Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/27/2013

A new political poll in Denmark revealed a surprise result: the Danish People’s Party is now second place in popularity, moving ahead of the governing party, the Social Democrats, who have dropped into third place. Venstre, the party of the previous government, polled in the top position.

In other news, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza launched a rocket attack on the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon last night, the first violation of the ceasefire brokered by Egypt late last year. No one was injured in the attack, and the city resumed business as usual this morning.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Diana West, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Jerry Gordon, JP, Lurker from Tulsa, MC, Nick, Steen, TV, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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


Financial Crisis
» French Unemployment Hits Record High
» New Scandalous Emails Put JP Morgan in Hot Water
» Portugal: ‘We Hold Europe’s Social Cuts Record’
» The Architects of Our Economic Demise
» Turkish Industrialist Says More Firms to Bankrupt
» Unemployment Now the Main Problem in Eurozone
 
USA
» Capitalism: A Hate Story
» Congressional Nominee: NRA Doomed
» Elena Kagan, The Fox in the Chicken Coop
» First Private Mars Mission Aims to Launch in 2018
» New Report Details Al-Qaida Membership in the US
» Power is Not a Means; It is an End
» Republican AGs See Obama Misuse of Power
» Senate Confirms Lew as Treasury Chief
» Senate GOP Ponders Ceding Power to Obama
» Shapiro: How Obama Wins
» South Carolina & Oregon Legislators Rolling Out Gun Bans
» South Carolina on Verge of Revolution
» Students Told to Call 9-11 Hijackers “Freedom Fighters”
» The Online Presence of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman — The Blind Sheikh: Official Website Hosted in Chicago, Active on YouTube, Twitter, And Facebook
» Twenty Years After WTC 1: From Willful Blindness to Coerced Silence
» Wanted: Married Couple for Private Mars Voyage in 2018
» Why Does Anyone Need to Read About Celebrities?
 
Canada
» SUN News Needs Your Help!!!
 
Europe and the EU
» Anti-Semitism Up 30% in Belgium
» Benedict to be Called ‘Pope Emeritus’, Wear White
» Denmark: Dansk Folkeparti and Socialdemokraterne Equally Popular
» Denmark: Social-Democratic Slump Deepens as PM’s Party Slips to Third in Poll
» European Commission Demands £86million Back From Britain After Government Broke Rules in Handing Out Subsidies to Farmers
» Five Killed and Several Injured After Gunman Goes Berserk in Swiss Wood Processing Plant
» France: Two New Arrests in Toulouse Gunman Probe
» Geneticists Estimate Publication Date of the ‘Iliad’
» Greece: Former Mayor of Salonika Jailed for Corruption
» Horsemeat Scandal and Global Processed Food Suppliers Linked to Arms Trafficking
» Italy: Copper Thieves Tie Up Rail Line to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport
» Italy: And the Winner is… Beppe Grillo
» Italy: Bersani Says ‘EU Must Listen to Message From Election’
» Italy: The Mystery of Berlusconi’s Silent But Resilient Support
» The Talk of the Special Relationship Can’t Hide the Fact That the US and Britain Are Far Apart Over the Middle East
» Tuberculosis — An Old Plague Comes Back Stronger
» UK: Bullfinch Trial: Day 26
» UK: College Lecturer Confronts Teenage Bullies Who Punched Her Nine-Year-Old Son… and She’s Dragged to Court for Breaching the Peace
» UK: Cover-Up Culture and Public Contempt
» UK: Dance Academy Could Become Mosque After Owner Loses Licence
» UK: Four Police Cars and a Helicopter to Chase Man on a 15mph Moped: The Not-So-Nailbiting Pursuit Where Rider Even Slowed for Speed Humps
» UK: Judge Blames 15-Year-Old Boy’s Internet Porn Obsession for His Rape of Girl, 14, In a ‘Heinous’ Attack
» UK: Muslims to Sue Over Prison Meat
» UK: Newham Councillor Accuses Respect Campaigner Yvonne Ridley of Using “Inflammatory” Language
» UK: Police Told Teen Rape Vicitim They Could “Only Prosecute Her Abuser on Drugs Offences”, Old Bailey Hears [Bullfinch Trial]
» UK: Tony Blair Admits People Are Still ‘Very Abusive’ 10 Years After He Ordered Iraq Invasion
» UK: Unhappy Voters Backing UKIP, Michael Gove Admits
 
Balkans
» Serbia Places Economic Hopes in Latest Investor: U.A.E.
 
North Africa
» Algerian Troops Kill Al-Qaeda Commander
» Egypt: Christians Ask Govt to Reconsider Election Date
» Obama Urges Egyptian President to Build Political Consensus
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Ashkelon Back to Routine After Attack
» Israel Closes Major Gaza Crossing After Rocket Strike
 
Middle East
» Hundreds of Foreign Jihadists Leave Syria Amid Intensive Clashes
» Iran Moves a Step Closer to Getting the Bomb
» Iranian Officials: The Jews Are Responsible for the Massacre of Muslims in Myanmar
» The Stuxnet Malworm Missing Link- Version 0.5 Predates Prior Disclosures
» Wahhabi Islam: The Royal Puppet Masters
 
Russia
» Putin Calls for Russian Military Upgrades
» Russian Meteor’s Origin and Size Pinned Down
 
Caucasus
» Over 50 Militants Killed in Russia Since Start of 2013
 
South Asia
» 7 Hurt in Afghanistan Suicide Attack
» ‘Drop’ In Insurgent Attacks in Afghanistan is Clerical Error
» Maldives Girl to Get 100 Lashes for Pre-Marital Sex
» Singapore Muslims Excited Over New Mosque Construction
 
Far East
» Cyber Menace: Digital Spying Burdens German-Chinese Relations
 
Australia — Pacific
» ABC Hacked in Protest at Wilders Interview
» Muslim Cleric Man Haron Monis Loses Bid to Have Charges Over Offensive Letters Quashed
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Clinton Lists Nigeria’s Challenges
» France Rules Out Talks With Kidnappers of Family Seized in Cameroon
» Somalia: Al-Shabaab Kills Two Officials in Gedo
» The South African Hair Thieves Targeting Dreadlocks
» Traumatized Malians Desperately in Need of Aid, Says U.N.
 
Immigration
» Germany: New Rules ‘Open Door’ To Skilled Foreigners
» Obama’s Release of Illegals ‘Impeachable Offense’
» Sweden: ‘Migration Forces Policy Makers to Shape Up’
 
Culture Wars
» Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s Prayers
» Major U.S. Companies Back ‘Gay’ Marriage
» Muslims Debate Gay People on the BBC
» Swedish Transgendereds Battle for Forced Sterilization Payouts
» UK: Oxford Accused of ‘Bias’ Against Ethnic Minorities Because of Success of White Candidates in Getting Places on Competitive Courses
» University of Manchester Student Union Executive Launches Investigation Over Anti-Gay Muslim Recording
 
General
» Churchill on Islam, Yet Again
» Islamist Assassinations in the West
» Monster Black Hole’s Spin Revealed for 1st Time
» Oceana Investigation Uncovers Massive Consumer Fraud in Mislabeled Fish
» The True History of Gun Control — Timeline

French Unemployment Hits Record High

Unemployment in France has hit a 15-year high, reports AFP. The number of people out of work increased by 43,000 in January. There are now 3.16 million without jobs, an 10.7 percent increase compared to the same month last year. The figures are the worst on record since 1997.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

New Scandalous Emails Put JP Morgan in Hot Water

Anyway, the latest batch of emails to come out in a Wall Street scandal are emails from bankers at a division of JP Morgan. In these emails, the bankers seem to reveal that JP Morgan misrepresented the quality of some mortgages that it packaged and sold to investors — including a big firm called Dexia. The emails, which are detailed here in this New York Times story, do indeed look damning. The employees at JP Morgan who wrote them will have some explaining to do.

And if the emails reveal what the investigators think they reveal — that JP Morgan actually defrauded its clients — then JP Morgan and the executives should obviously pay a big price for that.

But if my own experience has taught me anything, it is to reserve judgement about emails until they are evaluated in context.

Because the reality of email is that it is easy for an initial reaction, stressful situation, difference of professional opinion, or other situation to produce documents that look awful in hindsight. And a sense of the broader context often makes these emails seem much less scandalous than they first appear.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Portugal: ‘We Hold Europe’s Social Cuts Record’

Jornal de Notícias, 26 February 2013

During 2011 and 2012, Portugal cut welfare spending by €3.7bn, almost equal to the €4bn in additional cuts that the Troika and government want to see slashed from public spending in 2013 and 2014.

Although the country is below the European average for social spending as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the worsening recession seems to have taken spending cut plans by the government and Troika — made up of the European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund — “by surprise”.

The Troika’s seventh review of the Portuguese bailout agreement, which started on February 25 and will last for about two weeks, will be marked by an attempt by Lisbon to soften the terms of the austerity, in order to stem the rise in unemployment and prevent the country plunging into a recessionary spiral.

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

The Architects of Our Economic Demise

Part I: Aldrich-Vreeland Act, Federal Reserve, Jekyll Island

Today, we are witnessing the final stages of the greatest financial fraud ever perpetrated on the American people. Behind the massive debt, threat of “sequestration,” and the threat of massive pending layoffs exists a story that must be told and understood by every American. It is a truth that too few understand and even fewer will talk about.

The system has been rigged. However, understanding exactly what is being done to us, our country, and our economy has been deliberately made difficult for a person of average or even above-average intelligence by the architects of our demise. This process continues today, and much of it is done in secret or behind closed doors.

Every person on the planet is being robbed of their wealth by a select group of people. Worse, they are robbing your children, grandchildren, and further generations of their wealth not yet earned and (by extension) their time not yet invested, while making you believe that their enrichment is your moral obligation. It’s mental conditioning on a grand scale. How we got here

A significant aspect of understanding why we find ourselves in our current financial mess is to understand exactly how we got here in the first place. Like most events taking place in Washington, DC, we are witnessing the ongoing shredding of the United States Constitution by both sides of the political divide. Yet how many people actually understand that what is taking place is completely unconstitutional? Thanks to the incremental infusion of Communist goals into the legal and societal framework of the fabric of America, people have been intellectually hobbled by a complicit media and a compromised educational system…

On June 10, 1932, Rep. McFadden addressed the House of Representatives with this important message [emphasis added]:

Some people think the Federal Reserve banks are United States Government institutions. They are not government institutions. They are private credit monopolies which prey upon the people of the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers. The Federal Reserve banks are the agents of the foreign central banks. Henry Ford has said, ‘The one aim of these financiers is world control by the creation of inextinguishable debts.’ The truth is the Federal Reserve Board has usurped the Government of the United States by the arrogant credit monopoly which operates the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks.”…

“The dollar represents a one dollar debt to the Federal Reserve System. The Federal Reserve Banks create money out of thin air to buy Government bonds from the United States Treasury, lending money into circulation at interest, by bookkeeping entries of checkbook credit to the United States Treasury. The Treasury writes up an interest bearing bond for one billion dollars. The Federal Reserve gives the Treasury a one billion dollar credit for the bond, and has created out of nothing a one billion dollar debt which the American people are obligated to pay with interest.” — Money Facts, House Banking and Currency Committee, 1964, p. 9

[Comment: A MUST READ article! ]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Turkish Industrialist Says More Firms to Bankrupt

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, FEBRUARY 26 — The number of Turkish firms going bankrupt will increase after March due to a shrinkage in the markets and interim payments, the head of the Ankara Chamber of Industry (ASO), Nurettin Ozdebir, has said as daily Hurriyet reports. Many companies have already gone bankrupt because of a market contraction, Ozdebir said at a press event on Sunday, adding that there were other factors that were creating pressure in the markets.

