Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120122

Financial Crisis
»Britain in the Midst of First Double Dip Since the 1970s
»2 Irish Men Arrested for Stealing a US Flag
»Making the Mirror for the World’s Biggest Telescope
»More on the Philly Flash Mob Attack
Europe and the EU
»French Far-Right Threatens to Upset Sarkozy’s Poll Hopes
»Italian-Made Hepatitis C Vaccines Pass First Test Hurdles
»Muslim Party Seeks Power in Dutch Parliament
»New Cracks Found on Airbus A380 Jets
»Queen Beatrix of Netherlands Defends Decision to Wear Headscarf on State Visit
»UK: Stargazing Viewer in Planet Coup
North Africa
»Egyptian Extremists Against Copts, Two Wounded, Houses Burned and Churches Attacked
Middle East
»China Leader Warns Iran Not to Make Nuclear Arms
South Asia
»India: Kashmir: Islamic Court Demands Expulsion of 5 Christian Religious
»61% Favor Immigration Checks on Traffic Stops
»Israel Set to Deport 2,000 Ivory Coast Asylum-Seekers
»UK: Bigamist Wins ‘Family Life’ Human Rights Case
»UK: Protecting the Rights of Child-Rapists
»Scientists Behind Armageddon Flu Virus Suspend Their Research Because it ‘Could Put World at Risk of Catastrophic Pandemic’

Financial Crisis

Britain in the Midst of First Double Dip Since the 1970s

Britain’s economy is in the grip of its first double-dip recession for 35 years, City forecasters believe.

This week official growth numbers are expected to show that the economy shrunk by 0.1% in the final three months of last year. The same experts currently predict a similar contraction between January and March of this year. This would mean Britain would have suffered two consecutive quarters of negative growth — the technical definition of a recession.

Economists believes the UK’s recovery has been hamstrung by the eurozone crisis, which has smothered demand for British exports and fractured business confidence at a time when consumer and government spending is weak. Alan Clarke, an economist at Scotia Capital, said: “We already have official figures that show industrial production and the construction sector fell during much of the quarter — it would take a staggering bounce back to avoid a negative number.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


2 Irish Men Arrested for Stealing a US Flag

We’ve all woken up with some random things after a night out. Traffic cones, road signs, garden gnomes — stealing useless things is something that just always seems like a good idea. And if we get caught, we can fall back on that wonderful excuse: “Sure, I’m only having the craic like!”

Somehow we don’t think that James Mulroy and John Kerrigan will be able to use that in their defence though…

The Irish Daily Star reports that the two Irish tourists are facing a year in a US prison for stealing an American flag after a night out.

The Dubliners were locked up after coppers raided their hotel room and found ‘Old Glory’ lying on the ground between their two beds. The two men were charged with theft and vandalism in the city of Knoxville, Tennessee.

The pair were caught after a taxi driver rang cops claiming that he saw Mulroy and Kerrigan cutting down the US flag outside the headquarters of the state’s biggest electricity company, TVA. The two men then legged it from the scene of the crime with the flag in tow.

The taxi driver, who obviously had nothing better to do, followed them to the Crowne Plaza Hotel opposite the scene of the crime and it wasn’t long before police were raiding the room.

“A witness contacted TVA police, stating two white males just cut the American flag down. The two defendants then ran towards the Crowne Plaza. I was able to get the subject’s phone number,” said local cop Keela Yates-Matoy.

“The defendants then told me that they were in room 407 of the hotel. When I arrive at the room I advised the defendants that I was looking for something that I believed they took,” she added.

Barbara Martocci, a spokeswoman for TVA said: “TVA does have the flag back and it’s being held in evidence. We do not plan to reuse it.”

Americans are very protective of their flag and US law reflects this. If the men are convicted they will face up to a year in jail. The good news is that Kerrigan and Mulroy have only been charged with minor offences of theft and vandalism because they just nicked the flag and did not damage it. But even still, the offences remain serious.

Now, what have we learned? Never steal a US flag in the US on a night out…

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Making the Mirror for the World’s Biggest Telescope

Despite its huge 8.4-metre diameter, this mirror being cast inside the University of Arizona’s giant red furnace is only the second of seven such reflectors being made for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT).

The mirror was cast this week in the underground mirror-making lab that sits beneath the university’s football stadium. To form the challenging off-centre shape of the reflector, 21 tonnes of borosilicate glass is heated to 1170 °C and the furnace spins it into a parabolic honeycomb pattern. The cells of glass in the pattern are hollow, allowing the mirror to be lighter and more easy cooled to night-time temperatures, avoiding heat distortion.

