Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120301

Financial Crisis
»Eurozone Unemployment Rate Hits Record 10.7% in January
»Greek Unions Walk Out, Parliament Cuts Health Costs
»Irish Referendum Politics Getting Nasty
»Italy: Spread Ends Day on 308, Yield Lowest Since August
»Markets Continue to Bash Portugal
»Portugal Faces Deeper Downturn: IMF
»Spain: Police Fire Warning Shots as Barcelona University Protests Escalate
»Spain: Thousands of Students in Streets Against Cuts
»‘The ECB’s Policies Are Anything But Harmless’
»The Spanish Economy’s Sustainability Dilemma
»Black Male Teachers Becoming Extinct
»Federal Judge Richard Cebull Admits He Sent Anti-Obama, Racist E-Mail
»Humanity Must ‘Jail’ Dangerous AI to Avoid Doom, Expert Says
»NASA Laptop Stolen With Command Codes That Control Space Station
»Number of U.S. Mosques Up 74% Since 2000
»Robert Spencer: Will Obama Behead the Qur’an-Burners?
»Sex Trafficking Trial Unusual in Scope
»Stakelbeck: CAIR Silencing Critics of Muslim Brotherhood
Europe and the EU
»“Anonymous” Break-in Investigated in Finland, Too
»Austria’s Nazi Frat Boys? A Fraternity Ball on Holocaust Day Raises Old Questions
»Canny Belgian Poised for Second Term at EU Helm
»Fish Fever Hits Norway as Arctic Cod Spawn
»From Crime to Culture: Gritty Marseille Redefines Itself
»Iceman’s DNA Reveals Health Risks and Relations
»Mohammed & Charlemagne Revisited: The Conclusion
»Netherlands: Government Starts Polish Charm Offensive
»Norway ‘To Release’ India Children in Custody Row
»Oldest Instrument is Dug Up in Skye Cave
»Premier Rutte Rejects Schengen Veto Isolates Netherlands
»Science Cloud: Atom-Smashing Lab Joins New Computing Initiative
»UK: A Tale of Two Cities: Anger as Manchester is Compared to Centre of Mexico’s Drugs War as UN Brands Our Inner-Cities ‘No-Go’ Areas
»UK: Girl: 11, Raped by Schoolboy Street Gang Members in McDonald’s Restaurant Toilet Involved Up to Eight Members of the Same Street Gang
»UK: Revealed: The Torture Chamber Flat Where 15-Year-Old Boy Was Beaten, Stabbed and Drowned Because Evil Couple Accused Him of Being a Witch
»UK: Soldiers Prepare for Afghanistan Tour With Visit to Bolton Mosque
»Bosnia Marks 20th Anniversary of Independence
»North Kosovo ‘Solution’ Threatens Bosnia and Macedonia
North Africa
»Tunisia: No Veils in Class, Salafist Students Attack Teachers
»Crunch Election for Putin: A Divided Russia Goes to the Polls
South Asia
»Afghans: Quran-Burning Soldiers to Face Trial
»Boat-Shooting Marines to Stay in Indian Police Custody
»UN in Afghanistan Says Koran Burners Should be Punished
»Muslims in Germany: Study Hints That Mutual Suspicion is Slowing Integration
»Study Finds Non-German Muslims More Reluctant to Integrate
Culture Wars
»Doctors Linked to Britain’s Oxford University: ‘it Should be OK to Kill Newborns’
»How We Won the Hominid Wars, And All the Others Died Out
»Tawriya: New Islamic Doctrine Permits ‘Creative Lying’

Financial Crisis

Eurozone Unemployment Rate Hits Record 10.7% in January

The eurozone unemployment rate hit an all-time record of 10.7 percent in January, official figures showed Thursday. The Eurostat data agency estimated that more than 16.9 million men and women were out of work in the 17-nation euro area in January after the ranks of the unemployed rose by 1.4 million compared with January 2011.

The jobless rate across the wider 27-nation European Union also climbed over the symbolic 10 percent ceiling to 10.1 in January against 10 percent the previous month and 9.5 percent in January 2011. More than 24.3 million people were unemployed in the EU in January, an increase of 191,000 from December and of 1.488 million compared with January 2011.

The highest unemployment rate was registered once again in Spain where it rose to 23.3 percent in January, followed by Greece, a nation trapped in the eurozone debt crisis, at 19.9 percent. Austria recorded the lowest rate at 4.0 percent followed by the Netherlands at 5.0 percent and Luxembourg at 5.1 percent.

Youth joblessness — people under 25 — remained more or less steady at more than 5.5 million across the EU, or 22.4 percent, and to more than 3.3 million in the eurozone, or 21.6 percent. A year earlier youth unemployment stood at 21.1 percent in the EU and 20.6 percent in the eurozone.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greek Unions Walk Out, Parliament Cuts Health Costs

(ATHENS) — The Greek parliament early Thursday approved a bill to cut health service costs after unions staged walkouts as part of Europe-wide demonstrations against austerity measures. The text that had been demanded by the European Union and the IMF to unblock a new aid plan for the debt-stricken country was adopted by a large majority, on the eve of an EU summit that should pave the way for fresh loans to Greece.

The bill, passed under an emergency procedure as parliament was surrounded by police, lays down a cut in pharmaceutical expenses through the development of computerised prescriptions and the use of generic medicines. It also limits the public health budget by merging hospital groups and calls for setting up a unified pension scheme consolidating numerous groups whose current total deficit is put at 850 million euros for 2011.

The EU and International Monetary Fund made the passing of the text and other measures a condition for releasing a new bailout of 130 billion euros ($175 billion). The latest rescue, after a 110-billion-euro EU-IMF loan in 2010, is tied to a massive debt writedown with private creditors designed to reduce Greece’s 350-billion-euro debt by 107 billion.

Greek unions on Wednesday staged walkouts as part of Europe-wide anti-austerity demonstrations, hours after parliament approved fresh budget cuts linked to the new eurozone bailout. The main labour groups, private-sector GSEE and public-sector ADEDY, began a nationwide three-hour work stoppage from midday (1000 GMT) ahead of a protest in central Athens in the evening.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Irish Referendum Politics Getting Nasty

A leading politician from Irish opposition party Fianna Fail, Eamon O Cuiv has resigned after coming out against his group’s pro-EU-fiscal-treaty line on the upcoming referendum. An internal EU commission report seen by Reuters says Ireland should return to open bond markets in 2013 but might need more budget cuts.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Spread Ends Day on 308, Yield Lowest Since August

Merkel compliments Monti

(ANSA) — Rome, March 1 — The spread between 10-year Italian and German bonds fell to a new six-month low of 308 points by the close of trading Thursday.

The yield, another measure of market sentiment, fell to 4.95%, its lowest since August.

Boosted by the news, the Milan bourse closed 2.93% up, the biggest jump in Europe.

Italian Premier Mario Monti met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Brussels Thursday on the sidelines of a European Union summit on striking a balance between austerity and growth.

Merkel complimented the Italian premier on the spread trend, Italian sources said, and she noted that Italy under Monti’s stewardship had moved away from the centre of the eurozone debt crisis.

The leaders agreed that “after a long time, the tension and drama have now been overcome,” the sources said.

On Wednesday Monti said he thought the spread’s downward trend would continue as markets increasingly recognise Italy’s austerity measures and structural reforms.

In his meeting with Merkel, Monti hailed the scheduled signing Friday of the EU’s new fiscal compact, stressing’s Merkel’s lead role in its creation.

