Friday, September 30, 2005

Al-Qaida group in Norway

Al-Qaida group in Norway

The Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM), linked to terrorist attacks in Madrid and Casablanca, has active members in Norway according to Italian intelligence sources. Sources at the Italian defense intelligence organization SISMI have warned that volunteers fighting against American-led forces in Iraq are returning to Italy to carry out attacks, and that investigation indicates active links with comrade cells throughout Europe. "Europe is no longer just a site for support and logistical aid for al-Qaida, it has become a type of battlefield," SISMI wrote in a report this spring. According to newspaper Corriere della Sera, Italian CIGM members have had contact with cells om France, Bosnia, Morocco, Sweden, Britain and Norway. Brynjar Lia at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) could not confirm or disprove the claim that the CIGM was active in Norway, but pointed out that a Danish-Moroccan was linked to the May 2003 terrorist attack in Casablanca that killed 45. "The group (CIGM) formed in Europe in 1993 and established itself in Morocco the year after. It has branches in most places in Europe, also Scandinavia," Lia said.

State can expel Krekar

Controversial mullah Krekar suffered a legal setback when an appeals court ruled Thursday that the decision to expel him as a threat to national security could not be overturned, but the former Ansar al-Islam leader is still not likely to leave Norway soon.

In case somebody still doesn't know who Krekar is:

Krekar threatens Norway

Norway's most controversial refugee has lodged a threat against the country that has hosted him and his family for the past 14 years. Mullah Krekar calls his possible deportation "an offense" that shouldn't go unpunished. In an interview with Arab TV station Al-Jazeera, vowed he will never go along with a deportation order issued by Norwegian authorities. "I defend my rights in their court just like Western people defend their rights. I am patient like they are patient. But if my patience runs out, I will react like Orientals do."

Denmark: Culture minister apologises for Muslim comments

Culture minister apologises for Muslim comments

Culture Minister Brian Mikkelsen has apologised for his statements that a canon of the country's cultural heritage would serve as a tool to fight the influence of Muslim culture. The statement upset the work of the canon committee and several members threatened to resign, national broadcaster DR reported. Mikkelsen wrote on his ministry's website, that the cultural canon had no ties to any political party. 'I would also like to reject any attempt to link the cultural canon together with the right-of-centre cultural struggle, which deals with fundamentalism versus democracy. I see the non-political element as one of the cultural canon's finest qualities and have no intention of placing it inside a fixed political frame,' Mikkelsen said. Despite a crisis meeting on Thursday to resolve differences, tensions remained high between Mikkelsen and the canon committee, appointed to create a canon of 84 Danish cultural works in areas such as architecture, film, and literature. Several members of the committee threatened to abandon the project after Mikkelsen's statements at the Conservative Party's national congress. 'In the middle of our country a parallel society is developing in which minorities practice their Middle Age norms and undemocratic mindset. We cannot and will not accept this,' Mikkelsen said in his speech over the weekend, adding that the canon should be used to promote Danish values, 'because not all values are equally good'.

Minister's Muslim culture comments upset canon work

Daily newspaper Politiken questioned Mikkelsen on Tuesday as to whether he felt the canon represented a culture that is better than immigrants' own culture. 'Yes, it is better. Yes. I am an unashamed opponent of cultural relativism, because I feel some things are better than others,' he said. Members of the committee felt that Mikkelsen's comments gave the cultural canon project a political slant. 'I am simply so outraged,' said author and professor of literature Mette Winge. 'Danish culture should not be used to stigmatise an entire population group.' The chairman of the committee, Professor Jørn Lund, backed her up. 'I see the canon project as an attempt to point to a number of valuable works of art, but not as an instruction manual in Danish values. The project should be considered as a tour of good artistic experiences, not as a pointed finger,' he said.

A world of difference

A world of difference

Johan Norberg Norberg, head of political ideas at Timbro, a free-market think tank in Stockholm, is a breath of fresh air for the liberal cause. Norberg started out as an anarchist. Early political activities included hiding refugees the government wanted to deport, and running an illegal early-morning bar to persuade the authorities to extend the city's licensing laws beyond midnight. He became a liberal when he learned free trade had lifted Sweden out of poverty in the 19th century. He points out that in recent decades globalisation has reduced the number of people living in abject poverty by half. In just one generation the average income in developing countries has doubled. So why aren't Western opponents of globalisation more impressed by these figures? One reason is a lack of sufficient information to provide a sense of proportion. For example, the anti-globos often refer to the undoubted fact that people working in Western factories in the Third World are paid a lot less than Westerners would be for the same work, Norberg says. "But they ignore another fact, that these workers are getting far more than their neighbours earn - or than they themselves used to earn - from primitive agriculture.

The problem is that most young public intellectuals are on the left, because bright sparks on the right tend to go into business rather than read books and engage in public debate. It's interesting that Norberg comes out of Sweden, which for decades has been used by the left in Australia as proof that the welfare state can be combined with economic vitality. But Norberg says it's the opposite of the truth. "We were a very free market country for the century up to 1970, when we were the fourth richest in the world," he says. "That's when our welfare state boomed and since then we've dropped to the 14th most wealthy in the OECD. In net terms our private sector hasn't created one new job since 1970."

Norberg's position on immigration distinguishes him from many other liberals around the world: "If people were allowed to cross borders at will, they would take their ideas and their labour and skills with them. He points to the second half of the 19th century, when many poor people in Europe emigrated to the New World. "This benefited them, the countries they were leaving, and those they went to," he says. He advocates something similar now, but on a far larger scale. "At the moment there is a problem. The right supports one part of globalisation - the free movement of capital and goods - while the left tends to support another part, the free movement of people." Norberg believes immigration is already so extensive it'd be unwise to halt it. Pointing out there were 15 million Muslims in Europe, he noted in a 2003 article: "If we close the borders, if we alienate this substantial minority, we risk creating resentment between ethnic and religious groups, and only the fundamentalists would gain."

"It is time for our liberal societies to stop apologising, to get back our self-confidence … the idea that we shouldn't impose our values [on immigrants] is bizarre. We should force everybody to accept every other human being as a free and autonomous individual with the same rights as himself." Norberg suggests evolution has made humans thrive on challenges. So when government expands its reach beyond providing the basic necessities of life, it threatens happiness. "If government becomes too paternalistic it deprives us of the need to be responsible for ourselves," he says. "Then two things happen. We don't get those challenges that seem to make us happier. And after a while we might even lose our capacity to make choices, which in terms of happiness is the worst thing that can happen to a person."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Pakistan: Honour killings and abduction of Christian girls

So, rape of non-Muslim girls has nothing to do with the way Muslims view them? Really?

Honour killings and abduction of Christian girls

According to a recent report, there are special graveyards in Sindh where only women killed for honour are buried. The cult of “karo-kari” in Sindh brings Pakistan a bad name. Many documentaries on the topic have gone around the world, arousing curiosity and shock, but no one is to blame for it but us, no matter how President Pervez Musharraf tries to cover it up. The woman killed for honour is not allowed the Islamic last rites and no one is allowed to visit the unnamed grave where she is dumped. Despite the fact that our parliament passed a law against honour killing, the murder of women continues. Our politicians in parliament actually allowed honour killing in the legislation by making the crime “compoundable”: if your honour is provoked you get mitigation.

A Christain member has now brought up another most dishonourable issue in the National Assembly. He complained that the trend of Muslim boys abducting Christian girls, and raping them after forcibly converting them and marrying them, has not died down. Nothing has changed since the Bishop of Lahore invited the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif to his congregation in 1998 and told him gory details of how Christian girls were being preyed upon by Muslim thugs. Needless to say, the plaint will move no MNAs. So much for our “soft image” abroad. When will President Musharraf do something about these crimes instead of sputtering in indignation whenever such things are mentioned?

Light Posting

Posting will be light here at Fjordman for a cople of days this week. I'm fine, I'm just busy with some family matters.

