News Feed 20130112

Financial Crisis
» Italians Lowering Food Standards as Recession Bites
» Italy: Berlusconi Proposes Employer Tax Exemptions on Young Hires
» Moody’s Knocks Cyprus Credit to Junk Status
» One of the Biggest and Most Elaborate Falsehoods Ever Sold to the American Public (The Bank Bailouts)
» The Federal Government Hands Out Money to 128 Million Americans Every Month
 
USA
» 18 Facts That Prove That Piers Morgan is Flat Out Lying About Gun Control
» Andrew P. Napolitano: The Right to Shoot Tyrants, Not Deer
» Brady Campaign Targets Gun Shows
» Democrat Bolshevism
» DHS Source Confirms Alex Was Being Stalked
» Fairbanks Militia Leader Sentenced to 26 Years in Prison, Apologizes
» How to End the “Gun Debate” Forever
» Illinois Government Wants Gold Registration
» Indiana Bill Would Make the Implementation of “Obamacare” A Felony
» Instagram Loses Nearly Half Its Daily Users in a Month After Backlash Over Failed Bid to Win Right to Sell Users’ Photos to Advertisers
» Judge Okays Group Prayers for Muslim Inmates in Indiana
» Liberals and Hollywood Liberate Satanist Murderers of Children
» Obama Says U. S. Close to Eliminating Al Qaeda
» Obama Executive Orders on Guns Would Spark Mass Resistance
» Patients and Physician Practice Under Obamacare
» Pennsylvania State Police Launch New App to Help Fight Terrorism
» Porn Companies Sue to Overturn Los Angeles Condom Law
» Psychiatric Drugs: The Giant, Gaping Hole in Sandy Hook Reporting
» Utah Town Makes Arming Every Household a Top Priority
» When Only Tyrants Have Guns
» Where Does the Hatred of Constitutionalism Come From?
» White House is Wrong: First Amendment Doesn’t Protect Piers Morgan From Deportation
» Why Are Rice Cookers and Fridges Fitted With Internet Connections and Android OS?
» Why You Are Powerless Against the Government
» Wyoming Bill Would Nullify Obama Gun Control, Jail Feds
 
Europe and the EU
» Algeria Winning in War Against Illiteracy
» Brent Police: UK — The Top 20 Most Wanted
» Depardieu Reiterates He Remains a Frenchman
» EU Court Opens Hearings Into Genoa G8 Brutality
» Italian House Prices See Third Straight Fall
» Italian Researchers Identify Cholesterol-Fighting Cheese
» Italy: Soccer: Pro Patria Get Stadium Ban for Racist Fans
» Italy: Monti Approval Rating -8% After Entering Election Race
» Italy: Centre-Left Coalition Retains Lead, Opinion Poll
» Italy: Priapus Statue ‘A Bit of Fun’, Says Pianist at Ruby Trial
» Italy: Berlusconi Aide Was ‘Mafia’s Ambassador’ in Party — Ingroia
» Italy: Berlusconi Feels ‘Anti-Political’, ‘Anointed by the People’
» Italy: Rubbish Emergency in Calabria Shows No Sign of Abating
» Italy: Lazio Region Appeals to High Court to Save Rubbish Plan
» Larry Pratt: British Gun Crime Stats Are a “Sham”
» Scotland: Dundee Businessman Jailed for Multimillion Pound VAT Fraud
» UK: Drug Dealer Used Unemployment Benefits to Make 24,000 Mobile Phone Calls to Sell Heroin and Crack
» UK: Jimmy Savile Spent ‘Every Waking Minute’ Thinking About Abusing Boys and Girls
» UK: Police Report Into Savile Reveals 60 Years of Abuse, 34 Raped, Up to 450 Sexually Assaulted
» UK: Ranks of the Socialist Workers Party Are Split Over Handling of Rape Allegation
» UK: SWP’s Tom Walker: Why I Am Resigning
» Why Depardieu: The Rich and the Poor Flee France and Hollande
 
Mediterranean Union
» Rome Tripoli’s Top Trade Partner, Wants Security
 
North Africa
» Tunisia: Pilgrimages: Strong Arm Cabinet-Travel Agencies
 
Middle East
» Syrian Rebels Claim Capture of Strategic Military Base
» Syria’s Rebels Form Own Secret Police
 
Russia
» Egyptian Man Urinates Into Eternal Flame in Russia’s Volgograd
 
South Asia
» Afghan Taliban Welcome US ‘Zero Option’ On Troops
» Italy: Indian Man Orders a Gold Shirt for New Year
 
Far East
» China is Massively Boosting Stockpiles of Rice, Iron Ore, Precious Metals, Dry Milk
» Japan to Provide the Philippines With Ten Vessels to Patrol South China Sea
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» France Displays Unhinged Hypocrisy as Bombs Fall on Mali
» Raid to Free Hostage Secret Agent Fails, Say Islamists
» Two French Helicopters Brought Down in Mali
» U. S Supports French Military Intervention in Mali
 
Latin America
» Amid Federal Land Grab in Brazil, Whole Towns Evicted at Gunpoint
» Argentina’s Kirchner Visits Chavez in Cuba
 
Immigration
» Border Patrol Opens Unmanned Crossing on U.S.-Mexico Border
» Istanbul: Smuggler Capital for EU-Bound Migrants
» Italy: Catholic Bishops Support Citizenship for Immigrants’ Kids
» Souleiman: Solicitor’s Firm in Sham Marriage Scam
 
Culture Wars
» Can America Survive if Americans No Longer Agree on a Core Set of Shared Values?
» Italy’s Supreme Court Says Gays Can Have Custody of Children
» Self-Esteem Fad Harms Student Achievement; Teaching Self-Esteem is Misguided
» Why Americans Cannot Discipline Their Children
 
General
» Wood From Land Feeds Deep Sea Life

Financial Crisis

Italians Lowering Food Standards as Recession Bites

Over one-third shopping at discount grocery stores

(ANSA) — Rome, January 4 — More and more Italians are shopping at discount food stores, lowering traditionally high quality standards as a recession drags on, a report said Friday.

According to national farmers’ group CIA, 34% of Italian families say they shop at low-cost grocery stores, while 28% say they do so exclusively. CIA said that six out of 10 families had to adjust their food-consumption habits in 2012, and 50% significantly cut down on grocery expenses.

The group was responding to data Friday from statistics agency Istat, which showed Italy’s annual inflation rate for 2012 was 3.0%, the highest since 2008, on the basis of preliminary estimates. The so-called ‘trolley’ of most frequently bought goods like groceries and petrol also hit a post-2008 high, of 4.3%, Istat said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Proposes Employer Tax Exemptions on Young Hires

‘It’s like paying under the table’ says ex-premier

(ANSA) — Rome, January 9 — Former premier Silvio Berlusconi proposed exempting Italian employers from paying social security contributions and taxes for young hires on Wednesday. “We need to do something exceptional,” he told Italian television. “We have four million companies in Italy. We could tell them, if you hire just one extra person on a long-term contract you won’t pay social security contributions and taxes for three, four, five years.

“It’s like paying someone under the table”. Berlusconi, who was forced to resign in November 2011 amid a peak in the country’s debt crisis, is currently campaigning to return to government in Italy, where youth unemployment is soaring.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Moody’s Knocks Cyprus Credit to Junk Status

Credit rating agency Moody’s has downgraded Cyprus’s rating by three notches to junk status as negotiations continue on an EU bailout. It cited ongoing Cypriot government support for ailing local banks as the main reason for the downgrade to Caa3 on Thursday (10 January).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

One of the Biggest and Most Elaborate Falsehoods Ever Sold to the American Public (The Bank Bailouts)

The bailout was, as David Stockman says, a Wall Street crisis. The bankers all freaked out when their bets turned terrible, and then played the information leverage game with Washington to get the tax payers to pay for their mistakes. They basically said that the entire economy was going down (it wasn’t) and therefore an unprecedented abandonment of what was left of our market based economy was justified. It was a giant con.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Federal Government Hands Out Money to 128 Million Americans Every Month

The number of Americans receiving money directly from the federal government has grown from 94 million in the year 2000 to over 128 million today. A shocking new research paper by Patrick Tyrrell and William W. Beach contains that statistic and a whole bunch of other very revealing numbers. According to their research, the federal government hands out money to 41.3 percent of the entire population of the United States each month. Overall, more than 70 percent of all federal spending goes to what they call “dependence-creating programs”. It is the most massive wealth redistribution scheme in the history of the world, and it continues to grow at a very rapid pace with each passing month. But can we really afford this? Of course we never want to see a single person go without food to eat or a roof to sleep under, but can the federal government really afford to support 128 million Americans every month? If millions more Americans keep jumping on to the “safety net” each year, how long will it be before it breaks and it is not there for anyone? The federal government is already drowning in debt. This year the U.S. national debt will easily blow past the 17 trillion dollar mark and we are rapidly heading toward financial oblivion. We are stealing more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day with no end in sight. If we don’t get our finances in order as a nation, what will the end result be?

According to Tyrrell and Beach, federal spending on entitlement programs has been rising more than 6 times as fast as population growth has in recent years…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

USA

18 Facts That Prove That Piers Morgan is Flat Out Lying About Gun Control

Piers Morgan is getting on television every night and flat out lying to the American people about gun control. Nearly every statistic that he quotes is inaccurate and he fails to acknowledge a whole host of statistics that would instantly invalidate the arguments that he is trying to make. Yes, the UK has a lower gun murder rate than the United States does, but what Piers Morgan fails to tell you is that the overall rate of violent crime in the UK is about 4 times higher than it is in the United States. A woman in the UK is not allowed pull out a gun to protect herself against a gang of potential rapists. So perhaps that explains why the UK has about 125 percent more rape victims per 100,000 people than the United States does.

While UK newspapers are declaring that the UK has become the “violent crime capital of Europe”, crime rates in the United States have actually fallen dramatically over the past 20 years. This was also a time period during which gun laws became much less restrictive in the United States. Today, murder rates in the U.S. are generally far higher in cities that have very strict gun control laws (such as Chicago) than they are for the general population. The cold, hard numbers make it clear that when there are more guns there is less crime, but hardcore leftists such as Piers Morgan are absolutely obsessed with gun control and Morgan continues to relentlessly attack the 2nd Amendment night after night. We need to start pointing out that he is not telling the truth.

