Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/19/2013

An unemployed college student named Ali Syed went on a shooting rampage in Orange County, California, killing at least two people and wounding several others before shooting himself. The first murder victim was a woman at the shooter’s own residence, who was shot multiple times. Police have not identified a motive for the killing spree.

In other news, a statue commemorating the late Tunisian opposition politician Chokri Belaid was destroyed by vandals just a few hours after it was put up at the site where he was assassinated earlier this month.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, CSP, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Jerry Gordon, JP, Lurker from Tulsa, Nick, Takuan Seiyo, 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
» Obama Pins Blame on Republicans for Looming Cuts, As Fiscal Hawk Warns of ‘Failed Presidency’
» Sequester Hysteria
» Transatlantic Partnership, A Step Towards a Single Currency and World Government
 
USA
» 56th Miss Chinatown USA Pageant Crowns Leah Li
» America Over a Barrel
» Biofuel Rush is Wiping Out Unique American Grasslands
» Expert: Islam Demands Subjugation of Christians
» Frank Gaffney: How Muslim Proselytizing Creeps Into Public Schools
» Google Spent $18m Lobbying D.C. In 2012. Apple Spent $2m
» Gun Background-Check Nightmare in Colorado
» Hitler Survivor Warning America: Wake Up Now!
» Kansas Lawmakers Pass Anti-Islamic Law Measure
» Kicking Heinz Ketchup to the Curb
» O.C. Shooting Suspect Identified as College Student With No Record
» Rallying Against Enormous National Wealth
» The Irony of Green Propaganda
» U.S. Farmers May Stop Planting GMOs After Horrific Crop Yields
 
Europe and the EU
» Euro MPs’ Threat to Block PM’s Landmark Deal Unless Britain Agrees to Increase EU Budget by Billions
» German Minister Dreads Possible Berlusconi Poll Victory
» ILVA to Lay Off 6,500 Workers as Cleanup Operations Start
» Italy: Monti Sends Shivers Down My Spine, Says Berlusconi
» Italy: Glowing Report on Adopting EU Norms
» Italy: Maroni Attacks Claims Finmeccanica Paid Bribes to Lega Nord
» Italy: Ex-Alitalia Chiefs Face Bankruptcy Trial
» Italy: ‘Semi-Coup d’Etat Toppled Me’ Says Berlusconi
» Nestle’ Withdraws Mislabeled Beef Ravioli From Italy, Spain
» Robbers Steal £32million Worth of Diamonds Being Loaded on to Plane in Meticulously Planned Armed Heist at Brussels Airport
» Sir Denis Mahon Collection to be Given to UK Galleries
» Spain: Fewer 2011 Taxpayers Donated to the Catholic Church
» Sweden: Out-of-Hours Police Turn Away Murder Suspect
» UK: Another Hamasnik Rally at East London Mosque
» UK: Bullfinch Trial Day 21: Monday, February 18
» UK: EDL in Plans for Summer Gathering
» UK: Former Professional Boxer, 50, Jailed for Seven Years for Killing Stranger With a Single Punch Outside Pub
» UK: Indian Mother-of-Four ‘Raped and Tortured as She Worked as Domestic Slave for Family Which Paid Her Just £400 a Year’
» UK: I Shouldn’t Have Lied I’m Sorry’: Teenager is Spared Jail After Writing to Police Confessing She Agreed to Sex With Man She Accused of Rape
» UK: Killed in Front of His Twin: Brother Devastated After 19-Year-Old is Shot in the Head in Unprovoked Attack
» UK: Landlord Hits Out at Thugs Who Sparked Mass Brawl
» UK: Manic Activity Makes for Bad Government
» UK: MP Gives London Assembly’s John Biggs Backing to Oust Lutfur Rahman
» UK: Police Force Produces Jargon-Filled ‘Mission Statement’ That Doesn’t Even Mention Crime
» UK: The Real Alternative to These Endless Taxes
 
Balkans
» Muslims Rally for Historic Macedonian Mosque
 
North Africa
» Algeria: Nation, U.S. Tackle Nuclear Material Trafficking
» Egypt: Morsi Issues Presidential Decree to Appoint New Mufti
» EP Commission: More Rights for Arab Spring Women
» Morocco: Local Youth Restless for Political Change
» Tunisia: New Statue Commemorating Belaid Destroyed
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Did Argentina’s Jewish Foreign Minister Betray Justice?
» Gaza Military Court Cuts Sentences in Arrigoni Case
 
Middle East
» Daniel Pipes: Futile Israeli Efforts to Win Ankara Back
» Dubai: Teacher Jailed 15 Years for Raping 4-Year-Old Boy
» Iraq: Peace Group Says ‘No More Wars’
» ‘Jihad’ Not to be Confused With Terrorism, Turkish Minister Says
» Jihad Not Linked to Terrorism, Turkish FM Says
» OIC Gears Up to Get Denigration of Religions Criminalized
» Only 1 in 3 Consider Turkey ‘Democratic’, Poll
» Turkey Launches Crackdown on Outlawed Organizations, 167 Detained
» Turkey: 17,000 New Mosques Built Under Erdogan
» Turks Drink More Champagne Despite Erdogan
» United Arab Emirates: Gulf States Eager for Weapons at Ad Abu Dhabi Exhibition
 
Russia
» Putin, Jordan King to Discuss Nuclear Power Cooperation
 
South Asia
» Assassinations Soar in Afghanistan: UN
» Benedict Rogers: The Maldives Have Gone From Paradise to Hell
» Five Killed as Militants Storm Political Office in Pakistan
» GlaxoSmithKline Creates Monstrous Six-in-One Vaccine Jab Specifically for Children in Developing Countries
» Indian Premier Concerned Over Helicopter Order Claims
» Indonesia to Host Asian Muslim, Christian Leaders Conference
» Muslim Insurgents Launch 50 Attacks in Thailand’s Deep South
» Pakistan: Quetta: Arrests Made Over Massacre of Shiites. Toll Climbs to 89 Dead
 
Far East
» China: World’s Foremost “Cyber Espionage” Hub in Shanghai
» Major Chinese Internet Hacking Base Exposed
 
Australia — Pacific
» Convert to Christianity, Wilders Tells Muslims
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» French Tourists Kidnapped in Cameroon
» Kenya: Media Magnifies Hate Speech — Again
» Nigeria: Breaking News — Explosion Rocks Lagos
» Seven Men to Hang in Sudan for Rape of 14-Year-Old Girl
» Swaziland: Swazi Police Break Up Prayer Meeting
 
Immigration
» Cutler: ‘The Gang of Eight’ And Immigration Reform: ‘Bordering on a National Security Nightmare’
» German Justice Minister: Relax Dual Citizenship Law
» Obama Pushes Illegals Ahead of Legal Immigrants
» UK: Jailed for 35 Years, Gang Who Made £20m Fixing 2,000 Sham Marriages: Murderers, Drug Lords and Money Launderers Given Free Entry to UK by ‘Industrial-Scale’ Racket
» UK: Law Firm Partner Jailed for Marriage Scam
 
General
» Saving 1 Billion People From Themselves
» Traces of Life on Mars May Have Been Bleached Away

Obama Pins Blame on Republicans for Looming Cuts, As Fiscal Hawk Warns of ‘Failed Presidency’

President Obama pinned the blame on Republicans Tuesday for looming spending cuts that may be triggered by what was originally a White House proposal — while a former leader of the president’s deficit commission said it’s Obama who’s on the path to a “failed presidency” if he can’t tackle the debt.

The president spoke Tuesday at the White House, urging Congress to come up with a short-term fix to cancel sweeping cuts to defense and other programs set to hit March 1.

“These cuts are not smart. They are not fair. They will hurt our economy. They will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls,” Obama said. “This is not an abstraction — people will lose their jobs.”

The president ticked off a host of expected repercussions should the $85 billion in cuts for this year take effect. He said Border Patrol, emergency responders, FBI agents, airport controllers and others would all face cutbacks. He said teachers would be laid off by the thousands and America’s military would be degraded.

As he has before, Obama urged Congress to pass a stopgap to allow for more time to pass a bigger package. But, with Congress out this week and many lawmakers resisting another attempt to kick the can on the cuts, Obama tried to cast Republicans as the ones responsible.

Obama suggested their resistance to his calls to pass a “balanced” package — by closing tax loopholes for top earners and big corporations — is the hold-up. He asked whether Republicans are willing to let hundreds of thousands of people lose their jobs “just to protect a few special-interest tax loopholes.”

He blamed the current stalemate on “partisan recklessness and ideological rigidity.”

House Speaker John Boehner, after Obama talked, claimed Obama was merely reinforcing what Republicans have been saying — “his sequester is the wrong way to cut spending.” Boehner and others note the so-called sequester — which set up more than $1 trillion in sweeping spending cuts if Congress failed, as it did, to reach a compromise on deficit reduction — originated in the White House.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

Sequester Hysteria

Economic Armageddon: We are “cutting” our way to adding another $7 trillion of debt to the $16-plus trillion we have already amassed.

The long-term spending reductions are equally un-cataclysmic, especially when compared to the amount of deficit spending in which this administration has engaged. The entire amount of the spending cuts engendered by sequestration total $1.2 trillion — over ten years. Compare that to the deficits this administration has run over the last four years: in FY2009, the federal deficit was $1.4 trillion; in FY2010 it was $1.293 trillion; FY2011 totaled $1.3 trillion; and in FY2012, federal spending exceeded revenues by $1.089 trillion. That comes to more than $5 trillion of debt accumulated in just four years — on the books.

Off the book federal obligations, better known as “unfunded liabilities,” are almost incomprehensible. Americans get testy when they think of a federal government more than $16 trillion in debt. Yet America’s actual debt is $86.8 trillion, or 550% of GDP, when one counts all of the revenue the government needs to fund Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees’ future retirement benefits at the current time. In other words, sequestration is akin to subtracting a single grain of sand from a Sahara Desert of debt.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Transatlantic Partnership, A Step Towards a Single Currency and World Government

Pushed by Obama and a US-EU working group, the new union should set down new rules favouring corporate globalisation. However, its economic advantages are few unless the dollar, the Euro, the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank become one.

Milan (AsiaNews) — Ordinary Europeans and Americans might wonder what popular sovereignty really means. The rest of the world, especially Asian nations, might ask themselves what impact the ongoing economic realignments and restructuration will have on them. What realignments? Those that in a short interval of time should lead to a single world currency and a single world government. This at least appears to be what US President Barack Obama and unelected European Union officials had in mind when they agreed to a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. President Obama referred to it in his State of the Union address on 12 February. The United States-European Union High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth (HLWG) spoke about it the day before.

As its name indicates, the high-level but little known working group has friends in high places if its suggestions are taken up by America’s chief executive officer. The same cannot be said about the citizens of the oldest parliamentary democracies in the world who appear oblivious to a political plan whose aims and boundaries are still unclear. Officially, the joint report does indicate the reasons behind the working group[1], economics. Together, the United States and the European Union generate about 50 per cent of the world GDP and represent 30 per cent of world trade.

