Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120808

Financial Crisis
»An Economic Miracle in the Venetian Hinterlands
»France Heading Back Into Recession — Bank
»Greece to Sell State Assets
»Investors Seek Out Safer Shores
»Juncker: Greek Exit Manageable, But It’ll Hurt
»Shell Withdraws Cash From EU
»Curiosity Might Prove We’ve Already Found Life on Mars
»Disarming America
»Future Living: The Healthiest and Happiest US States Revealed
»Liberty Corner Mosque Proposal Challenged at Hearing
»Obama Reelection Insurrection Imminent
»Rewilding Network—Saving Globe Through Big Wilderness: Another UN Agenda 21 Hoax
»Solar Panels: Melting Our Money Away
»Temecula: Islamic Center Groundbreaking Set for September
»Tennessee Mosque Set to Open Friday
»Trailer for Controversial Osama Bin Laden Film ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Released
»Under Attack as Muslims in the U.S.
»Will Your Teen Become a Problem Drinker? The Brain Tells All
Europe and the EU
»Allyson Felix of the United States Wins Gold in 200 Meters
»Belarus Withdraws Embassy Staff From Sweden in Bear Spat
»Corsican ‘Mafia Boss’ Gunned Down
»‘Everybody Thinks Europe is a Christian Continent’
»France: Veiled French Muslim Woman Charged With Inciting Riot
»France: Veiled Woman ‘Incited Riot’ After ID Check
»Gibraltar: Terror Plot Uncovered: Al-Qaeda Planned ‘To Fly Kamikaze Plane Into Brits Watching Olympics on Big Screen in Gibraltar’
»Moomins and Finland Signify Freedom and Simplicity for Many Japanese
»Norway: Scandinavian Ship to Challenge Gaza Blockade
»Norway: Sex Buyer Law Causes Human Trafficking: Study
»Romanian Judges Report Death Threats
»Slovenia: Chinese Taught in Middle, High Schools
»Spain Terror Arrests Put Paragliding in Spotlight
»Stakelbeck: Inside the Muslim Brotherhood in the West
»To Boost Memory, Shut Your Eyes
»UK: Arsonists Set Fire to Sheffield Cab as Driver Prays
»UK: David Cameron: ‘Golden Summer’ For Team GB Thanks to Sir John Major
»UK: Dramatic Moment Police Arrest Boyfriend of Taxi Murder Victim as Relatives Say She ‘Planned to End Relationship With Him’
»UK: Foreigner Lags Cost US £456m
»UK: Muslim Employee ‘Forced to Resign’ After Wearing Headscarf to Work
»UK: Sacked! EDL’s Link Man Removed From Post
North Africa
»Egypt Bombs Targets in Sinai as Border Tensions Escalate
»Egypt Launches Sinai Air Strikes
»Egypt Must Tackle Its Sectarian Problems Head on
»Libya: NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil Stranded Ahead of Handover
»Tunisia: EU, Aid to Give 4 Million Access to Healthcare
Israel and the Palestinians
»An Intifada in Fatah’s Future
»Glasses Look to Keep Israeli Women Out of Sight of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Men
»Islam’s Walls of Language
»What Kind of ‘Support’ Is This?
Middle East
»A Map to the Muslim Middle East
»Turkey: the Shadowy World of the Islamic Gülen Movement
»U-Turn as Iran Admits Its Military Are Among Syria ‘Pilgrim’ Hostages
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Hungarians Hurt by ‘Snide’ Key Dig at Troops
»Sharia in Action: Ramadan Police Target Pakistan’s Cafe Society
»Suicide Attack Kills 3 NATO Troops in Afghanistan
Far East
»China to Export High-Speed Train Parts to Europe
»Flood and Famine Hit North Korea, But First Lady Sports ‘Dior’ Handbag
»South Korea Rejects French Auto Claims: Report
Australia — Pacific
»Down Under, A Furor Over a Jewish Publisher’s Attack on Boat People, Muslims
»North Korea Fires Missive at Australian Paper Mx Over ‘Naughty’ Medal Tally Joke
»Robert Hughes: The Art Critic With a Dash of the Streetfighter
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Gunmen Kill Three in Central Nigeria Mosque Attack
»A Self-Inflicted Injury: Immigration, Infiltration and Canada’s Growing Islamist Threat
»Inventing Pluralist America
Culture Wars
»Gay Totalitarianism
»Extreme Earth Microbes Pave Way for Discovery of Alien Life
»Hunting Moons Outside the Solar System
»Mystery of the ‘Monster Stars’ Solved: It Was a Monster Mash

Financial Crisis

An Economic Miracle in the Venetian Hinterlands

The Italian economy is mired in stagnation and many fear Rome may ultimately require an EU bailout. But the region around Venice continues to do surprisingly well, thanks in large part to several family-owned yet globally active companies. Could the model work for the rest of the country?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France Heading Back Into Recession — Bank

France is headed back into recession for the second time in just over three years, the country’s central bank warned on Wednesday.

The Bank of France predicted a 0.1 percent contraction in gross domestic product (GDP) for the third quarter of this year, an outcome which, if confirmed, would follow a similar fall in output for the three months to June. Economists define a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece to Sell State Assets

Greece is putting up for sale 10 important state assets, reports Ekathimerini. The items include the International Broadcasting Center, the state lottery, the public gas corporation, the gas grid operator, the Elliniko site, the state gambling company, the horse racing organisation and land in Corfu and Rhodes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Investors Seek Out Safer Shores

The pine-accented Manhattan outpost of Norway’s biggest bank, high in a Midtown skyscraper, is an unlikely shelter in a global financial storm.

The bank, DNB, like its home country, has experienced a rush of money from American investors looking for safety while they wait out the debt crisis in Europe and slowing economic growth in America and China. Just about every day, the front desk receptionist at DNB takes cold calls from investors wanting to buy Norway’s bonds or some other asset tied to Scandinavia’s healthy economy.

“A few years ago, these people wouldn’t have known where Norway was on the world map,” said Clifford Queen, a DNB bond trader in New York.

Government bonds issued by the United States, Germany and Japan are still the primary havens for scared investors around the globe. The demand has pushed down the interest rate on the 10-year United States Treasury bond to record lows around 1.5 percent. But investors have begun to worry about holding too many Treasury bonds as other safe alternatives dwindle as a result of the economic troubles sweeping the globe. This has led many investors to places that used to be on the fringes of the investing world like Norway, Sweden, Canada and Australia.

These countries offer little of the risk, or the outsize returns, that were so alluring to investors before the financial crisis. But now that fear is the main motivator — strategists call it seeking a return of equity instead of a return on equity — healthy government finances are a powerful magnet for money.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Juncker: Greek Exit Manageable, But It’ll Hurt

Eurozone finance ministers’ group chief Jean-Claude Juncker told a German broadcaster on Tuesday that a Greek exit from the eurozone would be “manageable” but not “desirable.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Shell Withdraws Cash From EU

The eurozone crisis has prompted Royal Dutch Shell to withdraw some of its cash from European banks, reports The Telegraph. The company’s chief financial officer said Shell wants to reduce its exposure to European credit risk. Some €15 billion may be placed into US bonds and US bank accounts instead.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Curiosity Might Prove We’ve Already Found Life on Mars

GILBERT LEVIN aims to appropriate the Mars Science Laboratory for his own ends. “Since NASA has disdained any interest in MSL looking for life, I’m taking over,” he says. “I claim it.”

He is only half joking. If MSL’s rover Curiosity finds carbon-based molecules in the Martian soil, Levin — who led the “labelled release” experiment on NASA’s 1976 Viking mission — will demand that his refuted discovery of life on Mars is reinstated.

Levin, a former sanitary engineer, will make this call next week at the annual SPIE convention on scientific applications of light sources in San Diego, California. He wants an independent reanalysis of the data.

