News Feed 20110716

Financial Crisis
» Confirmed: Federal Reserve Policy is Killing Lending, Employment and the Economy
» Debut of Made-in-China Social Security Checks
» 14 Reasons Why Rick Perry Would be a Really, Really Bad President
» Alarm is Sounding Across the Nation About Agenda 21
» Cain Calls Out Obama on Debt Ceiling ‘Scare Tactics’
» Does Google Spy on You for NSA? Judge Says, ‘None of Your Business’
» La Raza Funding Skyrockets After Obama Hires Its VP
» Leaders, Media ‘Hiding What They Know’ About Obama Eligibility
» Post Belatedly Recognizes Growing Internal Terrorist Threat
» Responsible Drinking for Chinese Prostitutes? Your Tax $ at Work…
» U.S. Spends $2.5 Bil on “Social Equity” Program
Europe and the EU
» Italy: Cat Mourned in National Newspaper
» Italy: Bishop Offers Support to Threatened Journalists in Trapani
» Italy: Head of Agrigento Bar Association Resigns Over Alleged Mafia Links
» Taint From Tabloids Rubs Off on a Cozy Scotland Yard
» UK: Five-Star Hotel Claridge’s ‘Threw us Out for Being White and English’
» UK: School Heads to be Given Powers to Sack Teachers With Extremist Beliefs
» UK: School Orders Parents to Buy Their Children a £600 iPad2
North Africa
» Italy-Algeria: Honeymoon for Two Countries, Algerian Press
Middle East
» Iran: U.S. Condemns Death Penalty for Apostasy
» Lebanon: Al Jazeera Tells of Italian Language Success
South Asia
» Burmese Military Torture and Kill Kachin People
» India: A Billion Dollars to Clean Up a Filthy Ganges
» India: Uttar Pradesh: 5 Pentecostal Pastors and Faithful Arrested on False Charges
» Kathmandu: For the First Time Christians Included in Nepalese Census
Far East
» Japan to Mine Rare Earths in Pacific Ocean
Australia — Pacific
» Australian Government Launches $12 Million Carbon Tax Propaganda Blitz
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Bishop Mazzolari Has Died in Southern Sudan
» NATO Transfers Rescued Migrants to Tunisia
» Sailboat Offloands Human Cargo of 52 Migrants in Calabria
Culture Wars
» Sex, Lies and Government Schools

Financial Crisis

Confirmed: Federal Reserve Policy is Killing Lending, Employment and the Economy

I’ve previously documented numerous ways in which the Fed is working against its stated goals, such as:

  • Reinforcing cyclical trends (when one of the Fed’s main justifications is providing a counter-cyclical balance);
  • Increasing unemployment (when the Fed is mandated by law to maximize employment); and
  • Encouraging financial companies to make even riskier gambles in the future (when it is supposed to stabilize the financial system).

And I’ve repeatedly pointed out that the Federal Reserve has been intentionally discouraged banks from lending to Main Street — in a misguided attempt to curb inflation — which has increased unemployment and stalled out the economy.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Debut of Made-in-China Social Security Checks

The controversial national debt or public debt is $14 trillion to $100 trillion, depending on how many variables are considered. Nobody disputes the fact that, over the years, U.S. ran more deficits than surpluses because of recessions, inflation, sluggish growth, wars, oil price shocks, and a steady growth in entitlements.

Two American presidents are largely responsible for entitlements, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson with the “New Deal” and the “Great Society.” All politicians recognized the popularity of the programs and considered it political suicide to reduce or repeal the benefits once extended. Tip O’Neill called entitlements the “third rail of politics.”

Promising costly benefits to individuals predicated on an unsustainable Ponzi scheme eventually caught up with countries like Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain (PIGS), especially since their governments gave up their sovereignty and could no longer control their monetary policies, they were at the mercy of the European Union and its currency, the euro. It is heading in that direction for the United States. Right now, our temporary salvation is the fact that we can print our dollar.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


14 Reasons Why Rick Perry Would be a Really, Really Bad President

Supporters of Texas Governor Rick Perry are not going to like this article at all. Right now, Republicans all over the United States are touting Rick Perry as the “Republican messiah” that is going to come charging in to save America from the presidency of Barack Obama. Many believe that if Rick Perry enters the race, he will instantly become the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Perry certainly looks the part and he knows how to give a good speech, but when ordinary Americans all over the country take a hard look at his record, they may not like what they see. The truth is that Rick Perry is a big-time globalist, he has raised taxes and fees in Texas numerous times, he has massively increased the size of government spending and government debt in Texas, he has been trying to ram the Trans-Texas Corridor down the throats of the Texas people and he tried to force young women all over Texas to be injected with the Gardasil vaccine. No, Rick Perry is not going to save America. In fact, he would likely be very, very similar to both Bush and Obama in a lot of ways.

