Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120615

Financial Crisis
»82% of Total ECB Credits for Eurozone to Spain Banks
»Bank of Spain: No Institute Near Liquidation
»Central Banks Ready to Face Panic After Greek Polls
»Cyprus Snubs EU as it Turns to Moscow, Reports
»Euro Exit Threat Hangs Over Greek Election
»Fresh Round of Ratings Cuts Hits France, Netherlands
»Greece: Social Security Funds Crumbling, Minister
»Greece: Elections: Whoever Wins it Will be Very Tough
»Greece: Tsipras Promises Stay in EU and Eurozone
»Italy: Government Passes New Growth Bill
»Spain Warns Germany, Consequences for All
»Spanish Borrowing Cost Jump
»The Great Flight of Capital
»UK Floods Banking Sector With Cash
»Communist Defector Speaks Out on America’s Marxist Future
»Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Native American’ Claims: If She Was a Republican, The Media Would Call Her a Racist
»Fear and Loathing of Islam
»Find Out Why China Owes Americans $1 Trillion
»Islamophobia: Anatomy of an American Panic
»Ponzi Scheme Billionaire Handed 110-Year Jail Term
»Romney, Rubio, McCain and Natural Born Citizen
»Ronald Reagan’s PR Director
»The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate
»Who is Grover Norquist, Part 2
Europe and the EU
»Athens Dearer Than Berlin for Expatriates, Report
»Bulgaria: Nationalists Rally Against Sofia Mosque Loudspeakers
»Islam in Germany: “Germany Does Away With Itself”
»Italy: Police Make Mega-Seizure of Fake Organic Soya
»Italy: Lombard Health Probe: 30 Investigated, Hospitals Searched
»Italy: Man Jailed for 20 Months for Stealing Two Crates of Tomatoes
»Italy: Anti-Corruption Bill Approved by House
»Italy: Finmeccanica Shares Fly on Buffet Rumours
»Norway: Experts Defend Breivik Schizophrenia Diagnosis
»Swiss Hold Referendum Referendum
»Together at Last: Pam Geller and the English Defence League
»UK: Crackdown on Suspected Internet Paedophiles
»UK: Do You Know These Men? Police Release Pictures of Gang Who Attacked Students on 142 Bus in Withington
»UK: Jury Discharged in Brierfield Child Sexual Grooming Case
»UK: Man and Woman From Burnley Arrested for Online Sex Abuse
»UK: Police Plan Operation for EDL’s Bristol March
»UK: Paedophile Ring ‘Held Sex Parties at Country Farmhouse’
»UK: Standing Up for the Queen’s English
»Venice’s Eternal Battle Against Water
North Africa
»Court Dissolves Egyptian Parliament; Army Takes Over; Civil War?
»Forces Surround Parliament in Egypt, Escalating Tensions
»Tunisia: UGTT Secretary Demands Intervention of Armed Forces
»Tunisia: Only 5% Cancellations From Abroad, Ministry
»Tunisia: Interior Ministry Authorises Police to Shoot
»Tunisia: Government Bans Islamist Marches
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Dreamy Foreign Policies
»IDF Radio Host: ‘Islam is the Most Terrible Disease in the World’
Middle East
»75mln New Jobs Needed by 2022, Study Reveals
»France: Talks With Russia on Post-Assad Era in Syria
»Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Sharia Law From the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World
»UAE Considers Crack Down on Skimpy Dressers
South Asia
»India: Are Young Muslim Girls Children of a Lesser God?
»India Protest Over ‘Unfair Targeting of Muslims’
»Tens of Thousands Flee Myanmar Unrest
Far East
»Japanese Police Arrest Last Gas Attack Fugitive
»With the New Asia Strategy Comes a New Sense of Modesty
Australia — Pacific
»Climate Change or Tectonic Shifts?
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ghana: Man Defiles Girl at Mosque, Jailed 15 Years
Culture Wars
»Euthanasia Rivals Slam Mercy ‘Propaganda’
»Soccer: Cassano Apologises for Anti-Gay Remarks

Financial Crisis

82% of Total ECB Credits for Eurozone to Spain Banks

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 13 — The Spanish financial system’s dependence on the European Central Bank (ECB) is growing. The net debt owed to the monetary organisation by Spanish banks reached 287.813 billion euros in May, a 9.2% rise compared to April. The amount is the outstanding balance that Spanish banking organisations must return to the ECB, according to figures from Spain’s central bank. Net financing provided by the monetary organisation in May to Spanish banks accounted for 82.9% of the total in the eurozone, a total that stood at 347.195 billion euros. The growing difficulties for Spanish banks in financing themselves with other banks on the markets is illustrated by the fact that the amount of credit requested from the ECB increased fivefold compared to May 2011, when 53.134 billion euros were requested.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Bank of Spain: No Institute Near Liquidation

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 14 — The Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB) “has not provided for any tenders to be held or the liquidation of any credit institute under its administration or control,” reports a statement released by the Bank of Spain today in response to what was said yesterday by European Commission Vice President and Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, who claimed that he could “see at least one of the nationalised banks headed for liquidation”. In reference to the three financial agencies put under the external administration of the Spanish government — Catalunya Caixa, Novagalicia and Banco di Valencia — Almunia was quoted as saying that “one of the three, in line with the Spanish authorities’ intentions, is oriented towards going into liquidation and will not be held onto after the company restructuring set in motion.” The auctions of the three savings and loans institutes have been put on hold for the moment while awaiting for the results of the audit on stress tests requested by the Spanish government for the two banks from two independent companies. The results of the tests will be released on June 21, confirm the economy ministry sources quoted. “If the liquidation costs are lower for taxpayers than those of a bailout and restructuring, then liquidation should be chosen,” Almunia said. “We must not save all banks if not absolutely necessary,” he added. However, FROB released a denial today: “In line with the regulations for which it was created,” the statement notes, “FROB will continue to carry out the orderly restructuring of these banks, and as a consequence main the regular operativeness of them.” Ahead of the G20 meeting on Monday and Tuesday in Mexico, Roland Berger and Oliver Wyman — the two independent companies tasked with the auditing — have reportedly already delivered a preliminary report to the Spanish economy minister, which in the worst case scenario estimates the aid to bail out Spanish banks at between 60 and 65 billion euros, according to advance reports today by the daily paper ABC. The amount is less than the maximum total of 100 billion euros offered by Madrid to get the financial sector back on its feet.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Central Banks Ready to Face Panic After Greek Polls

Banking authorities in many parts of the world are preparing for a possible market storm or public panic after decisive elections in Greece this weekend. Central banks look prepared to pump fresh money into markets.

The world’s major economies are getting down to brass tacks to face a possible and not unlikely panic after cliffhanger Greek elections, should radical leftists win and cast doubt on the nation’s future in the 17-member eurozone.

Officials from G20 industrialized countries due to meet for a summit in Mexico next week said central banks in major economies were ready to take steps to stabilize financial markets, mainly by providing liquidity to prevent a credit squeeze.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on Friday the bank was willing to support the euro area, should it be required. “The ECB will continue to supply enough liquidity to banks where needed,” he told reporters in Frankfurt.

Canada also signaled its resolve to step into action. “Canada is ready to act, if the situation takes a serious turn for the worse or if there is an external shock,” said Andrew MacDougall, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Cyprus Snubs EU as it Turns to Moscow, Reports

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, JUNE 14 — The European Commission has confirmed that Cyprus has not submitted any request for any European financial assistance, as media speculation mounts the Nicosia has taken the begging bowl to Moscow, as daily Famagusta Gazette writes today. If true, Cyprus, which takes over the rotating presidency of the EU in a few weeks, will be sure to irk EU partners again by snubbing the bloc in favour of Russia. Amadeu Altafaj, Spokesperson of Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro Olli Rehn, told CNA that Cyprus has not submitted any request for financial assistance and that they are not aware of any contacts towards this direction.