Monti also said he saw a “positive” end to the latest Greece bailout.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Markets Continue to Bash Portugal

Portugal’s cost of borrowing is continuing to rise despite on-track debt cuts in 2011, Financial Times Deutschland reports. Bank analysts predicted debt will rise in 2012 as the country’s construction industry shrinks. EU institutions say debt-to-GDP will be 118% in 2013. Citibank says it is heading for 150% by 2015.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Portugal Faces Deeper Downturn: IMF

Portugal may return to growth in 2013 but shrinkage of the economy before then could be deeper than previously thought, the IMF auditor for Portugal told the Jornal de Negocios newspaper on Thursday. “There is a risk that budgetary adjustments lead to a contraction more deep” than expected, said Abebe Selassie, who represented the International Monetary Fund during the third review of Portuguese finances tied to a rescue worth 78 billion euros ($105 billion).

Portugal passed the review by the European Union, European Central Bank and IMF on Tuesday, although the auditors said challenges remained. The so-called EU-ECB-IMF “troika” approved the payment of a slab of aid worth 14.9 billion euros, of which 9.7 billion euros were to come from the EU and about 5.2 billion from the IMF.

Portugal faces a difficult economic climate owing to a weakening of activity in the eurozone as a whole, the auditors said.

“Returning to the markets in 2013 will not be easy,” Selassie said adding that the only solution was a “strict execution of the aid programme to show that results were at hand and debt was sustainable”. “We still see a return to growth next year” of 0.3 percent, he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Police Fire Warning Shots as Barcelona University Protests Escalate

Demonstrations took place across Spain on Wednesday in protest against spending cuts in the public education sector.

Some 20,000 students took to the streets in Valencia, according to EL PAÍS’ calculations, where the protests began in earnest in mid-February at the Lluís Vives public school and swiftly escalated after the arrest of a minor, resulting in bloody clashes between police and protestors during which dozens of youngsters were detained.

The demonstration in Valencia on Wednesday passed off peacefully, as did smaller protests in Madrid and Alicante. In Barcelona, however, the largest concentration descended into scenes of violence like those witnessed in Valencia two weeks ago. The Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s regional police force, surrounded protesting students barricaded in the University of Barcelona campus in the center of the city at 3pm on Wednesday after running battles through nearby streets had left dumpsters and vehicles ablaze in their wake.

As the students retreated to the safety of the campus dozens of anti-riot vehicles appeared on the scene. The disturbances began when a march through the city in protest against planned budget cuts by the Catalonia regional government reached its destination, the Plaça Universitat, after a circle of the city center. Thousands of demonstrators had turned out for a day of strike action, called by the seven public universities in the Catalan capital. As the multitude descended on the square, some demonstrators threw stones at police, who responded with baton charges and even fired warning shots into the air with rubber bullets. At least three protestors were arrested, according to the students’ union. A spokesman for the organization described the police’s actions as “excessive and provocative.”

Some 300 protestors also tried to storm the Mobile World Congress taking place in the city at the Fira de Barcelona but were deterred by a massive police cordon around the building.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Thousands of Students in Streets Against Cuts

Marches in 25 cities, clashes with police in Barcelona

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — Tens of thousands of students have protested today in a number of Spanish cities, including Madrid, Barcelona and Palma de Majorca, against cuts to state education and the recent arrests of protesters in Valencia. Thousands of young people called together by the student union of Madrid protested at midday outside the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, amid chants of “We are students, not criminals” and “Quality public education”. At the same time, thousands of students held a march in Valencia, while incidents were reported in the early hours of this morning between protesters — most of them students — and police in Barcelona. A group of students blocked off the traffic in some of the city’s main roads, including the AP-7 and B-30, as well as access to the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Students have been mobilised in over 25 cities today through social networks and the “Maleducados” movement, which condemns the precarious situation provoked in many universities by cuts to public spending and the repression of the student movement in Valencia, now known as the “Valencian Spring”, after police charged protesters from the Lluis Vives Institute a few days ago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘The ECB’s Policies Are Anything But Harmless’

For the second time in about two months, the European Central Bank injected liquidity worth around half a trillion euros into the Continent’s banking sector. Hundreds of financial institutions eagerly took advantage of the low-interest loans, but German commentators warn Thursday that the long-term dangers to the economy may not be worth it.

In an effort to stabilize banks, businesses and governments, the European Central Bank (ECB) opened up a massive offering this week of unlimited low-interest loans. The second such offering in just over two months was snapped up on Wednesday by some 800 banks, which collectively borrowed a reported €529.5 billion ($712.4 billion).

Combined with the first offering from Dec. 21, 2011, this means that the ECB has injected more than €1 trillion into Europe’s financial system. The first offering of some €489 billion encouraged banks to purchase government bonds, easing the euro zone’s debt crisis and boosting investor confidence.

But it remains uncertain how banks will use the cheap money this time around, though the ECB hopes that the loans with 1 percent interest rates and maturities of three years will prompt banks to lend to small- and medium-sized companies, which would in turn create jobs and improve the economy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Spanish Economy’s Sustainability Dilemma

The new conservative government has promised to loosen environmental controls that restrict economic growth. But critics say such an approach could lead Spain back to disaster.

“Environmental sustainability cannot be understood today without taking into account the economic factor. Only when environmental policy is economically viable can it be sustainable over time. Economic viability and environmental sustainability will be, therefore, the two aims of the policy that this ministry will pursue.

This sentiment, voiced by Environment and Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Caete recently, sounds sensible enough. But the full content of his speech, addressed to a congressional committee and outlining his intentions for this legislature, has stirred some deep fears among environmentalists. It has also brought the sustainability-versus-growth debate into the spotlight in Spain. Arias Caete believes environmental regulations and laws in 26 areas are needlessly restricting the development of the Spanish economy. With unemployment at nearly 23 percent, a deficit of over 8 percent and GDP forecast to fall back into recession this year, getting the economy back on track is, understandably, the governments main priority.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Black Male Teachers Becoming Extinct

Take a moment and think of all the teachers you had between pre-K and twelfth grade. Now, how many of them were black men? For most people, this question won’t take too long to answer. That’s because less than two percent of America’s teachers are black men, according to the Department of Education. That is less than 1 in 50 teachers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Federal Judge Richard Cebull Admits He Sent Anti-Obama, Racist E-Mail

HELENA, Mont. (Great Falls Tribune) — Montana’s U.S. District Chief Judge Richard Cebull on Wednesday admitted to sending a racially charged e-mail about President Obama from his courthouse chambers.

Cebull, of Billings, was nominated by former President George W. Bush, received his commission as a federal judge in 2001 and has served as chief judge for the District of Montana since 2008.

The subject line of the email, which Cebull sent from his official courthouse email address at 3:42 p.m. Feb. 20, reads: “A MOM’S MEMORY.”

The forwarded text reads as follows:

“Normally I don’t send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.

“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Humanity Must ‘Jail’ Dangerous AI to Avoid Doom, Expert Says

Super-intelligent computers or robots have threatened humanity’s existence more than once in science fiction. Such doomsday scenarios could be prevented if humans can create a virtual prison to contain artificial intelligence before it grows dangerously self-aware.

Keeping the artificial intelligence (AI) genie trapped in the proverbial bottle could turn an apocalyptic threat into a powerful oracle that solves humanity’s problems, said Roman Yampolskiy, a computer scientist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. But successful containment requires careful planning so that a clever AI cannot simply threaten, bribe, seduce or hack its way to freedom.

“It can discover new attack pathways, launch sophisticated social-engineering attacks and re-use existing hardware components in unforeseen ways,” Yampolskiy said. “Such software is not limited to infecting computers and networks — it can also attack human psyches, bribe, blackmail and brainwash those who come in contact with it.”

A new field of research aimed at solving the AI prison problem could have side benefits for improving cybersecurity and cryptography, Yampolskiy suggested. His proposal was detailed in the March issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

NASA Laptop Stolen With Command Codes That Control Space Station

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — NASA’s inspector general revealed in congressional testimony that a space agency computer was stolen last year with the command codes to control the International Space Station.

In a statement given to a House committee on the security challenges facing NASA, Paul K. Martin said that an unencrypted NASA computer stolen last year was one of 48 taken between April 2009 and April 2011.

