Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120621

Financial Crisis
»Debt Crisis: Markets Bet Germany Will be Dragged Down With Everyone Else
»Ahmadiyya Islam’s Khalifa to Head 64th Annual U.S. Convention, 10,000 Expected to Attend
»CAIR Asks FBI to Probe Hate Blogger’s Call to Destroy Fla. Mosque
»‘Four Hours of Hell’ For New York-Bound Jet
»Instructor Sacked Over Anti-Islamic Class
»Report: U.S. Mosques ‘Healthy and Growing, ‘ Active in Interfaith and Outreach Activities
»Feeding Local Families
Europe and the EU
»Bulgarian Mayor Defends Imam Against Radical Islam Charges
»DM’s Kelvin Mackenzie Advocates UK Veil Ban
»Norway: Anders Behring Breivik Trial Nears End With Closing Arguments
»Sweden: Terror Alert as Explosives Found Near Nuclear Power Plant
»Swiss Professional Footballer ‘Philippe Senderos’ Converts to Shia Islam
»UK: 1D’s Zayn Branded a ‘Pimp’ For Islam
»UK: Couple ‘Planned to Bomb Manchester Jewish Area’, Court Hears
»UK: Face of the Fiend Who Ran Child Sex Empire: Father Convicted of 30 Rapes
»UK: London? We’re Just an Offshore Colony of the UAE
»UK: Muslim Pair Accused of Planning Jihad Bomb Attack on Jews in Britain
»UK: Mothers Stage Sit-in at Stockwell Primary School Over Poster on Girls’ Mutilation
»UK: Terror Accused Shasta Khan Denies Jihad Plan at Oldham Home
North Africa
»Tunisia Arrests Official After Riots Over ‘Un-Islamic’ Art
Israel and the Palestinians
»5 Million Palestine Refugees Are Registered in Total in 2012
Middle East
»Cheating Widespread at Kuwait University
»Erdogan the Misogynist
»Lebanon: Freed Islamists Slam Their Detention Without Trial
»Review: Islam and the Arab Awakening [Tariq Ramadan]
»UAE’s Cultural Chasm May Benefit Islamists
»US-Backed Rebels Committing Christian Genocide in Syria
South Asia
»Afghanistan Expects $4 Billion in Aid Pledges at July Conference
»India in Race to Contain Untreatable Tuberculosis
»Suicide Attack on Checkpoint in Eastern Afghanistan Kills 3 US Soldiers, 18 Afghans
»Asylum-Seeker Boat Carrying 200 Capsizes Off Australia
»UK: Bogus Immigration Adviser Muhammed Shakoori Charged £700 for Two Letters
»UK: Theresa May Accused of Unacceptable and Regrettable Behaviour by Judge

Financial Crisis

Debt Crisis: Markets Bet Germany Will be Dragged Down With Everyone Else

by Jeremy Warner

Nobody ever got rich shorting Japanese government bonds, it is often said. Are those now aggressively shorting German bunds about to fall into the same trap?

To investors who think the ever more mountainous size of Japan’s national debt is eventually bound to end in fiscal disaster, shorting Japanese bonds has long seemed the closest thing to a certain bet the international capital markets are capable of. Yet J-bonds continue to defy the bears; just when you think yields can go no lower, they fall even more. However apparently illogical and damaging to economic redemption it might seem, government debt has remained the asset class of choice for the land of the setting sun.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Ahmadiyya Islam’s Khalifa to Head 64th Annual U.S. Convention, 10,000 Expected to Attend

Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the fifth Khalifatul Masih (the successor of the Messiah) for the world’s tens of millions of Ahmadi Muslims, will deliver keynote addresses over three days to an expected crowd of 10,000 Ahmadi Muslims during the Community’s 64th annual U.S. convention in Harrisburg, Penn. The three-day event will be held Friday, June 29 through Sunday, July 1.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

CAIR Asks FBI to Probe Hate Blogger’s Call to Destroy Fla. Mosque

(SOUTH FLORIDA, 6/20/12) — The South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFL) today called on the FBI to investigate a call by Pamela Geller, the leader of an anti-Muslim hate group, to demolish a mosque in that state. Geller, who appears as a regular guest on FOX News, posted an article on her blog, titled “Obama’s DOJ secretly drops terrorism charges in Taliban Case,” calling for a Florida Mosque to be demolished. This comes after the Department of Justice dropped charges against Irfan Khan, one of the defendants that was recently arrested and indicted on terrorism support charges.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

‘Four Hours of Hell’ For New York-Bound Jet

LAS VEGAS, NV — A mechanical failure sent a JetBlue plane careening wildly through the skies, sparking panic among the 155 people aboard the Las Vegas to New York flight.

