by Iranians. How do you help that person, offer some kind of platform to reconcile all the different things he’s hearing about a single culture or a single place? We offer this long historical perspective.”

[JP note: The long historical perspective — Islamic supremacism, and dhimmi, know your place.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Real Americans Must Stand Against Muslim Brotherhood, Radical Islam and Sharia Law

The insertion of radical Islam, largely Muslim Brotherhood is happening throughout the Middle East and in parts of Africa. The latest method of intrusion and radical Islamic take over is with ‘Arab Spring’. Those Islamics marching for democracy were simply used and muted by the Muslim Brotherhood’s plans for total take over. Things are going as planned and Obama and his handlers couldn’t be happier. Global controls, regulations and rules combined with encroaching Fundamentalist Islam is the double barrel shot gun that threatens to take down America, Israel and the West. Right now, it is attempting to transform the Middle East into an Islamic radical, Muslim Brotherhood zone.

I recently interviewed Rev. Lainie Dowell, ( an author and political activist who has studied in depth Barack Obama, Islam and the African nations push to create the United States of Africa. She said from her research that this had been going on since the 1960s and she believed that Barack Obama wanted to be the head of this after he destroyed America. Kadafi, who we assassinated recently was the known pick to run this 55-state confederation and emerging super power.

Interestingly, Sher Zieve, another hard hitting commentator also told me that she had seen an interview on You Tube with Van Jones, talking to school kids. When asked by a child what Obama would do after he was done being President, Van Jones said Obama might rule the world. This was quickly scrubbed but not before many heard those words from his own lips. So….is America simply a stepping stone to worldwide control?

What have we seen from Obama

It is not a paranoid ‘tin helmet’ or racist moment that I have noticed Obama’s submission and devotion to Islam. Almost immediately when getting into office Obama gave Islamic radical and terrorist group Hamas over 900 million dollars. We saw Obama’s first trip to Saudi Arabia, where he bowed down low to the Saudi King. We then saw Obama stand against Israel and for Turkey when Israeli commandos confronted the Turkish armada taking supplies to the Gaza. Israel had intelligence that the Turkish ships weren’t just delivering food and medicine but also weapons and potential terrorists. They were right. Terrorists on their list and weapons were discovered yet the sold out news and Obama looked the other way as they rebuked Israel….again.

The attacks and insults have continued against Israel as the kiss up to Islam has grown. We saw Hillary and Biden practically get their knickers in a twist when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to go ahead and build homes on their own sovereign property. These weren’t remote ‘settlements’ as the media and Obama manipulated, but 5 minutes from downtown Jerusalem. There was nothing ridiculous, extreme, or remote about their building projects. It was simple anti Semitism and Islamic controls that couldn’t possibly have this. Obama played it perfectly… for a Muslim that is. Just when the insults against Israel about blew me down, it got even more arrogant. Obama started pressuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go back to the 1967 borders. That was not just absurd of Obama but also would expose Israel to deadly attacks and make them indefensible. Thankfully, Israel said no thank you.

Bringing it all the way home with Arab Spring, Libya, Egypt

What was touted by Obama as an American duty to defend desperate freedom fighters in Libya, transformed quickly into an illegal war, breaching the 1973 war powers act. Obama bypassed our congress, bowed down to the UN and started spending billions while putting our troops in harms way. Soon we learned the freedom fighters were linked with al quaeda, so it was in large part, bad guys fighting bad guys. Kadafi had not been attacking America, or our interests. We didn’t even get oil from him, so why in God’s green earth did Obama put us there? I think it was to establish more rigid Muslim controls world wide. He knew once Kadafi was gone, rigid sharia would rule and it has. Oh….but first we had to get rid of Kadafi, so we found him and assassinated him.

Interestingly, from Rev. Lainie Dowell’s research on the emerging United States of Africa, she found that Kadafi was to be the first President of this new super power, now he is gone. Gee….isn’t it convenient that Kadafi is gone. I wonder who might end up being the President of the United States of Africa now????? Obama has quickly supported the Muslim Brotherhood, why?

Just as soon as Egypt and President Hosni Mubarak’s rule was being challenged by protestors as Arab Spring unfolded, Obama immediately backed the Muslim Brotherhood which had been circling their radical wagons to control what was moderate Egypt. Now the Muslim Brotherhood has taken over, dozens of Coptic Christians are being threatened and murdered, Christian churches are being burned to the ground and Sharia controls are growing. Oh yes, threats to Israel. Through out the Middle East, the financed and organized Muslim Brotherhood is taking over, using the planned ‘Arab Spring’ to push their dominating Islamic force forward. This whole thing was long ago planned.

According to Jihad Watch, President Obama’s own father, Barack Obama senior was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood for 30 years. Bringing it home even further, Obama has at least 3 high level Muslim Brotherhood members working for him. One is a key speech writer for Obama and another, Azizah al-Hibri heads the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. With all this emphasis on come together, Muslim brotherhood, Arab spring democracy values, I just had to review what Muslim Brotherhood stood for and their beliefs.

Muslim Brotherhood in a snapshot

They were started by Hassan al — Banna in 1928 after the collapse of the Ottman Empire. They oppose secular behaviors in Islamic nations, huge supporters of strict Sharia law. Their motto: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” They sanction, even demand jihad from their followers. In 2004 a fatwa was put forth by Sheikh Yousef Al-Quradhawi saying it was the obligation of all Muslims to abduct and kill U.S. citizens in Iraq.

They are known to work in all schools, colleges, run for office and infiltrate themselves into Government. Well, they are certainly doing well aren’t they? They are working for our President in influential positions. Counter-Intelligence expert, Prof. Clare Lopez stated that Islamist allied operatives appointed by Obama are undermining U.S. security policy. This is aimed at co-opting America’s foreign policy in the Middle East.

>From 1928 on the Muslim Brotherhood has formed and financed many Islamic terror groups including al Qaeda. Their dream is a world wide caliphate. Obama is a useful pawn playing right into their hands. Our Republic is in danger. There should be zero Islamics working in high level positions anywhere near the President and authority because if they are traditionally Islamic they must submit first to Sharia law and the Qur’an, not the constitution. That isn’t Islamaphobia or persecution. That is a fact. It should even be more of a no brainer for a U.S. President to not even consider hiring someone who is a member of an Islamic terrorist group like Muslim Brother. Apparently, like Father like son.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Shameful Graphic Novel Promotes Islamophobia

There is nothing subtle about Frank Miller’s newest graphic novel, Holy Terror. The book opens with the quote: “If you meet the infidel, kill the infidel”, which Mr Miller attributes to the Prophet. From there the jingoism, violence and Islamophobia take off. Miller is no stranger to controversy. His stories, which include the famous Batman mini-series, The Dark Knight Returns, and comics-to-film 300 and Sin City, regularly explore the darker corners of society amid shades of moral grey. Any nuance, however, is all but absent in his latest work.

Originally envisioned as a Batman tale after September 11 attacks on the US, the comic features heroes The Fixer, and thief-come-love interest, Natalie, as they join forces to stop an Al Qaeda plot on Empire City, a thinly veiled New York City. For some, the best-seller underlines a worrying shift in American entertainment. “We are witnessing a growing industry of information and fear-mongering, and this work fits in the centre … It’s unfortunate that Islamophobia is becoming mainstream,” said Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Muslim civil-rights group. He described the work as “shameful”.

Certainly, Miller’s mixing of Muslims and Arabs — the book never differentiates — with terrorists highlights Holy Terror‘s unflattering portrayal of Muslims. Jack Shaheen, a professor of mass communications at Southern Illinois University, said this combining is a “common thread” in post-September 11 media, and that Holy Terror warrants attention by rights groups as comics grow in influence within the American entertainment industry.

After the book’s initial fight scene, The Fixer says to a captured terrorist: “So Mohammed, pardon me for guessing your name, but you’ve got to admit the odds are pretty good it’s Mohammad…” The Fixer then tortures and cripples the man before detonating his explosive belt. Miller’s depictions of women in Islam were no better. A two-panel spread that juxtaposes westerners and Muslims/Arabs shows one of the comic’s most gratuitous scenes. In stark contrast to westerners at a cinema in the first panel, the second depicts a brutalised woman buried to her neck as silhouetted men stone her while yelling insults.

The National, 25 October 2011

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austrian Judge: Europe Will be the Battlefield for New Religious Wars

There is an astonishing article about Islam in “Kriminalpolizei”, an Austrian magazine for professionals from various branches involved in dealing with criminality: police, judges, academics, etc. It is written by Alfred Ellinger, founder of the “Vereinigung österreichischer Kriminalisten” [Association of Austrian Criminologists], which publishes the magazine. Ellinger is also a criminal judge and vice-president of the Eisenstadt Regional Court. Titled “Between Dialogue and Jihad”, the article goes over the doctrines and history of Islam with unusual candour. It concludes with a resounding wake-up call for Europe.

Let us indulge in no illusions. Europe will be the battlefield for a major struggle between the order of Islam and its enemies. 40% of the population in Arab countries is under 14 years of age. 15 million Muslims are already living in Europe today and the ageing of Europe is unmissable. The Muslim threat was beaten back in Castile, Southern France and, finally, in front of Vienna. But today the border between Europe and the Islamic world is porous, and the threat to Europe is clear.

…If Europe does not very quickly abandon its utterly failed immigration policy, the vision of a “multicultural society” and a misguided tolerance in dealing with hate-filled Islamists, the constantly repeated calls for “dialogue” and “tolerance” will lead to undreamt-of problems and new politically-motivated wars of religion in our cities.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Belgium: 500 Days and Still No Government

26/10/11 — It’s 500 days since the last election and Belgium is still without a new government. Talks involving six parties continue. On Wednesday night the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels Prime Ministers see the negotiators and will be asked to contribute more towards the austerity drive.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU: An Apocryphal Apology

Merkel Denies Saying Sorry to Berlusconi

Angela Merkel’s spokesman is denying Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s claim that the chancellor apologized to him in Brussels on Wednesday. That, though, may not be the worst news of the day for the Italian leader. He also faces significant domestic opposition to the reforms he has promised to undertake.

The annoyance was unmistakable. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy this week for their “inappropriate and objectionable public comments” and lamented the “weak trust” Italy’s international partners had in Rome.

He was referring to a Sunday press conference in which both Merkel and Sarkozy appeared to smirk, or even snicker, when asked if they still had faith in the leadership of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. During the appearance, the two also demanded that Berlusconi come to Wednesday’s summit with a proposal for how to reduce his country’s imposing mountain of debt.

Given the tone of the Sunday news conference, it would only seem natural that Merkel might apologize to Berlusconi in Brussels on Wednesday. Indeed, Berlusconi said as much to Italian television during a summit intermission. “Ms. Merkel came to me to offer her apologies and to assure me that it was not her intention to insult our country,” Berlusconi told the TV station RAI.

That, though, is not how Merkel recalls her exchange of pleasantries with Berlusconi. In an English language message posted on Twitter, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert wrote: “No apology from the Chancellor because there was nothing to apologize for. Berlusconi + Merkel have good, open talks among friends.”

Losing Trust

The relationship between Paris and Berlin on the one hand and Rome on the other has been in the spotlight this week as concerns have grown that Italy could be the next euro-zone country to run into problems resulting from its sovereign debt. Italy’s debt is worth almost 120 percent of its annual economic output and markets this year have showed signs of losing trust in Italy’s ability to shoulder that debt.

Berlusconi, however, had not shown much urgency in passing far-reaching austerity measures to address the problem. A €54 billion ($75 billion) package passed in late summer has been criticized for not being ambitious enough and some have said that a slowing economy could make additional measures necessary. Furthermore, Berlusconi backed away from initial belt-tightening measures only to reintroduce them due to significant market pressure. The back-and-forth led to doubts about his commitment to austerity.

Meanwhile, a pledge this week to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 likewise appears doubtful, with the Northern League, a vital Berlusconi ally in his center-right coalition government, rejecting the idea. Italian media has even reported that the issue could result in new elections early next year. A Wednesday debate in parliament in Rome over the issue was briefly suspended due to a brief fisticuff between two parliamentarians.

