Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120502

Financial Crisis
»Anti-Austerity Anger Sweeps Europe on May Day
»China Signs Deal to Increase Investments in Europe
»EU: Record Unemployment in Eurozone, 10.9%, Spain’s Top
»Eurozone Unemployment Hits New Record
»Greece: Tourism May Shave 2-3% Off GDP
»Greece: Privatizations, Big-Money Sell-Offs Are Stalling
»Greece: Elections: A “Forced” Coalition Government
»Italy Must Thank Germany for Austerity Push, Monti Says
»Italy: Monti Attacks Objections to New Property Tax
»Tunisia: Public Enterprises Suffer 1 Bln Euros in Losses
»Hidden Time Bomb in Genetically Engineered Foods
»Human Genes Engineered Into Experimental GMO Rice Being Grown in Kansas
»Maligned Fossil Fuels Engine of Economy
»Many Blacks Beat White Couple, Media Bury Attack
»Muslims Grow, Baptists Decline in Metro Orlando, Religion Census Says
»Muslims Bypass Mormons as Fastest-Growing Religion in Illinois
»Numbers of Muslims, Mormons Rising Sharply: Report
»Obama and His Serfs Wish to Keep America Impotent Until Socialism Rules
»Prom Night Without Boys in Hamtramck, Michigan
»Report: US Muslim Population Nearly Triples in Decade
»Stakelbeck on Terror: Public Schools Whitewashing Islam?
»The Forwardism Disease
»What Clause in the Constitution Authorizes Congress to Force US Into Obamacare?
»Maurice Strong Shills for Rio+20 From Canadian Newspaper Boardrooms
Europe and the EU
»Al Qaeda Planned to Hijack Cruise Ships and Execute Passengers, Reveals ‘Treasure Trove of Intelligence’ Embedded in Porn Video
»Archaeology: Ancient Necropolis Found in Path of Bulgaria’s Struma Motorway
»Austrian Govt to Boycott Euro 2012 Matches in Ukraine
»Austrian Ice Mummy’s Blood is World’s Oldest
»Belgium: University of Ghent Sets Sight on Space Gardening
»Bulgaria: ‘Landmark’ Roma Eviction Ruling Sets Precedent, Rights Group Says
»Close Orban Ally is Hungary’s New President
»Dutch Scientists Closer to Asthma Vaccine
»France: Sarkozy Prepares for Make-or-Break TV Debate
»France: Toulouse Tornadoes a Hit on YouTube
»Germany: Far-Right Provocation: Berlin Worried About ‘Muhammad Cartoon Contest’
»Germany: Salafist Muslims Arrested as Protest Turns Ugly
»Germany: Biker Sues BMW for 20-Month Erection
»Germany: Ikea Open to Compensate Talks With GDR Forced Laborers
»Greenpeace in Nuclear Smoke Bomb Attack
»‘Inhabitants of Madrid’ Ate Elephants’ Meat and Bone Marrow 80,000 Years Ago
»Italians Arms Exports Up
»Italy: Florence Shops Busted for Tax Dodging
»Mass Grave Begins Revealing Soldiers’ Secrets
»Muhammad Cartoons Shown in Germany
»Netherlands: Scrap Burqa, Dual Nationality Bans, Labour MPs Tell Minister
»Netherlands: Wilders Calls on Muslims to Leave Islam
»Norwegian Swimming Champ Dies in Shower
»OIC Deplores Wilders’ Book
»Romania’s New PM Strives for Political Stability
»Sardinia: Dog Visits Owner’s Tomb Daily
»Swiss Fear of Flying Boosts Therapists
»Swiss Solar Boat Finishes Historic World Tour
»Switzerland: Zurich May Day Rally Turns Violent
»The Good Göring: How a Top Nazi’s Brother Saved Lives
»The Stones Speak: Stonehenge Had Lecture Hall Acoustics
»Top Castle Getaways in Italy
»UK: London 2012: A Passport to Mayhem
»UK: Profiling Travellers Will Speed Up the Queues at Heathrow
»UK: Vote 2012: ‘Alienated’ Muslims Urged to Use Right to Vote
»Ukraine Boycott Calls Meet With Skepticism
»Violent Tradition: Mini-Riots in Berlin Mar May 1 Demonstrations
»Wilders Wants Netherlands Out of EU
»Germany to Extend Troops’ Kosovo Mission
»Macedonia: Radical Muslim Group Involved in Macedonia Murders Arrested
North Africa
»Egypt: Salafis Sit-in Attacked, Deaths and Over 100 Injured
»Egypt: At Least 20 Died in Clashes, Hospital Sources
»Egypt:11 Killed in Attack on Cairo Anti-Junta Protesters
»Islamists Demand 45 Mln Euros for Hostages
»Kidnapped Italian and Spanish Aid Workers, Ransom Demand
»Tunisia: Solidarity With Blogger Lina Ben Mhenni, Terzi
Israel and the Palestinians
»6 Reserve Army Battalions to Egypt, Syria Borders
»Dexia Israel Offered to Discount Bank
»Israel Police: Unemployed African Refugees Turning Tel Aviv Beaches Into High Crime Spots
»May 1: Israel Military Radio Holds ‘Party’ For Trotsky
Middle East
»Jordan Weighs Two Offers to Build Nuclear Plant
»Syria: ‘Hit by Extremists’, Pro-Regime Victims Talking
»Turkey: Ankara Preparing New Constitution With Less Power in the Hands of the Military
»Turkey: Turkish Beauty Mag Ties Muslim Veil to Glamour
»UAE: Jail Term for Mosque Slur Engineer Replaced by Fine
»Chechen Women in Mortal Fear as President Backs Islamic Honor Killings
South Asia
»A Year After Bin Laden’s Death, US-Pakistani Ties Still Difficult
»Afghanistan: Obama Vows to ‘Finish the Job’ In Afghanistan
»Afghanistan: Obama’s Midnight Dash to Kabul Shows That He Dare Not Visit the Place in Daylight
»Indonesia: Photo Exhibition Displays the Integration of Islam in Germany
»Myanmar Democracy Advocates Enter Parliament
»Pakistan: Lahore Fort: Restricted Access the Price of Public Vandalism
»President Obama Promises End to Afghanistan War
»Srdja Trifkovic: Obama in Afghanistan
»US Drone Strikes Are Likely to Increase Post 2014, Say Experts
Far East
»A Glimpse of North Korea: Travels in the Empire of Kim Jong Un
»China Seeks High-Tech Weapons, ‘Respect’ On EU Visit
»North Korea’s ‘Jamming’ Capability Poses Fresh Threat to Seoul’s Security
Australia — Pacific
»Senator Caught in Muslim Slur Row
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Motives Varied in Flare-Up of African Terrorism
»South Africa, Saudi Arabia Deepen Ties
Latin America
»EU Urges Bolivia to Compensate Spain Over Electricity Grab
»Spanish Press Sees Dangers in Latin American Expropriations
»Aussies Asked to Take in Asylum Seekers and be Paid for it
»Greece: UNHCR Has Reservations on New Center
Culture Wars
»Dalton McGuinty’s Anti-Bullying Partner Calls the “Bible Bull S—t”
»Monster Black Hole Caught Swallowing Unlucky Star

Financial Crisis

Anti-Austerity Anger Sweeps Europe on May Day

May Day protesters poured into streets across Europe on Tuesday, swept up in a wave of anti-austerity anger that threatens to topple leaders in Paris and Athens.

From the eye of the eurozone debt storm in Madrid to the streets of Paris and Athens, where tottering governments face elections within days, marchers spoke of job losses, spending cuts and hard times.

More than two years after the eurozone sovereign debt crisis erupted, frustration with austerity is boiling over across the continent as voters wait in vain for signs of the economic pay-off.

In Spain, suffering the industrialised world’s highest jobless rate of 24.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012, the major unions called protests in about 80 cities.

Tens of thousands massed in central Madrid’s Neptuno square, decrying the jobless queue, new labour reforms that make it easier and cheaper to fire workers, and a budget squeeze in health care and education.

“Total Violence, You Are Robbing Us of Home and Bread!” read a banner brandished by 51-year-old Josefa Martinez Fernandez, who said her two daughters in their 20s were out of work.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

China Signs Deal to Increase Investments in Europe

China and Belgium set up an investment fund to pump more Chinese money into leading European firms Wednesday during a visit by premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang.

The fund, with capital of 17 million euros, will “invest along with Chinese companies in European groups,” said a statement by China Investment Corporation (CIC), the country’s sovereign fund, Belgium’s federal investment and participation group (SFPI/FPIM) and A Capital, the a fund manager specialising in investments between China and Europe.

“SFPI’s 8.5 million euros will be destined for projects in Belgium, the remainder possibly invested elsewhere in Europe,” a Belgian government source told AFP.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU: Record Unemployment in Eurozone, 10.9%, Spain’s Top

People under 25 the most affected, half of them in Greece

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — Another unemployment record in the Eurozone, totalling 10.9% in March. According to the data published by Eurostat in the 17 member EU 17.36 mln people are unemployed, that is, 169,000 unemployed more than in the previous month. The country most affected by unemployment increase is Greece (unemployment was at 14.2% in January 2011 and at 21.7% in January 2012) followed by Spain, currently the EU’s negative unemployment record (unemployment was at 20.8% in March 2011 and at 24.1% in March 2012) and Cyprus (unemployment was at 6.9% in March 2011 and at 10% in March 2012). In the 27-member EU the unemployment rate in March remained unaltered over February, totalling 10.2%; however, unemployment is higher over March 2011, when it was at 9.4%. Europeans under the age of 25 were the most affected, with a 22.6% share of unemployed in the Eurozone and 22.1% in the 27-member EU. Greece and Spain have the absolute negative record; in these countries, half of the population under the age of 25 is unemployed (51.2% in January 2012 and 51.1% in March 2012 respectively). Also Portugal and Italy have among the highest unemployment rate, with 36.1% and 35.9% of unemployed young people respectively.

The gap with EU countries where the unemployment rate is lower such as Germany (7.9%), Austria (8.6%) and Holland (9.3%).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Eurozone Unemployment Hits New Record

There was more grim news for the 17-nation eurozone on Wednesday (2 May) as new figures showed that the unemployment rate reached 10.9 percent in March with a further 169,000 people losing their jobs compared to February.

The figure — translating into 17.4 million looking for work in the eurozone and the highest rate since the euro’s introduction in 1999 — is up from 10.8 percent in February of this year and 9.9 percent in March 2011.

The highest jobless rate was recorded in Spain — currently battling for a sharp reduction in its budget deficit — at 24.1 percent, followed by bailout counties Greece (21.7 percent in January) and Portugal (15.3%). Meanwhile, the third largest euro economy Italy, also in the throes of budget cuts, recorded a 12-year unemployment high of 9.8 percent.

The figures are likely to fuel the current debate in the EU about whether policies to date have exacerbated the crisis by focussing too much on debt reduction through austerity measures.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Tourism May Shave 2-3% Off GDP

Drop in revenues to cause loss of up to 100,000 jobs in 2012

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 2 — Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP) could go down two to three percentage points (or 4-6 billion euros) by the end of the year, and up to 100,000 jobs will be lost if tourism revenues drop by 10 to 15% this year compared to last year, according to the head of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, Giorgos Tsakiris. Similarly — as daily Kathimerini reports -, the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) estimates that the targets of 16 million arrivals and 10 billion euros of revenues set for the industry for 2012 are impossible, especially when one considers that the figures of the first couple of months compiled by the Bank of Greece have shown a drop in both. “Sector professionals are trying by themselves, without any state support mechanism or reaction strategy, to tackle an emerging trend of decline in tourism revenues that could reach up to 10-15%,” the head of the hoteliers’ chamber told Kathimerini. He stressed that the considerable downturn in bookings so far this year illustrates the haphazard response to tourism issues that the state has shown time and again. SETE added that the 44.7% drop in revenues in January and February 2012 year-on-year and the 11.1% slump in arrivals are estimated to have continued at roughly the same rate for March and April, given that the necessary measures and structural changes have to a great extent not been applied in practice, while the economic crisis in Europe has deteriorated. “A country like Greece that lives on tourism should maintain its value-added tax on this product at the same level as its direct competitors, i.e. at 5 to 8%,” said SETE president Andreas Andreadis.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Privatizations, Big-Money Sell-Offs Are Stalling

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 2 — The quarterly report compiled by the state privatization fund (TAIPED) for the January-March period expresses optimism about the progress of its work, but also features a list of sell-off projects that will have to be postponed. The survey — as daily Kathimerini reports — announces the start of the process for the sale or utilization of nine state properties in the second quarter of the year, including the utilization of ports and marinas that had originally been planed for the third quarter. On the other hand those companies burdened with state subsidies, such as gaming company OPAP and Public Power Corporation (PPC), will face delays, even though they were expected to fetch considerable amounts of much-needed cash. However, the process of privatizing Hellenic Post (ELTA) has been brought forward, as the European Commission has deemed that the state subsidies it has received are compatible with European Law. Similarly the utilization of the Egnatia Odos highway across northern Greece is approaching as it is not bound by concession contracts, unlike other highways.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Elections: A “Forced” Coalition Government

