Gates of Vienna News Feed 4/15/2013

The big news of the day is this afternoon’s terror bombings at the Boston Marathon. As of post time, two people are reported dead, and more than 150 wounded, at least 15 of those critically. According to the latest reports, neither jihad nor any other motive has been officially assigned to the atrocity. Police are, however, questioning a Saudi national who was thought by witnesses to have acted suspiciously at the time of the blasts. And then there’s the photo of the mysterious man on the roof above the scene where all the carnage was unfolding.

In other news, this year’s opium crop in Afghanistan is expected to set a new record.

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

Thanks to AC, C. Cantoni, Insubria, JD, JP, Srdja Trifkovic, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

Notice to tipsters: Please don’t submit extensive excerpts from articles that have been posted behind a subscription firewall, or are otherwise under copyright protection.

Caveat: Articles in the news feed are posted “as is”. Gates of Vienna cannot vouch for the authenticity or accuracy of the contents of any individual item posted here. We check each entry to make sure it is relatively interesting, not patently offensive, and at least superficially plausible. The link to the original is included with each item’s title. Further research and verification are left to the reader.

Financial Crisis
» Cyprus: EU Passport to Russians Who Lost Over 3 Mln Euros
» Greece: Jobless Man Dies After Self-Immolation in Athens
» Italy: Inflation ‘Trolley’ Prices Continue to Fall
» Italy: Businessman Commits Suicide Near Pisa
» Italy Housing Market Slumps, Sales Drop 23%, Mortgages 39%
» Italy: Retail Bond Demand Tops First-Day Take of Previous Sales
» Troika Greenlights 2.8 Bln Euro Tranche for Greece
» 100 Years Old and Still Killing US: America Was Much Better Off Before the Income Tax
» Authorities Question Saudi National in Boston Attack
» Big Sis Coordinating Gun Confiscations
» Cass Sunstein: The Poster Boy for ‘Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out’
» Eight-Year-Old Among Two Dead and 90 Injured as Two Explosions Rock Finish Line of Boston Marathon Leaving Behind Scene of Carnage (Photos, Video)
» Explosions Reported Near Boston Marathon Finish Line
» Eyewitness: Authorities Announced “Drill” Before Boston Explosions
» FDA Requests $300 Million War Chest to Implement Onerous New Food Safety Regulations Against Farmers, Commercial Food Growers
» Feds Investigating if Boston Bomb Attack is Linked to Patriots’ Day Anniversaries of Waco Cult Siege and Oklahoma City Bombing
» Five Lies Psychiatry Tells for Power and Profit
» Fundamentally Change America?
» Google Glass: Obedience to the Matrix
» Major Firearms Manufacturers to Relocate Their Operations From Gun-Hating Connecticut
» NSA Data Center Front and Center in Debate Over Liberty, Security and Privacy
» Obama Supporters Sign Petition to Ban Free Speech
» Prostate Cancer Screening Subjects Men to ‘Substantial Harms, ‘ Warns One of Its Key Architects
» Soviet Agent Award for Mother Jones Reporter
» The Overlooked Factor: Psychiatric Drugs
» Timeline of Terror Bombing at Boston Marathon
» Two Dead and at Least Two Dozen Hurt in Boston Marathon Blasts
» Who is This Person? Individual Seen Walking on Roof Directly Overhead as Bomb Goes Off at Boston Marathon
» Steel Yourselves to Attacks From Enviro-Extremists, Don’t Surrender, Advises Air Force Vet
Europe and the EU
» France: Black Workers ‘Banned From Gare Du Nord During Israeli President Visit’
» Frattini: NATO Candidate, ‘To Assume Council of State Role’
» German Anti-Euro Party Officially Launched
» German Robots Brought to Life as Heavy Metal Stars
» Has Cameron at Last Learnt Blair’s Lesson That the British Are Not Naturally Left-Wing?
» Italy: Renzi Under Fire as Centre-Left Infighting Escalates
» Italy: Alemanno Sues TV Programme for Mafia Allegations
» Pope’s Popularity Transcends Catholicism in Italy
» Pope’s New Advisory Group May Curb Secretary of State
» Red Len Voted Back in as Boss of Britain’s Biggest Union… by Just 10 Per Cent of Members
» UK: ‘Cheating Husband Battered His Wife Before Concocting a “Cock and Bull” Story With His Mistress’ That He Was the Abuse Victim
» UK: Adolescent Metro Liberals Dance on Thatcher’s Grave While Her Real Enemies Are Respectful
» UK: Big Turn Out for Anti-Hate Event at Finsbury Park Mosque
» UK: Drug Addicts May be Given ‘Safe Rooms’ Where They Can Inject Themselves With Crack Cocaine and Heroin in Controversial Plan by Brighton Council
» UK: Four Islamic Extremists ‘Plotted to Drive a Remote Control Car Carrying a Home Made Bomb Under the Gates of Territorial Army Base’
» UK: Margaret Thatcher: Her Passing Reminds Tories Cameron is Not Yet a Winner
» UK: Muslims Complain British History Curriculum Doesn’t Teach About Muslim “Contribution” To UK
» UK: Schools ‘Ripping Out Playground Equipment to Avoid Being Sued’ After Millions of Pounds Are Paid to Pupils Who Hurt
» UK: Thatcherism is No Museum Piece — It’s Alive and Kicking
» UK: The Lost Tribes of British Politics — Day 1: The Christian Democrats and the Tory Wets
» UK: The Media Are Taking UKIP More and More Seriously — How Will the Tory Leadership Respond?
» UK: We Announce the New Conservativehome Editorial Team. Paul Goodman is Editor
» Kosovo, A Frozen Conflict
» Montenegrin Opposition Candidate Challenges Presidential Election Results
Mediterranean Union
» Syria: Jihadism Cannot be Ignored, Father Dall’Oglio Says
North Africa
» Head of Libyan Islamic Extremist Militia Shot
» Tunisia: Police Clash With Salafists in Hergla, Sousse, One Killed
Middle East
» Christian, Muslims and Jesus by Mona Siddiqui
» Italian Journalist Kidnapped in Syria Will ‘Not Return’
» No Radiation Leak at Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Plant: Official
» Qatar Reportedly Buys Picasso’s Child With a Dove
» Spate of Car Bomb Attacks Hit Iraqi Cities
» Turkey and Egypt Nix NATO Meet With Israel
» Turkey: Fazil Say Gets 10-Month Suspended Sentence
» Will Israel Attack Iran, Part 1
South Asia
» India: Marines ‘Should Appear in Uniform Before Top Court’
» Opium Crop in Afghanistan Heading for Record Levels
» Pakistan: US Drones Programme ‘Risks Legalising Al-Qaeda’
» Teenager Exposes India’s ‘One Month Wives’ Sex Tourism
Far East
» Abu Sayyaf Members Killed, 3 Soldiers Hurt in S. Philippine Clash
» North Korea: The Bigger Picture
» North Korean Hoax? Tourists Find Children Skating While Media Shows Tanks in the Square
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigeria: Boko Haram — Collapse of Amnesty May Lead to Civil War, Bola Ajibola Warns
» Nigeria: Mend Threatens Anti-Islam Attack
» Somalia: Gunmen Storm Courthouse After Two Suicide Explosions
Latin America
» Mexican “Los Rojos” Gang Leader Killed
» Nicolás Maduro: Heir to Hugo Chávez, Wins Close Election for President of Venezuela
» Immigration Reform: The Truth Challenged and Useful Idiot Sen. Marco Rubio
Culture Wars
» Pope Francis to Maintain Hard Line on American Nuns
» UK: Britain’s Got Sleaze: Bgt Viewers’ Backlash Over the Lap-Dancer and the Schoolgirl of 11 Singing About One-Night Stands
» Global-Alarmism Makes a Predictable Appearance

Cyprus: EU Passport to Russians Who Lost Over 3 Mln Euros

To compensate for tax levy on island’s bank accounts

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, APRIL 15 — In exchange for “a minimum” of three million euros lost to the levy on the island’s bank deposits — part of the European bailout of the Cypriot economy — dozens of foreign investors will soon be able to request Cypriot citizenship and an EU passport.

This is the “consolation prize” thought up by the Cypriot government and announced by President Nicos Anastasiades for foreign millionaires who have been doing business for years and will continue to do so on the Mediterranean island: millionaires who are now a bit less wealthy, after their capital was slashed by a heft 37.5% (though the final rate may be closer to 60%, and will only be known in September) as part of levy on all deposits over 100,000 euros held in Cyprus’s two largest banks, the Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank.

The Cypriot regulation “citizenship in exchange for investment” exists in other countries as well, and will be modified to reduce the required investment from 10 million euros to three million to be granted citizenship. Moreover, said Anastasiades at a gathering of Russian businessmen in Limassol, “non-resident investors holding bank accounts on the island before March 15, when the tax levy was introduced, and who lost at least three million euros will be able to request Cypriot citizenship”. It is not known how many Russian investors lost “at least” three million euros from their bank deposits, nor why government financial experts set that specific minimum to be able to submit a citizenship request. The only thing known is that an increase has been seen on the island recently of Russian citizens, who now number about 50,000 and are mostly businessmen and their families settling in the coastal cities of Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos.

Russians residing in Limassol are so numerous that the city has for some time been known as ‘Limassolgrad’. Russian is often heard in the streets, two daily newspapers and a weekly magazine are published in the language, there are two Russian schools and a Russian radio station and restaurant menus are in both Greek and Cyrillic script. The economy of the Russian community is based on trade and investment, activities many suspect of involvement with money laundering. Whatever the case may be, the activities have resulted in large bank accounts on Cyprus, where recent estimates put the total related deposits as some 20 billion out of an estimated 69 billion overall.

The reaction of Cypriot’s Russians to Anastasiades’s announcement ranged between utter indifference and mild interest, with a joke now making the rounds that the Cypriot passport may become the more expensive travel document in the world: one obtained in exchange for three million euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Jobless Man Dies After Self-Immolation in Athens

ATHENS, April 14 (Xinhua) — A 50-year-old unemployed man died on Sunday after setting himself on fire the previous day on a central avenue of an Athens northern suburb, Greek authorities announced. State hospital officials said that the man, whose identity remained undisclosed, succumbed to burns after pouring fuel on his body and setting himself ablaze, despite doctors’ efforts to save his life…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italy: Inflation ‘Trolley’ Prices Continue to Fall

Down from 2.4% to 2% in March

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Prices in the so-called inflation ‘trolley’ of most frequently bought goods rose 2% annually in March, down from 2.4% the previous month, Istat said Tuesday.

