Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120626

Financial Crisis
»Cyprus: Russia’s Masterstroke: Bailing Out Cyprus
»EU Proposes Banking Union as ‘Big Leap Forward’ To Save Bloc
»FBI Probing Islamic Extremists in US Military After ‘Lone Wolf’ Attack by Qaeda Sympathizer
»Muslim Woman Sues Religious-Freedom Commission for Discrimination
»New York Man to be Tried for Allegedly Plotting to Blow Up Synagogues
»Pool of American Imams Too Small to Meet the Demand
»Possible Alien Message to Get Reply From Humanity
Europe and the EU
»Al-Qaida Trains Norwegian to Attack
»Belgium: 6 Terrorism Accused Muslims Found Guilty
»Danish Prime Minister Skips Referendum Commitments
»Germany: Venezuelan Tribe Angry at “Sacred” Stone in Berlin
»Norwegian Terrorist Ready to Strike
»Planet European Parliament, Billions of Miles From Reality
»UK: Big Ben Tower to be Renamed in Honour of the Queen
»UK: Call to Action: Grand Connaught Rooms to Host Jihadist Conference
»UK: New Scunthorpe Mosque Seeking Approval From North Lincolnshire Councillors Tomorrow
»UK: Observer Misrepresents Rowan Williams on Muslims
»UK: The Bomber Command Memorial is a Noble, Handsome Thing
»UN Criticises Europe’s ‘Baby Boxes’
North Africa
»Egypt’s Triumph is Islam’s Triumph — JI
»Egypt: Now Morsi Says He Wants Closer Ties With Iran
»Our Coverage of the Arab Spring Was Over-Excited, Admits BBC
»The Last Jews of Tunisia
Israel and the Palestinians
»Analysis: The Return of the PLO
»Birthplace of Christ Used in Bid for Palestinian Statehood
»Police Arrest Ultra-Orthodox Jews Over Pro-Hitler Graffiti
»Russian President Tours Key Christian Shrine in West Bank, Talks With Palestinian Leader
Middle East
»Iranian Pair Face Death Penalty After Third Alcohol Offence
»NATO Stands by Turkey After Jet Downed by Syria
»Of Course the Arab Spring Has Brought Forth Monsters
»OIC Mulls Syria’s Supsension
»Turkey: From Regional to Global Player
»U.K. Spy Chief: Arab Spring Creates “Permissive Environment” For Al Qaeda in Middle East
»Russia and US Discuss Nuclear Cooperation Plans
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Joe Biden Memo Warned Obama on Flawed War Plans
»Dubai Company Wins Dh29 Billion Deal to Supply US Forces in Afghanistan
»In Pakistan Schools, ‘B’ For ‘Bandook’ , ‘J’ For ‘Jihad’
»India: Pakistan in the Cold on Lashkar After Abu Jundal’s Arrest
»Indonesia Struggles to Win Jihadist Hearts and Minds
»Italian Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Blast
»Militants ‘Behead Pakistani Troops After Crossing Border From Afghanistan’
»Rotting Grain Adds to India’s Food Problem
Far East
»China Jails 14 Over Mosque Clash
Australia — Pacific
»Beyond a Joke
Sub-Saharan Africa
»7/7 Widow Samantha Lewthwaite ‘Suspected in Kenya Attack’
»Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram Concern U.S. Africa Commander
»Nigeria: Christians, Muslims to Embark on Joint Preaching
Latin America
»Mexico City Airport Shootout Leaves Three Police Dead
»Australia: Entire 737 Used to Transport Injured Asylum Seeker
»Greece: Alarming Rise in Violence Against Immigrants
»Refugees in Greece Smuggled Into Europe
»Al-Qaida Calls for ‘Forest Jihad’
»Nanoparticles May Explain Moon Dirt’s Odd Behavior

Financial Crisis

Cyprus: Russia’s Masterstroke: Bailing Out Cyprus

by Peter Martino

What a fine mess the Europeans have made with their deluded dream of a common European currency for 17 countries with different languages, cultures, traditions and economic systems. As a result of the experiment with the euro, almost all countries along Europe’s southern rim are on the brink of bankruptcy. One of them is Cyprus. It, too, urgently needs a bailout. This week, the Cypriotic government needs €4bn to recapitalize the country’s second largest bank.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

EU Proposes Banking Union as ‘Big Leap Forward’ To Save Bloc

With the European Union facing its biggest crisis in 60 years, Brussels proposed Tuesday taking “a big leap forward” to save the troubled bloc by setting up a single banking union.

The suggestions to be put to a summit on Thursday and Friday were made public after being delivered to the bloc’s 27 capitals by EU president Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker.

A report from the four titled “Towards a genuine economic and monetary union” suggests EU leaders agree that a pan-European banking authority be put in place and give Brussels the final say over national budgets in the eurozone.

“We need a banking union, a fiscal union and further steps towards political union,” Barroso told a conference.

“The first of these building blocks that can be achieved quickly without treaty change is an integrated financial framework, a banking union,” he said

Under intense global pressure as the two-and-a-half-year sovereign debt crisis infects Spain and Cyprus after Greece, Ireland and Portugal, EU officials have been scrambling to shore up monetary union with banking, fiscal, and eventually political union.

The report however sets no deadlines for deepening EU integration, offering instead to finalise a grand roadmap for the future in December.

Diplomatic sources say a firm proposal on banking union is expected in October if EU officials get the go-ahead from heads of state and government at the June 28 and 29 summit.

The proposal sees the Frankfurt-based ECB tasked with banking supervision across the 17-nation eurozone, with the London-headquartered European Banking Authority (EBA) overseeing the sector in the remaining 10 non-euro states.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


FBI Probing Islamic Extremists in US Military After ‘Lone Wolf’ Attack by Qaeda Sympathizer

Washington, June 26 (ANI): The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating more than 100 suspected Islamic extremists in the U.S. military. The probe comes in the wake of the 2009 ‘lone wolf’ attack by an alleged Al-Qaeda sympathizer that killed 13 people at a Texas army base, reports. About a dozen extremists are considered to be ‘serious’ threats, with suspects believed to be actively planning attacks, or are in contact with dangerous fanatics, reports said. The potential internal threats come from those in active military service, reserves and civilians who have access to military installations.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslim Woman Sues Religious-Freedom Commission for Discrimination

Safiya Ghori-Ahmad claims the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom rescinded a job offer because she is Muslim. As Sarah Wildman reports, this isn’t the first time the commission has come under fire.

Safiya Ghori-Ahmad is one of those overqualified types that Washington, DC, seems to attract. At 31, she is fluent in Urdu and Hindi, and holds both a law degree and a master’s in international development. She was born and raised in Arkansas to a family who had emigrated from India. You probably wouldn’t have heard of her, except that earlier this month she filed suit in federal court, claiming that a job she was offered at a government agency was taken away from her because she’s Muslim. The kicker? The agency that rescinded the offer was created to fight religious discrimination around the world.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

New York Man to be Tried for Allegedly Plotting to Blow Up Synagogues

Judge approves rare state-level terrorism prosecution that stems from NYPD’s controversial surveillance of Muslim groups

A judge ruled Monday that an unusual state-level terror case against a man charged with plotting to blow up New York synagogues can go forward. Ahmed Ferhani’s lawyers have argued that the prosecution was based on insufficient evidence and dubious police tactics that targeted a mentally unstable man. But the Manhattan district attorney’s office says Ferhani was intent on attacking a synagogue and bought three guns and a grenade to do so. The buy was a sting.