Ozdebir also said he expected many more firms would declare bankruptcy beginning in March. However, the economic performance in the industry remained the same last year, he said, noting that the industry did not grow. “The part that makes USD 90 billion in exports consists of goods produced abroad. We can fix the current account deficit as long as we produce most of this amount,” he said. The ASO president said the monetary policy adopted by the Central Bank led people to anticipate that the interest rate would fall but added that banking sector professionals had said credit costs would increase along with interest rates.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Unemployment Now the Main Problem in Eurozone

BRUSSELS — February 22 was a black Friday wherever you were in Europe. The morning brought the publication of dismal economic data to the effect that the eurozone will remain in recession in 2013.

Then, at 10pm Brussels time as the the markets closed, ratings agency Moody’s quietly issued a statement stripping the UK of its AAA credit rating.

For those lulled into a false sense of security through a recent combination of relatively benign financial markets and the euro strengthening against sterling and the yen, it was a rude awakening.

Reading the European Commission’s Winter Forecast is a singularly dispiriting experience. The bald figures are that the eurozone is expected to remain in recession with a 0.3 percent contraction in 2013. The words “sluggish … weak … vulnerable … modest … fragile’“ litter the 140 pages of charts and analysis.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Capitalism: A Hate Story

When Obama launched his big push for higher taxes, he enlisted as his ally none other than the richest man in the country. And when Occupy Wall Street’s demographics were broken down, the courageous opponents of capitalism turned out to be the sons and daughters of the upper class.

This sort of thing isn’t a surprise, it’s history. Lenin’s father was a nobleman. Cuba’s dictator attended Castro’s wedding. The man of the people is rather often stuck at the bottom of the top of the pole. The people who make revolutions are not the dispossessed, but those who are close enough to see what power really looks like, but have no hope of wielding absolute power unless they enlist the mob. They are close enough to see the throne, but not close enough to non-violently sit down in it.

That’s not even the case in America. Here we instead have the bizarre spectacle of Nicholas II and Batista calling for a revolution against the petite bourgeoisie. It’s a class war being waged by billionaires against people earning six figures a year. It’s millionaires making movies for profit using workers to denounce the practice of making things for profit using workers.

All of this is done in the name of democracy. Just look at the Democracy Alliance, an alliance of left-wing billionaires spending huge amounts of money to win elections. What could be more democratic than that except actually paying individuals for their vote.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Congressional Nominee: NRA Doomed

Illinois Democrat claims gun-freedom group holding U.S. hostage

(WASHINGTON TIMES) The Democratic nominee to take over former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s House seat vowed in her Tuesday evening victory speech to tackle gun-related violence and take a leadership role in the national debate over gun control.

Robin Kelly, a former Illinois state representative, also suggested a head-on war against the National Rifle Association, according to a report from The Associated Press.

“Their days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end,” she said, according to AP.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Elena Kagan, The Fox in the Chicken Coop

“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

As the Supreme Court conveniently looks at the issue of homosexual marriage, the Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to strike down the federal law defining marriage as a union between only a man and a woman.

The specific issue the Supreme Court will be deciding on is the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996 to protect marriage as between a man and a woman. Radical homosexuals are attempting to create an unlawful stir because part of the law bars them from receiving federal benefits that heterosexual married couples receive, even in states where same sex marriage is considered “legal.”

Apparently these pretended justices have a severe hearing problem. Thirty-one states have already voted down homosexual marriage in agreement with the Laws of God and our Republic and a little common sense, while nine states and Washington, D.C. have deceived themselves into thinking that THEY HAVE defied God and the people and unlawfully passed homosexual marriage.

Haven’t they learned from Canada, who is suffering dire consequences after illegally passing homosexual marriage?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

First Private Mars Mission Aims to Launch in 2018

The first people to visit Mars will get there in five years — if an audacious plan for a privately funded fly-by of the planet actually comes to fruition.

This week the Inspiration Mars Foundation, a newly formed non-profit organisation, announced plans for a mission to Mars launching on 5 January 2018 and arriving at the planet in August of that year. Dennis Tito, who in 2001 became the first space tourist to visit the International Space Station, heads the foundation. The trip will be funded primarily by philanthropic donations.

Orbital trajectories shared on Twitter by team member Michael Loucks show plans for a spacecraft to leave Earth, fly past Mars and then come home — all within 501 days. The craft will pass over Mars at a distance of about 160 kilometres carrying a two-person crew, probably a married man and woman who will be paid to make the trip.

Project managers have not yet decided on the selection criteria for crew members. But the people chosen will have to have working knowledge of spacecraft systems, be comfortable in an isolated and confined environment and possess strong communications skills, says foundation spokeswoman Jessica Ballard. “We will most definitely be seeking NASA’s experience and knowledge of crew selection and training,” she said in an email to New Scientist.

Risky ride

The time frame for setting up the trip is tight, but the team thinks it will be possible because the plan is based mostly on existing technology — rockets and launch vehicles designed by private spaceflight firm SpaceX, the first commercial venture to start making regular visits to the International Space Station.

Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, had previously promised to deliver humans to MarsMovie Camera within a decade or so. The company says it is not involved with Tito’s planned mission, but they will happily sell him a ride. “SpaceX is always open to providing a full spectrum of launch services to interested customers,” says spokeswoman Christina Ra.

Inspiration Mars says the team is still evaluating options for spacecraft and has yet to strike a deal with a supplier.

Whichever craft they pick, it is not yet clear how the crew will be protected against radiation damage beyond Earth’s magnetic shielding, says Marco Durante of the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany. “The radiation exposure is proportional to the time in space,” he says, and a Mars mission would break human records for the longest continuous time spent in space (438 days).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

New Report Details Al-Qaida Membership in the US

New York seen as a terror group hub; majority of members under age 30, have US citizenship, well-educated, employed.

WASHINGTON — More than half of all al-Qaida operatives and their affiliates in the United States who have committed terrorist offenses are US citizens and a third were born in America, according to a new report profiling the groups’ American adherents.

The 720-page, telephone book-sized volume produced by the Henry Jackson Society and presented at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Tuesday, carefully examines the 171 cases of al- Qaida members or those inspired by the organization who have been convicted in US courts or participated in suicide attacks against the US homeland between 1997 and 2011.

The study found that 95 percent of the terrorist offenses were committed by men, 57% of whom were under the age of 30. New York was seen as a hub for their activity, with more — 14% — residing there than elsewhere and with large number of those living elsewhere trafficking through.

Nearly a quarter of the operatives were converts to Islam, with over half of those born in the US having converted.

And those who converted, all of whom did so from Christianity as far as could be ascertained, were far more likely to have carried out offenses (as opposed to having participated only in training or incitement) than others.

The group researched were fairly well-educated and employed. More than half had attended some form of college, and a quarter had done some higher study. In addition, more than half, or 57%, were in school or had a job at the time they were charged or committed their attacks.

Report co-author Robin Simcox described the operatives as “US citizens who are mostly educated, mostly employed, who haven’t been marginalized by the system. They’ve mostly passed through the system.”

However, he and Michael Hayden, the former Central Intelligence Agency director who wrote the report’s forward, suggested that more personal experiences of social dislocation could be a major factor in who ended up being radicalized.

“I’m willing to accept the possibility that this has a lot more to do with the Crips and the Bloods than it does with the Koran,” Hayden said. “Maybe this is just one expression in a post-industrial society of how young people… deal with alienation.”

He continued, “That doesn’t dismiss it. That doesn’t make it unimportant. In fact it’s a particular form of embrace that makes the alienated [person] even more dangerous.”

Simcox said that there was a tremendous spike in the numbers of al-Qaida adherents in the US after the September 11 attacks, as these individuals were apparently drawn to the group’s ideology.

He suggested that alienated individuals might have been attracted to radical Islam at that point, rather than other outlets, because of the widespread attention to and dissemination of al-Qaida’s message, particularly through YouTube and other Internet vehicles.

Those who were later arrested often expressed their outrage with various American policies in the Middle East, such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Simcox noted, but he said there was little indication terror activities were carried out in direct reaction to events overseas.

He added that, “In a lot of them you see foreign grievances being brought up [but] from the US’s point of view there’s only so really much you can do about that.” He concluded, “You have to try to make your best and soundest policies, and after that it might cause some levels of radicalization.”

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

Power is Not a Means; It is an End

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

Following the 9/11 attack, the US government created The Information Awareness Office (IAO) which brought together several projects focused on applying surveillance and information technology to track and monitor terrorists and other threats to U.S. national security through what they call Total Information Awareness (TIA). [4]

TIA is the name of a massive U.S. data mining project focused on scanning financial transactions, phone calls, emails, internet searches, etc. from public and private sources with the stated goal of detecting and preventing transnational threats to national security. TIA was created in January 2003 as part of the Homeland Security Act. But after severe public outcry, Congress agreed to cut funding on it in 2006. However, like all government agencies, this privacy sucking vampire was silently moved over to other agencies, specifically the National Security Agency (NSA) which is also called “Never Say Anything” by its detractors.[4]

Since taking over the congressionally outlawed TIA, the NSA has created data collection posts located all over the US intercepting all communications going into or out of the US, spy satellites covering the entire planet and the use of drones over the US. The government has effectively turned the American people into the most spied on people in history. But as vast as this eavesdropping network is, there are still shortcomings in the system. At this time, they are limited to recording people’s communications and only actively monitoring a limited number. Also, much of the data, such as financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, and confidential personal communications are encrypted to keep them private. [4], [5], [6]

But the NSA believes it is on the threshold of breaking the encryptions of these private communications and thus laying open every piece of communication zipping through cyberspace. However, analyzing every piece of communication requires an incredible amount of computer storage and speed which until now, did not exist.

Enter the Utah Data Center, located in Bluffdale, Utah. This multi-billion dollar, top-secret, 240 acre facility, is the absolute fulfillment of “Big Brother,” immortalized in George Orwell’s “1984.” It’s created to store and analyze up to 500,000,000,000,000,000,000 pages of text. That’s a five followed by 20 zeros affectionately called a yottabyte of information to be stored in its 1-million-square-foot facility. Within these walls, it will now be possible to store and analyze for patterns, every piece of electronic data being generated today…

This means turning everything a person does electronically into a graph allowing the NSA to create a very detailed picture of a person’s life. The question, of course, is how the agency defines who is, and who is not, “a potential adversary.”

[…]

We are living in an America where many in the media, academic realm and politicians are labeling those who support limited government, American sovereignty, the protection of the Bill of Rights, and other conservative principles as extremists. [15] [16]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Republican AGs See Obama Misuse of Power

(WASHINGTON TIMES) Top Republican legal officials say the Obama administration is reneging on key duties such as border security while overstepping its role through health care mandates and tight regulation of the energy industry, a trend that has led states to heighten their defenses against federal intrusion.

As states brace for cutbacks from the sequester standoff between President Obama and congressional Republicans, several of their elected attorneys general contrast that gridlock — and not in a good way — with Mr. Obama’s precedent-setting use of executive orders and federal rule-making.

