Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120501

Financial Crisis
»Spain: Austerity Measures Do Not Create Jobs, ILO
»You Can’t Buy Your Way to Growth
»“Jessica Mokdad” Conference: At War With Islam by Any Crooked Means
»5 Arrested for Allegedly Trying to Blow Up Ohio Bridge
»Arab American Institute Community Town Hall Shatters Anti-Muslim Narrative
»Big Brother, The Internet, And Your Right of Privacy
»California Meteorite is Rare Rock Laden With Organics
»Christian Group Sues Allegan, Muslims Over Event
»Chris Christie’s Islam Problem
»Delta Air Lines Buys a Refinery, Estimates it Can Cut Fuel Bill by $300 Million a Year
»Fiat-Chrysler Have Best April for Four Years in U.S.
»May Day for Communists or Mayhem Day for OWS
»Memo Reveals the ‘Gutsy’ Bin Laden Call That Wasn’t
»Muslim-Americans: On Road to Americanization
»Muslims Aim to Connect at Mankato Open House
»The Subversive Network Taking Over America
»Week Ahead: Mosque Open House, Shredding Day, Farmers Market, Civil War Days [Brookfield, Wisconsin]
Europe and the EU
»Denmark: Noma Still the Best
»EC Says Italy OK on Chocolate Labels
»EU Chides Italy on Fluorocarbon Regulation
»German Police Arrest 30 Salafists After Clashes
»Italy: Mafia Accountant’s Pen Drive Led to Massive Sweep
»Italy: Government Cleared to Spend Billions on Environment, Roads
»Italy: Plans Revealed for Theme Park to Recreate Glories of Ancient Rome
»Maroni: Lega Nord Mayors to Take Anti-Tax Initiatives in May
»Reusable Space Plane Idea Intrigues Europeans
»UK: ‘Wrong Perception of Islam in UK Big Challenge for Muslims’
»UK: Israeli Expert Barred From NHS-Sponsored Event After Unison Pressure
»UK: King’s Lynn Islamic Centre: Queen’s Arms Plans Approved
»UK: Police Called to Project Change Event in Croydon
»UK: Police to Guard Voting Booths at Tower Hamlets
»UK: Train Racist Faces Jail for Foul-Mouthed Tirade Captured on YouTube
»Weather Service Warns Avalanche Risk Increased
»Workers Take to the Streets of Europe for May Day Rallies
»Donors Pledge 300 Mln Euros for Refugee Homes
North Africa
»Egyptian Race Narrows Down to Two Candidates
»Tunisia: After Price Increase Gov’t Adopts Decree
Israel and the Palestinians
»Grand Mufti’s Jerusalem Trip Re-Engages Palestinian Rights
»Kadima’s Tzipi Livni Resigns From Israel’s Knesset
Middle East
»Iran’s ‘Morality Police’ Tighten Control on Women With the Rising Heat
»Our Double Standards
»Yemen: Al-Qaeda Targets Yemeni Women for Not Wearing Face Veils
»Yemen: Al-Qaida’s Wretched Utopia and the Battle for Hearts and Minds
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Amateur Astronomers Take Stargazing to Kabul
»India: Hindu Nationalist Governments Do Not Protect Christians
»Indian Court Challenges Dead Fishermen Compensation
»On Surprise Visit to Kabul, Obama to Sign Partnership Agreement With Karzai
Far East
»Chinese Islam Expert Offers Insight
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ghana: Muslim Youth Chase MCE
»Ride Along With Tuareg Rebels, As Al Qaeda Undermines West African ‘Spring’
»Uganda: Muslim Faction Give Museveni Last Chance
»79 Migrants, 15 Traffickers Stopped Off Sicily
»Finland.: MTV3: Majority Wants Roma Beggars Deported
»Greece Opens Immigrant Detention Center
»Ireland: Asylum Seeker Can Challenge Deportation Ruling
Culture Wars
»Soros Group: Calling People “Illegal” Is “Hate Crime”
»The Psychology of Racism, Part 1
»Dialogue With Muslims Won’t Quell Islamic Jew Hatred
»Mars Volcanic Glass May be Hotspot for Life

Financial Crisis

Spain: Austerity Measures Do Not Create Jobs, ILO

Measures slow growth and do not reduce deficit, report

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 30 — The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has warned that the austerity measures taken by the previous Spanish socialist government and the current government led by the People’s Party have “had a negative impact on growth and employment on the short run and have not lowered the tax deficit substantially”, which was the goal of these measures.

In its World of Work Report 2012, published today and quoted by the EFE agency, ILO writes that the prospect for employment in Asia and South America is positive, while the organisation is very pessimistic about the European labour market. Europe is responsible for two third of the 2010 rise in unemployment.

In the case of Spain, the organisation rejects the austerity measures as an instrument to boost employment and urges the government to support investments in production by reactivating credit to the real activity and, more importantly, credit to small and medium-size enterprise. Unemployment in Spain has reached 24.4%, the highest level since 1994, according to the most recent survey carried out by the national statistical institute.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

You Can’t Buy Your Way to Growth

Dagens Nyheter Stockholm

European leaders are seeking growth as a way to attenuate the social consequences of austerity measures. But simply giving money to the countries of Southern Europe, which do not have the adequate economic foundations, is a pipe dream, warns a Swedish commentator.

Richard Swartz

If the picture painted by politicians is to be believed, the new aid package which will replace the old aid package will ensure conditions favourable to economic growth in the countries of Southern Europe. Yet this vision of the future resembles the missed opportunities of yesteryear. Does anyone really believe that the European debt crisis is behind us?

Until now, we’ve settled for pushing down hard on the brake and for treating the symptoms of the crisis. Everybody must belt tighten, willingly or unwillingly.

Once again, European leaders did what they do best: stalled for time. They intend to use it to favour economic growth, the only means to get out of the crisis. Growth that can be achieved only if everybody pulls their weight. This congenial and certainly true creed is repeated like a mantra by the major European leaders.

But is it also realistic? One sometimes has the impression that the political class only has a very vague idea of how the economy really works in some countries of Eastern or Southern Europe. There, slogans such as “reforms” or “growth” evoke nothing more than false hopes and pure fantasy.

The dilemma is particularly flagrant in Eastern Europe. When the communist regimes fell, the former economies were scrapped. The factories were closed or they went bankrupt. From one day to the next, or just about, every consumer good was replaced, from toothpaste to margarine including panty-liners, refrigerators, sofas and automobiles.

For consumers in the Eastern countries, this was a true blessing. In the blink of an eye, they went from dearth to abundance. The only problem was the Eastern countries did not have the money to buy all of these Western products. The populations of those countries were thus offered generous loans by the newly established commercial banks, they too of Western origin. The result is that these are now economies that generally produce little and rest only on the precarious perch of indebtedness.

A good part of Southern Europe finds itself in a comparable situation — with shrunken production, insignificant exports, and high debt. In Southern Europe, the introduction of the euro, paradoxically, had effects similar to that of the fall of the Wall. For the first time these countries had access to “real” — and cheap — financial loans, as if the Peloponnese or Estremadura were in the Rhineland or neighbouring on Bavaria.

Such an opportunity undoubtedly comes along only once in a lifetime. For nearly ten years, a deluge of loans flooded into Southern Europe. This money could have been used to build the foundations of self-sustaining economic growth — if investments had been made in infrastructure, in the overhaul of the State, in consolidating entire segments of industry or in education. Instead, it was thrown out the window.

Today, as new aid replaces the old, we are told it will allow the creation of conditions necessary for the expected change in the countries of Southern Europe and for their economic growth. Yet, we have already let this opportunity slip away; it is already behind us. The vision of the future sketched by European leaders resembles yesterday’s lost opportunities.

Humans create more problems than solutions. [The late Swedish Prime Minister] Olof Palme used to say that the resolution of a problem — and thus of politics — is a question of will. For Karl Marx, the solution consists of becoming aware of what is indispensible. So be it. Neither of these two approaches can do any harm.

