Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111111

Financial Crisis
»“Zero Growth” Recorded by Spanish Economy
»A Symptom of the Crisis: Greeks Vexed by Growing Crime
»Cameron Doubts About the Future of the Eurozone
»Danish Inflation Rising
»Debt Crisis: Wave of Panic in France
»‘Don’t Laugh’, We Still Aim to Join Euro: Romanian President
»ECB Man to Rule Greece for 15 Weeks
»Eurozone Crisis Fund Ready to Help Italy
»France Angry at Credit Rating Gaffe
»Greece: Unemployment Reaches Peak of 18.4% in August
»How Brazil Can Benefit From Helping Europe
»Italian Senate Approves Stability Law — One Chamber Left
»Italy: Students Occupy Temp Agency in Palermo
»Italy: Tension at Milan Students March With Eggs Hurled at Police
»Italy: Austerity Package Moves From Senate to House
»Living in the Eye of the Financial Storm
»Parliament Approves Portugal Austerity Budget
»Romania Wants to Join the Eurozone — Despite Crisis
»UK Treasury Prepares for ‘Economic Armageddon’ If Euro Falls Apart
»What Comes Next for Troubled Italy?
»Yet Another Catholic Country Needs a Bailout From the Protestant North …
»US Terror Charges for Man Held in Germany
Europe and the EU
»“It’s as if Flemings Are Not Belgians!”
»170 Members of English Defence League Arrested Near Cenotaph in London
»Aurora Furore: Who Owns the Northern Lights?
»Belgium Demands Return of Rubens Nabbed by French Revolution
»Denmark: Biker and Immigrant Gangs Do Battle
»France: Strauss-Kahn Asks Prostitution Inquiry to Question Him
»Italian’s Resignation From Central Bank Board Opens Spot for France
»Italy: Telecom Italia’s Net Profit Leaps 32.7% in 3rd Qtr
»Italy: Pompeii is Crumbling-Can it be Saved?
»Nearly 200 Suspected English Defence League Supporters Arrested Near the Cenotaph After Remembrance Service
»Netherlands Celebrates Day of Dialogue
»Press Release: Police Raid Anjem Choudary Following MAC Ban
»Spain: the Solution to the Catalan Problem?
»Sweden: Care Home Staff Weigh Diapers to Save Money
»Sweden: Örebro Hit by New Sex Attack Wave
»Sweden: Anti-Semitic Crimes on the Rise in Malmö
»Switzerland: The Zodiac Pig
»UK: ‘Undercover Police Dwarves Stole My DNA at Bus Stop’
»UK: Disabled Benefit? Just Fill in a Form: 200,000 Got Handouts Last Year Without Face-to-Face Interview
»UK: Just a Few Hotheads, Mr Willetts?
»UK: More Al Muhajiroun Whack-a-Mole
»UK: Man: 34, Denies Golf Club Beheading
»UK: Police Raid Anti-Poppy Protest Group
»UK: Salah Wins Right to Appeal
»UK: The Future of Campus Extremism?
»Vikings Navigated With Translucent Crystals?
»Al-Jazeera Launches Broadcast to Ex-Yugoslavia
Mediterranean Union
»Cyprus to Host Euro-Med Centre at Boutros Ghali Initiative
North Africa
»Egypt Bars Dutch MP for Racism
»Egypt: Freedom Party MP Lacks Respect
»Egypt: Cairo Islamists Protest Prophet Cartoon at French Embassy
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: With Friends Like These
Middle East
»EU’s Economic Woes Could Affect Iran Sanctions
»Iran Lobbies for Russian Support
»Turkey: Erdogan’s Religious Acrobatics: Nicaea Council Church Back to Being a Mosque
»US Ready to Provide UAE With Bombs for Protection From Iran
»Western Allies Running Out of Options to Stop Iran Nuke Program
»Yemen: Al-Qaeda Whips ‘Dealers’ Selling Hallucinogens Named After Arab Leaders
»Chance of Russia Mars Probe Rescue ‘Very Small’: Report
South Asia
»Afghan Mother and Daughter Stoned and Shot Dead After Taliban Accused Them of ‘Moral Deviation and Adultery’
»Afghanistan: Ghazni: Mother and Daughter Stoned to Death for Adultery 300m From Govt Offices
»Effects of Floods on Thai Economy Exacerbated by EU, US Debt Crises
»EU Censors Own Film on Afghan Women Prisoners
»India-Pakistan-Iran: The Troubled Triangle
»Indonesia: West Java: Muslim and Christian Intellectuals Against Mayor’s Attempts to Cancel Protestant Church
Latin America
»Cuba Follows Sweden to Combat Prostitution
»Migrants Rescued South of Lampedusa
»UK: Mohamed Bouzalim Claimed £400,000 in Fraudulent Benefits
Culture Wars
»Silicon Valley Fights to Keep Its Diversity Data Secret
»The Hague Sacks Gay-Marriage Refusenik
»When Will Gloria Allred Hold a Press Conference About Islam?
»Extra Giant Planet May Have Dwelled in Our Solar System
»Mysterious Dark Energy Played No More Than Bit Part in Early Universe

Financial Crisis

“Zero Growth” Recorded by Spanish Economy

Spain’s economy registered zero growth in the third quarter of the year, latest official statistics indicate.

There was no increase in output between July and September compared with the previous three months, and only a 0.8% increase compared to the same period last year.

It follows a negligible growth of only 0.2% in the previous quarter.

Domestic spending also continues to fall, although the National Institue of Statistics (INE) maintains this was offset by a rise in export demand.

Although in recent weeks it has been overshadowed by Italy, international financial markets continue to express concern over the Spanish government’s ability to meet its debt payments in the face of a weak economy.

The unemployment rate has now reached 22%, meaning lower income tax revenues and more benefit payouts.

Spanish borrowing costs have also risen sharply in the last two months.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

A Symptom of the Crisis: Greeks Vexed by Growing Crime

With a struggling economy, massive austerity measures and increasing uncertainty, crime is surging in parts of Greece. This has sparked a boom for some in the private security business. Greek officials are considering plans to make the streets of Athens safer.

“Almost a quarter of the Athenian city center is now considered off-limits by night for those unwilling to risk their valuables and, in some cases, their personal security,” wrote Ioannis Michaletos, in a report for, a site that provides research on Greece. “Athens has become arguably the worst city in the European Union (especially within the euro-zone countries) in terms of personal safety.”

Thanasis Kokkalakis, a spokesman for the Hellenic Police, the Greek national police force, said the increase of illegal immigrants from Europe, Africa and Asia is contributing to the increase in crime. “We realize that there is an increase in street crime or the so-called ‘crimes of emergency,’ committed mostly by aliens,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Cameron Doubts About the Future of the Eurozone

(AGI) London — British prime minister, David Cameron, said the current eurozone crisis raises doubts about its future. In an interview with BBC Radio 2 Cameron commented: “It is a very difficult time for the euro area. There is great market turmoil and the real question is whether the euro area countries will solve the problems.” “It is my responsibility to try to find a solution to these problems,” he added.

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

Danish Inflation Rising

2011 prices are rising higher than wages.

The new Danish Fat Tax bumped up inflation in October according to the latest figures from Statistics Denmark. According to the figures, inflation — which fell from 3.1 per cent in May to 2.5 per cent in September bumped up to 2.8 per cent in October compared to the same month last year. “As we feared, we are immediately seeing the effects of the new fat duty. Underlying price increases on foodstuffs are already dragging inflation upwards, so the new duty is just making bad things worse,” says Dansk Erhverv Economist Mira Lie Nilesen.

Inflation has averaged around 2.8 per cent for the first 10 months of the year, but in the same period wages have only risen by about 2 per cent. “This means that prices in the shops are rising quicker than wages, so the average Danish family will unfortunately find that its income doesn’t stretch as far as it did,” says Nykredit Senior Economist Tore Stramer, who adds that real wages will fall by some 0.8 per cent in 2011.

“It is unusual for real wages to fall so much. We have to go all the way back to the beginning of the 1980s to find a similar drop in real wages,” he says, adding: “Despite the drop in interest rates it is clear that the relatively high inflation puts the brakes on private consumption”. Nordea bank has calculated that the new Fat Tax will cost households DKK 450 (EUR 60: USD 82.50) per year extra on an annual food budget of DKK 32,000 (EUR 4,000: USD 5,490).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Debt Crisis: Wave of Panic in France

Le Monde, 11 November 2011

“After Greece and Italy — France?” wonders the front page of Le Monde in the wake of a wave of panic that has swept across the markets worried about the quality of French sovereign debt. On Thursday 10 November, the yield spread between French and German ten-year bonds reached a record high of 170 basis points.

The divergence reflects different perceptions on the part of investors in the two countries, both of which have an AAA rating. For Libération it has been prompted by “the mass exit of banks from the sovereign debt market,” with European investors systematically getting rid of the sovereign bonds of Eurozone countries, which are deemed to be “risky”:

The cry of every man for himself was launched by the German banks at the end of July, when Deutsche Bank offloaded 8 billion of Italian debt, triggering the penninsula’s descent into hell […] Day by day, the panic is spreading, with everyone eager to get rid of vulnerable assets. […] Worse still the mistrust of the Eurozone is mainly being fed by European market players — banks, insurance companies and pension funds — and not by external institutions.

Market nervouness about French debt was reinforced by a major blunder on the part of ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, which, on 10 November mistakenly sent out a “message” to some of its subscribers, which announced an imminent French downgrade. The story has been denied by S&P, reports Le Monde, which recalls that in mid-October Moody’s became the first ratings agency “to take a stab at France’s AAA rating with the announcement that, over the next three months, it would determine if the stable outlook for the rating was still justified.”

Finally on 10 November, the European Commission, in the person of Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, responded to the announcement of a second austerity package unveiled on Monday by Prime Minister François Fillon with a request that Paris take “additional measures to correct its excessive spending deficit” in 2013. “Brussels estimates that France’s deficit will improve slightly to stand at around 5% of GDP in two years time, a result that is far from the 3% figure which France promised the Commission it would deliver”, notes Libération.

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

‘Don’t Laugh’, We Still Aim to Join Euro: Romanian President

Joking to journalists to please not laugh, President Traian Basescu reiterated after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday that Romania aimed to join the eurozone in 2015. “We want to join the eurozone in 2015,” he told a joint press conference with the German leader in Berlin, adding as an aside “please don’t laugh”, as the eurozone grapples with the domino effect of its crippling debt crisis.

“We do not believe in a fragmented Europe,” he said, adding: “Romania supports the process of integration.” In order to join the currently 17-strong bloc of countries using the single currency, a candidate nation must meet five criteria, including a budget deficit under 3.0 percent and a low inflation rate.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

ECB Man to Rule Greece for 15 Weeks

Lucas Papademos, a former vice-president of the European Central Bank (ECB), is to be sworn in as prime minister of Greece for a 15-week period in which he will pass laws on an EU bail-out package. Following four days of back-room horsetrading between Pasok, the socialist party of George Papandreou, and Antonis Samaris, the head of the centre-right New Democracy party, it was agreed on Thursday (10 November) that Papademos would take over the premiership.