Ferhani and co-defendant Mohamed Mamdouh were arrested last year and have pleaded not guilty. A grand jury declined to indict the men on a top-level terror conspiracy charge but they still face other terror and hate crime charges that carry up to 32 years in prison.

Ferhani, a 27-year-old Algerian immigrant, and Mamdouh, a 21-year-old American citizen of Moroccan descent, were arrested in May 2011. Authorities said the two planned an attack to avenge what they saw as mistreatment of Muslims around the world.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pool of American Imams Too Small to Meet the Demand

SHARON, Mass. — The Islamic Center of New England has always been led by imams born outside America. The two-campus mosque would like to change that, but it’s proving harder than leaders had thought. The ICNE’s mosque here on the South Shore of Boston has been without an imam since 2006, when the last imam was arrested for immigration fraud. A rotating cast of lay and trained imams have led congregational Friday prayers and other mosque functions since then. After dozens of interviews, the mosque board is eyeing a U.S-born convert who’s familiar with American culture and who studied Islam and Arabic in Saudi Arabia. The imam’s academic pedigree impressed the immigrant members of the mosque, while his fluency in American pop culture helped him connect with mosque youth.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Possible Alien Message to Get Reply From Humanity

If there’s something you’d like to say to aliens, now’s your chance. The Wow! signal, a mysterious radio transmission detected in 1977 that may or may not have come from extraterrestrials, is finally getting a response from humanity. Anyone can contribute his or her two cents — or 140 characters, to be exact — to the cosmic reply via Twitter.

All tweets composed between 8 p.m. EDT Friday (June 29) and 3 a.m. EDT Saturday (June 30) tagged with the hashtag #ChasingUFOs will be rolled into a single message, according to the National Geographic Channel, which is timing the Twitter event to coincide with the premiere of the channel’s new series, “Chasing UFOs.”

Then on Aug. 15, exactly 35 years after the Wow! signal was detected, humanity’s crowdsourced message will be beamed into space in the direction from which the perplexing signal originated.

“We are working with Arecibo Observatory to develop the best way to encrypt the transmission,” said Kristin Montalbano, a spokeswoman for the National Geographic Channel. “Earlier transmissions have focused on simplicity, whereas this one will rely more on creating a complex but noticeable pattern, hopefully standing out from other random, natural noise.

“More than likely we will be using binary phase codes,” or sequences of 1s and 0s.

The Wow! signal is the only blip of incoming data to have stood out from the noise in the four decades that astronomers have been scouring the heavens for signs of life — an effort known as the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, or SETI. The Big Ear radio observatory at Ohio State University picked up the intense 72-second radio transmission coming from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. At its peak, the transmission was 30 times more powerful than ambient radiation from deep space, prompting the volunteer astronomer Jerry Ehman to scrawl “Wow!” next to the data on a computer printout, giving the signal its name.

No one knows whether the seemingly unnatural signal really was beamed toward us by aliens, and despite great effort, scientists have never managed to detect a repeat transmission from the same spot in the sky. Thirty-five years on, the Wow! signal remains a complete mystery.

It is hoped alien scientists — if they do, in fact, exist — will have better luck decoding humankind’s reply.

“After recognizing the pattern, the scientists on the other end would theoretically be challenged to find a way to decrypt the transmission and understand our language. No small feat, but surely finding a signal of intelligent origin from another planet would be a momentous and impactful find for them — assuming they don’t already know about us from past visits! Or already follow us on Twitter,” Montalbano told Life’s Little Mysteries.

And if they’re the aliens that sent the Wow! signal in the first place, they are likely to be an extremely advanced civilization. Scientists say the signal would have required a 2.2 gigawatt transmitter, vastly more powerful than any existing terrestrial radio station.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Al-Qaida Trains Norwegian to Attack

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A Norwegian man has received terrorist training from al-Qaida’s offshoot in Yemen and is awaiting orders to carry out an attack on the West, officials from three European security agencies told The Associated Press on Monday.

Western intelligence officials have long feared such a scenario — a convert to Islam who is trained in terrorist methods and can blend in easily in Europe and the United States, traveling without visa restrictions.

Officials from three European security agencies confirmed Monday the man is “operational,” meaning he has completed his training and is about to receive a target. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly. They declined to name the man, who has not been accused of a crime.

“We believe he is operational and he is probably about to get his target,” one security official said. “And that target is probably in the West.”

A security official in a second European country confirmed the information, adding: “From what I understand, a specific target has not been established.”

European security services, including in Norway, have warned in recent years of homegrown, radicalized Muslims traveling to terror training camps in conflict zones. Many of the known cases involve young men with family roots in Muslim countries.

But the latest case involves a man in his 30s with no immigrant background, the officials said. After converting to Islam in 2008, he quickly became radicalized and traveled to Yemen to receive terror training, one of the officials said. The man spent “some months” in Yemen and is still believed to be there, he said.

The official said the man has no criminal record, which would also make him an ideal recruit for al-Qaida.

“Not even a parking ticket,” he said. “He’s completely clean and he can travel anywhere.”

The official would not specify what preventive measures were being taken but said “there is a well-established relationship between Western security services, and they share the information needed to prevent terrorism.”

The officials declined to specify what makes them think the man is operational.

Signs that a would-be jihadist is ready for an attack could include the creation of so-called martyrdom videos for release online in conjunction with an attack, or an abrupt cutoff of communication and contacts with peers to avoid detection.

The man has not been accused of a crime in Norway, where traveling abroad to attend terror training camps is not a crime per se. In many European countries, suspects are not named unless they have been formally charged with a crime.

