Gates of Vienna News Feed 3/12/2013

Judicial authorities in Sudan say that judges need to be trained to carry out amputations of hands and feet, as prescribed by sharia law. This may become necessary if there is a shortage of medical doctors, or if doctors refused to perform such operations.

In financial news, half of Greek corporations fail to pay their employees on time, and a third of Greek employees have no insurance. In a similar vein, more than 7% of Italian companies pay their vendors at least 60 days late.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Insubria, JD, JP, Lurker from Tulsa, 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
» Greece: Half of Firms Don’t Pay Employees on Time
» Italy: Poverty and Deprivation on the Rise Says Study
» Over 7% of Italian Firms Late With Payments
» Surviving the Coming Collapse
» 11-Year-Old Arrested on Rape Allegation
» 4th Amendment? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ 4th Amendment
» Another American Pope Candidate Embraces the Far-Left
» Bad Science and Bad Journalism Are a Bad Combination
» Being Muslim in Las Vegas
» California Seizes Guns as Owners Lose Right to Bear Arms
» ‘Cannibal Cop’ Found Guilty of Conspiracy After Plotting to Kidnap, Cook and Eat Women Including His Own Wife
» Daniel Pipes: Excluding Jews and Others From Juries
» Democrats, Republicans and NRA Work Together on Gun Confiscation
» DHS Arming for War With Americans
» Humans, Chimpanzees and Monkeys Share DNA But Not Gene Regulatory Mechanisms
» Idaho House Approves Bill to Make Gun Confiscation a Criminal Offense
» Most Americans See Government as “Threat to Rights” For First Time
» Private Prisons: The More Americans They Put Behind Bars the More Money They Make
» School Calls Cops Over Water Pistol; Vows to Track Down Owner Using Surveillance Cams
» Super-Sized Aggressive Mosquitoes With a ‘Stabbing’ Bite Are Set to be Unleashed Across Florida This Summer, Bringing Misery for Thousands of Residents.
» The Froggies Are Coming, Don’t Panic
» Why Labeling GMOs is Not Enough
Europe and the EU
» ‘Austrian Amnesia’
» Conclave: Author of Controversial Book Denied Accreditation
» EU Bans Cosmetics With Animal-Tested Ingredients
» France: ‘A €9bn Bill’
» France: Arrested Islamists Suspected of Planning Attack: Paris Prosecutor
» Italy: PDL Parliamentarians Stage Protest at Milan Court
» Italy: Entrepreneur in Vicenza Commits Suicide
» Italy: Financial Police Investigated in “P4” Corruption Inquiry
» Italy: Arrests in New Lombardy Health Probe
» Italy: 8 Turin Council Officials Probed
» Italy: Grillo Invites Berlusconi to Become a Fugitive
» Outrage Over French Plan to Build Wind Farm on Site Where Tens of Thousands of Young British Soldiers Died in WWI Battle of Loos
» UK: Bullfinch Police Arrest 22-Year-Old
» UK: Bullied Schoolboy, 16, ‘Who Planned to Massacre Pupils and Teachers With Home-Made Bombs and Handguns Caught After Chat Room Rant’
» UK: Discover Islam Week: What’s it Like to Wear Hijab?
» UK: Islam School Arrests: Men Bailed
» UK: iERA Banned From University College London
» UK: Man Arrested in Child Sex Probe
» UK: Two Teenagers Accused of Torturing Boy in a Cellar by Pouring Concrete in His Eyes During Horrific Sex Assault
» UK: Teenager Raped 15-Year-Old Girl at Knife-Point in Horrific 90-Minute Ordeal Heard by Her Mother After She Called Mobile Phone
Mediterranean Union
» Italy-Tunisia: New Project to Fight Autoimmune Diseases
North Africa
» Algeria Breaks Up Al-Qaeda Cell
» Egypt: Attorney General Greenlights Citizens’ Arrests
» Libya: Nationwide Daily Newspapers on Strike Tomorrow
Israel and the Palestinians
» Obama’s ‘Disenchanted’ Approach on Talks
» Palestinian Rocket May Have Killed Family of BBC Journalist, Says UN Report
» Will Owen Jones Apologise?
Middle East
» Britain ‘May Veto EU Arms Embargo’ on Syria
» European Jihadists Among Syrian Fighters
» France, Russia, US Identifying Syrian Officials for Talks
» High Tension Remains at Palestinian Refugee Camp in Southern Lebanon
» Saudi Arabia May End Execution by Beheading as it Runs Short of Swordsmen
» Why Doesn’t Obama Drone Strike This Terrorist?
South Asia
» Exclusive Report From the Ground on Pakistan
» Hagel’s Afghanistan Visit and Obama’s Disastrous “Good War”
» Protesting Joseph Colony Rampage
Australia — Pacific
» Trouble Brews Ahead of Mosque Meeting
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Armed Group Opens Fire on Primary School in Nigeria
» Nigeria: Extremist Group, Ansaru, Shows Video of Seven Foreign Workers it Killed
» Sudan’s Deputy Chief Justice Says Judges May be Trained on Carrying Out Amputations
» Amnesty? Should We Tell People It’s Cheaper, And Faster to Bribe Your Way in?
Culture Wars
» EU Porn-Ban Resolution Rejected
» Feds Spend $1.5 Million to Study Fat Lesbians

Greece: Half of Firms Don’t Pay Employees on Time

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MARCH 11 — Half of Greek companies fail to pay their employees on time and one in three workers is uninsured, a Labor Inspectorate official told Skai TV on Monday as Kathimerini online reported. “Greek employees are owed a total of 2.5 million euros in Christmas bonuses and half of Greek firms do not pay their workers promptly”, said Michalis Kandarakis, the public service’s special secretary. Kandarakis added that the economic crisis and the relaxation of labor laws had led to an increasing number of companies scrapping contracts for full time employment. He said there had been a 1,200% increase in the number of companies who offered their employees more flexible forms of employment. Kandarakis said that the Labor Inspectorate received more than 1,000 complaints from employees last year regarding their employers’ practices.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Poverty and Deprivation on the Rise Says Study

Rome, 11 March (AKI) — Poverty and deprivation have increased in Italy during the longest recession in two decades, said a study published by central statistics office Isat and the Cnel think-tank on Monday.

In the first nine months of 2012, the proportion of families in debt almost trebled from 2.3 percent to al 6.5 percent, according to the study.

Nearly seven million people endured “serious deprivation”, a figure that increased by 4.2 percent in 2011 from the previous year, the study found.

A dramtic fall in spending power of five percent between 2007 and 2011 was the cause of this deprivation, the study said.

Although consumer spending decreased only 1.1 percent over that period, families had dug into their saving to maintain their living standards, said the study.

Inequality rose, with the wealthiest fifth of the population enjoying an income 5.6 percent higher than that of the poorest fifth.

Public mistrust of Italy’s politicians and its institutions grew and in March 2012, political parties were ranked just 2.3 on a scale of 1 to 10, the parliament 3.6, local government 4 and the judiciary 4.4.

Also on Monday, data from Istat showed the Italian economy shrank 2.4 percent in 2012 and 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of the year from the previous quarter. The data confirmed an earlier estimate that showed the recession in the eurozone’s third largest economy deepening.

Ratings agency Fitch on Friday downgraded Italy’s credit rating a notch citing the recession and political deadlock after last month’s national election, which have unsettled markets.

Fitch expects the fragile Italian economy a 1.8 percent contraction overall in 2013.

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

Over 7% of Italian Firms Late With Payments

Delays often harbinger of bankruptcy, as crisis bites

(ANSA) — Milan, March 12 — Last year saw a steady rise in the percentage of companies in recession-hit Italy making late payments to suppliers, according to new figures released on Tuesday.

