Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/26/2013

The unexpected success of the comedian Beppe Grillo and his 5 Star Movement in the Italian elections has caused great concern among EU officials in Brussels. Mr. Grillo and Silvio Berlusconi made the strongest showing in yesterday’s vote, and neither man is known to be positive towards the EU. European stocks dropped due to the uncertainty in Italy after the elections.

In other news, enough Republican senators joined the Democrats in voting to end the filibuster on the nomination of Chuck Hagel, and Mr. Hagel will now become the next U.S. Secretary of Defense.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, ES, Fjordman, Gaia, heroyalwhyness, Insubria, JD, Nilk, 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.


USA
» Colorado: Secret Energy Lab Spawns Million Dollar Govt Employee
» Extraterrestrial Life May be Common Around Binary Stars
» FBI Informant Warns So-Called Blind Sheik ‘Will Kill Americans’
» Hollywood is Dead
» Interior: Top Ten Questions for Obama Nominee Sally Jewell
» Senate Votes to End Debate on Hagel Nomination to Defense Post
» The Overnight ‘Greening’ of Washington, D.C.
» U.S. Dairy Industry Petitions FDA to Approve Aspartame as Hidden, Unlabeled Additive in Milk, Yogurt, Eggnog and Cream
 
Europe and the EU
» Benedict to be Called ‘Pope Emeritus’ After Stepping Down
» British Media Declare All-Out War on Green Energy Lobby
» Europe ‘Partly to Blame’ For Italy Result, Verhofstadt Says
» Grillo’s 5 Star Movement Can Count on Stiglitz Star-Power
» Ireland: Forget Neutrality… We Must Join Fight on Islam Fascists
» Italy: Northern League Leader Ahead in Lombardy Regional Elections
» Italy: Grillo Success Not Just a Protest Vote, Says Top Pollster
» Italy: Grillo Says Right-Left Coalition ‘Would Last 7-8 Months’
» Italy: PD Says No ‘Grand Coalition’, Will Woo Grillo Senators
» Stable Government in Italy ‘Crucial’, Germany Says
 
North Africa
» Seconds From Disaster… Moment Tourists Took to Sky in Egypt Hot Air Balloon Before Explosion Sent Them Plunging to Earth, Killing 19: First Pictures of Brits on Board Fateful Tour
» Tunisia: Salafist Website Says Belaid Was Unworthy Target
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» 1 Month After Elections, Political Stalemate Continues
» UKIP Friends of Palestine Group “Loses the Plot” In Comparing Mideast Conflict to Holocaust
 
South Asia
» Bangladesh: Thousands of People Rally Against Islamic Party and the Political Use of Religion
» Pakistan: Punjab: Muslim Attacks Disabled Christian for Money, Police Deny Any Investigation
 
Far East
» Europe May Work With China on Space Station
 
Australia — Pacific
» Cash Grab: Inactive Bank Accounts to be Seized
 
Culture Wars
» Character Traits of Truly Evil People
 
General
» Daniel Pipes: Islamist Assassinations in the West
» The Death Knell for the CO2 Theory

Colorado: Secret Energy Lab Spawns Million Dollar Govt Employee

GOLDEN, Colo. — The federal government’s dream of a renewable energy empire hinges on a scrubby outpost here, where scientists and executives doggedly explore a new frontier.

If you live outside Colorado, you probably haven’t heard of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory — NREL for short. It’s the place where solar panels, windmills and corn are deemed the energy source of the future and companies who support such endeavors are courted.

It’s also the place where highly paid staff decide how to spend hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.

And the public pays those decision-makers well: NREL’s top executive, Dr. Dan Arvizu, makes close to a million dollars per year. His two top lieutenants rake in more than half a million each and nine others make more than $350,000 a year.

But what is really going on there? Energy expert Amy Oliver Cooke drove out to the site, which looks something like Nevada’s Area 51 with its remote location and forbidding concrete buildings. NREL had started a construction project and Cooke wanted to see for herself. She didn’t get far: a man in an SUV seemingly appeared out of nowhere, stopped her car, and told her to leave.

“A beefy looking fellow told me, ‘It’s top secret,’ said Cooke, director of the Energy Policy Center at the Independence Institute think tank. “I said, ‘I’m a taxpayer and I want to see what you’re building’ and he said it was it was ‘top secret so we can bring Americans a better future.’“

With its bloated budget and overseen by a $533 million a year government-funded management company, Cooke isn’t buying it.

“NREL has given us two of the most significant boondoggles, one of them being ethanol and the other being (bankrupt) Abound Solar,” she said. “They were part of the team that pushed Abound Solar along. In fact, they wrote in March 2011 on their website how proud they were of their role in abound solar.

“Am I impressed with NREL? No, not really,” she said.

[Return to headlines]

Extraterrestrial Life May be Common Around Binary Stars

Planets orbiting binary star systems have to deal with the stresses of more than one star. But new research reveals that close binaries could be as good as singles when it comes to hosting habitable planets. Low-mass twins could make the best hosts, because their combined energy extends the habitable region farther away than would exist around a single star.

