Thursday, October 27, 2011
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation update: Fiji 5.4 !More info here.
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- Euro zone strikes deal on second Greek package.(Reuters).Euro zone leaders struck a deal with private banks and insurers on Thursday for them to accept a 50 percent loss on holdings of Greek government bonds as part of a plan to lower Greece's debt burden and try to contain the two-year-old euro zone crisis.In an agreement reached after more than eight hours of sometimes harsh negotiations, the private sector said it would voluntarily accept a nominal 50 percent cut in its investments to reduce Greece's debt burden by 100 billion euros, cutting its debts to 120 percent of GDP by 2020, from 160 percent now.At the same time, the euro zone will offer "credit enhancements" or sweeteners to the private sector totaling 30 billion euros. The aim is to complete negotiations on the package by the end of the year, so that Greece has a full, second financial aid program in place before 2012.The value of that package, EU sources said, would be 130 billion euros -- up from 109 billion euros when a deal was last struck in July, an agreement that subsequently unraveled."The summit allowed us to adopt the components of a global response, of an ambitious response, of a credible response to the crisis that is sweeping across the euro zone," French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters afterwards.As well as the deal on deeper private sector participation in Greece -- which emerged after Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally engaged in the negotiations with bankers -- euro zone leaders also agreed to scale up the European Financial Stability Facility, their 440 billion euro ($600 billion) bailout fund set up last year.The fund has already been used to provide help to Ireland, Portugal and Greece, leaving around 290 billion euros available. Around 250 billion of that will be leveraged 4-5 times, producing a headline figure of around 1.0 trillion euros, which will be deployed in a variety of ways.Leaders hope that will be enough to stave off any worsening of the debt problems in Italy and Spain, the region's third and fourth largest economies respectively.The EFSF will be leveraged in two ways, either by offering insurance, or first-loss guarantees, to purchasers of euro zone debt in the primary market, or via a special purpose investment vehicle that will be set up in the coming weeks and which is aimed at attracting investment from China and Brazil.The methods could be combined, giving the EFSF greater flexibility, the euro zone leaders said."The leverage could be up to one trillion (euros) under certain assumptions about market conditions and investors' responsiveness in view of economic policies," said Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council."There is nothing secret in all this, it is not easy to explain but we are going to more with our available money, it is not that spectacular. Banks have been doing this for centuries, it has been their core business, with certain limit. As with the July 21 agreement, which quickly broke down when it became difficult to secure sufficient private sector involvement and market conditions rapidly worsened, the concern is that Thursday's deal will only work if the fine print can be promptly agreed with the private sector, represented by the Institute of International Finance.Charles Dallara, the managing director of the IIF, said those he represented were committed to making the deal work."On behalf of the private investor community, the IIF agrees to work with Greece, euro area authorities and the IMF to develop a concrete voluntary agreement on the firm basis of a nominal discount of 50 percent on notional Greek debt held by private investors with the support of a 30 billion euro official ... package," he said in a statement."The specific terms and conditions of the voluntary PSI (private sector involvement) will be agreed by all relevant parties in the coming period and implemented with immediacy and force. The structure of the new Greek claims will need to be based on terms and conditions that ensure (net present value)loss for investors fully consistent with a voluntary agreement."Euro zone leaders will be hoping the agreement, which will also be accompanied by a recapitalization of the European banking sector by around 106 billion euros, will finally draw a line under a crisis that has roiled financial markets and threatened to tear apart the euro single currency project.As with previous deals that have come unstuck, the test will be how financial markets respond once they have digested the details and picked apart the seams of the agreement."This is broadly what the market was expecting and I do not see any downside surprise here. Still we have to wait and see more details," said Dan Dorrow, director of research at Faros Trading in Stamford, Connecticut, speaking before the final deal was reached but after some details had emerged."They have good intentions and are going in the right direction. This represent a few steps away from the cliff. However, we have to wait for more concrete details but this obviously does not disappoint."Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, said the final details on the Greek package, which follows a program of 110 billion euros of loans granted to the country last year, would only be worked out by year-end.And EU finance ministers are not expected to agree on the nitty-gritty elements of how the scaled up EFSF will work until some time in November, with the exact date not fixed.As part of efforts to attract investors into the special purpose vehicle attached to the EFSF, Sarkozy said he would talk to Chinese President Hu Jintao in the coming days. Beijing has so far been a big buyer of bonds issued by the EFSF, which is triple-A rated by credit agencies.Earlier, U.S. stocks rallied after news emerged of the intention to boost the power of the EFSF fund, while the euro fell as investors awaited details that are unlikely to be forthcoming until next month.As well as the three-way package to strengthen their crisis fighting powers and try to resolve the situation in Greece, euro zone leaders called on Italy to take more rapid action on pension reforms and other structural measures to try to avoid the economy heading the same way as Greece.Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has promised to raise the retirement age to 67 by 2026, and pursue other adjustments to the country's economic model, steps the EU praised but said would only be positive if they were implemented."The key is implementation. This is the key. It is not enough to make commitments, it is necessary now to check if they are really implementing," said Barroso.Leaving the summit venue at 4.30 a.m., Jean-Claude Trichet, the outgoing head of the European Central Bank, said he was cautiously optimistic that the deal could help stabilize the unrest in European financial markets and economies."What I heard in this European Council was the expression of the will of the heads. That is in my opinion extremely important," he told reporters. "What is backing this orientation is the will, the collegial will, if I may, of the heads of state and government that are behind it. But again no complacency -- very hard work, very hard work."Read the full story here.More here from Spiegel.
- Email from Lisa Fithian to #OccupyWallStreet Confirms ACORN Role in Occupy’s Next Assault on Banks. (BigGovernment). Lisa Fithian–the radical organizer whose role in Occupy was first exposed at Big Government–has apparently confirmed that ACORN-linked organizations are leading the Occupy movement’s next major protest action against banks nationwide.Fox News reported earlier today that remnants of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the radical community organizing group that collapsed after its corruption was exposed by Big Government, are playing a “behind the scenes” role in organizing the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.The Fox News investigation followed Matthew Vadum’s report two weeks ago at Big Government that ACORN was paying people to attend the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York through the Working Families Party, an ACORN front group.Now, Big Government has learned that in an email (below) sent by Fithian to Occupy organizers and supporters on October 22, 2011, she reported that the “New Bottom Line”–an effort to move as much money out of major banks as possible on November 5th–is being led by several ACORN-linked organizations: “National People’s Action, National Pico Network, and Alliance for Just and Sustainable Economy and other key state groups like ACCE in CA, NYCC in NY, or MORE in St. Louis.”Read the full story here.
- Exactly one year before the 2012 election, Obama FCC schedules first-ever nationwide test of emergency broadcast system.(DougRoss).Last night, just before midnight, C&S commenter "Ten Mile Island" described the FCC's bizarre demands to enact the country's first-ever nationwide test of the emergency broadcasting system.Tonight, broadcasters across the country found out about a new, federal requirement.
On November 9th, the broadcasters and cable operators of this nation, will be airing the first national test of the Emergency Activation System. The message will be aired as an "EAN," the code for an Emergency Activation Notification.Tonight, within hours of this post, broadcasters and cable operators learned, for the first time, that the requirements for those federally licensed operators, are required to have a new "EAS Handbook" at their individual control points. So, for more than 15,000 operations, we will be required to have, on-hand, a new document, that none of us has ever heard of before tonight.
Additionally, unknown before this evening, all broadcasters and cable operators are required to list information about their operations;None of this was known to any of us before this evening. There was no process.I've gone through the registration process. But there are literally thousands upon thousands of broadcasters and cable operators who will learn of this tomorrow. There will be thousands of broadcasters and cable operators who will never see this requirement pass their desks before the test, November 9th.Why?
Because the process was entirely avoided. Is it legal? As a broadcaster, duh, yes. We live on the string pulled by Uncle Sam. Broadcasters have no rights. Only responsibilities. Is it fair? Who said anything in life is fair. Is it gentlemanly?
Are you kidding? Democrats and their stooges gentlemanly? Are you taking drugs?
Not to worry: it's just coincidental that this date is almost precisely one year to the day before the 2012 presidential election.As an aside, can you imagine the hue and cry had Bush 43 tried this sort of thing?If you're not just a wee bit concerned with the timing of this test, you're not paying attention.Hmmm......I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes. ~ Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776.Read the full story here.
