Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111109

Financial Crisis
»Asian Stocks Plunge on Europe Debt Crisis Setbacks
»Berlusconi to Resign, Chinese Inflation Slows, Asian Markets Climb
»Exporters: We Don’t Need the Euro
»Greece: Some 53,000 Stores Facing Possible Closure
»Iceland’s Recovery Provides Lessons for Eurozone Plans
»Lebanon: Retailers and Unions Against Proposed VAT Increase
»Portuguese Transport Workers Strike Over Cutbacks
»Romania-Greece: Orthodox Church at the Gates of Purgatory
»What Latin America Can Teach Europe
»Hotel Allows Terrorist Supporter to Speak, Cancels Conferences Critical of Islam
»NASA’s Biggest Mars Rover Yet to Launch This Month
»Man Accused of Killing 3 Daughters Told Police His Kids Were Liars, Jury Hears
Europe and the EU
»Belgium: “Survival Thefts” On the Increase
»Canary Islands Eruption: Undersea Volcano Now Just 70 Meters From Surface
»EU: Italy Ranks Third in Cheese Production
»Europe and Anti-Muslim Digital Populists
»Europe’s Veil of Fear
»Evidence of Oil Off Greenland Coast
»FIFA Allows England, Scotland and Wales to Wear Poppy
»France: Nidra Poller on the Auto Da Fe in Paris. It’s No Joke
»France: Charlie Hebdo Front Cover Depicts Muslim Man Kissing Cartoonist
»France: Parliament Suspended After Finance Minister Taunts Socialists
»French Zoo Steps Up Rhino Surveillance Against Poachers
»Greece’s Food and Drink Exports Grow
»How Christianity Portrayed Jesus as a Warrior to Woo the Vikings
»Italy: ‘I Am Tired’: The Berlusconi Interview: A Singular Political Career Draws to a Close
»Italy: Lega Nord in the Opposition if Technical Govt is Formed
»Italy: President Makes Mario Monti Life Senator
»Nearly Half of Forced Marriage Brides German
»New Abuse Figures: Forced Marriages in Germany More Prevalent Than Thought
»New Italian Brand to France, PPR Buys Brioni
»Soros: EU Disintegration Poses Threat to Roma
»Spain: Farmer Dies After Being Attacked by Wild Boar
»Srdja Trifkovic: the End of the Berlusconi Era
»Stone Age Paintings Found in Swabia
»Stone Age Art: Archeologists Find Central Europe’s Oldest Painting
»Street Crime Wave Hits Europe’s Capital
»UK: A Dilemma for Rushanara Ali
»UK: High Court Throws Out Dudley Mosque Defence
»UK: Inmate Kevan Thakrar Cleared Over Prison Guards Attack
»UK: The Sanctification of Public Nuisance
»Croatia: Former School for Communists to Go to Church
»TV: Al Jazeera Balkans to Start Broadcasts on Friday
North Africa
»Dutch MPs Cancel Egypt Trip
»Libya: Jibril: Gaddafi Killed Due to Foreign Order
»Libya’s Berbers Feel Rejected by Transitional Government
»Tripoli vs. The ICC: Who Should Bring Gadhafi’s Son to Justice?
Israel and the Palestinians
»Peace Through Strength
»Tories Warn of ‘Severe’ Consequences if UK Abstains in Palestinian UN Vote
Middle East
»Caroline Glick: Waiting Out Obama
»French Expert: There Will be No Military Strike on Iran
»Halting Iran’s Nuclear Program: Former Mossad Chief Seeks to Avert Israeli Attack
»IDF Ready to Strike Iran
»Monarchies Band Together in the Wake of Arab Spring
»New Report ‘Aggravates’ EU Concern Over Iran’s Nuclear Program
»Russia Rules Out New Sanctions Against Iran
»Turkey: Population at 100 Million in 2050, Pollution
»Turkey: Preachers and Consultants Against Domestic Violence
»Contact Offers Hope for Stalled Mars Moon Probe
»Russian Mars Moon Probe Suffers Big Failure After Launch
South Asia
»Afghan General: “We Have No Clue How to Operate the Weapons NATO Gives US”
»US Commission: Pakistan Schools Teach Hindu Hatred
»Danish Immigration Model Didn’t Work
»Funding Boost for Schools With High Immigrant Enrollment
»Serbia: Brit Woman’s Refugee Gang Rape
Culture Wars
»Europe’s First Transsexual MP Takes Her Seat in Polish Parliament
»First Euthanasia in Netherlands of Severe Dementia Victim
»Pig-Tailed Pippi Longstocking Books Branded ‘Racist’ By German Theologian
»What Sayeth the Stars? Not Enough Minorities in Hollywood
»Superconductor Flying Saucer Stunts

Financial Crisis

Asian Stocks Plunge on Europe Debt Crisis Setbacks

Setbacks in Europe’s efforts to isolate a debt crisis before it engulfs Italy or blows up into an all-out recession sent Asian stock markets tumbling Thursday.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 2.4 percent to 8,549.94 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dived 4.4 percent to 19,127.04. South Korea’s Kospi slid 3.4 percent to 1,842.80 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 2.7 percent to 4,229.10.

The losses in Asia tracked those in New York, where the Dow Jones industrial average fell almost 400 points, its worst decline since Sept. 22.

Global stock markets were rattled Wednesday, when Italy’s main borrowing rate blew past 7 percent. That was considered an important level because Greece, Portugal and Ireland required bailouts from other nations when interest rates on their bonds hit 7 percent.

“Risk appetite took a severe hit yesterday as eurozone crisis deepened with contagion to Italy,” Credit Agricole CIB wrote in a research report. “Given the sheer size of the Italian bond market … the impact of its insolvency would be disastrous.”

Greece has been the focus of Europe’s debt crisis for the past two years. The country has survived since May 2010 on a euro110 billion ($150 billion) rescue loan package but needs another huge injection of funds to prevent a massive default on its debt.

But now debt-heavy Italy has moved front and center: as the third-largest economy in Europe, its $2.6 trillion debt is considered too large for other European countries to absorb. A default could lead to the disintegration of the euro currency used by 17 nations or a debilitating recession…

[Return to headlines]

Berlusconi to Resign, Chinese Inflation Slows, Asian Markets Climb

Asian markets have climbed and Italian bonds improved, one day after the Italian Prime Minister announced his upcoming resignation, as soon as essential austerity measures are approved. Stock markets also driven by positive news Chinese inflation, which slowed noticeably in October.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Asian stock markets climbed today on the back of yesterday’s announcement by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of his upcoming resignation and today’s announcement that China’s spiralling inflation slowed in October.

Hong Kong jumped to +2% before returning to +1.6% ; Tokyo registered +0.94% by midmorning, Seoul is up by 0.35%, Sydney also positive with +1, 37%.

Italian bonds were also positive, falling to 6.65% in Asia, a day after they had hit a record 6.77%.

Prime Minister Berlusconi was left without majority support yesterday, after a parliamentary vote and President Giorgio Napolitano announced that he will step down as soon as the package of austerity measures demanded by the European Union is approved. The announcement has raised expectations for an improvement of the Italian situation, after the current government is considered to have failed to take appropriate measures to reduce Rome’s huge foreign debt.

The positive trend was also helped by news that inflation in China has grown by 5.5% in October, down for the 3rd consecutive month compared to 6.1% in September and after a +6, 5% in July, a three year record.

Food prices are also down, by -0.2% in October, the first decline since May. The cost of food remains high however at 11.9% compared to October 2010, a result of strong increases in recent months.

In recent days, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said he expected a price decrease, implying the willingness of Beijing to resume a policy of economic stimulus, by the end of 2010, China has taken measures to contain the liquidity of currency, increasing interest and curbing bank lending.

The inflation of production costs is also down, +5% in October after +6.5% in September.

Analysts expect a further cooling of inflation in the coming months, although others consider that prices have risen too much in recent months, with increases in double figures for the main food items. Many are now waiting to see the government’s measures to stimulate the economy and what effects it will have on inflation.

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

Exporters: We Don’t Need the Euro

German exporters, the backbone of the biggest eurozone economy, could manage without the common euro currency, the head of their BGA industry federation, Anton Börner, said on Wednesday. “What is important for us is the free market, we do not necessarily need a common currency,” he told the foreign press association in Berlin. “Is there life for Germany after the euro? Yes there is.” Exporters “can live without the euro,” he added.

Börner was speaking one day after official data showed that record exports had pushed Germany’s trade surplus to a three-year high in September, indicating the country was bearing up fairly well in the eurozone debt crisis. Germany, the world’s number two exporter after China, exported goods worth a total €91.3 billion ($124.9 billion) in September, 0.9 percent more than in August and the highest level since unification.

The BGA represents Germany’s exporters, mainly small- and medium-sized firms. Börner said that for those companies, “the amount exported to eurozone countries does not depend on the euro itself but on the free market and the absence of customs duties.” Börner’s remarks stood in stark contrast to the line taken by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other political leaders, who argue that “everything must be done” to protect the eurozone from falling apart.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Some 53,000 Stores Facing Possible Closure

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, NOVEMBER 9 — In Greece, traditional commercial stores and small and medium-sized enterprises in general are in dire straits as a result of the considerable drop in consumption and the constant increase in popularity that malls are enjoying as daily Kathimerini reports. A European Commission survey recently presented by the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) showed that the number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Greece shrank by 30,000 between 2003 and 2010. ESEE’s own data showed that 68,000 SMEs were driven out of the market from 2010 to 2011, while another 53,000 are likely to close down soon. Some 67,000 jobs were lost in the sector in the first nine months of the year alone. Shop owners are predictably downbeat as more and more stores shut down in every neighborhood in the capital due to the fact that they are unable to service their debts, pay their taxes and withstand the drop in consumption, even though in many cases rental rates have declined significantly in the last two years. Property market experts note that in certain cases rents have gone down by as much as 50%. On average the decline over the last couple of years has come to 25-30% compared with rental rates before the crisis. This year alone the level of rents has gone down by 10-20%, according to Danos/BNP Paribas Nevertheless the number of empty stores is growing by the day.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Iceland’s Recovery Provides Lessons for Eurozone Plans

Before the global crisis, Iceland’s banking sector had grown to 11 times its economy’s size and all paid a heavy price for such a bloated, unregulated financial system. Today, Iceland’s recovery provides a lesson: governments should shield taxpayers from bankruptcy costs

Three years after Iceland’s banks collapsed, its economy is recovering, proof that governments should let failing lenders go bust and protect taxpayers, according to analysts.

The North Atlantic island saw its three biggest banks go belly-up in October 2008 as its overstretched financial sector collapsed under the weight of the global crisis sparked by the crash Lehman Brothers.

The banks became insolvent within a matter of weeks and Reykjavik was forced to let them fail and seek a $2.25 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

After three years of harsh austerity measures, the country’s economy is now showing signs of health despite the current financial turmoil that has Greece verging on default and other eurozone states under pressure.

Iceland’s banking sector had assets worth 11 times the country’s total gross domestic product (GDP) before the crisis hit.

“The lesson that could be learned from Iceland’s way of handling its crisis is that it is important to shield taxpayers and government finances from bearing the cost of a financial crisis to the extent possible,” Islandsbanki analyst Jon Bjarki Bentsson told Agence France-Presse. “Even if our way of dealing with the crisis was not by choice … this has turned out relatively well for us.”…

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

Lebanon: Retailers and Unions Against Proposed VAT Increase

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, NOVEMBER 9 — Lebanese retailer associations have condemned a proposal by the country’s Finance Minister, Mohammad Safadi, to raise VAT from 10% to 12%, which figures in the draft budget for 2012. Organisations grouping together traders from Hamra and Borj Hammoud, two of the most shopping areas of Beirut, have warned that the measure could have “disastrous consequences”, reducing consumption in an economy that has already slowed significantly.