The experiment mixed Martian soil with a nutrient containing radioactive carbon. The idea was simple: if bacteria were present in the soil, and metabolised the nutrient, they would emit some of the digested molecules as carbon dioxide. The experiment did indeed find that carbon dioxide was released from the soil, and that it contained radioactive carbon atoms.

Levin’s team went out and bought champagne. He even took a congratulatory phone call from Carl Sagan. However, the party was ruined by a sister experiment. Viking’s Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) was looking for carbon-based molecules and found none. NASA chiefs said that life couldn’t exist without these organic molecules, and declared Levin’s result moot. “NASA powers that be concluded that the lack of organics trumped the positive labelled release experiment,” says Robert Hazen, a geophysical scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC.

Since then, some of the GCMS team have admitted that their experiment was not sensitive enough to detect organic molecules even in terrestrial soils known to contain microbes.

That is why Levin wants a reanalysis of his original data if Curiosity finds organic molecules. “I’m very confident that MSL will find the organics and possibly that the cameras will even see something,” he says. Taken with his 36-year-old results, that would constitute a discovery of life on Mars, Levin says.

It’s not a crank claim, says Hazen. “Levin’s experiment showed a surprising and as yet not well explained effect that, at least prior to the Viking mission, the experts said would indicate microbial metabolism. If you can’t explain that through an obvious inorganic process, then it follows that microbial life is a real possibility.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Disarming America

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Those are the words directly from the mouth of Rahm Emmanuel, uttered in 2009 while he was Barack Hussein Obama’s Chief of Staff. Although Emmanuel is gone from the White House, that sentiment, or perhaps more accurately described as a tactic, remains.

It is likely that the shooting at the Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee yesterday, two weeks after the shooting in Aurora, Colorado will trigger an onslaught of calls by elected officials for “reasonable” gun controls. It is also likely that it will facilitate the implementation of other prohibitions as well, including but not limited to criminalizing any form of critical speech of certain religions perceived to be victimized by discrimination. Indeed, both issues have been on the agenda of Barack Hussein Obama and his globalist cohorts since the 1990s.

Preliminary media reports suggest the perpetrator of yesterday’s shooting to be both a U.S. military veteran and a “white supremacist,” designations clearly identified by previous bulletins issued by the Department of Homeland Security as national security threats. Even before the identity of perpetrator had been released, the establishment media was leading with these characterizations.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Future Living: The Healthiest and Happiest US States Revealed

The happiest and healthiest state to live in the future may be Utah, according to a new Gallup poll that finds the Beehive State leads the nation in more than a dozen forward-looking metrics, such as intellectual curiosity, a healthy work environment and low smoking rates.

Rounding out the top five best U.S. states for future living are Minnesota, Colorado, Nebraska and North Dakota. Hawaii, considered the happiest state by 2011 Gallup scorecards, ranks in the top 10.

To assess the future livability of 50 U.S. states, Gallup officials conducted more than 530,000 interviews with U.S. adults from Jan. 2, 2011, through June 30, 2012, and including 13 metrics.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Liberty Corner Mosque Proposal Challenged at Hearing

BERNARDS TWP. — Opening testimony on a proposal to build an Islamic center in Liberty Corner drew sharp questioning Tuesday night from Planning Board members, numerous residents and an attorney hired by objectors. Concerns centered on plans for multiple daily prayers, projected growth and the impact that would have on “a quaint historic village,” as Ali Chaudry, president of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge (ISBR), which hopes to build the project, spent nearly three hours testifying before a crowd of about 60 people.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obama Reelection Insurrection Imminent

Recently, I read Doug Hagmann’s column “The planned re-election of Obama, revolutionary style” in which Doug cited a “deep-throat” DHS source. The following interview is a continuation of that column and it is bone-chilling.

Sher: Doug, in your recent and extraordinary column “The Planned Re-Election of Obama, Revolutionary Style” you wrote about the coming plans of the Obama syndicate to install Martial Law in order to forcefully thwart and attack the American people, in order to maintain their jobs. Your source advises that various false flag attempts could be in the works by Obama’s operatives, including perhaps an event to evoke sympathy for Obama that would also serve to foment racial chaos. Would you give us a little background on how your source believes the Obama syndicate might plan to bring this to fruition, perhaps resulting in suspending elections in November?

Doug: I’ve been in contact with my source since that column was published and we’ve had more discussions about this. In fact, our last contact was after the shooting at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, and I’ve obtained more information about this very issue.


According to my source, it is the very existence of our country and way of life is at stake. Many people who are currently in positions of power, whether elected or appointed, have the same ideological goals of Barack Hussein Obama. Like Obama, they want to transform the country, and will use every tactic possible to do so. They believe that under Obama, they finally have the perfect opportunity to implement the socialism-to-communism agenda in America. They hate, and I mean hate the democratic system of government and loathe capitalism. They are the “red diaper babies” of the 1960’s who have gained power through the very process they seek to destroy.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Rewilding Network—Saving Globe Through Big Wilderness: Another UN Agenda 21 Hoax

Attempts to fathom the United Nation’s “Sustainable Development” program Agenda 21 mean continually peering behind the facade of a thousand “harmless” organizations and programs. This because Agenda 21 is ostensibly socialist dogma seeking creation of world collectivist hegemony on land use, human population size, capitalism and consumption of electricity and water. Since transparent socialism was unable to ever attract a majority in America, these programs must always fly below the radar.

Ironically, Agenda 21 is itself transparently directed towards extreme remedies for the “problem” of mankind. Such ideas as reducing human populations and relocating them near industry, while revoking property ownership rights are the remedies proposed for humanity’s errors. In particular “re-wilding”—or returning huge tracts of land to pristine status while restoring all former animal groups—is one of the most dramatically anti-human ideas ever conceived, defined by one author:

Rewilding is “the scientific argument for restoring big wilderness based on the regulatory roles of large predators,” according to Soul and Reed Noss in their landmark 1998 Wild Earth article “Rewilding and Biodiversity.”

Rewilding is ultimately about property rights. In transferring large tracts of land (aka Big Wilderness) into government hands it thereby cancels any rights of the original owners. This is, in fact, the entire goal of rewilding large, dangerous carnivores—to take away mankind’s property rights to big parcels of land so the elite caste might macro-manage earth according to their dictates. In this way, progressives like eco-terrorist godfather Dave Foreman hope to embargo all constitutional rights and drive mankind into the cold, hopeless servility of the state.


Perhaps the most jaw-dropping part of the rewilding plan involves reintroducing long-gone American animal groups back onto the North American continent. This could happen in several ways. The first would be to reintroduce former indigenous species who once roamed our land—such as elephants and the (wooly) rhinoceros. The second, reminiscent of a sci-fi movie, would be to find DNA materials to recreate extinct animal groups. For example, under this plan, well-preserved extinct animals—such as glacier-bound woolly mammoths, recently disappeared passenger pigeons, or the La Brea Tarpits’ saber toothed cats could be raised as fetuses from scratch.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Solar Panels: Melting Our Money Away

Citing national security and environmental degradation, the federal government has pressured the manufacture of solar panels in the U.S. by enacting tax credits, loan guarantees, and state mandates for utilities to derive a certain percentage of their electricity from green energy even though the green energy is more expensive than traditional energy and the cost would be passed on to the consumer while the taxpayers guarantee the loans.

With all the government involvement in “green” energy, less than 0.1 percent of all electricity produced in the U.S. is generated by solar panels. Stimulus funding and tax incentives have kept the solar industry alive worldwide. When government funding stopped, as it has been the case of four large solar panel manufacturers in Germany and numerous ones in the U.S., those companies declared bankruptcy.

Photovoltaic solar panels can be used on a small or large scale while concentrated solar technologies can only be used for utility-scale electricity generation. This administration declared in the Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future:

“We invented the photovoltaic solar panel, built the first megawatt solar power station, and installed the first megawatt-sized wind turbine. Yet today, China has moved passed us in wind capacity, while Germany leads the world in solar.”