Only solution to keep the country from default

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 2 — Greece’s new government that will be elected in the ballot of May 6 will almost certainly be a “forced” coalition government formed by the two largest parties, Nea Democratia (centre-right ) and the socialist Pasok party, because this appears to be the only solution able to keep the country from a default and allowing it to stay in the EU. In fact, according to the six most recent polls — the figures of which cannot be published by law less than 15 days before the vote — the upcoming elections will radically change Greece’s political stage, reaching a goal that has never been reached before due to the absence of a more just electoral law (never supported by the two largest parties): the end of the two-party system and the formation of a new political culture on the way a modern country should be ruled. In the past one of the country’s two largest parties always won the elections: Pasok, created by Andreas Papandreou, or Nea Dimocratia, founded by Constantinos Karamanlis. The two political parties alternated power in Greece for nearly four decades with results everyone can see: a destroyed Greek economy, as well as other problems. All six surveys confirm that probably ten parties will be represented in the new parliament instead of five, which shows that the only option to rule Greece will be to form a coalition government. But the polls have also found a clear contradiction in the electorate: despite the fact that most voters (around 75%) say that they want a Pasok-Nea Dimocratia coalition — which would guarantee that the austerity measures will continue to be implemented, allowing Greece to stay in the eurozone — at the same time a majority of people state they will not to vote for either of these, but for one of the parties that have spoken out against the Memorandum. Meanwhile the debate between the leaders of the two majority parties, Pasok’s Evangelos Venizelos and Antonis Samaras of Nea Dimocratia is becoming more and more heated. But both leaders know very well that the result of the election will force them to work together.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Must Thank Germany for Austerity Push, Monti Says

Economy ‘would be drifting into space’

(ANSA) — Rome, May 2 — Italian Premier Mario Monti said Wednesday that while he would urge Germany to adopt its positions on the euro crisis, Italy owed the country a debt of gratitude for its austerity drive. “We must persuade Germany, but we must also thank it,” he said. “Without the current (budget) constraints, the Italy of today would be a country drifting off into space, which is still possible”. The German government said last week it was trying to find common ground with Italy on a plan to stimulate growth in Europe, which most economists and heads of government now agree is necessary after having first implemented austerity packages.

Last week European Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi, who is Italian, called on Europe to agree on a pact for growth and on individual member states to be more ambitious in introducing structural economic reforms to promote it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she agreed with Draghi’s appeal.

The Italian premier’s emergency government of non-political technocrats has made fixing the economy its top priority in the wake of the euro crisis which led to ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation last November.

The Milan bourse dropped 2.6% to 14,213 points on Wednesday as the spread between Italian and German 10-year bonds was 394 at the close of trading. The yield, another important indicator of investor confidence in Italy’s ability to pull out of the crisis, was 5.55%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Attacks Objections to New Property Tax

(AGI) Rome — Prime Minister Mario Monti has ejected all requests involving all conscientious objections to the new property tax (IMU). “This is a country that doesn’t like taxes very much, but as a representative of the government there are some statements that is my duty to declare unacceptable, such as the invitation not to pay the IMU tax,” said Monti at the Italianieuropei Conference. “We will apply increasing pressure against tax evasion,” he promised, “and those who do not pay tax deserve to be treated far more rigorously by the community.” .

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

Tunisia: Public Enterprises Suffer 1 Bln Euros in Losses

Finance Ministry report paints alarming picture

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 2 — The winds of economic crisis are hitting Tunisian state-owned enterprises as well, which continue to rack up heavy losses. This was seen in the data provided by Tunisian Finance Minister Houcine Dimassi, who said that at the end of 2010 (the most recent figures currently available), public enterprises had accumulated losses of over two billion dinars (about a billion euros). The communication was made during the question time held in the Constituent Assembly. The public sector which had seen the largest losses was connected with regional public transport services. Heavy losses were also felt by the Al Fouledh company (specialised in the metallurgical industries) and the structures involved in cereal trade and production.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Hidden Time Bomb in Genetically Engineered Foods

One of the two traits that accounts for practically all of the genetically modified (GM) crops grown in the world today gives plants resistance to glyphosate (a chemical used in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, among others).

Dr. Don Huber, a plant pathologist of 50 years standing has determined that extensive use of these toxic herbicides has caused a novel organism to appear.

Last year he wrote a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, in which he explained that this new infectious agent had been discovered — one that is “widespread, very serious, and in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn.” He made an appeal for funds to continue the research, and asked that the approval of genetically engineered alfalfa be delayed until more research could be completed.

His appeal fell on deaf ears and GE alfalfa was subsequently approved, despite vigorous opposition by the organic community.


“When they use the glyphosate-tolerant technology, they insert another gene that keeps that plant’s defense mechanism going somewhat so you can put the glyphosate directly on the crop plant without having it killed.

But the technology doesn’t do anything to the glyphosate, which is still tying up mineral nutrients,” Dr. Huber explains in the featured articleii.”Anytime you put the gene in, you reduce the nutrient efficiency of the plant, though not to the point that it destroys the ability of the plant to survive. [But] it does leave it physiologically impaired… It’s not quite analogous, but you could say that what you’re doing with glyphosate is you’re giving the plant a bad case of AIDS. You’ve shut down the immune system, or the defense system.”

“Any time you have a single gene in so many different crops, especially a gene that impacts the normal resistance and defense mechanism in the plant, and you spread that same vulnerability across so many plants, you should anticipate a high level of vulnerability. I think that’s what we’re seeing.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Human Genes Engineered Into Experimental GMO Rice Being Grown in Kansas

(NaturalNews) Unless the rice you buy is certified organic, or comes specifically from a farm that tests its rice crops for genetically modified (GM) traits, you could be eating rice tainted with actual human genes. The only known GMO with inbred human traits in cultivation today, a GM rice product made by biotechnology company Ventria Bioscience is currently being grown on 3,200 acres in Junction City, Kansas — and possibly elsewhere — and most people have no idea about it.

Since about 2006, Ventria has been quietly cultivating rice that has been genetically modified (GM) with genes from the human liver for the purpose of taking the artificial proteins produced by this “Frankenrice” and using them in pharmaceuticals. With approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Ventria has taken one of the most widely cultivated grain crops in the world today, and essentially turned it into a catalyst for producing new drugs.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Maligned Fossil Fuels Engine of Economy

According to the Congressional Research Service, overall energy consumption has tripled in the U.S. since 1950, per capita consumption increased 50 percent, and electricity consumption increased even more rapidly. The heaviest energy user, the industrial sector, grew the slowest. From 1973 to 2010, “the consumption of electricity remained close to 0.4 kwh per constant dollar of GDP.” Annual power generation now is ten times larger than in 1950.

“Renewable sources (except hydropower) continue to offer more potential than actual energy production, although fuel ethanol has become a significant factor in transportation fuel. Wind power has also grown rapidly, although it still contributes only a small share of total electricity generation.” (Carl E. Behrens and Carol Glover)

The reality is simple: renewable energy is not sufficient to power the largest economy any time soon. I am yet to drive a wind or solar powered car. Electric cars, if they do not “brick” themselves (the engine dies and must be factory rebuilt for $40,000), do not go very far between charges. Hybrids do not get the mileage per gallon claimed and their batteries are toxic to the environment.


According to Joe Miller, “Obama’s State Department is giving away seven strategic, resource-laden Alaskan islands to the Russians. The seven endangered islands in the Arctic Ocean and Baring Sea include one large island the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.” The Russians are going to get Wrangel, Bennett, Jeannette, Henrietta, Copper Island, Sea Lion Rock, and Sea Otter Rock and “tens of thousands of square miles of oil-rich sea beds surrounding the islands.” Estimates by The Department of Interior include billions of barrels of oil.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Many Blacks Beat White Couple, Media Bury Attack

‘That is sad and disgusting. Someone should be fired or resign’

There’s outrage in Norfolk, Va., today after a white couple was attacked by dozens of black teenagers, and the local newspaper did not report on the incident for two weeks, despite the victims being reporters for the paper. Even today, the Virginian-Pilot did not cover the crime as news, but rather as an opinion piece by columnist Michelle Washington.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Muslims Grow, Baptists Decline in Metro Orlando, Religion Census Says

Metropolitan Orlando’s Muslim population grew dramatically in the past decade, gaining more than 25,000 worshippers since 2000, according to a new census of religions released Tuesday. Muslims were second only to Roman Catholics, whose numbers increased by nearly 64,000, the census found. Muslims now outnumber Presbyterians, Lutherans and Episcopalians in the Orlando area of Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Imam Tariq Rasheed, director of the Islamic Center of Orlando, said the growth comes from Muslims moving to Central Florida from other American cities and from abroad.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslims Bypass Mormons as Fastest-Growing Religion in Illinois

Muslims have become the third-largest religious group in the state after Roman Catholics and independent evangelicals. Not to mention, the fastest-growing one. That’s according to a census of American religious congregations unveiled Tuesday in Chicago. This year, for the first time, the nationwide aggregation of religious traditions, dubbed the “Religion Census,” counted nondenominational evangelical congregations, ranging from storefront sanctuaries to megachurches with multiple sites such as Willow Creek Community Church. That calculation revealed that evangelicals affiliated with independent churches make up the second-largest religious group in Illinois. In fact, in 48 of the 50 states, independent evangelicals occupy a top-five spot. In the Chicago area, Illinois and nationwide, Roman Catholics rank as the largest religious group. With 176 religious traditions, Illinois slipped from its top spot as the most religiously diverse state in 2000, falling to Pennsylvania with 184. Religious leaders and sociologists welcomed the bird’s-eye view of America’s religious landscape as a helpful tool for determining where to evangelize and understanding where certain religious traditions thrive. But some caution that the numbers and rankings shouldn’t be taken as gospel because religious groups apply different standards for counting adherents.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Numbers of Muslims, Mormons Rising Sharply: Report

(Reuters) — American Muslims grew in number over the past decade, outnumbering Jews for the first time in most of the Midwest and part of the South, while most mainline churches lost adherents, according to a census of American religions released on Tuesday. The number of Muslim adherents rose to 2.6 million in 2010 from 1 million in 2000, fueled by immigration and conversions, said Dale Jones, a researcher who worked on the study by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obama and His Serfs Wish to Keep America Impotent Until Socialism Rules

The Washington Times published an Editorial on April 20, 2012 titled, “Where’s the recovery?” It mirrored all the bad news on our supposed “getting healthy” economy along with the discouraging views of the economic fundamentals and new jobless claims creating long faces and nervous hair pulling, while smiles abound in our anti-American White House and among its inhabitants.

Believe it or not, all this bad news about the country that less than four years ago was considered the greatest nation in the world, is pleasing to our White House staff and all of its minions, czars and secretaries. Obama’s mission is to totally destroy America as the world has known it for the past two hundred and thirty plus years and see poverty and hardships abound where once the fruits of our forebears’ diligence and INTELLIGENCE (a commodity that is sorely lacking today) created prosperity and leadership for the entire world to follow.

People SHOULD be asking, where the recovery is; it is certainly costing the taxpayers huge sums of money to keep this charlatan in the Oval Office in spending money for his communist, socialist and Islamist buddies in the depths and pestholes of the world.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Prom Night Without Boys in Hamtramck, Michigan

Here’s a gushing look at the sharia-compliant prom in Hamtramck, Michigan.

With an interesting demographic note:

“Diversity was hard-won: The mosque, one of five in the city, was the subject of controversy in 2004, when some people strenuously objected to the city’s decision to allow it to broadcast prayers five times a day; the city ultimately prevailed, regulating the hours when the call may be sounded.”

“In sharp contrast to earlier immigrants, drawn by the once-thriving auto industry, a quarter of the residents now live below the federal poverty level.

No sense if these two items might be related. Interesting.

“At Hamtramck High, which has 900 students, many non-Muslims respectfully tuck away their food and water bottles during Ramadan. The prom reflects a broad cultural shift. “

Not capitulation, but a respectful cultural “shift”.

           — Hat tip: Van Grungy[Return to headlines]

Report: US Muslim Population Nearly Triples in Decade

A 2010 survey shows the Muslim population in the US has risen from 1 million to 2.6 million in 10 years

A census of American religions released Tuesday showed the Muslim community in the United States has grown in the past decade.

According to a study carried out by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, the number of Muslims in America rose to 2.6 million in 2010 from 1 million in 2000, fueled by immigration and conversions.

Muslims now outnumber Jews in many parts of the American South and Midwest, but Christians remain the largest group in every state.

The number of Mormons with the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, grew by 45 percent to 6.1 million in 2010.

