Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120731

Financial Crisis
»Amid Crisis, Europeans Flock to Learn Chinese
»Blair: Catastrophe to Give Up the Euro
»ECB Chief Under Scrutiny for Alleged Conflict of Interests
»ECB Could be Ready to Buy Weak Italian, Spanish Bonds
»Financial Expert: A Debt Avalanche is on the Way
»Finland: Bucking the Economic Trend
»France and Italy Want Unlimited Firepower for Bailout Fund
»Germany: Deutsche Bank Cuts 1,900 Jobs as Profits Halved
»German Unemployment Rises as Economy Cools
»Negative Rates Mulled to Lower Swiss Franc
»Obama Says Eurozone Will Survive, But Decisions Urgent
»Schäuble Unmoved by Geithner’s Pleas
»Spain’s Corruption Capital
»US-Swiss Tax Deal ‘May Never Happen’
»Group of House Republicans Stand by Islamophobic Witch Hunt
»How to Slander a Muslim
»In Defense of Michele Bachmann, Muslim Brotherhood Probes
»Michele Bachmann and Muslim Witch Hunts
»Mitt Romney Now Criticised by China
»Muslim Workers Fired for Prayer Get Their Jobs Back
»New Low for Politico
»San Martin Should Welcome Cordoba Center Mosque
»Stupidity Sold as Common Sense
»Tea Party Candidate Wins Republican Senate Nomination in Texas Runoff
»US Slams Europe for Anti-Muslim Laws and Egypt Over Christians’ Treatment
Europe and the EU
»91-Year-Old Swede Sends Would-be Burglar Packing
»Engineers Discover World’s Lightest Material
»France: Launched in France
»French Boss in Hunger Strike Over Taxes
»Hackers Stole Van Rompuy’s Emails
»Historic French Churches Face Demolition
»Italy: Colosseum in Rome is Leaning, Officials Say
»Norway: US Embassy ‘Bomb’ Was a Training Dummy
»Romney Finds Support in Poland After Missteps Abroad
»Romney Flops in Europe
»Swiss Unis ‘Should Raise Fees and Become More Elitist’
»UK: London Olympics 2012: Twitter ‘Alerted NBC to British Journalist’s Critical Tweets’
»UK: Michel Morganella, Swiss Soccer Player, Ejected From Olympic Games for Racist Tweet About South Koreans
»UK: Religious Leaders’ Conflict Warning
»UK: Saudi Woman Allowed to Compete in Hijab
»UK: Teenager Arrested Over ‘Abusive’ Tweets to Tom Daley
»UK: Ye Shiwen’s World Record Olympic Swim ‘Disturbing’, Says Top US Coach
»Serbia: Italian Minister Pledges Support to New Government
North Africa
»Egypt: Coptic Teacher Arrested for ‘Insulting’ Facebook Cartoons
»Egyptian Coptic Teacher Arrested for Insulting Islam on Facebook: Report
Israel and the Palestinians
»Mitt Romney: Israelis Richer Than Palestinians Because of ‘Hand of Providence’
Middle East
»Fate of Syrian Chemical Weapons May Trigger War
»Kuwait: Municipal Council Disapproves of Jleeb Church
»Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood Waiting in the Wings
»Turkey’s Syria Policy Backfires
»A Show Trial Like in the Days of Stalin?
»Another Russian Protest Leader Charged
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Pork Eating Crusader Patch is Insulting to Most Muslims
»Afghanistan: Al Hell Reveals Depth of Corruption
»India: The Poverty of the Tribal Bodo, Victims of Violence in Assam
»Indian Court Jails 21 Hindus Over Muslim Deaths
»More Than 600 Million People Affected by Latest Blackout in India
»North India Blackout: Blame it on States
»Pakistan: In Karachi: 11 Nurses Drink Tea Laced With Poison During Ramadan
»Pakistani TV Show Converts Non-Muslims
»Pakistan Refuses to Own Its ‘Heretic’ Scientist
»Seven U.S. Troops Killed in Combat Operations in Afghanistan
»UK: Decision Day for Mosque
Far East
»China’s Hunger for Energy is Insatiable
»North Korea: As Kim Jong-un Plays in the Park, Uncle Takes the Country
»Some 90,000 People Take to Hong Kong Streets to Protest Against Pro-Beijing ‘National Education’
Sub-Saharan Africa
»14 Killed in Attacks on Mosques, Police in North Nigeria
»Nigeria: Police Stations, AIG’s Office, Powa Bombed in Sokoto — Five Killed
»Nigeria: Suicide Bomber, Three Gunmen Killed in Failed Attack on Mosque
»Six More Ugandans Admitted With Possible Ebola
»UK: Abu Qatada Could be Back on Streets During Olympics in Latest Legal Bid
»UK: Married Migrants Benefits Scandal
Culture Wars
»Ban Religious Circumcision: Swiss
»Chick-Fil-a vs Gay Marriage: How a Chicken Restaurant Became a Culture War Battleground
»How to Create a Monster
»School Choice and the Destruction of Traditional Education
»Sweden: Police Out in Force for Pride as Hate Crimes Rise
»UK: Danny Boyle’s New Britain: Conform and Celebrate, Or Risk Being Cast Out of Polite Society

Financial Crisis

Amid Crisis, Europeans Flock to Learn Chinese

Ever since Europe’s economy began spiralling downwards a growing number of people from Dublin to Athens is taking to learning the language of opportunity: Chinese.

Aggregate data are not available, but figures from local language centres across the continent suggest that the number of people in Europe enlisted in taking the official Chinese Proficiency Test — or HSK — over the last two years has grown by close to a factor five.

“I think the economic reason plays a very important role,” says Lili Lei of the Confucius Institute in Munich, where the number of students rose by more than 100 percent in 2011 and is expected to grow even further this year. “Many people learn Chinese because they must or want to work in China. Many even think (it) can bring them a better future.”

Lu Zhu of the Confucius Institute in Dublin, where attendance this year rose from an average of less than 50 students per year to almost 100 so far, says that “apparently, the job opportunity is the main reason (for the increase).”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Blair: Catastrophe to Give Up the Euro

“To give up the euro now would be a catastrophe economically, not just politically,” former British prime minister Tony Blair wrote in a comment in German daily Bild. “All the alternatives are ugly. But the least unattractive for Europe, and in particularly relevant for Germany is to save the euro.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

ECB Chief Under Scrutiny for Alleged Conflict of Interests

The EU ombudsman has launched an investigation into an alleged conflict of interest by European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi due to his membership in a club of top bankers, the Group of Thirty (G30).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

ECB Could be Ready to Buy Weak Italian, Spanish Bonds

Recent statements by the European Central Bank suggest the body is committed to buying bonds from ailing eurozone members. France is behind the measure, but the German Central Bank still has reservations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Financial Expert: A Debt Avalanche is on the Way

Cologne-based financial strategist Philip Vorndran says inflation is the only way out of the European debt crisis. But that would not only shrink debt, it would also slash people’s savings.

DW: You recently published a book entitled “The Debt Avalanche” — referring, of course, to the debt crisis in Europe. If we picture an avalanche, where are we right now? At the bottom of the mountain, which means the avalanche hasn’t fully hit us yet, or are we in its midst already?

Phillipp Vorndran: We are convinced that we are in its early stages, we feel the avalanche’s suction, its air draft. But we are not yet past the most dangerous parts of the debt avalanche.

You say the debt crisis — this landslide — can only be stopped by inflation, which means a drop in the purchasing power of money and rising prices. How can that function?

In theory, you can reduce debt in four different ways. The Greeks have shown us the easiest way, debt restructuring. But that is unrealistic, we won’t see that in the large economies because the central banks will balk at the concept.

The second option is the “Swabian housewife” model: austerity. Here, unfortunately, we are all 15 years too late. If we all started saving now and putting the brakes on spending, we would quickly reach a state of economic Armageddon, comparable to the situation in the 1930s. That is something politicians certainly do not want, and it would also be a massive challenge to apeaceful social coexistence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Finland: Bucking the Economic Trend

While all the other major European economies have been placed on negative outlook, Finland has maintained its stable position. DW looks at what gives the Finnish economy the edge.