“You just see it all over the place. You see it in land management, you see it in energy development, “ Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers told The Washington Times on Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview with editors and reporters. “It’s a pretty significant trend, I think.”

[Comment: That’s nice. What are those AGs going to DO about it?]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Senate Confirms Lew as Treasury Chief

The Senate on Wednesday easily and, for the most part, affably confirmed President Obama’s pick for Treasury secretary, Jacob J. Lew, just one day after the president’s nominee for defense secretary narrowly survived a highly politicized confirmation vote.

Little of the acrimony that held up the nomination of Chuck Hagel, the former Nebraska senator who began his first day as defense secretary on Wednesday, was present in the debate over Mr. Lew.

The final vote was 71 to 26, with 20 Republicans joining the Democratic majority in support of the nomination.

[Return to headlines]

Senate GOP Ponders Ceding Power to Obama

McConnell trying to unite conference behind sequestration idea

(POLITICO) Days before the March 1 deadline, Senate Republicans are circulating a draft bill that would cancel $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts and instead turn over authority to President Barack Obama to achieve the same level of savings under a plan to be filed by March 8.

The five- page document, which has the tacit support of Senate GOP leaders, represents a remarkable shift for the party. Having railed against Senate Democrats for not passing a budget, Republicans are now proposing that Congress surrender an important piece of its Constitutional “power of the purse” for the last seven months of this fiscal year.

As proposed, lawmakers would retain the power to overturn the president’s spending plan by March 22, but only under a resolution of disapproval that would demand two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate to prevail over an Obama veto.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Shapiro: How Obama Wins

President Obama is one of the great political knife-fighters in modern history. He is a failed president — his economy is bleak, his foreign policy bleaker, his vision for American even bleaker still. But he wins.

He wins by losing.

President Obama has only had two major policy victories during his tenure: the stimulus package and Obamacare. Both are massively unpopular. The stimulus package launched the tea party movement. Obamacare led to the Republican wipeout of 2010.

Then Obama began to lose. He wasn’t able to push forward climate change legislation or immigration reform or gun control or increased taxes before the election of 2012. And he won a sweeping electoral victory. The strategy was — and is — simple. Obama pursues policies that are widely popular and then purposefully sinks them by casting Republicans as obstructionists.

He is not truly interested in immigration reform; Republicans are fools to think that he is. Obama wants to raise the issue of immigration reform so that he can demonize Republicans as anti-Hispanic.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

South Carolina & Oregon Legislators Rolling Out Gun Bans

Last week we told you how California legislators were in the process of criminalizing most of the state’s law abiding gun owners. Well two more states can now be added to the list of places actively working to destroy the 2nd amendment.

South Carolina: House Bill 3575 banning semi-auto rifles and shotguns.

South Carolina is the latest in a string of states trying to take away your right to bear arms. Yesterday, South Carolina legislators introduced House Bill 3575, a piece of legislation that will ban most semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.

The ban will go after:

[…]

Not to be outdone, Oregon Introduced House Bill 3200, a bill that will ban almost all semi-automatic firearms.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

South Carolina on Verge of Revolution

For the first time in my lifetime, citizens are afraid. They are angry, some are desperate and they are ready to take action. They are afraid of an increasingly dictatorial federal government, and angry because their elected officials in the South Carolina General Assembly appear unwilling to use the constitutional power of the state to protect the citizens.

Citizens were allegedly ridiculed and virtually ignored by members of a House committee recently when they attempted to convince committee members to support H-3101 Freedom of Healthcare Act. A second hearing has been promised.

A Day of Resistance has been declared in Greenville County. A “Protect Us Now Rally” is set for Saturday, February 23, at Greenville County Square from 10; 00 A.M. until 12:00 Noon. Sponsors of the protective legislation will be speaking along with other community leaders.

Charges of corruption are beginning to surface, and that could get ugly because legislative leaders are involved in some of the allegations. Several hospital and medical associations are lobbying against the bills to block Obamacare.

That raises the question: Why? Why are they in favor of Obamacare that the majority of South Carolina citizens oppose? The possibility of corruption has been mentioned. Ethics violations are another matter being discussed. It is reported that Hospital and Medical Associations gave more than $250,000.00 to South Carolina House members in 2012.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Students Told to Call 9-11 Hijackers “Freedom Fighters”

An Advanced Placement World Geography teacher at a Texas high school who encouraged students to dress in Islamic clothing also instructed them to refer to the 9-11 hijackers not as terrorists — but as “freedom fighters,” according to students who were in the class.

Students at Lumberton High School were also told to stop referring to the Holocaust as Genocide — instead they were told to use the term “ethnic cleansing.”

John Valastro, the superintendent of the Lumberton Independent School District, told Fox News that the teacher did absolutely nothing wrong.

“What is more dangerous — fear and ignorance or education and understanding,” he asked. “From our standpoint, we are here to educate the kids.”

Valastro said the teacher involved is a 32-year veteran who was simply following state teaching guidelines…

Madelyn LeBlanc told Fox News that it was clear her teacher was very uncomfortable lecturing the students.

“I do have a lot of sympathy for her,” the 15-year-old said. “At the very beginning she said she didn’t want to teach it but it was in the curriculum.”

Her mother added that it was her impression that the teacher did not agree with the quote about calling the terrorists freedom fighters and laced her lecture with sarcasm.

During a lesson on Judaism, LeBlanc said the teacher told the class, “Students, I’m supposed to be politically correct and tell you that the Holocaust was not Genocide. It was an ethnic cleansing.”…

Fox News has learned that the lessons were not part of a controversial statewide curriculum called CSCOPE. That program has generated massive criticism for being pro-Islam and anti-Christian.

Janice VanCleave, a vocal CSCOPE critic and the founder of Texas CSCOPE Review, said that may be the case — but the fingerprints of CSCOPE are all over the AP class…

Fox News has learned that the lessons were not part of a controversial statewide curriculum called CSCOPE. That program has generated massive criticism for being pro-Islam and anti-Christian.

Janice VanCleave, a vocal CSCOPE critic and the founder of Texas CSCOPE Review, said that may be the case — but the fingerprints of CSCOPE are all over the AP class.

[Comment: Research CSCOPE curriculum. This is a top down imposition of what to teach. The teacher had no choice if she wanted to keep her job. Note the slimy relativism explanations by the school superindentent.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Online Presence of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman — The Blind Sheikh: Official Website Hosted in Chicago, Active on YouTube, Twitter, And Facebook

Sheikh Dr. Omar Abdel-Rahman, aka ‘the Blind Sheikh,’ was arrested on July 1, 1993 in Brooklyn, New York and on October 1, 1995 was convicted of seditious conspiracy and solicitation to attack a military installation on Staten Island, and conspiracies to bomb New York landmarks. On January 17, 1996, he was sentenced to life in prison.

A federal jury convicted Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman of planning to wage a “war of urban terrorism” against the United States, including blowing up the United Nations building, the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, the main federal office building in Manhattan, and the George Washington Bridge.

Recent Al-Qaeda and jihadi propaganda have focused on calls for the release of the Blind Sheikh; among these was a statement by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri released on September 10, 2012, the day prior to the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and another video by Ayman Al-Zawahiri released on October 24, 2012. In addition, on January 23, 2013, Al-Rudoud Al-Qawiyya L’il Murjia Al-Ghawiyya, a popular Facebook page associated with the Salafi-jihadi movement worldwide, posted a list of the gains reaped by the jihad movement from the attack on the ‘Ain Amenas gas installation in Algeria: “Reviving the tenet of al-wala’ wal bara’ in the souls of the ummah. This was expressed in the brothers’ demands during the negotiations with the enemy, such as the demands to release the mujahid sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman.”

Official Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman Website, Sheikh-omar.com, Dedicated To Obtaining His Release, Hosted In Chicago

The official website of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, Sheikh-omar.com, was created June 24, 2010, and is hosted in Chicago, IL by SingleHop.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Twenty Years After WTC 1: From Willful Blindness to Coerced Silence

by Diana West

Andrew C. McCarthy, who successfully prosecuted Abdel Rahman, the “blind sheikh” who masterminded the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, poignantly reflects on how it is that two decades of jihad have failed to prod the West into acknowledging and confronting the specifically Islamic brand of war, part-violence, part-subversion, that is leading to our demise as a civilization through the strangulating imposition, both de facto and de jure, of Islamic law in the West.

Andy draws a line between that long-ago demonic attempt to kill thousands in the heart of New York City on February 26, 1993 — insistently, deceptively and self-deceptively protrayed as “wanton” violence devoid of doctrine — with the near-assassation of Lars Hedegaard, a Danish newspaper editor, on a quiet street in Copenhagen three weeks ago. This recent event — a strike at a man whose career as a writer and free-speaker stands in defiance of Islamic law — is another bead on the string linking Pim Fortyn (assassinated 2002), Theo van Gogh (assassinated 2004), Hirsi Ali, Geert Wilders, Kurt Westergaard, Lars Vilks, and many others “marked for death” by Islam for failing to fall silent about Islam’s threat to our liberty, as Islamic law (sharia) demands. To our great detriment — and to our greater shame — the United States government has effectively bowed to these demands by joining with the Islamic bloc (OIC) to help criminalize criticism of Islam.

The Islamic doctrine behind these barbaric if Islamically correct death sentences is as wished-away today as it was 20 years ago, when the Blind Sheikh brought jihad to Manhattan. People actually seem to believe that if they ignore it, it may not go away exactly, but it won’t hurt them. The fact is, however, it already has hurt them, warping them, robbing them, transforming them into denizens of a post-liberty society, where a Hedegaard, a Wilders, is an outlier, a voice of one crying in a wilderness of smart sets, polite people, and other degraded dhimmi. It is this mass of Westerners whose willful blindness, as Andy would say, has become a coerced silence.

It reads like science fiction, but that is the reality a frank assessment of the past two decades shows us. Andy writes:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]

Wanted: Married Couple for Private Mars Voyage in 2018

WASHINGTON — A new nonprofit led by the world’s first space tourist is mounting an ambitious plan to launch the first manned mission to Mars in 2018, a voyage that could include an adventurous married crew.

The project, led by American millionaire Dennis Tito — who paid his own way to space in 2001 — aims not to land people on the surface of the Red Planet, but to take advantage of a rare planetary alignment that would allow a relatively easy, quick flyby of Mars.

Tito announced the private Mars voyage plan today (Feb. 27) here at the National Press Club, where he held a press conference to launch his new organization, the Inspiration Mars Foundation, to back the mission.

Tito hopes to choose a space capsule and rocket from among those already on the market, and modify them to carry two people to Mars and back in 501 days.

And to combat the loneliness and isolation that would doubtless set in during such a mission, Tito is proposing something that’s never been tried before: sending one male and one female, preferably a married couple.

“When you’re out that far and the Earth is a tiny, blue pinpoint, you’re going to need someone you can hug,” Tito told SPACE.com. “What better solution to the psychological problems you’re going to encounter with that isolation?”

The mission is designed to capitalize on a launch opportunity that opens in January 2018.

“There are rare opportunities to actually go out to Mars and come back in a relatively short time, about 1.4 years, or 500 or so days,” Tito said. “If one misses those opportunities, then typical flight times would be two to three years.”

Though he admits the plan faces numerous challenges, Tito says it’s doable.

“I’ve seen others come out with fantasy missions that in no way will actually occur,” he said. “I didn’t want to fall into that.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Why Does Anyone Need to Read About Celebrities?