The following are 18 facts that prove that Piers Morgan is flat out lying about gun control…

[…]

Meanwhile, radical leftists are introducing gun grabbing legislation in legislatures all over the United States. [url]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Andrew P. Napolitano: The Right to Shoot Tyrants, Not Deer

The right of the people to keep and bear arms is an extension of the natural right to self-defense and a hallmark of personal sovereignty. It is specifically insulated from governmental interference by the Constitution and has historically been the linchpin of resistance to tyranny. Yet the progressives in both political parties stand ready to use the coercive power of the government to interfere with the exercise of that right by law-abiding persons because of the gross abuse of that right by some crazies in our midst.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, he was marrying the nation at its birth to the ancient principles of the natural law that have animated the Judeo-Christian tradition in the West. Those principles have operated as a brake on all governments that recognize them by enunciating the concept of natural rights.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Brady Campaign Targets Gun Shows

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the nation’s leading gun control groups, said on Friday that it wanted the White House to focus its attention on expanded background checks for gun buyers as part of a broad push to reduce gun violence in the wake of the school attack in Connecticut last month.

The group made the recommendations this week to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and plans to release them publicly Friday afternoon. The Times obtained a copy of the document, which stresses that “closing the massive hole in the background check” system is the group’s top policy priority.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Democrat Bolshevism

We are in the midst of a modern proletarian revolution.

Make no mistake People, we are in the midst of a modern proletarian revolution.

President [Commandante?] Obama does not use this term though, does he? Obama has termed this revolution a “Fundamental Transformation of America.” The Obama cult of personality, and his subservient “congressional lieutenants,” Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and the Progressive Democrat Party are implementing a social and political revolution. Unlike most American fears of secret subversion, the Obama Bolsheviks are doing this out in the open and pretending all the while to be democratic. But do not be fooled. There is nothing here but deception and nothing democratic here but Democratic Centralism. Their means justify their ends.

Within his proletarian revolution Obama cleverly uses the terms “Middle Class” and “the Wealthy” [or rich Americans] because he knows that the term “Working Class” and “Bourgeoisie” are unacceptable. But let’s cut to the chase. Here is their grand plan in one sentence. The Progressive Democrat Working Class is working toward and succeeding in overthrowing the “Bourgeoisie Fat Cats” [have we not heard the term fat cats?]. Proletarian revolutions are all but certainly advocated by committed Socialists, Communists and Anarchists. Communists are not Democrats Anarchists are not Libertarians … so what is going on?

In social and political terms, bourgeoisie, and the adjective bourgeois, are terms made famous by Karl Marx to describe property owners, businessmen and entrepreneurs, and the otherwise prosperous persons of “social class.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

DHS Source Confirms Alex Was Being Stalked

Both before and after the appearance on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight Monday, Alex and Infowars video producer Rob Dew knew they were being followed and that people seemed to be casing them around New York City.

“Bumper lock him. Make it obvious. Do whatever you can, just make sure he knows. Handle him as a hostile.”

Those were the instructions reportedly given to federal agents who were assigned to follow Alex Jones during his visit to New York, according to a DHS source with information about the surveillance operation. “It was done to intimidate, no question,” stated this DHS source. “I don’t know how many [agents] were assigned to him and another fellow traveling with him, but I know that there was co-ordination between federal agencies and a private security concern. I’ve learned that the assignment originated from pretty high up and was approved at multiple levels. This was supposed to be ‘off the books,’ no records and there was to be complete denial if confronted,” stated this source. He added that he was unsure if any of the surveillance operatives were working for the city of New York, but stated that “it wouldn’t surprise me. There’s a pretty close relationship at that level between agencies.”

After being alerted to his appearance with Piers Morgan, I contacted my “DHS insider” for his comments and overall assessment. I was neither surprised nor shocked at what I learned. According to my source, Mr. Jones’ itinerary was known in advance and surveillance was established accordingly. The surveillance operatives were working in three-man teams, with as many as nine operatives assigned [to him] at any given time. Video surveillance was involved, and there were instructions to secure any video that could be used to marginalize or embarrass him, with the specific intent to assail his credibility as well as to harass him. It’s my understanding that they were also trying to bait him,“ stated this source.

It’s important to be clear that I have not spoken to Mr. Jones or anyone who accompanied him to New York since our last interview. That said, I was instructed to ask Mr. Jones about an incident that either happened or was supposed to happen — an attempt at a physical confrontation in front of (or near) a Starbucks near the studio. “According to the information I have, it was supposed to be a stated incident that might have involved a woman that would result in some type of physical confrontation. I am unaware whether the situation was ultimately set up or attempted, but it’s purpose was designed to secure video of Mr. Jones [possibly pushing a woman],” stated this source. “He is thought to have a violent temper and could be ‘baited,’“ he added.

“Things are not always as they appear,” added my source. Indeed.

Alex isn’t the only Second Amendment advocate that’s been targeted.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Fairbanks Militia Leader Sentenced to 26 Years in Prison, Apologizes

U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan sentenced Schaeffer Cox, 28, during a two-hour hearing at U.S. District Court in Anchorage.

Cox’s sentence came a day after another foot soldier in the Alaska Peacekeepers Militia, 57-year-old Lonnie Vernon, received the same sentence.

Before he was sentenced, Cox broke down several times, grabbing tissues and fighting back tears.

“I put myself here, with my own words,” he said before pausing. “And I feel horrible about that.”

Cox came to the attention of the FBI in late 2009 after speeches in Montana that claimed the Fairbanks militia had 3,500 members and was armed with mines and other military weapons. But the group only had about a dozen members and, as Bryan noted, never trained for military duty.

As the investigation unfolded over more than a year, the FBI eventually used an informant to infiltrate the group. He recorded more than 100 hours of conversations.

Cox’s attorney Nelson Traverso claimed during the trial that the case was an overreach by prosecutors and an attempt to silence Cox and his offensive but protected speech.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

How to End the “Gun Debate” Forever

Despite both nations being disarmed and having almost no “gun-related homicides,” according to UN statistics, Japan and the UK still have an astronomical gap in homicide rates. Why? A visit to either country reveals an entirely different culture, education system, infrastructure, and socioeconomic paradigm. This is why despite Japan having a much larger population, even total homicides are lower than the comparatively more violent but less populated United Kingdom — with homicide rates in the UK nearly 3 times higher than those in Japan.

According to the UN’s study, which includes the most recent annual data available, Japan, with a population of roughly 130 million, had a mere 506 homicides over the stretch of a single year. Conversely, the UK, with less than half of Japan’s population (53 million) had 722 homicides. The rates per 100,000 people for Japan and the UK are 0.4 and 1.2 respectively. The UK, despite being an unarmed population, and having virtually no gun violence, still has 3 times the murder rate than the nation of Japan. Those that are murdered in the UK or Japan, are just as dead as any human being murdered by a gun in the United States. And clearly, this indicates that the presence of guns, or their banning, is not a significant factor driving homicides and violence.

The human capacity to commit violence is not incumbered by a lack of means to do so. Banning certain implements will not deter an individual, or group of individuals from harming others if that is their intent. As the UK’s disarmed but still violent society illustrates, merely banning guns is not the solution. The differences between Japan and the UK are not legal — but socioeconomic and cultural. In the UK, violence in general is the problem. A focus on the implements rather than the factors that drive it, is like treating a cancer by nursing the symptoms. It is a logical fallacy — and ultimately a fatal one.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Illinois Government Wants Gold Registration

Prior to the failure of the Illinois legislature to force citizens to register outlawed firearms, the state moved to place restrictions on the sale of gold.

In 2012, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Precious Metal Purchasing Act. SB3341 states that a person who is in the business of purchasing precious metal shall obtain a proof of ownership, create a record of the sale, and verify the identity of the seller. Provides that a person who is in the business of purchasing precious metal shall not pay for the precious metal in cash and shall record the method of payment. (Emphasis added.)

In a CNBC video, Rick Santelli ties the floundering legislation to FDR’s 1933 Executive Order 6102 confiscating gold and setting the stage for Richard Nixon severing the connection between gold and the dollar in 1971.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Indiana Bill Would Make the Implementation of “Obamacare” A Felony

SB 0230 would amend the Indiana Code concerning state and local administration. The text of the bill simply states:

“Provides that any federal act, order, law, rule, regulation, or statute found by the general assembly to be inconsistent with the power granted to the federal government in the Constitution of the United States is void in Indiana. Provides that a resident of Indiana has a cause of action to enjoin the enforcement or implementation or the attempted enforcement or implementation of a federal act, order, law, rule, regulation, or statute declared void by the general assembly. Provides that a plaintiff who prevails in such an action is entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Instagram Loses Nearly Half Its Daily Users in a Month After Backlash Over Failed Bid to Win Right to Sell Users’ Photos to Advertisers

Facebook’s ill-fated purchase of Instagram stumbles from one disaster to the next after new figures revealed that the photo-sharing service has lost almost 50 per cent of its daily users in less than a month.

The dramatic drop in traffic has been attributed to an attempt made before Christmas to introduce new terms and conditions which sparked an outcry from users including celebrities such as Kim Kardashian.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Judge Okays Group Prayers for Muslim Inmates in Indiana

(Reuters) — John Walker Lindh, known as the “American Taliban,” and other Muslims housed in an Indiana prison have the right to congregate for daily group prayer sessions, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

The decision by officials at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, to ban daily group prayers for Muslim inmates violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson said.

The ruling came in a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of Lindh, who was captured in Afghanistan and imprisoned in the United States after the September 11, 2001, attacks, and two other Muslim inmates.

The case was argued before Magnus-Stinson last August.

Prison officials cited security reasons for prohibiting inmates from getting together five times a day for unsupervised ritual prayer services.

But the court noted that the prisoners were not otherwise confined to their cells during these times and were permitted to engage in other group activities such as talking, watching videos and playing games.

