News Feed 20130111

Financial Crisis
» 1 in 4 Greeks Below Poverty Line
» Italian-German Bond Spread Drops to 248 Points
» Italy: Monti Calls for Cuts to Public Salaries, MPs
» Italy Improves Net Debt to GDP in First 9 Months of 2012
» Italy: ‘McDonald’s Temp Job Better Than No Job at All’ Fornero Says
» Rehn: Difficult Months Ahead, Recovery Only in 2014
» Taiwan: Despite Year-End Bonus Cuts, Economy Still Strong
» Three-Year Italian Bonds Drop to Lowest Level Since 2010
» “Fundamental Transformation” To Chill the Blood
» Congress Must Hold Hearings Into the Al Jazeera Deal
» Eliminate ATF Instead of Cutting National Security Budgets, Say Officials
» Illinois Swears in Three Legislators Facing Criminal Charges
» Is This the Scandal That Will Bring Obama Down?
» It’s YOUR Constitution Obama is Shredding
» Nationwide Ammo Shortage So Severe That Even Cops Can’t Buy Bullets; Ammo Rationing Imminent
» NRA: White House Has ‘An Agenda to Attack the Second Amendment’
» Obama Rubbing Our Noses in His Victory and Radicalism
» Sheriffs Can Block Federal Gun Control
» The Second Amendment
» The Video That Troubles a South Florida Jewish Federation
» When Kids and Guns Mix
Europe and the EU
» Alitalia: Les Echos, Etihad Aims to be Minority Shareholder
» Copper-Wire Thief Electrocuted in Sicily
» France: Nicolas Sarkozy to be Investigated on Corruption Charges Over ‘Karachi Affair’ Arms Deals to Pakistan
» Germany: Vaccinated Children Five Times More Prone to Disease Than Unvaccinated Children
» Ireland: Black Gold Fever Spreading in Cork
» Italy: Undertaker Providing Muslim Funeral Services Opens in Padua
» Italy: Milan Prosecutor Calls for 9-Year Prison Term for Politician
» Italy: Soccer: Five More Ided for Racist Chants Against Ac Milan
» Italy: Court Rejects Berlusconi Claim of Bias Over Alimony Payment
» Italy: Letta Says Victorious PD Would Seek Monti’s Support
» Italy: Monti Says ‘Premature’ To Discuss Alliance With PD
» More Rapes in Belgium
» Norway: Anger as Police Drop Breivik Response Probe
» Sicily Blocks Construction of US Defense Satellite Base
» Slovenia: Bad Investments, Fears Over Croatia’s Competition
» Spain: Catalonia Prepares ‘New EU State’
» UK: Black Teenager Punches Woman After She Calls Him a ‘Smelly Nigerian’ In Latest Shocking Racist Footage Filmed on the Tube
» UK: Don’t Worry Folks — Accused Terrorist Back at Work as a Postie
» UK: Enough to Make You Shudder! Temperatures Set for Sudden Plunge to Minus 10c… As Average Heating Bill for the Elderly Soars to £1,350
» UK: Fishermead ‘Drug Turf’ Shootings: Teenagers’ Murderers Convicted
» UK: Jimmy Savile Scandal: Report Reveals Extent of Abuse
» UK: MPs Call for ‘32% Salary Increase’
» UK: More Than 1,000 Women Suffer Sex Attack Every Day, Report Says
» UK: Man Convicted of Raping Woman as She Slept
» UK: New Year Attack at Railway Station
» UK: Planning Minister Challenges National Trust Boss in Furious Row Over Housebuilding Plans
» UK: Video: The Feral Kids Who Terrorise Our Streets: A-Level Students Filming Skating Video Are ‘Jumped’ By Foul-Mouthed Gang of Eight-Year-Old Thieves
» UK: While Woman’s Car Was Torched Police Trawled Her Laptop for Evidence of Facebook Cybercrime
» White Britons Are Now a Minority in Leicester, Luton and Slough and Birmingham is Set to Follow by End of Decade
North Africa
» Egypt: Antiquities Minister, Visits to Museum Plummet
» Libya: El-Mansuri: Italy and Its Investors Are Nearest to Us
Middle East
» Iraq: Mgr Sako: Torn and Violent, Iraq is in an “Arab Winter” For Christians and Muslims
» Syria: NGO: Military Airport in North Seized by Jihadists
» Syria: Israel Walls Itself in, Close Eye on Chemical Weapons
» UAE: Dubai Aiming to be Islamic Finance Capital
South Asia
» Catholics in Bangladesh Hit by Land Expropriation and Forced Conversions to Islam
Latin America
» Honduras Ambassador Forced to Resign Over Orgy in Colombia
» Apartheid in Italy? A Sicilian City’s Proposal for Immigrant-Only Buses
» Indian Christian Calls on Saudi Arabia to Recognise Migrants’ Religious Rights
» UK: Solicitors ‘Ran Immigration Scam Arranging Thousands of Sham Marriages by Submitting Touching Love Stories About Couples Who’D Only Just Met’
Culture Wars
» Germany: Kids’ Classics Get a Politically Correct Makeover
» Immigrant Mothers in Britain Could be Aborting Unwanted Girls, Ministers Admit After Study of Birth Rates
» Worshiping at the Temple of the Vagina (Part II)
» Getting Murdered: Where in the World?

Financial Crisis

1 in 4 Greeks Below Poverty Line

But Piraeus container traffic rose in 2012

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Some see a glimmer of hope on the horizon in Greece due to signs of economic recovery, but the statistics (for 2011, but those for 2012 may be even worse) show a country still being pummeled by hardship. Some 3.403 billion people in Greece, 24.8% of a total population of 11 million, are below the poverty line or in a condition defined as “social exclusion”. These figures are from a study carried out by Greece’s statistics service ELSTAT. In 2010 there had instead been 3.031 billion: thus, 400,000 more people have slid into poverty. Moreover, the number of people living in households in which none of the members have full-time employment rose to 979,000 in 2011, compared with 619,000 in 2010. The figures reflect the results of economic policies implemented in the eighteen months after the signing of the first Memorandum between the Greek government and the troika (IMF, EU and ECB), during which harsh austerity measures were brought in, leading to a reduction in the income of Greek citizens. A few weeks after the go-ahead to the latest aid tranche, and with speculation on Greece’s possible exit from the Eurozone having fallen by the wayside, some are cautiously optimistic: like Charles Dallara, head of the Institute of International Finance (IIF, which represented Greece’s international creditor banks in the talks which led to a reduction in Greek debt), who feels Greece will return to the markets earlier than originally predicted as a result of the consolidation of the country’s credibility and the solidarity shown by the eurozone and the EU.

In an interview published in Ta Nea, Dallara said that investors would once again start looking towards Greece “not only for financial investment but also to invest in the real economy”. And it is also from the real economy that some signs of hope have come. A substantial increase in cargo traffic in Pier I of the Greek port Piraeus (publicly owned and managed) was seen in 2012 compared with 2011 figures. According to the data released today by the port authority, Pier I handled 625,914 TEU (unit used for container calculations) in 2012, compared with 490,904 in 2011, a 27.5% rise. An increase of 12% was seen in container storage space of the pier. Piraeus’s Pier II is successfully managed by the Chinese company Cosco, which is also planning to build a third pier.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian-German Bond Spread Drops to 248 Points

Lowest since July 2011

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — For the first time since July 2011, the spread between Italian and German bonds dropped to 248 basis points Friday. Yields on Italian 10-year bonds fell to 4.08%, their lowest since autumn 2010.

The spread is a key measure of Italy’s borrowing costs and of investor confidence in the country’s ability to weather the eurozone crisis.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Calls for Cuts to Public Salaries, MPs

Number of lawmakers should be halved, says outgoing premier

(ANSA) — Rome, January 8 — Italy should cut civil service salaries and slash the number of lawmakers in parliament by half, outgoing Premier Mario Monti said Tuesday.

“It’s necessary to touch (public) salaries, without falling into the demagogy that stops the state hiring people with very high capabilities, who should be ripped from the market” Monti told Mediaset television.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Improves Net Debt to GDP in First 9 Months of 2012

Statistics agency says Italian net debt levels improving

(ANSA) — Rome, January 9 — Italy’s net debt-to-GDP ratio improved in the first three quarters of last year, compared with the previous year, the national statistics agency said Wednesday.

Net debt to GDP stood at 3.7% in the first nine months of 2012, an improvement of 0.5% over the same period in the previous year, Istat said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘McDonald’s Temp Job Better Than No Job at All’ Fornero Says

Labor minister defends fast-food giant’s expansion in Italy

(ANSA) — Rome, January 8 — A temporary job at McDonald’s is better than no job at all, Italian Labor Minister Elsa Fornero said Tuesday, responding to criticism over the American fast-food giant’s plans to create 3,000 jobs over the next three years in Italy. “I like all businesses that are actively working to create jobs,” she told Italian radio.

The plan, which would mostly include part-time and temporary positions, came under fire Monday from Italy’s powerful left-wing labor confederation CGIL. “Everyone would prefer a long-term contract job,” added Fornero, “but the circumstances facing businesses are difficult in this climate of great uncertainty. “Even a temporary job is better than no job at all”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Rehn: Difficult Months Ahead, Recovery Only in 2014

Euro zone economy still weak

(ANSAmed) — Brussels — The European Union’s Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said Friday that the euro zone’s economy ‘is still weak’ and the months ahead will be difficult. Citizens will continue to feel the impact of the crisis and ‘the recovery will only take place in 2014’, he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Taiwan: Despite Year-End Bonus Cuts, Economy Still Strong

As government seeks savings, private sector and opposition criticise the privileges of public servants and employees in state-run enterprises. Taiwan’s per capita GDP is now higher than that of France, Finland and Japan. Opposition plans a rally this Sunday to protest budget.