Among the other major US faiths, the Southern Baptist Convention held steady at 19.9 million over the decade, the United Methodist Church lost 4 percent down to 9.9 million adherents, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lost 18 percent to 4.2 million, and the Episcopal Church lost 15 percent of its adherents to 1.95 million.

Among major religions, the census found the number of Catholics, the largest single faith, declined 5 percent to 58.9 million during the decade. In the New England region, Catholic funerals outnumber baptisms.

However, the overall number of evangelical Protestant congregations continued to grow, albeit slowly, to 50 million adherents. Most of the growth was in urban areas and the vast majority of expanding congregations have fewer than 100 members.

Elsewhere, Buddhists made strong gains in the Rocky Mountain States

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck on Terror: Public Schools Whitewashing Islam?

In former years, American public schools taught students that Nazism, communism, and other totalitarian ideologies should be opposed.

But when it comes to the current war with Islamic jihadists, public schools are taking a much different course.

According to a shocking new report by ACT for America Education, textbooks used by American students in grades 6 thru 12 are teaching a white-washed version of jihad, Islamic sharia law, Muhammad, Israel, 9/11 and much more.

Click the link above to watch the new episode of the Stakelbeck on Terror show, in which I interview ACT for America Education Exec. Director Guy Rodgers about the textbooks report.

And for my shorter version on the subject from today’s 700 Club, click here.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

The Forwardism Disease

Forwardistan is not some enigmatic place, it’s Lenin’s Russia, Mao’s China, O’Malley’s Maryland and Obama’s America.

The Obama slogan for 2012 is in and it’s “Forward”, which is a compact version of that old classic, “Don’t change horses in the middle of a stream” that every incumbent is forced to run on sooner or later. Forward implies that there’s no alternative but to go backward, which is a place that no right-thinking person wants to go.

The left has always been enamored of “Forwardism” or “Progressivism” which mean much the same thing. Before MSNBC had Lean Forward, Mao had the Great Leap Forward which killed some 40 million people, far more people than MSNBC can ever dream of tuning in to their programs.

When Lenin wanted to launch his own newspaper, he called it, “Vperod” or Forward. The name still lingers on among the left and appears on the mastheads of newspapers across the world. It’s Vorwarts in Germany, Voorwarts in the Netherlands and Ila al-Amam in the Arab world. Back in New York it’s The Forward, the venerable blotting paper of the Jewish left.


Picking “Forward” as his campaign slogan puts Obama in good company with the likes of Lenin and Mao, and it sounds positive until you stop and realize that it’s meant more as an order than a suggestion. There’s a reason most leftist newspapers with that name add an exclamation mark at the end of it. It’s not a proposal, it’s a command. Lean forward, march forward, live forward and then die forward. We’ve burned the bridges, run up the deficit and trashed the economy so there’s no going back.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

What Clause in the Constitution Authorizes Congress to Force US Into Obamacare?

Harvard Law School was embarrassed recently when one of its graduates, the putative President of the United States, demonstrated that he was unaware that the supreme Court has constitutional authority to declare an act of Congress unconstitutional.[1]

And after reading a recent paper by Harvard law professor Einer Elhauge, one wonders whether the academic standards (or is it the moral standards?) of that once great school have collapsed.


Nothing! Over the Country at large (as opposed to the federal enclaves), Congress has only enumerated powers. These enumerated powers are listed in Art. I, Sec. 8, clauses 1-16 and in the Amendments addressing civil and voting rights. No enumerated power authorizes the federal government to force us into obamacare.

So, Professor Elhauge introduces a nasty bit of poison. He says:

“Nevermind that nothing in the text or history of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause indicates that Congress cannot mandate commercial purchases.”

Do you see what he is doing? Surely he knows that obamacare is not authorized by any enumerated power. So! He asserts that nothing in the commerce clause says Congress can’t force us into obamacare. He thus seeks to pervert Our Constitution from one of enumerated powers only, to an abomination which says the federal government can do whatever it pleases as long as the commerce clause doesn’t forbid it.

Furthermore, what he says is demonstrably false. The Federalist Papers & Madison’s Journal of the Federal Convention show that the purpose of the interstate commerce clause is to prevent the States from imposing tolls & tariffs on articles of merchandize as they are transported through the States for purposes of buying and selling. For actual quotes from Our Framers and irrefutable Proof that this is the purpose of the interstate commerce clause, see: “Does the Interstate Commerce Clause Authorize Congress to Force Us to Buy Health Insurance?” [url]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Maurice Strong Shills for Rio+20 From Canadian Newspaper Boardrooms

One rarely heard from Strong after he hightailed it to China in the aftermath of the United Nations Oil for Food scandal. A country, according to Strong’s own words, graced by his presence at least 50 percent of the time.

When Strong resurfaced in the Land of the Maple Leaf this week, it was to attend editorial board conferences of the Ottawa Citizen and The Globe and Mail, shilling for next month’s Rio de Janeiro global summit known as Rio +20. It was the first Rio Earth Summit led by Strong that cast a no-going-back spell on society with the soon to be forced advent of ‘sustainability’.

Following the Strong editorial board meeting,The Globe and Mail, Canada’s business newspaper of record, blared out headlines that “China bests Canada in tackling climate change”.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Al Qaeda Planned to Hijack Cruise Ships and Execute Passengers, Reveals ‘Treasure Trove of Intelligence’ Embedded in Porn Video

Al Qaeda planned to hijack cruise ships and post footage of passengers being executed online to pressurise governments to release particular prisoners, it has been revealed.

Documents embedded inside a pornographic movie, on a memory disc, show how the terror network wanted to dress tourists up in Guantanamo Bay-style orange jumpsuits before murdering them.

The audacious plan is just one of several plots discovered by investigators who decrypted the hardware found in the underpants of a suspected terrorist arrested in Berlin last year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Archaeology: Ancient Necropolis Found in Path of Bulgaria’s Struma Motorway

A large, 2,800-year-old necropolis has been found in the path of a highway that will connect Sofia, Bulgaria, to the Greek border. A silver earring, a pendant, and glass beads have been unearthed in the cemetery, which probably held cremated human remains in clay urns. Stone mounds built of imported rocks were also uncovered. The size of the necropolis may be explained by the two ancient settlements in the region.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Austrian Govt to Boycott Euro 2012 Matches in Ukraine

Austria’s government said Wednesday it will boycott all Euro 2012 football matches in Ukraine to protest at the treatment of jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on hunger strike. “No member of the Austrian government will attend these games, that is our mark of solidarity,” Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said after a cabinet meeting. Vienna wanted to send Kiev a political signal, he added.

The move follows reports that the German government was considering boycotting the Ukrainian matches over concerns for Tymoshenko’s well-being. The 51-year-old former Ukrainian premier was controversially jailed for seven years in October on disputed charges and has complained of beatings by prison guards.

Earlier this week, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann already announced he would not attend any Euro 2012 games in Ukraine, which is co-hosting the tournament with Poland.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Austrian Ice Mummy’s Blood is World’s Oldest

Researchers studying Oetzi, a 5,300-year-old caveman found frozen in the Italian Alps in 1991, have found red blood cells around his wounds.

The body of the iceman was found frozen under the ice on the mountainous border between Austria and Italy by a hiker, sparking a bitter row between the two countries over which could claim ownership. In the end it was settled that Austria would get the body for the first five years — and would then hand it to Italy for the rest of the time.

Blood cells tend to degrade quickly, and earlier scans for blood within Oetzi’s body turned up nothing. Now a study in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface shows that Oetzi’s remarkable preservation extends even to the blood he shed shortly before dying. The find represents by far the oldest red blood cells ever observed.

It is just the latest chapter in what could be described as the world’s oldest murder mystery. Since Oetzi was first found by hikers with an arrow buried in his back, experts have determined that he died from his wounds and what his last meal was. There has been extensive debate as to whether he fell where he died or was buried there by others.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Belgium: University of Ghent Sets Sight on Space Gardening

Researchers from the University of Ghent plan to explore ways in which astronauts can plant crops that will serve to provide food, oxygen and drinking water during extended space flights. This partnership with the European Aeronautical Organisation Esa is inspired by earthly ecosystems and will attempt to cultivate crops such as rice, wheat, potatoes, salad and tomatoes.

The project has been planned in various stages, starting with the cultivation on earth of seedlings in a closed system, followed by the same process on the moon and finally in space craft destined for Mars, and eventually on the planet itself. “These new technologies could also be applied on earth in view of environmental problems due to continuous climate change,” explains Benedikt Sas, professor at the expertise centre Food2Know at the university.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Bulgaria: ‘Landmark’ Roma Eviction Ruling Sets Precedent, Rights Group Says

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that evicting Roma from an established community outside of Sofia, Bulgaria, would violate the right to life. Amnesty International called it a “landmark judgment.” The Strasbourg-based rights court issued the ruling last week in favor of 23 Bulgarian nationals living in a settlement with about 250 other Roma.

The Roma had settled in Batalova Vodenitsa, on the outskirts of Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, in the 1960s and 70s. The 1990s saw growing hostility against Roma in Sofia, including some politicians calling for the emptying of “Roma ghettos.”

Citing tensions with neighbors over the makeshift homes, which lacked building permits and didn’t fulfill safety regulations, a local court in 2006 upheld an eviction order by Sofia authorities after the land was privatized. The Roma, also known as gypsies, have been pushed to the margins of European society and have even become targets of persecution.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Close Orban Ally is Hungary’s New President

Hungarian lawmakers Wednesday confirmed the appointment of European Parliament deputy, Janos Ader, a career politician and ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as the country’s new president.

For more than 10 years, Ader was Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right- hand man — his lawyer and election strategist, a speaker of parliament and leader of the parliamentary group of the governing Fidesz party. But then, Janos Ader fell out of favor with Orban. In a move regarded as political exile, Ader spent the past three years in Brussels and Strasbourg as a member of the European Parliament.

Now, Viktor Orban has recalled the 52-year-old to Hungary and given him a special, though largely ceremonial, post as the next Hungarian president.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Dutch Scientists Closer to Asthma Vaccine

Dutch scientists have taken a major step towards developing a vaccine for asthma. Asthma occurs when cells in the lung react violently to what are actually harmless stimuli. The Dutch Asthma Fund announced today that researchers in Leiden, Rotterdam and Amsterdam have discovered that certain chemicals can be used to manipulate the cells so they do not react to those stimuli.

Hermelijn Smits of the Leiden University Medical Center: Asthma is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Attacks of wheezing and coughing can be set off by stimuli including pets, pollen or another illness. Around 115,000 Dutch children suffer from asthma, making it the leading chronic illness among children.

Michael Rutgers, head of the Dutch Asthma Fund, is optimistic about the potential of an asthma vaccine but emphasizes that it could be another 10 or 20 years before it can be made available.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Sarkozy Prepares for Make-or-Break TV Debate

Nicolas Sarkozy will make a last-ditch bid on Wednesday to turn the tide against Socialist Francois Hollande when they go head to head in the French presidential election’s one and only television debate.

The duel comes a day after Sarkozy staged a huge rally to rival France’s traditional May Day show of force by the left and after National Front leader Marine Le Pen scornfully rejected his bid to woo her far-right supporters.

The president is expected to use the debate to portray his front-running rival as a dangerous left-winger whose tax-and-spend policies signal a return to 1970s socialism that will doom the already struggling French economy.

Sarkozy is generally seen as a better debater than Hollande but few expect him to be able to reverse the opinion polls that forecast the Socialist will clinch Sunday’s second round vote by around 54 percent to his 46.

Hollande will speak first in the debate to be broadcast live by several channels at 1900 GMT and which has been meticulously prepared — even down to the temperature of the studio — by media advisors of both candidates.

Hollande on Wednesday received advice from his former partner and mother of his four children, Ségolène Royal, who took on Sarkozy in 2007 when she was the Socialist candidate, in an election her right-wing opponent went on to win.

“The issue is not to let him (Sarkozy) escape his track record, because democracy is about knowing if one sticks to one’s commitments. He must not be able to sidestep his track record,” she told RTL radio. Hollande must “above all remain himself” and must “keep this debate on an elevated plane even if (Sarkozy) tries to drag him down,” she said.

Sarkozy’s UMP party was meanwhile engaged in debate about how far it should engage with Le Pen, who got the support of 6.4 million voters in the April 22 first round of the election.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Toulouse Tornadoes a Hit on YouTube

Unusual spring weather in southern France has become an internet sensation — Toulouse tornadoes have taken YouTube by storm. The tornado was filmed by several inhabitants of the Muret and Seysses regions of south-west Toulouse Sunday night. Yellow in colour, it formed in the sky and came down to the ground in about five minutes, causing some damage to a nearby farm.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Far-Right Provocation: Berlin Worried About ‘Muhammad Cartoon Contest’

A far-right group in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is running a ‘Muslim cartoon contest’ and plans to display the works outside mosques. The move has alarmed authorities which fear it could incite violence and hurt German interests abroad, similar to the backlash that followed the 2005 publication of cartoons in Danish newspapers.