With a total optical area of 24.5 metres, the GMT promises images 10 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope, but don’t hold your breath: the telescope is scheduled to be finished in “about 10 years”, and the first mirror has taken seven years to polish to perfection.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

More on the Philly Flash Mob Attack

Police questioned several teenagers Thursday in connection with a brutal, random beating of a 64-year-old war veteran, and sources said they expected arrests to be made soon.

Several juveniles contacted police after seeing news reports of the Tuesday-evening assault in Olney, which left the victim hospitalized with a fractured skull and jaw, as well as other serious injuries to his face, head, and a hand.

The victim, Edward Schaefer, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, was jumped by a group of six teens about 6 p.m. Tuesday near his Olney home, apparently “just for sport,” police said.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

French Far-Right Threatens to Upset Sarkozy’s Poll Hopes

PARIS (Reuters) — French leader Nicolas Sarkozy faces a battle to avoid a shock first round exit in April presidential elections, a poll showed on Thursday, after far-right candidate Marine Le Pen closed to within two points of the incumbent.

A daily rolling poll of voting intentions conducted by Ifop for Paris Match showed Marine Le Pen on 21 percent, up one point and within striking distance of the conservative head of state.

The poll was the latest to confirm that Sarkozy is under pressure from Le Pen ahead of the April 22 first round, and raises the possibility of a repeat of the 2002 upset, when her father Jean-Marie Le Pen knocked out the mainstream Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Italian-Made Hepatitis C Vaccines Pass First Test Hurdles

The secret? Use chimpanzee viruses

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 04 — A promising vaccine against hepatitis C has been formulated by Italian scientists who have developed a new method for producing vaccines — basing them on chimpanzee viruses. Although harmless to humans, chimpanzee viruses are well suited as they are unknown to the human immune system, which is therefore able to develop an immune response that is much more powerful than that induced by the classic viruses in use today.

As reported in two articles in the journal Translational Medicine, published by Science, the technique comes from a company called Okairos, whose laboratories are situated within the Naples CEINGE biotechnology centre.

As Alfredo Nicosia told ANSA, the hepatitis C vaccine has already passed its first experimental phase of tests on human subjects, but this is just the first of a long series and in fact, as he revealed, “our biotech is working on a series of vaccines including one against malaria, one against the RSV virus and a universal vaccine against influenza — as well as a vaccine against Ebola. All these candidate vaccines are based on our adenoviral vectors derived from chimpanzees and for the moment they have been successfully tested on animal models to demonstrate their efficacy before clinical trials with humans”.

The development of a vaccine is based on using so-called ‘vectors’, or little genetic ‘vessels’ that carry the antigen into the human immune system. These vectors are created using inactive viruses (that have been rendered harmless). Usually human adenoviruses are used, but as these viruses are well known to our bodies, (just think of the common cold, for example), they don’t tend to provoke a strong immune reaction.

It was here that the idea arose of using chimpanzee viruses as they are harmless but also unknown to our bodies and therefore able to ‘tease out a reaction’ from the immune system in a much stronger way.

The Italian researchers have gathered a series of samples of chimpanzee adenovirus and have used these to create new vectors.

Of all these vaccines so far developed using these vectors, the most advanced stage of development has been reached by the anti-hepatitis C vaccine. “It was recently injected into human volunteers and it proved to be very safe, i.e. free of side-effects, as well as very effective in its ability to induce a strong and lasting immune response against HCV,” Mr Nicosia said. “Furthermore, the vaccine has prove capable of inducing cytotoxic T-cells (also know as T CD8), that are our only real weapon against such subtle viruses as hepatitis C and HIV”.

