Gates of Vienna News Feed 3/24/2013

The finance ministers of the European Union have agreed on a bailout package for Cyprus that will avert bankruptcy in the country and keep it in the Eurozone. Cyprus will, however, be required to intensify its cost-cutting measures by closing insolvent banks and forcing some bondholders to take a “haircut”.

In other news, the latest evidence suggests that the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria was committed by the jihad fighters of the “rebel” forces supported by the United States and the European Union.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, JD, McR, Paul Green, Steen, Vlad Tepes, 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
» E.U. Ministers Agree on Bailout Package for Cyprus
» How Cyprus Got on the Road to Financial Disaster
» Ancient History and Modern Constitutional Powers of American Sheriffs (Part 1/2)
» Apocalypse! One American Family Shows What it Takes to Prepare for the End of Civilization as We Know it
» BlackBerry to Run Ads That Hijack Your Entire Display
» Bloomberg: ‘Big Brother. Get Used to it!’
» Do We Really See What is Happening?
» Gun Deaths Shaped by Race in America
» Is There Any Way to Get the Impostor Out of the WH?
» Leftists in Arizona Trying to Recall Sheriff Arpaio
» Life Imitates Rap: Men Arrested for Crimes Committed in Music Video
» Living in Obama’s Mad House
» Night Falls on Civilization
» Obama Administration: Warrantless GPS Tracking Needed to Fight Terrorism
» Predictions of the End of Posse Comitatus Now a Reality, Say Experts
» Profiler Analyzes Obama: Picture of ‘Martial Law’ Alarms Forensic Profiler
» Satanic-Looking Obama Has Many Questioning Eerie Resemblance in History Channel Broadcast
» Science Fiction Comes Alive as Researchers Grow Organs in Lab
» Silent Conquest: A Tale of Sharia and Western Self-Censorship
» So it Begins: DARPA Sets Out to Make Computers That Can Teach Themselves
Europe and the EU
» Beaver Boom Benefits German Rivers
» Germany: Hackers Wanted to Man Front Line in Cyber War
» Italy: Rome Mayor Says PDL Paid Clean-Up, Metro for Demonstrators
» Italy: Berlusconi Calls for Immediate Vote if PD Leader Fails
» Norway: Snow and the City: Jumping on Oslo’s Metro for a Cross-Country Adventure
» UK: Foreign Private Patients Pay Tens of Thousands of Pounds for Livers Donated to the Nhsking’s College NHS Foundation Trust Carried Out 19 Operations in 2 Years
North Africa
» How Did Ambassador Stevens Die?
Israel and the Palestinians
» US Unblocks $500m for Palestinians
Middle East
» Bolton: Iran Planning ‘Whole Arsenal’ of Nukes
» Former CAIR Leader Elected to Head Syrian Rebels
» Syria Chemical Weapons: Finger Pointed at Jihadists
» Twitter is for Clowns: Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti
South Asia
» Pakistani Firm Whose Chemicals Were Used to Kill US Troops Seeks Subsidy for Indiana Plant
Far East
» Moscow and Beijing “Open Their Souls” In Oil and Gas Exchange
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Central African Republic Rebels Storm Presidential Palace
Culture Wars
» Obama Tolerance Police Accused of Intolerance
» Richard Dawkins’ Horrid Devaluation of Human Life
» Washington State Weighs 1st Abortion Insurance Mandate in U.S.

E.U. Ministers Agree on Bailout Package for Cyprus

European Union leaders agreed on a bailout package intended to keep Cyprus in the euro zone and rebuild its devastated economy.

The deal, struck after hours of meetings, was approved by the finance ministers from the euro zone, the 17 countries that use the common currency. It would drastically prune the size of Cyprus’s oversized banking sector and scrap the highly controversial idea of a tax on bank deposits, although it would still require forced losses for depositors and bondholders.

[Return to headlines]

How Cyprus Got on the Road to Financial Disaster

The banks of Cyprus could soon face bankruptcy, dragging the rest of the country with them. But how did it come to this, and what means of rescue could the Cyprus government still reach for?

The tax haven Cyprus bears much, but not all, of the responsibility for the financial disaster it is currently seeking to stem. The island country can partly ascribe its financial problems to its close linkage with the Greek economy. Cypriot banks invested heavily in Greece, providing loans that didn’t get paid back after Greece’s creditors agreed to take losses in early 2012.

This particularly affected Cyprus’ economy since its banking sector is disproportionately large and influential. With deposits of 70 billion euros ($91 billion) compared to a gross national product of around 18 billion euros, the banking sector is considered overinflated. This represents a key difference to other eurozone countries.

Experts say that this disparity was the result of the Mediterranean nation’s longstanding enticement of cash-rich investors — including wealthy Russians, Ukrainians, Brits and Greeks — by way of low taxes, high interest rates and lax controls. Lack of banking supervision is believed to have drawn illegal Russian money into Cyprus, as well, leading to accusations from European Union politicians that Cyprus hasn’t done enough to combat money laundering.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Ancient History and Modern Constitutional Powers of American Sheriffs (Part 1/2)

Can America’s sheriffs save our Constitution and our precious liberties? The exhaustive history of the sheriff has yet to be written, but much is known of the rise of these county leaders, once called shire reeves, in old England. Sheriffs are termed the “the oldest appointment of the English crown.” They represent transition from simple local rule to a nationalized attempt at keeping law and order. Sheriffs were first established when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were finally assembled into the Wessex-based Kingdom of England sometime around 1000 AD.

