Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120510

Financial Crisis
»Breaking a German Taboo: Bundesbank Prepared to Accept Higher Inflation
»British Bookies Suspend Betting on Greek Euro Exit
»Croatian Economy to Shrink 1.0 % in 2012: Central Bank
»Dutch Central Bank Warns We Face a ‘Lost Decade’ of Low Growth
»Finnish Central Banker Says Rich Greeks Should be Taxed
»Foreign Investors Return to Iceland
»French Economy to Continue Flat in Q2: Central Bank
»German Bank Breaks Anti-Inflation Taboo
»German Exports Hit Record in March
»Grexit Would be ‘Regrettable, But Not Fatal’
»Italy: Monti Clarifies ‘Human Cost’ Comments
»Legalising Cannabis Would Solve Spain’s Deficit Problem, Says Branson
»Merkel Rejects Call for More Credit Growth
»Spain: Gov’t Nationalizes 100% of Bankia’s Controlled BFA
»Spain: Protests and General Strike Against Education Cuts
»Spain Calms Market Fears With Bankia Takeover
»Spain: Valencia Pays More Than Greece for Six-Month Debt
»Spanish PM Defends EU Fiscal Pact, Austerity Policy
»Too Poor for Stimulus?
»Anti-Sharia Rally Set in Lansing
»Brookfield Mosque Earns Support of Plan Commission
»FBI’s Mueller Lies About Purging of Truth From Training Material About Islam and Jihad: “Political Correctness Had Nothing to Do With it”
»Justice Department Planning to Sue Arizona Sheriff Arpaio Over Alleged Racial Profiling
»Reusable Grocery Bag Carried Nasty Norovirus, Scientists Say
»Teaching Muslim Children Jihad and Jew-Hatred in Toronto
Europe and the EU
»Austrian Imperial Underwear Sold Off
»Ayaan Hirsi Ali Wins Axel Springer Award
»Belgium: Waterloo Battle Site Gets a Facelift
»British Jubilee Gibraltar Visit Annoys Spain
»British Schools Fail Our Children Say Eastern European Immigrants Who Would Rather Return Home Than Rely on the NHS
»Cowboy Hat Courier Nabbed in Norway
»Disclosure of Romanian Pimping Ring in Helsinki Speaks of Arrival of Criminal Groups
»Ending on a Sour Note: How the World’s Top Stradivarius Dealer Misplayed
»France: UMP Parliamentary Elections Slogan ‘Choose France’
»France: Man ‘Killed Neighbour Over Dead Goldfish’
»German Drops Mayan Skull, Endangers Mankind
»How Right-Wing Extremists and Islamists Are the Same
»Hungary Limits Boat Traffic on the River Danube
»Michelle Bachmann Takes Swiss Citizenship
»Netherlands: ‘Crucial’ Van Gogh Watercolour Bought by Museum
»Norway: Kebab Chaos in Oslo as Hungry Punters Fight Over Free Food
»Scotland: Ditched Helicopter Passengers Safe
»Switzerland: Angry Alpine Tour Guide Chopped Down Crosses
»Too Easy to be Europeans When All is Well, Barroso
»‘Turbulence’ Warning as EU Marks 62nd Birthday
»UK: 77 Years for Asian Sex Beasts… 50 More on the Loose
»UK: Asian Sex Gang: Young Girls Betrayed by Our Fear of Racism
»UK: Child Sex Grooming: The Asian Question
»UK: Defence Secretary Philip Hammond Announces U-Turn Over Carrier Fighter Jets
»UK: Harry Potter Manuscript on Show
»UK: Mosque Rallies to Help Victims of Famine
»UK: Muslims, ‘Sex Gangs’ And White Working-Class Women
»UK: Mohammed Shafiq: An Obsession With Racism That Left Vulnerable Girls at the Mercy of Sex Predators
»UK: Outrage as Police Repeatedly Taser Terrified Alzheimer’s Sufferer in Front of His Wife Because He Didn’t Want to Go Into Care — Then Tie Him Up in His Living Room
»UK: Press May Face Fines From New Watchdog if Codes of Conduct Are Broken, PCC Chief Warns
»UK: Rochdale Grooming Trial: Police Knew About Sex Abuse in 2002 But Failed to Act
»UK: The Conservative Party is Failing to Define and Promote Its Vision
»UK: Teacher at Local Mosque Gets Six Years in Jail
»UK: The Horrific Consequences of the Islamophobia Witch-Hunt
»Albania Gives EU Green Light on Organ Probe
Mediterranean Union
»European Parliament for Euro-Mediterranean Free-Trade Zone
North Africa
»Egypt: Italy-WFP Agreement for Food Supply
»Tuaregs’ Ties With Libya Linked to Mali’s Crisis
Israel and the Palestinians
»Israeli City Reportedly Bans Girls From Singing at Youth Conference
Middle East
»Behind Foiled Jet Plot, Stronger Saudi Ties
»China, Russia Call for End to Syria Violence
»Iraq: Former Insurgent Stronghold Faces Challenges
»Kuwait: Bill Proposed to Prevent ‘Female Judges’
»Lebanon: NGO Amel: Alert for Exploitation of Foreign Women
»Turkey: EU Tourists Tripled in 10 Years, Tourism Minister
»Russian City Launches Bid to Become European Culture Capital
»Russia Foils Plot to Attack 2014 Olympics
»WWII Victory Day Still Stirs Controversy in Latvia
South Asia
»Aeroflot Says to Keep Flying Superjet Despite Crash
»Jihad Against America: Relations Remain Icy Between Pakistan and the US
»Superjet 100 Disaster in Indonesia: Russia’s Prestige Project Crashes Into Volcano
Far East
»Japan: U.S. Senator Sounds Alarm About ‘Precarious’ Fukushima Situation, Warns of Imminent Release of Radiation
»South China Sea Dispute is Turning More Turbulent
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Nigeria: ‘Boko Haram is a Symptom, Not a Disease’
»South Sudan Accuses Khartoum of Truce-Breaking Airstrikes
»Sudanese Refugees Fear Return Home
»Denmark: Activists Work to Put More Control in Asylum Seekers’ Hands
»Dozens of Migrants Stopped Off Sicily
»Italy: Police Arrest Two Tunisians Over Perugia Rampage
»Spain: Madrid Begins Denying Health Cards to Illegal Migrants
»Spain: Charity is the Only Medicine, PP Tells Foreign Residents
Culture Wars
»UK: Lesbian PCSO ‘Fondled Colleague’s Breasts and Groped Male Officers During String of Sexual Assaults’
»Microsoft Returning Windows to ‘The Digital Dark Ages’?

Financial Crisis

Breaking a German Taboo: Bundesbank Prepared to Accept Higher Inflation

Germany’s central bank has indicated it may tolerate higher inflation in Germany as the price of rebalancing economies within the euro zone. The move marks a major shift away from the Bundesbank’s hardline approach on price stability. Economists have hailed the decision as a “breakthrough.” Inflation is a political hot button issue in Germany, where the hyperinflation of the early 1920s has not been forgotten and many people still have a deep-rooted fear of their money losing value.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

British Bookies Suspend Betting on Greek Euro Exit

(LONDON) — British bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill have suspended betting on whether crisis-hit Greece will leave the eurozone, citing on Thursday political uncertainty in the country.

Athens was plunged into fresh crisis over the weekend as angry voters rejected austerity measures, leaving politicians struggling to form a viable government and raising fresh doubts over Greece’s eurozone membership.

“While the uncertainty continues in Greece, we have suspended betting on all markets in relation to a withdrawal,” a Ladbrokes spokesman told AFP. “We will pay out on an official statement of intention (to withdraw). The odds were slashed to 1/3 from 4/6 this morning before we pulled it.”

A bookmaker offering odds of 1/3 means someone would need to bet GBP 3 ($4.8, 3.7 euros) to win back just GBP 1 plus their stake. In a separate statement on Thursday, Ladbrokes rival William Hill added that it had stopped taking new bets on which would be the first eurozone member to exit the bloc.

“As the Greek financial crisis continues, William Hill have suspended their market on which country will be the first to quit the eurozone — for which Greece was the red hot favourite at 1/4,” it said. The group has also suspended bets on the euro ceasing to exist by December 2015.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Croatian Economy to Shrink 1.0 % in 2012: Central Bank

(ZAGREB) — Croatia’s economy will shrink 1.0 percent this year, the central bank governor said on Thursday and warned the structural reforms are needed in the Balkans nation that joins the European Union in 2013. “We estimate that this year gross domestic product (GDP) will contract by some 1.0 percent due to a reduction of consumption and exports,” governor Zeljko Rohatinski said.

Rohatinski, who also forecast 3.5 percent inflation this year, stressed that “only deep, painful structural reforms” would help the country overcome economic hardship. “The government is aware of that,” he emphasised.

Croatia’s economy was flat 2011. It was the third consecutive year the Balkan country’s economy, based mostly on its tourism industry on the Adriatic coast, saw no growth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Dutch Central Bank Warns We Face a ‘Lost Decade’ of Low Growth

There is a risk of a ‘lost decade’ of low economic growth in Europe, during which the Netherlands will be particularly vulnerable because of its enormous mortgage debt, the Netherlands Bank (DNB) said in a report on Thursday. The bank says European leaders must continue with austerity measures in order to get their finances in order. Only then will confidence in the economy return.

They must also undertake structural measures to improve the growth and competitive opportunities of EU countries, says the bank. Because the Dutch mortgage debt is so high, the bank is pleased with the plan by the five-party coalition to only give mortgage tax relief where the actual loan is repaid, rather than just the interest on the loan.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Finnish Central Banker Says Rich Greeks Should be Taxed

Bank of Finland governor and former EU commissioner Erkki Liikanen has advised Greece to tax the rich as a way to solve the country’s debt crisis. “The kind of country where the rich don’t pay tax at all …. undergoes extreme unfairness,” he told public broadcaster Yle.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Foreign Investors Return to Iceland

Iceland, one of the first European countries to experience a financial meltdown has seen foreign investors return, with mainly Americans buying up sovereign bonds last week worth $1bn, the Wall Street Journal reports. “This transaction is an important milestone for Iceland,” said Finance Minister Oddny Haroardottir.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

French Economy to Continue Flat in Q2: Central Bank

France’s central bank forecast zero growth for the second quarter Thursday, marking two quarters running of stagnation just as president-elect Francois Hollande gears up to take charge of the economy. France’s gross domestic product should remain “stable” in the second quarter compared to the first quarter, which also saw zero growth, the Bank of France said in statement.

France’s INSEE statistics institute has said it expects 0.2 percent growth in the second quarter. The French economy grew by only 1.7 percent last year and slowed to just 0.2 percent in the last quarter, mirroring a wider slowdown in the 17-nation eurozone as a whole.

In January, the government was forced to slash its 2012 growth forecast from 1.0 percent to 0.5 percent, bringing it into line with the International Monetary Fund’s estimate. France’s struggling economy was a key factor in Hollande’s win over outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday’s French presidential election.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Bank Breaks Anti-Inflation Taboo

In a marked shift from its age-old taboo of accepting higher inflation, the German Bundesbank on Wednesday (10 May) said it may tolerate a devaluation of the common currency to help out crisis-hit countries suffering under a strong euro.

