Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/20/2013

Of all the nations of the world, France is now the one with the largest number of its citizens currently being held hostage. All 15 French hostages were taken in Africa, the latest group being an entire family that was kidnapped in Cameroon.

In other news, a group of Italian tourists in Kenya was attacked by men armed with guns and machetes. One Italian man was taken to a hospital with gunshot wounds.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Diana West, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Srdja Trifkovic, The Observer, 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
» Corruption Costs Greece 10% of GDP, Study
» Greece Hit by Fresh Anti-Austerity Strike
» John Boehner: The President is Raging Against a Budget Crisis He Created
» Money is a Form of Social Control and Most Americans Are Debt Slaves
» Rating-Agency Probe to Conclude in 2013, Italians Say
» Sequester Hysterics
» UK: Almost 30,000 Town Hall Pen-Pushers Earn More Than £50,000 When Councils Are Cutting Front Line Services
» Video of the Day: Regulators Squirm When Asked About “Too Big to Jail”
» You Won’t Believe Who is Getting Away With Paying Zero Taxes While the Middle Class Gets Hammered
 
USA
» 2nd Amendment Battle Rages on
» Al Jazeera: Coming to a TV Near You
» California Democrat Introduces Bill to Tax Concealed Carry
» Children’s Motrin Causes Seven-Year-Old to Go Blind and Lose 90 Percent of Skin
» Company Behind Shooting Targets of Children Received $2 Million From DHS
» DHS Supplier Provides Shooting Targets of American Gun Owners
» Extra-Caffeinated Soda and Chemical Sweeteners for Breakfast? Pepsico Introduces ‘Kickstart’ Soda for People Who Absolutely Hate Themselves
» Father of Two-Year-Old Boy Fires on Three Armed Robbers, Kills Two
» Feds Buy 2 Billion Rounds of Ammunition
» First Exoplanet Smaller Than Mercury Discovered
» Government Certifiable Nincompoops, Part 2
» Internet Sales Tax Coming
» Law Enforcement “Requested” Shooting Targets of Pregnant Women
» Maryland County Bans Gun Shows
» Moderate Muslim Calls for Battle With Jihadists
» N.Y. Bill Would Force Gun Owners to Buy at Least $1m in Insurance
» New Cancer ‘Wonder’ Drugs Trigger Cancer Spread to Bones
» Obama Moves to Authorize Domestic Drone Strikes
» Police Claim Lanza in “Direct Competition” With Norwegian Shooter Breivik
» Prominent American Scientists Call for Eco-Dictatorship Under UN Rule
» Saudis Influencing Fox News
» Second Amendment is Not Up for Debate
» Sheriff Warns of “Second American Revolution” If Gun Grabbers Get Their Way
» Sheriffs Can ‘Inspect’ Homes for Gun Storage Under Democrat Bill
» The Affordable Care Act Nobody Can Afford
» U.S. Air Force Developing Terrifying Swarms of Tiny Unmanned Drones
» U.S. Muslims Suddenly Come to Jesus’ Defense
» UK: Ten Year Old Arrested for Toy Gun Has Probation Officer, Lawyers and Second Court Date
» WWE Creates Racist Wrestler to Demonize Tea Party
 
Europe and the EU
» Chinese Businessman Wanted for ‘Slaughtering Family of Four’ Extradited to the UK After 14 Months on the Run in Morocco
» France Leads the World in Nationals Held Hostage
» Friends of Bear M13 Express Outrage on Facebook Over Death
» Germany’s Opting Out of Nuclear Energy Will Cost 1000 Bln
» Italian Tax Collectors Against ‘Being Used in Campaign’
» Italy: M5S Claims to be the Country’s Biggest Party
» Italy: Berlusconi Urges Citizens Not to Vote for Monti or M5S
» Italy: Beppe Grillo: The Europhobe Comet
» Italy: Beppe Grillo Says an M5S Government Would Review All Pacts
» Italy: Left-Wing Opponent Files Complaint on Berlusconi IMU Letter
» Italy: Bersani Willing to Buy and Sell Votes, MPS, Says Maroni
» Monti Backs Bonino to Become Italian President
» UK: Dinner Lady Sacked for Serving Muslim Children With Non-Halal Meat at Multi-Faith School
» US Boss to France: ‘Keep Your So-Called Workers’
 
Balkans
» Srdja Trifkovic: “The ICC is the Enemy of Liberty”
» Trifkovic, Fleming, and Chronicles on Trial at the Hague
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Obama and the Leftist Infiltration of Israeli Media
 
Middle East
» Gulf: ME Countries Gather at IDEX Military Trade Fair
» Saudi Arabia: 53 Ethiopian Christians Arrested for Praying in a Private Home
» Turkey: 65.8% Oppose Erdogan’s Presidential Reform Proposal
» Uproar in Saudi Arabia as Girl, 12, Who Suffers From Sickle Cell Anemia is Given HIV-Positive Blood Transfusion in Hospital
 
Russia
» Almost $50 Billion Left Russia Illegally in 2012: Central Bank
» Soviet Officer Awarded Prize for Preventing Nuclear War
 
South Asia
» Helicopter Scandal Clouding Developing “Special Relationship” Between India and Great Britain
» Indian Sisters, 11, Nine and Six ‘Lured With Food, Raped, Murdered and Dumped in Well’
 
Far East
» China: Beijing Reacts to Charges of Cyber Espionage by Asking for Proof
» Chinese Army Behind Hacker Attacks, Says NYT
» North Korea Threatens “Final Destruction” Of South Korea
 
Australia — Pacific
» Andrew Bolt: If Wilders is Wrong, Explain This Conference
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Italian Tourists Attacked With Guns, Machetes in Kenya
 
Latin America
» Huge Telescopes Could Spy Alien Oxygen
 
Immigration
» USDA/Mexican Consulates to Immigrants: Don’t Worry, Food Stamps Won’t Affect Citizenship Chances
 
Culture Wars
» America’s Umbrella-Less Public Schools, Part 2
» UK: 5,000 Children Without a Father Are Born Through Fertility Treatment: And Now Lesbians Will Get IVF on Taxpayer
» Who Needs the Family?
 
General
» Artificial Sweeteners Tied to Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes

Corruption Costs Greece 10% of GDP, Study

Some 20 billion euros according to The Brookings Institution

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — The Brookings Institution, the Washington D.C.-based prestigious private nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions, estimates that corruption is costing Greece some 20 billion euros which, combined with lost revenues from the country’s notoriously tangled and inefficient bureaucracy, is crippling efforts to reform the debt-crunched economy. The General Inspector of Public Administration Leandros Rakintzis said, “both combined make up about 30-32 billion. If for 10 years, we could this or part of this, we might not have had all this public debt or all this crisis.” That’s nearly equivalent to 10% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) leaving Greece to have to borrow around 240 billion euros from international lenders, who have demanded austerity measures in return. According to research from the agency Transparency International that one of Greece’s Members of the European Parliament, Theodoros Skylakakis, recently presented, Europe loses 120 billion euros annually to graft as GreekReporter website writes. At the same time, the government has failed to go after tax evaders who owe 50 billion. Most of that is in health care, followed by tax departments, police, urban planning, customs and justice. “There’s extensive corruption that remains unpunished even in countries such as Germany.

Greece isn’t the worst country. In Europe, we’re below middle, but not the worst,” Skylakakis said. Transparency International however, rated Greece the worst in Europe.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece Hit by Fresh Anti-Austerity Strike

Greece was left paralysed by a nationwide strike on Wednesday organised by leading unions in protest against continued austerity in the crisis-hit country ahead of an audit by international creditors.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

John Boehner: The President is Raging Against a Budget Crisis He Created

Obama invented the ‘sequester’ in the summer of 2011 to avoid facing up to America’s spending problem.

The sequester is a wave of deep spending cuts scheduled to hit on March 1. Unless Congress acts, $85 billion in across-the-board cuts will occur this year, with another $1.1 trillion coming over the next decade. There is nothing wrong with cutting spending that much — we should be cutting even more — but the sequester is an ugly and dangerous way to do it.

By law, the sequester focuses on the narrow portion of the budget that funds the operating accounts for federal agencies and departments, including the Department of Defense. Exempt is most entitlement spending — the large portion of the budget that is driving the nation’s looming debt crisis. Should the sequester take effect, America’s military budget would be slashed nearly half a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Border security, law enforcement, aviation safety and many other programs would all have diminished resources.

Washington must get serious about its spending problem. If it can’t reform America’s safety net and retirement-security programs, they will no longer be there for those who rely on them. Republicans’ willingness to do what is necessary to save these programs is well-known. But after four years, we haven’t seen the same type of courage from the president.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Money is a Form of Social Control and Most Americans Are Debt Slaves

Is America really “the land of the free”? Most people think of money as simply a medium of exchange that makes economic transactions more convenient, but the truth is that it is much more than that. Money is also a form of social control. Just think about it. What did you do this morning? Well, if you are like most Americans, you either got up and went to work (to make money) or to school (to learn the skills that you will need to make money). We spend a great deal of our lives pursuing the almighty dollar, and there are literally millions of laws, rules and regulations about how we earn our money, about how we spend our money and about how much of our money the government gets to take from us. Not that money is a bad thing in itself. Without money, it would be really hard to have a modern society. Unfortunately, our money is based on debt, and debt levels in the United States have exploded to absolutely unprecedented levels in recent years.

The borrower is the servant of the lender, and if you are like most Americans, nearly every major purchase that you make in your life is going to involve debt. Do you want to get a college education so that you can get a “good job”? You are told to get a student loan. Do you want a car? You are encouraged to get an auto loan and to stretch out the payments for as long as possible. Do you want a home? You are probably going to end up with a big fat mortgage. And of course I could go on and on and on. The cold, hard truth of the matter is that most Americans are debt slaves. Most of us spend our entire lives trapped in an endless cycle of debt that we never escape until we die, and meanwhile our years of hard labor are greatly enriching those that own our debts.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Rating-Agency Probe to Conclude in 2013, Italians Say

Prosecutor fingers managers abroad for 120-bn-euro damages

(ANSA) — Rome, February 20 — A Lazio Audit Court prosecutor said an investigation against international rating agencies for alleged market tampering could close by the year’s end, and fingered blame against agency managers located outside of Italy.

“I hope to close the investigation by the end of 2013 against at least two rating agencies,” said Raffaele De Dominicis during a Rome press conference to mark the end of the judicial year.

“We are (still) quantifying the damage done to the Italian State, but from the results of a number of consultations, I can say that we are (talking about) well over 120 billion euros,” De Dominicis added, confirming figures reported in November.