It was the lowest figure since September 2010, the statistics agency said.

In March overall inflation stood at 1.6%, Istat added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Businessman Commits Suicide Near Pisa

Sixth person to take life ‘for economic reasons’ this month

(ANSA) — Pisa, April 15 — A factory owner killed himself near Pisa Monday, the latest in a string of suicides apparently linked to economic difficulties, six of them this month alonepolice said.

The businessman, 65, whose factory at Santa Croce sull’Arno made chemicals for fertilizer, reportedly left a note citing business woes as the reason for his suicide.

Last week a man afraid of losing his job in an eyewear factory near Belluno and a carpenter whose business was in trouble in central Sardinia took their own lives amid the rising toll of deaths linked to economic problems.

Earlier this month three people — a married couple and the woman’s brother — committed suicide in Marche, gaining front-page headlines.

Businesses are closing at an unprecedented rate, employers’ associations report, while unemployment is at a record high in Italy’s worst recession for 20 years.

The head of the confederation of Italian industry last week urged politicians to reach a deal after February’s inconclusive general election, saying businesses were “desperate” to see some government action almost 50 days after the poll.

Parties are set to elect a new Italian president later this week who will have the job of gauging the chances of a government forming or, as many pundits think, calling a snap vote for July.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Housing Market Slumps, Sales Drop 23%, Mortgages 39%

134,984 property deal closed in third quarter of 2012

(ANSA) — Rome, April 15 — The big impact the recession is having on Italy’s housing market was shown on Monday when Istat said property sales in the third quarter of last year were down by over 23%.

It said 134,984 property sales were closed at notaries between July and September last year, 23.1% down on the same three months in the previous year.

The national statistics agency added that the number of mortgages granted in the first nine months of 2012 was 39.5% lower than in the same period of 2011.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Retail Bond Demand Tops First-Day Take of Previous Sales

Rome, 15 April (AKI/Bloomberg) — Initial demand for an Italian inflation-linked bond aimed at retail investors has already topped the amount sold in the first day of the previous sale.

The Italian treasury had received orders for 2.9 billion euros ($3.79 billion) of the bonds by 11:06 a.m. in Rome compared with 2.48 billion euros at the end of the first day of the last sale of the securities in October. The order period ends 18 April , though the Treasury has said it may close the sale earlier if demand is particularly strong.

The four-year bond carries a minimum coupon of 2.25 percent.

The treasury last year began reaching out to Italians, who are among the biggest savers in Europe, as contagion from the debt crisis triggered an exodus of foreign investors. Italy plans to hold two of the retail bonds sales this year.

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

Troika Greenlights 2.8 Bln Euro Tranche for Greece

Gradual return to growth in 2014, according to Troika audit

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 15 — Greece has done the right thing and now deserves to get a 2.8-billion-euro tranche of its bailout, the troika (EU-ECB-IMF) said on Monday.

“March targets will probably be reached soon, and the EU-17 might agree to disburse the installment remaining from the preceding audit, of 2.8 billion euros from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF)”, the troika said in its evaluation report at the end of its mission to Athens, which began on March 13.

The economic outlook remains unchanged since its previous audit, “with gradual return to growth in 2014,” according to the troika. Below-average inflation and wage flexibility will make Greece more competitive, the international lenders said.

“Important progress has been made, such as making the internal revenue service more autonomous and able to collect tax taxes and catch tax evaders”, the troika said. “This was one of the prime objectives of our mission: to make the budget targets by boosting tax collection, reducing corruption, and guaranteeing the fair distribution of adjustments”. If Greece sticks with the program and the EU-17 take this into account, “long-term public debt sustainability remains on course”, according to the troika.

Meanwhile, public hospital employees and maritime workers called a 24-hour strike tomorrow to protest the government’s troika-mandated austerity measures.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

100 Years Old and Still Killing US: America Was Much Better Off Before the Income Tax

Did you know that the greatest period of economic growth in American history was during a time when there was absolutely no federal income tax? Between the end of the Civil War and 1913, there was an explosion of economic activity in the United States unlike anything ever seen before or since. Unfortunately, a federal income tax was instituted in 1913, and this year it turned 100 years old. But there was no fanfare, was there? There was no celebration because the federal income tax is universally hated. Sadly, most Americans just assume that there is no other option to an income tax. Most Americans just assume that it has always been with us and that it will always be with us. This year, the American people will shell out approximately $4.22 trillionin state and federal income taxes. That amount is equivalent to approximately 29.4 percent of all income that Americans will bring in this year, and that does not even take into account the dozens of other taxes that Americans pay each year. At this point, the U.S. tax code is about 13 miles long, and those that are honest and pay their taxes every year are being absolutely shredded by this system. But wouldn’t the federal government go broke if we didn’t have a federal income tax? No, actually the truth is that the federal government did just fine before there was an income tax. In fact, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times largersince the federal income tax and the Federal Reserve were created by Congress back in 1913. As I have written about previously, the Federal Reserve system was actually designed to trap the United States in a debt spiral from which it could never possibly escape, and the federal income tax was needed to greatly expand the size of the federal government and to soak the American people of the funds necessary to service that debt. But it doesn’t have to be this way. America was once much better off before the income tax and the Federal Reserve were created, and we could easily go to such a system again.

What we desperately need to do is to teach the American people a little history lesson. The truth is that the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was between the Civil War and 1913 when there was no federal income tax at all. The following is from Wikipedia…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Authorities Question Saudi National in Boston Attack

(CBS News) Following the twin blasts at the Boston Marathon that has claimed two lives and dozens injured, a Saudi national is being held in custody in relation to the incident who was near the scene of the blast, CBS News correspondent John Miller reported.

Law enforcement sources told Miller a witness saw a person acting suspiciously when the explosions happened along the marathon route.

“They see him running away from the device,” said Miller. “Now, a reasonable person would be running away. But this person had noticed him before. This is a civilian — chases him down, tackles him, turns him over to the Boston police. The individual is being looked at [and] was suffering from burn injury. That means this person was pretty close to wherever this blast went off, but not so close as to suffer the serious injuries that other people did.”

Authorities told Miller that the person in custody is not charged and not under arrest. He is being cooperative, answering their questions, and denying involvement. They’ll likely be going over this person’s communications and examine every aspect of his life, as well as talk to the witness who tackled him to find out what the person of interest did that seemed suspicious…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Big Sis Coordinating Gun Confiscations

The Department of Homeland Security is collaborating with New York State government officials to confiscate guns belonging to people who are deemed, often erroneously, to have a mental condition, according to radio host Tom Bauerle.

“NY State Talk Radio Host Tom Bauerle discussed on his program that several sources inside NY State Govt have told him that the Dept of Homeland Security played an active role in meeting and collaborating with NY State Officials to develop and implement the confiscation scheme that targeted David Lewis and an as yet unknown number of others,” reports

Bauerle is a daily host on WBEN, based in Buffalo, New York.

Back in March it also emerged that the DHS was working with the Department of Revenue to collect information on gun owners in Missouri.

The fact that the DHS is coordinating with state government officials on gun confiscations is particularly unnerving given recent developments.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Cass Sunstein: The Poster Boy for ‘Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out’

In The Republic, Plato argued that philosophers must be made kings for the ideal city-state to be born. In the pages of The New Republic, Cass Sunstein argues for the benevolent paternalism of the nanny state and its philosopher-kings. It’s an old Sunstein theme and the one that brought him to the attention of politicians who dearly love to imagine themselves in the roles of those philosopher-kings. One of those politicians, Barack Obama, even made Sunstein his Regulatory Czar…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Eight-Year-Old Among Two Dead and 90 Injured as Two Explosions Rock Finish Line of Boston Marathon Leaving Behind Scene of Carnage (Photos, Video)


At least two people have been killed and up to 100 people have been injured after two large bombs went off near the finish line of the famous Boston Marathon today, leaving behind a scene of carnage.

It was revealed that an eight-year-old child was one of the two people confirmed dead in the blast, and additionally, a three-year-old boy was injured in the day’s chaos.

Hours after twin explosions rang out near the city’s Copley Square, President Obama appeared before the nation to tell them, ‘We still don’t know who did this or why they did this,’ vowing that Americans stand by those affected.

The reiterated that many people were injured, ‘some gravely’ and remarked that on days like today, ‘there are no Republicans or Democrats,’ emphasizing that it is crucial not to categorize the bombings as terrorist attacks.

He made clear that the ‘full weight of justice’ would be brought down upon those responsible. ‘We will find out who did this and hold them accountable,’ he said.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis had said at an afternoon press conference that there was a third, uncontrolled explosion at the JFK Library which was believed to be an electrical fire…

Eyewitnesses at the scene said there were two loud explosions about five seconds apart, and emergency vehicles crowded the scene.

Witness Dave Weigel said via Twitter minutes after the explosion: ‘I saw people’s legs blown off. Horrific. Two explosions. Runners were coming in and saw unspeakable horror.’

Police told the Boston Globe that are they still finding ‘secondary devices,’ and pleading with anyone still in the area to leave at once. A controlled explosion was set for outside the city library.

A source who was speaking with authorities told MailOnline that there were shotgun shells in two explosions, which sprayed onlookers and runners with massive amounts of shrapnel, though the statement has not been confirmed by authorities.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Explosions Reported Near Boston Marathon Finish Line

Emergency crews responding to Boylston Street incident

BOSTON —Two explosions have been reported near the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street as thousands of people gathered for the race, and there are reports of injuries.

The blasts happened at about 2:50 p.m. near the intersection of Boylston and Exeter streets. Store fronts have been blown out, and there have been reports of dozens of injuries.

Witnesses said several victims lost limbs, the race was stopped and the area is being evacuated.

The first explosion happened across from the Lenox Hotel and the second blast was about 15 seconds later, witnesses said.

Many of the injured appeared to be spectators who gathered for the 117th running of the race.

