News Feed 20120415

Financial Crisis
» Everything is Going to be Alright?
» Greece: Unemployment Hits New Record High of 21.8%
» Greece: As Quiet as a Eurocrat in Athens
» Italy: Monti Shifts to Corruption, The ‘Hidden Tax”
» New Banker Bailout to be Funded by Giant Tax Hikes
» The Church of Malthus
 
USA
» America Elected an Ignoramus
» Interview With Deneen Borelli — Author of “Blacklash”
» Who Owns the West?
» Why America is Devolving Towards Absolute Government Control
 
Europe and the EU
» Amanda Knox: The Publishing — and P.R. — War is on
» Britain for Sale: How Long Before a Foreign Power Turns Out Britain’s Lights?
» British Peer Lord Nazir Ahmed Suspended After ‘Offering £10m Bounty on Barack Obama and George Bush’
» British Muslim Leader Faces War Crimes Charges in Bangladesh Over Murders During Country’s Independence Struggle
» EU: Audit Court: Corruption Key Problem for Candidate States
» France: Police Raid Flat and Arrest Suspected Serial Killer After Spate of Paris Murders
» Italy: Milan House Museum Basks Visitors in Renaissance Luxury
» Italy: Discrimination Against Roma Persists in Italy, Say Amnesty
» Italy: Over One Million in EU Funds Embezzled in Calabria
» Italy: Moving ‘Ruby’ Trial Unconstitutional, Court Says
» Italy: Fincantieri Said to Want to Buy Ship Maker STX OSV
» Italy: Temperatures Drop to a Low of 9 in Rome and Florence
» The British University Head That Seeks to Force Islamic Values on All British Students
» UK: Human Rights Laws Are a Charter for Criminals, Say 75% of Britons
» UK: Muslim Woman Let ‘Secret’ Baby Die Then Dumped Her Body for Fear of Dishonouring Her Family
» World Remembers Sinking of the Titanic
 
North Africa
» Algerian Opens Election Period in Bid to Ease Discontent
» Egypt: Hubby Watching Porn Online Finds Film Starring His Wife
» Intimate Scenes to be Banned From Egyptian Public TV
» Saudi Wahhabism Expands Into Libya
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Pacifists Headed to Israel Stopped in European Airports
 
South Asia
» Afghanistan: Explosions & Shots in Kabul Embassy District
» Bangladesh: Ex Imam Convert to Catholicism Almost Killed
» India: Hindu Radicals Attack Christian Pastors During Easter as Police Stand Idly by
» Nepal: Maoist Government Gains Control of Iconic Pashupatinath Hindu Temple
» Taliban Militants Free 400 Prisoners Including ‘Dangerous’ Insurgents in Dramatic Attack on Pakistan Jail
» Taliban Launch Assaults Across Afghanistan
 
Far East
» A Revolt, the Quiet Japanese Way
» Japan — Great Britain: Noda and Cameron Meet, Talk Defence
» North Korea Celebrates First President’s 100th Birthday
» North Korea Launches Long-Range Rocket… But it Blows Up 90 SECONDS After Take-Off (So What Went Wrong?)
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Reports: Omar Hammami Executed
» South African President Zuma to Wed 4th Wife
 
Immigration
» Belgian Xenophobic Website Reflects Anti-Immigrant Attitudes in Europe
» Revealed: How HALF of All Social Housing in Parts of England Goes to People Born Abroad
 
Culture Wars
» California and the Subversive Teaching Radicals
» UK: And After Double Maths it Will Be… Paganism: Schools Told to Put Witchcraft and Druids on Re Syllabus
» US Children Born Out of Wedlock on the Rise
» Video: Cultural Marxism: Understanding the Origins of Political Correctness

Financial Crisis


Everything is Going to be Alright?

Is the U.S. economy going to be okay? Well, if the only source you listened to was the mainstream media, you would be left with the distinct impression that the U.S. economy is heading toward a full recovery and that everything is going to be alright. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all. The United States is rapidly becoming poorer as a nation and less competitive in the global marketplace. At the same time, consumer debt levels are rising, corporate debt levels are rising, state and local government debt levels are rising and the U.S. government is indulging in a debt binge unlike anything the world has ever seen. Considering the insane amount of money the U.S. government has been pumping into the economy, we should have seen a much more robust recovery by now. Instead, the employment statistics have barely moved and government dependence is at an all-time high. That is really sad, because this is as good as “the recovery” is going to get. The next major economic downturn is just around the bend, and in future years millions of us will desperately yearn for the “good old days” of 2012.

Below, I have compiled a list of things that I have entitled “Everything Is Going To Be Alright?”

It is composed in the form of a song, but it really isn’t meant to be sung. It is probably actually more of an economic horror poem than it is a song. What I have tried to do is to point out the absurdity of what we are all being told by our politicians and by the media. Hopefully you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Greece: Unemployment Hits New Record High of 21.8%

Almost doubled since 2010

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Greece’s unemployment rate rose to a new record of 21.8% in January from a revised 21.2% in December, Greek statistics service ELSTAT said on Thursday, as daily Kathimerini reports. This means Greece’s unemployment rate has roughly doubled since 2010, when the impact of the crisis began to be felt and Athens turned to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund for emergency loans. Budget cuts imposed by the EU and the IMF as a condition to save the debt-laden country from a chaotic default have caused a wave of corporate closures and bankruptcies. Starting this month, Greek unemployment figures are adjusted for seasonal factors. The average jobless rate in the 17 countries sharing the euro rose slightly in January to 10.7%, from 10.6% in December.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Greece: As Quiet as a Eurocrat in Athens

Le Temps Geneva

Their mission: to bring the Greeks onto the path of budgetary virtue. Their method: to shake up established practice and insist on sacrifices. The risk: they may be targeted by anyone with a gripe against the EU.

Richard Werly

On one side of the room, a window gives onto the ruins of the Acropolis and the scaffolding assembled by the team of archaeologists with a brief to watch over this crucible of European civilisation.

On the other, the two screens Yannis Siatras uses to monitor the stock market, one of which is intermittently displaying the front cover published by German magazine Focus in February 2010. It shows Vénus de Milo giving the finger and is accompanied by a headline that announces, “Cheats in the EU family”: a highly symbolic image that is associated with EU diktats and contempt.

“Show that! And then try to explain that the Union is on our side”, complains Yannis, a former financial editor, who is tempted to run for a seat at the next general election in May.

Silence as a first line of defence

We had already been warned by Kostas Pappas, a spokesman for the permanent representation of Greece in Brussels, “Beware of cliche’s that poison the atmosphere”, so it was no surprise to hear the same view expressed at the the European Commission delegation in Athens, which is located just behind the parliament building. On the other side of the street, the Evzones, soldiers in the traditional partisans uniform of white tights and pom-pommed hobnailed boots, were changing the guard, watched by handful of tourists.

One of them, a Greek American, was incensed by the display of the blue and gold-starred flag of the EU. “They have no place in the country of Socrates,” he says. “They are immoral servants of banks.”

Panos Carvounis is no longer bothered by this type of accusation. The genteel 50-year-old head of the European Commission Representation in Greece is well used to criticism. “I live at home. I go to the cinema without any fuss, while Greek politicians who have had bad press are afraid to leave their homes. I am often questioned, but never vilified”, he says.

In contrast, other members of the contingent of Eurocrats, who have been posted in Athens since the beginning of the crisis in the spring of 2010, have made silence their first line of defence.

Some 15 experts are deployed in the Greek capital as part of the Commission’s tasks force to help the country take advantage of EU funds [Greece has only managed to tap less than a third of the funds made available to it as part of the EU’s 2007-2013 budget]. A further 30 work for the EU delegation, and also serve as a secretariat for the troika, the tripartite agency (Commission, International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank) with a brief to implement the agreement that was finally accepted by Greek leaders in mid-March.