The rating agency Moody’s has put Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg on negative outlook over concerns that they may have to foot the bill if major economies like Spain or Italy are forced to seek a bailout.

That indicates that the agency is considering a downgrade if the difficult conditions persist; for the moment, Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg will keep their coveted AAA status, along with Austria and France, which were also placed on negative outlook back in February.

Finland, by contrast, is bucking the trend. Moody’s has re-affirmed the highest possible triple A rating for the Finnish economy, noting that its economic output remains stable.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France and Italy Want Unlimited Firepower for Bailout Fund

France and Italy, as well as leading European Central Bank (ECB) members, are considering to give the eurozone’s future bailout fund (ESM) a banking licence so it can borrow unlimited amounts of money from the ECB, Sueddeutsche reports. Germany opposes the move as the ESM is funded with public money.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Deutsche Bank Cuts 1,900 Jobs as Profits Halved

Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest lender, said on Tuesday that it would slash 1,900 jobs, mainly in its corporate banking and securities division, as the eurozone crisis cut second quarter profits nearly in half.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Unemployment Rises as Economy Cools

German unemployment has risen for the fourth month in a row, bringing the total number of jobless people to the highest level since the end of 2011. Economic risks are on the rise, says the Labor Agency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Negative Rates Mulled to Lower Swiss Franc

Switzerland’s central bank could soon make investors pay for the privilege of depositing money in Switzerland’s banks.

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is contemplating imposing negative interest rates to ease the flow of capital pouring into the country.

Investors jittery over problems in the eurozone, where Greece and Spain are flirting with financial collapse, see Switzerland as a safe haven.

This has put upward pressure on the value of the Swiss franc, forcing the SNB to set a floor of 1.20 against the euro last September. But observers now wonder whether the central bank will have to go further.

Denmark, another country regarded as a safe haven outside the eurozone, introduced negative interest rates earlier this month. These oblige banks to pay 0.2 percent to deposit money with the Danish central bank.

Experts appear divided over whether Switzerland will follow suit, with many believing a negative interest rate would only be introduced in a worst-case scenario for the eurozone.

“You can safely assume that the Swiss central bank is closely watching what their Danish colleagues are doing,” Maxime Botteron, an economist at Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) in Zurich, told Bloomberg News. “Should the situation deteriorate, they might follow suit and introduce negative rates on banks’ sight deposits.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Obama Says Eurozone Will Survive, But Decisions Urgent

US President Barack Obama has forecast that the eurozone and its currency will survive its debt crisis. But he urged Europe to make decisions sooner rather than later to minimize global economic fallout.

The Democratic party incumbent told 60 business executives at a New York fundraising event for his bid to be re-elected as US president in November that the euro would stay intact, adding that “the sooner they take decisive action, the better off we’re going to be.”

“I don’t think ultimately that the Europeans will let the euro unravel but they are going to have to take some decisive steps,” he said.

Obama cited an 800 billion dollar (652 billion euro) stimulus package that his administration promoted in 2009 as an example.

“Despite its unpopularity, (the plan) avoided this chronic bleeding wound that has been an enormous problem not just for Europe now, but for the entire global economy.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Schäuble Unmoved by Geithner’s Pleas

Washington wants Berlin to buy bonds from indebted eurozone states, and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner came to Germany especially to talk his counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble into it — but he remained unmoved.

The euro crisis has been worrying the US government for some time. Apart from the bankruptcy of Greece, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is nervous about the high interest rates that Spain and Italy are paying on their bonds.

On Monday Geithner travelled to Germany to discuss the latest developments in the eurozone with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble. The meeting, initiated by the Americans, took place on the island of Sylt, where Schäuble is currently enjoying his summer holiday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain’s Corruption Capital

Trial Highlights Extent of Building Boom Sleaze

Spain’s construction boom attracted many hustlers, particularly to the Costa del Sol’s luxury resort town of Marbella. But now a singer’s high-profile trial for bribery and money laundering is exposing the extent of the abuses and turning the city into a symbol of the consequences of an unsustainable growth model.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

US-Swiss Tax Deal ‘May Never Happen’

Top Swiss bankers have voiced doubts that the tax deal with the USA will be completed before the end of the year, with some saying agreement may never be reached.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Group of House Republicans Stand by Islamophobic Witch Hunt

Despite criticism from leading Republicans over their attacks on a notable senior aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a group of House Republicans conducting a witch hunt on government officials supposedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood are doubling down on their accusations. The group, led by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), has yet to provide actual evidence of the “infiltration” they say is occurring, and the attacks on Huma Abedin, a long-time and well-known Clinton aide, drew ridicule from across Washington and highlighted the shoddiness of the entire report. But the lawmakers aren’t giving up, The Hill reports: Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told The Hill that the media’s focus on Abedin was a “deliberate effort to change the subject.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

How to Slander a Muslim

Many people are puzzled by the charge of slander laid against Mitt Romney.

All Romney did was directly quote what Barack Obama said.

Since when has quoting a man, providing the full context of his remarks, and then sitting back to watch the fireworks constitute slander?

Well, it doesn’t — from a Western point of view.

But from an Eastern point of view, it’s an entirely different matter.

From the Sunni Muslim Sharia law manual, Reliance of the Traveller:


r2.2 Slander (ghiba) means to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike, whether about his body, religion, everyday life, self, disposition, property, son, father, wife, servant, turban, garment, gait, movements, smiling, dissoluteness, frowning, cheerfulness, or anything else connected with him.

In Islam, it is slander to tell the truth about someone if that person doesn’t like it.

In the United States, we call this “political correctness”.

If you ever wondered why the Left and Islam get along so well, this may help answer your question.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

In Defense of Michele Bachmann, Muslim Brotherhood Probes

by Newt Gingrich

The recent assault on the National Security Five is only the most recent example of the fear our elites have about discussing and understanding radical Islamists. When an orchestrated assault is launched on the right to ask questions in an effort to stop members of Congress from even inquiring about a topic — you know the fix is in.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Michele Bachmann and Muslim Witch Hunts

Editor’s note: Haris Tarin is the director of the Washington office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

(CNN) — It is difficult being an American Muslim engaged in civic activities, let alone working in government or politics. We Muslims must always second-guess what we say, guard against people questioning our loyalty and make sure that nobody thinks we are trying to infiltrate the government to sabotage it from within and hand it over to the Muslim Brotherhood. Most Americans would dismiss these accusations, especially the last one, as outrageous conspiracy theories written by loonies on their blogs. Yet American Muslim public servants are facing these charges from sitting members of Congress. The sad reality is that it has been happening for a decade, and has been met with complete indifference from the media and the public.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mitt Romney Now Criticised by China

Mitt Romney, whose trip abroad to boost his foreign policy credentials has been riddled with gaffes and setbacks, has now been criticised by China over his Jerusalem comments.