In the period October-December 2012, 7.1% of businesses took more than 60 days to pay their suppliers, up from 5.7% in the second quarter and 6.1% in the third quarter of the same year, business analysis agency Cerved said. The same source said such cases “frequently led to default”. In the last quarter of 2012, Italian companies took on average 85 days to pay suppliers.

The increase in payment delays affected businesses of all dimensions.

However large companies were the worst affected, with the percentage making late payments increasing to 8.2% from 6.9 in July-September.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Surviving the Coming Collapse

I have been accused of writing what some people call “doom porn,” or the “end of the world as we know it” type events that center around the collapse of our fiat monetary system. Most of these accusers are the people who follow the writing and ranting of the talking heads of corporate media who are shilling for the very people and governmental bodies that are responsible for putting us in the very position we find ourselves today.

To be clear, I’m merely an investigator and writer who, for the last 25 years of my career, developed certain contacts working within various levels of our government. I am a much better investigator than a financial expert, an indisputable fact documented by my own personal financial situation. I’m just an average guy with a family, just trying to make ends meet and make sense of it all. Thankfully, my contacts are much more knowledgeable, and it is from this collective group that I’ve tapped for their knowledge and understanding about what we are facing not only as a nation, but on a global scale. A few of my sources were actually present, in-country, during the collapse of the Soviet Union and other nations over the last quarter-century. I’ve interviewed these eyewitnesses to such cataclysmic economic events, and they have shared their accounts and advice that I am offering now…

Based on my investigation, numerous interviews and hours upon hours of extensive research, one thing appears to be certain. The collapse of the U.S. dollar is a mathematical certainty, it merely a question of when. No one seems able to answer the timing aspect of such an event, although they all comfortably believe it will be sometime within the next 18-24 months at the “outside.” Quietly, however, they have murmured that they don’t think we have that much time.

Also of critical importance is the understanding that this is an “engineered” collapse, one that is designed to introduce a single global currency.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

11-Year-Old Arrested on Rape Allegation

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City police say a woman and her 11-year-old son have been arrested after the boy alleged raped his 6-year-old sister.

The Oklahoman reported Monday that the woman was arrested on a complaint of failing to report child abuse while the boy was arrested on a rape complaint. Both are in custody.

Police say the girl told a state Department of Human Services worker that the incident happened last week and that her mother told her not to tell anyone. Police say the allegation came to light when an older sister learned of the incident.

Police say the 6-year-old is now in protective custody.

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa [Return to headlines]

4th Amendment? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ 4th Amendment

Police may solemnly swear to support the Constitution of the United States, but this is increasingly a meaningless formality for many of them.

For instance, a couple cops in Dallas County, Texas, arrived at Jon Locke’s home to serve an arrest warrant on his brother, who wasn’t there. Mr. Locke wasn’t home either, but instead of coming back at a later time when somebody was home and asking about the brother, the police took it upon themselves to violate the Fourth Amendment and rifle through the homeowner’s possessions. They went so far as to enter his home without a search warrant.

According to WFAA News in Dallas-Forth Worth, the homeowner no longer trusts the police and has decided to sell his house and move out of the area. “I don’t feel safe here at all,” he said. “We lost that trust in GPD [the Garland Police Department]. It’s time for us to go,”

Prior to the Revolution, British officialdom used general warrants under Writs of Assistance to search the property of colonists for contraband, a practice that so outraged the founders they made certain the Fourth Amendment became a bedrock principle of the Bill of Rights.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Another American Pope Candidate Embraces the Far-Left

A top aide to a left-wing American Catholic Cardinal, reportedly in the running for the job of pope, taught a course called “Matthew, Marx, Luke, and John” at a pro-Marxist think tank in Washington, D.C. The course included a discussion of “the future of the Christian alliance with Marxism” and the “theology of the oppressed.”

The aide, Fr. J. Bryan Hehir, is described in the book, Religious Leaders and Faith-based Politics: Ten Profiles, as “one of the most important and influential voices in U.S. Catholicism.” A professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Hehir spent 20 years working for the Catholic Bishops and crafting policy positions on a wide range of domestic and foreign policy matters.

Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston, who hired Hehir as the Archdiocese of Boston’s Secretary for Social Services in 2003, has been “generating buzz in Rome as a possible contender to be the next pope,” says a recent report from NBC News. The story quotes an observer as saying O’Malley “could emerge as the next pope from a brokered conclave where the cardinals from the northern and southern hemispheres square off.” The conclave begins on Tuesday. A USA Today story says, “Papal contender: Cardinal Sean O’Malley.”

If Hehir follows O’Malley to Rome, he could be in a position to exercise considerable power from the Vatican over global affairs, such as by promoting President Obama’s vision of a world free of U.S. nuclear weapons. But even if O’Malley doesn’t get the nod, Hehir could be a force in the Vatican. He has connections to Cardinal Peter Turkson, another candidate for the papacy, and played a role in formulating a Vatican document calling for creation of a “central world bank.” One of Hehir’s Harvard courses is “The Politics and Ethics of the Use of Force,” reflecting his desire to be taken seriously as a global affairs expert.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bad Science and Bad Journalism Are a Bad Combination

Making sense of the weather and climate is something that puzzles paleoclimatologists, climatologists, and meteorologists. For example, none of these folks understand why clouds do what they do. That’s probably because the best definition of the weather is “chaos.” It’s the reason meteorologists cannot predict what the weather will be more than four or five days from now.

Instead, we continue to be the victims of global warming charlatans, some of whom are “scientists”, while other scientists with far more integrity have been engaged in debunking their lies since the 1980s. The only thing we know for sure is that the global warming “scientists” are destroying the public’s confidence in the integrity of climate science.


This does not stop the “Warmists” from concocting their “studies” or journalists from repeating their lies in newspapers like The New York Times. The Wall Street Journal article was more cautious and balanced.

As Marc Morano noted at, a leading skeptics’ website, the earth is cooler today than 28% of the past 11,300 years. Yes, cooler. More recently, it has been cooling for nearly seventeen years and it is the direct result of an unusual solar condition. It is supposed to be in a “solar maximum” with lots of sunspots, magnetic storms, but there are few at this time, resulting in less radiation and cooler temperatures for the Earth.

“The new study is also counter to the preponderance of existing peer-reviewed studies,” said Morano, “showing the Medieval Warm Period and the Roman Warming were both as warm or warmer than today without benefit of modern emissions or SUVs.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Being Muslim in Las Vegas

Just a short hop from the undisputed world capital of gambling, fornication, drunkenness and gluttony is a 10,000-strong Muslim community. Jonathan Margolis heads down to the mosque

Even for someone indifferent or downright hostile to religion, Friday prayers at a mosque have a haunting sound and beauty, a compelling quality of devoutness and spirituality rare in any other faith and hard not to find deeply affecting. At Masjid-e-Tawheed, the mosque I am visiting on a crisp winter’s morning, there is good reason, perhaps, for the congregation of more than 200 to feel an extra surge of passion for their faith, of feeling that theirs is the right belief system for this flawed world…

[JP note: Guardian tosh.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

California Seizes Guns as Owners Lose Right to Bear Arms

Wearing bulletproof vests and carrying 40-caliber Glock pistols, nine California Justice Department agents assembled outside a ranch-style house in a suburb east of Los Angeles. They were looking for a gun owner who’d recently spent two days in a mental hospital.

They knocked on the door and asked to come in. About 45 minutes later, they came away peacefully with three firearms.

California is the only state that tracks and disarms people with legally registered guns who have lost the right to own them, according to Attorney General Kamala Harris. Almost 20,000 gun owners in the state are prohibited from possessing firearms, including convicted felons, those under a domestic violence restraining order or deemed mental unstable… The no-gun list is compiled by cross-referencing files on almost 1 million handgun and assault-weapon owners with databases of new criminal records and involuntary mental-health commitments. About 15 to 20 names are added each day, according to the attorney general’s office.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Cannibal Cop’ Found Guilty of Conspiracy After Plotting to Kidnap, Cook and Eat Women Including His Own Wife

[WARNING: *** Disturbing Content *** ]

A police officer accused of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women, including his own wife, has been convicted of conspiracy.

