Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/14/2013

The cost of President and Mrs. Obama’s upcoming trip to Africa has been leaked: up to $100 million. This includes fighter jets patrolling the skies around Mr. Obama and an airlift of those armored limousines the president requires. There were originally plans to have a safari with sniper-rifle carrying bodyguards, but that has been axed.

In other news, police in Ankara once again used tear gas against protesters who took to the streets.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Caroline Glick, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, JP, 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
» Debt Greece Sacrificed to Save Euro
» Gold Buying Panic in China: 10,000 People Wait in Line for Their Chance to Own Precious Metals [Photos]
» IMF Wades Into Fed Exit Debate, Urges No Change Through 2013
» Italy: Industry Minister Booed for Hesitating on VAT Cuts
 
USA
» Big Brother Obama is Watching
» Climate Change as the Latest Gimmick to Lure Youth to Church
» Connecticut Health Officials Bully Barber Giving Free Haircuts to the Homeless
» Exclusive: Rand Paul Says GOP Divided on Privacy Rights Because of ‘Generational’ Gap
» Forget PRISM: Global Cyberchiefs Say They Need to Pry Even Further
» Glenn Greenwald Regularly Attends Marxist-Leninist Conferences
» How Credible Are the Claims That Mass Surveillance Stops Terror Attacks?
» Jailed Qwest CEO Claimed That NSA Retaliated Because He Wouldn’t Participate in Spy Program
» NYU Throws Out Blind Chinese Human Rights Activist
» Rise in Female Breadwinners Means America is a Loser
» Running Me Over and Lying About it is How the State Dept Does Business, Apparently
» Slaton Police Arrest Woman After Request to See Warrant
» Someone, Somewhere, Is Watching You All the Time, And You Can’t Stop it
» State Department Whistleblower, A Career Foreign Service Officer, Seeks Congressional Protection After State Threatens Her Kids
» Tax Liberation and Transformation — Now
» The End of the Military Industrial Complex
» This Administration: Scarier Than You Could Imagine
» Too Much Prozac Turns Minnows Into Killers
 
Europe and the EU
» Britain’s Top Soldier Warns More Cuts to the Army Means We Will Suffer on the Battlefield
» Editorial: Sweden Rewards Its Gangsters
» German Author in Hiding After Receiving Islamist Death Threats
» How Expo Silenced Debate in Sweden
» Italy: Business Tax-Filing Costs ‘50% More Than EU Average’
» Italy: Former Rome Bankruptcy Judge Arrested
» Italy: Formigoni in Fresh Corruption Probe
» Netherlands: Senate Leader Quits Over Wilders’ Role at New King’s Investiture
» NSA Leaker Snowden Barred From Travel to UK
» UK: A Barbaric Practice That Shames US All
» UK: Army Chief: We Won’t Win Wars if We Are Cut Again
» UK: Anger at BNP Rally Outside St Helens Mosque
» UK: Michael Landy: Saints Alive, National Gallery — Exhibition Review
» UK: Solidarity With Julian Huppert: The Hurt, Pain and Humiliation of Being Compared to Mr Bean
 
North Africa
» Libya: Tripoli Car Bomb Targets Italian Diplomats
» Slain Egyptian Anti-Islamist Writer Faraj Fouda Remembered
» Tunisia: Imprisoned Femen Activists Should be Released
» Unkindest Cut: 13-Year-Old’s Death Shines Spotlight on Rise of FGM in Egypt
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Biomedical Exchange With Italy Growing
» Caroline Glick: Oil Will Take us to a Better Place
» Thousands of Bedouins Protest in Southern Israel Over Evacuation Plan
 
Middle East
» Giuliani: Obama ‘Created’ Syrian Dilemma by Not Acting Sooner on Assad
» Is Obama Starting a War With Syria Just to Distract US From All the Scandals?
» Man Behind Syrian ‘Chemical Weapons’ Claim is Fiction Writer Who Covered Up Benghazi
» Syria: The Euphrates is Flowing Through David Cameron’s Drawing Room
» Syrian Refugees to be Resettled in U.S.?
» Turkish Police Use Tear Gas Again to Quell Protests in Ankara
» US Chemical Weapons Report in Syria ‘Fabricated’ — Russian MP
 
Caucasus
» Georgia Foils Terror Attack Attempt
 
South Asia
» Italy to Continue Afghan Mission Until 2014, Minister Says
 
Far East
» Edward Snowden: Whistleblower or Double Agent?
» Russia Will Offer Electricity to Tokyo, After the Closure of Nuclear Power Plants
» Vietnam to Strengthen Economic Ties With Luxemburg
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» More Than 6,000 People Flee to Niger From North-East Nigeria
» Obama Family Trip to Africa to Cost $60 to $100 Million
» Obama’s Africa Trip Could Cost $100 Million
» The UN Prepares to Go to War for the First Time, With a 3,000-Strong Task Force Sent to Fight Rebels in the Congo
 
Latin America
» Generali Sells Non-Core Assets in Mexico for 500 Mn Euros
 
Immigration
» EU Parliament Approves Schengen Changes
» Guess Who is Behind ‘Conservative’ Radio and TV Ads
» Jeb Bush: U.S. Economy Needs Immigrants Because They’re ‘More Fertile’
» Wake Up!
 
Culture Wars
» Children’s Books Targeted for Promoting Nuclear Family
» UK: Jonathan Sacks is Right: The New Atheists Have Only Opened a Discussion
 

Debt Greece Sacrificed to Save Euro

To Vima Athens

The IMF bailout of Greece has above all allowed its creditors to dodge their responsibilities and guard against contagion. The Greeks should revolt and renegotiate the terms of the loan, writes To Vima.

Giorgios Malouchos

It’s true, then. The aid plan was misrepresented from the start. A plan that has had devastating consequences. A plan that was supposed to “save” Greece, but was really about saving the euro — and by flattening Greece. Who said so? Well, one of the three members of the European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika. The IMF criticised the fund’s partners as much as the fund itself, and the Greek government came under fire too. Together, they headed towards a disaster that had no other purpose than to win time for the other Eurozone countries.

The IMF document published on June 5 is a slap in the face for the “rescue” policy, but above all for “Europe” — that is, Germany — and for the Greek government at the time, led by Socialist George Papandreou, who signed the first memorandum.

They are not only wiping out [creditors], but are giving the impression of wanting to use the Greek crisis to shield and, finally, to reorganise the Eurozone, at the expense of Greece.

The documents are exasperating. The IMF admits the crime, but does not accept its responsibilities. It formally reveals the motives without explaining how the tragedy gripping the country — due not to the debt but to the rescue plan — might even be tackled once the errors have been recognised. The cynicism is overflowing…

‘Recipe for suicide’

And naturally, all this irreparably exposes the Greek political class, which argued for the aid plan and held it out as the sole salvation of the country. And that somehow forced Greece to comply with this recipe for suicide, using “rescue” as the alibi. A rescue that, as the IMF has admitted, has proved a disaster….

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

Gold Buying Panic in China: 10,000 People Wait in Line for Their Chance to Own Precious Metals [Photos]

One day in the near future Americans will finally realize that their money is being devalued at a rapid pace. For the time being the price increases are somewhat muted by official announcements of inflation being under control at around 2% and purported economic recovery on the horizon. The Federal Reserve and the US government are doing everything in their power to maintain a perception of stability.

But what happens when all the machinations are proven to be fruitless during the next stock market crash and currency crisis?

That’s when people panic. That’s when they start mass selling assets that hold no true value, and shift their capital to physical goods that store and preserve wealth.

In China, where the central government has manipulated the currency, economic and financial markets for decades, the people have seen it all before. And they aren’t taking any chances.

While the paper price of gold and silver may have dropped nearly 25% this year, it’s clear that demand in the real world is soaring.

If you want to know what it’s going to look like in front of precious metals dealers when confidence in our government’s ability to manage this crisis is finally lost for good, then look no further than the streets of China.

The following pictures, taken in Jinan in the last 48 hours, depict some 10,000 Chinese citizens lining up to buy physical gold, providing all the evidence you need for the argument that gold is, in fact, money.

These are absolutely stunning.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

IMF Wades Into Fed Exit Debate, Urges No Change Through 2013

The International Monetary Fund lowered its 2014 growth outlook Friday and waded into the hot public debate over the Federal Reserve’s monetary easing exit strategy by suggesting that the central bank should continue its $85 billion a month bond buying until at least the end of 2013.

“There is no need to rush to exit from monetary accommodation given the still large output gap, given the subdued growth that we have, and given the well-anchored inflation expectations,” said IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Industry Minister Booed for Hesitating on VAT Cuts

Retailers fear spending plunge over consumption taxes

(ANSA) — Rome, June 12 — Italy’s industry minister was booed at a business gathering Wednesday when he said he could not promise to freeze a value-added tax.

Whistles and complaints rose from retailers’ group Confcommercio when Flavio Zanonato said he hoped the government could avoid next month’s scheduled increase in the VAT but said there are no guarantees.

“I want to say there won’t be an increase, it’s not what I want,” he said, signalling that a freeze may not be possible. The president of Confcommercio Carlo Sangalo continued to call on the government to try hard to freeze or lower the VAT.

His group fears that higher consumption taxes will keep Italian consumers, who are already cutting back, from further spending.

That, in turn, could further weaken the Italian economy now in its longest recession in roughly 20 years, the group maintains.

Italy’s Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni has previously said that the government needs “to concentrate on investments” to boost growth and jobs, and that it is driving the 1% increase in the top band of VAT effective next month that will take it from 21% to 22%.

Both the VAT and a highly unpopular housing tax, the IMU, are critically important to the government of Premier Enrico Letta because the revenues they generate keep the country running, said Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Maurizio Lupi.

“I understand the difficulty, but the IMU and VAT are a staple (of the budget) and the government will be measured with this,” Lupi said as he entered the House.

