Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120412

Financial Crisis
»Bernanke’s Warning: We Stand on the Precipice of Economic Destruction
»British Official Trade Deficit Increases in February
»Developing Nations Invest Less Abroad, UNCTAD Says
»EU Calls for Eurozone Unity Amid Spain Strains
»EU: German Pay Deals Add to Euro Divergence
»Gallup CEO: High Unemployment Will Make Romney President
»Greece: Banks Facing Specter of Nationalization
»Greek State Gets New Powers to Force Payment of Debts
»IMF, EU to Conduct New Assessment Mission in Romania
»Mass Unemployment in the Balkans — A Need to Act
»Uncertainty About Spain Worries Euro Zone
»24 Outrageous Facts About Taxes in the United States That Will Blow Your Mind
»A New Crop of Digital Science Books Will Change the Way Students Learn
»A Storm-Chaser Who’s Looked Straight Into a Tornado’s Heart
»Better or Worse?
»Birmingham News Drops the Ball on Black-on-White Crime
»Cave Bacteria Finding Suggests Ancient Origins of Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs
»‘Flying Yogics’ Explains Hopping Mad OWS
»Former Astronauts & Employees to NASA: Stay Away From Global Warming
»Governments Everywhere Having Deep Money Problems
»Mike Tyson: Kill George Zimmerman
»Obama’s “Fairness” Equals Socialism
»The ‘Doomsday Shelter’ Being Built Below Kansas Prairie Where Millionaires Will be Able to Sit Out the Apocalypse in Style
»Unfortunately Named the Affordable Health Care Choices Act of 2009
»US Prosecution of Fundamentalist Muslim Seen as Setback for Free Speech
»Washington Post Suggests Bilderberg Group to Pick Romney’s Running Mate
»Local Muslims Honour Pioneers, Supporters
Europe and the EU
»Belfast Embraces ‘Unsinkable’ Titanic Heritage
»Bolkestein Criticises Dutch Journalism as Sentimental
»Council of Europe Ditches Italian Party Funding System
»Council of Europe to Demand More Pressure on Swiss Tax Cheats
»France’s Muslim Allergy: Sarkozy Can Say Goodbye to the Muslim Vote
»France: Hollande Vows to ‘Dominate Finance’
»Free Koran Distributions Have Germany Concerned
»German Piraten Leapfrog the Green Party and Rank Third
»Germany Monitors Koran Distribution by Salafists
»German Politicians Attack Salafist Koran Giveaway
»Iceland’s Volcanoes May Power UK
»Italy: Puglia Governor Under Investigation for Abuse of Office
»Italy: Tearful Bossi Apologises to Northern League for Children
»Italy: Supreme Court Sentences Non-Italian Father for Child Abuse
»Italy: Contracted Works Never Performed in Salerno: 4 Arrested
»Italy: Berlusconi Defense in Ruby Case Paid Minetti Lawyers
»Sweden: Seven Convicted in Brutal Gang Rape Case
»Sweden: Several Injured in Malmö Gang Brawl
»The Mafia and the European Championships: Price Gouging Adds to List of Ukraine’s Troubles
»UK: First-Class Dishonours
»UK: London University Considers Stopping Sale of ‘Immoral’ Alcohol on Campus Because it Offends Their Muslim Students
»UK: Mehdi Hasan: A Beacon for Islam
»UK: Popular Vicar Converts to Catholicism… And Takes Half His Flock With Him to Church 500 Yards Away
»UK: Police Anti-Terror Hotline Hacked and Conversations Leaked Online
»UK: TV Row Mosque Opens School
»UK: The Rise of UKIP is a Nightmare for David Cameron
»UK: U-Turn on Mosque Free Parking Plans
»Croatia: Police Ban International Ultra Rightists’ Gathering
»Kosovo’s Demographic Time-Bomb
North Africa
»Egypt: 2 Dead in Clashes Over Toll Raise
»The Devil We Don’t Know, Part 1
Israel and the Palestinians
»Israeli Minister Offers to Meet Grass on ‘Neutral’ Territory
»Palestinians Snub Israel Talks Offer
»Palestine in UNESCO — Ending the State of Confusion
Middle East
»Qatar: Ad for Qatari Domestic Help Triggers Protests
»Syria: Lebanese Soldiers Defect, Join Rebels
»Syria’s Minorities Unite Against Assad
»Turkey: China Lands 1 Bln USD Wind Power Deal
»UAE: Peace Convention Begins Today
»UAE: Iranian President’s Visit to Island Raises Tension
»Leading Muslim Public Figure Killed in Moscow
»Punks Against Putin Face Prison Sentence
»Russians Want Dialogue Between Kremlin and Protestors
South Asia
»Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads Across Thailand
»India: the Baby Killed Because it Was a Girl
»India: Hang Baby’s Dad, Say City’s Muslim Leaders
»India: Muslim Militants Attack Christians, Several Injured
»Indian Court Sentences Gujarat Rioters to Life
»Indonesia: British PM Warns of Islamic Extremism on Asian Trip
»Indonesia: Muslims ‘Must Embrace Democracy’ Says David Cameron
»Modi’s Clearance in the Gujarat Riots Case Angers Indian Muslims
»Pakistan: Court Shows Displeasure Over Police Official
»Policy: Bold Strategies for Indian Science
Far East
»China’s Stem-Cell Rules Go Unheeded
»New Sony Chief Reboots Business Strategy, Cuts Jobs and Costs
»North Korea Launches Long-Range Rocket: Reports
»North Korean Rocket Launch Fails
»Philippines Withdraws Warship From China Standoff
»South China Sea: Common Stance Against Beijing’s Imperialism
»The Mysterious Fall of China’s Bo Xilai
Australia — Pacific
»UK: Afghan Refugee Who Said Raping Woman Was Part of ‘Cultural Differences’ Is Jailed for 14 Years
»UK: Despair is Sometimes the Only Possible Response
»UK: PM Retreats on Kicking Out Foreign Criminals Including Burglars and Violent Thieves
»UK: The Sheikh, The Minister and the Shambles
»Distant Galaxies Confirm Accelerating Growth of Universe, Dark Energy

Financial Crisis

Bernanke’s Warning: We Stand on the Precipice of Economic Destruction

This week, Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke again warned that out of control borrowing and spending will eventually destroy the country.

Said Ben to the the Budget Committee:


But here is something Bernanke didn’t mention — a large chunk of that debt is owed to the Federal Reserve. In February, the corporate media fessed up to this undeniable fact. From CNBC:


The bankers that own the Federal Reserve love debt and that’s why they continually expand the money supply.

“Without the Fed’s relentless expansion of the money supply during both the Greenspan and Bernanke eras, the U.S. Treasury never would have been able to issue the staggering sums of debt that now threaten our economic well being,” Ron Paul told the House Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy last year. “This Treasury debt is the very lifeblood of deficit spending, permitting one Congress after another to spend far more than the Treasury collects in taxes. It is precisely this unholy alliance between the enabling Fed and a spendthrift Congress that I hope our witnesses will address today.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

British Official Trade Deficit Increases in February

(LONDON) — Britain’s trade-in-goods deficit widened in February by more than expected, as exports to countries outside the European Union fell, official figures showed on Thursday.

The deficit grew to GBP 8.8 billion (10.7 billion euros, $14.0 billion), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement. That compared with a revised shortfall of GBP 7.9 billion in January.

Market expectations had been for a smaller February deficit of GBP 7.6 billion, according to economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

Exports of goods to non-EU countries fell 8.8 percent to GBP 11.7 billion, while British imports rose 1.0 percent to GBP 16.7 billion, leading to a trade deficit with countries outside the European single market of GBP 5.0 billion.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Developing Nations Invest Less Abroad, UNCTAD Says

Direct investments abroad have increased globally, a new study by the United Nations’ trade and development body bears out. But developing and emerging nations have not contributed to the rise.

Foreign direct investments (FDI) rose by 16 percent globally last year, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development announced on Thursday. The Geneva-based body said financial outflows in 2011 amounted to $1.66 trillion ($1.26 trillion euros), up from $1.43 trillion in the previous year.

But the picture was far from homogeneous, UNCTAD warned in its report. While the value of money flowing from highly industrialized nations jumped by a quarter, developing and emerging countries scaled back their foreign financing by 7.0 percent.

Rich nations invested $1.235 trillion abroad in 2011, up from $985 billion in 2010. The corresponding figure for developing nations last year was $357 billion, down from $383 billion in the previous year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Calls for Eurozone Unity Amid Spain Strains

(BRUSSELS) — The European Commission urged eurozone leaders to work together on Thursday after Spain came under criticism from other governments over strains in its public finances.

“We want the 17 euro area member states to move forward together to preserve their common good, the euro,” Olivier Bailly, spokesman for the European Union’s executive arm, told a news briefing.

“A problem with the macro-economic stability and financial stability of one of the 17 eurozone states affects the other 16,” he added. “What we want today is collective solutions and consensual actions to be put in place.”

With its borrowing costs surging to worrisome levels, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy urged EU peers on Wednesday to be “prudent” when making comments about its economic woes.

In recent days both French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti have made references to public finances in Spain, in a context of market concerns about the country’s finances.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU: German Pay Deals Add to Euro Divergence

Brussels, 4 April (AKI/Bloomberg) — Wage moderation in Germany may be coming to an end at precisely the wrong time for European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

As nations from Greece to Spain battle recessions and record unemployment, workers in Germany are winning some of the biggest pay increases in two decades, with public service staff set to gain 6.3 percent more by the end of next year. That’s widening the gaps between Europe’s largest economy and its euro- area peers, making the ECB’s one-size-fits-all monetary policy less effective.

“While the German wage deals are good news for workers, Draghi is unlikely to be popping the champagne corks,” said Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING Group in Brussels. “ECB policy is inappropriate for each individual country in the euro area; it’s too loose for Germany and too restrictive for the periphery. It could end up making the divergences even bigger.”

Draghi is facing the possibility of price pressures building in Germany just as they wane in nations that have been pushed into austerity drives by the sovereign debt crisis. Only months after the ECB cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low and pumped more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) of cheap cash into Europe’s banking system to stem the crisis, Draghi warned of “upside risks” to inflation and started talking about how to withdraw the emergency measures.

German Reforms

ECB officials meeting in Frankfurt today will keep their key rate at 1 percent, according to all 57 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. The decision is due at 1:45 p.m. and Draghi holds a press conference 45 minutes later.

Labor-market reforms last decade increased Germany’s competitiveness, transforming the economy from the so-called “sick man of Europe” into the region’s locomotive. German nominal gross wages rose an average 2 percent a year between 2000 and 2009, according to Eurostat, less than half the 4.7 percent annual average gain in Spain.

Now, with unemployment at a two-decade low and exports to countries outside the euro area partially shielding the economy from the debt crisis, German workers are asking for a bigger slice of the pie.

IG Metall, Europe’s biggest labor union with about 3.6 million workers, is demanding 6.5 percent more pay.

‘Turning Point’

Germany’s 2 million public service workers are set for a 6.3 percent raise over two years under an agreement reached with the government, the Ver.di union said on March 31. That would be the biggest increase negotiated by the union since 1992.

“The agreement will likely mark a turning point in wage developments in Germany after years of wage restraint,” said Klaus Baader, an economist at Societe Generale SA in Hong Kong. “Given the robustness of Germany’s economy and the continued decline in unemployment, the fact that wage growth is rising is not surprising. If anything, it is surprising it has taken so long.”

Germany’s economy expanded 3.7 percent in 2010 and 3 percent in 2011 before the debt crisis applied a brake. The European Commission projects growth of 0.6 percent this year. That compares with its forecast for a 0.3 percent contraction in the euro-area economy as output declines in Italy, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia.

Rebalancing Process?

Some economists say rising German wages are part of a rebalancing that has to take place within the 17-nation euro zone. Germany, which has long relied on exports for growth, needs to spur household spending, while peripheral nations have to cut wages to improve competitiveness and export performance.

Greece has slashed its minimum wage by 22 percent as part of efforts to make the economy competitive again.

Still, “the ECB is in a dilemma,” said Holger Sandte, chief economist at WestLB Mellon Asset Management in Dusseldorf. “It’s not an optimal currency area. The economy is terrible in some parts and okay in others, and prices are diverging.”

House prices in Spain plunged 11.2 percent last year; in Germany they rose 5.5 percent, the most since the country’s post-reunification property boom in the early 1990s.

Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann is among the ECB policy makers to have begun talking of an eventual exit from the central bank’s emergency lending measures, saying they entail significant risks.

Draghi, in an interview with Germany’s mass tabloid Bild newspaper, said he shares Weidmann’s concerns and “all members of the Governing Council have taken to heart Germany’s stability culture.”

‘Nowhere Close’

“Exit talks are in large part targeted at Germans and other inflation hawks concerned about rising inflation and the emergence of asset-price bubbles,” said Marco Valli, chief euro-area economist at UniCredit Global Research in Milan. “They want to show they have the tools available to tackle inflation, but they’re nowhere close to a starting the exit.”

While Draghi will probably affirm his view that the euro- area economy has stabilized, contracting manufacturing output suggests the recovery remains fragile.

At the same time, euro-area inflation, driven by higher oil prices and tax increases, will breach the ECB’s 2 percent limit for a second straight year in 2012.

The ECB predicts it will slow to 1.6 percent next year. Still, the days of counting on Germany to exert downward pressure on the rate may be coming to an end, said Juergen Michels, chief euro-area economist at Citigroup in London.

Weak domestic demand and austerity measures will probably result in deflation in periphery countries, giving the ECB room to increase stimulus, he said, yet in Germany price pressures are likely to remain elevated.

“As a consequence, we expect that in contrast to the period since introducing the euro, German inflation rates will be above the euro-area average over the medium term,” Michels said.

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

Gallup CEO: High Unemployment Will Make Romney President

Jim Clifton, GEO of Gallup, the leading poll company in America, told Russia Today unemployment will sink Obama’s re-election bid.

“According to the Gallup poll, if we vote tonight, Romney will beat him… They are not voting for Romney — they just vote against the president,” Clifton said.

Forget Afghanistan, Pakistan and a new war in Africa — Americans are more concerned about losing their jobs. “If something really big happens… that will only make a little bit of a difference. Americans don’t want to hear about foreign policy. They should, but they don’t,” Clifton said.

Clifton admitted unemployment is around 20 percent, far higher than the 8 percent the government and the establishment media keep insisting it is. Others put the number at 22.5%, a number closing in on the last Great Depression’s unemployment figure of 25%.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Greece: Banks Facing Specter of Nationalization

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 6 — Even the large Greek banks are facing the specter of nationalization in view of the enormous support for recapitalization they will need from the Financial Stability Facility (FSF), sources said on Thursday. On Friday, as Reporter.Gr writes, the Greek lenders will have to submit to the Bank of Greece their plans for boosting their capital adequacy following the huge write-downs they have had to take as a result of the Greek bond haircut. The country’s international creditors are pressing for the terms of recapitalization to be defined urgently. The banks, whose combined market capitalization has dwindled to less than 3 billion euros, have already divested a large part of their real estate assets but results have been mediocre because of the slump. The banks are asking that shareholders be given incentive to repurchase as many shares as possible after three years, so that they will return to private Greek hands.