But it is undoubtedly Bismarck who was the shrewdest by declaring that politics is “the art of the possible” and that, therefore, solutions must be sought in what is concretely achievable…

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


“Jessica Mokdad” Conference: At War With Islam by Any Crooked Means

When Malcolm X uttered the famous words, “by any means necessary,” it was in the midst of the Jim Crow era. He was making it known that Blacks were not going to take the systematic violence and oppression directed against them in a subservient manner. On the other side was Bull Connor, George Wallace, the Ku Klux Klan and organized racism which sought to uphold Jim Crow “by any crooked means.” In the “fine” tradition of the Jim Crow-era racists, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and other leading anti-Muslim activists have declared war on Muslims by any and all crooked means. In doing so they project their own inadequacies and stealth motives onto Muslims and Islam. They create new definitions of theological concepts such as taqiya (dissimulation to protect oneself from violence and coercion), defining it as lying for the advancement of Islam. In fact, it is Spencer and Geller who are lying to aide their own cause and to line their own pocket books. They put on the mask of defenders of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, when it is they who are a part of the leading regressive force in the US undermining and challenging our liberties and freedoms.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

5 Arrested for Allegedly Trying to Blow Up Ohio Bridge

Five people described as anarchists were arrested Monday in a Cleveland-area park for allegedly trying to blow up a bridge, sources tell Fox News.

The public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were inoperable and controlled by an undercover FBI employee, according to sources close to the investigation.

A criminal complaint was filed Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Cleveland. Court documents say three of the suspects are self-proclaimed anarchists who formed a small group and considered a series of plots over several months.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Steven M. Dettelbach, said Tuesday that the defendants “took numerous and repeated acts that demonstrated a commitment to violent, terrorist acts.”

According to the complaint, the suspects initially planned to use smoke grenades to distract law enforcement so that they could topple financial institution signs atop high-rise buildings in Cleveland. However, the plot later called for C-4 explosives contained in two improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, to be placed and remotely detonated, according to authorities.

The final plan allegedly named the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, which crosses from Brecksville to Sagamore Hills, as the designated target. The IED drop location was reportedly under the bridge on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail near the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brecksville Station.

The suspects were identified Tuesday as Brandon Baxter, 20; Anthony Hayne, 35; Joshua Stafford, 23; Connor Stevens, 20; and Douglas Wright, 26, Fox affiliate WJW-TV reported.

Baxter, Hayne and Wright were arrested Monday night by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce, according to the station.

[Return to headlines]

Arab American Institute Community Town Hall Shatters Anti-Muslim Narrative

Yesterday, more than a hundred people gathered at a town hall at the Doubletree Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan to stand in solidarity with the Arab American and American Muslim communities against Islamophobia. The town hall, organized by AAI and local community groups, was held in response to an anti-Muslim conference at the Hyatt in Dearborn, organized by Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and other leading Islamophobes. Islamophobes try to portray themselves as “the real Americans” defending America from the allegedly foreign presence of Muslims, but it was our community town hall that was attended by many elected officials, including Michigan Congressmen John Conyers, Jr. and Hansen Clarke. Elected officials’ presence at our event reiterated the integrality of the American Muslim community in the U.S. and the fringe nature of those who are pushing America to become otherwise.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Big Brother, The Internet, And Your Right of Privacy

H.R. 1981, Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, Internet Privacy, Internet Taxes.

Most Americans assume that they have a right of privacy guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and, while several of the Bill of Rights imply this right, it is not specifically expressed.

However, it is understood. In a Supreme Court case, Meyer v Nebraska, 1923, Justice McReynolds perhaps said it best:

“While this court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty thus guaranteed, the term has received much consideration and some of the included things have been definitely stated. Without doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

So, yes, a right of privacy does exist, but it may not exist for long.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

California Meteorite is Rare Rock Laden With Organics

A meteorite that landed in northern California last week is much more valuable than scientists first thought.

After the meteor was sighted streaking through the sky on 22 April, meteorite hunters found fragments of the rock, identified by the “fusion crust” that forms when it burns in the atmosphere. NASA and the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, also mobilised a search team of about 30 scientists, last weekend, to look for the fragile black rocks.

The meteorite turns out to be a very rare type of rock called CM chondrite, which makes up less than 1 per cent of the meteorites that fall to Earth. Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, says it is not clear whether it is rare because it easily burns up in the atmosphere or there are just fewer of these rocks in space.

The Murchison meteorite, a large CM chondrite that made landfall in Australia in 1969, is now one of the most studied rocks in the world.

Besides being rare, CM chondrites contain a lot of carbon and organic materials such as amino acids. Some believe this type of meteorite may have brought the first building blocks of life to Earth. As CM chondrite is one of the oldest types of rock in the universe, Cooke says that dating the newly discovered fragments will be a priority.

By coincidence, the meteorite fell in the same area that prospectors flocked to more than 150 years ago during California’s gold rush — and it has attracted prospectors of its own. Franck Marchis of the SETI Institute says the public’s response has been overwhelming. More than 1000 people showed up at the crash site, with rocks they’d found, to ask the scientists if they were meteorites. Due to its rarity, Cooke reckons 30 grams of CM chondrite is worth about $6000.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Christian Group Sues Allegan, Muslims Over Event

DETROIT (WTW) — A Christian legal advocacy group has claimed in a federal lawsuit that officials in a western Michigan city violated the rights of a self-proclaimed former terrorist by interrupting him during an event on free speech at a local high school. The civil suit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids by the Thomas More Law Center. Besides Allegan officials, the defendants include leaders of a Muslim civil rights organization that asked the city to cancel the event. According to the suit, a speech given Jan. 28 by Kamal Saleem at Allegan High School was stopped by police acting on a letter opposing Saleem’s visit. The letter was sent several days earlier by Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Chris Christie’s Islam Problem

by Daniel Pipes and Steve Emerson

A Quinnipiac poll in April showed Chris Christie as the most popular potential Republican vice-presidential candidate, thanks to his budget cuts and standing up to government employees’ unions. But the governor of New Jersey has a problem, specifically an Islam problem, that can and should get in the way of his possible ascent to higher office. Time and again he has sided with Islamist forces against those who worry about safeguarding American security and civilization.

Some examples:

2008: When serving as U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Christie embraced and kissed Mohammed Qatanani, imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, and praised him as “a man of great goodwill.” He did this after Qatanani had publicly ranted against Jews and in support of funding Hamas, a U.S. government-designated terror organization, and on the eve of his deportation hearing for not hiding an Israeli conviction for membership in Hamas. In addition, Christie designated a top aide, Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McKenna, to testify as a character witness for Qatanani.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Delta Air Lines Buys a Refinery, Estimates it Can Cut Fuel Bill by $300 Million a Year

Delta Air Lines is buying a refinery in a novel — and some say risky — attempt to slice $300 million a year from its escalating jet fuel bill. The Atlanta airline said Monday that is buying the Trainer, Pennsylvania refinery near Philadelphia for $150 million from Phillips 66, a refining company being spun off from ConocoPhillips. The refinery has struggled to make money, and ConocoPhillips planned to shut it down if it couldn’t find a buyer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Fiat-Chrysler Have Best April for Four Years in U.S.

Fiat sales up record 336%

(ANSA) — Washington, May 1 — Fiat-Chrysler registered their best sales in the United Sates in four years in April, a company statement said.

The Italian-US car giant took 20% of the American market in its 25th straight month of growth.

All marques from Chrysler to Jeep, Dodge and Ram Truck, as well as Fiat, notched sales rises over April 2011.

Fiat’s sales were up a record 336%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

May Day for Communists or Mayhem Day for OWS

May Day is the day set aside as a celebration day for the communists of the world. OWS’s agenda is anchored deeply in socialism and communism so it is only right and proper that they celebrate something/protest this May Day.

This is the day when socialists, communists, labor unions, and that motley pain in the butt, OWS will link arms and demand redistribution of the wealth of the nation’s taxpayers. In other words: “Take from the Makers and give to the Takers.”

Oh, you say, ALL these organizations aren’t socialist and communists! Well, if it walks like a duck, has feathers like a duck, quacks like a duck, has webbed feet like a duck, and carries signs with communist and socialist slogans on them, it takes no stretch of the imagination, at all, to see them for what they really are.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Memo Reveals the ‘Gutsy’ Bin Laden Call That Wasn’t

Killing Bin Laden: Like so many others, the final decision to pull the trigger on the world’s most-wanted man was delegated to an admiral who undoubtedly would have been thrown under the bus had the mission failed.

It’s been almost a year since President Obama’s leadership and foreign policy bona fides were allegedly established by the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. A campaign film narrated by Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks tells of the president’s alleged solitary, agonizing decision.

With apologies to Vice President Biden, maybe President Obama doesn’t carry quite as big a stick as Joe would lead us to believe.

