News Feed 20121122

Financial Crisis
» EU Leaders Strap in for Budget Rollercoaster
» Fitch Deals Another Blow to Japanese Electronics Giants
» Forget Europe and the US, Start Worrying About Japan
» Geithner Unveils His True Agenda: Infinite Debt Means Infinite Economic Enslavement of America
» Italy’s Housing Market Shows Weakness in Third Quarter
» Italy ‘Should Not be Penalized’ In EU Budget Talks
» OECD Praises Italy as Among States Getting Books in Order
» The EU’s Trillion-Euro Argument
 
USA
» BP Hit by Largest Criminal Fine in US History
» Democrat Operative Suspected in Serial Rapes
» Federal Audit Proves TSA is Misleading Public, Covering Up Passenger Complaints
» Pearland Couple Killed in 100-Vehicle Wreck Near Beaumont, Texas
» Should We Pay Government Employees More?
» Supreme Court: A Law Unto Themselves
» Thanksgiving 2012; Reaping a Bitter Harvest?
» The Pilgrims Were Thankful They Abandoned Communism
» They’ve Stolen Our Country
» Times “Expert” Says Scandals Aren’t Scandals
» Too Few Oppressors, Too Many Victims
 
Europe and the EU
» City Hall Staff Face Indictment for Skipping Work in Sicily
» France: Brussels Asks to Apply EU Rules to Channel Tunnel
» Greece Suicide Rate Skyrockets, +37% 2009-2011
» ‘I Lost My Job Because I Wasn’t Muslim’: Kuwaiti Bank Made British Boss Redundant From Six-Figure Salary Job Because of His Religious Beliefs
» ‘Islam is Like Nazism’: Top Sweden Democrat
» Italy: Grillo Launches ‘Not in My Name’ Political Manifesto
» Spain: Catalonia Votes, Economy Dominates End of Campaign
» Sweden Democrats Send Members Anti-Islam Mag
» UK: A Controversial Sticker in Tower Hamlets: Discuss
» UK: Birmingham Mosque and House Roofs Blown Off in Strong Winds
» UK: Children’s Commissioner Defends Child Sex Abuse Report
» UK: Child Sex Grooming: Roger Ellis’ Evidence Contradicted by Former Executive Director
» UK: Damning Report Reveals Failings in NHS Care of Patients ‘Treated Worse Than Animals’
» UK: Huge £800,000 Payout for Hurting Finger at School: Teaching Assistant’s Award After Tripping on a Wheelchair
» UK: Indian Radiographer Who Could Not Speak English Worked at Cancer Hospital for Six Years Before Being Sacked After String of Complaints
» UK: Is the NHS’s Obsession With Doctor-Free Births Putting Babies at Risk?
» UK: I Lost Job for Not Being a Muslim, Claims Banker
» UK: Killed for Just Her Handbag: Blind Widow Attacked by Muggers as She Walked Home From the Shops
» UK: Legal Action Threatened Over Banglatown Ward Scrappage
» UK: Police Arrest 34-Year-Old Man Following Attack on Girl, 16, Who Was Knocked Out Cold by Stranger in the Street
» UK: SAS Sniper Sgt Nightingale ‘Could be Home in Time for Christmas’
» UK: Thug With a ‘Gang-bo’ Banning Him From Social Media Taunts Police on Twitter and Facebook
» UK: The Beast of Tunbridge Wells: Terrified Walker Claims 8ft-Tall Creature With Demonic Red Eyes and Long Arms Roared at Him in Historic Town’s Woods
 
North Africa
» Egypt: Morsi Assumes Sweeping New Powers
» Egypt’s Morsi Takes on Sweeping Powers
» Egypt’s Morsy Gives Himself New Powers, Orders Retrials in Protester Deaths
» Libya: Susan Rice Breaks Her Silence to Defend Herself Over Benghazi
» Morocco’s Hidden Scourge: ‘Servant Girls’ Abused & Underpaid
» Tunisia: Salafites on Hunger Strike, State Under Attack
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» A Moral Distinction in the Gaza Conflict
» Abu Mazen Praises Premier Haniya for His “Victory”
» Israel Hamas Conflict: Ceasefire a Sign of Middle East’s New Political Reality
» Israeli Military: 55 Terror Suspects Arrested in West Bank Overnight
» Switzerland to Support Palestinian Authority in UN Request
» The Israel/Hamas Endgame: An ‘Acceptable’ Number of Missiles
» The Unique Advantage of Female War Reporters in Muslim Countries
» War is the Answer
 
Middle East
» Electronic Tracking: New Constraint for Saudi Women
» Enhanced Iran-Egypt Ties Beneficial to Muslim World: Larijani
» Iran Claims Israel Accepting Ceasefire is Sign of Weakness
» Russia Opposes NATO Missiles in Turkey
» Saudi Arabia: Riyadh: Controls on Women: Husbands Receive SMS if Their Wife Leaves the Country
» Saudi Arabia to Build 17 Nuclear Reactors by 2030
» Turkey Formally Requests Patriot Missiles From NATO
 
South Asia
» 23 Killed, 54 Injured in Pakistan Suicide Blast
» Afghanistan Criticised for Spate of Executions
» Meat Eaters Are “Liars and Sexual Deviants”: Indian School Book Under Attack
» Pakistan: Rawalpindi: Suicide Bomber Strikes Shiite Pilgrims, 23 Dead and 60 Wounded
» Pakistan: Bike Riding, Parking Near Imambargahs, Mosques Banned
» Singapore Muslims to Hold ‘Prayer for Peace in Gaza’
» UN Unveils New Plan to Tackle Unrest in Burma
 
Far East
» Sea Dispute Lingers at ASEAN Summit
 
Immigration
» Immigration Chiefs Accused of Misleading Parliament After ‘Devastating’ Report Exposes UK Border Agency Incompetence and Inefficiency
» Police Stop Italian Woman From Marrying Moroccan Man
 
Culture Wars
» An Angry Black Man
» Madonna ‘Gay Rights’ Battle Gets Under Way in Russia
» UK: Rejoice! The Rejection of Female Bishops is a Wonderful Day for Christendom
 
General
» Mars is Safe From Radiation — But the Trip There Isn’t
» Wistrich: “Antisemitism is a Widening Syndrome”

Financial Crisis

EU Leaders Strap in for Budget Rollercoaster

European Union leaders have gathered in Brussels to discuss the EU’s next seven-year budget. All 27 member states must approve the budget, which has some leaders concerned amid opposition.

Thursday marks the start of the highly anticipated showdown of EU leaders as they try and hammer out a budget for the period between 2014 and 2020.

Some countries, including Germany and Britain, support cuts to the EU budget of at least 100 billion euros ($128 billion).

“Clearly, at a time when we’re making difficult decisions at home over public spending, (…) it is quite wrong for there to be proposals for this increased spending in the EU,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron as he arrived in Brussels Thursday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Fitch Deals Another Blow to Japanese Electronics Giants

Investor confidence in Japan’s electronics industry has decreased further with all major firms in the sector struggling to enhance profitability. Ratings agency Fitch doesn’t believe in their short-term success.

US ratings agency Fitch on Thursday downgraded two major Japanese consumer electronics companies, dealing another blow to the country’s embattled industry sector.

The agency slapped a speculative rating on both Sony and Panasonic. Fitch cut Panasonic by two notches to BB, while downgrading Sony to BB-, lowering it to the same junk status.

“The downgrade reflects Panasonic’s weakened competitiveness in its core businesses, particularly in TVs and panels as well as weak cash generation from operations,” Fitch said in a statement. “It also reflects the agency’s view that the company’s financial profile is not likely to show material improvement in the short to medium term.

Assessing Sony’s performance, Fitch said “a meaningful recovery will be slow, given the firm’s loss of technology leadership in key products and the strong yen.”

Japan’s relatively strong national currency has caused a headache for Japanese electronics firms as it has made their products less competitive overseas and resulted in them losing market shares to rivals from South Korea and Taiwan.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Forget Europe and the US, Start Worrying About Japan

It has long amazed me how little notice we take of Japan’s simply unsustainable budget, dysfunctional politics and appalling demographics.

If you think Greece has debt problems, you should try Japan. Worried about Washington’s fiscal cliff? Check out Tokyo’s. Think American politics are bad? You won’t believe Japan’s.

And our second-biggest trading partner is showing signs that it will take a dangerous turn to the right at the elections that have been called for December 16.

It has long amazed me how little notice we take of Japan’s simply unsustainable budget, dysfunctional politics and appalling demographics while whipping up a frenzy about European debt and the American Tea Party. I suspect it is further proof of how little notice we take of our most important neighbours despite the rhetoric of the Asian century.

The election might well focus a little more attention on the steadily-building disaster.

Japan’s public debt is running at 230 per cent to its gross domestic product, a figure that makes Greece look almost thrifty. According to Bloomberg, Japan’s debt works out at about $93,000 for every man, woman and child while the same figure for the US and Greece is about $33,000. Tokyo budgets to borrow more than it raises in taxes.

About a quarter of Japan’s population is already aged 65-plus and the country has a negative birth rate. With a xenophobic culture, there is virtually no migration, meaning the country is about to start shrinking quiet dramatically. There will be some 25 per cent fewer Japanese by 2050 than there are today — about 30 million fewer people, depending on which estimates you want to use. The dependency ratio — the proportion of working-age people to the those not of working age — has already crashed to just 2.4, which makes raising taxes to pay for an aging nation all the harder.

And now a change of government next month might well make things worse. The present Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, of the Democratic Party, at least managed to increase Japan’s consumption tax this year in an effort to start to rein in the deficit nightmare, but he’s expected to lose power to the Liberal Democratic Party with its recycled and unimpressive leader, Shinzo Abe. Abe says he wants the Bank of Japan to further crank up the printing presses, among other things.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Geithner Unveils His True Agenda: Infinite Debt Means Infinite Economic Enslavement of America

(NaturalNews) Those pesky debt ceilings are just never high enough. Not $10 trillion, nor $14 trillion or even $18 trillion. The problem with debt ceilings is that, in a nation of runaway, criminally insane debt multiplication, debt ceilings keep getting in the way of what the globalist banksters really want: INFINITE debt!

Those are the words of U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who said on Bloomberg TV, “We ought to just eliminate the debt ceiling.”

Infinite debt equals infinite spending.