He suggested the government is looking for other revenue sources to replace the VAT increase, but did not sound optimistic. Cutting the VAT and the IMU, are vital to free up spending in the economy, argued Renato Schifani, leader of the center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party in the Senate.

Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, founder of the PdL, has vowed that unless the coalition government scraps the IMU, he will bring about its collapse.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Big Brother Obama is Watching

It has become evident that Barack Obama [2]’s definition of “fundamentally transforming the United States” includes Big Brother harassing selected conservatives while monitoring everybody’s email and telephone traffic. These seem to be among the surprising duties of the Internal Revenue Service and the National Security Agency (NSA), respectively.

It’s clear that the IRS has been unfairly targeting and mistreating more than 500 conservative organizations, especially if they use such words as “tea party,” “liberty” or “patriotic” on their tax returns or tax-exempt applications. IRS then bogs them down with years of delays and demands for nosy and unnecessary information.

A House Ways and Means Committee hearing on June 4 exposed some of the IRS’s obnoxious behavior. The representative of an Iowa anti-abortion organization applying for tax-exempt status said the IRS asked her about the content of her organization’s prayers.

Sue Martinek of Coalition for Life of Iowa testified that the IRS asked every board member to sign a letter pledging in writing that they would not picket Planned Parenthood [3].

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Climate Change as the Latest Gimmick to Lure Youth to Church

A recent article in The Christian Post (CP) demonstrates one of the latest pious-sounding gimmicks being proposed as a way to “reverse the trend” of teens leaving the church:

“Climate change is the perfect place to start. A large majority of young Americans view climate change as a serious problem facing their generation. And to date, American evangelicals have been among the slowest to recognize the problem. Far from compromising our values, helping to address the world’s changing climate — which the United Nations Development Program says “will reverse decades worth of human development gains” — would help us fulfill Christ’s command to care for the poor in a way that unites our faith tradition with America’s youth and the broader society.”(Source)

Yes, climate change. When one considers the author of this particular CP article, however, its premise is not so surprising. The author is Deborah Fikes and Stand Up for the Truth reveals that

“…her esteemed title is Representative to the United Nations and Executive Advisor for the World Evangelical Alliance. She is also an Ambassador for The Climate Group’s Clean Revolution campaign — which mobilizes leaders to address climate change in a way that promotes economic growth and improves quality of life. “(Source)

It seems as though Ms. Fikes may have her own agenda, then. An entire post could be written merely about the obvious absurdity of appealing to a liberal agenda as a means of drawing the youth into a church building, so that point will not be labored here.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Connecticut Health Officials Bully Barber Giving Free Haircuts to the Homeless

An 82-year-old barber who has been giving free haircuts to the homeless in exchange for hugs for 25 years was granted permission by the mayor Thursday to keep working in a city park, despite orders to leave from police and health officials.

Anthony “Joe the Barber” Cymerys has been a fixture every Wednesday for years at Bushnell Park, where he cuts hair and his friends hand out food to the needy.

But shortly after Cymerys set up shop this week, he said, health officials and police confronted him and his friends and told them they had to leave because they didn’t have permits.

“I thought it was a drug raid, honest to God,” Cymerys said. “It was the peanut gallery on TV where everyone was watching.”

City health officials said they ordered Cymerys out of the park Wednesday after unnamed local residents expressed concerns about the “safety and sanitation” of Cymerys’ free haircuts to homeless people and his friends’ food distribution. They also noted that Cymerys is not a licensed barber.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Pedro Segarra said later Thursday that he granted Cymerys a special dispensation in light of his years of charitable work. The spokeswoman, Maribel La Luz, said the city will help Cymerys obtain a state barber’s license if he likes.

[Return to headlines]
 

Exclusive: Rand Paul Says GOP Divided on Privacy Rights Because of ‘Generational’ Gap

Republican congressional leaders continue to support an expansive surveillance state because of the “generational” gap in the Republican Party, Sen. Rand Paul posited in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller on Thursday.

The Kentucky Republican said he believes that opinions about the United States’ surveillance practices within the Republican Party are a matter of age.

“Maybe it’s a generational thing and some people believe you can’t have safety without giving government wide and sweeping powers,” Paul told TheDC during the short car trip back to his Senate office from a press conference at the Capitol Hill Club, where he announced his lawsuit against the federal government.

Paul’s belief that the government is acting unconstitutionally by collecting communications data on millions of Americans stands in stark contrast to his party’s leadership.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have all said that they believe the surveillance programs used by the National Security Agency to collect data on phone calls are legal and necessary.

But Paul said younger Republicans don’t have as much tolerance for what he sees as a massive invasion of privacy.

“It does divide our party some, but I think some of the younger members of Congress are just like the younger people in our country, more conscious of issues of privacy,” Paul said.

Paul also expressed outrage that James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, “flat-out lied” when he testified before Congress in March that the NSA wasn’t collecting data on American citizens.

“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions of or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon asked Clapper then.

“No, sir,” Clapper responded bluntly.

“The interesting thing about it is,” Paul explained, “I read that Senator Wyden informed [Clapper’s] office in advance that he would be asking the question. It’s not like he can even claim he was unprepared. He just flat-out lied and said they weren’t collecting any data on Americans and apparently that’s just a complete and utter falsehood.”

The constitutional boundaries of privacy laws were expanded in the 1970s after the Supreme Court ruled on cases like United States v. Miller and Smith v. Maryland, Paul explained, saying that the digital age has brought fresh reminders of the need to protect privacy.

[Return to headlines]
 

Forget PRISM: Global Cyberchiefs Say They Need to Pry Even Further

The exposure of the PRISM data-collection program might not fall squarely under the heading of the third annual International Cyber Security Conference, which concluded on Wednesday at Tel Aviv University. The secret data-collection program, by which U.S. intelligence agencies routinely vacuum up huge amounts of private communications from Internet users, stands outside the realm of safeguarding the cyberworld from attacks. PRISM is defended as an antiterrorism measure, necessary to detect plots as they are hatched between evildoers communicating with one another online.

But it turns out that, from the point of view of the watchers gathered in Tel Aviv, it’s all about expanding their gaze even further. The chairman of RSA, the digital-security company best known for its password key fobs, made the case for “full visibility into all data” as essential to detecting and thwarting threats to the cyberworld as well. Art Coviello, who is also executive vice president of EMC, which now owns RSA, said computer security is no longer about throwing up a fire wall between a piece of equipment and the outside world. Consumers now move between so many digital devices, and entrust information to the cloud, that the idea of “a perimeter” has been falling apart since 2007. Coviello gestured to zettabytes — four levels up from a gigabyte — to drive home his point that there’s just too much data moving out there to protect on site: understanding, he said, that 1 zetta is equal to 4.9 quadrillion books, the world traffic in data was a quarter of a zettabyte in 2007, but had become 2 zettabytes in 2013 and by 2020 might be 40, or even 60.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Glenn Greenwald Regularly Attends Marxist-Leninist Conferences

Shedding new light on the controversy over the NSA terrorist surveillance program, the journalist who has served as the mouthpiece for former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden has addressed several Marxist-Leninist conferences over the last few years.

New Zealand writer and researcher Trevor Loudon reports that Glenn Greenwald spoke to the Socialism 2011 conference and ended the evening of July 3, 2011, as part of a plenary entitled “Revolution and imperialism in the Middle East.” Prior to Glenn Greenwald’s talk to the group, on civil liberties under President Obama, people in attendance chanted “Palestine will be free” and “Wars of occupation will never bring liberation.”

Greenwald is also a featured speaker at the Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago this month.

“That Greenwald was willing to address a gathering of some of the most revolutionary, anti-American elements in the country speaks volumes about his personal views,” noted Loudon. “So Glenn Greenwald, the man who leaked America’s vital national security secrets on a massive scale, may not be the objective, impartial journalist he portrays himself to be.”

Indeed, the emerging evidence is that Greenwald, who writes for the British Guardian newspaper, works hand-in-glove with the International Marxist movement against the United States and its allies. This would help explain why China, Russia and other American adversaries and enemies stand to benefit from his disclosures.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

How Credible Are the Claims That Mass Surveillance Stops Terror Attacks?

We documented yesterday that top national security experts say that the government’s spying programsdon’t make us safer … and that spying leaks don’t harm America.

In reality, top experts have said again and again that spying had little or no role in stopping terror plots.

So why are some government officials claiming that the spying programs are protecting us … and that blowing the whistle leaves us vulnerable?

Let’s start with NSA boss Keith Alexander. One of the leading journalists on the NSA — James Bamford — notes today at Wired that Alexander has a long history of lying, illegal action, and incompetence:…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Jailed Qwest CEO Claimed That NSA Retaliated Because He Wouldn’t Participate in Spy Program

While National Security Agency’s harvesting of telephone data is often defended as a necessary component of post-9/11 national security, old court documents claim the spy agency was putting such a program into place months before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

In court papers filed during his 2007 insider trading trial, former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio claimed that Denver-based Qwest was denied lucrative NSA contracts he believed to be worth $50-$100 million, after Nacchio refused to involve Qwest in a secret NSA program that he thought would be illegal.

Subsequent reporting at the time revealed that it was a domestic wiretapping program in which the NSA wanted to snoop on Qwest’s vast telephone network without court orders.

[…]

[Return to headlines]
 

NYU Throws Out Blind Chinese Human Rights Activist

The leftist-indoctrination centers that many of America’s college campuses have become added another despicable blot to their legacies yesterday. New York University (NYU) announced that blind Chinese political dissident Chen Guangcheng has been tossed off campus. According to the NY Post, the Communist government of China is applying the pressure, using NYU’s expansion of its campus to a facility in Shanghai as leverage. Chen’s presence at NYU has apparently rankled Chinese bureaucrats who signed off on the expansion permits. “NYU isn’t letting a pesky thing like human rights stand in the way of its expansion in China,” reports the Post.

