Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120220

Financial Crisis
»EU Should Admit Greece is Bankrupt
»France Speeds Up Sale of Real Estate Assets
»Iceland’s Viking Victory
»Italy: Spread Dips Below 350
»Japan Logs Record Trade Deficit
»Maghreb: Economic Climate Driving Integration
»OECD Urges Norway to Rethink Capital Taxes
»Top German Economist: ‘Restructuring Greece Within the Euro is Illusory’
»US Economist Kenneth Rogoff: ‘Germany Has Been the Winner in the Globalization Process’
»70 Years Later: Still Blaming an ‘Enemy Within’
»FBI Caves to Islamists, Pulls ‘Offensive’ Muslim Material
»From Law to Decree
»Muslim Group Asks Stores to Remove Alcohol, Tobacco
»Obama Givng Away Oil Resources to Russia?
»Scientist Cooks Up a Meatless Product for Meat Lovers
Europe and the EU
»Catalonia’s Quest for Greater Autonomy
»Danish Breivik Performance to Show in Norway
»Einstein’s Swiss-Friendly Letter for Sale
»EU Shrugs Off Iran Threat to Cut Oil to More EU Nations
»Germany: Goodnight Sunshine
»Germany: Defeat in Presidential Battle Leaves Merkel Isolated
»Internet Paranoia: Are Protesters’ ACTA Concerns Justified?
»Italy: First-Ever Piracy Trial to Take Place in Rome
»Joachim Gauck to be Next President: German Parties Choose Christian Wulff’s Successor
»Job Cohen Resigns as Dutch Labour Party Leader
»Norway Motorist Reined in
»Norway Driver Stopped With Five Reindeer in Car
»Norway: Oslo Theatre to Stage Play About Breivik
»Resistance Leader Looks Back on Principled Life
»Spain: Garzon Expelled From Magistracy as of Today
»‘Swedes Should Eat More Rabbits’: Scientist
»Swedish Fire Service to Launch Diversity Project
»Swiss Pilot in 3-Day Solar Flight Simulation
»The World’s First “Test-Tube” Meat, A Hamburger Made From a Cow’s Stem Cells, Will be Produced This Fall, Dutch Scientist Mark Post Told a Major Science Conference on Sunday.
»UK: Chippie Found to be Racist Plaice to Work Html
»UK: Dereck Chisora Brawls With David Haye
»UK: Police Shoot Man ‘Brandishing Sword’ Four Times After Tasers Failed to Stop Him During Stand-Off
»UK: Phone and Email Records to be Stored in New Spy Plan
Mediterranean Union
»EuroMed: 5+5 Starts Again at Last
»Jordan: EU Task Force Arriving for Reforms by 2012
North Africa
»The Power Elite and the Muslim Brotherhood
»Tunisia: Mosques Must Remain Places of Worship, Government
»Tunisian Arrests Over Sexy Pics
Israel and the Palestinians
»Israel: Anti-Christian Slogans on Jerusalem Church
Middle East
»EU Sanctions Not as Tough as They Sound
»Iran Threatens to Cut Oil to Other EU Countries
»Syria: Analyst: Arab Lead Needed for “New Kosovo”
»Turkey: Islamic Colossal Film Idolises the Fall of Constantinople
»Language Vote Reflects Latvian-Russian Divide
»Latvians Reject Russian as Second Language
»Polish Conservation Council Against 1940 Katyn Massacre Exhumations
»Russia Thwarts U.S. Central Asian Counterdrug Program
South Asia
»‘Big Differences’ With India Over Detained Italian Marines
»The Road to Reconciliation in Sri Lanka is Long
Far East
»Asia Taking Lion’s Share of Iranian Oil Exports
»South Korea Holds Drills Despite Threats
»Turkey, China Eye Closer Cooperation
Sub-Saharan Africa
»We’re Born to Kill: Will Wipe Out All Indian Students on Campus’ (…) We Already Started With Whites…’ Writes a Black Westville University Student
»Sarkozy Walks the Immigration Tight Rope
»UK: Few Jobs Available Go to Immigrants
Culture Wars
»A Seven-Year-Old Branded a Bigot. How on Earth Have We Come to This?
»Animal Rights Group Says Drone Shot Down
»UK: Boy: 7, Branded a Racist for Asking Schoolmate: ‘Are You Brown Because You Come From Africa?’
»UK: Sol Campbell: We Need Some Black Faces on Match of the Day
»Moon’s Scarred Crust Hints at Recent Activity, Scientists Say

Financial Crisis

EU Should Admit Greece is Bankrupt

A Commentary By Christian Rickens

Greece is bankrupt and will need a 100 percent debt cut to get back on its feet. The bailout package about to be agreed by the euro finance ministers will help Greece’s creditors more than the country itself. EU leaders should channel the aid into rebuilding the economy rather than rewarding financial speculators for their high-risk deals.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France Speeds Up Sale of Real Estate Assets

Castles and prisons to be sold for financial recovery, press

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, FEBRUARY 20 — Castles and buildings, as well as prisons and barracks in the heart of Paris will be sold off by the French government in an accelerated manner in order to raise 2.2 million euros in three years. Overall, 1,872 state-owned real estate properties — in France and other parts of the world — will be put up for sale by the end of 2014. The aim — according to the daily paper Le Parisien — is to achieve financial recovery, with France and Europe shaken by the debt crisis.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iceland’s Viking Victory

Congratulations to Iceland.

Fitch has upgraded the country to investment grade BBB — with stable outlook, expecting government debt to peak at 100pc of GDP.

The OECD’s latest forecast said growth will be 2.4pc this year, after 2.9pc in 2011.

Unemployment will fall from 7pc last year to 6.1pc this year and then 5.3pc in 2013.

The current account deficit was 11.2pc in 2010. It will shrink to 3.4pc this year, and will be almost disappear next year.

The strategy of devaluation behind capital controls has rescued the economy. (Yes, I know there is a dispute about exchange controls, but that is a detail.) The country has held its Nordic welfare together and preserved social cohesion. It is slowly prospering again, though private debt weighs heavy.

Nobody is forcing the elected government out of office or appointing technocrats as prime minister. The Althingi sits untrammeled in its island glory, the oldest parliament in the world (930 AD).

The outcome is a vindication of sovereign currencies and national central banks able to respond to shocks.

The contrast with the unemployment catastrophe and debt-deflation spirals across Europe’s arc of depression is by now crystal clear. Those EMU shroud-wavers who persist in arguing that exit from the Europe would be suicidal will have to start coming up with a better argument.

Is it now so clear the Iceland will join the EU and the euro? Don’t bet on it.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Spread Dips Below 350

Milan bourse up after Monti visit

(ANSA) — Rome, February 20 — The spread between 10-year Italian and German bonds dipped below 350 points, to 349.6, on hopes of a Greece bailout deal Monday.

The yield, another measure of market sentiment, fell to 5.46%.

The Milan bourse closed 1.07% up after a morale-boosting visit from Premier Mario Monti.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Japan Logs Record Trade Deficit

Japan posted an unprecedented trade deficit in January, brought about by rising fuel imports after last year’s nuclear disaster and slumping demand in Europe. A strong yen also contributed to the imbalance. Japan logged a record trade deficit in January, fresh statistical data from Tokyo showed on Monday. Last month’s deficit came in at 1.48 trillion yen ($18.7 billion) — the highest since officials started compiling relevant figures in 1979.

The negative record came after Japan registered its first annual trade deficit in 31 years in 2011, giving rise to fears that the country was likely to see further declines throughout the current year. Japan’s overall exports tumbled by 9.3 percent to 4.51 trillion yen in January due in particular to lower shipments of semiconductors and other electronic components and devices.

“We expect this trend of deficit to continue until early 2013 with fuel demand for power generation staying strong and slow global demand and the high yen hurting exports,” Barclays Capital economist Yuichiro Nagar said in a statement.

Imports in January surged by 9.8 percent to 5.985 trillion yen as purchases of natural gas and coal shot up further. Demand for fossil fuel in the country has increased considerably since the earthquake-tsunami disaster last year which was sparked by the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years. As a consequence, the government in Tokyo had to take many nuclear reactors offline.

Japan’s surplus with the European Union last month shrank by 7.7 percent to 531.3 billion yen. Car exports to the area decreased by 29.7 percent as European demand slumped owing to the ongoing debt crisis.

Standard & Poor’s on Monday affirmed Japan’s AA rating with a negative outlook. The agency warned it could lower the country’s sovereign rating, if the economy expanded less than expected, or if public debt continued to grow. The government in Tokyo is currently struggling to win support for higher taxes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Maghreb: Economic Climate Driving Integration

Says World Bank report

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, FEBRUARY 17 — The harsh international economic climate, centred around a Europe, which is the main trading partner with North African countries, has brought the issue of closer ties between the countries of the Maghreb back onto political agendas. Closer integration has now become indispensible for regional development.

According to a report by the World Bank, a failure to integrate the region’s economies will prove unsustainable and would cost Union of Arab Maghreb (UAM) countries up to two GDP growth points or 200,000 potential jobs.

The cost of a “non-Maghreb”, i.e. of failing to meet the challenge of regional integration, would also have a price in terms of exodus of capital. Each year, 8 billion dollars would be diverted from the Maghreb to investments outside. As Morocco’s MAP press agency notes, this would lead to a loss in earnings of 200 billion dollars.

At present, growth in the region is closely bound up with European growth, as around 80 per cent of trade is done with Europe. The fresh recessionary phase that has been forecast for the Euro-Zone in 2012 both by the International Monetary Fund and by the World Bank will therefore dampen foreign demand for UAM products, as well as foreign direct investment in the region and public sector development cooperation.

