Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120112

Financial Crisis
»Italy: Spread and Yield Fall Below Crucial Levels
»Muslim Student Sues Connecticut University
»Obama to Hand Commerce Dept. Authority Over Cybersecurity ID
»‘Saturn on Steroids’: 1st Ringed Planet Beyond Solar System Possibly Found
»Tiny Frog is World’s Smallest Vertebrate
»First Mosque Part of the Heritage of All Canadians
Europe and the EU
»France: Aga Khan Appeals Wife’s Bumper Divorce Payout
»France: Parents ‘Can Name Baby After TV Vampire’: Court
»Frenchwomen Ditch G-String for Comfy Pants
»Germany: Frederick the Great’s 300th Birthday Nears
»Swedish Teen Girls ‘Increasingly Violent’
»Swedish Hip-Hop Star Slams ‘Racist’ Cartoon
»UK Loses Human Rights Cases, Damning Report Reveals
»UK: ‘Rival Families in Street Brawl’
»UK: Ken Livingstone: Another Meltdown and Another Lie
»UK: Livingstone Uses BBC Interview to Denounce Andrew Gilligan
North Africa
»Israel-Egypt Pilgrimage Cancelled After Threats
Israel and the Palestinians
»No Citizenship for Palestinian Brides, High Court
Middle East
»Lebanon: Shop Selling Alcohol Bombed in Shiite-Majority South
»Stakelbeck: Meet the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Spiritual Leader”
South Asia
»Indonesia: SBY Challenges Muslims to Prove Islam is Peaceful
Far East
»Japan Leads the Way in Sexless Love
Australia — Pacific
»DNA McSpray to Foil Thieves
Latin America
»Remittances to Mexico Are Rebounding
»Admin Extends Salvadoran Deportation Freeze
»Loo Goes There: Australian University Doles Out Toilet-Training Lessons to Immigrants With Bathroom Posters
»Obama Picks Immigration Reform Advocate to Lead Domestic Policy
Culture Wars
»Furor in Greece Over Pedophilia as a Disability
»MI5 Named Britain’s Most Gay-Friendly Employers

Financial Crisis

Italy: Spread and Yield Fall Below Crucial Levels

Stocks up after successful bond auction

(ANSA) — Milan, January 12 — The spread between Italy’s 10-year bond and the German benchmark fell Thursday following a successful bond auction and euro-crisis talks between Italian Premier Mario Monti and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The spread differential was down to 474.5 points and the yield fell to 6.6%, both positive developments as each had been dangerously high in recent weeks. The yield on one-year bonds fell below 3% — half what Italy paid to sell at a December auction, marking the lowest price since June. A total of 12 billion euros of debt was sold in the form of six-month and 12-month bills. The Milan bourse was up 2.83% at 15,313 points in midday trading.

The positive economic signs on Thursday came a day after Monti agreed with Merkel that interest rates on sovereign debt should be lowered by the European Central Bank and that the EFSF should raise its bailout fund above the current 500-billion-euro maximum. On Friday Italy will offer up to 4.75 billion euros of debt in the launch of its 2012 bond-issuing campaign.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Muslim Student Sues Connecticut University

A Muslim woman is suing the University of Bridgeport, alleging that the school failed to investigate her claims that a fellow student sexually harassed her and instead retaliated by reporting her to the FBI based on a false claim that she was a terrorist. Balayla Ahmad filed the federal lawsuit Tuesday saying that she was sexually harassed by a male student for months in 2009 and that university officials showed “deliberate indifference” to her repeated complaints. She said college officials recklessly disseminated false accusations by the harasser that they had good reason to believe were unreliable and threatened her with arrest by the FBI. Ahmad’s lawyer, Bradford Conover, noted that his client is an observant black Muslim who regularly wears a hijab, the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women, so her religion was obvious. “I think, because of that, she ended up getting targeted based on some reckless accusations against her, and they completely dropped the ball on the sexual harassment,” Conover said. “They never investigated it. Had they done so, they would have discovered the accusations against her were false and she had been subject to sexual harassment.” The threat of an FBI investigation frightened Ahmad to the point that she was initially in fear of even leaving her apartment, Conover said. “Since her academic dismissal from UB, she has suffered the humiliation and the emotional stress of having been unfairly profiled and targeted and of not being able to pursue her chosen career in medicine,” he said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obama to Hand Commerce Dept. Authority Over Cybersecurity ID

It’s “the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government” to centralize efforts toward creating an “identity ecosystem” for the Internet, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said.

