Monday, January 13, 2003

News Feed 20130102

Financial Crisis
»Italy: New Taxes Give Buy-to-Rent Homes a Boost
»Red Cross to Focus on Southern Europe Amid Eurozone Crisis
»South Korea: Seoul: Government Lowers Economic Forecasts for 2013
»UK: Workers Forced to Rely on State Handouts as Three Quarters of Small Firms Can’t Afford to Run a Pension Scheme
»Billboards Stress Commonality of Religions
»Disaster Movie
»Frank Gaffney: Hold John Kerry Accountable
»Hillary Rodham Clinton Discharged From Hospital After Treatment for Blood Clot
»NASA Mulls Plan to Drag Asteroid Into Moon’s Orbit
»Pressure Builds to Nix Gift of Tanks, F-16s to Egypt
»Top 5 Islam-Bashing Republicans to Watch in 2013
»VU Law Professor Among World’s Most Influential Muslims
»The Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist
Europe and the EU
»Arabs Brutally Attack US Yeshiva Student in Italy
»Bat Ye’or and the Coming Universal Caliphate
»Belgian Hema Store Wrong to Sack Headscarf-Wearing Worker
»Dutch Man Injured in Car Accident Dies
»European Union: Is Europe Standing on Its Head?
»French Weekly Publishes ‘Life of Mohammed’ Cartoons
»Hundreds of Cars Torched in French New Year ‘Tradition’
»Is Slavoj Zizek a Left-Fascist?
»Netherlands: Three Youths Arrested After Train Fire
»UK: Extremism Unchecked in Schools, Secret Briefing Reveals
»UK: Labour Questions TPims as Terror Suspect Absconds
»UK: Mohammed Islam Caught Burgling Southampton Home on Video
North Africa
»Eight Million Dog Mummies Found in Saqqara
Israel and the Palestinians
»Publisher of British Textbook That Erased Israel From Map: “We Are Taking This Matter Extremely Seriously”
Middle East
»Erdogan Dreams of Full Sharia Law in Turkey
»More Than 60,000 Killed in Syria Conflict, UN Says
»New Report on Iranian Bio-Toxin Developments Corroborates Syrian Bio-Warfare Threat Assessment
»Turkish Fighter Jets Hit Over 20 PKK Targets in Northern Iraq
»Wrestling is Prohibited in Islam: Saudi Scholar
South Asia
»Afghan Woman Killed on Conjugal Visit to Prison
»Afghanistan: The Family That Protects One of Islam’s Sacred Relics Braves Politics, Violence
»Afghan Warlord’s Interview is ‘Encouraging’ Sign of Political Engagement
»Britain — and Prince Harry — Are Failing in Afghanistan, Says Warlord
»India: Elite-Backed Sterilization “Safaris” Meet With Growing Resistance
»Prince Harry is a ‘Jackal’ Killing Innocents, Says Feared Afghanistan Warlord
»Two Killed, 35 Injured in Bomb Attack in Pakistan’s Karachi
Far East
»China Ejects New York Times Journalist
Australia — Pacific
»The Bat: A Long-Lived, Virus-Proof Anomaly
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Nigeria Denies Killing of 15 Christians in Northern State
»White House Eases Path to Residency for Some Illegal Immigrants
Culture Wars
»Christian Doctors Call for Ban on NHS ‘Bribing’ Hospitals to Put More Patients on Controversial Death Pathway
»Hunting the Unicorn of Moderate Islam
»What’s Islamophobia, And Do I Have it?

Financial Crisis

Italy: New Taxes Give Buy-to-Rent Homes a Boost

When and how investing in property is still a bargain, despite IMU and TARSU taxes

As with all averages, Trilussa’s warning still holds true [According to the Roman dialect poet Trilussa, if one person has a whole chicken and another has none, they have half a chicken each on average — Trans.] but IMU is in effect a wealth tax ranging from zero (for homes with a low assessable value), to 0.2% for first homes and 04% to 0.6% for properties that are ineligible for the lower rate. What is less easily calculated is the new tax’s psychological impact on buyers. However there is no doubt that IMU is significantly depressing a property market that, if we take the official figures for the first nine months of the year, will close 2012 more than 20% down.

But it is not just IMU to cast doubt on the wisdom of investing in bricks and mortar at the present time. There are at least two other reasons for caution. The first is that the short-term prospects for the property market are anything but rosy. Property professionals do not expect prices to stabilise, let alone recover. The second factor is competition from government securities, which guarantee tempting medium-term returns and are far easier to liquidate than property. The table illustrates four different purchase scenarios for the same property, estimating the return compared with renting or investing in securities. We have considered a property costing €280,000 in a good residential area of Milan or Rome, which could be rented for €800 a month. Bear in mind that, as always when making comparisons of this kind, we are looking at a theoretical case, let’s see what emerges. All the comparisons involve a time horizon of eight years, the legal duration of a non-controlled rent contract for residential properties.


A home costing €280,000 entails a further €5,000 in expenses (lower-rate taxes and notary’s fees). The actual investment should therefore be calculated as €285,000. The cost to the purchaser is represented by interest on the sum invested that is forgone over the eight years (we have have calculated this at 25% of the total cost in all four cases) plus expenses for extraordinary maintenance of the property, which the investor would not pay if he or she were renting. Ordinary condominium expenses and waste disposal taxes are not relevant because they would be still due even if the investor were a tenant. In this scenario, the purchaser would see a return after eight years if the home could be sold for at least €284,000. In other words, the owner would be happy if the property were to maintain its initial value.


In the second scenario, the potential purchaser has to take out a mortgage. We have assumed that the sum borrowed is half of the purchase price and that the loan is at a variable rate averaging 4%. The amount paid in cash is €147,000 (€7,000 for taxes and notary’s fees, including mortgage charges). Obviously, the income from interest forgone on government securities needs to be taken into account. In view of the fact that after eight years, the owner will still have debts of almost €97,000, the property will have to be sold for at least €317,000 to produce a return. In practical terms, the home would have to increase in value by 15% over eight years, and this already makes a return less certain. It should however be noted that the mortgage is partially deductible from income tax. We have not included this figure in our calculations (at current values, the tax benefit would be about €6,000) because of uncertainty over tax deductions next year.