Taipei (AsiaNews) — The decision by Taiwan’s parliament (??? or Legislative Yuan) to cut year-end bonuses (thirteenth month) to public servants and employees in state-owned companies has led to protests.

Currently, employees of state-run businesses can get maximum year-end bonuses equal to 4.6 months of their salaries, including 2.6 month for performance.

Now lawmakers set a 1.2 month bonus cap, slashing the 2.6 months’ bonus, whilst maintaining the regular 2 month bonus, for a total of 3.2 month year-end bonus.

The cap was agreed to during negotiations for the 2013 budget. Opposition party Taiwan Solidarity Union (??????) had called for the elimination of year-end bonuses for underperforming state corporations. During the debate, a compromise was reached to reduce the bonuses whilst acknowledging the work of employees in profitable state-run enterprises.

Legislators also gave their nod to the proposal to limit year-end bonuses for retired civil servants, teachers and servicemen so that they would only apply to those with monthly pensions of less than NT$ 20,000 (US$ 690) and the families of those injured or killed on duty.

For trade unions, bonus cuts are an insult to employees. For the past week, they have protested insisting that underperformance cannot be pinned on employees since their employers follow government directives. If anyone is to blame, it is the government.

Private sector workers, including private school teachers, disagree, saying that public servants and employees in state-run corporations have privileges that they can only dream of.

For this reason, the Democratic Progressive Party (?????), the main opposition party, believes that state companies like Taiwan Power Co (??) and the Taiwan Water Corp (??) cannot afford year-end or productivity bonuses given their recent losses.

The opposition has called on the government to change its 2013 budget and plans a mass rally next Sunday.

The government said it would respect parliament’s decision but has called for a more targeted approach that would distinguish enterprises that are performing well from those that are not.

Despite these problems and high real estate prices, a burden especially heavy for young couples, Taiwan’s economy has shown a remarkable capacity to weather crises, as it did during the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the world-wide financial crisis of 2007, thanks to its export-oriented production, high tech and greater innovation capacity.

Except for the recession of 2001, and despite massive Taiwanese investments in mainland China, Taiwan has shown tremendous growth in recent years, hitting a record 10 per cent in 2010.

This has given the island-nation a per capita GDP that is higher than that of France, Finland and Japan with one of the lowest unemployment levels in the world.

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

Three-Year Italian Bonds Drop to Lowest Level Since 2010

Another sign borrowing costs easing

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — Three-year Italian bonds reached their lowest level since March 2010 on Friday when a successful Treasury auction gave further evidence that the country’s borrowing costs are easing.

The Treasury sold 3.5 billion BTP bonds that are set to mature in December 2015 at an average interest rate of 1.85%, compared to 2.50% at the last equivalent auction in December.

The Treasury also auctioned off 1.5 billion euros’ worth of bonds set to mature in 2017. The average interest on the bonds maturing in June 2017 was 2.17%, while it was 2.34% for those maturing in October that year.

The spread between 10-year Italian bonds and German Bunds fell 20 basis points to 259 on Thursday, its lowest since July 2011. The spread is a key measure of Italy’s borrowing costs and of investor confidence in the country’s ability to weather the eurozone crisis.

It went over 500 points with yields of around 7%, which are considered unsustainable in the long term, at the peak of the eurozone crisis in 2011.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


“Fundamental Transformation” To Chill the Blood

(ERIK RUSH) During an ABC Nightline interview broadcast on December 26, 2012, President Barack Obama said that one benefit of his re-election was the ability “to have men with guns around at all times.” This week, Obama signed a bill extending armed Secret Service protection for former US presidents to the remainder of their natural lives.

I’m sure the irony of all this juxtaposed against his ongoing effort to disarm law-abiding Americans has not escaped the reader.

On January 3, Keith Ratliff, a 32 year-old firearms enthusiast, was found fatally shot in the head in his Carnesville, Georgia home. Police are investigating the case as a homicide. Ratliff’s YouTube channel for fellow firearm enthusiasts was ranked as one of the top 10 channels on YouTube, with 3.4 million subscribers and more than 537 million views.

Although I have no proof, my inclination is to suspect that the Obama administration or one of its surrogates is responsible for Ratliff’s death, the first of many such executions that will take place in order to silence individuals whom the government deems a threat to their oligarchical collectivist agenda. There; I’ve said it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Congress Must Hold Hearings Into the Al Jazeera Deal

If Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) lets the Al Jazeera-Al Gore deal go through without scrutiny, then every broadcast entity or communications facility in America is ripe for the plucking by any of our nation’s enemies and adversaries.

For those who haven’t been paying attention lately, the government of Qatar has announced a deal through Al Jazeera with former Democratic Vice President Al Gore for his Current TV cable channel, in order to transform it into an arm of its Jihadist or “Terror TV” network, once known as a mouthpiece for mass murderer Osama bin Laden. They are planning to call it “Al Jazeera America,” when the oil money for the transaction is coming from abroad. This is part and parcel of the deception, which is designed to make it appear as though Al Jazeera is as American as apple pie and simply has a foreign-sounding name.

To be sure, the deal was not technically announced by Qatar, a Middle Eastern dictatorship where freedom of the press is not permitted. Instead, Al Jazeera made the announcement. But that is part of the deception. Al Jazeera is an arm of the Qatar regime and is not in any sense of the term an “independent” news organization. It is government-funded with “advertising” from such entities as Qatar Airways, the national airline partly owned by the regime. Qatar and Al Jazeera are one and the same.

The purpose of this transaction is to soften the American people up for more Middle East revolution, including within the borders of the U.S. Dr. Judea Pearl, the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, supports an investigation of the deal and says, “Al Jazeera weaves the ideological structure and combustible angers from which Jihadi recruits eventually emerge.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Eliminate ATF Instead of Cutting National Security Budgets, Say Officials

Several well-regarded law-enforcement officials and gun-rights activists strongly suggested that President Barack Obama and lawmakers get rid of the scandal-prone Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives instead of cutting national security agencies and budgets including the U.S. military.

“The House of Representatives should slash the budget of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or simply eliminate the agency,” gun rights expert John M. Snyder said from his office in Bethesda, Md.

“This would be a good first step as sensible U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators work to curtail expenditure of the irresponsible federal establishment,” the former NRA editor stated.

The ATF has been on a collision course with the House of Representatives for months. Attorney General Eric Holder remains under a contempt resolution from the House for his refusal to cooperate with the House in the production of documents associated with the ATF Fast and Furious international firearms scandal. ATF is part of the Justice Department, according to the House of Representatives’ reports and documents.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Illinois Swears in Three Legislators Facing Criminal Charges

Illinois’ newest General Assembly began Wednesday with the swearing into office of not one, but three Democrat legislators facing criminal charges. One might expect in a state with such a history of sending governors to prison, there would be a real initiative underway to stop the corruption, or at least to stop electing the corrupt. But in Illinois, there is no such luck, or sense.

[Comment: kak•is•toc•ra•cy n. pl. kak•is•toc•ra•cies Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens. ]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Is This the Scandal That Will Bring Obama Down?

It’s even worse than we previously thought. A retired four-star admiral is now claiming that Barack Obama intentionally conspired with America’s enemies to stage a bogus attack and the kidnapping of an American ambassador so he could “negotiate” the release of a “hostage” and bolster his mediocre approval ratings just prior to the election?

The Washington Examiner, quoting retired Four-Star Admiral James Lyons, writes: “the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi… was the result of a bungled abduction attempt… the first stage of an international prisoner exchange… that would have ensured the release of Omar Abdel Rahman, the ‘Blind Sheik’…”

But something went horribly wrong with Obama’s “October Surprise.” Although the Obama Administration intentionally gutted security at the consulate prior to the staged kidnapping, former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty disobeyed direct orders to stand down, saved American lives, single-handedly killed scores of attackers…and the attackers, believing that the Obama had betrayed them, tortured Ambassador Chris Stevens and dragged his body through the streets.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

It’s YOUR Constitution Obama is Shredding

The United States of America was formed on the foundations recorded in our Declaration of Independence. As acknowledged by even our federal government archives, “Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is at once the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty and Jefferson’s most enduring monument.”

That document and the foundation of our nation has but only three fundamental precepts —

1.   “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
2.   “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;”
3.   “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

It is important to note that in the original handwritten document, the term used to describe these rights is “inalienable” — not to be confused with “unalienable” used in many reproductions of the Declaration today.

While these two words are similar, they are not the same, or they were not the same at the time the word inalienable was written into the Declaration. Whereas unalienable simply meant — “Not alienable; that cannot be alienated; that may not be transferred; as unalienable rights.” — the word inalienable is much more specific and restrictive — “Unalienable; that cannot be legally or justly alienated or transferred to another. The dominions of a king are inalienable. All men have certain natural rights which are inalienable. The estate of a minor is inalienable, without a reservation of the right of redemption, or the authority of the legislature.”

The entire foundation for our Charters of Freedom is based not upon man-made laws, but upon the inalienable God given Rights which exist in Natural Law, and remain forever beyond the scope and authority of the legislature. Our inalienable rights are “endowed by our Creator,” and protected by the Charters of Freedom.

In essence, inalienable natural rights are beyond the authority of the legislature, the only branch of government entrusted by the people with the authority to make law. It is upon these foundational inalienable rights that the US Constitution was drafted and adopted by the early colonies in 1787.