“The March 2011 theft of an unencrypted NASA notebook computer resulted in the loss of algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station,” Martin said in his written testimony. “Other lost or stolen notebooks contained Social Security numbers and sensitive data on NASA’s Constellation and Orion programs.”

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo[Return to headlines]

Number of U.S. Mosques Up 74% Since 2000

The number of Islamic places of worship in the United States soared 74% in the past decade.

While protests against new mosques in New York, Tennessee and California made headlines, the overall number of mosques quietly rose from 1,209 in 2000 to 2,106 in 2010. And most of their leaders say American society is not hostile to Islam, according to a comprehensive census of U.S. mosques and survey of imams, mosque presidents and board members released Wednesday.

“This is a very healthy community,” said lead researcher and study author Ihsan Bagby, an associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky. They’re also very engaged: The study finds “98% of mosque leaders say Muslims should be involved in American institutions and 91% agree that Muslims should be involved in politics.”

The study — The American Mosque 2011 — was sponsored by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research (Hartford Seminary), the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, as well as the nation’s largest Islamic civic and religious groups, including the Islamic Society of North America and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Muslims feared being “marginalized, demonized and isolated” after 9/11, said Safaa Zarzour, secretary general of the Islamic Society. But the new study shows they have “kept their eyes on the prize — becoming part of mainstream America.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Robert Spencer: Will Obama Behead the Qur’an-Burners?

The jihad terrorists who struck America on 9/11 were doing so in order to weaken the U.S. to the extent that eventually our free society would surrender to the rule of Islamic law. And now it is happening — but as the OIC’s agenda of stifling every critical word about Islam also advances apace in the U.S., fewer and fewer people will know about it. How will they find out? The Left is complicit, and the Right is afraid to tell them.

Has the conquest of a great nation ever been this easy?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sex Trafficking Trial Unusual in Scope

As many as 23 will face jury simultaneously

Nearly two dozen defendants accused of participating in an interstate sex trafficking ring are scheduled to go before a federal jury next month in what is shaping up to be one of the biggest — and most unusual — trials in Middle Tennessee history.

In an era when limited resources and risk aversion have resulted in a dramatic rise in the number of cases that end in plea agreements rather than jury trials, not even one of the 30 defendants in the case has agreed to plead guilty, setting the stage for a massive trial in downtown Nashville that is raising a variety of issues both legal and logistical.

Twenty-nine people, mostly Somalis from the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, were charged in November 2010 with running a prostitution ring that sold Somali girls as young as 12 years of age in cities including Nashville. A 30th defendant was indicted in May 2011. In addition to sex trafficking and conspiracy, the defendants also are accused of alleged crimes such as credit card fraud and burglary.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: CAIR Silencing Critics of Muslim Brotherhood

In 2007, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history.

In 2009, a U.S. federal judge ruled that “ample evidence” exists tying CAIR to the terror group Hamas.

Yet CAIR continues to wield considerable influence in America and is having increased success in shutting down American critics of the Muslim Brotherhood and jihad.

Among their recent targets was Gen. Jerry Boykin, a highly decorated American hero who withdrew from a prayer breakfast at West Point after a relentless pressure campaign by CAIR and its allies on the far Left.

For more, watch my latest report by clicking on the link above.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

“Anonymous” Break-in Investigated in Finland, Too

The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has knowledge of six data break-ins or online attacks committed in the name of the online hacker group Anonymous. According to Timo Piironen of the NBI, the break-ins are not linked with any international cases.

The most serious case involves the leak of personal information of 16,000 people onto the Internet in November. The information was mainly that of adult education students in different educational institutions. “One Anonymous member has admitted responsibility for it, but another has denied it.” Also leaked were the e-mail addresses of half a million people. According to Piironen it is not a certainty if this was actually a crime. On the same evening about 15,000 passwords were leaked, which Anonymous claimed were linked with the e-mails.

In the autumn, user IDs and e-mail addresses were stolen from the Netcar, Helistin,and Napsu web portals. A separate issue was a bomb threat made in November in the name of Anonymous against the Copyright Information & Anti-Piracy Centre. The threat proved to be a hoax. The matter is being investigated by the Helsinki Police Department. Finns were also affected by the break-in by Anonymous into the Stratfor global intelligence company. At the end of the year, credit card information of leading Finnish figures who were involved with Stratfor was released online.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Austria’s Nazi Frat Boys? A Fraternity Ball on Holocaust Day Raises Old Questions

“Nazis,” a passer-by in his 50s muttered, giving us a sideways glance. Our clothes marked us out: white tie and a shimmery blue ball gown. Not reckoning with the small army of undercover journalists, the consensus seemed that only neo-Nazis would be donning ball regalia that night.

It was 27 Jan. — the day that people across the West commemorated the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops. This year, it was also the day that the Wiener Korporationsring (WKR), an association of German-nationalist student fraternities, held its annual ball at the Hofburg, Austria’s historical seat of power.

The coincidence, the organisers claimed, was accidental. Indeed, other balls were taking place that night, but received little attention. This was because the WKR Ball is a perverse highlight in Vienna’s ball season, every year attracting scores of protesters opposing the fraternities’ supposedly racist ideals — and their political influence via the Freedom Party, FPÖ. This year’s unfortunate timing simply amplified the dissent, drawing some 3,000 protesters to a rally on Heldenplatz, while break-away groups roamed the inner city, blocking roads to stop taxis and guests from reaching the ball.

But does the nationalist frat party deserve all this attention? Is the WKR Ball really “a gathering of Holocaust-deniers, right-wing extremists, and neo-Nazis,” as the president of Vienna’s Jewish Community, Ariel Muzikant, claimed at a press conference in December? And do the nationalist student corporations indeed have the political influence they are credited with?

The colour spectrum

The white-washed Josephsplatz stood empty apart from a single, illuminated corner. It was the calm eye of the storm as 1,300 riot police had sectioned off a generous part of the Innenstadt behind the Hofburg. Two men in dark capes stood guarding the inconspicuous side entrance to the imperial palace.

Through a long, white corridor we reached the actual entrance hall, dominated by a marble staircase. The strains of a string quartet provided relief from the helicopter noise outside.

But the atmosphere was aimless, almost depressed. At 21:30, half an hour after the opening ceremony was scheduled, the débutantes were still lined up outside the grand ballroom. “We don’t know when it will start,” a blonde 16 year-old dressed in the customary white said nervously.

Everybody seemed to agree who was to blame for the delay. “There is a lot of ignorance,” a German guest in his late 60s ventured to explain the protests. “Do you see any Nazis here? I don’t. Sure, there will be few idiots, but you can find those everywhere.” With a smile, he directed us to the front of the platform next to the orchestra where we had a view over the packed ballroom.

Men and women of all ages were jostling to get close to the parquet for the opening ceremony. Table booths lining the sides were hung with burgundy draping, and the stage was enveloped by a display of tropical flowers.

Yet the colonial-style décor clashed with the male guests’ Romantic revivalism: The crowd was shot through with young men in braided, velvet jackets and tights, some wearing knee-high boots and colourful, plumed berets. Occasionally, fencing foils dangled at their sides, while the swords’ traces were inscribed in many a face. Scarification on cheek, head, or chest — the so-called Schmiss — is a classic initiation rite in some fraternities.

While most men were wearing black or white tie, nearly all had laced their evening costumes with fraternity insignia: discreet, coloured ribbons or sashes, and the signature element of German fraternities — the flat cap with a short rim, the colours identifying the wearer’s “corporation”.

In popular belief, the caps and scars signal membership in a right-wing Burschenschaft.But the truth is more complex. Insiders refer to a spectrum of corporations ranging from “liberal” to “nationalist”. While Burschenschaften form the right-wing extreme, Corps, Sängerschaften (choirs), Landsmannschaften (countryman associations), or Turnvereine (athletic clubs) tend to be more tolerant and less political, emphasising their role as drinking clubs and professional networks. Collectively, Austrian corporations have about 4,000 members, according to Heribert Schiedel from the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance (DÖW), an institute researching the Nazi period and current right-wing extremism.