Greece requires “unity, understanding and wisdom,” he told reporters in his first statement as acting head of government. “The Greek economy is facing huge problems despite the enormous efforts made … The course will not be easy,” he went on. “It is a great honour. But the responsibility is greater.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Eurozone Crisis Fund Ready to Help Italy

The eurozone’s crisis fund is ready to help Italy if requested, but this week’s market volatility is an obstacle to increasing its firepower, the German head of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) said on Friday. In an interview published in several European newspapers, EFSF chief Klaus Regling said preparations had been made to help Italy if the current turmoil continued. “If a country comes and says it needs help immediately, we’re ready,” Regling was quoted in the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung as saying.

Nevertheless, time was “running out” for Italy, the EFSF chief said. “The country needs a functioning government as soon as possible.” The sharp volatility seen on the markets was making it difficult to raise the firepower of the €440-billion ($598 billion) rescue fund to the €1 trillion that the bloc’s leaders had hoped for, the Wall Street Journal and theFinancial Times quoted Regling as saying.

Investors have fled from bonds issued by highly indebted countries, he told the FT. Luring them back by offering insurance on losses — the centrepiece of a plan agreed in Brussels on October 26 — would now probably use up more of the funds resources, Regling said, according to the FT article.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France Angry at Credit Rating Gaffe

The French finance minister has reacted angrily to a credit-rating gaffe by Standard and Poor’s. The agency accidently sent out an email suggesting that France had lost its triple-A rating. Many are asking how the firm could have made such an embarrassing slip-up at a time when markets are especially jittery.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Unemployment Reaches Peak of 18.4% in August

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Greece’s unemployment rate soared to a an all-time high of 18.4% in August, up more than six percentage points compared with the same month in 2010, AMNA news agency reports citing official figures published on Thursday. A report by Hellenic Statistical Authority (Elstat) said that the number of unemployed people was rapidly moving towards the one million mark, after rising around 295,000 in a year. The financially non-active population in the country surpassed that of employed people by around 400,000, while unemployment among young people totalled 43.5%. The statistics service said the unemployment rate in August totalled 18.4% of the workforce, up from 12.2% in August 2010 and 16.5% in July. The number of unemployed people rose by 294,845 in August, up 48.1% from August 2010 and up 10.7% from July this year. According to the latest data by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical office, Greece’s jobless rate is second only to Spain. At 22.6%, Spain had the highest unemployment rate in the EU, while Austria and the Netherlands had the lowest rates, with 3.9% and 4.5%, respectively. About 16.2 million people — roughly the population of the Netherlands — were unemployed in September in the euro area, up 188,000 from the previous month.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

How Brazil Can Benefit From Helping Europe

A financial contribution by Brazil to help the EU combat its debt crisis would be small, but provide an opportunity to improve ties with Europe and play a bigger international role. The European Union is getting closer to asking emerging economies, like China and Brazil, for help to combat the eurozone debt crisis. In Brazil’s case, any financial contribution would be relatively small, but it would give the South American country the chance to improve relations with the EU, while raising its profile on the international stage.

Earlier this week, the Brazilian finance minister, Guido Mantega, confirmed that his country was interested in providing financial assistance to Europe. Mantega denied reports in the Brazilian media, however, that his government had already made an offer of 10 billion euros ($13.8 billion) to the International Monetary Fund. “We have made no such proposals to date, but that does not mean that we will not put concrete figures on the table in the short or medium term,” Mantega said after the G20 summit in Cannes last week.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italian Senate Approves Stability Law — One Chamber Left

(AGI) Rome- Italy’s Senate has approved the Stability law, formerly known as the austerity package. The law was approved with 156 votes in favor, 12 against and 1 abstention. The PD and Terzo Polo parties did not take part in the vote, and the IDV party voted “nay”. The legislation in question will now be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies for approval; it is expected to be approved by the chamber tomorrow following a quick review.

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

Italy: Students Occupy Temp Agency in Palermo

(AGI) Palermo — Around 50 students of the OccupyUniPA movement have staged an occupation of a temp agency in Palermo. The protesters erected a symbolic wall at the temporary employment agency to protest against “the insecurity of everyday life and the impossibility of building a future in an economic crisis like the present one now almost at the default limit.” .

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

Italy: Tension at Milan Students March With Eggs Hurled at Police

(AGI) Milan — Tension rose at times in Milan at the ‘Occupy the world’ student’s march, with eggs and tomatoes thrown at police. The protesters first formed a flashmob at the headquarters of Unicredit in Piazza Cordusio, where some sat down in the lobby of the bank, opened books and held a study group. Then the protest moved to the EU office, symbolically occupied for a few minutes, where marchers distributed leaflets against the ‘Europe of bankers and businessmen’. When the march arrived at Via Olona, eggs and tomatoes were thrown at police in riot gear who were ‘escorting’ the protesters.

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

Italy: Austerity Package Moves From Senate to House

Italy gathers momentum against debt crisis

(ANSA) — Rome, November 11 — An austerity package paving the way for Premier Silvio Berlusconi to hand over the reins of command passed from the Senate to the House Friday as Italy gathered momentum in addressing its debt crisis.

The package, which contains EU-mandated moves on pensions, liberalisation, administrative cost-cutting and slashing red tape, was passed by 158 votes with 11 nays.

Berlusconi will decide later Friday whether to throw the weight of his People of Freedom (PdL) party, which holds a Senate majority, behind touted premier-in-waiting Mario Monti, the former European Union commissioner for competitiveness.

Money markets are said to be keenly awaiting the appointment of Monti, who could get a mandate from President Giorgio Napolitano to start pulling Italy back from the brink of default as early as Sunday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Living in the Eye of the Financial Storm

Compared with the debts of other European countries, Switzerland’s is unspectacular — but Bern hasn’t escaped the euro debt mess unscathed. The 21st Europe Forum, held in Lucerne this week, chose “ways out of the debt crisis” as this year’s theme. Taking place a few days after the G20 summit in Cannes, it couldn’t have been more topical.

Harold James, an economic historian at Princeton, pointed out that from the Spanish and French kings of the 17th and 18th centuries to the German Kaisers and Hitler, the list of European nations that have overextended their debt is much longer than our memories. “The European problem is also connected to the fact that in the 1980s Europe wanted to imitate the United States: a financial superpower with a super currency, the dollar,” James said.

“But people forgot that the US is a genuine federation, unlike the European Union, whose monetary union was constructed without the corresponding economic responsibilities concerning budgets and taxes.”

He added that one of the main motives for the EU periphery — those over-indebted countries in southern Europe — to join the euro zone was the prospect of interest rates lower than those for lire, francs or pesetas.

“As a result it was easier to take on yet more debt,” he said. The convergence of currencies and interest rates, which had actually been considered a positive thing, transformed into the opposite.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Parliament Approves Portugal Austerity Budget

Portuguese lawmakers gave preliminary approval Friday to the government’s 2012 austerity budget aimed at putting the country’s finances in order despite widespread discontent at some of the measures. The approval, on a first reading, comes just as the Italian parliament votes on economic reforms demanded by the European Union in its fight against debt contagion, and as Greece makes progress on a new government to enact deep budget changes.

Prime Minister Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s centre-right government, elected in June, has a comfortable majority in parliament with 132 of the 230 seats. The Socialists, who lost power in the polls, abstained in the vote while the extreme left, which counts 24 seats, voted against. The budget is scheduled for a final vote on November 30.

Portugal was bailed out in May to the tune of 78 billion euros ($107 billion) by the European Union and International Monetary Fund and the government has pledged to raise taxes and cut spending, an unpopular mix which has hit growth hard. The 2012 budget, described by Passos Coelho earlier in the week as “very tough,” will scrap annual bonus payments worth two months salary for civil servants and for pensioners with income above 1,000 euros per month.

The working day will be increased by 30 minutes in the private sector, while health and education spending will be slashed, topping off a series of measures already adopted in efforts to reduce the deficit. Prime Minister Passos Coelho concedes that the measures are even tougher than those required under the EU-IMF bailout terms but says they are necessary to ensure its targets are met in the face of difficult economic conditions.

The government estimates that the budget will see the economy shrink 2.8 percent in 2012 while the EU puts the downturn at 3.0 percent, for the worst performance in the bloc. Portugal followed Greece and Ireland in needing a bailout and EU, IMF and European Central Bank officials are currently in Lisbon to review progress under the bailout deal and decide whether to clear the next 8-billion-euro loan installment.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Romania Wants to Join the Eurozone — Despite Crisis

Romanian President Traian Basescu has affirmed his country aims to join the eurozone by 2015. A strict austerity program should pave the way. Romania, currently Europe’s poorest country according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), plans to join the eurozone. That, at least, is the wish of the country’s elite.

“Ordinary people don’t really care whether or not Romania introduces the euro — they have other concerns,” said Peter Janku from the Romanian editorial team at Deutsche Welle. The euro, he added, is a pet project of the country’s elite “who already have plenty of money and are looking for new opportunities to do more business.”

Adopting the common European currency has also become a priority for some Romanian politicians. President Traian Basescu, a member of the right-of-center PDL party, has repeatedly underscored his commitment to the euro. The move, he said in an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, would be “a huge benefit for everyone.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK Treasury Prepares for ‘Economic Armageddon’ If Euro Falls Apart

Bank of England helps draw up British contingency plans after European commission slashes growth forecasts

The Treasury and Bank of England are making contingency plans for an “economic Armageddon” if the euro falls apart, business secretary Vince Cable said on Thursday as the European commission slashed its growth forecasts and predicted that the continent could be plunged back into recession next year.

With David Cameron warning that the moment of truth was approaching for the eurozone, ministers are resigned to a severe downgrade of UK growth and public finances when the Office for Budget Responsibility reports this month. Brussels officials said the outlook for the UK economy had deteriorated significantly throughout 2011 and its recovery was lagging rivals’.

The commission now expects the UK economy to expand just 0.7% this year, compared with a forecast of 1.7% in May. Growth for next year is forecast to be just 0.6%, a huge drop on the OBR spring forecast of 2.5 %. An increasingly impatient Cameron again urged the Germans to allow the European Central Bank (ECB) to “act now” and become lender of the last resort to save distressed euro-economies, seen by Britain as the only way to keep the euro from collapse and prevent a wider banking liquidity crisis.

His call came as fears rose that France could be next to be engulfed by the crisis. Brussels downgraded its forecasts for the eurozone’s second biggest economy, prompting a sharp rise in benchmark bond yields in France to 3.48% — almost double what Germany pays to borrow money.