A constitutional government is a limited government, which explains why many anti-American politicians and law professors want to terminate the Constitution, unleashing an unbridled government power operating without and at odds with the consent of the governed.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Nationwide Ammo Shortage So Severe That Even Cops Can’t Buy Bullets; Ammo Rationing Imminent

(NaturalNews) One of the great myths of modern society is that the police are heavily armed and have both ammo and personnel in huge numbers. In reality, it’s quite the opposite: police and sheriffs are dangerously under-staffed all across the country in nearly every city and town. Furthermore, severe budget cuts have left law enforcement with dwindling ammunition supplies. In some departments, it’s so bad that nearly the only ammo available is what officers are carrying on their duty belts.

And now it has just gotten far worse.

Thanks to outrageous Sandy Hook fear mongering by the mainstream media and political operatives like Feinstein, Obama, Cuomo and others, the American people have been rushing out to buy up every bullet, every rifle, every handgun and very nearly every gun-related product in the country. This is all because people like Biden, Obama and Feinstein are openly declaring war on the Second Amendment and threatening to outlaw or restrict firearms, magazines and ammunition.


It’s not good. Not unless you’re a gang member just waiting to commit mayhem all over town.

If gang bangers ever figure out that the cops are out of bullets, it will be all-out war in many U.S. cities, including Miami, LA, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and NYC. A disarmed police force is no police force at all, since it’s only really the threat of high-velocity lead that actually stops bad people from doing bad things. (Criminals don’t care if you ask nice. They are only motivated by their own survival.)

It also means that the feds will have a strong ammunition advantage over local cops and sheriffs, since the U.S. federal government has been stockpiling 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition domestically, right here in the United States. Why does this matter? Here’s why:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

NRA: White House Has ‘An Agenda to Attack the Second Amendment’

UPI — National Rifle Association accused the White House of having “an agenda to attack the Second Amendment” and vowed to lobby Congress to stop U.S. gun limits.

At the same time, Vice President Joe Biden said the recommendations he makes to the White House would “relate primarily to gun ownership, and the type of weapons we own,” adding there was growing support for tighter background checks on gun purchasers, restrictions on high-capacity clips and other moves.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Rubbing Our Noses in His Victory and Radicalism

(DAVID LIMBAUGH) Hey, folks, remember the good old days when candidate Barack Obama at least pretended to be bipartisan and conciliatory? Now it’s as if he’s on a mission to prove he was faking it.

Obama is behaving like a bitter ex-spouse who knows all our hot buttons and delights in pushing them. He is governing by crisis, fear, alienation, cronyism and anti-constitutional fiat. He is openly flaunting his militant radicalism, as if he’s trying to provoke us — and his second term hasn’t even begun.

He is horrifying all Americans who have the slightest concern about our deficits and debt, refusing to address them, demonizing and obstructing those who are, and flagrantly lying about both by pretending he’s the one tending to our national solvency.

Though he never would have been foolish enough to make a major production of the gun issue during the campaign, he is exploiting the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., to press for stringent gun control measures. He’s playing his leftist constituents’ emotions like a fiddle, encouraging them to ignore the facts and statistics and join him in imposing measures that violate the Second Amendment.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sheriffs Can Block Federal Gun Control

The county sheriff is the highest governmental authority in his county

“A high-profile former sheriff who once sued the U.S. government over its gun regulations — and won — says it is the local sheriff who will have to defend Americans when and if the feds starting banning and confiscating guns.

Richard Mack, a former sheriff in Graham County, Ariz., joined with then-Ravalli County Sheriff Jay Printz in a lawsuit against Washington when Bill Clinton demanded sheriff’s enforce provisions of the Brady Bill gun control law.

He won. And since then he’s been at the front of a movement that highlights the responsibility of local sheriffs.

Now, as Washington gears up to consider imperious plans to limit guns, require fingerprinting and registration, impose additional taxes and fees, ban particular features or functions outright, and even confiscate weapons of self-defense, Mack has told WND that there’s hope remaining in local law enforcement.

It’s not complicated, he said.

“Gun control is illegal and it’s against the Constitution,” he said. “What people don’t realize is that the Second Amendment was designed to protect us from the power of the federal government.”

He said he would expect sheriffs across the country to defend the rights of ordinary Americans.” (From an Article by Michael Carl at WND)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Second Amendment

As the Vice President completes his report recommending to the President new federal legislation that will affect gun ownership, he likely will spend little, if any, time evaluating the constitutional limits on the power of the government to impose the prior restraints he thinks appropriate. We should be mindful of the Second Amendment’s intended meaning and should respect its Supreme law limits on the exercise of government power. The text of the Second Amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

As explained below, the Second Amendment arose as a protection for the natural right of defense, both individual self-defense and collective defense, against acts in violation of individual right, acts of oppression, and insurrection and other attempts to subvert governments protective of liberty. Under Lockean rights theory, accepted as foundational by the founding generation, one may never be forced to part with the basic right of self-defense, particularly because, as the Declaration of Independence makes clear, insufferable governments that would deprive people of their rights to life, liberty, and property may give rise to a right of revolution. As the Declaration states: “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it . . .”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Video That Troubles a South Florida Jewish Federation

Credit South Florida Jewish activist Alan Bergstein for upending the leadership of the South Palm Beach County Jewish Federation. He has made them uneasy with an attack video accusing the chair of its Jewish Council on Community Relations (JCRC) Rabbi David Steinhardt of B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton of denying the sovereignty of Israel over Jerusalem its capital. In Late December 2012 Steinhardt signed a J Street sponsored petition protesting construction of Jewish homes there.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

When Kids and Guns Mix

We all know what can happen when kids and guns mix. And today I will tell you some stories about that very thing. The kids’ names were Kendra and Alyssa, and then there was the 11-year-old boy whose name we just don’t know. What we do know is that they lived in places called Bryan County, Albuquerque, and Palmview. We know that guns were in their homes—and that something horrible befell them.

Last year, 12-year-old Oklahoman Kendra St. Clair was home alone, unsupervised. At some point she accessed her mother’s handgun—a .40-caliber Glock. Then Kendra pulled the trigger.

And that bullet tore into flesh.

You probably know the rest of the story.

Or maybe not.

The bullet tore into the flesh of a 32-year-old home invader, causing him to flee. Kendra was left scared and crying, but unscathed.

The story of Albuquerque 11-year-old Alyssa Gutierrez turned out differently. Three teenage burglars broke into her home, but they fled after she merely grabbed her mother’s rifle. No one was hurt, but the criminals were caught.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Alitalia: Les Echos, Etihad Aims to be Minority Shareholder

Operation welcome by Air France-Klm

(ANSAmed) — Paris — Abu Dhabi’s airline Ethiad ‘is allegedly ready to buy stakes of some minority shareholders’ in Alitalia who ‘wish to disengage themselves when the current pact expires on January 12’ French daily Les Echos reported Tuesday quoting confidential sources. The operation, according to the newspaper, would be welcome by Air France-Klm ‘which owns 25% of the Italian company but does not have the means to buy off the rest’. The French-Dutch group, whose good relations with Ethiad have led to a cooperation accord at the end of 2012, ‘would thus avoid the risk of seeing part of Alitalia’s capital go into hostile hands while awaiting to be well off enough to make an acquisition offer in cash or a shares exchange in 2014 or 2015’. For the moment, Les Echos reported, none of the airlines mentioned released a comment on the issue.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Copper-Wire Thief Electrocuted in Sicily

Romanian dies of burns

(ANSA) — Naro (Agrigento), January 4 — A Romanian national died Thursday night after being electrocuted while trying to steal copper wiring in Sicily’s Agrigento area. The man, a resident of Canicatti’, was taken to hospital by his three accomplices — including his brother — but died later from his injuries.

The survivors were reported for aggravated theft and police have searched their homes. Recently there have been regular reports of copper cable theft in the Agrigento area, with power cables managed by electricity company ENEL and telephone companies being the main targets.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

France: Nicolas Sarkozy to be Investigated on Corruption Charges Over ‘Karachi Affair’ Arms Deals to Pakistan

Nicolas Sarkozy was plunged into yet another corruption scandal today following allegations that he tried to interfere in an arms sales enquiry while president of France.

The 57-year-old is said to have violated a confidentiality law when dealing with the so-called ‘Karachi Affair’.

It involves a 2002 terrorist bombing in the Pakistani city that killed 11 French engineers — allegedly because kickbacks over submarine sales by France to Pakistan had not been paid.

Money linked to the arms deals is said to have been used to help fund the 1995 presidential election campaign of former French prime minister Édouard Balladur — a campaign for which Mr Sarkozy was spokesman.

Mr Sarkozy enjoyed presidential immunity from prosecution at the time, but three judges have now ruled that he should be investigated for allegedly interfering in the Karachi probe.

‘The act of permitting the release of information concerning on-going investigations does not enter into the functions of the president,’ the three judges said in their own official ruling.

Two former close aides to Sarkozy have already been charged by judges investigating the alleged Karachi kickbacks.

Mr Sarkozy allegedly authorised the creation of a shell company used to channel kickbacks to Mr Balladur.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Vaccinated Children Five Times More Prone to Disease Than Unvaccinated Children

(NaturalNews) An ongoing study out of Germany comparing disease rates among vaccinated and unvaccinated children points to a pretty clear disparity between the two groups as far as illness rates are concerned. As reported by the group Health Freedom Alliance, children who have been vaccinated according to official government schedules are up to five times more likely to contract a preventable disease than children who developed their own immune systems naturally without vaccines.

