Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111110

Financial Crisis
»America and China Must Crush Germany Into Submission
»Autumn Economic Forecast: EU Economy in ‘Dangerous Territory’
»EU: Italy Growth Stops, Greece and Portugal in Recession
»Euro ‘Guarantees Monetary Stability’ For Greece: Papademos
»If the Eurozone Implodes, Britain Will Go With it
»Italy Isn’t Greece, Says Obama
»Italy: Markets Steady on Prospect of Monti Leadership
»Italy: Only the Full Monti Will Do
»Lucas Papademos Aims to Steer Greece Out of Crisis
»No Second Bail-Out for Portugal, Says PM
»Papandreou Steps Down as Greek Prime Minister
»Pension Trusts Strapped
»Recession Threatens in 2012, EU Warns
»Troubled Currency: Italian Problems Stoke Worry Over EU’s Future
»Obama Couldn’t Wait: His New Christmas Tree Tax
»Ohio Votes to Nullify Insurance Mandates
»‘Oops’. the Worst Moment in US Debate History? Rick Perry Can’t Remember the Third Government Department He Would Abolish
»Prayer Meeting or Muslim Bashing?
»Stakelbeck: Update: DHS Silent on Elibiary Leak Scandal
»U.S. Government Confirms Link Between Earthquakes and Hydraulic Fracturing
»White House Tries to Limit Netanyahu “Liar” Damage
»EEG Finds Consciousness in People in Vegetative State
Europe and the EU
»Alcohol Damages Women’s Brains Faster Than Men’s: Swedish Study
»Archaeology: Neanderthal Man Liked the Greek Islands
»Cyprus: 83-Year-Old Woman Fined 10,000 Euros for Poaching
»Does Switzerland Need to Tighten Its Gun Laws?
»German Politicians Shed Few Tears for Berlusconi
»Italy’s ECB Board Member Resigns, Ending Stand-Off
»Netherlands: Catholic Church Agrees to Compensate Sexual Abuse Victims
»Pressure Mounts to Open Sweden’s Stasi Archive
»Sweden: Teen Girl Held as Sex-Slave for a Year: Report
»UK: 100 Years: The East London Mosque Trust
»UK: Muslims Against Crusades Banned by Theresa May
»UK: Police Chief in Frank Talk on EDL, Riots and Rising Burglaries and Robberies
»UK: The Case of Babar Ahmad and the Politically ‘Puritanical’ Muslims
»World’s Smallest Auto: Dutch Scientists Drive Single-Molecule Car
»EU Prosecutor Starts Trafficking Probe in Albania: Source
»Wahhabi Jihadis in the Balkans Running Amok
North Africa
»Egypt: US Hints at Supporting Brotherhood
»Egyptian Government Report Absolves Army of Maspero Massacre
»Egypt: Woman Salafite Candidate, Only Husband Shown on Poster
Israel and the Palestinians
»Boom in Fake Medicine, Viagra Leads the Way
»Netanyahu to Limit Foreign Financial Aid to Israeli Non-Profit Organisations
Middle East
»EU and Turkey Agree Extra Trade and Visa Co-Operation
»IAEA Lambasts Iran Nuclear Progam
»Indian Migrant Workers Exploited and Enslaved in Arab Countries
»Israel May Launch Strike on Iran as Soon as Next Month to Prevent Development of Nuclear Weapons
»Lebanon: Spielberg ‘Blacked Out’ of Beirut Tintin Posters
»The Concept of Brotherhood in Islam
»Turkish Court Reduces Sentences for Men Accused of Raping 13-Year-Old
South Asia
»India: Kashmir Life in Danger of a Pastor Falsely Accused of Forced Conversions
»Pakistan: Abbotabad: Police Torture a Pregnant Christian Woman. Pregnancy at Risk
»Pakistan: Militants Kill 4 Members of Peace Committee, Behead One in Khyber Agency
Australia — Pacific
»Mosque Plans Anger Indigenous Elders
Latin America
»A Struggle for Power
Culture Wars
»Swedish Firefighter Wins Affirmative Action Suit
»25% of Mammals at Risk of Extinction, IUCN Reports
»Experience Counts for Nobel Laureates
»Transparent Octopus Goes Opaque in Blink of an Eye
»Urban Beehive Lets You Harvest Honey Indoors

Financial Crisis

America and China Must Crush Germany Into Submission

As we watch Italy’s 10-year bond yields near 7.5pc and threaten to detonate the explosive charge on €1.9 trillion of debt, it is time for the world to reimpose order. You cannot allow the biggest bankruptcy in history to run its course — with calamitous domino implications — before all options have been exhausted. One can only guess what is happening in the great global centres of power, but it would not surprise me if US President Barack Obama and China’s Hu Jintao start to intervene very soon, in unison and with massive diplomatic force.

One can imagine joint telephone calls to Chancellor Angela Merkel more or less ordering her country to face up to the implications of the monetary union that Germany itself created and ran (badly). Yes, this means mobilizing the full-firepower of the ECB — with a pledge to change EU Treaty law and the bank’s mandate — and perhaps some form of quantum leap towards a fiscal and debt union. Germany will of course try to say no. But it will pay a catastrophic diplomatic and political price, and will fail to save its economy anyway if it does so.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Autumn Economic Forecast: EU Economy in ‘Dangerous Territory’

Europe’s economy has deteriorated dramatically since the spring and growth has come to a standstill, the European Commission said on Thursday, warning that the bloc could very easily slip back into recession should “any further bad news” materialise. “Growth has stalled in Europe, and there is a risk of a new recession,” the EU’s economy chief, commissioner Olli Rehn said upon the publication of the bloc’s autumn economic forecast, whose predictions for growth have been revised down “substantially.”

The document did not mince words: “The EU economy is moving in dangerous territory. The recovery has already come to a standstill and a slew of forward looking indicators paint a rather gloomy picture.” “Any further bad news could amplify adverse feedback loops pushing the EU economy back into recession,” it said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU: Italy Growth Stops, Greece and Portugal in Recession

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 10 — Italy, the country currently at the centre of attention in the eurozone, is experiencing “a new economic slowdown, amid growing uncertainty”, with GDP growth to reach 0.5% in 2011 and 0.1% in 2012. This is according to the economic forecast of the EU Commission for 2011-2013, which suggest that Italian GDP will rise by 0.7% in 2013. According to estimates in Brussels, Italy’s public debt will jump to 120.5% in 2011, will remain unchanged in 2012 and will fall to 118.7% in 2013.

From a European point of view, too, “the growth of the economy has halted”, according to the EU Commissioner, Olli Rehn, who presented the figures and added that “there is a risk of a new recession”. New estimates suggest that the growth of GDP in the eurozone will be limited to 0.5% in 2012 (+0.6% across all EU member states), with a recovery resuming at 1.3% in 2013 (1.5% across all EU member states).

In Greece’s case, the EU Commission has downgraded its forecasts for 2012, with GDP expected to fall by 2.8%, compared to the 1.1% predicted in the spring. A return to growth is expected only in 2013, with a figure of +0.7%. Figures on Greek deficit have also worsened, standing at -8.9% in 2011 and -7% in 2012. There is also bad news for Portugal, which will be in recession in 2012 (-3%), and a slow for France, where next year’s growth is expected to be 0.6%. New measures in France will be needed to reduce deficit in 2013, Olli Rehn said in Brussels today. The EU Commission estimates that France’s deficit/GDP ratio will be 5.8% in 2011, 5.3% in 2012 and 5.1% in 2013. For Spain, meanwhile, Brussels estimates show GDP growth of 0.7% in 2012.

The EU Commission does not predict any real improvement in the employment market either. In the eurozone, unemployment over the period between 2011 and 2013 is estimated at 10% (9.7% across all EU members states). The worst figure is recorded by Spain, with 20.9% in 2011-2012 and 20.3% in 2013. Figures are also gloomy for Greece (16.6% this year and 18.4% in 2012), Ireland (14.4%) and Portugal (12.6%). Figures show unemployment in Italy at 8.1% in 2011 and 8.2% in 2012-2013.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Euro ‘Guarantees Monetary Stability’ For Greece: Papademos

Greece’s new prime minister-in-waiting Lucas Papademos, a former European Central Bank deputy chief, said Thursday the nation faced “huge problems” but its euro membership was a “guarantee for monetary stability.” “I am convinced that the participation in the euro is a guarantee of monetary stability and a factor of economic stability,” he told reporters outside the presidential mansion moments after President Carolos Papoulias gave him a mandate to form a transitional government to ratify a crucial EU bailout.

“The Greek economy is facing huge problems despite the enormous efforts made… Greece is at a crucial crossroads,” said the 64-year-old, adding: “The course will not be easy.” With his global contacts and inside knowledge of European monetary policy, Papademos is seen by many Greek politicians as the country’s last hope to restore credibility in its debt-ridden economy and avert bankruptcy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

If the Eurozone Implodes, Britain Will Go With it

Unless Germany acts soon, this country could find itself going the way of Italy.

Britain’s economy may already have dipped back into recession, but thanks to developments in Italy over the past few days, the chances of it being pushed into something very much worse have got a whole lot bigger. As was always predictable, getting rid of Silvio Berlusconi hasn’t helped matters one jot — yields on 10-year Italian bonds soared past 7 per cent yesterday.

This was the level that forced Greece, Ireland and Portugal to seek support from European and IMF bail-out funds, and there is no reason to believe Italy is any more capable of weathering the storm. Economic contraction, reinforced by repeated rounds of austerity, has put Italian sovereign debt on an unsustainable path. It’s taken less than a week for the Cannes summit to prove itself wholly irrelevant, and the crisis is again spiralling out of control. Italy, the eurozone’s third largest economy, is not just “too big to fail”, but it may also be too big to bail.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy Isn’t Greece, Says Obama

Problem is liquidity, not solvency, says US president

(see related story on political, economic crisis) (ANSA) — Washington, November 10 — United States President Barack Obama has said that he sees big differences between the economic crises facing Italy and Greece.

“Italy isn’t Greece,” Obama told reporters at the White House in reponse to a question by an ANSA journalist.

“Athens really has a problem of solvency. It has a big debt and must take very hard long-term decisions if it wants to stay in Europe. “Italy, on the other hand, has more of a problem of liquidity. It’s a big, rich country. It’s the third biggest European economy, the eighth biggest in the world. There are very rich people”. The US president also expressed confidence Italy could emerge from the crisis as long as uncertainty about its political situation were solved quickly.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who has lost his majority in parliament, said he will resign after economic reforms demanded by the European Union to restore investor confidence are passed through parliament, with the relative bill set for final approval Saturday.

But it is not yet clear whether Berlusconi’s centre-right administration will be replaced by an emergency government of national unity or snap elections will be called. “Italy is a country that can tackle its debt, as long as the markets do not have a crisis of confidence in your political will and capacity not to lose control of the system,” Obama said.

The US President also called on the European Union to do more to combat the crisis.