“In order to measure the degree of immune response induced by the candidate vaccine in human volunteers, we took blood samples from those who had been vaccinated and isolated their cytoxic T-cells, measuring quantities and abilities to react to HCV antigens. Now, in collaboration with the US National Institute of Health, we have asked for experiments to be authorised to assess the efficacy of our virus and we are hoping to start with Phase II clinical trials in the USA by the end of the first quarter of 2012. This will be at two US university clinics: the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the University of California San Francisco”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Muslim Party Seeks Power in Dutch Parliament

The Dutch Muslim Party has announced plans to seek seats in the Dutch Parliament. The party already has a hold in regional governments in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and other Dutch cities.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Cracks Found on Airbus A380 Jets

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) today ordered detailed inspections on the wings of the Airbus A380 jumbo jet after cracks were found in brackets that secure the wing’s skin to the aircraft. “This condition, if not detected and corrected, could potentially affect the structural integrity of the aeroplane,” the safety watchdog warns.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Queen Beatrix of Netherlands Defends Decision to Wear Headscarf on State Visit

Geert Wilders, leader of anti-Muslim party, criticises monarch for covering her head on visit to mosque in United Arab Emirates

Queen Beatrix took on the fiery leader of her country’s anti-Muslim party, Geert Wilders, on Thursday by dismissing as “nonsense” his criticism of her decision to wear a headscarf during a recent visit to a mosque.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Stargazing Viewer in Planet Coup

The public push initiated on BBC Two’s Stargazing Live series to find planets beyond our Solar System has had an immediate result. A viewer who answered the call has helped spot a world that appears to be circling a star dubbed SPH10066540. The planet is described as being similar in size to our Neptune and circles its parent every 90 days.

Chris Holmes from Peterborough found it by looking through time-lapsed images of stars on The website hosts data gathered by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope, and asks volunteers to sift the information for anything unusual that might have been missed in a computer search.

“I’ve never had a telescope. I’ve had a passing interest in where things are in the sky, but never had any more knowledge about it than that,” Mr Holmes told BBC News. “Being involved in a project like this and actually being the one to find something is a very exciting position.”

Chris Lintott from Oxford University who helps organise added: “We’re ecstatic. We’ve been groaning under the strain of all these people who want to help us, which is exactly how it should be.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egyptian Extremists Against Copts, Two Wounded, Houses Burned and Churches Attacked

The Salafis attack the religious minority to prevent them from voting. In the raid-Rahmaniya Kebly a boy was hit by a bullet, one man has facial injuries. Police and firefighters intentional delay their intervention. In the province of Qaliubia a Christian place of worship attacked.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Anti-Christian violence continues in Egypt, according to local sources, the episodes are linked to the attempt of fundamentalist Islamic fringe — Salafis — to block the vote of the religious minority in the next election. On 19 January, a mob attacked the Coptic Christian community of the village of Kebly-Rahmaniya, near the town of Nag Hammadi, Qena governorate, Upper Egypt. The assailants, chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) attacked and burned down houses, huts, shops and businesses (click here to see the video). The raid was also caused two injuries: a 16 year old boy, struck by a bullet and a 40 year old man with facial injuries.

Witnesses quoted by Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) report that Egyptian security forces did not intervene promptly to repel the onslaught and defend the Christians. Even the teams of firefighters delayed their intervention, arriving only 90 minutes after the assault, and when most of the buildings were already in flames. A source adds that a hut belonging to a Coptic Christian was burned to make room for the construction of a mosque. Moreover in the area there are now 300 Muslim places of worship, compared to only one Christian church even though Christians are 50% of the local population.

According to the Copts, the anti-Christian violence is related to the upcoming parliamentary elections: the Salafis, in fact, want to prevent the religious minority from voting which, with its 20 thousand members, can shift the balance of power in the area. The Copts are close to the Muslim moderate wing, which opposes the Islamist front. A witness confirmed that “no Copt from Rahmaniya-Kebly could vote” and that “the Salafis will win the elections.”

In a second incident, which also occurred January 19, the Salafists and Muslim Brotherhood — together — broke into the church of Abu Makka in Bahteem, Qaliubia, informing members of the congregation that the place of Christian worship is illegal. An extremist also said that the 1,300 square meter building “is perfect for building a mosque and a hospital.” The local bishop was to inaugurate the church and celebrate the first Mass, has suspended all ceremonies for security reasons, sparking the anger and disappointment of the whole congregation.

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

Middle East

China Leader Warns Iran Not to Make Nuclear Arms

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao wrapped up a six-day Middle East tour this week with stronger-than-usual criticism of Iran’s defiance on its nuclear program, and with multibillion-dollar oil deals that would seem to signal less reliance on Tehran for China’s growing energy needs.

Mr. Wen’s criticism of Iran was well received by his Persian Gulf hosts, who urgently want to contain Iran’s regional power and nuclear program. As the United States raises pressure on China and other Asian oil importers to curtail purchases from Iran, Saudi Arabia — China’s No. 1 supplier — and some other gulf states have offered to expand production to make up for any gaps.

