Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120817

Financial Crisis
»European Banks Sit on €1 Trillion of Bad Loans
»Finland Prepares for Break-Up of Eurozone
»Finland: We Have to Prepare for a Euro Breakup
»Finland Stands 100% Behind the Euro: Minister
»Grexit or Brexit — is Britain Going to Leave the EU?
»Investors Flock to Park Money in Norway and Sweden
»Soros Unloads All Investments in Major Financial Stocks; Invests Over $130 Million in Gold
»Syria’s Battling Economy May Hold on With Help From Friends
»Brain Anatomy Can Predict Your Age
»Burn Down the Suburbs?
»Humanity Responds to ‘Alien’ Wow Signal, 35 Years Later
»Muslim Community to Celebrate End of Ramadan
»Nurse Jenny Gallagher, Irish Heroine of Batman Shooting Spree Drowns
»Social Security Administration Explains Plan to Buy 174,000 Hollow-Point Bullets
»US Drought Could Spur Civil Unrest Around the World
»West Bloomfield Planning Commission Accused of Islamophobia
»Barrhaven Muslim Group Calls on Feds to Protect Community 8
»CAIR-Can Denounces PQ Proposal to Ban Hijab From Government
Europe and the EU
»Berlin Court: German Far-Right Group Can Display Prophet Muhammad Caricatures at Demonstration
»Brussels Studying Australian Plain-Packaging of Tobacco
»Danes Frequently Confronted by Religion
»Denmark: Archaelogists Unearth Ancient Battle Site
»EU Puts Itself Top of Olympic Medal Table… And Britain is Nowhere to be Seen
»France to Boost Police Numbers in Wake of Riot
»French Muslims in Political Grey Area
»German Court Widens Army’s Internal Crisis Role
»Germany: Frankfurt Airport Demolishes Euro Sculpture
»Germany: Anti-Islam Group Targets Mosques and Leftists
»German Court OKs Use of Prophet Muhammad Pics at Upcoming Far-Right Rally
»Germany: New Report Criticizes German Handling of Neo-Nazis
»Greece: Mayors Warn of Racist Gangs
»Greece: Golden Dawn Members Invade Ferry Carrying Pakistani Rapist
»How Paris is Killing French Industry
»Merkel Pushes EU Free Trade Pact With Canada
»Norway: Humlegård Named as New Police Chief
»UK: Judge Attacks Forced Marriage That Put Disabled Woman ‘At Risk’
»UK: MP Khalid Mahmood Warning Over UK Syria Fighters
»UK: Statement on Al-Quds Day Adverts on TfL Buses
»UK: The ‘Evening Boris’ Apologises and Retracts Electoral Fraud Untruths
»UK: The Fast and the Furious
»UK: Tragedy of a Serious Split Between Anti-Fascists
»US Sounds Alarm on Hezbollah in EU
Mediterranean Union
»CBC Med, 19 Strategic Projects Approved
North Africa
»Caroline Glick: Who Lost Egypt?
»Egyptian Man Beats Pregnant Wife for Taking Off Veil in Heat
»Science in the Sahara: Man of the Desert
Israel and the Palestinians
»More Than 300,000 Attend Al-Aqsa Mosque on the “Night of Power”
»Wine Festival Near Mosque Site in Israel Angers Muslims
Middle East
»Experts Skeptical of Saudi Plans for Women-Only Work Zone
»France: Syrian Regime Should be ‘Smashed Fast’ — Fabius
»Iraq Officials: Over 90 Dead in Thursday’s Attacks
»Israel’s Trigger Finger Grows Itchy Over the Nuclear Threat From Iran
»OIC Summit: Saudi Arabia/Iran Signs of Detente
»Saudi Arabia: Despite Internal Tensions, Islamic Group Suspends Syria
»Saudi Arabia: King Abdullah Offers Vision and Action Plan in OIC Summit
»UAE: Ramadan TV Show Stirs Argument Across Arab World
»Feminist Band Pussy Riot Found Guilty Over Putin Protest
»Moscow Court Finds Members of Pussy Riot Guilty
»Russian Punk Band is Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison for Anti-Putin Stunt
»Russian and Polish Church Leaders Sign Appeal
»Russia’s Biggest Mosque to be Built in Moscow
South Asia
»Afghan Police Officer Kills 2 NATO Service Members
»Afghanistan: Taliban Leader Issues an ‘Unmistakable Message of Death’
»Hundreds of Indian Muslims Stage Anti-Israeli Rally in New Delhi
»Indian Premier Seeks to Cool Panic as Assamese Migrants Flee
»Indian PM Moves to Cool Panic as Thousands Flee Cities
»NATO Moves to Thwart Taliban Infiltration of Afghan Police and Army
»Two Americans Killed by Afghan Recruit in ‘Green on Blue’ Assault
»Two American Soldiers Killed by Afghan Ally Hours After Taliban Leader Boasts of “Green on Blue” Threat
Far East
»Navigating East Asian Waters Poses Political Challenges
»The Secret Tomb of China’s 1st Emperor: Will We Ever See Inside?
Australia — Pacific
»Scientific Explanation of Psychopathy Cuts Jail Time
Sub-Saharan Africa
»South African Police Say They Were Forced to Fire on Striking Miners, Killing 34
»Netherlands: Mayors Hope New Government Will End Afghan Asylum Stalemate
Culture Wars
»Obamacare Mandate: Sterilize 15-Year-Old Girls for Free — Without Parental Consent

Financial Crisis

European Banks Sit on €1 Trillion of Bad Loans

European banks had bad loans on their books worth the hardly imaginable sum of €1,050 billion by the end of 2011, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) calculations presented in Frankfurt on Wednesday showed. Liabilities not repaid on time was almost nine percent larger than in 2010, PwC said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Finland Prepares for Break-Up of Eurozone

Finland is preparing for the break-up of the eurozone, the country’s foreign minister warned today.

The Nordic state is battening down the hatches for a full-blown currency crisis as tensions in the eurozone mount and has said it will not tolerate further bail-out creep or fiscal union by stealth.

“We have to face openly the possibility of a euro-break up,” said Erkki Tuomioja, the country’s veteran foreign minister and a member of the Social Democratic Party, one of six that make up the country’s coalition government.

“It is not something that anybody — even the True Finns (eurosceptic party) — are advocating in Finland, let alone the government. But we have to be prepared,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“Our officials, like everybody else and like every general staff, have some sort of operational plan for any eventuality.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Finland: We Have to Prepare for a Euro Breakup

Finland’s foreign minister has said his government does not want the euro to break up, but that officials have to be prepared “for any eventuality.” Meanwhile, Germany’s diplomacy chief is rallying former ministers in a pro-euro PR operation.

“We have to face openly the possibility of a euro-breakup,” Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja told the Daily Telegraph in an interview published on Thursday (16 August).

“Our officials, like everybody else and like every general staff, have some sort of operational plan for any eventuality,” he said, adding that not even the eurosceptic True Finns party is openly advocating for the euro to break up.

Tuomioja spoke of a “consensus” over an estimate that the breakup would cost more than managing the crisis. But he also floated the idea that the common currency is not essential for the EU as such to survive.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Finland Stands 100% Behind the Euro: Minister

(HELSINKI) — Finland is totally committed to the euro, its European affairs minister insisted on Friday following comments by the foreign minister that it was preparing for a break up of the currency bloc.

“Foreign Minister Tuomioja’s statement in no way reflects the Finnish government position,” European Affairs Minister Alexander Stubb told AFP.

“Finland stands 100 percent behind the euro,” he added.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja told Britain’s Daily Telegraph: “We have to face openly the possibility of a euro-break up.”

He added however: “It is not something that anybody — even the True Finns (Eurosceptic party) — are advocating in Finland, let alone the government. But we have to be prepared.”

