Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121115

Financial Crisis
»Finance: Rich From Mideast Revive Turkish Banks
»Italy: Indictments for S&P: Fitch Bosses Requested in Italy
»More Greeks, Spanish Moving to Germany
»Recession Hits Eurozone Despite Partial Growth
»Abu Leader, Rapping Jihadi Make FBI Terror List
»BP Accepts Record $4.5bn in US Fines Over 2010 Oil Spill
»BP to Admit Crimes and Pay $4.5 Billion in Gulf Settlement
»Failure of Cybersecurity Bill in Senate Paves Way for Obama Executive Order
»Hurricane Sandy, Martial Law, And FEMA Camps: Rehearsal for Future America?
»Is Obama Hiding the Truth About Benghazi Because the Truth Would Impeach Him?
»Nobody in Town Knows Anyone Who’s Black
»One Good Thing the Reelection of Barack Obama Has Accomplished
»Petraeus Betrayed His Country Before He Betrayed His Wife
»Ron Paul: The Founders Believed in Secession
»St. Louis County Police Hold Citizen Police Academy at Daar-Ul-Islam Mosque
»The 2012 Election and the Austro-Hungarian Scenario
»TV Viewers in Sharp Decline as More People Awaken to the Idiocy of Television Programming
»Why Did Cantor Protect Obama?
»Why the States Must Secede to Save America
»Yes, The FBI and CIA Can Read Your Email. Here’s How
Europe and the EU
»Ancient Mariners: Did Neanderthals Sail to Mediterranean?
»Greeks Throw Coffee and Eggs at German Consul
»Greek Protesters Attack German Official
»In UK, Twitter, Facebook Rants Land Some in Jail
»Italy: Berlusconi Dinner Dances ‘Erotic, Not Sexual’ Witness Says
»Italy: Council of Europe Concern Over Italian Jail Terms for Libel
»Italy Lags European Partners in Ease of Starting-Up Business
»Stakelbeck: Sharia Law Comes to Great Britain
»UK: Abu Qatada to be Monitored From Space
»UK: Abu Qatada Demands to be Relocated After Year in £400,000 Home
»UK: Abu Qatada and the Who Governs Britain Question
»UK: Europe and the Nation
»UK: One Nation
»UK: Police Issue Warning Ahead of Rival Demonstrations Over Sunderland Mosque
»UK: Schoolboy, 13, Spends Two Days With Pencil Stuck in Hand After Hospital Sent Him Home and Made Him Wait for Operation
North Africa
»Egypt’s Sinai Rife With Crime and Terrorism
»Egypt: Morsi — Nation Fully Supports Palestinians for UN Membership
»Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Calls for Anti-Israel Demo on Friday
»Gheddafi: Aisha: Qatar and NATO ‘Murdered’ Dad and Brother
Israel and the Palestinians
»Anguish of BBC Journalist as He Cradles the Body of His Baby Son Who Died in Israeli Rocket Attack on Gaza
»Attacks Resume After Israeli Assault Kills Hamas Leader
»Could This be the Beginning of a New War in Gaza?
»Gaza Rocket Fire Kills Three Israelis, Violence Escalates
»Gaza Rockets Kill Three Israelis as Clashes Enter Second Day
»Gaza Toll Rises as UN Calls for End to the Bloodshed.
»Hamas Rocket Kills Three Israelis, Wider War Looms
»Israel Considering Ground Operations in Gaza
»Israel Has ‘Opened the Gates of Hell’: Hamas Warning as Leader is Killed in Strike
»Israel’s South Under Rocket Barrages Amid Operation Against Gaza
»Israel and Gaza Militants in Deadly Exchanges — Live Updates
»Photo: Hamas Missile Launch Pad Near Mosque, Playground
»Who Started it?
Middle East
»Hero British Bodyguard Shows Horrendous Injuries After Surviving Iraq Blast
»Jordan: One Killed: Several Injured in Clashes With Police
»Sex Crimes Quadrupled in Turkey
South Asia
»India: Mosque Hit by Holy Hair Row
Far East
»China Names Xi Jinping as Party Chief
»China Flexes Muscles at Home and Abroad
»Man Who Grew Up in a Cave Becomes President-Elect of China
Australia — Pacific
»Keating Urges Australia to Focus on Indonesia
Sub-Saharan Africa
»First Stone-Tipped Spear Thrown Earlier Than Thought
»Kenya: Councillor, Four Chiefs in Court Over Baragoi Killings
»Kenya: Baragoi Bandits Should Prepare to Die — Police
Culture Wars
»UK: Non-Discrimination
»Mars Ripe for ‘Cold Springs’ Akin to Canadian Arctic
»Nabokov and Can Grande Della Scala

Financial Crisis

Finance: Rich From Mideast Revive Turkish Banks

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, NOVEMBER 15 — Some USD 770 million flowed into Turkey’s private banking sector in the last year alone, said Saltik Galatali, the private banking head of Turkish lender Akbank, as daily Hurriyet reports. The money came largely from Middle Eastern and developing Far Eastern countries, the very same sources interested in Turkey’s real estate sector, which is increasing thanks to a recently enacted regulation that facilitated foreigners’ access to the local market.

Citizens of Middle Eastern countries, particularly Dubai and Qatar, are very willing to acquire property in Turkey, Galatali said in Singapore, where he received the ‘Best Private Bank in Turkey’ award on behalf of Akbank from The Banker, a leading global financial publication. Akbank opened a private banking office at the beginning of the year in Dubai to tap into the potential in the region, he said, adding that Akbank Private Banking aims to reach an asset size of 1 billion Turkish Liras (435 million euros) in the region.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Indictments for S&P: Fitch Bosses Requested in Italy

Ratings agencies accused of ‘false, unfounded’ judgements

(ANSA) — Rome, November 12 — Prosecutors in the southern Italian town of Trani on Monday requested managers of Standard & Poor’s and Fitch be indicted for alleged market tampering related to the international rating agencies’ assessments. Prosecutors said earlier this year that they were investigating the possibility that “false, unfounded or imprudent judgements” had unduly affected markets.

Deven Sharma, S&P’s president from 2007 to 2011, was one of seven senior figures linked to the agencies who should be sent to trial, according to the prosecutors.

In January investigators searched S&P’s Milan offices two days after the agency downgraded Italy along with eight other countries including France and Spain.

Five days later, Trani prosecutors ordered a search of the Milan offices of Fitch, the world’s second-largest ratings agency, which downgraded Italy three days later.

The agencies deny any wrongdoing.

Standard & Poor’s called the Trani prosecutors’ accusations “totally unfounded” and added that the agency will continue to work “without fear”.

Prosecutors said they would not be taking action against Moody’s managers after opening a probe into its decisions.

On the same day, the chief prosecutor in the investigation announced that Lazio’s Audit Court had opened a parallel investigation into the two international rating agencies.

Investigators there have estimated damages to the Italian Treasury at 120 billion euros, Trani prosecutor Carlo Maria Capristo said.

Prosecutors there have requested indictments for top management at Standard & Poor’s and Fitch agencies, he said. Capristo added that S&P is also under investigation in the US, where the justice department has officially asked Trani prosecutors to share information related to the case. “They have our full collaboration,” said Capristo.

The same office has been carrying out probes into the ratings agencies since last year, responding to complaints from Italian consumer associations Adusbef and Federconsumatori.

“Adusbef and Federconsumatori recall the damages caused by the three ratings-agency sisters,” said the groups in a July statement.

Its report also calculated damages to the Italian economy of 120 billion euros due to downgrades amid the euro crisis.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

More Greeks, Spanish Moving to Germany

Immigration to Germany rose by 15 percent in the first half of the year, thanks to an influx of people from European countries hit hard by the eurozone crisis, official figures showed on Thursday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Recession Hits Eurozone Despite Partial Growth

A slight expansion of economic activity in Germany and France couldn’t save the eurozone from a second recession in four years. The serious slump in the area’s southern periphery gives little hope for a recovery soon.

