Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120113

Financial Crisis
»EU Threatens Hungary Over Refusal to Implement Austerity Policies and ‘Authoritarian’ New Constitution
»Fitch Warns of ‘Cataclysmic’ Euro Collapse
»France Loses AAA-Rating: Source
»Growing Worries in Athens: A Greek Default Would Hit the ECB Hard
»Outrage Against Hungary on the Rise in EU Capital
»Ratings Agency Set to Downgrade France
»S.&P. Cuts France’s AAA Rating, Affirms German Credit and Reduces Portugal to Junk Status
»So, You Think You’re Free?
Europe and the EU
»Airborne Commuters: EU Project Sees Flying Cars in Europe’s Skies
»Berlin’s Roma Want More Than Toleration
»Dutch — World Leaders in Islamophobia
»Evidence of Most-Recent European Great Ape Found
»France: Man Asked for Coffee — Airline Gave Him Drain Cleaner
»Germans Work Six Weeks a Year Longer Than French
»German Priest Admits to 280 Instances of Child Sex Abuse
»German Scientists Pioneer Revolutionary Digital Storage Technique
»High-Speed Controversy: Massive Rail Project Has Britain Divided
»New Find Reveals Swedes’ Role in Ottoman Sex-Slave Trade
»Norway: Breivik to Get New Psychiatric Evaluation
»Norwegian Film Troll Hunter Tops UK Charts
»Polish Protest Against Winston Churchill
»Public Pressure: Court Orders New Psychiatric Review for Breivik
»Sweden: Malmö Dwellers Forced to Deliver Their Own Mail
»Switzerland Knocks Norway Off Big Mac Perch
»Switzerland: Dad Killed Daughter in Brutal Axe Murder
»Turks in Germany Fear Racially Motivated Murders
»UK: ‘Dumbed-Down’ Degrees
»UK: Black Men ‘To Blame for Most Violent City Crime’… But They’re Also the Victims
»UK: Daily Star Editor Denies Paper Has an Anti-Islamic Agenda
»UK: Expenses for BBC Bosses Rocket by 20% as a Result of Move to Salford
»UK: Hard-Pressed Commuters? Would That be With a Haitch?
»UK: Police Open Twitter Threat File
»UK: Stop and Searches Set to Fall Scotland Yard Tries Improve Relations with Black People
»UK: TV News on Moazzem Begg, Cageprisoners and Terrorism
»UK: Unite Against Fascism Call Emergency Protest Against EDL
»UK: Why the Iron Lady Was the Ultimate Women’s Libber
»Bosnian Parliament Votes in New Prime Minister
North Africa
»Middle East: UK to Support Islamic Governments?
»Middle East: Hague Says Will Work With New Islamic Governments
Israel and the Palestinians
»UK Set to Talk Tough to Israel as Abbas Visits
Middle East
»British Worker Faces Jail in Abu Dhabi for ‘Insulting Islam’
»Fergie Faces 22 Years in Turkish Prison Over Secret Film of Children Abandoned in Orphanage
»Iran: Penis Tattoo Blamed for Permanent Erection
»Iranian Supreme Leader Blames U.S., Israel for Scientist’s Death
»Local Mosque’s Imam Cut From New Cloth
»Turkey: Fergie Faces 22 Years’ Jail for Secret Film in Orphanage
»US Seeking to ‘Close Down’ Iran Central Bank
South Asia
»Four U.S. Marines in Sniper Team to be Charged ‘Within Hours’ Over Video Showing Them Urinating on Dead Afghan Bodies
»India Opens Up Stock Exchange to Foreign Investors
»Thailand: U.S. Embassy Warns of Terror Threat in Bangkok
»U.S. Restores Diplomatic Relations With Myanmar in Response to Reforms
Australia — Pacific
»Man to Face Court After Discovery of Remains at Woman’s Ashwood Home
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Al-Shabab Forces Strike Inside Kenya
Latin America
»Ahmedinejad Visits Latin America, Washington Implores and Seethes
»Iran, Venezuela Plotting Attacks “Worse Than 9/11”
»Two Years After Earthquake, Aid Operations in Haiti Lack Money
»UK: Border Agency ‘Sorry’ After Missing Chance to Deport Failed Asylum Seeker Who Went on to Kill Partner and Children
»Zoologger: Unique Life Form is Half Plant, Half Animal

Financial Crisis

EU Threatens Hungary Over Refusal to Implement Austerity Policies and ‘Authoritarian’ New Constitution

The European Union has stepped up pressure on Hungary over the country’s refusal to implement austerity policies and threatened legal action over its new constitution.

The warnings escalated the standoff between Budapest and the EU, as Hungary negotiates fresh financial aid from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.

Over the past months, the country’s credit rating has been cut to junk by all three major rating agencies, unemployment is 10.6 percent and the country may be facing a recession.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Fitch Warns of ‘Cataclysmic’ Euro Collapse

The European Central Bank should ramp up its buying of troubled euro zone debt to support Italy and prevent a “cataclysmic” collapse of the euro, David Riley, the head of sovereign ratings for Fitch, has warned.

“The end of the euro would be cataclysmic. The euro is a reserve currency,” Mr Riley said overnight. “What would that do in terms of financial and political stability?”

“It is hard to believe the euro will survive if Italy does not make it through,” he said, adding that while many saw Italy as too politically and economically important to be allowed to fail, “one might also argue that it is too big to rescue.”

The warning pushed the euro down towards a 16-month low versus the US dollar.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

France Loses AAA-Rating: Source

Standard & Poor’s has decided to downgrade France’s top-notch credit rating but will spare Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, an EU government source told AFP on Friday. “France loses its triple-A rating,” the source said on condition of anonymity. Standard and Poor’s Corp earlier on Friday declined to comment on rumours on the markets that it was about to downgrade several eurozone credit ratings, as stocks and the euro turned lower after earlier gains. In December, S&P warned that it could downgrade several eurozone countries — including France with its top AAA rating — as the debt crisis cuts growth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Growing Worries in Athens: A Greek Default Would Hit the ECB Hard

Hopes that Greece can be saved are dwindling. Athens had hoped to reach a deal with its creditors on a 50 percent debt haircut, but banks have now made it clear that efforts to reach an agreement could fail. Should the country go bankrupt, the European Central Bank stands to lose the most.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Outrage Against Hungary on the Rise in EU Capital

BRUSSELS — EU condemnation of Hungary is beginning to gather momentum after its leading party, Fidesz rammed through radical amendments to the constitution, putting democratic standards at risk. Among the European Commission’s primary concerns are the independence of the central bank and the national data protection authority, as well as plans to make judges and prosecutors retire at 62 instead of 70.

“Retirement age is one of the primary concerns of the commission,” commission director general for justice, Francoise Le Bail told MEPs at a debate in the EU capital, noting that it could amount to age discrimination. Several deputies criticised the commission in heated tones for failing to act quickly enough.

Le Bail answered that “the commission as a guardian of the treaty can only act on a very strong legal analysis.” She noted that the Hungarian laws were implemented on 1 January only and that a commission decision on whether to take Budapest to court is expected as early as next week.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ratings Agency Set to Downgrade France

In a major setback for euro rescue efforts, reports on Friday emerged that ratings agency Standard and Poor’s was likely set to downgrade the credit ratings of France and other European Union nations. Following the news, the value of the euro fell sharply.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

S.&P. Cuts France’s AAA Rating, Affirms German Credit and Reduces Portugal to Junk Status

Standard & Poor’s Corp. on Friday stripped France of its sterling credit rating, cut Portugal’s credit to junk status and downgraded Italy’s debt by two steps in a wide-ranging action revision of European countries caught in the euro crisis.

The actions were the strongest signal yet that Europe’s sovereign debt woes were far from over and would pose fresh political challenges for politicians, including President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, as they try to stabilize the problem on the Continent, now in its third year.

A downgrade by a single ratings agency would have an immediate, though not devastating, impact on the countries’ ability to borrow money. S.& P. warned in December that the agency was reviewing the credit ratings of 15 European Union countries because of the crisis. Germany and the Netherlands, which were on the original list, were not expected to receive a downgrade Friday, news agencies reported.

[Return to headlines]


So, You Think You’re Free?

Thanks to big government spending and exploding debt, the United States — and indeed the world — is less economically free today than it was a year ago, according to the 18th annual Index of Economic Freedom, released yesterday by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.