Still, the Italian prime minister arrived in Brussels on Wednesday with a pledge to institute measures aimed at bringing his country’s debt down to 113 percent of gross domestic product by 2014, a promise that Merkel called “noteworthy.” He also reiterated his plan to up the retirement age to 67, saying the process would be complete by 2026…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Faroe Islands to Begin Voluntary Genetic Sequencing of All Residents

Researchers are set to begin mapping the genes of nearly 50,000 residents of the Faroe Islands. Scientists hope the massive databank will reveal new information about health patterns in the North Atlantic archipelago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Muslim Veil Also Banned in Private Nurseries

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, OCTOBER 27 — Private children’s nurseries in France can also ban their employees from wearing a Muslim-style veil: this is the ruling passed down yesterday by the Versailles court of appeal. According to the French judges, as well as state schools, private children’s nurseries come under the ban of religious symbols. At the Baby-Loup nursery in the working class area of Chanteloup-les-Vignes (near Versailles), an employee was fired in 2008 because she refused to remove her veil.

The employee sought redress from the courts, but they ruled against her case. Lawyer Richard Malka has stated that this ruling by the appeal court is “a great victory for the secular state”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

French Court Cancels Permit for Marseille Mega-Mosque

MARSEILLE — A French court Thursday cancelled a construction permit for a mega-mosque in the southern city of Marseille that had been touted as a potential symbol of Islam’s growing place in France.

The city’s administrative tribunal ruled the project, which had already been under suspension for 18 months, would have to be cancelled because of failures to meet urban-planning requirements.

It raised particular concerns over the project’s failure to finalise a deal for a 450-place parking lot and to reassure planners that the mosque would fit with the urban environment.

The tribunal noted “a lack of graphical material permitting the evaluation of the project’s integration with neighbouring buildings, its visual impact and the treatment of access points and land.”

Critics of the project were quick to praise the court for its ruling.

“It’s the culmination of a long struggle for the people who live and work here, and who simply wanted for this project to fit in harmony with the neighbourhood’s economic and social fabric,” said Pierre Metras, a local butcher who led the neighbourhood campaign against the mosque.

The project was granted a permit in September 2009 but construction was suspended following complaints from local residents and businesses.

The 22-million-euro ($31-million) project would have seen the Grand Mosque, boasting a minaret soaring 25-metres (82-feet) high and room for up to 7,000 worshippers, built in the city’s northern Saint-Louis area.

Originally scheduled to open next year, it would have also hosted a Koranic school, library, restaurant and tea room.

Muslim leaders in the Mediterranean city had hailed the approval of the project as a key step in recognising the importance of Marseille’s large Muslim community.

France’s second city is home to an estimated 250,000 Muslims, many of whom flock to makeshift prayer houses in basements, rented rooms and dingy garages to worship.

The project’s architect, Maxime Repaux, said after the court ruling: “I find it pretty amazing that they’ve cancelled our construction permit because of a parking lot when what we are trying to do is to bring Islam out of the garage and to stop prayers in the streets.”

Home to Europe’s biggest Muslim minority, estimated at between five and six million, France has for years been debating how far it is willing to go to accommodate Islam, now the country’s second religion.

France in April became the first country in Europe to apply a ban on the wearing of full-face coverings, including the Islamic niqab and the burqa.

The decision triggered a political storm, with rights activists accusing President Nicolas Sarkozy of targeting of one of France’s most vulnerable groups to win back votes from the resurgent far right.

A French court in September slapped the first fines on two women for violating the ban.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Italy: Buddhists, Muslims, Yoruba join pope [sic] for peace pilgrimage; traditional Catholics condemn it

ASSISI, Italy — Buddhist monks, Muslim imams, Orthodox patriarchs and Yoruba leaders have flocked with Pope Benedict XVI to the Umbrian hilltown of Assisi to make an interfaith call for peace and insist that religion must never be used as a pretext for war. Thursday’s event is designed to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a daylong prayer for peace called by Pope John Paul II amid Cold War conflicts in dozens of countries. Some 300 delegates representing a rainbow of faiths answered Benedict’s invitation. Traditional Catholics have condemned the meeting, saying it’s blasphemy for the pope to invite leaders of “false” religions to ask God for peace. Benedict responded by stripping away communal prayers, but traditionalists say that is not enough.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy: Parliament Suspended After MPs Brawl

Fini comes under attack from League

(ANSA) — Rome, October 26 — The lower house of the Italian parliament was suspended on Wednesday after a brawl broke out between MPs over the government’s plans to modify the retirement age.

At least two deputies from Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition partner the Northern League exchanged blows with members from the opposition FLI party of House Speaker Gianfranco Fini. Two deputies grabbed each other by the throat while other MPs tried to separate them and Deputy Speaker Rosy Bindi suspended the sitting for several minutes.

The fight was apparently caused by comments made on television by Fini who alleged that the wife of League leader Umberto Bossi had retired at age 39.

Marco Reguzzoni, head of the League MPs in the House, launched a strong attack on Fini and what he called his “inappropriate” behaviour.

When Fini resumed his position in the House there were cries of “Resign! Resign!” from League MPs.

Bossi has steadfastly refused to make big concessions to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on the League’s objections to changing Italy’s generous pension system as part of reforms demanded by European leaders.

Berlusconi travelled to Wednesday’s crunch EU summit in Brussels on the eurozone crisis after reaching a last-minute deal with his coalition partners on new economic reforms demanded by Europe.

He persuaded the League, whose support he needs to keep his coalition government afloat, to accept a gradual increase in the retirement age from 65 to 67.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Linn Duchaill: Ireland’s Unlikely Viking Capital

A windswept barley field just south of Dundalk seems an unlikely spot for Ireland’s capital. But if things had been different, Annagassan near Castlebellingham might have been the principal city on the island of Ireland. Twelve hundred years ago it was the site of Linn Duchaill, one of the first Viking settlements, which rivalled Dublin in size and importance.

Folklore said it was there, but all traces of it had disappeared, until a group of archaeologists and local historians set out to prove its existence. Extensive field research and test digs have now done that. What they found was a huge fortified settlement up to 150 acres in size, established by 841AD where the Vikings built and repaired their ships, traded and raided into the surrounding countryside.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Malta is Not Yet Multicultural Enough’

Malta may be more multicultural than it was some years back but there is still plenty of “room for improvement”, according to Parliamentary Secretary Jason Azzopardi.

Speaking at a round table discussion marking the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the US, Dr Azzopardi said Malta was not multicultural enough.

Fellow panellist and Labour party education spokesman Evarist Bartolo echoed the sentiment, saying “multiculturalism is still not part of Maltese heritage”.

Malta, he said, was still gripped by a “monocultural mindset” that it had to overcome and the island was not doing enough to create a multicultural society.

Last month, two separate studies by SOS Malta and the UN refugee agency noted the absence of integration between Maltese citizens and the immigrant community.

Dr Azzopardi used the example of his hometown, Paola, as an example of a community which had learned to embrace diversity. Paola hosts Malta’s only mosque, an Islamic cultural centre and the Mariam Al Batool school. He suggested expanding the existing concept of town twinning to towns in different continents, for residents in both towns to better understand each other’s way of life, values and concerns.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, who delivered the discussion’s concluding remarks, also touched on the multicultural theme.

Diversity, he argued, could be a source of strength rather than weakness. Multiculturalism did not mean assimilating everyone into one fixed culture. It was society, Dr Gonzi said, which had to adapt to multiculturalism.

Dr Gonzi also mentioned ongoing events following the Arab Spring and said the opportunity for north-south cooperation with the new administrations in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya was “too valuable an opportunity to be missed”.

Imam Mohammed Elsadi said he was “embarrassed” by the perpetrators of September 11, who claimed to be acting in the name of Islam. In the long run, he said, Islam emerged as the greatest victim of these acts.

“Wherever we [Muslims] go, we are seen as terrorists or terrorists-to-be,” he said.

In a veiled criticism of the US, Imam Elsadi reminded the audience that some countries had billions to spend on wars but not that much to spend on peace or education. It was only through education, he continued, that intolerance and extremism could be overcome.

“The clash of civilisations is a clash of ignorance.”

Tayyibah Taylor, editor-in-chief of Azizah magazine and one of the panellists, reminded the audience that “violent extremism does not occur in a vacuum”.

Policies had to be driven by a sense of reconciliation and resolution rather than revenge if they were to succeed in healing wounds and bringing people together.

Speaking from the floor, Dutch Ambassador Robbert Gabriëlse said integration and multiculturalism in general had been a success.

The problem, he argued, was the gap between the public’s perception of events and what was actually happening in reality.

The round table discussion was organised by the US Embassy in collaboration with the Australian High Commission, and chaired by social anthropologist Ranier Fsadni. The panel included US chargè d’affairs Richard Mills, Chief Rabbi of Malta Admor HaCohen, Australian High Commissioner Anne Quinane and Dr Jacqueline Azzopardi, a lecturer in criminology at the University of Malta.

           — Hat tip: PJ[Return to headlines]

Metal Theft ‘Epidemic One of Biggest Threat to UK’s Heritage’

Officials from English Heritage, which maintains Bishop’s Palace, warned last night that the “current metal theft epidemic is one of the biggest threats to this country’s heritage”.


Officers have been left appalled that criminals have targeted what was once one of the most important buildings in the country.


“We have limited resources so these increased security costs come out of the budget normally reserved for the ongoing maintenance of the sites in our care.”


“Clearly this is quite a prominent building in the area but hundreds of other churches and buildings have been targeted over the past several months,” he said.

… Yesterday, it emerged that thieves stole the bronze statue of a Second World War soldier from a memorial in Tidworth, Wilts, to sell on as scrap metal. Grainy CCTV footage shows two men taking 40 minutes to remove the £10,000 sculpture, commissioned for the garrison town, from its plinth.

At the weekend, York Minster became the latest victim of metal thieves, as historic plaques worth thousands of pounds were wrenched from the walls of the Grade I listed Gothic cathedral.

It followed other recent incidents including an entire village of Newton-on-Trent, Lincs, being plunged into darkness after the electricity was cut off when thieves stole more than 1,000 metres of overhead cabling.

[Note from Egghead: asks, “Are these thieves British?” Surely, a question worth asking as Islam steamrollers all indigenous cultures.]

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Missing Link in Roman Conquest of Germany a ‘Sensational Find’

Archaeologists are celebrating the find of a Roman military camp which was a crucial link in Emperor Augustus’ conquest of Germany — after more than a century of looking for it. The find, near the small town of Olfen not far from Münster near the Ruhr Valley, has already produced a collection of artefacts, not only pottery but also coins and clothing fasteners. These enabled researchers at the Westphalia-Lippe Municipal Association (LWL) to confirm what they had hoped.

“It’s a sensational discovery for Roman research in Westphalia,” LWL-director Wolfgang Kirsch said in a statement. He said the newly-discovered Roman camp marks the end of a hunt that started more than 100 years ago to find the “missing link” in the chain of Roman camps on the Lippe River.

“Olfen was strategically very important for the legionaries during the Drusus campaigns in Germania,” LWL’s chief archaeologist Michael Rind said in a statement. Roman soldiers used the camp from 11 to 7 B.C. as a base to control the river crossing — which makes the find one of the most important logistical landmarks of the Roman conquerors, he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New York Times Spotlights Norway Rape

“One in ten Norwegian women over the age of 15 has been raped,” The New York Times has reported in an article seized upon by Norway’s media on Wednesday. The article tells the chilling story of a wife made victim by her husband, while Norway’s Secretariat of the Shelter Movement is a source for rape figures. Ministry of Justice numbers point to 80 percent of such cases going unreported, with a 10 percent conviction rate for the few cases that end in court, the report says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Scotland: Woman Raped at Glasgow ‘Anti-Greed’ Occupy Protest Camp

A woman has been raped in a tent at the site of an anti-capitalist demonstration in Glasgow city centre.

The 28-year-old was attacked at about 00:45 on Wednesday in George Square, at the protest camp.

The camp was set up on 15 October as part of an “anti-greed movement” taking place around the world.

Strathclyde Police said an investigation had been launched into the serious sexual assault and officers were at the scene.

A spokeswoman for the force said: “Police received a report of a serious sexual assault on a 28-year-old woman in George Square.

“Officers are still at the scene and inquiries are continuing.”

The protest in George Square was organised in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, which began last month in New York’s financial district.

The campaign is against “injustices” in the global economic system, including the UK bank bailouts.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Swede Shocked by Backyard Elk ‘Threesome’

A man in western Sweden was greeted by an unusual sight on Wednesday morning when he saw three elk engaged in what appeared to be group sex in his backyard. “I had just gone out on the balcony to get some fresh air,” Peter Lundgren, a 43-year-old marketing manager from Lindome, south of Gothenburg, told The Local. “They were eating apples and then suddenly they assumed the position.” Lundgren quickly grabbed his camera to document the young male elk mounting an older female elk which in turn appeared to be sniffing or licking the rear end of another young male elk.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Muslims in Bulgaria Are Facing Persecution Campaigns

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — “Islam Online” website mentioned that a wave of ethnic and religious acts of violence broke out in Bulgaria in the period that preceded the presidential elections that were held on October 23, 2011, where some citizens attacked racial minorities and Muslims and broke into the mosques in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, and its second largest city, Plovdiv.

