Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/15/2013

A meteorite estimated at 10 tons and 50 feet in diameter entered the Earth’s atmosphere at about 9am this morning at a speed of nine miles per second. It exploded in a tremendous fireball over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, raining fragments onto the area and causing extensive damage. The blast was stronger than that of the nuclear device that was recently tested by North Korea, and the shockwave caused about a thousand injuries in Chelyabinsk and environs, mostly from flying shards of glass.

In other news, a policeman was killed by a Molotov cocktail during a second day of anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain. Yesterday a teenage boy was killed in the riots.

To see the headlines and the articles, click “Continue reading” below.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Caroline Glick, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Paul Green, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

Notice to tipsters: Please don’t submit extensive excerpts from articles that have been posted behind a subscription firewall, or are otherwise under copyright protection.

Caveat: Articles in the news feed are posted “as is”. Gates of Vienna cannot vouch for the authenticity or accuracy of the contents of any individual item posted here. We check each entry to make sure it is relatively interesting, not patently offensive, and at least superficially plausible. The link to the original is included with each item’s title. Further research and verification are left to the reader.


Financial Crisis
» Crisis Continuing in Italian Housing Sector, Says Agency
» Draconian Cash Controls Are Coming to France
» Economic Crisis Leads Italians to Cut Back Health Spending
» From SOTU to SNAFU
» Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail
» Italy Posts Biggest Trade Surplus Since 1999 in 2012
» It’s the Interest, Stupid! Why Bankers Rule the World
» Obama Wants to Close Thousands of Businesses & Raise Unemployment
» Rand Paul Tears Into Obama’s $2 Trillion State of the Union Fiction
» Slovenia: S&P Downgrades Sovereign Debt to A- From A
» Spain’s Unemployed Find Treasure in Others’ Trash
» Wall Street’s Derivative Shell Game
» Why Should I Care About the U.S. Debt?
 
USA
» Build the Pipeline! (No Matter What Daryl Hannah Thinks)
» Chris Matthews: Natural Rights and Second Amendment Are Racist
» Elementary School Offers Tutoring… Unless You’re White
» Gun Rights: Are There Any Peaceful Solutions Left?
» Guns and Ammo Production Maxed Out: “This is a Society Preparing for War”
» Hagel Derailed — For Now
» Harrison Ford Set to Reprise Role as Han Solo 30 Years on in Star Wars 7
» Maryland Gov. Abusing Email Privacy to Push Gun Control Agenda
» Minnesota: ‘Long-Simmering’ Tension at South High Leads to ‘All-Out Brawl’
» Only in Obama’s World: A Medal for Keyboard Heroes
» Religious Heathens
» Scuttling the Ship of State to Appease Climate Activists
» The Fourth Amendment is Now Optional
» Trolley Folly in Kansas City, Missouri!
» U.S. Files Charges Against Jesse L. Jackson Jr. In Campaign Funds Case
» Who Tells Us What to Think? Does the Mainstream Media = the Matrix?
» Why 1.6 Billion Bullets? Because Government Wants to Save You Money, Of Course
» You Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists — Or Democrats
 
Canada
» Ontario: Wynne’s Balanced Budget Promise Requires Action
 
Europe and the EU
» 800 More Children Permanently Harmed by Vaccines
» British Cops Will be Allowed to Confiscate Material From Journalists
» French Culture Minister Invites Bollywood to Alps
» German Von Freyberg Made New Vatican Bank Chief
» German Finance Minister Denies ‘Interfering’ In Italy Vote
» German Church Becomes Mosque
» Germany: Forced Out: A Berlin Family’s Eviction Sparks Violent Protest
» Italian Center-Right Denounces ‘Clockwork Justice’
» Italy: Monti Rejects Berlusconi’s Claim of PD Vote Share
» Italy: Monti Calls for Further Laws Against White-Collar Crime
» Italy: IMU Tax Puts Hoteliers at Risk, Says Federalberghi
» Italy: Constitutional Court Shoots Down ILVA Prosecutors’ Petition
» Italy: Berlusconi ‘Bribes Justification’ Causes Pre-Election Stir
» ‘It’s Worth Promoting Economic NATO’
» Napolean’s Gold Ring to go on Auction in Paris
» The Last Supper: Germany’s Great Church Sell-Off
» Thieves Steal 200 Manhole Covers in Sicilian Town
» U. S. Military Turn Down Sicilian Officials’ MUOS Notice
» UK: BBC News Boss Who Presided Over Jimmy Savile Newsnight Scandal to Head Up Corporation’s Radio Network
» UK: Child Murderer Subhan Anwar Killed in Jail
» UK: Child Killer Who Tortured Partner’s Two-Year-Old Daughter to Death is Found Dead in Cell as Two Prisoners Are Questioned on Suspicion of Murder
» UK: Mother’s Terror as Knife-Wielding Pair Walk Into Her Home and Snatch Her Toddler Son
» UK: Mother, 22, Reveals Dramatic Moment Her Soldier Boyfriend Trapped the Man Who Assaulted Her Hours Earlier
» UK: Parents Horrified After Learning Primary Schoolchildren Aged Just 10 Are Playing ‘The Raping Game’
» UK: Police Arrest Violin Teacher, 57, Over Historic Sex Abuse Claims at Prestigious Music School Where Choirmaster Abused Former Pupil
» UK: Pensioner, 68, Punched Pregnant Mother as He Tried to Grab Her 11-Month-Old Baby From Her Arms
» UK: Three-Year-Old Girl Dies of Dehydration After Locum Doctor Sent Her Home From A&E Without Carrying Out Basic Tests
 
North Africa
» Libya: Federalists Bow Out of Bengasi Revolt Anniversary
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Caroline Glick: US Government Funding Radical Israeli NGOs’ Information Operations
 
Middle East
» After the Arab Spring: Al-Jazeera Losing Battle for Independence
» Living Out of Wedlock in Iran
» Protesters Kill Police Officer in Bahrain
 
Russia
» About 1,100 Injured as Meteorite Hits Russia With Force of Atomic Bomb
» Enterprising Russians Put Meteor Fragments for Sale on Local Auction Sites
» Hundreds Injured by Meteor Explosion in Russia
» Russian Meteor Largest in a Century
» Russian Meteor Shook Ground Like an Earthquake
» Russian Meteor Explosion Not Caused by Asteroid Flyby, NASA Scientist Says
» ‘Significant Thermal Explosion’: Meteorite Strike in Russia Injures Almost 1,000
 
South Asia
» Finmeccanica Trading Frozen as India Halts ‘Copter Purchase
» Indian Leopards Caged for Life as Attacks Spread
» Indonesia: Authorities Appeal for Calm After Latest Attack Against Churches in South Sulawesi
 
Far East
» Borneo: Kuala Lumpur Against 200 Filipino Muslim Militants Holed Up in Village
 
Australia — Pacific
» British Teen Backpacker Found in Australian Outback
 
Latin America
» Brazil’s Affirmative Action Law Offers a Huge Hand Up
 
Immigration
» Americans Don’t Want Blanket Amnesty of Illegal Aliens
 
Culture Wars
» Education (Excerpt From Book “The Master Plan”)
» Iceland Considers Pornography Ban
» UK: Racism Row Over Blyton Festival: Residents in Town Where Author Lived Clash Over Plaque to Honour Writer
 
General
» Intel to Bring Big Brother to Your Sitting Room
» The Insidious Globalist Control

Crisis Continuing in Italian Housing Sector, Says Agency

Housing sale prices drop 12% over past year, rents also lower

(ANSA) — Rome, February 15 — The housing crisis in Italy will continue well in 2013, after sales prices fell by 12% in 2012, the federation of real estate agents said Friday.

Since the global economic crisis that took hold in 2008, housing transactions have dropped a whopping 40%, said the organization.

And since 2008, prices have slipped an average of about 25% per year, Fiaip added.

Rents also slipped last year, by about 5.6%.

Downward pressure will continue in the first half of this year, with a mild recovery in the second half that could see 2013 values end at about the same level as in 2012, said Fiaip.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Draconian Cash Controls Are Coming to France

But spending cuts — whether corporate welfare projects or social programs — would be highly unpopular. Hence, the government’s emphasis on fighting tax fraud. Some estimates put tax fraud in the range of €60 to €80 billion per year, others at half that. Either way, a free gift. If the government could just get its hands on that money.

So Ayrault trotted out his national plan, a 20-page document that outlined his all-out effort to go after any kind of behavior that could possibly deprive the government of those sorely needed euros. A seamless fit for France’s principle: squeeze hapless “fiscal residents” like lemons to get their last drop of juice — fiscal residents, because citizens or foreigners who live in France only part of the year and pay taxes in some other country escape income taxes in France.

Stuffed into that 20-page national plan is a draconian tool: prohibiting cash payments of over €1,000 per purchase.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Economic Crisis Leads Italians to Cut Back Health Spending

Some two million older people can’t afford treatments, dru

(ANSA) — Rome, February 14 — Some two million Italians over the age of 65 have cut back spending on medicines and treatments that are not reimbursable under Italy’s national health service as the economic crisis bites ever harder.

According to new research published by Censis and based on figures previously presented in mid-2012, some nine million Italians chose not to see a specialist or take diagnostic tests for economic reasons. Other figures revealed how some 40% of older Italians chose to abandon taking prescribed tests due to lengthy waiting periods in public institutions whereas in “better” economic times whey would have sought assistance from the private sector and paid the difference out of their own pockets. According to the data, some 40% of families of low socio-economic status renounced health services, the largest single cluster.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

From SOTU to SNAFU

The President’s ideological devotion to the notion that government can “fix” every problem and create job growth is a Marxist fantasy

Despite the rosy scenario provided by the President’s State of the Union (SOTU) Speech on February 13, a far more realistic presentation was made On Feb 13 by Douglas W. Elmendorf, the Director of the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO is apolitical and non-partisan, relying solely on the cold hard facts about the economy that are gleaned from the data it gathers and its role of advising Congress.

The CBO are the government’s bean-counters and, not surprisingly, the mainstream media paid Elmendoft little attention, thus rendering Americans subject to the bloviations of the President and members of Congress who, as we know, have not received a budget from the White House in three years, despite the Constitutional obligation to provide one.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail

The deal was announced quietly, just before the holidays, almost like the government was hoping people were too busy hanging stockings by the fireplace to notice. Flooring politicians, lawyers and investigators all over the world, the U.S. Justice Department granted a total walk to executives of the British-based bank HSBC for the largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever. Yes, they issued a fine — $1.9 billion, or about five weeks’ profit — but they didn’t extract so much as one dollar or one day in jail from any individual, despite a decade of stupefying abuses.

People may have outrage fatigue about Wall Street, and more stories about billionaire greedheads getting away with more stealing often cease to amaze. But the HSBC case went miles beyond the usual paper-pushing, keypad-punching sort-of crime, committed by geeks in ties, normally associated with Wall Street. In this case, the bank literally got away with murder — well, aiding and abetting it, anyway.

