News Feed 20121110

Financial Crisis
» Italy: ‘Over-Educated’ Italians Winding Up in Low-Qualified Jobs
» It’s the Interest, Stupid! Why Bankers Rule the World
» Spain to End Mortgage Evictions After Suicides
 
USA
» Allen West Prevails in Palm Beach County
» Allen West Seeks Recount Amid Growing Vote Count Scandal
» America Goes Into the Darkness
» An Inside Look Behind Romney’s Loss: An Epic Failure of Its ORCA Big-Data App
» Breaking: St. Lucie County, Florida Had 141.1% Turnout; Obama Won County
» Drowning in Regulations
» F.B.I. Said to Have Stumbled Into News of Petraeus Affair
» FDA Doesn’t Even Test the Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods
» New Varieties of Genetically Modified Tomatoes Coming Soon to a Grocery Near You
» Obama Won County in Ohio With 108% Voter Registration
» Oliver Stone: ‘I Find Obama Scary’
» Petraeus’ Resignation Will Stop Him From Testifying About Benghazi
» Pressure on Electoral College to Grow After Election Day
» Sandy Refugees Complain of Prison-Like Conditions at FEMA Tent Camp
» The Unmitigated Disaster Known as Project ORCA
» Time to Realize What You Voted for. Update: Instalanche!
» Urgent: Election Fraud Volunteers Needed in WI, OH, PA, VA, FL
» US Communist Party Leader: Obama Victory “Dawn of a New Era”
» Video: “Could We Fix an Election — Sure. They Would Never Know it”
» Voter Fraud! 129% of Registered Boston Vote on Election Day?
 
Europe and the EU
» Council of Europe Welcomes Italian Anti-Corruption Law
» Fake Blind Man Nabbed in Calabria
» Gap Widens Between Italy’s Rising Left, Sagging Right
» Ireland: The Frustration of Dissident Priests
» Italy: Teaching National Anthem in School Becomes Italian Law
» Italy: IdV High-Rankers Leave Di Pietro Amid Corruption Whispers
» Italy: Basilicata Deputy Governor Quits Over Mafia Probe
» Italy: Pesaro Ship Builders Accused of Tax Fraud
» Italy: ‘Ruby’ Sex Procurement Trial Continues in Milan
» Italy: Formigoni Calls Lega Nord a “Spinster”, Outcry on Web
» Millions of GMO Mosquitoes Released Without Risk Assessment or Oversight
» UK: Bank Fraud Could Soon be Your Fault: New Rules Demand More Care With Cards and Pins
» UK: EDL and We Are Norwich Protests: Four Arrested at Demonstrations
» UK: George Entwistle Resigns as Director General of BBC
» UK: Nine Men Appear in Court Accused of Sexually Exploiting Underage Girl in Rochdale
 
Middle East
» A Christian to Head the Islamists of the Syrian National Council
» Miramar Fighter Jets Deployed in Secret to Mideast
» Qatar, UAE Request $7.6 Billion in Missile Defense: U.S.
» Turkey’s Defense Contractors Boost Exports
» UK ‘May Arm’ Syrian Rebels
 
Russia
» Moscow Congratulates Obama: Relieved at Not Having to Deal With Romney
» Moscow Expects President Obama to be “More Flexible” On Missile Defense Shield
 
South Asia
» India: Herd of 50 Drunken Elephants Ransack Village After Gulping Down 500 Litres of Alcohol in Shop
 
Culture Wars
» Greece: Groups Warn of Spike in Homophobic Attacks
» Now Brussels Takes Aim at the Famous Five! Books Portraying ‘Traditional’ Families Could be Barred
» The Liberal Media Are More Powerful Than Ever

Financial Crisis

Italy: ‘Over-Educated’ Italians Winding Up in Low-Qualified Jobs

College grads resorting to openings with ‘little or no training’

(ANSA) — Rome, November 9 — A high number of Italian graduates tend to wind up in jobs that require no training or have nothing to do with their field of study, the Bank of Italy said Friday. In a report from the Italian central bank, 25% of college grads working between 2009 and 2011 were in a field that required “little or no qualifications”. In Germany, the number is 18%. It also found that 32.3% were working in fields that were completely different from their college majors. The data stands out in contrast to remarks last month by Labor Minister Elsa Fornero, who told young Italians looking for work “not to be too ‘choosy’,” using the English word. In the same three-year period, the employment rate for graduates aged 25 to 34 was 75.1%. Graduates in the industrial north had an 84.7% employment rate, while the rate was 58.6% in the south. Nearly a quarter of those graduates had a job with little or no qualifications. Engineering and architecture students were the most likely to find work in their sector, while those who studied humanities and the social sciences were the least likely.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

It’s the Interest, Stupid! Why Bankers Rule the World

Interest charges are a strongly regressive tax that the poor pay to the rich. A public banking system could realize savings up to 40 percent — allowing taxes to be cut, services increased and market stability created — with banks feeding the economy rather than feeding off it.

In the 2012 edition of Occupy Money released last week, Professor Margrit Kennedy writes that a stunning 35 percent to 40 percent of everything we buy goes to interest. This interest goes to bankers, financiers, and bondholders, who take a 35 percent to 40 percent cut of our GDP. That helps explain how wealth is systematically transferred from Main Street to Wall Street. The rich get progressively richer at the expense of the poor, not just because of “Wall Street greed,” but because of the inexorable mathematics of our private banking system.

This hidden tribute to the banks will come as a surprise to most people, who think that if they pay their credit card bills on time and don’t take out loans, they aren’t paying interest. This, says Dr. Kennedy, is not true.

Tradesmen, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers all along the chain of production rely on credit to pay their bills. They must pay for labor and materials before they have a product to sell, and before the end-buyer pays for the product 90 days later. Each supplier in the chain adds interest to its production costs, which are passed on to the ultimate consumer. Dr. Kennedy cites interest charges ranging from 12 percent for garbage collection, to 38 percent for drinking water, to 77 percent for rent in public housing in her native Germany.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Spain to End Mortgage Evictions After Suicides

Spanish politicians have pledged bipartisan steps to halt evictions after a woman mortgagor’s suicide caused widespread anguish. Previously, a newsstand owner in Granada hung himself in anticipation of losing his home.

Mortgage lender Kutxabank announced that it would suspend repossessions after Amaia Egana, a 53-year-old former Socialist councilor, jumped from her fourth-story window in the Basque Country as officials ascended the stairs to evict her on Friday.

Egana’s death, the second eviction-related suicide in Spain in recent weeks, added urgency to an agreement reached Wednesday between the ruling conservative People’s Party and the Socialists to seek a bipartisan deal over repossessions.

“No one should be without a home for not being able to pay,” Socialist leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said.

“We are living through things that no one likes to see, situations that are completely inhumane,” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said hours after Egana’s death. “I hope that on Monday we’ll be able to talk about a temporary suspension of evictions for the most vulnerable families.”

Spain has seen nearly 400,000 evictions since its property bubble burst in 2008. Unemployment reached 25 percent in the third quarter of this year, a record high, and the European Commission expects the economy to contract 1.4 percent the next two years as Spain remains mired in its second recession since the end of 2009.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

USA

Allen West Prevails in Palm Beach County

Amazing what happens when you count ALL the votes.