This is the context that makes a strategic common vision for the Maghreb an absolute and irreversible necessity. Twenty-three years on from the signing of the treaty that created the Union of Arab Maghreb, the countries of the region still await real integration. Despite the signing of around thirty accords and conventions over these years, the end objective of setting up a free trade area for a potential joint market of 90 million consumers has yet to be realised.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

OECD Urges Norway to Rethink Capital Taxes

Economic Cooperation and Development, in a recent report on Norway’s fiscal policy, has recommended a comprehensive review of the Norweigan tax regime with respect to capital taxation and its wealth tax.

The report’s main recommendation centres around the tax treatment of investment vehicles for the holding of wealth. The report demonstrates the extraordinary tax advantages provided to housing investment, which it noted are likely to influence the way in which households hold their overall wealth, favouring residential investment at the expense of more productive categories of investment. The report advocates that the taxation of different investment asset classes should be aligned.

Without such a reform, the OECD has warned the current regime raises the risk of vulnerability to the financial system of macroeconomic shocks. “House prices have risen to new historic highs and household debt is also high. The government should design a package to reform the taxation of capital that, when accounting for purely inflationary gains and the wealth tax, would align a household’s capital income tax rates across all asset classes at a level close to its labour income tax rate,” the report recommends.

“For housing this should include reducing the implicit tax subsidy of owner-occupied housing and removing the special treatment of real estate in the wealth tax,” the OECD has advocated.

The OECD has further recommended that imputed rents and capital gains from owner-occupied property should be taxed at the same rate as other capital income. An alternative would be a national tax on the market value of owner-occupied property, the report says, with a third possibility being to eliminate mortgage interest deductibility on owner-occupied property, although this would still leave distortions in place, the report says.

The OECD report also calls for authorities to replace all existing allowances and preferential rules with regards to the taxation of inheritances and gifts with a donor-independent lifetime allowance.

In the absence of viable measures to restructure this area of taxation, the OECD has recommended that authorities consider reducing the wealth tax or phasing it out in its entirety. In the absence of the wealth tax, authorities should consider introducing a personal allowance on capital income, the report concludes.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

Top German Economist: ‘Restructuring Greece Within the Euro is Illusory’

Europe’s finance ministers plan to approve a second bailout for Greece on Monday but Hans-Werner Sinn, the head of Ifo, a top German economic think tank, warns that the money will only help international banks — not the Greeks. He argues that Greece can only solve its crisis if it quits the euro.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

US Economist Kenneth Rogoff: ‘Germany Has Been the Winner in the Globalization Process’

In an interview with SPIEGEL, Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff, 58, says it was a mistake to bring all the southern European countries into the common currency. He also argues that Greece should be granted a “sabbatical” from the euro and that a United States of Europe may take shape far sooner than many believe.

SPIEGEL: Does that mean the whole idea of the euro was a mistake?

Rogoff: No, a common currency for countries like Germany and France was a reasonable risk, given the political dividends. But it was a grave mistake to bring all the south European states into the euro zone purely for reasons of political union. Most of them were not ready for it economically.

SPIEGEL: That may well be, but the fact is that now they are part of the monetary union, and that can’t simply be unravelled.

Rogoff: Which is why there is only one alternative: Either the euro completely collapses — with all the catastrophic consequences that would entail — or the core members of the currency union manage to turn the euro zone into a genuine political union.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


70 Years Later: Still Blaming an ‘Enemy Within’

By Michael Honda

, marks the seventieth anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order (EO) 9066 — a tragic moment in our nation’s history.

On February 19th, 1942, “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership” overwhelmed the best angels of the American character. EO 9066 declared the West Coast a military zone. Japanese Americans were branded as an “enemy within.” 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced to evacuate their homes. My family and I were herded like cattle into the Amache internment camp in southeast Colorado. I was less than one year old at the time.

We cannot stand idly by as an entire American community is demonized as a “religious enemy within.” We cannot hide our eyes when failed leaders like State Rep. Rick Womack of Tennessee declare that Muslims must be purged from our military or that Muslims pray to a false God. We must not stay silent as Rep. Peter King — during a recent hearing on the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor — uses tragic but isolated crimes and unnamed sources to proclaim that one group — Muslims— are the source of all homegrown terrorist threats to the military.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

FBI Caves to Islamists, Pulls ‘Offensive’ Muslim Material


…FBI Director Mueller secretly met on February 8 at FBI headquarters with a coalition of groups including various Islamist and militant Arabic groups who in the past have defended Hamas and Hizballah and have also issued blatantly anti-Semitic statements. At this meeting, the FBI revealed that it had removed more than 1000 presentations and curricula on Islam from FBI offices around the country that was deemed “offensive.” The FBI did not reveal what criteria was used to determine why material was considered “offensive” but knowledgeable law enforcement sources have told the IPT that it was these radical groups who made that determination. Moreover, numerous FBI agents have confirmed that from now on, FBI headquarters has banned all FBI offices from inviting any counter-terrorist specialists who are considered “anti-Islam” by Muslim Brotherhood front groups.

The February 8 FBI meeting was the culmination of a series of unpublicized directives issued in the last three months by top FBI officials to all its field offices to immediately recall and withdraw any presentation or curricula on Islam throughout the entire FBI. In fact, according to informed sources and undisclosed documents, the FBI directive was instigated by radical Muslim groups in the US who had repeatedly met with top officials of the Obama Administration to complain, among other things, that the mere usage of the term of “radical Islam” in FBI curricula was “offensive” and ‘racist.” And thus, directives went out by Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Mueller to censor all such material. Included in the material destroyed or removed by the FBI and the DOJ were powerpoints and articles that defined jihad as “holy war” or presentations that portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization bent on taking over the world—a major tenant that the Muslim Brotherhood has publicly stated for decades.

During the next several months, the IPT will be releasing a series of major investigative reports revealing the secret infiltration by and collaboration with radical Islamic organizations by the Obama administration that has spread to the National Security Council, the Dept of Justice, the FBI, the Dept of Homeland Security, the CIA and the State Department as well as local law enforcement.


[Much more at the website]

[Return to headlines]

From Law to Decree

Angelo M. Codevilla


Laws such as Obamacare, which consist so largely of open-ended grants of authority, virtually invite Administrations to issue rules that make new laws under the guise of executing existing ones. Once upon a time, the courts ruled that this sort of thing is the very negation of law.

Under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act constituted boards to regulate various parts of the economy. They set prices and working conditions for everything from poultry to pants, and ended up fining a tailor for pressing pants for 35 cents instead of 40 cents, and a producer of kosher chickens of selling too cheap.

In 1935, in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down the NIRA because Congress could not give legal force to rules it had not passed. Congress cannot create new legislators because it cannot delegate its Constitutional power to legislate. The basis for that decision, “res delegata non deleganda est” (delegated powers are not to be delegated further) is still taught in the law schools and is in fact the basis of standard civics. Laws are made by our elected legislators, executed by our elected Presidents and Governors and enforced by impartial judges who may penalize us for transgressions only by unanimous consent of a jury of our peers.

Yet today, standard civics is mostly irrelevant because the courts have gone along with Congress’ relaxation of the principle of non-delegation. Today, we live less by laws than by decrees conceived, enforced, and adjudicated by so-called “independent agencies” such as the Environmental Protection Agency. The civics books call them “quasi-legislative, quasi-executive, quasi-judicial.”

For ordinary citizens, “quasi” means “the decrees and the decreers are beyond your reach.” The justification for this, and hence for pretending that the modern administrative state can coexist with the rule of law, is that the rules made under the authority of any law may only fill in the law’s interstices.

But now, since laws consist largely of mandates for rule-making that translate legal generalities into what the bureaucrats and their interest group allies want, Lady Law is no longer blindfolded holding balanced scales. Since now she must weight the rules in exquisite detail, Lady Law’s eyes have to fix sharply on the scales she is fixing.

It’s no wonder that we are learning to treat her more as the tramp she is than as the lady she was.


[Return to headlines]

Muslim Group Asks Stores to Remove Alcohol, Tobacco

CHESTER, PA — A group of Islamic leaders is urging Muslim business owners to stop selling alcohol, tobacco and drug paraphernalia, which are prohibited in the Quran because they contribute to the destruction of humanity.

The United Muslim Coalition for “Chester Citizens Against Violence and Crime” mailed out a letter detailing the request to 16 Muslim-owned businesses last month.

The coalition wants the businesses to stop selling such products because they run counter to Islam and also contribute to the drug and violence problem plaguing Chester, Pennsylvania. The coalition claims the business owners are ignoring passages in the Quran that call for Muslims to protect others from harm.

“They’re preying on the addictions that plague our community,” Imam Haneef Mahdi said. “We’re trying to eradicate from the root those things that are hurting our community.”

Imam Farid W. Rasool said many people buy blunts from these stores strictly to lace the wraps with marijuana, cocaine or embalming fluid. The latter is known as “wet” on the streets.

Rasool said many of Chester’s youth engaged in drugs and violence identify with the Muslim faith. Coalition leaders said they are tired of seeing these youth — and others who don’t identify with Islam — dying on the streets.

“We have a right to request that you stop contributing to the death of your community,” Keith Muhammad said. “We are asking as a community for you to stop. That should be respected. Certainly, out of the law of Islam, you should be moved.”

Coalition leaders said they are just one cog in a broader effort to improve Chester. They said they simply are asking their fellow Muslims to adhere to their faith and stop taking actions detrimental to the community.