A commentary by the official Xinhua News Agency said Mr Romney’s statement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel could worsen an already tense Middle East situation. It said that Mr Romney’s “hawkish remarks” ignored the sensitive nature of Jerusalem. It said the comments disregarded the Palestinians’ claim to the war-won eastern sector of the city, which was annexed by Israel in 1967 in a move that is not internationally recognised.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslim Workers Fired for Prayer Get Their Jobs Back

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn.— Several workers said they were shocked after they were sent to the restroom to pray and not long after they lost their jobs. Several Muslim employees at the CEVA Logistics in Mt. Juliet said they were discriminated against because of how and where they chose to spend their breaks. “I’ve lived here for 19 years in America. I grew up here. I don’t think I should be treated in this way,” said Abdir Ahman. Nine Muslim employees said they were fired Wednesday from the plant for using their breaks to pray during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

New Low for Politico

by Glenn Greenwald

When Politico first began spewing its pollution back in 2007, I wrote a series of posts examining its ownership and management, its heavy reliance on Drudge links, its biases, and its tawdry methods, and had a lengthy exchange with its Editor, John Harris, about those critiques. I long ago stopped doing that: aside from the handful of genuinely good reporters they have, it is widely recognized that Politico is little more than a glorified gossip rag, the belly of the media beast, the embodiment of everything vapid, reckless, and petty that drives America’s media rot. Pointing out the latest examples is pointless and redundant.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

San Martin Should Welcome Cordoba Center Mosque

by Leah Halper

The Santa Clara County Planning Commission will, I hope, approve the Cordoba Center at it’s meeting 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the county building in San Jose. The project will include a mosque, cemetery and multi-purpose space proposed by the South Valley Islamic Community for San Martin. I take an interest in San Martin. My great grandparents, John and Maria Bogetti, grew prunes here 100 years ago. I’m sure they didn’t know any Muslims. Neither did I, until I was well into my forties and teaching college. That’s a shame.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Stupidity Sold as Common Sense

Let’s begin with gun control. Actually, the words “gun control” are a bit misleading. Government-imposed “self-defense control” would be a far more accurate statement of what the American left is attempting to foist on the public. Only a progressive could imagine that limiting a law-abiding citizen’s right to own a firearm would reduce the amount of gun violence, inasmuch as the law-ignoring citizen (or non-citizen, for that matter) would be completely unaffected by such restrictions. Perhaps progressives, as is their wont, envision a society with no guns at all, as if the proverbial toothpaste can somehow be squeezed back into the tube.

Of course in order to achieve that, one would first have to confiscate all of the existing illegal firearms, and/or eviscerate the Second Amendment. No doubt that is something a lot of progressives would like to do, especially if they could just avoid that “messy” constitutional amendment process that requires an enormous level of consent by people still quaint enough to believe in the rule of law. Like so much of their agenda, progressives would prefer to rely on the courts to do their dirty work for them. Perhaps if Barack Obama is re-elected, he will appoint one or two Supreme Court Justices who could manage to find a “living” reason for tossing the Second Amendment overboard.

Which brings us directly to why we have a Second Amendment in the first place. Unlike the straw-man arguments progressives and their media lapdogs are currently pushing about how much firepower a hunter does or doesn’t need, or American cities turning into shooting galleries should the right to carry be extended to places where it is currently illegal, the real reason we have a Second Amendment is because the Founding Fathers remembered why they came to America in the first place: to escape tyrannical government and all its excesses. It is truly remarkable how many Americans would willingly surrender their right to protect themselves from such tyranny, even as self-protection per se becomes a nice side benefit.

In recent media accounts of the Colorado shooting, the only one to raise this important point was former rapper Ice-T.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Tea Party Candidate Wins Republican Senate Nomination in Texas Runoff

Ted Cruz, an insurgent backed by the Tea Party, defeated the candidate favored by Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday in a runoff election for the Republican Senate nomination that revealed a wide rift in Texas between the party establishment and restless, anti-incumbent activists on the right.

With the come-from-behind victory, Mr. Cruz is heavily favored to win the Senate seat being vacated in November by Kay Bailey Hutchison and appears likely to become a star of the national conservative movement.

Mr. Cruz, 41, is the latest conservative rebel to bring down an established party leader, tapping into simmering anger and anti-incumbent frustration within the Republican ranks nationwide.

[Return to headlines]

US Slams Europe for Anti-Muslim Laws and Egypt Over Christians’ Treatment

WASHINGTON — From pork rinds sprinkled on Muslim graves in France to a Christian pastor’s death sentence for apostasy in Iran, religious minorities were targeted across the globe in 2011, according to a U.S. government report on the state of religious freedom. The State Department’s annual compilation, released Monday, highlighted a few narrow openings in unlikely places — transitional Libya and closed-off Myanmar, for example — but it also criticized some traditional U.S. allies for backsliding when it came to protecting the freedom to worship. Europe in particular was chided for failing to keep pace with its growing ethnic and religious diversity, with the report saying that the demographic change is sometimes accompanied by “growing xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim sentiment, and intolerance toward people considered ‘the other.’ “


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

91-Year-Old Swede Sends Would-be Burglar Packing

A would-be thief in Gävle, on the east coast of Sweden, who was trying to pry a nonagenarian’s jewellery off her fingers, was surprised to find the woman unfazed by his attempts.

The man rang the woman’s doorbell around midday on Sunday, asking if he could borrow a bucket of water, local paper Gefle Dagblad reports.

The woman, who had a 72-year-old female friend with her at the time, agreed to lend him a bucket and give him some water, but as her companion went looking for a pail, the man turned his attention to the rings on the elderly lady’s fingers.

According to the paper, the man admired the woman’s jewellery and attempted to pull the rings off her fingers. His victim, however, was made of sterner stuff and she immediately snatched back her bejewelled hands saying “like hell you will” to the disappointed con artist.

When the woman’s friend returned shortly after with the promised bucket and water, the man quickly made his excuses and took off as soon as he could.

This is not the first scam involving the request for a bucket of water in the area, according to the paper. The incident has been classified by police as attempted theft.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Engineers Discover World’s Lightest Material

Engineers at the German universities of Kiel and Hamburg have discovered the world’s lightest material — Aerographite. It’s super strong and very flexible, too.

Although 99.9 percent of Aerographite is made of air, the new material gets its strength from a three-dimensional carbon network. Aerographite is 75 times lighter than Styrofoam.

It was discovered by chance by PhD student, Matthias Mecklenburg in September 2010. Mecklenburg is part of Hamburg’s cluster of excellence called Integrated Material Systems. He could tell that his finding was a world first.

Since then, he and his mentor, Professor Karl Schulte of Hamburg University, and colleagues under Professor Rainer Adelung at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, have been working toward presenting the material to the world. Their results have been published in the July issue of the journal, Advanced Materials.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Launched in France

A French Muslim has set up a website to map mosques throughout France and ‘de-stigmatize’ Islam.

Baddre-Eddine Bentaïb, a French Muslim from the city of Orléans, has set up a website mapping and providing information on mosques throughout France. Now, he is embarking on a ‘Ramadan road trip’ that will take him around the country. When travelling around France for his work, Bentaïb discovered there was no easy way of finding a place of worship, he tells Le Monde, and so his idea, (Find Your Mosque), was born.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

French Boss in Hunger Strike Over Taxes

The owner of a security company has gone on hunger strike outside a French tax collectors office, in protest at taxes that he says threaten to sink his firm.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Hackers Stole Van Rompuy’s Emails

Hackers last summer raided the emails of EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy and 10 other senior officials. The breach was exposed last week by a team of US academics and cyber security firms which has been tracking a hackers group known by two names — Comment and Byzantine Candor.

The US investigators, who asked to remain anonymous, showed computer logs detailing the hackers’ behaviour to the Bloomberg news agency. According to the logs, the group accessed the EU Council’s computer network at around 9am Brussels time on four occasions — 8 July, 11 July, 13 July and 18 July last year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Historic French Churches Face Demolition

The French government appropriated all church property in 1907 — including the cost of maintaining them. Increasing numbers of local authorities cannot or will not renovate their churches, as some face demolition.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Colosseum in Rome is Leaning, Officials Say

Experts say ancient building has started to tilt, with south side 40cm lower than north, and may need urgent repairs

The ancient Colosseum in Rome is slanting about 40cm lower on the south side than on the north, and authorities are investigating whether it needs urgent repairs.

Experts first noticed the incline about a year ago and have been monitoring it for the past few months, Rossella Rea, director at the 2,000-year-old monument, said in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, another of Italy’s most popular attractions, was reopened in 2001 after being shut for more than a decade as engineers worked to prevent it from falling over and to make it safe for visitors.

Rea has asked La Sapienza University and the environmental geology institute IGAG to study the problem and report back in a year.

Tests have begun to observe the effects that traffic on nearby busy roads may have on the monument.

Prof Giorgio Monti, from La Sapienza’s construction technology department, said there might be a crack in the base below the amphitheatre.