Pressure on Italy, where bond yields this week breached the 7% danger level, eased after it appeared that former EU commissioner Mario Monti would be installed as prime minister by the weekend, while in Greece his fellow technocrat Lucas Papademos emerged as the leader of the country’s new coalition government after four days of talks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

What Comes Next for Troubled Italy?

Italy appears to be moving toward political stability with reports that respected banker Mario Monti may become the country’s next prime minister. But can he succeed in reversing years of political stagnation? If he doesn’t, Rome’s problems could spell the end of the European currency union.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Yet Another Catholic Country Needs a Bailout From the Protestant North …

Greece, Ireland, Portugal — and now it’s Italy that will almost certainly need a bailout, a situation so worrying that it even knocked Justin Bieber out of the top ten Twitter trends (although I’m sure he’ll be back soon). The costs involved are so absurd that Dr Evil couldn’t do it justice. And it probably won’t end there — like a panicky swarm of locusts the markets now have Spain in their sights; the Spanish state’s cost of borrowing is already 5.7 per cent, too close to the 7 per cent mark, compared to France’s uncomfortably high 3.179 and Germany’s 1.46. And what’s curious is that, just as the EU was always supposed to suppress national identity and national characteristics, it only accentuates them.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


US Terror Charges for Man Held in Germany

A man held in German custody could be jailed for life if convicted by an American court on charges that he conspired to provide Al-Qaida with explosives and training, prosecutors in the United States said on Thursday. The US Attorney’s office in Brooklyn said that a federal grand jury had indicted Abdeladim El-Kebir, also known as “Abi al-Barra,” with “conspiring to provide material support, including personnel, training, lethal substances and explosives, to al-Qaida.”

“El-Kebir is also charged with conspiring to possess weapons, including a destructive device,” the prosecutors’ office said in a statement. Details of the charges against El-Kebir, who was arrested in Düsseldorf this April, were not revealed. The Moroccan-born man was arrested with two others suspected of being al-Qaida members. The German Federal Prosecutor said at the time the group was experimenting with building a shrapnel bomb, with plans to detonate in a large crowd. The American government is expected to request his extradition for trial.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

“It’s as if Flemings Are Not Belgians!”

Patrick Dewael, the Flemish liberal floor leader in the Chamber of Representatives, has said that his Open VLD party should also be represented in the Flemish Government. Mr Dewael’s liberals are among the six parties currently involved in the talks on the formation of a new Federal Government, but in the Flemish Parliament they sit on the opposition benches.

The Limburg politician insists that this is the only way in which root-and-branch reform can be introduced and Belgium’s public finances can be made sound. Mr Dewael says that Belgium’s current form of federalism more closely resembles a fight. “As things stand, we won’t succeed. The Flemish Government prefers to spend the cash itself than to make an extra effort to make Belgium’s public finances sound. It’s as if Flemings are not Belgians!”

“This is why I’m calling for the parties that form the Federal Government also to be represented in the regional governments. We can only press through all these reforms and make our public finances sound if all noses are pointing in the same direction.” “There is room for us. There are nine Flemish ministers. By law this can rise to eleven. It’s completely justified.” Mr Dewael did not mention the fact that the Flemish nationalist N-VA that is a Flemish Government party is no longer involved in the federal talks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

170 Members of English Defence League Arrested Near Cenotaph in London

More than 170 members of the right-wing English Defence League (EDL) have been arrested near an Armistice Day ceremony in central London amid fears they were trying to target anti-capitalists camped in the city.

Scotland Yard said the group were detained “to prevent a breach of the peace” at a pub near the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

A police source said it was believed the group were heading towards the anti-capitalist “Occupy” protest camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral, set up last month after being inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

“170+ supporters of EDL were arrested this p.m. to prevent a breach of the peace,” the Met Police said on its Twitter website. “No reported disorder between opposing groups at this stage.”

Last year, members of the EDL, which stages protests against violent Islamism, clashed with police during a fracas at a Remembrance Day ceremony.

The trouble erupted then when members of the radical Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) group burned two large poppies outside the Royal Albert Hall in London during a two-minute silence.

EDL founder Stephen Lennon was arrested during the disturbances.

On its website, the EDL said its members had been planning to meet in Westminster. “This is about the memories of the fallen past and present, and anyone who acts otherwise will only be helping MAC in disrupting the day,” it said.

Earlier, counter-terrorism officers said they had carried out a raid on three premises linked to the MAC, which had planned another demonstration to disrupt Armistice Day ceremonies.

Properties connected to MAC and its leading figure Anjem Choudary, were raided late on Thursday night following the decision by Home Secretary Theresa May to ban the group and make supporting it a criminal offence.

“At 11 p.m. last night, officers from the Counter Terrorism Command executed three search warrants under the Terrorism Act 2000 at addresses in east London,” a London police spokesman said on Friday. There were no arrests, he added.

Choudary said his house and a community centre where the group used to teach in Whitechapel were two of the targets.

“It’s a fishing expedition at the end of the day — they’ve got nothing on me. I haven’t done anything illegal,” he told Reuters. “Obviously it’s inconvenient, but that doesn’t stop me propagating what I believe.”

The group had promised a “hell for heroes” demonstration at the Albert Hall again on Friday. However, on its website the MAC said it had disbanded, and Choudary said the planned protest over Britain’s foreign policy would now not go ahead.

“I think that the objective has been achieved which is to show that the poppy and Armistice Day is a fig leaf which has been used to cover the crimes which have been committed,” he said.

“Our message has gone viral and global really because of the pronouncement of Theresa May so I don’t see there’s any point (in holding the protest).”

May said MAC was the latest incarnation of organisations also linked to Choudary which had been banned, including al Muhajiroun, Islam4UK and Al Ghurabaa. Choudary said he would discuss options for a new group with colleagues.

           — Hat tip: SB[Return to headlines]

Aurora Furore: Who Owns the Northern Lights?

The Norwegian tourist board is unhappy about an attempt by its counterpart in Finland to market the country using a video of the northern lights. The Norwegians claim the Finns are trying to “steal” the celestial phenomenon from them.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Belgium Demands Return of Rubens Nabbed by French Revolution

Belgium on Wednesday demanded the return of an oil painting by Flemish master Pierre Paul Rubens nabbed more than 200 years ago during the French Revolution and currently in the hands of a French museum.

French-speaking parliamentarians adopted a resolution urging their government “to undertake all useful steps to negotiate with France the restitution to the Tournai cathedral of Rubens’ work ‘The Triumph of Judas Maccabeus’“.

The oil on canvas was created in 1635 for the bishop of Tournai, a town in western Belgium, and paid for with funds raised by local residents.

Along with another Rubens work it was seized and sent to France in 1794 by French troops occupying what is now Belgium.

Napoleon Bonaparte sent it to the western city of Nantes in 1801 and it is still held by the municipal museum there.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Biker and Immigrant Gangs Do Battle

Some 60 people from one gang did battle with 40 others from the Hells Angel support group AK81 outside Glostrup Court this morning on the second day of a court case against a biker in connection with the murder of 19-year-old Osman Nuri Dogan on Aug. 14, 2008. An eyewitness tells DR News that several people were arrested and police were forced to use pepper spray and call in extra officers from the anti-riot group before the situation was under control. Some 50 people of the Tingbjerg gang were being held, according to “It happened when the police held back the entire Tingbjerg group and confiscated some teargas from them. At one point Hells Angels and AK81 sneaked around the building to ambush them,”’s photographer at the scene said. AK81 members then began throwing bottles at the Tingbjerg group, which replied by lobbing road and paving material.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Strauss-Kahn Asks Prostitution Inquiry to Question Him

(AGI) Paris — Dominique Strauss-Kahn asked to be questioned again about involvement in an investigation into a prostitution ring. The former IMF chief complained of being the victim of a “media lynching.” Strauss-Kahn has denied having taken part in orgies organised in Washington and Lille. French newspapers yesterday published a series of text messages sent by the former banker from June 2009 to Fabrice Paszkowski, accused in the same investigation.

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

Italian’s Resignation From Central Bank Board Opens Spot for France

Rome, 11 Nov. (AKI/Bloomberg) — Lorenzo Bini Smaghi resigned from the European Central Bank’s Executive Board, clearing the way for France to regain a seat after the retirement last month of President Jean-Claude Trichet.

Bini Smaghi, whose term officially ends in May 2013, will join Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs on Jan. 1, 2012, the Frankfurt-based ECB said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. ECB President Mario Draghi thanked Bini Smaghi for his “contributions in the field of European and international monetary and economic affairs over many years.”

Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had stepped up pressure on Bini Smaghi to quit in recent weeks in a bid to defuse a row with French President Nicolas Sarkozy over the Italian’s seat on the central bank’s six-member Executive Board. Sarkozy had backed Mario Draghi’s candidacy to head the central bank on the condition that Berlusconi get Bini Smaghi to step aside to make way for a French candidate and avoid leaving the board with two Italians when Trichet, a Frenchman, finished his term at the end of October.

Berlusconi angered France last month when he failed to name Bini Smaghi to replace Draghi as head of the Bank of Italy, which would have resolved the impasse over the ECB board. After saying that Bini Smaghi was a candidate on Oct. 18, Berlusconi appointed Ignazio Visco, the bank’s deputy director general, to run the Italian central bank. Bini Smaghi had initially refused to resign before his term ended in 2013.


“It’s not a good time for musical chairs at the ECB,” said Thomas Costerg, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in London. “Politics are already intricate in several euro-area peripheral countries, and the ECB is amongst the last anchors of stability.”

Bini Smaghi is the fourth executive board member to leave this year. Austrian Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell stepped down in May after completing her six-year term, while President Jean-Claude Trichet retired at the end of October. Juergen Stark, from Germany, quit in September in protest at the central bank’s government bond purchases.

At a summit of European Union leaders on Oct. 27, Sarkozy called on Italy to honor its commitment to secure Bini Smaghi’s departure. Berlusconi said on Oct. 24 that he didn’t want the issue to be a “casus belli” with France, but said he was powerless to remove Bini Smaghi. “What can I do, kill him,” Berlusconi said in Brussels.

Financial Crisis

Bini Smaghi leaves the post at the Frankfurt-based institute, where he oversees international relations, legal services and the bank’s new premises project, as Europe’s sovereign debt crisis engulfs Italy, moving to the core of the 17-nation currency bloc and threatening to infect the banking sector.

Bini Smaghi, a Florence native with a doctorate from the University of Chicago, began his career as an economist at the Bank of Italy’s research department. Earlier in his career, Bini Smaghi fell under the tutelage of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who as Bank of Italy governor between 1979 and 1993 argued in favor of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty that mapped out conditions and timing for European monetary union.