Released as its own preliminary study back in September 2011, the survey includes data on 8,000 unvaccinated children whose overall disease rates were compared to disease rates among the general population, the vast majority of which has been vaccinated. And in every single disease category, unvaccinated children fared far better than vaccinated children in terms of both disease prevalence and severity. In other words, the evidence suggests that vaccines are neither effective nor safe.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Ireland: Black Gold Fever Spreading in Cork

La Vanguardia

Ireland, which took over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union on January 1, may have found a way out of the crisis thanks to off-shore petrol. The idea has taken hold in Dublin since a bout of “black gold fever in Cork” notes Spanish daily La Vanguardia caused by the discovery of oil deposits in the Irish Sea. Ireland’s second largest city is now “awaiting an economic boom” with the idea “fostering dreams” in a country deeply hit by the crisis, the paper says, adding —

Representatives from ExxonMobil, Texaco and other major oil companies lunch in the city’s pubs and restaurants on the banks of the River Lee, just like, in Dublin, where the members of The Troika [Ireland’s creditors, the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank]. But in this case, the intention is to invest and not to dictate their lending conditions.

The deposit, called the Barryfoe Field, is estimated at 280 million barrels worth €30 billion. There is only one detail yet to be resolved — where to find the €1.5 billion needed to exploit the deposit. Gathering these funds is the goal of a company called Providence, created by the local tycoon and former rugby player Tony O’Reilly. He says he wants to make Cork “one of the most prosperous cities in Europe”. La Vanguardia says —

In the past, oil deposits were found in the Irish Sea, but their high exploitation costs made them unprofitable. The situation today is much more favourable because of the development of cheaper extraction techniques, the rise in the price of petrol and the low taxes on foreign firms investing in Ireland (the country has the lowest corporate tax rate in Europe, a constant source of friction with Brussels). Cork, the European headquarters for Apple and the site of US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer’s Viagra factory hopes to move to the next level and join the major league economic and financial big hitters. It hopes to become to Ireland what Aberdeen has become to Scotland and that the petrol from the Irish Sea will provide the same benefits as that provided by the North Sea. With [global] oil use reaching 88 million barrels per day and with a thirst for it so insatiable that environmental considerations are unable to quench it, this is not just wishful thinking.

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

Italy: Undertaker Providing Muslim Funeral Services Opens in Padua

Business caters to growing Islamic population in Italy

(ANSA) — Padua, January 4 — Muslims living in northern Italy now have easier access to funeral services that comply with the Islamic rite following the opening of a dedicated undertaker in Padua. Albakii — named after the cemetery at the holy city of Medina in Saudi Arabia — is the brainchild of Niam Abdessamed, 30, from Morocco. Some 12 months ago he abandoned a degree in engineering to set up the business and has since organised around 40 Muslim funerals and 4-5 burials, with the remaining deceased being expatriated for burial in their country of origin. Services are in keeping with the many rules laid down by the Koran concerning death and the burial of the Muslim faithful, including the importance of cleansing, scenting and covering the body and the importance of burying it as soon as possible.

There are currently only two dedicated burial places for Muslims in the northern Veneto region, in the cemeteries at Padua and Verona, and, despite a growing Muslim immigrant population, local undertakers are often unfamiliar with the Islamic funeral rite.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Milan Prosecutor Calls for 9-Year Prison Term for Politician

Prosecutor says Morelli closely linked to ‘Ndrangheta

(ANSA) — Milan, January 7 — Milan prosecutor Paolo Storari asked the court Monday for a nine-year prison sentence for a Calabrian politician accused of assisting the mafia.

The request for a nine-year prison term for Franco Morelli, former regional councillor for Calabria, comes during the trial involving the ‘Ndrangheta clan of Valle-Lampada.

The prosecution also asked for a six-year prison term for ex-magistrate Vincenzo Giuseppe Giglio, accused helping the gang.

Sentences of 15 years have been requested for alleged boss Giulio Lampada and nine others.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Soccer: Five More Ided for Racist Chants Against Ac Milan

Suspected of inciting racial hatred

(ANSA) — Milan, January 4 — Another five people were identified Friday as allegedly having taken part in the racist chants that caused AC Milan’s friendly at fourth-tier side Pro Patria to be abandoned.

Police said surveillance footage and testimony from another suspect cited Friday led to their identification.

Milan players walked off after racist jeers were directed at black players Kevin Prince Boateng, ‘Baye Niang, Urby Emanuelson and Sulley Muntari during Thursday’s match at Busto Arsizio, north of Milan.

The suspects, who are members of a group of Pro Patria fans, are being questioned for allegedly breaking a special Italian law against inciting racial hatred. Police said they were roughly 20 years old and were not right-wing extremists.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Court Rejects Berlusconi Claim of Bias Over Alimony Payment

Ex-premier called female panel of judges ‘feminist, Communist’

(see related story) (ANSA) — Milan, January 9 — Milan’s criminal courts on Wednesday rejected accusations from Silvio Berlusconi of bias in the ruling that saw the ex-premier ordered to pay 36 million euros a year in alimony to his estranged wife Veronica Lario.

Berlusconi said on Tuesday that the three-woman panel that decided on the figure as part of a divorce settlement were “feminist and Communist judges”.

The courts said in a statement that it “rejected with firmness any insinuation of bias” by the panel.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Letta Says Victorious PD Would Seek Monti’s Support

‘Monti is Bersani’s crutch’ Alfano responds

(ANSA) — Rome, January 9 — A victorious Democratic Party (PD) in next month’s election would ask outgoing premier Mario Monti to support a government under leader Pier Luigi Bersani, the deputy head of the PD said Wednesday. “We aim to win the election and after, we will ask …the centre to support the Bersani government,” said Enrico Letta.

The statement from the left-leaning PD was a surprise, given that Monti, running on his own pro-market reform ticket, has signalled he would not serve under Bersani after the February 24-25 election.

It also annoyed Angelino Alfano, secretary of the right-wing People of Freedom (PdL) party founded by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Alfano, who could stand as the party’s candidate for premier, claimed the statement indicated that Monti and the PD were working together, despite the outgoing premier’s insistence he is an alternative to the right and the left.

“It is official: Now Monti is Bersani’s crutch,” said Alfano.

“Thanks to the Democratic Party for clarity”.

The PD has a 15-point lead over the PdL with Monti 10 points behind in third, according to a rough aggregate of recent polls.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Says ‘Premature’ To Discuss Alliance With PD

PD says would offer room for Monti once it wins national vote

(ANSA) — Rome, January 9 — It is “premature” to speak of alliances with the center-left Democratic Party (PD), outgoing Premier Mario Monti said Wednesday.

His comments came only hours after PD secretary Pier Luigi Bersani suggested his party would open its doors to Monti after, as it hopes, the PD wins next month’s election.

“It seems premature to address this because I believe that we all have to take sides in the election campaign,” Monti said in a radio interview.

Monti, who took over a government of technocrats amid a peak in the euro crisis in November 2011, has been trying to present himself as a centrist alternative to the center-left PD and the center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party in the February 24-25 election.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

More Rapes in Belgium

This short item from Novopress reveals the increase in rapes in Belgium over a three year period:

Between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2011, 11,170 cases of rape were heard in the courts of Belgium. Heading the list: Brussels with 2,542 cases. Followed by Ghent, Liège, and Antwerp. All judicial districts registered a major increase of 20% last year.

On December 29, 2012, De Morgen (a Flemish daily of Socialist leanings) indicated:

“Every week fifty-six rapes and five gang rapes take place in Belgium. Hardly four percent of the perpetrators are prosecuted and convicted.”

The real figures are worse since some victims do not have the courage to file a complaint.

Some of the DNA evidence from the rapists is never analyzed due to lack of financial means.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Norway: Anger as Police Drop Breivik Response Probe

The family of a teenager killed by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik reacted angrily on Friday after a probe into police’s slow response to the July 2011 twin attacks was dropped.

“Apparently, no one will ever learn from the grave mistakes that were made on July 22nd, not the police nor anyone else,” lamented Alf Vederhus who lost his son Haavard in Breivik’s mass shooting on the island of Utøya.

The Norwegian police’s internal affairs unit said in a statement on Thursday that while there were serious shortcomings in the police’s response, it had dropped its investigation into complaints filed by the families of two victims because there was no evidence police had broken the law.

“I think internal affairs looked too lightly on the mistakes that were made,” Vederhus told the daily Dagsavisen.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sicily Blocks Construction of US Defense Satellite Base

Protestors clash with police as construction ‘rushed’

(ANSA) — Palermo, January 11 — The region of Sicily on Friday moved to suspend US defense plans to construct a satellite communications system on the Italian island after activists blocked construction crews. The move, announced by Sicily Governor Rosario Crocetta, came after protestors blocked trucks and cranes overnight in the town of Niscemi and later clashed with police near an American military base. Builders at the site, which is part of a global satellite defense network called the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), had allegedly rushed construction in recent days, according to the Sicily governor.

“The regional government finds this sudden rush to complete the project truly extraordinary,” said Crocetta. Opponents to the project say it will be an environmental nuisance and threatens world peace. Other bases participating in MUOS are in Australia, Hawaii and Virginia.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Slovenia: Bad Investments, Fears Over Croatia’s Competition

With EU membership in July, Zagreb could obscure Ljubljana

(ANSAmed) — Ljubljana, January 8 — Media in Ljubljana are raising fears that Croatia could become more attractive for investors than Slovenia after it becomes a full EU member on July 1. Slovenia is already suffering from a drastic reduction of foreign investments due to the crisis.

Starting next summer, Slovenia will not be the only western Balkan country to be a European Union member, a position it has skilfully used since 2004 as a ‘bridge’ for investors in the former Yugoslav republics. Croatia could however become the region’s new star, financial daily Finance reports, not only for the new EU membership but also due to a more favourable general climate. The paper reported that, in spite of the many difficulties, investments in Croatia are carried out more quickly and in a more ambitious way thanks to tax incentives in industrial areas and a good cooperation between the central bureaucracy and local institutions — while the same cannot be said for Slovenia.