Jens Ulbrich — who heads the economics department for Germany’s central bank — told a public hearing in Berlin that it would hurt to weaken his country’s powerful export model and to loosen its national financial policies just to help other countries.

He added however, that as “periphery” countries face economic restructuring — decreasing labour costs and making it easier for employers to hire and fire — Germany might have to live with a higher inflation rate. “In this scenario, Germany is likely to have above average inflation rates in the future,” he said.

Echoing comments made by European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi last week, the German banker added that euro states should create a “real fiscal union” in which countries hand over a portion of their sovereignty on fiscal matters to a European body.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the Bundesbank has been the most wary of any sort of inflationary policies and consistently opposed interventions by the European Central Bank, such as the €1 trillion in cheap bank loans that helped bring down Italy and Spain’s borrowing costs.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday joined a chorus of economists calling for Germany to spend more and allow for higher wages so as to shrink the big gap that exists between the southern, crisis-hit euro countries and the economic powerhouse of Europe.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble last week also suggested a shift in the low-wage-to-keep-strong-exports policy, saying German workers should have wage increases. “If anyone deserves a pay rise, it is the Germans,” he joked.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Exports Hit Record in March

(FRANKFURT) — German exports grew to a record level in March, boosting a trade surplus by 16.8 percent from the February level on strong demand from outside the European Union, official data showed on Wednesday. Germany’s trade surplus grew to 17.4 billion euros in March, the figures showed, but exports to the eurozone fell on a 12-month basis.

The German economy, the biggest in Europe, exported goods worth 98.9 billion euros ($128 billion) in March, up 8.4 percent from the figure for February and beating the previous record from March 2011, the national statistics office Destatis said. On a 12-month basis, exports to countries outside the European Union grew by 6.1 percent to 41.9 billion euros while exports to countries in the crisis-hit eurozone contracted by 3.6 percent to 38.1 billion euros.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Grexit Would be ‘Regrettable, But Not Fatal’

With Greece apparently unable to form a government and the leader of one party rejecting the country’s bailout commitments, warnings are growing across Europe that Athens may have to leave the euro zone. German editorialists say it would be a shame but probably wouldn’t mean the end of the common currency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Clarifies ‘Human Cost’ Comments

‘I was not referring to suicides’

(ANSA) — Rome, May 9 — Italian Premier Mario Monti has issued a statement clarifying his comments on the ‘human cost’ of Italy’s economic crisis.

“I was not referring to suicides,” he said after the Italian press on Tuesday linked his statements to the country’s growing rate of suicides amid the economic crisis. “I was speaking about the human consequences of the crisis, that obviously are many, which should make us think about who brought the economy to this state and not who is trying to get us out of it.

“Those who were listening heard that I was not referring to any government in particular”.

Monti’s unelected emergency administration replaced Silvio Berlusconi’s in November with the primary aim of fixing the economy before elections next year. “I was referring to the fact that this government, which by its nature has a short tenure, needs to worry about the long term,” he added. “I am sorry that everything can be misinterpreted or manipulated.

“We are certainly not here to make political criticism of any kind”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Legalising Cannabis Would Solve Spain’s Deficit Problem, Says Branson

The official opening of Barcelona’s Cannabis Museum yesterday proved to be the perfect opportunity for experts to renew calls for the legalisation of the drug, with Richard Branson saying that Spain could solve its deficit problem by legalising cannabis alone.

The multi-millionaire founder of the Virgin emporium is also a member of a global commission on drugs policy which includes five ex-presidents and Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, and which concluded last year that the war on drugs had failed and called for experiments in decriminalisation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Merkel Rejects Call for More Credit Growth

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected calls from her center-left opponents for economic stimulus policies that rely on new debt, warning that taking on more credit would just push Europe deeper into crisis. Angela Merkel made it clear in the German parliament, the Bundestag, on Thursday morning that she was still opposed to the issue of taking out further credit to stimulate the European economy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Gov’t Nationalizes 100% of Bankia’s Controlled BFA

Treasury majority shareholder with 45%, Spain’s 4th bank

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 10 — The Spanish government will nationalize 100% of Banco Financiero y de Ahorro (BFA), controlled by Bankia, Spain’s fourth bank, getting control of 45% of its shares. Bankia will inject only “strictly necessary” capitals for the recovery of the banking group.

According to sources of the Economy Ministry, quoted by Spanish media today, a process of conversion into shares of the EUR 4.46 bln loan delivered to the banking group in 2008 by Zapatero’s government through the Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB) will be implemented, resulting in the state indirectly holding 45% of Bankia’s capital and being the banking group’s main shareholder. According to sources, the State’s intervention does not imply the administration of an external commissioner for the bank; however, it is a “necessary step to take in order to guarantee solvency, reassure clients and dispel the markets’ doubts on the bank’s need for money.” BFA is the eighth nationalized bank in Spain since the beginning of the crisis. Nationalization was suggested yesterday by Bankia’s new Chairman, Jose’ Ignacio Goirigolzarri, during his appointment, Goirigolzarri replaced Rodriguo Rato, formed IMF director and Economy Minister during Aznar’s government, who had resigned earlier. In order to reassure international markets and investors about lack of contamination of toxic assets in the Spanish banks’ balance sheets, the government led by Mariano Rajoy is intentioned to increase the coverage of problematic construction and real estate loans, allocating further reserves totalling between EUR 32 and 42 bln, according to sources quoted by EL Pai’s today. These resources would enable the recovery of approximately 30% of the credit portfolio in order to fund the construction and real estate sector, whose reconstruction currently totals 7%. According to Spanish media, the proposal of further significant reserves (adding to EUR 53 bln allocated through the reconstruction decree adopted by the government in February) stirred discontent in the sector, which must also tackle a decrease in revenues.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Protests and General Strike Against Education Cuts

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 10 — Protests continue in Spain against cuts for 3 billion euros to public education finances included in the government’s 2012 budget.

The public school state organization has announced a “day of struggle” for today, with strikes and demonstrations in various Spanish cities and which precedes the national strike announced for May 22 by the trade unions and associations of teachers, primary, high-school and university students. The news has been reported by sources inside the CcOo, Fete-Ugt, Stes and Cgt unions, by the Confederation of students’ parents, the CEAPA, by the student union and by the state confederation of the pedagogic innovation movement, who will all gather into squares to shout “No to the dismantling of Public schools. No to social suicide”.

The protests have been called for in about twenty cities including Barcelona and Madrid, where a procession will begin from the Ministry of Education, whereas a day of strike has been called by the pubic universities of the capital, the Complutense and the Politecnica.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain Calms Market Fears With Bankia Takeover

Spain stamped out immediate fears of a banking catastrophe Thursday by nationalising its fourth-largest listed bank, Bankia, and salvaging its balance sheet, strewn with red ink. Bankia’s stock slumped. But the rest of the financial sector rallied after the dramatic U-turn by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government, which had refused to countenance using public money.

The government announced the state would take a 45-percent stake in Bankia by converting a state-backed loan of 4.465 billion euros ($5.8 billion) into shares in the parent company. The transaction, announced late Wednesday, means the government “will take control”, an Economy Ministry statement said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Valencia Pays More Than Greece for Six-Month Debt

Region of Valencia sells 500 million euros of short-term bonds on Thursday

Yields reach seven percent, which is higher than Greece, Portugal and Ireland

The highly indebted region of Valencia sold 500 million euros of six-month bonds on Thursday, but had to pay yields of seven percent. That’s higher than the cost of debt for the three euro-zone countries that have come to symbolize the financial crisis: Greece, which pays 4.947 percent; Portugal, 2.226 percent; and Ireland, 0.988 percent.

Valencia carried out the operation to refinance a debt that was due to be repaid today, and will be followed by another two repayments: 500 million euros on May 9, and 473 million on May 27. In total, the region will have to renew five billion euros of public debt over 2012.

Given that its rating has been lowered to junk-bond status, the region has repeatedly warned that it will need help from the central government to cope with its finances.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spanish PM Defends EU Fiscal Pact, Austerity Policy

Spain supports the EU’s fiscal pact on cutting budget deficits and will continue to pursue its austerity policies at home, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Wednesday. “Spain, which has signed the EU fiscal compact, holds that this treaty must remain in place in the future,” the conservative leader said as popular pressure grows on eurozone leaders to focus more on growth than on austerity. Rajoy said “deficit reduction measures are a good policy.”

The election of Francois Hollande as French president at the weekend on a promise to add growth measures to the EU fiscal pact signed in March has reopened the growth versus austerity debate in Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Too Poor for Stimulus?

After two years of austerity, growth is suddenly back in fashion in Europe, following calls by the incoming French president, François Hollande, for measures to boost the economy. But the EU’s planned “growth pact” is likely to be too small to help the crisis-hit countries of southern Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Anti-Sharia Rally Set in Lansing

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — The bills, HB 4769 and SB 701, have been called anti-Sharia legislation. Its sponsor, Michigan Rep. Dave Agema (R-Grandville), said the bill is aimed at barring the implementation of foreign laws. While the law does not mention Sharia or Islamic law, local Muslim activists and others say the bill is aimed at Muslims. “This is not controversial — this is a no-brainer,” said Agema in a prepared statement Wednesday. “Why would we ever surrender our Constitutional rights by eroding or supplanting them with wholly incompatible foreign laws? Millions have fled persecution from oppressive regimes to come to America, whose bulwark of freedom is ourConstitution. I urge my legislative colleagues to act swiftly to pass these bills.”

Metro Detroit Muslim activist Dawud Walid, the executive director of CAIR-Michigan, said: “All who reside in Michigan have the fundamental right to practice their sincerely held, bona fide religious beliefs, as long as those do not violate the U.S. and Michigan constitutions and laws.” Walid added that Agema’s bill “could not only adversely affect Michigan Muslims, but also followers of other religions, including Judaism and Christianity, for whom courts routinely order reasonable accommodations for the observance of religious laws.” Also on Wednesday, CAIR released a list of organizations that includes the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, Jewish Voice of Peace, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee — Michigan and the National Action Network which oppose the bills.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Brookfield Mosque Earns Support of Plan Commission

Brookfield, WI, USA (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Following overwhelming support at a public hearing Monday night, city plan commissioners unanimously backed construction of a mosque in Brookfield, sending the plans to aldermen for final approval. The voice vote drew applause, handshakes and hugs among the approximately 30 people who stayed to hear the vote after the hearing that packed the Common Council chambers and two overflow areas. Commissioner Gary Mahkorn, one of two aldermen whose district includes the mosque site, said he was “so proud” of the community for its support of religious diversity and freedom of religious worship, despite concerns some raised about Islam and terrorism. “We’re a welcoming community,” Mahkorn said. “I’m proud of this community. I’m proud of this country.” Mushir Hassan, project manager for the Islamic Society of Milwaukee and a Brookfield resident and physician, said he was bouyed by the positive reaction Monday. “We’re obviously very encouraged,” Hassan said. “It’s just very heart-warming the degree of support we’ve got from the greater community.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

FBI’s Mueller Lies About Purging of Truth From Training Material About Islam and Jihad: “Political Correctness Had Nothing to Do With it”

Political correctness does not dictate how the FBI trains its counter-terror agents, bureau Director Robert Mueller said during a sometimes testy congressional hearing Wednesday.