“The big problem is that NYU is very compromised by the fact they are working very closely with the Chinese to establish a university,” said one New York-based professor familiar with Chen’s situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity “That’s their liability,” the source added. “Otherwise, they would be much less constrained on issues like freedom of speech.”

University officials are denying the charge, claiming Chen’s presence on campus was never intended to be long-term, adding that the Chinese government had already signed off on the Shanghai project. “If there were outside pressure, why would we have taken him in the first place when his plight was on every front page in the world?” spokesman John Beckman said in a statement to the Post.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Rise in Female Breadwinners Means America is a Loser

When women start doing what men have traditionally done, yours is a civilization of the setting sun. This is brought to mind when pondering a recent Pew Research Center study showing that women are now the primary or sole breadwinners in 40 percent of American households. You may have heard the story — it created quite a stir on Fox News, with Greta Van Susteren and Megyn Kelly (who became quite hysterical) taking exception to male colleagues’ warnings about the development’s sociological implications. But if these two ladies, and the other critics, had reacted rationally and not emotionally, they would realize what is obvious:

The rise in female breadwinners is a sign of a civilization in decline.

Let’s start by first examining the study. While the term “breadwinner” conjures up images of pleasingly plump paychecks, the real story here is the rise of poor single mothers. Among the 40 percent of women in the breadwinner group, 63 percent are single mothers. This isn’t surprising, since the out-of-wedlock birthrate has risen from about 4 percent in the 1940s to 41 percent today (72 percent in the black community). So what kind of “bread” are we talking about? Writes Amy Langfield of CNBC, “The median income for a single mother who has never been married was $17,400 as of 2011.” And, obviously, having large numbers of single mothers, with essentially fatherless children, struggling to make ends meet isn’t good for the women, the children, or the society as a whole.

The picture looks better for the married 37 percent of the breadwinner group, but only by comparison. Twenty-nine percent of these women’s husbands are unemployed. Moreover, Pew describes these women as older, college-educated, and white. Translation: they’re the one-child wonders. These are often women who postpone childbirth in deference to careerism and then, perhaps after dropping a tidy sum at a fertility clinic, have their sole son or daughter. Why does this warrant mention? Because as the documentary Demographic Winter points out, this phenomenon is a significant contributing factor to the plummeting birth rates among Western peoples. Outside New Zealand, there isn’t one major European-descent group with a replacement-level birth rate. And for all you secular-feminist chauvinists so proud of your cultural hegemony, what do you think happens to values that cause people to erase themselves?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Running Me Over and Lying About it is How the State Dept Does Business, Apparently

by Jim Treacher

On the evening of February 3, 2010, I was struck down by a State Department diplomatic security SUV that made an illegal left turn, driven by an agent named Mike McGuinn, while I was crossing a street in DC. I had the Walk signal and was inside the crosswalk. The impact shattered my left tibial plateau, requiring two major operations and resulting in almost two years of infirmity and painful physical therapy. And it has resulted in a case of PTSD that has confined me to my apartment for most of the past three years. (It’s only been in the last few months that I’ve been able to walk without a limp, when I really concentrate on it, and the meds I’m on are finally helping me walk down the street without panicking.)

I even got a fraudulent jaywalking ticket for my trouble, which I have not paid and will not ever pay.

The State Department’s only response was a press release full of lies, and since then, they’ve put up a stone wall. They refuse to settle, and now I’m just waiting for a judge to get around to my lawsuit.

But as it turns out, what happened to me was a relatively uneventful evening within the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

The NY Post reports:

“The State Department has hired an alarming number of law-enforcement agents with criminal or checkered backgrounds because of a flawed hiring process, a stunning memo obtained by The Post reveals.

The background problems are severe enough that many of the roughly 2,000 agents in State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security can play only limited roles in agency efforts to police bad conduct and prosecute wrongdoers.

The problems in the bureau are the latest revelation in an exploding scandal that also involves accusations that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s security detail and those of the US ambassador to Belgium solicited prostitutes overseas…

The memo cites eight cases involving Diplomatic Security agents who resort to “false, misleading or incomplete statements in reports,” “privacy-act violations” or “lack of objectivity” in investigations.”

Sounds familiar.

I guess it should make me feel better that it’s nothing personal. Their treatment of me, from the moment of impact to the moment I’m typing this, is just the way they do things. They’d still be stonewalling me even if I was a liberal blogger who went on MSNBC and defended Our Dear Leader against those evil teabaggers, right?

Yeah, right.

Despite what Eric Boehlert and the other idiots at Media Matters say, I’ve never claimed I was being targeted that night. The accident itself was due to Agent McGuinn’s incompetence and irresponsibility, not any malice. The malice has been displayed in everything the State Department has done, and hasn’t done, since they mowed me down in the middle of the street. The cover-up. Their modus operandi.

And every day, that picture gets clearer and clearer. Hire a bunch of thugs, and you’ll get a bunch of thuggish behavior. My tax dollars at work.

His Twitter update:

I should count my blessings. The @statedept merely crippled me for life. It’s not like they sent me to #Benghazi.twitpic.com/cx0ejt

NOTE: Pictures of his injuries are at the URL posted above. Amazing that they were able to save his leg.

[Return to headlines]
 

Slaton Police Arrest Woman After Request to See Warrant

Slaton police came to this woman’s house, who wishes to remain anonymous, to arrest her son. But by asking one simple question, she found herself behind bars instead.

“I told him, ‘I will release my son to you upon viewing those orders.’ Those were exactly my words,” The complainant said. “He said, ‘This is how you want to play?’ He took two steps back, turned around to the officer and said, ‘Take her.’ They turned me around, handcuffed me, and took me in.”

The complainant said she was aware police would be coming to apprehend her 11-year-old son based on a criminal complaint, and that she just wanted to see the warrant. As it turns out, that warrant didn’t exist. She spent the night in jail while her son was left at home.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Someone, Somewhere, Is Watching You All the Time, And You Can’t Stop it

The idea that someone is listening every time you pick up your cell phone is scary enough, but a recent report by David Knight makes it alarmingly clear that someone, somewhere, is watching every single move you make. Short of removing yourself from the grid and buying yourself an invisibility cloak there’s literally no way to escape the prying eyes of the feds.

After learning last week that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been using data-mining techniques to monitor cell phone and email communications between millions of American citizens, you might have been outraged for a moment, or maybe even a day or two. But then, if you’re like most Americans, you thought, “Well, I don’t spend much time on my phone or my computer anyway, so they’re not talking about me.”

Rest assured — they most certainly are talking about you. And they’re monitoring your activities in ways you probably don’t even realize…

Currently sitting on President Obama’s desk is a proposal that would require companies to build into their network structures the capability for the federal government to automatically tap into the system and collect information.

This is a crucial piece of legislation. Currently, companies are asked to comply when the feds want access to a database but if the company isn’t technologically able to comply then the feds can’t force them to. However, with this new legislation, all companies will be required to build the necessary systems into their networks. If not, they face fines of up to $25,000 per day.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

State Department Whistleblower, A Career Foreign Service Officer, Seeks Congressional Protection After State Threatens Her Kids

by Bryan Preston

The State Department whistleblower is Aurelia Fedenisn. She worked in the department’s inspector general’s office until her retirement in December 2012. According to USA Today, she has sought protection as an official whistleblower after the State Department directly threatened her, once at her home. It threatened her with criminal charges when she turned over documents to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) showing evidence that the department had watered down her report, in which she alleged that the department at the highest levels had scuttled eight investigations into a range of criminal wrongdoing.

Dallas lawyer Damon Mathias, who represents Fedenisn, said Fedenisn hired him after two diplomatic security agents spoke in a threatening manner to her teenage children at her home in a Virginia suburb of Washington.

[…]

When Fedenisn and her lawyers met with lawyers for the Office of the Inspector General, the government lawyers demanded she hand over the documents or they would refer the matter to the Department of Justice and Fedenisn would face criminal prosecution, Mathias said.

“They made it clear that they would go after her criminally,” he said.

[…]

The allegations Fedenisn’s IG investigation uncovered include

= the accusation that Obama bundler turned US ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman sought the services of prostitutes routinely…

[…]

= … accusations that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail used prostitutes when they traveled with Clinton…

= …allegations that State Department officials engaged in an underground drug ring in Baghdad, Iraq.

The overarching accusation within all of this is that the State Department at the highest levels scuttled all eight investigations. Specifically, that career officer Patrick Kennedy and Clinton loyalist Cheryl Mills engineered the death of those investigations.

The State Department took Fedensin’s whistleblowing extremely seriously. CBS, which originally broke the story without naming Fedensin, reports that “Two hours after CBS News made inquiries to the State Department about these charges, investigators from the State Department’s Inspector General showed up at [Fedenisn’s] door.” That’s apparently when they threatened her kids.

[…]

…there’s a decent argument to be made that the State Department’s two scandals…ha[ve] four dead Americans and now at least three threatened Americans, and an inspector general who is now seeking what amounts to asylum in the care of Congress against the executive branch that allegedly threatened her.

[…]

[Return to headlines]
 

Tax Liberation and Transformation — Now

It is beyond obvious by now that the IRS has become nothing but a totalitarian puppet of controls and terror for Americans. I hear from any Americans, who aren’t ‘Stepford Wives’ Obama clones, who don’t think our tax rates are too high and that the IRS is out of control. I beg to differ with that assumption and thought however. Based on the unfolding evidence and testimonies of countless witnesses and whistleblowers, the IRS is not out of control at all. It has been in the complete control of Obama, his administration and agenda to punish all Obama enemies from the start.

It has been revealed now that all the orders to attack Tea Party groups and other conservatives came straight from the White House and D.C. It wasn’t a low level moment of rebellion in a single city as the Obama sound bite theatre threw out to the media.

