Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120110

Financial Crisis
»Coalition at Risk Over Financial Transaction Tax
»Denmark Launches ‘Tap Water’ Presidency
»EU Raises €3bn for Ireland and Portugal
»French Economy Flatlining — New Figures
»German Exports Reach Trillion-Euro Threshold
»Italy: Liberalisations to Hit ‘All Sectors’, Says Govt
»Moody’s Estimates Spain Needs to Find Savings of 40 Billion Euros to Meet Budget Deficit Target
»One in Five Spanish Homes May be Vacant, Experts Say
»Safety Trumps Yield in Euro Crisis: Investors Pay to Lend Germany Money
»Ex-US Soldier Charged With Trying to Join Shebab
»Lehigh Valley Muslims Share American Experiences
»Man Arrested After Firing at Multiple Officers in Gadsden
»Oklahoma Sharia Law Ban ‘Unconstitutional’, Court Rules
»Panetta Says the US Will Continue to Field World’s Strongest Military
Europe and the EU
»Anonymous Under Fire: Criticism Mounts Against Anti-Nazi Website
»Antibiotic-Resistant Chicken Found in German Supermarkets
»British Deputy PM: EU Veto is ‘Temporary’
»Czech Government Split on Religious Restitution
»Denmark: Kurdish Station Fined 2.6m Kr for Promoting Terrorism
»EU Orders Hungary to Recover Airline Aid
»European Court Condemns Italy for Naples Trash Crisis
»France: Muslim Bride Sues After Order to Remove Veil
»Germany: Jihadist Killer Deserves Life Say Prosecutors
»Italy: Undersecretary Resigns After Hotel-Bill Furore
»Leading MEP Wants Hungary Stripped of Rights
»Norway: Ethnic Discrimination Rife Among Employers: Study
»Swiss National Bank Chief Resigns
»Turkish Ambassador Returns to Paris
»UK: 1960s Housing Estate, Robin Hood Gardens, To be Transformed
»UK: City’s Proposals to Ban Foreign Students From Shops to Cut Thefts Branded Racist and Ridiculous
»UK: Five Men on Trial in Derby for Urging Execution of Gays
»UK: Gang Imported Up to 158,000 Pairs of Counterfeit Trainers Alone
»UK: Lutfur Rahman Councillor Convicted of Second Benefit Fraud
»UK: Muslim Khalique Miah Jailed for Holding Ex-Wife Zahanara Begum Prisoner in the Toilet
»UK: Plans Submitted for 1,700 Homes Blackwall Reach Regeneration
»UK: Prophet’s Biography Led Me to Islam
»UK: Paedophile With One Million Sickening Images of Child Abuse Spared Jail
»Wall Street Journal Launches German Edition
»Why Swiss Gun Love is Coming Under Fire
»Bosnia: Criticism on 20th Anniversary Republika Srpska
»Kosovo: Risk of Radical Islam, Says Ambassador to Italy
North Africa
»Egypt: Magnate Sawiris to Stand Trial for Insulting Religion
»German Support for New North Africa Underlined
»Moroccan Imams Call for Freedom to Preach
»Washington Reaches Out as Egyptian Islamists Extend Lead
Middle East
»Devil in Details of Egypt Brotherhood’s Party Platform
»EU to Speed Up Decision on Iran Oil Ban
»Iran and the West Rediscover Oil as Weapon
»Iran: ‘Very Grave Concern’ On Nuclear Programme Says Italy
»Tourism: Investments; Dubai Eyes Turkey
»UAE: Copts Thank Muslims for Christmas Spirit
South Asia
»How German Diplomats Opened Channel to Taliban
»Pakistan: 40 Muslim Youths Arrested for ‘Moral Policing’ In Nizamabad
Far East
»Chinese Tree Extract Stops Rats Getting Drunk
»North Korea Celebrates ‘The Genius of Geniuses’
Australia — Pacific
»Mutilated Wallaby Found in Elermore Vale.
»New Zealand: High-Flying Shark Makes Pilot Look Twice
»Rogues’ Gallery: The Convicts of Early Australia
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Nigeria: Boko Haram Attack Claims 12 in Adamawa
»Nigeria: Mosque Attacked in Benin City as Nationwide Strike Grips Nigeria
»Reverend’s ‘Kill Whites’ Tweet a Shocker
»Uganda: Muslims Factions’ Row Over Slaughter Rights
»Uganda: Unveiling Muslim Girls at Makerere University
Latin America
»Found: First Solid Evidence of Ancient Mayans’ Tobacco Use
»Sony Ordered to Pay Half a Million in Damages After Brazilian Song Calling Black Woman “Stinking Beast” And Comparing Her Hair to Scouring Pads is Deemed Racist
»Israel: Jail Without Trial for Illegal Immigrants
»Italy: North African Murder Suspects Have ‘Criminal Records’
»Migration IS Killing Off Jobs: 160:000 Britons Have Missed Out on Employment Because Work Was Taken by Foreigners
Culture Wars
»UK: Five Men on Trial for “Gay Death Penalty” Leaflets
»Siberia Was a Wildlife Refuge in the Last Ice Age

Financial Crisis

Coalition at Risk Over Financial Transaction Tax

Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a crisis in her governing coalition after agreeing with French President Nicolas Sarkozy to push for a financial transaction tax, even if Britain opts out. Merkel’s junior coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party (FDP), suggested on Tuesday its coalition agreement with her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was being put at risk.

The pro-business party fears that financial businesses could move from Frankfurt to London, if a tax on financial transactions was introduced in Germany but not Britain. “Coalition agreements can only be changed together and not by one side alone,” Hermann Otto Solms, a finance expert at the FDP, told the Handelsblatt on Tuesday.

Otherwise any coalition’s ability to function would be affected at its core, he said. Certain agreements had to be kept, Solms added. Frank Schäffler, the FDP’s finance expert seemed to threaten Merkel with an mutiny of sorts.

“I clearly warn the chancellor against going further in this direction. She is bound to keep to the relevant agreements, otherwise we as the FDP will no longer have to keep to the arrangements,” he told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Denmark Launches ‘Tap Water’ Presidency

COPENHAGEN — Tap water instead of bottled water, fewer gifts for dignitaries, more use of public transportation — cost-efficiency is to be the hallmark of Denmark’s EU presidency.

“We are very cost-efficient in Denmark, so we want an efficient presidency at a low cost,” Danish EU affairs minister Nicolai Wammen told a group of Brussels-based journalists on Monday (9 January) in Copenhagen. Pointing to the water bottles for the audience, Wammen quipped: “This is the last time we have bottles on the table during the Danish presidency. We will serve only tap water from now on.”

Less gifts for dignitaries and increased use of public transportation will also be part of a strategy that aims to lower the overall cost to a few dozen million euro. The Polish presidency in the second half of 2011was lavish by comparison. It ran up a €115 million bill. A dinner organised for journalists at the residence of Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt later that evening showed that the cost-cutting strategy was already in place. Pitchers of tap water accompanied the Danish white wine.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Raises €3bn for Ireland and Portugal

In what the European Commission said was “a statement of market confidence (in) the EU,” the European Union on Monday raised €3 billion in a 30-year bond sale for cash-strapped eurozone members Ireland and Portugal, who will each get half of the money in low-interest loans.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

French Economy Flatlining — New Figures

The French economy was flat in the last three months of 2011, the Bank of France said Tuesday, confirming an earlier estimate amid concerns the eurozone debt crisis could spark a recession. The French central bank said there was no growth between the third and fourth quarters of 2011, an outcome which should allow the government to come very close to meeting its full-year target for a 1.5 percent expansion.

Third quarter growth had come in at 0.3 percent, the national statistics institute INSEE said last month. On the basis of the third quarter performance, the French economy should grow 1.7 percent growth for the year, it said. INSEE said last month it expected France to fall into a brief recession, with the economy contracting 0.2 percent in the three months to December and another 0.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Exports Reach Trillion-Euro Threshold

Latest statistics suggest German exports breached the 1-trillion euro mark for the first time ever in 2011. Experts say overseas demand was boosted by the relative weakness of the euro.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Liberalisations to Hit ‘All Sectors’, Says Govt

Cabinet to approve package within 10 days

(ANSA) — Rome, January 10 — The government is preparing to approve a package of liberalisations within 10 days that will hit “all sectors”, Cabinet Undersecretary Antonio Catricala’ has said.

After approving a 30-billion-euro austerity package of tax hikes, spending cuts and pension reforms to put Italy’s public finances in order, the government has turned its attention to reforms designed to boost the sluggish economy.

“We have to do this,” Catricala’ told RAI television.

“There is a document that Premier (Mario) Monti and I am putting together that regards all sectors”.

These measures will probably seek to reduce privileges for dominant companies and certain groups of professionals, who have been accused of using professional guilds to limit access to, and competition in, their sectors.

For example, former Italian antitrust chief Catricala’ said the package will include measures to increase the number of pharmacies and notary offices.

“We have to enable our citizens to obtain the appropriate discounts,” he said. “It’s not a question of broadening the markets but of reducing prices”.

Taxi drivers staged protests in Bologna and Milan on Monday and in Genoa on Tuesday and a nationwide demonstration is planned for Saturday in anticipation of moves to make it easier to obtain taxi licences.

Catricala’ said the water sector will be affected too, even though the possibility of privatising local Italian water companies was blocked last year by a referendum.