Tuomioja indicated that other eurozone countries had similar contingency plans.

Austrian counterpart Michael Spindelegger for his part advocated in another newspaper interview published Friday that the eurozone elaborate a mechanism to force a country out of the 17-nation bloc.

In comments to the Finnish news agency STT later on Friday Tuomioja said that Finland didn’t expect the eurozone to break up, but that it would be irresponsible to not prepare for such an eventuality.

Stubb said his colleague had probably spoken in his personal capacity.

“The government’s position is very clear: we stand pro-European and we stand to work, to improve the situation in the eurozone,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Grexit or Brexit — is Britain Going to Leave the EU?

Last week, Eurogroup leader Jean Claude-Juncker said that a Greek exit from the eurozone could be managed. Why Juncker felt compelled to say this is unclear, especially since there are no indications Greece wants to leave the euro.

In any case, focusing on the political plight of Greece is to ignore the elephant in the room: is Britain going to head for the EU exit door?

Last week, Japanese bank Nomura published a paper by Alastair Newton, a former diplomat and aide to one-time British leader Tony Blair, to the effect that the chances of a referendum were high enough to warrant contingency planning.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Investors Flock to Park Money in Norway and Sweden

Norway and Sweden rival Switzerland in the minds of investors as a safe place to park money, reports Wall Street Journal. The Swedish krona is 9% stronger than in mid-May, while the Norwegian krone gained almost 4%. The Scandinavians may turn to interest-rate cuts as their currencies’ strength hits exports.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Soros Unloads All Investments in Major Financial Stocks; Invests Over $130 Million in Gold

In a harbinger of what may be coming our way in the Fall of 2012, billionaire financier George Soros has sold all of his equity positions in major financial stocks according to a 13-F report filed with the SEC for the quarter ending June 30, 2012.

Soros, who manages funds through various accounts in the US and the Cayman Islands, has reportedly unloaded over one million shares of stock in financial companies and banks that include Citigroup (420,000 shares), JP Morgan (701,400 shares) and Goldman Sachs (120,000 shares). The total value of the stock sales amounts to nearly $50 million.

What’s equally as interesting as his sale of major financials is where Soros has shifted his money. At the same time he was selling bank stocks, he was acquiring some 884,000 shares (approx. $130 million) of Gold via the SPDR Gold Trust.

When a major global player with direct ties to the White House, Wall Street, and the banking system starts off-loading stocks and starts stacking gold, it suggests a very serious market move is set to happen.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Syria’s Battling Economy May Hold on With Help From Friends

The Syrian economy has been hit hard by more than 17 months of revolt but may still hold on despite international sanctions with the help of friendly countries such as Russia, Iran and Iraq, experts say.

All economic indicators in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad is trying to crush an uprising against his rule, are in the red: the economy is contracting, inflation rates have skyrocketed, unemployment has risen and the current account deficit continues to increase.

“The economy is out of breath. It is degrading slowly but surely, a reflection of the gradual loss of government control,” said Jihad Yazigi, the director of online business news service The Syria Report.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said in a report released in July that it expects Syria’s real gross domestic product (GDP) to shrink by over eight percent in 2012.

“Rising violence will depress consumer spending, investment and, more generally, domestic economic activity,” it said.

Another study, by the Institute of International Finance, projected that Syria’s real GDP would contract by between 14 and 20 percent in 2012, due to declining agriculture production, dwindling investment, and a fall in exports due to violence and European sanctions.

Prices increased by 32.5 percent from May 2011 to May 2012, and 15.4 percent since the beginning of the year, according to official Syrian statistics.

And things could get worse…

           — Hat tip: AD[Return to headlines]


Brain Anatomy Can Predict Your Age

The carnival trick of guessing a person’s age has just gained a lot more rigour. A new brain imaging technique can predict a child’s age to within a year. The technique could be useful for determining whether a child is developing normally, or confirm that a young person is the age they say they are.

There is no doubt that children of the same age often have vast differences in their maturity and mental ability, says Timothy Brown of the University of California in San Diego. But what hasn’t been clear is how much of that difference is psychological and how much is biological.

To simplify the question, Brown and his colleagues looked at brain structure rather than brain activity. Working with 10 hospitals in different parts of the US, they recruited 885 children and young adults between the ages of 3 and 20. They ensured that the participants represented many different races, socioeconomic statuses and education levels.

The group performed structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on the young peoples’ brains. The images showed features such as the size of each brain region, the level of connectivity between neurons, and how much white matter was insulating the neurons.

By putting all these features together in an algorithm, the researchers formed a picture of what the average brain looks like at each year of childhood. Different areas and features of the brain varied between individuals, but the algorithm correctly predicted a child’s age to within a year in 92 per cent of cases. Brown says this suggests that brain anatomy is a developmental clock of which we were unaware.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Burn Down the Suburbs?

Not exactly, but Obama is already working to get rid of them.

President Obama is not a fan of America’s suburbs. Indeed, he intends to abolish them. With suburban voters set to be the swing constituency of the 2012 election, the administration’s plans for this segment of the electorate deserve scrutiny. Obama is a longtime supporter of “regionalism,” the idea that the suburbs should be folded into the cities, merging schools, housing, transportation, and above all taxation. To this end, the president has already put programs in place designed to push the country toward a sweeping social transformation in a possible second term. The goal: income equalization via a massive redistribution of suburban tax money to the cities.

Obama’s plans to undercut the political and economic independence of America’s suburbs reach back decades. The community organizers who trained him in the mid-1980s blamed the plight of cities on taxpayer “flight” to suburbia. Beginning in the mid-1990s, Obama’s mentors at the Gamaliel Foundation (a community-organizing network Obama helped found) formally dedicated their efforts to the budding fight against suburban “sprawl.” From his positions on the boards of a couple of left-leaning Chicago foundations, Obama channeled substantial financial support to these efforts. On entering politics, he served as a dedicated ally of his mentors’ anti-suburban activism.

The alliance endures. One of Obama’s original trainers, Mike Kruglik, has hived off a new organization called Building One America, which continues Gamaliel’s anti-suburban crusade under another name. Kruglik and his close allies, David Rusk and Myron Orfield, intellectual leaders of the “anti-sprawl” movement, have been quietly working with the Obama administration for years on an ambitious program of social reform.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Humanity Responds to ‘Alien’ Wow Signal, 35 Years Later

Just in case any aliens out there in the universe are listening, more than 10,000 Twitter messages, plus videos from celebrities such as comedian Stephen Colbert, have been beamed into space as a big “Hello!” from Earth.

The messages are intended as a response to what’s called the Wow! signal, an intriguing radio signal detected on Aug. 15, 1977 that some thought was a call from extraterrestrials. The 72-second transmission was picked up by the Big Ear radio observatory at Ohio State University, coming from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.

Because the radio signal was 30 times more powerful than the average radiation from deep space, a volunteer astronomer named Jerry Ehman who was watching the telescope data scrawled “Wow!” on a computer printout, leading to the signal’s moniker. No evidence ever arrived actually linking the transmission to an alien civilization, and no repeat message from the same direction has ever been detected, and the Wow! Signal remains a mystery.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Muslim Community to Celebrate End of Ramadan

WILLMAR — After a month of fasting, Muslims will celebrate the end of Ramadan with a feast for Eid al-Fitr. Since July 20, Muslims have been observing Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, by abstaining from food, drink and sex each day from sunrise to sunset. Eid al-Fitr, which means feast of the breaking fast, marks the end of Ramadan and is usually celebrated with food, song and dance.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nurse Jenny Gallagher, Irish Heroine of Batman Shooting Spree Drowns

US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle paid tribute to Jenny and her colleagues who are credited with saving the lives of some of those injured in the massacre.