The judge also said the prison had sophisticated audio and video surveillance equipment in place for monitoring prisoner activities.

Magnus-Stinson gave the prison warden 60 days to come up with a new policy for Muslim prayer.

Lindh, who was born in the United States, has been in prison since 2002. He pleaded guilty to supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony.

Lindh is currently considered a low-security risk among the prison population, according to court documents. He is allowed to play contact sports and cards, and to watch television and movies, including Muslim videos in Arabic, the ruling said.

           — Hat tip: LS [Return to headlines]

Liberals and Hollywood Liberate Satanist Murderers of Children

The liberal establishment rode to the rescue of three confirmed satanists convicted of murdering three children.

Hollywood continues to spew agitprop. Instead of exposing the truth, it normalizes Satanism by portraying ritual murderers as persecuted victim-heroes. Thus evil becomes good and good is evil. Welcome to the NWO.

Unfortunately, the narrative presented by the convicted murderers and their supporters is a lie. Voluminous evidence compiled by the Arkansas police and court system points directly to the West Memphis Three as the perpetrators. Not only did each one of the guilty confess at different times, Jesse Misskelley confessed four times to legal authorities. These confessions by Misskelley contained details about the murders known only to persons at the crime scene.

[Return to headlines]

Obama Says U. S. Close to Eliminating Al Qaeda

(AGI) — Washington — The United States is closer to achieving its final objective of eliminating Al Qaeda completely. Barack Obama made the announcement in a joint press conference with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

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

Obama Executive Orders on Guns Would Spark Mass Resistance

As the Obama administration openly vows to use unconstitutional “executive orders” to further infringe on the right to keep and bear arms, gun rights activists, members of the law enforcement community, military personnel and others are pledging to resist. Everything from an armed uprising and nationwide civil disobedience to legal means of resistance like the courts and nullification is being openly discussed online and even in the establishment media.

“The president is going to act,” pledged Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading an administration task force to further restrict gun rights in the wake of the Newtown massacre. “Executive order, executive action can be taken, we haven’t decided what that is yet. But we’re compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members, as well as legislative action we believe is required.”

The Constitution, of course, reserves all legislative powers to Congress — not to mention the specific prohibition against infringements on gun rights contained in the Second Amendment. But disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder, who is helping develop the “executive action” plot, was caught in the 1990s on video calling for a tax-funded campaign to “brainwash” people against guns. He was also held in criminal contempt of Congress for lying about Operation Fast and Furious, which saw the Justice Department providing thousands of powerful guns to Mexican drug cartels through the ATF.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Patients and Physician Practice Under Obamacare

As if health care was not undergoing enough fundamental transformation in this country, Democrats are now attacking the profits that hospitals and doctors make in the delivery of their services. Why should doctors and hospitals make obscene profits or any profits at all? An article in The New York Times, “Health Care and Profits, a Poor Mix,” by Eduardo Porter, claims that nonprofits (hospitals and clinics) deliver better care.

“There is really is no such thing as a nonprofit. A nonprofit is an organization that claims on its books at the end of every year that it didn’t make any money.” But the people that work at nonprofits score like bandits. The low-information voter thinks nonprofits are people sacrificing for the common good and they’re not burning any money and they’re not getting rich.” (Rush Limbaugh, January 9, 2012 broadcast)

“Our track record suggests that handing over responsibility for social goals to private enterprise is providing us with social goods of lower quality, distributed more inequitably and at a higher cost than if government delivered or paid for them directly.” (Eduardo Porter)

The crux of the New York Times article is that we should not rely on the private sector at all to satisfy “broad social needs” like health care delivery, we should allow the federal government to do it all because it can do it better. Obamacare, with its government-run exchanges, will show us soon enough how well the feds are delivering health care. The health care insurance will be enforced and wayward citizens penalized by the vigilant 16,000 IRS agents. A 15-member death panel will be tasked with approving and denying care and procedures.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pennsylvania State Police Launch New App to Help Fight Terrorism

A new smartphone application has been developed to help the Pennsylvania State Police receive reports regarding suspicious activity that may be linked to terrorism.

The new See Something, Send Something app allows suspicious activity to be captured as a photo or written note and sent to the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center (PaCIC).

“This App provides concerned citizens with an effective communications and reporting tool,” State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. “The See Something, Send Something mobile app, developed by My Mobile Witness, sends terrorism-related tips directly to PaCIC where tips are evaluated by analysts and assigned for investigation as warranted,” Noonan said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Porn Companies Sue to Overturn Los Angeles Condom Law

Two major US porn companies have taken legal action to try to overturn a law requiring porn actors in Los Angeles County to wear condoms.

Vivid Entertainment and Califa Productions say the measure violates the guarantee of free speech in the US constitution’s First Amendment.

The law, known as Measure B, was approved by voters in November.

The measure was supported by the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which said it would shield actors from HIV.

“Overturning this law is something I feel very passionate about,” Steven Hirsch, founder of the Vivid Entertainment, told AFP news agency.

“I believe the industry’s current testing system works well,” he added.

Porn actors Kayden Kross and Logan Pierce are joining the challenge against the law.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Psychiatric Drugs: The Giant, Gaping Hole in Sandy Hook Reporting

Since last month’s horrifying and heartbreaking school massacre in Newtown, Conn., politicians and the press have, as everyone knows, been totally obsessed with firearms.

[…]

But where, I’d like to ask my colleagues in the media, is the reporting about the psychiatric medications the perpetrator — who had been under treatment for mental-health problems — may have been taking? After all, Mark and Louise Tambascio, family friends of the shooter and his mother, were interviewed on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” during which Louise Tambascio told correspondent Scott Pelley: “I know he was on medication and everything, but she homeschooled him at home cause he couldn’t deal with the school classes sometimes, so she just homeschooled Adam at home. And that was her life.” And here, Tambascio tells ABC News, “I knew he was on medication, but that’s all I know.”

It has been more than three weeks since the shooting. We know all about the guns he used, but what “medication” may he have used?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Utah Town Makes Arming Every Household a Top Priority

Officials in a small Utah town want to make sure every head of household has a firearm and knows how to use it, and they want to give school teachers training with guns too.

Spring City Councilman Neil Sorensen first proposed an ordinance requiring a gun in every household in the town of 1,000. The rest of the council scoffed at making it a requirement, but they unanimously agreed to move forward with an ordinance “recommending” the idea.

The council also approved funding to offer concealed firearms training Friday to the 20 teachers and administrators at the local elementary school.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

When Only Tyrants Have Guns

The gullible that rely on emotion rather than logic are easy prey for such opportunists as Bloomberg, Dianne Feinstein, Eric Holder and of course Barack Hussein Obama. Governmental anti-gun types are shameless in their efforts to exploit a tide of mindless emotionalism by advocating what they euphemistically refer to as “sensible gun laws”. While they bend over backwards attempting to sell their notions as “sensible,” there is nothing sensible about it. To these control freaks, the only solution to gun shootings is to disarm the law abiding. Take for example Obama’s flippant response to the NRA’s idea of posting armed guards in schools:

[…]

Here’s the dirty little secret — for all their hysterical anti-gun rhetoric, the gun grabbers really don’t care about saving lives — what they care about is power. They use tragedies like Sandy Hook to pursue their real goal, which is to disarm American citizens. They attempt to disguise their real intents, and in some cases even give lip service to the second amendment. One especially comedic example is that of John Kerry, who during his unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign went on a photo-op “hunting” trip, complete with camos in order to show he supports “hunters”. Understand — and this is a crucial point — the second amendment isn’t about “hunting.” It never has been. The fact is that the right to bear arms was put into place by the founders as a means of protecting the citizens from tyranny. That is why would-be governmental gun grabbers hate that pesky second amendment. An armed populace is the one thing standing between them and what they want — an omnipotent central government accountable to no one and free to impose its will on a defenseless public. Sound harsh? Consider the gun policies of Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse Tung and think again…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Where Does the Hatred of Constitutionalism Come From?

The Constitution of the United States is an undeniably powerful document. So powerful in fact, that it took establishment elitists with aspirations of globalized governance over a century to diminish the American people’s connection to it. It’s been a long time coming, but in the new millennium, there is now indeed a subsection of the masses that not only have no relationship to our founding roots, they actually despise those of us who do!

There are a number of reasons for this dangerous development in our culture: A public school system that rarely if ever teaches children about the revolution, the founders, constitutional liberty, or the virtues of individualism in general. A mainstream media apparatus that has regurgitated endless anti-constitutional shlock for decades, attacking any person or group that presents a freedom oriented view. And a governmental structure that has become so corrupt, so openly criminal, that they ignore all aspects of constitutional law without regard, rarely feeling the need to explain themselves. As a people, we are surrounded daily by the low droning wash-talk of denigration and disdain for our principled foundations. The wretched ghosts of collectivism and tyranny mumble in our ears from birth to death. It’s truly a miracle that every man and woman in this nation has not succumbed to the mind numbing hypnotism…

However, our propaganda soaked environment is not the ONLY cause of our self destructive society; many people are themselves to blame. Severe character flaws and psychological imbalances have left some open to suggestion, manipulation, and fraud. Their hatred, though fueled in part by the socialization of the establishment, is still theirs to own.

The brutal ignorance on display in mainstream circles against the liberty-minded needs to be addressed. In my view, the American public is being conditioned to see us as a convenient “enemy” which they can use to project all their internal grief and woe. Our country is on the verge of collapse, economically, politically, and philosophically. Corporatized elements of our government and the financial high priests of the international banking sector are behind this calamity, and of course, they don’t plan to take responsibility. Who better to demonize as the catalyst for all the pain that is coming than the only people who have the awareness and the means to stand against the catastrophe?

[Comment: Great article.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

White House is Wrong: First Amendment Doesn’t Protect Piers Morgan From Deportation

White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a factually incorrect response Wednesday to the White House petition to deport British-born CNN host Piers Morgan, wrongly claiming that Morgan, who has launched repeated televised attacks on the Second Amendment, is protected from deportation by the First Amendment.

Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto explained on Twitter December 22 [url] the legal precedent that prevents Morgan from citing the First Amendment to protect his status in the United States:

“Your opinion is protected, your presence in the U.S. is not. See Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972),” Taranto replied to Morgan.