For at least half a decade, the storied British colonial banking power helped to wash hundreds of millions of dollars for drug mobs, including Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, suspected in tens of thousands of murders just in the past 10 years — people so totally evil, jokes former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, that “they make the guys on Wall Street look good.” The bank also moved money for organizations linked to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and for Russian gangsters; helped countries like Iran, the Sudan and North Korea evade sanctions; and, in between helping murderers and terrorists and rogue states, aided countless common tax cheats in hiding their cash.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy Posts Biggest Trade Surplus Since 1999 in 2012

Exports up 3.7%, imports down 5.7%

(ANSA) — Rome, February 15 — Italy posted its biggest trade surplus since 1999 in 2012, 11 billion euros, Istat said Friday.

Exports rose 3.7% and imports fell 5.7% over the year, the statistics agency said.

A 74-billion-euro surplus in non-energy products played a large part in the results, it said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

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

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

This hidden tribute to the banks will come as a surprise to most people, who think that if they pay their credit card bills on time and don’t take out loans, they aren’t paying interest. This, says Dr. Kennedy, is not true. Tradesmen, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers all along the chain of production rely on credit to pay their bills. They must pay for labor and materials before they have a product to sell and before the end buyer pays for the product 90 days later. Each supplier in the chain adds interest to its production costs, which are passed on to the ultimate consumer. Dr. Kennedy cites interest charges ranging from 12% for garbage collection, to 38% for drinking water to, 77% for rent in public housing in her native Germany.

Her figures are drawn from the research of economist Helmut Creutz, writing in German and interpreting Bundesbank publications. They apply to the expenditures of German households for everyday goods and services in 2006; but similar figures are seen in financial sector profits in the United States, where they composed a whopping 40% of U.S. business profits in 2006. That was five times the 7% made by the banking sector in 1980. Bank assets, financial profits, interest, and debt have all been growing exponentially…

The implications of all this are stunning. If we had a financial system that returned the interest collected from the public directly to the public, 35% could be lopped off the price of everything we buy. That means we could buy three items for the current price of two, and that our paychecks could go 50% farther than they go today.

Direct reimbursement to the people is a hard system to work out, but there is a way we could collectively recover the interest paid to banks. We could do it by turning the banks into public utilities and their profits into public assets. Profits would return to the public, either reducing taxes or increasing the availability of public services and infrastructure.

By borrowing from their own publicly-owned banks, governments could eliminate their interest burden altogether. This has been demonstrated elsewhere with stellar results, including in Canada, Australia, and Argentina among other countries.

In 2011, the U.S. federal government paid $454 billion in interest on the federal debt — nearly one-third the total $1,100 billion paid in personal income taxes that year. If the government had been borrowing directly from the Federal Reserve — which has the power to create credit on its books and now rebates its profits directly to the government — personal income taxes could have been cut by a third.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Wants to Close Thousands of Businesses & Raise Unemployment

Many businesses in America, large, medium and small, are operating on shoestring budgets. As Obamacare began to kick in, hundreds of businesses began laying off staff to offset the increased costs they face under Obamacare. Consequently, thousands of people have lost their jobs, thanks to Obama and his Affordable Care Act.

Hundreds of other businesses, especially many small businesses have had to drop health benefits for their employees as they can no longer afford the higher premiums. Consequently, thousands of Americans who still have jobs have lost their employer provided healthcare plans. The vast majority of these employees cannot afford to purchase their own health insurance because the Affordable Care Act has driven prices beyond what is affordable. Consequently, thousands of Americans are finding themselves uninsured.

Then there are all of the tax increases that took effect this year that are also hitting business owners hard. If a business owner makes $250,000 or more a year, they are facing combined tax increases of 6%-10%.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Rand Paul Tears Into Obama’s $2 Trillion State of the Union Fiction

During the State of the Union, one of Obama’s biggest lies was the notion that “Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion — mostly through spending cuts, but also by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. As a result, we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.”

This is an antiquated leftist canard that relies on the idea that decreasing the rate at which the national debt increases magically equates to a cut because, well, it could be worse.

Obama’s run at least a trillion dollar budget deficit each year of his Presidency. Overall, he’s added around $6 trillion to the debt. Since he didn’t add $8.5 trillion, he’s calling that a $2.5 trillion cut. It’s lunacy, but that’s the argument he’s making.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Slovenia: S&P Downgrades Sovereign Debt to A- From A

Due to a potential growth of public debt

(ANSAmed) — LJUBLJANA, FEBRUARY 13 — Standard and Poor’s has downgraded Slovenia’s credit rating by one point, from A to A- due to a potential growth of public debt caused by the need to save the country’s main state-owned banks and the uncertain perspective of economic growth, media in Ljubljana reported on Wednesday. The US agency said this year the aid ‘which the Slovenian state is likely to give banks to clean their budget of bad debt will contribute to the growth of sovereign debt by a further three or four billion euros’. In such a case, Standard and Poor’s said, public debt would reach 59% of GDP, much more than what previously anticipated.

According to the agency, the country should close the year with a 3% deficit as measures of fiscal stabilization introduced in 2012 and those announced for the next few months are giving good results. Their implementation however is still cause for concern due to the political crisis after the conservative government of Janez Jansa lost its majority in parliament.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain’s Unemployed Find Treasure in Others’ Trash

For unemployed immigrants to Spain, there’s one last-resort “job” that sometimes pays more than minimum wage. It’s dumpster diving, and it’s particularly lucrative for former construction workers.

On a Barcelona street, a well-dressed, middle-aged Spanish man averts his eyes from onlookers as he reaches his arm deep into a dumpster.

It’s a scene that’s become more common since the economic crisis hit Spain, plunging the country into Europe’s deepest recession. According to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics, unemployment currently stands at 26 percent.

But for those who have immigrated to Spain the number is closer to 35 percent, and of the thousands of Spaniards now searching through dumpsters by night, many are immigrants.

“Here, take a look at this!” one says in broken Spanish. “This is junk metal, but it’s worth a bit of money.”

The Pakistani immigrant arrived in Spain four years ago to work in construction. Shortly after he arrived the industry collapsed. He lifts a few unbroken eggs out of a crate in a separate dumpster for organic waste. But he concentrates his energy more on the plastic cables or copper wire. He worked construction just long enough to make contacts with builders who are seeking cheap materials.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Wall Street’s Derivative Shell Game

Wall Street is now winding their way through the swiss cheese loophole maze financial reform is. Remember credit default swaps, those deadly, bad math, bad computation derivatives which were behind the financial crisis? These same types of risky derivatives are making a comeback masked as futures.

Wall street has found a new way to avoid regulation and continue their derivative CDS gambling casino and it is setting up the way for a new financial crisis. They are re-wrapping credit default swaps and other derivatives into futures, which are exempt from Dodd-Frank’s more stringent regulations.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why Should I Care About the U.S. Debt?

Our lawmakers should learn the lesson Europe is teaching us

You’re busy. So busy you barely have time to read these words. So why should you care about the U.S. debt? Does it affect your life?

Unfortunately, high government debt is having more of an impact on each of us than we realize. Heritage’s Romina Boccia explains that high levels of federal debt are linked to all of these problems for Americans:

Higher interest rates on mortgages, car loans, and other loans. For many people, this means having to wait to buy a home. High interest rates on loans can prevent people from getting a loan to start a business, make home improvements, or further their education.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Build the Pipeline! (No Matter What Daryl Hannah Thinks)

Unless you’d rather buy oil from Chavez or Putin

Fifteen months later, the Keystone XL pipeline still hasn’t been built. The Canadian government is losing patience. Gas prices are once again soaring around $4 a gallon. And President Obama is actually finding it difficult to choose between tens of thousands of new jobs and a major boost to America’s energy independence on the one hand, and a bunch of environmental extremists on the other hand.

The extremists got some good press yesterday, as they engaged in a show of so-called “civil disobedience” — choreographed ahead of time in conjunction with the police, mind you — in which they handcuffed themselves to the gates of the White House demanding that the project be shut down entirely.

The protesters included actress Daryl Hannah, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and one-time NAACP president Julian Bond, who used to engage in activism on behalf of things that were actually worthwhile.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Chris Matthews: Natural Rights and Second Amendment Are Racist

You know establishment liberals are desperate when they start throwing around the race card to defend their attacks on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

On Thursday, that’s exactly what former D.C. cop and MSNBC script reader Chris Matthews did — he called the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre a racist for daring to defend the god-given natural right of self-defense.

Unfortunately, the NRA boss discounted the primary reason there is a Second Amendment and safely framed his argument within parameters defined by the state.

“Gun owners are not buying firearms because they anticipate a confrontation with the government. Rather, we anticipate confrontations where the government isn’t there — or simply doesn’t show up in time,” he wrote.

In fact, many Americans are buying guns fully expecting to one day fight government tyranny. As Andrew Napolitano has pointed out, the Second Amendment was written to protect the right to shoot tyrants, not skeet shoot (a reference to Obama’s ridiculous claim — supposedly backed up by a photo — that he likes to go up to Camp David and skeet shoot).

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Elementary School Offers Tutoring… Unless You’re White

Wow! As we strive for a truly colorblind society, it’s quite apparent that the ones who hold us back are the ones who scream the loudest about equality. Those on the left blast those on the right, because we just want to recognize people for what they do, not what skin color they have. But, just like Barack Obama plays the race card over and over again, we have another example to point to. This time, it’s an elementary school in Denver that offers a tutoring program… unless you are white.

As reported by Denver’s CBS 4, the tutoring program at Mission Viejo Elementary in Aurora has come under fire, because it was not designed, nor did it welcome, all kids. If your child was white and needed tutoring, you were out of luck.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gun Rights: Are There Any Peaceful Solutions Left?

Throughout history, citizen disarmament generally leads to one of two inevitable outcomes: Government tyranny and genocide, or, revolution and civil war. Anti-gun statists would, of course, argue that countries like the UK and Australia have not suffered such a result. My response would be — just give them time. You may believe that gun control efforts are part and parcel of a totalitarian agenda (as they usually are), or, you may believe that gun registration and confiscation are a natural extension of the government’s concern for our “safety and well-being”. Either way, the temptation of power that comes after a populous is made defenseless is almost always too great for any political entity to dismiss. One way or another, for one reason or another, they WILL take advantage of the fact that the people have no leverage to determine their own cultural future beyond a twisted system of law and governance which is, in the end, easily corrupted. The unawake and the unaware among us will also argue that revolution or extreme dissent against the establishment is not practical or necessary, because the government “is made of regular people like us, who can be elected or removed at any time”.