The German government has voiced concern that far-right activists in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia may incite violence with plans to hold a so-called “Muhammad cartoon contest” and to stage demonstrations outside mosques in the run-up to a regional election there on May 13. SPIEGEL has learned that Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich warned of a confrontation between Salafists and right-wing extremists which he said could have unforeseeable consequences for public safety. Pro-NRW, which has been categorized as an extremist right-wing group by the domestic intelligence agency, has said it plans to display the cartoons outside 25 mosques in the state. Friedrich told lawmakers that this deliberate provocation would inflame tensions and lead to violent clashes, and that German embassies and companies operating abroad may also be affected, similar to the protests in Muslim countries following the publication in 2005 of Muhammad cartoons in Danish newspapers.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: Salafist Muslims Arrested as Protest Turns Ugly

Police arrested 81 people on Tuesday after a Salafist Muslim protest in western Germany against a far-right group displaying cartoons of Mohammed outside mosques turned violent, with rocks thrown at police who responded with tear gas.

Around 70 Safalist Muslims showed up outside a mosque in Solingen, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), where the anti-Islam grouping “Pro NRW” had set up a stand showing cartoons of Mohammed. Some were copies of the Danish cartoons which sparked global outrage in 2005.

Police made 44 arrests and confiscated a bag of rocks from a protester at the apparently unplanned protest, local paper the Rheinische Post reported on Wednesday. Prosecutors have since opened a probe on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and disturbing the peace, a police spokesperson said.

On Monday a state court lifted a previous ban on the “Pro NRW” group using Mohammed caricatures in their election campaign in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) — despite criticism that the idea was pure provocation, and amid fears of violence.

And while there were protests in a few of NRW towns, the city of Solingen was the most eventful, with Salafists draped in flags bearing Arabic script and chanting pro-Islam messages.

Police said the demonstrators were peaceful until some tried to break through the chain of officers encircling the group, outside of the town hall. Things escalated and stones were thrown at police, injuring three officers and one passerby.

A further 37 people were arrested after police searched the city’s main Salafist mosque shortly after the incident, bringing the total to 81. All have since been released.

The “Pro NRW” party had displayed anti-Islamic caricatures of Mohammed by Danish artist Knut Westergaard in Essen and Gelsenkirchen before the ban, though the police prevented demonstrations taking place directly outside mosques.

The party intends to send activists to 25 mosques throughout the state in the run-up to the North Rhine-Westphalia election on May 13, staging protests in Cologne, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Aachen, Wuppertal and Solingen.

Interior Minister for the state Ralf Jäger spoke out about Tuesday’s unrest, calling for vigilance towards extremism of any sort, whether Salafist or right-wing.

Meanwhile, the creator of the cartoons Westergaard has tried to distance himself from “Pro NRW”, saying he supports freedom of speech and is in no way politically affiliated with the group.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Biker Sues BMW for 20-Month Erection

Top German automobile maker BMW is facing a stiff legal challenge from an American man who claims a four-hour ride on one of their motorbikes left him with a permanent erection. BMW markets its cars and motorbikes under the slogan “Sheer Driving Pleasure”, and also boasts “Less emissions. More driving pleasure”, but Californian Henry Wolf says his life has been devastated by the after-effects of his BMW bike experience.

Wolf is suing BMW and saddle-manufacturer Corbin-Pacific for medical costs, emotional stress and loss of income after a fateful road trip on his 1993 motorbike. Wolf says he has had a constant erection for 20 months.

Wolf’s lawsuit says he is “now is unable to engage in sexual activity, which is causing him substantial emotional and mental anguish.” According to a report by US broadcaster CBS, Wolf bought a special ridge-like seat, meant to enhance comfort, for around $200 (€150).

But urologists dispute Wolf’s claim that his beamer is due to his Beamer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Ikea Open to Compensate Talks With GDR Forced Laborers

Ikea has said it will start talks with victims over compensation, if allegations are proven that forced laborers in communist East Germany made products for the Swedish furniture giant. Ikea said it was investigating claims that forced laborers in East Germany (GDR) made furniture for the company and that it was open to talks about compensation, if they were proven to be true.

“We would be happy to have a dialog with those affected and also with organizations,” Ikea Sweden spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson told the DPA news agency on Wednesday.

A Swedish documentary due to be broadcast on SVT public television on Wednesday evening alleges that political prisoners in communist East Germany were forced to work for Ikea. The Stasi archives, where the files of the East German secret police are collected, hold more than 800 documents from the years 1976 and 1989 — when the Berlin Wall fell — that refer to Ikea, SVT said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greenpeace in Nuclear Smoke Bomb Attack

A Greenpeace activist flew into a nuclear power plant near Lyon on Wednesday morning, depositing a red smoke canister on the roof of a reactor, in a bid to demonstrate French nuclear sites’ vulnerability.

The activist flew over the Bugey power station at about 7.40 this morning on a paraglider with motorised propeller, and put the smoke canister on the roof of one of the four central reactors in the compound. He then took off his yellow paraglider inside the station, where he was reportedly met by security guards.

Greenpeace France’s nuclear specialist, Yannick Rousselet, told Le Parisien: “We did this to demonstrate how vulnerable French nuclear stations are to air attacks, which no one has really considered. “Just a few days before the second round of elections, we want politicians to take into account this vulnerability and realise the enormous risk nuclear power poses in France.”

Sophia Majnoni, Greenpeace nuclear expert, explained to 24 hour news chanel iTélé: “This is a double risk — an aeroplane could crash or there could be a terrorist attack.”

Last December 11 Greenpeace activists managed to penetrate two other nuclear sites in France. Following the incident, interior minister Claude Guéant announced nuclear station security would be improved.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Inhabitants of Madrid’ Ate Elephants’ Meat and Bone Marrow 80,000 Years Ago

Elephant bones unearthed at the site of Preresa in Spain show that people ate elephant meat and bone marrow 80,000 years ago. “There are many sites, but few with fossil remains with marks that demonstrate humans’ purpose,” said Jose Yravedra of Complutense University of Madrid. The researchers are not sure if the humans killed the elephant during a hunt, or if they scavenged its remains.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italians Arms Exports Up

5.28% rise in 2011

(ANSA) — Rome, April 24 — Italian arms exports rose 5.28% to 3.059 billion euros in 2011, the premier’s office said Tuesday.

Arms imports almost doubled to 760 million euros, it said.

The top receiver of arms was Algeria, with 477 million euros, followed by Singapore (395 million), Turkey (170 million), Saudi Arabia (166 million), France (160 million), Mexico (135 million), the United States (134 million) and Germany (133 million).

The United States was the top supplier, followed by France, the United Kingdom and Germany.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Florence Shops Busted for Tax Dodging

Third of all stores caught without receipts

(ANSA) — Florence, May 2 — Law enforcement cracked down on Florentine shops for dodging sales tax on Wednesday, citing a third of all shops investigated. Tax police said 173 of 527 businesses were caught failing to issue a receipt over the course of a 10-day probe. Police also said they uncovered multiple other violations ranging from paying workers under the table, to counterfeit merchandise and unauthorized vending. With cash needed to balance the budget by 2013 and emerge from the debt crisis, Premier Mario Monti has launched a drive against tax cheats, who he says “are giving poisoned bread to their children”.

A campaign has featured a number of headline-grabbing operations among rich tourists in Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Ligurian Riviera, shoppers at exclusive stores in Rome and Naples and nightclub owners in Milan.

Italy’s internal revenue agency has said that it will ramp up the pressure further by introducing a new system to find evaders by cross-checking incomes and spending by the end of June.

The tax agency last year estimated that around 120 billion euros’ worth of undeclared business was done on the Italian underground economy each year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mass Grave Begins Revealing Soldiers’ Secrets

The bones of 20 men who were killed in battle during the Thirty Years War have been carefully extracted from a mass grave that was removed from the ground in two large blocks and transported to a laboratory for excavation and study. The grave was found outside the city of Lützen, where the battle was fought on November 16, 1632. Thousands were killed, including Sweden’s King Gustav II Adolf. The bones show signs of wounds, including a blow to the head, and a lead bullet in a pelvis. Strontium isotope analysis of the bones will determine the soldiers’ home countries.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Muhammad Cartoons Shown in Germany

Salafists Attack Police at Far-Right Rally

A group of radical Muslims attacked police in the German city of Solingen on Tuesday during a far-right demonstration, injuring four. They were provoked by the anti-Islamic Pro NRW party, which displayed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Officials had warned that the publicity stunt could spark violence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Scrap Burqa, Dual Nationality Bans, Labour MPs Tell Minister

Labour MPs on Wednesday urged home affairs ministry Liesbeth Spies to act according to her convictions and formally scrap draft legislation to ban the burqa and eradicate dual nationality.

Spies said in an interview with the Volkskrant newspaper earlier both issues are no longer priorities but plans to leave it up to parliament to decide what to do.

Spies, who is campaigning for the Christian Democratic party leadership, said: ‘Parliament wants to bin the dual nationality plans. And I would not shed a tear if that happened to the burqa ban either’.

The coalition alliance collapsed last month when Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam PVV, pulled out after disagreeing with austerity measures. The dual nationality and burqa bans were PVV policies.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Wilders Calls on Muslims to Leave Islam

NEW YORK, 02/05/12 — PVV leader Geert Wilders has called on Muslims throughout the world to leave Islam. He made his call in a speech in New York, to promote his English-language book Marked for Death.

Wilders claims that his book explains that Islam is a “totalitarian ideology” and is an encouragement to freedom-loving Muslims to turn their back on Islam. “I support those who fight for freedom in the Islamic world completely. The Arab, Turkish, Iranian, Pakistani and Indonesian peoples have enormous potential. If they could free themselves of the yoke of Islam, if they could stop seeing Mohamed as their role model and if they could break away from the rancorous Koran, then they could achieve amazing things,” Wilders said in his speech.

With reporters, Wilders went into the political situation in the Netherlands last week when he caused the collapse of government by pulling out of the budget negotiations with the conservatives (VVD) and Christian democrats (CDA). Wilders calls this a difficult decision, but says he had no other choice.

“We are now concentrating on elections on 12 September. Our campaign will be on the need to revive our national sovereignty, as without this we cannot defend our identity and fight against Islamisation.”

Wilders said he was not planning to move to the United States. “I am really staying in the Netherlands and will campaign for the elections with very much enthusiasm and very much good sense,” he said yesterday on Radio 1.

A number of media suggested last week that Wilders might be considering an international career because his role in the Loer Hose appears to have been played out for the coming period. Former VVD MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, also a fighter against Islam, moved to the US in 2005 and was subsequently named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential persons.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norwegian Swimming Champ Dies in Shower

Norwegian world swimming champion Alexander Dale Oen has died aged 26 at a training camp in the United States, Norway’s swim federation announced on Tuesday. Dale Oen, who won the gold medal in the 100m breaststroke in the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai, was found dead on Monday in a shower at a swimming pool in Flagstaff, Arizona, where Norway’s national swim team was training for the London Olympics. The cause of death was not immediately known.

The swim federation said his teammates thought he was taking an unusually long time in the shower, and there was no reply when they knocked on the door. When they entered, Dale Oen was found lying on the floor.

The team doctor tried to resuscitate him, as did ambulance paramedics who arrived within minutes to take him to hospital. “After more than an hour’s attempts to get his heart going, Alexander Dale Oen was declared dead at 9:00 pm local time,” the federation said. “We’re all in shock, this is like an out-of-body experience for the whole team here,” Norway team coach Petter Loevberg said.

According to Norwegian daily Aftenposten online, Dale Oen had spoken to his family on Skype earlier in the evening “and there was no indication then that he was sick.” Dale Oen became Norway’s first swimmer to win an Olympic medal when he won the silver in the 100m breaststroke in the 2008 Games in Beijing. He had been tipped as one of Norway’s best chances at a medal at the London Olympics in July.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

OIC Deplores Wilders’ Book

JEDDAH, 11 Jumada Al-Thani/2 May (IINA)-A Spokesman of the Islamophobia Observatory of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation expressed dismay on the recent publication of a book titled “Marked for Death, War against the West and Me” by his author Mr. Geert Wilders, a Dutch Parliamentarian and a self-proclaimed activist against Islam.

The Spokesman reiterated that the new book is nothing but a repetition of Mr. Wilder’s campaign of hate mongering against Islam in abusing of his right of freedom of expression. Suffice it to say that his activities have been denounced and disavowed by the Dutch Government, Dutch Parliament, the European Parliament as well as the Council of Europe.

[Return to headlines]

Romania’s New PM Strives for Political Stability

After a vote of no confidence toppled the center-right coalition government in Bucharest, President Basescu has designated Victor Ponta as his new prime minister. He leads the new left-led Social Liberal Union.

The decision fell just hours after the vote of no confidence submitted by the opposition.