This latter group are charged with supervising the second €130 billion European bailout that will finance Athens until the end of 2014: a sum that has been made available in addition to the first €110 billion lent by the 27-member EU in 2010, and the €107 billion of debt that the country’s private creditors accepted to write off within the framework of a bond swap which will be completed by 18 April…

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



Italy: Monti Shifts to Corruption, The ‘Hidden Tax”

Rome, 12 April (AKI/Bloomberg) — Prime minister Mario Monti is shifting his focus from overhauling Italy’s economy to tackling corruption, a problem highlighted by the recent resignation of one of the country’s best-known political leaders amid a party- financing scandal.

Monti’s government is readying a package of anti-corruption measures, including broadening the criminal definition of corruption to include cases in the private sector and tightening procedures to prevent failed prosecutions due to the statute of limitations, said a person with knowledge of the proposals, who declined to be identified because an official announcement hasn’t been made yet.

Officials from the nation’s three biggest parties met last night to draft a joint bill that would make the use of public funding for political parties more transparent. Justice Minister Paola Severino said April 7 the government is “ready to intervene” on party financing unless Parliament takes action.

The Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption, known as GRECO, called on Italy yesterday to amend its criminal code in areas such as party financing and corruption penalties. That came after Umberto Bossi resigned as head of the Northern League April 5, caught up in the biggest wave of corruption scandals since the “Bribesville” cases in the 1990s led to the demise of Italy’s dominant political parties.

Fighting fraud “is a priority for the Monti government,” Democratic Party Deputy Donatella Ferranti said in an interview yesterday. “It weighs on the economy, on the recovery, but also on the credibility of our country abroad.”

Attracting Investment

The Democrats, the People of Liberty and the centrist Third Way are the three main parties in a broad coalition set up when Monti, 69, took over as unelected prime minister in November.

Monti said March 17 that Chancellor Angela Merkel told him increased efforts to fight corruption would lure more German investment to Italy. “It’s essential for the government to attract foreign investment,” he said.

Corruption in Italy amounts to a “hidden tax” of 1,000 euros ($1,310) to 1,500 euros per person each year, Ferranti said. Italy scored the worst of all euro-area countries except Greece in Transparency International’s global corruption ranking last year. Corruption accounts for 1 percent of the European Union’s gross domestic product, which would amount to 16 billion euros for Italy, the European Commission said in a June 6 report. That compares to damages of 90 million euros won by Italy’s state audit court in corruption rulings last year, according to a Feb. 16 report.

Berlusconi

While the media has focused mostly on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s legal battles, including a case with corruption charges, allegations have been leveled against officials from all of the country’s main parties this year.

Ten of the 80 legislators in Lombardy’s regional assembly are being probed, several for alleged kickbacks, including Speaker Davide Boni. Berlusconi has maintained his innocence of all charges in cases against him. Boni said March 20 he’s “totally extraneous” to any alleged wrongdoing.

Bossi’s son Renzo resigned from the regional legislature April 10 amid a criminal investigation that led to allegations that Northern League funds were siphoned off to the Bossi family. Neither Umberto Bossi nor Renzo Bossi is under investigation and both have denied using party funds for personal expenses.

There are “critical shortcomings in the party funding system of Italy which must be addressed as a matter of priority,” GRECO said yesterday. Italian parties spent 570 million euros from 1994 to 2008 out of 2.25 billion euros of public financing, the GRECO report said.

Influence Peddling

While Italy signed the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption in 1999, Parliament hasn’t fully ratified it. GRECO has recommended that Italy classify private-sector corruption and influence peddling as crimes, and lengthen the statute of limitations for corruption offenses.

One of Monti’s first tasks when he took office was to clean house at state-controlled defense company Finmeccanica SpA (FNC), whose chairman and other officials were involved in corruption probes. Chairman Pier Francesco Guarguaglini quit in December amid a probe involving a company unit run by his wife. Guarguaglini and his wife Marina Grossi have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Finmeccanica isn’t under probe.

“Illegality, corruption and graft are widespread and their size is much larger than what comes to the surface,” Luigi Giampaolino, chairman of the state audit court, said Feb. 16.

Italy came in 69th in the Corruption Perceptions Index ranking, Berlin-based Transparency International said Dec. 1, placing the country level with Ghana and lower than Saudi Arabia. Seventeen percent of Italians said they were asked to pay a kickback in the previous 12 months, a Eurobarometer poll in 2009 showed, almost double the European average.

The government plans to present an amendment on April 17 to address the GRECO recommendations, the person familiar said.

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



New Banker Bailout to be Funded by Giant Tax Hikes

In the video below, Alex breaks down how billionaires like Warren Buffett are the biggest beneficiaries of the “rule” they are now forcing through Congress. The net effect? Stealing the expanded tax revenue via banker bailouts and shutting down the middle class to eliminate competition for the big boys.

The same criminal mega banks that pulled off the banker bailout heist are set to run an even bigger scam. Billionaire scammer Warren Buffett was the biggest beneficiary of taxpayer money stolen in the bailout now he wants more. Please get this report out to everyone via Facebook, twitter, and every other media system. Together we can expose this fraud for what it is a mafia driven crony capitalism takeover! This is hidden in front of our faces; get this report out to talk radio as well.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



The Church of Malthus

Hating humanity is their creed, corporate-fascists its patriarchs, pseudo-scientists its priest-class, brain-addled cultists its practitioners.

Paul Gilding describes himself as an “independent writer, advisor and advocate for action on climate change.” He is not a scientist, nor does he appear to participate in any sort of productive industry. He is a modern day Malthusian evangelist — preaching the limits of population growth as hysterically as Thomas Malthus did over 200 years ago, warning of imminent societal collapse. Gilding’s contemporaries include John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who in 1977 ludicrously concluded that the United States would collapse when its population reached “280 million in 2040.”

America’s population stands well over 300 million today, and the only collapse it faces is due to a maniacal government attempting to carry out global imperial conquest through trillion dollar decade-spanning wars, and mega-trillion dollar banker bailouts paid to the order of institutionalized degenerate gamblers.

Clearly, whatever “science” men like Gilding and Holdren are basing their system of beliefs on is divorced from the science that gives us technology and progress. It is analytical, theoretical, and compiled by men who have little experiential knowledge of how the world actually functions. They are priests and evangelists perched in ivory towers and behind podiums shouting out their patently false conclusions to the crowds before them. Their resumes are devoid of accomplishments in applied science and technology, and instead filled with ridiculous predictions and “academia” that have humiliatingly and repeatedly been proven false.

Worst of all, their work is carried out on behalf of a “Green Vatican” of sorts — not based in Rome, Italy, but on Wall Street and in the financier capital of London — who in reality are the greatest purveyors of environmental catastrophe. Like many cults and organized religions before them, they shift the burden of reconciling “sin” onto its growing flock of followers instead of taking responsibility for its own actions, resultant from perpetual greed.

[Return to headlines]

USA


America Elected an Ignoramus

I do not write unpleasant things about Barack Hussein Obama because he is a Democrat, a far-left liberal ideologue, a confirmed liar, or the sock-puppet of whatever cabal that chose him long ago to be the President. I write unpleasant things because he is all of these things, but also because he is the most stupid man to have ever held the office of President.

[…]

Here’s just a quick look at some of them:

Hans Bader, a scholar with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, addressed recent examples of Obama’s ignorance when he mocked Republicans as members of the Flat Earth Society in Columbus’ day for their skepticism of his green energy policies, among which was a hearty endorsement of algae—pond scum, but Columbus’ contemporaries knew the Earth was round, but doubted he could reach Asia via the Atlantic Ocean. Bader noted that Obama “falsely attributed to Muslims the invention of printing and even falsely claimed that Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States as a new nation.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Interview With Deneen Borelli — Author of “Blacklash”

In a recent interview with Accuracy in Media, author and political activist Deneen Borelli called Al Sharpton an “ambulance chaser,” citing the Tawana Brawley case. Borelli is the author of the new book Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation. In the book, Borelli exposes the Left’s attempt to silence black conservatives who are battling against the Obama administration’s goal of expanding the government and increasing the number of people dependent on the welfare state.