“What we are asking the whole of Europe, France and Germany first as they have greater influence, is to reach an serious agreement with Greece,” Obama said.

“And I think they are trying. “As for Italy, Europe must send a clear signal to the markets that it will do its part to make sure Italy overcomes this liquidity crisis.

“Up to now Europe has not put in place the strctures that can guarantee the markets this confidence, It’s not too late, but it’s necessary to act aggressively”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Markets Steady on Prospect of Monti Leadership

Bond auction raises 5 bln euros at record yield

(ANSA) — Rome, November 10 — Italy’s financial markets steadied on Thursday on the prospect of a government led by respected economist Mario Monti.

While Milan stocks initially declined by more than 1%, the market turned around and posted a gain of 1.5% in morning trading.

Italy raised five billion euros in a Treasury auction on Thursday but was forced to offer a record high interest rate of 6.087% to borrow the money.

Bond yields also dropped to 6.98%, below the critical 7% threshold reached on Wednesday with the spread on 10-year Treasury bonds falling from highs of 574 basis points to 520 points against the German benchmark bond.

The European Central Bank was also active in the market buying Italian government bonds before the one-year Treasury auction. As the markets steadied, the European Union warned of a new economic slowdown and rising uncertainty in Italy on Thursday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Only the Full Monti Will Do

La Stampa, Turin

Berlusconi’s agony has brought down markets and pushed Italian bonds’rates above 7 per cent, threatening a credit crunch that would sink the whole eurozone. The only foreseeable solution is to quickly set up a unity government led by the widely respected former EU commissioner, writes La Stampa’s editor in chief.

Mario Calabresi

At 7 p.m. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano played his trump card, the one he’d held in abeyance for some time: The name of the card was Mario Monti.

Yesterday’s dramatic day, by far the worst for Italy since the lira was plunged into crisis in 1992, required a hard-nosed response, a sign that contained the ingredients of both antidote and warning.

The antidote was against the collapse of the system, the warning issued to politicians to make them see that time has run out. There’s no more room for digressions, distinctions, postponements and poker games. Markets, analysts, and global mass media have shouted aloud together and with fierce determination to try to make Italy understand that its credibility is almost completely shot and that its only hope is a strong sign that shows a willingness to break from the past.

Now, Mario Monti is no longer just a technocrat. He’s a senator-for-life whose nomination also carried Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s signature, as well as his praise. Now, Mario Monti has been clearly anointed as the figure parliamentary forces can turn to in search of the political conditions necessary to build a new government.

High on Byzantine-like spices

Yesterday evening’s decision didn’t lack for unknowns. It’s still not clear whether Italy can avoid early elections. But the move did suggest potential openings. It above all pushed all those involved to take responsibility for the situation at hand and respond by telling the country precisely what they have in mind, minus the usual shrewdness and tactical sidebars.

The financial firestorm that hit Italy yesterday, which many analysts say has already passed the point of no return, infected and undid markets the world over, scaring pension fund holders and veteran speculators alike. All this happened as a result of Italy’s old vices.

Some people yesterday were stunned by the global reaction. Hadn’t Italy copied the Spanish model? The prime minister had promised to resign. Both the majority and opposition in parliament had publicly agreed on the EU mandated measures necessary to combat the crisis as well as pledging to look ahead to national elections.

Why then did Jose Luis Zapatero’s Spain seem to come out of the tunnel while Italy instead seemed to remain stuck speeding inside it? The reason is that our packages were low on clarity and high on the Byzantine-like spices that rendered what we’d agreed upon nearly incomprehensible…

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

Lucas Papademos Aims to Steer Greece Out of Crisis

It took days of bickering before Greece’s two largest parties finally agreed that Lucas Papademos would lead Greece through the crisis as its interim prime minister. The extended negotiations revealed his political strengths — and showed that he can stand up to both the socialists and the conservatives.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

No Second Bail-Out for Portugal, Says PM

Portugal has announced it will not seek a second bail-out, the country’s new conservative prime minister has declared. “We will not ask for a new aid programme. Neither for more money, nor for more time,” conservative Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho told the country’s parliament on Thursday (10 November) during the first round of debates on next year’s budget, a document that will include sweeping austerity measures demanded as part of the country’s current bail-out programme.

The evening before in Lisbon, eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker had said he was “very satisfied with the behaviour of [Portugal’s] government” and congratulated its “national consensus”, according to reports in the domestic press. Even though the ruling centre-right coalition holds a comfortable majority in parliament, the opposition Socialist Party has said it would not vote against the new budget, but abstain instead.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Papandreou Steps Down as Greek Prime Minister

Greek Prime Minister Giorgios Papandreou stepped down on Wednesday, without naming his successor. His resignation clears the way for a coalition government that will implement the country’s drastic restructuring program and prepare for fresh elections.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pension Trusts Strapped

By Sharon Terlep and Matthew Dolan

Retirement trust funds created to cover billions of dollars in medical costs for unionized workers and their families are running short, forcing the funds to cut costs, trim benefits, and ask retirees and companies to pony up more cash.

The biggest such fund—a trio of United Auto Worker trusts covering benefits for more than 820,000 people, including Detroit auto-maker retirees and their dependents—is underfunded by nearly $20 billion, according to trust documents filed with the U.S. Labor Department last month.

The funds, known as VEBAs, or voluntary employee beneficiary associations, are being hit by rising medical costs and poor investment performance. Their funding comes in part from company stock, rather than just cash payments, making them vulnerable to the market’s volatility.

Fearing a shortfall, the UAW is looking for answers in its U.S. government-orchestrated bailout deals with General Motors Corp. and Chrysler. The union, under new labor accords reached last month with GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler, will seek to divert 10% of active workers’ profit-sharing checks into the VEBA funds, but the plan still needs to clear legal hurdles and could get blocked by the auto makers.

Improved investment returns could reduce the shortfall over time. And, if the union doesn’t win approval to transter funds, it has some leeway to make benefit cuts before the funds run short of cash because UAW retirees still get richer benefits than most retired workers.

Without some sort of intervention, the gap could grow quickly. This past summer, Joe Ashton, the UAW’s top official dealing with GM, said the VEBA performance was weighing on the union. “It’s definitely an issue,” he said.

The UAW also isn’t the only union being squeezed.

In Pittsburgh, the United Steel Workers union is laboring to provide benefits to tens of thousands of employees covered by more than 30 VEBAs. “No matter how good your investment performance is, you are not going to be able to keep up with health-care inflation,” says Tom Conway, vice president of the USW. “The trustees are having to take a serious look at increasing premiums, and the retiree contribution has to be bigger.”Union-run VEBAs gained popularity in the last decade as a way to clear retiree-benefit obligations off companies’ books and shift the burden to independent trust funds. Often, they were last-ditch efforts by unions to salvage health-care benefits for their members amid major restructurings or bankruptcies. But now that the VEBAs are running low on cash, unions are the ones doing the slashing.

Two years ago, when the UAW VEBA cut its ties with auto makers and became an independent trust, it quickly trimmed some prescription benefits, including free Viagra, and boosted co-payments for retirees. Next year, it will increase deductibles and out-of-pocket payments by participants, according to a statement posted on its Web site this fall…


[In other words, it turns out that pension plans, from private to federal, don’t have nearly enough money to keep their promises…]

[Return to headlines]

Recession Threatens in 2012, EU Warns

Europe faces a new recession next year, the EU’s economy chief Olli Rehn said on Thursday due to a “vicious circle” of government debt, vulnerable banks and weak spending. “Growth has stalled in Europe, and there is a risk of a new recession,” Rehn said in releasing detailed forecasts for the eurozone and broader economy for the next two years, with gross domestic product (GDP) “now projected to stagnate until well into 2012.”

Economic output across the key, debt-laden eurozone next year will collapse to 0.5 percent, Rehn’s office said in a vast annual survey of expectations, a steep drop from its previous forecast of 1.8 percent. To have any chance of avoiding the return to recession — a sustained six-month period where the economy contracts — over the course of the year, Rehn said European Union governments beginning with Italy would have to ensure “unwavering implementation” of reforms.

“The weakening real economy, fragile public finances and the vulnerable financial sector appear to be mutually affecting each other in a vicious circle,” his office said. It cited “sovereign debt worries, the financial industry and world trade,” threatened by a retreat, and “a potential for negative dynamic interactions” wrecking all prospect of job creation over the next year. The main threats from the debt crisis each contribute pointedly to the gloomy outlook.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Troubled Currency: Italian Problems Stoke Worry Over EU’s Future

With the euro zone’s debt crisis now having enveloped Italy, many have begun wondering what the future European Union might look like. Berlin has denied reports of a potential euro-zone breakup, but many see the emergence of a two-speed Europe. First, though, Berlusconi must go.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Obama Couldn’t Wait: His New Christmas Tree Tax

President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees—the Christmas Tree Tax—to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.

In the Federal Register of November 8, 2011, Acting Administrator of Agricultural Marketing David R. Shipman announced that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)). And the program of “information” is to include efforts to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States” (7 CFR 1214.10).

To pay for the new Federal Christmas tree image improvement and marketing program, the Department of Agriculture imposed a 15-cent fee on all sales of fresh Christmas trees by sellers of more than 500 trees per year (7 CFR 1214.52). And, of course, the Christmas tree sellers are free to pass along the 15-cent Federal fee to consumers who buy their Christmas trees.

Acting Administrator Shipman had the temerity to say the 15-cent mandatory Christmas tree fee “is not a tax nor does it yield revenue for the Federal government” (76 CFR 69102). The Federal government mandates that the Christmas tree sellers pay the 15-cents per tree, whether they want to or not. The Federal government directs that the revenue generated by the 15-cent fee goes to the Board appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out the Christmas tree program established by the Secretary of Agriculture. Mr. President, that’s a new 15-cent tax to pay for a Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.

Nobody is saying President Obama doesn’t have authority to impose his new Christmas Tree Tax — his Administration cites the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. Just because the Obama Administration has the legal power to impose its Christmas Tree Tax doesn’t mean it should do so.


[Note: there is sure to be a headline in December: “Thefts of Christmas Trees Up Sharply”]

[Return to headlines]

Ohio Votes to Nullify Insurance Mandates

On the eve of the 213th anniversary of the passage of Thomas Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, laying the intellectual groundwork of nullification, the people of Ohio exercised their power and nullified the insurance mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Ohioans passed Issue Three, a constitutional amendment to preserve their right to choose their own health care and health care coverage. Preliminary returns indicated a wide margin of victory, with more than 60 percent approving the amendment. The amendment makes it illegal for any local, state or federal law to require Ohio residents to purchase health insurance, effectively nullifying a key component of the PPACA.

“This signifies that state level resistance to federal power is not just an old idea relegated to history books,” Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin said, “It’s something that’s alive and well right now.”

Ohio became the tenth state to reject the insurance mandates in the PPACA.

“James Madison said that power over objects which in the ordinary course of affairs concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State would remain with the states. Health care choices clearly fall into that category,” TAC communications director Mike Maharrey said. “Ohio sent a strong message to D.C. tonight. We are not going to just sit back and accept your unconstitutional power grabs.”