This is the way a Republic is supposed to function, yes. However, the system we have today has strayed far from the methods of a Free Republic and towards the machinations of a single party system. Our government does NOT represent the common American anymore. It has become a centralized and Sovietized monstrosity. A seething hydra with two poisonous heads; one Democrat in name, one Republican in name. Both heads feed the same bottomless stomach; the predatory and cannibalistic pit of socialized oligarchy…

Approximately 283 county Sheriffs and multiple police officers have taken a hard stand, stating that they will either not aid federal enforcement officials with gun control related activities, or, that they will not allow such activities within their county, period:

cspoa.org/sheriffs-gun-rights/

This trend of dissent amongst law enforcement officials debunks the nihilistic view promoted by disinformation agents that “no one in law enforcement will have the guts to stand up to the government no matter how sour it turns”. It has also shaken the Obama Administration enough that the White House is struggling to counter it by wining and dining police unions and sheriffs departments in order to form their own “coalition of the willing”. Obama seems to believe that holding press conferences using children or police as background props will somehow earn him political capital in the battle for gun rights, but I have my doubts:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Guns and Ammo Production Maxed Out: “This is a Society Preparing for War”

President Barack Obama is, arguably, the best gun salesman ever. Over 65 million guns have been purchased since the President took office in 2009. FBI background check statistics indicate that, over the last twelve months, Americans purchased a new gun every 1.5 seconds, a figure which suggests there is much more to the recent panic buying than people just stocking up to go hunting or sports shooting.

The following guns and ammo industry report indicates that every major gun and ammunition manufacturer in the country is running at 100% capacity, with many so far behind that they’ve stopped taking new orders altogether.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Hagel Derailed — For Now

Unfortunately, Republicans’ newfound character may be a temporary aberration

Defying a furious White House and Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans successfully filibustered Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense. The tally was 58-40, with one “present” vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) switched his vote from “yes” to “no,” a procedural move that allows him to revisit Hagel’s nomination after the Senate recess. The move was historic, in that a Cabinet Secretary has never been successfully filibustered before. Republicans claimed they will allow an up-or-down vote on Hagel only after they get more information about the debacle in Benghazi. For the moment, Obama’s dangerous foreign policy agenda, personified by the Hagel nomination, has been slowed. But it will not be for long.

Republicans also want more information from Hagel himself. They blame Democrats for attempting to rush the vote, and the White House for failing to provide more information regarding compensation Hagel received for speeches he has made. Earlier this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) argued that such records were necessary because Hagel may have given speeches, or received compensation, from “radical or extreme groups.” This allegation enraged Hagel supporters, who characterized it as “McCarthyite,” but Cruz didn’t back down. “We saw with this nomination something truly extraordinary, which is the government of Iran formally and publicly praising the nomination of a Defense Secretary,” said Cruz on Tuesday. “I would suggest to you that to my knowledge that is unprecedented, to see a foreign nation like Iran publicly celebrating a nomination.”…

On Tuesday, it was learned that Hagel did not include to Senate investigators two speeches he made regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. His supporters in the Senate and the administration claimed those speeches were “informal,” and thus it was not required that he turn them over to the Senate Armed Services Committee. In fairness, one of those speeches, given before the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) on June 13, 2008, was hardly the “smoking gun” many on the right was hoping it would be. Yet it contained one disquieting element that dovetails quite nicely with a president who believes that American exceptionalism isn’t particularly exceptional and that Islamic jihad is a jingoistic fantasy. According to Hagel, “there’s not one religion, not one region of the world… that represents the most valued and real human dimensions more than any other… I don’t find any one religion where people love their children more than the other religions, or whether they want peace more than other religions…I’ve never found that difference, whether you’re Jewish, Muslim Buddhist, Christian.”

Perhaps Chuck has missed the copious amount of information that reveals the culture of hate embraced by Palestinians, including a TV character named Farfur, a Mickey Mouse look-alike “martyred” in the show’s last episode, after being beaten to death by a Jew. Maybe he’s never heard about Palestinian children being trained as suicide bombers. The content of the second speech, given at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies on September 22, 2008, remains unavailable.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Harrison Ford Set to Reprise Role as Han Solo 30 Years on in Star Wars 7

The 70-year-old actor — who starred in the original Star Wars trilogy between 1977 and 1983 along with Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher — will reportedly return to the franchise after 30 years for the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Wars 7, according to Latino-Review.com.

Latino Review editor El Mayimbe told FoxNewsLatino: ‘He is officially coming back as Han Solo.

‘His deal is done. It’s just formalities right now. They haven’t really announced it yet. That’s the big one right now.’

Harrison — whose character ended up with Carrie’s alter ego Princess Leia in 1983’s Return of the Jedi — was previously said to be enthusiastic about returning to the franchise, which was bought by Disney from creator George Lucas last year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Maryland Gov. Abusing Email Privacy to Push Gun Control Agenda

“Tapping the state’s Department of Natural Resources database for hunting licenses” in order to gain access to the addresses.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley seems to have used his power as Governor to utilize the personal emails of hundreds of Marylanders holding hunting licenses in order to push his anti-gun agenda.

Patrick Shomo, the president of the pro-gun rights organization Maryland Shall Issue, told The Washington Times that Governor O’Malley is “tapping the state’s Department of Natural Resources database for hunting licenses” in order to gain access to the addresses.

Marylanders that hold state hunting licenses received an email from Gov. O’Malley on February 7 that was ostensibly informing them about the state’s hunting news. At the end of the message, though, O’Malley suddenly pivoted to an anti-gun message.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Minnesota: ‘Long-Simmering’ Tension at South High Leads to ‘All-Out Brawl’

That “all-out brawl” at South High in Minneapolis got coverage from virtually every local outlet. At WCCO-TV, Esme Murphy reports: “Twelve people complained that they had been sprayed with mace. Police at the scene said they had to use chemical agent to get the crowd under control as they were being pelted with objects as they tried to break things up. … [One student] said the fights were over pride. ‘I know it’s a pride thing between Muslims and black people,’ she said. ‘They want their pride back for something. I don’t know.’ She also said ‘boys were hitting girls’ and that some people were lying on the floor, with their hands over their heads, in surrender.… The fight, students say, was the result of long-simmering tensions between the 8 percent of students who are Somali Americans and the 20 percent who are African Americans.”

The Strib story, by Paul Walsh and Kelly Smith, says, “Guled Omar, a senior, said he was sitting in the cafeteria when the outburst began after a boy hit a girl. ‘I don’t feel safe here,’ Omar said. ‘This is something that has been going on’ for at least two years, he said. ‘I don’t know if it’s because we’re minorities of the newest immigrant group,’ Omar added, saying he has complained to the principal and the School District.”

KSTP-TV’s story, reported by Joe Mazan, says: “Classes will be in session Friday, the district said Thursday evening. The school will implement a safety plan ‘to ensure that there is support for a safe learning environment.’ Additional counselors and support staff will be on hand. The school will operate under a ‘code yellow’ Friday. Students will remain in their classrooms during class periods and access in and out of the building will be limited. The school will be on its normal schedule.”

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]

Only in Obama’s World: A Medal for Keyboard Heroes

“Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Wednesday that for the first time the Pentagon is creating a medal that can be awarded to troops who have a direct impact on combat operations, but do it from afar.” (NBC News, Feb. 13, 2013).

In other words, medals for the conveniently safe with no skin in the game.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Religious Heathens

“And it is appointed unto men (and nations) once to die, and after this the judgment.” — Hebrews 9:27

A few days after our last mock elections, I noticed a sign outside an A.M.E. church. “Focus on God,” the sign read. It’s a little late for religious piety, I thought.

Since 93 percent of black voters and 72 percent of Hispanic voters chose to put their trust in a Kenyan Communist, it’s a little late to start remembering that governments and governors are accountable to the Almighty, who judges both men and nations.

Generations of Americans have been weaned on a socialist gospel rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s apparent too that millions have been indoctrinated with racial hatred by the very folks who are supposed to teach the love of Christ.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Scuttling the Ship of State to Appease Climate Activists

State of the Union Address reveals dangerous flaws in U.S. energy policy

If it were actually true that “Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods — all are now more frequent and intense”, as the President said in his address, then he should be boosting the most affordable and reliable energy sources to prepare for and cope with these hazards. After all, we would need more electricity to handle greater demands for air conditioning and heating. More power would be required to irrigate lands, build dikes, strengthen public infrastructure and relocate populations living on flood plains or at risk from tornadoes and hurricanes.

Yet, in discussing his solution to these dangers, Obama promoted wind and solar power, the least reliable and most expensive sources. He said nothing about the most reliable and cheapest energy source available — coal, from which comes half of all America’s electricity.

The President presents the transition to wind and solar as drivers of strong economic growth. This is a serious mistake. Even though wind and solar power have had decades to mature, energy from these sources still costs between three and ten times that from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear. While Obama was right to say that, “Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America”, this only happened because the American government funneled vast amounts of money into subsidies for the field. The U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that for 2010, non-hydroelectric renewable electricity generation was still only 3.6% of all generation even though it received 53.5% of all federal financial support for the electric power sector.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Fourth Amendment is Now Optional

It came out a couple of weeks ago: the executive summary of a report issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) called, “Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Impact Assessment: Border Searches of Electronic Devices.”

Basically, the DHS was charged with the responsibility of determining whether or not its policy of seizing laptops and cell phones from travelers is a violation of both civil and constitutional rights.

Any moderately-educated American could answer that question quite simply — but no, we had to spend a few more tax dollars for the government to figure that one out. And you’ll never guess what the DHS concluded…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Trolley Folly in Kansas City, Missouri!

Too many politicians, unions, attorneys, accountants, engineers, architects, etc., appear to migrate towards non-government organizations (NGOs) with federal grant money (U. S. taxpayers’ money) and manipulators with nefarious agendas for their own personal benefit. When these seemingly disparate connivers meet up, common sense and representative government are crushed. These assaults upon people’s freedoms are not limited to the hood rats inside our nation’s capital, the District of Corruption. The D. C. dictatorial disease can be felt at all levels of government as well. Consider the ‘trolley folly’ in Kansas City, Missouri.

The latest assault in Kansas City is an artificially created Transportation Development District (TDD) founded under Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 238. This TDD appears to be another beachhead in the unconstitutional ‘sustainable development/U. N. Agenda 21’ campaign that is being forced upon us at all levels of government. The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) is a NGO sustainable development proponent that partners with our local public television network to funnel U. S. taxpayers’ money to sustainable development and social equity (a true oxymoron) projects throughout the Kansas City metropolitan region. It is funneling $18 million towards this project. Planning is already in the works for six extensions to the system, even though construction has not been started on the initial, 2.2-mile route between Kansas City’s River Market area and it’s Union Station. Doesn’t this expansion smack of putting the ‘trolley before the horse’?

[…]

Everything was engineered to suppress the vote. Realizing that they would never capture the approval of the owners of record of the real property within the district, the proponents of the trolley opted for Option 1, a majority vote of ‘qualified’ voters within the district. Who was a ‘qualified voter’? Only residents within the district; property owners, even those who live within the city of Kansas City, Missouri, were not allowed to vote unless they reside within the district. Notification of the vote was also suppressed. As a result, a whopping 500 votes were cast, with the proponents capturing 60% of the ‘qualified’ residents’ votes. Ultimately, approximately 300 ‘qualified’ voters passed a $100,000,000.00 project!

