Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120521

Financial Crisis
»ECB Increasingly Concerned Over Aid to Greek Banks
»EU Summit on Wednesday: Hollande to Confront Merkel on Euro Bonds
»Europe Banks Fear a Flight
»Ex-Banker: German Euro Rescue is Holocaust Guilt
»Greek Firms to Increase Prices Amidst Market Losses
»Hollande to Reiterate Eurobond Proposal in Brussels
»Italy: Man Kills Self, Throws His Two Small Children From Window
»More Airlines Stop Direct Flights to Greece
»Spain: No Need for European Funds to Help Banks
»Tax Burden on Italian Labor Highest in Eurozone
»Afghan, 22, Rebuilding Her Life in the U.S. After Having Her Nose Hacked Off in Her Homeland
»Agenda 21 Conspiracy Theory or Threat, Part 1 and 2
»Defense and Debt: NATO Leaders Focus on Funding in Chicago
»Dharun Ravi Sentenced to 30-Day Jail Term in Rutgers Bias Case
»Fourth Protester is Charged With Plotting NATO Attacks
»Frank Gaffney: Bad Timing for L.O.S.T.
»Global Cinema Giant Emerges as Wanda Buys AMC
»Mosque or Mom’s House? Dispute Over Big House in West Miami-Dade
»Obama Has 115. 2 Million in His Coffers
»Obama and the Muslim Brotherhood
»Oldest Fossilized Ink Found in Ancient Squid Cousin
»Telerobotics Offers Third Way for Space Exploration
»The Truth About the U.S. Postal Service
Europe and the EU
»David Littman, 1933-2012: He Showed us the Mettle of His Pasture
»Europe’s Largest Solar Telescope Opens in Canary Islands
»France’s New Burqa-Friendly Government
»German Muslim Calls for Murder of German Far-Right Party: Media
»Germany: Islamist Urges ‘Death for Far-Right Party Members’
»Islamic Culture: A Week to Get to Know it Returns to Rome
»Italy: ‘Anti-Politics’ Movement Lands Parma in Election Runoffs
»NATO Declares First Stage of Missile Shield Operational
»Netherlands: Roma Family Offered Housing Dozen Times
»Norway: Sympathy for the Devil: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Anders Breivik
»Norway Separates Church and State
»Norway: Witness: I Will Not Testify in ‘Twisted Killer’s Show’
»Romania Expects Freeze of EU Aid Payments
»Shafilea Ahmed Case: ‘Sister Saw Parents Commit Murder’
»Suu Kyi to Give Nobel Lecture During Norway Visit
»Sweden Drifting From ‘Swedish Model’: Report
»Switzerland: Court: Anti-Islam Group Must be Protected
»Talent Abounds in Switzerland, Says OECD
»UK: Islam and the Issue of Exploiting Minors
»UK: London Gang Stabs Football Fan to Death After Chelsea FC Win Champions League — and Father is Knifed as He Runs to Help
»UK: Nadine Dorries MP: The Rochdale Girls Were Let Down by the Very Institutions Which Should Have Cared for Them
»UK: Parents ‘Murdered Daughter for Bringing Shame on Family’
»UK: Parents ‘Murdered Their Westernised Teenage Daughter in Front of Her Sister Because They Thought She Was Bringing Shame on the Family’
»UK: Slow Police Response Time for Hammer Attack on Dance Class Father
»UK: The Extraordinary Karma of Gordon Brown
»Nikolic New President of Serbia, Tadic Acknowledges Defeat
»Serbian Election: The End of the Beginning
North Africa
»Muslim Brotherhood Attempting to Disenfranchise Egyptian Christian Voters
»World’s Tallest Mega-Mosque Being Built in Algeria
Israel and the Palestinians
»Palestinian Paralympians Visit Jerusalem Holy Site
Middle East
»Cyprus: Israel Denies Plan to Send Troops to Island
»Iran Holds the First International Congress on Islamic Humanities
»Iranian Calls for ‘Islamic Awakening’ To Destroy Israel
»Lebanon: Tense Calm in Beirut After Clashes in the Night
»Lebanon: Beirut Gunbattles Leave 2 Dead, Syria Spillover Feared
»Suicide Bombing Hits Yemeni Military Parade Rehearsal
»Syria: Al-Qaeda Aligned Group Claims Northeast Bombing
»US Leads Major War Drill in Jordan — Israel Not Invited
»US Officially Arming Extremists in Syria
»Warnings From Capitol Hill That Iran and Its Terror Proxy, Hizbullah, May be Planning 9/11 Scale Attacks on the United States
»Yemen: Almost 100 Die in Suicide Blast
»Yemen: Soldier Turns Bomber, Killing 96
»Artists Lead Thousands Against Putin in Moscow
South Asia
»Al-Qaeda Could ‘Re-Emerge in Afghanistan After NATO Withdrawal’
»Hollande Confirms Early Afghan Pull-Out
»Indonesian Islamists, Joined by Women and Children, Attack (Yet Again) Bekasi Christians
»Nepal: Muslims Call Off Stir
»Pakistan: Christian Couple Acquitted in Lahore Over False Blasphemy Charges
»Pakistan: Dispute Over ‘Slipper’ Claims Four Lives
»Twitter Row Reveals the Trouble With Pakistan
Far East
»Fukushima Reactor 4 Poses Massive Global Risk
Sub-Saharan Africa
»First Muslim Radio in Nigeria
»Ghana: Rights of Muslims Must be Respected — Ahlussunna
»Nigeria: Lagos Shuts Churches, Mosques Over Noise Pollution
»Nearly a Million New Immigrants in Germany
»Netherlands: Asylum Seekers’ Protest Camp Grows
Culture Wars
»UK: GMP [Greater Manchester Police] Flies Rainbow Flag for IDAHO
»DARPA Building Very Fast Robotic Hunter-Killers to Chase You Down
»Scientists Create Lethal Bird Flu That is Transmissible Between Humans… Then Tell World How to Fabricate it

Financial Crisis

ECB Increasingly Concerned Over Aid to Greek Banks

The European Central Bank is keeping Greek banks afloat with emergency assistance even though urgently needed banking reforms have been put on hold in the election campaigns. As Greeks withdraw money from the banks amid fears of a euro exit, the ECB’s own risk exposure is mounting.

When the head of Greece’s central bank, George Provopoulos, recently met with his European counterparts, the session turned into a confession. His fellow Greeks had just withdrawn €800 million ($1.022 billion) from their bank accounts, within just a few days. Consequently, at a meeting of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) last Tuesday, Provopoulos had to ask for money — once again.

Most Greek banks are currently cut off from the usual ECB lines of credit. They no longer have sufficient collateral. A number of banks are even currently operating without sufficient capital as a risk buffer for their activities. Indeed, Provopoulos had to accept last week that yet another crop of Greek banks were branded as unfit for ECB refinancing.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Summit on Wednesday: Hollande to Confront Merkel on Euro Bonds

French President Hollande will put German Chancellor Merkel under pressure at Wednesday’s EU summit to agree to euro bonds, which she has so far strictly opposed. Italy and Britain are expected to back Hollande in a further sign that Merkel is increasingly isolated in Europe with her austerity plan for saving the euro.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe Banks Fear a Flight

The specter of funding problems is once again haunting Europe’s banks. Even after the European Central Bank pumped more than €1 trillion ($1.278 trillion) of cheap three-year loans into hundreds of banks, the Continent’s financial system remains vulnerable to the prospect that stampedes of customers could yank their deposits from institutions perceived as shaky. That threat was shoved into the spotlight last week when customers withdrew more than €700 million from Greek banks in a single day.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ex-Banker: German Euro Rescue is Holocaust Guilt

Ex-federal banker turned controversy merchant Thilo Sarrazin has attracted fresh outrage with a book claiming Germany’s European policy is driven by guilt for World War II and the Holocaust.

Sarrazin appeared on a state TV talk show on Sunday evening to defend his thesis against former Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück, who overcame his usual reserve and described Sarrazin’s ideas as “bullshit.”

In his new book “Europe Doesn’t Need the Euro” Sarrazin says Germany’s efforts to rescue the euro were “driven by the very German reflex that the Holocaust and World War II will only be finally atoned for when all our other interests, including our money, is in Europe’s hands.”

Both Steinbrück and Sarrazin are members of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and both have experience of administering state finances — Steinbrück was German finance minister under Chancellor Angela Merkel from 2005 to 2009, while Sarrazin was finance minister for the state of Berlin from 2002 to 2009, before joining the board of the German Federal Bank.

He was forced to leave this last post in 2010, after publishing the provocative book “Germany Does Away With Itself”, in which he blamed Germany’s immigrant community for the country’s economic and social problems.

Sarrazin describes his new book as an answer to Merkel’s statement, “If the euro fails, then Europe fails,” and said Germany’s export-driven economy did not need the euro.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greek Firms to Increase Prices Amidst Market Losses

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 21 — Certain Greek companies couldn’t care less about the financial crisis consequences hurting the average Greek family and are pushing for increases in product prices while the country’s economy sinks in bottomless waters.

Trustworthy information from reports that companies, such as the Fillipou family-owned Elbisco (Yiannis and Kiriakos Phillipou), demand a retail increase of 15% despite the significant reduction of Greek household income. These, as Greek.Reporter website notes, are increases which appear absolutely unjustified due to the labor cost cuts both companies have made and cannot be accepted given the devastated market.

At the same time, it is not only the two famous food industries that want increases but also others, such as Coca Cola, which demands increases of about 5%. The price increases will not stop there, since other Greek companies want to follow in the same steps as Elbisco, arguing that the continued increase in production costs due to taxes imposed on the entire chain make the increase in retail prices unavoidable.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Hollande to Reiterate Eurobond Proposal in Brussels

(AGI) Brussells- French President Francois Hollande will reiterate the proposal for adopting Eurobonds in Brussels.

Despite opposition from Berlin, EU sources confirm this news which Mr Hollande had already put forward at the G8 in Camp David. The French will be able to count on Italian, Spanish and EU Commission support. Today Germany reiterated its opposition to Eurobonds. Berlin has the support of the Netherlands and Finland, the two other triple-A countries in the EU. “This isn’t something which will happen overnight”, said EU sources, “but there is a will to enact a European plan”. Even Slovak President Robert Fico told his MPs that he intends to support the French proposal.

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

Italy: Man Kills Self, Throws His Two Small Children From Window

Man died instantly, children passed away in hospital

(ANSA) — Brescia, May 21 — A man leapt to his death on Monday from a residential building in the northern city of Brescia after killing his two children aged one and four by throwing them out of a window.

Forty-one-year old Marco Turrini died instantly while the two children passed away in hospital. The man, who is said to have argued with his wife beforehand, reportedly attempted unsuccessfully to push his spouse from the balcony before jumping. According to investigators, the unemployed publicist suffered from depression, but had no criminal record or history of violence. One year ago Turrini’s father committed suicide by hanging himself.

Since the beginning of 2012, Italy has seen a wave suicides that are being linked to the widespread economic crisis.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

More Airlines Stop Direct Flights to Greece

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 21 — One by one, foreign airlines are ceasing their direct flights to Greece and vice versa, realizing these itineraries are unprofitable, as Greek.Reporter website writes. Athens has, during the past two years, lost many of its tourists. International media shows a country with financial problems and possible riots at any time and many visitors are changing their plans and travel to other places, mostly neighboring, such as Turkey and Italy. Athens appears as a capital where demonstrators destroy the city; this unacceptable reaction of the demonstrators takes place only around the Parliament. As a result, the once top European destination with the once flourishing culture has now been transformed into a “must-not” holiday destination.

