Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121019

Financial Crisis
»Italian Bond Sale Sets Record at Almost 18 Billion Euro
»Rajoy Downplays Likelihood of Bailout Request, Spreads Down
»Single EU Bank Supervisor ‘Not Needed’, Monti Says
»Buttered Popcorn Flavoring Linked to Alzheimer’s
»Caroline Glick: Libya: Jordan and Obama’s Guiding Lights
»It’s About “Perception Management, “ Stupid
»Martian Genome: Is There DNA on the Red Planet?
»Minneapolis Man Found Guilty of Aiding Somalia Terrorist Group
»NatGeo TV on Terror Alert
»U.S. Congress Introduces Bill Ordering FEMA to Conduct ‘Mass Fatality Planning’
Europe and the EU
»Atom Smasher Won’t Create Planet-Eating Black Hole, Court Says
»Berlin Plans Prayer House for Three Religions
»Cardinal Ruini Says Press Went Awry Reporting Vatileaks Case
»David Cameron Snubs Chance to Accept Nobel Peace Prize Alongside Fellow EU Leaders
»EU Poster Places Hammer and Sickle Emblem Above Christian Cross and Symbols of Other Religions
»European Satellite to Seek Nearby Super-Earth Planets in 2017
»France Cut Merah Spying Months Before Rampage
»Honing Anti-Semitism in France and Sweden
»Italy: Berlusconi Defends Self in Ruby Sex Trial
»Monti Relaunches Rome Summit Against Eurosceptics
»The Nobel Peace Prize to the EU: Only Sixty Years Overdue
»UK: 1,600 Victims a Day of Street Crime
»UK: Businessman Who Marched Employee to Police With ‘Thief’ Sign Around His Neck Faces Bankruptcy
»UK: Police Probe After BNP Leader Nick Griffin Post Address of Gay Couple in B&B Row on Twitter and Threatens to Bring ‘Drama’ To Their Door
»UK: South Yorkshire Police ‘Must Get a Grip’ On Child Abuse
»Unlocking the Mysteries of Petra
»You Thought the Whole ‘EUSSR’ Thing Was Over the Top? Have a Look at This Poster
North Africa
»The Jihad and Christopher Stevens, Pt. 2
»The Number One Enemy of the Arabs? Russia
»Tunisia: Ennahdha Opposer Lynched, Tension in the Country
Israel and the Palestinians
»Israel: Gethsemane Olive Branches Are 900 Years Old But DNA Older
Middle East
»Libya, Jordan and Obama’s Guiding Lights
»Qatar Designs a Law Against Offending Religions
»‘Richard of Arabia’ German Gardener Helps Saudi Desert Bloom
»UAE: British Woman and Irish Man Plead Not Guilty to Dubai Taxi Sex
»Pope Supports Russian Orthodox Church on Pussy Riot Case
South Asia
»Afghan Police Arrest Four People After They ‘Beheaded Woman Who Refused to Become a Prostitute’
Far East
»Scientists Read Dreams
Latin America
»Archaeologists Find 50 Skulls in Mexican Aztec Temple
Culture Wars
»Christian’s Salary Cut Because He Criticised Gay Marriage on Facebook: Punishment Over ‘Homophobic’ Comments Could Cost Him £60,000
»The Next Big Thing in Sex-Ed: The Evil of Heterosexism
»Cassette Tapes Are the Future of Big Data Storage

Financial Crisis

Italian Bond Sale Sets Record at Almost 18 Billion Euro

Four-day operation aimed at retail investors

(ANSA) — Rome, October 18 — Italy’s Treasury set something of a record Thursday, selling almost 18 billion euros’ worth of bonds over the week — the most ever in a single operation.

In Thursday’s session alone, the Treasury sold 7.84 billion euros in inflation-indexed bonds that will mature in four years.

The new bonds, aimed at retail customers, were sold in four sessions over the week, beginning with 2.5 billion euros sold on Monday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Rajoy Downplays Likelihood of Bailout Request, Spreads Down

‘Request for help is mine to make if necessary’ says Spain PM

(ANSA) — Brussels, October 19 — Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy upset investors Friday by indicating at a European Union summit his country would not ask for a bailout anytime soon. “My colleagues said something very reasonable, which is that a request for help is mine to make, if and when it is necessary,” he said. The spread between Italian 10-year bonds and the German benchmark bund climbed after his remarks to 318 points, reversing a downward trend that was approaching 300 in early trading. The equivalent Spanish spread, an important indicator of investor faith in the country’s ability to weather the euro crisis, climbed four points to 375.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Single EU Bank Supervisor ‘Not Needed’, Monti Says

Italian PM eases Franco-German row

(ANSA) — Brussels, October 19 — A single supervisor for the European banking system is not needed, Italian Premier Mario Monti said Thursday night, easing an EU summit row between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

The summit agreed to set aside the issue of the supervisor, advocated by Merkel to France’s chagrin, and instead push forward with banking union, to be set up by the end of the year.

Germany and other northean European countries still want more time than that to organise a banking union.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Buttered Popcorn Flavoring Linked to Alzheimer’s

If you like to snack on the occasional bag of microwave popcorn, it’s probably the buttery flavoring that you crave.

This comes from an artificial flavoring called diacetyl, which is a natural byproduct of fermentation found in butter, beer and vinegar… and also a chemical made synthetically by food companies because it gives foods that irresistible buttery flavor and aroma.

Many companies who manufacture microwave popcorn have already stopped using the synthetic diacetyl because it’s been linked to lung damage in people who work in their factories.

But now a new study at the University of Minnesota shows that diacetyl is not only a risk to workers’ lungs… it may also pose a risk to your brain.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: Libya: Jordan and Obama’s Guiding Lights

The operational, intelligence and political fiascos that led to and followed the September 11 jihadist assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, all derive from the same problem. That problem is the failure of US President Barack Obama’s conceptual framework for understanding the Middle East.

The Islamic revolutionary wave sweeping across the Arab world has rent asunder the foundations of the US alliance system in the Middle East. But due to Obama’s ideological commitment to an anti-American conceptual framework for understanding Middle Eastern politics, his administration cannot see what is happening.

That framework places the blame for all or most of the pathologies of the Muslim world on the US and Israel.

What Obama and his advisers can see is that there are many people who disagree with them. And so they adopted a policy of delegitimizing, discrediting and silencing their opponents. To this end, his administration has purged the US federal government’s lexicon of all terms that are necessary to describe reality.

“Jihad,” “Islamist,” “radical Islam,” “Islamic terrorism” and similar phrases have all been banned. The study of Islamist doctrine by government officials has been outlawed.