Bini Smaghi, whose family produces its own wine and olive oil on an estate outside Florence, rose through the ranks and between 1988 and 1994 headed the exchange rate and international trade division when Italy risked being kept out of joining the single currency.

ECB Career

Ciampi left in 1994, when he became interim prime minister and later finance minister in Romano Prodi’s 1996 government, battling to tame the debt and restore fiscal discipline. That same year Bini Smaghi joined the ECB’s monitoring department, where he was responsible for foreign-exchange policy and reserve management.

In 1998, Ciampi recalled his protege to the finance ministry where he named him director general for international affairs. Bini Smaghi joined the ECB’s Executive Board in 2005 for an eight-year term. He’s also chairman of the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation, which is currently organizing an exhibition in Florence called “Money and Beauty. Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities.”

Bini Smaghi is married and has two children. He studied economics at the University of Louvain in Belgium before obtaining a masters degree at the University of Southern California and a doctorate at the University of Chicago.

“Throughout his mandate, including in taking his decision, Mr. Bini Smaghi has upheld the independence of the ECB,” the central bank said in a statement. “Mr. Draghi expresses his gratitude for Mr. Bini Smaghi’s outstanding contribution to the work of the ECB and his dedication as a member of the Executive Board and Governing Council for more than six years.”

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

Italy: Telecom Italia’s Net Profit Leaps 32.7% in 3rd Qtr

Domestic writedowns will not hurt dividends, CEO says

(ANSA) — Milan, November 11 — Telecom Italia on Friday reported a record 32.7% leap in third quarter profits thanks to an improved domestic trend and a jump in revenue from its South America subsidiaries, all of which has allowed Italy’s biggest phone company to confirm its targets for 2011.

Net profit in the third quarter amounted to 807 million euros, while revenue in the third quarter climbed to 7.5 billion euros, a 3.7% gain over the previous three-month period, and trading profit for the first nine months of the year rose to 9.175 billion euros, an increase of 8.3% over the same period last year.

Because of domestic writedowns the company was in the red for 1.2 billion euros for the first nine months of the year whereas without these it would have seen a 8.6% jump in net profits of some two million euros.

CEO Franco Bernabe’ said the writedowns will not influence dividends and that improved domestic revenue and strong gains in Latin America will permit Telecom Italia “to sharply reduce its net debt”.

The group’s debt at the end of September declined to 29.948 billion euros, from 31.1 billion euros at the end of June, and Telecom Italia has confirmed its target of bringing this down to 29.5 billion euros by the end of the year.

Revenue for the first nine months of the year rose 10.9% to 22.059 billion euros although domestic income slipped by 6.2% in the third quarter, hurt by a 9.2% drop in wireless revenue, an improvement over the 7% drop at the end of the second quarter. Giving Telecom Italia a major boost this year has been the consolidation of subsidiary Telecom Argentina SA and the acquisition of AES Atimus Group by its Brazilian arm Tim Participacoes SA, which is now the country’s second-biggest wireless operator and in the third quarter was able to double its profit.

Telecom Italia remains on the look-out for other acquisition opportunities, although “what we have done so far this year is already sufficient and there does not seem to be much around,” Bernabe’ said.

Telecom Italia’s third-quarter report pushed the company’s shares up by some 4% on the Milan stock market.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Pompeii is Crumbling-Can it be Saved?

Collapses highlight “critical” situation, but site is “absolutely safe for tourists.”

Last month, part of a major wall came tumbling down in Pompeii, the ancient Roman city frozen in time by a first-century eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It was only the latest in a spate of collapses at the site, which experts say is in critical condition. Though the site is said to be safe for tourists, the disintegration is alarming enough to have spurred the European Union to pledge 105 million euros (145 million dollars) for preservation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Nearly 200 Suspected English Defence League Supporters Arrested Near the Cenotaph After Remembrance Service

The group, numbering ‘170+’ according to the police, was held outside the Red Lion pub in Westminster to ‘prevent a breach of the peace’, Scotland Yard said.

They are believed to have been planning to target the Occupy London protest camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

The arrests came around two hours after wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph — just yards from the Red Lion — to commemorate fallen servicemen.

Millions of Britons around the country held a two-minute silence to remember the nation’s war dead.

The Metropolitan Police said: ‘A group of members of the EDL have been arrested in Central London to prevent a breach of the peace which was likely to occur elsewhere in London.’

The Guardian reported that those arrested were thought to be aiming for the St Paul’s camp.

Scotland Yard refused to commment on these reports.

The arrests came after a series of police tweets, warning: ‘Individuals seeking to disrupt the 2 minute silence will be dealt with robustly.’

Following the arrests, the EDL warned police that they would retaliate against the operation.

A post on the organisation’s Facebook page read: ‘we are hitting london in force in the new year… thats not a threat thats a promise’ [sic].

Trouble flared on Armistice Day last year when the far-right group clashed with Islamic protesters after members of Muslims Against Crusades burned poppies outside the Royal Albert Hall.

EDL founder Stephen Lennon was later charged with assaulting a police officer and five others associated with the group were arrested.

           — Hat tip: SB[Return to headlines]

Netherlands Celebrates Day of Dialogue

Twenty-five cities across the Netherlands celebrated the tenth annual Day of Dialogue today. The event brought citizens together with representatives from banks, shops, community centres, libraries, schools and other organisations to discuss social issues openly. The day is also seen as an opportunity to discuss cultural differences and prejudices, with various religious and rights groups also holding talks.

Mayor Eberhard van der Laan launched the initiative in Amsterdam with the theme Young and Old. At various locations throughout the capital, residents addressed how people young and old can better live and work together.

Dialogue week The Day of Dialogue comes during National Dialogue Week which runs from 1 to 13 November. The concept was launched ten years ago in Rotterdam by the organisation Netherlands in Dialogue. The movement has grown internationally with similar initiatives being held in Berlin and Belgium. According to director Olga Plokhooij, Netherlands in Dialogue promotes social renewal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Press Release: Police Raid Anjem Choudary Following MAC Ban

Following the ban on Muslims Against Crusades, the dissolved organization that championed the condemnation of western occupation and repression of Muslims lands across the world, British Police have raided two properties, a residential property and a second property in London, called the Centre for Islamic Services at 32B New Road, London E1 2AX. Anjem Choudary was present at the time of these raids. As of 1am, the police are still present in both properties, though no arrests have been made.

This violation is only another sign of the ideological defeat of the British government. The unrelenting British campaign to suppress and silence any dissenting Muslim voice under the pretense of a ‘war on terror’ has seen thousands of Muslim victims in the UK and hundreds of thousands in the Muslim world.

Failing to respond intellectually to the criticisms of Muslims worldwide, UK authorities have long used draconian legislation to remove the basic rights of its citizens and in particular, those of the Muslim faith. These laws have now become a tool to silence any criticism from the Muslim community as is evidently clear in these recent raids.

The call of Anjem Choudary has been clear for many years, that there is none worthy to be worshipped, followed or obeyed beside Allah and that Islam is a superior way of life and its guidance, solutions and laws are the only answer to the problems of society. His outspoken criticism of the western hegemony in the Muslim world, including the occupation of Muslim countries, support for Israel and dictatorships around the world has exposed the flaws in western values and ideology. His call for the Shari’ah — the law and values of Allah to replace the man-made laws has highlighted the faults and deficiency of western ideals and culture.

Despite the fact that he has consistently made his call through speeches, peaceful protest, debate and discussion, making it clear that he believes in a covenant of security that prevents Muslims from attacking or stealing from those they are living among and has not broken any law in the UK, it seems that the UK government will use any means, including terror legislation, to silence views it finds unpalatable, exposing it as a tyrannical dictatorship not unlike those it claims to condemn.

[I think that the “Centre for Islamic Services” might be the workplace of this benefit-claiming scumbag. — Bewick]

           — Hat tip: Bewick[Return to headlines]

Spain: the Solution to the Catalan Problem?

A possible pact involving fiscal controls and use of the Spanish language in schools might just soothe tensions between Madrid and Barcelona. Catalan separatism has two anchor points, the traditional one is of a cultural nature with the Catalan language at its core, the other one, of more recent creation and which has built up a new group of pragmatic followers making inroads even among Spanish speakers, is based on money: the fiscal deficit of Catalonia with the central state has over the past year or so evolved into the main argument for secession.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Care Home Staff Weigh Diapers to Save Money

Employees at the scandal-stricken care provider Carema’s nursing homes in Sweden are instructed to weigh old age pensioners’ diapers to assess if they are full or could be used longer, according to staff. “We’re not allowed to change the diaper until it has reached its full capacity. The aim is clearly to keep consumption down and save money,” an anonymous member of staff told daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

The result is that the old people are left with wet diapers for hours before they are changed, staff claims. Sources have described to DN how staff is also instructed to weigh the diapers regularly to ascertain how many hours the patient can wear it before it starts leaking.

This way, staff can work out which brand to use in order to have to change the diapers as seldom as possible and avoid “unnecessary” changing. However, according to the company’s head of information, Elisabeth Frostell, the project was launched in order to try out what incontinence pad was best for each individual patient.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Örebro Hit by New Sex Attack Wave

The Swedish town of Örebro, recently rocked by the hunt and capture of a serial rapist, is reeling from what seems to be a new wave of attacks on young girls in the area. On three occasions over the course of a month, young girls have been targeted by men, working alone or in a group of up to three. Attempts have been made to lure the girls into a car and in two of the incidents the girls have been chased.

“We are dealing with three such cases at the moment,” Jorma Harjamäki of the county police told the local Nerikes Allehanda (NA) daily. The first report came in at the end of September and the latest approximately a month after. All of reports describe one to three perpetrators, all adult men and operating from a car. Harjamäki couldn’t say for sure if the three incidents are related. “But we have confirmed the same car involved on at least two occasions,” he said to the paper. The girls targeted have all been between the age of 10 and 13.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Anti-Semitic Crimes on the Rise in Malmö

Jews in Malmö in southern Sweden have been the victims of an increased number of hate-crimes in 2011, according to local police. During the first six months of the year there has been the same number of anti-Semitic crimes reported as were reported for the whole of 2010.

“The increase in reported crime could be due to the police investing in more resources to solve these kinds of crimes, or that the tendency to report is higher now because there are more incidents of an anti-Semitic nature”, Susanne Gosenius, a hate-crimes coordinator with the Malmö police told the TT news agency. She added, however, that there may very well be a large number of crimes that are never reported to the police.

In many respects, Malmö seems to be a bit different from the rest of the country in terms of hate-crimes against Jews, Gosenius explained. At the same time, however, the number of reported Islamophobic crimes has decreased compared to the first six months of 2010. Fredrik Sieradzki, spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Malmö, said that the crimes are often attacks on people either arriving or leaving the synagogue.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: The Zodiac Pig

Police have recovered the dead body of a pig and four pigs’ heads that were buried in the grounds of a future mosque in the Swiss town of Grenchen. An anonymous letter was sent to journalists, describing what had been done. The journalists then notified the police.