How is this project to be paid for? There is a one-cent sales tax to be added to the existing sales tax rate. Additionally, there will be a levy assessed to all of the property owners within the district, the same individuals who were not allowed to vote on the project. And the abuse doesn’t stop there. Because a levy is not defined as a tax, all churches and non-profit organizations within the district will be assessed a levy.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.S. Files Charges Against Jesse L. Jackson Jr. In Campaign Funds Case

The Justice Department filed fraud and conspiracy charges on Friday against former Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr., saying that he used about $750,000 in campaign money for personal expenses that included a Michael Jackson fedora and cashmere capes.

The 10-page document filed in federal court by prosecutors in Washington offered details of Mr. Jackson’s use of campaign money. He has agreed to plead guilty to the charges, although a date for him to accept the plea deal before a judge has not yet been set.

Mr. Jackson’s wife, Sandra Stevens, was also charged with one count of filing false tax returns.

[Return to headlines]

Who Tells Us What to Think? Does the Mainstream Media = the Matrix?

Do you believe that you really think for yourself? Did you come up with your attitudes, opinions and beliefs on your own, or are they continually being shaped and molded by someone else? Could it be possible that you and everyone around you is actually hooked into a real life version of “the matrix” that is constantly defining your reality for you? Sadly, the truth is that almost all of us have willingly hooked ourselves into a colossal media system that literally tells us what to think. In the United States today, the average American watches 153 hours of television a month.

We also spend huge amounts of time watching movies, surfing the Internet, reading books and magazines, playing video games and listening to music. Many Americans are so addicted to being “connected” that they will actually become physically uncomfortable if they are at home and there is total silence. Unfortunately, as I pointed out in a previous article, somewhere around 90 percent of the “information” that we are allowing to be endlessly pumped into our heads is owned by just 6 gigantic media corporations. So could it be possible that the thousands of hours of “news and entertainment” that you are allowing these gigantic corporations to fill your head with each year is having an effect on you? Does the mainstream media have more control over you than you ever dreamed possible? If you want to continue on in blissful ignorance, stop reading now, but if you want to take “the red pill”, keep on reading because the further down the rabbit hole you go, the stranger that things get.

When you go to work or to school in the morning, what is everyone talking about?

Usually, people are talking about something that they saw on television or that they heard about in the news.

In our society today, the limited interactions that we do have with other people are usually defined by our mutual connection to the media…

Let me just give you one example of how the mainstream media shapes the news. For decades, there was almost a complete and total media blackout on the Bilderberg Group meetings that happen every year. Top newspaper executives from the United States would actually attend these meetings, but then their newspapers would not say a single word about them.

If anyone out there did bring up “the Bilderberg Group”, they were dismissed as wacky “conspiracy theorists” and were told that it simply does not exist.

Of course now we all know that it does exist, although the mainstream media in the U.S. still mostly ignores it. In fact, this has been by design. The following is what David Rockefeller is alleged to have said during a Bilderberg Group meeting back in 1991…

We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. … It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.”

Even today, many prominent “journalists” in the U.S. mock people when they bring up the Bilderberg Group. For example, Lawrence O’Donnellof MSNBC says that he is “way too lazy” to look into the Bilderberg Group and that he “doesn’t know about it, so it must not exist”…

Instead of telling us what is really going on in the world, the mainstream media keeps us endlessly distracted.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why 1.6 Billion Bullets? Because Government Wants to Save You Money, Of Course

Other government agencies have stocked up, buying more than 1.6 billion bullets (and counting) in recent months. That’s enough ammo for five bullets per head in the American population. The astounding purchase records are admitted fact, but the question is Why?

The Associated Press addressed the question, noting the subject as a hot topic on the Internet and among ‘conspiracy theorists.’ The news agency quoted Alex Jones, writing,

“Published federal notices about the ammo buy have agitated conspiracy theorists since the fall. That’s when conservative radio host Alex Jones spoke of an “arms race against the American people” and said the government was “gearing up for total collapse, they’re gearing up for huge wars.”

But according to the AP, the real reason, at least the explanation given by government officials, is far “less sinister.” It’s about nothing more than saving money…

However, Infowars reporters, including Paul Joseph Watson, have noted the alignment of mass quantity bullet purchases with government contingency plans for containing civil unrest in the event of economic collapse, mass-scale terrorism, civil war or widespread natural disaster. Any one of these scenarios could destabilize society, but government would have enough ammunition to wage a 30-year war against Americans, or presumably, to keep the population in line under martial law occupation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

You Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists — Or Democrats

Leaving aside for the moment the likelihood that parties and party politics in America will become moot within the next few years (owing to the emergence of a single party or the country’s dissolution into civil war), conservatives and libertarians are finding themselves at an unpleasant crossroads. While some observers gave up on the leadership of the Republican Party long ago, it is now becoming apparent to rank-and-file Republicans that the GOP leadership and its prominent operatives are wholly complicit in the fundamental transformation of America.

While these might not be on board with the “fundamental transformation” as referenced by candidate Obama in 2008 (his being a dedicated Marxist and all), they are indeed working in concert with Democrats to bring about a monolithic socialist state. Worse, many said Republicans have been masquerading as staunch conservatives and are acknowledged as such, so they are accepted by committed conservative voters.

As the parchment upon which the Constitution is written approaches 451 degrees, some are now being openly accused of their treason, because the causes and effects thereof have become apparent. A preponderance of conservatives and libertarians have recognized the deeply malignant designs of the Obama administration, with which there is no good faith negotiation. Thus, they do not expect anything that even resembles weakness from those who claim to be opposed to the course the President has set…

For decades, people have scoffed at the idea that powerful Republicans were indeed compromising American interests in favor of various global socialist agendas, even as evidence continued to mount. Charges that were leveled 30 years ago have been validated, yet the scoffing continues. In 1992, President George H. W. Bush signed the U.S. onto the United Nations’ Agenda 21. This is now widely recognized as an insidious means by which the economies of Western nations — America in particular — might be crippled under the pretext of “sustainability.” At this point it is quite clear that Agenda 21 is sinister, yet prominent faux conservatives titter right along with liberals at this notion.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Ontario: Wynne’s Balanced Budget Promise Requires Action

Dalton McGuinty pulled the plug on a dysfunctional government last October. For a government that adds $53.5 million each day to the provincial debt and is leaving Ontario taxpayers with an incomprehensible $255 billion debt, dysfunctional is putting it nicely.

Putting Ontario’s fiscal house in order needs to be the top priority for every MPP at Queen’s Park. And with an election on the horizon, it particularly needs to be high on the list for newly minted Premier Kathleen Wynne…

Economist Don Drummond gave 362 recommendations and warned that if drastic steps and structural changes were not made, the deficit would inflate to nearly $30 billion by 2017-18.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

800 More Children Permanently Harmed by Vaccines

(NaturalNews) More evidence has emerged showing that the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) vaccine Pandemrix, which was widely administered throughout Europe during the 2009-2010 H1N1 influenza “pandemic,” was responsible for causing serious and permanent side effects in many of the children that received it. At least 800 children, it turns out, many of whom live in Sweden, now have narcolepsy because of the vaccine, and some government officials are demanding answers.

As we reported back in March 2012, a study published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE found that cases of narcolepsy, an incurable sleeping disorder that can cause hallucinations, nightmares, and even paralysis, skyrocketed by about 1,700 percent in children and teenagers under the age of 17 following the widespread administration of Pandemrix. Scientists determined at the time that mass vaccination campaigns for Pandemrix were directly associated with this otherwise inexplicable spike in cases of narcolepsy.

Now, researchers have all but confirmed without a doubt that Pandemrix was, indeed, responsible for triggering the autoimmune disorder in a significantly higher percentage of the population than normal. Even Emmanuel Mignot, one of the world’s leading experts on narcolepsy who is currently being funded by GSK to get to the bottom of the issue, explained to reporters that there is “no doubt in [his] mind whatsoever” that Pandemrix is directly responsible for causing the increase in narcolepsy cases among European children.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

British Cops Will be Allowed to Confiscate Material From Journalists

Police are set to be given new powers to seize confidential material from journalists.

In a worrying blow to Press freedom, the changes may also mean journalists will be forced to identify whistleblowers to the police.

Critics said the Home Office proposals, which follow recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson, would undermine investigative journalism and free speech.

It is feared that the changes will remove legal protections for anyone who releases material to reporters unless journalists can show their source did not breach confidentiality or act illegally.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

French Culture Minister Invites Bollywood to Alps

French Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti urged Bollywood producers to consider the benefits of filming in the French Alps on Friday during a two day trip accompanying President François Hollande in India.

France’s culture minister, Aurélie Filippetti, told Bollywood filmmakers on Friday to choose France over neighbouring countries when shooting their next mountain scene.

Filippetti, who is one of six government members accompanying President François Hollande on his two-day trip to India, cited beneficial changes in tax and visa regulations introduced by the Socialist government.

“In the world of Indian cinema, particularly Bollywood, mountain scenes are often filmed in Switzerland or the Czech Republic,” she told reporters at a press conference in New Delhi. “(So) in France we have introduced tax breaks and more flexible visa regulations for foreign artists and technicians in order to better accommodate them.

“I hope we can welcome more Indian artists so that the French mountains can become a part of Indian filmmaking,” she added.

India is the world’s largest producer of movies and around four billion cinema tickets are sold in the country each year.

India is celebrating 100 years of filmmaking this year, and will serve as guest of honour at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

German Von Freyberg Made New Vatican Bank Chief

‘Full consent’ of outgoing pope

(ANSA) — Rome, February 15 — The Vatican on Friday appointed German lawyer Ernst Freiherr von Freyberg as head of the embattled Vatican Bank, ending intense media speculation over the nomination.

Von Freyberg was appointed by the bank’s commission of cardinals with the pope’s “full consent”, the Vatican said.

However Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi denied that Pope Benedict XVI, who on Monday announced his resignation with effect from the end of the month, knew the new bank chief personally.

The bank, otherwise known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), has been under the interim leadership of the vice-president Ronaldo Hermann Schmit since former president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was fired by the supervisory board in May 2012 amid reported disagreements on moves to join a list of financially transparent countries.

Von Freyberg, 55, is an active member of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta and the co-leader of the Association for Pilgrimages to Lourdes of the Archdiocese of Berlin.

On Thursday media reported that Belgian banker Bernard De Corte had been made president but the Vatican refused to confirm the rumours.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

German Finance Minister Denies ‘Interfering’ In Italy Vote

‘Schaeuble considers political developments positive’

(ANSA) — Berlin, February 15 — German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Friday denied trying to interfere in the outcome of upcoming elections in Italy following earlier statements apparently advising Italians not to vote for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi.

“The minister had spoken of the political and economic developments in Italy in recent months, considering them positive,” a ministry spokesman said.

Schaeuble had also stressed the positive impact of this situation on the markets, he said.