The latest casualty of this policy was an instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

It’s About “Perception Management, “ Stupid

An editorial in the Washington Times shocked a many readers last week when it was revealed that the Pentagon is hawking an online course entitled “Power and Privilege,” compliments of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, a taxpayer-funded entity. The curricular theme, according to the editorial, was that “‘the American dream’ is simply a manufactured ideology used to keep the underclass in its place; [that it] is part of the ‘myth of meritocracy’.”

In other words, the course is the same recycled Marxist, liberation theology we’ve heard since the Weathermen and original Black Panther Party of the 1960s and 70s. The only surprise—for those who haven’t logged onto the DOD’s website recently—is that it’s coming out of the Pentagon.

Most citizens, even in this modern era of career-altering political correctness, assume that the military is one place that is free of such extremism, that men and women of all ethnicities share foxholes in battle and provide each other with moral support through tough assignments overseas and harsh training exercises at home.

Alas, America’s military is no longer the safe haven from activism and zealotry we have been conditioned over the years to imagine. The editorial cited “[h]istorian and documentary filmmaker David A. Stein,” who logged onto the “Power and Privilege” course and got an eye-popping whammy—so much so that he posted slides from his “find” on the Republican Party Animals website.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Martian Genome: Is There DNA on the Red Planet?

Craig Venter helped crack the human genome, created the first synthetic cell and has scoured the sea for novel genomes. Now he has set his sights on Mars.

Earlier this week at the Wired Health Conference in New York, he outlined plans to send a robotically controlled genome-sequencing unit, or “biological teleporter”, to the Red Planet in order to sequence the genome of alien life that may be there. He’s not the first to suggest doing this. Do any of these missions stand a chance?

How will Venter’s scheme work?

In short, he wants to send machinery to Mars that can robotically sift through Martian soil to isolate any microbes it contains, sequence their DNA and then beam the digitised results back to Earth. These would be used to create a synthetic version of the Martian genome, which could then be used to recreate Martian life on Earth — all without having to deal with the difficulties of actually bringing the sample back.

How far along are the plans?

Venter has been scooping DNA from seawater for a number of years, with some interesting results. At Wired Health, he said that similar technologies are beginning to be tested at a Mars-like site in the Mojave Desert in California, as a prelude to a Martian mission. The next planned landing is NASA’s InSight mission, scheduled to launch in 2016.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Minneapolis Man Found Guilty of Aiding Somalia Terrorist Group

Minneapolis man convicted of helping Al-Shabab recruit fighters.

A one-time janitor at a Minneapolis mosque was found guilty Thursday of conspiring to help a terrorist group recruit young Minnesota men for a holy war in their native Somalia.

A federal jury in Minneapolis deliberated about 8 1/2 hours before convicting Mahamud Said Omar, 46, in a case that provided the clearest picture to date of a worldwide investigation into the recruiting of at least 20 young men to fight in Somalia with Al-Shabab, a U.S.-designated terror group.

Omar, of Minneapolis, rocked gently in his seat and studied the jurors dispassionately as the verdict was read.

Guilty on count one: conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Guilty on count two: providing material support to terrorists. Guilty on count three: conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, namely, the Islamist group Al-Shabab. Guilty on count four: providing material support to Al-Shabab.

Each of those charges carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. Omar swallowed hard in advance of the last verdict, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison: guilty of conspiring to kill or maim people.

The reading of the verdict took just five minutes. Omar, dressed in a black sports coat and blue pinstriped shirt, shook it off quickly. As deputies led him from the courtroom, he turned to his family members, smiled broadly and raised both hands over his head, as if declaring victory.

“We’re going to go lick our wounds,” said Jon Hopeman, one of Omar’s three attorneys. He said Omar would appeal.

The government withheld considerable information it had developed under Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act wiretaps, “so we’re going to look at that,” Hopeman said.

The importance of the trial was underscored by the presence of the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, B. Todd Jones, and many of his top prosecutors, investigators and other federal employees who wedged hip to shoulder in the gallery.

“Obviously, we’re very pleased about the verdict,” Jones said outside of the U.S. District Court building.

‘Eyes of the world’ on case

For several years, Jones said, many in the Twin Cities have been curious to know about “Operation Rhino,” the government’s investigation into a pipeline of more than 20 men who were recruited to go fight for Al-Shabab in Somalia. He said the “eyes of the world” were focused on the trial, which allowed the government to showcase the vast amount of work done by the FBI and the Minnesota Joint Terrorism Task Force.

“It is absolutely what we were hoping for,” said E.K. Wilson, an FBI supervisory special agent in Minneapolis who was involved in the investigation. “We’re glad that this case was able to play out in the federal court system and we firmly believe it is a very significant milestone in the progress of the overall Operation Rhino.”

“We’re in essence very relieved that all of this information is out there,” Jones said.

The United States values religious freedom, he said, “but there are some lines that you just cannot cross. One of those lines is, you cannot provide material support to a designated terrorist organization like Al-Shabab, and if you choose to do that, there are going to be some serious consequences.”

Omar’s family members declined to comment, referring questions to community activist Omar Jamal. “They were not expecting this,” he said. “They are a little bit shocked.”

Jamal said the trial revealed many things that were not known to the community about Al-Shabab’s recruiting efforts in Minnesota, but he said many questions remain.

“The most important thing is, this is not the end of the game,” Jamal said. “The people responsible for ruining the lives of these kids are still out there … somewhere.”

On that, he and government prosecutors agreed.

“Some folks are still fugitives … and there are still ongoing investigations,” Jones said. “This isn’t the end.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty, the ever-serious lead prosecutor, declined to comment on testimony that came out in the trial about some Minnesota women who sent money to Somalia so the Minnesota men could buy guns. That would get into an ongoing investigation, he said.

Docherty said he hopes the publicity about the trial will help bring an end to the Al-Shabab pipeline.

Ralph Boelter, former head of the Minneapolis FBI office who was involved in the case as it first emerged, said it was a thorough investigation. “The U.S. attorneys did their part, presented their case very effectively. It’s gratifying but it’s not surprising at the same time.”

One mother: ‘I’m happy’

Abayte Ahmed, whose 19-year-old son left to fight with Al-Shabab and was killed in Somalia, said she was pleased by the verdict. “I’m happy,” she said. She praised the FBI for its hard work. She testified for the government about how her son, Jamal Aweys Sheikh Bana, disappeared one morning never to return. Since that day, she has been living in pain, she said. “I’m not feeling well, for years now. I’m not strong. He was my first son. He was a very smart boy. I don’t know this man [who] brainwashed my son.”

