Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/16/2013

A mob of angry Muslims damaged the dome of a Coptic church in Fayoum province, collapsing the roof into the nave and setting the structure on fire. They destroyed the church’s icons, attacked the altar, and injured the pastor. Copts in the area remain indoors out of fear of the mob. The local police observed the destruction, but did not intervene, and no one was arrested.

In other news, five people have been arrested in Sicily in connection with an attempt by the Mafia to infiltrate the lucrative wind farm business. Authorities say the Cosa Nostra has been trying for years to break into the subsidized industry.

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

Thanks to Andy Bostom, C. Cantoni, Insubria, JD, Jerry Gordon, JP, Mary Abdelmassih, 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
» “When You Have Fiat Currency, What Level of Value is Real”, Santelli Asks
» Iceland Rises Further Into Investment Grade Status
» Payroll Tax Increase May Nick Consumer Spending
» Soros Said to Make $1 Billion Since November on Yen Bet
» Wal-Mart Shares Tumble on Report of Weak February Sales
 
USA
» Firearm Makers Boycott Anti-Gun City and State Governments
» Former Israeli Ambassador Ettinger Receives Warm Welcome in Pensacola
» Obama Calls Napolitano ‘Extraordinary Leader and Visionary’
» Obama Takes 2nd Vacation 6 Weeks Into 2013
» Obama Vows to Bypass Congress on Climate Change
» Obama Pushes Gun Control in Personal Speech in Old Chicago Neighborhood
» On the Current Marxist Revolution
» Special Report: Medical Nurse Witnessed Troops on Psych “Suicide” Drugs
» Trevor Loudon: Judy Chu Exposed, Part 2: Judy Chu, And the Communist Front “Federation for Progress”
» When the Power Goes Out: “It’s Like a Bunch of Savages”
» ‘Zombie’ Cells May Outperform Live Ones as Catalysts and Conductors
 
Canada
» Copyright Lobby Groups Want Canada Back on Piracy Watch List
 
Europe and the EU
» Airbus Drops Lithium Batteries From Its New A350 Airliner After Boeing’s Dreamliner Plagued by Battery Problems
» Eco Crimes in Italy Increase at ‘Supersonic Rate’
» Fish Are Becoming Easier to Catch ‘Because Traces of Anti-Depressants Are Getting Into Water Supply
» Italian Elections: Concern Over Anti-EU Positions, Almunia
» Italy: Impoverished Widow, 61, Barricaded in Tower in Pension Fight
» Italy: Orsi’s Lawyer Says Arrests ‘Devastating’
» Italy: Troubled Finmeccanica Names Pansa as New Chief Executive
» Italy: La Russa Remarks on Potential Fini Ties With Left
» Italy: Berlusconi Says Foreign Kickbacks Are ‘A Commission’
» Italy: M5S Movement’s Grillo Urges Euro Referendum
» Italy: Berlusconi: Left-Wing’s Fiscal Policies Reflect Its Envy
» Italy: Five Arrested for Mafia Wind-Farm ‘Infiltration’
» Italy: Pope ‘Has Done Much’ For Exorcists, Says Association Head
» Italy: Court Refuses Annulment for Marriage Due to ‘Unnatural’ Sex
» Italy: Dog Who Honored His Deceased Owner Dies Near Brindisi
» Italy: Gondoliers Risk Losing Licenses for Fleecing Tourists
» Lars Hedegaard and the Enemies of Truthfulness
» Terror at 27,000ft: Crew Plug Gap in Super Jumbo Jet Door With Blankets and Pillows Stuck Together With Gaffer Tape After it ‘Blows Open’ During the Flight
» U.S. Military Blocked by Protesting Moms in Sicily
» UK: ‘It’s Like Stalin’s Russia — Speak Out and You’re Crushed’: NHS Whistleblower Reveals How Bosses Bid to Gag Him Ruined His Life
» UK: Canteen Worker at Dulwich College Spared Jail After Sending ‘Depraved’ Child Porn on the Internet
» UK: Cars May Explode in Crashes if EU Forces Firms to Fit ‘Highly Flammable’ Green Coolant, Warns Mercedes
» UK: Donkey Shortage Hits Easter Play
» UK: Government Accuses Lutfur Rahman of ‘Divisive Community Politics’ And ‘Mismanagement of Council Staff and Resources’
» UK: Man Heard Girl Being ‘Raped in Next Room’
» UK: Rachel Frosh Should Not Have Been Removed From the Candidates List for Saying Hitler Was a Socialist
» UK: So Total is the Left’s Cultural Ascendancy That No One Likes to Mention the Socialist Roots of Fascism
» UK: Suicidal Woman Found Dead at Foot of Cliffs After Walking Out of ‘Chaotic’ Hospital Ward While Nurses ‘Ate Doctor’s Birthday Cake’
» UK: Trio Invade Hartlepool Mosque and Shout Racist Abuse
» UK: Two Prisoners Appear in Court Over Jail Murder of Child Killer Who Tortured and Beat His Lover’s Two-Year-Old Daughter to Death
» Vatican City: Head of Firm That Built Warships for Hitler to Run Vatican Bank
» Was the Pope Pushed? An Abuse Scandal, Corruption and the Dark Intrigue Behind Benedict’s Shock Resignation
 
Balkans
» Italy and Serbia to Bolster Economic Cooperation
 
North Africa
» Egypt: Fayoum: Islamic Extremists Attack Coptic Church, Wounding Pastor
» Foreigners Arrested for Trying to Spread Christianity in Libya
» Libya: Salafists Ready to Destroy Tripoli’s Symbolic Statues. The Population Revolts
» Muslim Mob Torches Church in Egypt
» Tunisia: Chokri Belaid’s Assassination — a Bullet in the Heart of the Revolution?
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Israeli Settlers Rise Sharply, 360,000 in West Bank
» Israel’s Netanyahu Has an Ice-Cream Habit
 
Middle East
» Qatar: Tamil Sri Lankan Catholic Risks Decapitation. The Family: Blood Money to Save Him
 
Russia
» Fireball From Outer Space: 1,000 Injured as 40-Ton Meteor Travelling at 33,000mph Explodes Over a Terrified Town (Several Videos)
» Trevor Loudon: Obama’s “Secret Letter” To Moscow
 
South Asia
» Anti-Islamist Blogger Killed in Bangladesh
» Bomb Kills 64 in Pakistan’s Quetta
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Britain Asks for Arrest of Sudanese President at Mali Summit
» Somalia: Mufti of Puntland Killed Inside Garowe Mosque, Terrorist Killer Captured
 
Latin America
» Celestial Body Explodes in Cuba
 
Immigration
» Chinese Girl Taking Mom’s Italian Exam Charged With Fraud
» Obama Bid to Deport Homeschool Refugees May Threaten U.S. Rights
» Texas Border Wide Open — Alex Jones Reports
» UK: Cameron Must Defy the EU on Migrants
 
Culture Wars
» UK: Conspiracy of Silence on Value of Marriage: Politicians Frightened to Admit Fathers Are Vital, Says Top Family Lawyer
» UK: Pink News Apologises to Islam Channel
» UK: Tory MP Under Fire for Saying Gay Couples Cannot Raise Children in a Safe Environment

“When You Have Fiat Currency, What Level of Value is Real”, Santelli Asks

The rise in energy prices; the surge in food prices; and the march higher in nominal stock market indices — all symptoms of one thing — central bank (or government) policy; and CNBC’s Rick Santelli is calling them to task for their two-faced ignorance. “What is the difference between outright currency manipulation versus the collateral damage to one’s currency based on central bank programs?” he rhetorically asks, “in my mind, very little, but obviously, in the minds of many leaders of G-7 developed economies, there’s a huge distinction.” And therein lies the rub.

As Japan follows Bernanke’s decade-old plan to reflate by literally printing money into existence — just as every other developed fiat currency nation — their argument is that they are fighting deflation — or stimulating growth — when, in fact “The distinction between collateral damage and outright manipulation is absolute malarkey.” Now that the currency wars have gone global — no matter what well-placed op-eds will try to convince otherwise — Santelli sums it all up perfectly, “in the end when you don’t have a standard and you have printing and fiat currency, what level of value is real?”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Iceland Rises Further Into Investment Grade Status

Iceland’s rehabilitation after several years as a pariah in the global financial markets gathered pace last night after ratings agency Fitch said the island nation’s debts had moved further into investment grade status.

Fitch said Iceland’s debts had been upgraded to BBB — from the lowest rung of the investment grade category, BBB- — after a strong recovery from the financial crisis.

Reykjavik’s meteoric recovery comes after its 300,000 residents were told they would be locked out of the world’s financial markets for decades after they refused to rescue a group of bankrupt banks in 2008.

Unlike Ireland, Portugal and Spain, the Icelandic government let the country’s banks become insolvent rather than spend tens of billions of pounds on bailout funds.

[Comment: This is the correct method. Citizens should not be forced to bail out banks.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Payroll Tax Increase May Nick Consumer Spending

A payroll tax increase of 2 percentage points has hit workers who have received their first paychecks of the year, and has many determining how they will cut back in 2013.