The most significant example cited is the beginning of construction work in one of the largest Ikea stores near Zagreb, an investment worth at least 100 million euros. The Swedish group has said for years it wants to open a similar establishment in Slovenia but has so far failed to do so, reportedly for the high prices of the land where it could build the mall near Ljubljana. Croatia for its part is building new roads around the Ikea store to attract a wider clientele and will even move by some kilometres toll booths at its own expense.

Meanwhile low cost airline Ryanair, which cancelled connections with the airports of Ljubljana and Maribor, has announced it intends to create its 54th base in Europe in Zara, Dalmatia, investing almost 70 million euros.

According to the president of the Slovenian business association, Samo Hribar Milcic, ‘Slovenia is less and less attractive for foreign investors and increasingly less competitive’. Since reaching independence in 1991, the country has registered a total of 12 billion euros in direct investments, 49% from Austria. Although Germany, Italy and France are its three main commercial partners, not many investments have come from these countries. Before the crisis, the most interesting sector for foreigners were banks, now in great difficulty, while little capital was invested in industrial production.

The conservative government has said it believes the only investments on which the country will be able to count in the next few years will be foreign, alongside the transfer of European structural funds. This is why it has approved a gradual plan to reduce taxation on incomes, which should decrease from the 20% of few years ago to 15% in 2015. The cabinet is also planning to liberalize the labour market which is currently not very flexible and high cost compared to neighbouring countries like Croatia in another issue making Slovenia less attractive to investors.

A number of privatizations have also been announced and should concern the national Telekom, oil company Petrol and some of the largest banks.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: Catalonia Prepares ‘New EU State’

CiU and ERC draft act to be approved by regional parliament

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — Ciu and Erc, the two majority parties in Catalonia’s government, have drafted a declaration on the region’s sovereignty expressing the ‘will’ to exercise the right to decide to create a new sovereign state within the European Union. The three-page document is scheduled for a vote on January 23 at the regional parliament and has been handed over only to majority groups. The text states the ‘democratic sovereignty of Catalonia as a political and judicial subject’ and asks its legitimization through a referendum’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Black Teenager Punches Woman After She Calls Him a ‘Smelly Nigerian’ In Latest Shocking Racist Footage Filmed on the Tube

This is the shocking moment a furious mixed-race teenager tried to hit a woman on the Tube after she made a racist remark.

The mobile phone footage posted on YouTube yesterday is entitled ‘Racist Woman On London Train Gets What She Deserves!’

It begins a short way into their argument — after the 19-year-old aspiring recording artist had apparently stepped on the woman’s shoe.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Don’t Worry Folks — Accused Terrorist Back at Work as a Postie

Birmingham — A Royal Mail worker has been allowed to return to work despite facing terrorism charges, a court heard. Mohammed Benares, 44, is accused of having documents which could have help terrorists carry out an attack. He was suspended from his Royal Mail job after his arrest under terrorism legislation, but has now been allowed to return to work, Westminster Magistrates Court heard. ‘He currently works for Royal Mail and when we were last here he had been suspended,’ said Ghulam Sohail, defending.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Enough to Make You Shudder! Temperatures Set for Sudden Plunge to Minus 10c… As Average Heating Bill for the Elderly Soars to £1,350

Pensioners will suffer a double blow today with the arrival of freezing weather and news that their energy bills have doubled in seven years.

Forecasters say temperatures could plummet as low as minus 10C over the next few days with snow in many parts.

The cold snap will put huge pressure on the elderly who are increasingly fearful of turning up their heating because of the soaring cost.

The average gas and electricity bill for the over-65s reached £1,356 last year — more than double the figure of £669 seen in 2005.

Pensioners were forced to find £17.4billion to stay warm and keep the lights on in 2012.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Fishermead ‘Drug Turf’ Shootings: Teenagers’ Murderers Convicted

Two men have been convicted of murdering two teenagers who were shot in a “drug turf” row in Milton Keynes.

Mohammed Abdi Farah, 19, and Amin Ahmed Ismail, 18, were killed in an alley on the Fishermead Estate on 26 May 2011.

Fuad Awale, 25, of no fixed address, and Sharmake Abdulkadir, 22, were found guilty. Yahya Harun, 22, was cleared.

The teenagers were shot after Mr Farah gave away Awale’s cannabis, jurors at Luton Crown Court heard. The two killers will be sentenced on Friday.

Abdulkadir, of The Fleet, Springfield, Milton Keynes, was also found guilty of possessing of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Jimmy Savile Scandal: Report Reveals Extent of Abuse

Children as young as eight were abused by Jimmy Savile, a report detailing 50 years of allegations has revealed.

The Met Police and NSPCC outlined offences at 13 hospitals, including Great Ormond Street in London and Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds.

Some 214 crimes were recorded across 28 police force areas, including 34 of rape or penetration, the report said.

The CPS apologised for missing the opportunity to prosecute Savile in 2009, while he was still alive.

Police said the victims’ accounts painted a “compelling picture of widespread sexual abuse by a predatory sex offender,” and Cdr Peter Spindler, who is leading the abuse probe, said Savile had “groomed the nation”.

David Cameron’s official spokesman said it was “absolutely right that every institution involved gets to the bottom of what has gone on”.

The former BBC presenter and Radio 1 DJ died aged 84 in October 2011, a year before the allegations emerged in an ITV documentary.

Revelations that Savile had sexually abused children prompted hundreds of victims to come forward, including those who said they were attacked on BBC premises and a number of other institutions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: MPs Call for ‘32% Salary Increase’

MPs have suggested a 32% increases in their pay to the Commons expenses watchdog, it has been revealed.

Members said they deserved an £86,250 salary in an anonymous survey conducted by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

The research also found more than a third thought they should keep final-salary pensions.

The findings emerged as Ipsa published a report on its initial consultation into pay and pensions.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: More Than 1,000 Women Suffer Sex Attack Every Day, Report Says

More than 1,000 women suffered a sexual assault every day last year — but only one in 88 rape claims resulted in a conviction, a report said yesterday.

One in five women has been a victim of sexual assault since the age of 16, with almost half a million adult females in England and Wales preyed upon every year, the study revealed.

While most of the 400,000 female victims were subject to unwanted touching and indecent exposure, one in every 200 women was a victim of rape or another serious sexual assault.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Man Convicted of Raping Woman as She Slept

A FATHER-OF-FOUR convicted of raping a woman as she slept has been jailed for four years.

Kirpal Singh, 34, of Great Western Lane in Barton Hill, was arrested in April last year following an incident in which a 32-year-old woman was raped as she was sleeping in a bed.

On April 13 last year, the victim had gone out in Bristol with friends for dinner and drinks, Bristol Crown Court heard.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: New Year Attack at Railway Station

A MAN on his way out to celebrate New Year’s Eve was confronted by a group of Asian youths as he walked through Blackburn Railway Station and was then assaulted by one of them.

Blackburn magistrates heard Luke O’Neill was repeatedly punched about the head and face as the rest of the gang stood by laughing.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to assault.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Planning Minister Challenges National Trust Boss in Furious Row Over Housebuilding Plans

Planning Minister Nick Boles is locked in a furious row with the head of the National Trust — after accusing him of selfishly campaigning against new housing while owning ‘at least’ two homes himself.

In a highly personal clash on BBC Two’s Newsnight programme, Mr Boles repeatedly challenged Sir Simon Jenkins to say how many properties he owns.

It comes as the government stepped up its rhetoric on the need to accelerate housebuilding on green fields.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Video: The Feral Kids Who Terrorise Our Streets: A-Level Students Filming Skating Video Are ‘Jumped’ By Foul-Mouthed Gang of Eight-Year-Old Thieves

A shocking video showing the moment a gang of foul-mouthed children aged just eight threaten and chase two teenagers through a shopping precinct has emerged.

The distressing footage shows the students being sworn at, chased, pushed, punched and kicked at by the gang of little tearaways.

One of the pint-sized yobs can be heard to say: ‘Stop pointing it (the camera) at me or I will smash it. We’ll follow you.

When one of the A-level students then asks them how old they are, one boy replies: ‘I’m eight you f****** t***.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: While Woman’s Car Was Torched Police Trawled Her Laptop for Evidence of Facebook Cybercrime

When Lesley Ross’s car was stolen she reported the theft to the police but didn’t hold out much hope of them finding it. So she decided to turn detective herself.

Her boyfriend took to the streets of Aberdeen in search of the top-of-the-range Audi and Lesley went on Facebook to appeal for help.

Soon, sightings were flooding in every 15 minutes. The Audi was still in the city and one report had it being followed by a police car.

Lesley kept up a running commentary online.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

White Britons Are Now a Minority in Leicester, Luton and Slough and Birmingham is Set to Follow by End of Decade

Three towns and cities have joined London in having a minority white British population.

Researchers say more than 50 per cent of people living in Leicester, Luton and Slough are either foreign or from an ethnic minority.

Birmingham is expected to have a similar make-up by 2020.

London has already been shown to have a white British population of only 45 per cent.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Antiquities Minister, Visits to Museum Plummet

“We need foreign investment to relaunch monuments’ restoration”

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 10 — Two years on from the revolution and Egypt’s monuments are in need of a massive effort of maintenance and its tourism industry is in a state of downward spiral. Egypt’s Minister of State for Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, has called the situation ‘critical’ and said that his department is making mammoth efforts to overcome an unprecedented collapse in revenue. Plans are being made to open new sites and to relaunch restoration projects with international backing. But is big exhibitions abroad that are the “best ambassadors for this country”, Ibrahim told local publication Al Ahram Hebdo. Only a few months before the 2010 revolution proceeds from museum tickets sales in Egypt totaled 1.6 million euro. In November 2012 they had shrunk to 450,000 euro.