The government has already scrapped restrictions on retail opening times, a move shop-keeper associations are trying to overturn, claiming it will hurt small, city-centre outlets and encourage shoppers to use big malls. Monti’s government has also opened talks with unions and business associations on ways to reform Italy’s labour market to make it easier for young people and women to find jobs. “I believe the multilateral disarmament of all the established groups can enable us to make more room for competition and young people,” the premier said on Sunday. photo: Cabinet Undersecretary Antonio Catricala’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Moody’s Estimates Spain Needs to Find Savings of 40 Billion Euros to Meet Budget Deficit Target

Finance Minister Montoro says no plans to raise VAT as ratings agency predicts economy will contract by between 0.5 and 1.0 percent this year

Spain needs to find budget savings of 40 billion euros if it wants to meet its deficit target for this year of 4.4 percent of GDP, Moody’s Investors Service said in a report released Monday. The figure is 42.8 percent higher than the combined savings cuts and tax hikes implemented between 2010 and 2011. At the end of last year, the incoming Popular Party government unveiled tax hikes of 6.2 billion euros and spending cuts of 8.9 billion after announcing the outgoing Socialists’ administration overshot its deficit target for last year of six percent of GDP by two full percentage points.

Moody’s said the situation it depicts is “negative” for Spain’s credit profile, and warned further austerity measures are required to return the state’s finances to a “sustainable” path. On announcing the December 30 package, the government said the adjustments were only the “beginning of the beginning.” The ratings agency said having to tame the deficit at a time when the economy is already weak risks further aggravating Spain’s economic prospects. It predicted GDP would contract by between 0.5 and 1.0 percent this year, compared with growth of 0.7 percent last year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

One in Five Spanish Homes May be Vacant, Experts Say

Forthcoming survey to draw a precise map of the country’s housing stock

There could be between five and six million empty homes in Spain, or over 20 percent of the total, some experts believe. To get a better picture of the state of Spain’s property sector following the crash, over 5,000 agents from the National Statistics Institute (INE) have taken to the streets to try to draw a precise map of the houses and apartments that are lived in and those that stand empty.

Ten years ago, a similar exercise yielded 3.1 million empty homes, or 15 percent of the total, but the figure is likely to be much higher now, experts warn. Between 1998 and 2007, the housing stock grew by 5.7 million, or nearly 30 percent.

“Knowing whether a dwelling is occupied or not is relatively easy, but knowing whether it is empty on a temporary basis is much harder. How do you know if it is a holiday home, if there is nobody there to tell you?” asks Antonio J. Argüeso, deputy director general of sociodemographic statistics at INE. The field work aims to count only those homes that are permanently shuttered, not second homes or those that are rented out to third parties.

When the work is done a few months from now, it should also confirm that 4.6 million housing units were built during the property bubble, while fewer than three million were sold.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Safety Trumps Yield in Euro Crisis: Investors Pay to Lend Germany Money

While many euro-zone nations are struggling to obtain credit, investors are practically throwing money at Germany. The country on Monday raised almost 4 billion euros in six-month debt at a negative interest rate. In effect, investors paid Germany to be able to lend it money. The move highlights the economic imbalances in crisis-ridden Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Ex-US Soldier Charged With Trying to Join Shebab

WASHINGTON — A former American soldier with specialist intelligence and cryptology training has been charged with trying to join Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants, US justice officials said Monday. Craig Baxam, a 24-year-old from the Maryland suburbs outside Washington, appeared briefly in court Monday near the US capital to hear charges that he attempted to join — and provide material support to — a terrorist group. Baxam, who served in Iraq and South Korea, was apprehended on December 23 aboard a bus near the Kenyan city of Mombasa with $600 to $700 in cash that he intended to give the Shebab as an introductory offer, prosecutors said. Baxam allegedly told FBI officers he wanted to die fighting for the Shebab “with a gun in my hand,” and replied “that is awesome” when informed that the militant group encouraged beating people who did not attend prayers.

Counter-terrorism experts have expressed growing concern about a steady stream of recruits, many of them British, making their way to Somalia to join the Shebab. An extremist accused of heading a wave of British recruits to the Shebab was arrested four days before Baxam in Mombasa. Baxam, who joined the US military in 2007, was deployed to Baghdad shortly after finishing eight months of advanced training for cryptology and intelligence. He returned home after his Iraq deployment and then re-enlisted before being deployed to South Korea for one year beginning in August 2010. According to court documents, it was in South Korea that he secretly converted to Islam after visiting an extremist website, quitting the army days later and returning to the United States in mid-2011.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Lehigh Valley Muslims Share American Experiences

Even though she and her siblings were the only Muslims in the East Penn School District, 36-year-old Sherrine Eid said her school experience was largely void of prejudice. That hasn’t been the case for Tahaa Shafi. While his school life has improved some since he moved into the Parkland School District where there are other Muslims, the 17-year-old said his years spent in the Northampton Area School District were pretty brutal. “I was constantly harassed for who I was,” he said. “I was constantly called a terrorist.”

This is what it’s like to be Muslim in America, Shafi and Eid told a group of 150 gathered Monday night at Wesley United Methodist Church in Bethlehem for the monthly meeting of Muslims and Christians United: A Lehigh Valley Initiative for Justice and Peace. The group was founded in the fall of 2010 by Wesley United Methodist, First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem and the Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley but Monday’s event also included members of several other Lehigh Valley churches and Muslim groups.

The seven Muslims who took part in the meeting’s panel discussion largely said they faced more prejudice following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the youngest participants like Shafi, who have lived most of their lives after the event, said they’ve faced the most discrimination. But it wasn’t across the board. Upper Macungie Township resident Nauman Islam said he initially feared moving to rural Alabama a month after Sept. 11, 2001, but found his patients to be welcoming. “Last name Islam — Dr. Islam — there I was going to the Alabama countryside one month after 9-11,” he said. Islam said he’s also had largely positive experiences living in Indiana, Utah and Buffalo, N.Y., as well. Forks Township resident Shahzid Ali said some of his co-workers stopped inviting him out to lunch after Sept. 11. He said his experiences with co-workers have largely improved since but another one recently advised him to shave the new beard he was growing. But Ali said he thinks the Muslims and Christians United group can help reduce such ignorance. “It gives experiences of what Muslims are going through in America,” he said.

The group planned Monday’s topic before the controversy erupted over Lowe’s home improvement store pulled its advertisements during the TLC show “All-American Muslim.” But members felt it was even more pressing to hold the panel discussion following the incident, group co-chairman Greg Cook said. “If nothing else, what happens demonstrates the importance of our group,” he said. “Groups like ours … we believe can increase understanding.” Choosing to wear a Hijab — a headscarf worn by traditional Muslim women — has likely contributed to the discrimination she’s faced, Lehigh University freshman Heba Elsayed said. But she said she’s recently realized her Hijab helps her be a positive public example of Muslims. “By wearing Hijab, you’re basically walking around with a sign saying you’re Muslim and how I act and how people view me is how people are going to view Islam,” she said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Man Arrested After Firing at Multiple Officers in Gadsden

GADSDEN, AL (WBRC) — A man from Albertville is being detained for attempting to murder multiple law enforcement officers early Sunday morning, according to Gadsden police. He has been identified as Luis Ibarra-Hernandez, age 21. An attempted murder warrant was obtained against Ibarra-Hernandez this afternoon.

Police say Ibarra-Hernandez lured officers to Alabama City west of Wall Street by shooting out store windows. He then opened fire on the officers for about 30 minutes before being pinned down and surrendering, Captain Regina May with the Gadsden Police Department said.

The incident began at approximately 1:25 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 8. Gadsden police officers responded to Rainbow Food Mart on West Meighan Blvd. after receiving an alarm call. They found nothing out of the ordinary after arriving, but shortly afterward another alarm call went out for the Auto Zone nearby on West Meighan Blvd.

Officers responded to the Auto Zone and discovered that the front door had been shattered by a bullet. After completing a police report at Auto Zone, police heard more gunfire in the area, May said. Another glass break alarm went off at the Rainbow Food Mart and officers observed glass had been broken from a gunshot.

As police completed their report on the Rainbow Food Mart incident, the officers saw a suspicious person lurking in the area around 2:55 a.m., according to May.

Ibarra-Hernandez ran from police and the officers pursued him on foot. More officers responded to the activity in the Alabama City area. While running through the streets and alleyways, the suspect opened fire on several of the law enforcement officers chasing him. Police officers took cover behind trees and vehicles and set up a perimeter around the suspect, May said. More law enforcement agencies arrived to the scene to offer support.

Officer Mitchell James, a trained crisis negotiator, responded to the scene after hearing radio traffic about the incident. He had been working off-duty security at the time of the reported gunfire but rushed to the scene and used his vehicle as a cover, May said. Officer James then took over the negotiations that another officer had begun with the suspect.

“Officer James was successful at having the suspect surrender without further incident,” May said in a release. The suspect was pinned down behind trees near 30th Street and Western Avenue and taken into custody.

“After the suspect was taken into custody, he reported that he knew he must do something extreme to draw attention to Islam and himself, so he planned to shoot police officers,” May said.

According to the investigation led by Detective Sergeant Tom Bradley, preliminary reports show that no Gadsden police officers returned fire on the suspect. The reports show that one Etowah County deputy returned fire after being fired upon. Bradley said the Gadsden officers showed “tremendous discipline by avoiding cross fires and considering backdrops.”

“We are very fortunate as a city and a police family that no officers were hurt or killed. Departmental training and sound supervision on the shift contributed to everyone going home unharmed,” May said.

Ibarra-Hernandez is being held in the Etowah County jail without bond.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Oklahoma Sharia Law Ban ‘Unconstitutional’, Court Rules

The US state of Oklahoma has been stopped from introducing a amendment to its constitution, stopping courts from considering Islamic law in judgements.

A federal court of appeals upheld a district judge’s decision to block the implementation of the amendment.

The ban on Islamic law was approved by 70% of voters in a referendum in 2010.

But it was challenged by a Muslim community leader who said the amendment violated his constitutional right to freedom of religion.

Muneer Awad, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Oklahoma, had filed a suit saying that the amendment would affect every aspect of his life, including his will and testament.

‘Pre-emptive strike’

The amendment read in part: “The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law”.

The author of the amendment, Republican state representative Rex Duncan, had argued that it was not intended as an attack on Muslims, but was rather a “pre-emptive strike” preventing the application of Sharia law.