A long day and night of waiting and volunteering has paid off for Allen West supporters in Palm Beach County early this morning when he was declared the winner in that county by a margin of 195 votes, giving him a 49.93% edge over challenger Patrick Murphy. With this news, the focus is now centered on the recount to be conducted on Wednesday in St. Lucie County.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Allen West Seeks Recount Amid Growing Vote Count Scandal

The race for Florida’s 18th Congressional district has taken an ugly turn, with charges of incompetence, illegal activity and possible fraud on the part of local election officials. Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy has declared victory with an apparent 160,328 votes to West’s 157,872. However, serious questions arose immediately about the integrity of the vote count, especially in St. Lucie County. On election night incumbent Republican Allen West had maintained a district-wide lead of nearly 2000 votes until the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections inexplicably “recounted” thousands of early ballots, resulting in 4,400 vote shift to the challenger. Observers on the scene say the process is biased and the election results are fatally compromised. Mr. West is asking a court to impound the ballots and order a recount.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

America Goes Into the Darkness

by Melanie Phillips

The greatest satisfaction today over the re-election of Obama is not being felt in the Democratic Party. It is not being felt among the media, who are no longer objective observers but have turned instead into corrupt partisans who ruthlessly censored the truth about Obama and helped peddle his demonising propaganda about his opponent. It is not being felt among the gloating, drooling decadents of the western left who now scent a great blood-letting of all who dare defy their secular inquisition. No, the greatest satisfaction is surely being felt in Iran. With four more years of Obama in the White House, Iran can now be sure that it will be able to complete its infernal construction of a genocide bomb to use against the Jews and the west. World War Three has now come a lot closer.

[…]

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USA: Muslims plan multifaith Dallas celebration of religious tolerance

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/religion/20121109-muslims-plan-multifaith-dallas-celebration-of-religious-tolerance.ece

Each day during last year’s Ramadan, Aman Ali woke up before sunrise to eat some oatmeal or naan, an Indian flatbread. He got in a rental SUV and drove for upwards of eight hours to a mosque in California, or South Dakota or Louisiana. Ali traveled to 30 mosques in 30 states — all in 30 days. It was a wild, impulsive idea that took off through social media. And through a blog, Ali told stories about the Muslims he met along the way. Ali is one of several prominent Muslims from across the country who will meet in Dallas on Sunday for “Waves of Unity” — an all-day event that brings Muslim and non-Muslims together in an effort to alleviate fear and misunderstanding of Islam.

[…]

[JP note: Not waving, but drowning.]

====

USA: Why American Jews and Muslims backed Obama by huge margins

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/why-american-jews-and-muslims-backed-obama-by-huge-margins/2012/11/09/70a671c6-2ac0-11e2-bab2-eda299503684_blog.html

By Marc Schneier and Shamsi Ali

In addition to having similar dietary laws, customs and rituals, we found out on Nov. 6 that American Jews and American Muslims have another thing in common; each community gave 70 percent or more of its vote during Tuesday’s presidential election to President Obama. According to two national exit polls, about 70 percent of American Jews supported President Obama over Republican candidate Mitt Romney. A poll conducted in the Muslim community in late October showed that 68 percent of American Muslims backed Obama.

[…]

Rabbi Marc Schneier, who is president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, delivered a benediction at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Imam Shamsi Ali, a prominent Muslim scholar, is imam of the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens. Schneier and Ali have coauthored a forthcoming book, “Sons of Abraham,” about their friendship and Muslim-Jewish coexistence.

====

Canada: Blood drive organized at Scarborough mosque

http://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/1314788-blood-drive-organized-at-scarborough-mosque/

A blood donation drive organized by a Muslim youth group attracted 66 people to a Scarborough mosque recently. Organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, the drive succeeded in collecting 53 units of blood, nearly 24 litres for Canadian Blood Services. Representatives of Canadian Blood Services were at the clinic to collect blood and provide literature on the importance of donating blood. Co-organizer Usman Javed said he was pleased the blood drive, which took place on Nov. 4 at the Bait ul Afiyat mosque located at 255 Old Kingston Rd., attracted participation from all members of the community. “Where some are afraid of donating blood others are very passionate and it is hopeful to see that many people consider the donation of blood as an act of charity and are willing to contribute,” said Javed.

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Canada: ‘Our teachings embrace and celebrate Canadian values’: Toronto Mosque condemns criticism of Islamic school

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/11/09/east-end-madrassah-mosque/

Police have met with those responsible for a Toronto Islamic school and advised them to make their teaching materials more reflective of Canadian values, an officer said on Friday.

The unusual meeting marked the end of a six-month investigation by the York Regional Police hate crimes unit that did not result in criminal charges but nonetheless identified concerns about the East End Madrassah. A police report outlining the results of the investigation said a review of the madrassah’s syllabus books found portions that originated in Iran, “challenged some of Canada’s core values” and “suggested intolerance.”

[….]

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Finland Jews advised to avoid wearing a kippah

http://www.thejc.com/news/world-news/90166/finland-jews-advised-avoid-wearing-a-kippah

The Jewish community in Finland has been advised to avoid wearing kippot in public for fear of antisemitic attacks. A security officer said members of the Helsinki community should not wear a kippah in public due to the rise of antisemitic attacks in the area, in an interview with the national broadcasting company, Yle. The Jewish security force records six to 10 antisemitic attacks per month. Yaron Nadbornik, president of Helsinki’s Jewish community, challenged the officer’s suggestion and said: “The situation for Jews in Finland is vastly better than in other Nordic countries “. He told Ynet News: “I personally walk to synagogue with a kippah regularly and have not felt or heard any kind of harassment”.

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UK: Cancer awareness in mosque

http://www.itv.com/news/central/update/2012-11-09/cancer-awareness-in-mosque/

Worshippers at a mosque in Derby were offered advice as part of a cancer awareness event today. Macmillian Cancer Support’s Big Green Bus parked up outside the city’s Jamai Mosque to coincide with Friday prayers. The charity also held a question and answer session inside. It is part of a drive by the NHS and the City Council to increase awareness of the disease among ethnic groups.

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UK: Justin Welby is the Alpha male to save the Church of England

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9667071/Justin-Welby-is-the-Alpha-male-tosave-the-Church-of-England.html

by Charles Moore

The evangelical Justin Welby can provide the tough love that has been so sadly lacking

Like virtually everyone in British public life, since the destruction of the grammar schools froze social mobility, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is an Old Etonian. If people have an image of Etonians, it is usually a worldly one — the easy, well-mannered gentleman, or the smug, arrogant *******, according to taste. Etonians are not often thought of as holy.

[….]

As I say, evangelicals of Dr Welby’s kind are not narrow or bigoted. But I do have one fear about them. Historically, at least, they have not been very interested in the idea of the Church. They have seen it as an organisational vehicle, rather than an institution with its own subtle character. No institution is more subtle, not to say downright odd, than the Church of England. I do hope Dr Welby sees this. I hope he understands how much its future lies in its past — its parish structure, its architecture, its links with all the English, regardless of faith, and with Parliament and Crown, and, above all, its incomparable liturgy. It is like a chaotic old publishing house, now producing substandard material, but with the best backlist in the world. It will not respond to managerialist logic. It needs tough love.

====

UK: The complexity of the war on free speech

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/douglas-murray/2012/11/the-complexity-of-the-war-on-free-speech/

by Douglas Murray

Free speech in Britain is being pulled in two completely opposite directions. On the one hand, thanks to the increasingly tortuous mission-creep that is the Leveson Inquiry, there are a range of demands for greater regulation of the print press. Today’s rather surprising letter to the Guardian by various Conservative MPs is an example of some thinking on this.

[…]

[Reader comment by eddie on 10 November 2012 at about 10 am.]

We certainly need more freedom of speech, not less, and we need to get our priorities right. If someone ‘tweets’ or puts on Facebook a comment that the pc gestapo see as ‘racist’, a hundred police descend on that individual and he goes to prison. Worse, if someone dares to criticise someone’s beliefs — for example Islam — then the police and authorities (acting on behalf of extremist Muslims in the name of ‘equality and diversity’) will arrest you, especially if you pretend to burn an old book that recommends paedophilia and slavery (The Koran)!!! […]

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UK: Will the community go on riding the bus with Denis?

http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/89978/will-community-go-riding-bus-denis

by Martin Bright

Denis MacShane was a politician of passionately held convictions whose career ended in the most humiliating fashion. The Commons Standards and Privileges Committee found that his abuse of the expenses system was the “gravest case” called to its attention. Most painful of all, for this veteran campaigner against fascism and antisemitism, was the fact that his original accusers were the British National Party.