The tax increase came when Congress decided not to renew a temporary payroll tax reduction as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations at the end of December. The rate returned to 6.2% as a result.

While the increase won’t likely have a significant impact overall on the economy, it could change buying habits and where people choose to shop, especially for lower-income households, economist Joel Naroff says.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Soros Said to Make $1 Billion Since November on Yen Bet

George Soros made almost $1 billion since November from bets that the yen would tumble, according to a person close to the billionaire’s $24 billion family office.

The Japanese wager helped the firm return about 10 percent last year and 5 percent so far this year, said the person, who asked not to be named because the firm is private. The yen has weakened 17 percent versus the dollar since about the start of the fourth quarter, the worst performance over a similar period since 1985.

The yen slumped and Japanese stocks rallied as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pressed the Bank of Japan to introduce additional stimulus measures. BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa and two deputies will step down next month, allowing Abe to pick leaders to implement his plan for expanded monetary easing.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Wal-Mart Shares Tumble on Report of Weak February Sales

Wal-Mart executives blamed the poor sales performance on increased payroll taxes as well as delayed tax returns, Bloomberg said.

Higher payroll taxes this year are seen as a potential problem for Wal-Mart and other discount retailers that try to attract lower-income customers who have less disposable income.

“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February (month-to-date) sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, a Wal-Mart vice president who works on finance in the U.S. logistics division, said in a February 12 email to other executives, Bloomberg reported. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my (about) 7 years with the company.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Firearm Makers Boycott Anti-Gun City and State Governments

Liberty-minded firearm companies concerned about recent assaults on the gun rights of law-abiding citizens by Obama and others are taking action to defend the Second Amendment even if it means lost revenue, with several major firms announcing that they would no longer be supplying equipment to hostile state and local governments or their police forces. Both New York and California — where out-of-touch politicians continue to trample on citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms — have become primary targets. Activists and the companies are urging others to join the effort against more gun control now.

Among the manufacturers that have publicly announced their plans to prohibit sales to anti-Second Amendment authorities so far are LaRue Tactical, Olympic Arms, Extreme Firepower (EFI, LLC), and Barrett Firearms. All four firms, in solidarity with citizens in jurisdictions victimized by a lawless political class that refuses to uphold the Constitution, have expressed strong support for Americans’ unalienable rights. Gun rights activists nationwide rushed to celebrate the companies’ valor.

If citizens cannot purchase certain guns or accessories in places such as California, Chicago, or New York, then authorities cannot either, the companies essentially announced. In a press release posted online on Tuesday praising the Constitution and Bill of Rights, Olympic Arms President Brian Schuetz urged all firearm manufacturers to join the boycott effort, saying that they should stand together to repel politicians’ hostile assaults on the rights of citizens.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Former Israeli Ambassador Ettinger Receives Warm Welcome in Pensacola

Ambassador Ettinger will be speaking Saturday evening at 6:30PM at B’nai Israel Synagogue on the importance of Judea and Samaria to Israel’s security and on Sunday evening at 6:00PM at the First Pentecostal Church in Pensacola on the Founding Fathers support of the renewal of the Jewish Commonwealth, Israel. Yesterday, he had time to visit, Pensacola’s Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, engaged in leading edge technology developments a possible bridge to Israel’s own high tech driven economy. Ambassador Ettinger was interviewed at the airport by the media, Pensacola News Journal and an ABC affiliate WEAR-TV Channel 3. Following his comments, captured in excerpts from a PNJ article, “Ex-Israeli Ambassador in Pensacola for weekend tour”, he held a teachable moment answering questions from the students of the High Point School. In his airport comments Ettinger stressed the importance of Israel’s enduring relations with the US and the impact of the Arab Spring, Iran’s nuclear program and President Obama’s forthcoming visit next month to the Jewish nation, America’s only Democratic ally in the troubled Middle East.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Obama Calls Napolitano ‘Extraordinary Leader and Visionary’

Presidents discuss elections in Italy

(ANSA) — Washington, February 15 — US President Barack Obama called outgoing Italian President Giorgio Napolitano “an extraordinary leader and visionary” on Friday. “Not just for Italy, but also for Europe,” said Obama at the White House, applauding Napolitano for his “extraordinary service” in seven years as Italian president ending in May. Napolitano’s successor will be appointed a parliament which is set for re-election February 24-25. The elections and the formation of a new government were a key topic of discussion between the two leaders Friday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Obama Takes 2nd Vacation 6 Weeks Into 2013

Taxpayers will be sending President Obama on his second vacation of the year when he departs Friday aboard Air Force One for a Presidents’ Day Weekend excursion to West Palm Beach, Florida.

Without apparent irony, Obama has decided to jet to a well-trod stomping ground of the rich just days after presenting himself to the nation in his State of the Union speech as the guardian of the middle class.

Obama presumably will head directly to some fabulous golf course, having not been able to play in recent weeks because of the cold weather in Washington.

While Obama may pay some hotel and other miscellaneous costs related to his vacation travel, taxpayers are on the hook for much of the expense, shelling out for the president’s travel aboard Air Force One, a cargo plane that carries supplies, and the cost of the president’s substantial staff and security retinue.

[Comment: Reading a teleprompter day in and day out can be exhausting.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Vows to Bypass Congress on Climate Change

In his State Of The Union address on February 12, President Obama made it clear that action by the federal government on global-warming legislation will be a major priority in his second term. He declared that “for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.”

The president went on to regurgitate the standard boilerplate claims of the global warming alarmists. He averred:

Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods — all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it’s too late.

President Obama then threw down the gauntlet to Congress, declaring that if they didn’t act soon to enact federal legislation he would act without them:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Pushes Gun Control in Personal Speech in Old Chicago Neighborhood

President Obama on Friday underlined his call for Congress to allow a vote on gun control by traveling to Chicago, his hometown and the city with the second-highest murder rate in the country.

“Too many of our children are being taken away from us,” Obama said in an intensely personal speech delivered in his old neighborhood that focused on the concerns of the urban poor.

Obama discussed the hardships of being raised by a single mom and the importance of fatherhood, and his speech included nods to gun control and other proposals from his State of the Union address meant to help the poor move up to middle-class lives.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

On the Current Marxist Revolution

Given Barack Obama’ s obvious Marxism, its hard to argue with the logic presented here.

February 2013 by Partisan

This white paper will examine a Marxist Revolution under the assumption that the president wants to incite Marxist Revolution in America.

When Vladmir Lenin came to power, he introduced a set of socialist policies that literally crashed the Soviet economy by 1921. After pure socialism visibly failed, Lenin introduced what was called, “New Economic Policy,” a modified form of socialism more akin to state-capitalism. Various industries were allowed to remain in private hands while others were wrangled into the purview of government control.

As we recount the industries over which the government is now in control — healthcare, energy, education, student loans — how can one not draw similarities as the contemporary version of Lenin’s state-capitalism? And if we conclude that the president is a Marxist in a still very much un-Marxist nation, how can we think this is the end of his efforts? As long as the material needs of the neo-peasant class go unmet, the Marxist’s work is never done. (As long as there is a neo-peasant class…) Socialism is only the first step in the march towards “single class” Marxist communism; and that makes us the counter-revolutionaries.

Proletariat revolution and the peasant class.

The president’s thrust to power was the result of the perfect Proletariat revolution. Because the neo-peasant class was able to vote their revolution into place with the aid of the Marxist bourgeois, a violent revolution simply wasn’t needed. But there’s still plenty of work for the Proletariat revolution. The president still needs to continue constructing socialism in order to get to Marxist communism…

As long as counter-constitutional activity is continued, and before it’s achieved total victory, the Marxist revolution is susceptible to compromise. To mitigate the risk of a military coup by high level leaders who are upholding an Oath to support and defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic, we expect the president and party leadership to identify and replace conservative and Patriot military leaders.

[Comment: Read the whole article.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Special Report: Medical Nurse Witnessed Troops on Psych “Suicide” Drugs

Alex speaks to a whistleblower nurse who worked in iraq and saw troops being given psych “suicide” drugs. She also tells Alex what kind of behavior the troops were displaying while on these drugs.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Trevor Loudon: Judy Chu Exposed, Part 2: Judy Chu, And the Communist Front “Federation for Progress”

So where is my evidence that Judy Chu, Congressional Representative of California’ s 32nd District, is a long term affiliate of the former Communist Workers Party and its still surviving networks?

The first significant evidence of Chu’ s ties to the CWP comes through a long forgotten far left umbrella group, the Federation For Progress.

The Federation For Progress described itself in an undated brochure released circa late 1983 or early 1984. It was one of several attempts in the 1970s and ‘ 80s to create a new US Marxist united front organization — this time by the Communist Workers Party…

The FFP put a half-page ad in the socialist weekly newspaper, In These Times in the July 14-27, 1982 issue, p. 8, entitled: “ A natural follow-up to June 12: A national conference July 30-August 1 at Columbia Un., in New York City.”

It was a follow-up conference to the major “ anti-defense lobby” march and protest in New York on June relating to the U.N. Second Special Session on Disarmament.

