Gates of Vienna News Feed 3/19/2013

A new wave of explosions has rocked Baghdad, killing 56 people and wounding hundreds more. Nine separate bombs were said to have been detonated in the latest attack.

In other news, Cyprus’ parliament has turned down the “haircut tax” — which would have taxed large bank deposits by up to 9.9% — despite the amendment that exempted small depositors. There will be no new tranche of EU bailout money for beleaguered Cypriot banks, and the country may be facing bankruptcy and an exit from the euro.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Jerry Gordon, JP, LH, Nilk, RR, 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
» Cyprus Rejects Bank Deposit Tax, Scuttling Bailout Deal
» Cyprus: Parliament Nixes Forced Bank Levy
» Cyprus and the European Union Excesses
» Cyprus Speaker Urges Vote Against Bailout ‘Blackmail’
» Cyprus Parliament Rejects Haircut Bill
» Iceland’s Lost Billionaires Unmourned as Riches Draw Ire
» It’s Not a ‘Haircut’ — It’s Theft When Governments Loot Your Private Bank Accounts
» Life’s Little People Always Ripped Off First by Socialist Governments
» Road to Serfdom: Eurocrats to Seize Citizen Money From Bank Accounts
» Southern Italian Wages Lower Than Greece, NEETs Rising
» Constitutional Convention Call Redux, Part 2
» Disarming American Citizens, Obama Style
» Federal Government Purchases Two Million Doses of Smallpox Drug in Preparation for Bioterrorism Attack
» Pentagon Weapons-Maker Finds Method for Cheap, Clean Water
» That Dirty, Rotten Racist … Abraham Lincoln
» Why the NRA is Right About Hollywood
Europe and the EU
» British Tourist ‘Jumps From Window to Escape Rape’ In India
» France: Dental Dispute Kills Two in Marseille
» Govt Cracks Down on Salafist Influence on Young Germans
» Italian Police Bust Gangs That Used Dogs as Drugs Mules
» Italy: Soccer: End to Pols’ Free Tickets ‘Pope-Like’ Says Buffon
» Italy: Berlusconi Fights to Get Estranged Wife’s Alimony Cut
» Ministry of Defence Flies €1million in Cash to Cyprus to Help British Troops and Their Families Based on the Crisis-Hit Island
» Scotland: Aberdeen Church Opens Doors to Muslims
» Sharia in Belgium: A Wake Up Call for the West
» The Pact That Secured More Than Ninety Votes for New Pope
» UK: Alleged Child Abuser Believed Victim Was Above the Age of Consent, Old Bailey Hears [Bullfinch Trial]
» UK: Benefits Fraudster Who Falsely Claimed £18,000 Because of Crippling Back Pain is Filmed Working as a Judo Instructor
» UK: East London University Blocks Hate Preachers — But Fails to Condemn Them Publicly
» UK: Nurse at Scandal-Hit Stafford Hospital ‘Failed to Provide Basic Life Support for Dying Patient Then Claimed She Was Asleep After She Passed Away’
» UK: New Date is Fixed for Appeal Over Dudley Mosque
» UK: Operation Bullfinch Day 35: Prosecution Case Draws to a Close
» UK: Police Seized Suspects Phones During Oxfordshire Child Sex Ring, Court Hears [Bullfinch Trial]
» UK: Teenage Boy, 17, Collapses in Court as He Accuses Soap Star of Raping Him on a ‘Weekly Basis’
» Croatia: Turkish Parliament Speaker Visits Zagreb Mosque
North Africa
» Islamic Scholars: American Muslims Must ‘Prosecute Those Who Offend Islam’
» Mursi Says Egypt, Pakistan Are Pillars of Islamic World
Israel and the Palestinians
» ZOA ‘Compelled to Speak Up’ About Disturbing Obama Itinerary
Middle East
» 15 Syrians Killed in Chemical Rocket Attack by Gunmen
» Barack Obama Implores Iran to Abandon Nuclear Testing in Video Message
» Iraq Rocked by Wave of Explosions
» Iraq: Bombs Hit Baghdad on Anniversary of US Invasion
» Kuwait: Govt Confirms ‘Segregation’ At Clinics
» Syria: US Would Not Object to Arming Rebels
» Local Russian Hijab Ban Puts Muslims in a Squeeze
South Asia
» Afghans in Wardak Province Want U.S. Forces Out
» EU Backs Italy Over Ambassador, Says India Violating Int’ Law
» Pakistan University Awards Egypt President Honorary PhD
Far East
» US Intelligence Worker Caught in Chinese Honey Trap Spy Scheme
» Was Chinese Scientist a Spy at NASA?
Australia — Pacific
» Deep-Sea Mining Struggles to Manage Ecological Impact
» Mother Witnessed Son’s Machete Slaying, Court Told
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Dozens Feared Killed in Northern Nigeria Motor Park Blast
» Nigeria: Four Teachers, Two Others Killed as Gunmen Attack Primary Schools in Maiduguri
» Nigerian Bombings in Kano Killed 22 People, Police Say
» Penis-Snatching Panics Resurface in Africa
» Somalia: Mogadishu Car Bomb Kills Civilians, Schoolchildren
» South Africa: The Real Story Behind Farm Strikes
Latin America
» Radio Astronomy: The Patchwork Array
» UK: May Backtracks on Foreign Criminals Plans as She Refuses to Support Amendment That Would Have Stopped Convicts Using Right to a Family Life to Avoid Deportation
Culture Wars
» Anderson Cooper Kisses “Boy Scout” To Offend Traditional America
» Dutch Turks to Protest Against Lesbian Couple Fostering Turkish Child
» Wave Goodbye to the World Wide Web, Say Hello to the Worldstream

Cyprus Rejects Bank Deposit Tax, Scuttling Bailout Deal

The Cypriot Parliament rejected an international bailout package on Tuesday that had sought to tax bank depositors to pay a big part of the bill, despite a revision that would have exempted small bank accounts from the levies.

[Return to headlines]

Cyprus: Parliament Nixes Forced Bank Levy

So no EU bailout for cashless banks

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA — The Cypriot parliament on Tuesday vetoed a Eurogroup-proposed levy on bank deposits to fund part of the country’s bailout. The proposed 5.8 billion euro levy was vetoed by 36 MPs, while 19 members of the ruling party abstained, in spite of President Nicos Anastasiades’ approval of the plan.

Eight coalition party members also voted against the plan after Socialist parliament speaker, Yannakis Omirou, called on lawmakers to vote “against blackmail” from the Eurogroup. The German government made any bailout of Cyprus conditional on approval of the forced levy on bank accounts. Cypriot banks are in danger of seeing their cash reserves dry up completely, and won’t be able to reopen without the promised EU bailout, government sources told DPA news agency.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Cyprus and the European Union Excesses

Technocrats and their lavish pensions, Confiscation of private property initiated by the socialist governments.

For the past two years, the EU has struggled to keep its tenuous union intact, a union based on a common currency adopted by some of the members. As Italy, Spain, Greece, and Portugal economies downturned, it did not surprise many because their admission into the EU was questionable at the time — there is a reason why they were called the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain) — they never ran their socialist economies responsibly, spending on social welfare with abandon.

Cyprus is the first chip to fall in the confiscation of private property initiated by the socialist government as directed by EU although Germany denies that claim. The government devised a plan to levy a 10 percent tax of all citizens’ savings in order to bail out the struggling nation. This ill-advised plan sparked panic across the globe, causing stock markets to fall sharply.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Cyprus Speaker Urges Vote Against Bailout ‘Blackmail’

AFP — The speaker of the Cypriot parliament on Tuesday urged MPs to say “no to blackmail” in a vote on a eurozone bailout aimed at saving the Mediterranean island from bankruptcy.

“There can only be one answer: no to blackmail,” Yiannakis Omirou of the socialist Edek party told the parliament. “This decision is no more than a raid on bank funds.

“Our demand must be that this deal must be renegotiated. If we pass this tax there will be no foreign investor who will keep their money here,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Cyprus Parliament Rejects Haircut Bill

The Cypriot House of Representatives rejected overwhelmingly on Tuesday the bill that would have inflicted a haircut on bank accounts.

There were 36 No votes and not a single Yes vote, as the 19 deputies of ruling Democratic Rally (DISY) who were present abstained, while another one of them was absent.