- Government Did the NYPD Police Commissioner Meet With George Soros in Secret?(Docstalk).Buck Sexton. Did the most powerful police commissioner in America have a secret meeting with leftist financier George Soros?Len Levitt, the police journalist and blogger behind NYPD Confidential, claims in a piece on HuffPo that Soros scored a clandestine conference with Kelly at One Police Plaza, the NYPD’s headquarters, just last week.According to Levitt, Soros was “escorted in by a retired NYPD cop, driving a wine-colored Mercedes, [and] the left-leaning billionaire was whisked in and out of police headquarters with no one being the wiser.” Levitt claims that a Soros official confirmed the meeting to him. But NYPD has remained mum on the subject.Soros’s face-to-face with Ray Kelly comes amidst accusation that the Open Society Institute has been a key source of funds for Occupy Wall Street. Reuters even published a story on the connection, which led to widespread outrage in the mainstream press.
Soros’s people of course vehemently deny the accusation and claim no involvement in OWS. Reuters later retracted.Unlike the President of the United States, who at least theoretically has to publish his schedule of visitors, New York City’s Police Commissioner keeps his docket of admirers, advisors, and other invitees to his office private.But as more and more New Yorkers ask when the Occupiers will leave, questions will fly about why the NYPD backed down from one Zuccotti Park eviction, and has yet to try another.We know political influence was brought to bear in favor of the Occupiers.Hmmmm.......Obama's buddy.Read the full story here.
- Iraq War Veteran Suffers Skull Fracture In Occupy Oakland Violence.(CBSLocal).OAKLAND (CBS 5) – A U.S. Marine who had served two tours of duty in Iraq was critically injured during an altercation between police and protesters on the streets of Oakland Tuesday night.Scott Olsen sustained a skull fracture after being shot in the head with a police projectile, according to a press release from Iraq Veterans Against the War - which claims Olsen as a member.Friends told CBS 5 that the injury was a skull fracture, and Oakland’s Highland Hospital spokesperson Curt Olsen confirmed that Scott Olsen’s condition was listed as critical.The protests began around 4 p.m. near the main branch of the Oakland Public Library at 14th and Madison streets. The crowd was ordered to disperse several times as they marched from the library to City Hall.During the protests Tuesday night many officers were assaulted, doused and hit with hazardous materials and hit with large rocks and bottles, police spokeswoman Cynthia Perkins said. Perkins said this resulted in a declaration of an unlawful assembly. To enforce dispersal orders officers used less-than-lethal force tactics.Scott joined the Marines in 2006, served two-tours in Iraq, and was discharged in 2010. Scott moved to California from Wisconsin and currently works as a systems network administrator in Daly City, according to the press release.Scott was sedated at a local hospital awaiting examination by a neurosurgeon Tuesday, according to Iraq Veterans Against the War.The “Occupy Oakland” demonstrators announced Wednesday that they planned to return to the plaza every night at 6 p.m. to continue the protest in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.Read and see (Video) the full story here , more here.
- Introducing The 'Rogue Websites Bill' Introduced in U.S. House.(Cryptogon).The “Stop Online Piracy Act” would target foreign websites for take down. I wondered what this actually meant, from a technical perspective, so I gave the proposed legislation a very quick look.It turns out that the government wants to force U.S. Internet service providers to block access to the sites. There would be a ban list that the ISPs would have to enforce. The ISPs would also have to modify their DNS records to prevent the foreign sites from resolving:
A service provider shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order, including measures designed to prevent the domain name of the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) from resolving to that domain name’s Internet Protocol address. Such actions shall be taken as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within 5 days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order.
This is, in effect, what China, Iran, North Korea, etc. do with their national firewalls. The difference with the U.S. version is that they would force individual ISPs to carry out the bans, rather than implementing them in a centralized way.
US lawmakers introduced a bill on Wednesday that would give US authorities more tools to crack down on websites accused of piracy of movies, television shows and music and the sale of counterfeit goods.The Stop Online Piracy Act has received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and is the House version of a bill introduced in the Senate in May known as the Theft of Intellectual Property Act or Protect IP Act.The legislation has received the backing of Hollywood, the music industry, the Business Software Alliance, the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce and other groups.But it has come under fire from digital rights and free speech organizations for allegedly paving the way for US law enforcement to unilaterally shut down websites, including foreign sites, without due process.If you think that this is just about fake Gucci purses, just wait…Read the full story here.