The ad listed FFP’ s “ Interim Executive Committee” — the first name on the list was “ Judy Chu, Professor Asian-American Studies, Los Angeles.”…

In the mid-1980s, the CWP changed its traditional pro-Chinese Marxist-Leninist tactics, for a new approach based on the theories of Italian communist leader Antonio Gramsci. The organization also changed its name in 1985, to the innocuous sounding New Democratic Movement and embarked on a deliberate long range plan to infiltrate American civil society, business, churches and the Democratic Party, to the benefit of the revolution and their Chinese allies.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

When the Power Goes Out: “It’s Like a Bunch of Savages”

[WARNING: * Disturbing Content *]

What happens when the power goes out?

Simple.

Mass panic, chaos and intolerable conditions.

The most recent breakdown of a Carnival Cruise liner gives us a prime example of what it looks like when it hits the fan. And for the 3000 passengers on that boat, that’s exactly what happened.

It hit the fan, the walls, hallways and everything else…

This Carnival cruise was just a closed microcosm of what conditions will look like should it happen on a regional or national scale. Lucky for them help arrived, and passengers have disembarked and many are now headed home.

But, consider what it would be like should the power go out in your city — for an extended period of time — and there is no ‘going home’.

Though unlikely, it can and has happened. In fact, in recent history we have examples of conditions deteriorating so severely that thousands of people have died as a result.

Hurricane Katrina is one well known incident where tens of thousands of people were left without power, food or even clean water. They were packed into a makeshift FEMA shelter and promised help, which didn’t arrive for nearly a week. Those who didn’t make it to the FEMA Dome were left to fend for themselves in contaminated flood waters and without a law enforcement presence.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Zombie’ Cells May Outperform Live Ones as Catalysts and Conductors

“Zombie” mammalian cells that may function better after they die have been created by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico (UNM).

The simple technique coats a cell with a silica solution to form a near-perfect replica of its structure. The process may simplify a wide variety of commercial fabrication processes from the nano- to macroscale.

The work, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), uses the nanoscopic organelles and other tiny components of mammalian cells as fragile templates on which to deposit silica. The researchers then heat the cell to burn off its protein. The resultant hardened silica structures are faithful to the exterior and interior features of the formerly living cell, can survive greater pressures and temperatures than flesh ever could, and can perform some functions better than when they were alive, said lead researcher Bryan Kaehr, a Sandia materials scientist.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Copyright Lobby Groups Want Canada Back on Piracy Watch List

The IIPA, the umbrella lobby group that represents the major movie, music, and entertainment software lobby groups, released its recommendations for the U.S. piracy watch list last week. Those that thought passing Bill C-11 — the Canadian copyright reform bill that contained some of the most restrictive digital lock rules in the world — would satisfy U.S. groups will be disappointed. The IIPA wants Canada back on the piracy watch list, one notch below the Special Watch List (where the US placed Canada last year).

Despite the praise for Bill C-11 last year, the groups are right back in criticism mode and demanding reforms. The IIPA is now unsure if the enabler provision will help stop sites that facilitate infringement (despite the fact that its members have yet to use the provision) and concerned with the prospect of new exceptions to the digital lock rules. In fact, its criticisms of the rules for Internet providers (it wants a notice-and-takedown system, tougher rules on search engines that link to infringing content, and new rules to target repeat infringers) are so strong that the organization implausibly claims possible non-compliance with the WIPO Internet treaties.

Moreover, the IIPA wants to undo many of the Bill C-11 changes. It criticizes the new non-commercial caps on statutory damages, the expansion of fair dealing, the non-commercial user generated content provision, the educational exception for publicly available materials on the Internet, and the new exception for temporary copies for technological processes. In other words, the groups are wary of virtually anything designed to provide some balance in the law. There are other targets as well including copyright term extension and more criminal copyright provisions. The Canadian government is unlikely to cave this quickly on copyright, but these demands highlight the pressure that will emerge during the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations and in bi-lateral discussions with the U.S.

[Return to headlines]

Airbus Drops Lithium Batteries From Its New A350 Airliner After Boeing’s Dreamliner Plagued by Battery Problems

Airbus will drop Lithium-Ion batteries and switch to traditional nickel-cadmium batteries for its new A350 passenger jet in the wake of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s ‘exploding battery’ mystery.

Airbus said it had taken the decision to prevent further delays in initial deliveries of the A350 amid uncertainty over whether investigations into Boeing’s battery problems would lead to a regulation overhaul.

It comes weeks after all 50 of Boeing’s brand new Dreamliners were grounded indefinitely following two on-board fires, believed to have been sparked by faulty batteries.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Eco Crimes in Italy Increase at ‘Supersonic Rate’

Watchdog reports nearly 300 arrests over last two years

(ANSA) — Rome, February 12 — Italy has seen the equivalent of one environmental inquiry every four days over the last two years according to a study presented by environmental watchdog Legambiente on Tuesday.

In total 297 people have been arrested or reported and 560-million-euros in assets seized as part of efforts to stem the illegal trafficking of rubbish, contraband, protected animal species and food products between Italy, Europe and the rest of the world. Legambiente said Italy had been involved in 163 international inquiries, of which 68% were for smuggling and the trafficking of protected species, 23% concerned rubbish disposal and 9% involved food fraud. Trafficking took place mainly by sea, with Italian ports featuring as destinations in 72 cases and as points of departure in a further 50. China was the country or region most involved in trafficking activities, followed by Greece, Albania, North Africa, the Middle East and Turkey. Legambiente President Vittorio Cogliati Dezza said prevention was needed “to root out these illegal markets” and called on the next parliament to include environmental crimes in the Italian criminal code.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Fish Are Becoming Easier to Catch ‘Because Traces of Anti-Depressants Are Getting Into Water Supply

The drug, a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and insomnia called oxazepam, made the fish bolder and less social.

They left the safety of their schools to forage alone — making them vulnerable to predators — and also ate more quickly than normal.

‘Normally perch are shy and hunt in schools,’ said study leader Dr Tomas Brodin, from Umea University in Sweden.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italian Elections: Concern Over Anti-EU Positions, Almunia

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 15 — In discussing Italy’s upcoming elections, European Commission Vice President and Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that “it is clear that some of the political platforms support European integration more than others”. “It is also clear that Europe is concerned over a possible win by positions which are not constructive towards the EU project,” he told ANSA today at a Madrid press conference. Almunia was responding to a question over EU possible concerns about the outcome of the February 24-25 elections.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Impoverished Widow, 61, Barricaded in Tower in Pension Fight

Woman lives on 180 euros per month fighting for benefits

(ANSA) — Pordenone, February 11 — A 61-year-old widow who cares for her disabled son barricaded herself in a castle tower Monday to demand she be given a pension.

Teresa Anese, who says she has been living on only 180 euros per month in social benefits, climbed the north tower of the castle of Cordovado, and says she won’t budge until her case is reviewed.

Supporting her is a group of small-business owners who have been taking on the national tax agency, Equitalia.

Anese says she has been caring for her son, an invalid since a car crash, and left her job in a laundry a year ago.

She had expected to then begin to collect retirement benefits but instead has only received local social benefits.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Orsi’s Lawyer Says Arrests ‘Devastating’

Finmeccanica chief ‘never committed offence’

(see related stories) (ANSA) — Busto Arsizio, February 12 — Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi’s lawyer said Tuesday that the decision to arrest the CEO of the defence giant and his counterpart the AgustaWestland helicopter company that it controls was “devastating”.

“It’s a devastating measure because it decapitates two of our country’s top companies,” the lawyer, Ennio Amodio, said regarding Orsi’s arrest and the decision to put AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini under house arrest.

“He (Orsi) has always worked for the good of the company and the country.

“Orsi has never committed any offence and we’ll show it”. Northern League leader Roberto Maroni, meanwhile, rebutted claims that his party had been instrumental in Orsi being appointed Finmeccanica CEO in May 2011. At the time the League was part of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s governing coalition.

“Orsi was appointed by the Cabinet (not the League),” Maroni said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Troubled Finmeccanica Names Pansa as New Chief Executive

Replaces accused Orsi at scandal-plagued defence giant

(ANSA) — Rome, February 13 — Finmeccanica’s board of directors Wednesday replaced the former chief executive of the defence giant, arrested Tuesday in a bribery scandal, at an emergency board meeting.

Sources said Alessandro Pansa was named as president and chief executive officer to replace Giuseppe Orsi who is under investigation into suspected kickbacks in the 2010 sale to India of 12 helicopters by Finmeccanica’s aerospace unit AgustaWestland.

Pansa, who has been the company’s general manager, was named alongside senior director Admiral Guido Venturoni, who takes the post of deputy chairman, sources said.

Earlier in the day, Economy Minister Vittorio Grilli voiced confidence that the board would “make the right decision on new governance” for the group, one of Italy’s biggest companies and controlled by the Italian State via a 30.1% stake.

Trading in Finmeccanica stock was briefly suspended during the day after an excessive fall in its share value on the Milan bourse. Shares fell over 5%, prompting bourse authority Consob to take the company off the board. It ended the day with a 4% loss.

Stocks fell after India was reported to have decided to halt the purchase of the helicopters, two of which have already been delivered and one of which is on the way.