NewsCenter 5’s Sean Kelly said the impact of the explosions could be felt blocks away.

The victims were being taken to Massachusetts General Hospital.

NewsCenter 5 and will have more information when it becomes available.

           — Hat tip: AC [Return to headlines]

Eyewitness: Authorities Announced “Drill” Before Boston Explosions

An eyewitness to the two explosions at the Boston Marathon today said that a “drill” was repeatedly announced before the bombs exploded and that he “thought it was odd” bomb sniffing dogs were in place before the blast.

University of Mobile’s Cross Country Coach Ali Stevenson told Local 15 News, “They kept making announcements on the loud speaker that it was just a drill and there was nothing to worry about. “It seemed like there was some sort of threat, but they kept telling us it was just a drill.”

The news station also reports that Stevenson “thought it was odd there were bomb sniffing dogs at the start and finish lines.”

Stevenson then describes hearing the explosions as he ran away from the scene, having just completed the marathon.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

FDA Requests $300 Million War Chest to Implement Onerous New Food Safety Regulations Against Farmers, Commercial Food Growers

(NaturalNews) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has requested nearly $300 million in additional agency funding from Congress in order to implement the oppressive tenets of the so-called Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which will stifle American farmers and commercial food growers and potentially put many of them out of business. The FDA claims it is having to struggle through “tight budget times,” and insists that a roughly 17 percent budget increase over its 2013 budget will be needed for 2014.

If granted by Congress, the requested funding increase will bring the FDA’s overall operating budget to a massive $4.7 billion for the 2014 fiscal year, which is the highest it has ever been. This is in spite of the fact that FSMA is completely despotic, granting the FDA sweeping new authority over the cultivation, transport, and sale of food, particularly at the local level. As we covered many times in the past, FSMA will allow the FDA to preemptively regulate and control farmers and commercial food growers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Feds Investigating if Boston Bomb Attack is Linked to Patriots’ Day Anniversaries of Waco Cult Siege and Oklahoma City Bombing

Federal investigators are looking into possible connections between today’s bomb attack on the Boston Marathon and the Patriot’s Day anniversaries of the Branch Davidian compound seige in Waco, Texas, and the Oklahoma City bombing, a Justice Department source tells MailOnline.

Today’s attack took place on Patriots’ Day, which marks the first battle of the Revolutionary War and the ‘shot heard ‘round the world.’ It is a day held in reverence by right-wing domestic groups and others who oppose the federal government.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Five Lies Psychiatry Tells for Power and Profit

(NaturalNews) The field of psychiatry has succeeded in branding some whoppers into the minds of millions, to the tune of billions, with no accountability.

You’d think the Federal Trade Commission would hold psychiatry accountable for blatantly misleading the public, but there is zero accountability.

You’d think people would take a second to think before putting their mental health into the hands of a psychiatrist — someone who has zero training in mental health.

You’d think people would ask for evidence that their poor moods are caused by these mysterious chemical imbalances, but there is zero logic.

Here are the five lies psychiatry tells for power and profit:

1. Poor moods are caused by chemical imbalances

These chemical imbalances are profitable for doctors who tell you they have the antidote, the pill that will put your brain back in balance. The problem is, there is no such thing as a chemical imbalance that creates a poor mood. At least there is not one shred of evidence to back this idea.

Put it this way: You lose your job. You feel discouraged. Is the discouragement caused by a chemical imbalance or by your response to this unfortunate event and the perception of an uncertain future? Is the remedy a pill or a new job?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Fundamentally Change America?

“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.” — Barack Obama

Many Americans today seem to suffer from a bipolar condition. On the one hand, using the tragedies of Sandy Hook and the Century Theater in Aurora, Colorado as justification, they are calling for an end to firearm violence by having government control over allowable types of firearms, cartridge magazines and who can buy them. On the other this same majority of Americans are rarely concerned with violent movies like Django Unchained, TV shows like Dexter, and the militarization of the local police and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) forces. We are told by those pushing for disarming Americans that there is no reason to fear a militarized police force and the DHS. But are they wrong in placing such faith in their government? The events of May 4th, 1970, would show anyone willing to examine that era; they are wrong — fatally wrong.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Google Glass: Obedience to the Matrix

(NaturalNews) It’s now being suggested that Google Glass, the computers worn over the eyes, can be used to catch rogue stock traders before they wander off the reservation and destroy the firms they work for.

Google Glass records everything the wearer sees and says. So if all brokers are ordered to have them, their every move can be observed by company spies. Wonderful, right?

And if traders can be kept in line, how about bank tellers and nurses and teachers and gun shop owners and chefs and cab drivers and lifeguards and blackjack dealers and realtors and assembly-line workers and kindergarten kids? How about everybody?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Major Firearms Manufacturers to Relocate Their Operations From Gun-Hating Connecticut

(NaturalNews) Three major firearms manufacturers have announced plans to relocate their operations from Connecticut to another more gun-friendly state following the recent passage of what Connecticut legislators say is “the most far-reaching gun-legislation package in the country.” According to reports, one firearms company has already chosen Texas as its new home, and several others are currently in the selection process.

On April 5, CBS DFW reported that Connecticut-based Colt Manufacturing, which manufactures AR-15 style rifles and various other firearms, will soon relocate its manufacturing plant from West Hartford, Conn., to Breckenridge, Texas, a small town located a few hours east of the Dallas metroplex. And just a few days later, Bristol-based PTR made a similar announcement, though the company is not yet sure which state it will choose.

“We feel that our industry as a whole will continue to be threatened so long as it remains in a state where its elected leaders have no regard for the rights of those who produce and manufacture its wealth,” reads a recent statement issued by PTR. The Connecticut Valley, after all, has long been a hub for the gun industry, and the area’s rich firearms history dates back as far as the Revolutionary War.

“We are making a call to all involved in our industry to leave this state, close your doors and show our politicians the true consequences of their hasty and uninformed actions,” the statement adds. “We encourage those in our industry to abandon this state as its leaders have abandoned the proud heritage that forged our freedom.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

NSA Data Center Front and Center in Debate Over Liberty, Security and Privacy

Twenty-five miles due south of Salt Lake City, a massive construction project is nearing completion. The heavily secured site belongs to the National Security Agency.

“The spy center” — that’s what some of the locals like Jasmine Widmer, who works at Bluffdale’s sandwich shop, told our Fox News team as part of an eight month investigation into data collection and privacy rights that will be broadcast Sunday at 9 p.m. ET called “Fox News Reporting: Your Secrets Out.”

The NSA says the Utah Data Center is a facility for the intelligence community that will have a major focus on cyber security. The agency will neither confirm nor deny specifics. Some published reports suggest it could hold 5 zettabytes of data. (Just one zettabyte is the equivalent of about 62 billion stacked iPhones 5’s — that stretches past the moon.

One man we hoped would answer our questions, the current director of the NSA General Keith Alexander, declined Fox News’s requests to sit down for an interview, so we stopped by the offices of a Washington think tank, where Alexander was speaking at a cyber security event last year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Supporters Sign Petition to Ban Free Speech

After supporting repeal of Second Amendment, Californians target the First

Following their support for repealing the Second Amendment, liberals in California evidently have a new target in their sights — the First Amendment. A video by social analyst Mark Dice shows Obama supporters signing a petition to ban free speech.

Playing the role of a big government liberal, Dice told respondents that people who disagree with Obama are racists and extremists and should have their constitutional right to speak out annulled.

“This will repeal the First Amendment so that those right-wingers can’t say hateful things about Obama. I’m tired of these people having the right to say what they want to say…you don’t have the right to disagree with Obama these days in these tough times,” Dice told one Obama supporter as he readily agreed and signed the petition.

Others were told that the petition was to “repeal the First Amendment of the Tea Party and anyone who criticizes Obama.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Prostate Cancer Screening Subjects Men to ‘Substantial Harms, ‘ Warns One of Its Key Architects

(NaturalNews) Presumably in response to the continued release of independent studies that warn about the uselessness of prostate cancer screenings, the American College of Physicians (ACP) has issued its own alert about the questionable practice. In a recent statement published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, ACP petitions doctors to be wary about recommending prostate cancer screenings to their patients, warning that they come with limited benefits and a slew of “substantial harms.”

As explained by ACP on its website, the group is strongly opposed to any men younger than 50 or older than 69 receiving prostate cancer screenings, period. And for men between the ages of 50 and 69, ACP strongly encourages a thorough discussion with one’s doctor before agreeing to a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, as misdiagnosis and resultant unnecessary treatments can cause more harm than good in the form of incontinence, impotence, and various other devastating side effects.

Such a statement represents an about-face for ACP, which just so happens to be one of the original architects of the PSA test for prostate cancer. But it is a welcomed change, especially in light of the fact that the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) last year determined that PSA screenings are useless for all men, regardless of age. According to USPSTF researchers, the harms of PSA testing far outweigh any alleged benefits.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Soviet Agent Award for Mother Jones Reporter

David Corn, the liberal writer and MSNBC analyst who based a story about Republican Senator Mitch McConnell on a secret and possibly illegal tape recording, is scheduled to accept an award named for Soviet agent of influence I.F. Stone.

The identification of Stone as a Soviet agent is not in serious dispute, except among his most loyal and sycophantic followers.

Equally scandalous, Corn is being presented the award by Jeff Cohen, who has started a petition through his radical organization, RootsAction, to give accused traitor Bradley Manning the Nobel Peace Prize. The RootsAction group is considered by some to be far to the left of Obama and the Democratic Party. Its honoring of Bradley Manning is an example of its extremist approach.

As new developments in the McConnell story seem to indicate a political espionage operation against the Senate Republican leader, the prospect of being linked to those behind a campaign on behalf of Bradley Manning — on trial for espionage against the U.S. — could become a public relations nightmare for Corn.

That is, if the media cover the scandal.

Corn, the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones, not only used a secret recording to attack Sen. McConnell, but based a story about Mitt Romney’s 47 percent comments on another surreptitious recording.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Overlooked Factor: Psychiatric Drugs

As lawmakers on the federal and state level scramble to use the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings as a justification for the adoption of sweeping new gun control measures, one group, AbleChild, is asking a critical, and overlooked, question: Were psychiatric drugs a causative factor for the Sandy Hook shooter and for dozens of other school shootings?