Records show that the disgraced former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman went to the White House 157 times. This is dramatically more times than Obama’s most trusted Cabinet members. Hmmmm…Compare that to the Bush days. The IRS commissioner only came to the White House 1 time to see Bush.

The facts being revealed so far show major high ups in the IRS, from Lois Lerner onward who turned the already oppressive IRS into Obama’s SS, breaking laws to simply punish, stall and destroy Obama’s enemies.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

The End of the Military Industrial Complex

“We are now in a different fiscal environment dealing with new realities that will force us to more fully confront these tough and painful choices, and to make the reforms we need to put this Department on a path to sustain our military strength,” Hagel told the Senate budget committee. “The onset of these resource constraints has already led to significant and ongoing belt-tightening in military modernization, force structure, personnel costs, and overhead expenditures.”

Hagel said the Pentagon would be forced to make cuts to personnel benefits, reduce force size, and delay training of new recruits. But some of the most dramatic cuts are expected to occur in the acquisitions budget, which pays contractors for the machinery they produce and the services they provide.

Earlier in the year, there was concern that the $43.2 billion removed from DOD’s budget this year combined with an additional $600 billion over the next decade, would hamstring the broader economic recovery. As the chart below shows, DOD spending accounts for nearly 6 percent of gross domestic product.

Hubert van Tuyll, a professor of economics at Georgia Regents University and co-author of Castles, Battles, and Bombs: How Economics Explains Military History, said he was not concerned about DOD dragging down the broader economy.

“When you have a big defense drawdown, it doesn’t really hurt the overall economy that much. But when you have a drawdown, the military establishment has to make a decision to lose people or equipment,” van Tuyll told The Fiscal Times. “It’s the equipment that will go first.”

This is bad news for defense contractors. In the coming years, the massive post-9/11 military industrial complex will be forced to confront a series of challenges, from the drawdown to a poorly defined mission, that will eat away at their bottom lines. This will force defense contractors to make tough decisions regarding their futures their research and development budgets shrivel.

[…]

Jurgen Brauer, professor of economic at Georgia Regents University and co-author of “Castles, Battles, and Bombs”, said these companies needed to reinvent themselves. A prime example how a defense contractor can evolve is General Electric. The company made enormous profits and technological advances during World War II. Once the war was won, it began to invest in and acquire other businesses. Now it offers everything from financial management to refrigerators along with military jet engines.

“Last time around, after the end of the Cold War, we saw a huge consolidation (mergers & acquisition) among the major contractors,” Brauer, who is teaching overseas, wrote in an email to The Fiscal Times. “Unlike Europe, there isn’t much more to consolidate among the U.S. ‘majors’ so they may seek even more overseas contracts or, for those with a civilian market portfolio, are likely to shift more deliberately and clearly into nonmilitary work.”

[…]

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This Administration: Scarier Than You Could Imagine

If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound? If the Obama Administration breaks the law at will, lies to the American people, uses every government agency at it’s disposal to punish it’s conservative/Republican enemies and no one does anything about it, does it make a sound? Yes it does resulting in devastating consequences for the American people.

Despite a trifecta of scandals, Obama and company continue to stonewall, lie or refuse to answer questions; in essence, giving Congress and the American people the finger. Pundits are shocked and taken-aback by the unprecedented arrogance of the Obama Administration.

Such pundits are a bit late coming to the dance as we in the Tea Party have been well aware of the lawlessness and arrogance of this bunch of thugs from Chicago for years. Have these surprised pundits forgotten Obama’s unprecedented overreaches into the private sector — nationalizing General Motors; bullying banks; ignoring the ruling of federal judges, trashing the Constitution and more?

Still, pundits are missing the much greater horrifying picture. My fellow Americans we are in deep, deep trouble. The cold reality is that until someone steps forward in real opposition to Obama governing according to his will while ignoring all the laws, checks and balances, we are defenseless expendable supplicants of a tyrannical dictator.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Too Much Prozac Turns Minnows Into Killers

Fish swimming in water with a trace of the anti-depressant Prozac did not adopt a cheery disposition. Instead, they became edgy, aggressive and some even killed their mates.

The fish were subjected to traces of the drug by a research group at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that examined how environmental exposure to the medication altered the behavior of fathead minnows, a common fish found throughout the Midwest.

Lead researcher Rebecca Klapper says that this experimental setup could actually be a reflection of the fishes’ reality.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Britain’s Top Soldier Warns More Cuts to the Army Means We Will Suffer on the Battlefield

Britain’s chances of winning future wars will be ‘seriously damaged’ by more crippling spending cuts, the country’s top soldier has warned.

General Sir Peter Wall, the head of the Army, said further savings likely to be ordered by the Government could prove ‘quite dangerous, quite soon’.

Under current plans, the size of the Army is being reduced from 102,000 three years ago to 82,000 — small enough for every soldier to fit inside Wembley Stadium.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Editorial: Sweden Rewards Its Gangsters

by Ingrid Carlqvist

I had hardly spoken these words on the Russian television channel Russia Today before they became a reality. To the reporter’s surprise, I explained that the rioters in Husby would end up with more money being handed to their “zones of social exclusion.” I explained to her that our government periodically decides to allocate some additional hundred millions to the areas where the immigrants live — as if their exclusion is not self-chosen but happens because the “racist” Swedes refuse to give them work, and probably make sure that they fail in school, too.

And the other day, the Minister of Integration Erik Ullenhag made new promises to the criminals who burned cars and schools in Husby and other suburbs. In an essay in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter (June 10), Ullenhag wrote: “For the next two years, 200 million kroner in performance-based aid has been allocated to the most vulnerable urban districts. The government has also announced that we would like to try out new-business zones in the most vulnerable districts so that it becomes cheaper to employ people in these neighborhoods.”

He also wrote: “On the part of the government, we have taken a number of initiatives that can contribute to a positive development in these neighborhoods. State money is being spent on schools in the most vulnerable areas, and the government wants to change the Education Act so that the municipalities will be required to give more to those schools that have the greatest needs.”

Reflect for a moment on what this means. I cannot interpret it any other way than that the young immigrants who turned Husby upside down have now secured more benefits to the residents there. From now on, even more money is to be taken from schools where the students study hard and behave well, to be given to schools where the students beat up or threaten teachers and ignore their studies.

Working Swedes will be forced to compete with immigrants who will be 80 percent cheaper to employ. Entire zones will be established in which companies may enjoy big advantages when it comes to social security contributions for its employees. When even this fails — which it will, of course, since many people in these zones have no desire to work but prefer to live on Swedish welfare payments — the next step will be: The removal of the minimum wage and the creation of factories with extremely low pay. The Swedish welfare state will be dismantled, and we must resign ourselves to no longer receiving the treatment and care that we’ve paid taxes to get for so many years. The money will simply run out — too few people are working and paying taxes to finance the welfare we toiled together to create. And what little money there is will be generously spread among those who have devoted themselves to a career of crime and destruction.

You really have to ask yourself where this is going to end up. In my most pessimistic moments, I think that the Sweden we grew up in is lost forever. The politicians who run the country now seem to have only one issue on the agenda — to wipe out everything that once was good about Sweden and introduce a multicultural chaos that could ultimately lead to civil war.

Next Sunday, The People’s Movement of Värmland will attempt a “peasant rebellion.” They will march to Parliament and demand that PM Reinfeldt’s government resign. Unfortunately, I do not believe there will be a particularly large attendance. The chaos will probably have to become even worse before the Swede pulls out his clenched fist from his pocket and demands to get his country back.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

German Author in Hiding After Receiving Islamist Death Threats

A German author of Egyptian origin has gone into hiding after having recieved death threats from Islamists. Hamed Abdel-Samad is one of Germany’s highest-profile experts on Islam.

The news of the death threats against Abdel-Samad was announced by his publisher on Tuesday.

“Hamed Abdel-Samad is taking the call for him to be murdered seriously and has gone into hiding,” the head of the Munich-based Droemer Knaur publishing house, Margit Ketterle, said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

How Expo Silenced Debate in Sweden

by Ingrid Carlqvist

Dispatch International continues its examination of how Expo arose and came to have “expert” status.

During the autumn of 1995, a full page in the magazine Expo was entitled “Expo thanks.” Among those who were thanked there were Youth against Racism, Hasan’s Friends, the Young Left, Jewish Chronicle, ABF and the political youth organizations SSU (Social Democrats), CUF (Centre Party) and LUF (Liberal People’s Party). A “special thanks” was directed to SKMA, the Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Business Tax-Filing Costs ‘50% More Than EU Average’

Firms will take 162 days on tax reports this year say retailers

(ANSA) — Rome, June 12 — An Italian company has to work approximately 296 hours a year to complete all the procedures needed to file its tax reports, almost 50% more than the European Union average, according to a survey by retailers’ association Confcommercio and the Centre for European Reform think-tank released on Wednesday. Overall, Italian firms’ tax-filing costs are twice as much as in France, 60% higher than in Spain and 30% higher than in Germany, according to the study. Italian small and medium-sized companies spend 10 billion euros a year in processing their taxes.

The research found that Italian businesses will have to work this year a record 162 days to file tax reports, up from 139 required in 1990 and 150 in 2000. The European average is 130 days, 24% less than Italy.

According to Eurostat data released in April, Italy’s tax burden in 2011 was the second-heaviest among the 27 EU members. The European statistics agency found Italians had to pay 42.3% of their earnings to the State, only slightly lower than Belgium at 42.8%.

On Tuesday, the head of small-business federation Giorgio Merletti warned that businesses could no longer take the fiscal pressure which in 2013 is expected to reach 44.6% of GDP, or 2.4% more than the EU average.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Former Rome Bankruptcy Judge Arrested

Chiara Schettini charged with embezzlement, corruption

(ANSA) — Perugia, June 12 — A former bankruptcy court judge from Rome was arrested Wednesday in the central city of Perugia on charges including embezzlement and corruption.