As reported by Big Peace, Time magazine has obtained a memo written by Leon Panetta, then-director of the Central Intelligence Agency and now-Secretary of Defense, that says “operational decision-making and control” was really in the hands of William McRaven, a three-star admiral and former Navy SEAL.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Muslim-Americans: On Road to Americanization

by Turan Kayaoglu

(MENAFN — Arab News) America has come a long way throughout the past decade. Post-9/11, anti-Islamic groups like Stop the Islamization of America, which was designated as hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, have attempted to victimize Muslims or numerous anti-mosque groups have campaigned to deny Muslim religious freedom. Yet America’s legal system has upheld its commitment to religious freedom protected Muslims from these attempts. On their part, Muslim-Americans have resisted Al-Qaeda-like violent extremists’ calls spread through Internet to turn them against their fellow Americans. In this decade, Muslims in America have actually prospered, established religious and civic institutions, and adopted increasingly American lifestyles.

The American media, however, being largely devoid of discussion of mainstream Islam, has missed this trend. According to a study conducted by Pew, while 6 out of 10 stories in the media about religion in 2011 were on Islam, they focused overwhelmingly on either the radicalization or victimization of Muslims. The media has covered stories ranging from debates on these issues by the House Homeland Security Committee’s hearings, to the Lowe’s controversy, which saw a giant home retail store caving in to demands from a fringe Evangelical group to pull its advertisements for TLC channel’s reality series “All-American Muslim.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslims Aim to Connect at Mankato Open House

MANKATO (Minnesota, USA), 8 Jumada Al-Thani/29 April (IINA)-With the smell of sambusa and other tasty food filling every room, local Muslim leaders made it clear Saturday their new Mankato Islamic Center is going to be a place where barriers are brought down, not built. City leaders, educators, bankers, a few police officers and even an FBI agent were among those invited to an open house at the Broad Street building, which is both a mosque and a community center. They removed their shoes at the door, took tours of the building, then gathered in a large room usually used as a prayer room for women.

It didn’t take long, after a few introductions, for the center’s members and the people they had invited there to break into a room full of animated conversations. And that’s what the open house was all about. “Our main focus is this is our culture and this is who we are,” said Akram Osman. “Come join us for our open house.” Osman is a member of the center. He’s also a Minnesota State University student, East High School girls head soccer coach and a home-school liaison for Mankato Area Public Schools. School Superintendent Sheri Allen, East Principal Shane Baier and East Junior High School Principal Rich Dahman were among the invited guests. Many of the center’s members are families with students at the east side schools.

Both the schools and Mankato’s Muslim community, which has a large population of Somali immigrants, are trying to find ways to make it easier for Somali students to be successful in school. That isn’t always easy when there are language and cultural barriers that can be a challenge for both students and their parents. Having some of the city’s top educators take the time to visit with parents and students on their own turf builds confidence, Osman said. Even if they can’t always verbally communicate, Somali parents know school employees are looking out for the best interests of their children.

“Education is a big thing in every family,” Osman said. “That’s the biggest thing every parent wants: The feeling that when your kids are going to school they have people who care about them there.” Abdi Sabrie, one of the center’s leaders, said there will be a variety of uses for the new building. It’s open to anyone who wants to enter, no matter what their religious background. There are rooms in the basement that include a computer lab and education room, which can also be used to serve senior lunches and host other events.

There also are plans to invite more people to future open houses, Sabrie said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The Subversive Network Taking Over America

The time has long passed when we could afford to look the other way on the extent to which subversive influences — communist and jihad-oriented Islamists — have for years been worming their way into the high councils of our government.

So let’s say this again: When the Cold War ended, the enemies of America did not just go away. America is under attack from Communists (with both a large and small “c”) and Jihadists.


Earlier this month, as Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) was asked by a constituent, “What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists?” Congressman West answered that he believed “there are about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party.” When asked to name them, the freshman lawmaker replied, “It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

Combination: Uproar and…silence

Because West used imprecise language with the term “members of the Communist party,” critics took the opportunity to nitpick.


Back to the question: Was Congressman Allen West off base when he called out the Congressional Progressive Caucus? Answer: No.

In the first place, the overwhelming majority of anti-American conspirators long ago stopped short of formal membership in the Communist Party. That doesn’t mean they’ve stopped working day and night to achieve their Hate-America agenda.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Week Ahead: Mosque Open House, Shredding Day, Farmers Market, Civil War Days [Brookfield, Wisconsin]

The busy week ahead also includes the fundraiser Run for the Hills!, a presentation by the city fire chief on a service-swap agreement with New Berlin, and an appearance by Brenden McDaniel of the show ‘Hoarders.’


Mosque information session: The city will hold an open-house style public informational meeting on the Islamic Society of Milwaukee West’s plans to build a mosque. The meeting is open to the public from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Public Safety Building at 2100 N. Calhoun Rd. More on the mosque


[JP note: Brookfield’s motto: Minutes from Milwaukee, Miles from Expected. Islam’s motto might well be Minutes from Mayhem, Miles from Mecca.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Denmark: Noma Still the Best

The Copenhagen restaurant Noma has been voted the best restaurant in the world for the third consecutive year.

Restaurant Magazine, the British publication that has named the world’s fifty best restaurants since 2002, cited Danish chef René Redzepi’s “meticulous attention to detail and innovative approach”. Redzepi — who was named one of the top 100 influential people by Time magazine — developed Noma’s New Nordic Cuisine concept of using only fresh, organic ingredients that can be found in the Nordic region (the name Noma is a contraction of ‘Nordic’ and ‘mad’, the Danish word for food). Noma’s efforts are credited for moving Nordic cuisine to the forefront of world food culture. Michelin created a minor controversy earlier this year when it failed to give Noma a coveted third star.

“We think that food from our region deserves to have a voice in the choir of the worlds other great cuisines,” said Noma co-owner Claus Meyer in his New Nordic Cuisine manifesto.

That was a call that was clearly heeded by Restaurant Magazine, as another Danish restaurant made this year’s top 50. Copenhagen restaurant Geranium took the number 49 spot, another feather in the cap for chef Rasmus Kofoed, who won the prestigious Bocuse d’Or award in 2011.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EC Says Italy OK on Chocolate Labels

Won’t be fined, Commission says

(ANSA) — Luxembourg, April 27 — The European Commission on Friday said Italy was now in line with European Union norms on ‘pure chocolate’ labels and would avoid a fine.

Roger White, spokesman for Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, told ANSA that “Brussels has decided to shelve the infraction procedure, averting a fresh recourse to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as well as pecuniary sanctions”. In 2010 the ECJ condemned Italy for using ‘pure chocolate’ labels on products made solely from cocoa butter.

The court said the labels might mislead consumers.

Italian farmers’ association Coldiretti said the ruling was “contradictory”.

Italy has been fighting for years to preserve a distinction between its chocolate products and those from other European countries which use vegetable oils as well as cocoa butter.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU Chides Italy on Fluorocarbon Regulation

Must limit greenhouse gas or face European Court of Justice

(ANSA) — Brussels, April 26 — Italy must comply with European Union standards on potent greenhouse gases known as fluorocarbons or face trial at the European Court of Justice, the European Commission said Thursday.

The warning came as Italy and Malta were given a two-month deadline to present its plan to formalize training and certification requirements for businesses using the agent. The countries must also notify the EU of the penalties they will put in place for those who break the rules. EU regulations call for firms to use environmentally friendly alternatives or to reduce losses from equipment containing fluorocarbons. Fluorocarbons, which are also referred to as perfluorocarbons or PFCs, are molecules constructed to act as refrigerants in items such as air conditioners, refrigerators and insulation bonding.

Fluorocarbons are often turned to as a substitute to chlorofluorocarbons, which are harmful to the ozone layer. But Fluorocarbons have been found to raise the threat of global warming, in some cases thousands of times more so than CO2 gases.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

German Police Arrest 30 Salafists After Clashes

BERLIN (AP) — German police say 30 protesters of an ultra-conservative Muslim group were arrested after clashing with security officials.

