Gates of Vienna News Feed 4/13/2013

In an emergency measure, government spending in Portugal has been frozen pending a deal with the Troika on new austerity measures. Only personnel, open accounts, judicial costs, and current contracts are exempt from the freeze.

In other news, three Muslim gold shop workers in Burma were sentenced to 14 years in prison for their role in recent riots that killed 40 people.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, JP, 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: EU Commissioner Rehn, Aid Unchanged
» Greece: Gov’t, Troika Edge Toward Deal on Civil Servants
» Industry Minister Says Italy’s Public Accounts Balanced
» Italy Housing Prices Slump 4.6% in Last Quarter of 2012
» Italy: Inflation Down to 1.6% in March
» Next Domino? Slovenia Totters Toward Euro-Crisis Brink
» Portugal: Spending Frozen Until New Deal With Troika Reached
» The Entire Economy is a Ponzi Scheme
» Why Are the Banksters Telling US to Sell Our Gold When They Are Hoarding Gold Like Crazy?
» DHS to Meet With Congressman on Ammo Purchases
» EPA Acknowledges Releasing Personal Details on Farmers, Senator Slams Agency
» Former Black Panther: Government Preparing Invasion Against the American People
» Gun Owners Against Illegal Mayors Responds to Nanny Bloomberg’s Gang
» King and Thompson to Introduce Gun Bill in House
» Moral Relativism and Jihad
» New York State Police Admit Wrongly Confiscating Guns Under New Laws
» New York Town Removes Flag as ‘Offensive’ Tea Party Symbol
» Nugent to Burnett: Do You Agree Eric Holder Should be Arrested for Gun Trafficking?
» NY Gun Confiscation Starts & May Set Precedent for Gun Confiscation Across the Nation
» Oklahoma Muslims Redefine Jihad
» On Guns and “Mental Illness”
» Pentagon to Build Robots With ‘Real’ Brains
» Protecting Civil Liberties of Muslims Topic of Meeting
» The New, Old Marxist Bi-Partisanship
» The Teflon Prez to Publicly Mourn the ‘Iron Lady’?
» Theft of Obama’s Teleprompter, Lectern Gets Man 7-Year Prison Term
» Treason Alert: Dems Try to Move Gun Bill Forward Without Allowing Senators to Read it
» What Constitutional Rights Should a 10-Year-Old-Give Up?
» White House Website Employs Gun Control Pop-Up Ad
Europe and the EU
» Bat Ye’or: A Day at the Museum [British Museum]
» ‘Germany May Reopen Probe Into Nazi Massacre in Italy’
» Italian Police Arrest 17 City Employees for Skipping Work
» Italian Actors Cut Video in Support of Bonino as President
» Italy: Bossi Denies Launching New Party
» Italy: Renzi’s Rise Seems Irresistible But New Rival Seen
» Italy: Berlusconi Might Back Centre-Left President if Deal on Govt
» Italy: Farewell Chianti: Mediterranean Wines Move to the North
» Italy: Arsenic Outside Rome a ‘True Emergency’ Says Health Minister
» Prisoners at High Risk of Mental Illness in Italy
» UK: ‘Compensation Culture Gone Mad’: Police Officer Awarded £10,000 Payout After Falling Off a Chair on the London Underground
» UK: £6 Million Mosque Among Schemes Set for West Ealing
» UK: Anti-Racism: An Industry in Decline
» UK: Anarchists ‘Attacked Conservative Club to Celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s Death’
» UK: BBC ‘Tying Itself in Knots’ Over Song Mocking Baroness Thatcher’s Death
» UK: Burglary Victim Uses Spy App to Photograph People Using His Stolen Laptop… But Police Won’t Get it Back Because It’s Now in Iran
» UK: Convicted Rapist Who Was Allowed to Move to Britain From Lithuania… Viciously Attacked Woman in Street Just a Month After Arriving
» UK: Ding Dong! Maggie’s Gone! But the Hatred Keeps on Coming
» UK: Ex-Miners to Join the Anti-Thatcher Protesters in Trafalgar Square
» UK: Football Fans Vow to Confront Anti-Thatcher Demonstrators
» UK: Margaret Thatcher: I Vow to Thee, My Country
» UK: Margaret Thatcher: A Woman Who Was First Among Equals
» UK: Mastermind Behind Plans to Disrupt Thatcher Funeral is Oxford Student Whose Parents Live in £700,000 House in Tunbridge Wells
» UK: Now Sainsbury’s and M&S Tear Up ‘Frankenfeed’ Ban Leaving Waitrose Going it Alone
» UK: Open Day at Nelson Mosque
» UK: Soft Porn Model, 19, Let Off Wearing Ankle Tag for Criminal Damage Conviction ‘Because it Would Interfere With Her TV Work’
» UK: Thatcher Death Parties — an Embarrassment to Britain in the Eyes of the World
» UK: Why is Cameron Letting Labour, Which Last Won 29% of the Vote, Gain 77% of the Appointments?
» Vatican: Pope Francis Embodies the Saint Who Talked Peace With Muslims
North Africa
» Egypt: Chief Perpetrator in Cathedral Incidents Arrested — Security Source
» Egypt’s Coptic Christians Live in Fear of Islamic Extremists
Israel and the Palestinians
» Israel, The Little Nation That Could, Part 2
» Vinitaly: Salesians Bring Solidarity Wines From Bethlehem
Middle East
» Daniel Pipes: Support Assad
» Dubai to Build Largest Gold Refinery in Mideast
» Iran Plans ‘Islamic Google Earth’
» Syria: Gov’t Offensive in Homs Kills 20, With Hezbollah Help
» The Islamic Emirate of Syriastan
» Baku to Host Meeting of CIS Muslims Advisory Council
South Asia
» Afghanistan: UN to Give $58mln in Aid Rural Households
» Afghan City Declared Capital of Islamic Culture, Civilization in 2013
» Anguish of the Parents Who Came So Close to Saving Free-Spirited Sarah Who Went Off to Explore India
» Burma Riots: Muslim Gold Shop Workers Jailed
» Taliban Attack Highly Regarded Afghan Army Unit
» Ten-Year-Old Indian Girl ‘Kept in Police Cell Overnight and Facing Death Threats From Neighbours’ After Making Rape Complaint
Far East
» Who Gave North Korea Nukes in the First Place?
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Mauritania: 6 Mln Euros From EU for Tranport System
» Nigeria: Abdulkadir — “Everyone is Desirous of an End to This Conflict”
» Amnesty’s Ultimate Results: Poverty Ensured for Low Income Americans
» Brazil to Seek Neighbors’ Help to Stem Illegal Immigrants
» Italy: House Speaker Calls for More Investments for Refugees
» Italy: Serial Egyptian ‘Bicyle’ Rapist Jailed for 20 Years
» UK: Princess Diana Fund Cynically Hijacked by the Left: How Money is Being Diverted to Pro-Immigration Campaign Fund
» UK: Rapist Who Humiliated His Victim by Filming Sex Attack Has His ‘Unduly Lenient’ Sentence Nearly Doubled
Culture Wars
» How to Murder the Innocent, Defenseless, And Undefended — And Make Big Bucks Doing it! — Dr. Gosnell’s “House of Horrors”
» The Constitutional Issues in Same-Sex Marriage
» WaPo Reporter: I’m Not Covering the Gosnell Abortionist Trial Because It’s Not Really a Policy Story
» Walter Laqueur Blames “Optimism Bias” More Than Stupidity — The Strongest Force on Earth — And Wilful Ignorance of Islam

Cyprus: EU Commissioner Rehn, Aid Unchanged

EU plan remains 17 billion

(ANSAmed) — DUBLIN, APRIL 12 — A bailout plan to rescue Cyprus is unchanged with the European Union providing 9 billion euros and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) giving one, the European commissioner for economic affairs Olli Rehn said on Friday. Rehn said press reports saying that Cyprus needed to raise 23 billion from the original 17 to secure the bailout were to be considered a ‘gross’ figure rather than the discussed ‘net’ number.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Gov’t, Troika Edge Toward Deal on Civil Servants

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 12 — Greek government officials continued tough talks with the troika on a contentious overhaul of the civil service on Thursday, indicating that gradual progress would likely yield a deal by Tuesday, as Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras arrived in Dublin, where he is to face his eurozone counterparts on Friday at an informal summit.

In Stournaras’s absence, as daily Kathimerini reports today, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras led the Greek side in ongoing negotiations with troika envoys that were also attended by Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis whose ministry has been tasked with overseeing the streamlining of the civil service. Troika officials also met with Development Ministry employees to discuss a Greek proposal to lighten the burden on excessively indebted households and businesses. Other issues “including the possible reduction of an unpopular property tax and allowing debts to the state to be paid back in more than 40 installments” appeared to have been resolved, according to sources. The government is expected to present as a victory for the Greek side the fact that Athens managed to plug a 4-billion-euro ‘financing gap’ for 2013 and 2014 without imposing additional austerity measures, beyond the so-called ‘prior actions’ already pledged to foreign creditors in exchange for continued rescue loans. The key prior action that Greece has yet to make good on is the downsizing of the civil service. The troika reportedly wants the government to start by laying off 2,000 employees accused of disciplinary offenses. Manitakis has insisted that dismissals cannot be carried out until the cases have been resolved and is reportedly seeking ways to accelerate the process of disciplinary hearings. In any case, Manitakis reportedly objects to committing to a specific number of layoffs by a certain deadline.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Industry Minister Says Italy’s Public Accounts Balanced

‘No need for additional fundraising, cost-cutting measures’

(ANSA) — Turin, April 12 — Italian industry minister Corrado Passera said Italy’s public finances were “structurally balanced” on Friday, saying that as things stand now there would be no need for additional finance-raising or cost-cutting measures to be introduced by the government. Passera was responding to a question on whether an additional budget would be required to adjust Italy’s public accounts.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Housing Prices Slump 4.6% in Last Quarter of 2012

Spain plummets 12.8%, while eurozone drops 1.8%, eurostat says

(ANSA) — Brussels, April 11 — Italian housing prices slumped 4.6% in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with the year-earlier period, according to the latest data released by Eurostat. Housing prices in the eurozone dropped an average of 1.8%, while they fell 1.4% in the 27-member European Union. France suffered a 1.7% decline in the last three months of the year compared to the year-earlier period, while Spain’s prices plummeted 12.8%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Inflation Down to 1.6% in March

Sixth straight drop thanks to lower fuel prices

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Italian inflation fell to 1.6% in March from 1.9% in February, Istat estimated Friday.

It was the lowest rate since November 2010, the statistics agency said.

Inflation has now fallen six straight times, Istat said.

The drop is largely due to the decrease in fuel prices on an annual basis.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Next Domino? Slovenia Totters Toward Euro-Crisis Brink

Could Slovenia become the next euro-crisis victim? A new OECD report highlights the deep problems facing the Slovenian banking industry and economy. While both Brussels and Ljubljana insist that a bailout won’t be necessary, difficult times are in store for the country.

The row of buildings, containing 833 apartments, stands mostly empty, and construction on some of the buildings has not quite been completed. Nearby is a deep hole, ready to be filed with a brand-new hotel that will now almost surely never be built.