Borelli considers the book as a call to action to empower Americans to help stop the cycle of government dependency, which deprives citizens of their rights to freedom and prosperity. Not only is she an author, but she’s a Fellow at Project 21, a network of black conservatives, which is an initiative of the National Center for Public Policy Research, based in Washington, D.C.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Who Owns the West?

It’s a fair question. The federal government claims ownership of most of the western states. Why?

In eleven western states, the federal government claims ownership of more than 50% of the land. Utah intends to get its land back. Utah’s HR148, recently signed into law by the Governor, tells the federal government that federal land in Utah, other than specified national parks, monuments, and wilderness areas, will be taken by eminent domain by the state of Utah if it has not been transferred to the state by the end of 2014.

Democrats and environmental organizations say this Law is an exercise in futility, a waste of time. Republicans and producers believe that Utah was granted statehood on an “equal footing” with the original states. “Equal footing” means that the federal government should own no land in the state of Utah, since none of the original states contained land owned by the federal government. Republicans and business leaders contend that this is exactly what the term means. Democrats and environmentalists disagree.

[…]

The Constitution provides no authority for the federal government to own more than half of Utah and 10 other western states.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Why America is Devolving Towards Absolute Government Control

With America Headed Towards Socialism, Most Care Not Enough to Resist.

The relentless encroachment of socialism upon America’s economic, cultural and governmental landscape is like a bad dream to most red-blooded Americans. When society changes it can seem like the ineluctable drift of evolution or chance. But in the case of America’s ongoing continued expansion of government powers, spiking taxes, and shrinking military, it’s all part of a planned elitist push into socialism. And one need not believe in secret conspiracies when contemplating this shift. In fact, for those paying attention, it was all outlined long ago by the Fabian Socialist society, and other groups such as the Frankfurt School, as explained below.

[…]

Congressional Record January 10, 1963

On January 10, 1963, Florida US Representative Albert Sydney Herlong, Jr gave a speech outlining what he believed to be the 45 methods communists were using to take over America. Ponder the staggering number of these goals already achieved, much to our mortal damage.

11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind.

15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.

16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.

17. Control schools. Use them to transmit socialist & Marxist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Infiltrate teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.

[…]

Frankfurt School

The Frankfurt School were a group of German intellectual Marxists who established the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University, modeled after the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow. This became known as the “Frankfurt School.” After Hitler came to power, these Marxist professors fled to the West to preserve their lives. Setting up shop in Columbia University, they decided to launch a mission to convert America to Marxism via a soft war. According to one source they did certain things to aid this:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Amanda Knox: The Publishing — and P.R. — War is on

Amanda Knox will publish her account of being accused — and cleared — of murdering her roommate Meredith Kercher. Her ex-boyfriend has a book deal too. But the victim’s father, who still believes the pair murdered his daughter, is fighting back with his own memoir.

The trial in Perugia is over, but the battle for the truth is only just beginning. Amanda Knox has already signed a $2.5 million book deal with publishing house Harper Collins. With the help of ghost writers, the former American exchange student in Perugia, Italy will write a memoir to be published in 2013, offering her story of being accused of sexually assaulting and murdering her British flatmate, Meredith Kercher.

Knox and her boyfriend were convicted and jailed in 2007, but cleared in 2010.

But John Kercher, the father of the slained student, will have his say first. On April 26, Kercher will publish a book about his daughter, focusing on her life rather than her horrendous death. In the 304-page-long book, he tells the story of their travels around the world — as well as how he coped with the murder.

A freelance journalist, John Kercher remains convinced that Amanda Knox is “unmistakably guilty” of his daughter’s death, despite an Italian court clearing the American woman and her Italian boyfriend of sexual assault and murder charges. Kercher says Knox’s “publicity stunt” is making it “much harder” for his family to grieve.

On top of that, Rafaelle Sollecito, Amanda Knox’s former boyfriend, has also signed a book deal to tell his version of the story. The Italian signed a contract with Gallery Books to publish Presumed Guilty: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox. The publishing house advertises the book as “the story of an involuntary protagonist,” victim of a hasty trial despite the lack of evidence. The book is written with the help of British journalist Andrew Gumbel, author of a book on the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings…

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



Britain for Sale: How Long Before a Foreign Power Turns Out Britain’s Lights?

On Saturday in the Mail, our City Editor Alex Brummer revealed the price we’re all paying in higher bills for having sold off half our companies to foreign owners. Here, in the second extract from his devastating new book, he warns that with so much of our vital utility companies in foreign hands, we are now at the mercy of conglomerates that could bring Britain Plc to a shuddering halt.

Everyone feels it’s their right to have water when they turn on a tap — just as we all assume a flick of a switch will produce light.

These are public services we take for granted. We also expect our airports to function properly and care homes to treat the elderly with respect.

True, most are now owned by private companies, but we tend to assume the public interest always comes first — such as plugging leaks and renewing water pipes, rather than providing fat profits for shareholders.

But what happens when most of Britain’s essential public services are no longer run by the British? It’s a crucial question that politicians dodge, as one company after another is sold off to foreign masters.

Roughly half of all our essential services — from water to bridges and ports — now have overseas owners. And in many cases, there’s disturbing evidence to suggest the public is losing out — and will continue to do so.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



British Peer Lord Nazir Ahmed Suspended After ‘Offering £10m Bounty on Barack Obama and George Bush’

A controversial British peer has been suspended from the Labour Party amid reports that he offered a £10 million bounty for the capture of President Barack Obama and his predecessor President George W Bush.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, 53, who in 1998 became the first Muslim life peer, was reported to have made the comments at a conference in Haripur in Pakistan.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “We have suspended Lord Ahmed pending investigation. If these comments are accurate we utterly condemn these remarks which are totally unacceptable.”

According to Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper Lord Ahmed offered the bounty in response to a US action a week ago.

The US issued a $10 million reward for the capture of Pakistani militant leader Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, who it suspects of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people died as terrorists stormed hotels and a train station.

The British peer reportedly said: “‘If the US can announce a reward of $10 million for the (capture) of Hafiz Saeed, I can announce a bounty of £10 million (for the capture of) President Obama and his predecessor, George Bush.”

Lord Ahmed reportedly said he would arrange the bounty at any cost, even if he had to sell his own personal assets including his house.

He was said to have made the comments at a reception arranged in his honour by the business community of Haripur on Friday.

A former Pakistani foreign minister and a provincial education minister were said to have been present at the reception…

[Return to headlines]



British Muslim Leader Faces War Crimes Charges in Bangladesh Over Murders During Country’s Independence Struggle

One of Britain’s top Muslim activists is facing war crimes charges in Bangladesh.

Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, the director of Muslim spiritual care provision in the NHS and a trustee of the charity Muslim Aid, is accused of involvement in the abduction and murder of ‘intellectuals’ during Bangladesh’s struggle for independence in the 1970s.

Mr Mueen-Uddin has denied any involvement in the crimes he has been allegedly linked with — but faces the death penalty if convicted.

Mr Mueen-Uddin moved to Britain from Bangladesh in the early 1970s and has since become a British citizen and forged a successful career as a community activist and Muslim leader.

In 1989 he was a key figure in the protests against Salman Rushdie controversial book, The Satanic Verses.

And he was photographed with Prince Charles when the heir visited a Islamic centre in Leicester in 2003.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



EU: Audit Court: Corruption Key Problem for Candidate States

Can undermine accession process, important to set priorities

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 11 — “Corruption is the main problem for a number of candidate countries [for integration into the EU]” and “could seriously undermine the entire process,” according to Karel Pinxten, a member of the EU Audit Court, who has been speaking today at the Foreign Affairs Commission at the European Parliament.