After modeling a variety of binary systems, two astronomers determined that stars 80 percent as massive as the Sun, if close enough together, could allow for conditions that would be ideal for hosting habitable planets.

“Potentially, life could exist even more in binary systems than it does in single systems,” Joni Clark, an undergraduate at New Mexico State University, told Astrobiology Magazine. Clark worked with astrophysicist Paul Mason of the University of Texas at El Paso.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

FBI Informant Warns So-Called Blind Sheik ‘Will Kill Americans’

An FBI informant who has helped catch some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists is coming out of witness protection to warn that a terrorist sheik in prison remains a significant threat to the U.S.

Emad Salem is urging the U.S. to keep the ailing 74-year-old sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, often known as the Blind Sheik, behind bars and to not transfer him, even as governments overseas continue to press for his release.

“He will kill Americans,” said Salem. “He will kill anyone who disputes what he says with a fatwa.”

Salem, a one-time Egyptian military officer, had warned officials about the looming 1993 World Trade Center bombing, but his warnings were ignored after a lie-detector test was inconclusive and he said he would never testify at any trial.

After the bombing, Salem agreed to become an FBI informant and managed to become the sheik’s personal assistant and bodyguard. Salem was able to record the sheik ordering the killing of Americans during his time in Jersey City, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y.

Salem was also able to link the sheik to the 1993 World Trade Center bombers. Six people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in that first attack.

Now Salem is concerned about the mounting pressure on the U.S. from Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and other Mideastern government leaders to get Rahman out of American custody.

‘A terrible price’

In one letter dated Feb. 26, 2008, the justice minister of Qatar relayed a request from Rahman’s family asking U.S. officials to have him transferred back to the nation to serve the rest of his sentence. They said they wanted to be able to visit him more easily, according to the letter by Qatar Attorney General Dr. Ali Bin Fetais Al Marri.

More recently, on this 20th anniversary week of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Rahman’s sons wrote on their family website that “America will pay a terrible price” if he is not released soon.

“The rain begins with one drop. America should expect more violent reactions if it does not release the sheik,” the sons wrote on the website.

The sons pointed to the killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens as an example of terrorists acting on behalf of the sheik. The terrorists in that attack are believed to have called themselves the “Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman Brigade” in honor of the Blind Sheik…

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Hollywood is Dead

Hollywood has no problem being dumb, sleazy and violent. Those are all known and marketable qualities. What it does not look is appearing desperate. Desperation, however, is what the Oscars of this year and last year have in common. They stink of an industry desperately racing its own age and irrelevance reaching for gimmicks to try and hang on to a younger audience.

The dirty little secret is that Hollywood hardly exists anymore. The industry is bigger than ever, but its bread and butter consists of 200 and 300 million dollar special effects festivals filmed in front of green screens and created in Photoshop and three-dimensional graphics programs. They star obscure or mildly famous actors and they do two-thirds of their business abroad.

America is still the official headquarters of the global entertainment industry, but many of the bigger projects are filmed internationally with foreign money and intended for foreign markets. What the American corporations bring to the table is the intellectual property, which is why the latest spasm of mergers and buyouts has focused on taking control of every treasury of classic marketable properties.

Disney has put Star Wars, Mickey and Marvel Comics under one roof. It’s impressive from a business standpoint, but bankrupt from a creative standpoint. Old Americana is being milked dry for the sake of turning out another disposable movie starring familiar characters. The movies are actually still the same.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Interior: Top Ten Questions for Obama Nominee Sally Jewell

President Obama recently nominated Sally Jewell to replace Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior. As the head of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), Jewell showed that she can grow a company, and now she is faced with an opportunity to grow the American economy through responsible stewardship of our nation’s vast energy resources. In the past, Jewell has arguedformore regulations andagainstresource development on federal lands. Her record necessitates rigorous scrutiny by the United States Senate. IER offers the following ten questions as a sampling of the sorts of questions that Sally Jewell should answer before the American people before she is allowed a vote for confirmation…

6. After working for three years at Mobil Oil, Jewell became a petroleum engineer for Rainer Bank in the early 1980s. Jewell stayed in the banking sector until leaving for REI in 2000. In 2009,Jewell said of climate change, “You can’t be a company that is relying on a clean environment and be part of the problem, polluting the environment.” If companies that produce carbon-based energy are part of the problem, does that mean Jewell was part of the problem for a significant portion of her career?

[…]

5. When asked in 2009if REI lobbies the government for environmental causes, Jewell said, “I would not use the term lobbying because we are not really lobbyists, but we do educate.” According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which collates public records data,REI spent$610,000 on lobbying between 2009 and 2012, with $250,000 spent on lobbying in 2012. Does Jewell care to reconsider her statement “we are not really lobbyists”?