It is a scene that can be found in a number of euro-zone countries, ravaged by a sovereign debt crisis and a burst real estate bubble. But this particular complex, known as Siska, is on the outskirts of Ljubljana, the capital of tiny Slovenia. And it provides a dramatic backdrop to growing fears that the country could soon become the next euro-zone member state to require a bailout from Brussels.

Concerns that Ljubljana might soon request emergency aid were intensified on Tuesday by a report issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Noting the country’s economic struggles, rising sovereign debt and deeply troubled banking industry, the report noted that the country is at risk of a “prolonged downturn and constrained access to financial markets.”

In other words, Slovenia might soon be unable to borrow the money from the markets it needs to remain solvent.

Slovenian Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek was quick to dismiss bailout concerns as “speculation.” She insisted that her country’s economic fundamentals remained sound and that it could take care of the current problems it is facing without external help. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso likewise brushed off the OECD report, saying he was “confident that Slovenia will rise to the challenge” facing it.

Huge Banking Sector Problems

Those challenges are many. The Slovenian economy is in recession, with the OECD expecting a further contraction of 2.1 percent this year. Sovereign debt, though currently lower than the euro-zone average, is on pace to double to 100 percent of gross domestic product by 2025, according to the report. While the OECD notes that Ljubljana has taken significant steps toward consolidating its budget and reforming its economy, it writes that it could be many years before Slovenia resumes catching up with “more developed OECD countries.”

First and foremost, however, Slovenia’s problems are focused on its financial institutions. While the banking sector is worth the equivalent of about 140 percent of the country’s GDP — well below the euro-zone average and much lower than the more than 800 percent ratio seen in Cyprus — the real estate collapse in the country has left banks there with significant quantities of bad loans on their books.

As the OECD report highlighted, many of the problems faced by the banks can be traced to the fact that the industry was never fully privatized after the fall of communism. The result has been an unhealthy amount of political influence on large banks such as Nova Ljubljanska Banka, the country’s largest. Critics allege that some companies even received special treatment due to their political ties…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Portugal: Spending Frozen Until New Deal With Troika Reached

Ministries at a standstill ahead of new cuts in health, education

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 12 — Portugal is in the throes of an accounting emergency as the government froze all spending ahead of new negotiations with the troika (EU-ECB-IMF) for anti-deficit measures to fill the 1.35-billion-euro gap in its 2013 budget. The impasse follows on last week’s Constitutional Court ruling that several measures contained in the budget presented by the conservative government of Premier Pedro Passos Coelho, such as cuts to year-end wage bonuses and civil servant pensions, were unconstitutional.

Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar on Tuesday decreed a freeze on spending by all ministries except his own, with the exceptions of expenses for personnel, open accounts, judicial costs, and current contracts. The state of emergency is ubiquitous, El Diario de Noticias newspaper reported. Health and finance inspectors can’t do their jobs because they have no gas for their cars, leading universities had to cancel international contracts, labor inspectors have to clean their own offices and bring toilet paper to work because contracts with cleaning companies have been canceled. The decree is temporary, and will last until the government decides on new austerity measures to be submitted to troika inspectors next week in Lisbon. The concession this month of a two-billion-euro tranche out of a total 78-billion-euro bailout, which the troika granted two years ago in Brussels, depends on these measures.

Portugal must convince its eurozone partners that it will make its deficit targets with new cuts in health, education, pensions and civil servant salaries. It closed 2012 with a 6.4% deficit, well over its estimated 5%, and its 5.5% target for the current year seems remote, with GDP expected to contract by 2.3%.

In an interview with Antena 1 TV on Friday, former president Mario Soares, a Socialist, warned that for Portugal to pay its foreign debt while in the midst of recession is impossible, “no matter how much more the government continues to impoverish the Portuguese people”. Soares criticized both the Passos Coeho administration and that of EC President Jose Durao Barroso, who is Portuguese. “When you can’t pay, the only solution is not to”, the former president commented, citing the 2001 crack-up in Argentina as an example.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Entire Economy is a Ponzi Scheme

Bill Gross, Nouriel Roubini, Laurence Kotlikoff, Steve Keen, Michel Chossudovsky, the Wall Street Journal and many others say that our entire economy is a Ponzi scheme.

Former Reagan budget director David Stockton just agreed:

So did a top Russian con artist and mathematician.

Even the New York Times’ business page asked, “Was [the] whole economy a Ponzi scheme?”

In fact — as we’ve noted for 4 years (and here and here) — the banking system is entirely insolvent. And so are most countries. The whole notion of one country bailing out another country is a farce at this point. The whole system is insolvent.

As we noted last year:…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why Are the Banksters Telling US to Sell Our Gold When They Are Hoarding Gold Like Crazy?

The big banks are breathlessly proclaiming that now is the time to sell your gold. They are warning that we have now entered a “bear market” for gold and that the price of gold will continue to decline for the rest of the year. So should we believe them? Well, their warnings might be more credible if the central banks of the world were not hoarding gold like crazy. During 2012, central bank gold buying was at the highest level that we have seen in almost 50 years. Meanwhile, insider buying of gold stocks has now reached multi-year highs and the U.S. Mint cannot even keep up with the insatiable demand for silver eagle coins. So what in the world is actually going on here? Right now, the central banks of the world are indulging in a money printing binge that reminds many of what happened during the early days of the Weimar Republic. When you flood the financial system with paper money, that is eventually going to cause the prices for hard assets to go up dramatically. Could it be possible that the banksters are trying to drive down the price of both gold and silver so that they can gobble it up cheaply? Do they want to be the ones sitting on all of the “real money” once the paper money bubble that we are living in finally bursts?

Over the past few weeks, nearly every major newspaper in the world has run at least one story telling people that it is time to sell their gold. For example, the following is from a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled “Goldman Sachs Turns Bearish on Gold”…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

DHS to Meet With Congressman on Ammo Purchases

After weeks of silence, the Department of Homeland Security has finally answered a letter sent by New Jersey Congressman Leonard Lance (R) by agreeing to meet with the lawmaker and explain why the federal agency is purchasing ammunition in huge quantities.

After refusing to respond to 15 members of Congress about the purchase of over 1.6 billion bullets, preferring instead to release glib statements to the media, the DHS has finally been forced to take action.

“A spokesman for Lance’s office said Wednesday DHS has answered a letter Lance sent last month, seeking a congressional briefing on the large ammunition purchases. Lance’s office and DHS are working to schedule a meeting,” reports

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

EPA Acknowledges Releasing Personal Details on Farmers, Senator Slams Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged Tuesday that it released personal information on potentially thousands of farmers and ranchers to environmental groups, following concerns from congressional Republicans and agriculture groups that the release could endanger their safety.

According to a document obtained by, the EPA said “some of the personal information that could have been protected … was released.” Though the EPA has already sent out the documents, the agency now says it has since redacted sensitive details and asked the environmental groups to “return the information.”

But Sen. John Thune, who originally complained about the release, slammed the EPA for trying to retroactively recover the sensitive data.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Former Black Panther: Government Preparing Invasion Against the American People

Appearing on Infowars Nightly News, veteran Black Panther Larry Pinkney put historical civilian government ammunition purchases into perspective.

“They’re not doing this because it’s Howdy Doody time,” Pinkney told Nightly News host Darrin McBreen. “They’re doing this because they obviously feel that they need to prepare for a rebellion and that rebellion is and will come from the people — black, white, brown, red and yellow — of the United States of America.”

In 2012, the DHS issued an urgent solicitation for riot gear following a leaked U.S. Army Military Police training manual for “Civil Disturbance Operations” outlining how military assets are to be used domestically to quell riots, confiscate firearms and even kill Americans on U.S. soil during mass civil unrest, Paul Joseph Watson reported for has kept apace of the Department of Homeland Security’s unprecedented purchase of ammunition. The agency added 360,000 rounds in March to an astounding 2 billion bullets bought over the past year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gun Owners Against Illegal Mayors Responds to Nanny Bloomberg’s Gang

A new website is calling for Bloomberg’s Second Amendment hating gang to be shut down by the Justice Department under racketeering laws.

“Gun Owners Against Illegal Mayors represents Americans united to fight the Bloomberg Gang, a band of organized criminal politicians. Originating in New York City, the Gang has recruited criminal mayors across the United States,” the site explains.

A large number of gang members stand accused of and have been convicted of serious crimes. Former members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns were charged with felony corruption, assault of a police officer, and child sex crimes.

“Mayor Bloomberg should be more interested in the conduct of MAIG members than trying to pry into the personal lives of gun owners or soda drinkers,” the executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, Alan Gottlieb, said in a statement. “If anybody needs a background check, it would be a MAIG member.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

King and Thompson to Introduce Gun Bill in House

Republican Peter King of New York and Democrat Mike Thompson of California plan to introduce a replicated version of the Senate gun bill in the House next week.

“I will be introducing, along with Mike Thompson, basically the House version of the Manchin-Toomey bill on Monday or Tuesday at the latest,” King said.

King said imposing mandatory gun purchase background checks on the American people is the “best route to go.” He admitted working closely with Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania on the House version of the Senate bill. If passed, it will impose de facto firearms registration ahead of eventual confiscation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Moral Relativism and Jihad

by Caroline B. Glick

It is the dominance of moral relativism in liberal institutions like the New York Times that make even the most apologetic expose of the Muslim Brotherhood a major event.

Two events happened on Wednesday which should send a shiver down the spine of everyone concerned about the future of the American Jewish community. But to understand their importance it is important to consider the context in which they occurred…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

New York State Police Admit Wrongly Confiscating Guns Under New Laws

State police in Erie County, New York have admitted a huge mistake in confiscating a man’s guns under newly passed gun control laws, saying they identified the wrong person.

Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs has said that police called him to clarify that they had wrongly enforced a pistol permit suspension on a local gun owner under the NY SAFE Act. The confiscation order came following a warning suggesting the man was using anti-anxiety medication prescribed by his doctor

Under provisions in the new legislation, anyone identified as suffering from a mental health condition can have their firearms seized by police.

Jacobs said that during the phone call he was told troopers had forwarded incorrect information, and that police had made an error.

Jacobs also indicated that this case highlighted serious flaws in the new legislation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

New York Town Removes Flag as ‘Offensive’ Tea Party Symbol

A veterans organization in a New York town is fighting for its right to fly a patriotic flag after the city council refused to let the group display the flag, calling it a symbol of the Tea Party with right-wing connotations.

The United Veterans Memorial & Patriotic Association replaced a tattered American flag at the New Rochelle Armory, flying the Gadsden flag underneath it. The bright yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” flag has been used by the Navy and Marine Corps since 1775.

When a city council member complained to the city manager that he found the flag offensive, the city manager initially decided to let the flag fly anyway. But the city council overruled him, and the flag was taken down. On Wednesday, the council voted 5 to 2 to keep the veterans from putting the flag back up.

The council objected to the flag because they said Peter Parente, the president of the veterans group, is a member of the Tea Party and the group wants to use the flag to make a political point.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Nugent to Burnett: Do You Agree Eric Holder Should be Arrested for Gun Trafficking?

NRA board member and rock legend Ted Nugent slammed background checks and infringements on the Second Amendment in an interview on Erin Burnett’s CNN show last night.