Six months before regular parliamentary elections scheduled for November, Prime Minister-designate Victor Ponta lost no time, announcing plans to unveil his government line-up on Tuesday.

“There’s no reason to panic,” President Traian Basescu said after the collapse of Mihai Razvan Ungureanu’s center-right government. “This is all happening in a democratic framework and is under control, as far as the security of our state is concerned.” He also said Romania’s finance ministry has “substantial reserves that can cope with any event.”

Basescu’s decision took his supporters by surprise: just last year, the president declared he would never name the head of the Social Democrats Prime Minister. But Romania’s president defended his choice as “completely legitimate” because Ponta is the candidate favored by a new parliamentary majority.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sardinia: Dog Visits Owner’s Tomb Daily

Fed by locals, chooses to live near graveyard

(ANSA) — Cagliari, April 26 — A dog in a small town near Cagliari in Sardinia has made visiting the graveyard part of his daily ritual after his owner suddenly died of a heart attack in February, says the newspaper L’Unione Sarda. As in the film Hachi starring Richard Gere in which a dog returned daily for 10 years to the train station where his owner habitually arrived, the honey-colored mixed breed slips in behind the security guard’s mother each day when she opens the gate and sits by his dead owner’s tomb.

The dog, called Nameless since no one knows what he was called by his former owner, is fed and taken care of by locals, but has chosen to make his home in a field close to the cemetary.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Swiss Fear of Flying Boosts Therapists

The number of Swiss people who are scared of flying is so high that coaching sessions are booked out and new clinics are opening has opened to meet the need for therapy. Approximately 20 percent of the Swiss population are afraid of flying, newspaper 20 Minuten reported. “Sometimes passengers get so panicky that they cannot go through with it,” emotion coach Diederika Tasma told 20 Minuten.

Swiss were already offer weekend seminars in German at Zurich (Kloten) Airport, in conjunction with Edelweiss Air and Swiss Aviation Training, as well as courses in French and English at Geneva airport.

Tasma soon realised that nothing was on offer for the people of Bern. So in conjunction with Helvetic Airways, she decided to set up a new coaching practice at Belp airport as well as seminars that specifically targets this group from.

The courses, run by Tasma Life Balance, start with participants being sat on grounded planes. Next, participants are taken up in a Fokker 100, and finally, the course recommends participants to take part in a supervised flight to a European destination.

The correct term for fear of flying is pteromerhanophobia. It is unclear whether it is itself a distinct phobia or one made up from several phobias such as claustrophobia (fear of being in small spaces), acrophobia (a fear of heights) and agoraphobia (fear of open spaces).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swiss Solar Boat Finishes Historic World Tour

Super-yacht PlanetSolar, brainchild of a Swiss eco-adventurer, has completed the first ever round-the-world trip to be powered entirely by the sun’s rays. The boat returned to the port of Monaco on Friday to much fanfare and a new world record, 586 days and 60,000 kilometres after it set off. The project had been dreamed up by former ambulance driver, Raphael Domjan, from Yverdon-les-Bains, and took nine years to come to fruition.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Zurich May Day Rally Turns Violent

A May Day rally in Zurich turned violent on Tuesday as a group of youths set fire to rubbish bins and pelted police with bottles and stones, drawing teargas and water-cannon fire in response. The Swiss city’s official May 1 celebrations unfolded peacefully, but some 20 people, mostly youths clad in hoods, clashed with police later in the day.

Some 100 riot police blocked off part of the city centre and arrested several people as hundreds of onlookers took to balconies overlooking the streets to watch, an AFP correspondent said. The clashes went on throughout the afternoon. Zurich police told AFP they did not yet have an estimate on damages.

The annual May Day rally drew some 12,000 people, police said. May Day often turns violent in Zurich. Last year, police arrested more than 500 people.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Good Göring: How a Top Nazi’s Brother Saved Lives

Hermann Göring was one of the Nazi party’s most powerful figures and an adamant anti-Semite. But his younger brother Albert worked to save the lives of dozens of Jews. Despite his efforts to do good, Albert’s family name would ultimately prove to be a curse.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Stones Speak: Stonehenge Had Lecture Hall Acoustics

The stone slabs of England’s Stonehenge may have been more than just a spectacular sight to the ancient people who built the structure; they likely created an acoustic environment unlike anything they normally experienced, new research hints.

“As they walk inside they would have perceived the sound environment around them had changed in some way,”said researcher Bruno Fazenda, a professor at the University of Salford in the United Kingdom. “They would have been stricken by it, they would say, ‘This is different.’“

These Neolithic people might have felt as modern people do upon entering a cathedral, Fazenda told LiveScience.

Fazenda and colleagues have been studying the roughly 5,000-year-old-structure’s acoustic properties. Their work at the Stonehenge site in Wiltshire, England, and at a concrete replica built as a memorial to soldiers in World War I in Maryhill, Wash., indicates Stonehenge had the sort of acoustics desirable in a lecture hall.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Top Castle Getaways in Italy

Many medieval fortresses have been turned in hotels

(ANSA) — Rome — Italy is replete with fabulous, medieval castles turned hotels.

A top 10 has been compiled to give holidaymakers some pointers on which they might want to head for first. Five of the monuments in the ranking, produced by on the basis of customer ratings, are in Tuscany with the gold medal going to Castelletto di Montebenichi, in the heart of the Chianti wine region. Built on a hilltop overlooking the hamlet of Montebenichi, halfway between Arezzo and Siena, it is an excellent starting point for discovering the area’s art, nature and gastronomy. From Montebenichi, the Chianti road winds through woods, apple orchards and olive groves, vineyards, medieval villages and more imposing forts. Southwest lies Montalcino, birthplace of the world-famous Brunello wines, and southeast is Montepulciano, renowned for its Vino Nobile. Also near Montebenichi are the so-called Crete Senesi territories, whose distinctive clay soil creates extraordinary landscapes often described as lunar. Here lies the tiny spa town of Rapolano, whose sulphur-calcium hot springs come out of the ground at 38°C. Florence, Perugia, Orvieto and Assisi are an hour’s drive away, while Siena and Arezzo can be reached in under 30 minutes.

Other towns rich with jewels of Renaissance and medieval art and architecture such as Cortona, Pienza and San Gimignano are all within easy reach too. The hotel itself, which dates back to the 12th century, is a treasure trove of art, including historic paintings, drawings and frescoes, as well as Greek, Roman and Etruscan terracotta sculptures, bronzes and ceramics.

The castle’s large private park, which merges with the gently sloping Tuscan hills, contains a panoramic swimming pool with a small sauna, as well as a gym with a jacuzzi mini-pool.

The Castello di Spaltenna, located in the village of Gaiole in Chianti, is ranked second. A fortified monastery with a cloister and a bell tower dating from around 1000 AD, it is a splendid example of medieval architecture. Surrounded by vineyards and woods, its grassy terraces overlook an idyllic valley in the heart of Chianti. Its restaurant offers tradition cuisine and a large selection of local and national wines. Facilities include a heated indoor swimming pool for winter and an outdoor one with a waterfall, both with views of the surrounding countryside. There is also a Turkish bath, sauna, gym, spa and tennis courts, while horseback riding and golf facilities are available nearby. Just 20 minutes away from Siena, less than an hour from Florence and a few minutes away from small towns such as Radda, Panzano and Greve, the Castello di Spaltenna is ideally located for wine-tasting excursions as well as exploring nearby churches and abbeys. The hotel offers a variety of special packages, focusing on passions such as health and fitness, wine and food, biking, trekking and horseback riding. Also in Tuscany are the Castello di Tornano, which is situated in an 11th-century hamlet, and the Castello di Gargonza, which is part of a 13th-century fortified village in the lovely Val di Chiana, and where the poet Dante Alighieri once stayed in 1303. Palazzo Guadagni, in the heart of Florence, is a Renaissance manor with views over the city and the surrounding hills. The Abruzzo region is represented in the ranking with the Castello Chiaiola. Also ranked are the Castello dell’Oscano in Umbria, Liguria’s Grand Hotel dei Castelli, Lombardy’s 18th-century Castello del Belvedere, which overlooks Lake Garda, and Castello Orsini near Rome.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: London 2012: A Passport to Mayhem

by Philip Johnston

The unacceptable queues in our arrivals halls at Heathrow Airport are symptomatic of a chaotic security policy.

There can be few things more irritating than arriving home after a 12-hour flight, laden with children and luggage, only to find the immigration hall at the airport heaving with passengers waiting to get through passport control. When it becomes clear that there are too few border staff manning the desks, irritation can turn to anger. And if it is bad for UK arrivals, imagine the teeth-gnashing frustration felt by non-EU travellers, who are subject to much more rigorous scrutiny. What a great way to start a holiday. At Heathrow’s Terminal 5 last week, thousands of travellers waited for two hours or more for clearance, and extra police were drafted in after a group of Americans started shouting at staff. One frustrated Spanish passenger barged through passport control, only to be intercepted by counter-terrorism officers. Nor is the problem confined to Heathrow. At Birmingham airport last month, about 20 passengers stormed border control after a two-hour wait. One witness described how holidaymakers made “a dash for it, pushing Border Force staff aside… There were scuffles, people being knocked to the ground, and then resignation from the powers that be, who stepped aside to let the crowd through.”

Stephen Barnett from Kent, a regular airline traveller, told the BBC he often queued for two hours to get back into the country. “This issue has been worsening for months,” he said. “Last week it was utter bedlam… Three positions were manned on the EU section, out of 15. It is a national disgrace.” Understandably, the airlines and British Airports Authority, which runs Heathrow, have been anxious to dump the blame on the Border Force. BAA staff handed out leaflets to people in the queues last weekend urging them to complain — thereby inviting the wrath of officials who accused the operator of inflaming the situation. The Home Office thinks that these scenes are a sign of vigilance; as Damian Green, the immigration minister, told MPs on Monday, “security of our borders is the first priority”. By yesterday morning, however, with Willie Walsh of BA, among others, accusing ministers of complacency, the penny finally dropped at No 10. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was summoned to Downing Street to explain herself, and Damian Green headed to Heathrow to see for himself what was going on. In the meantime, more Border Force staff were dispatched from around the country to help out, and greater flexibility is being introduced into the rosters to ensure peak times are properly covered.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Profiling Travellers Will Speed Up the Queues at Heathrow

by Ed West

So the Government has finally come up with an answer to Britain’s immigration problem: they’ve made it impossible to get through Heathrow. With any luck the teaming masses will give up or starve to death in passport control. But however absurd the Government’s excuse of blaming the rain might appear, it’s scarcely more farcical than the air of unreality that hangs around airport security and passport control generally. For part of the reason for the chaos is that the Home Office has stopped border staff from using “their initiative about who and who not to check and to what level” so that “border officers would not carry out detailed checks on obviously non-threatening groups, such as school parties”. Sheer idiocy, or terrified of being accused of “profiling”? If it’s the latter, it shows to what extents people will travel (or in this case, queue) to maintain politically correct fictions. Sam Harris had a piece over the weekend on a similar subject in which he wrote:

Much has been written about how insulting and depressing it is, more than a decade after the events of 9/11, to be met by “security theater” at our nation’s airports. The current system appears so inane that one hopes it really is a sham, concealing more-ingenious intrusions into our privacy. The spirit of political correctness hangs over the whole enterprise like the Angel of Death—indeed, more closely than death, or than the actual fear of terrorism. And political correctness requires that TSA employees direct the spotlight of their attention at random—or appear to do so—while making rote use of irrational procedures and dubious technology.

Harris links to some appalling videos on YouTube, and the site has certainly helped to stoke public indignity about airline security in the States.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Vote 2012: ‘Alienated’ Muslims Urged to Use Right to Vote

A lot of Muslims “feel alienated from the political process”, according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). That has led some to opt not to vote in past elections. But now the MCB, which represents more than 500 Islamic organisations in Britain, has been encouraging Muslims to vote ahead of the local elections on Thursday. Talha Ahmad, chair of its membership committee, said: “Political awareness is very low.” He wants Muslims in England to use their right to vote, but feels that political parties in the past have not helped themselves either.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Ukraine Boycott Calls Meet With Skepticism

Should politicians boycott European Football Championship games to be held in Ukraine? Should those games be moved to another country? German politicians are up in arms about the treatment of imprisoned former opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. But their calls to action, say German commentators, are not always helpful.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Violent Tradition: Mini-Riots in Berlin Mar May 1 Demonstrations

May 1 celebrations in Berlin were once again marred by violence, as protesters lobbed rocks, bottles and fireworks at police on Tuesday evening. The mini-riots, however, were small compared to previous years and marked the continuation of a recent peaceful trend.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Wilders Wants Netherlands Out of EU

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders thinks the Netherlands should leave the European Union. He has advocated leaving the eurozone before, which comes down to the same thing as countries that drop the euro cannot remain a member of the European Union.