The Obama administration is currently drafting what it’s calling the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which Locke said will be released by the president in the next few months. (An early version was publicly released last summer.)

“We are not talking about a national ID card,” Locke said at the Stanford event. “We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities.”

Details about the “trusted identity” project are remarkably scarce. Last year’s announcement referenced a possible forthcoming smart card or digital certificate that would prove that online users are who they say they are. These digital IDs would be offered to consumers by online vendors for financial transactions.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

‘Saturn on Steroids’: 1st Ringed Planet Beyond Solar System Possibly Found

A enigmatic object detected five years ago in space may be a ringed alien world comparable to Saturn, the first such world discovered outside our solar system, scientists now say. The finding, announced here yesterday (Jan. 11) at the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, came from studying an unsteady eclipse of light from a star near the mysterious body.

“After we ruled out the eclipse being due to a spherical star or a circumstellar disk passing in front of the star, I realized that the only plausible explanation was some sort of dust ring system orbiting a smaller companion — basically a Saturn on steroids,” said study co-author Eric Mamajek at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.

The find occurred as astrophysicists investigated the Scorpius-Centaurus association, the nearest region of recent massive star formation to the sun, using the international SuperWASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) and All Sky Automated Survey (ASAS) projects. Specifically, the researchers analyzed how light from sunlike stars in Scorpius-Centaurus varied over time.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tiny Frog is World’s Smallest Vertebrate

They just keep getting smaller. Barely a month after scientists identified the world’s smallest species of frog, this little guy has been snapped relaxing on an US dime. At 7.7 millimetres long from snout to tail, it’s even teenier than December’s “smallest frog ever” — and this time it’s the smallest vertebrate, too.

Paedophryne amauensis was discovered in Papua New Guinea in 2009 by Christopher Austin of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and colleagues. They have now published an official description. P. amauensis is slightly smaller than the previous smallest vertebrate, a Sumatran fish called Paedocypris progenetica that was described in 2006. Females of this species grow to 7.9 mm.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


First Mosque Part of the Heritage of All Canadians

Ottawa — This May, as Muslims mark the twentieth anniversary of the induction of Al-Rashid mosque in Fort Edmonton Park, the country’s largest living history museum, the spotlight will be on the leadership role of Muslim women in this historic event.

Fifty years after they burst onto the front line to help complete the construction of Canada’s first mosque in 1938, Muslim women took over a floundering campaign to save it from demolition. They surprised many by not only preserving this irreplaceable piece of Canadian heritage but enshrining it in the history museum. Al-Rashid, once a bustling hub of community life, started drifting into disrepair after the congregation outgrew it and moved to a new Islamic centre in 1982. Numerous efforts to raise money and find a new location for the old structure failed. Al-Rashid was set for demolition in 1988. Out of options, the Muslim community could only hope for a miracle. To many, including Canadians of other faiths, the loss of the country’s oldest mosque and a Canadian heritage building was unthinkable. Al-Rashid was more than a place of worship. It was also the story of the struggle, adjustment and integration of early Muslim settlers.

While the community braced itself for the inevitable, the Terrific Twelve, a group of twelve women who belonged to a relatively new and untested organisation, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW), which was founded in 1982 to speak for Muslim women, defiantly dug in to save the mosque. Led by Lila Fahlman and Razia Jaffer, founder and president of CCMW respectively, these young, highly educated women of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds included second-generation Canadians and new immigrants, working moms, full-time homemakers and single professional women. Their audacity to take on what had thwarted community leaders sparked a buzz. The media was taken by surprise by this “strange twist” because the Terrific Twelve did not fit the stereotype of Muslim women as subservient housewives. Within the Muslim community itself, there were sceptics. Doubts were raised about the ability of a women’s organisation to lead the project. Some called the move naïve, while others welcomed it.