[…]

[JP note: The useful idiot’s Left.]

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Egypt: Al-Hakim Mosque: Monument to madness

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/32/138/57485/Folk/Photo-Heritage/AlHakim-Mosque-monument-to-madness.aspx

by Nabil Shawkat

The architecture of Al-Hakim Mosque in Fatimid Cairo is testament to the unstable mind of the caliph for whom it was built

When you visit A-Hakim Mosque at the northernmost spot of Fatimid Cairo, look for signs of madness. Look hard, for true madness has a tendency to conceal itself from viewers, even madness that is set in stone. At the western wall of the mosque, you will find two minarets with solid, albeit oversized, bases. This is where you should look for evidence of a deranged mind. What looks to you as part of the minaret is not. It is a totally fake casing, an architectural second thought that belies the bi-polar personality of the 10th/11th century ruler.

Al-Hakim has been likened to every whimsical tyrant in history, to Henry VIII or Nero, or Mussolini. Except that there was no method to his madness. He called himself god, or at least allowed some followers to call him so. He confiscated women’s shoes to keep them at home. And he banned molokhia, a harmless green soup that was and is popular in this country.

He should have been buried in this mosque, but his body was never found. After he was killed, at 36, someone resembling him appeared and tried to claim the throne, but his quest failed. People who interviewed him must have been able to tell the difference. His face may have resembled that of Al-Hakim, but no mind could imitate that of the slain caliph.

Now look again at the minaret. The squat part that looked like the first tier is not part of the minaret. It is an encasing that Al-Hakim built in 1010 to conceal the earlier, heavily decorative, minaret inside it, which was built less than 10 years earlier.

Al-Hakim was a complex, treacherous personality, who was also capable of great charity and grand gestures. At one point, he shunned embroidered clothes and dressed in paupers’ wool. He started great learning schools and then shut them down. He ordered people to close their shops in the morning and only to work at night, then inspected the streets to make sure that they were pleased with the new arrangement. The mosque was started in 990 by Al-Hakim’s father, Al-Aziz, who died when Al-Hakim was only 11. It was just outside the northern wall of Cairo, but in the late 11th century, a new wall was built further north, bringing the mosque back into the city.

The terror of Al-Hakim was so prevalent in the last years of his life that any action on his part was interpreted as an omen of hardships to come. There was once a storehouse close to the mosque that one day Al-Hakim ordered filled with firewood. The entire neighbourhood began felt uneasy about it, as rumour went around that Al-Hakim planned to burn the whole district. So convincing was the rumour that throngs of supplicants went to the walls of his palace and begged for mercy. They didn’t leave until he promised them, in writing, that no harm would come their way. Harm was soon to come his way. While heading to his retreat on the Moqattam hills in 1021, unknown assailants killed him. His body was never found, but bloodied pieces of clothing were later retrieved from the scene.

Most historians agree that the killing was a palace coup, perhaps masterminded by Al-Hakim’s older sister, Sitt Al-Mulk, who had just had enough of his shenanigans. The mosque has been renovated drastically, and some say carelessly, since the first photos of it were taken in the 1920s. The buildings you see in the courtyard were briefly used to store Islamic art pieces collected or excavated from nearby areas.

For further reading we recommend: The Minarets of Cairo by Doris Behrens-Abouseif

[JP note: Unconvincing.]

====

Israel and the Palestinians: We all need to help Israel shift

http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/columnists/90024/we-all-need-help-israel-shift

by Jonathan Freedland

You wait years for big elections that will shape the world, or at least shape a part of the world you care about, and then three come at once. This week, has seen a US presidential contest and a change at the top in China (admittedly without a single democratic vote cast). And the third? That’s coming in Israel in January.

[…]

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UAE home to 8th largest mosque in the world

http://gulfnews.com/pictures/news/uae-home-to-8th-largest-mosque-in-the-world-1.1102257

The United Arab Emirates is home to some of the most beautiful and extravagant mosques in the world. The UAE leadership has taken special interest in building and keeping these mosques and they have now become landmarks. In total, the UAE has around 4,818 mosques out of which 1,418 mosques are located in Dubai, 2,289 in Abu Dhabi and 600 in Sharjah. The Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque is considered to be one of the most important mosque in the UAE as it is the final resting place of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The Shaikh Zayed grand mosque is also the largest mosque in the UAE and the 8th largest mosque in the world.

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Pakistan: MNA, 11 others hurt in Dera Bugti mosque blast

http://paktribune.com/news/MNA-11-others-hurt-in-Dera-Bugti-mosque-blast-254806.html

QUETTA: Pakistan Muslim League-Q MNA Ahmadan Bugti, his son and ten others sustained injuries in a remote-controlled blast in Dera Bugti on Friday. The police sources said that Bugti and his son were entering the Masjid-e-Taqwa for Friday prayers when a remote-controlled bomb exploded, injuring the MNA and 11 others, including his son. Police and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel rushed to the blast site soon after the incident and cordoned off the area to preserve evidence. The injured were taken to the Civil Hospital and FC Hospital for treatment, sources said.

“The bomb was planted somewhere inside the mosque and the MNA was the prime targeted,” police said, adding that it was remote-controlled explosion. The injured were identified as MNA Ahmadan Bugti, his son Shoukat Khan Bugti, Arif, Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Khan, Abdul Jabar, Masho Khan, Muhammad Farooq, Muhamamd Jan, Khuda Baksh, Mir Baig and Abdul Wahab. “Ahmadan Bugti and his son Shoukat Khan Bugti are in a critical condition,” sources said, adding that they were referred to Multan for better and specialised treatment. Meanwhile, citing officials, AFP said the bomb was planted in Bugti’s shoe and exploded as he put them on outside the mosque after prayers. Provincial Home Secretary Akbar Durrani told AFP someone planted an explosive device in one of them which detonated as he put the shoe back on. Meanwhile, a Hazara man was shot dead in a sectarian targeted killing in Quetta on Friday.

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Australia: Anti-mosque group’s existential court crisis

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/antimosque-groups-existential-court-crisis-20121109-292qu.html

What’s in a name? For the group calling itself the Concerned Citizens of Canberra, potentially quite a bit. The vocal objectors to the proposed Gungahlin mosque are facing an existential crisis in the ACT Supreme Court. The group took legal action against the project in August this year, initially challenging the government’s refusal to extend a public comment period.

[…]

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Australia scraps plan to ‘filter’ internet

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/9665983/Australia-scraps-plan-to-filter-internet.html

Australia on Friday scrapped a controversial plan to filter the internet, saying it will instead block hundreds of websites identified by Interpol as among the worst child abuse sites.

The centre-left Labour government had pushed since 2007 for a mandatory Internet filter to protect children, to be administered by service providers, despite criticism it was impractical and set a precedent for censorship. But Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the government had now reached an agreement with internet providers that they would block “the worst of the worst” child abuse material that is available on the web to the public. “Blocking the Interpol ‘worst of’ list meets community expectations and fulfils the government’s commitment to preventing Australian internet users from accessing child abuse material online,” Conroy said in a statement. “Given this successful outcome, the government has no need to proceed with mandatory filtering legislation.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

An Inside Look Behind Romney’s Loss: An Epic Failure of Its ORCA Big-Data App

Many things went wrong with Romney’s campaign for president, but one of the biggest was the epic failure of the campaign’s big-data app for getting out the vote, called Orca. When the campaign needed it most, Orca was beached.