PHD student James Holmes has been charged in relation to the shootings which left 12 people dead.

However, her family has now been plunged into a sense of grief of their own. Jenny was out swimming in a lake close to her home when she is believed to have drowned.

Her husband Greg Pinson and five-year-old son Jack are struggling to come to terms with the loss of a “wonderful mother”.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Social Security Administration Explains Plan to Buy 174,000 Hollow-Point Bullets

( — The Social Security Administration posted a blog on Thursday to explain why it was planning to purchase 174,000 hollow point bullets.

SSA posted a “Request for Quote for Ammunition” on the website on Aug. 7. The request listed the commodity that SSA desired as “.357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow point pistol ammunition.” The quantity listed was “174 TH.”

The SSA’s Office of the Inspector General’s said it posted a new blog on the agency’s website, “Beyond the Numbers,” “as we strive to be a transparent and accountable government organization for all of our stakeholders.

“With those goals in mind, we thought it would be appropriate to address recent media reports regarding the organization’s purchase of ammunition for our special agents’ duty weapons,” the blog post states.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US Drought Could Spur Civil Unrest Around the World

As prices rise, tempers fray. The US drought has pushed up global food prices and is likely to continue to do so. Some say riots and unrest may follow.

According to the Climate Prediction Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, El Niño conditions are likely to develop over the Pacific in August or September, which should affect global weather before the end of the year. This may drive food prices up further if it causes floods or further drought.

US farms are already crippled: the Department of Agriculture says the corn (maize) crop is likely to be the worst since 1995. As a result, the Food Price Index (FPI) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization rose 6 per cent in July, to 213.

That is dangerously high, says Yaneer Bar-Yam of the New England Complex Systems Institute in Massachusetts. He has found that if the FPI goes above 210, riots and unrest become more likely around the world. Both the 2011 Arab Spring and the 2008 riots in places such as Mexico, India, Russia and Belgium may have been partly triggered by high food prices.

More unrest is likely in the next year, although we cannot predict where, says Bar-Yam. That depends on how governments respond.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

West Bloomfield Planning Commission Accused of Islamophobia

The sale of the former Eagle Elementary School in West Bloomfield Township continues to be a contentious issue following a Tuesday meeting of the West Bloomfield Planning Commission. Citing “inappropriate questioning” by a West Bloomfield Trustee during the meeting, the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan contacted the Department of Justice on Wednesday. Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR-MI, said the sentiment at the meeting matched the sentiment displayed when the school was initially sold to the Islamic Cultural Association. “I witnessed the tension in the air and the amount of Islamophobic comments that were made (when the school was sold by Farmington Public Schools in November),” Walid said.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Barrhaven Muslim Group Calls on Feds to Protect Community 8

Four times now, vandals have targeted a sign announcing the construction of a new Muslim community centre in Barrhaven.

Unsatisfied with police reaction, the president of the South Nepean Muslim Community, Emdad Khan, has reached out to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, to bring about an end to what he sees as an escalating threat.

The most recent damage at 3020 Woodroffe Ave. happened Aug. 12, 2012. Previous incidents took place April 30, 2010 when racist graffiti was put on the sign, Sept. 19, 2011 when the sign was partially burnt, and July 2012, again with graffiti — this time crude and homophobic in nature.

Since 2010, one of the rented facilities where SNMC operates located at the city-owned heritage building at 3131 Jockvale Rd., has been vandalized at least three times as well.

“This makes the community anxious,” said Khan.

He believes the damage is likely the work of “one or two individuals” rather than some sort of organized campaign against the group or Muslims in general.

His main concern is the threat to public safety now that arson is involved and the building — initially supposed to be ready in Aug. 2013 — could be destroyed.

“One or two people can do a lot of damage,” he said. “There were ugly things written. But, we said let’s ignore it. But now that they’re burning, we want police to take it seriously.”

SNMC sponsors the Canada Day Festival in Barrhaven, raises funds for CHEO, helps with the Barrhaven Food Cupboard, and regularly participates in the Cleaning the Capital campaign.

The organization also offers more than 20 non faith-based scholarships to Nepean-area students each year.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

CAIR-Can Denounces PQ Proposal to Ban Hijab From Government

(Ottawa, Canada — August 15, 2012) — A national Muslim civil rights advocacy organization today condemned a proposal by Parti Québécois (PQ) leader Pauline Marois to ban the Muslim headscarf and other religious-based attire in provincial government offices if the PQ forms government after upcoming September elections. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) decried the remarks made Tuesday by Madame Marois at a campaign stop in Trois Riviere that, under a PQ government, Muslim women who wear the hijab would be barred from participating in the Quebec civil service. The PQ says other “overt religious symbols” would likewise be banned, while the Catholic crucifix would remain in Quebec’s National Assembly.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Berlin Court: German Far-Right Group Can Display Prophet Muhammad Caricatures at Demonstration

BERLIN — A Berlin court has rejected an emergency appeal by three mosques to prohibit a far-right group from displaying caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad at a demonstration this weekend. The Berlin administrative court ruled Thursday the caricatures were protected by laws allowing artistic free expression and their display alone did not violate laws against slander nor those against inciting hate or violence.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Brussels Studying Australian Plain-Packaging of Tobacco

Austrialian rules requiring cigarettes to be sold in un-branded uniform packaging with health warnings may have inspired the European Commission. “We are working on a proposal to revise the (EU) tobacco products directive,” spokesman Antony Gravili said, AFP reported. “Many things are being discussed including the possibility of plain packaging.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Danes Frequently Confronted by Religion

Ramadan dinners in the Danish Parliament, staff parties without either pork or alcohol and prayer rooms at the airport are all examples of how religion is becoming more visible in public spaces. “Prior to the mass migration of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, almost all Danes shared similar values and were members of the national Christian church, so religion was not an issue in everyday life. There was no need to discuss neither one’s own nor another person’s religious viewpoint, and secularisation was a matter of course. Today, it is difficult to be in a public place, read the newspaper, or go to school or work without encountering religious expressions and symbols,” says Niels Valdemar Vinding, a PhD student from the Centre for European Islamic Thought at University of Copenhagen and co-author of a recently published report from the European research project RELIGARE that examines religious diversity and secular models in Europe.

Secularism under pressure

“Everywhere in Europe it is clear that the concept of secularism, where religion remains a private matter, is under pressure. Everything suggests that in the future religious organisations will have more influence on schools, workplaces and the media. This means that both private and public institutions will be dealing with religion more often,” explains Vinding. The report is one of six national reports examining the nexus between secularism and religion in a specific European country. The reports are based on interviews with a variety of religious, secular and political leaders. The reports are key contributions to the research project RELIGARE, which brings together university researchers from ten different European countries.


[JP note: See for the report Danish Regulation of Religion, State of Affairs and Qualitative Reflections by Niels Valdemar Vinding and Lisbet Christoffersen.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Archaelogists Unearth Ancient Battle Site

Skeletal remains of a slain army that date to the birth of Christ are found in eastern Jutland

Skulls, broken bones, weapons and shields. In the Alken Enge wetlands of eastern Jutland, archaeologists and geologists from Aarhus University have been unearthing evidence of a violent conflict that dates to around the time of the birth of Christ.

According to Dr Mads Kähler Holst, a professor of archaeology at Aarhus University, skeletal remains of a large army, including a fractured skull and hacked thighbone, are evidence that an ancient violent battle took place at the site. At least two hundred ancient skeletons have been found thus far.