Cyprus speaker Yiannakis Omirou urged MPs to say “no to blackmail” as angry crowds also called for a “No” vote outside Parliament and held up signs warning that other financially crippled European nations like Italy and Spain could be next in line.

“There can only be one answer: no to blackmail,” Omirou, of the socialist EDEK party told deputies who met in emergency session.

“Our demand must be that this deal must be renegotiated. If we pass this tax there will be no foreign investor who will keep their money here,” he warned.

“There is no doubt, this is the most crucial session of our parliament. There is unrest among the people and they deserve an answer,” EDEK MP George Varnavas told the assembly.

DISY had unanimously decided not to take part in the vote because “it will strengthen the bargaining position of the Republic of Cyprus,” party member Nicos Tornaritis told Sigma TV.

But DISY coalition partner Marios Karoyian of DIKO said the rescue package must be “rejected”.

“This is blackmail and DIKO proposes the bill is rejected, but yes to an adjustment programme… We want a European rescue, not European destruction,” he told fellow MPs.

George Perdikes of the Green party told parliament: “There is now a creditocracy where countries lose their sovereignty for an illegal loan agreement that is supposedly good for them but kills growth.”

European Party MP Demetris Syllouris charged that the bailout terms were designed to destroy the banking sector in Cyprus that had been flourishing for decades, and especially hit Russian investments.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Iceland’s Lost Billionaires Unmourned as Riches Draw Ire

Iceland, a country with a $13 billion economy, had six dollar billionaires before the financial crisis struck in 2008. Now it has none.

Five of the men — including former West Ham soccer team owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson and Baugur Group hf founder Jon Asgeir Johannesson — have lost all, or most of, their fortunes after building empires on loans from banks that used the island’s investment bubble to stretch their assets to 10 times the size of gross domestic product.

At least three of Iceland’s ex-billionaires are, or have been, the subject of financial misconduct probes. Johannesson, who once flew around in a pin-striped private jet and owned luxury apartments in New York and London, received a suspended one-year jail sentence in February for violations including accounting fraud. He and Gudmundsson, who filed for bankruptcy in 2009, personified the boom-to-bust cycle that dragged Iceland away from fishing and tourism and turned it into a center for high finance.

“Greed can’t again lead the way,” said Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, 70, whose Social Democrat-led government took over from the coalition that led Iceland into the crisis just over four years ago. “We’ve taken that route before with terrible consequences for this nation and its people.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

It’s Not a ‘Haircut’ — It’s Theft When Governments Loot Your Private Bank Accounts

(NaturalNews) This use of the term “haircut” to describe government theft of private banking accounts has got to stop. It’s not a haircut, it’s outright thievery. When a person breaks into your home with a gun and steals your jewelry or cash, do we call that a “haircut?” Of course not. It’s a criminal act, not a trip to the salon.

I’m referring to the government bank raids in Cyprus, of course, where up to 10% of private accounts are simply being stolen by the government. It’s being called the great EU bank robbery, and there is a lot of speculation that this may set off bank runs across European nations. But the media calls it nothing more than a “haircut.”

Why is everybody using the term “haircut” to describe this outright theft? The reason, of course, is because the term “haircut” is a mind game. Its purpose is to make it sound like it’s not outright theft. By calling it a “haircut,” it seems more polite, almost as if the government there is doing everybody a favor.

Notice who never takes a haircut? The globalist banks!

It’s time the people of the world woke up to the total criminality of the banking cartels and gave those bankers a “reverse haircut.” Central banks and global banking institutions have been stealing our wealth and our savings for so long that people seem to have become accustomed to it. So they fail to find the proper response when faced with criminals stealing money from them right under their noses. The correct response is to arrest the bankers and throw them in prison. Cancel the fraudulent debts, take back national sovereignty over money supplies (which means ending the Fed, of course) and end the era of bankster looting and theft that now functions as an economic cancer ravaging our world economies.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Life’s Little People Always Ripped Off First by Socialist Governments

What’s going on in Cyprus should be Textbook Lesson 101 how Big Socialist Governments will always find new ways to rip off the Little People to continue their profligate lifestyles.

Taking full advantage of the public they were elected to serve, Cyprus Parliament and their banks worked out the details of a fait accompli while folks went about their own business.

In other words, the horse was already out of the barn before social media was able to tip off the masses.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Road to Serfdom: Eurocrats to Seize Citizen Money From Bank Accounts

Cypriots are getting a firsthand look at what happens when EU elitists, as Margaret Thatcher famously remarked, “run out of other people’s money to spend.” On Saturday, in exchange for an EU bailout of $12.96 billion for a nation on the verge of bankruptcy, it was proposed that individual bank account deposits would be subjected to outright confiscation being promoted as a “wealth tax.” Deposits of $130,000 or more will be hit at a rate of 9.9 percent, while depositors who fall below that threshold with be taxed at a rate of 6.75 percent.

The idea was initially proposed by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades last Friday. “We’re not aiming to gloss over the situation,” he said after the EU-IMF meeting in Brussels agreed with that idea early Saturday. “The solution taken may be painful, but it was the only one” worth taking, he added. The move would reportedly raise as much as $7.76 billion of the nearly $13 billion needed to bail out Cypriot banks devastated by billions of dollars of losses in investments in Greek banks.

Yet this bailout, or more accurately described by CNN as a “bail in” of ordinary people — to pay for the mistakes made by bankers — is unprecedented. Yet the effects of this policy were eminently predictable: Cypriots spent the weekend withdrawing their funds from bank machines all over the nation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Southern Italian Wages Lower Than Greece, NEETs Rising

Greek wages higher than southern Italian average

(By Gordon Sorlini)(ANSA) — Rome, March 19 — The gap between Italy’s richer north and poorer south is increasing with the latter particularly battered by the global economic crisis and skyrocketing youth unemployment, figures from Italy’s latest national census show.

According to the figures, published Tuesday by social and economic thinktank Censis, both gross domestic product and unemployment have taken a harder hit in Italy’s south with respect to the north — GDP dropped by 5.7% in the north between 2007-2012, compared with a 10% collapse in the south.

Of the 505,000 jobs lost in Italy since the beginning of the crisis, some 60% are in Italy’s southern regions, called the “Mezzogiorno”, and salaries have dropped to below the average in Greece, or around 18,000 euros per year.

Of all the countries of the eurozone, according to the figures, Italy is the country with the greatest inequality on a territorial level with certain social categories — like the young and women — particularly hard-hit in the country’s southern regions.

Young people aged 15-29 who do not study at university, do not work and are not in school — so-called NEETs — are much more present in the southern regions than in the rest of Italy.

According to Censis, some 32% of youth in Italy’s Mezzogiorno qualify as NEETs, compared with 22.7% for the national average.

The situation is so bad in Campania and Sicily, where NEETs as a proportion of the overall population reach 35.2% and 35.7%, respectively, that Censis warns of a “social emergency”.

A situation that would appear to contradict expenditure on education: the south spends much more on education than the rest of the country: 6.7% of GDP, or 1,170 euros per student, compared with 3.1% of GDP, or 937 euros per student, in Italy’s center-north.

However, some 21.2% of school-age youths abandon school in the south, compared with 16% in the center-north and the learning levels are considered “decidedly worse” in the south, according to the Censis.

Flows of students seeking better educational opportunities are also imbalanced, Censis figures show, with some 23.7% of university students in the south transferring to universities in the center-north, compared with only 2% of center-north students transferring to south-based institutions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Constitutional Convention Call Redux, Part 2

“In questions of power let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” -Thomas Jefferson

“If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges, and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions.” -Thomas Jefferson

“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” -Thomas Jefferson

There are a number of groups pushing a Con-Con today, the Compact for America (CFA), the Goldwater Institute, (who supports the group, Restoring Freedom. Org. Inc. who created the National Debt Relief Amendment or BBA), the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the National Council of State Legislators (NCSL) and many others. [Link] Let’s look at a few of these groups…

However, the name on the CFA Advisory Board that really caught my eye was Lawrence Lessig, professor of Law at Harvard University. According to Citizen Wells News Blog, Lawrence Lessig was an associate of Obama’s at the University of Chicago. Lessig considers Obama a friend, and has supported the President on his website and in speaking engagements. Lessig is also mentioned on Obama’s site as part of his technology initiative…

In January of 2013, the Compact for America (CFA) Initiative started lobbying all the state legislators to propose legislation that would call for a Constitutional Convention under the guise of a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA). Unlike the 1980s call for a Con-Con, this is even more insidious. The Compact for America (CFA) is calling for a Constitutional Convention, as provided for in Article V of the Constitution, to meet in Dallas, Texas on July 4, 2013. The Right of the People in convention to alter their government could be used to make this a runaway convention.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Disarming American Citizens, Obama Style

Presently flying under the radar of the American people is the much misunderstood, deliberately mischaracterized and under-reported United Nation’s Arms Trade Treaty. Considering the persistent multi-level attacks against U.S. gun owners and American’s rights under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the “Final U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty” that convened yesterday and is scheduled to last through March 28, 2013 should be front page news all across America. But it’s not, and for good reason.