The country’s high petrol prices and Greece’s small market are also a negative aspect. Globally, however, airlines report a fall in their flight and income. Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), announced that by the end of 2012, the airlines’ income will be 3 billion USD, far less than that of 2011, amounting to 7.9 billion USD. According to Tyler, an additional reason to this significant drop is the excessive taxation imposed by the states. Singapore Airlines company announced few days ago that it ceased routes to Greece. The same happened with American-based Delta Airlines less than a month ago, a company which used to operate services from New York to Athens. The European airlines sector reported similar losses by 2.5 billion USD in 2010. The value of the airline market decreased by 10% for domestic flights and by 90% for the international.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: No Need for European Funds to Help Banks

Bankia, the nationalized Spanish bank which had to reassure savers last week to fend off a reported run on its deposits, needs to strengthen its capital defenses by as much as €7.5 billion ($9.56 billion), the economy minister said Monday.

The minister, Luis de Guindos, said Bankia needed to find around €7 billion to €7.5 billion to meet the Spanish government’s new provisioning requirements designed to strengthen the country’s banking industry against further economic shocks. If Bankia cannot raise the money itself, it will have to tap the state bank rescue fund, FROB. This could increase the government’s bill for keeping Bankia afloat to €12 billion.

Like other banks, Bankia has until June 11 to tell the government how it plans to come up with the money for stronger defenses.

Spain has essentially taken over Bankia by turning a €4.5 billion aid injection made in 2010 into shares in Bankia’s parent company. Many Spanish lenders are heavily exposed to Spain’s imploded real estate bubble, and Bankia is the worst off of all, with €32 billion in toxic assets.

Last week Bankia had to fend off a newspaper report that its savers were rushing to withdraw their funds since the bank was taken over by the government. Its shares dropped as much as 27 per cent on Thursday, before recovering the following day. Bankia’s shares were 2.8 per cent higher in afternoon trading Monday at €1.81.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tax Burden on Italian Labor Highest in Eurozone

Citizen taxes to go up almost 2%, Eurostat says

(ANSA) — Brussels, May 21 — Italy has the highest tax burden on labor in all the eurozone, European Union statistics bureau Eurostat said Monday. In 2010 the burden on business personnel rose from 42.3% to 42.6% when labor taxes and social-security contributions are combined. The average among the 17 eurozone nations is 34%. Eurostat also said that the tax burden on the general public in Italy is expected to rise from 45.6% to 47.3% in 2012, following a series of tax hikes as part of a government austerity program approved in December.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Afghan, 22, Rebuilding Her Life in the U.S. After Having Her Nose Hacked Off in Her Homeland

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

Aesha Mohammadzai was horrifically disfigured and left for dead for trying to flee abusive forced marriage

The 22-year-old fled to America, aged 18, for reconstructive surgery and won political asylum

Aesha now battling to put traumatic past behind her and adapt to her new life

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Agenda 21 Conspiracy Theory or Threat, Part 1 and 2

Those who simply read or quickly scan Agenda 21 are puzzled by our opposition to what they see as a harmless, non-controversial document which they read as voluntary suggestions for preserving natural resources and protecting the environment. Why the fear? What exactly bothers us so much?

The problem is, we who oppose Agenda 21 have read and studied much more than this one document and we’ve connected the dots. Many of us have attended those international meetings, rubbed elbows with the authors and leaders of the advocated policies, and overheard their insider (not for public distribution) comments about their real purpose.

Here are a few examples of those comments made by major leaders of this movement as to the true purpose of the policies coming out of these UN meetings:


For the past three decades through the United Nations infrastructure, there have been a series of meetings, each producing another document or lynchpin to lay the groundwork for a centralized global economy, judicial system, military, and communications system, leading to what can only be described as a global government. From our study of these events, we have come to the conclusion that Agenda 21 represents the culmination of all of those efforts, indeed representing the step by step blueprint for the full imposition of those goals. Here’s just a sample of these meetings and the documents they produced:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Defense and Debt: NATO Leaders Focus on Funding in Chicago

NATO leaders gathered in Chicago are faced with an ever-worsening conundrum: How can they cut military expenditures while at the same time boosting the alliance’s military capabilities? The answer is called “Smart Defense,” and critics worry it could result in the weakening of the alliance.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Dharun Ravi Sentenced to 30-Day Jail Term in Rutgers Bias Case

Dharun Ravi, a former Rutgers University student, was sentenced to 30 days in jail by a judge in New Brunswick, N.J., on Monday following his conviction on charges that he had used a webcam to spy on his roommate having sex with another man. Mr. Ravi had faced up to 10 years in prison.

Judge Glenn Berman of Middlesex County Superior Court said that the jail term was for witness- and evidence-tampering and lying to police, and not for Mr. Ravi’s bias crimes against his roommate, Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge three days after one of the webcam viewings, three weeks into their freshman year in September 2010.

[Return to headlines]

Fourth Protester is Charged With Plotting NATO Attacks

(AGI) Chicago — Four portesters have been charged with terrorism ahead of the Nato summit which is due to get underway on Sunday in Chicago. Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24 , has been charged with one count of terrorism. He was preparing a fire bomb to be launched during the demonstrations, Chicago Police Department spokesman reported. The arrest of Senakiewicz is not directly connected to the other three men who the police caught while making Molotov cocktails, which they were planning to use against President Obama’s re-election campaign headquarters, as well as several Chicago police stations and banks

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

Frank Gaffney: Bad Timing for L.O.S.T.

This week, the Obama administration will roll out its big guns in support of President Obama’s latest assault on American sovereignty and security interests: The UN Law of the Sea Treaty (better known as LOST). Of course, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, they will appear to be talking about another accord altogether — one that strengthens our sovereignty and is deemed by the U.S. military to be essential to our security.

So which is it?…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Global Cinema Giant Emerges as Wanda Buys AMC

In the largest ever takeover of a US company by a Chinese investor, Dalian Wanda Group has bought US cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings. The acquisition makes the group the world’s biggest cinema owner.

Dalian Wanda Group will purchase AMC Entertainment Holding for $2.6 billion (2.03 billion euros), and will invest another $500 million to fund “future initiatives,” the Chinese conglomerate said in a statement Monday.

AMC, which is based in Kansas City, United States, operates 346 cinemas in the United States and Canada, while Danlian Wanda Group is a private Chinese property group operating hotels, department stores and tourism businesses, as well as 86 cinemas.

Wanda’s investment is intended to ease AMC’s financial problems created by high debt-servicing costs, as well as to allow major renovations of cinemas, including equipping theatres with the latest 3-D and IMAX technology.

“We have absolute confidence in the future of the company,” said Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin at the signing ceremony, adding that he would support AMC to “become bigger” not only in the US, but in global markets, too.

Wang Jianlin founded Wanda Group in 1988 and was ranked China’s sixth richest men last year, owning a personal fortune of $7.1 billion. The group created revenue of $16.7 billion in 2011.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mosque or Mom’s House? Dispute Over Big House in West Miami-Dade

A county commissioner thinks a three-story house under construction in his district may not be what it appears. The homeowner says he’s being discriminated against because he’s Muslim.

County Commissioner Javier Souto suspects that a seven-bedroom, 11-bathroom house under construction in his West Miami-Dade district is destined to be used as a religious sanctuary — possibly a mosque. He has complained to the county’s building and zoning departments. He flagged the inspector general, the state attorney and the governor. He also urged his colleagues to initiate an investigation and issue subpoenas. But property owner Samir Ghazal says he’s just building a house for his mother — an 8,190-square-foot house, featuring a nearly two-story high, Moorish-style arch over the front door. The dispute came to a head last week, when Souto, grilling county administrators about the house, said he smells corruption and wants drastic action. I want somebody to go to jail here,” he said. Ghazal says racial and religious intolerance — not the house size — are driving the complaints. “I think it’s discrimination, when two blocks away there’s a lady who built a house, same size, and she’s a white Cuban. I think it’s because my mother is a black Cuban,” said Ghazal, 36. “Because I practice Islam.” Administrators say the three-story Westwood Lakes house, while dwarfing neighboring one-story homes, follows the county’s building and zoning codes. Ghazal insists the house will be just that — a home — and not a mosque.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obama Has 115. 2 Million in His Coffers

(AGI) Washington — Barack Obama is sitting on a little treasure of 115,2 mln Dlrs. This is despite Wall Street’s big funders stopped financing him in 2006. This is what the fund amounts to according to the Federal Election Commission data updated to the 30th of April.

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

Obama and the Muslim Brotherhood

(AMERICAN THINKER) — On July 2, 2011, Rep. Trent Franks, a member of the House Committee on Armed Services, denounced the Obama administration’s policy of “limited contacts” with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Franks emphatically stated that “the [Obama] administration is fooling themselves as well as placing the United States and Israel in severe danger if they fail to recognize the fallout that would stem from the Muslim Brotherhood gaining significant and newfound influence in Egyptian policies following the September elections.”

Completely ignoring this grave security risk, Obama enlarged the “limited contact” to a full public endorsement of a group whose codified aim is to murder Jews, exterminate Israel, and infiltrate the West and destroy it from within. According to Discover the Networks, Muslim Brotherhood operative Mohamed Akram espoused the “common goal of dismantling American institutions and turning the U.S. into a Muslim nation.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Oldest Fossilized Ink Found in Ancient Squid Cousin

The oldest fossilized pigment ever found has been discovered inside the preserved ink sacs of an ancient cuttlefish ancestor.

The ink sacs belonged to a cephalopod, the group that includes squid, octopus and cuttlefish, 160 million years ago, during the Jurassic era. The molecular structure of the ancient ink is surprisingly similar to that of modern cuttlefish Sepia officinalis, said study researcher John Simon, a professor of chemistry at the University of Virginia.

“They’re essentially indistinguishable,” Simon told LiveScience.

Previous studies have turned up tiny structures in everything from fossil fish eyes to dinosaur feathers containing the dark brown or black pigment melanin. But it can be tough to tell pigment structures, called melanosomes, from fossilized bacteria. Simon and his colleagues used a barrage of chemical tests to examine two fossil ink sacs found in the United Kingdom. These tests gave them a remarkably detailed look at the molecular makeup of the ink sacs’ contents.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Telerobotics Offers Third Way for Space Exploration

SPACE exploration may have a new direction. In the 1960s, humans did the exploring but since the last moon landing in 1972, NASA’s only explorers beyond low Earth orbit have been semi-autonomous robots. Now the agency is pondering a third approach, sending astronauts who would remain in orbit around alien worlds and explore via robotic rovers.

On Earth, human-controlled robots are used for tasks ranging from delicate surgery to exploration of the deep sea. But in space, robotic “telepresence” could be even more promising.

Telerobotics would be orders of magnitude more productive for exploration than semi-autonomous robots like the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, says NASA’s George Schmidt, an organiser of the Exploration Telerobotics Symposium earlier this month at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Nothing beats having human cognition and dexterity in the field,” he says.

But there is a hitch in trying to control from Earth a robot that’s exploring another planet: the huge time lag as the signals travel back and forth. Real-time reactions are needed for it to work. For example, surgeons can perform operations well as long as the robot responds to their actions within about half a second. Greater latencies cause problems.

Latency on Earth is no more than a few hundred milliseconds, but latency between the Earth and moon is about 3 seconds, and that delay is enough to slow telerobotics dramatically, says Daniel Lester of the University of Texas at Austin, another organiser of the symposium. “You could use telepresence to tie a knot in 30 seconds on Earth, but it would take 10 minutes to tie it with 3-second latency.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Truth About the U.S. Postal Service

Since 1971, the postal service has not taken a dime from taxpayers. All of its operations — including the remarkable convenience of 32,000 local post offices — are paid for by peddling stamps and other products.

The privatizers squawk that USPS has gone some $13 billion in the hole during the past four years — a private corporation would go broke with that record! (Actually, private corporations tend to go to Washington rather than go broke, getting taxpayer bailouts to cover their losses.) The Postal Service is NOT broke. Indeed, in those four years of loudly deplored “losses,” the service actually produced a $700 million operational profit (despite the worst economy since the Great Depression).

What’s going on here?

In 2006, the Bush White House and Congress whacked the post office with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act — an incredible piece of ugliness requiring the agency to PRE-PAY the health care benefits not only of current employees, but also of all employees who’ll retire during the next 75 years. Yes, that includes employees who’re not yet born!