Police spokeswoman Anja Meis said a group of Salafists protesting against a far-right march threw stones and attacked officers separating the two rallies in the western German city of Solingen Tuesday. Three policemen and a passer-by were injured.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy: Mafia Accountant’s Pen Drive Led to Massive Sweep

Belforte convicts better paid than Casalesis, police say

(SEE RELATED) (ANSA) — Naples, April 24 — A police round-up of 44 Camorra mafia suspects near Naples came thanks to accounting records recovered from a computer pen drive, police said Tuesday. Bruno Buttone, the alleged accountant of the Belforte family, had kept a payment ledger on the portable device that police seized in 2007. The ledger showed records of monthly payments for imprisoned clan members, who police say were better paid on average than convicts from the powerful Casalesi clan. Payment amounts varied according to prison terms: Antonio Rondione, sentenced to four years for extortion, was receiving 3,500 euros per month; and Giovanni Musone, serving a life sentence for murder, received monthly payments of 10,000 euros. The ledger also contained records of 350 businesses in the area who had paid a ‘pizzo’, or extortion money. In addition to the arrests, the sweep led to two businessmen being placed under investigation, including Angelo Grillo, the owner of Cesap, a company contracted to clean public offices throughout Italy. Police said investigations had uncovered a “leading role” played by the wives of Belforte clan chiefs jailed under special anti-mafia conditions.

More than 10 million euros of assets were seized in the operation and 250 bank accounts were frozen.

In a peculiar twist, suspect Francesco Ciano died of natural causes in the hospital just before police arrived to arrest him at his home. Ciano was the cousin of clan boss Domenico Belforte. The Belforte family is based in the town of Marcianise near the city of Caserta, 30.5 km (19 miles) north of the Campanian capital.

Police say the Belforte family made a deal with the Casalesi clan to split half of the mafia activity in Marcianise and the surrounding towns of Maddaloni, San Nicola la Strada, San Marco Evangelista, Caserta and nearby smaller towns. Death threats from the Casalesis have forced anti-mafia writer Roberto Saviano, whose expose’ Gomorrah was turned into a prizewinning film, into round-the-clock police protection.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Government Cleared to Spend Billions on Environment, Roads

1.7 billion towards eco-projects in South

(ANSA) — Rome, April 30 — The government got the go-ahead Monday to spend billions in stimulus money, the lion’s share going towards environmental projects in the South, infrastructure improvement in central and northern Italy and fixing schools. “The decision…allocates some 1.7 billion euros to environmental-protection projects in the South and approves 423 million euros for road and port construction in Veneto, Friuli Venezia-Giulia and Marche,” read a statement from CIPE, the country’s interministerial economic-planning committee.

The committee also approved 547 million euros — half of the original request — to fix and repair schools across the country.

Another 90 million euros was also released to modernize the Catania airport in Sicily.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Plans Revealed for Theme Park to Recreate Glories of Ancient Rome

There has been no end of movies and mini series’ that attempt to capture the guts and glory of Ancient Rome. But tourists could get a lot closer than they bargained for if plans go ahead to create what is being dubbed ‘Romaland’. According to The Times, mayor Gianni Alemanno is pushing for investment in a scheme to create a 240-hectare theme park on the edges of the Eternal City.

Visitors will be able to see the forum recreated anew, cheer on gladiator fights in the ‘Colosseum’ and take part in thrilling chariot races. They might also be able to visit recreations of Roman shops and sample the fare of the day, dodging the wagons in the streets. Tourists will also able to enjoy modern-day comforts in one of the five on-site hotels. ‘The idea is to give the visitor a sense of what the ancient life of Rome was. That’s the target,’ the newspaper quoted tourism official Antonio Gazzellone as saying.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Maroni: Lega Nord Mayors to Take Anti-Tax Initiatives in May

(AGI) Como — “By May, we will ask our mayors to take initiatives within the Municipal Council” against the IMU property tax. The announcement was made by Roberto Maroni while speaking in a press conference with the Lega Nord candidate for Mayor of Como, Alberto Mascetti. The member of the Lega Nord Triumvirate explained that, during the meeting of the Federal Council on schedule at 4:30 pm this afternoon in the Lega headquarters, the movement “will pass proposals against the IMU property tax, enabling Mayors and Municipal Councils, which are the fundamental cornerstones of democracy, to take initiatives”. “This will be the Lega’s new battle promoted by our Mayors and I hope that also the mayors belonging to other parties will take part in this sacrosanct war” he affirmed. In this connection, the Lombard Triumvirate defined the opening shown by Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia “a positive surprise”.

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

Reusable Space Plane Idea Intrigues Europeans

A unique space plane concept has the potential to evolve into a vital space science laboratory for European Space Agency microgravity research at the edge of space, has learned.

The new Vinci space plane is detailed in an ESA report obtained exclusively by The report, titled “A Cryogenic Sub-orbital Spacecraft,” says the plane would be a piloted vehicle with the appearance of a business jet and would be propelled by the Vinci rocket engine currently being developed for the upper stage of the European Ariane 5 rocket.

The spacecraft would be reusable, unlike the rockets currently used by the ESA for suborbital experiments. It would also be designed to carry eight people — six passengers and a two-person crew — into suborbital space and back.

According to its mission description, the Vinci space plane would take off horizontally from a runway to carry scientific payloads into suborbital space. The spacecraft would not reach all the way into orbit for complete trips around the Earth but would achieve an altitude above 62 miles (100 kilometers) and experience several minutes of weightlessness, during which the experiments would be carried out. Using cold gas thrusters to orientate itself for re-entry, the Vinci would then return to its takeoff runway, gliding down to land like a normal aircraft.

The proposal is part of a European Space Agency project aimed at supporting new commercial suborbital spaceflight efforts. Funding for new suborbital spaceflight technology projects could be approved in November at the next meeting of the ESA member states’ space ministers. The ministers meet every three years to decide the agency’s funding.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Wrong Perception of Islam in UK Big Challenge for Muslims’

by Azad Farooq

UKIM chief says convincing non-Muslims Islam is religion of peace and harmony

KARACHI: The core challenge that Muslim community is facing at the United Kingdom was the wrong perception of the Islam prevalent among British and other communities,” said United Kingdom Islamic Mission (UKIM) chief Dr Zahid Pervez. Dr Pervez, who was recently on a visit to Pakistan, said this while exclusively talking to Daily Times, at a local hotel. He said, “To combat the issue, we availed all chances to interact other communities on various dialogue forums so as to convince them that the Islam is a religion of peace and harmony, and we got very positive impacts of measures in that direction. He said that Muslim community was playing a vital role in the UK. They were contributing in business, services sector and even armed and law enforcement agencies.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Israeli Expert Barred From NHS-Sponsored Event After Unison Pressure

The participation of an Israeli expert on conflict resolution at an NHS-sponsored event next week in Manchester was cancelled following pressure from local representatives of the UNISON trade union whose members were supposed to participate in the workshop. Moti Cristal, a veteran Israeli advisor and trainer on negotiating skills, was scheduled to present a “master-class” on the The Role of Negotiation in Dealing with Conflict at a seminar on conflict resolution for managers at NHS’ Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust and UNISON officials on May 8. On Friday, Mr Cristal received and email from the company organising the seminar, with which he has worked in the past, telling him that his lecture had been canceled “on the grounds that it is [the union’s] policy and also that of the Trades Union Council to support the Palestinian people.” Kevin Nelson, the regional secretary of UNISON North West Region confirmed that “UNISON’s local representatives at the Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust did request that the decision to invite Mr Moti Cristal to facilitate a Partnership Workshop on 8th May 2012 be reversed.” Explaining the decision, Nelson said, “It was considered that the decision to invite a prominent Israeli negotiator would be unacceptable given UNISON and TUC policy on the Middle East conflict, the irrelevance of the speaker to working relationships within a local NHS Trust and the inappropriateness of funding an international speaker at times of such austerity, when front line staff in the trust are at risk of redundancy.”

Mr Cristal has lectured to groups in Britain before on a number of occasions including a session with the Muslim Council of Great Britain (MCB) and has advised also human-rights organisations and Palestinian groups. In response to the decision to cancel his lecture, he wrote to Chief Executive of the Manchester Mental Trust, Jackie Phillips, saying that “in terms of your future bargaining position with UNISON, I believe that the last minute cancelation is perceived more of an appeasement toward UNISON, rather than a leadership call.