Economic freedom — the ability of individuals to control the fruits of their labor and pursue their dreams — is central to prosperity around the world. Heritage and The Wall Street Journal measure economic freedom by studying its pillars: the rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency, and open markets. Things like property rights, freedom from corruption, government spending, free trade, labor policies, and one’s ability to invest in and create businesses all factor in to a country’s economic freedom.

Sadly, economic freedom declined worldwide in 2011 as many countries attempted — without success — to spend their way out of recession. The editors of the Index explain what has led to this troubling decline:

Rapid expansion of government, more than any market factor, appears to be responsible for flagging economic dynamism. Government spending has not only failed to arrest the economic crisis, but also-in many countries-seems to be prolonging it. The big-government approach has led to bloated public debt, turning an economic slowdown into a fiscal crisis with economic stagnation fueling long-term unemployment.

Though some might think that the United States — the land of the free, the home of the brave — is of course a leader in economic freedom, they would be wrong. The United States fell to 10th place in the world for economic freedom, and its score continues to drop. The U.S. ranked 6th in 2009, 8th in 2010 and 9th in 2011.

Heritage President Ed Feulner writes, “Under President Barack Obama, [the United States] has moved to the back of the band. Its economic freedom score has dropped to 76.3 in 2012 from 81.2 in 2007 (on a scale of 0-100).” The culprit? Government spending, which has grown to a level equivalent to over 40 percent of GDP, and total public debt, which exceeds the size of the economy.

Americans have been feeling the effects of the exploding government and resulting reduction in economic freedom. Some 13.1 million Americans are out of work, the unemployment rate has hovered between 8 and 9 percent, and the economy has merely been plodding along on the road to a very slow recovery. Though 200,000 jobs were added in December, Heritage’s James Sherk and Rea Hederman Jr., write, “At that pace, the unemployment rate will not return to normal levels (or 5.2 percent) for four and a half years-not until September 2016.”

America’s job creators know that it’s the policies emanating from Washington that are constraining their ability to create new jobs. According to a new survey of small businesses by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, more than 80 percent are very concerned about the prospect of new regulations, mandates, and higher taxes. There’s another thing Americans should be worried about, as well: According to the Index, the United States has seen its “Freedom from Corruption” score drop, as well, due to the Obama Administration’s pursuit of increased regulations. As Feulner writes, “Each new edict means a new government bureaucracy that individuals and businesses must navigate. Each new law opens the door for political graft and cronyism.”

The United States isn’t alone in the trend away from increased economic freedom. Canada and Mexico lost ground in the Index, and 31 of the 43 countries in Europe saw reduced freedom, as well. Given Europe’s huge welfare programs and out-of-control social spending, that’s unfortunately not surprising. As the world suffers the economic repercussions of Europe’s debt crisis, the price of pursuing policies that constrict economic freedom should be clear.


Scroll down this essay to see the good news, some of which includes Oz…

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Airborne Commuters: EU Project Sees Flying Cars in Europe’s Skies

An EU-funded project is developing technology that could make flying cars a reality. But to avoid the inevitable dangers of a crowded sky, researchers are borrowing lessons learned from robots and bats.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Berlin’s Roma Want More Than Toleration

Berlin’s Roma community have been in the capital for a long time, but many continue to live in limbo. Deutsche Welle’s Stuart Braun details their search for acceptance.

I see her almost daily out front of the supermarket, holding up the newspaper sold by the homeless, hoping as much for a donation as a sale. Middle-aged, slight, wearing a headscarf and thick coat, she looks to be freezing and forlorn, but strains a smile when some rare change arrives in her hand.

“I come from Romania,” she says in very broken German. “There was no work, no food for my children.” erlin was supposed to be the land of opportunity. It seems not. She is nodding her head, ruing her situation. Her husband has no job. Tonight she’ll likely spend most of her earnings on overpriced accommodation, sharing one room with her entire family. Even in Berlin, the vulnerable are easily exploited.

This woman is Roma, a people labeled — with the Sinti — the ‘gypsies’ of Europe and the continent’s largest minority. She left a country, like most in Eastern Europe, where Roma are heavily marginalized, often living in ghettos where unemployment is 70-80 percent. But heading west, little changes for these people, as I began to find out.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Dutch — World Leaders in Islamophobia

There were more than 100 ‘incidents’ at mosques in the Netherlands between 2005 and 2010 — far more than in other countries. The incidents are detailed in a new Dutch book about Islamophobia and discrimination. Those responsible for the trouble mostly go unpunished and Muslims often file no criminal reports.

In the 1990s, the Netherlands was known for being extremely tolerant of foreign religions, says Frank Bovenkerk, emeritus professor at the University of Amsterdam (UVA).

“… until surveys suddenly showed considerable animosity towards Islam was developing. The researchers thought: ‘This kind of split with the past isn’t possible’. But it in fact was.”

Then came the attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States and the murder of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh by an Islamic extremist in 2004. Dr Bovenkerk blames Dutch politicians for fanning the flames of hostility towards Muslims: “After Van Gogh’s murder, the then deputy prime minister, Gerrit Zalm, said that we were “now at war”. Things went differently in the United States as Dr Bovenkerk points out: “The first thing president Bush did after 9/11 was to visit a mosque because he knew that he mustn’t jeopardise his relationship with Muslim Americans. They were really careful about that there. But in the Netherlands, we went along much more easily with politicians such as Pim Fortuyn and later Geert Wilders, who exploited the aversion to Islam for political gain.”


Ineke van der Valk has written a book about Islamophobia and discrimination in the Netherlands. She lists 117 incidents at Dutch mosques between 2005 and 2010. The number in the US was just 42 during the same period. The incidents include arson, the daubing of slogans on walls, vandalism and much more. “A suspect letter containing powder, telephone threats, hanging a dead sheep on the building, with ‘No Mosque’ daubed on the body. Or a pig’s head. Or sheep’s or pig’s blood daubed on the wall …” These incidents happened surprisingly often in small places. Ms Van der Valk thinks immigrants are much more accepted in large towns because immigration has been going on there for much longer.

The people responsible have seldom been found. They’ve not been identified in 99 of the 117 cases. “That makes you think it’s time the police and justice authorities did more about it,” she says.


Then there’s the Islamophobia on the internet. Ronald Eissens from the MDI registration centre for discrimination on the internet : “In 2011, there were 290 reports of Islamopohobic comments, nearly one-fifth of the total reports of discrimination.” He says that discrimination is becoming increasingly more mainstream on the Dutch-language internet. “It’s moving from the dark alleys into the full light of day, on the popular web forums, which are read by everyone.”


What can be done about the situation? Ineke van der Valk: “You’ve got to get to grips with the social problems which play a role in why people turn to discrimination. People who are victims of crimes perpetrated by Muslims are quicker to discriminate.” You also have to push the openness of society and prize the values of diversity. She thinks Norway set a good example in the way it dealt with Anders Breivik’s attacks. “I think we could do well to learn from that because politicians here are far too inclined to look the other way and hope that the Islamophobia craze will just go away. We’ve got to stand up for what we believe in much more, for what we think is important, for democracy and the rule of law.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Evidence of Most-Recent European Great Ape Found

A team of scientists says hominids lived in Europe as recently as 7 million years ago, based on a discovery in Bulgaria. The find lends credence to the idea that part of modern human evolution occurred outside of Africa.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Man Asked for Coffee — Airline Gave Him Drain Cleaner

A French court on Friday ordered Air France to pay €146,000 ($186,000) to compensate a passenger who said he was served poisoned coffee on a domestic flight in 2006.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germans Work Six Weeks a Year Longer Than French

Germans work six weeks longer each year than their French counterparts — but the European champions for staying out of the office are the Finns, new data shows. Germans rack up an average of 1,904 hours at work each year, while the French put in 1,679 hours, according to a top consulting firm’s list of the hardest working countries in Europe.

French consulting firm COERexecode, used raw data from European statistical agency Eurostat to draw up a list of how hard different nations work. The figures, reported in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on Friday, relate to average working hours during 2010 and take into account time missed because of illness or otherwise.