Passengers said the plane lurched from side to side after its hydraulic system failed during “four hours of hell” on Sunday and described hearing a mechanical screeching shortly after takeoff.

Tom Mizer, one passenger, said, “People were getting sick. Some people were throwing up. There were a lot of people getting nauseous.”

He said one member of the crew walked down the aisle trying to keep passengers calm.

“[She said] Look at me — I’m smiling. If I was scared, you would know it. If I’m not scared, you don’t need to be.”

One of the pilots declared an emergency and radioed Las Vegas controllers that they were dealing with “quite a few things, but the initial thing is… we’ve lost two hydraulic systems.”

The plane was loaded with five hours’ worth of fuel. Because the A320 is incapable of dumping excess fuel, the pilots circled the area south of the Vegas Strip until it burned enough to allow the crippled plane to land safely.

Travis McGhie added, “The plane kind of felt out of control. It wasn’t able to balance itself, and the air was choppy.”

The side-to-side weaving was likely a sign that the pilots had lost lateral control, said Dave Esser, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.

An Airbus manual describes a double hydraulic failure as “improbable in operation.”

Esser said an Airbus has enough backup systems that the passengers were not in serious danger. “Even if everything failed, there would have been a way to manually land the aircraft,” he said.

The runway was closed for about 30 minutes until the aircraft was towed off the runway.

A replacement Airbus took got the passengers to New York eight hours late.

JetBlue confirmed the incident. The FAA is investigating.

[Return to headlines]

Instructor Sacked Over Anti-Islamic Class

The US military said on Wednesday “poor judgement” allowed an instructor to present inflammatory anti-Islamic material in a course for senior officers. The instructor has been removed from his teaching job at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, and the elective course will be redesigned, officials said, citing the results of a review ordered by the US military’s top officer, General Martin Dempsey. The course, entitled “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism,” had “portrayed Islam almost entirely in a negative way,” said Dempsey’s spokesman, Colonel Dave Lapan.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Report: U.S. Mosques ‘Healthy and Growing, ‘ Active in Interfaith and Outreach Activities

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — The second installment in a series of reports based on the U.S. Mosque Survey 2011 released today indicates that Islamic houses of worship are “healthy and growing” and are engaged in a high level of educational, interfaith and outreach activities. A coalition of major American Muslim and academic organizations sponsored the comprehensive study of mosques and the attitudes of mosque leaders in the United States from which the latest report, titled “The American Mosque 2011: Activities, Administration and Vitality of the American Mosque,” was compiled. To view the entire report, go to:


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Feeding Local Families

Local mosque celebrates five years of food bank program

The B.C. Muslim Association’s Al-Salaam mosque is celebrating five years of feeding local families. The association has been running a food bank out of the mosque on Canada Way since 2007 and is expected to distribute 42,000 pounds of food this year. “It’s amazing because when we started, it was only five families,” said Imaad Ali, the mosque’s community outreach director.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Bulgarian Mayor Defends Imam Against Radical Islam Charges

Mustafa Alikanov, Mayor of the southern Bulgarian town of Sarnitsa, has defended a local imam, who, alongside 12 other people was charged Monday with preaching radical Islam.

According to Alikanov, the accusations against Said Muutlu are unfounded and will have a negative impact on the tourist season in Sarnitsa. The Mayor of Sarnitsa told journalists Tuesday that the alleged head of the Bulgarian branch of the Al Waqf-Al Islami foundation was still delivering lectures and sermons at one of the three mosques in the town.