In the Colonies, the Crown established sheriffs, as done in Britain by royal decree. But, before long, the democratic process was employed to elect them. Today, they are the last bastion of popular representation in law enforcement. Ironically, it now appears that the ancient sheriff, the last representative of popular, local federalism — might be the last chance for America to retain our civil liberties before the onslaught of Leviathan — the colossus of government tyranny. This hope is best represented by the Oath Keepers, a group educating and supporting local sheriffs as defenders of our Constitution against creeping federal insurgency. Add to this the doctrine of Nullification, or refusal to apply unconstitutional laws, which sheriffs are now applying across America on various topics, such as gun regulations, and refusing federal demand for control.

This article is composed in two parts to better describe the history, function and constitutional warrant of the local, county American sheriff.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Apocalypse! One American Family Shows What it Takes to Prepare for the End of Civilization as We Know it

Imagine if suddenly, and completely without warning, the world experienced a total blackout — no electricity, no mobile phones, no banks, no internet, no TV, no emergency services. Nothing. Highways quickly become jammed with cars that have ground to a halt; an aeroplane falls from the sky; a satellite view of the planet shows it rapidly plunging into darkness.

As it becomes apparent that the lights are never coming back on, nations are plunged into chaos, mass riots break out in major cities and, without electricity, governments are toppled. Into the vacuum step ad-hoc militias, armed and ready to enforce their own rule of law.

This is the apocalyptic premise of the hit American TV series Revolution, which begins on Sky 1 this week. In the first episode, viewers are pulled through this nightmarish chain of events.

[Comment: Perhaps this is conditioning viewers to think that this is what will happen for sure. Therefore, bring in the military and enforce co-operation in the new international communist order.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

BlackBerry to Run Ads That Hijack Your Entire Display

“Android and iPhone users […] will also experience BlackBerry’s ad content in the form of mobile takeovers starting the week of March 25. Those mobile takeovers will fill your screen with what looks like a BlackBerry 10’s, demoing a specific feature like its photo ‘Time Shift’ capability that allows you to scroll through several captured options for each face in a picture.” Yes. BlackBerry is going to run ads that hijack your entire smartphone’s display.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bloomberg: ‘Big Brother. Get Used to it!’

Big Brother is watching. Now get used to it!

Envisioning a future where privacy is a thing of the past, Mayor Bloomberg said Friday it will soon be impossible to escape the watchful eyes of surveillance cameras and even drones in the city.

He acknowledged privacy concerns, but said “you can’t keep the tides from coming in.”

“You wait, in five years, the technology is getting better, they’ll be cameras everyplace . . . whether you like it or not,” Bloomberg said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Do We Really See What is Happening?

I review the bills that are introduced into Congress weekly. It takes anywhere from an hour to sometimes two and a half hours to review these bills. When I examine these laws that are introduced to Congress you will find that any law that involves raising taxes and implementing more and more regulations on businesses and people in general and bills that nibble away at our Constitutional rights you will find that they come from the Democrat Party 100% of the time. When we see bills that attempt to lower taxes, re-establish Constitution al rights, remove regulations they come from the Republican Party virtually 100% of the time.

All the bills that I have seen that demand that America’s access to its natural resources be restricted always come from the Democrats. They have bills in Congress right now that would permanently ban drilling for oil on the entire East Coast, the Gulf, Anwar and the entire West Coast. All have been introduced by the Democrats. The Republicans have introduced bills that would open these areas for drilling. We are paying excessively for oil when we have the most known reserves in the world simply because we are importing over 70% of our oil from nations that hate us. Saudi Arabia has gas for around $1.00 a gallon. Why are we paying up to $4.00 a gallon? Why are we putting that kind of wealth in their hands instead of in the hands of Americans? It is only because the Democrats won’t allow us access to our own national resources.

When we look at the recent attack on our 2nd Amendment rights we see pretty much the same thing. Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein has a bill that will ban any gun with a clip. The State of New York implemented bills that severely restrict a person’s ability to protect themselves. Democrat Senator Chuck Shumer added an amendment to a bill that could make many gun owners felons and sets them up to have their guns confiscated just because they went on a business trip! Here is an excerpt from an article concerning Shumer’s amendment:


Looking at bills such as the NDAA make you question the patriotism of most members of Congress. In the Senate 98 voted to pass the 2013 NDAA which has the indefinite detention with no charges, no access to counsel for anyone who is a threat to ‘nation al security’. The DOJ’s top four threats to national security are people who demand that the government operate according to the Constitution, veterans, 2nd Amendment supporters, and pro-lifers. This covers the majority of Americans. 98% of the Senate voted for this! Rand Paul said he voted for it because the indefinite detention was part of 2012’s bill not 2013’s. Really? How about demanding that the blatant violation of our Constitutional rights be removed before voting on the bill. That excuse doesn’t hold water with me nor anyone else who believes in the rule of law and our Constitution.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gun Deaths Shaped by Race in America

Gun deaths are shaped by race in America. Whites are far more likely to shoot themselves, and African Americans are far more likely to be shot by someone else.