Infinite debt also equals infinite enslavement, and that’s the point of it all. Every dollar created by the Fed and loaned to the U.S. Treasury is another dollar for which American taxpayers are placed in hock to the global banksters.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy’s Housing Market Shows Weakness in Third Quarter

Home sales drop by almost 26% in parts of the country

(ANSA) — Rome, November 21 — Italy’s real estate market showed signs of collapse, with home sales plunging by almost 26% in the third quarter compared with the same period least year, according to statistics released Wednesday.

This is also the worst home sales report by Italy’s Land Agency since the government department began collecting data in 2004.

It found that between July and September 2012, residential sales fell by 25.8% compared to the same period of 2011.

The contraction continued in non-residential building sales, with a 29.7% drop in the sale of commercial buildings, and 25.9% in the sale of industrial buildings.

Among Italy’s largest cities, Bologna showed the biggest drop, with sales falling by almost 30% in the third quarter; followed by Palermo, which fell by 28.1%; Rome, falling by 27.5%; Milan, decreasing by 27.2%; and Florence, where sales fell by 26.6% compared with the same period one year earlier. Naples was a rare exception, seeing its sales drop by just 0.4%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy ‘Should Not be Penalized’ In EU Budget Talks

We will not accept ‘unacceptable solutions’, says Monti

(ANSA) — Brussels, November 22 — Italian Premier Mario Monti told European Union leaders in Brussels on Thursday that his government would not stand for budget measures that penalized his country disproportionately.

“We will not accept unacceptable solutions,” he said at the summit on the European Commission’s one-trillion-euro seven-year budget plan for the 2014-20 period.

Earlier on Thursday Agriculture Minister Mario Catania said Italy preferred to have no deal at all on the European Union’s budget rather than a bad deal. “We will either have a good agreement for Italy or there will be no agreement,” said Catania, who is flanking Premier Monti at the EU summit.

Some countries, including Britain, Germany and Sweden, are demanding cuts of as much as 200 billion euros to the EC’s plan.

Britain, which also wants the EU budget for 2013 to be frozen at 2011 levels rather than increased by 6.8%, has threatened to veto a deal if there are no cuts. However, Rome is opposed to spending reductions and has also threatened to use the veto if it does not view the budget as fair. “We need a fair solution that protects Italian taxpayers because there must be the right balance between what Italy contributes to the EU budget and what it receives,” added Catania. “But there must also be proper protection for our farmers.

The negotiations will be very tough, not just about agriculture, but about everything and the premier is totally aware of this”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

OECD Praises Italy as Among States Getting Books in Order

Key to sustainability is ‘credible structural reforms’

(ANSA) — Paris, November 21 — Italy has been praised as one of the OECD countries that is making a serious effort to improve its public finances, through measures valued at about 6% of gross domestic product (GDP), the organization said Wednesday.

In response to the global economic crisis, many countries have announced measures aimed at reducing debt and deficits, which are worth more than 3% of their GDP over the period 2009 to 2015, according to the OECD’s report: Restoring Public Finances 2012.

However, Italy is among the countries that are taking concrete steps it says will help to restore stability to public funds.

Italy’s efforts includes reducing spending through job and wage cuts as well as trimming education, health, and infrastructure budgets.

Some critics say too much cutting and not enough investment can cause an economy to stagnate or even contract.

“Finding the right balance between consolidating budgets and stimulating growth is a challenge for all governments,” said OECD Secretary General, Angel Gurria. “While there is an indisputable need for medium-term fiscal consolidation, austerity alone is unlikely to achieve its goal. “The key to sustainability is credible structural reforms that strengthen public finances, promote long-term economic growth and support those who are hardest hit by the crisis”.

The report also notes that Greece, Ireland and Portugal have announced fiscal consolidation packages totalling more than 12% of GDP in cumulative terms from 2009-2015.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The EU’s Trillion-Euro Argument

The leaders of the 27 members of the EU have started what is likely to be a marathon session. It’s been a long time since the bloc has argued about money with such vigor.

It could turn ugly. Even before the special summit on the new multi-year European Union budget, several countries had threatened a veto. Since the budget must be agreed unanimously, a single vote against would be enough to scupper the whole meeting. What makes things more complicated is that some of the demands rule each other out.

A lot is at stake — a common fund of around a trillion euros ($1.28 trillion) — for the period between 2014 and 2020. Though a trillion euros is only a small part of the total national budgets of the member states, emotions are running high, because for many the argument is over fundamental principles. Some say, for instance, that the credibility of the EU itself is at stake — but some mean the credibility of a prudent, efficiently-run economy, and others the credibility of European solidarity.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

USA

BP Hit by Largest Criminal Fine in US History

BP HAS been stung for $4.5 billion — the largest criminal fine in US history — and the company could be liable for a further $21 billion in civil damages. The fine handed down by the US Department of Justice last week relate to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Some $2.4 billion of the fine will go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which will spend the money on conservation projects in the Gulf region.

The crux of the civil damages case lies in whether BP is shown to have displayed “gross negligence”. Under the Clean Water Act, the company would be liable for a $1100 fine for every barrel of oil leaked into the environment, going up to $4300 per barrel in the case of gross negligence. BP leaked 4.9 million barrels into the Gulf over three months, so could be facing a $21 billion fine.

The company said it would “vigorously defend itself” against the civil claims. The civil trial is due to begin early next year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Democrat Operative Suspected in Serial Rapes

Links to cold cases found when activist arrested for knocking man down

An attack by a Colorado man with close ties to the Democratic Party on an elderly petition gatherer for Personhood USA has led to the identification of a suspect in a series of unsolved sexual assault cases, officials have confirmed to WND.

William Costello, a real estate broker with ties to some of the state’s top political figures in the Democratic Party, was charged after his DNA was tied to unsolved sexual assault cases from 2008, 2010 and 2011.

Costello allegedly sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl in 2008, a 22-year-woman in 2010 and a 49-year-old woman in 2011. Authorities subsequently charged him with two counts of second-degree kidnapping, two accounts of sexual assault on a child and three counts of sexual assault. He was also charged with two counts of impersonating a police officer during two of the attacks.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Federal Audit Proves TSA is Misleading Public, Covering Up Passenger Complaints

A Federal report released last week concludes that the TSA does not have an adequate system to measure passenger complaints, has failed to factor in many complaints in its evaluations, does not consistently inform travelers of how they can file complaints, and could be ignoring complaints altogether because the agents investigating the cases are in the same chain of command as those being investigated.

The report (PDF), compiled by the Government Accountability Office, will serve as a compelling source for reporters and activists who have claimed that the TSA is knowingly misleading the public on the level of backlash the agency has received.

Dated November 15, the fifty page report indicates that almost 40,000 complaints were formally filed with the TSA Contact Center (TCC), between October 2009 and June 2012. The report notes, however, that the TCC is only one of five ways that travelers are able to submit complaints, yet it is the only avenue that is currently being evaluated by the TSA.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pearland Couple Killed in 100-Vehicle Wreck Near Beaumont, Texas

A Pearland couple was killed Thursday in a massive wreck west of Beaumont, which officials attributed to low visibility from dense early morning fog as well as speeding traffic.

The wreck, involving more than 100 vehicles, including many tractor-trailers and at least one tanker, had closed Interstate 10 near Beaumont for most of the day.

The accident, or accidents, started around 9 a.m. and by 9:30 the freeway was closed in both directions near mile marker 833, said Stephanie Davis, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Beaumont district. The crash site is close to the Jefferson/Chambers county line.

Late Thursday, DPS identified the dead as Vincent Leggio, 64, and his wife, Debra Leggio, 60. They died after their 2007 Chevrolet SUV was struck by an 18-wheeler, according to authorities.

At least four dozen people were injured, many critically.

At one point, both directions of the interstate were closed. The westbound lanes reopened about noon and the eastbound lanes about 5 p.m., DPS said.

[Return to headlines]

Should We Pay Government Employees More?

Federal employees—who work on average a month less than private-sector workers and get paid more—are lobbying for higher pay.

Government unions know that Congress is looking for ways to nip and tuck the federal budget, and they’re counting on being left out of the deal.

“The Federal-Postal Coalition—a group representing more than two dozen federal employee unions—pleaded with Congress on Monday to spare their members in any deal related to the ‘fiscal cliff,’“ Government Executive reports.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Supreme Court: A Law Unto Themselves

Exclusive: Bradlee Dean warns: Justices aren’t ruling with Constitution’s confines

Recently, Judge Andrew Napolitano gave a dim prognostication of what could happen to the rights of the American people if Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg would fall to sickness or old age in the next four years. He was afraid that Obama might replace her with a progressive (a communist) who would, in turn, do much damage to the Second Amendment and other rights that God has given to the American people.

The Bill of Rights was the “thou shalt nots” to the government. Judges do not have the right to usurp the Constitution by gutting the Second Amendment (or any other amendment) through their opinion.

Judge Andrew Napolitano must be under the delusion, as most Americans are, that the Supreme Court is the final say in all matters even if they violate our Constitution and the laws of our republic, when, in fact, it isn’t the final say.

Judges were never intended to write, change or create law. They are merely referees charged with the protection of the citizenry by enforcing laws enacted by Congress under the authority of the Constitution.

The judges themselves are to be ruled by law, just like the people they serve. Judges do not have the right to break the law. They are not to legislate from the bench in the manner that the American people have been trained and accustomed to over the last 50 years.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Thanksgiving 2012; Reaping a Bitter Harvest?

Today, we now stand more than two centuries after the proclamation of our first president. The entire moral and spiritual landscape of our country has completely changed, a change that was felt deep within the spirit of nearly half of our county’s population after the last national election. Many asked what happened, others asked how it happened, and fewer still asked why it happened. Perhaps saddest of all, more than half of America has no clue that anything happened.

In the run up to our last national election, many people expressed a desire to “take our country back,” and described a sense of spiritual foreboding after learning of the results. The day after the election, a nationally syndicated late night television talk show host interviewed an evening news anchor. Referring to the talk he’s heard about the spirit of recapturing our country, he mockingly remarked, “take our country back… I didn’t realize it was gone!” The host then launched into a rant about intolerance and racism espoused by the “Bible-clinging Conservatives,” a mini-monologue of hatred that itself was a display of intolerance against the Judeo-Christian values of Americans. Even before he finished, his diatribe was met with cheers from the studio audience.