“By the end of the end of this year, I will send notice to conduct the investigation outside of Italy.

“We have already heard the Italian representatives of the companies. They have (denied) their blame, stating that the analyses of the Italian situation were conducted abroad”.

On November 12, the chief prosecutor in the southern Italian city of Trani announced that Lazio’s Audit Court — which probes government expenditures — had opened an investigation into alleged market manipulation by two international rating agencies and estimated damages to the Italian Treasury at 120 billion euros.

Trani Prosecutor Carlo Maria Capristo also announced that prosecutors there had requested indictments for top management at Standard & Poor’s and Fitch agencies in a parallel investigation.

S&P called the Trani prosecutors’ accusations “totally unfounded” and added that the agency will continue to work “without fear”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sequester Hysterics

Peter Ferrara: President Obama is playing you again (and defiling his office as he does so).

(American Spectator) — President Obama told America yesterday morning that if the sequester goes through on March 1,

“It will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research… Emergency responders like the ones who are here today — their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings… So 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. This is not an abstraction — people will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Almost 30,000 Town Hall Pen-Pushers Earn More Than £50,000 When Councils Are Cutting Front Line Services

Almost 30,000 council pen-pushers now earn more than £50,000 a year.

Taxpayers fork out £1.9billion a year on the high salaries, at a time when town halls are cutting frontline services and blaming the Government’s cuts.

Despite the age of austerity, 118 councils have actually increased the number of staff taking home more than £50,000.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Video of the Day: Regulators Squirm When Asked About “Too Big to Jail”

Via Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

This video has been going around for a few days, but wow. Very powerful and could be effective in knocking some sense into more sheeple if it gets spread widely enough. It’s an absolute joke that these people being questioned by Senator Elizabeth Warren are supposed hold the banks to task. I mean this Tom Curry character. I could probably go up to him, take his glasses off his face and walk away and he wouldn’t even notice. Furthermore, those little placards in front of them that state “honorable.” These people have zero honor. The joke’s on us.

She also makes the key point how ordinary citizens are constantly harassed by the “authorities” for what are in many cases petty and victimless crimes, while the bankers who have unleashed more destruction than anyone else, get slaps on the wrist. Every single American should watch this short clip.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

You Won’t Believe Who is Getting Away With Paying Zero Taxes While the Middle Class Gets Hammered

The federal income tax is a bad joke and it needs to be abolished. All over the nation, hard working American families are being absolutely crushed by oppressive levels of taxation, and our politicians are constantlycoming up with new ways to extract money from all of us every single year. Meanwhile, many ultra-wealthy Americans and many of the most profitable corporations in the country pay little to nothing in taxes. In fact, as you will see below, there are dozens of very prominent corporations that make billions of dollars in profits and yet don’t pay a dime in taxes. Tax avoidance has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. Those that have the resources to “play the game” use shell companies, offshore tax havens and the thousands of loopholes in our tax code to minimize their tax burdens as much as possible. Meanwhile, the rest of us get absolutely hammered. This is fundamentally unfair. The federal income tax system is irreversibly broken at this point, and it is time to abolish it. If you think that the federal income tax system can be “fixed”, then you probably have never studied it. Our tax code is nearly 4 million words long and it is absolutely riddled with thousands of loopholes that favor big corporations and the ultra-wealthy. We should come up with a better, fairer way to fund the government. The United States once prospered greatly without a federal income tax, and it could do so again.

Many people simply do not believe that it is possible for corporations inside the United States to make billions of dollars in profits each year and not pay a dime in income taxes.

Well, according to a report put out by Public Campaign, that is exactly what is happening. Posted below are numbers that come directly from their report. 30 large corporations are listed, and 29 of them had a tax burden for 2008 through 2010 that was less than zero even though they all made enormous profits. And all 30 of them spent more on lobbying than they did on taxes.

The numbers that you are about to see are for 2008, 2009 and 2010 combined. For “taxes paid”, please note that for 29 of the corporations a negative number is given. That means that the net tax liability for 2008 through 2010 was actually less than zero.

After seeing these numbers, is there anyone out there that is still willing to claim that our tax system is “fair”?…

[…]

Back in 1950, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue. In 2012, corporate taxes accounted for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

But corporations are not the only ones doing this kind of thing.

The ultra-wealthy have also mastered the art of legally not paying taxes.

As I mentioned in a previous article, it has been reported that the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the globe.

With that amount of money, you could pay off the entire U.S. national debt and still have enough money left over to buy every product and service produced in the United States during an entire year.

It is time to admit that our tax system is broken.

Congress has had decades to fix it, and yet the abuses just keep getting worse.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

2nd Amendment Battle Rages on

Something strange is going on. Federal non-military agencies have bought two billion rounds of ammunition in the last 10 months. The Obama Administration says that federal law enforcement agents need the ammunition for “mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Al Jazeera: Coming to a TV Near You

Seven years after it arrived in the U.S., Al Jazeera is putting up its sign.

As it launches a major expansion to become a full-fledged cable news channel in the U.S., the Qatar-owned network believes animosity toward its sister Arabic-language news operation has waned. Or at least it has dissipated enough to allow Al Jazeera to splash its name across its new Washington broadcast center, which is currently housed in a dingy, unmarked office building.

“Imagine six or seven years ago, trying to find real estate for Al Jazeera in Washington. I’m sure it wasn’t easy,” says Bob Wheelock, a former ABC executive in charge of setting up Al Jazeera America, as the network will be called. But now “we’re going to have signage, you know, just like CBS, ABC, CNN, CBN, just like everybody else,” he says. “We’re psyched.”

With the $500 million purchase of Current TV from former vice president Al Gore and other investors last year, Al Jazeera bought a place on cable boxes in 41 million homes. Now the network plans to grow from a news operation of 13 people to 200 people in cities across the country.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

California Democrat Introduces Bill to Tax Concealed Carry

Rep. Linda Sánchez, a California Democrat with a history of attacks on the Second Amendment, introduced H.R. 793 last week. The proposed legislation calls for an excise tax on concealed carry and a federal buyback program. It is co-sponsored by a number of Democrats in the House, including the notorious gun-grabber Rosa DeLauro.

In January, DeLauro introduced a similar bill, H.R. 226, the Support Assault Firearms Elimination and Reduction for our Streets Act. DeLauro’s bill promised a tax break for gun owners if they turned over their firearms to the government. DeLauro’s bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee.

Democrats around the country have intensified their efforts to rollback the Second Amendment following Obama’s “gun violence” speech on January 16 and the Sandy Hook school shooting in December.

On Tuesday, the Tarrant County Democratic Party in Texas said it wants to run background checks on customers purchasing guns at events held on city property. On Monday, legislators in the Colorado House passed four anti-Second Amendment measures. Also on Monday, Democrats in Minnesota failed to get the Senate to impose a ban on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. A large number of Second Amendment supporters turned out for hearings on gun legislation in the state.

Meanwhile, in Texas, Rep. Steve Toth has proposed legislation that would prevent police from acting on any federal orders to confiscate assault rifles and ammunition magazines. Toth’s proposal would create a Class A misdemeanor for police enforcing any new federal gun regulations and would establish cause for the state attorney general to sue individuals who seek to enforce new federal gun regulations, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Children’s Motrin Causes Seven-Year-Old to Go Blind and Lose 90 Percent of Skin

(NaturalNews) A Plymouth, Mass., teen could be awarded as much as $109 million after losing most of her skin and her vision following a massive allergic reaction to Children’s Motrin when she was seven years old.

The award against the over-the-counter drug’s manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, was granted to Samantha Reckis and her family, reports said, after she suffered a rare but potentially fatal side effect from taking the ibuprofen product that caused her to go blind and have 90 percent of her skin fall off.

Jurors in the case found that Reckis developed Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) after taking the product. The condition, though rare, occurs as a severe allergic reaction to drugs and medications like barbiturates, penicillin and sulphonamides. It causes the top layer of skin, the epidermis, to slough off after detaching from the lower layers. As many as 40 percent of those who are diagnosed with TEN die of complications from infections…

He added that the bottle of Children’s Motrin had only a small technical warning on its label that did not contain information about potential side effects.

In mid-February, a Plymouth court awarded Reckis $63 million after finding that Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn consumers about the potential dangers of taking the children’s ibuprofen product. But she may wind up being awarded even more, including interest, Britain’s Daily Mail reported.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Company Behind Shooting Targets of Children Received $2 Million From DHS

The company behind controversial shooting targets that include images of children, pregnant women and elderly gun owners received almost $2 million dollars in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security…

Retired City of Houston police officer T.F. Stern reacted to the issue by remarking, “There’s something wrong, seriously wrong here. If we start to desensitize law enforcement officers, have them disregard humanity, to feel nothing’s wrong in shooting a pregnant lady or an old man with a shotgun inside his own home…then what kind of society have we become? How will police officers react after they no longer believe they are part of the society which they have been charged with policing, when they have become used to shooting pregnant ladies and old men?”

[Comment: Article has pictures of these desensitization practice targets.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

DHS Supplier Provides Shooting Targets of American Gun Owners

A provider of “realistic” shooting targets to the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies has created a line of “non-traditional threat” targets that include pregnant women, mothers in playgrounds and elderly American gun owners.

The targets include “pregnant woman threat,” “older man with shotgun,” “older man in home with shotgun,” “older woman with gun,” “young school aged girl,” “young mother on playground,” and “little boy with real gun.”

Why are top training target suppliers for the government supplying the likes of the DHS with “non-traditional threat” targets of children, pregnant women, mothers in playgrounds, and elderly American gun owners unless there is a demand for such items?

This is particularly alarming given the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has purchased roughly 2 billion rounds of ammunition over the course of the last year, enough to wage a near 30 year war.

[Comment: Article has pictures of these desensitization practice targets.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Extra-Caffeinated Soda and Chemical Sweeteners for Breakfast? Pepsico Introduces ‘Kickstart’ Soda for People Who Absolutely Hate Themselves

(NaturalNews) Ah, there’s nothing like a heavy dose of caffeine, corn syrup and highly acidic phosphoric acid in the morning. And bringing it to you is none other than PepsiCo, the company that habitually uses aspartame, MSG and GMOs across its product line. Apparently drinking an aspartame-laced, caffeine-spiked soda for lunch and dinner isn’t enough: PepsiCo wants to own your breakfast, too.

This new “Kickstart” soda reportedly is made with 5% juice (meaning it’s 95% corn syrup, phosphoric acid and other ingredients). But here’s where the laughter really begins: According to the FDA, a beverage containing at least 5% juice isn’t considered a “soda.” It’s actually JUICE!