No other agency and no corporation has to do this. Worse, this ridiculous law demands that USPS fully fund this seven-decade burden by 2016. Imagine the shrieks of outrage if Congress tried to slap FedEx or other private firms with such an onerous requirement.

This politically motivated mandate is costing the Postal Service $5.5 billion a year — money taken right out of postage revenue that could be going to services. That’s the real source of the “financial crisis” squeezing America’s post offices.

In addition, due to a 40-year-old accounting error, the federal Office of Personnel Management has overcharged the post office by as much as $80 billion for payments into the Civil Service Retirement System. This means that USPS has had billions of its sales dollars erroneously diverted into the treasury. Restore the agency’s access to its own postage money, and the impending “collapse” goes away.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

David Littman, 1933-2012: He Showed us the Mettle of His Pasture

By Andrew Bostom

My friend and generous mentor, the historian and fearless human rights activist, David Gerald Littman, died yesterday, May 20, 2012, succumbing to acute myelogenous leukemia, after a stoic, typically intrepid struggle.

In addition to amassing own his unique and prodigious output, David was a devoted husband and champion of the pioneering scholarship of his wife of 53 years, Gisele Orebi, better known under her nom de plume, Bat Ye’or [2]. Despite stultifying modern taboos, together, the Littmans worked indefatigably to educate humanity—non-Muslim and Muslim, alike—about the genocidal living legacy of jihadism [3].

David’s remarkable personal biography [4] melded first-rate, original scholarship, with uniquely erudite and brave activism—combined efforts spanning over 50 years.

For example, Littman was the driving force behind the daring 1961 Operation Mural (chronicled in this 55 minute documentary [5]). Mural was Mossad’s code-name for David whose cover was a public-school-educated Anglican gentleman, a cordial tennis partner with the British consul, and also possessing excellent security contacts in Casablanca. David Littman successfully completed the mission: defying the Moroccan ban on Jews wishing to emigrate to Israel, he smuggled 530 Jewish children out of Morocco to what the Moroccan authorities thought was a holiday camp in Switzerland—in reality, a mere way-station to their permanent re-location to Israel.

Ever resilient, David Littman overcame a speech defect (i.e., stuttering), and developed into a truly gifted orator, who made countless presentations [6] to the Orwellian-named UN Human Rights Commission (UN-HRC). These frequently memorable appearances showcased David’s erudition, valor, and wry sense of humor, while he tackled vexing and critically important issues—cynically ignored by all other UN-HRC representatives in there monomaniacal focus on Israel’s putative “abuses”—including: the first public exposures of Hamas’ 1988 charter sanctioning the jihad genocide of Israeli Jews, the related heinous advocacy by Islamic religious clerics of jihad “martyrdom operations,” i.e., homicide bombings, which included the deliberate targeting of non-combatants, and Iran’s nuclear jihad genocidal aspirations toward Israel; highlighting the scourge of female genital mutilation, and its specific sanctioning, for example, by the Shafiite school of Sunni Islamic “jurisprudence,” which helped elucidate, unapologetically, why this misogynistic barbarity was an overwhelming problem in Islamdom; and the repeated exposure of mainstream institutional Islam’s efforts—via the Organization of the Islamic Conference (now Organization of Islamic Cooperation)—to impose Sharia-sanctioned abrogation of freedom of conscience and speech and nullify modern human rights constructs, founded upon the US Bill of Rights and the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As a trained historian, and meticulous independent scholar, David was equally bold and original…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

Europe’s Largest Solar Telescope Opens in Canary Islands

A powerful solar telescope billed as the largest in Europe opened Monday on Spain’s Canary Islands which scientists say will allow them to study the sun in unprecedented detail.

With a mirror diametre of 1.5 metres (4.9 feet), the Gregor telescope will be able to show structures on the sun on scales as small as 70 kilometres (43.5 miles), the Astrophysical Institute of the Canary Islands said in a statement.

The telescope was built on the island of Tenerife at a cost of 12.85 million euros ($16.4 million) by a German consortium led by the Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics in Freiburg which covered the majority of the expense.

“Its advanced technology will allow the scientific community — Spanish, German and international — to study the sun in an unprecedented level of detail,” the statement said.

In addition to the large diametre of its mirror, the telescope features a retractable roof that prevents air turbulence in its optical path which allows it to deliver “images of a sharpness that up until now no terrestrial solar telescope has ever obtained.”

The solar telescope is the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world, the institute said. “Gregor was built mainly to study physical processes on the surface of the sun,” said Oskar von der Luhe, the director of the Kiepenheuer Institute.

“In these layers we see how energy from its interior emerges and then is launched into space, and on some occasions, reaches the Earth,” he added. Named after 17th century Scottish mathematician and astronomer James Gregory, the telescope will be used at night to observe stars.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France’s New Burqa-Friendly Government

Posted by Daniel Greenfield

Francois Hollande may be the first Muslim-elected president of France. With an estimated 93 percent of Muslim voters casting their ballots for Hollande, in a close election, their numbers may have made the difference between victory and defeat. The makeup of France’s new government reflects the debt that Hollande owes to his Muslim voters.

Hollande had said during the campaign that he would uphold the law on the burqa ban, with the caveat that he would apply it in the best ways possible-a statement which leaves plenty of wriggle room for minimizing enforcement. And his appointment of Christiane Taubira as Justice Minister suggests that soon enough Mademoiselle Liberty will don the burqa.

Taubira, a Guyanese radical leftist, who despite being appointed Justice Minister has no law degree, voted against the law banning hijabs in schools- one of only a handful of members of the National Assembly to do so. She did not cast a vote at all on the 2010 burqa ban, but this year she signed on to an MTE petition on behalf of “veiled mothers” which denounced the “endless series of offenses” against Muslims, a list which included the “anti-headscarf law” and “anti-niqab legislation.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Muslim Calls for Murder of German Far-Right Party: Media

BERLIN: A conservative German Muslim is calling for the murder of members of a far-right party that regularly provokes ultra-conservative Muslims using cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), a newspaper reported. According to an article due to appear Monday in the Tageszeitung daily, a conservative Muslim from Bonn in western Germany has appeared in a video on an Islamic forum in which he encouraged “the killing of all activists from the Pro NRW party”. Members of the small extreme-right political party held a campaign event using anti-Islamic caricatures ahead of an election in Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia on May 13. In his appeal, he urged the collection of personal information on Pro NRW members, including their home addresses and work schedules, with the goal of attacking them.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: Islamist Urges ‘Death for Far-Right Party Members’

A German Islamist has called for the murder of members of a far-right party that regularly provokes ultra-conservative Muslims using cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The taz newspaper reported on Monday that an Islamist from Bonn, western Germany, appeared in a video on an Islamic forum in which he encouraged “the killing of all activists from the Pro NRW party”.

Members of the small extreme-right political party held a campaign event using anti-Muslim caricatures ahead of an election in Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia on May 13.

In his appeal, the Islamist urged the collection of personal information on Pro NRW members, including their home addresses and work schedules, with the goal of attacking them.

“We take this message seriously,” an interior ministry spokesman told the newspaper, which said the man had broadcast messages for the “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan”.

Several police were injured during recent clashes between Islamists and Pro NRW members.

The right-wing activists have for several years campaigned against the construction of mosques and have in some protests marched with cartoons of Mohammed that were initially published by a Danish newspaper in 2005, leading to a wave of violence and anger across the Muslim world.

Islam strictly prohibits the depiction of any prophet as blasphemous.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Islamic Culture: A Week to Get to Know it Returns to Rome

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Getting to know the culture of Islam as part of the dialogue between peoples and different religions: in this spirit the ‘Week of Islamic Culture’ will re-open in Rome between May 20 and 28. In the Capitoline Museum, the Museum of Rome, in libraries and in theatres, in the Great Mosque and in other Islamic centres round tables, exhibitions, book presentations, film reviews, contemporary art installations, musical evenings and tastings of Halal cuisine have been scheduled. This year’s featured countries are the nations of the Gulf.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Anti-Politics’ Movement Lands Parma in Election Runoffs

Centre-left perform well elsewhere, League meltdown continues

(ANSA) — Rome, May 21 — The so-called anti-politics Five Star movement of comedian Beppe Grillo pulled off a major coup on Monday when its candidate was elected mayor of Parma in a runoff with the centre-left’s representative.

Federico Pizzarotti prevailed with just over 60% of the votes for the grassroots movement, which also won a number of runoffs in smaller towns after making big gains in the first round of local elections earlier this month.

“Parma goes to Five Stars,” said Grillo, who is opposed to the current party system and has called for Italy to leave the euro, via Twitter.

The outcome is likely to be seen as a major protest vote against Premier Mario Monti’s austerity measures and a sign of frustration with Italy’s political class as a whole. Former Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party, which support Monti’s emergency administration of technocrats, suffered a series of heavy defeats in the first round two weeks ago.

The Third Pole, a coalition of centrist parties that form the other main group supporting Monti, also performed badly.

The centre-left Democratic Party (PD) was the only one of the three big groups backing Monti to see its support hold up.

Aside from Parma, the PD did well, with candidates it backed winning the runoffs in Genoa and L’Aquila and many smaller towns.

“Of the 177 towns voting with under 15,000 inhabitants, we won in 92,” said PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani. “We won, no ifs and no buts”.

However the PD-backed man lost the contest in Palermo to former mayor Leoluca Orlando, who was representing a smaller centre-left party, Italy of Values (IDV).

The Northern League, which until November was allied with the PdL in government, was clobbered by voters again in the wake of a corruption scandal that caused Umberto Bossi to resign as leader last month.

The populist party lost all seven of the towns where it was involved in run-offs.

As in the first round of voting, which affected almost 1,000 Italian cities and towns, turnout was down in the runoffs.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

NATO Declares First Stage of Missile Shield Operational

The 28 NATO allies have moved the first stage of their joint missile shield into place over Russian objections. The allies have also unveiled plans to pool their resources in order to make up for defense budget cuts.

The NATO allies on Sunday announced that the first stage of a European missile defense shield had become operational, despite Russian objections to the project and threats of retaliatory steps.

US President Barack Obama declared during the Western military alliance’s summit meeting in Chicago that the missile shield had an “interim capability.” The operational first stage of the shield consists of a radar facility in Turkey and US ships with anti-missile interceptors in the Mediterranean Sea. The command and control center is located in Ramstein, Germany.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Roma Family Offered Housing Dozen Times

A Roma gypsy family living in the Dutch city of Utrecht has been offered housing at least 13 times over the last 30 years, Dutch daily reports.

The family were evicted at least five times due to disorderly conduct or rent arrears. The housing offered included houses four times, hotels twice, bungalows or a camping seven times, the newspaper says quoting documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Earlier this week, it emerged the municipality had paid 29,000 euros to house the family in various locations. The family are said to have repaid 12,000 euros. The family have had no fixed abode since 2009, when disorderly conduct led to their eviction from a flat.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Sympathy for the Devil: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Anders Breivik

(HT Politblogger) Darling of the Islamophobic right, fellow at the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute and serial liar Ayaan Hirsi Ali was in Berlin last week to receive the Axel Springer Honorary Prize. In her acceptance speech, which was delivered in English, she attacked the “advocates of silence” who censor the truth about Islam and the Muslim extremists who are destroying Europe:

The advocates of silence warn us that publishing these facts or debating them in the media and in parliament will transform the existing resentment towards Muslims into violent behavior. Censorship and silence, we are told, are the best preventive remedies against hatred and violence. I believe that the advocates of silence are wrong, profoundly and dangerously wrong.

Just who these “advocates of silence” are Ayaan Hirsi Ali never says, but presumably they are anyone who rejects hate speech against Muslims or anyone who proposes peaceful dialogue and reconciliation among different faiths. But Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a great deal of understanding for mass murder Anders Behring Breivik, who was forced to kill 77 mostly young people because of the treachery of the “advocates of silence”:

Fourthly and finally, that one man who killed 77 people in Norway, because he fears that Europe will be overrun by Islam, may have cited the work of those who speak and write against political Islam in Europe and America — myself among them — but he does not say in his 1500 page manifesto that it was these people who inspired him to kill. He says very clearly that it was the advocates of silence. Because all outlets to express his views were censored, he says, he had no other choice but to use violence.