What bureaucrats fail to mention is that the four largest German suppliers have gone bankrupt and twelve American manufacturers involved in solar panel production and/or renewable energy storage have filed for bankruptcy. Amy Payne of Heritage Foundation calls the twelve American manufacturers “the Green Graveyard of Taxpayer-Funded Failures.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Temecula: Islamic Center Groundbreaking Set for September

Construction of the two-story mosque is expected to start in Temecula in September and be finished in 2015

Ground will break for the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley in September, according to the construction committee chairman for the contested Muslim place of worship. An exact date has not been set. Hadi Nael, spokesman for the center approved in December 2010, said the first phase of the $4.2 million project could be completed in 2013. The second and final phase could be done two years later, Nael said. The 24,943-square-foot, two-story mosque on a 4.32-acre site on Nicolas Road will serve as the permanent place of worship for more than 100 local Muslim families who currently gather in a rented space in Murrieta.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tennessee Mosque Set to Open Friday

(CNN) — County officials on Tuesday granted the paperwork needed for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to open — after two years of legal wrangling and anti-Muslim sentiment that included vandalism. “We’re thrilled,” said Saleh Sbenaty, a member of the mosque’s board and planning committee. The first prayer service is set for 1 p.m. (2 p.m. ET), before the close of the holy month of Ramadan, he noted.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Trailer for Controversial Osama Bin Laden Film ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Released

Trailer released for new Osama Bin Laden film ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

The trailer for a controversial new Hollywood film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden was released, offering the first glimpse of the project that was made with high-level cooperation from the Pentagon and the CIA. Zero Dark Thirty, directed by the Oscar-winner Kathyrn Bigelow, is still in production but has already provoked anger among Republicans who accused the White House of giving film-makers access to classified intelligence to boost Barack Obama ahead of November’s presidential election. Mr Obama, whose approval ratings briefly rosed after he announced bin Laden’s death in May last year, will not be depicted in the film. In an attempt to head off accusations that the film was intended as propaganda for Mr Obama’s re-election effort, Sony also decided to push back its release date from October until December, after the election. Mark Boal, who co-wrote the script with Miss Bigelow, denied that the film was intended as sympathetic to Mr Obama. “There’s no political agenda in the film. A lot of people are going to be surprised when they see the film,” he told Entertainment Weekly.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Under Attack as Muslims in the U.S.

by Souad Mekhennet

WASHINGTON — Muslims in Western countries say they have gotten used to the fact that as elections get closer, politicians pump up the volume of accusations against them, whether they are Sunni, Shiite or of another sect. In some European nations, it was the debate over women wearing the veil that set off the attacks. Now in the United States, where pivotal elections are looming, accusations against Muslims have reached a new level. It seems to some that the days of McCarthyism are back.

Representative Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican and a member of the Tea Party movement, claimed in a recent letter that the Muslim Brotherhood had gained influence over the U.S. State Department. She cited Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin as the reason, questioning Ms. Abedin’s loyalty. One of the few Muslims in a prominent government position, Ms. Abedin is a trusted adviser who is known to the public; many have defended her against Mrs. Bachmann’s charge.

This accusation was a disturbing development for four Muslim women who work for the U.S. government and spoke on the condition that they not be identified because they were not authorized to make comments to the media. “It is just to so sad to see,” one of the women said. “There is already a lack of Muslims in government positions, but now this debate just shows no matter how loyal you are, some people will always attack you because you are Muslim.”

It is not the first time that Muslim women involved in politics have been attacked because of their backgrounds. In Tennessee, Samar Ali, a White House fellow, was accused by members of the Tea Party of financing Islamic terrorism. One of the main reasons for this allegation was Ms. Ali’s in-depth knowledge of Islamic banking practices. She was born in the United States. Her father migrated at 17 from Ramallah, in the West Bank, and her mother came from Syria. Ms. Ali was one of the first in her area in Tennessee to speak out against the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Will Your Teen Become a Problem Drinker? The Brain Tells All

Years before teenagers turn to heavy drinking, their developing brains already look different from their sober peers, according to a new study.

Researchers followed a group of teenagers over three years and found that those who developed heavy drinking habits (defined as four to five drinks on one occasion) showed less activity in brain regions used for higher-order decision-making, called working memory, before tasting alcohol.

“This isn’t to say we’re going to throw every kid in a (brain) scanner; that would not be cost effective,” Lindsay Squeglia, lead author who started the work as a doctoral student in the psychiatry department at the University of California, San Diego, said in a telephone interview. However, parents and educators could use deficient working memory as a red flag to prevent possible future heavy alcohol consumption.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Allyson Felix of the United States Wins Gold in 200 Meters

Allyson Felix of the United States won her first individual Olympic gold medal on Wednesday night, surging down the stretch to win the 200 meters in 21.88 seconds at the London Games.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, who won the 100 meters on Saturday, was leading through about 150 meters and settled for second place in 22.09 seconds. Carmelita Jeter of the United States won bronze in 22.14.

[Return to headlines]

Belarus Withdraws Embassy Staff From Sweden in Bear Spat

Belarus says it is pulling its remaining embassy staff from Sweden amid a row over a pro-democracy stunt involving teddy bears. Sweden has been given until the end of the month to withdraw its diplomats from Minsk.

The dispute between Belarus and Sweden over an air drop of teddy bears carrying pro-democracy slogans from a plane chartered by a Swedish public relations firm has escalated.

The Belarusian foreign ministry said on Wednesday that Minsk was bringing home its remaining staff from its embassy in Stockholm because Sweden had expelled two more diplomats and had refused to allow a new Belarusian ambassador to take up his post.

In a statement, the ministry said: “In this connection, the Belarusian side has been forced to take the decision to withdraw its embassy in Sweden and bring back all its (embassy) staff to Belarus.”

“At the same time… the Swedish side is asked to withdraw its embassy from the Republic of Belarus before Aug. 30,” the statement said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Corsican ‘Mafia Boss’ Gunned Down

An alleged key figure in one of Corsica’s most powerful crime families, Maurice Costa of the “Brise de Mer” gang, was gunned down in broad daylight Tuesday at his local butcher shop, police said.

Two masked gunmen shot and killed Costa, 60, at 11:08 am (0908 GMT) through the window of the butcher shop in the village of Ponte-Leccia in the north of the French island, police said.

Police said a single hunting rifle was fired at least twice and that Costa died on the spot after being struck in the chest. The gunmen fled in a car that was later found burned a few kilometres (miles) from the village.

A bystander in the shop was also lightly injured by broken glass, police said.

Costa is the 11th presumed member of the “Brise de Mer” (Sea Breeze) gang killed since 2008 in what local police believe is a settling of accounts between criminal gangs.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Everybody Thinks Europe is a Christian Continent’

EU institutions do not do God. But for some religious leaders in EU-aspirant countries, member states’ Christian origins are still politicaly important.

The morning call to prayer at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul means different things to different people.

For Muslims, it is an invitation to muster spiritual energy for the working day. For some Western visitors it is a sign that they are on the edge of an exotic world.

Given regular news about Islamic extremism — Spain this week charged two al-Qaeda suspects, Denmark in June charged four Muslims for plotting to murder a cartoonist who made fun of Mohammed — it is a world that many see as hostile to the West.

The voice among the Blue Mosque minarets often belongs to Metin Balci.

When EUobserver spoke to the muezzin and imam at the famous site in a recent interview, he said what some Turkish diplomats privately believe: EU opposition to Turkish membership is based, in part, on Islamophobia.

“What we hear and what they are telling us is that they are not a Christian club. But if you look at their approach to us, then we see and we feel that it is such a club,” Balci said.

The imam’s view of EU-Turkish relations is of two competing civilisations trying to come together.

He noted that Islamic societies in medieval times led Europe in terms of science, women’s rights and even “personal hygiene.”

“The West has the power now. But the history of the world is not 100 years. It is a longer span. Things change … I believe that Islam in the future can take the lead once again,” he said.