Valle bowed his head and looked teary-eyed when the verdict was announced on Tuesday before hugging his lawyer at Manhattan federal court.

Prosecutors said ‘cannibal cop’ Valle plotted with others he met on fetish websites to abduct, torture and eat women he knew.

The FBI arrested 28-year-old NYPD officer Gilberto Valle last year based on a tip by his now-estranged wife Kathleen Mangan.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Daniel Pipes: Excluding Jews and Others From Juries

Comes the news that Frederick Cohn, the Jewish defense lawyer for Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, asked Brooklyn-based federal judge Eric Vitaliano to exclude Jews from the jury. Shehadeh is charged with three counts of making false statements in connection with his attempts to join jihadis in Pakistan. “Your Honor” Cohn explained in February, “I’m not wild about having Jews on the jury in this case. Given that there’s going to be inflammatory testimony about Jews and Zionism, I think it would be hard for Jews to cast aside any innate antipathy. The American Jewish community is heavily aligned with Israel and Zionism.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Democrats, Republicans and NRA Work Together on Gun Confiscation

Dianne Feinstein’s assault weapon ban now appears to be a little more than decoy sent out to be shot down while the real work on gun control legislation is hammered out by Democrats, Republicans and the NRA behind closed doors.

According to sources cited by, the “NRA is cutting back room deals to centralize gun owner data collection into the Obama/Holder massive government data base.” Republicans are working with Democrats to pass legislation that will require records be kept on all gun sales and also move to streamline and improve the database.

“Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor is leading the charge to give Obama and Holder what they want in exchange for appearing to be ‘fixing’ the problem of innocent children being butchered in our public and private schools,” the website reports.

The collusion reaches all the way to the top of the Republican party. “Newly appointed Republican Judiciary Chairman, Bob Goodlatte R-VA 6th District, is providing political cover for the sneaky back room gun control deals and gun grabbing sell outs that his political masters — — John Boehner and Eric Cantor — are cutting [deals] with Obama and his corrupt Attorney General, Eric Holder.”

At the same time, the establishment media has rolled out a number of public survey polls claiming Americans overwhelmingly approve of registering nearly all firearms under a universal background check scheme.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

DHS Arming for War With Americans

The Denver Post, on February 15th, ran an Associated Press article entitled Homeland Security aims to buy 1.6b rounds of ammo, so far to little notice. It confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security has issued an open purchase order for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. As reported elsewhere, much of this purchase order is for rounds forbidden by international law for use in war, along with a frightening amount specialized for snipers. Also reported elsewhere, at the height of the Iraq War the Army was expending less than 6 million rounds a month. Therefore 1.6 billion rounds would be enough to sustain a hot war for 20+ years. In America.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Humans, Chimpanzees and Monkeys Share DNA But Not Gene Regulatory Mechanisms

Humans, Chimpanzees and Monkeys Share DNA but Not Gene Regulatory Mechanisms. Humans share over 90% of their DNA with their primate cousins. The expression or activity patterns of genes differ across species in ways that help explain each species’ distinct biology and behavior. DNA factors that contribute to the differences were described on Nov. 6 at the American Society of Human Genetics 2012 meeting in a presentation by Yoav Gilad, Ph.D., associate professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Gilad reported that up to 40% of the differences in the expression or activity patterns of genes between humans, chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys can be explained by regulatory mechanisms that determine whether and how a gene’s recipe for a protein is transcribed to the RNA molecule that carries the recipe instructions to the sites in cells where proteins are manufactured…

For years, scientists believed the vast phenotypic differences between humans and chimpanzees would be easily explained — the two species must have significantly different genetic makeups. However, when their genomes were later sequenced, researchers were surprised to learn that the DNA sequences of human and chimpanzee genes are nearly identical. What then is responsible for the many morphological and behavioral differences between the two species?

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have now determined that the insertion and deletion of large pieces of DNA near genes are highly variable between humans and chimpanzees and may account for major differences between the two species.

“Our findings are generally consistent with the notion that the morphological and behavioral differences between humans and chimpanzees are predominately due to differences in the regulation of genes rather than to differences in the sequence of the genes themselves,” said McDonald.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Idaho House Approves Bill to Make Gun Confiscation a Criminal Offense

The Idaho House has approved a measure that makes it a misdemeanor for government and law officials to enforce any new federal firearms laws including bans and registrations.

H.B. 219, or the “Idaho Federal Firearm, Magazine and Register Ban Enforcement Act,” approved Monday 55 — 13, could bring fines of up to $1,000 and a year jail time to any local officials who engage in confiscation, including assistance in such acts with any federal agents.

The bill’s Statement of Purpose also explains the bill’s job in protecting police:

“The legislation also protects Idaho law enforcement officers from their supervisors ordering them to violate this statute. Supervisors doing so would be in violation of this law and officers would not have to follow such an order. Idaho law enforcement officers are partners with Idaho citizens in protecting the rights as outlined in both the U.S. and Idaho Constitutions. This bill demonstrates the commitment of Idaho’s law enforcement officers to Idaho citizens and the legislature’s commitment to protect Idaho law enforcement officers from being forced to violate their oath of office.”

“We do have the authority to protect our first responders and our citizen police forces throughout the state so they don’t have to break their oath of office, putting them in the face of citizens who expect them to protect citizens’ constitutional rights,” said Rep. Mark Patterson (R).

“(Idaho) citizens are pleased they can feel safe Idaho’s law enforcement will not be kicking in their front doors to take their firearms.”

Rep. Holli Woodings (D), an opponent to the legislation, says state police take an oath requiring them to uphold federal and Idaho law and that this bill could force officers to violate their oath of office.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Most Americans See Government as “Threat to Rights” For First Time

A new poll released by the Pew Research Center has found that a majority of Americans now see the government as a threat to their rights for the first time ever.

A total of 53% of Americans view the government as a threat to their “personal rights and freedoms,” with 43% not believing it poses a threat and 4 don’t knows.

The poll also found, “Only 26% saying they can trust government always or most of the time, while 73% say they can trust the government only some of the time or never. Majorities across all partisan and demographic groups express little or no trust in government.”

Just 20% of whites trust the federal government while a mere 26% of Americans across the board view Congress favorably, in comparison with 50% of the public regarding Congress favorably in 2009.

The poll arrives in the aftermath of a separate Rasmussen survey that found just 6 per cent of Americans now rate the mainstream news media as “very trustworthy”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Private Prisons: The More Americans They Put Behind Bars the More Money They Make

How would you describe an industry that wants to put more Americans in prison and keep them there longer so that it can make more money? In America today, approximately 130,000 people are locked up in private prisons that are being run by for-profit companies, and that number is growing very rapidly. Overall, the U.S. has approximately 25 percent of the entire global prison population even though it only has 5 percent of the total global population. The United States has the highest incarceration rate on the entire globe by far, and no nation in the history of the world has ever locked up more of its own citizens than we have.

Are we really such a cesspool of filth and decay that we need to lock up so many of our own people? Or are there some other factors at work? Could part of the problem be that we have allowed companies to lock up men and women in cages for profit? The two largest private prison companies combined to bring in close to $3,000,000,000 in revenue in 2010, and the largest private prison companies have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions over the past decade. Putting Americans behind bars has become very big business, and those companies have been given a perverse incentive to push for even more Americans to be locked up. It is a system that is absolutely teeming with corruption, and it is going to get a lot worse unless someone does something about it.