Most people, including conservative Americans thought the United Nation’s Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was a dead issue, or at least not a threat to U.S. gun owners based on a number of assumptions relating to international treaties and U.S. Constitutional law. Like everything else with the Obama regime, however, things are never what they appear, nor are they as simple as we are led to believe.

But first, let it be made clear that Barack Hussein Obama is on record as being against the private ownership of firearms by American citizens. This might surprise anyone who listens to the hysterically-pitched assertions by such Obama lapdogs as Chris Mathews and Lawrence O’Donnell, for example, who contend that Obama has posed no threat to private gun ownership as President. Such assertions are only convincing to those who have not done any research into this matter.

Obama vs. the Second Amendment: Barack Hussein Obama has a long and well documented history on gun control, going back as far as his law school days. There, he was mentored by Laurence Tribe, a staunch opponent to gun rights of American citizens. In 1994, Obama was a member of the Joyce Foundation, a Chicago based charitable organization that in part, is a proponent of various anti-gun groups and related agendas.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Federal Government Purchases Two Million Doses of Smallpox Drug in Preparation for Bioterrorism Attack

(NaturalNews) First it was millions of servings of long-term storable food. Then it was billions of rounds of high-powered ammunition and thousands of tank-like armored vehicles. Now the occupying powers of the U.S. federal government are stockpiling millions of doses of smallpox medication in alleged preparation for a potential “bioterrorism attack,” according to The New York Times (NYT).

But according to Dr. Richard H. Ebright, a bio-weapons expert from Rutgers University in New Jersey, the two million-dose order is excessive because the U.S. government already has about 300 million doses of smallpox vaccine in its strategic reserve. This number is astounding, considering that back in 2001, the federal government possessed a mere 15 million doses of smallpox vaccine…

Despite all the glowing endorsements for Arestvyr, which some are claiming will “save lives” in the event of a pandemic, the drug has never been approved for use in humans by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In fact, Arestvyr has never even been tested in humans at all, according to the NYT, because smallpox has already been eradicated in humans.

This means that, should the government one day declare a smallpox or other pandemic, whether real or fictional, millions of Americans will instantly become human guinea pigs for a drug that has never been shown to be safe, let alone effective. Even claims surrounding the benefits of Arestvyr in mitigating damage caused by the smallpox vaccine itself are bunk, as those who recovered the drug were admittedly also given other treatments in conjunction with it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pentagon Weapons-Maker Finds Method for Cheap, Clean Water

(Reuters) — A defense contractor better known for building jet fighters and lethal missiles says it has found a way to slash the amount of energy needed to remove salt from seawater, potentially making it vastly cheaper to produce clean water at a time when scarcity has become a global security issue.

The process, officials and engineers at Lockheed Martin Corp say, would enable filter manufacturers to produce thin carbon membranes with regular holes about a nanometer in size that are large enough to allow water to pass through but small enough to block the molecules of salt in seawater. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.

Because the sheets of pure carbon known as graphene are so thin — just one atom in thickness — it takes much less energy to push the seawater through the filter with the force required to separate the salt from the water, they said.

The development could spare underdeveloped countries from having to build exotic, expensive pumping stations needed in plants that use a desalination process called reverse osmosis.

“It’s 500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and a thousand times stronger,” said John Stetson, the engineer who has been working on the idea. “The energy that’s required and the pressure that’s required to filter salt is approximately 100 times less.”

Access to clean drinking water is increasingly seen as a major global security issue. Competition for water is likely to lead to instability and potential state failure in countries important to the United States, according to a U.S. intelligence community report last year.

“Between now and 2040, fresh water availability will not keep up with demand absent more effective management of water resources,” the report said. “Water problems will hinder the ability of key countries to produce food and generate electricity.”

About 780 million people around the world do not have access to clean drinking water, the United Nations reported last year.

“One of the areas that we’re very concerned about in terms of global security is the access to clean and affordable drinking water,” said Tom Notaro, Lockheed business manager for advanced materials. “As more and more countries become more developed … access to that water for their daily lives is becoming more and more critical.”

Lockheed still faces a number of challenges in moving to production of filters made of graphene, a substance similar to the lead in pencils. Working with the thin material without tearing it is difficult, as is ramping up production to the size and scale needed. Engineers are still refining the process for making the holes.

It is not known whether Lockheed faces commercial competition in this area. But it is not the only one working on the technology.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

That Dirty, Rotten Racist … Abraham Lincoln

In Stalin’s Russia, genetics and cybernetics were treated as the cat’s paw of imperialism and officially branded as “whores.” But it was another branch of Soviet science, history, that was a far more deserving candidate to bear that not exactly honorific moniker. Russian historians loyally served the regime, meeting its propaganda needs in full compliance with a thesis propounded by the titular head of the Soviet school of history, Mikhail Pokrovsky: “History is the present telescoped into the past.” Some American liberals have been faithfully following Pokrovsky’s precept, reinventing the past in keeping with the progressive view of the world.

The Founding Fathers are being torn down by the progressives from their honorable place in the annals of America’s history for one overriding reason: almost all of them were slave-owners. Their entire service to the country, their sacrifices, the enormous risks they consciously took for the sake of freedom — all of this, in the progressive view, pales into insignificance next to the Founding Fathers’ deadly sin of racism.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why the NRA is Right About Hollywood

The truth? Entertainment is powerful. This is why Adolf Hitler had his propaganda filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, and why all modern regimes have at times created their own propaganda films. It’s why the ancient Greeks saw fit to censor the arts and American localities traditionally had obscenity laws. And it is why, while “The pen is mightier than the sword” and a picture mightier still, being worth a “thousand words,” we have to wonder how many words moving footage coupled with sound would be. How mighty art thou, Tinseltown? Well, we worry that a child witnessing one parent continually abuse the other will learn to be violent, as children learn by example. Yet often forgotten is that while a person can model behavior seven feet away from the television, he can also model it seven feet away through the television.

And what effect do our entertainment role models have? Much relevant research exists, and the picture it paints isn’t pretty. For instance, a definitive 1990s study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association found that in every society in which TV was introduced, there was an explosion in violent crime and murder within 15 years. As an example, TV had been banned in South Africa for internal security reasons until 1975, at which point the nation had a lower murder rate than other lands with similar demographics. The country’s legalization of TV prompted psychiatrist Dr. Brandon Centerwall to predict “that white South African homicide rates would double within 10 to 15 years after the introduction of television…” But he was wrong.

By 1987 they had more than doubled.

Then the Guardian told us in 2003 that, “…Bhutan, the fabled Himalayan Shangri-la, became the last nation on earth to introduce television. Suddenly a culture, barely changed in centuries, was bombarded by 46 cable channels. And all too soon came Bhutan’s first crime wave — murder, fraud, drug offences.” The serpent had struck again.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

British Tourist ‘Jumps From Window to Escape Rape’ In India

Indian police said Tuesday that a female British tourist injured herself after leaping from the balcony of her hotel room to escape what she feared was a sexual assault in the tourist city of Agra, home to the Taj Mahal.

A British woman traveling around India jumped out of the third-floor window of her hotel room on Tuesday after the hotel’s owner tried to force his way into the room, causing her to fear she was about to be sexually assaulted, police said.

The woman was not badly hurt, although she suffered some injuries to her legs, police officer Sushant Gaur said.

Police arrested the hotel owner in connection with the incident in Agra, the site of the Taj Mahal, one of India’s most cherished tourist attractions, Gaur said.

On Friday, a Swiss tourist was gang-raped in central India. Six men have been arrested in that attack.

The violence came amid heightened concern about sexual assaults in India in recent months that followed the fatal gang-rape of a young woman on a moving bus in New Delhi in December.

