Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120713

Financial Crisis
»Croatia: Gov’t to Privatize Biggest Public Insurance Co.
»Germany Rejects Greek Plea for More Time
»Greece Awash in Crime and Guns
»Greek Unemployment Hits Record Level
»Italy: Monti Hits Back at Accusations of ‘Social Butchery’
»Italy: Officials Irked by Moody’s Downgrade
»Moody’s Probe Wraps as Ratings Agency Downgrades Italy
»Situation Very Difficult, Croatia Finance Minister
»Spanish Civil Servants Protest Wage Cuts
»Brown Appoints California’s First Muslim Superior Court Judge
»Confronting Pamela Geller
»Florida: Muslims Say Group’s Police Training Maligns Faith
»House GOP Intel Committee Chair Calls Bachmann’s Muslim Brotherhood Witch Hunt ‘Very Important’
»No Veep Condi
»Was America First Colonised by Two Cultures at Once?
»What Communists Were for Joe McCarthy, The Muslim Brotherhood is for Michele Bachmann
»Mounties Instructed to Avoid ‘Inflammatory’ Islamist Terms
»Six Security Threats in Mounties’ Crosshairs
Europe and the EU
»European Armies Recruiting Muslim Soldiers
»Germany: Do Baby Hatches Really Save Lives?
»Greek Orthodox Head Defends Church Over Tax Scandals
»Italy: Berlusconi Wants to be Premier for Fourth Time, May Run in Spring
»Lithuania Warned on Soviet Power Plant
»Romania’s Interim President Fires Back at EU Critics
»UK: Firm at Centre of Olympic Security Shambles ‘Has Seen Fee Rise by £53m’
»UK: Fishermead Says No But Council Says Yes to New ‘Mosque’
»UK: Islamophobic Buddhist Sect Gets Planning Permission for Meditation Centre in Lambeth
»UK: I Hate the Olympics
»UK: Irish and Al Qaeda Terrorists in Olympic Threat
»UK: John Terry Cleared: Chelsea Captain Not Guilty of Racial Slur on Anton Ferdinand
»UK: Keep Britain Clean — No Muslims Please
»UK: Muslim Women Quiz Baroness
»UK: Owen Jones: Islamophobia — for Muslims, Read Jews. And be Shocked
»UK: The UFO Files: Aliens ‘Might Come Here for Holidays’
North Africa
»A Visit to the World’s Deadliest Dive Site
»Caroline Glick: Obama’s Spectacular Failure
»Egypt: Slapping, Stabbing and Slaying for Sharia
»Egypt: Two US Tourists Kidnapped in Sinai
»US Policy on Egypt Prepares for a Protracted State of Chaos
Middle East
»Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood to Boycott Early Elections
»MI6 Chief Sir John Sawers: ‘We Foiled Iranian Nuclear Weapons Bid’
»Qatari Investors Buy Valentino
»Syria Unrest: ‘Massacre Leaves 200 Dead’ In Tremseh
»Syria’s Bloody Troubles Are More Complex Than the Media’s Dreamy-Eyed Coverage Would Have You Believe
»Syria Crisis: Tremseh ‘Massacre’ — Live Updates
»Turkey: Winning Arab World Hearts, Minds Through Soaps
»Turkey: Erdogan’s Party Wants to Limit Press Freedom
»Turkey: Erdogan Most Popular Leader in Sunnite Countries
»Valentino Sold to Qatar Royal Family
»White House Not Interested in Iranian Role in Syria
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Suicide Bombers Kill Two Children in Kandahar
»Indonesia: Court Chief Tells Merkel of ‘Freedom to be Atheist or Communist’
»Pakistan: Militants Who Attacked Pakistan Village, Took Hostages, Flee Back to Afghanistan
»Three Killed in Afghanistan Blasts
Australia — Pacific
»Byron Bay Hosts Muslim Students
»Extremist Material Distributed in Mosque Battle
»Gungahlin: Mosque Phobia Moves to Australia
»New Zealand: Foundations Set for Massive Manurewa Mosque
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Mali: Revealed: Proof That Al-Qaeda’s Men Are Operating in Northern Mali
»Most Complete Skeleton of Ancient Relative of Man Found
»Somalia: Documents Found on Body of Al Qaeda’s African Leader Detail Chilling Plans for Kidnapping, Attacks
»Foreign Workers Face Tighter Rules in Singapore
»Italy: Permits for Migrants Who Tell on Exploiting Bosses
»Refugee Hopes for New Life in Australia Come to Dust
»Saudi Arabia: Thousands of Immigrant Workers Die From Exploitation, Torture and Alcoholism
»Spain: Migrant Pressure Rises on Melilla, Door to Europe
»The European Muslim and Islamic Catastrophe: Will Those Responsible be Prosecuted?
Culture Wars
»Muslim and Christian Scholars Team Up to Ask Hotel Chains to Stop Offering Pay-Per-View Porn
»Asteroid Miners to Hitch a Ride With Virgin Galactic
»Earth’s Water Piggybacked on Asteroids, Not Comets
»Message of Islam Can Always Prevail Over Islamophobia
»Why Not Confront Muslim Extremism?
»Why the Courts Will Always Favour the Left — in Britain and America

Financial Crisis

Croatia: Gov’t to Privatize Biggest Public Insurance Co.

Croatia Osiguranje has 1/3 national market share

(ANSAMed) — ZAGREB, JULY 13 — The center-left Croatian government plans to privatize Croatia Osiguranje (CO), the country’s biggest insurance company with one third of national market share, local press made known today.

The state, which owns 82% of CO shares, is putting 50% of these on the block at an estimated value of 270 million euros, but plans to maintain a 25% control in order to have a say in strategic company decisions.

“We took this decision because new capitals will enable CO will to reinforce its market share, especially in the life insurance sector, and also because the state needs the money for deficit financing,” Finance Minister Slavko Linic said.

Over the next 30 days, the government will be accepting bids from prospective investment advisors, who will then present the government with a sales strategy and possible buyers, Linic explained. The government recently also privatized Hrvatska Postanska Banka, the country’s sole remaining publicly-owned bank, in an effort to fulfill its campaign promise to reduce public debt from 4.1% of GDP in 2011 to 2.8%, through a mix of state property sell-offs, tax hikes, and savings incentives.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Germany Rejects Greek Plea for More Time

Earlier this week, Greek leaders suggested they would ask for more time to hit austerity targets demanded by their creditors. Germany, though, is opposed, according to Friday media reports. IMF head Christine Lagarde also said it is “premature to discuss extension.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece Awash in Crime and Guns

Kalashnikovs the weapon of choice

(ANSAMed) — ATHENS, JULY 5 — As in every recession, crime is on the rise in Greece, and handgun sales are rising along with it. The country is averaging 10 armed conflicts a month between police and thieves, and 35 people have died in armed robberies in the first six months of 2012, according to police sources. More than 40 armed gangs have been demolished in the past two years, but 15 gangs are still out there robbing banks, stores and homes. Greece averages 7,000 armed robberies a year, or 20 a day, and the weapon of choice is the Kalashnikov machine gun, according to To Vima weekly. “We import them from Albania along with other weapons, usually hidden among livestock,” one arms trafficker who asked to remain anonymous told To Vima. “There are over 1000 Kalashnikov deposits all over Athens, and we sell them in small quantities.

The most expensive is the Glock, at 4,000 euros, the Zastava model costs 1,000 euros and the folding ones between 1,200-1,500 euros.” There are 600,000 Kalashnikov machine guns in circulation in Greece, and demand is on the rise due to increased police presence on the streets, the anonymous arms trafficker explained.

Law-abiding citizens, usually ones who have already been victims of a robbery or a mugging, are also arming themselves, mostly with rubber bullet weapons.

“Arms sales rose 60% in the past few months, and arms importers have exhausted their stocks,” Andreas Plastourgos, owner of a gun shop in the working class Athens neighborhood of Peristeri told Newsitgr.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greek Unemployment Hits Record Level

Unemployment figures in Greece for the month of April hit 22.5 percent, a new record. Analysts predict the figure will worsen despite a dip during the summer months. Greece has been in recession for five years. Its economy is expected to contract by 6.9 percent in 2012, reports Reuters.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Hits Back at Accusations of ‘Social Butchery’

Premier says Squinzi’s comments will hit borrowing costs

(ANSA) — Rome, July 9 — Premier Mario Monti has hit back after the leader of industrial employers’ confederation Confindustria, Giorgio Squinzi, used the term “social butchery” when criticising the government’s spending review.

The spending-review package features, among other things, big cuts to health expenditure and to the public-sector workforce as part of a bid to raise 26 billion euros over the next three years. It comes after Monti’s emergency government of non-political technocrats introduced a series of controversial economic reforms, including labour-market measures that make it easier for companies to dismiss staff, and an austerity package of tax hikes and spending cuts in December. Monti said Squinzi’s comments risked damaging market confidence in Italy’s ability to weather the eurozone debt crisis and push up the country’s borrowing costs even higher.

“Statements like this cause the (bond yield) spread and interest rates to increase,” the premier said. “This does not just affect the State, it hits companies too”.

Squinzi’s comments were also criticised by some figures inside the business confederation.

“These statements are damaging and they certainly do not express the position of the civil, responsible part of part of Confindustria,” said Ferrari Chairman and former Confindustria head Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Officials Irked by Moody’s Downgrade

Some call for commission of inquiry against ‘campaign’

(ANSA) — Rome, July 13 — Italian officials were irked by Moody’s double downgrade of Italian debt Friday.