In Alexandria, “the national museum pulls in a little less than 300 Egyptian pounds, or 35 euro a day in tickets sale, while the Egyptian Museum in Cairo last year sold 550 tickets a day.” In the heyday of Egyptian tourism the museum attracted 6,000 visitors a day. “We’re working day and night to improve our country’s image”, said Ibrahim.

“In recent months we’ve opened several new sites such as the Temple of Hibis in the Kharga Oasi, and the tomb of Merenptah in the Valley of the Kings”.

“Other openings scheduled between January and March include the temple of Qasr Al-Agouz — also in the Valley of the Kings, and a huge restoration project on the Islamic monuments of Bab al Wazir in Cairo”. The Avenue of the Sphinxes in Luxor has been re-opened to the tune of 19 million euro. And the Suez Museum is set to open its doors to the public soon. Both Ibrahim and Egypt’s Premier Mohamed Morsi are counting on foreign investment to help pull the country out of economic crisis. “At the moment we can handle simple jobs like cleaning and painting. But to green-light large projects we’re relying on foreign investment”, Ibrahim said. But degradation is rife. The Muez road, which sits behind Cairo’s ancient souks was restored well before January 2011. Two years after the revolution, it is in tatters.

“Cars and motorbikes wind up and down. Streetlights are smashed, and bollards broken.” “Because of this residents have formed committees to protect tourists and help clean up the area”. ßAsked if the the return of Islam in power could have had an effect on the collapse of tourism, Ibrahim replied, “I don’t think so. If Egypt returns to stability, tourists will come back”.

Egyptian exhibitions abroad — such as an ongoing Tutankhamun exhibition in Japan, are the country’s trump card. Even in a time of crisis, many Japanese tourists have been persuaded to visit Egypt.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Libya: El-Mansuri: Italy and Its Investors Are Nearest to Us

Head of Development Consultancy Group(Abc), economy is promising

(ANSAmed) — Rome, January 10 — The current situation of Libyan economy is very promising in the energy sector as well as for European and Italian investors, Abdulmagid El-Mansuri, chairman of the Libyan Economic Development Consultancy Corp (Abc). “Concerning oil & gas, we are back to our old production capacity before the war, and NOC (Lybia’s national oil agency) is starting soon to open bidding for granting exploration concessions”, El-Mansuri said in an interview to ANSAmed. With regard to trade, Libya is also doing well “and market is recovering as government represented in the ministry of economy is facilitating procedures for Libyan private sector importers and exporters and supporting the role of the private sector” to facilitate foreign private investors. The interim Government in Libya, he added, “is working hard on deploying security on the ground”, starting by paying attention to the borders of Lybian economy and their security, in order to prepare the ground for European investment projects.

El-Mansuri estimates that a serious start to joint-venture and international investment projects will not begin before late in the last third of 2014, “as by then the approval of the constitution will be accomplished, as well as the election of the first president and the establishment of a permanent government”. The Libyan Economic Development Consultancy Corporation (ABC) “is the leader in its field in Libya thanks to its unique Advisory Board with members of international level, like former Italian minister Gianni De Michelis, who is now the chairman of Ipalmo (Istituto Italiano per le relazioni con i Paesi dell’Africa, America Latina, Medio ed Estremo Oriente).

“We in ABC believe strongly that Italy is the nearest to Libya”, El-Mansuri said, and “we are soon going to propose to Italy and Libya to establishing a mutual investment bank, that will finance JV investment projects of private companies working on the Mediterranean sea wealth’s (fishing etc) and in wider Africa as well”. “Other than legal, economic, banking, financial, companies incorporation, projects guidance services, ABC will also help, advise and guide the Italian companies willing to invest in Libya. We are starting a new service of due diligence which is becoming more important after the war: for example, whenever we are asked by serious Italian clients, we will give a certificate under our responsibility about any prospected Libyan partner/representative agent or about land ot buildinf ownership”.

Asked about the the National congress order to close the borders with neighbouring countries, such a closure is “a temporary one” for the sake of the security of security of an area of almost a 1,775,000 square km, otherwise endangered by fighting, smuggling of illegal immigrants, weapons, and drugs, he answered.

Finally, with regard to Italy, “Italy is already prior partner as almost 40% of our oil & gas transaction is with Italy”, El-Mansuri underlined. Besides,”thanks to the role Italy played in supporting the Nov17th’s revolution, it will be entitled to an important role in the economic sector as well, especially if companies and business men & women can avoid the army of crooks(mediators)from both countries who played a bad role in the past”. “Italian companies and their counterpart should deal directly together and avoid the mediators who may sometimes damage economic relations”. “I’m so optimistic for a viable economic incorporation among the Italian-Libyan entrepreneurs expressing that ABC will do all may be helping such incorporation”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iraq: Mgr Sako: Torn and Violent, Iraq is in an “Arab Winter” For Christians and Muslims

The archbishop of Kirkuk slams the use of religion for “political purposes” and the danger of sectarian division of the country. Ten years after the fall of Saddam, the situation is worse and people are “disheartened”. He calls on the Church and the next patriarch to be sources of unity, dialogue and a guarantee for the Christian presence in the Middle East.

Rome (AsiaNews) — In Iraq, religion plays an essential role but is used for “political purposes”. Following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, a “sectarian mindset” has set in, pushing communal identity over national unity, this according to Mgr Louis Sako, who spoke to AsiaNews in a long interview about the recent history of Iraq, the Middle East and his country’s Christians.

Almost ten years have passed since the country was invaded (March 2003) and its old strongman overthrown. Sadly, democracy, equal rights and freedom are “dreams” and people are “disheartened”, said the archbishop of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, a key battleground between the central government and Kurdish separatists over oil.

The Christian community has been touched by violence in recent days. On Monday, a Christian woman was killed during a robbery, her throat cut. The next day, a car bomb killed a Christian medical student on his last year of studies.

Both events are connected to the country’s tense situation, with Sunnis and Shias divided by religion and Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen vying for power. For Muslim intellectuals and Christians, this is an “Arab winter,” the prelate said.

A new patriarch (to be elected in late January in Rome) will be a key figure, “father and pastor,” Mgr Sako said, with important tasks to fulfil and reforms to implement.

Mgr Sako’s interview with AsiaNews follows:

Your Excellency, two Christians were recently killed in Mosul. The current situation reminds us of the dark period in 2004-2006. How are things now?

Iraq is home to various ethnic, religious and linguistic groups: Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims.

This has been a constant headache for Iraqi leaders who appear powerless to solve the country’s problems. After various referendums and elections, handing out positions has led to bickering among them.

Protests, demonstrations and rallies are up. Threats and violence have created an institutional vacuum filled by criminal groups and extremists and this has made matters worse.

At present, no solution appears to be at hand. In fact, political and ethnic divisions seem to be getting worse. Sunni Arabs accuse Shias and Kurds of violating their rights. Turkmen appear marginalised by everyone. Christians feel persecuted.

Ten years since Saddam Hussein’s fall, the country seems worse off, even for Christians. Will things get better?

The current government has spent the past ten months trying to get its act together, and had not yet done it. The cabinet wants to do something, but others do not want to help it. A tribal mindset prevails in which everyone wants to be the chief (sheikh). A power struggle is taking place, without any clear goal. Change must come through dialogue and talks, not violence and disorder.

Religion here plays a crucial role and is used for political reasons. Secular political leaders go to the mosque, wear the traditional dress and recite the verses of the Qur’an. Laws, institutions and the constitution are seen in different ways and are a source of conflict.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, sectarianism and confessional divisions drove Shias, Sunnis, Christians, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen apart. One’s identity was more important than that of the nation. Brother was against brother.

Our fear is that the country might be divided into enclaves. President Jalal Talabani’s illness and the influence of other countries in the region are making matters worse. Each group wants to impose its own agenda without taking into account the interests of others. In the countries of the Arab spring, democracy and freedom appear like a dream that will take a long time to realise. We are really disheartened!

How are rulers responding to the people?

Given the situation, ordinary Iraqis and leaders are disheartened. Starting on the path of reconciliation, of exchange towards forgiveness, is not possible.

The mindset that pushes towards vengeance is stronger than the law and legalities. Political and community leaders have no overall plan for the country’s development. Regional conflicts, power struggles and a strong political Islam mean that open and pluralistic political life, in which everyone is truly equal, is improbable.

Meanwhile the danger of Iraq’s division grows. As one of the country’s “glue”, what role can Christians play?

Partition remains a strong possibility, one that is getting stronger given the situation in Syria and Egypt. Independent political leaders do not exist. Religious and ethnic parties pursue their own interests and autonomy. The situation has been complicated by the militias.

Christians are dwindling in numbers as the exodus continues for various reasons. The Church does nothing and Christian political parties have failed in helping Christians remain, despite the possibility of making their voice heard, influence and build bridges with the other components of the nation because of their high educational levels.

Neither the Church nor Christian politicians have a real vision, a clear and detailed plan or concrete answers. Increasingly, Christians are dejected as is the rest of the population. We are disheartened! Religious freedom is not equally protected. There is a state religion in Iraq and around the region; the others are “tolerated” in the worst sense of the term.

Oil, a valuable good, causes conflict rather being a collective good . . .