Economic activity in the euro single currency area dropped 0.1 percent between July and September, following a decline by 0.2 percent in the second quarter of 2012, the European Union’s statistics office, Eurostat, announced Thursday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Abu Leader, Rapping Jihadi Make FBI Terror List

MANILA, Philippines — Abu Sayyaf commander Raddulan Sahiron and Omar Shafik Hammami, an American operative for Somalia’s Shebab insurgents who uses rap as a propaganda tool, have been added to the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists.

Sahiron, who lost his right hand in a gun battle in the 1970s, is believed to be the leader of the Abu Sayyaf and is wanted for his alleged role in the kidnapping of an American in 1993.

He was indicted in US federal court in 2007 in connection with this. He is also accused of involvement in the 2001 kidnappings in Dos Palmas resort in Palawan.

The FBI website said Sahiron, believed to be in his ancestral domain in Patikul, Sulu “should be considered armed and dangerous.”

“Sahiron, the overall leader of the Abu Sayyaf since 2005, uses the aliases Radulan Sahiron,

Raddulan Sahirun and Commander Putol, the FBI added.

The US State Department has offered $1 million for information leading to the arrest of Sahiron.

The Philippine military welcomed Sahiron’s inclusion in the FBI list. Maj. Gen. Francisco Cruz Jr., Armed Forces deputy chief for intelligence, yesterday said: “Sahiron is included in our own most wanted list so it complements our effort in fighting terrorists.”

Sahiron was implicated in the kidnapping of American missionary Charles Watson in Pangutaran Sulu in 1993.

About 14 members of the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped Watson from his house in Narangay Simbahan.

Watson was then moved to the Abu Sayyaf’s jungle camp in Jolo where he stayed until he was freed on Dec. 7, 1993.

Sahiron was indicted in a US court on Feb. 27, 2007 for hostage taking and aiding and abetting and causing such act to be done.

Sahiron was also accused of plotting the kidnapping of Protestant missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham and 18 others in Palawan in May 2001.

Also among those kidnapped was American Guillermo Sobero, who was beheaded in June 2001.

In 2002, Martin was killed during a military rescue operation, but Gracia survived and managed to write a book recounting her experience as captive.

About 300 members of the Abu Sayyaf operate in the country, the military said.

Hammami, also called the “rapping jihadi,” was born in Alabama but is now thought to live in Somalia and is believed to be a senior leader of the Shebab rebels, who were placed on the US State Department’s terror blacklist in 2008.

The group has “repeatedly threatened terrorist actions against America and American interests,” the FBI said in a statement.

Also known as Abu Mansour al-Amriki, Hammami has been releasing rap songs in English on the Internet since 2009 as a recruitment tool, although music is forbidden in Al-Qaeda’s strict interpretation of Islam.

In the songs, Hammami says he hopes to be killed by a drone strike or in a cruise missile attack so he can achieve martyrdom.

He invites young people to join the jihad to “wipe Israel off the globe,” and he encourages strikes against the US military in Afghanistan and

The FBI most wanted terrorist list was created in October 2001, shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. The Seeking Information-Terrorism list was then created to publicize efforts to find suspects not yet charged with crimes.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

BP Accepts Record $4.5bn in US Fines Over 2010 Oil Spill

British oil giant BP has agreed to pay the biggest criminal fine in US history as part of a $4.5 billion (€3.5bn) settlement after pleading guilty to criminal charges relating to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

British energy giant BP said Thursday it had agreed to pay more than $4.5 billion in US fines related to the devastating 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, including a record $4.0 billion to settle criminal claims.

“The aggregate amount of the resolution is approximately $4.5 billion (3.5 billion euros), with payments scheduled over a period of six years,” BP said in a statement.

BP said it had agreed a resolution of all criminal claims with the US Department of Justice which includes $4.0 billion to be paid in installments over five years. It said $1.256 billion of the $4.0 billion total were for criminal fines.

It additionally agreed a resolution of all securities claims with US regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which includes $525 million in fines to be paid in installments over three years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

BP to Admit Crimes and Pay $4.5 Billion in Gulf Settlement

BP, the British oil company, said Thursday it would pay $4.5 billion in fines and other payments to the government and plead guilty to 14 criminal charges in connection with the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago.

[Return to headlines]

Failure of Cybersecurity Bill in Senate Paves Way for Obama Executive Order

Now that Senate Republicans have killed Obama’s cybersecurity legislation, there is a good chance the president will sign an unconstitutional executive order implementing provisions of the failed legislation.

“Cybersecurity is dead for this Congress,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid following the move.

Republicans blocked the legislation in August and again on Wednesday, saying it would lead to further business regulation. The final vote was 51-47, short of the 60 votes required under Senate rules to bring the bill up for passage.


In his farewell speech to Congress last night, retiring Rep. Ron Paul stressed the need for a free and open internet without government intervention. “The internet will provide the alternative to the government/media complex that controls the news and most political propaganda. This is why it’s essential that the internet remains free of government regulation,” Paul said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Hurricane Sandy, Martial Law, And FEMA Camps: Rehearsal for Future America?

During the 1980s Iran Contra hearings, Lt. Col. Oliver North was questioned by Congressman Jack Brooks concerning North’s role in the development of a continuity-of-government plan called “Rex 84” (“Readiness Exercise 1984”), under which the U.S. Constitution would be suspended, and people moved into FEMA camps in the event of a major disaster. Upon being questioned, the look of absolute fury on North’s face was telling, as if some great secret had just been revealed. Immediately thereafter, the questioning of Congressman Brooks was shut down by the committee chair on the grounds that the subject touched upon a “highly sensitive and classified area.” The short exchange is documented in a video here[url].

FEMA and the National Security Police State

Executive Orders have been on the books for a half century now, empowering the Federal Emergency Management Agency to take control of everything from public and private communications, energy and transportation to housing and more. Most disturbing is that these presidential decrees encompass the registration and seizure of people, including the separation of family members, should the government find it necessary.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Is Obama Hiding the Truth About Benghazi Because the Truth Would Impeach Him?

Even with his own reelection soundly in the bag, President Barack Obama is keeping the truth about the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi as secret as his own locked-from-public-knowledge credentials.

With four more years in his pocket to complete his destructive Fundamental Transformation of America, Obama is refusing outright to inform Americans why calls for help from American Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans to save their lives were ignored until their own violent deaths silenced them.

This was Obama’s non-answer to Fox News reporter Ed Henry’s simple question at the White House yesterday:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Nobody in Town Knows Anyone Who’s Black

Maine GOP boss claims ‘mystery’ voters tilted polls

(PORTLAND PRESS HERALD) Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster is once again alleging possible voting irregularities, this time claiming that groups of unknown black people showed up in some rural towns to vote on Election Day.

Webster made the claim in a wide-ranging, post-election interview this week with Don Carrigan of WCSH-TV.

“In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens, dozens of black people who came in and voted on Election Day,” he said. “Everybody has a right to vote, but nobody in (these) towns knows anyone who’s black. How did that happen? I don’t know. We’re going to find out.”

He said his point is not that the new voters were black, but that they were not recognized by town officials.

“Mb>I’m not talking about 15 or 20. I’m talking hundreds,” he said Wednesday. “I’m not politically correct and maybe I shouldn’t have said these voters were black, but anyone who suggests I have a bias toward any race or group, frankly, that’s sleazy.”

[Comments: ie. no one in the town happens to be black — but groups of blacks showed up to vote on Election Day.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

One Good Thing the Reelection of Barack Obama Has Accomplished

Does anyone believe that these states are really going to secede from the union? Of course not. At least, not yet. Citizen petitions are just that. In order for a State to secede it would have to be formally declared by an act of the State’s legislature and governor. Good luck finding many of those.

However, I, for one, applaud the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have signed their State’s petitions for secession. If nothing else, it demonstrates the resolve and determination of freedom-minded people throughout the country who are more than “fed up.”

