Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/4/2013

After being repeatedly pressured by his co-workers to convert to Islam, a Christian man in Pakistan was threatened and eventually murdered. When his family went to the police to seek justice, they refused to open an investigation.

In other news, Iran again insisted that it really did launch a monkey into space. It says the difference between the two photos of the monkey — which were quite dissimilar in appearance — was due to a mix-up with photographs at the country’s space agency.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Henrik Ræder Clausen, Insubria, JD, Jerry Gordon, JP, Kitman, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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

Financial Crisis
» 4 Retailers Likely to Close Stores This Year
» Gasoline Costs Take Biggest Share of Household Income in Three Decades
» Germans and Turks Eyeing Top Greek Hotels
» Italian Businessman Commits Suicide Over Failed Contract
» Italy: Prosecutors to Probe Central Bank, Consob in MPS Case
» Italy: Fitch Holds Monte Paschi Credit-Ratings Unchanged
» Italy: Saipem Stages Minor Comeback After Huge Losses Wednesday
» Italy: Prosecutors Seize 358,000 Euros at Branch of Troubled MPS
» Italy: Judge Rules Milan “Formidably Naive” On Derivatives
» Netherlands: SNS Reaal Nationalised, Shares Worthless
» Only Former MPS Management Probed, Italian Prosecutors Say
» S.&P. Says it Expects U.S. Civil Suit Over Mortgage Bond Ratings
» Arizona Sues U.S. EPA Over Coal Power Plant Emissions
» Bankrupt, Decaying and Nearly Dead: 24 Facts About the City of Detroit That Will Shock You
» Barry Gets His Gun and We All Have Fun
» Criminal Gangs ‘A Benefit to Society’
» Eight Reasons Why Water Fluoridation Has Failed Modern Civilization
» Hillary Clinton Bids the World Farewell, For Now
» Iraq War Veteran Charged With Murdering Author of “American Sniper”
» Jesse Jackson Pushes New ‘Occupy’ Plan: Have Homeland Security Occupy Chicago With Armed TSA Agents
» Medical Device Companies Suffer Deadly Obamacare Tax
» Menendez Saga: Prostitute Points to Wealthy Dominican Politician as Sex-Party Participant
» Mosque Hearing Back, School Survey Due This Week
» Murdered Navy Seal Was Obama Gun Control Foe
» Muslim Roulette
» National Life Without Guns is a Beautiful Thing, Isn’t it?
» No European Capitals Among Secretary Kerry’s First Contacts
» Oath Keepers Molon Labe Pledge
» Obamacare: A Deception
» Obama’s Corporate Jet Obsession
» Reuters Report Contradicts Obama ‘Skeet Shooting’ Photo
» Shooting Death of Navy Seal to be Blamed on All Vets!
» Sixty Mayors to Gang Up on Gun Companies Unless They Stop Defending Their Rights
» Standoff in Alabama Ends in Boy’s Rescue and Kidnapper’s Death
» Student Gets Suspended… for Picture of Gun
» Tech, Telecom Giants Take Sides as FCC Proposes Large Public Wifi Networks
» The Constitution? What’s That?
» Urge Ottawa Public Library to Rescind Platform for Anti-Muslim Speaker
Europe and the EU
» Catch These Men! Sixteen of Europe’s Most Wanted Criminals Are on the Run in the UK
» Elkann: Fiat’s Hard Choices to Stay in Italy
» EU to Set Up Euro-Election ‘Troll Patrol’ To Tackle Eurosceptic Surge
» Ex-Italian Secret Service Chief Acquitted of Illegal Spying
» Formulations of Radical Islam Found in Materials on Trial in Bulgaria’s Pzardzhik: Experts
» Italy: Court Drops Case Against Berlusconi Over Pulled RAI Show
» Italy: Promise to Scrap IMU ‘Nice Try’ To Buy Votes, Says Monti
» Italy: Berlusconi in Favour of a New Tax Pardon
» Italy: Turin Court Seizes 2.2 Mn Euros of Assets in Fraud Probe
» Italy: Vendola Compares Berlusconi to TV Occult Personality
» Italy: Financial Times Blames Berlusconi for Plunge in Markets
» Lights Out — France to Force Shops and Offices to Go Dark Overnight
» More in France Are Turning to Islam, Challenging a Nation’s Idea of Itself
» Netherlands: Support for Development Aid and Nuclear Power Continues to Shrink
» Scotland: Leigh Griffiths Charged Over Alleged Racist Tweet
» Taxes Saved Italy But It’s Time to Reduce Them, Says Monti
» Tenerife Beheading: Court Date for Jennifer Mills-Westley Suspect
» The Top Five Contributors to the EU Budget
» UK: Autism Risk of Drug Taken by Thousands of Mums for Epilepsy
» UK: Blair May be the One to Save Dave
» UK: Carol Sarler’s Granddaughter Was Damaged by a Toxic Medicine… Here She Reveals Brutal Indifference of Officials Who Won’t Help
» UK: English National Resistance Rallies the Masses Against Abu Qatada
» UK: Huddersfield Afghanistan Death Soldiers’ Memorial Unveiled
» UK: Mosque Leaders Condemn ‘Political’ Demonstration That Forced Town Hall Closure
» UK: The Moment Taser Police Take Down Knifeman Outside Buckingham Palace: Terror at Changing of the Guard as Man Breaks Security Cordon
» Video: Nigel Farage’s UKIP on the Increasing European and Soviet Union Similarities
» Was Iran Really Responsible for Lockerbie Bombing? French Spy Expert Claims That CIA and FBI Know But Have Covered the Information Up
» Serbia: Foreign Investment, Almost 16 Bln Euros in 12 Years
North Africa
» Egypt: Young Activist Dies, Movement Denounces Torture
» Egypt to be Elected as OIC Office Head
Israel and the Palestinians
» IDF Arrests Senior Hamas Figures in the West Bank
Middle East
» Iran Insists it Did Send Monkey Into Space
» Iraq: Up to 30 Killed in Suicide Attack on Iraqi Police Headquarters
» Kahlili Reports North Koreans May be Among 40 Dead at Alleged Fordow Blast in Iran
» Turkey: Erdogan Calls EU’s Bluff Once More
» Islam Played Important Role in Russian Civilisation
» Suicide Bomber Blown Up Prematurely by Spam Text
South Asia
» British Soldiers in Afghanistan Get Hand-Held Helicopter Drones
» Hamid Karzai: Security in Afghanistan Was Better Before British Troops Arrived
» Pakistan: Christian Man Mortally Wounded in Baluchistan for Refusing to Convert to Islam
» Pakistan Plans $30 Million Amusement Park for Town Where Bin Laden Was Killed
» Thailand: Princess to Make Islam School Visit
» To Curb Rape, Muslim Group Calls for End to Co-Ed Schools in India
Far East
» Eating Hot Food From Melamine Plates Increases Risk of Kidney Stones
Australia — Pacific
» Clayton Mosque: Monash Say “Yes” Firmly
» White Supremacists Ready for Fight
» Migrants Handed £1m a Week for Children Back Home as Thousands of British Families Are Stripped of Their Child Benefit
» Senate Plan Would Give Napolitano the Final Say on Border Security
» The Hispanic Vote and Immigration
» UK: Crimmigrants
Culture Wars
» France: Women in Paris Finally Allowed to Wear Trousers
» Italy: British Conductor at Centre of La Scala Opera Row
» Obama Urges Boy Scouts to Accept Gay Members
» Obama Says Boy Scouts Should Allow Gays as Members
» Obama Slips Gays Into Immigration Plan
» Racism is Poisoning Online Ad Delivery, Says Harvard Professor
» The Boy Scouts Flirtation With Dishonor and Destruction
» Twitter Censors Black Pro-Lifers Blasting NAACP on Abortion
» UK: From @nadinedorriesmp: Not a Single Person in the UK Voted Conservative in 2010 Because We Said We Would Introduce Same-Sex Marriage
» UK: Gay Marriage: Churches Fuel Rebellion
» UK: How Tory Left-Collaborators Undermine Marriage, Conservatism and Britain
» UK: Marriage: Union for the Future or Contract for the Present
» UK: Marriage Equality or the Destruction of Difference?
» UK: Now Tories Accuse PM of ‘Betrayal’ Over Gay Marriage
» UK: Real Conservatism Begins With Culture
» UK: The Same-Sex Marriage Bill — and Why I’m Cutting the Money I Give to the Party

4 Retailers Likely to Close Stores This Year

Sears, JC Penney, Barnes, Best Buy To Close 100s Of Stores

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the weakest large U.S. retailers and picked those that likely will not be profitable next year if they keep their current location counts. 24/7 analyzed the retailers’ store counts, recent financial data, online presences, prospects against direct competitors and precedents set by other large retailers that have downsized by shuttering locations. We then forecast how many stores each retailer will have to close this year to sharply increase its prospects financially, even if some of those location closings do not occur for several years. These forecasts were based on drops in same-store sales, drops in revenue, a review of direct competitors, Internet sales and the size of cuts at retailers in the same sector, if those were available.

These are the retailers that will close the most stores in 2013.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gasoline Costs Take Biggest Share of Household Income in Three Decades

Trips to the gasoline pump in 2012 and 2008 took their biggest share of U.S. household income in several decades, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The Energy Department’s statistical arm reported Monday that the average household spent $2,912 for gasoline in 2012, which makes up almost 4 percent of pre-tax income, tying 2008 for the highest percentage in roughly 30 years.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Germans and Turks Eyeing Top Greek Hotels

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JANUARY 30 — The greatest luxury Greek hotels have drawn the attention of investors both in Greece and abroad, especially from Germany and Turkey. According to Euro2day, as GreekReporter site writes, a strong Greek and foreign presence in on its way, aiming to purchase many hotels, mainly those owned by banks who foreclosed on properties that failed during Greece’s crushing economic crisis. According to the market, March 19 is considered to be of great importance as it marks the deadline interest in the Astir Palace Resort interest. After that, potential investors will put their cards on the table for the Athens Hilton, which belongs to Alpha Bank.

Eurobank owns both the King George Hotel in Syntagma, as well as the Capsis Hotel in Rhodes. Eurobank proceeded to a 20-year agreement with the Laskarides family that also controls the Grande Bretagne Hotel. As for the Capsis hotel, the press in Rhodes mentions a possible interest from Germans. According to a Euro2day report, there has been intense Turkish interest in the Makedonia Palace in Thessaloniki, for which an auction will take place on February 4, for its yearly lease. This property belongs to the Greek state health insurance agency IKA, which is asking for a minimum monthly rent of 50,000 euros. On February 5, the sale will proceed of the Gerakina Beach hotel in Halkidiki, which belongs to the National Bank, which wants to keep its hands on the Grand Hotel in Rhodes.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Businessman Commits Suicide Over Failed Contract

Man hangs himself in the workplace, leaves letters

(ANSA) — Frosinone, February 4 — An Italian businessman hanged himself in the workplace after his company lost an important contract, the latest in a stream of suicides being linked to the Italian recession.

The man, 62, reportedly feared for his job after his company lost a major contract, and was also concerned for his son, another employee.

Investigators are studying two letters that have led them to believe the man’s actions were work-related.

Italy has seen in steady rise in the rate of suicides in the past year amid its economic crisis.

The deaths have often involved indebted small-business owners and the unemployed, as well as people struggling with steeply rising tax bills.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Prosecutors to Probe Central Bank, Consob in MPS Case

Second inquiry to focus on regulation of troubled Italian lender

(ANSA) — Trani, January 30 — Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the supervisory actions of both the Bank of Italy and market watchdog Consob over troubled Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), consumer group Adusbef said Wednesday.

The probe — the second thus far — comes amid a financial and political scandal with as many twists and turns as a medieval street in the Italian hill-town of Siena where MPS, the world’s oldest bank, was founded. And the crisis has not only drawn in major financial market players and Italian politicians, but also some of Europe’s leading banking authorities.

This latest prosecutors’ probe will review actions by Mario Draghi, current chief of the European Central Bank and former head of the Bank of Italy, which has supervisory responsibilities over banks.

Adusbef’s complaint asks Trani prosecutors to review just how the Bank of Italy and market regulator Consob failed to see huge financial risks at MPS, Italy’s third-largest bank.

Focus will be trained on the controversial takeover by MPS of a smaller bank, Antonveneta, in 2008, at what many say was an inflated price and led to many of the current problems.

In its defence, the Bank of Italy said that as early as 2010 it sought daily reports from MPS on its liquidity levels, and a week ago noted that MPS had hidden documents, making it impossible for regulators to understand the “true nature” of the bank’s financial situation.

