Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120627

Financial Crisis
»Cyber Criminals Steal Millions From EU Banks
»Cyprus Gets Full-Blown Bailout
»Eurobonds Wrong Choice, Merkel
»Italy: MPs to Incorporate Subsidiaries, Close 400 Branches
»Italy to Put €2bn Into World’s Oldest Bank Banca Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena
»Merkel Blasts Euro Partners on Eve of Summit
»OPEC (Oil Prices Explain Crisis)
»Political Support to Monti, Hollande
»Spain Issues Stark Financing Warning Ahead of EU Summit
»When the Derivatives Market Crashes (And it Will) U.S. Taxpayers Will be on the Hook
»Bain’s World: Inside the Mind of the Next President of the United States
»Breaking: New Evidence Shows Hillary a Mastermind Behind Gunwalker
»Castro’s Puppet Works for “Progressive Congress”
»‘Obama Truth Team’ Orders Godaddy to Shut Down Website
»Terrorism Denial From Dhimmi Democrats
»Unplugged Metal Detector Triggers JFK Chaos
Europe and the EU
»Austrian Family Lives a Life Without Plastic
»Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Tragic Decline of Gibraltar’s Spanish Neighbor
»EU Urges Cyprus to Comply With EU Waste Law
»Germany: Muslims and Jews Outraged by Circumcision Ruling
»Greece: Public Employees, Athens Swindles Troika
»Greece: Microsoft Headquarters in Greece Attacked
»Pope’s Butler to Stay in Vatican Cells
»Queen in Landmark Handshake With Ex-IRA Chief
»The Chinese Presidential Visit Gave China Billions in Export Agreements. The Visit Was Not So Lucrative for Denmark.
»UK: EDL Responds to Harry’s Place ‘Call to Action’ Against Muslim Conference
»UK: Evil Dressed Up as Good
»UK: Michelle Rhee: ‘Witchfinder General’ Of America’s Classrooms Flies in to Give Gove Her Gospel
»UK: Ofcom Condemns Lutfur’s Broadcaster: Should Leveson Have a Look?
»UK: Rowan Williams May or May Not be the Antichrist
»UK: Rowan Williams Was Always an Enemy of the Liberal State
North Africa
»Arab Spring Unsettles Africa’s Sahel Region
»Egypt’s Turmoil
»Egypt: Defeated Candidate Shafiq Leaves With Family
»Egypt: Morsi Open to Iran But Mystery Over Interview
Israel and the Palestinians
»“The Left, The Jews and Israel”
»EU: 9.9 Mln to Poor Palestinian Families
Middle East
»British Muslims Killed Fighting in Dammaj, Yemen
»Can Turkey Sustain Its Economic Miracle?
»Iran: Jews ‘To Blame for Drugs Trade’
»Iran: “Islam-Christianity Make Iran-Russia Close to Each Other”
»Iran: Salman Rushdie Fatwa Turned Into Iranian Video Game
»Lebanon: Asir Accuses Syria, Allies of Launching Campaign Against Him
»Qatar: Emir Buys US Embassy Building and Le Figaro in Paris
»Syria: Sana: Airforce General Kidnapped in Damascus
»Syria: Gunmen Storm Pro-Assad Syrian TV Channel
»Syria: Fierce Fighting Rages Close to Damascus, Assad Acknowledges Country is at War
»UAE: British Man Facing Death Penalty in Abu Dhabi
South Asia
»Insurgent Attacks Kill 10 Police in Afghanistan
Far East
»EU Seeks WTO Panel to Settle China Rare Earths Dispute
»Migrant Workers Clash With Locals in Southern China
»Unhappy Migrant Workers in China Are a Growing Problem
Australia — Pacific
»Inquiry Exposes Fear of Muslims
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Nigeria: Terrorism: IGP Gives Security Tips to Churches, Mosques
»Uganda: Sheikh Sentamu Murder: Police Chase 3 Leads, Remain Clueless
»Australia: Refugee Killed as Boat Capsizes
»Video: Urgent Warning to All Cell Phone Users

Financial Crisis

Cyber Criminals Steal Millions From EU Banks

Cyber attacks have siphoned off at least €60 million from personal and business accounts in 60 banks located in Europe, the United States, and Latin America. Security firms Guardian Analytics and McAfee published the findings in a joint report called “Dissecting Operation High Roller” on Tuesday (26 June).

High-balance accounts in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands were the initial targets of the attacks before they spread out to the Americas.

The experts say at least €2 billion could have been stolen if the fraud campaign had demonstrated the same level of success against accounts based in The Netherlands.

In March alone, fraudsters initiated transfers totaling €35 million from 5,000 Dutch business accounts based in two banks.

The Guardian Analytics and McAfee study identified 60 servers processing thousands of attempted thefts that initially targeted consumers before moving onto businesses. Every class and size of financial institution was targeted.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Cyprus Gets Full-Blown Bailout

Cyprus will receive a full-blown bailout, including with funds from the International Monetary Fund, reads a statement from the Eurogroup of finance ministers on Wednesday. This puts the tiny island nation on the same footing as Greece, Portugal and Ireland. Spain, meanwhile, only gets eurozone bailout money for its banks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Eurobonds Wrong Choice, Merkel

(ANSAmed) — BERLIN, JUNE 27 — “Eurobonds are the wrong way to go,” Angela Merkel told the Bundestag today. “ “Eurobonds and Eurobills are not compatible with the constitution in Germany, I consider them wrong and counterproductive,” said Merkel, repeating the words she said two days ago in Berlin. The chancellor underlined that “guarantees joint liabilities must go hand-in-hand.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: MPs to Incorporate Subsidiaries, Close 400 Branches

Italy’s third biggest bank will sell 60% of Biverbanca

(ANSA) — Rome, June 27 — Italy’s third biggest bank Monte Dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) on Wednesday announced plans to incorporate its subsidiaries into the main group and close 400 branches by 2015 as part of its new industrial plan.

MPS and other Italian banks have seen their share prices hit and long-term debt and deposit ratings downgraded because of their exposure to the eurozone debt crisis.

It also said it was selling just over 60% of the Biverbanca group to CariAsti for 203 million euros.

MPS, which was founded in 1472 and is the world’s oldest bank still doing business, saw its share price gain 3.41% on the Milan stock exchange soon after the announcement.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy to Put €2bn Into World’s Oldest Bank Banca Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena

The Italian government said Tuesday it will provide struggling Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank, with up to €2bn to cover a capital shortfall.

The government has adopted “urgent measures to raise BMPS’s capital funds”, it said in a statement, as Italy struggles to stave off debt crisis contagion.

The aid was necessary because the bank had admitted it was “impossible” to find private investors to boost its funds owing to “currently highly volatile market conditions” as the eurozone crisis intensifies, the government said.

The financial lifeline will allow the Tuscan bank, founded in 1472, to bring its core tier one capital ratio to 9pc of total assets, thereby conforming to the rules of the European Banking Authority (EBA).