[…]

3. Jewell has argued strongly against resource development on federal lands, noting in one interview, “Many of the lands that are forests would have been developed with houses today if not for the Greenway Initiative [a local environmentalist effort] . . . . Every intersection could have had gas stations and fast food establishments.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Senate Votes to End Debate on Hagel Nomination to Defense Post

The Senate voted Tuesday to break a filibuster against the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, clearing the way for his confirmation despite Republican complaints about his readiness for the job.

More than a dozen Republicans joined Senate Democrats on the 71-to-27 vote to cut off the debate. Republicans who opposed Mr. Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, had insisted that they needed more time to examine his record.

The Senate scheduled a vote on the nomination for Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Hagel requires a simple majority of 51 to be confirmed.

[Return to headlines]

The Overnight ‘Greening’ of Washington, D.C.

The Green Growth Sustainability of U.N. Agenda 21 has finally arrived in our nation’s capital. Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced last week his “Sustainability D.C.” plan to make the District of Columbia “the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the United States” by 2032.

He plans “zero-net buildings that generate at least as much energy as they produce,” reducing the amount of salt spread on the roads, and charging residents per bag of trash pickup. (Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, February 20, 2013)

The environmentalists are dancing with joy at the prospect of reducing the city’s potential impact on the manufactured global warming/climate change they’ve been pushing for decades. Reasonable minds wish that the D.C. Mayor would address instead the high crime and poverty rates, real problems in the District.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.S. Dairy Industry Petitions FDA to Approve Aspartame as Hidden, Unlabeled Additive in Milk, Yogurt, Eggnog and Cream

(NaturalNews) You probably already know that the FDA has declared war on raw milk and even helped fund and coordinate armed government raids against raw milk farmers and distributors. Yes, it’s insane. This brand of tyranny is unique to the USA and isn’t even conducted in China, North Kora or Cuba. Only in the USA are raw milk farmers treated like terrorists.

But now the situation is getting even more insane than you could have imagined: the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have filed a petition with the FDA asking the FDA to alter the definition of “milk” to secretly include chemical sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose.

Importantly, none of these additives need to be listed on the label. They will simply be swept under the definition of “milk,” so that when a company lists “milk” on the label, it automatically includes aspartame or sucralose. And if you’re trying to avoid aspartame, you’ll have no way of doing so because it won’t be listed on the label.

This isn’t only for milk, either: It’s also for yogurt, cream, sour cream, eggnog, whipping cream and a total of 17 products, all of which are listed in the petition at FDA.gov.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Benedict to be Called ‘Pope Emeritus’ After Stepping Down

It will still be possible to address him as ‘your holiness’

(ANSAmed) — VATICAN CITY — Benedict XVI will be called ‘pope emeritus’ or ‘Roman pontiff emeritus’ after he steps down as the head of the Catholic Church on Thursday, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Tuesday.

Lombardi added that it will still be possible to address Benedict as “Your Holiness”. He said the 85-year-old German would continue to wear the “simple, white” papal cassock and use shoes given to him by Mexican cobblers during a visit last year. “The pope really liked the gift of the shoes made for him by the artisans of Leon, Mexico, and he will continue to use them,” Lombardi said.

The spokesman confirmed that Benedict’s ring of office as pope will be destroyed, according to Vatican tradition. He added that Benedict’s papers have been split between documents regarding the government of the Church, “which will go to the competent archives”, and his personal notes that will stay with him.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

British Media Declare All-Out War on Green Energy Lobby

ONE million homes narrowly escaped a power cut last month as bitterly cold weather placed a massive strain on Britain’s creaking electricity network. Shutdown was only avoided because a gas-fired station due to close by next winter came to the rescue. Last night experts warned that life-threatening blackouts are increasingly likely as “we head downhill — fast”. Fawley is one of a number of coal and oil power stations being forced into retirement to comply with EU environmental targets. — Tracey Boles, Sunday Express, 24 February 2013

We are facing disaster on energy prices. The dynamic has changed, but the thinking hasn’t. What worries me most is that the average household energy bill will be £1,400 by end of the year; £1,500 is a cliff edge at which most people say they’ll switch off the heating entirely. — — Ann Robinson, consumer champion at uSwitch, Sunday Express, 24 February 2013

Scotland’s wealthiest private landowners are on course to earn around £1 billion in rental fees from wind farm companies, according to a book published yesterday by a senior Tory politician. Struan Stevenson, a Conservative MEP, estimated the sum will be paid over the next eight years to at least a dozen landowners willing to allow turbines on their estates and farms. — -Simon Johnson, The Sunday Telegraph, 24 February 2013

Our energy policy is no longer dictated by the need to keep supply plentiful and cheap which for decades was the basis of all planning. Today energy policy is framed with only one factor in mind: satisfying the green lobby. It is, to be blunt, mad. — Stephen Pollard, Daily Express, 20 February 2013

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe ‘Partly to Blame’ For Italy Result, Verhofstadt Says

‘Monti asked for help, instead we patted him on the back’

(ANSA) — Brussels, February 26 — Europe is partly to blame for the uncertain outcome of Italy’s general elections, Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Lib Dem group in the European parliament, said on Tuesday.