He added that EU countries, which lecture Turkey about values, have no moral superiority because colonialists in modern times pillaged Africa and the Middle East.

Quoting South Africa’s bishop Desmond Tutu, he said: “When missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”

Balci’s idea of a “Christian club” is anathema to EU policy.

Despite Vatican lobbying, the EU Treaty does not mention the word “Christian” on any of its 403 pages.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Veiled French Muslim Woman Charged With Inciting Riot

A French Muslim woman has been charged with assault and inciting a riot in Lille after she refused a police identification check while wearing a banned full- face veil, a police source reported.

When police tried to take her to the station, she allegedly grabbed hold of a vehicle and started kicking, punching and screaming, the source added. She allegedly tried to bite police and scratched one of them before being taken into custody. None of the officers were hurt. The 18-year-old will appear in the court charged with assault, insulting police and inciting a riot for refusing to provide identification. In a similar incident on July 24, three officers in the southern city of Marseille sustained minor injuries after they stopped a fully veiled woman near a mosque. The woman, two men and a minor are due in court over the alleged assault.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Veiled Woman ‘Incited Riot’ After ID Check

A French Muslim woman has been charged with assault and inciting a riot after she refused a police ID check because she was wearing a banned full-face veil, a police source said Tuesday.

The 18-year-old is to appear in court in the northern city of Lille on October 30 charged with assault, insulting police and inciting a riot after police tried to take her to a station for refusing to provide identification. A French law passed in 2011, the first of its kind to be enforced in Europe, banned the wearing of the full-face-covering Islamic veil.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Gibraltar: Terror Plot Uncovered: Al-Qaeda Planned ‘To Fly Kamikaze Plane Into Brits Watching Olympics on Big Screen in Gibraltar’

The terrorists apparently wanted to follow up the ruthless attack with a Mumbai-style machine rampage on foot

A crazed al-Qaeda plot to kill dozens of British holidaymakers and military personnel in Gibraltar has been uncovered by MI6. Terrorists were allegedly planning to crash a light aircraft packed with explosives into families watching the Olympics on an outdoor screen and in bars. They apparently wanted to follow up the ruthless attack with a Mumbai-style machine-gun rampage on foot. Two Chechen Russians and a Turkish man were swooped on last week and were yesterday being quizzed by a Spanish judge over the allegations.

The al-Qaeda cell’s horrific plans were thwarted after British spies teamed up with their counterparts in Madrid. A source said last night: “The significance of these arrests is enormous because these men had to be taken out of circulation. Unfortunately the authorities have learned there are probably more gunmen at large as the plan is thought to have involved a follow-up gun attack on foot. Thankfully, because of the mutually beneficial liaison between British intelligence and their Spanish counterparts, it seems a plan to kill many Brits has been stopped.”

Hardcore al-Qaeda operatives are thought to have started pulling together a squad of fanatics late last year after deciding the London Games would be too well guarded.

The deranged gang is believed to have been inspired to plot an attack in the aftermath of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 and debated a number of possible ways to kill Britons outside the UK. They settled on an assault on a soft target of UK citizens and their families based in Gibraltar while they were watching the Games out in the open.

Two Chechens, Eldar Magomedov and Mohamed Ankari Adamov, were seized in Ciudad Real, 125 miles south of Madrid, as they tried to take a bus to France last week. The pair are suspected jihadists who have been trained in Pakistan and Afghan al-Qaeda camps. Magomedov is thought to have trained in the Soviet Union special forces and put up a violent struggle when seized. A third suspect, a Turkish man called Cengiz Yalcin, was arrested last week in a flat in La Linea de la Conception, a Spanish town bordering Gibraltar.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Moomins and Finland Signify Freedom and Simplicity for Many Japanese

Tourists from Japan flock to Moominworld theme park in Naantali

Moominpappa is soft and naturally white, standing in the front yard of his home taking hugs from passers-by at the Moominworld theme park in Naantali. Queueing up for the hugs are Western children and Japanese adults. The eyes of both groups shine as they approach the bulging stomach with their arms extended. They pet the soft belly, sink their noses into the white snout, and then shake hands with the character. Natsumi Oku, 31, slips Moominpappa a kiss. Azusa Tomimoto, 31, and Naolo Kitahara, 26, take pictures and shout excitedly “Kawaii! Kawaii!”

The word means “cute”, and it is the reason why more than 5,000 Japanese visit Moominworld each year. The Moomins are just so kawaii that this month many of the tourists are devoting a few days of their European holiday to Finland and Moominworld. “The Moomins bring us back to our childhood, when we watched them on television. They are truly popular in Japan. Moomin merchandise is sold everywhere”, Kitahara says. “The Moomins are cute, endearing, and they ease a heavy heart. When people come to Finland they have to see Marimekko and the Moomins.”

Part of the culture of cuteness is that in Japan, even adults are enthusiastic about cartoon characters. They are used in advertising for cars, meat, cosmetics, air travel, and banking services. Adults will give their friends Hello Kitty goods as gifts, and Japanese women’s magazines advertise Minnie Mouse office supplies. Cute merchandise is useful in expressing individual personality in a country of school uniforms and little variation in work clothing, says Minna Eväsoja, an expert in Japanese aesthetics. Cuteness indicates that a person is harmless, easy to approach, and charming.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Scandinavian Ship to Challenge Gaza Blockade

Sailing ship Estelle Tuesday left Oslo harbour bound for Gaza. Stopping on the way at ports in the Baltic Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean, Scandinavian activists onboard want to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza and draw international attention to the conflict, as with the 2010 “Freedom Flotilla.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Sex Buyer Law Causes Human Trafficking: Study

The 2009 law criminalizing the purchase of sexual services in Norway has led to prostitutes being more dependent on pimps and encourages human trafficking, according to a new research study.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Romanian Judges Report Death Threats

The European Commission has expressed concerns that threats made against judges in Romania’s constitutional court could undermine its independence.

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding reassured Augustin Zegrean, the president of the court, that all political parties and government authorities are required to respect the independence of the judiciary.

“Let me recall that politicians must not try to intimidate judges ahead of decisions to be taken, nor attack judges when they take decisions they do not like,” said Reding in a letter addressed to Zegrean on Tuesday (7 August).

Zegrean had told Reding in a previous letter on 3 August that a judge had complained about receiving death threats, targeting both the judge and the judge’s family.

The court is to decide by 31 August whether a referendum, called by Prime Minister Victor Ponta, on ousting President Traian Basescu, was valid or not.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Slovenia: Chinese Taught in Middle, High Schools

(ANSAMed) — LJUBLJANA, AUGUST 8 — Come September, Slovenia’s middle and high school students will have the option of taking Chinese, Dnevnik newspaper wrote on Wednesday.

If the course proves popular, Slovenia’s public education ministry may introduce Chinese alongside English, French, Italian and German as a compulsory subject for high school students who decide to specialize in foreign languages.

The public education ministry is employing 150 Slovenian Sinologists and collaborators from Ljubljana’s Confucius Institute, which has been registering increasing numbers of students in recent years, Dnevnik wrote.

Approximately 1.5 billion people speak Chinese as a mother tongue, and another 40 million study it worldwide.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain Terror Arrests Put Paragliding in Spotlight

The history of terror plots is filled with unusual schemes, from an underwear bomber to model planes filled with explosives — showing how would-be attackers are constantly hatching ideas to catch authorities by surprise. Now questions are being raised about whether two Russians held on terror charges in Spain were planning to launch airborne attacks on paragliders.

The two Russians took paragliding lessons this year in a southern Spanish region renowned for the sport, authorities said over the weekend. A Turkish engineer also under arrest paid for the lessons.

Spain’s Interior Ministry declined comment on whether investigators believe Eldar Magomedov and Mohamed Ankari Adamov were using the paragliding lessons to train for an attack. But analysts said the allegation in court paperwork that they took the lessons is almost certainly a key line of investigation.