Plus, I do believe these petitions are significant. That the federal government has become a monstrous leviathan that is trampling the liberties of the people, usurping the authority of the states, and making a mockery of the Constitution is the understatement of the year. Both major parties in Washington, D.C., are led by a cabal of Big Money, globalist elites. Barack Obama might be the point man, but he has a supporting cast of hundreds from both sides of the aisle, from Wall Street, and from Corporate America. And let’s not forget labor unions, the education establishment, Big Media, and Big Religion. They are all standing in line to get their share of milk from the government teat. Hardly anyone in a position of authority and influence gives a tinker’s dam about constitutional governance or the Bill of Rights.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Petraeus Betrayed His Country Before He Betrayed His Wife

by Diana West

Was David Petraeus as great a general as the write-ups of his downfall routinely claim? This is a provocative question that I will begin to answer with another question: Did America prevail in the Iraq War? I suspect few would say “yes” and believe it, which is no reflection on the valor and sacrifice of the American and allied troops who fought there. On the contrary, it was the vaunted strategy of the two-step Petraeus “surge” that was the blueprint of failure.

While U.S. troops carried out Part One successfully by fighting to establish basic security, the “trust” and “political reconciliation” that such security was supposed to trigger within Iraqi society never materialized in Part Two. Meanwhile, the “Sunni awakening” lasted only as long as the U.S. payroll for Sunni fighters did.

Today, Iraq is more an ally of Iran than the United States (while dollars keep flowing to Baghdad). This failure is one of imagination as much as strategy. But having blocked rational analysis of Islam from entering into military plans for the Islamic world, the Bush administration effectively blinded itself and undermined its own war-making capacity. In this knowledge vacuum, David Petraeus’ see-no-Islam counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine would fill but not satisfy the void.

The basis of COIN is “population protection” — Iraqi populations, Afghan populations — over “force protection.” Or, as lead author David Petraeus wrote in the 2007 Counterinsurgency Field Manual: “Ultimate success in COIN is gained by protecting the populace, not the COIN force.” (“COIN force” families must have loved that.) Further, the Petraeus COIN manual tells us: “The more successful the counterinsurgency is, the less force can be used and the more risk can be accepted.” “Less force” and “more risk” translate into highly restrictive rules of engagement.

More risk accepted by whom? By U.S. forces. Thus we see how, at least in the eyes of senior commanders, we get the few, the proud, the sacrificial lambs. And sacrificed to what? A theory.

The Petraeus COIN manual continues:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Ron Paul: The Founders Believed in Secession

Paul updated his thoughts on secession during an appearance on C-Span today, noting how “The founders believed in it, there’s no prohibition in the Constitution against secession,” adding that the union was voluntary and therefore secession was also voluntary under the tenth amendment.

“They want to put them on a list that they’re committing treason, put them in prison or throw them out of the country — what about the First Amendment,” asked Paul in response to calls by some on the left to have pro-secessionists deported.

“The principle of secession is very important, not so much for the purpose of seceding, but the purpose of saying to the federal government ‘if you mistreat us that’s what we might consider’,” said Paul, noting that New England talked about secession in the early 19th century and was not condemned for doing so.

Paul explained that the principle was really about states nullifying laws that were anathema to the Constitution.

“Nullification is the same thing — what if states could nullify the law? Look how wonderful it would have been to solve the problem of Obamacare if the states could just nullify the thing and get out of it, so nullification and secession should always be there,” said Paul.

“Secession is what we did when we left England, it was a wonderful thing,” said Paul, adding that there were no complaints when eastern European nations seceded from the Communist bloc.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

St. Louis County Police Hold Citizen Police Academy at Daar-Ul-Islam Mosque

St. Louis County (KSDK) — For the first time ever, St. Louis County police are hosting a citizen police academy at an area mosque. Police teamed up with the Islamic Foundation for the eight week course at the Daar-ul-Islam Mosque in Manchester. Classes are taught by law officers and the course is designed specifically for members of mosques. Participants will learn what steps they can take to avoid becoming crime victims. They’ll also get a better understanding of how the police department works as well as how police do their jobs.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The 2012 Election and the Austro-Hungarian Scenario

America is becoming like the Austro-Hungarian Empire; a precarious nation of balkanized peoples with increasingly dissimilar interests.

Asian Americans — a traditionally Republican voting block — went 70% for Obama in the last election.

Granted, they have been drifting toward the Democrat Party for the last decade, but why?


In 1965 Congress — at the behest of Ted Kennedy — passed The Immigration and Naturalization Act otherwise known as the Hart-Cellar Act (sometimes spelled Hart-Celler), which fundamentally restructured the way legal immigration is done in the United States. Prior to Hart-Cellar immigration was based on a quota system, permitting immigration primarily from target countries (primarily in Europe). The 1965 reform changed that, stressing reuniting immigrant families and recruiting skilled labor from foreign countries of any persuasion. Hart-Cellar changed the racial and national makeup of immigrant groups to the United States, and led to a large influx of people of Asian decent.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

TV Viewers in Sharp Decline as More People Awaken to the Idiocy of Television Programming

It began with traditional newspaper circulation about a decade ago, and now the phenomenon has spread to television: Like millions of Americans who shun the daily paper, many are voting with their remotes and are turning off network TV.

According to the Financial Times, U.S. broadcast networks have suffered “a precipitous drop” in ratings so far this year, which is bound to hit their balance sheets as they lose a share of the $70 billion in annual ad sales.


But is overall decline in network viewership all the fault of these new innovative ways to watch programming? No, says Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive. He says it’s possible the drop-off in ratings could actually be due to the fact that the networks aren’t producing programming that the public wants to see.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Why Did Cantor Protect Obama?

The central figures in the David Petraeus sex scandal are not talking. That includes Virginia Congressman and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Yet, the decision by this top Republican to turn to the FBI rather than his colleagues in the House with inside information about the scandal has proven to be monumental, a development that enabled Barack Obama to win the presidency without getting tainted by the allegations of immorality and corruption that are now the subject of daily news reports.

The record shows that Cantor had knowledge of the affair from an FBI whistleblower before the election but decided not to go public with the allegations of high-level misconduct by the CIA director. He stayed silent as Obama campaigned for re-election as a foreign policy statesman and efficient manager of America’s national security interests.


But when he was given the David Petraeus scandal on a silver platter by an FBI whistleblower, more than a week before the election, Cantor turned the information over to the FBI, the same agency which had been conducting the cover-up on Obama’s behalf.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Why the States Must Secede to Save America

During his nationwide broadcast today, Jones laid out the battle plan for secession, emphasizing that states must first secede from the federal government, which has gone rogue, and then use the terms of the Declaration of Independence to restore the Republic, not create a new country.

Jones stressed that he was calling for a cultural restoration in the spirit of the bill of rights — a newly unified America under the Constitution — and not a violent overthrow, noting that it was the states that created the Constitution and the federal government in the first place.

Jones noted that the only course to restoring liberty was clear — “To follow the founding document of the Republic, the Declaration of Independence, wherein it is clearly stated that it is the right and the duty of the American people, when their government becomes destructive and tyrannical, to abolish and reconstitute it in a form that protects our liberties.”

“We are not calling for secession to form new separate countries, we are calling for secession because the states created the Constitution, bill of rights and federal government, and the federal government itself has been hijacked by foreign special interests — mainly banking cartels,” said Jones.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Yes, The FBI and CIA Can Read Your Email. Here’s How

The U.S. government — and likely your own government, for that matter — is either watching your online activity every minute of the day through automated methods and non-human eavesdropping techniques, or has the ability to dip in as and when it deems necessary — sometimes with a warrant, sometimes without.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Ancient Mariners: Did Neanderthals Sail to Mediterranean?

Neanderthals and other extinct human lineages might have been ancient mariners, venturing to the Mediterranean islands thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

This prehistoric seafaring could shed light on the mental capabilities of these lost relatives of modern humans, researchers say.

Scientists had thought the Mediterranean islands were first settled about 9,000 years ago by Neolithic or New Stone Age farmers and shepherds.

However, in the last 20 years or so, some evidence has surfaced for a human presence on these islands dating back immediately before the Neolithic.

Recently, research has hinted that seafarers may have made their way out to the Mediterranean islands even earlier, long before the Neolithic, and not only to isles close to the mainland, but to more distant ones as well, such as Crete.

For instance, stone artifacts on the southern Ionian Islands hint at human sites there as early as 110,000 years ago. Investigators have also recovered quartz hand-axs, three-sided picks and stone cleavers from Crete that may date back about 170,000 years ago. The distance of Crete about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the mainland would have made such a sea voyage no small feat.