But the appeals court backed an injunction imposed by Judge Vicky Miles-Lagrange shortly after the referendum in November 2010, and said Mr Awad had made a “strong showing” of potential harm should the amendment come into effect.

“When the law that voters wish to enact is likely unconstitutional, their interests do not outweigh Mr Awad’s in having his constitutional rights protected,” it said.

Speaking after Judge Miles-Lagrange’s decision in 2010, Mr Awad said her ruling had provided an opportunity to “demonstrate that Oklahoma’s Muslim community simply seeks to enjoy the civil and religious rights guaranteed to all Americans.”

           — Hat tip: DW[Return to headlines]

Panetta Says the US Will Continue to Field World’s Strongest Military

The US defense secretary has insisted that the country’s military will remain the world’s strongest despite cuts announced by President Barack Obama. In China, there is concern about the boosted focus on Asia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Anonymous Under Fire: Criticism Mounts Against Anti-Nazi Website

A group of online activists associated with the loose-knit hacker collective Anonymous has set its sights on Germany’s far-right scene. But its method of publishing private information in its raw form, creating the potential for further abuse, has drawn criticism from both its supporters and targets.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Antibiotic-Resistant Chicken Found in German Supermarkets

An environmental group has found large amounts of bacteria resistant to antibiotics in chicken meat bought in German supermarkets. Friends of the Earth say the findings show the perils of industrial farming.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

British Deputy PM: EU Veto is ‘Temporary’

BRUSSELS — British deputy leader Nick Clegg has predicted the UK will drop its veto on the EU fiscal compact, but urged Brussels not to go too far with reforms. Speaking to press after a meeting of Liberal politicians at Admiralty House, a historic building in the government district in London, on Monday (9 January), he said: “We believe (the new treaty) should, over time, be folded into the existing EU treaties so you don’t get a permanent two parallel treaties working separately from each other.”

He added: “We all see this as a temporary arrangement rather than one which creates a permanent breach at the heart of the EU … The language gets confusing. ‘Veto’ suggests something was stopped. It was not stopped. Actually something is carrying on which is a different agreement.” Clegg’s remarks come after British Prime Minister David Cameron at a summit last month blocked member states from adding new rules on fiscal discipline to the EU Treaty.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Czech Government Split on Religious Restitution

The Czech Republic’s coalition government is in danger of collapse over a junior party’s rejection of a plan to compensate religious organisations for property seized by the former Communist regime, Associated Press reports. The plan is part of the coalition agenda, but is now deemed unaffordable due to economic woes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Kurdish Station Fined 2.6m Kr for Promoting Terrorism

Roj TV hangs on to broadcasting license in spite of being judged the voice of the PKK

Copenhagen-based Kurdish TV station Roj TV was found guilty today of charges that it promoted terrorism. Roj TV, which transmits news cultural and children’s programming to an estimated 30 million Kurds worldwide, had been charged with promoting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organisation by the US, Canada and the EU.

But while the court found the station violates anti-terror law and will be fined 2.6 million kroner, it said the license cannot be revoked because of a technicality in how the charges were brought Prosecutors had demanded immediate closure of the station along with a fine of 20 million kroner for Roj TV and its parent company, Mesopotamia Broadcasting.

Roj TV’s attorney Bjørn Elmquist had first requested an acquittal. He subsequently argued that the station only be required to pay the fine under today’s judgment and be allowed to retain its license until the appeals process is over.

The decision drew protests from Turkey’s ambassador to Denmark, Ahmet Berki Dibek, who was in Copenhagen City Court to witness the verdict. Roj TV was indicted on August 15 on charges that it promoted terrorism through propaganda. The case marks the first time a Danish media organisation was prosecuted for terrorism.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Orders Hungary to Recover Airline Aid

The European Commission on Monday ordered Hungary to recover up to €120 million in “economic advantages” from airline Malev “in order to remedy the distortion of competition”. The Hungarian government in 2010 took a 95% stake in the former national airline after a failed privatisation in 2007.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

European Court Condemns Italy for Naples Trash Crisis

Rome to present new plan Monday

(ANSA) — Strasbourg, January 10 — The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday condemned Italy for the long-running trash crisis in the Campania region around Naples.

The court upheld an appeal from a couple in Somma Vesuviana near Naples, saying their right to safeguard their family had been breached since rubbish heaps first began to appear around their home in 1994.

But the court did not recognise a claim that the family’s health had been endangered, saying the conclusions of tests on an alleged rise in tumour rates had been “conflicting”.

Environment Minister Corrado Clini said Italy would present Brussels with a “comprehensive” plan Monday to resolve the refuse emergency, which is still festering despite repeated attempts to solve it.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: Muslim Bride Sues After Order to Remove Veil

A newly-wed Muslim couple are suing the mayor of Lyon after a local official insisted the bride remove her veil at the town hall wedding ceremony. The bride, identified only as Nassima A., was asked to remove a veil which was covering her hair during her wedding ceremony at a town hall in Lyon in June.

“Nassima thought it was an order and did not think twice about removing her veil. She thought she had to do it to get married and took it off in front of everybody,” says her lawyer Gilles Devers in an interview with the French daily Liberation. He says she felt humuliated during the ceremony. The deputy mayor of Lyon’s 9th district, Fatiha Ben Ahmed, who asked the bride to bare her hair, told the bride that she looked “very pretty” without a veil.

The couple are now suing the mayor of Lyon Gérard Collomb and demanding €50,000 in damages. The mayor says he is ready to negotiate with the couple and admits Ben Ahmed could have been more sensitive during Nassima’s wedding ceremony. After the incident the local official Ben Ahmed said she had acted to defend the rights of women.

In France, officials who conduct wedding ceremonies are required to check the identities of the bride and groom. However in this case, Nassima’s veil was not covering her face.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Jihadist Killer Deserves Life Say Prosecutors

A man who shot dead two American soldiers in Germany last March should go to jail for life, prosecutors demanded on Monday as a court heard closing arguments in his trial. Arid Uka, 21, who was born in Kosovo but grew up in Frankfurt, “wanted to make his personal contribution to the holy war” but not knowing how to get to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban, opted to act closer to home, the federal prosecutor told the court. He should serve at least the usual maximum sentence in Germany of 15 years, argued prosecutor Jochen Weingarten, saying the case involving two charges of murder and three of attempted murder was a particularly severe one.

Defence lawyer Michaela Roth did not contest Uka’s guilt but argued extenuating circumstances, describing the difficult background of the “shy, quiet and well meaning” young man who had never previously been aggressive and was “without future prospects.” The March 2 attack took place at Frankfurt airport, where Uka allegedly opened fire on a group of US soldiers on their way to fight in Afghanistan. Airmen Nicholas Jerome Alden, 25, and Zachary Ryan Cuddeback, 21, were killed. Two more soldiers were wounded.

Uka remained silent with his eyes lowered or closed at Monday’s hearing. At the opening of the trial in August, Uka confessed to the killings and said he wanted to apologise to his victims and their families for what he has called “total idiocy” that contradicted his religious beliefs. He said he was influenced by “lies” and “propaganda” after seeing a video on the Internet purporting to show US soldiers in Afghanistan raping a local woman. Roth has argued that the video may have brought back a childhood trauma to Uka, who she said was molested at the age of six.

Prosecutors believe Uka acted alone and did not belong to a terrorist network. They say he picked out a group of American soldiers who had just flown in from Britain and who were about to travel by bus to the US airbase at Ramstein where troops often take military transport to Iraq or Afghanistan. Uka is said to have cadged a cigarette from one of the soldiers and asked if they were on their way to Afghanistan. Prosecutors say when the American said yes, Uka loaded his pistol and followed the men towards the waiting army bus.

He fired into the back of the head of one soldier at point-blank range, killing him. Then, shouting “Allahu Akbar”, he rushed on to the bus and shot dead the 21-year-old driver before opening fire on two more soldiers, aged 21 and 25, who were both seriously injured, prosecutors say.

He is believed to have taken aim at another man cowering behind a seat, but his pistol misfired and he ran off into the airport terminal, pursued by a soldier. Police arrested him shortly afterwards. The killings have been regarded as the first motivated by Islamic extremism on German soil. A verdict is expected on January 19.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Undersecretary Resigns After Hotel-Bill Furore

Malinconico denies doing favours for probed businessman

(ANSA) — Rome, January 10 — Cabinet Undersecretary Carlo Malinconico resigned on Tuesday following a furore over hotel bills paid by a construction businessman who is under investigation for alleged corruption.

Malinconico said he had been unaware Francesco Maria De Vito Piscicelli has paid for some of his stays at a hotel in the Tuscan seaside resort of Porto Ercole until this was revealed by media reports and said he had “never done favours for the people involved”.

Malinconico stepped down from the helm of the Italian Newspaper Publishers Federation (FIEG) in November to be part of Premier Mario Monti’s emergency government of technocrats.

Piscicelli, who comes from an aristocratic Neapolitan family, is being probed for alleged irregularities regarding contracts for the 2009 G8 summit in L’Aquila.

He landed one of the lucrative contracts for building work for the 2009 World Swimming Championships in Rome, which have also been subject to investigation, shortly after Malinconico’s stay at the hotel in 2007. At the time Malinconico was an undersecretary in the Romano Prodi centre-left government that was in power from 2006 to 2008. Piscicelli hit the headlines when wiretaps leaked to the press revealed that he laughed at the prospect of winning contracts for reconstruction after the 2009 earthquake in Abruzzo, which killed 308 people.

The embattled businessman is also currently on trial for bribery to land the contract for a new Carabinieri training school on the outskirts of Florence.

Piscicelli has denied any wrongdoing.

He is also being probed for landed his helicopter on a public beach north of Rome to take his mother out to eat.