We have lost much in the 223 years since George Washington signed that Thanksgiving Day proclamation. But we did not get here overnight.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Pilgrims Were Thankful They Abandoned Communism

Washington, DC — As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we should examine what lessons can be learned from the first Thanksgiving celebration. One little known fact is when the Pilgrims landed they established a short-lived form of agricultural communism. The land was owned in common; everyone worked for each other and each received an equal allotment of food no matter how hard they worked. The men planted for everyone and the women prepared food and washed clothes for everyone.

This system quickly failed. The women described the communal chores as a form of slavery, men rapidly lost motivation, and the able-bodied feigned illness to avoid work. As Governor William Bradford described in Of Plymouth Plantation, “[T]he vanity of that conceit of Plato & other ancients…that ye [the] taking away of property, and bringing in community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this…was found to breed much confusion & discontent, and retard much employment…” The crops dwindled to only providing several kernels of corn per meal. It was so bleak that some Pilgrims sold themselves as workers to the Indians for a few cups of food. It is estimated that since a greater number of woman died than did children the mothers were giving their few kernels to their children to keep them alive. Others tried to forage for food, but many died of starvation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

They’ve Stolen Our Country

In the wreckage of our most recent electoral disaster, with country club Republicans transformed into a cageful of surrender monkeys, and “conservative” pundits throwing them bananas, there are really only two things that need be said. But don’t expect any of these self-anointed experts to say them.

First, have you noticed that not one of them is talking about electoral fraud?

There is more than enough evidence to suggest—in the sense of shouting from the housetops—that fraud decided this election. No one wants to discuss that. If it’s true, it takes the whole nation to a place it’s never been before. The crime is so colossal that no one knows what to do about it. The persons who stole the election control the investigative, enforcement, and judiciary processes—so who you gonna call? No, no—if you’re George Will or John McCain, you don’t want to touch this with a ten-foot pole.

Think about it, though—a crime so vast, so evil, that the only thing we can do is pretend it never happened. We don’t even want to discuss it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Times “Expert” Says Scandals Aren’t Scandals

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

Columbia University has a “director of the center for gender and sexuality law” by the name of Katherine Franke who is considered an authority on sexual matters by The New York Times. Her position seems to be that recent scandals in the news are not really scandalous, except in terms of being sensationalized and overblown by the media. She told the paper that Kevin Clash and David Petraeus were victims of a “sex panic” when they resigned from their respective positions.

The Times story written by Elizabeth Jensen and Brian Stelter is noteworthy for the claim that Clash, the man behind Elmo of “Sesame Street” fame, is merely accused of having “underage sexual relationships.” This is how the New York Times refers to homosexual pedophilia and child sexual abuse.

Franke, a lesbian law professor, believes that children “are sexual beings” and that “gay children” in particular need to learn more about “healthy sexuality.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Too Few Oppressors, Too Many Victims

by Victor Davis Hanson

Since the election, some fatalistic Washington conservative elites have accepted — and Obama operatives have rejoiced in — a supposedly new and non-white-male ethnic electorate: Americans will be categorized, and collectively so, on the basis of largely how they look and, to a lesser extent, how they sound. Republicans, then, better get with the new tribalism and remarket themselves to address the new minority monolith.

Accordingly, the enlightened and redeemable liberal elements of the otherwise now played-out old white majority, when combined with the new ethnic minorities, will result in a permanent progressive majority — one that rejects the archaic, if not toxic, racialist values that have been in the past so injurious to the idea of what the United States might have otherwise become. Just imagine a better world with no more required reading of white male Greeks, no more inordinate focus on Shakespeare’s Shylock, no need to suffer through Twain’s N-word or Tolkien’s stereotypical dark-skinned orcs — or indeed, the one-dimensional and boring world we inherited from a Jefferson, Madison, Melville, Lincoln, Grant, Edison, Bell, TR, Salk, Nimitz, and Ike…

Land of the Bad

If we are to live in a tribal society, at least get the narrative down to avoid embarrassing contradictions. America was a racist patriarchy of homophobic, intolerant nativists that exploited others — somehow to build the Hoover dam, invent electricity, create the largest economy in the world, provide a model for globalization, and craft the most inspired constitution in the history of civilization. Do Oaxacans flock to this terrible place on the theory that it is not necessarily any better than Mexico but that it belonged to their ancestors — in a way Oaxaca (where are they leaving from) did not?

Thus the dilemma: most in the world wish to emigrate to the one place that is held to be unfair and biased and in need of radical change. But if the United States begins to change and operate on the economic, political or cultural principles of Bolivia, Uganda, the Philippines, China, or Oaxaca, will millions still wish to come here, or will they prefer Uganda and Bolivia?

It is very American to find an “edge.” In the bad old days, that meant having an uncle who was in the butchers’ union, or a cousin in the fire department, or a granddad who gave money to Yale, or a sister who was married to the dean of the law school. So perhaps the world of Elizabeth Warren’s con is long overdue. Only in America can we be all that we wish to be — by just declaring ourselves to be among the growing number of victims rather than among shrinking pool of oppressors.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

City Hall Staff Face Indictment for Skipping Work in Sicily

Some 85% of employees ‘cheated on time cards’

(ANSA) — Modica, November 21 — Prosecutors in Sicily have called to indict 106 employees at the city hall of Modica for not showing up to work and cheating on their time cards. The suspects, who account for 85% of the building’s entire staff, were allegedly caught doing things such as tampering with the time clock, requesting overtime while out at the beauty salon and listening to music for hours in a parked car on company time. Last year a judge rejected prosecutors’ requests to place 86 of the same employees under house arrest for absenteeism. According to police, evidence includes 52 DVDs of hidden-camera footage showing workers skipping work with the help of co-workers who would punch their time cards for them. The municipality of Modica has requested to be an injured party in the case.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

France: Brussels Asks to Apply EU Rules to Channel Tunnel

Paris must put in place railway interoperability

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 21 — The European Commission is asking France to bring its national rules into line with EU rules on railway interoperability, especially regarding the Channel Tunnel. The legislation aims to achieve interoperability within the European rail transport system and to enable the rail sector to compete more effectively with other transport modes.

The legislation should have been in place since 19 July 2010. If France fails to react satisfactorily, the Commission may refer the matter to the EU Court of Justice. The EU Commission opened infringement proceedings against France on the matter in June this year, and a reasoned opinion (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings) is now being sent. France has two months to reply to the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response from France, within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece Suicide Rate Skyrockets, +37% 2009-2011

Meanwhile, household income drops 15% in a year

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, NOVEMBER 22 — Greece’s suicide rate increased by 37% between 2009-2011, To Pontiki newspaper reported quoting police data. The data, which was presented in Parliament by Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias following a request by SYRIZA MPs, showed that 3,124 suicides and attempted suicides have occurred in the debt-stricken country since 2009, the weekly newspaper said.

Meanwhile, Greek household incomes dropped by 15% in the second quarter of 2012, compared to the same period a year earlier, figures by Greek statistics service ELSTAT showed on Thursday as reported by Kathimerini online.

Welfare benefits went down by 9.5% over the same period, data showed while indicating a 7.3% reduction in consumption. At the same time, Greek households were hit by a 37% increase in taxes, ELSTAT said. Households are estimated to have lost 5.4 billion euros in disposable income.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘I Lost My Job Because I Wasn’t Muslim’: Kuwaiti Bank Made British Boss Redundant From Six-Figure Salary Job Because of His Religious Beliefs

A British banker claims he lost his £185,000-a-year job with a Kuwaiti-owned investment bank because he wasn’t a Muslim.

James Bagshawe, 53, was the Chief Operating Officer of the Gatehouse Bank when he was suddenly made redundant while on holiday in August 2011.

He claims he was replaced by the less experienced Twalha Dhunno, who was a Muslim. Mr Bagshawe, from Gravesend, Kent, who was a founding member of the bank, said: ‘I feel that I have been badly treated by Gatehouse and its Board.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Islam is Like Nazism’: Top Sweden Democrat

The Sweden Democrats’ new justice policy spokesman, unveiled on Thursday as part of a reshuffle in the wake of a racist video scandal, has already made headlines for his comparison of Islamism to Nazism.

“We’re presenting a new team today after what happened last week,” Jimmie Åkesson said at a press conference, referring to the scandal after the publication of a video showing three party members in a drunken and racist tirade from 2010.

Åkesson presented Richard Jomshof, a former high school teacher who was previously the editor in chief for the Sweden Democrat paper SD-Kuriren, as the replacement for former justice policy spokesman Kent Ekeroth who stepped down on Wednesday.

Jomshof has previously likened Islamism to Nazism in the publication, a view he showed no signs of abandoning on Thursday.

“I’ve also compared Islamism with National Socialism and Communism. I stand by that. I think it’s a completely reasonable comparison,” he told TT.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Grillo Launches ‘Not in My Name’ Political Manifesto

Italian comic’s antiestablishment party second in polls

(ANSA) — Rome, November 22 — Genoese gadfly comedian Beppe Grillo, leader of the antiestablishment Five Star Movement (M5S), launched his election ‘manifesto’ on Thursday under the title ‘Not in My Name’.

The declaration — published on the leader’s blog — contains 30 binding policy statements that read like a diatribe against the political establishment.

“Not in my name will holders of high public office receive luxury salaries. Not in my name will false accounting still be permitted, or will Italy not have an anti-corruption law, a law against conflicts of interest, or will anyone be elected to the premiership without having been legitimised by the popular vote,” wrote Grillo.

The comedian also inveighed against political parties and the procedure for changing the electoral law, which is currently undergoing revision in parliament and which he believes should be subject to popular referendum.

M5S has made recent gains in the polls amid growing public disaffection with the current party system.

Recent figures gave the movement around 20%, second only to the centre-left Democratic Party which was polling around 30%. The centre-right People of Freedom party of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi is trailing third with just over 15%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: Catalonia Votes, Economy Dominates End of Campaign

Vote on Sunday, debate on region’s independence

(ANSAmed) — Madrid, November 22 — An economic debate on the future of an independent Catalonia has been at the centre of an electoral campaigning leading up to elections scheduled on Sunday, November 25. The electoral campaign ends tomorrow. The region, which represents 16% of the Spanish population, contributes to 18-19% of Spain’s GDP and to 24-25% of exports of which 33% of high added value, according to data by Generalitat.