On top of the aid, Rome will substitute a loan it gave the bank in 2009 with a new loan, bringing the total amount of aid channelled into BMPS to a maximum of €3.9bn (£3.1bn).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Merkel Blasts Euro Partners on Eve of Summit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has signalled she is ready for a fight at Thursday’s summit, criticizing the euro reform blueprint presented by top EU officials and again ruling out jointly issued debt in the strongest of terms. She warned that Germany can’t save the euro on its own.

Chancellor Angela Merkel reinforced her Nein to euro bonds on Wednesday and sharply criticized euro zone reform proposals presented by top EU officials this week. Her remarks set the stage for what promises to be a difficult, fractious EU summit on Thursday.

In a statement to Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, Merkel made clear that she will not bow to intense international pressure on Germany to agree to joint bond issues that would calm the euro crisis by stabilizing ailing euro-zone member states like Italy and Spain.

She said the blueprint for closer financial integration drafted by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Euro Group President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi contained major shortcomings, and that she would seek support for her own ideas in Brussels.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

OPEC (Oil Prices Explain Crisis)

On the Deep End we don’t exactly overlook the contribution of the Eurozone to the great economic crisis of our times. But there is another multinational enterprise that deserves the occasional mention — the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Writing for the American Interest, Gal Luft and Anne Korin remind us of the importance of oil prices to the economy:

“All but two of the post-World War II recessions were preceded by a sharp spike in oil prices; there is no question that the fivefold increase in oil prices since 2003 has contributed to the current economic dislocation. For perspective, forty years ago, at the zenith of the Cold War, the United States spent $4 billion on oil imports, an amount that equaled 1.2 percent of the defense budget. In 2006, the United States paid $296 billion, equal to half of the defense budget. By 2008, U.S. foreign oil expenditures grew so much they almost equaled the entire defense budget.”

It’s become common for politicians — especially American politicians — to worry about the extent to which we depend on oil imports. But as Luft and Korin point out, it is price not supply that is the real problem. The market for oil is thoroughly globalised, therefore there’s not much that oil producers can do to block supplies to particular importers.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Political Support to Monti, Hollande

Courageous reforms, Italy virtuous country

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — Italy has the “full political backing” of France, and President Francois Hollande “will help” Mario Monti find solutions to get out of the crisis, including the idea of using the European bailout fund as a spread-stabilising mechanism, a source in the Élysée Palace said from Paris. “Hollande,” the source said, “wants to help Mario Monti and recognises the courage and determination of the reforms” launched by the Italian premier. “There is no reason for Italy to finance itself at prohibitively high interest rates. Hollande supports Mario Monti’s Italy on a political level.” Regarding the idea suggested by the Italian premier of using the European bailout fund (FESF) as spread-stabilising mechanism, the source said that it is “a system that allows the more virtuous countries, like Italy, to finance themselves at reasonable rates. It is feasible, we will discuss it, negotiations are in progress. Hollande will help Monti,” the source concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain Issues Stark Financing Warning Ahead of EU Summit

Spain cannot finance itself for long at the high rates it now pays on the markets, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned Wednesday on the eve of a European Union summit.

If Spain, the eurozone’s fourth biggest economy, is shut out of the markets it could lead to a full-blown bailout for the country with unfathomable consequences for the 17-nation eurozone.

“The most urgent subject is the subject of financing,” Rajoy told parliament.

“We cannot finance ourselves for a long time at prices like those we are now paying,” he said as the yield on Spanish government 10-year bonds traded at more than 6.8 percent.

Rajoy’s message served as a blunt warning to his EU partners to take actions to reassure markets and bring down the punitive rates that Spain, Italy and other fragile eurozone economies must pay to finance themselves.

“There are institutions and also financial entities that cannot access the markets. It is happening in Spain, it is happening in Italy and it is happening in other countries,” he said.

Investors are deeply concerned over Spain’s banking sector, which has been thrown a 100-billion-euro ($125 billion) rescue loan by the eurozone to fix balance sheets heavily exposed to the collapsed real estate sector.

But markets also are sceptical of Spain’s targets of slashing the public deficit during a recession with unemployment at 24.4 percent — the highest in the industrialised world. That recession is deepening, the Bank of Spain warned.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

When the Derivatives Market Crashes (And it Will) U.S. Taxpayers Will be on the Hook

Warren Buffett once said that derivatives are “financial weapons of mass destruction”, and that statement is more true today than it ever has been before. Recently, JP Morgan made national headlines when it announced that it was going to take a 2 billion dollar loss from derivatives trades gone bad. Well, it turns out that JP Morgan did not tell us the whole truth. As you will see later in this article, most analysts are estimating that the losses will eventually be far larger than 2 billion dollars. But no matter how bad things get for JP Morgan, it will not be allowed to fail. JP Morgan is the largest bank in the United States, so it is essentially the “granddaddy” of the too big to fail banks.

If JP Morgan gets to the point where it is about to collapse, the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve will rush in to save it. Because of this “security blanket”, banks such as JP Morgan feel free to take outrageous risks. Today, JP Morgan has more exposure to derivatives than anyone else in the world. If they win, they win big. If they lose, U.S. taxpayers will be on the hook. Not only that, but thanks to Dodd-Frank, U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for bailing out the major derivatives clearinghouses if there is ever a major derivatives crisis. So when the derivatives market crashes (and it will) you and I will be left holding a gigantic bill.

Derivatives almost caused the complete collapse of insurance giant AIG back in 2008. But instead of learning our lessons, the derivatives bubble has gotten even larger since that time.


So if the real number isn’t 2 billion dollars, how much will JP Morgan eventually lose?

Morgan Stanley says that the losses could eventually reach 5 billion dollars.

The Independent is reporting that the losses could eventually reach 7 billion dollars.

One author featured on Zero Hedge suggested that the losses could ultimately reach 20 billion dollars…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Bain’s World: Inside the Mind of the Next President of the United States

by Peter Foster

Mitt Romney’s campaign continues to show no sign of sharing with American voters what he’d actually be like as President, once again spending most of Monday giving evasive answers to questions about whether he did or didn’t support the Arizona’s tough immigration laws. Rupert Murdoch, a straight-talker whatever you think of him, expressed the Romney problem succinctly over the weekend, firing off a tweet that fizzed with exasperation at the candidate’s standoffishness.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Breaking: New Evidence Shows Hillary a Mastermind Behind Gunwalker

Last week it was reported that the State Department and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were deeply involved in the scandal known as Operation Fast and Furious, or Project Gunwalker. Today, however, new evidence has surfaced indicating that not only was Hillary deeply involved in the scandal but was one of the masterminds behind it. According to investigative citizen journalist Mike Vanderboegh, sources close to the development of the Gunwalker scheme state that early on, Hillary and her trusted associated at State, Andrew J. Shapiro, devised at least part of the framework of what would later become Operation Fast and Furious. It was Shapiro who first described the details of the proposed scheme early in 2009 just after the Obama Administration took office. Vanderboegh relates the following:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Castro’s Puppet Works for “Progressive Congress”

A former AFL-CIO political director, who is now running a project to establish a “progressive Congress,” walked away in disgust last week when I tried to question her about a trip she had made to Castro’s Cuba. The exchange, such as it was, occurred at the “Take Back the American Dream” conference in Washington, D.C., where Karen Ackerman had appeared on a panel about how to elect progressive candidates in the 2012 elections and ensure Democratic Party control of the House and Senate.