Cactus and Bitterness Grow Where American Chopper Was Downed

Cactus and Bitterness Grow Where American Chopper Was Downed

That day, Oct. 3, 1993, became known as the Battle of Mogadishu, when an American mission against Somali warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid went terribly wrong. The Somalis shot down not one but two Black Hawks that day -- one of them, call sign Super Six One, would change Maria Osman's life forever. "I hate the Americans," she says, her eyes maintaining their empty sadness rather than shifting to anger. "I hate them for what happened to my daughter. If I saw one I would cut them up into so many pieces." The crowd that has gathered around us laughs, but some begin to eye me suspiciously. Maria and her husband have three more children, she says, but both parents are jobless so they can't always afford to feed them. "I have no hope," she says, eyes downcast. "No hope for Somalia." I wander over to the exact spot where the chopper came down. Over the years, locals snatched up most of the wreckage as souvenirs. But a small bit of Black Hawk Super Six One is still here. Another woman in the crowd shouts that she lost four family members in the fighting that day, including a child. This seems to agitate the crowd of 50 or so people. "Why did you bring a white man here?" one of them demands from Duguf, my interpreter. While I continue to videotape, Duguf taps me on the shoulder and nods toward the truck. We make haste just as fingers begin to point and voices grow louder and angrier. Somalia is a failed nation-state, as still-teetering Afghanistan once was.

For the past 14 years it has existed without a central government. Although I have never covered Somalia, I had heard enough stories from colleagues about it. It's a place where human life has little meaning, where feuding clan militias, juiced up on khat (a chewable stimulant herb), roar down dusty backstreets in "technicals" (pickup trucks modified with anti-aircraft or machine guns mounted on the bed). In Somalia a show of force is the only way to get from one block to another without getting shaken down for cash by other heavily armed gunmen at ad hoc roadblocks. One warlord, Duguf tells me, bragged that he was making the equivalent of $40,000 a day in Somalia by operating dozens of roadblocks throughout the area. Even empty passenger buses must pay between $4 and $6 at each blockade, a fortune in a country where the average annual income is only $600 (according to 2004 CIA estimates).

A major misstep in the operation, acknowledged even in the U.N.'s own independent inquiry, was a United States-led attack on what was believed to be a safe house in Mogadishu where members of Aidid's Habr Gedir clan were supposedly meeting to plan more violence against U.S. and U.N. forces. In reality, elders of the clan, not gunmen, were meeting in the house. When the operation was over and the smoke had cleared, more than 50 of the clan elders, the oldest and most respected in their community, were dead. Many here agree that was the turning point in unifying Somalians against the U.S. and U.N. efforts here. It would also lead to the deaths of four journalists, killed by angry Somali mobs when they arrived to cover the incident.

Archipelago-subcontinent ties ancient

Archipelago-subcontinent ties ancient

A global trade system involving Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Mediterranean basin might have existed since pre-historic times based on various archaeological findings on the island of Bali and several archaeological sites across Indonesia, a noted archaeologist says. I Wayan Ardhika, professor of archaeology at the University of Udayana in Denpasar, theorized that the findings in northeastern coast of Bali, especially at the pre-historic sites of Sembiran and Pacung revealed innumerable Indian ceramics, believed to be the largest collection of ancient Indian-made roulette ware (between 150 BC and AD 200) in Indonesia. In the field of education, the Indian government has doubled its scholarship programs from 75 in the last two years to 150 scholarships a year for under-graduate, graduate and post graduate programs in universities across India and specialized training programs. "Indonesia is among the largest recipients of India's scholarship programs. We are eager to increase the quota in the coming years," he said.

Cooing at new-born babies banned

Cooing at new-born babies banned

A West Yorkshire hospital has banned visitors from cooing at new-born babies over fears their human rights are being breached and to reduce infection. A statement from Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax said staff had held an advice session to highlight the need for respect and dignity for patients. On one ward there is a doll featuring the message: "What makes you think I want to be looked at?" But Labour MP Linda Riordan said the measures were "bureaucracy gone mad". Debbie Lawson, neo-natal manager at the hospital's special care baby unit, said: "Cooing should be a thing of the past because these are little people with the same rights as you or me. "We often get visitors wandering over to peer into cots but people sometimes touch or talk about the baby like they would if they were examining tins in a supermarket and that should not happen." A spokeswoman for Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust said the advice was as much to do with reducing infection as it was upholding "rights".

Space elevator robot passes 1,000-foot mark

Space elevator robot passes 1,000-foot mark

A private group has taken one small step toward the prospect of building a futuristic space elevator. LiftPort Group Inc., of Bremerton, Wash., has successfully tested a robot climber — a novel piece of hardware that reeled itself up and down a lengthy ribbon dangling from a high-altitude balloon. The test run, conducted earlier this week, is seen as a precursor experiment intended to flight validate equipment and methods to construct a space elevator. This visionary concept would make use of an ultra-strong carbon nanotube composite ribbon stretching up to 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) from Earth into space. The space elevator would be anchored to an offshore sea platform near the equator in the Pacific Ocean. At the other end in space, the ribbon would be attached to a small counterweight. Mechanical “lifters” — robotic elevator cars — would move up and down the ribbon, carrying such items as satellites, solar power systems and eventually people into space. LiftPort’s plan is to take the concept from the research laboratory to commercial development.

Monday, September 26, 2005

A good fake Muslima

Here is a German woman who has married a Saudi, converted to Islam and moved to Saudi Arabia:

A good fake Muslima

As long as I can think back I was an agnostic, Russelian sense. My parents were atheists and my father made quite sure I wouldn't fall for any religious sermons at school. And I didn't become a Muslima because I suddenly became religious or wanted to be pious. Actually, I only became a Muslima because my husband asked me to. His family insisted on it, and while he wasn't willing to demand it from me he made quite sure that he would love me to convert. He had been a rebel all his life and he was tired of it. He wanted to go home, settle down and live in peace with his family after all the fights he gave them during his younger years. The older he became the more did Islam mean to him.

I hadn't problems respecting Islam. Unlike Christianity it doesn't come along with a shameful history and more skeletons in the cellar than the human mind can imagine. It might have had its fair share of idiots and culprits marching over dead bodies in order to conquer new grounds but compared to Christianity their numbers were small. Throughout centuries, Islam presented itself as an enlightened and rather peaceful religion. Arts and science blossomed. Just compare Muslim Spain to medieval Europe, or think of the tolerance Islam used to have for other 'people of the book'. Both Christians and Jews could live in an Islamic surrounding without getting harmed. They were demanded not to spread their religion around, and they had to pay a special tax. Compared to the Christian habit of burning this was of course barbaric. As my husband once pointed out, if America would have been conquered by Arabs the natives would nowadays run around in thobes and go to the mosque at friday. Unfortunatley for them they were conquered by good Christians which is why they are more or less extinct except for a few miserable remains in socalled 'reservations'.

Violent threats against police increasing

Violent threats against police increasing

More than one in three police officers have been threatened with violence in the last three months, according to research by Statistics Sweden for the Swedish Police Union. But despite the significant increase in threats of violence targeted at specific officers, many police authorities lack any procedures for dealing with the issue, reported Swedish Radio's Ekot programme. In response, the national police service has implemented a nationwide programme to help protect officers. "This is not like it was before, where someone shouts out a threat when they're drunk - that's part and parcel of police work," said the head of analysis at the national police service, Thord Modin. "Today they know where the police officers live, and in house raids we've found photos of officers that they've taken. It's more targeted and is designed to interfere with the justice system," Modin told Ekot.

Threats Against Police

Because several local police departments lack routines to deal with the problem, the national police have drafted a special plan. According to a police spokesman, threats have always been part of an officer’s life, but now criminals find out where officers live, and are more intent on disrupting the criminal justice system. The unions representing police officers in the Nordic countries have invited their national police chiefs and Justice Ministers to a meeting to discuss the problem.

Teen tolerance declines

A new survey suggests that Norwegian teenagers are less tolerant towards immigrants and more concerned about immigration than their parents. The amount of those who are skeptical about immigration has almost doubled in the past six years. Four of 10 teenagers questioned said they think immigrants represent "a serious threat to the national character." Their answers came in a questionnaire handed out in connection with school elections earlier this month. That's nearly double the number of teens who responded the same in a similar survey in 1999. The survey was conducted by Norwegian Social Science Data Services (Norsk samfunnsvitenskapelig datatjeneste, NSD) and is based on answers from 5,000 high school students. Boys were the most skeptical, with around half saying they agree that immigration threatens the national character. Three of 10 girls answered the same. "We have to look at this in connection with the recent years' terrorist events in London, Madrid and the US, where immigration has been tied to terrorism and terror threats," said Knud Knudsen, a sociology professor at the University of Stavanger.