One of the keys to success in the private prison business it to get politicians to vote your way. That is why the big private prison companies spend so much money on lobbying and campaign contributions. The following is an excerpt from a report put out by the Justice Policy Institute entitled “Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies”…


For example, between 1990 and 2009 the number of Americans in private prisons grew by about 1600 percent.

Overall, the U.S. prison population more than quadrupled between 1980 and 2007.

So something has definitely changed…

Speaking of work, private prisons have found that exploiting their inmates as a source of slave labor can be extraordinarily profitable. Today, private prisons are stealing jobs from ordinary American workers in a whole host of industries.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

School Calls Cops Over Water Pistol; Vows to Track Down Owner Using Surveillance Cams

It is now a daily occurrence for school officials somewhere in America to freak out, call the police, and discipline students over anything vaguely resembling a gun. On Monday it was the turn of Malden High School in Massachusetts.

A teacher at the school reportedly glimpsed sight of a “gun”, and alerted police who rushed to the scene only to discover a neon water pistol.

“A teacher reported hearing a clicking motion, and thought a student may have had a gun,” Superintendent David DeRuosi told reporters.

After school was dismissed, police located the harmless toy and filed a report, according to Malden Police Lt. Det. Marc Gatcomb.

“…no persons were threatened that we know of,” Gatcomb wrote in an email.

Any rational person may have concluded that that was the end of the matter. Not in America 2.0, however.

School officials are now on the hunt for the culprit who brought the water pistol on to school grounds.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Super-Sized Aggressive Mosquitoes With a ‘Stabbing’ Bite Are Set to be Unleashed Across Florida This Summer, Bringing Misery for Thousands of Residents.

In what could have come from a B-list Hollywood film script, the floodwater mosquito is nearly 20 times its normal-sized cousins, can strike either day or night, its eggs can lie dormant for years — and the mosquito might even be tolerant to repellants. And it’s all thanks to recent storms flooding coastal areas of the sunshine state, which paved the way for the mega-sized biters to call Florida their home. Just when you thought genetically modified mosquitoes were the worst we had to face.

The real threat of a surge in the large insects known as gallinippers came off the back of last summer’s Tropical Storm Debbie, a storm responsible for flooding in many parts of Florida and unleashing the gallinippers. The gallinipper lays eggs in soil close to ponds, streams and other water bodies that overflow when heavy rains come. The eggs can remain dry and dormant for years, until high waters cause them to hatch.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Froggies Are Coming, Don’t Panic

France spent the weekend staging an invasion of Britain. An amphibious assault force of 200 soldiers stormed the beach near Gosport, Hampshire.

They were put ashore by landing craft and catamarans, along with 43 armoured vehicles and four helicopters from the carrier Tonnerre. The operation was supported by the anti-submarine destroyer Georges Leygues, which docked in Portsmouth on Friday.

A French Navy spokesman explained that it was a training mission, which included ‘live fire exercises and assault courses’.

But why would the French want to practise invading Hampshire? They’ve got more than enough coastline of their own, from Normandy to the Mediterranean.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why Labeling GMOs is Not Enough

Any farmer whose fields have been unknowingly contaminated by Monsanto will tell you that buffer zones to permit coexistence among non-GMO and GMO crops don’t work. That’s a coexistence failure in the fields.

What may be worse is seed contamination. Large scale seed providers for farmers are getting GMO seeds inadvertently mixed into non-GMO seeds, creating unwitting purchases of GMO seeds by organic and conventional farmers.

In a 2006 foodwatch article, the Canadian farmer who fought Monsanto successfully, Percy Schmeiser stated absolutely that “coexistence is not possible.” He spoke about how Canada was initially snowed by Monsanto’s PR claims about higher yields, higher nutrition, and less chemical pollution. Farmers learned the reality was exactly opposite on all counts.

Percy said, “What it really meant was control of the seed supply and more sales of chemicals by the company. Many of the farm organizations, including the National Farmers Union of Canada, are working hard against any further introduction of GMOs.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Austrian Amnesia’

Gazeta Wyborcza, 11 March 2013

One in two Austrians believe Adolf Hitler’s rule had some positive aspects, according to a poll conducted by daily Der Standard ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Anschluss, or annexation of Austria into the German Third Reich on March 12.

Moreover, 61 per cent of respondents want “a strong man” at the helm of the country, while 57 per cent think only Austrian citizens should receive state social benefits. The survey found 54 per cent of people believe if Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party stood in the forthcoming election, it would likely win much support.

“It is a catastrophe,” writes Gazeta Wyborcza’s Austria columnist Peter Huemer, stressing that “politicians are incapable of stopping the rise in popularity of the authoritarian tendencies in Austria.”

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

Conclave: Author of Controversial Book Denied Accreditation

Journalist published leaked Vatican documents

(ANSA) — Vatican City, March 11 — Journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, the author of a book which leaked private documents of Benedict XVI at the center of the Vatileaks scandal, was denied accreditation by the Vatican to follow the conclave, the reporter said Monday via twitter. “It’s an obscurantist choice, no transparency or freedom of the press here”.

Nuzzi published confidential Vatican documents in his book “Sua Santita’“ (His Holiness) alleging corruption and infighting over the running of the Vatican bank, at the center of a number of scandals in the past. Nuzzi’s book focused on the power struggles through several faxes, letters and internal memos. Paolo Gabriele, the pope’s butler, was convicted of stealing personal papal documents and leaking them. He was jailed and later pardoned by Benedict XI.

Nuzzi applied for accreditation last week to follow the conclave for Italian television channel La7. He was denied accreditation on Monday, but was given no explanation for the rejection.

A documentary by Nuzzi, “The pope’s choice” will be broadcast by La7 on prime time on March 23.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

EU Bans Cosmetics With Animal-Tested Ingredients

(AGI) — Rome, Mar 11 — A European ban on cosmetics with ingredients tested on animals came into force on Monday. The European Commission said the ban was part of its “commitment to meet the deadline set by the council and parliament in 2003”.

It explained how it intended to continue to support research and innovation in the sector and promote animal welfare worldwide. “The … complete ban on sales is an important signal of the value that Europe attaches to animal welfare,” said European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg.

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

France: ‘A €9bn Bill’

Aujourd’hui en France — Le Parisien, 11 March 2013

“Over the next three years, the French government runs the risk of having to pay an enormous bill of between €8bn and €9bn” for failing to respect various aspects of European legislation, announces the daily.

Paris and Brussels are involved in 20 fiscal wrangles over subsidies, which were paid out by the French state without informing the EU.

The daily cites the example of the plans de campagne grant schemes for French farmers, which have been deemed illegal by the European Commission. France’s fruit and vegetable growers may be forced to reimburse some €300m in grants that were attributed 10 or 20 years ago.

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

France: Arrested Islamists Suspected of Planning Attack: Paris Prosecutor

PARIS, March 11 (Xinhua) — Three presumed radical Islamists arrested last week were close to launch terrorist attack in the country, Paris prosecutor Francois Molin said Monday.

“The investigation before their arrest showed that they were training for making improvised explosive devices based on a jihadist radicalization, a glorification of Mohamed Merah, and an affirmed desire to go into action,” Molin said…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italy: PDL Parliamentarians Stage Protest at Milan Court

Irate at judicial ‘persecution’ of leader Silvio Berlusconi

(ANSA) — Milan, March 11 — People of Freedom Party (PdL) MPs marched before the Milan courthouse on Monday irate over what they say is continuing “judiciary persecution” of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi.

The MPs, including several ex-ministers under the last Berlusconi administration, sang the national anthem, as Alessandra Mussolini — conservative MP and granddaughter of Benito Mussolini — waved an Italian flag. “We have doubts over whether there is still space for being cautious and moderate, because every limit of judicial persecution has been exceeded,” said ex-education minister Maria Stella Gelmini. Gelmini added she was protesting to “defend democracy from the attempt to subvert the popular vote”.