Meanwhile, an assistant of Mr Altafaj, recalled in statements to CNA the speech of Commissioner Rehn, made on the 11th of June in Strasbourg, that Cyprus has not submitted any application for European financial assistance. “We have no news of contacts in this sense either”, he said. Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday cut its credit rating on Bank of Cyprus, and put Popular on review for a downgrade, citing the increased risks of a possible Greek exit from the euro zone. Cyprus’s third bank, Hellenic was also downgraded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Euro Exit Threat Hangs Over Greek Election

(ATHENS) — Greeks readied for their second election in six weeks with all the top candidates now calling for renegotiation of a bailout deal despite warnings that Greece must toe the line or leave the euro.

Sunday’s election will be watched around the world amid concern over the shockwaves that a Greek euro exit would send through the global economy and will play into talks by European leaders divided on how to resolve the debt crisis.

“To be or not to be in the eurozone? That is the question,” said Lucas Papademos, a former prime minister and European Central Bank vice-president, paraphrasing William Shakespeare’s Hamlet as Greece’s own tragedy unfolds.

The New Democracy conservatives and Syriza radical leftists have been running neck-and-neck in the polls for an election which was triggered by an inconclusive vote on May 6 in which no party could form a governing coalition.

Unofficial recent polls have given a slight advantage to New Democracy — a rumour that led to a 10.1-percent rally on the Athens stock market on Thursday.

That boost petered out on Friday, however with the market down 1.0 percent.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, 61, presents himself as the guarantor for Greece’s membership in the eurozone although he says he wants to renegotiate the “memorandum” — a bailout deal that has imposed harsh austerity conditions.

In return for the cut, Greece has been given an international credit lifeline — first for 110 billion euros in May 2010 and then for 130 billion euros earlier this year plus a 107-billion-euro private debt write-off.

“What is at stake in this election is clear: euro or drachma, coalition government or no government,” Samaras said in one of his campaign speeches.

He has said he could lead a coalition of other centre-right parties and the Socialist Pasok party, which would broadly support the bailout deal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Fresh Round of Ratings Cuts Hits France, Netherlands

Fears of contagion from the eurozone debt crisis have led international ratings agencies Moody’s and Egan Jones to downgrade five Dutch banks and the state of France. The new French president received part of the blame.

The policies of the new French President Francois Hollande could weaken the country’s finances and increase its banks’ need for help, Egan Jones Ratings said Friday.

As a result of this assessment, the number four among the big US ratings agencies lowered France’s creditworthiness to BBB+ from A- and assigned a negative outlook that could herald future downgrades.

France’s credit ratings as granted by the big three agencies — Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poors (S&P) — are all several notches higher, but also include a “negative outlook.”

Egan Jones said it expected rising borrowing costs for France as the eurozone debt crisis continued, combined with a greater need for support in the country’s banking sector, .

In addition, French President Francois Hollande will be “under pressure to keep campaign promises which will ultimately hurt credit quality.”

In another round of ratings cuts, agency Moody’s downgraded five Dutch banks on Friday. The banks are ING Bank, ABN AMRO, Rabobank, LeasePlan Corporation and SNS Bank.

Moody’s said the banks’ business was likely to remain difficult as a result of falling house prices in the Netherlands, owing to their large exposure to mortgages and inter-bank funding.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Social Security Funds Crumbling, Minister

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 14 — Greek social security funds are near breaking point, as caretaker Labor and Social Security Minister Antonis Roupakiotis said on Wednesday that he was not able to tell whether the funds would be able to pay their dues this summer. “For July I expressed the prediction that based on the data we have… pensioners should be worried,” said Roupakiotis, a former head of the Athens Law Association, as daily Kathimerini reported. “However the finances of all social security funds and especially those subsidized by the state budget are in a bad state.” He went on to say that the Manpower Organization (OAED) needs 260 million euros to pay unemployment benefits. He also dubbed the unemployment benefit “humiliating” and stressed that only one in five jobless people receives it.

Finally, Roupakiotis pointed out that some 500 employees at unions have remained without a salary for months and that social tourism programs, which provide subsidized holidays to workers, have been suspended.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Elections: Whoever Wins it Will be Very Tough

Coffers empty,coalitions fragile,post-vote scenario dramatic

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 13 — With the state’s coffers empty, a population tired and furious with austerity measures, an economy sinking without a trace and the prospect of a government based on unstable coalitions riddled with in-fighting, whoever emerges victorious from Greece’s elections on June 17 will not have it easy.

With only a few days left until Greeks head to the polls, the latest public polls (but also the reserved equivalents, which cannot be published in the two weeks leading up to the vote) have led many analysts to predict a new split vote, with no party able to govern alone. The left-wing coalition Syriza, which wants to consign the memorandum to the dustbin, and the centre-right party New Democracy, which supports it but wants to see it softened, are going head to head, at around or just under 30%. A coalition therefore seems the only way forward for any party, but given the climate of vitriol in this second election campaign, any deal between parties is at risk of lasting only a few months at most, and could fail to produce a government capable of dragging the country out of the mess in which it finds itself. Such events, of course, would not only have devastating consequences for Greece but for the whole of the eurozone. If the victors on June 17 fail to represent the conditions of the memorandym signed between Athens and the “troika” (EU, IMF and BCE), the European Union and the International Monetary Fund could block one or more tranches of the massive 173 billion euro loan that Greece desperately needs. The state machine has enough money to function only for a few more weeks and could find itself penniless at the start of July. Many say that this would herald the country’s de facto exit from the single currency, bringing unpredictable consequences for the eurozone.

The vote of May 6, from which no majority and government emerged, has meant a further month of paralysis in Greece’s reform and development programme, which is already severely delayed, from privatisations to the fight against tax evasion. The conditions of the memorandum dictate that by June 30 the Greek Parliament must implement cuts of a further 11 billion euros to public spending. The winner or winners on June 17 will have to do everything in a rush if they do not want to lose the aid. Any renegotiation of the “funds in exchange for austerity” agreement could run out of time, and the freeze on the loan could come into force at the start of July, with dramatic consequences for public finances and potentially explosive social tensions. Meanwhile, the leader of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, said today that the conditions in Europe, with aid from Spain, make it possible to change some parts of the memorandum.

Greek electoral law assigns 50 bonus seats to the majority party. If ND were to win, it would probably do so only with enough votes to form a weak coalition with the Socialist party Pasok (in freefall in the polls), if the latter manages to finish in third place. If Syriza emerges victorious, the natural ally appears to be the small party Democratic Left. In this case, too, the majority would be very slender.

Evangelos Venizelos, the experienced socialist leader, has already called for a great coalition after the vote, claiming that any other smaller alliance “will only ensure that the absence of the government continues”. The June 17 vote, which many consider to be a referendum on Greece’s stay in the eurozone, could fail to provide a clear answer, which could be the worst outcome.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Tsipras Promises Stay in EU and Eurozone

But poll in favour of rival Samaras sees Athens market surge

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the radical left-wing coalition Syriza, has promised that if his party emerges victorious in Sunday’s elections “there will be a government for all Greeks on Monday” and guaranteed that Greece would remain “in Europe and in the eurozone”.

“On Monday we will form a government for all Greeks, with Europe and with the euro and at the same time, we guarantee that we will keep Greece in the eurozone,” Tsipras said yesterday evening during his final election rally in Athens.

Tsipras’s comments co-incided with the release of a secret poll conducted by the centre-right New Democracy, which suggests that the party led by Antonis Samaras, which supports the memorandum signed between Athens and international creditors, will earn a 29% share of the vote on Sunday. The Athens stock market surged yesterday, closing up a spectacular 12.55%, the highest daily rise in 10 months.

Polls in the two weeks leading up to the elections are forbidden by law in Greece but, given its origin, investors considered the survey to be reliable. The strong possibility of a defeat on Sunday for Syriza (which is against the memorandum and intends to renegotiate it, putting Greece’s stay in the eurozone at risk) had the effect of an injection of confidence, which explains the highly positive reaction of the stock market.

“No to the memorandum of bankruptcy,” Tsipras repeated during the rally, which took place in front of thousands of supporters gathered in the capital’s central Omonia Square. “And yes to the euro and to a national plan to restore the economy that will protect the people from default”. Tsipras again claimed that he was ready to hold talks “with Europe over the possibility to renegotiate [the memorandum]”.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Socialist Pasok party, Evangelos Venizelos, said yesterday that “the people have the key to development in their own hands and it is their duty to provide an answer to the fear and lack of leadership in the country in Sunday’s elections”.

