Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120508

Financial Crisis
»Chinese Companies Discover the US
»Europe’s Left-Wing Turn Worries Markets
»‘Germans Won’t Pay for Greece’s Vacation From Reality’
»Greece: Farms Looking for Workers, But Greeks Don’t Respond
»Greek Vote Plunges Bailout, Euro Membership Into Doubt
»Hungary in Crisis: Viktor Orbán’s Dismal Mid-Term Review
»Italy: Monti Deflects Blame for Crisis Suicides
»New Documents Shine Light on Euro Birth Defects
»Political Chaos in Athens
»Spanish Bank Needs Up to €10bn
»The EU’s Black Holes
»A Fraudulent President for a Fraudulent System
»Attorney at KSM Trial’s Disrespectful Stunt
»DuPage Board to Vote on Mosque Near Bartlett
»Islam: Growing in Number, Changing in Image
»It’s All Your Money: Taxpayers May be on Hook for US Postal Service Losses
»Light From Alien Super-Earth Seen for 1st Time
»Machionne Must Decide How to Make Minivan Success Last
»Maurice Sendak: Author of ‘Where the Wild Things Are, ‘ Dies at 83
»‘Muslim Day’ At California Capitol Promotes Civic Engagement
»NASA Probe Gets Extended Stay at Huge Asteroid Vesta
»Norwalk Board to Begin Debating Mosque
»Obama: “2012 is Make or Break for American Marxism”
»Only Eyewitness to Breitbart’s Death Disappears
»Preparing for Massive Civil War, Re-Education Camps
»Richard G. Lugar Loses Republican Senate Primary in Indiana
»Ron Paul Wins Big in Nevada, Maine
»Secret Air Force X-37B Space Plane Mission a ‘Spectacular Success’
»‘Trayvon Amendment’ Would Deny Federal Funds to States That Allow Self-Defense
»Would the Media be Interested if Assad Set Up Re-Education Labor Camps for Political Dissidents?
Europe and the EU
»70,000 Italians Converted to Islam, UCOI
»Austria: Iraqi Man Arrested
»Britain is Shackled to the Corpse of Europe
»Britain’s Wind Power High Costs
»French President is Another Bilderberg Stooge
»Germany: Newsflash! Pro NRW Can Show Mohammed Caricatures in Cologne, Too!
»Germany: First Videos of Salafist Attacks in Solingen
»German Cartoon Riots: Clubs, Bottles and Stones
»Germany: Anti-Islam ‘Pro-NRW’ Provokes German Violence
»Germany: Neonazi-Salafi Clashes in Bonn, 30 Police Hurt
»Germany: Salafists and Right-Wing Populists Battle in Bonn
»Germany Accuses Islamist of Attempted Murder After Stabbings
»Italy: Pescara Police Keep Order After Football Fan Murder
»Italy: Witness Tells of Berlusconi ‘Sex Parties’
»Italy: Left-Wing, Grassroots Candidates Lead Local Italian Vote
»Italy Backs Turkey’s EU Bid
»Italy: Naples Businessman Shoots Himself in Head, Critical
»Netherlands:10 Years After Pim Fortuyn Was Murdered: What the Papers Say
»New Rules for Italian Judges
»Pragmatism Likely in Merkel-Hollande Relationship
»Radical Left and Neo-Nazis Score Well in Greek Elections
»Resisting Threat of Fanatical Islam: West Must Not Surrender Permanent Liberty for Temporary Tolerance
»UK: Bill for Abu Qatada Saga Hits £3m … and Guess Who’s Paying?
»UK: Grooming Gang Found Guilty: Nine Men Shared Girls Aged 13 to 15 for Sex and Raped One Up to Twenty Times a Day
»UK: Oxford Child Sex Trafficking Probe Widens as Number of ‘Victims’ Doubles to 50 Girls, Some as Young as 11
»UK: The Unspeakable v the Uneatable
»Ukraine Paper Sorry for Saying ‘Germany Like Third Reich’
»Ukrainian President Can’t Win Struggle With Tymoshenko
North Africa
»62.5% of Tunisians Are Practicing Muslims
»Algeria: Bomb Discovered Outside School
»Egypt: Jihadists Behind the Attack Against the Defence Ministry in Cairo
»Libya Funded Sarkozy’s Campaign, Belarusian Leader Says
Israel and the Palestinians
»Hamas Urges French President-Elect Hollande to Visit Gaza
»Israel’s Peace Disease
»Surprise Joint Netanyahu — Kadima Government
Middle East
»Bomber in Plot on U.S. Airliner Said to be a Double Agent
»Konya, Turkey: The Dance of the Devout
»Turkey Launches New Crackdown on Ex-Officers
»Work With Yemen Led to Bomb Discovery, Says Obama Adviser
»Yemen: US Thwarts Al Qaeda Airliner Bomb Plot, Officials Say
»Anti-Putin Demonstrators Cleared From Moscow Streets
»Putin Returns to the Kremlin
»Armenia: May 9: Day of Victory for Shoushi, 20 Years Ago
»Azerbaijan Sends Letter to UN Secretary General Over So-Called “Presidential Elections” In Nagorno-Karabakh
»Azerbaijan: Islamism in Azerbaijan
»Azerbaijani Leader Opens Baku Crystal Hall — Arena for Eurovision 2012 — Photos
South Asia
»Hillary Clinton Issues Stern Message to Pakistan
»Indonesia: Jakarta Tells Muslim Religious Leaders to Lower Volume of Minaret Loudspeakers
»Indonesia: Central Java: Islamic Extremists Attack Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary, Repelled by Police
»Pakistan: Saints and Singers in Pakistan’s Punjab
»Pakistan: Punjab Govt Takes Note of Illegal Mosque Construction
»Thai Man Jailed for Anti-Royalty Text Dies, Lawyer Says
»US Secretly Releasing Taliban Prisoners From Bagram Prison
Far East
»Al Jazeera Reporter Expelled From China
»Yuan Replacing More and More US Dollar as International Currency
Australia — Pacific
»$1.5 Million to Recognise Islamic Culture and Heritage
»Are Aussies Too Biased to Try This Muslim Man?
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Nigeria: Attack Foiled in Kano, Boko Haram Suspected
»Nigeria: Boko Haram Attacks Keep Children Out of School
Latin America
»Trade Chief Warns of Imminent Action Against Argentina
»Austria: Kurz Tackles Immigration at School Level
»Belgium’s Integration Problem
»‘Immigrant Kids Need More Schooling’: Sweden
»Netherlands: Get Rid of That ‘Allochtoon’ Word, Advisory Group Tells Government
»Second Arson Attack at Swiss Asylum Centre
»UNHCR: 81 Have Died in the Mediterranean in 2012
Culture Wars
»Fox News Won’t Fire Black Racist Commentator
»The Criminalization of America’s Schoolchildren
»The Psychology of Racism, Part 2
»Scientists Should ‘Cool it’ On Alien Life Claims, Biologist Says

Financial Crisis

Chinese Companies Discover the US

For years, industrial production has been moving to Asia. But the tide has started to turn. Amid the economic crisis and mass unemployment, investing in the USA has become increasingly attractive for Chinese companies.

South Carolina is not necessarily the first state German companies have in mind when they venture off to establish themselves in the United States. But in the past six years, 28 German companies have created around 5,600 jobs there.

The South has not only become a popular place for German companies. Chinese companies have also started catching on. Wages are low, as are utility prices such as that of electricity. It’s also an employer-friendly place. For these same reasons in the past, companies worldwide usually went to Asia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe’s Left-Wing Turn Worries Markets

With a Socialist president in France and a strong popular mandate in Greece for re-negotiating the terms of its bail-out, the German-driven focus on budget discipline in Europe may have to soften.

The euro traded at its lowest in three months on Asian markets Monday morning (7 May), down to $1.29 from $1.3 on Friday. It also fell against the Japanese yen from 104.5 on Friday to 103.4.

An investor note from the National Australia Bank spelled out the worries: “The Hollande win in France is not necessarily a surprise. However it brings home the reality that incumbents following the prescribed austerity measures are going to find it difficult to remain elected.” “What happens to these austerity measures now are what are weighing on (the euro),” the bank said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Germans Won’t Pay for Greece’s Vacation From Reality’

Greece’s election has brought a political sea change to the country, after bitter voters hammered established parties for supporting austerity measures in exchange for international bailouts. As Athens veers towards political chaos, German editorialists predict hard times ahead.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Farms Looking for Workers, But Greeks Don’t Respond

Ad for peach harvest, 5,000 Albanians and 19 Greeks reply

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 8 — In its government programme, the defeated PASOK party promised that Greece would return “to its origins” by relaunching its agricultural industry to generate jobs. A plan that would have been doomed to failure according to reports coming from the northern part of the country. A job offer in the sector, although temporary, was completely ignored by young Greeks, a segment of the population currently crushed by unemployment, while thousands of interested foreigners eagerly responded. Two weeks ago, the Young Farmers’ Union of Greece posted a job offer on the internet stating that farmers were looking for help with the peach harvest in the Imathia and Pella regions in central Macedonia (northern Greece). Unemployment figures in the area are dramatic, hitting 50% in Pella and 25% in Imathia. The job offer was for 6 days a week at 23 euros per day for 4 months out of the year, including room and board. Anyone who was interested simply had to send a text message to a number provided in the ad to express their interest. Nearly 5,000 people responded to the Union’s ad, with 4,885 Albanians (over the years these immigrants have mainly been employed in the agriculture and construction industries) and only 19 Greeks expressing interest, including a retired doctor and an unemployed engineer. “This year,” said Nikos Angelopoulos, the President of the Young Farmers’ Union of Imathia, while speaking to Protothema, a Greek weekly newspaper, “we were expecting significant interest from the Greek public due to the crisis and high unemployment levels. But it seems as though Greek people do not want to work in the agricultural industry. We know that this is hard work, but when you don’t have a job, you take the work that is available. To satisfy the requests we will probably hire foreign workers from nearby countries, Bulgaria, Albania and FYROM (Greece does not recognise the name Macedonia for the former Yugoslavian republic, editor’s note).” There are around 1,700 farmers in the Imathia region, who need about 5,000 workers for the peach harvest four months out of the year. The news came a few days after the Greek government announced that the unemployment level in the country rose to 22% for the first time.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greek Vote Plunges Bailout, Euro Membership Into Doubt

The rise of anti-bailout parties in Greece threw the country’s debt rescue into fresh doubt on Monday as markets wavered and European partners worried over revived risks of a eurozone exit.

“We see significant potential for a new Greek government to miss the next round of targets,” said economist Guillaume Menuet of Citi, referring to tough budget cuts and reforms agreed in exchange for 240 billion euros of international rescue funds. Menuet cited a sharply-raised, 75-percent “probability” of what he labelled “Grexit” within 12-18 months.

Pro-bailout mainstream parties on the right and left failed to secure a majority in parliament with a combined share of the vote of just 32.1 percent while far-left and far-right groups made enough gains to acquire significant bargaining power in talks to form a coalition.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was “of utmost importance” that Greece stick to the reform course agreed with its international backers, despite the votes of Greek citizens. In Berlin, she said: “At its core, the discussion is about not whether we need budget consolidation or growth — it is absolutely clear we need both,” she told reporters.

“Rather, I think the core of the debate lies in whether we need debt-financed stimulus programmes or whether we need growth measures that are sustainable and lead to an improvement of the economic strength of individual countries.”

European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said that the Brussels executive “hopes and expects that the future government of Greece will respect the engagements that Greece has entered into.” And EU economy commissioner Olli Rehn’s spokesman underlined that “solidarity is a two-way street.”

In Athens, Conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said the goal was to assemble “a national salvation government” that would “keep the country in the euro,” and “amend” the bailout terms.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Hungary in Crisis: Viktor Orbán’s Dismal Mid-Term Review

A political landslide brought Viktor Orbán into power in Hungary, where he quickly cemented his position with a two-thirds majority. But halfway through his term, the state of his administration is grim. The nation, deeply divided and on the brink of financial ruin, is being sidelined on the international stage.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Deflects Blame for Crisis Suicides

‘Blame who brought us here’

(ANSA) — Rome, May 8 — Premier Mario Monti said Tuesday that he was not to blame for the rising rate of suicides amid the economic crisis in Italy. “The human casualties should make us think about who brought the economy to this state and not who is trying to get us out of it,” he said. Monti’s emergency administration, which replaced Silvio Berlusconi’s in November, passed a tough package of spending cuts and tax hikes in December with the aim of putting Italy on course to balance the budget next year and take it out of the centre of the eurozone debt crisis.

Suicides amid the crisis and austerity measures are on the rise, mostly among indebted small-business owners and the unemployed. The premier came under fire last month from Antonio Di Pietro, the head of the Italy of Values anti-graft party, who said that the suicides were “on Monti’s conscience”. According to CGIA, an association of artisans and small-business owners, over 30 entrepreneurs have taken their own lives since the beginning of 2012, mostly due to the economic crisis.

The situation is worse for those without a job as nearly one unemployed person commits suicide everyday in Italy, the majority of whom are men, according to the Eures think tank.

A gathering of widows marched in Bologna Friday to honor the numerous Italians who have recently killed themselves, notably 58-year-old craftsman Giuseppe Campaniello who set himself on fire in front of a tax agency amid a fiscal dispute in March.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

New Documents Shine Light on Euro Birth Defects

Newly revealed German government documents reveal that many in Helmut Kohl’s Chancellery had deep doubts about a European common currency when it was introduced in 1998. First and foremost, experts pointed to Italy as being the euro’s weak link. The early shortcomings have yet to be corrected.

It was shortly before his departure to Brussels when the chancellor was overpowered by the sheer magnitude of the moment. Helmut Kohl said that the “weight of history” would become palpable on that weekend; the resolution to establish the monetary union, he said, was a reason for “joyful celebration.”

Soon afterwards, on May 2, 1998, Kohl and his counterparts reached a momentous decision. Eleven countries were to become part of the new European currency, including Germany, France, the Benelux countries — and Italy.

Now, 14 years later, the weight of history has indeed become extraordinary. But no one is in the mood to celebrate anymore. In fact, the mood was downright somber when current Chancellor Angela Merkel met with her Italian counterpart Mario Monti in Rome six weeks ago.