“The slab of concrete on which the Colosseum rests, which is like a 13-metre-thick oval doughnut, may have a fracture inside it,” he told the newspaper.

He said intervention could be necessary if the concerns are confirmed, along the lines of stabilisation work carried out in Pisa, but he said it was too early to judge what kind of intervention would be most suitable.

The Colosseum — famous for hosting bloody gladiator fights in the days of the Roman empire — attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists and is usually packed with visitors.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: US Embassy ‘Bomb’ Was a Training Dummy

The bomb scare which led to the evacuation of the US embassy and surrounding buildings in central Oslo on Tuesday was caused by forgetful embassy staff leaving a dummy bomb for training purposes under a parked vehicle.

According to a police statement the object which triggered the massive operation and considerable disruption for residents and businesses in the vicinity of the embassy on Henrik Ibsens gate in central Oslo belonged to the embassy and was intended for training purposes. Embassy staff had simply forgotten to remove it from under the parked car.

The embassy called the police at around 11.30am on Tuesday morning to report that a suspicious package had been spotted. The Oslo police bomb team dispatched to the scene were able to conclude that the suspicious package was harmless and further investigations revealed that the car had been used in internal security exercises.

The embassy has since acknowledged that the object in question indeed belongs to them and Oslo police have apologized for the disruption caused.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Romney Finds Support in Poland After Missteps Abroad

The US Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, is wrapping up a gaffe-filled three country tour in Poland. Former Polish president Lech Walesa has offered Romney words of support.

The former leader of Poland’s anti-communist Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa, has wished Romney “success”, a needed political boost for the Republican presidential contender after a series of diplomatic blunders in Great Britain and Israel.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Romney Flops in Europe

He’s only been abroad for a week, but the Palestinians are accusing him of racism, the Brits are annoyed and Polish union leaders don’t like him. Mitt Romney’s trip to Europe and the Middle East has been marred by one fumble after the next.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swiss Unis ‘Should Raise Fees and Become More Elitist’

Swiss universities and colleges should become more elitist, raising fees and entrance requirements, the principal of one of the country’s most prestigious institutions has said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: London Olympics 2012: Twitter ‘Alerted NBC to British Journalist’s Critical Tweets’

Twitter employees alerted NBC staff to a British journalist’s tweets and showed them how to file a complaint against him, the television network has revealed.

Users of the social network vented their anger against Twitter yesterday after Guy Adams, a foreign correspondent for the Independent, was suspended without warning from the site after posting a series of critical tweets about NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. One of the tweets urged his followers to send their views to Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics. Mr Adams subsequently published Mr Zenkel’s corporate email address and a complaint was filed by NBC.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Michel Morganella, Swiss Soccer Player, Ejected From Olympic Games for Racist Tweet About South Koreans

LONDON — A Swiss soccer player was expelled from the Olympics on Monday for his threatening and racist message on Twitter about South Koreans. The comments by Michel Morganella came hours after Switzerland lost to South Korea. Morganella “discriminated against, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korea football team as well as the South Korean people,” Swiss Olympic team chief Gian Gilli said through a translator at a news conference. He said the player was stripped of his Olympic accreditation.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Religious Leaders’ Conflict Warning

Mosque leaders in Keighley are being urged to “make sure there is no confrontation” when the far-right English Defence League holds a demonstration in the town against alleged sexual grooming. Bradford Councillor Abid Hussain, a leading member of Keighley Muslim Association, appealed to the Muslim community to show restraint. Coun Hussain said: “Everybody has a right to protest and we cannot stop this protest but members of the Muslim community will be concerned about this. I don’t think anyone wants them in Keighley but we are hoping for a peaceful demonstration.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Saudi Woman Allowed to Compete in Hijab

LONDON (Reuters) — A female Saudi fighter will take part in the Olympic judo competition after being allowed to wear an Islamic headscarf, or hijab, of a specific design, officials said on Monday. Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani is one of only two Saudi women to travel to London after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) lobbied the conservative Islamic kingdom to end its refusal to send women to the Games.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Teenager Arrested Over ‘Abusive’ Tweets to Tom Daley

A 17-year-old has been arrested after allegedly malicious tweets were sent to Olympic diver Tom Daley accusing him of letting his late father down.

Dorset Police have confirmed the teenager was arrested on suspicion of malicious communications at a guest house in Weymouth following a series of abusive messages. Daley and his partner Pete Waterfield missed out on a medal yesterday when they finished fourth in the men’s synchronised 10m platform diving event at the Olympics.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Ye Shiwen’s World Record Olympic Swim ‘Disturbing’, Says Top US Coach

China has become embroiled in the first doping controversy of the London Games after one of the world’s most respected coaches described the swimming prodigy Ye Shiwen’s gold medal performance as “unbelievable” and “disturbing”.

The American John Leonard, executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, said the 16-year-old’s performance was “suspicious” and said it brought back “a lot of awful memories” of the Irish swimmer Michelle Smith’s race in the same event at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Smith, now Michelle de Bruin, was banned for four years in 1998 for tampering with a urine sample.

Ye stunned world swimming on Saturday by winning gold in the 400m individual medley in a world-record time. It was her final 100m of freestyle, in which she recorded a split time of 58.68sec, that aroused Leonard’s suspicion. Over the last 50m she was quicker than the American Ryan Lochte, who won the men’s 400m individual medley in the second-fastest time in history .

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Serbia: Italian Minister Pledges Support to New Government

Belgrade, 30 July (AKI) — Italian foreign minister Giuliano Terzi on Monday pledged support to new Serbian government in its bid for European Union membership and vowed to further promote already fruitful bilateral relations.

Terzi, the first foreign visitor to Belgrade since new government was sworn in last Friday, met president Tomislav Nikolic, prime minister Ivica Dacic, foreign minister Ivan Mrkic and defense minister Aleksandar Vucic.

Italy is Serbia’s leading trade partner, with annual turnover close to two billion euros and has been one of the keenest supporters of Serbia’s bid to join the EU. But the 27-member bloc has linked Serbia’s bid to the normalisation of relations with Kosovo whose majority ethnic Albanians declared independence in 2008.

Terzi has called for resumption of talks between Belgrade and Pristina whic h were broken off before the May elections, saying it would contribute to stabilisation of the situation in the region and enhance Serbia’s prospects of entering the EU.

Italy is among 22 EU countries that have recognized Kosovo, but the issue hasn’t affected excellent bilateral relations in other areas.

Dacic said he hoped Terzi’s visit would further promote excellent ties and boost Italian investment in the country.

Some 200 Italian companies, including automobile producer Fiat, are already doing business in Serbia, employing about 15,000 people.

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

North Africa

Egypt: Coptic Teacher Arrested for ‘Insulting’ Facebook Cartoons

Cairo, 31 July (AKI) — A minority Coptic Christian teacher is under arrest for posting cartoons on Facebook that allegedly insulted Islam, the Prophet Mohammed and Islamist president Mohammed Mursi, state-run al-Ahram reported on Tuesday.

Bishoy Kamel, a Coptic-Christian teacher from the Upper Egyptian Governorate of Sohag, was arrested on Monday.

Mohammed Safwat, an Egyptian, pressed against Kamel, who has been detained for four days pending investigation.

Kamel has admitted managing the page of the popular social networking site but claimed it was attacked by hackers on Saturday, al-Ahram Online said.

Islamist lawyers lodged a complaint with Egypt’s attorney-general last June against a Coptic business tycoon, Naguib Sawiris, who posted a cartoon of Disney characters Mickey and Minnie Mouse dressed in Islamic garb.

The lawyers claimed the cartoons offended Islam but Sawiris said they were just a joke and had no religious dimensions.

Coptic Christians make up around 10 percent of Muslim-majority Egypt’s population and have frequently been targeted by Islamic extremists. They also claim they are discriminated against by the state.

In January 2011, a suicide bomber killed more than 20 Christians outside a church in the northern port city of Alexandria, amid accusations by Islamists that the Coptic Church had detained a woman who converted to Islam.