The exceedingly old age of these artifacts suggests the seafarers who made them might not even been modern humans, who originated between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago. Instead, they might have been Neanderthals or perhaps even Homo erectus.

“The whole idea of seafaring makes these extinct groups seem more human — they were going out to sea to explore places that were uninhabited,” Simmons told LiveScience.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greeks Throw Coffee and Eggs at German Consul

Greek protesters threw coffee and eggs at Germany’s consul to Thessaloniki when he was talking about trade between the countries, officials said on Thursday.

Consul Wolfgang Hoelscher-Obermaier was speaking at a conference on Greek-German trade initiatives, police said, when he was heckled and targeted.

Television footage showed a senior officer escorting the diplomat behind lines of riot police.

Hoelscher-Obermaier later said he had lost his glasses in the fracas. “Stand united to kick out the Nazis,” some protesters chanted as loudspeakers erected by protest organisers blared a Nazi military marching song.

Other members of the German delegation were pelted with eggs by the group that numbered around 300 people, according to police.

Officers moved in to extricate the consul from the crowd, but they made no arrests and nobody was injured in the incident, police said.

The incident came a day after German deputy labour minister Hans-Joachim Fuchtel said that three Greek municipal staffers were required to complete tasks accomplished by a single German.

“Studies show that 3,000 employees are required in Greece for local administration work carried out by 1,000 people in Germany,” Fuchtel said.

Fuchtel is a personal envoy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, tasked with working with Greek officials to streamline the operation of local councils.

On Thursday, the consul said there had been a “misunderstanding” over his comments.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greek Protesters Attack German Official

A German official attending a meeting was attacked by protesters in northern Greece on Thursday. Riot police on the scene intervened, but did not arrest the assailants.

Municipal workers staging a protest against austerity cuts on Thursday in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki have confronted a German diplomat before he was able to enter a building where a Greek-German relations conference was to take place .

The protesters reportedly pushed German Consul Wolfgang Hoelscher-Obermaier, then tried to douse him with coffee and water. Policemen attempted to shield Hoelscher-Obermaier, according to the news agency Reuters.

Several demonstrators then entered the conference center by force, leading to a clash with riot police. Initial reports did not indicate that any injuries or arrests had occurred during the violence.

The municipal workers chose the site for the demonstration after learning that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s special envoy to Greece, Hans Joachim Fuchtel, had planned to attend.

According to dpa news agency, Fuchtel, who is also the German Deputy Labor Minister, told reporters that Greek cities should try to reduce the number of local government employees. He reportedly said that it took three times as many Greek municipal employees to do the same amount of work as their German counterparts.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

In UK, Twitter, Facebook Rants Land Some in Jail

One teenager made offensive comments about a murdered child on Twitter. Another young man wrote on Facebook that British soldiers should “go to hell.” A third posted a picture of a burning paper poppy, symbol of remembrance of war dead.

All were arrested, two convicted, and one jailed — and they’re not the only ones. In Britain, hundreds of people are prosecuted each year for posts, tweets, texts and emails deemed menacing, indecent, offensive or obscene, and the number is growing as our online lives expand.

Lawyers say the mounting tally shows the problems of a legal system trying to regulate 21st century communications with 20th century laws. Civil libertarians say it is a threat to free speech in an age when the Internet gives everyone the power to be heard around the world.

“Fifty years ago someone would have made a really offensive comment in a public space and it would have been heard by relatively few people,” said Mike Harris of free-speech group Index on Censorship. “Now someone posts a picture of a burning poppy on Facebook and potentially hundreds of thousands of people can see it.

“People take it upon themselves to report this offensive material to police, and suddenly you’ve got the criminalization of offensive speech.”

Figures obtained by The Associated Press through a freedom of information request show a steadily rising tally of prosecutions in Britain for electronic communications — phone calls, emails and social media posts — that are “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character — from 1,263 in 2009 to 1,843 in 2011. The number of convictions grew from 873 in 2009 to 1,286 last year.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Dinner Dances ‘Erotic, Not Sexual’ Witness Says

Performers dressed as ‘Arabs, little girls and nurses’

(ANSA) — Milan, November 12 — A witness called to testify for the defense of Silvio Berlusconi who claimed to be a frequent guest of the ex-premier at his private villa said on Monday that post-dinner performances were “erotic but not sexual”.

Cuban Liza Barizonte said that dances organized at the media magnate’s residence were “theatrical and entertaining” and that the dancers often dressed as “Arabs, little girls and nurses”.

Barizonte was called to the Milan court to testify in hearings against the ex-premier who is accused of paying for sex with Karima ‘Ruby’ El Mahroug, an underage Moroccan runaway and nightclub dancer.

He is also being charged with alleged abuse of power involving a telephone call he made to a police station where Mahroug was being detained in May 2011 over a theft accusation.

Berlusconi reportedly told police that Mahroug was a relative of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Barizonte told the court that she met Berlusconi in 2009 at the San Siro stadium in Milan and that he had been transferring 2,500 euros monthly to her bank account since last March. Barizonte testified that she had slept numerous times at the ex-premier’s home.

Prosecutors claim Berlusconi had sex with 33 prostitutes at his villa in Arcore near Milan over the course of several months.

Berlusconi, who says his parties were innocent and “elegant” affairs, has stressed that both he and Ruby deny having sex, and has quipped “33 women in two months is too many even for someone who likes pretty girls, like me”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Council of Europe Concern Over Italian Jail Terms for Libel

Prison reintroduced as punishment in bill

(ANSA) — Rome, November 13 — The Council of Europe on Wednesday expressed concern about the possibility that Italian journalists can continue to face prison sentences for libel because of an amendment to a bill in parliament.

The bill was meant to remove jail terms as a possible sanction for the offence and raise fines following the uproar caused by the supreme Court of Cassation decision to uphold a 14-month prison term for liable for newspaper editor Alessandro Sallusti.

But the bill was amended in a secret vote in the Senate on Tuesday and prison terms were reinstated.

Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, told ANSA that he was following the bill’s progress through parliament with “great worry”.

He added that keeping prison as a possible punishment for journalists guilty of libel would be a “big step backwards”. Sallusti, who has not yet been sent to prison, was convicted for printing libellous remarks made by an anonymous reader about Italian judge Giuseppe Cocilovo in ‘Libero’, the right-wing paper he edited in 2007.

The comments concerned the decision by Cocilovo to grant a 13-year-old the right to have an abortion.

“If there were the death penalty, and if it were ever applicable in a situation, this would be the case. For the parents, the gynecologist and the judge,” wrote the anonymous reader, who used the pseudonym ‘Dreyfus’.

The Court of Cassation ruled that Sallusti was responsible for the comment since the identity of the writer was unknown.

Renato Farina, the former deputy editor of ‘Libero’ and now a deputy in ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, subsequently admitted to penning the libellous remarks.

The court decision sparked freedom-of-expression protests from Italian journalists of all leanings and prompted Justice Minister Paola Severino and President Giorgio Napolitano to agree on the need to amending Italy’s libel laws.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Lags European Partners in Ease of Starting-Up Business

World Bank report ranks country 73rd as taxes, regulations weigh

(ANSA)- Rome, November 14; High taxes and time-consuming tax-filing procedures for companies, among other weaknesses, make Italy a hard place to do business, according to a new World Bank study released Wednesday.

According to the report, Italy ranks 73d, after all of its main European trading partners, for ease of setting up a company. In the report, presented Wednesday in Rome, the Bank highlights how company taxes in Italy absorb some 68.3% of profits and that companies have to dedicate up to 269 hours to fulfill their tax-related duties.

The World Bank report, the tenth annual edition, takes into consideration a range of regulatory factors in 185 countries, covering 11 areas, including procedures to start a business, construction permits, property ownership registration, bank credit, investor protection, hiring of workers and paying taxes.

From a purely tax-related point of view, Italy would rank 131.

For the seventh consecutive year Singapore maintains the first place for ease of starting a company while the Central African Republic comes in last.