Mikel Buesa, an economics professor at Madrid’s Complutense University, said Catalonia’s GDP would fall by almost 24% if the region were to become independent from the central government.

Exports would fall to 8.8% of regional GDP while the foreign deficit would touch 25 billion euros. All this would turn Catalonia into ‘the nation with the highest deficit worldwide’, without even taking into account its exit from the eurozone suggested by Brussels.

According to the professor emeritus of political economy and applied economics at the University of Barcelona, Jacint Ros Hombravella, an independent Catalonia would instead be economically sustainable as the sixth EU country with the highest pro-capita income.

British daily Financial Times also intervened in the debate saying that Catalonia’s independence, like Scotland’s, is ‘attractive’ because central governments only offer scarce demand and much austerity. According to the FT, an independent Catalonia would be richer but indebted with Spain. The newspaper recalled how Catalonia’s pro-capita GDP totalled 27,430 euros in 2011, above Italy’s and Spain’s which was worth 22,284 euros. However, the newspaper also noted that if debt were to be divided with the GDP, Catalonia’s would equal 94% of GDP, 79% over Spain’s debt even though taxes would not go to fund the central government. The worst case scenario, according to the Financial Times, would be a European Union deciding to leave an independent Catalonia out of the bloc. However, the financial daily said such an hypothesis was unlikely given that its economy weighs as much as Greece’s.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sweden Democrats Send Members Anti-Islam Mag

Some 6,000 members of the Sweden Democrats will be receiving an anti-Islam newspaper at the end of the month, courtesy of the party.

“Dispatch International is a paper that plays an important role in the societal debate,” MP and editor in chief for the Sweden Democrat paper SD—Kuriren, Richard Jomshof, told local paper Sydsvenskan.

The publication, which is connected to the Swedish anti-Islam group “Freedom of the Press Society” (Tryckfrihetssällskapet), recently featured an article where a professor argues that the Muslim call to prayer should not only be seen as that but also as a threat.

The Freedom of the Press Society has previously also posted anti-Semitic comments on its Facebook page.

As the paper will be sent together with the existing Sweden Democrat publication, the party will pay for postage.

“There are many connections between us and the Freedom of the Press Society, both personal and ideological. The paper will be sent as a supplement to our paper, so it won’t cost a lot extra,” said Jomshof to Sydsvenskan.

Jomshof told the paper that he doesn’t think that sending the publication along with the Sweden Democrat paper is in any way in breach of the party’s recent zero-tolerance policy against racism.

“The newspaper can hardly be seen as racist. Not all Muslims are of the same race,” Jomshof told the paper

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

UK: A Controversial Sticker in Tower Hamlets: Discuss

Tower Hamlets has a history of controversial stickers appearing in various public places. I saw this one on a Boris Bike docking station in Southern Grove, Mile End, last week.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Birmingham Mosque and House Roofs Blown Off in Strong Winds

The roofs of a mosque and a house have been blown off in Birmingham during strong winds.

Fire crews were called to Evelyn Road in Sparkhill after the roof was lifted off the two-storey building. No-one was injured.

Police said there were also no injuries when a roof came off a house in Bordesley Green.

In Woolaston, a teenage girl was left with serious head injuries after being hit by a falling tree.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

UK: Children’s Commissioner Defends Child Sex Abuse Report

Deputy commissioner Sue Berelowitz says criticism of report into child sexual exploitation is unhelpful

The office of the children’s commissioner has defended its report into the extent of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in England, calling criticism “unhelpful” and “puzzling” and insisting its figures are “robust”. The report revealed that 16,500 children were at high risk of sexual exploitation and 2,409 had been sexually exploited in a 14-month period. It met with immediate criticism following its publication on Tuesday — with unnamed sources questioning the reliability of the numbers, while others accused it of failing to address a particular problem of the targeting of white girls by networks of British Pakistani men.

The deputy children’s commissioner Sue Berelowitz, who is leading the two-year inquiry, told the Guardian that the office of the children’s commissioner stood 100% behind the report, which unnamed government sources labelled “hysterical” and “half-baked”. Harrowing detail had been left out of the report, while figures were based on data recorded by statutory agencies, she said. “This is definitely a calm and moderate report,” she said, adding that the comments were “unhelpful”.

Berelowitz said the inquiry panel had been “completely transparent” and had met government ministries including the departments of education, communities and local government, health, the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office in the past 12 months. Government officials were kept up-to-date with the inquiry, with meetings held every six to eight weeks since the launch of the inquiry in October 2011. At one point a Department of Education statistician analysed numbers around looked-after children. “It is a puzzle what has happened in the last 24 hours,” she said. “We all hope now that people can calm down, read the evidence, attend to it seriously and then we can work together tackling this very troubling issue.”

The numbers in the report have been called into question. One unnamed government source told the Daily Mail that the report was “half-baked”, adding: “It is difficult to overstate the contempt the government has for the methodology and analysis in this report.” The Daily Telegraph quoted senior government ministers — who appeared to use similar language — describing its 138-page interim report as “hysterical and half-baked”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Child Sex Grooming: Roger Ellis’ Evidence Contradicted by Former Executive Director

Cheryl Eastwood, former Executive Director, Children’s Services, Rochdale Borough Council has contradicted former Chief Executive Roger Ellis’ claim to a Parliamentary Select Committee that he knew nothing of the problem of sexual exploitation in Rochdale Borough…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Damning Report Reveals Failings in NHS Care of Patients ‘Treated Worse Than Animals’

Today’s report on NHS care also found cases of patients being treated ‘worse than animals’ and ridiculed by ‘rude’ nurses.

Relatives also say doctors are ignoring their pleas to promise to resuscitate loved ones should they stop breathing. Some families spoke of a lack of compassion among staff who didn’t care if patients ‘lived or died’.

In one case, the daughter of a 94-year-old man who was being neglected by nurses told them ‘you wouldn’t treat an animal like that’. Sandra Lamb also revealed how a doctor refused to sign a form agreeing to resuscitate her father should he stop breathing.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Huge £800,000 Payout for Hurting Finger at School: Teaching Assistant’s Award After Tripping on a Wheelchair

A teaching assistant has been handed a staggering £800,000 in compensation after she tripped and dislocated a finger at work.

The payout — one of the highest ever awarded in education — was made after Julie Anne Huddart tripped over the waist strap of an empty wheelchair while trying to move it.

Mrs Huddart, 49, dislocated a finger and injured her elbow in the 2003 accident, and has since been diagnosed with ‘reflex sympathetic dystrophy’ — a malfunction of the nervous system that causes pain and swelling.

The married teaching assistant, from Chorley, Lancashire, began a nine-year battle against her local authority for compensation, and earlier this year Lancashire County Council agreed to pay £800,000 in damages and £140,000 in legal costs in an out-of-court settlement.

The award, which sparked fury among war veterans and victims of crime who received substantially less for their injuries, is part of a burgeoning compensation culture among teachers who last year claimed a record £25million following accidents and employment disputes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Indian Radiographer Who Could Not Speak English Worked at Cancer Hospital for Six Years Before Being Sacked After String of Complaints

An Indian radiographer has been sacked from his job at a cancer hospital after six years following a string of complaints that he could not speak clear English.

Ramani Ramaswany was dismissed from The Christie hospital, in Manchester, and suspended from the national radiography register for a year after complaints were made against him that he was unable to communicate effectively with patients and colleagues.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Is the NHS’s Obsession With Doctor-Free Births Putting Babies at Risk?

There is a virulent, creeping orthodoxy, backed by powerful and media-savvy voices, which is drowning out common sense in favour of dragging pregnant women back to the Dark Ages.

This orthodoxy embraces a single, pernicious belief: that modern obstetric practice amounts to no more than unwanted, male-dominated intrusion; it is to be avoided at all costs and women who seek any part of it are ‘giving in’.

And so home birth with a midwife is — according to this belief — gold standard; midwife-led units (MLUs) come a close second and a hospital obstetric unit is bottom of the list.

Successive governments have offered vote-winning pledges to the endless calls for ‘more midwives!’ This government was petitioned for 5,000 more of them as recently as August.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: I Lost Job for Not Being a Muslim, Claims Banker

A British boss lost his six-figure salary job at a Kuwati-owned investment bank because he wasn’t a Muslim, a tribunal heard yesterday.

James Bagshawe, 53, was made redundant from his £185,000 a year post as chief operating officer at Sharia-run Gatehouse Bank in August 2011, the employment tribunal was told.

He claims Muslim employee Twalha Dhunnoo was then appointed to take over his role despite being less qualified. Mr Bagshawe, who earned more than £1 million in pay and bonuses during his four years with the bank, also claims they got rid of him because he raised concerns about a £100 million investment with the Financial Services Authority. He said his treatment at the hands of the bank was “particularly unacceptable given the aims, values and ethics” of the Shariah-compliant institution. The investment banker, from Kent, has now taken his case to a central London employment tribunal. If he wins his case there is no limit on the compensation figure he could be awarded…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Killed for Just Her Handbag: Blind Widow Attacked by Muggers as She Walked Home From the Shops

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

A frail pensioner was killed for just a few pounds in cash by handbag thieves who ambushed her in an alleyway.

Widow Paula Castle, 85, who was registered blind, died from bleeding on the brain after she was attacked as she returned from the shops.

The grandmother was followed by the thieves, who knocked her to the ground and stole her bag.

Witnesses saw two black teenage boys wearing dark clothing and hoods loitering around the alleyway in the minutes before Mrs Castle was robbed.

Police believe she was returning from a nearby Tesco Extra supermarket when they ran up behind her and forced her to the ground.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Legal Action Threatened Over Banglatown Ward Scrappage

Plans to remove the electoral ward of Banglatown from Tower Hamlets have been slammed as “an attack on Bangladeshis” by Mayor Lutfur Rahman, who has threatened legal action to block them…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Arrest 34-Year-Old Man Following Attack on Girl, 16, Who Was Knocked Out Cold by Stranger in the Street

Michael Ayoade, 34, will appear before magistrates on Friday, accused of carrying out the attack in Plaistow, east London, on Tuesday November 13, Scotland Yard said.

