Gates of Vienna News Feed 4/12/2013

Nearly 200 Moroccan soccer hooligans were arrested for causing mayhem in Casablanca. The occasion for the youths’ mischief was a match between Casablanca and its traditional rival, Rabat. Not enough security police were present in the area to prevent violence from breaking out.

In other news, about 200 African migrants in two separate boats were intercepted by the Italian coast guard off the coast of Lampedusa.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Diana West, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, JP, Steen, 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: President Anastadies, We Will Ask EU for More Help
» Europe Sounds Alarm Over Italy’s Economic ‘Imbalances’
» Gold Heading for Bear Market Plunges to Lowest Since July 2011
» Greece: US Investors Plan Creation of a Hellenic Hedge Fund
» Italy: Public Debt Down: Revenues Up in February
» Italy: Inflation Halved in Six Months
» U.S. To Press Japan to Refrain From Competitive Devaluation
» Christianity is Losing Ground in America
» Comedian Jonathan Winters Dies at 87
» Enemy to America — Christians and Gun Owners
» Monsanto Wins Patent Battle With Dupont Corporation to Seize Full Rights of GM Seed Patents
» Relentless Liars: The Great Green Edifice is Crumbling
» Report: Many Urban Tap Water Systems Loaded With SSRI Antidepressant Drugs
» The Radical Transformation of America’s Classrooms
» Twist in Dark Matter Tale Hints at Shadow Milky Way
» Weiner’s “Sexting” Revelations Miss the Real Juicy Stuff: Huma’s MB Connections
» Muslims Honour Two FP Journalists
Europe and the EU
» Airplanes Can be Hijacked Using an Android Smartphone
» Bonino Heads Polls for Next Italian President
» Does Welfare Have Limits?
» France: Parisian Councillor Calls for ‘Rue Margaret Thatcher’
» Gaul Warriors Unearthed at 2,300-Year-Old Site
» Hacking an Airplane With Only an Android Phone
» Ireland: James Joyce and the Irish Central Bank: A Curious Relationship
» Ireland’s Central Bank Misquotes James Joyce on Limited Edition Coin
» Italy: Renzi Takes Shot at PD Over ‘Grand Elector’ Snub
» Italy: Renzi Calls for General Election as Soon as Possible
» Italy: Bersani Denies PD Rift, Presidential Ambitions
» Italy: Berlusconi Party Edges Ahead of Centre-Left PD
» Italy: Matteo Renzi Calls Unita Attack ‘Unacceptable Abuse’
» Italy: ‘Bossi Files Papers to Launch New Party’
» Madrid’s Left Shuns Thatcher Street Idea
» Man, 62, Arrested Over the Attempted Kidnap of a British Girl, 3, Who ‘Was Lured Away From Her Father in a Shop in Lanzarote’
» Sweden Allows Adhan, Muslims Happy
» The Crisis of Islam
» UK: BBC Chief Refuses to Ban Margaret Thatcher Death Song
» UK: Fears of Muslim Tensions in High Security Prison
» UK: In Full: Where There Are Elections on 2 May 2013
» UK: Margaret Thatcher Listened to Voters — Now It’s Nigel Farage Who Hears Their Despair
» UK: Parents and Staff ‘Disgusted’ By Thatcher ‘Death Party’ Teacher
» UK: Play Margaret Thatcher Death Song, Her Supporters Tell BBC
» UK: The Way the Council Investigates Vote Fraud Allegations [Tower Hamlets]
» UK: The Latest Food Cop Solution to Obesity: Communism?
» Wagner’s Dark Shadow: Can We Separate the Man From His Works?
» Croatia: First European Elections on Sunday, Amid Pessimism
» Thousands of Macedonians Welcome Released War Crimes Convict
North Africa
» Death Toll Rises to 9 in Egypt Sectarian Clashes
» Egypt: Parliament Gives Green Light to Use of Religious Slogans During Election Campaign
» Egypt: Popular TV Comic Faces New Probe for ‘Spreading Atheism’
» Islamists Storm Tunisian School After it Bars Veiled Student
» Libya: Sean Smith’s Mom: Obama Didn’t Follow-Up on Personal Promise; Asks Congress: ‘Please, Please Help Me Find Out Who is Responsible’
» Morocco Tightens Adoption Rules, Spanish Families Hit Hard
» Nearly 200 Moroccan Soccer Hooligans Arrested After Rampage in Casablanca
» Tunisia, Algeria Crack Down on Terrorists
» Tunisia: Killed Salafite Youth, Tension in Hergla
Israel and the Palestinians
» Christians in Territories Halved Since 2000
» Former Al Jazeera Producer “Humanizes” Palestinians
» Palestinian PM Offers Resignation in Bitter Dispute With Abbas
Middle East
» Syria Calls on UN to List Al-Nusra Front as Terrorist
» Syria: Libya and Iraq Biggest Arms Traffickers to Rebels
» Where is the National Interest in Arming Syria’s Opposition?
South Asia
» Indian Kashmir: Two Christians Arrested on False Charges of Forced Conversions
» Shades of Benghazi: State Department Changes Story on Afghanistan Blast That Killed Diplomat
» State Department Denies Cover-Up Over Diplomat Killed in Afghanistan
» Students Build Bridges Between Afghanistan, US in Facilitated Dialogue
Far East
» North Korea Reportedly Warns Japan it Would Target Tokyo First
» Papua New Guinea Urged to Halt Witchcraft Violence After Latest ‘Sorcery’ Case
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigeria: FG, Not Us Needs Amnesty — Boko Haram
» Nigeria: Confusion in Ibadan as Soldiers Beat Up Policemen
» Uganda: Sheikh Mubajje Warns on Muslim Land
» Turkish President Warns of Holocaust if Intolerance Continues
» Two Migrant Boats Stopped Off Lampedusa
Culture Wars
» At Evangelical Colleges, A Shifting Attitude Toward Gay Students
» Brutality in the Brave New World
» CA Lawmakers Threaten Boy Scouts With Loss of Tax Exemption
» DC Introduces First Transgender Character in Mainstream Comics
» Elderly Christian Florist Faces Thousands in Fines for Refusing to Provide Flowers for Gay ‘Wedding’
» Free Speech and Diversity of Beliefs Unwelcome at Johns Hopkins
» Gay Students Organize Campaign to Kick Out Catholic Priest for Saying Homosexuality, Abortion Sinful
» Homosexual Marriage Advocate Takes Things to a New Low
» Networks Give Rutgers Scandal 41 Minutes, Gosnell Abortion Horrors 0
» UK: Richard Dawkins Has Lost: Meet the New New Atheists

Cyprus: President Anastadies, We Will Ask EU for More Help

He has already discussed additional aid with Rehn

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA — Cyprus will ask the EU for ‘more help’, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday. The president said he had already discussed the issue with Olli Rehn, European commissioner for economic affairs, just as eurozone finance ministers are meeting in Dublin for the Ecofin summit.

‘It has been done’, Ansastasiades told reporters. ‘We have taken these contacts as we are trying to do our best under the current circumstances’ to reach the objectives set for the crisis-hit country, he noted.

In letters sent to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, said Anastasiades, ‘we stressed the need for a change in EU policies towards Cyprus by granting more aid and taking into consideration the difficulties we will have to face due to the economic crisis and the measures that have been imposed’.

The president did not provide further details

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Europe Sounds Alarm Over Italy’s Economic ‘Imbalances’

Employers demand parties form govt ‘sooner than at once’

(By Paul Virgo) (see related stories on govt’s economic blueprint and political situation) (ANSA) — Brussels, April 10 — The European Commission (EC) said that there were major imbalances in the recession-hit Italian economy that require urgent attention in a report on Wednesday. “Italy is experiencing macroeconomic imbalances, which require monitoring and decisive policy action,” the EC said in a report on 13 European Union states whose economies are considered in need of “in-depth reviews”. The European Union’s executive suggested that if these issues were not tackled there was a risk the eurozone’s debt crisis could flare up again.

“In particular, macroeconomic developments in the areas of export performance and the underlying loss of competitiveness as well as high public indebtedness in an environment of subdued growth deserve continued attention in order to reduce the risk of adverse effects on the functioning of the Italian economy and of the Economic and Monetary Union”.

The warning came on the day that outgoing Premier Mario Monti’s cabinet approved its economic blueprint for 2013, the DEF. According to this, Italy’s deficit for 2013 should be 2.9% of gross domestic product (GDP), below the 3% threshold allowed by the European Union, which means Italy should emerge from the procedure it is under for excessive deficit.

It also said that Italy’s huge public debt is expected to climb to 130.4% of GDP this year.

Monti said that those forecasts showed that austerity measures introduced by his emergency government of unelected technocrats since it came to power in November 2012 had restored health to the public finances.

But those measures have also deepened Italy’s longest recession in 20 years, taking unemployment up to record levels of close to three million.

On Tuesday Istat released data that showed the recession, which is forecast to continue until the second half of this year, has had a massive impact on Italian’s purchasing power, consumer spending and saving rates.

There were more negative figures on Wednesday, when the national statistics agency said industrial production fell 3.8% in February compared to the same month in 2012, the 18th consecutive drop in the year-on-year seasonally adjusted data.

It added that output in February was 0.8% lower than in January, effectively wiping out the 1% rise in the month-on-month data that was registered in January with respect to December.

Istat said car production was hit particularly badly, falling 16.6% in comparison with February 2012.

At about the same time Istat was releasing that data, Giorgio Squinzi, the president of Italy’s powerful industrial employers’ confederation Confindustria, urged the political parties to overcome their differences and form a government to tackle the country’s economic ailments. “We’ve run out of time,” Squinzi said regarding the political deadlock that has followed February’s inconclusive general election. “We don’t need a government at once, we need it even sooner than that”.

Squinzi said the stalemate over the last 45 days had cost Italy 1% of its annual gross domestic product. “That is 1.6 trillion euros,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Gold Heading for Bear Market Plunges to Lowest Since July 2011

Gold tumbled to the lowest price since July 2011, heading for a bear market, on signs that investors are favoring the dollar and equities as the global economy recovers. Silver dropped more than 5 percent.

The dollar rose as much as 0.5 percent against the euro today, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of shares reached a record yesterday. Cyprus may sell gold holdings to cover possible losses from emergency loans.

Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the top exchange-traded fund backed by bullion, reached 1,181.4 metric tons yesterday, the lowest in almost three years. Through yesterday, prices slumped 6.6 percent in 2013 as global economies improved. Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s March meeting released April 10 showed several members were in favor of pulling back on its $85 billion monthly debt-buying program this year. The metal climbed for 12 straight years through 2012 partly as central banks expanded their balance sheets.