Yemeni military officials said they had information on Europeans training with al-Qaida in the southern part of the country but that they weren’t aware of a Norwegian being among them. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

CIA and FBI officials in the U.S. declined to comment on the AP report…

           — Hat tip: Seneca III[Return to headlines]

Belgium: 6 Terrorism Accused Muslims Found Guilty

BRUSSELS: Six Muslims have been found guilty on charges of terrorism. The leaders of the gang received 11 and 8 years’ imprisonment, others were given penalties up to 5 years. The suspects spread messages of hatred and were talking about possible bomb attacks in Belgium, judges argued. 7 people had to defend themselves against charges of terrorism. All of them had links with a radical mosque in Molenbeek, Brussels. One of them also travelled to Iraq to take part in the “Holy War” against the West a couple of years ago. When he returned, he and his friends tried to convince other Muslims to take up the arms and take part in the war. For that purpose, they used a website, spreading messages of hatred. During tapped telephone conversations, they talked about bomb attacks in Belgium. The court found this unacceptable, and decided to inflict heavy punishments. The lawyer of one of the leaders was not too preoccupied. He told reporters that his client is presently in Syria, fighting the Assad regime, and suggested the court to arrest his client there. One suspect was cleared of all charges. According to the court, he does have extremist ideas, but he was involved in the gang’s activities.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Danish Prime Minister Skips Referendum Commitments

Danish premier Helle Thorning-Schmidt has dropped her centre-left government’s promise of a referendum on Danish EU opt-outs. She told Politiken newspaper there is so much “anxiety and uncertainty” about the European project that it may take several years before the Danes come to an EU referendum again.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Venezuelan Tribe Angry at “Sacred” Stone in Berlin

Wolfgang von Schwarzenfeld’s sculptures in a Berlin park were meant to promote world peace, but the 79-year-old German now finds himself at war with a Venezuelan tribe which accuses him of stealing a sacred pink stone known to them as “Grandmother”.

The Venezuelan government is championing the Pemon Indians of the “Gran Sabana” region by demanding the return of the polished stone from Berlin’s Tiergarten park — putting the German government in something of a dilemma.

With Caracas calling it robbery, and the sculptor arguing that the stone was a legal gift, the monolith is emitting more negative energy than its esoteric fans in Berlin are used to.

Blissfully unaware of the diplomatic tug-of-war, Robert, a Berlin gardener, got off his bicycle to light joss sticks among the stones from five continents that form the “Global Stone Project”, awaiting friends for an afternoon shamanic ritual.

But newly arrived Venezuelan tourists Grecia Melendez and Juan Carlos Brozoski knew all about the war of the stone and suspected there were political motives behind the protests.

“(President Hugo) Chavez always wants a conflict with someone,” said 32-year-old Melendez, taking photos of the 12 cubic meter stone, which is engraved with the word “love” in different languages — and graffiti with couples’ names and hearts.

Von Schwarzenfeld, a frail figure with whispy white hair and scuffed brown shoes, waved a sheaf of documents authorizing the removal of the stone from the Canaima National Park in 1998.

As with all the stones arranged in a circle in Berlin, a “sister” stone remained behind. Every summer solstice, their burnished surfaces reflect the sun “as a symbol of a united mankind, hopefully one day in peace”, he said.

The project was inaugurated in 1999 near Berlin’s landmark Potsdamer Platz and Brandenburg Gate. As children played among the stones, Von Schwarzenfeld defied Venezuela to take back what he called a “gift to Berlin” from former president Rafael Caldera.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norwegian Terrorist Ready to Strike

Justice Minister Grete Faremo has declined to say whether the country’s security services know the identity of a Norwegian man reported to have trained as a terrorist with Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

Planet European Parliament, Billions of Miles From Reality

Martin Callanan MEP is Chairman of the European Conservatives.

The European Parliament increasingly resembles the mirror universe from Alice Through the Looking Glass. When you step through those doors it’s like you enter a parallel universe completely detached from reality. Nothing summed this up better than a debate we had last week ahead of the EU’s make-or-break summit next week. For many of the single currency’s strongest advocates, the types of proposals on the table now — a banking union, more power for the ECB, common debt instruments — were all envisaged as part of the inexorable march towards the U.S of Europe. I believe that this crisis highlights the failure of the euro — because it was a political project rather than an economic one. Federalists see it as a success because finally they will use the cover of fear to instigate the real objectives of a federal Europe.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Big Ben Tower to be Renamed in Honour of the Queen

The Queen’s 60 years on the throne will be honoured by having the clock tower at the Houses of Parliament renamed The Elizabeth Tower, it was announced today. A committee of MPs under Speaker John Bercow gave the final approval last night to the move which has been backed by David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. “They have agreed to the suggestion and all that remains now is to work out the details with the Palace of when the renaming will happen,” said a delighted Westminster official.


[JP note: Absurd — this will confuse tourists no end.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Call to Action: Grand Connaught Rooms to Host Jihadist Conference

On the 8th of July 2012, the Grand Connaught Rooms in London will host a conference featuring several hate preachers. Their repertoire includes justifying suicide bombings, glorifying jihad, promoting venomous homophobia, spreading crude antisemitism, and encouraging reprehensible bigotry against Shia Muslims. Stand for Peace has tried to speak to the management of the Grand Connaught Rooms to ensure they know of the consequences of giving Islamists a platform (as per the Prevent review). However, one senior member of management told Stand for Peace: “[it] didn’t bother me at all“.

Urgent action is required to convince the Grand Connaught Rooms to put decency before profit and to pull the plug on the conference. You can call the venue on +44 (0) 2074 057 811 — ask for Oliver Six, the General Manager. The owner of the venue is the Principal Hayley Group, based in North Yorkshire. The number for Principal Hayley is +44 (0) 1423 853 800 — you can ask for Tony Troy (Chief Executive Officer) or Colin Bailey (Group Operations Director) The event is organised by the Al-Muntada Trust, a London-based Islamist group. It has an extensive record of hosting and boosting some of the UK’s worst hate preachers over many years.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: New Scunthorpe Mosque Seeking Approval From North Lincolnshire Councillors Tomorrow

A decision will be made tomorrow (Wednesday June 27) on whether a new Scunthorpe mosque should be approved. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association is seeking planning permission for change of use to a mosque, community use and living accommodation at Concorde House, Bessemer Way, Scunthorpe. North Lincolnshire Council’s planning committee of elected councillors from across the district now considers only a small proportion of the total applications lodged with the authority, the remainder being dealt with by staff. However, in the case of the mosque, the committee will consider the application because of “significant public interest.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Observer Misrepresents Rowan Williams on Muslims

Sunday’s Observer had a piece about a forthcoming book by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, entitled Faith in the Public Square. The main subject of the article is Williams’ criticisms of David Cameron’s “big society” policy. However, the authors also attribute to Williams some highly controversial views about the Muslim community


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Bomber Command Memorial is a Noble, Handsome Thing

by Harry Mount

The memorial — which the Queen will unveil on Thursday — has been attacked on two fronts: for commemorating the mass killing of German civilians and for being an ugly, classical pastiche. Wrong on both counts. The memorial commemorates the 55,573 airmen who were killed during those bombing raids — and who is to say that they shouldn’t be commemorated? There is no element of triumphalism in the building — just an austere, serious recognition of those men who took part in raids with a 50 per cent overall casualty rate over the course of the war.

The memorial was largely paid for by Telegraph readers — and they have built a fine building. In an age when the classical orders are largely forgotten — and monuments are largely gimcrack, simplistic things of flat steel and glass planes — it is a pleasure to see the orders revived. The order chosen — Doric — is the simplest and earliest of the Greek orders, thought by ancient experts to be the most manly, too. Whatever its manliness, the Doric order certainly has an unfussy dignity worthy of the airmen who died.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UN Criticises Europe’s ‘Baby Boxes’

The United Nations has criticised the growing number of “baby boxes” in Europe, warning they violate a child’s rights to know their parents.