If the business owners do not cease selling forbidden products, the coalition said it will ask the public to stop supporting those businesses.

Coalition leaders do not view their efforts merely as another anti-violence group taking action.

They said they want to influence the morality of the community and are calling on Muslim business owners to cease living a contradictory lifestyle.

“We live by example,” Muhammad said. “That is what we’re trying to get them to do.”

In their letter, the coalition also asked Muslim business owners to cease selling pork and any other products also forbidden in the Quran.

The Muslim leaders spent two weeks visiting each of the establishments, because none of them responded to their letter or attended their meeting, they said.

Mahdi said many of the business owners expressed concerns about profits. Some store operators are immigrants more focused on prospering in America than following their religion, he said.

“The concern was normally the monetary loss that would be taken if they removed these products from their stores,” Mahdi said. “There are certainly other things they could be selling that would make their businesses profitable.”

Coalition leaders noted at least 25 Muslim-owned businesses are making profits by selling wholesome products. There is no need to sell forbidden products, they said.

“We are enjoined to have love in our hearts to every human being,” Nusrat J. Rashid said. “Why on earth would you want another human being to be subject to these dangers?”

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Obama Givng Away Oil Resources to Russia?

[The agreement was negotiated in total secrecy. The state of Alaska was not allowed to participate in the negotiations, nor was the public given any opportunity for comment. This is despite the fact the Alaska Legislature has passed resolutions of opposition — but the State Department doesn’t seem to care]

Obama’s State Department is giving away seven strategic, resource-laden Alaskan islands to the Russians. Yes, to the Putin regime in the Kremlin. … The seven endangered islands in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea include one the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The Russians are also to get the tens of thousands of square miles of oil-rich seabeds surrounding the islands. The Department of Interior estimates billions of barrels of oil are at stake.

The State Department has undertaken the giveaway in the guise of a maritime boundary agreement between Alaska and Siberia. Astoundingly, our federal government itself drew the line to put these seven Alaskan islands on the Russian side. But as an executive agreement, it could be reversed with the stroke of a pen by President Obama or Secretary Clinton.

[see the whole thing at the URL]

[Return to headlines]

Scientist Cooks Up a Meatless Product for Meat Lovers

Meat lovers may not need to wait for the price of $250,000 test-tube hamburgers to drop. A researcher says that he has created a vegetable-based product capable of winning over the taste buds and wallets of meat and dairy lovers.

Such success could singlehandedly help satiate the world’s growing appetite for meat — a desire that is expected to double meat consumption by 2050. The first such food capable of replicating the taste, texture and nutrition of animal products could very likely debut by the end of this year, said Patrick Brown, a molecular biologist at Stanford University. “We have a class of products that totally rocks, and cannot be distinguished from the animal-based product it replaces, even by hardcore foodies,” Brown said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Catalonia’s Quest for Greater Autonomy

Scotland’s planned referendum on independence has inspired an upsurge of nationalist sentiment in the Spanish region of Catalonia. Spain’s financial crisis is proving a potent engine for the Catalan demands. Catalonia’s national identity was repressed when Spain was a dictatorship. Soon after Spain’s transition to democracy following Franco’s death in 1975, powers were devolved to the nationalist government in Barcelona. But Spain’s richest region was left was a sense of economic grievance — even today, Catalonia pays around 8 percent more of its GDP to Madrid in taxes than it gets back in public spending.

Now, Catalonia’s best-known politician, Jordi Pujol, has his eye on Scotland, where Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party recently announced plans to hold a referendum on independence — probably including an option for greater devolved powers for the Scottish parliament.

“Westminster is the great church of democracy and if the majority of Scots, in a very democratic way, believe they can have a democracy — how can that not be a good thing?” Pujol told DW. The veteran independence campaigner was president of the Catalonia region for 23 years. Like in Scotland, he suspects that there would be more support for greater devolution than for full-blown independence.

“We probably do not have a majority in favour of independence — it’s a strong minority but I’m sure we have a great majority for a new fiscal relationship between Spain and Catalonia”

Catalonians say they pay much more in taxes than what they get back in public spending, and this is their most potent grievance. Indian-born economist Pankaj Ghemawat, one of Catalonia’s many immigrants, points out that there are key differences between Scotland and Catalonia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Danish Breivik Performance to Show in Norway

A Danish monologue performance based on a Norwegian serial killer’s manifesto is to show in Norway

The monologue performance adapted from the manifesto produced by Anders Behring Breivik will have its first performance in Denmark, but will premiere in Oslo the day after. The Danish director Christian Lollike harvested widespread criticism both at home and in Norway when he announced in January he planned to mount a performance centred around a manifesto produced by Breivik prior to his Norwegian bomb and shooting spree in which 77 people were killed.

Dramatikkens Hus in Oslo, however, has decided to premiere the production the day after its first performance in Copenhagen, according to the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK’s website. “It seems the first performance will be in Copenhagen mid-October. Then the idea is that they get on a plane to Oslo the next morning so that the Oslo premiere will be the day after,” Dramatikkens Hus Artistic Manager Kai Johnsen is quoted as saying by NRK.

Johnsen says Dramatikkens Hus is involved in developing the production. “I got an e-mail from him (Ed: Lollike) on Sunday evening in which he said he had started and that it was both terribly interesting and terribly difficult,” Johnsen says.

Denmark is apparently not the only country to be preparing a production about Breivik. According to NRK preparations are being made for two productions in Sweden, one in Britain and one in the Netherlands where the renowned Amsterdam theatre DeBalie envisages a play in which Breivik meets the right wing Dutch politician Gert Wilders.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Einstein’s Swiss-Friendly Letter for Sale

A letter written by celebrated physicist Albert Einstein extolling the virtues of Switzerland is expected to fetch thousands of francs when it goes under the hammer there in June. The 1917 letter was sent to German Jewish industrialist and politician Walther Rathenau who went on to serve as foreign affairs minister before being assassinated in 1922.

In the note, German-born Einstein, who became a Swiss national in 1901, hailed the benefits of small states and cited Switzerland as an example. The future Nobel prize winner said that the size of the country’s cantons necessitated a federal structure to assume essential state functions however. He held up the German district of Brandenburg as the ideal administrative size.

The letter is from a private collection and will be auctioned by the Fischer Gallery in Lucerne where it is expected to attract bids of between 25,000 and 35,000 Swiss francs ($27,500-38,450). In 2009, the gallery sold Einstein’s doctorate certificate from Zurich University for 300,960 francs.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Shrugs Off Iran Threat to Cut Oil to More EU Nations

(BRUSSELS) — The European Union on Monday shrugged off Iran’s threat to cut oil to “hostile” EU nations, saying the bloc was capable of coping with any halt in supplies. “In terms of immediate security of stocks, the EU is well stocked with oil and petroleum products to face a potential disruption of supplies,” said Sebastien Brabant, a spokesman for EU policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Iran this weekend halted sales to France and Britain and earlier Monday threatened to extend the ban to other nations. The move appears to be a response to an EU-wide ban on Iranian oil that is to come fully into effect July 1 as part of Western sanctions against Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Exports to Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands would be stopped “if the hostile actions of some European countries continue”, said Ahmad Qalebani, who runs the National Iranian Oil Company.

Iran exports about 20 percent of its crude — some 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) — to the European Union, most of which goes to Italy, Spain and Greece. France imports only around three percent of its oil from Iran, and Britain less than one percent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Goodnight Sunshine

Germany is cutting solar-power subsidies because they are expensive and inefficient.

Germany once prided itself on being the “photovoltaic world champion”, doling out generous subsidies—totaling more than $130 billion, according to research from Germany’s Ruhr University—to citizens to invest in solar energy. But now the German government is vowing to cut the subsidies sooner than planned and to phase out support over the next five years. What went wrong?

Subsidizing green technology is affordable only if it is done in tiny, tokenistic amounts. Using the government’s generous subsidies, Germans installed 7.5 gigawatts of photovoltaic capacity last year, more than double what the government had deemed “acceptable.” It is estimated that this increase alone will lead to a $260 hike in the average consumer’s annual power bill.

According to Der Spiegel, even members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s staff are now describing the policy as a massive money pit. Philipp Rösler, Germany’s minister of economics and technology, has called the spiraling solar subsidies a “threat to the economy.”

Defenders of Germany’s solar subsidies also claim that they have helped to create “green jobs.” But each job created by green-energy policies costs an average of $175,000—considerably more than job creation elsewhere in the economy, such as infrastructure or health care. And many “green jobs” are being exported to China, meaning that Europeans subsidize Chinese jobs, with no CO2 reductions.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Defeat in Presidential Battle Leaves Merkel Isolated

In accepting the opposition’s candidate for the next German president, Angela Merkel has suffered the bitterest defeat of her chancellorship. Her junior coalition partner, the FDP, teamed up with the two main opposition parties to push through their choice. The ignominious defeat could mark a turning point for the German chancellor.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Internet Paranoia: Are Protesters’ ACTA Concerns Justified?

Hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated across Europe against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, much to the surprise of the continent’s politicians. A new protest movement is forming around the issue, amid concerns that users could be severely punished for minor copyright infringements. Meanwhile, Internet experts warn against anti-ACTA hysteria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: First-Ever Piracy Trial to Take Place in Rome

Nine men face up to 20 years in prison

(ANSA) — Rome, February 20 — A first-ever trial against international piracy will take place in Rome March 23.

The nine Somalians who allegedly attacked and hijacked the Italian tanker Montecristo last October face charges of piracy, weapons possession and damages.