“All of the traditionally supportive reasons for buying gold don’t seem to work right now,” Frank Cholly, a senior commodity broker at RJO Futures in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The argument for gold as a safe haven or protection against inflation just isn’t there. We have a risk-on market, with a lot of money pouring into equities. It doesn’t look too good for gold.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece: US Investors Plan Creation of a Hellenic Hedge Fund

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 12 — International investors are increasingly convinced Greece is about to emerge from its crisis and are eager to invest in the Greek success story, which would provide the local economy with some desperately needed capital when implemented, as daily Kathimerini reports. Investor Daniel Loeb’s global fund management company Third Point LLC is proposing to its members the creation of hedge fund exclusively for Greece under the name Third Point Hellenic Recovery Fund, which will invest in local firms under restructuring and in Greek assets. Loeb has earned billions of euros through his purchase of Greek bonds following the assurance of the eurozone in September 2012 that it would not allow Greece to crumble.

Bloomberg reported yesterday that in his quarterly letter to Third Point shareholders, Loeb stressed that he is convinced Greece will stage a dynamic recovery and that he intends to participate in the rebound both as a bondholder and through private equity investments. Among the investments it has examined is gaming company OPAP. Third Point has reaped yields of 21% from Greek bonds whose price has risen considerably in the last six months, and joins US firms including Oaktree Capital Group LLC and Fortress Investment Group LLC in searching for bargains in Greek assets.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Public Debt Down: Revenues Up in February

Debt down 5.2 bn to 2,017.6 bn, tax take up 2.3% to 27 bn

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Italy’s public debt fell 5.2 billion euros in February to 2,017.6 billion, the Bank of Italy said Friday.

Tax revenue rose 2.3% to 27 billion, it said.

Italy’s public debt is currently projected to rise to 130.4% of GDP this year and then gradually fall to 129% in 2014 and 125.5% in 2015, about the level of recent years.

The debt is the second-highest in the eurozone after Greece’s.

The Bank of Italy said Rome paid 0.7 billion euros into eurozone stability funds in February, bringing its total outlay, both bilaterally for troubled partners and overall into the European Stability Mechanism bailout fund, to 43.7 billion.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Inflation Halved in Six Months

Back to September 2010

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Italy’s inflation rate has halved in the last six months from 3.2% in September to 1.6% in March, Istat said Friday.

A rate of 1.6% was last recorded in September 2010, the statistics agency added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

U.S. To Press Japan to Refrain From Competitive Devaluation

The U.S. Treasury said it will press Japan to refrain from competitive devaluation and from targeting its exchange rate for competitive purposes.

“We will continue to press Japan to adhere to the commitments agreed to in the G-7 and G-20, to remain oriented towards meeting respective domestic objectives using domestic instruments and to refrain from competitive devaluation and targeting its exchange rate for competitive purposes,” the Treasury said in its semi-annual currency report to Congress released in Washington today.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Christianity is Losing Ground in America

It isn’t much of a mystery why we have a rapidly-increasing number of people who hold antipathy for religion, Christianity in particular; it was part of the design of the political left to de-emphasize God and elevate the state. Playing to the natural self-seeking, baser will of human beings, they accomplished this rather successfully, particularly among certain demographics. Consequently, many younger people in the West eschew religion (at least in the traditional sense).

As we have also observed, factions within the Church have been corrupted by aspects of Social Justice, consequently, they perceive other church bodies as being their enemies. In addition to this, misplaced feelings of sympathy and solidarity have been cultivated among Americans for Islamists, which serves to further alienate people from Christianity, and of course, Judaism.

A highly insightful column by Craig Groeschel addresses some of the reasons that Christianity is losing ground in America. In general, these have to do with churches and Christians in general failing to adapt to more mundane but significant changes in our culture, of being timid, pretentious, or lukewarm in their faith.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Comedian Jonathan Winters Dies at 87

Jonathan Winters, the rubber-faced comedian whose unscripted flights of fancy inspired a generation of improvisational comics, and who kept television audiences in stitches with Main Street characters like Maude Frickert, a sweet-seeming grandmother with a barbed tongue and a roving eye, died on Thursday. He was 87.

A family friend, Joe Petro III, said he died Thursday evening at his home in Montecito, Calif., The Associated Press reported.

[Return to headlines]

Enemy to America — Christians and Gun Owners

To this day Obama has been campaigning and flooding schools with the propaganda that our 2nd amendment is dangerous and taken out of context. Obama is yapping everywhere that gun owners are dangerous and controls are necessary. Gun control bills will support kiddies and schools, not evil gun owners. They seem to like violence and don’t see the bigger picture. Bla bla and bla.

– From Connecticut on, Obama and his progressive whores saw the opportunity to hide behind the kiddies, manipulate and ‘shame attack’ the Representatives and Senators into 2nd amendment — crushing legislation. We saw Feinstein rise up from her cauldron and demand hundreds of gun types to be banned along with assault weapons and large magazines.

Endless controlling legislation has been thrown around, debated and threatened. All, with Obama’s lead hiding behind the shirttails of the kiddies and few ‘acting’ parents who stand with Obama. All who stand against Obama and dare a filibuster don’t want child safety you know.

Now we see Harry Reid ready to throw another nightmare bill out for a vote (we shall see), which promises a 5-year prison sentence if your gun is lost or stolen and you don’t report it within 24 hours to the police or Holder…

This week I heard from several sources that a U.S. army officer identified through an email sent to his subordinates that the American Family Association and Family Research Council were ‘domestic hate groups.’ Why, because they opposed homosexuality. Officers were warned to watch soldiers who are supporters of any of these groups.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Monsanto Wins Patent Battle With Dupont Corporation to Seize Full Rights of GM Seed Patents

(NaturalNews) Apparently discontent with its more than $13.5 billion-plus in annual sales, genetic modification kingpin Monsanto has been trying for the past four-or-so years to extract billions more dollars from rival DuPont for alleged patent infringements involving its genetically-modified (GM) Roundup-Ready soybean technology. And the agri-giant has apparently achieved this goal, having recently settled its longstanding feud with DuPont in exchange for a massive $1.75 billion royalty payout to be delivered over the course of the next 10 years, according to reports…

For years, DuPont has alleged that Monsanto is a threat to innovation, as the biotechnology bully dominates large and growing segments of industrialized agriculture. And DuPont has been correct in this assessment, which became the crux of its legal argument against Monsanto. But now that the two companies have agreed to partner together, the world faces a much larger threat in the form of a massive GMO cartel controlled by Monsanto.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Relentless Liars: The Great Green Edifice is Crumbling

Greens are far less interested in the environment than they are in imposing restrictions on the use of energy and the general welfare of humanity. It is pure fascism and always was.

As far as the Sierra Club and comparable multi-million dollar environmental organizations are concerned, when they say that want to “prevent future impacts of climate change” they are either delusional, thinking that anything can be done to prevent hurricanes, blizzards, and other aspects of the weather or they are talking about imposing a carbon tax on the emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases. Congress has already rejected that.

And it’s not just the Sierra Club. The same day their invitation arrived, Friends of the Earth emailed to say “The Pacific Northwest is currently engulfed in a struggle over the dirty future of coal and coal exports in the U.S. If the biggest coal companies in the world have their way, we could have 140 million tons of coal barreling through Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon each year. That’s up to 60 trains per day in some of our neighborhoods and more than 1,000 ships a year through our sensitive waterways!” Can you say fear-mongering? Lies about coal? And a total ignorance of the value to the economy of its use and export?


Larry Bell, a columnist for Forbes magazine, recently urged the U.S. to cease funding the IPCC along with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “While the amount we give to the UNFCC and IPCC may seem like a tiny pittance in the realm of government spending largess, it’s important to realize that (the) true costs of that folly amount to countless billions in disastrous policy and regulatory impact.“ Together they have received a total average of $10.25 million annually, set to increase in the FY 13 budget request to $13 million. They are a total waste of money, representing the greatest hoax of the modern era and the redistribution of our wealth.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Report: Many Urban Tap Water Systems Loaded With SSRI Antidepressant Drugs

(NaturalNews) As you may recall, the Associated Press (AP) released the results of a groundbreaking investigation it conducted back in 2008 concerning the presence of pharmaceutical drugs in the water supply. In this report, it was revealed that at least 41 million Americans are exposed daily to tap water containing trace amounts of antibiotics, sleeping pills, and even sex hormones. Now, a new report by brings to light the presence of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, in the water supply, and the genetic havoc they may potentially be wreaking on human health…

“There’s a good chance that if you live in an urban area, your tap water is laced with tiny amounts of antidepressants (mostly SSRIs like Prozac and Effexor), benzodiazepines (like Klonopin, used to reduce symptoms of substance withdrawal) and anti-convulsants (like Topomax, used to treat addiction to alcohol, nicotine, food and even cocaine and crystal meth),” writes Matt Harvey. “Whether or not this psychoactive waste has any effect on the human nervous system remains unclear, but when such pharmaceuticals are introduced into the ecosystem, the fallout for other species is demonstrable — — and potentially dire.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Radical Transformation of America’s Classrooms

Liberal education has been very successful in this country because nobody challenged the progressive educators and their agenda. We are waking up to the unraveling of our society caused by this liberal education and wondering, what happened. Could it be too late to reverse the damage?

Conservative news outlets are pointing out the obvious — our children have been indoctrinated into socialism for 33-40 years and this indoctrination is finally bearing fruit. We have bred a nation of young, entitled citizens who do not like to work, do not like to read or study anything too involved or complicated that exceeds Twitter’s 140 words, do not take responsibility for their actions, exhibit righteous indignation if their demands are not met, claim racism and hate speech if others disagree with them, and are afraid of their shadows.

Students no longer explore and discuss the history of America even in the History Department of the local college — it has long been replaced by courses that praise and promote sexual, “racial and ethnic differences,” instead of highlighting our common American heritage, what made America great and an exceptional nation that has contributed to the betterment of mankind. Socialist professors admire, teach, and laud the history of non-western cultures as superior to our own culture.


Driving by the local high school, Gar-Field, I noticed on the huge electronic board, IB World School. Having studied U.N. Agenda 21 extensively, my spirits sank. An international baccalaureate world school is another arm of U.N. Agenda 21 indoctrination of our children into “global citizenship, social justice, intercultural understanding and respect,” submission to one-world socialist government, using American taxpayer dollars. Most parents have no idea what IB is. IB programs are devoted to the “radical transformation of America’s classrooms.”

An IB World School is a private or public school that has agreed to offer the IB (International Baccalaureate) program run and coordinated by IBO, a non-profit socialist Swiss Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland, in partnership with UNESCO of the United Nations. As a parent, in order to discover what the secret curriculum is, one has to be an approved IB teacher, with a password that accesses the curriculum. This sounds very similar to the CSCOPE curriculum in Texas which is kept quite unavailable to prying eyes and ears.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Twist in Dark Matter Tale Hints at Shadow Milky Way

THE HUNT for some of the most wanted stuff in the universe took a new twist this week with the first results from a high-profile, space-based dark matter detector. The results are inconclusive, but, if combined with recent theory, they hint at something exciting. Could the universe have a dark side, complete with its own force, a zoo of particles and even a shadow version of the Milky Way?

“There could be a mirror world where interesting things are going on,” says James Bullock of the University of California at Irvine, who has been working on the idea of a “dark sector” for a while. “It means nature is much richer than we would otherwise know,” he says.