“Values-wise, unlike you, I am confident that the only way to resolve conflicts, let alone the Israeli-Palestinian one, is through effective communication and constructive dialogue, rather than violence or boycotts.” He said that since the decision had been political, he was waiving his cancellation fee. Amir Ofek, the press attaché at the Israeli Embassy in London said that “the cancelation of a private expert simply due to his citizenship or ethnic identity is a racist policy in every way. What is even more shameful is the fact this was supposed to be an NHS-sponsored workshop dealing, ironically, with negotiating and conflict resolution. It seems that those who canceled it are in urgent need of such training.” The NHS did not respond to requests for comments.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: King’s Lynn Islamic Centre: Queen’s Arms Plans Approved

Controversial plans to convert a former pub in west Norfolk into an Islamic community centre have been approved by the council. The West Norfolk Islamic Association (WNIA) will convert the Queen’s Arms, London Road, King’s Lynn, into a centre for prayer, education and events. Assam Gabbair, WNIA chairman, said he was “overwhelmed” and the centre would “build bridges” in the community. More than 700 objections to the plans were posted on the council’s website. Campaigners against the centre claimed it would be “exclusive” and become a target for crime and vandalism. Some comments had to be removed for being racist and offensive. The Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk planning committee approved the application by nine votes to eight. Mr Gabbair said: “We are grateful to all the officers and authorities who recommended approval for this. “In the wider context of the community, it will only help build bridges and any myths and perceptions out there we need to eradicate these. Hopefully we will focus on this.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Called to Project Change Event in Croydon

HELPING to improve the area around the Croydon General Hospital site was Project Change’s first activity day. While the event was overwhelmingly positive, it was soured when the police were called following an argument between members of a nearby mosque and a teacher in charge of some of the young volunteers. Jalil Shaikh, chairman of the Islamic Community Trust in London Road, claimed three youths racial racially abused and threatened to stab him. He told the Advertiser: “I turned up as a peacekeeper. I expected the teacher, as a responsible adult, to defuse diffuse? the situation but she wasn’t interested. She was very rude. This incited the children who were listening. They were jeering and making noises, swearing at me from behind. They threatened to attack me. One said, ‘If you don’t walk away I’m going to stab you’. I felt very threatened so I walked away. Of course I called the police. I felt scared. They had their hands in their pockets like they were about to get something out.” Police officers arrived and searched a number of the volunteers but found no weapons. As Mr Shaikh expressed his concerns to Mr Barwell, he claims the youths racially abused him, referring to him as a ‘man in a dress’.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Police to Guard Voting Booths at Tower Hamlets

48 hours before polls open, council’s Tory leader calls for urgent measures to protect voters

Police officers are to be stationed at every polling station in Tower Hamlets after the Met launched an official investigation into allegations of electoral fraud. Officers will man all 70 polling locations in the borough on Thursday alongside borough enforcement officers to prevent voter intimidation. The measures come as the Met launched an investigation into “unprecedented” evidence of voter fraud in the key London borough less than 48 hours before the mayoral polls open. Police sources today admitted the measures were unusual.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Train Racist Faces Jail for Foul-Mouthed Tirade Captured on YouTube

A DRUNKEN secretary whose racist rant at commuters was posted on YouTube has been warned she faces jail.

Jacqueline Woodhouse, 42, launched into an expletive-laden outburst, telling horrified Tube passengers: “I used to live in England, now I live in the United Nations.”

Prosecutor Claire Campbell said Woodhouse screamed: “I’d like to know if you’re f**king illegals” on the Central line between Mile End and St Paul’s station at around 11pm on January 23.

She also shouted “Pakistani f**king losers”, “This country is a joke” and then threatened to punch an Asian man in the face.

“She questioned Mr Juttla about where he was from and when he said he was British, she said: ‘I used to live in England, now I live in the United Nations’,” Ms Campbell said.

On the YouTube clip played in court she is seen screaming hysterically: “As long as you’re f****** working and not claiming benefits.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Weather Service Warns Avalanche Risk Increased

Late-season snowstorms could cause landslides

(ANSA) — Bormio, April 30 — Rain and snowfall expected at high altitudes in the western Italian Alps have caused an increased risk of landslides, Lombardy’s environmental monitoring agency Arpa said on Monday.

Arpa warned winter sports fans that late season storms throughout Europe have deposited snow as spring temperatures begin to rise and advise caution for those taking part in mountain-bound activities.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Workers Take to the Streets of Europe for May Day Rallies

Workers across Europe and beyond gathered for May Day rallies on the international labor day. Among the issues to be highlighted were concerns about the effect the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis is having on workers.

Trade unions organized demonstrations across Europe and much of the rest of the world on Tuesday to mark the May 1 holiday.

In many countries the unions were expected to use the international workers’ holiday to protest against government austerity programs introduced over the past couple of years in an effort to get to grips with spiralling public debt.

Among the countries expected to see the biggest demonstrations were Greece, Spain and Portugal, all of which have been hit hard by the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis. In the past, May Day protests in Athens in particular have been known to turn violent. The holiday comes less than a week before Greeks are to go to the polls in a general election.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Donors Pledge 300 Mln Euros for Refugee Homes

Sarajevo, 24 April (AKI) — Donors at an international conference held in Sarajevo on Tuesday pledged to provide 300 million euros to solve refugee housing problems in Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia, dating from 1991-1995 Balkan wars that followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

The amount pledged represented about sixty per cent of the money needed to provide housing for 74,000 most endangered refugees in west Balkan countries, who seventeen years after the war still live in collective shelters, organizers said.

The bulk of the money, 230 million euros, was pledged by the European Union, but the United States, which pledged ten million dollars on Tuesday, promised to provide another 200 million euros in the next five years.

The countries of the region should provide 83 million euros, while Italy, Norway, Germany and Switzerland each pledged five million, Denmark one million etc.

Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic told the conference there were 600,000 refugees in Serbia alone and solving their problems was an important step towards “overall reconciliation and end of enmities in the region”. He said Serbia was among five leading countries in the world with prolonged refugee problems.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, called on the international community to lend stronger support in solving refugee problems. “This is a day for celebration,” Guterres said. “Until now there was a lack of political will to close this chapter, but I hope that is now behind us,” he added.

EU commissioner for enlargement Stefan Fuele said the donors’ conference was a “good example of solving other international crises in the world, especially those related to refugee problems”.

“I believe that we will succeed in the next five years to secure the other funds needed,” Fuele said.

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

North Africa

Egyptian Race Narrows Down to Two Candidates

Egypt’s presidential election has entered its official three-week campaign phase, with a survey pointing to a two-way race between veteran Arab diplomat Amr Moussa and Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh.

Egypt’s state-run newspaper al-Ahram published a survey on Monday showing former foreign minister Amr Moussa and moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh clearly ahead of 11 other candidates.

Egypt’s first round of voting is due on May 23-24. It’s likely to be followed by a run-off in June. The poll conducted by the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies put Moussa with 41 percent, comfortably ahead of Abol Fotouh with 27 percent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: After Price Increase Gov’t Adopts Decree

Potato prices under control, sanctions expected

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 30 — The Tunisian government offensive against price hikes in food products — at the basis of most domestic consumption and which over the past few weeks have seen sharp increases held to be (due to product availability and the harvest period) absolutely unjustified. The latest chapter in the war on speculation is a decree issued by the Trade and Crafts Ministry which beginning yesterday set (production, wholesale and retail) sales prices of potatoes. Production prices per kilogram was set at 550 millimes (about 270 euro cents), wholesale prices at 650 millimes (330 euro cents) and retail ones at 750 millimes (375 euro cents). Heavy sanctions are foreseen for those violating the decree, with mixed teams of ministry and police officials keeping watch over the enforcement, who have for quite some time been stepping up checks on retail outlets across the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Grand Mufti’s Jerusalem Trip Re-Engages Palestinian Rights

RAMALLAH (Palestine), 9 Jumada Al-Thani/30 April (IINA)- it has long been a recognised principle among Muslim scholars that the beauty of the Islamic tradition lies in its flexibility and responsiveness, its ability to adapt to new circumstances and situations. This is in accordance with the paramount values of Islam. Centuries of writing and guidance testify to the fundamental notion that the jurist who is the most truthful to the spirit of Sharia is the one who is intimately familiar with, and so remains responsive to, the reality of historical evolution and geographical diversity, as well as the particularities of people’s situations, customs and expectations.