Unfazed, the women pressed on. Their unyielding resolve won over many naysayers and inspired a dispirited Muslim community. They formed alliances with Canadian mainstream organisations interested in preserving old and unique buildings in order to draw upon their influence, and launched an educational campaign to calm the fears of those who viewed the admission of a mosque into a Canadian history museum as a “foreign intrusion”, emphasising the contribution of Albertans of all faiths in building the mosque and the deep Muslim roots in the country that predate the Canadian Confederation in 1867.

In the end, they prevailed. Funds were raised and conservation authorities agreed that the mosque, as an historic place with heritage value, deserved a place in the history museum. In 1992, a renovated Al-Rashid, repaired to the meticulous standards prescribed for the heritage buildings and restored to its 1938 look with the original furnishings, opened to the public in Fort Edmonton Park amid tributes to the leadership of these remarkable women. Today, the mosque is a living legacy for all Canadians. Instead of hewing to the old thinking, the Terrific Twelve transformational leaders challenged ingrained attitudes, discarded outdated assumptions and shifted the way local authorities see the collective heritage of all Canadians.

Preserving Al-Rashid was not a Muslim issue, they argued — to the surprise of many Muslims. As a heritage building, it belonged to all Canadians and they shared the obligation to pass their collective heritage to the next generation, undiminished. Their call was heard. Prominent organisations like Fort Edmonton Foundation and the Alberta Historical Society committed funds, making it the only instance that a Muslim religious institution was wholly funded by Canadians with contributions from mainstream organisations.

Simple as this sounds, it was in fact a big leap in thinking and orientation. It made Muslims see themselves as an integral part of the broader society and made all Canadians aware that Canadian heritage is more than just the customs, traditions and artefacts of European sources.


* Daood Hamdani ( is a pioneer in the study of Muslim Canadians, faculty member of the Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute and author of “The Al-Rashid: Canada’s First Mosque 1938” and “In the Footsteps of Canadian Muslim Women 1837-2007”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

France: Aga Khan Appeals Wife’s Bumper Divorce Payout

Racehorse billionaire and Islamic spiritual leader the Aga Khan is contesting a divorce settlement that awarded his ex-wife a record €60 million ($77 million), a French judicial source said on Thursday. Paris-based Prince Karim, the 75-year-old head of the 15 million-strong Ismaili Muslim community, divorced his second wife, German singer Gabriele Thyssen, in 2004 and a French court awarded her the sum in September.

But he has now appealed the settlement to France’s Court of Cassation, the country’s highest court, the judicial source told AFP. Thyssen, who had married the Aga Khan in 2000, had won the settlement in an appeal court after an initial ruling awarded her only €12 million. She had been demanding a €200 million settlement.

The Aga Khan’s fortune is estimated at €10 billion and he is well-known for his thoroughbred racing and breeding operations. During the divorce case, French judges had difficulty estimating his wealth as he enjoys a rare fiscal privilege that allows him to pay taxes in Switzerland despite living in France.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Parents ‘Can Name Baby After TV Vampire’: Court

A court in France on Thursday rejected a prosecutors’ request for a couple to be barred from naming their son Daemon after a character in television series “The Vampire Diaries”. Prosecutors had brought Lionel and Blandine Defontaine, from Busigny in northern France, to court under a French law that prevents parents from giving names that would be “contrary to the interests of a child”.

The parents, both fans of the series, had chosen to name their son, born on November 3, after the vampire character Damon — adding the “e” to produce a French version of the name. They said they simply liked the sound of the name and denied it had any Satanic connotation.

