News Feed 20120425

Financial Crisis
» Britain Slides Back Into Recession
» EU-17: Spanish and Greek Manpower Cost Below Average
» Eurozone Crisis: The People Have Become a Nuisance
» IMF Urges Further Spain Bank Reforms
» Italy: Angeletti: The Government is Getting Bogged, Unable to Move
» Italy: Milan Stock Exchange Gains Almost 3%
» Moody’s Warns the Netherlands on it Credit Rating
» S&P Downgrades Argentina’s Outlook After YPF Deal
» Spain: Minister: Q1 Deficit Targets Met
» Spain’s Economy Plunges Into Recession: Central Bank
» “Mythological Beast of a Virus” Found in Californian Hot Spring
» George Zimmerman: Prelude to a Shooting
» Is America Embracing the 10 Tenets of the Communist Manifesto?
» New Private Space Plane Aims to Pick Up Where NASA’s Shuttles Left Off
» Pentagon Halts Class Teaching Anti-Islam Material
» Stakelbeck on Terror Show: Biological Terrorism Next Big Threat?
» The Bait and Switch That the Left Would Like for You to Follow
» The Sea Change: Obama’s Confirmed Forgeries Are Not Going Away
» Video: Allen West: Political Correctness Affecting Security
» Your Computer and Solar Flares
Europe and the EU
» Anders Breivik’s World: How Sick is Norway’s Mass Murderer?
» Backers of EU Treaty ‘Thatcherite’ — Adams
» Bossi Denies Northern League Took Money From Finmeccanica
» Dutch Queen Asks Prime Minister to Dissolve Parliament
» Everyday Goods and Services Attract Finns to Estonia
» Finnish Minister Proposes Visa-Free Travel to Russia
» France: Brussels: Investigation Into Aid at Nimes Airport
» Franceschi: French Doctor Investigated for Murder
» France: 64% of Sarkozy’s Voters Would Ally With Le Pen
» France 2012: Marine Le Pen Seduces Jewish Community
» Germany Seeking Agreement With Italy for Growth Plan
» Germany: Jews Welcome First Post-War ‘Mein Kampf’
» Germany: Parallel Societies, Parallel Justice
» Hollande: I’ll Give Foreigners the Vote
» Italy: Inspectors to Open Mobster De Pedis’ Tomb
» Italy: Rom Protest Blocks Highway
» Italy Slips to 23rd in OECD Wage Rankings
» Mind-Controlled Robot Unveiled in Switzerland
» Moroccan Muslim Brotherhood PM Refuses to Talk With Female Belgian Minister
» Muslims in Europe Face Discrimination, Amnesty
» Norway: Breivik Slams Experts for Insanity ‘Fabrications’
» Spain Busts Iran-Britain People-Trafficking Gang
» Sweden: Radio Host Axed for Likening Serbs to Breivik
» Swiss Woman Starved After ‘Eating’ Only Light
» Swiss Folk Hero William Tell Gets Own Musical
» UK: Hooded Mob Blatantly ‘Fired at Police Helicopter After Luring Officers to Scene by Firebombing Pub’
» UK: Pregnant Woman ‘Was Smothered to Death by Family Before They Claimed She Was Killed by an Evil Spirit’Nalia Mumtaz, 21, Was Found Lying Lifeless on a Bed at the Family Home
» Van Rompuy: ‘Winds of Populism’ Threaten Free Movement
North Africa
» Algeria: Students Stabbed, Others Block City Streets
» Egypt: Saudis Arrest Activist, Protests in Cairo
» Libya Puts a Bans on Religious Parties and Foreign Funds
Israel and the Palestinians
» Netanyahu Legalises Outposts, PNA Wants Sanctions
» Road Map for Palestinian Economic Independence
Middle East
» Traitors: American Professors Go to Tehran to Help Mad Mullahs
» Turkish Oil Firm to Start Drilling in North Cyprus
» Turks Invested Abroad 25 Bln USD in 10 Years, Report
» ENI Inks Deal With Russia’s Rosneft
» Moscow’s Islamic Clerics Reject Creation of Shari’a Courts
» Moscow Announces Massive Metro Building Plan
» Putin Invites Italian PM to Next St Petersburg Forum
South Asia
» India: Gujarat: Forced to Abort by Her Husband Six Times, They Were All Female Fetuses
» Indonesia: ‘Two Politicians’ Sex Tape Circulated Online
» Italy Compensates Families of Dead Indian Fishermen
» Myanmar Seeks Partnership With Italy, Terzi Says
Far East
» N. Koreans Arrive in South From Russia: Reports
Sub-Saharan Africa
» South Africa: Video Gang-Rape Trial Set to Begin
Latin America
» Bones of Early American Disappear From Underwater Cave
» 78 Somali Migrants Land at Linosa
» Almost 6% of Dutch Couples Are Mixed Nationality
» Immigration Debate in Switzerland: Politician Sparks Uproar With Call to Limit German Workers
» NATO: No Images, No Responsibility
» Spain: Half-a-Million Illegal Migrants Stand to Lose Health Coverage
» Supreme Court Skeptical of Striking Down Arizona Immigration Law
» Work in Germany — A Nightmare for Bulgarians
Culture Wars
» Catholic Schools Face ‘Indoctrination’ Claims Over Gay Marriage
» Does Rain Come From Life in the Clouds?
» Organic Farming is Rarely Enough
» Superstars of Botany: Rare Specimens
» The United Nation’s Useless Genocide Trials

Financial Crisis

Britain Slides Back Into Recession

Britain was back in recession Wednesday after its economy shrank in the first quarter while Prime Minister David Cameron said the country was being buffetted by the European downturn.

Gross domestic product fell 0.2 percent between January and March, after a 0.3-percent drop in the fourth quarter of 2011, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

That technically placed Britain in recession, which is defined as two successive quarters of contraction, amid a broader downturn that appears to be taking hold across Europe and notably in members of the eurozone.

“We are in a difficult economic situation in Britain,” Cameron said in reaction to the data, adding that he stood by government spending cuts despite worries that they undermined growth.

“Just as you see now recessions in Denmark, in Holland, in Italy, in Spain, that is what is happening in the continent that we trade with. What is absolutely essential is we take every step we can to help our economy out of recession,” Cameron told parliament.

Britain, which is not a member of the eurozone, clawed its way out of a record-length recession in the third quarter of 2009 caused by the global financial crisis.

“A second quarter of falling GDP combined with the likelihood of a weak current quarter means we are firmly in double-dip (recession) territory for the first time since the 1970s,” said Deutsche Bank economist George Buckley.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

EU-17: Spanish and Greek Manpower Cost Below Average

Eurozone 2011 hourly cost at EUR 27.60

(ANSA) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 24 — Spanish and Greek manpower are among those costing the least in the eurozone. This was confirmed by the latest Eurostat data, which show that the average hourly compensation costs in 2011 in the EU-17 were at 27.6 euros, compared with 20.6 in Spain in the same year and 17.5 euros in Greece in 2010. Among EU countries in the Mediterranean, in top place is France at 34.2 euros per house, while Italy is at 26.8. Following are cheaper costs in Cyprus (16.5 euros), Slovenia (14.4), Portugal (12.1) and Malta (11.9). In the EU-17, the highest point was seen in Belgium (39.3 euros per hour), while in Germany an hour of manpower was paid at 30.1 euros and in Ireland 27.4. Looking at the average in the EU-27, the hourly labour costs dropped to 23.1 euros, with countries like Bulgaria (3.5), Romania (4.2 in 2010), Lithuania (5.5) and Latvia (5.9) seeing wages not even a fifth of what is seen in Belgium, Sweden and Denmark.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Eurozone Crisis: The People Have Become a Nuisance

A spectre is stalking the financial markets: what if the army of unemployed and poor no longer rubber-stamp the policies of the powerful? No wonder neither politicians nor business leaders want to risk too much democracy.

Stephan Kaufmann

The euro crisis is dormant; the trillion loan from the European Central Bank has calmed the waters. A new threat to the financial markets, though, has been spotted: democracy. “The French and Greek elections as well as the referendum in Ireland are sparking concerns among investors, businesses and consumers,” says Elga Bartsch of the U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley.

The euro countries are asking for huge sacrifices from their people. To bolster financial markets’ confidence in their creditworthiness they are laying off hundreds of thousands of state employees, increasing taxes, slashing state funding and rolling back pensions.

And to increase the states’ international competitiveness, wages are being forced down, job security weakened, and the power of unions eroded away. What’s more, rising numbers of people are losing their jobs. In countries such as Greece and Spain, half of all young workers have in the meantime joined the unemployment lines.

“The biggest risk for Europe right now is probably less a rise in interest rates on government bonds and more a political and social crisis due to the spectacular rise in joblessness,” believes Patrick Artus, an economist at the French bank Natixis.

At regular intervals, as required by the rules of democracy, the victims of the crises can vote in elections on the actions to be taken — and to refuse them. That this might happen is creating uncertainty in the markets. In recent months, therefore, politicians have done much to neutralise the will of the electorate. In Greece in November a referendum on the austerity measures was obstructed by the German and French politicians, who openly threatened Greece with its exclusion from the eurozone should the Greeks have voted against the measures.

Cut back on the tempo of austerity

In Greece and Italy the crisis forced elected leaders out of office. Into their chairs moved “technocratic” politicians who had not been elected and therefore did not depend on the will of the voters.

“The policy during the crisis resembles a permanent coup d’etat,” criticises literature professor Joseph Vogl. Informal circles of bankers, politicians and central bankers are increasingly setting those policies. “Financial Soviets,” as Vogel puts it, are making the decisions.

Yet the people are still being asked to vote — in Ireland, for example, where at the end of May they will vote on whether to join the Fiscal Pact. The Irish, however, are not being offered a lot of leeway. The country depends on funds from the euro bailout packages — and that money will only come through if Ireland signs up to the pact.

In early May the Greeks will vote in a new parliament. To immunise the austerity programme against the will of the electorate, the likely winners — the parties Pasok and New Democracy — were forced beforehand to commit themselves to continuing the reform course. The problem, however, is that the small opposition parties are getting stronger, and this is creating anxiety among investors, who want to avoid political controversy.

On Sunday the first round of the French presidential elections finally took place, and saw the socialist Francois Hollande emerge with a small lead over the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy. Hollande wants to tax the rich more heavily, cut back on the tempo of austerity, and renegotiate the Fiscal Pact. The markets are already handing him the bill, and in a bond auction on Thursday France was forced to pay higher interest rates.

Freedom of markets vs freedom of democracy

Sarkozy for his part has sworn to keep the French on the path to reform. That means sacrifices for the people, but without reforms, Sarkozy warns, France risks “turning into Greece or Spain.” There is simply no alternative. Put in plain English, the French can indeed vote, but they have nothing to choose from.

“The talk about alternatives is a form of speech and thought control,” criticises the business ethicist Ulrich Thielemann. “If you can no longer talk about alternatives, it’s the end of democracy.” Formally, the vote will indeed then be taken. “But people are no longer to choose anything, just to rubber-stamp the fixed policy. That’s democracy as a statement of approval.”