Although a defence ministry spokesman said he had “no knowledge” of a cancellation of the contract, Indian Defence Minister A. K. Antony said the contract would be scrapped if the allegations of corruption being investigated by Italian prosecutors are proven. Antony added that Finmeccanica risks being put on New Delhi’s company blacklist. “Finmeccanica could end up on the blacklist and the contract could be cancelled,” he said after announcing he had ordered Indian investigators to look at the case. “We will act as soon as we have the results of our investigation”. Meanwhile the leader of the Northern League, whose regionalist party was reported to have played a role in Orsi’s appointment under a previous government led by Silvio Berlusconi, said the League was taking legal action after media reports linked it to the alleged corruption.

“Today I’ll launch new legal action against that band of professional defamers,” Roberto Maroni said, citing daily newspapers La Repubblica and Il Fatto Quotidiano.

Orsi, who was appointed in May 2011, is considered close to the League, Berlusconi’s main ally.

“Orsi is not a League man,” Maroni said. “He was appointed (by Berlusconi’s last government) because he is good”.

Among the claims made by the two dailies was that Orsi — allegedly prompted by then interior minister Maroni and then League leader Umberto Bossi — moved Finmeccanica facilities from southern to northern Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: La Russa Remarks on Potential Fini Ties With Left

(AGI) — Florence, Feb 13 — Ignazio La Russa said of Gianfranco Fini’s meeting with the military in Pisa, “that’s all right with us. What is not all right is that Fini could, in the future, be part of a government that goes from Bocchino to Vendola — that’s almost pornographic” commented La Russa, smiling.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Says Foreign Kickbacks Are ‘A Commission’

(AGI) — Rome, Feb 14 — Silvio Berlusconi commenting on developments in the Finmeccanica inquest said, “They aren’t crimes. This has to do with paying a commission to that country because it was a condition set by that country.” The centre-right PDL leader explained, “the kickback is a phenomena which exists, and it is useless to deny this necessary situation if one has to deal with some regime or country in the third world. It isn’t up to us to judge — this is absurd moralism — otherwise one cannot do business on a global level.

In this way Finmeccanica and the others will no longer be in the market,” he concluded.

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

Italy: M5S Movement’s Grillo Urges Euro Referendum

(AGI) — Novara, Feb 15 — On Friday, M5S leader Grillo said “Italy’s euro opt-out is something Italians should vote on” .

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

Italy: Berlusconi: Left-Wing’s Fiscal Policies Reflect Its Envy

(AGI) Rome, Feb 15 — Speaking on Sky’s TG24 news, Silvio Berlusconi said “the left-wing is laden with social envy and has the impulse to tax those who built their wealth through work and sacrifice.” .

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

Italy: Five Arrested for Mafia Wind-Farm ‘Infiltration’

Mayor, councillor detained near Messina

(ANSA) — Messina, February 15 — Italian police on Friday arrested five people in connection with Mafia infiltration of contracts to build wind farms in eastern Sicily.

The arrests included a mayor and a town councillor near Messina across the strait from Calabria, police said.

Cosa Nostra has been trying to get into the renewable-energy and wind-farm business for years, Italian investigators say.

In December police arrested six people and seized 10 billion euros in assets in a probe into suspected Mafia infiltration of other renewable-energy facilities in western Sicily. The proceeds from contracts are believed to have gone to fugitive Cosa Nostra head Matteo Messina Denaro.

Police said Mafia members got contracts for work on wind farms and solar-energy plants near Agrigento, Palermo and Trapani.

A wave of arrests over recent years have closed the net around 50-year-old Agrigento-based boss Denaro, one of the world’s 10 most-wanted men, who took control of Cosa Nostra after the 2006 arrest of Bernardo Provenzano.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Pope ‘Has Done Much’ For Exorcists, Says Association Head

Demon banisher Amorth praises pontiff in battle against evil

(ANSA) — Rome, February 14 — Italy’s leading exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth said on Thursday that Pope Benedict XVI “has done many things for exorcists”.

Amorth, founder and head of the International Association of Exorcists, will be a special guest Friday on an edition of “Vade Retro” dedicated to the outgoing pontiff, aired on the TV2000 religious satellite channel.

Benedict was praised by Amorth for “allowing exorcists to administer the sacrament of exorcism not only to people who are suffering from demonic possession, but also those who suffer other evil disorders,” such as being plagued by devils and diabolic infestation. The episode will be titled: “Joseph Ratzinger and the Devil. The history of a pontificate and the battle against evil”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Court Refuses Annulment for Marriage Due to ‘Unnatural’ Sex

Woman claims husband prefers deviant sexual relations

(ANSA) — Rome, February 12 — Italy’s Cassation Court on Tuesday turned down an appeal by a woman asking for her marriage to be annulled because of her husband’s insistence she have “unnatural” sexual relations.

The woman previously turned to an appeals court in the Marche city of Ascoli Piceno on the basis that she did not want a separation or divorce, but a complete annulment of the marriage that she says was based on false pretenses. The couple, married in 1996, had not had premarital sex. After their wedding, the woman claims she discovered her husband’s deviant sexual behaviour.

The court ruled that an annulment could be issued only in the case of “insurmountable” factors such as “transsexualism” or complete impotence.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Dog Who Honored His Deceased Owner Dies Near Brindisi

Fans on Facebook show outpouring of love for Tommy

(ANSA) — Brindisi, February 13 — Messages on the social network Facebook are pouring out condolences for a dog in the southern town of San Donaci near Brindisi that moved people around the world for his dedication to his dead owner.

Tommy, a 12-year-old German Shepherd-mix that attended the same church services that once drew his mistress, died on Wednesday.

Priests at the local parish welcomed the dog who was a regular at every baptism, wedding or funeral, rain or shine, at the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

A message from Peru read, “I cried at the news. Tommy was a friend of mankind, gave us a reason to believe in life and the beautiful things that it gives us”.

The daughter of Tommy’s deceased owner Maria Lochi, thanked friends of the dog on Facebook.

“I am sure that Maria would be delighted to see so many people around us! In her life she fought with her heart and soul to ensure that all abandoned dogs like Tommy had happy moments.

Now I ask you, please, to continue her fight,” she wrote.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Gondoliers Risk Losing Licenses for Fleecing Tourists

Footage showed passengers getting ripped off in Venice

(ANSA) — Venice, February 13 — A top Italian consumer group has called for dishonest gondoliers to be stripped of their licenses for fleecing tourists at above-market rates. “Bland measures and fines are not enough,” said Codacons.

“Those who have ripped off trusting tourists need to be punished by never getting their permits back”. The group spoke out after Italian TV program Striscia la Notizia caught some gondoliers on tape demanding exorbitant prices from Carnival tourists, and others ending the trip after only a few minutes. Codacons called on the city of Venice to open an investigation. Venice tourism councilor Roberto Panciera called the behavior of the filmed gondoliers “shameful to the profession and the city of Venice,” and called on the local gondolier authority Ente Gondola to impose suspensions and fines. Ente Gondola President Nicola Falconi said he was “dismayed” by the program’s findings and said he was organizing an outside disciplinary committee. “The committee has the power to impose heavy sanctions, temporary suspensions and to permanently strip licenses,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Lars Hedegaard and the Enemies of Truthfulness

by Andrew Bostom

Last week I noted how Michael Coren of Canada’s Sun TV was far bolder than any of his US television network colleagues in dealing with Islam’s threat to Western free speech, epitomized by Coren’s interview of Danish journalist and historian Lars Hedegaard, who survived an assassination attempt by a likely Muslim assailant, still at large. No such interview with public airing on television was conducted by any major US television network—ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN—not even the self-proclaimed “alternative” to “stultifying political correctness,” and “champion” of free speech, The Blaze TV.

Emphasizing, yet again, the ongoing, complete dereliction of duty of not only the mainstream legacy media, but so-called conservative outlets such as Fox News and The Blaze, Michael Coren opened his follow-up interview of Lars Hedegaard, yesterday (2/15/13), with this observation:

You [Hedegaard] should be on every single TV show. This should have been [on] the front page of every newspaper in the civilized world.

To add insult to bitter irony, as described in this news item Friday (2/15/13)from Dispatch International, which Lars Hedegaard continues to edit while in protective seclusion, and reiterated during Coren’s latest interview, Hedegaard has been compelled to sue several Swedish media (including Aftonbladet, Svenska Dagbladet, Sveriges Television, Sydsvenskan and Helsingborgs Dagblad) for libel. The libel charge was filed with Allmänhetens Pressombudsman, (the Press Ombudsman) as well as the Chancellor of Justice.

Here is the wording that several Swedish newspapers elected to publish from the Swedish national news agency TT:…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom [Return to headlines]

Terror at 27,000ft: Crew Plug Gap in Super Jumbo Jet Door With Blankets and Pillows Stuck Together With Gaffer Tape After it ‘Blows Open’ During the Flight

A British tourist told yesterday of his flight of terror when he claims an emergency exit on a super jumbo blew open at 27,000ft.

David Reid and his son Lewis feared a bomb had gone off after hearing a ‘massive explosion’ two hours into their flight on the brand new £250million Emirates Airbus A380.