“It’s clear that this must have been a quite far-reaching and dramatic event that must have had profound effect on the society of the time,” he explained.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Puts Itself Top of Olympic Medal Table… And Britain is Nowhere to be Seen

THE European Union has tried to claim Britain’s entire Olympics medal haul for itself. Berlin-based Euro Informationen, which works for the European Commission and European Parliament, developed an Olympic medal table which declares the ‘European Union’ as the top nation.

On the agency’s website, it combines the 27 members of the EU into one, meaning that — with 306 medals — it is placed above both the USA and China.

It states: “We count and compare how many medals the EU would win if it took part in the Olympic Games as one team. The European Union is the Winning Team.”

Britain, who were in third position at the end of the OIympics with 65 medals in total and 29 golds no longer appear on the table at all.

Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis spoke of her outrage at Brussels’ attempt to impose a federal identity on nations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France to Boost Police Numbers in Wake of Riot

PARIS // France’s Socialist government pledged yesterday to reverse the recent shrinkage of police numbers after rioting that devastated part of the northern city of Amiens.

Manuel Valls, the interior minister, said plans to sack 3,000 posts next year in the gendarmerie and the national police would be scrapped and that the two forces would benefit from the creation of 500 posts per year from 2013 onwards. The additional numbers are relatively insignificant in comparison with France’s total of more than 200,000 paramilitary gendarmes and police but politically significant in the current climate.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

French Muslims in Political Grey Area

by Colin Randall

MARSEILLE, FRANCE// Francois Hollande’s new socialist government shows early signs of being less tolerant towards France’s large Muslim community than the previous centre-right administration of Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the co-founder of a body promoting the interests of Arabian Gulf and African nations. The charge is at first glance surprising given the lengths to which Mr Sarkozy went, in vain, to lure voters in the May presidential election from the far-right, anti-immigration Front National. But Yana Korobko, secretary of the Paris-based Observatory of the Black, Gulf and Mediterranean Seas (OBGMS), said Mr Hollande’s positions were “unusually firm for a leftist in France”.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

German Court Widens Army’s Internal Crisis Role

The German military will in future be able to use its weapons on German streets in an extreme situation, the Federal Constitutional Court says.

The ruling says the armed forces can be deployed only if Germany faces an assault of “catastrophic proportions”, but not to control demonstrations.The decision to deploy forces must be approved by the federal government.

Severe restrictions on military deployments were set down in the German constitution after Nazi-era abuses.The court says the military still cannot shoot down a hijacked passenger plane — fighter jets would have to intercept the plane and fire warning shots to force it to land.

After World War II the new constitution ruled that soldiers could not be deployed with guns at the ready on German soil, the BBC’s Stephen Evans reports from Berlin.

The court has now changed that, saying troops could be used to tackle an assault that threatens scores of casualties.The judges had in mind a terrorist incident involving armed attackers in public places. German troops have been deployed abroad since the war, but it has been a gradual process.German warplanes have been used in the Balkans and troops are on the ground in Afghanistan, protecting construction workers, but able to return fire if attacked.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Germany: Frankfurt Airport Demolishes Euro Sculpture

A five-meter-high euro sculpture was removed from Terminal 2 in Frankfurt airport Thursday night. The 26 tonne colossus was no longer safe to passenger, Financial Times Deutchland reports, adding it was also in the way of a new rail connection. A similar sculpture at the ECB headquarters still stands.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Anti-Islam Group Targets Mosques and Leftists

Berlin police are preparing for possible violence at the weekend after an anti-Islam group was granted leave to display provocative cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during demonstrations outside mosques.

A court told the Pro-Deutschland group on Thursday it could show copies of the Danish cartoons which sparked violent protests around the globe when they were first published in 2005.

This Saturday, the group plans to demonstrate in front of three mosques in the capital city under the slogan, “Islam does not belong to Germany — stop Islamisation.”

Around 70 participants are expected to drive between the mosques and hold rallies in front of them — as Muslims prepare to celebrate the end of Ramadan on Sunday.

On Sunday itself, the group is taking a tour around some of Berlin’s left-wing hot spots, in a further move which can only be interpreted as deliberate provocation.

At least half a dozen counter-demonstrations have been registered with the police for both days, spokesman Michael Gassen told The Local.

“The Campaign Against Racism is one of a handful which has registered to demonstrate along both routes on both days, in the same places as Pro-Deutschland,” he said.

“We are making it very clear that we want to talk with all groups concerned to reduce the risk of violence. We have had conversations with members of Muslim communities and they have assured us that they are calling upon their people to not allow themselves to be provoked. We are happy that these discussions have taken place.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Court OKs Use of Prophet Muhammad Pics at Upcoming Far-Right Rally

Is Berlin asking for trouble or standing up for free speech?

BERLIN, Germany — A German court today ruled that images of Prophet Muhammad banned by Islam as idolatrous can be shown at an upcoming far-right rally, a decision that has Berlin police scrambling to prepare for possible clashes at the Saturday event, reported Agence-France Press. The ruling heightens the possibility of violence at the planned “Citizens Movement — Pro Germany” demonstrations after riots broke out and a Danish cartoonist’s life was threatened for publishing cartoons of the Prophet in a Norwegian newspaper in 2005.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: New Report Criticizes German Handling of Neo-Nazis

A new report criticizes German authorities of downplaying right-wing violence. The report claims little has been done in the wake of the murders by the underground group NSU.

The Amadeu Antonio Foundation has accused German authorities of trivializing right-wing extremism. The foundation was critical, saying despite murders by the Nazi underground (NSU) discovered last year, attitudes had not changed. Political scientist Marion Kraske authored the report on behalf of the foundation.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Greece: Mayors Warn of Racist Gangs

The mayors of Athens and a town in northeastern Greece where Muslims and Christians have lived peacefully for many years warned Thursday that their communities had to stand up to extremist thugs who have been targeting minorities and immigrants.

“When fellow human beings are being stabbed on an almost daily basis, society has to be alert and the state has to lead the perpetrators to justice,” said Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis.

An Iraqi man was stabbed to death in the capital last weekend in a suspected racist attack. The Migrant Workers’ Union claims that more than 500 immigrants have been injured in racially motivated attacks over the last six months.

“The rule of law is the only guarantee to exit this crisis of violence, which is prompted by the large number of illegal migrants entering the country and the attempts of motorcycle-riding fascist gangs to take the law into their own hands,” said Kaminis.

Stylianos Hatzievangelou, the mayor of Topeiro, near Xanthi, said that “extremists” had been harassing Muslims in the town. “We have put a lot of effort into ensuring our residents are treated as equal citizens and we are not going to let this pass unchallenged,” he told Kathimerini.

“We warn this small group of dangerous, idiotic thugs that we will stand in the way of their plans. We will find them and stop them.”

Sources said that the police are thinking of expanding their clampdown on illegal immigration, through a widespread stop-and-search operation known as Xenios Zeus, to cities other than Athens. Since it began this month, more than 8,000 migrants have been detained, of whom 1,673 were arrested. Police said that only one in five of those detained is arrested as the others have residence papers.

The Pakistani Community of Greece claimed Thursday that two Pakistani men, Gul Zeb and Khaled Masud, detained at Aegaleo police station in Athens on Tuesday, were abused by policemen. Officers allegedly gripped Zeb’s fingers with pliers and shaved off Masud’s mustache. The group is planning a demonstration in Omonia Square at 6 p.m. next Friday, along with the Migrant Workers’ Union and United Against Racism and the Fascist Threat.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Golden Dawn Members Invade Ferry Carrying Pakistani Rapist

Members of Greece’s Golden Dawn invaded the ferry carrying the Pakistani national who has admitted to the brutal assault on a 15-year-old girl on Paros. The police van transferring the suspect was attacked before escaping from Piraeus Harbor.