Abdirizak Bihi, whose teenage nephew was among the Minneapolis recruits and is believed to have died in Somalia, also praised the verdict. “I feel great,” he said. “I can sleep a full sleep tonight for the first time in four years.”

The trial began Oct. 1 and ended after 10 days of testimony from government witnesses who included three former Al-Shabab recruits and another supporter who pleaded guilty in the case and cooperated with the government in hopes of lighter sentences. Family members of some of the Minnesota recruits also testified, including the sister of the first known American suicide bomber, Shirwa Ahmed, of Minneapolis.

“I don’t think that there is another case in the country you can point to where four cooperating witnesses in a terror investigation have testified,” said W. Anders Folk, the former lead prosecutor in the case who now is a shareholder with Leonard Street and Deinard in Minneapolis.

Prosecutors said Omar made travel arrangements and supplied cash to some of the men who joined Al-Shabab.

“I think the fact that there is now somebody who’s been convicted who’s not just a foot soldier, but who’s also a recruiter and a financier, should indicate that Al-Shabab’s actions in Somalia have clearly impacted folks in the United States,” Folk said.

“They’re looking for foot soldiers. They’re looking for financiers. They’re looking for facilitators. And I think that’s what Mahamoud Said Omar was, a kind of facilitator,” he said. “I think the verdict really reflects that juries are going to hold people accountable for whatever kind of role folks in the United States decide to play on behalf of Al-Shabab.”

The jury of eight women and four men saw two Al-Shabab propaganda videos. One showed some of the Minnesota men at a training camp learning to use AK-47 assault rifles, belt-fed machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The other showed an ambush on Ethiopian troops who had been asked by the Transitional National Government to help stabilize the country after more than two decades of civil war.

But perhaps the most damning evidence in the case came from Omar himself, as reported by an FBI agent who interviewed him in jail in the Netherlands, and in conversations captured in wiretap recordings with some of the Al-Shabab recruits.

‘A ton of information’

Docherty said the most difficult part of the case was distilling down the “amazing amount of hard work” by the FBI and the terrorism task force to something that could be presented to the jury. “There was literally a ton of information,” he said.

Docherty said he and three other prosecutors — William Narus, of the Department of Justice, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles Kovats Jr. and LeeAnn Bell — assembled the evidence one piece at a time and then connected the dots.

It clearly worked. Jurors asked during their deliberations Thursday if they could see a chart prosecutors had prepared showing Omar’s phone contacts with four Minnesota men sequenced against their travel records to Somalia. The charts showed that Omar’s contacts spiked after Shirwa Ahmed of Minneapolis blew himself up in one of five coordinated bombings on Oct. 29, 2008, and continued through the men’s departures over the next several days. Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis denied the motion because the chart had not been admitted as evidence, and told the jurors to rely on their memory.

Omar’s defense team did not call any witnesses. They argued that he was a simple, part-time janitor at the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center in Minneapolis when the alleged conspiracy took off in 2007 and got caught up in the case by accident.

           — Hat tip: RE[Return to headlines]

NatGeo TV on Terror Alert

The National Geographic Channel has beefed up security at its Washington headquarters after being “bombarded” by threats over its upcoming film, “SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden,” a source said yesterday.

The movie has prompted enough threats from what one source called “Muslim extremist groups” that the network felt it had to take the action.

“They have been bombarded with phone calls and blog posts, saying that anyone airing a film like this is asking for trouble,” the source added.

“Enough threats have come in that the network is on higher security alert. They have a huge public building, with a museum and 1,600 people working.”

The network was already receiving sharp criticism for its decision to debut the feature-length TV movie Nov. 4, two days before the presidential election. Critics charged the timing was calculated to boost President Obama’s campaign.

The film’s distributor is staunch Obama supporter Harvey Weinstein. The channel, also called NatGeo, denied that accusations.

A rep for National Geographic said only that the channel will air the film “no matter what,” adding, “We are big believers in the First Amendment.”

A source told The Post that the reaction is far from what NatGeo is used to.

“They’ve never seen such a dramatic reaction. It’s not like there’s outrage over airing a documentary on the Grand Canyon,” the source said.

           — Hat tip: LS[Return to headlines]

U.S. Congress Introduces Bill Ordering FEMA to Conduct ‘Mass Fatality Planning’

(NaturalNews) While millions of Americans were busy watching the elephant puppet battle the ass puppet at the latest political circus, the United States Congress quietly introduced a new piece of legislation ordering the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to begin preparing for mass casualties throughout the country.

House Resolution 6566, also known as the Mass Fatality Planning and Religious Considerations Act, would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to mandate that FEMA immediately begin conducting “mass fatality planning” in preparation for a major event or series of events that may kill off untold numbers of people.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Atom Smasher Won’t Create Planet-Eating Black Hole, Court Says

A woman concerned that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will create black holes and destroy the Earth lost a court appeal to shut the atom smasher down on Tuesday. According to Phys Org, a higher administrative court in Muenster, Germany, rejected the German citizen’s claims that the LHC, as it is known, will destroy the planet. The woman’s attempts have also been rejected by a court in Switzerland.

“In view of the CERN safety reports for the years 2003 and 2008, a hazard of the proton accelerator LHC according to the state of science is impossible,” writes the Justice Ministry of north Rine-Westphalia, translated from German by Google. (The LHC is located at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN.)

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Berlin Plans Prayer House for Three Religions

A house of prayer and learning for Jews, Muslims and Christians is planned for Petriplatz in Berlin. The design is set and hopes are high, but a building alone can’t bring understanding, reminds the architect.

Every day, thousands of cars whizz by along the six-lane street parallel to Petriplatz in Berlin’s central Mitte district. It is an inhospitable place, a veritable no-man’s land between yesterday and tomorrow.

But that could all change. A house of prayer and learning with a church, a synagogue and a mosque all under one roof is planned for the site.

To launch the project, the Jewish Community of Berlin, the Abraham Geiger College Potsdam, the Forum for Intercultural Dialogue and the Evangelical Church Association St. Petri-St. Marien founded an official association called The House of Prayer and Learning at Petriplatz Berlin.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Cardinal Ruini Says Press Went Awry Reporting Vatileaks Case

Pope’s butler case ‘mainly about bad journalism’

(ANSA) — Vatican City, October 18 — The former president of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) said Thursday the press went awry in its depiction of the so-called ‘VatiLeaks’ case of leaked sensitive Church documents. “Much was emphasized well beyond what actually happened,” Cardinal Camillo Ruini told RAI radio.

“Very little (happened) in the way that newspapers presented it,” Ruini said.