On Thursday the German finance minister drew the ire of top brass of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party after telling the weekly Espresso magazine that Italians should not “repeat their former mistake by continuing to vote for (Berlusconi)” in February 24 and 25 polls on grounds that a return to power by the media magnate would considerably weaken Italy and the whole of Europe. He also said the country needed to remain on the path of stability charted by technocrat Premier Mario Monti, who was brought in to replace Berlusconi in November 2011 at the height of the sovereign-debt crisis in the eurozone. “The German minister Wolfgang Schaeuble’s declarations show that Germany now openly claims the right to intervene in the choice of the next Italian government, as though Italy were a country with limited sovereignty or an area under German influence,” said PdL national coordinator Sandro Bondi.

Berlusconi is leading the centre-right election campaign against the centre left led by Pier Luigi Bersani of the Democratic Party (PD), the frontrunner before a pre-election blackout of opinion surveys kicked in last week. The two main coalitions are followed by the populist and anti-establishment Five Star Movement of Genoa comedian Beppe Grillo and a coalition of centrist parties on a reform platform led by Monti.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

German Church Becomes Mosque

“The New Normal”

by Soeren Kern

Muslim plans to convert a former Lutheran church in the city of Hamburg into a mosque is generating controversy across Germany.

From Berlin to Dortmund to Mönchengladbach, the gradual proliferation of mosques housed in former churches reflects the rise of Islam as the fastest growing religion in post-Christian Germany. In the most recent case, the church would be the first converted into a mosque in the second-largest city in Germany.

The latest dust-up involves the former Kapernaumkirche (Capernaum Church), located in the Horn district in downtown Hamburg. The church, a cultural heritage site, was abandoned in 2002 for financial reasons due to declining membership.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Forced Out: A Berlin Family’s Eviction Sparks Violent Protest

Violent protests broke out in Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood on Thursday after a Turkish family was forced to leave their apartment for refusing to pay higher rent. Cars were set ablaze and demonstrators scuffled with police. The long simmering conflict reveals continued tension over the city’s rising rents.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italian Center-Right Denounces ‘Clockwork Justice’

Politicians accuse judges of electoral tampering

(ANSA) — Milan, February 13 — Italian centre-right leaders fumed on Wednesday against “clockwork” probes hitting the electoral campaign after a series of high profile legal woes hit leading PdL figures and recent centre-right governance.

After Silvio Berlusconi’s broadsides against “Jacobin judges”, People of Freedom (PdL) party secretary Angelino Alfano accused judges on Wednesday of “critical conditioning of the electoral campaign”. Alfano said Wednesday’s conviction of Raffaele Fitto — a former cabinet minister in the government of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi — on fraud related charges in Bari, was a “sentence with an electoral imprint”.

Alfano also called accusations against outgoing Lombardy Governor Roberto Formigoni “out of this world”.

On Tuesday, Milan prosecutors closed an investigation into the Pavia-based Maugeri healthcare foundation that names outgoing Lombardy Governor Roberto Formigoni (PdL) among its suspects.

Formigoni, who denies wrongdoing, faces charges of criminal conspiracy related to health-sector contracts and allegedly pocketing eight million euros in gifts and benefits.

Formigoni also lashed out against the prosecutors on Tuesday for their timing, hinting that it was politically motivated.

“The timing of the prosecutors is, as always, very efficient. How far is one willing to go to cover the scandal at MPS, which risks crushing the left?” Formigoni asked, referring to a fraud probe currently underway at lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which is closely associated with Italy’s left-wing establishment.

Even PdL ally Roberto Maroni, ex-interior minister under Berlusconi’s last administration and member of the Northern League, spoke of “clockwork justice” on Wednesday. Maroni is running on the centre-right ticket for Lombardy governor in the February elections. Adding to the centre-right’s legal woes, Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi — appointed under the centre-right’s watch in 2011 — was arrested on Monday in a corruption probe of Italy’s State-owned defense and aerospace giant.

Senate leader for the left’s Democratic Party (PD), Anna Finocchiaro, reacted to the torrent of laments from centre-right politicians saying, “Enough with accusations against the judiciary”.

Outgoing Italian Premier Mario Monti, who is campaigning in national parliamentary elections, said he was convinced that “news events can not influence the opinions of citizens”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Rejects Berlusconi’s Claim of PD Vote Share

Outgoing premier does not exclude collaboration with many forces

(ANSA) — Rome, February 13 — Outgoing Premier Mario Monti Wednesday rejected ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s claim that a vote for his coalition was effectively a vote for the Democratic Party (PD). “This is a profound falsehood, which I believe Berlusconi knows,” Monti told journalists in Perugia. “In the PD-SEL (center-left) coalition I see many profound obstacles to reforms undertaken by my government that are essential to create a more dynamic Italian economy and society,” Monti said. Leader of the left-wing SEL party and center-left coalition partner Nichi Vendola was opposed to Monti’s emergency technocrat government, unlike coalition leader Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic Party (PD), which supported it. Both Vendola and the outgoing premier have said they would not be in the same government together, although the Italian press has speculated they might reach an accomodation. With around 10% of projected votes, Monti’s coalition has said it will support any party, right or left, if it upholds the reform policies his government has implemented since replacing Berlusconi at the peak of the euro crisis near the end of 2011.

Polls have suggested that Bersani’s PD is favoured to win the elections, but may not have a working majority in the Senate.

This has led to speculation that Bersani could make a post-election pact with former European commissioner Monti, who is standing for office on a reform platform and polling fourth for the February 24-25 vote.

Monti said that he had no regrets about getting into politics when he stepped in at the height of the euro crisis 15 months ago. Speaking at an ANSA forum, Monti said he had been happy to accept the invitation from President Giorgio Napolitano to become a life Senator and take over from Silvio Berlusconi with Italy on the brink of a Greece-style crisis. “It was his choice, not mine,” said the former European commissioner. As for his decision to run for premier at the head of a reformist coalition, criticised by Berlusconi, Monti said “up till now, I haven’t regretted it (but) everything depends on the result”. But he added that the move, which he has repeatedly said was against his nature, came at the cost of “great personal sacrifice”. The premier denied having dropped reservations about being in government with Vendola. “There has not been any type of opening on my part with Vendola,” Monti told ANSA. Monti said political interference in the Italian economy was “depressing”. The former European Union trust-buster cited an ongoing corruption probe involving government-controlled aerospace giant Finmeccanica and voiced the hope he might be able to change things if he had a continuing part in government following the elections.

Monti said that he did “not exclude that a fairly long period of collaboration with all available forces” could be needed as Italy exits from its financial emergency. Monti said an election win for Berlusconi would pose “big risks of reviving the financial fire” Italy was going through when Monti took over from Berlusconi 15 months ago. In Germany, honorary Christian Social Union (CSU) President Edmund Stoiber also said on Wednesday that if Berlusconi wins in the upcoming elections, “all of Europe will pay the price”. The former Bavarian regional chief said at a political Ash Wednesday rally in Passau that “one can only hope that the Italian people hold up a red card in the coming elections”.

Monti accused Berlusconi of making “unlimited promises” in his election bid.

Monti promised a “radical” plan for schools in Italy and to cut expenses for Italian families. His plan, which he outlined at the ANSA forum, includes more school resources, evaluating quality standards, new policies for staff, and “sustaining families by reducing costs incurred”.

It would be a “great idea” to vote a woman as next Italian president, Monti said, and added he was happy he had three women in key posts, at justice, interior and labour.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Calls for Further Laws Against White-Collar Crime

Says his anti-corruption measures still don’t go far enough

(ANSA) — Rome, February 13 — Outgoing Premier Mario Monti said Wednesday that if elected, he would take further measures against white-collar crime.

Speaking to an election forum organized by ANSA, Monti said that his government’s earlier anti-corruption measures were good and necessary.

But if elected this month, he said, he would implement “other measures especially to combat money laundering,” and other related crimes.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: IMU Tax Puts Hoteliers at Risk, Says Federalberghi

Association says establishments paying 80% more

(ANSA) — Rome, February 13 — Hundreds, “if not thousands”, of hotels in Italy risk closure due to the IMU property levy imposed last year by the technocrat government of Premier Mario Monti, hoteliers association Federalberghi President Bernabo’ Bocca said Wednesday.

According to Federalberghi, the association’s 34,000 hotels in Italy had to pay an average of 16,850 euros, or 523 euros per room in taxes.

In contrast to the previous ICI tax, the IMU is 80% higher, Bocca said.

The house tax, which Monti reintroduced after ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi abolished it in 2008, has come under fire from all sides of the political spectrum.

Berlusconi has vowed to abolish it and refund taxpayers if he wins the February 24-25 elections while his main rivals, including Monti, have promised to ease it.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Constitutional Court Shoots Down ILVA Prosecutors’ Petition

Court denies petitions against government

(ANSA) — Rome, February 13 — Petitions challenging the government’s ‘Save ILVA’ law brought by Taranto prosecutors were rejected Wednesday by Italy’s Constitutional Court.

The court ruled as inadmissible two petitions claiming the Italian government had overstepped its jurisdictional boundaries in attempting to support the troubled ILVA steelworks.

The ruling was based on the likelihood the law will ultimately be appealed, explained the Constitutional Court, adding that the matter will continue to be heard in April.

Prosecutors had claimed the government went too far with its law passed late last year which allows ILVA to remain in production while much-needed environmental upgrades are carried out.

The court rejected prosecutors’ claim that the law, as well as the government decree that preceded it, each involved a conflict between the powers of government and the judiciary.

Prosecutors have been attempting since last summer to close the polluting steel plant, deemed a health hazard, while labour unions and the government have been fighting to save it and its 20,000 related jobs.

In another move against the company, late last month, the local courts ordered the seizure of steel and semi-finished products from the plant pending the Constitutional Court ruling.

The products, weighing in the region of 1.8 million tonnes and worth a billion euros, were left lying on the company docks.

In response, ILVA’s president warned that if the plant, in the southern port city of Taranto, was not fully reopened, as many as 8,000 workers could be placed on indefinite leave.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi ‘Bribes Justification’ Causes Pre-Election Stir

‘Was he referring to himself?’ asks arch-enemy Fini

(ANSA) — Rome, February 14 — The Italian political and judicial establishment was unanimous Thursday in condemning Silvio Berlusconi’s contention that bribes are an inevitable part of doing business in the third world. “The claim that we should become accustomed to illegality as a situation that is necessary and inevitable, as an ill that we must live with, is unacceptable,” said Rodolfo Sabelli, chief of the judges and prosecutors’ union ANM. Earlier in the day the ex-premier sparked a pre-election flap by saying criticism of bribes such as those suspected in a major helicopter deal by Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica with India amounted to “facile moralism”.

“It is not a question of moralism,” continued Sabelli. “There is a provision in the criminal code that also punishes international corruption. And we have been reprimanded by Europe and the whole world for corruption in every form, because it is universally considered to seriously damage the economy and investments”. The Democratic Party (Pd), which is leading the centre left in its bid for election victory on February 24 and 25, slammed Berlusconi’s comments as “a justification for bribes”. “Berlusconi has confessed,” said former ally and now arch-enemy Gianfranco Fini, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Italy’s lower house.