Hong Kong, New Zealand and the United States follow, in second, third and fourth place, respectively. Of European countries, only Denmark (5th), Norway (6th) and the United Kingdom (7th) make it into the top ten.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, comes in at 20th place, with France and Spain trailing at 34th and 44th place, respectively.

According to the World Bank, since 2005 the average time needed to start a new business has dropped by 50 days, to 30 days.

In Italy the average is 6 days, compared to 3 in Singapore.

It now takes 55 days to register property ownership, on average, down from 90 days in 2005.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: Sharia Law Comes to Great Britain

My latest on-the-ground report from London is an eye-opener. I spent time in he so-called “Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets,” a neighborhood in East London that is turning into a stronghold for sharia law.

There are now reportedly some 85 sharia courts operating in Great Britain. My report examines what comes next and how one British human rights activist is fighting to protect women from Sharia oppression.

Click the link above to watch.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

UK: Abu Qatada to be Monitored From Space

Abu Qatada’s every movement will be watched from space as part of the massive surveillance operation that is costing the public £5 million a year.


[JP note: Easier to put a man on the moon than to deport a Muslim from the UK.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Abu Qatada Demands to be Relocated After Year in £400,000 Home

Abu Qatada is demanding to be rehoused at the taxpayer’s expense, less than 12 months after being moved to his current home.

Lawyers for the extremist cleric revealed he and his family, who live on state handouts, have asked to be relocated. It is not known what reasons he has given but is likely to have demanded more space or complained about the constant media presence outside. It can also be disclosed that his every movement will be watched from space as part of the massive surveillance operation that is costing the public £5 million a year.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Abu Qatada and the Who Governs Britain Question

No government ever wants to look like it is in office but not in power. This is why this country’s inability to deport Abu Qatada is causing such concern in Conservative circles.

David Cameron will be well aware of the symbolism of the issue. In his conference speech this year, he boasted that

“For years people asked why we couldn’t get rid of those radical preachers who spout hatred about Britain while living off the taxpayer……well, Theresa May — a great Home Secretary — has done it — and she’s got Abu Hamza on that plane and out of our country to face justice.”

Today, Cameron declared himself ‘completely fed up’ with the fact that Abu Qatada is still here. But things threaten to get worse for the government if its appeal against Qatada’s legal victory is not successful. At some point, this government is going to have to change the law. Otherwise, this farce will simply repeat itself.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Europe and the Nation

by Roger Scruton

Anthony O’Hear has already commented on Ed Miliband’s appropriation of the ‘one nation’ idea, in order to make a bid for the patriotic vote. Just when this particular disciple of Eric Hobsbawm decided to abandon the internationalist cause is not entirely clear. But one thing is certain, the Tory Party will be very much to blame if it fails to impress on the electorate that it is the party of the nation. Conservatives are heir to a tradition that puts national sovereignty at the centre of politics, and which identifies the nation as the unifying object of our loyalties. The causes espoused by the Labour Party are not, as a rule, national causes. The attitude of the Party in domestic affairs has been deliberately divisive, setting class against class, making war on institutions that represent ‘privilege’ (which often signifies nothing more than merit), and gratuitously pouring scorn on family values and old fashioned respectability. In the matter of Europe it has been normal for Labour politicians to sneer at the ‘Little Englanders’ who question the way things are going (the disgraced Denis MacShane, once Minister of State for Europe, was particularly given to this habit). And when it comes to the Union, it is very clear that the Labour Party wants to have it both ways — to break it up, and at the same time to retain the Celtic vote in Westminster in order to oppress the English.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: One Nation

By Anthony O’Hear, Professor of Philosophy at Buckingham University, and editor of Philosophy journal.

Following Ed Miliband’s evocation of ‘one nation’ at his party conference, various Conservative big-wigs immediately began lamenting this theft of their clothes. But few seemed to have reflected on what might be involved in ‘one nation’, particularly in Miliband’s understanding of the phrase, which is very un-conservative indeed, the very last thing we should fighting to own. We can leave aside the extent to which Disraeli was a conservative, perceptive as he was in identifying the intrinsic conservatism of the English working class. We should focus rather on ‘Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer’, or its variants, that perennial siren call of tyrants and demagogues. And we should ask whether in the Miliband vision, Fuhrers aside, ein Reich will require more than ein Partei.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Issue Warning Ahead of Rival Demonstrations Over Sunderland Mosque

A FAR Right group is to stage a further demonstration over the proposed opening of a new mosque. The Northern Patriotic Front, formed in Newcastle by ex-members of the National Front in August, is to stage what it insists will be a peaceful hour-long protest in the Millfield area of Sunderland at noon on Saturday (November 17). Police say they expect a counter demonstration by anti-fascist groups and have warned that anyone causing trouble will be dealt with. Saturday’s demonstration will be the fourth this year staged by Far Right groups over plans by the Pakistan Islamic Centre to open a mosque in St Mark’s Road.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Schoolboy, 13, Spends Two Days With Pencil Stuck in Hand After Hospital Sent Him Home and Made Him Wait for Operation

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

A thirteen-year-old was left in agony after a hospital sent him home twice with a pencil embedded in his hand.

Robbie Appleby-Socket, of Askern, Doncaster, was larking about with his friends when the six-inch pencil wedged inside his skin, leaving him in severe pain.

His mother Emma rushed him to Doncaster Royal Infirmary’s accident and emergency department, where he was told to come back the following day for an operation.

But when the pair returned the next morning, they were told Robbie’s name was not on the list, and the operation would have to be rescheduled for another time.

Desperate Mrs Appleby-Socket was then forced to take her son 20 miles from their home to Pinderfields Hopsital in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Doctors there operated immediately and Robbie stayed in hospital for two nights on an antibiotic drip to ensure the injury would not become infected.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt’s Sinai Rife With Crime and Terrorism

Dire economic circumstances and decades of neglect under Mubarak have turned Egypt’s Sinai into a breeding ground for criminals and radical Islamists. So far, the authorities have failed to deal with the problem.

Nowhere in Egypt is the security situation currently as tense as in the North Sinai province bordering Israel. Repeatedly, there have been attacks on the security forces and the region is considered a hub for arms smugglers, human trafficking and militant Islamists and jihadists. The central government has little control over large swaths of the area. In the latest incident earlier this month, three policemen were shot dead by unknown attackers.

The reasons for the situation are manifold. Abdel Moati Zaki Ihbrahim is a party official with the governing Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood. “Mubarak completely neglected the Sinai, not only the land but also the people,” the political scientist said. “The people living there are not even allowed to join the army or own land.”

The economic and social situation of the people living in the province is disastrous: there are not enough schools and there is hardly any employment to speak of. Some of the Bedouins have therefore taken to illegal means to earn their living. There’s an entire economy based on smuggling: Weapons moving between Sudan, Libya and the Gaza strip are being traded on the Sinai. Another form of income is kidnapping African refugees for ransom.

The security vacuum after the fall of Mubarak meant that the illegal structures were established even further.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Morsi — Nation Fully Supports Palestinians for UN Membership

President Mohamed Morsi confirmed Egypt’s full support of the Palestinians in their bid to have the United Nations (UN) observer status, Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said in a press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after his meeting with the President on Tuesday 13/11/2012. Amr stressed that he has referred Egypt’s plan to support Palestine’s UN bid to the President, asserting the absolute and continuing Egyptian support for the Palestinians. For his part, Abbas said Egypt is utilizing all its resources and connections to get Palestine a membership as an observer at the UN. I have come to meet with Arab foreign ministers before heading to the UN on November 29 to attend a vote on the Palestinian observer status, Abbas added.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Calls for Anti-Israel Demo on Friday

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has called on Egyptians to hold a million-man march in Cairo on Friday to denounce recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

In a statement, the Brotherhood called on Egyptians of all factions to take to the streets and protest in front of major mosques in Cairo and other cities after the Friday Prayers and express their solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Gheddafi: Aisha: Qatar and NATO ‘Murdered’ Dad and Brother

Colonel’s daughter still in Algeria, says attorney

(ANSAmed) — TUNISIA, 13 NOV — Aisha Gheddafi wants to bring Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and NATO before a body of international justice to try them for the death of his father and brother, Mutassim, legal representatives said. The Colonel’s daughter is still in Algeria, confirms her attorney, Bechir Essid, denying rumours that Aisha Gheddafi has left the country that granted her exile after fleeing from Libya.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Anguish of BBC Journalist as He Cradles the Body of His Baby Son Who Died in Israeli Rocket Attack on Gaza

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

Desperately clutching the body of his young son to his chest, tears stream down the face of Jihad Masharawi moments after he was told by doctors his little boy was dead.