Investigators said they have been watching Chiara Schettini for months as they investigated her professional conduct.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Formigoni in Fresh Corruption Probe

Ex-Lombardy governor investigated for suspected graft

(ANSA) — Milan, 12 June — Former Lombardy governor Roberto Formigoni has been placed under investigation on suspicion of corruption and tender-rigging in a kickbacks probe in which seven people including a former regional councillor were arrested in March, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported Wednesday.

Formigoni, a prominent member of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party, was already investigation for suspected conspiracy and corruption linked to the Pavia-based Maugeri health-care foundation. Businessman Pierangelo Dacco’, a friend of Formigoni’s, is at the centre of the Maugeri probe.

On Tuesday a Milan appeals court sentenced Dacco’ to nine years in prison for embezzling money through the San Raffaele hospital in Milan.

According to the court, Dacco’ helped create the so-called “San Raffaele system”, whereby entrepreneurs who worked under contract for the hospital would intentionally overbill clients and give the difference to Dacco’ who used the money for slush funds.

He was also found guilty of misappropriating assets and tax fraud.

Formigoni has consistently denied wrongdoing and says he paid for holidays on a boat provided by Dacco’.

The PdL heavyweight’s lawyer complained Wednesday that news of the probe was broken by the press without his client being informed, like the previous one, although he did not cast doubt on the report.

Formigoni and the whole Lombardy government and parliament resigned at the end of last year after a wave of scandals.

The PdL governor of Lazio also resigned at about the same time.

Local administrations led by various parties have been hit by scandals, mainly involving misuse of public funds, over the past two years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Netherlands: Senate Leader Quits Over Wilders’ Role at New King’s Investiture

The leader of the senate has resigned over claims he kept anti-immigration MP Geert Wilders out of the official escort for king Willem-Alexander during his investiture in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.

Earlier this week, the Volkskrant reported that Fred de Graaf used his role as master of ceremonies to keep Wilders away from the new king. Wilders is not only a controversial figure because of his position on Islam. He has also been highly critical of what he called queen Beatrix’s ‘multi-culti’ leanings.

Wilders welcomed De Graaf’s decision to step down, saying it was the only logical decision. ‘The senate chairman should be neutral and this was clearly not the case,’ Wilders is quoted as saying.

De Graaf told the paper he had tried to ensure the escort reflected the make-up of parliament, was divided between men and women and focused on long-serving MPs.

However, he also kept in mind the prospective attention which would be paid to Wilders if he was in close proximity to the king, De Graaf said. Wilders is one of the longest-serving Dutch MPs

[Return to headlines]
 

NSA Leaker Snowden Barred From Travel to UK

The British government has warned airlines around the world not to allow Edward Snowden, who leaked information on top-secret US government surveillance programs, to fly to the United Kingdom.

A travel alert, dated Monday on a Home Office letterhead, said carriers should deny Mr Snowden boarding because “the individual is highly likely to be refused entry to the UK.” The Associated Press saw a photograph of the document taken today at a Thai airport. A British diplomat confirmed that the document was genuine and was sent out to airlines around the world. A Thai airline also confirmed the alert had been issued…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: A Barbaric Practice That Shames US All

Thousands of young girls in Britain are at risk of genital mutilation — so why won’t we act?

Whether you call it female circumcision or female genital mutilation, it is a horrible practice. Forty years ago, in Sudan, where I first heard of it, they called this cutting of young girls tahoor. In those days it was estimated that more than 95 per cent of Sudanese girls had to endure it. Today, a report by MPs reveals that not only is tahoor still just as prevalent in many African countries, but thousands of children in Britain are at risk…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Army Chief: We Won’t Win Wars if We Are Cut Again

Forcing more spending cuts on the military would be dangerous and disruptive and would damage the country’s ability to win wars, the head of the Army warns.

Gen Sir Peter Wall warned that further savings would place the Army’s future plans in jeopardy and seriously damage its “professional competence” in some areas. His outspoken intervention comes at a critical stage in spending negotiations between the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury. Defence chiefs have so far been reluctant to comment on the Spending Review, which will set levels of government spending and is due to be presented to MPs on June 26. But Sir Peter’s comments will be seen as a warning shot from the Armed Forces, which fear another round of painful cuts. George Osborne, the Chancellor, has said he wants to find £11.5 billion of savings from Whitehall departments and the Ministry of Defence is expected to be hit hard…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Anger at BNP Rally Outside St Helens Mosque

POLICE were called to a BNP rally outside an Islamic community centre in St Helens. Members of the far-right group held banners and handed out leaflets outside the Iman Trust’s base on Elton Head Road, Sutton, last Monday (June 3). The decision by the groupto picket the centre has prompted concern among the wider community. Council leader Barrie Grunwald among those condeming the protest.

The Iman Trust, a registered charity, is based in a former residential property known as St Michael’s Mount — close to Sherdley Park and Sutton High Sports College. According to their website, the building is used both as the Islamic community centre for St Helens and Knowsley and for prayer as a mosque.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that the BNP demonstration was only attended by a handful of people and had passed off peacefully. She said: “There were no problems created and no reports of any issues. It was a peaceful protest which only lasted about two hours.”

A report on the BNP’s website read: “We decided it would be a good idea to inform the local residents what the building was being used for. The local police came down, and asked what the demo was for, but seemed happy to let us continue once we had informed them what our plans involved.”

No one from the Iman Trust, which runs the community centre, was available for comment.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Michael Landy: Saints Alive, National Gallery — Exhibition Review

by Brian Sewell

London has many dedicated homes for the grotesqueries of contemporary art — why then should Michael Landy’s clattering sculptures take up space at our National Gallery?

With five million visitors a year the National Gallery is very rarely a place of aesthetic or intellectual contemplation, and there are days when it is as thronged and turbulent as a railway terminus, echoing with clamour. I rejoice that so many now crowd to see masterpieces by great painters, but deeply regret — as must those who run the gallery — that the chatter and clatter of the visitors themselves inevitably reduces the quality of the experience. Such circumstances are now, however, and for almost the rest of the year, worsened by its authorities themselves, for their latest exhibition in the heart of the old building is one that involves the whir and clank of machinery and the strike of stone and metal on hollow torsos of stout fibreglass.

The exhibition is called Saints Alive. They are not. Nor are they dead. They are some half-dozen simple electric machines embellished with superfluous conrods, wheels and pulleys that add decorative (and fraudulent) complexity, combined with what are best described as waxwork body parts (in fibreglass), to re-enact the self-torment and martyrdom of saints and other episodes from the Golden Legend and the Bible, so often the subjects of paintings in the gallery. Press a button and a butcher’s cleaver strikes the head of St Peter Martyr (a tiresome Dominican inquisitor), St Jerome beats his breast with a stone to banish sexual fantasies, and the finger of St Thomas, seeking proof of the Resurrection, pokes Christ’s ribs; St Catherine’s wheel the visitor must turn by hand. All these are by the gallery’s current artist in residence, Michael Landy, and they are therefore works of art…

The Tates and the Arts and British Councils pour public money into the work of the pampered few, Landy one of their number — he has no need of the publicity offered him by the National Gallery. If his presence there was planned to attract a younger audience, then the authorities should look again at those who flood through the doors — they are young, and if many of them have not the slightest notion of how to look at pictures, diverting them with Landy’s lunatic contraptions will not solve the problem, for these are far better suited to the far end of Brighton Pier than to Trafalgar Square. The catalogue unwittingly touches on the problem in that it includes brief lives of the saints without which many visitors will be none the wiser. It is a matter of education.

In the later 20th century educationalists destroyed our cultural background, denied children the Old and New Testaments that over so many generations framed our laws, politics and social attitudes, abandoned the Greek and Roman heritage that informed our drama, literature and music, and discarded history. [JP emphasis.] Of all these the visual arts are a reflection, but without some knowledge of such sources we cannot even recognise the subjects or share the empathy of the artists so passionately involved in their depiction…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Solidarity With Julian Huppert: The Hurt, Pain and Humiliation of Being Compared to Mr Bean

by Paul Goodman

Julian Huppert, the MP for Cambridge, is unhappy, according to the Times (£). When he rises to speak in the Commons, his fellow MPs greet him with a collective sigh, as theatre-goers once greeted Peter O’Toole’s legendarily calamitous production of “Macbeth”. Yesterday, they upped the ante — and Mr Huppert clambered to his feet amidst a chorus of jeers. Hansard records the following recent exchange: “Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) rose. Hon Members: “Oh, no.” Asked if he felt bullied, Dr Huppert replied — honestly and pithily — “Yes.”

I know how he feels. Over ten years ago, I was minding my own business in the Commons chamber, in the pleasant state of daydream that MPs habitually slip into when their colleagues are speaking, when my tranquility was suddenly and brutally disturbed. Tony Banks, the former Labour MP, was speaking. He was saying that John Thurso, the MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, looked remarkably like Lord Lucan. “He has done well to seek the anonymity of being a Liberal Democrat,” he said.

How exquisitely put, I thought. What a sage this Banks must be. Then he flung an arm out in my direction. “There is a Tory Back Bencher who looks remarkably like Mr. Bean,” he said. Oh, the hurt, shame and humiliation! Worst of all, Banks was right. Lord Thurso really does look like — and for all I know, may actually be — Lord Lucan. (Please don’t ask what a peer is doing in the Commons: it’s a long and complex story.) And I really do bear a passing resemblance to an imaginary character whose name for some reason escapes me…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Libya: Tripoli Car Bomb Targets Italian Diplomats

Tripoli — An Italian embassy staff car exploded Tuesday (June 11th) in Tripoli, minutes after alert observers warned that the vehicle had been rigged with a bomb. The white Toyota Previa with diplomatic tags was parked at the al-Ghola Centre, in Tripoli’s Zawyat al-Dahmani neighbourhood. Libyan extremists likely planted the homemade device while the Italians were shopping.