The same law had previously been used in 1999 to try to prevent parents Alain and Sophia Renaud from naming their daughter Megane, with prosecutors saying the name sounded too much like that of a popular French car, the Renault Megane. An appeals court in 2000 allowed the girl to keep her name.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Frenchwomen Ditch G-String for Comfy Pants

Men may find it the ultimate turn-on, but the G-string is on its way out in France, a study showed on Thursday. But unlike Bridget Jones, Frenchwomen are insisting on sexy replacements. “Back in the 1990s, the G-string was the key lingerie item for French women, but it’s star has faded,” said Cecile Guerin, exhibition director for the International Lingerie Fair taking place in Paris next week.

But today only one in four French women — among the world’s top spenders on lingerie — own a G-string, down from 30 percent in 2008, according to a survey commissioned ahead of the fair. While 45 percent of women still acknowledge that a G-string can be sexy, a quarter see it as “tacky.” Only one in five see it as fashionable and one in 10 as practical.

Sign of the changing times, there were hardly any G-strings among the slinky outfits on display ahead of the fair, intended as a snapshot of industry trends. “You won’t find any in the women’s magazines either,” said Guerin. For the bare truth, she said, is that most women’s bodies are “absolutely not” suited to the G-string. “It wedges up into your bottom, and does nothing at all for the figure.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Frederick the Great’s 300th Birthday Nears

Warrior, patron of the arts and all-powerful King of Prussia, Frederick the Great captured Germany’s imagination after ascending to the throne in 1740. As his 300th birthday on January 24 approaches, the country is preparing to celebrate.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swedish Teen Girls ‘Increasingly Violent’

The number of Swedish teen girls accused of committing violent assaults has more than doubled in the last decade, new figures show, while the number of girls who are victims has also increased. Girls in Sweden also account for an ever-greater percentage of the victims of violent crime, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily reported.

While boys continue to be overrepresented among assault victims, Swedish girls accounted for one third of assault victims aged 15-17 in 2010, up from one fourth in 2008. “That susceptibility to violence is increasing faster among young girls that among other groups is likely related to the fact that we’ve long seen that more and more young girls are also suspected of being the perpetrators of violence,” Sven Granath, a criminologist at Sweden’s National Council on Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet — Brå) told the paper.

According to figures from the council reviewed by DN, the number of girls aged 15-20 suspected of assault has increased 118.5 percent in the last decade, from 428 in 2000 to 935 reports in 2010. In addition, the number of suspected of assaults directed at girls between 15- and 17-years-old jumped by 63 percent between 2008 and 2010.

According to Granath, it’s no longer possible to overlook the increasing violence directed toward and meted out by young Swedish girls. “For a long time, it was barely considered violence when a girl was hit and therefore wasn’t reported,” he told DN. “That violence involving women is taken seriously today is positive. A society where women are considered non-threatening isn’t especially equal [from a gender perspective].”

Mathias Henriksson of the Stockholm police confirmed that girls are increasingly involved in violent crime. “We see that when it comes to the sort of crimes previously committed primarily by guys, like assault and robbery, it’s becoming more common for girls to be found guilty,” he told the paper.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swedish Hip-Hop Star Slams ‘Racist’ Cartoon

When Swedish newspaper Metro on Tuesday published a comic strip by Norwegian artist Frode Øverli, the paper received a barrage of complaints from readers who perceived the cartoon as racist. Swedish artist Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité was among those who reacted angrily toward the image. “Frode Øverli’s comic strip…was the most insensitive and degrading thing I have ever read in your newspaper. It is a crystal clear case of ignorance and lack of insight in what it feels like to be subjected to racism. I feel deeply offended and very sad,” Diakité wrote in an email to Metro editor Peter Gunne.

The comic strip features a cannibal chief, his daughter, and a prospective suitor. The cartoon was a play on the the phrase “to ask for someone’s hand” and many Metro readers felt that it was based on racial stereotypes. “After all these years of human knowledge it seems you remain in the era of steam engines, racial biology and genocide. You should be ashamed of yourself for not knowing better,” Diakité wrote.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK Loses Human Rights Cases, Damning Report Reveals

Unelected Euro judges are making a relentless attack on British laws laid down over centuries by Parliament, a devastating report warns today.