PdL secretary Angelino Alfano had ordered the demonstration while a hearing went on inside for the “Ruby-gate” trial, in which Berlusconi faces charges of paying for sex with an under-aged Moroccan woman and abuse of office. Berlusconi was not present as he is currently hospitalized at Milan’s San Raffaele hospital for an eye-infection.

Alfano railed against “three very serious facts” regarding judicial demands on Berlusconi and his defense lawyers. First, Berlusconi’s defense lawyers, who are also PdL MPs, were not granted “legitimate impediment” from Monday’s hearing in order to attend a scheduled meeting with their party colleagues. “We are parliamentarians. We represent the people. This was a meeting of constitutional importance,” Alfano said.

Second, Alfano was furious that trial judge had sent a team of three doctors to determine whether Berlusconi’s eye-infection was serious enough to keep him from court. Alfano found the inspection “scandalous and not worthy of a judiciary functioning in a civil country”, while PdL representative for the Puglia region, Francesco Amoroso, complained in a note that Berlusconi “doesn’t even have the right to get sick” and called for action against the “persecution”.

Alfano’s third gripe was regarding notice from the Naples court requesting immediate judgment against Berlusconi on corruption charges for allegedly bribing Senator Sergio Di Gregorio over six years ago with three million euros to switch loyalties from centre-left to centre-right, a political move that helped topple Romano Prodi’s centre-left majority government in February 2007. Alfano declared his trust in Italian President Giorgio Napolitano to help sort out affairs and threatened to boycott the first sessions of the newly elected parliament if they are not.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Entrepreneur in Vicenza Commits Suicide

Small business owner jumps from ninth floor of offices

(ANSA) — Vicenza, March 11 — An entrepreneur committed suicide on Monday by jumping from the ninth floor of his office in the northern city of Vicenza. The man, 47, married and father of one, had a computer company, InforMatica. No motive has yet been determined and Carabinieri police are investigating.

Neighbours who worked at a dentist’s office tried to revive the man. He was declared dead by paramedic staff who arrived to the scene by ambulance.

On Monday, the funeral of another entrepreneur in economic difficulty who committed suicide was held in Schio near Vicenza.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Financial Police Investigated in “P4” Corruption Inquiry

(AGI) — Naples, Mar 11 — Naples prosecutors opened an investigation into officers of the Financial Police accused of misuse of public property and falsification. The investigation comes under the inquiry into centre-right PDL member of parliament Alfonso Papa and the so-called “P4 association”. A number of Financial Police officers are accused of making an official car available to the MP without authorisation.

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

Italy: Arrests in New Lombardy Health Probe

20 under investigation for alleged corruption

(ANSA) — Milan, March 12 — Some 20 people have been formally placed under investigation in relation to alleged corruption linked to health-sector contracts in the northern Lombardy region, Milan prosecutors said Tuesday.

Seven people have also been arrested in connection with the probe, including three businessmen belonging to a family that owns a company specialising in hospital machinery, the former editor of La Padania, the newspaper of the Northern League, and former Lombardy regional councillor Massimo Guarischi. Meanwhile, police have carried out over 50 searches in Italy and abroad in connection with the probe.

Medical facilities involved in the investigations include Milan’s San Paolo hospital, the National Cancer Institute and the Cremona local health authority. The probe is the latest in a string of corruption scandals involving the Lombardy regional administration that led the former Lombardy governor Roberto Formigoni to dissolve his executive last October. Formigoni himself is suspected of wrongdoing related to health-sector contracts in one of those cases.

He denied any wrongdoing.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: 8 Turin Council Officials Probed

Concessions in night-life district under scrutiny

(ANSA) — Turin, March 12 — Eight managers and staff on the Turin city council were placed under investigation Tuesday in connection with suspected graft in concessions in a popular riverside night-life district in the northern Italian city.

Police said the eight are suspected of irregularities in granting concessions and levying fees.

The probe stems from one opened last summer after complaints about noise in the Murazzi district on the side of the River Po.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Grillo Invites Berlusconi to Become a Fugitive

Ex-premier will recover from eye problem, Italy from ‘orchitis’

(see related story) (ANSA) — Rome, March 12 — Beppe Grillo, the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, on Tuesday invited Silvio Berlusconi to become a fugitive of justice, saying this would be better for the health of Italy and the ex-premier.

Berlusconi, who is currently in hospital with an eye problem, recently said he feared magistrates wanted him to meet the same fate as another former premier, Bettino Craxi, who died in Tunisia in 2000 after fleeing the country following corruption scandals.

Berlusconi is on trial in Milan for allegedly paying for sex with an underage prostitute called Ruby and he has been given two separate prison sentences in recent months for fraud at his Mediaset empire and involvement in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap.

Naples prosecutors have also requested the 76-year-old media magnate be indicted for allegedly bribing a Senator to change political colours and help bring down Roman Prodi’s 2006-2008 centre-left government.

“Berlusconi is scared of ending up like Craxi, but in reality it would be lucky for him,” Grillo, whose movement holds the balance of power in parliament after a spectacular showing in last month’s general election, said on his blog.

“He could escape to Tunisian beaches full of Rubies without having the daily ball-breaking of the magistrates.

“He should let himself get arrested as soon as possible without any extenuating circumstances and take flight before the arrest.

“He will gain in health terms. He will heal from his uveitis (an irritation and swelling of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye) and the Italians will finally heal from the orchitis that he has inflicted on them for 20 years”.

Orchitis is an inflammation of the testicles.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Outrage Over French Plan to Build Wind Farm on Site Where Tens of Thousands of Young British Soldiers Died in WWI Battle of Loos

A French firm plans to build a wind farm on the site of a First World War battlefield where tens of thousands of young British soldiers died.

InnoVent wants to put up 10 turbines, each twice the height of Big Ben, on the site of the 1915 Battle of Loos, in France.

The Leicester Regiment was heavily involved in the battle, losing more than 500 men in just a week.

Regimental historian Richard Lane said the scheme would ruin the setting of a number of war cemeteries in the area.

‘I believe the people behind the scheme may have been acting out of ignorance.

‘They were probably unaware that the land is honeycombed with tunnels and there are likely to be the remains of those who died that could be disturbed by the wind farm.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Bullfinch Police Arrest 22-Year-Old

Child sex exploitation police have arrested a 22-year-old man in Oxford this morning. The suspect was arrested on suspicion of sexual activity with a child and is currently in police custody. He was arrested as part of Operation Bullfinch. Nine men are currently on trial at the Old Bailey accused of running a child sex ring in the city…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Bullied Schoolboy, 16, ‘Who Planned to Massacre Pupils and Teachers With Home-Made Bombs and Handguns Caught After Chat Room Rant’

A teenager who plotted to massacre his classmates in revenge for being bullied was thwarted by the FBI after agents received a tip off from a concerned internet chat-room user in America.

The 16-year-old, from Northamptonshire, kept a stockpile of explosives, became ‘fascinated’ by mass killings and drew up a hit-list of his fellow students — including detailed blueprints of where they sat.

But when he bragged on web chat site Omegle that ‘twenty minutes from now he would be armed with a Magnum .44 revolver, a Beretta 92FS and various other weapons’, one worried user across the Atlantic raised the alarm.

He was arrested after boasting anonymously to the American that he would keep shooting until his classmates were wiped out or the police arrived before killing himself, Birmingham Crown Court heard.

The American user alerted the FBI who immediately contacted UK police.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Discover Islam Week: What’s it Like to Wear Hijab?

Non-Muslim women wore hijab for a day as part of Discover Islam Week at Northumbria University.