Freezing air blasted in and the cabin pressure plunged after the door in business class came an inch and a half ajar, leaving a gaping hole, said Mr Reid…

He said: ‘We were about two hours in when suddenly there was a huge blast.

‘It was a real shock, so loud that I thought a bomb might have gone off. Air was gushing into the cabin like a gale.

‘The stewardess jumped up and stared at the door. Her face was drained white.

‘She ran up the aisle, grabbed the intercom and started screaming, “The door’s going to go, the door’s going to go!” Then she hid under her chair.

‘Other passengers were crying and saying “We’re going to go down, we’re going to go down.”

Comment from John: These aircraft are made from composite materials…with the old aluminum aircraft an aircraft engineer could see evy crease and buckle in the outer skin after a set of steps or airbridge had been rammed against the airframe. With the new composites they pop back but on the inside, behind the trim and insulation they are splintered and damaged. With this new material now being used we are all flying prototypes…wont be long before one delaminates at 30,000 ft.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.S. Military Blocked by Protesting Moms in Sicily

Activists concerned about MUOS satellite system

(ANSA) — Gela, February 15 — Roughly 100 protesters in Sicily on Friday blocked vehicles for the second day in a row from entering the construction site of a contested US military satellite communications system.

The vehicles were said to be carrying about 10 US soldiers arriving to change guard at the site located two kilometers outside the town of Niscemi, while the protesters were predominantly mothers from the area. In January the region of Sicily moved to suspend construction after activists blocked construction crews and later clashed with police near an American military base.

The site is part of a global satellite defense network called the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), which will aid US and NATO military operations as well as relief efforts.

Opponents of the project say it will be an environmental and health nuisance and threatens world peace.

On Thursday the US consulate in Naples issued a statement assuring inhabitants that “electromagnetic emissions are well below the legal limit, both for workers at the site and those who live nearby”.

Furthermore, it added, “there will be a series of post-installation tests to assess the potential effects on the surroundings”. Other bases participating in MUOS are in Australia, Hawaii and Virginia.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: ‘It’s Like Stalin’s Russia — Speak Out and You’re Crushed’: NHS Whistleblower Reveals How Bosses Bid to Gag Him Ruined His Life

Gary Walker was head of NHS trust responsible for Lincoln County Hospital. But he was dismissed from his £150,000-a-year post last February.

He was given a £500,000 pay-off on condition he keep quiet about sacking. But he broke his silence this week about the scandal that led to his dismissal

[…]

‘I knew we should prioritise quality of care and safety so we cancelled 1,000 non-urgent operations in a month to make adequate space for emergency patients.

‘I told the health authority that the hospitals in the trust were dangerously overfull and we needed to build a new 100-bed unit if we wanted to operate safely.’

Mr Walker’s bosses, however, had other priorities. Driven by a blinkered compulsion to meet Government-imposed waiting-list targets of 18 weeks for non-urgent surgery, the strategic health authority informed Mr Walker he had to obey its wishes.

The two-year battle that ensued when he refused to do so led to his dismissal from his £150,000-a-year post last February.

After he was fired on what he claims — with some justification — was a trumped-up charge of swearing, he was given a £500,000 pay-off on condition he keep quiet about the true reasons for his sacking.

However, this week he broke his silence about the scandal that prompted his dismissal — a shambolic failure of care, thought to have contributed to the unnecessary deaths of 670 patients since 2009 who were in the care of the Lincolnshire trust.

In so doing, he ignored the terms of the super-gag he signed in return for his pay-off. Yesterday the Mail published the threatening email he received from NHS lawyers ordering him to respect the terms of the gagging order issued in 2011 — or risk having to repay the hush money.

But Mr Walker, who has not worked since he lost his job, intends to continue campaigning for a change of culture in the NHS, even if he faces financial ruin.

‘I stand to lose more than I ever received,’ he says, ‘but I won’t go away until I feel every patient can go into a hospital and feel protected.’

His decision to expose the scandalous conditions in the Lincolnshire hospital trust has taken a punishing toll on him. He accrued £100,000 debts from legal fees. His mortgage arrears reached £10,000 and he came perilously close to losing his house. Eventually, his six-year relationship with his girlfriend fractured under the stress.

‘I was at the end of my tether emotionally, financially and mentally,’ he says. ‘I suffered from insomnia. I was taking tranquillisers, sleeping tablets and anti-depressants.’

He remains furious that NHS head Sir David Nicholson has not been held accountable for parlous shortcomings in the service over which he presides. Mr Walker’s comments follow the Francis Report into the Stafford Hospital Trust, which blamed ‘failings at every level’ for 1,200 deaths there.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Canteen Worker at Dulwich College Spared Jail After Sending ‘Depraved’ Child Porn on the Internet

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

A canteen worker at a top private school , who was caught sending out ‘depraved’ child porn pictures over the internet, has escaped a prison sentence.

Paul Harding, 50, shared films of children as young as six being abused and had more images on his home computer.

He also visited online chat sites where he told other paedophiles how he wanted to ‘groom’ a child who he would use to recruit other youngsters.

Harding, a catering supervisor at prestigious Dulwich College in southeast London, was spared jail by Judge Andrew Goymer who was a former student there.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Cars May Explode in Crashes if EU Forces Firms to Fit ‘Highly Flammable’ Green Coolant, Warns Mercedes

New cars sold in Britain and Europe risk catching fire and exploding in a crash because of EU rules to impose a controversial ‘green’ air-conditioning coolant from the start of this year, German car giant Mercedes-Benz has warned.

The luxury car-maker says the new ‘climate-friendly’ air-con chemical is ‘highly flammable’, poisonous and poses a danger both to occupants and rescue services — and German government officials now agree.

Mercedes-Benz is refusing to put the controversial new gas refrigerant into its latest vehicles, sparking a major confrontation with Brussels and the firms who make it — both of whom deny any safety risks.

Today, Mercedes-Benz and its parent company Daimler received backing from Germany’s Federal Environment Agency UBA.

It asked the EU to ‘compromise’ by granting them and other car-makers — including Volkswagen and Audi — an extension from the mandatory rules until 2015 if they agree to introduce an alternative green refrigerant based on carbon dioxide, which experts say is safer because it doesn’t burn.

If Daimler is correct, around 2 million new cars sold in the UK each year are potentially at risk. Photographs from the firm’s own simulated crash tests on cars showed that a mix of the refrigerant and air-conditioning compressor oil released under a car’s hood could ignite a heated engine.

This would mainly be a risk if the car crashes, but it is also possible if the coolant leaks for any other reason.

The row centres on the new coolant with the codename ‘R1234yf’ which Daimler argues can start a fire in the car and release toxic hydrogen fluoride gas. It is the replacement for the long-time industry standard, which EU legislators in Brussels have ordered to be phased out from January because of concerns about greenhouse gases.

The new ‘green’ refrigerant is produced by US giant Honeywell and is currently the only one if its kind that meets new EU climate guidelines. The firm denies categorically that there is any safety risk…

Urging the EU to compromise, Jochen Flasbarth, president of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency UBA said: ‘We have been warning about the dangers (of HF0-1234yf) for years. Daimler’s internal tests proved not only that our own fears were justified but also that we may even have underestimated the risks.’

[…]

Mercedes-Benz executives said they watched in horror when engineers at a test-track in Sindelfingen in Germany simulated a leak in the air-conditioning line of a Mercedes B-Class tourer using the new coolant.

After releasing a fine mixture of the refrigerant and air-conditioning compressor oil which sprayed across the car’s turbo-charged 1.6 litre engine, they watched it ignite in ‘a ball of fire’ before their eyes.

The substance caught fire as soon as it hit the hot surface, releasing a toxic, corrosive gas as it burned. The car’s windshield turned milky white as lethal hydrogen fluoride began eating its way into the glass, said the firm.

Stefan Geyer, a senior Daimler engineer who ran the tests said: ‘We were frozen in shock, I am not going to deny it.’

[…]

In sharp contrast, the existing refrigerant ‘was proved to be safe under identical testing conditions, he said.

Comment to the article by’habitat’: the compound is, according to a brief internet search, 2,3,3,3-Tetrafluoropropylene. looking at its structure — as a chemist, i would expect it to be capable of burning quite well if it was subjected to prolonged high temperatures in the presence of air. it would be nothing like as inflammable as diesel or petrol, but on burning it would release hydrogen fluoride gas. i’m not an expert on risk assessments but HF is corrosive”

[Comment: Years ago, the Space shuttle started to have problems with heat resistant tiles falling off. The new enviro-friendly glue being used was not as good as the old glue.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Donkey Shortage Hits Easter Play

THE search is on for a crucial member of the cast for Abingdon’s Passion Play. Music teacher Sally Mears, who lives in the town, came up with the idea of staging the musical play based on the Easter story of Jesus’s death. But her dream won’t be properly realised until she finds a donkey to carry teenager Chris Young, who plays Christ. About 100 people are working on the production which will be performed in Abbey Gardens on Palm Sunday, March 24…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Government Accuses Lutfur Rahman of ‘Divisive Community Politics’ And ‘Mismanagement of Council Staff and Resources’

by Andrew Gilligan

The extremist-linked mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman (above), is under deepening pressure on all fronts today. His attempt to abuse the local government standards code to hound one of his most effective opponents, Cllr Peter Golds (see my account of it here) has humiliatingly collapsed, leaving council taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket.