Venizelos also criticised other parties, who he believes have failed to suggest integrated government platforms and warned that “the two contenders [New Democracy and Syriza], which are deliberating creating an artificial polarization, will not be able to form a coalition government and the country will be led towards irreversible situations if governed by one of the two”. Venizelos continued: “If things remain this way, the only possible solution is for a government of co-responsibility, which is necessary both for Greece and for the continuation of the country’s European prospects”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Government Passes New Growth Bill

Measure opens the door to sale of 10 bln euros in state assets

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 15 — The Italian government passed a growth measure Friday that aims to incentivize new hires.

Industry Minister Corrado Passera called the bill a set of “concrete initiatives to encourage employing high-caliber personnel”. Companies that hire new employees are eligible for tax bonuses, similar to a previous law that incentivized companies to hire workers under 35. Unemployment in Italy is roughly 10%, while youth unemployment is over 35%. The package’s 61 articles also include a fund to provide food for the poor, a three-year property-tax break for qualifying businesses and a 50%-tax break for companies that restructure before June 30, 2013. Italian Premier Mario Monti said that growth was a “motivating factor in today’s decree,” referring to the package as “robust”.

The government also passed a measure that opens the door to sell state assets and free up roughly 10 billion euros to stimulate the economy. “Growing the economy and removing State burdens: these were the motivating factors of today’s decree,” said Mario Monti. The measure allows Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), the Treasury’s savings and loan institute, to buy out state shares over the next four months in national industrial holding company Fintecna; the SACE agency, which insures foreign investments; and Simest, an agency that finances joint ventures with companies abroad. The CDP will then be free to sell assets belonging to those bodies, according to the bill. Junior Economy Minister Vittorio Grilli said the move should generate roughly 10 billion euros in capital. “It will have a very important impact on revenue,” he said. “The first stage will be completed within one month. (The money) will be used for debt reduction, including that which derives from the commercial debt of businesses”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain Warns Germany, Consequences for All

Foreign Minister, large European banks have invested in Spain

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Spain has pointed its finger against Germany for having fuelled the financial crisis with its banks which have benefited through the many loans handed out to the countries of Mediterranean Europe. “It’s true that some countries such as Spain have lived way beyond their means but this is because the big European banks had decided to invest in Spain to make a large amount of money,” declared Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, in an interview on Radio Onda Cero. If Berlin is going to throw a country into the shark tank, then there will be consequences for all”, he pointed out, inviting Germany “to take a long term view on things.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spanish Borrowing Cost Jump

Spain’s benchmark yield on 10-year bonds reached a new high on Thursday at 7 percent. The increase follows Moody’s decision to downgrade Spain’s credit rating to one notch above “junk” status. Spain also received a €100 billion bailout line from eurozone banks on 9 June.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Great Flight of Capital

Presseurop: Corriere della Sera

In addition to the debt crisis, the discreet but nonetheless major migration of funds from Southern Europe is contributing to the problems of the most vulnerable countries of the Eurozone. What the economist Federico Fubini has dubbed “the great flight of capital” to the North — to Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands — has dried up intra-European credit flows and adding to the difficulty of financing public debt.

“It all began in 2008, on the eve of the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers in the United States”, writes Fubini in Corriere della Sera. The banks in the major European economies had several hundred billion euros of exposure to other countries in the Eurozone. The fear prompted by the crisis resulted in a race to repatriate investments, with both institutions and private individuals rushing to recover their funds —

In three years, 600 billion dollars were repatriated from Italy and Spain to Germany and France. This is the underlying context for the surge in the differentials between interest rates on sovereign debt which have since reached intolerable levels. Everyone went home with his money, while confidence in Eurozone partners all but disappeared. There were two reasons for this reaction: firstly, investors were encouraged to respond in this way by their own national authorities, and secondly, banks (and companies) decided that the euro’s days were numbered and thus sought to keep their assets and their debts within the borders of individual national jurisdictions. […] At the same time, in some vulnerable Eurozone countries, savers were worried that the state and the banks would not be able to cope with the shock, and decided they would have to move their money to keep it safe.

To break the vicious circle, Fubini calls for “an accord at the highest political level, along the lines of the one that was concluded for Maastricht in 1991”, when European leaders reached agreement on convergence criteria for joining the euro and a schedule for the launch of the single currency.

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

UK Floods Banking Sector With Cash

The UK said on Thursday it will inject £100 billion of credit into its banking system. Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said the credit would provide cheap-long term funding to banks. The extra funding would encourage banks to offer more loans to consumers and businesses, said King.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Communist Defector Speaks Out on America’s Marxist Future

A top communist defector is warning of an unprecedented “alliance” between the Democratic Party and the Communist Party, reflected in the CPUSA’s endorsement of Barack Obama for president in 2008 and the party’s continued support for Democratic Party policies. But is this warning going to be too hot to handle for the media? And the Republicans?

Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking official ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc, says in an article for PJMedia that any doubt that the Democratic and the Communist parties had secretly joined forces was erased in 2009, “when Van Jones, part of a left fringe of declared communists, became the White House’s green jobs czar.”

Obama aide Valerie Jarrett had disclosed at a left-wing bloggers convention that “we,” apparently referring to herself and President Obama, had hired Jones for the job. However, Jones was fired when an outcry developed over his communist background, and the media quickly dropped any probes into Jones’ White House contacts.

Pacepa, who served as a top aide in the Romanian communist regime, tells Accuracy in Media, “The Democratic Party has become dangerously infected with the Marxism virus. I recognize the symptoms because I once lived through them, and I believe it is my obligation as an American citizen to help the conservative movement to prevent any further spread of Marxism in my adopted country.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Native American’ Claims: If She Was a Republican, The Media Would Call Her a Racist

by Tim Stanley

Imagine if a Republican candidate claimed, confidently, that she was part Native American. Imagine if she had actually used that identity to have herself listed as a minority at Harvard, qualifying her for special treatment and celebration as proof of how diverse and progressive her department is. Imagine if, many years later, it turned out that her claims to Native heritage were dubious and, when pressed for proof, she offered her “high cheekbones.” Oh, and she once contributed a recipe to a Native American cookbook called “Pow Wow Chow” (that may even have been plagiarised).


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Fear and Loathing of Islam

by Moustafa Bayoumi

Something’s gone terribly wrong.

In August 2007 the New York Police Department released a report called “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” claiming that the looming danger to the United States was from “unremarkable” Muslim men under 35 who visit “extremist incubators.” The language sounds ominous, conjuring up Clockwork Orange—style laboratories of human reprogramming, twisting average Muslims into instruments of evil. And yet what are these “incubators”? The report states that they are mosques, “cafes, cab driver hangouts, flophouses, prisons, student associations, non-governmental organizations, hookah (water pipe) bars, butcher shops and book stores”—in other words, precisely the places where ordinary life happens.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Find Out Why China Owes Americans $1 Trillion

Watch This Fox News Special Report Tonight

Over the past year we have written several times on the incredible story of how the People’s Republic of China owes $1 Trillion to more than 23,000 Americans in over 40 states debt issued by the former Republic of China that it toppled in 1949. See our most recent Iconoclast post, “Will China Pay the $1 Trillion It Owes Americans?” We have highlighted why the US government has failed to negotiate a selective debt swap deal with the PRC that only recognized its responsibilities as a successor government to the debt held by the UK government of Margaret Thatcher in 1987. . The story is also about a doughty advocate for realizing this goal, Jonna Bianco a Tennessee rancher, who created the American Bondholder Foundation. The proposed debt swap deal with China could be a win-win situation for both countries and might have significant economic impact across the US at a time of economic uncertainity. Tonight, Bret Baier’s Fox News Special Report will air a segment with Ms. Bianco by Peter Barnes at 6:00PM EDT (5:00PM CDT). Please tune in to watch the broadcast. Check your local listings for times and channels. We will be posting an interview with Ms. Bianco following tonight’s broadcast that will include archives of tonight’s Fox News Special Report segment with Ms. Bianco. Fox News will be running promos of this Special Report segment until airtime tonight. Be sure and watch this informative segment.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon[Return to headlines]

Islamophobia: Anatomy of an American Panic

The Nation has a special issue entitled “Islamophobia: Anatomy of an American Panic” with articles examining different aspects of Islamophobia in the US.