Even as the markets were already prematurely celebrating the end of the euro crisis, the chancellor warned: “Europe hasn’t turned the corner yet.” She also noted that new challenges would constantly emerge in the coming years. Her host conceded that his country had not even overcome the most critical phase yet, and that the fight to save the currency remained an “ongoing challenge.”

It didn’t take long for the two leaders’ concerns to prove justified. The Spanish economy has continued its decline, interest rates for southern European government bonds are rising once again, and election results in both France and Greece have shown that citizens are tired of austerity programs. In short, no one can be certain that the monetary union will survive in the long term.

Many of the euro’s problems can be traced to its birth defects. For political reasons, countries were included that weren’t ready at the time. Furthermore, a common currency cannot survive on the long term if it is not backed by a political union. Even as the euro was being born, many experts warned that currency union members didn’t belong together.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Political Chaos in Athens

Greek Parties Have Little Chance of Forming Government

There seems to be little chance of Greece’s political parties being able to form a viable coalition government after voters punished the two main parties in Sunday’s election. It’s a worst case scenario for the country’s European partners, whose whole approach to fighting the Greek debt crisis is now in question.

Now the worst case scenario has arrived: Greece threatens to become ungovernable. The situation after Sunday’s election in Greece looks hopeless. No matter which coalition of parties one calculates, whether big or small, left or right wing, it is impossible to come up with a viable majority government.

The Greeks have once again defied their international partners. They have not been cowed by threats, advice or even the prospect of their own bankruptcy. It’s unclear where this new twist in the endless Greek drama will take the country. For Greek voters, the priority was to punish those people who, in the eyes of most Greeks, are mainly to blame for the country’s misery: the politicians.

They are supposedly responsible for the steadily shrinking economy and the ever-increasing unemployment. They are blamed for declining salaries, pension cuts and the rapidly deteriorating standard of living. They are to blame for the fact that proud Greece is no longer viewed as an enviably beautiful island nation, but as a symbol of the European debt crisis. But it is highly debatable whether the rage that has now been vented will have a liberating effect in the long term.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spanish Bank Needs Up to €10bn

Rodrigo Rato, chairman of Spain’s Bankia, stepped down on Monday as the bank faces a possible €10 billion bail-out. Between €5 billion and €10 billion in a state-backed loan at a rate of near 8 percent may be used to rescue the bank, says Spanish newspaper El Pais.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The EU’s Black Holes

Saving the Euro Will Require Banking Sector Reform

As concerns about Spanish banks grow, leading economists are warning that Europe’s banking system urgently needs to be overhauled, otherwise the entire monetary union could be in jeopardy. The continent’s leaders missed their chance to reform the system in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and are now paying the price.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


A Fraudulent President for a Fraudulent System

Having Barack Hussein Obama II at the helm of the postmodern ship of state is perfectly fitting. Sometimes a country gets what it deserves. Sometimes it gets what fits.

Barack Obama is an abject fraud on almost every level. He is a vindictive ideologue who strolls among us as a smiling pop star. He is a hard-left collectivist who presents himself as Reaganesque. He is a domestic enemy of our Constitution who masquerades as a promoter of American values.

At a foundational level, it is ironically appropriate that the man who views our Constitution as a “deeply flawed” document does not qualify under it to hold the high office.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Attorney at KSM Trial’s Disrespectful Stunt

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

These people, and I use THAT term loosely, who plotted the 9-11 attacks, killed 3,000 people and wished they could have done more, can’t focus on their trial because some women in the court proceedings at GITMO are not covered up from head to toe in hijabs???

That is the case one of their defense attorneys is trying to make.

Cheryl Bormann, counsel for defendant Walid bin Attash went to last week’s circus of a court hearing in HER hijab and demanded the court ORDER all other women there to do the same so that her client would NOT have to avert his eyes, “for fear of committing a sin under their faith.”


Adding to the circus atmosphere of this trial…Bowman, the head defense CLOWN held her OWN press conference this morning where she stated, “If because of someone’s religious beliefs, they can’t focus when somebody in the courtroom is dressed in a particular way, I feel it is incumbent upon myself as a counsel to point that out and ask for some consideration from the prosecution. Suffice to say it was distracting to members of the accused.”


The “Religion” she seems so concerned with is one which treats women like garbage. It allows for them to be stoned to death for the crime of being raped. It allows for them to be “honor” killed for talking to a man. It allows for acid to be thrown in their faces.[photo]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

DuPage Board to Vote on Mosque Near Bartlett

DuPage County’s Board of Commissioners Tuesday will consider whether a house near west suburban Bartlett can be used as a mosque.

The petition to get land use approvals to allow the Islamic Center of Western Suburbs onto the single-family property has stoked controversy in that neighborhood for several years. Many neighbors and county officials have been concerned about whether the property can accommodate up to 30 people gathering at once, several times a day. ICWS is just one of several mosques that the Board has had to consider recently, but attorney Mark Daniel, who represents the petitioners, says this proposal has taken longer to win approval than the others. “It’s been in the zoning pipeline in one form or another for about four years,” said Daniel. County officials have been particularly concerned about whether the property’s septic tank and stormwater drain systems will be able to accommodate the more intensive use. There was also a delay in the zoning process because members of the congregation were using the house for worship gatherings before the space was legally zoned for that use. Daniel says that’s no longer the case.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Islam: Growing in Number, Changing in Image

The second largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam — founded in 622 A.D. — is also the fastest growing, embraced by about a quarter of the world’s population. “There are two factors that lead to the growth of Islam,” said Imam Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at the Islamic Center of Southern California. “One is a higher birth rate among Muslims, the second is through conversion.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

It’s All Your Money: Taxpayers May be on Hook for US Postal Service Losses

The U.S. Postal Service is often the butt of jokes, but there’s nothing funny about the agency’s bottom line. The USPS is losing up to $25 million dollars a day. Until now, taxpayers have not been on the hook for its mounting losses, but that could be about to change. A bailout recently approved by the Senate would appropriate $34 billion in federal money.

“If the post office was a business, it would be in bankruptcy,” said Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla. “It’s insolvent.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Light From Alien Super-Earth Seen for 1st Time

Light from an alien “super-Earth” twice the size of our own Earth has been detected by a NASA space telescope for the first time in what astronomers are calling a historic achievement. NASA’s infrared Spitzer Space Telescope spotted light from the alien planet 55 Cancri e, which orbits a star 41 light-years from Earth. A day on the extrasolar planet lasts just 18 hours.

The planet 55 Cancri e was first discovered in 2004 and is not a habitable world. Instead, it is known as a super-Earth because of its size: The world is about twice the width of Earth and is super-dense, with about eight times the mass of Earth. But until now, scientists have never managed to detect the infrared light from the super-Earth world.

“Spitzer has amazed us yet again,” said Spitzer program scientist Bill Danch of NASA headquarters in Washington in a statement today (May 8). “The spacecraft is pioneering the study of atmospheres of distant planets and paving the way for NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to apply a similar technique on potentially habitable planets.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Machionne Must Decide How to Make Minivan Success Last

Detroit/Turin, 3 May (AKI/Bloomberg) — Almost 30 years after the minivan was introduced, after attacks from all sides, Chrysler remains on top. Now, CEO Sergio Marchionne will have to decide how best to sustain the success.

So far, the moves made by Marchionne, who is preparing to merge Chrysler with majority owner Fiat, have paid off. The choice he faces now: whether to merge Chrysler’s two remaining minivans into one and whether to dramatically redesign one or both. Either way, Marchionne and his dealers are committed to Chrysler’s signature product.

“I don’t care if the minivan market shrinks as long as I’m King Kong in it,” Chuck Eddy, a Chrysler dealer in Austintown, Ohio, said in a phone interview. “That is Chrysler’s attitude, too. The minivan is here and the minivan won’t ever go away.”

Just four years after a 1979 government bailout, Chrysler chief executive officer Lee Iacocca introduced the Dodge Caravan, and minivans soon joined Ram pickups and Jeep sport- utility vehicles as the company’s most important product lines. To some extent, Chrysler created the minivan and the minivan saved the company.

Three decades later, Chrysler maintains its sales lead in minivans. It’s one of the longest runs atop a vehicle segment in the U.S., along with the 35-year pickup reign of Ford’s F-Series line. The long-lasting supremacy, along the lines of Coca-Cola and Kleenex, has made the minivan a symbol of the company.

“When people think Chrysler, is minivan a product that comes to mind? The answer is ‘absolutely,’ “ Alexander Edwards, president of the automotive practice at San Diego-based Strategic Vision, a marketing and branding company, said in a phone interview. “Most everybody that is in the minivan segment recognizes Chrysler as the creator.”

Onslaught of Entries

Chrysler has kept the title despite an onslaught of entries from Ford, Toyota, Honda and the predecessor of General Motors, Ford and GM eventually quit the segment, and Chrysler has claimed at least 40 percent of the US minivan market every year since 2007.

Marchionne is closing in on deciding whether Chrysler still needs two entries for the US minivan market. He led a complete overhaul of Chrysler’s lineup in the 19 months after its US — backed bankruptcy in 2009, introducing 16 new or refreshed models. The Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 sedan have drawn praise from critics, including Consumer Reports.

The revamp has led to 11 months of U.S. sales gains exceeding 20 percent and made Chrysler the biggest gainer of market share through April. Deliveries climbed 33 percent in the first four months, boosting market share by 2 percentage points to 11.6 percent.

Profit Growing

Chrysler’s first-quarter profit quadrupled from a year earlier to $473 million, the company said 26 April. It was the company’s most profitable period since 1998’s third quarter. Marchionne reiterated Chrysler’s forecast that full-year net income will grow eightfold to about $1.5 billion, from $183 million in 2011.

With its minivans, the company is “studying all options,” including eliminating one of its models and then broadening the target market for the other one, Saad Chehab, president of the Chrysler brand, said in a phone interview. Right now, the company aims to sell the Dodge Grand Caravan for less than $30,000 and its Chrysler Town & Country, which has more equipment standard, for more than $30,000.

Marchionne would have to decide which will survive.

“If it is one, you have to look at can Dodge go up to the upper-market world of minivans, and same thing, can Chrysler really go down to capture the markets that Dodge Caravan does,” Chehab said. “It’s a difficult answer.”

Lower Prices

Buyers paid an average price of $32,735 for the Town & Country in March, less than the $33,032 paid for Toyota’s Sienna and $32,949 for Honda’s Odyssey, according to data. Grand Caravans sold for $27,151 on average.

Chrysler offers more-generous incentives on minivans than its competitors. The average incentive per Town & Country sold was $3,106 in March and $2,236 for Grand Caravan, compared to Sienna’s $1,650 and Odyssey’s $974, according to researcher

Those four models have accounted for 90 percent of minivan sales so far this year in the U.S., where, over the past decade, many buyers have switched to car-based SUVs, such as the Chevrolet Traverse and redesigned Ford Explorer.

Segment Stigma

“Some folks have still some concern of the stigma with what the minivan is,” Chehab said. “If we resolve the styling element, it would be a big hit whether we stay with one or two vehicles. Even if we do go with two vehicles in the future, we have to continue to separate the brand image.”

Chrysler has reason to tread carefully in choosing the fate of the namesake brand’s Town & Country and Dodge’s Grand Caravan. For all the shrinking the segment has done since its 2000 sales peak of 1.37 million deliveries, automakers sold 472,398 minivans in the US last year.

Minivans represent a significant portion of Chrysler’s sales. The Town & Country and Grand Caravan accounted for 15 percent of the automaker’s 1.37 million deliveries in the U.S. last year, according to Autodata Corp. Odyssey was 9.3 percent of Honda’s 2011 sales, and Toyota’s Sienna was 6.8 percent of its total.

“Buyers are still in a somewhat more pragmatic head space than they’ve been in the past,” Ed Kim, an analyst at industry researcher AutoPacific Inc. in Tustin, California, said in a phone interview. “Vehicles like minivans therefore have the potential to experience something of a small resurgence. It’s practical, functional transportation.”

No. 1 Again

Chrysler sold a combined 84,152 Town & Country and Grand Caravan minivans this year through April, a 21 percent increase from a year earlier, according to Autodata. The gain outpaced the 5 percent sales rise by Honda’s Odyssey and the 9.2 percent drop for Toyota’s Sienna, according to the Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based researcher.

The Grand Caravan also is on pace to help Chrysler reclaim minivan leadership on an individual-model basis for the first time since 2007. Odyssey was the leader from 2008 until last year, when Sienna topped the minivan market.

Consumer Reports has consistently rated Chrysler’s minivans of lesser quality than Toyota’s or Honda’s, after cost-cutting by former parents Daimler AG and Cerberus Capital Management LP, David Champion, the magazine’s senior director of automotive testing, said in an interview. Chrysler maintained sales leadership because their minivans were cheaper and because of the company’s reputation as inventor of the segment, he said.

Factory Delay

Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario, assembly plant is the sole producer of Grand Caravan and Town & Country. The factory was scheduled to close for 10 weeks beginning in October 2013 to be overhauled for making the next-generation minivan, said Rick Laporte, president of the Canadian Auto Workers Local 444, which represents workers at the plant.

The automaker told the union that down time has been pushed back to 2017, Laporte said in a phone interview. That forced the CAW to delay bargaining with four supplier plants in Windsor that provide instrument panels, tires and rims, axles and front- end modules until Chrysler provides the union with more information about future product, he said.

If Chrysler pares its lineup to one minivan, it would leave the U.S. with six entries in the segment, compared with 22 in 2004, according to researcher R.L. Polk & Co. Chrysler told Margaret Zewatsky, a product manager for Polk, at the Detroit auto show in January that 2012 will be the last model year for the Dodge Grand Caravan, she said. The automaker once sold five minivans, including Plymouth models.

Concept Criticized

Chrysler showed a concept minivan called the 700C at the Detroit auto show that was a starting point for improving the styling of the company’s minivans, Chehab said. The concept’s design was more swoopy than the box-shaped Town & Country or Grand Caravan. The pillar between the 700C’s leaf-shaped side windows sloped back diagonally to the roof.

Automotive News, an industry trade publication, called the concept a “train wreck,” with a “snoutlike hood” and “goofy proportions.”

Not all aspects of the 700C will make their way into production, Marchionne told reporters at the National Automobile Dealers Association’s convention in February.

“The oval window in the back was not a big hit,” he said.