The dark sector could help explain why we’ve failed to detect dark matter on Earth so far, but it would also demand a radical shift in our understanding of the stuff.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Weiner’s “Sexting” Revelations Miss the Real Juicy Stuff: Huma’s MB Connections

by Diana West

More than 5,000 words into the New York Times Magazine report on everything ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and his wife, Huma Abedin, want you to know about Weiner’s “sexting” scandal that led him to resign from Congress in 2011, reporter Jonathan Van Meter pauses the story.

Van Meter, a contributing editor at Vogue and New York Magazine, had worked diligently on this New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story — multiple interviews with Weiner and Abedin, both as a couple and separately. On some level, the prurient banality of what he was writing about must have gotten to him.

As he described listening to Weiner discuss the “original behavior” that culminated in the elected official, husband and father-to-be sending a photo of his own torso “wearing gray boxer briefs and an obvious erection” to 45,000 Twitter followers (rather than privately to a 21-year-old college student in Seattle), Van Meter writes: “I startled myself that day when, after two hours of listening while he unburdened himself, I heard these words come out of my mouth: ‘Maybe we should stop there for now.’ Never has an interview felt so much like a therapy session.”

And there were still 3,000 words and a crying outburst (Weiner’s) to go. This last event took place over the “enormous root-beer float” Weiner ordered after dinner, as opposed to his more restrained tearing-up over breakfast. Abedin broke down, too, or so she ‘fessed up to Van Meter, two days after the scandal went public. As a top adviser to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Abedin was en route to Africa when a supportive phone call came in from the White House.

“With tears streaming down her face, she turned to (Clinton staffers) and began talking about some issue that was on the Africa agenda. ‘They just totally went with it and got down to work. There was no attention paid to my tears. And I was like, “Thank you for just responding like that.”‘“

Like Van Meter, maybe we should stop there for now, too. Never has reading the newspaper felt so much like a therapy session. But how little these confessional torrents seem to have to do with genuine healing…

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]

Muslims Honour Two FP Journalists

The Free Press was honoured Thursday night for bridge-building journalism that has helped Manitobans better understand the province’s Muslim community. Free Press diversity reporter Carol Sanders and faith writer Brenda Suderman received the Ansar and Ihsan Awards from the Islamic Social Services Association Inc.

Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association Inc., said at a time when media-bashing is in vogue, it was important to recognize journalists who are making positive contributions. “They are bringing communities together, they are building a more inclusive Manitoba,” she said. Free Press editor Paul Samyn said the recognition from the local Islamic community means a great deal to the newspaper…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Airplanes Can be Hijacked Using an Android Smartphone

An airplane’s flight controls can be hijacked by simply using an Android smartphone, a presentation at a security conference in Amsterdam on Wednesday demonstrated.

Hugo Teso — a security consultant at the German information technology firm n.runs — demonstrated that he could remotely take over an aircraft’s flight controls using an Android smartphone app, a radio transmitter and flight management software he purchased on eBay…

Teso also noted on his website that since this is a “very sensitive study,” he “will not release exploits or vulnerabilities that can be used against aircraft irresponsibly.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bonino Heads Polls for Next Italian President

SWG survey says Radical Party member top with 16% support

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Radical Party heavyweight Emma Bonino has risen to the top as the preferred candidate to fill the position of Italian president, with institutional fixer Gianni Letta close behind, according to the Trieste-based pollster SWG on Friday.

Some 16% of those surveyed, up one point from last week, said that they would like to see Bonino, a former European commissioner, as head of state.

Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s long-time right-hand man Letta came in second place with 8% saying they would choose him.

One percentage point lower, tied at 7%, are Berlusconi, former centre-left premier Romano Prodi and Constitutional lawyer Stefano Rodota’. Some 5% said that outgoing Premier Mario Monti would be their choice and 4% said that the current head of state, Giorgio Napolitano, should stay put.

Napolitano’s seven-year term ends May 15 and he has said that he would not seek re-election.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Does Welfare Have Limits?

by Douglas Murray

Sometimes a thing so terrible occurs that it forces us to notice a reality otherwise unbearable. Such has been the case in Britain in recent days. A man called Mick Philpott, father of 17 children, has been jailed for life for burning six of his children to death in their own home. It appears that, while possibly intending to save them once the fire was started, Philpott lit it because he wished to persuade the local authorities of his need for a more commodious living accommodation to maintain his prodigious and promiscuous lifestyle. In particular, he appeared to wish to continue to produce the children which, thanks to the state of welfare in the UK, he saw as cash-cows to fund his lifestyle.

The precise contortions and confusions of this man’s mind do not concern most people. The ineradicable fact of human brutality is something most people accept and can do little about in others. But the part of the case which has made people think — and caused even the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne to intervene, is that Mr Philpott, his wife, his mistress and their many children did not just live on the state, but were encouraged to live on the state. Not only did the welfare state support the life of Philpott as he produced child after child with no intention of working to support them — it actually established an incentive for these actions. By taking his obligation to provide off his shoulders, disincentivizing him from working and incentivizing him by paying him to have as many children as possible, the welfare state — while hardly encouraging him to kill his children — most certainly did encourage him to live a life of indigence, irresponsibility and moral squalor…

[Return to headlines]

France: Parisian Councillor Calls for ‘Rue Margaret Thatcher’

A Conservative councillor in Paris has proposed that the French capital name one of its streets after Margaret Thatcher.

Councillor Jérome Debus, of the UMP party, will begin his bid for a Rue Margaret Thatcher at the next council meeting last this month. However, the plan to honour the late British Prime Minister, who divides opinion on both sides of the Channel, has already been opposed by left-wing council members…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Gaul Warriors Unearthed at 2,300-Year-Old Site

French archaeologists have unearthed the graves of several Gaul warriors dating back around 2300 years, at the site of a huge business park development near the city of Troyes in central France.

Archeologists from the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) have been carrying out excavations at the site near Buchères over the course of recent years.

But even they were surprised by their latest discovery at the 260-hectare site, which is set to become the Aube Logistical Park.

Around 30 graves dating back to between 260 and 325 BC were identified at the site, with around half being excavated, revealing the remains of Gaul warriors, with weapons and shields in hand. Women are buried alongside them.

Scientists are surprised by the presence of a burial ground in that particular spot, as there had been no settlements recorded in the area.

Archeologists believe it may have been chosen because it was already a cemetery dating back to the Bronze Age.

The artefacts found are to be taken away and preserved.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Hacking an Airplane With Only an Android Phone

So it looks like someone could hack a jetliner. With an Android smartphone. Awesome.

At the Hack In The Box conference in Amsterdam, security consultant Hugo Teso demonstrated PlaneSploit, an app he developed that he claims can take control of certain systems aboard an airplane and cause it to change direction or just crash itself into the ground.

Hugo’s no terrorist, mind you. He developed the app to point out the glaring, frightening, insane security holes in most planes’ onboard flight systems. His demonstration was done in a simulated environment, but the methods and effects, he says, are exactly the same as what could happen with a real plane.

“The complete attack will be accomplished remotely, without needing physical access to the target aircraft at any time,” wrote Teso in his presentation abstract for the conference. The hack exploits the plane’s autopilot,

transferring control to the hacker, who (in theory) could command the plane from an app running on Android.

The site Help Net Security describes the process in bland, chilling detail:…

[Return to headlines]

Ireland: James Joyce and the Irish Central Bank: A Curious Relationship

by Ruth Dudley Edwards

Congratulations to the Telegraph for breaking the story that the Irish central bank’s new limited edition €10 silver coin, which features James Joyce, has an incorrect quote from Ulysses. The text on the coin in sprawly handwriting is: “Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things that I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the”. Tragically for the designer, Mary Gregoriy, the ‘that’ was not in the original, so it’s a bit of a national embarrassment.

I tried to guess why the bank chose such a passage, so located the paragraph from which it comes: “Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs. Limits of the diaphane. But he adds: in bodies. Then he was aware of them bodies before of them coloured. How? By knocking his sconce against them, sure. Go easy. Bald he was and a millionaire, maestro di color che sanno. Limit of the diaphane in. Why in? Diaphane, adiaphane. If you can put your five fingers through it, it is a gate, if not a door. Shut your eyes and see.”

Is there anyone out there who a) can make sense of that and b) explain its relevance to the Irish coinage? My cheerful message to the bank is that having tried vainly do a) and b), I’ve concluded that an extra “that” is neither here nor there. I never got on with Ulysses and after three or four failed attempts to get beyond thirty or so pages I made my life much better by deciding I’d never try to read it again. That passage reminds me how wise I was. Still, the story has given me the unusual experience of googling “Joyce” and “central bank” and getting a result.

[JP note: The vision of visions heals the blindness of sight.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Ireland’s Central Bank Misquotes James Joyce on Limited Edition Coin

Ireland’s central bank has made an embarrassing error on a limited edition €10 silver coin it released on Wednesday.

The special coin features a picture of Irish writer James Joyce, along with a quote from his epic novel Ulysses. However, the central bank has incorrectly reprinted the passage of text. The coin, of which 10,000 will be minted and sold for €46 each, displays the words: “Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things that I am here to read.”

But the line from the third chapter of Joyce’s work, published in 1922, does not contain the word “that” in the second sentence, and simply reads: “Signatures of all things I am here to read.” At the launch, central bank Governor Patrick Honohan said: “The coin’s design, combining portrait and concept in an original manner, reflects Joyce’s standing as one of the leading figures in the modernist movement.” The coin was struck at Mayer’s Mint, in Germany…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italy: Renzi Takes Shot at PD Over ‘Grand Elector’ Snub

‘I was told to count on the votes, but someone called from Rome’

(ANSA) — Trieste, April 10 — Matteo Renzi, Florence mayor and rising star in the Democratic Party (PD), took a shot at the center-left leadership on Wednesday after not being named among the group to elect Italy’s next president.

“It would have been a pleasure to represent my region. I was told I could count on the votes, but then some phone calls were made from Rome…” said Renzi, suggesting PD head Pier Luigi Bersani had influenced the outcome. According to Italian law, every region must elect three people who will vote along with MPs for the next Italian president on April 18. Tuscan councilmen from the PD, which is the majority party in the region, voted 12-10 in favor of assembly speaker Alberto Monaci over Renzi to be one of the region’s three electors. Bersani was quick to deny having a hand in the decision. “I deny having decided, influenced or even thought about this choice that is strictly reserved to the regional council of Tuscany,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Renzi Calls for General Election as Soon as Possible

‘If it were up to me we would vote tomorrow’ says Florence mayor

(ANSA) — Trieste, April 10 — Matteo Renzi, Florence mayor and rising star in the center-left Democratic Party (PD), said Wednesday he hopes Italians hold another general election “as soon as possible” for a new government. “If it were up to me, we would return to elections tomorrow morning,” Renzi said at a campaign rally in Trieste.

A touted future leader of the PD, Renzi as of late has been highly critical of party leader Pier Luigi Bersani, who has consistently refused to form a grand coalition with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi of the center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party in order to cobble together a government out of the various parties that won seats in February’s divisive general election.

Renzi has complained the parties — including his own — have been “wasting time” while Italy sinks ever deeper into the economic and social mire.