“I think our manufacturing country is much stronger than what appears in Moody’s assessments,”, said Giorgio Squinzi, head of the industrial employers’ association Confindustria.

Fabrizio Cicchitto, Senate whip for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, said, “the problem lies in Europe rather than Italy”.

PdL colleague Rocco Girlanda called Moody’s “latest attack on Italy the umpteenth interference of a political nature by a private agency against a sovereign state which is making major efforts to raise the euro and tackle its huge public debt”.

Girlanda called for a commission of inquiry into what he termed a campaign by Moody’s.

Francesco Boccia of the centre-left Democratic Party called on Italian regulators to intervene against what he called an unfair downgrade, just after Italy’s debt-cutting moves had been given pass marks by the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Italian politicians have reacted similarly to past downgrades by Moody’s and Italian prosecutors are investigating the ratings agency.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Moody’s Probe Wraps as Ratings Agency Downgrades Italy

Accused of market manipulation

(ANSA) — Rome, July 13 — Italian prosecutors closed a probe Friday into Moody’s on the same day the New York-based ratings agency downgraded the entire country to two notches above junk status.

The investigation, launched by prosecutors in the southern town of Trani, accuses Moody’s of “spreading false, unfounded and imprudent judgements” on Italy’s financial, economic and banking system, and “manipulating the market”. The news of a Moody’s downgrade Friday came just hours before Italy, the eurozone’s third largest economy, was due to go to the financial markets to raise some 5.25 billion euros in an auction of medium and long-term government bonds.

Responding to complaints from consumer associations Adusbef and Federconsumatori, the same office has opened probes into the two other major New York ratings agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s. “Adusbef and Federconsumatori recalls the damages caused by the three ratings-agency sisters,” said the groups in a statement, calculating damages to the Italian economy of 120 billion euros due to the downgrades. Financial police in January searched the Milan offices of Fitch six days after S&P downgraded Italy along with eight other countries including France and Spain.

The Trani probe into suspected market manipulation began last year and gathered pace after the S&P downgrade and Fitch’s threat to follow suit.

The pan-European markets regulator last week opened an investigation into whether the three big US ratings agencies are sufficiently “rigorous and transparent” in the way they evaluate banks.

The two-year-old European Securities and Markets Authority (EMSA) was alarmed by the rating agencies’ mass downgrade of 15 banks last month, and expects to finish the probe by the end of the year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Situation Very Difficult, Croatia Finance Minister

Zagreb might have to ask IMF for aid

(ANSAMed) — ZAGREB, JULY 11 — “Croatia’s economic situation is extremely difficult and will get worse next year, to the point where we might have to ask the IMF for help,” Finance Minister Slavko Linic told Globus weekly in an interview today.

“There is no other way to define a situation in which GDP is in permanent decline and unemployment is constantly on the rise,” the minister said. “Our foreign debt right now is 47 billion euros (equal to 100% of GDP) and public spending is too high. To really solve our problems we should be spending more, and we have no other choice but to spend less. If the real economy does not recover by the end of the year, 2013 will be even worse. We need to grow at least 5% a year, anything less will not allow us to revert this trend.” Croatian GDP contracted in the first semester, but should post overall 0.8% growth by the end of 2012, according to the latest statistics.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spanish Civil Servants Protest Wage Cuts

Spanish civil servants took to the streets on Friday to protest against a second round of pay cuts. The fonctionnaires are normally entitled to 14-months of pay but Madrid wants to scale it back as part of its larger package to shave €65 billion off the government’s budget through 2015.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Brown Appoints California’s First Muslim Superior Court Judge

The Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council said it had advocated for Dhanidina’s appointment for more than a year. “Dhanidina’s appointment is an important step in ensuring that California’s leaders accurately reflect the communities present in our great state,” said Aziza Hasan, MPAC’s Southern California Government Relations director, in a press statement.

Dhanidina earned his law degree at UCLA, where he served as the co-chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Law Students Association. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Pomona College, where he founded the first Muslim Students’ Association, and currently sits on the Board of Governors of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association Los Angeles.

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

Confronting Pamela Geller

by Harris Zaffar

“As a Jew, I am offended to my core. Muslims have no right to invoke Moses and Abraham. This is a delegitimization of Judaism. It is offensive and vile. And while Jesus is not my guy, the same thing goes for him. It is a delegitimization of Christianity. These are not Muslim prophets.”

This typical quote from Pamela Geller perfectly represents her perplexing manner of argumentation and the blatant ignorance deeply rooted in her work. In this particular case, Geller takes exception with Islam’s acceptance of the prophethood of Abraham, Moses and Jesus Christ. Whereas most people view common beliefs as a means of building bridges of kinship between Jews, Christians and Muslims, Geller feels Muslim’s belief in such prophets is “offensive and vile.” Apparently she feels that Jews have exclusive rights to believe in Moses and Abraham. Paradoxically, her ignorance has no problem granting Christians the right to invoke Moses and Abraham without delegitimizing Judaism.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Florida: Muslims Say Group’s Police Training Maligns Faith

Law enforcement officials across Florida have been repeatedly exposed to training on Muslim extremism “full of inaccuracies, sweeping generalizations and stereotypes,” a complaint filed Wednesday claims. The classes have maligned the Prophet Muhammad and promulgated mistruths about Islam, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations and a number of mosques and smaller Muslim organizations.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

House GOP Intel Committee Chair Calls Bachmann’s Muslim Brotherhood Witch Hunt ‘Very Important’

Yesterday on Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney’s radio show, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) appeared to endorse Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) paranoid quest to root out the Muslim Brotherhood’s alleged infiltration of the U.S. government. Gaffney himself is best known for promoting this particular conspiracy theory but Bachmann picked it up last month and sent letter to various federal departments’ inspectors general asking to them to investigate.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

No Veep Condi

by Diana West

Drudge posted a scare piece last night that gave me nightmares: Condi Rice is supposedly a frontrunner for the Romney 2012 ticket.

This Condi-flutter happened before in 2008 and I was horrified then, too.

Just on the most basic political calculations, you don’t have to be a high-priced political consultant to know that no voter who isn’t already attracted to Romney will flock to a Romney-Rice ticket. No black person, no woman, no state, no constituency would suddenly decide boost a Romney vote count just because Condi was there.

Second (and I can sense the Obama camp licking its chops), selecting Rice would link (manacle) Romney to George W. Bush — a political bonanza for Democrats!

Third, fourth, fifth, etc. are contained in a series of columns and posts I’ve previously written about Rice. The bottom line is that Condoleezza Rice looks at both the United State and the world through a very murky prism of race, seeing in the segregated South she was born in not only the template for struggle everywhere, but also the actors in struggle everywhere. This shockingly parochial view sharply limits her understanding of war and peace at home and abroad. Football Commissioner, fine. Nominee for Vice President, disastrous.

A selection below:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Was America First Colonised by Two Cultures at Once?

What a difference a day makes. Some 25 hours after a comprehensive genetic study suggested humans colonised North America in three successive migrational waves, a new study suggests there might have been a fourth.

Genetic evidence published on Wednesday by David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston suggests that there were at least three migrations into the Americas from Asia. The first, sometime before 13,000 years ago, was the most important, leaving descendants throughout the two continents. The other two came later, and remained in the far north (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature11258).

However, while Reich used samples from contemporary Native American groups in Canada, Central and Southern America, he had virtually no data from those in the US, because of political problems over the use of samples.

Today, Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and colleagues report results of their analysis of stone tools and human DNA from the Paisley Caves in Oregon. The result suggests there may have been two migrations before 13,000 years ago rather than one. Because Reich identified two later migrations, the new result suggests there may have been four migrations into the Americas in total.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

What Communists Were for Joe McCarthy, The Muslim Brotherhood is for Michele Bachmann

by Aaron Rupar

Michele Bachmann thinks the Muslim Brotherhood has made “deep penetration” into the U.S. government, and she wants five federal agencies to launch an investigation into its influence. And you thought McCarthyism was a relic of the 1950s! In a June interview with radio host Sandy Rios, Bachmann said “It appears that there has been deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood… that there are individuals who are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have positions, very sensitive positions, in our Department of Justice, our Department of Homeland Security, potentially even in the National Intelligence Agency.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Mounties Instructed to Avoid ‘Inflammatory’ Islamist Terms

OTTAWA — There is new trouble for the RCMP over a manual that tries to wash out terms like “Islamist” and “jihad” from officers’ mouths when they talk about terrorism. “Distorted and inflammatory linkages between Islam and terrorism can serve to convince Muslims — both in the West and in the larger Islamic world — that the West is, in fact, their enemy,” the manual says. That doesn’t impress anti-terror expert David Harris, of Insignis Strategic Research. “This is, if I may be blunt, an Islamist’s wet dream,” Harris said. “It misstates fundamentally the established history, and undermines warnings of many moderate Muslims about jihad and its possibilities.”