In September 2003 FDA medical reviewer Dr. Andrew D. Mosholder discovered evidence, now generally accepted, that antidepressant drugs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including Paxil, Zoloft, and Effexor, among many others, could increase the risk of suicidal and violent thoughts in children. That story is explained in detail in my book The Rise of Tyranny. In June 2003, FDA assigned Dr. Mosholder the task of evaluating claims of an association between antidepressants and suicidal behavior in children. Dr. Mosholder found evidence of increased risk of suicidal thoughts principally upon a review of twenty-two pediatric trials, involving 4,250 children. He found “74 of the 2298 children taking antidepressants had a ‘suicide related event’ compared with 34 of the 1952 children taking placebos.” Over one hundred events occurred in the trials that were labeled by the drug company sponsor as “possibly suicide-related,” ranging from hanging and overdose to cutting and slapping. Forty-seven patients were hospitalized; none completed a suicide attempt.

Mosholder additionally found that only 3 in 15 pediatric depression trials included sufficient evidence of efficacy, raising the question of whether any of these drugs were effective in children. He concluded, overall, that children in the studies who took antidepressants were on average twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts as those on placebo. Mosholder’s findings were leaked to the media. FDA Internal Affairs then began a criminal investigation of Mosholder. FDA punished Mosholder for his findings by ostracizing him and suppressing his work. Mosholder had been among FDA scientists who favored approval of the drugs, having changed his mind on their efficacy only after post-market surveillance and study revealed their dangers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Timeline of Terror Bombing at Boston Marathon

6:35 PM

Boston runners were warned: Squamish man

“Runners getting set to take part in the Boston Marathon were warned beforehand that they were going to die, said a Squamish resident who took part in the race.”

6:23 PM

12 dead, at least 50 more injured after terror attack on Boston Marathon, suspect identified and being guarded in hospital

“CBS reported that an individual is in custody. He is reportedly cooperative and denies involvement in the attack.”

5:46 PM

A White House official says the Boston attack will be handled as an ‘act of terror’

— ITV News (@itvnews) April 15, 2013

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Two Dead and at Least Two Dozen Hurt in Boston Marathon Blasts

A series of explosions was reported near the finish line at the Boston Marathon on Monday, leaving two people dead and at least two dozen injured, according to the Boston Police Department.

A third explosion was heard just before 4 p.m., about an hour after the first two blasts. The police were apparently aware of that device before the explosion occurred.

The blasts took place about four hours after the start of the men’s race, which meant that there were still several thousand runners yet to finish the race. One senior counterterrorism official said it was too soon to tell whether the explosions were related to terrorism.

[Return to headlines]

Who is This Person? Individual Seen Walking on Roof Directly Overhead as Bomb Goes Off at Boston Marathon

A picture posted on Twitter shows an individual walking on the roof directly overlooking one of the blasts at the Boston Marathon.

The picture of the mystery person was posted shortly after the terror attack and raises the eerily possibility that one of the perpetrators watched as the carnage was unleashed.

Law-enforcement sources told the New York Post that a 20-year-old Saudi man was detained at a Boston hospital.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Steel Yourselves to Attacks From Enviro-Extremists, Don’t Surrender, Advises Air Force Vet

World War II Lancaster bomber pilot “Sandy” Mutch says that the Harper government should not be surprised that they were angrily attacked by climate campaigners last week when Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver expressed doubt about the severity of man-made global warming.

“On bombing raids over Europe, we could tell we were closing in on the target when we started to get the most flak,” said Mutch, now 93 and living in Ottawa. “Anyone who wants to kill the dangerous and unfounded climate scare, as I certainly hope our government does, should focus on exposing the shaky science behind climate alarm. That is the Achilles heel of the whole movement. Shoot it down and you win the war!”

Mutch, who hold a Masters of Science degree from the University of Toronto (1951) and who has prepared some of his own YouTube videos on the topic, is right. The science is of paramount importance. If humanity’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are not causing dangerous climate change, then all of the other arguments in the debate are irrelevant. It no longer matters whether it is better to tax CO2 emissions or enable cap and trade. Arguing about which countries should go first in reducing emissions also becomes a waste of time since no one should bother with CO2 reductions at all. It is not even worth discussing alternative energy options that reduce CO2. CO2 is the stuff of life. It is essential for plant photosynthesis on which all life depends. It is anything but a pollutant.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

France: Black Workers ‘Banned From Gare Du Nord During Israeli President Visit’

Black and North African railway workers were banned from working at Paris’s Gare du Nord when the President of Israel visited France over fears they might be Muslim, it has emerged.

The alleged discrimination took place as Shimon Peres arrived at the station, the hub for high-speed trains, on March 8, to discuss the Middle East peace process. It is now the subject of an official complaint by the SUD-Rail transport union which says everything was done to ensure there were “no Muslim employees to welcome the Head of the State of Israel”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Frattini: NATO Candidate, ‘To Assume Council of State Role’

Ex-Berlusconi foreign minister ‘will evaluate govt procedures’

(ANSA) — Belgrade, April 15 — Former Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, a candidate for NATO secretary-general, said Monday he was about to assume the role as head of “an important department at the Council of State”. The role at Italy’s highest administrative tribunal, said Frattini on a visit to Belgrade, would entail “evaluating procedures of the government, something I very much enjoy”. Frattini served under ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi until his administration was forced out of office with a no-confidence vote in parliament amid a peak in the euro crisis.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

German Anti-Euro Party Officially Launched

BERLIN, April 15 (Xinhua) — German anti-euro political party Alternative fur Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) was officially launched over the weekend, openly calling for “orderly dissolution of the euro.” At the party congress attended by some 1,500 delegates on Sunday, party lead candidate Bernd Lucke said an orderly dissolution of the eurozone would ease nationalist friction between European states…

[JP note: Surely it is already anti-constitutional by definition — post hoc, ergo propter hoc? ]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

German Robots Brought to Life as Heavy Metal Stars

The world’s heaviest metal band, robot musicians ‘Compressorhead’, look set to take the music scene by storm

Made from recycled scrap, the members of Compressorhead play hits by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Motorhead.

The band recently played at the Frankfurt Music Fair, a trade event for the music industry…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Has Cameron at Last Learnt Blair’s Lesson That the British Are Not Naturally Left-Wing?

As David Cameron prepared for the funeral of one of his greatest predecessors, there was another, less advertised but also significant, signalled exit from the political world last week.

Andrew Cooper, the Prime Minister’s personal pollster who enjoys the title of Director of Government Strategy, was reported as departing his post.

It was said on his behalf that he had long planned to return to work at Populus, the polling organisation he had helped found.

What is more likely is that he had lost out heavily against Lynton Crosby, the fixer Mr Cameron brought in earlier this year to run the Tories’ election machine.

Clearly, there was no room for both men in the battle for the prime ministerial ear, since their strategic thinking ran on diametrically opposite lines.

Mr Cooper was the ultra-moderniser, the arch-proponent of the signature belief of the Cameroon inner circle that the Conservative brand had to be detoxified of its ‘nasty party’ image.

The Tories would only ever win power again, went this thinking, if the party adopted the preoccupations and attitudes of the ‘nice’, metropolitan Left — of which the most controversial was gay marriage…

Nevertheless, in pursuit of detoxification, Mr Cameron infamously branded UKIP ‘a bunch of fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’. Since UKIP happened to speak for middle Britain, however, Mr Cameron thus managed to insult his entire core constituency.

Not that he seemed to care. Egged on by the modernisers, he seemed to take every protest by those core Conservatives as proof he was on the right track. Even when he failed to win the last election, the Cameroons claimed that was because the party had not been Left-wing enough.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy: Renzi Under Fire as Centre-Left Infighting Escalates

Finocchiaro says Florence mayor will never be statesman

(By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) — Rome, April 15 — Infighting in Italy’s centre left escalated on Monday after the man widely seen as its future head, Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, came under fire after a series of controversial statements blasting the current leadership.

The 38-year-old, who has been compared to a young Tony Blair, has openly criticised the chief of his Democratic Party (PD), Pier Luigi Bersani, over the handling of the impasse caused by February’s inconclusive general election.

Bersani defeated Renzi in the centre-left leadership primaries in December. But Bersani conducted a colourless campaign and, although his alliance came first in the vote by a narrow margin, it failed to win a working majority in the Senate. Italy still has no government as Bersani did not garner support for a post-election pact with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and ruled out forming a grand coalition with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has tried to break the deadlock by asking a group of 10 ‘wise men’ to prepare a government programme capable of winning cross-party support that was presented on Friday Renzi has said Bersani’s approach means Italy is “wasting time” that should be used to combat the country’s economic ailments and argued the PD should either open talks with Berlusconi or ask to return to the polls.

Bersani hit back at the weekend, saying he would not accept such insults even from his father, prompting Renzi to respond that he was “asking for the insults”. The Florence mayor also angered members of his own party by rejecting the possibility that two of its high-profile members could become the next Italian president.

He ruled out former Senate speaker Franco Marini on the grounds that he failed to win re-election to parliament in February.

He also gave the thumbs down to PD Senator Anna Finocchiaro, a former equal opportunities minister, after she was recently photographed getting her bodyguards to carry her shopping for her on a trip to Ikea.

“I find the attack Matteo Renzi directed at me to be truly pitiful, both for the tone and the content,” Finocchiaro said Monday, stressing that she had not touted herself as a presidential candidate.

“And I find it unacceptable and despicable that it should come from a member of my own party.

“My opinion is that someone who behaves like this might win elections, but he does not have the human qualities that are indispensable to be a real political leader and statesman”. The bitterness within the PD has reached such levels that there have been talks of a split.

Bersani has said there is no danger of this and Renzi has said he will not leave the PD even if fellow party members try to kick him out.

Another senior PD member, former education minister Beppe Fioroni, pleaded with Renzi to stop his attacks on the party’s top brass.

“In this way Matteo Renzi keeps putting the PD constantly in tension,” Fioroni told Rome-based daily La Repubblica.

“I invite him to stop because we’re close to breaking point.

“If we get there, there won’t be a split, but an implosion.

It won’t be just the party that suffers, but the whole country”.

Renzi does have his backers within the party though, who say he is simply saying things as they are.