Yes, the “advocates of silence” left Breivik with no other choice than to hunt down teenagers systematically. Who wouldn’t be driven to desperate acts by this terrible “leftist” conspiracy? Maybe because Ayaan Hirsi Ali was speaking English her words didn’t provoke outrage among the German listeners. On the contrary, her speech was met with a prolonged standing ovation. The first to leap to his feet and clap was the writer Henryk Broder — cited by Anders Behring Breivik numerous times in his manifesto as an inspiration.

Fortunately for us, however, a voice of reason was in the audience, and his reaction was reported in Cicero:

“Träume ich oder passiert das gerade wirklich?”, fragt raunend Daniel Gerlach, Chefredakteur der Zeitschrift Zenith, der im Publikum sitzt. “So reden rechtsradikale Verschwörungstheoretiker. Das ist der Gipfel, den Massenmord durch Breivik damit zu erklären, dass die islamische Gefahr in Europa von dunklen Mächten verschwiegen worden sei.” Gerlach scheint einer der wenigen Zuhörer im vollbesetzten Festsaal zu sein, die über die Rede entsetzt sind.

(Am I dreaming, or did this really just happen?” asked an astonished Daniel Gerlach, editor-in-chief for the magazine Zenith, who was sitting in the audience.”This is how right-wing conspiracy theory believers talk. This really takes the cake, explaining Breivik’s murderous rampage as the result of mysterious dark powers keeping quiet about the dangers of Islam in Europe.” Gerlach seems to be one of the few listeners in the packed hall who is shocked by the speech.)

In his 1500-page manifesto, Breivik expresses his deep admiration for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, writing that she deserves the Nobel Prize. For the time being, she will have to make do with the Axel Springer Bild-Zeitung Prize.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Norway Separates Church and State

The Norwegian parliament has voted to abolish the state church, a decision which is set to be confirmed in a constitutional amendment on Monday. The vote last Wednesday was backed by parties across the political spectrum and has the effect of severing the connection between Norway and the Church of Norway, making Norway a secular state.

Svein Arne Lindø, chair of the church council, welcomed the decision which is the result of an agreement signed between the government and the church in 2008. “Once the decision to change the constitution is made on Monday, it will be a great day for us. It’s a great day for both church and country,” he told state news agency NRK.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Witness: I Will Not Testify in ‘Twisted Killer’s Show’

Norwegian author and historian Hanne Nabintu Herland has refused a court summons to testify in the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, saying that she would rather be imprisoned than ‘run the gauntlet’.

Hanne Nabintu Herland has stated that she has refused a court summons to testify as a witness in the terror case against Anders Behring Breivik, accusing the killer’s defence counsel of ‘calling in people with so-called media appeal in an attempt to generate sympathy’.

In an article in the Aftenposten daily on Monday, Herland explained her position and confirmed that she has informed the Oslo District Court of her decision.

“If it means that I am dragged to prison, then they can very well turn me into a political martyr. I refuse either way to run the gauntlet in the twisted killer’s show where he and his lawyers call in people with so-called ‘media appeal’ in the attempt to generate the killer sympathy,” Nabintu Herland wrote.

The well-known author and debater argued that the summons against her serves no purpose for the outcome of the trial. “I was not in Norway on July 22nd. My testimony has no bearing on the question of guilt or sanity. I am neither a forensic psychiatrist, lawyer nor terrorism expert,” she argued.

In her article, entitled “Political witch-hunt”, Nabintu Herrland claims that Norway is in the grip of a “crude tug of war” in which those opposed to the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet) are treated with suspicion. “As it is now, it almost such that if you are critical of the Labour Party, then you are automatically put in the same category as a mass murderer,” she claimed.

She continued to argue that political debate is becoming stifled in Norway, going as far as to claim that “we are well on our way to becoming the new East Germany, where intolerant socialists man the front line”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Romania Expects Freeze of EU Aid Payments

(BUCHAREST) — Romania is expecting the European Commission to freeze funding for human resources development programmes amid concerns of irregularities, the government said Monday.

“It is likely that the European Commission will decide to suspend payments in the coming days”, the minister for European Affairs Leonard Orban told AFP after a joint press statement with Prime minister Victor Ponta.

An audit by the European Commission which has not been made public yet is expected to show irregularities in the evaluation and eligibility of the programmes, he added.

If Brussels decides to suspend funding, Romania could lose 100 million euros this year and more than one billion euros next year. “I hope we will be able to improve the situation before the end of this year”, Prime Minister Victor Ponta told reporters.

On February 20, Brussels already halted funding after the Romanian auditing authority found irregularities in the management of the human resources development programme, worth a total of 3.5 billion euros ($4.6 billion).

But payments resumed in April pending further checks.

Romania, one of the poorest EU countries, can use up to 20 billion euros in European aid between 2007 and 2013 in order to catch up with the more advanced bloc members.

So far barely 6.3 percent of this amount has been used, official figures show. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the use of European Union funds should be a priority to stimulate growth in Romania.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Shafilea Ahmed Case: ‘Sister Saw Parents Commit Murder’

The sister of a Cheshire schoolgirl who went missing in 2003 saw their parents kill her, a court has heard.

Iftikhar Ahmed, 52 and Farzana Ahmed, 49, of Warrington, deny the murder of 17-year-old Shafilea, whose remains were found in Cumbria in February 2004.

At the start of their trial at Chester Crown Court, the jury heard Alesha Ahmed witnessed the killing.

The prosecution allege Mr and Mrs Ahmed killed their daughter because she refused to obey them.

Andrew Edis QC said the couple believed Shafilea’s conduct was bringing shame on the family.

Opening the case against them, he said: “The defendants, having spent the best part of 12 months trying to really crush her, realised they were never going to be able to succeed and finally killed her because her conduct dishonoured the family, bringing shame on them.”

He said they embarked on a “campaign of domestic violence to force her to conform”.

Mr Edis said: “The prosecution alleges that she (Shafilea) was murdered by the two defendants, her parents, at the family home on the night of September 11/12, September 2003. She was 17 years old.”

He said the case had taken a “very long time” to be brought to trial because it was not until August 2010 that a witness to the crime came forward.

“This witness is Alesha Ahmed, Shafilea’s younger sister,” he said.

The court heard how Alesha had kept quiet for seven years and only told police after she was arrested for taking part in a robbery at her parents’ home in Liverpool Road, Warrington.

Mr Edis said Alesha witnessed the killing of her sister by their parents “acting together”.

“This evidence was the final piece of the puzzle which the police had been trying to solve for many years.”

The court was told that Shafilea had suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her parents in the year before her disappearance.

Mr Edis said: “She was a thoroughly Westernised young British girl of Pakistani origin. Her parents had standards which she was reluctant to follow.”

The court heard that the defendants put their daughter under “intense pressure” and were seeking to control her.

“She was unwilling to do this and she resisted,” he said.

Shafilea disappeared from the family home in Great Sankey, Warrington, in September 2003.

Her body was found by workmen on the banks of the River Kent, near Kendal, six months later.

The trial continues.

           — Hat tip: Seneca III[Return to headlines]

Suu Kyi to Give Nobel Lecture During Norway Visit

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will finally get a chance to deliver her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, nearly 21 years after winning the prestigious award. Suu Kyi is set to deliver her speech in Oslo’s City Hall on June 16, during a visit to Norway, Nobel Peace Institute spokeswoman Sigrid Langebrekke told The Associated Press on Monday.

After becoming leader of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement, Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for 15 of the following 22 years of military rule. Her confinement kept her from attending the ceremony for the 1991 peace prize.

Norway’s government said Suu Kyi also will meet Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg during her June 15-18 visit. She also is expected to visit Britain during her first travels abroad since 1988, when she returned to Myanmar to care for her ailing mother. She received her first passport in 24 years earlier this month.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden Drifting From ‘Swedish Model’: Report

Sweden’s historically generous social safety net isn’t as robust as it once was, according to a new report, which reveals Sweden has fallen below the average for many other developed countries when it comes to various types of social insurance.

In 2005, Sweden had the second most generous unemployment insurance scheme in the world, but according to a new report the income replacement benefits for out of work Swedes ranks below the OECD average. And for the first time since 1952, the duration of Sweden’s sickness insurance benefits, 52 weeks, is below the OECD average.

The report, commissioned through a parliamentary inquiry into Sweden’s social insurance system, indicates that while the most drastic decline in Sweden’s welfare system has occurred in the country’s unemployment insurance schemes, other welfare benefits are also less generous than in the past when compared to other developed countries the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

Joakim Palme, an author of the report, told the paper that Sweden was in the process of abandoning the famed “Swedish model”, marked by generous social insurance benefits for all citizens.

“The Swedish model was built on the idea that the majority of the population gets something for their tax money. We have come to a breaking point when not even the average Swede gets adequate income protection from general social insurance schemes,” he told SvD.

“It’s not just the high income earners who are dependent on supplementary health insurance.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Court: Anti-Islam Group Must be Protected

The Federal Court says an anti-Islam group has the right to give out leaflets from an information booth if it wants — and the local authorities must protect them. Fribourg Council banned the group — The Movement Against the Islamization of Switzerland — from setting up an information booth Place Georges-Python during the anti-minaret campaign in 2009.

It said it refused to give permission because of a fear that violence and unrest would break out as a result, provoking a legal challenge. The Federal Court upheld the group’s complaint that the authorities had impinged on its freedom of expression as well as on freedom of information, newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported.

The court said the local authorities should instead have taken additional measures to safeguard against such an event. In particular, the court said that the authorities could have drafted more police in to safeguard the site.

Although public law does grant local authorities powers to ban demonstrations from public spaces, the court confirmed that they may not do so simply because they disapprove of the ideas being communicated.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Talent Abounds in Switzerland, Says OECD

A new study by the OECD has found that Switzerland has a very high proportion of the world’s most sought-after workforce. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has found that of the 6.2 million people judged as having the most sought-after skills in the world, some 200,000 live in Switzerland, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.

The majority of those living in Switzerland are from the expat community, who are attracted, together with their families, to the country’s high quality of life as well as to top salaries.

A recent study conducted in Basel also showed that expats earn more than their Swiss counterparts for the same work, Tages Anzeiger reported. The study found that the Swiss were happy with their salaries, but that the expats had made acceptance of the overseas job conditional on a higher salary.

The numbers of expats in Switzerland are causing the cost of living to rise. This is leading to concerns that locals are being priced out in cities like Zug, where rents have become prohibitively high due to the amount of accommodation occupied by employees of the foreign companies registered there.

The study also found that foreigners are staying longer in Switzerland on average than previously.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Islam and the Issue of Exploiting Minors

By Osman Mirghani

Over the past few days, Britain has been preoccupied with the prosecution and imprisonment of nine Muslim men (eight Pakistanis and one Afghani) on charges of being part of a child sex exploitation ring. Much has been said about the religious and ethnic background of the defendants, not to mention their victims, who were all white minors suffering from social problems, to the point that all issues became tangled up and intertwined; criminal considerations, religious and ethnic backgrounds and racial sensitivities. The result was heated discussions that mostly inclined towards unfair generalization, the promotion of a stereotyped image of Islam and false accusations against it. Islam is a religion that is embraced by over 1.5 billion Muslims around the globe, approximately 2.8 million of whom live in Britain. Islam is Britain’s second largest religion, and Muslims make up nearly 5 percent of the country’s population. Of course, there were some rational and balanced discussions of this case; however this all went out the window amidst the clamorous voices that highlighted the religious and racial features of a purely criminal case in which the defendants are a small handful of people who represent only themselves and their own deviant behaviour.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: London Gang Stabs Football Fan to Death After Chelsea FC Win Champions League — and Father is Knifed as He Runs to Help

A father threw himself on top of his son in a desperate bid to shield him from a knife-wielding gang who stabbed him to death in the street. Luke Fitzpatrick, 25, was murdered after a group of men armed with bats and knives dragged him out of a north London pub on Saturday night. Friends and relatives of the roofer told today how his father, Bernard, was stabbed several times while trying to protect him from his attackers. Mr Fitzpatrick’s attackers were described as acting like “a pack of wolves” by storming into the the pub near his home in Dollis Hill. Police said the killing followed an argument in the pub though some witnesses said it ocurred after a dispute in a shop opposite. Three people were arrested, including two 17-year-old men who still being questioned in custody today.