Speaking of funds allocated by the EU to prepare candidate countries prior to their integration, Pinxten underlined the economic efforts being made by member states during the current financial crisis, with the figure reaching almost one billion euros in 2011, another reason for which “it is important to use every euro in the best way possible,” Pinxten said. “The time factor is key. Preparation for EU entry is a marathon, not a sprint. Croatia has shown this, almost ten years on from its request to join,” in 2003. According to Pinxten, past experience suggests that “it is important to identify intelligent objectives, which means specific, significant and measurable priorities, with defined time frames”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



France: Police Raid Flat and Arrest Suspected Serial Killer After Spate of Paris Murders

A suspected serial killer was in custody in Paris last night following the murders of four people in almost as many months with the same pistol.

Armed detectives swooped on a flat in the Essonne area, just south of the capital, yesterday and arrested a 33-year-old man.

The suspect, who is known to be an amateur gun user and to have psychological problems, was not named.

A second man was also thought to have been arrested in central Paris in connection with the murders.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Italy: Milan House Museum Basks Visitors in Renaissance Luxury

Bagatti Valsecchi residence a treat for history, art lovers

(ANSA) — Milan, April 10 — When the Hapsburg viceroy Maximilian was forced to abandon rule over Lombardy and Veneto in 1859, and retreated from Milan to his castle in Trieste, the Milanese barons Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi were teenagers. As the highborn brothers matured, they bore witness to the consolidation of the Kingdom of Italy under Savoy rule, and by the time they neared middle age, one of the great cultural challenges of the time was to forge an Italian identity. The freshly minted nation did not speak a common language: what is now considered Italian was Florentine dialect. The kingdom’s first king, Victor Emanuel II, spoke almost entirely Piedmontese and French. In keeping with the spirit of new patriotism, the Bagatti Valsecchi brothers turned to Lombard roots in the High Renaissance when they renovated their family palazzo in heart of Milan. Assiduous collectors of Renaissance objects, decor and art, they sought to create a seamless environment that harkened back to Lombardy’s artistic golden age of the 15th and 16th centuries — the era of Ludovico il Moro, Leonardo da Vinci and Ambrogio Bevilacqua. “Compared to the wide-ranging eclecticism that had been in vogue just a few decades earlier…this exclusive predilection was part of the broader context of post-unification Italy, which relied on the evocation of that glorious period for the construction of a new national identity,” wrote Lucia Pini, director of the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum in the catalogue for the 2010 exhibit “Unexpected Guests”. “The close link between container and content — that is, between the house and objects — was a defining feature of the brothers’ operation from the start,” she continued. “The house was…meant to provide them with a convincing and flawless setting. “We did not want to make a museum or a collection, but rather the reconstruction of a refined home of the mid-1500’s, where one could find objects from the 15th and 16th century of genres of all types: pictures, tapestries, carpets, furniture, weapons, pottery, bronzes, glass, jewelry, shoes, household utensils of every kind collected by careful study and returned to their original use,” Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi once explained. Renaissance paintings like Christ the Redeemer by Giampetrino and Madonna with Child by Ambrogio Bevilacqua flank 15th-century chests and engraved leather trunks. Flemish tapestries, cabinets of various shapes, tables and chairs with inlaid wood-carving, golden pill boxes, 15th and 16th century Venetian glass, ivory sundials and ancient musical instruments are spread throughout the lavishly decorated rooms.

Cutting-edge conveniences of the late 19th century, like water taps, showers and electrical lamps are camouflaged in neo-Renaissance form. The entire collection and its tailored setting remained private, part of the home of the brothers’ heirs until 1975. At that time, Pasino — one of Giuseppe’s sons — donated the entire collection to the Bagatti Valsecchi Foundation. It is now hosted in perpetuity in the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum on the main floor of the original palazzo in Milan’s Via Santa Spirito.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Discrimination Against Roma Persists in Italy, Say Amnesty

International day celebrates culture and raises awareness

(ANSA) — Rome, April 6 — Amnesty International said on Friday in preparation for the International Roma and Sinti Day that Roma, sometimes called Gypsies, continue to face “persecution and human rights abuses” in Italy.

The non-governmental organization criticized the discriminatory climate against Roma, specifically the 2008 Nomad Emergency decree that gave government representatives in the regions of Lombardy, Lazio and Campania the authority to waive human-rights legislation and allowed forced evictions of Roma communities.

The decree was declared unlawful by the country’s highest administrative court in 2011.

Discrimination against Roma is one of Italy’s biggest human-rights problems, Amnesty International said in the country’s section of its 2010 annual report.

The Italian government has consistently denied applying discriminatory practices regarding Roma. Celebrations for the International Roma Day focusing on raising awareness of the issues facing Romani people will kick off April 9 and include events throughout Italy. Amnesty will release a CD featuring 21 songs by Romani musicians from around Europe called Listen to Roma Rights.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Over One Million in EU Funds Embezzled in Calabria

Money used for private homes and gifts, say police

(ANSA) — Vibo Valentia, April 12 — Over one million euros in EU funding earmarked for the development of tourism accomodation in the region of Calabria was spent on private homes, said police on Thursday. Sixty-three people, including public officials, allegedly pocketed the EU money for personal use and as gifts to family members, including wedding presents, said police.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Moving ‘Ruby’ Trial Unconstitutional, Court Says

‘Obligated’ to try Berlusconi in Milan

(ANSA) — Milan, April 12 — The Constitutional Court said Thursday it would have been unconstitutional to move a trial in which former premier Silvio Berlusconi is accused of paying an underage Moroccan-born runaway and belly dancer known as Ruby for sex.

In a statement explaning its decision in February to keep Berlusconi’s hearings in Milan, the court said it was “constitutionally obligated” to do so. The decision went to the Constitutional Court after a court in Milan rejected a defense plea to move it to a special tribunal for ministers in Rome.

In addition to the charge of paying for sex with a minor, Berlusconi is charged with abusing his office by allegedly pressuring police to get Ruby out of custody after a friend claimed she stole money from her.

Berlusconi and Ruby, whose real name is Karima El Mahroug, deny having sex and he says he phoned police to avoid a diplomatic incident, having been told she was the niece of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Therefore, lawyers and Berlusconi’s political supporters argued, the case should be tried by a special ministerial court and not by the Milan court.

Backed by a parliamentary majority, in September the government won the second of two parliamentary votes on asking the Constitutional Court if Milan judges should have jurisdiction.

In the Senate, six months after a House vote, 151 Senators voted in favour of putting the matter to the Constitutional Court and 129 voted against.

The vote on the issue on April 5 in the House was closer, with 314 ayes and 302 nays, a margin of 12.

She admits attending parties where he gave her gifts.

The trial is one of three involving the ex-premier, who has claimed for years he is the victim of judicial persecution.

Paying for sex with a minor carries a jail term of three years and abuse of office 12 years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Fincantieri Said to Want to Buy Ship Maker STX OSV

Rome, 11 April (AKI/Bloomberg) — Fincantieri SpA, the Italian state- controlled shipbuilder, is among final bidders for a stake in STX OSV, the world’s biggest maker of offshore support vessels, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

An investment fund also submitted an offer, one person said, declining to identify the fund. South Korea’s STX Group, which is seeking to sell its 51 percent stake in Singapore- listed STX OSV, may reach a deal to divest the holding next month, the person said, asking not to be identified because the process is confidential.

STX Group’s stake is worth S$1.02 billion, or $809 million, based on yesterday’s closing price, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Singapore’s takeover guidelines require any buyer of more than 30 percent of a publicly traded company to make an offer for the rest of the stock. STX OSV has a market value of S$2 billion.

STX OSV, headquartered in Alesund, Norway, may benefit as depleting resources push oil companies to develop new offshore oil fields. Deep-water explorers are projected to spend a record $232 billion on new equipment in the next five years, according to Canterbury, U.K.-based researcher Douglas-Westwood.

Fincantieri, which builds cruise ships, ferries and luxury yachts, is owned by Fintecna, a company controlled by Italy’s finance ministry. A spokeswoman at Fincantieri declined to comment on the company’s interest in STX OSV.