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

Egyptian Coptic Teacher Arrested for Insulting Islam on Facebook: Report

An Egyptian teacher was detained after being accused of posting cartoons on Facebook allegedly insulting Islam, Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and Islamist President Mohammed Mursi, an Egyptian daily reported on Tuesday. A Coptic-Christian teacher from the southern Egyptian Governorate of Sohag, Bishoy Kamel, was arrested on Monday for sharing the cartoons on a Facebook page, the online edition of Egyptian state-run al-Ahram daily reported. The charges were pressed against Kamel by Mohammed Safwat, an Egyptian who claimed that the latter had insulted the newly-elected President as well. Kamel has admitted managing the Facebook page in question, however, he claimed that he was not responsible for the content of the page, which, he alleged, had been hacked on Saturday, according to the report by al-Ahram Online.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Mitt Romney: Israelis Richer Than Palestinians Because of ‘Hand of Providence’

Mitt Romney was accused of racism after he appeared to suggest that Israelis were richer than Palestinians because of their cultural and religious superiority.

Struggling to regain momentum after a troubled trip to London, where he criticised Olympic preparations, the Republican presidential candidate has stirred up further ill-feeling. He ended the Israeli leg of his world tour on Monday facing Palestinian charges that he promoted “extremism, violence and hatred”. As he prepared to stoke yet more controversy on Tuesday in Poland with a speech hostile to Russia, Mr Romney demonstrated what critics see as a penchant for causing offence abroad at a fundraising breakfast in Jerusalem.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Fate of Syrian Chemical Weapons May Trigger War

As the battle against Syrian rebels reaches a new stage, Israel is worried that President Assad might use his vast arsenal of chemical weapons against his own people or neighbors — or perhaps even give some to Hezbollah. Though many experts view this as unlikely, Israel is still weighing whether to strike.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Kuwait: Municipal Council Disapproves of Jleeb Church

Member of the Municipal Council, Mane Al-Ajmi stressed that the formal approval granted by the Ministry of Awqaf to construct a new church building should not be understood to mean that the Municipality has completely approved of the request. He added that the ministry may not authorize building of a church in Kuwait. “The old fatwa bans building churches in the Arabian peninsula and Kuwait is part of it,” said Al-Ajmi noting that Muslim scholars have prohibited building churches in the lands of Muslims. “We already have enough churches in Kuwait,” he added, noting that the Municipal Council does not approve of the idea of building a new church in Jleeb. —Al-Watan

           — Hat tip: RR[Return to headlines]

Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood Waiting in the Wings

The fighting between the Syrian regime and rebels is intensifying. Observers say it is only a matter of time before President Bashar Assad loses his iron grip on power. But who will take over at the helm?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey’s Syria Policy Backfires

As Syria’s crisis deepens, Turkey is greatly concerned about a PKK-controlled Kurdish state in Turkey’s immediate neighborhood. Ankara’s fear is not a Greater Kurdistan, but a PKK-controlled semi-state, analysts say.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


A Show Trial Like in the Days of Stalin?

It is one of the most controversial cases in a long time: the Moscow trial against punk band Pussy Riot. The three young musicians face seven years in prison for staging an anti-Putin protest in a church.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Another Russian Protest Leader Charged

Russian authorities have charged anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny with embezzlement. The blogger, who helped spearhead anti-Kremlin protests earlier this year, has said the charges against him are “absurd.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Pork Eating Crusader Patch is Insulting to Most Muslims

It seems “pork eating crusader patch” is a big hit among some of the troops in Afghanistan. Not so much among the Muslim community however — who look at the patch as a symbol of America’s hatred and contempt for their religion. In Islam “pork” is forbidden for religious reasons.

Promoting pork and the eating of pork is not permissible in Islam. The “pork eating crusader” patch is sold online and are reported sometimes worn on soldier’s uniforms and gear as gimmicks and jokes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: Al Hell Reveals Depth of Corruption

In 2010, the US discovered that Afghan soldiers were being starved to death in a US-funded military hospital in Afghanistan, and nothing was done. Now US lawmakers are losing patience with corruption in the country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

India: The Poverty of the Tribal Bodo, Victims of Violence in Assam

In Kokrajhar, the epicenter of the riots between Muslim settlers and natives, a Salesian priest describes the conditions of 15 thousand tribal refugees in the camps of the diocese. Burned houses, killed livestock and devastated land. The risk of spreading diseases, especially among the elderly, children and pregnant women.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — A “pathetic” situation of absolute “poverty and despair”: thus Fr. Sebastian SBD, parish priest of Don Bosco of Kokrajhar, describes the condition of over 15 thousand tribal accommodated in 10 camps in the parish following the violence between indigenous Bodo and Muslim settlers to AsiaNews. Currently, tensions appear to have calmed, and P Chidambaran, the interior minister, is set to visit the people of Assam. Yet, the Salesian priest said, these people are facing “an uncertain future, bleak and grim, especially for their children. They have lost everything.”

The riots erupted in the night between 21 and 22 July, when unidentified gunmen killed four young people in Kokrajhar district, an area populated by tribal Bodo. According to preliminary police reports for revenge, some tribes attacked Muslims, suspected of being responsible for the killing. Since then, violence has escalated, with different groups who have set fire to cars, homes and schools, shooting at people and among crowds. Between 22 and 23 July, the riots spread like wildfire, reaching the district of Chirang. The final toll is about 53 deaths and more than 170 thousand people (tribals and settlers) who have fled from their villages.

These days, Don Bosco Parish has set up 10 refugee camps, where over 15 thousand tribal Bodo found refuge and support. “The families — says Fr. Sebastian — have left the villages, bringing with them only the clothes on their backs, such was their fear. Their homes were reduced to ashes, their lands were ravaged, their cattle killed. These people are traumatized physically and psychologically”.

Now the main danger concerns the spread of diseases, especially because the country is in the grips of the monsoon season. “We have emergency tents — said the priest -, in which we distribute medicines, basic sanitation, clean water and clean sheets. Pregnant women, small children and elderly are most vulnerable, and we want to limit the contagion.”

The northeastern state of Assam is not new to such violence. In general, the disorders arise from disputes of an economic nature, in which ethnic diversity is an aggravating circumstance. On several occasions, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), a non-autonomous territorial authority that administers the Bodo-majority areas, has denounced the abuses committed by Muslim settlers, who illegally enter India from the border with Bangladesh and take possession of the land of the indigenous .

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

Indian Court Jails 21 Hindus Over Muslim Deaths

Life in prison for 21 for murder of 11 members of a Muslim family in Visnagar during sectarian violence in 2002

An Indian court has sentenced 21 Hindus to life imprisonment in connection with the deaths of 11 members of a Muslim family during some of the country’s worst sectarian violence 10 years ago. Judge SC Srivastava found the 21 guilty of attempted murder and rioting. The killings took place in 2002 in Visnagar, a town in the state of Gujarat. More than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed by Hindu mobs in the state after a train fire killed 60 Hindus who were returning from a pilgrimage. Muslims were blamed for the fire. Tens of thousands of people were left homeless as the rioters set fire to Muslim homes and businesses.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

More Than 600 Million People Affected by Latest Blackout in India

India’s electricity grids suffered another massive failure Tuesday, the second in two days, frustrating commuters, stranding coal miners and leaving more than 600 million people without lights, rail service or air conditioning in 90-degree heat.

R.K. Nayak, chairman of the Power Grid Corporation of India, told reporters at a new conference in the capital that the problem was difficult to pinpoint given the network’s complexity, but that he hoped to see the system up and running by midnight.

“Some sections might have caused tripping but it is difficult to give you anything at this time,” he added.

By early evening, power officials were reporting that around 40% of the system was operating normally again.

The massive outage — billed as one of the world’s largest, affecting half of India’s 1.2 billion people — occurred soon after the northern grid was powered back up after a 15-hour failure Monday, only to collapse again shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday That tripped the eastern and northeastern grids in quick succession, leaving much of the country in the dark and the capital with 1% of its usual electricity supply.