The manual, called Words Make Worlds, dates back to 2009 and also tells Mounties not to fear organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, despite its terrorist links. American anti-terror expert Brian Michael Jenkins says cultural sensitivity is often appropriate, but the RAND Corp. advisor adds that terms the RCMP dislikes are needed to analyze security threats. “The term ‘jihad’ is on the banner of al-Qaida,” says Jenkins. “If they use it, I can use it.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has openly called “Islamicism” a threat to Canada, while Public Safety Canada’s counter-terrorism strategy refers to “Islamist extremism.” Still, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said he doesn’t consider the RCMP’s soft language on terror a concession to Islam. “I think it’s a matter of moving sensitively in what is an area where we need the co-operation of these groups,” he said in Winnipeg. The RCMP had no one available for comment.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Six Security Threats in Mounties’ Crosshairs

OTTAWA — The RCMP expects to make arrests or otherwise “disrupt” at least six suspected terrorist and other national security threats in the coming months. The projection is contained in an RCMP headquarters’ planning document and offers no further details. Such estimates are generally based on the status and progress of ongoing national security criminal investigations, primarily within the force’s five Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams across the country, including one in Ottawa.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

European Armies Recruiting Muslim Soldiers

by Soeren Kern

Germany is seeking to recruit more Muslims into its army: it cannot find enough native Germans to fill its ranks after it abolished the draft. German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière announced his intention to “multiculturalize” the German Bundeswehr (Federal Defense Force) during a June 20 headhunting mission to the Turkish capital Ankara, where he declared: “I want the [German] army to be representative of a cross-section of the German population.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: Do Baby Hatches Really Save Lives?

Germany has over 80 so-called baby hatches, where mothers can anonymously give up their children for adoption. But there is disagreement over whether the facilities help save lives, or if they actually give women the idea of dumping their newborns. Now the government is trying to regulate the legal gray area.

The “baby hatch” is largely hidden from view at the back of a parking lot. From a distance, it looks like no more than a dark hole in the white plastered wall of the clinic.

This facility — intended as a place where anyone can anonymously give up a baby — has been in place here in the town of Erbach im Odenwald in the German state of Hesse since mid-March. It is designed so that once the human cargo has been slid through the confines of the slot, the hatch can no longer be opened from outside.

The crib frame that stands behind the hatch is custom made. An alarm system is in place to alert caregivers when a baby has been placed inside the crib, and heat lamps ensure the child’s survival. Technically speaking, everything is here and ready for mothers or fathers who might wish to give up a newborn child anonymously.

Yet so far the baby hatch has remained locked shut, and it’s unclear whether the facility will ever go into operation. “We have been left totally uncertain,” says Christiane Karnovsky, 53, deputy director of the clinic. “We no longer know if it’s even legal to run this sort of facility.”

That’s a question that’s occupying many people in Germany these days. There are believed to be between 80 and 90 baby hatches in Germany, known here as Babyklappen, but no one knows the exact number. The operation of such facilities raises legal and ethical questions: Does the opportunity to potentially save a child’s life take precedence over that child’s right to later know his or her family background? What about the father’s rights, if a mother gives up a child without his knowledge? Might the very existence of such drop-off points plant the idea in women’s minds to get rid of their children in this supposedly simple way?

Those who run the facilities have been operating without a clear legal basis since the first baby hatch opened in Germany 12 years ago. Some specialists in this field have raised concerns that the subsequent handling of these children is just as nontransparent as the legal status of the operations as a whole.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greek Orthodox Head Defends Church Over Tax Scandals

Taxes in Greece continue to slip through state scrutiny as some corporations, wealthy Greek-ship owning families, and the Greek Orthodox Church are either exempt or use loopholes to hide millions of euros.

In the first five months of 2012, the Greek ministry of finance registered a €300 million shortfall in collected taxes. The shortfall, notes the ministry, is primarily due to corporations having not submitted their taxes on time.

Meanwhile, ordinary Greek citizens are on the front-line of a tax collection scheme that has channelled revenue directly from their electricity bills into the state coffers to help plug the country’s debt.

Associate professor of economics Rapanos Vasileios at the University of Athens says that Greek ship owners are exempt from “some laws”. Most, he told this website, register their boats overseas like in the Cayman islands even if they fly the Greek flag.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Wants to be Premier for Fourth Time, May Run in Spring

Rome, 11 July (AKI) — Three-time Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi will be a candidate when Italians elect a premier no later than the Spring, according to a news report.

Berlusconi, 75, who in November resigned in disgrace during an out-of-control debt crisis, had expressed interest in taking on Italy’s largely ceremonial role of president but would leave the leadership for the country’s centre-right to a his successor as secretary of the People of Freedom party — forty-one-year-old Angelino Alfano.

Mario Monti and a group of un-elected technocrat ministers were appointed to implement cost cuts and reforms to rein in the world’s fourth-biggest debt load and boost confidence among international investors.

Berlusconi came to the decision to run after studying the political landscape and concluding he has enough popular support to win the national election, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Berlusconi last year appeared to have anointed Alfano as his successor, but Alfano on Wednesday on his Facebook page said he would support a candidacy by his much older mentor.

“If he decides to run, I’ll be at his side,” Alfano said.

The billionaire media tycoon will forego a summer vacation at his Sardinia estate to stay at his villa near Milan in order prepare for the campaign, the report said

Berlusconi is Italy’s most divisive politician. Critics say he has used power to create laws custom-made to solve his own legal problems. They say his playboy antics are an international embarrassment. But his supporters praise him as a skilful free-market populist who keeps communism at bay.

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

Lithuania Warned on Soviet Power Plant

The European Parliament warned Lithuania the European Commission may freeze funds aimed at decommissioning its Soviet-era nuclear power plant Ignalina unless it improves its management. Lithuania has until 17 July to convince the Commission it can dispense the available EU funds appropriately. Delays have threatened its 2029 projected completion date.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Romania’s Interim President Fires Back at EU Critics

(BUCHAREST) — Romania’s interim president shot back at European Union officials Friday after they pressured the ex-communist state to safeguard its democratic institutions amid a deepening political crisis.

Romania, one of Europe’s poorest countries, has been embroiled in political turmoil as the government of centre-left Prime Minister Victor Ponta has moved to impeach centre-right President Traian Basescu and curb the powers of the constitutional court.

The EU, the United States and other observers have voiced concerns that the country, which joined the EU in 2007, is undermining its democratic institutions amid the political battle.

Crin Antonescu, the interim president, warned in a speech on Friday: “The president of Romania, even the interim president, doesn’t take orders… from anyone except parliament and the Romanian people.”

His comments came the same day EU officials said they would maintain pressure on Romania to respect the rule of law, but the EU is learning it has relatively few tools at its disposal to sanction difficult members.

Romanian lawmakers last week voted to suspend Basescu in an impeachment drive to be decided in a July 29 national referendum.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Firm at Centre of Olympic Security Shambles ‘Has Seen Fee Rise by £53m’

The company responsible for the Olympic security debacle is being paid £53 million extra for its work, after London 2012 organisers increased its “management fee” almost tenfold.

Confidential Home Office documents seen by The Daily Telegraph show that G4S has had its fee for managing civilian security staff for the Games rise from £7.3 million to £60 million.

The fee the company takes for running its Olympic office has risen more than 10 times faster than its spending on recruitment, the documents show. The firm’s failure to provide enough staff for Olympic sites this week forced ministers to assign an extra 3,500 Armed Forces personnel to security work for the Games. The new military deployment yesterday led to intense scrutiny of the contract and prompted calls for G4S to be banned from future government work.


[Reader comment by country_exile on 13 July 2012 at 09:43 AM.]

They have had seven years to prepare for the Olympics. It is unbelievable that the security firm say they are unable to provide the security people they were contracted to do at a time of mass unemployment two weeks before the games start. It is beyond belief the government have not had a closer handle on this. In any company I have worked for, people would have got fired for this. If this doesn’t constitute incompetence of the first order, what does? My heart goes out to all the servicemen and their families whose holidays have been cancelled, their plans thrown into disarray. Yet again these clowns fall back on the only part of the state machine that actually works. What a shame they are making thousands of them redundant. A national disgrace. Disgusting actually.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Fishermead Says No But Council Says Yes to New ‘Mosque’

PLANS for a Sri Lankan Community Centre in Fishemead have been given the go-ahead despite angry protests by residents. Members of the Fishermead Residents’ Association, carrying banners and shouting slogans, met members of the council’s development control committee at a site visit at Fishermead Boulevard on Monday. The proposed Sri Lankan centre will see a new two-storey building with three classrooms, a meeting room, a gym, library, two separate commercial units and two large community halls — one to be used primarily as a place of worship which the residents’ association fears would become a mosque. Harry Sharpe, vice-chairman, said he was not against the idea of mosques, but that he felt it was in the wrong place.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Islamophobic Buddhist Sect Gets Planning Permission for Meditation Centre in Lambeth

The biggest Tibetan Buddhist meditation centre in London will be created following planning approval — despite protests from Muslim and Christian groups. On Tuesday evening, Lambeth council’s planning committee approved the plans for the former Beaufoy Institute, in Black Prince Road, Kennington, to become the Diamond Way Buddhism (DWB) organisation. However, more than 40 protesters from the Lambeth Muslim Forum and the Lambeth Interfaith Network protested outside Lambeth Town Hall, in Brixton Hill amid claims the organisation is anti-Muslim and anti-Christian.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: I Hate the Olympics

by James Delingpole

Why do I hate the Olympics? Well, apart from those who are participating — or snouting at the sponsorship trough — I can’t imagine there’s anyone out there who doesn’t hate the Olympics, is there? But what I particularly hate is the strutting arrogance of the Olympinazis in charge of the Olympic games’ brand preservation. The Spectator (which is launching an anti-Olympic campaign of its own this week) lists some of the more egregious examples:

  • Sally Gunnell photoshoot promoting easyJet’s new London Southend service in July 2011. Locog executive stopped photoshoot of her raising a Union flag above her shoulders. Union flag was removed & she had to change from a white tracksuit to an orange T-shirt.
  • Butcher in Weymouth. Was told to remove his display of sausages in the shape of the Olympic rings.
  • Olympicnic. A small village in Surrey has been stopped from running an “Olympicnic” on its village green.
  • ‘Flaming torch breakfast baguette’ offered at a café in Plymouth to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic torch was outlawed by Locog.
  • ‘Cafe Lympic’ & ‘Lympic Food Store & Off License’. Both had to drop the ‘O’ at the start of their names. But Alex Kelham, a brand protection lawyer at Locog, says: ‘The legislation actually catches anything similar to the word ‘Olympic’ as well. It’s not a fool-proof get-around.’
  • Florist in Stoke-on-Trent. Was ordered to take down a tissue paper Olympic rings display from the shop window.
  • Oxford Olympic Torch stalls. Traders will have to cover up their logos, and can only sell soft drinks from the Coca-Cola product range (inc. bottled water)
  • Webbers Estate Agents in North Devon. Threatened with legal action for displaying makeshift Olympic rings in its windows.