Some of Safadi’s government colleagues and trade unions are also against the proposal, while some economists say that the increase in VAT could bring about a strong rise in inflation, taking the figure to 8%. Safadi says that he is ready to abandon the proposed increase if those against the move put forward alternative measures allowing the state to obtain the resources necessary for investments strengthening infrastructure, which the country urgently needs.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Portuguese Transport Workers Strike Over Cutbacks

Public transport services were severely disrupted across Portugal Tuesday as workers went on strike over a government programme of tough austerity measures to help Portugal survive the euro crisis. Not a single subway station in Lisbon was open at 0600 GMT and no trains were scheduled to run before 1000 GMT, transport authorities said.

Bus services in Lisbon and the northern city of Porto were due to stop running for six hours from 1000 GMT. Maritime transport services in Lisbon are also due to be affected between 1400 GMT and 1730 GMT. Most train services across the country were also heavily disrupted with “nearly 100 percent” of staff observing the strike, according to unions. Only one service linking Lisbon to Madrid was running.

Workers are protesting a severe austerity programme which Portugal’s centre-right government has said it will implement in return for 78-billion-euro bailout it received in May from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Proposed cuts include the temporary suspension of 13th and 14th month salary payments for civil servants and pensioners who earn more than 1,000 euros a month.

Private sector employees will be requested to work half an hour more per day, VAT will rise, while the health and education budgets will be slashed. Both the opposition Socialist party and the Portuguese public have voiced loud objections to the reforms. Demonstrations by civil servants and the military are epxected to take place in Lisbon on Saturday and Portugal’s two main unions have called for a general strike on November 24.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Romania-Greece: Orthodox Church at the Gates of Purgatory

România libera, Bucharest

In Bucharest and in Athens, the exacerbation of the economic crisis has undermined public tolerance for the privileges enjoyed by the Orthodox Church. If things do not change, warns România Libera, the organisation runs the risk of paying a heavy cultural tribute.

Laurentiu Mihu

With each passing day, the crisis that has swept across Europe has thrown into question not only the capacity of states to maintain a minimum of solvency, but also the philosophy that has provided the basis for the social and economic system since the Second World War.

Established ideologies are no longer in tune with current realities and their adjustment to accommodate these realities appears increasingly difficult. It is in this context that the economic crisis has not only heralded the end of public debt and the bankruptcy of the principles that made it possible, but it has also marked the end of certain taboos.

Consider, for example the Greek and Romanian Orthodox Churches, and the provocative attitudes displayed by both of these entities. For several months, the impudence of high-ranking members of the clergy in Athens and Thessaloniki has known no bounds, now that the lost sheep demonstrating in the streets have begun to focus their attention not only on the rejection of austerity packages, but also on the redistribution of wealth and in particular the wealth of the Orthodox Church, which has never been evaluated [the Orthodox Churches in both Greece and Romania do not pay taxes and benefit from a certain number of privileges].

It is regrettable that the pressure on the higher echelons of the Greek clergy has not been instigated by public debate, but is rather the result of an outburst of rage prompted by extreme social and economic circumstances — and this observation also applies to the Romanian Church — because this has been used to justify the cynical and curt response of the ecclesiastical hierarchy which has no qualms about dismissing those voices from civil society which have yielded to the sin of questioning its prerogatives…

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

What Latin America Can Teach Europe

El País, Madrid

The debt crisis has plunged the eurozone into a situation similar to that experienced by Latin America in the 90’s. To emerge from it, Europeans should learn from the mistakes made at the time, writes columnist and former Venezuelan Minister Moises Naim.

Moise’s Naim

A few weeks back I was at a meeting in Brussels, which, incidentally, was held at the same time as the summit at which EU leaders agreed on a plan to stabilise their economies. At the end of the day, naturally I talked with economist friends in various governments who were there with their proposals to back up the negotiations between their leaders. Their stories, anxieties and exhaustion brought back a lot of memories.

In the early nineties I was a minister in my own country, Venezuela, when the government couldn’t pay its debts and the economy had collapsed. Afterwards I worked at the World Bank and was close to similar negotiations elsewhere. In many of these experiences, the failures were more frequent than successes. And we know that failures have a lot to teach.

In informal talks with my European friends, the parallels of Europe’s crisis with the crises that had rocked other countries were obvious. And yet just as striking as these similarities was the unwillingness of my friends to acknowledge that the experiences and mistakes of Latin America hold important lessons for coping with the crisis in Europe.

“Europe is different,” was the almost automatic response. “We have the euro, our economies and financial systems are different, and so are our institutions and culture,” they insisted. All this is true. But there are other realities that are also true.

Between 1980 and 2003, Latin America went through 38 economic crises. The region, its authorities, its politicians and even the public have learned from the experience of these painful episodes. Perhaps the most important lesson is what one might call “the power of the package.” The package is an economic package that is complete, coherent, credible and politically sustainable over the long term…

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


Hotel Allows Terrorist Supporter to Speak, Cancels Conferences Critical of Islam

Protesters assembled outside a Hotel in Anaheim after it permitted the Council on American Islamic Relations to hold a banquet with an anti-American guest speaker who has called for the replacement of our constitutional form of government with one based in Islamic law. Dr. Gary Gass, founder of, said the protest was organized after CAIR announced the group would be having a banquet at the Hilton Hotel in Anaheim, California with Siraj Wahhaj as their guest speaker for the event.

Wahhaj testified as a character witness for Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind Sheikh behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The bombing was an attempt to destroy the foundation of one of the towers, causing it to fall into the other. The terrorists would later complete Abdel-Rahman’s goal of destroying both towers on 9/11. Wahhaj has also called for the Constitution to be replaced with Islamic rule, stating, “If we were united and strong, we would elect our emir and give allegiance to him.” He has also predicted America would fall unless it “accepts the Islamic agenda.”

Gass said by having Wahhaj as their guest speaker CAIR was showing its true colors. “CAIR is showing its true colors by aligning with such a notorious anti-American radical. We’re shocked that the Hilton Hotel will allow such an event on its property.” During the protest outside the CAIR meeting, Gass said speakers took turns challenging attendees to defend the reputation of their prophet and Wahhaj. “Some were upset when we began to read a fatwa by Islam’s highest authorities proving that Mohammed sexually abused his 6-year-old wife, Aisha,” Gass said.

While the Hotel allowed the event to go forward, the same deference is not given for groups who oppose the Islamic agenda. Recently, two different hotels cancelled events on radical Islam’s threat to American freedoms citing security concerns and physical threats. In Nashville, Tenn., the Hutton Hotel cancelled the Preserving Freedom Conference after receiving threats of violence to Hotel guests. Stephen Eckley, senior vice president of Hotels for Amerimar Enterprises, the Hutton’s managing corporation, told WND, “There were veiled threats that there were going to be protests that could easily erupt into violence.”

The conference was eventually forced to relocate to another location on short notice and is now being held at the Cornerstone Church in Madison, Tenn. Pamela Geller, editor of Atlas Shrugs, told the Gazette she will not be attending the conference at its new location. “I will not have my message ghettoized and driven from the public square. I will not be speaking.”

Geller continued, “While I have nothing against speaking in a church per se, I refuse to have my message driven from the public square. What’s next? Secret meetings? A White Rose Society? I have been invited to speak at the new conference, but right now I’m more concerned with the marginalization and ghettoizing of our message of freedom. I am not going to consent to the attempts of the Left and Islamic supremacists to drive our defense of freedom from public spaces.”

Amir Arain, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Nashville praised the Hotel for cancelling the event which was critical of Islam saying the conference was promoting bigotry and had no place in Nashville. Several days earlier the Hyatt Hotel in Sugar Land, Texas cancelled a similar Tea Party event citing “security concerns.” Geller likened the cancellations to the enforcing of “blasphemy” laws that exist in Islamic countries under Sharia law. Under Sharia, no criticism of Islam is allowed and criticism of Islam can result in a death sentence.

Geller said the cancellations actually vindicate her warnings about radical Islam.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

NASA’s Biggest Mars Rover Yet to Launch This Month

NASA’s newest Mars rover, the Mini Cooper-size Curiosity, is just over two weeks away from launching to the Red Planet. The Curiosity rover is larger, and can travel farther, than any roving vehicle ever sent to Mars. Its goal is to investigate whether our planetary next-door neighbor was ever hospitable to life.

“We have been studying the planet as a whole with our orbiters, and with recent rovers we’ve been following evidence of water on the surface,” said Ashwin Vasavada, the deputy project scientist for Curiosity at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif. “This rover is the first to address the next goal, which is to search for habitable environments. We’re landing on a place that has the potential to have been habitable in the past, one that could have supported life, and we want to understand whether that actually was the case.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Man Accused of Killing 3 Daughters Told Police His Kids Were Liars, Jury Hears

KINGSTON, Ontario — A man accused of killing his three daughters and one of his two wives told a police interrogator that he dearly loved his dead children, but they were liars, court heard Wednesday.

Mohammad Shafia, 58, is on trial — along with his wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, and son Hamed, 20 — charged with four counts each of first-degree murder. They have each pleaded not guilty to killing three teenage Shafia sisters and Shafia’s other wife in a polygamous marriage.

The jury in Kingston, Ont., watched video Wednesday of the police interrogation of Shafia — conducted in Farsi and translated into English — the day after he, his wife and his son were arrested in July 2009.

He tells the interrogator his life has been ruined by the deaths of his children and Rona Amir Mohammad, whom he calls his cousin, and that his kids were “pure and sinless.”

“Swear to God I loved them with my heart,” Shafia says. “I wish God would have taken my life and spared their lives.”

But, he says, they were liars.

“They told a lot of lies…They had said something like that, ‘My dad is beating me,’“ Shafia says. “If, for example they were going somewhere, they didn’t say the truth. They are lying.”

The only child who doesn’t lie is Hamed, Shafia says.

Hamed and his parents are accused of killing his three sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, along with Shafia’s other wife, Rona Amir Mohammad, 50, who were found dead inside a submerged car on June 30, 2009, in the Rideau Canal…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Belgium: “Survival Thefts” On the Increase

The number of thefts committed by illegal immigrants and drug addicts in the capital is on the up. The figures come from the Brussels-Elsene Local Police Service and form the basis of an article in Monday’s edition of the daily ‘De Morgen’. Brussels’ Chief of Police Guido Van Wymersch describes the increase as “survival crime”, crimes committed by people with no income or in need of cash to feed their habit.

The number of instances of non-violent thefts from a person (e.g. pick-pocketing or the taking of money or goods from a handbag) this year in the City of Brussels and Elsene stood at 3,000 at the beginning of November. This compares with 2,500 during the same period last year. Police in the capital also recorded more cases of theft with violence (e.g. muggings).

An increase in the number of drug addicts and illegal immigrants on the streets of Brussels is said to be behind the rise in street crime. Many of the illegals that commit crime come from countries such as Algeria that don’t have extradition treaties with Belgium. Mr Van Wymeersch believes that it is time that the Federal Government issued a clear policy on asylum-seekers and illegals “So that they at least know what is to be their fate.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Canary Islands Eruption: Undersea Volcano Now Just 70 Meters From Surface

In the Atlantic Ocean, off the Canary Island of El Hierro, 20-meter high jets of water are being spat into the air as the sea boils amid the stench of sulfur. The undersea volcano, which is set to create new land, is growing ever-nearer to the surface — but is the existing island at risk from the explosive eruptions?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU: Italy Ranks Third in Cheese Production

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 9 — Italy is third ranked cheese producer in the EU after Germany and France, according to Eurostat figures from 2010. According to the European statistics office, last year Germany produced 2.1 million tonnes of cheese (23% of the production in the EU), France produced 1.9 million tonnes (21%) and Italy churned out 1.2 million tonnes (13%). The main producer of cow’s milk in the EU is Great Britain, followed by Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Also in 2010, Italy ranked third in beef production (1.1 million tonnes, 14% of the EU’s total), after Germany (15%) and France (19%). One-fourth of the pork produced in Europe came from Germany (25%), followed by Spain (15%), France (9%), Poland and Denmark (8%). Italy produced 7% of Europe’s pork, while their poultry production totalled 1.1 million tonnes in 2010 (ranked 6th), compared to 1.7 million tonnes for France (14%), Great Britain (1.6 million tonnes), Germany (1.4 million tonnes), Spain and Poland (1.3 million tonnes). Looking at 2008-2010, France was the top producer of cereals in the EU (23%), while Italy ranked 6th (6%), following Spain (7%), Great Britain (8%), Poland (10%) and Germany (16%).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Europe and Anti-Muslim Digital Populists

Following on from its report last week looking ‘Inside the EDL’, Demos has published an interim report looking at the rise of ‘anti-Islam’ populist parties across Europe (with more detailed country-specific papers to be released in the coming weeks). The latest report, titled ‘The new face of digital populism’, targeted the Facebook fans of various populist groups from different European countries. The report draws on the analysis of data collected from 10,667 completed online surveys. Demos explains its choice of Facebook on grounds of its being “…the most widespread and popular social media site in Western Europe; populist parties have a sizeable presence on this site; and it allows for precise and highly targeted advertising.”