“The European Union also has its share of responsibility because it failed to answer Mario Monti’s repeated calls for help in lowering interest rates on public debt,” he said.

Useful responses might have been the creation of a redemption fund or the partial sharing of the debt across the eurozone, the former Belgian premier said.

“Instead the only thing Monti got from his colleagues was a pat on the back”. Verhofstadt added that European leaders needed to “learn the lesson” resulting from the Italian elections, which saw massive gains by populist forces led by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and Genoa comic Beppe Grillo and left no alliance or party with a clear majority in parliament. “Fiscal discipline is absolutely necessary, but by itself it is not sufficient to combat the crisis,” he said. “The incorporation of austerity measures with solidarity and policies for growth is not a choice but a duty,” he concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Grillo’s 5 Star Movement Can Count on Stiglitz Star-Power

Nobel prize-winning economist to help with economics platform

(ANSA) — Ancona, February 26 — Comedian Beppe Grillo, the surprise, true winner of Italy’s inconclusive February 24-25 elections, has a secret card up his sleeve: an economic “guru” with close ties to Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

For his economics policies the Genoese comedian turns to Mauro Gallegati, an economics professor at the Polytechnic University of the Marche region who has taught at Cambridge and Columbia University and has worked with Stiglitz. Gallegati says that there is much “misinformation” regarding Grillo’s Five Star Movement’s (M5S) economic policies.

A former town councilor and “grillino” (as Grillo’s supporters are called) from the movement’s beginnings, Gallegati is an expert in welfare policy with extensive international experience. Along with a few others, Gallegati was picked to set up a “task force to help the newly elected in parliament.” The task force’s job will be to educate the Five Star representatives on policy.

Aside from this task, Gallegati is also putting the finishing touches to a journal article — written together with Stiglitz — on how to redistribute income and which will form the basis of the Five Star Movement’s policy platform in parliament: “Hit the richest with taxes.” In Gallegati’s view, the rich are those, for example, with private planes.

Also part of the M5S platform is a reform to the labor market which protects the workers and not necessarily a worker’s work place. “It’s a completely different approach from that” currently being followed, Gallegati says.

“We have to invent totally new professions, placing bets on culture and tourism, otherwise who will pay today’s unprotected workers when they retire?” asks the economist.

“To my children I always say: ‘when I die put my body in the refrigerator so you can keep collecting my pension’,” Gallegati jokes.

Stiglitz, who won the Nobel prize in economics in 2001 while a member of Columbia University’s faculty, will not work directly on the M5S platform, Gallegati says, “but he will give us a hand. As will one of his closest collaborators, Bruce Greenwald, the guru of gurus on Wall Street.” Stiglitz has published a string of bestsellers including Fair Trade For All (2005) and Making Globalization Work (2006).

Last year’s The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future laid out a wide-ranging agenda to create a more dynamic economy and fairer and more equal society.

The blurb said: “As those at the top continue to enjoy the best health care, education, and benefits of wealth, they often fail to realize that, as Stiglitz highlights, ‘their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live…It does not have to be this way’.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Ireland: Forget Neutrality… We Must Join Fight on Islam Fascists

IN the hit movie Zero Dark Thirty and in the popular TV series Homeland the point is dramatically made that there is a war on and that it will last “for a hundred years”.

That war is not like any we’ve seen before. It is not a ‘War on Terror’. Neither is it a ‘War on Islam’. For too long and too often it has been misleadingly described as such.

It is a war against a religious tyranny that has claimed many lives. Among the victims were Irish people over the skies of Manhattan on 9/11, on the London Underground on 7/7 and also in the killing fields of Iraq.

Despite these casualties, it is a war we in Ireland don’t pay that much attention to.

But with the Government’s decision to commit Irish soldiers to the mission to Mali is a war that may come to our shores in some shape or form.

Thugs

The move, announced last week, marks an end to Irish neutrality as we have known it — and about time too. Since the 1930s, we have sat on the sidelines in the epic global struggles waged against Hitler’s Nazis and later the threat posed to democratic freedoms by Stalin and his communist successors.

Now we face another totalitarian challenge. Our foe is every bit as ruthless as the Gestapo and every bit as devious as the KGB. Like Stalin and Hitler, the thugs who kill in the name of Islam seek to rule the world.

In Mali we have made our first tentative steps in declaring that we will play our small part in standing up for the freedoms we too often take for granted.

By assisting the Malian Army in opposing these zealots, we may see the liberties we enjoy take hold and spread…

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

Italy: Northern League Leader Ahead in Lombardy Regional Elections

Center-left candidate trailing behind in second place

(ANSA) — Rome, February 26 — Northern League leader Roberto Maroni is leading in the Lombardy regional elections for governor, polls taken by state broadcaster Rai said on Tuesday.

Maroni, whose party is allied with Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party (PdL) in national elections, so far has 43.3% of the votes while center-left candidate Umberto Ambrosoli has 35.6%.