According to his account, that is why the trial of the pope’s ex-butler Paolo Gabriele, who was convicted of stealing and leaking Popoe Benedict XVI’s confidential papers to the press, was done in a public manner. “To give a more realistic idea of what truly occurred,” he said. Ruini downplayed the importance of the leaks themselves and emphasized the “disrespectful” way the information was obtained.

“There’s no need to have fear” of journalistic inquiries into the Vatican and the Catholic Church, he said, but “one can ask those who do it to go about it correctly. “If they do it correctly there’s no harm done”. Ruini is also pope’s former vicar for the Roman diocese. The pope’s former butler was sentenced to 18 months in jail earlier this month. Vatican watchers say he is likely to be pardoned by the pope.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

David Cameron Snubs Chance to Accept Nobel Peace Prize Alongside Fellow EU Leaders

David Cameron last night snubbed an invitation to collect the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the EU.

Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, called on all 27 EU leaders to fly to Oslo and pick up the award, which was given to the bloc last week.

He put a message on Twitter to say: ‘To mark this joyful occasion, I hope all EU heads of state or government will be able to join celebrations in Oslo in December.’

But within an hour of the invitation going out, a spokesman for Mr Cameron said it was ‘unlikely’ he would be at the ceremony on 10 December.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

EU Poster Places Hammer and Sickle Emblem Above Christian Cross and Symbols of Other Religions

by Tim Montgomerie

Over on his blog Dan Hannan MEP is rightly angry but not lost for words:

“For three generations, the badge of the Soviet revolution meant poverty, slavery, torture and death. It adorned the caps of the chekas who came in the night. It opened and closed the propaganda films which hid the famines. It advertised the people’s courts where victims of purges and show-trials were condemned. It fluttered over the re-education camps and the gulags. For hundreds of millions of Europeans, it was a symbol of foreign occupation. Hungary, Lithuania and Moldova have banned its use, and various former communist countries want it to be treated in the same way as Nazi insignia. Yet here it sits on a poster in the European Commission, advertising the moral deafness of its author (I hope that’s what it is, rather than lingering nostalgia).”

Communism was not as nakedly racist or evil as Nazism but it was at least as murderous. More people have died under communist tyranny than Nazi tyranny. Many of today’s EU states suffered horribly under communism. It is repugnant than an EU poster should bear the Soviet Union’s symbol.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

European Satellite to Seek Nearby Super-Earth Planets in 2017

The European Space Agency will launch a new satellite in 2017 to study super-Earths and other large alien planets orbiting nearby stars, agency officials announced Friday (Oct. 19).

The small CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite, called Cheops for short, will orbit the Earth at an altitude of about 500 miles (800 kilometers) and search for new exoplanets around nearby bright stars already known to harbor alien planets, ESA officials said.

“By concentrating on specific known exoplanet host stars, Cheops will enable scientists to conduct comparative studies of planets down to the mass of Earth with a precision that simply cannot be achieved from the ground,” Alvaro Giménez-Cañete, the ESA’s director of Science and Robotic Exploration, said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France Cut Merah Spying Months Before Rampage

Documents by French agency show surveillance of gunman who killed 4 Jews was curtailed despite evidence of extremism.

French intelligence services downgraded an investigation of Mohamed Merah just five months before he opened fire at a crowd of parents and children outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, killing four, AFP reported Friday citing leaked intelligence documents.

According to the French DCRI domestic intelligence service reports, seen by AFP, Merah had been under surveillance since 2006, and was identified as a “privileged target” at the beginning of 2011 upon his return to France in from a trip to Afghanistan.

DCRI agents intercepted Merah in 2011 after the Frenchman returned from a trip to Pakistan. Despite evidence that Merah had been in regular contact with “the radical Islamist movement in Toulouse,” was displaying “paranoid behavior,” and that he was receiving funds from extremists, the French agency concluded that Merah’s surveillance could be curtailed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Honing Anti-Semitism in France and Sweden

“Blame the Victim”

by Shoshana Bryen

A wave of anti-Jewish violence has taken place in France and Sweden over the past few weeks. The difference in government response is notable, and yet there is something similarly disquieting about their actions. The Swedish government alternately denies the problem, blames the Jews and blames Israel — it recently funded a book on Israeli “apartheid.” The French are more complicated. French counter-terror police have been good at tracking domestic radical Islamists, but the government has made overtly anti-Israel gestures that appear to be nothing so much as “compensation” to its increasingly angry and radical Muslim community and to the Arab world.

For the 600 Jews of Malmo, living alongside 60,000 Muslims, Jewish life has been difficult for years, with harassment of individuals and vandalism of the cemetery and synagogue. What makes it harder is a city administration that believes the Jews are asking for it. In a 2010 interview, Mayor Ilmar Reepalu told Skanska Dagbladet, [Jews] “have the possibility to affect the way they are seen by society,” urging the community to “distance itself” from Israel. “Instead, the community chose to hold a pro-Israel demonstration,” he said, adding that such a move “may convey the wrong message to others.” He said, “There haven’t been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews from the city want to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmo.”

Presented with information that Jews had, indeed, been attacked in Malmo, the mayor retreated just a step and said, “We accept neither Zionism nor anti-Semitism or other forms of ethnic discrimination.” Zionism thus defined becomes the reason people in Malmo attack Jews — who should be distancing themselves from “ethnic discrimination” rather than supporting Israel, according to Repaalu.

This may be why the Jewish community in Malmo, not the government, pays nearly all the cost of its own protection. The Simon Weisenthal Center called it a “Jew tax.” Even then, according to the community president, Swedish authorities twice refused permission to install security cameras outside the Jewish community…

[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Defends Self in Ruby Sex Trial

Ex-premier denies having ‘intimate relations of any kind’

(ANSA) — Milan, October 19 — Ex-Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi on Friday defended himself before a Milan court against charges of allegedly having sex with an underage prostitute called Ruby and using his influence to cover it up while claiming she was the niece of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

“I never had intimate relations of any kind,” he said in a spontaneous declaration, adding he had been “convinced” the Moroccan ex-runaway and former belly dancer, whose real name is Karima El Mahroug, had been 24 and not 17 at the time.

He said he had been led to believe Ruby was related to the ex-Egyptian president during an official meeting of the two leaders and had simply wanted to avert a diplomatic incident by having her sprung from a Milan police station in May 2010.

He added that he had never put pressure on police officials in Milan.

Berlusconi told the court that when he found out that Ruby was Moroccan and underage he was “left speechless”, realising that she had created a false identity possibly to cover up economic difficulties. Prosecutors believe Berlusconi had sex with 33 prostitutes at his villa in Arcore near Milan over the course of several months.