The results of the surveys include the following:

  • Online supporters are slightly more likely to be unemployed.
  • Online supporters are not just armchair activists: many are party members and voters and they are more likely to demonstrate than the national average.
  • Online supporters display average levels of personal optimism, but very low levels of optimism about their country’s future.
  • Online populist supporters are highly critical of the European Union, with many blaming it for a loss of control over borders and the erosion of cultural identity.
  • The shift from online activism to voting is motivated by concerns over immigration and Islamic extremism.
  • The shift from online activism to becoming a party member is motivated by concerns over multiculturalism and the belief that politics is an effective way to respond to their concerns.

The report states that “a significant number of Europeans are concerned about the erosion of their national culture in the face of immigration, the growth of Islam in Europe, and the blurring of national borders as a result of European integration and globalisation.”

The scaremongering of ‘Eurabia’ enthusiasts has been scrutinised in a number of articles dissecting the irrationalism and prejudice of its advocates Moreover, the steady focus on the’cultural threat’ of Islam was earlier highlighted in the 2008 study by the Cardiff School of Journalism, ‘Images of Islam in the UK’, which found that newspaper coverage on Islam and Muslims was shifting away from a focus on terrorism-related stories to focus more on stories of ‘cultural incompatibility’.

Ideas of a Europe under threat from Islam and on Islam’s purported incompatibility with European values, has been key to the rise of far-right populist parties across Europe, which are alluded to in this report. These parties hold significant parliamentary blocs in over half a dozen countries in Western Europe underscoring the importance of understanding the reasons for their appeal

Commenting on the report, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband said,

“This report is an important antidote to any complacency about rightwing extremism, it shows that discontent with globalisation can fuel the politics of the right as well as the left. The Occupy protests have captured media attention but away from the public eye the hard right is also organising. The only way to defend the gains of globalisation is to understand its most dangerous critics, and this report helps us to do so.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe’s Veil of Fear

Giulio Meotti

The office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was badly damaged by a firebomb on Wednesday, after it published a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet Muhammad to salute the victory of the Islamist party in Tunisia’s elections.

The magazine had announced a special issue for publication, renamed “Charia Hebdo,” a play on the French word for Islamic law. The magazine’s website has also been hacked with a message in English and Turkish. The fatwa said: “You keep abusing Islam’s almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech. Be Allah’s curse upon you!”

Charlie Hebdo is the latest in a series of “blasphemous pencils” — European cartoonists, writers and journalists threatened with death for their criticism about Islam. They are people who need a level of personal protection unconceivable even in Israel, a country well-known for its attention to security. And it happens all over Europe.

Kurt Westergaard is the most famous of them. I spoke with him immediately after the attack in Paris. Westergaard is the Danish artist who created the controversial cartoon of the Prophet wearing a bomb in his turban: “Few days ago the police discovered another terrorist plan to attack my newspaper, the Jyllands Posten,” Westergaard said. “My house is protected as a bunker with cameras. I am always guarded by the policemen. Few months ago I had to attend a book presentation in Oslo. But the day before the Norwegian police asked me to cancel the event due to the terrorist threats.”

Five years after the publication of the cartoons, Westergaard still needs the same level of security of a Danish prime minister. “I am not a brave man, but I am 76-years-old and have less fear of dying”, the cartoonist said. “The terrorists won’t silence me in the battle for the freedom of expression.”

Visiting the Jyllands Posten’s office is like entering a US embassy in an Arab country. The newspaper had erected a 2.5-metre high, one-kilometer long barbed-wire fence, complete with electronic surveillance, around its headquarters in Visby. Mail is scanned and newspaper staff members need ID cards to enter the buildings and the various floors.

Flemming Rose is the cultural editor who took the initiative of publishing the cartoons. When he attended a conference in Oxford, the British police had to set up “the same protection as for Michael Jackson.” In Sweden the target is Lars Vilks, who was even named in a threat message sent prior to a suicide bombing in Stockholm last year. In the Netherlands, where filmmaker Theo van Gogh was killed by a fundamentalist for his criticism of Islam, cartoonist Gregorious Nekshot uses a pseudonym to protect his own identity.

‘Atmosphere of fear’

The office of Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP famous for his critics of Islam, lies in the most isolated corner of Parliament. It was chosen because potential terrorists can get through only one corridor, making it easier to protect him. Even the pencils of visitors are searched by the police. Wilders’ entourage is anonymous. He even slept for a while in a military barrack for security reasons. When the alert level is high, Wilders doesn’t know where he will spend the night.

“I could go to a restaurant, but the police should empty it before my arrival,” Wilders once told me.

At the University of Leiden, Rembrandt’s famous city, the office of Professor Afshin Ellian is protected by bulletproof walls and policemen. “In Holland Rousseau, Locke, Sade and Spinoza were able to publish their books,” Ellian said during our meeting in Leiden. “Holland was the hope of Europe. But it’s no more. Now there is an atmosphere of fear if you criticize Islam.”…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Evidence of Oil Off Greenland Coast

Find comes after drill last year indicated presence of natural gas

Greenland has taken one step closer to an oil rush after Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy today announced it had found signs of hydrocarbons in two wells drilled there this summer. The wells, drilled at a depth of nearly a kilometre about 200 km off the coast of the capital city of Nuuk, reportedly hit “reservoir quality sands” that could hold oil and gas deposits. This is the second time in two years the company has found evidence of oil or natural gas.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

FIFA Allows England, Scotland and Wales to Wear Poppy

Fifa has agreed that the England, Scotland and Wales teams can wear poppies on black armbands during the upcoming internationals.

The move came after Prince William and Prime Minister David Cameron wrote to Fifa asking that England be allowed to wear shirts embroidered with poppies.

Fifa bans political, religious or commercial messages on shirts.

England and Wales have agreed to the compromise. Scotland will consult their opponents before making a decision.

England will wear the armbands in Saturday’s friendly against Spain.

“The FA welcomes Fifa’s decision and thanks them for agreeing to this,” the Football Association said in a statement.

The Football Association of Wales confirmed its players will wear the armbands for their match with Norway on Saturday.

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan said they hoped to adopt the same approach for the friendly against Cyprus in Larnaca on Friday night.

Regan said: “The decision is a pragmatic solution to the fact that Fifa’s rules forbid the wearing of the poppy on the match shirt.

“Subject to the approval of the Cypriot FA as the host nation we will also adopt this approach in our friendly match on Friday night.

“We believe this is a fitting way to show our respect for those members of the armed forces who have lost their lives fighting for their country.”

The Fifa announcement of the compromise came shortly after it was revealed that the Duke of Cambridge had written a letter to world football’s governing body in his position as president of the FA.

Clarence House said the Prince was “dismayed” by Fifa’s initial stance ahead of Saturday’s England match against Spain…

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

France: Nidra Poller on the Auto Da Fe in Paris. It’s No Joke

by Richard Landes

Nidra Poller has a piece on the Charlie Hebdo bombing in Paris well worth considering. The incident itself was a classic example of the effort to spread Sharia to the West, especially in the form of showing “respect” for the Prophet Muhammad. This began in earnest when, ten years into his millennial project of the “Islamic Republic of Iran,” Khoumeini put out a fatwa condemning Salman Rushie to death for his blasphemous Satanic Verses (which neither Khoumeini nor his advisors had read).


“Because the day might come when newspaper offices have to be protected by the police in France, like synagogues, Jewish community centers, and day schools.”

Precisely. The “progressive” West has no idea what it’s dealing with, and its thinking is so deeply confused by unacknowledged agendas in the narcissistic wars of small differences, that we can’t even begin to think straight about so serious a problem.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Charlie Hebdo Front Cover Depicts Muslim Man Kissing Cartoonist

French satirical magazine does not hold back in latest issue despite firebomb attack after printing Muhammad cartoon

Its offices have been firebombed, its website hacked, its Facebook page suspended for 24 hours and its staff targeted with death threats, so you might have thought the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo would have tried — just for a while — to avoid upsetting anyone. Mais non! After provoking all the above with last week’s special edition “guest edited” by the prophet Muhammad, entitled Charia Hebdo, which took pot-shots at radical Islam, the publication is set to raise a few more hackles with this week’s edition, published on Wednesday.

On the front page of the latest edition is a drawing of a male Charlie Hebdo cartoonist passionately kissing a bearded Muslim man, under the headline: L’Amour plus fort que la haine (love is stronger than hate). In the background of the cartoon, signed Luz, are the ashes of the magazine’s offices, completely destroyed in the Molotov cocktail attack last week.

Unlike the previous edition, which featured a front page carton of the prophet and a speech bubble reading “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter”, there is no suggestion that the character on the magazine cover is Muhammad.

After the firebombing, French Muslim groups who had been highly critical of Charlie Hebdo, condemned the destruction of its offices. Dalil Boubakeur head of the Paris Mosque, told journalists: “I am extremely attached to the freedom of the press, even if the press is not always tender with Muslims, Islam or the Paris Mosque”. The editor of Charlie Hebdo, Stéphane Charbonnier, said at the time: “We thought the lines had moved and maybe there would be more respect for our satirical work, our right to mock. Freedom to have a good laugh is as important as freedom of speech.” Since then, the magazine’s staff have been given a temporary home in the offices of France’s leading leftwing daily newspaper Libération, which has also been subject to threats from the Turkish hackers who are said to have pirated Charlie Hebdo’s site. Luz, the cartoonist, refused to condemn extremists for the attack. “Let’s be cautious. There’s every reason to believe it’s the work of fundamentalists, but it could just as well be the work of two drunks,” he wrote afterwards.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Parliament Suspended After Finance Minister Taunts Socialists

The lower house of the French parliament had to be suspended on Tuesday afternoon after left-wing members of parliament were outraged by remarks made by finance minister François Baroin. Socialist member of parliament Pierre-Alain Muet kicked off the incident by challenging Baroin over an “absence of courage” in the most recent austerity plans announced by the government.

A clearly irritated Baroin responded by listing a series of issues where he claimed the Socialists had lacked courage themselves. These included promises to reinstate 60,000 jobs in the education system and to reverse the government’s proposed reforms to the retirement age. The Socialist were then infuriated when Baroin went on to say that they and other left-wing parties had seized power in the 1997 parliamentary elections through “breaking and entering” (in French, “par effraction”).

“Is it courageous to lie, to resort to electioneering, to hide the truth and to cling to outdated Socialist ideas that led you to power, through breaking and entering, in 1997?” he said. Outraged Socialist MPs booed the finance minister as he continued speaking. Some rose from their seats while others started to leave. Balls of paper were thrown at Baroin, one of which he managed to catch, and stewards of the chamber even blocked the aisles to prevent a more serious incident.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

French Zoo Steps Up Rhino Surveillance Against Poachers

A French zoo has placed its white rhinos under video surveillance fearing poachers could kill them for their horns which can fetch hundreds of thousands of euros on the black market. The owner of the Thoiry zoo and wildlife park west of Paris took the measure following a spate of rhino horn thefts from zoos and museums around Europe, broadening security measures already in place for small primates.