He said that Muutlu had always observed permissible limits, preaching the translated Quran. Alikanov stressed that officials from the US Embassy and of the Bulgarian Chief Mufti’s Office had visited Sarnitsa over a month ago to examine the case and had concluded that it was all about attempts at defamation. The Mayor insisted that the residents of the southern Bulgarian town stood firmly behind the imam and his sermons.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

DM’s Kelvin Mackenzie Advocates UK Veil Ban

Saturday’s Daily Mail carried a short piece by columnist Kelvin MacKenzie in which he described the veil ban in France as a ‘great success’, framing the garment as a choice tool for criminals, and suggests that a 2015 Conservative manifesto clause in support of a UK ban on the face veil would be a vote winner.


A recent study by researchers at Queen Mary College found that the criminalisation of face-veils in Europe had been set against the context of a “‘backlash’ against multiculturalism” and the place of Islam in Europe. MacKenzie’s rhetoric is indicative of this backlash and the excuses used by Europe’s political class to prohibit Muslim women from covering their faces with no regard for the irony of citing ‘liberty’ as a defence for the bans. Moreover, a study published last month by Irene Zempi of the University of Leicester found that the banning of the face veil in France had led to an increase in hostility towards veiled Muslim women in the UK. It is such rhetoric by the likes of MacKenzie that contributes to the climate of mistrust, fear and hostility towards Islam to which veiled Muslim women are increasingly exposed.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Norway: Anders Behring Breivik Trial Nears End With Closing Arguments

The trial of Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway last July, enters the final stretch on Thursday with the prosecutors’ call for him to be sent either to prison or to a mental hospital.

Prosecutors Svein Holden and Inga Bejer Engh are to begin presenting their much-awaited closing arguments at 1000 GMT, when they will reveal whether they want the court to find Breivik responsible or not for his actions. They will base their request on psychiatric evaluations of the 33-year-old right wing extremist which have sharply contradicted each other.

In the formal indictment presented in March, in which Breivik was charged with “acts of terror”, the two prosecutors called for him to be committed to psychiatric care but left the door open to change their minds if new information were to surface about his mental health.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Terror Alert as Explosives Found Near Nuclear Power Plant

Sweden has raised the security level at its nuclear power plants after explosives were found on a truck at the south-western Ringhals atomic power station. The government forensic agency said the “explosive materials”, which had no igniting device, were found during a routine check at an industrial site near the power plant yesterday. Police spokesman Tommy Nyman said today that they were investigating possible sabotage but had no suspects. Sweden has 10 nuclear reactors providing about half of the country’s electricity. There are four reactors at Ringhals, which is controlled by energy companies Vattenfall and E.ON.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Swiss Professional Footballer ‘Philippe Senderos’ Converts to Shia Islam

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — The Swiss professional footballer, Philippe Senderos who plays as a defender for the British Premier League club Fulham has embraced Islam and converted to the Shia Muslim religion. He declared his faith in Islam in the English city of Manchester, in an Islamic center dedicated to propagating the Islamic religion and the teachings of the Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them). Philippe Senderos formerly played for English football giants, Arsenal, and now plays for his country’s national team, Switzerland.

Philippe, a theology graduate, showed much interest in world religions and spent most of his time outside football reading up on religious matters before he embraced Islam. “I am very interested in world religions and read a lot of books about that subject”, Senderos once said in an interview with Arsenal Magazine. If I wasn’t playing football, I would probably have become a priest”, he added. Senderos has finally sought knowledge to his benefit and found guidance in the religion of Islam.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: 1D’s Zayn Branded a ‘Pimp’ For Islam

ONE Direction star Zayn Malik has been accused of “enticing jihad” and “pimping Islam” to young female fans in an outrageous online attack.

Right wing blogger Debbie Schlussel warned parents to “keep their daughters away” from the British boyband, currently on a sell-out US tour. The American claimed Zayn, 19, had posted tweets for fans about Ramadan and Allah.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Couple ‘Planned to Bomb Manchester Jewish Area’, Court Hears

A court has heard how a husband and wife “were in the early stages” of preparing bombs allegedly to blow up Manchester’s Jewish community. Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, pleaded guilty to planning terrorist attacks against Manchester’s Jews at an earlier hearing, which could not be reported for legal reasons. Now, Mohammed’s wife Shasta Khan, 38, from Oldham, is facing the same charge of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism and three counts of possessing information linked to al Qaeda likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Face of the Fiend Who Ran Child Sex Empire: Father Convicted of 30 Rapes

Shabir Ahmed, 59, led child sex exploitation ring of nine men who targeted vulnerable young girls in Rochdale and Oldham

He was jailed for 19 years last month following an 11-week trial

Ahmed — known to his victims by the nickname ‘Daddy’ — could not be named as he was awaiting trial on separate child rape charges

This is the leader of a child exploitation ring which befriended vulnerable teenage girls, plied them with alcohol and raped them.