This latest probe also comes shortly after prosecutors in Siena announced that they are investigating actions by the former managers of MPS, described by one prosecutor as creating a situation that was “explosive and tension-filled”.

Prosecutors are probing former president Giuseppe Mussari as well as other executives for fraud, judicial sources said Tuesday.

The Siena probe is based on claims by some MPS shareholders that the Antonveneta deal was approved by MPS managers and regulators without proper concern for the strain the deal would put on the bank’s finances.

The Siena-based lender is also facing intense scrutiny for derivatives trades which could cost it some 720 million euros.

So troubling are those losses, which could indirectly affect other parts of the country’s intertwined financial system, that the European Commission recently gave provisional backing to a 3.9-billion-euro Italian government bond issue for the bank to preserve financial system stability.

Such financial support for MPS has also drawn Italian politicians into the fray, both members of the current government which approved the financial support, and also the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which has long been historically linked to the bank’s foundation.

Italian Economy Minister Vittorio Grilli on Tuesday hinted that MPS could face nationalization if it fails to pay the money back, though he ruled out any further bailouts.

And the total losses may not yet be known. Monte Paschi could face another 500-million-euros loss on a 2010 securitization of about 1.5 billion euros of real-estate loans, dubbed “Chianti Classico,” weekly Panorama reported Wednesday, citing documents that include minutes of board meetings from November and December 2012.

Meanwhile in Berlin, a spokesman for the German government — which, as Europe’s largest economy, plays a key role in the ECB — said in a statement it has confidence in Draghi and the independent work of the ECB.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Fitch Holds Monte Paschi Credit-Ratings Unchanged

Long-term ratings left at BBB by agency

(ANSA) — Milan, February 1 — Fitch held the long-term credit ratings of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena unchanged at BBB with outlook stable, and the short-term ones F3.

The ratings agency said it would hold the bank’s support rating floor at BBB, confirming the role the bank has in the Italian banking system. The bank’s viability rating is currently “rating watch negative”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Saipem Stages Minor Comeback After Huge Losses Wednesday

Shares gain almost 4% as Consob keeps short selling ban

(ANSA) — Milan, January 31 — Share prices of Italian oil-service provider Saipem SpA on Thursday gained almost 4% following heavy losses Wednesday, when regulators announced a probe of unusual share sales shortly before the company announced a dramatic drop in forecast profits. On Wednesday financial market regulator Consob announced it would review the sale of almost 10 million shares in Saipem made after the close of trading on Monday, just hours before the company announced that its 2013 profits would be less than half the amount previously expected.

By mid-afternoon Wednesday, shares in Saipem, Europe’s biggest oil-service provider, had plunged a record 39% on Milan’s stock exchange.

In order to help sustain the company’s shares Thursday, Consob banned short-selling on Saipem stock for the second day in a row.

Meanwhile, investment banking units of HSBC and JP Morgan both cut their target price on Saipem stock Thursday to around 26 euros per share.

Shares in Eni SpA, the Italian government-controlled energy giant which owns 43% of Saipem, also gained slightly Thursday (+0.6%), after shedding more than four percentage points on Wednesday.

In an editorial in its Lex column Thursday, the Financial Times wrote that Eni should consider selling its stake in Saipem.

The FT said that while Saipem’s share performance was based more on worries about the company’s current troubles than on any general sector issues, Eni should consider selling its Saipem stake unless it could exercise more stringent control over “the unpredictable company”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Prosecutors Seize 358,000 Euros at Branch of Troubled MPS

Italy’s third-biggest lender engulfed in financial scandal

(ANSA) — Trani, February 1 — Police on Friday carried out an order by prosecutors to seize 358,157.83 euros at a southern Italian branch of troubled bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which has been engulfed by a major financial scandal.

MPS was thrown in crisis last week when it emerged that a shady series of derivative and structured-finance deals produced losses of around 720 million euros. It is feared that the hole in the bank’s accounts could be even bigger.

The confiscation order for a branch in Corato, near Bari, was authorised by magistrates in the southern city of Trani, who are investigating the MPS scandal along with prosecutors in Siena and Rome.

The order is related to alleged wrongdoing concerning operations called interest-rate swaps offered to local businesses. MPS, the oldest bank in the world still in business and Italy’s third-largest lender, has seen its share price tumble since the scandal broke. It shed another 4% in early trading on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Judge Rules Milan “Formidably Naive” On Derivatives

(AGI) Milan, Feb 4 — Judge Oscar Magi has been strict in his sentence concerning four foreign banks in the trial on derivatives, stating that the Milan Municipality had been “formidably naive” and “unforgivably careless.” The judge added, “It is evident that at no point in these financial operations did the municipality behave as a ‘qualified operator’. “ .

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

Netherlands: SNS Reaal Nationalised, Shares Worthless

AMSTERDAM, 02/02/13 — The Dutch state has nationalised SNS Reaal, Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem announced Friday. Shareholders and bondholders will lose their money.

The nationalisation will cost the state 3.7 billion euros. Additionally, loans of 1.1 billion euros will be provided, along with guarantees for 5 billion.

The banks will also have to dip into their kitties. They will contribute the one-off sum of 1 billion euros towards the rescue via a one-off levy in 2014.

According to Dijsselbloem, nationalisation was unavoidable. “Without intervention, SNS Reaal would have gone bankrupt. “Private initiatives, such as a takeover by a consortium led by investment group CVC, offered insufficient guarantees”, he said without mentioning any names.

Dijsselbloem said Friday he had given SNS Reaal a deadline of 6.10 p.m. on Thursday. “By yesterday, not one alternative had materialised other than the private equity fund. And that meant a serious risk to financial stability.”

Dutch central bank (DNB) director Sijbrand said a run on SNS Reaal bank was a realistic danger. “There were already outflows of 500 million to 1 billion euros per day as a result of reporting in the media.”

The Dutch step to nationalise a bank without giving any compensation to existing shareholders and holders or subordinated bonds is a first in Europe. Dijsselbloem also wanted to tackle regular bondholders but did not after consultations with DNB.

Dijsselbloem: “Private parties who consciously took a risk by putting money into SNS will have to contribute as much as possible, within the boundaries of financial stability. This means that I have not only expropriated shareholders but also subordinated creditors. Their claims will lose all of their value, as would also have happened if SNS had gone bankrupt. As a result, they will contribute a total of 1 billion euros.”

The Financial Markets Authority (AFM) had already suspended trading in SNS Reaal shares before the opening of the bourse on Friday morning. The leadership of SNS Reaal, including CEO Ronald Latenstein, is resigning. They will not receive any severance package. Gerard van Olphen will succeed Latenstein with immediate effect. Van Olphen was CFO at insurer Achmea.

Investors’ lobby group VEB director Jan Maarten Slagter is furious that shareholders and subordinated bondholders are losing all their money. “And we are therefore going to court. It is very much the question whether this is actually allowed” under the new Intervention Act, in force since mid-2012.

Analyst Albert Ploegh of ING says the nationalisation of SNS Reaal will in the short term result in higher costs for other banks. On the other hand, the savings market can calm down, according to insiders. SNS Reaal offered the highest interest rates because it had to strengthen its capital buffers.

SNS Reaal has been in deep trouble for some time and did not succeed in finding a solution for the problems at its property arm Property Finance. Dijsselbloem will now separate this from the rest of the group.

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

Only Former MPS Management Probed, Italian Prosecutors Say

Ex-president Mussari, past executives suspected of fraud

(ANSA) — Rome, January 30 — Italian prosecutors confirmed Wednesday that only former management of the troubled Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) was being investigated. Prosecutors are probing former president Giuseppe Mussari as well as other past executives for fraud.

Focus is trained on the controversial takeover by MPS of a smaller bank, Antonveneta, in 2008, at what many say was an inflated price and led to many of the current problems.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

S.&P. Says it Expects U.S. Civil Suit Over Mortgage Bond Ratings

The Justice Department, along with state prosecutors, plans to file civil charges against Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service, accusing the firm of fraudulently rating mortgage bonds that led to the financial crisis, people briefed on the plan said.

Up until last last week, the Justice Department had been in settlement talks with S.&P., these people said. But the negotiations broke down after the Justice Department said it would seek a settlement in excess of “10 figures,” or at least $1 billion, these people said, which would wipe out the profits of S.&P.’s parent company, McGraw-Hill Company, for an entire year.

[Return to headlines]

Arizona Sues U.S. EPA Over Coal Power Plant Emissions

Arizona challenged in federal court U.S. environmental regulators efforts to force Arizona power companies to spend up to $1 billion to install pollution control equipment at three coal plants to reduce haze in the region’s national parks.

Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne said in a statement last week the emission control measures proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would not affect health or be reduce emissions visible to the human eye.

“This is an absurd action that would significantly raise utility rates for most Arizonans without providing any benefit to anyone,” Horne said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bankrupt, Decaying and Nearly Dead: 24 Facts About the City of Detroit That Will Shock You

If you want to know what the future of America is going to be like, just look at the city of Detroit. Once upon a time it was a symbol of everything that America was doing right, but today it has been transformed into a rotting, decaying, post-apocalyptic hellhole. Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, and in 1960 Detroit had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation. It was the greatest manufacturing city the world had ever seen, and the rest of the globe looked at Detroit with a sense of awe and wonder. But now the city of Detroit has become a bad joke to the rest of the world.

Unemployment is rampant, 60 percent of the children are living in poverty and the city government is on the verge of bankruptcy. They say that Detroit is just a matter of “weeks or months” away from running out of cash, and when Detroit does declare bankruptcy it will be the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States. But don’t look down on Detroit, because the truth is that Detroit is really a metaphor for what is happening to America as a whole. In the United States today, our manufacturing infrastructure has been gutted, poverty is absolutely exploding and we are rapidly approaching national bankruptcy. Detroit may have gotten there first, but the rest of the country will follow soon enough.

Back during the boom years, Detroit was known for making great cars. Today, it is known for scenes of desolation and decay. It is full of vandalized homes, abandoned schools and empty factories. The following description of what Detroit looks like at this point is from an article by Barry Yeoman…

“It’s hard to describe the city’s physical landscape without producing what Detroiters call “ruin porn.” Brick houses with bays and turrets sit windowless or boarded up. Whole blocks, even clusters of blocks, have been bulldozed. Retail strips have been reduced to a dollar store here, a storefront church there, and a whole lot of plywood in between. Not a single chain supermarket remains.”

So what caused the downfall of one of the greatest cities on earth?

Well, here is a hint…

Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.

When you are a manufacturing area, and you lose half of your manufacturing jobs over the course of a single decade, of course things are going to get really, really bad.

So just how bad have things gotten in Detroit?

The following are 24 facts about the city of Detroit that will shock you…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Barry Gets His Gun and We All Have Fun

To shame the non-believers, the White House released a photo of President Obama shooting a gun — with a warning that “the photograph may not be manipulated in any way.”


[And from there on in, the photograph is “manipulaed” all the way down the page,Which is maybe what the WH wanted anyway. Just goes to show Our Chief Metrosexual shoots off something besides his mouth. It also shows his subjects enjoying yet another exercise which distracts them from looking too closely at what he’s NOT doing…]

Go to the URL to see some splendid manipulationsm including those in the comments section.


[Return to headlines]

Criminal Gangs ‘A Benefit to Society’

GANGSTERS have unwittingly taught communities how to be kind to each other, researchers claim.

A study found that criminal gangs may have shown people how to protect the weakest among their society.

The research, published in the scientific journal Evolution, claims populations where protection rackets have operated eventually become better equipped to look after the vulnerable.

Such rackets have been going on for centuries, said the research by psychologists from Princeton University and the University of Arizona.

The study added: “The kindness of mankind most likely developed from our more sinister and self-serving tendencies. Society’s rules against selfishness are rooted in the very exploitation they condemn.”

The natural attitude of today’s society is to protect its resources and punish those that try to harm them, said the report.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Eight Reasons Why Water Fluoridation Has Failed Modern Civilization

(NaturalNews) If you went up to the average person on the street today and tried to explain that most Americans drink, bathe in, and wash their dishes and clothes in an industrial waste product that is linked to causing endocrine disruption and cancer, you might be labeled a loon. But this is exactly what millions of city-dwellers do every day without realizing it, thanks to an outdated and completely unscientific public health intervention known as artificial water fluoridation.