Asset Sales

STX Group, owner of the world’s fourth-largest shipbuilder, said in October it plans to raise more than 1.3 trillion won, or $1.1 billion, early this year by selling overseas assets and bonds to repay maturing debt. In January, the company said it hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Standard Chartered Plc to arrange the sale of its STX OSV stake.

STX OSV won orders worth 11.1 billion kroner , or $1.9 billion, last year, including 6.03 billion kroner in the fourth quarter. Its order book stood at 16.7 billion kroner at the end of December with deliveries stretching into 2016.

The offshore-vessel builder was bought by STX Group through the takeover of Aker Yards ASA, completed in February 2009. It sold a stake in an initial public offering in November 2010. Och-Ziff Capital Management Group owns 20 percent of STX OSV, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

STX OSV’s products include vessels that are used to move or supply oil rigs. The company has yards in Europe, Asia and Brazil. It is building a second facility in the South American nation as Petroleo Brasileiro drills new wells off the country’s coastline.

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



Italy: Temperatures Drop to a Low of 9 in Rome and Florence

(AGI) Rome — During the night temperatures dropped to a low of 9 in Rome, Bologna and Florence, 10 in Venice and Milan. In Palermo the lowest did not drop under 14 degrees Celsius and in Siracusa it reached a low of 17.

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



The British University Head That Seeks to Force Islamic Values on All British Students

Professor Malcolm Gillies, the Vice-Chancellor of London Metropolitan University, is considering banning alcohol from the University’s premises as it causes offence to Islamic students.

This is despite only a fifth of the University’s students being of the Islamic faith.

The problem with such an alcohol ban sponsored by a tax-payer funded University, is that goes contrary to the British Enlightenment’s tradition of rational choice, and responsibility. These principles should be at the heart of all Western and British educational institutions.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Human Rights Laws Are a Charter for Criminals, Say 75% of Britons

Nearly three quarters of Britons think human rights have become a ‘charter for criminals’, a poll has revealed.

It showed a strong majority of 72 per cent hold negative views about the role of human rights laws.

Only one in six said human rights had not become a charter for criminals and the undeserving.

The YouGov poll, published today, will heap pressure on ministers to secure major reforms to the European Court of Human Rights.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Muslim Woman Let ‘Secret’ Baby Die Then Dumped Her Body for Fear of Dishonouring Her Family

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

A mother who gave birth to a baby girl in ‘secret’ following an affair, let her newborn die before burying its body in the ground.

Fatima Ali, from Bury, Greater Manchester, feared she would bring shame upon her devout Muslim family for having the child out of wedlock.

And after giving birth to the infant — alone her bedroom, she cut the umbilical chord and left it to die.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



World Remembers Sinking of the Titanic

The world has been marking the 100th anniversary of the most famous disaster in maritime history, the sinking of the Titanic. More than 1,500 people lost their lives in the tragedy. Services took place on both sides of the Atlantic on Sunday to remember the sinking of the “indestructible” cruise liner Titanic 100 years ago to the day.

Passengers held a minute’s silence on board the deck of MS Balmoral, which has been retracing the route of the voyage across the North Atlantic. Floral wreaths were thrown into the water at the site where the ship went down. In Belfast, where the Titanic was built, a memorial garden with all the victims’ names was unveiled during a commemorative service. Thousands had attended a memorial concert held a day earlier.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Algerian Opens Election Period in Bid to Ease Discontent

The campaign for Algeria’s parliamentary elections has begun, with voting set to take place on May 10. The poll is seen as a test for reforms aimed at preventing an Arab Spring-style uprising in the ex-French colony. Campaigning began in Algeria on Sunday for elections that are being viewed as a litmus test for the ruling elite’s ability to avert a popular uprising similar to those in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

The poll would be “a decisive gamble which it is incumbent on us to win, because we have no other choice but to succeed,” President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said in an advance message to mark Algeria’s Day of Knowledge on Monday. Deadly rioting in January 2011 coincided with an uprising in neighboring Tunisia that toppled Zine el Abidine Ben Ali from his role as president.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Egypt: Hubby Watching Porn Online Finds Film Starring His Wife

An Egyptian man who went online to watch a porno film for the first time got the shock of his life when he found that the woman in the film was his own wife.

The man, identified as Ramadan, instantly collapsed in disbelief on the floor at an internet shop before coming round and rushing home to face his unfaithful wife.

The woman first denied his allegations and started to swear at him, prompting her husband to face her with the film.

Unable to deny it any more, she confessed to have betrayed him with her pre-marriage boy friend, telling him she had never loved him although they had four children during their 16-year marriage.

“I found 11 films showing my wife in indecent scenes with her lover….it was the first time I watched a porno film and I did this just out of curiosity,” Ramadan told Egyptian newspapers at his house in the northeastern province of Dakhalia.

“She first denied it and accused me of being insane before I faced her with the films…she then confessed to be still in love with her boyfriend, saying he is as young as her and that I am an old man.”

Ramadan said he had been happy during his marriage life until he logged on to that website. Newspapers did not say whether he decided to divorce her.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]



Intimate Scenes to be Banned From Egyptian Public TV

(AGI) Cairo — A group of Islamic supervisors of the Egyptian Public Broadcaster will be in charge of removing ‘immoral ‘ footage from films the network has in its archives. The ban will apply to scenes featuring hugging, kissing and belly dancing. As reported by the daily Kuwait al-Anba, which quotes sources from inside the Network, such a decision could bring about either the removal of important scenes from movies that are an integral part of Egypt’s cinema or their complete ban from any TV programming. Such movies have been aired several times in the past already. The daily believes that the setting up of a supervising authority on cinema and TV content is a clear indication of the ground which the Islamic parties have been gaining in post- Mubarak Egypt. According to the daily’s sources, censorship will be applied to the last 50 years of filmmaking.

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



Saudi Wahhabism Expands Into Libya

Since the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011 and in the chaos that has gripped Libya since, fundamentalist Libyans have been pushing for a strict interpretation of Islamic law. Under the umbrella of lawlessness, gunmen calling themselves Salafis broke into the Saif al-Nasr Mosque in Tripoli on November 8, 2011, smashed open the wooden sarcophagus and removed the remains of el-Nasr, a scholar who died 155 years ago, as well as that of a former imam, Hammad Zwai. The gunmen moved the bodies to a Muslim cemetery and, with the help of graffiti left on the walls, explained their disapproval of the Sufi Muslim tradition of burying scholars and teachers in mosques to honor them.

The estimated 200 to 400 members of the local Salafi movement in the small town of Zuwara near the Tunisian border have demolished shrines belonging to adherents of the Ibadi sect, long considered heretics by orthodox Sunni Muslims. In the town’s cemetery, large blocks of stone surround what was once a mausoleum. The large, conical-shaped structure that once adorned it now lies collapsed in the debris.

In January 2012, extremists bulldozed through a wall of an old cemetery in the eastern city of Benghazi, destroyed its tombs, and carried off 29 bodies of respected sages and scholars. They also demolished a nearby Sufi school.

A group of Salafis angered by the burning of the Koran at a NATO military base in Afghanistan entered the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Benghazi on February 24, 2012, and shattered headstones of British and allied servicemen who fought in North African desert campaigns against the Nazis during World War II.

Salafis are intolerant of other schools of Islam and have physically attacked Muslim minorities in other parts of the Arab world, including Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Many Muslims frequent the shrines of saints, believing the holy men have powers of intercession with the divine. Salafis, however, believe these are pagan rites that must be obliterated from Islam, in line with the teachings of the founder of the Salafi movement, Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd el-Wahab (1703-1792) whose philosophy has been the official doctrine of Saudi Arabia since the end of the eighteenth century. Its adherents prefer to call themselves Salafis.