However, the central bank is said to be unhappy by the business plans the lenders have presented so far.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greek State Gets New Powers to Force Payment of Debts

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 10 — Greek State is aiming at securing the outstanding debts of taxpayers and corporations by confiscating salaries, pensions, real estate, deposits and securities. According to the manual issued by the Finance Ministry, as reported by daily Kathimerini, confiscations can be made provided their amount exceeds 1,000 euros per month after compulsory charges are deducted, while the remainder cannot be under 1,000 euros. Confiscation will also apply to benefits paid by the state and to properties held by third parties (such as banks). The measure does not concern people with debts up to 300 euros, or those with debts from traffic fines and to local authorities. Also exempt are taxpayers who have already arranged for the settlement of their debt through installments or those who benefit from legal clauses in their favor.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

IMF, EU to Conduct New Assessment Mission in Romania

(BUCHAREST) — The International Monetary Fund and the European Union will review economic reforms in Romania during a new audit, from April 24 to May 7, the IMF said on Thursday.

“A mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), headed by Jeffrey Franks, will visit Bucharest from April 24 to May 7, 2012, to conduct the fifth review of Romania’s Stand-By Arrangement”, the IMF office in Bucharest said in a press release.

The head of the mission Jeffrey Franks will be accompanied by his successor Erik de Vrijer, the IMF said.

At the end of their previous review, in February, EU and IMF representatives trimmed Romania’s 2012 growth forecast to 1.5-2.0 percent, owing to international economic turbulence.

Franks had called on authorities to continue prudent fiscal policies. “With the upcoming elections and the economic growth slowdown, it is essential to maintain the course of reforms.”, Franks stressed.

In March 2011, the IMF and the EU had agreed to provide Romania with a fresh credit line of five billion euros ($6.8 billion dollars) to be drawn only in case of emergency.

Two years earlier, Romania had obtained a 20-billion-euro rescue package from the IMF, the EU and the World Bank which helped it emerge from recession.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mass Unemployment in the Balkans — A Need to Act

Leskovac, once known as the Serbian Manchester, is home to a textile industry that began in the 19th century, flourished under Communism, and has survived — albeit barely — until today. The town, which lies in the south of Serbia, boasts a textile school (set up in 1947), an association of textile engineers and its very own textile magazine. The boom years are a distant memory, however.

Leskovac’s Socialist-era companies are bankrupt, their production halls empty and their machines have been dismantled and sold as scrap. At the heart of the town’s plight, and that of so many other regions in the Western Balkans, is the impact of dramatic de-industrialisation.

Contemporary Serbia is a society whose population is both aging (with an average age of 41, it is one of the oldest in the world) and shrinking. So is its industry. After stagnating during the economic recovery of the 2000s, the employment rate (the percentage of people of working age actually working) has sharply fallen since 2008. Today it is about 45 per cent, more than 20 percent worse than the EU average.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Uncertainty About Spain Worries Euro Zone

The markets appeared to have forgotten about the euro crisis for a few weeks, but now uncertainty is returning, with yields rising again on Spanish and Italian government bonds. The effects of the ECB’s massive cash injection are wearing off, and Spain’s banks have already reportedly run out of the cheap cash they got from the central bank.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


24 Outrageous Facts About Taxes in the United States That Will Blow Your Mind

The U.S. tax code is a complete and utter abomination and it needs to be thrown out entirely. Nobody in their right mind would ever read the whole thing — it is over 3 million words long. Each year, Americans spend billions of hours and hundreds of billions of dollars trying to comply with federal tax requirements. Sadly, it is the honest, hard working Americans in the middle class that always get hit the hardest.

The tax code is absolutely riddled with loopholes that big corporations and the ultra-wealthy use to minimize their tax burdens as much as possible. Many poor people do not pay any income taxes at all. The dishonest are rewarded for cheating on their taxes (if they can get away with it) and the ultra-wealthy have moved trillions of dollars to offshore tax havens where they can avoid U.S. taxation altogether. Our system is incredibly unfair to the millions of hard working people in the middle class and upper middle class that drag themselves out of bed and go to work each day and try to do the right thing. In addition, the current U.S. tax system is incredibly inefficient, it diverts a tremendous amount of resources away from more valuable economic activities, and it has chased thousands of businesses and trillions of dollars out of the United States. The U.S. tax code is such a complete and utter mess at this point that it can never be “fixed”. The only rational thing to do is to abolish it completely, and any politician that tells you otherwise is lying to you.

The following are 24 outrageous facts about taxes in the United States that will blow your mind…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

A New Crop of Digital Science Books Will Change the Way Students Learn

Next-generation science e-books may help keep young people engaged

Science can advance quickly, rendering existing textbooks obsolete. Now new digital textbooks are emerging intended to better engage students and keep them up-to-date on the latest research. These e-books will cost (and weigh) less than the average printed tome. In January, Apple announced its iBooks 2 textbook platform for the iPad, and publishers, including McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, have signed on to create content for it.

In February, Nature Publishing Group, of which Scientific American is a part, came out with Principles of Biology, an interactive, multimedia “book” intended for university-level introductory biology classes that is accessible online using tablet computers, laptops, desktops and smartphones. Principles of Biology integrates text with videos, simulations, interactive exercises, illustrations and tests and also includes classic and current papers from Nature and related journals. Future titles in the life and physical sciences are in the works.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

A Storm-Chaser Who’s Looked Straight Into a Tornado’s Heart

The tornadoes that recently swept through the Dallas Forth Worth area were a reminder of their destructive power. While the most sensible response might be to go as far away as possible from such things, atmospheric scientist Joshua Wurman runs right at them.

What makes tornadoes so unpredictable?

We know the fundamentals of how supercell thunderstorms-the ones that produce tornadoes-form. We know that there need to be certain conditions of temperature, relative humidity, and wind speeds at different altitudes. What we don’t really understand very well is why only 25 percent of the supercells make tornadoes and when in their life cycle they do it: Why did that particular supercell make a tornado now, not 15

minutes ago, or 15 minutes from now? The reason we drive 15,000 miles a year to catch 10 tornadoes is because we don’t know which supercells are going to make them or when.

Why is it so difficult to collect data on a tornado?

It’s a pretty foggy, blurry view-we’re looking through a distorted window with cracks in it. We do fairly well at seeing the winds throughout the storm. Radar is great at doing that. We should probably get a B+. Where we get an F, maybe an F+, is in measuring the temperatures and relative humidities, what we call the thermodynamics,

inside the storms. We know that something is causing the winds to move up and down in the supercell, and we believe that the temperatures and relative humidity are critical to that process.

Yet we have almost no direct way of obtaining those numbers. We tried with unmanned aerial vehicles but didn’t get many measurements.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Better or Worse?

All politics are the politics of the future. The one cause that we all champion, regardless of our political orientation, is the cause of the future. All that we fight for is the ability to shape the future.


The left tends to view the past negatively and future shock positively. It wants change to disrupt the old order of things in order to make way for a new order. It hews to a progressive understanding of history in which we have been getting better with the advance of time, the march of progress mimics evolution as a means of lifting humanity out of the muck and raising it up on ivory towers of reason through a ceaseless process of change.

The right often views the past positively, it sees change as a destroyer that undermines civilization’s accomplishments and threatens to usher in anarchy. It fights to conserve that which is threatened by the entropic winds of change. The conservative worldview is progressive in its own way, but it is the progress of the established order. It sees progress emerging from the accretion of civilization, rather than from the disruption of revolution.


The left destroys its future by breaking with the past in search of the future. Like a fish out of the water or a tree with no roots, it perishes and becomes a meal for passing predators. It conceives of futures that have no link with the past and ruthlessly strives to implement them over piles of corpses. It fails to understand that the past is neither good or bad, but a mix of the two that has been tested and refined by struggle and conflict. The future will have both good and bad in it as well, but the more it breaks with the past, the more it will be untested and unrefined.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Birmingham News Drops the Ball on Black-on-White Crime

A couple of days ago I reported on the stabbing of white truck driver Nick Stokes by members of a black motorcycle gang called the Outcasts of Alabama. It’s not merely a scary story but also an unusual one, mostly because of the behavior of law enforcement. The Adamsville, AL police department not only failed to question or detain any of the gangsters, but, outrageously, also told Stokes that they “don’t mess” with the Outcasts.

What isn’t at all unusual about the story is the mainstream media’s reluctance to cover a case of black-on-white crime. In particular, I cited the Birmingham News (BN), whose crime-beat reporter, Carol Robinson, had brusquely dismissed the incident as not newsworthy. She now has finally treated it — no doubt as a result of pressure — but in a manner so incomplete that it reflects a grudging attitude. More on that in a moment.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Cave Bacteria Finding Suggests Ancient Origins of Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

Our pill-popping culture and over-zealous livestock farmers typically take the blame for the widespread resistance of many harmful strains of bacteria to entire classes of antibiotics. And the Food and Drug Administration took a bold move today with a new voluntary plan to help curtail the over-use of antibiotics in agriculture.

But the capacity to fend off antibiotics might actually be lodged deep in bacteria’s evolutionary history. A new study has uncovered dozens of species of bacteria in a 4 million-year-old cave that harbor resistance to both natural and synthetic antibiotics.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Flying Yogics’ Explains Hopping Mad OWS

Some folk are mystified by a video showing Occupy Wall Street (OWS) activists prepping for May Day Protest events by hopping their way “bunny style” to the call of their leaders for a kumbia group hug.

“Yes, those people are hopping to the circle where they execute the group hug. (And nowhere is the strange hopping explained).” (The Blaze, April 11, 2011).

OWS activists hopping to their group hug triggered by a leader shouting “Love is the answer” are not making like the Easter bunny. They are in their own minds (believe it or not) getting ready for the next battle against capitalism by practicing—”flying yogics”.

It should be no surprise to Glenn Beck, who was the first to report on the inauguration of Yoga at the first OWS protest, that The OWS hop seen on the video clip is a form of yogic flying.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Former Astronauts & Employees to NASA: Stay Away From Global Warming

A group of former NASA employees, including astronauts, has called on the agency to stop making “unproven and unsubstantiated remarks” regarding global climate change — specifically that human activities are driving global warming. “We believe the claims by NASA and (Goddard Institute for Space Studies), that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated,” write the 49 signatories in a letter to NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Governments Everywhere Having Deep Money Problems

It was 13 months ago we disclosed that the administration passed a stimulus bill known as the $17.5 billion “Hiring Incentives Act” to restore employment. It required that foreign banks not only withhold 30% of all outgoing capital flows, and disclosure of the full details of transactions of non-exempt holders to the Internal Revenue Service. They want the structure of how money ended up at that bank. In addition banks, particularly in Switzerland are required to close the account. That is equivalent to capital controls, so in future it will be easy to put currency controls of all funds entering or leaving the US.

Now we have a new gem on our hands, Senate Bill 1813, which was presented by California Senator Barbara Boxer. The bill has been passed in the Senate 74-23 under the “Moving ahead for progress legislation in the 21st Century Act.”

Section 4034 of the legislation states that any individual who owes more than $50,000 to the IRS will have their passport confiscated, revoked, or put on special terms and they will be denied exit or entry, out or into the US. The bill is loosely written, so as usual the interpretation is left up to bureaucrats in Washington. Hopefully this inclusion will be struck down in the House. Inasmuch almost all our Congress is bought and paid for — you will have to lobby very hard to eliminate it from the bill. This is not about tax evasion; it is about people control and their assets. E-mail, fax, write and call all House members to stop another nail being put in our coffin.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Mike Tyson: Kill George Zimmerman

Former boxer Mike Tyson has weighed in on George Zimmerman. He says it’s a shame he has not been murdered.

In an interview with Yahoo News, the former heavyweight champ said:


Tyson admits he wasn’t there, so he is not certain what happened — including the possibility Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense — but says Zimmerman needs to be shot anyway.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama’s “Fairness” Equals Socialism

On the tenth of April, 2012, at the Florida Atlantic University, President Obama stated: “This is not some socialist dream … “ I would beg to disagree. That is exactly what it is. And it is HIS dream, not mine, and it is not a dream the majority of Americans share.

It doesn’t take a college degree in politics and/or government to know socialism when you see it, especially for my generation. We grew up fighting it. I mean, we literally took up arms against socialism.

Today in America, socialism has a death grip on the Oval Office of the President of the United States. Far from fighting socialism, as a President of a free country ought to do, Obama has embraced it and is now proselytizing for socialism. He sounds more like a missionary sent from the old Soviet Union to bring America the gospel of socialism than he does the president of a capitalist, democratic country. Sad to say, Obama resembles Hugo Chavez more every day.

President Obama, who has been calling for tax increases on the wealthy in America to “spread the wealth around,” is vehemently denying that his tax increases on the rich are an attempt to “redistribute wealth.”

Let me state this as clearly and concisely as I can: The President of the United States is telling us a lie. And it is a malicious lie, because he KNOWS he is lying!

Redistribution of a nation’s wealth IS socialism, period.


However, we make a mistake by thinking that Obama is talking to us. He is not. He is talking to his base, the voters who put him in office in 2008. Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, nailed it just a few day ago. Paraphrasing, he said, we have become a people sitting on the couch waiting for the government check to arrive. And THAT is Obama’s base.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The ‘Doomsday Shelter’ Being Built Below Kansas Prairie Where Millionaires Will be Able to Sit Out the Apocalypse in Style

When you buy a house, you end up feeling like you will be paying it off until the world ends. Well, how about one of these luxurious condos, which come with all the mod-cons, as well as a pool, a movie theater and a library — oh, and a guarantee that it will survive Doomsday if and when that fateful day comes. For these luxury flats, deep below the Kansas prairie in the shaft of an abandoned missile silo, are meant to withstand everything from economic collapse and solar flares to terrorist attacks and pandemics.

Naturally, there will be no one around to phone if the guarantee fails — but at that point, the insurance will probably be the least of your worries. So far, four buyers have thrown down a total of about $7million (£4.4m) for havens to flee to when disaster happens or the end is nigh. And developer Larry Hall has options to retro-fit three more Cold War-era silos when this one fills up. Hall said: ‘They worry about events ranging from solar flares, to economic collapse, to pandemics to terrorism to food shortages.’