Denmark: 'Honour killing' worries Pakistanis

'Honour killing' worries Pakistanis

A Pakistani man's alleged shooting of his younger sister in a so-called 'honour killing' over the weekend has led members of the Pakistani community to discuss ways of halting the practice. The Organisation of Pakistani Students and Academics intends to discuss the practice during an upcoming debate forum, according to the organisation's chairman Qasam Nazir. 'Many (Pakistanis, ed) are very disappointed that this problem has again appeared in contemporary Denmark,' said Nazir. Many members of the Pakistani community were shocked over the weekend to hear reports that a 29-year-old Pakistani man was apprehended on Saturday, accused of shooting his 19-year-old sister and her Afghan husband in broad daylight on a street in the southern Zealand town of Slagelse on Friday. The girl died shortly after from her gunshot wounds. The couple were married the day before, supposedly without the bride's family's consent. 'We will try to find imams and other prominent people to get a discussion about this cultural phenomenon, which is not a religious practice in any way,' said Nazir.

How society could prevent killings committed in the name of honour would be the focus of the discussion forum. 'We don't know the actual background for the killing, but if there is talk of an 'honour killing', I would say there is no honour involved,' said Nazir. 'He has lost a sister, and the family must now mourn over two losses, both the daughter and the son are gone. Honour is a strange word to use.' Immigration consultant Fahmy Almajid told daily newspaper MetroXpress that while he supported the young Pakistanis' initiative, he feared it would not prevent future murders of a similar nature. 'It's not the young people who decide whether a girl is to be killed,' he said. 'It's the head of the family. So it's the parents who need to be reached, and they are harder to approach.' Almajid, who has often acted as mediator in family conflicts where daughters have rejected their family's demands on marriage and lifestyle, said honour killings happened more often in families with strong ties to the old homeland.

The Evil Socialism

Here is a Swede that hasn't completely lost his marbles: Johnny Munkhammar, who has been featured here before:

The Evil Socialism

Some admit that socialism is wrong and that it produces a destructive society, yet claim that is has good intentions and beautiful values. They say that socialists at least want to fight poverty and want better opportunities for the worst off. I would say that is at best misleading but mostly all wrong. Socialism is not mainly about helping the poor and disabled or create progress. It is first and foremost about fighting wealth and in partucular stopping individuals from being successful. They hate when one person stands out, when one is more skilled, when one is rewarded for talent. And it is mainly for that hate that they fight for equality; not to give the poor a chance but to oppress genius and success. Nobody should think she or he is better than anyone else is the motto. And if someone proves to be, that has to be neglected or fought. That is why they want the high taxes and massive regulation. That is why they preach equality and social values - to fight the remarkable and successful. If social matters and equality are the most important things, then surely great achievements are no good. Since ideas, thinking and success are great human features, socialism is an ideology based on anti-humanity. That explains why it creates destructive societies. And that is. in turn, why it is not at all based on good values but evil ones.

European Dawn

I have devoted quite some time during this summer and beginning of autumn to write a book in English called "European Dawn - after the social model". It is to some extent based on "Sagan om välfärdens återkomst", but has a wider European perspective, lots of more facts and figures, and chapters on the labour market, taxes, reform examples, etc. The message is that the European Social Model is not the solution to our economic problems - it is the cause of most of them. But reforms that decrease the size of the state radically can bring about a new European dawn. We know what to do and others have done it. The book will be published by the Stockholm Network and Timbro together and will first be presented on the 26th of October in London. After that, more presentations in various countries will follow. Several of the world's leading experts on these matters have read the script and provided some comments. Robert Mundell, Nobel Laureate in 1999, for example, offered this quote: "A blockbuster tract that tackles head-on the major problems confronting the European economy. It should be required reading for all European politicians." Great feed-back indeed. I look forward to see how it will be received by a wider audience in Europe.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Iran prepares war plans, to strike bases in case of US mobilization

One of the difficulties the US is facing in an eventual military confrontation with Iran is that its forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are vulnerable to counterattacks from the Iranians:

Iran prepares war plans, to strike bases incase of US mobilization

Iran has identified seven US bases in the region to attack in case there is the smallest sign of American mobilisation to its borders, and the military assets have been broadly identified to be in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Qatar, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, and Djibouti. Official sources said Iran has also threatened US warships and specific military assets in the Persian Gulf in case it moved for a naval blockade, and these decisions were taken by the Iranian national security council after president Mohammad Ahmadinejad’s combative speech in the UN General Assembly, where he said that in the face of U.S. provocation, “we will reconsider our entire approach to the nuclear issue”. Intelligence filtering out from the highest levels of the Iranian leadership suggests that it considers the present US threat more credible than any rhetoric in the past, and Iran is trying to forge a national consensus to face any military challenge from America. The Iranian leadership is absolutely confident of prevailing over any US attack alone, and it assesses that the American military is “very tired” and cannot run a big military campaign against Iran for long, although independent analysts said the country was making a virtue of a necessity, because none of its neighbours was likely to support it against the United States. The European Union backed by the US is pressing for a vote of the IAEA board for referring Iran to the UN Security Council for sanctions for violating the NPT, and according to newspaper reports, when Ahmadinejad called prime minister Manmohan Singh, he asked him to be “flexible” to avoid a confrontation over the nuclear issue.

Move over Superman, the Arab super heros are here!

Move over Superman, the Arab super heros are here!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Jalila, the new Arab super heroine, coursing across the sky, black hair flying, in her battle to right the wrongs and ensure that justice prevails in the Middle East. "I'll make you swallow your teeth, killer!" she threatens her foe, muscles rippling under her skin-tight garb, as she lands a hard right to the chops. Tough as she is, Jalila, the creation of 36-year-old Egyptian Ayman Kandeel, is not left on her own to fight the forces of evil. There are also Aya the Princess of Darkness, Zein the Last Pharaoh and Rakan the Lone Warrior. Each month, an entire issue is dedicated to just one of the four. Kandeel founded AK Comics in Cairo in 2003 to create a comic to compete with Superman, Batman and other Western super heros, in hopes of dominating the local market. "AK Comics characters are to represent a role model for Arab youth and also to promote, advocate and endorse a positive as well as civilized image of Arabs in the West", according to the company's mission statement. Zein, Aya and Jalila live in an imaginary era, sometime after a 55-year-war, which ended with a peace in the Middle East that is maintained by the United Arab Forces. Rakan, on the other hand, lives in the past, in a time when his parents perished in the Mongol invasion. Of the four, who all have a profound distaste for violence, only Rakan kills his enemies, and then with the greatest reluctance.

Sweden: Fire attack on train

The Swedish intifada continues:

Fire attack on Gothenburg train

A railway carriage was filled with smoke in the Hjällbo part of Gothenburg overnight, after a burning object was thrown in. The train driver managed to evacuate passengers from the train, which was on its way to Angered. The train was waiting at Hjällbo when the incident happened. Nobody was injured. It is still unclear what was thrown into the carriage but police say that although there was a significant amount of smoke, there appeared to be no flames. "Someone threw a burning object in, but the fire went out by itself, so there was just a lot of smoke produced," said Jan Lundin, who was investigating the incident for train company Spårvägen. Lundin told TT that the train driver had seen two people near the tracks, who had had their faces covered with hoods, shortly before the object was thrown into the train.

This is not the first such incident:

Sabotage suspected on Stockholm line

The engineer operating the train first noticed that its brakes were malfunctioning. Then smoke started billowing from the eastbound train. It later emerged that the train had collided with manhole covers that Swedish police now believe were willfully placed on the tracks.

Three arrested for train sabotage

After weeks of sabotage SL, Stockholm's transport company, cancelled all evening commuter trains between Västerhaninge and Nynäshamn on Saturday, saying that they could not guarantee passenger safety. By Wednesday three boys had been arrested and the service began again - but not before the notorious train route had dominated front pages both in Stockholm and nationwide. In recent weeks local youths have thrown stones at the trains and threatened and abused staff and other passengers on the service. The final straw came late on Friday night when vandals threw bicycles and rubbish onto the track near Tungelsta. SL and Citypendeln, the company which runs the trains, immediately withdrew the service after 4pm each day, replacing it with a bus service. Mikael Lindskog, the information officer at Citypendeln, told Sunday's DN that in the last two years this stretch of the line has become like a youth club. "The sabotage usually begins soon after school has finished. Last week a drain cover was thrown onto the track at about five o'clock," he said. "There are threats, violence and drunkenness onboard. On a number of occasions conductors have been strangled by passengers who don't want to pay." The decision was supported by staff on the route and conductor Thomas Eriksson told Stockholm City: "The passengers are horrible, swearing and spitting at me when I'm just trying to do my job."

"A terrorist gang has strangled our communications which is a catastrophe for a town with 5,000 commuters," Nynäshamn council member Leif Senquist told Monday's Metro, perhaps optimistically trying to get global support under the banner of the war on terror. "The police and half of Nynäshamn know who is carrying out the sabotage against the trains. Why don't the police pick them up? Shall we let the terrorists take over society?" The police's answer came on Tuesday. As well as pointing out that all of the suspected trouble-makers were supposed to be in the care of the social services, they agreed to invest extra resources in policing the route, with both uniformed and plain-clothes officers.