It is in light of this well-established principle that we feel it is now time that the Muslim umma take seriously the need to revisit the long-standing boycott on visiting Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation, most prominently the sacred city of Jerusalem. For decades now, the issue of Jerusalem has been one of the most important problems confronting the umma, given both its sanctity to Muslims, as well as its symbolism of an ongoing and illegal occupation, which has imposed severe difficulties on its Arab population — both Muslim and Christian.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Kadima’s Tzipi Livni Resigns From Israel’s Knesset

Tzipi Livni is to step down from the political frontline, she announced today. The former Kadima leader handed in her resignation from the Knesset to Speaker Reuven Rivlin, following speculation in the Israeli media. It is thought that Ms Livni will maintain a central role in Israeli politics, but do so from outside Israel’s parliament. A month ago she was defeated in the Kadima Party primary race by the former defence minister, Shaul Mofaz. She was a star of the party, founded by Ariel Sharon in 2005, in its early years but Mr Mofaz secured nearly two thirds of the vote in the internal leadership election. Her exit from the Knesset comes amid expectation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to call early elections, to take place as soon as this September.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran’s ‘Morality Police’ Tighten Control on Women With the Rising Heat

Some 70,000 female police officers will be on the lookout for women dressed inappropriately on the streets of Iran in the rising summer heat, daily Vatan reported.

Female police officers will be responsible for detecting and warning women who fail to dress in line with the moral code of the Iranian authorities. Officers too will be dressed in black burqas, and will be instructing Iranian women on how to cover themselves the right way. Routine hand checks will also be conducted to prevent any use of nail polish.

The entire police force on dress code duty will be working overtime to cover every street in Iran, daily Vatan reported.

Similar regulations have been applied in previous years as well, under which women could be released from custody upon signing a paper agreeing to dress “properly.” Several incidents of violent confrontations have taken place during patrols, according to media reports, including incidents where officers used force against women who objected to their claims.

A woman can even face a prison sentence for refusing to change her dress following an official warning.

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

Our Double Standards

A preacher published a statement on his website saying “an Afghani teacher was giving a lecture at a police headquarters talking about forgiving when suddenly an American soldier stood up and shot the lecturer, killing him on the spot saying “this is how we practice forgiving in the American way.” The minute the preacher put his news on his website, several of his followers responded and expressed their anger at America.

The preacher did not stop, but he recommended several books that attack America and named America with all bad names in the world. He gave a list of massacres and crimes carried out by America in the whole world, and through modern political history. After one hour, the news agency corrected the news which the preacher wrote on his page, saying that the Afghani teacher was the one who opened fire and shot two American soldiers who were listening to the lecture.

When the preacher received the correction of the news, he did not apologize for what he wrote about the incorrect news but he wrote “the Afghani teacher must have killed the American soldiers for some reason.”

The preacher talked very bad about America when he thought the teacher was the victim, and retrieved from history its worst crimes and described America and the Americans with all evil names.

But when he found that the Afghani teacher the killer, he tried to find an excuse for him.

There is no excuse for killing, whether the victim is American or Afghani, and also there is no reason for double standards which the preacher promoted when he wrote that the killing of the Afghani teacher is an evil thing and the killing of the American has a point of view. The lack of fixed principles for giving judgments in the same case means that there is something wrong in our thinking. Even general defects in dealing with the same case. It is as if he was saying, if the victim is Muslim it is not allowed but if the victim is an American then we take sides with the one who killed him, and forgot the soul which was lost without a real reason. It was possible to take the side of this “criminal” when we knew all the details of the case, but the news came in correctly as the preacher put it on his page and then came back to correct it, neither him nor anyone has the right to comment or say it is right to kill or not kill.

The preacher, whom I respect, is one of the preachers whom I mostly listen to and I know that he is logical. But this strongly made me understand an important matter. The Americans are not the only ones who have double standards, but we as Muslims also have this double standard. Why not, while this preacher gave two different judgments for the same case in less ran an hour?! — Al-Anbaa

           — Hat tip: RR[Return to headlines]

Yemen: Al-Qaeda Targets Yemeni Women for Not Wearing Face Veils

Al-Qaeda militants in southern Yemen have begun to harass women who do not wear the veil with Bikya Masr reporting on one instance of physical abuse as militants forced a woman to don the full face veil in Aden. The group, known as Ansar al-Sharia, believes a woman should follow the example of the Prophet’s wives and be fully covered, including her face. Women in Aden, however, have expressed outrage at the recent form of harassment against them, according to a report on Sunday. “How can they dare attack girls and women who do not wear the veil? It is a personal choice, which should not be imposed on anyone,” school teacher Anessa Abdelaalem was quoted by Bikya Masr as saying. Ansar al-Sharia has also been accused by local authorities of throwing acid on several girls “for refusing to bow to their demands.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Yemen: Al-Qaida’s Wretched Utopia and the Battle for Hearts and Minds

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reports from south Yemen on the jihadis offering free water and electricity alongside sharia law

Driving east out of Aden, we were just a few hundred metres past the last army checkpoint when we saw the black al-Qaida flag. It flew from the top of a concrete building that had been part-demolished by shelling. From here into the interior, all signs of control by the government of Yemen disappeared. This is the region of newly proclaimed jihadi emirates in south Yemen that are run by affiliates of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemeni franchise of the movement founded by Osama bin Laden. AQAP has existed in this ragged, mountainous terrain for years, but in the last 12 months the jihadis have moved down from the high ground to take control of cities in the lowlands. They are in the process of setting up an al-Qaida utopia here, where security is provided by jihadis, justice follows sharia law and even the administration of electricity and water supplies is governed by the emir.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Amateur Astronomers Take Stargazing to Kabul

A campaign is being launched to take astronomy to schools, orphanages and refugee camps throughout Afghanistan.

Amateur astronomers, government officials and science communicators are behind the project, which will dole out star-gazing kits first around Kabul. The Reach for the Stars project will establish the country’s first astronomy curriculum for young children. Drawing on the rich heritage of astronomy under Islam, the campaign hopes to expand to other countries too. “During the so called ‘dark ages’ in Europe, Islamic civilisation championed both astronomy and physics, shaping our modern science,” said Christopher Phillips, who is leading the project. “In more recent times this has been suppressed; it was taught that the skies were the realm of Allah, and astronomical study and investigation were un-Islamic and forbidden. Now we want to help Afghan children regain ownership of their astronomical heritage and take advantage of its educational opportunities.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: Hindu Nationalist Governments Do Not Protect Christians

Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), highlights the problem. More anti-Christian attacks are reported in the states of Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, which are governed by the Hindu nationalist NJP. Anti-conversion laws and lack of justice have created a climate of terror for Christians.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — Governments led by Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) “lack the political will to guarantee security and protection for the Christian minority inside and outside its places of worship,” said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) as he spoke to AsiaNews about two fresh anti-Christian attacks in Chhattisgarh and Karnataka by Sangh Parivar activists.

Last Friday, residents in Badne village (Kanker District, Chhattisgarh) cordoned off a private home where Rev Dhaniram Nag and 50 members of the Pentecostal Bethesda Church of God had gathered for a prayer service.

Led by the village chief (sarpanch), they took the Christians out of the house one at a time, beating each in a brutal manner. When some fainted from the violent blows, the attackers threw cold water on them to bring them around in order to beat them some more. They especially targeted women and children. One of the worshippers who was already ill, Jaykant Pawar, died during the attack. The village chief and his acolytes then tried to pin the blame for his death on the pastor and the other Christians.

The day before, 19 April, more Hindu nationalists from the Sangh Parivar organised a protest in front of the Hebron Church in Marathalli, Karnataka, demanding that its pastor, Rev Victor Babu, be arrested. They accuse him of forcibly converting 32 children from a local elementary school at a summer camp.

A local resident, Rajashekara Reddy, filed charges against Rev Babu at the Mahadevapura police station under Article 295 A of the Indian Penal Code against “Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.”

“Anti-conversion laws are a tool to persecute the local Christian community In Chhattisgarh,” Mr George said. “Hindu nationalist groups use them as for propaganda in their campaign of hatred against minorities, pushing Hindus to resort to violence. In Karnataka, militants are encouraged by the Somasekhar report to continue to terrorise Christians.”

On 28 January 2011, a report by the justice commission chaired by former judge BK Somasekhar found that the Bajrang Dal and its coordinator Mahendra Kumar were not responsible for the attacks against churches and other places of worship in Karnataka in 2008.

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

Indian Court Challenges Dead Fishermen Compensation

‘Against the law’ judge says

(ANSA) — New Delhi, April 30 — The Indian supreme court on Monday challenged a compensation settlement signed last week between the owner of an Italian tanker and the families of two Indian fishermen allegedly killed by two marines guarding the vessel against pirates on February 15.