Chrysler will introduce a “completely overhauled” minivan architecture by 2014, Marchionne told reporters on April 30 in Detroit.

The minivan segment has been limited by its reputation as a favorite of soccer moms who demand utility features such as extra storage, low cabin-entry points and DVD players.

“People buy it because they need it,” Chrysler’s Chehab said.

Big Family Hauler

Americans like Anna Chiang, a mother of five under 8 from Rolling Hills Estates, California, don’t want to see minivans like Chrysler’s go extinct. Chiang and her husband, Mason, bought a new Town & Country in the past month to replace their 2005 Honda Odyssey. While they looked at a Chevrolet Suburban while shopping for a new vehicle, the large SUV had less storage space and sold for thousands of dollars more.

“I couldn’t see myself spending all this extra money for a vehicle that’s not going to suit all my needs,” Chiang said in a phone interview. “The minivans suit our lifestyle. They’re lower to the ground so our kids can enter and exit. It’s roomy and accommodates all of us as a family.”

While there may still be a place for the minivan in the U.S. market, analyst Jessica Caldwell said, the Santa Monica, California-based researcher’s data suggests the segment may still end up shrinking further. Edmunds data show minivan shoppers consider purchasing from different segments, while fewer buyers from other segments shop minivans.

‘Hard Case’

“The way the volumes are now, it’s a hard case for Chrysler to produce two minivans, especially when they have so many other plans,” Caldwell said in a phone interview. “Chrysler is going to be changing a lot in the foreseeable future. You can only put so many resources in certain places.”

Eddy, the Ohio dealer, said there was a need for two minivans when Chrysler had fewer of its retailers carrying all of the company’s brands under one roof. He would like to see Chrysler take the spending that goes into producing and marketing a second minivan and shift it to investing in a new product such as a small SUV or crossover.

“It ties up floor space, dollars and blacktop when you’ve got a row of Caravans and row of Town & Countrys and you’re trying to have a lease point, price point and incentive package that works for each vehicle,” he said. “If you go to one vehicle, it frees up the ability to market and spend dollars on another product.”

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

Maurice Sendak: Author of ‘Where the Wild Things Are, ‘ Dies at 83

Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83 and lived in Ridgefield, Conn.

The cause was complications from a recent stroke, said Michael di Capua, his longtime editor.

Roundly praised, intermittently censored and occasionally eaten, Mr. Sendak’s books were essential ingredients of childhood for the generation born after 1960 or thereabouts, and in turn for their children. He was known in particular for more than a dozen picture books he wrote and illustrated himself, most famously “Where the Wild Things Are,” which was simultaneously genre-breaking and career-making when it was published by Harper & Row in 1963.

[Return to headlines]

‘Muslim Day’ At California Capitol Promotes Civic Engagement

Muslims have gathered from across the state to take part in the first-ever Muslim Day at the Capitol. The day is meant to engage Muslim voters on a state and federal level. A report released by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding shows that Muslim voters could play a decisive role in swing states in the presidential election this November. It follows the launch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations 2012 “Muslims Vote” campaign, which encourages American Muslims to increase their presence in politics and elections. Zahra Billoo Is the executive director for CAIR San Francisco. Billoo says the day at the capitol is modeled after the work of a number of other minority communities. The day gives Muslims the chance to make a personal connection to their legislators. CAIR officials say this connection is important because some people are attempting to diminish the role that Muslims play in American politics.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

NASA Probe Gets Extended Stay at Huge Asteroid Vesta

A robotic probe currently studying the giant asteroid Vesta is going into bonus rounds in the asteroid belt, with NASA clearing the spacecraft to spend 40 extra days gleaning more of the space rock’s secrets.

The Dawn spacecraft has been circling Vesta, which is the second most massive object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, since last July, and is now slated to stay until Aug. 26. It is the first spacecraft to visit the asteroid, and will have spent more than a year in its environs by the time it leaves.

“Dawn has beamed back to us such dazzling Vestan vistas that we are happy to stay a little longer and learn more about this special world,” Christopher Russell, Dawn’s principal investigator at UCLA, said in a statement. “While we have this one-of-a-kind opportunity to orbit Vesta, we want to make the best and most complete datasets that we can.”

At about the length of Arizona, Vesta is thought to be an intact chunk of the ingredients used to make the solar system around 4.5 billion years ago. Scientists suspect it may be what’s called a protoplanet, and might have developed into a full-fledged planet of its own if things had turned out differently.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norwalk Board to Begin Debating Mosque

NORWALK, Conn. — Approving a proposal to put a mosque in a Norwalk neighborhood would be “the right thing and send a positive message about this wonderful and diverse city,” according to the lawyer arguing on its behalf. Marc Grenier, attorney for those who oppose the application, has given Norwalk’s Zoning Commission other advice. “The special permit criteria allows you to look at this in total, in this particular case, this size lot, 27,000 square foot proposed use on 1.5 acres,” said Grenier, who represents the Stone Gate and Fillow Ridge Condominiums. The Zoning Commission’s plan review committee will begin deliberating Thursday on a controversial proposal to allow a mosque at 127 Fillow St. When they meet, the members will weigh the facts presented in three public hearings.

John Santo, chairman of the commission, has said the matter will be decided strictly by zoning regulations. John Fallon, lawyer for Al Madany Islamic Center, has made a case that the religious aspect cannot be ignored.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obama: “2012 is Make or Break for American Marxism”

Campaigning non-stop since 2008, except for his frequent golfing and vacation adventures, he has never ended his ongoing run for POTUS. On Saturday 5 May, Obama continued along this course and gave, yet, another campaign speech on Saturday 5 May. Although repeating one of his oft-used campaign mantras that the upcoming 2012 elections “will be a make or break moment for the middle class,” as Obama has actually been summarily and purposefully destroying jobs and the economy of the middle class, I believe an accurate translation is needed.

That translation is: “The 2012 elections will be a make or break moment for Marxism, my forced imposition of totalitarianism, the complete bending and surrender of Americans to my will and the destruction of their God-given freedoms, religion and liberties!”


The ObamaPolice have already begun shutting down meetings [url] that involve supporting the US Constitution. When CAIR complained that a pro-Constitution meeting was being held, the Allegan, Michigan Police Department shut the assembly down.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Only Eyewitness to Breitbart’s Death Disappears

Following the suspected arsenic poisoning of a forensic technician in the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, the only eyewitness to Andrew Breitbart’s death has now vanished.

26-year-old Christopher Lasseter saw Breitbart drop dead “like a sack of potatoes” on March 1, hours before Breitbart was set to release a damning video that showed Barack Obama fraternizing with Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers.

Lasseter reported that Breitbart’s skin was a bizarre bright red color when he collapsed, a symptom not associated with heart attacks and one which was not explained in Los Angeles County Chief Coroner Craig Harvey’s autopsy report, which lists the cause of death as heart failure.

“I asked Lassiter specifically about Breitbart’s skin color and he said it was “bright red.” That bothered me because as an Army medical corpsman I knew that most heart attack victims turned blue,” wrote Paul Huebl, adding that Breitbart had drunk little alcohol and, “Poisons like cyanide, or carbon monoxide are known for turning skin red…The reality is they cannot be detected by normal toxicology testing.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Preparing for Massive Civil War, Re-Education Camps

“No nation ever did nor ever can retain its liberty after the loss of the sword and the purse.” — Patrick Henry

The past few days the Internet has been burning up with these stories:

Yes, The Re-Education Camp Manual Does Apply Domestically to U.S. Citizens [url]

“A shocking U.S. Army manual that describes how political activists in prison camps will be indoctrinated by specially assigned psychological operations officers contains numerous clear references to the fact that the policies do apply domestically to U.S. citizens.”

Joel Skousen: Army Document Reveals Citizens to be Treated as Enemy Combatants [url]

Why this would shock anyone who has been active in fighting the totalitarian thugs in Washington, DC, is beyond me. Let me once again cite this from many of my past columns that should have been a warning to wake up:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Richard G. Lugar Loses Republican Senate Primary in Indiana

Richard G. Lugar, a six-term Republican senator from Indiana, lost his bid to stay in office after his Tea Party-backed rival questioned his conservative credentials and accused Mr. Lugar of losing touch with Indiana and its voters.

Richard E. Mourdock, the state’s treasurer, defeated Mr. Lugar in the Republican primary on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Mourdock will face Joe Donnelly, a Democratic member of the House, in November.

[Return to headlines]

Ron Paul Wins Big in Nevada, Maine

Despite the media blackout, Ron Paul is still a leading candidate in the 2012 U.S. presidential election against President Barack Obama. On Sunday May 6 2012, the results out of Nevada and Maine marked a historical event in the history of presidential elections. He won overall 43 delegates in the two states, who he will be bringing to Tampa, Florida for the national convention. Ron Paul, who has run for president three times altogether, continues to de facto shape national debate and the coming presidential election.

Indeed, on May 6, 2012 Ron Paul took 22 of the 25 available delegates in Nevada and 21 of 24 in Maine. Mitt Romney should be totally embarrassed. His lackluster support left no contest for Paul. The entire establishment should be embarrassed that their propaganda has failed so utterly to hoodwink the American people. Their fore-bearers, kings, are rolling in their graves, ashamed. Expect a continuation in the undoing of civil liberties in the United States, as totalitarian forces harden against reasonable and sane people so as to maintain power.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Secret Air Force X-37B Space Plane Mission a ‘Spectacular Success’

The U.S. Air Force’s secretive robotic X-37B space plane mission continues to chalk up time in Earth orbit, nearing 430 days of a spaceflight that — while classified — appears to be an unqualified success.

The space plane now circuiting Earth is the second spacecraft of its kind built for the Air Force by Boeing’s Phantom Works. Known as the Orbital Test Vehicle 2, or OTV-2, the space plane’s classified mission is being carried out by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.

The robotic X-37B space plane is a reusable spacecraft that resembles a miniature space shuttle. The Air Force launched the OTV-2 mission on March 5, 2011, with an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket lofting the space plane into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Trayvon Amendment’ Would Deny Federal Funds to States That Allow Self-Defense

House Democrats said Tuesday they will offer an amendment to push to overturn stand-your-ground self-defense laws in states like Florida.

The amendment, which would withhold some grants from states that have such laws, will come as part of the House’s debate on the Commerce Department spending bill.

[…] Federal money shouldn’t be spent supporting states with laws that endanger their own people,” said Reps. Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the two Democrats who are offering the legislation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Would the Media be Interested if Assad Set Up Re-Education Labor Camps for Political Dissidents?

A couple of months ago, the mainstream media got all excited about leaked emails from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ‘bombshell’ revelations such as the fact that Assad’s wife likes to spend a lot of money on expensive furniture.

Would that same corporate press be interested if documents were leaked showing that Assad’s military forces had set up detention camps in which they planned to incarcerate political activists and subject them to re-education programs and slave labor?

Of course it would, the story would be all over CNN, ABC and Fox News. The documents would be heralded as chilling evidence that Assad is in charge of a dictatorial regime that plans to kidnap demonstrators and imprison them in North Korean-style gulags.

The documents would be held up as solid justification for a swift NATO military action in the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’.

And yet last week we had the release of documents which prove the existence of re-education forced labor camps for political dissidents not only abroad but inside the United States itself! An even more shocking story you would imagine?

And the reaction from the mainstream media? You could hear a pin drop.

We have now exhaustively proven in a series of articles that the U.S. Army is training its personnel, through the policies outlined in a manual entitled FM 3-39.40 Internment and Resettlement Operations (PDF), to “indoctrinate” “political activists” incarcerated in detention camps into developing an “understanding and appreciation of U.S. policies and actions.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

70,000 Italians Converted to Islam, UCOI

(AGI) Rome — According to Ucoi (the Union of Islamic communities in Italy) about 70,000 Italians converted to Islam, a real boom of conversions heightened by the crisis of values but also by the economic crisis in Italy, as Elzir Izzedine commented during the Youtube programme KlausCondicio, by the anchorman Klaus Davi, who is carrying out a report on the Italians espousing Islam. Ucoi made known a few data: 70 thousand Italians converted to Islam and what strikes most is the high number of Italians contacting Mosques to study Islam.

“It is an absolutely positive fact”, Izzedine commented. “If you consider that there are already 150,000 Muslims with Italian citizenship and one million resident Muslims, you can understand that it is an unprecented boom” .

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

Austria: Iraqi Man Arrested

Austrian police have finally managed to arrest a man wanted for the murder of a woman 11 years ago in the Favoriten district of Vienna. The man who was originally from Iraq but who had Austrian citizenship fled the country shortly after the killing. He was married to the murdered woman.

Once back in the country, the man, who is now 79 years old, adopted a false name and went to live at Dohuk in northern Iraq. The allegation is that the man murdered his ex-wife with a gun on 30 April 2001 at her home in the Sonnleithnergasse.

The couple had been estranged, and she had hidden from him, but he allegedly managed to force his daughter at gunpoint to tell him where his ex-wife was — and he then drove there with his daughter to confront her.

At the end of a heated row he shot her with several bullets according to the indictment, and also injured his daughter by shooting her in the arm. He was arrested in 2010 by Interpol investigators working with police in Baghdad and has finally been extradited to Austria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Britain is Shackled to the Corpse of Europe

by Daniel Hannan

Europe’s economic problems are about to get a whole lot worse. For the past three years, governments have tried, however ineffectually, to tackle the debt crisis. Now, though, in country after country, voters are demanding precisely the high-tax and high-spend policies which caused the recession in the first place. Yesterday’s elections in France and Greece were the first of what will surely be many advances by the populist Left. In both places, candidates were elbowing each other aside during the campaign to demand more intervention and an end to cuts. The new French President is an unapologetic Socialist of the kind we haven’t known in this country since Michael Foot. François Hollande wants wealth taxes, stimulus spending and a massive expansion of the state payroll.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Britain’s Wind Power High Costs

Astounding cost of Britain’s go-to-it alone obsession with using wind turbines

Vast expansion of wind power, bankrolled by taxpayers is required to meet the pledges in the Climate Change Act, in which Britain signed up for emissions cuts by 2050—the only country in the world to do so. (3)

This is all coming at a very high price. Two recent studies report the astounding cost of Britain’s go-to-it alone obsession with using wind turbines to generate much of the electricity the nation needs. Both studies came to similar conclusions: wind is astronomically expensive compared to other sources of energy—and consumers and businesses must pay a high price for the privilege of subsidizing such an inefficient technology. (4)


The other study, a report by Gordon Hughes, shows meeting Britain’s target for renewable energy by 2020 would require a total investment of some 120 billion pounds in wind turbines and back-up. This is almost ten times more than the 13 billion pounds it would cost to generate the same amount of electricity from efficient gas-fired power stations. A typical turbine generates power that is worth around 150,000 pounds a year, but attracts subsidies of more than 250,000 pounds a year. These subsidies are, of course, added directly to the bills of energy users. (6)

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

French President is Another Bilderberg Stooge

The mass media is promulgating the notion that the election of Socialist French President Francois Hollande represents some kind of massive sea change and is a direct challenge to the European Union, and yet Hollande’s past and the people he surrounds himself with confirms the fact that he is merely another committed globalist and an enthusiastic supporter of the dictatorial EU’s sovereignty-stripping ethos.