Members of Golden Dawn gathered at Piraeus harbor in protest, awaiting the ferry transferring the Pakistani national accused of attempted murder, from Syros to Athens. The alleged rapist has confessed to police that he brutally assaulted a 15-year-old Greek tourist on the island of Paros. The teenager remains in critical condition in hospital, fighting for her life.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

How Paris is Killing French Industry

French carmaker Peugeot is fighting for its survival. But, by keeping its plants in-country and supporting wage hikes, the government is ignoring the rules of survival in the age of globalization. In the end, the workers it is trying to help might be the biggest losers.

Well-meaning people can often be particularly dangerous. Take French President François Hollande and Minister of Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg, for example. They want to rush to the aid of French automaker PSA, which has driven itself into a crisis with its Peugeot and Citroën brands. Representatives of the CGT trade union, such as Jean-Pierre Mercier, also want to help. “We will fight for our jobs and the livelihoods of our families,” says Mercier.

The French government and the unions want to prevent Peugeot from closing its plant in Aulnay-sous-Blois, outside Paris, and slashing 8,000 jobs. But if politicians and labor leaders are successful, they will only make things worse. Perhaps they’ll manage to save a few thousand jobs in France in the short term. But, by doing so, they will put the company’s future into even greater jeopardy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Merkel Pushes EU Free Trade Pact With Canada

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday pressed for a quick wrap-up of talks on a free trade pact between Canada and the European Union, calling it crucial to much-needed global economic growth.

“Once I go back to Germany, I will see to it that these negotiations come to a speedy conclusion because… Canada and Germany are convinced free trade is one of the best engines of growth that we can have,” Merkel said in Ottawa.

Merkel, on her first-ever bilateral visit to Canada shadowed by eurozone debt woes, discussed trade and security with her Canadian host, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Canada and Germany hope to bolster bilateral trade directly and through the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement scheduled to be finalized by year’s end, setting “a high standard for agreements between major economies going forward, but to also provide a signal to the global economy that major developed countries are able to move forward on the trade agenda,” Harper said.

A deal with the 27-nation European Union would be Canada’s second-largest free trade pact after the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Mexico, and the first to include access to municipal procurements.

But there are stumbling blocks in the talks involving intellectual property, public procurement and aspects of the services sector.

Canada’s provinces and municipalities have expressed concerns about losing their ability to extend preferences to local suppliers. Environmentalists, farmers, auto workers and others have also rallied against the deal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Humlegård Named as New Police Chief

The head of Norway’s serious crimes unit (Kripos), Odd Reidar Humlegård, has been named as the new chief of the country’s police force after the resignation on Thursday of Øystein Mæland.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Judge Attacks Forced Marriage That Put Disabled Woman ‘At Risk’

A judge has said the forced marriage of a Muslim woman with learning difficulties should be annulled and condemned the “insulated” families who arrange them.

Mrs Justice Parker also criticised doctors and social workers for failing to raise the alarm when the woman was sent to Bangladesh to be married to a cousin, which allowed him to settle in England. She said video of the wedding ceremony showed the bride was “almost comatose” and needed help to repeat vows she did not understand, while her relatives had made “false and misleading” statements about her condition. And the judge brushed aside claims by the woman’s parents that having her marriage annulled would bring shame upon their family, in a case that was even considered at by the Government’s most senior lawyer, the Attorney General. Mrs Justice Parker said that forcing marriage on someone who lacks mental capacity is a “gross interference” with their dignity and autonomy, particularly as it means having sex and possibly becoming pregnant without being able to consent.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: MP Khalid Mahmood Warning Over UK Syria Fighters

Young British Muslims are in danger of being radicalised by the conflict in Syria, a Birmingham MP has warned.

Khalid Mahmood said he believed a number of Syrian sheikhs were influencing young Britons. The Labour MP for Perry Barr added some Syrian-born men now living in the West Midlands were returning to “exact their revenge” on the Assad regime. The BBC understands dozens of men from London and the Midlands have gone to Syria, some to join extremist groups.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Statement on Al-Quds Day Adverts on TfL Buses

Following our complaint last week, we welcome Transport for London’s (TfL) commitment to remove the Al Quds Day March adverts from the TfL network in the next few days. The adverts were promoting a rally in which people call for the destruction of Israel and show support for terrorists. Further, TfL’s promise to undertake a thorough policy review to prevent similar adverts being placed again is also positive.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The ‘Evening Boris’ Apologises and Retracts Electoral Fraud Untruths

by Lutfur Rahman

The Evening Standard has published a fulsome apology to Isabella Freeman, who is Assistant Chief executive of our borough, and in charge of our legal services. The newspaper, edited by Sarah Sands and owned by Russian oligarch, Evgeny Lebedev, claimed back in May that Isabella Freeman had ‘blamed Muslim voters for alleged voter fraud in the borough’ and had ‘showed a lack of care about alleged voter fraud in Tower Hamlets and was involved in a deliberate cover-up’. I wrote to the proprietor, Mr Lebedev, of the Evening Standard at the time, inviting him to visit our borough, to see things for himself. He did not see fit to reply.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Fast and the Furious

by Huma Yusuf

LONDON — I stopped by my favorite fruit stall in Brixton earlier this week, only to find the seller fast asleep, with head propped against cart and face cupped in hand. I began sorting through various cartons of peaches, making just enough noise to wake Pervez Khan, a fellow Pakistani who has been based in south London for more than a decade. As I tossed the fruit into a basket, Khan awoke and began apologizing. “It’s terrible of me to sleep on the job,” he said, “but it’s so hard to stay awake when you’re fasting.”


[JP note: Note the accompanying photo to the article showing Muslims attending Friday prayers in east London on July 20, the first day of Ramadan.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Tragedy of a Serious Split Between Anti-Fascists

by Martin Bright

For more than two decades, the magazine Searchlight has been synonymous with the fight against the extreme right in the UK. Its founder, Gerry Gable, deserves his place in the pantheon of British anti-fascist heroes. Over the years, Searchlight has provided an invaluable service to those investigating British fascist organisations, whether it was the street-fighting thugs of the National Front in the 1970s, or their slicker, be-suited successors in the British National Party.


With particular attention to tackling the electoral threat of the BNP and the rise of the English Defence League, Hope Not Hate has worked to unite communities in the face of Islamophobia and racism.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

US Sounds Alarm on Hezbollah in EU

US officials claim EU is allowing the Hezbollah group to flourish in Europe despite Iran backing and possible ties to terrorist activities, reports the New York Times. The paper reports Germany as the nerve-centre of EU-Hezbollah with some 950 members and supporters in 2011, up from 900 in 2010.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

CBC Med, 19 Strategic Projects Approved

From tourism to solar energy, they receive 73.9 million euros

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, AUGUST 17 — Nineteen strategic projects addressing a wide range of issues have been selected for funding under the Mediterranean cross-border cooperation programme CBC MED. The projects, according to the Enpi website (, will receive 73.9 million euros of EU funding under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (Enpi). All six topics addressed by the call are covered by these 19 projects. The solar energy topic accounts for 6 projects out of the 19 selected, followed by sustainable tourism (5 projects), waste treatment (3 projects), agro-food industry (2 projects), integrated coastal zone management (2 projects) and water management (1 project). The ENPI funds absorbed by the call are worth 73.9 million euros out of 75.6 million euros available.

The remaining 1.7 million euros should be reallocated to the second call for standard projects. Among the 197 organisations part of the approved projects, around 44% come from Mediterranean Partner Countries and 53% from EU Countries; 3% are international organisations. The 19 strategic projects add to 35 running standard projects. The ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme 2007/2013 is a multilateral cross-border cooperation programme funded by the European Union under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. It aims at reinforcing cooperation between the EU and partner countries’ regions located along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Caroline Glick: Who Lost Egypt?