Earlier, a number of Bulgarian political symbols and citizens gathered to denounce the brutal attacks against Banya Bashi Mosque, one of the historical mosques in the country that is located outside the borders of the capital. The attack came after a violent demonstration held by the supporters of the extremist rightist “Ataka” party, protesting on broadcasting the Adhan [for the prayer] through speakers, knowing that the demonstrators ended up setting the mosque’s carpets on fire and throwing stones at the prayer attendants.

Commenting on these events, Dr. Mustapha Haji, the Mufti of Bulgaria and the Head of the Muslim community there, confirmed to “The National” newspaper that “these events were absolutely not expected, and that they created a state of anxiety within the Islamic and Christian arenas that have never witnessed such wickedness before.”

In spite of the radical discourse promoted by the extremist rightist “Ataka” party, the act of burning the mosque and attacking the prayer attendants did not achieve any of the goals aspired by the radical rightist currents, for many political symbols and the civil society institutions, in addition to millions of Bulgarian citizens, conclusively rejected the attempts to incite confessional and religious sensitivities that could result in the country’s disruption.

His Eminence, the innovative Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra), says: “Dear loved ones, when we face our reality, we find out that an international war is waged against Islam and Muslims under the titles of Islamic “terrorism”, Islamic “extremism” and Islamic “radicalism”. Let the people know that we are not radical in the western sense of radicalism which means to cancel the other and not to recognize him; whereas, Islam actually recognized the People of the Book, coexisted with them and did not cancel them…

We are not extremists, but committed, and there exists quite a difference between extremism that oversteps the natural limits of things and commitment that insists on the nature of things. We are not fanatic, but open-minded, for we call for dialogue and debating with the word that is best. We might be weak in certain positions, but we, as a nation, enjoy many points of strength and all we ought to do is organize them bring them together and render them active in the world…

The battle between the arrogant and the downtrodden goes way back in time, and we ought to prepare ourselves for this battle in a civilized manner; i.e. in an Islamic way; thus, beware of all the methods used to derail you from the line of reasoning and balance…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Yes, I Criticise Certain Aspects of Islam, But Don’t Call Me a Bigot’, Demands Islamophobic Bigot

Writing the Guardian, of all places, Patrick Sookhdeo once again declares that he’s not an Islamophobe. If you’re inclined to swallow that claim have a quick look through the entries under “Sookhdeo” on Islamophobia Watch.

Or check out the list of publications on the Barnabus Fund’s website. In addition to Sookhdeo’s own works, including Slippery Slope: The Islamisation of the UK, Global Jihad: The Future in the Face of Militant Islam and The Challenge of Islam to the Church and its Mission, we find such booklets as Islam and Truth (which examines “the growing challenge which Islam poses to Western society, culture and Church”), Islam and Slavery (which “shows that slavery is accepted uncritically in the Qur’an and sharia and is supported by the example of Muhammad”) and Islam in Britain (which exposes “the way in which the UK is becoming subtly islamised”).

But don’t get the idea that Sookhdeo and his friends view the Muslim community in an entirely negative light. Muslims can of course be saved from the fires of hell by conversion to Sookhdeo’s brand of right-wing fundamentalist Christianity. So the Barnabus Fund also publishes Breaking Through the Barriers: Leading Muslims to Christ, which “deals with the crucial differences between Islam and Christianity and answers important questions, such as: Is the God of the Bible the same as Allah”. To which the answer, we strongly suspect, is a resounding “no”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: BBC Trust to Undertake a Review of the Impartiality and Accuracy of Their Coverage of the Events Known as the ‘Arab Spring’

As part of a continuing assessment of BBC output, the BBC Trust is about to undertake a review of the impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of the events known as the ‘Arab Spring’ details of which are available on:

The BBC are keen to hear from individuals, groups or organisations with a view on the impartiality or accuracy of the coverage of Arab Spring. If you feel you will be able to contribute to this review, please email:

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 9th November at 4pm.

[JP note: The BBC could make a start by sacking its Middle East correspondent, Jeremy Bowlegs — discredited anti-semite and apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood. While they’re at it they might also like to consider releasing the Balen Report — ]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Beaten to a Pulp: Face of the Father Left Unrecognisable by Gang of Robbers Who Stole His Wedding Ring

Up to 15 people punched, kicked and stamped on the head of Joseph Frederic, 38

A father-of-three was beaten to a bloody pulp by a gang of as many as 15 thugs who stole his wedding ring and mobile phone.

Joseph Frederic, 38, was punched to the ground before the gang repeatedly kicked him and stamped on his head.

The only description Mr Frederic was able to offer police is that he believes all the attackers were black.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Diet Islamism

[Reader comment on 27 October 2011 at 5:27 am.]

A favourite tactic of those who are desperate to present Islamism in a positive light is often to qualify it as “moderate”; the BBC loves to do this. Diet Islamism apparently reduces the chances of Koranic heart disease and is the preferred choice for leftard consumers everywhere, especially those eager to embrace the taste of the original whilst avoiding piling on extra stonings.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Hunt for Worthing “Poo Thief”

A bag-snatcher on a bicycle pinched a bag of poo from an elderly dog-walker in Worthing.

The thief rode past the pensioner near the Post Office in High Street, Tarring, and grabbed a bag she had been using to clean up after her dog.

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: “A male on his pushbike came past her and snatched the bag, perhaps thinking that there was something of value inside.

“The lady was not harmed and clearly the thief stole nothing of value.”

The crime took place at 10.45am on Sunday.

The suspect was described as a black teenager.

Anyone with information is asked to call Sussex Police on 0845 6070999.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Islamophobia Off Our Campuses

Public meeting, called by the Enough Coalition Against Islamophobia
6:30pm, Thursday 27th October 2011
Room 3E, University of London Union, Malet Street, London
Following on from the successful Enough Coalition against Islamophobia summer conference in May 2011, we are now focusing on a very important aspect of Islamophobia that has affected many of us and that will continue to be a source of great injustice for many more if we do not speak out now. Join the Enough Coalition on Thursday 27th October to discuss Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim hatred on our campuses.
Joining us on the panel are:
Dr Daud Abdullah (British Muslim Initiative)
Sanum Ghafoor (Student, blogger and activist)
Alaa Al Samarrai (FOSIS)
Hicham Yezza (Nottingham Uni — Editor of Ceasefire — and student who was arrested for printing the Al Qaeda manual)
Chris Nineham (Stop the War Coalition and Enough Coalition against Islamophobia)

Others To Be Confirmed! Free entry, all welcome.

Facebook event page —

Facebook — Enough Coalition Against Islamophobia

Twitter — @enoughcoalition Event Hashtag #ECiphobiaUni

The Enough Coalition was established to tackle the rising tide of Islamophobia in the UK and confront anti-Muslim hatred. It brings together a coalition of organisations including Stop the War Coalition, Friends of Al-Aqsa, British Muslim Initiative, Federation of Students Islamic Societies, One Society Many Cultures, Unite Against Fascism, London Muslim Centre and the Islamic Forum of Europe.

[JP note: A better conference, surely, would be extremist Islamic hate preachers OFF our campuses? Starting with the traitor and extremist Dr Daud Abdullah. I hope the security services will be monitoring this event.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Repeat Offenders Responsible for Half a Million Crimes

More than half a million crimes were committed by known offenders last year, with half carried out by career criminals.

The crimes were all committed by repeat offenders and included 3,400 serious violent or sexual offences. It is the first time such figures have been released and more than 270,000 offences were by criminals who had at least 25 previous convictions or cautions to their name.

Separate figures showed 134 dangerous criminals were suspected of carrying out serious further offences such as murder, rape and other violence despite being monitored by the authorities. The figures once again raise questions over the ability of the justice system to rehabilitate offenders. Prisons minister Crispin Blunt said: “Reoffending in this country is unacceptably high and these statistics underline the urgent need for steps to reform the system and introduce a rehabilitation revolution to our prisons and community sentences.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: The Country Has Had Enough of Deception

It’s time to close the yawning gap between the ruling and the ruled

How’s this for a starkly unequivocal promise?

‘The European Union has evolved significantly since the last public vote on membership over 30 years ago. Liberal Democrats, therefore, remain committed to an in/out referendum the next time a British Government signs up for fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and the EU.’

Such was the solemn manifesto pledge made to the British people by every Lib Dem candidate who stood for election less than 18 months ago.

Yet on Monday night, guess how many of the party’s 57 MPs stood by that promise and voted for a Commons motion approving the principle of an EU referendum that would include an in/out option? The shocking answer is just one — Adrian Sanders of Torbay — a solitary honourable man in a party of puppets.

As with tuition fees, the other 56 apparently thought nothing of breaking their word to the people who voted them into power.

Or how about this for another unequivocal manifesto pledge?

‘We will be positive members of the European Union but we are clear that there should be no further extension of the EU’s power over the UK without the British people’s consent. We will ensure that by law, no future Government can hand over areas of power to the EU or join the euro without a referendum of the British people.’

So said the Conservatives, every one of them, before that same election in May 2010 — and all praise to the 96 (out of 306) Tories who mounted the biggest rebellion in their party’s modern history on Monday night, keeping their word to their constituents and defying their leader’s orders to vote against the motion.

But given that manifesto pledge, what in the name of integrity possessed David Cameron to impose a three-line whip in the first place, instructing his MPs to breach their electors’ trust on pain of losing their government jobs or their hopes of promotion to the front bench?

And how profoundly depressing and unedifying to see those lifelong Eurosceptics William Hague and Michael Gove wriggling like maggots on a hook as they betrayed every belief about Europe they’ve espoused throughout their political careers…

Remember Labour’s 2005 manifesto pledge on the new European Constitution? ‘We will put it to the British people in a referendum.’ Nothing, surely, could have been more unequivocal.

Yet when it came to signing the Lisbon Treaty, in which the new constitution was enshrined, Gordon Brown conveniently forgot about it. Or, rather, he fobbed off the public with the monstrous lie that Lisbon (referred to in official documents as ‘the Constitutional Treaty’) was not, in fact, a European Constitution at all.

The Tories and Lib Dems were no better. Both promised explicitly to put the Constitution to a referendum. But as soon as they were in a position to do so, they smirked and said: ‘No point now. Lisbon’s been signed.’

Wherever Europe is concerned, there’s always some snivelling shyster’s excuse, some weasel-worded legalistic technicality seized on by the politicians to wriggle out of their commitment to give the public their say. (And these days, when all else fails, there’s always that catch-all standby: ‘Sorry, old boy. The Coalition agreement won’t allow it.’)

So it is that, one by one, the ancient powers of Britain’s once sovereign Parliament, paid for by the blood of our ancestors, slip away to Brussels — into the hands of unaccountable European Commission, where voters will never be able to touch them again… (read on!)

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: White Man Subjected to Race Attack by Gang of Yobs

Andrew Goodram, 31, suffered a punctured lung and two broken ribs after the gang of four yobs shouted: “white bastard” at him before subjecting him to a vicious assault.

During the beating Mr Goodram, a labourer, was repeatedly kicked in the head, face and body.

One of his attackers then stood over him and stamped on his chest causing was police described as “significant injuries.”

“I’m scared now and when I see groups of Asian people and this attack has changed how I feel about going out.

“When I’m walking around especially on my own I feel intimidated and worried I might get attacked again. The fact is I am not racist and I have got loads of Asian friends and I’m really saddened that this has happened to me.

“I do believe the attack was racially motivated because I am white but I don’t understand why. I thought we are supposed to live together in peace.”

The attackers were Asian and aged between 20 and 30.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Underwater Lava: Eruptions Could Create New Island in the Canaries

What would the island be called? And who would own it? Spewing magma and growing in height, an underwater volcano off the Canary Island of El Hierro has captured the imagination of locals in recent weeks. It could eventually rise from the sea to create a new part of the archipelago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

US Mafia Boss Arrested at Rome Clinic

Warrant issued by Palermo court

(ANSA) — Roma, October 27 — Italian police on Thursday arrested Italo-American mafia boss Rosario Gambino at a Rome clinic where he was being treated.

