Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121216

Financial Crisis
»Spain: Public Debt Hits Record 77.4% of GDP
»Obama Offers Words of Solace at Connecticut Vigil
»Should the US Focus on ‘Global Swing States’?
Europe and the EU
»Alien Nation: The New Census Reveals a Britain That Would be Unrecognisable Even to Our Grandparents
»Germany: Flush Tourists Drive Luxury Goods Market
»Germany: Tree Time in Berlin
»Germany: Berlin’s Refuge From Arranged Marriages
»Italy: Woman Sentenced for Working Six Days in Nine-Year Term
»Jewish Students Running Gauntlet of Hate: Welcome to 21st Century Britain
»Record Figures for Sweden Democrats
»Stoking Anti-German Sentiment in Poland
»UK: Hate Preacher Abu Qatada’s New £450,000 Four Bedroom Home — Paid for by You
North Africa
»“Sharia Thirsty” Take Solid First Round Lead in Egypt’s Constitutional Referendum
»Tunisia Descends Into Turmoil
Middle East
»Iran Executes Its Citizens at a Faster Rate
South Asia
»Army Acknowledges Pedophilia Part of Islam
Far East
»North Korea Marks Anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s Death
»Sea Spats Prompt Indian Thoughts on China
»Sweden: ‘Open the Borders’: Centre Party
Culture Wars
»Sweden: Neither Good Girls Nor Boys in Sweden This Year
»Theodore Dalrymple: Silence of the Feminists

Financial Crisis

Spain: Public Debt Hits Record 77.4% of GDP

Mostly in central gov’t debt; regions stable at 15.9% of GDP

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, DECEMBER 14 — Spanish public debt has hit a record 77.4% of GDP, the Bank of Spain reported Friday.

The central bank attributed the numbers to increased central government debt, which reached 65.9% of GDP in September, up from 64.3% in the previous quarter. The central bank report, released today following European Commission criteria on excessive deficit procedures, shows that third quarter regional debt remained stable at 15.9% of GDP, up from 13.8% in the first quarter. The public welfare system was also stable, at 1.6% of GDP.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Obama Offers Words of Solace at Connecticut Vigil

A grim President Obama told the residents of Newtown, Conn., not to lose heart in the wake of the devastating shootings on Friday that took 26 lives, including 20 children, at an elementary school.

“I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation,” Mr. Obama said toward the end of a vigil in the town’s high school.

Mr. Obama said he was “mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow.”

But he pledged that the nation would offer whatever support it can in the days ahead, as the town tries to move on without those it lost.

“We gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children and six remarkable adults,” Mr. Obama said. “They lost their lives in a school that could have been any school in a quiet town of good and decent people that could have been any town in America.”

But he added: “Newtown, you are not alone.”

[Return to headlines]

Should the US Focus on ‘Global Swing States’?

To uphold international order, the United States should concentrate its attention on four countries, say experts from two American think tanks. They call Brazil, India, Indonesia and Turkey the “global swing states.”

With all the coverage of the recent US election, people around the world are quite familiar with the term “swing states”: those US states which could go either way, voting either a Democrat or Republican into the White House. These are the states in which presidential candidates intensify their campaign efforts because they generally carry the election.

Now, experts at two Washington-based think tanks have applied this principle to the international stage, and have recommended that the US focus on Brazil, India, Indonesia and Turkey. Daniel M. Kliman, of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and Richard Fontaine, of the Center for a New American Security, say the US should work with these nations, in conjunction with the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to maintain international order.

Why these four countries? They fulfill the criteria established by the experts: they are democratic, big and growing economic powers — allowing them to contribute the required funds — and their geographic locations make them central players in their regions, or bridges between several regions at once. And it’s possible, the theory goes, that these four nations — along with the UN, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — could help underscore a democratic world order.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Alien Nation: The New Census Reveals a Britain That Would be Unrecognisable Even to Our Grandparents

Peter Hitchens says that the Census is not just a description of the state of things on a day in 2011 but a prophetic document telling us where we are going.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Germany: Flush Tourists Drive Luxury Goods Market

Growing numbers of wealthy tourists from Asia and Arab countries are streaming into Germany to buy up high-end luxury goods, according to new figures seen by Welt am Sonntag.

Sales to tourists of luxury goods — like expensive watches and jewellery — have shot up in the past year, a trend which looks set to continue, said the paper on Sunday.

A study by the Meisterkreis Association, an umbrella group of 55 luxury brand goods manufacturers and institutions, showed that Germany was an increasingly attractive destination for a new class of very wealthy tourists.