‘What did my son do to die like this?,’ he pleaded, ‘What was his mistake? He is 11 months-old, what did he do?’

Tiny Omar is the youngest casualty of the conflict in Gaza and Israel, which last night, threatened to escalate. He died after an Israeli airstrike on Hamas militants in Gaza.

Today Hamas hit back, firing missiles into southern Israel. Last night air sirens were heard in Tel Aviv. Fifteen Palestinians and three Israelis have so far been killed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Attacks Resume After Israeli Assault Kills Hamas Leader

KIRYAT MALACHI, Israel -Israeli warplanes struck dozens of militant sites in Gaza early on Thursday, the second day of Israel’s deadly offensive against Hamas and other militant groups, and rockets fired from the enclave reached far into Israel, killing three civilians when one struck an apartment block in this small southern town.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Could This be the Beginning of a New War in Gaza?

by Jake Wallis Simons

Now that Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing in Gaza, has been killed by Israel, it is only a matter of time before attacks begin of a different sort. Last weekend saw an intense wave of rocket attacks from Gaza, which wounded several Israelis and caused extensive damage to property despite the Iron Dome defence system and a network of bomb shelters. This raised the spectre of vulnerability in Israel, as the public begins to feel that the level of deterrence achieved by Operation Cast Lead in 2009 has been steadily eroded.

Bibi Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, responded to the violence last weekend by promising to “act to stop the rocket fire”. According to a government official, this was intended to “prepare the world” for an Israeli military response. The killing of Jabari may be either the opening salvo in a broader campaign, or a pinpoint strike to resurrect the military

deterrence. According to intelligence sources in Israel, it seems more likely to be the former; air strikes are continuing following the assassination, and Hamas has declared a state of war. The south of Israel has been placed on high alert in anticipation of reprisal attacks from Hamas, even in areas such as Gan Yavneh and Gedera, which have not so far been targeted. Moreover, as Jabari had close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood who are in power in Egypt, there are concerns that the conflagration may spread to Israel’s southern border. From Egypt’s point of view, the assassination may be perceived as a slap in the face; only yesterday, the Egyptians had brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

A fresh confrontation with Hamas has been forthcoming for some months now. The real question is, how far will Israel take it this time?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Gaza Rocket Fire Kills Three Israelis, Violence Escalates

Three people have been killed as rockets fired from Gaza struck southern Israel, amid escalating violence.

They died when a four-storey building in the town of Kiryat Malachi was hit. It marks the first Israeli fatalities since Israel killed Hamas’ military chief in Gaza on Wednesday.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Gaza Rockets Kill Three Israelis as Clashes Enter Second Day

Three Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip as the renewed conflict entered a second day.

“We have three killed,” Israeli police spokesman Luba Samri told AFP, saying four other people were also injured in a “direct hit on a house” in the town which lies 18 miles north of the Gaza Strip. The rocket attack comes amid a vast Israeli operation against Gaza militants which began on Wednesday with Israel’s killing of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jaabari in an air strike on a car in Gaza City.

Iran issued a statement on Thursday morning accusing Israel of “organised terrorism”. “Iran considers the criminal act of Israeli military forces in killing civilians as organised terrorism and strongly condemns it,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Thursday’s rocket fire on Kiryat Malachi was claimed by Jaabari’s group, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, in a statement on its website. The Hamas militants also claimed they had fired Iranian-made Fajr 5 missiles at Tel Aviv. There was no Israeli confirmation of the claim and no reports of rockets landing anywhere in the area.

Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip since the start of the operation have killed 11 Palestinians, including Ahmed al-Jaabari, the operational commander of Hamas’s armed wing, and wounded at least 100, medical officials said. Palestinian officials said on Thursday that President Mahmoud Abbas had cut short a trip to Europe to deal with the crisis surrounding Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said Mr Abbas cancelled planned meetings in Switzerland on Thursday to rush back to the West Bank.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Gaza Toll Rises as UN Calls for End to the Bloodshed.

An Israeli air strike killed three Palestinians on Thursday, bringing the toll from Israeli new operation against Gaza militants to 11 dead and at least 100 wounded, medical officials said.

The armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said that the three men were all members and were hit as they travelled in a motorcyle-taxi. The fresh bloodshed came as the United Nations Security Council called for the violence to stop after an emergency session on Wednesday night.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Hamas Rocket Kills Three Israelis, Wider War Looms

(Reuters) — A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis north of the Gaza Strip on Thursday, drawing first blood from Israel as the Palestinian death toll rose to 13 and the military showdown lurched closer to all-out war.

Israeli warplanes bombed targets in and around Gaza city, where tall buildings trembled and thick plumes of smoke and dust furled into the sky.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel Considering Ground Operations in Gaza

The Israeli armed forces are preparing to call up 30,000 reserve troops, as speculation mounts that a ground offensive in Gaza is being considered.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s prime minister and security officials will make a one-day visit to Gaza on Friday in a show of support for the Palestinian enclave after several days of shelling by Israeli forces, a cabinet source told the Reuters news agency.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Israel Has ‘Opened the Gates of Hell’: Hamas Warning as Leader is Killed in Strike

Dispatch: As Israel and Gaza teeter on the brink of war, with Hamas warning that an air strike that killed Ahmad Jabari, the head of its military wing, has “opened the gates of hell”, the Telegraph’s Phoebe Greenwood reports the horrors in Gaza City.


By seven o’clock, the debris of the car that had been carrying Ahmad al Jabari had been swept away. The crowds of Hamas soldiers and shocked onlookers had dispersed and Mr Hatour was carefully knocking the broken glass out of his living room window above his workshop. “It doesn’t really matter that it was Jaabari who was killed. It could have been any of us,” he said wearily. “I never believed this truce with Israel would hold. This is what it will be until the world’s final days — us against the Jews.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel’s South Under Rocket Barrages Amid Operation Against Gaza

JERUSALEM, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) — Gaza militants fired dozens of rockets towards southern Israel Wednesday evening while the Israeli military carried out an operation called “Pillar of Defense” in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said it intercepted 13 rockets, most of which were Grad missiles making their way to the city of Be’er Sheva. At least six rockets landed near Be’er Sheva, one of which caused damages to a mini-shopping mall in the city center. No injuries were reported.

According to a report by the Israeli Channel 2 news, a rocket was fired for the first time towards the southeast of Be’er Sheva’ s Dimona, home to Israel’s nuclear reactor. In addition, two rockets have exploded in the Eshkol region in open territories, and a siren was heard in the city of Ashdod. The IDF said in its official statement on Wednesday evening that over 12,000 rockets hit Israel in the past 12 years, 768 of them in the past year.

The Home Command Office ordered citizens within 40-km range of the Gaza Strip to stay indoors and nearby shelters and follow authorities’ directives. School will be suspended in the southern communities until further notice. The barrages were launched amid the Israeli military “Operation Pillar of Defense” against Gaza, which commenced Wednesday afternoon, as the Israeli Air Force (IAF) raided targets in the strip and killed chief of the Hamas’ military wing Ahmed al- Jaabari and his son.

As of late Wednesday evening, the IAF is still raiding the strip and focusing on militant officials and caches of long-range missiles which could target the center of Israel. In addition, military officials confirmed on Wednesday evening that battalions are in stand-by mode near the Gaza border in case a decision is made to invade the strip by ground forces. At a press conference held in the Tel Aviv, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the military is ready to do “whatever it takes” to reach its goals to weaken the militant infrastructure in Gaza and restore calm in southern Israel.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and Gaza Militants in Deadly Exchanges — Live Updates

[About 11 am] William Hague, the British foreign secretary, has put out a statement saying that Hamas “bears principle responsibility for the current crisis”. Hague says:

I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups. This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza. The rocket attacks also risk worsening the plight of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, which is already precarious. Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza should cease attacks against Israel immediately. I call on those in the region with influence over Hamas to use that influence to bring about an end to the attacks.