Ahead of Germany were Poland, Greece and Hungary where employees worked for around 2,010 annual hours at work put them in second place on the list. But it was Romania who bagged the top spot, with workers there busy for 2,095 hours in 2010.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Priest Admits to 280 Instances of Child Sex Abuse

Germany’s Catholic Church has been hit by another case of clerical sexual abuse, with a priest admitting to abusing three boys between the ages of 9 and 15 some 280 times since 2004.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Scientists Pioneer Revolutionary Digital Storage Technique

The new technique relies on antiferromagnetic materials

Researchers in Hamburg and California have shrunk the physical size needed to store data. However, it will likely be several years before a new class of hard drive can be built using this method.

Researchers in Germany and the United States have built the smallest magnetic storage device in the world, signaling a potential breakthrough for computing.

In a paper published Thursday in the journal Science, researchers from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Hamburg in Germany and an IBM research lab in California demonstrated how they could store a bit, the smallest possible piece of digital information, in a set of 12 atoms.

Normally a bit, either a one or zero, would require about one million atoms in one of today’s smallest silicon-based storage devices.

In the new technique, only two rows of six iron atoms on a surface of copper nitride were needed.

The researchers said it could be years before their technique leads to new consumer goods, but once perfected this method could lead to new types of nanomaterials able to store large amounts of information in tiny spaces, and to consume less energy while doing it.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

High-Speed Controversy: Massive Rail Project Has Britain Divided

Politicians in the British capital are staunchly in favor of a high-speed rail project that would link London with northern England. But those who live near where the tracks would run aren’t so sure. Though the government gave the enterprise the green light this week, many are hoping to block it.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Find Reveals Swedes’ Role in Ottoman Sex-Slave Trade

The recent uncovering of centuries-old documents has revealed that Swedish ships were used in the Mediterranean slave trade. Up to three quarters of the cargo was women who researchers have suggested were sold as sex slaves.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Breivik to Get New Psychiatric Evaluation

An Oslo court on Friday ordered a new psychiatric evaluation of Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in twin attacks in July, after an earlier and widely contested test found him criminally insane. “Due to the gravity of this case, the criminal responsibility (of Behring Breivik) must be examined again,” Oslo District Court judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen told a news conference. Two new experts, Agnar Aspaas and Terje Tørrisen, were named to evaluate the 32-year-old right-wing extremist’s sanity.

In late November, two court-appointed psychiatrists concluded that Behring Breivik was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and should be considered criminally insane and therefore not accountable for his actions. If the finding is confirmed, Behring Breivik, who has confessed to carrying out the deadliest massacre on Norwegian soil since World War II, would likely be sentenced to psychiatric care in a closed ward instead of prison.

The initial report, later supported by an expert panel, was controversial in Norway, with critics pointing to the years of detailed planning Behring Breivik had put in and cool and methodic execution of the massacre.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norwegian Film Troll Hunter Tops UK Charts

The Troll Hunter, a critically acclaimed horror mockumentary, has become the first ever Norwegian film to top the British DVD and Blu-ray retail sales charts. Employing the “found footage” device previously used in films like The Blair Witch Project, André Øvredal’s movie tracks a group of students as they join a would-be bear poacher on his hunt for trolls in the forests of Norway.

Released in the UK on Monday, The Troll Hunter sold 16,000 units on the first day alone, according to the Norwegian Film Institute. After four days more than 35,000 copies had left the shelves, 34 percent of which were Blu-ray sales. British distributor Momentum Pictures expects the film to stay on top of the charts over the coming weekend.

Momentum also oversaw the film’s cinema distribution in the UK, where it was shown at 83 different movie theatres. The company is set to launch another Norwegian film, Headhunters, later this year. “It’s sensational that a Norwegian film is at the top of the DVD/Blu-ray charts in the UK,” said producer John M. Jacobsen.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Polish Protest Against Winston Churchill

A ONE-man protest against Winston Churchill is being staged in front of the Polish War Memorial.

Paul Bonowicz set-up his camp on the grass verge of the A40 roundabout in South Ruislip on Wednesday, displaying large banners such as: “Churchill betrayed on the end own most [sic] loyal Allies Poland.”

The Gazette visited Mr Bonowicz, a Pole who has lived in London for 10 years, to find out more about why he had chosen to protest in this way.

He told us: “I am protesting against the lies which were put in British books about Winston Churchill.

“I want to put it right. In English point of view Churchill was big war hero, but I am Polish and we know he betrayed Polish people.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Public Pressure: Court Orders New Psychiatric Review for Breivik

An Oslo court on Friday ordered a second expert opinion on the sanity of confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik. A first report concluded he was insane and incapable of guilt. But public pressure and criticism from experts has prompted the court to reevaluate. Many would like to see him land in prison rather than a mental ward.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Malmö Dwellers Forced to Deliver Their Own Mail

As postal workers assigned to the Malmö district of Seved feel too threatened to carry out their duties, the residents themselves will now have to deliver their own post. “You do what you have to do, we have to solve it somehow. And we have no idea how it will work before we have tried, that’s how I look at it,” Swedish Postal Service (Posten) district manager Rolf Weiffert to local paper Skånska Dagbladet.

For months, Seved has been plagued by continuing problems. Threatened postal workers in the area were forced to carry panic alarms and many residents say they don’t dare go out at night. From February 1st, two residents in the area will help authorities deliver mail to some 500 households in the area.

The Posten and Malmö city will be co-operating on the project, which will begin as a 6 month trial project and focus on getting young people engaged in postal delivery, according to the newspaper.

“I’m satisfied,” Anders Malmquist, district manager with the city of Malmö, said. “Young adults get an insight and an understanding of how it is to work in the postal service.”

The two young people who will deliver the letters are currently being recruited. They will be employed for 12 months by Jobb Malmö, a community project, and get introductory education by the postal system, followed by an internship and, the plan is, eventual employment as a postal worker.

The municipality sees the venture mostly as a workforce project to steer the unemployed youth into work life, even if the idea itself stems from criminality and the lack of safety that has come to characterize the area.

The postal service denied that there was a need for new postal worker recruitment, but stated that the there was a danger of the postal service coming to a halt.

Since the police beefed up camera surveillance of the area in December, the number of incidents has decreased, but the district, which has 4,500 residents, has always had considerable social problems.

Half of the population is between 19 and 44 with a majority of foreigners. Less than half of the adults have paid employment and the average income is low. Youth gangs have taken over parts of the town and are engaged in more or less open drug trafficking. In October, one postal vehicle was also subjected to an attempted robbery.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland Knocks Norway Off Big Mac Perch

A burgeoning Swiss franc has helped the Alpine nation dislodge Norway from the top of The Economist’s Big Mac index, a study comparing the price of McDonald’s most famous burger with the cost of living in 100 countries. A Big Mac in the Norway costs 41 kronor ($6.79) compared to an average of $4.20 in the US. This means Swiss burger munchers pay the equivalent of 2 cents more than their Norwegian peers.

“The exchange rate that would equalise the price of a Swiss Big Mac with an American one is SFr1.55 to the dollar; the actual exchange rate is only 0.96,” The Economist says. Sweden trails Switzerland and Norway on the podium for the countries with the most overvalued currencies. From the bottom up, India, the Ukraine and Hong Kong have the most undervalued bank notes.

The Big Mac index is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, explains The Economist. Exchange rates should adjust to equal the price of a basket of goods and services in different countries, but this is not always the case.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Dad Killed Daughter in Brutal Axe Murder

A Swiss prosecutor has described as a “veritable slaughter” the vicious axe murder of a 16-year-old girl by her 53-year-old Pakistani father, who believed his daughter had tarnished her family’s honour. The charge sheet presented by prosecutor Ulrich Krättli suggests he will call for the accused to be given life in prison, the maximum sentence under Swiss law, when the high-profile case goes to trial on March 14th.

On May 10th 2010, 16-year-old Swera was picked up at a Zurich police station by both her parents. She had been held there by police after she was arrested for a minor theft. Once back at their apartment in Höngg, on the outskirts of the city, a heated argument broke out between father and daughter, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reports.

The girl said she wanted to leave home permanently and started to pack her things. She then went down to the basement of the building to get a pair of shoes. While she was gone, her father allegedly retrieved an axe from the balcony and hid it in the bedroom he shared with his wife.