A group of Tory MPs are demanding action by the Prime Minister over figures which show the UK loses three out of every four cases taken to the unaccountable European Court of Human Rights.

The explosive research will reignite the row over Europe’s demand for rapists and killers to be given the vote in prison, and intensify calls for Britain to withdraw from the court’s jurisdiction.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Rival Families in Street Brawl’

A 71-YEAR-OLD mosque leader and his 67-year-old wife took part in a violent attack on a rival family in massive street brawl, a court heard. Nadir Khan, president of the New Medina Mosque, and other members of his family, attacked Mohammed Iqbal Khan and his family on August 7, 2009, Bolton Crown Court was told yesterday. A jury heard that Nadir Khan’s family, referred to as the Marlborough Street group, were armed with baseball bats, cricket bats and a car steering wheel lock. The 10 defendants are all charged with violent disorder and a variety of other offences, all of which have been denied. The families attend the same mosque and have a long standing grievance towards each other, the jury was told

Shahzad Bahadar, known as Razaq, who, the Crown say, was the leader of the Marlborough group, contacted Mohammed Iqbal Khan’s brother, Mazhar, and asked them to come and sort out their differences as Ramadan was near and they could start with a clean slate. But when they arrived, there were 20 to 25 Asian men in the street armed with weapons and violence broke out. Peter Barr, prosecuting, said: “It is the Crown’s case that this is a most serious case of a pre-planned ambush, violent disorder. “Weapons were carried, weapons were used and people were seriously hurt.” The court heard that victim Munawar Khan suffered a broken hand and had to have a metal rod inserted after being attacked with the steering wheel lock by Razaq. He was also hit on the head with a baseball bat by Ayaaz Khan, which resulted in a big lump next to his left eye. Those two defendants then moved on to Mukhtar Khan. Razaq hit him with the lock on his back and shoulder, and Ayaaz Khan hit him across the left eye with the bat. The victim was taken to hospital and had four stitches and was left with black eyes and bruising. Mohammed Iqbal Khan was attacked by Majid Dad, who had a baseball bat, and Khushleem Arshad, who had a black stick. Both aimed for Mr Khan’s head, but he managed to deflect the blows, said Mr Barr. Nadir Khan struck him on the head with a baseball bat, the jury was told. Mr Khan fell to the ground and suffered a head wound which required six stitches. Nadir Khan then attacked Ilyas Khan with a cricket bat and he needed eight stitches, the prosecution say. Tahir Iqbal was struck with a bat by Ayaaz Khan, but managed to run away to a car park. There, he was attacked by another man and, as he tried to get up, Dad allegedly threw a large concrete slab at him. Mr Iqbal thought he was going to be killed, but he managed to turn away and the slab hit him on the back of the head, causing cuts. Inayat Khan, Nadir Khan’s wife, is alleged to have attacked Ilyas Khan’s sister as she tried to calm the situation.

The case continues.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Ken Livingstone: Another Meltdown and Another Lie

Ken lost his temper on the BBC’s Vanessa Feltz show this morning after being challenged about calling Boris Johnson a “pickpocket” on fares. He spent the first several minutes of the interview angrily attacking me for pointing out the inconvenient fact that he had raised Travelcard prices by almost exactly the same amounts as the “pickpocket” Johnson. The BBC shouldn’t be quoting me, he said, because I killed Dr David Kelly. A winning argument, I feel sure…


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Livingstone Uses BBC Interview to Denounce Andrew Gilligan

expect that even Ken Livingstone’s own campaign team must have despaired at his performance on BBC London 94.9 yesterday where he was interviewed by Vanessa Feltz. The programme had earlier interviewed the Daily Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan comparing the increase in bus and tube fares under Boris Johnson to when Ken Livingstone was Mayor. Then Livingstone came on but decided to play the man not the ball.