Yep, this means Kickstart can be served to your children in public school, because it’s “not soda” according to the agreement between the FDA and the soda industry.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Father of Two-Year-Old Boy Fires on Three Armed Robbers, Kills Two

Prince Edward sheriff’s deputies are investigating a deadly home invasion that happened early Sunday morning in Prospect. Two of the three suspects are dead, shot by the homeowner in self defense, according to investigators on scene. Meanwhile, the search continues for the third suspect.

This situation began unfolding at about 4:30 a.m. in the 5000 block of Prince Edward Highway, or Route 460. Investigators told NBC12’s Kelly Avellino three unknown men forced their way in the front door of the home, where a man was alone with a 2-year-old child.

According to a press release issued by Sheriff Wesley W. Reed, that man called 911 to report a home invasion and said the suspects were armed. Reed also said gunfire was exchanged between the suspects and the caller.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Feds Buy 2 Billion Rounds of Ammunition

Something strange is going on. Federal non-military agencies have bought two billion rounds of ammunition in the last 10 months. The Obama Administration says that federal law enforcement agents need the ammunition for “mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions.”

Radio show host Mark Levin is suspicious. He commented:

“To provide some perspective, experts estimate that at the peak of the Iraq war American troops were firing around 5.5 million rounds per month. At that rate, the [Department of Homeland Security] is armed now for a 24-year Iraq war. A 24-year Iraq war! I’m going to tell you what I think is going on. I don’t think domestic insurrection. Law enforcement and national security agencies, they play out multiple scenarios. … I’ll tell you what I think they’re simulating: the collapse of our financial system, the collapse of our society and the potential for widespread violence, looting, killing in the streets, because that’s what happens when an economy collapses. I suspect that just in case our fiscal situation, our monetary situation, collapses, and following it the civil society collapses, that is the rule of law, they want to be prepared. I know why the government’s arming up: It’s not because there’s going to be an insurrection; it’s because our society is unraveling.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

First Exoplanet Smaller Than Mercury Discovered

Seismic waves on a star have helped astronomers pin down the smallest known exoplanet. The newly announced world, called Kepler-37b, is not much larger than Earth’s moon, and becomes the first known planet orbiting a sunlike star that is smaller than any in our solar system.

Kepler-37b is one of three new worlds found around Kepler 37, a star slightly cooler than our sun near the constellation Cygnus. Another planet is smaller than Earth, while the third is twice Earth’s size. All three are probably rocky and extremely hot, with no atmosphere or chance of supporting life.

“This shows us the diversity of exoplanetary systems,” says Thomas Barclay at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “We knew there were very large systems — now we know there are very small ones as well.”

The three planets were found with NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which searches for dips in starlight when a planet passes in front of its star, as seen from Earth. The greater the dip, the larger the planet.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Government Certifiable Nincompoops, Part 2

In Part 1 I endeavored to show how Oregon government got into the retirement business and how Article 1, Section 20 of the Oregon Constitution was violated by Oregon’s Governor Earl Snell in 1945 in order to create the public retirement system which has amounted to nothing more than a Ponzi Scheme; however, far too often our elected officials may be dead and buried before problems arise as a result of their unconstitutional ideas and then it is left to a bunch of unethical elected officials who follow in their footsteps enjoying the fruits of the labors of their predecessors and looking forward to their fat retirement checks. To their credit, three Oregon legislators have declined to sign up for PERS but those that have been on PERS are required to stay. Is that like us required to have Obamacare?

Oregon’s Money Match

This little gimmick called Oregon’s Money Match is a pension formula that legislators adopted in the 1950s and one that remains an option for every public employee hired before August 2003. For employees who got in early and rode the stock market boom of the 1990s, it was the deal of a lifetime. Between 1980 and 2007, the stock market delivered an unprecedented boom. But Money Match didn’t stop there. As its name implies, the program doubles a member’s account balance upon retirement, then converts the balance into an annuity based on the retiree’s life expectancy.

The conversion formula generously assumes that as the account is drawn down, the remaining balance continues to earn 8 percent annually. Private sector annuities currently use an ongoing earnings assumption closer to 4.5 percent. To top it all off, if the accounts don’t earn 8 percent, the taxpayers have to pick up the difference…

Oregon had a food services administrator for the Oregon Department of Corrections earning $75,000 per year. He solicited and received bribes and kickbacks from food vendors to the tune of $1.2 million said one reporter on 2/18/2009. She said Oregon is likely to recover little on the dollars from him. He fled to Iran but the state is still obligated to pay his PERS retirement. She added, “this is a loophole you can drive a truck through.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Internet Sales Tax Coming

“All the world should be taxed” — Caesar Augustus

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. — Mark Twain

The power to tax is the power to destroy. — John Marshall — Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

On Thursday, February 14, 2013, Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican from Tennessee, joined fellow lawmakers in reintroducing a bill that would allow all states to require online retailers to collect sales tax just like their “Main Street” rivals.

The idea isn’t a new one. However, a 1992 Supreme Court decision stated that a business must have a physical presence within the state in order for the state to collect sales tax when someone purchases from that business…

Rather than lowering the regulations and costs of doing business within the state, so local businesses can be more competitive with internet businesses, our politicians choose to increase taxes for us! They use the argument of “leveling the playing field,” and the foolish people go along with it!

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Law Enforcement “Requested” Shooting Targets of Pregnant Women

Law Enforcement Targets, Inc., a provider of shooting targets to the Department of Homeland Security, has admitted that targets depicting pregnant women were “requested” by law enforcement agencies.

As you can hear in the YouTube clip above, Blaine Cooper enquired about the company’s “no hesitation” targets, which also feature children, elderly gun owners and mothers in playgrounds, and was told that the target showing a pregnant woman was a “requested law enforcement target for training.”

The representative refused to answer why police would be interested in training to shoot pregnant women, but went on to explain, “unfortunately our world is made up of people, pregnant or otherwise, that are gun owners not for the right reasons,” adding that the targets were to “train police officers”.

[Comment: Article has pictures of these desensitization practice targets.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Maryland County Bans Gun Shows

WASHINGTON — A decision by a Maryland county is roiling the already contentious debate over potential gun control laws.

Prince George’s County’s Department of Parks and Recreation is banning gun shows indefinitely.

“It is a temporary moratorium. We will revisit this,” says Anita Pesses with the agency’s Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. “We are taking everybody’s opinions and actions into account.”

Pesses is promising the department will re-evaluate its decision after lawmakers in D.C. and Annapolis are done debating possible gun control bills.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Moderate Muslim Calls for Battle With Jihadists

Says all citizens are equally protected ‘under God,’ not ‘under Islam’

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 Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, is the third part of the series of a three-part 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. In part two, Catholic psychologist William Kilpatrick warned Islam calls for the subjugation of Christians.

“Freedom-loving Muslims must help America and the free world fight against Islamists and jihadists.”

That comes from a Muslim, Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and author of the book “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith.”

It’s his appeal to Muslim Americans and all Americans to fight political Islam.

“The only way for Islamists to abort their dream of a theocracy under their version of Islam is for them to be overwhelmed with a better vision — a better interpretation — of an Islam and our Quran based in liberty: an Islam that articulates and defends pluralism, tolerance, free speech, free markets and all the other fruits of a free society where all citizens are equally protected ‘under God,’ not ‘under Islam’ — an Islam that rests at home with the freedoms that Americans claim as their birthright and will defend at all costs,” he told WND…

Essentially, he warned against the Islamization of America and cautioned: “One of the most profound results we have seen from this national discussion is the important recognition that American Muslims are not a monolithic community that shares one set of values and one single voice. American Muslims are very diverse in our ideological structure and many, if not most, of us do not support the victimization and denial mantra that has been defining our communities for decades.”

However, Jasser believes Muslim citizens and immigrants are highly susceptible to Islamist propaganda. He’s deeply concerned at Al Gore’s sale of his Current TV network to “anti-American” Al Jazeera, which broadcasts to its Arabic-speaking audiences the “Shariah and Life” show hosted by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Sunni Muslim cleric who calls for the crucifixion of those who leave Islam.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

N.Y. Bill Would Force Gun Owners to Buy at Least $1m in Insurance

A bill introduced in the New York State Assembly by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, a Democrat, would require the state’s residents to acquire liability insurance as a condition for gun ownership.

“Any person in this state who shall own a firearm shall, prior to such ownership, obtain and continuously maintain a policy of liability insurance in an amount not less than one million dollars specifically covering any damages resulting from any negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person,” the measure, dubbed S2353, reads.

Any person who has not purchased insurance in compliance with the law within 30 days of its passing would be in violation of the law.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

New Cancer ‘Wonder’ Drugs Trigger Cancer Spread to Bones

(NaturalNews) Most cancer drugs are used to hopefully kill tumors and keep malignancies from spreading. Unfortunately, new research from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis raises serious concerns that Big Pharma’s highly touted class of cancer drugs known as IAP antagonists actually increases the risk of tumors spreading to bone.

“These investigational drugs are getting broad attention right now because they seem to be very effective against primary tumors,” senior author Deborah V. Novack, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine, said in a media statement “There is also excitement because until now, these drugs have not appeared to have major side effects.”

Numerous IAP antagonists are already in early clinical trials against breast, lung, pancreatic, ovarian, prostate, liver, skin and blood cancers. While these phase one or two clinical trials look at the short-term safety and effectiveness of new drugs, the researchers say they may not catch bone metastasis. “These trials do not necessarily look for long-term effects of the drugs,” Chang Yang, MD, PhD, staff scientist and the paper’s first author said in the press statement. “If the cancer is going to metastasize to bone, it may take six months to two years to see that outcome. This may not be seen during the clinical trial.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Moves to Authorize Domestic Drone Strikes

The Department of Homeland Security recently advanced a plan to deploy “public safety” drones in the skies over America, an action Congress authorized last year and called for the deployment of 30,000 drone surveillance vehicles by 2020.

While DHS head Janet Napolitano says the primary mission for domestic drones is for situational awareness in “large public safety [matters] or disasters”, President Obama may have a different idea for how best to implement this next generation of frightening surveillance technology.

Well known for his obsession with remote drone attacks, reportedly going so far as to personally sit in on unmanned aerial vehicle missions, the President was recently asked about concerns from American citizens about the possibility of extra-judicial military drone strikes within the borders of the United States.

One can only conclude that military and law enforcement drone strikes will soon be business as usual, and likely the preferred method for dealing with, as the Patriot Act outlines, those who “intimidate or coerce the civilian population” or attempt to “influence government policy” — pretty much anyone who disagrees with what the government is doing.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Police Claim Lanza in “Direct Competition” With Norwegian Shooter Breivik

The establishment media is keeping the Sandy Hook shooting story alive as Democrats scurry to force through legislation outlawing semiautomatic firearms the government considers military assault weapons.