Once she was back in the apartment, the girl went into her parents’ bedroom to pick up some of her belongings. When she bent down to get some things from the wardrobe, her father hit her with the axe on the back of the head, the prosecutor says. The man struck his daughter 19 times with the axe: 12 times with the blade and seven with the blunt end.

The teenager not die instantly, but lay on the ground in agonising pain for several minutes until her life finally slipped away. The father left the axe between her legs, pointing to the feet, a gesture Krättli does not want to interpret, but that usually has sexual connotations and expresses the motives behind the murder, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reports.

After washing his hands, he left the apartment and called his wife to say he had killed his daughter. Fifteen minutes later, he called the police, who arrested him shortly after near his apartment.

In an interview with newspaper Blick, Swera’s boyfriend explained that the girl’s parents had strongly disapproved of her relationship with him, primarily because he was a Christian. The boy said she was desperate to get away from her parents and had already sought help from a local youth shelter.

According to the prosecutor, the defendant killed his daughter because she had violated his archaic values and had brought shame on the family. Krättli says the Pakistani man had planned the killing “in cold blood”.

The 53-year-old man has remained in custody since the girl’s death. He will be tried in March not just for the brutal killing of his daughter, but also for allegedly trying to kill her three weeks earlier.

On April 20th, the pair had argued after the girl’s father suspected she had been smoking marijuana. Seizing his chance while she was in the bathroom, he pushed her into the bathtub, turned on the tap and threw a hairdryer into the water.

He wanted to electrocute her, the prosecutor alleges, but his attempt failed because of an in-built security system in the appliance to prevent electric shocks upon contact with water. On that occasion, the 16-year-old girl managed to get away before running to a friend’s home in her wet clothes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turks in Germany Fear Racially Motivated Murders

Turkish immigrants in Germany have lost faith in the German state as a result of the murder series allegedly committed by the Zwickau neo-Nazi terror cell, a new study shows. Three-quarters of respondents fear there will be further racially motivated killings.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Dumbed-Down’ Degrees

The number of students awarded first-class degrees has more than doubled over the last decade.

A record one in six graduates obtained the top qualification last year, prompting fresh concerns about grade inflation and the value of degrees.

One expert says that degree classifications are now ‘almost meaningless’.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Black Men ‘To Blame for Most Violent City Crime’… But They’re Also the Victims

The majority of violent inner-city crime is committed by black men, police figures suggest.

But the statistics also show that black men are twice as likely to be victims of such crimes.

Police hold black men responsible for more than two-thirds of shootings and more than half of robberies and street crimes in London, according to figures released by Scotland Yard.

The statistics released under Freedom of Information laws have provoked a debate about the racial make-up of violent crime in the capital.

The data, which provides the ethnicity of the 18,091 men and boys who police took action against in London during 2009-10, looked at both violent and sexual offences.

It found that 67 per cent of those caught by police for gun crimes were black.

Among those proceeded against for street crimes, including muggings, assault with intent to rob and snatching property, 54 per cent were black males.

On sex offences, black men made up 32 per cent of all male suspects, with 49 per cent of those apprehended by police being white men.

The statistics also suggest that police hold black women accountable for a disproportionate amount of violent crime. On knife crime, 45 per cent of suspected female perpetrators were black.

Among those women and girls police took action against for gun crime, 58 per cent were black and in robberies that figure was 52 per cent.

The police statistics relate to those prosecuted — whether convicted or acquitted — issued with a caution, warning or penalty notice.

But they also include a number of suspects arrested by police that the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge and those whose crimes were ‘taken into consideration’ during proceedings for other offences.

Unsolved crimes were not included. Just over 12 per cent of London’s 7.5million population is black, including those of mixed black and white parentage, while 69 per cent is white, according to the Office for National Statistics.

But the police figures also show that black men are more likely to be the victims of violent crime, with 832 out of 2,882 of male victims of shootings in 2009-10 being black.

Critics say the figures merely show the continuing prevalence of racism in the Metropolitan Police.

Annual figures show that black people are at least six times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts.

Richard Garside, of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London, said: ‘Given Britain’s long history of racism and imperialism it should not greatly surprise us that black and minority ethnic groups are disproportionately members of social classes that have tended to experience greater victimisation and to be the subject of police attention.

‘Just because the police treat black men as more criminal than white men, it does not mean that they are.’

But one black politician said the black community needed to face up to major challenges.

Shaun Bailey, a Tory election candidate in London and charity worker, said: ‘The community has to look at itself and say that, at the end of the day, these figures suggest we are heavily — not casually — involved in violent crime. We are also involved in crime against ourselves — and we regularly attack each other.’

The Metropolitan Police declined to comment on the statistics.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Daily Star Editor Denies Paper Has an Anti-Islamic Agenda

Dawn Neesom tells inquiry that tabloid is ‘balanced’ in its coverage, and lawyer Nicole Patterson reveals private investigator Steve Whittamore worked for stablemate the Express for five years after his conviction for illegally obtaining information

Daily Star editor Dawn Neesom has denied that the tabloid has an anti-Islamic agenda, insisting that it is “balanced” in its coverage. Giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry, Neesom was asked about claims by former Star reporter Richard Peppiatt that the title pursued an anti-Islamic agenda at the expense of accurate reporting. She said that the Star “writes stories to be as accurate as possible” and had a “balanced agenda”, promising to provide the inquiry with examples of positive coverage of Islam. In turn she denied that the tabloid had published positive coverage of far-right group the English Defence League. She said that, as a part of a “Jewish-owned company”, the Star had been “concerned” about the possibility of the EDL achieving status as a political party and had not intended to show any support for the group. Several stories run by the Star were detailed in court, forcing Neesom to defend its coverage of Islam and other issues after inquiry counsel Robert Jay QC said the stories could be seen as “way over the line of what is ethical”. A front page headline — “Muslim thugs as young as 12 in knife attack on Brit schoolboy” — was shown by Jay to have in fact been about threats made on Facebook.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Expenses for BBC Bosses Rocket by 20% as a Result of Move to Salford

The expenses of senior BBC bosses have soared by 20 per cent in a year largely as a result of the costly move to Salford.

Executives face fresh accusations of profligacy after spending on rail fares shot up by 57 per cent, while its hotel bill surged by 70 per cent.

Figures, which cover the opening months of the new Media City, show the financial impact of the BBC’s plans to become less ‘London-centric’.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Hard-Pressed Commuters? Would That be With a Haitch?

Transport Secretary Justine Greening has for the moment stopped saying ‘haitch’. On Tuesday, Miss Greening made a Commons Statement about HS2, the multi-billion pound railway she intends to cut through the Chiltern Hills. She called it ‘Haitch Ess Two’. Yesterday, during Transport Questions, she opted repeatedly for ‘High Speed Two’. Perhaps she can now persuade guards on Great Western trains not to refer to ‘carriage haitch’ in their Tannoy announcements. It is southern-nancy-boy of me to say such things, I know, but ‘haitch’ is one of those words that sets southern teeth on edge.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Open Twitter Threat File

Police are now investigating three separate allegations of death threats from an antisemitic Twitter stalker who advertised himself as an Ed Miliband lookalike. Shereef Abdallah first targeted a young woman who runs the Julie’s Think Tank blog, which supports liberal intervention in the Middle East. He later threatened a former Labour Party press officer who came to her defence online, and a young British-Israeli woman who challenged him on his use of the word “Nazi” to describe people who disagreed with him. The Labour Party has suspended Mr Abdallah’s membership as a result. The Metropolitan Police said: “Officers from the London Borough of Camden are investigating a possible case of ‘malicious communication’, following allegations of antisemitic comments being placed on Twitter. The victim, a 32-year-old woman, received several threatening messages between November 2011 and January of this year.” A spokesman said: “Officers believe there may be further victims, and enquiries continue.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Stop and Searches Set to Fall Scotland Yard Tries Improve Relations with Black People

The number of stop and searches carried out by the Metropolitan Police is set to fall dramatically as the force aims to improve its relationship with the black community.

Scotland Yard confirmed today that Section 60 orders, which permit random stop and searches, are set to be cut by half.