He is apparently becoming more insistent that a new election be held if no agreement can be reached.

The only alternative, he repeated Wednesday, would be a Bersani-Berlusconi pact reached “as fast as possible”.

“Every day that is lost is time lost for Italy,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bersani Denies PD Rift, Presidential Ambitions

Party tries to mend fences with Renzi

(ANSA) — Rome, April 11 — Besieged Democratic Party (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani on Thursday denied a reported rift between his supporters and backers of former primary rival Matteo Renzi, the mayor of Florence who has campaigned to “scrap” the old guard and rapped Bersani for failing to strike a post-election deal with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi. The PD leader, who is still touted as a possible premier despite the centre left just failing to win the general election 40 days ago, also laughed off media reports that he was in the running to become the next Italian president.

Bersani said there was “no danger” of the PD splitting because of internal divisions over his handling of the deadlock.

Rising star Renzi has publicly criticised Bersani’s approach after the centre left came first in February’s inconclusive general election but did not win a working majority in the Senate, leading to a hung parliament.

Italy still has no government after Bersani failed to win support for a post-election pact with the increasingly popular anti-establishment 5-Star Movement of comedian Beppe Grillo and ruled out forming a grand coalition with Berlusconi’s centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has asked a group of 10 ‘wise men’ to try to break the deadlock by preparing a government programme capable of winning cross-party support.

Renzi has said this means Italy is “wasting time” that should be used to combat the country’s economic ailments and argued the PD should either open talks with Berlusconi or ask to return to the polls.

The Florence mayor, who has been compared to a young Tony Blair, also crossed swords with Bersani after not being chosen among the representatives of Italy’s regions set to join lawmakers in voting for the next head of state.

Although tension is high, Bersani says his party will not break up.

“We don’t have problems of this type,” Bersani told reporters on Thursday when asked about a possible split.

Later, Bersani scoffed at talk he was among the touted candidates to replace Napolitano, whose seven-year mandate expires on May 15. “The only hills I have in mind are those in the province of Piacenza,” said Bersani in reference to his native Emilia Romagna.

The seat of the president of the republic on the Quirinale hill in Rome is commonly referred to simply as ‘Il Colle’, meaning ‘The Hill’. A joint parliamentary session to elect a successor will start on April 18, also including three representatives form each of Italy’s 20 regions.

Another bone of contention between Bersani and Renzi was the latter’s exclusion from the two delegates named by the PD in Tuscany, with the mayor accusing central office of meddling and Bersani flatly denying the claim.

Renzi met ex-premier Massimo D’Alema in Florence Thursday in an open attempt to ally party infighting.

D’Alema, one of the most criticised members of the PD’s old guard, emerged to tell reporters he had “never attacked Renzi, who is an important personality”, adding there was “no risk” of a party split.

Names for a future president to be touted on left and right include former centre-left premier Romani Prodi, Berlusconi aide Gianni Letta and Radical Party heavyweight Emma Bonino, but no consensus candidates have yet to emerge.

Italian media say two figures on the centre left, ex-premier Giuliano Amato and ex-Senate Speaker Franco Marini, are more palatable for the centre right.

This because Amato was a long-time economic advisor and highly regarded aide to late Socialist premier Bettino Craxi, a close friend of Berlusconi’s who protected his media empire and bestrode the Italian political landscape despite the dominance of the Christian Democrats before becoming the chief culprit in the Bribesville scandals that brought the establishment parties crashing down in the early 1990s.

Craxi eventually fled from an arrest warrant to his Tunisian villa and died there in self-imposed exile, despite calls for a pardon, in 2000.

Marini is seen as being more acceptable to the centre right because he comes from the Catholic or Christian-Socialist wing of the PD, and is a former Christian Democrat. Some would like to see Napolitano serve a second term in office but the incumbent president has repeatedly ruled out this possibility.

Many observers expected the next president to call fresh elections unless the PD and PdL can come to an accommodation over both the president and a government capable of lasting long enough to hopefully enable Grillo’s star to wane.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Party Edges Ahead of Centre-Left PD

PdL up 1.9% to 26.9%, PD up 1.3% to 26.8%, M5S down 1.4% to 24%

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party edged ahead of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) in the latest weekly survey by Italian pollster SWG Friday.

The PdL was up 1.9% to 26.9% after repeated calls to form a coalition government, rebuffed by PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani, while the PD was up 1.3% to 26.8%.

Comedian Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement fell 1.4% to 24% amid its continued boycott of the two established parties after the February general election produced a hung parliament.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Matteo Renzi Calls Unita Attack ‘Unacceptable Abuse’

(AGI) Rome — Matteo Renzi, responding to the daily ‘Unita’, said “calling me fascist-like is an unacceptable act of verbal abuse.” ..

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

Italy: ‘Bossi Files Papers to Launch New Party’

Move signals split with Northern League

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Former leader of the regionalist Northern League Umberto Bossi on Friday filed papers to launch a new political party, sources told ANSA. The move signals a possible split with the Northern League, which he founded in 1984 as the Lombard League.

He resigned as party chief last April amid a corruption probe.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Madrid’s Left Shuns Thatcher Street Idea

A Madrid Town Hall proposal to name a street after the late Margaret Thatcher has been snubbed by Spain’s left.

The proposal comes from Madrid Town Hall’s Arts, Sports and Tourism Department and will go up for vote on April 24th.

Madrid’s council members will also be voting on whether Spanish writer José Luis Sampedro and actress Sara Montiel — both of whom lived and died in Madrid — should have a street named after them.

But it is the Thatcher Street idea which is causing all the controversy.

Opponents argue the former British Prime Minister doesn’t merit the accolade as she never lived in Madrid and had no special relationship with Spain as a whole.

Left-wing Izquierda Unida spokesperson Ángel Pérez told Spanish newspaper El País: “There are more important historical figures that haven’t been honoured with a street name in Madrid.”

The leader for Spain’s centre party in Madrid, David Ortega, objected to the increasing politicization of street names, although he says his party is not sure which way it will vote.

But Madrid’s right-leaning Popular Party mayor Ana Botella has nothing but praise for the Iron Lady.

Botella, who’s married to former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, described Margaret Thatcher on her blog as “an inspiration to many women” and argued that “hang-ups, resentment and insults were pointless”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Man, 62, Arrested Over the Attempted Kidnap of a British Girl, 3, Who ‘Was Lured Away From Her Father in a Shop in Lanzarote’

A man was today arrested on suspicion of trying to abduct a three-year-old British girl in the Canary Islands.

A family from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, were on holiday in Costa Teguise in Lanzarote when a man attempted to kidnap the girl in a shop.

Police were today questioning a 62-year-old man who was arrested in London, after a public appeal was launched by Thames Valley Police.

The young girl’s father noticed she was missing, left a store and spotted the youngster being led around a corner into an alleyway by a man, who was holding her by the hand.

He shouted out and ran up to his daughter, pulling her away from the man who then left the scene.

The incident has chilling similarities to the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann, who went missing from her apartment in Portugal in 2007 and has never been seen since.

The family were on the beach a short time later and saw the same man, who spoke fluent English, sitting between some rocks and acting suspiciously.

The victim’s father confronted the suspect, but he left before police arrived.

But the quick-thinking family took photos of the man in an attempt to identify him.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sweden Allows Adhan, Muslims Happy

CAIRO — A mosque in the Swedish capital was given the green light Thursday, April 11, to raise Adhan (call for prayers), to the jubilance of the Muslim community in the Scandinavian country. “I’m happy, very happy,” Ismail Okur, chairman of the Islamic Cultural Center of Botkyrka, told Sveriges Radio (SR)…

[JP note: I, on the other hand, am unhappy, very unhappy, at this unseemly development. Happy Muslims, or for that matter, unhappy ones, it hardly seems to matter, seldom make good neighbours.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

The Crisis of Islam

by Amin Farouk

“The Islamists’ fundamental mistake is that they believe Allah and Muhammad … are so weak, so vulnerable, that they need Muslims to protect them. They thus deny the absolute omnipotence of Allah and Muhammad…, neither of whom, as is well known, needs protection, nor to have mortals killed to defend them, nor have people become shaheeds [martyrs] to assure themselves a place in Paradise…”

In 2010 the Egyptian-born German academic Hamed Abdel-Samad wrote a book called Der Untergang der islamischen Welt (The Fall of the Islamic World), in which he predicted the collapse of the Islamic world within 30 years. This groundbreaking book was written by a man of courage whose real intention was to improve the ranks of Islam and take us forward. As past experience has shown, publishing such a book is liable to cost Abdel-Samad his life, because the extremists among us, those still intent on murdering Salman Rushdie and who cannot bear the thought of pluralism, certainly will not stand for what they regard as more criticism of the prophet Muhammad (May peace and the blessing of Allah be upon him).

Abdel-Samad claims that Islam has not yet answered the fundamental questions of life, that it has passed its prime and that the Qur’an is relevant only for the seventh century, not the twenty-first. As an observant Muslim, I disagree with him. I believe that the Qur’an is eternally relevant, but I also believe that he has the right to criticize freely whatever he likes.

The Islamists’ mistake is that they believe Allah and Muhammad (May peace and the blessing of Allah be upon him) are so weak, so vulnerable, they need Muslims to protect them, and to do it by killing anyone who breathes a word of criticism, even if it means killing other Muslims. They thus deny the absolute omnipotence of Allah and Muhammad (May peace and the blessing of Allah be upon him), neither of whom, as is well known, needs protection, nor to have mortals killed to defend them, nor to have people become shaheeds [martyrs] to assure themselves a place in Paradise.

Abdel-Samad’s book describes the magnitude of the tragedy that will unfold for the Islamic world in the next 30 years. It describes the thundering collapse of the economies of the oil-producing countries the day after the wells run dry. Agricultural lands and green forests will turn into deserts, and sectarian strife, already chronic, will flare into full-scale battles.

The total decline of Islam, which began a thousand years ago, concluded Abdel-Samad, will result in mass emigration from the Arab-Muslim world to the West, especially Europe. That is because the Islamic tragedy, according to him, is based on conceptual backwardness, on a society whose economic and social thinking belong to the Stone Age, a society religiously and politically divided against itself. According to Abdel-Samad, Islam has brought mankind neither innovation nor creativity.

He bases his prediction on a number of factors, central to which is that the Islamic world does not have a creative economy, it has no significant social order and no constructive cognitive process, and therefore its collapse is inevitable…

[NOTE: Definitely this essay is one of those “RTR”s — i.e., Read The Rest]

[Return to headlines]

UK: BBC Chief Refuses to Ban Margaret Thatcher Death Song

The BBC is at the centre of a new row over the death of Baroness Thatcher after admitting it may broadcast a song mocking her passing.

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, a song from the Wizard of Oz, has sold 20,000 copies this week after anti-Thatcher campaigners encouraged people to buy it to celebrate the death of the former Prime Minister. It is currently number four and on course for a place in the top five by the time The Official Chart Show airs on Sunday, three days before Lady Thatcher’s funeral.