CCTV footage showed a man jogging up behind the 16-year-old and smacking her around the head. The girl, a student, was left lying on the ground as her attacker casually jogged off.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: SAS Sniper Sgt Nightingale ‘Could be Home in Time for Christmas’

The wife of a jailed SAS sergeant wept today as he was granted an “unprecedented” fast-track appeal date that could see the father-of-two freed in time for Christmas.

Lawyers for Danny Nightingale were granted a full hearing next week by Britain’s most senior judge, after David Cameron threw his weight behind the case. It was expected to take months before the appeal could be argued in full before a court but Sgt Nightingale’s lawyer said the decision to hear it so quickly reflected the intense public interest in his fate.

An emotional Sally Nightingale, the soldier’s wife, said his freedom would be “the best Christmas present we could ever have”. Sgt Nightingale, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is serving an 18-month sentence in a military prison after pleading guilty to illegal firearm possession but his supporters claim that he has been unfairly treated. Today, his lawyer Simon McKay lodged an appeal on his behalf at London’s Royal Courts of Justice, accompanied by the soldier’s wife and his father Humphrey…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Thug With a ‘Gang-bo’ Banning Him From Social Media Taunts Police on Twitter and Facebook

[Comment: Gang-bo = Gang Ban Order — ie ordered to stop hanging around gang.]

A nationwide manhunt has been launched today to find a teenager who breached a ‘gang-bo’ injunction.

Leevon Birchall, 19, was one of the first people to be given a 12-month gang injunction in Greater Manchester, which banned him from contacting known associates following a police investigation into into a vicious tit-for-tat gun war.

However, just 48 hours after the court order was imposed, Birchall posted snaps of himself posing defiantly with a teenage friend named in the legal papers.

Birchall, who was also placed under curfew and barred from contacting any individuals linked to the city’s criminal underworld, posted messages taunting police such ‘we live the diamond life’ and ‘f*** the system’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: The Beast of Tunbridge Wells: Terrified Walker Claims 8ft-Tall Creature With Demonic Red Eyes and Long Arms Roared at Him in Historic Town’s Woods

It is an historic and quaint ‘middle England’ town which doesn’t really like creating a scene.

But if the reports of one terrified walker are to be believed, the residents of Royal Tunbridge Wells could have a giant Bigfoot-like creature in their midst.

A man walking in the woods beside the town’s common claims to have spotted an 8ft tall beast with demonic red eyes and long arms.

According to The Sun, the ape-like creature, which looked like America’s legendary Bigfoot, roared at the walker, who immediately ran off in fear.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Morsi Assumes Sweeping New Powers

(AGI) — Cairo, Nov. 22 — Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has issued a declaration extending his powers, making all presidential decisions final and immediately applicable. Mursi has also sacked his chief prosecutor and ordered the re-trial of officers accused of attacking protesters during the events that led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

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

Egypt’s Morsi Takes on Sweeping Powers

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has decreed constitutional changes granting himself far-reaching powers. He also fired the country’s chief prosecutor, a move likely to cause further conflict with the judiciary.

The Egyptian leader on Thursday decreed, among other constitutional amendments, that all decisions he had taken since taking office in June could not be appealed in court or by any other authority.

A constitutional declaration read out on television by spokesman Yasser Ali stated that Morsi “can issue any decision or measure to protect the revolution.”

“The constitutional declarations, decisions and laws issued by the president are final and not subject to appeal,” the declaration continued.

Morsi also granted immunity both to the constituent assembly drafting a new Egyptian constitution and to the upper chamber of parliament from any possible court decisions to dissolve them. Both bodies are dominated by Islamist allies of the president.

Egypt’s Supreme Constituional Court is expected to rule on the legality of the assembly in December.

Several members of the assembly have recently withdrawn from it in protest at what they say are attempts by Islamists to fashion the constitution to their own ends.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Egypt’s Morsy Gives Himself New Powers, Orders Retrials in Protester Deaths

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy has issued an order preventing any court from overturning his decisions, essentially allowing him to run the country unchecked until a new constitution is drafted, his spokesman announced on state TV Thursday.

[…]

Morsy declared that any laws or decrees he’s made since he took office June 30, and until a new constitution is put in place, are final and cannot be overturned or appealed, his spokesman said on state-run TV.

Morsy also declared that a 100-man council drafting a new constitution, plus the upper house of parliament, cannot be dissolved. And he granted the council two more months to finish a draft constitution, meaning the panel has six months to finish.

That means Morsy, who earlier this year took over legislative powers from the military council that ruled after Mubarak’s ouster, could have at least six months of unchecked rule by decree.

[…]

Thousands of people have protested in Cairo since Monday, chanting — for the first time since Morsy took office — for the toppling of the regime. Some in Tahrir Square held posters saying “No to the Brotherhood,” and banned Brotherhood members from entering the square.

[…]

Dozens of protesters have been arrested, said Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal El Din. Cameras have been installed around Tahrir Square, its side streets and the Interior Ministry in an effort to determine the identities of people attacking security forces, he announced.

[Comment by PG: “Meet the new boss/ Same as the old boss”]

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]

Libya: Susan Rice Breaks Her Silence to Defend Herself Over Benghazi

Susan Rice, US ambassador to the United Nations, said she has been the victim of “unfounded” Republican attacks over her account of a militant assault on the US embassy in Libya.

Ms Rice is a frontrunner to be the next US secretary of state but Senator John McCain and other Republicans have said they would block her confirmation by the US Senate because of the controversy. President Barack Obama has strongly defended Ms Rice, but kept everyone waiting to see whether he would risk naming his trusted confidante to replace Hillary Clinton. “Let me be very clear. I have great respect for Senator McCain and his service to our country, I always have, and I always will,” Ms Rice told reporters in her first public comments on the storm. “I do think that some of the statements he made about me have been unfounded, but I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him,” she added. Ms Rice insisted the comments she made on US talk shows on the Sunday after the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was based purely on intelligence guidance…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Morocco’s Hidden Scourge: ‘Servant Girls’ Abused & Underpaid

‘Tradition’ denounced once again by Human Rights Watch

(ANSAMed) — ROME, 20 NOVEMBER — The continued use of child domestic labour in Morocco is an embarrassment to the ruling monarchy who want to project a modern image of the country to the West. Every year thousands of young girls are sent by their parents to work as domestic servants in the homes of the Moroccan bourgeoisie. Salaries — often the only source of income for a family — are sent directly to their parents. Effectively, the children are prisoners, only leaving their place of work when sent on errands for their employees. Although Human Rights Watch recently flagged up Morocco’s hidden scourge, it is impossible to quantify the scale of the problem. Sexual abuse and violence, though rife, remains unreported.

Servant girls are abused by their ‘masters’ and forced into a vow of silence. Moroccan feminists are gloomy. It is a centuries old problem protected by ‘tradition’, they say. The case of an 11 year old servant girl — Khadija, who died at the hands of violence from her employer’s daughter, briefly brought Morocco’s hidden abuse to light. But the hard hitting story was quickly forgotten. Economic and cultural forces are at the root of the phenomenon. Often, domestic work in the city is seen as the only opportunity for uneducated girls from poor, rural areas. A law to increase the age of domestic workers to 15 is in discussion. But few expect a resolution to the problem when Morocco’s police and lawmakers themselves employ domestic servants. While the Moroccan authorities point to a dip in child labour — 147, 000 in 2010 versus 517 000 in 1999, the news is hardly likely to fill human rights activists or Morocco’s child servants with joy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Salafites on Hunger Strike, State Under Attack

Controversy on concessions but fundamentalists put pressure

(ANSAmed) — Tunis, November 21 — A hunger strike which has led to the death of two young Salafites in Tunisia is putting the government in a difficult situation as its decision to grant a number of concessions are being criticized both by religious fundamentalists who are demanding more and by secularists who accuse the cabinet of giving in to Islamists.

Today two Salafite inmates on a hunger strike accepted to be taken to hospital for treatment — after threatening to commit suicide if forced to eat — but not before accusing the state of trying to kill them.

However, after the death of the two inmates, the government has made some significant concessions — like speeding up some trials — which civil society saw as an act of surrender. The hunger strike is mainly carried out by Salafite inmates. Other detainees are also participating to demand their release or better living conditions in prison.

Tension is high in Tunisia’s prisons where the alliance of inmates is considered dangerous. The secular press, mostly French-language newspapers, has accused the government of giving in to Salafites after they went on a hunger strike.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

A Moral Distinction in the Gaza Conflict

by Douglas Murray

Hamas have claimed responsibility for a bus-bombing in Tel Aviv earlier today. It is worth watching this video, which went out a few hours ago on Hamas’s ‘Al-Aqsa’ TV. Over the presenter’s response are shown the first photographs of wounded Israelis being carried from the scene of the bus-bombing. The presenter is saying:

‘These are the scenes of the casualties. God willing, we will soon see black body bags. I pray to Allah the exalted that we see body bags in a short while. These are scenes of the Zionist casualties so far. Right now in these moments, the mosques in the Gaza Strip — their minarets are loudly sounding cries of “Allahu Akbar” and cries of joy, and the residents of the Gaza Strip are bowing down to Allah for this offering. The morale of the Gaza residents is in the sky right now, and is rising just as the rockets of the Resistance.’

I know a lot of people have trouble making any moral distinctions in this conflict. Can anybody find an Israeli television channel, let alone a government-run one, in which the presenter prays for the deaths of innocent civilians in Gaza?

[Reader comment by Augustus on 21 November 2012 at about 10pm.]

The notion that there ever can or will be something called a ‘demilitarized Palestinian state’ is complete nonsense. The Gaza experience has shown that if given a state (or in the case of the Hamas, when they grab a state), the Palestinians inevitably develop their own foreign and defense relationships and arm their state to the teeth. All international guarantees and so-called ‘security arrangements’ are worthless. Nobody has stopped Gaza from becoming a client state of Iran and part of the Iranian army. Nobody has prevented Hamas from developing strategic partnerships with the radical Islamic governments of Egypt and Turkey. Another myth is the inane intellectual argument that religiously extreme, anti-Semitic

radicals (like Hamas) can be co-opted into peace (or at least long-term diplomatic cooperation) by giving them power. This argument posits that the holding of sovereign power and the assumption of day-to-day responsibility for the welfare of a people willy-nilly moderates a radical movement. That Western recognition and cooperation, Israeli respect, economic aid, open borders and peace-minded Western educational efforts will massage the jihadists into becoming pragmatists. No way. The evidence shows that jihadists like Hamas are willing to sacrifice all of the above on the altar of permanent holy war against Israel. Only the naive can continue to make the co-option argument. Only appeasement-minded diplomats would dare try to impress this notion yet again upon Israel. And isn’t it wonderful for some to think that Israelis are exhausted and have no strength for their continued national struggle. Not true. Their national resilience and spirits are strong. Because most Israelis understand and accept that they must still fight for their sovereignty and security, and they are determined to do so.