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Unfortunately Named the Affordable Health Care Choices Act of 2009

According to The Hill, “the Obama administration is quietly diverting roughly $500 million to the IRS to help implement the president’s healthcare law. The money is only part of the IRS’s total implementation spending and it is being provided outside the normal appropriations process. The tax agency is responsible for several key provisions of the new law, including the unpopular individual mandate.” (The Hill, April 9, 2012)


Socialized medical care in Western Europe’s nations fares slightly better. Doctors are still paid a government capped salary, there is rationing of care, long waiting lists for procedures, and gross negligence in hospitals. When patients have sniffles, everyone is treated, no problem. That is when free medical care works best. When more expensive procedures and long-term care become an issue, rationing ensues, depending on the patient’s age.

Dr. March was not aware that Muslims are exempt from the requirements of The Affordable Health Care Choice Act but will be full beneficiaries of free health care paid by the rest of us, a blatant form of dhimmitude.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US Prosecution of Fundamentalist Muslim Seen as Setback for Free Speech

Prosecutors call Tarek Mehanna a dangerous radical, but he says he’s being punished for not turning into an FBI informant

On Thursday in a Boston court, a 29-year-old Muslim student faces being sentenced to life behind bars in a case that civil liberties groups raises profound questions for freedom of speech in America. Tarek Mehanna, a bearded Islamist with fundamentalist beliefs, was convicted last year for conspiring to provide support to terrorists by downloading jihadi videos from the internet and translating Islamist documents that he found online.

Prosecutors portrayed Mehanna as a dedicated radical who tried, and failed, to get terrorist training in Yemen in 2004 and then devoted himself to promoting and spreading the violent views of radical Islam in America. Defence lawyers had insisted that Mehanna’s trip to Yemen was to find a religious school and that his radicalism has been greatly overstated. They say he was a family man, angry at American foreign policy, who considered himself an outspoken Islamic intellectual and saw the west’s treatment of Muslims as wrong.

However, regardless of which version of Mehanna’s beliefs was the truth, civil liberties groups say the Mehanna case is a huge setback to America’s freedom of speech and that he was essentially prosecuted for “thought crimes” that should be constitutionally protected by the First Amendment. “It is thought crime. We should be very concerned about this,” said Steve Downs, a New York state lawyer who works with various groups examining legal cases brought against Muslims in the decade since September 11.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tried to file a brief in support of Mehanna during his prosecution but was refused the opportunity by the presiding judge. The ACLU had argued that Mehanna had consumed information freely available on the web and that his freedom of speech was of paramount importance, even if the material was offensive, anti-American or pro-violence. “This is a big case. Weakening the First Amendment is a slippery slope. Certain federal judges seem to ignore it at will,” said Nancy Murray, a director at the Massachusetts branch of the ACLU.

Some observers believe that radical Muslims get different treatment to other extremist groups. Mehanna was convicted of supporting terrorism despite there being no proven active link between him and any terrorist or terrorist organisation, and his activities appeared to consist of spreading easily available material he found on the internet. There is no evidence he actively plotted to take any terrorist action in the US, but he now faces a possible life sentence in jail.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Washington Post Suggests Bilderberg Group to Pick Romney’s Running Mate

A story in today’s Washington Post written by veteran columnist Al Kamen suggests that the Bilderberg Group may have a decisive role to play in picking Mitt Romney’s running mate, continuing a recent trend in which the secretive cabal has had a direct influence on the U.S. presidential election.


As we have exhaustively documented, despite the fact that the establishment media, many titans of which are Bilderberg members, routinely plays down the weight of the group’s influence on world affairs, in a 2010 radio interview former NATO Secretary-General and Bilderberg member Willy Claes admitted [url] that Bilderberg attendees are mandated to implement decisions that are formulated during the annual conference of power brokers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Local Muslims Honour Pioneers, Supporters

Pioneers of the local Muslim community will be honoured tonight at a dinner organized by the Windsor Islamic Council. Dr. Osman Tarabain, president of the Windsor Islamic Council, said the recognition is long overdue. “We want to honour pioneers in the community like Dr. Gordon Jasey and Dr. Ismail Peer,” said Tarabain. “Both are past presidents of the Windsor Islamic Association and helped in getting the first mosque built in Windsor.” The first mosque was located in downtown Windsor, Tarabain said. He said it was built in the 1950s by Jasey and members of the Lebanese community. As the community grew, Jasey was responsible in 1964 for the development of another mosque at the corner of Dominion and Northwood. “It was later expanded to its current structure in 1972 by Dr. Jasey and Dr. Peer,” Tarabain said.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Belfast Embraces ‘Unsinkable’ Titanic Heritage

A century after the Titanic sank, the Northern Irish city of Belfast, where the liner was built, is finally coming to terms with the disaster and attempting to capitalize on the ship’s unique pulling power.

In May, 1911, 50,000 people gathered on Belfast’s docks to watch as the Titanic was floated from the slipway. Some 3,000 men had worked for nearly three years to build the largest vessel the world had ever seen.

“There was a huge amount of pride. It was seen then as a symbol of ambition, a symbol of confidence, of Belfast as being an industrial might,” said Tim Husbands, chief executive of Titanic Belfast, a new visitor attraction built just 100 yards from where the ship was originally launched.

Less than a year later, the ship was lying at the bottom of the ocean. Four days into its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912. Of the 2,200 passengers on board, 1,500 drowned in the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

“I think it took many decades for the city (of Belfast) to come to terms with that sense of association of grief, that sense of loss, that sense of embarrassment,” Husbands said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Bolkestein Criticises Dutch Journalism as Sentimental

THE HAGUE, 11/04/12 — Dutch journalism is leftwing. Journalists embrace everything that is week and fail to see in capitalism the only workable system, says former conservative (VVD) leader Frits Bolkestein in an opinion article in De Volkskrant.

“Why do the overwhelming majority of journalists vote left?” asked Bolkestein rhetorically. He gave the answer himself: “We are a moralising people and journalists are a reflection of this.” But “moralising means exercising power via the back door. Where freedom reigns, this is impossible.”

The VVD misses out on a good deal of the sympathy of journalists because it, unlike Labour (PvdA) and the Christian democrats (CDA), does not moralise. Except for in economically difficult times like the present, because the VVD is then respected by journalists because impractical idealism then as to give way to real solutions.

“In the big countries around us, the situation is different. There one does find rightwing quality newspapers: the Daily Telegraph in England, the Figaro in France, Die Welt in Germany,” Bolkestein went on.

According to the former VVD leader, who is held in high regard inside and outside his party, CDA and PvdA follow the ethics of intentions. “If the intention is only good, the operation is also good.” The VVD in fact follows the ethics of the consequences. “If these are good, the operation itself is also good.”

The VVD approach is more businesslike and admits less emotions, declares Bolkestein. He considers this necessary because the Netherlands is a small country with a high population and communication density where everyone at every moment talks about the same thing. “Then sentimentality is dominant. We have become a feminine country.”

Capitalism is not popular among journalists, but their opposition to the market is nonsensical, because the alternative is that prices are fixed by bureaucrats. “And what that leads to, we know since the fall of the Wall.”

It is true that capitalism from time to time produces a crisis, like the present one, but this is largely caused by governments, says Bolkestein. “It is certainly true that some — particularly the bankers — have misbehaved. But the government has offered them the room for this. The rules must now be tightened up so that this room is restricted.”

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

Council of Europe Ditches Italian Party Funding System

(AGI) Strasbourg — A Council of Europe reports rejected the Italian party funding system. The document drafted by the Greco Commission, the CoE’s anti-corruption monitoring organization, pinpoints “important” shortfalls, “inefficient” controls and “ineffective” sanctions. The control system is identified as the true “weak point” of the Italian legislation on this matter.

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

Council of Europe to Demand More Pressure on Swiss Tax Cheats

Already involved in tax-disputes with Germany, the US and the EU, Switzerland is also coming under pressure from the Council of Europe. A resolution to be voted on 27 April by its Parliamentary Assembly calls on the Swiss to “exert more pressure” on “tax havens” and bank secrecy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France’s Muslim Allergy: Sarkozy Can Say Goodbye to the Muslim Vote

by Eman El-Shenawi

“France is the worst place in Europe to be a Muslim, because the government is so against us. And if Nicolas Sarkozy is re-elected, it can only get worse.”

Ahead of an upcoming presidential election in France, policymakers are riding a wave of Islam-dominated issues that have unwittingly taken center stage in the country’s public domain. Concerns over Islamic fundamentalism reached a peak in recent weeks when French police launched the latest of a series of raids on suspected Islamic militants, detaining 10 people across the country in predawn arrests. This also came hand-in-hand with news that imams (clerics) were being deported, moderate Muslim preachers were being denied access to the country, and mosques were increasingly being monitored by French authorities. The measures come under the pretext that French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is battling for re-election ahead of the first round of votes on April 22, is brazenly intent on clamping down on dangerous radicals threatening France.

In the spotlight was last month’s Toulouse episode, an al-Qaeda-inspired gunman, Mohammed Merah, who murdered seven people in a nine-day terrorist rampage through the French city. “France will not tolerate ideological indoctrination on its soil,” Sarkozy said in March, as he vowed to jail anyone who viewed jihadist videos online or visited international training camps. But some described Merah’s shooting rampage as “an unexpected gift for Sarkozy” which he “exploited” to increase his chances in the upcoming elections, says Dr. Marwan Kabalan, International Relations and Diplomacy expert at the University of Kalamoon in Syria. And yes indeed, Sarkozy won several percentage points following the range of measures against the Muslim community in France, having previously lagged behind in opinion polls prior to the Toulouse incident, Kabalan adds.

Sarkozy’s opponents have pointed out that amplifying the fear of Islamic fundamentalism has been a very convenient way of appearing as a strong, active president. But in reality, many will argue that French premier practically made his name within the government for drilling the topic of Islamist extremism to the public. Sarkozy became interior minister by taking on the angry young men in the mainly Muslim suburbs of Paris during the 2005 riots, Harriet Alexander of the Telegraph notes, planting his own, individual seed of anti-Islam sentiment into the government. Last September, the president took to banning Muslims from praying in the streets, after photos of Friday prayers spilling out onto the pavements were deemed by far-Right candidate Marine Le Pen as evidence of a supposed Muslim takeover. And in congruent timing, this week marks the first anniversary of a French law banning the wearing of full-face veils in public; a decision by Sarkozy made under the ruse of upholding secular values.

In par with this reasoning, a promise by the president was made early on this year to introduce a law in France to ensure the labeling of all meat killed in accordance with halal Islamic traditions. “It’s frightening at the moment,” Mounia Bassnaoui, a Muslim woman born in France told The Telegraph. “France is the worst place in Europe to be a Muslim, because the government is so against us. And if Nicolas Sarkozy is re-elected, it can only get worse.” Bassnaoui is one of France’s estimated six million Muslims, making the country home to the largest Muslim population in Europe.

Alexander notes that the three elements of immigration, security and Islamic fundamentalism have frequently spoken of in the same breath by Sarkozy, implying a chain of interlinked threats stemming from the Muslim community. “French politicians across the spectrum link Islam and immigration, and the French people end up believing this,” Professor Olivier Roy, a French authority on the link between Islam and politics and an adviser to the French foreign ministry told the newspaper. “But it’s not the case; the wave of North African immigration has slowed to a trickle, and most immigrants now come from China or Eastern Europe,” Roy explained.

Still, for many who support Sarkozy’s efforts to rid the country of the danger from Merah-like figures lingering in the psyche of the average French citizen, the president will continue to be seen as a protector. Last month, before the Toulouse shootings, Sarkozy voiced his intent on keeping moderate voters from defecting to the far-right; encouraging his UMP party to hold a public debate to discuss the compatibility between Islam and France’s secular values. But weeks before the debate has begun, dissent within the UMP over the wisdom of the idea hurt Sarkozy’s credibility, hinting that his leadership of the party is less than ironclad. “If this debate were to be focused only on Islam, if it were to lead to a stigmatization of Muslims, then I would oppose it,” Prime Minister Francois Fillon had said on RTL radio.

Indeed, Muslim groups boycotted the event, accusing the UMP of targeting their faith. “This debate has only one purpose and that is to keep the UMP in the media in the year before the election,” Hassan Ben M’Barek of “Banlieues Respect” group, told Reuters last week. “Clearly, this will feed into Islamophobia,” he added. Despite Islam being France’s second largest religion after Roman Catholicism with some 5-6 million followers, according to government figures, the spotlight on the Muslim community in the country is intensifying and for many Muslims, it is bordering on offensive. “French policymakers must try to acquire better understanding of Islam, religion and culture, in order to win, rather than alienate, their Muslim citizens,” wrote Dr. Kabalan. “More important, perhaps, they must respect the beliefs of the local Muslim community, which is French first and foremost. They may need to check through the constitution of the French Republic, which — among many things — guarantees all citizens the right to choose their religion and practice their faith,” he added.

Whether Sarkozy will win a second term on the back of his anti-Islam drive is tough to tell. Despite his many supporters who have pushed his popularity skywards in the aftermath of the Toulouse shootings, the French premier should be concerned over his electoral losses at the hands of a bulky population of Muslim voters that may be encouraged to vote this year more so than ever.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Hollande Vows to ‘Dominate Finance’

French Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande vowed on Thursday to “dominate finance”, following warnings from the right that a left-wing victory would trigger attacks on the euro.

Hollande is on course to unseat right-wing incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy in the poll to choose the powerful leader of the eurozone’s second economy, which will be conducted over two rounds on April 22nd and May 6th.

With eurozone bond markets on edge over renewed fears that Spain and Italy will struggle to cope with their sovereign debt, Sarkozy has warned that France would be next in the firing line in the event of a Socialist victory.

But Hollande hit back hard, accusing Sarkozy of racking up debt and of allowing France to be bullied by the world of finance into sacrificing growth for austerity, without reaping any benefits for the real economy.

He said he would fight “speculation” and work with France’s EU partners to better regulate markets, rather that surrendering to them, as he alleged Sarkozy has done since his election in 2007.

“What I want is for us to show, France but also Europe, that we have a shared capacity to dominate finance,” Hollande said, on public television.

“I’ve said very clearly what would be my path towards the repair of our public finances. I’ve said that we need more growth, because it is needed, and so I need fear no crisis,” he declared.

“And if the markets are worried — I don’t know if they are, I know that for now they are unfortunately mobilised as regards Italy and Spain — I will tell them here and now that I will leave them no space to act,” he said.

And he dismissed fears his election would trigger a speculative attack on the euro, noting that he has been the opinion poll frontrunner for months and so the markets have had time to get used to the idea of him as president.

“It’s the outgoing president who brought the country to the situation it is in. Public debt has grown by 600 billion euros, we’ve lost our Triple-A credit rating and we have a trade deficit of 70 billion euros,” he said.

“And now he comes to tell us: ‘Watch out, it could be even worse if someone else was in charge’? Well, no it couldn’t.”