“To say that it may be necessary to pay a bribe means being ready to corrupt in order to reach an objective. Who knows if he was referring to himself?” Even centre-right ally Roberto Maroni, former interior minister and leader of the regionalist Northern League, distanced himself from the comments.

“The system of bribes must be fought everywhere, it is a universal challenge. This is my position of total intransigence concerning this system,” he said. On Tuesday Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi was arrested in connection to a probe into international corruption relating to the 2010 sale of 12 helicopters to India.

New Delhi on Thursday said it had frozen payment on the supply pending the results of investigations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘It’s Worth Promoting Economic NATO’

The European Union and United States say they will soon begin negotiations to create the world’s largest free-trade zone. German editorialists argue a deal is necessary if the West wants to help shape global politics and address the challenge of a rising China.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Napolean’s Gold Ring to go on Auction in Paris

A simple diamond and sapphire engagement ring that Napoleon Bonaparte offered to his first wife Josephine goes on auction near Paris next month, the auction house Osenat said on Friday.

The gold ring is topped by two pear-shaped stones and is estimated to fetch up to 12,000 euros ($16,000) at the March 24 auction in Fontainebleau, south of Paris.

“At the time, Napoleon had very little money. The ring is a very ordinary one,” Jean-Christophe Chataignier, who head Osenat’s department of historical objects, told AFP.

Napoleon married Josephine, the widow of French aristocrat Alexandre de Beauharnais, on March 9, 1796 just days after announcing their engagement.

The marriage was not well received by Napoleon’s family who were shocked he had married an older widow with two children. Two days after the wedding Napoleon left to lead the French army in Italy.

The couple divorced in 1810 due to Josephine’s inability to bear Napoleon a child.

Despite numerous affairs, remarriage and then exile, Napoleon never forgot her and his last words, according to those near him on his death bed, were: “France. The army. The head of the army. Josephine.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Last Supper: Germany’s Great Church Sell-Off

Dwindling church attendance and dire financial straits are forcing the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Germany to sell off church buildings en masse. Some are demolished, while others are turned into restaurants or indoor rock climbing centers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Thieves Steal 200 Manhole Covers in Sicilian Town

Mayor appeals to citizens, urges caution in driving

(ANSA) — Gela, February 14 — Public safety authorities in the Sicilian city of Gela said on Thursday that they are battling an alarming trend of thievery involving manhole covers.

Robbers have stolen approximately 200 grates and iron covers, mostly on the city’s outskirts, leaving sewer holes dangerously exposed.

City Mayor Angelo Fasulo has launched an appeal for citizens to report the thieves if seen and to be extra-cautious on the road.

Those responsible are believed to be stealing the iron to resell.

Each cover costs the city 600 euros, meaning that the municipal budget to replace them so far is 120,000 euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

U. S. Military Turn Down Sicilian Officials’ MUOS Notice

(AGI) Palermo — U.S. officials at the Sigonella’s NAS in Sicily turned back officers serving notice of revoked MUOS concessions .

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

UK: BBC News Boss Who Presided Over Jimmy Savile Newsnight Scandal to Head Up Corporation’s Radio Network

The BBC’s most high-profile woman executive is moving to a new job just days before the release of explosive transcripts into the Corporation’s handling of the Savile scandal.

Helen Boaden, formerly director of news, is to become director of radio following months of speculation about her future.

The switch is technically a sideways move for Miss Boaden, 56, although some regard running the huge news operation as the bigger role.

Confirmation of her move comes shortly before the BBC publishes thousands of pages of evidence used by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard in his report into why Newsnight ditched an investigation into Jimmy Savile.

Miss Boaden, 56, had been criticised in the report for failing to tackle the ‘virtual meltdown’ in parts of the news department.

The testimonies, emails and texts are expected to be published at the end of next week and insiders admit that some of them may be embarrassing to a number of senior BBC executives.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Child Murderer Subhan Anwar Killed in Jail

Subhan Anwar is understood to have been held hostage in his cell at one of the UK’s most secure prisons before he was killed.

A child murderer has been killed in Worcestershire’s Long Lartin Prison, the Ministry of Justice has said.

Two prisoners are being held in police custody after the death of Subhan Anwar, who was jailed in 2009 for torturing and killing a two-year-old girl.

Anwar is understood to have been held hostage in his cell at the Category A jail before he was killed.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “An incident at HMP Long Lartin on Thursday February 14 resulted in the death of prisoner Subhan Anwar.

“Two prisoners are now in police custody and the matter is being investigated by police.”

A West Mercia Police spokesman said: “West Mercia Police has launched a murder investigation after a 24-year-old man died in Long Lartin prison last night.

“The body of the man was found by prison officers just before 8pm on Thursday, February 14.

“Two men aged 47 and 45 have been arrested on suspicion of murder and are currently in police custody.”

Anwar was jailed for a minimum of 23 years for the murder of his partner’s daughter Sanam Navsarka.

His partner Zahbeena Navsarka was cleared of her daughter’s murder but found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for nine years.

Anwar and Navsarka, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, were condemned for their cruel and selfish treatment of Sanam…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

UK: Child Killer Who Tortured Partner’s Two-Year-Old Daughter to Death is Found Dead in Cell as Two Prisoners Are Questioned on Suspicion of Murder

[WARNING: **** EXTREMELY DISTURBING CONTENT ***]

Two prisoners were today being questioned on suspicion of murder after a sadistic child killer who tortured his partner’s two-year-old daughter to death was found dead in his cell.

Subhan Anwar, 24, who was jailed for a minimum of 23 years in 2009 for the murder of Sanam Navsarka, is understood to have been held hostage in a cell at HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire before he was killed.

His partner Zahbeena Navsarka was cleared of her daughter’s murder but found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for nine years…

During their trial, Bradford Crown Court heard how the two-year-old had all her limbs broken, had been locked in a cupboard and was put in a tumble dryer.

Her tiny hand prints and bloodstains were found inside cupboards at the home in Huddersfield and also at a former property in Batley, West Yorkshire.

The pair blamed each other for the child’s death.

A post-mortem examination revealed her arms and legs were broken and there were 107 injuries across her body, including 36 bruises to her head and neck, 26 to her arms and ten to her abdomen.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Mother’s Terror as Knife-Wielding Pair Walk Into Her Home and Snatch Her Toddler Son

[WARNING: *** EXTREMELY DISTURBING CONTENT ***]

Knife-wielding raiders have stormed a mother’s home and tried to snatch her toddler.

The two men walked into mother Donna Cooper’s house in Lemington, Newcastle, and grabbed her 21-month-old little boy Vinnie.

With hoods covering their faces and armed with a large knife, the pair confronted Ms Cooper’s boyfriend Paul Alexander, before one of them scooped the toddler up and ran upstairs with him.

The men fled after Mr Alexander chased them and Ms Cooper found Vinnie left unscathed in her bed upstairs.

But the 33-year-old mother of four is now terrified to let her son out of her sight in fear he could be taken from her.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Mother, 22, Reveals Dramatic Moment Her Soldier Boyfriend Trapped the Man Who Assaulted Her Hours Earlier

[WARNING: *** Disturbing Content ***]

A hero soldier caught and restrained the man who had sexually assaulted his fiancée on Valentine’s Day just hours after the attack.

Jason James Hallam, 28, pounced on Rebecca Ellinas on Valentine’s Day in 2011 when she was just metres away from her front door, demanding for her to kiss and have sex with him while he violently grabbed her.

Amazingly, Hallam was caught 12 hours later by Rebecca’s fiancé and army Captain for the Parachute Regiment Mike Thwaite, 31, after the attacker walked past them in the street — and was then restrained until police arrived…

Hallam was released on bail after denying a charge of sexual assault, and went on to threaten two other women, who were also walking alone.

Later judge Michael Heath described Hallam as ‘dangerous’ when he was sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court in September.

He had admitted two affrays and possessing a weapon relating to the offences against the other women, and was found guilty of sexual assault after a trial, in which Rebecca had to give evidence.

However, in January, Jason successfully appealed his sentence.

Instead, three top judges imposed a new sentence for Jason, with five years custody and four years of extended licence conditions so that he can be monitored for longer after his release.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Parents Horrified After Learning Primary Schoolchildren Aged Just 10 Are Playing ‘The Raping Game’

[WARNING: *** Disturbing Content ***]

Primary school children have been banned from playing a new break time game they called ‘the raping game’.

The playground activity had been named after a violent video game which depicts violent sexual assaults on a mother and two daughters.

More than a dozen boys, some as young as nine, were caught playing the ‘the raping game’ at Stanford Junior School in Brighton, East Sussex.

The school confirmed it had been taking place and headteacher Gina Hutchins said she had spoken to children about the vile name. It has now been called ‘the survival game’ following the head’s intervention.

Mrs Hutchins said: ‘As soon as we found out that this inappropriate word was being used, we spoke to the children concerned and they now no longer use it.’

The game has been played mainly by boys in Year 5 at the school for the past two to three weeks.

It involves one person being ‘on’ who has to catch others until only one is left uncaught and that person is the winner.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Arrest Violin Teacher, 57, Over Historic Sex Abuse Claims at Prestigious Music School Where Choirmaster Abused Former Pupil

[WARNING: *** Disturbing Content ***]

A violin teacher who came to Britain on the invitation of Yehudi Menuhin has been arrested by detectives investigating sex abuse at Chetham’s School of Music in the 1970s and 80s.

Professor Wen Zhou Li, who has tutored some of the country’s brightest musical talents over the past 25 years, was last night being held on suspicion of rape.

The 57-year-old is the first teacher to be arrested following the conviction of Michael Brewer for indecently assaulting Frances Andrade, who committed suicide halfway through the trial.

Police have now received more than 20 allegations of sexual abuse from former Chetham’s pupils. They are thought to relate to six teachers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Pensioner, 68, Punched Pregnant Mother as He Tried to Grab Her 11-Month-Old Baby From Her Arms

[WARNING: *** EXTREMELY DISTURBING CONTENT ***]

A pensioner who repeatedly punched a pregnant woman in the stomach while trying to steal her baby girl has been jailed for two years.

Peter Lowe, 68, has been branded ‘every parent’s nightmare’ after trying to grab the baby girl from her mother’s arms during an attempted abduction.

Lowe punched the terrified woman and repeatedly tried to wrest the baby from her grasp, a Grimsby Crown Court heard.

On June 27 at Grimsby town centre bus station, the 20-year-old mother was leaning forward to put her 11-month-old daughter in a pushchair when Lowe delivered a hard punch to the side of her stomach. She was four months pregnant at the time.

A man who was passing by and witnessed the attack unfold started shouting at Lowe, who quickly ran away.

He was later arrested after his description was sent out by police.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Three-Year-Old Girl Dies of Dehydration After Locum Doctor Sent Her Home From A&E Without Carrying Out Basic Tests

[WARNING: *** Disturbing Content ***]

A girl of three died of dehydration after a locum doctor in a casualty unit sent her home without doing basic tests that would have saved her life, an inquest was told.