Why is such a transatlantic partnership needed? The report suggests the following reasons:

1) more open markets on both sides,

2) the elimination of “behind the border” non-tariff barriers,

3) enhanced compatibility of regulations and standards,

4) enhanced cooperation for the development of common rules and principles for private and public sector enterprises to counter economic localism and expand business globalisation to include also small and medium-sized companies.

Such an ambitious project would however drastically curtail the authority of elected parliaments. Establishing ‘common rules and principles’ in fact would mean creating another layer of power. Many supranational rules already exist, issued by unelected bodies like the European Commission, the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, to name just a few; under the new system, there would be more committees to coordinate and control this new transatlantic alliance. Parliaments in representative democracies would be virtually stripped of all their prerogatives in the economic sphere.

In exchange of such major limitations on democracy and the rights of elected parliaments, proponents of such an partnership claim that there would be major economic benefits. However, a paper by the European Commission[2] suggest that any net benefit that might be generated (and that is still uncertain and unproven) would correspond to 0.5 per cent of the EU’s GDP, slightly less for the United States. In view of this paltry figure, other initiatives could provide better opportunities for economic growth. It is therefore hard to believe that greater economic development is the goal of a new transatlantic alliance.

It is easier to believe that a transatlantic common market is the launching pad for a Euro-American currency that would replace the dollar and the Euro. A Euro-American economic block can only exist if it has fixed exchange rates or it would fall apart. And a fixed dollar-Euro exchange rate is just a short step from a single currency and a single Euro-American central bank.

Of course, this sounds like science fiction or economic fantasy, but the collapse of the existing system is already underway. In fact, we might even foresee a time when this could happen, this spring for example, after market shares take another major plunge[3].

The same is true for central banks. The Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are overflowing with so many toxic assets (that cannot be unloaded at any price) that they cannot survive as independent bodies.

Thus, we can surmise that what lies behind this transatlantic alliance is a plan to merge currencies and central banks. The closer we look, the more we see the two-ECB and the Fed-acting as publicly traded companies. Since the two are private entities, that is what they appear to be doing. The two also operate in the same field and exercise sovereign power to issue money with legal tender under a regime of monopoly.

Since 2007[4], AsiaNews has examined on several occasions plans to introduce a new currency as the prelude to a single world currency. All indications are that this will be done very soon.

For us, the countries that will hang onto their national independence and sovereignty will be the lucky ones, for the disasters of monetary and economic centralisation in Europe are there for all to see.

[1] See the Final Report of the High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth and the Fact Sheet of the Office of United States Trade Representative.

[2] See the joint Memorandum by the United States and the European Union, “European Union and United States to launch negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” Brussels, 13 February 2013.

[3] See Maurizio d’Orlando, “As the world’s monetary system inches its way towards collapse, winds of war sweep Asia,” in AsiaNews, 5 February 2013. See other articles by the same author in AsiaNews .

[4] See ibid, “Subprime lending to trigger world’s worst financial crisis since 1929,” in AsiaNews, 19 September 2007. The reference here is to news about the Amero, North America’s new currency.

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

56th Miss Chinatown USA Pageant Crowns Leah Li

BEIJING, Feb. 18 (Xinhuanet) — Leah Li, junior from New York University, won the 56th Miss Chinatown USA Pageant in San Francisco Saturday, under the theme of “Homage to Women.” Twelve beauties attended the pageant including contestants from Hawaii, the states of Washington, Texas, and Massachusetts, and Chicago…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

America Over a Barrel

America finds itself “over a barrel” (perhaps literally), and at the precipice of financial Armageddon due to the coming collapse of the U.S. dollar. It is most important for people to understand that our financial destruction has been orchestrated for a generation or more, and has been intentionally accelerated over the last two decades to complete a specific agenda.

In order to survive what is coming, it is imperative to understand that agenda, who and what is behind it, and the motive. The bigger picture will connect some very important dots…

To gain insight and answer these questions, it is logical to follow the investigative adage, “follow the money,” and to understand that “he who owns the gold makes the rules.” To gain further understanding of our precarious position, it is also important to have a basic understanding of the U.S. dollar…

Since the dollar was taken off the gold standard on August 15, 1971 by then-President Richard Nixon, many believe that it is not backed by anything of value and is nothing more than a promise on a piece of paper. Technically, that would appear to be true. But in reality, the current stability of the U.S. dollar is backed by oil, or the promise of the free and unrestricted access to the flow of oil.

There is a lot of history about our economic system that should be known and understood, including the creation of the privately owned cartel of central banks that was made legal under the Federal Reserve Act and is now chaired by Ben Bernanke. That history, however, would be better served by a more extensive column at another time. Currently at issue is how things are about to play out for the average Americans who are straddled by a growing and oppressive debt, to the point that we have shamelessly permitted our own children, and the future generations of America, to be sold into financial slavery.

As Americans, we are over a barrel. If you look closely at the fine print on that barrel, you will see that the barrel is fully owned by the Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are the puppets of the Saudis, lock, stock and barrel. But there is more…

How about Obama’s education, including (but not limited to) his acceptance into Harvard? Who footed the bill? A bit of investigative research points to funding that originated from a very wealthy Saudi prince. But at what cost, or with what strings?

There are many more examples of his Saudi ties, and his capitulation to their agenda of a pan-Islamic state via the Muslim Brotherhood. These are available to anyone who is willing to perform the research.

The most significant bit of evidence of all, however, relates to Obama’s actions as the President of the United States, especially in one specific event: Benghazi.

Although one has to look no further than his war against developing a domestic oil drilling and refining program, the most blatant evidence of Saudi control can be found in his actions related to the September 11, 2012 murderous attacks in Benghazi. It is here that the curtain shielding the truth is pulled back, and some very important pieces of evidence become exposed. The events that took place in Benghazi reveal that the United States is providing the military muscle, the sweat and blood of our men and women in and out of uniform, to accomplish the objectives of the Saudis. It was a military extension of the much celebrated Arab Spring, which (contrary to media accounts) is a Saudi plan of expansion.

[Comment: Well worth reading.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Biofuel Rush is Wiping Out Unique American Grasslands

Say goodbye to the grass. The scramble for biofuels is rapidly killing off unique grasslands and pastures in the central US.

Christopher Wright and Michael Wimberly of South Dakota State University in Brookings analysed satellite images of five states in the western corn belt. They found that 530,000 hectares of grassland disappeared under blankets of maize and soya beans between 2006 and 2011. The rate was fastest in South Dakota and Iowa, with as much as 5 per cent of pasture becoming cropland each year.

The trend is being driven by rising demand for the crops, partly through incentives to use them as fuels instead of food.

The switch from meadows to crops is causing a crash in populations of ground-nesting birds. One of the US’s most important breeding grounds for wildfowl, an area called the Prairie Pothole Region, is also at risk, with South Dakota’s crop fields now within 100 metres of the wetlands. “Half of North American ducks breed here,” says Wright.

Bill Henwood of the Temperate Grasslands Conservation Initiative in Vancouver, Canada, says the results are distressing. “Exchanging real environmental impacts for the dubious benefits of biofuels is counterproductive,” he says. “Last year’s record drought in the corn belt all but wiped out the crops anyway.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Expert: Islam Demands Subjugation of Christians

‘Jihad isn’t an interior spiritual struggle, but a serious obligation to subdue non-Muslims’

Editor’s Note: Three American scholars, two Christians and one Muslim, spoke to WND about the threat of political Islam. They say there will be further trouble unless Americans understand the threat and learn how to resist it. This interview with Catholic psychologist William Kilpatrick is the second part of the series. In part one, Robert R. Reilly of the American Foreign Policy Council said America is hurting itself by working with U.S.-hating Muslims.

WASHINGTON — Catholic psychologist Dr. William Kilpatrick is warning that Christian Americans are naïve about Islam and working towards their own extinction.

“We often hear that the true Islam is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a minority of violent extremists,” Kilpatrick told WND. “If that’s true, why not open the books on Islam? Islam deserves the kind of inspection and scrutiny that Christianity has received for decades.”

Kilpatrick, author of “Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for The Soul of The West,” said alarms should be sounding.

“Muhammad said that he came as a ‘warner,’“ wrote Kilpatrick in his book, published in November. “Among the banners that can be seen in various Muslim demonstrations in Europe is one that reads, ‘Islam — our religion today, your religion tomorrow.’ For anyone who follows the pronouncements of Islamic religious authorities around the world, there can be little doubt that this is their goal.”

Kilpatrick chronicles Islam’s war on Christian civilization as a war on universal human rights. He cites three factors working against all people of goodwill: cowardice or malice by secular governments, naïve Christian leaders and irreligious or atheist news media preaching indifference…

Kilpatrick likewise criticized Obama’s policy toward the Islamic world.

“In our failure to understand Islam, we’ve helped to bring to power some of the most extreme Islamists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: How Muslim Proselytizing Creeps Into Public Schools

The Loudoun County School Board is reaching the denouement of a multiyear deliberation about an application for a charter school that has strong ties to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamist. His followers have already started some 135 American charter schools. Their focus is to promote an increasingly Shariah-dominated Turkey.

Incredibly, the school board’s members are studiously avoiding any acknowledgment or discussion of the role of Fethullah Gulen and his movement in the charter school. They have wrestled for many months with a host of problems with the application — such as serious deficiencies with the proposed curriculum, the financing, the management, the teachers and Maryland’s Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School, the school in Anne Arundel County specifically cited as the “model” for the Loudoun Math and Information Technology Academy.

           — Hat tip: CSP [Return to headlines]

Google Spent $18m Lobbying D.C. In 2012. Apple Spent $2m

FORTUNE — The last time we looked at Silicon Valley’s lobbying efforts, Google (GOOG) was the big spender and Apple (AAPL) the piker. (See For every $1 Google spends lobbying, Apple spends 10¢.)

That hasn’t changed much in the past nine months. In fact, Google increased its political spending in 2012 — a Presidential election year — by nearly 90%, while Apple reduced its by 13%.

(The biggest percentage increase, by the way, was Facebook’s (FB). It upped its D.C. spending nearly 200%, from $1.35 million to just under $4 million.)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gun Background-Check Nightmare in Colorado

Biden lobbying for votes: ‘It would send a strong message’

DENVER — With some arm-twisting by Vice President Joe Biden, the Obama administration has pressured Democratic lawmakers in gun-friendly Colorado to “fall on their swords” and pass restrictions on firearms it hopes will be a model for the nation, a state lawmaker contends.

While much attention has been focused on President Obama’s calls for federal legislation establishing universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons, the administration is working hard at the state level.

New York was the first to pass strict controls on guns after the Sandy Hook shooting, with its ban on assault weapons and magazines, but the move was not a surprise in the liberal Northeast.

In Colorado, where gun control is far less popular among a large rural population, a flurry of gun control bills include one that would hold gun makers and owners responsible for any crimes committed by their weapons, even if they were stolen.

“The first thing the Democrats did was introduce a bill that would have declared an unloaded gun to be a deadly weapon,” said Lori Saine, R-Dacono. “This would enable police to confiscate any firearm on the basis it is a deadly weapon, even if it is unloaded.”