Having given up on trying to persuade Americans that taking guns away from law-abiding citizens will reduce the murder rate, Democrats have turned to their usual prohibitionary argument: “Why does anyone need (an assault weapon, a 30-round magazine, a semiautomatic, etc., etc.)?”

Phony conservative Joe Manchin, who won his U.S. Senate seat in West Virginia with an ad showing him shooting a gun, said, “I don’t know anyone (who) needs 30 rounds in a clip.”

CNN’s Don Lemon, who does not fit the usual profile of the avid hunter and outdoorsman, demanded, “Who needs an assault rifle to go hunting?”

Fantasist Dan Rather said, “There is no need to have these high-powered assault weapons.”

And prissy Brit Piers Morgan thought he’d hit on a real showstopper with, “I don’t know why anyone needs an assault rifle.” Of course, where he comes from, policemen carry wooden sticks…

“I don’t see why anyone needs …” is code for: “I don’t do it, so let’s ban it.” The corollary is: “I enjoy this, so you have to subsidize it.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

SUN News Needs Your Help!!!

The fight for the Sun News Network has just taken a troubling turn!

As you know, Sun News has applied to the CRTC for a must-carry licence to bring Sun News on a level playing field with their competitors.

But that fight is getting ugly. In the final hours of the CRTC’s official comment period, far left-wing activists from the United States are trying to hijack the process and flood the regulator with opposition to their bid. We can’t let them get away with this!

There is one final thing you can do: double-down on your existing support and forward this email. Get at least three other people you know to sign our online petition at CanadianTvFirst.ca before it’s too late. Tell them about Sun News and the important work we do. The truth isn’t always easy to find and without Ezra Levant following up on a new lead or Brian Lilley bringing you that can’t-miss interview, their stories — your stories — won’t be told.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Anti-Semitism Up 30% in Belgium

Government agency confirms complaints of anti-Semitic abuse, violence have increased from 62 in 2011 to 88 in 2012. As many victims do not complain, actual number of incidents may be far higher

VIDEO — A Belgian government agency has confirmed that complaints of anti-Semitic abuse and violence rose by 30% in 2012, with 88 documented complaints compared to 62 in the previous year. The cases included 11 incidents of vandalism, 15 verbal assaults, 13 Holocaust denials and 28 online attacks, and because many victims do not complain, the actual number of incidents may be far higher. France faced one of the most serious waves of anti-Semitic incidents last year, after extremist Mohammed Merah killed a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren. The country saw a significant increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents year-to-year, with 614 attacks in 2012 compared to 389 the previous year. In another recent attack, Rabbi Daniel Alter was assaulted in Berlin as he walked down the street with his daughter, with the incident being just another example of the growing trend of anti-Semitism across the continent.

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

Benedict to be Called ‘Pope Emeritus’, Wear White

Vatican reveals pontiff’s wardrobe after he steps down

(ANSA) — Vatican City, February 26 — 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 “His Holiness”. “He will still be called His Holiness Benedict XVI,” Lombardi explained. “It’s something that he (Benedict) decided in consultation with other people, but the pope was the main person to take this decision. “He consulted the Cardinal Secretary of State and Camerlengo (Tarcisio Bertone), the (Holy See) Secretariat of State and the College of Cardinals for advice, but the decision was his”.

Lombardi also revealed how Benedict will dress when he is no longer pope. He said the 85-year-old German would continue to wear the “simple, white” papal cassock without the mozzetta — the short cape that covers his shoulders.

He added that Benedict will wear brown shoes given to him by Mexican cobblers during a visit last year rather than the distinctive red ones he has worn during his papacy that were made by Italian craftsman Adriano Stefanelli. “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, which will stay with him. The 85-year-old pope shocked the world on February 11 when he revealed that would step down from what is usually a life position at the end of the month.

He said it was for the good of the Church as he lacked the mental and physical strength to keep leading the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

The move sparked speculation that Benedict’s presence could overshadow the work of his successor.

But the German pontiff has said he will remain “hidden to the world” after stepping down. On Thursday Benedict will move to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome for a few months before moving to a monastery inside the Vatican that is currently being renovated.

He is set to hold his last general audience on Wednesday.

His last public act will be to greet the faithful after arriving at Castel Gandolfo on Thursday.

Benedict’s third-last day as pope was a relatively quiet one.

“He didn’t have audiences or speeches today,” Lombardi said Tuesday. “The day has been dedicated to prayer, the preparation of the engagements of tomorrow and the day after and to the move, because these are the last days that the pope will be here in the (papal) apartment in the Vatican”. Lombardi said a pre-conclave meeting of cardinals is likely to take place on Monday March 4.

The meeting could reveal the date of the start of the conclave to elect Benedict’s successor. On Monday Benedict issued a decree changing the rules of the conclave to make it possible for it take place sooner than the mandatory 15 days from a papacy’s end, and so before mid-March.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Denmark: Dansk Folkeparti and Socialdemokraterne Equally Popular

For the first time in history, right-wing Dansk Folkeparti (DF) and government party Socialdemokraterne (S) are equally popular in the polls. PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s party received 17.2 percent support in the poll following its reforms of the welfare state, while17.4 percent of voters put their support behind DF and its leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl. The poll, conducted by YouGov for metroXpress newspaper, comes as a massive blow to Socialdemokraterne in the wake of recent reforms to the student grant system,kontanthjælp and the growth package. — metroXpress

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Denmark: Social-Democratic Slump Deepens as PM’s Party Slips to Third in Poll

Support for Socialdemokraterne at new low after party eclipsed by right-wing Dansk Folkeparti

DF party chairman Kristian Thulesen Dahl said that the current government is robbing the poor and giving to the rich (Photo:Scanpix)Support for what was once Denmark’s largest party has hit a new low, after a recent poll placed Socialdemokraterne (S) behind opposition parties Venstre (V) and Dansk Folkeparti (DF) as the nation’s third largest.

The YouGov/metroXpress poll marks the first time S, polling at 17.2 percent, would be eclipsed by the right-wing DF, polling at 17.4 percent.

During its heyday in the 1960s, Socialdemokraterne, the architect of the the nation’s social welfare system, received over 30 percent of the vote.

The poll seemed to be a stern rebuke for PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s ruling party, which released its’Vækstplan DK’ (Growth Plan DK) Tuesday which slashed student grants and unemployment benefits while lowering corporate taxes by several billion kroner.

DF party chairman Kristian Thulesen Dahl expressed surprised at the results, but said S was simply reaping the bitter fruits of its failed policies.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

European Commission Demands £86million Back From Britain After Government Broke Rules in Handing Out Subsidies to Farmers

The European Commission is demanding £86 million back from Britain for failing to stick EU farming rules.

The money is being clawed back because of ‘inadequate control procedures’ in the use of the farming subsidies member states receive from the EU budget under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget, a commission statement said.

National authorities are responsible for managing the bulk of CAP handouts, including checking the validity of farmers’ claims for direct payments.

The commission carries out more than 100 random audits annually to monitor national controls — with the legal power to demand funds back if ‘member state management and control is not good enough to guarantee that EU funds have been spent properly’, said today’s statement.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Five Killed and Several Injured After Gunman Goes Berserk in Swiss Wood Processing Plant

Five people are dead and several others injured after a gunman went berserk at a wood processing plant in Switzerland today.

The gunman committed suicide at the scene, confirmed police, as helicopters were scrambled to evacuate the wounded.

The shooting came just days after the Kronospan company said production had been reduced due to a massive timber shortage.

It was not immediately clear if the shooter was faced with the sack due to the downturn at the firm in Menzau, near Lucerne.

[Comment: Watch for calls of gun confiscation in Switzerland.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

France: Two New Arrests in Toulouse Gunman Probe

French police have arrested two men in the southern city of Toulouse in connection with Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah’s killing spree in March last year that claimed seven lives, a police source told AFP.

The pair, aged 23 and 20, were being held in detention and questioned over their links to the self-proclaimed, Al-Qaeda inspired shooter who killed a rabbi, three Jewish children and three French paratroopers in and around Toulouse.

They are suspected of providing “logistical help” to Merah, who was shot dead during a police siege.

Two other men were arrested but released without charge in January.

French police doubt that Merah could have acted alone, but the only person charged with helping him so far is his brother Abdelkader

In early December, a 38-year-old man and his girlfriend were arrested in connection with the attacks but both were later released without charge.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Geneticists Estimate Publication Date of the ‘Iliad’

(ISNS) — Scientists who decode the genetic history of humans by tracking how genes mutate have applied the same technique to one of the Western world’s most ancient and celebrated texts to uncover the date it was first written.

The text is Homer’s “Iliad,” and Homer — if there was such a person — probably wrote it in 762 B.C., give or take 50 years, the researchers found. The “Iliad” tells the story of the Trojan War — if there was such a war — with Greeks battling Trojans.

The researchers accept the received orthodoxy that a war happened and someone named Homer wrote about it, said Mark Pagel, an evolutionary theorist at the University of Reading in England. His collaborators include Eric Altschuler, a geneticist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, in Newark, and Andreea S. Calude, a linguist also at Reading and the Sante Fe Institute in New Mexico. They worked from the standard text of the epic poem.

The date they came up with fits the time most scholars think the “Iliad” was compiled, so the paper, published in the journal Bioessays, won’t have classicists in a snit. The study mostly affirms what they have been saying, that it was written around the eighth century B.C.

That geneticists got into such a project should be no surprise, Pagel said.

“Languages behave just extraordinarily like genes,” Pagel said. “It is directly analogous. We tried to document the regularities in linguistic evolution and study Homer’s vocabulary as a way of seeing if language evolves the way we think it does. If so, then we should be able to find a date for Homer.”

It is unlikely there ever was one individual man named Homer who wrote the “Iliad.” Brian Rose, professor of classical studies and curator of the Mediterranean section at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, said it is clear the “Iliad” is a compilation of oral tradition going back to the 13th century B.C.

“It’s an amalgam of lots of stories that seemed focused on conflicts in one particular area of northwestern Turkey,” Rose said.

The story of the “Iliad” is well known, full of characters like Helen of Troy, Achilles, Paris, Agamemnon and a slew of gods and goddesses behaving badly. It recounts how a gigantic fleet of Greek ships sailed across the “wine dark sea” to besiege Troy and regain a stolen wife. Its sequel is the “Odyssey.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece: Former Mayor of Salonika Jailed for Corruption

(AGI) Salonika — The former mayor of Salonika, Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, accused of corruption, has been sentenced to life in prison.

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

Horsemeat Scandal and Global Processed Food Suppliers Linked to Arms Trafficking

(NaturalNews) The unfolding horse meat outrage currently engulfing Europe has taken on a new, bizarre twist, according to investigators. Key figures involved in the unfolding scandal have been linked to a similar secretive network of companies that have ties to convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an Eastern European-based group comprised of investigative journalists who have been tracking and reporting on the scandal, has now identified an intermediary business, Draap Trading — which is based in Limassol, Cyprus — as playing a primary role in distributing the horse meat across Europe.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy: Copper Thieves Tie Up Rail Line to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport

Two trains cancelled, 28 more delayed

(ANSA) — Rome, February 26 — Copper thieves snipped cables and disrupted rail service to Rome’s major international airport on Tuesday. Two express trains to Fiumicino airport were cancelled while another eight were delayed by up to 25 minutes. Some 20 regional trains also suffered sizeable delays. Copper heists along rail lines in the Lazio region of Rome numbered around 200 in 2012, costing 1.5 million euros in damage and tying up 1800 trains.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: And the Winner is… Beppe Grillo

La Stampa Turin

By bringing together the many Italians disillusioned by old-style politics, former comedian Beppe Grillo has robbed the coalition of the left, under Pier Luigi Bersani, of what was looking like certain victory. Italy will now have to reckon with a new player who is as indispensable as he is unpredictable.