“I can rule out with absolute certainty that there have never been scenes of a sexual nature” at Arcore, said the ex-premier. “Many fantasic tales have been told about the evenings at my private residence,” he continued, saying they were just “dinners in a large dining hall where I monopolised the attention by singing, talking about sport, politics, gossip” and that he had never paid for sex with his female guests. He described the charges as a “monstrous act of defamation towards me and my guests”.

Berlusconi also told the court that he would have preferred to be questioned rather than to make a spontaneous declaration but that 20 years of accusations by Milan judges had “prevented me from doing so”.

The ex-premier, who has been convicted in a number of graft cases but always seen them overturned either on appeal or because of law changes, has consistently said he is the victim of a witch hunt by some left-leaning magistrates.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Monti Relaunches Rome Summit Against Eurosceptics

Extraordinary meeting to combat rising anti-euro feeling

(ANSA) — Brussels, October 19 — Italian Premier Mario Monti on Friday relaunched the idea of an extraordinary European Union summit in Rome to fight growing Euroskepticism fueled by the euro debt crisis.

Monti repeated the need for such an event, amid mounting anti-euro sentiment in several crisis-affected countries, on the second and last day of an EU summit in Brussels.

The premier first floated the idea at a symposium last month at Cernobbio, a northern Italian venue for international political and business discussions, and was immediately backed by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. Monti would like to hold the summit on Rome’s Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio), the ancient and modern seat of Roman government, where the EU’s founding Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The Nobel Peace Prize to the EU: Only Sixty Years Overdue

Margriet Krijtenburg

Why did it take more than six decades to recognize how good European unification has been for Europe? This year’s Nobel Peace Prize comes at an auspicious moment: precisely when Europe seems to be reduced to Euro crises and when European integration has descended to squabbles over finances. It is a wake-up call to Europe’s citizens and politicians to scratch their heads and ponder why unification ever took place.

Many of us Europeans, especially the younger generation, are even ignorant of the fact that Europe was a constant battlefield before the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950. Others have forgotten that in the years after World War II, Europe was in ruins, Communism threatened to overrun Western Europe and World War III loomed. Others see unification as a logical effect of the Marshall Plan offered by the US if Europe were to organize itself and coordinate its economies. But we all take European integration and the ensuing peace and security for granted. We have become complacent in our prosperity.

Crises can be therapeutic — even a crisis over a Nobel Peace Prize! Crises throw a sharp light on the need for change and for rediscovering one’s roots. Admittedly, the European Union is so vast and diverse and all-embracing that curing its ills is a huge challenge.

But the first step is to consider that its existence is based on a common European spiritual and cultural heritage. All European countries form one big family.

On September 11 I defended my doctoral thesis at Leiden University in The Netherlands. My work has given me an insight into the way the European unification was envisioned by its founding father Robert Schuman, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs in the years after World War II.

My research showed why Schuman must be regarded as the main architect of European unification — not the French economist and diplomat Jean Monnet as is commonly written in textbooks on European unification. The Schuman archives show that he was the main architect, a judgement supported by his personality, his life as a devout Catholic, and his origins in Alsace-Lorraine.

According to Schuman, a common European spiritual and cultural heritage is the raison d’être of European unification, inspiring effective solidarity across frontiers. He turned the raw materials of war — coal and steel — into tools of peace by launching the Schuman Plan. This proposed a common market in coal and steel for France and what was then called West Germany. The two nations had been arch-enemies for more than a thousand years — since the Treaty of Verdun in 843.


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[Return to headlines]

UK: 1,600 Victims a Day of Street Crime

BRITAIN is in the grip of a bag snatching pickpocketing epidemic with more than 1,600 victims a day.

Official statistics released yesterday showed the number of street thefts rose by 20,000 in a year.

In the 12 months to June, nearly 600,000 people suffered at the hands of sneak thieves and muggers, three

per cent up on a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics said.

It is the third year running that this type of crime has grown and the surge is blamed on iPhones and other highvalue

gadgets targeted by thieves.

The figures are likely to rocket when the London Olympics are taken into account.

Details of crimes against the person — 90 per cent of which were the work of pickpockets — were revealed in the

latest quarterly figures in the Crime Survey for England and Wales.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Businessman Who Marched Employee to Police With ‘Thief’ Sign Around His Neck Faces Bankruptcy

A boss who frog-marched an employee to the police station wearing a ‘Thief’ sign around his neck says the stunt has left him on the edge of bankruptcy.

In 2008 Simon Cremer, 48, made Mark Gilbert walk through the streets of Witham, Essex — in an effort to humiliate him for writing and cashing a cheque to himself for £845 from Mr Cremer’s company.

Gilbert was handed a caution for stealing from his employer while Mr Cremer, who runs In House Flooring, was cleared by a court of wrongful imprisonment.

However, Gilbert subsequently sued Mr Cremer from Little Maplestead, Essex, for £5,000 for the ‘trauma, distress and psychological’ help he said he needed after the incident.

In addition Mr Cremer was ordered to pay £40,000 in legal costs, which he says have left him on the verge of bankruptcy.

He is now calling on the Government to ban criminals from benefitting financially in the civil courts.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Probe After BNP Leader Nick Griffin Post Address of Gay Couple in B&B Row on Twitter and Threatens to Bring ‘Drama’ To Their Door

Police are investigating British National Party leader Nick Griffin after he used Twitter to publish the address of a gay couple and urged supporters to target their home.

The far-right MEP pledged to bring ‘drama’ to the door of Michael Black and John Morgan — who yesterday won £3,600 compensation after bringing a civil case against a Christian B&B owner who told them they could not stay because of her religion.


Meanwhile Mr Griffin responded by saying he stood by his comments.

‘The couple at the bed and breakfast made it clear that they didn’t want unmarried couples at all sharing a bed in their room,’ he said.

‘They were still welcome, but not to share a bed.

‘I think that the couple with the bed and breakfast absolutely had that right.

‘And it’s not good enough to say it’s a business that’s different.

‘These laws are wrong and it’s time for decent people to stand up to them.’

Twitter users trying to access Griffin’s account were subsequently told it had been suspended.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: South Yorkshire Police ‘Must Get a Grip’ On Child Abuse

South Yorkshire’s chief constable and one of his top officers have been told to “get a grip” on child sex offending in Rotherham.

David Crompton and Det Ch Insp Philip Etheridge were criticised by the Home Affairs Select Committee.

It comes after The Times said confidential police reports referred to widespread abuse of girls by Asian men.

The session in Westminster heard of three unconvicted members of one family being linked to the abuse of 61 girls.