“In the whole of Europe it’s time for change,” Hollande told cheering crowds who gathered to hear his victory speech in Paris early Monday,” reports the L.A. Times.

“Observers agree that Mr Hollande’s election represents a sea-change in the governance of the eurozone and the management of the single currency crisis,” reports Sky News.

Hollande is merely another creature of the establishment and an enthusiastic pro-European superstate globalist. He supported the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, the document which outlined the introduction of the euro single currency and was itself based on a 1955 Bilderberg blueprint. Hollande also supported the European Constitution in a 2005 referendum despite most of his socialist allies voting against it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Germany: Newsflash! Pro NRW Can Show Mohammed Caricatures in Cologne, Too!

A tenth-round victory for NRW Interior Minister Ralf Jäger against PRO NRW: According to a quick decision by the Cologne district court today, the Mohammed caricatures by Kurt Westergaard can be shown at the PRO NRW meeting in front of the mosque construction site in Ehrenfeld. Markus Beisicht: “That is a great achievement again for us and for freedom of speech.”

The following was communicated in a press release from PRO NRW:

Cologne district court likewise lifts “caricature ban” by NRW Interior Minister

PRO NRW also wins the last round in the “war of trials” against them started by the Interior Minister. The Cologne district court, with today’s decision (Az.: 290 L 590/12), lifted the “caricature ban” decreed in an edict by NRW Interior Minister Jäger for Cologne as well. The PRO NRW Citizens’ Movement will be able right away to exhibit the caricatures from Kurt Westergaard even at the last rally by the nation wide “Freedom instead of Islam” election tour. “This is a beautiful day for free speech and for the rule of law, which was profoundly confirmed by the district courts of the state of NRW in a ‘trial war’ that has been going on for almost two weeks,” PRO NRW president and top candidate for his party, Markus Beisicht, commented of the achievement by his party in court.

Meanwhile, the next to last stage of the “Freedom instead of Islam” tour by PRO NRW in Düren this morning (photo above) went off smoothly. The retinue is now making its way to Cologne, where starting at 2 p.m., the rally will start with a speech by Susanne Winter. In addition, a live ticker will be on[3]. We will give an extensive report soon afterward.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: First Videos of Salafist Attacks in Solingen

PI [Politically Incorrect] has reported before about the attack of islamic extremists on police officers in Solingen in which three police officers and a pedestrian were injured. Meanwhile, video recordings of the scenery have surfaced that we don’t want to hold back from our readers. “Allahu akbar” and “Sharia, Sharia” rings throughout downtown Solingen. The noise continues to swell when a PRO-NRW activist stretches out the famous Mohammed caricature by Kurt Westergaard into the air. Suddenly dozens of stones are flying, the Salafists with hate-contorted faces beat police officers with rods who then protected themselves with swaths of pepperspray. Several Salafists tried to break through the police barricade; one could be stopped only when he was just a few meters away from the caricatures. Everywhere there were helmeted police, islamists kneeling or lying on the ground, howls of sirens and noise of helicopters.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

German Cartoon Riots: Clubs, Bottles and Stones

by Soeren Kern

In an explosion of violence that reflects the growing assertiveness of Salafists in Germany, on May 5th more than 500 radical Muslims attacked German police with bottles clubs, stones and other weapons in the city of Bonn, to protest cartoons they said were “offensive.”

Rather than cracking down on the Muslim extremists, however, German authorities have sought to silence the peaceful critics of multicultural policies that allow the Salafists — who say they are committed to imposing Islamic Sharia law throughout Europe — openly to preach violence and hate.

The clashes erupted when around 30 supporters of a conservative political party, PRO NRW, which is opposed to the further spread of Islam in Germany, participated in a campaign rally ahead of regional elections in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Some of those participating in the rally, which was held near the Saudi-run King Fahd Academy in the Mehlem district of Bonn, the former capital of West Germany, had been waving banners depicting the Islamic Prophet Mohammad (see photo here), to protest the Islamization of Germany.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: Anti-Islam ‘Pro-NRW’ Provokes German Violence

The Interior Minister of Germany’s western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has blamed a far-right group that displayed lampooning cartoons of Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him) outside mosques for a recent cycle of violence in the European country. The actions of the extremist anti-Islam group, “Pro NRW”, in Bonn on Saturday had been a “deliberate provocation” that had triggered reprisals by Salafists, Ralf Jager, the NRW Interior Minister, was quoted as saying by Deutsche Welle on Monday, May 7.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: Neonazi-Salafi Clashes in Bonn, 30 Police Hurt

(AGI) Bonn — One hundred people were arrested and 30 policemen injured in clashes in Bonn between neo-Nazis and Salafis. The Islamists were enraged by an exhibition of cartoons depicting Mohammed. The far-right PRO-NRW organisation last Tuesday set up a provocative exhibition of images deemed blasphemous to Islam, including some cartoons by the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, which had previously set off a wave of violent protests in Muslim countries. On Saturday night, about thirty Neo-Nazis were abused by 600 mainly Muslim demonstrators who objected to the exhibition, which had been authorised by a court against the advice of the local authorities. Some Salafis broke through a police security cordon and attacked the exhibition space with sticks and stones. The incident is part of the election campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous German state, which goes to the polls on 13 May and where the PRO-NRW enjoys a small following…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: Salafists and Right-Wing Populists Battle in Bonn

It was clear from the start that the tiny, right-wing populist group Pro-NRW would stop at nothing to attract attention in the run-up to state elections in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia this Sunday. With Salafists in the state now reacting violently to Pro-NRW’s inflammatory parading of Muhammad caricatures in front of Muslim establishments, the splinter party appears to have gotten its wish. On Saturday, violence flared anew when Salafists attacked police protecting a Pro-NRW demonstration in front of a Saudi Arabian school in Bonn. Twenty-nine officers were wounded, two of them having been stabbed, and more than 100 people were arrested. On Monday, a 25-year-old man was arrested and charged with attempted murder in the knife attacks.

Ralf Jäger, interior minister for the state, promised that there would be “severe consequences,” adding that he would “join the federal government in exploring all legal possibilities for countering these extremists.” The police president in Bonn, Ursula Brohl-Sowa, spoke of an “explosion of violence like we haven’t seen for some time.” The Pro-NRW march in Bonn consisted of just over two dozen people, but some 500 to 600 counter-demonstrators also gathered, including, according to police estimates, some 200 Salafists who had travelled to Bonn from across the country. Several hundred police were also present to keep the two groups separated.

‘Deliberately Provoked’

Kolbe said the march was peaceful until right-wing populists began showing their anti-Islam caricatures, including one by Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who created one of the Muhammad drawings which set off global unrest in 2006. One pro-NRW member, Kolbe told SPIEGEL ONLINE, climbed onto the shoulders of a comrade in order to hold the placard above a police vehicle positioned so as to block the view. “The Pro-NRW people very deliberately provoked,” Kolbe said. Still, he said, it was clear that many of the counter-demonstrators had come prepared for violence. Several more knives were found among the 109 people arrested, along with pepper sprays. The vast majority of those taken into custody, said Kolbe, were not from Bonn but had travelled from elsewhere in the country to take part in the demonstration. Once the violence started, he added, several counter-demonstrators began tearing up the yards of nearby houses in the search for projectiles, even demolishing a decorative fountain in the process. “When it comes to the violence,” Kolbe said, “we believe that most of those involved were Salafists.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany Accuses Islamist of Attempted Murder After Stabbings

BERLIN — A 25-year-old Islamist was remanded in custody in Germany on Monday, accused of the attempted murder of three policemen as they were separating neo-Nazis from Islamic fundamentalist protesters. Two officers were stabbed in the thigh on Saturday and a third officer dodged an attack by the knife-wielding man during a melee outside a mosque in the western city of Bonn. Pro NRW (North Rhine Westphalia), a far-right party with neo-Nazi canvassers, had organized a protest event drawing nearly 30 rightists to the mosque, holding up cartoons ridiculing Islam and its founder Mohammed to publicize the group’s anti-immigrant views.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy: Pescara Police Keep Order After Football Fan Murder

Ethnic tensions fueled by extremist ‘ultras’

(ANSA) — Pescara, May 7 — Authorities in the Adriatic town of Pescara said on Monday that local police will step up operations, but that national military forces will not be called in to deal with tensions and the threat of violent clashes between ‘ultra’ hardcore football fans and the local Roma community.

On Tuesday evening a Pescara football supporter, 24-year-old Domenico Rigante, was shot and later died in hospital after a group of six Roma, sometimes referred to as Gypsies, attacked him in his home.

The suspected killer, 29-year-old Massimo Ciarelli, had reportedly threatened to kill Rigante a week earlier.

Extremist Pescara supporters known as ultras, who are said to have links with the neo-fascist Forza Nuova political party, threw molotov cocktails at the Ciarelli household on Wednesday, said local police.

On Sunday, approximately 300 fans chanting anti-Roma slogans broke away from a march in Pescara and attempted to enter the predominantly Romani neighborhood of Rancitelli before reportedly being stopped by police and the ultras’ leader. Later on Sunday, protesters in front of city hall carried banners saying that Roma had “five days to leave the city or face the consequences”.

Local forces have been placed on maximum alert to prevent violent outbreaks, however police chief Paolo Passamonti confirmed that many Roma were evacuating the neighborhood, fearing attacks. Police said that they hoped Cirella’s arrest on Sunday in the nearby town of Chieti would help to calm tensions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Witness Tells of Berlusconi ‘Sex Parties’

Danese says that media dogging has ‘changed life’

(ANSA) — Milan, May 7 — Testimony by teen beauty contestant Chiara Danese on Monday at a trial of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi repeated detailed accounts leaked to the press in 2011 of parties after which Berlusconi allegedly paid for sex with an underage prostitute nicknamed ‘Ruby’.

In April 2011, two of Italy’s biggest dailies reported that two aspiring weather presenters, Ambra Battilana and Chiara Danese, were taken to a party at Berlusconi’s villa at Arcore following a screen test on the TV news show of Berlusconi’s close friend Emilio Fede.

Both of the girls were 18 at the time the event allegedly took place in August 2010.

Danese, repeating what was previously leaked to newspapers, testified that Berlusconi allegedly got girls at the party to kiss a statuette with a giant penis before they allegedly cavorted in skimpy nurses’ uniforms, stripped and engaged in mutual fondling with the premier.

In her testimony, Danese alleged that Berlusconi’s former dental hygienist Nicole Minetti, now a Lombardy regional councillor for his People of Freedom (PdL) party, stripped naked after Berlusconi told a string of “increasingly vulgar” jokes and was kissed on the breasts by him before the party moved into its final “bunga bunga” sex stage. She also claimed that the young women dancing half-naked allegedly called the premier “Daddy” and sang the popular refrain “Thank God We Have Silvio” while Berlusconi allegedly called them all “my babies”.

“We were embarassed and wanted to leave,” Danese told the court on Monday.

Danese testified that when they asked to go, Fede allegedly said “you can forget about being weather girls or Miss Italy”.

Breaking down in tears, Danese told the court that as a consequence of media attention she is hounded by rumours in the small town where she lives with her parents.

Proceedings against the ex-premier opened April 6 and are expected to run for years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Left-Wing, Grassroots Candidates Lead Local Italian Vote

‘We ran wrong candidates’ says PdL’s La Russa

(ANSA) — Rome, May 7 — Local Italian elections on Monday produced good results for left-wing and grassroots candidates and bad ones for former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party in battleground cities, while an incumbent mayor in Verona from the right-wing Northern League was the only candidate to win on the first ballot despite his party’s legal woes. “We chose the wrong candidates and I’m not afraid to admit it,” said former defense minister Ignazio La Russa, a PdL heavyweight. “There’s a mania to select (the candidates) with the best looks instead of knowing what their experience is, while the people want trustworthy candidates, and for those in Palermo Leoluca Orlando is more trustworthy”. Veteran anti-Mafia campaigner Orlando of the opposition Italy of Values party had 47% of the vote for mayor of Palermo, just shy of the majority needed to avoid a runoff on May 20-21.

The grassroots Five Star party, headed by Italian comic and activist Beppe Grillo who supports leaving the eurozone, won almost 19% in Parma, enough to go into the second round, and 15% in Genoa, where it placed third. Incumbent Flavio Tosi of the Northern League regained the mayor’s seat in Verona with a majority of votes, avoiding a runoff. That election was seen as a test of public approval for the League, which is currently in the grip of a major scandal involving Umberto Bossi who resigned as its leader in March when his family was linked to probes into the alleged fraudulent use of party money.

Marco Doria, supported by a leftist coalition including the Democratic Party (PD), was leading after the first round in Genoa with 46% of the vote. Voter-turnout levels were down in both days of voting, according to the interior ministry. On Monday the turnout at the end of the second day of voting, with around nine million Italians eligible to elect the councils of around 1,000 Italian towns and cities, was 66.9% compared to 73.7% at the last equivalent ballot.

Turnout on Sunday was down from 54.8% to 49%. Analysts said there was widespread skepticism about the effectiveness of a political class that needed to call in former European commissioner Monti last year to head a technocrat administration to stop Italy’s debt crisis spiralling out of control.

The votes are seen as a major barometer of public mood ahead of general elections next year.