Taranto linked to transcripts from a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to allow a foreign journalist into the United States did not violate the First Amendment. The case resulted from Nixon administration attorney general Richard Kleindienst’s refusal to grant a temporary nonimmigrant visa to Marxist Belgian journalist Ernest Mandel.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why Are Rice Cookers and Fridges Fitted With Internet Connections and Android OS?

Bloomberg today carries a report that details how seemingly innocuous electrical appliances such as rice cookers and refrigerators are now being manufactured with Google’s Android operating system and an internet connection.

Of course, the article suggests this is a good thing, a helpful, innovative technological leap. The truth, however, is that gadgets have now become tools for spying on you in your own home.

George Orwell was merely scratching the surface with telescreens — the 21st century home as a surveillance hub will outstrip anything you read about in 1984. From dishwashers to light bulbs, so-called “smart homes” will allow industry and the government to spy ubiquitously on every aspect of your existence.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why You Are Powerless Against the Government

Have you ever felt powerless? That no matter what you do it just won’t make ANY difference. You cast your vote for people to represent your best wishes but are repeatedly let down. What can you possibly do? This is a great video from Larken Rose that clarifies the problem that we face today in our economy. It is a situation that is just too weird for 99.99% of the people to adequately explain. No commentary is needed.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Wyoming Bill Would Nullify Obama Gun Control, Jail Feds

As the Obama administration plots various assaults on gun rights by “executive order” and legislation, proposals described as “very extreme” even by some Democrats, state lawmakers in Wyoming have another idea. Republican legislators are rallying behind nullification legislation that would void unconstitutional infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, even providing prison time for any federal agents who may try to enforce Washington, D.C., gun control in the state. Lawmakers expect it to pass.

The new bill, H.B. 0104 or the “Firearms Protection Act,” would nullify any new federal infringements on the constitutionally protected gun rights of state residents — who enjoy some of the lowest crime rates while being among the most heavily armed people in America. Unconstitutional federal gun registration schemes, as well as restrictions on semi-automatic guns or standard-capacity magazines, would also be nullified under the legislation.

There are teeth in the proposed law too: Any federal official attempting to enforce unconstitutional statutes or decrees infringing on gun rights passed after January 1 of this year would be charged with a felony. If convicted, criminal officials would be punished by up to five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine. The legislation also authorizes the state attorney general to defend citizens of Wyoming if federal authorities seek prosecutions under unconstitutional gun control rules.

At least eight state representatives and two state senators have already sponsored the legislation. And nationwide, support for similar measures is exploding. “We want to get things ahead of the game,” Republican state Rep. Kendell Kroeker, the primary sponsor of the bill, told the Huffington Post. “We take the Second Amendment seriously in Wyoming… If the federal government is going to pass laws taking back our rights, it is our right as a state to defend those rights.”

[…]

Predictably, Obama apparatchiks funded by billionaire statist George Soros are already crying foul, too. The far-left “Think Progress” blog, for example, claimed that nullification would be unconstitutional. “The constitution actually stipulates that federal law ‘shall be the supreme law of the land,’“ Annie-Rose Strasser alleged falsely, without pointing out the constitutional stipulation that federal laws must be “made in pursuance” with the Constitution. It was not clear whether the writer was simply ignorant of American history and the U.S. Constitution, or whether the false statements were deliberate lies in an effort to confuse readers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Algeria Winning in War Against Illiteracy

18% illiteracy in 2013 versus 22.3% in 2008

(ANSAmed) — ROME, 09 JAN — 50 years after gaining independence from France Algeria is winning the battle against illiteracy. According to a report presented Tuesday in Algiers, illiteracy rates in 2013 — which are calculated on school data, dipped to just under 18%, down from 22.3% in 2008. It might appear slight, but the fall is symbolic of a huge government effort into fighting the problem.

Not only are illiterate people difficult to track down, they often need to be persuaded to sidestep cultural barriers which rate money over education, and to take part in illiteracy programs.

ßßAccording to the report illiteracy rates will continue to decline in the coming years, reaching 14.76% in 2015 and as low as 12% in 2018. Experts are hopeful — if cautious, that the problem could be wiped out for good by 2016. On this track, the three organisers of the study — the Iqra association, the national Center for Population and Development (CENEAP) and mobile phone operator Nedjma — seem to agree. But that is not to forget the cause of the phenomenon. “132 years of colonialism can’t be erased in 50 years”, said a CENEAP source. In 1830, before French colonialists took over rates were as low as 14%. Following the systematic erosion of the Algerian education systems under French rule, illiteracy rates between 1948 and 1955 shot up to 94%, only to dip slightly to 85% in 1962, the year of independence.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Brent Police: UK — The Top 20 Most Wanted

[2-3 have british name and appearance!]

Abubakar Alam-Alhuda, 35, is wanted for failing to turn up at court charged with robbery
Ahmed Jama is wanted for failing to appear in court accused of robbery
Ann Marie McDonagh, 37, is wanted for failing to show up at court accused of theft
Charles Dhillo, 40, is wanted in connection with two incidents of fraud
David Ashley Morgan, 47, is wanted on suspicion of GBH
Dyleppe Patel, 39, is wanted for failing to appear at court accused of criminal damage
Felix Moorehouse, 30, is wanted for failing to appear in court charged with burglary
Felix Tobiah, 47, is wanted for failing to appear in court charged with common assault
Gabriel Buliga, 33, is wanted on suspicion of ABH
Illi Florel, 21, is wanted on suspicion of burglary
Kaz Balogun, 37, is wanted for failing to show up in court accused of theft
Lennox Fearon, 47, is wanted for failling to turn up in court charged with common assault
Lisa Campbell, 31, is wanted on suspicion of GBH
Michael Ellington, 50, is wanted for failing to turn up at court accused of drug dealing
Peter Amissah, 33, is wanted on suspicion of ABH
Raymond Reid, 52, is wanted on suspicion of harrassment
Ryan Praise, 24, is wanted for failing to show up in court charged with common assault
Samuel Donison, 21, is wanted on suspicion of ABH
Shamshed Lochoor, 28, is wanted for failing to show up at court charged with fraud
Stefan Cracium, 32, is wanted on suspicion of GBH

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Depardieu Reiterates He Remains a Frenchman

(AGI) Paris — Gerard Depardieu has said that he may have a Russian passport but, “I am French and will certainly also have dual Belgian- Russian nationality .

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

EU Court Opens Hearings Into Genoa G8 Brutality

Considering 20 complaints from Italy and abroad

(ANSA) — Strasbourg, January 2 — More than a decade after brutal police beatings of protesters at a Group of Eight summit in Genoa in 2001, the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg began hearings into the case Wednesday.

The Strasbourg court is considering applications brought by 20 people in Italy and other parts of the Europe in the case where police brutality left two people comatose and sent 26 to hospital.

The worst attacks occurred when police raided the Diaz school, where anti-globalization protesters were sleeping. Last July, Italy’s top appeals court upheld the convictions of several high-ranking officers, saying that violent actions by some police and unprovoked mass arrests of anti-globalization demonstrators had discredited Italy in the eyes of the world.

The court slammed police for fabricating justifications for their actions, such as falsely claiming that protesters had stabbed an officer and were about to use Molotov cocktails, which were in fact planted by the police.

Senior police made false accusations and committed slander against the accused, and overall failed in their duties during the three-day summit in Genoa, the court said in upholding and even increasing prison sentences against senior officers.

Amid the violence that marred the three-day event, a police officer killed a 23-year-old protester as he was about to hurl a fire extinguisher into his vehicle.

In its July final ruling, the court said that former national police chief Gianni De Gennaro, the only senior officer to be acquitted at the end of the appeals process, had demanded arrests “to redeem the image of the police from charges of inertia” against militant rampages that devastated the northwestern port city.

But jail sentences were suspended for many top officers who have yet to be sanctioned by the interior ministry, and sentences for the riot police eventually timed out.

The Italian government was forced to pay 350,000 euros in compensation last fall to a British freelance journalist brutally beaten by Italian police.

Mark Covell, who has called for a more complete investigation of the G8 debacle, was unconscious for 14 hours after police in riot gear raided the Diaz school, The bludgeoning left him with a vein twisted around his spine, a perforated lung, broken fingers, ten smashed teeth and eight broken ribs.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian House Prices See Third Straight Fall

Sharper than previous two drops

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 11 — House prices in recession-hit Italy saw their third straight fall in the third quarter of 2012, statistics agency Istat said Friday.

Istat’s house-price index fell 1.1% compared to the previous quarter and was 3.2% down on the third quarter of 2011.

The drops were sharper than the previous two.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Researchers Identify Cholesterol-Fighting Cheese

Pecorino lowers levels of those eating it by about 7%

(ANSA) — Cagliari, January 3 — An Italian group of researchers have identified a cheese produced with a particular breed of sheeps’ milk as lowering cholesterol levels, according to an article published on Thursday in the British Journal of Nutrition of Cambridge.

Biomedical Sciences Department of Cagliari University on the island of Sardinia, together with the local national health unit Asl 8, the University of Pisa in Tuscany, and cheese producer Argiolas are those involved in the project. Pecorino cheese made from ‘Cla’ sheep’s milk reportedly lowers the cholesterol levels of those eating it by some 7%, according to the research report.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Soccer: Pro Patria Get Stadium Ban for Racist Fans

Jeers against black players prompted Milan to walk from friendly

(ANSA) — Florence, January 8 — An Italian sporting judge on Tuesday ruled that fourth-tier Pro Patria must play their next home league game behind closed doors after racist chants from some of their fans caused AC Milan to abandon a friendly last week.

Milan players left the field after home fans directed racist jeers at black players Kevin Prince Boateng, ‘Baye Niang, Urby Emanuelson and Sulley Muntari during Thursday’s match at Busto Arsizio, north of Milan.

Many Pro Patria fans painted their fans black for their team’s league match last weekend to show they are not racist and express solidarity for the black players.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Approval Rating -8% After Entering Election Race

‘Politicization to blame’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — Outgoing Premier Mario Monti’s approval ratings fell eight points to 30% in January since throwing his hat into the election race, according to an SWG Institute poll commissioned by public broadcaster RAI 3.