Contrary to popular opinion, fluoridated water is not the dental health miracle that some government bureaucrats and conventional dentists still claim it is, and regular exposure to this noxious snake oil could slowly be poisoning you and your family. Here are eight solid and scientifically-backed reasons why water fluoridation is nothing to celebrate:


6) Fluoride calcifies the thyroid and pineal glands, two important hormone producers in the body. Another inconvenient fact about fluoride is that it binds to receptors throughout the endocrine system that are specifically reserved for actual nutrients. Fluoride has been shown to accumulate in both the thyroid and pineal glands, where it inhibits the normal production of hormones that regulate living systems throughout the body.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Hillary Clinton Bids the World Farewell, For Now

During her farewell speech on Friday covered by the cable news channels, including Fox News, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enthusiastically told her state department staff that the world is a safer place on her last day as America’s top diplomat, but the attack on the U.S. embassy in Turkey appeared to be a damper on her claim.

“I am so grateful that we’ve had a chance to contribute in each of our ways to making our country and our world stronger, safer, and fairer and better,” she said to her staff.

“Hillary Clinton is so much like her husband, Bill, who found it hard to face the truth and in fact had a very casual relationship with truth in general,” said former law enforcement official and military intelligence officer Joel Gaines.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Iraq War Veteran Charged With Murdering Author of “American Sniper”

HOUSTON, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) — A 25-year-old man accused of murdering “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle and another man in U.S. state of Texas, was an Iraq war veteran, authorities confirmed Sunday. The U.S. military said that the suspect Eddie Ray Routh was a corporal in the Marines from 2006 to 2010, and he is currently listed as reserve, according to the Houston Chronicle…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Jesse Jackson Pushes New ‘Occupy’ Plan: Have Homeland Security Occupy Chicago With Armed TSA Agents

(NaturalNews) Don’t say we didn’t warn ya, but now the long-anticipated plan for armed TSA agents to patrol U.S. cities has been invoked by none other than Jesse Jackson. Today he called on President Obama to unleash “Homeland Security” on the streets of Chicago, a city racked by murders and violence even though it has the strictest gun laws in the country. The only group within DHS that has the manpower to “occupy” a U.S. city is the TSA, a widely-hated government agency which has already begun running roadside checkpoints across the country.

Jackson’s call is essentially a demand that DHS send in armed agents (TSA with guns) because the situation is so bad in Chicago that “something must be done.”

But how did the situation in Chicago get so bad in the first place? The city’s leaders disarmed all law-abiding citizens by passing outrageous gun control laws that gave criminals the upper hand. By definition, criminals don’t follow gun laws, so they remain armed and more confident than ever. Police are outgunned and citizens are outgunned, and the result is that Chicago has the highest murder rate of any city in the world. (This is called cause and effect.)


Here’s why all this is a big deal. For starters, TSA agents do not swear any oath to the Constitution. They have loyalty only to their paycheck, not to any principles. In fact, if you actually try to talk with a TSA goon, you will quickly discover they have absolutely no historical knowledge of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or U.S. history.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Medical Device Companies Suffer Deadly Obamacare Tax

Among the provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that promises to wipe out an entire industry is a 2.3% excise tax on medical device companies. That tax, now in effect, is imposed on gross receipts, not net profits. The tax is now devastating a market characterized by small and mid-sized firms who can ill afford the tax. Medical device companies invest a considerable amount of their profits in research and development, either to invent new technologies to improve patient care or to amend existing technologies in ways that improve patient comfort or medical outcomes. We are about to witness a mass exodus of medical device companies off shore or out of business. We are also about to witness the demise of several medical device companies and, with them, vital technologies used by physicians to help patients. The beneficiaries of the tax reside off American shores. Foreign medical device companies will now experience a market boom as they exploit the market losses that American firms accumulate as a result of this onerous excise tax.

Most medical device companies employ 50 or fewer employees. Most gross less than $5 million per year. For a $5 million medical device company, annual profits of $200,000 are not uncommon. Consider how the 2.3% excise tax works. If a medical device company grosses $5 million but nets $200,000 in profits, the 2.3% excise tax adds to the company’s burden a whopping $115,000 in taxes atop federal, state, and local taxes. That $115,000 Obamacare tax is equal to 58% of profits.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Menendez Saga: Prostitute Points to Wealthy Dominican Politician as Sex-Party Participant

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

A Dominican prostitute’s firsthand account of sex parties allegedly attended by New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez refers specifically to another participant: Vinicio “Vinicito” Castillo Seman, the scion of a prominent Dominican political family who serves as a lawyer for his cousin, Dr. Salomon Melgen, in the Caribbean nation.

Vinicito, she wrote, “invents things [to do] with the young girls, and then forces them to do the same things with the doctor’s friend” — Sen. Menendez.

The doctor, Melgen, is the Democratic donor whose private jet ferried Menendez to the Dominican Republic on several occasions, and at whose resort home the sex parties allegedly occurred. At least one of the women allegedly involved has said she was younger than 18 when she first had sex with Sen. Menendez.

[Comment: kak•is•toc•ra•cy (kk-stkr-s, käk-) n. pl. kak•is•toc•ra•cies Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens. ]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mosque Hearing Back, School Survey Due This Week

Also, kindergarten registration on Thursday, and ‘Jeans for Teens’ collection continues.

This Tuesday is the next in a series of hearings on the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge’s proposal before the Bernards Township Planning Board to continue its series of hearings on a plan to build a 4,200-square-foot mosque at 124 Church Street in Liberty Corner Village…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Murdered Navy Seal Was Obama Gun Control Foe

Murdered Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, gunned down at point-blank range in Texas this past weekend, was emerging as a prominent gun control critic — working to place armed guards in schools in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre.

In one of his last interviews just two weeks before his death, Kyle told that he was against Obama’s gun control agenda, warning that any attempt to confiscate firearms could end disastrously.

“I’ve talked to a bunch of cops and secret service guys and they aren’t going to go to anyone’s house, especially if they have guns they don’t want to be knocking on doors,” said the best-selling author of “American Sniper”.

Kyle added that his company, Craft International, was involved in working with schools in Texas to hire armed guards and off-duty police officers as a response to the Sandy Hook shootings. The company was also carrying out screenings and gun safety training for teachers and school officials who expressed a desire to have firearms in school.

Kyle was set to host a “Civilian Training Event” at Rough Creek Lodge gun range, the same location where he was shot dead, an event scheduled for March 1-3, according to the company’s website.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Muslim Roulette

by Bosch Fawstin

Can anyone tell which Muslim will go jihad before he or she does? Non-Muslim Muslims, or as some call them “Moderate Muslims,” give the Jihadist enemy cover. They’re pointed to as “proof” that violence has nothing to do with Islam when, in fact, non-violent Muslims are reluctant Muslims. And they’re the reason we’re playing a game of Muslim Roulette in the middle of the Muslim world’s jihad on us. While we’d like to discriminate between “moderate Muslims,” “extremist Muslims,” etc., Muslims see us as Infidels, period. Not moderate Infidels, extremist infidels, etc., but simply Infidels…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

National Life Without Guns is a Beautiful Thing, Isn’t it?

Vietnam was all right. No problem. So was the covert war in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Ditto for Iraq I and II and Afghanistan. All necessary and proper and good. Lives destroyed? Who cares?

The US government’s possession of weapons and their use? Well, of course they needed all those weapons. How else could the wars be fought?

Guns in hands of government are a completely different issue than guns in the hands of citizens. You do see that, don’t you? Government knows what to do with guns. Kill people. Lots of people. Citizens with guns are clueless and have to be dealt with.

US-government 24/7 surveillance of every US citizen? Again, no problem. No indication of bad intent at all. It’s just protection against terrorism.

So you see, the whole rationale for the 2nd Amendment — that Americans need to protect themselves against a tyrannical central government — goes right out the window.

That was easy…

Now, recently we’ve seen children suspended and expelled from school, and we’ve seen a school lockdown or two, because of the presence of a Nerf gun or a gun made out of fingers or the word “pow.” This makes perfect sense.

We all know imaginary guns are the gateway drug to real guns and real guns are a guarantee of death. So nip the situation in the bud. Eliminate all thoughts of guns. Slap the fingers of the finger guns.

This program of taking away imaginary guns proves our government is mentally acute. Another sign we can trust them and ignore the core purpose of the 2nd Amendment…

You can only doubt the intentions of government if you’re paranoid. That’s a mental disorder, and it automatically disqualifies you from owning a weapon. So you’re good there. Just get treatment.

[Comment: Article well worth reading.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

No European Capitals Among Secretary Kerry’s First Contacts

(AGI) Washington — Taking office on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held a first round of phone talks with several capitals, including Ankara .

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

Oath Keepers Molon Labe Pledge

We will never disarm. We will never surrender our military pattern, semi-automatic rifles and the full capacity magazines, parts, and ammunition that go with them. The fundamental purpose of the Second Amendment is to preserve the military power of We the People so we will have effective means to resist tyranny. Regardless of what unholy, unconstitutional filth issues from the mouths of oath breakers in “Mordor on the Potomac” our answer is MOLON LABE.

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force: Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”- Patrick Henry

We will not allow our children to be disarmed. We will pass on those military pattern rifles, magazines, and ammunition to our children and our children’s children.

Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American… [T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people. — Tench Coxe, 1788

We will die in battle before we give up our arms and leave our children in slavery.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obamacare: A Deception

The article below is the most comprehensive analysis available of “Obamacare” — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The author, a knowledgeable person who wishes to remain anonymous, explains how Obamacare works for the insurance companies but not for you.

Obamacare was formulated on the concept of health care as a commercial commodity and was cloaked in ideological slogans such as “shared responsibility,” “no free riders” and “ownership society.” These slogans dress the insurance industry’s raid on public resources in the cloak of a “free market” health care system.

You will learn how to purchase a subsidized plan at the Exchange, what will happen when income and family circumstances change during the year or from one year to the next, and other perils brought to you by Obamacare. It is one of the most important articles that will be posted on my website this year. Americans will be shocked to learn the extent to which they have been deceived. The legislation neither protects the patient nor are the plans affordable.

[Comment: Informative article, well worth reading.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Corporate Jet Obsession

President Obama flies everywhere on a tricked-out, luxury Boeing 747, but he wants everyone else flying coach. A master of class warfare, Mr. Obama has fixated for years on the tax break for private planes as a convenient distraction from the real debt crisis facing the nation.

Mr. Obama didn’t get a big enough tax hike in his New Year’s deal with Congress, so he’s going to the wall to grab more revenue in negotiations over the sequestration and budget. The chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dave Camp, opposes the White House plan.

“Washington has a spending problem, and Americans don’t want to pay more in taxes to feed more spending,” the Michigan Republican told The Washington Times.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Reuters Report Contradicts Obama ‘Skeet Shooting’ Photo

A Reuters report concerning Barack Obama’s activities on August 4th last year contradicts White House claims that the President was skeet shooting at Camp David, an indication that a photo released over the weekend showing Obama firing a rifle could be fraudulent.

In August 2010, the White House released a photograph of Obama swimming with his daughter and claimed the image was shot in the Gulf of Mexico as a ploy to argue that the area was still open for business despite the BP oil spill. It quickly emerged that the photo was taken off Alligator Point in St Andrew Bay, north-west Florida — which isn’t technically in the Gulf of Mexico.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Shooting Death of Navy Seal to be Blamed on All Vets!

The collaborator media is already blaming gun owners and military veterans for the shooting death of Chris Kyle and his friend in Texas.

[Comment: Now watch for media to start proposing all vets be banned from owning a firearm.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sixty Mayors to Gang Up on Gun Companies Unless They Stop Defending Their Rights

Wikipedia is sometimes quite useful, especially if you need a good, generic definition of a common term, such as extortion:

Extortion (also called blackmail*, shakedown, outwresting, and exaction) is a criminal offence of unlawfully obtaining money, property, or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crimegroups. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense. Making a threat of violence which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence is sufficient to commit the offense. Exaction refers not only to extortion or the unlawful demanding and obtaining of something through force,[1] but additionally, in its formal definition, means the infliction of something such as pain and suffering or making somebody endure something unpleasant.[2]

Odd, how that definition of extortion sounds very similar to what Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and a gang of other left-wing mayors are proposing to do to firearm and ammunition companies that don’t accept the Democratic Party line on gun control:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Standoff in Alabama Ends in Boy’s Rescue and Kidnapper’s Death

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. — A six-day standoff between an angry and violent survivalist who held a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker and a legion of local, state and federal law enforcement officials ended on Monday with the death of the kidnapper and the freeing of the boy.

Stephen E. Richardson, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told reporters that the boy, named Ethan, was rescued at 3:12 p.m. and that he “appeared physically unharmed and is being treated at a local hospital.” Mr. Richardson added, “The subject is deceased.”

The subject was 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, who boarded a school bus last Tuesday afternoon, killing the driver and taking the boy with him into a bunker he had installed in his backyard.