Shabir Ahmed, 59, was jailed last month but can only now be identified, after he was convicted of 30 more horrific rapes in a separate trial.

The divorced father-of-four, known as ‘Daddy’, was the ringleader of a group of men who preyed on dozens of young girls in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, and then passed them around for sex.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: London? We’re Just an Offshore Colony of the UAE

by Richard Godwin


London? We’re just an offshore colony of the UAE

A curious detail has appeared on the Tube map. A diagonal line in the bottom right indicates that passengers (or customers, as they are now known) will soon be able to move from Emirates Greenwich Peninsula to Emirates Royal Docks by taking the Emirates Air Line. Thanks to the largesse of a well-known air carrier, also a soulholder in one of our football teams, London has a new cable car, £3.20 each way with an Oyster card, open from June 28.I say largesse. Mediumesse might be a better word. When Boris Johnson first mooted this dangling trans-Thames appendage, he promised it would be funded “entirely from private finance”. Emirates will contribute £36 million over 10 years of publicity. Only, at £60 million, this is the most expensive cable car ever, which is almost impressive when you considering cable cars are usually built on steep, snowy mountains rather than flat, drizzly cities. Johnson has had to apply to the European Union to make up some of the £24 million difference. The rest comes from the taxpayers of Emirates London.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Pair Accused of Planning Jihad Bomb Attack on Jews in Britain

Mohammed and Shasta Khan ‘driven by al-Qaida propaganda, took steps to mount terror attack with home-made explosive’

A Muslim couple were assembling components of a home-made bomb to attack Jewish neighbourhoods after becoming radicalised by al-Qaida propaganda on the internet, a court heard on Wednesday. Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, and his wife, Shasta, 38, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, bought substances and equipment from supermarkets to assemble an improvised explosive device to launch a terrorist attack after carrying out visits to potential Jewish targets in Manchester, the city’s crown court heard. Bobbie Cheema, the prosecutor, at Manchester crown court, said: “Perhaps it can be summarised this way: it was jihad at home. Between them they acquired substances, common or garden, that can be purchased in supermarkets, equipment and information of use that would help them to make explosives, and began the process of assembling an improvised explosive device.” The couple also carried out “multiple reconnaissance” trips to Jewish areas of Salford or Manchester, it was alleged. Behind their “apparent normality of daily life”, Khan, an unemployed car valeter, and his wife, a hairdresser, planned to carry out “jihad at home”, Cheema told the court. The couple were only stopped by chance after a minor domestic row led to police being called to their home in Oldham.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Mothers Stage Sit-in at Stockwell Primary School Over Poster on Girls’ Mutilation

A dozen women are staging a sit-in at a primary school in a row over an advice poster warning about the dangers of female genital mutilation. Lambeth Women’s Project is rejecting demands to leave the listed building, part of Stockwell Primary School and Children’s Centre, and is today on the sixth day of its occupation. Its action comes after relations with school chiefs and Lambeth council broke down over a loan — and accusations that it had left “sexually explicit material” lying around in areas where it could be seen by children. But the women say the material is actually a police-sponsored poster for services to help London girls at risk of female genital mutilation.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Terror Accused Shasta Khan Denies Jihad Plan at Oldham Home

An Oldham woman whose husband admitted planning terrorist attacks has been accused in court of trying to carry out “jihad at home”.

Shasta Khan, 38, has denied being involved with her husband’s plans to attack Bury’s Jewish community. At Manchester Crown Court, Mrs Khan denied engaging in preparation for terrorism and possessing information useful for terrorism. Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, pleaded guilty to the charges at an earlier hearing. Prosecutor Bobbie Cheema told the court the couple had become “radicalised by material found on the internet such as an al-Qaeda magazine called Inspire”.