In the clip, Burnett mentions the gun confiscation taking place in New York, and Nugent also calls for the arrest of Attorney General Eric Holder for gun trafficking.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

NY Gun Confiscation Starts & May Set Precedent for Gun Confiscation Across the Nation

New York State is the testing ground my fellow Americans. Yes I know, some people in the country believe Obama and other politicians when they say they are not coming for your guns. But lo and behold there is a form of gun confiscation taking place in New York. In New York they are revoking gun permits and confiscating guns if you are on anti-anxiety medication. In fact, according to one report, not only is the Second Amendment being violated, but HIPAA laws are being compromised and there is violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendment in some cases. David Lewis, 35, of Amherst, New York, who is a librarian with a Masters in Library Science from the University of Buffalo, received a notice that his permit was revoked and he was to turn in his weapons or they would come and get them and charge his with illegal firearms possession.

It looks as though the NY SAFE Act had something in it that has led to this confiscation happening so quickly. What is that you ask? There is a provision that apparently mandates the confiscation of weapons and permits if someone has been prescribed psychotropic drugs.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, back on January 9, 2013 stood and lied to his people when he said, “This is not about taking away people’s guns…that’s not what this is about. It is about ending the unnecessary risk of high capacity assault rifles. That’s what this is about.” Well, we know it’s not about that. We knew it then and we know it even more so today.

[Comment: A MUST read for every American.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Oklahoma Muslims Redefine Jihad

CAIRO — Countering growing Islamophobic campaigns, Muslims students at University of Oklahoma are holding a lecture on Friday, April 12, to introduce the true meaning of jihad, a term that is usually misused by anti-Islam campaigners.

“Jihad means to struggle or strive in a way or sake of God,” Anosha Syeda, vice president of the Muslim Student Association, told The Oklahoma Daily. “Many times this word is given a negative connotation either by the media or government indicating that the religion of Islam encourages war, but in fact Islam promotes peace.”…

[JP note: Ooook-lallahu akbar, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain … And when we say Yeeow! Ayipioeeay! We’re only sayin’ You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma! Ooook-lallahu Akbar. ]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

On Guns and “Mental Illness”

You know I don’t usually get into conspiracy theories, but some connections are just too convenient.

First, you build a medical/pharmaceutical industry that successfully pushes the notion that every little sorrow, nervous twitch, or bit of restlessness is a “disease” that needs to be treated with psychoactive drugs. Then you go on a holy crusade to take guns away from the “mentally ill” (and all the bobbleheads who haven’t thought about the implications repeat “good idea, good idea, good idea”).

So with the consent of the ignorant, complacent, well-programmed, and the devious slimeballs who take advantage of all of the above, any one of the millions who’ve been propagandized into taking one of those psychoactive drugs can become a candidate for losing his or her gun rights. No due process, no nothin’. (Added: Well, maybe the opinion of an authoritarian, anti-gun counselor or shrink.)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pentagon to Build Robots With ‘Real’ Brains

A Pentagon-funded team of scientists have constructed a machine that functions like a human brain and would enable robots to think independently and act autonomously.

Researchers for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) have created a device that “looks and ‘thinks’ like a human brain,” James K. Gimzewski, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, told National Defense Magazine.

The program is called “physical intelligence” and is capable, “without being programmed like a traditional robot, of performing actions similar to humans,” making it the first incarnation of a robot that can perform “truly autonomously” without human input.

“What sets this new device apart from any others is that it has nano-scale interconnected wires that perform billions of connections like a human brain, and is capable of remembering information,” writes Sandra I. Erwin. “Each connection is a synthetic synapse. A synapse is what allows a neuron to pass an electric or chemical signal to another cell. Because its structure is so complex, most artificial intelligence projects so far have been unable to replicate it.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Protecting Civil Liberties of Muslims Topic of Meeting

Learn about what is being done to protect the civil liberties of Muslims and immigrants during a banquet Saturday at 6 p.m. at Wyomissing Family Restaurant, 1245 Penn Ave., Wyomissing. The ACLU of Pennsylvania will conduct the meeting. Tickets are $25 for individuals and $45 for couples. A Halal buffet-style dinner will be served…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

The New, Old Marxist Bi-Partisanship

“This year will go down in history! For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!”…Adolf Hitler

We keep having the term “Gun Control” thrown at us by people on both sides of the aisle. The true intent is “People Control” As Adolf Hitler proved, if you disarm the people, you control the people. Ask the Jews how that worked out for them. The Sandy Hook school shooting was a horrendous event; however, adding more “people control” legislation would not, and will not, prevent the decision of a crazed individual to target defenseless people in a known “Gun Free Zone”

The shameless antics of the left to use children and grieving families to further a goal they have held for decades is not surprising, but for so-called Republicans to aide in disarming American citizens is beyond shameful, it’s an act by traitors who violate their oath to protect and defend the Constitution.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Teflon Prez to Publicly Mourn the ‘Iron Lady’?

Don’t worry, Lady Maggie: “Michelle and Barack will carry on the work to which you dedicated your life now that you’re gone.

According to the Daily Mail, in Barack Obama’s own words: “Michelle and I carry on the work to which she dedicated her life…” Statement from the President on the Passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher — White House.

Surely ‘The Iron Lady’ will rest in peace knowing that the uncrowned ‘King and Queen of the “Me, Me, Me” Generation’ will be stoically carrying on her hard work between their trademark lavish holidays.

Not only are the Obamas considering taking full advantage of photo ops by being in Britain for the Thatcher funeral — second only in significance to Winston Churchill’s, you’d think they were conservative Thatcher supporters all along.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Theft of Obama’s Teleprompter, Lectern Gets Man 7-Year Prison Term

It was no Republican plot, but someone made off with the teleprompter that has been the subject of conservative jokes about President Obama. Also stolen were the presidential seals. And Obama’s lectern.

In fact, Eric Brown stole enough equipment from the office of the president that he could have staged his own presidential news conference — if he hadn’t pawned some of the gear at shops in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

In federal court in Virginia on Thursday, the Richmond man, 49, was sentenced to seven years in prison for brazenly taking a truck containing $200,000 worth of audio equipment used by the president.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Treason Alert: Dems Try to Move Gun Bill Forward Without Allowing Senators to Read it

Like the disastrous and unconstitutional Obamacare bill rammed down the throats of the American people, the unconstitutional S. 49 gun bill aimed at the heart of the Second Amendment passed cloture earlier today in the Senate with 68 votes despite the fact senators have not had a chance to read it.

Cloture will now put the legislation up for a simple majority vote. Democrats have a majority in the Senate. It will be up to Republicans in the House to derail the bill if it is passed in the Senate.

Republicans decided not to support a move by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul to filibuster the legislation. Sixteen Republicans — Alexander, Ayotte, Burr, Chambliss, Coburn, Collins, Corker, Flake, Graham, Heller, Hoeven, Isakson, Kirk, McCain, Toomey, Wicker — voted with Democrats to move the bill to the floor for debate and a vote.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

What Constitutional Rights Should a 10-Year-Old-Give Up?

It sounds like a confusing question. The rights enumerated in the Constitution are not debatable. They are our rights. But in one elementary school, a teacher asked students to take a piece of paper and write their willingness to give up some of their constitutional rights in order to be more “safe and secure.” What is going on in our schools?

As reported by WOKV in Jacksonville, Florida, a father discovered the assignment and immediately became concerned and contacted the school.

“That sentence talking about giving away freedoms for safety and security- that bothers me,” says Aaron Harvey, the father of the student.

“He tells me his 4th grade son was told to write a note reading “I am willing to give up some of my constitutional rights in order to be safer or more secure” following a lesson led by a guest speaker at Cedar Hills Elementary School. The lesson itself was taught at the end of last year, but Harvey didn’t find the note until about 1 1/2 weeks ago.”…

As one comment reads from the web site, “This is all our schools have become, communist brainwashing centers.” That pretty much sums it up. Just like the media, schools seem more focused on promoting an agenda than actually informing and educating. We can’t let this continue!

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

White House Website Employs Gun Control Pop-Up Ad

The official White House website ( now has a pop-up ad for gun control blocking visitors from getting to its homepage.

The pop-up ad declares, “Now Is The Time To Do Something About Gun Violence” and “Our voices are louder when we speak together.”

It also calls readers to “Learn More” by clicking on a link to an advocacy page where supporters can “Use the simple tool to pre-set a post to Twitter and/or Facebook that will publish simultaneously with thousands of others.”

The White also sent an e-mail to supporters today inviting them to visit the social media page and employ the tool.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bat Ye’or: A Day at the Museum [British Museum]

Translated from the French by Jean Szlamowicz

Last December, as I had been invited to give a lecture at a conference on anti-Semitism in London (2nd December 2012), I decided to make a quick visit to the British Museum. I used to visit this shrine dedicated to memory quite frequently with my husband when we were students at the Institute of Archaeology. But this solitary visit was a pilgrimage to me…

Palestinizing Biblical archaeology

Through the network of the Anna Lindh Foundation various forgers are busy palestinizing Biblical archaeology, surreptitiously stealing one people’s history to attribute it to another. Crossing out one word, censoring another, they dismiss artistic projects, discard literary works or the research of historians. They exclude Israelis from universities, blaming them as living proofs of the falsity of the Palestinian narrative they are forging. European leaders get together, think and plot the exclusion from scientific programmes of their colleagues — whether Jews or Christians — who stand for the extraordinary historical epic of Israel.

This large net of hatred devised by the European Commission embraces all Europe. The ethics of science and knowledge, the stable and rational reference points whose legacy harks back to Greek civilisation, seem to have disappeared. Koranic knowledge has now precedence through the ‘Palestine’ narrative that calls jihad fighters ‘freedom fighters’.

A few days after my visit to the British Museum the EU was indulging itself with a Nobel Prize for Peace to the applauding cheers of the finest members of the elite of political cynicism. Obviously such an outrageous ceremony could only take place in Oslo…

Bat Ye’or is the author of Eurabia, Islam and Dhimmitude, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, The Dhimmi, and Europe, Globalization, and the Coming of the Universal Caliphate.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

‘Germany May Reopen Probe Into Nazi Massacre in Italy’

WWII soldiers accused of killing 560 civilians in Tuscany

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — German authorities may reopen an investigation into Nazi soldiers who allegedly massacred 560 civilians in a Tuscan village in 1944, German media reported Friday.

Der Spiegel’s online edition says a new investigation may be launched following a study by Italian-German historian Carlo Gentile, who has unearthed some weaknesses in the work that was carried out by German prosecutors. In October, German magistrates decided to spike the case against the surviving Nazi soldiers accused of participating in the World War II massacre, which included 116 children, in the Tuscan village of Sant’Anna di Stazzema, near Lucca. Amid a national outcry, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano spoke out against the German court’s ruling, calling it “disturbing”. In its own investigation and trial, the Italian military court condemned 10 of the ex-Nazi officers to life in prison in absentia, including eight who remain alive.

Germany refused to grant Italy’s request for the men’s arrest. Only three former Nazis have ever been jailed in Italy for war crimes.

Erich Priebke, 99, was extradited from Argentina in 1995 and sentenced to life for his part in a 1944 reprisal outside Rome that killed 335 men and boys including many Jews; his ex-commander Karl Hass, arrested after coming from Switzerland to Priebke’s trial with witness immunity, died in prison aged 92 in 2004; and ‘Butcher of Bolzano’ Michael Seifert, found guilty of 18 murders, was extradited from Canada to serve life in 2008 and died in jail aged 86 in 2010.

Priebke is now under house arrest in Rome. He had a work permit revoked in 2007 after an outcry from the city’s Jewish community.