These include Moustafa Bayoumi, “Fear and Loathing of Islam”, Jack Shaheen, “How the Media Created the Muslim Monster Myth” (subscription only), Petra Bartosiewicz, “Deploying Informants, the FBI Stings Muslims”, Laila Lalami, “Islamophobia and Its Discontents”, Abed Awad, “The True Story of Sharia in American Courts”, Ramzi Kassem, “The Long Roots of the NYPD Spying Program”, Max Blumenthal, “The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate”, and Laila Al-Arian, “When Your Father Is Accused of Terrorism”.

[JP note: Link to The Nation here ]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Ponzi Scheme Billionaire Handed 110-Year Jail Term

Former billionaire Allen Stanford has been sentenced to 110 years in prison for running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. Stanford has denied running the scheme, which is believed to have been one of the largest in US history.

As he handed down the lengthy sentence on Thursday, US Judge David Hittner described the Texan tycoon’s actions as “one of the most egregious frauds ever presented to a trial jury in federal court.”

Stanford was found guilty in March on 13 of 14 charges for defrauding investors of more than $7 billion (5.5 billion euros) for a scheme spanning some 20 years. He was convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges for selling certificates of deposit from his bank in Antigua to 30,000 investors from more than 100 countries.

Prosecutors had asked that the former financier and cricket mogul be sentenced to 230 years in prison, the maximum sentence possible.

Calling the 62-year-old arrogant and remorseless, prosecutors said he had already spent some of the proceeds to fund a string of failed businesses, bribe regulators and pay for a lavish lifestyle that included yachts, a fleet of private jets and sponsorship of a cricket tournament.

Prosecutor William Stellmach told the judge: “This is a man utterly without remorse. He treated his victims like road kill.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Romney, Rubio, McCain and Natural Born Citizen

Simply stated, a Natural Born Citizen is a second (or more) generation citizen by birth right. None of the Founding Fathers were Natural Born Citizen as they all became first generation citizens the moment they created our nation. As a result, they had to exclude themselves from the NBC requirement, even though most of them were born on soil (aka Native Citizen), or none of them could have held the office of President.

The term Natural Born Citizen was borrowed from Vattel’s treaties The Law of Nations, based upon the unalienable rules of Natural Law. Most people understand and agree on this. Then, they begin cherry-picking their facts from there, in all cases, based upon their individual political agendas rather than a careful and complete study of the facts.

I direct you to four sections in particular…


In this regard, the United States Senate got it exactly right in their 99-0 Sen. Res. 511 clearing John McCain to pursue the office of President in 2008. Using the exact same definition used to clear John McCain, Barack Hussein Obama and Marco Rubio would fail the test. The fact that the U.S. Senate is on record getting it right demonstrates that the entire U.S. Senate is complicit in the fraudulent seating of Barack Hussein Obama in the people’s White House. It also proves it was a premeditated crime.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Ronald Reagan’s PR Director

‘Our Political System Is Basically Dysfunctional’

David Gergen, 70, media expert and communications director for former US President Ronald Reagan, fears that even a second term won’t help current President Barack Obama overcome the deep divides in Washington. The next few years are going to be tough, he says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate

by Max Blumenthal

In late April, Geert Wilders arrived in New York City to tell his quixotic tale to a rapt American audience. The far-right Dutch Party of Freedom leader—perhaps the world’s most prominent anti-Muslim populist—was poised to release Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me, a memoir just out from Regnery, the right-wing US publishing house, in which he recounts his courageous efforts to stop the “Islamicization” of Europe. On his US tour, Wilders proudly portrayed himself as a man on the run—a round-the-clock security detail guarding him against radical Muslims whose violent passions he had supposedly inflamed by his truth-telling—and as a man on the rise: the exodus of his party from the governing coalition had forced new elections in the Netherlands, throwing the country’s ossified establishment into chaos.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Who is Grover Norquist, Part 2

In 2004, at age 48, Grover married a Palestinian Muslim named Samah Alrayyes, a Kuwaiti Public Relations specialist who was formerly a director of the Islamic Free Market Institute and specialist at the Bureau of Legislative and Public Affairs at United States Agency for International Development (USAID). (USAID is the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid.) The couple have two children adopted from abroad. (The Islamic Free Market Institute was founded by Norquist and Khaled Saffuri.) Grover has said he’s a “white bread Methodist,” however, a devout Muslim like Samah supposedly would not marry a non-Muslim, and of late, Grover has refrained from answering the question of his religion.

Gary Johnson, Jr., wrote, Khaled Saffuri: Where is He Now in September of 2010. Here is a portion of that article:

Grover founded the Islamic Free Market Institute (referred to as Islamic Institute) with Khaled Saffuri in 1998. The Safa Trust donated at least $35,000, and the International Institute of Islamic Thought contributed $11,000. Both organizations were alleged to be part of the so-called SAAR Network of interrelated business and non-profit entities with ties to sources of terrorism financing, and were among the subjects of a March 20, 2002 raid conducted by the U.S. Custom Service under the auspices of Operation Green Quest.


On September 26, 2001, President Bush gathered 15 prominent Muslim and Arab Americans at the White House. Bush proclaimed that “the teachings of Islam are teachings of peace and good.” He also stated that Christians and Muslims “worship the same God.” Norquist had arranged this meeting with these Islamic supremacists to get the President to show how Muslims rejected terrorism. Bush allowed this meeting because he trusted Norquist who had vouched for the Muslim leaders. Grover Norquist, is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC. The Conservative Political Action Committee was founded in 1973 and features establishment republican speakers such as Limbaugh, Reagan, Palin, etc. This would seem to be one of the top reasons Bush would trust Norquist’s judgment.

Yet, Norquist had formed alliances with prominent Islamic radicals who have ties to both the Saudis and to Libya and to Palestine Islamic Jihad and who are now under indictment by U.S. authorities.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Athens Dearer Than Berlin for Expatriates, Report

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 13 — Athens is the world’s 78th most expensive city for non-locals, among 214 cities, as daily Kathimerini reports quoting human resources consultants Mercer.

Although the Greek capital is cheaper today than in the past due to the decline in rental rates, it remains more expensive than Berlin, which ranks 106th and is seen as the most attractive among the European metropolises. A telling example of prices in Athens is that of served coffee, which in Athens averages out at 4.70 euros, while in Berlin it costs 4.18 euros. This has been affected by the increase in the value-added tax rate in Greece.

The world’s most expensive city is Tokyo, according to the Mercer list. The study is addressed mostly to multinational companies who calculate the daily costs for their employees stationed abroad.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Bulgaria: Nationalists Rally Against Sofia Mosque Loudspeakers

Two Bulgarian far-right nationalist parties — Ataka (Attack) and VMRO staged Thursday the latest protest against the volume of the loudspeakers of Sofia’s Banya Bashi mosque.

About 100 activists and supporters of the parties gathered across the building of the City Hall in downtown Sofia under the sounds of patriotic songs. The meeting has official permit for the time and the location and must end by 2 pm. The municipal counselor from VMRO, Angel Dzhambazki, addressed the rally, saying the noise during the Friday Muslim prayer is challenging tolerance and public order. Ataka leader, Volen Siderov, noted that there is a petition, launched as early as 2006, already having over 30 000 signatures against the laud noise. He appealed to the City Hall to adhere to the public order decree. Ataka have also sent an open letter to the City Hall asking for a ban to use the space outside the mosque for religious rites.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Islam in Germany: “Germany Does Away With Itself”

by Soeren Kern

German President Joachim Gauck recently said in a newspaper interview that Muslims living in Germany are a part of the country, but that Islam is not. The comments — Gauck is the ninth prominent German politician to voice an opinion about Islam — have sparked a new round in the on-going debate over the role of Islam and Muslim immigrants in Germany.