According to a security source in the area, the blast left two children slightly wounded and damaged several stores. The presumed “gelatina bomb destroyed the back of the car”, an Italian embassy official told Libya Herald on condition of anonymity. The small improvised explosive device is common in Libya…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Slain Egyptian Anti-Islamist Writer Faraj Fouda Remembered

Militants gunned down Faraj Fouda for alleged blasphemy in 1992

Cairo: Twenty-one years after his killing by Muslim radicals, Faraj Fouda, an Egyptian secularist noted for anti-Islamist writings, is remembered as a thinker with a vision for a country where concerns mount over Islamists’ rise to power. “My father expected he would be killed,” said Samar, Fouda’s eldest daughter. “At that time, he was the only one who exposed Muslim extremists and their shallow interpretation of Islam,” she told the private Egyptian TV station CBC this week. Samar was 16 years when her father was shot. The militant Jamaa Islamiya (Islamic Group) claimed responsibility, branding Fouda as an apostate…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Tunisia: Imprisoned Femen Activists Should be Released

Yesterday’s prison sentences against three activists from FEMEN, an international women’s movement known for staging topless protests, in Tunisia are an unacceptable restriction on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

The women, two French nationals, Marguerite Stern and Pauline Hillier, and one German, Josephine Markmann, were arrested on 29 May as they protested bare-chested in front of the Tunis Court building, demanding the release of a Tunisian FEMEN activist arrested days earlier. They were convicted of public indecency, undermining public morals, and making noise disturbing peace, and sentenced to four months and one day in prison. The three women intend to appeal their conviction…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Unkindest Cut: 13-Year-Old’s Death Shines Spotlight on Rise of FGM in Egypt

As a 13-year-old girl dies, Bel Trew reports on why female genital mutilation may be on the rise again in Egypt, where 91 per cent of women are circumcised

Sohair El-Batea’s story is not uncommon in Egypt: a 13-year-old girl from a Nile Delta village was sent for an illegal circumcision by her parents to the local clinic. Something went wrong and she died en route to hospital. The autopsy revealed Sohair, whose sisters had been cut by the same doctor, died from “shock trauma”. Staff at the hospital, who tried to revive the teenager, told her mother the doctor drugged Sohair without the supervision of an anaesthesiologist.

Sohair’s father, a farmer, defended his decision, telling local media that neighbours recommended the physician, someone with “a remedy for everything at low prices”. The family was allegedly told by the clinic to say nothing further. Human rights groups feared that, as usual, nobody would be held accountable for Sohair’s death, and, sure enough, on Wednesday, the doctor responsible was released without charge.

Sohair’s is not the first death to make headlines. In 2010 another 13-year-old, Nermine El-Haddad, bled to death in a hospital, post-operation. Three years before that, two girls of a similar age died, leading parliament to criminalise the practice. One of their mothers told local media she paid just £5.50 for the operation. Despite the practice being illegal, Egypt has among the highest rates of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the world. In the post Arab Spring upheaval, and with Islamist MPs pushing decriminalisation of the practice in Parliament, activists fear FGM may become more acceptable…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Biomedical Exchange With Italy Growing

Italy key player at ‘Biomed 2013’ in Tel Aviv

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JUNE 12 — The exchange of pharmaceutical biotechnology between Italy and Israel in the field of innovative medicine is one of the fastest growing sectors between the two countries. Daniela Jabes from Assobiotec, the Italian association which represents more than 120 companies in the bioindustry, was speaking today about recent growth at a special conference called ‘Biomed 2013’ held in Tel Aviv.

Organised by the Italian Embassy and the Israel-Italy Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the conference covered “challenges and opportunities” that particular drugs offer the sector in the two countries.

Jabes said there is no doubt that relations between the two countries “are excellent and in constant evolution. We are finalising collaboration agreements with public institutions and Israeli hospitals, one in the area of diabetic patients”.

“Italy and Israel are two very similar countries with almost the same culture which is able to interact very well. There are many in Israel who trained in medicine in Italy’. According to Jabes, among the Italians “there is plenty of capacity for technological innovation, while the Israelis have a great willingness to apply these technologies. In summary, from us more creativity, from them more practice”.

The trend was also underscored by deputy director general of the Israeli health ministry, Arnon Afek, who said biomedics was one of the most vibrant areas of exchange between Italy and Israel.

Italian ambassador, Francesco Maria Talo’ noted the “similarity” of the two countries’ health systems, including hospitals and patient treatment.

“The health and pharmaceutical sectors are among the most prevalent, as well as space and engineering”.

The ‘Biomed 2013’ conference was also backed by the Agenzia Ice which promotes Italian business abroad and the Intesa San Paolo Bank.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Caroline Glick: Oil Will Take us to a Better Place

By all accounts, Shai Agassi, the founder and original CEO of Better Place, Israel’s bankrupt electric car company, is an extremely charismatic man. His charm had politicians, venture capitalists, celebrities and non-automotive industry reporters slobbering over him. Everyone wanted to get their picture taken with the man who would transform Israel’s auto industry into the first electric powered industry in the world and transform the start-up nation into the transportation hothouse for the world.

Agassi’s vision was simple and easy to understand.

By 2020, half of Israel’s cars would be battery powered electric cars supplied by his company, Better Place. We would replace our internal combustion engines, powered by oil produced by our worst enemies, with batteries produced by Better Place. Better Place would overcome the technological deficits of batteries that are only capable of powering a car for short distances by building battery changing stations throughout the country. Instead of filling up our tanks with gas, we would replace our battery.

And our enemies would go bankrupt.

The only ones not convinced by Agassi’s plans were people who actually understand the car market generally and the Israeli car market in particular…

?utm_source=MadMimi&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Oil+will+take+us+to+a+better+place&utm_campaign=20130614_m116344766_Oil+will+bring+us+to+a+better+place&utm_term=Continue+reading___

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]
 

Thousands of Bedouins Protest in Southern Israel Over Evacuation Plan

JERUSALEM, June 13 (Xinhua) — Thousands of Bedouins took to the streets of Israel’s southern city of Be’er Sheva on Thursday to protest at a controversial resettlement plan which would displace more than 30,000 Bedouins living in the Negev Desert. The protesters raised banners reading “The people want to overthrow the plan,” “Don’t displace us from our villages,” and “ policemen in the Negev are above the law.”

The plan has been approved in principle in September 2011 by the former cabinet, and now is awaiting approval by the parliament. The plan recommends allocation NIS 1.2 billion (around 300 million U.S. dollars) to expand and relocate Bedouin communities and offers a regulation process according to which the lands will not be registered to their Bedouin owners but to be turned over to the state…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Giuliani: Obama ‘Created’ Syrian Dilemma by Not Acting Sooner on Assad

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Thursday that President Barack Obama “created this situation” in Syria by not acting sooner to stop President Bashar al-Assad’s regime from using chemical weapons against opposition forces.

“He’s gotten himself into a real pickle,” Giuliani told Sean Hannity on Fox News. “This is what happens when you leave a vacuum — and you have an America that doesn’t want to be aggressive, an America that doesn’t want to act. Somebody else fills the vacuum.”

Earlier Thursday, the Obama administration said that it now had definitive evidence that Assad’s forces had used the nerve gas sarin and other chemical weapons “multiple times in the last year,” according to Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

[…]

“He doesn’t have a good answer right now,” Giuliani told Hannity, echoing former President Bill Clinton’s criticism of Obama on Syria earlier Thursday. “But what is also true is that he put himself and our country in that position — and for that, he and [former Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton should be held to account.”

[…]

Giuliani added, “Russia has moved into the vacuum and has become an Iran. Iran’s been there from the beginning, but Russia has now filled the vacuum — so now they’re supporting Assad.

[Return to headlines]
 

Is Obama Starting a War With Syria Just to Distract US From All the Scandals?

So exactly what are we going to be doing for the Syrian rebels? Well, we will definitely be arming them and training them. And it is probably reasonable to assume that there will be American “advisers” on the ground inside Syria helping to organize the Syrian resistance. In fact, according to Debka, a large U.S. Marine force has already been deployed to the Jordanian border with Syria.

In addition, according to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. aircraft may be involved in enforcing a no-fly zone inside Syria…

But you know what? Many of these Syrian rebels have actually pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The whole point of the “war on terror” was to supposedly fight al-Qaeda, but now the U.S. military is allied with them.

Why in the world would we want to help the people who are supposed to be our greatest global enemy?…

These are no “freedom fighters”. In fact, if these guys take over they will be much worse than Assad. These “rebels” recently massacred an entire villages of Christians, and just two days ago they slaughtered a 14-year-old boy for supposedly insulting Mohammed…

And guess what? According to the Los Angeles Times, the Obama administration is considering plans to bring all of the poor “refugees” that are allied with these “rebels” to the United States…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Man Behind Syrian ‘Chemical Weapons’ Claim is Fiction Writer Who Covered Up Benghazi

Ben Rhodes, the White House national security advisor behind the claim that President Bashar Al-Assad used chemical weapons in Syria, is a fiction writer with zero educational background in government, diplomacy or national security who also played a key role in covering up the truth behind the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

35-year-old Rhodes has been a speechwriter for Obama since 2007 and now enjoys the role of deputy national security adviser for strategic communication. He created the infamous term “kinetic military action” to describe the bombardment of Libya which allowed Obama to skirt around the constitutional question of having to declare war.

Rhodes’ expertise revolves around manufacturing narratives. “He earned a master’s degree in fiction-writing from New York University just a few years ago,” writes Ed Lansky. “He did not have a degree in government, diplomacy, national security; nor has he served in the CIA, or the military. He was toiling away not that long ago on a novel called ‘The Oasis of Love” about a mega church in Houston, a dog track, and a failed romance.”