The electorate is currently being disempowered by the markets, which come up with the credit needed — or refuse to give it. “It’s loss of sovereignty,” says Thielemann. Politicians bow down before the markets as before a force of nature. At the same time, “that capital they have to beg for so desperately today they could have also gotten simply by confiscating it: through taxes.”

The freedom of the markets runs counter to the freedom of democracy, Thielemann believes. “If the purpose of a state is only to become more competitive, then the central question of democracy is forbidden: how do we want to live?”

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

IMF Urges Further Spain Bank Reforms

The International Monetary Fund Wednesday urged Spain to push further ahead with banking reforms aimed at stabilising its troubled financial sector. IMF inspectors concluded Spain needs “to continue with and further deepen the financial sector reform strategy to address remaining vulnerabilities and build strong capital buffers in the sector,” it said in a report.

The conservative government that came to power in December has continued a clean-up of the banking sector prompted by the 2008 financial crisis, forcing banks to increase the amount of funds they have to cushion them in case of problems. The IMF acknowledged Spain’s efforts but warned it needs to urgently clean up some banks that are still financially weak.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Angeletti: The Government is Getting Bogged, Unable to Move

(AGI) Rome — The Government is “gradually getting bogged down, unable to move and take serious and incisive actions”. The statement was made by UIL Secretary General Luigi Angeletti on the microphones of the ‘La Telefonata’ broadcast by Canale 5.

“Lip-service increases as facts decrease — Angeletti emphasized — the only serious thing to be done is to cut taxes on the basis of the revenue from fighting tax evasion or from the cuts to public spending, starting with the spending for political parties”. “The only road to growth is by cutting taxes; with this level of taxes in Italy, the only thing that can grow is unemployment”, added the UIL leader.

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

Italy: Milan Stock Exchange Gains Almost 3%

Bond spread down eight points

(ANSA) — Milan, April 25 — The Milan stock exchange regained some lost ground in a positive day of trading on Wednesday, when the FTSE Mib index closed almost 3% higher than the previous day.

Italian stocks have suffered some big losses this month amid fears the eurozone debt crisis could be on the way back to its worse. The FTSE Mib dropped below the 14,000-point mark to 13,849 on Monday after European markets responded badly to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande coming out on top in the first round of the French presidential elections and the resignation of Dutch Premier Mark Rutte over budget cuts.

But it had climbed back up to 14,606 points by the end of trading on Wednesday, up 2.91% on Tuesday, after the release of positive data by several companies eased international investors’ nerves.

The yield spread between 10-year Italian bonds and the German benchmark, a key indicator of market confidence, dropped to 389.8 points, after closing at 397.7 on Tuesday, with a yield of 5.64%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Moody’s Warns the Netherlands on it Credit Rating

The fall of the government and the failure to agree an austerity programme can have a negative affect on the Netherlands’ credit rating, credit ratings agency Moody’s said on Tuesday morning.

‘Despite its tradition of budgetary discipline, this development creates uncertainty about the future direction of the country,’ Moody’s said in its report, according to press coverage.

If the Netherlands does not get a grip on its budget, this will create pressure on its triple-A credit rating, the agency warns. Failure could also have a negative effect on the rest of the eurozone and hinder the introduction of stricter budgetary rules.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

S&P Downgrades Argentina’s Outlook After YPF Deal

Standard & Poor’s on Monday downgraded its credit rating outlook for Argentina from stable to negative, after Buenos Aires seized control of the country’s largest oil company YPF. “In our view, the recent government policies could increase risks to Argentina’s macroeconomic framework, squeeze its external liquidity, and hinder medium-term growth prospects,” the ratings agency said in a statement.

Spain and the European Union have warned that the move by Buenos Aires would damage relations, and others have voiced concerns of a chilling effect on capital investment in the region. World Bank head Robert Zoellick also has slammed Argentina’s move.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Spain: Minister: Q1 Deficit Targets Met

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 24 — Spain has already met its deficit-reduction objectives for the first quarter of this year: to bring it down from the 8.5% of GDP in 2011 to 5.3% set for 2012. So confirmed the country’s Finance Minister, Cristobal Montoro, in a reply given to Congress during a budget debate to PSOE leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba. The minister presented an amendment to the overall balance.

Montoro revealed that public debt as registered between January and March was at 0.83% of GDP, in line with the set objectives.

The Minister also blamed the previous government under Jose’ Luis Rodrigo Zapatero of having brought the country into its present difficulties. “They took this country to the 2010 limits. The left us a country whose credibility was in question, and we have to regain this credibility,” the Minister added.

The opposition PSOE party leader had called the 2012 budget forecasts “useless, impoverishing the country, and unjust”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain’s Economy Plunges Into Recession: Central Bank

Spain’s jobs-scarce economy plunged back into recession in the first quarter of 2012 as employment slumped even further, the Bank of Spain said Monday. Barely two years after emerging from the last downturn, Spain slid into recession again with two consecutive quarters of economic contraction, the central bank said in a report.

Gross domestic product fell by an estimated 0.4-percent in the first quarter of 2012 after a 0.3-percent decline in the last three months of 2011, the bank said. Spain, whose unemployment rate at the end of 2011 was already the highest in the industrialised world at 22.85 percent overall and nearly 50 percent for the young, suffered a further jobs slump.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


“Mythological Beast of a Virus” Found in Californian Hot Spring

It’s not often that a scientist will say “mythological beast” with a straight face, but that’s exactly what virologist Ken Stedman told Nature News about a new virus. In a recent paper in Biology Direct, Stedman and his research team describe a genetic sequence that suggests the existence of a DNA-RNA chimera virus.

RNA and DNA viruses, referring to the type of nucleic acid they use to store genetic information, are two very distinct groups-probably more evolutionary distant than a lion and a snake. That’s why researchers were so surprised when they found a DNA virus sequence encoding a protein only ever found in RNA viruses. The sample came from a Lassen Volcanic National Park hotspring, where viruses prey on the bacteria living in the acidic water.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

George Zimmerman: Prelude to a Shooting

SANFORD, Florida (Reuters) — A pit bull named Big Boi began menacing George and Shellie Zimmerman in the fall of 2009.

The first time the dog ran free and cornered Shellie in their gated community in Sanford, Florida, George called the owner to complain. The second time, Big Boi frightened his mother-in-law’s dog. Zimmerman called Seminole County Animal Services and bought pepper spray. The third time he saw the dog on the loose, he called again. An officer came to the house, county records show.

“Don’t use pepper spray,” he told the Zimmermans, according to a friend. “It’ll take two or three seconds to take effect, but a quarter second for the dog to jump you,” he said.

“Get a gun.”

That November, the Zimmermans completed firearms training at a local lodge and received concealed-weapons gun permits. In early December, another source close to them told Reuters, the couple bought a pair of guns. George picked a Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm handgun, a popular, lightweight weapon.

By June 2011, Zimmerman’s attention had shifted from a loose pit bull to a wave of robberies that rattled the community, called the Retreat at Twin Lakes. The homeowners association asked him to launch a neighborhood watch, and Zimmerman would begin to carry the Kel-Tec on his regular, dog-walking patrol — a violation of neighborhood watch guidelines but not a crime.

Few of his closest neighbors knew he carried a gun — until two months ago.

On February 26, George Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in what Zimmerman says was self-defense. The furor that ensued has consumed the country and prompted a re-examination of guns, race and self-defense laws enacted in nearly half the United States.

During the time Zimmerman was in hiding, his detractors defined him as a vigilante who had decided Martin was suspicious merely because he was black. After Zimmerman was finally arrested on a charge of second-degree murder more than six weeks after the shooting, prosecutors portrayed him as a violent and angry man who disregarded authority by pursuing the 17-year-old.

But a more nuanced portrait of Zimmerman has emerged from a Reuters investigation into Zimmerman’s past and a series of incidents in the community in the months preceding the Martin shooting.

Based on extensive interviews with relatives, friends, neighbors, schoolmates and co-workers of Zimmerman in two states, law enforcement officials, and reviews of court documents and police reports, the story sheds new light on the man at the center of one of the most controversial homicide cases in America.

The 28-year-old insurance-fraud investigator comes from a deeply Catholic background and was taught in his early years to do right by those less fortunate. He was raised in a racially integrated household and himself has black roots through an Afro-Peruvian great-grandfather — the father of the maternal grandmother who helped raise him.

A criminal justice student who aspired to become a judge, Zimmerman also concerned himself with the safety of his neighbors after a series of break-ins committed by young African-American men.

Though civil rights demonstrators have argued Zimmerman should not have prejudged Martin, one black neighbor of the Zimmermans said recent history should be taken into account.

“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I’m black, OK?” the woman said, declining to be identified because she anticipated backlash due to her race. She leaned in to look a reporter directly in the eyes. “There were black boys robbing houses in this neighborhood,” she said. “That’s why George was suspicious of Trayvon Martin.”…

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo [Return to headlines]

Is America Embracing the 10 Tenets of the Communist Manifesto?

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the purported founders of communism, established in the 19th century a government paradigm that transformed Europe and other regions in the eastern hemisphere, adding to an already expansive repertoire of political ideologies. And the seemingly farfetched assertion that communism could someday take control of America seems, quite simply, unfathomable. But is it really that improbable, or furthermore, has it already ensnared certain sectors of society?

Writing for The Blaze, Tiffany Gabbay recently produced a thoughtful exposé entitled “Are We Headed Toward the Constitution or the Communist Manifesto?” that breaks down the 10 tenets of Marx and Engels’ infamous 1848 publication and describes how those 10 steps or “planks” to establish communism are slowly being woven into American society.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

New Private Space Plane Aims to Pick Up Where NASA’s Shuttles Left Off

The new spaceship being built by private aerospace firm Sierra Nevada Corp. may look like a miniature space shuttle, but while the design takes cues from the past, company officials are hoping this vehicle shepherds in a new era of commercial human spaceflight.

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser space plane is being developed to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit. The company is aiming to begin full orbital flights in 2016. But the Dream Chaser design, which is reminiscent of NASA’s space shuttle, is actually based on a concept vehicle, called HL-20, which was first looked at by the agency in the early 1980s.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Pentagon Halts Class Teaching Anti-Islam Material

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has suspended a course for military officers that officials say contained inflammatory material about Islam.

Defense Department spokesman Capt. John Kirby said Wednesday that among problems with the course taught at Norfolk, Va., was a presentation that asserted the United States is at war with Islam. Kirby noted that officials across two American administrations have stressed that the U.S. is at war with terrorists who have a distorted view of the religion…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck on Terror Show: Biological Terrorism Next Big Threat?

On this week’s edition of the Stakelbeck on Terror show, we examine the growing threat of biological terrorism on U.S. soil. From Al-Qaeda to Iran to Syria and North Korea, some of America’s greatest enemies have acquired or are working to acquire biological weapons.

Leading national security experts Chet Nagle and Clare Lopez join us to break down what a bioterror attack would look like, how it would affect America and why our leaders are unprepared to deal with this very real threat. Plus, what does the Bible say about it?