Right now, Rick Perry is trying to portray himself as a “good conservative” so that if he enters the race he will be accepted by Christian conservatives. If Rick Perry did win the Republican nomination, he would have a great chance of winning the general election because he would very much be an “establishment” candidate.

But before Republicans get too excited about Rick Perry, there are a whole lot of things that they should know about him.

The following are 14 reasons why Rick Perry would be a really, really bad president…

#1 Rick Perry is a “big government” politician. When Rick Perry became the governor of Texas in 2000, the total spending by the Texas state government was approximately $49 billion. Ten years later it was approximately $90 billion. That is not exactly reducing the size of government.

#2 The debt of the state of Texas is out of control. According to, the debt to GDP ratio in Texas is 22.9% and the debt per citizen is $10,645. In California (a total financial basket case), the debt to GDP ratio is just 18.7% and the debt per citizen is only $9932. If Rick Perry runs for president these are numbers he will want to keep well hidden.

#3 The total debt of the Texas government has more than doubled since Rick Perry became governor. So what would the U.S. national debt look like after four (or eight) years of Rick Perry?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Alarm is Sounding Across the Nation About Agenda 21

Agenda 21 is a threat coming from the United Nations that is invading every city and town in the nation. It leads to control over private property, energy use, water use; it means government will control how hot your shower may be, how much air conditioning or heat you may use, controls on owning and using your car, controls on food production, controls on population growth, and so much more.

The policy of Agenda 21 comes in many names, such as Sustainable Development, Smart Growth, historic preservation, diversity, open space, heritage areas and comprehensive planning.

It all means locking away land, resources, higher prices, sacrifice and shortages and is based on the age old socialist scheme of redistribution of wealth.

Agenda 21 is being implemented in your community by a hoard of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with private political agendas. They surround your elected officials and pressure them to accept these policies.

The most prominent NGO is called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). More than 600 American cities are paying dues to ICLEI to set up Agenda 21 plans and policies that control your life.

Through the enforcement of non-elected boards, councils and regional governments, Agenda 21 is the blueprint to turn your community into a little soviet. Our nation is being transformed into a centrally-controlled planned economy — the exact opposite of America’s unique Republic.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Cain Calls Out Obama on Debt Ceiling ‘Scare Tactics’

He ‘allowed it to become a crisis so he could use it as leverage to get what HE wants’

Republican president candidate Herman Cain today called out President Obama on the debt ceiling fight, accusing the Democrat of using the situation to demand more taxes and more spending to meet his own desires.

During an appearance on the Steve Gill Show, Cain, the former chief of Godfather’s Pizza, said Republican congressional leaders should ignore Obama’s “scare tactics” about hurting “old people, children and puppy dogs.”

He called for Republicans to oppose raising the debt ceiling, a goal shared by the “No More Red Ink” campaign that explains House Republicans have it within their grasp simply to not raise the debt ceiling — and thereby require the federal government to slash spending and start living within its income.

“This debt ceiling thing should not have become a crisis,” Cain said on the Steve Gill Show. “This president allowed it to become a crisis so he could use it as leverage to get what HE wants … which is to raise taxes and keep on spending. The American people are saying ‘no’.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Does Google Spy on You for NSA? Judge Says, ‘None of Your Business’

‘Court is not to conduct detailed inquiry to decide whether it agrees with agency’

A federal judge has ordered that whether Google is spying for National Security Agency or not, you have no right to know.

“The NSA need not disclose ‘the organization or any function of the National Security Agency, [or] any information with respect to the activities thereof,’“ U.S. District Judged Richard Leon has ordered.

“Once the agency, through affidavits, has created ‘as complete a public record as is possible’ and explained ‘in as much detail as is possible the basis for its claim,’ … ‘the court is not to conduct a detailed inquiry to decide whether it agrees with the agency’s opinions,’“ he said.

The demand for information had been raised by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which said the ruling would be appealed.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

La Raza Funding Skyrockets After Obama Hires Its VP

A Judicial Watch investigation reveals that federal funding for a Mexican La Raza group that for years has raked in millions of taxpayer dollars has skyrocketed since one of its top officials got a job in the Obama White House.

The influential and politically-connected National Council of La Raza (NCLR) has long benefitted from Uncle Sam’s largess but the group has made a killing since Obama hired its senior vice president (Cecilia Munoz) in 2009 to be his director of intergovernmental affairs.