[JP note: The West’s political class has collectively succumbed to Emphatic Traumatic Stress Disorder (ETSD), comforting perhaps if you are blinded by the headlights of the approaching Islamic juggernaut. Pimples of suffering unite, you have nothing to lose but your ooze!]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Abu Mazen Praises Premier Haniya for His “Victory”

(AGI) Gaza, Nov. 22 — The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) leader, Abu Mazen, has spoken with Gaza premier Islaim Haniya on the telephone, congratulating him on his “victory” — the ceasefire agreement with Israel. The news was contained in a communique’ issued by the Islamist premier’s office in Gaza.

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

Israel Hamas Conflict: Ceasefire a Sign of Middle East’s New Political Reality

Israel and Hamas agreed to end more than a week of missile fire over the Gaza border, in a truce brokered by Egypt, a sign of the new political realities of the Middle East.

The declaration was made in Cairo by the Egyptian foreign minister, in front of Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state. Under the terms of the truce, both sides will hold off from hostilities until further notice. After the truce has held for 24 hours, talks will begin to address Hamas’s demand that Israel’s blockade of Gaza be lifted. There was no mention of Israel’s requirement that Hamas be prevented from rearming, either immediately or in the future. But the deal was announced in Cairo by Mohammed Kamel Amr, the foreign minister of Egypt, through which any arms would have to travel to reach Gaza, standing alongside Mrs Clinton. The Israelis believe this amounts to a guarantee their security concerns have been accepted…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Israeli Military: 55 Terror Suspects Arrested in West Bank Overnight

JERUSALEM, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) — The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the secret service Shin Bet arrested 55 terror suspects in an extensive operation in the West Bank overnight, the IDF said in a statement Thursday. “In light of recent terrorist and violent activity in Judea and Samaria (biblical reference to West Bank) and as part of the security forces’ attempt to restore calm to the area, the decision was made to carry out the arrests,” the statement said. “A total of 55 terror operatives who are affiliated with different terror groups have been detained. Among those arrested were a number of senior-level operatives,” it added. Among the detainees were top Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials and memebers of Palestinian parliament, according to a list of the arrested contained in the statement…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Switzerland to Support Palestinian Authority in UN Request

(AGI) — Geneva, Nov. 22 — Switzerland has decided to support the Palestinian bid for UN observer country status next week, according to the state broadcaster RTS. Bern made the decision after Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to Switzerland, the broadcaster reported, quoting an anonymous source. At the end of the meeting with the Palestinian leader, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter implied that Bern was likely to support the bid. In any case, the government will be announcing its decision only on November 29 after talks with the two foreign commissions of the Parliament, which have a say in the matter. RTS reports that the commission in the Chamber of Deputies has already given the go-ahead to the proposal, while the Senate one has not yet made its decision. The General Assembly vote on the Palestinian bid will take place on November 29 .

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

The Israel/Hamas Endgame: An ‘Acceptable’ Number of Missiles

There was a political cartoon published a few years ago that neatly summed up the expectations of the so-called International Community with respect to Islamic terror. It showed two prize fighters and a referee. One of the fighters represented the United States, and the other represented al-Qaeda.

In the first frame of the cartoon, the referee is going over a long a list of rules that the American fighter must abide by during the match. In the second frame, the ref turns to the al-Qaeda fighter. “You can do anything you want,” he says. As the latest Israeli-Hamas confrontation looks on the verge of ramping up, absolutely nothing has changed.

In 2005, in a gesture that falls under the heading, “no good deed goes unpunished,” Israel gave the Gaza strip to the Palestinians, uprooting thousands of Jewish settlers in the process. What did they get in return? The rise of Hamas, whose charter called for the annihilation of the Jewish State, after it defeated the PLO, and assumed control of Gaza in 2007. More than 8,000 missiles shot across the border into Israeli towns since 2009, including more than 800 this year alone. For those of you unburdened by a public school education, that comes to just over two missiles per day, seven days a week, 365 day a year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Unique Advantage of Female War Reporters in Muslim Countries

Most of the first correspondents to file reports from Gaza when the latest conflict began last week were women. Emma Barnett discovers what their unique advantage is over their male colleagues in Muslim cities and countries.

Phoebe Greenwood was frantically filing her latest piece for The Telegraph in Gaza City earlier this week when she noticed something. Sat in the main lobby of the Al Deira Hotel, which has become effectively become a big newsroom in the war-torn strip of land, Greenwood observed that all of the correspondents of the American, Australian, Spanish and British broadsheets writing around her were women. Jodi Rudoren (New York Times), Ruth Pollard (Sydney Morning Herald), Harriet Sherwood (Guardian), Ana Carbajosa (El Pais), Abeer Ayyoub (freelance Palestinian journalist) and Rolla Scolari (Sky Italia) have all been Greenwood’s comrades during the latest troubles in the Middle East. On the job she has also been accompanied by Heidi Levine, whom she describes as a “ridiculously tough war photographer” and worked alongside Eman Mohammed Darkhalil, an award-winning and heavily pregnant photographer.

At the start of the latest Israel-Gaza conflict last week, Greenwood, a freelance reporter based in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, said the majority of the correspondents first on the ground were women and what’s even better, it’s no longer remarkable. “I think this high number of female correspondents in a conflict zone is as a result of gender-equality finally filtering down — making it totally normal for women to report from the front line,” she explains…

That unique advantage: the third gender

However, interestingly, Greenwood reveals that women war correspondents do have a unique advantage because of their gender when reporting in Muslim countries. “We sort of become a third gender and in some ways are safer because we are women,” Greenwood discloses. “The Muslim men treat with us a kind of deference and actually talk to us about the war, their strategy and their weapons — which they wouldn’t do with the women of their country. At the same time they would very rarely harm a female journalist as most Islamic militants don’t want to behead a woman or kidnap them.”

Moreover, in war-torn Muslim countries, the majority of the women and children only feel comfortable opening up to women reporters as they are not allowed to be seen talking to men outside of their families. Greenwood says this means female journalists can often get better access to the whole story. “It’s very difficult for the male journalists in Muslim countries to talk to the women and children. As a result women can often get more colour about a conflict or the latest situation with greater ease.” She describes the feeling amongst the women reporters in Gaza City as very collegiate and compares it to a “sisterhood”…

[JP note: Collective Emphatic Traumatic Stress Disorder allows these third genderers to express theatrical emotion for their cherished Muslim victims.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

War is the Answer

Behind the peace agreement and the ceasefire is another war that will be worse than the last.

The plan for perpetual peace is really a plan for perpetual war. It necessitates that the civilized nations who heed its call amass overwhelming quantities of firepower as deterrents against war, which they will pledge to never use because if the threat of destroying the world isn’t enough, their bluff will be called and they will fold. And if they don’t fold, then the world will be destroyed because the humanitarians said that peace was better than war.

It also necessitates that the actual wars that they fight be as limited as possible by applying precision technology to kill only actual armed enemy combatants while minimizing collateral damage. And that humanitarian objective also necessitates that the other side reply with a counter-objective of making it as hard as possible to kill them without also killing civilians.

[…]

Hamas is not interested in being engaged. Its goal is the destruction of Israel. This isn’t posturing, it’s not sullen resentment over being blockaded by Israel or outrage over the latest round of fighting. This is the essential ideology of Hamas, derived from the core Islamic principles over the proper role of non-Muslims in the Muslim world. It is not interested in a two-state solution, job creation programs or any of the meaningless shiny toys that diplomats wave when they arrive in the region. Its goal is to make Islam supreme over all other systems by destroying a non-Muslim state in what it considers to be Muslim territory.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Electronic Tracking: New Constraint for Saudi Women

RIYADH: Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.

The husband, who was travelling with his wife, received a text message from the immigration authorities informing him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh.

“The authorities are using technology to monitor women,” said columnist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the “state of slavery under which women are held” in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the “yellow sheet” at the airport or border.

The move by the Saudi authorities was swiftly condemned on social network Twitter — a rare bubble of freedom for millions in the kingdom — with critics mocking the decision.

“Hello Taliban, herewith some tips from the Saudi e-government!” read one post.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Enhanced Iran-Egypt Ties Beneficial to Muslim World: Larijani

Iran’s Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani urges improved relations between Iran and Egypt in all fields, saying the expansion of cordial ties between the two important Muslim countries would be beneficial to the Muslim world.

In a meeting with Head of Egypt’s Interest Section in Tehran Khalid Al-Said Ibrahim Amari, the Iranian parliament speaker stressed the importance of talks among religious experts and officials from Iran and Egypt, which would consolidate the friendly bonds between Tehran and Cairo. “Religious dialogue among the seminaries of Iran and Egypt will be an obstacle to extremist moves in the Muslim world,” Larijani said. He added that the rich culture and civilizational links between the Iranian and Egyptian nations would prepare an appropriate ground for strengthening relations in all fields…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Iran Claims Israel Accepting Ceasefire is Sign of Weakness

(AGI) Tehran, Nov. 22 — According to the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Israel accepting a ceasefire in Gaza shows that the Jewish state has grown “increasingly weak”. In a statement to Irib news channel, Saeed Jalili said “accepting defeat after eight days means that the Zionist regime is becoming increasingly weak”. Mr Jalili also congratulated the Palestinians on the ceasefire as that “means that counter-resistance is getting stronger”. He also added that Iran will continue to proudly support groups fighting the Jewish state and urged Palestinians to stay united, as the “only path to freedom for Palestine”.

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

Russia Opposes NATO Missiles in Turkey

Russia has said it opposes the potential deployment of NATO missiles in Turkey. Proponents say the move could help secure Turkey’s border with Syria, currently embroiled in civil war.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich voiced Moscow’s concern over NATO’s possible deployment of Patriot missiles near the Turkey-Syria border Thursday, saying it “would not foster stability in the region.”

Lukashevich added that “the militarization of the Turkish-Syrian border is an alarming signal.”