On Nov. 10, 1798, the Kentucky legislature adopted resolutions authored by Thomas Jefferson in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts. In these resolutions, Jefferson explained the states’ power to judge the constitutionality of an act, while also asserting that unconstitutional federal acts hold no force.

He wrote, “That the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among parties having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions, as of the mode and measure of redress…”

[Return to headlines]

‘Oops’. the Worst Moment in US Debate History? Rick Perry Can’t Remember the Third Government Department He Would Abolish

Oh. My. Goodness. There was a stunned silence in the CBNC debate press room here in Rochester, Michigan when Rick Perry, hotly tipped for the Republican nomination as recently as two months ago, imploded on stage. Again and again he tried to remember what was the third government department he’d said he would abolish. He couldn’t. He looked at his notes. He still couldn’t. His own conclusion: “Oops!” Gawker calls it an “excruciating brain fart”. Business Insider describes it as “The Moment That Officially Killed His Campaign — For Good”. The Drudge Report simply calls it “53 Seconds”. Watch it and weep. The obituaries for Perry’s candidacy are already being written tonight. Here’s a transcript of the full exchange, which doesn’t quite convey the awfulness of the what happened (Perry’s missing government department, by the way, was Energy):


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Prayer Meeting or Muslim Bashing?

Christians ready to take over the Lions’ den

Thousands of prayerful souls from around the nation are expected to descend on Ford Field in Detroit beginning at 6 p.m. Friday as the home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions hosts TheCall.

“That’s a great way to put it,” said the Rev. Jerry Weinzierl, pastor of Grace Christian Church in Sterling Heights, one of the houses of worship endorsing the event. Billed as a 24-hour gathering to “fast, pray and cry out to God,” TheCall organizers chose Detroit for specific reasons. According to the event’s Website, Detroit “has become a microcosm of our national crisis, economic collapse, racial tension, the rising tide of the Islamic movement and the shedding of blood of our children in the streets and of the unborn.”

“Christians of all denominations will be praying for the city of Detroit,” Weinzierl said. But the reference to the “rising tide of the Islamic movement” caught the attention of the southeastern Michigan Muslim community. Although the phrase has been removed from the Website, local Muslim leaders are concerned the event is a thinly disguised rally against Islam. “The Muslims are concerned because of what it could do to (foster) Islamaphobia,” said Victor Begg, senior adviser and chairman emeritus of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan. At various times, Begg said, TheCall and those affiliated with it have expressed publicly disdain for Muslims, Freemasons and gays, among others.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: Update: DHS Silent on Elibiary Leak Scandal

My report from the other day on the Mohamed Elibiary document leak scandal at the Department of Homeland Security continues to gather steam.

Yet I’ve been stonewalled for a solid week in my attempts to get some kind of comment or explanation from DHS.

This, from “the most open and transparent administration in American history.”

Read more at the link above.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

U.S. Government Confirms Link Between Earthquakes and Hydraulic Fracturing

by John C.K. Daly

On 5 November an earthquake measuring 5.6 rattled Oklahoma and was felt as far away as Illinois.

Until two years ago Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes a year, but in 2010, 1,047 quakes shook the state.


In Lincoln County, where most of this past weekend’s seismic incidents were centered, there are 181 injection wells, according to Matt Skinner, an official from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the agency which oversees oil and gas production in the state.

Cause and effect?

The practice of injecting water into deep rock formations causes earthquakes, both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Geological Survey have concluded.

The U.S. natural gas industry pumps a mixture of water and assorted chemicals deep underground to shatter sediment layers containing natural gas, a process called hydraulic fracturing, known more informally as “fracking.” While environmental groups have primarily focused on fracking’s capacity to pollute underground water, a more ominous byproduct emerges from U.S. government studies — that forcing fluids under high pressure deep underground produces increased regional seismic activity.

As the U.S. natural gas industry mounts an unprecedented and expensive advertising campaign to convince the public that such practices are environmentally benign, U.S. government agencies have determined otherwise.

According to the U.S. Army’s Rocky Mountain Arsenal website, the RMA drilled a deep well for disposing of the site’s liquid waste after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “concluded that this procedure is effective and protective of the environment.” According to the RMA, “The Rocky Mountain Arsenal deep injection well was constructed in 1961, and was drilled to a depth of 12,045 feet” and 165 million gallons of Basin F liquid waste, consisting of “very salty water that includes some metals, chlorides, wastewater and toxic organics” was injected into the well during 1962-1966.

Why was the process halted? “The Army discontinued use of the well in February 1966 because of the possibility that the fluid injection was “triggering earthquakes in the area,” according to the RMA. In 1990, the “Earthquake Hazard Associated with Deep Well Injection—A Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency” study of RMA events by Craig Nicholson, and R.I. Wesson stated simply, “Injection had been discontinued at the site in the previous year once the link between the fluid injection and the earlier series of earthquakes was established.

Twenty-five years later, “possibility” and ‘established” changed in the Environmental Protection Agency’s July 2001 87 page study, “Technical Program Overview: Underground Injection Control Regulations EPA 816-r-02-025,” which reported, “In 1967, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) determined that a deep, hazardous waste disposal well at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was causing significant seismic events in the vicinity of Denver, Colorado.”

There is a significant divergence between “possibility,” “established” and “was causing,” and the most recent report was a decade ago. Much hydraulic fracturing to liberate shale oil gas in the Marcellus shale has occurred since.

According to the USGS website, under the undated heading, “Can we cause earthquakes? Is there any way to prevent earthquakes?” the agency notes, “Earthquakes induced by human activity have been documented in a few locations in the United States, Japan, and Canada.

The cause was injection of fluids into deep wells for waste disposal and secondary recovery of oil, and the use of reservoirs for water supplies. Most of these earthquakes were minor. The largest and most widely known resulted from fluid injection at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver, Colorado. In 1967, an earthquake of magnitude 5.5 followed a series of smaller earthquakes. Injection had been discontinued at the site in the previous year once the link between the fluid injection and the earlier series of earthquakes was established.”

Note the phrase, “Once the link between the fluid injection and the earlier series of earthquakes was established.”

So both the U.S Army and the U.S. Geological Survey over fifty years of research confirm on a federal level that that “fluid injection” introduces subterranean instability and is a contributory factor in inducing increased seismic activity.” How about “causing significant seismic events?”

Fast forward to the present.

Overseas, last month Britain’s Cuadrilla Resources announced that it has discovered huge underground deposits of natural gas in Lancashire, up to 200 trillion cubic feet of gas in all.

On 2 November a report commissioned by Cuadrilla Resources acknowledged that hydraulic fracturing was responsible for two tremors which hit Lancashire and possibly as many as fifty separate earth tremors overall. The British Geological Survey also linked smaller quakes in the Blackpool area to fracking. BGS Dr. Brian Baptie said, “It seems quite likely that they are related,” noting, “We had a couple of instruments close to the site and they show that both events occurred near the site and at a shallow depth.”

But, back to Oklahoma. Austin Holland’s August 2011 report, “Examination of Possibly Induced Seismicity from Hydraulic Fracturing in the Eola Field, Garvin County, Oklahoma” Oklahoma Geological Survey OF1-2011, studied 43 earthquakes that occurred on 18 January, ranging in intensity from 1.0 to 2.8 Md (milliDarcies.) While the report’s conclusions are understandably cautious, it does state, “Our analysis showed that shortly after hydraulic fracturing began small earthquakes started occurring, and more than 50 were identified, of which 43 were large enough to be located.”

Sensitized to the issue, the oil and natural gas industry has been quick to dismiss the charges and deluge the public with a plethora of televisions advertisements about how natural gas from shale deposits is not only America’s future, but provides jobs and energy companies are responsible custodians of the environment.

It seems likely that Washington will eventually be forced to address the issue, as the U.S. Army and the USGS have noted a causal link between the forced injection of liquids underground and increased seismic activity. While the Oklahoma quake caused a deal of property damage, had lives been lost, the policy would most certainly have come under increased scrutiny from the legal community.

While polluting a local community’s water supply is a local tragedy barely heard inside the Beltway, an earthquake ranging from Oklahoma to Illinois, Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas is an issue that might yet shake voters out of their torpor, and national elections are slightly less than a year away.

[Return to headlines]

White House Tries to Limit Netanyahu “Liar” Damage

The White House sought on Wednesday to limit damage to U.S.-Israel relations following revelations that French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel “a liar” in a private conversation with President Barack Obama.

“Our record speaks very clearly about the president’s commitment to Israel and he has maintained a very close working relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu,” White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters, referring to Obama.

Obama has had a difficult relationship with Netanyahu, who criticized him for pushing Israel too hard in the drive for a Middle East peace deal, straining Obama’s standing with Jewish American voters as he campaigns for re-election next year.

Reporters covering the G20 summit in Cannes last week overheard French President Nicolas Sarkozy call Netanyahu a “liar” while talking to Obama.

Instead of contradicting Sarkozy’s characterization of Netanyahu, Obama appeared to commiserate. “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you,” the U.S. president replied, according to the French interpreter.


[Return to headlines]


EEG Finds Consciousness in People in Vegetative State

Signs of consciousness have been detected in three people previously thought to be in a vegetative state, with the help of a cheap, portable device that can be used at the bedside. “There’s a man here who technically meets all the internationally agreed criteria for being in a vegetative state, yet he can generate 200 responses [to direct commands] with his brain,” says Adrian Owen of the University of Western Ontario. “Clearly this guy is not in a true vegetative state. He’s probably as conscious as you or I are.”

In 2005, Owen’s team, used functional MRI to show consciousness in a person who was in a persistent vegetative state, also known as wakeful unconsciousness — where the body still functions but the mind is unresponsive — for the first time. However, fMRI is costly and time-consuming, so his team set about searching for simple and cost-effective solutions for making bedside diagnoses of PVS. Now, they have devised a test that uses the relatively inexpensive and widely available electroencephalogram (EEG). An EEG uses electrodes attached to the scalp to record electrical activity in the brain.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Alcohol Damages Women’s Brains Faster Than Men’s: Swedish Study

Women alcoholics suffer damage to the part of their brain that controls moods, impulses and sleep three times faster than their male counterparts, a Swedish study showed Wednesday. Women suffer a 50-percent reduction in the so-called serotonin function in their brain after four years of excessive drinking, while men show the same amount of damage after 12 years of alcohol abuse, according to the study by researchers at Gothenburg University.

“The impairment is progressing much faster in women,” explained Kristina Berglund, who conducted the study with colleagues from the university’s Department of Psychology, as well as two researchers at the faculty of Health Sciences, known as the Sahlgrenska Academy. Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter that is among other things critical to the development and treatment of depression and chronic anxiety.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Archaeology: Neanderthal Man Liked the Greek Islands

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Neanderthal men and women liked Greek islands, and were almost certainly their first inhabitants. This came to light thanks the latest finds discovered over the past two years by the University of Crete’s History and Archaeology Department in collaboration with the 36 th Superintendence for Classical and Prehistoric Antiquities in the active archaeological sites in the group of Meganisi islands, in the central Ionian Sea.