They were asked to continue their daily routine as normal wearing the head covering before a group discussion about their experiences. The event was aimed at challenging negative preconceptions about Islamic women and improving understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims…

[JP note: What else is on the menu? Peer-reviewed amputations?]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Islam School Arrests: Men Bailed

Two men have been released on bail after being arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment and sexual assault at the Islamic School for Girls in Lancaster. Another man has been released without charge…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: iERA Banned From University College London

The Islamic Research and Education Academy (iERA) has been banned from holding any further events at University College London (UCL). This decision follows a recent event with academic Lawrence Krauss, who walked out of a debate after the iERA enforced gender segregation. Dana Sondergaard has written more about the incident here…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Man Arrested in Child Sex Probe

A 22-year-old was arrested by police investigating child sex exploitation. The man was questioned in Oxford on suspicion of sexual activity with a child and bailed until May. Nine men are currently on trial at the Old Bailey accused of running a child sex ring in the city. The trial is due to resume today as it was adjourned yesterday because a juror had a family bereavement…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Two Teenagers Accused of Torturing Boy in a Cellar by Pouring Concrete in His Eyes During Horrific Sex Assault

[WARNING: *** Disturbing Content *** ]

Two teenagers have been accused of torturing a 17-year-old boy in a cellar by sexually assaulting him and putting concrete in his eyes.

The pair, aged 16 and 17, are alleged to have taken the teenage victim to the cellar in Gloucester before subjecting him to a brutal violent and sexual attack.

It is alleged that they sexually assaulted the victim with a length of wood, beat him and forced him to perform a sex act on them before filling his eyes with concrete.

Police have arrested the two youths on suspicion of raping the victim in Barton on November 7 last year. They have now been released on bail.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Teenager Raped 15-Year-Old Girl at Knife-Point in Horrific 90-Minute Ordeal Heard by Her Mother After She Called Mobile Phone

[WARNING: *** Disturbing Content *** ]

A teenager has admitted raping a 15-year-old girl at knife-point in a terrifying 90-minute ordeal heard by the victim’s mother who had called her daughter’s mobile phone.

Abdul Miah, 19, from Elswick, Newcastle, appeared at the city’s Crown Court via video-link and pleaded guilty to three counts of rape and one of robbery.

He attacked his victim on waste ground in Elswick, in Newcastle’s West End, on December 18.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy-Tunisia: New Project to Fight Autoimmune Diseases

EU-financed AIDA project involves unis, public health officials

(ANSAmed) — PALERMO, MARCH 5 — A new EU-financed project for Sicily and Tunisia will make diagnosing autoimmune diseases much faster and easier, public health officials on both sides of the Mediterranean made known on Tuesday.

The Autoimmune: Diagnosis (AIDA) project involves setting up a computerized data and image acquisition system that will allow doctors to make fast and accurate diagnoses of such insidious and ultimately fatal diseases as diabetes mellitus, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, and hypothyroidism.

Financed by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) 2007-2013 Italy-Tunisia program, AIDA is run by Palermo University in collaboration with the Pasteur Center, Charles Nicolle Hospital and El Manar University in Tunis, as well as the Tunisian health ministry.

“Palermo University’s role was crucial, thanks to advanced research which led us to spin off the technology into a company within our physics and chemistry department. Its role is technology transfer and high-tech medical support”, explained AIDA coordinator, Professor Giuseppe Raso. On the Italian side, other partners include the Sicilian and Trapani city public health authorities, Agrigento Province, and Civico and Buccheri La Ferla hospitals in Palermo. The beneficiaries are Tunisian doctors who will be trained in how to use the new technology, the Tunisian public health service, and Tunisian patients.

After vascular disease and cancer, autoimmune diseases make up the third leading pathological process. They are due to changes in the immune system, and often emerge subtly over time.

Studies have shown that 3% of pregnant women suffer from hypothyroidism, while 10.4% of women and 9.3% of men have diabetes. The current way to diagnose these diseases is to test for antibodies using indirect immunofluorescence (IFI). Every year, over 15,000 Tunisians and 50,000 Sicilians take the IFI test.

“The project involves creating a massive database of images and data from the IFI test,” explained AIDA coordinator and Professor Giuseppe Raso. “The software will also support medical diagnoses. Risk factors for autoimmune diseases can be either genetic or environmental. We will be able to carry out comparative analyses by working with two populations that are close genetically and climate-wise, but that differ in terms of diet and cultural habits”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Algeria Breaks Up Al-Qaeda Cell

Algerian security services dismantled an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist cell, Echorouk reported on Monday (March 11th). Two Malians were among seven suspects taken into custody.

Authorities also seized satellite phones and all-terrain vehicles during the Saturday operation in Bordj Badji Mokhtar, near the Mali border. The cell was reportedly set up to help jihadists infiltrate Algeria after fleeing Mali.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Attorney General Greenlights Citizens’ Arrests

Opposition protests, clashes in Cairo, police on strike

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, MARCH 12 — The attorney general’s announcement green-lighting citizens’ arrests sparked a fresh wave of clashes in downtown Cairo, in the explosive climate that followed the sentencing of 21 Port Said men to hang for playing a part in a February 2012 football stadium riot which left 74 dead.

The National Salvation Front, the main opposition bloc in Egypt, called the decision “a grave act” that will pave the way for abuses against the opposition and give free rein to Islamic militias, which fundamentalists have been calling for.

The attorney general’s announcement comes on the seventh day of a police strike calling for better equipment and for the interior minister’s resignation. The army nixed the move by the attorney general’s office, which has since backtracked saying it is not granting citizens the same powers as police.

The move opens the door to “private militias” and a possible “civil war”, an anonymous military source told al-Ahram online newspaper.

The Muslim Brotherhood, whose political arm is the ruling party in Egypt, accuses elements from the ancien regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak of fomenting violence in order to destabilize the country, while Egyptian Salafists, which have been calling for “people’s committees” to guarantee security, welcomed the state prosecutor’s move.

The committees will “help police and restore a climate of security for citizens, not substitute police and army,” said Galal Murra, secretary general of Salafist party El Nour (The Light).

Two days ago, former Salafist presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail said that “the people will oppose any attempt to bring back military rule” as well as any attempt to deploy the army instead of police. “The price to pay will be the void, and the people’s committees will fill that void as of today”, Ismail said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Libya: Nationwide Daily Newspapers on Strike Tomorrow

Against kidnappings, armed attacks on journalists, newsrooms

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MARCH 12 — Libyan newspapers will not be on the stands tomorrow in defense of press freedom and in protest against continued attacks on the media. All dailies, both public and private, adhered to the strike to express “their indignation at the kidnappings and repeated attacks against media and journalists, and the violation of their offices by armed demonstrators”, a note said Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Obama’s ‘Disenchanted’ Approach on Talks

Always involved but initiative up to Israelis and Palestinians

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, MARCH 11 — Ten days ahead of Barack Obama’s first visit to Israel, just as Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is forming a new government, no announcement has been made about a peace plan, no pressure exercised to re-start peace talks and no meeting with the two sides planned. Expectations on the president’s trip to the region don’t appear to be particularly optimistic, at least judging from the comments and analyses on the Israeli media. According to the daily Haaretz, the absence of key announcements is due to Obama’s ‘disenchanted’ approach on the issue. Although the US president has certainly not lost ‘interest in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process’ and wants to ‘help and be involved’ in that process, he has also reportedly realised that ‘old models’ under which Washington pushes the Israelis and Palestinians into making progress ‘simply don’t work’. US sources quoted by the paper likened the perspective to ‘the day after getting drunk’.

Under the visit’s official programme, Obama will see the two sides separately. On the night of March 20, the date of his arrival, he will meet Netanyahu at his residence and the following day Obama will visit Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) at the Muqata in Ramallah. Before and after, he is scheduled to meet President Shimon Peres, give a speech, visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and the tombs of Theodor Herzl and Ytzhak Rabin.