As Stephen Hayes documents in a lengthy Weekly Standard piece, Rhodes was instrumental in altering CIA talking points to delete references to Islamic terrorists being involved in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, setting the foundation for the Obama administration’s cover-up of the incident by claiming the siege was a demonstration against an anti-Muslim film. This was an attempt to hide the fact that the White House had supported Al-Qaeda terrorists in the overthrow of Gaddafi, just as they are now doing in Syria…

In addition, the innumerable examples of Obama-backed Syrian rebels obtaining and using chemical weapons — including the recent discovery by Turkish police of 2kg of sarin nerve gas in the hands of Al-Nusra terrorists [url] — have been conveniently swept aside.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Syria: The Euphrates is Flowing Through David Cameron’s Drawing Room

by Paul Goodman

The image is borrowed from Clarissa Eden, wife of Anthony Eden, who told a group of Conservative women in the aftermath of the Suez crisis that “in the past few weeks I have really felt as if the Suez Canal was flowing through my drawing room”. At first glance, there is no reason why the Syrian tragedy should provoke a similar image. We have no immediate interest in Syria. Our armed forces have withdrawn from Iraq. They are now being scaled back. The conflict in Syria is being transformed from one of protest versus tyranny to one of Sunnis versus Alawites (with the Christians and other religious minorities nervously sheltering behind the latter).

It is thus part of the wider struggle between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam in the middle east (see above). Saudi Arabia is leading for the Sunni world, or rather for its own form of Sunni Islam, the takfiri version which goes all the way back to the Kharijites, and is expressed in the oil-financed export of its extremist modern successor, Wahaabism/Salafism. Iran is leading for the Shi’ite one, or rather for its own form of Shi’ite Islam, shaped by the Khomeini revolution. The latter threatens Israel, an ally; has had a calamitous effect on the balance of Lebanon, and occasionally strikes at Jewish targets outside the middle east.

But although it is a threat to the stability of the region, it hasn’t been one to the security of Britain, at least to date. The maniacs who murdered a soldier on the streets of Woolwich, and who executed the 7/7 atrocity, were all inspired by the takfiri tradition, of which Al Qaeda is a part. So in so far as we have any national interest in Syria at all, it is in keeping that movement of ideas and people out of power there. To do so we would, were we to intervene, have to do much more than add to that $3 billion of small arms that has already gone in. We would have to supply rebels with anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.

This would mean training them to use these weapons, which our military would need to do. The latter would therefore be required to identify which rebels are democrats and which are extremists, a task for which they are not equipped and terms which may make less sense in atrocity-torn Syria than think-tank seminars in London. If the rebels won, Britain’s shrinking armed forces would then be required to police a country divided by religion and ravaged by war. Even abroad, the Syrian opposition is increasingly Islamist in flavour — refusing recently to work with Mohammed Al-Yacoubi, a leading Syrian cleric, Sufi and opponent of the regime.

The Times (£) reports this morning that the American Government is now prepared to send small arms to Syria. The apparent reason is the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government, but that these have been deployed has been known for some time. The real reason is doubtless that the Obama administration is spooked by the prospect of Assad winning the war. His forces have taken Qusair. They are poised to take Aleppo. Britain and France have been pushing to arm the rebels. The question now is whether the Cabinet and Parliament will and should agree to Britain doing so.

Some reports of Cabinet discussions could be read as suggesting that George Osborne and Michael Gove are in one corner, clamouring for war in Syria, with Ken Clarke and Sayeeda Warsi in the other, urging that nothing be done. Having made enquiries, I’m certain that this picture is very wide of the mark: one Cabinet Minister described discussions as “agonised”, and stressed that no easy options are available. That may be so, but choices certainly are. There must be no British troops on the ground in Syria nor planes in the air there. And as Julian Lewis wrote on this site, Parliament must vote before any arms are sent.

[Reader comment by RobertDMML on 14 June 2013 at about 9 am.]

I agree, Paul and so does Sir Andrew Green, former Syrian ambassador; it would be an absolute disaster for us to be involved in this civil war. Only a swivel eyed lunatic would do so. Hague has failed to learn the lesson of his political hero Pitt the Younger and stay well clear of that continuous tumultuous, religiously warring basket case Middle East.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Syrian Refugees to be Resettled in U.S.?

Administration considers plan to bring thousands to American cities

(Los Angeles Times) Two years into a civil war that shows no signs of ending, the Obama administration is considering resettling refugees who have fled Syria, part of an international effort that could bring thousands of Syrians to American cities and towns.

A resettlement plan under discussion in Washington and other capitals is aimed at relieving pressure on Middle Eastern countries straining to support 1.6 million refugees, as well as assisting hard-hit Syrian families.

The State Department is “ready to consider the idea,” an official from the department said, if the administration receives a formal request from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, which is the usual procedure.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Turkish Police Use Tear Gas Again to Quell Protests in Ankara

ANKARA, June 14 (Xinhua) — Turkish police used tear gas again to quell demonstrations in Ankara early on Friday after the government proposed to hold a referendum on the future of Gezi Park. Police used tear gas and water cannons against a group of 200 demonstrators that were blocking traffic on the Kennedy Avenue, near the embassy of the United States. Protesters scattered in side-streets were also chased by the police. Five people have reportedly been taken into custody.

On Thursday , Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a “last warning” to thousands of protesters in Gezi Park of Istanbul, calling on them to evacuate the epicenter of the nationwide demonstrations…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

US Chemical Weapons Report in Syria ‘Fabricated’ — Russian MP

A US government report concluding Syria has used chemical weapons against rebels, crossing what US President Barack Obama has previously described as a “red line,” is a fabrication, a senior Russian lawmaker said Friday.

“Information about the usage of chemical weapons by [Syrian President Bashar] Assad is fabricated in the same way as the lie about [Saddam] Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq],” Alexei Pushkov, head of the Russian lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee, said on Twitter.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Georgia Foils Terror Attack Attempt

TBILISI, June 13 (Xinhua) — The Georgian interior ministry has foiled a terror attack attempt, the ministry said Thursday.

The ministry has so far detained two foreign nationals, identified as Michael Kadiev and Rizvan Omarov, according to a ministry press briefing. The detention was conducted Thursday morning through a joint operation among the interior ministry, the prosecutor’s office and the anti-terrorist center. During the operation, explosive materials, electric detonators, firearms and falsified ID documents were seized.

Michael Kadiev has been wanted by the Interpol. The interior ministry declined to identify the nationalities of the detainees but said: “At this stage of investigation it has been established that (Michael) Kadiev has been hiding on the territory of Georgia from Interpol since 2011; he used to leave the country occasionally.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Italy to Continue Afghan Mission Until 2014, Minister Says

But will keep training troops, says in briefing on 53rd death

(ANSA) — Rome, June 12 — The Italian government intends to “continue its participation in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan ending it as scheduled in 2014”, Defence Minister Mario Mauro said on Wednesday, briefing the Lower House on an attack last Saturday which killed an Italian soldier serving in ISAF. Giuseppe La Rosa, a 31-year-old member of the Third Bersaglieri Regiment, was killed in a hand-grenade attack by an adult who is now under arrest and not, as initially claimed by the Taliban, by an 11-year-old, Mauro said. The attack that killed La Rosa in Farah Province, western Afghanistan “was coupled with a real psychological war with the release of information claiming the attacker was an 11-year-old boy so it would come across almost as an heroic act carried out with the participation of the population”, the defence minister told an almost-empty House on Wednesday.

The attacker, Mauro said, has been identified as Walick Ahmad, 20, and has given “a full confession”, taking responsibility for both the death of La Rosa and another attack carried out on Tuesday in the same area against Italian troops aboard a Lince (Lynx) armoured vehicle which caused no victims. The death of La Rosa, the 53rd Italian to be killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of NATO operations, led to calls from some parties for the pull-out to be sped up.

The Italian contingent which now has about 3,100 units is being progressively reduced this year and “will be further cut down throughout 2014’. After the ISAF mission in Afghanistan ends “we intend to continue our engagement in that country beyond 2014 by assisting and training Afghan troops”, said the minister.

The new mission “will be non-combat and will not include the fight against insurgents, nor against terrorism and drug trafficking,” Mauro said.

Coalition forces currently train, mentor and fight alongside Afghan troops.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Edward Snowden: Whistleblower or Double Agent?

While some initially championed Edward Snowden, the 21st century mole holed up in Hong Kong, as a martyr, there also appears to be a growing backlash against the former NSA contractor. And as the story slowly unfolds, one key question stands out: is Snowden the heroic whistleblower he claims to be or something more sinister?

During one of his first newspaper interviews, when he spilled national security secrets, Snowden called himself “just another guy who sits there day to day in the office.” But now some are questioning his motives and wondering whether claims that he wanted to right a perceived wrong are true — or whether he could be a modern-day double agent, cleverly hiding his actions and painting himself as a victim of the U.S. government while working as an agent for the Chinese.

Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” thinks there’s a strong possibility Snowden could be playing for both sides.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Russia Will Offer Electricity to Tokyo, After the Closure of Nuclear Power Plants

Electricity for 5.68 billion dollars from 2025. Russian companies response to Tokyo’s hunt for energy.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) — According to the Nikkei business daily, the major Russian energy companies will supply electricity to the island of Hokkaido from 2025. The news was confirmed by Alexey Kaplun, director general of the Rao Energy System of East, the biggest energy company in eastern Russia, in an interview with the Japanese newspaper.

Since February the Rao Energy System of East and Inter Rao have been in negotiations with Japan Softbank Corp and Mitsui & co. for the export of 4 gigawatts of electricity to Japan starting in 2025. The energy produced from hydropower and fossil fuel plants on Sakhalin island will arrive in Hokkaido through underwater cables and will cost Tokyo about 5.68 billion dollars.