- Jihadist Cleric Calls Sabotaging Western Economies a Religious Duty for Muslims.(Docstalk).SITE Intelligence. Comment By Jim Campbell.Was a fatwa required for this? We are already attacking our own economy by needless expenses associated with trying to protect us when the tried and true model of Al El works in Israel’s airports.Our model is based on creating situations that violate Americans rights using for example the jack boot tactics of the TSA. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, I’m J.C. and I approve this message.A prominent online Jihadist cleric has officially decreed in a “fatwa” — a statement laying out an official religious duty — that it is the obligation of all Muslims to join in on riots against ‘“Crusader states” such as those in the U.K. as a means of waging Jihad Sheikh MaqdisiSITE Intelligence* reported on the fatwa found on the Jihadist website of cleric Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, called “The Pulpit of Tawhid and Jihad.”Global JihadThe fatwa was posted on Abu Muhammad’s website on August 16, 2011, and was passed around to other jihadist forums on Tuesday.In the question and answer section of Abu Muhammad’s website, an unknown individual requested guidance from the website’s Shariah Committee regarding participation in the U.K. riots as a means to damage enemy states.SITE captured the response from cleric Abu Mundhir al-Shanqiti as follows: “Every Muslim should participate and contribute in sabotaging the economies of the Crusader states, whether this is through economic boycott or by targeting their property with vandalism and arson.”This online Fatwa appears to be part of a growing movement in the cyber realm calling for the forces of Jihad to join with leftist unrest as means of weakening and eventually overthrowing western democracies. SITE has previously reported on calls from Jihadists for propaganda support of the riots using social media, and even disseminating bomb-making instructions to rioters.In this instance, however, the fatwa calls for direct physical participation in the riots for Muslims to wage Jihad, which goes a step beyond what has been reported before in online Jihadist chatter.Order has been restored in the U.K. for now. But riots could spark again any day, and if Sheikh Maqdisi has his way, the next time police could find themselves facing off against left-wing radicals arm-in-arm with Jihadists.Read the full story here.
- Greeks panic and withdraw money from banks.(Bild -GoogleTranslt).Panicky citizens of Greece, fearing a national bankruptcy and loss of their savings, are withdrawing their money from Greek banks as quickly as they can. In the last week alone, €200 billion cash has been transferred from Greek banks to banks in Switzerland. According to the head of one Athens bank branch, 2,500 of his 5,000 customers have withdrawn their money, to transfer it abroad or hoard it at home. “There are cases where people leave with €300 000 in their bag. If this continues, there will soon be no more money.” Some people burried their money in their garden, others (Wealthy) have enriched the Swiss Bankaccounts for 200 Billions in the past weeks.Read the full story here.
- China Wants Bases an Endless War in Pakistan.(Wired).Washington just got a golden opportunity to end its decade-long excursion into central Asia and deplete the power of its Pacific rival/banker, all in one fell swoop. The Chinese are seeking bases in the tribal regions of Pakistan, precisely where the U.S. fights its drone war. The plugged-in Asia Times Online reports that China wants to set up military hubs in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa, formerly known as the Northwest Frontier Province. China’s reasoning will sound familiar to American ears: That’s where anti-Chinese terrorists operate. Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa abuts the restive, non-Han Chinese province of Xinjiang, home to ethnic Uighur separatists. With the People’s Liberation Army getting a foothold in tribal Pakistan, the Chinese reason, it can crush separatism, and make sure that terrorist factions can’t hide out across the border.This is usually when Pakistan expects the U.S. to freak out over the spread of Chinese power and draw a line in the sand. When the Pakistanis threw a fit over the bin Laden raid, they publicly flirted with letting the Chinese see the wreckage of a secret U.S. stealth helicopter. They hug China close during periodic flare-ups with Washington, pointedly dubbing Beijing an “all-weather friend.”The Asia Times Online story smells like a calculated Islamabad leak, especially since it comes on the heels of last week’s demand by Secretary of State that Pakistan cut off its terrorist proxies in the Haqqani Network. And since the Pakistanis want China to build a naval base on its