Turkey had earlier asked NATO to deploy the missiles in response to the Syrian shelling of border towns in recent months. Turkey has repeatedly scrambled fighter jets in response to the shelling, which stems from the Syrian civil war that has killed some 38,000 people since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011.

Discussing the proposal

NATO ambassadors met on Wednesday to discuss Turkey’s request after weeks of talks between the two sides. Turkey sees the move as a way to strengthen security along its 560-mile (900-kilometer) border with Syria.

Turkey is expected to ask NATO to deploy German Patriot air defense missiles on its border with Syria. That would be the first foreign deployment for a unit originally intended to protect against a Soviet threat. (19.11.2012)

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle affirmed his support of Turkey’s wish to defend itself.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Riyadh: Controls on Women: Husbands Receive SMS if Their Wife Leaves the Country

The service has been active for a few days. It serves to control travels abroad by women, who must always be accompanied by a man. Saudi activist for human rights denounce the condition of women who are prisoners in their own country.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) — An SMS to control women’s travels outside the kingdom. This is one of the new “security” measures reserved for members of the fairer sex in Saudi Arabia. Active for the past few days, the service alerts the woman’s “guardian” (father, husband, brother or tutor) when she leaves the country, by sending a message to the guardian’s cell phone. The measure is so efficient that it informs the guardian even if he is traveling with the person concerned. Developed in secret by the emigration office in Riyadh, the system was discovered by a husband: while he was at the airport with his wife, the man received a text message on his phone saying that his “wife was leaving Riyadh International Airport”. Bewildered by the event, he contact Manal al-Sharif, a known activist for women’s rights, who launched the case on the social networks.

“The authorities are using technology to track women,” affirms the writer Badriya al-Bishr, who denounces “the state of slavery faced by Saudi women, whether they are wives, mothers, widows, rich or poor.” According to Islamic law, none of them can leave the country without the signed authorization of their guardian. “This technology”, al-Bishr continues, “is the result of a backward mentality that wants to keep us as prisoners.”

The government’s decision shocked not only women but also many men. One of them joked on Twitter: “In a few years the government will place a microchip in our wives, so that it can follow them anywhere.”

The new control method comes after the scandal caused by the escape to Sweden of a woman who converted to Christianity. The affair came to light in August, involving a young woman working in a bank in al-Khari (eastern Saudi Arabia) who came into contact with Christianity through her Lebanese manager and a Saudi colleague. Fascinated by the new religion, the woman decided to flee first to Lebanon and then to Sweden, where she currently resides. According to investigations, she managed to leave the country with the complicity of an official from the passport office in al-Kharj, who falsified the authorisation signed by her guardian, in this case, the woman’s father. He filed a missing person complaint in August that put police on the trail of the two men, who are still detained and should go to trial next week. The charges is of trying to convert the woman, bringing her to abandon Islam, and of having helped her out of the country. On 13 November, the young woman’s father sent a letter to the Saudi authorities requesting the forced return of his daughter.

In Saudi Arabia, women live under the strict dictates of Qur’anic law. They are obliged to wear the full veil, cannot leave the house unless accompanied by men and cannot drive a car. The activist Souad al-Chammari, the first woman lawyer authorized to defend female cases in Saudi courts, has repeatedly stated that “ there will be no real reform in the country without a change in women’s status, treated as ‘children’ even when holding high positions within companies.” For the activist, the strict application of Sharia also represents an economic loss for the country. The unemployment rate among Saudi women exceeds 30%.

During these years, King Abdullah has given way to some timid reforms to improve their condition. In October, he granted women the right to vote in municipal elections in 2015 and has reduced the powers of the Mutawa, the terrible religious police, which monitors compliance with the dictates of Sharia in the population. In the past, other monarchs have attempted to reform the Saudi society. The first was King Faysal, who in the ‘60s introduced compulsory education for girls. Today, young female graduates outnumber their male counterparts.

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

Saudi Arabia to Build 17 Nuclear Reactors by 2030

RIYADH, Nov. 21, (Xinhua) — Saudi Arabia plans to establish 17 nuclear reactors worth more than 100 billion U.S. dollars by 2030 to meet demands of electricity, according to the Saudi News Agency on Wednesday. Some of those reactors are expected to be operational by 2020, in which each nuclear station requires 9 to 11 years to be built, Vice-president of King Abdullah City for Nuclear Energy Dr Khalid Al Sulaiman told the agency. He said that nuclear projects would be established after the approval of the national plan by the beginning of 2013…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Turkey Formally Requests Patriot Missiles From NATO

ANKARA, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) — Turkey on Wednesday formally asked NATO to deploy missile defense elements on its border with Syria to boost its air defense systems, an official statement announced. NATO will convene in the shortest time possible to discuss the Turkish request, according to the statement issued by the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Meanwhile, the Turkish government said in a statement in Ankara, “in face of the threats and risks posed to our national security by the ongoing crisis in Syria… it has been decided to formally request from NATO that our national air defense be reinforced with the support of allied air defense elements.” The request followed talks between Ankara and NATO allies about how to shore up security on the 900-km border with Syria after mortar rounds landed on Turkish territory, increasing concerns about the civil war spilling over into Syria’s neighbours.

NATO has installed anti-aircraft batteries in Turkey twice before, during the 1991 and 2003 Iraq wars. They were never used and were removed a few months later.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia

23 Killed, 54 Injured in Pakistan Suicide Blast

ISLAMABAD, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) — Death toll of the suicide bombing that hit a Shiite Muslims procession in Pakistan’s northern city of Rawalpindi on Wednesday night rose to 23 on Thursday morning, while 53 others got injured, local media said. The attack happened at 11:33 p.m. local time when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a Shiite Muslims procession in Misrial area in Rawalpindi, an adjoining city of the country’s capital Islamabad. Quoting hospital sources, local Urdu TV channel Dunya reported that three people succumbed to injuries at hospital on Thursday morning, bringing the death toll to 23. Police said that the head of the bomber, aged between 20 to 25, has been sent to the District Headquarters Hospital for DNA test…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Afghanistan Criticised for Spate of Executions

Six prisoners have been hanged in Afghanistan, bringing to 14 the number of executions in the past two days, officials say.

Human rights groups have condemned the hangings as cruel and inhuman. They have raised concerns about the safety of some of the convictions. Executions have been rare since the Taliban fell in 2001. Officials told the BBC that those hanged were criminals, not militants linked to the Taliban or al-Qaeda. They say all of them had been found guilty of serious offences including rape and “crimes against the people, especially women and children”. The move is likely to please many Afghans who complain that serious crime is on the rise and argue that the use of the death penalty is a necessary deterrent…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Meat Eaters Are “Liars and Sexual Deviants”: Indian School Book Under Attack

According to a professor of Education at Jamia Millia University in Delhi, “New Healthway” is “poisonous for children.” It is still unknown how many schools have adopted the text. Teachers are asking the state to exert greater control, but for the authorities, the schools are the ones who must examine the contents.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — Meat eaters “are cheaters, liars and sexual deviants.” This is the claim of New Healthway, a controversial middle school science textbook used in India. Published by a major publishing house, the text has sparked controversy on the part of teaching staff and the public. For the moment, it is not known which and how many schools have adopted the book, defined as “poisonous for children” by Janaki Rajan, a professor at the Faculty of Education at Jamia Millia University in Delhi. Meanwhile, the world of education is urging the government to exercise more control, but the authorities have replied by saying that schools should examine the contents, because they were responsible for the selection of textbooks.

In the chapter “Do We Need Flesh Food?”, the book’s authors argue that “the creator of the universe did not include meat in the original diet for Adam and Eve. He gave them fruits, nuts and vegetables. This explains why meat is not an essential food.” The chapter explains the “benefits” of a vegetarian diet, and lists some “typical characteristics” of those who eat meat: “They easily cheat, tell lies, forget promises, they are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes”.

These are not the only “claims” under fire. The chapter, in fact, refers to Eskimos as “lazy, sluggish and short-lived,” because their diet consists “largely of meat.”

When questioned on the issue, M.M. Pallam Raju, State Minister for Human Resources Development, said: “sensitivities of communities have to be kept in mind. I think it’s unfortunate, an occasional aberration happens. But what I would request is that the state body should always be on alert just like how NCERT [National Council of Educational Research Training] is on alert.” For Professor Rajan instead, “the government has the power to do something, but it’s washing its hands.”

For Ram Puniyani, an intellectual and activist, what the text contains “is not only unscientific, but is also part of the divisive ideology that is currently dominating the ‘social common sense’ in India today. This is part of the propaganda, which is linked to the demonization of Muslims and also lately of Christians, who are supposed to be meat and beef eaters. As a matter of fact, a large section of Indian population cutting across religions is non vegetarian”. According Puniyani, “putting such allegations in a schoolbook, and that to a CBSE [middle school] one, shows the infiltration of this ideology into different sections of society.” (NC)

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

Pakistan: Rawalpindi: Suicide Bomber Strikes Shiite Pilgrims, 23 Dead and 60 Wounded

The bomber struck a group of faithful, headed to the mosque to celebrate the holy month of Muharram. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The Shiites were hit because they were “engaged in defiling the Prophet.” Other victims in two separate attacks in Karachi and Quetta. Fears of new violence.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) — At least 23 dead and about 60 wounded in an attack that targeted a procession in the city of Rawalpindi, Punjab; yesterday evening the suicide bomber targeted a group of Shiite Muslims directed towards the local mosque near the center. Also yesterday, the extremists launched another attack in the southern city of Karachi, killing two people (one bomb went off near another Shiite mosque), while five were killed in Quetta, where a bomb exploded. The series of attacks that has struck Pakistan comes amid celebrations for the holy month of Muharram-ul-Haram and on the eve of the feast of Ashura (the 10th day of the month of Muharram, which falls on November 24), which has particular significance for the Shia minority, which commemorates the death of Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, one of the pillars of the Shiite faith.

At first there appeared to be only ten victims of the attack in Rawalpindi, not far from the capital Islamabad. Police spokesman Deeba Shehnaz said that during the night “several people” have died in the hospital due to severe injuries.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, carried out by a suicide bomber who blew himself up near a checkpoint, set up by agents to ensure the safety of the Shiite pilgrims. The extremist leader — and spokesman of the movement — Ehsanullah Ehsan, contacted by AFP, said that members of the Muslim minority had been struck — the country has a large majority Sunni Muslim, ed — because they were “engaged in defiling the Prophet.”