“I don’t think that you get very far with the politics of insulting,” said PD MP Simona Bonafe’ referring to Finocchiaro’s comments.

“If saying things to someone’s face and saying them clearly produces these results, maybe the Democratic Party should have a good hard look at itself. We’ll keep going with our line of saying things to people’s faces”. Renzi may have alienated many within his party, but his popularity outside of it is high.

A poll last week said his approval rate was now twice that of the three much older leaders who emerged in a virtual tie from February’s election.

He clocked a rating of 56% compared to 27% for all three of the leaders who have failed to agree on a government 49 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.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Alemanno Sues TV Programme for Mafia Allegations

Rome, 15 April (AKI) — Rome’s mayor Gianni Alemanno has launched legal proceedings against an Italian investigative TV show that claimed the Naples mafia and local crime gangs had infiltrated contracts for electric bus services and the capital’s new metro line.

Alemanno announced he was suing the state Broadaster Rai’s programme and its highly respected presenter Milena Gabanelli for the “slanderous” allegations aired by Report on Sunday evening.

“The edition of Report is a re-hash of claims that have already appeared in Italian media that the City of Rome has already declared it has absolutely nothing to do with,” said a statement from Alemanno’s office.

Alemanno said he is suing Report personally and on behalf of the City of Rome “for the lies against it”.

The mayor recently denied claims he might be linked to a bribery case involving the supply of Rome buses.

Sunday’s edition of Report also highlighted costly consultants used by Alemanno’s administration and the multi-million euro debts of municipally owned companies.

Local opposition centre-left politicians have called for Alemanno’s resignation after Sunday’s edition of Report.

“Alemanno is neglecting Rome while the city drowns in cement and illegality,” commented the candidate for the centre-left Democratic Party in next month’s mayor race, Ignazio Marino.

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

Pope’s Popularity Transcends Catholicism in Italy

More people drawn to pews, priest sex-abuse a dwindling concern

(ANSA) — Vatican City, April 12 — Ever since he was named pontiff one month ago and opted to present himself without the traditional papal red cape trimmed with ermine, Pope Francis has had no shortage of admirers drawn to his modest, down-to-earth touch. That popularity extends to Catholics and non-Catholics alike in Italy, according to a new poll Friday that shows four out of five Italians view Francis favorably. Fully 92% of Catholics told pollsters IPR Marketing that they found Francis to be close to the faithful, humble, determined, appealing to the young, authoritative, and also sincere. About 77% of non-Catholics expressed similar positive opinions. Although 60% of Italians polled say they want the newly elected pontiff to give top priority to dealing with sexual abuse by priests, that number has fallen from one month ago, according to the survey. Last month, as many as 67% wanted the new pope to deal with the long-standing problem of priest pedophilia, said the opinion poll, which surveyed the opinions of 1,000 Italians.

Opinions may have been swayed by the new face of the Catholic Church, who, unlike his predecessor, is seen as a Vatican outsider with no direct involvement in the priest sex-abuse coverups. Benedict XVI, who abdicated in February over “declining physical and mental strength”, had directly overseen the issue when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Church’s doctrinal watchdog, before becoming pope. Last week, Francis pledged to maintain the same line of “decisive” action adopted by Benedict in dealing with child sex abuse cases in the Catholic Church.

In a meeting with Mons. Gerhard Ludwig Muller, who is in charge of paedophilia issues in his role as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Francis said he would “continue in the line wanted by Benedict XVI”.

A Vatican statement explained that this meant “acting decisively as regards cases of sexual abuse, promoting measures that protect minors, above all; help for those who have suffered such violence in the past; necessary procedures against those found guilty; (and) the commitment of bishops’ conferences in formulating and implementing the necessary directives in this is area that is so important for the church’s witness and credibility”.

The Catholic Church has been rocked in recent years by a long series of paedophilia scandals, most of which emerged under Benedict’s eight-year papacy, although in many cases the abuse dates back decades and was hidden by the clergy.

In cases in countries including the United States, Ireland, Australia, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Italy, the Church was found to have discouraged victims from reporting abuse to the police.

There were also a number of documented cases of Church authorities moving paedophile priests away from one post to another, where they repeated their crimes with fresh victims.

Benedict’s initial response to the scandals was depicted by many as being defensive.

The former pope also personally came under fire for allegedly failing to respond properly to several abuse cases when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Church’s doctrinal watchdog.

But he became increasingly open about sex abuse, apologised for it and in 2010 he issued new Church instructions on dealing with paedophile priests, making it mandatory for cases to be reported to the police.

Benedict also prayed with abuse victims on many of his trips overseas, including to Malta and Britain.

But the German theologian’s pastoral skills have so far been eclipsed by the warmth of Latin America’s first pope, who is proving to be something of a draw to the pews.

According to the poll Friday, 13% of Catholics in Italy said they were attending mass more often because of his appeal. All of this despite virtually no doctrinal differences between him and the pope emeritus.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Pope’s New Advisory Group May Curb Secretary of State

‘We must adapt to needs of today’ says Bishop Semeraro

(ANSA) — Rome, April 15 — The panel of high-profile, international cardinals named to advise Pope Francis in a possible shake-up of church governance may address reducing the power of the secretary of state, according to the new group’s secretary.

In an interview published Monday with Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Bishop Marcello Semeraro recalled that it was Pope Paul VI who bestowed “the secretary of state with supervising and coordinating” the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Curia during his 1963-78 pontificate. “But now, nearly half a century has gone by. We must readapt these structures according to the needs of the Church today,” he said. When directly asked if the secretary of state would see his powers diminished, Semeraro said “the possibility should not be excluded,” adding that potential adjustments would address concerns of congregational prefects, “who feel the need to have a more direct and frequent relationship with the pope”. Semeraro, bishop of Albano, is not among the eight cardinals announced Saturday to “advise (the pope) on the government of the universal church” and “to study a project of revision” of a 1988 document from John Paul II on the Curia known as Pastor Bonus. The announcement of the eight cardinal advisors from all continents of the world has been viewed by Vatican watchers as a possible signal of major reform on the horizon. Only one of the men comes from the Roman Curia, while several have raised concerns over Church operations, and some were even tipped as strong papal contenders in the run-up to elect a pope last month. Two of them, Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley and Munich Archbishop Reinhard Marx, have at times been central figures in the Vatican’s reaction to the priest child sex-abuse scandals. The other members are: Giuseppe Bertello of Italy, president of the government of the Vatican City State; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Chile, the retired archbishop of Santiago; Mumbai Archbishop Oswald Gracias of India; Kinshasa Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Congo; Sydney Archbishop George Pell of Australia; Tegucigalpa Archbishop Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras.

A Vatican statement did not disclose how the pope selected the panel or how long it will serve, but it said the idea to assemble it was put forward during a general congregation, one of the several meetings of cardinals held before the conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state during Benedict’s papacy, is said to have been a divisive figure within the Vatican and was widely seen as the target of the so-called ‘Vatileaks’ campaign involving confidential Church documents leaked to the press by the pope’s butler last year. The panel is scheduled to convene for the first time October 1-3, and in the meantime individuals will be in close touch with the pope, the Vatican said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Red Len Voted Back in as Boss of Britain’s Biggest Union… by Just 10 Per Cent of Members

Len McCluskey, the militant trade union leader who is calling for a general strike, won re-election yesterday despite winning the backing of just 10 per cent of his members.

Red Len, as he has been dubbed, reinforced his iron grip on Unite — the country’s biggest union — by winning 64 per cent of the votes cast.

But in a dismal example of union democracy, just 15 per cent of the membership bothered to fill in a ballot.

The election means Mr McCluskey can carry on rabble rousing for another five years until 2018.

Just last week he was arguing for an ‘explicitly political strike’ across the trade union movement, which would be the first general strike since 1926.

Mr McCluskey’s re-election is a headache for Ed Miliband, who has been unable to shake off the stigma of being picked by the unions contrary to the wishes of both Labour members and MPs.

Unite have donated £8,425,166 to the Labour Party since Mr Miliband became leader in September 2010.

Unite remains Labour’s single biggest donor, giving 32 per cent of donations in the last quarter.

[Comment: Read the sidebar at end of article to see why he’s called Red Len.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Cheating Husband Battered His Wife Before Concocting a “Cock and Bull” Story With His Mistress’ That He Was the Abuse Victim

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

A former probation worker smashed his estranged wife’s head into a cabinet during a row — then persuaded his alleged mistress to claim it was he who had been attacked.

Cheating husband Muhammed Khalil, 38, lashed out at his wife Bilkis Parveen, 33, when she refused to let him take their two young children away from the family home, a court heard.

He then tried to cover up what he had done by concocting a ‘cock and bull’ story with Anarkali Habib, 34, who told detectives she witnessed Ms Parveen attacking Khalil while driving past their house in Birmingham.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Adolescent Metro Liberals Dance on Thatcher’s Grave While Her Real Enemies Are Respectful

by Rod Liddle

I was up in Mansfield on Thursday, interviewing retired miners for a film on the good old days of 1985, UDM v NUM and so on. The miners who stayed with the NUM in Nottinghamshire were, as you might guess, very militant indeed and very left wing. They still are. I asked one of them, off camera, what he thought of the whole Thatcher funeral business — there can’t be a group of people in Britain who more painfully copped her wrath, regardless of whether you think the strike was right or wrong. ‘I won’t be wearing a black tie,’ he admitted, ‘but it’s wrong, isn’t it, to revel in the death of a human being? You shouldn’t do that.’


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Big Turn Out for Anti-Hate Event at Finsbury Park Mosque

More than 100 people got together at an event to combat hate crime on Friday.

Senior police officers, Muslims and politicians gathered at Finsbury Park Mosque, in St Thomas’s Road. The mosque suffered a suspected anthrax attack in 2011 and had a pig’s head stuck on its gates in 2010. Speakers included Sergeant Rob O’Connor, of the Highbury West Safer Neighbourhood Team, Sergeant Khan, a representative from the MPS Muslim Police Association and Fiyaz Mughal, head of Tell Mama, an organisation which allows people to report hate crime without the police, Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn and Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Trustees of the mosque.