Neighbors speculated that Mr. Dykes had kidnapped the boy as part of a scheme to air his thoughts and grievances on a larger platform, and at a news conference earlier in the day on Tuesday, Sheriff Wally Olson of Dale County acknowledged that to be a major motive.

“Based on our discussions he feels like he has a story that is important to him, although it’s very complex,” said the sheriff, who appeared wearier than in recent days.

Officials had been in constant communication with Mr. Dykes, speaking with him on a mobile phone and passing toys, food and coloring books into the bunker through a plastic pipe that Mr. Dykes had put in so he could hear trespassers on his property. Officials had also been able to pass medication to Ethan, who was described as having of Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

In comments to reporters after the rescue, Mr. Richardson suggested that talks had recently broken down.

“Within the past 24 hours, negotiations deteriorated and Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun,” he said. “At this point, F.B.I. agents, fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child.”

For some time, officials had been able to monitor the movements within the bunker, said two people who had been briefed on the operation. They had also built a mock-up of the bunker nearby, where authorities could test various options while devising a rescue plan.

On Monday afternoon, sensing that Mr. Dykes was becoming rattled and that the threat to the boy was growing more severe, the authorities dropped two devices into the bunker that created loud explosions, heard by people across the highway. The explosions disoriented Mr. Dykes, and immediately afterward two or three men moved into the bunker and retrieved the child. Mr. Dykes was killed in the rescue.

“I am thankful that the child who was abducted is now safe,” Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama said in a statement. “We will all continue to pray for the little boy and his family as they recover from the trauma of the last several days.”

Ethan was freed by an F.B.I, hostage rescue team. Fears that the bunker might be booby-trapped proved unfounded, but bomb experts were scouring it after the rescue…

[Return to headlines]

Student Gets Suspended… for Picture of Gun

Common sense has clearly gone out the window in this country. People in leadership position seem to react first and think later. This is exactly the case of a high school freshman who was suspended from school, because the background image on his computer was of a gun.

According to ABC News 15, the Florence, Arizona freshman named Daniel McClaine Jr. “said he saved the picture as his desktop background on his school-issued computer.”

[Comment: This is intentional. What you are seeing with this and similar occurrences (eg the soap bubble plastic gun incident) is a concerted NATIONAL effort to stigmatize guns in the minds of the next generation of Americans. It is Pavlovian conditioning writ large and is nothing less than brainwashing.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Tech, Telecom Giants Take Sides as FCC Proposes Large Public Wifi Networks

(WASHINGTONPOST) — The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.

The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say. That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.

The airwaves that FCC officials want to hand over to the public would be much more powerful than existing WiFi networks that have become common in households. They could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees. If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Constitution? What’s That?

A republic cannot survive such laziness — not even America.

The dictionary tells us that a constitution is a law, or compilation of laws, determining the fundamental political principles of a government.

The people of the United States have a constitution.

Now, I know this will come as a shock to many, but we actually DO have a constitution, which was written at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 and subsequently ratified by the original thirteen states.

As we observe the huge blob that our government has become since, one has to wonder if the constitution is relevant anymore.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Urge Ottawa Public Library to Rescind Platform for Anti-Muslim Speaker

(February 1, 2013) The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR.CAN), a national Muslim civil liberties organization, is calling on supporters and concerned Canadians to immediately contact the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) to urge that it revoke permission for the appearance of an anti-Muslim hatemonger at its main branch on February 4, 2013…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Catch These Men! Sixteen of Europe’s Most Wanted Criminals Are on the Run in the UK

Suspected of sickening crimes including murder, kidnapping and rape, these are the faces of the most wanted foreign criminals in the UK.

The 16 fugitives have fled their own countries in a desperate bid to escape the law — and are now lying low in Britain.

But Scotland Yard is determined to catch the high-risk offenders and has taken the unusual step of releasing their pictures in an attempt to bring them to justice.

Dritan Rexhepi, 32, is wanted in Albania and Belgium

CRIME: Murder and aggravated burglary
WANTED: Albania and Belgium
Suspected of shooting dead two men in 1999 and burglary in 2005. Links to London, Bedfordshire and Northants
Edvinas Judinskas, 19

CRIME: Murder
WANTED: Lithuania
In gang suspected of beating man to death in 2008. Links to Woolwish, South London, Reading, Bury and Bolton
Ion Dragomir, 31

WANTED: Romania
Accused after fight in 2009. Links to Hackney and Edgware, both London
Serhat Aslan, 26

CRIME: Robbery and kidnap.
WANTED: Turkey
Hunted of fatal stabbing of youth in 2004. Lived in Chingford Essex

Three of the on-the-run suspects are wanted for murder.

The public are being urged not to approach the suspects who are considered dangerous.

CRIME: Robbery and kidnap
WANTED: Romania
Accused of abducting two men. Links to Havering, East London
Krzysztof Pedzik, 25

CRIME: Robbery
WANTED: Poland
Fled sentence for robbery in 2006. Also wanted for burglaries in London. Links to North London
Pawel Jakub Chmielorz, 27

WANTED: Poland
Fled jail term for six attacks 2006-9. Frequents Edmonton, London
Hysni Sokolaj, 40

CRIME: Trafficking
WANTED: Albania
Accused of forcing woman into prostitution and smuggling her into UK. Links with London, Leicester

CRIME: GBH, affray
WANTED: Poland
Suspected of stabbing two brothers in 2009. Links to north and west London, and Glasgow
Laszlo Nemes, 52

CRIME: GBH, affray
WANTED: Hungary
Alleged to be involved in smuggling people across Serbian-Hungarian border. Known in east London

Robert Grygoruk, 36

CRIME: Gun possession, assault, supplying drugs, controlling prostitution and fraud
WANTED: Poland
Accused of 24 offences. Links to London
Dariusz Farfus, 24

WANTED: Poland
Fled sentence for brawl in 2007. Could be living in North London

CRIME: Attempted murder, trafficking and theft
WANTED: Romania. Suspected of baseball bat attack in 2004. Wanted for trafficking women in 2004-5. Known in east London, Essex and Hertfordshire
Karol Koczmara, 24

CRIME: Kidnap, gun robbery
WANTED: Poland
Accused of offences in 2005-6. Links to north London

Evaldas Rabikauskas, 29

CRIME: Kidnap, gun robbery
WANTED: Lithuania
Accused of raping teenager in 2007. Links to London
Krzysztof Zakrzewski, 38

CRIME: Robbery
WANTED: Poland
Accused 1992. Links to east London

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Elkann: Fiat’s Hard Choices to Stay in Italy

Fiat chair speaks at opening of new Grugliasco facility, named after Giovanni Agnelli

MILAN — “We made some hard choices to continue manufacturing in Italy”. Fiat chair John Elkann was speaking at the opening ceremony of its Grugliasco plant, the former Bertone factory where a redundancy programme had been in place for eight years.

PLAN FOR ITALY — The Fiat board convened to approve the 2012 accounts — “they will be in line with expectations” Sergio Marchionne revealed — at Grugliasco, which will now underpin the car giant’s new export-driven strategy, which focuses on top-of-the-range models. This is the home of the Maserati Quattroporte and other models will soon be joining it. The Grugliasco facility has been named after Giovanni Agnelli, ten years after his death. Mr Elkann noted: “Not everyone has been honest enough to acknowledge it but those who really know our world know how things stand. After launching production of the Panda at Pomigliano, we announced two new models at Melfi a month ago. And now here we are, bringing back to life a factory whose fate looked sealed six years ago”. A new age is beginning for Maserati, said Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, pledging that “by year’s end there will be full employment at Grugliasco [for the time being, 500 workers are back — Ed.]”. How? Thanks to new models. The Ghibli saloon and the Levante SUV, which could be manufactured at Mirafiori, have been tasked with taking Maserati past the 50,000 units-a-year mark by the end of 2015. According to Fiat sources, these are the numbers required to boost profits, even though they represent a huge leap forward from the 6,400 Maseratis sold in 2012.

NO TO SPECULATION — Mr Marchionne then went back to the controversy over the announcement of conversion-related redundancies at Melfi. “What happened is object proof that Fiat is manipulated for political ends. Sadly, this is going on at an especially delicate moment for Italy”.

30 gennaio 2013 | 15:03

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

EU to Set Up Euro-Election ‘Troll Patrol’ To Tackle Eurosceptic Surge

The European Parliament is to spend almost £2 million on press monitoring and trawling Eurosceptic debates on the internet for “trolls” with whom to debate in the run-up and during euro-elections next year amid fears that hostility to the EU is growing.

The Daily Telegraph has seen confidential spending proposals and internal documents planning an unprecedented propaganda blitz ahead of and during European elections in June 2014.

Key to a new strategy will be “public opinion monitoring tools” to “identify at an early stage whether debates of political nature among followers in social media and blogs have the potential to attract media and citizens’ interest”.

Spending on “qualitative media analysis” is to be increased by £1.7 million and while most of the money is to be found in existing budgets an additional £787,000 will be need to be raised next year despite calls for EU spending to reflect national austerity.

“Particular attention needs to be paid to the countries that have experienced a surge in Euroscepticism,” said a confidential document agreed last year.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Ex-Italian Secret Service Chief Acquitted of Illegal Spying

Nicolo’ Pollari accused of unauthorized files in CIA snatch case

(ANSA) — Perugia, February 1 — Italy’s former SISMI secret service chief Nicolo’ Pollari, known for his role in the CIA abduction of Muslim cleric Hassan Mustafa Omar Nasr, was acquitted Friday for alleged breach of protocol and illegally obtaining files in the case. At a preliminary hearing in Perugia, former official Pio Pompa was also acquitted of the charges but was then indicted on separate charges of unauthorized espionage, to be tried October 17.

The two were accused of obtaining a confidential disc with unauthorized files on magistrates, officials and journalists which pertained to the 2003 extraordinary rendition by the CIA of the Muslim cleric in Milan.

The former head of SISMI said through his lawyer that he was “relieved, despite the fact that a State-secrecy injunction prevented him from fully defending himself”. In September the supreme Cassation Court upheld the convictions of 22 CIA agents and a retired US air force officer in the abduction of suspected jihadist recruiter Nasr, who was flown to Egypt where he says he was tortured.

The case was the first judicial examination of extraordinary rendition, one of the controversial practices of America’s war on terror, first authorised by Bill Clinton, widely used under George W. Bush, and extended by Obama on the condition that torture was stopped.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Formulations of Radical Islam Found in Materials on Trial in Bulgaria’s Pzardzhik: Experts

Pazardzhik. District Court of Pazardzhik read the expert’s analysis of the chief assistant Dr Klara Stamatova-Toneva, who said that the materials, which she was given contained formulations that are characteristic for the radical Islam, Radio FOCUS — Pazardzhik reported. The texts say that the end of the clashes and discord in the world will end with the coming of Islam, which will bring the establishment of an ideal country based on religious principles of the laws of the Sharia. The texts show lack of knowledge in and exaggeration of the other religions with the purpose of imposing only one — the Islam religion. The term Jihad is wrongly and tendentiously used. One of the books — the Charms of Jihad, contains appeals to terrorism…

[JP note: “It’s a pity you cannot repair me,” as Great Uncle Bulgaria might have said.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italy: Court Drops Case Against Berlusconi Over Pulled RAI Show

Probe concerned 2009 decision to stop Annozero

(ANSA) — Rome, January 31 — A preliminary hearings judge on Thursday ruled that a case against ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi regarding alleged interference at state broadcaster RAI must be dropped.

Berlusconi was alleged to have applied pressure to have a hostile talk show on RAI, Annozero, pulled before regional elections of March 2009. Berlusconi was premier at the time.

The judge ordered that the case against former RAI director-general Mauro Masi and the former head of Italy’s communications authority, Giancarlo Innocenzi, be dropped too.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Promise to Scrap IMU ‘Nice Try’ To Buy Votes, Says Monti

Berlusconi vows to abolish unpopular housing tax

(ANSA) — Rome, February 4 — Outgoing Premier Mario Monti said on Monday that ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s promise to scrap a highly unpopular housing tax if his coalition wins in the upcoming elections was a “nice try to corrupt Italians with their own money”.

Berlusconi wants to “buy Italians’ votes with Italians’ money,” Monti said in an interview on RTL 102.5 radio.

Berlusconi, who has said he will be finance minister if his center-right coalition wins the February 24-25 general elections, promised he will scrap the tax on first homes known as the IMU.

“This tax has caused Italian families worry, anxiety and fear for the future,” said Berlusconi.

The house tax, which Monti reintroduced after Berlusconi abolished it in 2008, has come under fire from all sides of the political spectrum.