He then turns to Israel:

I also strongly urge Israel to do their utmost to reduce tension, avoid civilian casualties and increase the prospects for both sides to live in peace. It is imperative to avoid the risk of a spiral of violence. The escalation of the conflict would be in no one’s interest, particularly at a time of instability in the region.

And he calls for urgent progress towards a two-state solution and “an urgent resumption of negotiations”.

[About 11 am] Mohamed Morsi: Gaza attacks ‘unacceptable’

The Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, gave a televised address to the nation this morning, calling Israel’s attacks on Gaza “unacceptable” and predicting they would lead to instability in the region. Morsi, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, an ideological ally of Hamas, said:

We are in contact with the people of Gaza and with Palestinians and we stand by them until we stop the aggression and we do not accept under any circumstances the continuation of this aggression on the Strip. The Israelis must realise that this aggression is unacceptable and would only lead to instability in the region and would negatively and greatly impact the security of the region.

Morsi said he had spoken to Barack Obama on the phone and they had discussed “ways to reach calm and end the aggression”. The Obama administration backed the Israeli airstrikes yesterday. State Department spokesman Mark Toner denounced militants in Gaza for firing rockets into Israel and said the US supported Israel’s right to self-defence.

There had been speculation that in his second term Obama would make a renewed effort to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but so far there don’t seem to have been any major changes in his approach to the conflict.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Photo: Hamas Missile Launch Pad Near Mosque, Playground

Civilian factories, gas station also half a block from Fajr-5 pad

TEL AVIV — A missile launch site in the Gaza Strip was set up by Hamas just half a block from a mosque and children’s playground, according to aerial photographs provided to WND by the Israel Defense Forces today.

Israel yesterday struck the site in question — a Fajr-5 missile launch pad established to fire long-range rockets into the Jewish state.

The photograph shows a children’s playground and a mosque located about a half a block away as well as two civilian factories and a gas station also within a half-a-block radius.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Who Started it?

by Douglas Murray

The papers and media are full of the news that Israel has killed a Hamas leader in the Gaza. Why did this happen? Where did it come from? Is it not yet another example of the blood-thirsty Zionists doing their worst? If you read most of the British media that may well be what you think. After all there has been barely any previous mention in the British papers of the massive escalation in rocket fire into Israel in the last month or the even swifter escalation this week. Certainly no British paper or broadcaster has come close to giving these attacks the front-page publicity they grant to Israel’s response today.

Nobody much bothered to report that in October alone, 116 rockets and 55 mortar shells were launched against Israel in 92 separate attacks. It is such a dull daily occurrence that no one any longer bothers to report the fact that the citizens of whole towns in Southern Israel have to rush to bomb shelters — on land that is indisputably Israeli — several times a week at best and many times a day at worst. Since the beginning of this year more than 800 missiles and mortars have been fired at Israel. Since last Saturday, when Hamas terrorists fired an anti-tank missile into an army jeep Israel, injuring four Israeli soldiers, more than 120 missiles have been fired at Israeli civilians by terrorists in Gaza. Israel has now responded to random targeting of civilians with the targeted killing of a terrorist.

Yet because of the way in which this is reported, many decent people will once again come away with the idea that it is the Israelis who have started this latest round of blood-letting. Whatever atrocity Hamas carries out next will be portrayed as a response, regrettable or otherwise, to Israeli provocation. Thus the British media ends up legitimising terrorism and demonising an ally which is behaving with more restraint than this country would in the face of such barbarism.

[Reader comment by vulture on 15 November 2012 at about 9 am.]

The only thing wrong with your post, Douggie, is your closing line that Israel is ‘behaving with more restraint than this country would in the face of such barbarism’. Judging by their record with Abu Quatada, faced with a constant rocket bombardment the Cameron Government would seek out the commander of the rocket battery, make him a member of the House of Lords, line him up with a Guardian column and a BBC talk show and install him and his harem in a North London home worth £11 million and paid for by the Briitish taxpayer. Britain has lost its spine, its ***** and its brains.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Hero British Bodyguard Shows Horrendous Injuries After Surviving Iraq Blast

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

His eyes are bruised, bloodshot and haunted. But this is just the start of the injuries inflicted on this British bodyguard after surviving a suicide bomb attack in Iraq.

Former soldier David De Souza, 36, suffered a broken back, a severe head wound, and a brain hemorrhage that left him temporarily blind after he used his jeep to block the path of an assassin driving a truck laden with explosives while on protection duty in the war-torn country.

Mr De Souza, who has guarded high-profile clients from former PM Gordon Brown to U.S. actress Tara Reid, has told how he is still struggling to recover from the physical and psychological scars left by his ordeal five years on.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Jordan: One Killed: Several Injured in Clashes With Police

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, NOVEMBER 15 — One Jordanian was killed and a policeman was critically injured in clashes with security forces in two towns as part of nationwide protests against government increase of fuel prices, Jordan police said on Thursday.

The man was killed when a group of protesters tried to attack a police station in the northern city of Irbid in the early hours of Thursday, leading to clashes with security forces, said the police in a statement.

Exchange of gunfire was reported to have taken place before police pushed protesters away.

At least 14 people were injured including police men during the incident, which comes as part of nationwide protests that swept the kingdom in the aftermath of rise in fuel prices.

The policeman was shot in the neck Thursday in the central town of Shafa Badran during similar protests, said the police in a stamen.

Protesters had clashed with security forces in a number of cities and burnt government offices in cities of Salt, Maan, Karak and other parts, in the worst wave of violence since the Arab spring started last year.

In the southern city of Maan, hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police and torched two police vehicles.

Medical sources told ANSA dozens were injured but mostly light injuries resulting from inhalation of gas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sex Crimes Quadrupled in Turkey

At a conference on the subject “Violence Against Women,” Turkish attorney Veli San proclaimed that the number of sexual crimes in Turkey has quadrupled in the last nine years. While in 2002 8,146 offenses were reported, in 2011, there were a whopping 32,988. This was reported by the Dogan news agency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Mosque Hit by Holy Hair Row

Plans to build India’s largest mosque have divided Sunni Muslims in a dispute over a lock of hair. The 25,000-30,000 capacity place of worship was proposed in early 2011 by Kanthapuram A. P. Aboobacker Musliyar, who heads a faction of Sunnis in western Kerala and claims to have a lock of Prophet Muhammad’s hair.


[JP note: Time to get a new heir.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Names Xi Jinping as Party Chief

Vice President Xi Jinping has succeeded President Hu Jintao as head of the ruling Communist Party. The new leader will steer the world’s number two economy for the next decade.

According to tradition, the committee appeared before the media inside Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Thursday in order of seniority.

Xi Jinping, long-expected to succeed Hu, was the first to appear on stage followed by members of the new Politburo Standing Committee, the nation’s top decision-making body.

Standing in front of his colleagues, Xi said the new leadership faced “enormous responsibility” but would fight for a “better life” for China’s 1.3 billion people.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

China Flexes Muscles at Home and Abroad

China’s new leadership has to walk a fine line between keeping a balance at home and throwing its weight around abroad. The rest of the world will be watching closely, writes Wenfang Tang for DW’s Transatlantic Voices.

The world has been watching with interest the recent 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) because it will bring in a new generation of leaders who will likely rule the world’s second largest economy, the most populous country and the largest authoritarian state for the next 10 years.

While the personalities and past experiences of these new leaders are important predictors of their future behavior and policies, three things will likely happen in the next decade regardless of who is leading the country: China will become the largest economy in the world, China will be pushed to front stage in international politics, and China will slip into a populist authoritarian state.

During its National Congress, the CPC officially set its goal for the next 10 years to develop China into a “moderately prosperous society.” Specifically, China plans to double its total GDP and per capita GDP by 2020.

The unstated ambition, however, is to make China surpass the US and become the largest economy in the world, at least when GDP is measured by purchasing power parity (GDP/ppp).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Man Who Grew Up in a Cave Becomes President-Elect of China

He is the son of Communist revolutionary general Xi Zhongxun, a comrade of Chairman Mao.