Of course I appreciate that all countries unlucky enough to host the Olympics have to sign contracts agreeing to this nonsense. But what’s different about other countries and us is that we’re British.


[JP note: Spectator link

where Fraser Nelson sums up:

“We value freedom of speech far too little in this country. The British taxpayer has forked out a fortune to host the Olympics — but they should come here on our terms, respect our freedoms and respect the right of British people to do and say what they please. We badly need the equivalent of America’s 1st amendment protection: a clear right guaranteeing freedom of speech as paramount. Our failure to do this has created what Nick Cohen rightly calls a ‘corporatist dystopia’ during the Olympic games. As he says, Britain has not won the Olympics. The Olympics has won Britain. And we should have never allowed this to happen.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Irish and Al Qaeda Terrorists in Olympic Threat

Irish republican terrorists could attack the Olympics while American and Israeli athletes may be a target for al Qaeda, MI5 fears.

The security service has also warned that foreign rival factions or ethnic groups could use the world stage of the Games to attack one another. The threats emerged as a group of MPs said the “unprecedented pressure” the Olympics has placed on the intelligence and security agencies has put the UK at greater risk. The parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) — which oversees the work of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ — fears the focus on securing the summer event means other vulnerable areas of the agencies’ work are at risk of attack. In its annual report, the ISC said Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5, had highlighted three potential treats to the Olympics.

They were:

  • An attack by al Qaeda and its affiliates — particularly on US or Israeli nationals.
  • An attack or a hoax by Irish republican terrorist groups aimed at causing disruption rather than mass casualties.
  • Clashes between rival groups or ethnicities present in London during the Games who would not normally be considered a security threat to the UK.

The committee heard that staff in the agencies had been taken off lower priority areas of work so that they could concentrate on the potential threat to the games.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: John Terry Cleared: Chelsea Captain Not Guilty of Racial Slur on Anton Ferdinand

Chelsea captain John Terry was dramatically cleared today of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. The verdict at Westminster Magistrates Court saves his England career and rescues his reputation in the multi-cultural Premier League and across the country. Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle found Terry not guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence after four days of bitterly-disputed evidence and argument. The case exposed the routine use of shocking, obscene language at the heart of Premier League football and the childish antics of the multi-millionaires who play the game.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Keep Britain Clean — No Muslims Please

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — There are many well know Islamophobic people and groups, but below I have listed some groups and people that aren’t as well known to the average Muslim. They are spreading their Islamophobic ideas however they can to the wider community.

1) Pat Condell. A one man show with his web cam. How much damage can one man do? I hear you ask. Look him up on YouTube, he has made many Islamophobic videos. All of his videos have over 100,000 views. His message is spreading far. He insults Islam and the Prophet PBUH. He also supports the Zionist state of Israel and is against the rights of Palestinians.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Women Quiz Baroness

The state of the economy and Islamophobia were among the topics discussed when Conservative Party co-chairman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi met a group of Bradford Muslim women yesterday. Around 50 Muslim women attended the Bradford Circle forum held at The Carlisle Business Centre, to engage in a debate with Baroness Warsi, the most senior Muslim woman politician in Britain. Other issues discussed included education and young people’s futures. Baroness Warsi said: “Every time I meet a large group of Muslim women I get exactly the same experience — I walk away thinking wow. They are energetic, articulate, they’ve thought about the issues they are engaging in and are warm. This is again one of those experiences.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Owen Jones: Islamophobia — for Muslims, Read Jews. And be Shocked

Imagine our alarm if nearly half the UK population said they believed that ‘there are too many Jews’

To be a prominent Muslim means suffering a daily diet of bigotry and even outright hatred. This week, Mehdi Hasan — who, other than my colleague Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, is Britain’s only prominent Muslim journalist — wrote of how, every day, he is attacked as a “jihadist” and a “terrorist”. He has been described as a “dangerous Muslim s***head”, a “moderate cockroach”, and worse. The message from his critics is clear: Muslims have no legitimate place in public life.


Anti-Muslim hate is a European pandemic. I’m proud to stand with Mehdi Hasan and other Muslims facing Islamophobia. But — I implore, I beg fellow non-Muslims — stand with them too, before this hatred spirals further out of control.

[JP note: There are too many Muslim colonists in the UK, and it is a moral duty to explain this to dhimmis such as Owen Jones.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The UFO Files: Aliens ‘Might Come Here for Holidays’

Government officials believe aliens may visit Earth and suggest harnessing UFO technology for UK defences, files say.

Documents from the Ministry of Defence classified archives show staff believed aliens could visit for “military reconnaissance”, “scientific” research or “tourism”.

In a 1995 briefing now published by the National Archives, a desk officer said the purpose of reported alien craft sightings “needs to be established as a matter of priority”, adding there did not appear to be “hostile intent”.

The unnamed official said it was “essential that we start with open minds”, explaining “what is scientific ‘fact’ today may not be true tomorrow”.

Clarifying he did not “talk to little green men every night”, he said: “We have a remit that we have never satisfied. That is, we do not now (sic) if UFOs exist.

“If they do exist, we do not know what they are, their purpose or if they pose a threat to the UK.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

A Visit to the World’s Deadliest Dive Site

It doesn’t have the nicest coral formations nor the most fish. But the Blue Hole in the Gulf of Aqaba is a magnet for divers, primarily because of its reputation. Dozens of adventurers have lost their lives here over the years and, when they do, Tarek Omar pulls them back to the surface.

Tarek Omar says that he doesn’t know exactly how many bodies he has recovered. “I stopped counting at some point,” he says. But he can still remember the names of the first two he pulled up from the depths of the Red Sea, bringing them back onto the Egyptian shore.

“They were Conor O’Regan and Martin Gara. Irish. They were considered cautious divers. Both died here on Nov. 19, 1997. They were only 22 and 23. Sad.”

Omar is sitting under an awning on the edge of the desert, drinking tea with milk and looking out over the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba, which wash against the east coast of the Sinai. The nearest settlement, the resort town of Dahab, is 10 kilometers (six miles) to the south.

“I found the bodies at a depth of 102 meters (335 feet),” says Omar. “They were holding each other in an embrace. This is how it must have happened: One of them had problems and kept sinking deeper down. The other wanted to help him. And then both of them lost consciousness. What can you do? Their memorial stone is up there.”

He steps out of the shade and walks along a dusty path. Sunburned tourists in life vests are snorkeling in the water. At the end of the cliff-lined bay, Omar stops walking and points to a slab of black marble set into the ground, with the words “In Loving Memory” inscribed onto it. “It’s only one of many memorials,” he says, and turns around.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: Obama’s Spectacular Failure

Two weeks ago, in an unofficial inauguration ceremony at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi took off his mask of moderation. Before a crowd of scores of thousands, Mursi pledged to work for the release from US federal prison of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman.

According to The New York Times’ account of his speech, Mursi said, “I see signs [being held by members of the crowd] for Omar Abdel-Rahman and detainees’ pictures. It is my duty and I will make all efforts to have them free, including Omar Abdel-Rahman.”

Otherwise known as the blind sheikh, Abdel Rahman was the mastermind of the jihadist cell in New Jersey that perpetrated the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. His cell also murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York in 1990. They plotted the assassination of then-president Hosni Mubarak. They intended to bomb New York landmarks including the Lincoln and Holland tunnels and the UN headquarters.

Rahman was the leader of Gama’a al-Islamia — the Islamic Group, responsible, among other things for the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. A renowned Sunni religious authority, Rahman wrote the fatwa, or Islamic ruling, permitting Sadat’s murder in retribution for his signing the peace treaty with Israel. The Islamic group is listed by the State Department as a specially designated terrorist organization…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Slapping, Stabbing and Slaying for Sharia

by Raymond Ibrahim

Prior to Egypt’s presidential elections, Islamists made clear that the electoral process was an obligatory form of “holy war.” Then, any number of Islamic clerics, including influential ones, declared that it was mandatory for Muslims to cheat during elections — if so doing would help Islamist candidates win; that the elections were a form of jihad, and those who die are “martyrs” who will attain the highest levels of paradise. Top Islamic institutions and influential clerics, such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi, issued fatwas decreeing that all Muslims were “obligated” to go and vote for those candidates most likely to implement Sharia law, with threats of hellfire for those failing to do so.