Countries borrow money on international bond markets to finance their budget deficits and to rollover their debt. If they lose the confidence of investors, the interest rate to borrow can rise to unsustainable levels, forcing a government in trouble to seek rescue help elsewhere.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Free Koran Distributions Have Germany Concerned

Salafist Muslims have been handing out free Korans across Germany in recent weeks. But the group’s radicalism has many politicians concerned — as does a recent video posted on YouTube that allegedly threatened journalists who wrote critical reports on the religious offensive.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Piraten Leapfrog the Green Party and Rank Third

(AGI) Berlin — The Piraten continue their political ascent, leapfrogging the Green Party, becoming Germany’s third-largest party. A survey conducted by the Forsa Institute for the RTL broadcasting network reveals that the Internet party climbs to 13% in a single go, leapfrogging the Green party, which drops 2 points to 11%. Also the Liberal party is recovering ground and, for the first time in almost a year, regains the 5% threshold enabling it to return to the Bundestag in case of new elections. The Social-Democratic party loses 1 percentage point to 24% along with Linke that slips to 8% (-1%), while Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU grows one point to 36%. The survey also reveals that with an estimated 5%, the Piraten would also make it into the two regional Parliaments of Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westfalia, where elections are scheduled for the 6th and 13th of May respectively. After the success recorded in Berlin and in the Saar region, the party that only counted 70 members up to 6 months ago when it still didn’t have a political agenda could conquer a representation in all four regional Parliaments. The large drop in votes for the Green Party is unanimously attributed to the fact that Angela Merkel, having decided to abandon nuclear power, robbed the environmentalist party of its best asset in 20 years of activity.

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

Germany Monitors Koran Distribution by Salafists

A branch of the German security service is monitoring a campaign by Salafist Muslims to give away 25 million Korans to see if it violates constitutional rules on religious freedom.

Ibrahim Abou Nagie, a Cologne-based preacher, says he wants to save non-Muslims from hell. The interior ministry in North Rhine-Westphalia said the campaign was a form of aggressive proselytising. So far, about 300,000 copies have been given away. Salafists are very conservative Muslims who try to emulate the earliest followers of the Prophet Muhammad.

‘Disturbing the peace’

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which keeps extremist and violent groups under surveillance, has been monitoring Mr Abou Nagie’s organisation. Parties from across the political spectrum united to criticise the Koran giveaway. “Wherever possible, this aggressive action must be stopped,” said Guenter Krings of the governing centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), in an interview with the Rheinische Post newspaper. He admitted that handing out religious material was not in itself objectionable, but said the Salafist radicals were disturbing the religious peace with their behaviour. The centre-left Social Democrats and the Green Party have also expressed their concern.

Salafists have been handing out the German-language copies of Islam’s holy books in the pedestrianised zones of cities, including Cologne. “What is presented as the simple distribution of the Koran is in truth the subtle spreading of the Salafist ideology,” said a spokesman for the state interior ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia. Additional copies are also being distributed in Austria and Switzerland. Last summer, the president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Heinz Fromm, said: “Not all Salafists are terrorists. But almost all the terrorists we know about had contacts with Salafists or are Salafists themselves.” The project has been funded by Muslims buying a copy of the Koran which then funds the production of a second one to be given away. Wealthy donors based in Bahrain have also made contributions.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

German Politicians Attack Salafist Koran Giveaway

A conservative Islamist group plans to hand out tens of millions of copies of the Koran in Germany this weekend. Leading political figures have criticized the move. Regional politicians on Wednesday slammed a reported plan by an Islamist group to give away up to 25 million free copies of the Koran translated into German in the country’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia. Although the act is not illegal, they said such actions were incompatible with German values.

“This aggressive project has got to be stopped if possible,” said Guenter Krings, deputy parliamentary leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, the Christian Democrats (CDU). “I have nothing in principle against spreading religious scriptures,” he told the Rheinische Post newspaper. But he added, “The radical group of Salafists are disturbing the religious peace in our country.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iceland’s Volcanoes May Power UK

The energy minister is to visit Iceland in May to discuss connecting the UK to its abundant geothermal energy

The volcanoes of Iceland could soon be pumping low-carbon electricity into the UK under government-backed plans for thousands of miles of high-voltage cables across the ocean floor.

The energy minister, Charles Hendry, is to visit Iceland in May to discuss connecting the UK to its abundant geothermal energy. “We are in active discussions with the Icelandic government and they are very keen,” Hendry told the Guardian. To reach Iceland, which sits over a mid-ocean split in the earth’s crust, the cable would have to be 1,000 to 1,500km long and by far the longest in the world.

Hendry has already met the head of Iceland’s national grid about the plan. The web of sea-floor cables — called interconnectors — planned for the next decade would link the UK to a Europe-wide supergrid, which is backed by the prime minister. The supergrid would combine the wind and wave power of northern Europe with solar projects such as Desertec in southern Europe and north Africa to deliver reliable, clean energy to meet climate change targets and reduce dependence on fossil fuel imports.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Puglia Governor Under Investigation for Abuse of Office

Accusations stem from ‘resentment’ Vendola says

(ANSA) — Bari, April 11 — A key figure in the Italian left-wing opposition, Puglia Governor Nichi Vendola, announced Wednesday that he is under investigation for alleged abuse of office in the appointment of a local chief of surgeons. Vendola said at an emergency press conference that he was “not at all worried” by allegations that he unlawfully appointed Paolo Sardelli chief surgeon at Bari’s San Paolo hospital. Cited in the same probe was Lea Cosentino, the former head of the health board in Bari whom Vendola fired in 2010 after she was placed under house arrest during a graft investigation. Vendola said the current probe is based solely on testimony against him from Cosentino.

“She is accusing me due to her strong resentment,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Tearful Bossi Apologises to Northern League for Children

Former leader says fraud probe is plot against party

(ANSA) — Rome, April 11 — Umberto Bossi has apologised to the Northern League on behalf of his children after resigning as its leader last week when his family was linked to probes into fraudulent use of party money.

Bossi fought back tears as he apologised “in the name of those who bear my name” at a grass-roots party meeting in Bergamo late on Tuesday.

Prosecutors investigating alleged fraud by the populist party’s former treasurer Francesco Belsito suspect party money was misspent on Bossi’s children.

Bossi’s son Renzo resigned his position as councillor in the Lombardy regional assembly on Monday, in a bid to stem some of the disillusionment the scandal has caused among League supporters.

The firebrand former leader, whose speech has been impaired since he suffered a stroke in 2004, also suggested the probes were a “plot” against the party, although a number of people in the crowd jeered when he said this.

Bossi also called on the party to be united in this difficult period.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Supreme Court Sentences Non-Italian Father for Child Abuse

Judge refuses defense’s ethnic-religious argument

(ANSA) — Rome, March 30 — The Italian Supreme Court on Friday upheld a sentence for abuse and aggravated assault by a Moroccan father against his 12-year-old daughter.

Defense lawyers maintained that the father, who allegedly beat his daughter with a broom handle for “corrective” purposes after she could not properly recite the Koran, did so because of “cultural” reasons and should be given a lighter sentence accordingly.

The judge dismissed the defense’s argument, calling the treatment “violent and unjustifiable” whether from Italian nationals or foreigners.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Contracted Works Never Performed in Salerno: 4 Arrested

(AGI) Naples — Institutions in the Salerno area fully paid for contracted works that were never actually performed. Some regard non-existent roads, like the one, the mayor of Pollica, Angelo Vassallo had reported before he was killed in an ambush in September 2010. The Financial Police arrested an officer of the Provincial government, a contractor and two employees of a bank, one of whom is the treasurer of the paying the institution. Goods and money, motorcycles and cars worth over six million were seized in apartments in Salerno and the surrounding areas. All four are accused of criminal conspiracy, embezzlement and falsification of public documents, and the two bank employees also of money laundering.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Defense in Ruby Case Paid Minetti Lawyers

(AGI) Milan — Silvio Berlusconi allegedly paid Nicole Minetti’s lawyers 100,000 euro on June 22nd 2011 after hearings for the Ruby case had started. The news was revealed by reports sent from the Bank of Italy to prosecutors in Milan. The following day, June 23rd 2011, Lombardy’s Regional Councillor, charged with encouraging and supporting the prostitution of minors, also transferred a number of sums to her lawyers, 37440 to Daria Pesce, 24,960 to Piermaria Corso and a further 24,960 to the Gagliani Right legal offices. In a statement Bankitalia emphasizes the “possibility of payments made by third parties (Silvio Berlusconi) to Nicole Minetti’s defense team.” And this is not all. during the period between April 15t 2011 and October 14th of the same year, the former premier sent Minetti 145,000 euro.

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

Sweden: Seven Convicted in Brutal Gang Rape Case

Seven of the eight men charged with the aggravated rape of a woman at a housing facility for asylum seekers in Småland, southeastern Sweden, last year were convicted and sentenced to prison on Wednesday in the Eksjö District Court.

“I was hoping I’d pass out, that it would be over and that someone would enter the room,” said the woman, according to daily Aftonbladet.

The woman, a 29-year-old mother of two, had been having a good time at a party, which was held in early December 2011 in a flat inhabited by asylum seekers and part of a Migration Board (Migrationsverket) housing complex.

However, quite out of the blue, the seven men forced the woman into a bedroom, tore off her clothes, held down on a bed and proceeded to take turns raping her.

“I didn’t understand anything. I thought at first that they were joking. Everyone had been so nice before, and then suddenly it happened,” said the woman, according to Aftonbladet.

The men restrained her by holding her hips, arms and shoulders against the bed, and covered her mouth to prevent her from screaming.

She tried to get free by kicking her legs, thrashing with her body, and banging her head against the wall, but to no avail.

According to the woman, none of the perpetrators tried to stop the others from raping her once they had got started.

“They were clapping their hands and laughing and not one said no at any time,” she said during interrogation, according to the paper.

When the 25-year-old man who had initially brought the woman to the party returned to the flat after a few hours, the woman hoped he would save her, but instead he joined in with the others.

It wasn’t until some of the men had left and others fallen asleep that the woman managed to alert the police herself, after crouching behind a rubbish bin.

All seven men denied the allegations but the court found the body of evidence against them to be convincing. Two of the men admitted having had sex with the woman but claimed that it was consensual.

However, the court found the woman’s version of events to be credible and where she was unable to provide details there was other evidence to support her story.

The forensic investigation unearthed DNA traces both on the woman’s body and in the room where the rape took place.

One of the eight charged men were acquitted of the charges but the remaining seven received long prison sentences.

Four of the men were sentenced to six years in prison, two to six years and six months and another, below 21 years of age when the crime was committed, to 4 years and six months.

Prosecutors labelled the incident as a planned attack. All seven were therefore convicted of aggravated rape as they carried out the attack together.

Six of the convicted men are Afghan citizens and will be deported from Sweden and not allowed back for at least fifteen years after they have served their sentence.

The 29-year-old woman will also receive 300,000 kronor ($44,226) in compensation.

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

Sweden: Several Injured in Malmö Gang Brawl

Several people with connections to Malmö’s underworld were hospitalized late Wednesday night after knife-wielding thugs kicked off a fight in the city. “All the injured are part of an underworld faction,” said Anders Kristersson of the Malmö police to local paper Sydsvenskan.

According to the paper, a woman was brought in to the emergency room after being hit over the head with a blunt object, following an argument with some gang members. The woman is previously known to the police in connection to narcotics crimes and fraud. She reportedly had a grievance against some street gang members from the city and enlisted the help of a male acquaintance to rough them up with a knife.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Mafia and the European Championships: Price Gouging Adds to List of Ukraine’s Troubles

Troubles continue to plague Ukraine ahead of this summer’s European Football Championships, which the country will co-host. Criminal gangs have stormed hotels, some hotel operators have tripled prices and others have cancelled contracts with the tour operators that will bring sports enthusiasts to the country. The greed threatens to keep fans away.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: First-Class Dishonours

by Geoffrey Alderman

A great many people have had their say on the decision of the officers of Leeds University JSoc to withdraw from Brooke Goldstein the invitation previously extended to her to address the society. In all the hullabaloo that has surrounded this incident, some basic facts seem to have been lost sight of. The first is that, in its treatment of Ms Goldstein, Leeds JSoc acted with incredible rudeness. Had the society’s officers considered her suitability as a speaker and come to a decision that she should not be invited, one might have acquiesced in it. One might have questioned the reasoning that lay behind even the politest of refusals but one could, I think, have accepted it on the basis that it is for the society’s elected officers to decide whom they invite. But this isn’t what happened. What happened was that they decided to invite Ms Goldstein. And then, two days before she was due to speak, and after the event had been advertised, the invitation was withdrawn.

The withdrawal of the invitation was not merely discourteous and impolite. It was deliberately discourteous and knowingly impolite. More than that, it amounted to a gross interference with Ms Goldstein’s freedom of expression. I say this because the grounds upon which the invitation was withdrawn related — or so we are told — to matters that must have been well known to or, easily ascertainable by, the Leeds JSoc officers at the time at which the invitation was originally despatched. These grounds are summarised in a Leeds JSoc press release as having to do with Ms Goldstein’s “links with anti-Muslim propagandists”. I don’t propose here to investigate these links, for the simple reason that they are completely irrelevant. Upon Islam, as upon any other subject, Ms Goldstein is entitled to her views and to express such views publicly. They may or may not be “controversial” — or even (to quote Leeds JSoc) “too controversial”. So what? I am sure that Ms Goldstein, an accomplished lawyer, did not need to be reminded that whatever she was minded to say — had she been permitted to say it — had to be within the law of the land.

Mercifully, in this country (as in the USA), it is still within the law of the land to express in public views that may be considered contentious and even divisive. And if one cannot express controversial, contentious and/or divisive views within the portals of a university, where precisely may one express them? It is here that we reach the nub of the matter, which is that, by their actions, those in charge of the affairs of Leeds JSoc have demonstrated that they have not the slightest notion of what a university is for and what principles underpin its functioning.

So let me tell them. A university exists for the pursuit of truth — no matter how unpleasant, offensive or unpalatable. And, in order that it may pursue the truth, a university exists to protect and facilitate the questioning of received wisdom and the expression of opinions with which others may profoundly disagree. These principles are core to the idea and purpose of a university. They are not negotiable. I am told that some members of Leeds JSoc are congratulating themselves on the fact that no less than 14 members, vice-presidents and trustees of the Jewish Leadership Council appended their signatures to a pitiable letter (published in the JC two weeks ago) expressing confidence in the society and thanking its officers “for simply trying to do the best they can”.

Apart from the fact that, by signing this letter, these 14 grandees have demonstrated their utter unwillingness — or, inability — to comprehend the above underlying issues of principle, I must point out that no less than (by my reckoning) 18 trustees, members and vice-presidents of the so-called Jewish Leadership Council did not sign the letter. Out of this sorry affair, that is the only grain of comfort I can offer. As for Leeds JSoc, the very least its members can do — apart, that is, from offering Ms Goldstein an unequivocal public apology — is to dispense with the services of the current office-holders and replace them with persons who have at least a modicum of understanding of the purpose of a university education.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: London University Considers Stopping Sale of ‘Immoral’ Alcohol on Campus Because it Offends Their Muslim Students

A university is considering ending the sale of alcohol on campus due to concerns from Muslim students.