‘Very disappointed’

The committee members also heard evidence of a 22-year-old man going unpunished after being found in a car with a 12-year-old girl, a bottle of vodka and indecent images of her on his mobile phone.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz asked Mr Etheridge how many successful prosecutions there had been this year for child sex exploitation.

“None,” was the answer, and just one in 2010 and eight in 2008.

Mr Vaz said: “I am very disappointed and I am very surprised nobody has been prosecuted this year … you need to get a grip on the situation in South Yorkshire.”

The abuse of young girls in Rotherham, and also in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, came to light after a series of investigations by The Times.

The newspaper claimed documents it obtained show agencies were aware of extensive and co-ordinated abuse of white girls by some Asian men in Rotherham for which no one has been prosecuted.

The paper said a confidential 2010 police report warned that thousands of such crimes were committed in South Yorkshire each year.

South Yorkshire Police have previously denied any suggestion they had been reluctant to tackle child sexual abuse and pointed to a series of successful criminal convictions.

Mr Crompton was asked today if “ethnic origin was a factor” in the Crown Prosecution Service charging suspects. “No, it’s not a factor at all,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Unlocking the Mysteries of Petra

The ruins of the ancient city of Petra lay hidden until 1812, when a Swiss explorer stumbled upon them in modern-day Jordan. Two centuries later, a new exhibition in Basel brings together some 150 artifacts that shed light on how this mysterious culture of spice traders carved a luxurious oasis into the rocks of the desert.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

You Thought the Whole ‘EUSSR’ Thing Was Over the Top? Have a Look at This Poster

by Daniel Hannan

Take a close look at this promotional poster. Notice anything? Alongside the symbols of Christianity, Judaism, Jainism and so on is one of the wickedest emblems our species has conceived: the hammer and sickle…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

The Jihad and Christopher Stevens, Pt. 2

by Diana West

To attempt to understand Christopher Stevens’ long-standing interest in ben Qumu, the al Qaeda terrorist suspected of leading the Benghazi attack on September 11, 2012 in which Stevens and three other Americans were murdered, we must seek context in more of Stevens’ cables. (Thanks be to Wikileaks.)

On February 15, 2008, Stevens wrote a lengthy cable titled EXTREMISM IN EASTERN LIBYA. On one level it confirms that Stevens was NOT some liberal naif when he docked in Benghazi in April 2011 to serve as point man to the so-called “rebels”— that cutesy bluff of a name which disguises a movement better described by Clare M. Lopez as “individuals and groups that were, at a minimum, allied ideologically with Al Qaeda.” No real stretch to simplify and call Stevens the Obama administration’s point man to al Qaeda.

This early 2008 cable recounts the analysis of a US-Libyan dual national who regularly visited eastern Libya concerning the “social, political and economic factors that have contributed to and faciliated participation by a disproportionately large number of eastern Libya’s native sons in ‘martyrdom acts’ and other insurgency operations in eastern Libya.”

Notice what’s missing from the list — Islam. It’s not completely missing, of course. Stevens makes note of mosques and “radical” imams who use “phraseology urging worshippers to support jihad in Iraq and elsewhere through direct participation and financial contributions.” Islam itself, however, never is discussed as the doctrinal motivation for jihad “martyrdom.” The following line sums up how it is that the centrality of jihad in Islam is circumvented: “Citing conversations with relatives, [redacted] said the unemployed, disenfranchised young men of eastern Libya had ‘nothing to lose’ and are therefore ‘willing for sacrifice themselves’ for something greater than themselves by engaging in extremism in the name of religion.”

The cable also opens a window onto the ordinariness of this hate-filled pathology among the people of the region…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

The Number One Enemy of the Arabs? Russia

by Jake Wallis Simons

Allow me to introduce the Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most prominent Sunni Islamic scholars in the world. You may remember him from 2008, when he was refused a visa to visit Britain after the Home Office said it would not tolerate the presence of those seeking to justify acts of terrorist violence; during a visit to London four years earlier, al-Qaradawi had referred to suicide attacks on Israelis as “martyrdom in the name of God” in an interview with the BBC…

[Reader comment by cargill55 on 19 october 2012 at about 10am.]

I would suggest the number one enemy of the Arabs is the Arabs.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Ennahdha Opposer Lynched, Tension in the Country

Hospital sources, death from internal bleeding caused by attack

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, OCTOBER 19 — The political tension which has shaken Tunisia in the past few months had a tragic epilogue yesterday in Tataouine, a southern city badly hit by the economic crisis, where the regional coordinator of Nidaa Tounis, a new party which staunchly opposes Ennahdha, died after being beat up. The colleagues of the victim, Lofti Naguedh, called his death a ‘political assassination’ by members of the ruling religious party.

Naguedh died at a local hospital. An interior ministry spokesperson said he died of heart failure but pictures taken of him after the incident show a badly bruised body. According to sources at the Tataouine hospital quoted by the website Tunisie Numerique, Lofti Naguedh died from internal bleeding.

Regardless of the actual cause of death, Nagued was savagely beaten up: his face appears swollen and badly bruised all over in the pictures. His neck also shows signs of strangulation.

The attack occurred yesterday morning during a demonstration in Tatauoine. The event was one of many organized by Ennahdha in the country in support of its government and for the ousting of former regime members. According to interior minister spokesman Khaled Tarrouch many members of society took part in the demonstration although eye witnesses said most participants were Ennahdha activists together with, for the first time, supporters of Ettakatol and Congress for the Republic, the other two parties in the ‘troika ‘ government.

When the demonstrators arrived in front of the regional farmers and fishermen union of which Naguedh was secretary, a brawl ensued in which fire bombs were used. Police reportedly only intervened after Naguedh had already been badly beaten up after he had attempted to flee. The high official of Nidaa Tounis died shortly after being taken to hospital by car.

Clashes caused a dozen wounded, some of them in critical condition.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Israel: Gethsemane Olive Branches Are 900 Years Old But DNA Older

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 19 — The trunk and branches of Gethsemane olive trees are 900 years old but their DNA suggests that they were born from a much older tree, according to the first results of a three-year research into the olive trees of the Gethsemane garden where Jesus, according to the Gospels, spent the last few hours before his arrest and crucifixion. The first findings of the research are available starting today on the website ‘’.

For the first time, a group of researchers with Italy’s national research council (CNR) and universities examined samples from the trunk of three of the eight olive trees on the mountain where the Passion of Christ started.

Results of the research indicated the three olive trees (the only ones on which it was technically possible to conduct the study) date back to the mid 12th century, said ‘’.