Mainly tourists and business travelers from Asia and Arab nations spent around €5 billion in Germany on luxury goods in the first nine months of 2012, an increase of 52 percent over the same period last year.

Accounting for 20 percent of high-end sales this year, “tourists are the biggest drivers of the industry,” Clemens Pflanz, managing director of Meisterkreis told the paper.

Chinese tourists were among the biggest spenders, splashing out a total of €1.5 billion on luxury goods in Germany in the first nine months of the year, way ahead of other likely splurgers, such as Russians, Swiss and visitors from the United Arab Emirates.

“Chinese (visitors) like to buy things in Germany and Europe because they can be sure that they aren’t in shops selling fake goods,” Pflanz told the paper.

Another reason to buy luxury goods in Germany is that they are cheaper than at home in Asia, where they are seen as important status symbols. Germany enjoys a reputation in China for good quality, well-made products, particularly cars, watches or interior-design items.

German holiday packages catering specifically for wealthy customers and geared towards culture and shopping are now widely offered in China, wrote the paper.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Tree Time in Berlin

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a Tannenbaum. The Tannenbaum may be quintessentially German, but how important are trees in the German capital? DW’s Tamsin Walker went to find out.

It’s that time of year again when little corners of Berlin’s wasteland fill with the unmistakeable smell of the trusty old Tannenbaum as they become Christmas tree sales grounds. The one closest to my home is at the far side of a park — a park home to all manner of trees, yet none that would sit comfortably in a bucket come the end of December.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Berlin’s Refuge From Arranged Marriages

A shelter in Berlin caters to young women who want to escape arranged marriage and family abuse. With such families unlikely to change their attitudes, the best option is for the girls to leave, says the shelter.

Eva, a blond woman in her 50s, insists that her last name not be used — for her personal safety. She is the director of the Berlin chapter of Papatya, an international organization which offers shelter for young women and girls from migrant backgrounds.

In Germany, Papatya predominantly caters to women from Turkish, Kurdish and Arab backgrounds who face honor-related violence from their families. In France, Papatya helps mainly girls with North African roots, while in Great Britain they help women from predominantly Pakistani backgrounds.

Eva says her organization has been very busy. Last week, a girl from western Germany arrived at the shelter. She was engaged to be married and was being abused at home. “Her parents literally locked her up,” explains Eva. “Frankly, the way she was treated was torture. Her family told her they’d kill her if she didn’t marry the guy her parents wanted. That’s when she said, ‘Enough!’“

The girl learned about Papatya through a social worker at her school. But this girl — and the 65 others the Berlin shelter takes in annually — is in the minority. Eva emphasizes that most Turkish and Arab girls will never need to contact her organization, but for a small number of battered women, Papatya is a last lifeline.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Woman Sentenced for Working Six Days in Nine-Year Term

‘Silvia S.’ worked in the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital

(ANSA) Bologna, December 14; A 45-year old woman only identified as Silvia S. was sentenced to two years for having only worked six days over a nine-year contract period. The woman was arrested in November 2011 for aggravated fraud at the expense of public entities and for having providing false information in public documentation.

The woman, an employee of the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi hospital, took long periods of time off for illness and two maternity leaves without having been ill or pregnant.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Jewish Students Running Gauntlet of Hate: Welcome to 21st Century Britain

The delegitimisation campaign against Israel, comprising the obsessional lies and blood libels promulgated by the media and intelligentsia week in, week out, has produced this result: Jewish students in Britain are being forced to abandon their university courses out of fear. On the Jewish Chronicle blog, Marcus Dysch reports:…

[Return to headlines]

Record Figures for Sweden Democrats

A new poll puts the far-right Sweden Democrat party at a record 10 percent, with an increase in support among older voters and voters in north-central Sweden.

The Sifo poll, published in the Svenska Dagbladet and Göteborgs-Posten dailies on Sunday, showed that the Sweden Democrats have gained 1.5 percentage points since November.

By comparison, in August the party polled 6.2 per cent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Stoking Anti-German Sentiment in Poland

Polish opposition leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is playing with the primal fears and cultural resentment of his countrymen toward Germans and Russians for his own political gain — and not without success.

It was just another one of the countless events organized by Jaroslav Kaczynski, leader of the nationalist-conservative opposition Law and Justice Party (PiS). For weeks, Kaczynski has been touring the countryside. This time, he was in Opole, in Lower Silesia, in southwestern Poland.