“The drop is due to his politicization,” SWG President Robert Weber explained. The poll of 1,500 respondents aged 18 and up was conducted by phone and Internet over January 7-9.

Monti had 71% approval ratings in November 2011, upon taking office.

They dropped to 47% in April 2012, to 37% in October, to 36% in November, and 38% in December.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Centre-Left Coalition Retains Lead, Opinion Poll

Centre-right closes gap, Monti in fourth place

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — The centre-left coalition led by the Democratic Party (PD) topped opinion polls on Friday at 34.9% with its centre-right rivals following nearly 10 points behind.

The Pd alone was polling 29.8% with additional support provided by coalition allies Left Ecology Freedom of Puglia governor Nichi Vendola (4.4%) and Democratic Centre (0.7%) according to a survey conducted by Trieste-based polling institute SWG on behalf of State broadcaster’s left-leaning third channel Rai 3.

A coalition of centre-right parties led by ex premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party raked in 25.3% of preferences, with the lion’s share of 15.7% going to the dL followed by the regionalist Northern League (6.1%) and the rest to a host of smaller formations. Comedian-cum-politician Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement continued its downwards slide at 15.9% in the wake of criticism over an autocratic leadership style.

The centrist coalition headed by technocrat premier Mario Monti — who decided to throw his hat into the ring just a few days ago after repeated denials — was polling 13.8% and new entry Civil Revolution led by former Sicilian anti-Mafia prosecutor Antonio Ingroia had gained ground with 4.5%. SWG President Roberto Weber added that Berlusconi may have gained a couple of points following his feisty Thursday evening appearance on a left-wing talk show on the small terrestrial channel La7, which resulted in record viewing figures. The number of undecided voters or abstentions, while still high at 33.5%, was falling, he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Priapus Statue ‘A Bit of Fun’, Says Pianist at Ruby Trial

‘Provocative dancing, but no touching’ at Berlusconi villa

(ANSA) — Milan, January 11 — A statue of fertility god Priapus was passed around at an August 2010 dinner party at the Villa San Martino owned by former premier Silvio Berlusconi in Arcore as a “joke”, pianist and singer Danilo Mariani told judges at the so-called Ruby prostitution procurement trial on Friday.

“I saw this statue with this thing,” the entertainer told presiding criminal court judge Annamaria Gatto and the other magistrates. “The waiter brought it. It was just a bit of fun.

It got passed around. People made jokes, but none of the guests mimed any sexual gestures”. The pianist is a defense witness in the trial of retired TV anchorman and close Berlusconi friend Emilio Fede, bankrupt ex-talent scout Lele Mora and ex-Lombardy regional councillor and the ex-premier’s former dental hygienist Nicole Minetti for alleged procurement of prostitutes, including underage ones, in connection with alleged sex parties hosted by Berlusconi. Ruby, Ambra Battilana, Chiara Danese, Barbara Faggioli, and Minetti were among the girls he saw at the Arcore parties, the witness said, adding there was no stripping. “There was dancing after dinner, and some danced more provocatively than others. There was never any touching,” Mariani told the court.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Aide Was ‘Mafia’s Ambassador’ in Party — Ingroia

Dell’Utri facing retrial on charges of helping Cosa Nostra

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — Centre-right Senator and former Silvio Berlusconi aide Marcello Dell’Utri was the Mafia’s ambassador in the ex-premier’s party, Antonio Ingroia, the former Palermo anti-mafia prosecutor, said Friday.

Dell’Utri is currently facing a retrial in Palermo on the orders of the supreme Court of Cassation for allegedly helping the Mafia on grounds that his legal rights were not respected in an earlier appeal.

Italy’s highest court also said there was evidence that the suspect had acted as an intermediary with the Mafia for Berlusconi, handing on “substantial sums” of money — thought to total around 40 million euros over 10 years — for protection.

Ingroia, the leader of the newly formed Civil Revolution political party, said Dell’Utri helped Berlusconi form his former party, Forza Italia, “on the basis of an agreement” with the Sicilian Mafia.

“Dell’Utri worked with input from Cosa Nostra, he was the ambassador of Cosa Nostra,” Ingroia told La7 television.

Dell’Utri is also one of 11 people implicated in a case concerning alleged negotiations between the Mafia and the Italian State in the early 1990s, including notorious Mafia bosses, ex-anti-Mafia police officers and current members of parliament.

He denies any wrongdoing.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Feels ‘Anti-Political’, ‘Anointed by the People’

(AGI) — Milan, Jan 5 — Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi said in an interview that “inside I feel anti-political”. “I feel and will always feel I am an entrepreneur who has put himself at the service of politics.” He went on to say that he had “never said” he was “anointed by the Lord”. “I only said that in the past the kings were anointed by the Lord,” whereas in our days leaders “are anointed by the people. I am — if anything — anointed by the people.” .

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

Italy: Rubbish Emergency in Calabria Shows No Sign of Abating

Garbage heaps pile up across the region

(ANSA) — Catanzaro, January 3 — A rubbish emergency in Calabria, the region south of Campania, shows no sign of abating despite reassurances from officials as waste overflows into the streets months after the government intervened.

In November, a special commissioner was named to resolve the issue. “For the return of normalcy, we will need a few days,” said Vincenzo Speranza at the time. There are still numerous rubbish heaps, in some cases piled up higher than two meters, in many urban areas, particularly in the territories of Catanzaro and Reggio. The situation is more commonly associated with Naples, north of Calabria, where waste management is a chronic problem.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Lazio Region Appeals to High Court to Save Rubbish Plan

Lazio tries to cut off new crisis in Rome’s rubbish threat

(ANSA) — Rome, January 10 — Lazio’s regional administration will fight to the last for its rejected garbage disposal plan, as it announced on Thursday that it will immediately appeal to Italy’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, to save it.

Rubbish could start piling up in Rome’s streets in a crisis reminiscent of the problems Naples has had in recent years if a new dump site is not found, Environment Minister Corrado Clini warned last fall.

Clini presented a draft decree on Monday to ward off a rubbish emergency in the capital, which would designate space in regional facilities for waste coming from Rome province. On Wednesday, however, Lazio’s garbage woes thickened when the Lazio Regional Administrative Court threw out the regional administration’s 2011-2017 waste management plan, passed in January 2012.

The Lazio court ruled in favor of the Green Party’s complaint that European Commission (EC) had already found Lazio in violation of European rules when it came to waste management.

Lazio’s administration countered on Thursday that EC had, in fact, lifted its sanction, which dated back to 2007, thanks to the measures outlined in January 2012 plan. The Lazio administration quoted an EC commission ruling which found the plans “in line with European legislation”.

“It astonishes, therefore, that (the Lazio court) maintains that those same norms were violated,” the Lazio administration’s statement said. The Lazio court argued that the EC’s assessment had been correct when it concluded that the region’s waste management did not go far enough to abate dangers to human health and to the environment, but only reduced the volume and dangerous contents of the rubbish.

Lazio Green Party President Nando Bonessio complained that Lazio’s waste management plan was based on “landfills and incinerators in the Lazio region, where they passed-off shredding and sorting as treatment”. The Lazio court also chucked out the regional government’s claim that it had already curtailed the quantity of its waste and reached a 2012 goal of 65% differentiated trash collection for recycling. The Lazio court wrote, “The official data of (the State’s environmental research institute) ISPRA show a different trend from that which was taken into consideration by the regional administration, indicating a constant annual rise in the production of regional waste.” Regional technicians are currently investigating this finding.

ßßßß The Italian capital has been on the verge of having trash problems for some time with its huge dump at Malagrotta filled to well beyond capacity and local administrators, environmental groups and residents unable to agree on an alternative.

ßßßß A commissioner for the rubbish emergency, Prefect Goffredo Sottile, was brought in by the technocrat government of Mario Monti to handle the emergency and locate new space for Rome’s trash.

ßßßß “On January 1, 2013 we risk having rubbish in the streets of Rome,” Sottile declared in late October.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Larry Pratt: British Gun Crime Stats Are a “Sham”

Last night, Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight for a debate with the host. Morgan is a British “citizen” (“subject”?) who has recently been using his platform on CNN to promote the idea that the U.S. Constitution is “inherently flawed” and to advocate stricter, more British-style gun control policies in the U.S. This was Pratt’s second appearance on the show in the past month, having previously appeared in the wake of the Sandy Hook event.

At one point in the exchange (around 11:18 in this video), Morgan says that he “actually dug out the official figures… the homicide figures from guns in England and Wales by comparison to the United States of America going back to 2003,” and proceeds to read off numbers showing that the U.S. has a much higher gun murder rate. Morgan then claims that the lower numbers in England and Wales are “the result” of the “responsible action” taken in “respon[se]” to the 1996 school shooting in Dunblane, Scottland — namely a “handgun and assault weapon ban.”

To begin with, More Guns, Less Crime author John Lott has recently explained that this is a misleading representation of the statistics: Yes, the gun murder rate is relatively low in England and Wales, but it was already low before the ban, and the stats do not show a decrease in murders committed with guns (nor overall murders) since the ban was instituted, as Morgan implies. “There is a difference between levels and changes,” he notes. Meanwhile, The Telegraph reported in 2009 that gun crime had “almost doubled in the last decade”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Scotland: Dundee Businessman Jailed for Multimillion Pound VAT Fraud

Shahid Ramzan, from Broughty Ferry, was found guilty of five charges, including evading, either alone or with others, VAT payments of £5,611,839 between October 2002 and July 2004.

The 40-year-old was also found guilty of transferring or hiding “criminal property” of £20,610,213.

Judge Lord Brailsford said the offences were “serious crimes of dishonesty”.

At his trial, the High Court in Edinburgh was told Ramzan, 40, began trading from a bedroom at his home in Broughty Ferry, with only a telephone, a fax machine and a computer to access the internet.