Speaking in New York where he is promoting his book “Marked for Death”, he said: “We can become a member of the European Economic Area EEA like Norway or of the European Trade Association ETA like Switzerland so that keep the economic advantage. By no longer being a member of the EU and the eurozone, we determine our own rules, like who comes into the country, immigration and have our own currency.”

His words come as the Netherlands prepares for a parliamentary election on 12 September, after he withdrew his party’s parliamentary support for the minority VVD-Christian Democrat government just over a week ago. This led to the fall of the Dutch government after seven weeks of negotiations in which the three parties failed to agree on new austerity measures.

National sovereignty is set to be the main theme of his campaign. “Without it we cannot defend our identity and fight against Islamisation,” he said.

In the Freedom Party’s last election manifesto in 2010, Mr Wilders did not call for the Netherlands to leave the EU, but he did want to get rid of the European Parliament. In spite of this the party fielded candidates in the European Parliament elections.

Earlier today, Mr Wilders dismissed rumours he is planning to leave the Netherlands to live in the United States.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Germany to Extend Troops’ Kosovo Mission

German government has approved an extension of the Bundeswehr’s mandate in Kosovo for a further year. Germany has had peacekeepers in the former Serbian province for the past 13 years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Macedonia: Radical Muslim Group Involved in Macedonia Murders Arrested

SKOPJE — Macedonian police announced Tuesday that they arrested 20 radical Muslims, suspected to be members of a terrorist group which has been linked to the murder of five Macedonians in early April. “The ministry of the interior found the perpetrators of the horrific killings at Smilkovsko lake” near Skopje, Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska told a press conference. Twenty radical Muslims, mostly Macedonian citizens, some of whom had been “fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan against NATO soldiers”, were arrested. They were nabbed on Monday after a massive security operation involving some 800 police officers and other interior ministry officials. The minister described the suspects as “Skopje followers of radical Islam” but did not reveal their names or ethnicity. “Among those 20 people a few are directly involved in the horrific killings and for some we do not have details,” Jankulovska said. On April 12 five men, one 45 years old and the others aged between 18 and 22, were found dead from gunshot wounds at a popular fishing pond near Skopje.

“The interior ministry will file terrorism charges against them,” she added, explaining that their motive was “to incite fear and insecurity”. The authorities said they seized weapons and radical Islamic literature.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Salafis Sit-in Attacked, Deaths and Over 100 Injured

At least 7 killed; armed groups attack at dawn

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — At least 7 protestors were killed and over 100 injured in the clashes this morning in Cairo, when armed groups attacked a sit-in of Salafis near the Defence Ministry, according to the BBC. The state-run TV reported that the clashes occurred between demonstrators who had been taking part in a sit-in since Friday in front of the Defence Ministry and unidentified attackers. In reality, other clashes had previously occurred over the past few days, sparked by the ‘baltageya’, petty criminals almost always paid by private individuals or even the police to spark public disorder.

Salafis (ultra-conservative Islamists) are demanding above all that the military council step down, which has been in power since Hosni Mubarak was ousted on February 11 2011, and that its members be put on trial for the “crimes committed” since it took the reins the country. A similar demand has been made as concerns the members of the election commission, as well as the resignation of the government under Kamal El Ganzouri.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: At Least 20 Died in Clashes, Hospital Sources

Armed groups attack Salafite sit-in, 11 official casualties

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — At least 20 people died during the clashes having occurred earlier this morning in front of the Defence Ministry in Cairo, according to reports by hospital sources. Also Dubai’s TV Al Arabiya reported that 20 people died, although figures were not confirmed by any non-official sources.

According to official figures provided by sources related to the Ministries of Healthcare and Defence, there were 11 casualties in total. However, the number of victims will probably increase: over 100 people were injured and many people were taken to the city’s hospitals in serious conditions.

The clashes took place this morning, when armed groups attacked a sit-in by Salafis near the Defence Ministry which had begun last Friday. According to Egypt’s state TV, after several hours some army and police troops succeeded in putting an end to the clashes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Egypt:11 Killed in Attack on Cairo Anti-Junta Protesters

At least 11 people have been killed in an attack in Cairo on people protesting against Egyptian military rule. Dozens of demonstrators were injured. The unidentified attackers wielded clubs, rocks and firebombs, beating some of the hundreds of protesters gathered outside of Egypt’s defense ministry in a dawn assault, officials said. Reports said at least 11 people had been killed and 50 injured.

The demonstrators were part of an open-ended protest that started last week against military rule. Many of them were supporters of Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, an ultra-conservative Islamist who was barred from running in upcoming presidential elections because his mother has dual US-Egyptian citizenship.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Islamists Demand 45 Mln Euros for Hostages

An Al-Qaeda splinter group wants a total of 45 million euros in ransoms for two European women aid workers and seven Algerian diplomats taken hostage, the group’s spokesman said Wednesday.

The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) spokesman Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui gave the figures in reply to a written question submitted by AFP.

He said MUJAO was demanding 30 million euros ($40 million) for the two women, an Italian and a Spaniard, kidnapped in October along with a Spanish man while working in a camp for Western Sahara refugees in Tindouf in western Algeria.

The Algerians were abducted on April 5 in Gao, northeast Mali, as Islamist and Tuareg separatist groups overran the north of the country in the wake of a military coup in the capital Bamako.

Sahraoui said his group demanded 15 million euros for the diplomats, who included the Algerian consul in Gao, and the release of prisoners held by Algeria, threatening an attack otherwise. MUJAO warned on Sunday that the Algerians’ lives were in danger, saying negotiations with Algiers had broken down.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Kidnapped Italian and Spanish Aid Workers, Ransom Demand

MUJAO wants 30 mln euros for them and 15 for Algerian diplomats

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 2 — Thirty million euros is the price being asked for the release of Rossella Urru and her Spanish colleague Ainhoa Fernandez de Rincon.

On the same day that some Algerian dailies have remonstrated with surprising timing at the decision by militants of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in Western Africa (MUJAO) to kidnap seven diplomats from Algiers, a MUJAO spokesperson has dictated to France Presse the conditions for the release not only of the Algerian hostages, but of the Italian and Spanish aid workers who were kidnapped on October 23 from a Saharawi camp. The conditions are tough ones: over thirty million euros to free Rossella and Ainhoa and a further fifteen for the Algerian Consulate General di Gao and his seven officials. In the case of the Italian and Spanish aid workers, who were working for two separate NGOs in the Western Sahara, the request reverses recent optimism that progress was being made in secret negotiations under cover of a total news blackout. The huge ransom demanded will come as a reverse to negotiations and lengthen the process. There is no mention of a third hostage, Spanish aid worker Enric Gonyacons, adding a further element of uncertainty.

Nothing is known of where the hostages are being held. The motives behind MUJAO’s demands for the release of the seven Algerian diplomats are evident: as well as the money, the freeing of many Islamic militants held in Algeria and in Mauritania is also being demanded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Solidarity With Blogger Lina Ben Mhenni, Terzi

After attack by three policemen in Tunis

(ANSAmed) — ROME, 2 MAY — “My solidarity goes to Lina Ben Mhenni. Yopung and active peace and tolerance promoters are essential for the positive outcome of Tunisia’s transition process”. This is the solidarity message in English twitted by the Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi with regard to the attack against the Tunisian blogger which took place some days ago. Mhenni reported to L’Espresso that she was brutally beaten by three policemen in a bar in central Tunis; the three policemen also allegedly tried to rape her.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

6 Reserve Army Battalions to Egypt, Syria Borders

(AGI) Jerusalem — The Israeli government has called up six reserve army battalions under emergency orders to meet growing threat on the Egyptian and Syrian borders. the news was reported by the Times of Israel website adding that the Knesset authorized the army to call up, in case they are needed, another 16 battalions for a total of 22 battalions.

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

Dexia Israel Offered to Discount Bank

Discount Bank has yet to respond to the offer but market sources believe that it will not make an offer to purchase.

Troubled European bank Dexia Group continues to look for a buyer for its Israeli subsidiary Dexia Israel (Public Finance) Ltd. (TASE:DXIL). Sources inform “Globes” that various bodies have recently contacted senior Discount Bank executives and offered for them to buy Dexia Israel. They describe the offer as a “window of opportunity,” after talks between Dexia and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank (TASE:MZTF) were broken off, and after Dexia rejected an offer from Bank of Jerusalem (TASE: JBNK).

In the past, Discount Bank has shown interest in buying Dexia Israel and at the end of 2010 even issued a letter of intent on the matter. Dexia declined to comment on this latest report.

Discount Bank has yet to respond to the offer but market sources believe that it will not make an offer to purchase. The problem is not the price, which is expected to be around Dexia’s market cap, but rather the management effort that will be required for the acquisition and to merge and integrate Dexia’s activities into Discount’s activities. There is also a doubt as to whether buying Dexia’s is in line Discount Bank’s new strategy, while management is dealing with a major early retirement program, and merging the activities of Discount Mortgage Bank with the main bank.

Theoretically, Dexia has a major advantage in that it only handles municipal credit and has an exceptional concentration of credit, and it will be required to hold particularly high capital adequacy of 18%, giving it a significant capital surplus. Thus the bank buying it will receive a capital surplus for its use.

However, a check carried out by Discount Bank found that the capital surplus will not be expressed until a full merger between Discount and Dexia is completed — a process that would take several years.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Israel Police: Unemployed African Refugees Turning Tel Aviv Beaches Into High Crime Spots

Authorities attribute thefts to increase in number of refugees who have come to the city this year, and lack of employment opportunities.

Youth gangs from the community of Sudanese and Eritrean refugees have in recent weeks been swamping Tel Aviv beaches and stealing bathers’ belongings, according to police. Most of the thefts have occurred on Tel Aviv’s major beaches. Authorities attribute the thefts to the increase in the number of refugees who have come to the city this year, and the lack of employment opportunities for them. Police say the stolen goods and money are sufficient for a day’s existence; they expect more such incidents to occur.

Eritrean and Sudanese refugees start arriving at the beach at noon, say police, especially to the strip between Jerusalem Beach and Mezizim/Peepers’ Beach. Some try to find day-labor jobs in the morning, but some who fail allegedly try to earn their daily keep by preying on beach-goers instead.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

May 1: Israel Military Radio Holds ‘Party’ For Trotsky

Blues, beer, ‘Bella Ciao’ and smattering of Bolshevism

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV — In honour of May 1, hundreds of Israelis crowded into a Tel Aviv club where, on the initiative of the Israeli military radio, an evening was held in honour of the Russian philosopher and revolutionary Leon Trotsky. While blues alternated with Russian revolutionary songs from loudspeakers and waiters poured up mugs of beer, screens showed archival images of the theoretician of permanent revolution: from the political rise of Russia at the beginning of the past century to his exile in Russia and assassination by a Stalinist hit man in 1940. Made up of professional journalists and conscripts, the Israeli military radio answers to the Defence Ministry but often allows for expressions of anti-conformism. Yesterday, at the entrance to the locale, soldiers in uniform were seen with red, revolutionary-style pins in front of posters with Trotsky’s face printed expressly for this occasion by the Israeli Armed Forces magazine Bamahane. For two hours (broadcast live across the country), university professors, folk singers and actors took turns recalling the revolutionary born into a middle-class Jewish family as Aryeh Ben-David Bronstein.

The myth was reconstructed step by step: from the exhausting escape from a Siberian detention camp (1907) to his becoming commander of the Red Army. And then, after exile, his courageous speaking out against Stalinism. And so it was learned that during his time in Mexico Trotsky received Labour representative Bebe Edelson who advised him in vain to move to Tel Aviv, then under the British Mandate. In reality, Trotskyism never actually got to Israel, except for at the beginning of the 1970s when (in the wake of student uprisings in Europe) the small revolutionary group Mazpen was formed, which seems to have since been definitively dissolved.

And so it is therefore highly unlikely that the evening organised by the inventive journalist-popularizer Eran Sabag will have any direct impact on Israel’s political sphere. The commander of the military radio, political journalist Yaron Dekel, told ANSAmed that no one had objected in even the slightest way to the evening in Trotsky’s honour. He went on to quote Plato, adding “there is only one negative things, and that is ignorance. And there is only one positive things: knowledge.” His broadcaster will therefore be holding other similar events in the event, he said, while the radio ended the evening on the notes of the “Red Flag” and “Bella Ciao”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Jordan Weighs Two Offers to Build Nuclear Plant

Energy-poor Jordan said on Sunday a Russian firm and a French-Japanese consortium are to compete to build the kingdom’s first nuclear plant.

“Following a thorough examination, the offers provided by Russia’s Atomstroyexport and a consortium by France’s Areva and Japan’s Mitsubishi were the best proposals that meet Jordan’s requirements,” Atomic Energy Commission said in a statement.

“Talks with these companies will continue to address some technical issues, including the exact location of the plant,” it added, according to state-run Petra news agency.

“The evaluation took into account the highest safety requirements, including lessons from the Fukushima event,” it said.