“I am glad you are here with us — in the region where the constant incidents and provocations by the German minority and Upper Silesia Autonomy Movement have made peaceful life impossible,” said Slawomir Klosovski, chairman of the local PiS chapter, during his welcoming address to the assembled guests.

These were words Kaczynski likes to hear. “Our relationship to the German minority in Poland is connected to our relations with Germany,” he said during his speech. “If the PiS comes to power, the German minority in Poland will lose its privileges.”

The Germans, he went on to say, should have as many rights as the Poles in Germany; this “asymmetry” needs to stop.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Hate Preacher Abu Qatada’s New £450,000 Four Bedroom Home — Paid for by You

Radical preacher Abu Qatada has moved into a new taxpayer-funded house worth £450,000 near to a church — and the furious owner wants him out.

The fanatical Muslim, who preached hate sermons towards the West — arrived in the leafy suburb of North-West London last week.

He had left his previous £400,000 four-bedroom rented home near Wembley Stadium after apparently complaining it was too small for him and his family.

He shares his new detached home, which is paid for by state handouts, with his wife and four of their five children. Similar homes in the area have sold for close to £500,000.

But the woman who owns the smart four-bedroom house reacted angrily last night after discovering the identity of her new tenant — and said she would try to evict him.

She said she was ‘astonished’ to be told the radical cleric had been allowed to live in the property, which she rents out through an agency for £1,400 a month.

Speaking from her home, the owner said: ‘I had no idea who was living there. I have read about this man and why he was in prison, he does not seem like a nice character.

‘A family member was living at the house until they recently passed away. Now we are letting it out via a local estate agent — who told me they would most probably let it to a member of their staff.

‘We signed a contract with the company for six months but there is no way I would have given my permission to rent the house to a man like that — not ever.

[Return to headlines]

North Africa

“Sharia Thirsty” Take Solid First Round Lead in Egypt’s Constitutional Referendum

Al-Ahram is reporting the ten individual governorate and pooled final results, noting that all these unofficial tallies,

are from governorates’ presiding judges, except Cairo’s, which are from the tallies of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Popular Current operation centre and Al-Jazeera TV network.

The Cairo tally favored “No” votes-”No”: 1,256,248 (56.9 per cent); “Yes”: 950,532 (43.1 per cent)

But the overall tally was “Yes”: 4,595,311 (56.50 per cent); “No”: 3,536,838 (43.50 per cent)

These results elicited a predictably crowing response from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which asserted…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

Tunisia Descends Into Turmoil

Two years after the ‘Arab Spring’ revolution in Tunisia, the country is in turmoil. The economy is paralyzed, and the political, religious and social gulf between Islamists and the secular opposition is growing wider.

Hundreds of people have been hurt in protests since the end of November. In the Northern town of Siliana supporters of Tunisia’s largest trade union UGTT protested against police abuse and social grievances. In the course of several days, more than 300 people were hurt in clashes with security forces.

In the Tunisian capital Tunis, radical Islamists attacked members of the UGTT, who were gathered outside the union’s headquarters on December 4 to mark the 60th anniversary of the assassination of its founder.

Elsewhere in the country the situation is tense. Two years after the beginning of the rebellion that became known as the ‘Arab Spring’, the country has still not found peace. The self-immolation of a Tunisian vegetable vendor triggered the initial wave of discontent and protests that quickly spread across the Middle East.

Mohamed Bouaziz had set himself on fire to protest against the authorities which had confiscated his vegetable stall. The news quickly spread and Tunisians in towns all over the country vented their anger over corruption, officials’ arbitrary behavior and the general lack of economic perspectives.

Tunisia’s President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled the country in early 2011, setting the stage for a painstaking political reorganization. The Islamic Ennahda party emerged victorious from the elections in October 2011.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran Executes Its Citizens at a Faster Rate

Human rights organizations are outraged by ever-increasing executions of dissidents, bloggers and activists in Iran. In the world’s most execution-prone country, even misdemeanors draw the death penalty.

The human rights situation in Iran has deteriorated over the last few months, according to a UN report. Indeed, news about the hanging of ten individuals at the end of October in a Teheran prison due to charges of drug trafficking drew criticism from around the world. The hangings were in violation of international law, which dictates that the death penalty be limited to only the “most serious felonies.” That was clearly not the case in Teheran. There are also serious doubts regarding the fairness of the trial against the accused, says the report by the UN Commission on Human Right (UNCHR).

London-based human rights organization Amnesty International called the executions a “state killing-spree,” noting that 344 people have been executed in Iran since March.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Army Acknowledges Pedophilia Part of Islam

Manual warns soldiers in Afghanistan not to talk about certain subjects

A new Army manual that warns American soldiers in Afghanistan to avoid talking about certain topics has unwittingly acknowledged that Western taboos such as pedophilia are an inherent part of Islamic culture.