During a May 31 interview with the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Gauck was asked about a quote from the previous German president, Christian Wulff, who during a keynote speech to mark the 20th anniversary of German reunification in October 2010, proclaimed that “Islam belongs in Germany” because of the four million Muslims who now live there. Germany has Western Europe’s second-biggest Islamic population after France, with Turks the single biggest minority.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy: Police Make Mega-Seizure of Fake Organic Soya

Ravenna, 14 June (AKI) — More than 1,700 tons of soya destined to be falsely sold as organic was seized Thursday by Italian police.

The finance police said tests were able to determine the soya came from eastern Europe. The soya had twice the limit of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as allowed by food regulations.

About 1,200 tons of the soya was impounded in the eastern Adriatic city of Ravenna, while police traced and seized the rest in various Italian locations.

In December, police in Verona arrested six people accused of selling 700 thousand tons of fake organic food, corresponding to 10 percent of Italy’s market, sold for 220 million euros.

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

Italy: Lombard Health Probe: 30 Investigated, Hospitals Searched

(AGI) Milan — The General Manager of the Lombard Health Board, Carlo Lucchina, has been questioned by Financial Police. As part of a health inquiry, searches have also been carried out at the Niguarda Hospitals in Milan, Lecco, Busto Arsizio and Saronno by some seventy officers from the Special Financial Police Unit in Milan. Around thirty people are suspected of crimes such as incitement, bid-rigging, leaking confidential information and peculation. The inquiry is being coordinated by Assistant Prosecutor Francesco Greco and Public Prosecutor Carlo Nocerino.

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

Italy: Man Jailed for 20 Months for Stealing Two Crates of Tomatoes

Lecce, 14 June (AKI) — A judge in southern Italy has sentenced a man to 20 months in jail for stealing two crates of tomatoes worth 100 euros, the Gazetta del Mezzogiorno reported on Thursday.

Prosecutors in the southern Italian city of Lecce had asked for a prison term of four years for 30-year-old Daniele Carlino, who was previously known to police.

Carlino took the two crates of tomatoes from a local farmer’s van in the village of Racale near Lecce in July last year after threatening the farmer and drove off with them but was identified from descriptions by eye-witnesses.

In a failed attempt to avoid prison, Carlino sent 100 euros to the farmer during the investigation that led to his trial and conviction, the daily reported.

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

Italy: Anti-Corruption Bill Approved by House

Controversy over when bar on criminals will come into force

(ANSA) — Rome, June 14 — An anti-corruption bill that aims to keep criminals out of Italy’s political life was approved by the House amid controversy on Thursday and now passes to the Senate.

The fact that the bill does not bar people who have received a definitive criminal sentence from being MPs until after next year’s elections has sparked polemics.

Justice Minister Paola Severino has said the government will try to improve the bill during its passage through the Senate.

A number of lawmakers from various parts of the political spectrum have been embroiled in corruption cases recently.

The bill does bar people convicted of extremely serious crimes, such as involvement in organised crime and terrorism, from standing at next year’s elections. After going through three confidence votes to speed its passage, the bill passed its final hurdle in the House on Thursday with 354 votes in favour, 25 against and 102 abstentions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Finmeccanica Shares Fly on Buffet Rumours

American magnate reportedly mulling stake

(ANSA) — Milan, June 15 — Shares in Italian aerospace, defence and engineering conglomerate Finmeccanica flew up on the Milan stock exchange Friday on rumours that American magnate Warren Buffett was thinking of taking a stake along with other US investment funds.

The shares were suspended because of volatility, when they were showing a theoretical rise of 7.68%, before being readmitted to trading with a rise of 7.46%.

Trading was very brisk with 13 million shares changing hands, five times the daily average for the group and equivalent to 2.2% of its capital.

Finmeccanica, Italy’s second-biggest industrial group behind Fiat, is controlled by the Italian Treasury, which has a 32.44% stake.

It operates in seven sectors — aeronautics, helicopters, space, defence and security electronics, defence systems, energy and transportation — and has offices in 100 countries.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Norway: Experts Defend Breivik Schizophrenia Diagnosis

Two experts who examined Anders Behring Breivik defended on Thursday their diagnosis that the Norwegian self-confessed mass killer is psychotic and therefore not criminally responsible for his actions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swiss Hold Referendum Referendum

Switzerland holds a referendum this weekend on whether to have yet more referendums in a country already famous for its high levels of direct democracy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Together at Last: Pam Geller and the English Defence League

In 2010, Pam Geller announced a “Global Freedom Initiative” of anti-Islam activists. Not much followed, but in January of this year she promised a “a new global force”, called Stop Islamization of Nations, to bring together European and American “Stop Islamization” franchises. Now, yet another umbrella organisation has been unveiled, finally cementing her stormy on-off relationship with the English Defence League


[Reader comment by QM on 14 June 2012 at 8:21 pm.]

Yet the EDL are still doing more to counter Islamic extremism than the left. No wonder their support grows.

[Reader comment by amaros on 14 June 2012 at 10:53 pm.]

“For that matter, QM, where is the evidence (ie NOT anything that *they* say) that EDL support is “growing”?? It still looks like the same old knuckle-dragging bunch of football hooligans and petty crims to me.”

The problem is that it was solely the EDL 2 years ago who started to talk about Infidel young girls being gang raped, groomed and pimped by Pakistani Muslim gangs. The police later admitted to covering it up. The media admitted (and some like the Guardian still do) to playing it safe by not identifying the perpetrators as Muslims. Today we know of these cases as some have started going to court and convictions came as a result. I am afraid that in the UK the EDL was necessary to bringing this forth. When they did they were called racist conspiracy theorists agitating for violence against the religion of peace.

If the UK State wants to end the EDL (and I do not wish for bands of fists to enact policy or to be necessary to safeguard society from enemies) they should start acting like a government instead of some multiculturalist political correctness office and defend their citizens who pay them the taxes to do so. Unfortunately they just started to drop little drops in the bucket. It took until the year 2012 that the United Kingdom made forced marriages of under aged British Citizens illegal. After decades of Sharia courts (about 80 of them) operating on British soil enforcing gender apartheid, defending and abbeiting wife beating and financial dispossession of female heirs to inheritance. No wonder that the EDL was born. DUH is the short answer.

When I studied chemistry in college I learned of the Le Chatelier Principle which states that any introduction to a system causing imbalance in that system will be met with a counter reaction by the system until balance is once again restored. Well watch the balance and defend it as otherwise EDLs will emerge in every EU state tired of its leaders who impose Muslim dogmas onto their typically poor citizens expecting no response due to their lack of influence and resources. This is what causes thuggish groups like the EDL to be born. This is why it is easy to dismiss them as brutes and thugs by those who live in wealthy white neighbourhoods dreaming about a multicultural paradise which they never have to live with beyond visiting an ethnic restaurant.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Crackdown on Suspected Internet Paedophiles

A nationwide crackdown is under way to trap child sex offenders.

West Midlands Police have raided six addresses as part of an operation co-ordinated by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop). Over the last two days 35 officers have raided properties of known and suspected paedophiles in Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell and Dudley. Dozens of people have been arrested and more than 20 children have been safeguarded and protected from abuse. Among those arrested were a 47-year-old man in Wolverhampton, a 37-year-old man in Dudley and a 38-year-old man in Sandwell, all on suspicion of downloading indecent images of children.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Do You Know These Men? Police Release Pictures of Gang Who Attacked Students on 142 Bus in Withington

Police have released CCTV images of a gang who viciously beat two students as they travelled on the top deck of a bus. The two men, both students, were set upon as they travelled on the 142 bus through Withington. Police believe at least one of the attackers was also a university student — and have been working with campus bosses to track them down. They have now released pictures of three attackers, all Asian men in their 20s, believed to be behind the attack. The incident happened in early hours of January 11, this year.The two victims and a friend fell into a conversation with a group of five Asian men on the late night service. But three of the men launched an unprovoked attack on the group, punching and kicking one of the victims as he lay helpless on the ground. One 22-year-old student suffered a cut on his eye and required surgery. His friend, 21, sustained a bloody nose.