A recent purge of FBI training documents came because some of the materials that were being used relied on inaccurate information or stereotypes linking Muslims to terrorism, Mueller told members of the House Judiciary Committee.

Several committee members raised concerns that the bureau was sacrificing national security for politically correct considerations, citing the overhaul of the counter-terror training curriculum as a source of particular worry.

Mueller provided few details as to what standards were used to determine which documents would be scrapped. He refused to identify the outside Islamic experts the bureau relied on to judge whether training materials accurately reflected Islamic beliefs and Muslim behaviors.

“I can say absolutely and with certainty that political correctness played no role in the efforts I undertook to make certain that we will give the best training to our personnel,” Mueller said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Justice Department Planning to Sue Arizona Sheriff Arpaio Over Alleged Racial Profiling

Federal authorities said Wednesday they plan to sue an Arizona county sheriff and his office over allegations of civil rights violations, including the racial profiling of Hispanics. The U.S. Justice Department has been seeking an agreement requiring sheriff Joe Arpaio office to train officers in how to make constitutional traffic stops, collect data on people arrested in traffic stops and reach out to Hispanics to assure them that the department is there to also protect them.

Arpaio has denied the racial profiling allegations and has claimed that allowing a court monitor would mean that every policy decision would have to be cleared through an observer and would nullify his authority. DOJ officials told a lawyer for Arpaio on April 3 that the lawman’s refusal of a court-appointed monitor was a deal-breaker that would end settlement negotiations and result in a federal lawsuit.

The “notice of intent to file civil action” came Wednesday from Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez in a letter to an Arpaio lawyer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Reusable Grocery Bag Carried Nasty Norovirus, Scientists Say

Oregon public health officials have traced a nasty outbreak of norovirus infections in a group of soccer players to an unlikely source: a reusable grocery bag contaminated with what some experts are calling “the perfect pathogens.”

The incident is raising questions, once again, about the cleanliness of the portable shopping bags that many consumers use to avoid the paper vs. plastic impact on the environment.

“We wash our clothes when they’re dirty; we should wash our bags, too,” said Kimberly K. Repp, an epidemiologist with the Washington County Department of Health and Human Services in Hillsboro, Ore. Her work is published this week in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Teaching Muslim Children Jihad and Jew-Hatred in Toronto

The living, ignoble tradition of teaching jihad and Islamic Jew-hatred to Muslim children

A complaint filed by Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center has prompted an investigation of the East End Madrassah, an Islamic school which operates out of David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute, a public high school in Toronto. As reported by the National Post, East End Madrassah’s level 8 curriculum, posted on its website, was found to contain invocations for jihad warfare and Islamic Jew-hatred.

What was not discussed, almost axiomatically, is that these calls for jihad against non-Muslims, and rationalizations for Muslim Jew-hatred, were drawn, in appropriate context, from the Koran, and Sunna (the hadith, the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s words and deeds, and sira, the earliest pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad), Islam’s most important, sacralized canonical sources. This glaring omission—failing to identify, let alone elaborate upon, the canonical Islamic references often plainly cited in the “offending” curricular materials—is entirely consistent with the coverage of similar stories in recent years, for example from New York City, and Fairfax, Virginia, in the US, and indeed virtually all mainstream reportage on the education of Muslim children attending Islamic schools in the West.

Just as predictably, representatives of the Jewish community reacted with shock and indignation that their delusion of a Canadian cultural relativist paradise had been momentarily shattered. Avi Benlolo, President and CEO of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, opined

To think that this is happening right here in Canada, in our backyards, in our own country where we promote tolerance, diversity, understanding, human rights, and bringing those types of concepts over the from the ancient world if you will, its just unbelievable.

David Spiro, Greater Toronto Co-Chair of The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, in a 5/7/12 press release, added…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austrian Imperial Underwear Sold Off

A fan of Austrian royalty has paid 6,250 for a pair of underpants once worn by the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph at the annual Imperial auction in the Vienna Dorotheum auction house. The underpants were specially designed for the Kaiser to be worn while riding.

Franz Joseph was Emperor of Austria from 1848 until his death in 1916. He is known for keeping the Austrian Empire together during times of political hardship.

Also sold at the same time was underwear that had been especially ordered by the country’s beloved Empress Elisabeth “Sisi”, but it fetched less — just over 3,000 — because she had never worn it.

Although Elisabeth had a limited influence on Austrian politics, she became a historical icon. The Empress is now thought to have been a non-conformist who abhorred conventional court protocol, as well as a free spirit who valued an individual sense of freedom above anything else.

Following the suicide of her son, Rudolf, she withdrew from public life. Her murder by an anarchist in Geneva, Switzerland in 1898 ended the life of a woman who has since become known as an enigmatic and tragic figure.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Wins Axel Springer Award

Former Dutch MP and anti-Islam campaigner Ayaan Hirsi Ali is to be awarded the Axel Springer award on Thursday, according to press reports. The award is presented by the Axel Springer Academy for Journalism, named after German journalist and media magnate Axel Springer, who died in 1985. It is being given to Hirsi Ali in honour of her ‘uncompromising fight for the rights of Muslim women’.

Hirsi Ali currently lives in New York with her husband, the Scottish historian Niall Ferguson, and baby son.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Belgium: Waterloo Battle Site Gets a Facelift

Almost 200 years after the French cavalry charge at Waterloo, bulldozers rolled into action Wednesday to spruce up the memorial site of the battle that humbled Napoleon. Where cannon balls once thundered across fields, construction workers began breaking down walls in a project that will see the demolition of restaurants, stores and parking lots considered eyesores in the rural area south of Brussels.

The goal is to bring more beauty to what Victor Hugo once described as a “dreary plain,” the place where Prussian and English troops handed Napoleon’s army a decisive defeat on June 18, 1815. The centrepiece will remain the Lion Mound, a 40-metre (130-foot) tall cone of earth and grass topped by a lion statue that was erected in honour of victorious Prince William of Orange.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

British Jubilee Gibraltar Visit Annoys Spain

Spain told Britain it was “upset and uncomfortable” at a planned visit by Britain’s Prince Edward to the disputed territory of Gibraltar, the Spanish foreign ministry said Thursday. In talks with Britain’s ambassador in Madrid Giles Paxman, ministry official Santiago Cabanas “expressed how upset and uncomfortable the government is with the visit” by Edward and his wife Sophie Rhys-Jones from June 11-13, a statement said.

The visit is part of a summer of celebrations to mark the 60th year on the British throne of Edward’s mother, Queen Elizabeth II, the British embassy in Madrid told AFP. It made no immediate direct reaction to Spain’s complaint.

Gibraltar, a largely self-governing enclave complete with British pubs and red telephone boxes nestled under a cliffside at the eastern neck of the Mediterranean, is a rare diplomatic sore point between London and Madrid.

Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht but has long argued that it should be returned to Spanish sovereignty. Britain refuses to renounce sovereignty against the wishes of Gibraltarians. The last British royal visit to Gibraltar was by Edward’s sister, Princess Anne, in 2009, which likewise annoyed Spain.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

British Schools Fail Our Children Say Eastern European Immigrants Who Would Rather Return Home Than Rely on the NHS

Eastern European immigrants complain that British schools are failing to challenge their children, a survey has found.

Some take trips home to see medical specialists because they regard the NHS as too slow to provide treatment.

The concerns of parents from Poland and other Eastern European countries were recorded in a paper published yesterday by the Government’s Economic and Social Research Council.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Cowboy Hat Courier Nabbed in Norway

A smuggler travelling across Sweden’s western border recently baffled customs officials who found over 500 cowboy hats stashed in the back of his car along with a large quantity of booze and cigarettes.

“This is our largest seizure of cowboy hats,” said Morten Nystuen of the Kongsvinger customs to the news website. “We’ve had to confiscate clothes before, but never cowboy hats,” he told the paper.

The driver was reportedly a Polish man who was travelling across Sweden’s (wild) western border from Arviken towards Norway’s capital Oslo on Tuesday night.

When officials searched his car, they uncovered some 12,400 cigarettes, 20 kilograms of tobacco, 144 litres of beer and 32 litres of wine. And crammed in the back of the vehicle were 540 cowboy hats. The booty had a street value of 121,000 Norwegian kroner ($20,742).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Disclosure of Romanian Pimping Ring in Helsinki Speaks of Arrival of Criminal Groups

Police in Helsinki report suspicions of several Romanian citizens pimping, as second Roma beggars’ camp is dismantled in Vantaa

Finland’s police are expecting the upcoming summer to be a busy one because of foreign criminal groups. “Their influence will certainly extend over the entire Southern Finland region”, says Detective Superintendent Petri Rainiala from the Helsinki Police Department. The groups have already begun to become active.

On Wednesday, the Helsinki police announced that they had rolled up a Romanian pimping ring. According to Rainiala, this was otherwise a very typical pimping case, but the fact that one of the Romanian women who were being pimped out is only 16 years old makes the crime aggravated. She has been taken into custody by social authorities. The arrests were made in Helsinki on Monday. By then the pimping ring had managed to operate for a few weeks. A total of three to six Romanian citizens have been suspected of pimping and aggravated human trafficking.

It has been predicted that as the summer is approaching, lots of people without accommodation are coming to Finland, for example Roma beggars. “This year it has been positive that no children have been spotted among the campers”, reports Chief Inspector Maarit Pikkarainen from the East Uusimaa Police Department. Pikkarainen believes that when police have started to evict unauthorised camps actively in Helsinki and Vantaa, it can be expected that the Roma will start looking for campsites in other municipalities in the region.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ending on a Sour Note: How the World’s Top Stradivarius Dealer Misplayed

Dietmar Machold was the world’s most successful dealer of Stradivari instruments — and probably a fraud. Many instruments have disappeared, while creditors are demanding €100 million that is owed to them. Once a high society favorite who lived in a castle, Machold now awaits trial in a Vienna prison.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: UMP Parliamentary Elections Slogan ‘Choose France’

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, MAY 10 — After “The Strong France” of Nicolas Sarkozy, defeated at the presidential elections, the main party representing the right which has been ousted, the UMP, has chosen “Choisissons la France” let’s choose France as their slogan for the parliamentary elections on July 10 and 17, sources within the party have reported. The slogan seems to have been decided during a lunch at the National Assembly organized by the Secretary General of the UMP, Jean-Francois Cope’, and to which were present, among others, the Prime Minister Francois Fillon, the chairman of the Assembly, Bernard Accoyer and the Foreign Minister Alain Juppe’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: Man ‘Killed Neighbour Over Dead Goldfish’

A man is being held by the police over suspicions he might have killed a 55-year-old neighbour in a village near Le Mans over an incident involving dead goldfish. Mario P., as he is called according to the daily Le Parisien, was being held in custody in the village of Bessé-sur-Braye, 55 km from Le Mans on Wednesday.