>From the Labour side, the party’s leader in Tower Hamlets, Josh Peck, today attacked the council as a “basket case” suffering a “massive failure of governance, with some seriously worrying things happening.” Even Lutfur’s newly-crowned Young Mayor of Tower Hamlets, 16-year-old Mahdi Alam, has got himself into bother after posting threats to kill on Twitter. The lad’ll fit right in!

[…]

[Reader comment by midnitestroker on 16 February 2013 at 3:21 am.]

I think it’s important to let Tower Hamlets go full Muslamic, so that the rest of the country can see what is in store for them, before it is too late. What are you folks going to do in 2022, when the 2021 census results are published, and Muslims score another 70% (or more) growth rate? Will you start to take the existential threat seriously then? Or will you continue with your nonsense about the Empire’s Hoth campaign? Talk about fiddling while Rome burns…

[Reader comment by foxie on 16 February 2013 at 8:24 am.]

I used to commute to work in the City. In a few years time, I can imagine every female having to carry a hijab in her bag for the short walk to the office.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Man Heard Girl Being ‘Raped in Next Room’

A HOTEL guest heard a man beat and rape a teenage girl in the room next to him, the Old Bailey was told yesterday. The jury was also told the trial of nine men accused of raping and prostituting underage girls in Oxford could last up to 18 weeks — six weeks longer than first thought. One of the alleged victims in the case — known as Girl 3 — said she was raped as a 14-year-old at the Nanford Guest House in November 2006…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Rachel Frosh Should Not Have Been Removed From the Candidates List for Saying Hitler Was a Socialist

Dr Rachel Frosh has been removed the Conservative Party candidates list and forced to resign as the Deputy Police and Crime Comissioner in Hertfordshire. The reason was that she used her Twitter account to retweet message with this graphic

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: So Total is the Left’s Cultural Ascendancy That No One Likes to Mention the Socialist Roots of Fascism

by Daniel Hannan

‘I am a Socialist,’ Hitler told Otto Strasser in 1930, ‘and a very different kind of Socialist from your rich friend, Count Reventlow’. No one at the time would have regarded it as a controversial statement. The Nazis could hardly have been more open in their socialism, describing themselves with the same terminology as our own SWP: National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

Almost everyone in those days accepted that fascism had emerged from the revolutionary Left. Its militants marched on May Day under red flags. Its leaders stood for collectivism, state control of industry, high tariffs, workers’ councils. Around Europe, fascists were convinced that, as Hitler told an enthusiastic Mussolini in 1934, ‘capitalism has run its course’…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Suicidal Woman Found Dead at Foot of Cliffs After Walking Out of ‘Chaotic’ Hospital Ward While Nurses ‘Ate Doctor’s Birthday Cake’

A suicidal woman was found dead after walking out of a hospital while nurses ate birthday cake, an inquest heard.

The body of Sally Ann Vye, 39, was discovered at the foot of cliffs at Beachy Head, Sussex, on June 20 last year, the day after she went missing.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Trio Invade Hartlepool Mosque and Shout Racist Abuse

TWO men a woman invaded a mosque and shouted racist abuse. Police are trying to trace the trio who caused a disturbance at the Nasir Mosque on Brougham Terrace in Hartlepool at 7.45pm on Tuesday, February 5. Imam Tahir Selby was leading prayers at the male side of the mosque and did not see the trouble, but was later informed…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Two Prisoners Appear in Court Over Jail Murder of Child Killer Who Tortured and Beat His Lover’s Two-Year-Old Daughter to Death

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

Two prisoners today appeared in court charged with murder after a child killer was found dead at the high-security Long Lartin jail in Worcestershire

Fomer salesman Subhan Anwar, 25, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for torturing and battering his partner’s two-year-old daughter to death.

Two fellow prisoners, Gary David Smith, 47, and Lee William Newell, 44, appeared at Worcester Magistrates today accused of his murder.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Vatican City: Head of Firm That Built Warships for Hitler to Run Vatican Bank

The Vatican faced embarrassment Friday after appointing as the new head of its bank a German Catholic who is chairman of a company that makes warships.

Filling the vacant post was one of the last major acts of Benedict XVI’s papacy but there was dismay when it was revealed to be Ernst von Freyberg, the chairman of a Hamburg shipyard that makes frigates and destroyers. Worse from a public relations perspective, his company, Blohm+Voss Group, was a major producer of battleships and U-boats for Hitler’s regime…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Was the Pope Pushed? An Abuse Scandal, Corruption and the Dark Intrigue Behind Benedict’s Shock Resignation

Dust may still be settling on Benedict XVI’s unexpected resignation, at the age of 85, but cynical eyes have begun to turn towards his relationship with Sodano the power-broker.

Sodano has lost little time in expressing his ‘sense of loss and almost disbelief’ at Benedict’s decision to quit, telling reporters that Monday’s announcement felt ‘like a lightning bolt in a clear blue sky’. But Vatican insiders smell a rat about those widely reported comments. They point out that, far from being surprised at Benedict’s announcement, Sodano had been told the previous Friday. And far from a ‘sense of loss’, previous form suggests the ambitious cardinal would have been delighted at the news.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy and Serbia to Bolster Economic Cooperation

Business Council meets on transport, energy, railways, agrofood

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, FEBRUARY 13 — The Italy-Serbia Business Council meeting held its first workshop on Wednesday, with many businessmen from both countries taking part. Italy expressed its interest in investing further in Serbia, with a focus on railways, road infrastructure, agriculture, and energy. The importance Belgrade attaches to economic relations with Italy was shown by the presence of the Serbian ministers Mladjan Dinkic (economy and finance), Verica Kalanovic (regional development), Zorana Mihajlovic (energy) and deputy minister of agriculture Senad Mahmutovic. The meeting was chaired by Business Council co-chairmen Guidalberto Guidi and Draginja Djuric. Economy and Finance Minister Dinkic noted the interest shown by his Italian counterpart in the railways sector, which is currently seen as slow and inadequate, and in which there is the desire to invest to rebuild and modernize tracts of it or entire railway lines. This view is supported by Fiat Serbia, whose Kragujevac plant (where the new 500L vehicles are produced) is a major driving force in the Balkan country’s economy. The aim is to make Serbia into a true hub for regional and international connections, given the country’s favourable position as concerns the markets of Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan, all areas enjoying strong economic and productive expansion. Italy’s ambassador Armando Varricchio also took part in the Business Council meeting, speaking of the consolidated “partnership relations” between Italy and Serbia which help both grow.

Italy, Varricchio stressed, fully supports Serbia’s European integration efforts, a process which also serves to boost its economic potential, with growing openness to international groups. The approximately 600 Italian businesses operating in Serbia employ over 20,000 people, and overall Italian investment thus far stands at about 2 billion euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Fayoum: Islamic Extremists Attack Coptic Church, Wounding Pastor

A crowd, incited by a Salafi leader, attacked the church of Saint Georgas. The Cross on the dome destroyed, part of the interior and the sacred images devastated. The police witnessed the violence, but did not intervene. Fr. Domadios saved by a Muslim family. In recent months, extremists had opened a hole in the wall to “monitor” his activities.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) — A mob, incited by local Salafi fringe, threw stones and set fire to the church of St. Georgas in the village of Sarsena, Tamiya District, in the Egyptian province of Fayoum, about 103 km south-west of Cairo. According to sources of the Assyrian International News Agency (Aina), the attack took place yesterday evening and caused damage, particularly to the dome of the place of Christian worship. The attack destroyed the towering cross on top of the building, and many of the icons and sacred images inside.

The local Salafist fringe lead the attack against the Copts, pitting the Muslims against the community, branding the church as “illegal”, because it is close to an area inhabited by Muslims and “for this reason has to be removed.” They are imposing the demolition of the building and have prevented the priest, Father Domadios from entering. Some witnesses reported that the scene was also attended by police, who did nothing to prevent the violence.

The church of St. Georgas was built in the mid-80s and is a point of encounter and prayer for 200 Coptic families. About three months ago, some Muslims made a hole in the wall, to “monitor” the activities of Christians. Yesterday the priest’s attempts at mediation proved worthless. He was joined by the local police chief, who arrived on site to try to find an agreement between the parties.

Firm in their positions, hundreds of Islamic extremists — in front of the police — started throwing stones at the church. The attackers injured — not seriously — some Copts and Father Domadios, who managed to flee to safety with the help of a Muslim family aboard their car.

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

Foreigners Arrested for Trying to Spread Christianity in Libya

(Reuters) Four foreigners have been arrested in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on suspicion of being Christian missionaries and printing books about Christianity, a security official said on Saturday.

“They were arrested on Tuesday at a publishing house where they were printing thousands of books that called for conversion to Christianity,” security official Hussein Bin Hmeid said.