Click the link above to watch.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck [Return to headlines]

The Bait and Switch That the Left Would Like for You to Follow

Let’s take a look at Representative Congresswomen Barbra Lee for example. In 1983, when the U.S. Invaded Grenada, one of their government documents the Americans seized detailed an unusual government meeting: “Barbara Lee is here presently and has brought with her a report on the international airport done by [Congressman] Ron Dellums. They have requested that we look at the document and suggest any changes we deem necessary. They will be willing to make changes.”

At the time, now-Congresswoman Barbara Lee was a top aide to her predecessor in office, Rep. Ron Dellums. The document in question was a report written by Rep. Dellums, arguing that Grenada’s airport was being built for benign uses. When Ronald Reagan liberated Granada, we found communist officials from East Germany, Poland, North Korea, Cuba and the Soviet Union. That Was not the only document taken during the invasion and not the only time that Lee was cozy with the Castro government either. Lee visited Cuba again in 1999 and was praised by Castro. She served under her predecessor Ron Dellums who was known for his radical politics and stances.


Just as a spokesperson from the Communist Party U.S.A (CPUSA) pointed out in Politico recently that there are no actual card carrying members in Congress at the moment, that does not mean that there are not those that are not only sympathetic, but also those that are “progressing “ the like agenda.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Sea Change: Obama’s Confirmed Forgeries Are Not Going Away

For several years, an Orwellian-type fear of being “marginalized” held reporters and pundits back from questioning Barack Obama’s eligibility to hold the office of the presidency. To raise an eyebrow at the bizarre secrecy of Obama was off-limits. To question whether the historic definition of “natural born citizen” applied to Obama was taboo.

The era of fear, however, is happily winding down. It will take some time for this realization to fully take hold. But make no mistake: the tables have turned.

Like it or not, the ground has shifted, and it cannot shift back. The evidence of Obama’s forgeries is not going away.

Up until this point, Mr. Obama controlled everything, including the talking points and burden of proof.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Video: Allen West: Political Correctness Affecting Security

Environment of political correctness is preventing agents from doing their jobs to protect America.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Your Computer and Solar Flares

The amount of energy we receive normally from the Sun is almost beyond earthly comprehension. When something happens to greatly increase what we receive, it’s a question as to whether we can deal with it. So it is with the recent increase in electromagnetic solar flares.

Magnitude of the problem

The US has increased power consumption from 1950 to today by ten times, making the problem only worse. Nothing escapes the possible threat. Pipe lines, land lines, undersea cables, telephone networks, railways. Aircraft unable to fly. Without power, transportation is disabled.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Anders Breivik’s World: How Sick is Norway’s Mass Murderer?

Seventy-seven people died in the attacks in Oslo and on the island of Utøya last July. The central question in the trial of the perpetrator, Anders Behring Breivik, is whether or not he is criminally liable. There is much to suggest that he is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Can a delusional person be punished for their crimes?

It is inadmissible to automatically conclude that someone who committed such a vicious crime must be insane. “A normal person doesn’t do something like this,” many are saying. But even so-called normal people have committed the most abominable crimes. Germans should be the first to recognize this.

But Breivik could be mentally ill. The schizophrenic disorders include a paranoid form characterized by delusional ideas, usually accompanied by delusional perceptions and acoustic hallucinations. It can progress in spurts or a person’s condition can deteriorate gradually. Listening to the defendant speaking in the Oslo courtroom, it isn’t difficult to become convinced that this man must have felt driven by a homicidal mania at the time of the massacre.

What other logical reason could there be to set off a 950-kilogram (2,094 pound), homemade car bomb that would indiscriminately rip people to pieces? Or to shoot participants at a Labor Party summer camp in the head — and in the eyes, the mouth, the back and the chest, often multiple times, but mostly in the head, as if Breivik’s aim had not only been to kill the young people on Utøya island, but also to extinguish their thoughts? There is no logical reason. Insanity is the only possible explanation.

Breivik speaks quietly, almost timidly at times. At the beginning of the trial, he occasionally smiles knowingly to himself. But eventually the smiles fade and his face becomes impassive. Referring to Breivik, Berlin forensic scientist Hans-Ludwig Kröber says: “It’s not uncommon for psychotic offenders to conceal or tone down their delusions, because they are certainly conscious of the fact that others think they’re crazy. There are orderly lunatics who get their bread from the baker and lead a quiet life at home, even as they write hundreds of pages detailing their notions of a new world order.” Breivik was one of those people, writing a 1,518-page document, his so-called manifesto, to disseminate his confused ideas.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Backers of EU Treaty ‘Thatcherite’ — Adams

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has portrayed supporters of the EU’s fiscal treaty as Thatcherite and Reaganite right-wingers.

Mr Adams said the choice facing the Irish public in the referendum on May 31st was between austerity and growth.

The Louth Deputy was speaking at the formal launch at the National Gallery of Sinn Féin’s campaign to urge the public to vote No on polling day. A pamphlet entitled Austerity isn’t working was also launched by the party.

Mr Adams asserted that proponents of the treaty were coming from a “a Thatcherite and Reaganite right-wing conservative ideological position.

He contended that if Ireland ratified the treaty, it would see the executive hand over powers “to unelected officials and bureaucrats in the EU Commission and allowing them to run this State, and to police fiscal as well as monetary matters.”

He said that austerity had not worked in Ireland, a point repeated by party deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who said that the national deficit had continued to grow since 2008 despite six austerity budgets.

Mr Adams said that providing a stimulus to create jobs was at the heart of Sinn Féin’s approach. “You cannot cut your way out of recession. This Government is for austerity. There is no jobs stimulus in the Government’s strategy,” he said.

He also dismissed as “complete and absolute rubbish” the arguments of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil that Ireland will not be in a position to access emergency funding if the treaty is rejected.

He claimed that the emergency fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), needed to be given a legal basis in EU treaties. In order to do that, all 27 member states had to ratify it. That is not due to be done until after the referendum.

Mr Adams suggested that Ireland could exercise its veto on the ESM at European Council level.

While a Sinn Féin strategist accepted it would be a difficult course of action to take, it was argued there was “no way” the EU would deny emergency funding to a member state.

Ms McDonald said the new structural deficit ceiling of 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product proposed in the treaty would entail a further €6 billion in savings in addition to the €8.6 billion in cuts required over the next three years.

Asked how Sinn Féin proposed to find funding in the event of a No vote and a second bailout, Mr Adams said that Ireland would get it from the “current sources”, namely the EU, ECB and IMF. He rejected suggestions a No vote would make a second bailout more difficult to achieve.

He said Sinn Féin recognised the deficit had to be reduced and was proposing alternative plans. In the pamphlet, the party has put forward proposals for a radical Europe-wide reverse of current policies. It argues for all member states to put in a “once-off investment” into the European Investment Bank, that would then initiative a EU-wide investment programme. No sum is specified…

           — Hat tip: JLH [Return to headlines]

Bossi Denies Northern League Took Money From Finmeccanica

(AGI) Como — Former Northern League leader Umberto Bossi firmly denies the party ever took money from Finmeccanina. “No, I honestly don’t think so. It cannot be, I never heard about it” he replied when asked by the reporters about the inquiry set up by Naples’ prosecution office. “Mr Giorgetti used to work there and he’s an honest man”, he added, pointing out that the secretary of the party’s Lombard section, Giancarlo Giorgetti, refused money from Gianpiero Fiorani some time ago. “I have no doubts whatsoever — Bossi insisted — if someone tried to corrupt him, he would give the money back”.

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

Dutch Queen Asks Prime Minister to Dissolve Parliament

(AGI) Amsterdam — Two days after accepting the resignation of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands asked him to dissolve parliament so that the country can hold early elections, scheduled for Sept 12, a date already indicated by the prime minister, the government said in a statement. Rutte’s minority liberal government fell two days ago following failed negotiations on austerity measures in the nation’s budget. Considered one of the more stable countries in Europe, the Netherlands have had to face up to the economic crisis in Europe and in the months to come will be uncertain.

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

Everyday Goods and Services Attract Finns to Estonia

Lower price level continues to be the most important reason to visit Finland’s southern neighbour

According to a recent consumer survey commissioned by the Federation of Finnish Commerce, Finns plan to haul home trolley-loads of booze — and other goods besides — from Estonia in the current year, just as before.

Clothes, shoes, and bags are the most popular products imported from Estonia after alcohol and sweets, but increasingly, even food, tobacco, and medicines are being brought home from Estonia. In other words, ordinary everyday items. The same applies to services: in addition to restaurants, cafes, and hotels, Finns increasingly often visit spas and saunas across the Gulf of Finland, as well as hairdressing salons and beauty parlours.

Almost 70 per cent of Finns over the age of 18 living in Southern Finland visited Estonia in the course of the past year. This is a huge number by any standards.

Vendors in Tallinn regard Finns as very price-conscious customers. It is easier to sell to Russians, as their purchases are spontaneous. Both are good customers, but different, the vendors in Tallinn’s tourist centre say. As consumers, the Russians beat the Finns. While Russians snap up what they like spontaneously, and ask the price only later, the Finns count their money very carefully and are much more likely to ask around before they part with their cash. Today, Finns are by far the largest group of tourists in Estonia, but Russians are the fastest-growing group.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Finnish Minister Proposes Visa-Free Travel to Russia

Finland’s economic affairs minister Jyri Häkämies on Tuesday said Finland should introduce a three-day visa-free regime between Helsinki and St. Petersburg, reported Finnish news outlet Yle. “Visa-free travel would attract more Russian tourists-and money-to Finland,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Brussels: Investigation Into Aid at Nimes Airport

Located within 80 km of Marseille, received public money

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 25 — The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether financial arrangements between public authorities and the airport of Nîmes (France), as well as rebates and marketing agreements concluded between this airport and Ryanair, are in line with EU state aid rules.

Nimes (FNI) is a regional airport, with a total traffic of 176,521 passengers in 2010. It is located within 80 km of Marseille airport. The civil part of the airport is owned by the French state, and was operated by the local Chamber of Commerce until December 2006. Afterwards, the operation of the airport was awarded to Veolia Transport. From 2000 to 2006, the Chamber of Commerce benefited from a range of public support measures for its activity as operator of Nimes airport, including subsidies of over 2 million euros and cash advances totalling over 9 million euros. Veolia Transport has also been granted public subsidies as the airport operator since 2007.

At this stage, the Commission considers that these measures, granted by several public entities (including the region, Conseil Général du Gard and local municipalities), may cover ordinary operating expenses of the airport operators and may therefore give them an undue economic advantage which their competitors do not have.

Finally, the Commission will examine the agreements between the airport operators and Ryanair, such as marketing support contracts and discounts on airport charges and will assess whether part of the aid to the airport operators has been passed on to the airline.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Franceschi: French Doctor Investigated for Murder

(AGI)Viareggio- A prison doctor in Grasse (France) and two nurses are the first three suspects in the death of Daniel Franceschi. The 36 year-old worker from Viareggio died in circumstances yet to be clarified on 25 August 2010 while he was in detention on the Cote d’Azur for using stolen credit cards in the casino in Cannes. This was revealed by Aldo Lasagna, the lawyer looking after the interests of the family of Daniel Franceschi.