Meganisi — a small and beautiful strip of land south-east of Lefkada and four miles away from it — is part of the group of small islands called Prighiponisia, among which is the famous Skorpios owned by the Onassis family.

On the basis of elements brought to light during excavations, Meganisi’s first inhabitants — according to archaeologists — were Neanderthal men and women living in that part of the Ionian Sea 100,000 years ago in a period scholars call the Mid-Paleolithic Era, when, of course, the climate and vegetation of the places were entirely different from what they are today. The archaeological finds discovered on the island of Meganisi bear witness to the presence of human beings in the Mesolithic Period, which with small intervals cover many millennia to the late Roman period.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Cyprus: 83-Year-Old Woman Fined 10,000 Euros for Poaching

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, NOVEMBER 10 — The district court of Larnaca, on the southern coast of Cyprus, has given a 10,000 euro fine to an 83-year-old woman, after more than 2,500 migratory birds were found in her house, meant for restaurants on the islands. In fact hunting these birds is forbidden. The news is reported today by the newspaper Cyprus Mail, which points out that it is the first strict penalty issued in Cyprus for poaching and the first for possession of this type of bird, considered a delicacy on the Mediterranean island where they are called “ambelopoulia” (vineyard birds).

The enormous amount of birds — which have an estimated value of 8,000 euros on the illegal market — was found in October in the house of the old woman in a village in the inlands. The law in Cyprus provides for a maximum sentence for poaching of three years in jail and or a fine of 17,000 euros.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Does Switzerland Need to Tighten Its Gun Laws?

Switzerland’s gun laws came into sharp focus again this week after a young militiaman shot and killed his girlfriend with his army service rifle. Later, a man died from his injuries after a shooting incident at a Geneva shopping centre.

What do you think? Does the country need to get tougher on gun possession in the light of these recent killings?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Politicians Shed Few Tears for Berlusconi

German politicians have breathed a sigh of relief at the news that Silvio Berlusconi is planning to resign. The Italian prime minister has a long track record of offending the Germans, and his relationship with Chancellor Angela Merkel was strained. But some fear that the post-Berlusconi era will mean the return of instability to Italian politics.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy’s ECB Board Member Resigns, Ending Stand-Off

Bini Smaghi heads to Harvard

(ANSA) — Rome, November 10 — Italy’s board member at the European Central Bank, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, on Thursday said he was standing down, ending a two-month stand-off between Italy and France.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy had repeatedly indicated Bini Smaghi should go, freeing up room for a French candidate, after it was announced this summer that Mario Draghi would move from the helm of the Bank of Italy to lead the ECB, where he started his term on November 1.

Italy’s outgoing premier, Silvio Berlusconi, had said he would like to meet Sarkozy’s wishes but it was up to Bini Smaghi to make the move.

On Thursday Bini Smaghi said he was stepping down and would start work at Harvard University’s Centre for International Affairs on January 1.

His term at the ECB was due to run until May 31 2013. Draghi voiced his thanks for Bini Smaghi’s “exceptional contribution” to the ECB and his dedication as member of its executive board and ruling council for more than six years.

The ECB chief praised the former director’s staunch defence of the bank’s independence.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Catholic Church Agrees to Compensate Sexual Abuse Victims

Dutch Catholic bishops and church officials have voted in favour of giving compensation to hundreds of victims of sexual abuse which took place within church institutions, Trouw reports on Monday.

This summer, a church commission recommended paying a up to €100,000 in compensation to abuse victims and the bishops have now agreed with this.

The total bill for the church could be as high as €5m.


Compensation will be calculated on the basis of the seriousness of the abuse, the commission says. It will range from €5,000 for remarks or behaviour of a sexual nature to €25,000 for rape or multiple rape. The €100,000 will be paid in exceptional cases such as gang rape or serious abuse causing permanent damage.

It is almost two years since the scandal broke in the Netherlands with revelations that three Catholic clerics from the Don Rua cloisters in ‘s Heerenberg, Gelderland, had abused at least three children in the 1960s and 1970s.

Since then, a government commission has had reports of almost 2,000 cases of abuse within religious institutions. A number of cases will be taken to court

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

Pressure Mounts to Open Sweden’s Stasi Archive

Sweden’s justice minister Beatrice Ask has indicated that she is prepared to discuss the opening the Stasi archive of Swedish security service Säpo in response to calls for more transparency over the classified files. “I intend to invite the group leaders in the Riksdag to see if we reach a consensus on this. I think it is very reasonable to do so based on the discussion which has occurred,” Ask said to Sveriges Television (SVT) on Wednesday.

The opposition parties have demanded greater openness in regards to the archive, a view shared by Alliance government coalition parties the Christian Democrats and the Centre Party. The Centre Party has suggested opening the archives in a manner similar to how the process was undertaken in Germany. “One can say that it is a compromise between openness and integrity,” said Johan Linander, vice chairperson of the Riksdag justice committee and member of the Centre Party.

The party, together with the Sweden Democrats, Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and Left Party are now reported to be considering submitting demands that either more information is released or at least more researchers are granted access to the controversial files.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Teen Girl Held as Sex-Slave for a Year: Report

Swedish police have freed a 14-year-old girl who was allegedly trafficked to Sweden from Belgrade and held as a sex-slave for a year by a mentally-deranged man, media reports said Wednesday. Police refused to comment on the reports, except to confirm that there is a case under investigation. The Daily Expressen described the girl’s captor as a 25-year-old mentally handicapped man.

His family believed he would get better if he had a wife, so they bought the girl for him from her father in the Serbian capital, paying €1,000 ($1,360), the paper said. Her ordeal began in September 2010. “The girl was forced to get engaged in line with Roma customs with the 25-year-old, and was taken to the family’s apartment… where she was locked up,” Expressen reported.

The girl, whose name was not disclosed, has told police she was subjected daily to threats, physical abuse and rape during her captivity in Sweden’s second city Gothenburg, the paper said. A Gothenburg court has detained four people in the case on suspicion of human trafficking, including the girl’s captor and her father, Swedish news agency TT said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: 100 Years: The East London Mosque Trust

It’s a rare occasion for any Muslim organisation to be celebrating a 50-year anniversary in Britain let alone a 100th birthday. But the East London Mosque is celebrating its centenary year right now. A century since its birth, have we really asked ourselves: how long have Muslims been a part of British society? The institution I work for is 100 years old. Not much for a Norman cathedral, or an Anglo-Saxon church. But for a British-built mosque, that’s quite something.

But we’re relative newcomers to these isles compared to some Muslims. A document dating as far back as the 16th century, suggests that “a sect of Mahomatens” had settled in London. The rise of the East India Trading Company, infamous for its part in the ‘Opium Wars’, brought the precious commodity of tea to Britain along with Muslim sailors from parts of Sylhet (in north-eastern Bangladesh) in the early 17th century. My own backyard, Brick Lane in the East End of London, came to mind when I discovered that: “There are records of Sylhetis working in London restaurants as early as 1873.” So with many migrants arriving thanks to commerce and trade with different parts of the British empire, and elsewhere in the world, it is only natural that many Muslims would work towards building a mosque, albeit in a foreign land far away from home.

The Right Honourable Syed Ameer Ali was one of those men who worked towards founding a mosque in the early 20th century. A Muslim jurist from India, Ali was an eminent figure whose lineage could be traced back to the Prophet Muhammad and had received Queen Victoria’s Order of the Indian Empire. He helped arrange the first meeting of what was to become the London Mosque Fund. A meeting at the Ritz Hotel took place on the 9th of November 1910: an iconic date where prominent Muslims and non-Muslims met to establish, in Syed Ali’s own words: “A mosque in London worthy of the tradition of Islam and worthy of the capital of the British empire.”

The support from non-Muslims was key: Lord Nathan Rothschild, the first Jewish member of the House of Lords, and Educationalist, Sir Theodore Morison, were supporters from the outset. Even world renowned translators of the Holy Qur’an, Marmaduke Pickthall and Abdallah Yusuf Ali, pitched in during the early years of the London Mosque Fund. A century later, could Syed Ameer Ali ever envisage that the fruits of his labour would amount to the East London Mosque (ELM) and its counterpart, the London Muslim Centre (LMC) next door? Somehow I think not. The site is soon to become the largest Islamic complex in Western Europe, with a second-phase of development called ‘The Maryam Centre’ on the way. Not only does it provide religious and spiritual services, but the education, social and economic welfare projects it supports try to emulate the ethos of the prophet Muhammad’s first mosque in Madinah which was established in 622 AD as a ‘hub’ for the whole community.

Achieving all this was not as easy as it might seem. The hard work of many notable Muslims and their non-Muslim backers went into realising the dream of the mosque and centre as they stand now.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslims Against Crusades Banned by Theresa May

Home Secretary Theresa May is banning Muslims Against Crusades, a group planning an anti-Armistice Day protest.

The organisation had planned to repeat a demonstration held last year, when members burned poppies near to London’s Albert Hall.

Mrs May’s order, which comes into force at midnight, makes membership or support of the group a criminal offence.

The organisation is closely linked to a host of other previously-banned groups.

Mrs May said she was satisfied that Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) was “simply another name for an organisation already proscribed under a number of names”.

“The organisation was proscribed in 2006 for glorifying terrorism and we are clear it should not be able to continue these activities by simply changing its name,” she said.

Muslims Against Crusades is the latest incarnation of an organisation originally set up by extremist preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed, who fled the UK six years ago.

Its previous incarnations are all proscribed groups. Most recently, it has been involved in potential stand-offs with the English Defence League and it also protested outside the US Embassy on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Anjem Choudary, the leading public figure in the organisation, accused the government of attempting to cover up the truth.

But he said he no longer knew whether the planned “Hell for Heroes” demonstration would happen.

Anyone who joined the demonstration as a member or supporter of MAC could face up to 10 years in jail.

“I think it is an abject failure of democracy and it is a victory for Sharia Muslims,” said Mr Choudary.

In a statement on its website, the organisation had promised a “lack of silence” by British Muslims on Armistice Day.

It said: “We will be leading the campaign to highlight the atrocities which have been committed and continue to be committed against the Muslims, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq, or in the brutal torture concentration camps of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib by the US, UK and their allies.”…

           — Hat tip: The EDL[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Chief in Frank Talk on EDL, Riots and Rising Burglaries and Robberies

The summer riots and uproar over the English Defence League demonstration have made the past year particularly challenging for the East End.