Is Swedish Democracy Collapsing?

The number of ghettos, a phenomenon that until recently was unheard of in wealthy and egalitarian Scandinavian nations, has been increasing explosively. 14 years ago, there were only 3 such areas in all of Sweden. Today, there are 136. Stockholm politician Annika Billström warns against the dangers of creating ghettos in Sweden. Rock throwing and attacks against buses and trains are increasing problems in some suburbs. In Malmö the bus lines in the area of Rosengård have been cancelled. In Stockholm, the authorities went even further and stopped both the bus traffic in the Tensta suburb and the train to Nynäshamn. Head of the bus company in the city of Uppsala, Claes-Göran Alm, is considering doing the same, as the harassment is costing too much money and is putting their employees at risk. Benny Persson is selling window glass in the areas south of Stockholm. According to him, they sometimes have to jump into the car and leave the spot, as they are met with the harassment that some of the bus companies in the suburbs are experiencing: Stone throwing and threats. The same thing is reported from Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city. The company Hemglass are now attempting to run double crews in their cars to face the problems, but they still have had to completely abandon an area outside Södertälje. If you get stuck in an elevator outside Stockholm, you risk staying there for a long time. The repair personnel now demand security guards present when they arrive, since several of their employees have been physically attacked. The most serious problem, however, is the delay of ambulances and the fire department. According to the Emergency Central, attacks against them have become commonplace in the cities. Every Saturday, at least five to ten times emergency personnel are asking for police escort to be able to do their job.

India toes US line, dumps Iran

India toes US line, dumps Iran

They are five sentences that signal a fundamental change in Indian foreign policy of over five decades. In an overt and transparent shift in alignment and emphasis, the Congress-led UPA government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday signed up with the United States on a touchstone issue, asking Iran to be flexible and make concessions to avoid a confrontation with Washington on the nuclear issue. India’s blunt message, which is also aimed at allaying U.S concerns over New Delhi’s long-standing ties with Teheran, was conveyed by Prime Minister Singh to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad when the latter telephoned him on Friday. In fact, the UPA government went to unusual lengths to disclose the gist of the conversation between the two leaders in a brief press release sent to select media. The government statement read: "The Prime Minister received a phone call from President Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the Iranian request. The (Iranian) President raised the issue about Iran's nuclear programme in the IAEA. Prime Minister advised him that Iran should consider taking a flexible position so as to avoid a confrontation. The Prime Minister repeated the necessity for Iran to make concessions to this end. India supports the resolution of all issues through discussion and consensus in the IAEA." Seldom, if ever, has the government been so direct and candid in conveying a foreign policy shift through an episode some American policy analysts saw as a test case for India-U.S ties.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Archeologists make historic discovery

The tomb of Odysseus has been found, and the location of his legendary capital city of Ithaca discovered here on this large island across a one-mile channel from the bone-dry islet that modern maps call Ithaca. This could be the most important archeological discovery of the last 40 years, a find that may eventually equal the German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann’s 19th Century dig at Troy. But the quirky people and politics involved in this achievement have delayed by several years the process of reporting the find to the world. Yet visitors to Kefalonia, an octopus-shaped island off the west coast of Greece, can see the evidence for themselves at virtually no cost. The discovery of what is almost certainly his tomb reveals that crafty Odysseus, known as Ulysses in many English renditions of Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” was no mere myth, but a real person. Plus, passages in the “Odyssey” itself suggest that modern Ithaca and its main town of Vathi probably were not the city and island of which Homer wrote. Rather, this small village of Poros on the southeast coast of Kefalonia now occupies part of a site that most likely was the much larger city which served as capital of the multi-island kingdom ruled by Odysseus and his father Laertes. Archeologists have long and often times looked for evidence of Odysseus on modern Ithaca, but never found anything significant from the Bronze Age. This led many scholars to dismiss Homer’s version of Ionian island geography as strictly a literary creation. But two pieces of fairly recent evidence suggest archeologists were looking in the wrong place. In 1991, a tomb of the type used to bury ancient Greek royalty was found near the hamlet of Tzannata in the hills outside Poros. It is the largest such tomb in northeastern Greece, with remains of at least 72 persons found in its stone niches.

Blood feuds blight Albanian lives

It is interesting to note that the BBC can write this entire article without mentioning that this is a practice sanctioned by Islamic law:

Blood feuds blight Albanian lives

The centuries-old custom of blood feuds - responsible for thousands of Albanian deaths in the past - has started blighting lives in the Balkan nation again in recent years. The law and order vacuum created by the collapse of communism sent many Albanians back to the ancient customary laws of their tribal roots. These laws include the right to murder to avenge an earlier killing. Blood feuds have existed in Albania for more than 3,000 years. They are regulated by the customary law known as the "Kanun" - used by Albanians during the centuries of foreign occupation, when there was no central authority. "The Kanuns sanction blood feuds and regulate them from all points of view," said professor of law Ismet Elezi, a specialist in the Kanuns, in an interview with BBC World Service. "And first they established the rule: whoever kills will be killed. Blood is avenged with blood." The Kanun states - among other things - that the blood of the victim can only be avenged with the blood of the killer. But professor Elezi conducted a survey which shows that today few people under 35 know what the Kanun actually says - yet many invoke it as an excuse to kill.

European Court Abolishes Rule of Law

European Court Abolishes Rule of Law

This week the Court of First Instance of the Luxemburg based Court of Justice of the European Communities ruled that decisions of the United Nations Security Council take precedence over national constitutions, European law and even the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). This ruling undermines the rule of law and the principles of the constitutional state and of democracy. The Court holds that even organisations (like the European Union) that are not members of the United Nations are bound by decisions of the UN Security Council. The Court’s verdict settled the case of one Ahmed Ali Yusuf, a Swede of Arab origin, whose funds had been frozen in November 2001 by the European authorities after a Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council had put him on a list of alleged terrorists. Yusuf claimed that the sanctions are in breach of the Rome treaty, which states that EU law cannot lead to disciplinary actions against single individuals. He also asked to be allowed to prove his innocence in a court room. His lawyer said that by refusing judicial review of Security Council decisions and refusing Yusuf the right to prove his innocence before a court “they [the EU] have imposed a system that denies people their legal rights. It is a pitiable verdict, and Ahmed Yusuf is a loser. But the biggest loser is the EU itself. [The verdict] is completely unacceptable [and] raises questions about the EU’s position as regards the rule of law.” Ahmed Ali Yusuf will appeal to the European Court of Justice. Though terrorism should be combated by the international community, Wednesday’s verdict effectively implies (as Jos Verhulst pointed out) that decisions of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party can gain precedence over the European Human Rights Convention. China is a member of the Security Council and its position can determine the outcome of Security Council decisions. What is the value of “human rights” which in the hierarchy of values rank lower than the preferences of the Chinese CP.

Turkish Court Blocks Conference on Armenian Genocide

Turkish Court Blocks Conference on Armenian Genocide

An Istanbul court on Thursday ordered the cancellation of a conference at which Turkish academics were widely expected to challenge the official version of events surrounding the mass slaughter of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire. The ruling was condemned by the country's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Speaking to reporters shortly after the decision was announced, Mr. Erdogan said the decision did not conform to what he called freedom and modernity in Turkey. He said the right to free speech was an essential part of democracy. Some Western diplomats said forces within the state that are opposed to Turkey's membership in the European Union had probably influenced the ruling. Turkey is scheduled to start negotiations over the accession treaty with the European bloc on October 3. Last month, another Istanbul court opened a case against Orhan Pamuk the internationally acclaimed Turkish author. He is due to appear in court on December 16 on charges of insulting Turkey's national dignity by telling a Swiss newspaper that one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds had been killed in Turkey and that nobody dared to say so. EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn warned Turkey earlier this month that if Mr. Pamuk were convicted, this could constitute grounds for suspending negotiations with Turkey. Turkey has always denied that more than one million members of the Ottoman Empire's once thriving Armenian community were the victims of genocide during and after World War I. The conference titled "Ottoman Armenians of an Empire in Decline" was to have opened Friday at the Bosporus University in Istanbul. It was originally scheduled to take place in May but was postponed after Turkish Justice Minister said its purpose was to stab Turkey in the back. That is because some of the participating academics were expected to challenge the official line that several hundred thousand Armenians had died as a result of disease and exposure and not because of any state conspiracy to kill them. The case to halt the conference was brought by the Turkish Lawyers Union and other lawyers.