The letter also claimed that 120 litres of pigs’ blood had been poured on the mosque land. Police confiscated the letters so they could look for fingerprints.

Cleverly, the text of the letter also taunted the Muslims, claiming their reaction to the incident would be proof of how true their faith was:

It will show how firmly rooted the members of the AIG (albanisch-islamische Glaubensgemeindschaft) [Albanian-Islamic Faith Community] are in their beliefs … because whoever builds a mosque on desecrated ground cannot be truly serious about their own beliefs.”

A spokesman for the Mohammedan community said he wasn’t sure whether the incident would affect the construction plans. “That has to be decided by our scholars, who are more familiar with the Islamic laws,” he said..

The proposed building of the mosque has created a lot of bitterness in the local area. Legal action took place to try and stop it, initiated by the previous owner of the land — a Swiss People’s Party politician — who said the land was bought under false pretences, with the claim that it would be used for building a parking garage. He said he would never have sold the land if he had known it would be used for a mosque.

           — Hat tip: Van Grungy[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Undercover Police Dwarves Stole My DNA at Bus Stop’

A London police force is being sued over claims that it used two undercover dwarfs to carry out an anti-terror search. A Russian doctor is claiming £55,000 saying City of London Police officers also sexually assaulted him and took his DNA to carry out “covert biological experiments”. Dr Alexander Sobko, of South Kensington, claims the “smiling” dwarfs approached him at a bus stop and searched him under the Terrorism Act. The case will be considered by a High Court judge and the City force has engaged lawyers at taxpayers’ expense to defend the action. A City police spokesman said: “We have instructed lawyers to contest the allegations.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Disabled Benefit? Just Fill in a Form: 200,000 Got Handouts Last Year Without Face-to-Face Interview

Almost 200,000 people were granted a disability benefit last year without ever having a face-to-face assessment.

A staggering 94 per cent of new claimants for Disability Living Allowance started receiving their payments after only filling out paperwork.

Official figures released last night revealed that 16 per cent of new claimants received the benefit — worth £70 a week — after merely filling out a claim form.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Just a Few Hotheads, Mr Willetts?

Extreme Islamist, Israeli antisemite and US anti-Zionist all on campus this week.

A wave of hate speakers spread across British campuses this week, just days after Universities Minister David Willetts advised people to pay little attention to a “small number of hot-heads”, claiming the number of campus extremists was declining. In London, the leader of the British branch of extreme Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir spoke at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Abdul Wahid appeared on a panel last Friday discussing the future of the Middle East at an event hosted by a student union society, held in a SOAS lecture theatre. A SOAS spokeswoman said the debate had been organised by a society and not by the school itself, and added: “We understand that none of the speakers belong to any organisations proscribed by the British government.” Prime Minister David Cameron, and predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, repeatedly stated their intention to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir, but such action has not yet been taken.

Mr Wahid’s appearance last week was the first of a number of appearances by extremist speakers. Norman Finkelstein, the controversial American-Jewish anti-Israel academic, was in five campuses this week on a speaking tour. In Exeter, Israeli-born antisemite Gilad Atzmon spoke to a pro-Palestinian society after the university’s Student Guild rejected calls to ban him from the campus. BNP leader Nick Griffin has been invited to speak at Nottingham University’s debating society on November 24. He is due to take part in a discussion on the death penalty. Last Thursday Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made an unexpectedly strong attack on the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (Fosis) and its “failure to challenge sufficiently terrorist and extremist ideologies” during a speech to the Community Security Trust in Manchester. Mr Clegg said there needed to be a “tough and smart approach” to tackling general bigotry and campus hate. He said: “Some organisations we have no choice but to shut down. If we are concerned enough about their activities we will, as a last resort, consider proscribing them. We won’t provide funding for groups who advocate intolerance.” He said the government should “absolutely not” treat Fosis as “a credible partner.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Abdul Wahid spoke at the annual Al Quds Day march in Trafalgar Square in August, where he spoke of his “respect” for “those brothers who are resistance fighters, making jihad, making life tough for the Israelis and the Zionists” and called on neighbouring states to “release their armies to liberate that land”. Rupon Haque, who helped organise and promote the SOAS event on behalf of the student union’s Belief and Reason Society, is a Hizb ut-Tahrir supporter and has regularly promoted it on social networking sites. Also on the panel at SOAS was Ahmed Shebani, founder of Libya’s Democratic Party. When he told the audience of the need for Libya to normalise relations with Israel he was reportedly shouted down and called a “kaffir”.

Anti-extremist groups Stand for Peace and the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy have been aware of the Belief and Reason Society’s activities for some time. Stand for Peace director Hasan Afzal said: “Including a Hizb ut-Tahrir speaker in what looks to be an ordinary student debate with a respected opponent and seemingly normal topic, legitimises Hizb ut-Tahrir.” Sam Westrop, IMED director, said: “It is imperative that students, both Jewish and Muslim, keep an eye on the sort of ideas being espoused by student organisations. The concepts of interfaith and debating groups are frequently manipulated and employed to sanitise radical organisations’ virulent ideas.”

Norman Finkelstein’s speaking tour, organised by the Palestinian Return Centre, included campuses in Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham. He was due to speak at the University of London’s Logan Hall tonight. The author of The Holocaust Industry faced a large demonstration organised by the Union of Jewish Students and Leeds JSoc at his first talk on Monday. Bruce Rothberg of Leeds JSoc said: “It beggars belief that our Palestine Solidarity Group would invite someone who has compared Israelis to Nazis, proclaimed his support for Hizbollah’s attacks on civilians, and questioned the credentials of Holocaust survivors.”

On Tuesday evening, students from Exeter JSoc protested as their university Friends of Palestine Society hosted Israeli-born antisemite Gilad Atzmon. Despite complaints from Jewish students, the Student Guild refused to cancel the event. Atzmon’s latest book, The Wandering Who?, questions elements of the Holocaust and includes one chapter entitled Swindler’s List. He told the audience of 30 that “Hitler was right” and “antisemitism doesn’t exist”. The university’s Student Guild had assured UJS it would stop the event if Atzmon made antisemitic remarks but failed to take any action. A number of Jewish students walked out in disgust. The Guild’s chief executive, James Hutchinson, insisted that Atzmon’s remarks were made during a complex discussion in which Atzmon said that in the event of a nuclear war started by Israel, “some Europeans might say that Hitler was right”.

Mr Hutchinson added that the remark about antisemitism was made by Mr Aztmon in reference to his belief that antisemitism did not exist within the pro-Palestinian movement debating the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Nick Davis, president of the Guild, said: “We ensured a large staff and security presence at Gilad Atzmon’s talk to ensure a quick and effective shutdown in the event that our equal opportunities policy was breached. Gilad Atzmon’s speech was clearly provocative, but when his comments were contextualised they did not breach our policy. We are working closely with the Jewish Society to discuss their concerns.” Exeter JSoc president Ben Salamon said: “We hope our protest will help prevent future events like this from being permitted at Exeter University.”

Mr Willetts declined to comment on this week’s events.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: More Al Muhajiroun Whack-a-Mole

Here’s something very silly.

“The organisation Muslims Against Crusades will be banned from operating in the UK from midnight, the Home Secretary has said.”


[Reader comment by Flaming Fairy on 10 November 2011 at 5:39 pm.]

Jihadam And The Ants
Allah’s In Chains
Sunni and Shariah
The Haramones
Halalice Cooper

I can’t go on

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Man: 34, Denies Golf Club Beheading

A man has been remanded in custody at Broadmoor after he denied beheading a colleague at an exclusive golf club.

Restaurant manager Chris Varian, 32, was decapitated close to The Oxfordshire’s luxurious hotel last August.

Jonathan Limani, 34, a waiter at the golf club, was later charged with his murder.

The Albanian national, of Rycote Lane, Thame, Oxfordshire, showed no emotion as he stood in the dock surrounded by security officers while the charge against him was read out.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Raid Anti-Poppy Protest Group

London counter-terrorism officers said on Friday they had carried out a raid on three premises linked to a radical Muslim group, shortly after the organisation, which had planned a demonstration to disrupt Armistice Day ceremonies, was banned. The properties, connected to Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) and its leading figure Anjem Choudary, were raided late on Thursday night following the decision by Home Secretary Theresa May to make support of the group a criminal offence. “At 11 p.m. last night, officers from the Counter Terrorism Command executed three search warrants under the Terrorism Act 2000 at addresses in east London,” a London police spokesman said on Friday. “These searches concluded at 5.30 a.m. this morning.” There were no arrests he said.

Choudary said his house and a community centre where the group used to teach in Whitechapel were two of the targets. “It’s a fishing expedition at the end of the day, they’ve got nothing on me. I haven’t done anything illegal,” he told Reuters. “Obviously it’s inconvenient, but that doesn’t stop me propagating what I believe.” Last year, members of MAC burnt two large poppies outside the Royal Albert Hall in London during the two-minute silence to mark Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the day the Armistice was signed marking the end of the First World War. The action caused widespread anger, and the group had promised a “hell for heroes” demonstration at the same location on Friday. On its website, MAC said it had disbanded and Choudary said the protest over Britain’s foreign policy would now not go ahead. “I think that the objective has been achieved which is to show that the poppy and Armistice Day is a fig leaf which has been used to cover the crimes which have been committed,” he said. “Our message has gone viral and global really because of the pronouncement of Theresa May so I don’t see there’s any point (of holding the protest).” May said MAC was the latest incarnation of organisations also linked to Choudary which had been banned, including al Muhajiroun, Islam4UK and Al Ghurabaa. Choudary said he would discuss options for a new group with colleagues.

[JP note: They should have used undercover dwarves to get up the jihadis skirts and beards. If you have the tools use them.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Salah Wins Right to Appeal

Palestinian activist Raed Salah has been granted permission to appeal against a tribunal ruling which agreed he should be removed from Britain. Last month an immigration tribunal found in favour of Home Secretary Theresa May’s order that Sheikh Salah should be banned from Britain as his presence “would not be conducive to the public good”. He appealed on six grounds and was successfully granted permission to go ahead with the appeal to the Upper Tribunal. Sheikh Salah can remain in Britain for as long as the appeal process takes. It is not known when the case will be heard.

Tayab Ali, Sheikh Salah’s solicitor, said: “Being granted permission to appeal on all grounds is highly significant. It is clear that the Home Secretary has repeatedly exercised poor judgment. The Home Secretary has consistently failed to show what evidence of actual harm might exist that would justify a government preventing Sheikh Salah from addressing legislators, policy makers and the British people. The Home Secretary has also failed to present any evidence that Sheikh Salah’s previous visits to Britain have caused any detriment to public order or community relations”. The Home Office had previously said it was pleased the tribunal agreed to his removal and that it would seek to deport him “at the earliest opportunity”. That move is now on hold.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Future of Campus Extremism?