The point was simple: democracy, elections, voting, even the individual candidates, were all means to an end — the establishment of Sharia law. Cheat, fight, and kill during elections, as long as doing so enables Sharia; vote only for whoever will enable Sharia; avoid hell by enabling Sharia. (It is precisely for this reason that the very first demand made by Islamic leaders is that President Morsi implement the totality of Sharia law in Egypt. That is, after all, why so many voted for him.) That many Egyptian Muslims heeded these commands to lie, cheat, steal, and kill in order to empower Sharia, there is no doubt. Story after story appeared in the Egyptian media — much of it missed in the West — demonstrating as much.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Two US Tourists Kidnapped in Sinai

Bedouin kidnappers will exchange them for jailed relative

(ANSAMed) — CAIRO, JULY 13 — Two US tourists, a man and a woman, were kidnapped along with their Egyptian guide by a group of Bedouins while traveling by car in the Sinai area, Egyptian security sources said today. The kidnappers, who are from the largest Sinai Bedouin tribe, demanded a relative that is in prison on drug trafficking charges be released in exchanged for the tourists, the same sources said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

US Policy on Egypt Prepares for a Protracted State of Chaos

Alan Philps

Intercontinental travel is confusing at the best of times, but spare a thought for Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, who is on an eight-country tour taking in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Although she is probably used to the diplomatic carousel by now, this trip is even more confusing as the problems she has to deal with rarely coincide with the country she happens to be passing through.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood to Boycott Early Elections

Jordan’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood decided on Thursday to boycott early elections expected later this year because of a “lack of reform,” in a move that is likely throw the country into political crisis. “The Muslim Brotherhood’s shura (advisory) council voted today (Thursday) to boycott parliamentary elections this year,” Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy leader of the movement, told AFP.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

MI6 Chief Sir John Sawers: ‘We Foiled Iranian Nuclear Weapons Bid’

MI6 agents have foiled Iran’s attempts to obtain nuclear weapons but the Middle Eastern state will succeed in arming itself within the next two years, the head of the Secret Intelligence Service has warned.

Sir John Sawers said that covert operations by British spies had prevented the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons as early as 2008. However, the MI6 chief said it was now likely they would achieve their goal by 2014, making a military strike from the US and Israel increasingly likely. Sir John gave a secret briefing to the Cabinet in March about Iran’s growing military threat but this is the first time his views on the issue have been made public. It is extremely rare for the head of MI6 to disclose details of operations by the intelligence service. Sir John made the remarks at a meeting of around 100 senior civil servants in London last week in only his second public speech since he was appointed to the post in 2009.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Qatari Investors Buy Valentino

Qatari investors outlined plans Thursday to acquire the Italian fashion house Valentino, adding to the Gulf state’s growing stable of premium brands.

Valentino is famous for its trademark red hue and several decades’ worth of celebrity customers, ranging from Jacqueline Kennedy to Sarah Jessica Parker.

An investment firm called Mayhoola for Investments will acquire Valentino Fashion Group from Red & Black Lux, which is controlled by European private equity firm Permira, the companies said in a statement.

The deal includes VFG’s Valentino and M Missoni businesses.

Qatar’s emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, holds near-absolute power in the OPEC member nation, and the most high-profile of his wives, Sheika Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned, is known to appreciate haute couture.

Natural gas-rich Qatar has increasingly been pumping cash into prominent Western luxury brands, though many of those purchases were done using the country’s sovereign wealth fund. Its holdings include London’s Harrods department store, as well as stakes in New York-based jeweler Tiffany & Co. and French luxury conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Syria Unrest: ‘Massacre Leaves 200 Dead’ In Tremseh

Some 200 people have been killed in an attack on the Syrian village of Tremseh, opposition activists say.

If confirmed, it would be the bloodiest single event in the Syrian conflict. Residents said the village, in Hama province, was attacked with helicopter gunships and tanks, and later by the pro-government Shabiha militia, who carried out execution-style killings. State media blamed “terrorist groups” who were trying to raise tension ahead of a key UN Security Council meeting.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syria’s Bloody Troubles Are More Complex Than the Media’s Dreamy-Eyed Coverage Would Have You Believe

by Peter Mullen

Every day, it seems, there comes news of fresh massacres in Syria. Assad’s men are reported to have killed a further two hundred people this morning. There is no doubt that Assad is particularly persevering in his malevolent self-interest, but it is the naivety of our media which rubs me up the wrong way. Listen to the BBC, read most of the papers, and what you get relentlessly is something like this: the brave and idealistic young rebels, armed only with raw courage and mobile phones, are daring to challenge the evil dictator Assad and promote democracy in their land. Yes, yes, there is some truth in this. But the larger truth is that the Westernised kids with their tweeting and twittering are very similar to those Soviet sympathisers in the West to whom Stalin referred as “useful idiots.” The reality in Syria is that Assad is fighting desperately against an extremist Sunni revolt which aims to exterminate alike Allawites, Christians and Druze. Naturally, al Qaeda is opportunistically lending them a hand.


[Reader comment by bryan_stives on 13 July 2012 at about 11:15 AM.]

Rev, you consistently tell it like it is. I simply cannot believe that the west refuses to see what is going on in Syria even tho’ the exact same situation has occured in other middle eastern countries as you so rightly describe. As I have said before politicians such as Hague will not be happy until Assad is gone and Syria is presented, gift wrapped, to the muslim brotherhood. If we think the ‘slaughter’ is bad now just wait until the retribution of the hardline muslims is on the streets.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syria Crisis: Tremseh ‘Massacre’ — Live Updates

1.36pm: This week’s message from the protesters in the Idlib town of Kafranbel is: “God hates Assad for shedding innocent blood, Annan’s heart which devised wicked plans, and Putin for his lying tongue.”

Today’s banner is a little more difficult to make out than usual. As ever there is more from the Banners from Kafranbel Facebook group, including a cartoon placard of Putin and Assad as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic.

1.18pm: Compared to the turmoil elsewhere in Syria, Damascus is still relatively calm. But how long will that last? An article in the Washington Post, by an unnamed special correspondent, says the city now seems ready to explode.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Winning Arab World Hearts, Minds Through Soaps

Top Turkish export, ousts American series

(ANSAMed) — ANKARA, JULY 10 — Turkish soap operas have become the country’s top export over the past decade, and are conquering hearts, minds, and market share throughout the Arab world with their combination of Turkish stars playing hip, sexy and independent-minded characters who experience the travails of love in over-the-top Bollywood-style sets. With 100 serials sold in over 20 countries all over the Mediterranean area at a yearly income of 60 million dollars, Turkey’s flourishing soap opera industry has out-rivaled the American one, with some of its titles, such as Valley of the Wolves and Forbidden Love, breaking all audience records in the Middle East. The two top performers are Nour, whose female lead plays a beautiful, modern and emancipated Istanbul girl and starring Kivanc Tatlitug, the Turkish equivalent of Brad Pitt, and Muhtesum Yuzil, a retelling the story of Suleiman the Magnificent with Turkish hearthrob Halit Ergenc in the lead.

“They work because a Moroccan woman is more likely to identify with a Turkish heroine than an American one,” sociologist Nilufer Narli explained.

Turkish soaps are also in demand because of their portrayal of women: 50 million of them, or half of the entire female population of the Middle East, watched the final episode of Nour. “The female characters are like the Turkish women of today, modern without being degenerate,” sociologist Aydin Ugur said.

Of course, these signs of the times are not without their critics. Saudi Arabian mullahs have already outlawed Nour as “malicious and devilish,” issuing a fatwa against anyone who watches it and calling for the execution of the owner of MBC satellite TV, which broadcast the show. And in Turkey in 2010, 75,000 people protested about what they said was a “Westernized and false” version of Suleiman the Magnificent, who was portrayed as a lover of wine, women and song. “It’s a fictional account, not a historic reconstruction,” screenwriter Meral Okay said at the time.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Erdogan’s Party Wants to Limit Press Freedom

Nationalist ‘Grey Wolves’ want death penalty

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JULY 13 — The nationalist Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyp Erdogan has presented to Parliament a measure to limit freedom of the press protected under article 28 of the constitution, local media in Ankara reported.

Article 28 presently states that “the press is free and must not be censored”. There are however limitations in the name of national security, public order and the republic’s fundamental principles, the Milliyet newspaper noted.

Under the new article proposed by the AKP to the commission drafting a constitutional reform, freedom of the press can be limited on a number of other accounts including ‘public morality’. According to Milliyet, the proposal states that ‘freedom of the press can be limited to protect national security, public order, public morality, other individual rights, privacy, to prevent crimes, safeguard impartiality and freedom of the judicial system, to prevent pro-war propaganda, discriminations and hate’.

According to international media associations, some 100 journalists are currently detained in Turkey.

According to the Vatan daily, the Nationalist Movement Party, the so-called Grey Wolves has presented a reform in the commission to reinstate the death penalty in Turkey.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Erdogan Most Popular Leader in Sunnite Countries

65% favor Erdogan, 58% King Abdallah, 39% Ahmadinejad

(ANSAMed) — ANKARA, JULY 13 — Turkey’s Islamic nationalist Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the most popular leader in 6 Sunnite majority Middle Eastern countries, according to a Pew Research Center survey published by Hurriyet daily today.

Erdogan is the favorite leader of 65% of respondents in Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Pakistan and Jordan, followed by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah at 58%, according to the survey.

Iran’s Shiite President Mahmud Ahmadinejad came in at 39% and Syria’s President Bashar al Assad, also a Shiite Muslim, came in at 11% in those countries, the survey said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Valentino Sold to Qatar Royal Family

Permira Fund cedes control to Mayhoola for 600-750 mln euros

(ANSAmed) — Rome — The Qatar royal family has bought Valentino Fashion Group (VFG), the clothing company announced Thursday. The company, which was owned by the Permira Fund since 2007, reportedly was sold for 600-750 million euros to Mayhoola for Investments Spc.