That rape sparked public protests demanding the government do a better job of protecting women.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Dental Dispute Kills Two in Marseille

A dentist in France’s southern city of Marseille was gunned down by one of his elderly patients, police sources said on Tuesday. 24 people were shot dead in Marseille in 2012, giving the city one of the highest murder rates in Europe.

A dentist in the centre of Marseille was shot dead Tuesday by a patient, a man in his 70s who was himself killed during the subsequent police intervention.

Police sources said the pensioner, who had been involved in a legal dispute with the practice, had turned up at the surgery with two handguns, a pistol and a revolver.

Witnesses heard several shots, the building was evacuated and police called. The suspected killer of the dentist was shot dead after he opened fire on officers, police said.

Although it appeared to be an isolated incident, Tuesday’s shooting will add to Marseille’s notoriety for gun crime.

At least four young men have been killed this month in execution-style shootings linked to rival gangs battling for control of the drugs trade in the southern port’s rundown estates.

A total of 24 people died in similar circumstances during 2012, giving Marseille one of the highest murder rates in Europe and prompting calls from some politicians for the army to be sent in.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Govt Cracks Down on Salafist Influence on Young Germans

German authorities issue warnings of possible attacks against political and religious leaders. Three Salafist groups are outlawed for corrupting young Germans. A language school in Alexandria teaches Arabic and Islamic culture to young Europeans, but also trains potential terrorists.

Berlin (AsiaNews) — German authorities are warning of possible Salafist attacks against local politicians and religious leaders. This comes after police raided Salafist groups on 13 March in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia and foiled an apparent Salafist plot to attack a senior member of the regional, right-wing party Pro-NRW. Four Islamists were allegedly planning an attack on Markus Beisicht, head of Pro-NRW, in Leverkusen. Three of the suspects held German passports whilst the fourth was Albanian.

In recent years, Islamist groups have attracted a growing number of second- and third-generation immigrants as well as some young ethnic Germans. This has led German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich to ban three Salafist groups. One of the groups, DawaFFM, was targeted due to its hate-filled propaganda against non-Muslim Germans and Christians, which on several occasions included inciting its members to attack the symbols of secular society. Reports of the situation have even reached Egypt and Jordan, where local media have raised concerns for the dangerous growth of Islamic extremism in Germany.

Volkhard Krech, professor in the Research Department of the Center for Religious Studies CERES, Ruhr-Universität, Bochum (North Rhine-Westphalia), told AsiaNews that Islam has recently begun to attract young people the way extreme rightwing and leftwing ideologies did in the 1970s and 1980s.

Although it remains a circumscribed phenomenon, the rigid rules imposed by Muslim extremism has a certain appeal to young people, Prof Krech explained, because it offers a way to cope with modernity, which many find confusing.

“In North Rhine-Westphalia, the movement has only about a 1,000 members out of a Muslim population of about 250,000 people,” he said. “The local Muslim community is well integrated with many holding German citizenship.”

In spite of their small number, Salafists scare people, Muslims included. Germany has about 4.3 million Muslims. About 1.5 million are naturalised German citizens. Estimates put the number of Salafists at 5,000, many of them ethnic German converts to Islam.

According to the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution), some 60 Germans, mostly from the western part of the country, are in Egypt to study the Qur’an and learn Arabic.

Alexandria is the city of choice. Here, Salafists have set up the Easy Language Center, a school where Arabic and Islam are taught to Westerners, a place that is also thought to offer paramilitary training.

Daniel Schneider, an extremist German Muslim, studied at the school. He was arrested in 2010 on terrorism charges. He planned to attack NATO bases in Germany and Afghanistan.

Two other students, Robert. B. and Christian E., Salafists from Soligen (North Rhein-Westfalia), were arrested in December 2012 at a London airport. They were carrying explosive materials in a suitcase. (S.C.)

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

Italian Police Bust Gangs That Used Dogs as Drugs Mules

Animals were killed to extract drugs after arriving

(ANSA) — Milan, March 19 — Police on Tuesday arrested 75 people across northern Italy and in Rome in relation to alleged international drug trafficking, including via the use of dogs as drugs mules, and other crimes.

The suspects, minors and adults of Latino origin, are thought to belong to ‘padillas’, or gangs, operating in Italy with alleged links to south American drugs cartels. They could now face charges of criminal association, drug trafficking and illegal weapon possession. Investigations show that the gangs used big dogs — St Bernards, Great Danes, Labradors, French Mastiffs and Italian Mastiffs — as drug mules, making them ingest around 1.25 kg of pure cocaine before departure and then killing them to extract the drug upon arrival.

Some 50 dogs are thought to have been used in this way.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Soccer: End to Pols’ Free Tickets ‘Pope-Like’ Says Buffon

Sign ‘things can change’ like frugal Francis says Italy captain

(ANSA) — Florence, March 19 — An end to free tickets to soccer matches for Italian politicians is a “good sign” like those sent by Pope Francis in paying his own way, Italy captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said Tuesday.

On Monday the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), which governs all sport in the country, said it was scrubbing the cards that gave free entry to politicians.

“CONI’s stop to the courtesy cards is a sign like those that have come from the new pope,” Buffon said at a training camp for a friendly against Brazil in Geneva Thursday and a World Cup qualifier in Malta next Tuesday. “They are very good signs…that once in a while things can change,” said the Juventus keeper. Italian politicians of all stripes, most of whose parties have been hit by public-funding scandals, are regulars at top Serie A games, often picked out by the TV cameras. Before CONI’s announcement, many fans did not know they were not paying.

Pope Francis’s six-day reign has so far been marked by signs he is following the frugal ways of the poor people’s saint he chose for his name, St Francis of Assisi.

He paid his hotel bill, travelled in a minivan with cardinals, and has scorned many of the trappings and pomp of the papacy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Fights to Get Estranged Wife’s Alimony Cut

Judges who awarded 36 mn euros a year ‘feminists, Communists’

(ANSA) — Milan, March 19 — Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has appealed against a sentence that forces him to pay his estranged wife Veronica Lario 36 million euros a year in alimony, Italian media said Tuesday.

Lario left Berlusconi after he attended the 18th birthday party of an aspiring starlet and friend in Naples in 2009, accusing him of consorting with minors.

Last Christmas a Milan court ended a three-year legal tussle between the separated couple, who had been together for 30 years and have three children together.

According to the sentence, the media magnate and centre-right politician, 76, will give 56-year-old Lario three million euros a month or 36 million a year but will keep sole possession of his luxury villa outside Milan and his vast business empire will be unaffected.

Berlusconi slammed the “non-consensual” sentence on January 24, saying it was “unexpected” and “detached from reality”.

He said he would dispense with his lawyers and talk to Lario about it.

On January 9 a Milan court rejected Berlusconi’s claim of bias on the part of the three-woman panel that decided on the figure. The ex-premier, who is currently on trial for paying for sex with an underage prostitute and has had a string of scandals involving escorts and a stable of aspiring starlets, called the judges “feminists and Communist”.

The couple’s marital ups and downs have been well publicized over the years.

A media firestorm lit up in 2007 when Lario demanded a public apology from her “flirtatious” husband in a public letter to the editor of the La Repubblica daily, which published the contents on the front page.

“I am asking for a public apology, given that I haven’t received a private one,” she wrote in the letter.

The pair made up after Berlusconi said sorry and presented her with an expensive birthday present, disguised as a dancing sheikh.

When Lario filed for divorce after Berlusconi’s appearance at Neapolitan teen Noemi Letizia’s birthday party, the ex-premier told the gossip magazine Chi that he regretted the end of his “love story”.

Born Miriam Raffaela Bartolini, former actress Lario was Berlusconi’s second wife.

Berlusconi was smitten after seeing her perform topless in a Milan play about a philandering husband called The Magnificent Cuckold in 1980.

Lario’s had a bloody cameo in Italian horror master Dario Argento’s 1982 film ‘Tenebre’ (Shadows). She played a woman who had her hand chopped off and yelled for a few seconds as her wound bled.

The snippet was cut when the film aired on a Berlusconi-owned TV channel in 2004.

Lario and Berlusconi married in 1990 after the media tycoon left his first wife, with whom he has two children, both executives in his media empire.

Berlusconi announced in mid-December that he intends to wed for the third time.