“It would be surprising if it is not significant in the investigation given the fact that it is mentioned, and secondly because both of them are doing it,” said Magnus Ranstorp, a terror expert at the Swedish National Defence College. “Terrorism is a full-time occupation, you don’t pursue hobbies on the side. It’s such an unusual activity as well that it merits significant consideration.”

Paragliding pilots said in interviews that the Russians probably wouldn’t have raised red flags at paragliding schools because it’s easy to sign up for lessons.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: Inside the Muslim Brotherhood in the West

I recently spent a week in Europe investigating the Muslim Brotherhood movement in the West to gain more information on how this secretive organization—which is growing in power— operates..

During my trip I interviewed two of the Brotherhood’s top representatives in Europe and also visited Brotherhood-connected mosques.

In the process, I discovered how the Muslim Brotherhood arrived here. Believe it or not, it all began at a mosque on a quiet Bavarian street in Munich.

See those interviews and much more—including concrete examples of the Brotherhood’s double game—by watching my latest CBN report: filed on location from London, Brussels and Munich.

Click the link above to watch.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

To Boost Memory, Shut Your Eyes

Forget brain-training exercises, 12-hour shifts and those long, uninterrupted, caffeine-fueled study binges. When you really need new information to sink in, you can’t skimp on taking breaks, new research suggests.

That’s the message from a study by psychologists and neuroscientists at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, who asked a small group of normally aging elderly men and women to recall as many details as possible from two stories they were told.

Following one of the stories (but not always the same one for all the participants), the men and women were instructed to relax, take a brief break and close their eyes for 10 minutes in a dark room. Following the other story, those same participants were instead distracted with a new task, spotting the differences between pairs of nearly identical images.

Overall, the study participants remembered many more details of whichever story they heard before they were told to rest — and their striking memory boost persisted even a full week out after the story-telling.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Arsonists Set Fire to Sheffield Cab as Driver Prays

A SHEFFIELD cabbie has been left unable to work after his vehicle was set on fire while he was praying at his local mosque. Mohammed Joydu Miah, aged 40, of Nidd Road East, Darnall, was at morning prayers at the Aaliya Mosque, on Staniforth Road, when his cab went up in flames.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: David Cameron: ‘Golden Summer’ For Team GB Thanks to Sir John Major

Britain is having a “golden summer” in the Olympic Games thanks to Sir John Major’s efforts to boost sport funding, David Cameron said last night.

The Prime Minister said the UK must “get serious” about putting money into sport by building on the legacy of former leader Sir John, who created the National Lottery. He spoke as Britain won four more gold medals, surpassing its tally from Beijing four years ago and making it the nation’s best Olympics for more than a century. Speaking outside Downing Street, Mr Cameron said hosting the Games in London had shown the world “the best face of Britain”.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Dramatic Moment Police Arrest Boyfriend of Taxi Murder Victim as Relatives Say She ‘Planned to End Relationship With Him’

This is the dramatic moment a murder suspect was arrested in connection with the horrific stabbing of his partner, a mother-of-three, in the back of a taxi.

The man, named locally as Junior Saleem Oakes, was arrested in the garden of a house just 100 yards away from the scene of the attack in Birmingham after a day-long hunt by armed officers.

The picture emerged as distraught relatives of the victim, named as Natasha Trevis, claimed she had planned to end her five-year-relationship with Oakes the day she died.

Police said the 22-year-old woman leaves behind three young children. A post-mortem examination showed she died from multiple stab wounds.

Her aunt, Dawn Jarvis, 35, said: ‘I saw Tasha in the pub a few days ago and she said the relationship had broken down.

‘Tasha was such a lovely, bubbly girl. I think Junior’s birthday was on Monday, and Tasha had gone round to take him a present and a card.

‘We are all just devastated, and can’t understand how this could have happened to our beautiful girl.’

Paramedics fought for 30 minutes to save her after she was stabbed multiple times, but she died at the scene.

Her cousin Chris Heath said she had been in a relationship with Oakes for five years.

He said: ‘She was a caring person, a caring mum, she loved her kids and she wanted to have a perfect family with this guy.

‘Words cannot say how much we are going to miss Tasha, she loved life and liked to have a lot of fun.’

Her close family and friends were at the scene today laying floral tributes.

One card read: ‘Rest in Peace mummy you’ll be sadly missed and never forgotten.’

Another read: ‘To my sweatheart Tasha you are my world, darling love your mum.’

Police said they had been given extra time to question Oakes, 28, after he was taken into custody in the Northfield area of the city at around 6pm yesterday.

It is alleged she was stabbed repeatedly in the back of a light-coloured Peugeot taxi in Dimsdale Road, near the junction with Hoggs Lane, at around 8am yesterday.

Yesterday, Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Jones described the police investigation as ‘complex and dynamic’ and appealed for witnesses to come forward.

A force spokesman said a post-mortem examination is expected, adding that specially trained officers were supporting the woman’s relatives.

Matthew Connelly, a neighbour who saw the incident from his window, said medics spent 30 minutes trying to save the woman.

The suspect, who is also known as Mohammed Saleem (Salim) Junior Oakes, was found in the garden of a house on Allens Farm Road, streets away from the scene.

Fifty police, including armed officers, were involved in the manhunt after the alleged attacker fled the scene as the horrified taxi driver dialled 999.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Foreigner Lags Cost US £456m

MORE than 11,000 foreigners are locked up in British jails, costing taxpayers £456million a year.

Official statistics show about one in eight prisoners is not from the UK. Of the 87,531 lags behind bars in March, 11,127 were foreigners. But the figure is probably even higher as another 1,929 are classified as “nationality not recorded” — so some may be from other nations. The Ministry of Justice estimates it costs £41,000 a year to keep a prisoner, which means a bill for foreigners of at least £456.2million. Jamaica tops the list with 902 inmates in our jails, followed by Poland with 780 and Ireland on 732.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Employee ‘Forced to Resign’ After Wearing Headscarf to Work

Ms Farrah brought a claim for unfair dismissal and direct religious discrimination against her former employer, Global Luggage Co, after the company moved her to a different store to maintain its “trendy” image and later forced her to resign. Originally, Farrah worked in both the Oxford Street and Piccadilly branches of Global Luggage Co on alternate days each weekend. However, the day after Farrah wore a headscarf to work one of the directors immediately moved her to the Oxford Street store and changed her rota so that she no longer worked at the Piccadilly store. When Farrah challenged one of the directors as to whether the reason for this move was because she had worn a headscarf, she was told that the company was “trying to maintain an image at Piccadilly” and that it was “trying to be trendy”.

A couple of months later, Farrah was forced to resign after she took an extended lunch break. However, the tribunal ruled that the company had “seized on the claimant’s admitted misconduct as a pretext for dismissing her” and that the real reason for her forced resignation was that she had worn a headscarf to work. Farrah won her claim for unfair dismissal but lost her claim for direct religious discrimination. However, the judge said that, had she brought a claim for indirect discrimination, the tribunal would have “in all likelihood” ruled in her favour.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Sacked! EDL’s Link Man Removed From Post

Christopher Knowles, once linked to the EDL’s founding father Alan Ayling (aka Alan Lake) has been sacked from his post with Leeds city council’s children’s service department.

Knowles was one of the original rising stars in the British “anti-Jihadist” scene and travelled and spoke at a number of gatherings representing the British arm of the movement, including a rally in support of Dutch MP Geert Wilders in Berlin in 2010 before also appearing at the EDL’s disastrous rally in Amsterdam a few months later and in the company of future British Freedom Party chief Paul Weston.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt Bombs Targets in Sinai as Border Tensions Escalate

The Egyptian military has launched airstrikes against targets in the Sinai Peninsula near the Israeli border. The airstrikes come after fresh overnight attacks on at least one Egyptian security checkpoint.