The deal cedes control of Valentino to Mayhoola, an investment vehicle backed by the Qatari royal family, as well as the license of clothing brand Missoni, which also belongs to Permira. The deal does not include other brands under parent company VFG, such as Hugo Boss and Mcs-Marlboro Classics.

Permira bought VFG in 2007 for 5.3 billion euros, but had to restructure its debt and outlay 250 million euros due to the crisis a year later, according to Bloomberg news. Permira’s management, who found new, younger markets in Asia and the United States, have had positive results in spite of the economic crisis, with VFG this year posting sales of 322.4 million euros, up 20% from 2010.

Valentino is Mayhoola’s first wholly owned haute-couture brand. “Valentino has always been a brand of unique creativity and undisputed prestige,” said Mayhoola in a statement. “We are impressed by the work of the two Creative Directors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, and by the management team led by Stefano Sassi”.

The Qatari royals already own the Harrods upmarket department store as well as parts of Porsche, Barclays, and 1% of French apparels-and-accessories giant LVMH.

VFG is not the first Italian fashion house to go East.

French-Italian luxury brand Cerruti was acquired by Hong Kong’s Trinity Ltd. in 2010. The Gianfranco Ferre’ brand was bought by Dubai’s Paris Group a year later.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

White House Not Interested in Iranian Role in Syria

(AGI) Washington — The U.S. continue not wanting Iran involved in resolving the Syrian crisis, in stark contrast to efforts by the U.N. and Arab League’s special envoy Kofi Annan. The White House maintains that Iran’s role in Syria has not been productive, advantageous and cannot be constructive. The U.S.

intends to continue cooperating with nations that want a democratic future for the Syrian people, said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

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

South Asia

Afghanistan: Suicide Bombers Kill Two Children in Kandahar

(AGI) Kandahar — Three suicide bombers killed two children and wounded six in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. The attackers rode motorbikes and seemed to be aiming for the police headquarters, attacked later by an armed commando. Their suicide vests exploded by mistake earlier than expected near a group of children who were playing. The incident was reported by the spokesman for this province Jawed Faisal, who specified that the children were all aged between 8 and 12. The attack on the police headquarters laster for an hours and six officers were wounded while all three attackers were killed.

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

Indonesia: Court Chief Tells Merkel of ‘Freedom to be Atheist or Communist’

Jakarta, 11 July (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Indonesian Supreme Court chief Mahfud MD is told the German chancellor Angela Merkel that the Indonesian Constitution guarantees the the freedom to be atheist or communist.

Mahfud answered Merkel’s question about the freedom of religion and democracy in Indonesia during a visit to the Supreme Court on Tuesday evening.

“Since its inception, the Supreme Court has guaranteed the freedom of atheists and communists in this country, as long as they do not disturb the freedom of people of other religions. Freedom is equality.” Mahfud said.

Merkel arrived in Indonesia Tuesday for her first official visit to Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

Mahfud said that the nation would deny human rights and democracy if it denied atheists and communists their rights.

The chief justice’s comments come after a 32-year-old civil servant was imprisoned for 30 months for saying he was an atheist in June, and after local military commanders in East Java banned the television broadcast of an opera about Tan Malaka, a prominent Indonesian nationalist and communist, in 2011.

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

Pakistan: Militants Who Attacked Pakistan Village, Took Hostages, Flee Back to Afghanistan

KHAR, Pakistan — Dozens of militants who came from Afghanistan to attack a village in Pakistan’s northwest and took scores of hostages fled back across the border, leaving behind the captives and carrying the bodies of 15 fighters killed in a battle with the army, Pakistani officials said Friday. Elsewhere in the country, a bomb exploded near a political rally in the southwestern city of Quetta, killing at least five people, officials said.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Three Killed in Afghanistan Blasts

Two separate bombings in Afghanistan have killed a Nato service member as well as an official with the Afghan ministry of women’s affairs and her husband. Nato said the service member was killed by a roadside bomb in the south of the country. No other details were released. Sarhadi Zwak, a spokesman in eastern Laghman province, said the local official, Anifa Safi, and her husband died when a bomb hidden in their car exploded in the provincial capital of Mehterlam.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Byron Bay Hosts Muslim Students

Byron Bay families are hosting 35 teenagers from Abu Dhabi who are studying English in Australia for a month

Take a group of middle-class Muslim teenagers from the United Arab Emirates and move them to a renowned, hedonistic party town on the other side of the world. Sound like a recipe for trouble? Apparently not. The Abu Dhabi Education Council has done just that, in sending 35 boys aged 16 and 17 to study English and live with local families in Byron Bay.

They arrived at the start of July and will spend four weeks soaking in the culture while studying at the Byron Bay English Language School. School director Michael O’Grady said it was the second time the program had taken place and cultural clashes experienced by the first group appeared to have been overcome. “Last year was our first year and it was much more difficult and there is a difference between last year and this year, the boys seem a lot more open and their English levels are a lot better,” he said. “Last year when they got off the bus we didn’t know what to expect, and we did have some problems with the families, particularly a little bit in relation to how the females are seen in the family, but that isn’t really evident this year and that’s a really welcomed change.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Extremist Material Distributed in Mosque Battle

Members of Gungahlin’s evangelical community are distributing extremist material from overseas in their campaign against the construction of a mosque on The Valley Avenue. A senior pastor at a Gungahlin evangelical church contacted The Canberra Times and supplied a video of far-right agitator Paul Weston, the chairman of the British Freedom Party. In the eight-minute video, Mr Weston says Islam was “worse than Nazism” and claimed Islamic influence in Britain would lead to civil war. The Gungahlin pastor declined to be interviewed yesterday, but said the video had been circulated via email through associates in the community.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Gungahlin: Mosque Phobia Moves to Australia

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — “The Council still believes the site is an appropriate one for a Mosque and concerns about traffic will prove unfounded once the proposed ring road system is completed,” the Gungahlin Community Council said in an online statement. “Until recently there has been no suggestion that there are parking or traffic issues with the Valley Way site.” The Canberra Muslim Community Inc has submitted a development application to build a 500-seat mosque in Gungahlin city. Though the Community Council has approved the application, residents have filed complaints with the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government against the Muslim worship place.


[JP note: Fear of mosques is entirely rational.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

New Zealand: Foundations Set for Massive Manurewa Mosque

The foundations have been laid for a Manurewa mosque that, when complete, will be New Zealand’s largest. The Ahmadiyya Muslim community last week held a ceremony to mark the start of work on the Dalgety Dr site. The site is in a largely industrial area. The community hopes the mosque, which will hold about 600 worshippers, will be finished by May next year. Community national president Mohammed Iqbal said: “We are earnestly praying and hoping that this will be [completed] in April next year, God willing. This project is an extremely important one for us because a mosque symbolises a house of peace and from here we intend to attract families from all walks of life… helping each other despite our beliefs.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Mali: Revealed: Proof That Al-Qaeda’s Men Are Operating in Northern Mali

by Colin Freeman

When is al-Qaeda really al-Qaeda? That’s a question often asked by security pundits when it comes to the group’s central African franchise, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM. Rather like the shifting sands of its Saharan stomping ground, AQIM has often been seen as rather hard to pin down: for every hardcore jihadi, there are also smugglers, bandits, and Tuareg separatist guerrillas operating under the AQIM banner, which acts as a useful flag of convenience for any outfit wanting to scare its rivals. It’s often also argued that the AQIM threat has been exaggerated by states like Mauritania and Algeria to help get Western military funding, and respected think tanks like the International Crisis Group have even produced papers asking whether the whole phenomena is “fact or fiction”.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Most Complete Skeleton of Ancient Relative of Man Found

South African scientists claim they have uncovered the most complete skeleton yet of an ancient relative of man, that was hidden in a rock excavated three years ago.

The remains of a juvenile hominid skeleton, of the newly identified Australopithecus (southern ape) sediba species, are the “most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered,” according to Lee Berger, a paleontologist from the University of Witwatersrand. “We have discovered parts of a jaw and critical aspects of the body including what appear to be a complete femur (thigh bone), ribs, vertebrae and other important limb elements, some never before seen in such completeness in the human fossil record,” said Prof Berger.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Somalia: Documents Found on Body of Al Qaeda’s African Leader Detail Chilling Plans for Kidnapping, Attacks

NAIROBI-A cache of intelligence found on the body of Al Qaeda’s African leader, and inside the bullet-ridden Toyota truck he tried to ram through a Somali government checkpoint, provides a chilling look at the global aspirations of Somalia’s al Shabab. Obtained exclusively by the Toronto Star, the meticulously prepared documents that detail plots for a kidnapping and attacks on the prestigious Eton College, Jewish neighbourhoods and the posh Ritz and Dorchester hotels in London, were uncovered last year when senior Al Qaeda leader Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, 38, was shot dead by Somali forces. Fazul was indicted in the United States for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya that killed 224. He was a close ally of Osama bin Laden and considered the key link between Al Qaeda’s top leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Shabab, the terrorist group that has grown out of Somalia’s decades of chaos.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Foreign Workers Face Tighter Rules in Singapore

New immigration rules come into effect on 1 September, affecting family reunification. Harsher penalties will be imposed for marriages contracted to obtain immigration privileges.