Police swooped on the 69-year-old Gambino after a Palermo appeals court issued an arrest warrant after his recent release from prison in the northern city of Parma.

Gambino, who is part of the crime family of the same name, worked with his brother to set up an international heroin cartel.

He was sentenced to 45 years in prison in 1983 after being found guilty of selling heroin to undercover police officers in the US as part of an investigation known as Pizza Connection.

At the time their drug operation was accused of importing $600 million worth of heroin into the US every year.

Following an Italian investigation led by the late magistrate Giovanni Falcone in 1985, Gambino was sentenced in absentia in Italy.

Gambino was born as the middle son of Tommaso Gambino in Palermo in 1942. He and his brothers Giuseppe and Giovanni Gambino moved to the United States in 1962.

They are distant relatives of the notorious American crime boss Carlo Gambino who headed one of the major families of the Sicilian Mafia or Cosa Nostra in the US for many years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Violent Shop Robberies Triple in Belgium

26/10/11 — Over the past three years the number of incidents in which violence was used to steal from shops has increased three-fold. Last year alone 915 million euros worth of goods were stolen from Belgian shops.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Mediterranean to Face Grain Crisis by 2030

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, 27 OCT — This is not the first alarm to have been raised about cereal production in the Euro-Mediterranean region. But this time round, the gloomy forecasts contain plentiful data and concrete scenarios that foresee a phase of steep decline in cereal production in the area with predictable consequences — social as well as economic — given that the sector forms the basis of the food chain for many countries. This latest analysis has been made by IPEMED, the forecasting think tank of the Mediterranean world which often concerns itself with food-related issues.

In one of its reports, the institute has stated that there is a risk of a “worsening of the cereal-production situation” in the area, naming the year 2030 as a possible point of collapse for a regions that already lives in “a permanent state of food insecurity”. Behind the dramatic phraseology lie the concerns expressed by a host of experts who continue to stress how cereal crops “have a central role in farming for food-production” in the region. And so, just as with any upheaval affecting our ability to survive from one day to the next, strong — even violent — reactions can be expected from the area’s population.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Arab Spring Activists Win Sakharov Prize

(STRASBOURG) — The European parliament on Thursday awarded its human rights prize to five Arab Spring activists, including the Tunisian man who sparked region-wide uprisings by setting himself on fire. Tunisian fruitseller Mohamed Bouazizi was awarded the Sakharov prize for freedom of thought posthumously, a statement on the parliament’s website said.

The other winners of the 50,000 euro ($70,000) prize are Egypt’s Asmaa Mahfouz, Libyan dissident Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi, Syrian lawyer Razan Zeitouneh and Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat. Bouazizi, an unemployed university graduate, set himself on fire on December 17 to protest abuses under the 23-year regime of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. He died two weeks later. His protest against “incessant humiliation and badgering by the Tunisian authorities” led to Ben Ali’s downfall and “sparked uprisings and vital changes in other Arab countries,” the parliament statement said.

His brother Salem Bouazizi dedicated the prize to all Tunisian people. “I am very happy, I offer this prize to the Tunisian people who succeeded in this revolution,” he said, speaking from Tunisia. “This prize shows international recognition for Mohamed Bouazizi’s role in the Tunisian revolution,” he added. Egypt’s Mahfouz helped organise strikes and protests against Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Dreaming of Spring in Tunisia

by Katharine Cornell Gorka

The whole world seems to be agog with the victory of Islamists in Tunisia. “Moderate Islamists,” they are called. “A historic milestone on Tunisia’s path from autocratic dictatorship to a government that respects the will of the people,” declares Hilary Clinton. “As the first country in the region to put democracy to the test at the polling booth, Tunisia is once again leading the way,” declared British Prime Minister David Cameron. “…An important step forward,” said President Obama. But forward towards what?

The Islamist party Ennahdha has won a strong victory and few seem concerned about it. Indeed many seem to think democracy now has a foothold in the Arab world…

[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Muslims and Christians, If You Don’t Communicate, You Don’t Exist

Muslim-Christian conference in Cairo stress importance of media communication, interfaith dialogue in transitional Egypt.

“We can write anything now!” said an editor of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram to some visiting Danish participants in Cairo as a part of a recent Alexandria-based conference called “Media´s Role for Changing Society and Democracy”. The Egyptian revolution has certainly become a catalyst for free speech and for more political debate in Egyptian media. Yet, the chaotic climate of the revolution has also suffered some backlash. Another editor at Al-Ahram warned that the media in Egypt is now in a political limbo, and can sometimes even motivate the Egyptian public towards sectarian violence and false information.

The conference and the changing media landscape made it clear to all participants that both mass media communication as well as Muslim-Christian dialogue were of immense importance during this time of transition in Egypt. And participants did note that the media has the potential to promote positive dialogue. New media, especially social media sites like YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, has brought new players into the game of mass communication and challenged the hegemony of the “old” regular mass media. Danish participant Peter Fisher-Nielsen pointed out that the limitations created by state censorship have loosened after the revolution, but that the current absence of any limits on what can be discussed in the media also poses a danger for more confrontation. That is why direct dialogue between religious minorities and groups has become more important than ever.

The conference brought together Muslim and Christian activists and leaders to do just that through discussion of the religious media and the on-going Egyptian revolution. Co-organised by the Egyptian Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS) and the Danish Christian organisation Danmission, the conference was conducted by the Forum for Intercultural Dialogue the first week of October. Participants in this cross-cultural forum came from both Egypt and Denmark. Danish Muslims, representing the Muslim minority in a Christian country, and Egyptian Christians, representing a Christian minority in a Muslim country, met each other to talk about their experiences and share hopes for the future.

The main focus of the dialogue was to discuss the media from the point of view of religious organisations: what role did the media play for the democratisation process of Egypt, and what does a free press and the use of new social media tools, such as YouTube and Facebook, mean for the political climate in Egypt?

Delegates at the dialogue conference became first-hand witnesses to the problems with sectarianism and how it was reflected in the media as violence erupted between peacefully demonstrating Copts on Tahrir Square in Cairo and the military. But there is still hope for Egyptian media and civil society. Copts and Muslims talked at the conference about their recent efforts to combat sectarian bias through cooperative action, such as Muslims protecting churches, and Christians and Muslims joining voices in the media for the unification and prosperity of Egypt. One example is the recent joint statement by five Coptic leaders and seven leaders of Gamaa Islamiya — a formerly militant Muslim group — urging both Muslim and Christian youth to listen to the voice of reason and respect religion. Important and sometimes even sensitive issues were discussed among the delegates with mutual respect for each other´s points of view.

The dialogue conference showed open and civic debate between diverse groups was not only possible, but actually happening. During a discussion on a field trip to the pyramids of Giza, a Coptic activist told the Danish delegation: “The dangerous part of the Egyptian revolution is not religious diversity. We are all Egyptians. The danger comes from the failure of some interest groups to realise that we are all Egyptians. Our task is to keep people talking with each other. “

Participants ended the conference by issuing a joint declaration about the importance of dialogue and a free media: “We must not let our lives be run by fear and bias,” said Samira Luca, Director of Dialogue at Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, one of Egypt’s largest organisations aiding poorer communities in the area of economic development, healthcare and education. “Our continuous work for dialogue and peaceful co-existence is not just work, it´s our mission.” Talking about Egyptians, another Egyptian delegate at one of the workshops at the dialogue conference exclaimed, “If you don´t communicate, you don´t exist!” This statement embodies the core of not just the troubles of the Egyptian revolution, but also the future of Muslim-Christian coexistence in the country.

Safia Aoude is a Copenhagen-based lawyer and writer pursuing a Master’s degree in journalism at the Southern University of Denmark. She is also focusing on Islamic and Balkan studies at Copenhagen University. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

[JP note: With the Muslim Brotherhood on the horizon, co-existence would appear to be a one-way street: the Copts may end up not existing like the Armenians. In fact the article title sounds like a covert threat to communicate on Islamic terms only.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

EU Parliament Hails Arab Spring Self-Immolation

BRUSSELS — MEPs in Strasbourg on Thursday (27 October) awarded the Sakharov Prize to five activists including Mohammed Bouazizi — a 27-year-old Tunisian street trader who burned himself to death in December in protest against corruption, inspiring revolutionaries at home and in the region. The four other winners were Egyptian blogger Asmaa Mahfouz, Libyan dissident Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi, who spent 31 years in Colonel Gaddafi’s dungeons, Syrian human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouneh and Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat.

EU parliament President Jerzy Buzek said while making the announcement: “This is an expression of our support for what’s going on in our closest neighbourhood … an expression of solidarity with the Arab world.” Liberal group leader Guy Verhoftsadt said in a written statement: “This recognition is also a pledge from Europe to be there to build upon the achievements of the people.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Libya: MI6 Planted Qaddafi Spy in British Mosques

Britain’s secret intelligence service planted a spy working for the Qaddafi regime inside mosques in England, secret files recovered by Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed. Faxes discovered in September from the abandoned Tripoli offices of Libya’s former head of intelligence, Musa Kusa, exposed how a Libyan agent reported to MI6 on his visits to mosques in England and discussed the surveillance of Libyan ‘Islamists’ living across the UK. The focus of his activities was Manchester, but he also visited Liverpool, Wigan and Blackpool.

The spying operation is the latest indication of the close ties forged between the British and Libyan security services under Tony Blair, then Prime Minister, and Qaddafi. “Many members of Britain’s Muslim community will be extremely concerned about this,” said, Chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, Keith Vaz, who will be asking Foreign Secretary, William Hague, for an explanation.

The files contain details of a meeting between the Libyan agent and his MI6 handler, at the Malmaison hotel in Manchester in December 2003. HRW said that although it is expected for British intelligence services to monitor suspects, their collaboration with a regime “well-known for targeting” its opponents is “inexcusable”. In a statement to The Muslim News a spokesman for HRW said: “What is deeply worrying is the extent of information-sharing that took place between the UK and Libya about these individuals. The UK shared the names, phone numbers, and many personal details of Libyan Islamists residing in the UK with the Libyan intelligence services, and these details could have placed these individuals at risk.

“For decades, the Qaddafi regime persecuted suspected Islamists, imprisoning thousands. Most of the 1,200 detainees massacred at Abu Salim in 1996 were suspected ‘Islamists’, many of them imprisoned on the flimsiest of grounds. “Given these well-known abusive practices of the Qaddafi regime, the intelligence-sharing to the Libyans by the UK Government is simply inexcusable, and put Libyan Muslims who were legally in the UK at risk.”

Muslim organisations have also voiced their concern at the revelations that the Government was using Libyan spies in UK mosques. The Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) spokesperson told The Muslim News it was “appalled by the revelation”. “This Government and the previous one, have missed a key opportunity to foster trust with British Muslims. They need the trust of our community in tackling radical extremism and this development jeopardises that. “Further, we are disappointed to hear that our Government was cooperating with the Libyan regime of Col Qaddafi. His Government was notorious for its use of torture and other abuses of human rights. In a democracy, our intelligence services either answer to an elected minister or they are out of control. We want to know which version is the truth. Only an enquiry in to the matter can resolve this as the select committee on intelligence has proved to be ineffective in getting to the truth.” he said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Libya: Frattini: Europe Must Avoid Islamic Autumn After Spring

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 27 — Europe needs to succeed in interpreting the changes afoot, if it is to avoid the current Arab Spring being followed by an Islamic Autumn, according to the Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, who has been speaking to Radio 24.

“It will depend largely on us. On how we Europeans are able to interpret change with respect for countries that have always had an Islamic order as the basis of their constitutional system, such as Egypt,” he said. The President of Libya’s National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said that “Muslims in Libya are moderate and we take this statement seriously,” Frattini added. “We will stand by Libya and we will be on hand to flag up any violations of rights that we consider inviolable, such as those of women or the right to open a Christian church”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Gaddafi’s Driver, He Was Without Fear But Lost

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 27 — He never showed any fear, but he looked lost, not knowing what to do: this picture of Muammar Gaddafi was sketched by Huneish Nasr — faithful driver of the Libyan leader for 30 years — who witnessed the final days of the colonel before his capture and death in Sirte, his birth city.

From a prison in Misrata where he was taken several days ago together with Mansour Dhao, former head of Gaddafi’s guards, Nasr told the Guardian about the Thursday when Gaddafi was captured by the combatants of the new Libya.