The Fukushima plant, 220 kilometres (135 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was crippled by meltdowns and explosions caused by Japan’s 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Concerns in Jordan have grown since the Japanese disaster, but the kingdom says it needs nuclear technology to meet growing energy demands and to desalinate water.

Jordan, which imports 95 percent of its energy needs, is one of the five driest countries in the world.

It has expressed concerns that cut-offs in unstable Egyptian gas supplies, which normally covers 80 percent of Jordan electricity production, could cost Amman more than $2 billion this year.

Since 2011, the pipeline supplying gas from Egypt to both Israel and the kingdom has been attacked 14 times.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Syria: ‘Hit by Extremists’, Pro-Regime Victims Talking

Military and civilians in hospital, ‘foreign conspiracy’

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS — “We were attacked by groups of extremists who want to destroy Syria, only because we were wearing this uniform.” All Syrian troops in the Tishrin (October) Hospital in Damascus repeat the same protest.

Not only the military, nearly everybody in the hospital, from directors to doctors and injured civilians, is convinced that the situation in the country is the result of “a conspiracy hatched” by foreign countries rather than a spontaneous uprising against President Bashar al Assad.

Around 800 people are currently patient in Tishrin, one of the largest military hospitals in the Middle East with 1200 beds, of whom “just over one hundred are soldiers,” a department head who prefers to remain anonymous for safety reasons explains. The source points out that — despite the UN-imposed cease-fire that came into force on April 12 — “15 injured people arrive in Tishrin each day” due to the ongoing clashes. According to the director, also serviceman, there is only one reason for this: “Terrorism has infiltrated Syria.

Extremists are controlling us, they find us and then attack us.

How do they do that? Clearly they have the right instruments.” This point of view is exactly the view that has been expressed by the Syrian authorities for months. Everyone in the hospital, military and civilian, has a story to tell. Soldier Walid was “attacked and thrown into a ditch” on the outskirts of Damascus while he was on patrol a few days ago. Colonel Hasan Jafar, whose right arm had to be amputated, says that he was “attacked by a group of 300 people” in Deraa, in the south of the country, during the clashes of “April 25” in which “six” military causalities were counted. And the manager of a telephony store in Damascus tells that he was “attacked by a group” of demonstrators “only because I refused to join the march, while I’m not part of the regime”, the young Syrian man says. In some cases the situation is described by patients in Tishrin without words. One of them was seriously wounded and was given morphine, no longer able to talk. One deceased person arrives at the hospital in a coffin with the Syrian flag draped on top of it. The victim is the 22-year-old Mohamed Al Falad, one of the people who were killed in the attack of April 30 in Idlib in which 9 military died. At his arrival, a wreath of flowers was placed at the entrance of the mortuary while relatives and friends, heartbroken, rush to the coffin, barely restrained by the present nurses.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Ankara Preparing New Constitution With Less Power in the Hands of the Military

A multiparty parliamentary committee is set to draft a constitutional proposal with input from civil society groups. Erdogan threatens a referendum if the new charter is not adopted by parliament before the end of the year.

Istanbul (AsiaNews/Agencies) — A parliamentary committee in Turkey is due to start work on the country’s first fully civilian constitution. The new, more democratic charter will replace the existing one, which was drawn up 30 years ago.

The old constitution gave great powers to the military, curbed individual rights and largely ignored the country’s minorities, including the Kurds.

The multi-party committee is expected to complete its draft proposal by the end of the year. To that end, there have been meetings across Turkey with civil society groups encouraged to contribute their views.

The new constitution should also open the way to the legal recognition of non-Muslim minorities like the Catholic Church.

Before taking this step, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (pictured) changed the top leaders of the armed forces and has had charges brought against military leaders accused of preparing a coup.

If a consensus on the constitution proves impossible in parliament, Mr Erdogan has threatened to push the issue through by means of a referendum.

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

Turkey: Turkish Beauty Mag Ties Muslim Veil to Glamour

ISTANBUL — Can the Muslim headscarf be synonymous with glamour? Turkey’s first fashion magazine for conservative Islamic women looks set to win the challenge. In less than a year since it was launched last June, the monthly Ala — meaning “beauty” — has become a mainstream glossy. With a circulation of 20,000, it is only slightly behind the Turkish versions of Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Elle magazines. Ala’s pages are splashed with models reflecting a conservative Islamic style, all wearing headscarves and long dresses, with their arms and necks covered. Ala’s editor, 24-year-old Hulya Aslan, has first-hand experience with Turkey’s headscarf troubles. Because she insisted on wearing one, she had to give up a university education, instead finding work at a bank. “Now there is normalisation, an improvement. Now our veiled comrades can enter university and have more professional opportunities,” she told AFP. “For the last five or six years we can say we have turned the corner.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UAE: Jail Term for Mosque Slur Engineer Replaced by Fine

ABU DHABI // The punishment for an engineer who insulted Islam by saying “damn mosques” during a work meeting was today downgraded from a one-month suspended jail term to a Dh5,000 fine. The Appeals Court was considering the case of the Briton JM for the second time after the Court of Cassation ruled its first hearing was invalid due to the lack of a translator. JM, who worked in the parks and recreation section at Abu Dhabi Municipality, was in charge of project to build gardens around mosques. A colleague reported him after a meeting in which he asked: “When will we be finished with the damn mosques?” He was sentenced to a month in jail by the Misdemeanour Court. During his first trial at the Appeals Court he said he had not meant the words as an insult. “I said it out of concern for the project because I wanted to be ready as soon as possible,” he said. When he returned to the Appeals Court for a second trial, his lawyer asked the court translator to look up the word ‘damn’ in the Oxford English Dictionary. “The first meaning for the word damned says: ‘according to Christianity a damned (person) is someone who God is angered with forever,” read out the translator. “The second meaning says damn can be used for strong criticism in an unofficial way and is a way of expressing anger.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Chechen Women in Mortal Fear as President Backs Islamic Honor Killings

Chechnya’s government is openly approving of families that kill female relatives who violate their sense of honor, as this Russian republic embraces a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam after decades of religious suppression under Soviet rule.

In the past five years, the bodies of dozens of young Chechen women have been found dumped in woods, abandoned in alleys and left along roads in the capital, Grozny, and neighboring villages.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov publicly announced that the dead women had “loose morals” and were rightfully shot by male relatives. He went on to describe women as the property of their husbands, and said their main role is to bear children.

“If a woman runs around and if a man runs around with her, both of them should be killed,” said Mr. Kadyrov, who often has stated his goal of making Chechnya “more Islamic than the Islamists.” In today’s Chechnya, alcohol is all but banned, Islamic dress codes are enforced and polygamous marriages are supported by the government.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

A Year After Bin Laden’s Death, US-Pakistani Ties Still Difficult

The killing of bin Laden triggered a serious, albeit temporary, crisis in US-Pakistani relations. But more importantly, it redefined the relationship between the Pakistani civilian government and the military.

The killing of Osama bin Laden caused the greatest crisis in US-Pakistan relations in memory. It is possible that the US special operation had an even worse effect on Pakistan’s domestic politics because it made clear that despite the denial of the military’s powerful spy agency, ISI, the al Qaeda chief had been hiding in Pakistan for years.

The attack was a humiliation for Pakistani politicians who had been swearing to Washington for years that bin Laden was definitely not in Pakistan. Beyond that, it made the country’s civilian government realize that the all-mighty ISI, or at least part of its leadership, knew that bin Laden had been hiding out in the garrison town of Abbottabad.

Iqbal Haider, former law minister under Benazir Bhutto, told DW that bin Laden was hiding out in Pakistan because there was no doubt that “the Pakistani establishment, if not the whole of it, are totally devoted to (protecting) extremists. The very fact that few days ago the Taliban attacked the Banu jail, would not be possible without the support and patronage of influential forces in Pakistan.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: Obama Vows to ‘Finish the Job’ In Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — President Barack Obama marked the first anniversary of the death of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden with an unannounced trip to Afghanistan where he reiterated that U.S. troops will not remain in the country “a single day longer” than necessary. Obama said he remains committed to pulling 23,000 troops out of the country by the end of summer and sticking to the 2014 deadline to turn security fully over to the Afghan government. He said that NATO will set a goal this month for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations next year. “We will not build permanent bases in this country, nor will we be patrolling its cities and mountains,” the president said during a speech at Bagram Air Base early Wednesday. “That will be the job of the Afghan people.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: Obama’s Midnight Dash to Kabul Shows That He Dare Not Visit the Place in Daylight

If ever there was an image to convey the limits of the UK-US success in Afghanistan, it was the way that Barack Obama, the Commander-in-Chief of the liberating, Taliban-scattering forces was forced to skulk into Kabul last night under the cover of darkness. Not for Mr Obama a ticker-tape parade as he entered the Afghan capital for the ceremonial signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement that will underpin Coalition support to Afghanistan for a decade after 2014. Instead, after landing at Bagram Airbase just after 10pm local time, there was a low-level, cover-of-darkness of helicopter insertion to the Presidential Palace where the ten-page deal (which contains no specifics on funding or troop levels) was signed around midnight.

So secret was the visit that the White House spent the day frantically — and somewhat comically — trying to plug leaks of Obama’s imminent arrival emanating from Kabul; yet another example of seamless co-operation between Afghan and Coalition security forces. After the signing, there was just time for Mr Obama to duck into hangar and make a rousing address to the poor troops who must daily wonder which direction enemy fire is coming from, before making an address to the nation. This was, of course, another perfect excuse for the President to remind everyone of his heroic decisions in the Situation Room a year ago. Mr Obama tried to make a virtue out of absurdity, referring to a “new light” breaking on the horizon for Afghanistan, even as he gestured to the “pre-dawn darkness” in which he was speaking, but even Mr Obama oratorical skills couldn’t disguise the tail-between-the-legs ‘optics’ of the event. It was terrible.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Photo Exhibition Displays the Integration of Islam in Germany

An exhibition of photographs of mosques and Muslims in Germany was held at the Grand City Surabaya from the 28th of April until the 13th of May.


Indonesia and Germany is different from 180 degrees. In Indonesia, Muslims are the majority. While in Germany, Islam is a minority religion. There were only 4 percent, the third religious community held in Germany after the Catholic and Christian. Even so, there are already three thousand mosques and mosque stands in Germany. A number of major cities such as Stuttgart in Germany are still resistant to the Muslims. However, some areas or small towns in Germany have been very open to Muslims. Muslims are a minority and the majority of people can communicate and work well together. Portrait that is what Goethe Institute distributed to the people of Indonesia especially in Surabaya. Supported by the German Pensions and Yayasan Mitra Indonesia-Germany, an exhibition of photographs of mosques and Muslims in Germany was held at the Grand City Surabaya from 28 April until May 13, 2011. According to Birgit Steffan, this exhibition is aimed to introduce German culture. Also shows that the majority of the people of Indonesia to the Muslims that Islam is quite acceptable in Germany. “I think this exhibition is very interesting to Indonesia. As in Indonesia, Muslims are the majority. While in Germany, Muslims were a minority,” says Birgit. The idea of ​​this photo exhibition has actually been sparked in 2008. After a conference of the building architecture in Germany, the Goethe Institute sent a photographer to photograph a number of mosque architecture in Germany. There are eight mosques in various atmosphere portrayed in 8 weeks.


[JP note: Allah ueber Alles, Jawohl!]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Myanmar Democracy Advocates Enter Parliament

Thirty-seven members of Myanmar’s opposition National League for Democracy have been sworn in as members of parliament after they dropped a dispute over the wording of their oath of office. Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in to office at Myanmar’s parliament on Wednesday along with more than three dozen of her party colleagues, after backing down on a request that the oath of office be modified.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Lahore Fort: Restricted Access the Price of Public Vandalism

Due to almost daily incidents of graffiti, officials from Pakistan’s Archaeology Department have decided to restrict the access of visitors to Lahore Fort. There are 20 guards on duty at a time and closed-circuit television cameras, but the fort receives some 6,000 visitors a day, and up to 100,000 on holidays. Laws are in place that make writing, scribbling, or engraving on a historical building an offense punishable with jail time and fines, but they have not been enforced by the police, and children are not taught the significance of the buildings in school.

“When we catch someone scribbling or scratching, we give him a wet cloth to undo the damage… Unfortunately, permanent ink permeates into white marble and cannot be erased easily. And scratching cannot be undone,” said Afzal Khan, deputy director of the Archaeology Department.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

President Obama Promises End to Afghanistan War

US President Barack Obama has made a surprise visit to Afghanistan’s capital, one year after Osama bin Laden was killed. In a televised address, he said the US could see “the light of a new day on the horizon.”

President Barack Obama’s seven-hour visit to Afghanistan was intended for the signing of a strategic partnership on future US-Afghan ties beyond 2014, White House officials said.

Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the long-term agreement, which reportedly outlines American military and financial support for Afghanistan beyond 2014, when NATO forces are due to end their combat mission. Full details of the deal have not yet emerged.