From a policing perspective, the spotlight has been focused on the Tower Hamlets force and with the Olympics next year, new hurdles lie ahead. But acting borough commander Supt Robert Revill believes recent months have shown his force is up to the challenge. The fact the EDL and anti-fascism demos passed without the huge public disorder and mass arrests feared by some backs up his case. But soaring burglary and robbery rates over the past year — as seen in shocking new figures recently released by the Met — are the latest burden for the area. In a frank interview, Mr Revill will discuss the successes of the past year along with the worrying increases in burglaries and robberies and reveal what his force is doing to turn back the trend. Read the full story in the Docklands and East London Advertiser, out tomorrow.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Case of Babar Ahmad and the Politically ‘Puritanical’ Muslims

Babar Ahmad, a computer programmer from South London, was initially arrested back in 2003. In the middle of the night, the British police stormed in. By the time he was dragged to the police station, his body had sustained over 70 injuries. Only six days later, he was released without charge; however, in August 2004, he was rearrested by Scotland Yard acting on a US extradition warrant, which he has been fighting ever since. Almost 88 months have expired, and he is still locked up without conviction and the US has presented very little credible evidence. Otherwise, he would have been tried in the British courts, especially given the large amount of anti-terror legislation that has come into existence post 9/11.

The mainstream Muslims in the UK campaigned hard and successfully secured 100,000 signatures, for the e-petition “Put Babar Ahmad on Trial in the UK”; hence, passing the mark required to start a parliamentary debate. And hopefully, a favourable outcome will create enough pressure to prevent extradition of Babar Ahmad to the US, where he faces the prospect of being tried in a kangaroo court and incarcerated.


[JP note: Mainstream?]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

World’s Smallest Auto: Dutch Scientists Drive Single-Molecule Car

Its wheels are comprised of a few atoms each; its motor, a mere jolt of electricity. Scientists in the Netherlands have introduced the world’s smallest car — and it’s only a single molecule long. It’s certainly no Porsche, but scientists at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands are still excited about their latest achievement: creating a “car” that’s only a billionth of a meter long.

The nanometer-sized vehicle, introduced in the British journal Nature on Wednesday, is comprised of a miniscule frame with four rotary units, each no wider than a few atoms. In fact, the whole construction is 60,000 times thinner than a human hair, according to the AFP news agency. The research team was able to propel the nanocar six billionths of a meter by firing electrons at it with a tunnelling electron microscope. The “electronic and vibrational excitation” of the jolts changes the way the atoms of the “wheels” interact with those on a copper surface, the reports says, propelling the car forward in a single direction. The only problem, it would seem, is getting all the wheels to turn in the same direction every time.

It might be tough to imagine the use of such a diminutive roadster. But nanotechnology is widely considered one of the most exciting fields of the 21st century, and the researchers view their design as “a starting point for the exploration of more sophisticated molecular mechanical systems with directionally controlled motion.” Utilizing materials at an atomic or molecular level — “nano” comes from the Greek word for “dwarf” — finds applications in everything from medicine and engineering to consumer products, such as sunscreen, ketchups and even powdered sugar.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


EU Prosecutor Starts Trafficking Probe in Albania: Source

An EU-appointed prosecutor probing alleged organ trafficking from Kosovo in late 1990s has launched an investigation in Albania, a government official said Thursday. The US prosecutor John Clint Williamson met Prime Minister Sali Berisha and public prosecutor Ina Rama, according to the source who asked not to be named. The visit, details of which were not publicly revealed, will continue Friday.

The EU mission in Kosovo (EULEX) in June set up a task force to open a preliminary investigation into a Council of Europe report. The task force is composed of prosecutors and investigators and led by Williamson, who is based in Brussels for the probe.

Last year, Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty alleged that senior commanders of the rebel ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), including Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci, were involved in organised crime and organ trafficking during and after the 1998-1999 war with Serbian forces.

The report set out allegations that organs had been taken from the bodies of prisoners, many of them Serbs, held by the KLA in Albania in the late 1990s. Both Kosovo and Albania denied the accusations and rejected the report. Tirana has said it was open for any investigation on its territory and declared its readiness to contribute the probe that would lead to the truth, considering the accusations “false.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Wahhabi Jihadis in the Balkans Running Amok

These are the small group of native Bosnians, who became Wahhabi adherents and Jihadis a legacy of Saudi influence during the Bosnia Conflict that allegedly ended wth the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995. A great deal of support was given to fundamentalist Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims by the Saudis, Al Qaeda and the Islamic Republic of Iran, during the conflict. Perhaps these Wahhabists have been trained and equipped by Al Qaeda and the IRGC? That revelation could come in the wake of these latest attack on the US Embassy in Sarajevo in late October. That is, if the Obama Admnisitration, the CIA and Gen. Petreaus come clean…

[See URL for link to NRO background story on this one. We covered it a few years ago. This is a good update]

[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: US Hints at Supporting Brotherhood

The United States would be “satisfied” if fair parliamentary elections in Egypt produced a Muslim Brotherhood victory, President Barack Obama’s pointman for democratic transitions in the Middle East said Nov. 4.

“I think the answer is yes, I think we will be satisfied, if it is a free and fair election,” the newly appointed special coordinator for Middle East transitions, William Taylor, said when asked about what the US reaction would be if the Islamist party comes out ahead in elections starting this month. “What we need to do is judge people and parties and movements on what they do, not what they’re called,” Taylor told a forum at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think-tank.

In June Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington had been in “limited contacts” with the Muslim Brotherhood as part of an effort to adjust to Egypt’s political upheaval. Taylor made broad comparisons between the Brotherhood and the Islamist Ennahda party in Tunisia that took the largest number of seats in that country’s recent election and is now forming a coalition. “This is something that we are used to, and should not be afraid of. We should deal with them,” he said of Islamist parties that come to power.

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

Egyptian Government Report Absolves Army of Maspero Massacre

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — The fact-finding commission of Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights, NCHR, the official body which oversees human rights in the country, issued last Wednesday its report on the events of October 9, titled the “Maspero Massacre,” where 27 Coptic Christian protesters were killed and over 329 more injured outside the State TV building in Maspero (AINA 10-10-2011).

The NCHR report drew angry responses from Copts and was blasted by NGOs and activist as a white wash of the military’s role in the Maspero Massacre.

“The report of the commission as it stands ensured that the army is absolved of any responsibility of firing ammunition,” said Dr. Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization EUHRO. “ NCHR provided evidence of innocence, in advance, for the army, without having the evidence to prove it.”

Some activists argued that the report is invalid since it was issued by a commission of National Council for Human Rights, formed by a decree from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which is considered a subject of investigation in the Maspero incident.

The main controversy in the NCHR report was putting the blame of firing live ammunition on “unidentified” civilians who targeted both the peaceful protesters and the military police, asserting that no live ammunition was fired on the protesters by the military, as the army only fired blanks in the air to disperse the protesters. “Those assailants could not be identified, but we described them as civilians because this is how they were dressed,” said a member of the NCHR committee at the press conference on November 2.

EUHRO issued a statement rejecting these claims as they were not based on technical reports from the criminal lab and forensic medicine. EUHRO said in its statement “…how did the committee determine that the shooters of live ammunition were civilians without conducting an investigations in this matter, or were they military personnel in civilian clothes?”

Magdy Khalil, member of Coptic Solidarity International, an NGO representing Coptic activists from all continents, blasted the report in an article, pointing out its contradictions and the lack of answers to many vital questions. “It committed itself strictly to the framework set out by the SCAF press conference of October 13 and to the strategic objective of acquitting the military.”

In its own breakdown of the events, NCHR’s report described the procession as peaceful, according to the consensus of witnesses, and protesters carried crosses of wood or plastic together with flags of Egypt and banners condemning the demolition of churches and demanding a unified law for building places of worship.

“However, in the next page of its 14-page report, NCHR says the demonstrators hurled stones at the military police at the beginning of the march,” said Magdy Khalil, “and on page 3 it says that some of the demonstrators were carrying clubs, swords, and knives — corroborating what was said at the SCAF press conference on October 13. In one part of the report it says that the demonstrators jumped on one of the army armored vehicles and set fire to it, while in another part, it says that the “unidentified civilians” were the culprits.”

Copts expected the Coptic Orthodox Church to criticize the report. Bishop Bassanti of Helwan said “I only care about what the report said, that the demonstrators did not carry weapons at all. I believe they should have been protected by the army instead of the army being their opponent.” He added that all losses suffered by the demonstrators in these events are the responsibility of the state.

Although the report acknowledges that 12 Copts were run over and crushed under the wheels of armored vehicles, it asserts this was not deliberate, saying the armored vehicles were used to disperse the demonstrators, but because of their extremely high speed in the midst of the crowds, this led to the death of 12 citizens.

“The report does not clarify who is responsible and describes it as non-deliberate mistakes,” said Khalil.

“The report criticized the performance of the Egyptian television coverage of events, calling it professional error, not crimes of incitement,” says a statement by the Maspero Coptic Youth Union (MCYU), a Coptic activist group and organizers of the protest on October 9. MCYU also criticized the use by the fact-finding committee of the term “unknown civilians” opening fire on the military police and civilian demonstrators, which it views as in attempt not to directly charge anybody in particular. They confirmed the presence of video footage which clearly show the perpetrators of the attacks on Coptic demonstrators (this video shows army snipers hiding in the TV building).

MCYU called for an independent fact-finding committee to investigate the incident, away from the influence of military courts. They also demanded that the Information Minister and Egyptian State TV officials be made accountable for lying in their coverage of the incident, “which almost caused sectarian strife.”

The NCHR report called for an immediate investigation by an independent civilian fact-finding committee, as well as the punishment of perpetrators.

Judge Amir Ramzi, member of the National Commission for Justice, said that the fact-finding report of the NCHR lacks investigative techniques, and got no cooperation from the authorities, however, some of its recommendations were reasonable.

According to El Wafd newspaper, Ramzi said that next week he will present a detailed report of the events of Maspero, supported by video and audio footage, to the Military Council, the Council of Ministers, and the fact-finding commission of the Ministry of Justice. A fact-finding commission was formed by the Cabinet in the wake of the events, headed by its minister of Justice.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Woman Salafite Candidate, Only Husband Shown on Poster

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 10 — The most recent manifesto issued by the Salafite party regarding the elections that will be held on November 28 speaks of a woman candidate, without mentioning her name or showing her picture. In fact the document does show a picture, but it is her husband’s, and she is referred to as the wife of…

This latest trick has triggered a widespread campaign of sarcasm on Twitter, website Al Arabiya reports. According to the Egyptian media, the woman in question runs for the Nur party in the Dakhalia province, in the centre of the country.

The electoral propaganda poster refers to the candidate as the wife of Ismael Mustafa, living in the Dakernes area and graduated in Islamic studies. Her name, the Egyptian media specify, has been published by the party on the social networks. Apparently she is called Marwa Ibraheem Al Kammash and a rose is shown instead of her photo. After the sarcastic reactions, the party had to remove both the name and the rose, only leaving: “the wife of Ismael Mustafa.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Boom in Fake Medicine, Viagra Leads the Way

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 10 — Israel is in the world’s eight leading nations for counterfeit medicine, with fake Viagra leading the way. The dishonourable top 10 of fake drug superpowers has seen Israel rise quickly through the rankings to eighth position.