In 1949, the Communist takeover of China rattled the US foreign policy establishment to its core. China’s fall to Communism was correctly perceived as a massive strategic defeat for the US. The triumphant Mao Zedong placed China firmly in the Soviet camp and implemented foreign policies antithetical to US interests.

For the American foreign policy establishment, China’s fall forced a reconsideration of basic axioms of US foreign policy. Until China went Red, the view resonant among foreign policy specialists was that it was possible for the US to peacefully coexist and even be strategic allies with Communists.

With Mao’s embrace of Stalin this position was discredited. The US’s subsequent recognition that it was impossible for America to reach an accommodation with Communists served as the intellectual architecture of many of the strategies the US adopted for fighting the Cold War in the years that followed.

Today the main aspect of America’s response to China’s Communist revolution that is remembered is the vindictive political hunt for scapegoats. Foreign Service officers and journalists who had advised the US government to support Mao and the Communists against Chiang Kai Shek and the Nationalists were attacked as traitors…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Egyptian Man Beats Pregnant Wife for Taking Off Veil in Heat

19-year-old charged with assault in sicily

(ANSAmed) — Porto Empedocle (Sicily), August 17 — An Egyptian man brutally beat his pregnant wife Friday after she took off her veil in an attempt to find relief from the scorching heat.

The woman, a 20-year-old from the town of Porto Empedocle in Sicily’s southern province of Agrigento, was taken to hospital for treatment.

The man, 19 years old, was stopped by police after the incident and charged with assault.

The couple live in Turin for work reasons and had come to Porto Empedocle on vacation, to visit the woman’s parents. According to the woman, whose father is Tunisian, she had asked her husband’s permission to remove the veil because she was having trouble breathing. The husband at first responded by yelling at her, perhaps in hope of intimidating her, she said. When she removed the veil, he beat her for her lack of respect and also threatened passersby who tried to intervene on her behalf.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Science in the Sahara: Man of the Desert

Stefan Kröpelin has carved out a career where few dare to tread — in the heart of the Sahara.

Kröpelin has made seminal discoveries about the climatic history of the Sahara that are challenging assumptions about the tipping points the world may face in a warmer future. At the same time, Kröpelin has worked to document the Sahara’s cultural history and to preserve its heritage by lobbying to protect important scientific and cultural sites. “I’ve never ceased to be excited about the chance to investigate some of the least known parts of the desert,” he says.

Siddiq Abd Algadir, president of the Sudanese Geologists’ Union in Khartoum and a fellow student with Kröpelin in the 1980s, says that the German researcher has added immeasurably to Saharan science. “Much of what we now know about the geology, the environments and even the people in some of the most remote parts of the Sahara, we really owe to him and the expeditions he has led.”

Similar in size to Australia or the United States, the Sahara is one of the most inhospitable and least explored spots on the globe. Throughout his work there, Kröpelin has tried to amass detailed knowledge of the scientific and cultural facets of his study areas before turning out results. Researchers who have travelled with Kröpelin describe him as a circumspect, hard-driving leader, equally at home in geomorphology, archaeology, human psychology and — when necessary — motor mechanics.

Over the past few years, Kröpelin’s work has helped to reveal how the Sahara transformed from a savannah more than 5,000 years ago to the desert it is today.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

More Than 300,000 Attend Al-Aqsa Mosque on the “Night of Power”

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Jerusalem, the West Bank and inside Israel headed to Al-Aqsa Mosque on Wednesday night to pray there during the blessed Night of Power (Lailatul Qadr), traditionally held to be on the 27th night of Ramadan. The number of worshippers in the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa was estimated to exceed 300,000 from all parts of Palestine except the besieged Gaza Strip, the Directorate of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in Jerusalem said.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Wine Festival Near Mosque Site in Israel Angers Muslims

Muslim groups expressed outrage on Thursday over plans to hold a wine festival in the Israeli city of Beer el-Sabe, which is due to take place next month in a courtyard outside a building formerly used as a mosque. The southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel has said the festival constitutes an “unforgiveable sin” and is “a harsh blow to Muslim sensitivities,” according to Israeli media reports. Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol. The Islamic Movement, (also known as the Islamic Movement in 48 Palestine) is a movement aiming to advocate Islam among Israeli Arabs and does not accept the existence of Israel. The group said that even the publicity for the wine festival is an insult to Muslim sensitivities.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Experts Skeptical of Saudi Plans for Women-Only Work Zone

Saudi Arabia is planning to estabilsh a work-zone to be staffed exclusively by women. With women facing many barriers to joining the country’s workforce, experts wonder if the zones will only reinforce segregation.

Women make up more than 60 percent of high school graduates in Saudi Arabia, but represent just 15 percent of the country’s workforce. Many of them go abroad to earn an advanced degree, only to return home unable to find a job.

Now Saudi Arabia is planning its first women-only work zone, an industrial area in the eastern city of Hofuf expected to provide 5,000 jobs. Yet experts are skeptical whether the plan will really provide a solution to female unemployment and underemployment in the kingdom.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Syrian Regime Should be ‘Smashed Fast’ — Fabius

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Friday called for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be “smashed fast” as he visited Turkey’s largest refugee camp near the Syrian border.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iraq Officials: Over 90 Dead in Thursday’s Attacks

IRAQI officials said that a blistering string of attacks across the country the previous day ultimately killed at least 93 people, as the extent of the violence grew clearer and mourners started to bury their dead.

Thursday’s attacks began early in the north of Iraq and ended with deadly bomb explosions near busy markets, restaurants and ice cream parlors shortly before midnight. It was Iraq’s deadliest day in more than three weeks. The attacks seemed meant to strike fear in Iraqis and undermine faith in the Shiite-led government’s security measures ahead of what was supposed to be a festive holiday weekend.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel’s Trigger Finger Grows Itchy Over the Nuclear Threat From Iran

by David Blair

How long will the Israelis wait before striking out at their sworn enemy?

Operation Opera went like clockwork. It took only 80 seconds for Saddam Hussein’s cherished ambition to build a nuclear weapon, over which his experts had laboured for six years, to be obliterated by Israeli strike aircraft swooping from a blazing summer sky. The destruction of Iraq’s Osirak reactor on June 7, 1981 was among the most successful preventive attacks in modern history. Just 16 bombs dropped by eight F-16s derailed Saddam’s nuclear programme, buying enough time for the dictator to seal his own downfall by occupying Kuwait and paving the way for the invasion of 2003. The history of the Middle East changed — and not a single Israeli aircraft was lost.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

OIC Summit: Saudi Arabia/Iran Signs of Detente

King Abdallah calls for dialogue, analysts cautiously optimistic

(by Alessandra Antonelli)(ANSAMed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 16 — The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit that suspended Syria was also the scene of an attempted rapprochement between the two major Gulf powers, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran, who back opposite sides in the conflict.

The Saudi monarchy, which hosted the Mecca summit, explicitly supports the Syrian opposition, while Iran backs the regime of fellow Shi’ite, President Bashar al-Assad.

Saudi Arabia made two gestures of detente, first by inviting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the 57-member summit, then by seating him on Saudi King Abdhallah Abel Aziz bin Saud’s left side (with Qatari Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani on his right.) This gesture was aimed at putting old grievances aside in the quest for a resolution to the Syrian crisis, Saudi political analysts said. “The Islamic nation is being dismembered, and this is causing bloodbaths among its peoples,” said King Abdallah in his keynote speech, in which he suggested founding a center for dialogue between Islamic sects.