Italian prosecutors have issued European arrest warrants for 15 other German former soldiers without success.

Under the terms of a postwar settlement, Germany is not required to extradite alleged war criminals to Italy.

The two countries agreed in 2008 to review outstanding wartime issues including the compensation for victims.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Police Arrest 17 City Employees for Skipping Work

Another 78 cited in Reggio Calabria for ‘organized absenteeism’

(ANSA) — Reggio Calabria, April 9 — Police in the southern Calabria region on Tuesday placed 17 city employees under house arrest and cited 78 more in Reggio Calabria for long-term and organized absenteeism. The bust, codenamed ‘I’ll be right back’, caught the workers on video handing off IDs and time cards to be fraudulently swiped by delegated employees for the day, allowing numerous workers to skip work while still getting paid, police said. Employees are accused of taking day-long coffee breaks, shopping for groceries on the job and stepping out to pick up children from school and never coming back. Last October, the public administration of Reggio Calabria was dissolved for mafia connections, the first time the Italian government applied such a measure to a provincial capital. Since then employees there have been answering to a caretaker administration.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Actors Cut Video in Support of Bonino as President

Former EU commissioner considered possible candidate

(ANSA) — Rome, April 10 — A group of Italian actors has produced a video in support former European commissioner and Radical party member Emma Bonino to be the country’s next president.

The group includes Alessio Boni, Paolo Calabresi, Licia Maglietta, Ignazio Oliva and Valeria Solarino.

All are part of a group of artists fighting for greater control of their royalties.

Political party representatives will vote next week on a replacement for outgoing President Giorgio Napolitano.

“We can break the old patterns and traditional bad policy to reaffirm competence and righteousness,” says actor Pietro Sermonti.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bossi Denies Launching New Party

‘Party? We’re starting a newspaper’ League founder tells ANSA

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Umberto Bossi, the former head of the regionalist Northern League, told ANSA on Friday he did not file papers to launch a new political party.

“What are you talking about? People are running their mouths too much,” he said, denying earlier reports.

Sources had said he was visiting a notary with his wife and faithful political supporters to launch a new party on Friday.

Bossi, who spearheaded the movement in the 1980s that would become the Northern League, said they were filing papers to launch a newspaper “devoted to northern identity”. “There’s no party,” he said. “Spreading northern culture is part of my role in the League”. Bossi stepped down as Northern League chief in April last year amid a corruption probe but was given the honorary title of president as Roberto Maroni, now the governor of Lombardy, took over the party leadership. (photo: Roberto Maroni, left, and Umberto Bossi)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Renzi’s Rise Seems Irresistible But New Rival Seen

Fabrizio Barca presents renewal platform for PD and govt

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Matteo Renzi’s seemingly irresistible rise to the top of the Democratic Party (PD) was corroborated by opinion polls Friday, even as a potential future rival, government minister Fabrizio Barca, threw down the gauntlet by unveiling a platform to reform both the PD and Italian government at large. The youthful Renzi’s popularity is now twice that of the three much older leaders who emerged in a virtual tie from February’s inconclusive general election, the SWG polling agency said. The outspoken Florence mayor is unequivocally the rising star in the PD, led by Pier Luigi Bersani, who came first in the election but failed to get a majority in the Senate.

In SWG’s poll the 38-year-old Tuscan administrator clocked a rating of 56% compared to 27% for all three of the leaders who have failed to agree on a government 45 days after the vote: the 61-year-old Bersani, 76-year-old centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi, the close runner-up, and 64-year-old anti-establishment comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo.

Grillo’s M5S movement holds the balance of power in the hung parliament while Bersani and Berlusconi have been sparring for 45 days over the ex-premier’s proposal for a left-right ‘grand coalition’.

Renzi’s standing has grown since he publicly urged the PD and Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party to strike a deal or go back to the polls, while Bersani has been hurt by a perceived insistence on wanting a precarious PD-led minority government, amid rising tensions within the centre-left party.

More than half of Italians, 55%, now want Renzi to take over from Bersani as PD leader, SWG said.

Some 40% of PD voters said the same thing.

Only 10% of the general electorate and 29% of the party think Bersani, leader of the old guard Renzi has openly campaigned to “scrap”, should stay on as PD leader.

Amid media speculation the PD might split, Bersani has denied meddling with Tuscan PD voting to deny Renzi a post as one of the electors of the next Italian president starting next Thursday.

PD ‘old guard’ figurehead Massimo D’Alema, an ex-premier, met with Renzi Thursday and said it was a “mistake” to stop the mayor becoming a ‘grand elector’ in the poll to replace Giorgio Napolitano.

Bersani, D’Alema and Renzi have insisted the PD will not break up.

Renzi said Thursday night he would not form his own party and would not leave the PD, “not even if they try to kick me out”.

As the Renzi-Bersani spat dominated the news this week, outgoing Territorial Cohesion Minister Barca, 59, sneaked quietly onto the scene Thursday night after speculation he might run for the PD leadership.

Barca took out membership of the PD late Thursday and on Friday released his plan to give Italy not only a new government, but a new form of government.

Barca has won praise for targeting funds as the minister whose brief is to bring Italy’s poorer South closer to the rich North since his appointment in November 2011 in the emergency technocrat government of Mario Monti.

“Every single experience of my 16 months of work…leads to this dry political conclusion: without a new form of (political) party, no one can govern Italy”, Barca said in presenting his platform to a media scrum in Rome.

The public distrusts the mainstream political parties and their “persistent failure of good government,” he said, in introducing the seven-chapter document that he has developed for a left-wing party that would be anchored in Italy’s Constitution.

Barca’s vision of the new party would be one that promises to make better use of public funds, instill stronger civic virtues, and would commit to urban renewal.

The Italian media have been speculated for weeks that Barca, a long-time economy ministry advisor who first made his name in the early 1990s as one of then-premier Carlo Azeglio Ciampi’s young gurus, might provide an alternative to Renzi.

Barca, the son of a heavyweight in the old Italian Communist Party (PCI), one of the precursors of the PD, joined the party Thursday night.

For now he has said he is only aiming to become a voice on the party executive.

But observers see him as a possible alternative successor to leader Pier Luigi Bersani, who is being increasingly challenged by the younger, more dynamic, media-savvy and centrist Renzi. Barca said he had sent his “document” to both Bersani and Renzi, as well as the leader of the other main party in the centre-left coalition, Nichi Vendola of Left, Ecology and Freedom (SEL). “I hope personal ambitions do not prevail or pollute the party’s efforts, I hope a debate about ideas and not personalities will be opened on this text,” he said.

Barca’s announcement came as Napolitano said that the 10 experts he asked to prepare a government programme capable of winning cross-party support had found “common ground”.

Napolitano asked for the parties to show “good will” in agreeing to implement all or part of it — although he stressed the task of shepherding the next government into office, or callling a snap vote, would fall to his successor.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Might Back Centre-Left President if Deal on Govt

Ex-premier ready ‘to discuss’ possibility of PD head of state

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has said he might be willing to consider backing a candidate from the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) if it drops its refusal to form a broad government coalition with his People of Freedom (PdL) party.

Italy has been in a state of political deadlock since February’s inconclusive general election because centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani has rejected the PdL’s calls for it to form a grand coalition.

Bersani, whose alliance finished ahead of Berlusconi’s coalition in the vote but did not win a working majority in the Senate, failed in a bid to win support from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) that holds the balance of power in parliament.

As well as working out a way to break the impasse, the parties must also choose a successor to President Giorgio Napolitano, whose seven-year term ends next month.

“We are certainly ready to discuss it,” Berlusconi said in an interview published in Friday’s edition of Rome-based daily La Repubblica when asked about the possibility of a PD member being the next president.

“But when we spoke to the (PD) secretary (Bersani this week), we did not name any names.

“But if we agree on a road for the Quirinale (presidential palace), on the other hand we also have to find a agreement for a broad coalition executive with ministers chosen together.

Otherwise nothing”. Bersani has repeated said he is willing to talk to the PdL and the other parties to try to reach a consensus candidate to be Napolitano’s successor, while stressing the negotiations should remain separate from the issue of forming a new executive. Berlusconi added that he would not seek an “amnesty” that would free him from legal problems that include a four-year prison term he is appealing for fraud at his media empire and a trial into allegations he paid for sex with an underage prostitute.

He said he did not need any such measure as he was confident of acquittal on all counts even if the cases reach the supreme court.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Farewell Chianti: Mediterranean Wines Move to the North

Research, climate change will affect vines in traditional areas

Climate change affects temperatures and rainfall, endangering wine producing areas of the Med

(ANSAmed) — ROME, April 9 — Within a few decades the majority of the wine producing areas in the Mediterranean, which are famous from anything from Chianti to Burgundy, could simply disappear, usurped by unknown regions in the Netherlands or Denmark.

Great Britain has already managed to produce Champagne as wine production increasingly shifts to northern regions, where alcohol content is higher. The damage could be wide ranging, US conservation experts warn in a new report, not only for those losing crops but also for the ecosystems that will be invaded by rows of vines. In a study published by scientific body PNAS by Conservation International, an NGO in Virginia, researchers tested 17 different climatic models to see which areas would lose the ability to cultivate vines because of higher temperatures and lower rainfall, and which would become more suitable for the plants.

The analysis showed that top wine producing regions would be drastically reduced, with California shedding 60%, Chile 25%, and Australia 73%.

The average loss on an individual model in the Euro-Mediterranean area is predicted at 68% but doomsayers think it could hit as high as 86%.

In this scenario say the authors of the study, wine production would move further north onto higher ground. This is already happening in Europe, including in Italy, with Champagne.

In northern European areas wine production is set to shoot up by 99%; in New Zealand by 168%, and in North America by 231% “One of the potential strategies for wine producers could be to move production to these more favorable areas. But this would have a serious impact on ecosystems”, say the authors. “Vineyards impact strongly on water resources, and they need fertilizers and pesticides. They also have a low ecological value for native species and are visited more frequently than those non-native”. ßSome effects of climate change on grapes have already been noticed, such as increased sugar levels in the berry, which leads to a greater gradation of the wine, and a decrease in acidity, which causes flavor loss.

Measures which have been put in place to combat these changes, such as using more resistant strains of vines, new irrigation methods and reducing exposure to the sun may not be enough. British Champagne and Cabernet produced in the Canadian province of British Columbia by ‘Burrowing Owl’, could soon become the norm.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Arsenic Outside Rome a ‘True Emergency’ Says Health Minister

Balduzzi says no time to waste fixing drinking water

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Italy’s health minister on Friday said that high arsenic levels in drinking water in 50 cities and towns in the Lazio region around Rome amounted to a “true emergency”. “We cannot wait any longer for a solution,” Renato Balduzzi told ANSA. In January authorities banned drinking public water in 32 areas of Lazio, mainly around the city of Viterbo north of Rome after arsenic levels were found to be over the European Union limit of 10 micrograms per liter. On Friday a study showed that the level of arsenic found in people who have drunk water in and around Viterbo is twice that found among the general population of Italy. “Great concentrations have been found in children,” said the report from the Higher Health Institute (ISS), which examined residents of Viterbo and 16 nearby towns. Lower risks were found in people using public water in Rome and Latina, two other Lazio provincial capitals, the ISS said. The World Health Organisation says arsenic can cause cancer and the EU set limits on its presence in drinking water in 2001.