Neither of the two candidates have the 50% of votes needed to claim victory in the first round, making a run-off likely in two weeks.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Grillo Success Not Just a Protest Vote, Says Top Pollster

‘Centre left lost ground due to poor election campaign’

(ANSA) — Trieste, February 26 — A top pollster said Tuesday it was “misleading” to read the consensus garnered by Genoa comic Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) in recent general elections simply as a protest vote as politicians struggled to come to terms with inconclusive and potentially paralysing results.

The electorate of M5S, which claimed 25.55% of the votes for the House, more than any other individual party, and took a total of 108 seats across both chambers of parliament, has two layers, according to Roberto Weber, president of Trieste-based polling agency SWG. “The first, accounting for 10-12%, encompasses new democratic demands for territorial management and development, while the second is seriously intolerant of the running of the state and political parties,” he said.

The pollster put the success of M5S down to the fact that it was the only political formation calling for real change. “The question must still be asked why Italy has no green party or party for environmental sustainability: because Grillo taps into these issues,” said Weber.

However the SWG president added that the real election surprise concerned the loss taken by Pier Luigi Bersani’s centre-left alliance, which looked to have a clear majority in the weeks leading up to the Sunday and Monday poll. The coalition just managed to win a majority in the House but came well short of the 158 seats needed to hold the Senate following the surge by Grillo and considerable gains by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s centre right. “No-one could have predicted that it should lose so many votes, and it lost them to M5S in particular,” said Weber.

He described the centre left’s election campaign as its worst ever, adding that the coalition paid for the radicalism of Berlusconi and Grillo.

“It doesnt pay to be moderate,” said Weber.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Grillo Says Right-Left Coalition ‘Would Last 7-8 Months’

‘We’ll keep it under control’ says protest-vote winner

(ANSA) — Rome, February 26 — Anti-establishment comedian Beppe Grillo, whose Five Star Movement (M5S) gained a huge protest vote in Italy’s elections and stopped anyone getting a majority in the Senate, said Tuesday the two main centre-left and centre-right blocs would bury the hatchet to break that deadlock.

But he said they would not last long.

“They’ll make a grand coalition between (centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani’s) PD and (ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s) PdL,” said Grillo, who sucked votes from right and left to unleash his promised ‘tsunami’ on Italian politics.

“But we’re the obstacle,” said the rabble-rousing comic, whose movement is third in both houses of parliament.

“They can’t carry on any more, let them put their minds at rest. “They’ll be able to go on for seven or eight months, to cause a disaster,” he added.

Although pundits see a grand coalition to pass essential reforms as a long shot, Grillo pledged that throughout its short term, “we’ll try to keep it under control”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: PD Says No ‘Grand Coalition’, Will Woo Grillo Senators

Bersani to make ‘proposal for change aimed at M5S’

(ANSA) — Rome, February 26 — The centre left will not try to form a grand coalition with the centre right but instead woo the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) in a bid to break Italy’s post-election gridlock in the Senate, a senior member of the Democratic Party (PD) said Tuesday.

The PD’s coalition led by Pier Luigi Bersani got a majority in the House but fell well short in the Senate because of a huge protest vote for comedian Beppe Grillo’s M5S, prompting centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi to suggest the traditional blocs work together because Italy “deserves to be governed”.

Faced with the upper-house paralysis, “we will not forge a government with those responsible for the disaster we are in,” said PD Deputy President Marina Sereni, referring to the Greek-style economic meltdown Italy risked facing before Berlusconi resigned in favour of technocrat Mario Monti in November 2011, and a recession deepened by Monti’s austerity.

She said Bersani, seen by most pundits as the man President Giorgio Napolitano will hand a government-seeking mandate to, would shortly “make a proposal for change aimed at the M5S”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Stable Government in Italy ‘Crucial’, Germany Says

Berlin calls on future admin to continue Monti’s policies

(ANSA) — Berlin, February 26 — The German foreign minister said Tuesday that Italy needed a stable government as soon as possible after the country’s general election failed to produce a clear winner.

“It is crucial that Italy has a stable government able to act on its behalf as soon as possible in the interest of the country and of Europe,” said Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

Germany’s chief diplomat also called on Italy to continue on the path of reform begun by outgoing technocrat Premier Mario Monti and underlined the country’s central role in Europe.

“When we talk about the crisis in Europe, we are all in the same boat,” he said. The General election in Italy on February 24 and 25 produced a stalemate, with Pier Luigi Bersani’s centre-left alliance just managing to win outright control of the House, but failing to obtain a working majority in the Senate, in part due to big gains by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement led by Genoa comic Beppe Grillo.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Seconds From Disaster… Moment Tourists Took to Sky in Egypt Hot Air Balloon Before Explosion Sent Them Plunging to Earth, Killing 19: First Pictures of Brits on Board Fateful Tour

[Video]

This was the terrifying moment a hot air balloon exploded in a fireball 1,000ft above the Valley Of The Kings In Egypt.

It emerged as the British tourists who were killed in the early morning tragedy were pictured for the first time.

Joe Bampton, 40, and Yvonne Rennie were among 19 tourists killed today during an early morning flight over the ancient ruins of Luxor when their balloon caught fire and exploded after it hit a power line.