The victim’s best friend, Ricci Whiteside, 25, who was with him all evening said: “There was an argument in the shop opposite the pub at half-time. Luke wasn’t anything to do with it, but we all heard that something had gone on. A group of black guys arrived at the door of the pub with bats and knives and they were looking for someone who had been outside the shop earlier. People were throwing chairs at the door to try and stop them from coming in. There was a lot of confusion. They got Luke and dragged him outside. They were pulling him up the road. His dad was running after them. But by the time he got to Luke he was already on the floor. Bernie threw himself on top of Luke. He was trying to protect him, but it was too late.”

Tess Fitzpatrick, Bernard Fitzpatrick’s sister, said: “The men who came for Luke were like a pack of wolves. My brother ran after them as they were dragging Luke up the street.

“He covered him with his body, but they had already stabbed Luke all over.” Ms Fitzpatrick said she had spent yesterday at the bedside of her brother, 56, who is believed to have been stabbed four times. He suffered massive internal injuries after one of the stab wounds punctured his liver.

Last night more than 100 friends and family gathered at the crossroads outside The Ox and Gate Pub on Oxgate Lane, where Luke was watching the Champions League final prior to the attack. Many left tributes and flowers. One card read: “Luke, you was a true gent. I’ll never forget you.” Friends and family told described Luke, who was single, as a big-hearted, energetic hard-worker, who was well known in the community. Luke’s mother Constance, 56, was in Majorca with her other son Ryan, 21 on Saturday night. She flew back to London yesterday morning. A relative at their home, just metres from the pub said last night: “She has just come back and she is grieving. She is terribly upset.” A forensic tent was in place this morning at the murder scene, which remained cordoned off. Detective Chief Inspector Tim Duffield said: “We urgently need to hear from anyone who was in or near the Ox and Gate pub around 11.30pm that evening.” Any witnesses should call the incident room on 020 8358 0400 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Nadine Dorries MP: The Rochdale Girls Were Let Down by the Very Institutions Which Should Have Cared for Them

Sayeeda Warsi doesn’t often catch a fair wind in the British media. That’s not really a surprise; very few female politicians do once they hold a position or take a view. I have always had a great deal of respect for Sayeeda. She will, if she gets the remotest chance, say it just as it is. This week, in an interview in the Evening Standard, she made the following comment:

“There is a small minority of Pakistani men who believe that white girls are fair game and we have to be prepared to say that. You can only start solving a problem if you acknowledge it first… This small minority who see women as second class citizens, and white women probably as third class citizens, are to be spoken out against.”

Last week, in the Sun newspaper, I wrote about the issue of the gang of nine Asian men who had been imprisoned at Liverpool Crown Court for the grooming, sexually abusing and raping of underage girls. I accepted the offer to write the article as I felt very strongly that the girls who had been subjected to the rape and sexual abuse were being let down by the authorities in whom they had attempted to place their trust, and that in order for any good to come out of what had happened, everyone needs to be fully aware of exactly what is happening.


When the Rochdale girls originally told people that they were being abused, there was no sense of urgency to protect them or investigate and prosecute the offenders. They were ignored, and for some, the abuse continued. The accusations are that the police didn’t act for fear of being called racist and the Crown Prosecution Service decided that abused young girls would not be ‘credible’ as witnesses. Failed by a dysfunctional family life and social services, they were then failed again by the police. That these girls were repetitively failed in such a miserable, petty-bureaucratic way is utterly heartbreaking.

Following the ruling, Michael Gove has asked Sue Berelowitz, the Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England, to produce recommendations on how to protect young girls in care from being preyed upon by men for sex. Unfortunately, Berelowitz has herself been less than forthcoming in accepting the fact that a problem in northern towns exists with regard to the cultural attitudes of some young Pakistani men towards young white girls. This is why Sayeeda’s interview was so important. Until Berelowitz accepts that fact, which she has yet to do publicly, her report to Michael Gove may not have provided recommendations which would be useful or creative in dealing with this very specific problem. Sayeeda has laid the ground in terms of expectations for future action and has replaced the politically correct barrier for one of common sense. Having been let down by family, social services, the police and the CPS, the person now bravely speaking out for such girls, with a voice which carries weight and influence, is that of a Muslim woman, and there is a certain justice in that.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Parents ‘Murdered Daughter for Bringing Shame on Family’

Shafilea, 17, had resisted plans for an arranged marriage and tried to go on dates with young men. Her Pakistani-born parents, Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, and Farzana, 49, had spent a year trying to “crush” their daughter’s will. When on September 11, 2003 the couple realised they would never succeed they murdered her at the family home in Warrington, Cheshire.

Andrew Edis, QC, prosecuting, told a jury at Chester Crown Court: “They finally killed her because she had dishonoured the family and brought shame on them. “They had despaired of her ever becoming a daughter they could ever be proud of”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Parents ‘Murdered Their Westernised Teenage Daughter in Front of Her Sister Because They Thought She Was Bringing Shame on the Family’

Shafilea Ahmed’s decomposed remains were found in February 2004 Her parents Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed are accused of killing her in September 2003 Their daughter Alesha is said to have witnessed the killing and will give evidence against her parents Police placed listening device in the family’s home in November 2003 and heard them telling their children ‘not to say anything’ at school Victim ‘drank bleach after being forced to visit Pakistan for to meet future husband in arranged marriage’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Slow Police Response Time for Hammer Attack on Dance Class Father

A father told today how a fellow parent ambushed him with a claw hammer as he was picking up his daughters from a dance class — and that police took more than 24 hours to respond. Paul Dilworth feared he was going to die as he tried to shield himself from the blows the stranger aimed at his head. His ordeal — which left him with a badly injured hand — began as he chatted to his sister-in-law outside Sanders Draper School in Hornchurch, when a car with a mother and father inside nudged him. Mr Dilworth, 43, said: “The lady then walked past without an apology, so I sarcastically said ‘excuse me’. Her partner shouted a torrent of abuse at me, then drove the car into my leg.” Shaken but uninjured, Mr Dilworth left and returned three hours later to collect his seven-year-old twins, Elise and Tabitha. But he said the other father and a friend were lying in wait armed with a foot-long claw hammer.

Mr Dilworth, from Collier Row, said: “They got out of a van and started walking quickly towards me, and he said ‘Do you remember me, pal?’ I couldn’t believe what was happening. I just thought, ‘I’m going to die’.” The man allegedly launched three swings at Mr Dilworth’s head, which he protected with his hands, and punched him in the jaw. Mr Dilworth said he wanted to protect his head because of brain injuries suffered in a motorbike accident in 1999. He said: “If one of those [blows] had struck me in the head, I would be dead. I was scared and when I saw the van, the only thing I could think of was to start reciting the name of the company on the side and registration plate — I was amazed they were so stupid.”

Mr Dilworth rang 999 but after waiting an hour and half he drove himself to Queen’s Hospital in Romford, where doctors treated his hand. Detectives finally spoke to Mr Dilworth last Monday, more than a day after the attack. Mr Dilworth said: “The police did apologise but I can’t believe they’re letting lunatics run round hitting people with hammers. It should be a very easy job to find them, I’ve got the company on Google Maps.” A spokesman for Havering police said: “If any member of the public is unhappy with the response to an incident then they are free to make an official complaint.” No arrests have been made.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Extraordinary Karma of Gordon Brown

Does Suzi Leather have good karma? By which I don’t mean, in the wishy-washy Western sense, “Is she a good person?” (I suspect we all have our views on that). I mean something that’s rather more important: namely, how long will her ideology survive? Karma, as any good Buddhist will tell you, is defined as the ripples our actions leave in the material world, which can be felt for months — even years — after we die. And I’m starting to think it’s a rather useful way of analysing politics. For example, Dame Suzi’s most notorious accomplishment, before resigning as head of the Charity Commission last week, was to question the charitable status of independent schools, and force them to pass nebulous tests of “public benefit” (against the traditional, and rather better, idea that education of any kind is a noble and charitable endeavour). If that principle is abandoned by her replacement, Dame Suzi’s imprint on history will be relatively modest. If it is retained — if she has put enough of a stamp on the Commission that any new regime will be Continuity Leatherism — her karma will remain strong even in retirement, as her influence continues to be felt.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Nikolic New President of Serbia, Tadic Acknowledges Defeat

(AGI) Belgrade — Conservative candidate Tomislav Nikolic has been unexpectedly elected as the new president of Serbia. His rival, outgoing president Boris Tadic acknowledged his defeat.

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

Serbian Election: The End of the Beginning

by Srdja Trifkovic

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning, quipped Churchill in November 1942, following Montgomery’s modest success at El Alamein. The same applies to Tomislav Nikolić’s victory in the second round of Serbia’s presidential election last Sunday.

The defeat of Boris Tadić—amply and inappropriately assisted in the final stages of his campaign by the unspeakable, greasy-haired, gay-pride-marching U..S. ambassadress Mary Worlick—is certainly not the end of the global-imperial lethal grip on Serbia. It is to be hoped that is heralds the beginning of its end, but it certainly is the end of the “pro-Western” regime’s four-year-long exercise in self-abasement abroad and ruthless robbery at home.

The robbery included the regime’s theft of some hundreds of thousands of opposition votes following the parliamentary election on May 6. For reasons too technically complex to elucidate here—the seedy details are available to the curious (provided they are not faint of heart)—the ruling coalition of thieves and traitors seems poised to form the next government of this long-suffering land, regardless of Sunday’s presidential race upset. That upset was only made possible by the fact that in a two-candidate race it is much, much harder to engineer the wholesale robbery (nearing 7 percent of all votes cast) that we have witnessed in the multi-party ballot on May 6.

The yawning gap between Serbia’s popular will and Belgrade’s declared political outcome was brazenly glossed over in the Western media two weeks ago, however. The Leninist dictum that the morality of an act depends on the progressive status of its perpetrator still applies. In that spirit, Mr. Nikolić’s “ultranationalist” credentials of yore are routinely invoked as his defining trait of today. The comparison is somewhat strained, but just imagine our mainstream media insisting that a dubiously reconstructed “Anti-White, Foreign-Born Radical Leftist” was elected President in November 2008.

In media shorthand the accurate description of President-elect Nikolić would be “a pro-EU moderate nationalist.” In reality it is hard to be both, of course, but many decent Europeans are trying to square the circle, from Scotland and Catalonia to Poland and Slovakia…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Muslim Brotherhood Attempting to Disenfranchise Egyptian Christian Voters

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — The Egyptian presidential election campaigns are coming to an end, with voting slated for May 23 and 24. Ruthless smear tactics have been used by the different candidates to disqualify each other, most of these targeting candidates who advocate a civilian state. An intensive psychological war is being waged against the Christian voters to disenfranchise them by “spreading lies around their preferred candidates and using tricks to weaken their vote by dividing it,” says Coptic activist Waguih Jacob.

Because of their considerable numbers, the Copts have been approached by nearly all candidates for their support, some even promising to make one of the presidential deputies a Copt. According to the Coptic Church’s registry of births and deaths, its followers are between 15-17 million in a total Egyptian population of 82-85 millions. “They make a big voting block which can tip the scales towards a particular candidate,” says Dr. Emad Gad, vice-director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and an elected member of parliament. “Their vote would be particularly effective in a run-off, if no candidate scores more than 50 percent in the first round.”