Mario P. was taken in for questioning after the body of 55-year-old neighbour Philippe Emery was discovered on Tuesday upside-down in a bin full of water. Emery’s head had been smashed and it is suspected he might have drowned.

Mario P. is suspected of killing the victim over an incident early February involving dead goldfish. Mario had lent the victim his goldfish while he was away. But the victim left Mario’s aquarium on his doorstep, where the fish died in the cold.

Since this incident, Mario P. and his neighbour had stopped speaking to one another. Mario P. was also seen washing his courtyard — which he shared with the victim — with bleach and plenty of water.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Drops Mayan Skull, Endangers Mankind

An ancient Mayan skull stolen from Tibet by Nazis — said to have magical powers to enable humanity to survive the December 2012 apocalypse — has been dropped by a lab assistant in eastern Germany, chipping its chin. The volcanic rock skull, named Quauthemoc, was dropped — or, more eerily, may have fallen of its own accord — during a photo-shoot at a laboratory in the small town of Glauchau, Saxony.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

How Right-Wing Extremists and Islamists Are the Same

Last weekend, Salafist Muslims and anti-Islam right-wingers faced off in Bonn, and 29 police officers were injured as a result. The two groups appear to be diametrically opposed, but a deeper look reveals they have a great deal in common. The totalitarian worldview has many manifestations.

Pro-NRW shares its Islamophobic views with many other right-wing extremist groups. “Since Sept. 11, 2001, it has become clear that anti-Semitism has been on the wane and Islamophobia has taken its place,” says Backes. Islamophobia is an ideological phenomenon that has taken place across Europe — in the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Great Britain and elsewhere — and has become the core belief uniting right-wing groups.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Hungary Limits Boat Traffic on the River Danube

Hungary’s new law limiting the number of cargo barges allowed on the Danube has been in effect since the end of April to the annoyance of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce.

The limit on cargo barges on the River Danube in Hungary has been in effect since the end of April with Hungary citing environmental reasons. Instead of nine barges in a pushing unit there must now be only four — and with less cargo onboard.

The law might have been put in place to prevent the excess of barge traffic being slowed down and stopped by the historically low water levels. In 2011, several “bottleneck” shallows prevented effective barge traffic, and the Hungarian stretch of the Danube was only navigable during 170-180 days per year. The limit of barges would allow the barges that remain to move more freely.

An EU agreement also directs Hungary to guarantee unrestricted navigability of the Danube for 300-310 days a year by 2014. The Austrian Chamber of Commerce has evaluated the Hungarian law, and say it is incomprehensible and counterproductive.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Michelle Bachmann Takes Swiss Citizenship

Fond of saying she’s proud to be American, former presidential contender Michelle Bachmann also frequently has spoken of her family’s Norwegian ancestry. Now the Republican lawmaker is touting new-found ties to Switzerland, after being granted dual citizenship, US media reported.

“Congresswoman Bachmann’s husband is of Swiss descent so she has been eligible for dual citizenship since they got married in 1978,” said her spokeswoman Becky Rogness said in a statement given to the website and other US media.

The lawmaker from Minnesota, 55, who currently is running for re-election to the House of Representatives, reportedly in just the past several weeks went through the application process for Swiss citizenship, along with some other members of her family.

“Recently some of their children wanted to exercise their eligibility for dual citizenship so they went through the process as a family,” the spokeswoman said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: ‘Crucial’ Van Gogh Watercolour Bought by Museum

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has bought the watercolour Pollard Willow by Vincent van Gogh. ‘This specific work was on the museum’s wish list as a major potential purchase, because it is one of the most representative watercolours from Van Gogh’s period in The Hague, and until now, there was a gap in our collection here,’ said museum director Axel Rüger.

The painting shows a path along a canal with a pollard willows. In the background are the buildings of the depot at the former Rijnspoor railway station. Van Gogh wrote about the painting in a letter to his brother Theo, describing it as ‘a sombre landscape’.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Kebab Chaos in Oslo as Hungry Punters Fight Over Free Food

Fighting broke out on the streets of Oslo on Wednesday, as hundreds of mostly young people gathered outside a new fast food restaurant promising free kebabs to its first customers.

Police said a number of people were lucky not to have been crushed when they were pushed to the ground in a stampede. Hungry Oslo dwellers assembled in front of the new Bislett Kebab House outlet in Prinsdal long before the advertised 5pm opening time, newspaper Dagbladet reports.

“They were planning to hand out free kebabs, but at 4.30pm we received reports of a chaotic situation. There were huge amounts of people arguing, yelling and fighting in the queue, with cars spread out all over the road,” Even Gjørstad of Oslo police told the paper.

Police said they had little option but to tell the restaurant’s owners to shut up shop for the evening since they were unable to control their unruly clientele.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Scotland: Ditched Helicopter Passengers Safe

The first passengers rescued from a helicopter that ditched in the North Sea have arrived at hospital.

Fourteen people — 12 passengers and two crew — were on board the aircraft when it came down 25 miles off the coast of Aberdeen shortly after midday.

The EC225 helicopter, operated by Bond Offshore, had been on its way from Aberdeen to the offshore Maersk Resilient rig and the Ensco 102 rig. Rig operator Conoco Phillips said the passengers were contractors on their way to support the drilling rigs.

Two of those on board worked for Halliburton and the others were from Ensco, Brundt and Stag, Conoco Phillips said. The companies could not be immediately contacted for comment.

A Bond spokesman said: “A low pressure oil warning light came on and the helicopter made a controlled descent and landed in the North Sea. It didn’t crash.”

The alarm was raised and a major rescue launched. Everyone on board was recovered from the sea and put in life rafts. They were then being flown back to Aberdeen for medical checks, although it is understood no-one was injured.

First Minister Alex Salmond said it was a “very concerning” time for the friends and family of the people on board the helicopter.

He said: “Thankfully it has been confirmed that all on board have been rescued and the indications are they will all be admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on a precautionary basis.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Angry Alpine Tour Guide Chopped Down Crosses

A mountain guide who vandalized three wooden crosses on the mountainside has been sentenced in court. Patrick Bussard, a mountain guide from Fribourg, sawed down three crosses in the Fribourg Alps between October 2009 and spring 2010 in protest against the Christian church imposing its symbols on the natural landscape, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.

His lawyer, Jean Lob, has confirmed that he intends to appeal Bussard’s suspended 90-day fine. Bussard maintained that he had achieved his intended goal by bringing the matter to the public attention for debate.

However, lawyers for the prosecution were not convinced of his professed motives, looking instead at the fact that Bussard had gone through hard times. First, he had suffered a climbing accident for which he had to pay 50 percent of the costs, which in turn forced him to sell his cottage.

“He sought and found something to divert his resentment,” said Attorney General Fabien Gasser. The judge, Philippe Vallet, appeared to agree with the prosecutor’s logic, and queried why, if Bussard simply wanted to raise the debate, he had continued his cross-chopping activities after it had been made clear in the newspapers how much offence his original act had caused.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Too Easy to be Europeans When All is Well, Barroso

(AGI) Florence — “We need Europeans for all season. It is too easy to be Europeans when all is well, when the sun is shining”, as Eu Commission President Jose’ Manuel Barroso said on the occasion of the conference on the state of the Union in Florence. “The most dangerous of anti-European positions — he added — is pessimism. The real problem is not Euroscepticism, but the depressive and depressed attitude of Europeans. We must fight the intellectual fascination of pessimism, because it creates a counter-productive attitude. When things are well, it is all due to the politicians who often criticize, when things are wrong they blame Brussels. If this is the attitude — Barroso concluded — no wonder they say Europe is not very popular.

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

‘Turbulence’ Warning as EU Marks 62nd Birthday

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Wednesday warned Europe faces “turbulence” and called for a “coalition of the willing” on growth as the European Union celebrated a tense 62nd birthday.

“The greater warmth, the greater insistence that (French president-elect Francois) Hollande puts on the issue of growth are welcomed by Italy. I think they can be reconciled with budget discipline,” Monti told reporters.

Hollande’s call, to adjust fiscal rules adopted this year to combat the eurozone debt crisis so they include more growth measures, has left Europe in disarray, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejecting any changes.

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has echoed Germany’s refusal. There is also growing concern over the political confusion in Greece, where pro-austerity parties failed to win a majority in weekend elections, casting doubt on vital European Union and International Monetary Fund bailouts.

Monti was speaking at a conference in Florence with key EU officials ahead of informal talks between EU leaders on May 23 that will include Hollande as French president for the first time.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: 77 Years for Asian Sex Beasts… 50 More on the Loose

A GANG of sex fiends jailed for 77 years may have had another FIFTY members — who are still on the loose, it emerged yesterday.

Cops are set to swoop in the next few days on at least four men said to be involved in the abuse of girls as young as 13.

The gang in Heywood, near Rochdale, Greater Manchester, passed around teens for sex after plying them with booze.

And police are still trying to establish the identities of gang members known to the girls as Juicy, Mamma, Pino, Goofy, Manni and Arfan.

At least one is believed to have fled to Pakistan.

Yesterday Judge Gerald Clifton delivered a damning verdict on the nine convicted men, saying they were driven by “lust and greed”.

He said the white girls were targeted because they were not in the mainly Pakistani gang’s “community or religion”.

The judge said the victims were “raped callously, viciously and violently” — some driven around the area so they could be provided for “customers”.

He added: “This involved the grooming and sexual exploitation of several girls. Most of you were many years older than they were.

“They were going through a period in their lives full of difficulty and misery. One had left her parents’ home, another had been in care for years.

“You attracted them to your company with flattery, free food and alcohol.

“Some of you acted as you did to satiate your lust, some of you to make money. All of you treated them as though they were worthless and beyond respect.

“I believe that one of the factors that led to that was that they were not of your community or religion.

“Some of you raised the suggestion that this prosecution was triggered by racial factors — that is nonsense. What triggered this prosecution was your lust and greed.”

The judge said that the sentences passed would be the same for “white or Asian” men.

The oldest defendant, the 59-year-old ringleader who cannot be named, was banned from the court after calling the judge a “racist b*****d”.

He was sentenced in his absence to 19 years in prison.

The judge said he was an “unpleasant and hypocritical bully” who raped and trafficked a girl of 15 using threats of “violence and blackmail”.

Two others were also convicted on Tuesday of rape, as well as other child sex crimes.

The other six — all from Rochdale — were found guilty of crimes including sex assault, conspiracy and trafficking.

Abdul Aziz, 41, was jailed for nine years; Adil Khan, 42, eight years; Abdul Rauf, 43, six years; and Hamid Safi, 22, four years. Abdul Qayyum, 43, and Mohammed Amin, 44, were each caged for five years.

About 20 supporters of far-right groups, including the BNP and EDF, protested outside with signs yesterday.