London Metropolitan University could take action because a ‘high percentage’ of its students thought drinking was ‘immoral’, according to its vice chancellor.

Professor Malcolm Gillies raised the prospect of an alcohol-free campus after gauging the changing values from the influx of new students.

He said it would be unwise to ‘cling’ to a ‘nostalgic’ view where the vast majority wanted alcohol to be available and instead take account of diverging views.

He told MailOnline: ‘I was raising the issue of changing values in student populations and the question of how a responsible university responds.

‘London Metropolitan University is a highly diverse university ethnically and in religious terms. ‘

‘Our students come from all over the world and they come with changing balance of values.

Welcome to the Halal Inn: Britain’s first alcohol-free Islamic pub

‘So the issue of how we cater for those values while still remaining true to being a British university is one of the constant issues any responsible university would be considering.

‘We do have a high percentage of Muslim students — we estimate it may be around 20 per cent for our university.

‘And therefore as most Muslims do look on drink as something which isn’t an acceptable part of everyday life, seeing how do we provide an environment that can respect that, while also respecting values of people such as me who do drink, and who believe drink in moderation is acceptable part — in fact sometimes a good part — of a social community.’

Professor Gillies first raised the subject during a speech to the Association of University Administrators’ annual conference in Manchester on 3 April.

London Metropolitan University was founded in 2002 and has around 30,000 students from 190 countries.

He added: ‘Here’s the problem for London. The majority of our students in London primary schools now have a home language other than English — in other words they come from a very diverse ethnic base.

‘As we go through the next 10 or 20 years in London, we are going to find these cultural values and their differences become more and more important in society.’

Professor Gillies said he would work with the student body to move towards having areas on campus where ‘one serves alcohol and others don’t’, but could foresee a time when the university was an alcohol-free zone.

He added: ‘That’s what education’s actually about, modeling diverse behaviours so we create liberal students in a liberal intellectual environment.’

He questioned whether the university should subsidise student bars, although it was not an issue he felt ‘too strongly’ about, adding: ‘This is about how best you use limited resources to cater to the broadest range of students’.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Mehdi Hasan: A Beacon for Islam

The idiotic Mehdi Hasan has just written a lengthy piece in The Guardian demanding that all Londoners vote for Ken Livingstone in the forthcoming mayoral election. After dismissing Livingstone’s tax avoidance in a few words (yeah, he probably shudda paid more tax), Hasan posits that people have to vote for Ken because if they’re not doing so they’re effectively voting for Boris. He dredges up once more Boris’s remarks about African ‘picaninnies’ with ‘water-melon smiles’, as if this contravention was in some way enough, by itself, to stop anyone voting for the current mayor.

Well, yet again, for the record, let me be absolutely clear about what Boris meant when he made those references: he was being rather bitterly ironic. His comments were directed to two UN workers as he was being driven around Africa witnessing their supposed good works, and the chillingly orchestrated support they were being given at every village. It was a clever, and funny comment, on what he later described as the UN’s ‘neo-colonialism’. It was a sharp comment, in other words, from the left. How do I know this? Because I was sitting with him, in the UN van, when he said it. As is so often the case, a liberal thug has twisted and distorted the very meaning of what Johnson had to say.

But then, reading what Hasan has had to say in the past, you can perhaps understand his contempt for the rest of us kufr scum:

‘The kaffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, the rational message of the Quran; they are described in the Quran as, quote, “a people of no intelligence”, Allah describes them as; not of no morality, not as people of no belief -people of “no intelligence” — because they’re incapable of the intellectual effort it requires to shake off those blind prejudices, to shake off those easy assumptions about this world, about the existence of God. In this respect, the Quran describes the atheists as “cattle”, as cattle of those who grow the crops and do not stop and wonder about this world.’

Thanks for that, Mehdi. Ties in nicely with Ken’s wish to make London a beacon for Islam, doesn’t it? Maybe Mehdi himself could be that very beacon.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Popular Vicar Converts to Catholicism… And Takes Half His Flock With Him to Church 500 Yards Away

A vicar led half his congregation in converting to Catholicism after complaining that the Church of England is telling believers in traditional values to ‘sod off’.

Father Donald Minchew was followed by 70 of his flock when he left the Anglican church where he has led services for nearly two decades to join a Catholic church less than 500 yards up the road.

He said the extraordinary leap of faith made him feel like the ‘Prodigal Son’ returning to a church with established beliefs after years of enduring the ‘pick and choose’ attitude of the CofE where congregations are fed on a diet of ‘pap and banality’.

The 63-year-old quit St Michael’s and All Angels parish church in Croydon, south London, to move to neighbouring St Mary’s Church because he opposed many decisions by the General Synod, including the ordination of women priests and bishops.

When he first told his congregation at St Michael’s of his plan during a service there was ‘surprise and astonishment’, he said.

‘They faced a stark choice — to follow me or stay where they were with what was left.

‘I never bullied or pressured anyone to join me. I let them make their own choices.

‘In the end about 70 of the congregation of 120 came with me.

‘They are very brave because they have answered the call of God and done it at great cost, often causing rifts and divisions with family and old friends.

‘The Anglican bishop and Archdeacon of Croydon were extremely understanding and supportive.

‘But from within St Michael’s there were a few false rumours put around to try to keep members of the congregation, including the ludicrous claim that the Catholic church would be ordaining women within a decade.

‘It was a little uncomfortable but I have no regrets.

‘When I was ordained in the Church of England in 1976 there were some things that would never be challenged.

‘But now it just seems that everything has come up for grabs.

‘Those of us who believed in traditional values and opposed the ordination of women and other innovations, who were once an honoured and valued part of the Cof E, are now just being told to ‘sod off’. That’s the bottom line.

‘They all talk of being inclusive and being a broad church when what they really mean is bugger off if you don’t believe in what we believe.

‘Making the move has been like coming home. I feel like the Prodigal Son returning.

‘It is a return to a faith that has fixed values that are not going to change at the next meeting of the General Synod.

‘The Church of England has become like a buffet where you pick and choose which commandments and doctrines you want to follow.

‘We are being fed this pap diet of common worship and banality upon banality rather than the Book of Common Prayer.’

Father Minchew and his followers were received into the full communion at St Mary’s Church last week. Former Anglican bishop Monsignor John Broadhurst received and confirmed the group, who will now form the Croydon Ordinariate.

Father Minchew said 2,000 people attended the mass at St Mary’s on Easter Sunday — more than ten times the congregation he got at his previous church on an Easter Sunday.

He said: ‘In the Catholic Church they take their faith seriously compared to the take it or leave it attitude of the Church of England, where there’s a sense of ‘I don’t fancy it this Sunday.’

The father of four, who is a widower, spent a year deciding on whether to make the move which had serious financial implications for him and his family.

He sacrificed his £11,500-a-year pension — which he was due to start drawing in 18 months — and will have to leave his vicarage home because of his decision.

Parishioner Barry Barnes was one of those who left after 30 years in the congregation at St Michael and All Angels.

He said: ‘We saw where the church was going and decided we could no longer stay in the Church of England.

‘My wife and I decided the Church of England was no longer where we wanted to be and we joined the Ordinariate for a number of reasons.

‘Their attitude towards homosexuality and in light of the possible ordination of women as bishops, neither of us can accept that.’

A spokesman for the Diocese of Southwark, said while they regretted losing Father Minchew and some members of his congregation, ‘we wish them well for their future Christian journey’.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Anti-Terror Hotline Hacked and Conversations Leaked Online

An investigation is under way after hackers targeted Scotland Yard’s anti-terror hotline and leaked conversations between officials on the internet.

An organisation called Teampoison claimed to have carried out the cyber-attack, claiming it was in response to the detention of innocent people on terrorism charges.

The group, which recently claimed responsibility for defacing a Nato website, launched a “phone-bombing” exercise against the anti-terror hotline, making non-stop phone calls for 24 hours.

The activity led to phone-lines at the service being jammed and genuine callers being unable to get through and report potential terror threats.

Hackers then appear to have illegally intercepted an internal call between officials reporting the incident.

The recordings were later posted online in what will be regarded as a major embarrassment of the security services.

In the first recording a voice, which is believed to be generated by a software programme and has an American accent, can be heard speaking to an official at the anti-terror hotline.

The caller claims to be called Robert West and tells the official: “I got some terrorism for you here.”

After explaining that the call was from the group known as Teampoison, he tells the official: “Our philosophy is pretty simple, it’s knowledge is power.”

The call lasts several minutes before an official tells the caller that they are terminating the conversation and passing the details to the FBI.

In the recording between officials, one person can be heard telling another that the hotline received more than 700 phone calls from the group.

He is heard to say: “We have been subjected to a barrage of calls from a group called Teampoison. We have had about 700 calls over the last couple of nights. One of the conversations I had last night was leaked on Youtube.

“Everyone else calling was effectively shut out and could not through at all.”

A statement from the Metropolitan Police Service said: “We are aware of an issue whereby telephone conversations relating to the anti-terror hotline were recorded. Officers are currently looking into the matter and appropriate action will be taken.”

It is the second time in a matter of months that hackers have gained access to private telephone conversations involving Scotland Yard personnel…

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: TV Row Mosque Opens School

A MOSQUE where clerics were secretly filmed preaching hate is opening a fee-paying school for pupils from all faiths. Students will be expected to memorise the Koran and wear traditional Pakistani dress. Arabic will be the “key language” taught at the £3,500-a-year Green Lane Masjid Independent Boys’ School. Its annual intake will be 20 students aged 11-16. But they will follow the GSCE curriculum in subjects such as science and geography. Green Lane Masjid in Small Heath, Birmingham, sparked controversy in 2008 when a Channel 4 documentary showed Islamic scholars peddling hate against homosexuals and non-Muslims. Mosque spokesman Ifaan Raza said: “We will be treating the students as young adults and expose them to a variety of opinions and it is up to them to make up their own minds as to what is right or wrong in the eyes of Islam.” Mr Raza said the school did not operate a Muslim-only policy.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Rise of UKIP is a Nightmare for David Cameron

by Iain Martin

How much damage can Ukip do to the Tories? Some Conservative über-modernisers seem to have concluded that the answer is: “not very much”. Given their record, which involved adherence to a strategy which resulted in a failure to beat Gordon Brown outright, I am tempted to conclude that Conservatives should now be very worried indeed. Professor Tim Bale has said that Tories concerned about Ukip are worrying about a “daft distraction” and should aim only for the centre ground. He says the real threat to Conservative prospects will come from Labour. Well, yes, of course the next election will principally be a fight between the two largest parties. But that is only part of the story: elections have sub-plots that can turn out to have a significant impact.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: U-Turn on Mosque Free Parking Plans

PLANS to give a mosque free car parking spaces in Blackpool have been shelved. And the handling of the situation has been blasted as “chaotic” after Blackpool Council withdrew the offer. There was uproar when it emerged the Noor-a-Madina Mosque, on Waterloo Road — which has been refused planning permission by Blackpool Council — had been conditionally offered eight free car parking passes for the Blackpool South car park. But it has now been revealed senior officers and councillors were unaware of the deal — and the mosque has been stripped of the offer. Deputy leader of the opposition, Coun Tony Williams, now wants a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the offer, and said: “This is totally chaotic — who is running the council? It is a total shambles and a disgrace.” The council has stressed the passes would only have been issued if a planning appeal by the mosque was successful and said the decision was made because other places of worship had been granted similar arrangements in the past.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Croatia: Police Ban International Ultra Rightists’ Gathering

Zagreb, 12 April (AKI) — Croatian police on Thursday banned an international gathering of “ultra-right” political parties, planned for Friday and Saturday in Zagreb, saying it was a threat to public order and could provoke violence.

The gathering was organized by ultra-right Croatian Pure Rights Party (HCSP), but triggered protests by human rights and anti-fascist organizations and center-left government officials.

“We won’t allow the gathering of those who call for violation of constitutional order and snatching a part of Croatian territory,” said prime minister Zoran Milanovic. “Such people can come to Croatia as tourists, but not as political opponents,” he added.

HCSP has invited many European right wing political parties for a conference in Zagreb and an outdoor protest against verdicts by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

The tribunal sentenced a year ago two Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac to 24 and 18 years in jail respectively, for crimes against Serb civilians during military operation “Storm” in August 1995.

Though the list of foreign attendants wasn’t made public, Milanovic said they were united in “international solidarity” by hatred against minorities, Jews and Roma. “I can only say that it won’t be allowed on the Croatian territory,” Milanovic concluded.

HCSP president Josip Miljak told media he would respect the ban, but vowed to sue the “bolshevik” government to the European court for human rights in Strasbourg. The ban was “final defeat of democracy in Croatia”, he said.

The government “still hasn’t banned the arrival of tourists to Zagreb”, Miljak said, vowing his followers and guests would “gather as tourists and make a stroll through Zagreb”.

Croatia will become a member of the European Union next year, but Brussels has warned Zagreb it must improve its human rights record and is carefully scrutinizing its moves.

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

Kosovo’s Demographic Time-Bomb

The Irish Times Dublin

The continent’s youngest state has the highest unemployment rate. With no chances to travel and few opportunities at home, is Kosovo’s burgeoning youth generation ripe for revolt.

Mary Fitzgerald

At all hours of the day, Pristina’s artists, writers and dreamers gather in the snug confines of Dit e Nat, a book-filled cafe whose name means Day and Night in Albanian. Among them is Astrit Ismaili, a 20-year-old conceptual artist recently returned from a six-month residency in New York. “I was lucky. I got an award to go to the US,” he says. “Most people in Kosovo never get the chance to leave, because of the difficulties getting visas. It’s sad that the talent and ambitions of youth here are much bigger than our reality allows.”

Ismaili’s work explores themes of identity and sexuality through the prism of a society still coming to terms with the aftermath of the war that helped birth Kosovo as an independent state. It can be provocative — one project involved Ismaili posing almost nude against the Pristina skyline — and he knows he is pushing boundaries in what remains a largely conservative place. “If you don’t have the opportunity to experience things outside Kosovo, it can be suffocating here.”

Suffocating is also a word used by an unemployed graduate who gives his name as Dren. Nursing a macchiato at a crowded cafe with a view of the iconic bright-yellow Newborn monument — unveiled when Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008 — Dren gestures around him. “Pristina is full of cafes like this . . . packed with young people like me with nothing else to do but drink coffee all day,” he says bitterly. “We have no work, no prospects and no way out. This is no country for young people.”