He is engaged to Naples-born Francesca Pascale, almost 50 years his junior, who accompanied him on the first stages of a barnstorming election campaign that lifted him from the political wilderness to a second-place result. The first hearing in the alimony appeal will be in mid-April, judicial sources said Monday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Ministry of Defence Flies €1million in Cash to Cyprus to Help British Troops and Their Families Based on the Crisis-Hit Island

RAF flight left earlier this afternoon, with the money onboard designated for emergency loans in the event that cash machines and debit cards stop working

The Ministry of Defence has sent a plane carrying €1 million to Cyprus as a “contingency measure” to help British troops and their families based on the island.

The RAF flight left the UK earlier this afternoon, with the money onboard designated for emergency loans in the event that cash machines and debit cards stop working on the crisis-hit Mediterranean island.

The MoD said it is determined to minimise the impact of Cyprus’ banking problems on “our people” and it will consider further shipments if required.

The announcement comes amid moves by the Government today to re-assure British troops posted to Cyprus that they will be fully compensated for any plans to raid their savings.

The MoD said that as well as sending out the emergency fund, it is asking personnel if they would prefer this and future months’ salaries to be paid into UK bank accounts.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Scotland: Aberdeen Church Opens Doors to Muslims

Rev Isaac Poobalan makes chapel at St John’s church available to Muslims after mosque proves to be too small for worshippers

A Scottish reverend has invited Muslims to pray alongside Christians in an Aberdeen church because the nearby mosque is so small that some worshippers were forced to pray outside. The rector of St John’s church, Rev Isaac Poobalan, has made parts of the building available to the congregation of the mosque. Up to 100 Muslims now pray in the main chapel five times every Friday. Church leaders believe this may be the only place in the UK where Christians and Muslims worship side by side; there have been similar moves in the US, including in Memphis two years ago…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sharia in Belgium: A Wake Up Call for the West

In the US opponents of American Law for American Courts (ALAC), contend that it is not needed, is biased against Muslims, would jeopardize Jewish Halacha and other ecclesiastical law, interfere with foreign treaties and effectively would ban Sharia. All of these contentions are false. ALAC was designed to ensure that state courts will not apply any foreign law or foreign legal doctrine if the application of that foreign law or foreign legal doctrine would result in the violation of an individual s Constitutional Rights. This is not a blanket ban on foreign law. It is a safeguard which guarantees the protection of fundamental Constitutional Rights. . . One only need look at what has occurred in the countries of the EU. One example is Belgium, where we find the rise of an Islamic Party with a platform espousing adoption of a foreign law doctrine, Sharia, that might suborn the European Convention on Human Rights. Adoption of ALAC here in the US would preempt what has occurred in Belgium. ALAC is designed to protect individual and Constitutional rights. To the extent that Sharia law or any other foreign legal doctrine is compatible with individual Constitutional Rights, there is no conflict whatsoever. If any foreign legal doctrine is not compatible with individual Constitutional Rights, then it is only those conflicting laws or doctrines that would be barred. Kern’s The latest Gatestone article by Kern sends an important message about Sharia demands of elected Muslim officials in Belgium in violation of EU human rights convention and court rulings. By contrast ALAC in the US would further protect State and US Constitutional guarantees of individual rights.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

The Pact That Secured More Than Ninety Votes for New Pope

Sodano, Bertone and Dolan reached agreement. Lombards voted against Scola. Role of Martino, Vatican’s representative at UN for fifteen years

When the moment came to exchange the sign of peace at the “Pro Ecclesia”mass celebrated with the 114 cardinal electors, Pope Francis gave an affectionate hug to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who acted as dean of the college during the conclave, and to the Vatican secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone. It was a snapshot of how events had unfolded during voting twenty-four hours previously, also beneath Michelangelo’s Last Judgement.

As early as the fifth poll, the 115 cardinal electors cast more than ninety votes for Bergoglio. Ireland’s Cardinal Sean Brady admitted: “I was surprised that consensus among the cardinals was reached so soon”. So soon and so overwhelmingly…

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

UK: Alleged Child Abuser Believed Victim Was Above the Age of Consent, Old Bailey Hears [Bullfinch Trial]

A MAN accused of having sex with a child “assumed” she was over 16 as she never went to school and stayed out late, the Old Bailey heard this morning. Mohammed Hussain, one of nine men accused of running a sex exploitation ring in Oxford, admits having sex with the complainant known as Girl 5 but denies he knew her age. He said he would have expected her parents to keep her home at night if she had been under the age of consent. Girl 5, now 16, claims she had sex with Mohammed and Assad Hussain, and cousins Zeeshan and Bilal Ahmed between the ages of 12 and 14…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Benefits Fraudster Who Falsely Claimed £18,000 Because of Crippling Back Pain is Filmed Working as a Judo Instructor

A man who falsely claimed more than £18,000 in disability benefits was caught out working as a judo instructor.

David Roberts received the highest rate of mobility-based disability allowance after claiming he had crippling back pain, was practically wheelchair-bound and could not wash himself, shower or go to the toilet unaided.

But the 47-year-old was filmed in an undercover sting operation by the Department of Work and Pensions working as a judo sensei, hurling a student across a practice mat.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: East London University Blocks Hate Preachers — But Fails to Condemn Them Publicly

by Peter Tatchell

The University of East London (UEL) blocked an Islamist meeting that was due to be held on the Stratford campus last Friday, 15 March. The meeting was billed as featuring hate preachers Khalid Yasin and Jalal ibn Saeed. The meeting was also advertised with “segregated seating”, where women would be forced to sit separate from men. The Peter Tatchell Foundation, LGBT Society at UEL and the Braki blog lobbied for the meeting to be cancelled. Khalid Yasin says homosexuality and lesbianism are “aberrations, they are immoralities.” He endorses the execution of gay people…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Nurse at Scandal-Hit Stafford Hospital ‘Failed to Provide Basic Life Support for Dying Patient Then Claimed She Was Asleep After She Passed Away’

A nurse at scandal-hit Stafford Hospital claimed an elderly patient was asleep when the woman was dead, a hearing was told today.

Evelyn Agbeko, with colleague Theresia Van Der Knaap, allegedly failed to provide ‘basic life support’ when they discovered the 81-year-old unresponsive.

As the pensioner’s life drained away they did not even start chest compressions or summon the hospital’s resuscitation team, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: New Date is Fixed for Appeal Over Dudley Mosque

A fresh courtroom battle is planned over the controversial multi-million-pound Dudley Mosque as a date has been fixed for an appeal hearing.

High Court judges will hear the latest appeal by the Dudley Muslim Association into the long-running battle in June…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Operation Bullfinch Day 35: Prosecution Case Draws to a Close

by Esmeralda Weatherwax

The Oxford Mail continues to valiantly report the trial of the 9 Muslim men resident in Oxford who are on trial at the Central Criminal Court Old Bailey for the rape and prostitution of several underage girls. Thursday and Friday last week the court heard legal arguements in the absence of the jury. The prosecution case is expected to conclude shortly and the defence begin later this week. A flavour of what can be expected as their defence is suggested in thse remarks of Anjum Dogar who “told police he may have been ‘set up’ by the alleged victims.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Seized Suspects Phones During Oxfordshire Child Sex Ring, Court Hears [Bullfinch Trial]

MEN accused of running a child sex ring spoke to and texted each other on their telephones, the Old Bailey heard this afternoon. The Oxford sex exploitation trial heard mobile telephones seized by police showed contact between seven of the nine defendants. Phone evidence was not available for two of the defendants, the jury heard. Prosecutor Neil Moore said Kamar Jamil, brothers Akhtar and Anjum Dogar, and Assad Hussain had all been contacting each other before they were arrested and their phones taken last year…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Teenage Boy, 17, Collapses in Court as He Accuses Soap Star of Raping Him on a ‘Weekly Basis’

[WARNING: Disturbing Content. ]

A teenage boy collapsed in court today as he gave evidence against a child soap star who allegedly sexually assaulted him when he was just 14-years-old.

The performing arts student, now 17, claims the actor molested him on a ‘weekly basis’ between August and September 2010 at their stage school in an attempt to prove to his girlfriend that he was bisexual.

The teenager had been giving evidence in the witness box for 20 minutes at Blackfriars Crown Court from behind a curtain when a loud thud and what sounded like a fall could be heard from the public gallery.

The courtroom was cleared while the witness received medical treatment.

The judge said he is now considering allowing the boy to give evidence via videolink as the experience appeared to be too much for him.