Egyptian warplanes bombed targets in the Sinai town of Sheikh Zuwaid on Wednesday, killing at least 20 suspected Islamist militants in retaliation for a series of deadly attacks on security checkpoints near the Israeli border.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Egypt Launches Sinai Air Strikes

by Harriet Sherwood

Military officials say helicopters fired missiles and killed 20 ‘terrorists’ after latest attacks on security checkpoints

Egyptian military attack helicopters have fired missiles on suspected Islamic militants in Sinai after attacks on security checkpoints, according to residents and officials. An army source said 20 “terrorists” had been killed in the assault. Security officials say it is the first time the army has fired missiles in Sinai since the 1973 war with Israel to recapture the Sinai Peninsula. Egyptian forces launched the missile attack a few hours after three security checkpoints were attacked by suspected Islamic militants in North Sinai’s main city of el-Arish, about 30 miles from the Gaza-Israel border.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt Must Tackle Its Sectarian Problems Head on

by Magdi Abdelhadi

To prevent further attacks on Christians, Egypt’s Islamist leaders need to defend the separation of politics and religion

Egypt has a chronic sectarian problem, and the main obstacle to addressing it is official and popular denial that it has one. Following each sectarian conflagration the government in Cairo issues its customary denials and denunciations and sends a delegation of officials and elders to reconcile the Muslim and Coptic sides. It’s a well-known routine that has with time become increasingly absurd and out of touch with reality. The problem has been known for some time and acknowledged by all sensible people in Egypt, but apart from the rhetoric, no concrete steps have been taken to defuse it. Egypt should apply the law to everyone and stop treating sectarian violence as a minor fight between brothers that is best kept within the family.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Libya: NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil Stranded Ahead of Handover

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the chairman of Libya’s National Transitional Council, has been left stranded in his hometown, just 24 hours from the opening of his country’s National Congress.

Mr Jalil told the Libya Herald that he had been trying to get a plane from Labraq airport, which serves his hometown of Bayda, for two days, but was unable to following a mass diversion of flights to Saudi Arabia taking pilgrims to perform Umrah in Mecca during Ramadan. Mr Jalil must be back in the capital Tripoli by Wednesday at the latest for the ceremony which will see the NTC formally hand power to the Congress.


[JP note: Mustafa Plane.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: EU, Aid to Give 4 Million Access to Healthcare

Project in 13 poor regions in East and South

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, AUGUST 6 — The European Commission has given the green light to a new cooperation project helping 4 million people access healthcare in Tunisia. The initiative, which will be funded with 12 million euros, will be sponsored in the 13 regions with the worst healthcare in the East and South, where 40 percent of the country’s population live.

The project aims to provide easier access to basic treatment, improve the quality of services and condition of health facilities.

Medical equipment will be bought within the programme along with new ambulances. The project also aims to increase the number and quality of specialised visits and exams provided.

Particular attention will be devoted, among other things, to the deployment of ambulances in isolated areas and to the training of doctors and paramedics.

Healthcare is a priority in the cooperation between European Union and Tunisia, and a key issue in the democratic transition of the North African country in order to boost development and aid its poorest citizens.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

An Intifada in Fatah’s Future

by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Could we soon begin to see the end of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a coherent Palestinian national movement? There is much evidence that appears to point in that direction. To begin with, it is apparent that there is a deep contradiction in the stance of Fatah and the PA. As Avi Issacharoff notes, they feel a need to glorify terrorists such as Dalal Mughrabi, who was one of the perpetrators of a massacre in 1978 that killed 37 Israelis. At the same time, the security forces maintained by the Fatah-led PA continue their successful and close working relationship with the IDF, begun in the summer of 2007, to prevent the same sort of militant operations that have been idealized in Palestinian media and culture in the West Bank as much as in Gaza.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Glasses Look to Keep Israeli Women Out of Sight of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Men

JERUSALEM — It’s the latest prescription for extreme ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who shun contact with the opposite sex: Glasses that blur their vision, so they don’t have to see women they consider to be immodestly dressed.

In an effort to maintain their strictly devout lifestyle, the ultra-Orthodox have separated the sexes on buses, sidewalks and other public spaces in their neighborhoods. Their interpretation of Jewish law forbids contact between men and women who are not married.

Walls in their neighborhoods feature signs exhorting women to wear closed-necked, long-sleeved blouses and long skirts. Extremists have accosted women they consider to have flouted the code.

Now they’re trying to keep them out of clear sight altogether.

The ultra-Orthodox community’s unofficial “modesty patrols” are selling glasses with special blur-inducing stickers on their lenses. The glasses provide clear vision for up to a few meters so as not to impede movement, but anything beyond that gets blurry — including women. It’s not known how many have been sold.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Islam’s Walls of Language

by William Pfaff

The cultural comparisons by which Mitt Romney distinguished himself when recently in Israel, flattering as they were to his Israeli audience and insulting to Palestinians, resulted mostly in global comment on Mr. Romney’s own cultural and intellectual limitations. They nonetheless introduced a subject few other American politicians know anything about, nor do, it seems, the staffs of NSA, CIA and other American political and military planners.

One cultural problem is Muslim theocracy, a fundamental element in Islam. The Quran’s authority over all of society has been a barrier to political and social progress. Even after Islam had become a great empire in the days of the Umayyad, Abbasid and Ottoman caliphates, it still functioned in the fashion of the monarchies of antiquity, which is to say that government was effectively the household of the caliph, subject to the norms of the Quran.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

What Kind of ‘Support’ Is This?

by Melanie Phillips

Much anguish has been expended over Jews who detest Israel so virulently they are in the forefront of the delegitimisation campaign. Such people were devastatingly satirised by Howard Jacobson as “as a Jew” Jews, who parade their identity solely to demonise Israel. There is, however, another group which is having a devastating impact on the cause of bringing truth and reason to bear on the Arab war against Israel. These are the “as an Israel supporter” Jews, who are creating even more confusion and damage.


You hear such talk round the dinner tables of north-west London or in the pews of certain synagogues. It’s behind the recent controversies over statements by certain individuals in leadership positions in the community. So just what is the Israel they support? A fantasy land where the Palestinians yearn only to live peacefully alongside the Jews, where no-one wants to rule over anyone else, where Islam is a religion of purest peace, where the Charedim are jailed en masse, where Jews never have to get their hands dirty and where there is no prejudice or extremism of any kind. And if only it wasn’t for Bibi, that’s what we could have. Has there ever been another people in the history of this planet who are capable of quite such self-destructive stupidity?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

A Map to the Muslim Middle East

The Muslim Middle East has three types of governments. Military, Tribal and Ideological. A military government is formed when senior officers take power. A tribal government is based around a group of prominent families. An ideological government is based around a party, whether secular or Islamist. All these governments are tyrannies, though they may occasionally hold elections, they never open up the system. The elections serve as a means for passing from one tyranny to the next.

While these types of governments are different in some ways, they are not exclusive. Most overlap in a number of ways.

Military and ideological governments will become tribal as a few officers, leaders or Ayatollahs use their control of the economy to enrich themselves and their families. That is what happened in Egypt and in Iran. The Muslim Brotherhood differs from Mubarak in any number of political ways, but on a personal level, its leaders share his goal of enriching their families.

Whether a new government starts out as Islamist, Fascist or Socialist; these facades inevitably revert to the tribal. That is the fate of all governments in the Muslim Middle East, which do not evolve, but devolve.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Turkey: the Shadowy World of the Islamic Gülen Movement

Millions of Muslims around the world idolize Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen, who likes to present himself as the Gandhi of Islam. His Gülen movement runs schools in 140 countries and promotes interfaith dialogue. But former members describe it as a sect, and some believe the secretive organization is conspiring to expand its power in Turkey.

People who have broken ties to Gülen and are familiar with the inner workings of this community tell a different story. They characterize the movement as an ultraconservative secret society, a sect not unlike the Church of Scientology. And they describe a world that has nothing to do with the pleasant images from the cultural Olympics.