Buy to rent

Little changes from a financial point of view if we look at a cash purchase in order to rent the property. The initial expenses are higher (if the lower-rate transference taxes are not applicable, taxes and notary’s fees will come to at least €15,000). The impact of IMU and the flat-rate cedolare secca tax that shaves off 21% of rent collected must also be factored in. In theory, the property only has to gain 2% per annum in value to keep the books balanced but in practice the buyer will have to find a reliable tenant who pays for the entire eight years and vacates the property without problems. The news columns tell us that this is not always the case. We have not considered the case of a purchaser who also takes out a mortgage because this rarely happens in real life, the loan is subject to a heavier tax regime and there is less likelihood of obtaining the mortgage.

Buying as an investment

Finally, we come to a scenario that today looks entirely theoretical: buying a property simply to hold onto it in the hope of a capital gain in the medium term. In this case, as well as paying all the ordinary and extraordinary expenses, and IMU at the top rate, we have to consider the income forgone in the form of six-monthly dividends on government securities. Today, this operation can be classified as high risk because the property in question would have to increase in value by at least 42%. Performances of this order are recorded in rising markets but today the investment looks more than anything else like an out-and-out punt.

Gino Pagliuca

19 dicembre 2012 | 17:59

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Red Cross to Focus on Southern Europe Amid Eurozone Crisis

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it plans to adopt a strategy for southern Europe over the eurozone crisis, which has made millions of Europeans struggle to get food.

Yves Daccord, the director general of the ICRC, said in an interview on January 1 that the world’s largest humanitarian organization will equip itself especially for southern Europe.

“We are now seeing for the first time that the Red Cross in several European countries need to focus on the poor in their own country, much more than on external missions outside Europe,” Daccord stated.

In Spain, for example, about two million people are receiving help from the Red Cross, including approximately 300,000 who are “extremely vulnerable” by having no chance to support themselves, he added.

Daccord also warned that the developments in Europe, where the “gap between the social needs of the people and their ability to help has increased,” will lead to violent riots.

The European Commission sees the eurozone crisis to be so severe that it has projected a new poverty fund with about 18.6 billion euros ($24.7 billion) to help the most vulnerable.

Jonathan Todd, the spokesperson for the EU social affairs commissioner, said, “We need new mechanisms if we are to help all the poor people who in many cases are now living in a real social emergency.”

New figures released by Eurostat statistical agency showed that nearly 120 million EU citizens are living below the European poverty line.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

South Korea: Seoul: Government Lowers Economic Forecasts for 2013

Before leaving office, the government led by Lee Myung-bak is forced lower economic estimates for next year: Korea will grow by 2.1% this year against the forecast of 3.3%. Possible “improvements” by next fiscal year.

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Despite the best efforts last year, the new government of South Korea will be faced with an economic situation far worse than that of five years ago. Before handing over office to Park Geun-hye, in fact, the government led by Lee Myung-bak has sharply revised growth forecasts for 2012 and 2013 downward.

According to economic analysts in the Blue House, the main cause of this situation is due to the debt crisis in Europe and the budgetary problems in the United States, factors that are weighing heavily on global demand. The Ministry of Finance of the Fourth Asian economy has forecast a growth of 2.1% in 2012 (against the previous forecast of 3.3%) and 3% in 2013 (down from 4.3%).

“The economy continues to slow down — the ministry said in a statement — while global demand is hampered by the ongoing crisis in the euro zone and the still present uncertainties.” The growth of the gross domestic product of South Korea should continue to be limited in the first half of 2013, but “could improve slightly” in the second half, thanks to the expected recovery in key markets.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

UK: Workers Forced to Rely on State Handouts as Three Quarters of Small Firms Can’t Afford to Run a Pension Scheme

Three-quarters of small businesses have no pension scheme and most of the rest are not contributing enough to provide a decent retirement income for staff, a shocking study reveals today.

The stark survey by the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) suggests most small firms can no longer afford to fund decent pensions, leaving millions of workers facing dependency on benefits in old age.

It underlines the so-called ‘pensions apartheid’ between the private sector and the more cosseted public sector.

[Return to headlines]


Billboards Stress Commonality of Religions

Local Muslim organizations have started a media campaign stressing the commonality of Christians, Muslims and Jews. The billboards proclaiming “Same family, Same message” sprouting throughout the Orlando and Daytona Beach areas are sponsored by the Longwood-based American Muslim Community Centers, the Islamic Center of Orlando and the United Muslim Foundation in Lake Mary…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Disaster Movie

When struggling actor Tim Dax was hired to star in a swords-and-sandals movie titled Desert Warrior, he was just happy to have the job. One year later, Dax and the rest of the film’s cast and crew would look on in horror as The Innocence of Muslims—a crudely dubbed version of the movie they thought they were making—ignited protests across the Arab world and controversy at home. Speaking with many of the film’s principals, Michael Joseph Gross reports on a story as old as Hollywood itself: a pursuit of fame and fortune that ended in tears…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: Hold John Kerry Accountable

Members of the United States Senate are surely tempted to give their insufferably arrogant colleague from Massachusetts a pass in confirmation hearings for his nomination to become the next Secretary of State. Quite apart from the tradition of senatorial courtesy practiced in the exclusive club once known as “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” most of them must be anxious to see John Kerry leave it.

There are, however, compelling reasons to resist this temptation and ensure that Sen. Kerry is subjected to rigorous scrutiny with respect to his past conduct, his judgment and his policy predilections.

Conventional wisdom holds that he is certain to be confirmed. Whether that proves to be the case or not, Senators have a duty to serve as the Framers had in mind— as a means of ensuring quality control with respect to cabinet-level and other senior presidential appointments and with respect to the treaties that a secretary of state in particular is wont to promote…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Hillary Rodham Clinton Discharged From Hospital After Treatment for Blood Clot

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was released from a New York hospital on Wednesday, three days after doctors discovered a blood clot in her head.

Mrs. Clinton’s medical team advised her on Wednesday evening that she was making good progress on all fronts and said they are confident she will fully recover, said her spokesman Philippe Reines. Doctors had been treating Mrs. Clinton with blood thinners to dissolve a clot in a vein that runs through the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear.

Mr. Reines said details of when Mrs. Clinton will return to work would be clarified in the coming days.