“Everything was exploding. The revolutionaries were coming for us. Gaddafi wasn’t scared, but he didn’t seem to know what to do. It was the only time I ever saw him like that,” said Nasr, looking back on those terrible moments before the battle that would leave him deaf in his right ear. “When the NTC forces arrived, Gaddafi threw his hands up in surrender. He was knocked to the ground with a rifle butt, which blackened his left eye. Gaddafi was being pulled from a drainpipe” said Nasr, who fell to the ground immediately after.

The driver — a member of the Gaddafi tribe — remembered that he was able to get a final glimpse of his “master” before he was swarmed over by the rebels.

One week later, Nasr and Daho seem to be the only survivors of the old loyal guard that stood by the Libyan leader during the five days of the final attack on Sirte, hiding in houses to avoid capture. “If any of the other close staff are still alive, I don’t know where they are or what happened to them,” said Nasr. “The rest of them may be somewhere with the revolutionaries or they may be dead,” he added.

Returning to the memory of the final days of the man he served for a lifetime without any second thoughts, Nasr underlined: “Gaddafi was strange, he was always standing still and looking to the west. Without fear. I was with him for 30 years and I swear by God that I never saw any bad behaviour in him. He was always just the boss. He treated me well,” Nasr added, explaining he received a salary of 800 dinar a month, as well as a house in Sirte.

But one image Nars — now over 60 — would like to forget is seeing the colonel being lowered into an unmarked grave and covered with sand.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Morocco: Strategy to Bring Home Emigrant Capital Studied

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, OCTOBER 27 — The phenomenon of emigration has been present for some time in Morocco and represents one of the kingdom’s main resources. The state now wants to maximise the flow of capital coming in from the diaspora, with the Ministry for the Moroccan Community Resident Abroad (MCMRE) launching a study with the hope of implementing a strategy next year.

The economic situation is favourable, with money transfers from the large community of Moroccans abroad increasing by 8% this month compared to October 2010, and the strategy in question is likely to be orientated towards “accompanying the economic initiatives of [Moroccans resident abroad] and the strengthening of the institutional framework. The idea is to create and stabilise an environment favouring collaboration with all players involved,” said Abdelfettah Sahidi, from the emigration office of the MCMRE.

The newspaper Les Echos writes that the plan will be implemented by mobilising the relevant administrations, collaboration with banking and private sector players and negotiations with partners.

The second aim is to use new legislative, regulatory and financial instruments to set up a legal environment favouring investments by Moroccans residing abroad, an environment therefore more conducive with efforts made to promote such investments.

Another target is to develop a regionalised approach — which would fit neatly with the current political context — of creating a regional investment platform for Moroccans living abroad. The platform would aim to group partners together on a regional level, guaranteeing their compatibility in terms of mechanisms to accompany investment.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mummy Has Oldest Case of Prostate Cancer in Ancient Egypt

Some 2250 years ago in Egypt, a man known today only as M1 struggled with a long, painful, progressive illness. A dull pain throbbed in his lower back, then spread to other parts of his body, making most movements a misery. When M1 finally succumbed to the mysterious ailment between the ages of 51 and 60, his family paid for him to be mummified so that he could be reborn and relish the pleasures of the afterworld.

Now an international research team has diagnosed what ailed M1: the oldest known case of prostate cancer in ancient Egypt and the second oldest case in the world. (The earliest diagnosis of prostate cancer came from the 2700-year-old skeleton of a Scythian king in Russia.) Moreover, the new study now in press in the International Journal of Paleopathology, suggests that earlier investigators may have underestimated the prevalence of cancer in ancient populations because high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) scanners capable of finding tumors measuring just 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter only became available in 2005. “I think earlier researchers probably missed a lot without this technology,” says team leader Carlos Prates, a radiologist in private practice at Imagens Médicas Integradas in Lisbon.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Election: Partial Data, Ennahda Already 85 Seats

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, OCTOBER 27 — Counting is not yet complete in all 27 electoral districts in Tunisia, but partial figures show that Ennahda, the party that won most votes and scored the highest percentages, has already won 85 seats.

The same figures show that the Congress for the Republic (CPR) have won 28 seats, with 26 going to Pétition Populaire, 23 to Ettakatol, 20 to the Parti Démocrate Progressiste, 8 for the Pole Démocrate Moderniste and 5 for Afek Tounes.

Results are due to be made official today by the high electoral commission, but figures are yet to come in for important districts such as Tunis 2, Bizerte, Kasserine and Ariana.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Worse Than Gaddafi?

They call it the Arab spring, but these days it’s looking more and more like a fall backwards. Tunisia has elected an Islamist party to lead a new coalition government. In Egypt, Coptic Christians have been targeted and killed, while a Muslim man recently received a three-year sentence for mocking Islam on his Facebook page. And in his first major address to the Libyan people, the interim head of state, former Gaddafi justice minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil, declared: “As a Muslim country, we have adopted the Islamic Sharia as the main source of law. Accordingly, any law that contradicts Islamic principles with the Islamic Sharia is ineffective legally.”

Jalil went on to reassure Western politicians that the new government’s interpretation of Sharia will be “moderate.” But that moderation already includes the lifting of a ban on polygamy, and permitting a man to take additional wives without asking his first wife for consent. In addition, there are disquieting reports that women married to Gaddafi supporters are being raped as “punishment” for their men’s allegiance.

A similar scenario played out in Iran in 1979, after Shah Reza Pahlavi was deposed and replaced by a theocracy led by the Ayatollah Khomeini; and in Afghanistan in 1996 after the execution of Sovietbacked president Mohammad Najibullah, with Taliban leaders taking his place. Replacing one repressive regime with another is not what the West had in mind when it ordered air strikes on Libya — but it may be exactly what it gets.

Does this mean NATO was wrong in supporting the rebels who chased Gaddafi from power, down to his bloody end? No, not in principle. Gaddafi was a brutal, crazed autocrat who terrorized, tortured and killed thousands of his own people over 40 years. But his successors may prove to be just as bad — or, from a female point of view, even worse. This is why those who hail the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine — the brainchild of Canada’s own International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) — may wish to hold their applause for the moment, even as they celebrate R2P’s 10th anniversary this month. Libya once seemed like a fine example of R2P’s implementation. But just who is “protected” now in Libya is a major question mark. While the men of the country now can breathe easier (unless they were part of the old regime), its women face a new threat of legal and personal oppression.

Sharia is subject to varying interpretations. Saudi Arabia adheres to the most extreme tenets: chopping off hands to punish thieves, and putting gays and lesbians to death, for example. In Iran, female “fornicators” can be stoned to death. But even shariah’s “moderate” interpretations typically turn women into second class citizens, in particular when it comes to family law.

Sharia also represents a social structure wholly alien to Western values. Instead of separating mosque and state, it fuses the two, and imposes social norms governing every aspect of daily life. In her bestselling book, Infidel, Muslim author Ayan Hirsi Ali opined that doctrinaire Islam is incompatible with true democracy because it curtails freedom, in particular the freedom to question and think critically: “By declaring our Prophet infallible and not permitting ourselves to question him, we Muslims had set up a static tyranny — We froze the moral outlook of billions of people into the mind-set of the Arab desert in the seventh century. We were not just servants of Allah, we were slaves.”

Will the people of the new Libya, Egypt and Tunisia become slaves to new Islamist regimes? It is too early to know, but the signs are worrisome. In terms of the West’s influence, at least the NATO campaign gives it a card to play in Libya: that of liberator. How much say the United States and its allies have in that country’s future will depend on aid, trade and security. If R2P is to achieve its goal, then these must be tied to the respect of human rights — for women as well as men.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza: Israel Raid After Rocket, 1st Since Shalit Deal

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, OCTOBER 27 — A triple Israeli air raid was carried out in the early hours of this morning over the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Palestinian hardliners Hamas, after a rocket landed last night close to the Israeli port city of Ashdod, south of Tel Aviv. No casualties have yet been reported, but the incidents represent the first exchange of fire since the agreements of the last few weeks between Israel and Hamas, which were brokered by Egypt, and which resulted in the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit being released 10 days ago after 5 years in captivity in the Gaza Strip in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Local witnesses say that last night’s raids hit at least three different targets in the Khan Younis area, including a training camp for the Izz ad-Din Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. “Israeli aviation hit terrorist sites and an installation used for the production of weapons,” an Israeli military spokesperson said in Tel Aviv.

The raids came a few hours after a medium-range Grad missile was launched from the Gaza Strip, after days of almost absolute calm, following the prisoner swap. The missile exploded in an uninhabited area without causing significant casualties or damage, but landed close to the city of Ashdod, where sirens once again brought moments of fear.

Writing in the Haaretz newspaper, the military analysts Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff have reaffirmed the alarm of Israeli officials over the latest supply of weapons — in particular reliable Russian surface-to-air missiles — that Hamas appears to have smuggled out of the “new Libya”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran: What Will They Think of Next?

by Christopher Hitchens

There may conceivably be a reason to doubt the truth of the Obama administration’s claim that the “Quds Force” of the Islamic Republic of Iran went into the free market for murder in order to suborn the killing of the Saudi ambassador to the United States. But neither the apparently surreal nor the apparently flagrant nature of the thing would constitute such reasons. We have been here before, as a splendid recent book reminds us, and have learned that no allegation made against the goon squads in Tehran can be thought of as prima-facie implausible.

This unmissable book is called Assassins of the Turquoise Palace, by the Iranian exile author Roya Hakakian (who, I am proud to say, I count as a friend). It details the fallout from a murder in Berlin on Sept. 17, 1992. On that date, a group of Iranian Kurdish exiles were in the city to attend a conference of the Socialist International, the umbrella body that links the parties of social democracy. Chief of the delegation was Sadegh Sharefkandi, a man of huge respect in the Kurdish diaspora. As he sat in a restaurant favored by exiles and émigre’s, the Mykonos, he and his associates were machine-gunned in cold blood. The murderers vanished swiftly.

Arguments about motive, method, and opportunity soon began, all of them inevitably muddied in with the paranoias and internecine disputes of political factionalism. Though an obvious finger at first pointed toward Tehran, it was argued that relations between the regime and Germany were good and that it would be irrational for the mullahs to make trouble. It was also suggested that a Kurdish splinter group, the Turkishbased PKK or Kurdistan Workers Party, was responsible instead. (You may have noticed that Tehran is now also arguing for a similar red herring in the case of the Saudi ambassador, citing a shadowy figure who flits in and out of the Mujahedin Khalq and other circles opposed to the Khameini regime.)

However, it was not long before more serious forensic evidence began to emerge from the Mykonos affair. In the waning days of Ayatollah Khomeini’s life, a special department had been set up for the physical elimination of critics and opponents of his regime. These were to be targeted and taken off the chessboard, whether they lived in Iran or overseas. Money was available, as were weapons. Safe houses and false identities were provided for those willing to do the dirty work. Gradually, the German authorities came to realize that their own soil was being used for the settling of scores by a nightmare regime with which they were doing lucrative business.

Hakakian’s book has a number of heroes, many of them Kurdish and Iranian secularists who have risked everything to keep the idea of resistance alive. But one would have to give a special acknowledgement to Bruno Jost, the German prosecutor who ended up risking everything to expose the machinations of the death squads. Those of you who have seen Costa-Gavras’ Z will be entirely gripped by this tale, which unfolded at a time when trade and commercial relations between Germany and Iran were almost indecently warm. Iran’s former minister of intelligence, Ali Fallahian, thought this close relationship would head off any inconvenient inquiries. But in the end, a four-year trial managed to call 176 witnesses, to successfully protect from intimidation those willing to testify, and to hand down a series of deadly accurate indictments.

The Islamic Republic of Iran was definitively shown to be in the business of state-supported murder, outside its own borders as well as within. Not only Germany but all European Union members recalled their ambassadors from Iran. And the streets outside the courthouse were filled with thousands of jubilant Iranian democrats, who just for once saw true justice done. It’s hard for the reader not to weep at this point, as I did. I must urge you to get hold of this book.

The phenomenon — of governments keeping special departments for criminal activity — is not confined to Iran. In the Financial Times, Mansoor Ijaz recently revealed the existence of “Section S” of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The purpose of this office, sometimes known as “S-Wing,” is to maintain relations to the Taliban and Haqqani network, writes Ijaz, a Pakistani-American who once negotiated with Sudan for the Clinton administration. Shortly after the killing of Osama Bin Laden in May, he was approached by a representative of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, seeking a meeting with the White House. At this meeting Pakistan, having hitherto denied the existence of Section S, would offer to shut it down in return for concessions!