These critics say that the religious community (known as the “cemaat” in Turkish) educates its future leaders throughout the world in so-called “houses of light,” a mixture of a shared student residence and a Koran school. They describe Gülen as their guru, an ideologue who tolerates no dissent, and who is only interested in power and influence, not understanding and tolerance. They say that he dreams of a new age in which Islam will dominate the West.

Some experts reach similar conclusions. Dutch sociologist Martin van Bruinessen sees parallels between the Gülen movement and the Catholic secret society Opus Dei. American historian and Middle East expert Michael Rubin likens the Turkish preacher to Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini. According to a diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks in 2010, US diplomats consider the Gülen movement to be “Turkey’s most powerful Islamist grouping.” The Gülen movement, the cable continues, “controls major business, trade, and publishing activities (and) has deeply penetrated the political scene.”

Only very few former members are prepared to talk about their time in the movement, and those who do insist on not being identified by name. They are afraid of Gülen and his people, afraid for their jobs, their health and their families.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

U-Turn as Iran Admits Its Military Are Among Syria ‘Pilgrim’ Hostages

“Retired” members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and army are among 48 Iranians taken hostage in Syria by rebels, Tehran has admitted.

In an embarrassing u-turn for Iran, which has always insisted that the hostages are pilgrims, Ali Akbar Salehi, the Iranian Foreign Minister, was forced to admit that military personnel are among them. “A number of the (hostages) are retired members of the Guards and the army. Some others were from other ministries,” he said on Weds. But Mr Salehi stressed that the former military personnel were exclusively on a religious pilgrimage to Damascus when they were seized on Saturday.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Hungarians Hurt by ‘Snide’ Key Dig at Troops

The highest-ranking Hungarian representative in New Zealand has described Prime Minister John Key’s remarks about the effectiveness of Hungarian troops in Afghanistan as “snide” and “unhelpful”. Mr Key said the New Zealand Defence Force’s plan to extend its patrols beyond the borders of Bamiyan Province was partly to fill a gap left by Hungarian troops.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sharia in Action: Ramadan Police Target Pakistan’s Cafe Society

Islamabad: With its wooden floors, leather sofas and customers peering at their Apple laptops as they sip their coffees, Mocca Cafe is not the den of iniquity that might normally attract a police raid.

But Islamabad’s police have suddenly found cause to turn their attention to the capital’s poshest eateries in an effort to enforce a patchily applied, decades-old law forbidding people from eating or drinking in public during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Customers and proprietors were shocked on Saturday when, nearly halfway through the holy month, Mocca and at least two other popular eating spots in the well-heeled Kohsar market were visited by police officers cracking down on the illicit consumption of muffins and brownies.

Members of what pass for Islamabad’s cafe society said they could not remember anything like it. The manager of Gloria Jeans, a nearby restaurant, said he had never even read the Ramadan law until the police arrived. He has now placed a sign in the restaurant saying it is only “open to the communities not observing the fast of Ramadan”.

A message circulated on an expatriate email list by a customer who had been in the Gloria Jeans coffee shop at the time reported a “large commotion”.

“There was a lot of hostility in the air because foreigners were being served while others (Pakistanis) were being told to leave,” the email said, before going on to advise expats to give restaurants a wide berth until the end of Ramadan.

“Personally, I wouldn’t take the chance after the anger I felt while in the coffee shop.”

The raids, which police say were prompted by a complaint from a member of the public, followed last month’s police assault of a journalist who had the temerity to consume a soft drink in his car at a secluded hilltop beauty spot overlooking Islamabad.

He said he was beaten with belts by the officers, who threatened to charge him under the Ramadan Ordinance, a law passed in 1981 by General Zia-ul-Haq, the then military ruler who did much to make Pakistani society more Islamic.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Suicide Attack Kills 3 NATO Troops in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bombing struck a NATO patrol in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing three coalition troops, the international military force said.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the assault in Kunar province. The attack emphasized the insurgency’s continued ability to wreak violence despite fierce efforts by the Afghan government and international forces to wipe out the militants’ leadership.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

China to Export High-Speed Train Parts to Europe

(BEIJING) — A Chinese train maker said Wednesday it will sell components to German engineering giant Siemens, in what will be the first time Chinese high-speed train parts have been exported to Europe.

The deal, reportedly worth more than 11 million euros ($13.6 million), will see parts including some aluminium-alloy car bodies shipped to Europe, said an official with the state-owned China CNR Corporation Limited.

He said it marks the first time that such Chinese train parts will be exported to the continent.

“(Siemens) will place more orders as long as the first order passes their checks,” said the official, who declined to be named. “They are likely to make China a regular supplier of such parts.”

China has built the world’s largest high-speed rail system from scratch in less than a decade, but the railway ministry has been accused of overlooking safety in its rush to develop the country’s vast transport network.

The Beijing News reported Wednesday that, according to an agreement signed in April, a subsidiary of the Chinese company was to produce high-speed train parts worth 11.55 million euros for Siemens this year.

Officials at Siemens in Beijing were not immediately available for comment when contacted by AFP Wednesday.

The train car bodies are “one of the nine key technologies” in the manufacturing of high-speed trains as there are strict requirements for the welding of aluminium alloy to achieve precise sizes, said the CNR official.

The reputation of China’s high-speed trains was tarnished after a bullet train collision in July last year near the eastern city of Wenzhou killed at least 40 people and injured hundreds.

In the weeks following the accident, authorities announced a halt to new train projects and introduced new speed restrictions on bullet train lines.

An accident report released late last year blamed design flaws and poor management for the crash, which sparked public fury and worries over the safety of the nation’s rail system.

The government said previously that more than 50 people would be punished for the disaster.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Flood and Famine Hit North Korea, But First Lady Sports ‘Dior’ Handbag

North Korea’s young first lady has been pictured sporting an expensive Christian Dior handbag in stark contrast to the widespread shortages elsewhere in the impoverished nation.

Ri Sol-Ju, the wife of leader Kim Jong-Un, was pictured accompanying him on a “field guidance trip” to an army unit.

Ri is wearing a white dress with black top and next to her is a small handbag, with the luxury brand’s “D” metal tag.

The clutch bag is popular accessory on the fashion house’s luxury range and is made from “richly quilted lambskin, finished with the signature Dior charm logo in silvertone”.

The bag is on sale in Seoul, South Korea’s capital for 1.8 million won (£1,022), a cost that is equivalent to the average annual income in North Korea.

Photographs, carried by state television and the official news agency, show the couple applauding while seated together watching outdoor art performances by soldiers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Korea Rejects French Auto Claims: Report

(SEOUL) — South Korea on Wednesday dismissed as “groundless” claims by France that its auto market had been flooded by imports of South Korean vehicles, the Yonhap news agency reported.

France last week formally asked the European Commission to begin monitoring car imports from South Korea in the first step towards a possible re-introduction of tariffs.

The request was made under the terms of an EU-South Korea free trade agreement which allows for safeguard measures to be implemented in response to a sudden spike in imports in certain “sensitive” sectors.

French officials say there was a 50 percent increase in South Korean auto imports in January and February.

However, a South Korean government official hit back on Wednesday.

“We analysed auto trade with the EU, and concluded that their claims are groundless,” Yonhap quoted the unnamed official as saying.

“It is true that auto exports to France surged in the first two months of the year, but sales growth decelerated in the April-June period,” he added.

South Korea’s two biggest automakers have made significant inroads into the European market, with Hyundai sales up 12 percent last year and Kia deliveries up 11 percent.