“Why do you care?” she responded, as I pursued her with questions about a pro-Castro junket she took to the communist “island paradise.”

The trip to communist Cuba was one of several initially organized by Weather Underground terrorist Bernardine Dohrn and run by the Cuban intelligence service, the DGI. Young people on the trips were indoctrinated in the communist philosophy and given training in terrorism. Dohrn and her husband, fellow communist terrorist Bill Ayers, were associates of Barack Obama when he was launching his political career in Chicago.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘Obama Truth Team’ Orders Godaddy to Shut Down Website

A political website [] that contained stinging criticism of the Obama administration and its handling of the Fast and Furious scandal was ordered to be shut down by the Obama campaign’s ‘Truth Team’, according to private investigator Douglas Hagmann, who was told by ISP GoDaddy his site contained information that was “maliciously harmful to individuals in the government.”

Hagmann, CEO of Hagmann Investigative Services, Inc., a private investigative agency serving a roster of Fortune 500 clients, was given 48 hours by GoDaddy to find a new home for his website before it was deleted.

Hagmann was told the reason for the shut down was because the website featured “morally objectionable” material. After GoDaddy refused to identify the complainant, only saying that it was not “any official government agency,” further investigation by Hagmann revealed that the order came from a group tied to Obama campaign headquarters.

Speaking with the chief investigator in the GoDaddy Abuse division, Hagmann discovered, “Ultimately it was found that the complaint originated ostensibly with a group associated with the campaign to re-elect Barack Hussein Obama.”

Turning to his contacts within government, Hagmann then spoke with another source who confirmed that the ‘Obama Truth Team’ was responsible for the shut down order.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Terrorism Denial From Dhimmi Democrats

by Daniel Greenfield

There are topics that aren’t supposed to be discussed in polite society. Islamic terrorism has become one of those topics. After September 11, it was put forward to us that the problem was not Islam, but the radicalization of some Muslims. And yet the defenders of that formulation also refuse to discuss Muslim radicalization as a tangible reality, rather than a convenient excuse for shelving the topic. Congressman Peter King’s attempts to hold hearings on Muslim radicalization have been met with attacks from the very people who should be welcoming the hearings. If the problem really is a minority of extremists, then why not hold hearings that delve into how this radicalization occurs and what can be done about it?


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Unplugged Metal Detector Triggers JFK Chaos

These fools are keeping us safe?!?

The TSA’s bungling reached a new low yesterday when a JFK Airport terminal had to be evacuated and hundreds of passengers marched back through security screening all because one dimwitted agent failed to realize his metal detector had been unplugged, sources told The Post.

The stunning error led to hours of delays, two planes called back from the runway and infinite frustration for furious passengers.

“The truth is, this is the failure of the most basic level of diligence,” a law-enforcement source said.

“How can you expect the public to feel confident of the mission of the TSA if they don’t even know if the lights are turned on?”

The chaos at Terminal 7 was caused by screener Alija Abdul Majed, who had manned Lane No. 1 during the morning shift with no idea his metal detector had no juice, sources said.

Amazingly, he failed to realize that alert lights never flashed once as streams of passengers filed through the dead detector, the sources said.

Majed was so clueless that he couldn’t even tell police how long the machine had been shut off or how it happened, the sources said. “It was simply an unplugged machine — the TSA doing its best,” another source said.

Higher-ups at the Transportation Security Administration finally discovered the security boondoggle at 9:44 a.m. — leaving the Port Authority with no choice but to call for a complete evacuation of the international terminal that is home to British Airways, Cathay Pacific, United Airlines and others.

The extraordinary measure meant that two jumbo jets — including a San Francisco-bound United flight — had to return to the gate so passengers could be rescreened at a metal detector that was actually turned on.

The TSA would not confirm or deny that its detector had been unplugged, releasing a statement saying only that a metal detector suffered a “malfunction.”

Eight to 10 flights were delayed as a result of the power-cord bungle, sources said.

Frustrated passengers tweeted photos and gripes throughout their hours-long ordeal.

“How many hours will it take to send a terminal full of people BACK through security?” tweeted one passenger off to Los Angeles.

Other inconvenienced passengers had less of a sense of humor about the situation.

“This is terrible,” said Michael Dorn, 29, who was headed for Hawaii.

“I hate waiting in line. It’s nerve-racking. I don’t know if I will make my flight or why we evacuated.”

Others, like Jason Bailey, who was headed to San Diego, didn’t mind the delay.

“It’s a big inconvenience, but it’s better safe than sorry,” he said.

PA officials reopened the terminal at 11:45 a.m., two hours after they were called in to clean up the TSA mess, sources said. “Obviously, the horse was out of the barn by the time we were notified,” a PA source said.

In scary twist, the source couldn’t be certain that every passenger who went through the powerless detector had been accounted for and hadn’t gotten on a flight.

The incident is just the latest in a long line of TSA fiascoes.

Last year, agents allowed a woman to carry a steak knife onto a plane departing from Newark Airport.

At JFK, agents allowed Eusebio Peraltalajara, 45, to make it onto a flight to the Dominican Republic with the same type of box cutters used by the 9/11 hijackers.

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austrian Family Lives a Life Without Plastic

Is it possible to live modern life without plastic? One Austrian family, concerned about dangers to the environment and health caused by the material, decided to find out. What was meant to last a month has evolved into a new way of life.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Tragic Decline of Gibraltar’s Spanish Neighbor

Many places in Spain are suffering as a result of the euro crisis, but few have been hit as hard as La Línea, a Spanish town which neighbors the prosperous British overseas territory of Gibraltar. With the city on the verge of bankruptcy, many residents have turned to smuggling to earn money. The residents of La Línea de la Concepción are leaving, like rats deserting a sinking ship.

They’ve been crossing the border by the thousands since early morning, first the cleaning women, nannies and construction workers, and then the smugglers. They all want to get out of Spain, if only for a few hours. There is work across the border, in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, and work spells hope for a better life.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Urges Cyprus to Comply With EU Waste Law

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, JUNE 27 — Two EU Member States have not correctly interpreted or applied EU waste laws: Cyprus (for landfill) and Lithuania (for packaging waste), causing harm to human health and the environment, potentially creating barriers to trade and distorting competition. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, the Commission is referring Cyprus to the European Court of Justice and sending Lithuania a reasoned opinion, requesting amendments to its national legislation. The EU Landfill Directive is intended to prevent or reduce the adverse effects of the landfill of waste on the environment, in particular on surface water, groundwater, soil, air and human health. Under the Directive, existing landfills must meet certain conditions in order to continue to operate. In Cyprus several landfills have been found to be operating in violation of the directive. While progress has been made through the closure and rehabilitation of a number of landfills and the establishment of an adequate waste management system, six landfills continue to operate in breach of the EU legislation. These landfills still absorb the waste generated by the municipalities of Nicosia and Limassol, as adequate waste infrastructure has yet to be built in these municipalities. The Commission sent a related reasoned opinion to Cyprus in January 2012, but the reply indicated full compliance is not expected before 2015. Consequently the Commission decided to refer the case to the Court.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Germany: Muslims and Jews Outraged by Circumcision Ruling