‘This prosecution was the result of your lust and greed’ … Judge Gerald CliftonAlias Yousaf, solicitor for gang member Khan, later said his client would be appealing after claims that a member of the jury was communicating with a far-right group.

Last week BNP leader Nick Griffin tweeted that seven men had been convicted — before the jury gave their verdicts. Mr Yousaf said it “compromised” his client’s right to a fair trial.

Police have apologised to victims for delays in investigating the offences, which took place in 2008 and 2009. One girl made a complaint in 2008, but crown prosecutors failed to press charges. Yesterday, ex-MP Ann Cryer claimed that police at the time were “petrified of being called racist”.

She said: “This is a scandal. They reverted to the default of political correctness.”

The investigation which eventually led to prosecutions began in late 2010.

Its head, Det Insp Michael Sanderson, last night said of the 11-week trial: “These defendants have never shown the slightest bit of remorse.”

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

UK: Asian Sex Gang: Young Girls Betrayed by Our Fear of Racism

Vulnerable teenagers were abandoned to their abusers because of our society’s nervous respect for their ‘different’ culture.

Nine white men are found guilty of grooming young Asian girls, aged between 13 and 15, whom they picked up on the streets of London. The girls were lured with free fish and chips before being raped or pimped as prostitutes. One Asian girl from a children’s home was used for sex by 20 white men in one night. Police insist the crimes were not “racially motivated”.

Imagine if that story were true. Would you really believe that race was not a factor in those hateful crimes? Do you think that, despite conclusive DNA evidence from a girl raped by two men, the police would have hesitated to press charges because the suspects were white and it could make things a bit sensitive in the white community? Would the Crown Prosecution Service have refused to prosecute, allowing the child-sex ring to flourish for three more anguished years?

OK, now let’s try switching the ethnic identities round. Change the fish and chips to kebabs, London to Rochdale, white to Asian and vice versa and you have the case that ended yesterday at Liverpool Crown Court. Nine British Muslim men were jailed for a total of 77 years for rape and trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation. The whole case made for disturbing reading, but somehow it was the tiny, paralysing details that made it real. Like the fact that one of the convicted men, father-of-five Abdul Rauf, was a religious studies teacher at a local mosque. Rauf asked his 15-year-old victim if she had any younger friends, and drove some of the girls to meet other men, who had sex with them despite knowing they were under-age.

You will already have noticed a lot of embarrassed evasiveness about this disgusting case, particularly on the BBC. Turning a blind eye to appalling, illegal practices because “it’s their culture” is what has brought our country to this obscene pass. I have watched it unfolding since I did my teaching practice in 1982 in Southall, west London. I remember being encouraged to “teach the children their own culture” even as I found myself wondering why British Muslim girls couldn’t be taught the enlightened beliefs of the egalitarian land in which they lived.

When it comes to women’s rights, not all cultures are created equal, particularly those whose attitudes are frozen some time in the mid-14th century. But we weren’t allowed to say that.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

UK: Child Sex Grooming: The Asian Question

by Paul Vallely

Special Report day one: As nine men are jailed for a total of 77 years for abusing young girls, what do we actually know about the cultural side of such crimes?

Outside Liverpool Crown Court a large group of protesters gathered as the trial began of the nine Asian men from Rochdale who have just been jailed for grooming underage girls for sex. The demonstrators carried printed banners that read: “Our Children Are Not Halal Meat”. Some had more improvised, handmade posters saying “Paedo scum”, “Lock ‘em up” and “Hang ‘em”. These were the combined pride of the British National Party, the English Defence League and a couple of other far-right groups — called the North West Infidels and the Combined Ex-Forces. They had been brought together by websites claiming there would be a media blackout of the trial of what they described as “Muslim paedophile grooming gangs” charged with “countless abhorrent sexually motivated charges against children and minors”. Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP and a Member of the European Parliament, was there to give a video interview for the BNP website. “The mass street grooming of young girls from the English community is only being carried out by Muslims. All the paedophile groomers in this particular sort of crime — on the street, in gangs — are Muslims. That’s the common denominator,” he explained fluently. “You only have to read the Koran or look at the Hadith — the expressions of what the Prophet did in his life- to see where Muslim paedophilia comes from,” he continued. “Because it’s religiously justified so long as it’s other people’s children and not their own.” This is pretty poisonous rhetoric. And the BNP website prefaces it with an atmospheric recording of the Muslim call to prayer. Some of the protest placards are written in cod Urdu script. The message is clear.

The overall statistics give the lie to such claims. Greater Manchester Police, in whose area the offences took place, has declared that 95 per cent of the men on its sex offenders register are white. Just five per cent are Asian. But things do look different when the focus is narrowed to crimes involving groups of men grooming girls on the street. In 18 child sexual exploitation trials since 1997 — in Derby, Leeds, Blackpool, Blackburn, Rotherham, Sheffield, Rochdale, Oldham and Birmingham — relating to the on-street grooming of girls aged 11 to 16 by two or more men, most of those convicted were of Pakistani heritage.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Defence Secretary Philip Hammond Announces U-Turn Over Carrier Fighter Jets

In an embarrassing about-turn, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announces plans to acquire the jump jet version of the US-built F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, reverting back to an order originally made by the former Labour government.

The Coalition had made much political capital out of their decision, contained within 2010’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), to scrap Labour’s order and switch to the more capable, and less expensive, F-35C variant for the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers.

However, the Government has now been forced to switch back and order the original fighters in the face of “unacceptable cost growth and project delays”, according to the Defence Secretary.

Mr Hammond told the Commons the costs of fitting the necessary catapults and arrestor gear — “cats and traps” — had now more than doubled to £2 billion.

He also said delays to the F-35C programme meant they would have not been operational until 2023 — three years later than planned.

By abandoning the plan to fit “cats and traps” to one of the carriers while mothballing the other, he said it opened up the possibility that both new ships, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth, could eventually become operational.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Harry Potter Manuscript on Show

J.K. Rowling’s manuscript for first Harry Potter novel to be exhibited at British Library.

The original manuscript of the first Harry Potter novel is going on show in a new exhibition a stone’s throw from the station where the teenage wizard caught the Hogwart’s Express. The work, including a scene from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where the character catches a train from Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station in London, is part of an exhibition at the nearby British Library.

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books have sold more than 450 million copies, been translated into 74 languages and have inspired a series of hit films. Her first post-Potter novel, The Casual Vacancy, will be published later this year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Mosque Rallies to Help Victims of Famine

An MP has visited one of the places of worship which rallied to his appeal to raise money for famine-struck Somalia. Jon Ashworth, Leicester South MP, received a £500 cheque from the Darus Salam Mosque, Highfields, Leicester, in front of about 100 worshippers. The money will be used towards the cost of a £3,000 ambulance. Last year, Mr Ashworth encouraged all places of worship to raise cash to help the humanitarian efforts. He said: “I am very pleased Darus Salam Mosque raised over £500 towards the cost of the ambulances for Somalia following my appeal to places of worship to raise funds for humanitarian efforts following the devastating famine in Somalia last year.” He said Leicester had close ties with Somalia so it was heartwarming so see such a good response. Nizan Chowdhury, a trustee and general secretary of the Darus Salam Trust, said: “Darus Salam Mosque was honoured to be able to assist in this crucial appeal. “The ambulances purchased will provide essential care to the citizens of Mogadishu.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslims, ‘Sex Gangs’ And White Working-Class Women

by Brendan O’Neill

If you want an insight into how cowardly public debate in Britain has become, look no further than the controversy over the Rochdale Asian sex gang. The discussion about the despicable crimes committed by these eight Pakistanis and one Afghani has revealed extraordinary levels of relativism and self-censorship in modern Britain. Indeed, it seems it is now virtually impossible to have a serious discussion about problematic cultural attitudes, because to do so would apparently offend minorities and, even worse, stir up the passions of the latently racist white masses. And so, in the name of protecting Muslim communities’ sensitivities and dampening down white working-class people’s alleged savagery, we keep quiet about certain things; we gag ourselves.

One of the most striking things about the Rochdale debate is its competitive scaremongering. It’s hard to know which side is worse: those who spread panic about the existence of sinister “networks” and “rings” of sex criminals and paedophiles across Britain, as if gangs like this exist everywhere, in every corner and community in the UK; or the coppers and commentators who stoke up fear about BNP thugs and ignorant white people who will apparently be provoked into violence if they so much as glimpse a headline containing the words “Asian sex gang”. One side wants us to view the existence of sex gangs like the one in Rochdale as commonplace in our allegedly misogynistic era; the other tries to convince us that ordinary people are a racist pogrom-in-the-making who must not be told that some Asians did some bad things.

Even the news reporting of the nine men’s crimes has been shot through with a scaremongering vibe. Using words like “ring” to describe the men’s gang and “trafficking” to describe their exploitation of young white women gives an impression of a super-evil, well-organised network of abusers. Such terminology, borrowed from the lexicon of feminist fearmongers, elevates the men’s depraved opportunism into a coherent, cult-like activity. We often see this today — small groups of no-marks with weird sexual habits being described as a “ring” or even an “international network”. This nurtures the nonsense notion that sects of paedophiles are widespread. Indeed, as the Deputy Children’s Commissioner Sue Berelowitz rather madly told the Today programme this morning, these networks exist “across every single ethnic and religious group, so there are victims and perpetrators across all ethnic and religious groups”. In short, “rings” of perverts are everywhere.

Part of the motivation behind this crazy claim is to try to attenuate the allegedly racist instincts of the white mob. They are second only to “paedo networks” in the list of people most feared by the Great and the Good. The reason Berelowitz and others insist, without evidence, that there are “networks of abusers” in “every single ethnic group” is because they are terrified of what the masses might do if they get the impression that something like the Rochdale sex crimes are an exclusively “Asian thing”. As one hack says, “Professional racists are keen to get their crowbars into cases such as this”, and so maybe the authorities should eschew words like “Asian” or “culture” when discussing this instance of grooming. It speaks volumes about the elite’s fear of white working-class communities that they feel more comfortable promoting the BS idea that all communities harbour networks of weirdos than they do grappling with what might be distinctive about the Rochadale gang.

The truth is that there is something specific going on here, something which is more prevalent among Asian communities, particularly Muslim ones, than among other communities. For a variety of reasons — mainly because the attitudes and behaviour of white working-class women are so profoundly at odds with the outlook of conservative Muslim communities — there is a tendency among many Muslims to look upon such women as inferior, as “sluts”. What’s more, in our era of multiculturalism, ethnic minorities are implicitly encouraged to distance themselves from their “host community” and even to view the host community’s culture as inferior to their own, as more shallow, hedonistic and consumer-orientated than their own authentic cultural lives. Mash these things together and it isn’t really surprising that there are some cut-off, conservative ethnic groups which now view young, white, possibly “fallen” women as unworthy and acquire a superiority complex over white “slags”. In Rochdale, certain individuals took that sense of cultural superiority in a terribly abusive direction.