Massimo Gramellini

The clear outcome of these elections is that Beppe Grillo has won. And that’s an understatement. In a mass uprising at the polls against the elite, at least one in four voters ticked the box for the bearded comic, often without having the courtesy to tell the pollsters, who are also considered part of the elite. Not everything can be reduced to a question of gut feelings, even if the grumbling does come from something more than empty stomachs.

Feelings are running high here, and they are not merely resentments. There is a desperate hope that the parliamentarians of the Five Star Movement [Grillo’s party] are different, that they won’t be out to line their pockets, and that — most importantly — they will listen, which the others had stopped doing long ago.

It is as if there had come, from a thousand offices, the cries of a thousand solitudes, bound together by computer cables. A virtual emotion that, over time, turned into a protest gathering of individuals who feel misunderstood and shunted into the gloomy shadows of interest groups that have fallen deaf to them: the caste of politicians, journalists, bankers, string-pullers.

Each member of the Grillo community has a history and a different kind of defeat: has lost a job or never found one, or lost confidence in the future, in the state and in the bodies that stand between them, like the political parties and the unions. They do not hate politics, only those who have held onto their job far too long, without having the competence or the moral authority for it.

Grillo’s ‘Vaffanculo’

A vacuum of attention gathered around these despairing souls, and Grillo has filled it. At first with a rude Vaffanculo [Up yours], and then with a series of concrete proposals and a good dose of utopia. He sketched landscapes that everyone could colour as they pleased. In its social composition, his movement is a franchise: in Turin, he has attracted the alternative types who want to bring down capitalism; in Bergamo, the SME owners in trouble with the IRS; in Palermo, the desperate and those who are allergic to all forms of public or private oppression. Where there is a malaise, Grillo has provided a format and a face — his own…

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

Italy: Bersani Says ‘EU Must Listen to Message From Election’

(AGI) — Rome, Feb 27 — Pier Suigi Bersani had a lengthy telephone conversation with French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday. “The European Union must listen to the message coming from the Italian elections,” the PD Secretary stated.

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

Italy: The Mystery of Berlusconi’s Silent But Resilient Support

There are fewer of them and they are ever harder to find, but as Italy’s recent election has shown, Silvio Berlusconi’s supporters are alive and kicking.

As Italy went to the polls on Sunday at the start of a two-day general election, the centre-left candidate for prime minister, Pier Luigi Bersani, confidently said, “victory will be ours, this is not 2006.”

Unlike Romano Prodi’s Pyrrhic — and short-lived — victory seven years ago, Bersani implied, his success would be a decisive one.

He was right, in part. This election wasn’t like 2006. It was worse.

By Monday evening, the left had scraped to victory by only the thinnest of margins (124,000 thousands votes) over a resurgent Silvio Berlusconi, and was a whopping 40 seats short of a majority in the Senate.

His dreams of a stable, centre-left government in tatters, Bersani was left to ponder yet another spectacular comeback by the man every Italian pundit had written off.

A “stroke of genius”

Bersani’s desperate situation, of course, is mostly a consequence of the surge in support for comedian Beppe Grillo, whose 5-Star Movement claimed a staggering 25% of the vote and 164 seats in parliament (between the two chambers).

But on Monday evening there was no denying the obvious fact that the 17-point lead Bersani enjoyed over Berlusconi’s coalition at the start of the campaign had been completely wiped out…

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

The Talk of the Special Relationship Can’t Hide the Fact That the US and Britain Are Far Apart Over the Middle East

by David Blair

To the Foreign Office for a joint press conference between John Kerry, the new US secretary of state, and William Hague, his British counterpart. Kerry has chosen London for the first stop of his first overseas tour — and the Foreign Office made a big effort in return. The central courtyard, normally used as an unsightly car park, was cleared of vehicles for Kerry’s benefit and decked out in Union Flags and the Stars and Stripes. Someone had clearly mopped all the corridors. The Foreign Office had the air of a school that had nervously given itself a spring clean before a visit by government inspectors.

As the pièce de resistance, the joint press conference between the two principals was held in the glittering gold-leaf splendour of the Locarno Room. First, the good news. Hague appeared as a gracious host, Kerry the appreciative guest. Both paid tribute to the enduring strength and importance of the Anglo-American alliance. And they sang from the same hymn sheet on the big issues, notably Syria and Iran. They differed on the Falklands, but only because Kerry repeated the long-standing US position…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Tuberculosis — An Old Plague Comes Back Stronger

BRUSSELS — Over the course of two weeks in 2011, Stefan Radut lost seven kilos in weight. He coughed constantly. He was chronically tired and had difficulty sleeping. His girlfriend finally persuaded him to go to a doctor.

There he discovered he had tuberculosis (TB) — an illness he thought belonged to the history books.

“I didn’t know anything about this disease. I thought it was eradicated,” says Stefan

But there was a still grimmer surprise to come. Stefan, a 24-year old university graduate from Romania, did not just have a normal version of the bacterial lung disease. He had a drug-resistant strain. The first line of antibiotics did not work.

Instead he had to be hospitalised for several months and take a cocktail of drugs which are less effective and which have distressing side effects.

Stefan’s initial reaction to tuberculosis is common. But the Great White Plague — normally associated with 19th century workhouses — was never fully beaten.

And now several eastern European countries are fighting an epic battle against a tuberculosis that has mutated into a more deadly form.

That they succeed in this battle is of direct relevance to all Europeans. And in some countries, success is not guaranteed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Bullfinch Trial: Day 26

9:48am: Today we resume coverage of the trial into a suspected child sex ring in Oxfordshire…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: College Lecturer Confronts Teenage Bullies Who Punched Her Nine-Year-Old Son… and She’s Dragged to Court for Breaching the Peace

A college lecturer landed in court after standing up to bullies who attacked her young son in the street.

Shannon Sibley, 48, was charged with a breach of the peace after her nine-year-old son was punched and had abuse hurled at him by a group of teenagers.

Miss Sibley, from Carfin, Lanarkshire, took her car out to find those responsible and confront them after her son had been reduced to tears.

The mother-of-two caught up with her son’s tormentors, who had been selling sweets in her housing estate, and after a heated exchange returned home.

But she was reported to the police after a witness saw the incident on May 20 last year.

Miss Sibley, a senior lecturer in travel and tourism at Anniesland College in Glasgow, appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court where she pleaded guilty to the offence.

But Sheriff David Bicket gave her an absolute discharge and told her he ‘understood’ the reasons for her actions after hearing the case.

Today, Tory politician Margaret Mitchell MSP blasted prosecutors for allowing the case to reach court.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Cover-Up Culture and Public Contempt

by Melanie Phillips

You can almost set your clock by it. Whenever a scandal erupts, it’s generally the cover-up that does the real damage, not just to the miscreant’s reputation but over a steadily widening area like a pebble rippling through a pool…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Dance Academy Could Become Mosque After Owner Loses Licence

THE owner of the Dance Academy has claimed he may hand the property over to a charity — to turn it into a mosque. The unexpected twist in the ongoing saga that is the historic Palace Theatre comes as Plymouth City Council’s licensing sub-committee revoked the premises licence from Manoucehr Bahmanzadeh…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Four Police Cars and a Helicopter to Chase Man on a 15mph Moped: The Not-So-Nailbiting Pursuit Where Rider Even Slowed for Speed Humps

With a top speed of around 30mph, a second-hand 50cc moped would not be the getaway vehicle of choice for most criminals.

But police pursuing James Phillips in a decidedly low-speed chase were determined not be beaten — and sent up the force helicopter.

That wasn’t all. Four patrol cars were also drafted in as the moped pootled along at 15mph.

And after a not-so nail biting chase through the streets of Bristol, the officers finally got their man.

During the daylight pursuit, Phillips, 22, a disqualified driver, was seen slowing down for speed bumps, but also mounted pavements and swerved dangerously in front of cars.

Crew in the helicopter gave a running commentary on his progress and at one point emphasised the low speed he was riding at, telling colleagues on the ground: ‘Speed is 15 — one — five — miles an hour.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Judge Blames 15-Year-Old Boy’s Internet Porn Obsession for His Rape of Girl, 14, In a ‘Heinous’ Attack

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

A teenage boy bound, gagged and raped a 14-year-old girl in a ‘heinous’ attack after becoming obsessed with looking at porn on the internet.

The boy, then 15, and a 14-year-old friend, tied their terrified victim to a chair, put a plastic bag over her head, threatened her with a knife and forced her into a small cupboard in a humiliating and violent ordeal in Hartlepool last April.

The older boy had spent days trawling through internet porn sites in the months leading up to the attack, said a judge, who told him: ‘Your interest in sexual matters was heightened and heightened, unfulfilled, and you wanted to experiment.’

Judge Bourne-Arton sentenced the older boy to three years in a young offenders’ institute at Teesside Crown Court yesterday. He had previously admitted rape and false imprisonment. His younger accomplice, who was dealt with in November, was sentenced to four years after admitting the same offences.

Neither boy can be named because of their ages.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Muslims to Sue Over Prison Meat

The Government is being sued over the contamination of halal meat in prisons, Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright confirmed yesterday. He told MPs that a “small number” of claims have been filed and would be “robustly defended where appropriate”. A number of halal meat pies and pasties supplied to jails were found to contain traces of pork, which Muslims are forbidden from eating. McColgan Quality Foods in Co Tyrone was identified as the source of the contamination.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Newham Councillor Accuses Respect Campaigner Yvonne Ridley of Using “Inflammatory” Language

A lead councillor has accused Respect campaigner Yvonne Ridley of using “inflammatory and dangerous” language after she accused Newham Council of “ethnic cleansing.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Told Teen Rape Vicitim They Could “Only Prosecute Her Abuser on Drugs Offences”, Old Bailey Hears [Bullfinch Trial]

A TEEN told police she had been raped but they said her abuser could only be prosecuted for drug crimes, the Old Bailey heard this morning. Giving evidence at the Oxford child sex exploitation trial, the witness denied lying about allegations of rape and sex trafficking as she was cross-examined by defence barristers. Known as Girl 4 as she cannot be named, she claims she was raped and sold for sex by brothers Mohammed and Bassam Karrar between the ages of 11 and 15…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Tony Blair Admits People Are Still ‘Very Abusive’ 10 Years After He Ordered Iraq Invasion

Tony Blair last night admitted the Iraq War had made him a hate figure in Britain — and acknowledged it had failed to make the world a safer place.

In a frank interview to mark the tenth anniversary of the conflict, the former prime minister said members of the public were still ‘very abusive’ towards him over his decision to take Britain to war alongside George W. Bush.

Mr Blair acknowledged that the situation in Iraq was still ‘not nearly what it should be’, with the country suffering almost daily terrorist attacks.

But he said he had ‘given up’ trying to persuade people he had made the right decision. And he insisted the situation would have been even worse if Saddam Hussein had been left in power.