Often found in the walls of hospitals the boxes offer a safe place where parents can place an unwanted child, and have becoming increasingly popular in European countries such as the Czech Republic, Germany and Latvia.

Since 2000 some 400 children have been left in the 200 boxes scattered across the continent, and their proponents claim the boxes save the lives of babies that may otherwise have been aborted or abandoned in a dangerous location.

The boxes have won the backing of conservative and religious circles, eager to promote a system that apparently protects and saves lives.

But the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has said the boxes contravene the state’s “duty to respect the child’s right to maintain personal relations with his or her parent”, and violate the child’s right to a name and nationality.

The committee also dismissed claims that the boxes save lives.

“Just like medieval times in many countries we see people claiming that baby boxes prevent infanticide there is no evidence for this,” Maria Herczog, a member of the UN committee, told the Guardian newspaper.

A prominent child psychologist, she argued that the boxes should be replaced with better provision for family planning to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Despite this, the baby-box system retains popularity. A survey in the Czech Republic one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the system from earlier this year found that the majority of the population favoured keeping the country’s 47 boxes.

The Czechs also rejected an earlier request from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to close their boxes pointing out that a special ministerial commission concluded that the system was in accordance with Czech law and saved lives.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt’s Triumph is Islam’s Triumph — JI

KARACHI — Jamaat-e Islami (JI) on Monday observed the “Thanksgiving Day’ on the triumphant of Mori Essa of Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan Al Muslimeen” as the elected President of Egypt.The party observed a countrywide day of thanksgiving on the directives of JI Chief Munawar Hassan. They offered subjugation to the Almighty Allah over the victory of Muhammad Morsi Essa. A large number of party members in a special ceremony at Idara-e Noor-e Haq offered special prayers as gratitude. JI Karachi Chief Muhammad Hussain Mahenti offered special thanksgiving prayers after Asr. JI Sindh Chapter Chief Asadullah Bhutto, JI Karachi Chapter General Secretary Naseem Siddiqui, Deputy Chiefs including Nasarullah Khan Shaji, Hafiz Naeem Ur Rehman and Dr Wasay Shakir addressed the ceremony.While speaking on the occasion, Asadullah Bhutto in his address said that books by Maulana Maudoodi had played a pivotal role in bringing Islamic revolution in many countries especially in Iran and Egypt.He said that as Ikhwan Al Muslimeen had been victorious after they followed the writings by Maulana Maudoodi, JI was also stepping forward and making effort to create public awareness, because it believed that any revolution could only be brought with the support of the people and for that purpose, electoral politics was the best option.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Now Morsi Says He Wants Closer Ties With Iran

by Con Coughlin

You read it here first! Following my suggestion this morning that Egypt could be heading the same way as Iran following the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who is now Egypt’s president-elect, has helpfully confirmed my suspicions by saying he wants to have closer ties with Iran to create “a balance of pressure in the region.” And in the same breath he says he wants to revisit the historic Camp David peace accords with Israel, which has now kept the peace between the two former sworn enemies for more than thirty years. Time to don the tin hats, I fear…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Our Coverage of the Arab Spring Was Over-Excited, Admits BBC

The BBC’s coverage of the Arab Spring has been heavily criticised — by the corporation’s bosses.

Head of news Helen Boaden admitted that her journalists got carried away with events and produced ‘over-excited’ reports.

She told a BBC Trust report that in Libya, where reporters were ‘embedded’ with rebels, they may have failed to explore both sides of the story properly.

Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen was among those criticised in the study into coverage of the uprisings, which found that ‘excitement’ did sometimes ‘infect’ the reporting, which some viewers described as ‘too emotive’ and ‘veering into opinion’.

The document, published yesterday, also raised concerns about the corporation’s use of footage filmed on mobile phones and other user-generated content. It noted that the BBC failed to warn viewers with ‘caveats’ about the ‘authenticity’ of such footage in 74 per cent of cases.

It also warned that the corporation ignored events in some countries as it concentrated on ‘big’ stories.

Early coverage of Egypt and Libya was ‘over-excited’Miss Boaden is quoted saying: ‘In the conflict in Egypt in the beginning . . . we might have sounded over-excited — you can take on the colour of who you’re with. I had to say “just be careful about your tone”.

‘In Libya too, where we were essentially embedded [with the rebels] at the start, we might have sounded over-excited — you have to be careful if you can’t get to the other side of the story.’

While the report found that overall the BBC’s coverage was ‘generally impartial’, it did raise concerns about aspects of its reporting.

Embarrassingly for Mr Bowen, it suggested he should ‘travel a little less’ so he would have more time to provide ‘insight’ and ‘strategic guidance’ to bosses.

The report’s author, former UN director of communications Edward Mortimer, added that the BBC made mistakes in its reporting of countries such as Bahrain, where he said coverage was ‘rather sporadic’ and arguably insufficient.

The report added there should have been ‘greater eagerness’ in covering the situation in Yemen and also questioned coverage of Algeria, Morocco and Jordan.

Alison Hastings, chairman of the trust’s editorial standards committee, said: ‘We’re keen to see if improvements can be made . . . both in the scope of coverage to provide a fuller picture of events, and in providing better context for audiences.

‘We’ll ask the director of news to report back to us with an update in the autumn.’

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

The Last Jews of Tunisia

Jews lived all over the Middle East and North Africa for thousands of years, and they lived among Arab Muslims for more than 1,000 years, but they’re almost extinct now in the Arab world. Arabs and Jews didn’t live well together, exactly, but they co-existed five times longer than the United States has existed. They weren’t always token minorities, either. Baghdad was almost a third Jewish during the first half of the 20th century. Morocco and Tunisia are the last holdouts. In Tunisia, only 1,500 remain.

What happened? What changed? Islam didn’t happen all of a sudden, nor did the arrival of Arabs in Mesopotamia, the Levant, and North Africa. Both have been firmly in place since the 7th century. A far more recent cascade of events transformed the region, and for the worse: the occupation of Arab lands by Nazi Germany and its puppet Vichy France, the Holocaust, post-Ottoman Arab Nationalism, Israel’s declaration of independence, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

As a consequence of all that, rather than the Arab invasion or the rise of the Islamic religion, almost the entire Arab world is Judenrein now. And since the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Republic regime in Iran, relations between Arabs and Jews are worse than they were at any time during the entire history of either.

Yet 1,500 Jews hang on in Tunisia. The ancien Ben Ali regime kept them safe, as has Tunisia’s relatively tolerant and cosmopolitan culture. But what will become of them now that Ben Ali is in exile and his government is overthrown?

I met with Haim Bittan, the chief rabbi of Tunis. My colleague Armin Rosen joined me, as did our fixer and translator Ahmed Medien.

“You should say something to the rabbi in Hebrew,” Ahmed told Armin. Armin is Jewish and speaks a bit of the language of Israel. “It will make him happy.”