Mr. Wen’s comments on Iran were unusually pointed for Chinese diplomacy. In Doha, Qatar’s capital, he said China “adamantly opposes Iran developing and possessing nuclear weapons.” He also explicitly warned Iran not to close the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf bottleneck through which roughly a fifth of the crude oil traded worldwide passes, saying that such action would be regarded as aggression against most of the world’s nations. Iran had earlier threatened to shut down the strait should the United States strengthen sanctions against Tehran.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Kashmir: Islamic Court Demands Expulsion of 5 Christian Religious

Among them Rev. CM Khanna and Fr. Jim Borst. The court wants to control Islamic Christian missionary schools in the region. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) will send a petition to the UN Commission on Human Rights. Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar: “Our schools serve the state and the Muslim population.” A Brahmin who converted to Christianity: “The Indian government is afraid to confront Islamic terrorism.”

Srinagar (AsiaNews) — An Islamic court in Jammu and Kashmir yesterday called for the expulsion of five Christians and strict inspection of Christian missionary schools in the region. Among the personalities involved in the decision, the Anglican pastor CM Khanna and Fr Jim Borst, recently accused of proselytism and forced conversions. Sajan K George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), states: “This verdict is illegal, because the Islamic court has no authority in our country. The Supreme Court should take action against members of this Shariah body. “

Bishop Peter Celestine, of the Diocese of Jammu-Srinagar, says: “The Indian Constitution guarantees religious freedom, which includes the right to spread one’s beliefs and convert. In his schools, Fr. Jim Borst has only ever served the Muslim majority, educating young people. The missionary has never been involved in forced conversion or proselytizing. Our Christian institutions serve the state, not our interests. “

According to the president of the GCIC, “if the Indian judicial system submits itself to these courts Islamic extremist violence will be unleashed against the Christian minority.” For this reason, he adds, “we will send a petition to the UN Commission on Human Rights, to ensure that the five men find justice.”

For Predhuman Joseph Dhar, a Brahmin Hindu convert to Christianity, “the Indian government is afraid to confront the growing threat of Islamic terrorism” and “is doing nothing for the fate of Kashmir.”

The intellectual, who along with Fr Borst has translated the Bible into Kashmiri, said: “Not all Muslims are terrorists, many of them want to live in peace. But today the world situation has exacerbated the tones, and anyone who speaks of extremism or Islamic terrorism is considered racist and Islamophobic. For this, no one in Kashmir is willing to stand against the abuses and attacks on the minority Christian and Hindu. “

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


61% Favor Immigration Checks on Traffic Stops

Most voters continue to support immigration status checks on routine traffic stops and favor strict sanctions on employers who give illegal immigrants jobs.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% of Likely Voters agree that if a police officer pulls someone over for a traffic violation, the officer should automatically check to see if that person is in the country legally. Thirty percent (30%) disagree. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Israel Set to Deport 2,000 Ivory Coast Asylum-Seekers

No UN decision on refugee status, but Foreign Ministry calls situation ‘stable.’

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees had granted Ivorians collective protection from deportation while the unrest in their country continued.

But three weeks ago, the Population and Immigration Authority announced that this group protection would expire at the end of January, because the fighting had ended, and the Foreign Ministry had determined that refugees could return safely. It advised the 2,000 Ivorians in the country to prepare to leave within a month, adding that if they didn’t leave voluntarily, they would be deported come February.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Bigamist Wins ‘Family Life’ Human Rights Case

A foreign drug-dealing bigamist has won the right to stay in Britain because of his human right to “family life”.

Home Office lawyers hoped the deportation of foreign criminal Taoufik Didi would be an open-and-shut case.

He had been sentenced to three years in prison for selling cocaine to undercover police officers, and so exceeded the criteria for “automatic deportation” under the law.

However, the Moroccan launched a human rights appeal, telling immigration judges he had been in a loving relationship with a British woman, Marina Gregory, for 10 years. He now intended to wed her and start a family.

The judges believed the 47-year-old criminal and, to the disappointment of Home Office officials, granted his appeal under the Human Rights Act — ruling that his “right to private and family life” entitled him to stay on in Britain.

Yet all was not as it seemed.

The judges reached their decision despite two surprising admissions made by Didi in court. He told them he already had a wife, who he had married in 1989, and was awaiting a divorce which would free him to remarry.

Furthermore, he admitted that he had initially kept his first wife’s existence a secret from Miss Gregory — although he claimed that she had now forgiven his deception.