[Return to headlines]

NASA Mulls Plan to Drag Asteroid Into Moon’s Orbit

Who says NASA has lost interest in the moon? Along with rumours of a hovering lunar base, there are reports that the agency is considering a proposal to capture an asteroid and drag it into the moon’s orbit.

Researchers with the Keck Institute for Space Studies in California have confirmed that NASA is mulling over their plan to build a robotic spacecraft to grab a small asteroid and place it in high lunar orbit. The mission would cost about $2.6 billion — slightly more than NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover — and could be completed by the 2020s.

For now, NASA’s only official plans for human spaceflight involve sending a crewed capsule, called Orion, around the moon. The Obama administration has said it also wants to send astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid. One proposed target, chosen because of its scientific value and favourable launch windows for a rendezvous, is a space rock called 1999 AO10. The mission would take about half a year, exposing astronauts to long-term radiation beyond Earth’s protective magnetic field and taking them beyond the reach of any possible rescue.

Robotically bringing an asteroid to the moon instead would be a more attractive first step, the Keck researchers conclude, because an object orbiting the moon would be in easier reach of robotic probes and maybe even humans.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pressure Builds to Nix Gift of Tanks, F-16s to Egypt

Later this month, the new government in Egypt is scheduled to begin taking delivery of 10 F-16 fighter jets and 200 Abrams tanks — courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

The $213 million deal is part of a foreign aid package signed when American ally Hosni Mubarak was president, but a growing chorus of critics say the Obama administration should pull the plug. They cite Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood government’s mixed signals to the U.S. and Israel, as well as America’s fiscal problems, as reasons for rescinding the deal.

“A Shariah dictatorship on Israel’s border — armed with American weapons — is a deadly threat to Israel and America,” reads a petition being circulated by The American Center for Law and Justice. “All U.S. funding to Egypt must be cut off until we can certify that aid to Egypt will help the national security interests of the United States and Israel.”

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Top 5 Islam-Bashing Republicans to Watch in 2013

While some prominent haters were booted out of office, there are still plenty of Islamophobes hanging around American politics.

When Muslim-American organizations and activists concerned with Islamophobia woke up the day after the election, on November 7, they were elated. Key members of what had been dubbed the House Republican “Islamophobia caucus” had been voted out of office…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

VU Law Professor Among World’s Most Influential Muslims

VALPARAISO | A Valparaiso University assistant law professor has been named to a list of the world’s most influential Muslims. Faisal Kutty, 44, is among “The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims,” compiled by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan. The publication is part of an annual series that highlights how Muslims impact the world. Kutty, who teaches comparative law, Islamic law and legal writing and reasoning at VU, appeared on the list two times previously. A native of Toronto, Canada, he specializes in human rights, national security law, business, community advocacy and Islamic law. Kutty’s interest in human rights was strengthened by a 2003 incident that happened to his father, Ahmad Kutty. Ahmad, an imam who teaches at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, flew to the United States for a conference. U.S. immigration officials jailed him in Fort Lauderdale and interrogated him for 16 hours, suspecting him of being connected to terrorist-related organizations. Though the elder Kutty was eventually released, the incident fueled his son’s resolve to protect the civil rights of all individuals…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


The Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist

On the morning of July 30, 2012, an accountant named Michel Gauvreau arrived at the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve, housed in a huge red brick warehouse on the side of the Trans-Canadian Highway in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, about two hours northeast of Montreal. Inside, baby-blue barrels of maple syrup were stacked six high in rows hundreds deep. Full, each barrel weighs about 620 pounds. With grade A syrup trading at about $32 per gallon, that adds up to $1,800 a barrel, approximately 13 times the price of crude oil.

The fiscal year was coming to a close, and the Federation of Québec Maple Syrup Producers had hired Gauvreau’s company, Veragrimar, to audit its inventory. Québec dominates the maple syrup market, and since 2002 the Federation has operated as a legal cartel, setting production quotas and prices, authorizing buyers, and stockpiling syrup. There were around 16,000 barrels here, about one-tenth of Québec’s annual production. The gap between the rows was barely wide enough to walk through, and the rubber soles of Gauvreau’s steel-tip boots stuck to the sugar-coated concrete floor.

He scaled a row of barrels and was nearing the top of the stack when one of them rocked with his weight. He nearly fell. Regaining his balance, he rattled the barrel: It was light because it was empty. He soon found others that were empty. After notifying the federation’s leaders and returning with them to examine the stockpile, they unscrewed the cap on a full barrel. The liquid inside was not goopy, brown, or redolent with the wintry scent of vanilla, caramel, and childhood; it was thin, clear, and odorless. It was water.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Arabs Brutally Attack US Yeshiva Student in Italy

A gang of Arabs brutally attacked an American yeshiva student visiting with his family in Venice, Italy. Jewish community: This is rare.

A gang of Arabs brutally attacked an American yeshiva student visiting with his family in Venice, Italy, in what local community leaders said was a rare instance of anti-Semitism.

The student was knocked unconscious on Tuesday when he strolled late at night in the center of the city. A band of 15 Arab youth pounced on him, dragged him into a dark corner and pummeled him, using sharp weapons.

The student lost consciousness, and the attackers fled when a passerby spotted them and called police and medics.

The police are investigating, but have but have not caught the attackers.

The Milan-based Center for Jewish Documentation’s Observatory on Anti-Jewish Prejudice reported last month that the number of anti-Semitic episodes in the country soared last year.

The incidents ranged from street insults and swastika graffiti to physical aggression.

“We observed approximately 70 cases so far this year, most of them graffiti and online attacks, over 40% more than last year,” said Observatory researcher Stefano Gatti. “The boom might be due partly to more efficient data-gathering, but the episodes have undeniably increased,” he added.

Gatti also pointed out that Italian pundits and politicians “such as Silvio Berlusconi, Beppe Grillo or Piergiorgio Odifreddi” are now writing discriminatory posts and telling racist jokes. “Making certain issues seem normal, even funny, is one of the root causes of the rise in anti-Semitic episodes in Italy,” Gatti said.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Bat Ye’or and the Coming Universal Caliphate

by Richard L. Rubenstein (January 2013)

A review essay of Bat Ye’or, Europe, Globalization, and the Coming of the Universal Caliphate (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2010). This essay was first published as “Coming Attractions: Caliphates?” in the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, December issue Vol 4 #2.