After the data was announced Friday, Balduzzi held a snap meeting with newly elected Lazio Governor Nicola Zingaretti. “We will launch urgent measures to confront this emergency facing the population around Viterbo,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Prisoners at High Risk of Mental Illness in Italy

Depression, suicide potential up to nine times higher

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — As many as one third of prison inmates are at high risk of developing a mental illness, said psychiatrists gathered for a conference Friday.

About 20,000 of the 70,000 inmates in Italian prisons have developed diseases such as psychosis, depression, severe anxiety, and bipolar disorder, say the experts gathered for a national congress of young psychiatrists.

Some were mentally unwell before prison; others developed disorders once inside what some have described as “hell,” according to the psychiatrists.

Early investments in mental health — before people become so ill that they commit crimes and wind up in jail — would be money well spent, the experts say.

The statistics show “everything that happens after years of neglect on the part of Italian mental health services, and this is the bill that must be paid,” said Claudio Mencacci, president of the Italian Society of Psychiatry.

In fact, prison inmates are nine times more likely to attempt suicide than in the general Italian population — and that rate is quickly climbing.

Since 1960, a 300% increase in prison suicides has been reported.

Guards dealing with prisoners are also becoming less mentally healthy, the experts say: between 2000 and 2011, 68 suicides were reported among Italian prison workers.

Overcrowding in prisons contributes to the problem.

Italian prisons are among the most crowded in Europe, with as many as 150 inmates per 100 beds, compared with an average of 107 in the rest of Europe.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Compensation Culture Gone Mad’: Police Officer Awarded £10,000 Payout After Falling Off a Chair on the London Underground

A police officer was paid £10,000 compensation after falling off a chair on London Underground premises, it was revealed today.

In total Transport for London has been forced to pay out £4.76million to people injured on tube trains, buses and train station platforms across the capital over the last three years.

Details of the award to the British Transport Police officer were released after it emerged Norfolk Police officer Kelly Jones is suing a petrol station owner for £50,000 because she allegedly tripped while responding to a 999 call.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: £6 Million Mosque Among Schemes Set for West Ealing

MAJOR changes planned for West Ealing will include a £6million mosque. Community group West Ealing Neighbours has highlighted several schemes currently in the works for the area, based either on or just off the Uxbridge Road,

In January this year, Ealing Council’s planning committee gave permission for West London Islamic Centre, which is based in West Ealing, to build the multi-storey facility on the corner of Brownlow Road and Singapore Road. The website for WLIC says that the facility will cost about £6m to build and money for the project is coming from a variety of sources, including fundraising. So far more than £1m has been raised for the project…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Anti-Racism: An Industry in Decline

by Damian Thompson

Like coal mining in the Eighties, the anti-racism industry is in decline. Governments can no longer afford to subsidise “diversity workshops” for which there’s no demand. Especially from young people. On both sides of the Atlantic, teenagers and students are giving the finger (as they might put it) to the hypersensitive race relations ideology drilled into them by their teachers. They laugh at jokes that, a decade ago, would have been regarded as racist. If, after a few drinks, one of their friends crosses the line into ethnic stereotyping, they’re more like to argue with them than to notify the campus police…

[Reader comment by bob3 on 13 April 2013 at 3:55 am.]

Nobody has told the BBC, its a handy tool for them when anyone needs purging.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Anarchists ‘Attacked Conservative Club to Celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s Death’

Militant anarchists have claimed that they carried out an attack on a Conservative Club to “celebrate” the death of Baroness Thatcher.

Vandals threw bricks through two windows of the building in the Fishponds area of Bristol early today. Bev Griffin, 62, who runs the Conservative Club, said the deliberate damage was “obviously” triggered by the former prime minister’s death and voiced fears that there could be more violence around her funeral on Wednesday. “We had already been warned by the police and we knew we were going to get something. It was just a matter of when it was going to happen,” he said.

A group of self-described “unruly anarchists” claimed responsibility for the attack and called for further “riotous” protests on Saturday…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: BBC ‘Tying Itself in Knots’ Over Song Mocking Baroness Thatcher’s Death

The BBC has been accused of “tying itself in knots” after agreeing to play a five second clip of a song mocking the death of Baroness Thatcher days before her funeral.

After 48-hours of deliberations the corporation said it had been caught between a “rock and a hard place” after the Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead reached number three in the charts. The 51-second song, from the Wizard of Oz, has sold more than 20,000 copies following a campaign by those celebrating the death of Lady Thatcher…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Burglary Victim Uses Spy App to Photograph People Using His Stolen Laptop… But Police Won’t Get it Back Because It’s Now in Iran

When an illustrator’s laptop was stolen from his London home, he was convinced he would be reunited with it thanks to a secret tracking application he had installed.

But even though the software worked perfectly, his hopes were dashed when it revealed that his computer was more than 3,000 miles away in Iran.

Six weeks after Dom Del Torto’s home in Islington was burgled, his laptop began transmitting ‘spy photos’ of its new owners…

Unknown to Mr Del Torto, though, the Iranian family had bought their new laptop in Tehran unaware that it had been stolen.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Convicted Rapist Who Was Allowed to Move to Britain From Lithuania… Viciously Attacked Woman in Street Just a Month After Arriving

[WARNING: ** Disturbing Content **]

A Lithuanian who was allowed to come to Britain despite being convicted of rape in his home country attacked another woman within a month of arriving.

Gintas Burinskas, 36, walked into Britain unchecked just three months after he was released from a ten-year jail term.

Weeks later, he travelled to Northampton where he dragged a woman off the street and violently assaulted her.

A court heard Burinskas throttled the 31-year-old so hard she passed out before dragging her to a wooded area nearby where he raped her.

Charities and politicians reacted with outrage after it emerged he could be freed on parole in a little over three years.

And they demanded to know why Burinskas was admitted into the country in the first place.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Ding Dong! Maggie’s Gone! But the Hatred Keeps on Coming

In only a few days since the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the Wizard of Oz song ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’ has approached the top of the UK singles music chart. It is meant as a direct insult to, and commentary on, the late Conservative leader. Despite having stepped out of party and governmental leadership 23 years earlier, her detractors are still outraged at her so much so that a campaign to make this song Britain’s best seller is likely to succeed…

And this is a deeper problem not just confined to Britain, but can be seen around the world. From the Greeks who violently seek to prevent necessary austerity to the American Left who can’t wait to put the country down the same track in the name of entitlement; nations are taking on debt and obligations that they will not be able to sustain…

Protests against Thatcher have stemmed principally from left-wing and working-class strongholds. Many of those involved are too young to remember her, but have been spoon fed hatred and taught that she is the reason for every problem they have today.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Ex-Miners to Join the Anti-Thatcher Protesters in Trafalgar Square

Hundreds of police on standby as students, socialists and anarchists prepare to mark former prime minister’s death

Former miners who say Margaret Thatcher decimated their communities will be joining socialists, travellers, students and anti-capitalist protesters at a demonstration against her legacy in Trafaglar Square on Saturday. A delegation of ex-miners from Durham is due to attend the protest with the north-east area banner and others are expected to travel from former mining heartlands in Yorkshire and Wales. The event, due to start at 6pm, being promoted through various Facebook groups, has gathered momentum this week as the row over Thatcher’s legacy has turned increasingly sour…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Football Fans Vow to Confront Anti-Thatcher Demonstrators

Police are preparing for violent scenes tomorrow after football fans vowed to confront anti-Thatcher protesters during a day of protest across the capital.

Officers will have to deal with three protests by left-wing groups, including an event to “celebrate” the death of Baroness Thatcher in Trafalgar Square, as 50,000 football fans head into central London following the FA Cup semi-final between Millwall and Wigan. Some fans from Millwall have threatened to confront the anti-Thatcher protesters. The public have been warned to avoid central London.

Tomorrow night thousands have vowed to hold a party to celebrate the death of Baroness Thatcher in Trafalgar Square.

On the same day, UK Uncut, the anti-austerity protest group, have promised to hold a day of “civil disobedience” in protest to reforms to welfare, in which they will “evict” the “architects of austerity”. It could mean the homes of Cabinet ministers are targeted. And separately, the TUC is leading a march from 11am of “one thousand mothers” against benefit cuts in Tottenham — the scene of the worst disorder in London eighteen months ago…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Margaret Thatcher: I Vow to Thee, My Country

Lady Thatcher planned her own funeral, right down to the hymns, writes Michael Deacon.

In death as in life, Margaret Thatcher remains firmly in charge. The woman whose premiership was marked by ramrod certainty and whipcrack decision-making had, it turns out, a characteristically needle-sharp idea about how her funeral must proceed. Today, the details of that idea emerge. From the singing of I Vow to Thee, My Country to the choice of readings, every aspect of the occasion will reflect some part of Baroness Thatcher’s character: her love of Britain, her Christian faith, her belief in tradition…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Margaret Thatcher: A Woman Who Was First Among Equals

by Charles Moore

Margaret Thatcher did more than simply change Britain in the 1980s. Her influence on the way in which British politics are conducted endures today. Charles Moore examines how she showed the men around her a new way to govern

When David Cameron became the leader of the Conservative Party, he gave his opening interview on the BBC Today programme. John Humphrys remarked that this was the first time he had interviewed a party leader who was not wearing a tie. This statement was false. Humphrys had interviewed Margaret Thatcher.

One should never forget the importance of the most obvious fact about Mrs Thatcher — that she was Britain’s first woman prime minister. It made everything different. It meant public interest was feverish, and public recognition was certain. She stood out at once, without having to try, from all the suits around her. All over the world people wanted to see what the first woman was wearing and how she looked. They wanted to hear her voice, find out about her family life, learn where she shopped and what she cooked. Like corgis with the Queen or the cigar with Winston Churchill, the handbag became the trademark. In fact, it was much more important than those other totems, because it was also the symbol of her power — of female power…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Mastermind Behind Plans to Disrupt Thatcher Funeral is Oxford Student Whose Parents Live in £700,000 House in Tunbridge Wells

Protesters plan to disrupt Baroness Thatcher’s funeral by turning their backs on the funeral cortege as it passes.

Thousands of people are supporting the plot as the eyes of millions of people turn on St Paul’s Cathedral next Wednesday.

The architect of the protest is Dominic Francis, 25, whose parents live in a £700,000 home in Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Mr Francis, a student at Ruskin College in Oxford, said mourners had brought the disturbance on themselves by holding such a public event.

He was urging protests with a ‘heavy heart’ because of the ‘State funding’ of the huge ceremonial event.

Mr Francis said the action would be peaceful, adding: ‘I support that her mourners should be allowed to grieve in peace. But when they decided to hold a State-funded, large ceremony like that, they open themselves up to public criticism.’

[Comment: Ruskin College is NOT part of Oxford University. It exists for adults who wouldn’t have managed university and I think is known as the University for the Trades Unions, Didn’t the the verbally (and mentally) challenged Prescott get his “degree” there? Tells all. — bewick , northumberland, United Kingdom, ]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Now Sainsbury’s and M&S Tear Up ‘Frankenfeed’ Ban Leaving Waitrose Going it Alone

Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op yesterday ended bans on giving ‘Frankenstein Feed’ to farm animals producing meat, milk and eggs.

The three retailers were the last of the big food chains to be holding out against the use of controversial GM crops on their farms.