‘Spill the beans’

“The aim [of the magazine] is to encourage Muslims to carry out violent holy war or jihad by mounting attacks in their own countries independent of any outside direction or association with any other person,” she said.


[JP note: BBC Manchester — not sufficiently important for the BBC’s national news.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tunisia Arrests Official After Riots Over ‘Un-Islamic’ Art

Tunisian authorities have detained the court officer who denounced an art exhibition as offensive to Islam last week and triggered a wave of riots by hardline Islamists, the official TAP news agency said. Mohamed Ali Bouaziz was arrested late Tuesday on charges of disrupting public order, the agency said, quoting a justice ministry official. He is accused of posting pictures of the paintings on Facebook and “breaching professional secrecy by declaring them an insult to Islam, triggering acts of vandalism and violence in several parts of the country.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

5 Million Palestine Refugees Are Registered in Total in 2012

Official statistical data estimated the Palestinian refugees’ numbers until January 1st, 2012 about 5.1 million refugees, according to UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) records. On the International Day of Refugees, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) released a statistical review on the current status of Palestinian Refugees, in which it revealed that “the Palestinian registered refugees totaled 5.1 million on 1/1/2012, of whom 40.0% in Jordan, 23.8% in Gaza Strip, 17.1% in the West Bank, 10.0% in Syria and 9.1% in Lebanon.”

PCBS stated that “the percentage of Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian territory of 2011, about 44% of the total population in the Palestinian territory, distributed about 30% in the West Bank and about 67 % in Gaza Strip.” The data indicated that 66 % of the Palestinians who were living in occupied Palestine in 1948 have been exiled, pointing out that the UN estimates in 1950 emphasized that the Zionist gangs had displaced and expelled about 957 thousands Palestinians from the territories controlled by occupation forces on the eve of 1948 war. PCBS also added that “the Palestinian Refugees are characterized as young population where 41.7% of them are under the age of 15 years for Palestinian refugees in Palestinian territory”, while “35.9% of Palestinian refugees in Jordan in 2007, and 33.1% for Palestinian refugees in Syria in 2009, while 30.4% for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in 2010.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Cheating Widespread at Kuwait University

KUWAIT: Sixty two percent of Kuwait University students admitted having previous experience in cheating, while 93 percent say that they had witnessed classmates cheat during exams, says a recent study published by the research department in the students affairs’ deanship. The study which is based on results of a survey featuring 158 students selected randomly from all of the KU’s faculties indicated most of the students believe that cheating is widespread. “Finding radical solutions to this problem requires several steps that include studies and other efforts to increase awareness regarding the importance of exams”, the head of the research department Tariq Dashty said.

Cheating incidents happen despite the fact that 86% of students are aware of the regulations and penalties as the survey shows. The study recommends seminars to discuss the negative effects of cheating on students’ collective studying process both on the short and long terms, as well as showing no tolerance in taking punitive measures against cheaters. Other solutions the study recommends include avoiding pop quizzes “which encourage unprepared students to cheat” as well as select questions that require students to use analytical skills in answering.

           — Hat tip: RR[Return to headlines]

Erdogan the Misogynist

Turkish Prime Minister Assaults Women’s Rights

For weeks, thousands of women have been protesting against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 58, after he announced his intention to crack down on abortions and Caesarean section births. Since then, a debate on the role of women in Turkey has erupted — but not for the first time.

‘I Don’t Believe in Equality’

It’s hard to say when exactly Erdogan threw away his opportunity to gain the support of the women’s movement.

In 2008, he gave a speech in the provincial city of Usak to commemorate International Women’s Day, in which he advised his “dear sisters” to have at least three, preferably five, children. After the speech, a Turkish daily suggested that perhaps Erdogan would like to see International Women’s Day renamed “International Childbirth Day.”

In 2010, he invited representatives of women’s organizations to the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul and confessed: “I don’t believe in equality between men and women.”

A year later, on International Women’s Day in 2011, Erdogan talked about violence against women and statistics stating that so-called honor killings had increased 14-fold in Turkey from 2002 to 2009. But that, said the premier, was only because more murders were being reported, and that there are basically few acts of violence against women.