Coptic organizations conducted several polls which consistently showed that although Coptic votes are split, they are inclined to vote for Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak’s civil aviation minister and his last prime minister, and Amr Moussa, former Egyptian foreign minister and former Arab League chief, as well as the Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi. These three candidates advocate a civilian state. Ahmad Shafik is favored with the Copts because of his long-standing friendship with the late Pope Shenouda, whom Shafik calls his “Big Brother.”

Though Shafik and Moussa are from the previous regime, their supporters believe they have administration experience and would bring stability to the country.

The Coptic Church issued a statement saying “the Church stands at an equal distance from all candidates and does not support any candidate. It prays for Egypt to get a good president who supports the civilian state, the law and equal citizenship rights.”

A poll conducted on May 19 showed 70% of Copts favor Shafik, 16% Amr Moussa and 13% Hamdeen Sabahi. “In other words, Copts will not vote for any Islamist presidential candidate,” said Dr. Naguib Gabriel, president of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization, which conducted the poll. The poll also showed that Copts were not concerned about candidates who were in the former Mubarak regime.

In an effort to sway the Coptic vote, the semi-official Al-Ahram daily published on May 18 a story saying a military court has acquitted the three soldiers charged with killing protesters during the Maspero Massacre of October 9, 2011, which claimed the lives of 26 and wounding 329 Copts. The Court emphasized in its ruling that the soldiers were in a legitimate case of self-defense, reported the newspaper. All other media copied this news.

This news was denied by Coptic attorney Nabil Gabriel, one of the lawyers for the Maspero victims. He said that it was a shame on Al-Ahram newspaper to publish false news and cause pain to the Copts for political purposes. “The reason behind publishing this completely false news, in my opinion, is to set Copts against the military and in the end sway the Copts away from voting for Shafik, who has a military background.” Gabriel said the Maspero case has been postponed until May 31.

Activist Mark Ebeid believes that the newly founded General Coptic Organization, with its head Dr. Sherif Doss, who is a member of the election campaign of Abou el Fetouh, the former deputy counselor of the Muslim Brotherhood, was planted to recruit Coptic votes for el Fetouh. “Several disputes took place between him and other Coptic organizations, who suspected that by using the name of his Coptic organization he was misleading Copts to vote for Abou el Fetouh,” said Ebeid.

Dr. William Wissa, a Coptic writer, said that many Copts believed at first that Abou el Fetouh was a liberal and were inclined to vote for him, until his role in creating the “Islamic Jamaa” groups, which carried out terror attacks against Egyptians in general and Copts in particular and killed over 1000 persons in the 1970s, was exposed. He said the Copts will definitely not give their votes to any Islamist candidate.

To alienate Copts from the former regime candidates, newspapers articles have published stories about the Copts who were murdered by the Mubarak regime and its former members, and SMS messages have been sent to Copts, saying “I hope that you choose to vote for Dr. Mohamed Morsi [Muslim Brotherhood candidate] but if you are not convinced then chose another one, but remember the martyrs if you are thinking of voting for Moussa or Shafik.”

In another example, Waguih Jacob said the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to co-opt the Coptic vote by secretly supporting a completely unknown Coptic presidential candidate named Nageh Meligy. Mr, Meligy, a post office director, obtained as required 30 signatures of Members of Parliament, but none were Coptic members. He refused to disclose their names, so as not to “cause them embarrassment with the political parties they represent,” reported the State news agency MENA. Meligy advocated a modern civilian state. “The Copts saw through this trick,” said Jacob, “and Meligy disappeared suddenly from the scene.”

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

World’s Tallest Mega-Mosque Being Built in Algeria

A big religious feeling deserves a big house of worship. Algeria is set to get its own mega-mosque with the tallest minaret in the world. Almost as tall as the Eiffel Tower, the $1.3-billion mosque will stand on 20 hectares of land and will be capable of hosting 120,000 worshippers within its prayer room. Its minaret will soar 270 meters high. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said he wanted to “leave his mark” and enter history with this epic building. The construction is currently underway in the city of Algiers, as the foundations began to be laid on Sunday. The building is due to be completed in 2015. China State Construction Engineering Corporation will build the mega-mosque, Al Arabiya reports. It will also feature a library containing one million books and manuscripts, a museum and a research center. The new mosque will be one of the world’s largest. Only those in Saudi Arabia’s Mecca and Medina, one in Iran’s Mashhad and one in Bhopal, India are capable of welcoming more worshippers. One of Europe’s biggest mosques is situated in Grozny, Russia’s Chechen Republic. The world’s highest mosque resides on the 158th floor of the tallest manmade structure — the 830-meter Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The world’s tallest mosque is currently the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. Its minaret is 210 meters tall. The Prophet’s Mosque in the city of Medina is 105 meters high.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Palestinian Paralympians Visit Jerusalem Holy Site

Gazan athletes take in al-Aqsa Mosque ahead of Games after Israel grants exit permits applied for by British consulate

In al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, Moussa Qadoom sank to the floor and wept into the gold and red carpet. As swallows swooped between the white marble columns of the vast edifice, the athletics coach from Gaza City surrendered to the emotion of the moment. “I’m 31 years old, and I have only ever seen this place in newspapers and on television,” he said a few minutes later. “I never imagined in my whole life that I would come and pray in al-Aqsa.” The distance between Gaza City and Jerusalem is less than 50 miles, but one that is near-impossible for most Palestinians in the tiny enclave to undertake. But Qadoom was one of nine athletes and coaches — four of whom will compete in the Paralympics in London this summer — to visit the holy site on Monday, courtesy of the British consulate in Jerusalem to mark 100 days to the start of the Games.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Cyprus: Israel Denies Plan to Send Troops to Island

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, MAY 21 — Israel today denied the information reported by the Turkish press regarding the alleged existence of a plan to send large numbers of Israeli troops to the southern sector of Cyprus, to protect Turkey’s energy interests in an area that appears to hold much natural gas.

“This information” the Israeli foreign ministry wrote in a statement, “is not based on reality.” The ministry added that Israel has never sent its troops abroad. The news was published today by a Cypriot newspaper, the Famagusta Gazette.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Iran Holds the First International Congress on Islamic Humanities

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Experts from India, Malaysia, Palestine, Pakistan, Lebanon and Turkey discussed approaches to Islamic Humanities in the world of Islam and the connections between humanities and natural sciences during the one-day event. Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani directed the congress held at the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) International Conference Hall on Sunday. ‘Meaning, nature and features of Islamic humanities,’ ‘philosophy and methodology of Islamic humanities,’ ‘ideas, approaches and theories raised in Islamic humanities,’ and ‘issues and barriers to making Islamic humanities functional’ were among the topics discussed at the congress.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Iranian Calls for ‘Islamic Awakening’ To Destroy Israel

An Iranian official called this week for an ‘Islamic Awakening’ movement to help Palestinian Authority Arabs “demolish the Zionist regime”, the IRNA news agency reported.

The comments were made at a conference in Tehran in honor of Nakba Day — the day of catastrophe — which is what the Arabs call the English date of May 15, when the State of Israel was re-established with a declaration of independence in 1948.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Tense Calm in Beirut After Clashes in the Night

Two dead in fighting between pro and anti-Assad factions

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT — Tension-fuelled calm has descended today on the west of Beirut, which was the setting last night for clashes between Lebanese supporters and opponents of the Syrian President, Bashar Al Assad, in which two people were killed. The fighting followed the killing yesterday in the north of Lebanon of a Sunni sheikh known for his anti-Assad rhetoric. A number of schools in the Lebanese capital remain closed today, while the funeral will be held later for Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahed, who was killed at an army checkpoint in the province of Akkar, along with his aide, Mohammad Hussein Merheb, as the two travelled to a protest by the Al Mustaqbal (Future) movement with an anti-Syrian stance.

Lebanon’s leading political forces have appealed for calm to avoid the country, the setting for a civil war that lasted from 1975 to 1990, being sucked back into the spiral of violence affecting Syria, which continues to wield significant influence over the country. “Lebanon at boiling point after the killing of the sheikh,” is the front-page headline in today’s English language newspaper Daily Star, while the Francophone paper L’Orient le Jour leads with “Lebanon dragged by force into Syrian storm”.

The head of the armed forces in the country, General Jean Qahwaji, expressed his sorrow for the killing of the Sunni sheikh, and said that his troops were committed to ending the sedition, while the judge Saqr Saqr, a commissioner at Lebanon’s military tribunal, has announced the arrest of 3 officials and 19 soldiers as part of the investigation opened into the deaths of Abdul Wahed and Merheb. Last night’s clashes in the Tariq al Jedideh area of Beirut pitted militants from Al Mustaqbal, who oppose the Syrian regime, against those from Al Tayyar al-Arabi, also a Sunni movement but one that backs President Assad. A dozen people died last week in clashes in the city of Tripoli, in the north of Lebanon, between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime.(

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Beirut Gunbattles Leave 2 Dead, Syria Spillover Feared

At least two people are killed in overnight clashes in the Lebanese capital Beirut during clashes between pro- and anti-Syrian regime groups

Street battles between pro- and anti-Syrian groups in Beirut overnight left two people dead, a security official said Monday, sparking fears the conflict in Syria is spilling across the border into Lebanon. “During the night, groups of young men cut off the road in the Tareek el-Jdideh district and street battles followed,” the official said, requesting anonymity.

“Two people were killed and 18 were wounded,” he said, adding that machineguns had been fired and that the fighting had raged until about 3.00 am (2400 GMT). An office housing a small pro-Syrian party was torched during the clashes and the facade of the building was riddled with bullets, said an AFP correspondent. Several motorcycles and cars parked on the street below were burned. The situation in the mainly Sunni district of west Beirut had returned to calm Monday morning and students could be seen heading on foot to the nearby Arab University. The fighting erupted after reports emerged that army troops had shot dead an anti-Syria Sunni cleric when his convoy failed to stop at a checkpoint in north Lebanon on Sunday.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Suicide Bombing Hits Yemeni Military Parade Rehearsal

A suicide bombing in the Yemeni capital on Monday claimed the lives of many soldiers. The attack comes as the country’s army tries to oust Islamist militants from strongholds in the south of the country.

Security officials in Yemen said a suicide bomber killed a large number of soldiers and wounded many others on Monday at an army parade rehearsal in the center of the capital, Sana’a.

Reports say more than 60 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in the attack. An official said the bomber, dressed in military uniform, blew himself up in the midst of a battalion rehearsing for a parade to mark the 22nd anniversary of the unification of north and south Yemen.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Syria: Al-Qaeda Aligned Group Claims Northeast Bombing

Damascus, 21 May (AKI) — A terrorist group aligned with Al-Qaeda on Monday claimed the deadly bombing in the northeast Syrian city of Deir Ezzor at the weekend in which at least nine people died.

“This dictatorial regime is extending its group to all of the provinces and showing its hatred of the country’s villages and cities,” said a message from the ‘Salvation Front’ group posted to the Internet.

“Deir Ezzor is one of these cities which have been assaulted and bombed,” said the message.

“The soldiers of the Salvation Front have punished the regime’s dogs by striking at the head of serpent.

On Saturday night our soldiers attacked one of the city’s security headquarters. The suicide car bomber Abu Mouawiya launched himself against one of the security services’ headquarters, killing dozens of regime stooges,” the message continued.

The blast late Saturday in Deir Ezzor was the first since the rebellion against the authoritarian rule of president Bashar al-Assad broke out in March last year. Syrian state TV reported that nine people were killed and 100 injured in the bombing.

There was no immediate independent verification of the blast as al-Assad has limited journalist access to the strife-wracked country.The attack came a day after Syrian troops foiled a would-be car bombing in the same city, which is about 110 kilometers from the Iraqi border.

An opposition group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the blast was near military intelligence offices and was followed by heavy gunfire.

The group said the bomb went off on a street where a military hospital and air force intelligence offices are also located.