On Tuesday, CBS News reported that police in Connecticut say the suspected shooter, Adam Lanza, “was in direct competition with Norwegian mass-shooter Anders Breivik” and “was motivated by violent video games and a goal of killing more ‘easiest targets’ than the 77 people killed by Breivik near Oslo in July 2011.”

After killing 77 people in Oslo in 2011, Breivik was described as a xenophobe “Nordicist” who hates Muslims and multiculturalism. “The murderer from Norway did not, it would seem, come out of nowhere,” commented Der Spielgel. “Rather, he had found an ideological home among those seeking to cleanse Europe of Islam and multi-culturalism.” Following his rampage targeting white Norwegians, the corporate media linked him to nationalist political parties in Britain.

Lanza, on the other hand, was described as a recluse suffering from Asperger syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. It is said he also played video games obsessively, including Call of Duty and Starcraft, according to corporate media accounts.

Both federal and state governments have exploited the Sandy Hook shooting and Lanza’s purported mental illness to push legislation outlawing an entire class of firearms and mandating mental health screening for firearms owners and purchasers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Prominent American Scientists Call for Eco-Dictatorship Under UN Rule

Upcoming Scientific Publication: “[…] governments can and even should move beyond existent levels of public permission in order to shift norms, allowing public sentiment to later catch up with the regulation.”

In a peer-reviewed paper by the American Institute of Biological Sciences titled “Social Norms and Global Environmental Challenges” (available ahead of print), to be published in the march 2013 edition of the Institute’s yearly journal BioScience, a group of well-known scientists calls on government and scientists to start with the planned social engineering of “norms” and “values” in regards to environmental policies. In addition, they propose putting into effect all sorts of environmental fines and regulations in the spirit of Agenda 21 to hasten the social acceptance of increased governmental control. Also, they propose that the scientific community as a whole should align itself with government “through a concerted effort to change personal and social norms”…

In other words: the scientists propose arousing the concept of cognitive dissonance in the minds of people in order to guide the herd towards “proenvironmental” citizenship.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Saudis Influencing Fox News

In the following interview, RadicalIslam.org National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro speaks to Diana West, a nationally syndicated conservative American columnist and author, about the impact of the partial ownership of Fox news by Saudi Prince Alwaleed.

Ryan Mauro: You have devoted a lot of your time towards covering Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. Can you tell us about him and why he warrants this attention?

Diana West: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is usually described as a billionaire Saudi businessman, but he is also a senior member of the Saudi monarchy. He is the nephew of the Saudi dictator, King Abdullah, and the first cousin of the Saudi interior minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. He is also the largest stakeholder in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. outside the Murdoch family.

We may not realize it, but most of us first heard about Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in the immediate aftermath 9/11. That was when a “Saudi prince” — it was Alwaleed — became infamous for having donated $10 million to the Twin Towers Fund only to have then-mayor Rudy Giuliani return the check.

Why did Giuliani return the check? It became clear the prince wasn’t making a donation but rather a political statement. After presenting the money, the prince issued a press release blaming the 9/11 attacks on American support for Israel — while, as Alwaleed’s statement read, “our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of the Israelis.”

As the San Francisco Chronicle reported at the

NY City Mayor during the 9/11 attack Rudolph Giuliani time, Giuliani hadn’t seen see this press release when he initially accepted the Saudi check among others from government and private industry leaders. In a separate letter Guliani did read, Alwaleed had expressed only condolences for “the loss of life that the city of New York has suffered,” while condemning “all forms of terrorism.” The Saudi prince wrote: “In doing so I am reiterating Saudi Arabia’s strong stance against these tragic and horrendous acts.”

That was fine. It was the press release attached to the letter that was not fine. This statement, also in Alwaleed’s name, sought to blame U.S. policy on “the Palestinian cause” for the attack. It said:

“However, at times like this one, we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack. I believe the government of the United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.

“Our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek.”

The Chronicle report continued:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]

Second Amendment is Not Up for Debate

“Never trust a government that doesn’t trust its own citizens with guns.” — Benjamin Franklin

After the president, with help from his fraternizers in the deceptive state-run media, somehow won his re-election campaign, I thought it was important to note the first thing Obama and his administration did was turn its attention to the United Nations gun treaty talks.

Hmm, I wonder … If he really had the support of the American people, why is he so busy trying to disarm those who supposedly love him so much?

And all the while Obama and his administration are busy trying to disarm the American people by conjuring up criminals guilty of some sort of gun crimes as an excuse for new gun legislation.

Well, then, let me help: This administration need not look any further than within its own ranks.

And this, friends, is the very reason we are an armed people.

As you know, Attorney General Eric Holder is guilty of putting thousands of assault rifles (AK-47s) into the hands of Mexican drug lords in an attempt to blame the American people for the crimes administration officials are guilty of contriving and committing. As a result, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed, along with hundreds of Mexican civilians, including teens at a birthday party and a Mexican beauty queen.

The state-run media conveniently pulled a media blackout on Fast and Furious, and some Americans gave them a pass and have “forgotten” the atrocities committed upon them by their own government, therefore strengthening tyranny so it might assault the people again on a later date.

Holder has been contriving a gun grab for years. For those who didn’t know, it recently came to light that Holder encouraged the media to “brainwash” the youth about how bad guns are when he was a part of Clinton’s anti-gun administration. (VIDEO)

What is interesting here is that the young, through Hollywood and video games, are conveniently taught a “thug” mentality and how to commit crimes. In the meantime, corrupt politicians await to trample the Constitution and legislate new policies to disarm the American population, leaving them defenseless when the crimes are committed.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sheriff Warns of “Second American Revolution” If Gun Grabbers Get Their Way

Speaking on the Alex Jones Show yesterday, the Sheriff hit home his opinions on the gun control proposals that are being pushed via presidential executive orders.

“First of all, to me that would be an act of tyranny. So the people in Milwaukee County do not have to worry about me enforcing some sort of order that goes out and collects everybody’s handgun, or rifles, or any kind of firearm and makes them turn them in.” Clarke said.

“The reason is I don’t want to get shot, because I believe that if somebody tried to enforce something of that magnitude, you would see the second coming of an American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison.” the Sheriff urged…

Asked why he believed such strict measures were being pushed by the Obama administration at this time, the Sheriff pointed toward a general push for increased governmental control over society.

“Government control cannot go on as long as people have some sort of ability to say ‘hey wait just a doggone minute’.” The Sheriff told listeners. “That’s what the government fears, they don’t really fear the criminals, they support the criminals. What they fear is a law abiding person.” he added.

“Read the Declaration of Independence, it’s right there where a law abiding people say ‘enough is enough, you are exerting too much influence in our lives, this is tyrannical and we’re going to stop it,’ that’s what they are worried about.” he concluded.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sheriffs Can ‘Inspect’ Homes for Gun Storage Under Democrat Bill

Is this just the beginning? Not only is Big Brother watching, but if the Democrats in Washington State have their way, sheriffs will have the power to “inspect” homes to make sure people are storing their firearms properly. What’s next?

As reported in The Washington Times, the bill “would allow local sheriffs to enter homes of gun owners to ensure their weapons are properly stored.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Affordable Care Act Nobody Can Afford

I was just handed the Phreesia computer tablet by the receptionist under the guise of updating my medical and insurance information. I had seen this orange notebook in another doctor’s office and I became suspicious. Is this really meant to verify, as the website claims, my insurance eligibility automatically and help doctors collect on their insurance while easing the load of paperwork? Or is it forced electronic data compliance to Obamacare?

As soon as I started reading each screen, I realized that it was asking me to consent to third parties to obtain my medication prescription history from my pharmacy and to my entire medical history.

I had the right to request and restrict as to how my protected health information was used or disclosed. However, when I declined to sign, the computer stopped, and prompted me to talk to the receptionist. She informed me that diagnosis and/or treatment “may be conditioned upon my consent.”

The electronic screen and the paper copy the receptionist gave me said, “The [name withheld] is not required to agree to the restrictions that I may request and may refuse treatment based on my restriction as permitted by Section 164.506 of the Code of Federal Regulations.”

Suddenly, because I refused the IRS and HHS meddling in my personal health affairs, I had become persona-non-grata (unwanted person) to my doctor who had sworn a Hippocratic Oath to care for me and any patient who comes across his/her path…

The cheapest category of Obamacare is the Bronze Plan which costs $20,000 per year for a family of two adults and three children and it pays only 60% of medical costs after the deductibles for the year have been met. And the deductibles are high per person and per family. The following tiers are Silver (70%), Gold (80%), and Platinum (90%).

During my 30-year teaching career, I seldom had to pay more than $3,600 a year premium for private insurance for my family. Even a retirement private plan did not cost more than $8,000 per year with 80% reimbursement as opposed to only 60% reimbursement under the Obamacare Bronze Plan. Is Obamacare really affordable? The answer is a resounding no.

[…]

More than $719 billion will be taken from Medicare over the next ten years to pay for Obamacare. According to Rep. Wally Herger, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, the Independent Payment Advisory Board established by Obamacare is authorized to unilaterally impose price controls and de facto rationing of medical care.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.S. Air Force Developing Terrifying Swarms of Tiny Unmanned Drones

The U.S. Air Force is developing tiny unmanned drones that will fly in swarms, hover like bees, crawl like spiders and even sneak up on unsuspecting targets and execute them with lethal precision.

The Air Vehicles Directorate, a research arm of the Air Force, has released a computer-animated video outlining the the future capabilities of Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs). The project promises to revolutionize war by down-sizing the combatants.

‘MAVs will become a vital element in the ever-changing war-fighting environment and will help ensure success on the battlefield of the future,’ the narrator intones.

‘Unobtrusive, pervasive, lethal — Micro Air Vehicles, enhancing the capabilities of the future war fighter.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.S. Muslims Suddenly Come to Jesus’ Defense

Blasting NBC for airing gun-packin’ Christ bent on vengeance

A “Saturday Night Live” spoof Feb. 16, 2013, had the risen Jesus going on a bloody mission of vengeance against the Romans who executed Him.

A “Saturday Night Live” spoof featuring the risen Jesus Christ going on a bloodthirsty, gun-packing vengeance mission is now being blasted by some American Muslims, who call it insulting to both Christians and Muslims worldwide…

“Such misrepresentation of what Jesus, peace be upon him, stands for is extremely offensive to Muslims and to all those who believe in his message,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“While we understand the use of shocking imagery and bizarre juxtapositions to provoke a humorous response, we believe such a distasteful portrayal of a religious figure revered by billions of Muslims and Christians worldwide crosses the comedic line.