The event included a member of the congregation talking about her experiences of hate crime and its impact. Insp Richard Padwell said: “This was an excellent event which came about through effective partnership working. This demonstrates our shared commitment to tackle hate crime and anti-social behaviour”. Hate crime can be reported by 999 in emergencies and 101 in less urgent cases.

[JP note: Don’t bother if your name is Tommy Robinson.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Drug Addicts May be Given ‘Safe Rooms’ Where They Can Inject Themselves With Crack Cocaine and Heroin in Controversial Plan by Brighton Council

Drug addicts will be able to inject themselves with crack and heroin in ‘safe rooms’ as part of a scheme being considered by Britain’s drugs death capital.

Brighton is set to become the first city in the UK to provide official ‘drug consumption rooms’ where addicts can use heroin, crack and cocaine under supervision without fear of prosecution.

Public health leaders in the city will meet this summer to give serious consideration to the plan which they say will ‘save lives.’

Last year Brighton and Hove was once again named and shamed as the drug death capital of the UK.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Four Islamic Extremists ‘Plotted to Drive a Remote Control Car Carrying a Home Made Bomb Under the Gates of Territorial Army Base’

Terror plotters discussed sending a remote controlled toy car carrying a home made bomb under the gates of a Territorial Army centre, a court was told.

Zahid Iqbal, 31, and Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed, 25, spoke about using a banned terrorist manual entitled ‘Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom — by the al Qaida Chef’ to make an improvised explosive device.

Woolich Crown court was played covert recordings of the pair discussing attaching a bomb to a remote controlled toy car and sending it under the gap of a gate to a Territorial Army centre in Luton.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Margaret Thatcher: Her Passing Reminds Tories Cameron is Not Yet a Winner

by Iain Martin

How Lady Thatcher’s passing may be a problem for the PM and a boost for Ukip’s Eurosceptics

Why is there a battle for Margaret Thatcher’s legacy?

The passing of the first woman prime minister, who was also a three-time general election winner, was always going to trigger a debate over her achievements and a competition among today’s leaders to claim her mantle. Baroness Thatcher’s powerful personality and the scale of her victories on the international stage, where she led Britain in the Falklands conflict and played a crucial role in the West winning the Cold War, mean that she attracts global interest. Even some of her domestic critics have acknowledged since her death on Monday that she towered over her opponents and successors.

Along with Labour’s Clement Attlee she is one of two post-war prime ministers who undeniably altered the political weather. Considering the country’s current economic travails, it is hardly surprising that some people ask if a strong dose of leadership by conviction is needed again…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Muslims Complain British History Curriculum Doesn’t Teach About Muslim “Contribution” To UK

by Daniel Greenfield

I suppose living on the dole while plotting terrorist attacks didn’t merit an entire chapter. But really writing a history of the UK without including the enormous Muslim contribution is like writing a history of World War II without mentioning the otter…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Schools ‘Ripping Out Playground Equipment to Avoid Being Sued’ After Millions of Pounds Are Paid to Pupils Who Hurt

Swings and slides are being removed from Britain’s school playgrounds because of the massive rise in compensation claims when children suffer minor injuries.

Claims have become so common that education authorities face mounting bills even when children get hurt while breaking school rules by climbing walls or trees.

The compensation culture is being fuelled by lawyers offering parents no-win no-fee deals, it is claimed, with some firms even setting up telephone hotlines to encourage parents to sue.

Schools are often advised to settle out of court without contesting claims up to £12,000 just to save on legal costs. More than £4million was also paid out to staff last year.

Jonathan Isaby, political director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, told the Sunday Express: ‘There is no doubt that the compensation culture has got completely out of hand. People need to accept that sometimes accidents do happen and no one is to blame.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Thatcherism is No Museum Piece — It’s Alive and Kicking

by Boris Johnson

Britain could benefit hugely from the astral guidance of its heroic former prime minister

Ding dong, the Soviet Union is dead! Ding dong, communism is dead! And so is the British disease. They are all dead as doornails — the myth of this country’s inevitable decline, the habit of capitulating to the unions, the belief in state control of everything from motor manufacturers to removals firms, taxation rates at 98 per cent: all the Lefty nostrums of the post-war epoch…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The Lost Tribes of British Politics — Day 1: The Christian Democrats and the Tory Wets

Looking back on the glory days of Thatcherism, Conservative rightwingers may be tempted to think that it’s all over. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Tory right is quite possibly just one leadership election away from taking control of a major political party. Most ideological groupings — whether of right, left or centre — would love to be in such a position, but instead find themselves far removed from any realistic prospect of power…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The Media Are Taking UKIP More and More Seriously — How Will the Tory Leadership Respond?

by Peter Hoskin

Once upon a time, only a small gaggle of commentators — including the Express’s Patrick O’Flynn — gave Ukip much thought. That, of course, has changed over recent months, and it seems to have developed even further during the past week. On Friday, my old boss Fraser Nelson devoted his Telegraph column to Nigel Farage and how he’s “extending his message beyond Brussels-bashing”. And today the Sun on Sunday contains an editorial about the same man that is noteworthy in its effusiveness…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: We Announce the New Conservativehome Editorial Team. Paul Goodman is Editor

by Paul Goodman

Mark Wallace has been appointed as the new Executive Editor of Conservative Home. Many readers will know Mark as an experienced campaigner and commentator. He’s been Head of Media Relations for the Institute of Directors and Campaign Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Mark currently blogs at CrashBangWallace, is a Senior Fellow of the TPA and sits on the Council of The Freedom Association. He’ll start work with us in roughly a month’s time.

Andrew Gimson has been appointed Contributing Editor. Andrew is the biographer of Boris Johnson, is a freelance contributor to a wide range of publications, and was parliamentary sketchwriter and Berlin correspondent for the Daily Telegraph.

Peter Hoskin and Harry Phibbs continue their work with the site. Tim Montgomerie is staying on as an adviser to ConservativeHome, and will write a weekly blog. ConservativeHome will continue to campaign for the strong and compassionate conservatism which has inspired the site since he first set it up.

It’s an honour to succeed Tim as the Editor of this site, and my debt to him as a colleague and friend is greater than I can describe. Readers will have seen that Iain Dale is now contributing a weekly diary on Fridays, and there will be more announcements in due course.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Kosovo, A Frozen Conflict

by Srdja Trifkovic

Until a week ago it appeared that the government in Belgrade would give up the last vestiges of its claim to Kosovo for the sake of some indeterminate date in the future when Serbia may join the European Union. A series of unreciprocated concessions over the past few months have encouraged the KLA regime’s mentors in Washington and their European backers to expect the final capitulation. In the end they overplayed their hand by demanding everything and offering nothing.

The demands have been escalating for years. The final objective was stated in December 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel came to Serbia to declare that the “path of Serbia into the EU can only lead through the normalization of its relations with Kosovo”—i.e., Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo. This precondition was stated with her customary subtlety and diplomatic tact, but at least it had the quality of candor which made it difficult for Boris Tadic and his eurofanatical Democrats to pretend that “the European path” did not entail eventual surrender.

The defeat of Tadic last May and the subsequent establishment of a new, allegedly nationalist coalition government in July did not result in any change of course. Quite the contrary: Washington and Brussels were surprisingly comfortable dealing with Šešelj’s former No. 2, Tomislav Nikolic, as president, and a former Miloševic loyalist, Ivica Dacic, as prime minister. The key “Westerner” in the triumvirate is Aleksandar Vucic, known for his embarrassingly groveling statements on visits to Germany and the U.S.

There were no dividends, however. Last October Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Serbs must accept that they cannot change Kosovo’s borders. “We oppose any discussion of territorial changes or reopening Kosovo’s independent status,” Mrs. Clinton declared in Priština after meeting with Kosovo’s self-styled prime minister, Hashim Thaci. “These matters are not up for discussion. The boundaries of an independent, sovereign Kosovo are clear and set.”

Last December, under EU pressure, Serbia agreed to the establishment of a fully-fledged border management system. It provided a visible symbol of Belgrade’s loss of nerve. Furthermore, Dacic was forced to agree to joint passport and customs controls, with equal numbers of Serbian and “Kosovar” officials on duty. Accepting Priština’s right to collect customs duties on goods coming from central Serbia was a significant milestone on what seemed like a terminal slide. Unsurprisingly, the Albanians saw the border as another step toward international recognition.

Serbia’s government policy guidelines made public last January no longer focused on the claim of sovereign rights over the entire province, but on the modest demand for an autonomous status for some 60,000 Serbs living in four northern municipalities. Prime Minister Ivica Dacic even hinted that Serbia could agree to a UN seat for Kosovo, which caused a political storm in Belgrade, although he later withdrew the statement. But as Ted Carpenter noted in The National Interest, both U.S. and EU leaders had reacted to previous conciliatory gestures from Serbia with intransigence bordering on contempt:…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic [Return to headlines]

Montenegrin Opposition Candidate Challenges Presidential Election Results

PODGORICA, April 14 (Xinhua) — Miodrag Lekic, the defeated candidate in Montenegro’s presidential election, has filed an official complaint with the country’s electoral commission, citing numerous irregularities, reported Radio Television Montenegro (RTCG) on Sunday. According to preliminary results, incumbent President Filip Vujanovic of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) took 51.21 percent of the votes, with 48.79 percent going to Lekic…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Syria: Jihadism Cannot be Ignored, Father Dall’Oglio Says

One part open to dialogue, theologians must listen to understand

(by Luciana Borsatti) (ANSAmed) — ROME, MARCH 12 — Jihadism is a cultural, political and military reality that is growing stronger by the day and cannot be ignored, not even on the theological level, according to Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, an Italian Jesuit who lived in Syria for 30 years before being expelled by Damascus authorities in 2012.

The jihadist galaxy is “a considerable cultural, religious, political and military subject”, he told ANSAmed in an interview, stressing the weight of jihadism “in its local and transnational expressions” within the current “geo-strategic” framework.

“It is a political and military actor whose weight must be reckoned with, given that is has won in Iraq, is winning in Afghanistan, will not be defeated in Mali, and is making a solution for Somalia impossible”, he added.

What is to be done? “First of all, operating on an intelligence level to prevent even graver consequences and to bring about the downfall of its projects to universalize terror”.

But action must also occur on the social level, continued the Jesuit, a recent guest at the Anna Lindh Foundation Euro-Mediterranean Forum in Marseille.