territory, the Chinese even have leverage to move into the tribal areas. You can expect some thumbsucking think-tank type to lament the decline of American power any minute now.But if the Chinese really are headed to tribal Pakistan, then — as Chris Partlow once said to Marlo Stanfield on The Wire — this is one of those good problems.Fighting for a decade in central Asia has a way of obscuring something basic. The center of that war lies in tribal Pakistan, which is battered by U.S. drone strikes, but the U.S. has fought an exhausting war in the larger area that it’s finding difficult to satisfactorily conclude. That gives the Pakistanis a huge amount of leverage to get U.S. aid — and, accordingly, a disincentive to actually fighting terrorism, lest the aid stop when the mission concludes.This Central Asian preoccupation — 10 years of war that has cost the U.S. hundreds of billions — has redounded decisively to China’s advantage. The U.S. funded its central Asian wars not buy raising taxes, but by borrowing money from China, and it’s only now turning to the problem of how to reduce its crippling debt. Meanwhile, China, the world’s second largest economy, is ever more assertive in the Pacific, and is modernizing its military with its first stealth jet and anti-ship missile. (Although the U.S. is way more militarily powerful.)Taken together, all this has U.S. policymakers declaring America’s long excursion in the Mideast and South Asia to be a distraction worth concluding in order to refocus on the vital Asia-Pacific region.And here come the Chinese, ready to take on two birds with one stone.Think about it. The Chinese entangle themselves in a region where the U.S. found itself exhausted in an inconclusive effort. Since it’s China’s backyard, the domestic and internal military pressures to keep fighting there will likely be great. China can batter the residual terrorist presence in tribal Pakistan — its brutal Army will kill U.S. enemies as well as its own, if history is any indication — and also experience the pleasures of dealing with Islamabad, selling it weapons, and being responsible for Pakistani security. Surely Beijing will enjoy an intransigent ally that rejects its advice while keeping its money. And if China really wants a larger role in global affairs, tribal Pakistan is the most advantageous place for the U.S. to pass the baton.And since Pakistan often says it wants the U.S. to leave it alone, let’s see how it enjoys taking yes for an answer, and losing its American aid. The U.S. can still launch drone strikes into Pakistan as insurance — as it keeps for itself drone launchpads like Jalalabad or Kandahar during and after the Afghanistan troop withdrawals. Surely the Chinese will be generous patrons, since they’re rich and they like funding infrastructure.Meanwhile the U.S. can draw closer with India — the subcontinent’s economic, technological and military superpower, which both Pakistan and China distrust — and its Southeast Asian friends like South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and increasingly Vietnam. The U.S. doesn’t even have to wage a cold war with China. It just needs to let the Chinese have the bases it says it wants in an armpit of the globe, covering our withdrawal from it.Speaking of that cold war, there are many, many people in the U.S., China and Pakistan that want to see it proceed, whether out of paranoia or shortsightedness. From Washington’s perspective, a China-Pakistani alliance is a godsend, allowing the U.S. to cease its expensive, bloody Great Game in South Asia and letting a new player compete for a dubious prize. In the words of The Wire’s other great strategist, Marla Daniels: You cannot lose if you refuse to play.Read the full story here.
- Following a Tour of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Saudi-Born Liberal Mansour Al-Hadj Describes Early Education in Saudi Arabia: 'We Didn't Learn that the Holocaust Was a Crime; Instead, We learned the Muslims Are Destined to Kill the Jews at the End.(Memri).In an article published October 24 on the reformist website Aafaq, liberal journalist and writer Mansour Al-Hadj writes about the skewed picture of the Holocaust he received as a child growing up in Saudi Arabia, mainly due to the school curricula which failed to present this event as an atrocity, and which encouraged – and in fact still encourages – enmity against the Jews and other non-Muslims. Describing the eye-opening experience he had when he visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; he concludes that everyone has a responsibility to teach his children about this dreadful period in history, and about other crimes of extermination that are a disgrace to the human race, in order to build a better future based on tolerance, understanding, and respect among all human beings.