It was by this means, among others, that Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was able to determine that the ISI was shopping on both sides of the Afghan street, and that the United States was helping finance the murder and sabotage of its own troops and allies. Again, it is the sheer absence of embarrassment that takes the breath away. We have been betraying you, and now wish to be further bribed to stop doing so. (Didn’t Flaubert have a banker who was so corrupt that he would willingly have paid for the pleasure of selling himself?)

I notice that reporting of Pakistani double-dealing has improved since Zardari came clean in this way. We can even read first-hand accounts of Pakistani shelling of American and Afghan forces, launched directly across the border in broad daylight. We also have the impossibly arrogant Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayhani, Pakistan’s uniformed satrap, saying that he will need to keep the Haqqani network armed and on his official payroll even as coalition forces try to mount an orderly handover and withdrawal.

Finally, since mentioning BernardHenri Lévy’s celebrated timeline of Pakistani perfidy from May 2005, I have received several requests to make it easier to find. It can be read at http: // 957zk. It is the record of an extraordinarily successful effort to deceive Congress, and to manipulate American aid and strategy, over a distressingly long period of time. Again, the principal method was the horse-trading in Taliban and alQaeda figures against whom Islamabad only claimed to be fighting. There is a common lesson in all these examples: Never assume that the totalitarian or terrorist enemy is smart enough to conceal his tracks. Indeed, don’t always assume that he is even interested in doing so. The utter nerve of it is often part of the strategy in the first place.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Geagea Misses Prison, Insults Islam, Sayyed Nasrallah

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — A hearing was held on Wednesday in the office of Beirut Magistrate, Shawki Hajjar, for the lawsuit filed by lawyer Mai Khansa against Samir Geagea, accusing him of libel and slander crimes, for insulting the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his eminence Secretary General of Hezbollah Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah. The lawyer Lebbos attended on behalf of Samir Geagea, while Hajjar received a copy of the complaint and will wait until the submission of formal defenses until 22/11/2011. “The article editor on the Lebanese Forces website has extremely offended Muslims, describing them by ugliest epithets. The responsible is the leader of Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea, who should be held accountable for this,” Khansa told Al-Manar Website. “The law should take its course in this case, under the respect of religions and realization of the right”, Khansa added. “What happened belongs to felonies which exceeded Libel and slander. There is terror, intimidation, incitement and fomenting strife between the sects,” the lawyer Khansa concluded.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Russia Links Chechens Shot in Turkey to Bombing

Two Chechens shot dead in Turkey last month are suspected of involvement in a January suicide bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport that killed 37 people, investigators said Wednesday. Berg-Hadj Musayev, Zaurbek Amriyev and Rustam Altemirov were shot dead on Sept. 16 in a parking lot in Istanbul, in a killing that was blamed on Russian special services by a Turkish-based support group for refugees from the Caucasus.

The Investigative Committee said it was probing the murders of Amriyev and Altemirov as part of an investigation into the Jan. 24 suicide bombing at Domodedovo Airport. The third Chechen, Musayev, has been closely linked to Chechen warlord Doku Umarov, according to, a web site affiliated with the Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Nayef Leads Procession of Mourners

Riyadh: Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, who died on Saturday in New York, was buried after a funeral service in Riyadh yesterday. Several heads of state and high-ranking officials from around the world, joined King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, and other members of the royal family as well as senior Saudi officials and scholars in funeral prayers held at Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh’s Deera after Asr prayer. His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, headed the UAE delegation.

The Vice-President was accompanied by a high official delegation that included General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah. Shaikh Ammar Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Crown Prince of Ajman, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Hamad Bin Mohammad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, Shaikh Rashid Bin Saud Bin Rashid Al Mualla, Crown Prince of Umm Al Quwain, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah, and Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Adviser to President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, were also part of the delegation.

Thousands of mourners, including citizens and expatriates, also attended the prayer. Later, the body was buried in the Al Oud cemetery, some five kilometres from the mosque.

Millions of people, including Haj pilgrims, attended funeral prayers held at the Haram Mosque in Makkah, the Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque in Madinah and thousands of other mosques across the Kingdom. This was in line with an order issued by King Abdullah on Monday to offer funeral prayers in absentia (Salat Al Ghaib) for the departed crown prince at all mosques throughout the Kingdom.

A large contingent of leaders, including kings, crown princes, heads of state, prime ministers, and top officials from more than 100 countries gathered in Riyadh to pay respects to Crown Prince Sultan, who is also popularly known as Sultan Al Khair (Prince of Charity). They included US Vice-President Joe Biden, Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito, Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, Spanish Crown Prince Felipe de Borbon, Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Malaysian Prime Minister Najeeb Razak, Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, Comoros President Dr Ikililou Dhoinine, and Brunei Crown Prince Al Muhtadee Billah.


Syrian President Bashar Al Assad was represented by his uncle Rafa’at Al Assad. High ranking officials heading delegations of various countries included Indian Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Maldives’ Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr Abdul Majeed Bari, and Sri Lanka’s Senior Minister for Good Governance and Infrastructure Ratnasiri. The leaders also conveyed condolences to King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz and other key members of the royal family. Security has been beefed up across the capital in view of the presence of a large number of world leaders and dignitaries.

Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz led the procession of thousands of mourners who attended prayers and burial services of the crown prince amid tight security. Prince Sultan was laid to rest at the city’s sprawling Al Oud Cemetery in a simple grave in keeping with Islamic burial traditions. Thousands of people, including Saudis and migrant workers, gathered at the mosque to offer funeral prayers and later at the cemetery witnessing burial rites. The mood among the populace was very sombre. The cemetery, where the late King Fahd, King Khalid, King Faisal and Prince Sultan’s father King Abdul Aziz are also buried, is a common burial ground for the general public as well as for the members of the royal family in the capital city. Prince Sultan died at a New York hospital on Saturday morning after a prolonged illness. His body was flown into the Kingdom on Monday evening. King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz was in the forefront of royals and top officials who were present at Riyadh Air Base to receive the body that arrived from New York on a Saudi Arabian Airlines’ flight at 7.05pm.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Large Lebanese Delegation Headed by Hariri and Siniora Offers Condolences in Riyadh

A large Lebanese delegation, headed by former Prime Ministers Saad Hariri and Fouad Siniora, and composed of MPs and politicians representing “March 14” forces as well as a number of sheikhs and economic and media figures, offered condolences today to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz and the Saudi leadership, on the passing of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz.

Earlier, Premier Hariri hosted in his residence in Riyadh a lunch in honor of the delegation. It was an occasion to discuss the political situation and the developments on the Arab scene. Hariri underlined the importance of solidarity to face challenges, especially concerning Lebanon and the obligations of the Lebanese state towards the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, stressing that the assassination of former Prime minister Rafik Hariri, like other political assassinations that targeted many Lebanese symbols and leaders, is an issue that concerns all the Lebanese and not only one political group or one community. He added that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was established to achieve truth and justice, to put an end to political assassinations in Lebanon, and to end the era of the forceful imposition of political choices and of terrorism as a mean to punish political opponents.

Hariri also lauded the role played by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, in support of Lebanon. He said: “Our presence together here to offer condolences on the passing of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, aims to express the deep links that exist between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, and pay tribute to the great deceased, who loved Lebanon and was very attached to its stability and to the unity of its citizens”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: World Dignitaries Mourn Sultan

RIYADH: Hundreds of grief-stricken royal family members, world leaders and diplomats including Britain’s Prince Charles, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Henrik of Denmark, with more than 60 ambassadors stationed in Riyadh offered their condolences Wednesday to the Saudi royal family over the death of Prince Sultan.

“A large number of them signed the book of condolences opened by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Alaudeen A. Alaskary, deputy minister for protocol affairs. Many other prominent foreign dignitaries who presented their condolences included Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Spanish Crown Prince Felipe de Borbon, Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, President of Austrian Federal Council (Senate) Susanne Neuwirth and Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chief of Libyan Transitional National Council.

Alaskary, who received the foreign envoys on behalf of Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, said that many envoys and foreign dignitaries signed the condolence book and met with Prince Saud to convey their sadness. Some of the royals and high-ranking officials offered their condolences and met with Prince Naif, second deputy premier and minister of interior, Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman, and Prince Khaled bin Sultan, assistant minister of defense and aviation. The French defense minister met Prince Khaled in a separate meeting. Prince Khaled, on this occasion, expressed thanks for the visit of French minister and reaffirmed “the strong relations between the Kingdom and France.” Alaskary said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Yamamah Palace had been receiving local and foreign officials in large numbers since the first day (Tuesday) of the three-day mourning announced by the Kingdom.

Speaking on this occasion, Spanish Ambassador Pablo Bravo said Spanish Crown Prince Felipe was received at the Royal Court by Prince Salman and Prince Khaled. Felipe, who presented his condolences, wrapped up his visit to Riyadh on Wednesday evening. A spokesman of the Japanese Embassy confirmed Crown Prince Naruhito met with Prince Salman and Prince Khaled at Yamamah Palace on Wednesday night. Among other important leaders and officials who offered their condolences included Australian Minister of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Kim Carr, Ukraine Minister of Defense Mykhailo Yezhel, Gabon’s Premier Paul Biyoghe Mba, former Lebanese Premier Fouad Siniora and the Italian deputy foreign minister. At Riyadh Air Base, these officials were received by Prince Sattam, deputy governor of Riyadh and a number of Saudi officials.

Meanwhile, King Abdullah received a telephone call from King Juan Carlos of Spain in which he offered his condolences to the king. A large number of dignitaries arrived late Tuesday. They included former Prime Minister of South Korea Sung Soo-han and Minister of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina Selmo Cikotic. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met Prince Naif on Tuesday to offer his condolences. Prince Salman and Prince Khaled were also present during their meeting. Pakistan’s PML-Q Chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and chief of the army staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani accompanied Zardari. The condolences will be officially accepted until Oct. 27 (Thursday). The governors of different regions will also be receiving citizens and officials during this period.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Saudia Arabia: A Fond Farewell Amidst Speculation

In the mist of the current Arab volatility, and the [political] hurricane that has passed, and is passing through numerous [Arab] states, it was interesting to see the attention that international circles and the international media paid to the general state of grief and sorrow that accompanied the news of the passing of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz. This is not to mention the comments issued by state officials in various countries around the world praising the virtues of the departed, as well as his role as a statesman.

The most perfect epitaph for any public figure or statesman can be found in the love and honor he is afforded by his own people, as well as the regional and international community, not to mention the manner in which his exploits are remembered. This is something that was clear to see in the public response in Saudi Arabia to the news of the death of Crown Prince Sultan, who was famous for his acts of kindness and his support for various charitable and humanitarian organizations. This clear appreciation and recognition of Prince Sultan was clear to see in the comments made by ordinary people on social networking sites, particularly as such websites are more open — thanks to their populist nature — than the mainstream media. As for the predictions for the future that were put forward on these social networking sites, many of these were closer to rumor than to reality.

Whilst the regional and international response to Prince Sultan’s death, and the participation of foreign delegations from across the world [traveling to Saudi Arabia to attend the funeral], reflects the status of this statesman and his relations with the Arab and international world. This is something that is clear, whether with regards to Prince Sultan’s relations with the Arab world, or his pursuit of Saudi interests on the international scene. This is not to mention the regional and international status of Saudi Arabia, where Prince Sultan was one of the pillars of governance for many years.

It is natural that the passing of a crown prince should be met with regional and international attention being paid to the issue of succession following the death of the heir apparent, particularly in a country that has become — over the past decade — one of the pillars of regional stability, playing a vital role in the international economy and political arena. This is something that was clear in the western and international media coverage of Prince Sultan’s death, with speculation being put forward on this issue, even though the roadmap is clear from scrutinizing the internal [political] arrangement that have been in place for years.

It is also natural that there should be exceptional interest in the death of Prince Sultan, which has dwarfed previous examples of the death of important figures or changes in the leadership. This is due to the current conditions being experienced by the Middle East, whose future is uncertain and ambiguous following the revolutions and uprisings that have taken place since the beginning of the year and which have resulted in a number of pivotal regional countries finding themselves at the political crossroads. Therefore the stability of the Gulf region in general, and Saudi Arabia in particular, represents a safety valve for the entire region, with regards to the region facing an uncertain future. The general impression given by the international and regional media is that there is a state of confidence that stability will not be harmed, and that there are no grounds for concern in this regard.

(The writer is is Asharq al-Awsat’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief. The article was published in the London-based daily on Oct. 25, 2011.)

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Spanish Consortium to Build High-Speed Train in Desert

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 27 — A Spanish consortium made up of twelve Spanish companies and two Saudi firms will build the high-speed railway line that is to connect Medina and Mecca, a 450 kilometre stretch that will transport an estimated 160,000 passengers per day.