Det Con Dominic Heslop, investigating, said: “We believe at least one of the offenders is a student at the Manchester Metropolitan University, based on conversations between the two groups. Although it has been several months since this incident, both victims were badly affected by what happened and our inquiries will continue until we have identified all those involved. I also want to stress that of the five involved, we believe two played no part in actually physically assaulting either victims, and in fact witnesses have told us that one of the group was overheard saying: ‘I told you not to do it’. I want to appeal to that person or person in the group directly: If you were involved in the assaults and tried to talk your friends out of it, then you need to come forward and speak to us.”

Anyone with information should call police on 0161 856 4221 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111

[JP note: A high Mohammed Coefficient is more than likely.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Jury Discharged in Brierfield Child Sexual Grooming Case

THE jury in the case of six Brierfield men said to have sexually exploited and abused a 14 year old girl has been discharged. Judge Beverley Lunt yesterday discharged the jury three days into a trial at Burnley Crown Court. Mohammed Imran Amjad, 25, of Halifax Road, has denied allegations of child abduction, rape, sexual activity with a child,aiding or abetting rape, aiding or abetting sexual activity with a child, aiding or abetting sexual assault, intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence and witness intimidation. Shiraz Afzal, 25, of Mansfield Crescent, has pleaded not guilty to aiding or abetting rape and aiding or abetting sexual activity with a child. Omar Mazafer, 21, of Halifax Road, has denied aiding or abetting rape and aiding or abetting sexual activity with a child. Mohammed Suleman Farooq, 22, of Berry Street, has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault, sexual activity with a child and witness intimidation. Mohammed Zeeshan Amjad, 24, of Halifax Road, has denied rape and sexual activity with a child. Haroon Mahmood, 21, of John Street, has pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual activity with a child.

A CPS spokesman said: “Following the commencement of the trial a number of issues arose which led to the Crown Prosecution Service asking for the jury to be discharged and a new trial date to be set. “The court granted that request and the trial will be heard at a later date.” Trial has been rescheduled for next March.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Man and Woman From Burnley Arrested for Online Sex Abuse

TWO people from Burnley were arrested as part of a national crackdown on online sex abuse involving children. On June 12th and 13th Lancashire Constabulary joined other police forces to work with Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) to tackle the problem of criminals making, possessing or distributing indecent images of children. A 46-year-old man from Burnley was arrested on suspicion of possessing and distributing indecent images of children and has been released on bail pending further inquiries, and a 30-year-old woman from Burnley was arrested on suspicion of distributing indecent images. She has also been released on bail pending further inquiries. During the two days of action officers executed warrants at suspects’ addresses and seized computers and other potential evidence. Nine people were arrested in total, including suspects from Blackpool, Surrey, Thornton, Cumbria, and Barnoldswick.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Plan Operation for EDL’s Bristol March

A security operation costing up to £1m and involving 700 police officers is being organised ahead of an English Defence League (EDL) march in Bristol.

The EDL will hold the march on 14 July — the same day as the city’s gay community holds its annual Pride festival at College Green in the city. Police have said their aim is to ensure both events are trouble free and there is protection for the public. EDL has said it has a right to march and that it will be a peaceful event. The police operation will involve drafting in officers from Yorkshire, south Wales and the south of England. Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police Colin Port said: “The English Defence League will march and at the moment we are trying to make contact with the people who are going to protest against them. “We’re going to open meetings because we don’t know what they’re going to do, but we want them to work with them.” EDL’s demonstration is set to be at Castle Park which is less than a mile away from College Green.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Paedophile Ring ‘Held Sex Parties at Country Farmhouse’

A Household Cavalry soldier and his wife were among those at the centre of a paedophile ring that held sex parties at a country farmhouse, a court heard.

Simon Davies and his wife Fiona Parsons-Davies admitted child abuse charges along with the owner of the remote chalet, sheep farmer Nicholas Cordery, 62. Two other men, Peter Malpas and Anthony Flack, also pleaded guilty to sex offences against children at Reading Crown Court. The court heard the five had been part of a group that abused girls as young as eight at the building where police found sex toys alongside teddy bears. Childminder Joanna Gale and rail industry consultant John Connolly were also alleged to have been involved. The pair deny sex charges against children between May 2010 and December 2011. “This case is about the sexual abuse of children by a number of people who met on the internet,” said Christopher Donnellan QC, prosecuting.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Standing Up for the Queen’s English

Once upon a time there was a group of Trotskyites called the Revolutionary Communist Party. Over the years, they started sounding less revolutionary, not quite so communist and stopped being a party. Instead, they fanned-out across the chattering classes, popping up in all sorts of unexpected places. Some of the best-known names include Frank Furedi of sociology fame, Claire Fox of Radio 4’s Moral Maze and the journalist Brendan O’Neill. Oddly enough, this lot have many admirers on the right — thanks to their habit of making leftwing arguments for what appear to be rightwing causes.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Venice’s Eternal Battle Against Water

Slowly but surely, Venice is sinking. The city has battled the water ever since it was founded 1,600 years ago in a marshy lagoon. Now it’s working on a gigantic project to prevent the floods that threaten its future — but experts are divided over whether it will work.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Court Dissolves Egyptian Parliament; Army Takes Over; Civil War?

By Barry Rubin

The Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court has just invalidated the parliamentary election there. The parliament, 75 percent of whose members were Islamists, is being dissolved. The military junta has taken over total authority. The presidential election is still scheduled for a few dozen hours from now.

In short, everything is confused and everything is a mess. All calculations are thrown to the wind. What this appears to be is a new military coup. What is the underlying theme? The armed forces concluded that an Islamist takeover was so dangerous for Egypt and for its own interests that it is better to risk civil war, a bloodbath, and tremendous unpopularity than to remain passive and turn over power. I believe this decision was made very reluctantly and not out of some lust for power by the generals. They have decided that they had no choice.

Yes, it is under legal cover, but nobody is going to see it as a group of judges — appointed by former President Hosni Mubarak, remember — looking deep into the law books and coming up with a carefully reasoned decision based on precedent. In theory, this will be seen by every Islamist — whether Salafi or Muslim Brotherhood — and by most of the liberals — who feel closer to the Islamists than to the government — as if the 2011 revolution has just been reversed. In preparation, the army prepared a new regulation allowing itself arrest anyone.

Prediction: massive violence…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Forces Surround Parliament in Egypt, Escalating Tensions

CAIRO — Egypt’s military rulers formally dissolved Parliament Friday, state media reported, and security forces were stationed around the building on orders to bar anyone, including lawmakers, from entering the chambers without official notice.

The developments, reported on the Web site of the official newspaper Al Ahram, further escalated tensions over court rulings on Thursday that invalidated modern Egypt’s first democratically elected legislature. Coming on the eve of a presidential runoff this weekend, they thrust the nation’s troubled transition to democracy since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak last year into grave doubt.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that dominates the Parliament, disputed the court’s ruling and its authority to dissolve the legislature. Saad el Katatni, the Brotherhood-picked Parliament speaker, accused the military-led government on Friday of orchestrating the ruling.

The timing also seemed like a transparent attempt to undermine the Islamists just as Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood is set to compete in the presidential runoff election against Ahmed Shafik, a former air force general and Mr. Mubarak’s last prime minister. But the Brotherhood issued a statement Friday exhorting its followers to go to the polls and “isolate the representative of the former regime through the ballot box.”

The authorities set up checkpoints overnight and contingents of riot police were moving around the city to prepare for any disturbances.

The rulings on Thursday by the Supreme Constitutional Court, a panel of judges appointed by Mr. Mubarak, both dissolved the Parliament and allowed the toppled government’s last prime minister to run for president, intensifying a struggle by remnants of the old elite to block Islamists from coming to power.

The military rulers did not issue a statement on the court’s decision. But the Web site of the state newspaper Al Ahram reported that the generals said the presidential runoff would still take place on schedule and that the military rulers would assume the legislative responsibilities of Parliament after the election. The rulings recalled events that have played out across the region for decades, when secular elites have cracked down on Islamists poised for electoral gains, most famously when the dissolution of Algeria’s Islamist-led Parliament started a civil war 20 years ago.