Iraq is not only rich in oil but also in water, land, and could attract tourists. Under the old regime, money went to buy weapons. Now the nation is poor and the public good is not respected. People are tired and a general malaise has enfeebled the nation.

Where is Iraq in the Mideast context? What is left of the Arab spring?

The US and Western plans for the Middle East explain the situation, I think. The goal of these plans is to divide us along ethnic and religious lines. And the countries of the region are driving this project in accordance with their own specific interests.

In Syria, where it is a question of life and death, the conflict is between Sunnis and Alawis. Sadly, the West is making matters worse rather than helping. By backing the opposition, it is preventing a political solution involving all the parties to the conflict. Christians and Muslim intellectuals are in an “Arab winter”, not the much vaunted spring!

Your Excellency, how is the Church of Iraq preparing for the election of a new patriarch? What will the future have in store for you in light of the Synod and Benedict XVI’S Ecclesia in Medio oriente?

We, clergy and faithful, are praying for a patriarch that is father and pastor to everyone, Christians and non Christians. We want a man who is open and ecumenical; someone who knows how to engage in dialogue, courageous and capable of doing the right thing, like liturgical, pastoral and spiritual reforms to train the clergy.

We want someone who unites and does not divide; someone who brings together and does not drive apart; someone who knows the country’s situation and politics in the centre and in Kurdistan, someone who is aware of the challenges.

We want someone who will seek real solutions with all men of good will, someone who will work with other Middle Eastern Churches and fulfil the Apostolic Exhortation ‘The Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness’ for a better future for all.

The Holy See has a crucial role to play in all this, especially in ensuring that Christians can stay in their own country and keep their place. Card Leonardo Sandri’s visit to Iraq and Egypt is part of this. As for us, we are waiting confident in the Holy Spirit.

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

Syria: NGO: Military Airport in North Seized by Jihadists

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, JANUARY 11 — The military airport of Taftanaz in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, was seized on Friday by opposition fighters including the Al Nusra Front after days of battle, according to the Syrian National Observatory for human Rights (Ondus). Taftanaz is the first military airport to be taken by rebels.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syria: Israel Walls Itself in, Close Eye on Chemical Weapons

‘War uncertain, risk of no man’s land’, high-ranking official

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JANUARY 11 — Faced with the brutal civil war tearing Syria apart for the past two years, Israel prefers to stay on the sidelines. At the same time, though, it is forced to keep a close eye on the latest developments in the conflict — developments which often take its own secret services by surprise.

“Our main headache,” a high-ranking military source told ANSA, “are the tonnes of chemical weapons. Who is looking after them? Who controls them? Syria also possesses some of the most advanced Russian anti-aircraft missiles and sophisticated land-to-sea missiles.” This is a conflict in which Israel is not “rooting” for anyone. On one side is the “Axis of Evil”: the predominantly Shia alliance between Iran, Hezbollah and Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. On the other is a muddle of rebel forces — noted the source — including “great Syrians, patriots fighting for their country”, but also “jihadists” coming from all corners of the world. Among the latter are Al Qaeda elements, who Israeli lookouts — he added — can see with the naked eye from the Golan Heights (occupied by Israel since 1967).

From his office in the stately Tel Aviv Defence Ministry, the high-ranking official is not able to discern which side is winning in Syria (“the situation changes from one day to the next”). Nor does he feel he can make any predictions as concerns how the conflict will end. “We know that Assad is determined to fight, and that he has enough funds to pay salaries.” Assad’s weak point, however, are the Army’s Sunni units, which after so many massacres of Sunnis might revolt against him.

He noted that “the war could drag on even for years, unless the rebels find a way to kill Assad.” On the basis of other similar situations(Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, the Egyptian Sinai), Egypt feels that beyond the Golan Heights (disputed, but calm for the past 30 years), a no man’s land is being created where terrorism could prosper. Like in the Sinai, where armed groups are spreading that have ties with Al Qaeda, similar scenarios are beginning to be seen near the border fence with Syria. Israel’s military presence has already been boosted, but now the country feels it is necessary to rapidly put up a 100-kilometre barricade similar to the 230-kilometre one recently completed along the border with Egypt.

In a Middle East where Shia Islam is facing off against its Sunni counterpart, where nations imposed 100 years ago by colonial powers are being shaken to their very foundations and countries like Iran, Turkey and Egypt are once against dreaming of hegemonic region-wide projects, Israel (claims the source) does not feel the time is ripe to step into the fray. It is therefore staying out of it by barricading itself in.

In any case, Syria’s chemical arsenals (“for the time being they are still in military hands”) and the modern Russian missiles might prove tantalizing to many: for example, the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah, sworn enemy of the “Zionist entity”. “And this is a development that Israel could not accept.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UAE: Dubai Aiming to be Islamic Finance Capital

Six-point strategy ready before summer

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, JANUARY 10 — Becoming the capital of Islamic finance is Dubai’s latest ambition, announced loud and clear in a presentation in which UAE leaders and high-ranking figures in the business and financial worlds took part.

A commission chaired by heir prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad Al Maktum will be drawing up a six-point list to be developed into a strategic platform, which will then be completed within the next six months.

“I am very optimistic,” Sheikh Hamdan said. “Dubai has enough experience, excellent infrastructure and a strategic geographic position in the heart of the Islamic world.” Some of the key points to be developed are the creation of a Koranic Council to verify Islamic finance standards, a centre of arbitration to resolve disputes arising from Islamic contracts and a promotional programme for halal (i.e. prepared and packaged according to Islamic precepts) food. What Dubai has set out to do is not impossible. The emirate — which is likely to clip the wings of a similar ambition voiced by its neighbour, Bahrain — is already starting from a good position. It has the third nation in the world in terms of volume of Islamic assets at 75 billion dollars. The first is Saudi Arabia with 207 billion dollars and the second Malaysia, with 106 billion dollars. Islamic finance has a turnover of 2.3 billion billion dollars worldwide, a reflection of the fast-growing world community of 1.6 billion Muslims. Beyond the figures themselves, the outlook for future growth is also solid: Ernst & Young has estimated that Islamic bank assets will top 1.8 billion billion dollars this year, compared with the 1.3 seen in 2011. Oil-rich Gulf countries are among the economies in which Islamic finance has branched out the most, and especially so in five sectors: banking, finance, tourism, insurance and food. In 2012 sales of Islamic sukuk bonds were at 21.2 billion dollars in the region. Given this context, “the integration of traditional and Islamic economic and financial activities will strengthen Dubai as economic capital,” said Sheikh Mohammad Al Maktum, claiming that the new strategy will not compromise the principles of openness to the free market, and that it will stimulate the entire business community of the Arab world.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Catholics in Bangladesh Hit by Land Expropriation and Forced Conversions to Islam

A Jesuit, professor at the major seminary in Dhaka, explains the difficulties of the Christians and Catholics, often plagued by extreme poverty. Conversion to Islam for marriage increasingly widespread. In the era of communication and globalization, it is urgent to focus on young people.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) — Expropriation of land, conversion to Islam, deeper religious formation: these are some of the challenges that the Church in Bangladesh faces day after day. In an interview with AsiaNews, Fr. John Chinnappan SJ, professor of philosophy and theology at Holy Spirit Major Seminary in Dhaka, speaks of the problems of the Christian community, a minority of just 0.3% compared with 90% Muslim majority. The teacher engaged in social interaction and communications, describes a small church in number, but “vibrant in faith,” which, however, must act more forcefully in the field of justice and human rights. Below the Jesuit’s interview with AsiaNews.

What are the challenges facing the Church in Bangladesh?

Overall, the Church in Bangladesh is a minority. Despite this, it has a vibrant in faith. The Gospel of Jesus is rooted in the lives of Christians. In addition, it is a devoted church. Since the 15th century, with the evangelization of the Portuguese and European missionaries, there have been many expressions of faith through religious movements and associations, which have added vigor and vitality to the Church.

One of the greatest challenges for the Church is the issue of land. Most of the Christians are losing their possessions, which end up in the hands of others (mostly Muslim). In many cases, Christians have sold land in order for their children to study in big cities or abroad. Usually, when a family member moves, they do not return to their native land. In these cases, the family sells the properties and joins the relative abroad.

The Rohingya Muslims are another challenge, because they are always ready to buy the lands of the Christians. In addition, many villagers flock to Dhaka for various reasons. First, because there is more money in the capital, whereas in rural areas poverty is absolute. Thus, internal migration is rampant, but it is also growing towards other countries. My fear is that one day the majority of Christians in Bangladesh will find themselves without land, if the Church and civil society do not intervene as soon as possible.

So far, what the Church has done to resolve this situation?

Efforts have been minimal. Almost no priest or religious is committed to justice and human rights. I know of Fr. Joseph Gomes, Omi, director of the Committee on Justice, Peace and Integration of Creation (JPIC) of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

In my opinion, there is a great need to help people to defend their lands. They must be educated about what how valuable it is for their lives and their livelihoods. Members of the majority community [Muslims, ed] take possession of the land of the Christians taking advantage of their poverty and their minority status. Tribal Christians are even more fragile, loosing their lands to non-Christians. So, in both the cases, Christians are on the ‘losing side.’

Concerted efforts and collective approaches have to be taken by church authorities. Otherwise, the land issue is going to be a ‘big problem’, along with other complex aspects of Bangladesh society. We are aware that it is a risky issue. The Church does not want to risk intervening in this matter. The main reasons is that church is basically centered on ‘clericalism’. However, according to me, one of the most pressing needs today is faith education and faith formation for all, notably, the youth, who need prime focus in this age of communication and globalization.

Why do you feel a greater focus is needed on youth?