The tension between liberalism and nationalism goes back to fraternities’ origins in the early 19th century, when membership was essential for university students’ later professional success. Fraternities were anti-monarchist, insisting on the freedom of assembly in the face of royal surveillance and censorship. To this day, corporations in Austria and Germany point to their academic and liberal roots to fend off accusations of Nazism.

Yet from the outset, liberal ideals mingled with Romantic notions of the organic unity of German-speaking peoples, breeding ideas of racial purity. “From the beginning, anti-Semitism was part of their ideology,” explained Schiedel. “In most cases, only ‘German Christians’ were allowed to join.”

Even today, fraternity members have this pan-Germanic culture in mind when they speak of the nation, not the political constructions of Germany or Austria. Thus, hanging from a balcony next to the stage, an incongruous flag draped the Habsburg ball room: the black-red-and-gold standard of German unity…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Canny Belgian Poised for Second Term at EU Helm

Herman Van Rompuy, the quiet Belgian who has steered the troublesome EU ship through two years of financial turbulence, is set for re-election as president of the European Council at a summit Thursday. His appointment for a second 30-month term kicks off a two-day European Union summit starting Thursday, whose main task is the signing of a new treaty to tighten economic governance across the 27-nation bloc.

“There are no other candidates,” said one senior EU diplomat. When Van Rompuy was named EU chairman late 2009, under the bloc’s new Lisbon Treaty rule-book, critics said it was his very modest amount of charisma that most appealed to European leaders.

A technocrat as the face of the EU posed no threat to the national leaders parading through Brussels. But more than two years later, through the relentless dramas of Europe’s devastating debt crisis, his skill at backroom diplomacy has won Van Rompuy a reputation as a discreet and able negotiator.

“If politics is the art of the possible, he’s perfect,” said analyst Hugo Brady of the Centre for European Reform. “If he wasn’t there we’d miss him. We need a steady hand,” he said. “He’s contributed to the orderly holding of European Councils,” or summits.

A slight 64-year-old with a priestly demeanour, the former Belgian premier was ridiculed at the outset as the “invisible president” or “Mister Nobody”. He retorted he was never given a mandate for political prominence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Fish Fever Hits Norway as Arctic Cod Spawn

It’s boom time for Norwegian fishermen as millions of muscular cod complete their marathon swim journey north to spawn off the country’s Arctic coast, writes AFP’s Nina Larson. Grabbing a cod head, Alexander Leirvold expertly threads it onto a long spike on a wooden pole before cutting out the pearly-white tongue, considered a culinary delicacy.

“It’s easy to do, and I make really easy money,” boasts the 15-year-old, wearing heavy black and orange rain gear and blue rubber gloves, as he slices out several tongues a minute at the Marine Fresh fish-filleting factory in the tiny village of Napp in Norway’s Arctic Lofoten islands.

Leirvold is taking part in a northern Norwegian tradition that stretches back perhaps 1,000 years and whips the region into an annual winter frenzy: the migration of millions of cod through hundreds, even thousands of kilometres of the icy Barents Sea to spawn here. These East Arctic cod, called skrei in Norway from the old Norse term for “the wanderer”, is a bonanza for fishermen, with locals mad for their fillets, while the tongues are savoured as a culinary delight that even enables kids to earn good pocket money.

Mickael Feval, a gourmet Parisian chef boasting a star in the prestigious Michelin guide, is an ebullient fan and now on his third trip to Lofoten to study the fish. “The difference with other cod is that this fish has swum so far to get here through the Barents Sea. It has really developed muscles… The texture is amazing,” he tells AFP after personally choosing the specimens he will serve with “a French touch” at a gourmet dinner in Lofoten the next day.

Skrei belongs to the world’s largest cod stock, estimated at around 1.7 million tonnes in the Barents Sea where it is fished by Russia and Norway. From late January to early April, skrei make their way along the northern Norwegian coast, with nearly half ending up around the breathtaking but inhospitable Lofoten islands, which were settled thousands of years ago by people drawn by the abundant fish.

About a millennium ago, exports of dried skrei began from the islands, and much of the annual catch is still dried and sent around the world, especially to bacalao-loving countries like Spain, Italy and Portugal. For the some 25,000 inhabitants of this archipelago, around half of whom still make a living off the fishing industry, the skrei season in the dead of the dark Arctic winter is ironically the highlight of the year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

From Crime to Culture: Gritty Marseille Redefines Itself

For years, Marseille has had a bad reputation for crime and social problems. But now that the EU has designated it the 2013 “European Capital of Culture,” the city is investing millions into showcasing itself as home to a unique and thriving creative scene.

Among the less sophisticated citizens of provincial France, Marseille has been disapprovingly dubbed “the largest city in North Africa” owing to its large number of immigrants from the Maghreb, as if it were somehow the starting point of a bridge spanning the Mediterranean. In the past, the tourist destination earned a bad reputation as a den of drug dealers. But even though its notorious drug trade doesn’t make the headlines anymore, the city’s name has recently been re-tarnished by murderous gang criminality. Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin defends the city against these kinds of stereotypes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iceman’s DNA Reveals Health Risks and Relations

Ötzi’s genome hints at heart disease, bacterial infection and common ancestry with modern-day Sardinians.

The data suggest that Ötzi had brown eyes and type-O blood, and was lactose intolerant. Zink’s team also discovered gene variants linked to hardened arteries, which could help to account for calcium deposits found in scans. “He wasn’t obese, he was very active, he doesn’t have strong risk factors for developing calcification of his heart,” says Zink. “Perhaps he developed this due to a genetic predisposition.”

His Y chromosome possesses mutations most commonly found among men from Sardinia and Corsica, and his nuclear genome puts his closest present-day relatives in the same area. Perhaps Ötzi’s kind once lived across Europe, before dying out or interbreeding with other groups everywhere except on those islands. That makes sense, says Eske Willerslev, a palaeogenomicist at the University of Copenhagen. “Sardinians are a group that people have considered distinct from other Europeans, and in this regard it would be interesting if they were more widely distributed in the past.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mohammed & Charlemagne Revisited: The Conclusion

by Emmet Scott (March 2012)

If we leave aside the, as yet, insoluble questions raised by the Climate Catastrophe and the Phantom Time theorists, we may nonetheless conclude by stating that archaeological investigation over the past half century has revealed the following:

Classical civilization showed a marked decline from the beginning of the third century onwards. From then through to the first half of the fifth, there is evidence of a fairly dramatic drop in the population of the Roman Empire, particularly in the western provinces. By the late-fifth century, this decline was halted and even reversed. Archaeology shows the greatest revival of trade, expansion of population, and recommencement of high-quality architecture in North Africa and Spain, two regions which now experienced something of a golden age. But by the mid-sixth century Latin civilization was also expanding in Gaul, central Europe and even Britain. Indeed, it now began to spread into regions never reached by the Roman Legions, such as eastern Germany, Ireland and northern Britain. Only Italy, particularly central Italy, showed signs of decay; but this was not primarily the result of the Barbarian Invasions of the fifth century, and is adequately explained by the decline of Rome’s political importance.

The same pattern is observed in the East, where numerous cities with very large populations were sustained by a thriving economy and agriculture. That the great plague of 542, which swept the Mediterranean world, did not inflict terminal damage, is proved beyond question by the discovery of thriving and prosperous cities of the late sixth and early seventh centuries throughout the Levantine region. Indeed, by the second half of the sixth century these regions now began to experience an epoch of unparalleled prosperity and opulence. Cities expanded and trade increased well into the second decade of the seventh century.