The other bills introduced are:

  • HB 1224, which would bans all magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.
  • HB 1226 would prohibit those with concealed carry permits, including off duty police officers and former military personnel, from bringing their weapons on college campuses.
  • HB 1228 would force residents to pay for exercising a constitutional right by making them pay for a background check to prove they are not criminals. There is no limit on the amount the Colorado Bureau of Investigation could charge for the background check.
  • HB 1229 bans the private sale and transfer of firearms and institutes universal background checks and/gun registration for all Colorado gun owners.

All the bills are moving forward through the legislative process.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Hitler Survivor Warning America: Wake Up Now!

This is something you have never heard nor ever read in History books …

When I first read the story of Kitty Werthmann below I was both shocked and bewildered. To think that there are those among us who have lived through this horror, and are now see history repeating itself and yet; the masses are still refusing to see, unable to hear… and are not not waking up.

The attached account is from an eye-witness who survived Hitler and his strategical tactics, she watched as guns were being freely surrendered under the premise of “PEACE” AND “PROSPERITY” and “PROTECTION”.

I know that it is our duty to not only seek the truth, but to speak the truth- everyday.

Here is the story of Kitty Werthtmann in her own words; and worthy of sharing.

[Comment: *** Highly recommended reading. ***]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Kansas Lawmakers Pass Anti-Islamic Law Measure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill designed to prevent Kansas courts or government agencies from making decisions based on Islamic or other foreign legal codes has cleared the state Legislature after a contentious debate about whether the measure upholds American values or appeals to prejudice against Muslims.

The Senate approved the bill Friday on a 33-3 vote. The House had approved it, 120-0, earlier in the week. The measure goes next to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who hasn’t said whether he’ll sign or veto the measure.

The measure doesn’t specifically mention Shariah law, which broadly refers to codes within the Islamic legal system. Instead, it says that courts, administrative agencies or state tribunals can’t base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions.

But several supporters specifically cited the potential use of Shariah law in Kansas as their concern. Though there are no known cases in which a Kansas judge has based a ruling on Islamic law, supporters of the bill cited a pending case in Sedgwick County in which a man seeking to divorce his wife has asked for property to be divided under a marriage contract in line with Shariah law.

The bill’s supporters said it simply ensures that legal decisions will protect long-cherished liberties, such as freedom of speech and religion and the right to equal treatment under the law. Sen. Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, said a vote for the legislation is a vote to protect women.

“In this great country of ours and in the state of Kansas, women have equal rights,” Wagle said during the Senate’s debate. “They stone women to death in countries that have Shariah law.”

The bill passed both chambers by wide margins because even some legislators who were skeptical of it believed it was broad and bland enough that it didn’t represent a specific political attack on Muslims…

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa [Return to headlines]

Kicking Heinz Ketchup to the Curb

Exclusive: Roger Simmermaker on abandoning Brazilian billionaires

Last Friday was a sad day for a ketchup-lover like me — hearing the report that American-owned Heinz was going to be jointly bought out by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian-backed private-equity firm 3G Capital.

To be fair, Warren Buffett will own 50 percent of the company, so Heinz could still technically be an American-owned company with promises to keep the headquarters in Pittsburgh, but the control and operations of Heinz will now be in the hands of Brazilian billionaires who are out to make a buck on what used to be an iconic all-American brand…

The ownership of 3G Capital is composed of Brazilian billionaires Jorge Paulo Lemann, Marcel Herrmann Telles, and Carlos Alberto Sicupira. All three billionaires have a controlling stake of Anhesuer Busch Inbev too, which is the Belgium-Brazilian parent of formerly American-owned Anheuser-Busch.

3G Capital bought Burger King in 2010, and now they’re teaming up with Warren Buffet to buy Heinz. But Heinz is more than just about Ketchup, of course. It’s a huge company that owns such brands as Ore-Ida, Bagel Bites, and Lea & Perrins. Then there’s Heinz 57 sauce, Heinz mustard, Heinz pickles, Heinz pickle relish, and Heinz mayonnaise.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

O.C. Shooting Suspect Identified as College Student With No Record

Orange County sheriff’s officials on Tuesday identified the suspect in series of fatal shootings and carjackings as Ali Syed, a 20-year-old community college student with no criminal record.

Authorities don’t have a motive for the shootings, which began with the slaying of a woman at Syed’s south Orange County home, spread north in a series of random and deadly carjackings, and ended with his suicide in the city of Orange.

Syed was described as an unemployed man who was taking a class at Saddleback College. He had no criminal record and was living with his parents on Red Leaf Lane in Ladera Ranch, sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino said.

Deputies were called to their home about 4:45 a.m. after his parents reported a shooting, Amormino said. Responding deputies found a woman dead inside who had been shot multiple times.

The relationship between the woman and Syed was not yet known, Amormino said, although she was not related to the suspect. The woman has not yet been identified.

Family members, including children, were at the home at the time of the shooting, Amormino said, but no other injuries were reported.

Syed fled the area and headed toward Tustin, where Amormino said “multiple incidents” occurred.

The first, authorities said, occurred near Red Hill Avenue and the 5 Freeway, where authorities received a report of a man with a gun about 5:10 a.m. The suspect attempted a carjacking, Tustin police Lt. Paul Garaven said, opened fire and wounded a bystander.

About five minutes later, the suspect stopped the BMW near the 55 Freeway in Santa Ana, officials said.

Around that time, authorities also received reports about a man shooting at moving vehicles on the 55 Freeway. Officials believe the man fired either while driving or after he stopped and got out of his vehicle. At least three victims have reported minor injuries or damage to their cars, and investigators asked that others who believe they may have been fired upon to contact police.

Shortly after, another shooting and carjacking was reported on Edinger Avenue near the Micro Center computer store in Tustin, Garaven said. One person was killed and another was taken to a hospital.

Co-workers identified the men as plumbers who were working at the under-construction Fairfield Inn on Edinger Avenue.

Officers spotted the suspect in a stolen vehicle, followed him into the city of Orange and initiated a traffic stop near the intersection of East Katella Avenue and North Wanda Road, Garaven said.

The suspect then shot and killed himself, authorities said. A shotgun was recovered, but officials said other weapons might have been involved earlier.

In Orange, financial planner Kenneth Caplin said he had a clear view of the gruesome drama that unfolded Tuesday on the street outside his office.

Although the street had been blocked, Caplin parked farther away and persuaded an officer to let him walk to his office. He arrived shortly before 7 a.m., about an hour after the shooting.

From a conference room window, Caplin saw the police investigators at work, a white work truck up on a curb, and the suspect lying dead on the ground, with blood streaked across the pavement.

“It’s scary…. This just happened right here,” Caplin said hours later, as a team in biohazard suits scrubbed away at the street in an afternoon drizzle. “It’s ludicrous.”

Caplin, 71, said he is a pistol instructor for the NRA. What happened Tuesday only affirmed for him the need to stay armed.

“He had no chance,” he said of one of shooting victims. “The bad guys are armed; the good guys aren’t. If I was in that position — with a CCW [concealed weapon] — that wouldn’t have happened.”

He added: “Innocent people — like what happened today — don’t have a chance.”…

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo [Return to headlines]

Rallying Against Enormous National Wealth

Did anyone notice that the estimated 35,000 who showed up for the anti-Keystone XL pipeline rally outside the White House on Sunday, Feb 17, were all bundled up against the cold? The temperature was about 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The Earth has been cooling — naturally — for sixteen years.

The pipeline which will not cost taxpayers a dime would be part of the existing 1,200 pipelines that traverse the same route. It would enable oil extracted from Canadian tar sands to be refined in America. Failing that, the same oil will be exported to China…

What is truly astonishing despite all the lies we’re being told about energy, in 2011 the U.S. produced 23.0 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, making it the world’s largest natural gas producer. Naturally, the federal government is dragging its feet on permissions to build gas export facilities.

In 2011 the United States produced 5.67 million barrels of oil per day, making it the world’s largest oil producer. It could be the world’s leading producer if the government would permit access to just those parts of the more than 41 million acres of land it owns in our name under which can be found a treasure of oil, as well as natural gas, and coal.

The federal government currently owns or manages 755 million acres of onshore subsurface mineral assets. Offshore it owns or manages 1.76 billion acres of lands and mineral assets. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that state and national coffers could generate nearly $150 billion over a ten-year period if these resources were immediately opened.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Irony of Green Propaganda

The supporters of global warming met in Washington, D.C. on February 17, 2013 to pressure President Obama to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. The irony was evident to the rest of us. The green environmentalists were bundled up to their eyeballs since it was the coldest day this winter, 16 degrees Fahrenheit if you factored in the wind chill.

Protesters claim that oil sands, fracking, fossil fuels, and especially “dirty” coal are the enemy of ordinary Americans while the same Americans are fed up with paying unnecessary high prices for gasoline and electricity when our country has such vast resources of oil and natural gas that are not being tapped.

I wonder if Europeans knew in 1300-1850 that their Little Ice Age was caused by human activity since global warming alarmists were not around to inform them and force them to change their planet-altering life-style…

Then there is the filthy little secret of solar-generated energy. It may be cleaner than coal-generated energy, however, in the production process, solar panel manufacturers create millions of pounds of contaminated water and toxic sludge which must be transported and disposed of hundreds of miles away.

The hazardous waste disposal costs (transportation via rail or trucks which burn fossil fuels) is not included or calculated in the solar panels carbon footprint. The polluted sludge is shipped because new solar panel manufacturers have not built facilities to recycle part of the sludge and to dispose of the carcinogenic cadmium properly.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.S. Farmers May Stop Planting GMOs After Horrific Crop Yields

(NaturalNews) Some farmers across the United States may stop planting genetically modified crops after poor yields are increasing costs beyond what they can absorb.

According to Farmers Weekly, those farmers are considering returning to conventional seed after increased pest resistance and crop failures have meant smaller GM crop yields over non-GM counterparts.

Farmers in the U.S. pay about $100 more per acre for GM seed. Many have begun questioning “whether they will continue to see benefits from using GMs,” the farmer’s publication reported.

“It’s all about cost benefit analysis,” economist Dan Basse, president of AgResource, an American agricultural research firm, said.

“Farmers are paying extra for the technology but have seen yields which are no better than 10 years ago,” he told the Weekly. “They’re starting to wonder why they’re spending extra money on the technology.”…

Countries around the world that do not use GM seed are outperforming U.S. farmers. The largest crop yields last year were in Asia, and China in particular, where farmers don’t plant GM seed.

[…]

Monsanto’s combination of GM seed and Roundup herbicide was supposed to help crops thrive, not weeds and bugs. But 15 years later, when most corn, soybeans and cotton cultivated in the U.S. comes from Roundup Ready seed, an increasing number of these crops are falling prey to “superweeds” that have become resistant to the GM seeds and herbicide that was supposed to kill them forever.

From HuffPo:

Repeated application of the herbicide has literally weeded out the weak weeds and given the rare resistant weeds the opportunity to take over. The situation, according to a report published…in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe, has driven growers to use larger quantities of Roundup, more often and in conjunction with a broader arsenal of other weed-killing chemicals.