[JP note: No reader comments allowed at this article — another feeble attempt to stifle debate.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Mohammed Shafiq: An Obsession With Racism That Left Vulnerable Girls at the Mercy of Sex Predators

As nine men are sentenced to a total of 77 years for running a child-sex ring, Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, accuses the Pakistani community of failing to challenge the abuse and urges police to not be frightened in addressing the issue.

Over recent years, there has been mounting evidence of this vile phenomenon, where groups of British Pakistanis deliberately target defenceless girls, often from care homes, by plying them with alcohol and gifts before systematically abusing them.

Yet too often, the authorities who should be protecting the young, like the police, social services and the courts, have failed to act against these predators because of hyper-sensitivity about race.


While the vast majority certainly do, as evidenced by the deluge of text messages and emails I have received in support of my work to highlight the problem of predator gangs, some community leaders appear to think it would be better if the whole issue were swept under the carpet.

They claim that by highlighting the scandal, I am doing the dirty work of Right-wing extremists such as the BNP —helping to taint Pakistanis with the smear of criminality.

But this is nonsense. The damage has been done by the criminal activity of the gangs themselves.

The truth is that we will win far more respect by challenging abuse, rather than colluding with its cover-up.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Outrage as Police Repeatedly Taser Terrified Alzheimer’s Sufferer in Front of His Wife Because He Didn’t Want to Go Into Care — Then Tie Him Up in His Living Room

Police shot Peter Russell with several Taser stun rounds, before manhandling him to the living room floor

His arms and legs were tied together and he was carried outside ‘like a bag of potatoes’ in full view of horrified neighbours

Two months later Mr Russell is still receiving psychiatric treatment in hospital and his wife Diane, 50, remains traumatised

Alzheimer’s Society says the incident illustrates a lack of understanding in society of dementia.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Press May Face Fines From New Watchdog if Codes of Conduct Are Broken, PCC Chief Warns

A new newspaper regulator should be able to force editors and publishers to pay compensation if they break codes of conduct, the head of the Press Complaints Commission said yesterday.

Lord Hunt said every newspaper owner should sign a contract with the new regulator. If they broke its code, the regulator would have the power to fine newspapers.

Speaking in central London, Lord Hunt said the media industry needed ‘independent, effective and robust’ self-regulation.

Comment by Mike in London:

If the new regulator is the Media Standards Trust then freedom of the press will be crushed and they’ll have full control over what can be published. This enquiry has been led by Common Purpose, an insidious Marxist institution masquerading as a charity, they also run the Media Standards Trust so you can see their interest in destroying the PCC and the obvious conflict of interest.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Rochdale Grooming Trial: Police Knew About Sex Abuse in 2002 But Failed to Act

Police and social workers failed to tackle the issue of Asian men grooming under-age white girls for up to a decade, the Daily Telegraph can reveal.

The mother of a girl who gave evidence in the trial of nine Asian men convicted of child sex offences has shown this newspaper evidence that suggests the authorities were aware of the abuse as long ago as 2002. An official report by a sexual health adviser, which was passed on to social workers and police in 2005, detailed the kidnap and rape of an underage girl in Rochdale, where the gang was operating, but the authorities failed to act. They have now been accused of ignoring evidence of the rapes because they were frightened of being accused of racism. The latest development came as the nine members of the gang were jailed for between four and 19 years as a judge told them they treated their victims as “worthless”. Some of the guilty men had tried to claim the police investigation was triggered by racism, as their victims were white, but Judge Gerald Clifton told them the prosecution was triggered by their “lust and greed”.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Conservative Party is Failing to Define and Promote Its Vision

by Roger Scruton

Roger Scruton is a writer and philospher.

When in office the Labour Party applies itself not only to the task of government, but also to the more long-term business of developing and advancing its vision of British society. It loses no opportunity to promote its supporters to positions of influence, and invents quangos and committees to replace the old-fashioned associations of volunteers to whom the Tory party would occasionally make appeal. These quangos and committees speak not for civil society but for a new class of professionals, usually paid by the state and committed to its expansion. The Labour Party also uses all avenues of patronage (including the honours system) to create a favourable establishment, and to persuade its followers that ‘the long march through the institutions’ will benefit them just as much as it benefits the Party. As Baroness Ashton discovered, you can start off as secretary to CND, and then leap from quango to quango to become European Commissioner for foreign affairs, provided you are a member of the Labour Party. All this has proceeded apace under New Labour, with results that are everywhere visible today — a damaged constitution, universities, schools and cultural institutions wedded to a kind of soft leftism, and a civil service that has internalised the belief that it is not there to govern Britain but to change it.

In the face of this we all breathed a sigh of relief when David Cameron became Prime Minister. We naturally hoped that the Conservative Party would take the opportunity not merely to arrest the quangofication of our country, but also to define and advance a real alternative to the left-liberal orthodoxies. We know that Conservatives are reluctant to think philosophically. As Edmund Burke taught us, philosophy is dangerous, since it tends to define politics in terms of long-term goals and ideals, to the detriment of the real work of government, which is the reconciliation of individual freedom and inherited order. Nevertheless, politics requires a foundation of beliefs, values and affections, and it is to those that the Tory party has in the past made appeal. It has defined itself as the Party of the nation, representing the national interest abroad and our inherited constitution at home. It has stood for free association against bureaucratic control, and for a thriving civil society protected by a constitution that acknowledges and reconciles the conflicting ambitions of its members. From this stance it is possible to derive a philosophy; but it is the stance, not the philosophy, that matters. And it is a stance that has been radically jeopardised by the coalition.

For the Liberal Democrats are not, and never have been, the Party of the nation. Their outlook is well represented by Nick Clegg, who describes himself as an internationalist, but who would be better described as a cosmopolitan nihilist. Thanks to his presence in government, the Conservative Party finds itself wedded to policies that do not merely involve massive interference in the values and beliefs of ordinary people but also require yet more hammer-blows against our frail constitution, already half in ruins from New Labour’s modernising zeal. In every area where conservatism has something important to say, and something yet more important to do, the Conservative Party now hesitates to endorse the instincts of those who voted for it. Conservative voters turn to UKIP only reluctantly, however, knowing that their real national loyalty is enshrined not in the words ‘United Kingdom’ but in the forbidden name of England.

Things would have been better had the Conservatives followed the precedent set by the Labour Party and turned their attention to the business of defining and promoting their vision, instead of improvising in response to the daily emergencies of office. We find ourselves in a country where, despite the prevailing conservative sentiments of voters, our institutions and establishment figures, our civil service and our universities, speak out only for the socialist orthodoxies. The new establishment represents not England or Britain but abstract ideas, such as multiculturalism, social inclusion and equality — all of which, on examination, are names for the State. Yet the Conservative Party takes no opportunity to begin the long, slow but necessary task of replacing that establishment with something more in keeping with the national spirit.

The fact is that the Tory Party has lost touch with its constituency, through ignoring the long-term standpoint that they share. I don’t doubt David Cameron’s sincerity or his underlying conservative instincts. But there is a case to answer, and he must answer it. How is it that a government dominated by the Conservative Party and with a Conservative Prime Minister devotes its energies to issues that are calculated to alienate its supporters, while failing to address the real matters that concern them?

[Reader comment by Patsy Sergeant on 10 May 2012 at about 0945 hrs.]

Mr. Scruton, I would like to say that reading your article is like sipping a fizzy bitter lemon through a straw, and slowly relishing both the bubbles and the acidity!

The first sentence is a blind (I think!) to lead in the unwary, in other words every word however small carries the same weight, and it should be read with that in mind — and then the meaning changes! It is not often that one can read and relish an article, enjoying every phrase, however small!

Of course what you have said is quite correct, and goodness knows how the present political situation is going to be sorted out, in this country. I put a comma after the ‘out’ of the previous sentence, because if anybody watched Michael Portillo’s Great Euro Crisis on BBC2 yesterday evening, it becomes obvious that the whole of Europe is in a similar or even worse state of ‘change’ if not actual insecurity. With that particular problem in mind, we do not need a politically immature senior minister, with little or no experience of government, trying his utmost to push us into closer commitment to the EU and the euro!

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Teacher at Local Mosque Gets Six Years in Jail

Married father-of-five Abdul Rauf, 43, of Darley Road, Rochdale, was jailed for six years for conspiracy and six years, concurrently, for trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The religious studies teacher at a local mosque asked a 15-year-victim if she had any younger friends and would drive some of the girls to other men, who would use them for sex, despite knowing they were underage. Zarif Khan, in mitigation, told the judge Rauf’s fall from grace was “particularly significant”.

[JP note: Six years of prison da’wa.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Horrific Consequences of the Islamophobia Witch-Hunt

by Melanie Phillips

So now we can see the outcome of the witch-hunt against ‘Islamophobia’. With the conviction yesterday of nine men for organised sexual crimes from rape to sex trafficking, the full horrific details of more than two decades of sexual violence against young, predominantly white girls living in children’s homes in the north of England have been revealed.

The gang lured an officially estimated 47 girls (the figure may well be higher) aged 12 to 16 with gifts, alcohol and drugs before passing them around to have sex ‘with several men a day, several times a week’ in flats, houses, cars, taxis and kebab shops. After phone calls inviting them to come and have sex with a girl, men would turn up to do so by the taxi-load. One 13 year-old was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night. Terrible as all this is in itself, there is far worse. For this monstrous abuse could all have been stopped years ago. The authorities had evidence this was going on as long ago as 1991. The question immediately arises: how on earth could a blind eye have been turned to all this by the social services departments under whose care these girls were living, as well as by the police to whom they went for help?


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Albania Gives EU Green Light on Organ Probe

Albania’s parliament has approved legislation granting the European Union permission to investigate claims that civilian captives from the 1998-99 Kosovo war were murdered by organ traffickers.

American prosecutor John Clint Williamson, who heads an EU investigation task force, described Thursday’s vote as “a strong statement of Albania’s commitment to accountability and the rule of law.”

A Council of Europe report by Swiss politician Dick Marty alleged that the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army ran detention centers on Albania’s border during neighboring Kosovo’s war for independence from Serbia. It says civilian captives, including Serbs, were killed there and their organs sold on the black market. Both Kosovo and Albania have denied those allegations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

European Parliament for Euro-Mediterranean Free-Trade Zone

Arab Spring Commitment, Schulz; democracies first, Rinaldi

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, 10 MAY — After the Arab Spring revolutions, the European Union must push on the accelerator of a project for a Euro-Mediterranean free-trade area. The European Parliament reiterates its challenge in a report adopted today by a vast majority (479 in favour, 64 against, 40 abstentions). “The European Parliament”, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz commented, “ will ensure that all business and foreign affair interests of the EU move forward hand in hand with the basic values of human rights, democracy and a free society.” Schulz is the President in office of the Union for the Mediterranean’s parliamentary assembly and emphasized that this report is “the final evidence of consistency and genuine commitment by the European Parliament to strengthen the cooperation between both sides of the Mediterranean.” According to the report’s rapporteur, Niccolo’ Rinaldi (Idv), “the economic and social deterioration” in the Arab Spring countries “might affect their first steps topwards democracy”, that is why it is necessary to translate the EU’s commitment into “free-trade agreements with the pioneers, especially Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.” According to the EU MPs, the European Union should also work on concrete actions for local SMEs, with the help of European financial institutions and the EIB, but also thanks to the “issuing of visas for students and entrepreneurs”, Rinaldi concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Italy-WFP Agreement for Food Supply

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, MAY 10 — The Italian ambassador to Egypt, Claudio Pacifico, and the UN World Food Programme (WFP)’s representative in the country, Gianpietro Bordignon, are signing a deal in Cairo today for two and a half billion euros worth of food supplies, in support of Egypt’s food safety system.