Four minors were also involved in the siege and are being detained in a juvenile detention center in Rome, while the nine adults waiting trial are being held in Rome’s Rebibbia and Regina Coeli prisons. Investigators say that the attackers planned on demanding ransom that would have been used for terrorist activities. If found guilty the men face up to 20 years in prison.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Joachim Gauck to be Next President: German Parties Choose Christian Wulff’s Successor

Germany’s political establishment has agreed on a successor to Christian Wulff, who resigned as president on Friday. Joachim Gauck, a respected former East German civil-rights activist, is set to be Germany’s next head of state. But his nomination came only after a fierce conflict within Merkel’s coalition government.

The choice of Gauck represents something of a humiliating defeat for Merkel. Gauck was the opposition’s candidate for president at the last election in 2010, which followed the unexpected resignation of then-president Horst Köhler. The Federal Assembly, the specially convened body which chooses the German president, only elected Merkel’s hand-picked candidate, Christian Wulff, after three rounds of voting. At the time, observers saw the protracted vote as a slap in the face for Merkel. By supporting Gauck now, Merkel is arguably admitting that she made a mistake by backing Wulff in 2010.

But at the press conference on Sunday evening where the coalition parties together with the SPD and Greens presented Gauck as their common candidate, Merkel only had praise for the popular former civil-rights activist and pastor. She called Gauck a “true teacher of democracy,” adding that she felt a connection to Gauck because of their common past in socialist East Germany. Merkel said that Gauck could provide “important ideas for the challenges of our time and the future,” such as solving the debt crisis and promoting democracy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Job Cohen Resigns as Dutch Labour Party Leader

Job Cohen has announced his resignation as political leader of the PvdA, the Dutch Labour Party, effective immediately.

He is also resigning as chair of the parliamentary party and will not return to parliament. He will hold a press conference in Amsterdam at 16.30.

In a press release Mr Cohen says:

“Two years ago, I made the transition to national politics to make a contribution … to a decent society, in which people — regardless of ethnicity or background — would be able to prosper.

It is with regret that I am forced to conclude that in the political and media reality of The Hague I have failed to convincingly put across this path to a decent society.

Social democracy can give direction to necessary social reforms that would enable us to offer a perspective for the future. To offer people a perspective, particularly in these times of crisis, is the core mission of the PvdA. A political leader who is unable to make an effective contribution should resign. For this reason, I today resign as chair of the parliamentary party and as an MP.”

PvdA chair Hans Spekman said he found the resignation “terrible” and added that he had never considered resigning himself.

It’s not clear who will succeed Mr Cohen. Jeroen Dijsselbloem said he was not available for the leadership position and another prominent Labour MP, Ronald Plasterk, said he “could not comment at present”.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Norway Motorist Reined in

Authorities stopped a driver in Finnmark after discovering five live reindeer in the back of his Subaru Forester.

The inspection in Lakselv revealed three of them were in the back seat and the other two in the boot. Reports reveal the animals had been put in the vehicle to be transported the 100 kilometres from Karasjok to Børselv.

The driver alleged he had checked with the Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet), responsible for the transport of animals in Norway, prior to the journey. .

Officials are now planning to increase the number of cars they inspect. Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA/Statens vegvesen) inspector Frank Ove Eidem said reindeer are not the only unusual thing to be discovered.

“There is no limit to what people come up with on the roads. I have ceased to be surprised. There seems to be all types of violations,” he told VG.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

Norway Driver Stopped With Five Reindeer in Car

Lapland may be the mythical home of Santa Claus and his famous hoofed hauliers, but police in the far north of Norway were astonished recently to find three of the local reindeer packed into the back seat of a car. On further inspection, the confounded officers spotted two more antlered heads sticking out of the luggage compartment when they stopped the driver of a Subaru Forester, newspaper VG reports.

None of the animals were wearing seatbelts. Surprised by the fuss, the man behind the wheel of the SUV said he had received clearance from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority to transport five of his reindeer from Karasjok to Børselv, a journey of 100 kilometres. While that claim has not yet been verified, Frank Ove Eidem, an inspector for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, gave the impression of a man who by now had seen it all.

“There are no limits to what people will get up to in traffic. I’ve stopped being surprised,” he told VG. And no wonder: Elsewhere in the far north of Norway, another man was pulled over recently after police spotted a bovine face peering through the rear window of a Toyota Hiace.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Oslo Theatre to Stage Play About Breivik

A small Oslo theatre plans to stage a controversial Danish play based on a manifesto written by the Norway gunman who killed 77 people in July 2011, a theatre official said on Monday. “Naturally, the problems linked to July 22nd have been widely discussed in the public debate for months but the language used has until now been primarily legalese, journalese and, most recently, psychiatric,” Kai Johnsen, the artistic director of the Drama House (Dramatikkens hus) told AFP. “I think art is also an important voice to understand and decipher the problems” raised by the attacks, he said.

The Drama House therefore aims to stage in October a play currently being prepared by Danish artistic director Christian Lollike, who will also take the role of right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik. Titled “Manifesto 2083” — a reference to the year Behring Breivik thinks his ideology will triumph — the play is expected to be a monologue based on the 1,500-page manifesto the 33-year-old posted online just before carrying out his twin attacks in Norway. While the first performance is not expected for months yet, Lollike’s plans have already been heavily criticised in Denmark.

In Norway, the head of the association of victims, Trond Henry Blattmann who lost his son in the attacks, called the project “incredibly shocking.” “We have nothing against a debate on views on the extreme right. We know that books, films and why not theatre pieces will see the light of day” focusing on the attacks, he said. “But we cannot accept this project’s format with a monologue based on Behring Breivik’s writings,” he added.

Faced with the criticism, Johnsen insisted on the importance of the future play. “We have to have the greatest understanding and greatest respect for what the families of the victims and the survivors are going through,” Kai Johnsen responded. “But it was not only an attack against a certain number of people, their families and their friends. It was an attack against society as a whole,” he insisted.

Behring Breivik, who has claimed to be on a crusade against multi-culturalism and the “Muslim invasion” of Europe, set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people. He then went to Utøya island north-west of Oslo, and, dressed as a police officer, spent more than an hour methodically shooting and killing another 69 people, mainly teens, attending a summer camp hosted by the ruling Labour Party’s youth wing.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Resistance Leader Looks Back on Principled Life

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski has led an unparalleled life, going from Auschwitz survivor to world-class politician. Author Heinrich Böll called him a passionate humanist. Today, his name stands for sincerity and decency.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski was born on February 19, 1922 in Warsaw. The historian, journalist and author of numerous books is a legend in Poland: Auschwitz prisoner (number 4427), a rescuer of Jews during the Second World War, a fighter in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and an honorary citizen of Israel. He spent six years in prison during the communist era and went on to become active in the democratic opposition movement. After the end of communism in Poland, he served twice as the country’s foreign minister. Now he serves as a specially appointed agent by Prime Minister Donald Tusk to encourage international dialogue, and he is the head of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. Bartoszewski has had considerable influence in shaping Polish-German relations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Garzon Expelled From Magistracy as of Today

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 20 — As of today, Baltazar Garzon is no longer the head of section 5 of the Spanish Audiencia Nacional, after the General Council for Judicial Power (CGPJ) informed the former judge that he has been expelled from his judicial career. The decision, sources in the Council announced in a statement, follows the guilty verdict against him in the Gürtel lawyers taping case which handed down an 11 year ban from office. Garzon’s defence lawyers have announced that they will appeal the verdict, turning to the Constitutional Court. The expulsion of Garzon will be ratified by the CGPJ plenary assembly on February 23. The decision means that Garzon will also lose all privileges linked to the office, and that he will not allowed to take on any judicial or government position for the next 11 years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Swedes Should Eat More Rabbits’: Scientist

Swedes are eating an increasing amount of meat each year and in order to reduce the effect this has on the climate, Swedes ought to breed and eat rabbits, according to a scientist from the University of Agricultural Sciences. “We need to find alternative sources of protein which don’t strain resources to the same extent,” said Carl-Gustaf Thulin, Director for the Center for Fish and Wildlife Research at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet) to the Sydsvenskan newspaper.

According to a report in daily Sydsvenskan, preliminary figures from the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) show that Swedes eat approximately 86 kilogrammes of meat every year, with chicken and beef being the favourites. One explanation for the increase is the recent food trends that promote a diet high in protein but low in carbohydrates. The problem is just that the increase in meat consumption, especially in the case of beef, is taking its toll on the environment.

This, Thulin argues, could be alleviated should Swedes just get over their qualms about their furry friends and look at rabbits as food instead of as pets. “I think that we are often getting away from the origins of the meat, from the proximity of life and death. We are ‘cuddlyfying’ the animals, we think they are cute and then we gorge on a fillet of chicken when someone has already done ‘the dirty work’. If we eat meat we ought to see the connection that animals are food, “ Thulin told Sydsvenskan.

According to Thulin, rabbits are the “fish of the mammals”, eating roughage and transforming it efficiently to protein. “In southern Europe this is a highly appreciated form of meat. Rabbit breeding is under-developed in Sweden and could be a great complement for farmers,” Thulin told the paper.

On March 22nd, Thulin will be holding a seminar called Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits (Kaniner, kaniner, kaniner) at the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (Kungliga skogs och lantbruksakademien) to bring the issue to the forefront of the discussion.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swedish Fire Service to Launch Diversity Project

The Swedish fire service is looking to hire more personnel with a foreign background in order to increase safety for fire fighters in big city areas, according to a report by Swedish broadcaster Sveriges Television (SVT). “At one point some kids were throwing rocks at us. I caught hold of a guy and spoke to him in his own language,” said Ilhan Demir of the South Stockholm fire service to SVT.