The Death of German Conservatism

Amid the post-election noise in Germany, one salient fact has been getting little play. German voters don't trust political parties to the right of the center. It's been a long time coming, but its time to write the obituary of German conservatism. Everybody knows it's coming. Somebody is going to have to take the fall for the Christian Democrats (CDU) miserable showing in last Sunday's general elections -- and all signs point to party head and chancellor candidate Angela Merkel. Indeed, the knives to be used in the slaughter of this scapegoat are already being sharpened. According to Thursday's Süddeutsche Zeitung, the leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, Governor Edmund Stoiber has already begun blaming Merkel internally for "her cold and heartless rhetoric" used in the campaign. "Merkel and the CDU failed to convince voters that they have a vision," says Gedmin. Political scientist Franz Walter agrees. "Along with all of the economic and programmatic documents in the CDU, there is no well-developed chapter about values and worldview anymore." Which leads one back to Angela Merkel. Maybe she wasn't the right candidate to communicate exactly what the party's vision was. Either way, the party now beginning to develop a vision: That of a party without Merkel as leader.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Spain builds own Berlin Wall to stop immigrants

Spain builds own Berlin Wall to stop immigrants

Spain announces it is to make its frontier fence with Morocco as high as the Berlin Wall after 12 men are badly injured trying to get across existing fences into Melilla. In all 70 tried to break through the three metre-high fences which are topped with row upon row of barbed wire. On 28 August, Joseph Abunaw, a 17-year-old from Cameroon, died in controversial circumstances after another mass wave of illegal immigrants stormed the fences.

Spain heightens fence at African enclave

Spanish authorities are rushing to double the height of a fence surrounding the north African enclave of Melilla after a dozen more immigrants were injured in a battle with police as they tried to find a way on to European soil. The injuries followed the deaths of at least three immigrants over the past three weeks during mass attempts to storm the frontier that have ended in clashes with both Spanish police and their Moroccan counterparts on the other side of Melilla's border. Immigrants are using ladders and what one official called "military tactics" in their increasingly desperate attempts to get through the barrier erected around what is, in effect, a land frontier between the European Union and Africa. The new fence will be much higher than the Berlin Wall.

Almost one in ten in Spain now foreign

Four million foreigners now live in Spain, making up nine percent of the population. Latest figures showed that of 44.3m people living in Spain, more than four million foreigners had registered with the authorities up to the end of July. The Spanish national statistics office said between January and July, the foreign population had risen by ten percent, with 375,000 new people registering. It means that since 1998, the number of foreigners have risen from 1.6 percent of the population, or 0.63m, to nine percent, or 4m, in 2005. The biggest rise came during the first four months of the year, during a government amnesty for foreign workers which brought almost 700,000 applications for legal status, mainly from Africans and Latin Americans.

China looks to democracy to cure its ills

China looks to democracy to cure its ills

Over the past 16 years, the Chinese leadership has tried its best to dodge democratic reform while looking for alternative measures to stamp out rampant corruption and increase government efficiency. However, it seems to have recently come to the conclusion that there is just no way other than democratic reform. Chinese President Hu Jintao has indicated that China will institute a program of democratic reforms, and Premier Wen Jiabao has given more detail, pledging to introduce direct elections at the township level "within a couple of years". "China will press for democratic progress, unswervingly reestablish democracy, including direct elections," the premier, who favors mild reform, told a news conference prior to the 8th EU-China summit on September 5. "If we Chinese people can manage a village, I believe they can manage a town in several years. This system [of direct voting] will be realized step by step." Visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who sat next to Wen, was reportedly "shocked" when he heard the premier's remarks. Blair shouldn't be surprised. What Wen is talking about is only a mild democratic reform package.

Swedish Politicians Destroy the Country, Blame the Police

Swedish police are "so bloody idle" - Ringholm

In what he thought was private chat with a colleague on Monday evening, Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister, Bosse Ringholm, called the country's police force "so bloody idle". The frank statement about the police came after a telephone interview with the programme Nyheterna on the theme of illegal gambling machines. During the interview itself, Ringholm said that the police are doing what they can in the fight against illegal gambling. After the interview Ringholm let slip a somewhat different view of the Swedish police. The telephone line was still connected and TV4 continued to record what he was saying. In a sequence lasting almost three minutes, Ringholm was heard discussing the police's competence with a colleague. "You can see if you go into a tobacconist here in Stockholm. Many of them have a curtain - try to go behind that curtain and you'll see what they have there. It's usually an illegal gambling machine," he said. "It isn't any harder for the local policeman to go in and check it, but they don't. They are so bloody idle." Ringholm was also heard describing a policeman who provided details of the number of illegal gambling machines as "an idiot" and he went on to say that the police "prioritise doing nothing, so that they do nothing wrong".

Sweden has witnessed a shocking rise in all kinds of violent crime in recent years. However, funding for the police has not increased significantly. Sweden has only half the number of policemen per capita compared to the EU average, which could already be too low. Every French policeman has 89 reported criminal acts to deal with. Every Swedish policeman has 254. No wonder the Swedish police feel unmotivated to fight rising crime:

Swedish Police "Unmotivated" to Fight Rising Crime

Gangs of 14 - 15-year-olds raping and robbing is now common in many Stockholm suburbs. Mafia networks demanding protecting money from private businesses and giving bomb threats to municipal workers are increasingly common. Organized crime is no longer just a problem in the major cities. It has now spread throughout most of Sweden.

There has been little official, political reaction to the fact that the control of the city of Södertälje now seems to be in the hands of violent gangs of immigrants:

Sweden: Shots fired at police station

Two civilian women were in the police station. They were being questioned about a reported harrassment earlier in the day, which had been the background to the rioting. The women had called the police and reported that they had been harrassed in the shop where they work. Police refused to reveal details of their allegations, because questioning had been broken off by the gunfire, but three young men who had been identified by the women were suspected of making illegal threats. The three men were released in the evening, but the arrests had provoked strong reactions among 20-35 other youths in the area. The group advanced on the police and attacked them with stones.

However, the political leaders are aware of how bad the situation is:

Police to Hire More Bodyguards

According to Sweden’s intelligence services, SÄPO, the police plan to hire more bodyguards to protect politicians before next year’s election. Experts say politicians are increasingly at risk of attack here, where ministers and lawmakers are often seen mingling with the public without security. Protection for politicians was beefed up after the deadly stabbing of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh in 2003. But the government has allocated US $2.73 million to improve security even more ahead of the elections in September 2006. The head of SÄPO, Klas Bergenstrand, told Swedish Radio in an interview that besides more bodyguards ”the extra money will be used to analyze the threats, to inform, give advice, maybe for educational purposes and conferences and meetings with representatives of the political parties.”

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Asia's newest sport - yak skiing

Asia's newest sport - yak skiing

The American magazine Time has recommended the little-known sport of yak skiing in India as one of the 10 best ways in Asia to relax the mind. The magazine's Asian edition says this "implausible extreme sport" involves going at rocket speed uphill attached by rope to a yak charging downhill. The skier attracts the yak from up high by shaking a bucket of nuts, which must be put down fast before the fun begins. "The sport may be a barmy injunction to even barmier tourists," Time says. According to the article, yak skiing is carried out in the Indian hill resort of Manali, where it is run by a Tibetan man, Peter Dorje.

Scientists: Men Dirtier than Women

Men are dirtier than women. So scientists confirmed by spying in public restrooms, watching as one-quarter of men left without washing their hands. The worst offenders were at an Atlanta Braves game. In contrast, 90 percent of the women did wash up. Wednesday's results mark the American Society of Microbiology's latest look at how many people take what is considered the single easiest step to staying healthy: spending 20 seconds rubbing with soap under the faucet.

Guide Aims to Help Bloggers Beat Censors

Guide Aims to Help Bloggers Beat Censors

A Paris-based media watchdog has released a free guide with tips for bloggers and dissidents to sneak past Internet censors in countries from China to Iran. Reporters Without Borders' "Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents" is partly financed by the French Foreign Ministry and includes technical advice on how to remain anonymous online. It was launched at the Apple Expo computer show in Paris on Thursday and can be downloaded in Chinese, Arabic, Persian, English and French. "Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure," Julien Pain, head of the watchdog's Internet Freedom desk, writes in the introduction. In a bid to inspire budding Web diarists around the world, the 87-page booklet gives advice on setting up and running blogs, and on using pseudonyms and anonymous proxies, which can be used to replace easily traceable home computer addresses. "With a bit of common sense, perseverance and especially by picking the right tools, any blogger should be able to overcome censorship," Pain writes.