Citing a misapplication of rules for independent candidates, the court sought to overturn the first democratically elected Parliament in more than six decades and the most significant accomplishment of the Egyptian revolt. Many analysts and activists said Thursday that they feared the decision was a step toward re-establishing a military-backed autocracy, though it was not yet clear whether the military leadership was willing to risk a new outbreak of unrest by suppressing the country’s most powerful political forces.

“From a democratic perspective, this is the worst possible outcome imaginable,” said Shadi Hamid, research director of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. “This is an all-out power grab by the military.”

If the ruling is carried out, whoever wins the presidential race would take power without the check of a sitting Parliament and could exercise significant influence over the elections to form a new one. The new president will also take office without a permanent constitution to define his powers or duties. A 100-member constitutional assembly appointed by Parliament and including dozens of lawmakers may also be dissolved. And in any event, the ruling generals are expected to issue their own interim charter during the drafting…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: UGTT Secretary Demands Intervention of Armed Forces

For normal security situation in country, Abassi

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 15 — The Tunisian armed forces must intervene to restore security to the country after the recent wave of violence. This is according to Houcine Abassi, the secretary of the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT), the country’s most important central trade union. Abassi was speaking in an interview with Radio Shems last night.

The UGTT offices were among the targets attacked by Salafists during the recent trouble, both in Tunis and in other towns across the country, with union leaders calling on senior officials and members to hold sit-ins to protect the buildings. Abassi announced that the UGTT will present a scheme to end the difficult situation, presenting it to the government, political parties and civil society.

“This initiative will allow Tunisia to continue along the road of development,” he said. “Our country needs a unifying initiative. It is a target that is certainly difficult to reach, but not impossible if all efforts are made”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Only 5% Cancellations From Abroad, Ministry

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 15 — Since the start of the year only 5% of foreign tourists have cancelled their travel plans to Tunisia, said Tunisia’s Tourism Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh. While speaking during a TV broadcast, the minister called the figure “relatively low”. Fakhfakh also answered questions on the impact that measures such as the curfews that have been imposed (after violence flared in many Tunisian cities) may have on tourism, as soon as news of the measures arrive abroad. His remarks were clear: no one will be happy if measures are adopted that limit personal freedoms, but first and foremost the government must focus on the safety of the Tunisian people. Continuing to talk about the subject, Fakhfakh said that 99% of Tunisians are moderates who are devoted to their Arab-Islamic identity. He asked the media not to aggravate what is taking place by over-generalising.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Interior Ministry Authorises Police to Shoot

Law on weapon use modified today

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 15 — A new law grants Tunisian police greater discretion to make use of their weapons, even shooting directly at people if attacked. Since the early morning hours of today, a massive police presence has been deployed in Tunis’s main areas to coincide with the Friday community prayer. The new regulation is a modification of the 1969 law on the use of weapons by police, brought in to contrast “any cases of violence or destruction”. The new regulation establishes four different “degrees”: shooting in the air to intimidate, shooting at the ground in warning, shooting at individuals’ feet as a partial intervention and direct shots. The latter is to be used “only in the case of extreme violence or the protection of police, citizens or state institutions in imminent danger.” The decision by Interior Minister Ali Laraayedh (leading member of the confessional party Ennahdha), has come after the extremely harsh polemics which arose over the past few days on the lack of directives for the police involved in quelling rioting. The polemics had been fanned by the police themselves, who complained that at the most crucial moments of the rioting they had not acted with the necessary harshness and timeliness out of a fear of not complying with the regulations for public order. It should be taken into consideration that Fahmi Ouni, a young Salafi student who died in Sousse on Tuesday during the rioting, was killed by a policeman’s bullet after it ricocheted off the ground.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Government Bans Islamist Marches

The Tunisian government has banned a series of marches planned for today by hardline Islamists and rival groups citing concerns of possible violence in the country, which is grappling with rising religious tension as it struggles to emerge from years of secular dictatorship. The announcement by the Interior Ministry comes as Tunisians are still reeling from clashes earlier this week between police and religious youth in the capital and other cities after protests erupted over an art exhibit that hardline Islamists alleged was blasphemous.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Dreamy Foreign Policies

With her unbridled hostility towards Israel, the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton provides us with an abject lesson in what happens when a government places its emotional aspirations above its national interests.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel, many of Israel’s elite have aspired to be embraced by Europe. In recent years, nearly every government has voiced the hope of one day seeing Israel join the EU.

To a significant degree, Israel’s decision to recognize the PLO in 1993 and negotiate with Yasser Arafat and his deputies was an attempt by Israel’s political class to win acceptance from the likes of Ashton and her continental comrades. For years the EU had criticized Israel for refusing to recognize the PLO.

Until 1993, Israel’s leaders defied Europe because they could tell the difference between a national interest and an emotional aspiration and preferred the former over the latter. And now, Israel’s reward for preferring European love to our national interest and embracing our sworn enemy is Catherine Ashton…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

IDF Radio Host: ‘Islam is the Most Terrible Disease in the World’

Loonwatch draws our attention to a comment made by one Avri Gilad on a talk show he hosts on the Israel Defense Forces station Army Radio, during a discussion about the current violent racist backlash against black African migrants in Israel. Gilad stated:

… let us not forget that those knocking on our doors belong to Islam, and Islam today is the most terrible disease raging around the world. It poisons its believers and poisons every place it reaches. The people that come here, especially the South Sudanese, are very moderate people, the real beautiful face of Islam … the problem is that when you carry the virus, you don’t know when it will explode inside you … every Muslim who enters here might become the flag carrier of the global Islam … and therefore we must take care of our lives.

The right-wing anti-migrant campaign in Israel provides other examples of how Islamophobia overlaps with more conventional racism.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

75mln New Jobs Needed by 2022, Study Reveals

Youth unemployment number one problem

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, JUNE 12 — Youth unemployment in the Arab world requires immediate action by the large entrepreneurs and employers, a report by the consulting company Booz&Company reveals.

The research shows that in the next ten years the Arab world will need to create at least 75 million new jobs with a 40% increase compared to current figures. Observers declare that social problems deriving from high unemployment rates has played a determining role in the development of the Arab Spring which crossed over into many countries in North Africa and is now going on in many parts of the Arab world including the states in the Persian Gulf.

According to the study by Booz&Co, the great firms, sometimes more so than the governments, do have the resources to create jobs. For this reason, an environment which is favourable to making business could cut down on the unemployment rates.

According to the Aon Hewitt 2012 People risk Index, Dubai (29) is the first country in the Mideast zone and North Africa (MENA) with the lowest risk for employers, followed by Doha, 42nd in the general list, Muscat (47) and Manama (49). The index risk has been valued taking into account the difficulty which the companies have to go through to sign up, employ and de-localize in 131 cities all around the world. The last names in the list are Baghdad (129), Sanaa (130) and Damascus (131).

Several factors have been taken into account, such as the government politics regarding the labour market and the ease with which one can hire highly trained professionals.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: Talks With Russia on Post-Assad Era in Syria

We could give “means of communication” to rebels, Fabius

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, has this morning spoken of “talks with Russia on the post-Assad era” in Syria. Fabius told the radio station France Inter that his government is considering providing “means of communication” to the Syrian rebels.

Russia, an ally of Damascus, plays a crucial role in the long and bloody Syrian crisis, and has been accused in recent days by the US of providing fighter helicopters for the Syrian government, an accusation that Moscow has dismissed.

The Italian Foreign Minister, Giulio Terzi, revealed yesterday that a feeling is growing in Moscow that its attitude towards Damascus must change, while the French President, François Hollande, who was visiting Rome, called for further sanctions and strengthening of the UN mission led by Kofi Annan, in the hope of finding a solution shared with Russia.

Beyond diplomatic efforts, another solution to the conflict would be “the clear victory of the opposition”, Fabius said in his radio interview this morning. “For this we have the Kofi Annan plan. His idea, which the Americans have carried out, and that we might also oversee, is to give not weapons but further means of communication [to the rebels]”.