Piscicelli claimed dangerous winds forced an emergency landing but critics accused the wealthy contractor of flaunting his opulence at a time when most Italians are cutting back due to the euro crisis.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Leading MEP Wants Hungary Stripped of Rights

(BRUSSELS) — The European parliament’s centrist group aims to launch proceedings to strip Hungary of its EU rights to protest its controversial constitutional reforms, the leader of the group said Tuesday. Former Belgiam premier and leader of the Liberals and Democrats, Guy Verhofstadt, said in a speech that “I see no other option in the case of Hungary than to launch with the parliament the procedure foreseen in article 7” of the EU treaty.

The text enables the assembly in the case of risk of serious violation of European Union values to suspend the rights of a member state, including voting rights. But a four-fifths majority, or 22 of the 27 states, is required. “The Hungarian crisis is as important as the euro crisis,” Verhofstadt said in a speech scheduled for later Tuesday that was released by his office. “Both concern the credibility of our union in the eyes of our citizens.”

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has come under international fire over constitutional refoms adopted by his parliamentary majority. Critics say they remove checks and balances on the power of the government and increase Orban’s control over the judiciary and central bank, while skewering the electoral system in his party’s favour and curbing freedom of the press.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Ethnic Discrimination Rife Among Employers: Study

Job seekers with Norwegian names stand a much better chance of securing employment than applicants with more unfamiliar names, a new report has shown. Applicants with Pakistani names stand a 25 percent lesser chance of getting called to an interview, the study found. “This tells me we have a serious discrimination problem in Norwegian working life,” Equality Minister Audun Lysbakken told news agency NTB.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swiss National Bank Chief Resigns

Philipp Hildebrand resigned on Monday as chairman of the Swiss National Bank following allegations of insider trading that benefitted his wife. Hildebrand said he is innocent but noted it is “not possible to deliver a definite proof” that he did nothing wrong.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkish Ambassador Returns to Paris

Turkey’s ambassador to France, Tahsin Burcuoglu, has reportedly returned to Paris over the weekend, two weeks after being called back to Ankara in a row over the French National Assembly’s bill criminalising the denial of the Armenian genocide.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: 1960s Housing Estate, Robin Hood Gardens, To be Transformed

Plans for the transformation of a controversial 1960s housing estate in Poplar have been submitted to Tower Hamlets council.

Under proposals for the Blackwall Reach area Robin Hood Gardens will be demolished to make way for up to 1,700 new homes. Around 700 of the homes, some of which will also be located at nearby Woolmore Street, Mackrow Walk, and Anderson House, will be for social rent and shared ownership. The scheme also promises improved community facilities, open space, new shops, a relocated mosque and an expanded school. Tower Hamlets Mayor, Lutfur Rahman, said: “The Blackwall Reach project is truly exciting. It will enable us to deliver a net gain of affordable homes, including many family homes, to meet the growing need in the borough.” The plans were developed by the council and the Homes and Communities Agency in partnership with Swan Housing Association in consultation with the local community.

[JP note: Mr Extremist Links has his fingers in many pies.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: City’s Proposals to Ban Foreign Students From Shops to Cut Thefts Branded Racist and Ridiculous

Foreign students should be restricted from entering shops in groups to cut thefts according to a proposal which was yesterday branded ‘racist and ridiculous’.

The suggestion to limit the students’ access to stores while they study in the UK included in a report aimed at fighting crime.

But yesterday officials behind the report distanced themselves from the plan and claimed it was not supposed to be made public.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Five Men on Trial in Derby for Urging Execution of Gays

Five men are to go on trial on Monday accused of stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation in the first prosecution of its kind.

Ihjaz Ali, 42, Mahboob Hassain, 45, and Umer Javed, 38, first appeared in court last January to face the charges.

Two other men, Razwan Javed, 28, and Kabir Ahmed, 27, were also charged with the same offence.

The charges related to an allegation that the men handed out a leaflet called “The Death Penalty?” outside a mosque in Derby, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

The leaflet is understood to have called for homosexuals to be executed.

CPS lawyer Sue Hemming said: “The charges relate to the distribution of a leaflet, “The Death Penalty?”, outside the Jamia Mosque in Derby in July 2010 and through letterboxes during the same month.

“This is the first ever prosecution for this offence and it is the result of close working between the Crown Prosecution Service and Derbyshire Police.”

The men will go on trial at Derby Crown Court today.

Ali, Hassain and Umer Javed are charged with three counts each of an offence of sending letters with intent to cause distress or anxiety under section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988, the CPS said.

Ali is also charged with three offences, contrary to section 5 (b) of the Public Order 1986, in relation to the distribution of leaflets outside the Jamia Mosque.

He faces a further four counts of distributing threatening written material intending to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, contrary to section 29C (1) of the Public Order Act 1986.

Hassain and Umer Javed are both also charged with two counts each contrary to section 29C (1) of the Public Order Act 1986.

Razwan Javed and Ahmed are both charged with one count each contrary to section 29C (1) of the Public Order Act 1986.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: Gang Imported Up to 158,000 Pairs of Counterfeit Trainers Alone

A senior detective attacked Britain’s ‘Only Fools and Horses’ culture today after a gang was found guilty of running a fake goods empire worth tens of millions of pounds.

Detective Superintendent Dave Clark warned the public to shun market ‘knock-offs’ as four men face jail after attempting to flood the country with counterfeit products.

Zoheir Habet, 41, Maroud Abad, 39, Elies Dehimi, 47 and Sid Dehimi, 24, were the UK arm of a criminal network shipping the fake goods from China.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Lutfur Rahman Councillor Convicted of Second Benefit Fraud

A key supporter of Tower Hamlets’ extremist-linked mayor, Lutfur Rahman, today pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly claiming housing and council tax benefits — the second time she has been convicted of such offences. Councillor Shelina Akhtar failed to turn up in court at the start of the case today, claiming that she was unwell and unfit to stand trial, but the judge dismissed her claim and issued a warrant for her arrest. When she finally appeared this afternoon, Judge Platt told her: “I make you no promises today. This is the second time you have committed fraud against the state regarding benefits to which you are not entitled. The court needs to know more before deciding on the appropriate sentence.” Akhtar cheated the taxpayer of just over £1100 in benefits. She will be sentenced next month.

The prosecutor, Michelle Fawcett, said: “She is a local councillor and the case, therefore, was more serious. This defendant has previous convictions for identical matters.”

In 2010 Akhtar, of Blackwall Way, was handed 100 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £250 costs after being found guilty of dishonestly claiming jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit during a case at Thames Magistrates’ Court. Akhtar is one of eight Tower Hamlets councillors who were expelled from the Labour Party after deciding to support Lutfur, who was sacked as Labour’s candidate for mayor for his close links to an extremist Muslim group, the Islamic Forum of Europe. Lutfur took the Telegraph to the Press Complaints Commission — and lost — after we described Akhtar as a “Lutfur Rahman councillor.” He tried to claim that she was not connected to him. (He has also tried to claim that he is not linked to extremism — he lost that complaint, too.) Interestingly, Ted Jeory has discovered that even after her first conviction and her arrest on this second set of charges, Akhtar claims in her official council engagement log to have attended 34 hours of “group meetings” of the Rahman-supporters and 38 hours of “mayoral engagements” with Mr Extremist Links himself.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Khalique Miah Jailed for Holding Ex-Wife Zahanara Begum Prisoner in the Toilet

A devout Muslim held his ex-wife prisoner on the toilet for an hour and physically assaulted her as punishment for wearing Western clothes.

Khalique Miah has been jailed for 18 months for the attack on Zahanara Begum.

She was on the loo when her former husband burst in dressed in black, wielding a hammer and referring to her underwear as ‘Satan’.

Miah, 35, covered her mouth with a gloved hand to stop her screaming, punched her in the chest and stomach then climbed on top of her, holding her in place, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

He started haranguing her about her plucked eyebrows, shaved legs and highlighted hair, telling her she should not wear Western clothes and calling her knickers ‘Satan’.

The couple’s three-year-old daughter woke up and started crying, but Miah refused to let Mrs Begum go and comfort her.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Plans Submitted for 1,700 Homes Blackwall Reach Regeneration

A planning application for a London estate regeneration project that would see up to 1,700 homes built has been submitted to Tower Hamlets Council. The outline planning application — submitted by Swan Housing association and Countryside Property — promotes the transformation of the Blackwall Reach area. The plans comprise up to 1,700 new homes — including 700 for social rent and shared ownership. They also propose to transform the Robin Hood Gardens area by replacing homes for council tenants and homeowners living there. The project would include new public facilities, a new open space, new shops, a relocated mosque and funding to expand a local school. It also aims to improve transport connections.

The planning application has been developed in consultation with the local community by the council and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) — in partnership with Swan and Countryside.

The HCA says that, if given the go-ahead, the project would include the “highest sustainability and construction principles”. Mayor Lutfur Rahman, Tower Hamlets Council, said: “The Blackwall Reach project is truly exciting. It will enable us to deliver a net gain of affordable homes, including many family homes, to meet the growing need in the borough. “This project continues to place Tower Hamlets at the forefront of social housing: from the first social housing estate in England, the Boundary Estate, to a high level of Decent Homes investment, we continue to buck the national trend in providing affordable, high standard homes to our residents.” Jackie Jacob, HCA London Director, said: “We believe that the outline application represents an excellent opportunity to improve the quality of life for local people in the Blackwall Reach area. The proposal corresponds with our commitment to supporting the highest quality design and putting residents’ needs at the forefront of delivering new homes.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Prophet’s Biography Led Me to Islam

Before I was Muslim I was what you could classify as a “typical British lad”. I used to go out drinking on a Saturday evening, and all that kind of thing. Then about five years ago, I was going on holiday to Greece. When you go to an airport, you’ve got loads of books packed in your backpack for you to read from, and then you go sitting by the side of the swimming pool with a large bear, sun-bathing and reading a book, and you would never have too many books! I thought I would go to WHSmith and pick up a good book I could read, and I couldn’t find anything. I got my rucksack on my back, and as I turned around to leave, I knocked the bookshelf and all the books fell off. Not wanting to be a bit awkward, so I picked everything up, and the books were all one book, and it was by a western author, called Barnaby Rogerson, and he wrote a book called “The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography”. I read the first page and it looked interesting. I read the second page. Took it to the counter, I bought it and took it on holiday with me. So I read the book, and I thought “Yeah I want to learn more.” So I came back, and I started to go to the local mosque, and I spoke to them and I said I wanted to learn more. And the Imam, who took my shahadah, said “Well to tell you the truth, the best way to understand Islam is to become a Muslim.” I didn’t think twice about it. I just took my shahadah there and then.