By the third or perhaps fourth decade of the seventh century classical civilization began rapidly to disappear. The cities of the East were either destroyed or abandoned — or both. This destruction was without question the work of first the Persians and then the Arabs. With the disappearance of the cities came the decline of the classical system of agriculture. Enormous areas of previously cultivated and fertile land quickly became barren and overgrown, a phenomenon almost certainly explained by the Arab custom of allowing their herds to graze on cultivated fields; which behavior was prompted by the Islamic doctrine that “the faithful” had a right to live off the labour of “the infidel.” In Mediterranean Europe at the same time, the classical system of agriculture also disappears. Furthermore, the scattered lowland settlements of classical times are abandoned and replaced by defended hilltop settlements. If these developments were not caused by Arab piracy and slave-raiding, then no explanation for them is forthcoming.

From about the third decade of the seventh century the great majority of urban settlements in Europe and throughout the Near East were abandoned. Indeed, almost all settlement of any kind seems to disappear. Little or no archaeology from the mid-seventh to mid-tenth centuries has been discovered in a wide arc stretching from Scotland and Ireland in the north-west to the eastern borders of Persia in the south-east. Then, around the third or fourth decade of the tenth century, new urban centers appear. These are not — in the East at least — nearly as large as those of the early seventh century, and they are distinctly medieval, rather than classical, in character. Nonetheless, the material culture of these settlements, in terms of art and artifacts, often bears striking comparison with the material culture of the early seventh century.

These then are the fact revealed by archaeology. The reader may make of them what he chooses.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Government Starts Polish Charm Offensive

The Netherlands has begun a charm offensive to try to restore damage done to the country’s reputation in Poland by Geert Wilder’s website to collect complaints about Poles and eastern Europeans, the Volkskrant reports on Thursday. The paper says immigration minister Gerd Leers went to Warsaw on Wednesday evening to explain that Wilders does not speak on behalf of the Netherlands. Leers will also meet Polish ministers on Thursday.

‘I am not going cap in hand. I am speaking as an equal,’ Leers told the paper before his departure. The talks will focus on ‘discussing the background to the problems and how we can solve them,’ Leers said.

The website has already been condemned by European commissioners, MEPs, employers’ leaders, ambassadors and migrant labour groups. It places newspaper headlines such as ‘Eastern Europeans, increasingly criminal’ alongside a complaints hotline. The PVV says the aim is to gain insight into ‘problems caused by central and eastern Europeans in terms of crime, alcoholism, drugs use, dumping household waste and prostitution’.

Prime minister Mark Rutte is due to discuss the website with Martin Schulz, leader of the European Parliament later on Thursday. Schulz wants Rutte to publicly distance himself from the website, which Rutte has consistently refused to do. He argues the site is a matter for the PVV alone. The PVV, while not officially part of the government, has a formal alliance with the minority cabinet and will soon take part in talks on making new spending cuts

Dutch firms doing business in Poland have warned the trading relationship could be seriously damaged unless the government takes action. Nevertheless, calls for a boycott of Dutch products have fallen largely on deaf ears and there has only been limited public anger about the website, the Volkskrant states.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway ‘To Release’ India Children in Custody Row

A child welfare agency in Norway has said that custody of two Indian children taken from their parents and put into foster care should be awarded to the children’s uncle.

This would allow them to return to India, Stavanger Child Welfare Service said in a statement.

A local court will make the final decision in March, the statement said.

The children, aged three and one, were removed when child services said their parents had failed to look after them.

A provisional date of 23 March has been set for Stavanger District Court to hear the case.

“This week the Child Welfare Service (CWS) in Stavanger completed its talks with the uncle in the child welfare case concerning two Indian children,” the statement said.

“It has been concluded that care of the two children should be awarded to the brother of the children’s father enabling him to take the children back to India.”

The CWS said it wanted to be sure “the necessary legal framework and follow-up procedures are in place in order to safeguard the children’s best interests”.

The case has received so much attention in India that Delhi sent an envoy to discuss the case with Norwegian authorities.

The Indian government said the children were being deprived of the benefits of being brought up in their own cultural and linguistic environment and it was important they should return to India as soon as possible.

The children were removed from the parents and put into foster care last May.

The parents, Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, said there were “cultural differences” the authorities took exception to, including sleeping with the children and feeding them by hand.

The child welfare agency has denied this, saying it only intervened when the children’s safety was at risk.

They were recently allowed to spend a couple of hours with the children in the presence of social workers.

           — Hat tip: DG[Return to headlines]

Oldest Instrument is Dug Up in Skye Cave

THE remains of what could be the oldest stringed instrument to be found in Europe have been discovered in a remote cave on Skye. The burnt fragment was dug up last year during an archaeological project. It is believed to be at least 1,500 years old and pre-dates any similar item previously found on the continent.

The artefact, which resembles a bridge of an early stringed instrument, was unearthed in Skye’s High Pasture Cave — a focus of Bronze Age and Iron Age research since 1972 — and is currently being examined by experts at Historic Scotland.

Rod McCullagh, a Historic Scotland Archaeologist, said: “The cave has provided many fascinating discoveries, including a burnt fragment of a small wooden object that we have asked experts to study as it appears to be the bridge of a stringed instrument.”

Until now the oldest stringed instruments found in Europe have been lyre harps dated around 600AD, which were played by Vikings throughout Scandinavia. However most of the artefacts discovered at the High Pasture Cave are much older, with many of the finds dating back to the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age, up to 2,000 years earlier.

Until now it was believed that the only instruments made during that time were flutes, pipes and bronze instruments such as crudely fashioned trumpets. But the Skye instrument could date from around 500 AD and may have been left there by later inhabitants of the caves.

McCullagh added: “The archaeological excavations at High Pasture Cave in Skye have revealed an astounding site. The work has recorded the remains of almost a thousand years of ceremony, ritual and feasting.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Premier Rutte Rejects Schengen Veto Isolates Netherlands

THE HAGUE, 01/03/12 — Prime Minister Mark Rutte says he is not aware of any negative effects arising from the Dutch cabinet’s position on expanding the Schengen area.

“Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager would not have been able to dominate the last euro group meeting in quite the way that he did if the Netherlands was being viewed with any sort of disfavour,” Rutte told the Lower House. He was reacting to Christian democrat (CDA) MP Henk Jan Ormel who said he feared the Netherlands could become isloated in Europa.

The Netherlands has lately been the only Schengen Area country to refuse to admit Romania and Bulgaria. Rutte denied though that the Netherlands stands alone in Brussels. He added that “we are following the policies set out in the coalition agreement,” which was a reminder to Ormel that his CDA was one of the signatories to the coalition agreement. The CDA MP fears the firm Dutch stance could have negative consequences for Dutch wishes in other areas. Ormel said he was concerned about a negative effect on Dutch attempts to reduce its EU contributions by 1 billion euros. He also fears it may torpedo Dutch efforts to limit immigration through stricter regulations for family reunification.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Science Cloud: Atom-Smashing Lab Joins New Computing Initiative

A new cloud-computing project called the “Science Cloud” has just been launched by some of Europe’s biggest research powerhouses along with European IT companies.

The European Space Agency (ESA), along with the CERN physics lab (home of the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), hope to use the Science Cloud to carry out large complicated calculations probing some of the biggest mysteries of the universe.

Officially called “Helix Nebula — the Science Cloud,” the new tool will allow European research organizations to access additional cloud-computing power to analyze huge sets of data.

For example, CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland, plans to use the Science Cloud to sift through the reams of data being generated by particle collisions inside its ATLAS experiment on the LHC, which is searching for new particles never seen before, such as the rumored Higgs boson thought to give other particles mass.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: A Tale of Two Cities: Anger as Manchester is Compared to Centre of Mexico’s Drugs War as UN Brands Our Inner-Cities ‘No-Go’ Areas

British cities have lawless ‘no-go areas’ comparable with the most dangerous parts of Brazil, Mexico and the U.S., according to a United Nations drugs chief.