Singapore (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Stricter rules will apply to foreign workers in Singapore. The city-state has adopted a series of measures that modify existing immigration laws. The new rules will apply to family reunification. On his website, the prime minister indicated that he hoped the flow of foreigners seeking employment would be better managed. Their greater presence has generated public disquiet.

As of 1 September, foreign workers must earn at least S$ 4,000 (US$ 3,150) a month compared with the current S$2,800 to sponsor their spouses and children for their stay in Singapore. Foreign workers whose families are already in Singapore will not be affected by the changes.

Job competition between foreigners and locals is, with inflation, Singapore’s main problem. Prime Minister and People’s Action Party leader Lee Hsien Loong based his election campaign last year on the issue. However, none of his policies has worked so far, with the result that his party is down in the polls.

Under the proposed amendments, permanent residents who flout the city’s laws or are involved in any activity that “threatens a breach of peace or is prejudicial to public order” will lose their permanent residency status or have their re-entry permit cancelled.

The new rules will make marriages of convenience to obtain immigration privileges an offence. The proposed penalty for sham marriages includes a maximum fine of S$ 10,000 (US$ 7,875) and a jail term of up to ten years.

Forging documents may be punishable with a fine of up to S$ 8,000 (US$ 6,300) and a maximum jail term of five years.

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

Italy: Permits for Migrants Who Tell on Exploiting Bosses

A decree gives additional bites to existing sanctions for employers

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Work and residence permits will be granted to migrants who blow the whistle on bosses who exploit them, according to a decree approved Friday by Italian Premier Mario Monti’s cabinet.

The decree is aimed at bringing Italy into line with European law on penalties for employers who hire undocumented migrants. The provision gives additional bite to existing sanctions. The draft decree also increases penalties for those who hire more than three undocumented migrants, hire minors or have working conditions that are particularly harsh.

In these more extreme cases, an exploited worker who collaborates with the justice system will be rewarded with a six-month permit renewable for one or more years. Employers will be given a brief amount of time to align their workplaces with the law, but face possible fines of around 1,000 euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Refugee Hopes for New Life in Australia Come to Dust

ABDIKADIR Omar’s dream of bringing his wife Aisha and their three young sons to Australia is turning to dust inside the world’s largest and most dangerous refugee camp.

His hopes, and those of a generation of displaced people in camps around the world, are being crushed by a gross distortion in Australia’s humanitarian program, caused by the flood of asylum-seeker boats. People such as Mr Omar in Kenya’s giant Dadaab camp do not have the money or access to people-smugglers and their boats. He has no choice but to apply through proper channels for the fast-shrinking number of humanitarian places being offered to those who do not arrive in Australia by boat.

“I thought about going somewhere to catch a boat (to Australia) because I have been waiting so long to go there,” Mr Omar told The Weekend Australian from the Dadaab camp yesterday. “But I have no money and going by boat is illegal and dangerous. So I worry I have no hope of ever getting my family to Australia.”

Instead, Mr Omar and his family are forced to live in desperate conditions in the 465,000-person camp, which Medecins Sans Frontieres says is rife with “bomb attacks and assassinations” and where women live under constant threat of attack and rape.

This is a dark side of the asylum-seeker debate that is frequently ignored by proponents of liberal onshore processing of boat arrivals. The world’s poorest and most helpless asylum-seekers are being increasingly displaced by those who, while also desperate, at least have the financial means to self-select and pay people-smugglers for a passage to Australia.

This tragic clash is the result of government policy.

Since 1996 Australia has capped its total humanitarian intake at about 13,000 by linking its onshore intake, which includes asylum-seeker boat arrivals, with its offshore intake, which includes both the refugee and special humanitarian category.

So a rise in the onshore category (mostly boat arrivals) leads directly to a reduction in the offshore category in order to stay under the government’s self-imposed 13,700 humanitarian cap.

Although Australia has maintained its offshore “refugee” intake at 6000 in recent years, the other component of its offshore intake, the “special humanitarian” visas, which cover those subject to gross human right violations as well as family members of refugees already in Australia, has been all but destroyed by the surge in boat arrivals.

The number of special offshore humanitarian visas issued each year has fallen from 5183 in 2006-07, when boat arrivals were in single figures each year, to barely 800 in 2011-12 and is likely to vanish this financial year, amid the current surge in asylum-seekers.

This is despite the Government receiving 25,000 applications for these visas each year.

The collapse of the special humanitarian visa program is heartbreaking for thousands of refugees already in Australia because it has destroyed hopes of reuniting their families.

Monica Aweng, 28, who arrived as a refugee in Australia in 2006 after escaping war-torn southern Sudan, has tried and failed twice in the past four years to obtain special humanitarian visas for her mother and sister who live in squalid conditions in the Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya.

“The (Australian) government did not tell me a reason why they do not let them come here,’ she told The Weekend Australian.

“No-one is taking care of them over there and I have to send them my money which is very hard for me because I have five children here. I don’t think the government wants more people from Africa to come here.”

Her neighbour, Haleul Machar, has a similar story. A refugee from southern Sudan, Ms Machar has tried twice and failed twice to bring her older sister Yar to Australia from Egypt where she is living in poverty.

Ms Machar came to Australia in 2005 with her two daughters after living for 13 years in the Kakuma camp. She thought Yar, who was separated from her during the Sudanese war, was dead. But several years ago, someone noticed a striking similarity in looks between Ms Machar and a Sudanese refugee they knew in Cairo.

Ms Machar eventually make contact and realised it was her sister.

“I cried tears of joy that we had finally found each other,” she said. “I thought I would be able to bring her to Australia, but in January this year they rejected our application for the second time. Now I cry tears of sadness that I will not see her.”

Another Sudanese refugee in Melbourne, Helen Nyandeng, says almost everyone in the city’s Sudanese community knows of a family that remains divided because there are no available visas for relatives under the special humanitarian program.

“We know so many people who in our (Sudanese) community who have tried to get their parents, sisters, brothers here but can’t get them in apparently because their spots have been taken by all the boat people,’ she says.

“The government won’t admit that but that is what is happening. Our people in Africa do not have money, we can’t hire boats to come here. We come from the camps and we are genuine long term refugees.”

The Refugee Council of Australia recently warned that “tensions and frustrations are being created between communities” because of the policy of linking the onshore and offshore components of the humanitarian program.

The African refugees in Melbourne interviewed by The Weekend Australian this week were frustrated and angry about their situation, but blamed the government policy rather than those coming by boat.

“I don’t blame the boat people because for many of them it is a matter for them of life and death,” Ms Machar said. “ It is heartbreaking that they are drowning. But some of the people who do travel on the boats are doing it for economic reasons and that is not right.”

William Maley, director of the Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy at the ANU and vice president of the Refugee Council of Australia, said the government must take action to reinvigorate humanitarian family resettlement, either through the special humanitarian program or another special category. Otherwise it will play into the hands of people smugglers because the only effective way for refugees to bring family members to Australia will be on boats.

“One way to undercut people smuggling is to have an effective mechanism for immediate family members of refugees to come to Australia, but at the moment that does not exist,” Professor Maley said.

For Mr Omar and his family, the current situation effectively rules him out of contention for a life in Australia. A refugee since the age of 11 when his parents were executed in Somalia, he has lived his entire adult life in the sprawling Dadaab camp, which has a population larger than Canberra.

He has a long list of qualifications and glowing references from working variously as a mechanic, a health carer, a conflict facilitator and a charity volunteer in the camps. He also has friends in Australia who are in the process of sponsoring his application for a special humanitarian visas.

An Australian documentary maker, Felicity Blake, who met Mr Omar, while filming a documentary in the camp said yesterday. “I have never met a more inspirational individual than Abdikadir Omar; he and his family deserve refugee status in Australia,” Blake said.

But Mr Omar, and many others like him, are losing hope in their Australian dream.

“We have been here for so long and life in the camp is very dangerous,” he says. “I want to protect my wife and my children, but who can help me now?”

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Thousands of Immigrant Workers Die From Exploitation, Torture and Alcoholism

Revealed in report by Nepalese Embassy in Riyadh. Since 2000 more than 3 thousand Nepalese migrant workers have died. One in every 162 people.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews / Agencies) — In 12 years over 3 thousand Nepalese migrant workers in Saudi Arabia have died because of their poor working conditions and exploitation. Of a total of 484,701 migrants in the Arab country, the average is 1 in every 162. The shocking findings were revealed in a report by the Nepalese Embassy in Riyadh, which identifies the abuse of black market alcohol a major cause of deaths. Udaya Raj Pandev, Nepal’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia and promoter of the study, explains that to withstand the grueling and demeaning working conditions, thousands of workers give in to the vice of alcohol circumventing bans in force in the Muslim country. According to the diplomat, over 30 people die each month due to alcoholism. Many of them come home exhausted, drink and die in their sleep. Another factor is accidents in the workplace.

Due to the severe economic crisis, every year thousands of people leave the country in search of a job. Unlike the Philippines, which has a proliferation of agencies in foreign countries, in Nepal people prefer to start with a tourist visa and find work on site with family and friends. This, however, prevents the state from protecting its citizens in case of accidents in a foreign country, increasing the percentage of illegal immigrants and the criminal business of human trafficking. The are over 50 destinations for Nepalese migrants. Topping the list, Qatar (68.844), Saudi Arabia (44,741) and Malaysia (31,157).