The Wahhabi teachings disapprove of the veneration of historical sites associated with early Islam on the grounds that only God should be worshipped and that veneration of sites associated with mortals leads to idolatry. Many buildings associated with early Islam, including mausoleums and other artifacts, have been destroyed in Saudi Arabia by Wahhabis from the early nineteenth century through the present day.

Indeed, this version of fundamentalist Islam is not typical of Libyan Islam. Moderate Libyan and North African Islam has receded in the face of Wahhabi Islam coming from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. Under Gaddafi, the regime succeeded mostly in containing the Salafi push. But in areas remote from the center (Benghazi), the Salafis, together with al-Qaeda elements that apply a strict Wahhabi Islam, succeeded not only to survive the persecutions of the Gaddafi regime, but also succeeded in proselytizing their school of thought among the Libyans who were the backbone of the fighters in Afghanistan.

Throughout Libya, Gaddafi’s fall has emboldened Salafis, who were persecuted and imprisoned under the now deceased leader. They have increased their public presence, taken over mosques, and even raised the flag of al-Qaeda over the courthouse in Benghazi where the revolution began eleven months ago. Gaddafi’s disappearance and the link between the Qatari regime and the fighting militias particularly exposed the connection with Abdel Hakim Belhaj, the head of the Tripoli Military Council and former Guantanamo Bay inmate, and has created a situation where the military commanders of Libya are part and parcel of the Salafi-Wahhabi school of Islam. This explains their attitude towards the prevalent Sufi Islam in North Africa.

Moreover, for thirty years, massive amounts of oil money have been used to drown the Middle East and North Africa in Wahhabi ideas. The purpose of this support for the Wahhabi school of thought is basically political, in that the Saudi system of government depends on an alliance between the ruling family and the Wahhabi sheikhs. Hence, spreading the Wahhabi ideology reinforces the political system in that country…

           — Hat tip: JCPA [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Pacifists Headed to Israel Stopped in European Airports

(AGI) Rome — Hundreds of pro-Palestinian pacifists headed in Israel to take part in the Welcome to Palestine 2012 stopped in Europe. They were denied boarding on flights taking off from several European airports. Upon the request of Israeli authorities, the airline companies cancelled their plane tickets. Seven activists have been blocked at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, about one hundred in Geneva, and a dozen more in Paris. Some seats have been cancelled also on a flight taking off from Manchester airport.

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

South Asia


Afghanistan: Explosions & Shots in Kabul Embassy District

(AGI) Kabul — Eyewitnesses report at least seven explosions and a series of shootings in the embassy district of Kabul. The attacks took place near a supermarket frequented by foreigners.

The US embassy sounded its warning siren to tell all staff to move away from the windows. The shots seemed to come from different directions, which suggests a coordinated attack.

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



Bangladesh: Ex Imam Convert to Catholicism Almost Killed

Muslim leader first becomes Presbyterian abroad. After meeting a Catholic woman, he marries her and converts to her religion. Back in Bangladesh, he is totally rejected by his community. Despite the violence and social banishment, his faith remains strong: “I believe in Christ. I welcomed him” for “he is my saviour”.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) — “I believe in Christ. I welcomed him” for “he is my saviour,” said Vincent (not his real name for security reasons), a former Bangladeshi imam who is now Catholic and for this reason has endured persecution for a long time in his native community.

His journey towards conversion began abroad, far from Bangladesh. It led him first to baptism in the Presbyterian Church. After that, he fell in love with a Catholic woman, married her and then converted to her faith. Once they were back in Bangladesh, Vincent and his wife were welcomed by threats and violence. Members of his community beat him almost to death.

Islam in the state religion in Bangladesh but the constitution does not recognise Sharia and guarantees freedom of worship. This makes it one of the most open Muslim states, where conversions can occur in an atmosphere of general tolerance.

However, Islam’s social and cultural ascendancy is such that in many communities all sorts of pressure is put on people. In some cases, notaries refuse to sign papers testifying to conversions. In other cases, like that of the former imam, people resort to physical and psychological violence.

After almost two months in hospital, Vincent is back home. But the same Muslims who followed him and held him in high esteem when he was their imam now cannot accept his new “status”.

Beating is also not enough. Other forms of violence can be used. Both husband and wife have been ostracised, forced to move from home to home. Vincent eventually lost his job and now has to do odd jobs to survive.

Today he is a troubled man. Yet, his community’s banishment has not pushed him away from Jesus. He continues to attend Mass now more than ever, and repeat, “I believe in Christ. In him, I was reborn. He is my Saviour.”

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



India: Hindu Radicals Attack Christian Pastors During Easter as Police Stand Idly by

Two incidents are reported in Karnataka, one in Andhra Pradesh. In both states, members of Hindu ultranationalist groups have insulted, beaten and proffered death threats against believers and clergymen. Law enforcement officers filed cases against persons unknown even though the victims knew their attackers. For the president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, the Christian minority lives in a “climate of terror”.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — India’s Christian minority is living in a “climate of terror,” this according to Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) who spoke about the violence visited upon some Christian communities over the Easter break.

In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Hindu ultranationalist groups have attacked, beaten and made death threats against the pastors and members of three Pentecostal churches. Although each incident is distinct, they all have one thing in common, namely the “utter failure” of the police to act. For all intents and purpose, they are accomplices of Hindutva extremists.

The first incident occurred on 5 April in Mangalore (Karnataka) when a group of Hindus hurled stones at a congregation that had gathered for Maundy Thursday prayers at St Sebastian Church in the city’s Bendore area. A 46-year-old woman, Claret Pinto, suffered head injuries and was rushed to Colaco Hospital. Police later filed a report against persons unknown.

On Easter Sunday in Chamrajnagar (Karnataka), police went to the home of Rev Rajesh, 27, a pastor in the Indian Pentecostal Church of God (IPC) who had just finished a prayer service. They asked him under what authority he conducted the service at his home. Then, they insulted and eventually ordered him to vacate his home.

Later that day, Rev Rajesh and five other pastors went to the local police station to file a complaint about the incident. As they were briefing the attending officer, about 100 activists from the Bajrang Dal stormed the station and attacked the clergymen and a parishioner. The latter, named Babu, was wounded to the head and needed 24 sutures. Police present at the scene stood idly by.

Also on Easter Sunday, Hindu ultranationalists from the Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS) broke into the home of Rev Ratnababu, a pastor with the Christu Asinadu Prathana Mandir Church.

As some gagged and bound his son Madhu, others attacked the clergyman, throwing chilli powder into his eyes to blind him. They then physically assaulted him and his wife. When some neighbours began coming to the house in response to her screams, the attackers fled. Madhu was rushed to hospital.

Police filed a report against persons unknown even though the young man could identify the attackers.

Rev Ratnababu has been serving his Pentecostal community for 15 years. This attack by Hindu ultranationalists was not the first of its kind. In October 2011, there were three attempts to torch his church and numerous death threats against him. In the past six months, RSS activists were also able to get the police to arrest him, twice.

According to Sajan George, anti-Christian incidents are occurring on a regular basis. This and the lack of justice are a “serious threat” to the country’s secular backbone.

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



Nepal: Maoist Government Gains Control of Iconic Pashupatinath Hindu Temple

After almost 1000 years, management of one of the holiest Hindu temples goes to the civil authority. Priests and vendors salaried by ministry. The measure is to prevent corruption among the temple authorities.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) — The management of the Pashupatinath temple has passed to civil authority, after almost 1000 years. As of April 8 priests (bhattas) and shopkeepers (bhandaris) are employees of the Ministry of Culture. The salary for the highest office is about 3 thousand Euros per month. The government must also collect the million dollar of offerings left by pilgrims. The measure aims to prevent corruption among the staff and any waste of the believers’ donations.

Narottam Baidhaya, treasurer of the Pashupatinath Area Development Trust (PADT), says that the temple collects an average of 45 thousand Euros per month in contributions to which are added vessels of gold and silver. In addition each believer is charged a puja, or special fee for services, and upkeep of the sacred place. The expenditure for salaries and maintenance of the premises amounts to about 25 thousand Euros per month. The official points out that the revenue triples during major Hindu festivals: Teej, Balachaturdashi and Mahashivaratri.