Politico has an excellent summary of the problems it says that Orca had. Among them were that the Romney campaign kept it secret and didn’t beta-test it before it was rolled out on Election Day. That meant that the people who it was designed for — the thousands of volunteers across the country — didn’t have a chance to learn how to use it before it was launched. And Orca kept crashing throughout the day.

The system was designed to identify likely Romney voters who had not yet voted on Election Day, and then get them to vote. But it continually crashed and people didn’t know how to use it. Here’s what Politico has to say about the consequences:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Breaking: St. Lucie County, Florida Had 141.1% Turnout; Obama Won County

Out of 175,554 registered voters, 247,713 vote cards were cast in St. Lucie County, Florida on Tuesday. Barack Obama won the county.

When faced with the astronomical figures, Gertrude Walker, Supervisor of Elections for St. Lucie County, said she had no idea why turnout was so incredibly high. She was flabbergasted, saying, “We’ve never seen that here.”

“Never seen that here” Coincidentally (or not), St. Lucie County is also in Allen West’s district, where 6,000 votes mysteriously “shifted” from Mr. West to his challenger. 141.1% Out of the 247,713 cards cast, somehow election machines counted 123,591 total votes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Drowning in Regulations

It’s Friday morning, and so far today, the Obama administration has posted 165 new regulations and notifications on its reguations.gov website.

In the past 90 days, it has posted 6,125 regulations and notices — an average of 68 a day.

The website allows visitors to find and comment on proposed regulations and related documents published by the U.S. federal government. “Help improve Federal regulations by submitting your comments,” the website says.

The thousands of entries run the gamut from meeting notifications to fee schedules to actual rules and proposed rule changes.

In recent days, for example, the EPA posted a proposed rule involving volatile organic compound emissions from architectural coatings: “We are approving a local rule that regulates these emission sources under the Clean Air Act (CAA or the Act),” the proposed rule states. “We are taking comments on this proposal and plan to follow with a final action.”

Another proposed rule will provide guidance for FDA staff on “enforcement criteria for canned ackee, frozen ackee, and other ackee products that contain hypoglycin A.” (Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica; unripened or inedible portions can be toxic.)

Some of the proposed regulations revise regulations already on the books.

The website also links to a video of a speech President Barack Obama gave at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 7, 2011, in which the president promised to remove “outdated and unnecessary regulations.”

“I’ve ordered a government-wide review, and if there are rules on the books that are needlessly stifling job creation and economic growth, we will fix them,” the president said.

           — Hat tip: Andrea Shea King [Return to headlines]

F.B.I. Said to Have Stumbled Into News of Petraeus Affair

The F.B.I. investigation that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as C.I.A. director began with a complaint several months ago about “harassing” e-mails sent by Paula Broadwell, Mr. Petraeus’s biographer, to an unidentified third person, a government official briefed on the case said Saturday.

When F.B.I. agents following up on the complaint began to examine Ms. Broadwell’s e-mails, they discovered exchanges between her and Mr. Petraeus that revealed that they were having an affair, said the official, who spoke of the investigation on the condition of anonymity.

The person who complained about harassing messages from Ms. Broadwell, according to the official, was not a family member or a government official. One Congressional official who was briefed on the matter said senior intelligence officials had explained that the F.B.I. investigation “started with two women.”

[Return to headlines]

FDA Doesn’t Even Test the Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods

GMO Food Producers “Voluntarily Consult”, But There Is NO Real Safety Testing

Many people assume that the Food and Drug Administration tests genetically engineered foods for safety.

But as USA Today reports:

Q: Does the FDA test these foods before they’re allowed on the market?

A: No. Instead there is a voluntary consultation process. Genetically engineered foods are overseen by the FDA, but there is no approval process. Foods are presumed to be safe unless the FDA has evidence to the contrary, Jaffe says. The FDA “has to show that there may be a problem with the food, as opposed to the company needing to prove it’s safe to FDA’s satisfaction before it can get on the market,” he says.

Given that genetically engineered foods have been linked to obesity, cancer, liver failure, infertility and all sorts of other diseases (brief videos here and here), the burden should be on the Monsanto and the other gmo producers to prove it’s safe.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

New Varieties of Genetically Modified Tomatoes Coming Soon to a Grocery Near You

The tomato was one of the first commercially available genetically modified (GM) crops. In 1994, GM tomatoes hit the market in the US but have since disappeared. They’re about to make a come back at a grocery near you.

Earlier forms of this GM crop included the transgenic tomato (FlavrSavr) which had a “deactivated” gene. This meant that the tomato plant was no longer able to produce polygalacturonase, an enzyme involved in fruit softening. The premise was that tomatoes could be left to ripen on the vine and still have a long shelf life, thus allowing them to develop their full flavour. Normally, tomatoes are picked well before they are ripe and are then ripened artificially.

These GM tomatoes, however, did not meet their expectations. Although they were approved in the US and several other countries, tomatoes with delayed ripening have disappeared from the market after peaking in 1998.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Won County in Ohio With 108% Voter Registration

I can’t believe President Obama’s luck. First, he received over 99% of the vote in districts where GOP inspectors were illegally removed. Next, he won 100% of the vote in 21 districts in Cleveland. Well, he’s gotten another lucky break!

Mr. Obama won Wood County in Ohio this year. That’s right, Mr. Obama won the majority of Wood County’s 108% of registered voters. That’s not a typo.

In 2012, 106,258 people in Wood County are registered to vote out of an eligible 98,213. But it certainly must all be a coincidence, right?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Oliver Stone: ‘I Find Obama Scary’

Each presidential cycle gets shrouded in the ultimate question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

In Oliver Stone’s new book — “The Untold History of the United States” — the filmmaker, along with historian Peter Kuznick, argues that, “The country Obama inherited was indeed in shambles, but Obama took a bad situation and, in certain ways, made it worse.”

Much of Stone and Kuznick’s book focuses on the threats posed by government secrecy and militarism throughout history and, in an interview with POLITICO Friday, Stone said that things aren’t getting better.

“It’s scarier,” said Stone. “I grew up under Eisenhower … and it’s gotten scarier because of the Bush and Reagan people and now I find Obama scary in a way that I had not done in 2008.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Petraeus’ Resignation Will Stop Him From Testifying About Benghazi

Former CIA Director David Petraeus’ resignation today, following his confession of an extramarital affair, seemed to come out of nowhere, and has raised a plethora of questions that will need to be answered in the coming days.

It’s worth asking: was this in any way connected to the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi?

Ben Shapiro at Breitbart seems to think so, calling the scandal the “latest in a string of groundshaking events demonstrating that the Obama administration hid information vital to the American people.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pressure on Electoral College to Grow After Election Day

Voters go to the polls Tuesday, but the Electoral College doesn’t cast its presidential votes until Dec. 18. That leaves more than a month for activists to target the 538 members of the group and convince them to vote for their preferred candidate, writes Roll Call’s Janie Lorber.

“There is going to be lobbying no matter what happens,” said Robert Alexander, an Electoral College expert at Ohio Northern University who surveyed electors from 2000, 2004 and 2008. “The question is who is going to be lobbying and why.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sandy Refugees Complain of Prison-Like Conditions at FEMA Tent Camp

Residents of New Jersey, whose homes were ravaged by superstorm Sandy and are now having to endure yet another wintery storm, are revealing through first-hand accounts that at least one tent camp FEMA is providing more strongly resembles a prison.

[…]

As no media is allowed beyond the fences of the camp, what little news has managed to escape the area is disturbing. Angered residents are revealing that they are intentionally being kept quiet, being denied electricity to charge their phones and suspect surveillance by roving vehicle patrols.

Sotelo also noted that several members of the camp had tried to contact the media regarding the horrendous living conditions, but were met with opposition: “After everyone started complaining and they found out we were contacting the press, they brought people in. Every time we plugged in an iPhone or something, the cops would come and unplug them.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Unmitigated Disaster Known as Project ORCA

What is Project Orca? Well, this is what they told us:

“Project ORCA is a massive undertaking — the Republican Party’s newest, unprecedented and most technologically advanced plan to win the 2012 presidential election.”