“We have extended the surveillance that we initiated for our small monkeys, which were regularly stolen and sold illegally, to the white rhinos that weigh 2.5 tonnes,” zoo owner Paul de la Panouse told AFP. “Their enclosures are under surveillance by cameras and staff who make regular rounds.”

Rhinos are often poached for their horns, made of keratin and sold on the black market for ornamental or medicinal purposes, particularly in Asia. Horns can fetch between €25,000 and €200,000 ($34,500 and $277,000) depending on their size. Panouse said that thieves had already stolen rhino horns that had been on display for educational purposes from the Sigean wildlife park in the south west of the country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece’s Food and Drink Exports Grow

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, NOVEMBER 2 — Food and drinks remain the strongest category in Greek exports, accounting for 17% of the total in the first seven months of the year, as daily Kathimerini reports citing data issued on Tuesday by Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) and Hellenic Foreign Trade Board.

Exports of food and drinks amounted to 2.1 billion euros in the January-July 2011 period, up by 6.2% from the same period last year. Compared with the first seven months of 2005 the increase comes to 48%. The top 10 of Greece’s food and drinks includes fresh fruit, fish, prepackaged vegetables, prepackaged fruit, olive oil, cheese (led by feta) and alcoholic drinks, among others. The bulk of olive oil exports (which have risen 14.9% within one year) are destined for Italy, followed by markets with many Greek expats, such as Germany, Canada and the U.S.

More encouraging is the fact that huge markets such as Russia and China are also showing a growing interest in Greek food and drink products. ELSTAT figures indicate that Russia is the fifth-biggest destination for Greek olive oil, while China is the eighth.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

How Christianity Portrayed Jesus as a Warrior to Woo the Vikings

Thor and Odin would have probably beaten Christ in a fist fight, but didn’t have the continental clout to see him off in the long-term

Before the arrival of Christianity, Denmark followed the religion that we refer to today as Norse mythology, a unique and distinct blend of beliefs with a complicated system of associations. In Norse mythology, there are nine worlds, each connected by the world tree, ‘Yggdrasil’. With a host of gods including Odin, Thor and Loki, the religion is characterised by its myths and legends and focuses on man’s quest to achieve glory or honour in this world in order to be accepted into the next. It is one of history’s ironies that the Viking expansion into Europe actually set about the beginning of the end for the Viking religion. As Vikings came into increasing contact with Christians in continental Europe and Britain, their acceptance of Christianity grew — particularly as more and more married Christians. In many cases, however, Vikings converted to Christianity as a way to secure alliances and ensure neighbouring realms would not attack on religious grounds. Some of the earliest Danish Christians were merchants, who were forced to convert to Christianity as a way of trading with their continental peers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘I Am Tired’: The Berlusconi Interview: A Singular Political Career Draws to a Close

Berlusconi speaks with La Stampa’s editor, confirming his plans to resign, but insisting that new elections must be called, even if he will no longer be a candidate. He also compares himself to Mussolini and lashes out at those who “betrayed” him

It’s late at night, and you’d expect to find the man worn out and depressed. Instead, Silvio Berlusconi’s voice coming over the telephone line is lively, even if his words are clear and unambiguous. “As soon as the stability pact is approved in Parliament, I will resign. And seeing as there are no other potential governing coalitions, the only possibility I see are elections in early February — elections in which I will no longer be the candidate.”

In the words of the man known as “Il Cavaliere,” Berlusconi’s decision to step aside is complete and definitive. “The center-right candidate will be (current Freedom Party chief and former Justice Minister) Angelino Alfano. He is accepted by everyone and it would be a mistake to taint him now in trying to imagine a new (transitional) government headed by him.”

It seems impossible to imagine that Silvio Berlusconi is really ready to pull out definitively from politics, but he confirms it to me several times, as he did earlier in a private meeting with the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano, who considers the resignation already handed in…

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

Italy: Lega Nord in the Opposition if Technical Govt is Formed

(AGI) Rome — The Lega Nord claimed that, if a technical government is formed, they will be in the opposition. “Being in the opposition is great. It is more fun “, Minister for Reforms and Lega Nord leader Umberto Bossi said answering reporters’ questions. “We are going to vote. Basically, we want early elections”, Bossi added. “I don’t know whether the Berlusconi era is approaching its end. We should ask him this question” Bossi said.

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

Italy: President Makes Mario Monti Life Senator

Former European commissioner tipped to head emergency govt

(ANSA) — Rome, November 9 — Italian President Giorgio Napolitano made former European commissioner Mario Monti a life Senator on Wednesday.

Monti is widely seen as the best choice to Premier Silvio Berlusconi when he quits if politicians agree to form an emergency interim administration tasked with steering Italy away from financial disaster. Monti is a highly respected economist and former commissioner for competition and for the internal market who is not aligned to any political party.

His nomination came shortly after Napolitano said that Italy will have a new government very soon or he will call snap elections.

“Either a new government that can take every further necessary decision with the confidence of parliament will be formed or parliament will be dissolved to start an electoral campaign that will take place within a very short time period,” Napolitano said.

Berlusconi, whose majority in parliament has crumbled away, told Napolitano on Tuesday that he would resign once economic reforms demanded by the European Union were passed through parliament.

Italian bonds and shares have continued to come under attack on the markets though amid concern about the uncertainty of political scenarios of a country whose sovereign-debt crisis risks spiraling out of control. It was announced later on Wednesday that the law is scheduled to obtain definitive approval at a vote in the Lower House on Saturday.

Napolitano also sought to allay concerns Italy could face political gridlock.

“The fears that a prolonged period of government and parliamentary inactivity could take place in Italy are unfounded as urgent measures can be adopted any time if necessary,” Napolitano said.

Berlusconi has said early elections should be held in February but the opposition parties want a government of national unity to be formed immediately to manage the financial crisis.

Some members of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party (PdL) are considering defecting to form a new group that would support a national unity government to prevent a period of political limbo at such a difficult time. “That’s the direction we’re going in,” one of the malcontent PdL MPs, Roberto Antonione, told ANSA . “The decision will be taken by tomorrow and will lead to the creation of a new group within the (already existing) Mixed Group”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Nearly Half of Forced Marriage Brides German

Nearly half of those in forced marriages or in danger of such in Germany are German citizens, while around a third are minors, according to the most detailed study of the practice to date. The study, commissioned by the Ministry for Family Affairs, threw up a number of surprises, as well as confirming much that is already known about forced marriages, said the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday which had advance access to the report, due to be launched the same day.

Nearly all of those concerned came from migrant families, with the most common country of origin of the parents being Turkey, followed by the former Yugoslavia and Iraq, according to the report. More than 80 percent of the parents concerned were Muslim, while nearly 10 percent were Yazidist, a Kurdish religion, and more than three percent were Christians.

Yet the study’s authors, from the Hamburg-based Lawaetz Foundation and the women’s organisation Terre des Femmes, warned against regarding the problem as an Islamic one — factors such as tradition, images of masculinity and poverty should not be ignored, they stressed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Abuse Figures: Forced Marriages in Germany More Prevalent Than Thought

A new study has revealed that thousands of young women and girls in forced marriages seek help every year in Germany. The vast majority of victims come from Muslim families, and many have been threatened with violence or even death. The numbers involved are much higher than previously suspected.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Italian Brand to France, PPR Buys Brioni

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, NOVEMBER 8 — Another Italian brand has moved to France. The French luxury and distribution group PPR has announced its purchase of the Italian prêt-a-porter menswear label Brioni, which it had been eyeing up for some months. Brioni was founded in 1945 by Nazareno Fonticoli and Gaetano Savini, and is famous throughout the world for dressing a number of heads of state and actors, including the James Bond actors Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan. The financial details of the operation have not been disclosed. PPR have “signed a deal with Brioni shareholders in view of the purchase of 100% of capital” in the brand, a statement says, though no details were disclosed on the figure of the transaction, which is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of 2012. The purchase of Brioni is in line with the strategy of PPR, which eventually intends to sell its distribution sector in order to concentrate on luxury goods focussed on Gucci and on sportswear based around Puma. PPR already controls Yves Saint-Laurent, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney and AlexanderMcQueen. Recently, other Italian labels have moved to France, including Bulgari (bought by LVMH) and Moncler (by the Eurazeo fund).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Soros: EU Disintegration Poses Threat to Roma

International financier and philanthropist George Soros has warned that a European process of “disintegration” is heightening the threat to the continent’s minorities, in particular the Roma. As a result of both government cuts and the increase in support for far-right parties, the eurozone crisis is having a dangerous affect on the Europe’s most vulnerable groups.

He also said that EU leaders’ attempts to preserve the Union’s political “status quo” are “unsustainable”. “The problem of the Roma is deteriorating with the economic situation. And the majority of the public is releasing its anger and frustration at its own economic situation by attacking the Roma,” he told EUobserver in an exclusive interview while in the European capital for a conference on Roma rights in the European Parliament on Tuesday (8 November).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Farmer Dies After Being Attacked by Wild Boar

A 60-year-old man has died after being attacked by a wild boar on his own farm “La Garrofera” in the town of Tous (Valencia). The farmer, Miguel E., who had suffered a heart attack recently, had wounds in the groin and his hands and face were covered in blood “as if he had tried to defend himself against the attack”.

The incident occurred at around 11am on Saturday morning in an orange grove belonging to the victim. Local police from nearby Guadassuar and forensic experts were called to the scene. Tous is a town where 90% of the residents regularly go hunting, and the locals insist “it is unheard of” and “nothing like this has never happened before” and that it’s a “one in a million chance”. According to information provided by the police, the farmer had called his son to tell him he’d been injured, but when the son and a neighbour turned up at the property he had already died and they could do nothing for him.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Srdja Trifkovic: the End of the Berlusconi Era

Silvio Berlusconi has been around for so long that it is hard to imagine Italian politics without him occupying the center stage. The end of his era is nigh, however, to the relief of his opponents as well as many of his erstwhile supporters. Berlusconi announced on Tuesday night that he would resign as Prime Minister as soon as the Chamber adopts a new financial stability law that will include an EU-imposed austerity package, probably within two weeks.

Only hours earlier Berlusconi had lost his parliamentary majority after Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League and his key coalition partner, called on him to resign. After meeting him for an hour on Tuesday, President Giorgio Napolitano said the Prime Minister had understood the implications of the vote and accepted the “urgent need” for the country to respond quickly to the demands from Brussels for legislative action in line with the European Commission diktat. The immediate challenge for his successors will be to put together a stable enough government—possibly led by non-party technocrats—able to apply sweeping EU-dictated austerity measures in a country that has had, on average, about one government a year since the Second World War.

The Italian political class is breathing a collective sigh of relief, but it seems clear that no domestic combinazioni could have forced Berlusconi to go so soon. Only weeks ago he seemed impregnable. The immediate cause of his pending departure is the pressure from Berlin and Paris to make Italy take a hefty dose of the bitter medicine already prescribed to Greece, and the loss of faith in Berlusconi’s ability to administer it.. This is the first time a major European country, and a founding member of the Six at that, has had its domestic political arrangements so decisively impacted by the dominant EU powers.

A century and a half after Italy shook off first Austrian rule and then French tutelage and became independent, it is still vulnerable to the vincolo esterno, the external constraint. The pressure started in late August when Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, and his Italian successor, Mario Draghi (who took over the ECB on November 1), jointly warned Berlusconi that “pressing action by the Italian authorities is essential to restore the confidence of investors..” Over the ensing two months, however, he did little to demonstrate Italy’s ability to reduce its massive public debt and stimulate growth. The concern in Brussels and Berlin was unsurprising: Italy’s economy is three times the size of Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined. The EU would be unable to raise enough capital to bail her out if it were to default on its debt payments. A failure of any kind in Italy would finally destroy the eurozone as a whole.