[JP note: By the Prophet’s beard!]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Paedophile With One Million Sickening Images of Child Abuse Spared Jail

A paedophile found with the largest ever haul of child pornography ever seized by Scotland Yard has been spared jail.

More than one million child porn images were seized at the home of 57-year-old Robert Barrow.

However, Barrow who admitted seven counts of making indecent images of children and two counts of possessing child porn with intent to distribute it was spared jail because he is a full-time carer to his 86-year-old mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and chronic arthritis.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Wall Street Journal Launches German Edition

The Wall Street Journal launched a German edition on Tuesday, breaking into the German business news market with what its editor promised would be a new, international, perspective. “We asked hundreds of our potential readers what they lack at present in the German business press. The answer came loud and clear: A global perspective not only on what happens in Germany, but also on the latest events in Washington, London, Tokyo and in the emerging markets of Asia or Latin America,” wrote Wall Street Journal Deutschland editor Knut Engelmann.

The new edition, which is only on the internet, follows several other forays by the Rupert Murdoch-owned American newspaper into foreign markets — the Journal has English-language editions targeted toward Asia, Europe and India and runs Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish websites.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Why Swiss Gun Love is Coming Under Fire

Almost two centuries have passed since Switzerland last fought in a war, yet the country’s gun ownership rate remains the highest in Europe. After a series of gun-related killings at the end of last year, The Local’s Meritxell Mir looks at what’s being done to get fingers off triggers. Every year, more than 300 people die in Switzerland in gun-related incidents. In many ways, the figure is quite low, when one considers the country has about 2.5 million weapons in private hands — giving it the highest per capita rate of gun ownership in Europe, and the fourth highest in the world.

In the last two months of 2011, however, shots rang out with alarming frequency in a country where around 30 percent of all households keep guns and rifles in their cabinets. In early November, a 23-year-old man killed his girlfriend using his army assault rifle in the village of Saint-Leonard. The vicious crime sparked fervent debate about the lax monitoring of repeat offenders.

After that, the tragic tales began to tumble in thick and fast: Victim shot dead by stranger at Geneva shopping centre; Young man killed in accidental shooting; Evicted tenant kills neighbour with hunting rifle. But in a country that cherishes its centuries-old firearms tradition, gun control is a touchy subject.

“The Swiss have this romantic idea of their culture, in the sense that they have to have the means to protect their independence, and everyone is like a citizen soldier,” explains Philip Jaffé, a Geneva-based psychologist who often works with the police in forensic crime investigations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Bosnia: Criticism on 20th Anniversary Republika Srpska

Serbs committed horrible crimes, Muslim leader Izetbegovic

(ANSAmed) — SARAJEVO/BELGRADE, JANUARY 10 — Bakir Izetbegovic, Muslim member of the Bosnian three-party presidency, has harshly criticised the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Republika Srpska (RS, entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina with a Serb majority). The event was celebrated yesterday in Banja Luka, and Serbia’s President Boris Tadic was one of the speakers. “The expulsion of the Muslim and Croat population from the area went together with horrible crimes and detention camps, culminating in the Srebrenica massacre”, said Izetbegovic.

“Nobody should be proud of this anniversary, not the Serbs in Bosnia nor their leaders or President Boris Tadic”, added the Muslim politician, quoted by the FENA agency. Tadic has said that Serbs, both in Serbia and in the Republika Srpska, have a right to defend their legitimate interests and their national identity. The Republika Srpska was created on January 9 1992, a few months before the start of the Bosnian war (1992-1995). The initiative was taken by the People’s Assembly, in response to the will of the Muslim and Croatian part of the population to proclaim the independence of Bosnia from the Federation of Yugoslavia. This independence was ratified in a referendum that was held between the end of February and the first of March 1992, boycotted by most Serbs. The armed conflict that would cause the death of 100,000 people and make 2 million homeless broke out soon after. The legality of the Republika Srpska was later confirmed in the Dayton agreements that ended the war in November 1995. The agreements stated that Bosnia and Herzegovina are formed by two entities — the Republika Srpska and the Croatian-Muslim Federation — and three peoples: Muslims, Serbs and Croats.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Kosovo: Risk of Radical Islam, Says Ambassador to Italy

(by Cristiana Missori) (ANSAmed) — PRISTINA, JANUARY 10 — Four years on from its independence, Kosovo is attempting to reaffirm its native traditions and is calling on the West for help to avoid being swallowed by the slow advance of radical Islam, which is taking advantage of tolerant traditions. The scenario is one of inter-religious dialogue that is progressing at its own slow pace, without making any fuss and seeking to keep its distance from politics, and of a moderate Islamic tradition at risk of Wahabite contagion. As Don Lush Gjergji, Vicar General of the Catholic Church in Kosovo, explained to ANSAmed, “the issues that Kosovo has to tackle are mainly economic in nature. The true problem is the high level of unemployment affecting the population”.

Don Lush speaks about the religious tensions, but without highlighting them. “Inter-religious dialogue is proceeding both with the Orthodox Church and with the Muslims”. As the bishop points out, just a couple of months ago he held a meeting “with the Grand Muftì of Kosovo, Naim Ternava and the Orthodox Bishop of Raska and Prizren, Teodosije Sibalic”. Speaking of a duty to provide a good example and to extinguish any tensions between Orthodox Christians and Muslims, he said, “it is up to the sister churches to show this Christian attitude, allowing others to be themselves. It is indeed impossible to exclude those who do not belong to our own community”, Don Lush said. He recalled how only 3 percent of Kosovo’s population is Catholic. So how is it possible to persuade the monks of Peja/Pec and Decani to leave their monasteries? “They have to overcome their fear,” the Bishop replied. “The monks of Decani have started learning Albanian. This gives us hope of a normalisation of relations between Serbs and Albanians”. The General Secretary of Kosovo’s Muslim community, Resul Rexepji, confirmed the excellent relations with the Catholic Church and spoke of a small opening of relations with the Orthodox Church. “In the past, relations were difficult. But now things appear to have improved. Politics should keep out of inter-religious relations”. As Rexepji pointed out, the country’s Muslim community includes Albanians, Turks, Bosnians, Bektashis and Roma. Today, Kosovo can boast of 760 mosques, while there were only 550 before the war. Unlike other countries, there are clear rules relating to sermons. “In order to become an Imam, you need to have attended a madrasa, to have absolved a competitive process, and entered into a faculty of Islamic studies”. Kosovo society also lives its religious nature in a different way to the Arab Muslims. Here, the great feast of Bairam (the Feast of the Sacrifice), is celebrated by drinking rakìa (an alcoholic spirit similar to grappa). There are few veils, long beards or traditional garments to be seen and it is the Muslims themselves that produce the wine and beer they consume — mainly in the Suhareke and Rahovec areas of the Prizren district. Another distinctive element is the presence of a Sufi brotherhood (a mystic sect within Islam), which is not just tolerated, but takes an active role in Kosovo’s religious life. The most important of these is the tekke halveti of Prizren, which has a following of 15,000 and has been practising its faith since 1713. As the General Secretary of the Muslim community concludes: “We are not in agreement with the Muslim faith as it is practised in Arab countries and we do not intend to go in that direction. For this reason, we are concerned about the advance of radical Islam in our country”. For now, only a few have fallen under the spell of the so-called “Taleban of the Balkans,” Fuad Ramiqi, who, through his organisation, ‘Bashkohu’ (Let us unite), preaches the total conversion of the state to Islam. But then? “If the West were to leave us alone,” the Kosovo Ambassador to Italy, Albert Prenkaj, never tires of saying “our country would risk becoming a pupil of the more fanatical Islamic countries”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Magnate Sawiris to Stand Trial for Insulting Religion

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JANUARY 9 — Egyptian businessman Nabuib Sawiris has been ordered to stand trial for insulting religion by public prosecutors, report legal sources. The trial stems from a report filed by Salafi lawyer Mamdouh Ismail against Sawiris for posting an Islamic image of Mickey and Minnie Mouse on Twitter at the end of June. The Egyptian billionaire apologised for the images and removed them after the wave of controversy that followed, but it was not enough for the individual filing the complaint. The Free Egyptians Party, founded by Sawiris, is currently engaged in the first parliamentary elections of the post-Mubarak era. Runoff voting for the third round of voting will take place in the next two days, and until now the party has won 32 seats, placing them third behind the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi Party.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

German Support for New North Africa Underlined

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has thrown strong support behind North Africa’s emerging democracies during an historic visit to Algeria, Libya and Tunisia, saying Germany wants to play a key role in helping them succeed. Westerwelle, who wrapped up his weekend trip with a visit to Tunisia’s capital Tunis on Monday, singled out the country for particular praise, calling it a potential “model,” despite European concerns that Islamic parties are growing in strength there.