The table was recently updated by the global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which for the last few years has highlighted the boom in the trade of fake or recycled drugs in Israel. An admission has even come from the country’s Ministry of Health, while further confirmation comes in the form of the first arrests carried out over the issue in 2010. One of the heaviest sentences was handed down to Zvi Rosenblatt, who was tried by a court in Tel Aviv last year and must now spend 5 years and 10 months behind bars for having imported and sold on around 400,000 pills as counterfeit remedies for erectile dysfunction. Rosenblatt had an accomplice (a doctor) in the operations, which were carried out between 1999 and 2004. Predictably, it is this kind of drug that is most often faked. Viagra leads the way, followed by Cialis and Levitra. Miki Ofer, a leading figure at the Pharmaceutical Society of Israeli (PSI), estimated some time ago that 30% of Viagra or similar pills circulating in Israel were fake. The drugs can be sold easily over the internet or through advertisements in local newspapers. The PSI has identified immigrants from the former USSR, who account for over a million of Israel’s seven and a half million citizens, as the consumers most likely to fall victim to the trade in fake drugs. The “Russians” often buy the drugs from small local retailers, which increases their potential exposure to the fake medicine market.

Reports in recent years, however, show that counterfeit and recycled drugs frequently finish on the shelves in chemists that are registered and controlled. The chemists themselves are often the unknowing victims of scheming suppliers, but this is not always the case. In 2009, for instance, the Ministry of Health closed one chemist in Ramat Aviv (north of Tel Aviv) after a surprise inspection. It emerged that the owners of the chemist were buying drugs off their own customers, changing packaging and expiry dates and selling second-hand drugs as new.

Israel’s dubious reputation in terms of faking drugs has gone beyond the country’s borders, even reaching the other side of the ocean, The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now has Israel in the list of its “specially observed” countries, those that are suspected of often importing fake goods. Also in the list are China, India and — for once finding themselves in the same boat as Israel — the Palestinian Territories.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netanyahu to Limit Foreign Financial Aid to Israeli Non-Profit Organisations

The prime minister announces his support for a bill that puts a US$ 5,500 cap on financial aid to “political” NPOs from foreign governments and international organisations. Defining what is “political” is a problem. Another bill would place a 45 per cent tax on funds received by NPOs not supported by the State of Israel.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) — A bill that would ban “political” Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) from receiving funds from foreign governments and international organisations in excess of 20,000 shekels (about US$ 5,500) is coming before the Israeli cabinet.

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has announced that his support for a bill proposed by MK Ofir Akunis (Likud), which appears to be aimed at the organisations that provided information to the United Nations commission on operation ‘Cast Lead’ carried out by Israeli forces in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 17 January 2009.

According to the bill, “inciting activity undertaken by many organisations, under the cover of human rights work, has the goal of influencing political debates, and the character and the policies of the state of Israel.”

Sources close to the Knesset (Israeli parliament) told Haaretz that the proposal is unlikely to be endorsed by the High Court as it is now formulated. The main problem is the difficulty of legally defining an NPO’s “political” activity.

Conversely, for Akunis, it “is a just, logical law that eliminates an anomalous situation in which foreign states intervene in Israel’s political discourse via the conferral of money given in the form of donations to NPOs that pursue political goals.” The lawmaker added, “The fact that a state such as England can donate money to a movement such as Peace Now is blatantly unfair. This is a law which will bring justice.”

The ministerial committee will also decide whether to support another proposal stipulating that an NPO not supported by the State of Israel would have to pay taxes at a rate of 45 per cent on all revenue provided by a foreign government.

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

Middle East

EU and Turkey Agree Extra Trade and Visa Co-Operation

The European Commission and Turkey agreed Wednesday to step up co-operation in the fields of travel visas and trade. The commission called it “a positive agenda” to “complement” rather than replace membership negotiations, which are deadlocked due to Ankara’s frosty relations with EU member Cyprus.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

IAEA Lambasts Iran Nuclear Progam

Israel Hails Report as Turnaround for Atomic Watchdog

Iran is quite possibly developing nuclear bombs — with this assessment, the IAEA has taken a clear stance against Tehran for the first time. Now the agency’s former head Mohamed ElBaradei must face some uncomfortable questions. For years he had taken a defensive line, and Israeli newspapers suspect there was a reason behind it.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Indian Migrant Workers Exploited and Enslaved in Arab Countries

More than a million Indians live in the Gulf region. Often, employers take away their papers, including residency permits, forcing them to live as illegal aliens. Each year, thousands of migrants go missing. A Kerala TV station airs their cases and helps families find their loved ones.

Mumbai (AsiaNews/ Agencies) — More than a million Indians live and work in the Gulf region. Many of them are exploited or forced to live in slave-like condition, undocumented. According to a recent report by Al-Jazeera, thousands of migrant workers have gone missing after their visas expired. Often, employers take away their passports in order to force them to work underground without an opportunity to go home and with the constant danger of being arrested by police.

For the past 11 years, Rafeek Ravuther has directed and produced Pravasi Lokam or “Migrants World’, a weekly programme broadcast on Kairali TV, a Malayalam-language station based in Kerala, southern India. In it, he tells the story of the hardships Indian workers face in Arab countries. His programme also helps families find their missing relatives.

For millions of migrants from Kerala working in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Oman, Pravasi Lokam has become a must-see programme. Most of its protagonists are men, husband and sons who simply go missing.

Over the past 30 years, millions of Indian women have become “Gulf wives”, left to raise their children on their own and entirely dependent on remittances from their overseas spouses.

When things go wrong, these women have nowhere to turn and no safety net to fall back on. Among the stories told one stands out, that of Govindan Gopalakrishnan who disappeared 23 years ago.

In 1983, Govindan left Kerala for Bahrain to work as a carpenter. Instead, when he arrived he was forced to work as a domestic servant. After two years he fled his Arab sponsor and ended up working on a camel farm deep in the desert of Bahrain. However, his original Arab sponsor filed charges against him and he eventually ended up in jail.

It was his second employer at the camel farm that got Gopalakrishnan out of jail and took him back to work. There he stayed for years, unable to contact his family on his meagre salary or send money home.

He toiled every day for 19 years, not knowing that he was undocumented for most of them. His second Arab sponsor at the camel farm refused to release him or allow him to visit his family. It was not until he was too old and frail, in his 60s, that his employer decide to let him go.

In 2006, the Pravasi Lokam team got in touch with his family. After negotiations with Bahraini authorities and with the help of Keralite community in Bahrain, US$ 4,370 were raised to pay a fine for unpaid immigration fees. Now, friends and well-wishers are raising money to buy him a plane ticket to come home.

The programme has 17 representatives in the Gulf who can be contacted for help. Their phone numbers and contact details are scrolled across the screen as missing cases are reported.

The programme has aired more than 1,300 cases since it began, but has only been able to reunite around 320 families.

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

Israel May Launch Strike on Iran as Soon as Next Month to Prevent Development of Nuclear Weapons

Israel will launch military action to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon as soon as Christmas, intelligence chiefs have warned.

A report by a UN watchdog into Iran’s nuclear ambitions ‘completely discredits’ the Islamic nation’s protestations of innocence, according to Foreign Secretary William Hague.

The International Atomic Energy Agency found that Iran is developing a nuclear test facility, nuclear detonators and computer modelling for a nuclear warhead that would fit on an existing missile.

Sources say the understanding at the top of the British Government is that Israel will attempt to strike against the nuclear sites ‘sooner rather than later’ — with logistical support from the U.S.

A senior Foreign Office figure has revealed that ministers have been told to expect Israeli military action, adding: ‘We’re expecting something as early as Christmas, or very early in the new year.’

Officials believe President Barack Obama would have to support the Israelis or risk losing vital Jewish-American support in the next presidential election.

In recent weeks, Ministry of Defence sources confirmed that contingency plans have been drawn up in the event that the UK decided to support military action.

But the source ruled out direct British support, adding: ‘Of course we are not in favour of Iran developing a bomb — but do we think they’d use it: no.


[More fool, he, for failing to understand that Iran is not a rational state.]

[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Spielberg ‘Blacked Out’ of Beirut Tintin Posters

Jewish director Steven Spielberg’s name has been covered up on posters advertising the new Tintin film at a cinema in Lebanon. A contributor to “Blog Baladi,” a Lebanon-focused site, published photographs taken at Beirut’s Cinema City with tape hiding Mr Spielberg’s name. Under the heading “Selective censorship at Cinema City”, he noted: “The movie was produced by Steven Spielberg, but you wouldn’t know that just by looking at the posters. “Spielberg’s name is blacked out on all posters.” Describing it as “hypocrisy”, the blogger questioned whether the decision had been taken by the cinema company or the government. “I guess that we shouldn’t mention or see his name since he’s Jewish, but we can go ahead and watch a movie he produced,” he added. On the cinema’s website, the film is credited correctly.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The Concept of Brotherhood in Islam

How Muslims View Each Other and How They View Non-Muslims

by Harold Rhode

With the end of the Cold War, a new enemy emerged, Radical Islamic Fundamentalism, made up of Islamic extremists, terrorists and the states that support them. If we are to counter them at all, we must help to understand them as they understand themselves.

In their worldview, they see themselves first as Muslims; as such, they are not loyal to any geographic entity. The world, in their eyes, is roughly divided into two groups: the “Abode of Islam” [Dar al-Islam], and the “Abode of War” [Dar al-Harb] — or the world which is not yet Muslim but eventually, they believe, should and will be. If they feel any sense of territorial loyalty, it is to the Abode of Islam, the places where Muslims live: “The “Nation of Islam” [Ummah]. In these two worlds, which do not have geographic borders, Islam is not only a religion, but the common political — almost familial — bond that unites all Muslims.

Historically, the term “Abode of Islam” has meant: Those territories over which Muslims either rule or have ruled; or where Muslims predominate but are wrongly ruled by Non-Muslims. During the past 50 years, however, this definition has been modified to include: a) Those countries whose rulers claim to be Muslims but, in the eyes of the radical Islamists, are apostates; [1] and b) New territories, such as Europe, to which Muslims have been immigrating since the end of the World War II, and where they now form a significant part of the population. If present demographic trends continue, Europe promises to be significantly, if not predominantly, Muslim by the end of this century, and therefore, rightfully in their eyes, part of the “Abode of Islam.”

As there are, from this perspective, only two peoples in the world — Muslims and non-Muslims — Islam teaches that non-Muslims are also one nation [millah] united against the Muslims.[2]. Muslims, whether observant or secular, not only have a strong affinity toward each other, but assume that non-Muslims have the same strong affinity toward each other as well. Although non-Muslims make distinctions among the many peoples and religions of the non-Muslim world, most Muslims, on a deep level, see non-Muslims as one unified people — whose long term interests are inimical to those of the Muslims.[3]

Whereas the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], for instance, cultivates political and religious solidarity among all Muslims, regardless of the countries in which they live, one cannot imagine a similar organization in the West of Christians, most of whom seem divided into different branches of Christianity — from and Roman Catholicism to scores of Protestant offshoots. Moreover, Western Christians seem not to care unduly about the plight of their co-religionists in Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Lebanon, or anywhere else in the Muslim world, including even Bethlehem and Nazareth.