Shortly afterwards Obama delivered a televised speech from the Bagram airbase to Americans during their evening prime time, saying that they could see “the light of a new day on the horizon.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Srdja Trifkovic: Obama in Afghanistan

Addressing the nation on Tuesday from Bagram Air Base, President Barack Obama declared the advent of a new, post-war era in the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan. During his six-hour unannounced visit Obama signed an agreement with President Hamid Karzai that is supposed to define the role of the U.S. after the scheduled departure of American troops in 2014. The TV address—filled with contradictions, omissions, and half-truths—indicates that Obama is prepared to misrepresent the failed U.S. mission in Afghanistan as a success in order to help his reelection. An ad-hoc analysis follows, with the President’s words in italics.

“Today, I signed an historic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that defines a new kind of relationship between our countries—a future in which Afghans are responsible for the security of their nation, and we build an equal partnership between two sovereign states; a future in which the war ends, and a new chapter begins.”

Hundreds of agreements signed by U.S. presidents over the decades have been called “historic,” including several high-profile ones from the Cold War era—agreements involving serious partners in charge of serious countries—yet they are mostly long forgotten.

A generation from now the “Strategic Partnership Agreement” (SPA) signed by Presidents Obama and Karzai on May 1, 2012, will be forgotten, too. It may be vaguely remembered by a few historians specializing in the U.S. foreign policy in the early 21st century, and even then only for its sheer frivolity. The sole detail that matters is negative: the SPA does not commit the U.S. to the maintenance of any troop levels or funding after 2014; the pending exit will be conclusive. The rest is wishful thinking bordering on the surreal, including:…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

US Drone Strikes Are Likely to Increase Post 2014, Say Experts

In its first ever detailed account of the use of drone attacks to target militants, the US government has justified them as ‘legal’ and ‘ethical,’ something which is likely to get strong reactions from Islamabad.

On Monday, John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, defended the use of drone strikes by the US administration, and said the strikes were “in full accordance with the law.”

This is the first time a top US official has spoken about controversial drone strikes at length. Earlier this year, US President Barack Obama said the US was “judicious” in its use of the technology, however, he did not provide much detail about the strikes.

The use of unmanned aircraft to kill terrorists and militants in foreign countries has been a subject of legal debate in the US. In countries like Pakistan, where the United States frequently uses drones to target al Qaeda and Taliban militants, drone strikes are seen as a violation of the country’s sovereignty and security. The Pakistani government officially condemns drone strikes; however, many in Pakistan believe that Islamabad has covertly allowed Washington to carry out the strikes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

A Glimpse of North Korea: Travels in the Empire of Kim Jong Un

North Korea may have a new leader, but it still has many of the same old problems. Despite efforts to modernize the capital Pyongyang ahead of 100th birthday celebrations for Kim Il Sung, the country still suffers from shortages of food, electricity, heat and hope.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

China Seeks High-Tech Weapons, ‘Respect’ On EU Visit

BRUSSELS — China has highlighted access to arms technology and less criticism on human rights as two priorities on a visit to the EU capital by its new-leader-in-waiting, Li Keqiang.

The country’s ambassador to the EU, Wu Hailong, in a statement circulated to press ahead of Li’s arrival on Tuesday (2 May), said the two sides “must respect each other” and “properly handle and manage (their) differences” in order for relations to “prosper.”

For his part, Li in an op-ed in the Financial Times on 1 May noted they should “strive to build an equal partnership of mutual respect and trust.” He added that “relaxing control over high-tech exports is … conducive to strengthening China-EU economic ties.”

Human rights “differences” between China and the EU came to the foreground in recent days over the case of Chen Guangcheng. The blind activist last week fled house arrest and took shelter in the US embassy in China.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Korea’s ‘Jamming’ Capability Poses Fresh Threat to Seoul’s Security

In what appears to be a fresh row between the South and North Korea, Seoul has said electronic jamming signals from Pyongyang have affected more than 250 of its civilian flights. On Wednesdy, a South Korean official has accused North Korea of disrupting 252 civilian flights since Saturday by transmitting jamming signals. “We have confirmed the GPS (global positioning system) jamming signals have been stemming from the North,” said Lee Kyung-Woo, a deputy director at the state Korea Communications Commission.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Senator Caught in Muslim Slur Row

A MALAYSIAN newspaper has quoted independent senator Nick Xenophon as declaring Islam is a “criminal organisation”, after it misreported excerpts of a parliamentary speech in which the South Australian MP attacked the Church of Scientology.

The New Straits Times article quotes from Senator Xenophon’s 2009 speech — but substituted the word “Scientology” with “Islam”. As a result, it quoted Senator Xenophon as saying: “Islam is not a religious organisation. It is a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs.”

The Hansard transcript of Senator Xenophon’s speech shows he in fact said: “Scientology is not a religious organisation. It is a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs.”

The New Straits Times story — headed “Observer under scrutiny”, written by Roy See Wei Zhi and published on page six of yesterday’s newspaper and on the newspaper’s website — appeared three days after Senator Xenophon was teargassed during a demonstration for electoral reforms in central Kuala Lumpur…

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Motives Varied in Flare-Up of African Terrorism

Recent attacks in Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria suggest a rise in Islamic terrorism across Africa. But motivations behind the attacks are varied. Long-term problems, and not religion, could explain some of the attacks.

Terrorism was a grimly recurrent theme throughout Africa over the weekend and through Monday. Five people were shot dead at a farm in Ethiopia, a grenade attack killed one person and injured 15 others in a church in Kenya, and gunmen killed up to 20 Christian worshippers during a church service in Nigeria.

Ethiopia has seen conflicts between Christians and Muslims before. Authorities have arrested suspects in the farm shooting, but it remains unclear whether they were acting alone or on behalf of a political group.

No one has claimed responsibility for the Nigerian attack. However, radical Islamist sect Boko Haram is a leading suspect. The group has been linked to al-Qaeda and held responsible for similar attacks. Meanwhile in Kenya, authorities have blamed Somalia-based al Shebab Islamist militants for the church bombing. The group has a publicly claimed affiliation with al-Qaeda.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Africa, Saudi Arabia Deepen Ties

There is great potential for increased trade and investment between South Africa and Saudi Arabia, International Relations Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim said during a meeting with his counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdul-Aziz bin Abdullah, in Riyadh on the weekend.

Ebrahim, who is on a two-nation tour of the Middle East and Asia, said South Africa had significant investment interests in Saudi Arabia, through various companies in the engineering, hospitality, retail and health care industries.

Oil accounts for more than 90 percent of Saudi Arabia’s exports, and the kingdom is presently the largest supplier of crude oil to South Africa.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

EU Urges Bolivia to Compensate Spain Over Electricity Grab

The European Union condemned Bolivia’s decision to take control of a subsidiary of Spanish firm Red Electrica on Wednesday and urged for quick and adequate compensation for the move. “The European Commission is concerned by the Bolivian government’s decision to nationalise the Empresa Transportadora de Electricidad (TdE), owned by Red Electrica Internacional,” said the EU executive arm’s trade spokesman John Clancy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spanish Press Sees Dangers in Latin American Expropriations

The Spanish press nervously swallowed news of Bolivia’s takeover of electrical grid Red Electrica’s local assets, warning on Wednesday it could herald a dangerous trend in Latin America.

Although the takeover in Bolivia is far smaller than Argentina’s expropriation of the YPF subsidiary owned by Spanish oil giant Repsol, announced just 15 days earlier, newspapers demanded a strong reaction from Madrid and fair compensation.

They warned, too, that Bolivian President Evo Morales’s decision, coming so soon after Argentina snatched Repsol’s offshoot, could pose a threat to future investments in the region.

“The economic damage caused to the Spanish core company is far from comparable to that caused by Argentina to Repsol,” said the conservative daily ABC.

But “if Morales does not want to seriously damage his country’s reputation with possible investors it is essential that he fufills his word by taking into account the investments made by Red Electrica de Espana through its subsidary in the country and pays proper compensation,” it said.

Spain’s leading daily, the centre-left El Pais, said Morales’ decision was based on “untenable rhetoric” in terms of rational business or international law.

“Unfortunately, the idea is spreading in Latin America of financing charismatic regimes at the cost of expropriating property that is private or held by other countries,” El Pais said in an editorial.

The paper chastised Madrid’s reaction to Argentine President Cristina Kirchner’s earlier decision to take over the YPF assets belonging to Repsol in Argentina.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Aussies Asked to Take in Asylum Seekers and be Paid for it

THE federal government will pay families up to $300 a week to temporarily house asylum seekers in their homes to help deal with the increasing flood of arrivals.

With the Immigration Department now facing a potential shortage of community housing to accommodate detainees who are being released into the community, the government has turned to householders for help.

Under a plan slated to start next month, the government will seek to access the 5000 homes registered under the privately run Australian Homestay Network (AHN) to host asylum seekers released from detention on bridging visas.

AHN was originally established to provide short-term private home accommodation and board for international students.

The organisation, which first approached the federal government with the plan last year, began writing to its national client base three weeks ago seeking applications from home owners to house asylum seekers.

The Immigration Department confirmed it would pay for security vetting and training for families which want to take up the offer.

It will also pay a weekly stipend of between $220 and $300 to families to cover food and board for detainees. Almost 1000 detainees have been released into the community over the past two months, since the government’s change of policy last year to ease pressure on detention centres.

The high cost of the Community Placement Network plan is expected to be allocated from the existing detention centre funding, which will be revealed in next week’s budget.

The AHN, which was set up to accommodate international students for short periods in family homes, claimed the initial period of housing for asylum seekers would be for six weeks, but could be extended.

“The Community Placement Network is an initiative designed to provide short-term accommodation (for) eligible asylum seekers while they independently source longer term sustainable accommodation in the community,” AHN executive chairman David Bycroft said.

“The CPN is for people interested in assisting asylum seekers to live in the community on a bridging visa while awaiting the resolution of their immigration status. It is not for people interested in international student hosting.”

The Refugee Council of Australia has backed the plan, claiming it would allow more people to be released from detention and live in the community while their applications were processed…

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Greece: UNHCR Has Reservations on New Center

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 2 — The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Athens said on Tuesday that conditions at a new detention center for undocumented migrants that began operating in Amygdaleza, northwest of Greek capital, on Sunday, were better than those at similar facilities. Following a visit to the Amygdaleza site by a UNHCR delegation, the office issued a statement expressing its reservations about “the operation and effectiveness” of a total of 30 such centers authorities have pledged to build, noting that people entitled to asylum could end up detained. “What remains critical for UNHCR is the procedure, criteria and conditions of police operations leading to mass arrests of undocumented aliens,” the statement said, adding that migrants had limited access to asylum procedures.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Dalton McGuinty’s Anti-Bullying Partner Calls the “Bible Bull S—t”

Many people have asked the question, why is Dalton McGuinty attacking the Church and advocating a radical sex agenda with Bill 13? He comes from a large Catholic family of ten children and has four children of his own. The answer is complex; however one major force is his partner in the campaign, American gay activist Dan Savage, who is the creator of the “It Gets Better” project. After introducing Bill 13, the Premier released his promotional video “It Gets Better” in cooperation with Dan Savage.

Mr. Savage is at war against the Bible. He calls it “Bulls—t” and blames the Bible for causing homosexual suicide. He says in an interview on the CBC that “when mom and dad drag their kids to church, and what they hear from the pulpit is God hates fags… but their children listen to that and then go to school and there’s a gay kid in their school, …They’re going to bash him in the locker room, in the hallways, in the classroom.” Savage goes on to appeal to political leaders to stop the Church from causing the deaths of innocent young people.

Mr. Savage was the keynote speaker at the National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle April 13th. As students listened he said “We can learn to ignore the bulls—t in the Bible about gay people,” He pronounced, “the same way we have learned to ignore the bulls—t in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bulls—t in the Bible about all sorts of things.” A flood of students walked out in protest during Savage’s rant against the Bible; He called them “pansy a—es.” (See the video here)

[Return to headlines]


Monster Black Hole Caught Swallowing Unlucky Star

Call it a Cosmic Scene Investigation: For the first time, scientists have identified a stellar victim of a giant black hole — an unlucky star whose death may ultimately provide more clues on the inner workings of the enigmatic gravitational monster that devoured it.

Supermassive black holes are objects millions to billions times the sun’s mass that lurk in the hearts of most galaxies. They lay quietly until victims, such as stars, wander close enough to get shredded apart by their extraordinarily powerful gravitational pull.

Scientists first caught a black hole red-handed in a stellar murder last year. Now researchers have determined not only the culprit in a similar cosmic homicide but the casualty as well: a star rich in helium gas. “This is the first time we’ve actually been able to pinpoint what kind of star was disrupted,” study lead author Suvi Gezari, an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University, told

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


kimjongun said...

Why should the Australian government need to pay people to house immigrants. Surely the pro-immigrant liberals should welcome the opportunity to put their beliefs into action and accept these people for no finanacial reward.