The decision on whether to broadcast the song is the first test for new Director-General Lord Hall, who started in the £450,000-a-year post last week. Friends of Lady Thatcher said the corporation would be guilty of a “serious dereliction of duty” if it aired the song…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Fears of Muslim Tensions in High Security Prison

THE Chief Inspector of Prisons has warned more needs to be done to tackle simmering religious and racial tensions in a high security jail in Yorkshire which houses some of the country’s most dangerous inmates. A report published today has highlighted a growing resentment among Muslim prisoners detained at HMP Full Sutton, near York, who believe they are being persecuted by staff and other inmates because of their beliefs.

Concerns have already been voiced that perceived injustices among prisoners could lead to them embracing extremism on their release and heighten the risk of terrorist attacks. The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, has stressed that concerted efforts need to be undertaken to counter accusations from Muslim and ethnic minority inmates that they are being discriminated against…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: In Full: Where There Are Elections on 2 May 2013

There are 27 county councils, 7 unitary authorities and two Mayoral elections in England. The Isle of Anglesey will also be up for election in Wales. Here is the full list…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Margaret Thatcher Listened to Voters — Now It’s Nigel Farage Who Hears Their Despair

by Fraser Nelson

Ukip is no longer a single-issue party, it is widening its scope and enjoys the common touch with core voters that the main parties lack

No one much cared what Nigel Farage had to say about Margaret Thatcher. The verdicts of everyone from Nick Clegg to Gerry Adams were being relayed, but broadcasters were not keen on the views of the chap with the funny hat and the comic expressions. Ukip is still seen in Westminster as a freakish single-issue party with the intellectual clout of a mayfly and about the same life expectancy. It might flutter during the Government’s mid-term blues, but it is expected to perish in the next election as surely as the BNP did in the last one.

This was certainly my suspicion when I went along to Nigel Farage’s “Common Sense Tour” last week. I decided to sneak in at the back at Worcester Guildhall to test my theory that Ukip peaked in the Eastleigh by-election, is losing support and will flop in next month’s local elections. I expected to find a few dozen Eurosceptic pub bores huddled in the middle of a room, and wondered how Farage would speak to them when he didn’t think the press was listening. I also wondered how his audience would compare to those who used to attend BNP meetings.

I found my answer. Worcester Guildhall felt like the Tory party conference in the days when grassroots members actually turned up. There were young couples, families and a chap in his thirties who said he’d come because it would be “better than watching EastEnders”. Something about Ukip had pricked his interest, and he decided to attend a political meeting — an event that doesn’t happen much in Britain. I met two pearl-draped women who said they were Tory converts. Their complaint with David Cameron was “lack of progress” — any kind of progress…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Parents and Staff ‘Disgusted’ By Thatcher ‘Death Party’ Teacher

Parents and staff at the school where one of the orchestrators of the Baroness Thatcher “death parties” taught have told of their disgust at his behaviour.

Craig Parr, a 27 year- old special needs teacher at Haverstock School — nicknamed ‘Labour’s Eton’ — was pictured waving a “Rejoice: Thatcher is Dead” banner in Brixton, south London, earlier this week. The protest descended into chaos, with revellers climbing on the awning of a cinema and breaking the window of a charity shop. Jo Sattaur, director of operations, finance, at the school described hearing about Mr Parr chanting “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” as “shocking”. “I hope our pupils do not see the news and think it is okay to join in with these protests,” she said today. “It doesn’t represent our school, nor is it accepted here.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Play Margaret Thatcher Death Song, Her Supporters Tell BBC

Two ardent supporters of Margaret Thatcher have called on the BBC to broadcast the song mocking her death.

The anti-Thatcher anthem Ding Dong the Witch is Dead has seen a surge in popularity since Baroness Thatcher’s death and looks set to retain a top slot when the Official Chart Show airs on Sunday. In a controversial move the BBC are likely to play the track if it is in the top five, after executives are said to see little reason to take it off of the airwaves. A final decision will not be made on grounds of taste or decency.

But the move has found support in some unlikely corners as UKIP leader Nigel Farage and Tory MP Philip Davies, who have both paid glowing tribute to the former leader, said broadcasting the song was the right thing to do. Mr Farage said: “If you suppress things then you make them popular, so play the bloody thing. If you ban it it will be number one for weeks. Personally I think that the behaviour of these yobs — most of whom weren’t even born when Lady Thatcher was in power — is horrible, offensive and disgusting.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The Way the Council Investigates Vote Fraud Allegations [Tower Hamlets]

With all the ostrich-like denials that there’s no vote fraud problem in Tower Hamlets, I thought it would be useful to publish this guest post by Mike Cobb, a journalist living in the Bow Quarter development, off Fairfield Road.

The right to vote was a hard-won thing for many of us. It is only recent history that anyone under 21 could vote, and not much earlier than that that women could vote at all. So it comes as a shock when it appears someone has taken that right away from you.

This is what happened to my wife and I in 2012 when someone de-registered us from the electoral roll and registered themselves in our place. We should have worked out that something was wrong when the forms for registration failed to arrive. (We thought maybe it was our punishment for failing to vote for the Mayor in October 2010.) However, we just dismissed it. But then a voting card with the name of someone we had never heard of arrived in the post a couple of weeks before the election for London mayoral elections in May 2012.

So I rang Tower Hamlets council. I wanted to vote and also give the man whose name adorned the card I’d been sent his chance to take part: surely, he’d just filled in the wrong address. Tower Hamlets were very helpful, but not all that understanding of the situation. It’s a little confusing at first to be told you don’t live in the home you’ve occupied continuously for 10 years. It’s even more so when told a man you’ve never heard of lives there instead. But confusion became annoyance when we were told the person who had claimed to be living at our address had in fact de-registered us in the process of moving into our flat as the invisible man.

I was told perhaps a neighbour had done it by mistake. Tower Hamlets would put us back on the register and strike off the other person, as long as I sent them a mail proving this. At first, this sounded reasonable and I hung up. But some thinking led me to a different conclusion. The first thing that struck me was we’d lived in our home for 10 years and we knew our neighbours well and the man on the card, whose name was pretty memorable, was definitely not one of our neighbours. And he never had been.

Secondly, Tower Hamlets had asked us for proof that we lived here. Had the man who had registered himself at our address had to do the same? I called back and pushed a bit. When had we been de-registered? I was told in November 2011. When they dug a bit deeper, the circumstances they gave changed too. At first, I was told the canvasser had probably made the mistake, only to be now told the form had been filled in and sent back. Hang on: a form that should have been delivered directly to my door had got into the hands of someone who didn’t even live in my block? And worse, while I was being asked for proof of address to be put back on the list, this person had required none. I asked how that was possible.

There was confused mumbling down the phone; a belief that Royal Mail may have been at fault held no water with me. Even if the form had been delivered to the wrong address, it seemed unlikely that someone would go through the trouble of crossing people off a list and putting themselves on the list without at least checking they had the right form. And why didn’t anyone at Tower Hamlets require the same burden of proof as I was asked for? There was no answer to this one except that simply filling in the form was all it took. Different circumstances, different rules.

I put it to Tower Hamlets that the filling in of a form in the knowledge that you didn’t live there was fraud. And much to my surprise they agreed. What didn’t surprise me was their solution. They would call the number on the form, a mobile, and see what the now de-registered person had to say for themselves.

I take my right to vote seriously. I can’t help thinking that if someone claims to live where they don’t so they can vote, and takes away someone else’s right to vote as a result, this is something for the police to investigate, not just a call to a mobile that probably doesn’t work. When I pointed this out, I was told I could call the police myself. Mild incomprehension greeted my explanation that it wasn’t me who was being defrauded but Tower Hamlets.

So that’s where I left it. I’m told they will get back to me. And at the time of writing, I’m still waiting. In the meantime I check under my bed, just in case my mysterious flat mate has taken up residence once more without telling me.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The Latest Food Cop Solution to Obesity: Communism?

Britain’s left-leaning daily The Guardian reports on a new “public health” study that shows that the Marxist diet might just be the next “in” idea. The Communist nation of Cuba apparently saw its population lose weight and have less incidence of heart disease during a near-famine that followed a drop-off in aid following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The country saw reduced food availability and fuel shortages that forced manual and animal transportation to replace already scarce motor vehicles.

To Walter Willett, soda prohibitionist, meat scaremonger, and potato basher extraordinaire of Harvard, and the “public health” community in general, this outcome (if — officially — not the means) is just dandy. Willett wrote that the effect of the intense material suffering of a population already living under the dictatorial Castro regime amounted to “powerful evidence that a reduction in overweight and obesity would have major population-wide benefits.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Wagner’s Dark Shadow: Can We Separate the Man From His Works?

Born 200 years ago, Germany’s most controversial composer’s music is cherished around the world, though it will always be clouded by his anti-Semitism and posthumous association with Adolf Hitler. Richard Wagner’s legacy prompts the question: Can Germans enjoy any part of their history in a carefree way?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Croatia: First European Elections on Sunday, Amid Pessimism

Croats will elect 12 lawmakers in Strasbourg

(by Franko Dota) (ANSAmed) — ZAGREB, APRIL 12 — Croatia is voting on Sunday in its first European elections ahead of the country’s adhesion to the EU on July 1 amid concern over the financial crisis. The vote will take place in a very different mood from the climate experienced during previous adhesions. Croatia will have 12 European lawmakers who will be elected with a proportional representation system with a 5% threshold and, for the first time, a vote of preference.

The electoral campaign has been almost invisible, without conventions or televised debates and has been limited to the presentation of candidates on the web and press.

All political leaders have said the vote is ‘historic’, recalling how EU membership has been the most important national strategic objective since the proclamation of independence from Socialist Yugoslavia in 1991. Concrete efforts to join the EU started in 2000, after the electoral victory of pro-European and democratic forces and the end of the authoritarian regime of late president Franjo Tudjman. Negotiations started in 2005 and were based on stricter criteria than those followed with any other country, also due to the negative experience Brussels had in part with the adhesion of Romania and Bulgaria. In the past eight years Croatia has gone through some drastic reforms, implementing difficult changes in all sectors of society and of institutions, in particular in human rights, the judiciary and public administration. Today the country is in practice already part of the European economic system, with an open, regulated and functioning market, and the national currency, the kuna, solidly connected to the euro.

The country will however be one of the poorest in the Union, with a GDP pro capita worth 60% of the EU average.

Throughout this time, Croatians have never lost their will to become part of Europe, with an approval rate in surveys which always topped 50% and sometimes peaked to 80%.

A referendum on adhesion held in January 2012 saw 66,3% back EU membership though turnout was a disappointing 43,5%.