Prosecutors claimed his international dealing was only a cover for his real business, exploiting loopholes in VAT regulations, along with others who were using Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC) VAT fraud.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Drug Dealer Used Unemployment Benefits to Make 24,000 Mobile Phone Calls to Sell Heroin and Crack

Unemployed Aftar Khan, 24, pocketed up to £500 a month job seeker’s allowance — but rather than look for a job, he made 78 calls and texts to clients every day for ten months to sell them drugs.

Despite being repeatedly arrested and bailed Khan continued his crime racket.

Today Khan, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester was starting a five years and four months prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to possessing a Class A drug with intent to supply and dangerous driving.

He was sentenced yesterday at Manchester Crown Court.

His accomplice Aziz Ur Rahman, 21, also of Rochdale, pleaded guilty to possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply and was jailed for two years.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Jimmy Savile Spent ‘Every Waking Minute’ Thinking About Abusing Boys and Girls

Jimmy Savile spent “every waking minute” of his life thinking about abusing children, attacked patients in hospices and even used the final edition of the BBC’s Top of the Pops to commit sex offences, police disclosed this morning.

Commander Peter Spindler, head of the inquiry, said Savile had “groomed a nation” and preyed on 450 victims, aged between eight and 47, over a 54-year period. Almost a fifth of his victims were boys.

The report says that Savile committed offences at 14 hospitals, including a Sue Ryder hospice in Leeds and Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London.

As well as Broadmoor, he also committed an offence at Ashworth NHS High Security Unit.

He committed 22 offences at Stoke Mandeville and 16 at Leeds General Hospital. The other NHS hospitals involved, where one offence was reported at each, were Broadmoor; Ashworth; St James Teaching Hospital, Leeds; High Royds Psychiatric Hospital, Leeds; Dewsbury Hospital; Wycombe General, High Wycombe; Great Ormond Street; Exeter Hospital; Portsmouth Royal Hospital; St Catherine’s Hospital, Birkenhead and Saxondale Mental Health Hospital, Notts.

The Sue Ryder Hospice where he committed one offence in 1977 was Wheatfield Hospice in Leeds.

The report adds that Savile committed offences at four schools, where he would be invited as a guest after featuring their pupils on Jim’ll Fix It.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Report Into Savile Reveals 60 Years of Abuse, 34 Raped, Up to 450 Sexually Assaulted

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

Twisted Jimmy Savile carried out an ‘unprecedented’ 60 year long campaign of sexual abuse across Britain with up to 450 victims, including 34 who claim to have been raped, an official report revealed.

Since the paedophile DJ died in October 2011 aged 84, a staggering 214 official crimes have been recorded by 28 police forces.

Today’s report into his abuse states Savile used his celebrity to ‘hide in plain sight’ while he targeted those as young as eight and sexually assaulted at least 23 on BBC premises, as well as in 14 hospitals and at least one hospice between 1955 and 2009.

Releasing today’s report, Peter Spindler, the police officer in charge of the investigation, said Savile had ‘groomed the nation’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Ranks of the Socialist Workers Party Are Split Over Handling of Rape Allegation

Trotskyist group exonerated official because it doesn’t believe in ‘bourgeois court system’ to deliver justice

The Socialist Workers Party was engulfed in crisis tonight over allegations that it set up a “socialist sharia court” to investigate rape allegations against a senior member instead of reporting them to the police.

The scandal, which has opened up deep splits within Britain’s largest far-left party, emerged this week when disaffected members leaked minutes of a controversial disciplinary meeting which exonerated the official accused of rape and sexual assault.

The furore has led to the expulsion of key members and multiple resignations.

Today Tom Walker, a journalist at the party’s paper, Socialist Worker, became the most prominent member to quit the party in disgust.

In a devastating critique published on the rival Communist Party of Great Britain’s website, Walker excoriated the SWP’s handling of the rape accusations, alleging that the hearing as a “kangaroo court” and “amateur justice that was doomed from the start”.

The minutes of the disciplinary meeting, which was held during the party’s December conference, detail how SWP leaders were determined to keep the matter away from the police and official authorities — with one member stating that the party had “no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice”.

The row is just the latest sexism scandal to tarnish the reputation of Britain’s radical left which tends to portray itself as a fierce advocate for women’s rights. In September, the Respect Party’s former leader, Salma Yaqoob, quit in protest over comments made by its founder, George Galloway, that the accusations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange simply constituted “bad sexual etiquette” and not rape.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: SWP’s Tom Walker: Why I Am Resigning

Tom Walker, (now former) Socialist Worker journalist, argues that the time has come to leave the SWP

The Socialist Workers Party is in deep crisis — as it has been for several months now. The reason is simple: an allegation of rape against Martin Smith, the then central committee member now referred to on some parts of the internet as comrade Delta, and the way it was handled by the party.

This case, as several speakers at conference noted, was in reality the sole reason for the four expulsions in the run-up to conference, the sole reason for the formation of two factions, and the sole reason for the split in the CC which resulted in an alternative slate being put to the conference, removing two CC members who had attempted to challenge the way the case was handled.

After much reflection, I have decided the immediate aftermath also means that I have no option other than to resign not just from the paper, but from the party, and encourage others to do likewise.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Why Depardieu: The Rich and the Poor Flee France and Hollande

Is it a tempest in a glass of water, as would ask inspector Clouseau? I don’t know, may be. French superstar Gerard Depardieu wants to give back his passport ; he is tired of paying so much taxes, up to 85% of his income, tired too of being insulted repeatedly in a country where public insulting has become a full-time job, involving now even the PM, his cabinet and a bunch of petty manipulators of opinion. If you study the case, you will find that the partisans of tax-raising are the worst warmongers too. Nobody is perfect, yet someone has the ability to be totally imperfect!

Depardieu is facing a French “new wave” of insults and sarcasms. Since the government’s official newspaper, Liberation, has insulted Bernard Arnault, the prestigious manager of LVMH and the richest man in Europe for having fled to Belgium (“scram, you rich jerk!”), nobody is spared by the French autocratic press, financed by public money and the unavoidable Rothschild heir, who enjoys wasting his money in crippled media. So the French star is being labelled a jerk, a lame-duck, a vile servant, even an asshole (in the front-page!) not to say worse… lately a French actor, a rather radical chic one, Philippe Torreton, used again the tribune of Liberation to insult our national Obelix! Yet our last national glory, Brigitte Bardot, has replied violently, as she is used to do: “The unknown Torreton, may keep his thrash, his vulgarity and his jealousy, his rage too to insult those who deserve better than him.” Dear BB: she is finally defending the Gauls, after having spent so much time in defending less valuable mammals!

Since he has been elected, François Hollande has been perfect, having committed what we call a “sans-faute”; he is flawless, an almost perfect president, for being worse than Sarkozy, Chirac, Mitterrand, whoever has been here lately! He has increased the French war-effort in Syria; raised a lot of new taxes, discouraged private initiative, impoverished the poor and hunting down the rich with hounds of technocrats, clerks and reporters turned into insulting jokers. The number of unemployed is soaring every month, up to more than three millions, and no employer is willing to take risks in a country driven by a somewhat loony rhetoric of equality. The PM Ayrault had even the guts of asking -with a threatening tone- his victims to stay in their country in order to pay more taxes for the increasing number of poor, the always ill-treated immigrants and the victims of a system that has driven him to power! It is like if Hitler had asked Einstein to stay in Germany in order to help Heisenberg build the atomic bomb! Anyway the socialists are already losing all local elections, and the unpopularity of inexperienced and incompetent Hollande is at its high.

[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Rome Tripoli’s Top Trade Partner, Wants Security

Libyan president at economic forum Rome, priority for us

(ANSAmed) — Rome — Commercial exchanges between Italy and Libya were worth 4,585 billion euros in 2011, with Italian exports towards Tripoli up 305% and imports from Libya rising 211% in the first months of 2012, according to data released at an economic forum on Italy and Libya at the foreign ministry in Rome. Participants however stressed that lack of security in Libya could halt the further growth of this privileged relationship.

The meeting was introduced by Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi and the president of the National Congress and Libyan head of state Mohamed Youssef El-Mgariaf who attended together with representatives of 70 Italian companies and banks including Alitalia, Anas, Edison, Impregilo, Unicredit, Intesa San Paolo, Ferrovie dello Stato, Salini and Trevi.

The new Libya post-Gaddafi, of which Italy is the top commercial partner, is eyed by Italian entrepreneurs for new investments. However security remains a concern. The main challenge in order to boost the presence of Italian companies in Libya is connected ‘first of all to physical and judicial security’, said Terzi, as well as the re-activation of contracts, the payment of credit and war damages and reconstruction.

El-Mgariaf responded by saying that ‘security is at the top of our concerns and we have started to confront it with the help of the Italian Republic’ which was particularly helpful ‘in training security and armed forces’ and integrating insurgents.

‘We are negotiating with neighbouring countries for joint efforts in fighting arms, ammunitions, drugs and human trafficking with the help of the EU and countries in the region’, he continued. This has led to the initiative by Prime Minister Ali Zidan to travel to neighbouring countries, ‘seal borders’ and ‘intensify air surveillance’, continued Al-Mgariaf.

He also expressed the ‘gratitude of the Libyan people’ for Italy’s support to the revolution. The high level of the Libyan delegation which included six members of the government and Zidan’s planned visit to Rome on January 30 ‘show how important Italy is for the new Libya’, he also said, adding that ‘for the first time in more than 40 years we have an elected congress and transitional government ‘ engaged in building ‘a modern and democratic state with an agreed Constitution’. ‘We want the respect of human rights, starting from women’s rights, the separation of powers and a free and transparent information’, he concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tunisia: Pilgrimages: Strong Arm Cabinet-Travel Agencies

State requested to give 25% of market to privates

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JANUARY 11 — Revenue prospects for those managing pilgrimages to holy Islam sites in Saudi Arabia, which Muslims must take at least once in a lifetime, are major as they have to be managed either by state companies or state-authorized bodies. If a Muslim faithful decides to take a pilgrimage (omra or hadj, small or big according to the time of the year), he or she must first present an application to be validated by a commission also on the basis of health in order to avoid, as often happens, that dozens of pilgrims die from fatigue and the Saudi heat.