The statistical difference is dramatic, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A white person is five times as likely to commit suicide with a gun as to be shot with a gun; for each African American who uses a gun to commit suicide, five are killed by other people with guns.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Is There Any Way to Get the Impostor Out of the WH?

Without the usual commentary about Barry Soetoro aka Obama and what he’s done and is doing to this country, is there any way to get him out of the White House?

There has been a cry to impeach Soetoro for years by well intentioned, patriotic Americans who don’t understand the issue of ‘natural born citizen’ and why Soetoro cannot be impeached. I’m not going to rehash it here because I’ve covered it in several columns already.[1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]

You cannot impeach a usurper because as a candidate who had no legal right to be on the ballot, no one had the right to vote for him. Willard Romney won the election in November 2012, because Soetoro wasn’t an eligible candidate. An impeachment would serve the shadow government quite well because every bill he signed into “law” would remain as legitimate, as would the unlawful confirmations of two U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Sotomayer and Kagan. Stop all the petitions to impeach Soetoro. It would set one of the worst precedents in our history because it would open the door for more impostors to lie and cheat their way into the White House.

All of the links at the bottom of this column cover the various court cases and efforts to remove the usurper.

Van Orion at Liberty Legal Foundation has been slapped down by cowards on the bench repeatedly despite being on solid legal ground:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Leftists in Arizona Trying to Recall Sheriff Arpaio

My friend, we are in trouble.

I spent my entire life fighting for what is right and the rule of law. I have fought against Mexican Drug Cartels who have threatened my life and my family. I have fought against a corrupt Department of Justice who is more interested in scoring political points than enforcing the law. I have fought against President Obama who doesn’t have the first clue on how to secure our borders or protect our citizens.

Today, it feels like I’m fighting them all at the same time and more.

And while I will never give up the fight for justice and to protect American citizens… I can’t continue to fight without your immediate help.

So before you read any further, I hope you will click on this link I asked my staff to give me and make a personal gift — a sacrifice — to help me today.

Let me briefly explain a little more:

The fight to recall me in Arizona is gaining steam and I’m afraid if we don’t fight back hard right now… I could lose.

In fact the headline in the local AZ paper just a few days ago read, “Arpaio Recall Off to an Impressive Start.”

That’s because just days ago the group fighting to recall me announced they have gathered over 120,000 signatures to recall me from office.

I can’t begin to tell you how bad it will be if we lose…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Life Imitates Rap: Men Arrested for Crimes Committed in Music Video

… five men who made a violent rap video showing themselves robbing someone at gunpoint have been arrested…for repeatedly robbing people at gunpoint.

The video, called “The Joy” and uploaded to YouTube in 2011, shows three men in a Mercedes who are about to commit a robbery; two men, wearing ski masks get out and rob another man at gunpoint in a building hallway, then getting back in the car and speed off. The video’s based on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s song of the same name, it’s artistically shot and has racked up over 2,000 likes. But it looks like the stars took method-acting to the next level—cops say all three stars and two other men involved in the video’s making have committed a number of armed robberies in the Bronx and Westchester County. And they used the exact same Mercedes in the video as their getaway car, which probably cut down on those production costs.

Taijay Todd, who played one of the gunmen, pleaded guilty last month, and two more men involved, Dwayne Barrett and Jermaine Dore, were convicted on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]

Living in Obama’s Mad House

Rush caught a lot of heat recently when he said he was “ashamed” of America, but I think a lot of us are ashamed of a nation being run by people of low-to-no character that we elected to office. We are ashamed of ourselves for being duped by some Republicans who are more closely aligned with Democrats, of a Republican Party that seems hapless and unable to unite around its values with a strong message of fiscal prudence, strong defense, and a host of other issues upon which we generally agree.

The United States used to feel like a rational place where, even when we had differences, they would be negotiated, compromises would be made, and our general welfare would be the guiding principle. We used to have cause to believe that the Constitution would determine our governance, but after four years without a budget and government still funded by “continuing resolutions”, there is cause to believe otherwise.

We used to have confidence that the Supreme Court would interpret that Constitution in ways that even the average citizen would if they took the time to read it. Obamacare blew that up. Declaring it a “tax” and ignoring its totally unconstitutional mandate to purchase insurance or be fined if you do not, the Court left the door open for worse mischief.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Night Falls on Civilization

Forget the World’s Fair, we now have a new way to celebrate human accomplishment. Instead of seeing a vision of the future, we turn off the lights and sit in the dark for an hour.

Earth Hour shows how far we have come from celebrating human accomplishment to celebrating the lack of accomplishment as an accomplishment. For all the pretense of activism, environmentalism celebrates inaction. Don’t build, don’t create and don’t do — are its mandates. Turn off the lights and feel good about how much you aren’t doing right now.

Environmentalism has degenerated into a conviction that all human activity is destructive because the species of man is the greatest threat to the planet and all life on it. Each death, each act of undoing and unmaking, each darkness that is brought about by the cessation of humanity becomes a profoundly environmentalist activity.