“It’s been a slowly unfolding train wreck,” Charles Benbrook, author of the study and professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, said.

Before biotech came on the market, we had one airplane in the county to do all the aerial spraying,” McAllister told the online newspaper. “Now they bring in seven or eight. We’ve got the same acreage of crops. They’re just spraying more.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Euro MPs’ Threat to Block PM’s Landmark Deal Unless Britain Agrees to Increase EU Budget by Billions

The European Parliament last night threatened to veto a landmark deal on the next EU budget unless Britain and other member states agree to increase it by billions.

During a stormy session, leading members of the Brussels Parliament lined up to criticise the deal struck by David Cameron earlier this month.

But MEPs claimed the cuts went too far and would threaten economic growth.

Tory MP Mark Pritchard last night said it would be an ‘outrage’ if MEPs blocked a deal agreed by all EU leaders…

Yesterday the Parliament’s German Socialist president Martin Schulz suggested he was willing to take the nuclear option of blocking the deal agreed by 27 heads of government.

He has already indicated that the vote, expected in the next few weeks, could be a secret ballot — allowing MEPs to defy instructions from their national governments with impunity.

Writing in the Financial Times, Mr Schulz criticised the ‘backward-looking’ deal, which will limit EU spending to £768 billion — some £68 billion less than the European Commission demanded.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

German Minister Dreads Possible Berlusconi Poll Victory

(AGI) Berlin — A poll victory for former premier Silvio Berlusconi would cause a predicament, said the German Foreign Minister.

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

ILVA to Lay Off 6,500 Workers as Cleanup Operations Start

Unions told that employees will be out for two years

(ANSA) — Taranto, February 19 — Managers at the troubled ILVA steel mill in Taranto on Tuesday told unions they plan to temporarily lay off some 6,500 workers while a cleanup operation at the facilities gets underway, union sources told ANSA.

The layoffs will take effect March 3 and will last 24 months, ILVA said, according to the sources.

Of the 6,500 layoffs, all but 83 will be at the plant in the southern port city of Taranto, the site of Italy’s biggest steel plant.

Already 2,600 workers have been laid off at the Taranto plant; they were scheduled to return to work on March 2.

The facility has been at the center of a legal dispute between local prosecutors, who have called for its closing, and the national government, which has battled to keep it open to save jobs and expertise.

The ILVA debacle dates back to last summer.

A Taranto judge shut down the plant’s smelters in July to protect the health of workers and nearby residents from toxic emissions found to have caused illnesses and deaths over a period of years.

In October, the court also seized control of products sitting in the docks, waiting to be commercialized, and issued a new wave of arrests in a corruption probe linked to the ongoing pollution probe.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Sends Shivers Down My Spine, Says Berlusconi

(AGI) Rome, Feb 19 — Silvio Berlusconi told a national radio station the very mention of Prime Minister Mario Monti’s name sent shivers down his spine. He added: “Mario Monti is a real plague”.

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

Italy: Glowing Report on Adopting EU Norms

Italian institutions get top marks, from May 2012 especially

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, FEBRUARY 19 — Italy earned high praise from the EU Commission biannual report measuring member countries’ transposition of EU norms into their legislation.

Italy in the last semester of 2012 reduced its deficit in this sector from 2.4% to 0.8%, the first time the country ever brought its rate of transposition to below 1%. This “impressive” result was achieved “thanks to the determination of the institutions and their numerous efforts to ensure timely transpositions, especially from May 2012 onwards, with a substantial reduction beginning in November 2011”, the report said. This was due to a streamlining of the Italian legislative process with regards to EU law beginning in November 2011, the report said.

Italy remains the country with the most infractions (60), followed by Spain and Greece. Its long-term outlook is positive however, as the country reduced its infractions by 47% since it first entered into the EU monitoring system. Overall, the EU norm transposition deficit fell to an all-time low of 0.6%, against 6.3% in 1997, the year the EU issued its first report on this issue.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Maroni Attacks Claims Finmeccanica Paid Bribes to Lega Nord

Northern league leader calls accusations political ‘terrorism’

(ANSA) — Rome, February 19 — Roberto Maroni, the center-right candidate for governor of Lombardy in upcoming elections, on Tuesday said a police report that pointed to presumed bribes paid by defense contractor Finmeccanica to Maroni’s Northern League (Lega Nord) party was bogus.

Speaking at a forum hosted by ANSA in Rome Tuesday, Maroni — whose party is allied with Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party (PdL) in national elections to be held Sunday and Monday — said that a report by the Carabinieri police contained “insinuations and falsehoods”.

Maroni pointed out that the arrest warrant issued last week for former Finmeccanica chief executive Giuseppe Orsi, accused of paying bribes in a contract to sell helicopters to India, does not contain any reference to bribes paid to the party.

Orsi’s appointment to lead the Italian defense group — which sells military hardware and defense electronics, among other businesses — was heavily endorsed by the Northern League.

The fact that prosecutors have thus far excluded in their reports any mention of bribes paid to the League “means (they) have excluded that these things have any basis,” Maroni said.

Maroni had earlier tied the accusations to the political campaign underway.

“The constant of this electoral campaign is the mud-slinging machine which has hit, hits and continues to hit.

There are still insinuations of bribes or (illegal) financing of the League tied to the Orsi-Finmeccanica issue”.

“It’s an act of terrorism,” Maroni said, referring to the accusations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ex-Alitalia Chiefs Face Bankruptcy Trial

Cimoli must also answer to alleged stock manipulation

(ANSA) — Rome, February 19 — Two former CEOs of Italian flag carrier Alitalia were indicted along with five other people on Tuesday in relation to alleged wrongdoing concerning the airline’s bankruptcy in 2008. Francesco Mengozzi and Giancarlo Cimoli, respectively at the helm of Alitalia from 2001 to 2004 and from 2004 to 2007, face charges of bankruptcy due to distraction or dissipation of resources. The other suspects are Gabriele Spazzadeschi, former director of the administration and finance department, Pierluigi Ceschia, ex-head of the extraordinary finance division, former managers Giancarlo Zeni and Leopoldo Conforti and Gennaro Tocci, ex-head of sales. Prosecutors claim the flag carrier dissipated as a result of “abnormal economic and managerial operations” allegedly leading to the loss of over four billion euros as of 2007. Cimoli must also answer to two episodes of suspected stock manipulation in relation to the release of allegedly false information to alter Alitalia’s market value. The first hearing is set for June 18. Alitalia’s flight operations were spun off into a new firm that continued after the bankruptcy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Semi-Coup d’Etat Toppled Me’ Says Berlusconi

Merkel ‘told German banks to sell Italian bonds’, ex-PM says

(ANSA) — Rome, February 19 — Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday reiterated his contention that he was forced out of office at the height of the euro crisis in November 2011 by a conspiracy involving Germany.

“In 2011 there was a semi-coup d’etat,” the media magnate said.

Berlusconi cited two contributing factors: the weakening of his coalition because of the defection of one-time heir-apparent Gianfranco Fini; and the German government’s “order” to its country’s banks to sell Italian bonds, pushing up the yield spread to bailout levels. In the past Berlusconi has claimed German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy had a hand in an alleged plot to replace him with market-friendly ex-European commissioner Mario Monti.

On Monday he called Merkel, who comes from the former Communist East Germany, “an East German bureaucrat” whose economic views were skewed by an alleged preference for a centralised economy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Nestle’ Withdraws Mislabeled Beef Ravioli From Italy, Spain

Small amounts of horse meat found, ‘safety is not at risk’

(ANSA) — Rome, February 19 — Swiss food giant Nestle’ on Tuesday became the latest company embroiled in a Europe-wide food scandal when it announced it would withdraw Buitoni-branded beef ravioli from Spanish and Italian supermarkets after it discovered small traces of horse DNA in the products.

Nestle’ reported the amount of horse DNA found in the products was 1% of the total and said “there are no problems of food safety”.

The company, based in Vevey, Switzerland, said it would replace the products with others which tests “confirm are 100% beef”.

The firm said it had blocked all deliveries from a German company, called H. J. Schypke, “which works with one of our suppliers”.

Nestle’ — which produces baby food, snacks, prepared meals and pet food under brands including Gerber, Kitkat and Purina — on Tuesday said it was “strengthening quality controls with new tests”.

“Guaranteeing the quality and the safety of our products has always been a priority for Nestle’. We apologize to consumers,” the company said in a statement.

The widening scandal — which has spread to Norway, Russia, Italy and Spain — began earlier this month when British food company Findus (no relation to Italy’s Findus) began to recall prepared products, including lasagna, after discovering it was made with horse meat rather than beef as promised on the package.

That has led to further recalls by various companies across Europe and raised concerns about how carefully the ingredients in prepared foods are actually tracked.

European authorities have been quick to say that the discovery that horse meat was substituted for beef in prepared foods is not a health-security issue but a matter of mislabelling.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Robbers Steal £32million Worth of Diamonds Being Loaded on to Plane in Meticulously Planned Armed Heist at Brussels Airport

Eight masked gunmen made a hole in a security fence at Brussels’ international airport, drove onto the tarmac and snatched some $50million (£32m) worth of diamonds from the hold of a Swiss-bound plane without firing a shot.

The gang used fake police cars in their daring raid late yesterday, grabbed the cache of stones and sped off into the darkness.

‘They tried to pass themselves off as police officers,’ said Anja Bijnens, spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office.

They reportedly wore outfits which resembled dark police clothing and both cars had blue lights on top, she said.

Police found one burnt-out vehicle close to the airport later that night and said they were still looking for clues.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sir Denis Mahon Collection to be Given to UK Galleries

The private collection of Sir Denis Mahon, described as the finest group of Baroque works in the world, has been permanently placed in British galleries at his bequest.

The collection, of 57 Italian Baroque masterpieces, will now be housed in six museums and galleries across Britain in accordance with his wishes. Sir Denis Mahon, who died in 2011, is known as one of the foremost art historians in Britain, with a private Baroque collection of unparalleled importance. It is said the collection, gathered from decades of research across Europe, cost him no more than £50,000 for the original works, with its current value estimated at around £50 million. Nearly 60 of the most important works, from artists including Guercino, Guido Reni, Domenichino, Ludovico Carracci, Luca Giordano, Pietro de Cortona, Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini and Giuseppe Maria Crespi, have now been left to the nation at his request…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Spain: Fewer 2011 Taxpayers Donated to the Catholic Church

Fewer citizens opted to donate 0.7% of their income tax

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 18 — Spanish taxpayers gave the Spanish Catholic Church 247.1 million euros in 2011, or 1.2 million euros less than the previous year, according to Spanish Episcopal Conference (SEC) data released on Monday.

In Spain, citizens have the option of donating 0.7% of their personal income tax to the Catholic Church. While the overall number of taxpayers has increased, those donating to the church decreased by 97,786, to a total of 7,357,037 people. This is “moderately positive” data, given that 2010 saw the highest rise in donors in the last decade, according to the SEC. A 2007 reform increased the amount taxpayers can donate to the church to 0.7%, eliminating a so-called “budget complement” that used to be paid out by the state.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Out-of-Hours Police Turn Away Murder Suspect

A 45-year-old man wanted in connection with the 2011 killing of a gang leader in Malmö tried to turn himself in on Monday, only to be told that the local police station was closed.