In Tunisia this issue, which is much more attuned to economic interest than spiritual concerns, has led to a strong arm between travel agencies and the state which is weary of loosing control of this remunerative business. In a war of statements and proposals, the president of Tunisia’s association of travel agents, Mohamed Ali Toumi, has officially asked the state to leave 25 percent of this market — which totals some 15,000 pilgrims a year for Omra — to private entrepreneurs. The market could help crisis-stricken travel agencies after this business was taken from them in 1998 by then-dictator Ben Ali. Pilgrims are awaiting for an outcome in hopes that the return of private businesses can lower expenses which, with the devaluation of Tunisia’s dinar, have increased by up to 20% with some having to borrow money in order to undertake their mandatory pilgrimages.

Last year for the Omra, Tunisia’s religious affairs ministry which is in charge of pilgrimages, established prices which went from 2,500 dinars (some 1,250 euros) for the first 15 days of the holy month, to 3,100 (1,550 euros) for the second fortnight, sparking protests given the increase by up to 500 dinars, too much considering the average salary in Tunisia and the weak currency.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Syrian Rebels Claim Capture of Strategic Military Base

Syrian rebel fighters said Friday they have captured a strategic northern military base used by the government to bomb opposition strongholds.

Rebel fighters and militants from various Islamic groups, including the jihadist al-Nusra Front, took part in the offensive, an opposition spokesman said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Syria’s Rebels Form Own Secret Police

“The word security should mean the security of the people,” said an opposition activist using the name Abu Hisham in Aleppo.

“Unfortunately, Assad’s security bodies changed it to mean preserving the security of the government against the people,” he said. “Having this agency is important right now to track down the shabbiha (pro-Assad militia) and regime forces. We hope they remain up to the responsibility after toppling Assad.”

The rebel mukhabarat is keeping a close eye on the movements of Assad’s family, his army generals and senior officials who until now remain out of the insurgents’ reach, Haji said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Russia

Egyptian Man Urinates Into Eternal Flame in Russia’s Volgograd

In Russia’s Volgograd, a criminal case was filed against an Egyptian, who urinated on the Eternal Flame and beat an accidental eyewitness on New Year’s Eve, The Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper wrote with reference to the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In the midst of New Year holidays, a drunk 29-year-old man was walking with friends in the center of Volgograd. He climbed up onto the pedestal and relieved himself in the Eternal Flame in the Valley of Heroes. A man was passing by at that moment, who made a remark to the foreign visitor. The Egyptian assaulted and beat the man. Other witnesses of the incident called the police, who arrested the malefactor.

“Having sobered up, he expressed remorse and explained that he was celebrating the New Year drinking absinthe with champagne and was thus not aware of what he was doing,” officials said.

The Egyptian man was sentenced to ten days of administrative arrest, and was released on January 10th. Law-enforcement authorities of the Volgograd region have opened a criminal case against the Egyptian citizen on two counts — “Desecrating the deceased and burial places” and “Intentional infliction of bodily harm.” Under these charges, the foreign citizen may face a fine of up to 40 thousand rubles ($1,300), mandatory corrective work, or up to three months in prison.

[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Taliban Welcome US ‘Zero Option’ On Troops

The Taliban have welcomed news from Washington that the US might withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan next year, saying the American public was pressing for an end to “this aimless war”.

The comment came ahead of a crucial meeting between President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House on Friday that is expected to focus on how many American soldiers will remain in Afghanistan.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy: Indian Man Orders a Gold Shirt for New Year

(AGI) Rome — An Indian man ordered a pure gold shirt to be woven for New Year’s day. The shirt has Swarovski crystal buttons and cost 175,000 euros.

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

Far East

China is Massively Boosting Stockpiles of Rice, Iron Ore, Precious Metals, Dry Milk

If there were ever a sign that something is amiss, this may very well be it.

“United Nations agricultural experts are reporting confusion, after figures show that China imported 2.6 million tons of rice in 2012, substantially more than a four-fold increase over the 575,000 tons imported in 2011.”

The confusion stems from the fact that there is no obvious reason for vastly increased imports, since there has been no rice shortage in China. The speculation is that Chinese importers are taking advantage of low international prices, but all that means is that China’s own vast supplies of domestically grown rice are being stockpiled.

Why would China suddenly be stockpiling millions of tons of rice for no apparent reason?

Perhaps it’s related to China’s aggressive military buildup and war preparations in the Pacific and in central Asia.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Japan to Provide the Philippines With Ten Vessels to Patrol South China Sea

The ships are designed to hold in check Chinese claims over the Spratly Islands. They are expected to be classed as overseas development aid. For Shinzo Abe, Beijing is wrong to penalise Japanese companies operating in China.

Manila (AsiaNews) — Tokyo is offering Manila ten patrol vessels to boost the Filipino coastguard against threats from China in the South China Sea. The offer came during a visit to the Philippines by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. His Filipino counterpart, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, warned yesterday that China’s “very threatening” actions in the contested waters are a risk to Japan and others. Kishida also met Filipino President Benigno Aquino (pictured).

Sino-Japanese tensions have been rising in the past few months as both countries claim the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu for China). For years, Beijing has also confronted other nations in Southeast Asia (including Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan) over the Spratly and Paracel islands.

Japan is expected to class the offer of ten “multi-role response vessels” as overseas development aid with the first ship expected within 18 months. Some could even be built in the Philippines.

In recent years, Beijing has deployed it forces on some of the Spratly Islands, threatening other nations’ personnel and ships.

More recently, it has violated the territorial waters of the Senkaku/Diaoyu, and backed a patriotic campaign against Japanese companies operating in China.

For Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, “It was wrong for China, as a country responsible to the international community, to achieve a political goal by allowing damages to Japanese-affiliated companies and Japanese nationals that have made contributions to Chinese economy.”

Beijing’s action “will not only undermine the bilateral relationship, but it will also negatively affect China’s economy and society,” he added.

The hawkish Abe made the comments at a press conference, during which he also presented a US$ 224 billion stimulus package to boost Japan’s economy.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

France Displays Unhinged Hypocrisy as Bombs Fall on Mali

A deluge of articles have been quickly put into circulation defending France’s military intervention in the African nation of Mali. TIME’s article, “The Crisis in Mali: Will French Intervention Stop the Islamist Advance?” decides that old tricks are the best tricks, and elects the tiresome “War on Terror” narrative.

TIME claims the intervention seeks to stop “Islamist” terrorists from overrunning both Africa and all of Europe.

What TIME elects not to tell readers is that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is closely allied to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG whom France intervened on behalf of during NATO’s 2011 proxy-invasion of Libya — providing weapons, training, special forces and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya’s government. As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:

Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.

And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become — a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria.

“Belhaj,” referring to Hakim Abdul Belhaj, leader of LIFG in Libya, led with NATO support, arms, funding, and diplomatic recognition, the overthrowing of Muammar Qaddafi and has now plunged the nation into unending racist and tribal, genocidal infighting. This intervention has also seen the rebellion’s epicenter of Benghazi peeling off from Tripoli as a semi-autonomous “Terror-Emirate.” Belhaj’s latest campaign has shifted to Syria where he was admittedly on the Turkish-Syrian border pledging weapons, money, and fighters to the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” again, under the auspices of NATO support.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Raid to Free Hostage Secret Agent Fails, Say Islamists

(AGI) Mogadishu — A French military raid to free a secret agent held hostage in Bulomarer, Somalia, has failed, Islamists report.

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

Two French Helicopters Brought Down in Mali

(AGI) Paris, Jan 12 — Two French Gazelle military helicopters returning to the Ouagadougou base after carrying out military operations against Salaphite rebels in Mali have been brought down, says a report posted on the Le Point news website.

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

U. S Supports French Military Intervention in Mali

(AGI) — Washington, Jan 11 — The intervention of the French military alongside that of the Malian government has the support of the United States. The State Department has announced that Washington shares the French government’s goal of preventing the African nation from becoming a refuge for “terrorists.” .

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

Latin America

Amid Federal Land Grab in Brazil, Whole Towns Evicted at Gunpoint

Federal Brazilian police and military personnel, some wearing United Nations insignia, are forcibly relocating whole communities in Brazil at gunpoint under the guise of returning huge tracts of land to a small group of Indians whose ancestors were allegedly there at some point. Thousands of local residents who have lived in the area for decades or were even born there, however, are fighting back, with critics saying the government’s actions smack of Stalinism and may constitute crimes against humanity.

Since the latest controversial operation began in November in the state of Mato Grosso, according to authorities and news reports, citizens opposed to being stripped of their property and homes have been doing everything in their power to stop the assault — setting up road blocks, battling heavily armed federal forces with stones, sticks, and Molotov cocktails, torching government trucks, protesting, and refusing to leave. Others cried as they tore down their own simple houses under armed guard.

Reporters on the scene and even federal lawmakers suspect bloodshed may be near. The government, however, has vowed to expel the communities at any cost, threatening those who refuse to comply with criminal charges and even confiscation of what little remains of their personal property. Rubber bullets, tear gas, and threats of real bullets and prosecution have all been employed to forcibly remove the locals, whom the government continues to dehumanize as “invaders” and “intruders.”

Critics and local residents have accused the government of Brazil of mass corruption, saying the end goal is to smash private property ownership and all potential resistance — starting with the rural population. They argue, among other points, that federal authorities are doing the bidding of foreign interests and are in cahoots with the UN, massive international corporations, Western-based non-governmental organizations like Greenpeace, and other interests.

[…]

Some 400,000 acres of land in the state of Mato Grosso with numerous towns — at least one of the communities in Estrela do Araguaia was home to an estimated 7,500 residents complete with churches, schools, hospitals, a graveyard and more, though the government claims the figures are smaller — was reportedly handed to a group of nearby Indians in the 1990s by official decree. Property owners’ deeds were nullified and no compensation was offered. Authorities began the forced relocation of all non-Indians late last year after giving existing residents just 30 days to vacate their land “voluntarily.” Most refused to go.

[…]

Many locals and even outside analysts question whether the land was really inhabited by Indians at all. Even some Xavante Indians have spoken out, explaining that their people always lived in another region with another climate and type of vegetation.