The change means that the vast majority of meat, milk and eggs sold by Britain’s supermarkets will come from animals raised on a GM diet. Alarmingly, none of these products will be labelled as coming from GM-fed animals in what critics call a disaster for consumer choice.

GM crop farming has been shown to harm bees, butterflies and other insects in UK trials and on farms across the US, where many have become blighted with superweeds.

In 2011, a team of doctors in Canada found that toxins implanted into GM food crops to kill pests were reaching the bloodstreams of women and unborn babies.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Open Day at Nelson Mosque

NELSON mosque Ghausia is to hold a unique open day next Wednesday featuring interactive stalls on various facets of Islam, including sacred relics and information on the Prophet Muhammad. Raja Qasim, project manager, said: “Historians have done a remarkable job of preserving the life and conduct of the Prophet Muhammad. We are using this opportunity to introduce visitors to things such as the type of food he would eat and the type of clothes he wore.”

Visitors will get a tour of the building and its facilities, and the chance to voice their thoughts and opinions in an honest, open and friendly environment. Mr Qasim said: “Despite the mosque’s open-door policy, very few people take the opportunity to drop in. The open day is an attempt to demonstrate what goes on here, and to show people that we are happy to receive guests at any time of the year.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Soft Porn Model, 19, Let Off Wearing Ankle Tag for Criminal Damage Conviction ‘Because it Would Interfere With Her TV Work’

An adult TV star convicted of vandalism was let off from wearing an electronic tag on her ankle — because it would ruin her on-screen work.

Sophie Dalzell, 19, was placed on a curfew and ordered to wear a tag for eight weeks after failing to carry out community service.

But when security firm G4S turned up to fit the tag she refused to let them put it on. She told them ‘appearance is everything’ on adult TV — and that she would be sacked if she turned up to work with a plastic tag on her ankle.

Incredibly, when the presenter was hauled back to court, she successfully appealed against having the tag fitted after explaining it would compromise her career.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Thatcher Death Parties — an Embarrassment to Britain in the Eyes of the World

by Ed West

In the Kent town where my parents live there lie still the remains of three Germans who, having been shot down in the Blitz, were buried with full honours by the people they were trying to kill. Long after the war the townspeople continued to care for their graves and tend to them.

Those Germans were the townspeople’s enemies. They were trying to kill them. In contrast Margaret Thatcher, to those now celebrating her death, was an opponent. There is a crucial difference, one that seems to be lost on many people, which is what makes the planned street parties disturbing, as well as saddening and embarrassing. It’s one of the easiest things in the world for politicians or journalists to say a single, even freak event, represents some new societal change, but the celebrating over Thatcher’s death is fairly unprecedented…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Why is Cameron Letting Labour, Which Last Won 29% of the Vote, Gain 77% of the Appointments?

by Paul Goodman

Before Margaret Thatcher, the following was true as a rough rule of thumb. The arts leaned left, as now. The armed forces, the judges, the police and even, arguably, the teaching profession leaned right. The civil service was somewhere in the middle. In short, the left’s “long march through the institutions” hadn’t gathered pace. The EEC had not yet become the European Union, and the European Court of Human Rights was a distant presence.

Today, the judges certainly don’t lean left, and nor do the police. That some of the main organisers of the anti-Thatcher protests are teachers helps to show how the ethos and culture of the profession has changed. The Militant Tendency used to dream of nationalising “the commanding heights of the economy”. It failed to do so, but it’s scarcely an exaggeration to say that the Left is squatting on the commanding heights of culture.

Centre-right politicians shouldn’t tell artists what to write or judges what to think but, if they govern, they should at least ensure that those appointed to public bodies are broadly representative of voters as a whole. As Matthew Elliott pointed out at the recent ConservativeHome Victory 2015 Conference, the proportion of Labour supporters appointed to quangoes under David Cameron has reached a record high. Matthew wrote recently on this site: “We also need to take care not to act as a head hunter for Labour. Under the last Labour Government, the proportion of politically active public appointees aligned to the Labour Party increased from 32%, to almost 75%, according to the Cabinet Office. Yet despite the change of Government in 2010, that figure was 77% in 2011/12.”

Why, Matthew asked, does New Economics Foundation got roughly £300,000 from the taxpayer? Why has the Foreign Office given £190,000 to Bruegel, “a fervently pro-European think tank in Brussels”. Why are over 3000 trade unions, through “the excessive subsidy of facility time”, given the boots on the ground it needs to organise protests against the Government and campaign at election time?


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Vatican: Pope Francis Embodies the Saint Who Talked Peace With Muslims

by Aziz Junejo

Now as pope, Francis Bergoglio has made one of his earliest requests: for the Catholic Church to intensify dialogue with Islam. It’s a sincere gesture and one I believe Muslims are eager to embrace…

[JP note: Plus catholique que le pape.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Chief Perpetrator in Cathedral Incidents Arrested — Security Source

Security bodies on Thursday arrested a chief perpetrator in last Sunday’s Cathedral violence which left two people dead and scores injured, a senior security source said. Legal procedures are being taken against the accused, the state news agency reported the source as saying. Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim had ordered the formation of a search team to arrest perpetrators in the cathedral’s clashes. Clashes had broke out last Sunday in Cairo’s Ramses Street outside the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abbasiya during a funeral for Copts who were killed last weekend in sectarian violence.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Egypt’s Coptic Christians Live in Fear of Islamic Extremists

The group has long faced persecution, but many feel the aggression is now more systematic. ‘They set a Christian man on fire the other day,’ a woman says near Cairo.

Cairo — The Mass was celebrated as if from centuries past: A bearded priest veiled in incense chanted for grace in a church along the Nile, near the spot where Christians believe Jesus and his mother sought refuge in an earlier age of bloodshed and uncertainty. Marianne Samir knelt and prayed for the Coptic Christians killed in a spasm of sectarian violence that has further shaken a nation engulfed in economic and political anxieties. “I feel unsafe,” said Samir, a high school philosophy teacher with a cross tattooed on her wrist. “The Islamists want war. They want strife. But this is our land too. It is a country blessed by God, and there’s no way we’ll leave it to them.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Israel, The Little Nation That Could, Part 2

The present Middle East conflict is said to be about Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, which Israel refuses to give up; but this simply is not true. Truth be told, the 2003 Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research revealed that only ten percent of those questioned expressed any desire whatsoever to return to supposedly “occupied” territories.[3]

Hamas’ founding documents insist, “The war is open until Israel ceases to exist and until the last Jew in the world is eliminated” — not until Palestinians are safe-and-sound in their supposed homeland. Former President Akbar (meaning “the greatest”) Hashemi Rafsanjani explained Islamic fundamentalism’s “Grand Design” as follows: In uniting all Islamic nations under the leadership of a coalition led by Iran and Syria, the West first must be driven from out of the Middle East, thus “liberating” Palestine. Next, the Judeo-Christian World Order must be supplanted with an Islamic one. [4]

The bottom line is to impose seventh-century Islamic cultural imperialism. It is not to “liberate Palestine.” Throughout the first two decades of Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel controlled neither the West Bank of the Jordan, nor the Gaza strip. After the 1948 war, when Jordan annexed the West Bank, and Egypt annexed the Gaza strip, no Arab outrage ensued. Yet the war against Israel continued.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Vinitaly: Salesians Bring Solidarity Wines From Bethlehem

Palestinian and Italian enologists, Muslim and Christian workers

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 8 — Among the 4,200 participants at the Vinitaly international wine salon opening yesterday in Verona is the Cremisan cellar, founded by the Salesian fathers in Bethlehem and relaunched with the help of Italian wine experts and enologists. Located 5 kms from Bethlehem and 12 kms from Jerusalem, the winemaker’s history dates back to 1863, when a missionary from the northern Italian region of Liguria, Father Antonio Belloni, bought four lots of land and began producing wine on them, in the process providing a livelihood for both Muslim and Christian Palestinian families.

Today the 20-hectare vineyard is divided by the Israeli wall, with the two estates of Cremisan and Beit Jemal producing wine under the Cremisan label thanks to the help of volunteers and technicians. Among these is world-renowned enologist Riccardo Cotarella, dubbed “the king of Italian enolgists”. He has been working on relaunching the winemaker via an NGO called International Volunteers for Development (VIS), which has the twin aims of safeguarding indigenous and historically relevant varietals, and of improving the lives of the Arab population living in the area between Jerusalem, Beit Jemal and Bethlehem. “We are committed to improving the cellar’s infrastructure, and to producing quality wines by privileging autochthonous varietals grown by Palestinian farmers”, Cotarella told ANSAmed in an interview. “Italian producers and wine lovers donated materials and equipment, thanks to which we were able to renovate the cellar completely, giving Cremisan the means to produce absolutely respectable wines”.

Producing about 180,000 bottles a year, the Salesian Fathers’ cellar had its debut at the 2010 edition of Vinitaly, in an effort to spread the word about Cremisan. This year they are participating with a complete range of products made from autochthonous grapes, including white varietals such as Dabouki and Hamdani Jandali, reds such as Baladi and Betouni, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. “We sell our wines in situ, in neighboring countries, and now in Italy as well”, Cotarella said. “But as you can imagine, given the current situation we have enormous trouble exporting. Our aim is for people to find out about the very special production coming out of the Cremisan vineyards. The most important aspect is the message behind these wines: we brought these people not only an income, but also the ability to smile. Giving work to the Palestinian population, seeing Christians and Muslims working side by side, is a success in itself”. The Cremisan team includes two Italian managers — one overseeing the cellar, the other the vineyards — and two young Palestinian enologists, recent graduates from the Agrarian Institute at San Michele all’Adige, in the northern Trento region of Italy. Along with Hebron University, the Agrarian Institute has started a project for the study of autochthonous varietals.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Daniel Pipes: Support Assad

Analysts agree that “the erosion of the Syrian regime’s capabilities is accelerating,” that it step-by-step continues to retreat, making a rebel breakthrough and an Islamist victory increasingly likely. In response, I am changing my policy recommendation from neutrality to something that causes me, as a humanitarian and decades-long foe of the Assad dynasty, to pause before writing:

Western governments should support the malign dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.

Here is my logic for this reluctant suggestion: Evil forces pose less danger to us when they make war on each other. This (1) keeps them focused locally and it (2) prevents either one from emerging victorious (and thereby posing a yet-greater danger). Western powers should guide enemies to stalemate by helping whichever side is losing, so as to prolong their conflict.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dubai to Build Largest Gold Refinery in Mideast

Including mint for gold bars and coins

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, APRIL 8 — Dubai has long been a crossroads between the East and the West for precious metals, pearls and diamonds. The Kaloti Jewellery Group’s announced building of the largest gold refinery in the Middle East will ensure it remains so for a long time to come. Announced by the UAE-based Kaloti group, of Palestinian origins, the facilities will be among the ten largest in terms of production capacity in the world and will include a mint for gold ingots and coins on its 15,000 square-meter premises. The new facility will cost over 46 million euros and will be located in the Jumeira Lake Towers Free Zone, north of the Dubai emirate. It will have a production capacity of up to 1,400 tonnes of gold and 600 of silver per year. It is expected to open by the end of 2014. Souk al Dahab, the gold market which sprung up in the 1940s as a result of the bustling trade with India and Iran along the Creek, where the city of Dubai arose, remains to the present day a tourist and business attraction. Along the alleyways covered by wooden structures to offer some respite from the heat there are showcases upon showcases of jewelry with a total of 10 tonnes of gold at any given time. The market’s most sophisticated and tourist-targeted counterpart is the fairytale-atmosphere of the souk in the huge Dubai Mall.