Pretty much everything in that sentence is false. The “massive undertaking” is true, however. It would take a lot of planning, training and coordination to be done successfully (oh, we’ll get to that in a second). This wasn’t really the GOP’s effort, it was Team Romney’s. And perhaps “unprecedented” would fit if we’re discussing failure.

The entire purpose of this project was to digitize the decades-old practice of strike lists. The old way was to sit with your paper and mark off people that have voted and every hour or so, someone from the campaign would come get your list and take it back to local headquarters. Then, they’d begin contacting people that hadn’t voted yet and encourage them to head to the polls. It’s worked for years.

From the very start there were warning signs.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Time to Realize What You Voted for. Update: Instalanche!

Liberal contract attorneys might want to consider what “live with it” means. Under Obamacare, companies with 50 or more full-time employees either have to provide them with government-approved health insurance policies, or pay a per-employee fine. Further, the fine kicks in at the 31st employee, not the 51st, and it starts at $2,000 per year per employee. It goes up later. Companies, therefore, are discouraged from having full-time employees, or at least 50 or more of them. Hello, part-time employment. Think I’m f***ing with you? Think again.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Urgent: Election Fraud Volunteers Needed in WI, OH, PA, VA, FL

Romney seems perfectly content to curl up and “accept defeat” when he should be front and center: “Something is very wrong with the numbers. There are too many instances of problems with machines and I will get a recount in five key states”. I doubt he will, so now it is up to we the people. Not because this is about Romney, but because it’s about once and for all proving election fraud in all its forms decided last Tuesday’s race. It’s about stopping a stinking communist from unlawfully remaining in the White House.

Our fellow citizens in five key states have to force the issue and it has to be done NOW because any challenge to the vote has to be made within a specified number of days and it varies by state. Once the vote is certified, it’s too late. No sporting event, no holiday shopping — NOTHING is more important right now than this fight. If Texas were a disputed state, believe me, even with my plate overflowing, I would be on the front lines. First it starts with the electors and second, stopping Congress from accepting the electoral college vote in January.

Willard has done at least one thing to his credit:

Romney campaign files federal suit to ensure all military ballots count in Wisconsin

No question every effort was made to keep our military from voting because their vote alone would have defeated the impostor, Soetoro: In this shocking video, “United States Navy SEALs reveal that the SEAL community is not voting for President Obama because of his conduct as Commander in Chief”.

That piece of human excrement squatting in the White House allowed four Americans, one our U.S. Ambassador, to be slaughtered over in Benghazi and our active duty military know it.

[…]

WASHINGTON, DC — “Sources confirmed today that hundreds of thousands of military absentee ballots were delivered hours after the deadline for them to be counted, with preliminary counts showing that they would have overturned the vote in several states and brought a victory for Governor Mitt Romney.

Officials say the ballots were delivered late due to problems within the military mail system. Tracking invoices show the ballots sat in a warehouse for a month, then they were accidentally labeled as ammunition and shipped to Afghanistan. At Camp Dwyer, Marine Sergeant John Davis signed for them and was surprised at the contents.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

US Communist Party Leader: Obama Victory “Dawn of a New Era”

Communist Party USA leader Sam Webb, has hailed the election of Party “friend” Barack Obama, as the “dawn of a new era.”

The Party is cock-a-hoop over Obama’s victory, seeing it as both a repudiation of the conservative agenda and an opportunity to move the United States further towards socialism.

From the People’s World:

“After a long and bitterly contested battle, the forces of inclusive democracy came out on top yesterday…”

[…]

Until the Republicans realize that they are in a war for their country, and treat it as such, they will be outmaneuvered by the Communist/Labor/Democrat alliance. The Republicans thought they had this election in the bag.

It appears they didn’t understand the power of the forces arrayed against them.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Video: “Could We Fix an Election — Sure. They Would Never Know it”

Thank you to all the readers who sent this to me. Apparently from testimony following the 2004 election, this computer programmer makes clear UNDER OATH, of how easily it would be for an organization, be it Democrat or Republican, to “flip” the election outcome via a rather simple code. — a code this programmer himself easily manufactured. This is further confirmed at the 3:10 of the video where the programmer notes how the entire system can be “hacked” to control the final voting outcome.

Tin hat stuff? Perhaps, but given how so many political experts were proven so wrong regarding the 2012 presidential election, and how particularly in the crucial swing states the final vote came out considerably less for Mitt Romney than much of the polling data was indicating, gives pause. Serious pause. See for yourself:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Voter Fraud! 129% of Registered Boston Vote on Election Day?

Something stinks here, and it’s just not Gen. Petraeus and the sudden resignation. There are reports of several places showing more votes cast on election day than actual registered voters. Lets look at Boston, Massachusetts. No one expected that dump of a city, or state to go for Mitt Romney in the election, but the math just doesn’t make much sense. If you have a motivated electorate, you typically get about 65% voter turnout. This year overall votes were way down from 2008 for both the Democrat and Republican. But how does one explain that Boston has 387,142 voters on their roll. Yet, somehow 501,282 ‘cards’ were cast on election day, a 129.48% turnout? Does the chowderhead vote count for like 1 and a half votes now or something? Check out the results yourself.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Council of Europe Welcomes Italian Anti-Corruption Law

Step is ‘important’ says Secretary General Jagland

(ANSA) — Strasbourg, November 9 — The Council of Europe issued a statement on Friday welcoming Italy’s new anti-corruption law that passed October 31, saying that “fighting corruption is a key priority of the Council”.

Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland said in a statement that the step by Italy “is important to uphold Council of Europe values”.

Italy must send a report to the Council by November 30 demonstrating actions taken to support anti-corruption in the country.

The long-awaited Italian law provides for an anti-corruption authority to be set up in the public administration to oversee the provisions and to monitor for such things as nepotism and cronyism within public offices.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Fake Blind Man Nabbed in Calabria

Caught opening doors despite ‘total blindness’

(ANSA) — Reggio Calabria, November 9 — Italian police on Friday nabbed a fake blind man who had allegedly defrauded the Italian State of 145,000 euros since 1986.

The man, 69, from a village in Calabria, was seen opening doors without glasses despite getting benefits for “total blindness”, police said.

They confiscated the money he allegedly embezzled.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Gap Widens Between Italy’s Rising Left, Sagging Right

Polls show Democratic Party at 26%, Berlusconi’s PdL below 15%

(ANSA) — Rome, November 9 — New polls ahead of spring general elections in Italy showed the gap widen between the first place centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) of comic Beppe Grillo, while former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party continued its slide amid a raft of scandals. According to pollster SWG Srl-Trieste, the PD gained 0.6% with 26% of the populace likely to vote in their favor, followed by the M5S at 21%, which lost a point, and the PdL, which slipped 0.3% to 14.7%. The anti-graft Italy of Values (IdV) party held on to 3.3% of voters, down 0.8%, amid widespread speculation that its leader, former Clean Hands magistrate Antonio Di Pietro, misused party funds to build a sizeable property portfolio, which he categorically denies. The accusations, which became national news after an exposee by the respected investigative television program Report, prompted two high-ranking party members to leave the party Thursday, one of whom was Massimo Donadi, who stepped down as IdV House whip on Monday. Berlusconi’s party has also showed signs of fraying since a raft of scandals were exposed this summer, culminating in the October arrest of Franco Fiorito, PdL caucus leader in the Lazio region, for allegedly skimming off millions of euros of public money for personal use. The case caused the PdL’s Renata Polverini to step down as governor. Voters were further disaffected by a guilty verdict two weeks ago against the ex-premier and media mogul for tax fraud at his Mediaset empire. Meanwhile the center-left PD has reaped the benefits, rising in opinion polls across the country while its party leader Pier Luigi Bersani faces off with the upstart mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, in primaries later this month. According to poll numbers Friday, 49% of Italians think Renzi is capable of leading the center left back to the helm of the government, which as of last November has been led by economist and former European commissioner Mario Monti, a technocrat brought in to fix the debt-ridden country’s finances amid an alarming peak in the euro crisis, forcing Berlusconi to resign. For his part, the embattled 76-year-old ex-premier — amid the flagging poll numbers for his party, an appeals case against his four-year tax-fraud conviction and an ongoing trial for allegedly paying for sex with an underage Morroccan prostitute — says he will sit out April elections and act as “a resource” for younger members of his party.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Ireland: The Frustration of Dissident Priests

Bishops have refused the invitation to participate in November’s Assembly

The Irish clergy is not going through its brightest moment. On 30 October came the news of 39 year old Fr. Muredach Tuffy’s death, believed to be suicide. Fr. Tuffy was parish priest of the Diocese of Killala, in County Mayo and director of the Newman Institute of Education where he taught.