In the past few years, it has become all too apparent that the nations of the European Union (EU) have made a catastrophic mistake when they created a common, one-size-fits all currency, the euro, ignoring the vast differences in productive capacity, financial resources, work habits, and culture of the member nations. The full consequences of this mistake have yet to unfold, but the instability in the world’s financial markets may be a foretaste of darker troubles ahead.

While the financial crisis has been recognized, a far worse error of judgment has yet to be recognized, at least by Europe’s leaders, the surrender of Europe’s cultural identity as a consequence of the introduction of a largely unassimilable Muslim population into the EU. According to the U.S. Department of State’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, 2005, the EU’s Muslim population numbered 23.2 million and has continued to increase since then. In France alone, the Report estimated that there were between five and six million Muslims, about ten percent of the population. Moreover, as Harvard Historian Niall Ferguson has pointed out, the fundamental problem facing Europe’s indigenous population is “senescence.”1

This is not true of Europe’s Muslim population. With or without further immigration, it is expected to increase considerably. Moreover, as Bat Ye’or points out in her new book, Europe, Globalization, and the Coming Universal Caliphate (Madison, NJ: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2011) the rising number of Muslims constitute only a part of the problem. Far more problematic have been the political, economic, and cultural motives that led to Europe’s fateful decision to permit this unprecedented mass immigration.

To explain that decision, Bat Ye’or begins with a discussion of the concept of dhimmitude, a term she characterizes as “concealed knowledge.” Although “few terms are as significant for the understanding of current events,” she reports that the term is “unknown by the general public and taboo in academia.” Dhimmitude, she argues, designates the civilizations “conquered by jihad and subject to sharia law.”

It is her conviction that the nations of the European Union (EU) are in the process of submitting to that subordination at the present time. Alternatively, as she demonstrates, dhimmitude can be understood as arguably the most effective and enduring system of religiously legitimated domination human beings have ever created.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Belgian Hema Store Wrong to Sack Headscarf-Wearing Worker

A Belgian branch of Dutch department store Hema was wrong to sack a woman worker for wearing a headscarf, a Belgian industrial tribunal ruled on Wednesday.

The woman had worked for the store in Genk for two months wearing a headscarf but was then sacked for refusing to remove it after complaints from customers.

The tribunal ordered Hema to pay the 21-year-old woman six month’s salary — €9,000 — in compensation.

The company has since drawn up formal clothing requirements for its Belgian stores, news agency ANP said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Dutch Man Injured in Car Accident Dies

THE HAGUE, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) — A 59-year-old man who got seriously injured in a car accident on Tuesday in the Frisian village Raard passed away, said the municipality Dongeradeel on Tuesday evening. On Tuesday, a 42-year-old woman drove into a group of people surrounding a bonfire celebrating the new year in Raard. Seventeen people were wounded, of which one died on Tuesday evening. Currently at least twelve injured are still in the hospital, some of them in a very bad condition. What exactly happened on is still not clear, but the incident does not seem premeditated…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

European Union: Is Europe Standing on Its Head?

Dagens Nyheter Stockholm

Born to give a political dimension to the common values ??of Europeans, the Union, with the complicity of the member states, has acquired power and skills that have weakened the people it was supposed to defend, argues the Irish writer Colm Tóibín.

Colm Tóibín

The European Union seems like a strange dream we had; it was a way of shaping and crafting a set of political values into a complex system which would place human values, a rich culture and ideas of equality at the very centre of our concerns. It turns out that as a system the European Union could withstand anything except a crisis.

Now, under the stress of a financial crisis, every country is sure of one thing only — that its own borders and its own interests matter more than any common good. While the old currencies may have gone, or most of them have, the old ways of thinking remain.

In our loyalties, once the pressure is on, we live in nation states, even though our banks function under a new global dispensation. Money moves now in the same way as air does, utterly free, being blown back and forth by the wind, unregulated, unstable, uncertain. It is ideas which have remained under lock and key. And with ideas, identities. We are sure now who is German and who is Greek; we are sure that we are Irish and you are Swedish.

Remember the dream

It is important to remember what the dream meant. It is important now at the periphery of Europe where I live to begin again to use the language of political and cultural idealism, to take the language which has been debased by our political masters and see if certain (or uncertain) words or concepts might mean something, even if only to offer us the comfort than poetry does, language used sonorously and responsibility, in a time of private hardship…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

French Weekly Publishes ‘Life of Mohammed’ Cartoons

A French weekly published Wednesday a comic book biography of the Prophet Mohammed that it says is a well-researched work by a Franco-Tunisian sociologist. Charlie Hebdo’s offices were firebombed in 2011 after it published cartoons of the prophet.

A French satirical magazine, whose offices were fire-bombed after it published cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed, on Wednesday published a comic book biography of Islam’s founder.

The editor of Charlie Hebdo weekly has insisted that the new book, titled “The Life of Mohammed”, was a properly researched and educational work prepared by a Franco-Tunisian sociologist.

“It is a biography authorised by Islam since it was edited by Muslims,” said Stephane Charbonnier, who was also the illustrator of the book whose front page shows the prophet leading a camel through the desert.

“I don’t think higher Muslim minds could find anything inappropriate,” he told AFP last week.

Charbonnier said the idea for the comic book came to him in 2006 when a newspaper in Denmark published cartoons of Mohammed, later republished by Charlie Hebdo, drawing angry protests across the Muslim world.

“Before having a laugh about a character, it’s better to know him. As much as we know about the life of Jesus, we know nothing about Mohammed,” he said.

Satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo has on several occasions published cartoon versions of Islam’s prophet in a declared effort to defend free speech, to the fury of many Muslims who believe depicting Mohammed is sacrilegious.

In September Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of a naked Mohammed as violent protests were taking place in several countries over a low-budget film made in the United States that insults the prophet.

In 2011 Charlie Hebdo’s offices were hit by a firebomb and its website pirated after publishing an edition titled “Charia Hebdo” featuring several Mohammed cartoons.

Charbonnier, who has received death threats, lives under police protection.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Hundreds of Cars Torched in French New Year ‘Tradition’

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday that 1,193 vehicles were torched by French youths overnight in what has become a dubious New Year’s Eve tradition.

Hundreds of empty, parked cars go up in flames in France each New Year’s Eve, set afire by young revelers, a much lamented tradition that remained intact this year with 1,193 vehicles burned, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday.