Syria dominated the agenda, in a context of rising tensions between Iran and the oil monarchies, and sabre-rattling from Israel. On the table were Iran’s nuclear ambitions, its alleged interference in unrest in Bahrein — where a Sunni monarchy rules a majority Shi’ite population — and in eastern Saudi Arabia, also a Shi’ite majority region. Iran and the United Arab Emirates also voiced opposing claims to three small islands, strategically placed at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Despite Internal Tensions, Islamic Group Suspends Syria

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation suspended Syria to keep sectarian divisions in the Muslim world from deepening. The organization itself is already riven by divisions between Sunni and Shiite members. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s early Thursday (16.08.12) decision to suspend Syria’s membership in the 57-nation group appeared geared at presenting a united front against sectarianism in the Muslim world. But during the build-up to the vote in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, resistance from Iran and Iraq seemed to show how divided the body really is.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: King Abdullah Offers Vision and Action Plan in OIC Summit

The two-day extraordinary Islamic summit concluded early Thursday morning with a call for more unity among Muslim countries and the need to fight divisive tendencies.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), urged all member states to avoid using sectarianism for political upmanship.

During the opening session, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, the architect of this meeting, asked leaders to shoulder responsibilities and to work for the betterment of the Ummah. He also announced the setting up of a dialogue center aimed at promoting understanding and harmony among different Muslim sects. The center will be based in Riyadh. The Muslim world, said the king, was going through a period of “seditions and divisions.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UAE: Ramadan TV Show Stirs Argument Across Arab World

DUBAI — A television drama about the life of a seventh century Muslim ruler, Omar Ibn al-Khattab, is polarising opinion across the Arab world by challenging a widespread belief that actors should not depict Islam’s central figures. Conservative clerics denounce the series, which is running during the region’s busiest drama season, the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Scholars see an undesirable trend in television programming; the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates has publicly refused to watch it.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Feminist Band Pussy Riot Found Guilty Over Putin Protest

Three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been found guilty of hooliganism and inciting religious hatred after storming a cathedral in a protest against Vladimir Putin. Sentencing has yet to take place.

Judge Marina Syrova found the band guilty on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred on Friday.

Syrova said the three band members had “carefully planned” their action and that they had “crudely undermined the social order.”

Sentencing was expected to take place later on Friday. Prosecutors have demanded that the band members serve three years in a corrective labor facility.

Hundreds outside the court shouted “Freedom!” and “Russia without Putin” and police detained several protesters. Ahead of the verdict, security officials had put up barriers on streets around Moscow’s Khamovichesky court where the case was being heard.

The band performed the song “Punk Prayer,” wearing their trademark knitted balaclava and short skirts inside Moscow’s biggest cathedral, Christ the Savior, in February. In the chorus, they called for the Virgin Mary to “drive out Putin.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Moscow Court Finds Members of Pussy Riot Guilty

After an eight-day trial, a Moscow court found three members of protest punk band Pussy Riot guilty on Friday. The judge, who has received death threats, handed down the verdict as groups of protesters gathered outside the court. Supporters of the anti-Putin activists held rallies in various countries.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Russian Punk Band is Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison for Anti-Putin Stunt

A Moscow judge delivered a two-year prison sentence on Friday against three members of a punk band who staged a protest against Vladimir V. Putin in an Orthodox cathedral last February and whose jailing and trial on hooliganism charges have generated worldwide criticism of constraints on political speech in Russia.

[Return to headlines]

Russian and Polish Church Leaders Sign Appeal

Russian Orthodox and Polish Roman Catholic churches have made an unprecedented call for reconciliation. The churches also said religion should remain a driving force in both countries’ political arenas.

Russia’s Patriarch Kirill and Poland’s Archbishop Jozef Michalik, the head of Poland’s conference of bishops, made an unprecedented call for Polish-Russian reconciliation to put centuries of bloody history behind them.

The appeal was co-signed by both church leaders in a ceremony at Warsaw’s Royal Castle, in what was the first-ever visit by the head of Russia’s church to neighboring Poland.

“We appeal to the faithful to ask for forgiveness of harms, injustices, and all the evil we caused each other,” the appeal document said. “Every Pole should see a friend and brother in every Russian, and every Russian should see a friend and brother in every Pole.”

“We are convinced this is the first, most important step, towards restoring mutual trust without which there can be no real community or full reconciliation,” said the text.

In a vigorous stand against secularization, they also committed to “defending the right to religion being present in public life.”

Relations between the churches have suffered under the weight of history. For years, the Polish-born pope John Paul II dreamt of visiting Russia to forge reconciliation between Rome and Moscow prior to his death in 2005.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Russia’s Biggest Mosque to be Built in Moscow

A huge mosque able to accommodate up to 60,000 worshipers is to be built on the outskirts of Moscow. It’s estimated the city is home to up to two million Muslims. The project to construct the mosque and a cultural center has already been discussed with the capital’s mayor Sergey Sobyanin and is currently being looked at by Moscow’s Committee on Architecture and Urban Planning, writes Izvestia daily. The new mosque is expected to become one of the largest in the post-Soviet countries and the most spacious in Russia. The town planners have yet to find a suitable location for the massive structure. The Muslim community would prefer it to be located close to the Moscow Ring Road and not far from the Metro. A decision is expected to be announced in September.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Police Officer Kills 2 NATO Service Members

NATO says an Afghan police officer has killed two U.S. service members. NATO said the service members were killed Friday morning in western Farah province. The alliance said the attacker was shot and killed. Last week, six U.S. service members were killed by members of Afghan security forces or gunmen wearing their uniforms in two separate attacks. More than 33 coalition service members have been killed this year in so-called “green-on-blue” attacks. “Green on blue” is a reference to the color of Afghan and NATO uniforms.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: Taliban Leader Issues an ‘Unmistakable Message of Death’

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says the Taliban’s reclusive leader has issued “an unmistakable message of death, hate and hopelessness” for Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of Ramadan, the holy fasting month. U.S. General John Allen said Friday Mullah Omar’s Eid message focused on insurgent operations, revenge, death and lies. Allen said “normal members of the faithful” expect a message of congratulations at the end of the Ramadan. Omar boasted in his statement that his fighters have successfully infiltrated Afghan security forces to mount rogue shootings of foreign troops, killing more than 33 soldiers this year. The one-eyed Taliban leader urged his fighters to avoid civilian deaths in the attacks. Allen said Omar has repeated “the same insane language of previous years.” The U.S. general said “while Omar rests comfortably from afar, he continues to send young brain-washed men to carry out attacks in a fruitless cause.” Omar is reported to live in Pakistan.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Hundreds of Indian Muslims Stage Anti-Israeli Rally in New Delhi

New Delhi, Aug 17, IRNA — Hundreds of Indian Muslims on the occasion of International Quds Day on Friday staged a rally against Israel’s illegal occupation of al-Aqsa Mosque, at Jantar Mantar in Central Delhi.

Expressing solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine, Indian Muslims, mainly Shias today sent a clear message of condemnation to the Zionist Regime and its allies for the atrocities they have committed against the Palestinians and illegal occupation of the al-Aqsa Mosque.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Indian Premier Seeks to Cool Panic as Assamese Migrants Flee

India’s prime minister has urged calm as Assamese internal migrants flee cities across the country. Amid ethnic violence in their home state, rumors are swirling that they will be targeted by vengeful Muslim gangs.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Assamese migrants that they were safe, with thousands fleeing major population centers including Mumbai and Bangalore.

Northeastern Indians coming mainly from the state of Assam have been taking flight after rumors of targeted violence against them began to circulate by text message and social media. On Friday, the Indian government banned bulk text messages — to five or more recipients — for the next 15 days.

German news agency dpa cited one member of parliament, Ninong Ering, as saying some 20,000 people had left their homes or were getting ready to do so.

Three weeks of clashes between members of Assam’s Bodo tribal community and Muslims have claimed 80 lives. A further 400,000 people have been displaced.