In recent months, the attacks carried out by fundamentalist Sunnis against Shiites have grown exponentially. Karachi, in particular, is the scene of a long campaign of ethnic and sectarian violence that has ravaged the city and left hundreds dead. The explosion of a second bomb caused injuries to seven people, but did not lead to further casualties.

Also yesterday, a remote-controlled bomb exploded in Quetta, near a vehicle of the security forces who were escorting a bus carrying a group of children returning from school. Of the five victims, three were soldiers and two civilians; at least thirty persons were injured, some seriously.

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

Pakistan: Bike Riding, Parking Near Imambargahs, Mosques Banned

KARACHI: The Sindh government under Section 144 CrPC has imposed a ban on plying and parking of motorbike within half a kilometer from any imambargah and mosque or private place, where Muharram related gathering taking place. A handout issued here on Wednesday said that the ban had been imposed on following activities in the metropolis with immediate effect up to 10th Moharram-ul-Haram. “No motorcycle will be allowed to be plied and parked within half a kilometer of any imambargah, mosque, private place, where Muharram related gathering is taking place.” No motorcycle and two-wheeler shall be allowed to ply half a kilometer of any procession on Muharram routes. No motor vehicle will be allowed to be parked within one thousand yards of any imambargah. The ban may not apply to press, media persons, elderly, sick persons proceeding to seek medical treatment from hospital, members of law enforcing agencies/Police in uniforms and the residents of the area subject to verification by the police. The police officers from the rank of Assistant Sub-Inspector of relevant police station have been authorised to register the complaints under Section 188 PPC in writing for the violation of Section 144 CrPC against the violators of this order. app

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Singapore Muslims to Hold ‘Prayer for Peace in Gaza’

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Muslim community has been outspoken in its support for Palestinians in Gaza and are to hold a special “prayer for peace in Gaza” on Friday as part of their continued solidarity efforts. Mosques across Singapore will be making a special supplication for the victims of the conflict and for peace and normalcy to return swiftly to the lives of those affected by violence and natural disasters globally…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UN Unveils New Plan to Tackle Unrest in Burma

RANGOON — The United Nations on Wednesday announced a revised plan for addressing the humanitarian crisis in Burma’s western Rakhine state, after the nation’s president last week pledged to take action on behalf of those affected by the region’s ethnic sectarian conflict. The U.N. announced a significant increase in aid money needed for Rakhine state after renewed violence broke out there last month between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims. That revised plan requires $67.6 million to provide critical assistance for one year for 115,000 people displaced by the clashes. The U.N. said it has only received about $27 million so far…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East

Sea Dispute Lingers at ASEAN Summit

The ASEAN summit of Southeast Asian nations in Cambodia failed to resolve long-festering territorial disputes in the region’s resource-rich South China Sea, setting the stage for possible further conflict.

“Long live the bonds of friendship, solidarity and cooperation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and China!” read one of several large banners welcoming Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Phnom Penh.

China was the only country that Cambodia — its close ally — saluted in such a manner, as regional leaders poured into the capital this week for a series of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings, at which festering territorial disputes in the South China Sea again took center stage.

For years, the South China Sea — known to contain a wealth of untapped resources, from oil and gas, to important minerals — has been a source of friction between ASEAN countries and China, which asserts ownership over a large portion of the sea.

China, Taiwan and ASEAN members Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei also claim sometimes overlapping parts of the sea, where clashes and standoffs between rival claimants have escalated in recent months.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Immigration

Immigration Chiefs Accused of Misleading Parliament After ‘Devastating’ Report Exposes UK Border Agency Incompetence and Inefficiency

Immigration chiefs were last night accused of misleading Parliament after a “devastating” report exposed a catalogue of incompetence and inefficiency at the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Efforts to trace tens of thousands of asylum seekers were abandoned after minimal efforts to find them and despite promises to MPs that “exhaustive checks” would be carried out, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration concluded. Last night the Commons home affairs select committee said it was summoning Rob Wightman, the UKBA chief executive, to “check every fact and figure he has given us”. The UKBA operation was so inept that more than 150 boxes contained letters from asylum applicants, their lawyers and MPs piled up in an office in Liverpool without even being opened. At one point the agency had accumulated a backlog of more than 100,000 letters that it had not read…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Police Stop Italian Woman From Marrying Moroccan Man

Wedding arranged to help man avoid expulsion as papers expired

(ANSA) — Sutri, November 21 — Carabinieri police on Wednesday stopped a 35-year-old Italian woman from going through with an “arranged” marriage with a younger Moroccan man whose residence permit was about to expire.

The woman had agreed to marry the man so he could begin the process of obtaining Italian citizenship and not face expulsion, according to investigators.

The man and two “friends” allegedly involved in the arranging of the marriage — an Italian and a person of north African origin — were arrested.

According to investigators, it was the friends who persuaded the woman, who has psychological problems, to accept the arranged marriage.

The woman was said to have been under intense pressure and had been promised a “dowry” of 500 euros if she agreed to the marriage.

Police stopped proceedings just as the civil wedding had begun in Sutri, a small town in the province of Viterbo, some 60km northwest of Rome.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

An Angry Black Man

We are in a culture war and more and more are beginning to realize it.

Like millions of Americans, my heart is broken for my country. Years of liberals indoctrinating our kids K thru college and liberal bias in the media have created a wasteland of dumb-down idiot voters. Far too many Americans are clueless to the greatness of our republic and the extraordinary cost and value of freedom which is our God given birth-right.

I am angry over the willful ignorance and racism of black America. During an interview on the “Inside Detroit” radio program, I informed black liberal host Mildred Gaddis that gas was $1.84 when Obama took office. UKPKmIa1rug Mildred rejected this fact. I begged her to research it. Mildred said you can not believe everything on the internet. Mildred also rejected the truth that Obama supports abortion and that half of black babies are aborted. Mildred rejected various easily confirmed truths about Obama’s destructive leadership — I am talking willful ignorance. As far as Mildred and her listeners were concerned, Obama’s skin-color automatically made him worthy of their vote.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Madonna ‘Gay Rights’ Battle Gets Under Way in Russia

She is one of the world’s most provocative pop stars, but now Madonna could pay the price for interfering with Russian politics.

A £6.6 million ($10.5m) court claim is beginning today against the singer over her support for gay rights during an August concert in St. Petersburg.

A law passed in the city earlier this year makes it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors.

The lawsuit, brought by a group of activists, orders the singer to explain her comments during the show when she urged the crowd: ‘Show your love and appreciation to the gay community. We want to fight for the right to be free.’

Performing in black lingerie with the words ‘No Fear’ scrawled on her back.

The activists are seeking ‘moral damages’ from the star.

The complaint includes a video taken at the concert showing Madonna stomping on an Orthodox cross and asking fans to raise their hands to show the pink armbands in support of gays and lesbians that were distributed among the audience.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Rejoice! The Rejection of Female Bishops is a Wonderful Day for Christendom

by Thomas Pascoe

Hallelujah! Rejoice! The progressive instinct which has brought the Christian churches to their knees in the West over the last century has at last been stymied. Not, of course, stymied by the priesthood, but by a laity which has had enough of seeing Christian dogma play second fiddle to the demented social engineering foisted on the church by a secular world which holds it in contempt…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

General

Mars is Safe From Radiation — But the Trip There Isn’t

You needn’t fry on Mars. Readings from NASA’s Curiosity rover suggest radiation levels on the Red Planet are about the same as those in low Earth orbit, where astronauts hang out for months on the International Space Station. A Mars visit would still be dangerous though, due to the years-long return trip.

Unlike Earth, Mars has no magnetosphere shielding it from solar and galactic radiation. But it does have a thin atmosphere, and readings from two of Curiosity’s instruments suggest this provides some protection.

“This is the first ever measurement of the radiation environment on any planet other than Earth,” Curiosity team member Don Hassler said at a press briefing on 15 November. “Astronauts can live in this environment.”

The rover’s weather station recorded evidence of what is known as a thermal tide on Mars. Sunlight heats the planet’s atmosphere on the side facing the sun, causing it to expand upwards and triggering a decrease in air pressure. But things chill quickly on the other side, so that the atmosphere deflates and becomes denser.

As Mars rotates, the bulge of heated air travels with the “day” side from east to west. Curiosity feels this effect as changes in air pressure over the course of a Martian day, rover scientist Claire Newman of Ashima Research in California said during the briefing.

Radiation shield

At the same time, the rover’s radiation monitor saw daily dips in charged particles that match the increases in air pressure that come with a denser atmosphere. “The atmosphere is acting as a shield to radiation,” Hassler said.

The scientists were not ready to put numbers to the daily radiation dose people would experience on Mars. But the overall levels are lower than those the spacecraft carrying Curiosity recorded during its interplanetary flight, and about what astronauts see on the ISS.

“It’s roughly what we were expecting,” astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell of University College London told New Scientist.

The biggest threat to Mars voyagers would be the cumulative radiation exposure during the long trip. NASA estimates that a return human mission to Mars would take three years. During that time astronauts might receive more than seven times the radiation dose they get during six months on the ISS.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Wistrich: “Antisemitism is a Widening Syndrome”

Muller: Why do you think so many leftists are pro-Islamist today?

Wistrich: The Western Left and the Islamists both share the myth that Israel is a “white,” Western, and colonial intrusion in the Middle East. They both have embraced a radically distorted view of Palestinians as defenseless “Jews,” downtrodden, and ruthlessly abused by fascist Israelis. Behind this demonic imagery there is an antisemitic view of Israel and America as twin embodiments of capitalist-imperialist evil. Needless to say, this mythology is totally disconnected from empirical reality. Muller: In light of current trends, do you see any future for European Jewry? If you were living here, would you stay or go? Wistrich: I personally believe that the long-term future of European Jewry is bleak. I would not wish to decide for European Jews what future they should choose, but I am convinced that the land of Israel is the only possible spiritual and political homeland for the Jewish people. Let us also remember that it was in the city of Basel that Theodor Herzl first proclaimed to the wider Jewish and Gentile world in 1897 the birth of modern Zionism. In his diary he prophesied that within fifty years a Jewish State would inevitably arise. Many people at the time dismissed him as a charlatan or a dreamer. But his prophecy came true and for that we should be thankful.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>