British resident Suzanna Gyetvai, 34, the girlfriend of Mr Bampton, also died in the blaze which killed 19 tourists.

Nine desperate passengers trapped in the blazing balloon basket tried to escape by leaping 300ft to the sugar cane fields below.

Rescuers arrived to find bodies strewn across the ground and the incinerated remains of the balloon lying in a charred heap.

Mr Bampton, and artists and valuer of rugs and carpets, and Miss Gyetvai, both worked for an auction house in Chelsea, south London and had been due to return from Egpyt this week.

Nick Carter, senior auctioneer at the Lots Road auction house said the couple both loved the country and that their sudden deaths had devastated their colleagues.

Mr Carter: ‘They were two people very much in love and a lovely couple. They were companions to each other.

They were very different people but they were very much in love. They loved being together.

‘They worked here professionally and they were both artists.

‘It’s not about a colleague being sorely missed, it’s about being proper bereavement. Our managing director has described him as one of his sons.

‘They lived together and have a whippet dog called Ollie. All of us are devastated and some are coping better than others. It’s a horrible experience.

‘We all get touched by death sometimes but this isn’t a normal experience. It’s not somebody dying of a heart attack — it’s much bigger than that.’

The other Briton who is understood to have died at the scene was Yvonne Rennie, from Perth in Scotland.

Her husband Michael, 49, is believed to have survived the inferno and is recovering after being airlifted to a hospital 320 miles away in Cairo.

[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Salafist Website Says Belaid Was Unworthy Target

Interior minister, cartoonists, police would be ‘proper’ targets

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, FEBRUARY 26 — Salafist websites on Tuesday unanimously condemned the arrest on Tuesday of four of their coreligionists in connection with the February 6 murder of leftist secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid.

The most important of these, Chouyouk Essalafiya, rejected the murder charge laid at their door by Interior Minister Ali Laarayedh on grounds that Belaid was an insignificant target. A more proper target would be the minister himself, whom Salafists “hate terribly”, the fundamentalist website argued.

The site goes on to list further targets more deserving of Salafist hits: cartoonists who depict the Prophet Mohamed, anyone who “mocks God”, the director of the film Neither God Nor Master, which Salafists said is blasphemous, and the security forces who killed 16 Salafists and a “homeless woman”, meaning the wife of an imam who died during a police attack. “There are many who have tortured and attacked Salafists, and there are many leftist more important than Belaid. Why (kill) him in particular?” the website concluced.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

1 Month After Elections, Political Stalemate Continues

Netanhayu fails to build coalition

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, 26 FEBRUARY — More than a month after Israel’s parliamentary elections political fractures within the Knesset are hampering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a new governing coalition.

Yediot Ahronot reports that Netanyahu is ‘lost at sea’, and that if no developments happen by Saturday he will be forced to go back to Israel’s Head of State Shimon Peres and ask for a further two weeks.

According to Yediot Ahronot Peres will probably grant it, although he also has the prerogative of granting the formation of the government to another politician. If the parties don’t manage to move beyond stalemate new elections will likely be called.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UKIP Friends of Palestine Group “Loses the Plot” In Comparing Mideast Conflict to Holocaust

UKIP’s Friends of Palestine group has claimed that the ongoing Middle East conflict is the same as the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews

One side has state-sponsored terrorism and yes, innocent bystanders. The other side is an embattled democracy in a region of totalitarian dictatorships or Islamist, mafia-type governments.

See, we can reduce things down too. Funny how our reduction isn’t nearly half as offensive as that of the Friends of Palestine in UKIP group which today posted a Facebook update stating, “The genocide of the Palestinian people by the current Israeli government is no different to the genocide of the Jewish people by Nazi Germany.”

The statement comes hot on the heels of Liberal Democrat MP David Ward’s statement that, “ the suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated”.

To claim that the Holocaust, which was the eradication and systematic extermination of an entire race of people is somehow akin to a complex and and drawn out international dispute between various actors is not only highly offensive, but seeks to trivialise the Holocaust and misinform the organisation’s members on the conflict.

Luckily, the group has only 30 members, and those which we understand to not be as amenable to the new group leadership’s ‘hardline’ and ‘misinformed’ approach on the issue.

Jacob Campbell of the Friends of Israel in UKIP said, “Friends of Palestine in UKIP has utterly lost the plot. To even suggest the remotest similarity between Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the Third Reich’s mechanised genocide of European Jewry would be outrageous enough, but to explicitly assert that the former is ‘no different’ to the latter is pure anti-Semitism. We might expect that sort of thing from the Liberal Democrats, but not from members of UKIP. Heads must roll.”…

           — Hat tip: ES [Return to headlines]

Bangladesh: Thousands of People Rally Against Islamic Party and the Political Use of Religion

People of different origins and social backgrounds rally together, reading passages from the sacred texts of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami supporters continue their rampage, accusing peaceful demonstrators of blasphemy.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) — Thousands of people of different age, faith, profession and ethnic background joined in protest against the political use of religion. They recited passages from the sacred texts of the country’s great religions-namely the Qur’an (Islam), the Bible (Christianity), Gita (Hinduism) and Tripitaka (Buddhism) -and sang the national anthem to affirm, “Religion is personal, the state is for all”.