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

France: 64% of Sarkozy’s Voters Would Ally With Le Pen

(AGI) Paris — At least 64% of French voters who voted for Nicolas Sarkozy would hold their noses and and ally themselves with the extreme right of Marine Le Pen than allow Francois Hollande to win the elections. This applies to the May 6 presidential elections as well as June’s legislative elections.

The same opinion was supported by 59% of those who voted for the Front National, the OpinionWay polling organization reports for the Les Echos financial newspaper. Officially, respecting the historical ‘conventio ad excludendum’ of the del Front National, the leadership of the UMP are conducting negotiating behind the scenes. But to know who will take the votes of the extreme right one will have to wait for May 1, when Marine Le Pen reveals all. Even Hollande is courting, if not openly, the hard right, whom he has called, in many cases, an expression of protest against the government more than support for the right.

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

France 2012: Marine Le Pen Seduces Jewish Community

Anti-Islam and immigration consensus after Toulouse murders

(ANSAmed) — ROME — With her father’s fiercely anti-Semitic rhetoric locked away, Marine has decided to focus her efforts on illegal immigrants and Islamists.

After the slaughter of Toulouse on March 19, when a Frenchman of Algerian origin killed four people, three of them children, in an attack on a Jewish school in the city, Le Pen’s approach convinced one in five French voters and even seduced part of the local Jewish community. Michel Thooris, a former member of national council for French Jewish organisations (CRIF), even chose to stand for Parliament on an FN ticket. “If you are Jewish, it is natural to turn to Marine Le Pen,” he said in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “She fights crime and Islamism, which means that she protects Jews. The National Front has changed, Jews know this”.

However, not everyone sees it this way. Around a year ago, the Jewish community station Radio J was swamped with complaints for inviting the far-right leader to speak to the station, an invitation that was eventually withdrawn. Within the Jewish community, though, some critics spoke out against the boycott. The Union of French Jews (UFJ), an organisation for Jewish supporters of the National Front, was created a few months later.

“Marine Le Pen is the only one who wants to tackle uncontrolled immigration and its disastrous consequences,” the founder of the UFJ, Michel Ciardi, writes on the organisation’s website. “For so-called representatives of France’s Jewish community, Jews who support Le Pen are self-hating Jews, worse than the Jewish police in the ghettos. But if in some areas Jews are afraid to wear the kippah and the violent sermons heard in some French mosques are infused with an anti-Semitism that we thought had disappeared, it is certainly not Marine Le Pen’s fault”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Germany Seeking Agreement With Italy for Growth Plan

ECB governor Draghi calls for ‘pact for growth’

(ANSA) — Berlin, April 25 — The German government said on Wednesday that it is trying to find common ground with Italy on a plan to stimulate growth in Europe.

Last month 25 of the 27 European Union member states signed a so-called fiscal compact setting tighter budget rules to address the fundamental causes of the eurozone debt crisis.

Most economists and heads of government, including Italian Premier Mario Monti, believe Europe must now do more in terms of policies to boost sluggish growth.

“The European (Union) consultant of the German chancellor (Angela Merkel) and his Italian counterpart met this week precisely for an exchange of ideas about how to use the next European Council (summit) in June for growth,” said German government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

Earlier on Wednesday European Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi, who is Italian, called on Europe to agree on a pact for growth and on individual member states to be more ambitious in introducing structural economic reforms to promote it.

Merkel said she agreed with Draghi’s appeal.

“We need growth which, as Mario Draghi said, comes via structural reforms,” Merkel told a news conference.

Seibert also said it was important to obtain “sustainable growth” via reforms, like the liberalisations and labour-market measures the Italian government is pursuing, rather than by greater government spending and debt.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Germany: Jews Welcome First Post-War ‘Mein Kampf’

Germany’s Jewish community on Wednesday welcomed a landmark decision to republish Adolf Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf” for the first time since World War II, in an annotated edition. The southern state of Bavaria, which holds the rights, has not permitted reprints of the vicious anti-Semitic tract and rambling memoir since the Nazi leader’s 1945 suicide.

But it said Tuesday it would release an edition with historians’ commentary as well as a separate version for schools in 2015 before its copyright runs out at the end of that year in order to beat commercial publishers to the punch. The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, called Bavaria’s decision “responsible” and a “good idea.”

“If it is going to be released, then I prefer seeing a competent annotated version from the Bavarian state than profit-seekers trying to make money with Nazis,” he told news agency AFP.

“I would of course prefer it if the book disappeared on a dust heap of contempt but that will not happen,” he added, noting that the text was already widely available to Germans on the internet. The book is not banned as such in Germany but because of Bavaria’s blanket refusal to permit sales of old copies or reprints — even taking potential publishers to court — the decision marks a historic step.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Parallel Societies, Parallel Justice

Systems of parallel justice threaten the rule of German law, say Christian Democrat politicians. At a conference in Berlin, they came together to talk with experts about how widespread Islamic arbitration is.

When conflicts emerge between Muslims in Germany, they may turn to Islamic Sharia courts rather than state authorities. These informal tribunals can get involved when families disagree about, for example, an inheritance or other financial affairs. But the self-appointed arbitrators have also been known to get involved in issues normally dealt with by the police and prosecutors, like assault, threats or theft.

When German authorities uncover evidence of such crimes, they are often met with a wall of silence by those preferring the system of parallel justice. People refuse to give statements, and due to a lack of evidence, no sentence can be reached. Perpetrators go unpunished by the legal system.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Hollande: I’ll Give Foreigners the Vote

Socialist presidential candidate François Hollande said Wednesday that if elected he will next year give foreigners from outside the EU living in France the right to vote in local elections. His rival President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has said there are “too many foreigners in France” and vows to reduce immigration, staunchly opposes giving voting rights to non-European Union foreigners.

Hollande, who is tipped to win the final round of the election on May 6, said in a television interview he planned the reform for next year so that non-EU foreigners would be able to vote in municipal elections in 2014. Nationals from EU countries can already vote in local elections in France.

Hollande, whose campaign programme says foreigners living in France for five years should be allowed to vote, noted that Sarkozy in 2008 said he was “intellectually favourable” to giving non-EU nationals the right to vote. Sarkozy and Hollande are battling for the six million votes that went to the far right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen in the first round of the presidential election.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Inspectors to Open Mobster De Pedis’ Tomb

Magliana boss accused of killing Orlandi 29 years ago

(ANSA) — Rome, April 24 — Rome prosecutors announced Tuesday they will inspect and relocate the tomb of notorious mob boss Enrico ‘Renatino’ De Pedis, linked to the disappearance of the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee almost 30 years ago.

De Pedis, a leader of the Rome-based Magliana mafia who was gunned down in 1990, was quietly buried next to a cardinal’s tomb in the Roman basilica of Saint Apollinaire, to the shock and confusion of many observers at the time.

In 2008 reports were leaked to the press that his girlfriend had allegedly accused the gang boss of killing Emanuela Orlandi, who went missing in 1983.

Anonymous calls to the press over the years have called on inspectors to look inside De Pedis’ coffin to see if Orlandi’s body were inside.

Prosecutors said the tomb would be moved to Rome’s Prima Porta cemetery by the end of May.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Rom Protest Blocks Highway

Demonstrators forced out of camp in Pesaro

(ANSA) — Ancona, April 24 — A caravan of Roma blocked a major highway in Ancona Tuesday to protest being kicked out of a camp in the central Marche region.

Hundreds of Gypsies, who had been ordered to move south from their settlement in Pesaro, used their trailers to block the A14 highway before being removed by police. The Roma were in Ancona, the region’s capital, for registration purposes after being told to leave Pesaro. The city said the they were forced to leave because designated spaces for Roma had exceeded maximum occupancy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Slips to 23rd in OECD Wage Rankings

Down one place, average wage $25,160

(ANSA) — Paris, April 25 — Italy slipped from 22nd to 23rd in the latest wages rankings from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, behind Spain, Ireland and the leading European Union countries, the Paris-based organisation said Wednesday.

The average net wage of a single person without children was $25,160 last year, the OECD said, compared to an average of $27,111 across the 34-member OECD.

Italy fell from 5th to 6th in the tax-to-wage rankings, with the tax burden at 47.6% last year, up from 46.9% in 2010.

The countries with the highest tax burdens were Belgium (55.5%), Germany (49.8%), Hungary and France (both 49.4%) and Austria (48.4%).

Hungary was outside the top five last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mind-Controlled Robot Unveiled in Switzerland

A professor at a Swiss university on Tuesday unveiled a robot that can be controlled by the brainwaves of a paraplegic person wearing an electrode-fitted cap, news agency ATS reported. A paralyzed man at a hospital in the town of Sion demonstrated the device, sending a mental command to a computer in his room, which transmitted it to another computer that moved a small robot 60 kilometres away in Lausanne.

The system was developed by Jose Millan, a professor at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne who specializes in non-invasive interfaces between machines and the brain. The same technology can be used to drive a wheelchair, Millan said. “Once the movement has begun, the brain can relax, otherwise the person would soon be exhausted,” he said.

But the technology has its limits, he added. The brain signals can be scrambled if too many people are gathered around a wheelchair, for example. Besides making paraplegics mobile, neuroprosthetics could be used to help patients recover lost senses, researchers said.

Professor Stephanie Lacour and her team are working on an “electric skin” for amputees, a glove fitted with tiny sensors that would send information directly to the user’s nervous system.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Moroccan Muslim Brotherhood PM Refuses to Talk With Female Belgian Minister

Abdelilah Benkiran does not seem to conceive that a foreign government could send a female representative to talk with him. During the whole meeting he talked strictly with Belgian minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders and refused to speak with the Belgian minister of Justice…

English translation by Point de Bascule


Rabat (Morocco) — April 11, 2012

On that day the Moroccan Prime minister, Abdelilah Benkiran, received in audience Didier Reynders, Belgian minister of Foreign Affairs and Annemie Turtelboom, minister of Justice. Both Belgians got a cold reception.

Abdelilah Benkiran does not seem to conceive that a foreign government could send a female representative to talk with him. During the whole meeting, he talked strictly with Didier Reynders. Worse, the Moroccan PM explained to his visitor that he speaks French very well and that it was “useless to bring an interpreter with him”. The message is clear: I do not speak with a woman. Annemie Turtelboom could not believe it. All the dossiers she is responsible of (and they are not light ones: equality between men and women, forced marriages, return of convicted prisoners in their home country) were eventually tackled by Didier Reynders. Facing them, the Moroccan held to his prayer beads during the whole meeting.

After the meeting, Annemie Turtelboom was furious. If Didier Reynders had not been there and if she had not feared to provoke a major diplomatic incident, she would have left and slammed the door, she said.