“We strongly support free speech rights for all, but one would hope that common decency and respect for the beliefs of others would help avoid such unfortunate depictions.”

Awad noted many people are unaware that Muslims revere and love Jesus as one of God’s greatest messengers, and that every time Muslims mention Jesus’ name, they add “peace be upon him.”

Islam’s holy book, the Quran, states: “Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! God gives thee glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those nearest to God.’“ (3:45)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Ten Year Old Arrested for Toy Gun Has Probation Officer, Lawyers and Second Court Date

A ten year old Virginia boy who was arrested earlier this month for taking a plastic toy gun to school is facing a potentially permanent criminal record over the incident.

The boy, who remains unnamed by the media, hit headlines after Douglas MacArthur Elementary School officials searched his bag and found an orange tipped plastic toy gun, following complaints from parents who said their children had seen the boy playing with the fake firearm on the school bus.

Instead of exercising common sense, the school officials called the police, and the boy was taken into custody.

[Comment: Yet another example of Pavlovian conditioning.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

WWE Creates Racist Wrestler to Demonize Tea Party

Why are we getting so wound up about a wrestling gimmick? WWE programming reaches 14 million Americans every week — and millions more worldwide. To put it in context — that’s more than 10 times the amount of viewers who watch America’s top rated news show, The O’Reilly Factor.

This follows the relentless campaign on behalf of the federal government, via the MIAC report, via the Department of Homeland Security and others to portray Americans who oppose big government as domestic extremists and even terrorists.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Chinese Businessman Wanted for ‘Slaughtering Family of Four’ Extradited to the UK After 14 Months on the Run in Morocco

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

A Chinese businessman wanted by police for the murders of a family of four has been extradited to the UK.

Anxiang Du was arrested in Morocco last year on suspicion of killing university lecturer Jifeng ‘Jeff’ Ding, his wife Ge ‘Helen’ Chui and their two daughters Alice, 12, and Xing, 18.

He had been on the run for 14 months in Morocco where he was found working on a building site and sleeping rough in a half-built block of flats.

Mr Du, from Coventry, worked at a herbal medicine shop in Birmingham but disappeared the day after losing a court battle over his shared business interests with the Ding family.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

France Leads the World in Nationals Held Hostage

France now has the most nationals held hostage in the world, following the kidnapping of an entire French family holidaying in Cameroon on Tuesday. The number of French citizens held in Africa now stands at 15.

The kidnapping of a family holidaying in north Cameroon has brought the total number of French nationals being held hostage abroad to 15. All of them have been taken in Africa over the past three years.

The latest incident makes France the country with the highest number of citizens held hostage in the world, according to the terrorist watchdog IntelCenter. The United States, which comes in second on this inauspicious list, has nine citizens in the hands of hostage-takers worldwide.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Friends of Bear M13 Express Outrage on Facebook Over Death

Animal just out of hibernation killed by wildlife authorities

(ANSA) — Bolzano, February 20 — A vast following on Facebook and a string of petitions were not enough to save EmmeTredici (M13), the popular brown bear being followed by wildlife authorities for months in the mountains straddling Switzerland and Italy.

The young bear, tagged with an electronic tracking device, has been targeted as a menace by Swiss rangers since he broke a window and crawled into an unoccupied cabin near the mountain town of Poschiavo in Switzerland close to the Italian border last November.

The bear, who usually lives on the Italian side of the region, had just come out of hibernation in the Swiss canton of Graabuchen or Grisons (Grigioni in Italian) on Tuesday when wildlife authorities killed him citing him a nuisance for his “lack of inhibition when near inhabited areas”.

Last week, the bear’s brother, M14, was killed when hit on the Italian side of the border by an SUV.

Fans on Emme Tredici’s (M13) Facebook page who previously pleaded for the bear to cross back over into Italian territory have left hundreds of messages mourning his death.

“I hope one of the Bern bears escapes and runs amok in the criminal court house…to deal a real blow of justice,” said one fan on the social network.

The Facebook page’s banner with a picture of M13 in a tree has been replaced with a bloody paw print.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Germany’s Opting Out of Nuclear Energy Will Cost 1000 Bln

(AGI) — Berlin, Feb. 20 — Germany’s opting out of nuclear energy could cost up to 1000 billion euros.

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

Italian Tax Collectors Against ‘Being Used in Campaign’

Politicians who wrote tax law ‘acting hypocritically’

(ANSA) — Rome, February 20 — Unions representing workers at Italian tax collection agency Equitalia slammed campaigning politicians Wednesday for denouncing the tax laws that those same politicians wrote.

They say front-line tax workers already suffer enormous abuse and personal attacks in applying laws written by politicians who are now whipping up hostility towards the tax agency for political gain.

“All must be aware that these statements are irresponsible and the resonance that some newspapers give them are the breeding ground that stimulates the recurrence of those violent criminal” acts against tax workers and their offices, said the statement signed by unions including Dircredito, Fabi, Fiba, Fisac, Sinfub, UGL Credito and Uilca.

Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, who served for three separate terms of office, has been particularly vocal in denouncing Italian tax laws during the campaign leading to the national vote on Sunday and Monday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: M5S Claims to be the Country’s Biggest Party

(AGI) — Milan, Feb 19 — Addressing supporters in Milan on Tuesday, M5S leader Beppe Grillo said his movement is “Italy’s strongest political party.” .

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

Italy: Berlusconi Urges Citizens Not to Vote for Monti or M5S

(AGI) Rome, Feb 19 — Centre-right coalition leader Silvio Berlusconi, speaking on the Tg1 news, said, “voting for Monti, Fini and Casini drains votes from the moderate coalition. Monti and his men have already promised to cooperate with the left.

Voting for Grillo would be a leap into darkness, for his list includes No-Tav and social club rioters”. Berlusconi promised to cut public spending by two percent. “That would allow us to save 16 billion euros a year, eight of which could be allocated to low-income households and eight to businesses, so as to abolish the IRAP tax on productive activities”.

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

Italy: Beppe Grillo: The Europhobe Comet

Linkiesta Milan

Just a few days ahead of the February 24 and 25 elections, the Italian media are ignoring the success of the former comic and self-declared populist. However, according to the polls, Grillo and Berlusconi could give rise to an unprecedented coalition of anti-Europeans.

Massimiliano Gallo

Interviewed a few days ago on a popular TV show, outgoing prime minister Mario Monti admitted he did not know how to use Twitter, or what Fifty Shades of Grey referred to, while carefully avoiding talk of civil partnerships, and passing quickly over the San Remo Song Festival.

At the same time, the former comedian and founder of the Five Star Movement (M5S) Beppe Grillo was haranguing a crowd in Marghera near Venice. In the crowd were ordinary people, embodying the problems and anxieties of everyday life: work, childcare, motherhood, the difficulties SME owners face. Wrapped up in hats and coats, they stood there in the cold, in great numbers, from the afternoon into the evening, listening to Grillo and others who came out onto the platform.

And yet the next day neither La Repubblica nor Corriere della Sera devoted a single line to Beppe Grillo. As if he does not exist. But they’ll get a rude awakening. [Since then, the two most widely read newspapers in Italy have devoted several articles to the candidate’s breakthrough in the polls.]

Something is going on in Italy. Is this movement good or bad? Of course, we can discuss that. But either way it is a major phenomenon. The Five Star Movement is standing at 17 per cent in the polls, a figure that very few parties in Italy have been able to get past.

“We will open up Parliament like a can of tuna,” Grillo declares. And the crowd goes wild. “The era of representation is finished. We no longer believe in it. We will break the bank. And if not today, then a year from now. It’s just a matter of time. And really, we may just get there today.” Beppe Grillo never stops. “Populists? Yes, we are populist — and let them hear it!” And the crowd chants aloud: “Po-pu-li-sti!”

Treated like a little dictator

The “Tsunami Tour”, as he has named it, recalls old-fashioned politics, but also the kind adopted by a certain Barack Obama — who knows how to use Twitter (and how!). And who certainly knows about the existence of Fifty Shades of Grey, if he has not already read it. Because it is obvious that as long as you do not come down to the street, you do not exist, and you have no credibility…

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

Italy: Beppe Grillo Says an M5S Government Would Review All Pacts

Movement ‘will question every treaty and European decision’

(ANSA) — Rome, February 20 — Every international treaty signed by Italy will be under scrutiny if the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) is elected in the upcoming national vote, leader Beppe Grillo said Wednesday.

From treaties on fishing to Italy’s role in the NATO-led forces in Afghanistan to agriculture and trade pacts — all will be up for debate if the M5S wins on Sunday and Monday, Grillo, who founded the M5S but is not running for election himself, said in an interview with Euronews. “M5S will question every treaty and European decision,” said Grillo, a comedian whose movement was third in the most recent polls. International financial institutions should also take note — Grillo said his party would renegotiate Italy’s debt.

On trade policy, Grillo suggested that Italy has given away too much control over its food industry and allowed too many foreign exporters to compete here.

“I want to take my sovereignty…too much distribution is in the hands of the French,” said Grillo.

“They come here to sell French milk, French cheeses; here, in the land of cheese and milk”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Left-Wing Opponent Files Complaint on Berlusconi IMU Letter

Refund pledge by ex-premier amounts to ‘scam’, says Mascia

(ANSA) — Rome, February 20 — Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi is trying to buy votes with taxpayers’ dollars, a political opponent from the left-wing Civic Revolution party said in a formal complaint filed to prosecutors Wednesday.

In a statement to prosecutors, Gianfranco Mascia — a candidate for the regional council in Lazio province — charges that Berlusconi’s campaign promise to refund a hated housing tax if elected next week amounts to money for votes.

Berlusconi, who founded the People of Freedom (PdL) party, has promised that if elected on Sunday and Monday, he would rollback an IMU housing tax introduced in 2012 by caretaker premier Mario Monti.

He also promised to refund four billion of euros collected in the tax.

That’s bribery, says Mascia, a member of the Civic Revolution party headed by prosecutor Antonio Ingroia.

“To obtain a refund for (the housing tax) IMU 2012, you have to vote for the PdL”.

He also complained that Berlusconi’s campaign mail-outs to Italian homes amount to a “scam” because the envelopes, bearing a signed letter from Berlusconi, claim to contain an IMU refund.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bersani Willing to Buy and Sell Votes, MPS, Says Maroni

(AGI) — Milan, Feb 20 — ‘Scouting’ means buying and selling votes and parliamentary delegates, said the Northern League’s Roberto Maroni. He was commenting on Pierluigi Bersani, who said he was ready to do some ‘scouting’ with Grilli’s parliamentary delegates after the elections.