The rally took place on 21 February on the initiative of Gonojagoron Mancha, a peace group that has been demonstrating for weeks demanding justice against those responsible for war crimes in the Jamaat-e-Islami, an opposition Islamic party. Protesters also want the party’s youth wing barred. However, this has not stopped Jamaat supporters from carrying out acts of violence that left four people dead. They accuse anti-Jamaat protesters of blasphemy.

“Our protest is not against religion,” said Imran Sarker, main organiser of the rally. “On the contrary, our fight is to end the sickening politics of Jamaat-Shibir, which uses religion for political purposes.” The latter is Jamaat-e-Islami youth wing.

For its part, the Islamist party continues its actions, organising strikes (hartal) that end up in vandalism, hooliganism and violence against police and peaceful protesters.

Jamaat supporters have escalated their violent action after parliament, which is controlled by the Awami League, adopted changes to the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act of 1973.

Now the authorities can impose the death penalty on anyone convicted of war crimes dating back to 1971. They could also bar Jamaat-e-Islami, which has been blamed for torture, summary executions and rape.

Four people have died in one of the latest incidents caused by supporters of the Islamist party last Friday. Journalists, intellectuals and police were also attacked on that occasion.

Gonojagoron Mancha activists have also been regularly targeted in Chittagong, Feni, Chandpur, Rajshahi, Bogra, Sirajganj, Joypurat, Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Pabna. In many incidents, Jamaat supporters have burnt Bangladeshi flags.

On 21 February, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, spoke about the rising tensions in the country. “Bangladesh will be a non-communal social system,” she said. The “the rights of all religions to be ensured” and “everyone will live here enjoying equal rights”.

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

Pakistan: Punjab: Muslim Attacks Disabled Christian for Money, Police Deny Any Investigation

The 35 year-old Khalid Masih had agreed to witness to a trade — for free- at first welcomed by both parties. The next day the Muslim Irshad Gujjar demanded more money. On refusal, he avenged himself by ambushing Christian intermediary. The police refused his complaint and the criminals go unpunished.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) — “I want justice, but no one supports me to open an investigation or initiate investigations against my assailants.” This is the cry of pain, dramatic and hopeless, of 35 year-old Christian Khalid Masih, a native of the district of Faisalabad, Punjab, victim of brutal violence, triggered by trivial economic issues. The police however are refusing to take the victim’s statement, and three weeks on from the incident the criminals still go unpunished. As too often happens in Pakistan, when the victim is a Christian and his executioners belong to the Muslim majority and the violation of laws and rights takes place in complete indifference.

The case dates back to February 2, when the man, who is disabled and walks with the aid of crutches, was asked to act as a mediator — free of charge — in a trade that involved two people: the Christian Babar Masih, a cousin of Khalid, and the Muslim Irshad Gujjar. The first gave the second his mope head, in exchange for a horse. The next day Irshad wanted additional money, because his animal “is worth a lot more.”

Khalid Masih (pictured) replied that was impossible to change the terms, because his cousin had left the village immediately after the deal. On February 6, Irshad Gujjar, with his cousin Aslam, went to Khalid’s house and asked him to follow them, to go and pray at the bedside of their grandson who was very sick. The 35 year-old Christian usually earned small amounts of money praying for the poor and sick, so he did not suspect the trap.

They lead him to a distant field five kilometres from the village, dragged him from the car and stabbed him several times with a knife — injuring his hands and lips — then they shot his knee caps twice. Some farmers in the vicinity, including a Christian, heard the shots and called for help. The doctors of the Civil Hospital in Faisalabad stabilized Khalid’s condition and after a few days, he recovered.

However, despite repeated appeals for justice, his assailants are at large and unpunished. “I am a poor Christian and pray for others — he tells AsiaNews — and all I am asking for is justice.” The bitter comment of Fr. Aftab James Paul, director of the Diocesan Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, is that “the criminals wanted to make money illegally” from a poor man, who “deserves justice and should be assisted in all situations, including legal.”

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

Europe May Work With China on Space Station

China aims to establish a large manned space station within the next decade, officials have said, and the latest reports suggest that this outpost could host not only Chinese astronauts, but European spaceflyers as well.

A plan is afoot for China and Europe to cooperate on the venture, which might see the European Space Agency (ESA) building technologies, including a rendezvous and docking system, for the station, in exchange for opportunities for its astronauts to visit the facility.

China plans to have the space station running by 2020. Both the station and China’s manned spacecraft Shenzhou could use ESA’s International Berthing and Docking Mechanism (IBDM), because of a problem with the Russian system the Chinese have been using until now.