Berlusconi also said his coalition abolish, over the a regional business tax, not increase VAT and said would not introduce a wealth tax on high earners.

The introduction of a wealth tax has also caused public debate since Monti took office to try to save the struggling economy in November 2011.

Such a tax has broad support among left-wing politicians but meets with opposition from moderate members of the centre-left and the centre-right.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi in Favour of a New Tax Pardon

Tells La7 he will pass a new amnesty if given a ruling majority

(ANSA) — Rome, February 4 — Italian ex-premier and centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi declared on Monday that he favours a new tax amnesty if granted a ruling coalition in the upcoming parliamentary election, set for February 24-25.

“I would absolutely agree with creating tax amnesty. I have always been against the left on this,” Berlusconi told the television station La7.

“Absolutely yes. There is absolutely need for an amnesty.

If I have a majority, it will be done,” added Berlusconi, who is the leader and founder of the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party.

Berlusconi’s comments provoked immediate reaction from the law-oriented Italy of Values (IDV) party.

“Berlusconi proposes an amnesty? Obvious and evident given what he knows about tax evasion. Italy must become a virtuous country and can only do so by carrying out a series of battles against tax evasion. A tombstone should be put on this,” said Antonio Borghesi, president of IDV Chamber representatives and Civic Revolution candidate in the current election cycle.

Berlusconi was convicted in October of involvement in an off-shore tax evasion scheme at Mediaset, a case that he is appealing in higher court.

During his last mandate, the ex-premier spearheaded a tax amnesty in 2009-2010 that brought home 104.5 billion euros in capital and other assets hidden abroad. The amnesty allowed Italians to legalize hidden assets and accounts without having to pay back taxes — only a one-off penalty fee, initially 5% on their value.

According to the treasury, 98% of the 104.5 billion euros in assets and capital declared were repatriated and resulted in the collection of 5.6 billion euros in penalty fees.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Turin Court Seizes 2.2 Mn Euros of Assets in Fraud Probe

Investigation into EU-funded program ensnares 140 people

(ANSA) — Turin, February 4 — A Turin judge on Monday ordered the seizure of 2.2 million euros’ worth of assets in a fraud probe into alleged misuse of European Union development funding in the region of Piedmont.

Turin financial police investigated 140 people for fraudulently inflating invoices to increase public grants from Turin public funding company Finpiemonte.

Under an EU-backed matching-funds programme, qualified companies in certain areas of the region could receive 50% of the cost of creating a website.

Investigators allege that businesses inflated invoices by a factor of two or more — often with the complicity of website providers — in order to cover the entire cost of their sites with public funds.

In some cases suspects allegedly made a profit, collecting more than the entire cost of their sites.

In addition, investigators allegedly found that some businesses falsified their locations in order to appear to be from areas targeted for the development initiative.

The case is currently being reviewed by the Audit Court to determine responsibility for the erroneous release of public funds.

Businesses are also being investigated for tax evasion in the case.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Vendola Compares Berlusconi to TV Occult Personality

SEL leader speaks at ANSA headquarters Monday

(ANSA) — Rome, February 4 — Puglia Governor and leader of the Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) party Nichi Vendola on Monday compared ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi to disgraced TV personality Wanna Marchi.

Vendola, speaking at a conference at ANSA’s historic headquarters in Rome was referring to Berlusconi’s promise to scrap a highly unpopular housing tax if his coalition wins in the upcoming elections.

Marchi, who was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to nine years and six months on charges of fraud and extortion, became a household name in Italy for her aggressive sales pitches for health and dietary products, before she turned to the occult and selling “lucky” lotto numbers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Financial Times Blames Berlusconi for Plunge in Markets

Chance of ex-premier returning to office ‘raising fears’

(ANSA) — Rome, February 4 — The Financial Times on Monday attributed a plunge in the Milan bourse to former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s climb in the polls ahead of general elections later this month.

According to the financial daily’s website, the fact that Berlusconi’s center-right coalition is only 5 points behind the leading center left in opinion polls has “raised fears” surrounding the vote in Italy, which explains the sudden drop in the Milan bourse. Italy’s major stock market fell by a full 4.5% on Monday.

The uncertainly over Italy’s political future also pushed wider the spread between Italy’s benchmark 10-year bond and its ultra-safe German counterpart by 20 basis points, to close at 282 points.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Lights Out — France to Force Shops and Offices to Go Dark Overnight

French light pollution law is expected to save 250,000 tonnes of C02 a year

Shops and offices throughout France will be forced to turn off their lights overnight in a bid to fight light pollution, the country’s environment ministry has announced.

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

More in France Are Turning to Islam, Challenging a Nation’s Idea of Itself

CRÉTEIL, France — The spacious and elegant modern building, in the heart of this middle-class suburb of Paris, is known as “the mosque of the converts.”

Every year about 150 Muslim conversion ceremonies are performed in the snow-white structure of the Sahaba mosque in Créteil, with its intricate mosaics and a stunning 81-foot minaret, built in 2008 and a symbol of Islam’s growing presence in France. Among those who come here for Friday Prayer are numerous young former Roman Catholics, wearing the traditional Muslim prayer cap and long robe…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Support for Development Aid and Nuclear Power Continues to Shrink

Only 22% of the population thinks more money should be spent on development aid, compared with 50% in 2006, the national statistics office CBS said on Friday.

The contrast is clearest within the two coalition parties. Just 7% of the right-wing VVD say more money should go to aid projects, compared with over 30% of Labour voters.

The new coalition agreed to slash the aid budget by €1bn from next year, taking the Netherlands below the UN target of 0.7% of GDP.

The new CBS survey also shows just 20% of voters favour building more nuclear power stations. In 2010, one third of the population backed an expansion of nuclear power.

The figures are contained in the latest CBS voter survey, which canvassed public opinion on the big issues shortly after the general election.

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

Scotland: Leigh Griffiths Charged Over Alleged Racist Tweet

Hibernian striker Leigh Griffiths has been charged over an alleged racist comment on networking site Twitter.

It was claimed last month that, in response to a tweet, the Scotland international told user Zak Iqbal to go “back to your own country”.

Police said: “A 22-year-old man has been arrested and charged under the Communications Act in connection with an incident on 10 January 2013.”

He has been bailed to appear at court at a later date.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Taxes Saved Italy But It’s Time to Reduce Them, Says Monti

(AGI) — Milan, Feb 2 — New taxes have saved Italy’s economy but it is now time to reduce them, said outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti. “Taxes in place are those left by my predecessor plus those necessary to save the country from insolvency. At least this time the taxes served a purpose and did not just end up going to unclear ends. Italy is on firm ground again, and now we can gradually go about reducing them, “ he told a meeting in Milan.

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

Tenerife Beheading: Court Date for Jennifer Mills-Westley Suspect

Nearly two years after a woman from Norfolk was stabbed and beheaded while in Spain, a date has been set for the case to come to court.

Jennifer Mills-Westley, 60, a retired road safety officer from Norwich, was killed in the resort of Los Cristianos, on the island of Tenerife, in May 2011.

Deyan Deyanov, a Bulgarian man with a history of mental health problems, was arrested on suspicion of murder.

The hearing against him is due to start on 18 February.

Only when the legal proceedings have been completed can a full inquest into Ms Mills-Westley’s death finally be held.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

The Top Five Contributors to the EU Budget

by Anna Calida

There are different ways to rank contributors to the European Union (EU) budget, but it is more accurate for us to only consider the “net contributors”, for basically all EU member states contribute. Net contributors can be simply defined as member states which get less out of the budget than they pay into it. According to research done by Deutsch Bank AG, there are three ways to calculate and rank net contributors to the EU budget:

1) Absolute term :

The first way of ranking is based on absolute payment, which, as the name suggests, is about how much, literally, a member state contributes to the EU budget.

According to this definition, the top five (net) contributors are:

  • Germany (€8,797 millions)
  • France (€6,461 millions)
  • Italy (€6,046 millions)
  • United Kingdom (€3,865 millions)
  • Denmark (€1,163 millions)

By right, Germany would have topped the chart of contributors to the EU budget. However, since contributions to the EU budget partly reflects the strength of a member state’s economy, which in turn is affected by the size of the country, it is rather biased of us to rank contributors solely based on how much they pay without considering other involved factors. A more comprehensive approach, therefore, will take into account the economic output (which partly reflects the strength of an economy) into ranking.

2) Proportion of national economic output:

A better alternative to ranking contributors is by calculating and comparing contribution as a proportion of Gross National Product.

According to this way of ranking, the top five (net) contributors are:

  • Denmark (0.53 %)
  • Italy (0.41%)
  • Germany (0.37 %)
  • Finland (0.36 %)
  • France (0.34 %)

An alternative to this method of ranking uses per capita terms, as the population size inherently affects economic strength as well as measurement of national economic output. For example, two countries A and B with equal GNP, if A has larger population size, its GNP per capita will naturally be smaller than B, making A less well-off.

3) Per capita terms:

The top five contributors in this case are:

  • Denmark (€211.0 / person)
  • Finland (€113.8 / person)
  • Germany (€107.3 / person)
  • Italy (€100.7 / person)
  • France (€100.4 / person)

The ranking of top five (net) contributors shows us which member states contribute the most and get back the least. That is the simple understanding. Nevertheless, things are never so simple: even these net contributors gain back more than we think, as part of the contributions goes into structural funds; for instance, transnational infrastructure that benefits all member states. The idea of ranking contributors, therefore, is much more complex than it appears.

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

UK: Autism Risk of Drug Taken by Thousands of Mums for Epilepsy

An epilepsy drug taken by thousands of women has been linked to learning disabilities in children.

Researchers say as many as one in three children born to mothers taking Epilim have developed autism or behavioural problems.

They believe up to 17,500 children in Britain have been affected since 1973, when it was launched.

Families campaigning for the manufacturer Sanofi to withdraw the drug are to meet Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham this week to enlist his support.

Around 21,500 women of childbearing age take Epilim in the UK every year to control or prevent seizures. It is one of the registered trade names for sodium valproate, which affects electrical activity in the brain.

But doctors have known for some time that the drug may cause developmental problems or deformities in babies.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Blair May be the One to Save Dave

SILVER-TONGUED Tony Blair is out of practice and falters a little but he is still king of the TV sofa.

His great political skill is to offer apparent support while simultaneously inserting the stiletto. He did so brilliantly yesterday when asked on BBC TV just why Left-lurching Labour should be trusted again under Ed Miliband. We know the ex-PM wanted older brother David to win the Labour crown and is bitterly disappointed that Red Ed has since turned his back on the New Labour brand…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Carol Sarler’s Granddaughter Was Damaged by a Toxic Medicine… Here She Reveals Brutal Indifference of Officials Who Won’t Help

Milly is profoundly, irreversibly brain damaged. She was poisoned by a drug that some call ‘the new thalidomide’: for what thalidomide did to unborn limbs, sodium valproate does to unborn brains.

Estimates vary, but reliable ones have put the figure as high as 45,000 children in the UK who have been affected by this drug; approximately half with physical malformation and half, like Milly, with neurodevelopmental damage.

My daughter Flynn was foolishly prescribed it by a very senior consultant neurologist — who should have known better — to control epilepsy; what it also did was attack her baby, killing and mutilating brain cells, delivering Milly into the world already disabled beyond cure.

Devastating prescription: Milly’s (pictured with family dog Jackson) mother Flynn was prescribed sodium valproate to control epilepsy which attacked her baby, killing and mutilating Milly’s brain cells


Well, that didn’t sound too hard. People like us, we can follow instructions. So I phoned our local authority, Haringey, for an application form to start the assessment. I didn’t know, then, that the woman I asked — whose name was Janet — was a big-wig. And I didn’t expect her irritable question as to why I wanted the form.

‘My grandchild,’ I began, ‘she has, b-brain-damage’ — my voice tends, still, to wobble on the words — ‘and we think she’ll need, um, help…

Let me ask you another question. If anyone, anyone at all, said that sentence to you, what would be the very first words out of your mouth? You’d say — wouldn’t you? — ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’

What this Janet person said was: ‘Your grandchild’s health is no concern of mine.’

The naked hostility was a slap in the face. For the first time, though certainly not the last, I remembered that Haringey is the council notorious for its failing of Baby P; clearly, when it comes to compassion in child welfare, they haven’t learnt much since. Janet snapped some more. Something about how she dealt solely with educational needs, and Milly wasn’t at school, so they couldn’t assess how she was coping, so we were wasting our time and hers.