Speaking from the BBC’s offices in Enniskillen, Fr. Brian D’Arcy revealed the great mental pressure Irish priests have been subjected to as a result of the sex abuse scandals and the Catholic Church’s official doctrine regarding contraception, homosexuality and obligatory celibacy (“I love the Church but I am not sure the Church would want me as its priest”).

“It is a palpable sense of discomfort that leads to depression and sometimes borders on desperation,” the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) was told. In recent days the ACP has been particularly frustrated by Irish priests’ polite but nevertheless firm refusal of the invitation to attend the next meeting of over 850 priests (of the total 4,500 living on the island), scheduled to take place between 9-10 November at the Regency Hotel in Dublin.

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said that there are canonical bodies to discuss ecclesial issues, presbyterial councils for example. Priests have reiterated that these structures have a purely consultative purpose and are convened by bishops who preside over them and establish the items on the agenda…

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

Italy: Teaching National Anthem in School Becomes Italian Law

‘Mameli’s Hymn’ now mandatory part of school curricula

(ANSA) — Rome, November 8 — Teaching the Italian national anthem in school became law on Thursday when the Senate voted 208 in favor and 14 against with two abstentions.

Many Italians admit to not knowing the lyrics to the anthem, known as Mameli’s Hymn, which had not been compulsory in schools.

Fashion guru Giorgio Armani, designer of the Italian national team track suit for the 2012 Olympic Games, stitched the lyrics into athletes’ jackets to help them remember the words.

The Senate also voted to make March 17, the anniversary of the day in 1871 when Italian unity was declared, the national Day of Unity, the Constitution, the Hymn and the Flag.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: IdV High-Rankers Leave Di Pietro Amid Corruption Whispers

Donadi, Formisano also said to split over Five Star ‘alliance’

(ANSA) — Rome, November 8 — Two high-ranking members of the anti-graft Italy of Values (IdV) party left the party Thursday after falling out with embattled IdV leader Antonio Di Pietro. Former House whip Massimo Donadi and Senator Nello Formisano left the party amid corruption accusations against Di Pietro, which became national news after investigative program Report last week explored allegations into the possible misuse of party funds to build a large property portfolio.

“He has increasingly betrayed the identity of the IdV, one of radical reform, which this country needs,” said Donadi, who stepped down as House whip on Monday.

Di Pietro, a former anti-corruption magistrate, founded his party after spearheading the famous Clean Hands investigations into political corruption in the early 1990s, which exposed the Bribesville system, shaking Italian politics to its core.

Claiming to be the victim of an organized smear campaign, Di Pietro faces suggestions of being no better than the crooks he set out to rein in while his party is showing signs of fraying.

He denies any wrongdoing. Donadi and Formisano, who said they would pursue “moderate, center-left” initiatives outside the party, have also split with Di Pietro on what has been perceived as a possible alliance with the anti-establishment Five Stars Movememnt (M5S) of comedian Beppe Grillo, who believes Italy should leave the eurozone, and last week said Di Pietro should succeed Giorgio Napolitano as the next president of Italy. On Thursday Grillo distanced himself, saying that an alliance with any political party would muddy the values of his movement, which “wants to replace the party system with direct democracy”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Basilicata Deputy Governor Quits Over Mafia Probe

Mancusi says ‘always acted with total morality’

(ANSA) — Potenza, November 9 — Basilicata Deputy Governor Agatino Mancusi quit on Friday after being put under investigation by prosecutors in the southern city of Potenza for alleged mafia association.

Mancusi, who was also the infrastructure executive councillor in the regional government, expressed “amazement and profound bitterness” about the probe and said he had “always acted with total morality”.

The politician, who is a member of the centrist UDC party, said he resigned out of “respect for the institutions”.

According to local press reports, the probe revolves around allegations Mancusi made contact with members of organised crime gangs in order to have help in an election campaign several years ago.

Basilicata Governor Vito De Filippo said he was confident his deputy would clear his name.

“Certain that Basilicata will be able to continue to count on his effective contribution, I give Agatino Mancusi my sincere best wishes, confident that he will be able to clarify the unbelievable affair he has been linked to in the shortest possible time,” said De Filippo, a member of the centre-left Democratic Party.

A series of corruption scandals has hit parties on many parts of Italy’s political spectrum in recent months.

Two of these caused regional administrations led by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party to collapse in Lazio and Lombardy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Pesaro Ship Builders Accused of Tax Fraud

‘120 mln euros skimmed off shipyard business

(ANSA) — Pesaro, November 9 — The owners of a shipyard in the Marche port of Pesaro have been accused of fraudulent bankruptcy and tax fraud amounting to 120 million euros.

Police on Friday impounded homes and luxury cars from the Cantiere Navale di Pesaro bosses.

Novara-based parent company Fvh allegedly skimmed off “tens of millions of euros” from the shipyard, including 19 million for building six tankers, police said. The managers declared income in Monte Carlo, police said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Ruby’ Sex Procurement Trial Continues in Milan

Fede in first appearance, court told of ex-premier’s handouts

(ANSA) — Milan, November 9 — A retired TV anchorman and close friend of Silvio Berlusconi made his first appearance in a Milan court on Friday to follow a prostitution procurement trial in which he is indicted together with two others.

Emilio Fede, bankrupt ex-talent scout Lele Mora and ex-Lombardy regional councillor and the ex premier’s former dental hygienist Nicole Minetti must answer to charges of favouring prostitution, including underage prostitution, in connection with alleged sex parties hosted by Berlusconi at his villa at Arcore near Milan.

One of the alleged prostitutes at the centre of the case is Karima ‘Ruby’ El Mahroug, a Moroccan-born belly dancer who was underage at the time.

Fede told journalists that he had “come to the courthouse as a reporter, to see what is going on”, adding that he would not be speaking at the Friday hearing. During the proceedings Elisa Toti, a presenter on Berlusconi’s private television network Mediaset, told the court that she has been receiving 2,500 euros a month from the ex-premier since January 2011. “Berlusconi also helped me by lending me a deposit on a house and he is also helping me to pay the bank guarantee on that house,” she said. Toti also said she had seen Berlusconi handing envelopes of cash to girls at Arcore on some evenings but denied that this was payment for sexual favours.

“It was assistance, he always helped everyone,” she said.

Prosecutors say Berlusconi had sex with 33 prostitutes at his villa over the course of several months and in a separate trial the ex premier stands accused of paying for sex with Ruby after several of the parties and allegedly coercing police into releasing her after an unrelated theft claim to hush up the fact.