Mylee Ward should have been admitted to hospital and given fluids after being sick and barely able to eat or drink for three days.

Instead the doctor, who had treated a large number of children that week with sickness bugs, sent the youngster home with antibiotics.

Around 36 hours later, her mother Terrina-Ann Laughton and father Kevin Ward were considering taking her back to hospital when she found the youngster unconscious in her playpen.

‘I was hysterical,’ she said. ‘We lay her flat on the floor but could not get any response.’

A doctor called to the family home in Chesterfield pronounced the girl dead. In a narrative verdict, coroner Robert Hunter ruled that Mylee died due to dehydration contributed to by neglect.

He criticised Dr Mushfikur Rahman for his failure to treat the girl properly.

The coroner told the inquest in Chesterfield: ‘Had she been admitted and fluids given, on balance she would have survived.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Libya: Federalists Bow Out of Bengasi Revolt Anniversary

Fear risk of violence at 2-yr anniversary demonstration

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Federalist leaders from Libya’s eastern region Cyrenaica made a surprise announcement on local television on Friday that they would not participate demonstrations in Bengasi to celebrate the second anniversary of the revolt against Muammar Gaddafi.

The federalists, who had initially promoted the celebrations, are asking for greater autonomy from Tripoli and hope to be represented among the 60 members of the constitutional commission.

Local press reported federalist representatives were pulling out of the celebrations “for the safety of our community, the protection of national unity, social harmony and to prevent people from getting involved in conflicts due to the wishes of various entities and political groups.” The federalists fear being dragged into violent conflict provoked by other groups, such as loyalists to the ex-Gaddafi regime. “I believe that this is the right move for safety today. We can not be responsible for any suspicions (against us), or violent acts during the demonstration,” federalist leader Faraj el-Kezza told the Libya Herald.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: US Government Funding Radical Israeli NGOs’ Information Operations

Earlier this month NGO Monitor released its report on foreign government funding of radical political Israeli NGOs which work to undermine Israel’s international standing and subvert Israeli society. Along with the usual European suspects who give millions of shekels (or Euros or pounds) to Israeli groups like this, it works out that the US government is also funding extremely radical organizations, courtesy of American taxpayers. Notably, the three groups that reported receiving funding from the US are all in the business of waging political warfare campaigns directed at the Israeli public.

According to the report, in accordance with the NGO Transparency Law which requires NGOs to report on donations received from foreign governments, three Israeli NGOs received funding from the US.

Keshev, a radical leftist “media watchdog” group run by some of Israel’s most outspoken, and radical journalists and writers received NIS 492,452 in direct aid from the US government. To understand how subversive Keshev is, it suffices to note that they criticized the Israeli media for rushing to judgment about Fatah’s unity deal with Hamas. That is, the group the US supports believes we should not criticize Fatah for joining forces with a genocidal jihadist movement committed to the obliteration of Israel that is in cahoots with the Iranians.

Through Catholic Relief Services,the US also gave NIS 220,304 to the anti-Israel pressure group B’Tselem. The money was used to fund B’Tselem’s video project. B’tselem’s video project involves the distribution of video cameras to Palestinians to film snuff films that portry Israelis as aggressive bullies who seek to harm the Palestinians for no reason…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]

After the Arab Spring: Al-Jazeera Losing Battle for Independence

For over a decade, the Arab television broadcaster Al-Jazeera was widely respected for providing an independent voice from the Middle East. Recently, however, several top journalists have left, saying the station has developed a clear political agenda.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Living Out of Wedlock in Iran

More and more couples in Iran are living together despite the fact that they are not married — in the face of law and tradition. Conservative Islamic groups are trying to push the government to reverse this trend.

Iranis a theocracy. Islamic law is omnipresent and the government treats offenders harshly. But the draconian laws often collide with the realities of people’s lives. Many young Iranians are looking for ways to live a live more of their own choosing.

It is illegal for unmarried couples to live together in one apartment. But there are more and more young people who are defying the law — especially in larger cities and among those with a university education. According to the Iranian news agency IRNA, a member of the Tehran city council has already spoken out against “that new trend that is not good for society.”

Atefeh is a 22-year-old engineering student in Amol, a small city in the north of the country. For about two years she’s been living together with her boyfriend. “Of course not everybody knows about that,” she told DW. “Our friends know it, but most of them also live together with their partners.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Protesters Kill Police Officer in Bahrain

(AGI) — Manama, Feb 15 — A Bahraini police officer was killed by a Molotov cocktail during renewed clashes with anti-government protesters in Manama. A sixteen year old boy died in clashes on Feb. 14.

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

About 1,100 Injured as Meteorite Hits Russia With Force of Atomic Bomb

A meteor streaked across the sky and exploded over Russia’s Ural Mountains with the power of an atomic bomb Friday, its sonic blasts shattering countless windows and injuring about 1,100 people.

The spectacle deeply frightened many Russians, with some elderly women declaring that the world was coming to an end. Many of the injured were cut by flying glass as they flocked to windows, curious about what had produced such a blinding flash of light.

The meteor — estimated to be about 10 tons and 49 feet wide — entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 33,000 mph and shattered into pieces about 18-32 miles above the ground, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement. But even small asteroids pack a tremendous punch, explained Andrew Cheng of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

“It doesn’t take a very large object. A 10-meter size object already packs the same energy as a nuclear bomb,” Cheng, who led a 2000-2001 mission for NASA to orbit and land on an asteroid, told FoxNews.com.

Amateur video showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time, just after sunrise, leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.

“There was panic. People had no idea what was happening,” said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, a city of 1 million about 930 miles east of Moscow.

“We saw a big burst of light, then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud, thundering sound,” he told The Associated Press by telephone.

The meteor hit less than a day before Asteroid 2012 DA14 is to make the closest recorded pass of an asteroid to the Earth for a rock of its size — about 17,150 miles. But the European Space Agency said its experts had determined there was no connection — just cosmic coincidence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Enterprising Russians Put Meteor Fragments for Sale on Local Auction Sites

In a shining example of true form capitalism, Russian scammers opportunists took advantage of the cosmic fury at the ongoing G-20 meeting in Moscow expressed by an attempted bombardment via meteor (which allegedly left the hole shown in the picture below), and are already seeking to find the level of equilibrium demand for cosmic commodities and market clearing prices by offering pieces of the meteor for sale on local websites.

From Moscow Times: “Enterprising businessmen in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk lost no time in finding a way to capitalize on the meteor strike that shook the city on Friday morning. By early afternoon, several websites were already selling “fragments of meteorite.” Two-centimeter fragments of the celestial body that hospitalized dozens and injured hundreds more in the Urals early on Friday were being offered for 500 rubles a piece by 2 p.m. Moscow time.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Hundreds Injured by Meteor Explosion in Russia

MOSCOW — A meteor streaked over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning, producing a blast that injured hundreds, caused minor damage to buildings and temporarily disrupted Internet communication, officials said.

Yelena Smirnykh, deputy information chief of the Emergency Situations Ministry said 474 people sought medical assistance after the explosion. “Five of them were hospitalized, most of the injuries being cuts by shattered window glass,” she said.

[Updated, Feb. 15: Later in the day, Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov reported to President Vladimir Putin in televised remarks that more than 500 people were injured, with 112 of them — including 80 children — requiring hospital care.]

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Russian Meteor Largest in a Century

Explosion rivalled nuclear blast, but rock was still too small for advance-warning networks to spot.

A meteor that exploded over Russia this morning was the largest recorded object to strike the Earth in more than a century, scientists say. Infrasound data collected by a network designed to watch for nuclear weapons testing suggests that today’s blast released hundreds of kilotonnes of energy. That would make it far more powerful than the nuclear weapon tested by North Korea just days ago and the largest rock crashing on the planet since a meteor broke up over Siberia’s Tunguska river in 1908.

“It was a very, very powerful event,” says Margaret Campbell-Brown, an astronomer at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, who has studied data from two infrasound stations near the impact site. Her calculations show that the meteoroid was approximately 15 metres across when it entered the atmosphere, and put its mass at around 40 tonnes. “That would make it the biggest object recorded to hit the Earth since Tunguska,” she says.

The meteor appeared at around 09:25 a.m. local time over the region of Chelyabinsk, near the southern Ural Mountains. The fireball blinded drivers and a subsequent explosion blew out windows and damaged hundreds of buildings. So far, more than 700 people are reported to have been injured, mainly from broken glass, according to a statement from the Russian Emergency Ministry.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Russian Meteor Shook Ground Like an Earthquake

A meteor explosion in the skies above Russia this morning also walloped the Earth, triggering shaking as strong as an earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports.

Today’s early morning blast, centered on the Chelyabinsk region, sent massive tremors through the ground, which were recorded on seismic monitoring instruments around the world.

Initial reports pegged the explosion as similar to a magnitude 2.7 shaker, according a seismograph released by the USGS. For comparison, the 1908 Tunguska meteor blast’s shock waves, which flattened 80 million trees in Siberia, produced the equivalent of an estimated 5.0 temblor.

“When you have an explosion in the air, it shakes the ground, and we see it on the seismographs,” explained Paul Caruso, a geophysicist at the USGS National Earthquake Information Center in Denver, Colo., which reported the meteor-related tremors. “It’s not an earthquake, and it looks very different from the usual earthquake seismogram,” he told OurAmazingPlanet.

Few meteor explosions have actually been recorded on seismographs, though, Caruso said. “We’ve been looking at it all morning,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Russian Meteor Explosion Not Caused by Asteroid Flyby, NASA Scientist Says

The meteor explosion over Russia that injured more than 500 people and damaged hundreds of buildings was not caused by an asteroid zooming close by the Earth today (Feb.15), a NASA scientist says.

NASA asteroid expert Don Yeomans, head of the agency’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, told SPACE.com that the object which exploded over a thinly inhabited stretch of eastern Europe today was most likely an exploding fireball known as a bolide.

More than 500 people were injured, mostly by glass cuts when windows shattered during the blast, according to the Russian Emergency Ministry.

“If the reports of ground damage can be verified, it might suggest an object whose original size was several meters in extent before entering the atmosphere, fragmenting and exploding due to the unequal pressure on the leading side vs the trailing side (it pancaked and exploded),” Yeomans told SPACE.com in an email. “It is far too early to provide estimates of the energy released or provide a reliable estimate of the original size.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

‘Significant Thermal Explosion’: Meteorite Strike in Russia Injures Almost 1,000

Suddenly, there was a flash of light and then a loud explosion bursting windows across the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. A large meteorite detonated over the city on Friday morning, injuring almost 1,000. The disaster could have been much larger.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Finmeccanica Trading Frozen as India Halts ‘Copter Purchase

Board meets on new governance

(ANSA) — Milan, February 13 — Trading in Finmeccanica stock was suspended for an excessive fall on the Milan bourse Wednesday as India announced it was halting the purchase of 12 helicopters from the defence giant’s AgustaWestland unit amid a probe into suspected kickbacks.