[Comment: Heartbreaking account of a family trying to cope with the discovery that the new child to the family is brain damaged because of this epilepsy drug.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: English National Resistance Rallies the Masses Against Abu Qatada

Despite being served with a court injunction banning them from going within 500 metres of Abu Qatada’s family home, on Saturday the English National Resistance went ahead with what they called a “peaceful, responsible and effective small scale demonstration” just outside the exclusion zone…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Huddersfield Afghanistan Death Soldiers’ Memorial Unveiled

Hundreds of people have attended the unveiling of a memorial for six soldiers from the Huddersfield area who died in Afghanistan.

The memorial commemorates Pte Anton Frampton, Cpl Jake Hartley, Capt Lisa Jade Head, L/Cpl Graham Shaw, Pte Daniel Wilford and Pte Tom Wroe. It was unveiled during a ceremony at Golcar Royal British Legion club. Audley Buckle, from the legion, said: “It’s hurtful to know our children are still going and getting killed. We certainly shall remember them,” he added. All were serving with the Yorkshire Regiment apart from 29-year-old Capt Head, who was serving with the Royal Logistic Corps…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Mosque Leaders Condemn ‘Political’ Demonstration That Forced Town Hall Closure

Newham Town Hall closed temporarily earlier today as protesters blocked the entrances demonstrating against legal action involving the controversial site for plans for Britain’s biggest mosque.

Trustees of the Riverine Centre, who are behind the mosque development, have condemned the action involving around 300 people. The crowd outside was believed to have been orchestrated by a group calling themselves the Newham People’s Alliance who posted a video to their website calling for widespread support for the Town Hall demonstration.

The group stated that it was protesting against Newham Council’s decision to take legal action to clear the Riverine Centre site currently used to house the London Markaz, a temporary hub for up to 2,500 Muslims. The protest was peaceful and lasted around an hour but council officials decided to close the Town Hall in East Ham as a precaution for public safety.

Solad Sikander Mohammed, a spokesman for the Trustees of the Riverine Centre, condemned the Alliance’s action as ‘trying to use the Riverine Centre planning issue for their political benefit and they have nothing to do with our organisation and they do not have our support.’ The Trustees have been campaigning to build a new mosque at the site in Canning Road, West Ham, but the plans were rejected last month on the grounds that the land is designated for mixed residential commercial use and not enough consideration had been given to transport issues. Muslim community leaders had said that the 90,000 Muslims in the borough were growing and needed a bigger base for worship.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The Moment Taser Police Take Down Knifeman Outside Buckingham Palace: Terror at Changing of the Guard as Man Breaks Security Cordon

(DAILYMAIL) — Holding a blade to his own throat, this was the moment a knifeman brought chaos to the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace yesterday.

Talhat Rehman, 54, of Harrow, has been charged with possessing a bladed weapon in public and affray, and will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court today.

The middle-aged man walked through crowds of tourists clutching two large kitchen knives before police surrounded him and used a Taser stun gun to disarm him.

As a policeman shouted a warning call of ‘Taser, Taser, Taser’ to his colleagues, the knifeman allegedly lunged forward, brandishing a six-inch blade in a series of swipes, before falling to the floor as he was stunned by the electrical charge.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Video: Nigel Farage’s UKIP on the Increasing European and Soviet Union Similarities

From Margaret Thatcher’s original (now extremely prescient) warning of the European Union’s structure creating “insecurity, unemployment, national resentment, and ethnic conflict” to Nigel Farage’s recent clarifications on the agonizing direction in which the unelected leadership of the Union are pulling Europe, this brief 3 minute clip draws some significantly eery similarities between the former Soviet Union and the current European Union. Every now and again, a step back to look for context in history is important — as while the Soviet Union was created by armed force, the European Union is being forced by political coercion and economic bullying. Perhaps Churchill summed up best how it should be, “We are with Europe, but not of it; we are linked but not combined; we are interested and associated but not absorbed.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Was Iran Really Responsible for Lockerbie Bombing? French Spy Expert Claims That CIA and FBI Know But Have Covered the Information Up

The CIA has allegedly always known that Iran and not Libya was behind the deadly 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which came down over Lockerbie, Scotland causing the deaths of 270 people.

Ignored for almost 25-years as an unverified conspiracy theory, the respected New York Times journalist and Middle-East expert Robert Worth claims in a recent piece that a former CIA operative confirmed to him an Iranian role in the December bombing.

The controversial claim that ‘the best intelligence’ on the Lockerbie bombing leads to Iran, rewrites a quarter of a century of accepted history that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya ordered the terror outrage as revenge for a 1986 U.S. attack on the North African country.

The motive for the attack by Iran was as revenge for Iran Air Flight 655, which was shot down over the Persian Gulf in July 1988 by the USS Vincennes, killing all 290 passengers and crew members on board.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Serbia: Foreign Investment, Almost 16 Bln Euros in 12 Years

Italy top of list in terms of amount invested

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, FEBRUARY 4 — The top 150 foreign investments have brought 15.96 billion euros into Serbia over the past 12 years, the National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED) made known on Monday. In terms of number of projects, Germany tops the list with 30 investments made, followed by Austria (23), Italy (18), Slovenia (16), and France (12). Italy tops the list in terms of amounts invested (1.99 billion euros), followed by Austria (1.96 billion), Norway (1.6 billion), Belgium (1.48 billion), and Greece (1.23 billion).

The majority of foreign investments were made in the automotive sector (21), food (18), banking and insurance (15), and and construction.

Norwegian-based Telenor Group made the most conspicuous investment (1.6 billion euros), followed by Russia’s Gazprom Neft (947 million euros), Italian carmaker Fiat (940 million), Croatian food group Agrokor (614 million), US-based conglomerate Philip Morris (611 million), and Mobilkom Austria (570 million).

The most foreign investments and the biggest capital influx occurred in 2003, according to NALED.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Young Activist Dies, Movement Denounces Torture

Supporter of ex candidate Sabbahi, funerals today in Tahrir

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — A young activist of the Egyptian Popular Current movement led by the former presidential candidate Hamdin Sabbahi died Sunday in a hospital in Cairo where he was being treated since January 28, health ministry spokesman Ahmed Omar has said. Mohamed Nabil el Guendi, 28, was in a coma with cerebral oedema and an internal hemorrhage. The movement denounced that the activist had disappeared from Tahrir square and accused authorities of kidnapping and torturing him.

The spokesman said Guendi disappeared for four days before arriving at the Helal hospital on January 28. He was unconscious at the time. Prosecutors have opened an investigation over the Popular Current movement’s allegations that the activist was kidnapped and tortured by security forces. ‘This is a premeditated act and shows the return of old practices like kidnappings, torture and aggression’, said the party in a statement. Guendi’s funeral will take place Monday afternoon at the Omar Makram mosque in Tahrir square and will be attended by Sabbahi.

Meanwhile the situation was calm on Monday morning after clashes resumed last night near the presidential palace and in the area between the Nile and Tahrir square in the city centre.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt to be Elected as OIC Office Head

Participants in a preparatory meeting of senior officials of the 12th Islamic summit on Saturday 2/2/2013 decided to choose Egypt as head of the office of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Senegal, the chair of the 11th Islamic summit, was elected as rapporteur of the office. Palestine, Pakistan and Uganda will join the OIC office as members.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

IDF Arrests Senior Hamas Figures in the West Bank

Hamas officials, including legislators and top figures, were arrested in pre-dawn raids on their homes in Nablus, Hebron.

The IDF has arrested a number of senior Hamas figures in the West Bank, Palestinian sources said Monday. The sources said the Hamas officials were arrested in pre-dawn raids on their homes in Nablus and Hebron. Among those arrested, according to the sources, are three Hamas legislators: Ahmed Attoun, Mohamed al-Tal and Hatem Kafisheh. The IDF also arrested top Hamas figures Adnan Asfour, Baker Bilal and Omar al-Jabarini…

[JP note: Well done.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Iran Insists it Did Send Monkey Into Space

Iran has insisted that it really did send a monkey into space — and the confusion over the simian’s identity was down to state media showing the wrong animal.

The two different monkeys shown in the photos released by Iran’s state media caused some international observers to wonder whether the monkey had died in space or that the launch did not go well. One set of pictures showed a relatively dark-haired monkey. Another showed a different monkey — strapped in a pod — that had light grey hair and a distinctive red mole over its right eye…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Iraq: Up to 30 Killed in Suicide Attack on Iraqi Police Headquarters

Up to 30 people were killed in an suicide attack on a police headquarters in Iraq when militants dressed in police uniform detonated a car bomb and then tried to storm the compound.

The car was also disguised as a police vehicle and the rush hour explosion was quickly followed by an assault from at least three gunmen armed with hand grenades and suicide vests. The attackers threw several grenades as they burst through the main gate of the Kirkuk police compound, but were shot dead before they could reach the headquarters building…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Kahlili Reports North Koreans May be Among 40 Dead at Alleged Fordow Blast in Iran

World Net Daily (WND) was tagged “a CIA mouthpiece” by IRNA, the Islamic Regime’s official news agency. IRNA’s accusations aside, the government news agency reported verbatim the essence of various WND articles by Reza Kahlili about the mysterious explosions at the Fordow enrichment facility deep in a mountain near Qom. Reza Kahlili is an ex-CIA spy and a former member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The IRNA reports may be a back handed means of confirming the catastrophic explosion that was alleged to have destroyed many centrifuges, trapping over 200 persons underground along with supplies of 20 percent enriched uranium. Among the 40 dead according to a source in the security detail at Fordow were North Koreans. Perhaps the alleged Fordow enrichment facility blast may have prompted Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi at the Munich International Security Conference to suggest that the Islamic regime might entertain direct talks with the US over its nuclear weapons development program. Salehi suggested that the US gave up its “contradictory approach”, an allusion to “keeping all options on the table”. Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak speaking at the same Munich Security Conference said Israel is serious in its resolve to stop Iran and would continue to “keep all options on the table”.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Erdogan Calls EU’s Bluff Once More

‘We’ve been waiting 50 years, say yes or we look elsewhere’

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, FEBRUARY 4 — Islamic nationalist Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday threatened to stop negotiations for EU adhesion and to look for alternatives unless European leaders get a move on. “Shouldn’t a country that has been made to wait for 50 years make a decision?” he thundered from Prague, where he arrived today, adding he will go to Brussels to put the question to EU leaders himself.

“If you want (to accept Turkey), do so. If you do not intend to do so, then you should say so. Or we can say it ourselves if you prefer,” said the leader of what has become the 16th world economy. After a 10-year economic boom at China-style rhythms, Ankara is now stretching its muscles as a regional power in the name of the Ottoman imperial past Erdogan holds dear. Turkey has had its eyes set on EU adhesion since its first treaty with the European common market, back in 1963. But it has since been kept at a distance for a number of reasons, including Turkey’s 1974 occupation of the northern half of Cyprus. Actual negotiations began in 2005, progressing at a snail’s pace — with just one out of 35 negotiation chapters cleared in eight years — while Europe got busy letting everyone else in: the post-Communists, the Mediterranean countries, and those from the Balkans. While officially several countries support Turkey’s adhesion, unofficially many are troubled at the idea of adding a 75-million strong Muslim country with a declared Islamic leader — one that is as big as Germany and an imperfect democracy to boot: Turkey is the world’s biggest jail for journalists, according to a December 2012 Reporters Without Borders report.

Last month on TV, in what analysts said was an attempt to call the EU’s bluff, Erdogan said he might adhere instead to the so-called Shaghai Pact, aka the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which is made up of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

“I talked it over with (Russian Premier Vladimir) Putin,” he said at the time, only to admit yesterday that the SCO, which is no way comparable to the EU, is not a viable alternative.

The mood has shifted in Turkey, where Erdogan’s rise to power has increased the political influence of the Anatolian bourgeoisie over that of the European middle class in Istanbul.

While in 2008, 69% of Turks supported EU adhesion, that number has since dropped to 33.3%, according to a recent survey by Turkish foreign policy think tank EDAM. Another 19.7% want “a different relationship” with the EU, and 40% think Turkey no longer needs Europe. The feeling, analysts said, is that more and more, Turkey is turning away from the West and looking towards Eurasia.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Islam Played Important Role in Russian Civilisation

MUSCAT — Islam has played an important role in the rise of Russian civilisation. It is its inherent part and the history of Islamic studies in Russia, termed the “Eastern-Western community” by the great Russian-orthodox Russian philosopher Nikolay Berdiaev, seems to prove it, said Efim Rezvan, Professor of Russian Academy of Sciences and Deputy Director of Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunskamera), during a lecture, organised by the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque yesterday. Rezvan drew the attention to several facts which illustrate the principle to live together while remaining diverse which characterises the peculiar Eurasian cultural-historical type influence that has helped the development of Islamic studies in Russia…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Suicide Bomber Blown Up Prematurely by Spam Text

A “BLACK Widow” suicide bomber who planned to detonate explosives in central Moscow was killed when a spam text message from her mobile-phone company set off the device early.