According to the Observatory, more than 12,000 people have been killed in Syria since the revolt broke out in March last year, most of them civilians.

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

US Leads Major War Drill in Jordan — Israel Not Invited

The United States is leading what it described as the “largest military exercises in the Middle East in 10 years” in Jordan on Tuesday. Eager Lion 2012 “is the largest exercise held in the region in the past ten years,” Major General Ken Tovo, head of the US Special Operations Forces, told reporters in Amman.

“Yesterday we began to apply the skills that we have developed over the last weeks in an irregular warfare scenario … They will last for approximately the coming two weeks,” he added. “The message that I want to send through this exercise is that we have developed the right partners throughout the region and across the world … insuring that we have the ability to … meet challenges that are coming to our nations,” Tovo said.

Israel — despite having extensive security agreements with Jordan — was not invited to participate in the exercises. Several Arab nations participating in the drill are still formally at war with the Jewish state.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US Officially Arming Extremists in Syria

Recently reported in “Brookings Announces Next Move in Syria: War,” it was stated that “by the US policy think-tank Brookings Institution’s own admission, the Kofi Annan six-point peace plan in Syria was merely a ploy to buy time to reorganize NATO’s ineffective terrorist proxies and provide them the pretext necessary for establishing NATO protected safe havens from which to carry out their terrorism from.” It was also examined in detail, how in 2007, US, Saudi, and Israeli officials admittedthey were creating a militant front of extremists for the sole purpose of causing the destabilization of Syria we see today, and ultimately overthrowing the Syrian government. It was noted how these extremist militants had direct ties to Al Qaeda.

Now it is fully admitted that weapons, cash, and logistical support is indeed being provided to terrorist forces in Syria by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Gulf States. This, despite a current UN ceasefire the West has continuously berated the Syrian government for violating, indicates that indeed reorganizing, rearming, and redeploying NATO’s terrorist proxies is complete, and another round of destructive violence has begun.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Warnings From Capitol Hill That Iran and Its Terror Proxy, Hizbullah, May be Planning 9/11 Scale Attacks on the United States

In March, House Homeland Security Committee chief Peter King voiced the belief that there may be hundreds, if not thousands, of Hizbullah operatives inside the United States, capable of launching a major attack on US soil. Now, warnings from lawmakers on Capitol Hill suggest that Iran and its terror proxy, Hizbullah, may have the ability of staging an attack on New York City comparable to the terror that was unleashed on the World Trade Centers on 9/11.

According to one NYPD official, there have been at least five instances of what he called “hostile reconnaissance” against New York City by Iranian agents. “They see that attacking New York or threatening the facilities in New York will destabilize the financial markets and automatically harm the U.S. economy,” former CIA agent Reza Kahlili told CBN News.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Yemen: Almost 100 Die in Suicide Blast

Sanaa, 21 May (AKI) — A suicide attack in the Yemeni capital Sanaa killed at least 96 people and 300 injured on Monday when a bomber disguised as a soldier blew himself up at a military parade rehearsal, according to news reports.

The attacker detonated the bomb when he was mingling among students and security forces who were practising for the parade to mark Yemen’s national day holiday on Tuesday, the al-Arabiya news channel reported.

Yemen’s security agency blamed Al-Qaeda for the attack.

Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen is considered one of the terror group’s most dangerous. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) was formed in January 2009 by a merger between two regional offshoots of the international Islamist militant network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

The United States is aiding Yemen’s fight against militants with drone attacks. Two such attacks on Tuesday killed eight civilians in the southern part of Yemen on Tuesday, three Yemeni security officials said in reports.

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

Yemen: Soldier Turns Bomber, Killing 96

A YEMENI soldier packing explosives under his uniform blew himself up in the middle of an army battalion in Sanaa yesterday, killing 96 troops.

The suicide attack wounded a further 300 and was the deadliest in the country’s capital since newly-elected President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi pledged to oust al-Qaida militants from Yemen’s mostly lawless and restive southern and eastern provinces. Medics, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the casualties were being treated in seven hospitals across Sanaa. All the dead and injured were soldiers, they added. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the massive blast which according to witnesses echoed loudly across the city, causing panic among residents. Yemeni police officer Colonel Abdul Hamid Bajjash, in charge of security at the blast area, said the attack “bears the hallmark of al-Qaida”.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Artists Lead Thousands Against Putin in Moscow

Dozens of Russian artists with brooms in hand carted their most expressive works across the boulevards of Moscow on Saturday in a show of exasperation at Vladimir Putin’s return to a third Kremlin term.

Several thousand Muscovites joined them in a second such intellectual stroll in a week. More than 10,000 had supported a group of writers last weekend on a quiet walk along the very same streets.

“I got a call from the authorities” with a request to cut the walk short, said organiser and former Sakharov Museum director Yury Samodurov. “But I refused,” he told the Interfax news agency.

Russia’s nascent protest movement is busy seeking new strategies to keep its relevance under Putin’s new term while at the same time avoiding the violent confrontations with police that have estranged them from some supporters.

Police have been making dozens of brief daily detentions for most of the past week as they disperse young protesters from public square and other gathering places they had been trying to use for Occupy-style protests.

Some protest leaders such as the whistleblower Alexei Navalny are completing 15-day jail terms while the Kremlin-controlled parliament is planning to radically raise fines for shows of civil disobedience and unapproved rallies.

About 20 of Moscow’s more well-known contemporary artists said Saturday they wanted to keep testing the limits of the authorities’ willingness to accept free expression under Putin by rolling their works onto the streets.

Samodurov said it gave artists a chance to “express visually and not in words their anger at today’s developments.” But he was also careful not to call it a protest against Putin since this would turn their walk political — which under Russian law would require city approval.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Al-Qaeda Could ‘Re-Emerge in Afghanistan After NATO Withdrawal’

A senior US general also warned that Nato forces would face combat with the Taliban until the very last day of the alliance mission in Afghanistan. The downbeat assessments of Afghanistan and its prospects emerged even as Nato leaders met at a summit in Chicago and outlined plans to withdraw their forces by the end of 2014. President Barack Obama declared that the Afghan war was now “effectively over”, while David Cameron said the handover plan was “on track and on target”.

However, despite their optimistic appraisal, Nato officials conceded the possibility of al-Qaeda and other groups returning after the West’s withdrawal. “It is unrealistic to assume that Afghanistan is going to be completely secure and there is no possibility of a terrorist threat reemerging,” said a senior British official.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Hollande Confirms Early Afghan Pull-Out

French President Francois Hollande said on Sunday he had reached agreement with his NATO allies over his decision to withdraw French troops early from Afghanistan, saying they had understood his position.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Indonesian Islamists, Joined by Women and Children, Attack (Yet Again) Bekasi Christians

The Hkbp Filadelfia Protestant community again targeted by extremists during Sunday services. At least 400 people surrounded the area and throwing sewage, used oil and eggs on the congregation. Christian leader: not even the police can protect us from attack.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — A mob of Islamic extremists struck again the prayer house of the Hkbp Filadelfia Protestant community (Protestant Christian Batak Church) in Bekasi, a suburb of Jakarta (West Java), despite the presence of the police deployed to defend Christian worship. The assault took place yesterday morning, while the faithful gathered for Sunday celebrations. On May 17, coinciding with the feast of the Ascension of Jesus, the place of worship was attacked, during which the fundamentalists hurled stones and bags full of urine against the faithful (cf. AsiaNews 18/05 / 2012 Muslim extremists throw stones and urine at Bekasi Christians).

Local witnesses report that yesterday — on the arrival of the Faithful — a group of extremists blocked access to the “Church Street “, forcing people to abandon their motorcycles and cover the last part of the journey to the place of worship on foot . The police were deployed around the perimeter of the building, to allow the smooth running of the function, but a crowd of about 400 extremists “surrounded” the area and started to rant against members of religious minority.

Among the fundamentalist group there were not only men but also women and children. After the threats came blows. The crowd began to throw water, sewage, used oil, mud, rotten eggs, sticks and other blunt objects. A “brutal” attack aggravated by the presence of a swarm of “infiltrators” who has passed the cordon of officers and attacked the faithful of the Christian community the “from within”.

Reached by AsiaNews, the Rev. Palti H. Panjaitan Sth — head of the Protestant community Hkbp Filadelfia — emphasized that “what scares us most is that the number of police was so small compared to the angry mob.” He adds that “it is clear that they did not have the strength to repel the attackers” and journalists, activists and lawyers who fight in defence of human rights can do nothing either.

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

Nepal: Muslims Call Off Stir

KATHMANDU: Muslim organisations have called off their agitation after the government agreed to address their key demands. The government, in an 11-point agreement with the National Muslim Struggle Alliance, has pledged to form a Constitutional Muslim Commission and recognise the community’s separate identity. The alliance has also called off its general strike slated for May 21-22. “The government has agreed to recognise a separate Muslim identity when deciding the name(s) of Madhes pradesh(es), if they reflect multiple identities,” said Taj Mohmmed Miya, chief of National Muslim Federation — one of the 35 negotiators from the alliance. “The government has accepted our demands. But it remains to be seen how our concerns are reflected in the constitution,” said Miya of the alliance, headed by independent lawmaker Sardul Miya Haq. Zakir Hussain, general secretary of the alliance, said the government also agreed to mention Muslims, along with women and Dalits, in the fundamental rights’ chapter of constitution.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Christian Couple Acquitted in Lahore Over False Blasphemy Charges

Charged in December 2008, they were initially given life in prison. After four years behind bars, they were acquitted. A Muslim man had accused them in a personal vendetta over a row among children. For the judges, the accusations were a frame-up over a personal dispute.

Lahore (AsiaNews) — “The court took a brave decision by releasing the married couple. They were unfairly accused and jailed for a crime they never committed,” said Fr John Mall. The priest from the Diocese of Lahore welcomed the ruling by the High Court that acquitted Munir Masih and his wife Ruqayya for lack of evidence. The parents of six children had originally received a life sentence.

In the first trial held in Kasur in 2010, the court dropped the charge of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, which carries the death penalty. It was clear even then, that the couple was not guilty of any crime. However, they had to wait four years before the second charge was also thrown out.

“No one testified against the couple on the matter of blasphemy,” the couple’s lawyer Chaudhry Naeem Shakir said. The contradictions in the complaint against 32-year-old Munir and his wife were apparent.

Their accuser, Muhammad Yousaf, had said that they had used the Qur’an for exorcism. The court found his story too inconsistent, ruling that it was made only in revenge in a “personal dispute”.

A quarrel between the Christian couple’s children and those of Muhammad Yousaf, from Kasur in Punjab, drove the latter to use the ‘black law’.

Muhammad Yousaf induced his driver, Muhammad Nawaz, to bear false witness and accuse the Masih of blasphemy on the basis of sections B and C of Article 295 of Pakistan’s penal code. Seven other people were also named as witnesses to the crime.

Following the Lahore High Court’s decision, Munir Masih was released on bail. The charges against him were deemed weak from the start. His wife’s release from the Sahiwal Women’s Prison is expected shortly. She should be then reunited with her husband and six children (two boys and four girls).

“The court took a brave decision,” Fr John Mall told AsiaNews. “The blasphemy law is used to settle personal scores, especially in Punjab,” he exaplined. “The Catholic Church has appealed several times to the government to act against its abuse.”

“Many cases of blasphemy have occurred and many acts of violence have been perpetrated against minorities in the area,” said Fr Amir Romail, a priest in Kasur.

In view of this outcome, he said that he hopes to see judges making similar decisions “in other cases where the accused languishes in prison for years waiting for a judgement.”

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

Pakistan: Dispute Over ‘Slipper’ Claims Four Lives

A petty dispute over an alleged stealing of a slipper from a mosque in Landhi turned gory and claimed lives of four persons, including a minor boy and his father, when two families exchanged fire on Friday. Police said that the unfortunate incident took place after Friday prayers when the slippers of a man, identified as Zakaullah, went missing from a local mosque. Zakaullah asked some children about his slippers and they reportedly informed him that some children belonging to a policeman’s family could be involved in the missing footwear. An enraged Zakaullah went to the house of Farooq, the policeman, from where his relative Fazal Mehmood came out. An altercation broke out between the two sides.