The debate surrounding the presence of extremists on British university campuses was thrown wide-open again recently when the Provost of UCL, Malcolm Grant, claimed that campus extremism was ‘made up’. He has since been condemned by organisations which monitor this issue, including the London-based StandforPeace, which after his comments accused him of shirking his responsibilities to his students. On Friday, 4 November, an event took place at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on Friday which may offer us a model for the future.

There is no doubt that Islamists of different stripes have long operated on British campuses (for more on this see a report I co-authored the Centre for Social Cohesion, which lists incidences of extremists addressing British students on campus), and it is no coincidence that just under 7% of all Islamist-related offences between 1999 and 2010 have been committed by people who were students at the time Yet, an adequate response to this has thus far been difficult to formulate.

The simple reaction is to ban from campus any individuals who are members of extremist groups or who have a well-documented history of preaching violence, misogyny and sectarian hatred. In reality, this is far from simple; not only have universities been reticent to ban anyone from speaking on their properties, but a ban on a popular speaker often has the opposite effect from what it is trying to achieve, angering and confusing many students, as well as martyring second-rate preachers.

Among the more nuanced critiques of extremism on British Universities is that, although it is unfortunate that Islamists are feted on British campuses, the main concern is the provision of unchallenged platforms for extremists. Instead, so as to avoid the problem of banning speakers, many, including myself, have suggested that informed debate may be the best antidote to extremist ideology taking root among students. Islamists must argue their case against panelists who are strongly opposed to their ideology, and able to effectively refute and debate them.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Vikings Navigated With Translucent Crystals?

Icelandic spar may have revealed sun’s position on cloudy days, study says.

Vikings may have navigated by looking through a type of crystal called Icelandic spar, a new study suggests. In some Icelandic sagas-embellished stories of Viking life-sailors relied on so-called sunstones to locate the sun’s position and steer their ships on cloudy days. The stone would’ve worked by detecting a property of sunlight called polarization.

Polarization is when light-which normally radiates randomly from its source-encounters something, such as a shiny surface or fog, that causes the rays to assume a particular orientation. Due to this property, as sunlight moves through the atmosphere, the resulting polarization gives away the direction of the original source of the light. Detecting light’s polarization is a natural ability of some animals, such as bees.

In 1969, a Danish archaeologist suggested real-life Vikings might have used sunstones to detect polarized light, using the stones to supplement sundials, stars, and other navigational aids. Since then, researchers have been probing how such a sunstone might have worked. On that point, though, the sagas were silent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Al-Jazeera Launches Broadcast to Ex-Yugoslavia

Doha, 11 Nov. (AKI) — Qatar-based satellite news network Al-Jazeera started broadcasting its first program in Europe on Friday, beamed to the countries of the former Yugoslavia in local languages, regional director Goran Milic told media.

Initially, the station will broadcast six hours of locally produced program from central studio in Bosnian capital Sarajevo, supported by local studios in Belgrade, Zagreb and Macedonian capital Skopje, Milic said.

Al-Jazeera started broadcasting in 1996 in Arabic and English and has quickly gained a strong world following. The Balkans program will be broadcast in what was once called Serbo-Croatian language, but after the breakup of Yugoslavia it is called Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian.

All countries of the former Yugoslavia, except Slovenia and Macedonia, speak the same language with slight dialectical variations.

Milic said the aim was to expand the program to 24 hours a day and will be available through satellite EutelSat and by cable. It will be “the beginning of a new chapter in media reporting in the region”, he added.

Milic, formerly a media star of Belgrade and Zagreb television, has assembled prominent journalists in the region for the program, which will be broadcast under the motto “From every angle, from all sides”.

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

Mediterranean Union

Cyprus to Host Euro-Med Centre at Boutros Ghali Initiative

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, NOVEMBER 11 — An Euro-Mediterranean Centre for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the Mediterranean region will be established in Limassol on the initiative of the former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who was received yesterday by President of the Republic Demetris Christofias. In statements at the Presidential Palace following the meeting, Ghali told the press that with Christofias “they discussed the creation of a (Euro Mediterranean) Centre which will hopefully assist the young generation in the preparation of arbitration, mediation, peaceful solution of disputes”. He also expressed the belief that “the geopolitical position of Cyprus will help us to play a role”. In conclusion, as the Famagusta Gazette reports, he said that “the choice of Cyprus (as the base of the Centre) will be important not only for Cyprus but for the community in this part of the world”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt Bars Dutch MP for Racism

Egypt has refused entry to a Dutch MP, a member of the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), for what it termed racist comments and hostility to Egypt’s government, the foreign ministry said on Thursday. Cairo’s rejection of Raymond De Roon resulted in an eight-member delegation of the Dutch Foreign Commission, which included the MP, cancelling its visit on Wednesday.

“They are of the opinion if one delegate cannot go, none of them should go,” Dutch parliamentary spokesman David van der Houwen told AFP. Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman Amr Roshdi said: “Mr De Roon recently told the Dutch parliament that Egypt practised ethnic cleansing, describing its government as a dictatorship. These statements constitute incitement to racism, punished by national and international law, and a legal foundation sufficient not to grant him a visa.”

De Roon, 59, made his comment after a demonstration by Coptic Christians on October 9 in Cairo which degenerated into a confrontation with the military and security forces, causing 25 deaths, the Dutch parliamentary spokesman said.

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said in a statement he “can fully understand why the committee came to the decision” to cancel the trip, adding that “De Roon used his democratic right as an MP to voice an opinion.” The PVV party of Geert Wilders, with 24 seats of the 150 in the lower house of parliament, opposes what it calls the “Islamisation” of the Netherlands. It lends its support to a centre-right coalition in the parliament.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Freedom Party MP Lacks Respect

The Egyptian foreign ministry says Freedom Party MP Raymond de Roon was denied a visa because he made insulting statements about the Egyptian people. The parliamentary foreign affairs committee on Tuesday announced it had cancelled a planned visit to Egypt because Mr De Roon, one of its members, had been denied a visa. The committee was scheduled to visit Egypt in connection with the upcoming parliamentary elections. The incident prompted Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal to ask the Egyptian ambassador for an explanation.

Egypt says Mr De Roon was denied a visa because the Freedom Party MP said that the Copts, a Christian minority, are the victims of ethnic cleansing. Cairo also pointed to the Freedom Party’s well-known hostile attitude toward Islam.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Cairo Islamists Protest Prophet Cartoon at French Embassy

Hundreds of hardline Islamists protested outside France’s embassy in Cairo on Friday against a French satirical newspaper that published pictures of the Muslim prophet, the state MENA news agency reported. The news agency quoted Khaled Said, the spokesman of the Salafi group that organised the protest, as warning of “an escalation in peaceful measures against French interests,” including a boycott of French goods.

The Islamist said his group had submitted a protest to the embassy and organised the demonstration after the French government described the affair as a freedom of speech issue. MENA did not report any violence in the protest, which was organised after the main weekly Muslim prayers.

The weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo renamed itself Charia (sharia — Islamic law) Hebdo for a special Arab Spring edition and featured a front-page cartoon of the prophet Mohammed saying: “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter!”

Its offices in Paris were destroyed in a suspected firebomb attack on November 2. Jihadist groups urged Muslims in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia “to protest and demand that their current leaders threaten to sever ties with France” if the publishing licence for Charlie Hebdo is not revoked, and that similar acts against Islam be “criminalised,” the SITE Intelligence group reported.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: With Friends Like These

The slurs against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu voiced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama after last week’s G20 summit were revealing as well as repugnant.

Thinking no one other than Obama could hear him, Sarkozy attacked Netanyahu, saying, “I can’t stand to see him anymore, he’s a liar.”

Obama responded by whining, “You’re fed up with him, but me, I have to deal with him every day.”

These statements are interesting both for what they say about the two presidents’ characters and for what they say about the way that Israel is perceived by the West more generally…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Middle East

EU’s Economic Woes Could Affect Iran Sanctions

AFP reports that Europe’s economic woes could make it difficult to impose sanctions against Iran, noting that targetting Iran’s Central Bank could lead to an oil shock, worsening the EU crisis. The US and EU said they would pursue further sanctions following a damning UN report on Iran’s nuclear plans.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iran Lobbies for Russian Support

Iran is making a strong push to secure Moscow’s backing in a global diplomatic fight, asking Russia to build more nuclear reactors in Bushehr and permission to join the Moscow-backed Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The requests — which basically boil down to “support-for-money” deals — could help Tehran dodge UN sanctions threatened by Western powers over Iran’s suspected nuclear arms program.

But the Russian leadership is unlikely to take sides, opting instead to reject both sanctions and explicit cooperation with Iran in a pre-election show of force, analysts said Thursday. Iran’s bid to become the seventh full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was announced by the deputy head of Iran’s National Security Council, Ali Baqeri, who said during a visit to Moscow that the request had been filed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Erdogan’s Religious Acrobatics: Nicaea Council Church Back to Being a Mosque

The church of Aghia Sophia in Nicaea (Izmit), in which the 787 Council was held, was used as a museum. A controversial decision by the Directorate General of Religious Affairs transforms it into a Muslim place of worship. Erdogan’ contents Islamic sectors of society.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) — The specter of Aghia Sophia continues to plague the Islamic world of Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey. Not the most famous symbol of the church of Constantinople, but another church, Aghia Sophia in Nicaea (now Izmit), which predates the Constantinople church, having been built in the fourth century. It passed into history in 787 AD, when it was the last church to host a united Christendom drawn to discuss the iconoclastic question, in a truly ecumenical synod, before the fatal schism of 1024.

This Christian church, the Aghia Sophia in Nicaea (Izmit), was transformed into a mosque in 1331 by Orhan Gazi who led the Ottomans and which was later made a museum in 1920, has returned once again to being a mosque.

All that was needed was a directive from the Directorate General for Religious Affairs led by Mehmet Gormez, appointed by Erdogan instead of Ali Bardakoglu, the man behind the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey, since retired. The move has elicited several considerations in Turkey and abroad in a period in which much importance and emphasis is placed on religious freedom. It is also noted that this decision by the Directorate for Religious Affairs, made in accordance with the Directorate General of Religious Foundations, to which the church of Aghia Sophia in Izmit belongs, is in complete contrast with the decisions of the Ministry of Culture in Ankara, which granted permission for religious celebrations in Christian monuments that have since been transformed into museums.

The President of the Republic of Germany, Christian Wulf, in his recent visit to Turkey, made the request for permission for a mass to be celebrated at the Church of St. Paul in Tarsus, a request that was granted by the Turkish authorities . The same Patriarch Bartholomew I, 26 December 2000 celebrated a liturgy in the church of Aghia Sophia in Izmit on the anniversary of the second millennium of the birth of our Lord, as the church of Aghia Sophia in Izmit was counted, according to the Directive of the Ministry of Culture in Ankara, among those Christians monuments turned into museums.