However their 900-year-old age can be referred only to the part of the plant which is visible while the roots underground is certainly much older, researchers said. Also, DNA tests described the genetic profiles of all eight olive trees indicating they belong to the same genotype. According to the experts, all come from one adult tree, meaning that portion of branches of one exemplary were planted in Gethsemane with the same technique adopted by Palestinian gardeners. The Gospels refer to adult olive trees when Jesus was there and their presence was witnessed by pilgrims in the following centuries.

The results of the scientific research can be checked through history. Between 1150 and 1170, the Basilica of Gethsemane was re-built and probably, according to, the garden was renovated by recuperating the trees. Researchers believe one of them could have been the donor of today’s olive trees although further research will be necessary to prove this.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Libya, Jordan and Obama’s Guiding Lights

Today the US has only one ally in the Middle East that it can trust: Israel.

The operational, intelligence and political fiascos that led to and followed the September 11 jihadist assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, all derive from the same problem. That problem is the failure of US President Barack Obama’s conceptual framework for understanding the Middle East.

The Islamic revolutionary wave sweeping across the Arab world has rent asunder the foundations of the US alliance system in the Middle East. But due to Obama’s ideological commitment to an anti-American conceptual framework for understanding Middle Eastern politics, his administration cannot see what is happening.

That framework places the blame for all or most of the pathologies of the Muslim world on the US and Israel.

What Obama and his advisers can see is that there are many people who disagree with them. And so they adopted a policy of delegitimizing, discrediting and silencing their opponents. To this end, his administration has purged the US federal government’s lexicon of all terms that are necessary to describe reality.

“Jihad,” “Islamist,” “radical Islam,” “Islamic terrorism” and similar phrases have all been banned. The study of Islamist doctrine by government officials has been outlawed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Qatar Designs a Law Against Offending Religions

Draft will be presented to the UN with aim of creating int’l law

(ANSAmed) — Rome, October 19 — The Qatari Justice Minister is designing a law that would ban attacks on or offenses to religion. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to create an international law with the help of the United Nations. News of the minister’s plan was reported on Friday by the Doha Gulf Times.

“In recent years, there have been insults and offenses against religion through drawings, films and other means. Thus we have taken the initiative to create a legislative instrument on an international level to protect the sacredness of all religions. The draft will be presented at the United Nations,” declared Qatari Justice Minister Hassan bin Abdullah al-Ghanem.

The Qatari minister is collaborating with the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) on making religious offense considered a crime abroad as well as at home.

“Offenses to religion shake the foundations of stability in the world and put world peace at risk,” said Yousuf Qaradawi, president of IUMS. Every religion has its sacred elements. In the case of Islam, the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed are sacred, and any attack automatically sparks undesirable consequences, Qaradawi explained. “It is impossible to contain the spontaneous rage of a mass insulted by an offense to their religion,” Qaradawi added.

Qatar’s initiative comes on the heels of violent protests throughout the Islamic world — particularly in the Arabic regions — against the American- made, anti-Islamic film, “Innocence of the Muslims”. Even in Doha, hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the United States embassy in a peaceful protest, which nevertheless saw many wave black banners and chant for jihad, the fight for Islam.

Another initiative is also being undertaken in Doha to appease spirits. The cinematic company AlNoor Holdings recently announced that it will produce a trilogy on the history of the Prophet Mohammed with the explicit goal of showing the Occident the true image of Islam.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Richard of Arabia’ German Gardener Helps Saudi Desert Bloom

A German landscape architect who has been working in Saudi Arabia for nearly 40 years, Richard Bödeker turns his wealthy clients’ dreams into reality. Over the decades he has shrugged off political concerns about the ultra-conservative country and played a key role in introducing green spaces to Riyadh.

In the Koran, paradise is often described as a garden, a tranquil place where trees provide shade and cool water flows though streams. Pretty much like the private farm belonging to Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abd al-Asis Al Saud, son of the Crown Prince and Minister of Defense of Saudi Arabia.

The secret to Bödeker’s dealings with Saudis is the blend of tolerance and fundamentalism on both sides: The Arabs are deeply conservative Muslims, while Bödeker is fervently green.

“I don’t have any time for politics” he says. He’s only interested in trees and gardens, and to Germans who get worked up about women not being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, he says the solution is the planned subway system.

The public beheadings by sword that sometimes take place on Fridays on Deera Square do nothing to loosen his bond to Saudi Arabia. Other cultures, including in America, also execute criminals, he points out, adding that many criminals have been pardoned here too.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UAE: British Woman and Irish Man Plead Not Guilty to Dubai Taxi Sex

A British woman and Irish man accused of engaging in sexual activities in a Dubai taxi pleaded not guilty in court [yesterday], in the latest case of Westerners falling foul of the Gulf Arab emirate’s decency laws.

If convicted, the pair, who are both based in Dubai, could face three years in jail and then deportation from the United Arab Emirates, which walks a delicate line between keeping its Muslim identity and maintaining a successful tourism industry. Rebecca Blake, 29, from Dorking, Surrey, and Conor McRedmond, 28, both denied charges at Dubai Criminal Court of “breach of honour with consent” and committing “an indecent act in a taxi” when they appeared in court. They pleaded guilty to a third charge related to consumption of alcohol, their lawyer said after the hearing, without elaborating. The judge postponed the next hearing to Nov. 1. Islam bans alcohol for Muslims. In the UAE, non-Muslims can drink at certain hotels and beach bars where all-you-can-drink brunches heave with revellers every weekend.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Pope Supports Russian Orthodox Church on Pussy Riot Case

Members of group sentenced to two years for ‘punk prayer’

(ANSA) — Moscow, October 17 — The pope supports the Russian Orthodox Church’s position that members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot committed a sacrilege in the Moscow cathedral in February.

“Pope Benedict XVI expressed his solidarity with the position of the Russian Orthodox Church on the question, and his surprise with respect to the reaction of some of the media on these events,” read an external affairs note on the Russian patriarch’s synodal department website on Wednesday. The note came after a meeting between the pope and the patriarch’s external affairs representative, Hilarion di Volokolamsk.

Last month, the Moscow Russian Orthodox Church patriarch urged the three, who protested against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s main cathedral, to repent the alleged sacrilege of the church.

The three Pussy Riot members sentenced to two years for an anti-Kremlin ‘punk prayer’ are currently under-going an appeals trial.

The trio are receiving continual international support, led by music stars.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Police Arrest Four People After They ‘Beheaded Woman Who Refused to Become a Prostitute’

Afghan police have arrested four people who allegedly beheaded a young woman after she resisted their attempts to force her into prostitution.

Mah Gul, 20, was murdered after her mother-in-law tried to force her to sleep with man at her home in the Herat province in the west of the country.