The diversity project is meant to widen recruitment, according to SVT, not in the least when it comes to attracting staff with a different background than the traditional Swedish. It is hoped that it will overcome language barriers and increase security for fire personnel in the big city areas.

The project will cost 7.5 million kronor ($1.1 million) and will be funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). Part of the money will go to the South Stockholm (Södertörn) fire service. “We’re about 300 on active call-out duty, of which only 18 are of a different background than Swedish. There needs to be more,” said Christer Flodfält, union representative for the fire service to SVT.

According to the broadcaster it has become more frequent that fire personnel are attacked with stones and other objects and it is hoped that the new initiative may bridge the gap between the fire fighters and the gangs of unruly kids.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swiss Pilot in 3-Day Solar Flight Simulation

Swiss pilot André Borschberg will undergo a three-day simulated flight for a new Solar Impulse aircraft that can travel around the world powered only by solar energy, organizers said on Monday. The test will allow the pilot and co-founder of the project to assess the configuration of the cockpit and simulate the effects on the human body of a flight of several days, said the Solar Impulse team in a statement. The flight simulator will be at Dübendorf, in eastern Switzerland, and will run from Tuesday to Friday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The World’s First “Test-Tube” Meat, A Hamburger Made From a Cow’s Stem Cells, Will be Produced This Fall, Dutch Scientist Mark Post Told a Major Science Conference on Sunday.

Post’s aim is to invent an efficient way to produce skeletal muscle tissue in a laboratory that exactly mimics meat, and eventually replace the entire meat-animal industry.

The ingredients for his first burger are “still in a laboratory phase,” he said, but by fall “we have committed ourselves to make a couple of thousand of small tissues, and then assemble them into a hamburger.”

Post, chair of physiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, said his project is funded with 250,000 euros from an anonymous private investor motivated by “care for the environment, food for the world, and interest in life-transforming technologies.”

Post spoke at a symposium titled “The Next Agricultural Revolution” at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver.

Speakers said they aim to develop such “meat” products for mass consumption to reduce the environmental and health costs of conventional food production.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Chippie Found to be Racist Plaice to Work Html

A CHIP shop worker won compensation after she got the sack — for being British.

Furious Kimberley Burrell was awarded £6,000 by an employment tribunal which heard she lost her job to “cheap foreign labour” because of her race.

Kimberley, 29, had worked at Joanna’s fish bar in Hartlepool for ten years when it was sold to new Turkish owners.

Within weeks the mum of two was replaced by Turkish and Polish staff working for nearly £2 an hour less. She said: “I got sacked because I’m British. It’s a disgrace.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Dereck Chisora Brawls With David Haye

Chisora has already had part of his £100,000 purse stopped after he slapped heavyweight rival Vitali Klitschko in the face at the weigh-in on Friday.

Now the Londoner, 28, is in the dock again — this time for spitting at Vitali and his brother, Wladimir, before the WBC title fight and brawling with Haye at a post-fight Press conference.

Haye, who is wanted for questioning by police in Germany for his part in the brawl, will be arrested if he ever sets foot in the country again.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Shoot Man ‘Brandishing Sword’ Four Times After Tasers Failed to Stop Him During Stand-Off

A crazed knifeman was shot up to four times by armed police officers after Taser stun guns failed to incapacitate him.

He was injured as he brandished a large knife or sword at a group of officers.

The shooting took place shortly before 6am yesterday morning after residents dialled 999 to report a suspected car thief.

The injured man, who is originally from Ghana, was taken by ambulance to King’s College Hospital in South London.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Phone and Email Records to be Stored in New Spy Plan

Details of every phone call and text message, email traffic and websites visited online are to be stored in a series of vast databases under new Government anti-terror plans

Landline and mobile phone companies and broadband providers will be ordered to store the data for a year and make it available to the security services under the scheme.

The databases would not record the contents of calls, texts or emails but the numbers or email addresses of who they are sent and received by.

For the first time, the security services will have widespread access to information about who has been communicating with each other on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Direct messages between subscribers to websites such as Twitter would also be stored, as well as communications between players in online video games.

The Home Office is understood to have begun negotiations with internet companies in the last two months over the plan, which could be officially announced as early as May.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EuroMed: 5+5 Starts Again at Last

Euro-Mediterranean dialogue forum in Rome today

(ANSAmed) — ROME — The results of the Arab Spring have yet to be determined and Europe is going through one of its roughest moments in recent history, but the countries on both the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean realise that only through shared efforts can the challenges and emergencies affecting both shores be dealt with. And so attempts are underway to relaunch Euro-Mediterranean dialogue, starting this morning from Rome (in Villa Madama) with a meeting of the 5+5: the forum of the group bringing together Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Malta on one side and Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Mauritania on the other. The afternoon will see also Egypt, Greece and Turkey take part in the widened format under Foromed. Regional security, migration flows, energy, environmental protection and development are the issues that the heads of the countries’ diplomacies, will have to deal with, if not solve. And it will have to be done in a concrete manner, as Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi has reiterated a number of times.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Jordan: EU Task Force Arriving for Reforms by 2012

European funding to grow “substantially”

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, FEBRUARY 17 — A European Union task force is scheduled to arrive in Jordan on February 22, coinciding with important reforms that will shortly be discussed in Parliament.

This is “a new page in EU-Jordan bilateral relations,” the special EU representative for the southern Mediterranean, Bernardino Leon, explained today in Brussels in a press meeting.

“Jordan has planned ambitious reforms,” Leon said, “which should be accompanied and encouraged. This is the goal of the task force.” The chosen timing is no coincidence, according to the EU representative “after many announcements made in the past, 2012 will be the year of results for Jordan.” Apart from the reform process, according to Leon, “there will also be a gradual increase in EU funding to Jordan.” There will also be an increase in loans granted by the European Investment Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will start “ambitious projects.” Jordan finds itself in a complex situation, with neighbours like Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. According to sources in the EU, “the Jordanians inaction is not an option when faced with the ongoing changes. Europe is interested in the reforms in key sectors like justice, the constitutional court, the public administration, the economy and, certainly the most important, the electoral law.” The task force for Jordan includes institutional experts of EU institutions, the member states, the EIB, the EBRD, and has also asked the World Bank, IMF, the Union for the Mediterranean, and the Anna Lindh Foundation to participate.

Meetings have been scheduled with the country’s authorities, as well as with political parties and civil society, ahead of possible elections after the reforms.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

The Power Elite and the Muslim Brotherhood

…”Those who are betting that the Muslim Brotherhood will change are taking a shot in the dark and they must understand that the Brotherhood’s past history has only produced tragedy.” We should remember that after Egypt’s 2005 elections, the MB’s Supreme Guide Mahda Akef revealed that “for us, democracy is like a pair of slippers that we wear until we reach the bathroom, and then we take them off” (see the Al-Dostour newspaper for February 24, 2011).

[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Mosques Must Remain Places of Worship, Government

After violence staged in past days

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, FEBRUARY 17 — It may seem an open door to say that mosques must remain places of worship. But this is apparently not true in Tunisia, where mosques are turning into battlegrounds, where the Muslim community often stages hard confrontations and sometimes not only with words, also involving the most extremist fringes.

The situation seems to be close to breaking point. This became evident with the visit by the Wahabi preacher Wajdi Ghenim, with his sermons that are increasingly inciting to hatred, with his interpretation of the Islam (especially regarding human rights, the role of women in the Arab society and relations with non-Muslims) that is often criticised by the secular part of society, as well as religious groups which see his views as extremist and a distortion of the Koran’s message of brotherhood. Today in Sfax, one of his sermons triggered a clash of thousands of people, between “barbus” (fundamentalists close to the Salafite movement) and representatives of civil society. The police had to intervene to keep the situation from getting completely out of hand. The rising tensions have caused the Ministry of Religious Affairs to take a clear stance, not for the first time, denouncing all acts of violence against mosques and clerics. The Ministry was pushed aside during the secular dictatorship of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali but is now gaining importance. It has repeated its complete rejection of “all forms of violence,” particularly in places of worship, in other words, in the mosques. These mosques, according to the Ministry, are “places of union” instead of “places that create splits between members of the same community.” The terminology that is used clearly focuses on the activities of groups like the Salafite movement, which is aggressive in word and behaviour in mosques, universities and on the streets. Responding to requests that have often emerged in debates among Muslims, the Ministry has underlined the efforts it is making to reform the procedures to appoint imams (currently appointed by the government). But it is an undeniable fact, as newspapers frequently report, that the mosques have surpassed their role of places of worship, also becoming a stage to deal with issues that have nothing to do with religion.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tunisian Arrests Over Sexy Pics

German-Tunisian footballer Sami Khedira has expressed regret that three Tunisian journalists were arrested because their paper printed an erotic photo of him and his model girlfriend Lena Gercke. “I learned of the business on Thursday evening, and I think it is very, very sad and a great shame that something like this could happen,” Khedira, whose father is from Tunisia, told Die Welt newspaper on Sunday. “I respect the different religions that there are, and the faiths people have. But I can’t understand why people aren’t allowed to express themselves freely.”

Tunisian paper Attounissia re-printed the photo of Khedira and Gercke embracing in their home last week. In the picture, Gercke, who won the 2006 season of casting show “Germany’s Next Topmodel,” is almost naked, while Khedira, wearing a black suit, is covering her breast with his arm. The Tunisian justice ministry announced last Thursday that this was a contravention of the country’s morality and tradition laws.