The following are excerpts from the article:
As a Child in the Saudi Arab Kingdom... The Word ['Jew'] Was Associated in My Mind with Negative Qualities like Deceit, Enmity, Racism [and] Miserliness...""As a child in the Saudi Arab kingdom, I often heard about the Holocaust that befell the Jews at the hands of the Nazi regime in Germany during World War II. However, most of what I heard was that the Jews exaggerated the number of victims, that they used the Holocaust to arouse the world's pity, and that they indisputably deserved their fate. I never learned that the Holocaust was among the most atrocious crimes in human history, and I did not read that persecuting [the Jews] based on their religion is considered religious discrimination. I did not feel any empathy toward the victims of the Holocaust, despite the atrocious things that happened to them, only because they were Jews. The word ['Jew'] was associated in my mind with negative qualities like deceit, enmity, racism, miserliness, and going back on one's word. [I knew] they were prophet-killers whom Allah had cursed and turned into apes and pigs, and that we are destined to kill them in the battle to come – in which, according to a prophecy by Muhammad, even the trees and stones will fight alongside the Muslims, and whenever a Jew hides behind them, the stones and trees will say: 'O Muslim, o servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!' The well-known cleric and head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, referred to this [final battle] when he praised what Hitler did to the Jews and described it as 'divine punishment.' He stressed that the Muslims would [ultimately] do to the Jews exactly what Hitler did, saying: 'Allah willing, the next time [this happens, it] will be at the hand of the believers.'"As I grew up my feelings didn't change much: [I felt] indifference, played down the horror of the events, and believed that the Jews had gotten what they deserved for their corruption and arrogance. [This continued] until I visited the Holocaust museum in the American capital of Washington, and had the honor of meeting one of [the senior museum staff], who took me on a tour of the museum and gave me detailed explanations about the Holocaust. [Then] for the first time I realized my deep ignorance regarding the horror of the Holocaust and what happened to the Jews, who were ordinary citizens with equal rights, living normal lives, until the Nazis came to power."Wandering through the hallways of the museum, I remembered a class I sat through in junior high, about the extermination of the Jewish [tribe] of Banu Qurayza. One of the Prophet Muhammad's companions, Sa'd bin Mu'adh, ordered to kill the men, capture the women, and seize the Jews' money – and the Messenger supported this ruling, describing it as Allah's ruling regarding [the Banu Qurayza]. At the time, we [pupils] did not object, protest, or ask why an entire tribe had to be exterminated for the misconduct of some of its members. We did not at all feel that this was an unjust ruling.""[Our attitude] can be explained by the fact that the authors of the Saudi curricula intentionally neglected [to teach us] that Hitler's incineration of the Jews is considered a crime. [After all], in principle, there is no difference between what the Messenger of Islam did to the Banu Qurayza tribe and what the Muslims are planning to do to the Jews at the End of Days, in [that final] battle they await. It can also be explained by the fact that Saudi Arabia repeatedly refuses the demand of the American State Department to include the Holocaust in its curricula, which continues to incite to violence and hatred against non-Muslims in general and the Jews in particular. [For example,] the 12th grade textbook Studies on the Islamic World (2006-2007 edition) emphasizes that the conflict between the Jews and the Muslims is inevitable and insoluble. The book reads: 'Whoever studies the nature of the conflict between the Muslims and the Jews understands an important fact: this is a religious conflict, not a dispute about politics, or nationality, or a conflict between races or tribes, or a fight over land or country, as some describe it. This is a deeply rooted enmity, a conflict between truth and falsehood, between monotheism and polytheism, between heresy and faith. The enmity between us and the Jews will under no circumstances cease until one of two things [happens]: either they join our religion and become Muslims, or we abandon our religion, God forbid... Once we realize the essence of this conflict, and that this enmity cannot cease, we understand how much those who say the conflict can be settled are misleading [us]. I could not imagine how the German people cooperated with the [Nazi] authorities in discriminating between Jews and non-Jews. [My guide] told me that the economic situation played a part in this, and that after the Nazi party barred the Jews from working in many professions – such as law, medicine, and education… This reminded me of the policy of 'Saudization,' which the Saudi authorities are encouraging in the kingdom as a means to solve the unemployment problem, and from the depiction of foreigners as if they are plundering all the good of the land and are the cause of unemployment – [an attitude] that has led to a growing phenomenon of hatred of foreigners, especially among the unemployed youth. "The Germans' ingenuity and their precision in labor, documentation, and classification helped preserve all the