His announcement was the first time in three years that such figures have been released. The conservative government of former President Nicolas Sarkozy had decided to stop publishing them in a bid to reduce the crime — and not play into the hands of car-torching youths who try to outdo each other.

France’s current Socialist government decided otherwise, deeming total transparency the best method, and the rate of burned cars apparently remained steady. On Dec. 31, 2009, the last public figure available, 1,147 vehicles were burned.

Like many countries, France sees cars set on fire during the year for many reasons, including gangs hiding clues of their crimes and people making false insurance claims.

But car-torching took a new step in France when it became a way to mark the arrival of the New Year. The practice reportedly began in earnest among youths — often in poor neighborhoods — in the 1990s in the region around Strasbourg in eastern France.

It also became a voice of protest during the fiery unrest by despairing youths from housing projects that swept France in the fall of 2005. At the time, police counted 8,810 vehicles burned in less than three weeks.

Yet even then, cars were not burned in big cities like Paris, and that remained the case this New Year’s Eve. Minister Valls said the Paris suburban region of Seine-Saint-Denis, where the 2005 unrest started, led the nation for torched cars, followed by two eastern regions around Strasbourg.

For some, the decision to tell the public how many cars have been burned on New Year’s Eve is a mistake.

Bruno Beschizza, the national secretary for security matters in Sarkozy’s UMP party, said on iTele TV that publishing the numbers motivates youths to commit such crimes. “We know that neighborhoods compete,” he said. Gang rivalries center on who can torch the most cars, with claims made on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Is Slavoj Zizek a Left-Fascist?

by Alan Johnson

Liberals always say about totalitarians that they like humanity, as such, but they have no empathy for concrete people, no? OK, that fits me perfectly. Humanity? Yes, it’s OK — some great talks, some great arts. Concrete people? No, 99 per cent are boring idiots. (Slavoj Žižek)

Zeev Sternhell’s study of inter-war French fascism was — or rather should have been — paradigm-shifting because he showed that fascism was “neither Left not Right.” Rather, the ostensibly opposed extremes were united in their hatred of what they called “the established disorder” of materialism, parliamentary democracy and bourgeois society, as well as in their “distaste for the lukewarm,” and their fascination with “the idea of a violent relief from mediocrity”. These ideas, or more precisely, prejudices, gained influence and created an intellectual climate that was able to erode “the moral legitimacy of an entire civilisation,” and foster an inchoate ideology of revolt based on spirit and will…

Another point of kinship with left-fascism — one thinks of the Baader-Meinhof gang in 1970s West Germany — is Žižek’s spiritualization of the self-sacrificial death. The intellectual historian Richard Wolin tells us that the inter-war left-fascist (and father of post-structuralism) Georges Bataille “effusively praised Italian Fascism’s morbid iconography — mortuary symbols, black pennants, and death’s heads”, believing that “[a] living man regards death as the fulfillment of life; he does not see it as a misfortune.” Exactly the same morbid attraction to self-sacrificial death can be found in Žižek’s writings, and nowhere more so than In Defence of Lost Causes, his 500-page warrant for Left-wing totalitarianism released in 2008…

[JP note: Happy daze for psychos and perfectly in tune with the Muslim Brotherhood’s “The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal.” ]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Three Youths Arrested After Train Fire

Three youths have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a fire in a train, possibly caused by fireworks, Utrecht local television reports.

The fire appears to have started in the area between two compartments on an intercity train travelling from Breukelen to Abcoude.

The train, which was carrying around 90 people, was evacuated and no-one was injured. Photographs of the fire show heavy black smoke belching across the countryside.

The track between Utrecht and Amsterdam has been closed because of the fire and trains are being diverted via Hilversum.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Extremism Unchecked in Schools, Secret Briefing Reveals

More than 100 independent faith schools may be radicalising students, the Department of Education has warned in a secret memo which admits that officials are struggling to tackle extremism in state and private schools.

Michael Gove, the education secretary, was one of the key voices calling for a ban on support for non-violent extremism when it published its Prevent strategy to fight radicalisation last year. But behind closed doors there are concerns about 118 “socially conservative” independent faith schools — the vast majority of them Muslim — where pupils may be encouraged to cut themselves off from mainstream society. Ministers have been told they do not have “detailed information” about the religious orientation of the groups and movements behind all independent faith schools. And officials have privately admitted that they also have no system in place to identify institutional extremism in state schools, the Daily Telegraph has learned. They say there is also “a gap between what we think we know and what we can prove” because they cannot use undercover methods open to journalists…

[Reader comment by petefish on 31 December 2012 at 8:16 am.]

promoting a highly conservative version of Islam and spreading extremist views, particularly against non-Muslims.

there is no such thing as a (version of Islam) there is just islam and what they are teaching is not extremism it’s main stream islam it’s what it says in the koran all this talk of extremism is just an attempt to separate islam from all this, there is no such thing as moderate islam there may be moderate muslims but there is no such thing as moderate islam

(Edited by author 1 day ago)

[Reply by mikevienna on 31 December 2012 at 8:33 am.]

careful petefish or they will throw you in jail as in the case of Tommy Robinson. I find it strange that not one single MSM has even run a small story on that fact. The wall of silence is deafening. I am not promoting the EDL or their agenda but I am very concerned that the leader of a populist movement has been arrested, imprisoned and not a squeek from the press. We heard a lot about “pussy riot” imprison in Russia but this case gets zero coverage. Why? Have we now progressed to political prisoners or people simply made to disappear because that is worrying.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Labour Questions TPims as Terror Suspect Absconds

The government has “important questions” to answer over how a terror suspect absconded while under an anti-terror control measure, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said.

Police are continuing to search for Ibrahim Magag, who disappeared from Camden, north London on Boxing Day. He was previously subject to a control order but they were replaced by TPim control measures last January…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Mohammed Islam Caught Burgling Southampton Home on Video

EVERY picture tells a story, none more so when intruders were caught on camera. Fed up at being previously burgled Mark Avery installed his own close circuit television camera in the living room at his Southampton house. And his initiative bore fruit…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Eight Million Dog Mummies Found in Saqqara

During routine excavations at the dog catacomb in Saqqara necropolis, an excavation team led by Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at The American University in Cairo (AUC), and an international team of researchers led by Paul Nicholson of Cardiff University have uncovered almost 8 million animal mummies at the burial site.