Nearly twice as many people were affected by Tuesday’s failure as were without power Monday.

As the outage spread, state officials stepped up their finger-pointing, accusing neighboring states of taking more than their allocated share of power, even as opposition politicians slammed the government for mismanagement and policy paralysis.

“This lowers the esteem of the country in the eyes of the world,” said Prakash Javadekar, a spokesman with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. “The country is suffering.”

As the Delhi Metro ground to a halt, passengers in the capital were forced to clamber down from rail cars and walk or wait until emergency power allowed trains to reach the nearest station. Some 350 trains were affected nationwide.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North India Blackout: Blame it on States

New Delhi: North India on Monday witnessed its worst blackout in a decade, with millions waking up to no electricity. While the power supply was restored by evening, the question bogging everyone’s mind is — what led to such a massive power failure?

Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has appointed a panel to probe the causes of the blackout and the report is likely to be submitted within 15 days, but the reasons are amply clear.

As per officials and a report of the National Load Dispatch Center (NLDC), some North Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab drawing more power from Northern Grid than authorised is the main cause behind the kind of grid failure witnessed yesterday.

Very recently in May this year, the Central Electricity Regulatory Authority (CERC) had issued notices to the state load dispatch centres (SLDCs) of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana asking them to halt overdrawing power from the Northern Grid.

While the CERC had asked these SLDCs to be prepared to buy additional power to meet the anticipated demand during summer/monsoon, the states failed to take notice and did not maintain the grid discipline.

As per official data, Uttar Pradesh last month drew 3,762 MU (million units of power) as against its allotted share of 3,011 MU. The per-day overdrawal average was 25 MU. Haryana withdrew 20,648 MU as against its scheduled limit of 1,817 MU. Rajasthan’s actual drawing from the grid was 1,505 MU as against its schedule of 1,407 MU.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: In Karachi: 11 Nurses Drink Tea Laced With Poison During Ramadan

The incident occurred in one of the city’s hospitals, where the victims are now recovering in the intensive care unit. The health care facility has launched an inquiry to find out who laced the tea.

Karachi (AsiaNews) — At least 11 nurses, including three Christians, were poisoned at Civil Hospital Karachi for eating during Ramadan. During their afternoon break yesterday, the 11 nurses went to the hostel cafeteria for some tea and food. Rita, a Catholic nurse, collapsed first after drinking her tea. Now all the nurses are in the hospital’s intensive care unit, some in very serious conditions.

In Pakistan, eating in public during the Muslim month of fasting is illegal. For Muslims, fasting is compulsory. However, hospital workers and travellers are exempt.

Civil Hospital Karachi staff is made up mostly of Muslims who do not tolerate that their non-Muslim colleagues eat during Ramadan.

In the wake of the incident, hospital officials have opened an inquiry to find the culprits.

The Masihi Foundation, a Christian rights organisation, and Life for All have condemned the incident, calling it a “vile act” against religious freedom and tolerance.

Political and religious leaders have also slammed the action. For Sindh Saleem Khokahr, a member of the Provincial Assembly and president of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, “poisoning someone for eating in Ramadan is a barbaric act and must be condemned. There are many Muslims who do not fast during Ramadan. These nurses were poisoned for eating in their cafeteria, not in public.”

“This act reveals that our society lacks tolerance,” said Fr Nasir William, a priest in Karachi diocese. It is scandalous that “nurses who save the lives of the people are fighting for their own lives due to some ignorant person.”

For the clergyman, the authorities should launch an investigation for attempted murder.

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

Pakistani TV Show Converts Non-Muslims

The forced conversion of people to Islam is not a new occurrence in Pakistan, but the recent conversion of a Hindu boy on a live TV program has given the issue a new dimension. To the shock of Pakistani rights activists and progressive people, a 20-year-old Hindu boy, who goes by the name of Sunil, was recently shown being officially converted to Islam on a live TV show aired by the ARY Digital, a private TV channel.

It was a special live transmission marking the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Though the conversion of Hindus and Christians is not a new phenomenon in the Islamic republic, it was the first time it was presented live on TV in Pakistan.

Though Sunil said he was not forced to convert, the issue sparked a renewed debate in Pakistan about conversions, religious privacy, media ethics, and more significantly, the role of religion.

Earlier this year, the forced conversion of Rinkle Kumari and two other Hindu girls from the southern Sindh province also angered Pakistani activists. Rights organizations report widespread legal and cultural discrimination against minorities in Pakistan.

Media critics allege that private TV channels in Pakistan are responsible for promoting intolerance towards non-Muslims through their programming.

Hindus make up 2.5 percent of the 174 million people living in Pakistan. The majority of them, over 90 percent, live in Sindh. Rights organizations say Hindus are feeling increasingly insecure living in the Islamic republic.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistan Refuses to Own Its ‘Heretic’ Scientist

Pakistan remains silent about its only Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam and his contribution to the recent discovery of the ‘God particle’ because the late scientist belonged to the ‘heretic’ Ahmadiyya sect.

Internationally, Professor Abdus Salam is known for his outstanding contribution to Physics and his groundbreaking work that led to the discovery of the so-called God Particle, but in Pakistan, where the late Nobel Laureate was born, Dr. Salam is a heretic, whose name has been removed from all text books.

Salam’s crime was that despite being a genius in the field of science, he was a member of the Ahmadiyya minority. The sect was declared non-Muslims by the Pakistani legislators in the 1973 constitution as part of its Islamization process. Thus, Pakistan disowned its only Nobel laureate.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Seven U.S. Troops Killed in Combat Operations in Afghanistan

Today will be marked as one of the most deadly days, in terms of troop loss announcements, from the Department of Defense since the war began. In four separate releases, it was announced that seven more warriors have lost their lives in combat operations in Afghanistan while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Decision Day for Mosque

PLANS to build a new mosque in Sunderland are expected to be approved tonight. Sunderland City Council officers have recommended that the development control committee gives the go-ahead to convert a transport depot in St Mark’s Road, Millfield, into an Islamic place of worship. The application, which was submitted by the Pakistan Islamic Centre, drew 671 letters of objection. Most were based on two template letters. There was also a petition signed by 1,462 people. The main reasons for objection were given as extra traffic, car parking problems, and noise and disturbance to neighbours.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

China’s Hunger for Energy is Insatiable

China’s energy needs have doubled since 2000. However, the country does not have enough resources of its own and has been shopping around the world.

This week, China’s state-controlled China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) launched the country’s richest foreign takeover bid ever by agreeing to buy the Canadian oil producer Nexen for 15.1 billion US dollars.

If it goes through, the deal would represent a highpoint on China’s shopping tour for energy. China will gain access to large oil and gas depots in western Canada, as well to exploration and production holdings in the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and offshore West Africa. The CNOOC’s energy reserves would increase by a third, making it rise considerably from last place in the international energy firms rankings.

The aim of the bid is to secure China’s future energy needs, Leon Leschus from the Hamburg-based Institute of International Economics (HWWI) told DW. He pointed out that China currently depended on imports to cover its oil needs. “The demand has doubled from 4.5 to nine million barrels per day since 2000. And it is going to grow.”

China comes second after the US, which consumes some 19 million barrels per day. According to BP estimates, China’s needs will double again by 2030.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Korea: As Kim Jong-un Plays in the Park, Uncle Takes the Country

Hamlet takes centre stage in Pyongyang. With North Korea’s young dictator, Kim Jong-un, playing happy husband with wife at the amusement part for the greater joy of photographers, Uncle Jang Song-taek purges the top echelons of the regime to assert his power. However, he is taking big risks because North Koreans will not let a non-Kim rule them.

Seoul (AsiaNews) — Jang Song-taek, North Korea’s eminence grise, is vying for power. Brother-in-law of the late Kim Jong-il (he married the latter’s sister, Kim Kyong-hui) and uncle of Kim Jong-un, the current dictator, Jang is responsible for reforms currently underway in Pyongyang, this according to South Korean and Us intelligence sources.