Erdogan’s decision is puzzling, but also brings to light lurking divisions within Turkish society. In recent times, especially after the 2007 elections, Erdogan’s policy has been characterized by an opening towards non-Muslim religious minorities,. Thanks to these re-openings, religious communities have begun to breathe once again. In is enough to mention the recent decree that provides for the restitution of property illegally confiscated in the past, from the religious foundations, and the grant of permission to celebrate religious functions in Christian monuments that have since become museums. The most symbolic outcome was the celebration of the Mass officiated by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in 2010 in the historic Monastery of Our Lady of Sumela on the Black Sea, the first after 80 years.

These initiatives by Erdogan have never been welcomed by his Islamic-nationalist followers, who are not only present in Bahceli’s nationalist MHP party (which achieved about 14% in the last election), but they are also lurking in the ruling AKP party, under the wing of the Vice President Bulent Arinc, perhaps the most prominent politician in the Islamic conformist current within the ruling party. Arinc said during the inauguration the day before yesterday: “With this act we have regained the favor of our ancestors. The church of Aghia Sophia in Izmit is the result of conquest and as such, as it was used then, is right. A church can be transformed into a mosque. Both are places of prayer to God”. Bulent Arinc concluded, “How many mosques have been transformed into our churches?”.

There have however, been sstrong negative reactions within the Turkish intellectual world among which that of Professor. Selcuk Mulayim of Marmara University, who said that the church of Aghia Sophia in Izmit has played an important role in Christian history and as such should be considered as with the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople: a museum.

Istanbul’s comment diplomatic circles mummer that Erdogan, making a symbolic and instrumental use of the name of Aghia Sofia, has tried to satisfy certain sectors of his party, and not only. Consenting to the transformation of the church of Aghia Sophia in Nicaea (Izmit) into a mosque, he has calculated that certain “targeted” concessions will lengthen his stay in power.

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

US Ready to Provide UAE With Bombs for Protection From Iran

(AGI) New York — The US administration is ready to provide the UAE with thousands of bombs for possible use against Iran. The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous government sources, said that the armaments include thousands of precision-, laser- or GPS-guided bombs, that the government seems poised to announce a plan to this effect, and that the military assistance program to the Emirates could be formally submitted to Congress ‘in the coming days’.

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

Western Allies Running Out of Options to Stop Iran Nuke Program

Although newly released evidence suggests that Iran may be researching a nuclear weapon, the Western allies have few policy options to stop the program during a period of economic crisis and war weariness.

The United Nation’s atomic watchdog has accused Iran of making designs for a nuclear weapon in clear violation of international conventions, provoking renewed calls for tighter economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic and stirring up rumors of Israeli plans to launch a military strike against one of largest and most populous nations in the Middle East.

In its most unequivocal judgment to date on Iran’s nuclear program, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported on Wednesday that it has obtained evidence indicating Tehran has tried to source uranium destined for use in the warhead of a missile re-entry vehicle, the Shahab 3. The Agency also indicated that Iran has developed detonators and built a facility at the Parchin military complex consistent with nuclear-related explosives testing.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Yemen: Al-Qaeda Whips ‘Dealers’ Selling Hallucinogens Named After Arab Leaders

Sanaa, 11 Nov. (AKI) — Al-Qaeda militants have publically whipped accused drug dealers in the southern Abyen province, warning people in the city of Jaar that they could suffer a similar punishment if they dabble in drugs, according to local media.

The insurgents Thursday afternoon warned onlookers of the whipping that a similar fate awaits them if they turn to drug use or dealing, according to newspaper Hayat Aden, citing eye witness accounts.

The suspected dealers were accused of selling hallucinogens named after figures like Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh — all Arab leaders contested by violent protests in the so-called Arab Spring revolts.

Al-Qaeda has declared an Islamic emirate is southern Yemen’s Abyen province where they control considerable territory and seek to impose Sharia, or Islamic law.

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


Chance of Russia Mars Probe Rescue ‘Very Small’: Report

The chances of rescuing a Russian probe that is stuck in an Earth orbit after failing to set out on its planned mission for Mars are very small, the Interfax news agency reported on Friday. Mission control failed overnight even to obtain data from the Phobos-Grunt probe, which was launched earlier this week in what Moscow had hoped would be a triumphant return to inter-planetary exploration, it said.

“Overnight, several attempts were made to obtain telemetric information from the probe. They all ended with zero result,” Interfax quoted a source in the Russian space sector as saying. “The probability of saving the probe is very, very small,” added the source, who was not identified. Nonetheless, attempts to make contact with the probe would continue Friday, also using Earth-based facilities operated by NASA and the European Space Agency, the source added.

Russia’s space agency have said scientists have a window of only a few days to reprogramme the probe in a bid to send it on its route to Mars. If this does not happen, it risks falling back to Earth.

The mission went awry after launch Wednesday when the five-billion-ruble ($165 million) probe’s engine failed to fire, leaving it orbiting the Earth rather than starting its journey towards the red planet. The probe had the unprecedented mission to land on the Martian moon Phobos and bring a sample of its rock back to Earth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Mother and Daughter Stoned and Shot Dead After Taliban Accused Them of ‘Moral Deviation and Adultery’

The killing happened on Thursday in the Khawaja Hakim area of Ghazni city, the BBC reported, and two men have now been arrested.

Officials — who blamed the Taliban for the attack — told the Corporation that armed men went into the house where the two women lived, took them to the yard outside and they were stoned and then shot.

‘Neighbours did not help or inform the authorities on time,’ an official told the BBC.

A neighbour of the executed women told M& he heard shots but was afraid to go out.

‘When the women in the neighbourhood washed the bodies of the killed women, they saw signs of stoning, and the doctors at the local hospital also confirmed to us,’ the man, named only as Rahimullah, said.

However, Ghazni provincial police chief Zilawar Zahid denied the reports that the women were stoned to death.

He told reporters: ‘They were killed inside their house.

‘An investigation is under way to find out why they were killed and Afghan police have arrested two men in connection with the case.’

Officials told the BBC that religious leaders had been issuing fatwas — edicts — asking for reports on anyone who was ‘involved in adultery’.

Earlier this year horrific video footage emerged of Taliban insurgents stoning a couple to death for alleged adultery in northern Afghanistan.

It took place in the district of Dashte Archi, in Kunduz, and was met with outrage in the West.

However, a Taliban spokesman defended the practice, saying: ‘Anyone who knows about Islam knows that stoning is in the Koran, and that it is Islamic law.

‘There are people who call it inhuman — but in doing so they insult the Prophet. They want to bring foreign thinking to this country.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: Ghazni: Mother and Daughter Stoned to Death for Adultery 300m From Govt Offices

Sources tell AsiaNews that Sharia is the only law in Afghanistan. In ten years, the international community has done nothing to teach the population respect for human rights.

Kabul (AsiaNews) — “Ten years after the fall of the Taliban, the West has not been able to teach Afghans respect for human dignity. Sharia is the law that is enforced, not the laws of civilised countries,” sources told AsiaNews in reference to the stoning of two women, mother and daughter, accused of adultery. The two were killed yesterday in Ghazni, 138 km southeast from Kabul, a few hundreds of metres from government offices. Although the area was recently handed over to Afghan authorities, international forces are still in control. “Everyone knows such violence goes on,” sources said.

Yesterday, a group of armed men entered the house where a young widow lived with her daughter. After accusing them of adultery, they took them out to the yard, where they were stoned and then shot dead. The attack was carried out only 300m from the governor’s office in Ghazni city, but police arrived too late on the scene of the crime.

Despite the sound of screams and gunshots, neighbours did not help or inform the authorities.

Officials says that a number of religious leaders in the city have been issuing fatwas, asking people to report any one who was “involved in adultery”.

Sources told AsiaNews that some imams, even in the capital, have also been stirring up people against foreigners and demanding everyone submit to Sharia to the letter.

Ten years after the fall of the Taliban, nothing has changed. “The international community has spent billions of dollars in the country, but they have been used to set up an army and enrich political elites; very little has gone to the people,” sources say.

“In Kabul, if you step outside the area around the government compound, you’ll see only crumbling houses, mud roads and poverty. No one has showed Afghans why democracy is good. Little has been done in the way of building schools, hospitals and businesses.”

The West is also at fault for allowing the government to base its laws exclusively on Sharia, using the excuse that it is a domestic matter.

“The government continues to be weak, corrupt and not very credible,” the sources say. “Extremists and religious authorities use Muhammad’s law without fear to settle disputes in total impunity.” (S.C.)

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

Effects of Floods on Thai Economy Exacerbated by EU, US Debt Crises

The economic impact of Thailand’s worst floods in over 50 years will be kept at a minimum as long as the country can keep the eurozone and US debt crises at bay.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Censors Own Film on Afghan Women Prisoners

The European Union has blocked the release of a documentary on Afghan women who are in jail for so-called “moral crimes”.

The EU says it decided to withdraw the film — which it commissioned and paid for — because of “very real concerns for the safety of the women portrayed”.

However, human rights workers say the injustice in the Afghan judicial system should be exposed.

Half of Afghanistan’s women prisoners are inmates for “zina” or moral crimes.

A statement from the EU’s Kabul delegation said the welfare of the women was the paramount consideration in its decision.

No official from the delegation was prepared to be interviewed about the film.

No new dawn

Some of the women convicted of “zina” are guilty of nothing more than running away from forced marriages or violent husbands…

           — Hat tip: RE[Return to headlines]

India-Pakistan-Iran: The Troubled Triangle

India, Pakistan and Iran have a complicated and troubled relationship. The recent IAEA report has made it all the more complicated.

Iran possesses the world’s second largest gas reserves. That alone makes it an attractive country to other states seeking to forge energy deals, one of which is Pakistan. By the year 2014, there will be a gas pipeline stretching over 2,000 kilometers from Iran to Pakistan to help the later resolve its acute energy problems. It is expected to have a capacity of 22 billion cubic meters and can be expanded to 55 billion cubic meters. The cost is expected to run at around 7.5 billion US dollars. Contrary to its name, plans for the so-called “Peace Pipeline” have been causing upset around the world for the past decade.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: West Java: Muslim and Christian Intellectuals Against Mayor’s Attempts to Cancel Protestant Church

Diani Budiarto, regardless of a ruling by the Constitutional Court, will not guarantee freedom of Christian worship to the Yasmin Church of. Muslim Professor calls on the government to punish the official, but warns that one case of intolerance should not be generalized. Priest recalls the attacks on 47 churches in 2010 and claims the right to religious freedom.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Religious leaders, Muslim and Christian intellectuals, members of Indonesian civil society have all condemned the behavior of the Mayor of Bogor, Diani Budiarto, who continues to ignore the Constitutional Court’s decision authorizing celebrations in the Protestant community of Yasmin Chuch (cf. . AsiaNews 14/10/2011 Bogor Yasmin Church controversy: authorities “manipulating” videos to slander Christians). To protect religious freedom and promote tolerance in the country a “strong and authoritative” central executive is needed capable of enforcing the law and the principle of “unity in diversity” on the Pancasila is based even among local officials. Explaining that in 2010 there were 47 cases of attacks or violence against Christian churches, activist Theophilus Bela calls for greater “awareness in society” of the importance of religious freedom and respect for minority rights.