Leaders of Germany’s Jewish and Muslim communities have criticized a court ruling they fear could make circumcision a punishable offense in the country. Only 10 percent of German boys are circumcised, but the issue of whether parents should be able to decide if their children undergo the procedure remains divisive.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Public Employees, Athens Swindles Troika

Fired from jobs and re-hired from the back door

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 25 — Four ministers of the former government of Giorgos Papandreou are apparently among the principle culprits for the failure of the Greek memorandum. The news has emerged yesterday from a report by representatives of the Troika (The IMF, EU and ECB). As a matter of fact, according to the document handed to the new officers of the ministry by outgoing finance minister Giorgos Zanias and published on the esteemed weekly magazine To Vima (The Tribune), three ministries — Health, Citizen Protection and Culture and Tourism, plus local committees and agencies, have actually increased instead of decreased their employees in 2010-2011, something which had been agreed upon with the EU authorities.

The report states that “The ministers, while making laws on the reduction of state employees, were hiring others to fill in the gaps and the political agenda and while they were proceeding to approve the law known as “Kallicratis”, to proceed with the fusion of a number of councils and save over 1.5 billion euros, went on to hire over 12,000 employees.” In 2010, as it seems from the report, over 53,000 government employees went on pension, but the number of hired workers remained more or less unvaried: 692,301 units, which basically translates into the fact that almost all of the places which were left free were replaced with new employees being hired. In 2011, when the Troika has already imposed the rule for which every five pensioners there would be only one new employee, 40,025 workers went on pension. Nonetheless, the number decreased only by 24,266 units.

To Vima reports that “the biggest fun” was had by the local committees and agencies where in 2011, 12,000 employees were hired. It is clear that the reform wanted by the minister of the Interior Gianni Ragusis failed due to the incapability to control the economic situation in the sector. Another sector in which the reduction of employees failed is that of the Health ministry where the former minister Andreas Loverdos, other than the hiring carried out in his own ministry to make up for the positions freed after the pensioning, even approved the hiring of about 6,000 employees in the National Health System (ESY) which today gives work to about 90,000 people with dreadful results which are only too familiar with Greeks needing assistance.

The situation hasn’t improved either at the ministry of civil protection where according to the report, former minister Michalis Chissochoidis went ahead to fill the gaps created by the pre-pensioning plan of those who were afraid of further cuts in salary and of the prolonging of the years of service necessary to reach a pensionable age. In 2010 2,257 new workers were hired, whereas the Troika is in search of at least 500 people “hired in a very vague manner”.

Instead of diminishing, the number of officials has risen also at the ministry of culture and tourism in the period in which Pavlos Geroulanos was minister. In the 2010-2011 biennium, there were 1,000 new people hired. After all it is clear that nothing was done even to move out 150,000 jobs from state administration as had been agreed upon between the Greek government and the Troika.

The agreement also foresaw the abolition of the State agencies which were not being employed and the acceleration of procedures to ascertain the real working validity of the staff which should be completed within 2012 with the abolition of 15,000 jobs. To all of this one must also add the double electoral vote in just 40 days with negative consequences in the administrative sector of the state, because as they say in Greece, “it already doesn’t work when it should, never mind during the elections.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Microsoft Headquarters in Greece Attacked

Assailants attacked the offices of Microsoft in Athens early on Wednesday, driving a van through the front doors and setting off an incendiary device that burned the building entrance, police said.

There were no reports of injuries in the pre-dawn attack on the US company’s headquarters in the Greek capital, located in the Maroussi suburb north of the city centre. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Authorities said no warning call had been made before the attack. Greece has experienced attacks by several small armed anarchist or domestic terrorist groups for decades, which usually target official buildings, banks or symbols of state power with small bombs or incendiary devices. The attacks usually occur late at night and rarely cause injuries.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pope’s Butler to Stay in Vatican Cells

Paolo Gabriele arrested last month following document leaks

(ANSA) — Vatican City, June 26 — Pope Benedict XVI’s butler is set to remain in a cell inside the Vatican after being arrested last month for being in possession of sensitive Church documents, the Holy See’s spokesman said on Tuesday.

The spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, added that Vatican prosecutors had not set dates for more questioning of Paolo Gabriele for the moment.

Gabriele was arrested on May 25 for allegedly being in possession of illegally obtained documents linked to the so-called ‘Vatileaks’ scandal regarding the leaking of confidential Catholic Church papers to the Italian press earlier this year.

The documents included letters to the pope and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone from the Holy See’s ambassador in Washington, Carlo Maria Vigano’, who was the deputy governor of Vatican City when they were written.

The letters contained allegations of corruption in the management of Vatican City.

The Vatican has denied speculation that there are suspicions senior clergymen, including a cardinal, are suspected of involvement in the leaks and blasted media coverage of the affair.

Bertone accused journalists of playing at being Dan Brown, saying they were guilty of “inventing tales and peddling legends” in an interview with Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana.

Bertone also said Benedict was baffled at why his butler Paolo Gabriele ended up being involved.

“The pope has asked himself many times, with distress, for an explanation about the motive for the gesture of Paolo Gabriele, who he loved like a son,” Bertone said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Queen in Landmark Handshake With Ex-IRA Chief

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth shook hands Wednesday in Belfast with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness, a move hailed as a milestone following three decades of sectarian violence. McGuinness is now a deputy first minister of Northern Ireland.

AFP — Queen Elizabeth II shook hands with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness on Wednesday in a landmark moment in the Northern Ireland peace process, Buckingham Palace said.

The initial handshake between the queen and McGuinness, who is now deputy first minister of the British province, took place away from the media spotlight behind closed doors in a Belfast theatre.

The two then shook hands a second time for the cameras as the queen left the building. McGuinness held the monarch’s hand for a few moments, spoke to her in Irish and told her the words meant: “Goodbye and God speed.”

The meeting is seen as an important milestone in Anglo-Irish relations after three decades of sectarian violence, known as “The Troubles”, which largely ended with the Good Friday peace agreement in 1998.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said the handshake had “taken relations between the two countries to a new level”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Chinese Presidential Visit Gave China Billions in Export Agreements. The Visit Was Not So Lucrative for Denmark.

The bottom line following the recent Chinese presidential visit is that billions went to China while Denmark, for the moment, has to make do with millions.

In the three days that the visit lasted, Danish and Chinese companies signed agreements totalling some DKK18billion, according to Information. But most of that was Danish investment in China, while the oncoming traffic to Denmark totalled a few hundred million.

“China has only begun to scratch the surface in investing in Europe — but it is one of the places in the world where there is capital available for investment,” says Confederation of Danish Industries (DI) China Adviser Nis Høyrup Christensen.

“It is worrying that there is not too much Chinese investment in Denmark. The problem is that it is not until recently that Denmark has become interesting for the Chinese,” he tells Information.