Police then arrested the paper’s publisher, Nasreddine Ben Saida, its editor-in-chief and one journalist. The two employees of the paper have since been released, but the publisher is still in custody. He could face up to five years in jail and a fine of around €600. The organization Reporters Without Borders has called for the immediate release of Ben Saida.

The journalists’ rights group says he is the first journalist to be arrested in the country since the fall of its dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali last year. The group also accused the justice ministry of hypocrisy, since similar photos are regularly to be seen in foreign publications on sale in Tunisia. Ben Saida and the entire editorial team of Attounissia have gone on hunger strike in protest at the arrest.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Israel: Anti-Christian Slogans on Jerusalem Church

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, FEBRUARY 20 — Anti-Christian slogans were spray-painted over the night on the outer walls of West Jerusalem’s Baptist church, report police. The tyres of three cars parked nearby were also slashed. The desecration of the church is the second one to occur this month in Jerusalem. Both cases are believed to have been the work of right-wing extremists with links to the extremist factions of West Bank settlers. A few years ago the Baptist church had been damaged by a fire believed to have been a case of arson, but for which the culprits were never found.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

EU Sanctions Not as Tough as They Sound

TRIPOLI — The EU is to add some 25 names to its Syria sanctions list and up to 135 to its Belarus register later this month. But being under an EU ban is not as categorical as it sounds. When ministers on 27 February announce the measures, they will say the mixed bag of regime officials, companies and tycoons can no longer get EU visas or do business in the Union and that any financial assets in EU countries have been frozen.

The visa ban is rigidly enforced, unless you are travelling to an international meeting, as with Belarus interior minister, Anatoly Kulyashou, who went to an Interpol event in France in January, or unless you need specialist healthcare.

Enforcement is more fuzzy on the corporate and asset-freeze side, however. Reuters last week said Iran’s shipping firm, the IRISL, called at ports in Belgium, the Netherlands and Malta 149 times after being put under an EU ban in 2010.

Cyprus in January let a Russian ship refuel en route to unload weapons in Syria, and the New-York-based NGO, Avaaz, has information that two Greek firms last year shipped oil from Syria despite EU measures.

Avaaz also says EU-listed Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf has links to real estate and restaurant companies in Austria and Germany and that Gamal Mubarak, the EU-listed son of Egypt’s former dictator, owns a luxury house in London through a Panamanian firm. Each member state follows up on EU sanctions in a different way.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iran Threatens to Cut Oil to Other EU Countries

(TEHRAN) — Iran will cut oil exports to other EU countries if their “hostile actions” continue, the deputy oil minister who heads the state oil company said Monday, a day after Tehran halted sales to France and Britain. Exports to Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands would be stopped, Ahmad Qalebani was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency.

“Certainly if the hostile actions of some European countries continue, the export of oil to these countries will be cut,” said Qalebani, who runs the National Iranian Oil Company.

Iran exports nearly 20 percent of its crude to the European Union, most of which goes to Italy, Spain and Greece. On Monday, the oil ministry announced it had halted exports to France and Britain. That was in apparent retaliation for an EU-wide ban on Iranian oil that is to come fully into effect July 1 as part of Western sanctions against Tehran’s nuclear programme

Although the ministry’s measure was largely symbolic — France imports only around three percent of its oil from Iran, and Britain less than one percent — crude prices soared on fears Tehran could expand its cuts to other European nations.

Oil prices hit nine-month highs on Monday, with London and New York contracts reaching $121.15 and $105.21 a barrel in Asian trading hours — the highest levels since May 5, 2011.

Later in London midday trade, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April stood at $120.55 a barrel, up 97 cents compared with Friday’s closing level. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate light sweet crude for March, jumped $1.61 to $104.85.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Syria: Analyst: Arab Lead Needed for “New Kosovo”

Turkey will be crucial while NATO support is unescapable

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, FEBRUARY 16 — Intervention demanded by the Syrian opposition for a possible “Kosovo operation” in Syria are controversial and remained shrouded in uncertainty, even if they do not necessarily entail a land invasion. It is clear, however, that any intervention needs Arab leadership and the unescapable backing of NATO and Turkey to play a “crucial” role.

This is the opinion of a leading analyst at the American think tank, German Marshall Fund (GMF), who has been answering questions on whether “safe human corridors” or buffer zones could be created to help the Syrian population, and on the role that Turkey would play in such a scenario.

The analyst, Hassan Mneimneh, the GMF’s Senior Transatlantic Fellow for the Middle East, North Africa and the Islamic world, told ANSAmed that “there is currently no mandate for the implementation of any action in favour of the Syrian uprising”, even though there is “increasingly vocal demand for intervention”, given the “crimes against humanity” that appear to be being perpetrated in places such as Homs. “ Sino-Russian obstruction” at the United Nations Security Council, suggests that the leading world forum “will not provide” any UN mandate to intervene in Syria, Mneimneh remarked. “Reports from Damascus” suggest that Russia has promised Syria of “Moscow’s seeming willingness to reconsider its stand,” and only wants “to ensure that the discussion remains within the confines” of the Security Council and, therefore, “subject to Russia’s veto “.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Islamic Colossal Film Idolises the Fall of Constantinople

Pianist-composer does not like nationalist blockbuster

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, FEBRUARY 20 — The colossal Turkish film “Fetih 1453” (The Conquest 1453), about Constantinople’s capture by the Ottoman Turks, is drawing in many viewers, but has been criticised over its allegedly excessive Islamic nationalism by one of the most important Turkish artists, pianist and composer Fazil Say.

The artist, newspaper Milliyet reports, has released a written statement in which he denies his involvement in the film’s soundtrack, and confirms that he has stepped out of the project due to its megalomania, which oozes from the film in his words.

The film lacks artistic value, Say continues, and idolises nationalism, potentially creating problems for viewers from different cultures. “Conquest 1453” describes the conquest of Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) by Sultan Mehmed II. It was screened for the first time on Thursday in more than 130 theatres at exactly the same time, starting at 14:53h. The film has already made history because of its budget, 17 million USD, making it the most expensive production ever in Turkey. There are battle scenes with 15,000 extras and special effects in 3D showing the ancient Byzantium, guaranteeing the film’s success. The media has given much attention to the production and the playbill with the bearded Mehmed II leaning on his sword, while hordes of Ottoman Turks attack the walls of Constantinople, can be seen everywhere. It is only the second time a film is made about the conquest of Constantinople, after the first one in 1951. The event used to be marginalised in history, but has gained importance in the eyes of the new Turkey under Erdogan, which has abandoned the focus on the West of the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, and now looks with pride at the glorious past of the empire that covered three continents. The same continents in fact that are on the maps of the so-called “neo-Ottoman” diplomacy, a term that Turkey does not appreciate. The film’s trailer starts with a phrase attributed to Mohammed, who prophesies that Mehmed will conquer Constantinople. “It is sad,” writes an opposition newspaper, “but millions of Turks will see this film and feel proud of their ancestors, showing “our greatness” to their children.” Apart from the criticism on the film’s nationalism by composer Say and by a part of the Turkish press, two protests that accompanied the film’s launch have drawn some attention, Turkish websites report. In Germany the Christian association Via Dolorosa from Koln has urged people to boycott the film, because the Turks should be ashamed of what they have done to the Christians instead of glorifying the conquest of Constantinople, the association claims. And in Greece, the weekly To proto Thema has called Fetih 1453 a “propaganda” film that conceals “the mass murder of Greeks and the looting of their land by the Turks.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Language Vote Reflects Latvian-Russian Divide

Latvians have rejected making Russian their second official language. The referendum marks an escalation of long-simmering ethnic tensions between Russian speakers and Latvians wary of losing their national identity.

Travelling to Latvia’s capital Riga, tourists might ask themselves whether they actually are in the small Baltic state. The Russian language seems to be everywhere: on the streets, in cafes or on the radio. In the capital, the Russian-speaking population makes up almost half of the population. The situation is similar in other cities across the country that joined the European Union in 2004. Almost one in three of the 2 million Latvians speak Russian as their native language.

The referendum marked the escalation of tensions that had been simmering for decades. Under Soviet rule, hundreds of thousands from across the Soviet Union where moved to Latvia to work there. Moscow’s policy eventually led to over 40 percent of Latvia’s population officially speaking Russian as their first language. Many Latvians saw Russian as a threat to their own language and were concerned at the prospect of becoming a minority in their own country.

The tables were turned in 1991 when Latvia became independent. The government introduced measures to strengthen the Latvian language and culture. Whoever doesn’t speak Latvian is for instance barred from working in public administration. Citizenship also depends on knowing Latvian. As a consequence, some 300,000 people living in the country are stateless. They do not hold Latvian citizenship and only have their old Soviet Union documents and passports. Amongst other disadvantages, those 300,000 don’t have the right to vote.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Latvians Reject Russian as Second Language

Latvian voters rejected having Russian as a second official language, with 75% voting against in Saturday’s referendum. Russians make up 27% of the population, one of the largest linguistic minorities in the world. The Russian foreign ministry said the result was biased as many Russian-speaking “non-citizens” were excluded from voting.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Polish Conservation Council Against 1940 Katyn Massacre Exhumations

A Polish governmental conservation council is against the exhumation and repatriation of Polish victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre, when over 20,000 Polish officers were murdered on Stalin’s orders.

A group of 80 relatives of Katyn victims had earlier appealed to Poland’s Foreign Ministry, calling for the remains of those murdered to be brought back from Russia so as to be buried on Polish soil.

Official cemeteries exist at Katyn and Mednoye (both in Russia), and the foundation stone for a third was laid at Bykivnia, Ukraine, last November.