If one compares this view of the world to that of the Jews for their people worldwide, although Jews show a deep concern and sympathy for Jews everywhere, very few, if any, are prepared to overlook or rationalize criminal behavior in other Jews: when Baruch Goldstein, for example, shot and killed almost 30 Muslims praying at the grave of the patriarch Abraham [4] in 1994, most Jews were ashamed and outraged, and openly condemned Goldstein.

In the Muslim world, however, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and other Muslim leaders — in keeping with what seems to be a cultural inability to accept responsibility, admit wrong or apologize for anything — seem proud to express their solidarity with the Turkish IHH terrorists who were part of the Mavi Marmara Flotilla that tried to break a legal naval blockade; with the Egyptians after the August 2011 attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo, or with the terrorist group, Hamas.

No Muslim leader has yet apologized or expressed any remorse for the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001; for the bombing of the Jewish center in Buenos Aires, or for pushing a wheelchair-ridden man into the sea — all non-Israeli and non-military targets. Erdogan has even said there is no such thing as Islamic terrorism. Does this mean that whatever Muslims do, no matter how awful, cannot be considered terrorism because if Muslims do it in the name of Allah or Islam, that makes it right?

As for non-Muslims living in the Muslim world, they can easily attain equality and acceptance from their fellow Muslims by converting to Islam. As kinship is not based on blood or ethnic ties, as in the West, but above all on religious identity — irrespective of the level of religious observance — their earlier, non-Muslim, origins will be quickly forgotten. To be a true Arab, Turk, Iranian, or Kurd, all that is required is to be a Muslim.

This view may account for why Middle Eastern Christians seem to conclude they have no future in the Middle East, and have been emigrating to the West. They apparently see that in the end, the Muslims do not look at them as equals — as we are currently witnessing in the ongoing massacre of Christians in Egypt, Sudan and Iraq — and that there exists a huge, permanent glass ceiling that prevents them from advancing in their and their ancestors’ countries of birth.

Israel, a small non-Muslim country in the middle of the Muslim world, is in the same situation as the Christians. No matter what it does — simply because it is not Muslim — Israel will always be regarded as an outsider. If the only way to really belong is to be Muslim, Israel can never be fully accepted by its neighbors in that part of the world. Being Muslim, therefore, is as much a political identity as a religious one.

The same holds true for non-Muslims in the US and the West. Unless the Muslim world undergoes to major revolution in its thinking, we shall always be regarded as outsiders. Although we might have amicable relationships, Muslims will always regard us with suspicion: When the chips are down, they believe, they will be on one side and the non-Muslims on the other — supporting their own, non-Islamic “brothers” just as the Muslims would support theirs.

Muslims understand Western support for Israel, or Western concern for the plight of the Christians in Lebanon or Iraq as a natural and unchangeable form of religious brotherhood — like theirs. When Westerners try to prove the Muslims mistaken by citing Western support for the Bosnian Muslims, whom Westerners tried to save from being slaughtered by their Christian neighbors, Muslims seem to have great difficulty making sense out of why the Westerners “really” did this. It simply does not conform to their view of Muslim solidarity vs. non-Muslim solidarity. Muslims, therefore, either choose to ignore Western support for their brothers, or dismiss Westerners who have aided Muslims in distress as being part of some deeper plot against the Muslim world.

Any alliance between a Western country and a Muslim one needs to be seen in this context.

No matter how hard non-Muslim powers plead with them to do otherwise, Muslim countries will never see themselves as true friends of the non-Muslim world. Regrettably, the Islamic concept of non-Muslim brotherhood, or millah, means that the Muslims and the West will continue to be at odds with one another, unless the Muslims are forced to re-evaluate their religious sources, most likely as the result of a massive military loss.

In the US, where people of different ethnic and religious groups might feel a lack of solidarity toward others of different backgrounds, all Americans are nevertheless considered equal before the law. For non-Muslims in the Muslim world, unfortunately, this is not what occurs. Non-Muslims are, at best, tolerated, “protected” not-quite-guests, who, under Islamic Shari’a Law, are subject to a different set of regulations and expectations that place severe limitations on their ability rise to the highest political and social levels.

Even though, throughout much of the twentieth century, most of the Muslim world seemed to Westerners to have abandoned its Islamic identity in favor of national identities — such as Arabic, Turkish, or Iranian — Islamic identity apparently continued underneath as an essential component of identity. Loyalty, for a large number of Muslims — and most significantly for the Islamists — is still owed to the amorphous concept of the Muslim Nation, or Ummah. As the Muslim prophet Muhammad said, “All Muslims belong to one people, the only difference among them is in piety.” For Muslims throughout the centuries, this feeling of brotherhood, [5] of belonging to one people — not only to a religion — is so deeply engrained that today it even permeates the world view of secular Muslims, as well.[6]

Even though Muslims feel a sense of brotherhood toward each other, it does not mean that all Muslims get along well together. Islamic history is filled with examples of how the Muslims have failed because they refused to recognize each other as brothers and members of the same people. The demand from their prophet — and, later, political and religious leaders — again and again that they get along together indicates that they did not. In general Arabs cannot stand Persians, who look down on Turks; Shi’ites fear Sunnis; Sunnis intimidate Shi’ites; most look down on Sufis, and so on.

As in the Iran-Iraq War, or every week on the streets of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, many Muslims have no problem inflicting murder and mayhem upon their Muslim brothers. More Muslims have possibly been killed by their fellow Muslims than by non-Muslims. In the West, however, one is judged by one’s actions, not by one’s thoughts; but in Islam, if the intent of the killer can be interpreted by Islamic Shari’a Law as furthering the cause of Islam, murdering one’s own people — or sometimes even family members — is not only considered permissible but even at times praiseworthy.

On occasion, Muslims have sided with non-Muslims against their fellow Muslims.[7] A few years ago, for instance, as the situation in southern Iraq deteriorated — largely because of Iranian-armed-and-backed militias reaping havoc in the area — the Iraqi Shi’ite Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, sent Iraqi forces to clean it up. By doing so, he signaled that he had chosen to side with the non-Muslim Americans who had liberated his country from tyranny, rather than with his fellow Shi’ite (though non-Arab) Iranians. Despite the animosity and hatred toward each other, however, the reflexive reaction of most Muslims seems to be to side with each other against the non-Muslims — a proclivity that has major political ramifications for the non-Muslim world.

One way of understanding the Islamic concept of brotherhood operates is to look, as a parallel, at how the American Mafia operates. Each Mafia family is independent, although the various families often engage in internal warfare. To the outside world, it appears that they deeply hate and mistrust each other. But the moment the “Feds” confront them, they cooperate as members of the same family, unite against what they see as the common threat, then resume their internal warfare when the threat disappears.[8]

If our radical Muslim adversaries all view the world as divided into Muslims and non-Muslims, it is crucial that we understand that when we are fighting, we are not fighting against a particular country. International borders are irrelevant. By continuing to respect borders, we cripple our military and prevent it from defeating the enemy, who, as we have seen for years in, say, Pakistan and Afghanistan, or Iraq and Iran, simply keep crossing back and forth across borders as needed. If we are to win the war against the Islamists, we must adjust our military and political strategies accordingly.


The following sections, some based on the experiences of Western travelers throughout the Islamic world, illustrate how deeply the concept of Islamic brotherhood is embedded in the hearts and minds of the Muslims, whether radical or moderate..

1). Who are the Real Egyptians: the Coptic Christians, Descended from the Ancient Egyptians, or Recent Muslim Immigrants to Egypt?



[Return to headlines]

Turkish Court Reduces Sentences for Men Accused of Raping 13-Year-Old

Human rights groups have reacted with outrage after a Turkish appeals court reduced prison sentences for 26 men convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old girl, because the victim had given “consent”.

In a judgment this week, the court ruled that the sentence was based on the old Turkish penal code, under which rape of a minor could be punished with a minimum prison sentence of 10 years — unless the child consented.

Two women accused of having sold the girl — known only as NÇ — for sex have each been sentenced to nine years in prison, for leading “immoral lives”, but the 26 men, who include teachers, civil servants and a village elder, were given sentences ranging from one to six years.

Activists protesting outside Istanbul’s palace of justice on Friday called for the decision to be overturned.

“Is it necessary to discuss consent when 26 men rape a 13-year-old girl?” asked Nilgün Yurdalan, a women’s rights activist of the Istanbul Feminist Collective.

“We think that the government itself has committed a serious crime. This does not concern only the five judges, but the laws of this country, the mentality of the government and their view of women,” she said.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Kashmir Life in Danger of a Pastor Falsely Accused of Forced Conversions

The Grand Mufti has called the Rev. Khanna of the Church of North India to a Sharia court to explain the alleged forced conversions of young Muslims. The protests of Bishop Samantaroy and the President of the Global Council of Indian Christians, Sajan K George, an “inappropriate and unconstitutional demand, a humiliation to the Constitution of our country.”

Srinagar (AsiaNews) — Police in Srinagar have received a complaint against Rev. Chander Khanna Head of the Church of All Saints, claiming that Christian missionaries in Kashmir encourage conversions. Rev. Khanna was summoned to a Sharia court of Srinagar, bythe Grand Mufti of Kashmir valley, Basheeruddin, to explain the alleged conversion of young local Muslims. In a letter to the pastor, the grand mufti has warned him of being held personally responsible for the consequences if he failed to explain his activities in the court. “Large-scale law and order problems are feared across the state if the deplorable practice of using motivation and inducements to make young Kashmiri men and women abjure their faith become public,” the letter reads.

The grand mufti claimed to possess a video cassette purportedly showing Rev Khanna urging young Kashmiri Muslims to embrace Christianity. “I will take all necessary measures in exercise of the powers vested in me by Islamic sharia. It is a matter of grave concern that Christian missionaries active here should be running an organised and integrated campaign to convert young Kashmiri Muslims to Christianity,” he said.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy, head of the diocese of Amritsar in the Church of North India (CNI) said: ““I have verified is that these people used to come to the Church for more than one year and they and they expressed their desire for baptism Our founding fathers ensured each of us citizens of our country the free will to choose their religion and if one wants of his own free will to choose or change his or her faith it is his or her constitutional right”

The bishop, expressing fear for the safety of Rev. Khanna has called the allegations of inducing conversion “bogus and baseless”. “These allegations are fabricated as we neither we have the money nor do we have any material benefits to offer anyone desirous of Baptism. Furthermore, he pointed out that the converts in detention have categorically denied to the police the allegation of inducement brought out by Muslim groups. “Our schools and our hospitals have served the people of the Valley for over one hundred years and if the conversion had been our purpose and goal, how come the Christian population of Kashmir is so small? And if someone wants to become a Muslim, would there be such a noise? So why is this issue being raised?”, asks the bishop.