The actor, who cannot be named as he is underage himself, allegedly attacked the boy while they attended the same stage school in London.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Croatia: Turkish Parliament Speaker Visits Zagreb Mosque

Cicek noted that 60,000 Muslims who were living in Croatia was an important element of good relations between Turkey and Croatia.

Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek visited Zagreb Mosque in Croatia where he arrived in to hold several talks. Zagreb Mosque was build as the only mosque of Croatia in 1987.

During his meeting with Croatia’s Mufti Aziz Hasanovic at Zagreb Mosque, Cicek said that Turkey and Croatia were in close cooperation…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Islamic Scholars: American Muslims Must ‘Prosecute Those Who Offend Islam’

The most prestigious group of Sunni Islamic scholars and jurists in the world called on American Muslims to “immediately start legal action to prosecute those who offend Islam” and called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to wage lawfare against those who insult Islam and its prophet.

The statement—issued in Arabic this past weekend on the website of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), and signed by the Arab world’s leading shariah authority, Yusuf al-Qaradawi—sheds light on the cause of riots around the Muslim world, and illustrates the importance of mainstream Islamic law as a cause of the rancor generated by the YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims.”

The IUMS’s statement, as well as Qaradawi’s influential imprimatur, is a significant escalation in the Islamic world’s offensive to institute shariah globally and criminalize criticism of Islam.

The Islamic governments of Egypt, and Iran—as well as Muslim clerics both abroad and in the United States—have since echoed the essence of the IUMS statement, and called for legal action against those responsible for the video which, “should be considered a violation of the rights of Muslims and an attack on Islamic symbols and holy sites.”

Understanding the Islamic legal reasoning on which this statement is based is essential. In the context of Islamic law, Innocence of Muslims constitutes an encroachment on shariah’s clear prohibition against blasphemy or slander against Islam, its prophet or on shariah itself. Furthermore, the phrase “violation of the rights of Muslims” is a 20th Century Islamic legal convention; according to the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (served at the UN in 1990), “human rights” is understood as shariah only. According to that definition, the video is a violation of “human rights.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mursi Says Egypt, Pakistan Are Pillars of Islamic World

Egypt and Pakistan are pillars of the Islamic world that play a vital role for the Islamic nation and the region as a whole, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi said on Monday…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

ZOA ‘Compelled to Speak Up’ About Disturbing Obama Itinerary

ZOA “compelled to speak up about two unsettling aspects of President Obama’s upcoming visit to Israel.”

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed dismay regarding President Barack Obama’s decision not to address the Knesset as part of his visit to Israel, as well as the exclusion of the Ariel University students from the list of invitees to the presidential speech in Jerusalem’s convention center, even as all of Israel’s other universities were included…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

15 Syrians Killed in Chemical Rocket Attack by Gunmen

DAMASCUS, March 19 (Xinhua) — At least 15 people were killed Tuesday in Syria’s northern town of Khan al-Asal when armed men fired a rocket stuffed with chemical materials, the state-media said.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Barack Obama Implores Iran to Abandon Nuclear Testing in Video Message

US President Barack Obama has made a direct address to the people of Iran to mark the holiday of Nowruz, also asking the country’s leaders to abandon any nuclear weapons ambitions.

US President Barack Obama made a direct address to the people of Iran on Monday to mark the holiday of Nowruz. He said that he has offered Iran’s leaders a new relationship with the US if they will uphold international standards, especially concerning the country’s nuclear ambitions…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Iraq Rocked by Wave of Explosions

Peter Beaumont and agencies in Baghdad

Baghdad was convulsed by a deadly wave of explosions as terrorists detonated up to nine explosions in the course of a few hours over the morning on the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion. Early reports suggested that at least 34 people were killed and dozens more wounded as car bombs hit Shia areas, including a mosque and a restaurant across the city.

At the Ministry of the Interior in central Baghdad, the Guardian heard one explosion in the distance, followed by a rising plume of smoke. Helicopters could be seen hovering above the scene…

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

Iraq: Bombs Hit Baghdad on Anniversary of US Invasion

A series of car bombs and blasts across Shiite areas of Baghdad killed at least 56 people and wounded more than 200 on Tuesday morning, Iraqi officials said. The attacks come a decade after the US-led invasion on March 20, 2003.

A wave of bombings tore through Baghdad on Tuesday morning, killing at least 56 people in a spasm of violence on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion.

The attacks show how dangerous and unstable Iraq remains a decade after the war — a country where sectarian violence can explode at any time. And though attacks have ebbed since the peak of the insurgency in 2006 and 2007, tensions simmer and militants remain a potent threat to Iraq’s security forces.

Tuesday’s attacks were mostly by car bombs and targeted mainly Shiite areas, small restaurants, day laborers and bus stops in the Iraqi capital and nearby towns over a span of more than two hours.

Along with 56 killed, over 200 people were wounded in the attacks, officials said.

The bombings came 10 years to the day that Washington announced the start of the invasion on March 19, 2003 — though by that time it was already the following morning in Iraq.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Kuwait: Govt Confirms ‘Segregation’ At Clinics

KUWAIT: The Ministry of Health is going forward with plans to accord Kuwaitis priority in medical checkups during morning shifts while making it mandatory for foreigners to visit the facilities only during the afternoon shifts for medical tests, a senior ministry official said yesterday. Undersecretary Dr. Khalid Al-Sehlawi confirmed earlier reports which indicated that the ministry’s council of medical zones approved a proposal that gives Kuwaiti patients priority to undergo tests at public medical facilities during morning or afternoon shifts but bars expatriates from availing the same facilities during morning hours. “[The approval came after] Minister of Health Dr Mohammad Al-Haifi met heads of medical zones in order to learn their views on their proposal,” Sehlawi said, adding that the new system was only going to be enforced at outpatient clinics.

Haifi had stated last week that the nationality-based segregation system could eventually be adopted at public medical facilities but only if it could be proven that it will benefit Kuwaiti citizens. Sehlawi assured that a ministry study revealed that the afternoon shifts were “suitable” for expatriates, citing a similar “successful” experience adopted nearly two and a half years ago at certain clinics where afternoon shifts were allocated solely for Kuwaitis. Sehlawi also reiterated that emergency rooms and trauma centers at public hospitals and polyclinics will remain open to Kuwaitis and non- Kuwaitis equally throughout the day. “The ministry wants to allocate a period during the day for citizens to undergo checks at outpatient clinics which usually give appointments extending over a long period of time,” he said.

While it was initially approved, the decision needs to be approved by the Cabinet before it becomes effective. Currently, there is no timetable for when that is expected to happen. Once implemented, the new system is expected to be first adopted in overcrowded public clinics such as those for internal medicine and surgery.

A local newspaper had reported last week that the proposal was going to be studied “as per accurate statistics for the number of patients at public hospitals during morning and afternoon hours in order to determine the feasibility of the proposed system”. According to reports last month, the ministry began studying the proposal as part of the government’s attempts to improve the quality of services at its overcrowded medical facilities in light of the fact that infrastructure was not adequate vis-a-vis the country’s demographic growth.

The news had since sparked negative reactions, given the “discriminatory” nature of the proposal, leading ministry officials to come out later and explain that the issue was merely proposed as a suggestion for outpatient clinics and that the ministry does not necessarily plan to implement it.

           — Hat tip: RR [Return to headlines]

Syria: US Would Not Object to Arming Rebels

The United States would not object to Britain and France arming Syrian rebel groups now fighting to topple the regime of Bashar al-Assad, secretary of state John Kerry said.