A member of the audience says that she was “incredulous.” Erdogan’s speech was “simply misogynistic” and “intolerable window dressing,” she says. [..]

Take, for example, education. “We will raise a religious generation,” the prime minister said in the spring, just as his government was approving a new education reform. It increases compulsory school attendance from eight to 12 years, but this only seems progressive at first glance. Under the reform, parents can move their children to vocational schools, a category which also includes the religious Imam Hatip schools, after only four years. In fact, the last four years of compulsory education can even be completed in the form of correspondence courses.

Erdogan’s “religious generation” can already be pleased about a well-established infrastructure of faith today. His party, the AKP, has transformed the Presidency of Religious Affairs, the Diyanet, into a massive agency. Its €1.3 billion ($1.6 billion) budget is larger than the combined budgets of Turkey’s European Union, foreign, energy and environment ministries combined. There is now one mosque for every 350 people in Turkey — and one hospital for every 60,000.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Freed Islamists Slam Their Detention Without Trial

ROUMIEH, Lebanon: Some of the seven Lebanese Islamist detainees released Tuesday blasted judicial authorities for holding them for several years without trial. The detainees, who were released on bail, were arrested for alleged ties with the Al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam group which fought a deadly battle against the Lebanese Army in the summer of 2007 in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. Fourteen men were originally scheduled for release Tuesday but some foreigners among them were referred to the General Security for further processing, after which they will be released. Some other Lebanese due to be released Tuesday are also facing other, unrelated charges.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Review: Islam and the Arab Awakening [Tariq Ramadan]

Tariq Ramadan is a Professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford University, and the Director of the Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics in Doha, Qatar. He is not an uncontroversial figure, particularly in the U.S., where nothing related to Islam is without controversy, but he is without a doubt well-informed on issues relating to modern Islam and its relationship to Western culture. His new book, Islam and the Arab Awakening, attempts to make sense of the uprisings that began in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in late 2010.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UAE’s Cultural Chasm May Benefit Islamists

The show had everything Madonna’s fans could have wished for: erotic dancing, provocative outfits, a giant cross, bare-chested monks and a Hebrew prayer.

But for many Muslim Emiratis, the Queen of Pop’s first performance in the Gulf region earlier this month was just too much. “After Madonna, what next? The UAE’s reputation has been sullied, the people’s feelings were ignored and the call to respect our values were taken lightly,” wrote Twitter user Rashed Alshamsi, one comment in a rare public outpouring of criticism against the authorities for allowing the performance.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

US-Backed Rebels Committing Christian Genocide in Syria

Christians are being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community. According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

French Bishop Philip Tournyol Clos, a greek-Catholic Melkite Archimandrite, traveled through Syria and, according to the Holy See’s press agency, reported back that Western press was spreading disinformation about the real nature of the uprising in Syria and thereby prolonging and deepening the conflict. Reported Bishop Clos:

In Homs, “opposition forces have occupied two areas, Diwan Al Bustan and Hamidieh, where there are all the churches and bishoprics. The picture for us is utter desolation: the church of Mar Elian is half destroyed and that of Our Lady of Peace is still occupied by the rebels. Christian homes are severely damaged due to the fighting and completely emptied of their inhabitants, who fled without taking anything. The area of Hamidieh is still shelter to armed groups independent of each other, heavily armed and bankrolled by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. All Christians (138,000) have fled to Damascus and Lebanon, while others took refuge in the surrounding countryside. A priest was killed and another was wounded by three bullets.”

Mother Agnes Miriam of the Cross, Mother Superior of the Monastery of St. James at Qara in the Diocese of Homs, was interviewed (MP3) on Irish Radio this week where she confirmed that the opposition rebels in Syria were terrorizing Syria’s Christian community.

Asked whether it was the Free Syrian Army that was telling Christians to get out, Mother Agnes Miriam answered “yes…it was commander on the ground Abdel Salam Harba who decided that there was to be no more negotiations with Christians.” She said that Christians are being targeted because they are refusing to back the rebels and instead prefer to keep out of either side of the conflict. She said that the rebels are specifically targeting government troops in Christian areas and are taking Christians as human shields.