He made no apology for the conflict, which cost 179 British lives and led to the deaths of more than 100,000 Iraqis. And he suggested the West was in the middle of a ‘generational’ conflict which may also require military intervention in Syria and Iran.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

UK: Unhappy Voters Backing UKIP, Michael Gove Admits

Voters are turning to Ukip to show they are “hurting”, a Tory Cabinet minister has admitted, amid fears that the party is damaging Conservative chances in the Eastleigh by-election.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said that he believed the Conservatives would win but acknowledged that many voters saw the Eurosceptic party as a way to express discontent. “Voting Ukip seems a cost-free way of saying we’re hurting,” he said. “People understand there is no alternative to the tough decisions David Cameron has made. But sometimes there are people who are tempted to cast a protest vote.” Polls suggest that Ukip is attracting one in five votes in the Hampshire seat, with up to a quarter of the electorate undecided or reluctant to say who they back…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Serbia Places Economic Hopes in Latest Investor: U.A.E.

After investments from both East and West failed to lift Serbia out of its economic doldrums, Belgrade is hoping money from the Middle East will improve its sluggish development.

Serbia’s economy, which has struggled to recover from economic sanctions during the Balkan wars and damage that the NATO bombing of 1999 did to its infrastructure, has been in desperate need of foreign investment, especially after the economic crisis sent it into contraction in 2009.

But speaking after a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that the oil-rich Arab state on the Persian Gulf would eventually invest up to $4 billion in Serbia and that the money the U.A.E. intended to put into a microchip factory represented “the biggest investment in Serbia since 1980.”

“In four years’ time, the investment will come to $220 million,” Vucic said on February 24 after signing three deals with U.A.E. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.

Vucic said that the U.A.E. company Mubadala would make major investments in the missile industry, agribusiness, and the building of a hotel on the site of former military headquarters in Belgrade that had been destroyed in 1999.

The deputy prime minister also vowed that all deals with the U.A.E. would be made public, highlighting the issues Serbia has had with corruption and an opaque investment climate, as well as failed privatizations of the past.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Algerian Troops Kill Al-Qaeda Commander

Algiers — The killing of 12 AQIM fighters is the latest in a string of counter-terrorism successes for Algeria. One of the twelve terrorists killed by Algerian security forces at the week-end was identified as the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) emir in Bordj Menaïel, Tout sur l’Algerie reported on Sunday (February 24th). In their latest large-scale security operations, ANP soldiers eliminated four Chlef terrorists in Boukaal Medajadji. Eight other al-Qaeda fighters died Saturday morning in the Boumerde’s town of Timezrit…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Christians Ask Govt to Reconsider Election Date

Cairo — Coptic Catholics in Egypt have protested at the decision taken by President Morsi to hold parliamentary elections on a date which would coincide with Coptic Easter celebrations. The President’s decision may be reconsidered following protests by Egyptian Christians. The same views were expressed by the Coptic Catholic, Auxiliary Bishop of Alexandria, Bishop Botros Fahim Awad Hanna. Commenting on the same issue another Coptic Bishop called for a postponement of the elections…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Obama Urges Egyptian President to Build Political Consensus

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to build consensus among all political groups. During a telephone conversation with Morsi, Obama urged Morsi and all Egyptian political groups to work to “build consensus and advance the political transition,” said the White House in a statement…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Ashkelon Back to Routine After Attack

Life continues as normal in Ashkelon despite morning rocket attack. Mayor combines hope for calm with defense preparations.

Life continued as usual in the city of Ashkelon on Tuesday despite a rocket attack in the morning, Mayor Benny Vaknin said.

“Schools are open as usual, and the city is operating according to routine,” he told Army Radio (Galei Tzahal).

However, he said, “We have our hand on the pulse. We’re in close touch with the army, and we have increased our level of alert in the city.”

“According to the reports there is no change in direction, or plan to turn up the heat in the area,” he added. “Things need to calm down.”

The rocket attack was the first of its kind for months. Gaza terrorists had held their fire since the ceasefire deal that ended the Pillar of Defense counter-terror operation in Gaza in late 2012.

Terrorists fired two rockets, one of which hit the city but failed to cause injury. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

The rocket fired was an upgraded M-75.

The attack was apparently a show of support for rioters in Judea and Samaria. Several riots broke out in recent days over the death of a terrorist imprisoned in Israel. The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of murdering the 30-year-old man, who died of a heart attack.

           — Hat tip: MC [Return to headlines]

Israel Closes Major Gaza Crossing After Rocket Strike

JERUSALEM, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — The Israeli government on Tuesday instructed to shut down the Kerem Shalom border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, the military said in a statement. The order came hours after Palestinian militants fired a rocket from the coastal territory which exploded outside the coastal city of Ashkelon, which broke the Egyptian-brokered truce reached three months ago. There were no injuries in the attack, but a road in the vicinity sustained damage, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Xinhua…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Hundreds of Foreign Jihadists Leave Syria Amid Intensive Clashes

DAMASCUS, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — Hundreds of foreign jihadist fighters joining the battles against the Syrian troops were seen leaving Syria on Tuesday through borders with neighboring Turkey, the opposition Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. The reason behind the withdrawal is still vague, said the Observatory, citing one fighter as saying that his comrades “have been pulled out of Syria to join jihadists in Mali.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Iran Moves a Step Closer to Getting the Bomb

Photographs confirming that Iran’s heavy-water plant at Arak is now fully operational are a cause for profound concern

The photographs published today by The Telegraph, confirming that Iran’s heavy-water plant at Arak is now fully operational, will be a cause for profound concern for those Western powers that are committed to preventing the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons. Most of the recent controversy over Iran’s nuclear ambitions has focused on its uranium enrichment programme. But in common with other states that have successfully developed nuclear weapons, such as India and North Korea, Iran is simultaneously conducting research into building a plutonium device. The heavy-water complex at Arak makes a vital contribution to this programme, as nuclear experts believe it has the potential to produce sufficient quantities of plutonium for an atomic bomb…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Iranian Officials: The Jews Are Responsible for the Massacre of Muslims in Myanmar

As part of their policy to present the Jews and Zionists as aspiring to take over the world, Iranian officials consistently claim that they are involved, overtly or covertly, in every international event and crisis. For example, Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi said in June 2012 that the Zionists were to blame for the Bolshevik revolution and for spreading drugs in the world, and added: “Every war and conflict worldwide necessarily have Zionist roots.” In August 2012, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the Jews of planning World War I and II, and explained, “the Zionists are behind every (act of) widespread moral destruction, war, conflict or massacre.”

As part of the demonizing of Jews and Judaism in Iran, officials and mainstream media have accused the Jews of playing a considerable role in the massacre of Muslims in Myanmar in the summer of 2012. This report will review some of these statements, as well as Iranian cartoons conveying the same message.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Stuxnet Malworm Missing Link- Version 0.5 Predates Prior Disclosures

Symantec, the computer anti-virus software system firm, has found ‘in the wild’ code for a prior version of the Stuxnet malworm that indicates launch in 2005. They call it Version 0.5 that predates Version 1.0 that was reported in 2009. Stuxnet Malworm attacked the Siemens SCADA operating systems that controlled the timing of the release of hexafluoride gas to centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment facility in Iran. Reports by Symantec. Further, Symantec indicated in a White Paper released this week, that elements of the Stuxnet malworm version 0.5 may be based on the Flame espionage software system. We noted in a May 2012 post on Flame that Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs. Moshe Ya’alon had suggested that Israel’s much vaunted Unit 8200 may have been behind Flame. We also suggested that Flame could have been the platform for Stuxnet, Duqu and other variants. The Symantec revelations about a 2005 date raises the possibility that Flame and Stuxnet might have been a cooperative US-Israeli effort that began under the Bush Administration. . . .”It is really mind-blowing that they were thinking about creating a project like that in 2005,” Symantec researcher Liam O’Murchu told Reuters. . . “This attack could have damaged many centrifuges without destroying so many that the plant operator would have become suspicious,” said a report by the Institute for Science and International Security, which is led by former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright and closely monitors Iran’s nuclear program.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Wahhabi Islam: The Royal Puppet Masters

Many in the West, and especially in America, are still holding to the claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate, largely secular, and peace-loving organization. The leaders in the U.S. who are chanting this mantra are either incredibly naïve and uninformed, simply not understanding the Islamic Eastern mind; or are more likely, they are outright liars. The long hidden goals of the Brotherhood have been revealed and should move every freedom lover to action.

What we are experiencing since 9/11 with al Qaeda and other terrorist groups is partly because of “blowback,” the natural consequence, of the U.S.’ practice of working with radicals. Our government allied itself with the most radical, militant Afghan mujahedeen, training and arming them, in the fight against the Soviets. And more recently, it is being revealed that the U.S. worked in much the same way as in Afghanistan in the 1980’s with members of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood in order to oust Qaddafi.

The primary goal of the Brotherhood in the West is to establish an Islamic-Shariah based infrastructure that they can put into place to rule when the time is right. This is not a secret. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can easily discover these facts. So why is it that our government continues to not only dialogue with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, but to give them key positions of influence?

[Comment: Article is from Dec2012, but interesting nonetheless.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Putin Calls for Russian Military Upgrades

As Obama warns U.S. troop cuts loom

(WASHINGTON TIMES) Russian President Vladimir Putin said the country needs an immediate and massive military upgrade by 2016 and has called on his top brass to put the wheels in motion.

On Wednesday, he told top defense ministry and military officials that Russia is seeing “insistent attempts” from world powers, and the United States in particular, to upset the balance of missile defense, The Associated Press reported. He said the United States was trying to take the lead in world power and establish a new missile defense system, AP said.

His statements come at a time when Israel and the United States successfully tested a new missile defense system, the Arrow 3, which is aimed at shooting down long-range missiles

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Russian Meteor’s Origin and Size Pinned Down

A meteor that exploded over Russia earlier this month likely hit Earth after a long trip from beyond the orbit of Mars, scientists say.

Astronomers and the public were caught off guard by the Russian fireball, which damaged thousands of buildings and wounded more than 1,000 people when it detonated over the city of Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15.

But some YouTube-aided detective work suggests that the meteor’s parent body belonged to the Apollo family of Earth-crossing asteroids, whose elliptical orbits take them farther than one Earth-sun distance (about 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers) from our star at some point, researchers said.

Some other scientists agree that this orbit took the space rock relatively far from the sun at times — farther than Mars, in fact.

“It came from the asteroid belt, about 2.5 times farther from the sun than Earth,” Bill Cooke, of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said in a statement. Cooke was not involved in Zuluaga and Ferrin’s study.

Meanwhile, the size of the meteor’s parent object has come into clearer focus, thanks to measurements made by a global network of infrasound sensors operated by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). These sensors monitor extremely low-frequency sound waves, which are a common product of nuclear explosions.

As the Russian meteor burned through Earth’s atmosphere, it generated the most powerful infrasound signal ever detected by the CTBTO network, researchers said. And this signal revealed a great deal about the asteroid’s size, speed and explosive power.

“The asteroid was about 17 meters in diameter and weighed approximately 10,000 metric tons,” Peter Brown, a physics professor at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, said in a statement. “It struck Earth’s atmosphere at 40,000 mph and broke apart about 12 to 15 miles above Earth’s surface. The energy of the resulting explosion exceeded 470 kilotons of TNT.”