Kill yourself and save the planet. Put out the lights, tear down the city and let the earth revert to some imaginary primeval paradise free of all pollution; whether it is the carbon breath of men, dogs and cows or the light pollution of their cities.

Embrace the darkness.

[Comment: Highly recommended reading.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Administration: Warrantless GPS Tracking Needed to Fight Terrorism

The Obama administration argued before a federal appeals court on Tuesday that law enforcement must regain the ability to use GPS tracking devices without a warrant, which it says is necessary to continue the fight against terrorism. The use of GPS devices in warrantless snooping has been illegal since January 2012, when the Supreme Court ruled that vehicles are private property protected by the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. If the Obama administration is successful on its appeal however, GPS devices will be fair game for police nationwide.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Predictions of the End of Posse Comitatus Now a Reality, Say Experts

During a senate hearing, titled, “The Future of Drones in America: Law Enforcement and Privacy Considerations,” held on Wednesday, legal experts told lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee that within the next ten years thousands of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, will be used to gather information from civilians by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Legal experts who testified, including Amie Stepanovich, director of the Domestic Surveillance Project, Electronic Privacy Information Center, claimed that new privacy laws are required to protect Americans from public and private use of UAVs.

Drone construction and implementation is considered a “growth industry” in the U.S. with research continuing on production of a “stealth drone.” Unmanned aerial vehicles will be programmed to monitor crops, national parks, animal preserves and to assist police SWAT teams. As a result, federal and state privacy laws have been rendered anachronistic by advances in drone technology, experts said at the Senate hearing.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Profiler Analyzes Obama: Picture of ‘Martial Law’ Alarms Forensic Profiler

Comments described as ‘potential major warning’ of Obama’s intent

A forensic profiler who worked on the disappearance of Natalie Holloway and the double-murder case against O.J. Simpson says he is becoming alarmed by some of the references President Obama is using.

Andrew G. Hodges, M.D., who wrote “The Obama Confession: Secret Fear, Secret Fury,” previously said Obama’s statement “I am not a dictator” actually meant, “I am the dictator president.”[url]

Hodges also concluded Obama unconsciously confessed to stealing the 2012 election.[url]

On Hodges’ website, Steven A. Egger, associate professor of criminology at the University of Houston, Clear Lake, has written that Hodges’ technique is “becoming the cutting edge of forensic science.”…

But Hodges noted objective actions that fit the pattern, such as the government’s purchase of 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition, the estimated 145,000 federal agents with firearm- carry authority and the 65,000 agents for the Department of Homeland Security alone.

Then, he said, there’s the report that a Minnesota company was selling to the federal government cutout targets “designed to ‘desensitize police’ to ‘nontraditional threat targets.”

The targets included pregnant women, children, older people and other civilians in neighborhood settings — all holding guns. The company reported law enforcement designed and ordered the targets.

In your wildest imagination, who in law enforcement needs desensitization to such targets?

Hodges noted that even activists on the left have expressed concern. Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the left-wing Code Pink, in a recent WABC radio interview with host Aaron Klein, called the potential abuse by the Obama administration’s huge domestic police power “extremely troubling.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Satanic-Looking Obama Has Many Questioning Eerie Resemblance in History Channel Broadcast

Why does Satan look suspiciously like President Barack Obama in the History Channel’s hit series The Bible?

That’s the question on many viewers’ lips after Sunday evening’s episode of the popular show featured a devil-playing actor with an uncanny resemblance to the 44th POTUS.

[Comment: Uncanny resemblance is an understatement. The actor playing satan must be obama’s doppelganger. Just picture obama playing the role of a sith-lord — that’s what the actor looks like. See the article for a picture.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Science Fiction Comes Alive as Researchers Grow Organs in Lab

Inside a warren of rooms buried in the basement of Gregorio Marañón hospital here, Dr. Aviles and his team are at the sharpest edge of the bioengineering revolution that has turned the science-fiction dream of building replacement parts for the human body into a reality.

Since a laboratory in North Carolina made a bladder in 1996, scientists have built increasingly more complex organs. There have been five windpipe replacements so far. A London researcher, Alex Seifalian, has transplanted lab-grown tear ducts and an artery into patients. He has made an artificial nose he expects to transplant later this year in a man who lost his nose to skin cancer.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Silent Conquest: A Tale of Sharia and Western Self-Censorship

At yesterday’s debut showing of Silent Conquest: The End of Freedom of Expression in the West at The Heritage Foundation, one of the most shocking moments was a comment by Lars Hedegaard, a Danish historian and chairman of the Danish Free Press Society.

Hedegaard was asked: Could the screening of this movie and the free intellectual discussion of the advance of Islamic Sharia law in the West have taken place at a European—say British—think tank? “No, I don’t think so” was his chilling answer.

The subjects of Islam and Sharia have simply become taboo in many European countries. Free speech advocates, among them moderate Muslim voices, are deeply concerned.