For months the Yasmin Church in Bogor (West Java Province) has been the victim of a blatant violation of law, perpetrated by the local mayor Diani Budiarto who, heedless of the dictates of a constitutional court ruling in favor of Christians, prevents the holding of religious services. The building was designed according to the dictates set by law and has the building permit, the IMB “legal document” needed to authorize house churches or places of prayer.

Professor Azyumardi Azra, dean of the Ciputat State Islamic University (South Tangerang), states that anyone who commits violent acts against other religious groups should be pursued by justice. He condemns the “inertia” of the government in pursuing the Mayor of Bogor, who should be put on trial. However, the teacher warns that a single case can not be considered as “representative” of a general intolerance towards religious minorities in Indonesia. Prof. Azra also warns against Western newspapers, which draw hasty “conclusions” about the growth of indiscriminate persecution of a confessional matrix and the Pancasila as the “best ideology” to a multiethnic society.

Christian activist Elga Sarapung of Interfidei in Yogyakarta, central Java, confirms that the government is obliged to enforce the law, “no ifs, ands or buts”. She reiterates that the Mayor of Bogor should be stopped and removed from the office because he is incapable of “providing security to the people.” In contrast, the woman points to the need to strongly promote the concept of “tolerance” and discourage fear of diversity. An opinon shared by Fr. Benny Susetyo, of the Episcopal Conference’s Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, who denounces the lack of “neutrality” in government circles, especially when it comes to issues affecting religious minorities.

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

Latin America

Cuba Follows Sweden to Combat Prostitution

Cuba is considering implementing the Swedish example in fighting prostitution by penalizing the clients rather than the sex workers, Cuban sexologist Mariela Castro said Thursday. “Sweden has done a really admirable job and even organizations like CENESEX (Cuban National Center for Sex Education) and the Federation of Cuban Women would like to emulate the Swedish experience,” said Castro, daughter of President Raul Castro, in an interview posted on YouTube on Thursday.

Castro made her remarks following a trip to the Netherlands, where she visited Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District. The sixth Cuban congress on Sex Education, Sex Therapy and Sexual Orientation would take place January 23-26, and according to Castro this would be “a very good opportunity to relaunch the debate on prostitution.”

Some 100,000 prostitutes worked in Cuba before the 1959 revolution, according to official figures. Following a fierce crackdown by the Castro regime, prostitution reappeared with the severe economic crisis that hit the island following the fall of the Soviet Union.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Migrants Rescued South of Lampedusa

Group including new mother ‘picked up in Malta waters’

(ANSA) — Lampedusa, November 11 — The Italian Navy on Friday rescued a drifting dinghy with 44 North African migrants on board including a woman who had just given birth south of the stepping-stone island of Lampedusa, midway between Sicily and Africa.

The woman was helicoptered to a Sicilian hospital.

The dinghy, which was said to be “in precarious condition”, was spotted by an Italian fishing boat some 55 nautical miles south of Lampedusa, in waters where Malta has jurisdiction for international rescue operations, the Navy said.

Earlier this year some 30,000 migrants flooded onto Lampedusa after the Tunisian revolution and during the Libyan war, pushing reception facilities past breaking point.

But conditions on the island have since returned to normal

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Mohamed Bouzalim Claimed £400,000 in Fraudulent Benefits

An illegal immigrant who claimed to be paralysed from the neck down but was filmed dancing at his wedding cheated more than £400,000 in benefits, a court heard yesterday.

But even though Mohamed Bouzalim, 37, has admitted dishonestly entering the country and fraudulently exploiting the welfare system, legal sources said they will face an ‘uphill battle’ to deport him.

There is a strong likelihood the Moroccan will be able to remain in the UK by claiming he has a right to family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, immigration sources said.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Silicon Valley Fights to Keep Its Diversity Data Secret

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — How diverse are Silicon Valley’s offices and executive suites? Activists have been trying for years to answer that question, but some of the industry’s largest and most influential employers — including Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook — closely guard that information.

Every U.S. company with more than 100 employees is required to file a one-page form each year with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an independent federal agency. Called the EEO-1, the form categorizes U.S. workers by their race and gender.

Intel (INTC, Fortune 500), which posts its workforce data annually on its website, reflects the tech industry’s typical demographic skew: Its roster of nearly 44,000 U.S. workers is overwhelmingly male and mostly white.

Among American adults age 25 to 64 — typically considered the working-age population — around 11% are African-American, but black workers account for just 3.5% of Intel’s domestic workforce and 1.3% of its top officials. Hispanics are similarly under-represented: They make up nearly 15% of the American workforce, but only 8% of Intel’s workforce and 3% of its management ranks.

In contrast, Asian workers — a category that includes those of Indian descent — have made strong inroads in the tech industry. They account for less than 5% of the U.S. working population but hold nearly 20% of the jobs at the companies CNNMoney surveyed.

Dell’s (DELL, Fortune 500) data tells a similar story. More than 80% of the company’s workforce is white or Asian. Dell’s top management, which includes 137 executives, has no Hispanics and only one black official.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

The Hague Sacks Gay-Marriage Refusenik

The Hague has confirmed it sacked a registrar who refused to marry same-sex couples. The registrar in question is Wim Pijl, a former councillor for the Christian Union. In a recent interview with national newspaper Trouw he said he had strong moral objections against marrying gay and a lesbian couples.

The interview prompted a meeting with council officials in which Mr Pijl refused to retract his statements. As a result, the council informed him that his services were no longer required. Mr Pijl says he intends to fight his dismissal in court.

The council recently presented an emancipation policy document in which it rejects the cabinet viewpoint that registrars should be allowed to refuse marrying same-sex couples on religious grounds. The cabinet recently postponed further debate on the issue indefinitely.

The Hague council explicitly asks new registrars whether they have a problem with marrying same-sex couples. Registrars already employed by the city are assumed to be aware its policies on the issue. However, the council says Mr Pijl’s statements in the interview with Trouw made it clear he has no intention of complying. In parliament, Christen Union party leader Arie Slob has announced he will ask Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner to clarify the issue.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

When Will Gloria Allred Hold a Press Conference About Islam?

by Diana West

We haven’t had a good, old-fashioned “feeding frenzy,” a la Herman Cain, for a long time — maybe not since the days of Dan Quayle. I’m talking about the kind of media wilding where someone is a whole person one day, and then, whoosh, the piranhas swim in and a gnawed carcass is all that remains. It’s especially hard to look at when the victim joins in to shoot himself in the foot, but that’s another story.

What interests me more is whether we can draw from the Cain case the conclusion that “women,” as a group defined exclusively by sex, are exhibiting a new or finally realized power in society. Judging by the attention and gravity with which the sexual harassment charges are being treated, and judging by the perils these charges pose to the presidential run of this newly popular figure on the political Right, a Martian might be forgiven for concluding that the role and stature of women in society is supreme.

But a Martian would be wrong. The political leverage against Cain — setting aside his own and his team’s erratic and unsatisfying responses — has nothing to do with the entrenchment or validation of manners and mores that protect against sexual harassment or predation of women. On the contrary, these are power struggles as usual, with the Left, including its women, seizing on sexual harassment as a crowbar to beat off a conservative. Their hypocrisy is no compensation for the fact that Cain has shown himself unable to meet or deflect the charges and, indeed, may be vulnerable to them.

The fact is, the security of women in society is imperiled, but not by crude propositions or passes made by the odd, unreconstructed male executive. The security of women is imperiled by the spread of Islam in Western society, which is accepting its aggressive misogyny without question or even mention.

This is what struck me on trying to sort through a flurry of recent headlines, from the many gigantic ones calling attention to Herman Cain’s alleged comments and gropings in every mainstream outlet, to the rare story or occasional video online attesting to the massive assault on girlhood and womanhood that is directly attributable to burgeoning Islamic communities, largely in Europe.

The real problem doesn’t go away because it is silenced. Earlier this year, NRK, Norwegian state television, reported that 100 percent of rapes in Oslo in 2010 in which perpetrators could be identified were committed by “men of non-Western background” — the stock euphemism for Muslim males in Norway…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]


Extra Giant Planet May Have Dwelled in Our Solar System

Within our solar system, an extra giant planet, or possibly two, might once have accompanied Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus. Computer models showing how our solar system formed suggested the planets once gravitationally slung one another across space, only settling into their current orbits over the course of billions of years.

During more than 6,000 simulations of this planetary scattering phase, planetary scientist David Nesvorny at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., found that a solar system that began with four giant planets only had a 2.5 percent chance of leading to the orbits presently seen now. These systems would be too violent in their youth to end up resembling ours, most likely resulting in systems that have less than four giants over time, Nesvorny found. Instead, a model about 10 times more likely at matching our current solar system began with five giants, including a now lost world comparable in mass to Uranus and Neptune. This extra planet may have been an “ice giant” rich in icy matter just like Uranus and Neptune, Nesvorny explained.

When the solar system was about 600 million years old, it underwent a major period of instability that scattered the giant planets and smaller worlds, researchers said. Eventually, gravitational encounters with Jupiter would have flung the mystery world to interstellar space about 4 billion years ago. As fantastic as these findings might sound, a large number of free-floating worlds have recently been discovered in interstellar space, Nesvorny noted. As such, the ejection of planets from solar systems might be common.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mysterious Dark Energy Played No More Than Bit Part in Early Universe

Scientists trying to understand dark energy, one of the weirdest things in the universe, have made a step forward in determining how much of it could have existed shortly after the Big Bang. Dark energy is the mysterious force scientists think is responsible for pulling space apart at the seams, causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate. No one knows what dark energy is, and it hasn’t been detected directly.

In the new study, researchers used the South Pole Telescope in Antarctica to observe the cosmic microwave background, the pervasive light left over from the Big Bang that is believed to have kick-started the universe. This radiation holds a record of many properties of the early universe, allowing scientists to deduce the maximum amount of dark energy that could have been present at the time.

Based on their measurements, the researchers found that dark energy could not have accounted for more than 1.8 percent of the total density of the universe. By contrast, dark energy dominates space today, accounting for about 74 percent of all the matter and energy in the universe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]