The anecdote is significant. Abdelilah Benkiran is a member of the Justice and Development Party, the Islamist party that won the last elections. In the last few days, he even criticized the Moroccan king, Mohammed VI, something never seen before. “The Arab Spring is not over yet. It is still here and could well come back”, he said according to Reuters…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Muslims in Europe Face Discrimination, Amnesty

France and Spain accused, impact on employment rate

(ANSAmed) — ROME — European states must do more to combat negative stereotypes and prejudices against Muslims, especially in education and employment. This is what Amnesty International urges European states to do in its latest report on discrimination against Muslims in Europe. The report mainly focuses on Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain, here with specific reference to the “war of Mosques” in Catalonia.

“Muslim women are being denied jobs and girls prevented from attending regular classes just because they wear traditional forms of dress, such as the headscarf”, Amnesty expert Marco Perolini pointed out, “while men lose their job because they wear a beard, which is associated to Islam”. Moreover, “instead of combating these prejudices, way too often political parties and public officials indulge them, in order to gain the general public’s approval.” The report illustrates the negative impact of discrimination on several aspects of Muslims’ life, including employment and education. “While everyone has the right to express one’s culture, tradition or faith by wearing a specific dress”, Perolini continues, “no one should be pressured or forced to do so. General bans on specific clothing items infringe the rights of those who freely choose to dress in a certain way and do not help those who are forced to do so in any way”.

Amnesty’s report highlights the fact that laws banning discrimination in employment have not been appropriately implemented in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Employers have been allowed to discriminate on the grounds that religious or cultural symbols will jar with clients or colleagues or that a clash exists with a company’s corporate image or “neutrality”.

As Amnesty points out, this directly conflicts with EU anti-discrimination laws which allow people to be treated differently at work only if the nature of the job specifically requires it. This contributes to higher unemployment rates among the Muslim, especially Muslim women of foreign descent.

As for the ban on wearing headscarves in schools enforced by several countries such as Spain, France, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands is concerned, according to Amnesty’s expert any restriction must be based on assessment of the needs in each individual case. “General bans risk compromising Muslim girls’ access to education and violating their rights to freedom of expression and manifesting their beliefs”, Perolini points out.

The report also focuses on the right to establish places of worship, which is challenged in various countries. “In several European countries, it is widely maintained that Islam and Muslims are okay as long as they are not too visible. This attitude is prompting infringements of human rights and needs to be contrasted”, Perolini concludes.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Norway: Breivik Slams Experts for Insanity ‘Fabrications’

Anders Behring Breivik, who wants to be found accountable for his massacre of 77 people in Norway last July, on Wednesday accused a team of psychiatric experts of making things up to prove him insane.

“These are ill-willed fabrications,” Breivik said, referring to passages from a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation that concluded late last year that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. He later added: “They may not be ill-willed, but they are in any case wrong.”

Psychiatrists Synne Soerheim and Torgeir Husby were appointed by the Oslo district court to carry out a first evaluation of the 33-year-old right-wing extremist’s mental health. Their conclusion in November that he was psychotic cleared the way for him to be sent to a closed psychiatric ward for treatment instead of prison.

Breivik wants to be found sane and accountable for his actions, so that his anti-Islam ideology will be taken seriously and not considered the ravings of a lunatic. He has already said that being sentenced to closed psychiatric care would be “worse than death”.

The first diagnosis caused an uproar in Norway, where many were astounded that the man who methodically planned his attacks for years and then executed them with precision could be found not responsible for his actions.

The court therefore ordered a second opinion by two other experts, who concluded earlier this month that Breivik was sane. It will ultimately be up to the panel of judges to determine whether he is sane when they hand down their verdict in July.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Spain Busts Iran-Britain People-Trafficking Gang

Spanish police bust a trafficking gang that charged Iranian migrants 20,000 euros each to smuggle them to Britain, authorities said Tuesday. Police said in a statement they had arrested 22 people, including the gang’s leader. The gang is accused of using false passports and credit cards to traffic the migrants via its base in Spain’s Canary Islands.

Some of the migrants reached the Canaries in the holds of trucks, while others flew. They then waited on the islands, mainly in Tenerife and Fuerteventura, to fly on to Britain, authorities said.

“There, the immigrants — whom the traffickers referred to as ‘animals’, ‘cattle’ and ‘sheep’ — were instructed on how to act at the British border and how to obtain legal residency,” the statement said.

The gang charged adults 20,000 euros ($26,000) for the journey, with a “discount” for children and no charge for babies under two, said the Spanish police, which broke up the ring with help from British immigration authorities.

Police raided the home of the gang leader in Tenerife and found various faked passports and forging equipment. As well as Spain, the gang had members in Iran, Greece, Germany and Switzerland, the statement said, adding they were “highly specialised” fraudsters.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Radio Host Axed for Likening Serbs to Breivik

A well-known Swedish radio personality who called Serbians “stupid” and compared them to Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, has been suspended from work indefinitely. In mid-April listeners who tuned in to the show “Gerts Värld” (“Gert’s World”) could hear the host, Gert Fylking, say that Serbians were just like the mass murderer Breivik, currently on trial in Oslo.

“He is a controversial person, but this is probably the most serious thing he has done on radio,” said Christer Modig, CEO at MTG Radio to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swiss Woman Starved After ‘Eating’ Only Light

A woman living in the east of Switzerland who believed she could survive on light alone was found starved to death, it has emerged. Anna Gut (not her real name) was in her early fifties when she saw the film, “In the beginning there was light,” a documentary in which two men claim to survive entirely on light, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.

The film, which ran in Swiss cinemas in 2010, portrayed two men, 62-year-old Swiss Michael Werner, an anthroposophist with a doctorate in chemistry, and 83-year-old Indian yogi Prahlad Jani. Both men claimed to derive sustenance from spiritual means rather than the intake of food.

Werner claims he has lived this way since 2001, while Jani says he has lived for 70 years not only without food but also without water.

Anna Gut started her long preparations for the process by reading a book by another proponent of “breatharianism”, 54-year-old Australian Ellen Greve, who also goes by the name Jasmuheen, or eternal air.

Anna Gut followed the instructions for the first stage to the letter: she had no food or drink for a week, and even spat her saliva out. For weeks two and three, she resumed drinking again, but she visibly weakened and her children became concerned.

She calmed them and promised she would stop should the situation ever become critical. But one day last winter, when she failed to answer the phone, the children broke down the door to find their mother dead inside.

The autopsy showed simply that she had died of starvation, ruling out any other contribution to the cause of death. Anna Gut was the first to die in Switzerland from attempting to live on “pranic nourishment”, as it is also known, but there have been others who have also died as a result of their spiritual convictions.

In 1997, 31-year-old Timo Degen from Munich died from circulatory collapse during an attempt to live on light alone. A 53-year-old New Zealander, Lani Morris, also died from a stroke caused by fluid loss in 1998, and in 1999, Verity Linn, an Australian was found emaciated in a lake in Scotland having tried to follow light nourishment practices, Tages Anzeiger reports.

Dr. Dee Dawson, a British specialist in eating disorders, was in no doubt about the dangers of breatharianism. “It’s suicidal,” she told The Local.

“These people must have some sort of psychological problems, I would say, to be doing this. They know perfectly well that you starve if you don’t eat. “They must see themselves getting thinner, getting weaker, yet they carry on, so presumably they know they are going to die and don’t mind.”

But proponents of light nourishment dismiss such deaths, sometimes accusing the deceased of acting negligently or otherwise saying the true cause of death had not been properly established. Others look for spiritual reasons.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swiss Folk Hero William Tell Gets Own Musical

William Tell, the Swiss folk hero famed for shooting an apple off his son’s head, will be the subject of a musical that opens July 18, producers said Wednesday. “Tell the Musical” will be performed outdoors against the backdrop of mountain-ringed Lake Walensee, 70 kilometers (43 miles) southeast of Zurich, the play’s producers told a press conference.

It follows in the footsteps of other musicals celebrating Swiss nationalism, including one devoted to fictional heroine Heidi. According to legend, William Tell rose to fame in the 14th century for snubbing a man named Gessler, a hated bailiff who ruled over Tell’s central Swiss homeland on behalf of the Habsburg monarchy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Hooded Mob Blatantly ‘Fired at Police Helicopter After Luring Officers to Scene by Firebombing Pub’

A hooded mob fired a gun at a police helicopter during last summer’s riots after ‘luring’ officers to the scene by firebombing a pub, a court has heard.

The group of armed rioters fired at least 12 shots at police in the air and on the ground after violence erupted in Birmingham last year, jurors were told.

It was claimed officers were forced to run for safety as windows behind them were shattered by bullets being fired from four different guns.

Police had been dispatched to deal with reports of a fire at the Barton Arms pub in the Newtown area of the city on August 9 last year.

When the officers arrived on the scene they were faced with a group of masked and hooded youths armed with bats and various items of furniture taken from the Grade II listed pub.

Prosecutor Andrew Lockhart QC said that, after getting into formation, officers heard gunshots and were forced to take cover before being given the order to retreat for their own safety.

The court heard police realised they were being shot at when they heard the windows of the building behind them being smashed by the gun fire.

Mr Lockhart said: ‘These were not imitation firearms with blank ammunition, these were bullets and they were going into the building behind them.

‘Those weapons, or some of them, had been aimed at those officers and the bullets went over their heads and impacted with that building.’

The court was shown CCTV of a large group of men fleeing from police, with two men at the rear of appearing to take aim and fire at officers.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

UK: Pregnant Woman ‘Was Smothered to Death by Family Before They Claimed She Was Killed by an Evil Spirit’Nalia Mumtaz, 21, Was Found Lying Lifeless on a Bed at the Family Home

A pregnant wife was smothered to death by her husband, his parents and his brother-in-law who later all claimed she may have been killed by an evil spirit, a court has heard.

Nalia Mumtaz, 21, was pronounced dead at hospital after being rushed there by paramedics who found her lying lifeless and ashen faced on a bed at the family home. Her unborn child died with her.

Her husband Mohammed Mumtaz, 24, his father Zia Ul Haq and mother Salma Aslam, both 51, as well as his brother in law Hammad Hassan, 24, all deny charges of murder and manslaughter.

At Birmingham Crown Court today, prosecutor Christopher Hotten said the cultural context in which Mrs Mumtaz met her death on July 8, 2009 was of importance, as were the religious beliefs of the defendants, described as a ‘traditional Muslim family with an emphasis on religious observance’.

He asked the jury: ‘Was she or may she have been possessed by an evil spirit which took her life as the defendants were to suggest both at the time and after her death?

‘Or may she have died as a result of some unknown or undetected illness?

‘Or will you be sure that, as we say, she was assaulted, smothered, by these four defendants all of whom admit they were present when she died?’

Mrs Mumtaz was born in Pakistan and willingly entered into an arranged marriage with her husband, then a student at Wolverhampton University, in August 2007.

She came to Britain for the first time the following May after obtaining a visa and moved into his parents’ modern, three bedroom detached home in Birmingham.

Mr Hotten said she was attractive, bright and was ‘thrilled’ by the prospect of motherhood after falling pregnant in February 2009.

During her pregnancy, she was regularly seen by a GP and various midwives — the last time two days before her death — and both she and her unborn child appeared healthy.

But her parents said she phoned them at their home in the Jhellum district of Pakistan the day before her death and told them she was ‘not at peace’ living with her in-laws and was upset, Mr Hotten said.