He has been on the run since a warrant was issued for his arrest just days after the November 2011 killing of the 31-year-old leader of the Brödraskapet Wolfpack gang (‘The Wolfpack Brotherhood’).

The suspected mobster was shot to death at a taxi depot in a Malmö industrial area and the 45-year-old, who had previously owned the taxi business, immediately came under suspicion.

But when the suspect finally showed up at a Malmö police station on Monday night to turn himself in after nearly 15 months at large, he was amazed by the response he received, the Sydsvenskan newspaper reported.

Upon ringing the bell on the door shortly after 6pm, he was informed that the police station was closed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Another Hamasnik Rally at East London Mosque

by Lucy Lips

This Friday yet another extremist rally will be held at the East London Mosque. This time it’s organised by the Young Muslim Organisation (YMO), a youth arm of the Islamic Forum of Europe. The YMO has a history of promoting horrific extremists and terrorists…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Bullfinch Trial Day 21: Monday, February 18

2:35pm The jury has gone home and court is over for the day…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: EDL in Plans for Summer Gathering

The English Defence League has said it is planning a festival this summer, Luton on Sunday can reveal. Kevin Carroll, the joint-leader of the group, said that the EDL will ‘be coming back to Luton’ this year’ and holding a festival in St George’s Square. Last year the EDL cancelled a rally after an intervention from Lenos Wilson of the Non Violence Alliance. But Mr Carroll, who came fourth in last year’s PCC election, said they were considering a festival as opposed to doing another demonstration. He said: “We’ll be coming back to Luton this year that’s for sure…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Former Professional Boxer, 50, Jailed for Seven Years for Killing Stranger With a Single Punch Outside Pub

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

A former professional boxer has been jailed for seven years today for killing a stranger with a single punch outside a pub.

Graham Brett, 50, knocked Australian-born Neil Hannah, 49, unconscious with one punch to the jaw.

He toppled backwards and suffered a brain injury and died five days later on August 7.

Brett, from Pimlico, central London, pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the Old Bailey.

Brett fought as a light heavyweight in the early 1980s and recorded two wins and two losses in his professional career and also fought 70 amateur bouts.

Brett, who has a history of drunken violence, had downed seven pints on the night of the attack and taken cocaine.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Indian Mother-of-Four ‘Raped and Tortured as She Worked as Domestic Slave for Family Which Paid Her Just £400 a Year’

[WARNING: *** EXTREMELY DISTURBING CONTETN ***]

An Indian domestic worker was repeatedly raped and beaten by her employers who threatened to murder her if she complained, a court heard.

The 39-year-old vulnerable and illiterate mother-of-four was used as a ‘sexual toy’ and ‘general dogsbody’ by an extended family and their friend who forced her to become their slave for a total of six years.

She was scalded with boiling water, burned with a hot iron, beaten and threatened her throat would be cut and her body buried in a back garden if she didn’t do as she was told, a jury were told today.

Despite the woman approaching numerous agencies for help, Croydon Crown Court heard how the abuse continued.

The court heard how the woman initially went to live with Aleemuddin Mohammed, 44, a supermarket manager, and his wife Shamina Yousuf, 42, after they successfully applied for the woman’s visa.

Both are accused of assaulting the woman and paying her just £24 during the two years and eight months she worked for them.

The woman was then allegedly forced to moved in with Mohammed’s mother, 56-year-old shop worker Shanaz Begum, and her partner, butcher Enkarta Balapovi, 53, who is accused of raping her.

After escaping the couple, she was then sent to live with an acquaintance of the family, optician Shashi Obhrai, 53, from Northwood, who is accused of assaulting her.

Prosecutor Miss Caroline Haughey said: ‘Each of these defendants treated her with contempt, ignoring her basic rights and taking advantage of her naivety, her vulnerability and her ignorance.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: I Shouldn’t Have Lied I’m Sorry’: Teenager is Spared Jail After Writing to Police Confessing She Agreed to Sex With Man She Accused of Rape

A teenager who put a man through two months of torment by falsely accusing him of rape has been spared jail.

Sophie Hooper, 19, told police she had been forced to have sex against her will with a man she had only just met in the pub.

But two months later her conscience got the better of her and she wrote a letter to the police confessing she had lied about the allegations.

Hooper had claimed she went with the unnamed man to his home where he held her down by the neck on his bed and raped her.

After she called police, who came out in the middle of the night, the man was arrested and held in custody for more than seven hours.

But there was no truth in Hooper’s allegations. She didn’t admit this for over two months, before she eventually told police she was lying.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Killed in Front of His Twin: Brother Devastated After 19-Year-Old is Shot in the Head in Unprovoked Attack

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

Murdered teenager helped raise cash for local Christian groups

A teenager has told of his devastation after his identical twin brother was shot dead in front of him.

Jonathan Burke-Monerville, 19, desperately tried to save his brother Joseph’s life after their parked car came under fire from two men wearing bandanas.

The twins’ 32-year-old brother, who was in the car with them, was also shot but managed to drive away from the attackers.

Police said yesterday that the three victims were ‘entirely innocent members of the public’ who were not involved in gangs and may have been targeted because of a case of ‘mistaken identity’.

The brothers had stopped their car to visit a convenience store in Clapton, East London, when they were approached by the men at 8.20pm on Saturday.

It is understood that they had stopped to buy a scratch card on their way home from the gym in an area dubbed ‘murder mile’.

The two men are said to have had a brief conversation with them before opening fire.

Police said the suspects — one of whom is black, while the second is light-skinned, possibly of Asian or Turkish appearance — fired at least three shots before running off.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Landlord Hits Out at Thugs Who Sparked Mass Brawl

THE landlord of The Nelson pub last night told how a brawl was sparked by two carloads of “lunatics” ambushing two men. Terrified customers, including children, watched as the men attacked the pair in the pub in Between Towns Road, Oxford, at about 4pm on Friday, threw a heavy sign through a window and even asked for chairs to use as weapons…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Manic Activity Makes for Bad Government

by George Bridges

David Cameron and the Conservatives should embrace ‘masterly inactivity’ — it often yields better results

Ronald Reagan once said that the most terrifying words in the English language are: “I am from the government and I am here to help.” I have a rival sentence: “The Government must do something.” When a plan backfires and the headlines scream, hyperactive press officers and nervous MPs rush in, bleating about the need for action. A new law, an inquiry, a task force, a relaunch, a foreign visit, a White Paper endorsed by a celebrity. Maybe all of the above, all at once — “just do something” is the motto. Every government is the same and, thanks to the media’s incessant and growing appetite for news, it is getting worse. Masterly inactivity — the art of doing nothing, in a purposeful way — demands a comeback…

[JP note: Hear hear.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: MP Gives London Assembly’s John Biggs Backing to Oust Lutfur Rahman

The London Assembly’s budget chairman has won backing this week from an MP in the race to be Labour’s candidate to try and oust Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman at the polls next year…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Force Produces Jargon-Filled ‘Mission Statement’ That Doesn’t Even Mention Crime

A police force has produced a bizarre jargon-filled ‘mission statement’ — that doesn’t even mention crime.

It is so filled with gobbledegook that it has been branded ‘absolute rubbish’ and short-listed for an award highlighting nonsense in official paperwork.

The internal document from Warwickshire Police says it aims to ‘protect people from harm’ with a range of ‘outcome focused’ functions that ‘are professionally competent and understand the operational policing context of their services, ensuring that they are quality assured, effective and efficient’.

The Enabling Services Directorate, a four-page management mission statement for HR, IT and communications, speaks of police chiefs vowing to be ‘accountable through performance measurement’. In 1,200 words, the word crime does not appear.

The document is a contender for the Golden Bull award, run by the Plain English Campaign.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: The Real Alternative to These Endless Taxes

What is it about British politicians? From whatever party they come, they seem able to think only of increasing taxation.

In recent years we have had new taxes on air travel, insurance premiums, fuel bills and bin collections, increases in VAT and national insurance, and reductions in personal allowances and tax thresholds.

Now Labour has hit on a new wheeze — a tax on living in your own home.

They say the so-called ‘mansion tax’ would affect only those who have homes worth over £2million, but how soon before that limit comes tumbling down?

Dancing to the tune of their union paymasters, they want to bleed the ‘affluent’ middle-classes to fund ‘investment’ in public services and handouts for the sick and workless.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Muslims Rally for Historic Macedonian Mosque

Macedonian Muslims and non-governmental organizations rally against plans to build a hotel and military housing at the site of the historic Burmali Mosque after site is sold to a Greek company.

Hundreds of people from 80 non-governmental organizations seeking the reconstruction of the Burmali Mosque have gathered in the square. They request that the land be returned as property of the Association of Macedonian Muslims. As of late, the site has been sold to a Greek company so that they can construct a hotel and rebuild the former officer’s club.

Non-Governmental Organizations expect the government to take steps in the direction of resolving the issues regarding this site. The Burmali Mosque had been build in 1495 during the Ottoman era, and had stood at the site for 430 years…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Algeria: Nation, U.S. Tackle Nuclear Material Trafficking

Algiers — Algeria and the United States discussed joint initiatives against terrorism and the trafficking of nuclear materials.

Algeria and the United States will work together to prevent terrorists and criminals from acquiring black market nuclear material, officials from both countries agreed this week in Algiers…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Morsi Issues Presidential Decree to Appoint New Mufti

President Mohamed Morsi issued on Monday 18/2/2013 a Presidential Decree appointing Dr. Shawqi Ibrahim Abdel Kerim as Egypt’s new mufti…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

EP Commission: More Rights for Arab Spring Women

Report on Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — Women’s rights commission MEPs on Tuesday approved a report calling for more gender rights and more women in politics in Arab Spring countries.

Passed with 24 in favor and four abstaining, the report that now goes to the European Parliament plenary session in March calls on the EU to boost the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership with an eye on the role of women.

Author Silvia Costa (Italian Democratic Party — PD) focused on the condition of women in Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. “We call on those countries to enact unequivocal constitutional reform recognizing the political, economic and social rights of women, banning all forms of discrimination, and guaranteeing gender equality in their penal codes and social security systems,” Costa said. “This means introducing new laws or reforming existing legislation on marriage, child custody, divorce, nationality, inheritance, juridical status and wages.” Costa’s report also emphasizes how important it is for women to participate in politics and economics, and calls on these North African countries to enact tangible measures against all forms of mistreatment and abuse.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Morocco: Local Youth Restless for Political Change

Rabat — Young people were vocal in the Arab Spring and the creation of Morocco’s constitution, but many are dissatisfied with the on-going failure of political parties to meet their needs.

Young Moroccans say they want a louder voice in politics and the shaping of the kingdom’s new democracy. They seemingly have little faith in politicians in power. While young voters played an active role in the 2011 Morocco elections and the referendum on the Morocco constitution, only 1% of young people in the kingdom officially belonged to a political party, the High Commission of Planning reported last year…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: New Statue Commemorating Belaid Destroyed

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, FEBRUARY 18 — A statue commemorating Tunisia’s slain opposition politician Chokri Belaid was destroyed by unidentified vandals on Sunday night just a few hours after being placed in the site where he was murdered in the capital Tunis. The statue, made by the union of Tunisian artists, had been inaugurated in a small ceremony right on the spot where the member of the Popular front opposition party was shot to death on February 6.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Did Argentina’s Jewish Foreign Minister Betray Justice?