“What is at stake is the unity and integrity of our country. What is at stake is communal harmony,” Prime Minister Singh told the upper house of parliament.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Indian PM Moves to Cool Panic as Thousands Flee Cities

(Reuters) — Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured migrants from the northeast of the country that they were safe as thousands fled Mumbai, Bangalore and other cities on Friday, fearing a backlash from violence against Muslims in Assam.

Railway authorities have laid on extra trains from Bangalore and other cities for the two-day journey back to Assam, a north-eastern state famous for its tea plantations and oilfields. Some media reports said that by Friday as many as 15,000 had left cities in the south and west.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

NATO Moves to Thwart Taliban Infiltration of Afghan Police and Army

Nato has adopted a set of security screening measures to thwart Taliban infiltration of the Afghan police and army, the senior British general in Kabul has admitted.

Acknowleging for the first time that so-called “green on blue” attacks were being orchestrated by the insurgents, Lt Gen Adrian Bradshaw said Nato was directly working to stop infiltration. “A small amount can be directly attributed to insurgent infiltration or influence,” the deputy commander of Nato troops said. “Of course we are very alive to that threat.

“When you look at it from the insurgent’s point of view why wouldn’t they try and attack us any way they can?” So far this year 37 Nato soldiers have been killed in 29 attacks, compared to 21 incidents with 35 fatalities for all of last year. Up to 300 extra specialist counter intelligence personnel have been drafted into the Afghan army.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Two Americans Killed by Afghan Recruit in ‘Green on Blue’ Assault

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two American Special Forces members were shot to death on Friday by a new Afghan local police recruit they were training at a small outpost in western Afghanistan. In a second “green on blue” attack on Friday, in the south, an Afghan security force member turned his weapon on other international service personnel, wounding two American soldiers, according to NATO and Afghan officials. The two American service members who died were part of a Special Operations team working with local police in Farah Province in the west of Afghanistan, according to a NATO official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the attack.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Two American Soldiers Killed by Afghan Ally Hours After Taliban Leader Boasts of “Green on Blue” Threat

A fighter in an Afghan local defence militia opened fire on his American allies and killed two in the latest example of the growing insider threat to Nato forces.

The killing came just hours after a message purporting to be from Mullah Mohammad Omar, fugitive leader of the Taliban, boasted the insurgents had widely infiltrated the Afghan forces to launch such attacks. It was the sixth similar incident in the country in the past fortnight. Nato and Afghan commanders have tightened security and vetting to try and contain the threat. A newly recruited member of the Afghan Local Police, a village defence force trained by international forces, opened fire in Farah province when he was given a weapon for a training session. American and Afghan forces shot back and killed him. Hours later an Afghan army soldier fired on American troops in Kandahar, wounding two. At least 37 foreign troops have been killed in such attacks this year alone. Seven were British.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

Navigating East Asian Waters Poses Political Challenges

The territorial disputes over barren mini-islands in East Asian waters aren’t going away as the recent clash between China and Japan clearly shows. There’s plenty at stake: oil, gas, fish — and national pride.

If you’re having trouble keeping track of the disputes among several nations staking claims to waters and island groups in the East and South China Seas, you’re hardly alone.

Since early April, China and the Philippines have been locked in a standoff at the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, claiming to own a string of inlets there.

Now China and Japan are butting heads over a chain of islands in the East China Sea, known as Diaoya in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Secret Tomb of China’s 1st Emperor: Will We Ever See Inside?

Buried deep under a hill in central China, surrounded by an underground moat of poisonous mercury, lies an entombed emperor who’s been undisturbed for more than two millennia.

The tomb holds the secrets of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who died on Sept. 10, 210 B.C., after conquering six warring states to create the first unified nation of China.

The answers to a number of historical mysteries may lie buried inside that tomb, but whether modern people will ever see inside this mausoleum depends not just on the Chinese government, but on science.

“The big hill, where the emperor is buried — nobody’s been in there,” said archaeologist Kristin Romey, curatorial consultant for the Terracotta Warrior exhibition at New York City’s Discovery Times Square. “Partly it’s out of respect for the elders, but they also realize that nobody in the world right now has the technology to properly go in and excavate it.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Scientific Explanation of Psychopathy Cuts Jail Time

Serial sex offender Raymond Henry Garland, considered one of Australia’s most dangerous sexual predators, was officially diagnosed a psychopath last week. Psychiatrist Joan Lawrence told the Brisbane District Court that Garland had an “almost 100 per cent chance of violent reoffending.” Garland has been dealt four indefinite sentences — but research out today suggests that biological evidence of psychopathy could alter the length of such sentences.

Brain scans and genetic tests are becoming a common feature of courtroom battles, as biological evidence is increasingly used to explain a person’s criminal behaviour. For example, last year an Italian woman convicted of murdering her sister had her lifetime sentence reduced to 20 years on the basis of brain and genetic tests, which provided biological explanations for her aggressive behaviour.

But does the inclusion of such evidence affect the sentencing of psychopaths — people with a disorder currently thought to be untreatable? Any evidence could act as a double-edged sword, says James Tabery at the University of Utah. A so-called biomechanism to explain psychopathic behaviour could be used to argue that a person is less culpable for their actions, reducing their sentence. On the other hand, the defendant could be seen as more likely to reoffend and receive a longer sentence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

South African Police Say They Were Forced to Fire on Striking Miners, Killing 34

South Africa’s police were forced to open fire on striking miners with live rounds because they were charged by armed men and compelled to “defend themselves”, the national police chief said on Friday.

Riah Phiyega said that 34 miners were killed on Thursday and another 78 wounded when her officers used “maximum force” near Marikana mine, owned by Lonmin, the London-listed company. They did so when a gang of “heavily armed” miners rushed towards them, armed with firearms as well as clubs and machetes. “Police retreated and were forced to use maximum force to defend themselves,” said Ms Phiyega. South Africans have been appalled by the violence, which summons memories of the apartheid era and has been compared with the Sharpeville massacre of 1960. But Ms Phiyega said: “This is no time for blaming, this is no time for finger-pointing. This is a time for us to mourn the sad and dark moment that we experienced as a country.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Netherlands: Mayors Hope New Government Will End Afghan Asylum Stalemate

The next government must take speedy action to end the uncertainty surrounding some 150 Afghan asylum seekers who have been officially branded as war criminals, according to mayors in towns where the men are living.

Some 40 mayors have grouped together to campaign for change. ‘It is time to resolve this painful issue,’ Els Boot, mayor of Giessenlanden, says in Friday’s Trouw.

The men, who have lived in the Netherlands for more than 10 years, are classed as war criminals by the immigration service because they worked for the Afghan security service during Communist rule. This means they are not eligible for asylum.


However, the men have been categorised as war criminals without any individual assessment and this must now change, the mayors say. ‘In many cases there is no reason to assume involvement in war crimes,’ Boot said. ‘If there is no evidence, people should be given a residency permit.’

Three Afghan men are currently facing deportation although their families have been told they can probably stay. Immigration minister Gerd Leers has refused to reconsider their cases.

Boot hit the headlines earlier this year when she ordered the police not to cooperate with the deportation of an Afghan man living in Giessenlanden.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Obamacare Mandate: Sterilize 15-Year-Old Girls for Free — Without Parental Consent

Thanks to an Obamacare regulation that took effect on Aug. 1, health care plans in Oregon will now be required to provide free sterilizations to 15-year-old girls even if the parents of those girls do not consent to the procedure.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finalized the regulation earlier this year.

It says that all health care plans in the United States — except those provided by actual houses of worship organized under the section of the Internal Revenue Code reserved for churches per se — must provide coverage, without cost-sharing, for sterilizations and all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives to “all women with reproductive capacity.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

How soon will euthanasia follow?