“I think the concerns have absolutely no justification,” Westerwelle said. “Tunisia can become a model for transformation in the region if it succeeds in perpetuating the fledgling democratization process”

Germany has pledged €32 million in aid to Tunisia and is helping the country reschedule €60 million in debt, said Westerwelle, who also called for deepening economic ties between the two countries. Westerwelle’s travels have been portrayed as an important signal that Berlin is willing to invest key resources in the attempt to help democratic governments in North Africa.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Moroccan Imams Call for Freedom to Preach

Tight government controls on religious preaching in Morocco has led to a surprising wave of protest among the country’s imams. The resulting dismissals of the leading dissenters has sent shockwaves through the provinces.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Washington Reaches Out as Egyptian Islamists Extend Lead

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has increased its lead in the final round of the parliamentary elections. With the Islamists about to dominate Egypt’s political landscape, the US is adjusting to new realities.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Devil in Details of Egypt Brotherhood’s Party Platform

Mideast: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insists Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood seeks “democratic reforms” and sees no reason not to engage its newly formed party. Has she read its platform? Banned under President Hosni Mubarak, the radical Brotherhood has emerged as a major winner from the rioting that exiled the U.S. ally. Now the Obama administration is breaking with policy and formally reaching out to the group. It claims the Brotherhood, now operating as the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), has renounced violence and terror. It accepts assurances from its leaders that they’ll build a modern democracy respecting human rights, free trade and Israel’s right to exist. But details in the FJP’s election manifesto make these assumptions seem dangerously naive. They hint that the new Islamist regime will act oppressively at home and recklessly abroad. Red flags pop up throughout the 160-page document, including:

  • The party will focus on “national security issues and vital issues of the nation such as the cause of Palestine … and the problems of Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan, believing that Egypt’s national security will only be achieved by carrying out its role in the Arab and Islamic region, in response to the Zionist and American plots and plans.” It also calls for cutting off oil and gas supplies to “the Zionist occupiers of Palestine.” The Brotherhood created Hamas. For all its talk of renouncing violence, the Associated Press recently reported that it continues to back the terror group against Israel. The group’s deputy chief says it “will not recognize Israel under any circumstances” and plans to put Egypt’s 30-year peace treaty with Israel to a vote. Will it also support Hezbollah and al-Qaida in the region?
  • FJP will base Egypt’s new constitution on Shariah, or Islamic law, while making “the religion of Islam the supreme authority.” Shariah will be “its frame (of) reference and the source to its articles and the subsequent changes in the legal system.” Shariah is the barbaric legal code practiced in Saudi Arabia that beheads Muslims who deny the faith and amputates the hands of thieves, among other cruel and unusual punishments. This is a prescription for a theocracy with little if any separation of religion and state.
  • The enlightened party also vows to ensure women’s rights — but only when they are “consistent with the values of Islamic law, maintaining the balance between their duties and rights.” In other words, they will be subject to the misogynistic code of Islamic law, which enforces a strict dress and travel code for women. It also denies them equal rights in marriage, divorce, inheritance, child custody and court testimony. The Brotherhood, which has no female leaders, has said women are unfit to assume Egypt’s presidency.
  • In a veiled reference to Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the party notes that “Shariah regulates various aspects of life for Muslims and their non-partners in the homeland.” The regulation of non-Muslims under Shariah law amounts to second-class citizenship.
  • In addition to banning pornography and other unspecified Internet content, the FJP also calls for a “prohibition” of interest and credit — one of the cornerstones of capitalism. Instead, it seeks to promote Islamic banking.

Bear in mind that this is what can be gleaned from the English version of the FJP’s platform. Its Arabic version is no doubt more revealing. Before the election, the Brotherhood struck from its English website bylaws calling for “establishing the Islamic state,” or caliphate. And after Osama bin Laden was killed, it told English audiences it was a good thing for peace. But in Arabic, the Brotherhood praised the terrorist as a “martyr” in Arabic and condemned his “assassination.” The Brothers are masters of duplicity and deception. And it looks like they’ve suckered Clinton and her diplomats.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

EU to Speed Up Decision on Iran Oil Ban

EU foreign ministers are to decide earlier than planned on a possible oil embargo on Iran, Reuters reports EU diplomats as having said Monday. Ministers are now to meet on 23 January instead of 30 January, so as to not overshadow a summit of EU leaders on the later date.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iran and the West Rediscover Oil as Weapon

Four decades after the 1973 oil shock, Iran and the West are once again embracing oil as a weapon. Tehran is threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz, while the industrialized countries are considering a boycott of Iranian oil. But both sides will suffer if such tactics are used.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iran: ‘Very Grave Concern’ On Nuclear Programme Says Italy

Rome ‘will back tough and lasting sanctions’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 10 — Iran’s decision to start uranium enrichment at a nuclear plant outside Qom is “a source of very serious concern and merits the firmest condemnation,” the Italian foreign ministry said Tuesday.

Spokesman Maurizio Massari said “Tehran, unfortunately, is showing it wants to move in the opposite direction from that indicated by the resolutions of (International Atomic Energy Agency) IAEA and the United Nations”.

“It is inevitable at this point that the pressure on Iran will be exercised through a reinforcement of the regime of sanctions with measures aimed at depriving Tehran of the means to continue its nuclear activities (which are) contrary to international legality,” Massari went on.

“In the face of Iran’s persistent refusal to accept the negotiated dialogue proposed by the international community, Italy will support, with its main European and international partners, the adoption of tough and lasting sanctions,” he concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tourism: Investments; Dubai Eyes Turkey

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, JANUARY 10 — Dubai’s Jumeirah group, the largest tourism company in the Middle East and owner of some of the most expensive hotels in the city, including the first seven-star hotel in the world (the Burj Al Arab Emirates Tower, also known as “The Sail”), has recently shown interest in investing in Turkey. According to statements made by the owner of Istanbul’s historic Pera Palace Hotel, Demet Sabanci Cetindogan, an agreement has already been drawn up with Jumeirah to lease management of the hotel in 2012, even though the terms of the transaction have not yet been made official (as concerns duration and price). Meanwhile, also the Dubai Business Counci (DBC), which manages the funds of the royal families of Gulf states and the UAE, is planning to invest 2.5 billion dollars in Turkey. The latter’s chairman, Suleyman Tasci, has said that the DBC plans to invest initially in the city of Bodrum (an important Turkish seaside resort town on the Aegean Sea) through the creation of a hotel, shopping centre, residence and small port. But in addition to the tourism sector — as can be seen in a statement from the trade office of the Italian embassy in Ankara — in Dubai investments are being planned in Turkey also in such sectors such as construction, food, aviation and energy. On this front, the DBC is reportedly seeking to create strategic alliances with the Turkish energy ministry and with local companies connected with the sector.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UAE: Copts Thank Muslims for Christmas Spirit

ABU DHABI // The head of Abu Dhabi’s Coptic church has thanked Muslims who took part in its Christmas celebrations for their show of mutual understanding and respect in the face of recent religious conflict in Egypt. Esehak Anba Bishoy, priest of St Antonious Coptic Orthodox Church, said that although Muslims always attended the January 7 Christmas ceremony, more than usual did so this year. “They usually always come, but they didn’t used to light the candles,” he said. “Yesterday they did, and in public. It was nice participation, to see how much they cared, especially after what happened last year in Egypt.”

On October 9, violent clashes broke out in Egypt when thousands of Coptic Christians marched to the state television building to protest against the burning of a church. The clashes left 26 dead and hundreds injured. Father Bishoy said he received condolences from many officials in the UAE during that time, including the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash. “[Officials] in the UAE have always joined us in the good times and the bad times,” he said. “They would come to every celebration we had and also share the sadness we had. The tolerance in the UAE is beyond tolerance in many other countries for religion.” He said the UAE’s interfaith policy allowed followers of any religion to practise freely. “They have only been kind to us,” he said. “They gave us land and helped build this church. Their tolerance is only increasing with time.” Before the church was built in 2007, Coptic Egyptians — of whom there are more than 15,000 in the country — held services in rooms rented by the hour from Anglican churches.


[JP note: Dhimmis.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

How German Diplomats Opened Channel to Taliban

After months of secret negotiations, the Taliban are opening a political office in Qatar, a first step toward peace talks between the US and the group. The breakthrough was largely due to painstaking German diplomacy. But it could be years before the initiative bears fruit.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: 40 Muslim Youths Arrested for ‘Moral Policing’ In Nizamabad

Hyderabad: Many Muslim youths in Nizamabad town of Andhra Pradesh have been arrested for their alleged moral policing. Since April 2011, when the first incident of moral policing took place, as many as 40 Muslim youths have been arrested and booked under serious charges. After arrest, they have been brutally beaten in police custody. According to the police some Muslim youths in the town have formed a gang called “bin laden group” and they are threatening inter religious couples or Hindu youths with Muslim girls. According to the police inspector of Nizamabad town’s remand case dairy, there have been five FIRs registered in relation to this type of incidents in police stations of town. FIR no.s are 35/2011 (16-04-2011), 312/2011 (5-09-2011), 314/2011 (6-09-2011), 351/2011 (29-09-2011), 474/2011 (26-12-2011). The cases are booked under sec 109, 147, 148, 153, 290, 323, 324, 341, 354, 363, 384, 448, 506, 153[A] r/w 34&149 of I.P.C. against those Muslim youths who were doing moral policing. According to the police inspector, in one such case Jami Srinivas Rao, a 2nd year student on 5-9-2011 came to Nizamabad town to buy some articles. On the bus stop at 4 p.m he met his class mate Nazma. Because the bus was late they went to ice cream parlor situated near the bus stop. Then some Muslim youths came in the parlor and alleged that he is rounding along with their community girl and beat him with hands, snatched away his cell phone, then they called an auto rickshaw and ‘kidnapped’ Nazma and took her in their auto to her hostel. Inspector stated till now 6 youths have been arrested and 4 are absconding in this particular case. He wrote in his remand case dairy before Addl Judicial Magistrate Nizamabad that if the accused are not punished there is every possibility of them to commit this type of cognizable offences again.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

Chinese Tree Extract Stops Rats Getting Drunk

For hardened drinkers, it sounds too good to be true: a natural substance that keeps them sober no matter how much they drink, neutralises hangovers and eventually breaks the cycle of alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is a huge problem globally, killing 2.5 million people a year according to the World Health Organization. There has been serious research recently looking for drugs that stop people drinking, or at least encourage them to drink less.