The three of us met the rabbi and his assistant in an office behind an enormous synagogue in central Tunis…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Analysis: The Return of the PLO

By Daoud Kuttab

The past 25 years witnessed the slow death of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The PLO, established in June 1964 by the Arab League and then taken over internally by the various resistance movements, led by Fatah, is credited with the unification of the Palestinians in the diaspora. It is also seen as the main factor that reignited Palestinian identity in pursuit of national liberation.

The PLO’s importance faded in 1993 when its leader and chairman of its executive committee, Yasser Arafat, signed a memorandum of understanding with the state of Israel. And while the Palestinian Authority became the focal point of Palestinian political activity, few people noted that the PA is subservient to the PLO.

Every single official document of the PA confirms that the Oslo accords and all its ministries and institutions are part and parcel of the PLO.

Having control over land, people, money and guns, albeit small weapons, made the PA a much more important organization than the scattered PLO. After Beirut and Tunisia, the PLO was but a few offices, usually at Palestinian embassies. And with money drying up, it was mostly Ramallah that was keeping the PLO alive.

But the PLO’s problem was not just that its attention was turned inside Palestine, albeit in the small enclaves named by Israel and the US as Palestinian Authority areas. It had a bigger problem in terms of legitimacy.

Yes, the PLO continues to call itself the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and its national council, the PNC, continues to be referred to as the Palestinian parliament in exile. But the rise of the Islamist movements, especially Hamas, and this latter’s refusal to join the PLO rendered the term “sole and legitimate” representative rather empty.

While the PLO was fighting for legitimacy, its embrace became a joke after candidates affiliated with the Islamic movement won the majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. And while the Palestine National Council automatically considered all elected parliamentarians de facto members of this parliament in exile, the legitimacy of the PLO continued to be questioned as long as Hamas refused to join.

A number of factors, not least of which the failure to reach a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, have revived the ailing movement…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Birthplace of Christ Used in Bid for Palestinian Statehood

by Christine Williams

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will soon decide whether to honor the Palestinian application to award The Church of the Nativity the designation of a World Heritage Site-a title reserved for locations considered to have outstanding Universal Value. The World Heritage Committee is now meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia, presumably to decide to whom to award the Church of the Nativity, said to be the birthplace of Christ, as well as the Pilgrimage Route in Bethlehem. Here is where it gets problematic: although only applicants recognized as having an independent state are eligible for consideration, the Palestinians are being considered even though they do not meet that qualification.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Police Arrest Ultra-Orthodox Jews Over Pro-Hitler Graffiti

Israeli police have arrested three ultra-Orthodox Jews for spraying hate speech on the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. The men apparently admitted they had defaced the site as well as two army memorials.

The men were due to appear in court later on Tuesday. Aged 18, 26 and 37, they came from Jerusalem, the southern Israeli port city of Ashdod and Bnei Brak, a religious suburb near Tel Aviv, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

“The suspects were questioned in connection with the graffiti in Yad Vashem and admitted to carrying out the incident as well as other similar incidents in Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill and a memorial in the Jordan Valley,” Rosenfeld told the AFP news agency.

The pro-Hitler and anti-Zionist graffiti were found on numerous walls at the national Holocaust memorial two weeks ago. One of the Hebrew slogans said “Hitler, thank you for the Holocaust.” Another said “If Hitler hadn’t existed, the Zionists would have invented him.” A third was signed “world ultra-Orthodox Jewry.”

Similar slogans were found sprayed on the Israeli army sites at Ammunition Hill, a former Jordanian military post in Jerusalem, and a West Bank memorial for fallen soldiers and policeman in April.

Some extremist Jews reject the existence of Israel in the belief that a Jewish state should only be established once the Messiah returns.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Russian President Tours Key Christian Shrine in West Bank, Talks With Palestinian Leader

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin praised his Palestinian counterpart Tuesday for what he said was a “responsible” position in negotiations with Israel, frozen for nearly four years, and said Russia has no problem recognizing a Palestinian state. Putin also offered veiled criticism of Israel, saying unilateral actions — an apparent reference to continued Israeli settlement expansion on war-won land — is not constructive.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iranian Pair Face Death Penalty After Third Alcohol Offence

Two people previously lashed 160 times for consuming alcohol, which is forbidden under Islamic Sharia law

Two Iranians have been sentenced to death for persistent consumption of alcohol under the country’s Islamic Sharia law, which forbids the use, manufacturing and trading of all types of alcoholic drinks. The two, who have not been named by the authorities, have each previously been lashed 160 times after twice being arrested for consuming alcohol. Being convicted for the third time makes them liable for the death penalty. The head of the judiciary Seyed Hasan Shariati, based in Iran’s north-eastern province of Khorasan Razavi, told the semi-official Isna news agency that the supreme court had upheld their death sentences and that officials were preparing for their execution.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

NATO Stands by Turkey After Jet Downed by Syria

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has expressed the alliance’s solidarity with Turkey following the downing of a Turkish aircraft by Syrian forces on Friday. NATO countries had met in Brussels to discuss the incident.

Addressing reporters in Brussels, Rasmussen said the NATO members condemned the incident “in the strongest terms.”

“What we have seen is a completely unacceptable act,” he said, “and I would expect Syria to take all necessary steps to avoid such events in the future.”

At Turkey’s request, NATO held the emergency meeting under Article 4 of its charter. It is only the second time in NATO’s 63-year history that it has convened under Article 4, which can be invoked when a member state feels its territorial integrity, political independence or security is under threat.

Turkey has said the fighter jet, which was on an unarmed training mission, was shot down a mile (1.6 kilometers) inside international airspace. The plane inadvertantly entered Syrian airspace for a short time before it was shot down. Turkey has said both pilots are still missing.

Syria, meanwhile, has defended its actions as an act of defense, insisting the plane was inside Syrian airspace.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Of Course the Arab Spring Has Brought Forth Monsters

by The Rev Dr Peter Mullen

I look at this morning’s front page: “Arab Spring spawns new generation of UK terrorists”. Are we supposed to be surprised by this? I was called all the rude names under the sun for mocking these velvet revolutions in Egypt and Libya. All those bright Westernised kids on their mobile phones preaching the gospel of “democracy”, while the serious revolutionaries — the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, Salafists, Sunni fundamentalists and other armed-to-the-teeth totalitarians — were biding their time.

It brought back recollections of our Romantic poets’ enthusiasm for the French Revolution. Coleridge, Southey and their barmy ideas of a utopian “pantocracy”. And above all, weary Willie Wordsworth’s approbation, “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive; and to be young was very heaven.” He changed his tune in 1793 when the reign of terror broke out and Madame Guillotine toured the land, cutting off heads, under the auspices of “The Committee for Public Safety.”

Why has it taken the Western media so long to wake up to the fact that there is a fundamentalist religious and political uprising in a score of countries? And that this is an existential threat to the West? Why do The Guardian and the Today Programme and the rest of the ignoramus bien pensants laud the “activists” in Syria, as if the terrible events taking place there are so easily polarised between nice rebels and nasty Assad?