The UN and Greenpeace, though, were heavily involved in promoting the idea during the recent Rio+20 “sustainable development” conference in Rio de Janeiro, parading a group of Indians around the premises in between bizarre ceremonies worshiping “Mother Earth” and calls for a planetary regime. Greenpeace, of course, has an atrocious record when it comes to indigenous people and has destroyed more than a few Native American communities over the years under the guise of pseudo-environmentalism.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Argentina’s Kirchner Visits Chavez in Cuba

(AGI) Buenos Aires — On Friday Argentina’s Kirchner visited Venezuelan president Chavez in Cuba as he recovers from cancer surgery.

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

Immigration

Border Patrol Opens Unmanned Crossing on U.S.-Mexico Border

Get ready for the very first “unmanned” border station on the U.S.-Mexico border. Slated to open at the end of this month, the Big Bend National Park in Texas will be staffed by, you guessed it, computers.

The station will be equipped with machines that can scan citizenship documents and conduct live video interviews with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at a station in El Paso, Texas, Tech News Daily reports. While Mexican citizens will be able to use the crossing, U.S. officials maintain that Americans tourists to the national park are more likely to do so. When a similar CBP crossing was open in the same location more than a decade ago, few Mexicans used it. In 2002, because of increased security measures, U.S. officials closed the original crossing, forcing tourists to travel more than 100 miles to the next nearest crossing to get to Mexico, according to Nextgov.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Istanbul: Smuggler Capital for EU-Bound Migrants

Istanbul — Many of the groups which smuggle people into Europe are based in the migrant quarters of Turkey’s vast city on the EU border — Istanbul.

Kumkapi in Istanbul’s Fatih district on the Marmara Sea coast is home to French speaking African communities and to Somalians.

Further west, Afghans and Iranians cluster in Zeytinburnu. Iraqis and Nigerians live mostly in Kurtulus, near the tourist hotspot of Taksim Square. Syrians favour parts of Kucukcekmece.

In Kumkapi, one smuggler hotspot is a street which runs parallel to the Katip Kasim mosque.

Here, young African men work by pushing around heavy loads of various goods among run-down buildings, dozens of which house Russophone import-export firms.

A white Mercedes GL 320 with Ukrainian plates is parked outside the Blue Marmaray hotel. It is in the heart of the impoverished district, but a suite costs $600 a night. Further north and east, clothes shop windows display prices in Turkish and Russian.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Catholic Bishops Support Citizenship for Immigrants’ Kids

Church ‘encourages democracy, social cohesion’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 8 — The Catholic Church favours legislative changes that would give full citizenship rights to children born in Italy to immigrant parents, Father Giancarlo Perego said Tuesday.

Perego, director-general for migrants’ issues with the influential Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), spoke at a Vatican Radio presentation ahead of Sunday’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The Church, he said, favours “recognition of the right of citizenship for the children of immigrants born in Italy and, consequently, the right to vote in local elections…encouraging the growth of democracy and social cohesion”.

A significant percentage of Italy’s residents are immigrants, he said, and migrants to the country should therefore be seen as “a significant resource”.

Current Italian law dictates that only the children of Italian citizens can automatically become citizens themselves, while those born on Italian soil to non-Italian parents become eligible on their 18th birthday.

A famous example is Mario Balotelli, one of Italy’s biggest soccer stars and a forward on the national team, who was born in Italy to parents from Ghana.

The president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, has called the current system “pure folly” and a bill to change the law was submitted to the House this summer.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Souleiman: Solicitor’s Firm in Sham Marriage Scam

Islington, Enfield, Wembley, North London; Hatfield, Herts — A solicitor used his law firm to arrange hundreds of sham marriages in an immigration scam spanning nearly a decade, a court heard today (Fri). Tevfick Souleiman, 39, and his associates created scores of forged documents so migrants could get permission to live and work in the UK, it is alleged. They paid for brides and husbands to be flown into the UK from Eastern Europe and created bogus accounts of their relationships with clients, the Old Bailey was told.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Can America Survive if Americans No Longer Agree on a Core Set of Shared Values?

What does America stand for? That question is a lot more complicated than you might think. Our Founding Fathers established a Republic that was based on a set of shared values that were embodied in the text of the U.S. Constitution. But today, many of our politicians openly disregard the Constitution whenever they want and it has become fashionable to mock the U.S. Constitution. For example, the New York Times recently published a piece by Georgetown University Professor Louis Michael Seidman entitled “Let’s Give Up On The Constitution” in which he publicly called the Constitution “archaic” and “downright evil”. This is a man that has been teaching constitutional law to the next generation of lawyers at one of the top universities in the nation for nearly 40 years. Unfortunately, Seidman is not an aberration. The truth is that law schools all over America are absolutely packed with professors that teach that we should consider the U.S. Constitution a “living, breathing document” that must “evolve” as society evolves. They also teach that when we find something in the Constitution that does not work for us today that we should just ignore it. In fact, in his New York Times article Seidman insisted that “constitutional disobedience” is “as old as the Republic”. But if we can just ignore the U.S. Constitution whenever we want, where does that leave us? Should we be able to ignore all laws when they are not convenient for us?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy’s Supreme Court Says Gays Can Have Custody of Children

Challenge on rights of mother living with another woman rejected

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — Italy’s supreme Court of Cassation ruled on Friday that there is no reason why gay people cannot have custody of children.

The Cassation, whose decisions set precedents, gave the ruling in rejecting a challenge from a man against another court’s decision to give exclusive custody of a child to his former partner.

His challenge was based on the fact that his ex-partner had gone to live with a female social worker who helped the woman get off drugs at a rehabilitation centre. The man, a migrant living in Brescia of Muslim faith, argued that it was damaging for the child to grow up in a gay environment.

The Cassation said the challenge was not based on “scientific certainty or data from experience”, but on “the mere prejudice that growing up with gay parents damages the balanced development of the child, taking for granted what has yet to be proven: that such family environments are damaging”.

Gay rights groups hailed the ruling as a major breakthrough and some said it had implications for the issue of whether gay couples should be allowed to adopt children.

Some centre-right politicians criticising the decision as “dangerous”, saying the court had overstepped the mark with the reasons given for its decision, arguing that such considerations are the prerogative of parliament.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Self-Esteem Fad Harms Student Achievement; Teaching Self-Esteem is Misguided

Self-control, not self-esteem, leads to academic success, researchers have concluded. Indeed, teaching self-esteem actually reduces student achievement and undermines the work ethic of some students. “In one study, university students who’d earned C, D and F grades ‘received encouragement aimed at boosting their self-worth.’ They did worse than students with similar grades whose self-esteem had been left alone. ‘An intervention that encourages [students] to feel good about themselves, regardless of work, may remove the reason to work hard,’“ notes “Roy Baumeister, a Florida State professor who’s studied the topic for years. ‘Self-control is much more powerful and well-supported as a cause of personal success,’ he says.”

Last January, the Washington Post ran a news story about the failure of self-esteem to improve educational achievement: due to the self-esteem fad, American students’ self-esteem outstripped their achievement, which fell compared to their international peers. U.S. eighth-graders did worse in math than their peers in countries like Singapore and South Korea, but felt better about themselves and their ability in math. “‘We used to think we could hand children self-esteem on a platter,’ Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck said. ‘That has backfired.’“ Yet, “for decades, the prevailing wisdom in education was that high self-esteem would lead to high achievement.” That false “theory led to an avalanche of daily affirmations, awards ceremonies” and time-consuming feel-good exercises in our schools.

[Return to headlines]

Why Americans Cannot Discipline Their Children

The ultimate reason that Americans are unable to discipline their children is that they have no authority over them. The American state, together with private industry, especially the “helping professions,” have usurped their authority in loco parentis, thus empowering physicians, psychologists, judges, social workers, dentists and other health workers by, in effect, reducing people to parental incompetence. American children run amuck, throw tantrums in the “terrible twos” and “fearsome fours,” and commit indignities against their parents and maliciously disobey them such as to shock the rest of the world. A Eda Leshan in 1985 published a book called When Your Child Drives You Crazy. Children’s actual socialization comes from the ever-present baby sitter, television, and the school, neighborhood pals and their interaction at play.

American parents are reduced to their entertainers, meal tickets and gift givers; in the U.S. the glorification of consumption and the warfare of status materialism see the parents constantly showering their “kids” with presents, all too often in place of true love and affection. The mother resorts to shrewishness and constant nagging to obtain minimal obedience from her children, while the deadbeat American husband and father has emotionally abandoned the family and takes little part in family life. A 1971 study by college psychologists of fathers in the Boston area found that they spent a grand total of 37 seconds a day on average spending time with their infants. Parents do not guide, comfort, govern, teach, nurse, control, restrain or mentor their children, although they are fond of giving them a good teasing now and then.

Sadly, the author has observed thousands of times children crying and reaching out in misery and just begging for comfort and reassurance from their parents, who stand there helplessly as if paralyzed or moronic as to what to do, or they insensitively without any insight scold their offspring for being “cry babies.” The bewildered parents simply do not know what to do, and the surfeit of advice from so-called experts, which has increased exponentially since 1945, has ameliorated the problem not at all; mothers who diligently study Chilton-like manuals to learn “maternal instinct” still are incompetent, and the malaise has only intensified after that year.

[Return to headlines]

General

Wood From Land Feeds Deep Sea Life

Scattered throughout the world’s oceans are “wooden cities of life,” providing oases for drifting microbes and small animals, a new study has found.

These sunken chunks of wood, along with other organic material like dead whales, may act as stepping stones for a variety of bizarre creatures that also thrive near hydrothermal vents, where super-heated water spews out of the seafloor, said Christina Bienhold, a researcher at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology.

In a recent study, Bienhold’s team placed logs on the bottom of the eastern Mediterranean Sea and found that a wide variety of life sprung up there in the span of only a year, including newfound species of aquatic worms, she told OurAmazingPlanet.

The results of the study, published earlier this month in the online journal PLoS ONE, were especially surprising given that this area is one of the most food-deprived spots in the world’s oceans. It thus wouldn’t necessarily be expected to harbor a great diversity of life, Bienhold said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

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