The troubled Argentine leftist Peronista government of President Cristina de Fernandez Kirchner has expanded agricultural trade with the Islamic Regime in Tehran. Apparently there is a ready market for soybeans and Argentine beef in Iran. In 2012, Argentinean trade with the Islamic Republic zoomed to more than $85 Billion, an increase of 1,100 Percent in six years. More than 55% of the trade is in agricultural products. That may have been the principal reason behind a deal cut for creation of a South African-style Truth Commission in which Argentine judges would hear testimony from former Revolutionary Guard Commander and now Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi. There is an outstanding Interpol warrant for the arrests of Vahidi as there was for the late Hezbollah terrorist mastermind, Imad Mughniyah, assassinated in Damascus by a Mossad hit team in February 2008. The 2007 Interpol arrest warrant was issued given substantial evidence that Iran had perpetrated the 1994 AMIA Argentine Jewish Community bombing that had killed over 85, injuring hundreds. An earlier 1992 Israeli Embassy bombing in Beunos Aires that killed 29 and injured more than 242 persons was suspected of also being perpetrated by Hezbollah and Irn’s Revolutionary Guards. The architect of the Truth Commission treaty with Iran is the Jewish Foreign Minister of Argentina, Hector Timerman, whose late father, Jacopo, was a human rights icon and publisher who was jailed and then deported by the ruling military junta in the early 1980’s. Israel gave the elder Timerman, author of the acclaimed, Prisoner without a Name, Cell without a Number, sanctuary, only to have him criticize the Jewish state for its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Jacopo Timerman returned to Buenos Aires where he passed away in 1993.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Gaza Military Court Cuts Sentences in Arrigoni Case

Life reduced to 15 years for kidnapping, not murder

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV — Gaza’s military court has upheld an appeal by the two Palestinians convicted of murdering Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni in April 2011 and reduced their life sentences to 15 years. The judge told the two Salafi defendants, Tamer Hasasna and Mahmud Salfiti that on appeal they had been found guilty only of Arrigoni’s kidnapping and not his murder and that their sentences had been cut accordingly. Their sentences could be further reduced by a third for good behaviour. A third Salafi, Khader Jram, could have his 10 year sentence cut when his appeal is heard next week. The main culprit in Arrigoni’s kidnapping and murder was a Jordanian Islamic fundamentalist who was killed in April 2011 during clashes with a special unit of Hamas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Daniel Pipes: Futile Israeli Efforts to Win Ankara Back

The Government of Israel, we learned yesterday from a Turkish source, has delivered Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) equipment by ELTA, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries. that gives military aircraft protection from electronic attacks. Not only will the AWACS planes, in the wording of the Today’s Zaman article, “greatly increase [the Turkish air force’s] dominance over Turkey’s own airspace” but they will also be useful to it in the Syrian civil war and vis-Ã -vis “tensions with Israel and Greek Cyprus over the issue of gas drilling.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dubai: Teacher Jailed 15 Years for Raping 4-Year-Old Boy

Defendant raped boy while giving him Quran lesson in family home

Dubai: A Bangladeshi man has been jailed for 15 years after a court convicted him of raping a four-year-old boy while teaching him how to memorise the Quran.

The Dubai Court of First Instance convicted the defendant, 24-year-old H.M., although he pleaded not guilty and denied the accusations.

Prosecutors asked the court to implement the death sentence against H.M. as per Article 354 of the Penal Code.

The boy’s father testified that the incident happened two months after he agreed to the defendant teaching his son the Quran along with the neighbour’s son.

“The accused will be deported following the completion of his punishment,” said the presiding judge in courtroom three on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Iraq: Peace Group Says ‘No More Wars’

Rochdale and Littleborough Peace Group has been marking the tenth anniversary of Britain’s biggest ever anti-war demonstration which was held in London on Saturday 15 February 2003. At their stall in Yorkshire Street on Saturday morning (16 February 2013), they reminded Rochdale’s shoppers that ten years ago they had joined between one and two million people in London and millions more around the world in an effort to stop George Bush’s and Tony Blair’s plans to invade Iraq…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

‘Jihad’ Not to be Confused With Terrorism, Turkish Minister Says

The idea of jihad should not be confused with terrorism, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a business conference Sunday in Istanbul, adding that the notion is often misunderstood by American “neo-cons and pro-Israelis”.

There is no connection between jihad and terrorism, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said yesterday, adding that suggestions to the contrary come from American neo-cons and Israelis.

“‘Jihad’ is the name of fighting for our honour, if required, but above all it means fighting against one’s own limitations,” Davutoglu said at a business conference on Sunday in Istanbul. Davutoglu was speaking at a conference entitled “Turkey in light of international developments, 2013” at the headquarters of the Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association.

“For us, jihad is a sacred notion; let us not taint this notion by using it like neo-cons and pro-Israelis in America,” Davutoglu said, while condemning an opposition party deputy who asked the Turkish government on its policy regarding the jihadist movement in Syria at a Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission meeting on Feb. 15.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Jihad Not Linked to Terrorism, Turkish FM Says

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, FEBRUARY 18 — There is no connection between jihad and terrorism, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said yesterday, adding that suggestions to the contrary come from American neo-cons and Israelis as Hurritet online reports.”Jihad is the name of fighting for our honor if required but firstly it means fighting against our own self’s limits, according to us,” Davutoglu said in Istanbul at the headquarters of the Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (MUSIAD), where he attended the conference ‘Turkey in the light of international developments, 2013.’ “For us, jihad is a sacred notion; let us not taint this notion by using it like neo-cons and pro-Israelis in America,” Davutoglu said while condemning an opposition party deputy who asked the Turkish government on its policy regarding the jihadist movement in Syria at a Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission meeting on February 15.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

OIC Gears Up to Get Denigration of Religions Criminalized

JEDDAH — Getting the go-ahead from the Cairo Islamic Summit, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been actively trying to get the denigration of religions recognized as a criminal offense, according to a top official. “Next session of the Istanbul Process on Islamophobia will be held in the first half of this year, and the session will squarely focus on the issue of criminalizing denigration of religions,” said Rizwan Saeed Sheikh, director of cultural affairs at the OIC general secretariat and spokesman for the OIC secretary general.

In an interview with Saudi Gazette, Sheikh underscored the need for transposition of the international law to domestic one to effectively combat Islamophobia, which is a contemporary manifestation of racism mainly targeting Islam and Muslims. He said the OIC seeks establishment of an international observatory, based in Geneva, with a global mandate not only to monitor denigration of Islam but all other religions…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Only 1 in 3 Consider Turkey ‘Democratic’, Poll

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, FEBRUARY 19 — Only one in three Turks, or 34.2% of the population, considers Turkey a ‘fully democratic country’, according to a poll on social and political trends by the Kadir Has university published in Harriyet Tuesday. Some 29.9% of those polled think that there is full ‘freedom of thought’ in the country while 28.8% say that the Turkish press is ‘free’, and 52.5% think that the justice system is ‘politicized.’ Some 65% are against key presidential reforms to the constitution proposed by Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and are in favour of keeping the current parliamentary system.

But 34.3% support Erdogan’s election as head of state next year, versus 12% who back the social democratic opposition leader Kemal Kilicadaroglu and 10.7% who support the current President Abdullah Gul — co founder along with Erdogan of the AKP.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey Launches Crackdown on Outlawed Organizations, 167 Detained

ISTANBUL, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) — A total of 167 people were detained on Monday night in a nationwide operation launched by the Turkish police against the outlawed organizations in the country’s 28 cities, semi-official Anatolia news agency reported Tuesday…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Turkey: 17,000 New Mosques Built Under Erdogan

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, FEBRUARY 19 — Some 17,000 new mosques have been built during Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 10 years of leadership, Milliyet reports.

In the same period the amount of public schools has remained at 32,000 while the number of mosques has jumped from 76,000 to 93,000. Turkey’s secular opposition has accused Erdogan of having a “secret plan” to re-Islamisize the nation.

Erdogan recently announced the construction of a new mega-mosque in Istanbul which will “be seen from every corner of the Bosphorus” and will have the tallest minarets in the world.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turks Drink More Champagne Despite Erdogan

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, FEBRUARY 19 — Turks drank less of their traditional alcoholic drinks like raki and wine, but indulged more in champagne in 2012 compared to last year while the country’s overall alcoholic drink consumption increased by 6.3%, as daily Hurriyet reports. Sales of alcoholic drinks, including those imported from other countries, increase by 67 million liters last year, reaching to 1.1 billion liters, according to data provided by the state’s Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority. The overall increase was mainly due to beer sales, which were 998.9 million, although champagne sales also saw a huge jump with a 91.1 rise to hit 826,770 liters. Beer has been the alcoholic beverage drunk most in Turkey for years. Meanwhile, the import of overall alcoholic beverages fell by 3.3%, which seems moderate compared to the 26.4% plummet of beer imports, a number that suggests domestic beers were favored most last year.

Champagne also attracts attention in the import list as it surged by 89%. The losers of 2012 were beverages once thought of as traditional Turkish preferences, as raki consumption retreated to 44.6 million liters with an 8.6% plunge. Turks also consumed 56.4 million liters wine, 3.8% less than they sipped in 2011. Alcoholic beverage export also fell by 11% to 11.2 million liter due to decrease of vodka and liquor exports. Vodka exports faced a huge plunge to 16,500 liter from 56,000 while liquor exports were only 774 liter. Turkey exported 6,100 liter liquor in 2011. Beer, raki and wine exports have surged during the same period. According to figures from the last five years, raki consumption remained relatively the same while whisky consumption was boosted by 169.5%. Vodka drinking rose by 71.5%, wine drinking by 48.8% and beer consumption increased by a moderate 7.9%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

United Arab Emirates: Gulf States Eager for Weapons at Ad Abu Dhabi Exhibition

The International Defence Exhibition and Conference opens its 11th edition in the UAE capital with more than 1,100 companies from 58 countries present this year. Hundreds of billions in sales are expected. France is set to sell its costly Rafale combat airplane to the UAE.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews/ Agencies) — Gulf States are showing off their military might at the 11th International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), which opened yesterday with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) putting on a spectacular show that included planes, helicopters, warships and unconventional warfare.

The biennial event is the largest arms exhibition in the Middle East with about 1,100 companies present from 58 countries. For Western companies, it is a great opportunity to sell weapons to developing nations or countries at war seeking to refurbish their armed forces, experts say.

This year’s edition (17-21 February) is taking place with Syria embroiled in war. European nations, the United States and Arab countries are pondering whether to arm Syrian rebels.

The United States leads the way in terms of companies showing their ware with 169 firms, followed by the United Kingdom with 84. Next come France (70), Germania (69), Russia (39) and China (35).

The main buyers are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman but also some countries from Asia and Africa.