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

Monti Backs Bonino to Become Italian President

Napolitano’s term as head of state ends in April

(ANSA) — Rome, February 20 — Outgoing Italian Premier Mario Monti said Wednesday that he was backing Emma Bonino, who, like him, is a former European commissioner, to become Italy’s next president.

One of the first jobs of the new parliament that will be elected in Sunday and Monday’s vote will be to vote in a new head of state as President Giorgio Napolitano’s seven-year term ends in April.

Bonino, 64, is a leading member of the small Radical party that promotes economic and social liberalism and champions human-rights issues.

She was the European commissioner for health and consumer protection from 1995 to 1999. “Emma Bonino would be a very good candidate for the Quirinale (the presidential palace),” said Monti.

“We did an excellent job together in the European Commission. She is one of those people who you would like to have more of”. Last week Monti said it would be a “great idea” to vote a woman as next Italian president.

He added he was happy he had named three women to key posts in the government 15 months ago, at justice, interior and labour.

Italy has never had a woman premier or president.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Dinner Lady Sacked for Serving Muslim Children With Non-Halal Meat at Multi-Faith School

A dinner lady has been sacked for accidentally serving non-halal meat to Muslim students at a multi-faith school.

The incident outraged parents at the ‘halal-only’ Moseley School in Birmingham, and they have forced the headmaster to apologise for ‘insulting’ their faith.

The member of staff has been dismissed after the ‘unintentional error’ on December 12 last year recently came to light.

All 1,400 students at Moseley school are served halal meat, regardless of their religion.

It has not been specified what type of meat was served, but the person responsible for serving the food was dismissed following a disciplinary hearing last Monday.

Parents were informed of the mistake this month, and reacted with outrage, forcing headteacher Carl Jansen to apologise for the ‘unintentional error’.

However, Muslim parents are demanding others be held accountable for the mistake, which they say call ‘an insult to our faith’.

‘The school have failed the children,’ one parent said yesterday. ‘How did this meal get into the school system to be fed to the children?

‘It’s just shocking that dietary requirements haven’t been met.’

‘It is a disgrace that this could be allowed to happen and we demand more action is take,’ a father of a sixth form student said yesterday.

‘It could not just be the error or one lady, there must be people at the top responsible too who also need to be sacked. It is an insult to our faith.’

Not all parents have taken the news with the same shock, saying the dinner lady should not have been sacked over a mistake.

‘It’s a little bit harsh to sack somebody because of one little mistake,’ father-of-three Barry Jackman said.

‘Yes, we have to respect religions and standards which are expected — but it was a one-off and surely the lady doesn’t deserve to lose her job.’

The details of the non-halal school dinner only came to light last month, when provider Birmingham council department Direct Services confirmed the mistake.

Sheila Walker, head of Direct Services, said: ‘This was found to be due to an error and was unintentional, nevertheless, we have failed to ensure the integrity of Halal only food at Moseley School.’

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson added: ‘We of course apologise for any concerns this has caused.’

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]

US Boss to France: ‘Keep Your So-Called Workers’

The chief executive of a US tyre company has delivered a crushing summary of how some outsiders view France’s work ethic in a letter saying he would have to be stupid to take over a factory whose staff only put in three hours work a day.

Titan International’s Maurice “Morry” Taylor, who goes by “The Grizz” for his bear-like no-nonsense style, told France’s left-wing industry minister in a letter published by Paris media that he had no interest in buying a doomed plant.

“The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three,” Mr Taylor wrote on February 8 in the letter in English addressed to the minister, Arnaud Montebourg.

“I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!” Taylor added in the letter, which was posted by business daily Les Echos on its website yesterday and which the ministry confirmed was genuine.

“How stupid do you think we are?” he asked at one point.

“Titan is going to buy a Chinese tyre company or an Indian one, pay less than €1 per hour wage and ship all the tyres France needs,” he said. “You can keep the so-called workers.”

As the leaked letter drew outrage in France, Mr Montebourg penned a scathing response, spelling out the reasons why France routinely ranks as a leading destination for companies to invest, beating China and India in mid-2012.

“Can I remind you that Titan, the business you run, is 20 times smaller than Michelin, the French [tyre] technology leader with international influence, and 35 times less profitable,” Mr Montebourg wrote, in a two-page letter in French.

“This just shows the extent to which Titan could have learned and gained, enormously, from a presence in France.”

“Your extremist insults display a perfect ignorance of what our country is about,” the minister said.

“Be assured that you can count on me to inspect your tyre imports with a redoubled zeal,” he added.

In his letter, Mr Montebourg said Mr Taylor’s comments were, “as extremist as they are insulting”, illustrated his ignorance of France.

Union leaders also reacted furiously. CGT official Mickael Wamen said Mr Taylor belonged more “in an asylum” than in the boardroom of a multinational and noted his views were based on a visit to a troubled plant whose operations had been cut back.

He said the union was planning to file a lawsuit in the United States against Goodyear and Titan over the closure of the plant…

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]

Srdja Trifkovic: “The ICC is the Enemy of Liberty”

from Srdja Trifkovic’s RTTV Interview, February 18, 2013

[scroll down for the full video]

RTTV: UN investigators say that both sides in the conflict in Syria are committing war crimes. This comes as former UN Prosecutor Carla del Ponte said that the International Criminal Court should launch an investigation into the war crimes in the country. We now talk to Srdja Trifkovic, Foreign Affairs Editor at Chronicles magazine, who is in the Serbian capital Belgrade. UN investigators called on those responsible for the murders in Syria to face justice in the International Criminal Court. What is your take on the situation? Is Syria a place where the ICC needs to be involved to get the job done?

ST: I would say that the ICC is not the forum for any country to see justice done. It’s a very peculiar institution. It is outside any constitutional design that delineates how laws are made, adjudicated, enforced, or made accountable.In the ICC’s central structures such checks are either greatly attenuated or entirely absent. In that sense, the ICC is modeled upon The Hague Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The prosecutor is effectively accountable to no one—and, like in the Yugoslav war tribunal, he answers to no superior executive power, elected or unelected. The power of the ICC prosecutor to act without third-party restraint, and to claim universal jurisdiction, offers the scope for considerable legal creativity—and that creativity depends on the will of the political masters. Ultimately, it is a political court. The foundation of the entire edifice is the ideology of universal political and legal culture for the whole world as defined by the postmodern West—and again, we’ve seen this with the Yugoslav Tribunal at The Hague, and I was there less than two weeks ago, where I testified for the third time. To cut the long story short, the ICC is the enemy of liberty as understood and practiced by the Western institutions since the Enlightenment. The moral absolutism at the core of the ICC is immoral.

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic [Return to headlines]

Trifkovic, Fleming, and Chronicles on Trial at the Hague

by Srdja Trifkovic

Last week I testified, for the third time in a decade, before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague. I appeared as a defense witness in the trial of Radovan Karadzic. Just like on the occasion of my previous testimony, the prosecutor paid scant attention to the substance of my statements. He focused instead on trying to undermine my credibility with a host of quotes—taken out of context—from my writings, public speeches and interviews spanning some 17 years. The novelty this time was the prosecutor’s attempt to make me appear additionally “extreme” by establishing my guilt by association with The Rockford Institute and its President.

The essence of my testimony was that Dr. Karadzic and the Bosnian Serb political leadership did not have any clear idea of the events in Srebrenica in the second week of July 1995. Being on the spot at Pale, I saw with my own eyes that they were unable to establish radio or telephone connection with General Mladic and other key military commanders in the field—let alone to exercise any meaningful authority over them:

Dr. Trifkovic met with Dr. Karadzic on 13th of July, 1995 [from 5 until 6:40 pm]. While in his office, Dr. Karadzic was trying to make a telephone connection with the VRS [Bosnian Serb Army] headquarters in Han Pijesak but was told the line was down. Dr. Trifkovic is sure that Dr. Karadzic did not speak to General Mladic during this meeting but with someone from the VRS command. When Dr. Karadzic picked up the phone, Dr. Trifkovic picked up the receiver that was connected to the same line in order to ask General Mladic for a statement that he could quote in his media appearances, but on the other side of the line was not General Mladic but an officer from the VRS headquarters who informed Karadzic about situation in Srebrenica. Dr. Karadzic then turned on the speakerphone so that other guests could hear what was discussed. During this conversation, Dr. Karadzic was insistent that civilians not be mistreated and the conduct of the Serbs in Srebrenica be above reproach so that this could not be used against the Serbs in media.

That much was stated under oath, and it is true. Unable to dispute, disprove, or contradict my testimony in any meaningful manner, Mr. Vanderpuye—for the Prosecution—went ad hominem:…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic [Return to headlines]

Obama and the Leftist Infiltration of Israeli Media

In case anyone had any doubt, the Leftists have been busy little Marxists in Israel — that includes Obama. NGO Monitor just released its latest report on foreign government funding of radical political Israeli NGOs which are working in earnest to undermine Israel’ s international standing and subvert Israeli society. Most people assume that the financiers of anti-Jew propaganda are Europeans. Well, they now are brothers in arms with the US government. American taxpayers are actively funding (without their knowledge) political campaigns against Israel and her citizens. It is a subversive technique to force Israel to go back to the 1967 borders and grant a Palestinian state. More to the point, the money is going towards the destruction of Israel and for the first time that I know of, the US is backing it monetarily and behind the scenes.

Obama actively meddled in Israel’ s recent elections. Now, the US is funneling funds to at least three radical Leftist Israeli NGOs. And with this funding, the Progressive/Marxists are seizing full control of Israel’ s media. It would seem that Israel is losing to the enemies within, just as America is. It’ s another stealth coup in the making.

Let’ s look at the three NGOs who stand out the most:…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gulf: ME Countries Gather at IDEX Military Trade Fair

Italian companies sell warships, helicopters and more

Opening of IDEX in Abu Dhabi

(ANSAmed) — ABU DHABI — Reflecting increased defense spending in the Middle East, a total of 58 countries are exhibiting at the 13th IDEX military trade fair being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital from February 17-21.

The salon also includes the second edition of maritime security trade fair NAVDEX, which since its inception has gone from 15 to 80 participating countries.

Defense spending in the Middle East is estimated at more than $100 billion over the next three years, 80% of which is concentrated in the Gulf oil monarchies of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, as well as Jordan. The numbers reflect the regional need to control borders and protect strategic infrastructure, such as oil rigs and desalinization plants guaranteeing the fresh water supply in what is one of the globe’s most arid areas.