The decision comes after Scotland Yard Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe described random searches as ‘a real challenge’ for the force.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: TV News on Moazzem Begg, Cageprisoners and Terrorism

Moazzem Begg on terrorism:

I was armed and prepared to fight alongside the Taliban and al-Qaeda against the U.S. and others, and eventually retreated to Tora Bora to flee from U.S. forces when our front lines collapsed…. [I] knowingly provided comfort and assistance to al-Qaeda members by housing their families, helped distribute al-Qaeda propaganda, and received members from terrorist camps knowing that certain trainees could become al-Qaeda operatives and commit acts of terrorism against the United States.

ITV on Moazzam Begg:

A man from Birmingham has been describing his experiences at the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention camp, on the tenth anniversary of its opening. Moazzam Begg, who’s 36 and from the Sparkhill area of the city, was held captive for three years at the detention centre in Cuba, after he was wrongly suspected of terrorism. Last night, the human rights charity Reprieve and awareness group CagePrisoners launched an online timeline of events at the camp.

BBC News interviewed Begg at his desk, with the Cageprisoners homepage on the computer screen in the background:[news clip]

Gita Sahgal on the relationship between Amnesty International and Begg’s Cageprisoners, a subject over which she had been suspended:

There has been a history of warnings within Amnesty that it is inadvisable to partner with Begg. Amnesty has created the impression that Begg is not only a victim of human rights violations but a defender of human rights. Many of my highly respected colleagues, each well-regarded in their area of expertise has said so. Each has been set aside.

The topic of Cageprisoners’ working relationship with Amnesty was itself the subject of a BBC Newshour programme.

Other parts of the mainstream media now follow Amnesty’s lead.

[Comment by reader — Larkers on 12 January 2012 at 7:41 pm.]

It was and remains pellucidly clear that Begg trained to fight for the Taliban and or one of its numerous Islamic off shoots. He has received a payment from the U.K. for his detention by others in connection with these activities following his capture (when he laid claim to “British Moslem” status); this payment is effectively an endorsement from the U.K. on his efforts to attack it or its allies interests. He is currently supported by Liberty and is a privileged partner of Amnesty International, and also receives support from prominent jurists, peace campaigners and opponents of western interventions against tyranny actual or hypothesised. It has been well said that liberal society could not come into being today since it lacks the determination to defend itself. Confirmation.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Unite Against Fascism Call Emergency Protest Against EDL

UAF is organising an emergency protest against the English Defence League in Barking and Dagenham, east London, on Saturday 14 January. The EDL is an organisation of racist and fascist thugs, who particularly target Muslims. They plan to march through Barking as part of its attempts to stir up racism and division in the area. EDL supporters have aready staged a series of demonstrations in Dagenham against a proposed mosque. In September, three thugs were jailed after they tried to smash their way into a mosque in the neighbouring borough of Redbridge, attacking the imam. One of the thugs screamed “EDL” during the violent attack. But people in Barking and Dagenham have shown they are fed up of racists and fascists trying to spread their poison in the area. In the 2010 elections, Barking and Dagenham voters kicked out the fascist British National Party’s 12 councillors and sent BNP leader Nick Griffin packing, with a crushing defeat in the Barking parliamentary seat. Now former BNP members are draining into the EDL — and local antifascists are determined to show that the EDL’s racist and fascist thugs are not welcome in Barking either.

The emergency protest against the EDL will assemble at 12 noon, at Barking Station on Saturday 14 January.

UAF news report, 12 January 2012

See also “English Defence League use Nazi band to promote Barking demo”, EDL News, 12 January 2012

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Why the Iron Lady Was the Ultimate Women’s Libber

Back in 2009 Harriet Harman, the then Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, published Women In Power, a government document for schools that listed the 16 women politicians who had shaped British history. Deliberately omitted from the list was the most important name of all: Margaret Thatcher.

Harman’s petty act of spite exemplifies the unforgiving hatred that feminists still feel for Thatcher. Not all feminists, of course, and not me. But it remains a fact that the first female leader in modern Europe has never been recognised, let alone celebrated, by feminists for her great achievement in breaking through to the highest echelons of power.


Each time Thatcher entered the Commons, Labour MPs chanted ‘ditch the bitch’. Student organisations took up the anti-Thatcher campaign with relish; eggs, rubbish, even rocks were thrown at her.

Britain’s nascent Women’s Movement had its first public meeting in 1970, but not one of the self-styled feminists denounced the virulent abuse suffered by their sister in Parliament.


Protestors outside Downing Street sang ‘ding dong, the witch is dead’ when Thatcher resigned in 1990. To some, she remains the wicked witch — the single greatest insult to feminism. For the rest of us, she is the role model that we grew up with — the proof that a woman can be anything she wants to be if she puts her mind to it.

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]


Bosnian Parliament Votes in New Prime Minister

Bosnian lawmakers have voted in a new prime minister after more than a year of political stalemate. Vjekoslav Bevanda has told parliament he hopes to attain EU candidate status by year’s end.

Lawmakers in Bosnia and Herzegovina voted to name Vjekoslav Bevanda as their new prime minister, ending 15 months of political gridlock that threatened the country’s fragile stability.

General elections in October 2010 produced a fragmented parliament with no party coming close to having a majority. After more than a year of negotiations, 31 deputies in the 42-seat national parliament voted to back Bevanda.

Bevanda, 55, is a member of the Croat HDZ party. He was finance minister for the semi-autonomous Muslim-Croat Federation from 2006 to 2011 and is credited with stabilizing the region’s finances during the 2008-2009 economic crisis.

Speaking to deputies before the vote, he called on politicians representing Bosnia’s three main communities — Muslims, Croats and Serbs — to “join forces to resolve the economic problems.” He added that “European integration is the only path to the future.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Middle East: UK to Support Islamic Governments?

The British government has claimed it will support the popular Islamic governments elected following Islamic Awakening movements despite earlier calling them “extreme.” The British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced on Friday that his government would support the Islamic governments elected in the wake of popular Islamic Awakening movements while maintaining that the popularity of Muslim political parties was a source of great concern for the British government. “It is true that parties drawing their inspiration from Islam have done better at the polls than secular parties and there are legitimate concerns about what this will mean,” Hague wrote in the Times. Hague’s comments in support of Islamic governments come as the British Prime Minister David Cameron described Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as “extreme” when he visited Egypt in February 2011 after the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office. During his visit, Cameron decided to meet non-Brotherhood members of Egypt’s opposition in a bid to reinforce their role after the ouster of Mubarak. “This is not an Islamist revolution, it not extremists on the streets,” said Cameron. Nevertheless, realizing its interests would be in danger, the British government took a reverse approach as Hague pledged to “redouble our diplomatic and long-term support to the region.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East: Hague Says Will Work With New Islamic Governments

LONDON — Foreign Secretary William Hague on Friday pledged to support governments elected in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings, despite “legitimate concerns” over the rise of parties rooted in Islam. Writing in The Times, Hague argued that the recent success enjoyed by religious parties did not mean the Arab Spring had turned into a “cold winter”, warning that bad governance would again force demonstrators onto the streets. “It is true that parties drawing their inspiration from Islam have done better at the polls than secular parties and there are legitimate concerns about what this will mean,” Hague wrote in Friday’s edition. We must respect these choices while upholding our own principles of human rights and freedom and urging the highest standards,” he added. “The true test of these governments will be how they act in office.” The former Tory leader warned that expressing favour for certain parties or philosophies in the ongoing series of Middle East elections would “fatally undermine faith in our intentions and our support for democracy.” Prime Minister David Cameron avoided meeting with officials from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood during a visit last year, calling them “extreme”, but london now seems keen to build bridges after the party’s strong showing in recent polls.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

UK Set to Talk Tough to Israel as Abbas Visits

The British government has stepped up its war of words with Israel over settlement building in advance of an official visit next week by Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Ministers have grown increasingly frustrated by what they see as Benjamin Netanyahu’s intransigent position on the issue, which is seen as a serious hurdle to peace in the region.

The Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies have been called in for a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron and officials just before Mr Abbas’s arrival on Monday.

The meeting is the first of its kind since the election and has led to speculation that senior members of the Jewish community are being “softened up” for British concessions to the Palestinians or even some form of economic or diplomatic action against Israel. Mr Cameron used this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions to emphasise that he had raised settlements during a New Year phone call with Mr Netanyahu.