News of the botched New Year’s Eve operation emerged yesterday as Russian security sources said they had identified the suicide bomber who killed 35 people at a Moscow airport last week.

He was a 20-year-old man from the North Caucasus, a spokesman for the national investigative committee said.

It was also revealed that the explosive belt the man was wearing had been remotely activated. Terror attacks in Russia have ramped up during recent years, with suicide bombings becoming more common.

The “Black Widow” bomber, who has not been named, had intended to detonate the explosives in a busy square on January 31.

But a spam message wishing her a happy new year caused it to go off earlier than planned, instantly killing her but not harming others, security sources said.

The woman had been at a safe house in Moscow with two other bombers when the device exploded.

Mobile phones are often used as detonators by Islamist terrorist groups in Russia.

A “handler” who watches the bomber as they move into the target area sends them a text message to detonate the explosives.

The phones, which have not been previously used, are usually kept turned off until the last minute.

The woman’s handler has been named as Zeinat Suyunova, 24, whose husband is in prison for being a member of a radical Islamist terror group…

           — Hat tip: Henrik Ræder Clausen [Return to headlines]

British Soldiers in Afghanistan Get Hand-Held Helicopter Drones

Britain’s military says its soldiers in Afghanistan have been issued with surveillance drones so small they can fit in the palm of your hand. The Scandinavian-designed Black Hornet Nano weighs as little as 16 grams — the same as a finch. The 10-centimetre-long helicopter is fitted with a tiny camera which relays still images and video to a remote terminal…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Hamid Karzai: Security in Afghanistan Was Better Before British Troops Arrived

Afghan president Hamid Karzai has said that security was better in southern Helmand before the arrival of British troops and questioned whether international forces had been fighting in the right part of the country for the past 10 years.

Mr Karzai, who has led the country since 2001, also said he was not sure if western forces were pulling out because they had realised the mission was a mistake, or if they believed they had successfully broken up the country’s terrorist groups…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Christian Man Mortally Wounded in Baluchistan for Refusing to Convert to Islam

Younas Masih, 55, died this afternoon after days in agony. Last Thursday, a gunman shot him five times as he made his way home from work. Recently, his co-workers had tried to force him to embrace Islam. Police has refused so far to open an investigation into his murder.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — Younas Masih died this afternoon after he was shot five times last Thursday as he made his way home. An unknown gunman fired at the 55-year-old Christian man. From the beginning, his conditions appeared critical. It is believed he was attacked after he resisted pressures from co-workers to convert to Islam.

Masih worked for a company in Chaman. His friends describe him as honest and reliable. Strong in his Christian faith, he was regularly involved in his local parish.

Speaking anonymously, local sources told AsiaNews that Muslim co-workers had began pressuring him to convert, which he rejected, standing firm in his beliefs in Christ.

Despite the fact that people were talking behind his back and had made repeated threats against him, he continued to work for the same company and stood firm against pressures and attempts at blackmail.

Last Thursday, his co-workers tried again, asking him to convert. A heated discussion followed that included insults and threats. When he went home Masih was attacked by a gunman who fired five bullets into him.

After he was rushed to a hospital, his conditions appeared critical from the start. Doctors removed the bullets and had him moved into the intensive care unit where he eventually died.

His son tried to file a First Information Report (FIR) with local police who refused to register his complaint. Despite repeated attempts, they refused to heed the family’s pleas for justice. Devastated by his death, the family now feels abandoned by the authorities.

Groups like the Masihi Foundation and Life for All quickly condemned the murder. Acting on behalf of the family, they expressed their dismay at the lack of action by police and local authorities,.

For Fr James Chand, a priest in Quetta, killing a man for his faith is a “tragedy that that breaks one’s heart.”

Speaking to AsiaNews, he confirmed that Younas Masih had been repeatedly threatened, adding that “the behaviour of the concerned authorities was even more devastating.”

“We demand protection for the lives and property of minorities in Pakistan,” the clergyman said. “The authorities must ensure and safeguard the basic rights of minorities and protect them from hatred and violence.”

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

Pakistan Plans $30 Million Amusement Park for Town Where Bin Laden Was Killed

The town of Abbottabad may be known as the site where U.S. Navy SEALs shot and killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011. But that may soon change, as Pakistani authorities have put in motion plans to build a $30 million amusement park in the area, complete with a zoo and adventure sports facilities and restaurants, according to a Raw Story report.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province governing officials hope the project will boost tourism and, in turn, local economies, according to the report. They also hope the fun-filled atmosphere will overcome the town’s image and offset its humiliation from the successful U.S. raid, the report continued.

“The amusement city will be built on 50 acres in the first phase but later will be extended to 500 acres,” said Syed Aqil Shah, the provincial minister for tourism and sports, in the Raw Story report. “It will have a heritage park, wildlife zoo, food street, adventure and paragliding clubs, waterfalls and jogging tracks.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Thailand: Princess to Make Islam School Visit

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will visit Prateepsasana Islamic School in Nakhon Si Thammarat next week. Surin Pitsuwan, chairman of the school’s Foundation for Educational Development, said the princess would pay a private visit next Monday. Mr Surin, a former secretary-general of Asean, said the princess has shown interest in the teaching and management methods of Prateepsasana, regarded as one of the country’s leading private Islamic schools. During one of the princess’s visits to Narathiwat province, she made it known to her close aides that she wanted other schools in the South to be run in a similar manner to Prateepsasana. The princess is the patron of 14 Islamic schools in the South.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

To Curb Rape, Muslim Group Calls for End to Co-Ed Schools in India

Many Muslims are rejecting the suggestion made by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and argue that it runs counter to recent trends in the Indian Muslim community.

Following the violent gang rape of a young medical student on a Delhi bus last month, some top Muslim clerics say ending co-ed schools would prevent rapes. But the suggestion has found few takers: Even among Muslims, many are opposing it fiercely…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Eating Hot Food From Melamine Plates Increases Risk of Kidney Stones

(NaturalNews) Melamine plates and cups have been the tableware of choice for many Western families during the last couple of decades, and they are fondly associated with children’s parties and outdoor picnics. According to a new study by researchers at the Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan; however, melamine tableware releases toxic quantities of kidney stone-forming melamine when exposed to high temperatures — such as when they’re holding hot food.

The study, which was published in the January 2013 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, monitored the urine samples of two groups of adult volunteers. One group was asked to eat hot noodle soup from a melamine bowl, while the control group was asked to eat the same from a ceramic bowl. Urine samples were collected once before the meal, and six times within the 12-hour period thereafter.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Clayton Mosque: Monash Say “Yes” Firmly

In the previous decade, the Church of Christ Fellowship in Clayton, the All Nations Presbyterian Church in Mulgrave and the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mount Waverley were all given planning permits by council officers. All, like the Beddoe Avenue mosque, are located in residential areas across Monash. Mayor Micaela Drieberg said that normally council officers would decide such an application. “You would have heard many of the councillors question why it had even come to council,” she said. “The vast majority of planning decisions are made by our staff.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

White Supremacists Ready for Fight

WHITE supremacists are urging Australian “patriots” to gather at public meetings by the controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders, ready for trouble and a no-holds barred fight.

Tensions have been mounting over the impending visit of the far right-wing politician who has been accused of Islamophobia and racism. One group, Australian New Nation, has been encouraging followers to react to any threat or sign of violence from Muslim protesters who might attend…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Migrants Handed £1m a Week for Children Back Home as Thousands of British Families Are Stripped of Their Child Benefit

Britain is giving EU immigrants £1million a week in handouts for children who live abroad.

The payments include child benefit — which was stripped from more than one million British families last month.

The bill is likely to rise still further when Romanians and Bulgarians get free access to the UK jobs market on January 1.

Critics said it was ‘absurd’ to carry on sending money to countries such as Poland when families were losing out at home.

Overall, there are 24,082 child benefit awards currently being made, in respect of 40,171 children, according to a study.

EU citizens are also pocketing child tax credits on behalf of youngsters who are living overseas.

It costs the taxpayer an astonishing £55million a year to fund this system, which is only replicated in four other EU countries. The other 22 nations require the child to be resident in order to qualify.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Senate Plan Would Give Napolitano the Final Say on Border Security

Under a bipartisan Senate framework, Democrats say, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano would have final say over whether the border is secure enough to put 11 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship.

If Napolitano does not provide the green light for putting illegal immigrants on a pathway to citizenship, the responsibility for judging whether the metrics for border security have been met will be given to her successor.

The early debate over immigration reform has yielded two thorny questions: What metrics will be used to determine whether the goals for border security and other safeguards against illegal immigration have been met? Who will decide whether the metrics have been achieved?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Hispanic Vote and Immigration

Border Security, Build the Fence! Enforcement of our current laws, Stop the welfare benefits for illegal aliens, Fix legal immigration.

First I would like to discuss the usage of the term “Hispanic.” As someone who immigrated from Cuba I am considered Hispanic. The interesting thing is that this word was never used while I was growing up in Cuba. I was known as someone who was first generation Cuban having Spanish parents (that is, from Spain). At my private Catholic school for girls, I was taught by Dominican sisters who believed in a strong liberal arts education for women. Early in life, I learned that my race was Caucasian (white) and my ancestry was Spanish (from colonizer Spain). I was never even called “Latina”.

The term ‘Hispanic’ has been chosen by politicians to attract votes from a group of certain ethnic origin. Just like with Blacks, politicians like to identify ethnic minorities as a voting bloc. It is probably due to both ignorance and arrogance. As someone born in Cuba into a European family, raised in a conservative environment, attending Catholic schools, and having had a solid liberal arts education, I have absolutely nothing in common with the illegal aliens who cross the border. Anyone wishing to take this comment as racist, go ahead. However, be advised that the worst form of racism comes from the liberal democrats who are so condescending as to believe all Hispanics are equally ignorant and poor, and so needing of their support and guidance.

Most Americans of Cuban descent are conservative (exceptions can be found among the most recent immigration groups) Why? Three very important factors:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Crimmigrants

17 most wanted foreign villains hiding in UK

A MOST-wanted list of foreign criminals believed to be hiding in Britain has been released by cops. It includes three suspected murderers, an alleged rapist and violent villains hunted by authorities across Europe. Top is Dritan Rexhepi, 32, on the run from a double murder in his native Albania since 1999. One of the two women on the list — Latvian Svetlana Mironenkova, 43 — is sought for human trafficking. Det Sgt Peter Rance, who is leading Operation Sunfire, warned the public not to approach the fugitives…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

France: Women in Paris Finally Allowed to Wear Trousers

A 200-year-old law forbidding women to wear trousers in Paris has finally been revoked.

On January 31, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s minister of women’s rights, made it officially impossible to arrest a woman for wearing trousers in the French capital. The law required women to ask police for special permission to “dress as men” in Paris, or risk being taken into custody. In 1892 and 1909 the rule was amended to allow women to wear trousers, “if the woman is holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italy: British Conductor at Centre of La Scala Opera Row

One of Britain’s most sought-after conductors has found himself at the centre of a bitter row between Milan’s La Scala opera house and the theatre’s fiercest critic after being accused of making Wagner sound “homosexual”.

The furore began when Daniel Harding, who has enjoyed a high-flying career since being appointed Sir Simon Rattle’s assistant as a teenager, was subjected to withering criticism by Paolo Isotta, a feared opera reviewer. First, Isotta, who works for the respected Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, described Mr Harding’s conducting of Verdi’s Falstaff as “heavy and pedantic”. He then delivered an even more scathing put-down of the British conductor’s work on a piece from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, stating: “Harding’s conducting was so soft it made you think he wanted to back the unfounded theory that Wagner was homosexual.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Obama Urges Boy Scouts to Accept Gay Members

(AGI) — Washington, Feb. 4 — According to Barack Obama, the Boys Scouts of America should follow the example of the U.S. army and accept openly gay members. The president voiced his opinion at a time in which the youth organization, the last U.S.

homophobic stronghold recently rocked by a paedophile scandal, is struggling about changing its 103 year old anti-gay policy.

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

Obama Says Boy Scouts Should Allow Gays as Members

President Barack Obama said Sunday that gays should be allowed in the Boy Scouts and women should be allowed in military combat roles, weighing in on two storied American institutions facing proposals to end long-held exclusions.

The president’s comments in a pre-Super Bowl interview on CBS come ahead of this week’s meeting of the Boy Scouts’ national executive board. A proposal to open up the Scouts’ membership to gays is expected to be discussed and possibly voted on at the gathering in Texas.