On October 23, at the first of two most recent Euro-summits dealing with the eurozone crisis, Berlusconi was told by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy to bring a convincing reform blueprint to the next EU gathering which was scheduled in Brussels only three days later. Their smirks and contemptuous treatment of the Italian premier prompted even his political foes back in Rome to start murmuring Euro-skeptic heresies. (The humiliation also prompted Berlusconi to make some unprintable remarks about Chancellor Merkel’s appearance and feminine charms.) He returned to Brussels on October 26 with a hastily drafted package of measures to boost growth and cut Italy’s public debt, but Frau Merkel is said to have been underwhelmed by more promises of future measures. Her decision that Berlusconi should go—with Sarkozy merely pretending to count in the making of that decision—is probably some two weeks old…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

Stone Age Paintings Found in Swabia

Archaeologists have found cave paintings thought to be Central Europe’s oldest such artwork in Baden-Württemberg’s Swabian Alps. They found four painted stones from the cave Hohle Fels near Schelklingen, although the meaning of the red-brown spots is still a mystery. The stone paintings, thought to be 15,000 years old, are being displayed at a special exhibition at the University of Tübingen’s museum.

The spots don’t seem particularly artistic at first glance. But they are important because they represent the first time such old paintings have been found in Central Europe, although similar work has been seen in France and Spain. The stones at Hohe Fels appear to have been painted with a mixture of red chalk and lime, with water from the cave, said excavation technician Maria Malina. “These spots are anything but accidental,” said archaeologist Nicholas Conard who assisted on the find. “It is quite clear that they have relevant content.”

What it all really means remains unclear. There is speculation the spots could refer to shamanism or be a menstrual calendar of sorts. Hohle Fels has been a magnet for archaeologists in recent years after researchers working there found a Venus figure and flutes thought to be 40,000 years old.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Stone Age Art: Archeologists Find Central Europe’s Oldest Painting

The Hohle Fels cave in southern Germany has yielded yet another startling archeological discovery — the oldest evidence of human painting ever found in Central Europe. The meaning of the stones painted with red and brown dots, however, remains unclear.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Street Crime Wave Hits Europe’s Capital

(Reuters) — A wave of theft and vandalism has hit the downtown of Europe’s capital, only blocks away from where leaders have been trying to fix the continent’s debt crisis, provoking the local police chief to blame immigrants and drug addicts.

While government heads pulled up in the past few days in luxury cars shielded by security vehicles, the streets nearby revealed a cruder side to Europe’s economic troubles — shattered car window glass lining one major avenue and a slew of store windows smashed in a nearby neighborhood.

The daily average tallied 26 thefts from vehicles, 13 pickpocket incidents and nine violent thefts in October in the zone of Brussels-Capital and Ixelles, according to police. The zone covers large parts of the Brussels metropolitan area including the city center.

Pickpocket incidents in the year up to November 1 were up to 3,020 this year from 2,509 in the same period of 2010. Violent robberies rose to 1,955 from 1,725. Thefts from vehicles declined to 6,200 in the period this year from 6,500 last — but in October they went up by 16 percent.

Police chief Guido Van Wymerschn says that rime is rising due to drug addicts and illegal immigrants.

Alexandre Aichtar, who was born in Belgium of Pakistani descent and works at his father’s grocery store, said joblessness and discrimination were at the root of much crime.

“If you are black or your name is Muhammad or something it’s harder to get a job. So people steal, do everything, to feed their family,” he said.

But he added that the police were not hard enough on criminals.

“Sometimes they take drug dealers out but after a half an hour they are free, so what is the point,” Aichtar said. “They should put them in jail and hit them, like in Pakistan.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: A Dilemma for Rushanara Ali

Ever heard of the Muslim Professionals Forum? Me neither. It has a slightly dated website here and it is run out of an office alongside the Limehouse Cut by a Mohammed Khaled Noor. He is an immigration lawyer and styles himself as a “barrister”; he may well be but he is not listed on the Bar Council’s directory.

It says its aims and objectives are:

1. To build a common platform for Muslim professionals and to promote ethical values and understanding.
2. To enjoy, achieve and learn an Islamic way of life and cultural heritage through open and intellectual engagement.
3. To train and prepare Muslim professionals to face modern intellectual challenges.
4. To promote dialogue and ethos of peaceful coexistence among cultures, ideas and people.
5. To organise seminars, symposiums and cultural events and to publish articles and periodicals.

And its website recommends the following links:


On November 19th, this forum will be staging a debate entitled, The August Riots: Is ]

The keynote speaker is Bennite Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn from Islington, but it’s the list below his name which has caused many eyebrows to be raised. Firstly, there’s George Galloway’s old pal, Anas Altikriti.. He is the former head of the Muslim Association of Britain, often regarded as the UK arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. He’s now president of the Cordoba Foundation which has friendly relations with Hizb ut-Tahrir, even to the point of distributing Tower Hamlets council money to them in 2008.

Then there’s Dal Babu, a policeman whose rise up the ranks of the Metropolitan Police over the last few years has been astounding. When I was at the East London Advertiser, he was a Tower Hamlets Chief Inspector in charge of press relations. I’m sure he must have been very good at his other roles but in his liaison role, he certainly was not. He regarded the council paper East End Life as the major outlet and he pretty much lost our trust, promising us one thing only to do another, although he did maintain very good relations with Galloway’s Respect team. He then moved to Scotland Yard, became chair of the Association of Muslim Police and two years ago he got the Harrow job.

Also speaking is Neil Jameson, the director of London Citizens, and two stalwarts from the Islamic Forum of Europe: its president, Dilowar Khan, and the ever-present Azad Ali, whose profile has been relatively low since he got into trouble with his bosses at the civil service and who once said of the now dead Al Qaeda mastermind Anwar Al Awlaki, “I really do love him for the sake of Allah, he has an uncanny way of explaining things to people which is endearing..” Which does explain why many are concerned at the final name of the list of speakers: Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali. Some are worried that by attending she will be giving what they consider to be an event organised by front organisations for Jamaat e Islami a moderate and mainstream veneer. Some think she is being used, that she’s being set up. Others say she is being hypocritical: that she should not be engaging with what is largely an IFE event when they opposed her becoming an MP. I’ve spoken to Rushanara about this and her position is quite clear: she is the constituency MP, a fellow MP is attending, she has nothing to gain by going, but that it is important to engage in debate and challenge “any intolerable views”.

Jim Fitzpatrick, the MP for neighbouring Poplar and Limehouse, takes a different view: he would never attend events with many of these people. I can understand Rushanara’s view and I think I’d like to go along to the debate and listen to the views. The thing is, I’d also like to take my friend. She’s female. I’d like to sit next to her so we can discuss together. But we won’t be able to because the event will be segregated. Maybe that’s how Broken Britain will stop the riots..

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: High Court Throws Out Dudley Mosque Defence

DUDLEY Muslim Association’s defence to Dudley Council’s application to buy back land at Hall Street has been thrown out by the High Court. A judge made the decision yesterday, which has been welcomed by council bosses. The council lodged the court bid to pursue the buyback clause, which maintained the council was entitled to buy back the Hall Street land, if the mosque was not substantially underway by December 31, 2008. Councillor Les Jones, leader of the council, said: “We welcome today’s High Court ruling which we hope brings us close to an end of this unfortunate dispute. “The judge has acknowledged the strength of the council’s case and stated that he would not wish to raise the expectations of the DMA with any future defence they may choose to enter.”

The judge also gave the DMA until December 20 to submit an amended defence. However council bosses confirmed they would go back to court to get any future amended defences thrown out, which would ensure the matter is resolved without the need for a full High Court hearing, currently scheduled for the end of 2012. During the hearing the judge also made reference to any future legal action from the DMA could obstruct a practical solution being worked out between the parties. Councillor Jones added: “We will now continue to work with the DMA to resolve this unfortunate dispute and find an appropriate solution to meet the needs of the whole community.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Inmate Kevan Thakrar Cleared Over Prison Guards Attack

Thakrar, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, was cleared of two counts of attempted murder and three counts of wounding with intent at Newcastle Crown Court.

Thakrar is serving a life sentence for the drug-related murder of three men and the attempted murder of two women in 2007.

The court heard he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of previous prison experiences…

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: The Sanctification of Public Nuisance

Extraordinarily, in St Paul’s Churchyard a public nuisance has been elevated into a political and spiritual milestone. In the Times (£) Ken Macdonald, the UK’s former Director of Public Prosecutions, believes that the cathedral ‘has become so suddenly a centre for moral England’ apparently because of the tented protest on its precincts against ‘the City’s blank morals and its tragically advanced greed… a broader resistance that hates the vulgarity and theft of a system of deregulation and licence that fails to understand the value of wealth or the meaning of debt, or a fair and just accommodation between these twin sins that will always be with us’.

Well yes, people who work in money-making are part of a general culture of greed and shallowness which bespeak a society mired in selfishness. You only have to listen to young people at school or university, whose goal is not to become doctors or teachers but to make as much money as fast as possible, to grasp this. But the tented ‘Occupy’ protest is not targeting this wider breakdown of a culture of moral obligation. It does not acknowledge the part played in the economic meltdown by cynical and opportunistic politicians buying votes through irresponsible public spending or failing adequately to regulate the financial markets; nor the part played by the general public in spending what they didn’t have and thus building up ruinous debt.

No, the tented ones are instead singling out and scapegoating ‘greedy bankers’ on the grounds that they make too much money. Well, just how much is too much? By whose standards? Why not on that basis set up tented encampments in the grounds of the mansions owned by football stars, rock music producers or Bill Gates and Sergey Brin?

Nevertheless, Macdonald is correct. The tented protest has struck a general chord. But it is a chord of moral incoherence. Today, St Paul’s produces its much-heralded report on ethics and the City of London, which according to the Times (£) reveals that finance professionals believe simultaneously that bankers, stockbrokers and senior FTSE staff are overpaid and that they themselves are mainly motivated by making money. In an introduction to the report Dr Giles Fraser, who resigned as Canon Chancellor over the threat to evict the campers, says: ‘But the real tug to do what is right comes from looking into the face of another and recognising an obligation to someone other than oneself.’ Amen to that. The supremacy of our obligation to others is fundamental to the morality of the Hebrew Bible from which Christianity is drawn. But when it comes to the tented encampment, moral obligation is being chucked down the drain along with some other rather important stuff.

The campers are being treated with something approaching veneration on the grounds that they are saying something very important and very moral. What is that something? Well, insofar as there is a coherent message it is that capitalism sucks and that bankers are greedy. Since a) the campers and their supporters all benefit themselves from the consumer society and b) capitalism is the guarantor of their political freedoms, this is no more than egregious hypocrisy laced with envy and spite. Moreover, since capitalism is the governing creed of modernity, the ‘Occupy’ movement is yet another example of the headlong rush back to the brutal, impoverished, tyrannical pre-modern past (of which deep green environmentalism, incidentally, is the signature political motif) that has turned the phrase ‘left-wing progressive’ into an Orwellian travesty.

But more striking even than all that is the moral confusion over the encampment itself. Viewed entirely benevolently as a peaceful protest, it is thus considered sacrosanct. The cathedral backed off evicting the campers mainly because the clerics feared that violence would be used in the process — by which they seemed to mean any kind of physical act of removal. The City of London also backed off the eviction process at least until Christmas. The underlying assumption seemed to be that the campers had a right to protest anywhere, and that as long as their protest was peaceful any kind of forcible eviction was illegitimate.

But no-one has the moral right to do anything that is detrimental to others. As Dr Fraser says, doing the right thing means above all recognising an obligation to someone other than oneself. And although Dr Fraser may not agree with this, in forcibly occupying what is both church property and public space in this way the campers are simply riding roughshod over both the right of the church to its own property and the rights of everyone else to that public space. The encampment may not be violent, but it is nevertheless a conspicuous example of passive aggression. The forcible occupation of private property/public space is an aggressive act towards everyone else — backed up, in this case, by some ripely sanctimonious but essentially left-wing bullying. In other words, the real message of the St Paul’s encampment is that force wins. This message will unquestionably have consequences way beyond the cathedral precincts. Any half-sentient law enforcement official understands that control of the streets is the essence of public order. If the streets are surrendered to the lawless, the police can no longer protect the law-abiding.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Croatia: Former School for Communists to Go to Church

(ANSAmed) — ZAGREB, NOVEMBER 9 — A building formerly housing the school of politics for the training of the Communist managerial class in the Yugoslav period located in Kumrovec, the hometown of Marshall Josip Broz Tito in northern Croatia, is to be given to the Croatian Catholic Church as part of compensation for the assets confiscated after 1945, according to reports in today’s daily Jutarnji List. The Zagreb government has recently reached an agreement with Croatian bishops on the real estate which for various reasons cannot be returned directly to the Church since they are used by the State, universities or other authorities.