Speaking at Bar Ilan University on Tuesday, Middle East Minister Alistair Burt spelt out the UK position in some detail. He hailed the political leadership shown by Israel in recommencing talks with the Palestinians in Jordan. But he said settlement building undermined the belief that this was being done in good faith “because building more and more houses across the Green Line does not show that Israel is absolutely committed to finding a just and lasting solution. It risks sending exactly the opposite signal.” The minister, known as a long-standing friend of Israel, said: “I have to tell you that the absence of progress towards peace, together with the almost weekly announcements of this tender or that planning permission for new building, has a real effect on how the world sees Israel.”

His language reflects a hardening of the UK government’s position on Israeli settlements. A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are increasingly concerned about settlement building. We will continue lobbying the Israeli government in private and voicing our concerns in public”. However, there are no immediate plans for UK sanctions against Israel if settlement building continues. The hardening of the rhetoric follows a row in Israel over comments made last week by UK Ambassador Matthew Gould condemning new settlement building which he believed had been announced just as the negotiators were meeting in Amman. “This is unhelpful and a disappointment to those who want to see the sides turn a corner,” he said.

It later emerged that the plans for settlements in Pisgat Ze’ev and Har Homa had been part of a long-standing process and Mr Gould had to row back, saying the lack of new tenders for settlements was a “welcome reassurance”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

British Worker Faces Jail in Abu Dhabi for ‘Insulting Islam’

A British engineer is facing a month in jail after he told colleagues in a meeting, ‘When will we finish with the damn mosques?’

The worker, who has not been named, told an appeals court yesterday that he did not mean to insult the Islamic religion.

The British engineer works at the parks and recreation section of Abu Dhabi Municipality, and is appealing against a one-month prison sentence imposed by the Court of Misdemeanours.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Fergie Faces 22 Years in Turkish Prison Over Secret Film of Children Abandoned in Orphanage

The Duchess of York faces 22 years in jail after a Turkish court pressed charges against her for secretly filming in an orphanage.

The charges relate to an undercover documentary Sarah Ferguson made with ITV in 2008 to expose ‘appalling’ conditions in state run institutions.


Theday after the broadcast, however, the Turkish authorities accused the Duchess of taking part in a politically motivated campaign against theircountry and of deliberately trying to derail their bid to join the EU.

[Note from Egghead: Current royal family members get jewels from Saudi Arabia. Former royal family members get jail time from Turkey — a member of NATO, no less. Guess what happens when the ummah takes over — and current royal family members become former royal family members?!]

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Iran: Penis Tattoo Blamed for Permanent Erection

A 21-year-old Iranian man now suffers from a permanent erection after getting a tattoo on his penis, according to a report of his case. he man had the Persian phrase “borow be salaamat,” meaning “good luck with your journeys,” tattooed on his penis. He also had the letter M, the first letter of his girlfriend’s first name, tattooed on it, according to the report.

His condition is medically known as priapism, which is said to occur when an erection is not caused by sexual stimulation and lasts longer than four hours. The condition most commonly happens in boys ages 5 to 10, and men ages 20 to 50. The case report, published Jan. 3 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, notes that this is the first case of tattooing causing the condition.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iranian Supreme Leader Blames U.S., Israel for Scientist’s Death

Tehran (CNN) — Iran’s top cleric has blamed the CIA and Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, for killing an Iranian nuclear scientist, Iran’s state broadcaster said.

Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, who died Wednesday, was the third Iranian nuclear scientist in two years to be killed by what Iran described as a magnetic bomb attached to his car. A fourth survived a similar assassination attempt.

Roshan’s death shows that “the global arrogance spearheaded by the U.S. and Zionism has reached a deadlock in confrontation with the determined, devout and progressive nation of Islamic Iran,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying by the state-run Press TV.

Those responsible will not own up, Khamenei said, but the attack “has been carried out by the planning or support of CIA and Mossad [spy] services, like all other crimes of the network of international state terrorism.”

Khamenei ended his message of condolence with a warning: “We shall persist in punishing the perpetrators of this crime, as well those supporting them behind the scenes.”

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent his condolences Friday to the families of Roshan and his driver, who also died following the attack, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. He pointed the finger at “agents of imperialism and international Zionism,” a reference to Israel.

Other Iranian officials also blamed the killings on Israel and the United States, both of which have accused Tehran of pursuing a nuclear bomb — a claim it denies.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “categorically” denied any role in the attacks, but urged Iran to halt its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reiterated that message Thursday, telling troops in Texas: “We were not involved in any way — in any way — with regards to the assassination that took place there.

“I’m not sure who was involved, we have some ideas as to who might be involved… but I can tell you one thing: the United States was not involved in that kind of effort, that’s not what the United States does.”

Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, said on his Facebook page Wednesday: “I have no idea who targeted the Iranian scientist but I certainly don’t shed a tear.”

Meanwhile, a newspaper aligned with Khamenei called Thursday for the Islamic republic to respond in kind to the killings of its nuclear scientists, suggesting Israeli officials could be targeted.

The editor of Tehran daily Kayhan, considered the organ of Khamenei’s supporters, questioned why Iran should not “exercise its legal right to retaliate.”

Mohammad Khazaee, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, said the assassinations of scientists were intended to deprive Iranians of the right to peaceful nuclear energy.

“We believe that these terrorist attacks are supported by some elements — especially within the Israeli regime as well as some quarters around the world,” he said.

Iran says its nuclear program is aimed at producing civilian energy, not weapons. But it has rebuffed international demands to halt its enrichment of uranium, and the International Atomic Energy Agency says it has credible evidence that Iran has conducted weapons-related research.

The IAEA, which serves as the U.N. nuclear watchdog, reported in November that it can no longer verify that the Iranian nuclear program remains peaceful.

The scientist’s death comes as Western powers and Japan are tightening the screws on Tehran.

Japan announced Thursday it was prepared to gradually reduce oil imports from Iran, which supplies about 10% of its crude supply, while U.S.-led sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank are driving down the value of the Iranian currency and driving up consumer prices.

At the same time, U.S. observers say a covert campaign of sabotage appears to be under way against Iran’s nuclear program. In addition to the deaths of nuclear researchers, Iran’s Natanz enrichment plant — where Roshan was the deputy director for commercial affairs — has been hit with a computer worm that Western analysts say has damaged about 10% of the centrifuges used in the enrichment process.

In the face of increased pressure, Iran has threatened to close off the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway at the mouth of the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

It brought down and captured a U.S. surveillance drone over its territory and claims to have arrested a dozen American spies, including an Iranian-American former Marine who was sentenced to death this week. The United States says he was wrongly accused.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Local Mosque’s Imam Cut From New Cloth

Over the last decade or so, Asif Umar has practiced an unusual Ramadan tradition. The 27-year-old St. Charles native, who started last week as the new imam at the largest mosque in the area, celebrates the end of Islam’s holiest month by going to a Blues game with his buddies. “He’s a sports junkie,” said Umar’s friend Nauman Wadalawala, a third-year law student at St. Louis University. “Whenever we go to a Cards game, he always has to wear his Pujols jersey. It’s interesting to see this religious scholar, sitting in good seats, with his beard and Cardinals jersey.” Umar, whose parents came to the United States from India in the 1970s, is the first native St. Louisan to lead the Daar-ul-Islam mosque, also known as the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis. He also represents the ascendence of a distinctly American brand of Islam, a new generation of Muslim-Americans who were born in the United States and who spent their teenage years in the often uncomfortable glare of the post-Sept. 11 spotlight.

Immigrant parents of American-born Muslims who once insisted that their children become doctors and engineers have begun relaxing those expectations for a new crop of young Muslim-American scholars who feel drawn to be faith leaders, said Yvonne Haddad, a professor of the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University.

“We’re beginning to have larger numbers of American kids going into Muslim studies and become imams,” Haddad said. She noted a new trend in ads recruiting imams, which once asked for overseas experience in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia or India. “Now if you look at ads for imams, they ask for candidates who know English, can relate to interfaith groups and communicate with a younger generation,” Haddad said. “They don’t want to lose the younger generation.” Muslims both young and old hope Umar can be that kind of leader.

They see him as a potential ambassador of the faith in the St. Louis region, one who can challenge Islamophobic notions, and instead present Islam as simply another faith on the American landscape.


[JP note: I don’t buy this new cloth baloney — it is the same old Islam.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Fergie Faces 22 Years’ Jail for Secret Film in Orphanage

THE Duchess of York could face more than 22 years in jail after being charged in Turkey with violating children’s privacy by secretly filming in orphanages.