The Polish military cemetery at Katyn, near Smolensk, was launched in 2000, ten years after Moscow finally admitted guilt for the murders. Until then, the official Moscow line had been that the Nazis were responsible for the executions.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Russia Thwarts U.S. Central Asian Counterdrug Program

Russia has reportedly convinced its allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization not to participate in a new U.S. counterdrug program in Central Asia, apparently concerned that it would give the U.S. too much leverage over the regional governments. The program, called the Central Asia Counternarcotics Initiative, would promote regional cooperation in countering drug trafficking by setting up task forces in all five Central Asian countries and hooking them up with similar task forces in Afghanistan and Russia.

But Russia has apparently taken a dim view of the proposal, reports the Russian newspaper Kommersant:

Moscow is convinced that the main objective of this initiative is strengthening the military and political presence in a region that Moscow regards as its area of special interests. As a result, Russia has managed to persuade the CSTO members to not participate in it.

The key problem, according to Kommersant’s sources:

As planned by the United States, the task forces must have very wide powers, and most importantly, full access to secret operational information supplied to law enforcement agencies and intelligence services of the Central Asian countries. Moscow feared that this would give the U.S. an opportunity to gather sensitive information and then use these data to blackmail the governments in the region.

RFE/RL spoke with American diplomats involved in the effort, who confirmed that it was blocked:

A U.S. official familiar with the matter confirmed that Washington’s delegation was unable to reach a final agreement at the meeting but said the plan has not been rejected.

Still, the official described the outcome as “a big surprise.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

‘Big Differences’ With India Over Detained Italian Marines

Two Navy personnel accused of killing fishermen

(ANSA) — Rome, February 20 — Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said on Monday that there were big differences between Italy and India over the case of two detained Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen last week.

The case has caused major diplomatic tension between the countries, which have different versions of events, and Terzi also made an appeal for greater cooperation on Monday.

Italy said the marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, fired warning shots from the merchant ship they were accompanying, the Enrica Lexie, after coming under attack from pirates.

It said they followed the proper international procedures for dealing with pirate attacks, which are frequent in the Indian Ocean.

The Indian authorities, on the other hand, said the marines failed to show sufficient “restraint” by opening fire after mistaking the fishermen for pirates.

New Delhi appears intent on making Latorre and Girone face Indian justice after detaining them in Kochi on Sunday, a move the Italian foreign ministry described as “unilateral”.

Terzi told his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna in a telephone conversation on Monday that Italy claims jurisdiction over the case as the shots were fired from an Italian ship in international waters.

The exact location of where the incident took place, however, is one of the issues of dispute.

“At the moment there are considerable differences of a judicial nature,” Terzi said.

“Up to now the cooperation that one would hope for and which would make it possible to resolve the issue quickly has not developed between India and Italy”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The Road to Reconciliation in Sri Lanka is Long

The final stages of the civil war in Sri Lanka were brutal. Two years later, there has been some social progress in the north, but equality for Tamils is still a long way off. After almost 30 years of civil war between the Buddhist Sinhalese majority and the Hindu Tamils, which caused 100,000 deaths and 300,000 displaced people, there is a glimmer of hope in the north of Sri Lanka.

Only after massive international pressure did the government accept to allow in aid organizations after crushing the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009 and putting an end to their dream of creating an independent Tamil state in the north. Aid has helped prevent a humanitarian disaster and given some prospects to the victims of the brutal civil war.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Asia Taking Lion’s Share of Iranian Oil Exports

(PARIS) — Iran, which on Monday said it planned to halt oil sales to several more European Union states in addition to Britain and France, sends only around a fifth of its exports to the EU, with Asian countries taking the lion’s share, according to US and international oil agencies.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) in Washington says that in 2010 four Asian states took around two-thirds of all the crude oil exported by the Islamic Republic, with China buying 20 percent, Japan 17 percent, India 16 percent and South Korea 9 percent.

A separate body, the International Energy Agency (IEA), reports that Iran supplies between 6 and 10 percent oil consumption in the four Asian nations.

China’s imports of 550,000 barrels per day (bpd) covered 6 percent of its needs in the first 10 months of 2011, while India’s purchases of 310,000 bpd accounted for 9 percent of its needs. Japan meanwhile took 327,000 bpd from Iran, or 7 percent of its needs, and South Korea bought 228,000 bpd (10 percent) from the Islamic Republic.

The IEA reports that just over 20 percent of Iran’s crude exports in the first 10 months of 2011 went to European Union states, predominantly in southern Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Korea Holds Drills Despite Threats

South Korea refused to heed North Korea’s warnings and went ahead with live-fire military drills near the disputed Yellow Sea border on Monday. North Korea did not make good on its threat immediately. South Korean troops began their “routine” exercises near islands off the west coast at about 10 am local time Monday and finished about two hours later.

Pyongyang had threatened to respond to South Korea’s planned exercises with a “merciless” attack but did not immediately make good on its threat. Considering North Korea is focusing on internal stability two months after the death of Kim Jong Il, analysts doubted there would be any other reaction than words.

Moreover, the South Korean unification ministry, which handles cross-border ties, insisted the routine drills had nothing to do with inter-Korean relations but was about safeguarding national security. However, at the same time the US and South Korean navies launched a separate five-day joint anti-submarine drill further to the south in the Yellow Sea to guard against any potential attacks by the North.

Nearly 30,000 US troops remained stationed in South Korea after the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a cease-fire, not peace treaty. Furthermore, some 1,400 civilians were evacuated to bomb shelters during the drill. In November 2010, Pyongyang had responded to similar exercises by bombing Yeonpyeong island, killing four South Koreans and sparking fears of war. Seoul has since threatened to react to any similar attack in future in a much tougher way.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey, China Eye Closer Cooperation

Xi Jinping, the expected next leader of China, makes a key visit to Turkey. While the emerging global powers aim at developing strategic ties, the crisis in Syria offers a test case for their cooperation. Turkey and China are seeking to expand their political and economic ties during a visit by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to Turkey’s capital, Ankara, from Monday to Wednesday.

“Not only Turkey, but the whole world is trying to understand the ideas and vision of Xi Jinping, wondering whether he will adopt more moderate or tougher policies,” Baris Adibelli, an associate professor at Dumlupinar University, told DW. “This visit offers an important opportunity for Ankara,” Adibelli added. “Our impression is that China is seeking a new period of cooperation with Turkey, centered on the Middle East.”

With its booming economy and growing political influence in the Middle East, Turkey has emerged as a regional power and China’s growing interest in the region is drawing Beijing and Ankara closer. The two countries established strategic relations in 2010. Since then, they have held close dialogue on bilateral and international issues. However, Turkey and China are yet to settle their differences on issues like the situation in Syria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

We’re Born to Kill: Will Wipe Out All Indian Students on Campus’ (…) We Already Started With Whites…’ Writes a Black Westville University Student

“Indians will never understand black people because there are too many racial differences.We are born to kill and tomorrow we will wipe out all the Indians on campus. Don’t show up because you will go straight to heaven.’

“For whites we have already started with T.Blanch so we are continuing from there tomorrow this is our country we don’t need whites and Indians at UKZN’.

KZN students reacted in anger at the blatant hate speech — and in response to the outrage the University says they will investigate this and a case has been alledly been opened against the student. The threats to kill Indians and Whites were amongst the many black-racist attacks and hatespeech targetting lecturers and students at the Westville University campus in last week’s rioting and ‘strikes’.

After violent clashes at the UKZN Westville campus, lectures have resumed this morning.

On the evening of Tuesday 14 February, students stoned the RMS building and the front glass doors and windows of the main admin block. The Westville SRC president, Lucky Nkalanga, was arrested on an assault charge that was reported earlier in the week.

“During the past two days, we have been dealing with severe racist remarks posted on our face book wall. The University has concluded the investigation into this and is finalising the charges. The individual that started this verbal attack is not a UKZN student,” said Mbadi.

“We are also extremely disappointed at the level of racist comments by our students in response to the posting. We encourage all students to embrace the diversity of cultures in our rainbow nation and promote tolerance and mutual respect as articulated in the UKZN PACT. The University is committed to the principles enshrined in our Constitution, notably non-racialism and non-sexism. The University’s Transformation Charter serves as a reminder to all staff and students to contribute to a socially cohesive institutional culture,” added Mbadi.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Sarkozy Walks the Immigration Tight Rope

Nicolas Sarkozy has begun his campaign to keep his presidential office. But the incumbent is currently behind in polls and campaign strategies that worked last time don’t look as promising this time around. As France grapples with a stagnant economy ahead of presidential elections in April, the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy has concentrated his “campaign” efforts on saving face amid the ongoing embarrassment of a downgraded credit rating.

“I have a rendez-vous with the French. I will not shy away from it,” Sarkozy said in a recent TV interview in which he dwelled on tax rates and unemployment figures, all the while offering stern promises of imminent economic rejuvenation.

But one of the main perennial issues in seemingly all successful French campaigns over the past 20 years, didn’t emerge in the interview: immigration. Sarkozy didn’t say a word about his policy or anything that could be construed as nationalistic or having anything to do with national identity.

This runs contrary to his tactics last time around, in 2007, when Sarkozy succeeded in securing a large percentage of votes from the far-right — above all from Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National (FN) voter base — after announcing tougher immigration policies in the run-up to the election.

“Sarkozy won’t be able to pull this off again,” political scientist and French far-right expert Jean-Yves Camus told Deutsche Welle. “It’s just not possible. Our president finds himself in a precarious situation. He hasn’t gone far enough to appease the right-wingers he attracted last time around, and he’s gone way too far for the voters on the left and even the middle of the spectrum.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Few Jobs Available Go to Immigrants

A million 16 to 24-year-olds face a bleak future as bosses hand what few jobs ARE going to immigrants.