After signing contracts for US$ 5 billion with the US companies, the UAE plans to buy more from France and the United Kingdom.

Christian Mons-Catoni, chairman of the French defence industries council (CIDEF), told reporters on the sideline of the IDEX defence show that France is close to selling its Rafale jet fighter.

Although Western nations have snubbed the plane for its high costs, Gulf States are prepared to buy it to replace their aging Tornado and Mirage.

Indeed, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French media that the Arabian Peninsula has become a key partner for the defence industry in France and the West.

In addition to the Rafale, Paris is involved in negotiations to sell Tiger or NH90 helicopters, an air defence systems based on Aster or Mica missiles, armoured infantry vehicles VBCI and Caesar cannons. (S.C.)

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

Putin, Jordan King to Discuss Nuclear Power Cooperation

MOSCOW, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) — President Vladimir Putin and Jordanian King Abdallah II will meet on Tuesday in Moscow, discussing Russia’s possible participation in building Jordan’s first nuclear power plant. “The heads of state will consider prospects for implementing large-scale joint projects,” a Kremlin statement said Tuesday, adding that the negotiation will center on economic issues…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Assassinations Soar in Afghanistan: UN

KABUL: Insurgent attacks on Afghan government employees soared last year by a staggering 700 per cent even as the overall civilian death toll from the war fell, the United Nations said on Tuesday. The targeted killings of women in government service by Taliban-led insurgents was “particularly disturbing”, the UN mission in Afghanistan said in its annual report on civilian casualties.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Benedict Rogers: The Maldives Have Gone From Paradise to Hell

This week’s foreign policy column is by Benedict Rogers, a writer and human rights activist specialising in Asia. He is Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, and was PPC in the City of Durham in 2005. He visited the Maldives in 2006.

A year ago, a cabal of opportunists, corrupt judges, the old dictator’s henchmen and radical Islamist clerics joined forces in an unholy alliance to topple the Maldives’ first democratically elected President, Mohamed Nasheed. In what can only be described as a coup d’etat dressed up as a voluntary resignation, the country’s fledgling democracy was dealt a crippling blow. The assailants stuck a knife into the Maldives’ infant democracy. Over the past year, they have twisted that knife. And in the past few days, they have hit the knife with a hammer to ensure the wounds go deeper…

In the past few days, protests in the Maldives have grown, numbering an estimated 7,000-8,000, and Waheed’s regime has responded brutally. On Friday night 58 people were arrested after police in full riot gear charged a peaceful march. Those arrested are mostly prominent MDP politicians, including former Home Affairs Minister Hassan Afeef, former Defence Minister Amin Faisal, and Ahmed Saeed, Anni’s representative to the government’s sham Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the events surrounding his resignation. Many were subjected to brutal treatment — Hassan Afeef’s niece Zeenath Zaki was beaten, and her mouth forced open while police sprayed something down her throat. She became critically ill, and is in intensive care. Former Defence Minister Amin Faisal was arrested at the hospital while visiting her.

On Friday night, I received shocking reports of what was happening. One witness described one act of police brutality to Raajje television:

“I climbed upstairs having heard the sound of shouting and crying and stood watching . She had fallen and I clearly saw her being dragged off … she was just on the ground, writhing. Before that, when I was standing upstairs, I saw her being dragged off, and saw them doing inhumane things (ill-treat). So I stood in front [of police officer] and argued and said if you are going to kill us, you kill both of us together … I don’t know what kind of injuries she had sustained but what I saw was her hands being brought round her back … and saw her being dragged off and when I got there, saw her writhing [on the ground]. And when she began writhing, the police officer there did like this with their foot as well … and when at that time she began to writhe and I got nearer, they told me not to touch her. So I could not touch her while the police were there. Then I saw very clearly that she had froth coming out of her mouth and at that time, she went limp. When they put her inside the vehicle, she was completely limp.”

A key question at the heart of all this, though, is why won’t Anni face the charges? And there is a simple answer: because there is no way he would receive a fair trial.

In its report of its observations of the trial so far, the Bar Human Rights Committee concluded that “a primary motivation behind the present trial is a desire by those in power to exclude Mr Nasheed from standing in the 2013 elections”, and notes “international opinion that this would not be a positive outcome for the Maldives.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Five Killed as Militants Storm Political Office in Pakistan

A militant death squad stormed the offices of a senior political official in Pakistan’s north-western city of Peshawar, killing at least five people when they detonated their suicide vests.

Their target, Mutahir Zeb, the government’s representative in the tribal district of Khyber, escaped unhurt. No group claimed responsibility in the immediate aftermath but suspicion will centre on the Pakistan Taliban, which has carried out similar attacks in the past. Terrorist groups have stepped up activity in recent weeks ahead of elections expected in May. On Saturday, 81 Shias were killed in the south-western city of Quetta when a tanker filled with explosives was detonated in a busy market…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

GlaxoSmithKline Creates Monstrous Six-in-One Vaccine Jab Specifically for Children in Developing Countries

(NaturalNews) Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which recently pleaded guilty to the largest drug industry scandal in recorded history (http://www.naturalnews.com), has partnered with an India-based pharmaceutical company to develop a six-in-one, single-dose vaccine jab that will deliver vaccine material for polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type B specifically to the world’s poorest people living in developing countries.

According to reports, GSK will add the contents of its injectable polio shot to a pentavalent vaccine already being manufactured by Biological E Ltd. that contains the other five vaccines. Together, as part of a 50-50 joint venture, the two companies will manufacture the hexavalent vaccine, which will rival similar combination vaccines for polio currently being developed and administered by rival drug companies in India such as Serum Institute of India Ltd. and Sanofi Pasteur…

Back in 2008, a similar pentavalent vaccine manufactured by drug giant Sanofi Pasteur was pulled from doctors’ offices throughout the Chicago area after it was discovered that administering a high number of vaccines all at once as a single injection could be fatal to children. Like the new hexavalent vaccine currently being developed by GSK, Sanofi’s pentavalent vaccine, known as Pentacel, contains vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type B.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Indian Premier Concerned Over Helicopter Order Claims

(AGI) — New Delhi, Feb 19 — There were serious concerns over payola claims connected with an order for 12 helicopters from the Anglo-Italian Agusta-Westland Group, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Britain’s premier David Cameron. In a joint press conference, Mr Singh said that he had told Mr Cameron of his “strong concern” over the claims about the “non-ethical attitude” in the 2010 Agusta-Westland contract.

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

Indonesia to Host Asian Muslim, Christian Leaders Conference

JAKARTA, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) — An Indonesian senior religious figure said on Tuesday that Indonesian capital is scheduled to host a four-day Asian Muslim and Christian Leaders Conference this month, expected to be attended by religious figures from 15 countries. The conference, themed “A Common Word to Common Action for Justice”, is slated to be held from Feb. 26 to March 1, would be attended by 150 delegates from 15 Asian countries…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Muslim Insurgents Launch 50 Attacks in Thailand’s Deep South

Muslim insurgents fighting for a separate state in Thailand’s deep south launched 50 bomb and arson attacks over the weekend, killing three members of the security forces as violence in the troubled region intensifies.

The three local defence volunteers died after a bomb hidden in a pile of clothes exploded outside a restaurant in Pattani Town on Sunday lunchtime. Another nine people were injured in the blast. A coordinated campaign of terror started at 6pm local time on Saturday, when seven bombs were planted outside shops, supermarkets and a karaoke bar in Pattani Town, the capital of Pattani Province, one of the three southernmost provinces of Thailand with a Muslim majority population…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Quetta: Arrests Made Over Massacre of Shiites. Toll Climbs to 89 Dead

Security forces raided the city this morning, killing four suspected terrorists and arresting seven others. Protests mount against government after February 16 massacre at the general market. In 2012, more than 400 members of the Muslim Shiite minority killed.

Quetta (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Pakistani security forces this morning killed four people and arrested seven others, accused of carrying out repeated attacks on minority Shiite Muslims. According to initial reports the targeted group includes the masterminds of the February 16 massacre of hazaras in Quetta, in which at least 89 people died. The Asian country, a large Sunni Muslim majority, is often the scene of violent attacks against members of minority ethnic groups or religions, even Muslims such as the hazara Shiites, Sufis, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus.

The security forces carried out an extensive operation in the south-western outskirts of Quetta, where fierce protests erupted involving thousands of members of the Shiite minority. Angered by the slaughter of the last few days, they are demanding greater protection and the deployment of the army. Moreover they are refusing to bury the victims until the government meets their demands despite the Islamic tradition of burying the deceased within 24/48 hours of their death.

This morning’s raid, explain the interior minister of Baluchistan and the head of the Border Guards in a joint statement, is part of an “ongoing operation” to target “high-profile people” involved in the death of “a Shiite judge and senior police officers”.

One of the masterminds of the February 16 Hazara massacre at the vegetable market in Quetta, in which at least 89 people were killed and another 200 were injured, is reportedly among those targeted in the raid. The attack was claimed by the Islamic extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), one of the most active and bloodthirsty in the entire nation. The officers also seized bombs, weapons and uniforms. A government delegation is on its way from Islamabad, to attempt mediation to put an end to the Shiite protests involving thousands of people including women and children. Just a few months before elections, discontent with the government is mounting, blamed for allowing insecurity to proliferate and of being unable to stop extremists and the Taliban.

In recent months, there have been several targeted attacks against the Shiite minority in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan. The local nationalist movements, as well as extremist groups, have adopted the technique of massacres, to force the government to hand over more resources from the exploitation of natural gas and minerals in the subsoil. 2012 was one of the bloodiest years to date for Shiites, with a toll of more than 400 deaths in several attacks, including 125 in the province of Baluchistan alone, home to a large hazara presence.

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

China: World’s Foremost “Cyber Espionage” Hub in Shanghai

A US-based computer security firm releases report blaming a Chinese company backed by the People’s Liberation Army for most of the stealing of sensitive data from companies in the world since 2004. Chinese authorities react angrily, saying the accusations are unproven.

Shanghai (AsiaNews) — The Chinese government runs the “most prolific cyber espionage groups” in the world. Covered by military secret, Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army stole sensitive data from at least 141 companies in the world, said Mandiant, a US-based computer security company, in a report that has angered Communist China.

The report notes that traces left after hacker attacks lead back to a non-descript building in Pudong, on Shanghai’s Eastside. A BBC journalist who tried to film the site was taken into custody and eventually released after his equipment was wiped clean.

In its study, Mandiant said it had investigated hundreds of data breaches since 2004. What it uncovered shows “that the groups conducting these activities are based primarily in China and that the Chinese government is aware of them”.

The most active of these actors is APT1, which Mandiant says is “a single organisation of operators that has conducted a cyber espionage campaign against a broad range of victims”

Mandiant said it had traced the hacking activities of APT1 to a 12-storey building in Shanghai’s Pudong area, staffed by hundreds, possibly thousands, of proficient English speakers with advanced computer security and networking skills. It said that Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army “is also located in precisely the same area”.

The report found that APT1 had hacked into 141 companies and stolen hundreds of terabytes of information, targeting industries identified by China “as strategically important under its Five Year Plan for economic growth”.