“My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life,” Obama said. “The Scouts are a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives. And I think nobody should be barred from that.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Slips Gays Into Immigration Plan

Yesterday, the White House released a “Fact Sheet” on the subject, “Fixing our Broken Immigration System so Everyone Plays by the Rules.” Toward the end of this statement is a section, “Keep Families Together” that includes the following sentence: “It [the proposal] also treats same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner.”

In other words, homosexual unions are to be treated equal in status to naturally formed families. The term “permanent relationship” is, of course, shorthand for what the Obama administration seeks to redefine as gay “marriages.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Racism is Poisoning Online Ad Delivery, Says Harvard Professor

Google searches involving black-sounding names are more likely to serves up ads suggestive of a criminal record than white-sounding names, says computer scientist

“Have you ever been arrested? Imagine the question not appearing in the solitude of your thoughts as you read this paper, but appearing explicitly whenever someone queries your name in a search engine.”

So begins Latanya Sweeney at Harvard University in a compelling paper arguing that racial discrimination plagues online ad delivery.

Many people will have experience Googling friends, colleagues and relatives to find out about their online presence—the websites on which they appear, their pictures, hobbies and so on.

Sweeney’s interest is in the ads that appear alongside these results. When she entered her name in Google an ad appeared with the wording:

“Latanya Sweeney, Arrested? 1) Enter name and state 2) Access full background. Checks instantly.”

This is suggestive wording. It suggests that Latanya Sweeney has a criminal record the details of which can be accessed by clicking on the ad. But after hitting the link and paying the necessary subscription fee, Sweeney says she found no record of arrest.

What’s interesting about this is that Sweeney’s first name is also suggestive—that she is black. The question Sweeney asks is whether a similar search with a name suggestive of a white racial profile also serves up ads mentioning arrest records.

The answer is a powerful wake up call. Sweeney says she has evidence that black identifying names are up to 25 per cent more likely to be served with an arrest-related ad. “There is discrimination in delivery of these ads,” she concludes.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

The Boy Scouts Flirtation With Dishonor and Destruction

Highly paid executivers buckle to corporate bullying

A press release on Jan. 28 by Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said, “This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, but that the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs.”

In other words, sponsoring organizations could now coerce Scout troops to accept openly homosexual men and boys. Scout councils in liberal jurisdictions would lose the national shield. Those who resist would be kicked out of schools and other locales. This “local option” would signal surrender and destroy the Boy Scouts. Without parental trust, the Boy Scouts, founded in 1910 and which have been instrumental in helping millions of boys transition to manhood, would implode like a popped balloon. Does anyone other than left-wing ideologues and America’s enemies think this would be good for America?

The policy change would pose a real and present danger to the boys, as vividly illustrated by the still-simmering scandals involving serial boy molester Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Although homosexual activists try to camouflage the real issue by saying that it’s about pedophilia, not homosexuality, most of the victims were male teens and young men. Now, the Boy Scouts seem to be on the verge of going in the wrong direction.

A 1994 book, “Scouts Dishonor,” by Patrick Boyle, revealed 1,800 cases in which Scout leaders had been dismissed for abusing boys. In 2010, a jury awarded $18.5 million to a man abused by a pedophilic Scoutmaster. Given all this, it’s unfathomable for the Scouts to flirt with the idea of opening their ranks to males attracted to other males. Some of the perpetrators were married, but they obviously had same-sex inclinations, which is the whole point. We don’t allow men — even trustworthy men — to take nubile young girls camping. It’s a common-sense precaution.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest pro-homosexual group, has a Corporate Equality Index that takes points off corporations that give to traditional values organizations such as the Boy Scouts. What began as a request for tolerance for homosexual employees is now a bullying operation to break companies to the homosexual saddle.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Twitter Censors Black Pro-Lifers Blasting NAACP on Abortion

A coalition of African-American pro-life activists have had their Twitter account suspended after firing off Tweets challenging the NAACP over its position favoring abortion.

As LifeNews reported, the NAACP will host its 44th Image Awards Show to honor cultural and entertainment luminaries presenting the best face of black Americans. Leading black pro-life advocates will be on hand to protest the event, because the NAACP promotes abortion.

At this year’s event, the National Black Prolife Coalition tells LifeNews it will be protesting “due to the failure of the civil rights organization to represent the best interests of the community” including abortion…

The last Tweet sent out was a quote by Dr. Johnny Hunter, National Director of Life Education And Resource Network, who said “Racist elitists no longer need the Ku Klux Klan to control blacks; they have Planned Parenthood. And Planned Parenthood has the NAACP on a leash.”

Less than five minutes later, the account was suspended.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: From @nadinedorriesmp: Not a Single Person in the UK Voted Conservative in 2010 Because We Said We Would Introduce Same-Sex Marriage

Nadine Dorries is MP for Mid Bedfordshire.

I will be voting against the same sex marriage bill tomorrow for a variety of reasons. If I am called to speak I hope to elucidate some of them. Two aspects of the Bill are so important and so compelling, however, I also wanted to write about them here…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Gay Marriage: Churches Fuel Rebellion

Catholics and Anglicans still unhappy with the government’s bill as Tory grassroots backlash reaches Downing Street

A final attempt by the government to head off widespread opposition from its own MPs to the equal marriage bill looks set to fail after churches insisted they were still not happy with the legislation. The culture secretary, Maria Miller, wrote to every MP just over a week ago enclosing a factsheet and “myth buster” based on the department’s latest legal advice on the question of whether churches and individual ministers could be forced to marry gay couples…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: How Tory Left-Collaborators Undermine Marriage, Conservatism and Britain

by Melanie Phillips

The Tories are in ferment. Plots against David Cameron appear to be seeding like dandelion spores. Rebellion looms in the division lobbies. The list of Mr Cameron’s apparent crimes lengthens by the day. The threatened triple-dip depression. Gay marriage. Labour’s lead in the opinion polls. And the fact that the Prime Minister looks like a loser. To which one might marvel at just what a shower these Tories are. For they have behaved mutinously towards every one of their leaders since they toppled Mrs Thatcher in 1990. The reason for this never-ending uproar surely lies deeper, however, than indiscipline among power-crazed MPs or the deficiencies of individual leaders. Indeed, it explains why the Tories just can’t seem to produce a leader they do support. It is that conservatism itself is in crisis. With some honourable exceptions, today’s Tories don’t appear to know what conservatism is for and what it is against…

To ensure the success of its social engineering project, the Left also hijacked the language. ‘Equality’ was twisted into identical outcomes; ‘compassion’ became a fig-leaf for irresponsibility; and ‘liberal’ became a synonym for bullying. Failing utterly to grasp what was happening, the Cameroons decided to ‘detoxify the Tory brand’ by themselves adopting these corrupted terms and ideas. Accordingly, they turned themselves into collaborators with those cultural revolutionaries whose aim was to unpick the intricate tapestry of laws, customs and attitudes that had made Britain civilised. Instead of realising that the supreme task for today’s conservatives is to fight this culture war, they even incorporated the most subversive part of its agenda — the undermining of the traditional family — into their own programme. It is this betrayal of conservatism which lies at the heart of the Tories’ discontents — and for which they will never be forgiven.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Marriage: Union for the Future or Contract for the Present

A new ResPublica Green Paper by Roger Scruton and Phillip Blond

To coincide with the Parliamentary debate on the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, the latest publication from ResPublica, Marriage: Union for the future or contract for the present, criticises the Bill for compromising the meaning of both traditional heterosexual marriage and homosexual partnership. Written by ResPublica Director Phillip Blond and ResPublica Fellow Professor Roger Scruton, the paper argues that there is far more to ‘marriage’ than just its name and any changes to its definition should not be taken lightly…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Marriage Equality or the Destruction of Difference?

Roger Scruton and Phillip Blond

When David Cameron announced his support for same sex marriage during his keynote speech at the 2011 Conservative Party conference, his endorsement stemmed from an understanding of marriage as a means for commitment and social stability: “I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.” The Government’s consequent consultation has now led to the drafting of a Bill currently proceeding through Parliament.

This debate has created many divides across and between religious, civil and advocacy groups — the most unpleasant of which is the demonising of those who question the merits of same sex union as if it were self-evidently homophobic to have reservations about the current proposals. But throughout all of the debate, recognition of the value and worth of marriage has been assumed rather than discussed. Those who advocate the extension of marriage to same sex couples have been very strong on the value of equality but almost silent on the nature of marriage they want equal access to. Whereas those who defend marriage as it is currently defined seem unable to say exactly what its value and worth is and why the institution would suffer from extension to same sex couples. A meaningful discussion about the value and purpose of the institution of marriage itself has not taken place. So, beyond the specifics of the Government’s proposals, we here want to ask: What is marriage, and why does it matter?


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Now Tories Accuse PM of ‘Betrayal’ Over Gay Marriage

GAY marriage embroiled the Tory party in a bitter civil war last night as senior Conservatives accused David Cameron of “betraying” his party over his plans to allow same-sex weddings.

A group of 20 constituency chairman delivered a letter to No 10 yesterday in a last-ditch attempt to persuade the Prime Minister to delay the Commons vote on the issue — scheduled for tomorrow — until after the next election.

The strongly worded letter, delivered by a delegation of six members, protests against the proposals being made “without adequate debate or consultation”.

Edmund Costelloe, who quit as chairman of Somerton and Frome Constituency Conservative Association last month over the policy, said: “It has been bulldozed through, it wasn’t in the manifesto, many, many people would not have voted for candidates had it been known. There is a sense of betrayal.” Geoffrey Vero, chairman of the Conservative association in Surrey Heath where Education Secretary Michael Gove is MP, warned the move “may seriously affect David’s opportunity to get re-elected at 2015”.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Real Conservatism Begins With Culture

To which Whitehall department would you look to first for proof of an authentically conservative government? How about the Treasury, for a recognition of marriage in the tax system? Or the Foreign Office, for the repatriation of powers from the European Union? Alternatively, one might look to the Home Office, for a real return to beat policing; or to the Department for Education, to allow new grammar schools to open beyond the selective Bantustans of Kent and Buckinghamshire. But what might we expect from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport? Some might say absolutely nothing except its immediate abolition. However, that would be more of a libertarian response than a conservative one…

[Reader comment by WrathofRune on 4 February 2013 at about 9:30 am.]

But I thought Call Me Dave’s new fad was to embrace multi-culturism to try and win over the ethnic minorites? Culture has become so diluted as to mean almost nothing to anybody, rather than all embracing for everyone. So what is it to be, multi-culturism or shared culture? Not that we should get any clue from the current Tory party, it would sell its soul for a 1% boost in its metropolitan liberal vote share.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The Same-Sex Marriage Bill — and Why I’m Cutting the Money I Give to the Party

by Paul Goodman

Before marriage was the handfast — a public declaration of commitment by a couple. (There is a charming portrayal of one in As You Like It.) First absorbed by the Church and later abandoned by the state, its memory is a reminder that marriage is at heart not a government-licensed arrangement, but a social institution. In that context, there is an attractive conservative case for same-sex marriage, since institutions, by their very nature, evolve. Just as Shakespeare’s plays evolved from the theatre that preceded them, the argument runs, so marriage can evolve from that of a man to a woman. The cross-dressing and role-playing in Shakespeare’s play can acquire a new dimension. Orlando can marry Touchstone, and Rosalind be wed to Celia…

Unfortunately for the bill’s supporters, this only leads to deeper water — demonstrating why, when biology pulls one way and equality the other, the latter tends to lose, at least when it comes to law-making. The equality slogan thus turns out, when handled, to run through one’s fingers, like sand through a sieve. None the less, it has its uses. For it is a reminder that the bill touches not just upon law in general, but laws in particular — especially the Equality Act of 2010, which places a responsibility on public bodies to “tackle prejudice” and “promote understanding”…

It is impossible to know whether he will scrape a majority of Tory MPs for the bill this evening. But for what it’s worth, my advice to them — if quizzed by Downing Street about their intentions — is to reply: “You want this bill? Scrap the Equalities Act, quit the ECHR — and I’ll look it again, thank you.” However, the Equalities Act is here to stay and, since this is so, a Conservative-led Government should not be taking such risks with religious freedom. A protest is in order. I am cutting the money I give to the party this year. A pathetic gesture, no doubt. I hope and believe it will be a one-off but, like other party members taking the same course, I cannot be sure. Downing Street has set these events in motion, but they have their own momentum.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/4/2013

  1. LOL! So,
    1) the Iranians sent a monkey into space.
    2)Jews are like monkeys and apes.
    3)Iran sent a Jew into space.
    4)Jews are taking over the Iranian space program.

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