Both Berlusconi and Ruby have denied the charges.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Formigoni Calls Lega Nord a “Spinster”, Outcry on Web

(AGI) Milan, Nov. 8- Female supporters of the right-wing Lega Nord party cried out on the web after Roberto Formigoni posted a picture of a frowning woman dressed in green (the party’s color), titled “Lega Nord, don’t be a spinster; the center-right should be united for the Lombardy elections.” Lega Nord’s fan base reacted quickly on Thursday afternoon, beginning with the editor of the party’s “Padania” magazine, Aurora Lussana. “In anticipation of Formigoni finally finding his ‘girlfriend’,” she wrote, alluding to statements by Formigoni himself, “we invite all the spinsters in Lega Nord to post their pictures on Padania’s Facebook page.” Lussana posted a picture of herself smiling and seated on the couch, titled “We’re all spinsters”.

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

Millions of GMO Mosquitoes Released Without Risk Assessment or Oversight

Regulatory decisions on releasing genetically modified (GM) insects biased by corporate interests

Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK said “The public will be shocked to learn that GM insects can be released into the environment without any proper oversight. Conflicts-of-interest should be removed from all decision-making processes to ensure the public have a proper say about these plans.”

London/ Munich Thursday 8th November 2012 A briefing published today by public interest groups highlights how regulatory decisions on GM insects in Europe and around the world are being biased by corporate interests.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Bank Fraud Could Soon be Your Fault: New Rules Demand More Care With Cards and Pins

Banks are trying to dump responsibility for credit and debit card fraud on to customers in a move that could cost families tens of millions of pounds.

They are making changes to small print which will allow them to block compensation to fraud victims from January.

Customers could be liable if they use a PIN that can be easily guessed or the bank decides they have been careless and allowed a criminal to see the number at a cash machine.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: EDL and We Are Norwich Protests: Four Arrested at Demonstrations

Police made four arrests during an English Defence League march and counter-protest in Norwich.

Officers from 11 forces were on duty as about 200 EDL supporters and up to 2,000 members of the We Are Norwich coalition marched through the city.

Police said the day passed off relatively peacefully, although extra officers remained in the city centre into the evening as a precaution.

Both groups said they were they were pleased with the outcome of the day.

The EDL organised its march in protest at Norwich City Council’s decision to ban Pastor Alan Clifford of Norwich Reformed Church for promoting “hate-motivated” anti-Islam leaflets from a council-owned stall on Hay Hill.

We Are Norwich, a coalition of 25 groups, staged a counter-demonstration.

The EDL march began at Castle Gardens, passing through central Norwich to City Hall.

The We Are Norwich march began with a rally at Chapelfield Gardens and also finished at City Hall.

The war memorial was barricaded off and the two opposing groups were kept apart across a “sterile zone” in front of City Hall, but there was some isolated trouble.

Two men were arrested for suspected public order offences.

One man was arrested on suspicion of assault, and another on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon. One person received minor injuries in a scuffle. Both demonstrations dispersed at about 15:00 GMT.

EDL spokesman Geoff Mitchell said: “It’s gone very well, actually. I think everybody was pretty well behaved.

“I thought it was so important that we had to talk about the reason why we’re here: Christianity is under attack.

“What’s happened to the pastor is a total disgrace and I think he should get his stall back.”

Nick O’Brien, secretary of We Are Norwich, said: “We’re delighted with how it’s gone.

“We had two main aims: number one, to make sure the EDL didn’t get to City Hall or get to the war memorial and, because of the sterile area put in place, that didn’t happen.

“Number two, we wanted to make sure we outnumbered them and send a really clear message that the EDL aren’t welcome.”

‘Swift and robust’

Supt Paul Sanford, of Norfolk Police, said: “I am really pleased with the outcome of today’s policing operation.

“At times it was challenging for officers but we successfully met our objectives of allowing the two groups to protest, which was their legal right.

“The event was largely peaceful but we acted swiftly and robustly to any signs of disorder.”

Some stallholders on Norwich Market closed ahead of the demonstrations. Others remained open, including Tony Osborne, who runs Tony’s Food Bar, although he said he closed an hour early.

“Our trade was a good third down on what it would be on a normal Saturday,” he said. “We’re not against people’s beliefs but to have two marches at the same time meeting up very near together was not a good idea.”

           — Hat tip: ICLA [Return to headlines]

UK: George Entwistle Resigns as Director General of BBC

The director general of the BBC has resigned in the wake of a controversial broadcast on child sexual abuse, the BBC announced Saturday night.

The director, George Entwistle, issued a statement saying, “I have decided that the honorable thing to do is to step down.”

[Return to headlines]

UK: Nine Men Appear in Court Accused of Sexually Exploiting Underage Girl in Rochdale

Nine men have made their first appearance in court over the alleged sexual exploitation of a young girl in Rochdale.

The defendants are accused of committing various sexual offences separately against the teenager between 2008 and 2009.

Bury magistrates committed the case to Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court when the case will next be heard on November 30 for a preliminary hearing.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East

A Christian to Head the Islamists of the Syrian National Council

The choice aims to show the diversity of the opposition movement often referred to as sectarian and too close to Islamic radical positions. George Sabra was elected yesterday at the end of the meeting of the Syrian National Council in Doha (Qatar). The dissident has been fighting for decades for democracy in Syria and spent several years in prison. In his first speech he has urged foreign countries to stop the bloodshed arguing in favour of supplying arms to the opposition in the battle against the Assad regime.

Doha (AsiaNews / Agencies) — A Christian will be the new leader of the Syrian National Council (SNC), dominated by Islamists. The election was announced last night at the end of the meeting the major opposition group to the Assad regime this week in Doha (Qatar).

Former communist and opponent of the Syrian regime since the time of Hafez al-Assad, father of Bashar, George Sabra was one of the first founders of the SNC. He has spent several years in the prisons of the regime and has been living in exile in Turkey for months. He said his election as “an example of the pluralism within the opposition”, considered by many to be a “hotbed” of Islamists. In a press conference he called on foreign countries to stop the extermination of the Syrian people, by sending more weapons in support of the opposition. “We need to stop this trail of blood — he said — and support the cause of the Syrian people.”

Wanted by the United States, Europe and the Arab League, the meeting of the Syrian National Council was organized to create a united front of political opposition to the regime, able to make quick decisions and lead the country in case of a fall of the Assad regime. Yesterday, Moreno Ocampo, former prosecutor of the International War Crimes Tribunal, said that NATO is in possession of all the necessary documentation to request the arrest of Syrian president for crimes against humanity. Any action of the international tribunal could speed up the possibility of a direct intervention of the countries of the UN Security Council as was the case in the conflict against Libya’s Gaddafi.

Begun in March 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war has already cost more than 36 thousand dead and nearly a million displaced. There are about 200 thousand refugees who have fled to neighboring countries Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. UN sources report that more than 11 thousand people crossed the Turkish border yesterday. Many of them are regular Syrian army deserters.

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

Miramar Fighter Jets Deployed in Secret to Mideast

Amid mounting concern over Iran’s nuclear program and violence elsewhere in the region, U.S. Central Command quietly dispatched a Marine fighter jet squadron from San Diego to an undisclosed country in the Middle East, U-T San Diego has learned.

The deployment follows threats by the U.S. and Israel of military strikes if needed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Qatar, UAE Request $7.6 Billion in Missile Defense: U.S.

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have asked to buy more than $7.6 billion in U.S. missile defense technology, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

The orders for the Lockheed Martin-made equipment were detailed in documents posted online late Monday by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which said it had notified Congress of the request.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Turkey’s Defense Contractors Boost Exports

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 8 — Turkish defense contractors and aviation companies increased their exports by 52% in the first 10 months of 2012 over the same period a year earlier as the volume reached over USD 1 billion from USD 661 million in 2011. Export items, as Anatolia news agency reports, include spare parts for aircrafts, tanks and helicopters as well as weapons and ammunitions which are sold to many countries around the world. The United States was the top buyer with USD 396 million worth of mainly aircraft and helicopter parts and electronic warfare equipment. Saudi Arabia placed second with USD 84 million and United Arab Emirates ranked the third with USD 76 million. Other buyers of Turkish defense products included Italy, Spain, France and Britain.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK ‘May Arm’ Syrian Rebels

Syrian rebels could be armed by the UK in a fresh push to oust President Bashar Assad and end the bloodshed after David Cameron ordered officials to re-examine all options.