Events in Libya have already turned sour with attacks on British officials by the same people we were aiding and abetting just a few months ago. Egypt is firming up ties with Iran. No wonder the Israelis have posted tanks on the edge of the Sinai. Yemen is a no-go area for everyone who is not a paid-up member of al Qaeda. Meanwhile this hideous reactionary revolution across north Africa and the whole of the Middle East is being appeased by Western statesmen who are really the successors of Baldwin and Chamberlain. And no one dare criticise this religiously inspired thuggery for fear of being thought politically incorrect.

I don’t mind dying. Really, I don’t. But I don’t want to die of ignorance and stupidity.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

OIC Mulls Syria’s Supsension

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), is seriously considering suspension of Syria from the membership of the pan Islamic organization and its affiliated bodies. “Foreign ministers from the member countries will discuss the issue and take a decision at the ministerial level meeting to be held in Djibouti on Nov. 15,” he said. Ihsanoglu was replying to queries from Arab News during a press conference held at the end of the ministerial-level extraordinary meeting of the OIC Executive Committee here on Sunday.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey: From Regional to Global Player

With its growing political influence, Turkey is seeking a stronger role in world politics. However, its domestic political problems, as well as regional crises, pose major challenges to its foreign policy ambitions.

“Turkey has become one of the five or six most important countries in the world,” former US National Security Adviser Stephan J. Hadley told an international audience recently at the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank. “It’s ironic… if you look at economic performance, you wonder whether Turkey ought to join the EU or the EU ought to join Turkey,” he said.

Hadley’s remarks underscore Turkey’s remarkable economic and political transformation and highlight the changing perceptions in the international arena.

Almost a decade ago, Turkey was regarded as an underdeveloped and undemocratic country, dependent on aid from the International Monetary Union and desperately seeking accession to the European Union. But now, with its record-breaking economic growth for a decade, Turkey is widely described as “the China of Europe.” As a majority Muslim country with a non-religious democratic political system and a functioning liberal economy, Turkey has been highlighted as a model for the Middle East and Africa.

In the EU, no one disputes Turkey’s growing economic and political importance for the Union. But the country’s accession process has been effectively halted, due to the decades-long dispute over Cyprus and the opposition of some leading countries to Turkey’s full membership, preferring a “privileged partnership” instead. However, the almost six-year-long political stalemate with the EU has not prevented Turkey from increasing its political influence, instead it has prompted the Turkish government to develop closer political and economic ties with the regional organizations throughout the world, a strategy coined as “360 degrees foreign policy” by Turkey’s influential Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Turkey has opened dozens of new embassies and consulates, particularly in Africa and the Middle East and increased its presence in almost all multilateral platforms, from the Organization of American States to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Turkey obtained an “observer status” in the African Union in 2005 and started ministerial meetings with the Arab League in the same year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

U.K. Spy Chief: Arab Spring Creates “Permissive Environment” For Al Qaeda in Middle East

(CBS/AP) LONDON — Britain’s spy chief has warned that the Arab Spring, which has shifted the power from several long-time autocrats in the Middle East, is also creating an opening for al Qaeda to move back into countries where Islamic militancy was born.

Not so long ago, 75 percent of the terror threats prioritized by British spy agency MI5 had links to Afghanistan or Pakistan. But Britain’s efforts, along with those of its international partners, have brought that percentage down to below 50 percent, MI5 Director General Jonathan Evans said in a Monday speech in London.

Evans warned that the international terrorist threat is no longer “monolithic,” with al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen, Somalia and across north Africa becoming, “more dangerous as al Qaeda in Pakistan has declined.”

Although the Arab Spring revolutions have brought about radical political changes in some countries, they have also brought fresh opportunities for al Qaeda affiliates to seek refuge.

Evans said the Arab Spring has once again made parts of the Arab world a “permissive environment for al Qaeda.”

Evans called it the completion of a cycle that first saw al Qaeda move most of its operations to Afghanistan in the 1990’s, due to pressure in their Arab countries of origin, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia. They were allowed to flourish under the rule of the Muslim hardline Taliban.

When the U.S.-led invasion after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks toppled the Taliban government, much of al Qaeda’s leadership made the short trip across the border into Pakistan.

Now, says Evans, “some are heading home to the Arab world again.”

According to the MI5 boss, Britain has noticed a “small number of British would-be Jihadis are also making their way to Arab countries to seek training and opportunities.”

“Some will return to the U.K. and pose a threat here,” Evans said. “This is a new and worrying development and could get worse as events unfold. So we will have to manage the short-term risks if there is to be a long-term reward from the Arab Spring.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Russia and US Discuss Nuclear Cooperation Plans

The U. S. deputy energy secretary says the United States and Russia are planning to enhance cooperation in nuclear reactor design, while maintaining joint efforts to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands.

Daniel Poneman said Tuesday after a nuclear energy security working group meeting between the two countries that both nations have developed a “strong partnership” in the field.

Moscow and Washington have launched a joint effort to return fuel from Soviet- and U.S. nuclear reactors built overseas for reprocessing to reduce the danger of highly enriched uranium falling into the wrong hands.

Russia’s Rosatom nuclear agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko said it has already removed all highly enriched uranium fuel from Ukraine, and is now planning its retrieval from Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Joe Biden Memo Warned Obama on Flawed War Plans

CIA assessment was sidelined, new book says

WASHINGTON — As President Obama considered adding as many as 40,000 US forces to a backsliding war in Afghanistan in 2009, Vice President Joe Biden warned him that the military rationale for doing so was flawed, a new book about Obama’s expansion of the conflict says. The book, “Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan,” also says that in planning the drawdown of troops two years later, the White House intentionally sidelined the CIA. Obama purposely did not read a grim CIA assessment of Afghanistan that found little measurable benefit from the 30,000 “surge” forces Obama eventually approved, the book quotes a US official as saying.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Dubai Company Wins Dh29 Billion Deal to Supply US Forces in Afghanistan

A Dubai company has won a contract worth an estimated US$8.1 billion (Dh29.75bn) to supply food to American troops serving in Afghanistan.

Anham will take over from the long-standing supplier Supreme Foodservice, which has been embroiled in billing dispute with the Pentagon. Anham was awarded the deal after a month-long competition and welcomed the news, saying it was grateful for the opportunity to expand its support to “those serving around the world”. “We have a long track record of conducting large-scale, successful operations in the most demanding conditions,” it said. “Whether it is our support of the US troops and state department in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan or the United States army in Afghanistan, we deliver the best services on time and within budget,” it added. The Pentagon’s current contract with Supreme in Afghanistan has been in place since 2005, during which time it has spent about $6.8bn.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

In Pakistan Schools, ‘B’ For ‘Bandook’ , ‘J’ For ‘Jihad’

LONDON: Citing stark examples from school curriculum, a prominent Islamabad-based scholar has said that extreme religious and anti-India views fed into children in schools reinforced the cycle of extremism that showed no signs of receding in Pakistan. Pervez Hoodbhoy, nuclear physicist and commentator on current issues, presented the examples at a seminar in the King’s College on the role of education in combating terrorism , organized by the Democracy Forum.