This week a JW probe has uncovered details of the alarming increase in federal funding that these NCLR groups have received since Munoz joined the Obama Administration. In fact, the government cash more than doubled the year Munoz joined the White House, from $4.1 million to $11 million.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Leaders, Media ‘Hiding What They Know’ About Obama Eligibility

Investigator says, ‘I can’t wait to see Nancy Pelosi in an orange jumpsuit’

The private investigator who has confirmed that Barack Obama is using a Social Security number issued to a Connecticut address, when he allegedly was in high school in Hawaii at the time it was assigned, says the leaders in American government as well as the mainstream media are aiding and abetting in concealing the truth from the American public.

“They are hiding what they know to be the truth, that he’s not eligible to be president,” Susan Daniels said today. “I can’t wait to see Nancy Pelosi in an orange jumpsuit.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Post Belatedly Recognizes Growing Internal Terrorist Threat

In the “better-late-than-never” department, The Washington Post has devoted 3,783 words to Abdirizak Bihi, a Muslim activist trying to counter radical Islamic activities in Minnesota and the recruitment of Muslim youth in America by a “shadowy network of recruiters.” This is the same individual who got little attention from the Post when he testified on March 10 before Rep. Peter King’s Homeland Security Committee.

The Post is finally confirming in dramatic detail the nature of the internal terrorist threat in the United States.

But you may recall that the liberal media tried to demonize King for even holding the hearings.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Responsible Drinking for Chinese Prostitutes? Your Tax $ at Work…

The Obama administration will pay $2.6 million to train China’s prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job.

The researcher conducting the program told that the purpose of the project is to develop an intervention program targeting HIV risk and alcohol use “female sex workers” (prostitutes). but Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel believes it is an incredibly irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars and calls it liberal and politically correct.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.S. Spends $2.5 Bil on “Social Equity” Program

The Obama Administration is celebrating the second anniversary of its imaginative program to bring “social equity” to underserved communities by bragging that three federal agencies have doled out more than $2.5 billion in “assistance.”

The taxpayer dollars help low-income communities improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment. At least that’s how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes it in a press release. Keep in mind that this is the same agency that has spent enormous sums to bring “environmental justice” to poor communities.

This is clearly another publicly funded, Obama Administration program that aims to redistribute wealth. There are too many to name here, but follow Judicial Watch’s investigations to see some of the outrageous projects that this administration is funding with tax dollars.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Italy: Cat Mourned in National Newspaper

‘He was my inspiration’ says artist owner

(ANSA) — Milan, July 13 — A bereaved owner of a deceased cat took out a full-page ad in Italy’s leading newspaper Wednesday to mourn the death of her feline companion.

“My profound feelings are beyond financial measure,” said Luciana Matalon, 77, reflecting on the death of Sky, her 15-year-old cat, and her decision to publish a lavish obituary in Corriere della Sera.

Matalon, a well-known artist in Milan, explained that Sky had filled a void left by the passing of her husband some years ago.

“I don’t even know how I continued to work after his death,” she said. “Sometimes I would wake up in the morning and find an artwork completed that I didn’t even remember doing”.

Sky changed that, giving the artist a zest for life she describes as “catitude”, the feline version of gratitude.

Matalon originally wished to transport Sky’s remains in a helicopter to her home in Sardinia but encountered “obstacles”.

Nothing, however, could stop her from publishing a solemn epitaph in the paper.

“I will soon be with you,” it concludes.

“And we’ll never leave each other ever again”. (photo: a cat)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bishop Offers Support to Threatened Journalists in Trapani

(AGI) Trapani -Trapani’s bishop, Micciche’, has expressed his support for the journalists, victims of a death-threat letter.

In a note Bishop Francesco Micciche’ said, “The letter is surely part of a crazed plan, also targeting the Bishop and the Diocese for several months now.” “It is the latest act of barbarism which strikes a heavy and painful blow, not only to the Trapani church, but is also creating consternation and indignation among the faithful and all of civil society.” .

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

Italy: Head of Agrigento Bar Association Resigns Over Alleged Mafia Links

Palermo, 15 July — (AKI) — The head of the bar association in the southern Italian city of Agrigento, Sicily, Nino Gaziano, has resigned from his post amid a probe of allegations that he abetted the local mafia.

Gaziano denies the allegations and has asked to be questioned by investigators “as soon as possible.”

In a parallel development, police in the Sicilian capital, Palermo, arrested 35 mafia suspects in the ‘Hybris’ operation. The suspects are accused of mafia association, extortion, armed robbery and drug trafficking.

Police arrested the suspects on the orders of anti-mafia prosecutors in Palermo. Almost all of the suspects have refused to answer any questions.

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

Taint From Tabloids Rubs Off on a Cozy Scotland Yard

For nearly four years, six overstuffed plastic bags containing possible evidence of phone hacking by the British tabloid, The News of the World, collected little more than dust in the evidence room of Scotland Yard.