“Proselytizing is forbidden in Libya. We are a 100 percent Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Libya: Salafists Ready to Destroy Tripoli’s Symbolic Statues. The Population Revolts

For the head of the Department of Antiquities, the extremists are a threat to the entire national cultural heritage. Also at risk is the Unesco World Heritage sites such as Leptis Magna and Cyrene. Since August, more than 70 monuments destroyed by Islamic extremists. The population of Tripoli organize a demonstration to oust the Salafis.

Tripoli (AsiaNews) — The Islamists are threatening the historical and archaeological heritage of Libya. At risk are not only statues and monuments considered indecent by Islam, but also UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Roman city of Leptis Magna, Sabratha and Cyrene, the Berber oasis of Gadames, the cave paintings of Tadrart Acacus. The warning has been launched by Mustafa Turjman, head of the Department of Antiquities of Libya. The researcher reports that in recent days some Salafis have attempted to cover with a veil and damage the statue “the Gazelle” (see photo) a bronze monument depicting a naked woman, a symbol of the city of Tripoli and dating back to the Italian colonization. According Turjam the defense of the Libyan cultural heritage has become a small battle for the new Libya, full of the contradictions of the Arab Spring that culminated with the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Two years after the death of Nasser, the country still does not have a stable government capable of ensuring security and border control and has become a sort of haven for Islamic extremist militias active in Algeria and Mali. Since August Islamic extremists have already destroyed 70 mosques and shrines belonging to the Sufi minority, a current both Shiite and Sunni Islam considers heretical. Not only religious monuments are being targeted, hundreds of tombs dating back to the colonial period and several non-Muslim libraries and cultural centres have been destroyed.

The alarm raised by Turjam is shared by most of the population. Many Libyans consider the Salafis and Islamic extremists a minority, imposing its will through weapons and the support of complacent leaders. “The Gazelle is the symbol of Tripoli,” says Souad Wheidi, physiotherapist, “it is part of the heritage of the city and has survived to the monarchy and the Gaddafi regime …”. He points out that “the Salafis are a small minority, trying in every way to take power.” Adel Turki, a restorer from Bristol University who directed restoration work on the statue in 2012, says “the people of Tripoli considers the monument an important part of their past.”

“If the Salafists will destroy it, the people will take to the streets against them.” In the coming days in Tripoli a large demonstration is being organised against the Islamic militias that roam the city. Similar protests also took place in October in Benghazi, after the murder of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador who died in the attack on the U.S. consulate organized by Islamic extremists on September 11, 2012.

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

Muslim Mob Torches Church in Egypt

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — On Friday evening Muslims in the village of Sarsena, Tamiya district in Fayoum province (103 KM southwest of central Cairo) set fire to the church of St. George and hurled stones at it, causing damage to its dome; they broke the cross on top of the dome, demolished parts of its interior and defaced and destroyed its icons. This was prompted by Salafists Muslims who instigated the villagers to attack the church because the church is “an unlawful neighbor to the Muslims who live adjacent to it and must therefore be moved.” They demanded the relocation of the church away from Muslim homes and are not allowing its priest Pastor Domadios to enter the church. All these eventswere witnessed by the security authorities but they did nothing to stop the attack.

The church was built in the mid-1980s and serves nearly 200 Coptic families. Three months ago the Muslims made a hole in the church to monitor the activities inside. Yesterday the Muslims said the church has to move and refused an offer from the church to buy the home of the Muslim neighbor. The Muslims also demanded the church not use a small plot of land it owns as a kindergarten.

The Muslim neighbor increased the size of the monitoring hole in the church to over one square meter.

The head of the district police came to the village and tried to reconcile the church’s pastor and the Muslim parties. But the Muslims did not agree to any of the proposals and left the meeting. Shortly afterwards and in the presence of the police, hundreds of Muslims began congregating and hurled bricks at the church; the police made no effort to stop them.

The mob climbed to the church dome and started demolishing it and setting it on fire. The dome collapsed into the burning church and caused great damage. Muslims used bricks from the dome and the holy cross and hurled it at the altar inside the church, causing part of it to be demolished; all the icons of saints were destroyed.

Muslims tried to assault Father Domadios and threw stones at him, but he was saved by a Muslim family who brought him away from the village in their car.

“All this took place in the presence of the police chief,” reported Coptic activist Nader Shoukry. Muslims continued throwing stones at the church, breaking the roof water tank, which fell inside the church and helped quench the fire. Later security authorities persuaded the Muslim perpetrators to stop their assault and leave the place after a considerable part of the church was destroyed. Some Copts and the priest were slightly injured by stones thrown at them.

According to Nader Shoukry, the Coptic inhabitants are staying indoors for fear of being assaulted by the Muslims. None of the perpetrators has been arrested and situation is still volatile.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Chokri Belaid’s Assassination — a Bullet in the Heart of the Revolution?

By Mounira Chaieb

The savage murder of Chokri Belaid, one of Tunisia’s progressive political figures, brought over a million Tunisians onto the streets of Tunis and other cities for his funeral held on 6 February 2013. The General Workers Union(UGTT) called for a strike, the first in more than thirty years to coincide with the funeral. Tunisians ponder who will be next after such a political assassination?

Last week saw the most significant and the most dangerous turn in Tunisia since its revolt in 2011. The assassination of the progressive political figure, lawyer and human rights activist Chokri Belaid on 6 February 2013 in broad day light and outside his home in Tunis provoked anger and a deep sense of betrayal among millions of Tunisians…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Israeli Settlers Rise Sharply, 360,000 in West Bank

Jewish residents rose 5% in 2012

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, FEBRUARY 13 — The overall number of Israelis residing in the West Bank rose by 5% in 2012, reports the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). The settlers council revealed that the number of Israeli settlers rose by 50,000 — from 312,000 to 360,000 — in Benyamin Netanyahu’s four years in government. The growth rate of the Israeli population is three times the average in Israel, which stands at 1.4%. The council noted that half of the population in the West Bank is under age eighteen.

The figures do not include the Israelis living in the chain of Jewish districts in East Jerusalem, where an estimated 250,000 people live. The new chairman of the settlers council, Avi Roeh, said that “our region is attractive to young families. We have many requests from people who would like to move here”. “We expect the government to take note of the situation,” he went on to say, and develop our communities”.

The inhabitants of the settlements are considered illegal by both Palestinians and the international community — and their expansion has been the subject of protest at the diplomatic level — but enjoy a variety of subsidies from the Israeli government.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel’s Netanyahu Has an Ice-Cream Habit

(AGI) Tel Aviv — Netanyahu is crazy for ice-cream. He spent 2000 euros in 2012 to buy his preferred dessert. Isreaeli media was outraged.

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

Qatar: Tamil Sri Lankan Catholic Risks Decapitation. The Family: Blood Money to Save Him

The Sri Lankan Sudeshkar stabbed his colleague, of Indian origin, and admitted the crime. In agreement with the relatives of the victim, his parents have to collect 3.5 million rupees (20,600 euro) by February, or he will be executed.

Kandana (AsiaNews) — The life of Vengadaslam Sudeshkar, a Sri Lankan Tamil Catholic sentenced to death for murder in Qatar, is worth 3.5 million rupees (20,600 euro). This is the ransom, or blood money, being requested by the family of the victim, a young man of Indian origin, to avoid the young Sri Lankan’s execution by beheading. His family, however, is very poor: most of sum is being covered by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), but to date there are still 700 thousand rupees, to be collected by the end of February.

The fact dates back to 2011: Sudeshkar, 22, was in Qatar looking for a job and found one in a fruit market. One day a discussion broke out with an Indian Tamil friend ??who worked with him: the quarrel intensified, and the Sri Lankan stabbed his colleague to death. The police arrested Sudeshkar, who was convicted and sentenced to death December 31, 2012.

The young Sri Lankan admittted his guilt from the outset: thus his mother Mangalasamy Pungodi could get in touch with the victim’s family, who accepted the offer of money to release the boy and prevent him being beheaded. However, so far the mother and the AHRC have managed to collect only 2.8 million rupees (16,500 euro). “Unfortunately — explains the NGO to AsiaNews — we can not leave the matter in the hands of the Government of Sri Lanka. We do not want to repeat what happened to Rizana Nafeek.”

The young girl Rizana was executed on 9 January in Saudi Arabia for the alleged murder of a newborn. She had spent almost six years on death row.

To help raise money, you can contact the Asian Human Rights Commission at ahrc@ahrc.asia.

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

Fireball From Outer Space: 1,000 Injured as 40-Ton Meteor Travelling at 33,000mph Explodes Over a Terrified Town (Several Videos)

Some feared a plane was about to fall out of the sky while others thought the world was ending.

In fact, it was a meteor streaking across the sky before exploding in a fireball brighter than the sun.

The terrifying sight was caught in these astonishing pictures by residents of central Russia as they headed to work yesterday.

A thunderous ‘sonic boom’ shattered windows, rocked buildings and interrupted mobile phone networks.

Almost 1,000 people were injured by flying fragments of glass and rubble — at least 112 seriously.

Footage taken by ‘dashcams’ — dashboard cameras common in the cars of Russians in case of accidents on winter roads or disputes with corrupt traffic police — mean the supersonic blaze has been captured, and shared with the world, in unprecedented detail.