There are also many other specialized centers, such as the Gold & Diamond Park. The United Arab Emirates have 130 business partners for the import of precious metals, and Dubai serves as a bridge with India, South-East Asia, Europe and Africa. Dubai has long borne the nicknames of “city of gold” due to its lively trade in the metal, with marked increases in 2003 and 2008. At the beginning of the past decade, the emirate registered 4.6 billion euros in the gold trade. In 2011, having got past the worst moment of the global financial crisis, its trade volume stood at 43 billion euros, with 25.3 billion in imports and 18 billion in exports.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Iran Plans ‘Islamic Google Earth’

Minister claims that Basir — Iran’s version of the 3D mapping service — will be ready for use ‘within next four months’

The Iranian authorities have long accused Google Earth of being a tool for western spy agencies, but now they have taken their attacks on the 3D mapping service one step further — by planning the launch of an “Islamic” competitor. Iran’s minister for information and communications technology, Mohammad Hassan Nami, announced this week that his country was developing what he described as an “Islamic Google Earth” to be called Basir (spectator in Farsi) which will be ready for use “within the next four months”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Syria: Gov’t Offensive in Homs Kills 20, With Hezbollah Help

The Guardian runs video of executed children in Khirbat Altin

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, APRIL 12 — Government air raids over the towns of Tall and Abu Huri killed at least 20 people, both rebels and civilians, between last night and today, eyewitnesses from the border town of Qusayr south-west of Homs told ANSA via Skype on Friday.

Syrian rebels have been fighting an unconfirmed number of pro-Assad Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militias, which have been operating in the area for months.

The Violations Documenting Center in Syria (VDC), which publishes updates on victims of the Syrian civil war in both Arabic and English, confirmed the deaths in Qusayr. Also on Friday, The Guardian newspaper published a video circulated by activists showing 11 bodies, at least six of them children including a baby, that appear to have been executed.

The massacre took place two days ago in Khirbat Altin, near Homs.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Islamic Emirate of Syriastan

PARIS — And now some breaking news coming from the Islamic Emirate of Syriastan. This program is brought to you by the NATOGCC corporation. Please also tune in for a word from our individual sponsors, the United States government, Britain, France, Turkey, the House of Saud and the Emir of Qatar…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Baku to Host Meeting of CIS Muslims Advisory Council

Azerbaijan, Baku, 12 April / Trend M. Aliyev / On April 16 — 17, Baku will host the second meeting of the Advisory Board of CIS Muslims and the scientific-practical conference on ‘CIS Muslims for peace and sustainable development’, the press service of the Caucasian Muslims Office (CMO) said on Friday…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: UN to Give $58mln in Aid Rural Households

Rome, 8 April 2013 — The United Nations will grant 58 million dollars to help farmers and their families Afghanistan boost the country’s under-developed agriculture sector, it said.

The grant agreement was signed on Monday at the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development headquarters in Rome by its president Kanayo F. Nwanze and Afghanistan’s ambassador to Italy Zia Nezam, IFAD said.

The project will aid 169,500 rural households in the provinces of Kabul, Parwan and Logar. It will focus on resettled and nomadic Kutchis as well as woman-headed households.

“It aims to increase the social and economic status of women by providing leadership and skills training to female producer groups,” IFAD said.

The grant will aim to boost agricultural and livestock productivity and improve small famers’ skills and their access to markets.

Female dairy workers will get technical assistance such as on the hygiene and care of young animals, and business training. Greenhouse development, vegetable processing, horticulture and forage production will also be taught.

War-wracked Afghanistan, which has seen three decades of conflict, is one of the poorest countries in the world, with more than 70 percent of the population considered at risk of undernourishment, according to the UN.

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

Afghan City Declared Capital of Islamic Culture, Civilization in 2013

GHAZNI, Afghanistan, April 13 (Xinhua) — A festival was opened Saturday in eastern Afghan city of Ghazni to declare the city, 125 km south of capital Kabul, as the capital of Islamic culture and civilization for the year 2013. “It is a matter of pride for Afghanistan that Ghazni is announced as the capital of Islamic culture and civilization in 2013,” Afghan Minister of Culture and Information Syed Makhdoom Raheen said in his opening remark. In a conference held in Tripoli, Libya in 2007 by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IESCO), Ghazni was chosen as the capital of Islamic culture and civilization…

[JP note: Looking forward to the rendition of the Donkey Bomb Ballet à la Balanchine.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Anguish of the Parents Who Came So Close to Saving Free-Spirited Sarah Who Went Off to Explore India

[WARNING: ** Disturbing Content **]

Sarah and De Wit were the only guests on the houseboat, in a stroke of appalling bad luck for her. De Wit had been regarded as odd for a long time, but by now he was psychotic.

In the Nineties, he became a councillor for an extreme Right-wing party in his home town of Ridderkerk. In 2000 he met his future wife, Uma Rupanya, while on holiday in Thailand. They had two daughters before marrying in November 2002.

Over the last two years or so, De Wit had been showing increasing signs of paranoia. He was under psychiatric care and taking anti-psychotic medication. Last October, he abandoned his wife and children to go travelling. In a video posted on YouTube from Zurich in December last year, De Wit said he had been receiving psychiatric treatment, but believed his doctors had been acting on behalf of the security services to spy on him and others.

He claimed to have been visited by intelligence agents who believed he was a far-Right republican posing a threat to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

De Wit was quite clearly deranged, though whether his doctors made any attempts to locate him after his disappearance is not known.

This week, his wife said he had stopped taking his anti-psychotic medication and had begun smoking cannabis.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Burma Riots: Muslim Gold Shop Workers Jailed

A court in Burma has sentenced three Muslims to 14 years in jail for their role in communal violence that has left more than 40 dead.

The owner of a gold shop, his wife, and an employee, were convicted of theft and assault on Thursday, reports said.

A dispute at the gold shop in Meiktila is thought to have triggered deadly clashes between Burma’s Muslim and Buddhist communities. The violence spread to other towns and led to curfews being imposed. More than 12,000 Muslims have been displaced from their homes since the clashes began on 20 March. Whole Muslim neighbourhoods have been destroyed.

The row at the shop was said to have started over a gold hair clip. A fight broke out, and the store owner reportedly beat a Buddhist customer on the head. This was followed by an attack on a Buddhist monk, who died later in the town hospital.

News of the incidents sparked off sustained communal violence, and a state of emergency was imposed in Meiktila and three other towns…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Taliban Attack Highly Regarded Afghan Army Unit

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents dealt a serious blow to one of the Afghan Army’s most highly regarded units on Friday, killing 13 soldiers and overrunning their remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Ten-Year-Old Indian Girl ‘Kept in Police Cell Overnight and Facing Death Threats From Neighbours’ After Making Rape Complaint

[WARNING: ** Disturbing Content **]

A 10-year-old Indian girl who was allegedly raped by a neighbour was locked in a cell overnight by police when her family tried to report the crime.

The girl was reportedly found barely conscious following the attack close to her home in a village a two hour drive from Delhi last weekend.

Her family are now facing death threats and being told to withdraw the complaint.

Mother of ten Saroj sent two of her six daughters — the younger of the two aged five — to buy vegetables for the family’s evening meal on Sunday, according to The Times.

When the pair were on their way home, the older sister was abducted by a man who was following them.

The younger of the two girls is said to have run home to tell her parents who found the ten-year-old 100 yards from home.

The girl’s detention by police has led to an outcry over police oversensitivity and officers have arrested a 29-year-old man from a higher caste on suspicion of rape in response to media pressure.

But since the man’s arrest the family, who are one of four classed as Dalit, a group of people regarded as ‘untouchable’, have been threatened by members of the higher Rajput class.

Saroj told the Indian Express: ‘They are blaming us saying why did we let her go out alone.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Who Gave North Korea Nukes in the First Place?

Amidst reports that North Korea now has nuclear-equipped ballistic missiles as experts warn a conflict on the Korean peninsular is more likely than not, it’s important to remember who armed North Korea with nuclear weapons in the first place — namely the U.S. government and the CIA…

Both the Clinton and Bush administrations played a key role in helping the late Kim Jong-Il develop North Korea’s nuclear prowess from the mid 1990s onwards.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld presided over a $200 million dollar contract to deliver equipment and services to build two light water reactor stations in North Korea in January 2000 when he was an executive director of ABB (Asea Brown Boveri). Wolfram Eberhardt, a spokesman for ABB confirmed that Rumsfeld was at nearly all the board meetings during his involvement with the company.

Rumsfeld was merely picking up the baton from the Clinton administration, who in 1994 agreed to replace North Korea’s domestically built nuclear reactors with light water nuclear reactors. Clinton policy wonks claimed that light water reactors couldn’t be used to make bombs. Not so according to Henry Sokolski, head of the Non-proliferation Policy Education Center in Washington, who stated, “LWRs could be used to produce dozens of bombs’ worth of weapons-grade plutonium in both North Korea and Iran. This is true of all LWRs — a depressing fact U.S. policymakers have managed to block out.”

“These reactors are like all reactors, they have the potential to make weapons. So you might end up supplying the worst nuclear violator with the means to acquire the very weapons we’re trying to prevent it acquiring,” said Sokolski…

Despite Dutch authorities being deeply suspicious of Khan’s activities as far back as 1975, the CIA prevented the Dutch from arresting him on two separate occasions.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mauritania: 6 Mln Euros From EU for Tranport System

To improve planning and road safety

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 12 — The EU on Friday agreed to provide Mauritania with six million euros to improve its transportation system.

Mauritanian Economics Minister Sidi Ould Tah and EU ambassador to Nouakchott, Hans-Georg Gerstenlauer, signed the deal under the 10th European development fund conventions.

The funds will go to improving transportation planning and road safety. Mauritania has in the past eight years spent considerable amounts on its transportation sector and enacted reforms in 2007, Gerstenlauer told reporters on the sidelines of the signing.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Abdulkadir — “Everyone is Desirous of an End to This Conflict”

An audio message purportedly from the leader of the Islamist militant sect Boko Haram, says the group would reject a government offer of an amnesty.

In a 30-minute audio message in the Hausa language of Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north, Abubakar Shekau rejected the idea of a potential amnesty, which the country’s presidency said it would study in a bid to curb a bloody insurgency.

Last week the Nigerian government set up a committee to investigate the feasibility of an amnesty for members of Boko Haram. Elders have been pressing President Goodluck Jonathan to pardon the militants.

DW: Do you think the views of Abubakar Shekau reflect opinions inside Boko Haram?

Tukur Abdulkadir: The problem with the group is that very many splinter groups have emerged so it is very difficult for an analyst to pin down the reality of the infighting or the politics surrounding Boko Haram. Not long ago, some members of Boko Haram addressed the press in Maiduguri and they declared their readiness to go into dialogue with the federal government with a view to putting an end to the blood-letting in the country. A few days after the press conference the Abubakar Shekaku group came and disassociated itself from the group (in Maiduguri). This shows there is a rift between the ranks of the Boko Haram at the moment…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Amnesty’s Ultimate Results: Poverty Ensured for Low Income Americans

Everything about a mass amnesty allowing 20 million illegal aliens instant citizenship smoulders under a cloak of hidden agendas in Washington, DC. At present, eight U.S. senators negotiate the future of our country. Not only will they allow illegality by making it legal, they will increase legal immigration from its current 1.2 million annually to as high as 3.1 million annually. In other words, they will swamp this country with third world immigrants from every corner of the globe.