During that time, British police officials assured Parliament, judges, lawyers, potential hacking victims, the news media and the public that there was no evidence of widespread hacking by the paper. But that assertion has been reduced to tatters in the last week, torn apart by an avalanche of contradictory evidence, admissions by newspaper executives that the hacking was more widespread, and a reversal by police officials who now admit to mishandling the case.

In an article in the Sunday New York Times, Don Van Natta Jr. explains how the British police agency and News International, the British subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the publisher of The News of the World, became so intertwined that they shared the goal of containing the investigation.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Five-Star Hotel Claridge’s ‘Threw us Out for Being White and English’

One of Britain’s most exclusive hotels has been accused of throwing out a visitor — for being white and English.

Claridge’s in Mayfair, central London, has been a favourite venue for the rich and famous and is often referred to as ‘an extension of Buckingham Palace’.

But socialite and writer Taki Theodoracopulos has accused the establishment of favouring rich Arabs who spend frivolously over British aristocrats.

Theodoracopulos said that he was with a group of friends at the hotel’s bar when he was asked to leave because the staff ‘were hoping for Gulf people’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: School Heads to be Given Powers to Sack Teachers With Extremist Beliefs

Heads are to be given new powers to sack teachers with extremist beliefs, under official guidelines announced yesterday.

Teachers will face the axe if they stage lessons that undermine ‘fundamental’ British values such as the rule of law, democracy and individual liberty.

The measure is designed to make it easier for heads to sack teachers who are members of the British National Party or those with extremist Islamic beliefs.

It follows comments from Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, that membership of far-right groups was incompatible with the duty to ‘shape young minds’.

And it comes after a teacher and BNP member was cleared of religious intolerance last year by the General Teaching Council.

He was allowed to keep his job despite describing immigrants as ‘filth’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: School Orders Parents to Buy Their Children a £600 iPad2

A school came under fire yesterday for forcing its parents to buy a £600 iPad2 for their children.

Teachers at Longfield Academy, in Dartford, Kent, have succumbed to the current technology trend and are bulk-buying 1,400 of the touchscreen computer tablets made by Apple.

From September the school will require all pupils to have one and are installing interactive whiteboards that link to the iPads.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Italy-Algeria: Honeymoon for Two Countries, Algerian Press

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 13 — Relations between Italy and Algeria are going extremely well, and El Watan — one of the most important newspapers in the North African country — spoke of a “honeymoon” between the two countries in its coverage of yesterday’s visit by Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini. It then went on to say that “bilateral relations are going so well that the Italian government is ready to sign a series of agreement with Algeria, one of which includes the granting of long-term visas for Algerians to enter EU territory.” Frattini’s visit, its contents and results have been front and centre on the national agency APS’s homepage since yesterday morning, with photos showing the Italian foreign minister with Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika and foreign minister Mourad Medelci.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran: U.S. Condemns Death Penalty for Apostasy

State Department says Christian pastor told to recant or die

The U.S. State Department has issued a statement condemning the “hypocrisy” of Iran, which while publicly proclaiming its tolerance for human rights, in practice has condemned to death a Christian pastor because of his faith.

In a statement from department spokesman Victoria Nuland, the U.S. said, “While Iran’s leaders hypocritically claim to promote tolerance, they continue to detain, imprison, harass and abuse those who simply wish to worship the faith of their choosing.”

The statement said, “We are dismayed over reports that the Iranian courts are requiring Yousef Nadarkhani to recant his Christian faith or face the death penalty for apostasy — a charge based on his religious beliefs. If carried out, it would be the first execution for apostasy in Iran since 1990.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Al Jazeera Tells of Italian Language Success

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 8 — The popularity of the Italian language almost has the markings a true phenomenon in Beirut.

Despite the lack of particular historical ties between Lebanon and Italy, such as those linking the latter to other Middle Easter countries, and despite the fact that Dante’s language is not one of the most widespread at the international level, such as English and French, a large number of young people in the Lebanese capital attend Italian language courses. The Al Jazeera site paid a visit to the Italian Institute of Culture in Beirut and met with students to find out why so many of them opt to study the language. The popularity of the Italian language in Lebanon is most likely due, according to the site, to the fact that the institute, has since its founding in 1952 continued to work uninterruptedly, even during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990). When the country’s capital, Beirut, was divided into two parts — East and West — during the war, the Institute set up two offices, one in each part, and continued its activities nonetheless. The uninterrupted presence of the cultural centre gave rise to bonds of trust and respect between the institute and the Lebanese population and institutions. The translation of the Koran from Arabic to Italian by Martino Mario Moreno, the institute’s first director, did much to bring the population and the centre closer, claims Al Jazeera. In addition to Italian language courses and the participation in Lebanese cultural activities, especially those related to music, design and cinema, the institute helps students to enroll in Italian universities. “Over two hundred students leave for Italy every year to study engineering, business administration or art, or to further their education,” said Andrea Baldi, cultural attaché at the Italian embassy. “The reason why Lebanese students prefer Italian universities to their English or French counterparts is due, “ said Baldi, “to the fact that the level of university instruction in Italy is not lower than those in France or Britain, while at the same time there is a shared heritage, customs and traditions between Italy and Lebanon which play a part in why Lebanese students prefer Italy.” “Completing post-graduate studies in a European country can help to increase the chances of finding a job,” remarked Ahmed, who holds a degree in business management from Beirut’s Islamic University. “I applied to five French universities but was turned down. I think that studying in Italy is much easier than in other countries.” “I am attending an Italian course,” said Farouk, another student at the institute, “because I want to study engineering in Italy. The level of university studies in engineering is very high in Italy.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Burmese Military Torture and Kill Kachin People