A Downing Street official said the Prime Minister wanted to put previously rejected measures “back on the table” amid frustration at the failure to halt the 20-month conflict.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Russia

Moscow Congratulates Obama: Relieved at Not Having to Deal With Romney

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has congratulated US President Barack Obama on his re-election victory, while expressing relief that Moscow will not have to deal with the Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

“Congratulations!” Medvedev tweeted in English to Barack Obama, who emerged victorious in a tight race against Mitt Romney.

“Obama is an understandable and predictable partner,” Medvedev told reporters on Wednesday. “Obama has been a quite successful president.”

Meanwhile, the Russian premier expressed his relief that Republican candidate Mitt Romney, known for his anti-Russia outbursts on the campaign trail, had lost the election.

“I am glad that the man who calls Russia its No. 1 foe will not be the president of this large and influential state,” Medvedev said. “That is paranoid.”

[Comment: Medvedev really meant “Comrade”, not partner.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Moscow Expects President Obama to be “More Flexible” On Missile Defense Shield

It’s payoff time for Russia.

From The Washington Post:

Russia expects Barack Obama to show more flexibility in a dispute over U.S. missile defense plans in Europe following his re-election as president, a top official said Thursday…

In March, Obama, unaware that he was speaking on an open microphone, told Dmitry Medvedev, then Russia’s president, that he would have more flexibility on the issue after the November election.

[…]

Four more years of Obama “flexibility” and defense cuts, will leave the US military in ruins and unable to defend US allies, or even the US homeland, from Russia, China, Iran and their allies.

At that point US sovereignty, and even physical survival, will be in serious question. Is that the plan?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Herd of 50 Drunken Elephants Ransack Village After Gulping Down 500 Litres of Alcohol in Shop

Fifty drunken elephants caused havoc in an Indian village and destroyed three houses after gulping down an astonishing 500 litres of alcohol.

The animals destroyed a shop stocking Mahua and ruined crops in Dumurkota, east India, after drinking 18 containers of the alcoholic drink.

However they were not satisfied after the drinking session and ransacked adjoining huts to find more of the liquor, according to local reports.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Greece: Groups Warn of Spike in Homophobic Attacks

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, NOVEMBER 8 — A spike in attacks against men and women perceived to be gay by suspected members of ultra-right organizations has prompted the reaction of rights groups, daily Kathimerini reports. “Immigrants and refugees are the new Jews of Greece today, but they are not alone. Gays, members of the Roma community and other groups are included,” said a statement issued by the Network for Recording Incidents of Racist Violence. The network, which last month called for action to combat an increase in attacks on immigrants in Greece, is now monitoring a rising wave of homophobia. In its statement it noted that a homophobic rant by ultra-right Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panayiotaras last month during a protest against the staging of a controversial Passion play in central Athens had not led to any action. Panayiotaros had shouted “Wrap it up you little faggots” at people he apparently perceived to be gay and “Your time is coming.” The statement by the network followed an attack by suspected extreme rightists on Saturday against members of the anti-fascist committee of the central neighborhoods of Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio who rallied against the increase in homophobic attacks. In summer, gay and lesbian groups compiled a leaflet that is still in circulation offering advice to homosexuals to show caution in public, particularly when they are alone and in dark and abandoned streets.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Now Brussels Takes Aim at the Famous Five! Books Portraying ‘Traditional’ Families Could be Barred

Books which portray ‘traditional’ images of mothers caring for their children or fathers going out to work could be barred from schools under proposals from Brussels.

An EU report claims that ‘gender stereotyping’ in schools influences the perception of the way boys and girls should behave and damages women’s career opportunities in the future.

Critics said the proposals for ‘study materials’ to be amended so that men and women are no longer depicted in their traditional roles would mean the withdrawal of children’s classics, such as Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, Paddington Bear or Peter Pan.

The document, prepared by the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, also suggests EU-wide legislation is needed to tackle the way women are depicted in advertising during children’s television programmes.

It further complains about the number of women in EU parliaments, and floats the idea of fixed quotas on a minimum proportion of female MPs.

The report says: ‘Children are confronted with gender stereotypes at a very young age through television series, television advertisements, study materials and educational programmes, influencing their perception of how male and female characters should behave.

‘Special educational programmes and study materials should therefore be introduced in which men and women are no longer used in examples in their ‘traditional roles’, with the male as the breadwinner of the family and the female as the one who takes care of the children.’

The report adds: ‘With reference to media and advertisement, it must also be noted that unsupervised television viewing among children and youngsters starting at a very early age is on the rise.

‘Negative gender stereotypes can therefore have a significant influence on young women’s confidence and self-esteem, particularly on teenagers, resulting in a restriction of their aspirations, choices and possibilities for future career possibilities.’

Calling for EU ‘legislation’ to tackle the problem, the committee recommends: ‘Despite the EU’s commitment to equality between men and women, there is still a gap in legislation providing for non-discrimination against women and gender equality in the areas of social security, education and the media, emphasises the need for new legislation in these areas.’

The document calls on the European Commission to ‘take the issue of gender equality into account in all policy fields.’

Tim Aker, spokesman for Get Britain Out, a Eurosceptic campaign group, warned: ‘If the EU has its way, millions of youngster would be denied the pleasure of reading childhood classics such as Paddington Bear, Peter Pan or the Tiger Who Came to Tea because these books show mums and dads in so-called traditional roles.

‘The Eurozone is crumbling, millions are out of work and a generation of young Europeans face a bleak future. Yet the EU is spending its time concentrating on how to socially engineer our children. This politically correct report should be binned at once.’

June O’Sullivan, chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation, also criticised the draft recommendations. ‘We must not confuse political issues with how we present the world to children. The fact is most women take the caring roles and most men want to go out to work,’ she said.

‘You only need to stand at the school gates to see this. Stereotypes are such because they reflect a majority situation. Children are not easily fooled — they see what they see and no amount of manipulation of images will change their thinking.’

The proposals in the committee’s report are unlikely to win support from Britain. Brussels has been forced to postpone an attempt to set a legal quota for the proportion of women on company boards last month following opposition from the UK and some other member states.

The policy, championed by EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding, would make it mandatory for all publicly traded companies to fill 40 per cent of seats on their boards with women by 2020 or face hefty fines.

But opposition from several countries meant a postponement of in a vote on the issue last month. Miss Reding has vowed that that she ‘will not give up’ on her crusade, however, insisting: ‘Europe has a lot to gain from more diverse corporate boards.’

           — Hat tip: ESW [Return to headlines]

The Liberal Media Are More Powerful Than Ever

Writing before Obama won the election, Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel of the Daily Caller contended that bias, dishonesty, and corruption were helping to undermine and destroy the liberal media. “The broadcast networks, the big daily newspapers, the newsweeklies—they’re done,” they said. “It’s only a matter of time, and everyone who works there knows it.”

Unfortunately, there is no evidence this is the case. Although liberal news outlets are losing viewers and readers, Obama’s victory has invigorated these news organizations and given them a new lease on life. They are more powerful than ever because they correctly predicted the race. They understood the nature of the electorate and how it had shifted in Obama’s favor. What they have achieved is something that the conservative media were striving for—a measure of credibility. It came not through their reporting, of course, but through their emphasis on polls and an understanding of how a progressive infrastructure, financed largely by George Soros, has assumed great importance for the Democratic Party machine.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

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