So full marks to Employment Minister Chris Grayling for demanding UK-born youngsters go to the front of the queue.

EU laws ban discrimination against foreigners who apply for work here.

But — disgracefully — many firms snub Brits by hiring agencies to recruit staff from overseas.

More than 580 jobs are being given to foreign workers in this country EVERY DAY. Many are for medical or specialist staff but a quarter of them are vacancies for unskilled jobs as labourers, hotel workers or sales assistants.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

A Seven-Year-Old Branded a Bigot. How on Earth Have We Come to This?

By Melanie Phillips

The word ‘Orwellian’ has become over-used to the point of cliche. Yet there is really no other way to describe the deeply sinister, upside-down onslaught upon common sense that has extended even into the school playgrounds of politically correct Britain.

The aim was originally to create a kinder, gentler world — with a commitment to eradicating racial or any other type of prejudice.

Supporters of these beliefs profess to loathe and detest bullying, with teachers instigating school playground patrols and ‘anti-bullying weeks’ to stamp out this hateful practice.

And yet, in pursuance of these aims, we have witnessed the rise of the widespread State-sponsored bullying of children.

The latest example was the experience of a seven-year-old boy from Hull, whose mother was astounded to be told by his primary school to sign a form admitting he was racist.

So what was the heinous act this child had committed to cause him to be branded in this way? Why, merely to have asked a five-year-old boy in the playground whether he was ‘brown because he was from Africa’.

What on earth is racist about that question? It does not express a hateful dislike of, or racial superiority over, another person on account of the colour of their skin. It merely wonders, in a child-like way, about the reason for that colour.

It is thus a perfectly inoffensive question from a curious child. The reason for the five-year-old’s brown skin is, indeed, that his ancestry lies in another continent.

So how can a correct assumption constitute a prejudice? The school’s gross over-reaction suggests that racism is being redefined to include not only hateful references to someone’s colour, but any reference to it at all.

Real racial prejudice is, indeed, a horrible thing. But such wildly inappropriate labelling is to trivialise and thus effectively deny the harm done by truly vile attitudes.

What’s more, it is particularly odious to hang the label of racist round a child’s neck. Witch-hunts are bad enough in themselves; but to make a child their target is really quite obscene.

Because of their immaturity, children cannot be held to account for their behaviour in the same way as adults. When the young killers of toddler James Bulger were tried for his murder, there was uproar among progressive folk over the fact they were being made to stand trial because they were just children themselves.

Yet it would seem that those whose collective heart bleeds for child killers are nevertheless intent upon branding seven-year-olds as enemies of the people — just for displaying an attitude that some bureaucratic Big Brother wannabe deems to be beyond the pale. The seven-year-old from Hull was by no means an isolated example. The extent of such state-sponsored bullying amounts to a kind of playground Inquisition.

Last year, it was revealed that teachers were branding thousands of children as racist or ‘homophobic’ following what were merely playground squabbles.

In total, 34,000 nursery, primary and secondary pupils — including more than 20,000 pupils aged 11 or younger — were effectively classed as bigots for so-called ‘hate speech’.

One child was called a racist for calling a boy ‘broccoli head’ (on the basis the vegetable looks a bit like Afro hair); another was said to be homophobic for telling a teacher: ‘This work is gay.’

A six-year-old was said to have been reported by his school to the local authority after telling an ethnic minority friend: ‘Your skin is the colour of poo.’

A ten-year-old child was arrested and brought before a judge for having allegedly called an 11-year-old boy a ‘Paki’ and ‘Bin Laden’ during a playground argument in which the other boy had called him ‘a skunk’ and a ‘Teletubby’.

Back in 2006, after a 14-year-old schoolgirl asked a teacher if she could sit with a different group to do a science project as all the girls with her spoke only Urdu, her teacher actually called the police.

Ludicrous, or what? Yet this over-reaction is actually mandated by law.

Under the 2000 Race Relations Act, teachers are obliged to report any incident that is perceived to be racist by the victim or anyone else as ‘hate speech’ — even if it is committed by a child.

Of course, it is not just children who are being subjected to such vilification on the grounds of offending some interest group or other. Last week, Channel 4’s advertising campaign for the sequel to its hit show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding was attacked as racist for saying it was ‘Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier.’ What on earth is offensive about ‘gypsier’? If a sequel to the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding was advertised as ‘Bigger. Fatter. More Greek’, would that be said to be racist? Of course not.

This witch-hunt is going on all the time…

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Animal Rights Group Says Drone Shot Down

A remote-controlled aircraft owned by an animal rights group was reportedly shot down near Broxton Bridge Plantation Sunday near Ehrhardt, S.C.

Steve Hindi, president of SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness), said his group was preparing to launch its Mikrokopter drone to video what he called a live pigeon shoot on Sunday when law enforcement officers and an attorney claiming to represent the privately-owned plantation near Ehrhardt tried to stop the aircraft from flying.

“It didn’t work; what SHARK was doing was perfectly legal,” Hindi said in a news release. “Once they knew nothing was going to stop us, the shooting stopped and the cars lined up to leave.”

He said the animal rights group decided to send the drone up anyway.

“Seconds after it hit the air, numerous shots rang out,” Hindi said in the release. “As an act of revenge for us shutting down the pigeon slaughter, they had shot down our copter.”

He claimed the shooters were “in tree cover” and “fled the scene on small motorized vehicles.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Boy: 7, Branded a Racist for Asking Schoolmate: ‘Are You Brown Because You Come From Africa?’

The mother of a seven-year-old boy was told to sign a school form admitting he was racist after he asked another pupil about the colour of his skin.

Elliott Dearlove had asked a five-year-old boy in the playground whether he was ‘brown because he was from Africa’.

His mother, Hayley White, 29, said she received a phone call last month to say her son had been at the centre of a ‘racist incident’.

She was then summoned to a meeting with Elliott, his teacher and the deputy head of Griffin Primary School in Hull.

Ms White, an NHS healthcare assistant, said: ‘When I arrived at the school and asked Elliott what had happened, he became extremely upset.

‘He kept saying to me, “I was just asking a question. I didn’t mean it to be nasty” and he was extremely distressed by it all.’

Ms White claimed she was asked at the meeting to read a copy of the school rules and in particular its zero-tolerance policy on racism.

‘I was told I would have to sign a form acknowledging my son had made a racist remark which would be submitted to the local education authority for further investigation,’ she said.

‘I refused to sign it and I told the teacher in no way did I agree the comment was racist. My son is inquisitive. He always likes to ask questions, but that doesn’t make him a racist.’

The school had launched an investigation after the younger boy told his mother about Elliott’s comment and she complained.

Ms White, who lives in a three-bedroom house with her son and nine-year-old daughter Olivia, has now applied to have Elliott moved from the school.

She claimed she was told there were places at nearby Thanet Primary School, but the council informed her last Friday that this was not the case.

‘I am going to appeal against this decision because I think Elliott is being victimised,’ she said.

Karl Turner, Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull East, last night insisted that the school and Hull City Council had a statutory duty to take racism seriously.

‘However, having spoken to Hayley, I’m satisfied that her seven-year-old son, Elliott, was not being racist in his remarks but just inquisitive,’ he said.

‘It seems the matter has been taken out of all proportion and common sense seems to have gone completely out of the window.’

In a statement, Griffin Primary head teacher Janet Adamson said the school had acted ‘in accordance with the council’s guidance for schools on the reporting of racist incidents’.

Vanessa Harvey-Samuel, head of localities and learning at Hull City Council, said: ‘There is a statutory duty to report any incident that is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person.’

Last year, it was revealed that teachers are branding thousands of children racist or homophobic following playground squabbles.

More than 20,000 pupils aged 11 or younger were put on record for so-called hate crimes such as using the word ‘gaylord’.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

UK: Sol Campbell: We Need Some Black Faces on Match of the Day

SOL CAMPBELL has launched a stinging attack on football — and the racist scum dragging the game through the gutter.

In an extraordinary blast, the former England defender ripped into the authorities for failing to stamp out a problem which is still rife in the sport.

Campbell, 37, who was speaking at the Oxford Union last week, claimed:

-The BBC must employ more black presenters on programmes like ‘Match of The Day’

-Uefa should dock points from clubs whose fans chant racist abuse”

“Being a pundit is so one-dimensional. Match of the Day need more fresh faces and to mix it up. Frankly, you have to get more black faces in there.

“That’s a huge issue and a massive problem for the BBC. They’ve got to sort it out and recruit from all backgrounds and start giving black people proper anchor jobs.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Moon’s Scarred Crust Hints at Recent Activity, Scientists Say

The moon’s crust was apparently active far more recently than previously believed, scientists say. These new findings raise questions about how the moon formed and evolved, researchers said. Although the Earth’s crust is still shifting, driven by the churning semimolten rock underneath it, researchers had thought the moon had cooled off much too long ago to still have any such tectonic activity. For instance, the youngest known tectonic features on the lunar landscape until now — small cliffs in the lunar highlands resulting from wrinkling of the surface as the moon’s interior cooled and shrunk — are thought to be less than 1 billion years old, although by how much is uncertain.

Now, images collected by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter hints the moon has probably seen tectonic activity within the last 50 million years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

"...the MB’s Supreme Guide Mahda Akef revealed that “for us, democracy is like a pair of slippers that we wear until we reach the bathroom, and then we take them off.”

Well, at least the guy knows where Islam the the toilet...FLUSHED...TWICE!