Italy’s three big mainstream political groups — the PdL, the PD and a coalition of centrist parties called the Third Pole — all support Monti’s emergency government.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Backs Turkey’s EU Bid

Meeting in Rome between Monti and Turkish premier Erdogan

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 8 — Italian Premier Mario Monti reaffirmed Italy’s support for Turkey’s entrance into the European Union on Tuesday, adding that Europe had much to learn from the Mediterranean country. “Italy wholeheartedly supports Turkey’s full entrance into the EU,” said Monti after meeting with Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Rome. “Our hope is that the negotiations over admission will go forth with renewed vigor”. Monti said that the country could set a good example for Europe, which “has reached a level of institutional perfection and strong integration” but at the same time is “demographically aging, tired and not full of energy and economic enthusiasm”. “Turkey can set an important example,” Monti said, adding that the addition of the country would have an “added economic, strategic and cultural value” for all of the EU.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Naples Businessman Shoots Himself in Head, Critical

(AGI) Naples — A small business owner from Naples attempted suicide and is in critical condition at Naple’s Loreto Mare Hospital. The incident occurred in Via Fedro, where the 72 year old man, the owner of a small workshop, gravely injured himself shooting himself in the head with a handgun. the man is a resident of Pozzuoli and, according to the information gathered by Carabinieri, had received a tax notice in recent months.

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

Netherlands:10 Years After Pim Fortuyn Was Murdered: What the Papers Say

Ten years ago on Sunday, Dutch populist politician Pim Fortuyn was murdered in Hilversum by animal rights activist Volkert van de Graaf, nine days before the general election. This weekend, the Dutch media devoted a large amount of space to assessing Fortuyn’s impact on the Netherlands.

Fortuyn is almost universally regarded as having changed the face of Dutch politics, partly for his outspoken views on Islam, which he regarded as a backward religion, and immigration — he wanted a stop.

His arrival on the political scene came at a time of growing unhappiness in some parts of the country with the perceived failure of multi-culturalism, poor public services and politicians who were distanced from society as a whole.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Rules for Italian Judges

(AGI) Rome — Italian judges will no longer be allowed to hold second jobs for indefinite periods and receive two salaries.

The amendment on new rules for magistrates who are MPs will now be sent to joint commissions and the government has been defeated. The joint Constitutional Affairs and Judicial Commission have approved an amendment by Democrat Roberto Giachetti on second jobs for magistrates in spite of the government opposing it, first by Nitto Palma and then by Justice Minister Paola Severino. The Giachetti amendment was voted on by all groups. According to reports, PD MPs abstained, with the exception of Paola Concia and Rita Bernardini.

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

Pragmatism Likely in Merkel-Hollande Relationship

With the election of François Hollande as French president, Nicolas Sarkozy is history — as is the Merkozy duo in Berlin and Paris. German-French relations will have to be realigned. Given that the election has come in the midst of the euro crisis, Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will need to learn to get along quickly.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Radical Left and Neo-Nazis Score Well in Greek Elections

Greek voters on Sunday (6 May) punished the two ruling parties responsible for the last EU bail-out and its austerity measures by giving the radical left the second highest number of votes and allowing a neo-Nazi party into the legislature for the first time.

Early official results after 10 percent of the votes were count show that the centre-right New Democracy party has gained the most votes (19.2%) but it is not enough to re-make the current ruling coalition with the Social Democrats (Pasok).

Instead, Syriza, a coalition of radical left parties (16.3%) opposing the austerity rules of the €130 billion bail-out, but in favour for Greece to stay in the eurozone, pushed Pasok into third place. The right-wing Independent Greeks, a splinter party from New Democracy also openly against the bail-out, scored over ten percent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Resisting Threat of Fanatical Islam: West Must Not Surrender Permanent Liberty for Temporary Tolerance

By Geert Wilders

The above essay contains direct quotes from Geert Wilders’ latest book Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me:

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Bill for Abu Qatada Saga Hits £3m … and Guess Who’s Paying?

FAILING to kick radical cleric Abu Qatada out of the country has cost taxpayers at least £3million, figures have revealed. The huge bill, which has been run up over more than a decade since he was first arrested, is more than twice earlier estimates. The revelation comes ahead of tomorrow’s ruling by European judges on whether Qatada’s appeal against deportation should be allowed to go ahead.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Grooming Gang Found Guilty: Nine Men Shared Girls Aged 13 to 15 for Sex and Raped One Up to Twenty Times a Day

Nine men were today found guilty of grooming and passing round vulnerable white schoolgirls aged between 13 and 15 for sex after plying them with alcohol and drugs.

Five girls were ‘shared’ by Kabeer Hassan, Abdul Aziz, Abdul Rauf, Mohammed Sajid, Adil Khan, Abdul Qayyum, Mohammed Amin, Hamid Safi and a 59-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The ten-week trial was told that the men — who are all from Pakistan, some from the same village, apart from Safi who is from Afghanistan — groomed the teenage girls because they were vulnerable and from broken homes,

The jury of three men and nine women heard that the defendants plied the girls, some as young as 13, with fast food, drink and drugs so they could ‘pass them around’ and use them for sex.

The victims were picked up from ‘honeypot locations’ where teenagers congregate, such as outside takeaway restaurants, and were then taken to ‘chill houses’ around the north of England for sex.

One 13-year-old victim became pregnant and had the child aborted.

Another gave evidence of being raped by two men while she was ‘so drunk she was vomiting over the side of the bed’.

The court heard that some of the girls were raped and physically assaulted and some were forced to have sex with ‘several men in a day, several times a week’.

Police said one victim was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night when she was drunk.

Detectives said she could ‘barely recount the events’ but her friend was downstairs and remembers ‘innumerable men’ going upstairs.

The gang used a 15-year-old white girl they nicknamed ‘The Honey Monster’ as their recruiter.

           — Hat tip: watling[Return to headlines]

UK: Oxford Child Sex Trafficking Probe Widens as Number of ‘Victims’ Doubles to 50 Girls, Some as Young as 11

A suspected sex trafficking ring in which girls as young as 11 were allegedly targeted was far larger than previously feared, according to police.

As many as 50 young girls have come forward claiming to have been sold for sex in Oxford, U.K., detective confirmed today.

It was originally thought that 24 girls, aged between 11 and 16 years, were the only victims but more youngsters have since contacted the police alleging they were also victims.

Oxford police commander, Acting Superintendent Chris Sharp, said more ‘potential victims’ had come forward as a result of the publicity the case had received.

A total of 13 men were arrested when more than 100 police swooped in the raids across Oxford, codenamed Operation Bullfinch.

A group of six Asian men — including two sets of brothers — have been charged by police in connection with allegedly running the sex trafficking ring in the university city known for its dreaming spires.

Since the initial dawn raids last month, officers had made a further two arrests as part of the probe, a police spokesman said.

A 39-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman were detained on suspicion of ‘grooming’ this week.

Ready to move in: Police vans lined up ahead of Operation Bullfinch, which investigated the alleged sexual exploitation of girls.

The man has been freed on police bail to return to a police station in May, pending further inquiries and the woman was released without charge.

Police arrested 13 men in raids across Oxford on Thursday, March 22, after investigating the suspected ring since May last year.

Six men were charged and appeared at Aylesbury Crown Court, sitting at Amersham on Friday, March 30, for a preliminary hearing and were all remanded in custody.

Father of two Kamar Jamil, aged 26 years, of Summertown, Oxford, who is charged with four counts of rape, two counts of arranging the prostitution of a child, one count of making a threat to kill and one count of possession with intent to supply class A drugs, has since been granted conditional bail by the court.

Seven men returned to a police station to answer bail on Thursday and had their bail extended for a further eight weeks.

High Wycombe Magistrates Court heard during the first hearing last month how the accused men are believed to have groomed 24 girls for sex between May 2004 and March, this year.

Four girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were allegedly given alcohol and drugs, and forced to have sex with some of the men.

Clare Tucker, prosecuting, said during that hearing: ‘These charges relate to the sexual exploitation of girls between 11 and 16 across the Oxford area over a period of several years.’

Zeshan Ahmed, 26, is charged with ten counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child.

Anjum Dogar, 30, is charged with one count of conspiring to rape a child, one count of arranging prostitution of a child and one count of trafficking.

His brother, Akhtar, 31, is charged with three counts of rape, one count of conspiring to rape a child, three counts of arranging the prostitution of a child, one count of making a threat to kill and one count of trafficking.

Mohammed Karrar, 37, has been charged with two counts of conspiracy to rape a child and one count of supplying a Class A controlled drug to a child.

His brother Bassan, a 32-year-old father of two, is charged with one count of raping a child in 2006.

Detective Inspector Simon Morton, of Thames Valley Police, said at the time of the arrests: ‘We are working closely with social services to make sure the young girls involved are safe.’

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

UK: The Unspeakable v the Uneatable

by Melanie Phillips

People seem surprised that the idea of elected mayors has received such a thumbs-down from yesterday’s UK local elections and referenda on the proposed post for individual cities. Personally, I’m not surprised at all. Elected mayors were always a pretty useless idea — a gimmick dreamed up by political anoraks looking desperately for a Big Idea — any Big Idea that happened to be passing — and who accordingly seized upon the perception that there’s a ‘democratic deficit’ without facing up properly to its cause. People don’t want elected mayors because they can’t see the point of them. They think all politicians are rubbish. They are disillusioned with the whole rotten, cynical, opportunistic, unprincipled, out-to-ideological-lunch lot of them. That’s what ‘democratic deficit ‘means, duh! It does not mean that voters think there’s a deficit in the number of politicians representing them. Voters think there’s a deficit in what all politicians have between their ears (and in their souls). It’s not that Britain’s constitution is structurally unable to deliver what the country wants and needs. It’s that the mainstream political class has become constitutionally incapable of delivering what the country wants and needs.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Ukraine Paper Sorry for Saying ‘Germany Like Third Reich’

(KIEV) — A Ukrainian newspaper owned by an oligarch close to President Viktor Yanukovych on Tuesday apologised for printing an editorial that said Germany had not changed since the Third Reich.

The article printed last week in the top-selling Segodnya newspaper said the Germany of Chancellor Angela Merkel was no different from the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, further stoking an intensifying crisis in Berlin-Kiev ties.

Germany has led European criticism of Ukraine’s treatment of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and has not ruled out boycotting the matches taking place in Ukraine for the Euro 2012 football tournament.

“The comparison between modern Germany and Nazi Germany made by the author was neither suitable nor justified,” the paper’s acting editor-in-chief Olga Guk wrote in a statement on Segodnya’s website.

“I am very sorry that this happened. It’s wrong even in the heat of the debate to make insulting comparisons and claims.

“Sport must unite and not divide people. On behalf of the whole publication and from myself personally I declare our sincere apologies,” she said in the editorial which has yet to be published in its printed version.

The editorial caused a huge stir given it was printed in a newspaper owned by Ukrainian billionaire tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, a key patron of Yanukovych from his home region of Donetsk.

The article — entitled “Under the Heel of Merkel” — said that “Germany has not changed in the past 70 years” and claimed that “1945 taught them nothing.”

“They have taken off their masks and it really is the case that the Berlin of 2012 is in no way different from the Berlin of the 1940s,” it said.

Ukraine had hoped that Euro 2012 — which it is co-hosting with Poland — would be a showpiece for the country but analysts have said the event risks becoming a fiasco as the government’s image goes from bad to worse.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ukrainian President Can’t Win Struggle With Tymoshenko

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych wanted to take revenge on his arch-rival Yulia Tymoshenko. But locking up the former prime minister was the worst mistake of his presidency, say analysts. Tymoshenko has the upper hand in the battle for public opinion, while Yanukovych is ruining his presidency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

62.5% of Tunisians Are Practicing Muslims

Only 0.2% are Shi’ites

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 7 — Some 62.5% of Tunisians are practicing Muslims who pray five times a day, as prescribed by Islam, according to an opinion poll carried out for the Arab-language newspaper Al-Maghrib.

A total of 39.8% of those who pray five times a day do so at home rather than at the mosque.

Another significant element to emerge from the poll is that only 0.2% of Tunisian Muslims are Shi’ites, while Sunnis make up close to 70%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Algeria: Bomb Discovered Outside School

After residents reported suspicious car

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 8 — An hand-made explosive device has been discovered and neutralized close to a school in the centre of the Algerian town of Issers, east of Boumerde’s. The news has been reported by the website of the TSA agency, which says that the device was discovered after local residents reported the presence of a suspicious car to security forces. Agents began to comb the streets in an effort to intercept the vehicle, which was found parked a short distance away from the school. After further checks, the device was found. The bomb is said to be similar to those used by Islamic terrorists, and which in recent months have killed a number of soldiers, policemen and civilians, as when detonated from distance, they often explode after a delay. The province of Boumerde’s has been the hardest hit by terrorism, especially in the weeks leading up to parliamentary elections in the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Jihadists Behind the Attack Against the Defence Ministry in Cairo

An extremist Jihadist fringe is behind yesterday’s incidents in which three people were killed and more than 300 wounded. The brother of al Qaeda’s leader was present at the protest, the spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church said. Weapons and ammunitions are found at a Salafist mosque. “People are against fundamentalism,” Fr Greiche said.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Protests in Cairo yesterday afternoon and the attempt to storm the Defence Ministry were the work of a “jihadist fringe” that wants to seize power. Ordinary people backed the army because it “is against” fundamentalists taking over demonstrations or “extremists taking over power,” said Fr Rafik Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church. “The situation in the capital is currently calm”, he told AsiaNews, but warned that we have to wait for this afternoon because it “is too early to know whether more will happen”.

Three weeks from the first presidential elections since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, the situation remains tense as people expect more street demonstrations. Egypt’s ruling military council imposed a 11 pm-7am curfew in the area around the Defence Ministry in Cairo after one soldier and two civilians were reported killed and more than 300 wounded (with more than 100 hospitalised) yesterday afternoon.

During the demonstrations, participants reached an area where supporters of ultra-rightwing Islamist candidate Hazem Abu Ismail were holding a sit-in in protest against his exclusion from the presidential election because his mother has dual US and Egyptian citizenship, which under Egyptian law bars him from running.

State television blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the unrest and clashes that ended with demonstrators throwing stones and police moving in.

“The presence at the protests yesterday and the days before of the elder brother of al Qaeda’s current leader Ayman al Zawahiri is cause of concern,” Fr Rafik Greiche told AsiaNews.