Now The Sunday Telegraph has established that Didi did not tell the whole truth in the immigration hearing — and that his family life is even more convoluted than the version the judges heard.

In fact, Didi has two “wives”. He committed bigamy by “marrying” Miss Gregory three years ago in an open-air ceremony in Cyprus, while legally wed to his first wife.

The case provides further evidence of how human rights are being “gold-plated” by the courts in immigration cases, and raises questions over how rigorous the courts and Home Office are in checking the truth of migrants’ accounts.

Didi came to Britain in 1986 when he was aged 22. Three years later, on May 12, 1989, he married Karen Ann Ridley at the register office in Redbridge, north-east London.

They remain married today; the Principal Registry of the Family Division confirmed the union had not been dissolved in decree absolute.

Didi was granted indefinite leave to remain in Britain on the basis of that marriage.

He told the court he began a relationship with Miss Gregory, a hairdresser from north London, in 2001 and they moved in together in 2006.

With the help of his friend Denise Courtnell, 68, Didi set up and managed a nightspot, Bar Lush, in Chingford, north-east London, but it was here that he began dealing drugs in 2008.

He was arrested in 2009 after selling £160 “wraps” of cocaine to undercover police officers on four occasions, and was jailed for three years at Snaresbrook Crown Court in March 2010.

The criminal, who has previous convictions for false accounting, criminal damage and perverting the course of justice, served half the sentence and was freed last October.

When the Home Office began deportation proceedings he launched a first appeal, and lost.

Undeterred, Didi brought a second appeal to the Upper Tribunal and argued he had a human right to remain in Britain because he was in a relationship with Miss Gregory.

“The appellant … says that they became engaged on March 27, 2007, and had a religious blessing ceremony on March 30, 2008, through an imam,” said Upper Tribunal Judge Peter King.

“It became evident to the tribunal that the appellant had practised ongoing deceit in respect of Ms Gregory that he had never told her that he had been previously married. Indeed, he did not seem to be divorced either.

“He had implied to Ms Gregory that he was free to marry her, which then and still now he is not.”

Judge King added: “The appellant is now in the process of filing a divorce petition, he having been separated from his legal wife for over 15 years.”

However, The Sunday Telegraph has established Didi and Miss Gregory had a civil marriage ceremony at the Palm Beach Hotel in Larnaca, Cyprus, on May 18, 2008.

The ceremony, carried out by an official from the town hall in Aradippou Municipality, was attended by more than 100 guests including Miss Gregory’s mother and sisters, and friends from London.

The couple accepted each other as their “lawful spouse” and exchanged rings. In an unusual choice of music, they cut the cake to the sounds of the 1980s pop song Somebody Else’s Guy by Jocelyn Brown.

In Didi’s appeal last October, Miss Gregory said she was “shocked and upset” when she belatedly found out about his 1989 marriage, but had since forgiven him. She neglected to mention the 2008 Cyprus “wedding”.

Bigamy is a crime in the UK. Under Cypriot law, making a false statement in a civil marriage carries a prison term.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Protecting the Rights of Child-Rapists

Meet Viktor Akulic, ordinary rapist, child-rapist and general violent jailbird. He is a recent arrival in our country, thanks to the liberal elite’s policy of deliberately letting in as many people as they can as fast as possible, whether the rest of us like it or not.

Akulic filmed the rape while it was taking place. The victim, by this time, had black eyes and bruises on her face and all over her body.

Akulic, who, like you and me (though I’d much rather not be), is a citizen of the European Union, drifted unhindered into the Euro-region formerly known as Great Britain in 2010.

Nobody cared that he had spent much of his adult life in prison for violence, or that he had once raped a seven-year-old girl.

As Lady Justice Hallett (of course) reduced his prison sentence on appeal last week, she asked in some astonishment: ‘Do we let in just anyone?’ The answer, of course, is: ‘Yes, Judge.’

Her spluttering amazement came after Akulic’s lawyer explained that the Lithuanian rapist was an EU citizen, and so has as much right to be here as you and I — a simple point I have been trying to get across for years.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Scientists Behind Armageddon Flu Virus Suspend Their Research Because it ‘Could Put World at Risk of Catastrophic Pandemic’

Researchers studying a potentially more lethal, airborne version of bird flu have suspended their studies because of concerns the mutant virus they have created could be used as a devastating form of bioterrorism or accidentally escape the lab.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]