Extracts of a Chinese variety of the oriental raisin tree (Hovenia dulcis) could be the answer. The extracts have been used for 500 years to treat hangovers in China. Now dihydromyricetin (DHM), a component of the extract, has proved its worth as an intoxication blocker in a series of experiments on boozing rats. It works by preventing alcohol from having its usual intoxicating effects on the brain, however much is in blood.

Soon, a preparation containing DHM will be tested for the first time in people. “I would give it to problem drinkers who can’t resist going to the pub and drinking,” says pharmacologist Jing Liang of the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the research team.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Korea Celebrates ‘The Genius of Geniuses’

On the day he is believed to have turned 29, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been hailed in the state media as a military ‘genius,’ but there has been no official celebration of his birthday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Mutilated Wallaby Found in Elermore Vale.

On Saturday, 7th January I received a distressed phone call from an Elermore Vale resident who wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, namely due to possible retribution for coming forward with this shocking information.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, fire fighters rushed to Elermore Vale Shopping car park to extinguish a car fire. The fire brigade stumbled across a mutilated brushed tailed wallaby. The disfigured Wallaby had its throat cut and also had its tongue cut off. The mutilated wallaby lay near a loading dock of Elermore Vale shopping centre.

Word spread quickly throughout Elermore Vale about the mutilated wallaby found in Elermore Vale shopping centre car park. Even though the attack took place in the early hours of the morning many curious residents went to the car park to verify this most heinous act of cruelty.

I have also received other phone calls verifying this most cruel act. The residents I have spoken to believe the mutilated wallaby was a possible revenge attack for the recent attack on the Wallsend mosque by drunken teenagers however there is no evidence to support this claim.

Tensions are high in the Elermore Vale community due to the mega-mosque proposal. Local residents have consistently opposed construction of the mosque in Elermore Vale. So far the Newcastle Council has received over 1,390 submissions and ALL were opposed to the mosque proposal

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

New Zealand: High-Flying Shark Makes Pilot Look Twice

Inflatable sharks that were a hit at Christmas are heading for the exits around the country and flying off into the wild blue yonder. Reports of escaping sharks have come in from homes as far apart as Auckland and Riverton in Southland. The issue first drew attention when the pilot of a passenger jet on his descent to Christchurch International Airport on Boxing Day radioed ground control with a sighting of a shark flying at several thousand feet. The fish out of water was identified as a remote-controlled, helium-filled shark that has topped must-have present lists this Christmas.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Rogues’ Gallery: The Convicts of Early Australia

Between 1788 and 1868, 170,000 men and women were sent from England or its colonies to the penal settlement in Australia. Depending on when and where they were sent, these convicts experienced a wide range of conditions and treatment—some were rapidly granted parole and given free land, while others were subjected to corporal punishment and solitary confinement. Many of them eventually established families and businesses and became the working class of a successful colony and a modern nation (see “Australia’s Shackled Pioneers,” July/August 2011). Others, however, such as the men depicted here, were rogues who bounced in and out of the penal system for most of their adult lives. Very few photos exist from the convict period, but the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority in Tasmania maintains a collection convict portraits, most from later in the convict era, when photography was available. These short bios were assembled by Julia Clark and the portraits supplied by Susan Hood, both of the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: Boko Haram Attack Claims 12 in Adamawa

YOLA — Gunmen, suspected to be members of Boko Haram, yesterday, attacked Christ Apostolic Church in Yola, Adamawa State capital, killing 11 worshippers. Another member died in hospital from bullet wounds. News of the shooting made residents, mostly non-indigenes, to flee their homes in the night and seek refuge at the General Jalo Army Barracks, Yola, for fear of being killed. Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, campaigned for the re-election of Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State despite the nationwide strike called by labour over the recent increase in petrol price. It was learnt that the unknown gunmen, who rode on motorcycles, entered the church and opened fire on the worshippers. 11 members reportedly died on the spot and several others sustained bullet wounds.

One of the wounded church members reportedly died later, bringing the number of those who died to 12, even as five others are in critical conditions at the Specialist Hospital, Yola.

Last Friday, 12 mourners were killed in Mubi, the commercial nerve centre of the state by suspected members of Boko Haram sect. Those killed were allegedly holding a meeting on how to raise money to convey home the remains of three of their relatives earlier shot dead by members of the sect on Thursday before they were attacked. Police in the state said they were investigating the incidents.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Mosque Attacked in Benin City as Nationwide Strike Grips Nigeria

Violence broke out in the Nigerian southern city of Benin during a nationwide strike on Monday over soaring fuel prices which paralysed the country with road, sea and air traffic at a standstill.

The industrial action follows a controversial government decision to end fuel subsidies from 1 January which has seen fuel prices more than double in Africa’s largest oil producer.

At least 10 people are reported to have been injured when protestors attacked a mosque in the city. An appeal by President Goodluck Jonathan on national television on Saturday to win support for the government move was rejected by the unions. Promise Adewusi, Deputy President of Nigeria Labour Congress, said the strike was the result of bad governance and the action would continue until there was a reversal of the pump price increase. “It’s been totally, totally successful. Nigerians have never witnessed a thing like it in the culture and history of their struggles,” he told RFI . “Everything is down, completely. It’s an indefinite strike, we don’t know how long this will last.”

There was massive security in the capital Abuja after protests last week became increasingly volatile with police firing tear gas and accused of using excessive force. Security forces are already under pressure over violence blamed on Islamist Group Boko Haram. Recent deadly attacks on Christians have sparked fears of a wider religious conflict in a country which is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and a Christian south. The government says it spent more than six billion euros on subsidies in 2011 and President Jonathan says everyone must be prepared to make sacrifices to save the country. But Nigerians view the subsidies as their only benefit from the nations’s oil wealth and are mistrustful of the government after years of corruption.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Reverend’s ‘Kill Whites’ Tweet a Shocker

A REVEREND used Twitter at the weekend to call for white people in South Africa to be killed.

The man singled out Helen Zille as among those who should be killed.

The Reverend Kemo Immanuel Waters runs a business called the KemoTherapy Institute of Truth

At 1.33am, the reverend wrote: “The only way to end racism is to kill a material number of whites. @helenzille your indifferent and patronizing stance is a double dare…”

The tweet caused an uproar, with many responding angrily.

I will never take it back and I will never apologise,” he added.

Waters said he had been upset after his family had been made to sit at the bar in a busy restaurant in Camps Bay, Cape Town, for half an hour.

“In Joburg, you can go anywhere and you feel welcome.”

Waters said he would never kill anyone but knew black people who would.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Uganda: Muslims Factions’ Row Over Slaughter Rights

A ROW has erupted in Luweero between Muslims loyal to the mainstream Mufti , Shaban Mubajje and those belonging to the Kibuli-based rival Mufti Zubair Kayongo’s faction, over which side has the right to slaughter animals in the District. Each of the two sides has installed their District and sub-county slaughter officers, in the wrangle which has escalated into hot verbal exchanges, prompting the District security committee to intervene on Thursday. The wrangle which started around Christmas time, was after the Old Kampala based Mainstream faction loyal to Mufti Ramathan Mubajje ,replaced Sheikh Issa Sentoogo, whom the Kayongo’s faction had installed as the District slaughter officer with Yasin Doka who is pro- Mubajje. After being appointed the pro-Mubajje District slaughter officer, Yasin Doka went ahead to appoint Issa Matovu as the sub-county slaughter officer for Kikyusa sub-county in Bamunanika county, replacing Muihammad Lukwago who had been appointed by the pro-Kayongo faction. An impromptu meeting to resolve the dispute, which was convened by the Luweero Resident District Commissioner, Paul Lubowa, yielded no fruits after the two sides failed to reach a compromise. The pro-Kayongo Moslems argued that the Old-Kampala based Mubajje faction had no right to impose officials ion them, while those of Mubajje faction, accused their Kayongo counterparts of lacking legitimacy. It was resolved during the meeting which was held in the Luweero District council hall that both sides, be stopped from slaughtering animals until the issue is resolved.

An interim committee chaired by Juma Katende who is regarded as being neutral, was instituted during the meeting to take over the responsibility.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uganda: Unveiling Muslim Girls at Makerere University

On December 30, the Makerere University mosque could not handle the number of worshipers that had come for the Friday sermon. Designed to accommodate one thousand worshipers, the house was filled to the brim. Hundreds of worshippers had to find space outside in order not to miss the sermon. But this congregation grew to this magnitude not just for prayer. They were gathering for a protest. Earlier, on December 27, Dr Eria Olowo Onyango had pulled Zaituni Namujju (BA Social Sciences) from the examination room for dressing “illegally”. It was after she had agreed to undress that she was deemed legally dressed to write the exam. Removing the veil in public for well-bred Muslim girls is undressing, and the victim reported discomfort as she went back to the exam room, naked. Whatever penal code or regulation the professor was reading, we may never know.

The exchange between our two protagonists before Namujju agrees to undress is quite fascinating:

Dr Onyango: Where did you pass? (Namujju looks on not sure whether the question is calling for an answer). Aren’t you aware that you are not supposed to enter the examination room with headgears?

Namujju: But this is my veil, not a headgear.

The story goes that Namujju was asked to walk out of the room. When she attempted to plead with the help of one female teacher, the mighty Onyango charged: “This is the law; I can’t lose my job just because of you. If you think I want to admire your hair, I have a wife. Go to the Islamic university if you want to veil.”

In 2009, an almost similar incident happened. Aisha Nankya (BSc Education) was faced with a decision between her veil and the exam. Even when she pleaded to undress for any female lecturer for a thorough check, Ms Anne Ampaire insisted that the veil was illegal. She lambasted her student, that she wasn’t “special” and so there was no point wasting her time. After the Onyango-Namujju affair, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Venansius Baryamureeba, wrote to the Muslim students regretting the incident. Drawing attention to rules generated in 2008, he said the university didn’t have a dress code, and all female students, Muslim or non-Muslim, were to be checked by female supervisors and were free to wear their religious garments and enter the exam room.