Mahdendra Pandev president of Parvasi Nepali Coordination Comitee, for years denouncing the appalling conditions of Nepalese migrants in Islamic countries, states that “workers need training and an orientation period before leaving the country.” The activist urges the government to create employment agencies that force Saudi Arabia and other states to respect minimum standards of safety in the workplace, where in many cases it verges on slavery. Exploitation is worsened by the total absence of justice for immigrants charged with crimes. To date, over 200 Nepalese citizens are detained in Saudi custody awaiting trial. Many of them do not even know the reasons for their detention and are not entitled to a lawyer or an interpreter.

In total there are about 7 million migrant workers abroad, especially in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. They are employed in construction and heavy industry, but also as caretakers and domestic workers. Many leave the country to feed their families and foreign workers have become a major resource in the economy of the small Himalayan country. With their remittances migrants account for almost 40% of the state budget.

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

Spain: Migrant Pressure Rises on Melilla, Door to Europe

Melilla on alert after Moroccan border patrol officer death

(ANSAMed) — MADRID, JULY 12 — Summer is the high season for illegal migrants from the Subsaharan zones, and they are growing more and more aggressive as their desperation rises, a government delegate in Melilla, Spain’s enclave in Morocco, told Spanish media today.

“Today they were armed with sticks and stones,” Prefect Abdelmalik El Barkani said. “They no longer come peacefully, and this has cost the life of a person who was doing his duty to defend the border between Nador and Melilla.” A Moroccan officer died at 3am on Tuesday in clashes between gendarmes and migrants, who were attempting a mass assault on the frontier at Beni Ansar. Melilla authorities arrested 26 migrants, and are investigating the incident, while Melilla President Juan Jose Imbroda expressed his condolences to the officer’s family and praised Morocco’s help in patrolling the border.

The officer had been hit with a stone, El Barkani said, adding that what happened shows the migrants “are desperate and willing to act barbarically in order to enter Spain.” The two countries, El Barkani added, “will continue to work together to prevent illegal entries.” Melilla is in high alert against possible tidal waves of migrants, hoping to prevent violence and fatalities, such as took place in 2005. Among the preventive measures, that of periodically shunting detainees from Melilla’s temporary detention center, which has capacity of 800 people, to other detention centers in Spain.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The European Muslim and Islamic Catastrophe: Will Those Responsible be Prosecuted?

by Nicolai Sennels

The immigration of non-Westerners, especially of Muslims, has proven to be an economic, social and safety catastrophe. The costs for social benefits and services to Muslim immigrants and their descendants is an unbearable millstone around the European economy’s neck. Thousands of cities in Western Europe are cut in pieces by the Muslim parallel societies that are segregating when it comes to language, culture, laws and so some extent also economy. The growing amount of terror, violence and crime coming from this specific population are changing the very basis of our civilized societies: feeling and being safe.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Muslim and Christian Scholars Team Up to Ask Hotel Chains to Stop Offering Pay-Per-View Porn

A Christian scholar and a Muslim leader have teamed up to ask hotel chain to stop offering pay-per-view porn. Robert P. George, Princeton University professor and former chairman of the Christian group the National Organization for Marriage wrote a letter to hotel owners along with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, the founder of Zaytuna College, a Muslim university. Both men requested that the hotels ‘do what is right as a matter of conscience’ and stop selling pornography to guests.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Asteroid Miners to Hitch a Ride With Virgin Galactic

Billionaire-backed Planetary Resources, the company that in April announced ambitious plans to mine space rocks for minerals, will hitch a ride with space tourism company Virgin Galactic.

The new union is a sign that the nascent commercial space-flight industry could soon become self-sustaining. It was prompted by LauncherOne, a low-cost satellite-launching rocket that Virgin founder Richard Branson revealed on 11 July at the Farnborough International Airshow, UK.

Virgin Galactic, headquartered in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is best known for its plans to ferry paying tourists to the edge of space. The idea is to take the tourist-carrying SpaceShipTwo rocket to an altitude of 7 kilometres using aircraft WhiteKnightTwo. SpaceShipTwo will then be dropped so it can fire its engine and climb to an altitude of 100 kilometres — giving passengers a 5 minute spell in microgravity and an out-of-this-world view. An air launch means the rocket itself does not have to push through the densest part of the atmosphere, making the launch extremely fuel efficient.

The idea behind LauncherOne is to use the same process to launch satellites. From 2016, Virgin plans to sling LauncherOne beneath WhiteKnightTwo in place of SpaceShipTwo for satellite launches.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Earth’s Water Piggybacked on Asteroids, Not Comets

Whether comets or asteroids were the source of Earth’s water has long been the subject of debate. Now an analysis of the composition of meteorites suggests the water did not originate in the outer solar system, a finding that favours asteroids as the vehicle for its arrival.

Both asteroids and comets are found in a region of the solar system known as the asteroid belt, which occupies a wide swathe of space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. However, comets with their icy tails would have been born in the chillier region of space between Saturn and Jupiter and then migrated into the asteroid belt.

To find out whether comets or asteroids were the parents of carbonaceous chondrites: rare meteorites which delivered water and volatile elements such as nitrogen, carbon and hydrogen to Earth, a team led by Conel Alexander from the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Washington DC measured the amount of deuterium — a heavy isotope of hydrogen — in 86 chondrite samples found on Earth.

The further from the sun an object was formed, the more deuterium-rich it tends to be. The chondrites Alexander tested turned out to contain significantly less deuterium than comets, indicating that the chondrites most likely originated in a different place. “So, they probably formed closer in to the sun,” says Alexander, most likely in the asteroid belt itself.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Message of Islam Can Always Prevail Over Islamophobia

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu

Muslims with a real understanding of their religion believe that the word and the essence of Islam emanate and preach peace, compassion, tolerance of all religions and beliefs, and respect for humanity and human dignity. These have been the fundamental principles of Islam since the Prophet Mohammed first spread its message over 14 centuries ago. Furthermore, throughout history Muslims have promoted peaceful coexistence with their fellow human beings across the world regardless of differences in religion and culture. It cannot be denied that Islam’s contribution to civilisation has been great, essential and irrefutable in all fields, and Muslims have always recognised other peoples’ religions and great contributions to humanity. Unfortunately, due to the rise of Islamophobia, mainly in the West, Muslims nowadays are facing various types of discriminatory acts, particularly by extremists and racists who irrationally equate Islam with terrorism based on false premises and assumptions.


Countering extremists and racists of all religions — whether in the form of anti-Islam, anti-Christian or anti-Semitism — is best served through dialogue and the exchange of views and information, in addition to sound government policies. The OIC believes that dialogue is the key to bridge the differences, build mutual trust among diverse religious groups and societies, and foster tolerance. In this context, the OIC has been a pioneer of the concept of “dialogue among civilisations” for almost a decade with the aim of reaching out to grassroots communities around the world.

However, reaching out to grassroots communities is not an easy task and requires immense resources. The OIC believes and calls for greater and more concerted efforts by community leaders, religious leaders, academics, various types of media institutions, and human rights organisations to address the scourge of Islamophobia and all forms of religious intolerance. It is an inclusive engagement that goes beyond diplomatic and political circles. The OIC calls on the concerned parties to unify their efforts and take collective bold initiatives to prevent human conflicts based on religions and belief to build together a better future for the generations to come. It is our moral duty to take action now before the extremists gain more ground and cause further destruction and suffering.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu is the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Why Not Confront Muslim Extremism?

by Brian Lilley

I know this has happened to you. You’ve been watching a newscast and there is a story about a terrorist plot being busted. You hear all about the plot, you know how many people were arrested, what they were generally attempting to do, but there is something the police seem to be avoiding. The M word or the I word. You know what I mean. Police bust an Islamic terror cell, people that plan to blow up a building or shoot others in the name of Islam, and yet police will not say the words Muslim, Islam or any variant thereof. Even when the people arrested have clearly stated their goal is to carry out an attack in the name of Islam, police will not use the M word or the I word.

A document issued by the RCMP may help you understand why this happens. It’s called Words Make Worlds and it details how the Mounties are supposed to talk about Islam.

This booklet has a chapter on jihad, but it’s not the jihad you and I have come to know — the kind where people claim they will wage a holy war. No, this booklet is all about how jihad is an internal struggle “striving in the path of God.” I’m disturbed any time government or a government agency tries to define religion, but that is what is happening here.

The document also makes a defence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that now controls much of Egypt. During his campaign for the Egyptian presidency, Mohammed Morsi, a man closely tied to the Brotherhood, told a crowd, “The Qur’an is our constitution. The Prophet Mohammed is our leader. Jihad is our path and death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration.”

That doesn’t sound like a peaceful striving in the path of God to me. And it doesn’t show the Brotherhood as the benign group the Mounties want you to think they are. The document goes on to tell the Mounties never to link Islam and terrorism. “Terms like ‘Islamic terrorism,’ ‘Islamist terrorism,’ ‘Jihadism’ and ‘Islamofascism’ succeed only in conflating terrorism with mainstream Islam, thereby casting all Muslims as terrorists or potential terrorists.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Why the Courts Will Always Favour the Left — in Britain and America

The US Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision shows that the legal establishment is inherently biased against the Right — and it’s worse in Britain, argues Henry Hill.

The recent drama over the Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of Obamacare was a reminder of how strongly the vesting of political authority in the judicial establishment favours the Left. Despite having been defeated in every junior court to which it was presented, the Conservative-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts reduced himself to fundamentally rewriting the President’s landmark legislation to spare the Court striking it down. If the leaks coming out of the Court are to be believed, his eleventh-hour flip was the result of the intense political pressure placed on him by Left-wing politicians and media in the run-up to the vote.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]