China’s Shenzhou and Tiangong-1 space laboratory, a test module already in orbit, use a modified version of Russia’s Androgynous Peripheral Attach System (APAS). APAS was developed for the 1975 Apollo Soyuz Test Project and is used on the International Space Station (ISS).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Cash Grab: Inactive Bank Accounts to be Seized

The government will from May 31 be able to transfer all money from accounts that have not been used for three years into their own revenues. Picture: Luzio Grossi Source: news.com.au

HOUSEHOLDS face losing up to $109 million from their family savings as the Federal government moves to seize cash from inactive bank accounts.

After legislation was rushed through parliament, the government will from May 31 be able to transfer all money from accounts that have not been used for three years into their own revenues.

This will mean that accounts with anything from $1 upwards that have not had any deposit or withdrawals in the past three years will be transferred to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

The law is forecast to raise $109 million this year as inactive accounts for three years or more are raided by Treasury.

The money can be reclaimed from ASIC but the process can take months.

Experts warn this will have a negative impact on people that may have put money away in a special account for their children’s education or decided to put an inheritance in a separate account for a rainy day.

The previous legislation allowed for bank accounts to remain inactive for up to 7 years before the money was transferred to ASIC…

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           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Character Traits of Truly Evil People

The first dangerous mistake the average person makes is the assumption that “evil” is a kind of subjective concept. We would love to believe that all destructive and malicious behavior is merely a product of bad environment, bad upbringing or mental psychosis. Deviance in the name of “profit” or “status” is often more acceptable to the public, as long as there is a reason we can easily understand and grasp.

What frightens the average American today is not the abhorrent action of criminality; rather, it is criminality without rationality. What frightens the common citizen is the possibility that some people hurt others not because their mommy and daddy “mistreated” them or because they have a psychological deficiency, but because they fully and consciously enjoy doing what they do.

Our society is desperate to make excuses for the monsters of our era, perhaps because we would rather not entertain the possibility that there is a dark side to humanity that, if allowed, could take control in a deliberate and calculated way.

This is why the greatest crimes of our time often go ignored by the public. The idea, for instance, that international financiers and political elites would purposely create economic disparity, social chaos and global war out of a desire for centralized power and a disturbed sense of superiority is simply too much for many to handle. Surely, these terrible events throughout our modern history are merely the result of random coincidence and human error, right?

Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, most catastrophic cultural policies and tragedies can be traced back directly to a subset of people who use their positions of influence for ill purpose and who knowingly engineer calamity not just for personal gain, but also for the gain of their social class.

In the liberty movement, we often refer to members of this group as “globalists” or “elitists.” They permeate the upper echelons of our Nation, and they do indeed have a culture that is entirely separate and disparate from our own. If one studies their literature, initiatives and motives, he would discover another world, driven by outlandish goals and an even more outlandish brand of religious fervor. Here are some of the character traits and beliefs that make these people easy to identify.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Daniel Pipes: Islamist Assassinations in the West

Terrorism broadly takes two forms: against random individuals who happen to be at a market place or on a bus at the wrong time; or against specific individuals because of who they are. The latter in turn divides into two: against broad categories of people (the military, Jews, people who were eyeglasses) and against specific public figures, either individuals or institutions. In effect, these last are assassinations (defined by Merriam-Webster as “to murder (a usually prominent person) by sudden or secret attack often for political reasons”).

Horrific as the first two genres are, assassinations are the most terrifying and effective. Whereas the first two can happen to anyone and have the effect of creating a universal but vague dread, the third focuses on a small pool of targets and sends a specific signal to others not to follow in their footsteps. In general, therefore, assassinations inspire the most consequential fear, intimidate the most, and have the greatest consequences.

Actual public Western victims of Islamist violence have included:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Death Knell for the CO2 Theory

In reality the tropospheric CO2 provides a net cooling effect, not a greenhouse “blanket.”

The death knell tolls for the Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Gas Theory (CO2-GHT). If the CO2-GHT ever was a plausible theory, it is rapidly turning into a giant hoax. The perceived scientific underpinnings of the theory are unravelling fast.

It took a while to get the “Anti-CO2-Warmist-Theory” scientific camp on the right footing. Now, Principia Scientific Intl. (PSI) has taken the lead in dispelling the last of the CO2-GHT “consensus”-based vestiges.

The latest nail for the CO2-GHT coffin has been contributed by Dr. Charles R. Anderson with his article “The Most Essential Physics of the Earth’s Temperature and Why Carbon Dioxide is No Threat to the Earth.” This comes hard on the heels of a recent paper on “The phase relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature” by Dr. Ole Humlum and coworkers. Their work showed conclusively that the regular seasonal variations in the atmospheric CO2 levels are lagging the sea surface temperatures by 9.5 to 12 months — not the other way.

To begin with, as Albert Einstein clearly demonstrated 80 years ago, science does not work by “consensus.” It never has and never will. For example, with regard to any theory, most or even all people may think of it as being correct, only to be proven wrong when new insights and testing methods become available. Consensus is a societal or judicial term which has no place in science.

[Comment: VERY informative article — well worth reading.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

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