Equally worrisome is the appearance among the protesters of “people who clearly do not look Egyptian, from foreign countries,” especially since “they were shouting their defiance at Barack Obama and chanting that Osama bin Laden was not dead.”

For the spokesman of the Church in Egypt, “it is clear that Jihadists are trying to carve a place for themselves in the current situation.”

What is more, “well-hidden ammunitions and weapons were found in a mosque not far from the area where demonstrations were held yesterday,” Fr Rafik said. It is well known, he added, that “The mosque belongs to the Salafist movement.”

Soldiers “had to intervene,” he explained, in doing so they found support among ordinary people who do not want “Jihadists to take power”. (DS)

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

Libya Funded Sarkozy’s Campaign, Belarusian Leader Says

The leader of Belarus has entered the controversy over claims that Libya under Muammar Qaddafi funded French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign. President Alexander Lukashenko says the late Libyan leader told him when he visited Belarus in 2008 that he had funded Sarkozy’s campaign.

Sarkozy, who lost his fight for re-election on Sunday, has strongly denied the claims.

The claims were made by a Tunisian lawyer for former Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi, who said that according to his client, $65 million was given to Sarkozy’s campaign.

Lukashenko, speaking Tuesday in an annual address to the Belarusian parliament, said that Qaddafi told him the amount was more than 100 million. Lukashenko did not specify the currency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Hamas Urges French President-Elect Hollande to Visit Gaza

Hamas has urged france’s president-elect, Francois Hollande, to visit the Gaza Strip and “correct” French policy towards the Palestinians.

“We urge French President-elect Francois Hollande to put the Palestinian issue on its agenda and to correct the French approach to the Palestinian issue,” Hamas said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Israel’s Peace Disease

For the last twenty years Israel has been swept into an obsession with few parallels except to the Dutch Tulip economy. Except instead of tulips, its commodity of choice is an even more insubstantial thing, the faint promise of peace.

Peace fever is the disease consuming Israel as surely as the Black Death took Europe. If the Dutch traded fortunes for flowers, the Israelis have traded away most of their territory for worthless pieces of paper that last about as long as tulips do. Mostly, like Madoff’s investments, after they wither and die it turns out that they were never worth anything to begin with.

Take the Camp David Accords, greeted with insane romantic fervor in Jerusalem and European capitals, but resented and despised by Egyptians because they were a reminder of how their army had failed to destroy Israel. It was a worthless accord that gave Egypt a vast amount of territory in exchange for maintaining a status quo that it had no choice but to maintain after losing multiple wars. With the fall of Mubarak, it was revealed that the Accords were never more than moonbeams and fairy dust. A puff of Arab Spring and they are gone.


Delusional does not mean stupid. Highly intelligent people are more likely to be deluded because they have a greater capacity for imagining and then rationalizing the delusion. A stupid person would assume that being shot at marks the end of peace negotiations. It takes a highly intelligent person to rationalize the shots as not an attack on him, but on the negotiations, which are the only way to stop the cycle of violence.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Surprise Joint Netanyahu — Kadima Government

Objectives include “responsible” restart of peace process

Israeli Prime Minisrer Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz in Jerusalem on forming a coalition government

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM — “It is my hope that the Palestinians decide to pursue the peace process. I hope that now they will reconsider their position and come to the negotiation table in a responsible way,” To these words of Israel’s Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor Nabil Abu Rudeina replied by calling for an immediate stop to all settlement building: “I appeal to the Israeli government to make use of this opportunity to hurry and reach a peace accord with the Palestinian people and its leadership: a just and general accord that may guarantee the security of the peoples of the region and dispel the winds of war”.

Thus has begun the exchange with the new Netanyahu government, set up by surprise overnight following a deal with the centrist opposition Kadima party. The deal saves the country from an early election, which would otherwise have taken place in September. This is an “extended government of national unity” that should carry the country through to the end of its legislation in November 2013.

Among the items in its programme is that of restarting the peace process in a “responsible” way. For the leader of Kadima, Shaul Mofaz, there is a need to aim for an “historic compromise” with the Palestinians, which will guarantee the “Jewish and democratic” character of Israel. Also planned is a new law on conscripting young people that re-examines the nature of the exception made for ultra-orthodox Jews. But beyond internal matters, analysts are already questioning whether the surprise move by Netanyahu and his former chief in command Mofaz may be linked to an Israeli strike at Iran’s developed nuclear capability. The expanded government is based across seven parties, claiming 94 of the 120 seats in the Knesset: the Likud of Mr Netanyahu (27); Israel Beitenu (far right, 15); Atzamaut (list of Defence Minister Ehud Barak), 5; Shas (Sephardic Orthodox, 11); Hebrew Hearth (religious nationalist, 3); Torah Front (Ashkenazi Orthodox), 5. Thanks to the deal with Shaul Mofaz , now added to this list are the centrist Kadima party with 28 seats. From today, the parliamentary opposition will be led by the Labour Party of Shelly Yehimovic, which has just eight seats in Parliament.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Bomber in Plot on U.S. Airliner Said to be a Double Agent

WASHINGTON — The would-be suicide bomber dispatched by the Al Qaeda branch in Yemen last month to blow up a United States-bound airliner was actually a double agent who infiltrated the terrorist group and volunteered for the suicide mission, American and foreign officials said on Tuesday.

In an extraordinary intelligence coup, the agent left Yemen, traveling by way of the United Arab Emirates, and delivered both the innovative bomb designed for his aviation attack and critical information on the group’s leaders to the C.I.A., Saudi and other foreign intelligence agencies.

After spending weeks at the center of the terrorist network’s most dangerous affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the agent provided critical information that permitted the C.I.A. to direct the drone strike on Sunday that killed Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, the group’s external operations director and a suspect in the bombing of the destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000.

[Return to headlines]

Konya, Turkey: The Dance of the Devout

Konya, the birthplace of the Whirling Dervishes, is a city still rooted in its Muslim heritage, finds Sara Evans.

Even in the shadows of the stage their white robes appear luminous. Now moving into the light, they twinkle like stars. Synchronising perfectly, they spin and turn, forming a glittering constellation. Human gyroscopes, the dancers are the famous Whirling Dervishes of Turkey. They perform here in Konya every Saturday night. In the world’s grandest Whirling Dervish hall, a devout and rapturous audience savours every step the Dervishes make. For Konya — just an hour’s flight southeast from Istanbul — is Turkey’s most Islamic city, with over a million people living and worshipping here.

I see evidence of this on the city’s streets as I walk around Konya. Women cover their heads in tightly drawn scarves, or wear burkas. Men sport beards. Throughout the day, I hear the Muslim call to prayer from the shining minarets of Konya’s ancient Seljuk mosques.

Then, from dusty carpet shops in the medieval bazaars, from cafe’s selling succulent kebabs and salty flatbreads, and from rose and tulip stalls in the markets, the city’s men — young and old — head to the mosques. Once inside, they turn to Mecca, kneel and start the rituals of prayer practised here for centuries.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey Launches New Crackdown on Ex-Officers

Turkish prosecutors have ordered the arrest of at least five active duty and five retired generals along with other suspects over their alleged role in the 1990s ousting of an Islamist prime minister. The police on Tuesday searched the homes of 16 suspects, including some colonels, noncommissioned officers and one civilian who served in the military.

Police have previously arrested more than 30 officers, including some powerful generals, in the probe over their role in forcing the resignation in 1997 of an Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. The officers are accused of pressuring Erbakan to resign over his alleged attempts to increase the profile of Islam in this predominantly Muslim but secular country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Work With Yemen Led to Bomb Discovery, Says Obama Adviser

US bomb experts are picking apart a sophisticated new al-Qa’ida improvised explosive device, a top Obama administration ounterterrorism official said today, to determine if it could have slipped past airport security and taken down a commercial airplane.

Officials told The Associated Press a day earlier that the discovery of the unexploded bomb represented an intelligence prize resulting from a covert CIA operation in Yemen, saying the intercept thwarted a suicide mission around the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. US officials declined to say where the CIA seized the bomb. The would-be suicide bomber, based in Yemen, had not yet picked a target or purchased plane tickets when the CIA seized the bomb, officials said. It was not immediately clear what happened to the would-be bomber.

The device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it. The device is an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. Officials said the new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but this time al-Qa’ida developed a more refined detonation system.

John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, said today the discovery shows al-Qa’ida remains a threat to US security a year after bin Laden’s assassination. And he attributed the breakthrough to “very close cooperation with our international partners.” “We’re continuing to investigate who might have been associated with the construction of it as well as plans to carry out an attack,” Brennan said. “And so we’re confident that this device and any individual that might have been designed to use it are no longer a threat to the American people.” On the question of whether the device could have been gone undetected through airport security, Brennan said, “It was a threat from a standpoint of the design.” He also said there was no intelligence indicating it was going to be used in an attack to coincide with the May 2 anniversary of bin Laden’s death.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Yemen: US Thwarts Al Qaeda Airliner Bomb Plot, Officials Say

US officials have said they foiled a plot by al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen to blow up an airliner in April. US officials have said the recovered devise was a sophisticated version of the 2009 Christmas day “underwear bomb.”

A US counterterrorism official said on Monday that the CIA foiled a plot by al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen to blow up an airliner in April.

US officials have stressed that the plot, reportedly hatched by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was uncovered at an early stage, meaning that “at no point were any airliners at risk.”

“The device never presented a threat to public safety, and the US government is working closely with international partners to address associated concerns with the device,” the FBI said in a statement.

Reports suggest that no target for the attack had yet been chosen and no plane tickets had been bought. The status of the alleged suicide bomber appears to be unknown.

The FBI is conducting technical and forensic analysis on the recovered device, which they described as a sophisticated upgrade of the so-called “underwear bomb” that failed to detonate aboard an airliner over Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009.

“Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that have been used previously by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Anti-Putin Demonstrators Cleared From Moscow Streets

Russian riot police in Moscow detained and beat some 400 anti-Putin demonstrators on Sunday and another one hundred on Monday. The crackdown came amid the inauguration of President-elect Vladimir Putin who was sworn in on Monday for his third term in office.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Putin Returns to the Kremlin

Mass arrests of protesters over the weekend signal tough times ahead for Russia. Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for his third term as president on Monday heralds the rollback of meager reforms made by his predecessor Dmitry Medvedev. Instead of expanding freedoms in the country, Putin has been vaguely refining his Potemkin democracy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Armenia: May 9: Day of Victory for Shoushi, 20 Years Ago

On May 9 Nagorno Karabakh will celebrate with grandeur the 20th anniversary of Shoushi’s liberation, due to which Nagorno Karabakh stopped being an enclave in 1992. Immediately after Armenia gained control over Shoushi, the Armenian self-defense forces entered Lachin, May 12-18 of 1992, and solved a strategic task, which was to secure a direct land communication between Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Prior to the festivities certain details are recalled that have rarely been voiced before. “Twenty years ago things might have turned out differently and we wouldn’t be where we are today,” says Armenian expert Garegin Gabrieyelyan, leader of Keni Research Center. He says in early May of 1992, then Iranian president Hashemi-Rafsanjani invited acting head of the Azeri state Yakub Mamedov and Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosyan to visit Teheran for bilateral negotiations. They met on May 7, and the following day a Joint Statement was adopted. The sides agreed that “within a week’s time as soon as a representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran arrives and with the assistance of Azeri and Armenian leaders ceasefire is established and simultaneously all communication roads open to satisfy economic needs.” Despite the attractive appearance of it, this statement made no sense.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Azerbaijan Sends Letter to UN Secretary General Over So-Called “Presidential Elections” In Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 8 /Trend M. Tsurkov/

Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the UN Agshin Mehdiyev sent a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over so-called “presidential elections” in Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, permanent mission told Trend. The letter notes that according to media reports the Republic of Armenia is planning to hold so-called “presidential elections” on July 2012 in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan Republic.

“At the international level, including the General Assembly and the Security Council, it was recognized that the Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts of Azerbaijan are under Armenian military occupation. Armenia used military force to occupy the Azerbaijani territory and create separatist puppet formation on the basis of ethnic, which, ultimately, is nothing but a product of aggression and racial discrimination, and it exist due to political, military, economic and other support from Armenia. Illegality of separatist formation and its structures has been repeatedly reaffirmed at the international level. This formation is not recognized by anyone — in fact, it is under the direction and control of the Republic of Armenia “, — the document says.

Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated that, despite the political efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement, the policy and practical steps taken by Armenia, the occupying power, through, in particular, various illegal activities in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, clearly indicate its intention to secure the annexation of these territories, said Mehdiyev in a letter.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Azerbaijan: Islamism in Azerbaijan

Islamism is rising in Azerbaijan but remains a manageable threat which is unlikely to topple the country’s government or seriously affect the nearby 2014 Sochi Olympics, argues Stratfor.

Stratfor is an Austin, Texas-based global intelligence company providing geopolitical analysis and commentary.

“Several factors have led to the increased religiosity in Azerbaijan. Religion was suppressed at the public level under Soviet rule for 70 years. The proliferation of mosques in the 20 years since independence suggests that more Azerbaijanis are taking advantage of their religious freedom. In addition, high unemployment has led many uneducated and/or poor Azerbaijani youths to turn to religion to deal with their grievances and to benefit from its related social services. More important, external powers are using religious proxy groups to gain influence in Azerbaijan. These powers include Iran, which advocates Shi’ism; Turkey, where an influential Islamist organization, the Gulenist movement, has long been trying to establish a foothold in Azerbaijan; and Dagestan, a republic in the Caucasus that advocates Salafism. Collectively, these three groups constitute the most substantial Islamist threat to the Azerbaijani state.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Azerbaijani Leader Opens Baku Crystal Hall — Arena for Eurovision 2012 — Photos

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva inaugurated the main arena of the 57th Eurovision Song Contest — the newly constructed Baku Crystal Hall. The head of state cut the ribbon symbolizing opening of the Hall, AzerTAj reports. The President and First Lady were informed on the construction of grandiose arena with 25.000 people capacity, its original architecture. As stated, the complex will be further used for other grand concerts, as well as for international events. This is also symbolic that the Crystal Hall is situated in the vicinity of the State Flag Square, which is a more important factor.