“President Obama has made it clear that the United States does not stand in the way of other countries that have made a decision to provide arms, whether it’s France or Britain or others,” said Mr Kerry. “He believes that we need to change President Assad’s calculation.” His words reflect growing momentum behind more forceful intervention in Syria’s civil war that has already claimed 70,000 lives and is fast becoming a “global catastrophe”, according to Mr Kerry…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Local Russian Hijab Ban Puts Muslims in a Squeeze

LEVOPADINSKY, Russia — The girls of the Salikhov family live in frontier country. Their road is dirt, punctuated by puddles and sheep, and their house does not have plumbing or running water. They had been hoping this would be the year the local authorities got around to hooking up natural gas. Instead, they found themselves at the center of an emerging debate over religion in Russia…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Afghans in Wardak Province Want U.S. Forces Out

MAIDAN SHAR, Afghanistan, March 19 (Xinhua) — War-weary residents of the eastern Afghan province of Wardak located near capital Kabul have called for the removal of the U.S. Special Forces from the province for alleged misconduct and crimes against them. “We do not know why the U.S. Special Forces come to Wardak. They claim to provide security but why are they involved in harassing and torturing civilians?” Rahimullah Khan, a 53-year- old resident, told Xinhua in provincial capital Maidan Shar…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

EU Backs Italy Over Ambassador, Says India Violating Int’ Law

Ashton says limiting movements against Vienna Convention

(ANSA) — Brussels, March 19 — Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, said Tuesday that India was violating the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations after India’s Supreme Court ordered Italy’s ambassador to New Delhi not to leave the country. The court imposed the order on Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini after Rome said two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala during an anti-piracy mission last year would not return to India.

The marines, Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, had been allowed to come home last month to vote in Italy’s general election. In the statement, Ashton said that: “the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic relations is a cornerstone of the international legal order and should be respected at all times.

“Any limitations to the freedom of movement of the Ambassador of Italy to India would be contrary to the international obligations established under this Convention”.

Up to now the EU had seemed to be trying to distance itself from an increasingly acrimonious row, saying it was a bilateral dispute. Ashton expressed “concern” about the Indian Supreme Court’s March 14 decision to impose the ban on Mancini leaving India and the March 18 decision to extend it until it next hears the case on April 2.

The Vienna Convention states that the rights of diplomats are “inviolable” and they cannot be detained.

However, the Indian Supreme Court said Mancini’s case is an exception, arguing that, on the basis of Article 32 of the Vienna Convention, he “automatically lost” his diplomatic immunity by signing a guarantee that the marines would return.

Rome, which has declared the travel ban “illegal”, has always denied that India has jurisdiction over the marines case, saying the incident took place in international waters.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said last week that the decision to not return the pair was legitimate and Italy had a strong case which it wanted to put to independent arbitration.

An earlier deal, which allowed the marines to return to Italy for Christmas, was respected by both governments and was seen as a positive step — as well as a sign of goodwill — towards a diplomatic solution.

“The High Representative continues to hope that a mutually acceptable solution can be found through dialogue and in respect of international rules and encourages the parties to explore all avenues to that effect,” read Ashton’s statement.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Pakistan University Awards Egypt President Honorary PhD

Pakistan’s National University for Science and Technology awarded Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi an honorary doctorate in philosophy during his visit to Islamabad on Monday.

State television aired footage of Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf as he handed the certificate to Mursi. During the ceremony, Mursi gave a speech referring to the role of Islamic civilizations in spreading science and knowledge that, according to him, led to the enlightenment of the West…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

US Intelligence Worker Caught in Chinese Honey Trap Spy Scheme

HONOLULU — A civilian defense contractor who works in intelligence at the US Pacific Command has been charged with giving national security secrets to a 27-year-old Chinese woman he was dating, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday.

Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, is accused of sending the woman an email last May with information on existing war plans, nuclear weapons and US relations with international partners, according to the complaint filed in US District Court in Honolulu.

The complaint alleged Bishop told the woman over the telephone in September about the deployment of US strategic nuclear systems and about the ability of the US to detect other nations’ low- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Was Chinese Scientist a Spy at NASA?

A Chinese scientist working at NASA’s Langley Research Center has been arrested by federal agents after he was pulled off an airplane with a laptop and other computer data that may have contained sensitive military secrets, according to a member of Congress.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) identified the NASA contractor as Bo Jiang. He is listed as a “research scholar” on the website of the National Institute of Aerospace, a non-profit Langley contractor.

“What they did here potentially could be a direct threat to our country,” Wolf told Discovery News in a telephone interview. “The Chinese have the most comprehensive spying program in Washington that has ever been. They make the KGB look like they were the junior varsity or freshman team.”

Jiang was headed home to Beijing on a one-way ticket on Saturday when federal agents arrested him.

Just last week, the FBI had opened an active investigation into whether Jiang, a Chinese national, might have violated the federal Arms Export Control Act, according to an FBI affidavit. But on Friday, agents learned that Jiang “was leaving the United States to abruptly return to China,” according to the affidavit, the contents of which were reported by The Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Va.

“Jiang told the Homeland Security Agent that he had a cellphone, a memory stick, an external hard drive and a new computer,” FBI Special Agent Rhonda A. Squizzero wrote in the affidavit for the arrest warrant. “However, during the search, other media items were located that Jiang did not reveal. Such items found include an additional laptop, an old hard drive and a SIM card.”

The affidavit did not say what information was found on the additional laptop, hard drive and memory card — and whether or not it had any sensitive information contained on it.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Deep-Sea Mining Struggles to Manage Ecological Impact

Mining’s next frontier is proving tricky to navigate. Last week a British company became the latest firm to announce its intention to mine the seabed. However, it is still unclear how deep-sea mining will affect the oceans.

UK Seabed Resources, a subsidiary of the aerospace and defence firm Lockheed Martin, will be exploring a 58,000-square-kilometre area of the Pacific Ocean. The company wants to use autonomous and remotely operated machines to collect polymetallic nodules, which can be rich in copper, nickel, manganese and rare earth minerals.

The company says mining the seabed for nodules is “ecologically sound”. But experts say we don’t know that yet.

Some areas of the seabed are ecologically unique, so disturbing them could be disastrous, says Euan Harvey of the University of Western Australia in Crawley. He says companies should do controlled experimental mining to study how the ecosystem recovers.

However, Charitha Pattiaratchi, also at the University of Western Australia, is cautiously hopeful. He says organisms that live on deep seabed are very rugged, having evolved under high pressure with no light, and in sediment that is regularly disturbed by violent storms. Pattiaratchi has studied the effects of active drilling by oil rigs on seabed communities at shallower depths. A month after drilling ended, wildlife had recovered to the point that he could not distinguish areas that were drilled from areas that were not.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mother Witnessed Son’s Machete Slaying, Court Told

By Lucy McNally

A jury has been told how a woman witnessed four men kill her son with machetes and meat cleavers in their Sydney home three years ago.

Mohammed Karimi, John Khoury and Mahdi Mir have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Kesley Burgess, who was killed in his Lurnea home in 2010.

The men sat side by side in the NSW Supreme Court today as Ken McKay outlined the prosecution’s case.

He said Karimi and Khoury recruited men for the attack while Mir was allegedly one of four men who carried out the killing.

The jury was told they armed themselves with machetes and meat cleavers and demanded cash and drugs.

Tracey Burgess watched them attack her son with the weapons as he lay on the ground.

She pleaded with the men to kill her instead, before running into the kitchen and finding some cannabis to give them.

Mr Burgess, 25, died in hospital two days later.

The family told police they did not know their attackers or why they had been targeted.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Dozens Feared Killed in Northern Nigeria Motor Park Blast

KANO, Nigeria, March 18 (Xinhua) — A suicide car bomber detonated himself in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano on Monday, with dozens of people feared dead in the attack, local residents and military spokesperson told Xinhua. State Chairman for the Ohanaeze Ndigbo group Tobias Idika said up to 60 persons were killed and five luxury buses were burnt to ashes. Idika said the entire bus went up in flame with many of the victims inside the vehicle…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Four Teachers, Two Others Killed as Gunmen Attack Primary Schools in Maiduguri

Maiduguri — In a renewed onslaught on schools in Borno, four school teachers including two female teachers and two other people were yesterday morning killed when some gunmen launched multiple attacks on four schools in the troubled city of Maiduguri, witnesses told Daily Trust…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigerian Bombings in Kano Killed 22 People, Police Say

Two suicide bombers killed at least 22 people in an attack on a bus station in the northern Nigerian city of Kano yesterday, Kano State Police Commissioner Musa Daura said by phone.

About 65 people were wounded when the bombers struck Kano’s Sabon Gari district, an area mostly inhabited by migrants from the southern Christian Igbo ethnic group, Daura said. At least five buses were destroyed in the attack, according to Tobias Idika, chairman of a group representing the Igbos in the region. President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the bombings as “barbaric” in a statement…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Penis-Snatching Panics Resurface in Africa

In a recent issue of “Pacific Standard” magazine, Louisa Lombard, an anthropologist at the University of California at Berkeley, described visiting a small town in the Central African Republic where she encountered two men who claimed that their penises had been stolen.