Create your own blog, remain anonymous and get round censorship!

Many Internet experts helped produce this manual, including US journalist Dan Gillmor, Canadian specialist in Internet censorship Nart Villeneuve, US blogger Jay Rosen and other bloggers from all over the world. The Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissidents will be on sale in bookshops from 22 September for €10. It can also be downloaded in five languages (English, French, Chinese, Arabic and Persian) from the Reporters Without Borders website :

US may increase education funding for Pakistan

So, not only Norwegians are doing this:

US may increase education funding for Pakistan

The United States is likely to increase its assistance of Pakistan’s education program next year, Thomas P Crehan, education officer at the USAID Pakistan, said on Wednesday. He was talking to reporters after the distribution of the School Improvement Grants (SIGs) to federal government primary schools in Bara Kahu. He said through USAID alone, the US was providing more than $1.5 billion in assistance to Pakistan. He added that US government’s assistance in the education sector alone was approximately $68 million this year. Earlier, addressing the ceremony, he said Education Sector Reforms Assistance (ESRA) was the largest US-funded project in Pakistan at $71.5 million and was working in 12 districts in Sindh and Balochistan as well as in Bara Kahu He said the programme had adopted a novel approach to harness the potential of the young in initiatives such as interactive instruction for teaching English language. He observed that information technology had assumed an immense significance in the present era and was affecting the teaching and learning processes like never before.

Pakistan’s crackdown on extremism: Much drama, few results

Pakistan’s campaign against homegrown religious extremism as been described in a report published on Tuesday as ”considerable drama, few results.” The Islamabad-datelined report in USA Today does note though that President Pervez Musharraf has taken “huge risks” to hunt down al-Qaeda fugitives, sending thousands of troops to battle militants along the border with Afghanistan, “but his government has been reluctant to go after its former allies: the Taliban in Afghanistan and groups that have fought a proxy war against Indian troops in disputed Kashmir. It also has been slow to crack down on madrassas that teach intolerance and glorify jihad, or holy war. As a result, Pakistan is still turning out young militants burning to kill and die for their extreme interpretations of Islam.” A recent upsurge in Taliban attacks on US troops in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border is “raising questions about the degree to which the militants are receiving sanctuary, training and supplies inside Pakistan. There also is concern that the militants might be getting support from rogue elements of Musharraf’s own security services.”

PM’s 3-point plan to stem population growth rate

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Wednesday a check on population growth was necessary to trickle down the fruits of economy growth to the common man. Federal Population Secretary Shahzad Sheikh said the government was trying to reduce the population growth from 1.9 per cent to 1.3 per cent by 2010. He warned if the population continued to grow at the current pace, it might touch 437 million by 2060. Sheikh said every year 4.2 million people were born in the country while 1.32 million died, resulting in an increase in population by 2.9 million people. “This translates into an increase of five people per minute,” he added. The secretary said the total fertility rate had decreased from 6.3 per women in 1975 to 4 per women. He said 35.5 million people were living below the poverty line; 56.9 million had no access to safe drinking water; 57.9 million were living in one-room houses while 78.2 million were deprived of sanitation facilities.

India: Big boost for lone girl child: Free study

Big boost for lone girl child: Free study

In a bid to correct the male-female sex ratio while promoting population control, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has decided to waive fees and hand scholarships to all girls from single-child families until the post-graduation level. It will be effective from the next academic session in all non-professional courses. Any single girl child of parents who have consciously adopted family planning measures after the birth of their single child would be eligible under the scheme. The girl will need to submit an affidavit, attested by a First Class Magistrate or a Gazetted Officer, mentioning that she is the only child. The scheme—it will include all families with a single girl child, irrespective of income groups—would start from the senior school level, providing Rs 800 per month as scholarship to the girl. Her fees too would be exempted. While fee exemption would continue until post-graduation, the scholarship would be raised to Rs 1,000 per month for an under-graduate course and Rs 2,000 per month during post-graduation. Students who get this scholarship will not be barred from other scholarships. The incentive will, however, be reduced for a family with only two girls as children. Parents will have to pay for the education of only one girl. No scholarship would be provided in such cases. If a student drops out mid-way without approval, the scholarship will stop and she will have to refund the amount she has received.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sweden: "Moderate Muslim" or Islamist in Disguise?

Danish PM Rasmussen wants imams to get more influence over youths, to prevent "radicalism". Muslims know that the mythical "moderate Muslim" has become the Holy Grail of our time. If they can manage to present themselves as moderates, they can get all sorts of concessions from the infidels. It doesn't matter whether these "moderates" have extensive contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood or even Hamas:

New evidence links man to terror group

The imam’s defence lawyer, Peter Mutvei, had asked the court to allow him to call Hassan Moussa, imam at the Medborgarplatsen mosque in Stockholm and leader of the Swedish Council of Imams, as a witness. Moussa wrote in an article in Expressen on Tuesday that he had received death threats after he condemned all terror in the name of Islam at Friday prayers. He also wrote that there were Muslims in Sweden who support terrorism and who are “prepared to go as far as necessary to acheive their goals.”

So, poor Hassan Moussa is a moderate who he is almost persecuted, is he? Well, think again:

"Double messages at the mosque"

The largest mosque in Stockholm is spreading double messages. What the Imam says in his speech in Arabic doesn't match how the text is interpreted in Swedish. “America rapes Islam,” the Imam roars in Arabic from the platform. The interpreter translates to Swedish: “We condemn USA:s torture of Iraqi prisoners.” It is Friday prayer in the mosque on Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm. Hassan Mousa speaks formal, classical Arabic and roars into the microphone. “What's wrong with you grandchildren of Mohammed? How long will you endure this humiliation of Muslims without reacting? American and British soldiers, grandchildren of Hitler, are torturing Muslims in Iraq.” The words sink like a carpet bombing over the hall. Everybody feels them. Many have tears in their eyes. Heads are sunk and eyes are lowered onto the the blue coloured soft carpet. Minutes later the Swedish translation of the speech is read by an interpreter. In Swedish, the American torture of Iraqi prisoners is condemned, but at the same time the translator emphasizes earlier good works for Muslims done by the US, among others in Bosnia. Not a word on how America is raping Islam, is the enemy of Islam and wants Muslims to be humiliated and under submission. Afterwards the Imam Hassan Mousa admits that his sermon was harsh. “But I had no choice. The hatred against America has grown enormously since the publication of torture- and rape pictures [1]”, he says. He also refers to earlier sermons and says that many Muslims call him an "American friendly" preacher. “I have to calm down the Muslims feelings and meet them halfway.” But at the same time he denies that the mosque on Medborgarplatsen spreads double messages. That the Swedish translation didn't match the original Arabic is not a conscious strategy according to him. “It just happened. Arabic is a much richer language than Swedish. It's impossible to translate everything."

Here is MEMRI's take on this:

Imam of Stockholm's Great Mosque: Expulsion of Preachers of Hate is Completely Justified; Muslim Journalist Responds: ‘Stockholm’s Great Mosque Sympathizes with Muslim Brotherhood'

"Sheikh Hassan Moussa’s admission that there is extremism in our mosques is welcomed. But Hassan Moussa doesn’t say anything about the big problem. Sweden’s mosques are slowly but surely being taken over by a politically oriented group, the Muslim Brotherhood – a group with which many of [the mosque’s] members sympathize. In [Moussa’s] proposal for creating an anti-extremist council, it is understood that the Muslim Brotherhood should represent all Muslims and thereby further affirm its grip on the mosques. Around 400,000 people of Muslim origin live in Sweden. The Muslim Brotherhood is also close to the Palestinian movement Hamas – whose ideology is very similar to Nazism. For the Muslim Brotherhood, Sweden is in many ways an ideal country, [and it] shares the ideals of the [Swedish] Social Democrats in their view of the welfare society. Leading figures in Muslim congregations are also active within the Social Democratic [Party], and have very good relations with Sweden’s Christian Social Democrats – Broderskapsrörelsen. The Social Democrats have, in turn, and perhaps as thanks for the support they receive from the mosque leadership, shown a tendency to shy away from the fact that there is extremism in some of our mosques. This has given the Muslim Brotherhood the freedom to force its ideology upon [the mosque's worshippers]. People have told me that they have been kicked out of mosque organizations because they criticized the Muslim Brotherhood. Others have told me that they have been phoned by the mosque leadership and called ‘Jews’ in the sense of ‘non-humans.’