Kosovo is, however, a country of young people. Its two million inhabitants make up the youngest population in Europe: every second person is under 25. More than half of the ministers in Kosovo’s government are under 40. The country’s president, a former police commander named Atifete Jahjaga, was just 36 when she was elected last year. And, as officials like to stress when discussing the challenges faced by Kosovo, the state, which celebrated its fourth birthday in February, is the second-youngest in the world after South Sudan.

“You cannot find a single case in history where, within three or four years of independence, the major issues of development in a country were addressed,” says Kosovo’s deputy prime minister, Edita Tahiri. “I would say to our young people, give us time.”

But some charge that the government, which paid Saatchi Saatchi about €5 million to come up with a glossy international advertising campaign trumpeting Kosovo’s “Young Europeans”, is not taking the youth bulge seriously enough. Two years ago, the Kosovo Stability Initiative, a Pristina-based think tank, published, in partnership with Unicef, a report that estimated youth unemployment at 73 per cent.

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

North Africa

Egypt: 2 Dead in Clashes Over Toll Raise

On Libyan border, demonstrators against army

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, APRIL 11 — Two people died and four were injured in clashes between inhabitants of a town on the border between Egypt and Libya and army forces. The clashes broke out last night in Salloum after the decision to increase the toll heavy vehicles have to pay to cross the border. According to al Ahram online, the toll was raised from 450 to 600 Egyptian pounds, around 75 euros. One of the two victims, the online newspaper writes, is a 14-year-old boy. His relatives have not given their permission for a burial and have asked for an investigation. The violence started when armed forces started shooting in the air to disperse demonstrators who were blocking the crossing.

According to some Egyptian media, the protesters have set fire to the military intelligence headquarters and have invited people to take initiatives of non-cooperation starting today.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The Devil We Don’t Know, Part 1

The “Arab Spring.” The mainstream media clung to this phrase last year in their giddy haste to promote what they saw as a flowering of freedom-loving, democratic uprisings across the Arab world, for which they were eager to credit President Obama’s famed Cairo speech as partial inspiration. Instead, it unfolded with freedom-hating Islamic fundamentalists seizing political dominance, and the Arab Spring came to look more a Muslim Winter. What went wrong? Bestselling writer and speaker Nonie Darwish is author of the compelling autobiography Now They Call Me Infidel, about growing up in Egypt and her break from Islam, and Cruel and Usual Punishment, an exposé of the stark reality of sharia. Her new book, The Devil We Don’t Know: The Dark Side of Revolutions in the Middle East, explains what really lies behind the Arab Spring movement, and it exposes Islam as the belief system that will inevitably doom those revolutions. This is the first of a two-part interview. Part two will appear tomorrow on FrontPage Magazine.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Israeli Minister Offers to Meet Grass on ‘Neutral’ Territory

Günter Grass has compared Israel’s travel ban on him to the methods of East Germany’s Stasi secret police. But Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai isn’t budging, saying the decision to declare the German author persona non grata was “better late than never.” He also offered to meet Grass in a “neutral” state.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Palestinians Snub Israel Talks Offer

An offer by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resume direct peace talks without preconditions has been rejected by the Palestinians, who insist Israel must halt settlement construction first.

Israel’s latest offer for direct peace talks has been spurned by the Palestinians, who insist Jerusalem first stop building settlements and release prisoners, according to Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also said on Thursday that Abbas is ready for talks only if Israel halts settlement construction and accepts its 1967 boundaries as the basis for negotiations. Otherwise, Nabil Abu Rdeneh said, any negotiations will “waste time.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Palestine in UNESCO — Ending the State of Confusion

Palestine’s continuing membership of UNESCO has become far more tenuous and now faces increased scrutiny following a decision by the Office Of The Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that Palestine is not a State.

Only States can be admitted as members of UNESCO under Clause II Paragraph 2 of UNESCO’s Constitution.

The OTP decision now casts grave doubt on Palestine legally continuing to remain a member of UNESCO.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Qatar: Ad for Qatari Domestic Help Triggers Protests

Insult for emirate’s inhabitants, job too demeaning

(ANSAmed)- DOHA, APRIL 12 — Asking for a citizen of Qatar as domestic help is considered to be an offence and an insult to tradition and the social status women have in the country. This becomes evident from the news reported today by newspapers in Doha about an employment agency that has been heavily criticised for publishing an advertisement for a domestic help, a Qatari citizen. Many citizens have shown their outrage about this initiative, and a candidate for the local elections, Fatima Al Kuwari, has even asked to open an inquiry. Professors, commentators and many other members of civil society have voiced their opinion on the issue in the emirate. “This advertisement is an insult to the dignity of citizens and their social status,” journalist Faisal Al Marzooqi wrote in newspaper Al Arab. “This ad goes against Qatar’s values and traditions. I am certain that no woman in Qatar will respond to this announcement and if someone should do so, we should investigate why and give her all the financial support she needs,” said Abdul Azeez Al Mulla, professor in Qatar.

The citizens of Qatar have no economic problems: they are the wealthiest in the world with a per-head GDP of more than 102,000 USD in 2011. Work seems to be no problem either because of the country’s unemployment rate of just 0.6% in 2011. The government has launched a programme in an attempt to increase the number of Qatari citizens that are hired in the country. Only 20% of Qatar’s population has the country’s passport. The employment agency has offered an apology, admitting that it has made a “mistake”. The agency explained that they were looking for a woman with a residence permit for Qatar, not a Qatari citizen. Still, the press points out, many people are asking for the withdrawal of the agency’s licence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Syria: Lebanese Soldiers Defect, Join Rebels

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, APRIL 11 — Two soldiers from the Lebanese Army have defected and joined the rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The unprecedented news appeared this morning in the Beirut daily As-Safir, which quoted “well informed” sources close to the two soldiers.

The incident occurred on the Lebanese border of Wadi Khaled, where some of the inhabitants have long held both Syrian and Lebanese citizenship. In the Wadi Khaled border posts, some Lebanese soldiers are deployed that actually live over the border.

Two of the latter, according to the Beirut daily, defected on April 1 while on leave and “did not come back” to their divisions. The Lebanese Army has interrogated the family members of the two soldiers and, a few days later, the commanding officer received a text message on his cell phone: “Our greetings from the Syrian city of Qseir”. Qseir is a town of 40,000 inhabitants in the Homs region bordering Wadi Khaled. “I and my fellow soldier have joined the Free Army and we are fighting against the Syrian regime,” was the second part of the message, according to the newspaper.

As-Safir noted that the Lebanese authorities immediately informed their Syrian counterparts of the defection.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria’s Minorities Unite Against Assad

Syria’s minority groups, until now artificially divided, have united against the Assad regime. If wisely managed, this provisional union could lead to a lasting alliance.

Syria is a diverse country. Located on the border between the Arab and Turkish cultures, the country has seen many different population groups settle there over the millennia.

Most have been followers of Islam, a diverse religion that unites them, but at the same time, also divides them. About three-quarters of Syrians are Sunni Muslims, while about one tenth, including the ruling Assad family, belong to the Shiite Alawites. And then there are the religions linked to Islam, which include Druze, Ismailism, Alevi and Twelver Shiitism, which together make up about 7 percent.

Along with the Muslims, there are also the Christians. They, too, are a mixed group: Greek, Roman Catholic and Syrian Orthodox branches, Maronites, Melkites, Armenian Apostolics and members of the Chaldean Catholic Church. They make up about 15 percent of the roughly 21 million Syrians.

Aside from religious differences, there are also the ethnic minorities: Kurds, Turkmen, Circassians and Armenians, among others. In addition, the last few decades have seen roughly 600,000 Palestinian and Iraqi refugees enter the country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey: China Lands 1 Bln USD Wind Power Deal

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, APRIL 12 — By 2023, Turkey is aiming to get 30% of its energy from renewable sources and, in addition to lowering its environmental impact, wants to reduce its dependence on other nations for energy. And so — as Green Chip Stocks website reports — Istanbul’s Agaoglu Group, a construction, tourism, and energy company, is working with China’s Sinovel Wind Group Co. to build a 600-megawatt wind farm. The farm will be worth 1 billion USD and Sinovel will supply, among other things, the turbines and generators. Terms of the deal have not yet been released. Chinese companies like Sinovel are expanding abroad for business, as competition within China is stiff. Just last year Sinovel signed an agreement with Public Power Corp., a Greek company. And as for Turkey, Agaoglu chairman Ali Agaoglu believes that the nation must move forward in clean energy investments at a faster pace in order to reach the 2023 goal of 30%. At the end of last year, Turkey had a total of 1,799 megawatts in wind energy. Agaoglu wants 1,000 megawatts of power in the next three years, and in March the company was dealing with eight investors for a total of 147 megawatts of wind. Agaoglu has licenses for 700 megawatts of wind power that it hopes to set into motion soon.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UAE: Peace Convention Begins Today

DUBAI — The second edition of the Dubai International Peace Convention begins today with the objective of sharing ideas and solutions that help cultivate a peaceful world in which the concepts of equality and moderation urged by the Islamic religion are respected. This event, being held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, envisions that it will enhance religious understanding within an environment characterised by mutual respect. This humanitarian drive will be fuelled by tolerance and benefit all world’s religions, not just Islam.

The convention will host a group of internationally-respected figures who have upheld the Islamic faith through their participation in various lectures, inter-faith dialogues and activities. They are all united under one goal: to encourage pure thought that is not tainted by any fallacies, mistrust or misconceptions of any kind. This is, therefore, an opportunity to spread liberal thoughts and proposals. Among the internationally known names at this conference are Sheikh Abdul Rahman Sudais, Grand Imam of the Grand Mosque; and Sheikh Mashary, guest of honour at the convention. They will lead worshipers in prayer tomorrow. The convention will conclude on April 14.

The other speakers include Dr Zakir Naik, one of the most prominent scholars of Islam and Comparative Religion. He will be joined by great orators like Sheikh Yusuf Estes, Sheikh Abdur Raheem Green, Sheikh Tawfiq Chowdhury, Sheikh Mohammad Sharif, Sheikh Abdul Bari Yahya, Sheikh Hussein Yee, and acclaimed lawyer Mayan Kutty Mather, as well as other leading humanitarians and thinkers.


[JP note: A bizarre phantasmagoria of the mad, the bad and the ugly. The convention will undoubtedly conclude that only a Pax Islamica can save the world from itself.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UAE: Iranian President’s Visit to Island Raises Tension

‘Flagrant violation of sovereignty, shows Tehran’s falsity’

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has spoken out harshly against the surprise visit by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday to the Abu Musa island, raising the level of the already tense relations between the Islamic republic of Iran and its Arab neighbours amid the tug-of-war between Tehran and the international community over Iran’s disputed nuclear ambitions. “This was a flagrant violation of UAE sovereignty and its territories,” said UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed in a statement released by the press agency WAM, calling it an act “of provocation”. Along with two other small islands (Greater and Lesser Tunb) Abu Musa is part of a tiny, rocky archipelago measuring just over 24 square kilometres but rich in energy resources and strategically located at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, through which about 40% of the world’s oil transits.

Beyond the UAE-Iran dispute, Ahmadinejad’s visit (the first ever by an Iranian head of state to the archipelago) has much larger significance considering Tehran’s repeated threats to seal the Strait of Hormuz in response to harsher international sanctions due to its programme for nuclear energy for non-military uses, which the international community instead believes has military ends.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Leading Muslim Public Figure Killed in Moscow

A leading Muslim public figure has been killed in Moscow, RIA Novosti reported citing a police source. Metin Mekhtiev, 33, the former head of international department of the Islamic Cultural Center of Russia, was found dead early on Tuesday, April 10 near downtown Moscow’s Belorussky train terminal, the source said. “He had stab wounds on the neck and face,” he added. According to preliminary data, Mekhtiev — an Azerbaijani national — was killed as he was was waiting for the arrival of his wife and two-month-old son. Mekhtiev was also active in social work with students and youths from the Caucasus region, the website said. The head of Moscow’s Islamic Cultural Centre, Abdul-Wahid Niyazov, slammed the murder as “brutal, barbaric and medieval.” He also said a gang of five young people, including a young woman, had attacked Mekhtiev. Police have given no details on a possible motive, but bloggers have speculated on a link to far-right nationalists. Russia has seen a dramatic rise in nationalist sentiments since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Racial violence led to the deaths of 21 people of “non-Slavic appearance” in 2011, a decline from 42 in 2010, according to the Sova organization, which monitors race-hate attacks in Russia.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Punks Against Putin Face Prison Sentence

Human rights activists are calling for the release of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot. The three feminists are facing up to seven years in prison following a performance against Putin in a Moscow cathedral.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin is not to be messed with. Especially not when a protest against the prime minister and future president happens to take place in one of the country’s most important Russian Orthodox cathedrals.

It’s a lesson that Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samusevich have recently had to learn.

The three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot have been in prison since the beginning of March. They face the possibility of up to seven years jail time — all because of a punk performance against Putin at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow on February 21, 2012. They were later accused of trying to denounce the close ties between Russian politics and the Orthodox Church.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Russians Want Dialogue Between Kremlin and Protestors

Protests in Russia over recent elections have impressed the international community. But will they also have a lasting effect on Russian society? That was just one question a DW-Trend poll has sought to answer.

A vast majority of Russian citizens, or 89 percent, is familiar with the national protests against election fraud and in favor of greater democracy, a DW study for April has found. The Ukrainian polling firm IFAK, which DW hired to carry out the inquiry, had surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 65 from all over Russia.

As to the protest movement itself, it’s being supported by a large segment of the population and not only by a small minority, as the Kremlin had claimed. According to the poll, 32 percent of Russians support the protests, while 44 percent do not. As such, there is no clear majority opinion. About a quarter of the population remains undecided on the issue.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads Across Thailand

MALARIA parasites in west Thailand are becoming resistant to artemisinins — the world’s most effective antimalarial drugs. The march of increasingly drug-resistant malaria across the country has sparked fears that it could reach Africa, where 90 per cent of all malaria deaths occur.

Increasing resistance to artemisinins was first identified in Cambodia in 2006, and is now common along its border with eastern Thailand.

Nicholas White of Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, and colleagues looked for signs of resistance in 3200 patients from clinics on Thailand’s western border. They did so by measuring how long it takes for the number of malaria parasites in a person’s blood to halve. With artemisinin treatment, this should take around 2 hours. In Cambodia, it now takes around 5.5 hours.

On Thailand’s western border, this figure rose from 2.6 hours in 2001 to 3.7 hours in 2010. The percentage of infections that clear very slowly — 6.2 hours or more — soared from 0.6 per cent of all patients in 2001 to 20 per cent in 2010. “If it carries on, we will lose the use of these drugs,” says White.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

India: the Baby Killed Because it Was a Girl

Three-month-old Afreen gives up fight for life after being ‘brutalised by her own father’ for not being born a boy

For about a week, she tried hard to hold on and fight hard. But allegedly brutalised by her father for being born a girl, she stood little chance.