Studies on their bones revealed that those dogs are from different breeds but not accurately identified yet.

“We are recording the animal bones and the mummification techniques used to prepare the animals,” Ikram said.

Studies on the mummies, Ikram explains, revealed that some of them were old while the majority were buried hours after their birth. She said that the mummified animals were not limited to canines but there are cat and mongoose remains in the deposit.

“We are trying to understand how this fits religiously with the cult of Anubis, to whom the catacomb is dedicated,” she added.

Ikram also told National Geographic, which is financing the project, that “in some churches people light a candle, and their prayer is taken directly up to God in that smoke. In the same way, a mummified dog’s spirit would carry a person’s prayer to the afterlife”.

Saqqara dog catacomb was first discovered in 1897 when well-known French Egyptologist Jacques De Morgan published his Carte of Memphite necropolis, with his map showing that there are two dog catacombs in the area.

However, mystery has overshadowed such mapping as it was not clear who was the first to discover the catacombs nor who carried out the mapping, and whether they were really for dogs.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Publisher of British Textbook That Erased Israel From Map: “We Are Taking This Matter Extremely Seriously”

The British publisher of a textbook that featured a map that labelled Israel as “Occupied Palestine” has apologized for the error. A message posted to the Garnet company’s website read in part, “This was a serious editorial error and was subsequently corrected. The book in question has not been in print for several years.”

In a further twist, The Commentator revealed that the company is owned by the Tahseen Khayat Group of Lebanon. The Tahseen Khayat Group also owns Garnet’s “sister group” Ithaca Press, which describes itself as a ‘leading publisher of academic books on Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, most recently featuring the ‘Great Books of Islamic Civilisation’ and books such as ‘Through the Wall of Fire’ which documents, “the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians beginning in 1948.”

Nicky Pratt, Publisher of Garnet Education, who didn’t work at Garnet when the book was published in 2003, wrote in an email to The Algemeiner that he “cannot with any confidence determine why it happened,” and added that “Garnet Education has never had a political agenda and as a publisher that sells globally would never seek to alienate any client. Please be assured that we are taking this matter extremely seriously, and will ensure that such an error is not repeated in the future.”

He further added in the email: “Since this course has been out of print for some time, and the ‘life-cycle’ of educational materials tends to be relatively short (normally a maximum of five years), it is unlikely that very many institutions will be using the 2003 edition. It’s not easy to identify who these people might be, as all publishers have a system of third-party distribution, and our main distributor has changed in the last few years. Our Sales team are currently trying to track down as many people as possible who have been in receipt of these books, in order to either replace them with the corrected edition or offer a more up-to-date alternative. In the meantime, we are more than happy to do the same for anyone who contacts us over the issue.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Erdogan Dreams of Full Sharia Law in Turkey

by Daniel Pipes

THE menu for meals on my Turkish Airlines flight this month assured passengers that food selections “do not contain pork”. The menu also offered a serious selection of alcoholic drinks, including champagne, whisky, gin, vodka, raki, wine, beer, liqueur and cognac.

This oddity of simultaneously adhering to and ignoring Islamic law, the sharia, symbolises the uniquely complex public role of Islam in today’s Turkey, as well as the challenge of understanding the Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish abbreviation, AKP) which has dominated the country’s national government since 2002…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

More Than 60,000 Killed in Syria Conflict, UN Says

At least 60,000 people have died in Syria’s almost two-year-long conflict, the UN’s Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said on Wednesday, referring to an exhaustive study that compared death reports from seven different sources.

At least 60,000 people have been killed in Syria’s civil war, with monthly casualty figures steadily increasing since the conflict began almost two years ago, according to a new analysis released Wednesday by the United Nations.

The death toll is a third more than the figure of 45,000 given by activists opposed to the regime of President Bashar Assad — the first time that the global body’s estimates are higher.

It comes as activists report that a Syrian warplane blasted a gas station near Damascus on Wednesday, killing and wounding dozens of people and igniting a huge fire in what could be one of the bloodiest attacks in weeks during the 22-month conflict.

Independent experts compared 147,349 killings reported by seven different sources — including the government — for the study, which was commissioned by the U.N. human rights office.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Report on Iranian Bio-Toxin Developments Corroborates Syrian Bio-Warfare Threat Assessment

Our NER interview with Dr. Bellamy van Aalst and this latest Kahlili report should start a new conversation among national security echelons in Israel and US on how to eliminate these deadly bio-warfare weapons of mass destruction. The conversation would define the breadth of the bio-warfare threats from Iran and Syria, and how to reduce them . .As Dr. Bellamy van Aalst noted in her NER interview: Middle East threat reduction requires a far more aggressive and comprehensive approach to deter the proliferation of biological weapons. In my view, any new threat reduction paradigm must have a component wherein ultimately we take out those scientific teams. BW is heavily underpinned by knowledge transfer and we need to be prepared right now to target and take out their scientific teams as has been done in Iran with several of their nuclear scientists. This must be a component of a total threat reduction plan. Once again Iran’s Supreme leader and his more radical echelons in Tehran have conned us with taqiyya, diverting our attention from their real intentions, developing an arsenal of virtually untraceable deadly bio-weapons that could result in tens of millions of deaths. All while Israel, the US and the P5+1 at the UN are contending with the Islamic Republic approaching looming ‘red lines’ of nuclear enrichment and weapons development. The unleashing of bio-warfare agents against Israel and the US, as Kahlili said in his report , could bring both countries to their knees. The threat from these deadly bio-toxins developments is both breathtaking and frightening. These deadly bio-toxin programs in both Iran and Syria must be stopped

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon[Return to headlines]

Turkish Fighter Jets Hit Over 20 PKK Targets in Northern Iraq

ANKARA, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) — Turkish fighter jets bombed over 20 targets of the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq late Monday, private Dogan news agency reported on Tuesday. Eight Turkish F-16 fighter jets hit the targets, after a Turkish army’s unmanned aerial vehicles detected some moving PKK groups in Zap, Avasin and Baysan regions in Northern Iraq, according to the report. Turkish army targeted PKK members for two hours and destroyed targets including anti-aircraft batteries and hideouts which was set up by the PKK militants for winter conditions, said the report. The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms in 1984 in an attempt to create an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey. Since then, more than 40,000 people have been killed in conflicts involving the group.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Wrestling is Prohibited in Islam: Saudi Scholar

A prominent Saudi Islamic scholar was reported on Wednesday as saying wrestling and other dangerous games are prohibited in Islam because they harm the body. Sheikh Ali Al Hikmi, a member of the 7-man Supreme Scholars Authority in the Gulf Kingdom, said Muslims are not permitted to hurt themselves under any circumstances. “Therefore, dangerous games such as wrestling and other fighting duels are not permitted in Islam since they cause unnecessary harm to oneself and the opponent,” he was quoted as saying by the Arabic language daily Alhayat…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Woman Killed on Conjugal Visit to Prison

An Afghan prisoner murdered his wife during a conjugal visit, allegedly because she had been unfaithful after he was jailed for killing her relatives, police said Wednesday.