The contract, which is worth 6.736 billion euros, was awarded by the Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO) on its website, and confirmed by Spain’s Infrastructure Ministry, which said that it was the largest international contract ever awarded to Spanish firms. The deal includes the design and construction of the railway line and the supply of 35 trains capable of reaching speeds of more than 300 kilometres per hour, with the option to purchase 23 further trains, as well as the management and maintenance of the line for a period of 12 years. The Spanish businesses involved in the Spanish-Saudi Al Shoula Group consortium include public companies such as Adif, Renfe and Ineco, which is controlled by the Ministry of Infrastructure, and private firms such as OHL, Indra, Talgo, Consultrans, Copasa, Imathia, Cobra, Dimetronic, Inabensa, and the Saudi groups Al Shoula and Al Rosan. Spanish companies control 88% of the consortium, while Saudis have the remaining 12%.

“This project enhances the development of high-level technology, which has put Spain at the forefront of the sector worldwide,” sources at Indra told ANSAmed. The company will be responsible for producting rail traffic management systems on the high-speed line for pilgrims, as well as telecommunications, ticketing and security, for a total cost of 440 million euros.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spanish Firms Win Mega-Deal to Build Saudi High-Speed Line

The Saudi Railways Organization on Wednesday said it had approved the award of a multi-billion-euro contract to a Spanish-led consortium to build a high-speed lane linking the holy cities of Mecca, and Medina, as well as Jeddah.

Spanish firms to build high-speed train to Mecca. Phase 2 of the Haramain High Speed Rail Project (HHR) was assigned to the Al -Shoula consortium, which includes, apart from Spain’s state-owned rail operator Renfe and the operator of its railway network Adif, other Spanish companies such as builder OHL, information-technology company Indra, the train and rolling-stock manufacturer Talgo, and Cobra, a unit of leading constriction group ACS.

The budget for the project amounts to 6.5 billion euros. Spanish companies control 88 percent of the consortium, with the remaining 12 percent in Saudi hands.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: Would Muslims Accept Iran as Leader of a New Caliphate?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked a great deal about the possibility that the so-called Arab Spring could be laying the groundwork for a renewed Islamic Caliphate.

The only question might be: who will lead it?

Iran has been making a strong push to do just that. But would the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim world accept the Shia Persians at the head of the Caliphate?

I say yes—at least until Israel and America are eliminated.

Read more at the above link, including an excerpt from my recent interview with a member of the radical group, Hizb ut-Tahrir.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

Syria: After Damascus, New Major Loyalist Rally in Latakia

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, OCTOBER 27 — Thousands of supporters of President Bashar Al Assad have gathered in the main square of Latakia, Syria’s main port city to the north-east of Damascus, to express their support for the “reforms” and to thank Russia and China for siding with the regime. Syrian state television is showing live coverage of the “march of a million” in Latakia, which is the main centre of the community of Alawites, a branch of Shi’ite Islam to which the Assad family themselves belong. It is the fourth major gathering of loyalists in Syria in the last ten days. The first was held in Damascus, the second in Aleppo and the third, yesterday, again in the capital. A few days ago, anti-regime demonstrators called a general strike, which has been joined by citizens of the main epicentres of the uprising, in the regions of Deraa, Homs, Hama, Idlib and certain suburbs of Damascus.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Taking Sides in Syria, Turkey Shelters Militia Fighting Assad

Once one of Syria’s closest allies, Turkey is hosting an armed opposition group waging an insurgency against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, providing shelter to the commander and dozens of members of the group, the Free Syrian Army, and allowing them to orchestrate attacks across the border from inside a camp guarded by the Turkish military.

The support for the insurgents comes amid a broader Turkish campaign to undermine Mr. Assad’s government. Turkey is expected to impose sanctions soon on Syria, and it has deepened its support for an umbrella political opposition group known as the Syrian National Council, which announced its formation in Istanbul. But its harboring of leaders in the Free Syrian Army, a militia composed of defectors from the Syrian armed forces, may be its most striking challenge so far to Damascus.

On Wednesday, the group, living in a heavily guarded refugee camp in Turkey, claimed responsibility for killing nine Syrian soldiers, including one uniformed officer, in an attack in restive central Syria.

[Return to headlines]


Energy: Russian Gazprom Eyes Cyprus Gas Reserves

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, OCTOBER 25 — The Russian energy giant Gazprom is reported to be interested in gaining the exploration rights for natural gas in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, as daily Famagusta Gazette reports today. According to Cyprus state run television, Gazprom is ready to start exploration in two offshore areas, near the Aphrodite plot (or Blok 12), which is currently being drilled by the Texas based Nobel Energy group.

Gazprom is the largest extractor of natural gas in the world and the largest Russian company. Meanwhile, state radio reported that the ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ aircraft carrier along with an armada of Russian naval craft is expected to sail for the eastern Mediterranean on November 19th from their base in the Barents Sea. The report said that the aircraft carrier would be carrying 24-fixed wing planes and a number of helicopters. It has also been reported that the Russian navy may request to use port facilities in Cyprus. Russian relations with Cyprus are at their best in many years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ex-Minister Slams ‘Degradation’ of Russia Politics

An ex-cabinet minister who now heads the state nanotechnology firm, on Wednesday told a glitzy congress including President Dmitry Medvedev that political life in Russia had degraded. Anatoly Chubais, who was the father of Russia’s controversial privatisation programme under president Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, bluntly said there was a gulf between the country’s weak political development and its economic progress. His comments marked a rare negative comment by a heavyweight figure about the political situation in Russia under strongman Vladimir Putin. Most officials carefully toe the line, especially at major occasions.

Explosively, Chubais also suggested that the contrast between the economic development and political stagnation could not continue for much longer. “In the last years economic life in Russia has developed. But political life has degraded. As I understand it, this situation cannot last long,” Chubais told a forum organised by his Rosnano nanotechnology corporation. “Sooner or later these two processes, which are the two sides of the same coin, have to complement each other,” he told the congress, the Interfax news agency reported.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Magnificence Meets Modernity: Bolshoi Rebirth Has Traditionalists Up in Arms

The Bolshoi is the pinnacle of the Russian theater world. Following a six-year renovation, fans are thrilled to see the dazzling new building. But new onstage performances have dampened the enthusiasm.

The Russian word awos is hard to translate into English. It means “perhaps” and “hopefully,” but awos is also a broader term that conveys the notion that, in the chaos of existence, everything will eventually turn out for the best. These days, awos aptly describes the mood at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater.

The theater has one of the richest traditions of all Europe’s stages. It is famous for opera and, most of all, for its ballet company. With its 200 dancers, the Bolshoi Ballet is the world’s largest dance company. The theater was closed for six years. During that time, its dancers and singers performed in another building while the main building was being renovated at a cost of €570 million ($798 million).

The reopening ceremony for the theater will be held this Friday as part of a spectacle to be broadcast live in theaters worldwide, on television and online. But, at the moment, workers from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are still scraping bits of adhesive from the steps. It smells of paint, and in the stage-set storage area 20 meters (66 feet) underground, water still leaks through the ceiling whenever it rains. The principal dancers are practicing for the big gala event on a rehearsal stage. In Russian, “Bolshoi Teatr” means “big theater.” And, indeed, since its founding in 1776, the Bolshoi has always been big.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Putin Disgusted by Gadhafi Death Images

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he was disgusted by television images of Moammar Gadhafi’s last minutes and his corpse after death, but stopped short of making any political statements on the issue. “Almost all of Gadhafi’s family has been killed, his corpse was shown on all global television channels. It was impossible to watch without disgust,” Putin said. “The man was all covered in blood, still alive, and he was being finished off.”

Putin was one of the most outspoken critics of the Western intervention in Libya and likened it to “medieval calls for crusades.” NATO airstrikes allowed anti-Gadhafi fighters to topple Gadhafi’s regime. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called for an investigation into Gadhafi’s murky death last week, which apparently occurred after the former Libyan leader’s car convoy was attacked by NATO planes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan is in a State of ‘Anarchy, ‘ Argues Head of German NGO

Violence is on the up in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s grip on power is tightening. The head of the Green Helmets NGO, Rupert Neudeck, told DW the country was essentially in a ‘state of war’ and discussed the future.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

As Bangkok Evacuates, City Could be Flooded for a Month

Bangkok’s main river broke its banks overnight forcing thousands of residents to flee the flooding Thai capital. Last week, Thailand’s government was confident that Bangkok’s elaborate scheme of flood walls, canals, dikes and underground tunnels would protect the city of nine million people from flooding. But quoting governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, Reuters reports that 90 per cent of Bangkok’s northern Don Muang district is under water and another fifteen city districts were threatened by floods this weekend. “Massive water is coming,” Sukhumbhand said.

Chao Phraya River, which snakes around Bangkok, swelled after floodwaters from the north teamed with increasingly high tides. The BBC reports that Sukhumbhand issued an evacuation alert for residents in three northern districts. “This is the first time I am using the term ‘evacuation’, the first time I’m really asking you to leave,” Mr Sukhumbhand said.

Thailand’s prime minister, Yingluck Shinwatra, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that much of Bangkok is now expected to see floodwaters of between 10 centimetres and 1.5 metres depending on area, diversion strategies and the strength of dykes. “After assessing the situation, we expect floodwater to remain in Bangkok for around two weeks to one month before going into the sea,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

According to Reuters, this deluge is caused by unusually heavy monsoon rain. It is Thailand’s worst flooding in fifty years. Since mid July 373 people have died, and the waters have disrupted the lives of nearly 2.5 million.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Bangkok Residents Flee as Floods Advance

The government has announced a five-day holiday to allow Bangkok residents to leave the city as floods advance. Businesses have closed shop and supermarket shelves are emptying rapidly as those left behind stock up. Anyone who can is leaving Bangkok. A five-day holiday has been called to let residents escape the Thai capital. All hotels in beach towns, such as Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin, are packed. Buses, trains and flights leaving town are overbooked. Those who can’t get a flight or bus out of Bangkok are trying to get a seat on one of the many evacuation trucks.

An old man told reporters the evacuation was not easy, saying that he and his wife had missed a ride and had to wait hours for another. Residents who can’t leave the city have hunkered down in their homes, surrounded by sandbags or hastily erected concrete walls. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Thursday that the situation was critical and announced that extra government shelters were being set up and there would be further evacuation measures.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Drone Strike ‘Kills Five Taliban Commanders’

Islamabad, 27 Oct. (AKI/Dawn) — A US drone strike on a vehicle on Thursday killed five commanders of one of Pakistan’s most influential Taliban leaders, Maulvi Nazir, one of the faction’s senior commanders said in a news report.

He identified four of the commanders as Hazrat Omar, Nazir’s younger brother, Khan Mohammad, Miraj Wazir and Ashfaq Wazir.

According to initial details, five missiles were fired on a vehicle carrying several passengers.

The vehicle was traveling from Tora Gola village to the nearby area of Azam Warsak when it was hit.

“Nazir’s younger brother Omar Wazir has been killed, it has been confirmed,” a Pakistani security official said.

Another Pakistani intelligence official also confirmed his death.

Residents and security officials in the region described the 27-year-old as the operational head for the Nazir group, and a close aide of his brother.

He adopted a low profile, going to Afghanistan, assigning duties to the fighters and supervising logistic arrangements for their missions, they said.

“They are a very important group because while they are based in Pakistan they are very active in Afghanistan,” said Mansur Khan Mehsud of the Fata Research Centre think tank.

“If you look at drone strikes, they are one of the most heavily targeted groups.”

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

Pakistani Judge Flees Country After Receiving Death Threats

The Pakistani judge who sentenced Governor Salman Taseer’s murderer to execution has fled the country following death threats. The incident has raised more questions about the safety of court officials in Pakistan.

Pervez Ali Shah has left Pakistan bound for the Middle East after religious fundamentalist groups repeatedly harassed him for having sentenced the murderer of the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, to death. Earlier this month, Shah’s courtroom in Rawalpindi was ransacked by Islamist lawyers, forcing him to take a long period of leave from work.

Salman Taseer was killed by his bodyguard in January

The Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, had been very forthright in his opposition to the country’s blasphemy law, which can be used to prosecute any individual whom it is alleged has spoken out against the Prophet. Taseer’s bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, apparently opposed his employer’s views and assassinated him in January this year. Qadri was subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to death by Judge Pervez Ali Shah.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Cyber War on Japanese Embassies

A cyber attack was launched against Japanese embassies and consulates throughout the world earlier this year, including the Dutch embassy in The Hague, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported today. The hackers infected the embassy computer networks of the US, China, France, Canada, South Korea, Myanmar and the Netherlands last summer.