As shown in Silent Conquest, throughout Europe, in Canada, and even in the United States, judicial systems in countries with large Muslim minorities are under pressure to adopt Sharia free speech restrictions. As a result, in many places, including Denmark, it is now a crime to say anything negative about Islam or the prophet Mohammed, regardless of whether such statements are factual or not. The concept that even offensive speech is protected—so fundamental to the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment—is collapsing…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

So it Begins: DARPA Sets Out to Make Computers That Can Teach Themselves

The Pentagon’s blue-sky research agency is readying a nearly four-year project to boost artificial intelligence systems by building machines that can teach themselves — while making it easier for ordinary schlubs like us to build them, too. When Darpa talks about artificial intelligence, it’s not talking about modeling computers after the human brain. That path fell out of favor among computer scientists years ago as a means of creating artificial intelligence; we’d have to understand our own brains first before building a working artificial version of one. But the agency thinks we can build machines that learn and evolve, using algorithms — “probabilistic programming” — to parse through vast amounts of data and select the best of it. After that, the machine learns to repeat the process and do it better.

[Comment: DARPA’s goal is military applications, like self determining robots. What a great idea — what could possibly be wrong?]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Beaver Boom Benefits German Rivers

Beavers, long believed to be under threat of extinction, are making a comeback in Germany. The dam-building critters are now even a common sight in big cities such as Frankfurt and Berlin, said German conservationists over the weekend.

Beavers are back — and their numbers are growing fast, not just in the countryside. International environmentalist organisation WWF estimates there are now up to 21,000 of the once-threatened rodents in the country.

“The population development is positive, especially as (beavers) had almost died out,” said Roland Gramling from WWF.

The flat-tailed animals, which can grow up to 130 centimetres in length and weigh up to 30 kilograms, had been under threat from urban development and pollution, but now appear to be making themselves at home in urban areas.

Gnawed trees on the banks of the Nidda River in the northern suburbs of Frankfurt are testimony to a growing community of urban beavers, said German conservationists.

“A few weeks ago we held the city’s first beaver watch (in Frankfurt),” said biologist Mark Harthun of conservationist group Nabu. The mammals, which are native to Germany, have also been spotted in Spandau on the outskirts of Berlin.

The beaver boom is a welcome development, said Harthun, as their presence encourages the growth of other species along Germany’s riverbanks. “Beavers pave the way for the rehabilitation of our rivers,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Hackers Wanted to Man Front Line in Cyber War

Germany’s intelligence service is taking the escalating cyber threat increasingly seriously and now hopes to entice a horde of hackers to defend against foreign IT attacks, it emerged on Sunday.

Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) is planning to set up a new department exclusively dedicated to fending off the growing number of cyber attacks on government agencies and industry, wrote Der Spiegel magazine, citing government sources.

The agency is now frantically searching for up to 130 new employees to man the cyber defence station. The BND had hoped to win over hackers and anti-virus experts with high salaries, but recruitment is proving difficult, and they are now scouring the country’s universities for suitable candidates.

The move is in response to a sharp escalation in cyber warfare, also a growing concern in the US. In recent months German intelligence services recorded up to five attacks a day on government authorities alone, BND head Gerhard Schindler recently told MPs, said the magazine.

Schindler warned politicians the threat from the attacks, thought mainly to originate in China, was very real. The government is concerned that without adequate defence systems, foreign hackers would be in a position to paralyse industry, infrastructure, communications and government processes.

Although the attackers had so far only accessed data, Schindler warned that the stolen information could be used as the basis of future sabotage attacks against arms manufacturers, telecommunications companies and government and military agencies.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Rome Mayor Says PDL Paid Clean-Up, Metro for Demonstrators

(AGI) Rome, Mar 23 — Gianni Alemanno stated that the PDL paid from their own pockets for the clean-up of Piazza del Popolo in Rome after the demonstrations with Silvio Berlusconi, and also for a free metro service for the participants. Rome’s mayor wrote on Twitter, “The PDL demonstration today cost nothing, the party paid for the metro and shuttle buses and the special services required.” .

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

Italy: Berlusconi Calls for Immediate Vote if PD Leader Fails

(AGI) — Rome, Mar 23 — Silvio Berlusconi has called for an immediate election if the leader of the centre-left PD party, Pier Luigi Bersani, fails to form a new government. Talking at a demonstration in his support in the centre of Rome, Berlusconi said: “If Bersani fails we should have another vote at once and let the Italians have their say, we are absolutely ready.” The former premier continued: “Bersani is making the same mistake Monti has made: he refuses to form an alliance with us because the PD still hates us. If Bersani continues with his absurd attempt to form a government that is not backed by a majority, he should know that our opposition will be very hard, both in parliament and on the streets.” .

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

Norway: Snow and the City: Jumping on Oslo’s Metro for a Cross-Country Adventure

You can find galleries, museums, curious historical buildings and different food in every European capital — but in how many can you go skiing?

I’m not talking about taking a two-hour coach trip to reach the slopes — I mean carrying your skis on the metro, riding it to the terminus, then skiing off into the forest. Because that’s exactly what you can do in Oslo.

This is cross-country skiing, which means gliding through beautiful pine forests and crossing frozen lakes. And it’s not a boring alternative to the exhilaration of downhill skiing or the preserve of old squares.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Foreign Private Patients Pay Tens of Thousands of Pounds for Livers Donated to the Nhsking’s College NHS Foundation Trust Carried Out 19 Operations in 2 Years

Livers donated to the NHS have been given to fee paying patients, prepared to pay tens of thousands of pounds, it has today been revealed.