Last night, North Korea media reported a statement by the regime. “The puppet group (South Korea)… tried to give (the) impression that the present leadership of the DPRK (North Korea) broke with the past. This is the height of ignorance,” a spokesman said. “To expect policy change and reform and opening from the DPRK is nothing but a foolish and silly dream, just like wanting the sun to rise in the west.”

Although such rhetoric corresponds to what we might expect from the world’s last Stalinist regime, it is clear that the power structure in Pyongyang has been changing in the past two months, not the least the behaviour of the supreme leader.

Unlike his father (who spoke publicly twice in 17 years) and grandfather (who was a hardnose ideologue), the new marshal is seen by the population every day, unafraid of walkabouts.

Since he came to power, Kim Jong-un has allowed the opening of a pizzeria and a fast food joint in the capital. He has also inaugurated an amusement park, showed off his bride and allowed live Olympic broadcasting. What’s more, he went along with his uncle’s decision to remove General Ri Yong-ho, Chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army.

The late Kim Jong-il appointed Jang Song-taek in January 2009 as his son’s tutor. Gradually, from this position, Jang has built up a power base, taking advantage of his brother-in-law’s stroke.

“He has removed top military commanders from the old guard,” a source told AsiaNews, and “pushed for economic reform.”

“His nephew is not stupid, but is not well-versed in the regime’s power system. So he needs his uncle as an ally. The alliance might break but appears to be working for now.”

The only danger “is that North Koreans see the Kim family as the only one with the right to rule,” the source noted.

“Kim Il-sung is still much loved and his descendants are seen as legitimate and can do as they please. Jang however must be careful because as soon as his wife dies, he might be purged.”

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

Some 90,000 People Take to Hong Kong Streets to Protest Against Pro-Beijing ‘National Education’

Anti-school reform protest continues in Hong Kong. Parents, students and teachers oppose changes imposed by Beijing that would glorify the party in the schools of the former British crown colony. Hong Kong authorities announce a commission that would monitor the reform.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) — Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Hong Kong yesterday to protest against plans for school reform imposed by the Chinese government, which include textbooks that glorify the Chinese political system as part of a new subject called ‘national education’.

The Catholic Church was the first to oppose the reform in 2002. Card Joseph Zen Ze-kiun led Catholics, followed by other religions, in a battle against the changes, which were nevertheless adopted because of pro-Beijing great electors.

Protesters left Victoria Park and marched until the Admiralty. Organisers said that about 90,000 took part in the event, many of them parents with children, concerned that the changes would amount to pro-mainland brainwashing, as card Zen has warned. Many teachers took part in the event as well.

Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said that the government of the former British crown colony would establish a body with “broad enough representation” to monitor the implementation of the subject.

Parents are particularly upset by some books that praise China’s political model and one-party system as the only that can work.

Hong Kong authorities plan to implement the reform this September on a three-year trial basis. After that, it would become permanent for all primary schools in 2015 and for all high schools in 2016.

Yesterday’s protest was the latest in a series that brought people out into the streets to oppose Beijing’s growing influence in various sectors of Hong Kong life, this despite claims by local and mainland authorities that they are sticking to the ‘one country, two systems’ model.

Protests increased particularly after pro-Beijing Leung Chun-ying took over as the city’s chief executive on 1 July.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

14 Killed in Attacks on Mosques, Police in North Nigeria

(AGI) Abuja -At least 14 people have been killed in attacks on mosques and local police in northern Nigeria in less than 24 hours. Over 10 people were also injured. This morning, a car bomb exploded at the entrance to a police station in the city of Sokoto, the capital of the north-western federal state of the same name, killing two police officers and wounding 8 more officers and a civilian. The two suicide bombers were also killed. The suicide bomber was the only casualty in an almost simultaneous attack carried out near another police station.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Police Stations, AIG’s Office, Powa Bombed in Sokoto — Five Killed

Multiple bombs rocked Sokoto, the capital of the Caliphate, for the first time yesterday, with attacks on the AIG’s office and two police stations. A total of five people; a police corporal, two suspected suicide bombers and a hair dresser died following the attacks. The alleged attackers were said to have struck simultaneously at the office of the AIG, Zone 10, a Police Officers’ Wives Association (POWA) shop, Marina and Unguwar Rogo police stations in Sokoto, which also injured eight policemen and a civilian.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Suicide Bomber, Three Gunmen Killed in Failed Attack on Mosque

Kano — There were heavy explosion and sporadic gunshots last night at Janbulo area, along Bayero University Kano Road, following a failed attempt by a suicide bomber to blow up a mosque while prayers were going on. The attack resulted in the death of the bomber and three gunmen. An eyewitness said the suicide bomber ran past in a vehicle in an attempt to detonate the bomb inside the mosque while the Muslim faithful were praying. A member of the vigilant group providing security in the area suspected the movement of the suicide bomber and alerted the police who countered the plan. According to the source, the incident drew the attention of several people who ran helter-skelter in various directions to avoid the cross fire between the gunmen and the police.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Six More Ugandans Admitted With Possible Ebola

Six more patients suspected to have Ebola have been admitted to the hospital days after investigators confirmed an outbreak of the highly infectious disease in a remote corner of western Uganda, a health official said on Monday.

Stephen Byaruhanga, health secretary of the affected Kibaale district, said possible cases of Ebola, at first concentrated in a single village, are now being reported in more villages.

“It’s no longer just one village. There are many villages affected,” Byaruhanga said.

In a national address Monday, Uganda’s president advised against unnecessary contact among people, saying suspected cases of Ebola should be reported immediately to health officials.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


UK: Abu Qatada Could be Back on Streets During Olympics in Latest Legal Bid

Abu Qatada could be released back on to the streets during the Olympics if he wins his latest legal bid on Tuesday.

Lawyers for the firebrand will attempt to use the ancient legal procedure of habeas corpus at the High Court to argue that his detention while awaiting deportation is unlawful. If they succeed it could mean senior judges ordering the release of the man once dubbed Osama bin Laden’s right hand man in Europe within days. Qatada is currently fighting deportation to Jordan, where he faces terror charges, and was refused bail by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in May. At the time a senior immigration judge said having him on the streets during the Olympics would be “exceptionally problematic” and would put strain on a stretched MI5 and police service. Lawyers for Qatada will argue that his detention is unlawful and will seek permission for a judicial review at the High Court.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Married Migrants Benefits Scandal

IMMIGRANTS with multiple wives could claim higher benefit payments thanks to a loophole in the Govern-ment’s welfare shake-up, it emerged yesterday.

Under current rules, husbands in polygamous marriages are able to apply for income support and other handouts for their extra spouses. Ministers decided to scrap the rules when the new Universal Benefit system comes in next year to end the “absurd” situation where the state effectively recognises polygamy.

But now officials are concerned that multiple wives will claim full single person’s benefits instead, rather than lower-rate payments designed for “couples”.

Some immigrants could see their weekly handouts almost double from £40 to £71 a week.

The emergence of the loophole triggered fresh concerns about why families in some minority religious groups are permitted to indulge in polygamy while bigamy is illegal and punishable by up to seven years in jail.

At present, polygamous families on jobseeker’s allowance could claim £111.45 a week for the initial couple and £40 for each additional wife. Once they are treated as individuals, the wives could claim £71 a week.

Department for Work and Pensions officials say each individual claimant will be subject to the same eligibility tests as anyone claiming benefits.

The drive to stop the benefits system recognising polygamy was spearheaded by Employment Minister Chris Grayling.

Last year, he told the Daily Express: “The fact that our benefit system has recognised polygamous marriages for a number of years has been extremely controversial.

“We’re now making big changes to welfare and we don’t think this situation should continue. I think that our system should be built around the laws and principles of this country.”