Thousands of refugees have massed along the Chinese border to escape violence, but Beijing will not accept them. No international agency is able to get aid to them, as they live on two bowls of rice a day. Military junta responsible for repeated violations of human rights.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — The crisis in relations between the Burmese military junta and ethnic Kachin, simmering for years, has recently reached a new peak of intensity. AsiaNews has interviewed Zau Raw, of the Kachin Refugee Committee, on violations committed against civilians in the region. “Burmese soldiers in civilian clothes — says Zau Raw — rob and assault the Kachin, in Kachin State since 9 June 2011. The soldiers in the area concerned do what they want, and there are no effective or appropriate punishments by the higher authorities. “

What is the situation of violations to the civilian population?

I can say that there are many cases of abuse, torture, rape and use of civilian forced labor which remain unknown. Their number is greater than those released by the Burmese news agencies in exile. In recent weeks, 18 women and girls were gang raped by Burmese soldiers, four of them were killed after the rape. The soldiers killed three girls and raped a woman in front of her husband, who then was forced to follow them and work for them.

How many refugees and displaced are there?

There are now more than ten thousand war refugees, although according to some there are actually more than 20 thousand, who since June 9 fled towards the Chinese border, from the Kachin Independence Army-controlled areas (Kia), but are not allowed to cross the border. The refugees live with a little help from Kia, two bowls of rice a day, but no international organization can reach them. They fled in fear of violence and torture, especially in remote areas. Which is not to say that the Kachin people living in cities are safe: they can be arrested and accused of conniving with the Kia at any time. So most of Kachin have fled to areas controlled by Kia.

Is this violence war-related?

The Kachin people, has suffered decades of violence and abuses such as forced labor, land confiscation, torture, rapes and slavery. The Kia was formed in 1961 because of lack of rights in which the Kachin people lived. Forced labor is a normal thing in our lives, imposed by the Burmese military junta. I myself have suffered as a child, until he fled to India.

What is the situation of refugees?

China does not accept refugees, and India is difficult to enter, since the end of the Second World War the two governments, India and Burma, have not opened the border crossing in Danai ‘Arunachanal Pradesh. So most of the refugees take refuge in the jungle. After the ceasefire of 1994, many began to flee to Malaysia, India and Thailand. But even after that agreement, the military has continued to oppress the people of Kachin. In Malaysia, there are more than 5 thousand refugees. In Thailand they are very numerous, but we have no precise information. In India the conditions of life are not simple, and it is difficult to find work. For this we ask to be allowed to reach other countries: Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

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

India: A Billion Dollars to Clean Up a Filthy Ganges

The river worshipped by Hindus and vital to India is now an open sewer, full of faecal bacteria, unfit for bathing or farming. Now the World Bank will fund a restoration project, but experts express doubts about its success.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) — India is set to receive a US$ 1 billion loan from the World Bank to fund ‘Mission Clean Ganga’, a project that aims at halting the discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluents into the Ganga (Ganges) River by 2020. Although sacred to Hindus and vital to the country’s population and economy, the river is one of the most polluted streams in the world, with 12 billion litres of industrial and urban effluents released every day into its waters and those of its tributaries.

The 2,500-kilometre-long Ganges is a key resource for India, supplying drinking water to a quarter of its 1.2 billion people who live in cities and villages along its banks. It begins in the Gangotri glacier in the Himalayas in India’s Uttarakhand state. It leaves the mountains at Rishikesh and hits the plains at Haridwar, then flows east through the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal before entering Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, where it is known as the Padma River, it is joined by the Brahmaputra; the two then go on to form the world’s largest delta before emptying their waters into the Bay of Bengal.

The river is sacred for Hindus. Bathing in it is seen as essential to wash away one’s sins and bring about one’s regeneration. Each year, thousands of Hindus are cremated on its banks, their ashes immersed in its waters.