It seems that the day before, a traveler visiting the town had shaken hands with a tea vendor who immediately claimed he felt a shock and sensed that his penis had shrunk. He cried out in alarm, gathering a crowd, and a second man then said it also happened to him.

This is not the setup to a joke; it is a real psychological disorder called koro in which victims (mostly men, but sometimes women) come to believe that their genitals are shrinking or retracting into the body. The concern is not only for their sexuality, but also for their lives, since they believe that the condition may be life threatening if not reversed. In order to prevent further shrinkage, victims have been known to securely tie their penises with string or metal clamps — even sometimes having family members hold it in relays until treatment can be sought, usually from shamen or traditional healers.

The condition has most often been found in Africa in recent decades, though it has also been widely reported in Asia.

“In recent years, news media in several West African countries have reported periodic episodes of ‘panic’ in which men and women are beaten, sometimes to death, after being accused of causing penises, breasts, and vaginas to shrink or disappear,” wrote Vivian Dzokoto and Glenn Adams in a study published in 2005 in the journal Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry. “At least 56 separate cases of genital shrinking, disappearance, and snatching have been reported in the last seven years (1998-2005) by news media of seven West African countries.”

Victims of koro usually believe that a touch or “accidental” brush with a stranger caused the theft, in the same way that a pickpocket might steal a wallet.Dzokotoand Adams give one example of a 17-year-old man in Ghana who “claimed that he had gone to fetch water for his father and was returning when (the perpetrator) came behind him, touched him and immediately he felt his penis shrink until it was no longer visible.”

Koro can be understood in a variety of ways; from a psychological perspective it can be seen as an example of mass hysteria or delusion, in which a collective cultural belief can be manifested in one person’s experience — whether objectively “real” or not.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Somalia: Mogadishu Car Bomb Kills Civilians, Schoolchildren

Mogadishu — At least eight people were killed by a car bomb in central Mogadishu on Monday in one of the bloodiest attacks in the war-ravaged capital in recent months…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Africa: The Real Story Behind Farm Strikes

Real story behind farm strikes in the Western Cape, South Africa, shatters the narrative that “heartless white farmers and labour brokers drove down workers’ wages” and exposes an unsavoury European angle to the story


The workers’ protests started on a farm called Keurboschkloof, previously a model farm in the Western Cape where workers were paid far above the minimum wage. When the farmer, Pierre Smit, died, his farm was taken over by a BEE [black economic empowerment] consortium that immediately cut wages from an average of R14.51 to R10.60 an hour.

This, understandably, elicited protests by workers, further aggravated by the fact that a former ANC councillor, who is also a labour broker, tried to bring in “scab labour” at the behest of this BEE consortium to replace the protesting workers.


[A]n article titled “Oogsten in Afrika” published in the magazine Quote in October 2012, which quotes Anton de Vries, the Dutch co-founder of the BEE consortium that took over Keurboschkloof farm (that cut worker wages as soon as they took over), saying he had set up a venture to “profit” from land reform. He boasted that it was an official partner of the ANC national government and has contacts in the highest levels, which is its greatest asset.

The reality is that while most farmers pay significantly higher than the minimum wage, they are struggling to make ends meet because of the low return on their product. For example, a research project revealed that when it comes to the final retail price for table grapes from Hex River Valley imported to the UK, 42 percent goes to supermarkets, 32 percent to distributors, while only 18 percent is retained by the farmers, who must cover all their costs from this return.

[This excellent op-ed was written by Helen Zille, former political journalist, current head of the DA party and premier of the Western Cape]

           — Hat tip: LH [Return to headlines]

Radio Astronomy: The Patchwork Array

After years of delays and cost overruns, an international collaboration is finally inaugurating the world’s highest-altitude radio telescope.

The car toils upwards along the sinuous road, its engine tuned for the thin air. The clumps of cactus and grass along the road soon give way to bone-dry lifelessness. By the time the car reaches 4,000 metres above sea level, Pierre Cox has a bit of a headache. By the time it reaches the 5,000-metre-high Chajnantor plateau — one of the highest, driest places on Earth, and one of the best for astronomy — the altitude is affecting his bladder. Cox, the incoming director of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, is about to glimpse the giant telescope dishes he will soon be responsible for. But first he must find a toilet.

Cox slides out of the car and staggers into ALMA’s glass and steel operations centre. The current director, Thijs de Graauw, a trim 71-year-old Dutchman, follows Cox inside and sits down. For him, journeys like this occur weekly — if not daily — but he knows that they are no joke. First-timers get a mandatory medical screening before being allowed up to the plateau, and regular shift workers pad around the building with tubes in their noses and oxygen tanks on their backs. “Everyone okay?” De Graauw asks the group of astronomers who have accompanied Cox to ALMA on this December day. “No victims yet?”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: May Backtracks on Foreign Criminals Plans as She Refuses to Support Amendment That Would Have Stopped Convicts Using Right to a Family Life to Avoid Deportation

Theresa May last night killed-off plans to bring an immediate end to the scandal of foreign criminals claiming a human right to a ‘family life’ in Britain.

The Home Secretary refused to support a simple nine-word amendment which would have stopped the convicts blocking deportation under article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

The measure, which could have passed within weeks as part of the Crime and Courts Bill, was supported by more than 90 Tories and the ex-Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett.

Last night, Mrs May said she remained determined to end abuse of article 8, but — because of Britain’s obligations to the European Court of Human Rights — – the amendment would have been ruled unlawful.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Anderson Cooper Kisses “Boy Scout” To Offend Traditional America

The headline says it all: “Anderson Cooper Kissed Madonna, Dressed In Boy Scout Uniform, at GLAAD Media Awards.” The CNN host did something that was sure to offend the millions of parents who are resisting the homosexual campaign to force homosexuals into the Boy Scouts of America as Scoutmasters or leaders. But in today’s media world, when even some conservatives are losing the will to resist and throwing other conservatives under the bus for standing strong in defense of traditional values, this extremely offensive stunt will be treated as amusing or funny.

“Madonna smooches Anderson Cooper” is one of the headlines. “Anderson Cooper Honored by GLAAD, Good Scout Madonna,” is how Reuters news agency put it.

One story said that Madonna was dressed in a Boy Scout uniform as she presented the Vito Russo Award, which goes to “an openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender media professional” who has made a significant difference in “promoting equality.” Madonna’s outfit was designed “to protest over the organization’s national ban on gay Scouts and Scouts leaders.”

This was a deliberate effort to mock the Scouts for standing for traditional values and instructing young men to be “morally straight.” Anderson Cooper went along with the gag by “kissing” the faux Scout. It was supposed to be cute.

As an Eagle Scout and father of three boys who also had some fun in Scouting, I don’t think it is right to mock this worthwhile program…

Hosted personally by Today Show host Natalie Morales, the “headliners” of the event include a “who’s who” of the major media:


Now keep in mind that all of these news organizations and their news personnel which sponsor or host this homosexual fundraiser will also claim to be objectively covering issues such as the push to open the Boy Scouts of America to homosexuals. It is a lie. They won’t tell you about GLAAD’s media clout.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dutch Turks to Protest Against Lesbian Couple Fostering Turkish Child

THE HAGUE, March 19 (Xinhua) — Several Turks living in The Netherlands are planning protests against the care of Turkish foster children in Dutch homosexual or Christian families, Dutch media reported on Tuesday. The direct reason for the protests is the case of the 9-year-old boy Yunus of Turkish origin, who was raised by two lesbian parents. Due to the unrest, the foster mothers and their foster son went hiding because of fears for their safety…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Wave Goodbye to the World Wide Web, Say Hello to the Worldstream

The patron saint of the internet is St Isidore of Seville — not that he ever got to use it, having died in the year 636. Regarded as one of the greatest scholars of his time, he attempted a compilation of all human knowledge, in the process preserving ancient texts that would otherwise have been lost. Humanity has been pre-occupied with the organisation of knowledge ever since and the internet, and more specifically the world wide web, represents the latest and, so far, greatest stage in this endeavour.

When different stages of the evolution of the internet are given names like ‘web 1.0’ and ‘web 2.0’, it’s natural for people to ask: what comes next? what will web 3.0 look like?

But, according to David Gelernter, professor of computer science at Yale, “there won’t be a next web”. In a fascinating piece for Wired, he argues that we’re already in the process of transition to an entirely different way of organising human knowledge…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]