The jury was also told that numerous telephone calls were made to Mrs Mumtaz’s relatives in Pakistan, the emergency services and other individuals in the hours before she was taken to hospital.

During the calls it is alleged that Ul Haq claimed that a ‘djinn’ — or evil spirit — had been sent from Pakistan, while a woman at the house was allegedly heard to say ‘don’t call an ambulance yet — we will cure her ourselves.’

Part-way through Mr Hotten’s opening speech, Mumtaz collapsed in the dock in a clearly distressed state and the jury was sent home until tomorrow.

The case continues.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

Van Rompuy: ‘Winds of Populism’ Threaten Free Movement

BRUSSELS — EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy has spoken out against the “winds of populism” threatening freedom of movement in the Union — a swipe at anti-immigrant discourse in French elections and on the Dutch political scene.

“It is the duty of each government to make sure that no-one — no member of any group or any minority — is treated as a second-class citizen. Regrettably, the winds of populism are affecting a key achievement of European integration: the free movement of persons within our borders,” he said in a speech in the Romanian parliament on Wednesday (25 April).

Keeping the EU’s inner borders open was a “sign of civilisation,” the EU official noted. “In that space, there is no room for stigmatisation of foreigners, as happens in certain countries nowadays,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Students Stabbed, Others Block City Streets

Hundreds of university students paralyse Tizi Ouzou

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 25 — The city of Tizi Ouzou, where one of Algeria’s most prestigious universities — the Hasnaoua — is located, was paralysed from late yesterday evening through the night by hundreds of the university’s students after three of the latter were stabbed by people identified as “strangers”.

Having heard the news of the stabbing (the conditions of the three stabbed are not yet know), their fellow students gathered in front of the university and then blocked the streets, bringing the entire city to a de facto halt in the attempt to stop the three attackers from escaping. The attack, according to sources quoted by the website TSA, occurred around 9 PM in the perimeter of the university where, as usual, students had stayed long after the end of the day’s lessons.

The students managed to identify and get to the three attackers, who instead were immediately assisted by dozens of other people who came to their aid, leading to a violent scuffle that the police (despite being present) did not stop, according to the witnesses quoted by TSA.

After the scuffle the students went back to the area around the university and stayed on the outer edges of the building, continuing to block the streets surrounding the university.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Saudis Arrest Activist, Protests in Cairo

Incident increases tension between two historic allies

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — From historic allies during the 30-year regime of Hosni Mubarak, Saudi Arabia and Egypt now find themselves in the midst of a diplomatic feud after an Egyptian activist was arrested upon his arrival at Jeddah airport on April 17.

Dozens of demonstrators protested outside the Saudi embassy in Cairo yesterday and outside the Foreign Ministry today, demanding the release of Ahmed Mohamed Sarwat El Sayed, known as Ahmed el-Gizawi, a lawyer and activist who was arrested as he arrived with his wife in Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage to Mecca.

According to some Egyptian human rights organisations, the man was arrested after being sentenced in absentia to a year in prison and 20 lashes for criticising the Saudi authorities for their heavy-handed treatment of Egyptians detained in Saudi prisons.

The reply from the Saudi ambassador in Cairo, Ahmed Adel Aziz Qattan, was immediate and clear, with the Saudi diplomat calling the reports in the Egyptian media “false” and claiming that the man had never been sentenced but had been arrested over possession of 21,000 anti-depressant pills, with the substance in question considered an illegal drug in the Kingdom. The ambassador added that the pills were hidden in powdered milk for children and inside the front covers of two copies of the Koran.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister has today moved to ask the Egyptian embassy in Riyadh and the consulate in Jeddah to monitor El-Gizawi’s situation closely and constantly. The spokesperson for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said that “urgent” contacts were taking place, but el-Gizawi’s sister Shereen, also a lawyer, has slammed the Egyptian authorities for acting only a week after her brother’s arrest and after his appeal for help.

Shereen el-Gizawi said in an interview with Al Ahram’s website that she had only become aware of the situation involving her brother by chance on Facebook. “I have tried all legal avenues to help my brother. Now is the time for public pressure,” she explained, adding that her brother had spent two days in detainment at Jeddah airport before being taken to the Terman prison. “We do not know if he is still there or if he has been moved”.

The National Council for Human Rights, an Egyptian NGO, has today appealed to the Military Council to intervene as soon as possible to ensure the el-Gizawi’s release and the overturn of his sentence.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Libya Puts a Bans on Religious Parties and Foreign Funds

(AGI) Tripoli — Libya greenlighted a new bill to regulate the setting up of political parties while banning religious, regional and tribal political organizations, as well as their financing from abroad. A member of the Libyan National Transitional Council explained that “ political parties must not rest on a regional, tribal or religious basis,” and he also added that they will not be allowed to receive funds from abroad.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Netanyahu Legalises Outposts, PNA Wants Sanctions

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, APRIL 24 — Three small nuclei of Israeli settlements on the West Bank — probably unknown to the majority of Israelis — are at the centre of a fresh quarrel between Israel and the Palestine National Authority.

The PNA leadership is now calling for punitive measures against Israel on the part of the Quartet (USA, EU, UN and Russia) calling for economic sanctions against the Israeli state. The attempt to restart talks between the two sides (with last week’s dispatch of a letter from President Abu Mazen to Premier Benyamin Netanyahu) would seem to have been denaturised once again.

Giving rise to Palestinian outrage is last night’s approval by an Israeli inter-ministerial committee of a ‘moratorium’ on the bordres for three Israeli outposts in the West Bank: Bruchim (100 households), Rachelim (50) and Sansana (50).

These trail blazers have been present on the ground for many years, but for formal reasons they have never been acknowledged as ‘settlements’.

Pressures exerted by the settlement movement on the Likud have yielded their fruit and Mr Netanyahu agreed to “make them official” once and for all. This terminology shocked Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who stated that “every Israeli settlement in the Territories is devoid of any legality and their construction represents a war crime”.

The Peace Now movement has also protested, accusing the Netanyahu government of having created three new settlements with yesterday’s decision.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Road Map for Palestinian Economic Independence

EU finances three-part program

(ANSAmed) — RAMALLAH — The obstacle-strewn political process is not the only road towards the eventual birth of a sovereign Palestinian state. An economic process also exists, for which, among other instruments, a programme for the “Diversification of Trade and Development of Competitiveness” in the Territories has been set up. Funded by the European Union, and in line with plans outlined by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), the scheme aims to support the development of a stable and independent Palestinian economy. Financed by the EU in partnership with the National Ministry of the Economy, the Palestinian Trade Organisation (PalTrade) and the association of Palestinian carriers (PCS), the scheme targets the facilitation and optimisation of the contribution already provided by the export of goods and services to the economic growth of the Palestinian Territories and the Gaza Strip.

“The programme consists of three stages that have already been agreed and well defined,” the chief executive of PalTrade, Hanan Taha-Rayyan, tells ANSAmed. “The first concerns the implementation of a trade corridor with neighbouring Arab countries through the promotion of less expensive routes and alternatives to Israeli ones”. This stage will see Jordanian and Israeli goods sorting centres compared for costs, bureaucratic obstacles and logistical hurdles. The possibility of creating a logistical goods sorting centre in the Jordan Valley will also be considered. The second stage of the project concerns the creation of a National Export Strategy (NES). The aim of the new body is to promote the development of new strategies in favour of Palestinian exports on the global market. The new development tool will be elaborated by PalTrade, the Ministry of Finance and by a group of associations from the Palestinian public and private sectors. “PalTrade will operate as a link between the public sector, the private sector and the ministry for a five-year period, helping the various players to produce a winning development strategy,” Taha-Rayyan adds. Finally, the third stage of the project aims to increase the production and supply of services within the Palestinian economy and on the European market. While the services sector is the most significant contributor to Palestinian GDP, and that which requires the greatest number of people, further development and broadening of the market appears easily achievable. With the Palestinian Territories already part of the EuroMed Free Trade Area, the creation of a common international platform for the exchange and sales of services appears a necessary and fundamental step for the complete development of the economy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Traitors: American Professors Go to Tehran to Help Mad Mullahs

A couple of so-called American professors recently went to Tehran University to help the radical, anti-American, racist, Islamists propagandize about how wonderful the Mad Mullahs think the Occupy Wall Street “movement” here in America is.

Wonderful, no?

Anti-Americans Alex Vitae, professor at Brooklyn College; Heather Gautney, professor at Fordham University; John Hammond, professor at City University of New York all appeared at the terrorist’s little convention to speak glowingly of the hate spewed by both the OWSers and the Mad Mullahs.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Turkish Oil Firm to Start Drilling in North Cyprus

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 25 — Turkey’s state-run oil company is set to start drilling for oil and gas in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC, recognized only by Ankara) under an agreement signed last year in September as Anatolia news agency reports. The Turkish Petroleum Corporation, or TPAO, will start drilling on Thursday at a field neat to Gazimagusa (Famagusta) with a ceremony which will be participated by Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz as well as Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu. TPAO has said it planned to drill as deep as 3,000 meters at the well which has been named Turkyurdu-1. On September 21, Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Eroglu signed in New York an agreement on the delineation of the continental shelf between two countries in the East Mediterranean. Under the agreement, TPAO will be able to make three dimensional seismic research and drilling in TRNC land and sea more actively. The agreement follows a Republic of Cyprus move to start offshore drilling for natural gas and oil in the southeast of the Eastern Mediterranean island.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turks Invested Abroad 25 Bln USD in 10 Years, Report

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, APRIL 25 — Turkish businessmen have invested the highest amount of money in the Netherlands during the first 10 years of the new millennium, according to a report derived from official data by the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON). Investments in the Netherlands, as daily Hurriyet reports, totaled about 20% of the more than 25 billion USD Turkish investments made abroad. The Netherlands has been famous for its openness to foreign investments and standing as one of only four eurozone countries to still retain its AAA status among the three main credit rating agencies. Yet the country may not keep its position as the top foreign nation for Turkish investments much longer, considering the recent resignation of the Dutch government on April 22 due to disputes over austerity measures with its far-right parliamentary partnership. President Abdullah Gul paid a three-day state visit to the Netherlands last week with some 100 businessmen, which may offset any economic instability that may stem from future potential political uncertainty in the country. A total of 3,641 business professionals have started businesses overseas, with some 165 Turkish business professionals have invested 5.3 billion USD between 2000 and 2010.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


ENI Inks Deal With Russia’s Rosneft

Accord for fields in Arctic, Barents Sea, Black Sea

(ANSA) — Moscow, April 25 — Italian fuels giant Eni on Wednesday inked an accord with Russia’s top oil producer Rosneft to jointly tap oil and gas fields in the Arctic, the Barents Sea and the Black Sea.

Eni and Rosneft CEOs Paolo Scaroni and Eduard Khudainatov sealed the deal in the presence of Russian Premier and President-elect Vladimir Putin.

It is Russia’s second big offshore deal with a Western fuels giant in two weeks.

Earlier this month ExxonMobil of the United States teamed up with the state oil firm in a deal granting Rosneft access to the US firm’s projects outside Russia.