Fabius added that the rebellion is gaining consensus among the Syrian population. “We have indications suggesting that whole significant groups of the population, who at the start were not hostile to Assad, are now becoming so,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Sharia Law From the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World

Sadakat Kadri’s book looks at development of Islamic from the time of the Prophet to modern Muslim world.

There are 50 Muslim-majority states in the world; 11 of them, including Egypt, have constitutions that acknowledge Islam as a source of national law. In Heaven on Earth, Sadakat Kadri, an English barrister and New York attorney, provides a much-needed and highly readable overview of Islamic legal history and an entertaining survey of the state of Islamic law today, full of fascinating anecdotes.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UAE Considers Crack Down on Skimpy Dressers

Authorities in Abu Dhabi are considering introducing a national law that would enforce a dress code in public places within the UAE.

The debate about preventing skimpy attire being worn in shopping malls and on the streets has recently been brought to the fore by various campaign groups. The issue has also been fiercely debated in the social media. The proposed law is currently with the cabinet after a recommendation from the Federal National Council (FNC) was backed by Dr Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, on Tuesday. The politicians involved have so far agreed that expatriate residents are most likely to walk around in inappropriate clothing, rather than tourists. “In the UAE we are a conservative society. We hold on to our traditions. I speak as the head of the national tourism council and our powers are limited”, said Dr Al Owais, reported in the newspaper The National. “I agree with the idea of a federal law but it depends on the Cabinet.” The law was proposed by FNC member Hamad Al Rahoumi, who referenced the ban on the wearing of veils in France while doing so. “If these policies have no law behind them, then how are they [offenders] punished?” he asked. “In some countries they do not allow a face veil or a headscarf. We must also have laws to organise our dress code here. Gaurav Sinha, managing director of the Dubai travel-branding company Insignia, said the problem was not that expatriates disrespected the local culture but that they were unaware of the policies in place. Certain public places already apply their own dress codes for entrance.

[Reader comment by mckevvy on 15 June 2012 at 12:21 AM.]

So what you’re saying that when visiting a foreign land then respect and obey their culture — does that apply to visitors here too? Why have we got women dressed as black letterboxes here in the UK?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Are Young Muslim Girls Children of a Lesser God?

To break free from the shackles of backwardness, community leaders should question the HC judgment that legitimises a 15-year-old girl’s marriage

When the phenomenally regressive Delhi High Court judgment was passed on 9 May stating that a 15-year-old Muslim girl’s marriage was legal, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) was the first to hail it. If it enthuses the AIMPLB so much that a girl, who should ideally be going to school and learning life skills, is pushed into matrimony in order to harness her fertility at the first biological opportunity, then what business does it have to complain about Muslims being backward?


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India Protest Over ‘Unfair Targeting of Muslims’

Civil rights activists in India have held a protest against the “unfair targeting of Muslims in the name of fighting terror”.

Protest organiser Shabnam Hashmi said scores of Muslim boys and men were being held in jail on false charges. Muslims no longer felt safe even in their own homes, she said.

The activists had planned a protest outside Home Minister P Chidambaram’s house, but they were detained by the police on the way to the venue. They were later released.

“We are not saying do not arrest those involved in terror activities. But do not pick up everyone. Do not pick up innocents,” Ms Hashmi told the BBC.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tens of Thousands Flee Myanmar Unrest

A senior Myanmar official has said that attacks between ethnic Buddhists and Muslims have displaced over 30,000 people in the west of the country. Some worry the unrest will stunt Myanmar’s progress toward democracy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Japanese Police Arrest Last Gas Attack Fugitive

Police in Japan have arrested the last suspect still on the run after a deadly poison gas attack carried out by a doomsday cult on the Tokyo subway 17 years ago. His arrest marks the end of a massive manhunt.

Japanese police on Friday captured the last fugitive suspected of involvement in deadly nerve gas attacks carried out by a religious cult on Tokyo’s subway in 1995.

Police and media said Katsuya Takahashi was detained near a comic-book café in the south of Tokyo. Jiji Press said he was formally arrested on suspicion of murder and other charges.

His capture brings to an end a police hunt for those behind the attacks, in which 13 people were killed and thousands injured after poisonous sarin gas was released on five Tokyo subway trains.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

With the New Asia Strategy Comes a New Sense of Modesty

Asia’s economic rise is shifting the world’s political balance. At a recent conference in Berlin, a panel discussed the implications for Germany and Europe. One thing was clear — modesty is in order.

“Politics begins with a sense of reality.” These were big words spoken by Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Wednesday in Berlin. About 10 minutes later, he warned that although Germany might be important in Europe, it was comparatively less influential on the global scale.

The fact that the title of the congress spoke of “Asia’s new powers” was a sign of respect for countries that used to be categorized as “developing” — China and India, for example, but also Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

This new sense of modesty comes from the awareness not only that India and China are rapidly catching up with the industrialized world in economic terms but that they and other regional powers are becoming more influential on the global political stage.

Westerwelle cited a series of statistics: GDP per capita has tripled in Asia since 1999 and the Chinese middle class is growing by some 15 million people every year. He pointed out that the continent’s young populations meant growth was considerably more dynamic than in aging Europe.

In 1900, 21 percent of the global population lived in Europe but experts expect only 7.6 percent to be living on the continent by 2050. Europe’s share of trade and investment is also shrinking.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Climate Change or Tectonic Shifts?

The Mystery of the Sinking South Pacific Islands

Environmentalist organizations have used images from South Pacific islands to illustrate the disastrous effects of rising sea levels. But a group of French researchers has found that the problem is much more complicated: The islands are also being pulled under by shifting tectonic plates.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghana: Man Defiles Girl at Mosque, Jailed 15 Years

A Kumasi Circuit Court presided over by Emmanuel Amo Yartey has sentenced a 42-year-old ex-convict to 15 years’ imprisonment for defiling a 12-year-old girl in a mosque. Awudu Gariba, who pleaded guilty to the charge of defilement, contrary to section 101 of Act 39/60, claimed the little girl rather unzipped him and had sexual intercourse with him. Presenting the facts of the case to the court, Police Chief Inspector P.Y Bebli said the convict used to stay with the victim’s mother in the same house at Anloga, a suburb of Kumasi. The prosecutor said a few years ago, 42-year-old Gariba was ejected from the house and he decided to stay at the Anloga Mosque…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Euthanasia Rivals Slam Mercy ‘Propaganda’

Opponents of assisted dying have gathered in Zurich to hold an alternative conference to the three-day right-to-die conference currently underway. The pro-life organization, Human Life International, has responded to the bi-annual euthanasia meeting by staging its own conference in Zurich at the same time.

Both groups maintain that the central issue in the debate is one of dignity: Human Life International, together with the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, claims that “assisted suicide harms dignity”, while pro-euthanasia activists claim that assisted dying preserves dignity by giving people the right to determine their own end.

The conference of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies has attracted representatives from 55 countries.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Soccer: Cassano Apologises for Anti-Gay Remarks

Krakow, 13 June (AKI) — Antonio Cassano, a striker from the Italian national soccer team, apologised for making homophobic remarks.

“I sincerely regret that my statements have sparked controversy and protest from gay rights groups,” said the statement released late Tuesday on the official website of the Italian Football Federation.

During a press conference on Tuesday, a reporter asked Cassano to comment on an Italian newspaper report that their were gays on the national team.

“There’re fags on the team? It’s their problem. I hope that they are not really on the national team,” he said during the press conference in Krakow, Poland.

The Italian national team is competing in the Euro 2012 soccer tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

“Homophobia is a sentiment that is not mine. I did not want to offend anyone and I can not question the sexual freedom of other people,” he said in the statement apologising for his earlier remarks. “I only said that it is a problem that does not concern me and it is not for me to pass judgment on the choices of others, who are all respected.”

Cassano is more known for his temper than gaffes. His short temper led former coach Fabio Capello to coin the expression “Cassanata” meaning unteam like behaviour in soccer. Cassano, who turns 30 next month, in November underwent minor heart surgery.

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