Later the event took an ugly turn and men from both sides pulled out their guns and opened fire on each other resulting in the deaths of two persons from each side. Those killed in the incident were identified as Fazal Mehmood, 52, his 10-year-old son Hayat Fazal, and Siraj Ahmed and Dua Sher from the other side. A woman, Riyasat Bibi, and a passer-by were also wounded in the firing.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Twitter Row Reveals the Trouble With Pakistan

If ever there was a metaphor for Pakistan’s woes it was yesterday’s farcical Twitter blackout. An affront to religious or cultural sensitivities prompted a knee-jerk ban on Twitter, which was feebly implemented and ridiculed by thousands of users — including members of parliament and government advisers — before the whole shoddy mess was ditched 10 hours later, just as hastily as it was conceived. First things first. Drawing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed is not big and it’s not clever. It’s deeply offensive to Muslims who view any depiction of the Prophet as blasphemous. So it was no surprise two years ago that plans for an Everyone Draw Mohammed Day on Facebook sparked widespread anger, anger that led to the Lahore High Court ordering a ban on a host of social networking sites. Two years later and the event has been turned into an annual chance to poke fun at Muslims on May 20, with links and chatter being swapped on Twitter.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

Fukushima Reactor 4 Poses Massive Global Risk

More than a year after a devastating earthquake and tsunami triggered a massive nuclear disaster, experts are warning that Japan isn’t out of the woods yet and the worst nuclear storm the world has ever seen could be just one earthquake away from reality.

The troubled Reactor 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is at the centre of this potential catastrophe.

Reactor 4 — and to a lesser extent Reactor 3 — still hold large quantities of cooling waters surrounding spent nuclear fuel, all bound by a fragile concrete pool located 30 metres above the ground, and exposed to the elements.

A magnitude 7 or 7.5 earthquake would likely fracture that pool, and disaster would ensue, says Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with Fairewinds Energy Education who has visited the site.

The 1,535 spent fuel rods would become exposed to the air and would likely catch fire, with the most-recently added fuel rods igniting first.

The incredible heat generated from that blaze, Gundersen said, could then ignite the older fuel in the cooling pool, causing a massive oxygen-eating radiological fire that could not be extinguished with water.

“So the fear is the newest fuel could begin to burn and then we’d have a conflagration of the whole pool because it would become hotter and hotter. The health consequences of that are beyond where science has ever gone before,” Gundersen told in an interview from his home in Vermont.

Worst-case scenario

There are a couple of possible outcomes, Gundersen said.

Highly radioactive cesium and strontium isotopes would likely go airborne and “volatilize” — turning into a vapour that could move with the wind, potentially travelling thousands of kilometres from the source.

The size of those particles would determine whether they remained in Japan, or made their way to the rest of Asia and other continents.

“And here’s where there’s no science because no one’s ever dared to attempt the experiment,” Gundersen said. “If it flies far enough it goes around the world, if the particles stay a little bigger, they settle in Japan. Either is awful.”

Essentially, he said, Japan is sitting on a ticking time bomb.

The damaged Reactor 4 cooling pool was reinforced by workers who went in and “jury-rigged” it after the tsunami, but the structure still contains a massive amount of fuel, Gundersen said.

Reactor 3 has less fuel inside its cooling pool, but it has not been strengthened since the disaster and poses a greater risk of failing.

“Reactor 3 has a little less consequences but a little more risk, and Reactor 4 has more consequences but…a little less risk,” he said.

Finding a fix

The solution, Gundersen said, is for the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to immediately begin the process of transferring the fuel rods from the cooling pools to dry cask storage — a massive and costly endeavour, but one he said is absolutely essential.

To even begin the removal process at Reactor 4, TEPCO would first have to construct a crane capable of lifting the 100-tonne fuel rod canister, since the original crane was destroyed in the disaster last year.

In order to do that, they would have to build a massive structure around the existing pool to support the new crane, which would then be used to lift the fuel rod canister from the water, down to the ground and into a steel and concrete dry-cask.

All this of course, has to be done in a highly contaminated area where workers must wear protective suits and limit their radiation exposure each day, adding time and expense to the process.

Still, with the consequences so high, Gundersen said there’s no time to lose.

“This is a ‘now’ problem, this is not a ‘let’s-wait-until-we-get-the-cash-flow-from-the-Japanese-government’ problem. The consequences of a 7 or 7.5 earthquake don’t happen every day, but we know it happened last year so you have to anticipate that it will happen,” Gundersen said.

‘Fate of the world’ depends on Reactor 4

He’s not alone in pressing the Japanese government to adopt a sense of urgency about the Reactor 4 dilemma.

Robert Alvarez, a former top adviser at the U.S. Department of Energy, also expressed concern in a letter to Akio Matsumura, a Japanese diplomat who has turned his focus to the nuclear calamity.

Matsumura had asked Alvarez about the risk associated with Reactor 4.

“The No. 4 pool is about 100 feet above ground, is structurally damaged and is exposed to the open elements,” Alvarez said in his response. “If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cesium-137 released by the Chernobyl accident.”

Mitsuhei Murata, Japan’s former ambassador to Switzerland and Senegal, has also made it his mission to convince the UN and the world that urgent action is needed.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on No. 4 reactor,” Murata said in a recent letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in which he urged him to back efforts to address the problem…

           — Hat tip: JLH[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

First Muslim Radio in Nigeria

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — “The Voice of Ummah or Quds Radio hopes to fill that gap, providing high quality Islamic contents to more a million listeners in Nigeria,” Daood Imran Molaasan, President of the Jama’atu Ta’awun Muslimeen (TAWUN) said. Owners of the radio say it aims to correct misconceptions fuelled by Christians-dominated media in Nigeria about Islam. “The station’s programming reflects a desire to reach people on a different level, to broaden the horizons of all listeners,” Molaasan said. “In the race for excellence, there is no finish line and The Voice of Ummah programming and broadcasting philosophies will Inshallah be a testimony to that.” Muslims make up nearly 55 percent of Nigeria’s 140 million population, while Christians account for nearly 40 percent.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Ghana: Rights of Muslims Must be Respected — Ahlussunna

The General Secretary of Alhassunna Wal Jama’a, Sheik Yacoub Shuaib Abban, has called on heads of government assisted secondary schools to respect the religious rights of Muslim students. He said even though Ghana was a secular state, some heads of public and government assisted secondary schools had refused to respect the religious rights of Muslims.

Speaking at a press conference on the theme ‘Politics and Education’, Sheik Abban said Muslim students were prevented from praying in some public schools and also discouraged from fasting during the month of Ramadan. He said apart from forcing them to attend church services like morning devotion and Sunday church service, some school heads had made it an abomination for Muslim students to send copies of the Qur’an to school. Sheik Abban said, “These are clear violation of our Muslim children and grandchildren’s religious rights. We have endured this humiliation for far too long and will henceforth not take such actions lightly.” He said, “We can be persuaded to let bygones be bygones but we are calling on government to ensure that the secular status of Ghana is duly respected in all public and government assisted schools.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Lagos Shuts Churches, Mosques Over Noise Pollution

Officials of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, (LASEPA) yesterday shut three churches and two mosques within the metropolis for violating the laws of the state against noise pollution.

The affected churches are Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Mission Church, Anthony Village; Christ Chosen Church, Onipanu and Evangelical Apostolic Church, while the mosques are Darusalam Mosque at Sabo, Yaba and Ayegbesin Mosque at Mafoluku, Oshodi. Also shut was Sunplast Plastic industries in Isolo, whose generating set was allegedly emitting hazardous fumes into a nearby school, and Scott industries in Matori for engaging their workers in dehumanising working conditions that that also constitute environmental nuisance.

The LASEPA team led by Mr. Kayode Bello, a senior official of the agency, backed by the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit, stormed the affected churches and mosques and shut them down for refusing to comply with relevant environmental laws of the state. General Manager, LASEPA, Engr. Rasheed Shabi, said the development was as a result of a petition filed to his office by residents who had complained about the blazing noise pollution from the churches and mosques.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Nearly a Million New Immigrants in Germany

Germany has been looking for skilled workers, and last year saw the highest rate of immigration in more than 15 years. More and more people are coming from crisis-wracked EU countries.

Pigi Mourmouri is close to retirement, but for the last year she has had more work than ever. Up to 20 immigrants come to her Catholic Church counseling service in Berlin each week. The advice-seekers have just arrived in the German capital from Greece and want to know how things work. A year ago, she had, at most, four immigrants a week.

“The number is growing at an alarming rate,” said Pigi, who left Greece 45 years ago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Asylum Seekers’ Protest Camp Grows

A campsite in the province of Groningen inhabited by rejected asylum seekers continues to grow as more people join the protest. Around 300 asylum seekers are living in tents in Ter Apel. The group has gathered to protest their impending deportations; a spokesperson for the applicants said he expects the camp to continue to grow.

Earlier in the week, the expansion of the camp led to shortages of water, tents and blankets. A number of relief organisations stepped in to help while the Ministry of the Interior and the local municipality provided toilets, trash cans and drinking water.

The camp was founded by a group of Iraqi asylum seekers who will be sent back to Iraq despite their claims that it’s unsafe for them to return home. Since then, asylum seekers from Somalia and Iran have joined them.

Immigration Minister Gerd Leers has given the protesters a week to consider their options, in the hope that they will voluntarily return to their own countries. The protesters have rejected the offer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: GMP [Greater Manchester Police] Flies Rainbow Flag for IDAHO

Greater Manchester Police is flying the rainbow flag at the Force’s new headquarters at Central Park and at divisional headquarters across the county today, Thursday 17 May, to support IDAHO 2012 (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia). The Forces participation in the annual event marks its support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities in Greater Manchester and across the world. IDAHO takes place every year on 17 May to mark the day in 1990 when the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.


[JP note: Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s home from Idaho we go.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


DARPA Building Very Fast Robotic Hunter-Killers to Chase You Down

DARPA may be the Big Dog of robotic cargo transport for now, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only game in town. A new design from the Italian Institute of Technology may look like the Army’s pack-bot but it runs like a Ferarri—or, at least, a skittering, mechanical Ibex. Led by Professor Darwin Caldwell, a team from the IIT’s department of Advanced Robotics has spent nearly half a decade designing, building, and testing the meter-long, 70 kilogram hydraulically-driven quadraped—Hydraulically-driven Quadraped, HyQ.

Being hydraulically activated and constructed from lightweight aluminum, the HyQ is one of a handful of robots capable of the instantaneous corrections needed for off-road deployment. It employs 12 active joints—eight hydraulically-powered, four electrically-powered—to generate the necessary torque for moving nimbly over rough terrain. And boy can it move.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Scientists Create Lethal Bird Flu That is Transmissible Between Humans… Then Tell World How to Fabricate it

The emergence of the avian flu in 2003 caused alarm around the world as it spread through countries in Asia, leaving victims in its wake. While largely contained to the bird population, for the relatively few humans unlucky enough to catch it the flu proved deadly.

Now, two groups of perhaps seemingly mad scientists have successfully modified the H5N1 virus so that it could be passed easily between humans. One of them has already published the work for all the world to see, and the second is soon to follow. What kind of dangers will materialize in a world where the laboratory formulas for superflus and other potential bioweapons are out in the open?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

Turning any building into a mosque and claiming it's not one, and doing it under false pretences is the oldest muslim trick in the book. I am currently involved in cases in London where muslims have turned commercial premises in a main street into mosques/madrassas, and claim they are, respectively, a book shop and a taxi company. each applied for planning permission to expand 'for storage purposes'. They got it, and built out, but the extra 'storage area' is only used to store muslims praying and children banging their brainwashed heads on the floor reciting the koran. Somewhat strangely for a 'bookshop', it's only open all day on a friday. funny, that? I'm confident I'll get them shut down.