According to pre-vote polls, the European elections will also take place amid apathy and indifference with an even lower turnout. And indifference is not due to the fact that Croatian European MPs will only have a one-year mandate as in 2014 member countries will vote to renew the European parliament. The indifference is mainly due to the grave state of the economy which is in recession for the fifth consecutive year. The announcement that 600 million euros in aid for Croatia area ready in Brussels in the first six months of adhesion and another 13 billion until 2020 does not appear to counterbalance the negative outlook on the eurozone’s economy, coinciding with Zagreb’s adhesion. In fact along with the efforts by the Croatian government which has implemented austerity policies in the past two years, only the economic recovery of Europe, and first of all of neighbouring countries including Italy, Slovenia and Hungary, will be able to revive the Croatian economy which is currently surviving on the good performance of the tourism sector which represents almost a fifth of the country’s GDP. The last few years have seen hundreds of companies in the industrial sector fold and unemployment has peaked to 22% — 43% among youths — against the 13% registered in 2007 before the crisis.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Thousands of Macedonians Welcome Released War Crimes Convict

SKOPJE, April 11 (Xinhua) — The only Macedonian convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Johan Tarculovski was welcomed on Thursday by thousands of Macedonians at the main square in the capital city of Skopje. Tarculovski was released on Wednesday from a German prison after serving two-thirds of his 12-year prison term. After landing at Skopje airport, he was welcomed by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and other government officials, as well as his family members…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Death Toll Rises to 9 in Egypt Sectarian Clashes

CAIRO, April 11 (Xinhua) — The death toll in Egypt’s recent sectarian clashes rose to nine on Thursday after another person died of his wounds from fights between Muslims and Copts, a health ministry spokesman told Xinhua. A 21-year-old Muslim died of severe burns from a petrol bomb thrown at him on Saturday, Yahya Moussa said…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Parliament Gives Green Light to Use of Religious Slogans During Election Campaign

The amendment also allows propaganda in places of worship. It was approved by Islamist majority votes. Democratic parties critical, Copt MPs and the president of the chamber. Theywarn: “The new regulation incites religious hatred.” Death toll from April 5 clashes in al-Khosous suburb rises to seven.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) — The Shura Council has approved new rules ahead of the elections in June. After several attempts, the Islamists have managed to pass a bill legalizing religious slogans during the election campaign, prompting outrage among representatives of religious minorities and the democratic parties. The move fundamentally changes Articles 2 and 31 of the electoral Regulations that invite candidates to promote the ‘national unity, banning the use of religious slogans and places of worship for election propaganda.

Kamal Ramzy, a Coptic Christian member of parliament, has criticized the Islamist majority’s move and says: “The Muslim MPs should have learned a lesson from the recent sectarian clashes in Al-Khosous and Cairo. They should keep the ban on religious slogans.” Ramzy’s view is not only shared by Christian parliamentarians but also by Sawat el-Sharif, Speaker of the Shura Council who has warned the Islamist majority of the risk of “fomenting sectarianism in the country.”

During the Parliamentary session many members of the democratic parties cited the recent clashes on April 5 in the al-Khosous suburb that culminated on April 7 with the attack on the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of St. Marks. Two people were killed in the assault. In recent days, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II accused President Mohamed Morsi of being jointly responsible for the climate of violence, often tolerated by police and Islamist ministers.

Meanwhile, the death toll from those clashes have reached seven victims after three people recently died from their injuries. The last, Saber Saber Helal, an Orthodox Coptic of 21 years, died last night in a local hospital The last fatal clash was reported on 9 April, coinciding with the reconciliation meeting between the Christian and Muslim leaders in the area .

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

Egypt: Popular TV Comic Faces New Probe for ‘Spreading Atheism’

Cairo, 10 April (AKI) — Egyptian prosecutors have begun an investigation into three new complaints against popular TV comedian Bassem Youssef. He now faces allegations of promoting atheism, harming diplomatic ties between Egypt and Pakistan, and insulting the attorney-general, local media reported Wednesday.

Youssef confirmed he was being investigated again on his Twitter account, after earlier being accused of insulting the president and Islam.

“A new investigation started against me accusing me of: insulting Islam (again), spreading atheism & insulting Pakistan #LOL,” he wrote.

The new probe follows remarks by Youssef mocking a hat worn by Morsi when he received an honorary doctorate from a university in the Pakistani capital Islamabad in March.

The comments allegedly damaged diplomatic ties with Pakistan.

Youssef is also accused of attempting to “spread atheism” after he allegedly made fun of the prayer ritual which constitutes “questioning one of the five pillars of Islam.”

Youssef’s hugely popular weekly political satire show Al-Bernameg aired on private satellite channel CBC has spared few public figures.

He is currently on bail pending the investigation into charges of insulting Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi and Islam.

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

Islamists Storm Tunisian School After it Bars Veiled Student

Radical Muslims burst into a Tunisian school on Wednesday and assaulted its chief after he barred entry to a teenage girl wearing a face veil, or niqab, teachers said, an incident that underlined rising Islamist-secularist tensions. Since secular dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in the first “Arab Spring” uprising two years ago, Tunisia has seen mounting strife between secularists who long held power and Islamists whose influence is increasing…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Libya: Sean Smith’s Mom: Obama Didn’t Follow-Up on Personal Promise; Asks Congress: ‘Please, Please Help Me Find Out Who is Responsible’

Patricia Smith — the mother of Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, who was murdered by terrorists in Benghazi seven months ago today — says that President Barack Obama and other administration officials did not follow-up on promises they made to her personally when she traveled to Washington, D.C. last September to meet the return to the United States of her son’s casket.

Mrs. Smith says she wants to know why her son and the others at the State Department compound in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012 were abandoned by their government.

“Please, Please help me find out who is responsible and fix it so no more of our sons and daughters are abandoned by the country they love,” she said in a letter sent Monday to Rep. Frank Wolf (R.-Va.)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Morocco Tightens Adoption Rules, Spanish Families Hit Hard

Reports of conversion to Christianity

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 11 — Susana Ramos held the Moroccan baby she was planning to adopt when he was only six weeks old.

“When I saw him, I just knew I would never be separated from him,” she said. But a year has since gone by, Susana has traveled to the North African country over 25 times, and the infant is still in a Rabat orphanage after Morocco suspended international adoptions in 2012. “It changed the rules of the game,” said the woman, who was deemed fit to be a single mother and who is suffering the anguish of being far from her little one — as are the other fifty some Spanish families (200 foreign ones overall) who had their adoption processes halted by Moroccan authorities. Until a year ago foreign families could adopt in the country through an easier process than those in other countries.

They simply needed to meet a number of requirements: be Muslim or convert to Islam if they weren’t; respect the given and family names of the little one, as well as their nationality and religion until he or she became an adult; comply with the consular checks ordered by a magistrate who granted the ‘kafala’, look after the child’s upbringing and fulfil a number of conditions. However, in March 2012 — a few months into the mandate of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkiran of the moderate Islamic party PDJ — adoption procedures wer halted after a notice was sent to juvenile judges by Justice Minister Mustafa’ Ramid which suspended the process for parents not residing in Morocco. The lawyer Nadia Mouhir, who represents numerous adoptive families in Rabat, has told the media that the ministry’s decision had been influenced by a number of Moroccans living in Spain after reports that adopted children were cut off from their birth country and had been converted to Christianity. Susana, like other Spanish families who had begun the adoption process before the ministerial notice, has not given up. All have signed a letter addressed to King Mohamed VI — a copy of which was also sent to Spain’s king, Juan Carlos — in which they request intervention to resolve the matter. “If the rules had not been changed, in August I would have had my baby with me,” Susana said. She continues to travel to Morocco at least twice per month to be close to the child.

“Every time I see him, I tiptoe up to him and when he sees me he begins to laugh and hold out his arms for him to pick him up.

He started teething in January”. She acknowledged that “legally speaking the children are not ours, but we are attached to them by maternal feelings”.

She said that she understands the concerns of the Moroccan government, but that “these can be resolved by working with the consulates and Moroccan associations in Spain”. The issue was at the center of talks between Morocco’s minister of justice and his Spanish counterpart, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, but a solution is still far off. For Susana and the other would-be parents, one solution could be moving to the North African country. “What concerns me about a forced migration,” she said, “is being able to build a stable environment in another country. I am now fit to be a mother according to Spanish criteria: with my family, my job, my friends and job stability.

Would I be able to create the same situation in Morocco?”. That said, she vows above all that “the last thing on earth I would do is give up my child”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Nearly 200 Moroccan Soccer Hooligans Arrested After Rampage in Casablanca

Moroccan soccer hooligans rampaged through Casablanca, mugging pedestrians and smashing up carriages of the city’s new tram system, cars and public buses. Nearly 200 people have been arrested.

Fans from the capital Rabat paraded through Casablanca before Thursday’s match between clubs from the two cities and attacked people and property. No one was reported injured.

Police said Friday that 193 people were charged with vandalism and the destruction included eight tram carriages, seven public buses and 13 cars. People described on national television being attacked in the streets and mugged by the fans as well.

An inquiry has been launched to discover why more security forces weren’t present.

There is a fierce rivalry between Moroccan soccer clubs and there have been outbreaks of violence outside games in the past.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tunisia, Algeria Crack Down on Terrorists

Algiers — Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou on Tuesday (April 9th) said that joint security operations were under way against “a terrorist group consisting of 11 terrorists based in a mountainous area in El Kef”. “They are besieged by the army and guards from the Tunisian side and by the gendarmes from the Algeria side,” he said in a press conference following “5+5 Dialogue” session in Algiers…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Killed Salafite Youth, Tension in Hergla

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 12 — Tension remained high Friday in the city of Hergla, 25 km from the Tunisian governatorate of Sousse, where police on Thursday fired against a group of Salafites who were storming a National Guard precinct, killing one and wounding three militants. The interior ministry has not revealed the identity of the 23-year-old victim yet nor issued a statement on the incident.

Last night dozens of Salafites attacked a National Guards barracks to demand the release of a fellow militant who had just been arrested. The officers first responded with tear gas grenades and then fired at the protesters.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Christians in Territories Halved Since 2000

From 2% to 1% of population, now 47,000

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 12 — The Christian community in the Palestinian Territories has been shrinking in the past 13 years from 2% to 1% of the overall population, according to a report by a Christian Palestinian professor, Hanna Issa, published by the Fides news agency on Friday. In Jerusalem alone there are 5,000 Christians today, down from the 27,000 registered in 1948, according to data by Issa, an international law professor and secretary general for the Islamic-Christian Commission in support of Jerusalem and the holy sites. The researcher has often defined the shrinking Christian population in the Middle East a ‘social disaster’.

In the synopsis summing up his most recent findings, published by Fides, Issa said Christians living in the Palestinian Territories occupied by Israel in 1967 are 47,000 while 110,000 are living in the regions where the new Jewish state was created in 1948.

The drastic diminution of Christians in the Territories is reportedly due to emigration and, mostly, to significantly lower birth rates compared to the Muslim Palestinian community.

However, noted Father Manuel Musallam, a former parish priest in Gaza who is now in charge of relations with Christian communities for Fatah’s department of external relations, the political, economic and social factors behind this trend need to be confronted. Many leave to find work, to study or raise a family, he said: ‘People leave Gaza and other areas because of the lack of the minimum requirements for a dignified existence.