China’s government has reacted angrily to the accusations. “Hacking attacks are transnational and anonymous,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. “Determining their origins is extremely difficult”.

“We don’t know how the evidence in this so-called report can be tenable” but “Arbitrary criticism based on rudimentary data is irresponsible.”

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

Major Chinese Internet Hacking Base Exposed

A key military base used by the Chinese to hack into the computer networks of foreign governments and companies has allegedly been uncovered in Shanghai.

It may look like any other Shanghai office building, but experts believe this 12-floor tower is actually the nerve centre of one of the world’s most dangerous military cyber-hacking operations.

For the first time, American computer analysts have traced over a hundred attacks on government departments, companies and journalists to this one site around 40 minutes outside Shanghai’s city centre, reportedly the headquarters of People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398.

In a 60-page report, Mandiant, a computer security company, said it believed that a hacking network named the “Comment Crew” or the “Shanghai Group” operated from the compound.

It said there were “hundreds, and perhaps thousands of people” working inside to breach the security not only of global corporations, but also of foreign power grids, gas lines and waterworks.

While the inner-sanctums of the Shanghai PLA base are off-limits to outsiders, the existence of the military compound is no secret in what is a bustling residential neighbourhood.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Convert to Christianity, Wilders Tells Muslims

All Muslims should renounce their religion immediately in favour of Christianity or atheism — it would be better for them and for everyone else, controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders said in Melbourne on Monday. Insisting politely that he did not want to incite or offend anyone, the anti-Islam campaigner described the Prophet Muhammed as “a warlord, terrorist and paedophile” and urged Australia to ban the Koran and all migration from Muslim countries. Told that Premier Ted Baillieu had advised Victorians to ignore Mr Wilders, he said the Premier could ignore the threat of Islam and “sing Kumbayah” all day long, but the voters would wake up eventually…

[JP note: Hear hear.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

French Tourists Kidnapped in Cameroon

French president François Hollande has confirmed that seven French tourists, apparently three adults and four children, were kidnapped on Tuesday by a ‘known terrorist group’ in northern Cameroon.

“Seven French tourists were captured today by men, apparently on motorbikes, in the Cameroonian locality of Dadanga on the frontier with Nigeria,” said a source close to the French embassy in Yaounde on Tuesday. “Clearly the tourists were returning from the Waza natural park,” added the source.

President François Hollande, on an official visit to Greece, has confirmed the kidnapping.

“What is most probable is they were taken to Nigeria,” Hollande said, adding that they were seized by a Nigeria-based “terrorist group that we know well”.

A security source in the area told AFP the kidnapping “involved three adults and four children,” adding that security forces were hunting for the kidnappers the length of the border with Nigeria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Kenya: Media Magnifies Hate Speech — Again

Nairobi — With Kenyans set to go to the polls in just over two weeks, on Mar. 4, civil society has been closely monitoring the media’s coverage of the political campaigns in this East African nation — and they have found them wanting. According to some political activists, the Kenyan media have been magnifying political conflict and hate speech in their reporting in ways reminiscent the disputed 2007 presidential election that ended in riots and politically motivated ethnic disputes, leaving around 1,200 people dead and displacing 600,000…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Breaking News — Explosion Rocks Lagos

An explosion has occurred in Lagos State. Although details are sketchy at the moment, LEADERSHIP gathered that an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) went off under the popular Festac Bridge, off Apapa-Oshodi Expressway in Lagos…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Seven Men to Hang in Sudan for Rape of 14-Year-Old Girl

A Sudanese judge sentenced seven men to hang for the drugging and rape of a 14-year-old girl and six minors who participated in the crime to 10 years in youth detention.

“He found them guilty by the evidence he received of raping a child,” a defence lawyer, Salma Mohammedahmed Hamed said. The court in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman heard the case of the crime which was committed in May. All 13 of the group abused the girl. “They gave her a cup of juice containing drugs and then raped her,” Hamed said. In his verdict, the judge cited a presidential directive calling for heavier punishments of sex crimes…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Swaziland: Swazi Police Break Up Prayer Meeting

In Swaziland it is usually sensible to ignore the words of those in power, especially when they are preaching peace and dialogue, and concentrate on their deeds. Take this weekend for example. Giving his annual State of the Nation Address on Friday 15th February, King Mswati III did what he invariably does — painted a picture of a nation that was on the right track despite problems beyond the government’s control and emphasised the importance of peace and dialogue (rather than any of the many urgently-needed reforms to the country’s authoritarian and repressive system). But just a couple of days later, his baton-wielding police marched into Manzini’s Cathedral Church and broke up a prayer meeting — giving the participants just seven minutes to vacate the premises…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Cutler: ‘The Gang of Eight’ And Immigration Reform: ‘Bordering on a National Security Nightmare’

During the past several weeks the White House has put together a “working group” of four Democrat and four Republican senators. These eight senators have come out in favor of enacting legislation that would grant lawful status and a pathway to citizenship for the officially estimated population of 11 million illegal aliens. In reality, it is likely that should such a legislative catastrophe be foisted on the United States, it would result in the legalization of more than 30 million aliens, many of whose true identities (even their countries of citizenship), their backgrounds and their intentions would be unknown and unknowable.

These senators are:

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.

They are referred to as the “Gang of Eight.” Since Democrats expect newly naturalized citizens to support their interests and vote for their candidates, it is not surprising that they would seek to enact “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” that would provide an estimated population of 11 million illegal aliens with lawful status and a pathway to United States citizenship.

These politicians are often unwilling to distinguish lawful immigrants from illegal aliens. They are not really pro-immigrant but pro-illegal alien!

Those who claim that there is no lawful way for immigrants to legally enter the United States ignore the fact that every year the United States admits more than 1.1 million lawful immigrants. This is a greater number than all of the immigrants admitted into every other country on our planet. These immigrants are provided with Alien Registration Cards that comply with the alien registration requirement of the INA that began with the Alien Registration Act of 1940. These lawful immigrants are immediately placed on the pathway to United States citizenship. The United States also admits more than 150 million non-immigrant visitors every year… It is beyond comprehension that the current administration, the Gang of Eight and others are utterly ignoring the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report that provided an in-depth analysis of how the terrorists who attacked our nation on September 11, 2001 were able to enter the United States in the first place and then manage to game the immigration benefits program, which enabled them to embed themselves in our country. Members of the 9/11 Commission staff also prepared a monograph on Terrorist Travel which focused on these issues as well.

[Comment: Long and very informative article.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

German Justice Minister: Relax Dual Citizenship Law

Pressure is increasing for Germany to expand its dual citizenship laws to enable people from Turkish and other backgrounds to have two passports. Now the justice minister has spoken out in favour of a change.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Obama Pushes Illegals Ahead of Legal Immigrants

According to a draft of a White House immigration proposal obtained by USA TODAY, leaked over the weekend, the Obama administration “would allow illegal immigrants to become legal permanent residents within eight years.”

Within eight years? That is not the back of the line. As I reported in my book, there is nothing fair about President Obama’s immigration reform plans. It is a slap in the face to legal immigrants from around the world and a slap in the face to Americans who expect an honest, competent government.

According to the State Department Visa bulletin that shows the wait times for legal immigrants if you are a legal immigrant from the Philippines and filed for legal status to live in America in 1989 in the F4 (family based) category your “priority number” has just come up — after twenty-four years of waiting. People from Mexico who filed under the F2B category who were approved in November 1992 after a twenty-one-year wait get to move to the next step and so forth.

But these legal immigrants who played by the rules cannot get too excited yet that they will obtain a Green Card because they are not finished either. Like the employment-based legal immigrants, the family-based immigrants also have to complete the 1-485 (the FBI background check step), and 1-693 (the medical step), before they are finished and able to live and work freely in America.

Once legal immigrants complete the background check step, medical tests and are granted a Green Card then they may apply five years later for American citizenship with the right to vote. That’s thirty years from now.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Jailed for 35 Years, Gang Who Made £20m Fixing 2,000 Sham Marriages: Murderers, Drug Lords and Money Launderers Given Free Entry to UK by ‘Industrial-Scale’ Racket

A lawyer and three accomplices were jailed yesterday for arranging 2,000 sham marriages that earnt them £20million.

Tevfick Souleiman and his gang flew women into Britain from EU countries in the former Soviet bloc to marry citizens from outside the EU.

Most couples met on the day of the wedding and needed an interpreter to get through their marriage vows.

Some of the grooms were dangerous career criminals from Albania suspected of murder, drugs trafficking and money laundering. But they won a right to live in the UK because of their EU ‘wives’.

The scam, thought to be Britain’s biggest marriage racket, ran on an ‘industrial scale’ for eight years.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Law Firm Partner Jailed for Marriage Scam

A partner in a law firm has been jailed for a £20 million “industrial scale” immigration scam that saw about five sham marriages carried out a day over many years.

Tevfick Souleiman ran a “conveyor belt” of brides being flown in from eastern European countries, who would marry men they had never met from non-EU countries and be flown out the next day after being paid by the firm. Scotland Yard said the North London firm had conducted up to 8,000 immigration applications between 2004 and 2011, with up to £14,000 being charged for each marriage. The grooms, who included members of the Albanian mafia, were able to live in Britain as a result. Their sham EU brides were flown in from the Baltic, Bulgaria or Romania using Ryanair, Wizz Air, Aero Lithuania or Air Latvia. Souleiman, 39, plus his advisors, Zafer Altinbas, 38 and Cenk Guclu, 41, and 29-year-old fixer Furrah Kosimov, took advantage of the pressure the UK Border Agency was under and the complexity of EU law to create frauds “that would be obvious to a child”, Judge John Bevan QC told the Old Bailey…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Saving 1 Billion People From Themselves

The West is almost as in love with improving the world, as the Muslim world is with conquering it. These two contradictory impulses, the missionary and the warrior, come together in the Clash of Civilizations.

The Muslim world has two approaches to the West; underhanded deceit and outright terror. The practitioners of the former are considered moderates and the latter extremists. The West has two approaches to the Muslim world, regime change and love bombing. With regime change we bomb their cities to save them from their rulers and with love bombing we shamelessly flatter and appease them in our own cities to save them from themselves.

Westerners worry a great deal over who runs the Muslim world. Muslims do not care very much who runs Western countries. They prefer weak liberal Western leaders to strong ones, but they do not believe that there is truly a moral difference between them. Even a Hussein in the White House has not improved America’s ratings in the Muslim world.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Traces of Life on Mars May Have Been Bleached Away

A Martian meteorite that has been frozen in Antarctic ice hints that the surface of the Red Planet is riddled with chemicals related to those used in household bleach. That increases the likelihood that carbon-bearing compounds — strong indicators of life — may have been broken down by chemical reactions, suggesting that we need to dig deeper into Mars to search for traces of any past inhabitants.

“We’re speculating that you perhaps cannot find organics on the surface of Mars,” says Sam Kounaves of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. “You have to be below the surface or inside sedimentary rocks.”

Kounaves and colleagues studied a Martian meteorite called EETA 79001, collected in 1979 in Antartica where it fell 12,000 years ago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]