The agreement, which has the financial backing of Italy’s development cooperation body, will see the WFP purchase 1,100 tonnes of refined white sugar on the international market and 1,000 tonnes of vegetable oil, which will be delivered to the Ministry of Resources and Internal Trade, which will in turn distribute the goods to around 600,000 people in Beni Suef, one of the Egyptian governorates with the lowest levels of food safety. “This scheme demonstrates not only the lengthy partnership between the Italian government and the WFP, but is also the expression of the special and deep relations that exist between Italy and Egypt,” said ambassador Pacifico. Italy remains at Egypt’s side during the transition, supporting its efforts towards sustainable socio-economic development and at the same time responding to its most urgent needs”.

Bordignon observed that WFP’s assisted food programme in Egyptian schools is financed mainly through an innovative debt swap mechanism put in place by the Egyptian and Italian governments, the first phase of which was completed in 2006. The second phase, which takes place in the governorates of Beni Suef, Minya and Fayoum, will take the total value of debt swap financing up to 15 million dollars, Bordignon explained, and is geared towards giving access to education to around 185,000 of the area’s poorest children and supporting 98,500 families through food safety support.

Egypt is the world’s leading importer of wheat, bringing in from abroad more than 50% of its domestic requirements, much of which is used in producing typical Egyptian bread, which benefits from government subsidies.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tuaregs’ Ties With Libya Linked to Mali’s Crisis

Tuareg soldiers from Mali fought for Moammar Gadhafi in Libya until his regime ended in 2011. They returned to Mali and rejooined a long-standing rebellion against the government. Malians blame the crisis on Libya.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Israeli City Reportedly Bans Girls From Singing at Youth Conference

An Israeli newspaper says a central city has agreed to a request by an Orthodox religious group to ban girls from singing at a youth conference next week. The Haaretz daily reported Thursday that the Kfar Sava town council imposed the ban to respect the wishes of the Bnei Akiva religious youth group. Various youth movements are set to participate in the conference.

Strictly Orthodox Jewish men do not listen to women singing for reasons of religious modesty. Neither Bnei Akiva nor Kfar Sava officials could immediately be reached for comment.

There have been a series of incidents in recent months in which religious extremists have attempted to impose their beliefs on society, most notably a campaign for segregated bus lines. The drive has sparked outrage among Israel’s secular majority.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Behind Foiled Jet Plot, Stronger Saudi Ties

U.S.-Riyadh Intelligence-Sharing Is Seen at Post 9/11 Highs

U.S. and Saudi intelligence services are sharing security information and surveillance technology in their covert operations against Yemen’s branch of al Qaeda, according to people familiar with this cooperation, describing operations on a scale unimagined in the years of mutual blame for security failures surrounding the attacks of Sept. 11, 2011.

New details of the U.S.-Saudi cooperation have emerged in the days after reports that U.S. and foreign intelligence services had foiled a bid by Yemen’s Al Qaeda branch to bring down a U.S. jetliner. Officials familiar with the operation later confirmed that the plot was uncovered when a Saudi agent successfully infiltrated the Yemeni group, volunteered for the suicide mission, and then handed the alleged explosives and a trove of intelligence to Saudi intelligence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

China, Russia Call for End to Syria Violence

China and Russia on Thursday urged all parties in Syria to “stop violence” after suicide attackers detonated massive bombs in Damascus during morning rush hour, killing at least 55 people. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government blamed the attacks — which also wounded nearly 400 people — on “terrorists”, while the opposition accused his regime of staging the bombings to threaten UN observers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iraq: Former Insurgent Stronghold Faces Challenges

Nine years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, predominantly Shiite Sadr City remains in a state of neglect. The recent discovery of oil seems unlikely to change things in Baghdad’s biggest slum.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Kuwait: Bill Proposed to Prevent ‘Female Judges’

Five lawmakers proposed amendments to the current law that governs judiciary work in Kuwait, which if implemented, will disqualify female citizens from being appointed as judges or prosecutors.

The draft law presented by MPs Khalid Al-Sultan, Ammar Al-Ajmi, Abdullatif Al-Omair, Nayef Al-Merdas, and Dr Mohammad Al-Kandari, includes an amendment to Article 19 of Law Number 23/1990. This is to change item (A) which states that a member must be ‘a Kuwaiti Muslim,’ and add the term ‘male’ to the statement.

An explanatory memorandum attached with the amendment proposal adds that “the aforementioned item in its current state might exclude women from assuming judicial posts; a much debated move from a religious standpoint.”

“In a bid to prevent any misjudgment that calls for nominating female citizens to judicial posts, this draft law clearly seeks to add a condition according to which only a Muslim male citizen qualifies to be appointed as a judge or prosecutor”, the memorandum reads.

           — Hat tip: RR[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: NGO Amel: Alert for Exploitation of Foreign Women

Alert for exploitation of foreign women, goal is preventing suicides

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Mistreated, enslaved, sometimes abused. According to estimates, very often, even every single week, some of them can’t take any more and decide to put an end to their life. They are so upset that they commit suicide. We are talking about foreign women workers who migrated to Lebanon in search of a job. They come from Ethiopia, from Bangladesh, from Philippines and from other countries. 200,000 women in total, of 13 different nationalities. They often are illegal immigrants; however, most times their identity documents are seized by their “masters”. The NGO Amel (“Amel means work in Arabic) tries to help them by supplying social, psychological and medical care. Zeina Mohanna is her organisation’s coordinator of the project for the defence of migrant women in Lebanon. These days, she is in Italy with a delegation of Egyptian, Jordanian and Lebanese social workers in order to study a system providing protection and assistance for migrants and enabling the fight against human trafficking in her country.

The NGO she works with is one of the major organizations in Lebanon and has obtained the status of consulting member of the United Nations (Ecosos). “Amel”, Mohanna told,” manages a wide network of healthcare points all over Lebanon’s territory, especially in the Valley of Beqaa, in southern Lebanon and in the suburbs of Beirut.” The NGO provides assistance also to refugees from Iraq and Sudan and, now, to approximately 12,000 Syrian evacuees. “Our goal is to support anyone who needs help, regardless of their religion or other things.” The phenomenon of suicide among foreign workers is of particular concern. Human Rights Watch had already exposed such phenomenon in 2008-2009. Physical and verbal abuse, impossible working hours, total prohibition to leave the house they work in, very low salaries, passport seizure are all common facts. “These women”, Mohanna continues, “access the country through a so-called sponsorship. They are registered under the sponsorship of their employer or someone else in the family. And then, their identity documents are automatically seized.” That’s when the sponsor becomes the person responsible for the worker’s actions.

“We are fighting in order to allow these women to enter Lebanon through a visa and a regular working permit. We want to prevent them from becoming the property of their employer.” The phenomenon is even enhanced by recruiting agencies. There are 520 of them all over the country, Mohanna specified. Only 160 of them are regularly registered in the syndicate and are, therefore, legal. All the other are completely unlawful and they often promise jobs that do not actually exist. Helping these women to get out of this situation is possible. “We are asking for them to be protected either by a specific law regulating their work and their rights or by ordinary labour legislation, just as any other worker.” An awareness-raising campaign is much needed. “Part of our work consists of raising awareness of both Lebanese citizens and migrant women, making them understand their rights and inviting them to ask for help to people who can support them.” Amel organised a help line for those who need social, psychological, medical and legal assistance. “We work with Caritas, Un ponte per.. and other organizations. This afternoon in Rome, Mohanna will take part in the conference “The Mediterranean, a sea of slaves”, organised by “Un ponte per..”, focusing on data and main issues related to immigration and exploitation of foreign workers in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

“We are here to learn best practices implemented in Italy and to study how to organise the “shelters” (reception centres for first aid of women needing assistance and subjected to mistreatment, e.n).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: EU Tourists Tripled in 10 Years, Tourism Minister

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAY 10 — In the last 10 years tourists coming from the EU into Turkey have almost tripled and today represent 54% of visitors in the country. The data was given in Brussels by Ertrugul Gunay, Turkey’s Tourism Minister, during a meeting at the European Parliament.

Gunay said that “with 31.4 million tourists, Turkey has in 2011 been the sixth destination worldwide and has increased its sector by 9.8%” A large portion of these tourists is made up of EU member state citizens, “who counted only 6.5 million in 2000 and are now 18 million”. The minister pointed out that the EU’s tourism “which is the third economy in the Union” has everything to gain from Turkey’s entrance to the EU, making it “more stable and dynamic”.

Gunay then expressed his “dissatisfaction” regarding the failed talks on instruction and culture, something he maintains is instead “crucial for effectively joining the EU” The minister concluded that Turkey’s entry in the EU “will no doubt bring benefits in several areas, economical, social and cultural”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Russian City Launches Bid to Become European Culture Capital

The Russian city of Perm launched its bid on Thursday to become the European Capital of Culture. The Kremlin is hoping the EU will open its competition to cities outside the EU post-2019. Perm also opened an office on Thursday in Brussels and aims to strengthen Russia-EU ties.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Russia Foils Plot to Attack 2014 Olympics

Russia’s security service has thwarted a plot to stage attacks during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, according to the country’s anti-terrorist committee. Moscow alleges that Chechen rebels were behind the plans. The National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAK) in Russia said on Thursday it uncovered an attempt by Caucasus militants to carry out attacks on the southern city.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

WWII Victory Day Still Stirs Controversy in Latvia

Latvia’s large Russian minority gathered Wednesday to mark 67 years since Nazi Germany surrendered to the Soviet Union, in a commemoration still controversial in the Baltic state. Thousands of all ages converged on Riga’s Soviet Victory Monument to lay flowers while veterans proudly displayed their medals as pro-Russian political groups handed out leaflets, under the eye of a heavy police presence.

Known as “Victory Day” to Russians, May 9 remains a divisive date in Latvia. Ethnic Russians — comprising more than a quarter of the ex-Soviet state’s two million population — regard it as a celebration of the day Nazi forces surrendered to the Red Army in Berlin in 1945, according to Moscow time. But most ethnic Latvians see it as the start of a harsh 50-year Soviet occupation of their country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Aeroflot Says to Keep Flying Superjet Despite Crash

Russia’s flag carrier Aeroflot said it would not ground its fleet of six Superjet 100 planes despite the crash of one of the jets during an exhibition flight in Indonesia with all aboard feared killed. “Aeroflot does not intend to stop operating the SSJ (Sukhoi Superjet 100) aircraft,” the company said in a statement released on its Twitter account. “All the SSJ undergo daily technical inspections and the flights are being performed according to schedule,” the statement said.