However, the river also takes in urban and industrial waste. In some places, it is a basin for faecal bacteria; in others, it is an open sewer, dangerous to human health, unfit for human or farming use.

Upstream of Varanasi, a temple town on the riverbanks, the faecal coliform count is 60,000 per 100 ml; downstream the figure rises to 1.5 million. A faecal coliform count exceeding 50 per 100 ml and 500 per 100 ml is considered unsafe for drinking and bathing respectively.

Many factories are located along the river, including tanneries In Kanpur, which discharge chemical and heavy metals like chromium into the river.

The river is also polluted upstream. Nearly 89 million litres of sewage is spewed daily into the river from 12 small towns in the Himalayas. At Haridwar, the faecal coliform count exceeds 5,500.

Faecal coliform bacteria can lead to typhoid, dysentery, cholera, viral and bacterial gastroenteritis. Contents of industrial effluents are carcinogenic and are known to cause kidney and liver problems.

For centuries, Hindus have immersed themselves in the Ganges, believing in its purifying qualities. Indeed, scientific studies have found that its waters have unique anti-bacterial properties, a kind of self-purifying quality that gives the water oxygen levels 25 times higher than any other river in the world.

However, large-scale dam building in the upper reaches of the river is undermining its capacity to rejuvenate itself. When forced to pass through tunnels, where there is no oxygen and sunlight, the river loses its capacity for self-purification.

In February 2009, the Indian government established the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). Headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the agency brings together several stakeholders, including federal ministries and local states, in order to find ways to reduce pollution and save the river. So far however, it has had little success.

Now the World Bank wants to finance a clean up to the tune of a billion dollars. New Delhi will provide another 500 million. Still many remain sceptical, believing that more money is needed.

In 1985, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi launched the US$ 226 million Ganga Action Plan (GAP) to little avail since pollution has gotten worse.

For noted environmentalist G D Agarwal, “It is not possible to clean Ganga without fixing accountability.”

Shripad Dharmadhikary, coordinator of the Manthan Adhyanan Kendra, a centre that researches and monitors water and energy issues, noted that most of the pollution comes from cities and that most problems are due to “the lack of accountability in regulatory and administrative agencies and the absence of political will in the government and administration”.

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

India: Uttar Pradesh: 5 Pentecostal Pastors and Faithful Arrested on False Charges

A group led by the Hindu extremist leaders raids a peaceful prayer meeting of Pentecostals. The police intervene and arrest the pastors on charges of forced conversions. In the populous state violence against Christians is on the rise.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) — Police have arrested three pastors of a Pentecostal group, the Gospel Messengers Team (GMT) and the couple who hosted them: the episode occurred on July 13 in Bighapur, Unna district in Uttar Pradesh, on false charges of having tried to convert people of other religions, even by force.

On the morning of July 13 about 150 faithful gathered at the house of Om Prakash for the regular weekly prayer, led by pastors AB Singh, Ganga Prasad and Robert of GMT.

At about 11, about 75 people led by Himesh Dixit, Subhash Bajpai and Chinh Patel, known leaders of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), raided the meeting and threatened all those present. They falsely charged the pastors of having forcibly converted people to Christianity and of paying those present to attend. They were warned not to continue their ministry in the city.

After a short time the police arrived, taking away Prakkash Om, his wife and 3 pastors, accusing them of forced conversions and other crimes.

Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council for Indian Christians (GCIC), speaking to AsiaNews has expressed “concern about the situation, law and order is deteriorating, the minority Christian community is facing the wrath of fanatical extremists, both the police themselves. These are symptoms of a [state] failure. “

Il Gcic ha subito fornito assistenza legale agli arrestati, mentre centinaia di sostenitori si sono recati alla stazione di polizia per proclamarne l’innocenza. La polizia ha promesso il rilascio degli arrestati entro la stessa sera.

The GCIC has provided legal assistance to arrested, while hundreds of supporters went to the police station to proclaim their innocence. The police promised the release of those arrested later the same evening.

“This — Sajan continues — is the 2nd attack in Uttar Pradesh [against Christians] in July, after the July 3 in Mainpuri where the Pentecostal pastor John C.V. Samuel, of the Assembly of God Church, received the false accusation of making a forced conversion and was beaten just because he took part in the funeral service of Christian Anil Safena who had committed suicide [see AsiaNews 11.7.2001, Andhra Pradesh, Pentecostal pastor stabbed. GCIC: The state is “complicit”] . Samuel has also been accused of having caused the death of Anil and was badly beaten, as well as his wife. Only the intervention of the police prevented more serious injuries. Dalit Chief Minister [Uttar Pradesh] can not protect minorities and this cowardly violence also affects the wives of pastors. “

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

Kathmandu: For the First Time Christians Included in Nepalese Census

The operation, started yesterday by President Ram Baran Yadav, will also apply to non-Hindus. The declaration of secular state (2006), the Himalayan republic grants more recognition to religious minorities. Appeal of Christian leaders to declare religious faith without fear.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) — The Nepalese government has started the national census of population. And for the first time in the history of the country, the count — started June 17 — will also cover the faithful who do not profess the Hindu religion. Since the declaration of state secularism, enshrined in 2006, and 10 years after the last statistical survey, the Himalayan republic has gradually given greater recognition to religious minorities, including Christians, for their efforts for the welfare and development of nation.