Shares fell over 5% ahead of a Finmeccanica board meeting on new governance after CEO Giuseppe Orsi was arrested Tuesday in relation to the probe.

The Italian government voiced confidence the board would take “the right decisions”.

Three of the ‘copters have already been delivered.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Indian Leopards Caged for Life as Attacks Spread

Wild leopard attacks are increasing in India as urban centers like Mumbai stretch further into natural areas. As the attacks spread, delinquent leopards are being removed from the parks and caged.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Authorities Appeal for Calm After Latest Attack Against Churches in South Sulawesi

Three Protestant churches were attacked at dawn. Unknown assailants who arrived on motorbikes threw Molotov cocktails against the buildings. The attack lasted an hour and follows a similar incident a few days ago. Observers fear an escalation in sectarian violence as part of a political plan to destabilise the country.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Indonesian authorities have appealed for calm after a number of Christian places of worship were attacked in Makassar, capital of South Sulawesi. In Jakarta, the central government is particularly concerned to avoid an escalation that might lead to sectarian violence.

Three Protestant churches were attacked with Molotov cocktails by unknown assailants. Although there was little damage, the incident has raised concerns that they are part of some political plan to heighten sectarian tensions in order to destabilise the country’s political institutions and thus undermine coexistence in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

The attack occurred in central Makassar at dawn yesterday, St Valentine’s Day, which is a controversial celebration in the Muslim nation. Riding their motorcycles, unidentified attackers three flammable devices at the different places of worship over the period of an hour.

The first church that was hit belongs to the GKI (Indonesian Christian Church), on Samiun Road (pictured). This was followed by an attack against the Toraja Church on AP Pettarani Road and finally a third Protestant church in Gatot. Local sources report that no one was hurt and the three buildings suffered only minor damages.

A police spokesperson in Jakarta said that the attack was connected to attempts by Muslim extremists to heighten sectarian sentiments and fuel religious conflict.

In light of the situation, Indonesian State Intelligence Agency Chief General Marciano Norman appealed to residents to stay calm, urging them not to respond to provocations from any group.

Home to an important university, Makassar has over the years become a major tourist and trading centre. For a long time, it was an island of peace and calm.

Things began changing last year when Muslim extremists three a homemade device against South Sulawesi Governor Sahrul Yasril Limpo. Earlier this year, two Muslim extremists were killed in a shootout with police at a local mosque. And this Monday, unidentified attackers firebombed the Toraja Mamassa Protestant church, causing minor damage.

Sulawesi Island and neighbouring Maluku Islands are not new to bloodshed. Between 1997 and 2001, violence broke out pitting Muslims against Christians. Thousands of people were affected. Homes, churches and mosques were destroyed. An estimated half a million people became homeless, including 25,000 in the city of Polo alone.

The violence came to a formal end on 20 December 2001, when Christian and Muslim leaders signed a truce in Malino, South Sulawesi, worked out by the government.

This however did not stop all acts of violence. Perhaps one of the worst was the beheading by Muslim extremists of three Christian schoolgirls in October 2005.

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

Borneo: Kuala Lumpur Against 200 Filipino Muslim Militants Holed Up in Village

Calling itself the ‘Sulu Royal Army’, the group of armed fighters from Mindanao (Philippines) is apparently protecting a Muslim leader in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo Island, which is also home to a sizeable Christian minority. The authorities fear that Abu Sayyaf terrorists might be among the group. The terror group is held responsible for a number of abductions and attacks in Malaysia.

Manila (AsiaNews) — Conflict between Muslim factions in predominantly Muslim Mindanao is affecting Malaysia, where the authorities recently reported the presence of some 200 Filipino Muslim militants in the state of Sabah (Borneo Island), which is also home to a sizeable Christian community.

According to Indonesia’s Interior Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, the group has been holed up in a small village on Sabah’s east coast. To avoid bloodshed, “Security forces are [. . .] negotiating with them, some of whom are armed,” he said.

Unknown until now, the group that calls itself the ‘Sulu Royal Army’ has been added to the list of armed Muslim groups active on Borneo and in the Philippines.

Their number has been rising since the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Filipino authorities reached a peace agreement. MILF is the major Islamic movement in the country, and the peace deal it has inked calls for its disarmament, something that has left a leadership vacuum in the region.

At present, it is still unclear whether members of terror group Abu Sayyaf are among the Filipino militants in the Malaysian village. Sulu (Mindanao) is the former’s stronghold and is not far from Malaysian territorial waters.

Filipino authorities have not excluded that possibility and in recent days deployed a number of Navy vessels along its maritime borders. MILF troops are also in the area.

In 2000, Muslims extremists abducted 21 Western tourists in Sipadan (Lahad Datu, Malaysia). The incident ended after months of negotiations between Malaysia, the Philippines and the kidnappers.

Sources told AsiaNews that the Sulu Royal Army is “one of many private armies hired by local Muslim leaders who have close ties to Filipino rebels.”

In recent years, the waters that separate the Philippines from Malaysia have become a major conduit for weapons, drugs and people.

Historically, Malaysian Muslim leaders have been allied to Filipino rebels whose goal is to re-establish the pre-colonial Sultanate of Sulu.

Malaysian authorities warn that the arrival of people from Mindanao has heightened tensions in Sabah, home to a sizeable Christian minority, whose members now fear discrimination and abuses at the hands of Muslims. (S.C.)

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

British Teen Backpacker Found in Australian Outback

Missing for three days he survived on contact lens fluid in 40C heat until aboriginal trackers found his footprint

The mother of lost British teenager Sam Woodhead today revealed her son survived three days in the Australian Outback by drinking contact lens solution and his own urine.

Speaking from Australia, where she had flown to join the search for her son, Claire Derry said she burst into tears when she received the news mid-flight, ending ‘the worst three days of my life’.

‘We understand he had no water for three days so he survived on his own urine and contact lens solution,’ she said in an interview shortly after arriving in Brisbane…

He became lost and disorientated after going for a jog. He drank his small bottle of water within the first hour of his run.

He then endured crippling heat of around 39C for the next three days. At night he simply curled up on the ground before resuming his efforts to find his way home.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Brazil’s Affirmative Action Law Offers a Huge Hand Up

Public universities in Brazil will reserve half their seats to provide racial, income, and ethnic diversity — a law that goes the furthest in the Americas in attempting race-based equality. It will most greatly affect the large Afro-Brazilian population.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Americans Don’t Want Blanket Amnesty of Illegal Aliens

While Congress and Obama push for mass amnesty, the American people do not want to be flooded with 12 to 20 million more unskilled, uneducated people ushered into the United States.

The majority of law-abiding, taxpaying American citizens understand that legalizing 12 to 20 million illegal aliens will create a “Human Katrina Hurricane” flooding into the United States. Ironically, with 47 million Americans subsisting on food stamps and another 14 million unemployed Americans — it makes no sense to legalize a minimum of 12 million foreigners that will tap directly into America’s jobs, Social Security, health care, assisted housing, welfare and educational systems.

What irks me stems from the statement, “Our immigration laws are broken.” Fact: our immigration laws have not been enforced for over 30 years. They crash our borders with impunity. They work illegally with immunity. Illegal migrant employers like McDonald’s, Hormel, Tyson Chicken, Chipotle’s, Marriott Hotels, construction firms and more — get away withh endless crime of forged Social Security cards, fraudulent cash payments and displacement of Americans citizens from jobs.

If Obama wins an amnesty, we all lose. We lose because he won’t enforce any “new” immigration laws. That will encourage millions of desperate people around the world to flood faster into the United States. We are no longer a sovereign country, but a destination.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Education (Excerpt From Book “The Master Plan”)

“The invasion of our educational system was the most contemptible segment of my discoveries. At the head of every agency assuring Global Governance stood the school, the teacher and the organized profession. Delegates to international organizations, public officials, men and women of the press, teachers and educators — all realized that they had a part to play in molding the minds of the children for a New World Order.

“The teacher was the biggest asset in preparing the hearts and minds of the children for global understanding and cooperation. To the Elite, education didn’t mean teaching people reading, writing, and arithmetic; it meant teaching them to think and act, as they wanted them to think and act.

“The subject of major importance was mass psychology. They knew that in time, with money and equipment, they would be able to persuade anybody of anything if they could reach the person young enough. When the technique was perfected, every government in charge of education for two generations would be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen.

“The United States joining the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, marked the pinnacle of a movement for the birth of an international agency for education. Any nation that became a member of UNESCO accordingly assumed an obligation to revise the textbooks used in their schools. Each member nation had a duty to see to it that nothing in its curriculum, courses of study, and textbooks was contrary to UNESCO’s aim.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Iceland Considers Pornography Ban

Iceland could become the first Western democracy to attempt censorship of the internet under radical proposals to block online pornography.

The government is considering introducing internet filters, such as those used to block China off form the worldwide web, in order to stop Icelanders downloading or viewing pornography on the internet.

The unprecedented censorship is justified by fears about damaging effects of the internet on children and women.

Ogmundur Jonasson, Iceland’s interior minister, is drafting legislation to stop the access of online pornographic images and videos by young people through computers, games consoles and smartphones.

“We have to be able to discuss a ban on violent pornography, which we all agree has a very harmful effects on young people and can have a clear link to incidences of violent crime,” he said.

Methods under consideration include blocking access to pornographic website addresses and making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards to access pay-per-view pornography.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Racism Row Over Blyton Festival: Residents in Town Where Author Lived Clash Over Plaque to Honour Writer

Many of her books depict an idyllic vision of rural England.

But the pretty market town where Enid Blyton lived is now divided — over a festival celebrating her life.

Organisers are planning a week of activities in honour of the writer, who died in 1968 aged 71, and want to install a plaque to mark the spot where her home once stood.

However, other locals are fighting to block the event on the grounds that much of the author’s work was ‘racist and offensive’.

Many of Blyton’s 600 stories have been updated since her death to remove inappropriate content — with, for example, the golliwog owner of the Toytown garage in her Noddy books being replaced by a ‘Mr Sparks’.

The festival is due to be held in June in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, to mark 75 years since she moved to the town.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Intel to Bring Big Brother to Your Sitting Room

We all remember Winston Smith cowering in his nook to avoid the telescreen seeing him. Now Intel is bringing the telescreen to your living room.

Intel intends to sell boxes which can see what you’re doing in your home. It will be able to identify each individual watcher.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Insidious Globalist Control

In a hyper connected world, the globalists want to shape the information culture to their desired designs, and to govern the digital media

Because the report considers social media as one of the greatest risks, a “global digital ethos” is recommended in light of the fact that governments are debating how “existing laws which limit freedom of speech, for reasons such as incitement of violence or panic, might also be applied to online activities.” The globalist experts are not worried that the freedom of speech would be curtailed, they are worried how it would be enforced and who would be trusted to enforce it. Additionally, low education users are “much less knowledgeable than editors of traditional media outlets about laws relating to issues such as libel and defamation,” posing further problems.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]