Provincial police chief Abdul Ghafar Savedzada confirmed that his officers had arrested the victim’s husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and man who killed her, known as Najibullah.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Far East

Scientists Read Dreams

Brain scans during sleep can decode visual content of dreams.

Scientists have learned how to discover what you are dreaming about while you sleep. A team of researchers led by Yukiyasu Kamitani of the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, used functional neuroimaging to scan the brains of three people as they slept, simultaneously recording their brain waves using electroencephalography (EEG).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Archaeologists Find 50 Skulls in Mexican Aztec Temple

Mexican archaeologists said Friday they uncovered the largest number of skulls ever found in one offering at the most sacred temple of the Aztec empire dating back more than 500 years.

The finding reveals new ways the pre-Colombian civilization used skulls in rituals at Mexico City’s Templo Mayor, experts said. That’s where the most important Aztec ceremonies took place between 1325 until the Spanish conquest in 1521.

The 50 skulls were found at one sacrificial stone. Five were buried under the stone, and each had holes on both sides — signaling they were hung on a skull rack.

Archaeologist Raul Barrera of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said the other 45 skulls appeared to have just been dumped on top of the stone.

The team of archeologists unearthed the skulls and jaw bones in August. They stumbled on them as they were renovating a section of the Templo Mayor in the heart of Mexico City.

Barrera said they believe the 45 skulls were those of women and men between 20 and 35 years old and could have been dug up from other sites and reburied.

Last August, the Mexican government announced experts had found an unprecedented human burial at another spot in the same temple in which the skeleton of a young woman, possibly sacrificed personifying a goddess, was surrounded by piles of nearly 1,800 bones. Another unusual finding this summer was a “sacred tree,” which looks like a battered oak trunk emerging from a well and which experts say was brought from a mountain region for a ritual.

The skulls shown to the media Friday were in good condition but cracked on each side of the head, possibly because of the wooden stake that ran through them so they could be placed in a skull rack.

Barrera said the key in the discovery was the sacrificial rock, which looks like a gray headstone.

“Underneath the sacrificial stone, we found an offering of five skulls. These skulls were pierced with a stick,” he said. “These are very important findings.

“University of Florida archaeologist Susan Gillespie, who was not involved in the excavation, said it caught her attention that the skulls that had been on the rack, called tzompantli, were buried separately.

“It provides rather novel information on the use and reuse of skulls for ritual events at the Templo Mayor,” Gillespie said in an email.

Also, the common belief about Aztec sacrificial stones is that a person being sacrificed was killed by cutting open the chest and pulling out the heart.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Christian’s Salary Cut Because He Criticised Gay Marriage on Facebook: Punishment Over ‘Homophobic’ Comments Could Cost Him £60,000

A Christian housing manager had his salary slashed after allegedly being ‘entrapped’ by a lesbian colleague into criticising gay marriage on his private Facebook page, a court heard yesterday.

Adrian Smith, 55, had posted a link to an article about plans for civil partnership ceremonies in churches with his own comment: ‘An equality too far.’

After a lesbian colleague asked if that meant he didn’t approve, he posted that he could not understand ‘why people who have no faith and don’t believe in Christ would want to get hitched in church’.

Another colleague complained that the comment was offensive, despite having not seen the post, and Mr Smith was disciplined and had his post downgraded and his salary cut by £14,000.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

The Next Big Thing in Sex-Ed: The Evil of Heterosexism

by Carolyn Moyniham


A report in the Australian Daily Telegraph today reveals that a programme teaching that it is wrong to regard heterosexuality as the norm for relationships is being piloted in 12 schools in the Australian state of New South Wales. There’s a similar programme in the state of Victoria. Academics and sexual libertarian groups such as Family Planning have had a heavy hand in them.

The target of these programmes is not just anti-gay discrimination and bullying but something much more radical — what the theorists of the sexual diversity movement call “heteronormativity”. Training for teachers in the Proud Schools scheme advises them to “focus on the dominance of heterosexism rather than on homophobia”. Watch out for that other h-word.

The program defines “heterosexism” as the practice of “positioning heterosexuality as the norm for human relationship,” according to the Proud Schools Consultation Report.

“It involves ignoring, making invisible or discriminating against non-heterosexual people, their relationships and their interests. Heterosexism feeds homophobia.”

The pilot programme, which is costing AU$250,000, is to be “made available” to non-government schools, according to a statement made by the NSW education minister, Adrian Piccoli, last year. The minister seems to realise he is on shaky ground with this scheme as he has tried to distance himself from it this week, pointing out that it was launched under a former (Labour) government.

Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine gives further details of the Proud Schools programme in a blog entry. She says it includes “celebrations of diversity for students” and “embedding discussion of sexuality and gender diversity into the classroom”.

The Victorian “Safe Schools Coalition” programme, she says, “holds that gender and sexuality are not fixed but fluid concepts. Students are taught not to think about gender and sexuality in a ‘binary’ way, as in male/female or gay/straight, but as part of a continuum of choices.”

The NSW programme appears to assume that between 7 percent and 10 percent of young people are attracted to people of their own sex. This echoes the long-discredited Kinsey figure. Most studies now put the figure for homosexuality at 2 to 3 percent of the population. Proud Schools also draws on a paper that claims 80 percent of homophobic abuse and violence for young people occurs at schools, and that “violence and abuse is sustained and embedded in school culture”.

Oddly enough, though…


[Return to headlines]


Cassette Tapes Are the Future of Big Data Storage

THE cassette tape is about to make a comeback, in a big way. From the updates posted by Facebook’s 1 billion users to the medical images shared by healthcare organisations worldwide and the rise of high-definition video streaming, the need for something to store huge tranches of data is greater than ever. And while hard drives have traditionally been the workhorse of large storage operations, a new wave of ultra-dense tape drives that pack in information at much higher densities, while using less energy, is set to replace them.

Researchers at Fuji Film in Japan and IBM in Zurich, Switzerland, have already built prototypes that can store 35 terabytes of data — or about 35 million books’ worth of information — on a cartridge that measures just 10 centimetres by 10 cm by 2 cm. This is achieved using magnetic tape coated in particles of barium ferrite.

But the real debut for this technology is likely to be the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world’s largest radio telescope, whose thousands of antennas will be strewn across the southern hemisphere (New Scientist, 2 June, p 4). Once it’s up and running in 2024, the SKA is expected to pump out 1 petabyte (1 million gigabytes) of compressed data per day.

Current projections by the trade body Information Storage Industry Consortium show that although hard drives will be able to store 3 terabytes apiece in a decade’s time, that still amounts to at least 120,000 drives a year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]