Prince Andrew’s former wife Sarah Ferguson made the trip to the country in 2008 to make a damning undercover documentary for ITV.

She and her younger daughter Princess Eugenie, who accompanied her, were in tears at the mistreatment of youngsters.

The Duchess, disguised in a black wig and green headscarf, and Eugenie, now 21, saw shaven-headed children tied to beds, or held in makeshift straitjackets in rooms stained with urine and faeces.

The programme led to a diplomatic row between Britain and Turkey, which tried unsuccessfully to have the Duchess extradited or tried in the UK. Britain maintained it was not a crime under our laws and there was no justification for her to face charges.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

US Seeking to ‘Close Down’ Iran Central Bank

“We do need to close down the Central Bank of Iran (CBI),” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity, while adding that the United States is moving quickly to implement the sanctions, signed into law last month.

The sanctions, broadly aimed at forcing Tehran to shift course on its nuclear program, targeted Iran’s crucial oil sector and required foreign firms to make a choice between doing business with Iran or the United States.

Foreign central banks that deal with the Iranian central bank on oil transactions could also face similar restrictions under the new law, which has sparked fears of damage to US ties with nations like Russia and China.

“If a correspondent bank of a US bank wants to do business with us and they’re doing business with CBI or other designated Iranian banks… then they’re going to get in trouble with us,” the US official said.

The measures were contained in a mammoth $662 billion defense bill, which President Barak Obama signed on December 31 at a time of rising tension with Tehran

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Four U.S. Marines in Sniper Team to be Charged ‘Within Hours’ Over Video Showing Them Urinating on Dead Afghan Bodies

All four of the U.S. Marines seen in an outrageous video urinating on dead Afghan bodies have been identified and could face criminal charges ‘within hours’ over the incident, it emerged today.

Two men have so far been interviewed but not detained — and the group could face criminal charges on Friday of bringing dishonour to the armed forces, reported CNN, CBS and ABC News.

The revelations come as University of Southern California military psychologist Eugenia Weiss suggested the soldiers involved may have been ‘stressed’ or ‘pranksters with extremely bad taste’.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

India Opens Up Stock Exchange to Foreign Investors

The Indian government has announced that it will open up its stock markets to individual foreign investors. The aim is to attract more foreign funds and to deepen the capital market.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Thailand: U.S. Embassy Warns of Terror Threat in Bangkok

Thai police Friday were questioning a Lebanese man with alleged links to Hezbollah militants as the U.S. Embassy warned of a “real and credible” threat of a terrorist attack against American citizens in Bangkok.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said Thai authorities received a tip-off before New Year’s of a planned attack, which was said to target Israelis. “At first we were told the Palestinians were behind it but it turned out to be the Hezbollah,” he told The Associated Press. He said police detained on Thursday a Lebanese suspect with alleged links to Hezbollah, an avowedly anti-Israel militant group.

Thai authorities had been “following two Lebanese men and called in one of them … for questioning,” Chalerm said. “Technically the two men have not committed any crimes under the Thai law, so we could only use the immigration law to keep this one suspect in custody,” he said.

Chalerm spoke hours after the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok sent an “emergency message” to American citizens earlier Friday warning of a possible terrorist attack. The message said that “foreign terrorists may be currently looking to conduct attacks against tourist areas in Bangkok in the near future.” It urged Americans to “keep a low profile” in public and to exercise caution in areas where Western tourists gather.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

U.S. Restores Diplomatic Relations With Myanmar in Response to Reforms

The United States restored diplomatic relations with Myanmar on Friday, responding to the new civilian government’s rapid campaign of political and economic changes that most recently included a cease-fire with ethnic Karen rebels and the release of prominent political prisoners.

[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Man to Face Court After Discovery of Remains at Woman’s Ashwood Home

Hunt for evidence after body found

UPDATE 6.30pm: A MAN has been charged with murder after the apparent discovery of his wife’s body under the decking of their house.

The Ashwood man faced an out-of-sessions court hearing charged with the murder of his wife, after a woman’s body was found at their home today.

Det Sen Sgt Ron Iddles of the homicide squad told the court that that Nasir Ahmadi, 46, had been questioned over the murder of his wife Zahara Ramizadegan, who has been missing for a month, before he was charged.

Det Sen-Sgt Iddles said the body of a woman believed to be that of Ms Ramizadegan was found today when police searched the property at High Street Rd, Ashwood.

They pulled apart a new timber deck and found a grave site underneath.

And after breaking up concrete they found the body of a woman underneath, the court hearing heard.

Sen-Sgt Iddles said Mr Ahmadi had visited the Glen Waverley Police Station on December 18 to report his wife missing.

He said an investigation was started leading to today’s 8am arrest of Mr Ahmadi and the search of his property.

A bail justice remanded Mr Ahmadi to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday.

The charges follow questioning of Mr Ahmadi at Crime Department headquarters in St Kilda Rd from 8am today.

Mr Ahmadi earlier this week said he believed his wife had been abducted by Muslim hardliners.

Police today entered the couple’s southeast Melbourne home this morning with rakes and shovels in hand.

By this afternoon, the Ashwood property’s backyard had been covered with a tarpaulin and a small deck had been ripped up, before the discovery of human remains.

Search crews formed a line search along a creek behind the property while a forensic team and several detectives combed through the residence.

Police and forensic officers at the Ashwood property where human remains were believed to have been found. Picture: Andrew Batsch, Leader Newspapers

Ms Rahimzadegan’s husband had reported the 46-year-old mother, also known as Mandy Ahmadi or “Glorious”, missing two days after she vanished on December 16 last year.

Neighbours today said they knew the family and had no problems with them.

“We’re just hopeful for a favourable outcome,’’ said one neighbour as he headed out the door.

The couple had come to Australia with their two children as Iranian refugees in 1999, and later became actively involved in converting Muslims to Christianity.

That activity led her husband and a church they are connected with to repeatedly make claims that Muslim hardliners could have abducted her as retribution for her activities.

“Maybe somebody kidnapped (her),’’ her husband told Network Ten earlier this week.

“We don’t like you, you Christian and you convert the people to Christianity.’’

SES volunteers searched a nearby creek behind the Ashwood unit where human remains were found. Picture: Andrew Batsch, Leader Newspapers

Ms Rahimzadegan left behind her purse and wallet and there has been no activity on her Facebook page, bank accounts or mobile phone.

Insp Potter said Ms Rahimzadegan had left the home on occasion before due to family issues but had always maintained contact with her two children, aged 15 and 11.

“She’s made no contact with any of her family or friends, which is highly out of character,’’ he said.

“She has left home before on a couple of occasions but they’ve been for short periods of time and she always made contact with her children … she’s always made sure that they knew where she was.’’

Detectives were also examining whether Ms Rahimzadegan’s activities on Facebook are related to her disappearance.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit

           — Hat tip: Salome[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Al-Shabab Forces Strike Inside Kenya

Al-Shabab insurgents have attacked a police station in northern Kenya in what they say is retaliation for Kenya’s ongoing military incursion into Somalia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Ahmedinejad Visits Latin America, Washington Implores and Seethes

At the best of times, the U.S. government is regarded as somewhat out of touch with what’s happening in the American “heartland,” much less the world at large, so much so that the phrase “inside the Beltway” was coined to define the syndrome.

But every now and again, an incident occurs that so perfectly encapsulates Washington’s self-absorbed navel gazing that little further comment is needed.

On 9 January U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland provided such a “Kodak moment” to the Washington press corps.

The object of her concern? Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s visit to Latin America, where he is touring Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

Nuland said that, because of its civilian nuclear energy program, which both Washington and Tel Aviv believe masks a covert nuclear program despite persistent denials by Tehran, Iran should have no friends and that “We are making absolutely clear to countries around the world that now is not the time to be deepening ties, not security ties, not economic ties, with Iran.”

During a regularly scheduled State Department press briefing Nuland gravely observed that Iran had “obviously carefully” chosen the four countries but “We are, meanwhile, calling on all of these countries to do what they can to impress upon the Iranian regime that the course that it’s on in its nuclear dialogue with the international community is the wrong one. And, frankly, we think it’s in the interest of all countries, including the countries that he (Ahmadinejad) is visiting in Latin America, that Iran proves the peaceful intent of its nuclear program to the world.”