In Jerusalem, many have decided to sell their homes after receiving great offers’ enabling them to move their family to a western country or enabling them to leave better. The Palestinian Authority, noted Father Musallam, should implement measures to encourage Christians to stay, such as helping students pursue their studies, easier work access and helping people find housing.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Former Al Jazeera Producer “Humanizes” Palestinians

A former Al Jazeera producer who describes himself as Palestinian told the National Conference for Media Reform in Denver, “My job as someone in the media is to humanize my people, my heritage…”

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin now hosts a show for HuffPost Live, an on-line television service associated with the far-left website. He told the audience, “I left Al Jazeera because as much as I enjoyed my show and what I was doing, Al Jazeera wasn’t on in America…”

HuffPost Live is sponsored by Cadillac, a “founding partner” of the online streaming TV station. As a result of Obama’s bailout, American taxpayers own 26% of the car company.

As we previously reported, HuffPost Live has also hired Alyona Minkovski, the Moscow-born Russian-American “journalist” who had been working for the Kremlin propaganda channel Russia Today (RT).

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Palestinian PM Offers Resignation in Bitter Dispute With Abbas

Hopes of resurrecting the Middle East peace process appeared in jeopardy amid reports that Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, was about to quit over a power struggle with his boss, Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Fayyad, a former IMF economist deeply trusted by the US and Israel, was said to preparing to hand his resignation to Mr Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, following a deterioration in their relationship and fierce criticism from members of Fatah, the dominant faction in the West Bank. It was unclear if Mr Abbas — who was due to return to the West Bank from meetings with Arab League officials in Qatar — would allow Mr Fayyad to step down from a post he has held since 2007, given his strong international backing…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Syria Calls on UN to List Al-Nusra Front as Terrorist

DAMASCUS, April 11 (Xinhua) — Syria on Thursday called on the UN Security Council to list the Syria-based radical group al-Nusra Front as a terrorist one. On Tuesday, Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, declared the merger with al-Nusra Front, two days after al-Qaida’s central leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urged unification of jihad in Syria…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Syria: Libya and Iraq Biggest Arms Traffickers to Rebels

Lebanese investigative reporter interviews arms smuggler

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, APRIL 12 — Libya and Iraq are now the main providers of contraband arms to warring militias in Syria, an arms trafficker told an investigative reporter from Lebanese daily An-Nahar on Friday.

Black market arms prices in Lebanon are “back to normal” after spiking last year on strong demand for light and medium weaponry from Syrian rebels, said the source, who identified himself as Abu Adham.

Lebanese demand fell once the Syrian market became awash in arms coming directly from Libya and Iraq, according to Adham. Before 2011, the asking price for a Kalashnikov bullet was 800 Lebanese pounds (approximately 40 eurocents).

“When the Syrian revolution broke out, prices went all the way up to 3,000 Lebanese pounds (1.5 euros) a bullet, now they are at 1,500 pounds (approximately 75 eurocents)”, Adham explained.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Where is the National Interest in Arming Syria’s Opposition?

by Paul Goodman

The Government is committed to giving battlefield assitance to parts of the Syrian opposition, as William Hague confirmed at yesterday’s meeting of the G8. There is a plausible case for the policy. The Assad regime is a criminal kleptocracy, which appears to have used chemical weapons against its own people. Furthermore, it is a catspaw of Iran, whose nuclear push threatens a regional arms race — and whose own Government is not, to put it mildly, an ally of this country. The vile conduct of the regime has driven a refugee crisis that threatens the region’s stability. Yesterday’s G8 statement counted the number of refugees outside Syria as a million. That’s roughly the equivalent of the entire population of Birmingham…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Indian Kashmir: Two Christians Arrested on False Charges of Forced Conversions

A Muslim mob attacked two men, five women and two children, all of English origin. The police prevented the destruction of their house, but have arrested two Christians. Leader of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): “The growing anti-Christian intolerance is alarming.”

Srinagar (AsiaNews) — “The anti-Christian intolerance in Jammu and Kashmir is reaching alarming proportions” is the complaint of Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), after the arrest of two Christians in Srinagar, the capital of Indian state, on false charges of forced conversions. The arrest took place on April 10 last, after a Muslim mob attacked two men, five women and two children, all of British origin.

The foreigners had been living for about four years Shivpora, a district of Srinagar. According to local residents one of them, James Thomas, was engaged in conversion activities. So, two days ago a large group of people attacked the Christians, threw stones at their vehicles and tried to destroy their house. The intervention of the police prevented the demolition and the wounding of those present, but officials arrested James and Alora Milli to clarify the charges against them.

The police have impounded the building and evacuated the foreigners. The local imam told police that he had repeatedly asked the foreigners not to convert Muslims, but to no avail. “Now — he added — they can no longer access the area. And even if they try to convert anyone, I will prevent it at all costs.”

“The false and defamatory accusations of the Imam — says Sajan George — and the complicity of the police in arresting these Christians are a serious threat to religious freedom, a right guaranteed by the Constitution of India.”

Jammu and Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state of India where religious intolerance frequently occurs. This past January, a group of foreign tourists risked being lynched after the publication of some posts on Facebook. An exemplary case dates back to 2011, when the Rev. Chander Mani Khanna, pastor of All Saints Anglican Church, was arrested for having baptized seven Muslims and then indicted by an Islamic court (which has no legal authority in the State or in India, ed) for proselytism and forced conversions.

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

Shades of Benghazi: State Department Changes Story on Afghanistan Blast That Killed Diplomat

The State Department has acknowledged that five Americans killed in Afghanistan, including 25-year-old diplomat Anne Smedinghoff, were on foot when they were caught in the blast of a suicide bomber, and not in an armored vehicle as officials told bereaved relatives earlier this week.

The deaths of U.S. diplomatic personnel — and the State Department’s changing account of how they died — raise echoes for some of the security failures in Benghazi, Libya, where Islamist extremists killed four Americans in assaults on the U.S. diplomatic compound Sept. 11.

“The question about Benghazi I always wanted an answer to was whether it was a one-off or whether there were systemic problems with the way the State Department was doing risk management for high-risk posts,” said James Carafano, a scholar at the Heritage Foundation think tank. “We never found that out.

“Obviously, in a war zone, you can’t have zero risk and you can’t have zero casualties. But now, is this [incident] a one-off as well?” Mr. Carafano said…

The governor of Zabol province, Mohammad Ashraf Nasery, the apparent target of the attack, was in an armored car and was not hurt in the blast, although three of his bodyguards were injured, according to reports over the weekend…

[NOTE: Take away on this story: the Americans were on foot and they were lost. See URL]

[Return to headlines]

State Department Denies Cover-Up Over Diplomat Killed in Afghanistan

Anne Smedinghoff was killed walking to a media event, not in an armoured vehicle, but US denies misleading reporters

A US diplomat killed by a suicide bomber in southern Afghanistan was walking to a media event at a nearby high school when the attacker struck, and not travelling in a vehicle convoy as the State Department originally said. Anne Smedinghoff died on Saturday, along with three soldiers and one other US civilian in Qalat, the small capital of Zabul province. It was the first time a State Department diplomat has been killed in Afghanistan since the 1970s…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Students Build Bridges Between Afghanistan, US in Facilitated Dialogue

In the first event of its kind, students from the UA and Kabul University participated in a video teleconference Wednesday that aimed to build bridges between the United States and Afghanistan. Through a facilitated dialogue, a panel of four students from both universities took turns asking questions, in an attempt to create a deeper and better understanding of one another…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

North Korea Reportedly Warns Japan it Would Target Tokyo First

North Korea reportedly warned Japan that Tokyo would be the first target if Pyongyang decides to play its nuclear card.

The warning reportedly is in response to Tokyo’s standing orders to destroy any missile heading toward Japan, according to Korean Central News Agency. Japan has deployed PAC-3 missile interceptor units around Tokyo to protect its capital and is taking North Korea’s rhetoric seriously.

“We are doing all we can to protect the safety of our nation,” chief Cabinet spokesman Yoshihide Suga said, though he and Ministry of Defense officials refused to confirm the reports about the naval alert, saying they do not want to “show their cards” to North Korea.

Japanese officials long have feared that North Korea not only has the means but several potential motives for launching an attack on Tokyo or major U.S. military installations on Japan’s main island.

“If Kim Jong Un decides to launch a missile, whether it’s across the Sea of Japan or some other direction, he will be choosing willfully to ignore the entire international community,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in South Korea. “And it will be a provocation and unwanted act that will raise people’s temperatures.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Papua New Guinea Urged to Halt Witchcraft Violence After Latest ‘Sorcery’ Case

Police in Papua New Guinea have been urged to save a mother and two daughters accused of sorcery and held in captivity for a week amid growing calls for the state to curb witchcraft-related violence.

The mother, Nikono Rumbali, and her two teenage daughters were captured last week by a mob along with her sister, Helen Rumbali, who was tortured for three days and beheaded in front of their local community. Helen Rumbali, a women’s rights advocate and former schoolteacher, was reportedly subject to “unspeakable torture” before her death.

The incident came just days after a separate case in the Commonwealth state in which six women were allegedly tortured with hot irons in an Easter “sacrifice” and one was burned alive. This followed a horrific incident in February, in which a young mother accused of sorcery was stripped naked, doused with petrol and burned alive by an angry crowd.

The string of brutal tortures and killings has prompted calls for authorities to intervene to prevent the murders and for an end to the country’s “Sorcery Act” which offers a reduced sentence if an attacker uses alleged sorcery as an excuse…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: FG, Not Us Needs Amnesty — Boko Haram

Abuja — Leader of militant Boko Haram Islamic sect, Abubakar Shekau, yesterday, rejected the idea of any potential amnesty deal which the Federal Government may offer the sect members if the committee set up to look into it gives the go-ahead.

Shekau, in a 30-minute audio recording, where he spoke in Hausa, Arabic and English declared that his group had “not committed any wrong to deserve amnesty”. He said it was the government that should be seeking amnesty from his group and not the other way round, adding that even though the sect was the one wronged and the one that should be asked for amnesty, it was not ready to grant any pardon to the government…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Confusion in Ibadan as Soldiers Beat Up Policemen

There was confusion at Mokola area in Ibadan North local government area of Oyo State on yesterday evening following sporadic shootings by the police at the Mokola Police Station. The police were guarding against being caught unawares by soldiers who had earlier in the day, stormed the station over an alleged brutality of one of them on Wednesday night by the policemen attached to the police station…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Uganda: Sheikh Mubajje Warns on Muslim Land

The Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje, has blasted Muslims in Hoima district who want to grab land belonging to the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC). He said the land belongs to all Muslims in the area and called on Muslims to work with the acting district Kadhi, Sheikh Musa Mabanja, to develop Islam in Bunyoro sub-region. Mubajje, who was on a four-day working tour of the western and West Nile regions, said this while addressing Muslims at Bwikya Islamic Centre after leading Juma (Friday) prayers…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Turkish President Warns of Holocaust if Intolerance Continues

European countries will face new humanitarian tragedies leading to mass killings of people if they continue in their failure to embrace tolerance toward different cultures and religions, President Abdullah Gül has warned.