Few Americans realize that demographic experts project the United States adding 100 million more people by 2035 and 138 million people, net gain, to reach 438 million by 2050 — a scant 37 years from now.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Brazil to Seek Neighbors’ Help to Stem Illegal Immigrants

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 12 (Xinhua) — Brazil will seek the help of Peru and Bolivia to prevent the influx of illegal immigrants through routes in the two neighboring countries, a top presidential aide said Friday. Gilberto Carvalho, secretary general of the Office of the Presidency, said the government would ask its two northern neighbors to take necessary steps to stem the rise of undocumented Haitians entering Brazil along its northern border…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italy: House Speaker Calls for More Investments for Refugees

‘Important nation like Italy can help asylum-seekers’

(ANSA) — Turin, April 10 — Italian House Speaker Laura Boldrini on Wednesday called for the eurozone’s third-largest economy to boost investments it makes in Sprar, a network helping asylum-seekers managed by local authorities.

“An important nation like Italy can deal with large influxes of refugees,” she said. “It is able to do so as long as it structures itself properly, investing more in Sprar”.

Boldrini made the comments in Turin, where she met with representatives of the local town administration as well as 15 associations that assist immigrants.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Serial Egyptian ‘Bicyle’ Rapist Jailed for 20 Years

Milan, 11 April (AKI) — A judge in the northern city of Milan on Thursday sentenced Egyptian immigrant Sameh El Melegy to 20 years in prison for the rapes of 20 women, most of whom he rode up to from behind on his bicyle.

Judge Antonella Bertoja also fined El Melegy for stealing some of his victims’ handbags and their contents and ordered him to pay 10,000 euros to the city council for damaging Milan’s image.

El Melegy almost invariably attacked his victims after dark. He committed the rapes over a three-year period in various areas of the city and his victims were aged 22 to 50.

Mobile phones and credit cards belonging to the women recovered by police at El Melegy’s flat were used to incriminate him as well as DNA evidence.

Milan’s public prosecutor Gianluca Prisco had asked for a jail term of 122 years for El Melegy.

Bertoja ruled that under Italy’s penal code, El Melegy could be jailed for a maximum of 30 years, but sentenced him to 20 years due to his choice of a fast-track trial.

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

UK: Princess Diana Fund Cynically Hijacked by the Left: How Money is Being Diverted to Pro-Immigration Campaign Fund

The Princess Diana Memorial Fund, to which millions of her admirers donated money, has been hijacked by Left-wingers to fund a pro-immigration propaganda campaign.

Directors of the charity set up a secretive project called Changing Minds and then channelled hundreds of thousands of pounds into a string of associated organisations.

The aim of the scheme is to alter British attitudes to immigration — which are currently in favour of far stricter border controls.

Among some of its most successful achievements, it lists the establishment of a new ‘independent’ think-tank — criticised by a Labour MP as a front for Left-wing views on immigration.


The Diana Fund was established within days of Diana’s death in 1997, in response to the unprecedented outpouring of public grief.

Its coffers were filled with £38million from the sale of the Elton John record Candle in the Wind (Goodbye England’s Rose) — which sold five million copies in the UK alone. Another £34million was raised from individual donations from a distressed public, community groups and companies. Donations included individual 50p pieces sent by pensioners.

Later, a further £66million was raised through investments and commercial partnerships. Initially, many of the grants from the Fund were paid to organisations closely associated with the Princess, such as Great Ormond Street Hospital. But, in 2007, its directors and trustees — who include a campaigner against the Government’s benefit cuts — dramatically changed direction.

Since then, the Memorial Fund has spent a total of £7,195,575 on 91 grants, made to 79 different organisations working on behalf of immigrants and asylum seekers.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of this new strategy was the Changing Minds project, elements of which have received at least £820,0000.

The Observatory has been paid £350,000 over the last three years. It does not mention Changing Minds in its self-description or output, and there has been little public mention of the ‘propaganda’ project.

According to strategy documents written by the Diana Fund, Changing Minds exists to address ‘the plight of asylum seekers and their children in the UK by seeking to track, inform and influence public attitudes towards migrants, refugees and asylum seekers’.

But last year, a conference of the Association of Charitable Funders said the work was designed to achieve ‘attitudinal change’ on ‘negative attitudes’ to all migrants. It described changing attitudes towards migrants as an ‘example of the sort of “wicked” social problem that foundations are increasingly likely to encounter’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Rapist Who Humiliated His Victim by Filming Sex Attack Has His ‘Unduly Lenient’ Sentence Nearly Doubled

[WARNING: ** Disturbing Content **]

An Iranian immigrant who filmed himself raping a woman at knife-point on his Apple iPad today had his ‘unduly lenient’ sentence nearly doubled.

Hesam Khosravi, 24, kicked and beat his victim and threatened to tape her mouth up during the attack in Trafford, Greater Manchester.

He was originally jailed for six years but the Court of Appeal increased his term to 11 years. Leading judges agreed with Attorney General Dominic Grieve that the original sentence was too short.

Khosravi pulled his victim around by her hair and forced her to strip and perform a sex act before raping her, Minshull Crown Court in Manchester heard during the trial.

The immigrant could be heard laughing and commentating on the assault in Farsi as the woman cries and sobs throughout, in footage of the attack.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

How to Murder the Innocent, Defenseless, And Undefended — And Make Big Bucks Doing it! — Dr. Gosnell’s “House of Horrors”

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

“He was supposed to puncture the lower back of the baby’s skull and insert a tube to suck out its brains before it was fully delivered. Instead, he just delivered the baby alive and then killed it, which is illegal. …[He] killed live, viable, moving, breathing, crying babies. He killed them by cutting their spinal cords after their mothers had delivered them…” — Tom McLaughlin “The Women’s Medical Society”

If you are unaware of the trial taking place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania of the abortion doctor (I use the term “doctor” loosely) Kermit Gosnell, I am not surprised. Our feckless, spineless, corrupt and statist-driven media have done their best to sweep it all under the rug. Hear no evil, see no evil when it comes to their sacred cows you know.

Dr. Gosnell is on trial for murdering infants. You see, instead of killing them inside their mother’s body (legal), he killed them outside of their mother’s body (illegal). The website “Pundit & Pundette” reported the testimony of an assistant who worked for Dr. Gosnell describing one of the murdered infants: “It was ‘screeching, making this noise’ that ‘sounded like a little alien,’ she said. It ‘really freaked me out,’ she said, causing her to leave the room.

Hard for America to care when America doesn’t know — and America won’t know if the MSM has its way. This point was driven home by Fox News analyst Kirsten Powers in a recent article of hers in “USA Today” (kudos to “USA Today” for printing it).

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Constitutional Issues in Same-Sex Marriage

I’ve found that most of the discussion about same-sex marriage, even among lawyers, tends to mis-characterize the constitutional issues. This is particularly true of the “equal protection” issues.

Under the Constitution as originally understood, jurisdiction over domestic relations outside federal enclaves and federal territories was reserved to the states.

State laws dealing with domestic relations are, however, subject to the mandates of the Fourteenth Amendment. That provision requires states to honor “due process of law” and to grant all citizens “equal protection of the laws.” (The Supreme Court has added that the Fifth Amendment imposes a similar equal protection standard on the federal government; a more credible reading of the Constitution would derive some federal equal protection obligations from the “proper” component of the Necessary and Proper Clause.)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

WaPo Reporter: I’m Not Covering the Gosnell Abortionist Trial Because It’s Not Really a Policy Story

[WARNING: ** Disturbing Content **]

One person deserves the bulk of the credit for bringing to light the media’s criminal neglect of the Gosnell trial, and that’s liberal columnist Kirsten Powers. Yeah, she is often conservatives’ favorite liberal (although I have a few others), not only because she’s a Christian, but also because she is intellctually honest and refuses to parrot the left-wing company line on stuff like Benghazi or even the treatment of Sarah Palin.

But she’s still a liberal and a strong Obama supporter, so you have to give her credit for calling the media out like this. Today on Facebook, Powers links to a very revealing post by blogger Mollie at the Get Religion blog (whose premise is that the media do not get religion, and boy is that true). Mollie looked specifically at the recent work of Washington Post health policy reporter Sarah Kliff, and noticed an abundance of coverage on stories that advance left-wing narratives — followed by total silence concerning the Gosnell trial. Mollie writes:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Walter Laqueur Blames “Optimism Bias” More Than Stupidity — The Strongest Force on Earth — And Wilful Ignorance of Islam

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Walter Laqueur himself, in his writings on the Arabs and Israelis, never showed that he understood the war on Israel to be merely a Jihad, to which there was no “solution.” So perhaps his willingness to avoid the remarkable display of ignorance of Islam, by all those who described the overthrow of local crooks and despots as “an Arab Spring” that was more than a reaction to corruption but a true desire for “freedom” in the Western sense, is understandable. After all, he still doesn’t discuss Islam in this article, for that might require him to issue a mea culpa about his past writings and past overlookings. He’s overlooking the very thing that he overlooked before, and it’s got nothing to do with a four-leaf clover.

Reality Check: The Hazards of Optimism

by Walter Lacquer

Psychological factors have always played a decisive role in the assessment of political trends. Yet until recently they have not been analyzed. Now neuroscientists (rather than political scientists) are talking about optimism and pessimism bias. According to their findings, most people tend to see the political glass as at least half full. As Tali Sharot writes in her recent book The Optimism Bias, “A growing body of scientific evidence points to the conclusion that optimism may be hardwired to the human brain.” Another school of cognitive scientists sees the main danger in being too much influenced by negative conclusions when faced by ambiguous social and political situations. In the words of a recent issue of American Scientist devoted to the subject of optimism and pessimism, “A negative bias can construct a more hostile worldview than if a person’s focus tends to lands of friendly faces.”…

Walter Laqueur is the author, most recently, of After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent.

Editor’s note. The following postscript has been added by the author since the print publication of the article:

Since these lines were written, reports in the media about Europe and the Middle East have been ranging from the depressing to the very bad. But comments expressing an optimism bias have not significantly diminished. In “The Fall and Rise of the West” (Foreign Affairs), Roger Altman predicts why America and Europe will emerge stronger from the crisis (which is likely—but when, and by how much?). Anne Marie Slaughter argues in “The Coming Atlantic Century” (Project Syndicate) that this century may belong to the West after all. Altman and Slaughter were highly placed officials in recent administrations. Sheri Berman, also in Foreign Affairs, writes about the promise of the Arab Spring, expressing the belief that there is no gain without pain, and upbraids the skepticism of conservative reactionaries—the conservatives, as she sees it, are not to the Muslim Brotherhood but their critics. Such optimism bias, however counterintuitive, is admirable if the intention is to stem a tide of despondency when things are bad. Perhaps something should be said even in favor of Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking (1952), which advocates that we neither see nor hear nor speak evil. But there is the distinct danger, as stated by those who have investigated optimism bias, that playing down or ignoring the dangers facing us could have very dangerous consequences indeed.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]