That’s 30 to 40 times more powerful than the atomic bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II. The Russian fireball likely produced the most powerful such space rock blast since a 130-foot (40 m) object exploded over Siberia in 1908, flattening 825 square miles (2,137 square km) of forest.

Preliminary reports suggest that the Chelyabinsk fireball’s parent asteroid was composed primarily of stone, with a smidge of iron thrown in.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Over 50 Militants Killed in Russia Since Start of 2013

MOSCOW, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — Russian law enforcement agencies have killed over 50 militants this year, National Anti-Terror Committee (NAC) chief Alexander Bortnikov said Tuesday. During a NAC meeting in the city of Pyatigorsk in the country’s North Caucasus region, Bortnikov said poor economic conditions in that region facilitated spreading of extremist ideas. Besides those killed, 66 militants were arrested by law enforcement officers, said the official…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

7 Hurt in Afghanistan Suicide Attack

Afghanistan — A suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying Afghan army soldiers Wednesday morning in a western district of Kabul, wounding six of them and a civilian in the second security incident in the capital this week. As snow fell over the region, the bomber struck while soldiers were boarding an Afghan Defense Ministry bus in the Pul-e-Sokhta area of Kabul shortly after 7 a.m. The wounded were being treated at a hospital and are in stable condition, according to a statement from Kabul’s police chief…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

‘Drop’ In Insurgent Attacks in Afghanistan is Clerical Error

An apparent drop in the number of insurgent attacks in Afghanistan that was cited by the Nato-led coalition as evidence of progress against the Taliban has been revealed as a clerical error.

Coalition headquarters in Kabul admitted that attacks did not fall by seven per cent over the course of 2012 as originally reported, but remained at the same levels. The mistake was caused by staff failing to add figures from the Afghan security forces, a spokesman said…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Maldives Girl to Get 100 Lashes for Pre-Marital Sex

A 15-year-old rape victim has been sentenced to 100 lashes for engaging in premarital sex, court officials said.

The charges against the girl were brought against her last year after police investigated accusations that her stepfather had raped her and killed their baby. He is still to face trial.

Prosecutors said her conviction did not relate to the rape case.

Amnesty International condemned the punishment as “cruel, degrading and inhumane”.

The government said it did not agree with the punishment and that it would look into changing the law.

Zaima Nasheed, a spokesperson for the juvenile court, said the girl was also ordered to remain under house arrest at a children’s home for eight months.

She defended the punishment, saying the girl had willingly committed an act outside of the law.

Officials said she would receive the punishment when she turns 18, unless she requested it earlier.

The case was sent for prosecution after police were called to investigate a dead baby buried on the island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, in the north of the country.

Her stepfather was accused of raping her and impregnating her before killing the baby. The girl’s mother also faces charges for failing to report the abuse to the authorities.

The legal system of the Maldives, an Islamic archipelago with a population of some 400,000, has elements of Islamic law (Sharia) as well as English common law.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Singapore Muslims Excited Over New Mosque Construction

SINGAPORE: Muslims in Singapore are praising the new ultra-modern mosque details that aim to erect a new house of worship in the small Southeast Asian country. Muslims in the country told Bikyanews.com that they are “excited about the project that will be uniquely Singaporean and modern but still have a sense of Islam within the walls.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Cyber Menace: Digital Spying Burdens German-Chinese Relations

Companies like defense giant EADS or steelmaker ThyssenKrupp have become the targets of hacker attacks from China. The digitial espionage is creating a problem for relations between Berlin and Beijing, but Chancellor Angela Merkel has shied away from taking firm action.

Very few companies in Europe are as strategically important as the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS). It makes the Eurofighter jet, drones, spy satellites, and even the carrier rockets for French nuclear weapons.

Not surprisingly, the German government reacted with alarm last year when EADS managers reported that their company, which has its German administrative headquarters near Munich, was attacked by hackers. The EADS computer network contains secret design plans, aerodynamic calculations and cost estimates, as well as correspondence with the governments in Paris and Berlin. Gaining access to the documents would be like hitting the jackpot for a competitor or a foreign intelligence agency.

The company’s digital firewalls have been exposed to attacks by hackers for years. But now company officials say there was “a more conspicuous” attack a few months ago, one that seemed so important to EADS managers that they chose to report it to the German government. Officially, EADS is only confirming there was a “standard attack,” and insists that no harm was done.

The attack isn’t just embarrassing for the company, which operates in an industry in which trust is very important. It also affects German foreign policy, because the attackers were apparently from a country that has reported spectacular growth rates for years: China.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

ABC Hacked in Protest at Wilders Interview

The ABC has gone into damage control after it was discovered the website of one of its television programs was targeted in a hack that has affected thousands of viewers.

A Twitter user going by the name of Phr0zenMyst claimed ownership of the attack, framing it as a response to the ABC’s recent coverage of the visit by right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders.

The hacker, based overseas, said they were upset by the ABC’s decision to “[give] a platform for Geert Wilders to spread hatred”.

The hack exposed the user names, email addresses and some personal information of more than 40,000 people — viewers who had logged in and commented on the website of the 2010 program Making Australia Happy.

The ABC was forced to scramble for answers, saying the website in question was shut down as soon as the breach was detected.

It has promised to contact each of the web users exposed.

Second attack

Information security analyst Patrick Gray says there is proof the website has been attacked before.

He says passwords from today’s attack turned up on Russian hacking forums two years ago.

“I’d suggest there’s been multiple attackers who have actually gained access to this database, so I’d suggest that criminally motivated attackers had accessed it sometime in 2011,” Mr Gray said.

“But now someone with political motivations has accessed that database and published the information to make a political point.

“But I would definitely suggest that there’s not just been one attacker.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Muslim Cleric Man Haron Monis Loses Bid to Have Charges Over Offensive Letters Quashed

A SELF-styled Muslim cleric accused of sending offensive letters to the families of slain Australian soldiers has lost a High Court bid to have the charges against him quashed.

Man Haron Monis, also known as Sheik Haron, was charged in 2011 with 12 counts of using a postal service in a way that a reasonable person would consider menacing, harassing or offensive. He allegedly sent letters — and in one case a recorded message — to the relatives of several diggers killed in action in Afghanistan and the mother of an Austrade official killed in the bombing of a hotel in Indonesia. His co-accused, Amirah Droudis faces eight counts of aiding an abetting Mr Monis…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Clinton Lists Nigeria’s Challenges

Abeokuta — Former President of United States of America, Bill Clinton, said yesterday in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, that the inability to manage the nation’s natural resources well was one of the three major challenges Nigeria was facing as a nation. The former US president, who was speaking at the 18th Annual Awards of Thisday newspaper, organised to celebrate Nigeria’s best teachers, further tasked Nigerian leaders to tackle unemployment, brain-drain and to maximise the potential of the citizens…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

France Rules Out Talks With Kidnappers of Family Seized in Cameroon

France’s defence minister on Tuesday ruled out talks with the abductors of a French family seized in Cameroon, after a video of the hostages appeared on YouTube. “We do not negotiate on these terms, with these groups,” Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a radio interview. “What we do is use all possible means to ensure the release of hostages, be they these or others,” he said. “But we do not play this bidding game because that is terrorism.” He spoke a day after a video of the seven members of the family appeared on YouTube with their abductors, who claimed to be from the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram and demanded the release of prisoners…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Kills Two Officials in Gedo

Suspected al-Shabaab members shot and killed two government officials in Busar, a small town in Somalia’s Gedo region, UN-funded Radio Bar-Kulan reported. Heavily armed militants shot dead Busar deputy administration officer Osman Abdinoor Abdirahman and head of social affairs Mohamed Hussein Ibrahim inside a restaurant Monday night (February 25th), according to regional army spokesman Colonel Warfa Sheikh Adan…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

The South African Hair Thieves Targeting Dreadlocks

Jack Maseko was recently mugged by three men in South Africa — they wanted nothing but his mobile phone and the dreadlocks he had spent three years patiently cultivating.

“They had a knife and cut off my hair with scissors. I still feel pain when I think about that night,” the 28-year-old Zimbabwean tells the BBC.

“I used to see people selling dreadlocks on the streets and didn’t know where it came from,” he adds, still battling to believe what happened to him as he was walking home late at night in Johannesburg.

Dreadlocks can take several years to grow but many people do not want to wait and it is this need for instant long hair that is pushing the demand for ready locks in the black market, according to hairstylists.

The thieves are quick and sometimes ruthless and will use anything from a knife to broken glass to steal the prized hair — known on the streets as a cut and run.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Traumatized Malians Desperately in Need of Aid, Says U.N.

Malians in the country’s vast desert north are scared and in desperate need of aid, traumatized at the hands of Islamist extremists and fearful of ethnic reprisals by government troops, a senior U.N. humanitarian official said on Tuesday.

John Ging, director of operations for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said a U.N. appeal for $373 million to fund aid operations in the West African state had so far only received $17 million.

Mali’s Tuareg rebels seized control of the Saharan north last year but were pushed aside by better-armed al Qaeda-affiliated Islamist groups, which imposed severe sharia (Islamic law) including stoning for adulterers, amputations for thieves, forcing women to don veils and banning music and smoking.

A French-led military operation started last month has since driven insurgents from northern towns such as Gao and Timbuktu, and is now focused on the remote northeast mountains and desert that includes networks of caves, passes and porous borders.

“People are in fear, people are traumatized, the brutality … moved men to tears. It’s really very raw and heartfelt,” Ging told reporters at the United Nations in New York after returning from a four-day visit to northern Mali.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: New Rules ‘Open Door’ To Skilled Foreigners

Workers from outside the EU with vocational skills which are in short supply in Germany are to be fast-tracked through the immigration system, according to new rules approved by the cabinet on Wednesday.

The new rules will simplify the entry process for in-demand foreign trained employees to make it easier for them to come and work in Germany, said Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Until now, only workers with vocational skills from inside the EU had easy access to jobs in Germany, whereas non-EU citizens generally had a hard time getting visas and work permits.

“The new regulation will throw 40 percent of the old clauses overboard and open the door wide for sought-after, trained employees, who can move the country forward,” said the minister.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Release of Illegals ‘Impeachable Offense’

The Obama administration’s release of hundreds and potentially thousands of illegal-alien criminals from U.S. detention centers in connection with possible budget cuts is being called “an impeachable offense” by the nation’s highest-rated radio talk-show host.

“In what used to be considered — if we can remember this far back — normal, sane times, this is an impeachable offense,” broadcaster Rush Limbaugh said Wednesday. “This is action being taken against the country. … It is sheer madness to be doing this. It is petulant, it is childish.”

“This is in direct violation of the oath of office,” he continued. “Defend and protect the Constitution of the United States, and the people. We’re just opening the doors of prisons before the sequester has even happened. Before there have even been any budget cuts. This is so childish, except the consequences are real for people that live nearby these detention centers. This is on-the-ground, hard, cold reality.

“This is exacting harm on the country and it’s entirely unnecessary. None of these so-called budget cuts are necessary. None of this panic is necessary. It is not even going to be felt, in reality, if the sequester actually does happen.”

Limbaugh likened the president’s action to what happened in Iraq just before the U.S. invaded in the 1990s.

“That’s the kind of thing that [former Iraqi dictator] Saddam Hussein did,” he explained. “He just opened the doors to his jails and he let every reprobate that he was holding loose. He created total panic and havoc in Baghdad and throughout the country. That’s the kind of thing Obama’s done here.”