Professor Hamid Ghodse claimed Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester are on a par with the drug and murder capitals of the world.

The president of the International Narcotics Control Board said the police had lost control of parts of these cities, and drugs gangs had taken over.

But his comments caused fury from police and community leaders.

Tony Lloyd, Labour MP for Manchester Central, said: ‘I walk the streets of Manchester on a regular basis. It is not the same as Bogota, it is not the same as Mexico City.

‘He is either ignorant or stupid. If hehas surveyed my city from the decadence of a five-star hotel room then he may well draw those conclusions.

‘If he had come out with me on the streets he would see that people are living happily and peacefully.’

Liverpool council leader Joe Anderson said: ‘Anyone who knows Liverpool will not recognise the city from the way in which this report is being interpreted.

‘The comparisons are fanciful and it is absurd to say any part of the city is a no-go area.’

Ahead of the publication of the INCB’s annual report on drugs around the world, Professor Ghodse said urgent action was needed because parts of the UK were experiencing ‘social disintegration’…

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Girl: 11, Raped by Schoolboy Street Gang Members in McDonald’s Restaurant Toilet Involved Up to Eight Members of the Same Street Gang

An 11-year-old girl was raped in a McDonald’s toilet in a campaign of sex attacks involving up to eight underage members of a street gang, a court heard yesterday.

They took it in turns to rape the child a dozen times over several months at various east London locations.

As if the ordeal of being raped wasn’t enough, they later beat her up as a warning not to tell anyone about what had happened.

The sex attacks, on three separate dates between September 2009 and March 2010, are said to have been motivated by a ‘mixture of bullying and possibly gang bravado’.

The 11-year-old was first attacked in a park by two boys, one said to be the gang leader who was the youngest member, aged just 13 at the time, Inner London Crown Court heard.

He led a second attack at his east London home, involving a queue of up to eight thugs.

On the final occasion in March 2010 she was cornered by three boys in the McDonalds toilet in East Ham, where one of them raped her.

The leader, now 15, was convicted of two rapes following a trial but he was released on bail yesterday, ahead of sentencing next month.

He claimed he was playing football at the time but jurors rejected his story. Another 15-year-old boy earlier admitted raping the girl in the McDonald’s cubicle.

At one of the suspect’s houses, police also discovered pornographic images depicting a gang rape attack.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Smaller said: ‘The girl appears to have been raped in furtherance of an unattractive mixture of bullying and possibly gang bravado.’

The girl first met the gang on a bus and they went to Central Park in Canning Town, where the ringleader and another boy started asking her about sex.

‘She went to walk off — but she was pulled back by one of them. She said to him ‘don’t touch me’ but he turned her round and she ended up in a corner.

‘She remembers saying ‘can’t you leave me alone’ but she also said that she knew what was going to happen and in the end, just let it happen.’

After the first boy had sex with her, jurors heard a second then raped her too.

This was followed by bullying, with the boys calling and texting her not to tell anyone what had happened, the court heard.

A week later, the girl went to the ringleader’s home in east London, where she was attacked by him followed by the rest of the gang.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Revealed: The Torture Chamber Flat Where 15-Year-Old Boy Was Beaten, Stabbed and Drowned Because Evil Couple Accused Him of Being a Witch

This is the squalid flat in which a 15-year-old boy was beaten stabbed and eventually drowned after a three-day long ordeal after his sister and her partner accused him of witchcraft.

Kristy Bamu, 15, was tortured and drowned in a bath on Christmas Day 2010 by his sister Magalie and her partner Eric Bikubi.

They believed he had cast spells on another child in the family, the Old Bailey heard.

Today football coach Bikubi, 28, and Magalie, 29, of Newham, east London, were found guilty of murder by a jury and are now facing life in prison.

They were remanded in custody to be sentenced on Monday.

Following the verdicts, Scotland Yard announced it had investigated 83 cases involving abuse resulting from ritualistic or faith-based beliefs, and brought 17 prosecutions, over the last 10 years.

However the depravity of this case shocked investigators, who found a blood-stained flat laying testament to the cruelty involved.

Kristy was in such pain after three days of being attacked with knives, sticks, metal bars, and a hammer and chisel that he ‘begged to die’ before slipping under the water.

He had refused to admit to sorcery and witchcraft and his punishments in a ‘deliverance’ ceremony became more horrendous.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Soldiers Prepare for Afghanistan Tour With Visit to Bolton Mosque

More than 50 soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh went to the Zakaria Mosque in Bolton, one of the largest in the region.

The visit was requested by the Chester-based unit in January and hosted by Bolton Council of Mosques.

Major Owain Luke, commanding officer of the unit’s B Company, said the visit was designed to give the soldiers a better understanding of Islam and the cultural importance of mosques.

The regiment will deploy to Afghanistan in April.

Soldiers spent three hours with the mosque’s Imam Rashid. They watched midday prayers and asked questions on Islam, daily prayer rituals and Ramadan, the month of fasting.

Major Luke said: “We are going to an Islamic country and so it is critical that our soldiers understand the faith. The more we do so, through activities like this, the more likely we are to avoid making cultural blunders.

“It has been very useful and we will be able to apply a lot of what we have learned on the ground in Afghanistan. For example, learning how to recognise a smaller mosque, knowing what a prayer mat or the Koran looks like — these are useful things to know when you are on patrol in a Muslim country.”

Imam Rashid said: “It gives each of us a good understanding of each other, and it gives the soldiers a good understanding of our place of worship. It was a good experience.”

Zakaria Mosque was founded 40 years ago and can accommodate more than 3,000 worshippers.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]


Bosnia Marks 20th Anniversary of Independence

Bosnia’s Muslim and Croat leaders have commemorated 20 years of independence from Yugoslavia, while a boycott from Bosnian Serbs outlined the country’s deep ethnic divisions. Bosnia and Herzegovina marked its 20th anniversary since independence from the former Yugoslavia at a ceremony in Sarajevo on Thursday, although a large portion of the ethnically-divided country refused to recognize the holiday.

The semi-autonomous Muslim-Croat Federation is the only region in the country to celebrate independence, while the Serb-majority Republika Srpska boycotts the day. Milorad Dodik, president of the Republika Srpska, called it a “completely normal workday,” highlighting the ethnic divisions that still run deep in the country. Bakir Izetbegovic and Zeljko Komsic, the Muslim and Croat members of the country’s three-person presidency, laid flowers at a Sarajevo cemetery in commemoration of those who defended the city against a 44-month siege by Bosnian Serb troops. The Bosnian Serb member, Nebojsa Radmanovic, did not attend.

“Today our thoughts are firstly with those whose loved ones gave their lives to defend freedom and the right to a dignified life,” said Izetbegovic, whose father Alija Izetbegovic was the first president of an independent Bosnia. Ejup Ganic, a Muslim who belonged to the presidency at the time of independence, said in the newspaper Dnevni Avaz that the Republika Srpska was responsible for genocide during the bloody 1992-1996 war that followed the successful referendum for independence from Yugoslavia. The great majority of Bosnian Serbs boycotted the vote.

“The national holiday will be celebrated across the entire country when the institutions of the Republika Srpska are held accountable for ethnic cleansing and genocide,” he said. Another ceremony was planned later in the day at a memorial for the 1,500 children who were among the 10,000 people killed in the fighting.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Kosovo ‘Solution’ Threatens Bosnia and Macedonia

The European Union and the US have a crucial role to play in Bosnia and Macedonia amid new inter-ethnic tensions in the small but strategic Balkan countries. There is widespread expectation that a future agreement on special status for Serbs in north Kosovo will end what some call a “frozen conflict” in the region, give extra political weight to pro-EU Serb President Boris Tadic and see Kosovo move closer to the EU with a quid-pro-quo deal on visa liberalisation and the right to sign legal treaties.