Denmark: Immigrants concentrated in schools

Immigrants concentrated in schools

Danish local county councils are facing an increase in the amount of schools were ethnic Danes are in the minority. A new survey by DR shows that the majority of citizens in Copenhagen would like to see the local authorities intervene and forcibly move pupils with other ethnic backgrounds than Danish, from schools were Danes are in the minority. However, Copenhagen's mayor of schools does not agree, and he says that parents who live in a heavily immigrant concentrated community should be encouraged, not forced, to send their children to a school were the majority of students are Danish. In the Alberslund's school district the council has already begun setting a maximum of 30 percent non ethnic Danes per class.

I'm sorry, Mr. Rasmussen, but you still don't understand Islam if you think giving more influence to imams is going to be beneficial:

Imams to take responsibility for Muslim youth

The country's imams need to play a larger role in order to prevent a radicalisation of Muslim youth, said Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen after his national dialogue meeting with representatives from the Muslim community on Tuesday. 'We have had a good and very positive meeting and I am happy to be able to say that everyone at the table distanced themselves strongly and clearly from any form of terror,' said Rasmussen after the meeting. 'It is positive that the imams that participated in the meeting clearly expressed that they felt a responsibility to ensure that young people with Muslim backgrounds are not drawn into extreme and fanatic groups.' Hamid el Mousti, a Social Democratic city counsellor from Copenhagen, criticised the imams, however, for suggesting that the PM limit the press's freedom to criticise Muslims. Rasmussen said though that the meeting was a dialogue, and that he did not intend to criticise anyone's suggestions. Another Copenhagen city counsellor, Ben Haddou, felt that the imams had made a positive contribution to the dialogue. 'We have opened up to each other. We have spoken more directly to imams than I have ever seen before. I truly believe that imams should spend more time on youths than to talk about what is going on in the world. This is all about young people here in our society,' Haddou said.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Europe: Poor State of Higher Education

Economist on higher education

Universities are a mess across Europe. European countries spend only 1.1% of their GDP on higher education, compared with 2.7% in the United States. American universities have between two and five times as much to spend per student as European universities, which translates into smaller classes, better professors and higher-quality research. The European Commission estimates that 400,000 EU-born scientific researchers are now working in the United States. Most have no plans to return. Europe produces only a quarter of the American number of patents per million people. It needs to ask itself not whether it can overtake the United States as the world's top knowledge economy by 2010, but how it can avoid being overtaken by China and other Asian tigers. India has two valuable things going for it. One is its collection of elite institutions. For decades, India has been pouring resources into the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and, above all, the Indian Institutes of Technology. These institutions take their pick from an army of candidates every year, with 180,000 hopefuls taking the screening test for around 3,500 places in the seven IITs. “They are a class apart, like Oxford and Cambridge,” says P.V. Indiresan, an expert on universities. In higher education, as in so much else, China is visibly pulling ahead of India. The Chinese are engaged in the biggest university expansion in history. The majority of doctorates earned in China between 1992 and 2003 were in practical subjects, which attract the brightest students: engineering (38% of the total), natural sciences (22%) and medicine (15%). Top universities are a valuable asset in the global war for talent too. America's great research universities enable it to recruit more foreign PhD students than the rest of the OECD put together. And a striking number of these people stay put: in 1998-2001, about two-thirds of foreigners who earned American doctorates in science and engineering said they had “firm plans” to stay, up from 57% in 1994-97.

Mark Steyn: By the time Germans decide, it'll be too late

If you want the state of Europe in a nutshell, skip the German election coverage and consider this news item from the south of France: a fellow in Marseilles is being charged with fraud because he lived with the dead body of his mother for five years in order to continue receiving her pension of 700 euros a month. She was 94 when she croaked, so she'd presumably been enjoying the old government cheque for a good three decades or so, but her son figured he might as well keep the money rolling in until her second century and, with her corpse tucked away under a pile of rubbish in the living room, the female telephone voice he put on for the benefit of the social services office was apparently convincing enough. As the Reuters headline put it: "Frenchman lived with dead mother to keep pension." By 2050, there will be more and wealthier Americans, and fewer and poorer Europeans. In the 14th century, it took the Black Death to wipe out a third of Europe's population. In the course of the 21st century, Germany's population will fall by over 50 per cent to some 38 million or lower - killed not by disease or war but by the Eutopia to which Mr Schröder and his electorate are wedded. On Sunday, Germany's voters decided that, like that Frenchman, they can live with the stench of death as long as the government benefits keep coming.

NASA Barks at the Moon - Again

NASA Planning Return to Moon Within 13 Years

Combining an old concept, existing equipment and new ideas, NASA gave shape on Monday to President Bush's promise to send humans back to the Moon by the end of the next decade. Michael D. Griffin, the agency's new administrator, detailed a $104 billion plan that he said would get astronauts to the Moon by 2018, serve as a steppingstone to Mars and beyond, and stay within NASA's existing budget. The plan would use a new spacecraft similar to the Apollo command capsule of the original Moon program, and new rockets made up largely of components from the space shuttle program. "It is very Apollo-like," Dr. Griffin said, "but bigger. Think of it as Apollo on steroids." Dr. Griffin and other space advocates, including influential members of Congress, have said the United States needs a replacement for the aging shuttle fleet as a matter of national security. Russia and China are currently capable of human spaceflight, and other countries have expressed interest in following suit. Dr. Griffin said the nation must maintain an independent capability to send people into space after the shuttle retires in 2010.

Moon-to-Mars Plans Emerge: New Agenda or Apollo Retread?

In NASA's new return-to-the Moon scenario, astronauts will cover much more territory than Apollo moonwalkers. A key goal is to use water ice that may be stashed within permanently shadowed craters at the Moon's poles. Each team of Moon explorers would leave behind essential components for later use, as well as equipment that could constitute a lunar station. That base could well mirror the type of encampment now situated in Antarctica.

I suspect China's increasing presence in space has something to do with this initiative:

China could launch next manned space mission this month: report

China could move ahead the launch of its next manned space mission to as early as this month, a state newspaper reported Wednesday. China is also developing its first unmanned lunar exploration craft for a launch by 2006. China's space program is still shrouded in secrecy with little known about events until several days before they happen. However since the success of the first manned flight, the authorities have shown a little more transparency. Keenly aware of the military, scientific and commercial benefits of space knowledge, China has been aggressively pursuing space exploration for years.

Are the Chinese looking for more mooncakes?

Dark side of the mooncakes

The people of Beijing munched through 15,000 tonnes of mooncakes -- more than 1 kg (2.2 lb) per person -- and bought one tenth of all the round cakes sold nationwide for Sunday's Mid-Autumn Festival, Xinhua news agency said Monday. The traditional, heavy pastries, symbols of the moon and common gifts for family, friends and business associates, have become a huge business in China with elaborate, lavishly packaged sets of just a few cakes commanding sky-high prices. The cakes symbolize the overthrow of the Mongols at the end of the Yuan dynasty in the 14th century when, according to legend, secret notes baked into sweets helped spark an uprising.

The Problem with the Scandinavian Model

The Problem with the Scandinavian Model

People respond to incentives. In a tiny, homogeneous country, group norms can take the place of monetary rewards. If you identify strongly with your neighbours then you care if they shun you. But the US is 50 times larger than Finland and very heterogeneous -- people here don't care much about what their neighbours think because 1) their neighbours are not neccessarily much like them and 2) they keep changing. In this kind of soceity group norms simply will not work. The fact that social norms play a significant role in the success of welfare states also point to these systems' weakness. As soon as the populations of these historically homogenous countries turn heterogenous due to immigration, the social norms soon become fractured between rival communities. Immigrants from radically different backgrounds were not supposed to be part of this closed system. Native citizens begin to see immigrants as a threat to this originally happy balance.

It cannot pay to work

It is hardly worth getting out of bed and going to work for many Danes, if the financial rewards of working are your most important criteria. Approximately 130,000 Danes earn 50 kroners a day more going to work than if they stayed at home and received social security cash benefits. The statistics come from the Treasury department, which is to revise a governmental agreement, "Back to Work", in the autumn. The Chancellor said that this would be a central point of discussion in the forthcoming revision of state cash benefits, and trade union unemployment subsidies.