This means “helping Islamic civil societies take their responsibilities on the ground”, he added in reference to areas that have fallen under the control of Islamist forces, which have until now been excluded if not banned from power. “They have lived off criticism, but now must begin to live on assumed responsibility, and to work to organize their societies”.

The founder of the Mar Musa monastic community for interfaith dialogue north of Damascus, the Jesuit has the Syrian civil war uppermost in his mind.

“It’s important to protect the democratic diversity of the Syrian people, which, feeling abandoned, turned to jihadism to free themselves of the regime” of President Bashar al-Assad.

Diversity within the Muslim world must also be protected, he added, in order to “defend the pluralism that exists within Islam, which is also an ethnic pluralism”. But in order to do this, the three monotheistic religions must make “a theological effort” to analyze ways to stand up to Islamism and political jihadism, Dall’Oglio said, inviting their intellectual communities to “listen in order to foster mutual understanding”. There are two types of jihadism, he stressed. “One that is open to dialogue” and another that is rigidly dogmatic, “harder to manage, a swamp in which all sorts are crawling, from secret services to mafiosi to extremists. A swamp which we must pull our youth, our children out of: religious youth, that need religious discourse, which they certainly do not find in prisons like Guantanamo”.

As far as Syria, Dall’Oglio concludes, “in the first phase I fought for a diplomatic intervention” to prevent the great international conflicts “from being fought on the living bodies of Syrians”. Then he supported a non-violent NGO presence “when everything was still possible, that is, until the summer of 2011”. But now the time has come, he concludes, for “the right to self-defense and the obligation to rescue a people in great adversity”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Head of Libyan Islamic Extremist Militia Shot

Tripoli, Libya (AP) — A security official says the leader of an Islamic extremist militia in Libya suspected of involvement in an attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador has been shot. Sufyan bin Qumu, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, was shot Sunday in the area of al-Thruwn in the eastern city of Darna, a stronghold of Islamic extremists…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Police Clash With Salafists in Hergla, Sousse, One Killed

Sousse — A 23-year-old young man was killed late on Thursday night during clashes between salafists and the police in the town of Hergla (Sousse), security sources told TAP news agency. The young man was killed by a ricocheting bullet during the clashes that took place when a large number of Salafists gathered in front of the police station in Hergla claiming the release of one of their comrades arrested for several offences, the same sources added…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Christian, Muslims and Jesus by Mona Siddiqui

IN THIS enlightening and inspiring book, Mona Siddiqui, the Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies at Edinburgh University’s Divinity School, discusses how Jesus is both the “bridge and barrier” between Christianity and Islam.

Christians, Muslims And Jesus. Mona Siddiqui, Yale University Press, £20

It is in itself a significant work of inter-faith understanding, and in its account of the historical debates on the role of Jesus in both religions, offers an important model of how such theological dialogues might ideally be conducted without either bigoted intransigence or relativistic self-censoring…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italian Journalist Kidnapped in Syria Will ‘Not Return’

Four members of the press held 10 days by armed militants

(ANSA) — Rome, April 15 — One of the four Italian journalists kidnapped in Syria April 4 and released over the weekend said Monday that he would not be returning to continue covering the country’s brutal civil war.

“I will not go back again because the conditions won’t allow me to do my job. Syrians need to organize and create a situation that ensures that journalists are protected,” Italian state television RAI reporter, Amedeo Ricucci, said.

The journalists, who were taken hostage in northern Syria by armed Islamist militants while filming a documentary, returned to Italy on Saturday.

Ricucci along with Elio Colavolpe, Andrea Vignali and Susan Dabbous told investigators on Monday that they had not been mistreated during the kidnapping and detainment.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

No Radiation Leak at Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Plant: Official

TEHRAN, April 15 (Xinhua) — The deputy of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) dismissed as “baseless” the “rumours” about possible radiation leaks at Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) following an earthquake in the southern parts of the country last week, Press TV reported on Monday…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Qatar Reportedly Buys Picasso’s Child With a Dove

The oil rich Gulf state has snapped up the UK’s most famous work by Modern master, according to French news

The small, oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar has made another major modern art purchase. According to the French newspaper Le Figaro, the Middle Eastern state has acquired Picasso’s Child with a Dove for £50m, a work that until last year had been in a UK collection since 1924. A spokeswoman for the Qatar Museums Authority says she cannot “confirm nor deny [the acquisition]; QMA does not comment on acquisitions”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Spate of Car Bomb Attacks Hit Iraqi Cities

BAGHDAD, April 15 (Xinhua) — A spate of car bomb explosions hit some Iraqi cities on Monday morning, with dozens of people killed or wounded, the police said. In northern Iraq, three car bombs were separately detonated in the city of Tuz-Khurmato some 200 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, killing a total of three people and wounding some 42 others, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Turkey and Egypt Nix NATO Meet With Israel

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 15 — An initiative to bring Israel and six Arab countries’ ministers together under NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue group for the first time since 2008 has been nixed by Turkey and Egypt, who said “it was not the right time” for such a meeting. “The general-secretary was planning to invite the foreign ministers of the Mediterranean Dialogue countries on the sidelines of the NATO foreign ministers meeting scheduled for April 23 but Turkey objected to the idea,” a Western diplomatic source told the Hurriyet daily on condition of anonymity. Established in 2004, the Mediterranean Dialogue brings Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, Algeria and Jordan together with the purpose of contributing to regional security and stability. However, the last time the group met at the foreign ministerial level was 2008 — a reflection of the ongoing dispute between Israel and the Arab world. Following Israel’s recent apology to Turkey, which created a positive climate in the region and raised prospects for the launching of a new peace process between Palestine and Israel, Western powers wanted to resume the Mediterranean Dialogue meetings at the ministerial level. Turkey vetoed Israeli participation in NATO’s Chicago Summit in May 2012, as well as an Israeli demand to have a permanent office at NATO, in reaction to the Israeli military operation in 2010 against the activists on board the Mavi Marmara vessel that was aiming to break the Israeli embargo against Gaza. Israel apologized to Turkey on March 22 after nearly three years, kick-starting a normalization process between the two countries.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Fazil Say Gets 10-Month Suspended Sentence

For ironic tweets about muezzin, which court found ‘insulting’

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 15 — An Istanbul court on Monday handed world-famous Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say, 43, a 10-month suspended sentence for making ironic Tweets about the Muslim faith. Say, who has been dubbed the Turkish Mozart by the German press, was found guilty of “insulting the religious values of part of the population” and faced a maximum sentence of 15 months in prison.

Say was indicted in October after he was reported by Islamists for making fun of a particularly hurried call to prayer by a muezzin in an Istanbul mosque by saying: “Why in such a rush? A lover or Raki (Turkish anise-flavored spirits)?” He also made jokes about the Islamic idea of paradise, citing verses by venerated Persian poet Omar Khayyam.

The pianist, a declared atheist and leftist, was not present at his sentencing, Hurriyet daily online reported. He condemned the proceedings against him, which many in Turkey saw as a symbol of the struggle for freedom of expression, as a politically motivated trial orchestrated by Islamic Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power for 11 years.

Say said in October that if found guilty, he might emigrate to Japan. “I am perhaps the first person in the world to be put on trial for declaring my atheism”, he told Hurriyet daily in an interview at the time.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Will Israel Attack Iran, Part 1

The first week of April, former CIA director Michael Hayden said regarding Iran building nuclear weapons: “I am doubtful, and pessimistic, that we’re going to be able to solve this without someone taking some sort of kinetic action against the Iranians.” The other day, someone asked me if I thought Israel would attack Iran. I said I didn’t think so because of the disastrous consequences that would result from an Iranian response. I will explain 3 levels of response the Iranians could give, and then explain how if none of them occurs, one should consider that this is all one big play being acted out on a global scale.

If the Israeli attack is limited in the hope of simply delaying Iran’s nuclear capabilities, the Iranian response would also probably be limited, though costly. Their tactic would be “martyrdom.” By martyrdom, I mean they would release “martyrs” into Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iranians have boasted of having 100,000 martyrs ready to die for their country. Let’s say they actually have only 1% of that. Still, can you imagine 1000 Iranian Shiite suicide bombers attacking Iraqi Sunnis? The Sunnis would respond, and the majority Iraqi Shiites would respond to them. Civil War would ensue and Iraq would be in chaos.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

India: Marines ‘Should Appear in Uniform Before Top Court’

Rome, 15 April (AKI) — Two Italian marines facing trial in India for the killing of two fishermen should wear their naval uniforms when they appear before at a Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday, an international legal expert told Adnkronos.

“The reason for this is that they need to affirm that they are members of the military and therefore organs of the Italian state,” Natalino Ronzitti told Adnkronos.

“The big problem is that of jurisdiction,” added Ronzitti, who teaches international law at The Rome-based International Affairs Institute (IAI).

“Italy maintains that India does not have jurisdiction in the case and that the two marines are protected by immunity in their role,” Ronzitti said.

“It is essential to reaffirm this,” he added.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are accused of shooting dead two fisherman they mistook for pirates while protecting an Italian oil tanker off the southwest Indian state of Kerala in February 2012.

The marines were returned to India last month to end an escalating diplomatic standoff, but there has been opposition in Italy to the move.

On 26 March, Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi resigned in protest at the decision.

India is setting up a special court in New Delhi to try the marines and the Indian government has promised Italy that the pair will not face the death penalty.

In January the Supreme Court ruled that the case should be taken out of the hands of the state of Kerala.

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

Opium Crop in Afghanistan Heading for Record Levels

Afghanistan’s opium crop is heading towards record levels a bleak forecast warns, as the country risks becoming a narcostate despite hundreds of millions of pounds spent to combat the drug trade.

The United Nations’ early assessment of the 2013 crop found farmers were planning to plant more poppy than last year, marking the third annual rise in the drug’s cultivation. UN officials predict the increase will push this year’s crop close to 2007’s record level and again see Afghanistan responsible for more than 90 per cent of the world’s heroin…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: US Drones Programme ‘Risks Legalising Al-Qaeda’

The CIA’s drone strikes programme on Pakistani soil has been compared with al-Qaeda attacks, as the United Nations’ human rights investigator warned it risks giving a legal basis to terrorism.