Azerbaijan won the right to host the prestigious European song contest after the victory of Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal (Ell / Nikki) at Eurovision 2011 in Dusseldorf, Germany last May among 43 world countries. The event is of great political and economic importance for Azerbaijan which is situated at the junction of the East and West. The other notable fact is that such prestigious music contest as Eurovision is for the first time conducted in the South Caucasus. And Azerbaijan succeeded such a triumph after it participated in this music festival for almost four times.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Hillary Clinton Issues Stern Message to Pakistan

The US secretary of state has said Pakistan was not cooperating as it should regarding issues of terrorism and stressed that all perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack should be brought to justice.

The setting of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s rant against Pakistan was at the La Martiniere School for girls in Kolkata where she stoutly maintained that necessary action had not been taken against Hafiz Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, who is suspected of masterminding the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008.

No action against Hafiz Saeed

“We are well aware that no steps have been taken by the Pakistani government to do what both India and the US have repeatedly requested them they do,” said Clinton, who is on a three-day visit to India.

“And we are going to keep pushing that point. So it’s a way of raising the visibility and pointing out to those who are associated with him that there is a cost for that,” she added, mincing no words.

Just last month the US put a bounty on his head of 10 million US dollars for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Saeed. A 2-million-dollars reward was placed on Hafiz Adbul Rahman Makki’s head.

The sticky issue has stood in the way of rebuilding relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors since the massacre in India’s financial capital, where 10 gunmen killed 166 people. Even during his whistle-stop visit to the Indian capital last month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had raised the issue with Pakistani President Ali Asif Zardari.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Jakarta Tells Muslim Religious Leaders to Lower Volume of Minaret Loudspeakers

In a meeting with more than a thousand representatives of the Mosque Council (DMI), Vice President Boediono called for an unwavering fight against fundamentalism. Islam, he said, is a “religion of peace”. In his address, he also called for mosques to lower the volume of their loudspeakers, a request rejected by the Ulema Council.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Indonesian Vice President Boediono has appealed to the Indonesian Mosques’ Council (DMI) to the lower the volume of mosque loudspeakers when they call the faithful to prayer, a traditional ritual that is carried out five times a day by practicing Muslims. The vice president wants mosque to lower the volume, especially when the call is done at 3 am, which is way before the right time and disturbs most of the population. His request however was met by the steadfast opposition of the country’s Ulema Council (MUI), whose answer was an emphatic no to any “lower volume”.

The vice president made his appeal to more than a thousand people imams and religious leaders attending a DMI conference that was recently held in East Jakarta. During the event, DMI members elected Jusuf Kalla as their organisation’s new president. The latter is the vice president during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s first term in office.

In his address, Kalla’s successor Boediono also urged those present to cooperate with the government in the “fight against extremism” and for the eradication of fundamentalist ideologies.

“We don’t want to let our mosques into the wrong people who disseminate false Islamic beliefs, fundamentalism, sectarian ideas, hostile attitudes to others and provocative teachings. All this is irrelevant to the true Islam, which is widely known as a peace-loving religion that boosts the spirit of tolerance.”

In addition to a call to arms against radical ideologies that find fertile ground in some mosques and among some imams, the government wants mosques to adjust the volume of mosque loudspeakers during the call to prayer.

For Boediono, the practice known as ‘azan’ is better when the volume is lower compared to the loud fracas currently heard. With the backing of quotes from the Qur’an, the vice president noted that Muslims are expected to lower their voice and be humble when they are at prayer.

In responding to the vice president’s appeal, the Ulema Council (MUI) said it was willing to consider moving the first call to prayer from 3 am to 4.30 am, which is the expected time anyway.

However, the MUI is not prepared to adjust the volume. For the council, which is notorious for its radical positions against yoga, smoking and “immoral” international music stars like Lady Gaga, any lowering of the volume would be counterproductive because Muslims need to be “alerted” to their duties.

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

Indonesia: Central Java: Islamic Extremists Attack Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary, Repelled by Police

For safety reasons, authorities suspend a function in program for yesterday. However, the place of worship, highly popular among faithful and pilgrims, will remain open. Attackers claim building does not have proper permit. The Archbishop of Semarang calls for calm: do not respond to provocation.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Tensions remain high in central Java, where a crowd of a thousand Islamic extremists have targeted a shrine to the Virgin Mary: For security reasons, yesterday the authorities suspended the programmed church service, while dozens of policemen and soldiers guarding the place of Christian worship, fearing further — possible — violence. According to the protesters, incited by Muslim extremists, the building has no building permit required by law (the infamous IMB) and, over time, from “simple house of prayer” it has become a real church. The faithful respond that “in more than 40 years” there has never been an incident of sectarian nature.

After the three Christian churches — two Catholic and one Protestant — were forcibly closed in Java in recent days (see AsiaNews 07/05/12 Extremist threats in Aceh: authorities close three churches), the attention of Indonesian Islamic extremists has now shifted to the shrine of Lady Mary in Sengon Kerep, Sampang sub-district in Gedangsari in Gunung Kidul regency in Yogyakarta (Central Java province). Sunday, May 6th a mob of a thousand fanatics tried to seal off the building, but the intervention of soldiers and police foiled the attack.

The full name of the shrine of the Virgin Mary (pictured) is Taman Maria Giri Wning Sengon Kerep and in local language, it means “The garden of the silence of Mary Sengon Kerep”. Over the past three years the place of worship has undergone a major restoration work, and has always attracted a huge crowd of believers with one purpose: prayer.

Among other things, the sanctuary belongs to the Wedi parish in the district of Klaten, which is famous for the contribution it has made over the years to the Indonesian church and, more particularly, the Archdiocese of Semarang. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of priests, nuns, men religious from the area, supported with passion and devotion by the faithful. Even two bishops were born in the parish of Wedi. This is why there is special devotion and attention to the Marian shrine and the Catholic community will continue to be vigilant to preserve its integrity. In a message to the faithful Msgr. Johannes Pujasumarta Pr, Archbishop of Semarang, called for calm and for faithful not to give in to provocation: “Do not show or respond with violence — said the prelate — even if the tension continues to grow.”

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

Pakistan: Saints and Singers in Pakistan’s Punjab

A new tour of Pakistan’s Punjab province offers mystical culture, amazing food and friendly homestays

“Come to Islam,” says 16-year-old Mohammed Irfan, as I enter the courtyard of the exquisite blue-tiled Eidgah mosque in Multan, a hot, dusty town in Pakistan’s Punjab province, known — or rather, barely known — as the City of Saints. “I come here and pray for wealth, a long life, so that we’re able to eat, and for good results in school. I’ve been coming for a long time, and as a result, I’ve come first in my class in my exams,” he beams, his smile as dazzling as the mirror mosaics that adorn the shrine to Sufi saint Ahmad Saeed Kazmi, a scholar and spiritual teacher. Sufism is the mystical arm of Islam, and the Punjab is the Sufi heartland of Pakistan. The scene of centuries of cultural invasions, it’s also the country’s wealthiest and greenest province (despite the blistering expanses of the Cholistan desert, on its south-eastern edge), stretches from Sindh province in the south to the foothills of the Himalayas in the north, and is home to more than half of Pakistan’s population.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Punjab Govt Takes Note of Illegal Mosque Construction

MULTAN: Authorities in Punjab have issued a notification against the illegal construction of mosques and growing sectarianism in Bahawalpur district. According to the notification, 45 mosques are currently being built without prior official permission. Of these, 29 are in Bhawalpur district, 12 in Rahim Yar Khan and four in Bahawalnagar. Recent clashes between Shia and Sunni communities and Barelvi and Deobandi sects have prompted the provincial authorities to take steps to check the rising tide of sectarianism in the region.

The notification has been sent by the home department to the district administrations after a report compiled by a special branch of police in Bhawalpur. Around 697 religious extremists are also under the surveillance of the force. Out of the 697 persons, 211 are listed in the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which means they are the most dangerous suspects. These suspects cannot leave the area without informing the police first. On the other hand, 177 mosques have been identified as being tainted by sectarian conflicts. Shia and Sunni communities are squabbling over the possession of some of these mosques, while Barelvis and Deobandis have their differences over the prayer leaders there.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Thai Man Jailed for Anti-Royalty Text Dies, Lawyer Says

A 62-year-old Thai man who became known as “Uncle SMS” after he was convicted of defaming Thailand’s royal family in text messages died Tuesday while serving his 20-year prison term.

The case of Amphon Tangnoppakul, a grandfather who had suffered from cancer, drew attention to Thailand’s severe lese majeste law last November when he received one of the heaviest-ever sentences for someone accused of insulting the monarchy.

As news of his death spread, about 40 demonstrators gathered outside Bangkok’s Central Criminal Court holding signs denouncing the defamation law and holding leaflets saying “Uncle is dead. Who killed him?”

His wife, Rosmalin Tangnoppakul, learned of his death while trying to visit him Tuesday at the Bangkok prison where he was being held. Friends later consoled her at a prison reception area while she burned and incense stick and prayed.

“Amphon Tangnoppakul, you can come home now,” she said. “You’re free now. Come home!”

The cause of Amphon’s death early Tuesday was not immediately known, but he had complained of stomach pains on Friday and was transferred to a correctional department hospital, his lawyer Anon Numpa said. Officials planned an autopsy on Wednesday, the lawyer said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

US Secretly Releasing Taliban Prisoners From Bagram Prison

Up to 20 prisoners have been released from Bagram prison in the past two years after giving assurances they would give up their struggle and reconcile with the government.

The clandestine “strategic release” programme at the prison north of Kabul has allowed America to use prisoners as bargaining chips when trying to reach local deals with insurgents.

Officials admitted the scheme was risky however and difficult to police. They would not say whether any of those released had resumed attacks on Nato or Afghan forces.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Far East

Al Jazeera Reporter Expelled From China

News broadcaster Al Jazeera has closed its English language bureau in Beijing after its correspondent was expelled from the country. It is the first time China has kicked out an accredited foreign journalist since 1998.

Al Jazeera said it was temporarily forced to close the Beijing bureau of its English service on Tuesday after its sole English language reporter in the country was expelled.

The Qatar-based news broadcaster said they had “no choice” after the Chinese government repeatedly refused its visa requests for reporter Mellissa Chan. It said its applications for additional visas for other correspondents had also gone unanswered.

It is the first time China has expelled a foreign journalist since a German and a Japanese reporter were force out in 1998. China’s foreign ministry, which oversees accreditation for international media, has not indicated the reason for her expulsion.

Chan is a US citizen who had worked as the bureau’s China correspondent since 2007. She had reported extensively on sensitive topics, including the illegal seizure of farmland and the imprisonment of petitioners from the countryside in unofficial “black jails.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Yuan Replacing More and More US Dollar as International Currency

Payments in yuans by European enterprises now account for 47 per cent of global market. Europe has become the second-biggest area using the yuan for cross-border transaction settlements. Within 10 to 20 years, the yuan will replace the US dollar as the main currency to settle trade transactions. The collapse of the US dollar could however lead to economic, political and even military confrontations.

Milan (AsiaNews) — More and more countries are accepting yuans to settle accounts with China, marking the end of the US dollar domination as a reserve currency. For economist Maurizio d’Orlando, “this development represents a strategic threat to the US-led economic system,” and could lead to political or even military confrontations.

China has kept its currency under tight control, holding its value deliberately low in order to promote its exports. In the past few years, Beijing has allowed some fluctuation. The issue of its revaluation has been a major issue in US-Chinese relations, including in the most recent talks.

In order to get out from under the dollar’s shadow and avoid the impact of its debacle, China has signed deals with other countries to use the yuan, first with Hong Kong, then Argentina, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, the United Arab Emirates and Iceland.

Now China’s central bank wants to strike a similar arrangement with the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank.

European companies however have already been using the yuan for some time. The latest report from the Society Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIT) shows that yuan-clearing transactions in Europe are trailing behind only Hong Kong, the primary pilot offshore yuan settlement district designated by Beijing.

Excluding the Hong Kong market, payments made in the yuan by European enterprises accounted for 47 per cent of the global market, more than the market share of 41 per cent held by the Asia-Pacific region.

As a sign of what is happening, the total global transaction amounts settled in March increased by 8.6 per cent% compared to February, but those settled in the Chinese currency registered a much higher growth rate of 13.2 per cent.

Similarly, at the end of March, Australia signed a currency swap deal with China’s central bank worth A$ 30 billion. This deal could help the yuan become China’s primary trade currency in the next two years, Australian experts said.

The yuan will be used widely as a key currency to settle international commodity transactions in 10 to 20 years, said Jean-Francois Lambert, managing director and global chief of commodity and structured trade finance at HSBC.

However, some experts are concerned. For economist Maurizio d’Orlando, “The growing use of the yuan in international trade transactions will lead sooner or later to the collapse of the existing financial system based on the US dollar as reserve currency. This development could be accelerated by political events and eventual conflicts. In case of conflict, the collapse of the system could be hastened until a sudden crash.”

In any case, the current trend represents a threat to the existing US-dominated economic system.

For d’Orlando, “The decision to go along this path could inexorably lead to economic, political or even military conflict.”

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

Australia — Pacific

$1.5 Million to Recognise Islamic Culture and Heritage

Joint media release with the Hon Simon Crean MP — Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Minister for the Arts and Senator the Hon Kate Lundy — Minister for Sport, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation.

Arts Minister Simon Crean and Multicultural Affairs Minister Senator Kate Lundy today announced $1.5 million in Australian Government funding to support capital works for the creation of the Islamic Museum of Australia in Melbourne.

Speaking at the launch of a new documentary Boundless Plains — the Australian Muslim Connection, Senator Lundy said the Australian Government was proud to support such a significant project that recognised the invaluable contribution of Islamic culture and heritage.

‘The Islamic Museum of Australia will help to foster understanding and promote community harmony and social inclusion,’ Senator Lundy said.

‘It will serve to educate the wider Australian community of the rich and longstanding history that Islam has had in our nation.

‘Here in Melbourne, the Museum will join a rich tapestry of cultural institutions celebrating the contribution of Greek, Italian, Jewish and Chinese communities.’

Mr Crean said the Islamic Museum of Australia would make a significant contribution to the cultural life of our nation.

‘Culture is incredibly important to understanding ourselves better, not just as individuals, but as a nation,’ Mr Crean said.

‘Australia is uniquely placed. We have one of the oldest living cultures on earth and we continue to attract the greatest diversity of cultures on earth.