[Comment: Several videos at url.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Trevor Loudon: Obama’s “Secret Letter” To Moscow

The letter will be delivered by president Obama’ s National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon, a member of that well known patriotic organization, the Council on Foreign Relations.

From Kremlim propaganda mouthpiece Russia Today:

Alexei Pushkov, the head of the State Duma committee on international affairs, believes that a top Washington aide will deliver to Moscow offers on nuclear disarmament in an upcoming visit.

“The US president’ s National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon is expected to arrive in Moscow in February,” Pushkov told a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday. “He is expected to bring a so-called secret letter.”

The leading Russian politician, while admitting that “no one knows what this letter will say,” said he believes it will contain “some proposals in the sphere of disarmament, including nuclear… “…

Obama is playing a very dangerous game with American national security. If he succeeds in disarming America, then the combined forces of Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and others, will be able to exercise their will anywhere in the world.

If the balance swings too far in their favor, they will almost certainly strike at the American Heartland.

Obama isn’ t just playing a silly game here. He is putting hundreds of millions of lives, and Western Civilization itself, at grave risk.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Anti-Islamist Blogger Killed in Bangladesh

A Bangladesh blogger has been killed after he played a large role in organizing big anti-Islamist protests in Dhaka

A blogger who had been critical of Bangladesh’s Islamist groups was killed in the capital late Friday, police said, a day after he attended a big rally against leaders of the country’s largest Islamic party.

Protests championed by the country’s bloggers have seen thousands of people take to the streets demanding the execution of leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party who are under trial for war crimes. Clashes between police and Islamist protesters demanding the trials be halted have also rocked the capital.

Police found the body of Ahmed Rajib, 35 — better known by his online identity Thaba Baba — near his home in Dhaka’s Pallabi suburb, with his head hacked apart with a machete.

“We recovered the machete. It is clear the attacker wanted to murder him. They did not touch his laptop or other valuable objects,” police official Sheikh Motiur Rahman told AFP.

Police have not commented on a possible motive for the killing, but Rahman, citing Rajib’s relatives, said the blogger played a large role in organising the anti-Islamist protests.

Rajib’s brother, who declined to be named, told AFP his sibling had been “threatened frequently” by Islamists angry at his role in the protests and his writings against the religion.

“In recent months he stopped writing against Islam and concentrated on the war crime issues,” he added.

At least 13 people have died during clashes over the ongoing trials in which a host of senior Jamaat figures — including the party’s leader and deputy leader — are being tried over their role in the 1971 independence war…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Bomb Kills 64 in Pakistan’s Quetta

(Reuters) Sixty-four people including school children died on Saturday in a bomb attack carried out by extremists from Pakistan’s Sunni Muslim majority, police said.

A spokesman for Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni group, claimed responsibility for the bomb in Quetta, which caused casualties in the town’s main bazaar, a school and a computer center. Police said most of the victims were Shi’ites.

Burned school bags and books were strewn around.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Britain Asks for Arrest of Sudanese President at Mali Summit

(AGI) London — Great Britain has made an official request to Chad for the arrest of Sudan’s president, Omar hassan Ahmad al-Bashir.

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

Somalia: Mufti of Puntland Killed Inside Garowe Mosque, Terrorist Killer Captured

One of the most knowledgeable Islamic scholars in Somalia, Sheikh Abdulkadir Nur Farah, who was the mufti of the country’s northern Puntland region, was killed Friday afternoon inside a mosque in Garowe, Garowe Online reports. Civilians praying at the mosque quickly overwhelmed the killer, who shot and wounded a young male and a woman bystander as he tried to escape. The killer has been detained by Puntland security forces and witnesses said the killer looks like a teenager between 14 and 20 years old…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Celestial Body Explodes in Cuba

Residents of a locality ‘in the central region of Cuba said they had seen an object that fell from the sky and exploded with a great noise, which shook the houses of the place: it is learned from testimonies collected by local television. In service published this morning by Rodas, town in the province of Cienfuegos, witnesses described a very bright light that has come to have large size, comparable to that of a bus, before exploding in the sky.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Chinese Girl Taking Mom’s Italian Exam Charged With Fraud

Test required for residency papers

(ANSA) — Prato, February 12 — A Chinese teenage girl was charged Monday with fraud for attempting to substitute for her mother during an Italian exam in the central city of Prato.

An older boy was also apprehended for attempting to take the exam in place of a friend.

Both teenagers were seeking to help Chinese immigrants who were required to take an official Italian language exam as part of efforts to acquire Italian residency papers. Prato, near Florence, once home to a flourishing Italian textile production center, has seen a large influx of Chinese immigrants who have largely displaced the homegrown industry.

In previous days, another two incidents of fraud were reported by Prato’s Istituto Mazzoni, which issues the exam.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Obama Bid to Deport Homeschool Refugees May Threaten U.S. Rights

Homeschooling advocates are up in arms after Obama’s Justice Department, led bydisgraced Attorney General Eric Holder, claimed that a ban on home education was not a violation of fundamental human rights and that, as such, the ruthlessly persecuted Romeike family should be deported to Germany. Experts say deporting the innocent homeschoolers to face barbaric German authorities — infamous worldwide for lawlessly abducting homeschooled children and jailing home-educating parents — would be bad enough. Particularly troubling for Americans in general, however, is that the case could set a dangerous precedent for U.S. freedom, too.

[…]

With the Romeikes, first, the Department of Homeland Security — which, ironically, is at the same time working fiendishly to provide amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants — disputed the asylum decision with the Board of Immigration Appeals. The Obama administration argued, among other points, that the family should be promptly deported even though the children may be seized by authorities and the parents jailed if they are forced to return to Germany. The family appealed that decision, but the Attorney General has decided to seek the deportation of the Romeike family anyway. The case, Romeike v. Holder, is currently before the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Homeschooling leaders in the United States, while deeply concerned about the fate of the Romeikes and hundreds of other persecuted German home-educating families, are also sounding the alarm about the legal arguments being made by the Obama administration — specifically how they relate to Americans’ freedoms. The German government, of course, continues to enforce and justify its draconian ban on the right to homeschool by claiming the purpose is to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.” Essentially, authorities there argue that everybody must think the same.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Texas Border Wide Open — Alex Jones Reports

In this exclusive Infowars Nightly News report, Alex Jones, while at Big Bend national park on the Texas-Mexico border proves how porous the border really is by personally video-taping illegal immigrants crossing the Rio Grande river. This footage was shot just days before Barack Obama during his 2013 presidential State of the Union address said, “We can build on the progress my Administration has already made — putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history, and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Cameron Must Defy the EU on Migrants

Today, the Mail starts a series on the potential consequences of throwing open Britain’s borders to countless immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria.

Citizens of these two desperately poor countries — sadly rife with corruption and organised criminality — describe how they are making eager preparations to travel here on January 1, when existing immigration controls are due to be lifted.

Would-be migrants talk of the generous benefits system in Britain — and of a rush to bring over their entire families before ‘someone decides to padlock the door’.

Yet, while the potential for another huge change to the demographic of this small island is obvious, the UK Government appears unwilling or unable to deal with what could be a bitterly contentious issue.

Risibly, ministers cannot even agree on whether they have produced an estimate of the number of likely arrivals.

Eric Pickles says they have — but refuses to publish it for fear of ‘scaring’ the public. The rest of Whitehall says there is no report — and nor will one ever be commissioned.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Conspiracy of Silence on Value of Marriage: Politicians Frightened to Admit Fathers Are Vital, Says Top Family Lawyer

Marriage is as important to the future of the nation as climate change and poverty, a senior family lawyer said yesterday.

Baroness Deech said the growing numbers of families without fathers was doing more harm to the next generation than other factors such as smoking, alcohol, poor diet and lack of exercise.

And she warned that a conspiracy of silence surrounded the issue because political leaders were afraid to say married families were better for children than cohabiting families or single parent families.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Pink News Apologises to Islam Channel

The right-wing press has been running articles, evidently inspired by the Quilliam Foundation, accusing Muslim TV channels of inciting hatred against the LGBT community. (See “Muslim fanatics spouting on British TV: Extremists use fringe stations to call for terror, murder and the torture of gay people” in the Daily Mail and “Preachers of hate who spread their violent word on British TV channels” in the Sunday Telegraph.) These reports in turn prompted a poorly worded piece to appear this week in Pink News which clearly led its readers to believe that Islam Channel had been promoting homophobic hate speech on air…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Tory MP Under Fire for Saying Gay Couples Cannot Raise Children in a Safe Environment

Gay couples are incapable of bringing up children safely, a Cabinet minister claimed yesterday.

Same-sex partnerships could not provide a ‘warm and safe environment’ to raise a family, said Welsh Secretary David Jones.

The Tory MP, who voted against this month’s gay marriage Bill, added: ‘I regard marriage as an institution that has developed over many centuries, essentially for the provision of a warm and safe environment for the upbringing of children, which is clearly something that two same-sex partners can’t do.

‘Which is not to say that I’m in any sense opposed to stable and committed same-sex partnerships.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

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