“You shouldn’t be quoting Andrew Gilligan. Why don’t you look for someone that is more objective…Andrew Gilligan was forced out of the BBC once it was revealed that he’d actually embroidered what he’d been told by David Kelly. He set in train the events and the uproar that led to David Kelly taking his own life…David Kelly is dead, he’s only dead because of that situation.”

A pretty grotesque caricature of events. Not one shared by David Kelly’s widow Janice. Her evidence was that her husband felt “betrayed” by his “political masters.” The spur for this came, as Alastair Campbell put it in his diaries, because: “The biggest thing needed was the source out”, in order to “f*** Gilligan”. Campbell is now backing Livingstone campaign — praising his “fair and reasonable” media appearances. The wider point is the self indulgence of Livingstone using the broadcast in this way. In my review of his autobiography I noted how the book kept going off at tangents to make pursue one vendetta or another. This makes the book pretty unwieldy but at least, I thought, Livingstone will feel better for it, that he will have unburdened himself. Evidently not. For his part Gilligan sticks to highlighting the facts about the fare increases. When Livingstone is challenged on his own record of hiking fares many Londoners will expect him to do better than bluster and make unpleasant personal attacks.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Israel-Egypt Pilgrimage Cancelled After Threats

Ceremony for rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzera to be held in Israel

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JANUARY 11 — The pilgrimage that hundreds of Israeli Sephardic Jews were hoping to make to Damanhour (Nile delta) by the end of this month has been cancelled for safety reasons. The yearly pilgrimage leads to the tomb of rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzera, where the pilgrims come to pray. One of the organisers of the event, rabbi Yehiel Abuhatzera, has told the press that the pilgrimage to Egypt has been replaced by a religious ceremony in Israel, in the light of the serious threats made in the past days against Jews by Egyptian Islamic fundamentalists. Considered to be one of the most respected rabbis in Morocco, Yaakov Abuhatzera died in 1880 in Damanhour while he was on his way to Jerusalem.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

No Citizenship for Palestinian Brides, High Court

Heavily-debated law which since 2003

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, JANUARY 12 — With six votes in favour and five against, last night the Jerusalem Supreme Court passed a heavily-debated law which since 2003 has refused the right to citizenship and permanent residence in Israel for Palestinian spouses of Israeli nationals. In a successive phase, the law was also extended to the spouses of Israeli citizens from countries hostile to Israel. The law — presented as a temporary measure and initially passed in years seeing a series of dramatic events, with Israel dealing with a wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks — has been denounced as severely discriminatory by representatives of the Arab population in Israel and by human rights organisations. The Supreme Court therefore had to weigh general principles — such as guaranteeing civil rights for the Arab minority in Israel — against national security considerations. “Human rights are not a recipe for national suicide,” reads the sentence by Judge Asher Grunis, summing up the opinion of the six Supreme Court judges. The opposite opinion was expressed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, who found herself in the minority. According to some commentators, yesterday’s decision was one of the most important ever adopted by the Israeli Supreme Court. Noting Beinish’s defeat as well, some say that the Supreme Court “is now giving in to” nationalist pressure from the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament.

Meanwhile, the Arab minority has expressed indignation, saying that the law in question “has no equivalent in any democratic country in the world”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Lebanon: Shop Selling Alcohol Bombed in Shiite-Majority South

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, JANUARY 12 — A bomb was blown up by unidentified individuals last night at a alcoholic beverages shop in southern Lebanon, the latest in a series of this sort of attack — for which no one has claimed responsibility — in an area with a Shiite Muslim-majority population. Reports were from the Lebanese news agency NNA. The explosion — which occurred in Sarafand, about 50 kilometres south of Beirut — severely damaged the shop targeted and, to a lesser degree, surrounding ones as well. However, no one was hurt. In multi-confessional Lebanon, the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages is legal and tolerated in many areas, but not in some with a Muslim majority population.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: Meet the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Spiritual Leader”

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has been called the most influential Islamic cleric in the world.

He’s the “spiritual leader” of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a vocal proponent of the Islamic caliphate and sharia rule.