The examples showed by Hoodbhoy included images and text from a primer that mentioned the Urdu equivalent of A as ‘Allah’ , B as ‘bandook’ , Te as ‘takrao’ , J as ‘jihad’ , H as ‘hijab’ , Kh as ‘khanjar’ and Ze as ‘zunoob’ . He also showed a college going up in flames, containing images of things considered sinful: kites, guitar , satellite TV, carom board, chess, wine bottles and harmonium. Examples cited by Hoodbhoy from another curriculum document for Class V students included tasks such as discussion on: ‘Understand Hindu-Muslim differences and the need for Pakistan’ , ‘India’s evil designs against Pakistan’ , ‘Make speeches on shehadat and jehad’.

“There has been a sea change in Pakistan in the last six decades. The poison put into education by Gen Zia-ul-Haq was not changed by subsequent regimes. And attitudes have changed over the years, makes my country alien to me,” Hoodbhoy said. Recalling his childhood in Karachi, he said the city was home to Hindus, Parsis and Christians. “They are all gone. The same is true of much of Pakistan. Minorities have no place in Pakistan today.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: Pakistan in the Cold on Lashkar After Abu Jundal’s Arrest

The main political gain for India from the arrest of Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Abu Jundal, also known by his operational name Abu Hamza, will be its impact on Pakistan. Islamabad, already isolated on other issues, will be shocked when it realises how the arrest took place. Various sources say the initial tip-off that Jundal was in Saudi Arabia came from US intelligence. He was then apprehended by Riyadh which in turn told India to send a special plane to pick him up. “That a number of governments worked together to help India increases pressure on Pakistan,” says counter-terrorism expert Ajai Sahni. That the two countries involved were ones Pakistan has seen as “allies” would be especially unnerving. Pakistan-based security analyst Talat Masood said the Saudi role was “significant” — Pakistani-Saudi security links were even closer than those Islamabad had with the US.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Indonesia Struggles to Win Jihadist Hearts and Minds

Indonesia has spent the decade since the Bali nightclub bombings in a fight to win over Islamist militants and gain vital intelligence. While there have been some convincing results, critics say this is rare.

Since 2002, Indonesian courts have sentenced more than 700 people for terrorism offenses. During this time, there has been a rehabilitation program aimed at “de-radicalizing” those that are taken into custody.

Those on the inside say that authorities are “nice to terrorists so that they can extract information from them,” even though the scheme has recently been criticized as ineffective.

However, an example of the success of the program is Ali Imrom, the brother of two bombers who helped mastermind the Bali bombings in 2002. The brothers, Amrozi and Ali Ghufron, were executed in 2008.

Ale, as Ali Imron is usually called, was also involved. However, he has now said he regrets his part in the attacks that killed more than 200 people.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italian Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Blast

ROME/KANDAHAR: An Italian soldier was killed on Monday and two others were wounded in an explosion at a police training camp in Adraskan in western Afghanistan, Italy’s Defence Ministry said. “The explosion hit an observation hut near a shooting range,” the ministry said in a statement, without giving further details on what caused the blast. Military spokesman Francesco Tirino in Herat told SKY TG24 television that the blast was caused by “a rocket launched from outside the camp”.

Manuele Braj, 30, who was married, with an eight-month-old baby, was killed instantly. Two other Italian soldiers were wounded to the legs but are out of danger. All three belonged to the Police Speciality Training Team (PSTT). Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti expressed his “deep and most sincere condolences” to “Braj’s family and the troops engaged in an important training mission of the Afghan police”. Separately, six Afghan police officers were killed when a bomb tore through their vehicle in southern Afghanistan, an official said on Monday.The roadside bomb hit a police patrol vehicle in Chora district of Uruzgan province late on Sunday, provincial spokesman Abdullah Hemat told AFP. The Taliban, who frequently use roadside bombings to target Afghan and foreign military forces, claimed the responsibility for the deadly attack on their website.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Militants ‘Behead Pakistani Troops After Crossing Border From Afghanistan’

Pakistani military says 13 soldiers were killed, including seven who were beheaded, after attack on patrol in Upper Dir region

Militants have crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan and killed 13 troops, beheading seven of them, according to the Pakistani military.

Officials said militants from Afghanistan had crossed into the north-western Upper Dir region on Sunday night and clashed with Pakistani forces on a patrol. Six Pakistani troops are said to have been killed immediately. Seven who went missing were beheaded, while four have not been found. The military’s statement also said Pakistani troops had killed 14 of the militants.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Rotting Grain Adds to India’s Food Problem

Although India harvested a bumper crop of grain this season, officals have warned that too much of it is rotting away in storage, instead of feeding the hungry poor.

The right time to eat for a rich man is when he is hungry; for a poor man when he has something to eat. This Mexican proverb highlights the plight of hungry Indians.

The total stocks across India in the central storage pool are expected to be at an all-time record of 75 million tons in June this year — almost one hundred thousand tons more than last year, The Food Corporation of India (FCI), announcing its latest estimates to the government, simultaneously warned, however, that there was a serious problem of vital food grains rotting away in silos.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Jails 14 Over Mosque Clash

Authorities in northwestern China sentence a group of Hui Muslims who fought to protect their place of worship.

Authorities in the northwestern Chinese region of Ningxia have handed jail terms of up to six years to 14 ethnic minority Hui Muslims for “inciting violence” and “obstructing public duty,” following clashes over the destruction of a mosque at the end of last year, local residents said. Police in Tongxin county near Ningxia’s Wuzhong city detained around 40 Muslim Hui people following riots last New Year’s Eve sparked by the forced demolition of a local mosque. Four were later released, and 36 stood trial on April 24.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Beyond a Joke

With a sense of humour guaranteed to make you laugh, Nazeem Hussain is surely one of the friendliest guys you could meet in Melbourne’s east. Born and bred in Burwood, Hussain is passionate about creating a harmonious Australia where people of every race and religion can happily co-exist. In 2008, Hussain and his mate Aamer Rahman were awarded with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Best Newcomer Award for their stand-up show, Fear of a Brown Planet. “It’s a political comedy show about issues of race, religion, discrimination, prejudice, power, privilege and growing up in a modern white society,” Hussain says.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

7/7 Widow Samantha Lewthwaite ‘Suspected in Kenya Attack’

Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of one of the 7/7 bombers, is believed to have been behind an attack in Kenya that killed three people as they watched England during Euro 2012, according to reports.