According to DI’s calculations, Danish companies are currently investing some DKK300billion more abroad, than foreign companies are investing in Denmark.

“The result following the presidential visit shows that Denmark is following the trend in the rest of the world. China is the country that is attracting investment,” Høyrup Christensen says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: EDL Responds to Harry’s Place ‘Call to Action’ Against Muslim Conference

Where does the English Defence League get its ideological inspiration from? Well, obviously from the likes of Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, with whom the EDL is jointly organising the launch of a “worldwide counter-jihad alliance” in Stockholm in August. However, the international counterjihad movement is not the only source of inspiration for the EDL. They also take their cue from the terrorism-supporting Zionist blog Harry’s Place, as is shown by their enthusiastic response to a “call to action” against a so-called “jihadist conference” in London next month, posted at HP by Hasan Afzal of British Muslims for Israel.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Evil Dressed Up as Good

by Martin Durkin

The Archbishop of Canterbury is writing a book in which he lambasts the government for shrinking the State. In its current ‘shrunken’ form, the state accounts for around half of the UK economy. This is evidently sinful. It should be bigger, presumably like the economies of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. Anglicanism has become extremely political. The Archbishop’s Council has just reprimanded the government for vetoing changes to the EU treaty last December and warned them not to think of leaving the EU. In his speech at the St. Paul’s service to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee, the Archbishop cursed bankers and said we ought to look after the environment and be less greedy. A short while ago the churchmen were expressing support for the posh anti-capitalist demonstrators outside St. Paul’s.


Thank God he’s going.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Michelle Rhee: ‘Witchfinder General’ Of America’s Classrooms Flies in to Give Gove Her Gospel

Richard Garner meets the woman who lives to sack teachers

Michael Gove yesterday endorsed the policies of an American education expert who advocates sacking large numbers of incompetent teachers. Michelle Rhee has earned a reputation as a “witchfinder general of the classroom” in the US, identifying under-performing teachers and forcing them out of the profession. She also advocates dramatic pay rises for talented teachers who help pupils obtain good grades. This week she flew into Britain to pass on her experience to ministers and education officials — and the Education Secretary indicated that her hard-nosed policies could well be adopted here.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Ofcom Condemns Lutfur’s Broadcaster: Should Leveson Have a Look?

As Lord Justice Leveson comes towards the end of his scrutiny of the links between politicians, businesses and the national press, he may want to have a chat with the broadcasting regulator Ofcom for its views on what is happening in Tower Hamlets. It goes without saying that the media has some influence over people’s opinions, but in Tower Hamlets its role is crucial. There is probably no other borough in Britain in which there is such an appetite for “news”. The Bengali population, particularly the more elderly, devour the bulletins broadcast in Bangla by several satellite TV stations, including ATN Bangla, Channel i and Channel S. However, in all the years I’ve been covering Tower Hamlets, it has been rare to see reporters from those TV stations actually attend council meetings. Yes, cameras are banned, but that doesn’t stop proper journalists observing proceedings and filing reports outside.

Instead, these channels rely on council press releases and town hall handouts. When Labour was in power, they knew this and for years, their cabinet councillors quite sneakily and divisively held briefings exclusively for the Bengali media. Papers such as the East London Advertiser were deliberately excluded from these cosy affairs, often held at various curry houses in Brick Lane. When the Commission for Racial Equality found out, they ruled the practice divisive. However, to some extent, this still goes on. Mayor Lutfur Rahman, more than anyone else, knows the power of these satellite channels and he has spent years courting them, including Channel S, which was founded (and quite possibly still run) by Mohammed Ferdaus Jalil, a convicted insurance fraudster. So important is Channel S that Mayor Rahman poached its chief reporter Mohammed Jubair to act as his special political adviser on media affairs. Well, I say “poached” but that’s not strictly true because Jubair continued to work for Channel S. Could you imagine the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson doubling up as an adviser to David Cameron? In Tower Hamlets, though, anything goes.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Rowan Williams May or May Not be the Antichrist

by James Delingpole

I am a bit worried about the Rev Dr Magister. Or the Archbishop of Canterbury, as he is known these days. It seems to me that behind that wild, comedy-wizard beard and those gnomic, overintellectual pronouncements and Rev JC Flannel platitudes lurks a malign spirit of genuinely evil purpose and influence. And I’m not the only one to have noticed. So has Martin Durkin. In a characteristically brilliant essay titled Evil Dressed Up As Good, Durkin notes the paradox of the modern Church: that while expressing much concern for issues like the plight of the poor and the state of the planet, it persistently champions policies guaranteed to make the poor poorer and the planet more ruinously ruined than ever.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Rowan Williams Was Always an Enemy of the Liberal State

by Theo Hobson

Do the archbishop’s remarks about Muslims and the state mean he sees that he’s mishandled the issue of religion in public life?

Rowan Williams has flashed a few glimpses of his final book as archbishop. One of these relates to British Muslims. Muslims living in Britain should show loyalty to “the nation state” rather than “the international Muslim community”. They “must make clear that their loyalty is straightforward modern political loyalty to the nation state”. It is hard to know what to make of this. For 10 years he has been sending out a very different message, insisting that religion of all stripes is threatened by the aggressively secular liberal state. He has often implied that all serious religious believers are naturally wary of “modern political loyalty to the nation state”. For example in a lecture of 2008 (shortly after the sharia law episode), he argued that the Christian had an alternative “citizenship” beyond the state: for the believer “the community to which you belong is greater than any limited human society”. The secular state must be resisted, for it gravitates towards “coercion of conscience”. Has he now belatedly understood that his handling of the whole issue of religion in public life has been one-sided?


[Reader comment by Piggy1 on 27 June 2012 at 9:21 AM.]

Perhaps he’s right

And if Muslims in the UK were to show loyalty to the UK rather than the ummah we would not have Muslims in the UK trying to kill fellow citizens. But then that would mean rejecting part of Islam so it’s not really going to happen.

[JP note: Hobson’s choice.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Arab Spring Unsettles Africa’s Sahel Region

The demise of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has sent shock waves through the Sahel and Mali has been hit the worst. The roar of the Arab Spring still rumbles through many African countries.

A date for a presidential election had been fixed, but the band of Malian soldiers was not prepared to wait. At the end of March 2012, four weeks before the ballot, President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup. The coup plotters alleged that he was incapable of running the country or of defeating the rebels in the north. Since the beginning of the year, the rebel Tuaregs and their allies had been notching up territorial gains in their campaign against the government in Bamako. Their ranks had been filled by mercenaries, who just months beforehand had been fighting for the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. This was something the Malian military felt they could tolerate no longer and so they decided to seize power.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Egypt’s Turmoil

While the evening news showed thousands of Egyptians in Cairo’s Tahrir Square celebrating the election of Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohammed Morsi, what it did not show was the nearly fifty percent of Egyptians who did not show up to vote, nor those Egyptians who now have good cause to live in fear for their lives, the Copts, a Christian sect that has long been under attack there, and others who are not Muslims.