“Islam and migrants have been a reality in Europe for centuries. As long as the continent of Europedoesn’t approach segments which are different from the majority with tolerance, particularly in regards to religion, an occurrence of new inquisitions and Holocausts, as well as incidents evoking Srebrenica, are probable,” Gül said yesterday.

His strongly worded remarks came as he delivered a keynote speech at the opening of a two-day international symposium on “Migration, Islam and Multiculturality in Europe” arranged by Hacettepe University’s Migration and Politics Research Center.

Racism and a lack of tolerance of different cultures and lifestyles are some of the chronic diseases in Western societies, Gül said, drawing attention to the increase in support for political parties which portray migrants as the main reason for societal problems in European countries such as safety, unemployment, crime and poverty.

“When politics begins ‘otherizing’ a segment, then we see the alienation of migrants and minorities from the country in which they live and from the society in which they live as an inevitable consequence. As seen in countless examples in history, countries which have been able to perpetuate societal and cultural diversity in unity and harmony have stood out in history. Correspondingly, countries which have exerted efforts to either destroy or put pressure on societal and cultural diversity due to different fears have first of all lost their human richness; subsequently, they have experienced a loss of economic and political power,” the president said.

“In this regard, although each country is responsible for producing its own authentic resolutions, showing respect for multiculturalism [is necessary],” he said…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Two Migrant Boats Stopped Off Lampedusa

200 arrivals after 369 Thursday

(ANSA) — Palermo, April 12 — Italian patrols on Friday intercepted two boats carrying migrants from Africa near the stepping-stone island of Lampedusa.

About 100 people had already landed from one of the vessels, police said, while there were an estimated 100 on the other boat.

On Thursday 369 migrants arrived on Lampedusa, which has in the past seen rioting because of overcrowded reception facilities.

The island, closer to Libya than Sicily, is bracing for a fresh wave of arrivals after the weather turned fine this week.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

At Evangelical Colleges, A Shifting Attitude Toward Gay Students

Wheaton, Illinois (CNN) — Combing through prayer requests in a Wheaton College chapel in 2010, then-junior Benjamin Matthews decided to do something “absurdly unsafe.”

He posted a letter on a public forum bulletin board near students’ post office boxes. In the letter, he came out as gay and encouraged fellow gay Christian students — some of whom had anonymously expressed suicidal plans in a pile of the prayer requests — to contact him if they needed help.

In a student body of 2,400 undergraduates in the suburbs of Chicago, at what is sometimes called the Harvard of evangelical schools, Matthews said that 15 male students came out to him. Other students seemed somewhat ambivalent about his coming out, he said.

No one told him he was wrong or needed to change, Matthews said some students were obviously uncomfortable with someone who would come out as gay and remain a Christian.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Brutality in the Brave New World

[WARNING: ** Disturbing Content **]

Bioethics blogger Wesley J. Smith often writes about issues that highlight the world’s headlong slide into complete ethical bankruptcy. Last week, he featured a story from England’s Daily Mail reporting on the advent of technology that would enable scientists to harvest fetal eggs from aborted baby girls’ ovaries. These eggs, the scientists argue, hold immense potential for infertility treatments. From the post:

“This isn’t new. I reported on these efforts a few years ago. Some have even called for paying women who want to abort to carry their babies longer so that the cadaver will provide more useful parts. By the way, it isn’t IVF for which the eggs will be required, but human cloning. Somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning requires a human egg for each try and eggs are in short supply. Indeed, I have frequently noted that the technology has been held back by what I call the ‘egg dearth.’

“But if they can get unlimited eggs from dead fetuses and women, cloning will not only be successfully performed (which, I predicted, will happen this year) but eventually perfected and put to concerted use. Then, it is on to all the Brave New World technologies — such as genetic engineering — that require cloning to develop.

“Killing the fetuses and keeping their ovaries alive. That makes the scientists complicit in the abortions. Think about what we are becoming.”

What are we becoming, indeed? Such practices represent nothing less than the complete triumph of utilitarianism over ethics, and Wesley Smith is correct that this is nothing new. We’ve see the same impulses at work in the area of embryonic stem cell research for decades, in which the life of a person is sacrificed in order to derive societal “benefit” from its constituents parts. The scientists and bioethicists who advocate these ghoulish technologies don’t view human life as sacrosanct; they merely view the human body as fodder for scientific “progress and discovery.”

This is Dr. Mengele medicine, plain and simple.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

CA Lawmakers Threaten Boy Scouts With Loss of Tax Exemption

SACRAMENTO — Some California lawmakers seeking to pressure the Boy Scouts of America to abandon its ban on openly gay members are taking a novel approach: They are threatening to strip the organization of its state tax exemption.

The proposal, which cleared a legislative hurdle Wednesday, once again puts California at the center of a national debate on gay rights, and it could put the state on a collision course with the IRS if passed. The legislation would revoke the exemption from state taxes for any nonprofit that excludes members by sexual orientation, gender identity or religious affiliation…

Matthew B. McReynolds, an institute attorney, said in a letter to senators that the measure would take “the unprecedented and alarming step of wielding the tax power as a weapon directed at the political enemies of the LGBT lobby.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

DC Introduces First Transgender Character in Mainstream Comics

Once banned from the world of mainstream comic books by the infamous Comics Code Authority, LGBT characters now have a stronger presence in the world of superhero comics than ever before, with gay and lesbian heroes like Batwoman, Northstar and Green Lantern Alan Scott openly declaring who they are — and even getting married. Today, DC Comics told Wired that it will continue to expand the LGBT diversity of its superhero universe by introducing the first openly transgender character in a mainstream superhero comic.

In Batgirl #19, on sale today in both print and digital formats, the character Alysia Yeoh will reveal that she is a transwoman in a conversation with her roommate, Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl). Taking care to distinguish Yeoh’s sexual orientation from her gender identity, Batgirl writer Gail Simone noted that the character is also bisexual.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Elderly Christian Florist Faces Thousands in Fines for Refusing to Provide Flowers for Gay ‘Wedding’

( — A Christian florist in Washington state could be slapped with hefty fines because she refused to provide a floral arrangement for a gay “wedding.”

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed charges today in Benton County Superior Court.

On March 1 Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, refused to sell flowers to Robert Ingersoll for his “marriage” to Curt Freed…

Her attorney has responded that Stutzman does not hate homosexuals. “This is about gay marriage, it’s not about a person being gay,” J.D. Bristol said. “She has a conscientious objection to homosexual marriage, not homosexuality.”

The combination of legalizing same-sex “marriage” and odious “anti-discrimination” laws have faithful Christians saying their freedom of religion is being violated. And the court cases are piling up.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Free Speech and Diversity of Beliefs Unwelcome at Johns Hopkins

Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson stepped down Wednesday as commencement speaker at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine after complaints from students about controversial comments concerning same-sex marriage.

The withdrawal came less than a week after medical school Dean Paul B. Rothman chastised Carson for his comments and met with graduating students concerned that the famed physician was an inappropriate commencement speaker.

Carson sent Rothman a letter saying that he didn’t want to “distract from the celebratory nature of the day.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gay Students Organize Campaign to Kick Out Catholic Priest for Saying Homosexuality, Abortion Sinful

( — Catholic students at George Washington University are rallying to the support of their beloved priest after two gay seniors launched a campaign to kick him out of his post at the university’s Newman Center for preaching that homosexuality and abortion are sinful.

The GW Hatchet, a campus newspaper, reported this week that seniors Damian Legacy and Blake Bergen are spearheading the campaign. The story has since been picked up by numerous other news outlets.

The students say that they will file a formal complaint with the university, release a video featuring ten other students who share their opinion, and hold prayer vigils until the priest is removed from his post. They are also demanding that the university’s Student Association defund the Newman Center, which receives $10,000 a year.

In their letter of complaint the pair will reportedly cite studies showing how being around “homophobic” behavior can lead to loss of appetite and problems sleeping.

The students complain that Fr. Greg Shaffer has spoken out against gay “marriage” and abortion, and has counseled homosexual Catholic students to embrace celibacy. They said they were disturbed when Fr. Shaffer quoted the Book of Romans and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Homosexual Marriage Advocate Takes Things to a New Low

[WARNING: ** Disturbing Content **]

Small children, who are more susceptible to leading questions, sometimes think being interviewed is a game. So, rather than offering answers that reflect their true feelings, oftentimes children respond with replies they believe grownups want to hear.

An example of an adult teasing out a desired response from a child was displayed when the liberal host of MSNBC’s The Cycle, Krystal ‘Screw’ Ball, showed up on the “Political Playground” with her daughter Ella in tow…

Ball has paraded Ella on “Political Playground” before. On those segments, Krystal goaded her daughter into praising Barack Obama and lamenting Mitt Romney for threatening to ax Big Bird.

Krystal recently hosted the adorable Ella again. This time, Mom proceeded to masterfully extract from the little girl the answer she needed to reinforce a pro-gay marriage stance. In response to Krystal’s successful endeavor, the question is this: Is Ms. Ball’s point that if a child says it, it must be true — or that grownups who don’t think like kindergarteners should be ashamed of themselves?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Networks Give Rutgers Scandal 41 Minutes, Gosnell Abortion Horrors 0

[WARNING: ** Disturbing Content **]

The Rutgers basketball story continues to transfix the media, and why shouldn’t it? Mike Rice, the disgraced former Rutgers basketball coach allegedly killed a woman and at least seven viable, born-alive babies “by plunging scissors into their spinal cords” in his filthy, macabre “house of horrors” abortion clinic.

Oh wait, my mistake.

Rice was fired last week from Rutgers over video of him shoving, kicking and yelling at his players, throwing basketballs at them and — most damning — using “homophobic slurs.” That’s made Rice the most notorious villain in America. And in one week it earned him 36 network news stories clocking in at 41 minutes, 26 seconds of air time on ABC, CBS and NBC.

Now, had Rice been accused of killing a woman and eight babies, he’d be enjoying the same anonymity as Kermit Gosnell — provided the killings were carried out in an abortion clinic. Gosnell is the West Philadelphia abortionist who ran an unimaginable charnel house of a “clinic,” for 30 years. Witnesses testified that he may have murdered over 100 babies outside the womb. Gosnell’s trial, underway for weeks, has featured wrenching testimony and horrific details. And it has received exactly zero seconds of airtime on the broadcast networks.

Let’s break it out by network.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Richard Dawkins Has Lost: Meet the New New Atheists

Secular humanism is recovering from its Dawkinsite phase — and beginning a more interesting conversation

The atheist spring that began just over a decade ago is over, thank God. Richard Dawkins is now seen by many, even many non-believers, as a joke figure, shaking his fist at sky fairies. He’s the Mary Whitehouse of our day.

So what was all that about, then? We can see it a bit more clearly now. It was an outpouring of frustration at the fact that religion is maddeningly complicated and stubbornly irritating, even in largely secular Britain. This frustration had been building for decades: the secular intellectual is likely to feel somewhat bothered by religion, even if it is culturally weak. Oh, she finds it charming and interesting to a large extent, and loves a cosy carol service, but religion really ought to know its place. Instead it dares to accuse the secular world of being somehow -deficient…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]