The revelations come just one day after it was made known that hackers broke into the computer systems of a number of Japanese parliamentarians. The attackers were able to access the email correspondence of the MPs for a whole month. They were reportedly looking for information on Japanese foreign and defence policies, according to newspaper Asahi Shimbun. Defence contractors attack Last month, Japan’s top weapons maker Mitsubishi Heavy Industries MHI, as well as other defence contractors, were the victims of a cyber attack reportedly targeting data on missiles, submarines and nuclear power plants. Many of the cyber attacks have been linked to servers in China.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Shipwreck May be Part of Kublai Khan’s Lost Fleet

In Japanese legend they are known as The Kamikaze — the divine winds — a reference to two mighty typhoons placed providentially seven years apart which, in the 13th century, destroyed two separate Mongol invasion fleets so large they were not eclipsed until the D-Day landings of World War II. Marine archaeologists now say they have uncovered the remains of a ship from the second fleet in 1281 — believed to have comprised 4,400 vessels — a meter below the seabed, in 25 meters of water off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Central America the World’s Most Violent Region: Research

Central America is the most violent region in the world, with El Salvador reporting the highest death rate due to armed violence, a research said Thursday. “The regions most affected by lethal violence are Central America, with an average regional rate of 29.0 per 100.000 people, followed by Southern Africa (27.4) and the Caribbean (22.4),” said the Global Burden of Armed Violence report by the Geneva Declaration.

El Salvador has the highest rate of violent fatalities, with over 60 deaths recorded for every 100,000 inhabitant. Between 2004 and 2009, a higher proportion of people were killed in the country than in Iraq, which was the second most violent in the world.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


UK: ‘Kick Out Blackburn Child Sex Asylum Seeker’

A SEX offender asylum seeker who tried to snatch a 14-year-old boy from a town centre street has been jailed for 16 months and could now face deportation.

Iranian-born Asghar Najafi, 43, had already been on the sex offenders register for four years when he attempted to kidnap the teenager near Blackburn Market.

A judge labelled him a ‘high-risk’ to children and his asylum status is now set to be reviewed by the Home Office.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: 4,000 Foreign Criminals Set Free to Fight Deportation Including Murderers, Rapists and Child Sex Offenders

Nearly 4,000 foreign criminals who should have been deported are at large on the streets of Britain, an official report revealed last night.

Human rights claims and red tape are giving them their freedom while they fight deportation orders.

The criminals include dozens of former prisoners convicted of offences such as murder, rape and sex crimes against children.

The figure emerged in a report by John Vine, chief inspector of the UK Border Agency…

Some are unable to be deported because it is thought ‘unsafe’ to send them back to their home countries, or because of difficulties in getting hold of a passport so they can be put on a plane.

Last year, a total of 576 used the Human Rights Act to prevent them from being kicked out, the report found, with the vast majority citing Article 8, the controversial ‘right to a private and family life’…

The report said 1,600 offenders were in immigration detention centres after completing sentences, at a cost of £55million a year.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Candidly Speaking: On Distinguishing Between Good and Evil

Aside from a minority of courageous moderate Muslims, the majority at remain passive to outrages committed by Islamic extremists.

Good deeds and the spurning of evil preoccupied us throughout the Days of Awe and the festival period, climaxing with the redemption of Gilad Schalit. We live in times when concepts such as good and evil are deliberately blurred. For example, the mass murder of Norwegians in July by a demented neo-Nazi psychopath — a diabolically evil act — was globally exploited by far-left and Muslim groups to suppress legitimate condemnation or designation of extremist Islamic behavior as evil, even accusing critics of inciting mass murder. Yet throughout the Arab world we are now witnessing the sickening elevation to hero status of some of the world’s most demented killers. This is hardly a new phenomenon.

Can you recall the last time you had a serious discussion in which the word “evil” was mentioned? It’s unlikely, because employing such a term today is often regarded as politically incorrect and likely to lead to accusations of bias or bigotry. During World War II, that the Nazis were evil was never in dispute. That knowledge did not imply that the Allies were pure. The Versailles settlement was unjust. Mistakes were made. There were undoubtedly degenerates in our ranks who committed crimes, and we were certainly conscious of the moral shortcomings of our Soviet allies. But we unequivocally recognized that the Nazis represented evil incarnate and were willing to stake our lives in the struggle against the forces of darkness which sought to undermine freedom and civilization.

OVER THE past half-century, as post-modernism enveloped the new Europe, conflicts became increasingly viewed from the perspective of moral equivalency. Today, it is considered bigoted to define religious or nationalist crimes as evil. This change in outlook is linked to the erosion of Judeo-Christian values, which despite being more frequently breached than honored, did at least provide a moral framework to distinguish between right and wrong.

It is no coincidence that Christianity in Europe has declined dramatically. In the UK today, more Muslims pray at mosques than Anglicans attend churches. Christian beliefs have been supplanted by secularism, and some churches have themselves adopted post-modernist concepts. In contrast, in the US where religion continues to occupy a dominant role, morality remains relevant and politicians endeavor to frame their policies in a manner perceived to be ethical.

In this climate, many liberals refuse to take part in the battle against the new global evil confronting us. They fail to acknowledge that the radical elements dominating the Muslim world today represent no less a threat to western civilization than the Nazis in the 1930s. Even many committed Jewish leaders blur the reality, accusing those who point out that the Arab Islamic world is largely dominated by extremists of promoting “hysteria” and “ideological Islamophobia.”

The level of moderation in Islamic societies can be assessed by posing a number of questions: Do Islamic leaders and activists promote moderation or do they at best stand aside and avoid condemning the jihadists? Do most share the goal of imposing Sharia law throughout the world? Endorse freedom of worship? Protest against the violence and murder directed at critics of their prophet or Islam? Demand the curbing of the violent passions which incite hatred and extremism in their mosques, media outlets and schools? Most of the ruling elites in today’s Islamic Arab world would fail to provide acceptable responses to such questions.

In fact, it may not be politically correct to say, but the sad reality is that aside from a minority of courageous moderate Muslims — primarily domiciled in non-Muslim communities — the majority at best remain passive in relation to outrages committed by Islamic extremists. Indeed, it is unfortunately indisputable that the vast majority of Arab Muslims identify with the naked evil radiating from the venomous, genocidal statements of Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah and Hamas, which leave nothing to the imagination. And alas, the misnamed “Arab Spring” has merely resulted in an upsurge of regional extremist Islamic fundamentalist power.

It is not only adherents to the Hamas Charter who unashamedly endorse the murder of Jews and boast that they will never forgo the goal of destroying the Jewish state. The Palestinian Authority is merely more circumspect in statements designed for Western consumption. But a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion demonstrated that the vast majority of Palestinians remain committed to our destruction. Eighty percent responded that it was the duty of Muslims to participate in jihad to eradicate Israel and 73% endorsed the Hamas Charter quoting from the hadith, a call from the prophet Muhammad to kill all Jews. All PA state instrumentalities — mosques, media and education system — glorify and sanctify mothers of suicide bombers, honoring as “martyrs” those who murder Israeli civilians.

We should be highlighting the contrasting societal responses to evil in democratic countries and Islamic fundamentalist regimes. Critics of Islam in Western countries do not hail as national heroes liberated psychopaths who murder women and children. They do not name city squares, erect statues or name football teams to commemorate the perpetrators of such actions. Nor do they hold street parties and hand out sweets to children to celebrate the death of innocent Muslims killed in the war against terror. But in the wake of every attack on Israeli civilians, that is precisely what happens in the Palestinian street, yet those who condemn such behavior as barbaric are frequently accused Islamophobia and racism.

It is rational, not “racist,” to deem such behavior evil. Prior to Nazi indoctrination, Germany was considered the most cultured European nation. Since the defeat of Hitler and the implementation of a normal educational curriculum, the evil instilled by the Nazis has been neutralized. Instead of exposing the criminality and evil of the Palestinian regimes and proclaiming that there is still no credible Palestinian peace partner, we bury our heads in the sand, pleading for a renewal of ritual negotiations with those committed to our demise.

This repeatedly culminates with a “we give and they take” process as the Palestinians endeavor to dismember us in stages. It also contributes to the global climate of opinion in which our adversaries relegate us to pariah status.

The Palestinians are considered the most talented of all Arabs. Provide them with humanitarian leaders. Grant them an enlightened education to substitute the hatred and culture of death in which their youngsters are brainwashed and new humanitarian leaders would emerge, enabling Palestinians and Israelis to jointly create a magnificent region of peaceful coexistence and creativity. But as Mahmoud Abbas demonstrated in his recent UN General Assembly address, for now, that is but a distant dream.

The time has come to evaluate the evidence, exercise moral judgment and act rationally. To flee from reality and submerge ourselves in a delusionary, Alice in Wonderland environment is highly tempting. But it may incur a heavy price on our children, who will ultimately be obliged to confront the existential threat emanating from the evil surrounding them.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

French Christian Group Besieges Jesus Excrement Play

Paris police have arrested around 20 Christian fundamentalists who burst into a theatre and threw stink bombs to protest against a play featuring the face of Christ drizzled with fake excrement. Police made the arrests at the Theatre de la Ville, on the banks of the Seine near Notre Dame cathedral, during a performance of “On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God”, directed by Italian Romeo Castellucci.

The play, which runs until October 30th, is the story of an incontinent man being looked after by his son. A copy of a huge portrait of Christ by Renaissance artist Antonello da Messina hangs at the back of the stage and appears to be covered in excrement towards the end of the performance.

After days of trying to get in, the protesters on Wednesday “entered the theatre and threw stink bombs into the auditorium, shouting: ‘Enough Christianophobia!’“ a police source told AFP.

France’s ministry of culture blamed the demonstration on members of the Institut Civitas, which in April protested US artist Andres Serrano’s renowned “Immersion Piss Christ” photograph in the southern papal city of Avignon. Civitas head Alain Escada said: “Our mission is to spread the word about this performance and to organise a response.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Discovery: Cosmic Dust Contains Organic Matter From Stars

A new look at the interstellar dust permeating the universe has revealed hints of organic matter that could be created naturally by stars, scientists say. Researchers at the University of Hong Kong observed stars at different evolutionary phases and found that they are able to produce complex organic compounds and eject them into space, filling the regions between stars. The compounds are so complex that their chemical structures resemble the makeup of coal and petroleum, the study’s lead author Sun Kwok, of the University of Hong Kong, said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Dreams Read by Brain Scanner for the First Time

The secret world of dreams could soon be cracked open. Innovative neuroscientists have already begun to figure out the thoughts of awake people — now, a team reckon they can use similar methods to tap into dreams. To find out whether dreams could be read in the same way as waking thoughts, Michael Czisch and Martin Dresler at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, and their colleagues turned an array of brain-monitoring technology on lucid dreamers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The World at Its Limits: Feeding the Extra Billions

As the world’s population grows, the need for new strategies to avert famine and malnutrition becomes ever more urgent. While there are obvious limitations on global resources, some think it may just be possible.

The world’s population grows by some 83 million people each year — more than the population of Germany. Even if population growth slows, it is expected that there will be nine billion people on the planet by the year 2050 and ten billion at some point this century.

In order to satisfy their requirements, about 2,400 kilocalories per head would be necessary. Agricultural production, as a result, would have to be doubled or even tripled in the next 40 years. Given the limited resources of the earth, the question arises as to whether this is even possible.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Water’s Quantum Weirdness Makes Life Possible

WATER’S life-giving properties exist on a knife-edge. It turns out that life as we know it relies on a fortuitous, but incredibly delicate, balance of quantum forces. Water is one of the planet’s weirdest liquids, and many of its most bizarre features make it life-giving. For example, its higher density as a liquid than as a solid means ice floats on water, allowing fish to survive under partially frozen rivers and lakes. And unlike many liquids, it takes a lot of heat to warm water up even a little, a quality that allows mammals to regulate their body temperature.

But computer simulations show that quantum mechanics nearly robbed water of these life-giving features. Most of them arise due to weak hydrogen bonds that hold H2O molecules together in a networked structure. For example, it is hydrogen bonds that hold ice molecules in a more open structure than in liquid water, leading to a lower density. By contrast, without hydrogen bonds, liquid molecules move freely and take up more space than in rigid solid structures.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]