But how should the EU and US handle the potential knock-on effects in neighbouring Macedonia? Should they try to gently persuade Ali Ahmeti, the leader of the main Albanian political party in the country, not to ask for autonomy for his people?

Meanwhile, the EU and US must also address two other issues which threaten the Western Balkans’ future — political Islam and economic failure. It has not been widely reported, but radical Islamic groups are increasingly infiltrating moderate Muslim communities in Bosnia, in Serbia’s Sandzak region, in Kosovo, Macedonia and in Albania.

These Wahabbist elements were not here before the Balkan wars. But now they are trying to create new tensions between non-Muslims and Muslim moderates — in Macedonia in January orthodox churches were set on fire. At the same time as Arab money — both good and bad — is pouring into the region, the economic crisis in the EU is causing a drastic drop in remittance income.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tunisia: No Veils in Class, Salafist Students Attack Teachers

Latest case after girl wearing niqab not allowed entry

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS — Tunisian university professors opposed to the attendance of lessons by women wearing the niqab continue to be attacked. The latest case concerns two professors from the Literature, Art and Human Sciences Faculty at La Manouba, who were attacked by dozens of Salafist students after one of them objected, with reference to regulations in Tunisian universities, to the presence of a female student wearing the niqab. The decision was challenged by a group of young Salafists, themselves students at the university, who began to protest outside the hall in which the teacher was holding the lesson. With protesters using loud-speakers to disrupt the lesson, the professor was unable to proceed with the lesson, moving instead to a different hall with his students. After breaking down the door, the Salafists entered the second hall and attacked the professor. Another teacher who tried to intervene suffered a similar fate. The incident has led the management of La Manouba university to suspend lessons.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Crunch Election for Putin: A Divided Russia Goes to the Polls

Vladimir Putin plans to win a third term as Russian president in Sunday’s election. But he has been weakened by the anti-government protests that have broken out in recent months, and many Russians believe he lacks a vision for the country. Is Russia on the brink of radical change?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghans: Quran-Burning Soldiers to Face Trial

In a development that could chill the dedication of every soldier in the field, the U.S. government has refused to deny reports by the government of Afghanistan that NATO has agreed to have the soldiers who burned copies of the Quran face trial.

Last week, Afghan president Hamid Karzai demanded NATO turn over the U.S. troops to be tried in Afghanistan. President Obama subsequently sent a letter to Karzai reassuring him that the troops involved would be punished for their actions.

Part of the three-page letter to Karzai said, “I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies. We will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.”

It is unclear exactly what Obama meant by that statement as the White House has not released the full text of the letter. However, the Afghan government may have provided insight into its contents.

Over the weekend, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan government media and information center website posted a joint statement by the delegations assigned to probe the Quran burning incident.

The statement says that two delegations were created to “investigate the circumstances and causes that have led to the inhumane incident.”

The statement listed several items, including a demand that the U.S. turn over the authority of the prison in Bagram to the Afghan government to ensure similar incidents do not recur and “calls on the U.S. government to fully and comprehensively cooperate to this end.”

However, the statement used vastly different language when discussing the fate of the U.S. soldiers involved in the incident.

“NATO officials promised to meet Afghan nation’s demand of bringing to justice, through an open trial, those responsible for the incident and it was agreed that the perpetrators of the crime be brought to justice as soon as possible,” the statement said.

The wording suggests members of the military could be handed over to an Afghan system that imposes Shariah-related penalties.

U.S officials were unwilling to state emphatically that the soldiers would not be turned over to the Afghan legal system for burning the Qurans.

Cmdr. William Speakes, a spokesman for the Pentagon said, “It would be premature to speculate at any potential outcomes. Any disciplinary action if deemed warranted will be taken by U.S. authorities after a thorough review of the facts pursuant to all U.S. military law and regulations and in accordance with due process. We have made no commitments beyond that.”

When asked if that meant the only commitment officials were willing to make was the soldiers would not be tried in an Afghan court, Speakes said, “No. The only commitment we have made is that we will take any appropriate disciplinary action deemed necessary by the investigation. Any suggestions that we have made more detailed commitments beyond what I just told you is inaccurate.”

Although the statements apparently were made by the Afghan government Feb. 25, they have received no mention in the mainstream media.

Clare Lopez, a senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy, said if the statement by the Afghan government turns out to be true, it would be an unprecedented betrayal of our men and women in uniform.

“I can’t imagine we would ever do this, what would we charge them with? Are we going to try Americans for crimes committed under Shariah law? I cannot believe our government would go that far,” she said.

Robert Spencer, founder of Jihad Watch, said it was fascinating that the U.S. government has not gotten out in front of this issue and denied the statement.

“The administration needs to clarify their stance on this. The longer they wait to deny this the more it has the opportunity to further inflame the Muslim in Afghanistan.”

Spencer said that whether the soldiers end up being turned over to the Afghan government or face court-martial, either decision would set a dangerous precedent.

“It would be unconscionable either way,” he said. “If they turn them over to the Afghan government for trial then we are endorsing the applicability of Shariah law to non-Muslims in the U.S. military. If they court-martial them then they are adopting those norms as part of the UCMJ. Either way it’s frightening.”

Lopez said that while U.S. officials have made large concessions to appease Muslims, turning the soldiers over to face trial would be over the line.

“If they were to allow our soldiers to be tried under a legal system that calls for the death penalty for destroying a Quran, that would be unthinkable,” she said.

She said that the silence on the part of U.S. officials has the potential to cause real damage to the morale of troops.

“When the government will not come out with a strong denial of this statement by the Afghan government it has the potential to cause our troops to wonder if the U.S. will truly stand behind and protect them when they are simply trying to do their job,” she said.

It appears that the soldiers may not have violated Islamic law at all by their burning of the Qurans.

In a PBS interview, Imam Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at the Islamic Center of Southern California, said it was acceptable to burn the Quran if it was in a state of “disrepair.”

“When Muslims want to respectfully dispose of a text of the Quran that is no longer usable, we will burn it. So if someone, for example, in their own private collection or library had a text of the Quran that was damaged or that was in disrepair, so the binding was ruined, etc., or it got torn, they might bring it by to the Islamic Center and ask that someone here dispose of it properly if they were unsure how to do that,” Turk said. “And what I’ll do is I’ll take it to my fireplace at home and burn it there in the fireplace. So I sort of take the pages out and then burn it to make sure that it gets thoroughly charred and is no longer recognizable as script.”

Spencer added, “You are supposed to burn a Quran that is worn out and you are not to write in it. Do they have a problem with the burning of the Quran? No, they do it all the time.”

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Boat-Shooting Marines to Stay in Indian Police Custody

Threat of prison averted for now

(ANSA) — Rome, March 1 — The two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen while aboard a merchant ship are to remain in police custody until Monday, a magistrate decided on Thursday, averting the threat of prison for the moment.

The marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, are at the centre of a diplomatic dispute between the countries since being detained in the port of Kochi after last week’s fatalities.

Italy says it should have jurisdiction for the case as the officers were aboard an Italian vessel in international waters, but the Indian authorities do not agree.

The Italian government also believes that, regardless of who has jurisdiction, the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India as they were military personnel working on an anti-piracy mission. “The marines belong to a state corps that operates abroad and they should be treated as such,” Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said after a meeting with his Indian counterpart S.

M. Krishna failed to overcome the differences on Tuesday.

Terzi added that if there were anything to respond to “Italy must respond to it”.

Italy has said the marines fired warning shots from the merchant ship they were guarding, 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.

Italy has made an appeal to try to overturn an Indian court’s decision to reject a request to allow Italian experts to be able to monitor tests on arms seized from the ship the marines were on.

“If our experts are not there we have no guarantees,” Terzi said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UN in Afghanistan Says Koran Burners Should be Punished

KABUL (Reuters) — The United Nations joined Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday in calling on the U.S. military to take disciplinary action against those who burned copies of the Koran at a NATO air base, calling the incident a “grave mistake”.