France’s auto industry is struggling in comparison. The country’s biggest manufacturer, Peugeot, last month announced first-half losses of 819 million euros ($989 million) and is in the process of axing thousands of jobs.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Down Under, A Furor Over a Jewish Publisher’s Attack on Boat People, Muslims

SYDNEY (JTA) — An article on illegal boat people by the publisher of Australia’s main Jewish newspaper has ignited a storm of protest, with some critics savaging it for “vilifying Muslims” and promoting “xenophobic, Islamophobic and heartless sentiments.” Titled “Curb your compassion,” Robert Magid’s article published in last Friday’s Sydney and Melbourne editions of the Australian Jewish News argued that illegal Muslim boat people are queue jumpers who deprive sanctuary to legitimate refugees. “The Jews who fled the Holocaust fled certain death,” he wrote. “I doubt whether there is a single boat person in that position. Some may have fled a war zone or limited economic opportunities while others are seeking an easy life.” Magid, a multimillionaire property developer who bought the newspaper in 2007, also accused illegal immigrants of “destination shopping” and suggested — despite the “collective memory of Jews’ attempts to escape the Holocaust” — that Jews curb their compassion toward boat people.


[JP note: Read Kimball’s The Fortunes of Permanence for a critique of the compassion industry.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Korea Fires Missive at Australian Paper Mx Over ‘Naughty’ Medal Tally Joke

NORTH Korea has mX in its sights after the paper’s medal tally cheekily referred to the regime as “Naughty Korea” and its democratic cousin south of the DMZ as “Nice Korea”.

In a move labelled “unusual” by The Wall Street Journal’s man in Seoul, Alastair Gale, the nuclear-armed regime fired a missive overnight from Pyongyang at mX via its official mouthpiece, the Korean Central News Agency.

Fortunately for mX, which has editions in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, the regime believes the paper is called Brisbane Metro.

The missive includes bizarre lines like: “[the paper] behaved so sordid” in “this bullying act”, which was “foolish, degrading”.

Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane commuters can pick up a free copy today of your city’s “naughty” mX, chastised by North Korea, to read the full story.

Scroll down to read the KCNA story in full.

Here is a statement from editors Claire Sutherland (Melbourne mX), Craig Herbert (Sydney mX) and Emma Chalmers (Brisbane mX):…

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

Robert Hughes: The Art Critic With a Dash of the Streetfighter

Robert Hughes had no time for charm — but he made his readers care deeply about his subject

The passing of Gore Vidal and Robert Hughes within days of each other feels like the death of the Titans. Both were masters of the epigrammatic put-down, but while Vidal presented himself as the last aristocrat, Hughes’s image was that of a street-brawler, a thug. (His love of motorbikes, and his penchant for being photographed in leather jackets added to the persona.)


It might be that Hughes, Australian-born but a US resident for much of his adult life, found his perfect subject in American Visions, which starts when “the New World really was new”, at least to its conquerors and settlers, then goes on to explore the usually overlooked genre of social-utopian folk-art in the early 19th century, and yet ends, in bitterness for Hughes, with Andres Serrano’s notorious Piss Christ of 1987. And maybe that is the clue. Hughes was, ultimately, an American in spirit, searching for that lost sense of manifest destiny, reading the art world as a morality tale, a replication of the fall of man, chafing restlessly as art stopped being about heroic struggle and became instead an entry to the market for buying and selling commodities. He yearned to recreate that “American power to make things up as you go along”. He was, in fact, the 20th century’s Huck Finn, the great American archetype, who, at the end of his adventures, bids his readers farewell: “I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Gunmen Kill Three in Central Nigeria Mosque Attack

ABUJA Aug 8 (Reuters) — Gunmen killed three people in an attack on a mosque in the Nigerian town of Okene on Tuesday, a day after 19 were killed in gunfire at a church in the same town in a new outbreak of sectarian violence in central Nigeria, police said on Wednesday. “There was a fresh attack yesterday at a mosque in Okene. Two soldiers died and another person in the crossfire,” Kogi State Police Commissioner Muhammed Katsina told Reuters.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


A Self-Inflicted Injury: Immigration, Infiltration and Canada’s Growing Islamist Threat

by Jerry Gordon and David B. Harris (August 2012)

Harris: If current trends persist, wholesale infiltration of Canada by radical and extremist Islamic ideologies and people, will continue apace, and the country’s future will be one of division, upheaval, and tragedy. It is to be hoped that Canada’s Government will at last recognize the importance of stability and deal with the fundamental issues. First among these, will be the vital necessity of reducing immigration to levels commensurate with public safety and national security. This may require a reshaping of immigrant-selection criteria, so that Canada can more credibly position itself to deal with the threat of Islamic radicalism and other national-security issues, such as Beijing’s deepening influence in what some describe, chillingly, as China’s newest North American province.

A number of Muslim moderates have specifically called for a moratorium on immigration — as opposed to genuine refugee intake — from Pakistan, Somalia and other extremist-producing countries. Canada must also look at the particular threat posed by Iran, China and other nations that may use foreign intelligence arms to undermine further the cohesion and security of Canada and its allies.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Inventing Pluralist America

by Kevin Zdiara

With the United States of 2012 more culturally diverse than ever, it is tempting to think that the country’s social pluralism was foreordained. After all, aren’t we a nation of immigrants? In fact, however, a tolerant pluralism was not the only possibility for America. It emerged as the dominant view of how our society should be organized only after a bitter debate that began with the wave of Eastern European immigration at the end of the 19th century and finally dissipated only in the crucible of World War II. One of the chief theorists of American pluralism-indeed, the man who coined the term “cultural pluralism”-was a German-born American Jew named Horace Meyer Kallen. This coming Saturday will mark the 130th anniversary of his birth. It is a date worth celebrating.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Gay Totalitarianism

by Jeffrey Lord

Assault on Chick-fil-A — a finishing touch in America’s Obama-era refresher course in leftism.

It was as predictable as rain in a hurricane. “It” being the attempt by leftist thugs masquerading as gays to ruin the Chick-fil-A fast food empire. Followed by what the New York Post memorably front paged with the blaringly sly headline “Cock Fight.” Or, more boringly put, the backlash. A backlashing that became clear in the lines of customers patiently waiting at Chick-fil-A outposts across the country, vividly showing that Americans are refusing to be bullied by opponents of the First Amendment.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Extreme Earth Microbes Pave Way for Discovery of Alien Life

The region beneath Earth’s surface may be crawling with diverse organisms, and now researchers reveal the lives of just one group of bizarre beasties: methane-spewing microbes that hide out in the cracks of hot undersea volcanoes.

Called high-temperature methanogens, these microbes rely on the hydrogen and carbon dioxide in their superheated deep-sea vents for growth, excreting waste products like methane.

The possibility of past or present life on other worlds such as Mars, where the rover Curiosity has just set out to investigate whether the environment was ever fit for microbes, will become clearer by figuring out the extreme limits (or minimum requirements) for some organisms on Earth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Hunting Moons Outside the Solar System

Because planets aren’t the only places we might find alien life…

Astronomers are getting greedy. First they wanted to find planets around other stars; they succeeded and currently have more than 3,000 confirmed or likely candidates. Now they want to discover moons around those planets.

Detecting small objects that orbit other small objects trillions of miles away is an ambitious undertaking, but our solar system offers many reasons to try. Jupiter and Saturn together host more than 100 moons, and a few of those frigid worlds—Europa, Enceladus, and Titan—are among the most intriguing hunting grounds for alien life in the solar system. If conditions are similar around other stars and planets, there should be trillions of moons in our galaxy, with a small but significant percentage of them suitable for life.

At the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, David Kipping has been thinking about finding faraway moons since 2007, before astronomers had the tools to detect them. Now he has the sensitive equipment he needs: NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which stares at stars and looks for subtle dips in brightness caused by planets crossing in front of the stars and blocking some of their light.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mystery of the ‘Monster Stars’ Solved: It Was a Monster Mash

A gaggle of monsters resides in the Tarantula Nebula, part of a nearby galaxy.

Scientists discovered four monstrously heavy stars there in 2010. With masses up to 300 times that of our sun, they have twice the mass that astronomers believed to be the upper limit for stars, confounding the known models of star formation and begging the question: how did these monstrosities become so gargantuan?

Now, new calculations reveal that the stars could have been created when pairs of lighter stars that were orbiting one another in a binary star system crashed together and merged. In other words, it was a monster mash.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]