The 28-year-old, whose husband Germaine Lindsay killed 26 people aboard a Piccadilly Line train, is being hunted through east Africa in connection with a foiled plot to attack hotels in Mombasa. Kenyan police last night said that a woman matching Lewthwaite’s description had been seen near the Jericho Beer Garden shortly before a grenade attack on Sunday night which killed three and left 25 injured. “We suspect Samantha Lewthwaite was actively involved in the terrorist attack on the club,” a Kenyan official told the Daily Mail.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram Concern U.S. Africa Commander

Al Qaeda and its relative organizations are finding areas on the African continent where they can operate mostly unfettered and could be forging new cooperative alliances. That concerns U.S. Africa Command’s top military officer Army Gen. Carter Ham. In a June 25 speech at the African Center for Strategic Studies in Arlington, U.S. Ham said while it is true the U.S. military is focused on the Asia-Pacific region and the middle east, the strategic guidance refers to “some very consistent and very relevant priorities for those of us who operate with our African partners.” These include combating extremist organizations, transnational threats and illicit trafficking; countering piracy, building partner capacity; developing nations’ capabilities to deal with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions; and contributing to regional security, Ham said.

According to a report from the American Forces Press Service, which is operated by the Department of Defense, Ham said Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram, pose particular concerns on the continent. U.S. military officials, he said, are increasingly concerned with the Islamic Maghreb, which has a safe haven in a large portion of Mali after a military coup.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Christians, Muslims to Embark on Joint Preaching

Minna — Muslims and Christians under the aegis of Interfaith Group for Peace in Niger State have concluded arrangements to commence a joint preaching programme to promote peaceful co-existence among Muslims and Christians in the state. Addressing newsmen yesterday in Minna, chairman, planning committee of the group, Mohammad Jameel Mohammad, said 12 persons were drawn from the Network of Islamic Organization for Peace (NIOP) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to design the activities that would bring the two religious bodies together with a view to promoting relative peace in the state. He added that the group has put together short, medium and long term plans, and that under the short term plan, the group would visit secondary schools, compose radio and television jingles, produce joint leaflets on peace for Muslims and Christians, as well as organize a two days seminar for resource persons on interfaith dialogue. According to him, under the medium term plan, the group would be mainly concerned with interfaith mobile clinics, visitation to primary schools and drama presentation, while the long term plan would focus on visitation to churches and mosques.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Mexico City Airport Shootout Leaves Three Police Dead

Three Mexican policemen have been killed in a shootout with two other officers at Mexico City’s main airport. Officials say those shot dead were attempting to arrest the two officers who are suspected of involvement in a cocaine trafficking ring.

Passengers dived for cover when the suspected traffickers opened fire, killing two officers immediately and injuring a third who later died. The two suspects escaped and are being sought by the authorities.

Officials said they had spent 18 months investigating corrupt federal and local officials who they suspect are part of a drug trafficking ring operating at the airport.

The area was sealed off immediately after the incident but flights were reported to be operating normally in and out of the airport. “When the alleged perpetrators were surrounded by the police, shots were fired against the federal agents,” a security ministry statement said.

The two officers have been identified, authorities said. Eyewitness Israel Lopez told the Associated Press news agency: “We were in the food court, and some policemen came in and started shooting at another policeman who was on the floor.”

The BBC’s Will Grant in Mexico City says shootings in public spaces in broad daylight remain rare in the capital, which has been largely insulated from the violence seen elsewhere in the country.

Though traffickers use the capital’s main airport to move drugs, money and illegal migrants and have seized 440lb (200kg) of cocaine there so far this year, violence related to drug trafficking seldom occurs in passenger areas.

Reuters reports that gang violence has been growing in Mexico City and its suburbs, with around 300 gang-related murders last year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Australia: Entire 737 Used to Transport Injured Asylum Seeker

AN ENTIRE 737 plane was chartered just to fly one injured asylum seeker from Christmas Island to Perth, it has emerged.

The aircraft, which usually carries around 130 passengers flew the man, a detention centre guard and an immigration to Perth on Saturday so the man could receive urgent medical attention.

The man is believed to be on the asylum seeker boat which sank last week and was being treated for two severed fingers.

The Immigration Department has confirmed the plane was used to transport the man.

However, a department spokesman told the West Australian the decision was made to use the jet to move the man because it was already sitting on standby at Christmas Island’s airport and it was the “quickest and best” way to get him to Perth for treatment…

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Greece: Alarming Rise in Violence Against Immigrants

Foreigners attacked and injured every day

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Racially motivated attacks are becoming more frequent and more violent by the day in Greece but, worse still, most of the attacks go unpunished because the police does not make arrests.

The alarm has been sounded by the Kathimerini newspaper, which reports almost daily brutal attacks and bloody brawls targeting immigrants, both legal and illegal. The paper quotes a surgeon practicing at the Evangelismos hospital in Athens, who says that “during every (12-hour) shift we have to deal with six or seven cases of foreigners who have been attacked and who are suffering from cuts, bruises and often even knife wounds”.

The attackers, who generally catch their victims by surprise, arrive in groups, hooded and dressed all in black, making them difficult to identify. Even if victims are able to identify and report their attackers to police, they are very unlikely to do so for fear of being attacked again, or worse. Yet everyone knows that almost all of the attackers are members or sympathisers of Golden Dawn, the far-right party with clear pro-Nazi sympathies, which at the recent general election earned almost 7% of the vote and 18 seats in Parliament. Kathimerini reports as an indicative factor that attacks against immigrants in the Athens area of Thissio have doubled since the party opened a new office in the area two months ago, a statistic backed up by health officials at the local hospital. A number of attacks have been recorded in the last month across Attica, of which Athens is the capital, but also on the island of Crete.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Refugees in Greece Smuggled Into Europe

Refugees and asylum seekers in Greece may be paying up to €5,000 to get smuggled into Italy and elsewhere in Europe. Children are left behind with the smugglers who use them as “guarantees” or “deposits” to ensure future payment by desperate parents.

Once the parents obtain asylum, in say Sweden or the Netherlands, the smugglers then escort the children to Athens-based NGOs who are then able to reunite them.

“We have become a tool of the smugglers and part of this game,” Kenneth Brant Hansen from the Greek Council for Refugees in Athens told EUobserver.

“Of course we are not happy about this situation; on the other hand we cannot refuse to reunite families especially when it involves minor children,” he said. Hansen said the men who bring him the children are professional Afghan smugglers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Al-Qaida Calls for ‘Forest Jihad’

The latest issue of the al-Qaida propaganda publication Inspire contains the usual dose of narcissism, delusional threats and overwrought tributes to dead terrorists, but what is striking is the space it devotes to an unexpected target: trees. Eleven pages of the online magazine are handed over to discussions about starting forest fires in NATO countries, providing both a tactical and religious justification for it, and an illustrated step-by-step guide on how to do it using a device made out of gasoline and a washing machine timer. “Fire is one of the soldiers of Allah,” it says.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nanoparticles May Explain Moon Dirt’s Odd Behavior

The famously strange behavior of lunar soil may be caused by nanoparticles embedded in the dirt, a new study reports. The study found that nanoparticles — specks of matter whose tiny size imparts exotic and often bizarre properties — are common in samples of moon dirt brought back to Earth by Apollo astronauts.

The discovery may explain why moon soil is such a poor conductor of heat, why it hovers above the lunar surface far longer than gravity should allow, and why it’s so sticky and abrasive — characteristics observed, and sometimes deplored, by moonwalking astronauts four decades ago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]