In exchange, the Church has been offered substitute buildings or monetary compensation. Among the buildings which are to become Church property is one which used to house the Kumrovec school of politics, located not far from the house in which in 1892 Josip Broz Tito was born, leader of the partisans’ resistance during WWII and president of Socialist Yugoslavia until his death in 1980. The decision met with perplexity among the local population. Kumrovec’s mayor Dragutin Ulama said that the Church is welcome but on the condition that it respect the traditions and touristic value of the historical location. “I hope that it will be able to respect the international renown of this place, and the fact that Tito’s memory brings at least 55,000 tourists to our village every year, most of whom foreigners,” he said.

The public opinion of Tito in Croatia is sharply divided. Some consider her a heroic anti-fascist leader and advocate of anti-Stalinist socialism which was able to bring together Yugoslav populations, while others believe he was a cruel dictator who persecuted his political enemies and suppressed religious freedom.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

TV: Al Jazeera Balkans to Start Broadcasts on Friday

(ANSAmed) — SARAJEVO/BELGRADE/SKOPJE, NOVEMBER 9 — On Friday, at 6 pm, Al Jazeera Balkans will start broadcasting from the central studios in Sarajevo. The recently created news channel will focus on the Balkan region. The regional channel will also have offices in Belgrade, Zagreb and Skopje, and can be followed in the local languages via cable and satellite (Eutelsat). The current schedule includes six hours of news, interviews, comments and analyses, using a regional network of journalists and reporters. Al Jazeera already broadcasts in Arabic and English.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Dutch MPs Cancel Egypt Trip

Egypt has refused to allow Dutch MP Raymond de Roon to enter the country. He was part of a parliamentary delegation due to visit Egypt at the end of this week. The parliamentary foreign affairs commission has decided to cancel the entire visit. It says it up to the Dutch parliament to decide who is in the delegation.

Freedom Party MP De Roon believes he was refused a visa because he has accused Egypt of carrying out ethnic cleansing of its Christian Copt minority. At least 25 people were killed in October when a peaceful protest march by Copts turned into a bloodbath. “It would have been better if Egypt had said: come along and we’ll show you there is no ethnic cleansing” he commented.

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders was furious and called it a shameful decision by a small-minded country. He added that nothing has changed in Egypt and the new regime is “just as barbaric” as the previous one. Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said it was “the kind of thing you have to deal with” in a country in transition towards democracy but has summoned the Egyptian ambassador for an explanation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Libya: Jibril: Gaddafi Killed Due to Foreign Order

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 9 — Muammar Gaddafi was killed due to orders that came “from a foreign party”, according to Mahmoud Jibil, the head of the provisional Libyan government, speaking in an interview with CNN reported on today by Algerian daily Liberté. Jibril did not add any details to clarify who the ‘foreign party’ that ordered the death of the ex-dictator might be. Jibril revealed that he was not pleased with the fact that Gaddafi was murdered because if captured, many of his secrets could have been revealed: “this man had relations with many countries and many heads” of state. Stating that he has no proof of an assassination, Jibril said that in his view, if the rebels wanted to kill Gaddafi they would have done it immediately. “The fact that he was captured, closely watched for a short span of time, and was then killed, is proof that the rebels received an order to kill him,” was his comment. The foreign party, added Jibril, could be a state, a president or head of state, “in any case, it was a person who wanted to kill Gaddafi so that he would not tell his secrets”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya’s Berbers Feel Rejected by Transitional Government

Libya’s Berbers, or Amazigh, played a crucial role in the battle against the Gadhafi regime. Now they say they feel let down by the transitional government which has as yet to recognize them and their language.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tripoli vs. The ICC: Who Should Bring Gadhafi’s Son to Justice?

Now that the fighting has ceased in Libya, the lawyers have taken center stage. The International Criminal Court in The Hague and Tripoli’s new leaders can’t agree on who should put Moammar Gadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam on trial — or even whether the manhunt for the deposed dictator itself can be called off.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Peace Through Strength

David Ha’ivri

Who was it that said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Israel has been in a “peace process” with the Palestinians for the past 17 years. Neither side can now say that there has been great progress, and many might say even the opposite.

Israeli experts claim Palestinian threats of disbanding Authority unrealistic, but caution of far-reaching ramifications; ‘situation would portray Israel as occupying power facing defenseless civilians,’ says former IDF official

In order to conduct this process, the State of Israel surprised the world and reversed its longtime policy of not negotiating with the PLO terrorist group. This unheard-of path facilitated the rebirth of a bankrupt band of terrorists and brought their leadership out of unemployment on the shores of Tunis into the seats of government in the Palestinian Authority in the main cities of the “West Bank.”

Over the past 17 years America, Israel and the international community have funneled many billions of dollars into the PLO to establish the Palestinian Authority and assist it in becoming an independent country in Gaza and the West Bank. The results have been disappointing at best.

The PLO has proven to be a corrupt bunch of thugs who terrorize their own people on a regular basis, and their leadership has been systematically embezzling international aid money. This conduct has been the basis for the current boost in Islamic Hamas popularity on the Palestinian street. As a result, Hamas leadership won the last Palestinian elections.

This is not to say that the PLO is better for Israel. The PLO is regularly considered the Palestinians’ moderate leadership because of their willingness to negotiate with Israel. This is a misconception; in fact they are not moderate at all. What they are is pragmatic. They understand that there is much for them to gain through “diplomatic” channels, but their goal has remained the same: the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.

While they demand that “Palestine” in Gaza and the West Bank be cleansed of all Jewish residents, they continue to refuse to recognize Israel as Jewish and demand that it be an inclusive state that offers citizenship to all descendants of Arabs who voluntarily left the land as Israel was established. They understand that the influx of fix or six million children and grandchildren of the so-called “Palestinian refugees” into Israel’s society would bring an end to Israel as a Jewish State.

So, with the Oslo process bringing us nowhere, the ongoing disappointment with the PLO leadership and the growing support for the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot Hamas (whose official charter openly calls for genocide of the Jews,) what is the answer? Can there be peace in Israel? Will we see normalization of civil behavior between Israel and its neighbors? I believe that peace and normalization are attainable, but will only come about when we acknowledge the environment we live in and stop trying to force a Western mindset on Middle Eastern peoples…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Tories Warn of ‘Severe’ Consequences if UK Abstains in Palestinian UN Vote

Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill, says UK wrong to deny self-determination to Palestinians

Nicholas Soames, the former Conservative defence minister who is Winston Churchill’s grandson, tends to ration his interventions these days. So when Soames speaks out, as he did on the Middle East on Tuesday night, the Conservative party takes note. In a strongly worded statement, Soames warned that Britain would face “severe” consequences if it abstains in a vote on Palestinian statehood at the UN on Friday. William Hague will tell MPs on Wednesday that Britain will abstain if a vote is held at the UN security council. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, may push for a vote if he can muster nine supporters on the 15-strong security council. That may be too high a hurdle because at least three of the EU members of the security council — Britain, France and Portugal — will abstain. It is expected that Germany, which takes great care not to offend Israel at the UN for obvious historical reasons, may also abstain.

At one level the vote, if it happens, would be academic. This is because the US would exercise its veto. But Soames, who is president of the Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC), believes that Britain will lose the goodwill it has built up in the Middle East during the Arab Spring if it abstains. He comes close to warning that Britain would stand accused of double standards for supporting the idea of self determination for every country in the Middle East and then denying that right to the Palestinians.

This is the statement which is also signed by Baroness Morris of Bolton, the chairman of CMEC:

We believe that Britain should vote in favour of Palestinian statehood at the UN Security Council on November 11th. As a good friend of Israel and Palestine, the UK has always supported a viable sovereign and secure Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel and this vote asks no more than that we should vote accordingly. This is the time for the UK to stand on the right side of history — especially because of our historical involvement through the British Mandate in Palestine and the Balfour Declaration. Public opinion is strongly on the side of the Palestinians, as shown by opinion polls showing 71% support for the Palestinian bid to be an independent state. Parliament should make its voice heard rather than standing on the side-lines as a passive spectator. The consequences of an abstention would be severe. The UK cannot support the right to self-determination in every country in the Middle East and then deny the same right to the Palestinians. The World Bank, IMF, UN and EU have all assessed the performance of the Palestinian Authority and reported that it is ready for statehood. President Obama promised in his speech to the UN last year that Palestine would be “a new member of the United Nations by September 2011. That promise was endorsed by the UK. We should honour that promise. If the UK supports recognition, this could open the way to negotiations between Israel and Palestine talking to one another for the first time on a basis of equality as neighbours.

If the UK votes against, this would run the risk of playing into the hands of extremists on both sides and spiralling into violence.

Some Conservatives believe that David Cameron is not adopting an even-handed approach on the Palestinian statehood declaration. Tony Blair, as the envoy for the “quartet”, has been playing a role in the negotiations. In the run up to the meeting of the UN general assembly in September I blogged about how Britain might be prepared to vote for the mild “Vatican option” in which the Palestinian Authority would be upgraded to a permanent non member at the UN. In the end Abbas lodged an application for full membership, prompting Friday’s security council meeting. Tory critics claim that the prime minister is nervous about taking a different stance to the US although Britain did vote to condemn illegal Israeli settlements in February. The US used its veto. But ministers say that Britain is adopting a cautious approach for two reasons. Ministers:

  • Hope to achieve European unity. Ministers believe that the EU, which is the largest single donor to the Palestinian Authority, is playing an increasingly influential role in the Middle East. Divisions among EU member states at the UN would undermine that influence.
  • Believe that the best way, at the moment, to achieve a two state solution is through talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. Britain is prepared to review its stance on this and may eventually be more supportive of the Palestinian position at the UN if Israel refuses to give ground on settlements. Nicolas Sarkozy highlighted widespread European frustration with Binyamin Netanyahu when he was caught on a microphone at the G20 summit telling Barack Obama that the Israeli prime minister was a “liar”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Caroline Glick: Waiting Out Obama

Over the past week, there has been an avalanche of news reports in the Israeli and Western media about the possibility of an imminent Israeli or American strike on Iran’s nuclear installations. These reports were triggered by a report on Iran’s nuclear program set to be published by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency later this week.

According to the media, the IAEA’s report will deal a devastating blow to Iran’s persistent claims that its illegal nuclear program is “peaceful.” Specifically, the IAEA report is expected to divulge information about Iran’s efforts to develop and test components that have no plausible use other than the production of nuclear weapons. These activities include experimentation with triggers used only for detonating nuclear weapons, and the development of missile warheads capable of carrying nuclear weapons. They also include the design of computer simulation programs to test nuclear weapons…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

French Expert: There Will be No Military Strike on Iran

Publication of UN evidence on Tuesday (8 November) that Iran is making nuclear weapons and recent Israeli war-talk is designed to stimulate new sanctions but is not a prelude to military strikes, a French expert has said. Bruno Tertrais, a fellow at the Paris-based Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique and a former advisor to the French ministry of defence, told EUobserver on Wednesday there are three options for military action against Iran.

The first is Israeli air strikes designed to delay the nuclear programme. The scenario would see Israeli F16s fly over Saudi Arabia to Iran in a one day operation that would likely achieve little in terms of damaging facilities.

The second is a bigger US-led campaign that would last several days, involve the use of strategic B2 bombers flying from the US or Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, firing naval-borne cruise missiles and parachuting in special forces to carry out sabotage, laser guiding and damage assessment.

The third option is a sustained US-led bombing campaign designed to cripple Iranian military infrastructure more broadly and to “shake the foundations of the regime.” EU countries, such as France and the UK, would get involved only in the event of a mass-scale Iranian retaliation.