Ben Emmerson QC, who is leading an inquiry into the use of drones, says the strikes are illegal under international law and that they could provide justification for terrorist attacks. His comments will anger victims of terrorist attacks and threaten to undermine his nine-month investigation. In an interview with CNN, Mr Emmerson, the UN’s special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, said: “If it is lawful for the US to drone al-Qaeda associates wherever they find them, then it is also lawful for al-Qaeda to target US military or infrastructure wherever (militants) find them.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Teenager Exposes India’s ‘One Month Wives’ Sex Tourism

A 17-year-old girl has exposed the scale of Islamic sex tourism in India where Muslim men from the Middle East and Africa are buying ‘one month wives’ for sex.

Campaigners for Muslim women’s rights said while short term ‘contract marriages’ are illegal in India and forbidden in Islam, they are increasing in Hyderabad, in southern India, where wealthy foreigners, local agents and ‘Qazis’ — government-appointed Muslim priests — are exploiting poverty among the city’s Muslim families.

The victim, Nausheen Tobassum, revealed the scale of the problem when she escaped from her home last month after her parents pressurised her to consummate a forced marriage to a middle aged Sudanese man who had paid around £1,200 for her to be his ‘wife’ for four weeks.

She told police she had been taken by her aunt to a hotel where she and three other teenager girls were introduced to a Sudanese oil company executive. The ‘groom’, Usama Ibrahim Mohammed, 44 and married with two children in Khartoum, later arrived at her home where a Qazi performed a wedding ceremony.

According to Inspector Vijay Kumar he had paid 100,000 Rupees (around £1,200) to the girl’s aunt Mumtaz Begum, who in turn paid 70,000 Rupees to her parents, 5,000 Rupees to the Qazi, 5,000 Rupees to an Urdu translator and kept 20,000 Rupees herself. The wedding certificate came with a ‘Talaknama’ which fixed the terms of the divorce at the end of the groom’s holiday…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Abu Sayyaf Members Killed, 3 Soldiers Hurt in S. Philippine Clash

MANILA, April 15 (Xinhua) — At least eight members of the rogue group Abu Sayyaf were killed and three soldiers were wounded following an encounter in the southern Philippine province of Basilan on Monday morning. Col. Carlito Galvez, commander of the Philippine Army’s 104th Brigade, said government security forces attacked the lair of Furuji Indama and Isnilon Hapilon, two of the senior leaders of the Abu Sayyaf based in Basilan…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

North Korea: The Bigger Picture

It is a diversion orchestrated by the globalists behind the visible powers to take our attention away from the next significant event, which will take place in or around Syria.

Anyone who remembers the Cuban missile crisis or has an accurate historical understanding of those events just over a half-century ago will recall the tense talk of World War III by the average American. Russian missiles in Cuba pitted a face-off between the United States and the Soviet Union. It resulted in a naval blockade of Cuba and several days of uncertainty as the world watched and waited to see who blinked first. Although the crisis ended without planetary destruction by nuclear bombs, people understood the seriousness of the events and that the world stood on the precipice of a third world war.

Back then, we had only three television networks that did not broadcast 24 hours per day, and you actually had to get up to change channels. No internet, no instant news via social networking beyond face-to-face discussion between neighbors over the fence. Despite such an arcane system of communication, most Americans knew the seriousness of the world events unfolding in front of them. Today, not so much.

Despite the vast number of professional analysts given “face time” on TV new programs, others providing their input on a constant stream of radio shows, and even more who offer their perspectives of every intricate detail of the missiles of North Korea via the internet, people are missing the larger picture of current events regarding the “acting out” of North Korea. Perhaps it’s because of the constant coverage, or at least the perspective provided by the corporate media, that people aren’t understanding that we are currently engaged in World War III. It’s just that the actual shooting between the global super powers simply hasn’t started yet.

The events relating to North Korea can be compared to a picture hidden within another, larger picture.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

North Korean Hoax? Tourists Find Children Skating While Media Shows Tanks in the Square

International TV broadcasters have been repeatedly showing tanks trundling through Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square in a demonstration of North Korean national power.

But when Patrick Thornquist, a Chicago teacher visiting the North Korean capital at the end of last week, arrived in the square, he was surprised by what he saw. This iconic square — Pyongyang’s political, military and symbolic heart — was full of children rollerblading and shouting with joy.

One of leader Kim Jong Un’s contributions to the nation has been building roller-skating parks and promoting entertainment facilities. And Thornquist was struck by the fact that, on watching the news later that day, it was still featuring footage of tanks.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Boko Haram — Collapse of Amnesty May Lead to Civil War, Bola Ajibola Warns

Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Prince Bola Ajibola, SAN, has expressed fears that the collapse of the ongoing amnesty plans for Boko Haram members may snowball into another civil war even as the youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria has urged the Federal Government to take steps to crush the sect following its rejection of amnesty’s plan.

Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in the 19 northern States has rebuked the Ja’amatu Nasril Islam, JNI, — the apex muslim body in the country — for claiming that prominent Christian leaders and majority of Christians back amnesty for Boko Haram…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Mend Threatens Anti-Islam Attack

MEND, operating from Nigeria’s south, says it will attack Muslims to protect Christians in Nigeria. Starting May 31, Nigeria’s oil militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said it will target mosques and Islamic institutions, in a new terror campaign, “in defence of Christianity.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Somalia: Gunmen Storm Courthouse After Two Suicide Explosions

MOGADISHU, Somalia Apr 14 2013 (Garowe Online) — Gunmen have taken over a courthouse in Mogadishu following two suicide bombings and a huge gunfight that erupted outside Hamarweyne courthouse while there were court proceedings, Garowe Online reports.

According to early reports, two suicide bombers attacked the outside of the court detonating their explosives killing security.

Unconfirmed reports say that 11 men stormed the courthouse and are holding people hostage. Other conflicting reports say that the gunmen are still battling security outside the courthouse…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Mexican “Los Rojos” Gang Leader Killed

MEXICO CITY, April 14 (Xinhua) — The alleged leader of the “Los Rojos” (The Reds) drug gang was found dead Saturday night in the southern state of Morelos, officials said Sunday. Antonio Eli Roman Miranda, known as “La Mona”, was among the two bodies discovered near the Tequesquitengo Lake, some 136 km south of Mexico City, the General Attorney’s Office (PGJE) of Morelos said in a statement…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nicolás Maduro: Heir to Hugo Chávez, Wins Close Election for President of Venezuela

Nicolás Maduro, the acting president and handpicked political heir to Hugo Chávez, narrowly won election to serve the remainder of Mr. Chávez’s six-year term as president of Venezuela, officials said late Sunday. He defeated Henrique Capriles Radonski, a state governor who ran strongly against Mr. Chávez in October.

Election authorities said that with more than 99 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Maduro had 50.6 percent to Mr. Capriles’s 49.1 percent.

[Return to headlines]

Immigration Reform: The Truth Challenged and Useful Idiot Sen. Marco Rubio

Like ObamaCare, it appears the bill will have to pass before anyone knows what is really in it.

Immigration is back in the headlines this week. ABC News is reporting the senators from the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” are expected to unveil their comprehensive immigration bill, on Tuesday. Reportedly the bill is about 1,500 pages in length and “includes a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.”

Like ObamaCare, it appears the bill will have to pass before anyone knows what is really in it. Meanwhile Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) appeared on the Sunday talk shows to push the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill. Let’s look at what Sen. Rubio said and why he will go down in history as a useful idiot if this bill becomes the law of the land.

First, during his appearances the viewers were told there that there are 11 million illegal aliens in America. That’s a fantasy number. Nobody knows how many illegal aliens are in America because there is no place to count them — besides, if there were such a place, illegal aliens would not go and be counted. Rubio is wrong to mislead the public with this false information. The truth is the borders have been unsecured for decades, especially since President Ronald Reagan last passed amnesty in 1986 with the promise to secure them. That’s over 27 years of open borders.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pope Francis to Maintain Hard Line on American Nuns

LCWR ‘radically feminist’ on birth control, gay marriage

(ANSA) — Vatican City, April 15 — Pope Francis is continuing the Church’s critical position on the majority of American nuns for deviating from official Catholic doctrine, the Vatican said Monday. Gerhard Mueller, prefect of Church orthodoxy watchdog Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, met with directors from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which represents more than 80% of American nuns. In April last year the LCWR was chided in a Vatican report for allegedly promoting “radical feminist themes” and devoting too much time to social justice while remaining unacceptably quiet on the Church’s opposition to birth control and same-sex marriage. On Monday, Mueller said he recently discussed the report with the pope, “who reaffirmed its conclusions and the reform plan for LCWR”. The reforms, which included getting the group’s statutes and by-laws in line with official Vatican doctrine, have been put off by LCWR leaders, who have cited a need to have a further ecclesial dialogue with the Holy See.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Britain’s Got Sleaze: Bgt Viewers’ Backlash Over the Lap-Dancer and the Schoolgirl of 11 Singing About One-Night Stands

Britain’s Got Talent has been hit by a huge backlash from viewers after broadcasting a performance from an 11-year-old schoolgirl singing a song about a one night stand, and a highly sexualised lapdancing performance — all before the 9pm watershed.

The first episode of this year’s ITV talent contest, which was shown at 7pm on Saturday night and watched by more than 13 million people, was branded ‘totally unsuitable’ by outraged parents.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Global-Alarmism Makes a Predictable Appearance

You can rely on scientific hysteria to keep making itself known on a recurring schedule. Great research minds locked away in sterilized laboratories occasionally surface to reveal the findings of their work, which continue to point to the need for more funding for their projects. Problems are never solved; they appear and must be combated until interest in them can no longer be generated…

As the public are sold on climate change science and ‘the need to act’; companies like Monsanto step in with ‘solutions’. In this case it is genetically engineered crops that can overcome the alleged weather extremes and produce the higher yields necessary to combat population growth. The job of a company like Monsanto in this instance is not to fix the problem the best way according to free-market solutions; but to create something that fits the model a) created by politically funded scientists and b) according to the way that lobbyists have sold the deception through a complicit media.

The potential problem with bio-tech crops is that you have to keep going back to the supplier for more. Which makes producing them a bit like, as one Observer reader alluded, a form of heroin distribution.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]