A similar agreement has been reached with Eni, sources said.

The Kremlin is aiming to expand Russia’s oil industry abroad while getting know-how to apply to domestic projects.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Moscow’s Islamic Clerics Reject Creation of Shari’a Courts

Russia’s Kremlin-backed Islamic clerics say Shari;a courts should not be created in the country. Talgat Tadzhuddin, head of the Central Religious Directorate of Muslims, and Moscow’s Chief Mufti Albir Krganov said such Islamically inspired courts would violate Russia’s legal separation of church and state.

They were responding to a proposal by Daghestani lawyer Dagir Khasavov, who said in an interview that Muslims in Russia want Shari’a courts because they do not trust the existing secular courts. The opposition Yabloko party says it will sue Khasavov for “inciting hatred and extremism.”

The Russian Interior Ministry is investigating whether Khasavov’s remarks included extremist words. But a spokesman for Russia’s Orthodox Church, Vsevolod Chaplin, said that Muslims in Russia should not be deprived of their customs — and that Shari’a courts could be established under the law.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Moscow Announces Massive Metro Building Plan

Moscow announced Wednesday plans to extend its ornate but overcrowded metro system by half as much again in the next eight years at a cost of 100 billion rubles ($3.4 billion) per year. The city hall presented a plan to increase the network by 70 stations and 150 kilometres (93 miles) of track, which it said would see the metro “increase in size by 50 percent.”

Deputy mayor in charge of town planning and construction, Marat Khusnullin, told a city government meeting that “no one has ever built a metro on such a scale in this country, even in the best Soviet years.”

Currently the Moscow metro, opened since 1935 and famed for its elaborate Soviet-era mosaics and chandeliers on station platforms, has 185 stations and 305.5 kilometres (189 miles) of track.

Although the Stalin-era decorative touches are now dingy and in need of restoration, the system is largely efficient and cheap. A single ticket costs 28 rubles ($0.96) and trains run as frequently as every 30 seconds at peak times.

The city has done little to modernise its overground services and has ripped up tramlines, forcing more passengers to use the metro, which carries nine million passengers on weekdays.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Putin Invites Italian PM to Next St Petersburg Forum

(AGI) Moscow — Vladimir Putin has invited Mario Monti to attend next June’s St Petersburg forum; it will be their first meeting. Speaking during today’s signing of the strategic collaboration deal between Rosneft and ENI for the development of fields in the Barents and Black Seas, Russia’s Prime Minister and incoming President said that if Italy’s Prime Minister’s engagements permit it and “if our first meeting were to take place in St Petersburg, it would make the Forum even more meaningful and would give us much pleasure.” Addressing ENI CEO Paolo Scaroni and the Italian Ambassador to Moscow, Antonio Zanardi Landi, Mr Putin underscored the fact that the Russian government “would do its

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

South Asia

India: Gujarat: Forced to Abort by Her Husband Six Times, They Were All Female Fetuses

The husband and his family were “dissatisfied”. The woman, 36, has denounced them and the doctors. A network of clandestine clinics uncovered, the government has already withdrawn the licenses of two gynecologists. Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life: “The female sex-selective abortions are altering the Indian population.”

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — Forced to abort six times, because “incapable” of giving her husband a male heir: it happened in the district of Ahmedabad (Gujarat) to Amisha Bhatt, 36. The woman reported all her captors: her partner and his family for harassment, the doctors and other clandestine clinics in which she suffered first the test to find out the sex of the fetus, and then the six abortions. “With my gesture — Amisha said — I hope I have helped many other women who are in the same condition.” Meanwhile, thanks to her complaint, the State of Gujarat has launched detailed investigations and already withdrawn the licenses to two doctors.

Since 1994, with the approval of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technologies (Pndt) Act in India it is illegal to use special tests — such as amniocentesis or ultrasound — to determine the sex of the fetus. By law, doctors are required to submit a list of patients who, for reasons of health, have conducted these tests. However, the Pndt was not enough to curb the spread of selective female abortions, and over the years clandestine clinics have spread. After having made a complaint, Amisha Batt has discovered that her name was not listed in any of the lists of gynecologists who carried out the six abortions on her.

Pascoal Carvalho, a physician and member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told AsiaNews that “selective female abortions, feticide and violence against women and girls” are the only thing in India “beyond the barriers of caste and class.” This, he adds, “reveals the brutal instances of widespread prejudice against girls.”

These practices have become a plague, tied the archaic cultural preference for male children. But this situation, says Carvalho, a member of the Commission for human life of the Archdiocese of Mumbai, “is altering the composition of the population. According to the latest government census (2011), an average of 914 girls born for every 1,000 males.” This is alarming, because in the very years in which the government has taken various measures and awareness campaigns on the theme, the gap between males and females has widened even more. In 2001, in fact, the sex ratio was 927 females per 1,000 males.

According to the doctor to change this situation and reverse the trend we need to first change people’s mentality. “Mother Teresa said: If we accept that a mother kills her child, how can we tell others not to do it?”.

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

Indonesia: ‘Two Politicians’ Sex Tape Circulated Online

Jakarta, 24 April (AKI/Jakarta Post) — A sex tape purportedly featuring two lawmakers from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle is being widely circulated online.

The sex tape was initially published on Tuesday on, which was suspended shortly after the rumor widely spread.

The male politician reportedly comes from the Central Java electoral district, identified as A.B., while the female politician is from West Kalimantan.

The House of Representatives’ ethics council chairman M. Prakosa, also from the PDI-P, said that he had heard the rumors but has not seen the video.

“It is only rumor. I have only heard it from journalists. It is not clear yet who they are,” he told reporters at the House.

However, the council will further investigate the video to confirm the identity of the couple on the video, he said

“We have to be very careful because this issue is related to someone’s good name,” he added

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

Italy Compensates Families of Dead Indian Fishermen

‘We forgive our Italian brothers,’ relatives say

(ANSA) — New Delhi, April 24 — The families of two Indian fishermen allegedly killed by two Italian anti-pirate marines on Tuesday received 10 million rupees (145,000 euros) each in compensation.

“We forgive our Italian brothers,” the families were quoted as saying after the out-of-court settlement. Italy has described the compensation as “an act of generosity” with no implication of guilt.

The marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, have been in jail for more than a month, accused of shooting the fishermen in February after mistaking them for pirates.

An Indian ballistics test has found bullets in the fishermen’s bodies compatible with rifles collected from the tanker the marines were guarding but Italy has requested another test.

Rome is trying to have the case tried in Italy, arguing the incident took place in international waters.

On Monday the Indian supreme court admitted Rome’s plea and set a May 8 date for the first hearing.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Myanmar Seeks Partnership With Italy, Terzi Says

‘Burma can be fundamental in Southeast Asia’

(ANSA) — Naypyidaw, April 25 — The European Union’s decision to suspend nearly all of its punitive sanctions against Myanmar has opened up new economic opportunities for Italy and Europe, Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said Wednesday. “Myanmar can become a fundamental partner in Southeast Asia,” said Terzi after meeting with Thein Sein, the president of Myanmar, also known as Burma. The foreign minister said that suspending sanctions was producing “very interesting prospects regarding economic relations, not merely commercial but in terms of new entrepreneurial partnerships as well”. Suspending, not lifting, the sanctions also unlocks financial aid to the country but does not lift an arms embargo. Europe’s stance on Myanmar has softened recently as the once oppressive military-backed regime has responded to international pressure to support human rights and allow more open elections, which saw Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and 42 other members of her party join the parliament on April 1.

EU economic sanctions, which will be suspended this week, have restricted hundreds of companies from doing business and hundreds of people from travelling.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Far East

N. Koreans Arrive in South From Russia: Reports

Eight out of 40 North Korean loggers who fled their jobs in Russia and took refuge in the South Korean embassy have finally arrived in Seoul, media reports said Wednesday. Chosun Ilbo newspaper said the eight arrived on April 13 and are being interviewed by authorities. It cited a Seoul government official who declined to be named.

The remaining 32 are awaiting departure at the South’s embassy in Moscow, it said. Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said the eight spent between 18 months and two years in the diplomatic mission before arriving in Seoul. The workers fled logging sites in Siberia due to hunger, cold and torture by North Korean agents sent to the Russian region to monitor them, it said.

South Korea’s foreign ministry declined to confirm the reports, citing safety concerns for refugees and diplomatic sensitivities. The communist North sends thousands of workers to construction, logging and other workplaces overseas to try to earn foreign currency. Many are monitored by agents and much of what they make in earnings is confiscated by Pyongyang, according to media reports.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

South Africa: Video Gang-Rape Trial Set to Begin

Three men accused of raping a 17-year-old girl will go on trial, the National Prosecution Authority said on Wednesday. The case sent shock waves around the world after a video surfaced on the Internet.

The low-quality cell phone video shows the girl screaming and begging her attackers to stop as they take turns raping her, according to local media. It ends with one offering her two rand (26 US cents) for her silence and she is heard crying.

According to media reports, the teenage girl was repeatedly raped by the men. She is said to be mentally handicapped. The alleged perpetrators are between 14-20 years old. If convicted, they face a possible life sentence.

On Wednesday, South Africa’s National Prosecution Authority said that three of the four men suspected of carrying out the rape will appear in court. The fourth suspect is only 13 years old. Prosecutors are yet to establish his criminal capacity.

Women groups say that a woman is raped every 23 seconds in South Africa. The Jessica Ford Foundation Rape Center in Durban South Africa says Women in South Africa have more chances of being raped than learning to read. The center was established a few years ago by Jessica Ford — a young woman who was raped in 2008 by five men who forced their way into her home.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Bones of Early American Disappear From Underwater Cave

One of the first humans to inhabit the Americas has been stolen — and archaeologists want it back. The skeleton, which is probably at least 10,000 years old, has disappeared from a cenote, or underground water reservoir, in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

In response, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Mexico City has placed “wanted” posters in supermarkets, bakeries and dive shops in and around the nearby town of Tulum. They are also considering legal action to recover the remains.

The missing bones belong to a skeleton dubbed Young Hol Chan II, discovered in 2010. The cenote in which it was found had previously yielded another 10,000-year-old skeleton — the Young Man of Chan Hol, discovered in 2006.

The earlier find has anatomical features suggesting shared heritage with Indonesians and south Asians. Other skeletons found in cenotes in the area with similar features may date to around 14,000 years ago. Such finds imply that not all early Americans came from north Asia. This deals yet another blow to the idea that the Clovis people crossing an ancient land bridge between Siberia and Alaska were the first to colonise the Americas. Clovis culture dates to around 13,000 years ago.

Both skeletons were laid to rest at a time when sea level was much lower than it is today and the cenote, now about 8 metres below the water, was dry. Archaeologists have also found the remains of elephants, giant sloths and other animals in the caves, giving an indication of what the ancient humans ate.

INAH researchers have been aware of creeping theft of specimens from cenotes, but they lack the resources to guard the hundreds of sites that dot the peninsula.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


78 Somali Migrants Land at Linosa

(AGI) Palermo — This afternoon 78 migrants reached Linosa, but were held when they landed by the Carabinieri. According to the Coast Guard, the group consisted of 15 women and 63 men, all Somalis who said they left a location on the border between Libya and Tunisia. It is the same group of Somalis who had been lost track of, raising the alarm. They are in good condition. . .