Since its founding in the eleventh century, the temple has been self-managed and has always refused the interference of civil authority. To date, Pashupatinath was administered by five bhattas, including the Mul Bhatta (high priest) and 101 bhandaris. According to tradition, they have full authority over the collection of offerings. However, the temple authorities have never stated the exact amount of donations.

In recent months, the Supreme Court urged the government to regulate the receipts and expenditures of the temple, following a number of allegations of corruption against bhattas and bhandaris. On 21 March the Maoist government announced the transfer of the economic management of the Unesco site to a the civil authority.

The government decision sparked protests from the PADT and Hindu activists, who consider the act as a misappropriation by the executive led by secular Maoists. Already in 2008, the then Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda, had attempted to interfere with the activities of the temple by prohibiting the appointment of Indian priests under the new pro-Chinese policy in the country. To test the sincerity of the religious PADT allowed a television crew to film the process of collection and submission of bids.

Gopal Kirati, Minister of Culture emphasizes that the PADT has grown disproportionately and become difficult to control. He explains that in this moment of crisis, “there is need for transparency. Every Hindu should be proud of this decision.”

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



Taliban Militants Free 400 Prisoners Including ‘Dangerous’ Insurgents in Dramatic Attack on Pakistan Jail

Taliban fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades stormed a prison in north west Pakistan and freed 400 prisoners, it emerged today.

The raid by more than 100 fighters was a dramatic display of the strength of the insurgency gripping the nuclear-armed country.

Police said at least 20 of the inmates set loose were ‘very dangerous’.

Authorities fear the escaped prisoners may now rejoin the fight, giving momentum and a propaganda boost to a movement that has killed thousands of Pakistani officials and ordinary citizens since 2007.

The attackers battled their way into the prison before dawn in the city of Bannu close to the Afghan border and near Peshawar.

Bannu prison superintendent Zahid Khan said they used explosives and hand grenades to knock down the main gates and two walls.

‘They were carrying modern and heavy weapons,’ said Mr Khan. ‘They fired rockets.’

Once inside the building, the attackers headed straight to the area of the prison where death-row prisoners were being kept, he said.

Police officer Shafique Khan said they fought with guards for around two hours, setting part of the prison on fire before freeing the 380 inmates, including at least 20 ‘very dangerous Taliban militants’.

One escaped prisoner, Adnan Rashid, was on death row for his involvement in an assassination attempt against former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, said Zahid Khan.

The prison in Bannu housed 944 inmates.

A Taliban spokesman, Asimullah Mehsud, claimed the movement’s fighters freed 1,200 of their comrades. The group is known to make exaggerated claims.

Pakistan’s military has launched a series of operations against the Pakistani Taliban group in the northwest, where it is strongest and has forged alliances with al-Qaida and other transnational militant movements based there along the Afghan border.

The movement is closely linked to the Afghan Taliban, which is battling U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Soldiers and police have killed or arrested hundreds of militants, but the insurgency has proved resilient.

Insurgents have carried out suicide bombings and other attacks across the country in retaliation, raising doubts in some quarters over whether the county can survive.

Prison breakouts like the one Sunday have been rare.

Bannu city is the main gateway to North Waziristan, the most militant-infested region along the border.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]



Taliban Launch Assaults Across Afghanistan

Suicide bombers have struck in Kabul and other sites across Afghanistan. The attacks show that militants still remain a potent force capable of hitting at the heart of the capital. The Taliban on Sunday launched a number of near-simultaneous attacks on at least seven sites in the Afghan capital, Kabul, as well as elsewhere in the country. In Kabul, the militants mainly attacked an area close to the embassies of Germany, the United States, Britain and Iran, as well as offices of the United Nations and other international organizations.

The French, Turkish and Chinese embassies are not far from the site. Bombs and gunfire were heard in the diplomatic enclave. Militants also took over buildings and tried to enter parliament.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Far East


A Revolt, the Quiet Japanese Way

New revelations seeped out about the control Japan’s nuclear industry had over its regulators. In early 2006, five years before the apparently preventable meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC), an “independent” agency, began studying the enlargement of disaster-mitigation zones around nuclear power plants—from Japan’s standard 8-10 km to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s standard of a 5-km “top priority zone” and a 30-km “priority zone.”

But the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), which is under the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (METI), demanded the study be shelved, claiming in emails that were just released that the expansion “could cause social unrest and increase popular anxiety.”

It worked. But if the expansion of the zones had been implemented, it could have prevented the chaos of the evacuations from the areas around the Fukushima plant—and the deaths that occurred during it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Japan — Great Britain: Noda and Cameron Meet, Talk Defence

The two leaders met on Tuesday and Wednesday in Tokyo. Defence was at the centre of their talks. Great Britain will be only the second country after the United States to cooperate with Japan on weapons development. Cameron calls on Japan to agree to an EU-Japan free trade agreement.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) — Defence was at the centre of talks between Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his British counterpart, David Cameron, on Tuesday and Wednesday. Initially scheduled for last October, it was postponed because Cameron had to attend a European summit in Brussels.

Talks were important because they were centred on bilateral defence cooperation even though Article 9 of Japan’s constitution says, “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation”.

Japan has a long-standing ban on arms export and weapons development and production with other countries; however, last December its government decided to relax the ban on joint weapons development and production. This would be the first time Japan developed weapons with a country other than the United States.

Since his country is a member of the European Union, the British prime minister could also speak on important issues of common interest, including defence.

After he arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday, Cameron went first to the Imperial Palace for an audience with Emperor Akihito who recently underwent major surgery.

After their meeting, Noda and Cameron reiterated the importance of cooperation between Japan and Britain, including their position on how to deal with North Korea and its planned rocket launch, which many countries view as a missile test.

Before leaving Britain, Cameron told reporters that Great Britain is keen to become “Japan’s partner of choice” alongside the United States for defence industry collaboration.

“There are many opportunities for defence cooperation (between Britain and Japan) — for instance, in the area of helicopters,” Cameron said. “I hope to discuss these issues with Prime Minister Noda so that we can pave the way for our defence ministers to agree more formal cooperation when they next meet”.

“I believe stronger cooperation on defence will provide benefits for both countries in terms of jobs and investment as well as reducing the cost of defence equipment upon which we both rely,” the prime minister added.

Britain will be only the second country after the United States to collaborate with Japan in this sector.

Speaking about the Fukushima nuclear accident triggered by last year’s earthquake and tsunami, the British leader said, “I greatly admire and respect the way the Japanese have overcome the enormous challenges of recovery.” British companies, he added, can lend their “significant expertise” in nuclear decommissioning as Japan tackles the triple challenge of cleaning up after the earthquake, tsunami and the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.

Here Cameron was referring to a meeting on the nuclear challenge that Britain’s chief scientific adviser John Beddington will host during the prime minister’s visit to Japan, bringing together British companies with their Japanese counterparts and government officials.

According to The Japan Times, Cameron has been pushed for a free-trade area between the European Union and Japan.

“I really hope that we can formally open negotiations later this year,” Cameron explained. “But in order to win the argument in the European Union, Japan needs to demonstrate its readiness and commitment to tackling nontariff barriers that keep European companies from doing business in Japan.”

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



North Korea Celebrates First President’s 100th Birthday

A military parade marking the centenary of Kim Il-Sung, the founding president of North Korea, was held in the capital, Pyongyang, on Sunday. Television images broadcast by North Korean television showed thousands of soldiers carrying red flags and marching into Kim Il-Sung Square in the capital. Kim Il-Sung’s grandson, Kim Jong-Un, delivered his first ever public speech during the parade.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



North Korea Launches Long-Range Rocket… But it Blows Up 90 SECONDS After Take-Off (So What Went Wrong?)