In the past, all censuses were based only on Hindus. The decision to involve religious minorities, including Christians, has been welcomed by the rector of the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu, who calls the faithful to feel free to declare their Catholic faith.

In Nepal, there is still no exact estimate of the religion professed by the people. The Hindus claim to be about 80% of the population, Buddhists 18%, Muslims about 10%, Christians around 5% and so on, resulting in clearly erroneous data. However, the strong migration and the many cases of conversion have reduced the large percentage of Hindus in the country.

For the Protestant Bishop Narayan Sharma the opportunity to declare, without hesitation, their faith in Christ is a “positive step” and he calls on the Government to ensure a true “secular state”. Praise also come from Uttam Narrayan Malla, director general of the Central Bureau of Statistics, for which it is “important” to provide information about religion.

Nepali President Ram Baran Yadav inaugurated the census operations, providing information about his family, and inviting the public to provide truthful statements that will be used in future by professors, researchers and experts from various fields. The data collection will be completed by June 27, thanks to the work of about 8 thousand people across the country.

In 2001 in Nepal, there were 23.2 million people, the growth rate is around 5.25%.

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

Far East

Japan to Mine Rare Earths in Pacific Ocean

Geologists estimate the seabed might hold 100 billion tonnes, almost as much as surface deposits. Tokyo can thus break China’s monopoly, which caused prices to skyrocket in the past year. However, mining underwater might cause serious damages to the ocean.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Japan today announced the discovery of vast rare earths deposits on the floor of the Pacific Ocean that can be readily extracted. This should strip China of its monopoly. In recent months, Beijing had cut back on sales, pushing prices up. However, the discovery is raising concerns over possible sea pollution.

“The deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths. Just one square kilometre (0.4 square mile) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption,” said Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo, whose team, which includes researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, made the find.

Details of the discovery were published on Monday in the online version of British journal Nature Geoscience.

The minerals were found at depths of 3,500 to 6,000 metres (11,500-20,000 ft) below the ocean surface at 78 locations in international waters in an area stretching east and west of Hawaii, as well as east of Tahiti in French Polynesia.

The level of uranium and thorium was found to be one-fifth of those in deposits on land.

The rare earths contained in the deposits amounted to 80 to 100 billion tonnes, compared to global reserves currently to be just 110 million tonnes, found mainly in China, Russia and other former Soviet countries, and the United States.

Rare earths are 17 elements that essential for high tech industries making electronics, magnets and batteries.

For decades, China was the main supplier, selling rare earths at cheap prices, meeting about 97 per cent of world demand.

However, Beijing last year announced its intention to cut back on production drastically and progressively to preserve the resource for domestic and future needs.

This has dramatically pushed up prices since it will take time for other producers to respond to demand, especially in areas where production had been abandoned because of Chinese competition.

Japan, which accounts for a third of global demand of these metals, has had supply problems ever since in obtaining gadolinium, lutetium, terbium and dysprosium.

The cost of dysprosium oxide, which is used in magnets, lasers and nuclear reactors, has risen to about US$ 1,470 a kilogram from US$ 700 to US$ 740 at the start of the month. The price for terbium oxide, used in hybrid cars and sonar systems, has risen from around US$ 1,350 to 3,000 in three weeks since early June.

Japan’s imports of rare earths from China fell 3 per cent in May from April, the first month-on-month drop in three months.

Yin Jianhua, analyst at state-owned consultancy Antaike, said China’s biggest producer of rare earths sold only 1,000 tonnes of rare earth oxides in the first quarter of this year, compared with an annual output of more than 50,000 tonnes.

It is unclear how quickly new producers can supply the market, but the new race has raised environmental fears. Residues dumped back into the sea can negatively affect the seabed.

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

Australia — Pacific

Australian Government Launches $12 Million Carbon Tax Propaganda Blitz

The Age reports today that the Australian government is preparing to launch TV ads that will likely frame carbon taxes as a means of “wealth creation.” This PR campaign comes at a time when Australian’s support of carbon taxes is at an all time low.