Baby Neha Afreen died after a cardiac arrest in a government hospital in Bangalore on Wednesday morning.

The three-month-old baby was admitted to the Vani Vilas Hospital on Thursday night, April 5, with a severe head injury, dislocated neck and bite and burn marks on her body.

Her father Umar Farooq, a car painter, is accused of inflicting the injuries on her because he wanted a male child.

Though Afreen had showed signs of recovery on Tuesday, her condition deteriorated by evening because of repeated convulsions.

‘She was in semi-comatose state since Tuesday evening. We had put her on life support system. Unfortunately, she could not make it,’ said Dr Some Gowda, medical superintendent of the hospital.

The hospital authorities were awaiting a team of doctors from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences for assistance because the baby had suffered internal head injuries.

But Afreen could no longer fight. She had hurried respiration of 30-40 per minute against the normal 20-25 and also pathycardia, or increased heart rate.

She breathed her last at 11.10 am shortly after a cardiac arrest.

The baby’s mother, 19-year-old Reshma Banu, was inconsolable when the doctors broke the news to her. Afreen was her only child and she had been in a state of shock since Thursday.

Reshma claims that her 37-year-old drunkard husband used to beat her up since Afreen was born.

Last Thursday, he came home drunk in the evening and abused her again for giving birth to a girl.

When Reshma went off to sleep, Farooq is accused of stuffing clothes into Afreen’s mouth to muffle her cries and hitting her with a blunt object.

Reshma, who woke up in the middle of the night, saw the baby suffering convulsions.

She informed her husband, who appeared uninterested. When the baby vomited blood, Farooq fled.

With the help of her neighbours, Reshma hospitalised Afreen. It’s alleged Farooq had assaulted the child twice in the past but Reshma did not complain because she wanted to save the marriage.

Once, he had bitten the baby. On another occasion, Reshma found cigarette burn marks on her forehead and back.

Reshma was initially afraid of approaching the police. The hospital authorities informed the Child Welfare Committee, which prevailed upon her to lodge a complaint against her husband.

Farooq, who went absconding after the alleged assault of his own daughter, was arrested on Sunday and is now in judicial custody till April 21. He will now face murder charges.

The Karnataka state commission for protection of child rights demanded that Afreen’s death be treated as a murder case because the attack on the baby was intentional.

The state human rights commission has sent a notice to Bangalore city police commissioner B. G. Jyothi Prakash Mirji to personally oversee the case and report in two weeks.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson Shantha Sinha demanded speedy action against the father.

Killing of the female foetus and the girl child is rampant in India where even the educated and the rich are known to prefer male child.

According to the 2011 Census report, the sex ratio in India stands at 914 females per 1,000 males.

A Unicef report said sex selective abortion by unethical medical professionals has grown into a Rs 1,000-crore industry.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

India: Hang Baby’s Dad, Say City’s Muslim Leaders

Jumma Masjid Imam wishes the man could be stoned so that ‘he knows the pain of burning a young child with a cigarette’

‘I wish we could stone him to death,” said Imam Abdul Khader Shah of Jumma Masjid, Bangalore’s oldest mosque, of the man who brutally killed his three-month-old daughter for not being a boy. When news of Baby Afreen’s death broke out on Wednesday, so great was the anger in the city that even the Imam could not stop his emotional reaction when speaking to Bangalore Mirror. Mincing no words about Umar Farooq, the religious leader said, “He is what we call a zaalim, the most cruel of them all, to kill an innocent child. According to Sharia Law, death by stoning (sansar) is permitted only for adulterers. But I wish we were allowed to stone him to death. He should know the pain of burning a young child with a cigarette when a stone hits him. As the Sharia Law stands, he can be whipped. And this should be carried out so that nobody dares to hurt a child again. Children are God’s gift and we have to accept them irrespective of gender. This man not only killed a child, but also ruined the lives of two women. How long can we stay silent and watch women being treated this way,” the Imam asked.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: Muslim Militants Attack Christians, Several Injured

CALCUTTA, INDIA (BosNewsLife) — Christians in India’s eastern West Bengal state were recovering of their injuries Thursday, April 12, after Muslim militants broke up a prayer meeting and beat up believers, including women, local police and Christians said. The March 30 attack in the village of Nutangram in Murshidabad district involved “about 100 Muslim radicals” led by Muslim leader Mohammed Aanu Shaike, local Christians explained.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Indian Court Sentences Gujarat Rioters to Life

A court in India has sentenced 18 people to life imprisonment for the murder of Muslims in religious riots in Gujarat state 10 years ago. Five others were given seven years and another 23 were acquitted earlier. The group were found guilty of burning 23 Muslims to death in a house where they had taken shelter from rioting mobs in the village of Ode.

More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died when riots erupted after a train fire killed 60 Hindu pilgrims in 2002. It was one of India’s worst outbreaks of religious violence in recent years. Muslims were blamed for starting the train fire, and Hindu mobs eager for revenge went on the rampage through Muslim neighbourhoods in towns and villages across Gujarat in three days of violence following the incident. A lawyer for the convicted said they would appeal in a higher court.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: British PM Warns of Islamic Extremism on Asian Trip

The Prime Minister has called for democracy and Islam to work hand in hand against extremism, during a landmark speech in Indonesia. David Cameron said the world’s largest Muslim country is proof that the religion is compatible with democracy. But he warned that Islamic extremists must not be allowed to pervert fledgling democracies and persecute minorities. Delivering the speech, Mr Cameron insisted the shift away from authoritarianism made by the world’s most populous Muslim state was an example to those caught up in the Arab Spring. But he also highlighted the dangers facing new democracies such as Egypt, where Islamic political parties have significant support. “Let me be absolutely clear: I am not talking about Islam. Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people,” he told students at Al Azhar university in Jakarta. “And let me also be clear: extremism is not only found among Muslims. But there is a problem across the globe with Islamist extremism which is a political ideology supported by a minority. And this total rejection of debate and democratic consent means they believe that democracy and Islam are incompatible.” Mr Cameron explained that Britain has suffered from extremism and terror, and that Indonesia has become a model country in fighting the problem.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Muslims ‘Must Embrace Democracy’ Says David Cameron

Muslims must embrace democracy and respect the rights of Christians around the world, David Cameron will say.

Speaking in Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic country, the Prime Minister will urge young Muslims to abandon “the dead-end choice of dictatorship and extremism” by forcing their countries to hold elections. He will claim it would be “the greatest defeat that Al Qaeda could ever suffer,” if more rebel and follow the lead of the young Muslims who sparked the Arab Spring. Mr Cameron will express his concern for the rights of millions of Christians, especially in Egypt, where the Coptic minority say they are facing increasing persecution. In a strong rebuke to Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood party, Mr Cameron will demand it does not “deny the rights of religious minorities who do not share their specific religious views”. Egypt’s Coptic community, which accounts for 10 per cent of the country’s 80 million population, has been subjected to a continuous campaign of sectarian attacks since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak last February. Thirteen were killed last May and another 10 two months before in attacks by suspected Islamists.

Addressing students at Al Azhar University, Mr Cameron will use Indonesia as an example of how Islam and democracy can go hand in hand. The country became a democracy in 1998 after years of a military dictatorship. It has successfully fought extremism since a bomb in Bali killed more than 200 in 2002. While praising Indonesia’s efforts to modernise, he will argue that there are still four big “opponents who threaten our shared interests” — authoritarian leaders, corrupt elites, extremists and tribalists. He will say democracy has the ability to defeat these “dangerous foes”, such as the murderous authoritarian regime in Syria, even though they will “do everything in their power to defeat us”.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Modi’s Clearance in the Gujarat Riots Case Angers Indian Muslims

A special panel of the Indian Supreme Court probing the deadly 2002 Gujarat riots says there is no evidence that Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi had a role in the massacre.

Zakia Jafri, wife of the slain Indian minister Ehsaan Jafri, who was killed in the western Indian state of Gujarat over a decade ago, said she was shocked when the Metropolitan Magistrate M.S. Bhatt read out the findings of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) report on the Gujarat bloodbath. The report gave Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi a clean chit, saying there was no evidence to implicate Modi and 61 others accused of playing a role in the riots.

On 27 February, 2002, a Muslim mob allegedly set fire to the Sabarmati Express train. The train had been carrying Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya, where 10 years before Hindu nationalists had destroyed the centuries-old Babri Mosque. Then the whole state went up in flames as Hindu extremists allegedly took their revenge on Muslims, killing some 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, in retaliatory attacks. The killing only died down several days later when the army was called in.

Right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) leader Narendra Modi, who was also chief minister of Gujarat at the time, was accused of ordering the police not to intervene.

“I am heartbroken, but I am not going to give up. I will fight for justice as long as I am alive. In the court of the Lord, justice can be delayed but cannot be denied,” Zakia told DW.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Court Shows Displeasure Over Police Official

Islamabad, 12 April (AKI/Dawn) — While hearing a case related to the law and order situation in Balochistan, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry showed his displeasure over the absence of senior police official in the Supreme Court.

A three-member bench headed by the chief justice was hearing the case here on Thursday.

Chaudhry had summoned Inspector General (IG) Balochistan and relevant Superintendent Police (SP) in the court earlier today on an immediate notice.

“If the police officials failed to comply with the court’s order, they will be sent to jail,” he had warned.

He censured the law enforcement agencies for their incompetency in maintaining peace in the province and remarked that the courts are being kept uninformed about the factual details.

“Balochistan is on fire but the officials are mere spectators to it,” Chaudhry remarked.

While talking about the issue of ministers involved in kidnapping for ransom, the chief justice said if Balochistan Home Minister is falsely accusing some ministers for kidnapping cases then the home minister should be arrested.

Seven people have been killed since we came from Quetta,” he observed.

In another relevant development, three people who had been recovered from Kuchlak area were presented before the court.

They narrated their ordeal before the bench and said: “We were abducted from Quetta at night; we were blindfolded and then kept at some unknown location for about 40 days.”

The court issued release orders for the three recovered people and directed the police to safely escort them to their homes.

The court also ordered the police to inform the court before arresting them in future.

The court later summoned Inspector General (IG) Balochistan and relevant Superintendent Police (SP) and a Station House Officer tomorrow.

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

Policy: Bold Strategies for Indian Science

For a nation of its talent and education, India deserves higher scientific standing. It needs clear and honest leadership, not more money, says Gautam R. Desiraju.

When an Indian prime minister publicly admits that India has fallen behind China, it is news. Manmohan Singh’s statement last January at the Indian Science Congress in Bhubaneswar that this is so with respect to scientific research, and that “India’s relative position in the world of science has been declining”, has rung alarm bells. Singh was not springing anything new on Indian scientists; many of us will admit that things are not well. Recognizing the problem is the first step towards reversing this slide.

At present, India has a trickle-down strategy, in which elite institutions are supported in the hope that good science there will energize the masses, and a bottom-up approach, in which the general public is targeted with schemes to popularize science.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

China’s Stem-Cell Rules Go Unheeded

Health ministry’s attempt at regulation has had little effect.

Three months after the Chinese health ministry ramped up its efforts to enforce a ban on the clinical use of unapproved stem-cell treatments, a Nature investigation reveals that businesses around the country are still charging patients thousands of dollars for these unproven therapies.

The clinics operate openly, with websites promoting the treatments for serious disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and autism, and attract thousands of medical tourists from overseas. They advertise case studies of individual patients who they say have benefited from the treatments, and some have clinics in major hospital complexes, giving them an air of mainstream acceptance. Stem-cell experts contacted by Nature insist that such therapies are not ready for the clinic and say that some may even endanger patients’ health. But the Chinese government is struggling to enforce its ban.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Sony Chief Reboots Business Strategy, Cuts Jobs and Costs

Change has become the buzzword at the Japanese electronics giant, after its new CEO Kazuo Hirai announced a major restructuring drive aimed at staunching massive losses. Layoffs are part of Sony’s survival strategy. Japan’s electronics maker Sony would cut about 10,000 jobs and shed lossmaking businesses to regain profitability, Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai announced Thursday.

After taking over as Sony CEO from Howard Stringer this month, Hirai said he was prepared to take “painful steps,” aimed at cutting fixed costs in the company’s ailing TV business by 60 percent over the business year starting in March 2013. In addition, operating costs are to be reduced by 30 percent under the restructuring program, costing Sony about $926 million (712 million euros) in the current fiscal year, he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Korea Launches Long-Range Rocket: Reports

North Korea has launched its controversial rocket carrying a weather satellite, South Korea’s Defence Ministry and US officials said.

A spokesman for the Defence Ministry in Seoul told reporters at a briefing that the launch at taken place from North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station at 7.39am local time and that South Korea and the United States were checking whether it had been a success.

The launch has drawn international criticism and threats to shoot the rocket down as well as sabotaged a food aid deal with the United States.

The Unha-3 rocket took off from a new launch site on the west coast of North Korea, near the Chinese border, and if successful will enhance Pyongyang’s ability to build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, critics say.

The three-stage rocket’s flight path will take it over the sea between the Korean peninsula and China, where the first stage is due to splash down. A second stage is due to land in waters off the Philippines.

The launch had been timed to coincide with the 100th birthday celebrations of the isolated and impoverished state’s founder, Kim Il-sung, and came after a food aid deal with the United States had hinted at an easing of tensions on the world’s most militarised border.

North Korea’s government has said the action was part of celebrations and was not a long-range missile test. South Korean President Lee Myung Bak called an emergency Cabinet meeting in response

[Return to headlines]

North Korean Rocket Launch Fails

A North Korean rocket broke apart shortly after being launched from its base today, according to U.S., Japanese and South Korean officials.

Japan’s defense ministry said the rocket flew for just over a minute.

A South Korean defense ministry spokesman said, “The missile separated into several pieces and fell.”

The ministry said the rocket traveled about 70 miles into the air, then split into four pieces and fell. Major parts fell into the North Korean side of the sea and debris fell into the Gunsan Sea off the southwest coast of South Korea.

There were no immediate reports of debris falling onto land.

U.S. officials told The Times that the rocket did not travel as far as a long-range missile tested by North Korea in 2009. The Kwangmyongsong-2 rocket launched in 2009 was said to have traveled about 2,000 miles.

[Return to headlines]

Philippines Withdraws Warship From China Standoff

The Philippines has pulled back its biggest warship from a tense standoff with Chinese vessels. The two countries are trying to avoid an escalation in the conflict over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

Manila withdrew the warship and instead deployed a coast guard vessel to the area, said Philippines Foreign Minister Albert Del Rosario on Thursday, adding that China had sent a ship from Beijing’s fisheries bureau.

“We’re watching developments and at the same time we’re pursuing the diplomatic track,” Del Rosario said. “We’re moving forward but it’s still a work in progress.”

Diplomats were apparently trying to negotiate a pragmatic solution to the standoff that would allow both sides to save face.