Shockingly, the once Catholic-friendly National Review, which to its credit broke the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung story that the Houla massacre was carried out by the rebels, published a piece by writers affiliated with Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum and the Israel-based GLORIA Center ridiculing the Catholic Mother Agnes Miriam as an Assad propagandist.

These “journalists” attacked Mother Agnes for asserting that the rebels were carrying out a foreign backed conspiracy to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. Should we wait for these two neo-conservatives to ridicule and attack the Wall Street Journal, which reported this week that:

“…the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department—working with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other allies—are helping the opposition Free Syrian Army develop logistical routes for moving supplies into Syria and providing communications training.

“U.S. officials also are considering sharing intelligence with the Free Syrian Army, or FSA, to allow the rebels to evade pro-Assad forces…”

As we have seen elsewhere where the US and its NATO allies have intervened to change regimes in the Middle East, Christians are the first to be targeted. Yet many US Christians have swallowed the propaganda that these “democracy promoting” coups and invasions are somehow part of the glorious and positive march of history. They should look more closely, beyond the mainstream propaganda, and inform themselves better. Otherwise the blood will at least partly be on their hands — a stain that may perhaps mark their eternal souls as well.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan Expects $4 Billion in Aid Pledges at July Conference

(Reuters) — Donor nations are likely to pledge a total of $4 billion in civilian assistance for Afghanistan at an aid conference in Japan next month, President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday in a national speech aimed at curbing corruption in his country. “Such an amount, more or less, will be pledged for the Afghan economy at the Tokyo conference,” Karzai said during a specially convened session of parliament, indicating the support would come after most foreign combat troops left in 2014.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India in Race to Contain Untreatable Tuberculosis

MUMBAI—India’s slow response to years of medical warnings now threatens to turn the country into an incubator for a mutant strain of tuberculosis that is proving resistant to all known treatments, raising alarms of a new global health hazard. “We finally have ended up with a virtually untreatable strain” of tuberculosis in India, said Dr. Zarir Udwadia, one of the country’s leading TB authorities. In December, Dr. Udwadia reported in a medical journal that he had four tuberculosis patients resistant to all treatment. By January, he had a dozen cases, then 15. A government backlash began immediately.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Suicide Attack on Checkpoint in Eastern Afghanistan Kills 3 US Soldiers, 18 Afghans

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber killed 21 people including three U.S. soldiers at a checkpoint in a packed market in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday — the third assault targeting Americans in as many days.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Asylum-Seeker Boat Carrying 200 Capsizes Off Australia

An asylum-seeker boat carrying a reported 200 people has capsized off Australia’s remote Christmas Island.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the ship issued a distress call mid-afternoon saying it had capsized 120 nautical miles north of the Indian Ocean territory, some 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles) off the Australian mainland. “There is a capsized vessel 120 nautical miles north of Christmas Island, there’s believed to be approximately 200 people on board,” an AMSA spokeswoman told AFP.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Bogus Immigration Adviser Muhammed Shakoori Charged £700 for Two Letters

A man who ran an immigration advice service illegally has escaped jail despite being caught breaking the law for a second time. Muhammed Shakoori, 61, was fined £500 in June 2010 for running an immigration business illegally from his home in Rusholme. But he continued to work as an immigration adviser even though his licence had been removed in October 2009. The father wrote two letters charging £700 and offering services to a Jamaican national, Alphonso Bartley, who had been refused a visa to remain in Britain.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Theresa May Accused of Unacceptable and Regrettable Behaviour by Judge

Theresa May has been accused of “unacceptable and regrettable behaviour” by a judge as she became only the second Home Secretary in history to be found guilty of contempt of court.

Mrs May ignored a legal agreement to release an Algerian robber from immigration detention in a decision that lawyers say risked throwing the whole system into confusion.

As a result, Judge Barry Cotter, QC, made the extremely rare ruling that the Home Secretary was in contempt of court. He said there has been the “most regrettable and unacceptable behaviour” of the Secretary of State leading to an “intentional breach” of her previous undertaking to free the foreign criminal, Aziz Lamari. The judge said he recognised the seriousness of her failure to obey the deal, and said that a clear message must be sent that it must not happen again. However because the Home Secretary eventually released the prisoner, she escaped sanctions which could have included a fine or even imprisonment.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]