‘That is why we are proud to be involved in this partnership for community cultural development.’

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Are Aussies Too Biased to Try This Muslim Man?

ISMAIL Belghar is believed to be the first Muslim in Australia to be granted a judge-only trial on the grounds that a jury may be biased because of his religious beliefs.

The decision in the NSW District Court can be revealed after Belghar, 36, yesterday pleaded guilty to detaining and assaulting his sister-in-law after she “dared” to take his wife to the beach without his permission. The court heard, because of his religious beliefs and because he thought he had absolute authority over her, Belghar felt it “abhorrent” that his wife, Hanife Kokden, had been to the beach where she “displayed her body”.

In March, Judge Ronald Solomon had granted Belghar a trial before a judge sitting alone after agreeing he may not receive a fair trial with a jury.

“The attitude of (Belghar) … is based on a religious or cultural basis. In light of the fact there has been adverse publicity regarding people who hold extreme Muslim faith beliefs in the community, I am of the view that the apprehension by (Belghar) that he may not receive a fair trial is a reasonable apprehension,” Judge Solomon said.

The Moroccan immigrant had originally been charged with the attempted murder of his wife’s younger sister, Canan Kokden, 25.

The Crown appealed against Judge Solomon’s ruling arguing that, if the judge was correct, every Muslim would be entitled to a judge-only trial.

Last week the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned the ruling and ordered Belghar be tried by a jury.

The trial was due to start yesterday when instead Belghar pleaded guilty to detaining Ms Kokden for advantage to intimidate and assault. He denied attempted murder and that charge was dropped.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC told the court the Crown would be seeking a jail term.

The court had heard Belghar, who has been married to his wife for 11 years, became aware she had been to the beach in late 2009 because her shoulders were slightly sunburned.

He rang his sister-in-law and said: “You slut, how dare you take my wife to the beach.”

Just before Christmas, 2009, Ms Kokden came face to face with Belghar while out shopping with her brother at the Broadway Shopping Centre.

Belghar slapped her across the face then carried her to the railing around the car park where he held her out over it.

She was freed when her brother tackled Belghar.

Belghar will be sentenced at a later date.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: Attack Foiled in Kano, Boko Haram Suspected

(AGI) Abuja — A new murderous attack on the University of Kano, the northern Nigerian city with the country’s second highest population, has been foiled. The company in charge of security at the university this morning discovered three bombs, each placed in a different area of the campus. The devices were found in the Law Faculty, the Science Faculty and in a gymnasium. Police told local media that the devices were ready to explode and could have caused major loss of life. On April 29, Kano’s Bayero University, one of the most important in the country, was the setting for an attack on the Christian community, whose members were praying in a room dedicated to religious services, in which 19 people (including two university professors) were killed. At the end of January, also in Kano, the Islamic terror group Boko Haram staged their deadliest ever attack. Nigerian police say that 185 people were killed, though independent sources put the figure at at least 250. .

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

Nigeria: Boko Haram Attacks Keep Children Out of School

More than ten thousand children in northeast Nigeria are unable to attend school, following attacks by Islamist sect Boko Haram, whose name means “western education is forbidden”.

In a message posted on the Internet, a Boko Haram spokesman who gave his name as Abu Qaqa said the group is attacking schools in northern Nigeria in retaliation for an attack on a Koran school by soldiers. He said soldiers had beaten pupils with canes, adding “When you attack Koran schools, we will totally destroy western schools.”

There is no independent confirmation that the military did in fact attack a Koran school. However the Islamist sect has so far burnt down more than a dozen primary schools.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Trade Chief Warns of Imminent Action Against Argentina

(BRUSSELS) — European Union trade chief Karel De Gucht said Monday the bloc will shortly take action against Argentina’s government, after its decision to seize control of oil giant Repsol’s YPF subsidiary.

“We will soon be moving forward with a response to Argentina’s action in the Repsol case, in particular,” De Gucht said in a speech during which he complained of a “growing tendency towards protectionism across Latin America.”

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner on Friday signed a bill expropriating 51 percent of YPF’s stock from Repsol, its majority shareholder, sealing a measure that has roiled the country’s trade ties with Europe.

“Argentina has also continued other trade restrictive policies, like its import-licensing regime,” De Gucht added. “And just last week we saw Bolivia take another step towards nationalising utility companies at the expense of a Spanish firm. “These types of moves are of course a problem for Argentina and Bolivia — which will find it harder to secure the international investment they need,” he underlined.

EU officials have already complained about the “overly broad use” of red tape, notably in the “pre-registration and pre-approval of all imports into Argentina.” Individual states may also suspend WTO-compliant preferential trade status accorded to Buenos Aires.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Monday that the seizure will trigger a “tremendous” loss in investor confidence in the country, while other international organisations have also criticised the measure.

Kirchner has argued that the move was justified because Argentina faces sharp rises in its bill for imported oil, and Repsol has failed to make agreed investments needed to expand domestic production.

YPF accounts for 34 percent of Argentina’s domestic oil production, 25 percent of domestic gas production and 54 percent of domestic refining, according to the Argentine Oil Institute.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Austria: Kurz Tackles Immigration at School Level

Integration Secretary Sebastian Kurz, 26, was at the ministry of interior affairs this week discussing with educationalists whether schools were failing in their mission of integration.

Kurz was preparing for today’s launch of Vienna’s second annual Integration week, which he described as ‘an integration offensive necessary in order to build consciousnesses.’

The youngest minister in Austria’s cabinet cut a dashing figure and spoke fluently without notes on how schools are tackling integration issues such as bilingualism, religion and diversity.

According to recent Eurostat figures, Austria is one of a few European countries alongside Luxembourg and Switzerland that has a double digit migrant population.

Kurz confirmed that ‘1.5 million immigrants live in Austria, a 10.4% migrant population.’ Going further, he stated how: ‘In the capital, the percentage of people of migrant stock rises to 39%. Vienna like many other European capitals has 150 languages spoken in its schools. At primary school level, one in two pupils is of a migration background, mostly from the Balkans and Turkey.

Under the motto, ‘Integration through achievement’, the question of language was a major theme as schools are frequently the last bastions of community in urban settings. Some Viennese schools in districts like Brigitenau and Ottakring have a migrant intake that is over 80%.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Belgium’s Integration Problem

New Europe reported a recent incident that occurred on the streets of Brussels which raised questions as to the true integration of the Muslim population in an already divded country.

Crime in EU’s capital has been growing as well as minority popoulation. Integration of Muslims into Belgium culture has been extremely difficult. With a rapidly growing population, the capital of Belgium — and of the EU — is already one of the most multicultural in Europe. Muslims are already a majority in some neighborhoods.

After reaching an historic high of 1.1 million residents in early 2010, the Brussels Region will, according to the planning bureau, gain another 250,000 people in the next 20 years. According to the Brussels Institute of Statistics and Analysis, by 2018 it might have 1.2m.

Although Brussels still has one of the lowest homicide rates among European cities, it is of little consolation to a country shaken by shootings, riots and prison breaks. Dirk Jacobs, a sociology professor at Brussels Free University said: “It is clear that the city — and the country at large — is confronted with unprecedented social problems, and policymakers seem to be spending their energy on other topics.” It is also a matter of diplomatic concern because Brussels serves not only as the capital of the nation but as the home of most of the European Union’s institutions. In March 2010, the president of the European Parliament demanded that Belgium provide special security around the E.U. institutions after a series of mugging incidents involving MPs.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Immigrant Kids Need More Schooling’: Sweden

The Swedish government has revealed a new directive aimed at improving immigrant students’ education and integration into Sweden, revolving around longer compulsory schooling and a shift in lesson priorities.

In a statement released on Tuesday by the Government Offices of Sweden (Regeringkansliet), Jan Björklund, the Minister for Education and Erik Ullenhag, the Minister for Integration, revealed plans to attack issues facing the 70,000 foreign-born students in Swedish schools.

Björklund pointed out that it is “unfair” that students who have recently arrived to Sweden are being compared and rated against Swedish students. “If you write a national exam after just a few years in a Swedish school, it’s obvious that you won’t pass,” Björklund told the TT news agency. The government also intends to remove the students who have lived in Sweden for four years or less from the grading statistics.

“It’s not reasonable to evaluate the performance of a school based on how many of the foreign-born students have reached the objectives in Swedish. After a few years, it’s reasonable that they pass, but not from the beginning,” Björklund told TT.

Key issues regarding these foreign students, who make up nine percent of Sweden’s primary school student population, revolved around how to integrate the children and raise the quality of their education by considering lesson priorities and additional compulsory schooling.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Get Rid of That ‘Allochtoon’ Word, Advisory Group Tells Government

The government should stop categorising the population of the Netherlands according to ethnicity and parental birth places, according to the government’s advisory group on social development RMO, the Volkskrant reports on Tuesday.

Concepts such as niet-westerse allochtoon (literally non-western non-native) should be scrapped. Instead local councils should only record the birth place of the person concerned, rather than that of their parents, the RMO says. The organisation, which advises the government and parliament on social themes, was not asked to make recommendations on registering ethnicity, the paper says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Second Arson Attack at Swiss Asylum Centre

For the second time in a week, arsonists set fire to a house occupied by asylum seekers on Saturday night. “The perpetrators set fire to the front doors using firelighters,” an Iraqi tenant known only as Samiri F told online news site 20 Minuten. The attacks took place at an asylum centre in the town of Affoltern am Albis, near Zurich.

“I’ve lived here for seven years, but such a thing has never happened before,” said Daniel L from Ethiopia. A security guard has been posted at the premises but it is uncertain how long he will stay for. “We are all very scared. Women and children also live here, “ said Samiri F.

The arson attacks of the past week were the first to target asylum seekers in ten years. According to extremist expert, Samuel Althof, the attacks reflect the “heated, xenophobic sentiment” currently alive in the country.

“Federal Councillor Sommaruga is partly responsible,” Liberal councillor Peter Malama told the website. “She must take this signal seriously and ensure that asylum applications are processed as quickly as possible.”

National Councillor Andreas Gross also thinks the attacks reflect the fact that people do not feel understood. Althof believes that such discontentment leads violent and unhappy men to turn to criminal activity.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UNHCR: 81 Have Died in the Mediterranean in 2012

Victims of latest tragedy near Malta also fleeing from Libya

(ANSAmed) — GENEVA, MAY 8 — Since the start of the year, 81 “boat people” fleeing from Libya have died in the Mediterranean Sea according to the most recent figures released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). After the most recent tragedy at sea, which saw seven Somali refugees lose their lives before their boat reached the coast of Malta on Saturday, the number of people who have died or who are listed as missing at sea during the exodus from Libya to Europe has risen this year to 81, “equivalent to 2 people every three days on average”, said UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards today in Geneva. The spokesman reported the accounts of the 90 survivors of the journey who arrived on Malta in a fatigued state on Saturday.

According to survivor accounts, five men and two women died during the trip, said Edwards. This is the fourth immigrant boat to land on Malta since the start of the year, bringing the total number of people who have arrived on the island to 210. During the same period, 45 boats arrived on Italian shores. Around 2,200 people have arrived in total. The UNHCR estimates that about 1,500 people died during their attempt to arrive to Europe by sea from North Africa last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Fox News Won’t Fire Black Racist Commentator

Fox News contributor Jehmu Greene, a black feminist, says on her Twitter page that “love can build a bridge.” But racism, not love, was on display last Thursday when she called conservative Tucker Carlson a “bow-tying white boy.”

Greene, a Democratic Party operative who was the national director of Project Vote, a group with close ties to the corrupt ACORN organization, has not offered a public apology. There is no indication that her financial relationship with Fox News has suffered as a result of the racial outburst.

“Jehmu apologized to Tucker by phone after the segment,” Irena Briganti, Group Senior Vice President at FOX News Channel & FOX Business Network, tells Accuracy in Media.

This is apparently the end of the matter for Fox News.

Robert Lifson of American Thinker pointed out that if Tucker Carlson had ever called Louis Farrakhan “a bow-tying black boy,” he would be out of a job.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Criminalization of America’s Schoolchildren

By John W. Whitehead

“[P]ublic school reform is now justified in the dehumanizing language of national security, which increasingly legitimates the transformation of schools into adjuncts of the surveillance and police state. students are increasingly subjected to disciplinary apparatuses which limit their capacity for critical thinking, mold them into consumers, test them into submission, strip them of any sense of social responsibility and convince large numbers of poor minority students that they are better off under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system than by being valued members of the public schools.” -Professor Henry Giroux

[Return to headlines]

The Psychology of Racism, Part 2

The thought of anger and frustration spreading like a disease may have a familiar ring to it—it underlies many emotional illnesses. But whereas most emotionally disturbed people have a smorgasbord of judgments, the racist fixates on a non-changeable mark of distinction. For those who find variety “the spice of life,” self-righteous judgment can be sparked by anything— animate or inanimate—that crosses their path and annoys, intrudes, or simply exists.

A person who is extremely hostile can find innumerable reasons to look down on people: the financial status of an acquaintance, a neighbor’s wardrobe, a friend’s choice of husband or wife, the boss’s looks, burnt toast, cold weather, delays in plans, the tone of someone’s voice, loud laughter, sad faces. This need for constant irritation can result in severe, chronic emotional problems.

Although this does not describe racism per se, it follows a similar mental process. When it is not restricted to hatred of a particular racial color, it becomes a smorgasbord of petty grievances against everyone and everything. And the more the person puts himself in the role of “supreme judge,” the more guilty he becomes. The growing guilt intensifies the need to find fault until everyone and everything is on the hit list. His secret contempt towards those around him turns otherwise neutral encounters into moments of unhealthy intrigue. This constant emotional turmoil can ultimately lead to a nervous breakdown.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Scientists Should ‘Cool it’ On Alien Life Claims, Biologist Says

Scientists and the media need to stop “crying wolf” about new life forms, says a prominent molecular biologist. Writing in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, Scripps Research Institute scientist Gerald Joyce said that frenzies such as the one over alleged arsenic-eating bacteria in 2010 could ultimately lead to lack of interest in the kind of science it would take to discover new life forms, should they exist.

“I just worry that we cry wolf too many times, and people are going to start tuning it out,” Joyce told LiveScience. “Let’s just cool it on these false alarms,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]