Din Mohammad was sentenced to 20 years in prison two years ago for killing his mother-in-law, and his wife’s brother and sister in the northern province of Samangan. Mohammad’s wife, whose name has not been disclosed, visited him in jail in the provincial capital Aybak on Monday and was found dead in a small private room used for inmates to see their wives, police said. Mohammad confessed to her murder, Samangan police chief Ikram Nikzad told AFP…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: The Family That Protects One of Islam’s Sacred Relics Braves Politics, Violence

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN—For 250 years, Masood Akhundzada’s family has protected Afghanistan’s most sacred artifact: a cloak said to have been worn by the prophet Muhammad. Its power drew Afghan kings and presidents and Taliban leaders to a small, blue shrine in a city conquered by Alexander the Great and contested ever since. By the time Akhundzada inherited the guardianship in 2008, it was an honour that came at a high price. Five previous guardians — his father, brothers and cousins — had been assassinated, shot in their offices, in markets and airports. They were hunted, most believed, for their connection to a piece of Islamic history that the insurgency wanted desperately to reclaim. When Akhundzada, a large man with a wild beard and an easy smile, accepted the keys to the shrine, he also bought a gun. There’s no law, he said, that prevents a mullah from being armed if his life is in danger…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Afghan Warlord’s Interview is ‘Encouraging’ Sign of Political Engagement

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar may promise a bloody denouement for coalition forces in Afghanistan, but by explaining his position to The Telegraph he indicates that his party is open to dialogue, says Peter Oborne.

One of the world’s most wanted men has predicted that Afghanistan will collapse into murderous civil war after Nato troops withdraw in 2014 — and expressed his determination to kill more British troops “so they could never make the mistake of coming again to this region.” Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar also launched a full frontal attack on Britain, accusing this country of being dragged “into this baseless and useless conflict to please Washington.” However, the warlord also signalled that his Hizb-i-Islamia party was prepared to fight in the 2014 presidential elections, which will precede the final withdrawal of British and American troops from Afghanistan. Hekmatyar insisted that he wanted a “peaceful transition” from the present Afghan government to a new administration based on “free and fair elections.”…

Analysing the interview, The Daily Telegraph‘s chief political commentator, Peter Oborne said: “It’s very interesting to hear what Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has to say about the political situation after an Allied pullout because he is one of the few major players who will determine what Afghanistan looks like.” He added that he was also encouraged that the warlord was “prepared to give an interview, to talk, to engage in dialogue.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Britain — and Prince Harry — Are Failing in Afghanistan, Says Warlord

One of Afghanistan’s most feared and wanted warlords has warned that the country could collapse into a murderous civil war after the withdrawal of Nato troops next year.

In the bleakest assessment yet of Afghanistan’s future, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar called for a “peaceful transition of the government” to democracy. But, in a wide-ranging interview arranged with The Daily Telegraph, he added that he feared a descent into chaos and anarchy similar to that which followed the withdrawal of the Russians in the 1980s…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: Elite-Backed Sterilization “Safaris” Meet With Growing Resistance

The Telegraph out of Calcutta India reports that resistance grows in India’s rural areas to a government scheme deploying sterilization vans.

Deputy director of India’s Health Department’s family planning division Subodh Jaiswal said that women in rural Bihar “are very conservative and it is difficult to convince them to take part in a sterilisation programme.”

The article mentions that the department launched a mobile sterilization van “to promote sterilisation for women in Patna district.” Jaiswal stated that “only 200 women have been sterilised through this project.”

“Bihar”, the article goes on to say, “needs rigorous family planning measures to check the unbridled growth of the population.”

“(…) women in rural parts of the state are very conservative. To convince them of our sterilisation programme was very challenging.”, Jaiswal said.

“The van has two nurses who administer the process. They try to convince women who have at least one child to opt for the sterilisation.”

According to the officials, the mobile sterilization van was part of a government scheme attempting to “motivate female sterilization”. They admitted that the project has failed miserably because of “conservative” sentiments among women.

“There has been a sharp decline in the number of people who availed of the scheme in the last fiscal.”, they told the Telegraph.

“In 2010-2011, 10,367 women had availed of the benefits of the Adarsh Dampati Yojana; in 2011-2012, only 7,700 women took advantage of the service,” Jaiswal stated.

These numbers prove that these sterilization vans are meeting with resistance from women in rural areas. The use of such mobile sterilization units is not the invention of overzealous health officials in India. It has been developed by World Bank- and UN personnel worrying about population growth in developing (and developed) nations. As early as the 1980s, the World Bank world_bank_mobile_van suggests using “sterilization vans” and “camps” to facilitate its sterilization policies for the third world. The 1984 World Development Report also threatens nations who are slow in implementing the bank’s population policies with “drastic steps, less compatible with individual choice and freedom.”

[Return to headlines]

Prince Harry is a ‘Jackal’ Killing Innocents, Says Feared Afghanistan Warlord

One of Afghanistan’s most feared warlords has launched a withering attack on Prince Harry, who has spent Christmas serving in the country, labelling the prince a ‘jackal’ who was ‘drunk’ while hunting innocent Afghans.

In a rare and exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who has been designated a global terrorist by the United States, heaped insults on the British Royal and vowed to kill as many troops as possible before the UK’s withdrawal in 2014…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Two Killed, 35 Injured in Bomb Attack in Pakistan’s Karachi

ISLAMABAD, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) — At least two people were killed and 35 others injured on Tuesday evening as a bomb went off in a busy area in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi.