Tertrais believes none of this will happen, however.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Halting Iran’s Nuclear Program: Former Mossad Chief Seeks to Avert Israeli Attack

Is Israel planning an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities? For months now, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has been publicly warning against such prospects. He’s hoping to prevent what he believes could be a catastrophe. His statements, however, have deeply angered the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

IDF Ready to Strike Iran

The fact that Israel is holding training sessions seen as practical preparations for striking Iran’s nuclear sites is no secret. Anyone following the intensive drills held by the Air Force in the Mediterranean and in distant regions, ranging from Romania to Sardinia, realizes that Netanyahu’s and Barak’s declarations that Israel will not tolerate nuclear arms in Iranian hands is backed up by practical capabilities developed by the Air Force and by our military industries.

Based on the raging public discourse in recent days, we can estimate that a military option is available.

No less importantly, the international community and the Iranians fully realize that Israel’s top politicians are seriously considering such strike in order to curb or at least delay the Iranian race to the bomb. This is assuming there is no non-military, efficient option to secure this aim. Meanwhile, the former IDF chief of staff, Mossad director and Shin Bet head, as well as the current ones, and some of our top ministers are also not rejecting the possibility of a strike out of hand.

However, the above is contingent upon absolute certainty that Iran has already started to produce the bomb and that all other ways to prevent Tehran from doing so have been exhausted. In such case, and only in such case, Israel would have no choice but to thwart the existential threat we face as result of nuclear arms in Iranian hands, even at the price of the casualties and damage to be sustained by Israel as result of Iran’s response (and that of its allies — Syria, Hezbollah and the Palestinian groups in Gaza.)

However, the above scenario is still relatively far off, as according to all estimates the Iranians are not expected to complete their preparations to produce nuclear weapons before 2015.

Until that time, harsh global sanctions could force the Iranian leadership to accept a deal with the West that would delay the military nuclear program. Other possible scenarios include an Iranian revolution that would disrupt the Ayatollahs’ plans, or an American and allied decision to curb Iran’s nuclear program by force in order to avert Mideastern instability. Under such circumstances, Israel would be able to join a coalition that strikes Iran without being isolated internationally. According to strike objectors in Israel, we must not attack on our own.

American objection

However, Netanyahu and Barak believe that we must not wait until it’s too late. At this time already, according to the British Guardian, the Iranians are vigorously building deep underground bunkers and long cement tunnels. These shelters are gradually becoming home to new uranium enrichment facilities, nuclear labs, and ballistic missiles.

Barak and Netanyahu argue that the Iranian response would not be as terrible as predicted and that Iran would settle for a measured response to a strike — either because Hezbollah and Hamas won’t rush to comply with Tehran’s wishes or because the Ayatollahs would fear a wide-scale confrontation that would inflict greater damage and destruction, including on Iranian oil fields.

At this time, there is apparently no decision on a strike yet…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Monarchies Band Together in the Wake of Arab Spring

The democratic revolutions in the Arab world and Northern Africa have recalibrated alliances in the region. So who is cozying up to whom, and can new ties help conservative states to survive the upheaval?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Report ‘Aggravates’ EU Concern Over Iran’s Nuclear Program

A new report confirms suspicions about Iran’s nuclear program. While the EU expresses its concern, some countries are looking at the option of further sanctions. Iran maintains that its program is for energy, not bombs.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Russia Rules Out New Sanctions Against Iran

Russia on Wednesday ruled out backing new sanctions against Iran despite the publication of a tough UN report on the Islamic state’s suspected nuclear weapons programme. “Any additional sanctions against Iran will be interpreted by the international community as a means of changing the regime in Tehran,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told Interfax.

“This approach is unacceptable to us, and Russia does not intend to review this proposal,” he said, without specifying if Moscow would actually veto further sanctions. Russia has backed four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against its close Soviet-era trade partner while resisting the most crippling measures that could directly impact the two sides’ military and energy ties.

It also condemned Israel for warning over the weekend that it was getting closer to launching a military strike on Iran for its suspected efforts to devlop a nuclear bomb. The senior Russia diplomat made clear that Moscow was not ready to move beyond the steps approved by the Security Council in June 2010. “Whatever is proposed to the Security Council outside the frameworks of this resolution has nothing to do with strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” Gatilov said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Population at 100 Million in 2050, Pollution

(ANSA) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 7 — In the next 4 decades, Turkey will increase its already huge population by one-third, but must make great efforts in favour of modernisation in many areas to create cities with an improved quality of life and containing levels of pollution produced by privately-owned vehicles. This statement was contained in the first report on sustainable development entitled “Vision 2050” presented in Istanbul recently by Turkey’s Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD). The report is modelled after the document issued by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the global association which groups together nearly 200 businesses working in the sustainable development field. The Vision 2050 report, according to a summary, estimates that in Turkey the population will reach 100 million in the future and thus will be able to rely on a very large and young workforce: 64.5% of the inhabitants in the country in 2040 will be between the ages of 15 and 64. However, in the coming decades, a decline in the rate of population growth has been forecast. The document focuses on the fact that Turkey should implement measures to support the modernisation of the country, upgrading public education and supporting policies focussing on promoting gender equality. Regarding urbanisation, the document underlines the need to improve the quality of life in Turkish cities, where it is estimated that over 80% of the total population in the country will be concentrated in the time considered by the report. The report also forecasts that in the future Istanbul will also confirm its predominant position in Turkey commercially, and will witness significant growth in the real estate and financial sectors. Among the problems raised in the report, particular attention should also be paid to CO2 emissions from vehicles, which according to the writers of the document must be dealt with as soon as possible and will require the Turkish government to firmly pursue industrial and energy reforms that are better designed, more far sighted and which are shared with other key international players. This issue will also require a concrete effort by all of civil society. Regarding energy, the report also explained that more in general Turkey must proceed with further market liberalisation efforts and try to reduce energy imports from abroad (which currently meet nearly 70% of domestic demand), focussing future investments on renewable energy resources, which are extremely abundant in the country. It will also be important to act in order to modify current production and consumption methods in Turkey. Another problem involves the high costs of eco-friendly and low environmental impact products on the Turkish market, mainly due to a lack of a competitive structure on the country’s green market.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Preachers and Consultants Against Domestic Violence

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 9 — The spread of illuminated sermons in mosques and a domestic peacemaker for every family are among the initiatives that Turkey is introducing to combat violence against women, a widespread problem in the country. This is according to details of the package of initiatives revealed by the Minister for Family and Social Policies, Fatma Sahin.

The website of the pro-government website Zaman says that efforts involving four institutions include action by the Turkish religious authority to avoid distortion of the message of Islam in order to legitimise violence in the name of religion and the creation of a consultant position to facilitate dialogue between married couples.

The minister said that a law bill will be put before Parliament after the Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) holiday, which ends today, but the package includes a collaboration protocol between the ministry and the Department of religious affairs that was signed two weeks ago. The agreement will see the department oversee a project to remove mistaken interpretations of Islam over the role of women in society and in families. The distortions are the result of traditions and customs in areas in which violence against women is most common. In some areas, murder is even justified by reference to holy texts. The Department, which controls the country’s Imams and represents the Turkish state’s main organ of control over religion, will also attempt to spread the true word of Islam on the subject during Friday prayers.

The Department will also instruct soldiers in the Turkish armed forces on how to prevent violence against women. The fourth institution involved in the programme, the Ministry of Education, will set up a commission to review texts in order to raise awareness among students of the role of women in society. According to a new law due to be introduced next year, every couple will have access to a consultant, helping to improve communication between husband and wife. The minister added that some areas of the law bill will improve the role of women in society and help to resolve the problem of violence in the future.

The country has an extremely secular Constitution but a widespread and distinctly Turkish following of Islam, making it anything but extremist. But the World Economic Forum’s 2010 report on inequality between men and women listed the country almost at the bottom of its rankings (126th out of 131). The organisation Human Rights Watch has also condemned the weak implementation of laws (which have been passed in the country) on abuse against women. A study carried out in 2009 by the Turkish University of Hacettepe found that around 42% of women above the age of 15, and 47% of those living in remote areas, had been victims of violence from their husbands or partners, while only 8% of them had reported this to the authorities. Another report on the issue showed that 4,190 women have been killed by men in Turkey in the last seven years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Contact Offers Hope for Stalled Mars Moon Probe

A Russian probe destined for the Martian moon Phobos has stalled in Earth orbit. The Phobos-Grunt craft successfully launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan last night and separated from its booster rocket, but Vladimir Popovkin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said the spacecraft’s engines failed to fire due to a breakdown of the orientation system, leaving it unable to find the way to Phobos.

“We have three days while the batteries are still working,” said Popovkin. “I would not say it’s a failure. It’s a non-standard situation, but it is a working situation.” Mission control is tracking the probe in Earth orbit and must now remotely reprogram the onboard computer. If it is a software problem, it may be fixable, but hardware issues are more difficult to work around.

The mission is intended to collect a soil sample from Phobos and bring it back to Earth for analysis. Also onboard are 10 of Earth’s toughest organisms, as part of an experiment called LIFE (Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment) that is designed to test transpermia — the idea that life could travel inside rocks ejected by an impact.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Russian Mars Moon Probe Suffers Big Failure After Launch

A robotic Russian spacecraft that launched on a mission to the Mars moon Phobos Tuesday (Nov. 8) is apparently stuck in Earth orbit, but hope for the probe is not lost yet, according to news reports. The Phobos-Grunt spacecraft launched at 3:16 p.m. EST (2016 GMT) Tuesday and was supposed to be on its way to Phobos by now. The probe separated from its Zenit rocket properly, but its own thrusters then failed to fire in order to send the spacecraft streaking toward Mars, Russian officials said.

“It has been a tough night for us because we could not detect the spacecraft [after the separation],” Russian space agency chief Vladimir Popovkin said, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported. “Now we know its coordinates and we found out that the [probe’s] engine failed to start.” Popovkin added that engineers aren’t yet sure why Phobos-Grunt’s engine didn’t ignite, according to RIA Novosti. It’s possible the onboard computers didn’t send the proper command, he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan General: “We Have No Clue How to Operate the Weapons NATO Gives US”

by Diana West

Dementia advances in Afghanistan, courtesy the US taxpayer, who spent about $12 billion on training Afghans between October 2010 and September 2011. Not that it stopped there: $11 billion is pledged for the year ahead through September 2012.

Just think how many perfectly gorgeous Standard Poodles you could train for $23 billion dollars. And the world would be a better place….

On a recent graduation day for over 1,000 Afghan army soldiers, Reuters reports the alarming thoughts of Amlaqullah Patyani, the Afghan general in charge of all Afghan training.

Surveying his new soldiers, Patyani said:

“We have no clue how to operate the weapons that NATO gives us. And even if we did, will the weapons keep coming after 2014?” …

This is not a joke, not a satire. It’s the gigantic Afghani$tan $candal, but it’s dying alone, deprived of media oxygen in the tabloid atmosphere dominated by Herman Cain accusers and moral turpitude in the Penn State Football office…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

US Commission: Pakistan Schools Teach Hindu Hatred

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Text books in Pakistani schools foster prejudice and intolerance of Hindus and other religious minorities, while most teachers view non-Muslims as “enemies of Islam,” according to a study by a U.S. government commission released Wednesday.The findings indicate how deeply ingrained hardline Islam is in Pakistan and help explain why militancy is often supported, tolerated or excused in the country. “Teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow, weakening religious freedom, national and regional stability, and global security,” said Leonard Leo, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Pakistan was created in 1947 as a homeland for the Muslims of South Asia and was initially envisaged as a moderate state where minorities would have full rights. But three wars with mostly Hindu India; state support for militants fighting Soviet-rule in Afghanistan in the 1980s; and the appeasement of hardline clerics by weak governments seeking legitimacy have led to a steady radicalization of society. Religious minorities and those brave enough to speak out against intolerance have often been killed, seemingly with impunity, by militant sympathizers. The commission warned that any significant efforts to combat religious discrimination, especially in education, would “likely face strong opposition” from hardliners.