My observation is that many Catholic young boys and girls are being educated growing and living with majority Muslims. There are incidents that Catholic educated girls are getting married to educated young Muslims as they do not find many suitable or educated young Catholic boys. In this way, Catholic girls become Muslims upon their marriage. On the other hand, many Catholic educated youth get married to educated Muslim young girls. In this case too, Catholic boys become Muslims after their marriage. This is a big challenge as many Catholic youth convert to Islam on account of marrying a Muslim partner.

Can you mention at least one area where the Church has made an important contribution?

One of the best contributions of the Church to society is none other than “The Christian Co-operative Credit Union Ltd., Dhaka (in brief Dhaka Credit), Bangladesh”. Let me explain. In the early fifties, the Christian Community in Dhaka City was facing a severe economic crisis. Many were forced to borrow heavily from landlords or moneylenders who charged an exorbitant rate of interest on loans (10% monthly rate of interest). It was a precarious process. In order to improve the economic life of Christians, an American priest Fr. Charles J. Young, inspired by Archbishop Lawrence L. Graner CSC, founded the Christian Co-operative Credit Union Ltd., on July 03, 1955. What started with only 50 founding members in 1955, now it has become one of the biggest Cooperative Societies in Bangladesh in terms of membership as well as capital.

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

Latin America

Honduras Ambassador Forced to Resign Over Orgy in Colombia

(AGI) Tegucigalpa, Jan 5 — Honduras was forced to demand a resignation from its ambassador to Colombia after the ambassador’s closest advisor allegedly organized an orgy in Honduras’s embassy in Bogota on December 20. Local media reported that prostitutes were hired for the party, the building was damaged, and cell-phones and lap-tops were also stolen. Ambassador Carlos Rodriguez therefore resigned at the government’s request.

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


Apartheid in Italy? A Sicilian City’s Proposal for Immigrant-Only Buses

After Pretoria until 1993, and Alabama through the early 1960’s, the Italian city of Trapani has discovered Apartheid in 2013.

The cold bureaucratic language of Trapani City Council member Andrea Vassalo leaves little room for doubts: the head of the council’s urban territory commission cited the “frequent complaints of the indigenous” (using exactly that word, indigenous) who are tired of sharing buses with immigrants going from the city center to the outlying district of Salinagrande, where there is a reception center for asylum seekers.

And so a transport service in Trapani exclusively dedicated to immigrants has been proposed for the city on the west coast of the island of Sicily. The bus would be “checked and controlled by police, in order to avoid dangers to law and order which unfortunately may arise.”

Ninni Passalacqua, another city council member, lashed out at the proposal: “We cannot think of alternative routes, we cannot think of Apartheid.”

The National Secretary of CGIL, Italy’s largest labor union, Mimma Argurio also was critical: “Rather than thinking of creating separatism, the council member should reflect on the plight of the migrants, implement integration policies and fight alongside the unions against unscrupulous employers who exploit them in the fields all day with scant protections and low wages.”

The problem regarding the coexistence between “indigenous” and immigrants on the bus, according to some local passengers, is that the bus that goes to Salinagrande is often full of people going to the reception center, some of whom “get drunk and disturb.”

Now the problem has landed in front of the city council’s urban territory committee, presided over by Vassallo. After local backlash, the politician is now backtracking. “I was misunderstood,” he said. “I didn’t want to propose a line for just black people. I did not use the word ‘black’ at all.”

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

Indian Christian Calls on Saudi Arabia to Recognise Migrants’ Religious Rights

Detained and arrested in 2004 on false proselytising charges, Brian O’Connor appeals for openness. In his view, granting religious rights to non-Muslims would be a “positive change” for the country. A study by the Centre for Development Studies indicates that the children of Indian migrants “grow up confused,” which may manifest itself “in rebellion, school absenteeism, drop-outs and substance abuse”.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — “Saudi Arabia should grant Christian migrants religious freedom as well as the right to build churches in the country. The public value of religion must be recognised as every human being’s right to self-fulfilment,” said Brian O’Connor in an appeal made through AsiaNews.

In 2004, the Christian from India was held in a Saudi jail, in chains, tortured for seven months and seven days for alleged proselytising. Released after an international campaign on his behalf to which AsiaNews participated, he said that “recognising this right would be a positive change for the whole country.”

In a country that does not recognise or protect any religion other than Islam, “Indian migrants worship in the privacy of their homes,” O’Connor said. “However, they are often victims of raids and arrests by the Muttawa, the religious police. It is urgent and essential that Indian Christians and Hindus, as well as other non-Muslim migrants be granted the right to worship freely without discrimination and persecution.”

A new study, Migration Report 2013 — Social Cost of Migration, will be presented next Monday in Kochi (Kerala). Written by Irudayan Nayan, from the Centre for Development Studies, the paper was commissioned by the research unit on international migration of the Ministry of Overseas’ Indian Affairs. Its focus is on the Indian Diaspora in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

According to its findings, Saudi Arabia continues to be the desired destination among low- and semi-skilled workers from India. However, “In the absence of adequate parental guidance, children grow up confused and this may manifest itself in rebellion, school absenteeism, drop-outs and substance abuse”.

The most painful and tangible social cost of migration is in fact the separation of children from parents, the study found, adding that the absence of mothers, in particular, results in the breakdown of traditional care-giving arrangements.

In 2011, at least 289,297 Indians moved to Saudi Arabia seeking employment.

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

UK: Solicitors ‘Ran Immigration Scam Arranging Thousands of Sham Marriages by Submitting Touching Love Stories About Couples Who’D Only Just Met’

A law firm invented scores of ‘touching’ love stories about foreign couples to convince immigration authorities that their sham marriages were real, a court heard yesterday.

Solicitor Tevfick Souleiman and three immigration advisers working for him made ‘substantial’ sums by forging documents to hoodwink the UK Border Agency during the eight year scam, it was alleged.

Brides were flown into Britain from eastern European EU countries to marry non-EU citizens, giving the grooms rights to live and work in the UK, the Old Bailey was told.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Germany: Kids’ Classics Get a Politically Correct Makeover

A German publisher has plans to rerelease a classic children’s book — without the racist words found in the original. Experts are split on whether the past should be cleaned up, or preserved so it can be discussed.

“The Little Witch” is one of the many books that literary expert Andrea Weinmann, 49, read to her young son. The story by Otfried Preussler, who will be turning 90 this year, is one of the most popular children’s books in Germany.

Though “The Little Witch” first came out back in 1957, it still flies off the shelves; 50,000 copies are sold per year, according to its publisher, Thienemann.

In the story, the little witch’s biggest wish is to fly around the towering Blocksberg mountain with her broom. Carnival scenes are included in the tale, where the little protagonist encounters children in costumes.

As was not uncommon at the time, the children had dressed as people from different cultures, and the original text referred to them using terms like “negro” and “Eskimo girls.”

When she came to those passages, Andrea Weidmann would stop and explain to her young son that terms like these are no longer used because they are hurtful and incorrect.

Now, the Stuttgart-based Thienemann publishing house wants to issue a new version of Preussler’s classic — without the racist terminology.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Immigrant Mothers in Britain Could be Aborting Unwanted Girls, Ministers Admit After Study of Birth Rates

Illegal abortion of unwanted girls may be taking place in Britain’s immigrant communities, ministers have admitted for the first time.

Statistics show the ratio between the number of girls and boys born in the UK as a whole is normal, but among mothers of certain nationalities the differences ‘fall outside the range considered possible without intervention’.

Health Minister Earl Howe, pictured, said officials would continue to monitor gender ratios

He rejected a suggestion by Lord Alton, who campaigns against abortion, for officials to record the sex of aborted foetuses.

He said: ‘Identifying the gender of aborted foetuses over ten weeks’ gestation raises ethical and clinical issues. We have no plans to introduce such a practice.’

Lord Alton, a crossbench peer and former MP, said the fact that abortions had become ‘routine’ in Britain could be behind the emergence of sex-selective abortion.

‘Abortion has become so routine in Britain with 600 taking place every day that people have accepted the mantra that it’s just a matter of choice but that’s not what the law says,’ he told the Daily Telegraph. ‘There is a fundamental debate to take place here.’

Last year the newspaper exposed doctors who offered women abortions based on gender. The Crown Prosecution Service is considering bringing charges against three who were identified.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Worshiping at the Temple of the Vagina (Part II)

When last we spoke, we had established that there has been a great Schism in the Catholic Church. A coup, if you will; one shrouded in open secrecy. Let’s continue…

Today, the Vagina Temple and her ACS (Schismatic American Church) members are applauding an American government which has codified her peoples’ lack of principles and ungodly practices. From t-shirts and flip-flops as commonplace at Mass to the total abdication of our personal responsibilities to the government, the ACS’s focus on the people of God, their finances and more, in all their subjectivity, over the worship and adoration of a loving Father, an Omnipotent God; a God who seeks relationship and family. The crowning achievement of the ASC’s has been two-fold: the abolishment of the core of the First Amendment of the Constitution and the certainty of death for the unborn, the elderly and the infirm.

It is pretty obvious by everyone with a pulse that the Holy Catholic Church is suffering from the fruits of “compromise” and a steady decline in leadership over the past 100 years or more. The ‘real’ Church is smaller and shrinking every day.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Getting Murdered: Where in the World?

A couple of days ago I received an email from one of my correspondents, Shirley C. to be specific, and therein was a list of countries with murder rates greater than the U.S. Quite a few there were. But my curiosity was piqued, and I was sucked into another paroxysm of impulsive number crunching. Well, something to that effect. Here are the results.

First, there’s my reconstruction, reordering and summarizing of the murder rates from various regions of the world:…

[Return to headlines]