They also reflect area countries’ aim to switch from being importers to being exporters, according to Humaid al-Shimmari, aerospace development director at the Mubadala Development Company, the UAE’s investment arm. “Over the next 3-5 years, we will be independent enough to become exporters in the region,” Shimmari said of the seven Mubadala companies.

Also present at the fair is Italy, which is cooperating closely with the emirates in the defense industry sector, Italian Ambassador Giorgio Starace pointed out. Italian corvette Comandante Cigala Fulgosi is on the Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, following its recent military exercises in the Arabian Sea with the Bahraini and US fleets. Also on display are the last two warships delivered by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to the UAE navy: the corvette “Abu Dhabi” and the “Ghantout” patrol craft. Fincantieri is also one of the partners in the Etihad Ship Building (ESB) joint venture. Its role is to expand local shipyards so they can build ships more than 30 meters long, and to manage modernization and refitting operations.

Also at IDEX is Italian aerospace company Alenia Aermacchi, which finalized a deal with Mubadala affiliate Strata Manufacturing in conjunction with Anglo-Italian helicopter company AugustaWestland, which sells 25% of all AW139 helicopters in the Middle East.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: 53 Ethiopian Christians Arrested for Praying in a Private Home

46 are women, and most likely face deportation. The authorities have accused them of converting Muslims to Christianity. There is no religious freedom in the country: the monarchy allows private worship of other faiths, but the religious police carry out indiscriminate arrests.

Damman (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Saudi Arabia has arrested 53 Ethiopian Christians — 46 women and six men — for holding a prayer meeting in a private home. Police officials have sealed the house and taken the faithful away, accusing the three religious leaders present of attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity. The incident occurred at Dammam, the capital of the Eastern Province of the Kingdom, and dates to February 8, but local sources, linked to the World Evangelical Alliance’s Religious Liberty Commission (WEA-Rlc) recently reported the news.

According to the WEA-RLC, Saudi authorities should release two of the Christians who hold residency permits. In all likelihood, all the others will be deported.

Saudi Arabia does not recognize, or protect, any religious expression other than Islam. The religious police (muttawa) carries out controls to eliminate the presence of Bibles, rosaries, Crosses and Christian assemblies. And even if the royal family allows religious practices other than Islam, at least in private, muttawa agents tend not to differentiate.

This is not the first episode of religious persecution against the Ethiopian community. In December 2011, the Saudi authorities arrested 35 Ethiopian Christians, 29 of them women, charging them with “illegal socialization.” In this case, the faithful were detained in the middle of a prayer meeting in a private home in Jeddah. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the imprisoned women were subjected to arbitrary “medical inspections”.

The city of Dammam, where the accident occurred on February 8, is a major industrial center and port, rich in oil and natural gas.

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

Turkey: 65.8% Oppose Erdogan’s Presidential Reform Proposal

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, FEBRUARY 20 — A sizable majority of the Turkish population do not support the proposed switch to a presidential system put forward by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reports a survey published by Turkish media.

According to the opinion poll, conducted by the Kadir Has University, 65.8% of the population prefer to maintain the current parliamentary system, and only 21.2% support the switch to an American-style presidential system proposed by Erdogan.

The current Islamic premier, who is expected to be elected head of state next year — replacing fellow party member Abdullah Gul — has asked that the transition to a presidential system be approved through the revision underway by the four parties holding seats in Parliament. The three opposition parties have said they are against it, while a number of analysts note that Erdogan may call a referendum on the issue.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Uproar in Saudi Arabia as Girl, 12, Who Suffers From Sickle Cell Anemia is Given HIV-Positive Blood Transfusion in Hospital

Saudi Arabia has erupted in outrage over the case of a 12-year-old girl who was reportedly given a transfusion of HIV-positive blood.

Reham al-Hakami received the transfusion on February 12 at the main hospital in her village of Jazan. But hours later medical staff visited her home to tell her family that the blood was HIV-positive.

The potentially lethal mistake has prompted an unprecedented reaction in the ultraconservative Islamic kingdom with angry calls for the health minister Abdullah al-Rabiah to resign.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Almost $50 Billion Left Russia Illegally in 2012: Central Bank

Nearly $50 billion was transferred out of Russia illegally in 2012 and more than half this sum may have been controlled by a single group of people, the central bank said on Wednesday.

Sergei Ignatyev, chairman of the Bank of Russia, was citing the findings of a study that the bank said it would publish later on Wednesday.

“You get the impression that they (half the transfers) are all controlled by one well-organized group of people,” Sergei Ignatyev, chairman of the Bank of Russia, told the Vedomosti daily in an interview.

Ignatyev, who is due to retire in June, declined to identify the group in response to a reporter’s question at the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, where he was due to deliver an address.

But the central bank analysis appears to be an indictment of President Vladimir Putin’s brand of state capitalism, which critics say has allowed official corruption to flourish on a huge scale.

It also marks an unusually strong intervention by Ignatyev, who during his 11-year tenure has kept a generally low profile, seeking to preserve the central bank’s policy autonomy without pushing for full, Western-style independence from politics.

Putin is due to nominate a successor to him in March, but no front runner has yet emerged.

The central bank study found that $49 billion, or around 2.5 percent of gross domestic product, was spirited illegally out of Russia last year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Soviet Officer Awarded Prize for Preventing Nuclear War

DRESDEN, February 17 (RIA Novosti) — A retired Soviet lieutenant colonel whose self-control prevented a nuclear war from being triggered by a long-classified accident in 1983 was honored with a German anti-war prize on Sunday.

Stanislav Petrov, 73, won the fourth Dresden-Preis (Dresden Prize), which comes complete with a check for 25,000 euro ($33,000). The awarding ceremony, which marks the anniversary of the Dresden bombing in 1945, was held in the Dresden Opera Theatre (the Semperoper).

One of the organizers, Director General of Friends of Dresden Deutschland, Heidrun Hannusch, said Petrov had “averted a third world war” and his heroic deed will go down in history as one of the most significant events of the past few decades that contributed to the preservation of peace.

Petrov has stubbornly denied all attempts to label him a hero. “I did nothing heroic, I don’t feel like a hero. I just did my job and I like the way I did it,” Petrov told the audience.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Helicopter Scandal Clouding Developing “Special Relationship” Between India and Great Britain

During his second official visit to India, British PM David Cameron wants to build special ties with former colony. With his country indirectly involved in the Finmeccanica scandal, the British leader wants to boost investments during meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) — British Prime Minister David Cameron told his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh that Great Britain and India should develop a “special relationship”. At the same, he said that British authorities would cooperate with India in its probe into the Finmeccanica affair.

After meeting business leaders in Mumbai yesterday, the British leader arrived in New Delhi today for talks with Prime Minister Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee. Investments between the two countries, which share a colonial past, would be at the centre of their talks.

Cameron is on his second visit to India since he took office. As a sign of the importance he attaches to the trip, the prime minister arrived in India as head of Great Britain’s largest delegation ever, with four ministers, nine lawmakers, six university heads and representatives of more than 100 companies.

“I’ve brought with me the biggest ever business delegation to leave Britain’s shores and I’m really proud to be bringing them here, to meet with Indian businesses and to link up our countries,” Cameron said.

His visit is marred by a scandal involving Italian firm Finmeccanica, which has been accused of paying bribes to sell 12 helicopters made by its Anglo-Italian subsidiary AgustaWestland.

For some analysts, the case could undercut Cameron’s plans because the helicopters are being manufactured in Britain. However, the British leader said that his government would cooperate in the matter.

The British delegation’s visit comes a few days after French President François Hollande visited the country to sell 126 Rafale combat fighters, a deal not yet inked.

For some observers, faced with their own debt problems, European nations are increasingly using trade missions to take advantage of emerging economies.

Despite a recent slowdown, India’s economy is in fact sporting a healthy 6 per cent growth rate.

Ranked 10th in the world at present against the United Kingdom’s 6th position, India should overtake its former colonial master by 2050 to become the world’s third largest economy.

For Cameron, no time should be wasted to nurture the “special relationship” with India. The British leader wants bilateral trade to double, from US4 17.8 billion in 2010 to US$ 35.6 in 2015.

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

Indian Sisters, 11, Nine and Six ‘Lured With Food, Raped, Murdered and Dumped in Well’

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

Three young sisters from a small Indian village have been raped and murdered before their bodies were thrown into a well, it has emerged.

The three girls — aged 11, nine and six — went missing on Valentine’s Day from their impoverished home village of Murmadi in Lakhni tehsil after finishing school.

Their bodies were found four days later in a well near their hometown in the Bhandara district — which is located just 65kms from the city of Nagpur.

It is alleged that the three sisters — who lived in abject poverty — were lured away by a stranger with the promise of food.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

China: Beijing Reacts to Charges of Cyber Espionage by Asking for Proof

China’s Defence Ministry rejects Mandiant’s claim that it is among the most “prolific cyber espionage” groups in the world. For Communist China, there is no evidence connecting it to hackers. However, cyber crimes are rampant in the mainland. One businessman is arrested for blocking articles and keywords.

Beijing (AsiaNews) — China responded to charges by a US-based company that the People’s Liberation Army is one of the world’s “most prolific cyber espionage groups. The Defence Ministry in Beijing issued a statement saying that the report by Mandiant “lacks technical proof” linking hackers to China. The latter had suggested that a military unit in Shanghai stole sensitive documents from 141 companies from around the world to help the country’s five-year plan.

On its website, the Chinese military said that the cyber attacks mentioned in the report were carried out using stolen IP addresses, that no clear definition of cyber attack exists, and that they are in any event “transnational and hard to trace”.

Other analysts say that Mandiant’s charges are exaggerated. Both the United States and China are involved in a media and diplomatic tug-of-war over copyrights and internet security. Still, for Washington, Beijing is an internet pirate, on paper at least.

Cyber espionage is also a problem in China. An investigation by Caixin Magazine claims that a company owned by Gu Tengda used dubious tactics to take down negative stories on the internet for customers.

At present, Gu is in police custody and his activities are under investigation for online crimes and kickbacks.

Gu typically charged customers tens of thousands of yuan to remove online articles and block certain keywords blocked on popular search engines.

Most of his business was with party officials from smaller cities but also with state-owned corporations and individual businessmen.

Gu’s company, Yage Times, made a 50 million yuan in gross profit in 2011.

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

Chinese Army Behind Hacker Attacks, Says NYT

(AGI) Washington DC, Feb 19 — The Chinese army’s special unit ‘61938’ is behind the hundreds of thousands of cyber-attacks on U.S. websites. The unit features thousands of hackers, whose only aim is to penetrate the firewalls of other states’ institutions, agencies and private companies. The New York Times quoted a report by Mandiant, a company supporting the U.S. government on IT security, which has identified the source of cyber- attacks as a nondescript building in Shanghai, by the Yangtze river.