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

Almost 6% of Dutch Couples Are Mixed Nationality

Around six in a hundred couples living in the Netherlands are made up of one Dutch national with a foreign partner, according to new figures from the national statistics office CBS.

In total, the Netherlands has 3.1 million married couples and a further 800,000 couples who officially live together. Of them, 265,000 are mixed nationality. Dutch-Indonesian, Dutch-German and Dutch-Surinamese are the most popular mixes, the CBS says.

In six out of 10 mixed couples, the man is Dutch. The CBS also highlights a sharp increase in the number of Dutch men marrying women from Thailand or Eastern Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Immigration Debate in Switzerland: Politician Sparks Uproar With Call to Limit German Workers

A right-wing populist politician in Switzerland has prompted outrage by calling for limits on German jobseekers, saying on a television talk show that there were “too many Germans” in her country. The remarks have been slammed as “cheap grandstanding,” but Natalie Rickli insists that many Swiss agree with her.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

NATO: No Images, No Responsibility

Alliance send third clarification letter to rapporteur

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 24 — NATO is denying any responsibility for the deaths of 63 migrants in the Mediterranean in March of 2011. In a third letter sent to the rapporteur at the Council of Europe, Tineke Strik from Holland, the Atlantic alliance states that it is not in possession of any “satellite images that could help identify military, commercial or any other type of vessels” that may have been present in the sea area at the time in question. “NATO has not declared a ‘military zone’ in the Mediterranean and did not play a coordinating role in the search and rescue operations in the area,” spokesperson Oana Lungescu points out. While admitting that “helicopters from vessels under NATO command flew over the zone where the migrants’ boat was positioned at the time of the incident,” in its letter, NATO insists that “there is no evidence” in its possession “linking helicopters under NATO command to the time and place at which the survives state they were given water and biscuits”. At the time of the incident, the Alliance further states, “only eight ships under NATO command were in the Mediterranean to patrol an operational area of 61,000 nautical miles”. The Alliance promises that it will give the Council’s recommendations “their fullest attention” and that it is already examining how it may strengthen “reciprocal exchange of information and search and rescue procedures”. NATO and its allies assured that they will continue “to review the information carefully in order better to understand what happened during the two weeks during which the boat was at sea”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: Half-a-Million Illegal Migrants Stand to Lose Health Coverage

Nearly half-a-million illegal migrants in Spain stand to lose their rights to free healthcare following the government’s move to revoke a provision in the current law that guaranteed that those without residency cards would be afforded medical treatment and prescription medicines.

The move, announced last Friday by Health Minister Ana Mato as part of the government’s far-reaching savings plans, has sparked a wave of criticism from the opposition.

“From a humanitarian point of view, this is a repugnant measure,” said Gaspar Llamazares, a United Left (IU) deputy in Congress and member of the health committee, on Monday.

The Popular Party (PP) government wants to eliminate the right to free healthcare for illegal migrants in order to curtail abuse by those who bring their family members from other countries to Spain for treatment, Mato said. “Registry on municipal rolls will no longer be the only valid requisite to apply for a health card,” Mato said after Friday’s Cabinet meeting. “Those applying for a health card will be checked out to see if they live here and, like us, work and pay taxes.”

The right to free healthcare for illegal migrants was first introduced in 1999 as an amendment to Spain’s Law of Foreign Nationals. It was slightly modified in 2000 under the government of José María Aznar.

According to the National Statistics Institute, there are 5,711,040 foreigners living in Spain. Of that number, an estimated 459,946 do not have residency papers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Supreme Court Skeptical of Striking Down Arizona Immigration Law

The Supreme Court justices, hearing arguments Wednesday over Arizona’s tough immigration law, suggested they were inclined to uphold parts of the state’s law but may block other parts. The Obama administration lawyer who wanted the entire law struck down ran into skeptical questions from most of the justices, who said they saw no problem with requiring police officers to check the immigration status of people who are stopped.

But the justices also said they were troubled by parts of the Arizona law that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to not carry documents or seek work. The stop-and-arrest provision has been the most contested part of the law.

Before U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. could deliver his opening comments, chief justice John Roberts in an unusual move interrupted to say that “no part of your argument has to do with racial or ethnic profiling.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Work in Germany — A Nightmare for Bulgarians

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Frankfurt

With the promise of jobs and income, more and more Bulgarians are being lured to Germany. There, however, they run into race-to-the-bottom wages and illegal accommodation. Frankfurt has become the centre of the so-called “Bulgarian industry”.

Katharina Iskandar

Perhaps it was the car. It had been there for weeks, a grey model from twenty years back with rust spots on the hood, looking somewhat lost among the neatly parked limousines, and the only one with a Bulgarian license plate in the whole neighbourhood. And there were the signboards on the mailbox with ever changing names, which eventually roused suspicion among the residents of the street.

The two-family house stands in the leafy middle-class suburb of Sachsenhausen in the south of Frankfurt. The front door of the house stands open. Stale heated air smelling of mildew wafts through the door of the flat and into the stairwell. Inside the musty flat, the Petrova family (their name has been changed) sits on mattresses in front of a small table in a room where the first thing that leaps to the eye is a huge mould stain in the corner.

About three weeks ago the family packed up and left their house in a village near the Bulgarian city of Varna. Father, mother and the three children got in their car and drove through almost the whole night. A man had called them up and said he had work and a place to live for them if they could make it to Frankfurt.

On arriving, after nearly twenty hours in the car, they had just to pick up the key. Since then, every month a kind of caretaker comes to the flat and collects the €600 in rent in cash. Sometimes, the Petrovas say, another man they know as “Micki” comes and takes the father and son to work on a construction site. With no contract. With no insurance. With no prospects of work the next day…

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

Culture Wars

Catholic Schools Face ‘Indoctrination’ Claims Over Gay Marriage

The Roman Catholic Church contacted its secondary schools in England and Wales asking them to enourage pupils to back the campaign aganist gay marriage.

Church education chiefs last night defended theselves against allegations of “political indoctrination” insisting they were “proud” to promote traditional marriage.

The Catholic Education Service contacted 385 secondary schools asking them to circulate the recent letter read in parishes defending the traditional definition of marriage. Schools were also invited to promote the petition organised by the Coalition For Marriage opposing the Government’s plans to allow homosexual couples to marry.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


Does Rain Come From Life in the Clouds?

Scientists are making their first forays into the mysterious world of biology miles up in the air. Their startling conclusion: That ecosystem in the sky might influence tomorrow’s weather and next year’s harvest.

The plane pitches violently as it plows through the milky innards of a cloud bank. A commercial pilot would fly high above these clouds over California’s Sierra Nevada Range, but this 63-foot Gulfstream-1 seems to invite the turbulence. Updrafts grab hold of the aircraft and shove it up even as the pilot noses it down. In the back of the plane, atmospheric chemist Kimberly Prather wears headphones to muffle the roar of the propellers. She steadies herself with a hand on an instrument rack and focuses on the bobbing screen of her laptop. Readings from the clouds spool across it.

Those numbers tell Prather that these winter clouds are cold and heavy, -30 degrees Fahrenheit and just over 100 percent relative humidity. Yet despite being 62 degrees below the freezing point of water, the cloud droplets remain stubbornly liquid. As long as they don’t form ice crystals, these clouds won’t shed more than a few flakes of snow over the Sierras’ 13,000-foot peaks. They are typical clouds, teasers that won’t drop much of anything.

After two hours of flying, though, something changes. The voice of another researcher crackles over Prather’s headset: “Ice!” The plane has entered a cloud layer where suddenly every droplet is frozen. Prather’s instrument-a tangle of metal tubes, wires, and airtight chambers nicknamed Shirley-tick-tick-ticks as its laser blasts apart hundreds of microscopic cloud particles, one by one, that are drawn in from the air outside. The size and composition of each particle flash across Prather’s monitor. The specks at the heart of those ice crystals are high in aluminum, iron, silicon, and titanium, the chemical signatures of dust not from California but from faraway deserts in Asia or even Africa. There’s something else in the crystals too: carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, telltale signs of biological cells.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Organic Farming is Rarely Enough

Conventional agriculture gives higher yields under most conditions.

Organic farming is sometimes touted as a way to feed the world’s burgeoning population without destroying the environment. But the evidence for that has been hotly debated. Now, a comprehensive analysis of the existing science, published in Nature1, suggests that farming without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides could supply needs in some circumstances. But yields are lower than in conventional farming, so producing the bulk of the globe’s diet will require agricultural techniques including the use of fertilizers, the study concludes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Superstars of Botany: Rare Specimens

A handful of plant collectors has shaped the field of botany. Now they are disappearing, and there are no clear successors.

John Wood has had malaria twice, and Dengue fever once. He has shaved leeches off his legs with a machete in southeast Asia — “you’re supposed to use a lit cigarette, but I don’t smoke” — had his car stolen in Bolivia and lain face down in the Yemeni desert while local tribes exchanged gunfire over his head.

He encountered such inconveniences in the process of collecting more than 30,000 plant specimens over 40 years of travelling the globe, mostly as a hobbyist. More than 100 of his finds have become type specimens, from which new species are described. Those numbers elevate him to the ranks of a star collector — the top 2% of botanical gatherers, who have accumulated more than half of the type specimens in some of the world’s most important collections1.

These elite field workers have probably numbered fewer than 500 people throughout history. But they have contributed much of what scientists know about plant diversity, ecology and evolution, and have been crucial in the race to document the world’s plants before they are lost to deforestation, development, invasive species and climate change.

Many botanists, however, believe that the era of the superstar collector is drawing to a close, at least in the 200-year-old form of a man (or occasionally woman) setting out from Europe or North America to see what the tropics hold. As botany has moved away from taxonomy and towards molecular studies, few of the jobs available allow researchers to spend long periods in the field gaining an encyclopaedic knowledge of plants. Tropical countries have also imposed restrictions on foreign researchers and are developing their own botanical expertise among home-grown scientists. “It’s possible that the days of the non-native plant collector are virtually at an end, and people like myself are the last examples,” says Wood.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The United Nation’s Useless Genocide Trials

United Nations is a threat to the United States and to freedom around the world.

Last year I completed a pamphlet on 10 Reasons to Abolish the UN for the Freedom Center, which you can find at its online bookstore that explores the reasons why the United Nations is a threat to the United States and to freedom around the world. You can learn more about the pamphlet from this video and this excerpt below that discusses the failures of the UN not only at preventing genocide, but at trying those responsible.

How effective is the United Nations at tackling genocide? When it happens or is about to happen, its peacekeeping forces usually find a good reason to be somewhere else. And the Security Council and General Assembly find some pressing Israeli matter to concentrate on. But what about after the fact?

The United Nations boasts of leading the charge against genocide through its tribunals. Warlords and generals who commit mass murder are supposed to fear the wrath of the international community. But how much wrath is there to fear?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]