“By mentioning that pedophilia and women’s rights and saying that soldiers should not mention such things they are tacitly admitting that those things are indeed part of Islam,” said Robert Spencer, founder of Jihad Watch.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a new 75-page Army manual suggests U.S. soldiers are to blame for the large number of deadly attacks on them by Afghan security forces. The manual reportedly says the soldiers may have brought the attacks on themselves because of insensitivity towards Islamic culture.

“Many of the confrontations occur because of [coalition] ignorance of, or lack of empathy for, Muslim and/or Afghan cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction from the [Afghan security force] member,” the draft report prepared by Army researchers and obtained by the Journal said.

Clare Lopez, a senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy, said the suggestion that U.S. soldiers are to blame for the attacks on them by Afghan security forces is outrageous.

[Return to headlines]

Far East

North Korea Marks Anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s Death

Thousands of North Koreans have gathered to commemorate their ex-ruler Kim Jong Il on the eve of the anniversary of his death. The country has also been celebrating the successful launch of a long-range rocket.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un joined top government officials Sunday in a national memorial service in Pyongyang on the eve of the anniversary of his late father, Kim Jong Il’s death. The hour-long memorial event was broadcast live on state television.

The memorial comes just days after North Korea successfully launched a long-range rocket into space, which they celebrated with a two-day rally.

North Korea’s top leadership is calling the successful launch on Wednesday proof that Kim Jong Un has the strength to lead the country one year after his father’s death. North Korea claims the rocket launch was a weather satellite, however many countries have condemned the launch as a ballistic missile test, which, would be a violation of a number of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sea Spats Prompt Indian Thoughts on China

With China’s growing status, India’s political elite is under pressure to assert regional power, particularly at sea. Some analysts believe Chinese and Indian interests need not be mutually exclusive.

Relations with China are currently at the very top of Delhi’s foreign policy agenda.

Indian Foreign Minister Salman Kurshid on Tuesday described growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean as a development that “India will have to accept.”

In unusually clear terms, Kurshid, who has only been in office for six weeks, called on the political elite in Delhi to find an answer to the complex challenge. “China is aggressive. China is a partner for us. China is a neighbor for us,” said the minister.

The real creative challenge for Indian diplomacy, he said, would be how to utilize the strengths of the two countries in each other’s best interests.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Sweden: ‘Open the Borders’: Centre Party

The Swedish Centre Party believes free immigration into Sweden could solve the country’s labour-power needs.

The Centre Party has outlined the new immigration policy in its proposal for a new party programme, writing that Sweden should open its borders and welcome anyone who wants to come to the country.

“Anybody who wants to should be able to create a future here,” Per Ankersjö, chairman of the Centre Party programme group, told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

According to Ankersjö, who is a city commissioner in Stockholm, open borders are a necessity due to Sweden’s lack of labour power and the “flight” from sparsely populated areas.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Sweden: Neither Good Girls Nor Boys in Sweden This Year

When shopping for the holidays, would you buy your daughter a toy gun? Or your son a doll? Swedish retailers think you would — and they’ve pioneered gender-neutral advertising aimed at children.

For many families, the holidays are an important time of the year, filled with get-togethers, banquets, and of course the near-ubiquitous gift-giving around the Christmas tree. For children, the gifts usually focuses on one area: toys.

But would you buy your girl a gun? Or your boy a doll?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Theodore Dalrymple: Silence of the Feminists

So many oppressed Muslim women, so few words about them

The British courts recently asked me to prepare a report on a young Muslim woman of Pakistani descent, and to do so I had to visit her at home. I spoke to her in a room in which a television screen as large as a cinema vied for predominance with embroidered pictures of Mecca and framed quotations from the Koran.

She told me a story with which I was only too familiar. One of eight brothers and sisters, she soon discovered that, while her brothers could do anything they pleased, including crime, she and her sisters were expected to lead spotless lives of infinite tedium and absolutely no choice. At 16, without her consent, she was betrothed to be married to a first cousin in Pakistan, whom she had never met and did not wish to meet. She ran away to avoid being taken back “home” and married off under duress; but in need of companionship and protection (having been until then a virtual prisoner in her parental home), she soon married a young man of Pakistani descent who turned out to be neither a companion nor protective, but criminal and violent. Eventually, she returned to her parents, who gave a less than warm welcome to the prodigal daughter.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]