[Comment: Another one from the Communist playbook. Increasingly release criminals into the society in order to destabilize the country targeted for takeover by Communists.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sweden: ‘Migration Forces Policy Makers to Shape Up’

The movement of people across borders is a powerful engine for growth, putting pressure on policy makers worldwide to compete to attract talent, argues government ministers Gunilla Karlsson and Tobias Billström.

Day after day, media reports and our minds are filled with the plight of people fleeing — be it from war, conflict, hunger or threat.

But there is another side to people’s mobility. Of the world’s approximately 900 million migrants, it is estimated that more than 90 percent move in search of better jobs and other opportunities.

The movement of people across borders and labour markets is a powerful engine for growth and development. As ministers responsible for migration and development cooperation, we want to promote this form of mobility.

Two months ago, Sweden assumed the chairmanship of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), a leading arena for discussion of global migration issues.

At the same time, work is also under way on the post 2015 development agenda that will carry forward the work begun with the current Millennium Development Goals. The work includes an important discussion on how migration can be used to increase freedom and eradicate poverty.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s Prayers

by Douglas Murray

As the late Christopher Hitchens used to say of the most vociferous, gay-obsessed clergy: ‘I have a rule of thumb for such clerics and have never known it to fail: Set your watch and sit back, and pretty soon they will be found sprawling lustily on the floor of the men’s room.’

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Major U.S. Companies Back ‘Gay’ Marriage

Apple, Intel among those filing Supreme Court brief

(FORTUNE) — On Thursday, dozens of American corporations, including Apple,Alcoa, Facebook, eBay, Intel, andMorgan Stanley will submit an amicus brief in the landmark Hollingsworth v. Perry case broadly arguing to the U.S. Supreme Court that laws banning same-sex marriages, like California’s ballot initiative Proposition 8, are unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses.

At least 60 companies had committed to signing the brief as of Tuesday evening, according to Joshua Rosenkranz, who is counsel of record on the brief and head of the Supreme Court and appellate litigation practice at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. That number is expected to rise by Thursday, however, according to Rosenkranz. Others who have already committed to sign include AIG, Becton Dickinson, Cisco, Cummins, Kimpton, Levi Strauss, McGraw Hill, NCR, Nike, Office Depot, Oracle, Panasonic, Qualcomm, and Xerox. (Update: Verizon and Cablevision have now joined.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Muslims Debate Gay People on the BBC

BBC Radio 4 program Beyond Belief features heated debate on Islam and homosexuality

An at times heated debate between a traditional Imam, a gay Muslim and an Islamic scholar on BBC Radio 4 yesterday shed light on the religious and ethical debates about homosexuality and Islam. Imam Ibrahim Mogra said that it was possible to be Muslim and gay but ‘our issue is with the sexual act itself’ and ‘physical intimate genital relationships between two people of the same-sex is wrong’. Pav Akhtar, the director of UK Black Pride, said he thought the Koran ‘very obliquely references homosexuality and it doesn’t in my view assess homosexual negatively’. The guests discussed the story in the Koran of Lot at Sodom and Gomorrah and Mogra said it ‘should really create fear in our hearts about what happens when we disobey God’…

[JP note: Ibrahim Mogra is the BBC’s pet Imam (or, more plausibly, the BBC is the MCB’s pet broadcaster) and regularly appears on banal, feel-good programmes such as The Big Question on Sunday mornings. He is also Assistant General Secretary of the not-less-than extremist Muslim Council of Britian.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Swedish Transgendereds Battle for Forced Sterilization Payouts

With transsexuals in Sweden now able to change gender legally without being sterilized, those who were forced to accept the procedure prior to a recent law change continue their fight for compensation from the state.

Sweden is often hailed as a forward-thinking society promoting equality for all, but transsexuals who had to accept to be sterilized to complete their sex changes on paper are pushing for compensation after a change in the law.

Nova Colliander, 31, who completed her transformation from man to woman in 2010, says she suffered discrimination when she was irreversibly sterilized as part of the sex change process.

“Beautiful Sweden, with its pretty red wooden cabins… But (the reality is that) forced sterilizations of transsexuals existed until 2013,” she says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Oxford Accused of ‘Bias’ Against Ethnic Minorities Because of Success of White Candidates in Getting Places on Competitive Courses

Oxford University was yesterday accused of ‘institutional bias’ against ethnic minorities amid striking differences in different racial groups’ entry rates.

White applicants to some of the most competitive courses are up to twice as likely to get places even with the same A-level grades, according to data released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Overall, of the white, British students applying in 2010 and 2011, 25.7 per cent received an offer to attend the university, compared to 17.2 per cent of students from ethnic minorities.

The gaps were most marked in medicine and economics and management but there was statistically no difference in success rates between white and non-white students applying for law.

[Comment from Iain: Did you know that Lusaka University, Zambia, has mainly black students? I wonder why. — Iain , Madrid,]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

University of Manchester Student Union Executive Launches Investigation Over Anti-Gay Muslim Recording

A society at the University of Manchester has been shut down after a student secretly filmed an extremist Muslim saying gay people should be killed — with a complaint then received by police. The comments were secretly recorded by Middle East studies student Colin Cortbus at a public meeting organised by the Global Aspirations of Women student group at the University of Manchester’s Students’ Union earlier this month. When Mr Cortbus asked the chairperson of the meeting — whether “in the Islamic society in which you strive for,” would they “feel comfortable, personally and morally, to kill a gay man?”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Churchill on Islam, Yet Again

by Hugh Fitzgerald

This paragraph, from The River War, needs to be put up at regular intervals, as punctually as punctuation:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property — either as a child, a wife, or a concubine — must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Islamist Assassinations in the West

by Daniel Pipes

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 wear 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:

1980   Ali Akbar Tabataba’i, Iranian dissident, in the United States*
1980   Faisal Zagallai, Libyan dissident, in the United States
1990   Rashad Khalifa, Egyptian religious innovator, in the United States*
1990   Meir Kahane, Israel politician of American origins, in the United States*
1991   Hitoshi Igarashi, Japanese translator of The Satanic Verses*
1991   Ettore Capriolo, Italian translator of The Satanic Verses
1993   William Nygaard, Norwegian publisher of The Satanic Verses
2004   Theo van Gogh, Dutch artist*
2010   Kurt Westergaard, Danish cartoonist
2010   Lars Vilks, Swedish artist
2010   Jyllands-Posten, Danish newspaper
2012   Charlie Hebdo, French satiric magazine
2013   Lars Hedegaard, Danish historian and political analyst

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Monster Black Hole’s Spin Revealed for 1st Time

Astronomers have made the first reliable measurement of a supermassive black hole’s spin, showcasing a technique that could help unravel the mysteries of these monsters’ growth and evolution.

The enormous black hole at the center of the spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is spinning about 84 percent as fast as Einstein’s general theory of relativity allows it to, researchers determined. The find demonstrates that at least some supermassive black holes are rotating rapidly — a claim previous studies had hinted at but failed to confirm.

“It’s the first time that we can really say that black holes are spinning,” study co-author Fiona Harrison, of Caltech in Pasadena, told SPACE.com. “The promise that this holds for being able to understand how black holes grow is, I think, the major implication.”

The research team, led by Guido Risaliti of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics’ Arcetri Observatory, calculated this rotation rate to be 84 percent of that allowed by general relativity.

It’s tough to comprehend this figure, since it doesn’t translate well into miles per hour. But it’s safe to say that the black hole is spinning incredibly fast.

“The analogy of an actual velocity is not quite right,” Harrison said. “But what you can say is that spinning black holes twist space-time around them. And if you were standing near the black hole, basically your space-time would be twisted, or dragged, around such that you would have to rotate once every four minutes just to be standing still.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Oceana Investigation Uncovers Massive Consumer Fraud in Mislabeled Fish

(NaturalNews) Just when you thought eating fish was iffy enough due to Fukushima radiation, the gulf oil spill, mercury and other toxins found in fish, one of the largest seafood fraud investigations in the world to date has found that 59 percent of the tuna Americans consume is not really tuna. Worse still, most of the fake tuna was found to actually be a fish known for causing gastrointestinal problems…

The fish Oceana found to be most often mislabeled was red snapper, where 87 percent of the samples collected were actually one of several other varieties of fish — such as perch and tilapia. Perhaps the most disturbing finding was that 84 percent of the fake fish substituted for second place tuna was escolar — a fish which can cause explosive, oily, and orange diarrhea.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The True History of Gun Control — Timeline

(NaturalNews) Throughout the history of the world there have been despots, tyrants, dictators and kings who have imposed their will over those they conquered. After defeating rival armies in battle, many of these rulers went on to lead cruel, ruthless and abusive regimes largely by keeping the subjugated powerless to resist.

Men like Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia; Genghis Khan, who founded and ruled the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his demise; the Caesars of the Roman empire; and the pharaohs of the Egyptian empire all conquered, then kept power, by ruling with iron fists over people who were powerless to resist because they did not have the means to do so. In feudal England, British subjects in Scotland, Ireland and elsewhere were forbidden to bear arms, and as such were forced to remain loyal to the crown (until they won their independence by force of arms).

In more recent times the invention and mass production of the firearm made conquering — and then controlling — entire populations much more difficult, which is why the most heinous despots in the last 150 years have moved to limit or ban access to guns. In our own country, prior to the Revolutionary War, some colonists did own firearms but in the months before, and directly after, the war began King George’s generals implemented gun confiscation policies — a primary driver behind the adoption of the Second Amendment by our founding fathers.

As gun control once more becomes an issue, and as some lawmakers, academics, pundits and ordinary Americans call for outright gun bans and confiscation in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in mid-December, it is vital and appropriate to examine the history of gun control around the world, and the carnage visited upon the innocent by gun-grabbing tyrants.

Soviet Union — 1929 — Soviet Russia was established following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, when ruling Czar Nicholas II tossed 11 million Russian peasants into World War I. Frustrated and angered by the loss of life, scores of armed Russians — many current or former Russian soldiers who were led by Marxist Vladimir Lenin — rebelled against a ruling regime that was already teetering on the edge of collapse.

Firearms were allowed to remain in the hands of Soviet citizens until 1929, when private gun ownership was abolished — a time which saw the rise of one of the world’s most repressive regimes, that was led by Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin (he ruled from 1941-1953 but was entrenched in the country’s leadership by 1928).

From 1929 to the year Stalin died, tens of millions of Soviet dissidents or anyone the country’s leadership believed were a threat, were rounded up and either murdered or placed in labor camp/prisons and forced to work, sometimes to their deaths. Early in Stalin’s political career, he launched two national collectivization campaigns in order to transform the country into an industrial power. Both campaigns, however, were rife with murder on a massive scale.

“In 1932-33, Stalin engineered a famine (by massively raising the grain quota that the peasantry had to turn over to the state); this killed between six and seven million people and broke the back of Ukrainian resistance,” says a history of his political career at Gendercide.org. “The Five-Year Plans for industry, too, were implemented in an extraordinarily brutal fashion, leading to the deaths of millions of convict laborers, overwhelmingly men.

His “callous disregard for life” was matched only by his paranoia; later, he purged the Communist Party itself of anyone and everyone he believed was a threat — all under the auspices of a total gun ban.

“If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves,” he once said.

The Ottoman Empire — 1911 — The Ottoman Empire, the origins of which were in Turkey, implemented full gun control in 1911. A few years later …

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

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