The blast took place near the Karimabad Bridge when a large crowd were leaving after a public gathering. Spokesman of the police department, Imran Shaukat, told local media that the bomb was planted in a motorcycle that was parked on the roadside…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Ejects New York Times Journalist

A New York Times journalist has been expelled from China for two months after his paper published a report on the family wealth of Premier Wen Jiabao. The issue highlights the strict media controls in the country.

China has started the new year by expelling an experienced New York Times journalist from its shores. In October the US newspaper had published a report about the family wealth of State Council Premier Wen Jiabao.

Australian reporter Chris Buckley has lived in China for 15 years, spending 12 of those as a reporter. He flew out of Beijing on Monday with his wife and 12-year-old daughter.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

The Bat: A Long-Lived, Virus-Proof Anomaly

Bats are pretty impressive critters. They are notorious for carrying viruses like Ebola and SARS, but somehow avoid getting these diseases themselves. They are the only mammal that can fly, and they live far longer than other mammals their size. What’s their secret? Researchers in Australia sequenced two different bat genomes and found that these unique bat characteristics are not only genetically linked, but may help in the treatment of human diseases.

Flying takes a lot of energy, and the free radicals produced by burning energy are damaging to DNA. Bats, however, have evolved a suite of proteins to not only get rid of these toxins, but also detect and repair damaged DNA. This keeps the bats healthy and allows them to live longer.

The surprises don’t stop there. When researchers looked at bats’ immune response to the viruses they carry, they found something quite novel. When mammals, including humans, die from a virus, it is usually due to an extreme immune reaction called a cytokine storm. It’s the body’s attempt to save itself, but it can actually do the opposite. Bats, however, are missing the genes that trigger this reaction—they don’t experience a cytokine storm, allowing them to carry the viruses unharmed. Understanding how they do this may eventually allow researchers to create drugs that suppress cytokine storms in people or to develop gene therapies to prevent them.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria Denies Killing of 15 Christians in Northern State

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) — The Nigerian government on Tuesday denied reports claiming that 15 Christian worshipers were killed in an outskirt of northeast Borno State on Sunday. Local media had on Monday quoted a rescue officer as saying that attackers stormed a church service in Kiyak village in the outskirts of Chibok, killing another set of 15 worshipers.

Spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Yushau Shuaib said in a statement that though some of the reports claimed a source from the agency provided the information, the agency not only contacted the same officer who denied it in its entirety, it also assigned a special team to investigate and verify the allegation which was later found to be unsubstantiated and untrue. He said the team however discovered that two people were killed by unidentified gunmen around the area on Sunday and whose bodies had been deposited in a hospital. The victims were a security man and a bystander, he said, noting that the agency could not classify the victims as Muslims or Christians because most of the attacks in that northeast axis are nondiscriminatory between religion, tribe or section of the victims.

Borno State, located in Nigeria’s northeastern region, is a Boko Haram flashpoint, where the Nigerian government had declared and lifted some curfews due to wave of attacks.

Waves of attack believed to be perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect have been reported in the northern and central parts of Nigeria. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its latest report that more than 1,500 people, including women and children, had been killed in various attacks by the Boko Haram sect since 2009.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


White House Eases Path to Residency for Some Illegal Immigrants

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration eased the way Wednesday for illegal immigrants who are immediate relatives of American citizens to apply for permanent residency, a change that could affect as many as 1 million of the estimated 11 million immigrants unlawfully in the U.S.

A new rule issued by the Department of Homeland Security aims to reduce the time illegal immigrants are separated from their American families while seeking legal status, immigration officials said.

Beginning March 4, when the changes go into effect, illegal immigrants who can demonstrate that time apart from an American spouse, child or parent would create “extreme hardship,” can start the application process for a legal visa without leaving the U.S.

Once approved, applicants would be required to leave the U.S. briefly in order to return to their native country and pick up their visa.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Christian Doctors Call for Ban on NHS ‘Bribing’ Hospitals to Put More Patients on Controversial Death Pathway

An influential group of Christian doctors yesterday called for an end to financial ‘bribes’ that encourage hospitals to place dying patients on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway.

The Christian Medical Fellowship said judgments about whether to withdraw treatment from terminally-ill patients should be made solely on clinical grounds.

The CMF, which represents more than 4,000 doctors, said financial incentives for hospitals to use the system — thought to run at more than £10million a year in total — should be ‘eradicated’ immediately.

It also urged ministers to tighten controls to end the ‘undoubted abuses’ of a system designed to ensure patients die with dignity.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Hunting the Unicorn of Moderate Islam

by Glenn Fairman

In hunting the unicorn of moderate Islam, the West has occupied itself by passing through a mental gauntlet of Herculean moral contortions in separating the proverbial sheep from the goats. As I see it, those “moderate” voices of Islam, which have been protesting the violence of their brethren by thundering at the volume of a hushed whisper, will diminish even more fully as the Islamicist ascendency moves towards its apex. Who can doubt that in time the faint defiant murmurs of “peaceful Islam” will ultimately become qualitatively indistinguishable from the bloody rancor of the vox bellicose?


Barack Obama gave the Arab Spring his forked blessing, and in the bargain was instrumental in igniting the House of Islam in a firestorm that will swallow what little peace remains in the world. The Myth of Islamic Moderation will soon pass the way of all naive pipe dreams — like the utopian Kellogg-Briand Pact that theoretically should have outlawed the powers of the earth from any longer waging war. Both this pact and the Arab Spring shared two things in common: they both made the coming conflagrations inevitable and in turn made the Spirit of the West incapable of adequately answering the inhuman mutating visage of unrelenting and unapologetic tyranny.

Glenn Fairman is retired and has taken to writing to fulfill his lifelong dreams of immense wealth and rubbing elbows with Katie Couric. He blogs as the Eloquent Professor at or can be contacted at

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

What’s Islamophobia, And Do I Have it?

by Haroon Moghul

An answer in eight parts

A closed mind is a terrible thing to behold. But it’s a far worse thing to have to engage. And yet we must. This Saturday, the woman who murdered a complete stranger by shoving him into the path of an arriving subway train was arrested. Her name? Erica Menendez. Her target? Hindus and Muslims. Why? Because of 2001…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]