Surgeons at King’s College NHS Foundation Trust have carried out 19 of the operations in the past two year on patients from Greece, Cyprus, Kuwait, Libya and Dubai.

It is believed the trust has been paid around £1m for the procedures.

The practice of transplanting organs into fee-paying non-EU patients — so called group two patients — is not illegal.

But an investigation into the process, commissioned by the Government four years ago, had recommended it should be banned.

There are currently 550 NHS patients awaiting a life saving transplant.

King’s College said that the organs were only given to the overseas patients after they had been turned down for NHS and EU — or group one — patients.

A spokesman said: ‘At King’s we comply with the rules and regulations relating to liver transplant surgery and the allocation of organs, This is something we have always done and will continue to do.’

Entitlement to a donated organ is governed by criteria set out by the Department of Health.

The Directions place patients into two categories — Group 1, UK and EU nationals, and Group 2, other overseas patients.

Group 1 patients take priority, and it is only after the organ has been declined by this group that it is offered to group 2.

But Professor Derek Manas, a consultant transplant surgeon at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and also a member of the liver advisory panel said the private transplants were wrong, the Sunday Times reports…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

How Did Ambassador Stevens Die?

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

According to a CBS News/AP story, posted on the Internet (September 12, 2012, 10:37 AM), US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens died of “severe asphyxia,” sometimes referred to as smoke inhalation. It was reported to the media by a Libyan doctor, but was not an official autopsy report. In spite of this unofficial report, most Americans believe the ambassador was murdered.

To date, no official cause of death has been released. The results of an autopsy done on Stevens’ body after it was returned to the United States, has not been made public. In spite of that, rumors still persist that Stevens was tortured and raped before and after his death.

Grim photos of Stevens after the terrorist attack at the Benghazi mission are posted on the Internet. Most of them seem to have been taken with cell phone cameras. It is difficult to determine from this photographic evidence what happened to Stevens. Severe asphyxia is not readily photographed.

If we look at four of these photographs with a critical eye, we notice some unusual details that cause us to question the official explanation. The four photos at issue are labeled thusly:…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

US Unblocks $500m for Palestinians

State Department spokeswoman Nuland says aid money frozen by Congress for months freed up as PA faces worst economic crisis in years

The United States has quietly unblocked almost $500 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority which had been frozen by Congress for months, a top US official said Friday.

The news that the funds had finally been freed up came after US President Barack Obama met top Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a landmark visit to Israel and the West Bank earlier this week.

“To date, we have moved $295.7 million in fiscal year 2012 money… and $200 million in fiscal year 2013 assistance,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

The Obama administration also notified Congress in late February that it was seeking a further $200 million to fund US Agency for International Development (USAID) programs for the Palestinians, she said.

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

Bolton: Iran Planning ‘Whole Arsenal’ of Nukes

President Obama went to great lengths to convince Americans and Israelis that we stand should-to-shoulder with Israel but the private talks were just another round of demands for Israeli concessions, according to former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. “This is a trip that’s very rare in the sense that the public opportunities that the president has are about as divorced from the real substance of the private conversations as you can imagine,” Bolton told WND. “

Publicly, there’s no doubt that the president wanted the photo opportunities and the appearance of smoothing over the difficulties that he’s had in his personal relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu and also trying to smooth over some of the difficulties in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Former CAIR Leader Elected to Head Syrian Rebels

Muslim Brotherhood backs U.S. citizen who worked for American group

Heavily influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood, Syrian rebels opposing President Bashar al-Assad have elected as the head of their interim government a former leader of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Texas.

A U.S. citizen, Ghassan Hitto served as vice-president for the Dallas-Fort Worth branch of CAIR, according to The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report. CAIR, the Justice Department discovered, was founded in Washington, D.C., in 1993 as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S.

CAIR touts itself as Muslim civil rights group, but federal prosecutors in 2007 named CAIR an unindicted co-conspirator in a plot to fund Hamas, and more than a dozen CAIR leaders have been charged or convicted of terrorism-related crimes.

Arabic-language analyst Walid Shoebat noted the election of Hitto took place in Turkey, the center of the old Ottoman Empire.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Syria Chemical Weapons: Finger Pointed at Jihadists

The military’s version of events is that the home-made rocket was fired at a military checkpoint situated at the entrance to the town. The immediate effects were to induce vomiting, fainting , suffocation and seizures among those in the immediate area.

A second source — a medic at the local civilian hospital — said that he personally witnessed Syrian army helping those wounded and dealing with fatalities at the scene. That Syrian soldiers were among the reported 26 deaths has not been disputed by either side.

The military source who spoke to Channel 4 News confirmed that artillery reports from the Syrian Army suggest a small rocket was fired from the vicinity of Al-Bab, a district close to Aleppo that is controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra — a jihadist group said to be linked with al-Qaeda and deemed a “terrorist organisation” by the US.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Twitter is for Clowns: Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti

Al Arabiya –

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti has criticized the social media website Twitter as a “council of clowns” and a place for those who “unleash unjust, incorrect and wrong tweets.”

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz al-Sheikh made the statements during a speech to Saudi Arabia’s senior religious scholars on Friday, the Saudi-based al-Watan newspaper reported Saturday.