Aeroflot is one of only two companies alongside Armenia’s national carrier Armavia to fly Russia’s first post-Soviet jet airliner. It has placed an order for 30 aircraft as part of ongoing efforts to replace its last remaining Soviet-era jets.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Jihad Against America: Relations Remain Icy Between Pakistan and the US

Washington and Islamabad have barely been on speaking terms since US forces killed Osama bin Laden last year. But with American and NATO troops set to leave neighboring Afghanistan soon, nuclear-armed Pakistan has little motivation to improve relations. Hatred of the US is growing in the country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Superjet 100 Disaster in Indonesia: Russia’s Prestige Project Crashes Into Volcano

In a nightmare for Russia’s aviation industry, the country’s new Superjet 100 has crashed into a mountainside during a demonstration flight in Indonesia. The disaster could jeopardize the ambitious Superjet project, which Moscow had hoped would be an aviation success story.

A Russian demonstration flight of a new Superjet 100 ended in tragedy Wednesday, when the plane crashed into the side of a dormant volcano in Indonesia, presumably killing the approximately 50 people on board.

The flight was meant to showcase the Sukhoi Superjet 100, a regional jet and the new star of the aviation industry in Russia, where news of the crash was met with disbelief.

The plane disappeared from radar some 20 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta on Wednesday. The area of the crash is known for its haze, and the crew had requested permission to lower their altitude to 6,000 feet (1,800 meters). The cause of the crash, though, remains unclear. In addition to the Russian crew, the passengers included airline representatives and a handful of journalists.

Rescue workers in helicopters spotted the wreckage on the rocky ridge atop Mount Salak on Thursday morning, and rescuers have since recovered the first bodies of the passengers. “We haven’t found survivors,” search and rescue team spokesman Gagah Prakoso told Indonesia’s Metro TV.

About 1,000 rescue workers are taking part in the recovery operation at the remote and rugged crash site on the 7,254-foot (2,200-meter) mountain, which is some 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Jakarta.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Japan: U.S. Senator Sounds Alarm About ‘Precarious’ Fukushima Situation, Warns of Imminent Release of Radiation

(NaturalNews) U.S. Senator Ron Wyden is, as far as Senators go, an honorable guy. I don’t agree with all his politics, but I actually used to live in his district in Oregon when he was a congressman (1981 — 1996), and I remember him standing out as someone who genuinely seemed to care about the People.

To my knowledge, Sen. Wyden is the only U.S. Senator who has actually visited the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility and warned the U.S. public about what he saw. And what did he see? A wrecked, half-collapsed building site littered with massive collections of nuclear fuel rods that now threaten the entire Northern hemisphere with a radiation apocalypse.[url]

When Wyden returned to the USA following the visit, he immediately issued an urgent warning, now reprinted on his website. In the watered-down language of political correctness, the warning is still quite strong. As his website says: [url]

“Wyden’s principal concern is the relocation of spent fuel rods currently being stored in unsound structures immediately adjacent to the ocean. He strongly urged the Ambassador to accept international help to prevent dangerous nuclear material from being released into the environment.”

He then went on to say, in his own words: (emphasis added)

“The scope of damage to the plants and to the surrounding area was far beyond what I expected and the scope of the challenges to the utility owner, the government of Japan, and to the people of the region are daunting. The precarious status of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear units and the risk presented by the enormous inventory of radioactive materials and spent fuel in the event of further earthquake threats should be of concern to all and a focus of greater international support and assistance.”


Virtually nothing is happening. All the governments involved (Japan and USA, primarily) are playing a ridiculously stupid game of pretending there is no problem. The Japanese government, for its part, has decided that instead of admitted to a radiation problem, it’s easier to just tell Japanese citizens they have a mental disorder if they’re concerned about radiation [url]

The U.S. government plays a similar mind game, raising the allowable levels of radiation exposure by thousands of times and then declaring Fukushima fallout to be suddenly safe! [url]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South China Sea Dispute is Turning More Turbulent

The waters in the South China Sea are rougher than ever, stirred up by an escalating row over rival claims in the region. China appears more ready than ever to flex its muscle to wrestle control. The month-long dispute between China and the Philippines over claims in the South China Sea has risen to a new level of concern, with hints of economic retaliation and even war.

The two are among six nations — together with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam — that have staked claims to waters and island groups in the South China Sea. The area is home to heavy shipping lanes, rich fishing waters and, perhaps most important, a potential wealth of mineral resources.

Since early April, China and the Philippines have been locked in a standoff at the Scarborough Shoal where they have stationed non-military vessels. Both claim to own the string of small islands in the South China Sea, about 230 kilometers from the Philippines and more than 1,200 kilometers from China.

Beijing has suspended tourist travel to the Philippines and stiffened inspections on the country’s fruit. China is the single biggest buyer of Philippine bananas. Through government-controlled media, China has also warned of military intervention, if the dispute escalates any further.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: ‘Boko Haram is a Symptom, Not a Disease’

The radical Islamic group Boko Haram has carried out a number of violent and deadly attacks in Nigeria. Their bombings and drive by shootings have killed hundreds of Nigerian civilians, both Christian and Muslim.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Sudan Accuses Khartoum of Truce-Breaking Airstrikes

South Sudan has claimed that Sudan has resumed a campaign of aerial bombardment against it, violating a UN cease-fire. Meanwhile, Khartoum accuses its neighbor of supporting rebels in the region of Darfur. A military spokesman for South Sudan alleged on Wednesday that Sudan had launched a series of air attacks, violating a UN cease-fire.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sudanese Refugees Fear Return Home

Some of Cairo’s South Sudanese refugee population were hoping to return home. New hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan leave refugees disappointed and doubtful.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Denmark: Activists Work to Put More Control in Asylum Seekers’ Hands

A city community centre is the setting for a fight to improve conditions for asylum seekers and fundamentally change attitudes toward foreigners

In a quiet corner in the city district of Nørrebro is a community centre called the Trampoline House. Run by asylum seekers, activists and curious Danes, the house’s users are offered a range of activities and services, from counselling and language lessons to hairdressing and tailoring.

Independently funded, the house operates outside the official asylum system and actively seeks to influence asylum law. Over the past six weeks, The Copenhagen Post has kept track of its latest campaign to encourage the government to live up to its promises.

“Asylum seekers should have the opportunity to work and live outside asylum centres,” the government wrote in their common policy after their election win last September. “Failed asylum seekers are thereby built up as people and are given better skill sets.”

The current system, they argue, can turn some asylum seekers — many of whom have travelled thousands of miles fleeing conflict and persecution — into passive and isolated individuals with little control over their own lives. While this may only apply in extreme cases, the consensus among the asylum seekers, aid agencies, social workers and activists who spoke to The Copenhagen Post was that hundreds of lives would improve if asylum seekers were allowed to live and work outside centres, thus returning to them a degree of the control that they had long been deprived of.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Dozens of Migrants Stopped Off Sicily

Illegal crossings resume amid good weather

(ANSA) — Mazara del Vallo, May 10 — Italian police escorted 42 immigrants to shore off the coast of Sicily early Thursday. Travelling by fishing boat, the immigrants were all men and believed to be from nearby Tunisia. Police were verifying their identities at a local holding center. Migrant crossings from North Africa to southern Italy have recently resumed because of good weather.

Last week police stopped 79 Egyptian migrants and 15 suspected traffickers on a fishing boat off this same western Sicilian port.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Police Arrest Two Tunisians Over Perugia Rampage

Perugia, 9 May (AKI) — Police have arrested two Tunisians after urban warfare broke out late Tuesday in the central city of Perugia between gangs of immigrants when a North African was stabbed.

The two Tunisians face charges of resisting arrest and of causing damage when gangs of immigrants ran amok, smashing store windows and overturning rubbish bins in one of Perugia’s main shopping streets.

Witnesses reported hearing several shots being fired around midnight, shortly before the North African was stabbed in the stomach and the head.

The North African has since been operated on in hospital, where his condition was described by doctors as serious.

Police said they were investigating a suspected feud between rival immigrant gangs that may have sparked the late-night rampage.

On the orders of local magistrates, police in Perugia earlier on Tuesday arrested seven Albanian suspects following a year-long probe that investigators say smashed a major drugs and prostitution racket in the city.

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

Spain: Madrid Begins Denying Health Cards to Illegal Migrants

Region takes measure just 10 days after central government announcement of policy change

Order criticized by patient associations, such as AIDS advocacy group Seisida

Half-a-million illegal migrants stand to lose health coverage

The Madrid regional government has ordered its officials not to hand out health cards to migrants who cannot prove they are legal residents of Spain. In an administrative order dated May 4, the Madrid government began restricting illegal migrants from accessing medical services just 10 days after the central government issued a decree proposing changes to Spain’s free-treatment-for-all policy as part of a series of budget cut measures.

The order has already been criticized by patient associations, such as the AIDS advocacy group Seisida. According to the internal document, which was given to EL PAÍS, any migrant who cannot present a residency card will be denied free healthcare. Beforehand, migrants only had to show that they were registered on municipal rolls in order to apply for a health card.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Charity is the Only Medicine, PP Tells Foreign Residents

Health Minister informs illegal immigrants they will have to rely on NGOs for medical aid

Illegal immigrants who require medical assistance will have to rely on charity from now on — or, to use politically correct language, on “partnerships with non-profit groups.” That was the solution proposed by Health Minister Ana Mato and the ruling Popular Party’s health spokesman, José Ignacio Echániz, shortly after announcing that foreigners without residency papers will no longer have access to free state health care and prescription medicines.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: Lesbian PCSO ‘Fondled Colleague’s Breasts and Groped Male Officers During String of Sexual Assaults’

A lesbian police community support officer sexually assaulted five colleagues, fondling one woman’s breasts and groping a male officer in his patrol car, a court heard yesterday.

Sylvia Cooper, 45, subjected officers of both genders to a string of unwanted sexual advances, persistently touching their genitals and slapping their bottoms, it is alleged.

Sylvia Cooper, 45, is accused of attacking male and female officers between 2009 and 2010 when she worked as a PCSO with West Midlands Police

Court heard Cooper had such a lecherous reputation colleagues deliberately changed their shifts to avoid coming into contact with her.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Microsoft Returning Windows to ‘The Digital Dark Ages’?

The biggest lawsuit in Microsoft’s history dominated the 90s, when the company battled accusations that it was stifling browser competition. Rival Netscape couldn’t survive, but the Windows giant was ultimately forced to strip Internet Explorer from its operating system in a landmark ruling. That conflict may be brewing up again.

Mozilla, the developer group behind the popular Firefox browser, argued Wednesday night that Firefox is being banned from certain versions of Windows 8, the forthcoming tablet-centric OS from Microsoft — returning Windows users to the dark ages before competition.

“The upcoming release of Windows … and Microsoft’s browser practices regarding Windows 8 Metro signal an unwelcome return to the digital dark ages where users and developers didn’t have browser choices,” wrote Harvey Anderson, Mozilla general counsel, in a Wednesday night blog post.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]