He’s called for the killing of U.S. troops in Iraq and has supported suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

And according to reports, Qaradawi is acting as a mediator in secret U.S. talks with the Taliban.

Learn more about the man some call a jihadi “Lenin” by watching my new report.

Click the link above to watch.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Indonesia: SBY Challenges Muslims to Prove Islam is Peaceful

Malang, East Java. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, speaking on Wednesday at a a large Muslim Sufi order in Bululawang, East Java, called on Muslims to prove that Islam can live in harmony with a pluralistic nation and in a democratic society. (Antara Photo)

Yudhoyono made the call while opening the congress of the Jam’iyyah Ahlilth Thariqah Al-Mu’tabarah An-Nahdliyah (Jatman), a large Muslim Sufi order in Bululawang, East Java.

“Let us prove to the world that in Indonesia there is no discordance between religion and the state, between Islam and democracy. Islam can answer the various problems of nations and the world. Islam can become a blessing for the universe,” Yudhoyono told the thousands of people attending the congress.

He praised the Sufi’s approach, saying it was religious, calm and educative in broaching problems and therefore a suitable way to deal with disputes, conflicts and clashes in society and the nation.

“We all know that the Indonesian nation is a pluralistic one, it’s wishes and aspirations are numerous and varied,” he said, adding that in such a dynamic environment, clashes and conflict could erupt at any time.

The president called on all Muslims to abide by the four pillars of the state and nation. He cited them as the unitary nature of the country; the state ideology, Pancasila, which puts all religions on equal footing; the 1945 Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion and of worship; and the national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) .

“As Muslims, let us lead a religious life. As citizens, let us implement those four pillars,” Yudhoyono said.

Yudhoyono’s government has been criticized by rights activists as failing to protect the rights of the minority and the freedom of religion or worship.

The country has in recent years been the site of attacks on minority sects and minority religions, with the perpetrators often receiving only light sentences, if any.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Far East

Japan Leads the Way in Sexless Love

Are a new generation of Japanese men really losing interest in sex? And if so, what’s behind the malaise?

It’s not easy being a young man in Japan today. Every few months sees the release of a new set of figures, stats and stories trumpeting the same meme: today’s Japanese men are unmanly — and worse, they don’t seem bothered by it.

Tagged in the domestic media over the past few years as hikikomori (socially withdrawn boys), soshoku danshi (grass-eating/herbivore men, uninterested in meat, fleshly sex and physical or workplace competition), or just generally feckless, Japan’s Y-chromosomed youth today elicit shrugs of “why?”, followed by heaving sighs of disappointment from their postwar elders and members of the opposite sex. With the country’s economy stagnant at best, its geopolitical foothold rapidly slipping into the crevice between China and the United States, and its northeast coastline still struggling with the aftermath of disaster and an ongoing nuclear crisis, the reaction to a failure of Japan’s men to take the reins, even symbolically, has evolved from whispers of curiosity to charges of incompetence.

In the most recent government study, published at the end of last month, the percentage of unmarried men spiked 9.2 points from five years ago. More telling: 61% of those unwed men reported not having a girlfriend, and 45% said they couldn’t care less about finding one.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

DNA McSpray to Foil Thieves

McDONALD’S restaurants are fighting back against thieves by blasting suspected robbers with an invisible DNA spray as they attempt to flee.

“Once there has been a security breach, the hi-tech spray unit will douse fleeing robbers with an invisible, synthetic DNA solution,” McDonald’s Australia’s chief restaurant support officer, Jackie McArthur, said.

“The solution is invisible to the naked eye and unique to each location. It stays on clothing for up to six months and on skin for up to two weeks.”

Using a UVA light, police can see the markings left by the system and link the offender back to the scene.

The spray contains a synthetic DNA strand composed of 60 variable chromosomes

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Remittances to Mexico Are Rebounding

Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. sent an estimated 8% more money back to relatives last year compared with 2010, thanks to an improving U.S. job market.