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

North Korea Threatens “Final Destruction” Of South Korea

North Korea threatened South Korea with “final destruction” during a debate at the U.N Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday, saying it could take “second and third steps” after a nuclear test last week.

“As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea’s erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction,” North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong told the meeting.

Without specifically referring to the nuclear test, Jon said North Korea had recently taken a “resolute step for self-defence”, which he described as “strong counter-actions to a foreign aggressor”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Andrew Bolt: If Wilders is Wrong, Explain This Conference

Geert Wilders, the Dutch political leader now on a speaking tour of Australia, has not only had his speeches blockaded by violent demonstrators trying to stop Australians from hearing him.

He has not only been vilified in the media for trying to warn that Islam as an ideology is a menace to Western values and freedoms — from the freedom to speak to even identify as gay.

Depressingly, he has even been shunned by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Jewish community leaders. It seems to me that political or community advantage is being put before principle — and fear is preventing a rational discussion of Wilders’ message.

It’s driven Abbott, even Abbott, to misrepresent what Wilders is in fact saying and play blind to the issue he actually raises — which is about the nature of Islam, not its followers:

Mr Abbott said Wilders’ was “substantially” wrong about Islam and the preparedness of Muslims living in Australia to integrate.

“He is entitled to his view but I think that the Muslims in this country see themselves rightly as fair dinkum, dinky-di Australians, just as the Catholics and the Jews and Protestants and the atheists, we see ourselves as Australians,” Mr Abbott told host Neil Mitchell.

This hypocrisy and fear is exposed best by what is misleadingly called a “Peace Conference and Exhibition” being organised in Melbourne in March.

The conference is advertised on billboards in Broadmeadows, Altona, Dandenong and South Melbourne and is organised by the Islamic Information Services Network of Australasia and Islamic Research and Educational Academy. It is also and backed by the Islamic Council of Victoria and a range of other Muslim groups, mosques and communities.

It is fronted by Melbourne Muslim activist Wazeem Razi, who in a recorded speech, boasted of the range of speakers:

Our guest speakers are … more than 15 international speakers, the chief guest that we have is Abdul Rahman Al-Sudays, the imam of Mecca … and the big news is alhumdulillah he has agreed to come to Australia and he has agreed to come to our Islamic conference … Also Brother Imran from India, Sheikh Abdul Hadi who is one of the speakers from PeaceTV from UK, Sheikh Anwar Sahib from New Zealand , one of the speakers from the Islamic Online University, run by Dr Bilal Philips … Brother Eddie [Eddie Redzovic] from USA, Sheikh Hussain Yee of Malaysia, the Buddhist convert to Islam, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, the Board of Imams president in Australia … Sheikh Issa from the Werribee mosque, Abu Hamza from IISNA , Abu Ayman from Ahl As-Sunnah wal Jama’ , Sheikh Mohamad Abou Eid from Preston mosque, and … Sheikh Mishari Alafasy from Kuwait, … Mishari from Emirates Dubai in the UAE … Sheikh ‘Assim alHakeem, the English speaker from Saudi Arabia…

The big news is, alhumdulillah, that we have approached the Prime Minister, Miss Julia Gillard, now this word has to be made between us, don’t let it go out, alhumdulillah, she has agreed to be present in the conference …

With such wide backing, and so many prominent speakers, it would be fair to say it represents Muslim thought today in Australia and the world.

And when you check precisely what a number of the speakers have said, you come up with a picture of Islam remarkably similar to the one Geert Wilders is trying to warn against.

Take the main organiser himself. In a lecture recorded last December in Melbourne, Waseem Razvi, who supports Sharia law in Australia, said Islam allowed violence in defence of the faith:…

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]

Italian Tourists Attacked With Guns, Machetes in Kenya

One person taken to hospital after being shot

(ANSA) — Rome, February 20 — A group of Italian tourists has been attacked by assailants with guns and machetes in Malindi, Kenya, the Italian foreign ministry said Wednesday.

One Italian man has been taken to hospital after being shot, although he is reportedly not in a life-threatening condition.

A gang of six hooded assailants attacked a series of tourist villas and robbed the people in them, an eye witness told ANSA. Two weeks ago an Italian woman was lucky to survive after being shot in the throat in Kenya.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Huge Telescopes Could Spy Alien Oxygen

Giant telescopes like the Extremely Large Telescope now being built in Chile could hunt for alien life by detecting oxygen on exoplanets — even though they were not designed with that in mind.

On Earth, plants and some bacteria are the only sources of large amounts of atmospheric oxygen. Finding oxygen on an exoplanet would therefore be a tantalising hint of life as we know it.

Current telescopes can look at the light that passes through exoplanet atmospheres and tease out their make-up, based on the substances that absorb particular wavelength bands. “We do this now for Jupiter-sized planets,” says Ignas Snellen of Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands.

But current telescopes are not sensitive enough to see atmospheres on small, rocky worlds. What’s more, observations made from the ground struggle to filter out Earth’s own oxygen-rich atmosphere. Space missions intended to hunt for distant oxygen have been cancelled.

Flux buckets

Snellen and colleagues have now calculated that the European Extremely Large Telescope, due to be completed in the next decade on Cerro Armazones, a mountain in Chile, will be big enough to do the job. Boasting a 39-metre main mirror, this telescope is expected to see some of the most distant stars and galaxies in the universe. With its much higher resolution, oxygen from an exoplanet would appear similar to Earth’s oxygen, but its wavelength band would be noticeably shifted due to the exoplanet’s motion as it orbits its star.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

USDA/Mexican Consulates to Immigrants: Don’t Worry, Food Stamps Won’t Affect Citizenship Chances

The United States Department of Agriculture has been working to dispel immigrants’ concerns that getting on Food Stamps will harm their chances of becoming U.S. citizens.

The USDA addresses those fears in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamp, brochures it distributes to Mexican consulates as part of its “partnership” with the Mexican government “to help educate eligible Mexican nationals living in the United States about available nutrition assistance.”

In one portion of the brochure, USDA’s text asks, “If I get on SNAP benefits, will I be a ‘public charge?’“ The brochure then answers: “No. You and your family can apply for and receive SNAP benefits without hurting your chance of becoming U.S. citizens.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

America’s Umbrella-Less Public Schools, Part 2

As discussed in Part I of “America’s Umbrella-less Public Schools,” the federal government should take the blunt of the blame for the public school shootings in America. Since 1963, after banning God from the public schools, America’s public schools have been failing miserably as the main education institution for most of its student population. But, what would be the rationale for America’s public schools returning to its greatness and glory of yesteryear and what procedures should be followed in order to create a safer learning environment for America’s public school students? That rationale would be the return of God’s spiritual protective umbrella. As a result, the following 23 procedures should be followed in order to get God to return His Spiritual Umbrella of protection to America’s public school campuses. Of course, these procedures would be more successful than President Obama’s 23 gun control provisions. The 23 pro-God provisions are:…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: 5,000 Children Without a Father Are Born Through Fertility Treatment: And Now Lesbians Will Get IVF on Taxpayer

Five thousand fatherless children have been born to lesbian couples and single mothers following fertility treatment in the past decade, the Daily Mail can reveal.

The figure emerged on the day that it was announced that lesbians and older women are due to get free IVF on the taxpayer.

Women aged 40 to 42 will qualify for state-funded fertility treatment for the first time, according to the guidelines from the health spending watchdog NICE. Previously, the watchdog did not recommend IVF on the NHS for the over-39s.

Lesbians under 40 who fail to conceive after 12 cycles of artificial insemination — which could be paid for by the NHS — will then qualify for three cycles of IVF funding.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Who Needs the Family?

For most of human history the family was the basic social unit of the species. Family was a way of passing down genes, beliefs and wealth. It was a retirement plan that you paid into by keeping your children alive long enough for them to grow up and support you. It allowed the individual to pass on his ideas to people who would care about them because they were part of their heritage. Family was a collective endeavor, small enough to reflect the individual. It was a practical and philosophical aim that made life beautiful and meaningful.

But who really needs it anymore?

The basic practical functions of the family have been replaced by the nanny state. It is the nanny that takes over the care and teaching of the child as soon as possible. And when their parents grow old, it is that same nanny that oversees their care and death.

Governments have come to serve as undying guardians of human society, ushering new life into the world and ushering old life out of it. New parents are as likely to turn to the government for help as they are to their extended family. When their child is old enough to look around for a career, it is the government that they expect to provide the education and the jobs. And when they grow old, the child can keep on working at his government job and paying off his student loans knowing that the government will be there to make all the difficult and expensive decisions about their care.

With all that taken care of, who needs parents or children anyway?

[…]

Importing large numbers of immigrants into a vital and booming society is a shot in the arm, but doing the same in a troubled society in decline is a shot in the head. The difference between integration and conquest is a matter of demographics. If the numbers are not on your side, then you aren’t expanding your own country, you’re giving it away…

Socialism has left behind a terrible bill and there is no one left to pay it. The population is crashing in every Western country. The elderly are losing their generous benefits, the men and women of middle age worry for the future and the youth no longer believe in the future at all. The streets are full of angry foreign teenagers, grinning and glaring, cutting and smashing, and the veiled women shop for goat in small dirty butcher shops. The old native men and women, of the stock that once made world empires, dream of leaving it all behind for Greece or Spain where they hope for a familiar foreignness, rather than the foreign foreignness that has overwhelmed their countries and made their cities no longer their own.

The state replaced the family. It told men and women that they no longer needed to make permanent commitments to each or to their parents and children. So long as they paid their taxes, the state would bear the burden of their commitments. And so men and women gave up on each other, parents gave up on their children and children gave up on their parents, the family fell apart and now the state that took its place is also falling apart.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Artificial Sweeteners Tied to Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes

Diet pop and other artificially sweetened products may cause us to eat and drink even more calories and increase our risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes, researchers are learning.

Small and some other researchers believe artificial sweeteners interfere with brain chemistry and hormones that regulate appetite and satiety. For millennia, sweet taste signaled the arrival of calories. But that’s no longer the case with artificial sweeteners.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

2 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/20/2013

  1. “A dinner lady has been sacked for accidentally serving non-halal meat to Muslim students at a multi-faith school.

    The incident outraged parents at the ‘halal-only’ Moseley School in Birmingham, and they have forced the headmaster to apologise for ‘insulting’ their faith.”

    People need to go on the attack over halal meat, and stop being at all accommodating. In the 4 places in the koran where it talks about halal meat, in each place it says that muslims can eat haram meat. The ONLY restriction is they must not desire non-halal meat.

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