The conflict began on Sunday when a Philippine Navy plane spotted eight Chinese fishing boots anchored in a lagoon at the Scarborough Shoal, which lies off the coast of the northwestern tip of the Philippine province.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South China Sea: Common Stance Against Beijing’s Imperialism

Hanoi backs Manila, hoping for a multilateral approach in settling disputes with China. The Chinese Navy has been holding Vietnamese fishermen as hostages for weeks demanding ransom money for their release. Off the coast of the Filipino island of Luzon, the Filipino Navy is confronting Chinese vessels.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) — Hanoi backs Manila, hoping for a multilateral approach to settling conflicts with Beijing in the South China Sea, an area that is at the centre of fierce dispute over resources. This is one of the outcomes of a recent summit in Cambodia by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Mr. Benigno Aquino, president of the Philippines, suggested that the ten-nation association “maintain a common stance” vis-à-vis China, which favours instead bilateral deals with the various stakeholders. Meanwhile Filipino and Chinese warships remain engaged in a naval confrontation off the island of Luzon, a situation that can only increase tensions in the area.

Vietnam accuses the Chinese of holding 21 Vietnamese fishermen it captured inside Vietnamese territorial waters, demanding a US$ 11,000 ransom for each. Vietnam’s appeal for their release has been ignored.

L?c, a fisherman from Lý Son Island, said that people are very angry with the “cruel Chinese”. He insists that the Paracel Islands belong to Viet Nam.

Lê th? H?u, 31, said her husband Nguy?n L?i, 34, was arrested by China’s Navy. “I am worried for the fishermen,” she added, “because they are often beaten by Chinese naval forces.”

The confrontation over resources in the sea now involves India. In the past week, Beijing warned New Delhi that “India should not explore and exploit [resources] in the South East Asia.”

The statement follows a series of agreements signed by the Indian and Vietnamese governments, which grants Indian oil companies exploration rights in Vietnamese territorial waters. In response, New Delhi informed Beijing that the affected area is under Vietnam’s exclusive jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, a high-profile confrontation between Filipino and Chinese warships continue, involving the Filipino Navy’s flagship vessel.

On Sunday, the ship caught eight Chinese fishing boats in Filipino territorial waters, about 120 nautical miles off the coast of Luzon Island. Two Chinese maritime surveillance ships sailed to the disputed area on Tuesday and blocked efforts by the Filipino ship to arrest the fishermen.

On Wednesday, the Chinese embassy in Manila released a statement afternoon insisting the area belonged to China, and ordering the Filipino warship to leave immediately.

The Philippines says it has sovereign rights over areas of the sea within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, and that its position is supported by international law.

Among Asia-Pacific nations, China has the most extensive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Regional hegemony would be strategically important for Beijing because it would allow it to control the region’s trade and natural resources, such as oil and natural gas.

Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have challenged China’s expansionist aims, backed by the United States.

In the past few months, a number of incidents have occurred involving warships and fishing vessels from different nations.

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

The Mysterious Fall of China’s Bo Xilai

A political scandal has rocked China: Bo Xilai, former party secretary in Chongqing, has lost his position in the Politburo. Before a change of power this fall, the Communist Party is trying to show a united front.

On Tuesday at precisely 11 p.m. Beijing time, a statement from China’s official news agency Xinhua confirmed the rumors that had been circulating online for days: Bo Xilai, who until mid-February had been Communist Party secretary of Chongqing, China’s largest city, had lost his seat in the Politburo and the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party. Bo had been the charismatic hope of the so-called New Left, the son of a famous revolutionary veteran and figurehead of the upper caste of “princelings,”

With the news, Bo’s meteoric political rise came to an abrupt end. His wife, Gu Kailai, is under investigation for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, who was found dead last November in a Chongqing hotel room. According to Xinhua, the two had a business disagreement. The official diagnosis of Heywood’s death was alcohol poisoning, but the body was quickly cremated without an autopsy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

UK: Afghan Refugee Who Said Raping Woman Was Part of ‘Cultural Differences’ Is Jailed for 14 Years

An Afghan man who fled from the Taliban to begin a new life in Australia will spend the next 14 years behind bars after a judge rejected his claim that cultural differences had led to him raping a woman.

Esmatullah Sharifi, 30, was told by Judge Mark Dean in Melbourne that his background as a traumatised Muslim refugee was no excuse for the rape of a drunken and vulnerable teenager.

The judge noted that a psychologist had told the Victoria County Court in Melbourne that Sharifi, who arrived in Australia in 2001, had an ‘unclear concept of what constitutes consent in sexual relationships’.

Rejecting that argument, the judge said Sharifi’s background and flight from the Taliban was not an excuse for violence, telling the Afghan: ‘You well knew the victim was not consenting to the act of sexual penetration you performed.’

It was not the first time that Sharifi had appeared in court on a rape charge — in 2009 he was jailed for a minimum of seven years for the abduction and sexual assault of a woman on Christmas Eve, 2008 — five days after he had raped the teenager.

Already serving seven years imprisonment for that offence, he was now charged with raping the 18-year-old who he had found alone, intoxicated and sitting on the pavement near a nightclub after she had had a disagreement with her friends.

Sharifi, the judge said, had driven from his home that night in December looking for a victim.

He sat down beside the teenager, began talking to her and offered to drive her to a hotel where her friends had moved on to.

But when he drove off in a different direction, the young woman became concerned and texted her friends — until Sharifi took her phone and drove to a dark street.

The teenager cried and asked if he planned to kill her. He replied by putting his hand around her neck and forcing her to remove her clothes before raping her.

‘Your offending is of the utmost seriousness,’ said Judge Dean.

‘You preyed upon a young vulnerable stranger who was alone and intoxicated at night. Your brutal conduct must be denounced by this court.’

Sharifi, who pleaded guilty to rape, will serve a sentence that includes his jailing for the second sexual attack. It was DNA from that second offence that led to him being charged with the earlier rape of the teenager.

With a maximum sentence of 14 years set, he will have to serve a minimum of 11 years and will be eligible for parole in seven years and eight months.

He is likely to be deported back to Afghanistan when he has served his sentence.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


UK: Despair is Sometimes the Only Possible Response

There are times when the only appropriate response to events is despair. Yes, this week the European Court of Human Rights approved the extradition to the US of five terrorist suspects. But it’s mystifying how anyone can take cheer. The idea that as a free country we should have such decisions placed in the hands of foreign judges who make their rulings on the basis of a fundamentally flawed convention is so patently unsatisfactory that I cannot, I’m afraid, bring myself to react with anything other than anger to the whole farce.

This is the same court, of course, which has also ruled that Abu Qatada cannot be deported to Jordan. So when it comes to praise for the ECHR’s judgment over Abu Hamza and his colleagues, I say “thanks but no thanks”.

Indeed, any smidgeon of relief brought on by this week’s ECHR ruling is dwarfed by the immigration court victory of Raed Salah. Or, to be more precise, by the reasoning of the judge responsible for Salah’s win, Mr Justice Ockelton, and the outpouring of bile that followed the decision. Central to Sheikh Salah’s case has been his outright denial that his words in a 2007 sermon about children’s blood being used to bake “holy bread” was a reference to the blood libel. The judge found that Salah’s claims were “wholly unpersuasive”. As the judgment put it “We do not find this comment could be taken to be anything other than a reference to the blood libel against Jews.” And yet in the judge’s reasoning, this mattered not a jot. Salah is a welcome visitor to the country.

Decadent doesn’t even come close to describing a state of affairs in which an Islamic preacher can make reference to the blood libel but the judiciary tells him that such remarks are irrelevant to his fitness to be granted entry. According to the judgment, such views are “not at the heart of the appellant’s message” and “it is not easy to see that any reasonable observer would associate the appellant with them in any general sense”. Clearly in Mr Justice Ockelton’s mind it’s unreasonable to associate a man who preaches a sermon based on the blood libel with, er, the blood libel. Go figure.

In the end, Salah himself is an irrelevance. Rabble rousers like him are ten a penny. The importance of his case is symbolic, because it is of a piece with so much else. When the hate preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi was invited to City Hall by Ken Livingstone, what was his party’s response? To reselect him as its mayoral candidate. When anti-Israel campaigners went on the rampage, destroying the property of a company they claimed has ties to Israel, what was the response of the criminal justice system? Judge Bathurst-Norman did not merely acquit but praised the men. And when Michael Gove earmarked extra funds to protect Jewish children from violent racist attacks, how did a supposedly progressive newspaper — the Guardian — react? By attacking, on entirely fabricated sleaze charges, the role of the Community Security Trust, the organisation responsible for protecting Jews.

As if in an unbroken thread, the CST is under fire again, this time on the back of the Salah appeal judgment, with Mr Justice Ockelton saying that the Home Secretary was misled.

His words have given free rein to a barrage of conspiracists, who are not merely implying but trumpeting the idea that CST — in other words, the Jews — pushed a deceitful agenda to get a perfectly upstanding citizen removed from the UK because he dared to criticise Israel. Yet it wasn’t the CST that pushed the Home Office into anything. It was the Home Office that asked CST for information about Salah. And it was CST who provided the Home Office with the original copy of the disputed 2002 poem in Arabic and English translation. As CST says: “Nobody else provided this information either to the government or to the immigration tribunal, despite the fact that we obtained it all from public sources.” But this is Jews we are talking about, so the default reaction of so many is to push the idea of a conspiracy, whatever the facts.

Despair is, initially at least, an impotent reaction. It doesn’t offer a plan of action. It doesn’t change anything. But until we react appropriately to what is going on around us, we don’t have a chance of changing anything. And I challenge anyone not to despair about the events of this week.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: PM Retreats on Kicking Out Foreign Criminals Including Burglars and Violent Thieves

David Cameron has abandoned a pledge to deport thousands of foreign criminals, including burglars, violent thugs and thieves.

The Tory leader had promised in Opposition to change immigration rules so prisoners from outside the EU were automatically sent home — even those serving short jail terms.

Currently around 7,000 foreign offenders a year escape deportation because they have been handed a sentence of less than 12 months.

But the Government has admitted it is only tightening the rules so that drug dealers serving less than a year are automatically deported.

It means other offenders, including violent thugs and benefit fraudsters, will still not be kicked out. The revelation comes after MPs criticised the UK Border Agency — responsible for processing foreign criminals and illegal immigrants — for not doing enough to kick out ex-prisoners.

Its report showed just 40 per cent of foreign criminals released from prison in a border scandal six years ago have been sent home.

In 2006, 1,013 foreign nationals were let out without being considered for deportation. By November last year, just 397 had been deported and more than 50 had still not been found.

Mr Cameron’s pledge came four years ago after a leaked internal prisons memo showed immigration officials had ‘no interest’ in deporting short sentence prisoners.

In response, a Tory policy document, called Prisons With A Purpose, published in 2007, said: ‘We will accelerate the deportation of foreign national prisoners before the end of their sentences and extend automatic deportation to non-EU prisoners serving less than a year.’

The Lib Dems have also pledged in the past to toughen up the rules.

It is estimated extending deportation to ‘all eligible foreign nationals’ would mean an extra 7,000 would face proceedings every year. In 2010, 5,342 foreign criminals were sent home, compared with 5,530 in 2009.

In a Parliamentary written answer, the Home Office said the 12 months or less policy remains in force.

Immigration Minister Damian Green added that an exception is made if a judge recommends an offender for deportation, or if the criminal has a string of convictions within the past five years.

In addition, drug offenders face automatic deportation for any crime other than possession, even for short sentences.

Tory MP Priti Patel, who asked the question, said: ‘The Government should make every effort to ensure all foreign criminals are deported. They are a huge drain on the criminal justice system.’

Ministers recently toughened rules on sending home European Economic Area nationals.

They are deported if they have served a custodial sentence of 12 months or more for drugs, violence or sex crimes and of two years for all other offences.

Home Secretary Theresa May has expressed her determination to stop foreign criminals using human rights laws to remain in the country.

In 2010 nearly 400 won appeals against deportation using Article 8, the right to a private and family life.

In the past decade, the number of foreign nationals in prison in England and Wales has nearly doubled to 10,866 in last December.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘Those who come to the UK must abide by our laws. We will always seek to deport any foreign criminal sentenced to more than 12 months as quickly as possible.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: The Sheikh, The Minister and the Shambles

by Marcus Dysch

From start to finish Raed Salah’s deportation has been an utter shambles. The latest ruling — this time from the Upper Immigration Tribunal — arguably only deepens the sense that the authorities have lost control of the case. For Mr Ockelton and his colleagues to have ruled that the blood libel was invoked and admitted that Jews would be offended by Sheikh Salah’s comments, but ultimately found in his favour, only adds to the confusion. What is certain is that this result is truly embarrassing for Theresa May, the Home Office and the UK Border Agency. Once upon a time a minister defeated in this way, and after so many catastrophic errors, would have honourably offered the Prime Minister their resignation.

This result is bound to have implications for the government’s Prevent counter-extremism strategy. At the very least, the next time the Home Secretary is asked to bar a similarly controversial figure she is sure to think back to Sheikh Salah. As the legal wrangling and mud-slinging erupted around him, Sheikh Salah quietly sat it out, waiting for his day in court. YouTube videos show him preparing dinner in the garden of the north west London home at which he was effectively under house arrest, seemingly oblivious to the shockwaves his arrival in Britain had caused. His supporters will see the evidence put before the tribunal as proof of their belief that the government is engaged in a seedy conspiracy, and will use it as further fodder for their misplaced attacks on CST. In reality, Sheikh Salah’s distorted victory is simply the inevitable result of a compilation of cock-ups.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Distant Galaxies Confirm Accelerating Growth of Universe, Dark Energy

The pesky reality that the universe’s expansion is accelerating — an observation that prompted astronomers to invoke an unknown entity called dark energy to explain it — has been further confirmed by new measurements.

Scientists have used cosmic magnifying glasses called gravitational lenses to observe super-bright distant galaxies, giving a measure of how quickly the universe is blowing up like a giant balloon. They found, in agreement with previous measurements, that the universe’s expansion is indeed speeding up over time.

The first measurement of this phenomenon, based on exploding stars called supernovae, was made in the 1990s.

“The accelerated cosmic expansion is one of the central problems in modern cosmology,” Masamune Oguri, of the University of Tokyo’s Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, said in a statement. “In 2011 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the discovery of the accelerated expansion of the universe using observations of distant supernovae. A caution is that this method using supernovae is built on several assumptions, and therefore independent checks of the result are important in order to draw any robust conclusion.”

Scientists still don’t have much of an idea why the universe is not only expanding doing so ever-faster. The gravity of all the mass in the universe would be expected to pull everything back inward, so scientists call whatever force is counteracting gravity “dark energy.”

“Our new result using gravitational lensing not only provides additional strong evidence for the accelerated cosmic expansion, but also is useful for accurate measurements of the expansion speed, which is essential for investigating the nature of dark energy,” Oguri said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]