Modern day Egypt dates back back to the days of Farouk the first, the tenth ruler from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty, who succeeded his father in 1936 and was overthrown in a 1952 revolution. In the wake of the revolution, he was replaced by Gamal Abdel Nasser who died in office. Following the assassination of Anwar al-Sadat, Hosni Mubarack, took over in 1981 until being forced from office in 2011.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Defeated Candidate Shafiq Leaves With Family

Heads for Abu Dhabi, ex-intelligence boss Soleiman also away

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JUNE 26 — Ahmed Shafiq, the defeated candidate in Egypt’s presidential elections and the last man to serve as Prime Minister under Hosni Mubarak, has left Egypt for Abu Dhabi along with his two daughters and three grandchildren, say sources from Cairo airport. The sources say that the Mubarak’s former head of intelligence, Omar Soleiman, also left the country for the same destination with his family this morning.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Morsi Open to Iran But Mystery Over Interview

Comments to FARS on Camp David change denied

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JUNE 25 — Mohamed Morsi’s term as President of Egypt has begun with international confusion in both the diplomatic and information sectors after Egypt’s new head of state granted an interview to the Iranian agency FARS. The content of the interview, which was seized by the main international news agencies, was denied first by the Muslim Brotherhood and then officially by Egypt’s press agency. “Morsi has given no interview or statement,” a presidential source said. Taking in strategic relations with Tehran, after a “great cold” of more than 30 years, a change to Camp David peace agreements with Israel, a cornerstone of Egyptian foreign policy under Hosni Mubarak, and distance from Saudi Arabia, a historic ally of Egypt’s, the new President’s interview with the semi-official Iranian agency has been enough to generate major uproar and redesign completely new foreign policy only a few hours after the announcement of the results of the presidential elections.

Suspicions were initially raised by comments attributed to Morsi over the change to the Camp David agreements, the day after his first televised speech as President-elect, in which he said that Egypt respects all international agreements and treaties. “We will review the Camp David agreements,” FARS quoted Morsi as saying. “But all of this will be done by government and cabinet organs because I alone will not take decision,” says the Iranian agency’s wire, which leads with the headline “New Egyptian leader underlines need to review Camp David agreements”. A few hours before the denial, a close collaborator of Morsi’s reaffirmed the President’s stance during the election campaign, saying that the agreements would be respected and that the peace deal with Israel would only be modified after a popular referendum.

Upon reading the text, the analyst and professor of political science, Mahmoud Zaher, who was contacted by ANSA for analysis on what appeared to be a radical reorientation of Egypt’s foreign policy, expressed strong doubts over the reliability of the interview. “Decisions on relations with Iran do not depend only on him,” Zaher said. “Morsi has not yet taken oath, has yet to form his presidential team and the military is still in power. During his election campaign, he continuously said that he wanted to maintain balanced relations with all countries, including Iran, and we should not forget that the Military Council has constantly said that the National Security Council is in charge of the matter. In all of this, though, one fact remains. Tehran was quick to congratulate Morsi yesterday, while the Israelis, also yesterday, said that they respect the outcome of the vote in Egypt. The congratulations of the Saudi King, Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz, however, only came today.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

“The Left, The Jews and Israel”

by Winston Pickett

This is the subtitle of a new book by historian Robert Wistrich (University of Nebraska Press). As a stand-alone, its apparent neutrality gives little away, reminding me of T.S. Elliot’s Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The topic appears cool and analytical, ‘like a patient, etherised upon a table.’ Until, that is, you look at the full title: From Ambivalence to Betrayal.

When talking about the Left, this pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? Perhaps not. Readers will need to wait until this Friday’s edition of the Jewish Chronicle to find out. I’ve written a profile of the head of the well-known director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at Hebrew University, where I focus on the ‘betrayal’ aspect of the title as a key to Wistrich’s thesis.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

EU: 9.9 Mln to Poor Palestinian Families

Contribution channeled by Pegase, which gave 1,34 bln since 2008

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JUNE 25 — For the second time this year, the European Union has contributed approximately 9.9 million euros to the Palestinian Authority’s quarterly payment of social allowances that will directly benefit 64,417 eligible Palestinian families living in extreme poverty in the West Bank and Gaza.

Identified in cooperation with the PA Ministry of Finance, eligible beneficiaries are households living in extreme poverty registered under the cash transfer programme of the PA Ministry of Social Affairs. The programme is designed to provide basic safety net to the poorest and most vulnerable Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, through cash and in-kind assistance.

Payments will be made across a network of local banks.

Like most of the European Union’s assistance to the PA, this contribution is channelled through PEGASE (‘Mecanisme Palestino-Europeen de Gestion de l’Aide Socio-Economique’), the European mechanism for support to the Palestinians, launched in 2008.

As well as helping to meet a substantial proportion of its running costs, European funds support major reform and development programmes in key ministries, to help prepare the PA for statehood. Since February 2008, 1.34 billion euros have been disbursed through the PEGASE Direct Financial Support programmes. In addition, the EU has provided assistance to the Palestinian people through UNRWA and a wide range of cooperation projects.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

British Muslims Killed Fighting in Dammaj, Yemen

Two men from a mosque in West London have been killed fighting alongside Islamic fundamentalists in Yemen, it can be disclosed.

The two men, one a former accountancy student, had travelled to a religious school to study Islam but took up arms in Yemen’s increasingly bloody civil war, their friends and relatives told the Daily Telegraph. They were killed fighting rival shia Muslims in the mountains around the small town of Dammaj in Northern Yemen, according to one report.

It comes as Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5, warned that Yemen has become a destination for a small number of British “would-be jihadis” seeking to use the Arab Spring for training and militant activity. The father of one of the men said he considered his son to be “shaheed” [a martyr] and his whole family had been inspired to adopt fundamentalist Islam. Both men attended a small mosque in Cranford, West London, under the flight path into Heathrow, which was also occasionally attended by Asif Hanif, Britain’s first suicide bomber. Hanif killed himself in an attack on a waterfront bar called Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv in 2003.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Can Turkey Sustain Its Economic Miracle?

Turkey has impressed the world with its decade-long economic boom. But many economists are raising doubts about the future and suggest that Turkey cannot continue its growth pace with the current model.

Despite the gloomy economic outlook in Europe, Turkey’s economy continues to grow rapidly, making the country an attractive destination for foreign investments. Economic growth was close to 7.5 percent in 2011 and this year the Turkish government estimates the economy to expand by a further 4 percent. Turkey’s exports and imports continue to rise, as another sign of strength of the world’s 15th-largest and Europe’s 7th-largest economy. Turkey’s sovereign debt has been reduced to just 42 percent of its gross domestic product, one of the lowest levels in Europe after Sweden and the Czech Republic.

Following all the recent positive developments, Moody’s, one of the world’s top three rating agencies, last week raised Turkey’s national credit rate to Ba1, strengthening the country’s position as an emerging financial power.

Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said Moody’s upgrade was “right, but not enough.” He stressed that where Turkey once had been dependent on International Monetary Fund credits, it had now gained a stronger profile, becoming one of the creditors of the IMF and even recently pledging $5 billion (4 billion euros) to its crisis fund. Stressing that Turkey’s budget gap — GDP ratio is smaller than most of the EU countries, Caglayan said the country deserved a higher rate, at the very least an “investment grade” level.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iran: Jews ‘To Blame for Drugs Trade’

Iran’s vice president used the podium of an international conference on drugs in Tehran yesterday to deliver a baldly anti-Semitic speech, saying that the Talmud, a central text of Judaism, was responsible for the spread of illegal drugs around the world.

European diplomats in attendance during the speech by the vice president, Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, expressed shock. Even Iranian participants in the conference, co-sponsored by Iran and the United Nations, privately wondered at the Iranian government’s motivation for allowing such a speech, despite its longstanding antagonism toward Israel.

More than 25,000 Jews live in Iran, and they are recognized as a religious minority, with a representative in parliament.

The speech seemed bound to further isolate Iran just days before a new set of onerous Western economic sanctions, notably a European embargo on Iranian oil, is set to be enforced because of the longstanding dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. Iran says their nuclear program is peaceful; Western nations and Israel suspect it is a cover to develop the ability to make nuclear weapons.

Mr Rahimi, second in line to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the Talmud “teaches to ‘destroy everyone who opposes the Jews.”

The “Zionists” are in firm control of the drug trade, Rahimi said, asking foreign dignitaries to research his claims.

“Zionists” is Iran’s ideological terminology for Jews who support the state of Israel.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anybody who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict. They do not exist. This is the proof of their involvement in drugs trade,” he said.

What made his remarks even more striking is that Iran’s fight against the illegal drug trade is one of the few issues in which the Islamic republic can count on Western sympathy. Iran’s battle to stop the flow of drugs coming in from neighbouring Afghanistan has often been mentioned as a potential field of cooperation during negotiations between world powers and Iran over the country’s nuclear programme.

Several Iranian ministers gave politically neutral briefings on the impact of the drug trade on the country. Antonio De Leo, the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes representative in Iran, praised the Islamic Republic as a “key strategic partner in the fight against drugs.”

Mr Rahimi, who spoke after De Leo, told stories of gynecologists killing black babies on the orders of the Zionists and claimed that the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was started by Jews, and he said that mysteriously no Jews died during that uprising.

He said the Talmud teaches Jews to think they are a superior race.”They think God has created the world so that all other nations can serve them,” he said.

Halfway through the speech, Rahimi said there was a difference between Jews who “honestly follow the prophet Moses” and the Zionists who are “the main elements of the international drugs trade.”

A European diplomat said afterward: “This was definitely one of the worst speeches I have heard in my life. My gut reaction was: Why are we supporting any cooperation with these people?”

But the diplomat, who declined to be identified by name or country, defended his presence at the conference.”If we do not support the United Nations on helping Iran fight drugs, voices like the one of Mr. Rahimi will be the only ones out there,” he said.One Shiite Muslim cleric, a judge, said that he was appalled by the speech. T

The judge, who also requested anonymity because of his sensitive position, said the world must ignore Rahimi and he hoped that he and Mr Ahmadinejad would disappear after the presidential elections in 2013.

“We all need to be patient for some more months,” the judge said.

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Iran: “Islam-Christianity Make Iran-Russia Close to Each Other”

MOSCOW, Russia (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Iran’s Secretary General of World Assembly of Islamic Religious Proximity said that Islam and Orthodox Christianity talks have made Iran and Russia close to each other. Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri in a meeting with Archbishop Eilarion, head of foreign relations office of Russian Orthodox Church, on the sidelines of the 8th round of Islam and Orthodox Christianity talks on Tuesday said that he considers his participation in this round of talks very valuable. He added, ‘There is a special closeness between Shia and Orthodox Christianity and we found out this reality in the recent years when we are so close to each other.’ The 8th round of talks between Islam and Russian Orthodox Christianity started its work on Tuesday and will continue until Wednesday.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Iran: Salman Rushdie Fatwa Turned Into Iranian Video Game

The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict unveiled as Tehran hosts games expo

Salman Rushdie was the target of a notorious fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic of Iran, 23 years ago. Now, the author of The Satanic Verses is the subject of an Iranian computer game aimed at spreading to the next generation the message about his “sin”. The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict is the title of the game being developed by the Islamic Association of Students, a government-sponsored organisation which announced this week it had completed initial phases of production.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Asir Accuses Syria, Allies of Launching Campaign Against Him

Imam of Sidon’s Bilal bin Rabah mosque Salafist cleric Ahmed al-Asir considered on Tuesday that the campaign against him by the Syrian regime and its allies is linked to his opposing stances. “The allies of the Syrian regime are besieging me” by turning the Sunnis against him, he told the Kuwaiti al-Seyassah newspaper. Asir pointed out that the Syrian regime wants to maintain its hegemony on the Lebanese people by “enslaving them to the regime.” “Anyone who dares to say no or demands his rights will be humiliated and even killed,” he said.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Qatar: Emir Buys US Embassy Building and Le Figaro in Paris

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, JUNE 25 — Qatar has purchased for 300 million euros the building which hosts part of the US Embassy in Paris and the main offices of Le Figaro newspaper, as reported by weekly magazine Arabian Business. The building of 23,000sqm is in 14 Boulevard Hausmann in the centre of Paris. It’s not the first American Embassy to be purchased in Europe by the Emirate: also in 2009 Qatar bought the US Embassy building in London.

News of the new purchase in Paris arrives a day after the announcement that a group of American hotels, Starwood Capital, sold four French Hotels to a Doha investor, including the famous Martinez in Cannes and the Concorde Lafayette in Paris.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Sana: Airforce General Kidnapped in Damascus

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, JUNE 26 — An airforce general of the Syrian army, Faraj Shehadeh al-Muat, “has been kidnapped today in Al-Adawi street”, state agency Sana reports. Al-Adawi street is in the heart of the capital, about 3 km from the offices of the UN observers and a few steps from the government offices.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Gunmen Storm Pro-Assad Syrian TV Channel

(Reuters) — Gunmen stormed a pro-government Syrian TV channel headquarters on Wednesday, bombing buildings and shooting dead three employees, state media said, in one of the boldest attacks yet on a symbol of the authoritarian state.

President Bashar al-Assad declared late on Tuesday that his country was “at war”. U.S. intelligence officials said the Syrian regime was “holding fairly firm” and digging in for a long struggle against rebel forces who are getting stronger.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syria: Fierce Fighting Rages Close to Damascus, Assad Acknowledges Country is at War

Only rarely since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad broke out 16 months ago has fighting raged so close to Damascus, the capital that has stayed largely loyal to the regime. “This is the first time that the regime has used artillery in fighting so close to the capital,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Agence France-Presse.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UAE: British Man Facing Death Penalty in Abu Dhabi

A British man has been sentenced to death in Abu Dhabi after being caught selling cannabis worth just £250 to an undercover policeman.