The Grand Mufti argued that most of young people are wasting their time on chatting and using the internet, especially Twitter.

Saudi Arabia has three million Twitter users, more than any country in the Middle East, with a growth rate of 300 percent year-on-year, according to a report by the Social Clinic, a Jeddah-based social media consultancy.

Between 2011 and 2012, the number of Twitter users in the kingdom grew by 3,000 percent. The kingdom accounts for an average 50 million tweets per month most of them written in the Arabic language.

“Saudi Arabia has not been selfish either, with most of the tweets being in Arabic, Saudi Arabia accounts for 30 percent of the global tweets tweeted in Arabic, placing Arabic at the top of the pyramid of the fastest growing languages on Twitter, yes Arabic is the fastest growing language on Twitter,” according to statement published at the consultancy website

The capital Riyadh ranks tenth globally among the cities with most Tweets and is the only Arab city in the top 20 cities, according to the report.

In other social media platforms, with more than 6 million active Facebook users, Saudi Arabia has the highest Facebook user rate in the GCC, according to The Social Clinic.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Pakistani Firm Whose Chemicals Were Used to Kill US Troops Seeks Subsidy for Indiana Plant

A Pakistani fertilizer maker whose chemicals have been used in 80 percent of the roadside bombs that have killed and maimed American troops in Afghanistan is now seeking U.S. taxpayer subsidies in order to open a factory in Indiana.

The request appears to be on hold pending further review, but the situation has stirred outrage in Congress, where some accuse the Pakistani government of halting efforts to clamp down on the bomb-making.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Moscow and Beijing “Open Their Souls” In Oil and Gas Exchange

Contracts for 620 thousand barrels per day of crude oil and exploration in the Barents and Pechora, in exchange for a loan of 2 billion dollars. By the end of the year a contract for the supply of 68 billion cubic meters of gas over 30 years. For the first time, Xi Jinping is accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan.

Moscow (AsiaNews) — “Our souls are open to each other,” said Xi Jinping meeting Putin in his first international trip as president of China. He added that he did not go to Russia “to waste time.” For this reason he has already signed contracts for the supply of oil and gas, as well as funding for exploration for new oil fields in the Arctic, the Barents Sea and the Pechora Sea.

Xi, always smiling, was accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan, an army singer, her first appearance as first lady. This first trip abroad is designed to strengthen the Sino-Russian Alliance as an anti-American front, to reduce U.S. influence in the Far East and the Middle East, but also to find new energy sources for the fastest growing country in the world.

Between yesterday and today Xi hoped for and found a “way out” so that Russia, a major energy producer will support the development of the Chinese giant. There is still no agreement for the supply of 68 billion cubic meters of gas for 30 years, but there are already significant steps forward: the agreements signed yesterday with some Russian companies will pass the oil supply from 15 million tons to 31 million tons (more than 620 thousand barrels per day). In exchange for a loan of 2 billion dollars, China together with Rosneft, will explore three offshore fields in the Barents Sea, Pechora Sea and the Arctic.

Meanwhile, by the end of the year, a contract with Gazprom is being drawn up for the supply of gas over a period of thirty years.

Today Xi will deliver a speech in Moscow, at the State Institute for International Relations. Tomorrow he will travel to Tanzania and then to South Africa, where he will take part in a summit of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries, nations with emerging economies.

China is now Africa’s chief economic partner, supplanting the U.S. and Europe.

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

Central African Republic Rebels Storm Presidential Palace

(AGI) Libreville — Central African Republic rebels announced they have stormed the presidential palace in the capital Bangui.

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

Obama Tolerance Police Accused of Intolerance

The government agency charged with investigating discrimination in the workplace is itself facing a discrimination lawsuit by a worker claiming he was forced to violate his religious beliefs.

Greg Somers, an investigator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has filed a lawsuit over an agency policy requiring employees to investigate and prosecute claims against employers based on allegations of “sexual orientation.”

However, claims of discrimination based on “sexual orientation” have no basis in federal law…

The EEOC then goes on to admit that it has arbitrarily decided to extend classes listed under the law to include individuals engaged in the “gay” lifestyle as well as transgenders.

“The EEOC has held that discrimination against an individual because that person is transgender (also known as gender identity discrimination) is discrimination because of sex and therefore is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” the agency says. “The commission has also found that claims by lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals alleging sex-stereotyping state a sex discrimination claim under Title VII.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Richard Dawkins’ Horrid Devaluation of Human Life

We are seeing a strong push in academic and scientific circles to dehumanize mankind. Of course, this opens the door to bizarre experimentation, eugenics, and the transhumanist project. However, the arguments put forth by the alleged intelligentsia are logically fallacious. Let’s unpack Oxford Zoologist Richard Dawkins assertion that a human fetus is actually less human than a swine by way of analogy to a more basic organism, the pine tree.

When does a pine cone become a pine tree? You might answer it becomes a proper tree when it roots and sprouts up from the ground and that seems fair but no one argues it was not a pine until it took root and sprouted. It was always a pine in immature form. It can only become a mature pine tree. It cannot become an oak or a maple, only a pine. But young or old, it’s always a pine. It’s is not a matter of personal opinion rather scientific reality. When we get down to it, “cone” doesn’t describe what a thing is, in a sense; it describes the stage of growth of that particular thing it is not just a cone rather a “pine cone.”