Despite an apology from U.S. President Barack Obama, the burning of the Muslim holy book at the Bagram base north of the capital ignited a wave of anti-Western fury across the country.

At least 30 people were killed in protests, including two American soldiers who were killed by an Afghan soldier who joined the demonstrations.

“After the first step of a profound apology, there must be a second step … of disciplinary action,” Jan Kubis, special representative for the U..N. secretary-general in Afghanistan, told a news conference.

“Only after this, after such a disciplinary action, can the international forces say ‘yes, we’re sincere in our apology’,” added Kubis, without elaborating on what action should be taken.

Obama, in a letter of apology to Karzai last week, said the burning of copies of the Koran had been “inadvertent” and an “error”.

Distancing the United Nations from the anti-Western uproar, Kubis lamented the attack on a U.N. compound in Kunduz province in the north last week, which angry demonstrators charged with weapons. U.N. staff was relocated around the country.

“We were not the ones who desecrated the holy Koran,” Kubis said. “We deeply, deeply, profoundly respect Islam.”

In some of the toughest language yet from an international organisation over the Koran burnings, Kubis added:

“We were very hurt that the international military allowed the desecration of the Koran. We rejected and condemned this act, it doesn’t matter that it was a mistake.”.

The call from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for action come after Karzai demanded the Koran burners — whom he said were American soldiers — be put on public trial and punished.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) says any disciplinary action “deemed necessary” would be taken by U.S. authorities after a thorough review of the facts in an investigation.

Results from separate investigations by NATO and Afghan authorities into the Koran burnings last month are expected soon. New protests could erupt if the investigation teams are seen as too soft on the Koran burners.

The Koran desecrations are also believed to have spurred a 25-year-old policeman to kill two high-ranking American officers inside the Interior Ministry.

The attack has raised questions about NATO’s strategy of replacing large combat unit with advisers as the alliance tries to wind down the war.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


Muslims in Germany: Study Hints That Mutual Suspicion is Slowing Integration

A new integration study released on Thursday has triggered yet another debate about the role of Islam in Germany. The report found that a surprising number of non-German Muslims are skeptical about integrating into society. But the country’s own doubts about immigration may have muddied the data.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Study Finds Non-German Muslims More Reluctant to Integrate

A study on Muslim integration in Germany has found nearly one in four Muslims without German citizenship holds hostile views toward the West and are reluctant to integrate. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said Thursday that anyone who opposes freedom and democracy in Germany would have “no future here,” reacting to a report that found nearly a quarter of non-German Muslims hold anti-Western views and have no interest in integration.

“Germany pays attention to the cultural background and identity of its immigrants,” he said in the Thursday edition of the mass-circulation Bild newspaper. “But we do not accept the import of authoritarian, anti-democratic and religiously extremist views.” A report from the Interior Ministry, made public late on Wednesday, found that 24 percent of non-German Muslims between 14 and 32 years of age were “strictly religious with strong animosity toward the West, a tendency to accept violence and no tendency toward integration.” The percentage dropped to 15 among Muslims who were German nationals.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Doctors Linked to Britain’s Oxford University: ‘it Should be OK to Kill Newborns’

MOTHERS should be allowed to kill newborn babies, a team of doctors linked to Britain’s Oxford University have claimed.

Mothers should be allowed to kill newborns they do not want because the children are as “morally irrelevant” as aborted fetuses, the doctors claimed.

Australian philosopher and medical ethicist Dr. Francesca Minerva and Dr. Alberto Giubilini, a bioethicist from the University of Milan, wrote “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?” which claims that killing babies is as ethically permissible as abortion.

Dr Minerva and Dr Giubilini argued, “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

They said they had chosen to call the practice “after-birth abortion” rather than infanticide “to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.”

The authors said that the newborns were not “actual persons,” only “potential persons” so they did not have a “moral right to life.”

Their definition of a person was “an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.”

It could be acceptable to kill newborn babies born with disabilities who “might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole,” the authors said, and healthy children whose adoption would be distressing for the mother.

Parents should have the right to end the lives of their children rather than give the baby up, “if interests of actual people should prevail,” Dr Minerva and Dr Giubilini wrote.

The paper, which was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, was edited by Professor Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.

He defended the paper and slammed critics who had directed “hostile, abusive, threatening responses” at its authors as “disturbing”…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


How We Won the Hominid Wars, And All the Others Died Out

The unique adaptability of Homo sapiens is what allowed us to survive when so many other species died out, paleoanthropologist Rick Potts contends.

How did our species come to rule the planet? Rick Potts argues that environmental instability and disruption were decisive factors in the success of Homo sapiens: Alone among our primate tribe, we were able to cope with constant change and turn it to our advantage. Potts is director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program, curator of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and curator of the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, which opened at that museum last year. He also leads excavations in the East African Rift Valley and codirects projects in China that compare early human behavior and environments in eastern Africa with those in eastern Asia. Here Potts explains the reasoning behind his controversial idea.

Why did our close relatives-from Neanderthals to their recently discovered cousins, the Denisovans, to the hobbit people of Indonesia-die out while we became a global success?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tawriya: New Islamic Doctrine Permits ‘Creative Lying’

by Raymond Ibrahim

Perhaps you have heard of taqiyya, the Muslim doctrine that allows lying in certain circumstances, primarily when Muslim minorities live under infidel authority. Now meet tawriya, a doctrine that allows lying in virtually all circumstances-including to fellow Muslims and by swearing to Allah-provided the liar is creative enough to articulate his deceit in a way that is true to him. (Though tawriya is technically not “new”-as shall be seen, it has been part of Islamic law and tradition for centuries-it is certainly new to most non-Muslims, hence the need for this exposition and the word “new” in the title.)

The authoritative Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary defines tawriya as, “hiding, concealment; dissemblance, dissimulation, hypocrisy; equivocation, ambiguity, double-entendre, allusion.” Conjugates of the trilateral root of the word, w-r-y, appear in the Quran in the context of hiding or concealing something (e.g., 5:31, 7:26).

As a doctrine, “double-entendre” best describes tawriya’s function. According to past and present Muslim scholars (several documented below), tawriya is when a speaker says something that means one thing to the listener, though the speaker means something else, and his words technically support this alternate meaning.

For example, if someone declares “I don’t have a penny in my pocket,” most listeners will assume the speaker has no money on him-though he might have dollar bills, just literally no pennies. Likewise, say a friend asks you, “Do you know where Mike is?” You do, but prefer not to divulge. So you say “No, I don’t know”-but you keep in mind another Mike, whose whereabouts you really do not know.

All these are legitimate according to Sharia law and do not constitute “lying,” which is otherwise forbidden in Islam, except in three cases: lying in war, lying to one’s spouse, and lying in order to reconcile people. For these, Sharia permits Muslims to lie freely, without the strictures of tawriya, that is, without the need for creativity.

As for all other instances, in the words of Sheikh Muhammad Salih al-Munajid (based on scholarly consensus): “Tawriya is permissible under two conditions: 1) that the words used fit the hidden meaning; 2) that it does not lead to an injustice” (“injustice” as defined by Sharia, of course, not Western standards). Otherwise, it is permissible even for a Muslim to swear when lying through tawriya. Munajid, for example, cites a man who swears to Allah that he can only sleep under a roof (saqf); when the man is caught sleeping atop a roof, he exonerates himself by saying “by roof, I meant the open sky.” This is legitimate. “After all,” Munajid adds, “Quran 21:32 refers to the sky as a roof (saqf).”

Here is a recent example of tawriya in action: Because it is a “great sin” for Muslims to acknowledge Christmas, this sheikh counsels Muslims to tell Christians, “I wish you the best,” whereby the latter might “understand it to mean you’re wishing them best in terms of their (Christmas) celebration.” But-here the wily sheikh giggles as he explains-”by saying I wish you the best, you mean in your heart I wish you become a Muslim.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]