North Korea’s rocket scientists have been forced to hang their heads in collective shame following the spectacular failure of their latest long-range missile which blew up moments after launch.

Military leaders had hoped to show off their nation’s technological prowess by blasting a satellite into orbit in what the West had called a covert test of missile technology and a flagrant violation of international resolutions.

But in deeply embarrassing episode for the communist country and its new leader Kim Jong-Un, the Unha-3, or ‘Milky Way’, rocket exploded 90 seconds after blast off and came crashing down into the Yellow Sea.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Reports: Omar Hammami Executed

Mogadishu (RBC) — Today, unconfirmed reports that a Daphne native who joined an Al-Qaeda linked terror group in Somalia may be dead.

Omar Hammami, also known as Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki joined Al-Shabaab in 1999 and eventually became one of the group’s top commanders.

The rumor is that he was executed by other commanders over a dispute about the terrorist group’s future.

The reports have been unconfirmed by NBC News and by Al-Shabaab, which has its own press office.

In the last few weeks, Hammami said he thought his life was in danger — but Al-Shabaab said they posed no threat to him.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]



South African President Zuma to Wed 4th Wife

(AGI) Johannesburg — Next weekend, the South African president Jacob Zuma, known polygamist, will marry a 4th wife. The wedding with Bongi Ngema will be celebrated with a private traditional ceremony in Nkandla. Zuma, 70, has three wife and some 20 children. In 1998 he divorced Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a South African candidate to the presidency of the African League, whereas another wife, Kate, committed suicide in 2000.

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

Immigration


Belgian Xenophobic Website Reflects Anti-Immigrant Attitudes in Europe

Vlaams Belang, a Belgian far-right party, has recently launched a website urging citizens to report crimes committed by illegal immigrants in a bid to mirror a similar Dutch website set up by a far-right party in Netherlands, Press TV reports.

According to European activists, the site is the latest example of growing anti-immigrant sentiment across Europe, which is no longer limited to extremist parties.

Vlaams Belang claims illegal immigration is being encouraged through services such as counseling and legal assistance, adding that illegal immigrants abuse social security.

This comes while European activists say illegal immigrants are denied their basic rights and cannot have access to social security.

Meanwhile analysts cite economic crisis as a major reason behind anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe at a time when the average EU unemployment rate is at an all-time high, that is over 10 percent and European countries struggle with huge debt loads.

They also argue that Europe cannot afford to foster this negative attitude towards immigrants because its population is declining and it is in need of immigrants from other nations.

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]



Revealed: How HALF of All Social Housing in Parts of England Goes to People Born Abroad

British people who have paid their taxes should get priority in the social housing queue over new migrants, David Cameron’s poverty tsar has said.

Frank Field, the senior Labour MP, has called for a shake-up of the way housing is handed out as it emerged that nearly half of all social housing in parts of the country were given to immigrants.

Nearly five million families are languishing on waiting lists for subsidised housing in England.

But in parts of London, which has the most expensive rents and property prices in the country, nearly half the social housing is allocated to foreigners.

Some boroughs did not record nationality details of social tenants which made it nearly impossible to properly scrutinise who is at the top of the queue.

Mr Field described the trend as a ‘scandal’ that ‘must stop’.

‘For years we have been told that British people on the waiting list for social housing are getting a fair deal,’ Mr Field said.

‘Yet, when the situation in London is examined, we find that, in reality, nobody has any idea how many new lets are going to foreign nationals and how many to British citizens.’

‘This scandal must stop. I have a bill before parliament that will ensure that those citizens who have made most contribution to society, who have paid their taxes and whose children have not caused trouble, for example, will have first choice of any housing available.

‘This would be a major change in our welfare state whereby benefits have to be earned rather than automatically allocated on need.’

The numbers of social housing tenants who were foreign have increased in the last four years to 8.6% in 2010-11, according to Department for Communities and Local Government figures.

But in London, where the waiting list has soared by 60% to 362,000 in the last decade because of rising house prices, a far greater proportion of housing is handed out to new migrants.

In Haringey, 43% of new tenants in social housing are foreign while in Ealing the figure is 45%.

Some councils failed to release information based on nationality but on average at least 11% of social housing lets in London are given to foreign nationals.

Mr Field, a former Social Security Secretary, demanded that the Government should also carry out an inquiry into ‘who gets the available social housing and when’.

In 2010-11, 8.6% of all new social housing tenants were foreign nationals, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) figures showed.

Ministers have tried to stop far right parties from exploiting concerns about the impact immigration has had on housing.

They have pointed to a study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) which in 2009 said migrants arriving in the UK over the previous five years made up less than 2% of the total of those in social housing.

But MigrationWatch said boroughs with large immigrant populations had been the least cooperative in providing information on who was being allocated social housing.

Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migration Watch said, ‘The present situation is a scandal. The records are in chaos. British people who have lived in the area for many years are given little or no priority.’

‘What is clear is that the proportion of new lets going to foreign nationals in London is far higher than has previously been admitted.’

He added that only British citizens — including those who were foreign born but had taken up citizenship — should be considered for social housing.

He added: ‘Foreign nationals would still get housing allowance but not social housing; there is no reason why they should be entitled to subsidised housing provided by British taxpayers while British citizens spend years in the queue.’

David Cameron recently unveiled plans to expand the ‘right to buy’ scheme for council tenants.

The flagship policy of Margaret Thatcher helped millions of poor families realise their dreams of owning their own home.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


California and the Subversive Teaching Radicals

If the red shoe fits… The masks are dropping altogether in the Universities and the schools that teach our future, our children. Zombie last week attended a lecture: “Teaching as a Subversive Activity — Revisited.” The title is self-explanatory unfortunately. You should read Zombie’s entire post — it is enlightening and terrifying to say the least.

The normalcy of radicalism, as Zombie puts it, is the order of the day in universities across America, not just California. California is just very blatant about it. They have basically become a communist state and hope to swing the nation that way as well.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: And After Double Maths it Will Be… Paganism: Schools Told to Put Witchcraft and Druids on Re Syllabus

Paganism has been included in an official school religious education syllabus for the first time.

Cornwall Council has told its schools that pagan beliefs, which include witchcraft, druidism and the worship of ancient gods such as Thor, should be taught alongside Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

The requirements are spelled out in an agreed syllabus drawn up by Cornwall’s RE advisory group.

It says that from the age of five, children should begin learning about standing stones, such as Stonehenge. At the age of 11, pupils can begin exploring ‘modern paganism and its importance for many in Cornwall’.

The syllabus adds that areas of study should include ‘the importance of pre-Christian sites for modern pagans’.

And an accompanying guide says that pupils should ‘understand the basic beliefs’ of paganism and suggests children could discuss the difficulties a practising pagan pupil might face in school.

But the council’s initiative has dismayed some Christian campaigners, who are alarmed that a religion once regarded as a fringe eccentricity is increasingly gaining official recognition.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



US Children Born Out of Wedlock on the Rise

(AGI) Atlanta — During the last decade 1 in 4 children was born out of wedlock, the Centers for Disease Control report. With previous US government reports pointing to 40pc of children born of unmarried mothers, the report clarifies that the figure signals an increase in children born with unmarried couples.

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



Video: Cultural Marxism: Understanding the Origins of Political Correctness

In light of some of our posts this morning that deal with this nasty American infection called political correctness, it’s worthwhile to understand the roots of political correctness and its purpose is in America. To do that I have two videos for you, the first being a more full explanation of the origins of political correctness, how it came to be and why, its implementation and how it came to America. I know it sounds dry, but it really isn’t. In fact it is very enlightening.

The second video is Bill Whittle on the very same topic, tying it into present day narratives driven by the MSM. Whittle sums up what you get in the first video as well, but I highly recommend watching both videos to get a more full understanding of it.

It opens up a whole new world of understanding as to why our culture is all out of whack.

Comment by aPLWBinAK:

A student at Texas A&M won a competition seeking the most appropiate definition of a contemporary term with this submission: “Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

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