An Immigrant's Tale

The interpreter also told us that Sweden is a country where the government will put a check into your mailbox each month if you don't work. She explained that there was no reason to get a job. Although my mother got several jobs, we concluded that this really didn't improve our family's economy. During the sixteen years we have been in Sweden, my mother has in total worked less than one year. The work ethic has dramatically fallen in Sweden. More and more people are finding ways of living off government as an alternative to working. Between 20 and 25 percent of the working age population does not work. Between 1997 and 2003 the number of people who were on sick leave increased by more than 200,000, a dramatic number for a small country such as Sweden. What can you expect in a country where 9 out of 10 females who are living off sick leave would have less money in their pockets if they went back to their jobs?

Skype founder slams "lazy" Swedes

Niklas Zennström, the Swede who made headlines last week for selling his Skype internet telephony company to Ebay in a multi-billion dollar deal, has slammed Sweden's high taxes and job protection and has laid into his fellow countrymen for being lazy. “Maybe this doesn’t work too well when the rest of the world is working hard,” he says. One reason for the shortage of successful IT companies is Swedes themselves: “People don’t work very hard in Sweden. They go home at five, and take the whole summer off work.” “If you go to China people work all day and try to create great things – they are much hungrier,” he says. Zennström, who left Sweden in the mid-nineties, also launched a barely veiled attack on the Swedish government. He slammed the Swedish business climate and wants reductions in bureaucracy, less job protection and lower taxes.

One million Swedes on benefit

Norwegian social benefits highest in Europe

Norway provides its citizens with the highest social security benefits of any country in Europe. This is shown by figures from the European statistics office Eurostat. The social benefits grants to Norwegians averaged 11,755 Euro in 2002, equal to NOK 93,200. This was NOK 37,700 higher than in Iceland, NOK 36,900 higher than in Finland, 19,200 higher than in Sweden and 12,300 higher than in Denmark. Compared with EU nations outside Scandinavia, the differences are even higher: According to Eurostat, the social benefits in Norway cost NOK 48,000 per citizen more than in Italy.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Islam is the most Warlike Religion

Islam creates a lot of problems, even in Denmark. Moderate Muslims are afraid to speak out with critical observations of their religion, and a Jewish man was attacked for reading from the Koran. Since the murder of the Islam critical Dutch film director Theo van Gogh, Danish artists are fearful of criticising Islam.

However, Denmark is still probably the one Western country with the most open, critical debate about Islam and Muslim immigration. The following is my translation of an article from Danish where a researcher has spent three years analyzing the original texts of ten different religions, from Christianity to Sikhism, and concluded that the Islamic texts were by far the most warlike. It thus proves what many of us "lunatics" have been saying all along, that Islam itself, not "misinterpretations", is the problem. I include a link to the original article, which was published in Jyllandsposten, Denmark's largest newspaper, on the 10th of September 2005:

Islam er den mest krigeriske religion

Islam is the most Warlike religion

A Danish language researcher has spent over three years analyzing the original texts of ten different religions, and concludes that the Islamic texts stand out by encouraging terror and violence to a larger degree than other religions do. Four years after the terror attacks at the World Trade Center, Danish linguist Tina Magaard presents an analysis that questions Islam’s relationship with terror, violence and Holy War.

Islamic texts encourage terror and fighting to a far larger degree than the original texts of other religions, concludes Tina Magaard. She has a PhD in Textual Analysis and Intercultural Communication from the Sorbonne in Paris, and has spent three years on a research project comparing the original texts of ten religions. “The texts in Islam distinguish themselves from the texts of other religions by encouraging violence and aggression against people with other religious beliefs to a larger degree. There are also straightforward calls for terror. This has long been a taboo in the research into Islam, but it is a fact that we need to deal with," says Tina Magaard. Moreover, there are hundreds of calls in the Koran for fighting against people of other faiths. “If it is correct that many Muslims view the Koran as the literal words of God, which cannot be interpreted or rephrased, then we have a problem. It is indisputable that the texts encourage terror and violence. Consequently, it must be reasonable to ask Muslims themselves how they relate to the text, if they read it as it is," says Tina Magaard.

The Copenhagen imams Ahmed Abu Laban and Abdul Wahid Petersen are greatly upset by the analysis presented by the linguist. Abu Laban: “I don’t want to confine myself to a single stupid, prejudiced and dishonest researcher. Why waste time on somebody who wants to create twisted ideas about Islam?” Abdul Wahid Petersen calls the analysis ”academic nonsense": ”You cannot single out quotes and conclude the way she does. Most verses in the Koran should be viewed within a specific historical context and cannot be generalized. If there are so many calls for violence, then why haven’t Muslims wiped out people of different faiths in the societies where Muslims make up the majority? Because we do not read the Koran that way.”

Imam Ahmed Abu Laban, who claims that critics of Islam are "prejudiced", earlier this year advocated using the Islamic concept of blood money to pay the equivalent of 100 camels for a man's life. Here is my post about this:

Camel Economics

Two men have been killed in street shootings in a row involving a group of second generation immigrants in Copenhagen. Integration Minister Hvilshøj rejected a proposal from Imam Abu Laban that blood money be paid to the family of a man who was killed. According to the Imam, the thirst for revenge could be cooled if 200,000 kroner were paid either by the family of the doorman who fired the shots or by the Islamic community. He said the practice of paying blood money to the family of a deceased person was normal in Muslim societies. Meanwhile there is growing fear amongst politicians that the immigrant environment in the Nørrebro area in Copenhagen, which has been unofficially declared an “Islamic state” by some of its residents, is developing into a parallel society where ancient traditions threaten Danish law.

200,000 Danish kroner is approximately the value of 100 camels. Some baffled commentators at first thought it was said tongue-in-cheek when Imam Abu Laban wanted the equivalent of 100 camels to be paid for a man’s life. That’s probably not the case. The number of 100 camels is based on the example of Muhammad himself, as recorded in sound hadith. Even though camels are the basic unit for calculating blood money, many jurists stipulate that you can pay an amount equal to the worth of 100 camels in other livestock, silver, gold or even cash. Imam Abu Laban in Denmark is thus on perfectly sound Islamic grounds in claiming that 200.000 Danish kroner, equal to 100 camels, should be paid to the family of the deceased.

Muslims make up less than 4 % of the population in Denmark, one of the toughest countries in Western Europe when it comes to confronting Islam. The fact that many of them, some even born and raised in the country, can still flaunt such blatant disregard for the most fundamental principles of our society should have alarm bells ringing all over Europe. Time is long overdue for some brutal honesty: Islam cannot coexist with Western society. All its basic tenets are hostile to every single idea on which liberal democracy and Western civilization are founded. Islamic culture cannot be integrated into the West any more than fire can be integrated with water. If Muslim immigration is allowed to continue, Muslim parallel societies will destroy our countries from within. We need to face this painful truth and act accordingly, or lights will soon go out over much of Europe.

Finland: Publisher says "technical error" led to omission of part of book critical of Islam

Finland is the least politically correct nation I know of. It has less Muslim immigrants than almost any other Western European nation. Yet even here, the translator of Islam-critical literature hides his real name in fear. The fear is not unfounded. The Norwegian publisher of Salman Rushdie's book "Satanic Verses" was shot and almost killed. This happened more than a decade ago, when the number of Muslims in Norway probably didn't much exceed one - 1 - percent of the population. When such a tiny number of Muslims can prove lethal for freedom of speech, I wonder why so many people still believe that Islam can function in a democratic society:

Publisher says "technical error" led to omission of part of book critical of Islam

The Finnish translation of a controversial book by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born a Somali-born member of the Dutch Parliament, has a passage missing, in which the writer sharply criticises the founder of Islam - the Prophet Mohammed. Head of publishing at the company’s non-fiction department, was unaware of the missing passage when Helsingin Sanomat contacted him. He said that he is certain that Otava did not deliberately order the cut. "It is interesting. Mysterious", he admits. However, he insists that no decision was made to cut the passage, and that its omission must have been a "technical error". For safety reasons Otava omitted the name of the Finnish translator from the book. Translators’ names have been left out of other versions as well. The book, published under the Finnish name Neitsythäkki ("Virgin Cage"), is not based on a single original title. It has been translated from Dutch-language articles that have appeared in the books De zoontjesfabriek ("The Boy Factory"), and De Maagdenkooi ("The Virgin Cage"). In addition, the Finnish version contains Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s script for the short film Submission, which was directed by Theo van Gogh, who was later murdered by a Moroccan-born radical Muslim. Hirsi Ali’s Paris-based agent did not know that the Finnish version did not contain the book’s most widely-quoted passage, in which she said that by Western standards, Mohammed was a "pervert and a tyrant" who opposed freedom of speech. She also says that Mohammed is the model for all Muslim men to follow, and suggests that this may be the reason why many Muslim men are violent.