[Meanwhile what is] the view from Caracas?


And…What is Venezuela getting out of its dalliance with charter “axis of evil” Iran?

[NOTE: See answers at URL, above]

[Return to headlines]

Iran, Venezuela Plotting Attacks “Worse Than 9/11”

Tensions are mounting between the U.S. and Venezuela as the State Department decided to expel Livia Acosta Noguera, the Venezuelan consul in Miami, declaring her “persona non grata.” The Venezuelan consul was implicated in an alleged plot to launch cyber attacks on U.S. nuclear power facilities. The decision was taken as a direct result of the revelations made by the documentary The Iranian Threat, aired by the U.S Spanish language channel Univision.

In the film, the Venezuelan consul was caught on camera backing Iranian-sponsored cyber-attack against U.S. targets in 2007, when she was vice-secretary in the Venezuelan Embassy in Mexico. According to the documentary, these cyber-attacks would be “worse than 9-11.” The State Department did not want to comment on this decision. However, a U.S. high official stated that this expulsion is a serious issue, as “we do not take it lightly when we declare somebody persona non grata.”

Before the expulsion, four members of the Congress — Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican), Mario Diaz-Balart (Republican), David Rivera (Republican) and Albio Sires (Democrat) — wrote a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, expressing their “grave concern” over the “diplomatic credentials” of the Venezuelan Consul. “According to a documentary by Univision Network titled ‘The Iranian Threat’ […] [the Venezuelan consul] interacted with members from the Iranian and Cuban embassies and with students posing as extremists […] in order to coordinate a cyber attack against the United States Government and our critical infrastructure systems at the White House, FBI, and CIA. If true, these actions demonstrate [Venezuelan consul’s] willingness to undermine U.S. interests and potential threat to our national security posed by [Venezuelan consul’s] activities. With this is mind, we respectfully request the Department of State to investigate these allegations, and if found true, declare her a persona non grata and require her immediate departure from the United States,” they wrote.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Two Years After Earthquake, Aid Operations in Haiti Lack Money

It’s been two years since Haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake in which over 200,000 people were killed. Germans donated some 230 million euros in the wake of the disaster — what has become of this money?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


UK: Border Agency ‘Sorry’ After Missing Chance to Deport Failed Asylum Seeker Who Went on to Kill Partner and Children

The UK Border Agency missed the chance to deport a failed asylum seeker who went on to murder his partner and their two children before taking his own life.

Aram Aziz killed Joy Small, 24, their son, Aubarr, 3, and daughter Chanarra, two, at their flat in Leicester, in February last year, before hanging himself.

It has now emerged officials from a department of the UK Border Agency had been searching for Aziz, an Iraqi Kurd, between May 2005 and November 2006, to expel him from the country after he had been denied asylum.

But they did not know another branch of the agency had moved him to Leicester and was paying for him to stay in asylum seekers’ accommodation.

The 32-year-old was branded an ‘abusive monster’ by friends of Ms Small who say he once poured lighter fluid all over her.

Agency bosses said if the two departments had realised they were dealing with the same man, they would have deported him to Slovenia — the first country in which he had claimed asylum after leaving Iraq.

Gail Adams, UK Border Agency regional director, said: ‘Our deepest sympathies are with the family.’ She added mistakes had hindered his deportation — and apologised.

Aziz left Iraq in February 2005 and first applied to the UK for asylum in April that year under the name of Saman Ali Rahim. That was refused a month later because it was found he had already made an application in Slovenia.

He then vanished before re-emerging to make a second UK application, this time in the name Aram Aziz, in January 2006. He was moved to Leicester while that application was considered.

In December 2008, the UK Border Agency denied asylum — but because he had met Ms Small in early 2006 and had two children he was granted a three-year stay in the UK as a partner of a British national.

An investigation carried out by the Leicester Safeguarding Children Board published its findings, following an inquest earlier this week.

Its report revealed Aziz had two applications to remain in the UK turned down and twice absconded when efforts were made to deport him.

It concluded the tragedy could not have been predicted, but added ‘the only known preventative factor’ would have been if the agency had succeeded in their attempts to deport Aziz to Slovenia.

Ms Adams said the agency had tried to remove Aziz from the UK three times.

She said: ‘On two of these occasions, arrangements were made to detain Mr Aziz but he absconded.

‘We recognise that mistakes internally hindered his removal on the third occasion and for this we apologise.’

She said the agency had since changed the way it worked.

Ms Small’s father Kevin Wathall said: ‘Aziz should have been removed from the country before any of this happened.

‘There was the chance to do that but the border agency messed it up because one lot sit in a different office to the others. I would have liked a personal apology but the most important thing is nothing like this should happen again.’

The report also revealed Aziz he was given a conditional discharge for assaulting Ms Small in September 2007.

Police asked if he could be deported but the border agency turned down the request because of his pending asylum decision.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Zoologger: Unique Life Form is Half Plant, Half Animal

Zoologger is our weekly column highlighting extraordinary animals — and occasionally other organisms — from around the world. ny animals transform themselves almost beyond recognition in the course of their lives. Caterpillars become butterflies and tadpoles become frogs, and if we couldn’t watch them do so we might not even suspect that the two stages were the same creature.

Spectacular as these shifts are, they are only shape-shifting. A tadpole and a frog are both animals, so both must take in food from their surroundings. Not so Mesodinium chamaeleon. This newly discovered single-celled organism is a unique mixture of animal and plant.

Plant pals

M. chamaeleon is a ciliate — a kind of single-celled animal covered in hundreds of tiny “hairs” called cilia. It was discovered in Nivå bay in Denmark by Øjvind Moestrup of the University of Copenhagen, also in Denmark, and his team. Other specimens have since been found off the coasts of Finland and Rhode Island.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...


The story about the Gypsy in Berlin is rwally a reminder - why on earth the West didn't study the East's experience with the so called "Roma"? These people did not assimilate for hundreds of years. The Communists - contrary to the BS spread by articles like this - tried hard to civilize the Gypsies, providing them with flats to live among the native, pressinf them to get at least primary education and so on. To no avail. Two or three Gypsy families were enough to turn a block of 40 or 60 flats into a hell - noise, dirt, stealing, drunken aggressive "youth". Natives yended to escape from such a neighborhoud, more Gypsies filled the place and that was how whole developments are no a no go area for police, electricity or water services etc. Even the ambulances are regularly attacked with stones, bottles and so on usually accused of "coming too late" - as if breaking the frontshield of the ambulance and beating the staff (a regular occasion) will somehow help the sick (many a time the sick are simply drunken Gypsies that had goyght between themselves). A high rate of incest put the final touch to the picture.
And the experiment with Gypsy education... About 10-12 years of age (when their sexual instincts appear) they become unteachable. In the Communism teachers were better respected and protected so they didn't allow those almost illiterate "Roma"kids to pass, they had to reoeat the year but - understandably - they couldn't continue endlessly with this, furthermore, a 15- or 16-year old Gypsy male studying with 11-12 year olds was a real disaster, beating, robbing, groping the younger native children...

This is what happened 50-60 years ago when the Commies tried to civilize the Gypsies. And now they (Communists) are blamed for the "Roma"problem. Yes - by massive vaccination they promoted the survival of many Gypsy babies and by free meals at schools they further helped the Roma demographic explosion.

But for the other things, don't blame the Communists. Blame Roma chromosomes...

kloutlichter said...

Richard Garside at Kings College speaks as we say in Scotland ' alot of keek!'.
I wonder what it is about these so called intellectuals that makes them blind to the bleedin obvious.
The west has always had crime and crime is colour blind unless it is a 'racist' crime. But go to east africa and see how it is.Better still take Mexico. Mexicans are killing themselves hand over foot in larger numbers than in afghanistan.This is said to be due to 'whitey' coke feinds wanting the drug.But 'whitey' aint pickin up the guns and killing the mexicans.They are killin eachother.
It is obviously the fault of america's long history of racism and imperialism.I may as well suggest that it has nothing to do with the fact that mexicans used to rip eachothers hearts out in sacrifice.
Garside is sad excuse for an educated man. He should spend a year in Brixton or Juarez or Niarobi.That would wake him up a bit.