China’s new president Xi Jinping was officially introduced to the nation today, but to many Chinese citizens it is the face of his glamorous pop star wife that will appear far more familiar.

The Communist Party leader-elect and powerful military chief is married to Peng Liyuan, the syrup-voiced megastar of popular Chinese folk music.

Almost all of her songs are in praise of the Communist Party and frequently appears on state television to sing propagandist ballads with names including Plains of Hope and People From Our Village.

In June 2011, she was even appointed World Health Organisation Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/Aids and tuberculosis.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Keating Urges Australia to Focus on Indonesia

Former prime minister Paul Keating says Australia needs to dramatically improve its relationship with Indonesia and stop being subservient to the United States.

Mr Keating delivered the Keith Murdoch Oration in Melbourne last night, with a speech titled “Asia in the new order: Australia’s diminishing sphere of influence”. He spoke to Lateline before making the speech, saying Indonesia should become Australia’s most important strategic relationship.


[JP note: See The Iconoclast Paul Keating … urges Australia to become Muslim Indonesia’s Dhimmi client.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

First Stone-Tipped Spear Thrown Earlier Than Thought

The hunt for food led hominins to cast the first stone half a million years ago — 200,000 years earlier than we thought. Archaeologists have found the oldest evidence yet of stone-tipped spears.

The new discovery in South Africa suggests that it was neither our species nor Neanderthals that pioneered the use of such spears, but our shared ancestor Homo heidelbergensis.

We already knew that Homo heidelbergensis could fashion wooden spears — a 500,000-year-old horse shoulder blade from Boxgrove, UK, has a semicircular hole in it that suggests it was pierced by a spear. “But the hole’s bevelled edges and circular shape are not suggestive of a stone-tipped weapon,” says Jayne Wilkins at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada.

Stone points used on spears had been found only at sites that date back no more than 300,000 years, and that are associated with Neanderthals or archaic members of our species.

That gives huge significance to a new discovery by Wilkins and her colleagues in 500,000-year-old deposits at Kathu Pan in South Africa. The team unearthed a hoard of stone points, each between 4 and 9 centimetres long, that they think belonged to the earliest stone-tipped spears yet found. The stone points are the right shape and size for the job, and some have fractured tips that suggest they were used as weapons.

Crucially, the points show signs of having been resharpened to maintain their symmetry.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Kenya: Councillor, Four Chiefs in Court Over Baragoi Killings

A councillor and four chiefs were on Wednesday arraigned before a Mararal court and charged with violent robbery, which led to the deaths of at least 42 police officers at Baragoi in Samburu County. The five all denied the charges of robbery with violence and were remanded until November 26 to allow police conclude investigation into the incident. Lachola ward councillor Lawrence Lorunyei, chiefs Jeremiah Ekurao, Amojong Lothuru, Christopher Epul, and Ewoi Losike all denied the charges before principal magistrate Charles Ndegwa.

According to the prosecution led by Inspector John Mugo, the five faced 12 charges of robbery with violence after stealing 12 G3 rifles. According to the prosecution, the suspects with others not before the court committed the offence at Suguta valley in Samburu on Saturday November 10 where police officers who were pursuing cattle rustlers were ambushed and killed.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Kenya: Baragoi Bandits Should Prepare to Die — Police

Nairobi — Police have vowed to pursue and kill cattle rustlers who were responsible for the weekend massacre of 42 officers. Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino told journalists in Nairobi on Wednesday that the cattle raiders will be crushed to end the vicious rustling cycle that has claimed countless lives.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: Non-Discrimination

by Roger Scruton

It all seemed so harmless when first introduced. Wasn’t it obvious that goods and services in a market should be offered freely to everyone, regardless of race or sex? Wasn’t it obvious that there should be legal protection against discrimination in employment, given the history of racial and religious prejudice? Without stopping to question what was happening Western systems of law began to make room for ‘non-discrimination’ clauses, not only in contracts of employment, but in all matters in which opportunities were openly offered to members of the public.

That this restricted the freedoms of employers has seldom been regarded as an objection. We live in a society in which equality trumps freedom whenever the two conflict. Nevertheless, there is a distinction between relevant and irrelevant grounds for discrimination, and discrimination on relevant grounds has until now been permitted by the law. It is acceptable to discriminate in favour of large people when offering a job as a bouncer. But maybe it is not acceptable to discriminate in favour of people from your village back in Pakistan when offering a job at the cash till.

All might have gone smoothly, with an emerging consensus as to the distinction between the relevant and the irrelevant, had not the concept of non-discrimination been captured by a political agenda. Those agitating for equal treatment for women, for gays, for transsexuals and for other groups commonly regarded as marginalised have managed to write their causes into the very idea of non-discrimination. It is always irrelevant to discriminate against someone as a woman, or a homosexual, and this is made clear in the open-ended lists attached to non-discrimination clauses, and now enforced by the European Union under the Treaties and by the European Court of Human Rights. There is no longer an argument that could be heard in a court of law. Non-discrimination has become the latest step in a process whereby the rights of the individual are extinguished by the rights of the group.

Yet surely, even if it was obvious to the majority of people that racial and religious differences are irrelevant in the workplace, it is not similarly obvious that someone offering accommodation in a family boarding house should regard the sexual practices of her guests as ‘irrelevant’ to the deal. We may disapprove of the Christian landlady who refuses to allow two men to share a bed beneath her roof, but her views in the matter are inseparable from the service she is offering, which is accommodation in an old-fashioned family boarding house. If you don’t like that kind of thing, you are free to go elsewhere. Why should we judge the landlady any differently from the owner of a temperance hotel, who refuses to allow her customers to drink in their rooms?

The recent cases show that the concept of non-discrimination, designed to protect groups from oppression, can equally be used to oppress the rest of us. ‘Non-discrimination’ thereby becomes a new and insidious kind of discrimination — discrimination against those who, because they belong to no group that has been singled out for special protection, have only their rights as individuals on which to rely.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Mars Ripe for ‘Cold Springs’ Akin to Canadian Arctic

So-called “cold springs” in Canada’s high arctic may be similar to active springs that could potentially exist on Mars, scientists studying the springs suggest.

Researchers probed the makeup of several salt-laden pools in the arctic permafrost, similar to salt environments that spacecraft orbiting Mars have spotted on the Red Planet. The arctic pools contain microbial life, and could give primitive life a haven if they exist on Mars, researchers say.

“On Mars, we don’t know if there are any springs, but the environment is essentially completely permafrost. So these springs are potential analogs for present-day Mars,” said Gordon Osinski, a University of Western Ontario assistant professor who has expertise in planetary geology.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Nabokov and Can Grande Della Scala

by Hugh Fitzgerald

In the note I just posted on Petraeus and latinized last names — Scaliger, Berzelius, Linnaeus — I put “Can Grande Della Scala” and “Vladimir Nabokov” in among the tags.

Why? you ask. Oh, because in an interview with Bayerischer Rundfunk about forty years ago Vladimir Nabokov noted that among his ancestors was Can Grande Dellla Scala, to whom Dante owed so much:

“My grandmother’s paternal ancestors, the von Korffs, are traceable to the fourteenth century, while on their distaff side there is a long line of von Tiesenhausens, one of whose ancestors was Engelbrecht von Tiesenhausen of Liviand who took part, around 1200, in the Third and Fourth Crusades. Another direct ancestor of mine was Can Grande della Scala, Prince of Verona, who sheltered the exiled Dante Alighieri, and whose blazon (two big dogs holding a ladder) adorns Boccaccio’s Decameron (1353). Della Scala’s granddaughter Beatrice married, in 1370, Wilhelm Count Oettingen, grandson of fat Bolko the Third, Duke of Silesia. Their daughter married a von Waldburg, and three Waldburgs, one Kittlitz, two Polenzes and ten Osten-Sackens later, Wilhelm Carl von Korff and Eleonor von der Osten-Sacken engendered my paternal grandmother’s grandfather, Nicolaus, killed in battle on June 12, 1812.

His wife, my grandmother’s grandmother Antoinette Graun, was the granddaughter ofthe composer Carl Heinrich Graun (1701-1759).

That’s why.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]