Police say they have asked the Rev. Khanna not to move from home for his safety. But the bishop PKSamantaroy told AsiaNews: “Yes, there are concerns about the safety of Rev. Khanna, and since he was asked not to move from home, but there is no official communication, he is virtually under house arrest, and this is illegal, since it is the duty of the State to provide for his safety. “

Sajan K George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) has urged the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir to ensure protection to Rev. Khanna. In a letter to Chief Minister, the President wrote: “Given the recent serious developments in Kashmir, which could endanger the life of an innocent Christian pastor, and put at risk the harmony between the communities in the country, we demand immediate action to take the necessary measures to protect the life of the unfairly targeted person, Rev. C.M. Khanna “. The President Sajan K George points out that Shari’a does not apply to India, and that the Grand Mufti’s request to appear before an Islamic court “is uncalled for, unconstitutional and also very much humiliating the very constitution of our country.”

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

Pakistan: Abbotabad: Police Torture a Pregnant Christian Woman. Pregnancy at Risk

Salma Emmanuel, in the fifth month of pregnancy, has been hospitalized in critical condition. Her husband was accused of a theft committed in the house where the girl worked as a maid. Thieves have stolen as much as 100 grams of gold that was entrusted by Salma to her Muslim employer, for safekeeping until her brother’s wedding.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — Accused of a theft she did not commit, the victim of violence and abuse at the hands of the police, 30 year old Christian Salma Emmanuel now risks loosing the child she is carrying. The maid has been hospitalized in a “critical” and her husband Masih Emmanuel, is being held by police at an undisclosed location. The incident has been condemned by the Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Mgr. Rufin Anthony, who denounces the “kidnapping, rape and torture” of the Christian maid, while the authorities continue to proclaim “equal rights”.

Last week, Salma bought 100 grams of gold ornaments, ahead of her brother’s wedding in Rawalpindi. Not wanting to keep the valuables at home, she entrusted them to the safekeeping of Ghazal Riaz until the wedding. On November 5, Riaz phoned Salma to say there had been a robbery at her home. The robbers had taken about 900 thousand rupees (just over 10 dollars) and 300 grams of gold, including the jewellery belonging to the Christian maid.

The couple immediately went to the Muslim lady’s home who, meanwhile, had alerted the police, finding a team of police dogs on their arrival. In the home there was also Riaz’s brother Jawad and an army colonel. The animals turned on Emmanuel Masih, though it was his first time in the house. Colonel Jawad began to pressure the police to arrest Emmanuel, the agents transferred him to the local station and since then his whereabouts are unknown.

The next day, November 6, his wife was also summoned to the barracks. The agents threatened, physically abused and psychologically tortured her, saying that they would force her to have an abortion and she would never see her husband again. The police, under pressure from the Riaz family, intended to extort a confession of a crime that the Christian couple did not commit. “I was tortured in a brutal fashion — Salma Emmanuel confesses in tears — and when I was close to losing consciousness, I was sent home.” Now she has been admitted to a hospital, unaware of the fate of her husband, and in real danger of losing the baby of five months in her womb.

The Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi Mgr. Rufin Anthony speaks of “sad fact” because “for the umpteenth time people in power have used their influence to bully the weak and abuse the law.” The prelate adds that “nearly taken an innocent life” and now confirms the practice of daily “abductions, rapes and torture” against the religious minority, while the authorities continue to insist on “equal rights”.

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

Pakistan: Militants Kill 4 Members of Peace Committee, Behead One in Khyber Agency

PESHAWAR: Four members of a local peace committee were killed in a shootout with militants from the banned outfit Lashkar-i-Islam in the Akakhel Darra area of Bara sub-division in Khyber Agency on Thursday. The clash started earlier in the morning when the militants attacked members of the peace committee. “The militants beheaded one the peace committee’s members and took away the head,” told a resident on condition of anonymity. “The shootout continued for quite some time, as a result of which four members were killed,” a source from within the Akakhel peace committee told The Express Tribune. The security forces destroyed the house of a militant commander Sher Wali from the Lashkar-i-Islam. “The operation took place in Arjali Nadi area of Shlobar,” confirmed an official. A curfew was imposed in the Bara area for almost three years after rise in attacks that claimed the lives of a number of security personnel. The security forces launched another offensive against militants, including Lashkar-i-Islam, in the area. Hundreds of families have fled their villages and settled at the Jalozai camp located in Nowshera.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Mosque Plans Anger Indigenous Elders

Plans by Western Australia’s Bosnian community to build a mosque near Perth have hit another hurdle.

Local indigenous elders say the land on which it will be built is a sacred site — home to the Waugle, a snake-like Dreamtime creature. The Bosnian Islamic Society says it was unaware of the significance of the land, and that it’s too far along the planning process to build elsewhere. Bennet Brook is a registered Aboriginal site where Bosnian Muslims from surrounding suburbs want to build a place of worship. The indigenous community is insisting they have strong spiritual and physical connections to the site, and it’s no place for a mosque.

[JP note: Meanwhile UK aboriginal, Paul Weston — man who walks with eyes open - sets up British Freedom, a new organisation designed to protect our green and sacred land — home to real-time mead halls, pork scratchings, and darts — from Islamic conquest.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

A Struggle for Power

Brazil is developing the last great untapped reserve of hydroelectricity, the Amazon basin.

When a few hundred demonstrators, mostly from indigenous communities, temporarily occupied the construction site of the Belo Monte dam on Brazil’s Xingu River early on 27 October, workers laid down their tools. But the Brazilian government did not back down from its stance that this hydroelectric project on a tributary of the Amazon — expected to be among the world’s largest, with a capacity of 11,000 megawatts, when completed in 2015 — is essential to meeting the energy needs of a booming economy. Under a court order, the demonstrators vacated the site later the same day, but the dam remains the subject of fierce litigation.

The episode briefly drew the world’s attention to a controversial mega-project, but this is only part of a larger picture. Led by Brazil, governments in the region are increasingly looking to tap into the Amazon system to slake a growing thirst for energy. If current plans are realized, a wave of dam construction will bring staggering change and development to the rainforest in the coming decades.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Swedish Firefighter Wins Affirmative Action Suit

A Swedish firefighter who filed a discrimination lawsuit after being denied a job because he had the “wrong” gender and ethnicity has been awarded 100,000 kronor ($16,000) in compensation. “This is literally speaking a 100 percent victory,” Clarence Crafoord, head of the Centre for Justice (Centrum för rättvisa), in a statement. Crafoord represented firefighter Simon Wallmark in his case against the Södertörns Brandförsvarsförbund (SBFF), a fire department responsible for a number of Stockholm’s southern suburbs.

Wallmar sued the fire department in July 2011 after being denied a position as a summer trainee, despite having the required vocational training as well as previous work experience. He was told that he “wasn’t qualified” because the jobs were “reserved for women and people with foreign backgrounds”. Out of the 32 people finally hired by the fire department, ten lacked the relevant education for the job.

At the time, the fire department defended its decision not to hire Wallmark by arguing it was making a conscious effort to recruit women and minorities. But after several hours of pre-trial negotiations overseen by a judge at the Södertörn District Court on Wednesday, the fire department decided to settle the case for the full 100,000 kronor demanded by Wallmark. “This is an important signal that it’s illegal to give people special treatment due to their gender or ethnic background,” said Crafoord.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


25% of Mammals at Risk of Extinction, IUCN Reports

About one in four mammal species are at risk of extinction, and the Western black rhino has officially been declared extinct, according to a new assessment of biodiversity by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and partners.

For the latest update, researchers assessed the status of 61,900 species of plants and animals.

The reassessments of several rhinoceros species show that the subspecies of the subspecies of the white rhino in central Africa — called the Northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) — is currently teetering on the brink of extinction and has been listed as “Possibly Extinct in the Wild.” A subspecies of Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus annasmiticus) is probably extinct, following the poaching of what is thought to be the last animal in Vietnam in 2010. While this doesn’t mean the end of the Javan rhino, it reduces the species to a single, declining population on the island of Java.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Experience Counts for Nobel Laureates

Study of prizewinning scientists suggests greatest discoveries are now made by middle-aged researchers, not young ones.

Einstein once commented that “a person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of thirty will never do so”1. This may have been an accurate reflection of physics around the quantum mechanics revolution of the 1920s, but it is no longer the case for any field, according to an analysis of the age of Nobel laureates when they performed their prizewinning work. Now, the great discoveries are being made by ever-older scientists.

“Einstein, on this point, does not appear to be correct,” says Benjamin Jones, an expert in innovation at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who co-authored the study. “Scientists are typically getting older and the probability of making a discovery before age 30 has gone way down.”

Working with Bruce Weinberg from Ohio State University in Columbus, Jones analysed 525 Nobel prizes awarded in physics, chemistry and medicine between 1900 and 2008. The pair used historical and biographical information to work out how old each laureate was when he or she performed the prizewinning work. They found that with a few exceptions — notably the quantum mechanics discoveries of the 1920s and 1930s, which were often made by scientists under 30 — the trend across all fields is towards researchers being older when they produce their greatest work.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Transparent Octopus Goes Opaque in Blink of an Eye

Two deep-ocean species of cephalopod, an octopus and a squid, can go from transparent to opaque in the blink of an eye, a new study finds.

This impressive camouflage swap is an adaptation that likely keeps the cephalopods safe from two different types of predators. The first are deep-sea creatures that hunt by looking upward for prey silhouetted against the light filtering down through thousands of feet of water. The second are fish that spotlight prey in “biological” headlights. These fish use bioluminescence, their own body-driven light source, to hunt for food.

To avoid being seen as a dark silhouette, it pays to be transparent, said study researcher Sarah Zylinski, a postdoctoral scientist at Duke University in North Carolina. But when a bioluminescent light hits a transparent surface, the effect would be like a flashlight shining on a windowpane at night, Zylinski said: very reflective, and extremely obvious.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Urban Beehive Lets You Harvest Honey Indoors

Urban beekeeping is taking off amongst those with a back garden or roof terrace, but why should high-rise apartment dwellers be left out? That’s the thinking behind Philips’ urban beehive design, which lets you stick a swarm in your living room.

The sleek hive comes in two pieces that attach through a hole in a window. The outside part provides an entry into the main hive and holds a flower pot for the bees to gather pollen, while the inside contains honeycomb frames ready for the bees to deposit their wax. An orange glass shell filters light, only letting through the wavelengths bees use for sight, and a pull cord at the base releases smoke to calm the bees before opening the hive to gather honey.

It is certainly an attractive design that could help boost declining bee numbers, but don’t expect to see them adorning skyscraper windows any time soon — the hive is just a concept drawn up by Philips as part of its Microbial Home project, which looks at the possiblity of turning the home into a “domestic ecosystem”. Indoor beehives also seem unlikely to get past health and safety checks — what happens if the bees get loose?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]