Even with this clarification, lecturers continue forcing Muslim students to remove their symbolic dresses. In another mindboggling incident, Dr Elias State (interesting pun) of the school of Social Sciences announced to his Muslim students that in his exam and his classes, students dressed in kanzus, turbans and veils were not welcome. Dr State’s declaration aside for its stark oddness, the easy assumptions for unveiling Muslims could be that extra or capacious garments are used to disguise identity or for smuggling illegal material into the examination. But when students agree to undress for scrutiny and are willing to provide proper identification, then the claim does not stand. Responses, especially from Muslims have dismissed Onyango, State, Ampaire and Co. as demented, ignorant and overzealous Christianists, culturalists or atheists. It’s tempting. Onyango pointed out to Namujju that he feared losing his job. This suggests he understood the unfairness of his action, but the fear of poverty blurred his reasoning. This could be true, but the Vice Chancellor’s letter exposed him as having been acting on his whims — the university has no regulation against the veil. What then explains this thought-stopping fury against innocent Muslim girls and their dresses?

In September 2010, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove Outreach Church in Florida, United States, threatened to burn copies of the Qur’an. Well, even after many sober voices had advised him not to, he did so in April 2011. Many dismissed him as demented and notorious. But this is barely scratching the surface of a rather big problem. Surely, the well-meaning pastor is a victim of a narrative — one that has branded Islam as evil — and by extension, the Qur’an and all the symbols that represent it. Post 9/11 has set in motion a series of reactions in all aspects of the public life in ways that are unprecedented. Responses in Afghanistan, Iraq and actions at airport security points that target Muslims premised on fictions such as “a clash of civilisation” are dividing communities in ways hard to imagine. So many bogus stereotypes are constantly regurgitated on radio, TV and in print: Islam embraces violence; they hate us for our liberties and women’s rights; they are barbaric and anti-modern. Lazy professors and journalists are consuming these fictions, disseminating and acting on them. State, Onyango, Ampaire and Pastor Terry Jones are not the problem; they are victims of the problem. Countering the wrong narrative through re-education might help rescue the situation.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Found: First Solid Evidence of Ancient Mayans’ Tobacco Use

Traces of nicotine discovered in a Mayan flask dating back more than 1,000 years represent the first physical evidence of tobacco use by the Mayans, researchers say. The flask was decorated with text that seemed to read “Yo-’OTOT-ti ‘u-MAY,” which translates to “the home of his tobacco” (or “her tobacco” or “its tobacco”), the archaeologists said, but that by itself wasn’t enough to convince them.

“Textual evidence written on pottery is often an indicator of contents or of an intended purpose — however, actual usage of a container could be altered or falsely represented,” said study researcher Jennifer Loughmiller-Newman of the University at Albany. Their analysis of the samples extracted from the flask identified nicotine, the signature alkaloid in tobacco, as a major component. That indicated the vessel was likely used to hold tobacco leaves, the researchers wrote in the study.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sony Ordered to Pay Half a Million in Damages After Brazilian Song Calling Black Woman “Stinking Beast” And Comparing Her Hair to Scouring Pads is Deemed Racist

Sony Music has been ordered to pay $1.2 million (equivalent to about $656,000 in American dollars) in retroactive compensation back to 1997 for the release of the song “Veja os Cabelos Dela (Look at Her Hair)” by the Brazilian singer, comedian and politician Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva whose stage name is Tiririca.

The lyrics not only liken a black woman’s hair to “a scouring pad for pots and pans,” but also calls her a “stinking beast.” Oy!

The lawsuit was brought forth by 10 non-governmental organizations that fight against racism. Humberto Adami, the defense attorney of the NGOs, argued that black women were offended, exposed to ridicule and felt violated due to the lyrical content of the song.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Israel: Jail Without Trial for Illegal Immigrants

Parliament passes new draconian law, heavily criticised

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JANUARY 10 — The Israeli Parliament (Knesset) today launched new measures against illegal immigration, with harsher penalties for illegal immigrants and the possibility of preventive detention, without trial, for a period up to three years. The initiative has been heavily criticised; it is part of a more general clampdown on illegal immigration by the government of Benyamin Netanyahu and the right-wing majority. The most controversial issues include the extension of draconian regulations that were introduced in the past decades against the infiltration of potential terrorists to immigrants and asylum seekers, and the possibility of life imprisonment for illegal immigrants who are found guilty of property crimes. The Interior Ministry has defended the hard line by pointing at the most recent data on the increased flow of immigrants from Africa, who reach Israel via the Sinai (often aiming to reach the West). The figures were recently presented by Premier Netanyahu and are cause for concern according to him. The left-wing opposition in the Knesset and several MPs of the Arab minority group have denounced the new measures, saying that they are “anti-democratic” and that they break fundamental principles for the protection of migrants. Several Israeli NGOs, active in the field of human rights, have accused the government of being obsessed by any phenomenon that could harm — even only in theory — “the Jewish identity” of the country. They have called some of the regulations that were approved today ‘out of proportion’ and ‘discriminating’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: North African Murder Suspects Have ‘Criminal Records’

Police manhunt extended abroad

(ANSA) — Rome, January 9 — The two North African suspects wanted for the murder of a Chinese merchant and his nine-month-old baby have criminal records that include robbery and receiving stolen goods, police said Monday.

Police have launched a massive manhunt in Italy and abroad for the men, believed to be between 20 and 30 years old, using photos, fingerprints and DNA evidence in a bid to track them down.

Zhou Zheng, a 31-year-old Chinese bar owner, and his baby daughter Joy were killed in the Tor Pignattara area in the city’s southeast late Wednesday when two thieves demanded the bar’s takings.

Investigators said traces left at the scene and a bag found nearby containing 16,000 euros of notes stained with blood have led them to believe the killers are two young migrants from the Maghreb region with criminal records.

After the murders the suspects panicked and left evidence everywhere before abandoning their motorcycles and helmets and leaving two stolen bags two kilometres from the crime scene, police said. One of them was also photographed near Rome’s central Termini station.

Chinese shopkeepers are planning to close their stores on Tuesday in a day of mourning to express their solidarity for the victims, said Lucia Hui King, spokeswoman for the Chinese community in Rome.

Members of the community are also expected to march through the streets of the Italian capital on Tuesday to show their support for the family and Chinese immigrants in Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Migration IS Killing Off Jobs: 160:000 Britons Have Missed Out on Employment Because Work Was Taken by Foreigners

A shocking report has shown that 160,000 Britons have missed out on jobs over the past ten years because they were taken by foreign labour.

The true scale of the link between migration and the dole was revealed today in an independent study by the Migration Advisory Committee (Mac).

There are 23 fewer jobs for British workers for every 100 migrants from outside the EU, the Government’s immigration advisers said.

It comes after a report by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (Niesr) said the number of immigrants coming to the UK had little or no impact on the number of unemployed.

An increase of 100 foreign-born working-age migrants in the UK was linked to a reduction of 23 Britons in employment between 1995 and 2010, the Mac said.

Average wages remain the same but it added: ‘Migrants are found to increase wages at the top of the UK wage distribution and to lower wages at the bottom of the distribution.’

The impact and displacement of British workers also does not last for ever, the Mac report found.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: Five Men on Trial for “Gay Death Penalty” Leaflets

The trial of five men accused of stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation begins today. The defendants are accused of breaking new laws by handing out leaflets calling for gays to be executed. Ihjaz Ali, 42, Mehboob Hassain, 45, and Umer Javed, 38, appeared at Derby Crown Court for the first time last January. Razwan Javed, 30, and Kabir Ahmed, 27, had been charged in December 2010. The men were accused of handing out leaflets called ‘The Death Penalty?’ outside a Derby mosque. The material reportedly said that gay people should be executed. The defendants were also accused of pushing the pamphlet through letterboxes.

The five have been charged under the Public Order Act 1986′s new provisions against distributing threatening material intended to stir up hatred based on sexual orientation.

At a crown court, they face up to seven years in prison and an unlimited fine. Sue Hemming, a lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, said last year: “The charges relate to the distribution of a leaflet, ‘The Death Penalty?’, outside the Jamia Mosque in Derby in July 2010 and through letterboxes during the same month. “This is the first-ever prosecution for this offence and it is the result of close working between the Crown Prosecution Service and Derbyshire Police.”

The Public Order Act 1986 was amended by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 to create the offence of intentionally stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said at the time of the initial charges: “We welcome the Attorney General’s decision to allow this prosecution to go ahead. We lobbied for a number of years for a specific law to protect gay people, matching offences against inciting racial and religious hatred. “Materials like the leaflets posted to homes in Derby create fear and inflame hatred and violence towards gay people. We uncovered a range of similar materials during our campaign to secure much-needed legal protections in this area.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Siberia Was a Wildlife Refuge in the Last Ice Age

SIBERIA, a name that conjures up images of snow and ice, may have been an unlikely refuge from the bitter cold of the last ice age. Ancient DNA from the region paints a picture of remarkably stable animal and plant life in the teeth of plunging temperatures. The findings could help predict how ecosystems will adapt to future climate change.

The permanently frozen soil of Siberia, Canada and Alaska preserves the DNA of prehistoric plants, fungi and animals. “It’s a giant molecular freezer,” says James Haile at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia.

Glacial ice can also contain ancient DNA but permafrost is much more abundant than ice and so should provide a more complete picture of the effects of prehistoric climate change, says Haile. Last month, at the International Barcode of Life Conference in Adelaide, South Australia, his colleague Eva Bellemain of the University of Oslo in Norway revealed the first fruits of their analysis of Siberian permafrost DNA.

The samples were extracted from 15,000 to 25,000-year-old frozen sediment in southern Chukotka in north-eastern Siberia. Their age is significant: around 20,000 years ago temperatures plummeted and ice sheets blanketed much of the northern hemisphere — but parts of Siberia, Canada and Alaska apparently stayed ice-free.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]