‘The message of the president during private meetings with Netanyahu and Abu Mazen will be that it is up to them to show that they are ready to act’, a source was quoted as saying by Haaretz. If the two sides will say they are ready, the president and Secretary of State John Kerry will help, otherwise they will focus on other issues.

The US administration is reportedly convinced that Israel’s growing isolation, international pressure — mostly from Europe — and the threat of a third Intifada are more likely to influence Netanyahu than a new initiative to promote peace. Apart from the peace process, also on the agenda are the Syrian dossier with the potential impact of the fall of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and chemical weapons. This was allegedly listed as ‘top priority’ during meetings preparing for the visit — a dossier on which the US and Israel agree. Another key issue concerns Iran. On the one hand, the paper also noted, Washington is under the impression that Netanyahu has adopted a softer stance and is talking less about independent actions by Israel and more about a US initiative. However Obama allegedly wants to ascertain what Netanyahu is planning to try and reach some sort of agreement. Former intelligence chief Amos Yadlin also told Channel 2 that expectations on Obama’s visit are not high. ‘It’s an attempt to reach an agreement between the prime minister and president who don’t have a high level of confidence in one another’, he said.

Yadlin also noted that Obama’s upcoming visit has brought once again under the limelight the case of Jason Pollard, an American technician convicted of espionage in favour of Israel in the US. Netanyahu recently received Pollard’s wife, Esther, and promised her he would talk about her husband’s case with Obama. ‘We believe that the punishment received by Pollard is disproportionate to the damage he has caused’, said Yadlin.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Palestinian Rocket May Have Killed Family of BBC Journalist, Says UN Report

A United Nations report yesterday announced that a misfired Palestinian rocket may have killed family members of a BBC journalist during the Israel-Gaza conflict last November.

The Associated Press photograph of BBC video editor Jehad Mashhrawi holding the dead body of his son Omar was internationally circulated and used by activists to attack the Israeli army for conducting air strikes during the Pillar of Defence operation…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Will Owen Jones Apologise?

by Douglas Murray

Last November, during another exchange between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza, the left-wing columnist Owen Jones appeared on BBC Question Time. Invited to comment on recent events, what he read out (or so it appears from the tape) was a catalogue of errors about Israel. Among them were big, sweeping incorrect allegations — such as the claim that Israel is enforcing ‘a siege which stops basic supplies’ getting into Gaza…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Britain ‘May Veto EU Arms Embargo’ on Syria

(AGI) — London, Mar 12 — British Premier David Cameron has said the UK would consider vetoing any extension to the European Union’s arms embargo on Syria in order to support Syrian opposition forces. “I hope that we can persuade our European partners, if and when a further change becomes necessary, [and that] they will agree with us. But if we can’t, then it’s not out of the question we might have to do things in our own way. It’s possible.”

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

European Jihadists Among Syrian Fighters

For EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, fighters with European passports could carry out attacks once back home. UN/AL envoy to Syria calls on Europeans to help find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Jihadists who are citizens of European countries “may also pose a threat to our societies,” said EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove who yesterday marked the EU day of Remembrance of victims of terror.

“Together, we must continue to fight terrorism in and outside Europe,” he said. “We know that terrorists are constantly seeking out new safe havens where they have space to operate, taking advantage of conflict situations,” he added.

Although most of these fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad have a stake in the future of Syria, the latter “has also turned into a destination for European jihadists who want to profit from the situation there and who may also pose a threat to our societies upon their return,” he noted.

Back in December 2012, German daily Die Welt published an article that said that about 100 European Muslims had responded to a call for Jihad, joining al-Nusra and other armed extremist Islamist groups.

On many social media, videos and photos have been circulating showing armed men with signs indicating that they are from Europe.

One of them, Abu Ahmad al-Almani, opened a Facebook account. In its article, Die Welt describes the German national (pictured) as “a warrior of Allah” calling “on his German co-religionists to follow him”.

Meanwhile, as European nations back the armed rebels, including Islamists, with non-lethal equipment, United Nations and Arab League special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said that the only way of solving the Syrian conflict is through diplomatic means.

“The situation in Syria resembles Somalia” and is even worse “than what the latter witnessed in the past years,” Brahimi said following a meeting with EU foreign ministers at Brussels yesterday.

The ministers “agree with us that” the Syrian crisis “is one of the most dangerous crises the entire world today. I came here to call on them to use their capabilities to help reach a peaceful solution,” he told reporters.

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

France, Russia, US Identifying Syrian Officials for Talks

(AGI) — Paris, Mar 12 — France, Russia and the United States are trying to draw up a list of Syrian officials with whom to negotiate an end to the conflict, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday. “We worked together on the idea of a list of Syrian officials who would be acceptable to Syria’s opposition National Coalition,” he told the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly.

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

High Tension Remains at Palestinian Refugee Camp in Southern Lebanon

BEIRUT, March 12 (Xinhua) — The Palestinian Refugee Camp of Ain el Hilweh in southern Lebanese port city of Sidon is on high level of tension Tuesday, after a member of the extremist Fatah al- Islam group was shot on Monday night. According to various media reports, the incident left a Palestinian dead and four others wounded…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia May End Execution by Beheading as it Runs Short of Swordsmen

Saudi Arabia may be forced to change its method of execution from beheading to the firing squad after running out of swordsmen, according to reports.

An official in the ultra-conservative kingdom said that sword-bearing executioners “are not readily available everywhere and on some occasions, executions were marred by confusion as the executioner was late in showing up at the designated public place”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Why Doesn’t Obama Drone Strike This Terrorist?

Because the administration is backing terrorists in Syria

Since the Obama administration seems so keen to entrench its authority to kill Americans deemed “terrorists” on foreign soil, why has it failed to drone strike former US Army soldier Eric Harroun, who is now fighting with the Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria?

The question is rhetorical because the answer is already known. Harroun will not be targeted because he is fighting on the same side as the terrorist-led FSA insurgents which the Obama administration has backed to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

“He’s a U.S.-trained soldier turned Muslim warrior who moves between America and countries where the winds of the Arab spring blow, fighting alongside jihadists and America-hating terrorists while celebrating his bloody exploits on YouTube videos,” reports Fox News.

If the Obama administration really believes in the necessity of killing Americans who are working alongside America’s enemies abroad, then why has there been no discussion whatsoever of targeting Harroun with a drone strike? Why is the US Army still providing a known terrorist with disability payments?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Exclusive Report From the Ground on Pakistan

After Sawan Masih was arrested and charged with blasphemy in Pakistan, an angry Muslim mob — estimated to be 12000 strong — descended on the Christian area of Joseph Colony (near Lahore) and burned down hundreds of buildings, the majority of which were Christian homes. According to reports, police stood down and allowed the rioting to take place as Masih was detained.

In the wake of the riots, our team on the ground have provided safe haven for 11 Christian families and made an attempt to do the same for Masih before he was arrested. However, the group that Masih entrusted his protection to actually turned him over to police.

Via Pakistan Today:

The area’s residents were also critical of the role of some Christian non-government organisations such as CLAAS, Sharing Life Ministry, Pakistan Christian Movement and Human Liberation Commission which, according to them, had only worked to worsen the situation.

“Joseph Francis of CLAAS, Sohail Johnson, Saleem Gabriel and Aslam Pervaiz Sahotra used the incident for their vested interests. Sawan had initially been taken in by Saleem Gabriel and Aslam Sahotra who later handed him over to Joseph Francis. People close to Gabriel and Francis told us that the latter had paid Rs 100,000 to them for Sawan’s custody. Francis then organised a photo session with the accused and around 2am on Saturday gave him in the custody of the Badami Bagh police,” a resident Raja Asif confided to Pakistan Today.