One of the judges said the deal, under which each of the families would receive 10 million rupees (145,000 euros), “must be annulled” because it was against Indian law.

When the settlement was agreed on April 24, the families were quoted as saying: “We forgive our Italian brothers”. Italy described the compensation as “an act of generosity” with no implication of guilt.

Rome is trying to have the case tried in Italy, arguing the incident took place in international waters.

The Indian supreme court has admitted Rome’s plea and set a May 8 date for the first hearing.

A separate hearing for the long-awaited release of the Enrica Lexie tanker has been postponed until Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

On Surprise Visit to Kabul, Obama to Sign Partnership Agreement With Karzai

President Obama landed in Kabul, Afghanistan, on a surprise visit, to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan meant to mark the beginning of the end of a war that has lasted for more than a decade.

Mr. Obama, arriving after nightfall on Tuesday under a veil of secrecy at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, flew by helicopter to the presidential palace, where he was to meet President Hamid Karzai before both leaders signed the pact. It is intended to be a road map for two nations lashed together by more of than a decade of war and groping for a new relationship after the departure of American troops, scheduled for the end of 2014.

Mr. Obama was scheduled to address the American people from Afghanistan on Tuesday evening, which would be the middle of the night in Afghanistan. The address — on the one-year anniversary of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan — will give Mr. Obama a new opportunity to make an election-year case that he has wound down two inexpensive and now unpopular wars, in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

[Return to headlines]

Far East

Chinese Islam Expert Offers Insight

BEIJING, 9 Jumada Al-Thani/30 April (IINA)-University of Hawaii at Manua professor James D. Frankel visited San Diego State on Tuesday to lecture about a special topic: Chinese Islam. While many might think it uncommon to use the words “Chinese” and “Islam” together, Frankel is considered an expert in the subject. “When people find out that there are Muslims in China they wonder how many, and the answer could be 20 million to 200 million,” Frankel said laughingly. “This is a controversial figure because it’s hard to count.” Although counting the number of Muslims is difficult in a country such as China, which has a population of 1.4 billion, experts suspect there may be more than 100 million Muslims in China, according to Frankel.

The lecture explained the history of how the Hui people, one of many Chinese Muslim groups, have historically adapted to Chinese and Muslim culture simultaneously. The ancient Silk Road, which connected the Mediterranean region to China, brought Muslim traders to the heart of the Chinese Empire for economic reasons rather than religious, Frankel explained. “The Muslims started to speak exclusively Chinese. Arab, Turkish and Persian men married Chinese women and their children were bilingual, but eventually the use of foreign Islamic languages diminished,” Frankel said.

One characteristic distinguishing the Chinese Muslims from the rest of the population the most is that many do not eat pork. This is one of the reasons why the Han people, who constitute 90 percent of the population, don’t know much about the Chinese Muslims, according to Frankel. “The Muslims don’t eat pork and therefore cannot go to a Han Chinese home and have, for example, dinner with them because of the fear of being contaminated by the pork meat,” he said. Frankel said the Han look down on the Chinese Muslims in a general sense because they know very little about them. The differences between the two groups cause prejudice, according to Frankel. “When I lived in Beijing, I took a cab from a mosque and the cab driver asked, ‘What are you doing at a mosque? Why would you be interested in them they’re so weird,’“ Frankel said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghana: Muslim Youth Chase MCE

HUNDREDS OF Muslim youth from Ashaiman yesterday thronged the Jericho Islam School Park to protest against the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Numo Addison Addinortey, for attempting to develop the land for a different project. The angry youth, wielding clubs, machetes and other offensive weapons, and amidst chanting of ‘Allahu Akbar’, meaning ‘Allah is great’, burnt car tyres at the four corners of the land. The land in question already has a mosque, Arabic and English school, Mohammedian Mission School and three new blocks under construction for the Muslim women of the community.

Speaking with DAILY GUIDE at the scene, Alhaji Usman Abdul Hamid, Imam of the mosque on the land, said it was an insult to Islam that the only land released to them freely by the chiefs and people of Tema in the early 1960s for the development of Islam would be bought by the MCE. He narrated that investigations by the youth at the assembly indicated that some of the Muslim chiefs in Ashaiman allegedly sold the land to Mr. Addinortey at GH¢170,000 for his personal use. “The assembly members told us that the purchase of this land was never raised on the floor of the house in any of their meetings. Therefore, where is Addinortey coming from that he has bought the land for a GETFund project?” Imam Usman wondered. He mentioned the name of a certain Umara aka Big Joe as the one who conspired with some of the Ashaiman Muslim chiefs to sell the land to Mr. Addinortey.

The agitating youth expressed readiness to fight tooth and nail to protect the land, explaining that if they let go of the land, Muslims would not have any field to hold their Eid prayers, as their Islamic schools and mosques would be demolished. When DAILY GUIDE contacted Mr. Addinortey via phone, he confirmed that the land had been acquired by the assembly for a project that was expected to be funded by the GETfund, denying that he purchased the land for himself. He alleged that some members of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) were hiding behind the youth to agitate against him and the government because the NPP, according to him, was jealous of the government’s development achievements in the area. He noted that a check by the assembly revealed that the land was acquired by a Malian, a resident of the area by name Mallam Kunta, who was late. He said realizing that the municipality lacked a lot of Government schools, the assembly decided to use the place for the construction of schools. “What the assembly intends to do on the land is geared towards eliminating the shift system as well as improving upon the standard of education in the municipality,” Mr. Addinortey remarked.

Mr. Addinortey promised to go ahead with the development of the land irrespective of the tension the youth would create in Ashaiman. He added that the assembly would go to the land to cut sod for works to commence on it. Mr. Addinortey, however, failed to disclose how much he or the assembly bought the land for from the Malian High Commissioner. At the time of filing this story, the MCE was said to have failed to carry out the assembly’s promise of sod cutting.

FROM Razak Mardorgyz Abubakar, Ashaiman

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Ride Along With Tuareg Rebels, As Al Qaeda Undermines West African ‘Spring’

The nomadic Tuareg people had hoped for more freedom in what is now a disintegrating situation in the West African nation of Mali. Islamic radicals have taken advantage of a power vacuum to exert their authority. A look up close with Tuareg rebels…

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

Uganda: Muslim Faction Give Museveni Last Chance

The head of Imams in the Kibuli-based faction, Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata, has said they will use their second meeting with President Museveni on Friday as the last chance to solve the Muslims’ woes. While addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday, the outspoken cleric said the President was using a divide-and-rule approach to weaken the Muslim community. Sheikh Muzaata said President Museveni had earlier met the same faction seven times but nothing constructive between the two groups had been realised. But the Presidential Press Secretary, Mr Tamale Mirundi, said whoever was blaming the President for Muslim woes is unfair. He said the Muslims have always been divided since independence.

At the weekend, Sheikh Muzaata said President Museveni’s intervention was a calculated move by government to divert them from dislodging Mufti Shaban Mubajje who they accuse of being a stumbling block in restoring sanity in the Muslim leadership. He said his group under a new operation dubbed ‘bye bye Mubajje’ was planning another procession to unseat Mufti Mubajje from Gaddifi National Mosque. But Hajj Nsereko Mutumba, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council spokesperson, scoffed at the Kibuli group, saying it lacks capacity to dislodge his boss. “Let them do what they think is right,” he said. Last week, supporters of rival supreme Mufti Zubair Kayongo, where Sheikh Muzaata falls marched from Kibuli through the city centre to Gaddafi National Mosque-Old Kampala, the seat of the Islamic faith in an attempt to block the ongoing grassroots Muslim elections but their plans were thwarted by riot police.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


79 Migrants, 15 Traffickers Stopped Off Sicily

Crossings have resumed because of good weather

(ANSA) — Mazara del Vallo, May 1 — Italian police on Tuesday stopped 79 Egyptian migrants and 15 suspected traffickers on a fishing boat just off this western Sicilian port.

Migrant crossings from north Africa to southern Italy have recently resumed because of good weather.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Finland.: MTV3: Majority Wants Roma Beggars Deported

Finns are not prepared to accept beggars on the country’s streets — in any season. The majority says they should be sent back home.

According to a survey commissioned by commercial broadcaster MTV3, as many as four-fifths of people interviewed favoured the deportation of Roma beggars currently in Finland.