The ad campaign is set to start this weekend. As The Age reports, “The television campaign is expected to run for four to five weeks and will be combined with print advertising.” Also revealed in the report is the fact that Google is helping the Australian government data-mine the internet for information on voter opinion.

Just how the Australian government will convince their constituents that carbon taxes will help create wealth remains to be seen. The Age’s headline “Carbon tax ads to hit TV amid public confusion” conveys the government’s position that the poor ignorant peasants need to be reminded that government clearly knows best.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Bishop Mazzolari Has Died in Southern Sudan

(AGI) Vatican City — Monsignor Cesare Mazzolari, the missionary bishop responsible for saving child soldiers, has died. Msgr Mazzolari, who also bought slaves in order to set them free, died this morning in Rumbek, his diocese in the new Southern Sudan, which proclaimed its independence earlier this week. He was able to celebrate the country’s new-found independence.

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


NATO Transfers Rescued Migrants to Tunisia

According to information provided by the Spanish Ministry of Defence, the Spanish frigate Almirante Juan de Borbón sailed to Tunisia earlier this morning (16 July) and, while remaining outside Tunisian waters near Zarzis, transferred the remaining 106 rescued migrants to the Carthage, a Tunisian naval vessel. 114 migrants were initially rescued by the Spanish ship. 5 of the migrants were airlifted to Malta for medical reasons on 13 July. On 11 July, shortly after the initial rescue of the migrant boat, 3 migrants were evacuated and turned over to Tunisian authorities. The original 114 consisted of 88 men, 20 women (5 of whom are pregnant), and 6 children. The Defence Ministry said that the decision to transfer the migrants to Tunisian authorities was a NATO decision.

While the decision to disembark the migrants in Tunisia is better than sending them to eastern Libya (something I was fearful would occur), Tunisia is problematic for several reasons. The migrant boat was reportedly carrying Tunisians. To the extent that any of them may have had claims for international protection, the claims have been effectively eliminated. It is not known whether any efforts were made to assess whether any of the Tunisians had claims for international protection. And to the extent that any of the non-Tunisians have claims for international protection, Tunisia is clearly less able to handle such claims and less able to provide care for asylum seekers relative to Malta, Italy, or Spain (or any of the NATO countries participating in Operation Unified Protector).

[links to related articles at web site]

           — Hat tip: AC [Return to headlines]

Sailboat Offloands Human Cargo of 52 Migrants in Calabria

(AGI) Reggio Calabria — A total of 52 migrants landed on Calabria’s Riace coast onboard a sailboat. The party of 52 were identified as mostly Afghan nationals, along with Iranians and Syrians. Twenty were children, fifteen were women. Their health condition is described as good. The vessel was taken into the port of Roccella Ionica.

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

Culture Wars

Sex, Lies and Government Schools

“The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” — Abraham Lincoln

It is no secret that government schools across the United States have become indoctrination centers for the spreading of a social gospel that is anathema to the values of the majority of American parents. Public education is largely run by union bosses and liberal school boards protecting incompetent educrats who push an agenda that has nothing to do with teaching children how to think and everything to do with teaching them what to think. Hitler, Stalin and Mao would be proud.

You may be surprised to learn that this disease of so-called progressive education has spread far beyond the borders of blue states and big cities, and is now infecting even the most conservative areas of the country. Thanks to 21st century communications combined with a desire to be considered tolerant, diverse and multi-cultural, and facilitated by a dictatorial federal Department of Education, local school boards across the fruited plain are joyfully leaping into the propaganda business in direct defiance of the will of the people they purport to serve. In fact, this clash of standards has been brought to the heartland in one of the reddest of our red states.

In Nebraska, the board of education of the Omaha Public School district has taken another brazen leap toward brainwashing the thousands of children they hold captive. Using $130,000 of Obama stimulus money, this board has voted to buy 8,000 copies of a book called “The Cultural Proficiency Journey: Moving Beyond Ethical Barriers Toward Profound School Change.”

Three former teachers, Randall B. Lindsey, Franklin Campbell-Jones and his wife, Brenda Campbell-Jones, wrote this propaganda manual; and thanks to the Obama administration, every Omaha public school teacher, administrator and staff member — even custodians! — will get a copy. At $16.25 each. Paid for with your tax dollars.

The authors of the book claim that their intent is “to prepare educators to unshackle themselves from tradition and become facilitators for reconciliation of historical injustices.”

What exactly does that mean? Well, here are a few excerpts from their manual:

  • “The government and social institutions in the United States have created advantages that disproportionately channel wealth, power and resources to white people.”
  • “Colorblindness will not end racism. Pretending race doesn’t exist is not the same as creating equality.”
  • “It is common for teachers to proclaim they do not see color in children. What this communicates to children of color is that their experience, in a racialized society, is to be discounted.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]