World Vision in Progress strongly condemn the actions of these groups; they are acts of betrayal in the interest of personal aggrandizement…

[Return to headlines]

Hagel’s Afghanistan Visit and Obama’s Disastrous “Good War”

Newly confirmed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s first trip to Afghanistan turned into a fiasco. Just hours after his arrival in Kabul on Saturday, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Afghan Ministry of Defense. At least 10 people were killed. Another suicide bomber followed suit near a joint Afghan-American checkpoint in the eastern province of Khost, killing nine, including eight children and a policeman. On Sunday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused the United States of collaborating with the Taliban. Hagel, who left the country without accomplishing anything, had two words for reporters who inquired about the challenges he faced. “It’s complicated,” he contended.

Two additional attacks that bookended Hagel’s visit offer great insight into such “complications.” Last Friday, an American civilian contractor was killed and four collation troops were wounded, two seriously, when three men wearing Afghan Army uniforms stormed the gate at Forward Operating Base Tagab in the northern province of Kapisa and began firing. The attackers were subsequently killed. On Monday in Wardak province, two American troops and three Afghan policemen were killed when an Afghan policeman fired on them while they were visiting the station.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Protesting Joseph Colony Rampage

Christians across Pakistan rallied against torching of over 100 Christian homes in Lahore by more than 3,000 Muslims.

Christians demonstrated in cities around Pakistan on Sunday to protest the torching of more than 100 Christian homes by a Muslim mob following allegations of blasphemy.

More than 3,000 Muslims on Saturday rampaged through Joseph Colony, a Christian area of Lahore, after allegations surfaced that a Christian had made derogatory remarks about Islam’s Prophet three days earlier.

Around 150 people have been arrested, police said, and though no one was killed the incident highlights the religious tensions affecting Pakistan as it prepares for a general election expected in May, following a spate of deadly attacks on the minority Shia Muslim community.

Police and locals said a drunken row between two friends was the trigger for the allegations of blasphemy, a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, where 97 percent of the population is Muslim and even unproven claims can spark public violence.

During Sunday’s protest in Lahore, Christians demanded greater protection and clashed with police, who used batons and tear gas to disperse them after they blocked a busy road, senior police officer Abdul Ghaffar Qaisarani said. There were also minor clashes between police and protesters in Karachi and further demonstrations in Islamabad, Multan and Quetta.

The Punjab government initially promised Rs. 200,000 compensation to each family affected by the violence, but Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif raised this to Rs. 500,000 after visiting the scene on Sunday. “The chief minister declared that the repair work of all the houses would be completed in 72 hours,” a senior Punjab government official said.

A group of 30 senior Muslim clerics in Lahore issued a fatwa (religious ruling) on Sunday condemning the attack on the Christian community as criminal and un-Islamic, Fazal Karim, the chairman of the Sunni Ittehad Council said.

The senior police official for the area of the attack, Multan Khan, said the trouble began with a row between Sawan Masih, a Christian sanitary worker, and his Muslim friend Shahid Imran. “They used to sit together and drink together almost every evening. They were drunk on Wednesday when they had some arguments,” Khan told reporters on Saturday.

It was during the argument that Masih allegedly made the blasphemous remarks, Khan said, prompting Imran to report the matter to police.

Officers arrested the Christian on Friday, but this did not stop a mob assembling to attack Joseph Colony on Saturday morning. Local resident Altaf Masih, also a sanitary worker, said “while they were drunk they had an argument over discussion on religious issues.”

Spokeswoman for Punjab police Nabila Ghazanfar said on Sunday that four senior officers including Khan had been removed from their posts for “negligence” and “failure to control” the mob.

Rights campaigners say Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, which can carry the death penalty, are often used to settle personal disputes and should be reformed. The legislation came under international scrutiny last year after 14-year-old Christian girl Rimsha Masih was held for three weeks in a high security prison for allegedly burning pages from the Quran. The case against her was eventually thrown out.

The Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing on the attack for Monday and summoned the chief of police in Punjab and the provincial prosecutor to appear.

Tahir Ashrafi, president of Pakistani Ulema Council, condemned the attack saying Islam did not permit such violence.

On Saturday, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf ordered an inquiry into the attacks.

[Return to headlines]

Trouble Brews Ahead of Mosque Meeting

A tempestuous council meeting is likely in Melbourne’s east tonight as councillors decide whether to allow a mosque to be built next to the home church of controversial pastor and founder of the Rise Up Australia party, Danny Nalliah. The base for Catch the Fire Ministries, headed by Pastor Nalliah, is also yet to be built on the vacant industrial lot in Green Street, Doveton, but has already been voted on and approved by the City of Casey. Pastor Nalliah, who gained notoriety for claiming the Black Saturday bushfires were caused by Victoria’s abortion laws, launched his anti-multicultural political party in Canberra last month and has been a key figure in rallying opposition to the mosque…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Armed Group Opens Fire on Primary School in Nigeria

(AGI) Abuja — An armed group, possibly of the Boko Haram, opened fire on a primary school in Kano, Nigeria .

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

Nigeria: Extremist Group, Ansaru, Shows Video of Seven Foreign Workers it Killed

An insurgent group, Ansaru, has again uploaded a video on the internet to prove it killed the seven foreign workers of Setraco Construction Company in Bauchi, last month. Reuters, Monday, reported that the group issued a statement in Arabic and English on an affiliate of the Sinam al-Islam network accompanied by screen shots of a video purporting to show the dead hostages…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sudan’s Deputy Chief Justice Says Judges May be Trained on Carrying Out Amputations

Khartoum — Sudanese judges may receive special training on performing amputation on convicts should doctors refuse to carry them out, the country’s deputy chief judge said today.

Last month doctors at al-Ribat hospital in Khartoum executed a court order against the 30-year old Adam al-Muthna who had his right hand and left foot severed as punishment after he was found guilty of armed robbery on a truck carrying passengers between North Kordofan and East Darfur in March 2006 and stealing SDG 1,000 (US$228) from its passengers…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Amnesty? Should We Tell People It’s Cheaper, And Faster to Bribe Your Way in?

Jeb Bush has been on a whirlwind media tour to promote his book written with Clint Bolick, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution. Thus far he has not faced tough immigration questions. Instead media types are asking him about his 2016 presidential aspirations.

Meanwhile the senators of the “Gang of Eight:” Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Michael Bennet (D-CO), John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have agreed to a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. Bush, an approved Conservative Republican hero, is slated to speak this weekend at CPAC 2013, the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

Following are tough immigration questions the mainstream media will not ask but should. Not only should Jeb Bush answer them, but in the spirit of “bipartisan compromise” so should President Obama and the senators of the Gang of Eight.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

EU Porn-Ban Resolution Rejected

Proposal amended to exclude Internet providers ‘policing rights’

(ANSA) — Brussels, March 12 — The European Parliament cancelled a resolution on Tuesday that would have banned all forms of pornography in media and advertising, including the Internet, as part of a resolution for “the elimination of gender stereotypes in Europe”. Some 625 members of the EU Parliament voted 368-159 in favor of passing a resolution aimed at stamping out gender stereotypes throughout the 27-member union. However a controversial “porn ban” section of the proposal was rejected.

The so-called porn ban, first submitted to the Parliament in December, stirred controversy after MPs found wide-ranging and ill-defined measures buried in the text calling for a “ban on all forms of pornography in the media,” as well as giving Internet service providers “policing rights” over their subscribers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Feds Spend $1.5 Million to Study Fat Lesbians

(CNSNEWS) — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $1.5 million to study biological and social factors for why “three-quarters” of lesbians are obese and why gay males are not, calling it an issue of “high public-health significance.”

Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., has received two grants administered by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to study the relationship between sexual orientation and obesity.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 3/12/2013

  1. Pingback: Stalking the Mythical Islamophobe, Part 3 | Gates of Vienna


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