It’s kind of like asking what is a toddler? Because a toddler isn’t an individual unique organism, like there is a particular kind of being called a toddler. Rather, we use the term toddler as a description for the stage of development of a human being. It is a human being at a young age. A pine cone is pine tree at a certain age. And a fetus is a human being at a certain age. Richard Dawkins statement is absurd but it is demonstrative of the monstrous worldview being promoted in the scientific community. This undergirds the ongoing abortion holocaust in the name of easy sex but we expect it will lead to unimaginable atrocities in the biotech realm as their calloused conscience’s are increasingly emboldened by such sophmoric argumentation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Washington State Weighs 1st Abortion Insurance Mandate in U.S.

The Reproductive Parity Act, as supporters call it, would require insurers in Washington state to also pay for abortions.

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — In 1970, Washington became the first — and remains the only — state in the country to legalize elective abortions by a popular vote.

A generation later, and 40 years removed from the landmark United States Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling that extended abortion access nationwide, Washington is once again poised to stand out.

With 21 states having adopted bans or severe restrictions on insurance companies from paying for abortions, Washington is alone in seriously considering legislation mandating the opposite.

The Reproductive Parity Act, as supporters call it, would require insurers in Washington state who cover maternity care — which all insurers must do — to also pay for abortions.

The bill passed the state House earlier this month by a vote of 53-43, though it faces an uncertain future in the Senate. A similar bill in the New York state Assembly has been introduced each session for over a decade but has never received a public hearing.

“This is a core value for Washingtonians,” said Melanie Smith, a lobbyist for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. “We should protect it while we still have it and not leave access to basic health care up to an insurance company.”

The proximate cause of Washington State’s measure is the federal Affordable Care Act. Thanks to language placed in it to assuage anti-abortion congressional Democrats, insurers selling their plans on the state exchanges taking effect next year will have to segregate the premiums they collect for abortion coverage.

In addition to that built-in disincentive to insuring abortion, the law also invites states to enact stricter rules of their own. Thus far, 16 states have followed suit, barring or restricting insurance companies on their exchanges from covering the procedure. Three of those states are joining the five that have barred or limited all insurers from covering abortions since the early 1980’s.

Supporters of Washington state’s proposed abortion insurance mandate are careful to stress that it wouldn’t lead to a dramatic up-tick in abortions or require carriers with a religious bent to cover the procedure. They also note that a pair of federal plans that will be sold on all 50 state exchanges will be barred from covering elective abortions.

“It’s not expanding abortion coverage,” said Democratic Rep. Eileen Cody of West Seattle, the bill’s primary sponsor. “It’s ensuring the rights of women to get what they’re paying for now and to continue their freedom of choice.”

Opponents counter that the measure would require businesses and individuals to pay for abortion coverage they’d rather not have.

“Washington state would be the only state in the country that would force employers to pay for abortion,” said Peggy O’Ban, spokeswoman for Human Life of Washington.

If passed, she said, it would amount to “the first conscience coercion act in American history.”

Its passage, however, is not assured..

Proponents of the measure say they have the votes they need in the state Senate, but it’s not clear that Senate leaders will allow it to get to the floor. It is scheduled to receive a public hearing in the Senate Health Care Committee on April 1.

Ironically, the man bill supporters will likely blame if it fails to get a Senate vote counts himself as a proud backer of the measure.

Sen. Rodney Tom of Medina, a fiscal conservative and social moderate, and one other like-minded Democrat crossed party lines to caucus with Republicans in December, handing a one-vote majority to the GOP. Seizing power for the first time in nearly a decade, elated Senate Republicans reciprocated by installing Tom as Majority Leader.

Last month, Tom addressed about 250 advocates rallying for the measure’s passage on the state Capitol steps..

“I’m down here making sure that my 17-year-old daughter has the kind of protections that we need in Washington state and that all of our kids have those same kinds of protections,” Tom said to cheers.

Moments later, Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat and fellow bill supporter, delivered a not-so-subtle challenge to Tom’s political will.

Washington state “deserves a vote in the state Senate on the Reproductive Parity Act,” Inslee said. “We are going to insist that we are not going to let anybody close the door to democracy in this state.”

Another irony: though the bill has proved to be among the most hotly contested of the session, its broader impact if passed may be less than sweeping.

For one thing, most abortions are paid for out-of-pocket. According to the Guttmacher Institute, only 12 percent of abortions nationwide are paid for by private insurers, with 20 percent footed by Medicaid.

For another, because most abortions cost less than a live birth — the procedure typically runs about $500, though late-term abortions are far more expensive — insurers may be disinclined to stop covering them.

At present, all major insurers in Washington state cover abortions, and Cody, the bill’s sponsor, said she knows of no carrier with plans to change. Insurers new to Washington state on its exchange may be tempted to adopt different policies, she said.

No matter its immediate impact, said Elizabeth Nash, states issues manager with the Guttmacher Institute, the bill’s passage would be a watershed event.

“It would be a model for other states to follow,” she said.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]