Jonathan Isaby, political director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “You cannot enter into a polygamous marriage under British law, so it is entirely wrong that they should ever have been recognised in the UK benefits system…

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Ban Religious Circumcision: Swiss

A new survey has shown that some 64 percent of Swiss think that religious circumcision should be banned.

Of the 8,000 participants who took part in the survey, conducted by news site 20 Minuten Online, over 67 percent of men and 56 percent of women thought that the practice should be banned.

Interestingly, almost a third of circumcised men also spoke in favour of a ban, with 12 percent wishing in hindsight that they had not been circumcised.

Jewish and Muslim respondents, for whom the practice has religious significance, were against a ban. Some 93 percent of Muslim respondents and 75 percent of Jewish respondents said they would not want a ban.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Chick-Fil-a vs Gay Marriage: How a Chicken Restaurant Became a Culture War Battleground

by Tim Stanley

One of the worrying things about modern America is just how politicised daily life has become. The clothes you wear, the church you attend, the things you eat — in the paradigm of the culture war, everything becomes a statement about political values. A guy who drives an electric car, enjoys a nut roast and has a high opinion of the Dalai Lama probably votes Democrat. A fellow who hunts moose and has the Virgin Mary tattooed on his right arm probably votes Republican. Now there’s a strange new test of political identity: where you go to eat fast food.


Liberalism without a profound respect for difference is just fascism by another name.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

How to Create a Monster

Systems education is not about academics—reading, writing and arithmetic—what most parents generally refer to as the 3 R’s; systems education is about process defined as behavior/procedure[1] to be demonstrated in five general areas — teamwork, critical thinking, making decisions, communication, adapting to change and understanding whole systems.[2]

Knowledge—the 3 R’s—is only incorporated as it is used and applied in addressing each of these five general areas as defined and benchmarked by the state exit outcomes, by whatever name called. In Washington State, these exit outcomes were called the EALRs — Essential Academic Learning Requirements. They are what every child shall know and be able to do as a result of his or her educational experience.

The measure of mastery of these exit outcomes is the assessment which determines if the child is demonstrating mastery of the wanted behaviors/procedures. The level of mastery determines the proficiency of the child and whether the child receives the certificate of mastery, by whatever name called.

The Schools for the 21st Century resource document makes it very clear that content—what most parents would define as that which is to be learned—is defined in terms of the quality of the change agenda; process is the end result or destination; and emotionality is the method by which content and process will be achieved.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

School Choice and the Destruction of Traditional Education

Public and private school choice proposals, being promoted by the Obama Administration, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and the neoconservative Trotskyite/corporate conglomerate, if implemented, will spell the end of traditional education in the United States. Tax-supported school choice proposals affecting public, private, religious, and home school education are the vehicle to change not only the right of Americans to choose what kind of education they wish for their children, but may also result in changing our representative form of government to an unelected council form of government due to one form of school choice, charter schools, run by “unelected councils.”

Under the proposed school choice proposals, including Parent Trigger laws, education is being surreptitiously converted from academics to socialist work force training necessary for the United States imminent merging into a global, collectivized economy.


The above-mentioned types of school choice will be tax-supported, with the tax money following your child. Each child, regardless of type of “choice” education, will have an individual education plan (IEP) determined by decisions made by the school/business partnerships (for which kind of workforce training “they” have determined your child’s intelligence/talents are best suited, for their own profit-seeking purposes.) This is the failed communist/socialist job quota system from which millions of foreigners escaped.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Police Out in Force for Pride as Hate Crimes Rise

Stockholm police are out in force this week to ensure that the Stockholm Pride festival passes off without incident at the same time as a recent report indicated that hate crimes are on the rise in Sweden.

The main event of Stockholm Pride week is the Pride Parade which is set to make its way through Stockholm’s streets on Saturday. But along with the some 45,000 revellers anticipated in Stockholm to celebrate the LGBTQ festival, representatives of far right and anti-Muslim groups are expected to stage protests.

Stockholm police have meanwhile confirmed that they are ready for all eventualities. “We will make sure that we have staff who can handle the different scenarios that can arise,” said Lars Byström at Stockholm police to the TT news agency.

A recent report by the Sweden’s National Council on Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet — Brå) based on figures from 2011 indicates that the incidence of hate crime is on the rise in Sweden.

According to the report published at the end of June, the number of police reports of hate crimes increased by 7 percent in 2011 in comparison with 2010, to 5,490.

Some 16 percent of the reports concerned “homophobic, biphobic or heterophobic” crimes.

The vast majority, 72 percent, of reports concerned “xenophobic/racist” crimes. The biggest increase was seen within the category “anti-religious motive”, by 18 percent to 12 percent of the total.

Around one percent of the reports were classified as “transphobic”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Danny Boyle’s New Britain: Conform and Celebrate, Or Risk Being Cast Out of Polite Society

by Brendan O’Neill

Did you enjoy the Olympics opening ceremony? If you didn’t, it’s probably wise to keep it to yourself. After all, you don’t want to end up like Tory MP Aidan Burley, who has been denounced as “reprehensible”, “offensive” and even “incompatible with modern Britain” — wow — for having the temerity to tweet that he thought the ceremony was “leftie multicultural ****”. There is a profound irony at work here. The ceremony celebrated the openness and diversity of modern Britain and has been hailed as a wonderful spectacle of “inclusion”. Yet it seems our celebration of diversity does not extend to allowing any criticism of the ceremony itself; our inclusiveness does not mean we will include dissenting views on Danny Boyle’s vision of the New Britain. When it comes to the opening ceremony, you must conform and celebrate, or risk being cast out (of polite society).

The opening ceremony is speedily morphing into another “Diana moment”, into another instance when everyone is expected to kowtow before a new, unstuffy vision of Britain, and heaven help those who don’t. Following the death of Princess Diana, we were told that we had entered a post-traditional, emotionally-aware New Britain, and yet the expression of certain emotions — such as criticism of the cult of public mourning outside the various royal palaces — were frowned upon and censured. Now, similarly, we’re told that the opening ceremony was a watershed moment in our cultural life, confirmation that we are a post-Empire, totally chilled-out, open-minded nation, yet we’re not so chilled out that we can shrug off criticisms of the ceremony itself. If you opt out of this new vision of Britain, or even worse question it, there will be demands for you to be censured, even sacked. So much for diversity.

What we have in the post-ceremony debate is the enforcement of a new national script, a new national story, one in which everyone must dance around the NHS like it’s a sun god and smile approvingly as the Queen gets thrown out of a helicopter, in order to demonstrate that they are obediently modern and “with it”. And anyone who fails to do this, anyone who, in the words of the Independent, makes “the ill-advised move” of publishing critical thoughts about the ceremony, is branded a dinosaur, a political reprobate, whose discomfort with the ceremony “speaks volumes about their incompatibility with modern Britain”. That is, they don’t really belong here, on these Isles of Wonder, where only those who accept the new vision of an open, diverse, tolerant Britain will be tolerated.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

Twenty years ago my aunt in Keighley used to laugh when I said that I was going to fill up at the garage near the mosque. This was probably because it was such a foreign intrusion in this Yorkshire wool manufacturing town and such laughter often masks mild apprehension. I am sure that nobody is laughing in Keighley today. They are probably in despair at what the politicans and the greedy mill owners have done to their town which is becoming another Pakistani muslim enclave in our country. But of course they are not allowed to say so and they will be encouraged to denounce the EDL as disturbing interracial harmony. As regards the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, we had our islands of wonder. They were beautiful and the people were happy, whistling and singing and joking and helping one another.
We were one big family. That was 60 years ago. Now they are islands of multicultural hell where - and I think I heard correct - 22% of the people are deeply anxious - and the beautiful English landscape will soon be no more, concreted over to build houses for the millions of unwanted peoples from all over the world who have colonised us. And what does Danny Boyle know? He is Irish and probably harbours a deep seated resentment against the English. And I believe he lives in America. Of course he is revelling in the destruction of England and all the English hold dear. The only good thing is that Dublin is about to be home to the biggest mosque in Europe. But then Mr Boyle probably doesn't want to live there either.