As many as 85 percent of men questioned said the vagrants should be sent home. Some 81 percent of women shared the same opinion.

Arto Tanner, a docent at the University of Helsinki who has examined the plight of Eastern European Roma, says he was surprised by the survey’s results.

In his opinion, the tough stance taken by respondents legitimises officials’ strong measures when dealing with Roma beggars.

The MTV3 survey was carried out by Think If Laboratories Oy in April. Around 2,000 people were interviewed. The margin of error was three percentage points.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Greece Opens Immigrant Detention Center

Greece has opened a detention center for migrants outside Athens amid protests by local residents. With elections approaching, an anti-foreigner far-right party has made inroads in the polls.

Greece opened its first purpose-built detention camp for undocumented migrants on the outskirts of the capital, Athens, on Monday, a week before a national election in which immigration has emerged as a key issue amid lingering recession and debt.

Opinion surveys indicate that far-right extremists, who have campaigned strongly against migrants, currently draw five percent support. That would be enough to win them seats in parliament for the first time.

Greece’s ruling Socialist PASOK and conservative rival New Democracy parties have also pledged to crack down on immigration to try to win over voters. At a rally in Athens on Sunday, Civil Protection Minister Miahlis Chrysohoidis said: “We are sending a message in every direction that the country is not unfence anymore.”

Conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras said last week he would halt what he termed an “unarmed invasion” by undocumented migrants.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ireland: Asylum Seeker Can Challenge Deportation Ruling

HIGH COURT JUDGMENT: O -v- Refugee Appeals Tribunal Anor.

Neutral Citation (2012) IEHC 46.

High Court

Judgment was delivered on February 2nd, 2012, by Mr Justice Gerard Hogan.


A Nigerian Christian pastor who claimed he was at risk of persecution because of his opposition to Sharia law was granted leave to judicially review a decision to reject his application for asylum.


The applicant built his own Christian church in the Nigerian capital, Lagos, where he spoke out against the operation of Sharia law in Nigeria. He claimed he was targeted by a militant Islamic group called Ahaddinjay as a result. Matters came to a head in February 2007, he claimed, when his church was burned down and the following day his sister was murdered. He said he was advised by police to leave Lagos and he travelled to the neighbouring state of Oyo and later to Benin, from where he travelled to Cork via Morocco. He arrived in Ireland in August 2007 and sought asylum, claiming his feared for his life if he returned to Nigeria and that there was no effective state protection in Nigeria. His application was rejected and when he appealed the initial decision the Refugee Appeals Tribunal said his claim was wholly lacking in credibility and his evidence “quite unbelievable”, referring to his “demeanour and credibility”. The tribunal member also said he “could easily have relocated” and that he had visited the UK 10 times in two years, returning to Nigeria each time.


Mr Justice Hogan said it was not possible to discern the reasons given for the decision reached. He remarked that the description of a witness’s demeanour as “lacking in credibility” was an uncertain expression. “An assessment of demeanour in itself can rarely be a sure ground for dismissing the cogency of a witness’s evidence by reason of that fact alone,” he said. This was particularly the case in asylum cases, in that allowance had to be made for translation difficulties and cultural norms. He quoted guiding principles enunciated by Mr Justice John Cooke in relation to assessing credibility — it must not be based on perceived correct instinct or gut instinct, a finding of credibility must be based on correct facts, untainted by conjecture of speculation, and where an adverse finding involved discounting evidence supporting a claim, the reasons for that rejection must be stated. He said the applicant could establish substantial grounds for contending that the tribunal member had violated these principles.

No explanation had been given for the member’s decision, leading to the court concluding that he had elected to disbelieve the applicant’s evidence for purely subjective reasons. “One is left to presume that the Tribunal member discounted the applicant’s narrative regarding the burning of the church or the murder of his sister on the following day. Yet the reasons for this conclusion are simply not explained,” Mr Justice Hogan said. It did not appear to be in dispute that the applicant was a Christian pastor or that he had given offence to Muslims by the stridency of his preaching. Indeed, the tribunal member had commented he was not surprised “that the Muslim community would take grave exception to the manner of his preaching”.

The applicant had submitted a photograph of the remains of his church and a newspaper article dealing with the Niger delta oil crisis at this time, but no reason was given for rejecting this documentary evidence. In relation to internal relocation, the tribunal must ask whether it was reasonably possible for the applicant to travel to another part of Nigeria in safety or whether, given his preaching activities, he might be targeted by Islamic groups. In relation to his travel to the UK and return to Nigeria, Mr Justice Hogan pointed out that all these trips had taken place before the events of February 2007. He granted leave to challenge the decision to refuse the asylum application.

The full judgment is on

The names of counsel in this case were not available.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Soros Group: Calling People “Illegal” Is “Hate Crime”

There is a lonely, barren place in what passes as the logic center of the brains of members of the communist Left. Or, we could simply say that they are liars. That is certainly true of leftist leaders — they are indeed liars, but many millions of followers of the Left are more likely just deceived. That is A-OK with the power masters of the communist Left, because it is their aim to deceive.

I came across a promotional video for a campaign to abolish the word “illegal” when referring to people who are in our country illegally. Yes, that is correct. These leftists who are pushing for the dismantling of United States national sovereignty and promoting open borders are seeking to hijack the very language we use to describe criminal aliens. Of course, that is nothing new. For decades, these people have been manipulating the language to disguise their communist platform with euphemisms.


This video, this piece of communist propaganda, is just one more fragment of the massive program of the Left. All their lies are for the purpose of hiding their true agenda for our nation, an agenda that includes domination by global governance through the United Nations, the dissolving of our national sovereignty, complete centralized government control of the people and the abolition of our United States Constitution — just for starters!

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Psychology of Racism, Part 1

Within the mind and heart of a bigot exists a hidden world of hatred, failure, and low self-esteem, combined with a powerful need to feel good at another’s expense. Roy Masters (a Jewish immigrant from England who has experienced firsthand the cruelty of anti-Semitism) looks beyond the surface politics of discrimination and explores the intriguing psychology of this dangerous and divisive prejudice.

Today we are witnessing the renewal of a hate-based ideology, one based on identifying and persecuting scapegoats for personal and national problems. After the promise of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, people of good will the world over had hoped widespread racism would be a thing of the past. And although it has mushroomed in the last decade, this attitude of contempt for one group by another has unfortunately always been present, not only in this country, but throughout the world.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Dialogue With Muslims Won’t Quell Islamic Jew Hatred

by Pamela Geller

Anti-Islamist blogger responds to accusations she publishes ‘dishonest hate literature about Muslims and Islam.’

Dylan Kaplan appeals for harmony between Jews and Muslims while claiming that Robert Spencer and I “publish dishonest hate literature about Muslims and Islam.” Kaplan has high hopes for his project of building friendships, claiming that “if we could make friends we would be bringing security” to Israelis and “Palestinians.” Why are we exhorted to initiate dialogue with Muslims, while there’s never talk of the Islamic Jew-hatred that has motivated 1,400 years of Muslim persecution of the Jews?

The root cause of the ongoing war against Israel is Islamic Jew-hatred: Quranic chapter and verse served up as a daily diet in the “Palestinian” media. The same Islamic Jew-hatred that fueled the alliance between Hitler and the leader of the Muslim world, the Mufti of Jerusalem. “Making friends” won’t eradicate that hate. Where is Kaplan’s discussion of the 1,000,000 Jews who were expelled from Muslim lands in 1948, when Israel was established? We hear much about how Muslims were supposedly expelled from Israel, but they were told to leave by their leaders, who said they could come back after Israel was destroyed. How is that the Jews’ fault? How does it make Spencer and me haters if we discuss the root causes of the enmity that many Muslims feel for Jews?


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mars Volcanic Glass May be Hotspot for Life

Glass sand on Mars may point the way to chemically-rich water ideal for hosting life. The newly discovered glass dune fields, spread across almost a third of the planet, likely formed from interactions between magma and ice, or water — interactions that could create the perfect environments for microbial life.

The northern lowlands spread across millions of square miles in the Red Planet’s northern hemisphere. But dark sediments in the region have puzzled planetary scientists.

Briony Horgan and James Bell, both of Arizona State University, used the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter to re-examine light radiated from the Martian plains. They determined that the strange readings were caused by sand composed of glass. “We’re actually seeing glass particles, like glass sand,” Horgan said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]