The Fukushima disaster in 2011 and the subsequent closure of nuclear power plants have forced the Japanese government and national energy companies to seek alternative energy sources abroad. Between the end of April and beginning of May, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe led a diplomatic tour that took in Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to weave new energy relationships with the presidents of their respective countries. On that occasion, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin and Japanese head of state relaunched diplomatic negotiations on the sovereignty of the southern Kurile Islands, a controversy that had led to a freeze in relations between the two countries dating back to the end of World War II.

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

Vietnam to Strengthen Economic Ties With Luxemburg

HANOI, June 13 (Xinhua) — Vietnam defines Luxemburg as an important partner in economics, trade and investment under the Vietnam-Luxemburg Oriented Cooperation Strategy in the 2011-2015 periods, state-run Vietnam News Agency reported on Thursday, quoting sources from the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) as saying. Specifically, the strategy is built on three main pillars of Luxemburg’s advantages, including state-of-the-art technology, capital potential, and excellence and experience in management…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

More Than 6,000 People Flee to Niger From North-East Nigeria

Dakar — The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday that the crisis in north-eastern Nigeria has forced more than 6,000 mainly women, children and older people to seek safety in neighbouring Niger. “Those UNCHR has spoken to say they escaped for fear of being caught in the government-led crackdown on insurgents linked to the Boko Haram sect, particularly in the Baga area of northern Nigeria, close to the Niger border,” spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists.

Refugees report that air strikes by government forces are continuing from time to time, and that planes are regularly flying over the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa where a state of emergency has been in force since May 14. “People arriving in Niger also mention the increasing presence of roving armed bandits in several states in Nigeria. Rising commodity prices coupled with pre-existing food insecurity is also becoming a major concern for the populations of the affected states,” UNHCR’s Edwards noted…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Obama Family Trip to Africa to Cost $60 to $100 Million

Safari with sniper-rifle carrying bodyguards cancelled after press inquiry

(Weekly Standard) President Obama and his family will be going to Africa later this month. But the trip won’t be cheap; it’s expected to cost American taxpayers $60 to $100 million, according to the Washington Post.

“When President Obama makes his first extended trip to sub-Saharan Africa later this month, the federal agencies charged with keeping him safe won’t be taking any chances. Hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center, will be stationed offshore in case of emergency,” reports the Post.

“Military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bullet-proof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Obama’s Africa Trip Could Cost $100 Million

According to a confidential internal planning document obtained by The Washington Post, hundreds of Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, which the first family will visit from June 26 to July 3.

A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center, will be stationed offshore in case of an emergency.

In addition, military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks carrying bulletproof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the Obamas will stay. And fighter jets will fly in shifts to provide around the clock coverage over the president’s airspace.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama also had planned to take a Tanzanian safari during the trip, which would have required a special counterassault team to carry sniper rifles in the event of a threat from wild animals, the Post reported, citing the document.

But the safari was canceled in favor of a trip to Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner, officials told the newspaper.

The Post noted that when it first asked White House officials about the safari last week, they said no final decision had been made, adding that a White House official said Thursday that the cancellation was not related to the newspaper’s inquiries.

[…]

Obama’s overseas travels — he will visit Northern Ireland and Germany next week — come as government agencies, including the Secret Service, face spending cuts mandated by the sequester.

The Secret Service reportedly has had to cut $84 million, and this spring the agency canceled public tours of the White House in order to save $74,000 a week in overtime.

NOTE:Just to rub it in, the current residents have continued to throw expensive private parties at the White House, starting with the day they closed it to school tours, etc. They party in the rooms they have arbitrarily closed to public visits. Noblesse oblige: it is “The People’s House” no longer.

[Return to headlines]
 

The UN Prepares to Go to War for the First Time, With a 3,000-Strong Task Force Sent to Fight Rebels in the Congo

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

The UN is about to go to war for the first time in its history after the Security Council voted unanimously to intervene to fight rebels in the Congo.

Around 3,000 UN troops wearing the blue insignia, are being deployed to the central African nation which has been wracked by years of civil war and lawlessness.

The UN has led a 14-year-long peacekeeping in a bid to end the ethic conflict which was sparked by the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda when thousands of Hutus fled into the Congo to evade justice.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Generali Sells Non-Core Assets in Mexico for 500 Mn Euros

Italian insurer says minority assets sale boosts liquidity

(ANSA) — Rome, June 11 — Italian insurer Generali said Tuesday that it will sell its minority stakes in two Mexican insurance companies for a net capital gain of 500 million euros.

Generali, Italy’s largest insurance company, said it would sell its 49% minority interest in Seguros Banorte Generali and Pensiones Banorte Generali for $857.5 million, or 649 million euros.

The sale to Grupo Financiero Banorte will result in a net gain of 500 million euros, Trieste-based Generali said.

The sale allows the insurance company to shed non-core assets while strengthening its financial profile and liquidity.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

EU Parliament Approves Schengen Changes

Border controls should be ‘an exception’

(ANSAmed) — STRASBOURG — The EU parliament today approved reforms of the Schengen treaty of free movement.

Strasbourg stressed that the decision to reintroduce internal border controls should be “an exception” based on “objective criteria” and for a limited period of time ( 10 days for emergency situations, 30 days for periods of up to six months in cases of a particular threat to internal security).

The new system also has a clause providing for unannounced visits of experts, and clearer rules for follow-up evaluations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Guess Who is Behind ‘Conservative’ Radio and TV Ads

You’ve seen them on television and heard them on the radio, those commercials boasting that “conservatives” like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan are working to make sure we have a tough, enforceable immigration system that closes our borders and makes all those illegals go to the back of the line to await possible future citizenship.

Well, here is my solemn pledge to you: if you believe that, then I want to sell you an iconic old bridge in New York City that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan. If you’re interested, I can make you a really good deal on it.

Rubio, by far the most disappointing member of the so-called Gang of Eight, is also either the most naïve man in the United States Senate or the most duplicitous. Recently, on the Spanish-language Univision TV network he bragged about his obvious sell-out to the illegal immigration lobby. Perhaps the senator thought that because the interview was in Spanish, it somehow wouldn’t make its way into the hands of a translator who actually cares about an issue as important as the invasion of our country by tens of millions of lawbreakers. In any case, Rubio brazenly admitted to an illegal alien-friendly audience that border security will, in fact, take a back seat to legalization and, ultimately, citizenship.

“Let’s be clear,” the senator stated. “Nobody is talking about preventing legalization. The legalization is going to happen. That means the following will happen: First comes legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border. And then comes the process of permanent residence.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Jeb Bush: U.S. Economy Needs Immigrants Because They’re ‘More Fertile’

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) argued Wednesday that the United States should pass immigration reform because the U.S. economy needs the labor of young immigrants, and immigrants are “more fertile.”

“Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans,” Bush said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to the Majority conference. “Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity.”

Bush said immigrants are an advantage that the United States has over China, Europe and Japan, which don’t have the same immigrant tradition and are struggling to find young laborers.

“If we don’t do it, we will be in decline, because the productivity of this country is dependent upon young people that are equipped to be able to work hard,” Bush said.

Bush, whose wife is a Mexican-born immigrant, has long been an advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Wake Up!

It’s time to wake up! Conservatives — while you are (rightly) excited about NSA snooping and partisan IRS corruption, the Congress is about to change America in a more profound, permanent way right under your noses. In the process it will hand President Obama the major second term achievement that will help him overcome the very scandals that are distracting you — or, rather, make his survival or re-ascendance unimportant. He will have won. Democrats will have shaped the future electorate to their own liking. They’ll have transformed what America is.

Please forget about Benghazi and Cincinnati and Edward Snowden’s girlfriend for a minute and pay attention to the main event.

You have one weapon in your arsenal that can trump the big money behind the Gang of 8 bill (S.744). That weapon is fear. It’s not as if the Republican elite has suddenly been persuaded that an amnesty-first immigration bill is a good idea, after all. They’ve always preferred amnesty. They were just too scared to pursue it. What stopped them was the prospect of swift retribution from the electorate, not limited to the Republican primary electorate.

This fear hasn’t disappeared. The elites were scared of voters before and they can be scared again. This applies to red state Democrats like Mark Pryor and primary-able Republicans like Lisa Murkowski. It applies to fence-sitters like Lamar Alexander. It even applies to those like Kelly Ayotte who have now committed to supporting instant legalization (despite having campaigned against it). If voters now make their displeasure with Ayotte known — well, politicians at the top have a way of backtracking from unpopular stands. That’s how they got to the top. At the very least Ayotte’s difficulties would serve as a cautionary example to others.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Children’s Books Targeted for Promoting Nuclear Family

Researcher: Children’s media use cuddly animals to reinforce ‘racist,’ ‘socially dominant norms’

(National Post) Parents who read their kids stories about happy, human-like animals like Franklin the Turtle or Arthur at bedtime are exposing their kids to racism, materialism, homophobia and patriarchal norms, according to a paper presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Most animals portrayed in children’s books, songs and on clothing send a bad message, according to academics Nora Timmerman and Julia Ostertag: That animals only exist for human use, that humans are better than animals, that animals don’t have their own stories to tell, that it’s fine to “demean” them by cooing over their cuteness. Perhaps worst of all, they say, animals are anthropomorphized to reinforce “socially dominant norms” like nuclear families and gender stereotypes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Jonathan Sacks is Right: The New Atheists Have Only Opened a Discussion

by Douglas Murray

There is a superb piece in the magazine [The Spectator] this week by the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, titled ‘Atheism has failed: only religion can defeat the barbarians.’ Whether you agree with his diagnosis or his preferred remedy, it is a characteristically thought-provoking and vital piece…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

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