atrocious deeds the Nazi regime committed. I was amazed when I saw the mechanisms devised especially to record the number, class, dimensions, weight, age, and illnesses of the Jews. I was also amazed to learn that the regime forced the Jews to put special signs on their arms and chests to distinguish them from their fellowman, and that they cast them into special neighborhoods. In one picture, I noticed that the ghetto to which the Jews were transferred was located on the road leading into town, with passersby [able to] see the Jews day in and day out in this miserable condition. Immediately, I recalled that the second Caliph, 'Omar bin Al-Khattab, also forced the Jews to wear particular garb in order to distinguish them from the Muslims. "The Nazi regime committed a great many atrocious deeds and conducted medical experiments on Jews as well as sterilized racially mixed children."In the museum, I also saw a model of the concentration camps to which the Jews were sent in preparation for their extermination, and model of the gas chambers... But what remains etched in my memory is the photos showing of thousands of Jews of various ages, residents of one village, in their best clothes, as they were before the Holocaust: a young man and his beloved, a family of father, mother, and brothers, a grandfather and grandmother, people in work clothes, a doctor, a soldier, a factory worker, a teacher, a carpenter, a blacksmith..."At the end of the tour, I saw pictures and names of European heroes who risked their lives in order to save the lives of Jews, sheltering them in their homes and providing them with food and clothing."From my visit to the museum, I learned that what happened to the Jews was a human tragedy in the full sense of the word, and that it is a grave mistake to deny it, to downplay its horror, or to justify it, and that all people must work together so that it will never happen again to any nation in the world. We are all, human beings, and we bear a responsibility to teach our children about the Holocaust, as well as other crimes of extermination that are a dishonor to the human race. We have to encourage our children to work for a better future in which tolerance, mutual understanding, and respect will prevail among all human beings, regardless of race, color, religion, or belief."Read the full story here.
- Turkish Cypriots Agree to Repeal Ban on Homosexuality.(IVE).Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu has agreed to repeal a ban on homosexuality in the northern part of Cyprus.It comes after an outcry over the arrest of three men accused of "conspiring to have a sexual intercourse against the order of nature".The men's case was taken up by UK Tory MEP Marina Yannakoudakis who met with Eroglu last week.She was visiting Nicosia as a member of parliament's high-level contact group for relations with the Turkish Cypriot community.She said she had received assurances from Eroglu that the Turkish Cypriot community was seeking to repeal the ban and that he would sign the repeal into law.Following the meeting, she said, "It's not illegal to be gay anywhere else in Europe; it's not illegal to be gay in Turkey."Chapter 154 of the penal code is an anachronism and needs to be repealed."All Cypriot adults should have the right to engage in consensual sex, be it with the same or different gender. I hope that Eroglu will keep the promise he made to me to rescind the ban and I will keep the pressure on him until he does."The northern part of Cyprus is the last place in Europe where homosexuality is still illegal.The recent high-profile arrest of the three gay men has once again brought the issue into stark focus. Violations of the law can result in a prison-sentence of up to five years.During her visit, the MEP held meetings with leaders from both sides of the 'green line' including Republic of Cyprus president Dimitris Christofias and Alexander Downer, special adviser of the UN secretary general on Cyprus, as well as Greek and Turkish Cypriot political parties and trade unions.She also held what she called a "particularly poignant" meeting with the committee for missing persons in Cyprus, who thanked the deputy for her work in parliament raising awareness of the fate of those missing.Yannakoudakis said there was a "great deal of pessimism" about the future of the peace negotiations between the two sides.She said, "While Greek and Turkish Cypriots continue to talk, issues such as exploration for natural gas in waters off Cyprus have slowed progress."I do not believe that drilling should be halted, nor should it be used as an excuse to apply the brakes to the peace process. If natural gas were to be found it would benefit all communities in Cyprus," she said.She hopes that the two sides can make progress at further talks at the end of October.She said she saw "further evidence" of bi-communal cooperation at a crisis centre which deals with fires, earthquakes and other natural disasters.She also met with the crime and criminal matters committee, which is also made up of Turkish and Greek Cypriots."There are still concerns, however, that EU aid is not getting through to the northern part of Cyprus. I was told of about €27m which was cancelled by the Turkish Cypriot authorities due to worries about its location near a military base."While progress on a political settlement may have slowed, I saw many examples of how the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities are working well together."Read the full story here.