The Briton was caught, along with a Syrian man, trying to sell 20 grammes of marijuana to a local police officer for 1,500 dirhams, Abu Dhabi criminal court was told. , Neither of the men has been named, but they were aged 21 and 19 respectively. The men’s mothers were in court, according to local newspaper reports of the case, and the British mother broke down in tears as the death sentence was handed down. Legal experts said however, that it was unlikely the sentence would be carried out — the only man to have gone before a firing squad in the United Arab Emirates in the last four years was a local man convicted of raping and murdering a four-year-old boy.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Insurgent Attacks Kill 10 Police in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Insurgent attacks in several parts of Afghanistan have killed 10 police officers over 24 hours, officials said Wednesday. Warming weather in the summer usually brings an uptick in insurgent activity, but the surge this year is more than expected. Data from the NATO military coalition in Afghanistan show that attacks increased sharply in May compared with same time of year in 2011, from around 2,500 incidents to around 3,000. Statistics for June were not yet available.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

EU Seeks WTO Panel to Settle China Rare Earths Dispute

(BRUSSELS) — The European Union asked the World Trade Organization on Wednesday to set up a dispute settlement panel in order to resolve a row over China’s export restrictions on rare earths.

The EU, along with its allies Japan and the United States, tried to end the dispute through formal consultations with China at WTO headquarters in Geneva in April, but Brussels said they failed to reach an agreement.

“China’s restrictions on rare earths and other products are a violation of China’s WTO commitments and continue to significantly distort global markets, creating a disadvantage for our companies,” said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.

“We regret that we are left with no other choice but to solve this through litigation,” De Gucht said in a statement on the dispute, which also includes Chinese restrictions on exports of tungsten and molybdenum.

The United States, Japan and the EU lodged a complaint at the WTO earlier this year, complaining that China was unfairly benefiting its own industries by monopolising global supply of rare earths.

Despite the consultations, “there have been no signals from China that it would remove the restrictions,” the EU statement said.

China produces 97 percent of the world’s supply of rare earths like lutetium and scandium, which are used to make key components for products such as flat screen TVs, hard drives, hybrid car engines or camera lenses.

Critics say Beijing’s strategy is aimed at driving up global prices of the metals and forcing foreign firms to relocate to the country to access them.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Migrant Workers Clash With Locals in Southern China

A rights organization has reported that at least 30 people have been injured in southern China in clashes between migrant workers and locals of Shaxi town.

The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, a rights group, said on Tuesday that scores of people had been injured when police attempted to break up clashes between migrant workers and Chinese locals in Guangdong province’s Shaxi town.

China’s Guangdong province is located next to Hong Kong, and is also known as the “world’s factory floor.” In recent decades, millions of migrant workers have moved to this area in search of job.

The rights group said the Monday’s unrest started after a fight broke out between a migrant youth and a young local man.

Eyewitnesses told AFP that the clashes started Monday afternoon but escalated late night. Several thousand people were involved in these clashes.

“There were lots of riot police outside last night, and there are still many outside now. More than 30 people were injured,” said Liu Tianjin, a Shaxi factory worker.

Chinese officials have confirmed the unrest. “We are now working on it, a local policeman told AFP on condition of anonymity. “There are many police officers posted outside the Shaxi government.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Unhappy Migrant Workers in China Are a Growing Problem

China’s problems with migrant workers aren’t going away, as shown by a fresh outbreak of social unrest in the economic powerhouse of Guangdong. Does the ‘factory of the world’ need to retool its labor system?

Migrant workers in China have long been unhappy with their pay, inhumane treatment in factories and lack of equal education opportunities for their children. They are increasingly launching factory strikes and taking to the streets to protest.

And clashing with locals as a group of migrant workers did on Tuesday in the town of Shaxi in the Guangdong province, which is known as the “world’s factory floor.”

Migration from the countryside has provided the cheap labor that has fueled China’s economic boom. Today, more than half of the 14 million residents in Guangzhou are now migrants. And their numbers are swelling in other cities, too.

The voluntary migration of workers in China — said to be the largest in human history — has not only created huge housing, healthcare and education obstacles for the big cities that have attracted them; it has also helped raise the expectations of those workers and their children who come from towns and villages where options are few.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Inquiry Exposes Fear of Muslims

AUSTRALIANS are comfortable with multiculturalism and racial diversity, but an overwhelming number of people have expressed concerns that Muslims are not integrating and are coming to Australia to impose their values on the nation.

A far-reaching bipartisan federal parliamentary inquiry into the nation’s acceptance of culturally diverse communities, due to report in August, will conclude that the largest issue facing the nation is the acceptance of Muslims, who many Australians fear have an agenda not at one with the country’s values. Labor MP Maria Vamvakinou, who chairs the inquiry, has told The Australian her committee believes the country needs strong political leadership to address the crisis over Islam. She said the committee looking at multiculturalism would not extend “rights” and would not recommend the introduction of a multicultural act because people resented being told what to think.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: Terrorism: IGP Gives Security Tips to Churches, Mosques

Acting Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar has given some security tips to churches and mosques to stave off terrorist attacks. A statement by the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, advised churches and mosques to carry out risk assessment and vulnerability surveys to enable them determine the level of risk, they are exposed to. According to Abubakar, location of the church/mosque, analysis of its neighbourhood demography, size and architectural design of the church/mosque, population of the members, nature of access roads to the place etc are crucial to the assessment survey.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uganda: Sheikh Sentamu Murder: Police Chase 3 Leads, Remain Clueless

Police investigators are following three possible leads to the murder of Sheikh Abdul Karim Sentamu two months ago, The Observer has learnt. The prominent Muslim scholar was gunned down on April 20 along William street, moments after he left a mosque on the same road. His death caused outrage in the Muslim community and Police vowed to hunt down the murderers. Police suspect that Sentamu was still in contact with Jamir Mukulu, the leader of the DR Congo-based Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels; he could, therefore, have been involved in some clandestine activities that led to his killing. The second line of investigation is that the murder might be linked to Muslim leadership wrangles between the factions of Sheikhs Zubair Kayongo and Ramathan Mubajje. Police have also severally questioned the woman who was with him in the car at the time of the shooting.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Australia: Refugee Killed as Boat Capsizes

One body has been recovered after a crowded boat carrying asylum seekers to Australia capsized in the Indian Ocean. Merchant ships have rescued 125 survivors in an area midway between Christmas Island and the main Indonesian island of Java, and an air and sea search is ongoing for as many as 20 people who could still be missing, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Video: Urgent Warning to All Cell Phone Users

If you think the jury’s still out on whether cell phones can be dangerous to your health, then you might want to take the time to listen to this video. Dr. Devra Davis, author of the book, “The Secret History of the War on Cancer,” has been researching the safety hazards of radiation emanating from your cell phone.

Like many people, Dr. Davis just didn’t believe the possibility of cell phones being dangerous — until she studied it. And now, with the toxicological and epidemiological evidence to back up her claims, she’s trying to get the word out that cell phone radiation is not only dangerous, but can be downright lethal.

In her lecture, Dr. Davis explains how the biological impact of your cell phone is not related to its power, which is quite weak, but rather to the erratic nature of its signal and its ability to disrupt resonance and interfere with DNA repair. This is now believed to be the most plausible theory for understanding the wide array of health impacts discovered, which includes cancer…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]