The study reviewed more than 100 textbooks from grades 1-10 from Pakistan’s four provinces. Researchers in February this year visited 37 public schools, interviewing 277 students and teachers, and 19 madrases, where they interviewed 226 students and teachers. The Islamization of textbooks began under the U.S.-backed rule of army dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, who courted Islamists to support his rule. In 2006, the government announced plans to reform the curriculum to address the problematic content, but that has not been done, the study said. Pakistan’s Islamist and right-wing polity would likely oppose any efforts to change the curriculum, and the government has shown no desire to challenge them on the issue.

The report found systematic negative portrayals of minorities, especially Hindus and, to a lesser extent, Christians. Hindus make up more than 1 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people, while Christians represent around 2 percent. Some estimates put the numbers higher. There are also even smaller populations of Sikhs and Buddhists. “Religious minorities are often portrayed as inferior or second-class citizens who have been granted limited rights and privileges by generous Pakistani Muslims, for which they should be grateful,” the report said. “Hindus are repeatedly described as extremists and eternal enemies of Islam whose culture and society is based on injustice and cruelty, while Islam delivers a message of peace and brotherhood, concepts portrayed as alien to the Hindu.” The books don’t contain many specific references to Christians, but those that “that do exist seem generally negative, painting an incomplete picture of the largest religious minority in Pakistan,” the report said.

Attempts to reach Pakistan’s education minister were not successful. The textbooks make very little reference to the role played by Hindus, Sikhs and Christians in the cultural, military and civic life of Pakistan, meaning a “a young minority student will thus not find many examples of educated religious minorities in their own textbooks,” the report said. “In most cases historic revisionism seems designed to exonerate or glorify Islamic civilization, or to denigrate the civilizations of religious minorities,” the report said. “Basic changes to the texts would be needed to present a history free of false or unsubstantiated claims which convey religious bias.” The researchers also found that the books foster a sense that Pakistan’s Islamic identity is under constant threat.

“The anti-Islamic forces are always trying to finish the Islamic domination of the world,” read one passage from a social studies text being taught to Grade 4 students in Punjab province, the country’s most populated. “This can cause danger for the very existence of Islam. Today, the defense of Pakistan and Islam is very much in need.” The report states that Islamic teachings and references were commonplace in compulsory text books, not just religious ones, meaning Pakistan’s Christians, Hindus and other minorities were being taught Islamic content. It said this appeared to violate Pakistan’s constitution, which states that students should not have to receive instruction in a religion other than their own. The attitudes of the teachers no doubt reflect the general intolerance in Pakistan — a 2011 Pew Research Center study found the country the third most intolerant in the world — but because of the influence they have, they are especially worrisome.

Their views were frequently nuanced and sometimes contradictory, according to the study. While many advocated respectful treatment of religious minorities, this was conditional upon the attitudes of the minorities, “which appeared to be in question,” the report said. The desire to proselytize was cited as one of the main motivations for kind treatment.

According to the study, more than half the public school teachers acknowledged the citizenship of religious minorities, but a majority expressed the opinion that religious minorities must not be allowed to hold positions of power, in order to protect Pakistan and Muslims. While many expressed the importance of respecting the practices of religious minorities, simultaneously 80 percent of teachers viewed non-Muslims, in some form or another, as “enemies of Islam.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Danish Immigration Model Didn’t Work

Denmark has let relatively more immigrants into the country in recent years than the Netherlands according to an analysis of Eurostat figures by Dutch press agency ANP and weblog Sargasso. This is striking as the minority Rutte cabinet supported by the anti-immigration Freedom Party has used the strict immigration policies under the former right-wing conservative Danish government as an example.

For 2010, immigration in the Netherlands was much lower at 32.9 immigrants per 10,000 residents than the Danish figure: 51.6. In recent years, Dutch immigration has dropped. In 2008, more than 38 immigrants per 10,000 residents entered the country, in 2009 this figure was over 34. In all three years, the Netherlands was far below the European average of 48 immigrants per 10,000 residents. In Denmark immigration figures fell in 2009, but rose again last year.

Three years ago, most immigrants came to Denmark to study, in the past two years, most came to work there. Migration expert Jeroen Doomernik of the University of Amsterdam, says this shows the government policies have a limited influence on immigration. “In reality it is the economy that dictates. People go to Denmark because the economy attracts them.” Fewer people come to the Netherlands to study or work. In 2010, family migration in the Netherlands 13:10,000 was slightly under the European average 14.9:10,000. In Denmark this figure was much lower at 9 per 10,000 residents.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Funding Boost for Schools With High Immigrant Enrollment

Teachers, students and experts to meet with government to discuss how to improve educational standard of children with immigrant backgrounds

Schools with high proportions of bilingual and non-ethnic Danish children will receive extra funding to help raise students’ language skills. The initiative, outlined in the government’s new budget, will deliver one million kroner per year over three years to each of 14 national schools whose student make-up is comprised of at least 40 percent non-ethnic Danes.

“It’s incredibly important to strengthen our integration efforts,” Christine Antorini, the children and teaching minister, told Politiken newspaper. “Schools with high proportions of children from non-Danish ethnic backgrounds need extra economic help.” Decisions about what projects the money will be spent on will be made after discussions between ministry officials, students, teachers and educational experts.

One of the schools due to receive extra funding is Tingbjerg School in the Copenhagen suburb of Brønshøj, which is almost entirely attended by non-ethnic Danes. “What we most need is continued education for our teachers so they are better able to teach Danish as a second language,” Joy Frimann Hansen, head of Tingbjerg School, told Poltiken.

Frimann also argued that there needed to be better cooperation with kindergartens in order to prepare students better for school. Bilingual children start school on average with a vocabulary of 700 words, roughly half that of ethnic Danish children.

But according to Lise Egholm, head of Rådmans School, one of the major problems is that students from non-Danish backgrounds are too densely clustered in particular regions. “There still needs to be a better distribution of bilingual children across Danish schools,” Egholm told Politiken. “I have been campaigning for this for years. Integration will suffer until we solve this issue.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Serbia: Brit Woman’s Refugee Gang Rape

The brutal gang rape of a British woman by five Afghan refugees has sparked a massive protest against illegal immigrants in a Serbian spa town. The 38-year-old woman — who bravely managed to film the attack on her mobile phone — was repeatedly raped after befriending a group of Afghan men in a park in Banja Koviljaca. Despite handing the video footage to police, only one alleged attacker — identified by police only as Abdurashid D., 25 — has been arrested.

Now local mothers have told police they are boycotting local schools from next week (nov 7) unless they clear out a local refugee centre containing more than 2,500 illegal immigrants which was built to hold just 120. “These people are always hanging around the parks and streets during the day causing trouble,” said one mum. “They have no respect for us, no respect for women and we want them gone because they have no right to be here.

“My daughter isn’t going to school again while four refugee rapists are still on the streets,” she added. The British victim had travelled to Serbia after striking up a Facebook friendship with a man who told her he lived in a town called Lozinca.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Europe’s First Transsexual MP Takes Her Seat in Polish Parliament

Poland has welcomed Europe’s first transsexual woman into its parliament — reflecting a ‘profound social change’ in the traditionally Roman Catholic country.

Anna Grodzka, who was born a man but underwent a sex change, was joined by Robert Biedron — the country’s first openly gay man to be elected to office.

Grodzka said she felt overwhelmed by emotion as the session opened with the national anthem and when she later took her oath of office.

She said: ‘It is a symbolic moment, but we owe this symbolism not to me but to the people of Poland because they made their choice.

‘They wanted a modern Poland, a Poland open to variety, a Poland where all people would feel good regardless of their differences. I cannot fail them in their expectations.’

Palikot’s Movement, led by outspoken entrepreneur-turned-politician Janusz Palikot, has vowed to push for liberal causes. It opposes the influence of the church in political life, promotes gay rights, and wants to challenge the country’s near-total ban on abortion.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

First Euthanasia in Netherlands of Severe Dementia Victim

A woman with advanced Alzheimer’s disease has been euthanised in the Netherlands, a first in a country that requires patients to be fully mentally alert to request to die, activists said Wednesday. The 64-year-old woman died in March after being sick “for a very long time,” said a spokesman for the Right to Die-NL (NVVE) group.

She had insisted “for several years” that she wanted to be euthanised, added spokesman Walburg de Jong. “It is really a very important step — before, patients dying by euthanasia were at really very early stages of dementia, which was not the case with this woman,” de Jong said.

Euthanasia is allowed in the Netherlands only if the patient suffers intolerable pain due to an illness diagnosed as incurable by a doctor. The patient must give authorisation while in full control of his mental faculties. “This is also a message for doctors since they often refuse to euthanise people in advanced stages of dementia even though they have expressly asked for it,” de Jong said.

The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia in April 2002. Each euthanasia case is reported to one of five special commissions, each made up of a doctor, a jurist and an ethical expert charged with verifying that all required criteria had been respected.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pig-Tailed Pippi Longstocking Books Branded ‘Racist’ By German Theologian

Dr Eske Wollrad, from Germany’s Federal Association of Evangelical Women, has called on parents to skip certain passages or else explain to their children that they contain outdated colonial stereotypes.

Dr Wollrad is demanding the book’s publisher make additions in the books to guide readers when ‘racist’ content arises.

She said that in the third book, Pippi In The South Seas: ‘The black children throw themselves into the sand in front of the white children in the book. When reading the book to my nephew, who is black, I simply left that passage out.’

She added: ‘The question to ask yourself is whether you could read a certain passage out loud to a black child without stopping or stumbling. Only then can you say whether it is OK or not.

But Dr Wollrad did praise the trilogy for its feminist and pro-child innovations, a rarity in the 1940s.

She said: ‘I would certainly not condemn the book completely — on the contrary, there are many very positive aspects to it.

‘As well as being very funny, it is instructive for children as it not only has a strong female character… and she is fiercely opposed to violence against animals.’

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

What Sayeth the Stars? Not Enough Minorities in Hollywood

When Shakira became the first Colombian this week to get her name on a world-renowned monument to entertainment industry — the Hollywood Walk of Fame — the 34-year-old recording artist recalled what her mother told her at age 7. “One day, Shaki, your name will be here,” her mother said when the two and a family friend visited Hollywood for the first time 27 years ago. For Shakira, the star marked a personal triumph — as an artist and a Latina.

“If by coincidence you happen to look down to the ground and you see this star, remember that it belongs to each one of you, because it carries the name of a Hispanic woman that, like you, dreams and works and works and dreams every day,” Shakira said during a public ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard, with her mom and the same friend present.

As the latest celebrity to get a terrazzo star, trimmed with bronze, on the sidewalks of Hollywood, Shakira joins a small but growing rank of minority performers making a dent in an overall industry that some criticize as not inviting enough to African-Americans, Latinos and Asians. In fact, of the 2,354 stars on Hollywood sidewalks, only 3.4% of them belong to Hispanics such as Shakira, a CNN analysis shows. The figure is 5.1% for African-Americans and a mere 0.4% for Asians, according to an analysis of the stars on the Walk of Fame.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Superconductor Flying Saucer Stunts

Seamlessly jetting across a magnetised track on puffs of liquid nitrogen, this superconductor disc executes some impressive tricks. It jumps a magnetic obstacle, coasts over a partner, and hovers at new heights. Filmed by physicist Boaz Almog and his colleagues at Tel Aviv University’s superconductivity group, the clip builds upon Almog’s hit demonstration from the Association of Science-Technology Centers conference last month.

The hovering saucer consists of sapphire crystal wafer coated with a micron thick superconductor and a protective gold shield. After a frosty bath in liquid nitrogen, the disc is ready to sail along the track suspended by quantum tubes that pin it in midair. These tubes penetrate defects in the thin superconductor coating under extreme cold and the superconductor creates currents to expel the repulsive magnetic field. Stacking magnets on the track distorts the magnetic field creating a smooth hop. The effect is strong enough to suspend the disc 44 millimetres, enabling duelling saucers to skid along the track.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]