Head to 4th Street and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles and you’ll see signs of a labor market on the mend. At a Continental Currency Services Inc. branch, a check-cashing and money-transfer business, housekeeper Maria Guadalupe Gutierrez waited patiently in line on a recent afternoon to wire $200 to her mother in Chiapas, Mexico.

Gutierrez used to send more before the economy tanked and clients stopped having their houses cleaned as frequently. But things have picked up lately, and she is getting more calls. “I hope it keeps getting better,” said Gutierrez, 38, before rushing off to finish errands downtown.

Ending a three-year slump, remittances to Mexico are finally on the upswing, thanks to an improving U.S. job market. Analysts expect that money sent home last year by Mexicans living abroad, most of them residing in the United States, will top $23 billion when Mexico’s central bank releases annual figures this month. Although still below the peak of $26 billion in 2007, that would be a solid 8% increase over 2010. Money transfer giant Western Union Co., whose revenue sagged during the recession, saw its remittance business strengthen in 2011.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Admin Extends Salvadoran Deportation Freeze

The Obama administration has extended temporary protected status to El Salvadoran nationals through late 2013, shielding them from deportation and forcible return to their home country.

The Department of Homeland Security cites ongoing disruptions from a series of earthquakes in 2001, concluding that “El Salvador remains unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return of its nationals.”

The protected status designation currently applies to 215,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S. illegally and otherwise subject to deportation, and remittances from ex-patriate Salvadorans in the United States help keep that country’s economy afloat.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Loo Goes There: Australian University Doles Out Toilet-Training Lessons to Immigrants With Bathroom Posters

It looks more like the kind of ‘amusing’ poster a university student might have up on their wall.

But these explicit toiletry lessons have actually been posted on cubicle doors at Sydney’s Macquarie University after cleaners complained overseas students were not aware of Western WC procedures.

Just to make sure that those whose English might not be up to it, the diagrams make it clear on how to behave when nature calls.

The lessons include descriptions not to stand on the toilet seat or sit on the floor whilst answering a call of duty.

And there are explicit instructions for the ladies on how to dispose of personal effects — not down the bowl but in a waste bin.

Others inform the toilet unaware that the seat cover must be lowered after use and hands must be washed.

A spokesman for Macquarie University said: ‘We received a complaint from our cleaning contractors about the state of some toilets.

‘They believed that some students may have been squatting above the toilet rather than using them in a conventional Western fashion.’

The spokesman told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph that the cleaning company was concerned about cleanliness.

‘We put those posters around the campus in collaboration with the international students’ group and got advice on what information should be contained,’ he said.

Since the posters have gone up, the problems have apparently stopped.

It comes after MP Teresa Gambaro said this week that migrants should be taught to use deodorant and wait in line.

She was later forced to make an embarrassing apology when her comments sparked outrage.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Obama Picks Immigration Reform Advocate to Lead Domestic Policy

The White House announced Tuesday that Cecilia Muñoz, would replace Melody Barnes at the top of the council.

Muñoz is an immigration expert who worked for the National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, until she joined the administration in 2009. The group works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans and advocates legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Furor in Greece Over Pedophilia as a Disability

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek disability groups expressed anger Monday at a government decision to expand a list of state-recognized disability categories to include pedophiles, exhibitionists and kleptomaniacs.

The National Confederation of Disabled People called the action “incomprehensible,” and said pedophiles are now awarded a higher government disability pay than some people who have received organ transplants.

The Labor Ministry said categories added to the expanded list _ that also includes pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists and sadomasochists _ were included for purposes of medical assessment and used as a gauge for allocating financial assistance.

But NCDP leader Yiannis Vardakastanis, who is blind, warned the new list could create new difficulties for disabled Greeks who are already facing benefit cuts due to the country’s financial crisis.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

MI5 Named Britain’s Most Gay-Friendly Employers

Britain’s domestic intelligence agency MI5 was named Wednesday on a list of the country’s most gay-friendly employers, ranked at number 62 by equality charity Stonewall.

MI5 Director General Jonathan Evans welcomed the news, saying in a statement that MI5 had worked hard in recent years to promote equality and diversity.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]