Gates of Vienna News Feed 4/22/2013

The surviving Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is awake and able to communicate at least minimally with his interrogators. The federal government has determined that he must be tried in a civilian court, and not in a military tribunal. Meanwhile, the mainstream media have acknowledged that the Tsarnaev brothers seem to have been motivated by religion.

In other news, the homelessness crisis now includes educated middle-class Spaniards, with thousands of elite but unemployed professionals living rough on the streets of Madrid.

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

Thanks to Andy Bostom, C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Nilk, 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
» 3% Target Not Only Factor in EU Excessive-Deficit Decision
» Greece: French Eye Rail Operators and Airports
» Homeless Crisis Hits Spain’s Educated Elite
» Italians Cut Medical Visits as Recession Bites
» Italian Spread Drops: Stocks Gain on Napolitano Re-Election
» Italy: Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena Investigators Seek Reinforcements
» Italy: Artisan Businesses at Risk With 140,000 Closures Feared 2013
» “Tamerlan(e)” Tsarnaev and Killing —From Koranic Piety
» 17 Unanswered Questions About the Boston Marathon Bombing the Media is Afraid to Ask
» 17 Unanswered Questions the Media is Afraid to Ask
» April 22nd: Earth Day Protection Racket
» Bomb Suspect Wakes Up: He is Conscious and Answering FBI Questions in Writing After ‘Shooting Himself Through Mouth on Boat’
» Boston Bomb Suspect to be Tried in Civilian Court, White House Says
» Brothers Tsarnaev Inspired by Chechen Warlord on State Department Payroll
» Caught Just in Time: ‘Bombers Were About to Plant More Devices But Plot Was Spoiled by Release of CCTV Photos’
» Dead Boston Bomber Phoned His Mother in Final Shoot Out With Cops: Suspect Told Her ‘Mama, I Love You’ Before Hanging Up and Resuming Deadly Rampage
» Earth Day: A Pagan Holiday
» Elder Boston Bomber Was ‘Radicalised in the U. S.’
» How Doctor’s Daughter Became the Muslim Convert Widow of Boston Bomber: Terrorist Husband ‘Brainwashed’ Her and She Gave Up Her Dreams of College to Have His Baby at 21
» Military Men Witnessed at Boston Bombing Identified as National Guard CST Teams
» Nestle CEO Seeks to Control the World’s Water Supply
» Obama’s Blood Trail From Benghazi to Boston
» Officials: Bomb Suspects Appear Driven by Faith
» Sanctioning Iran’s American Allies
» Sen. Lindsey Graham: Boston Bombing Proves Homeland is the Battlefield
» Shocking Footage: Americans Ordered Out of Homes at Gunpoint by SWAT Teams (Video)
» The Nice Muslim Family Next Door
» Tourists Flock to Franklin Street for a Glimpse of the Scene Where the ‘Boston Bomber’ Was Captured
» ‘Tragedies Can Happen Anywhere. It’s Too Bad’: Friend Describes Tsarnaev’s Callous Words About Attack One Day Later
» Witness: Tamerlan Tsarnaev Run Over by Cops, Not His Brother
» Yellowstone’s Volcano Bigger Than Thought
» Alleged Terror Plot on Toronto Passenger Train Thwarted by Authorities
Europe and the EU
» Activists Break-in at U.S. Military Site in Sicily
» Berlin Praises President Napolitano After Re-Election
» ‘Climbers’ In the Church Says Pope
» Dutch Police Make Arrest Over Leiden School Gun Threat
» Germany is Not Seeking to Homogenise Europe, Says Merkel
» Italy: Tool to Bust Tax Evasion to be Used in ‘Extreme Cases’
» Italy: SEl ‘Will Oppose Left-Right Govt’
» Italy: Renzi Ready for PD Leadership Challenge
» Italy: Heavy Rainfall, Snow Trigger Floods, Avalanche Warnings
» Merkel Says Eurozone Members Must Consider ‘Ceding Sovereignty’
» Sweden Democrats Rake in Southern Support
» UK: 2,600 NHS Workers Earn More Than Prime Minister David Cameron’s £142,000 Salary
» UK: Hundreds of Top Bosses Demand Better Deal With the EU Saying Move is Crucial for Jobs and Growth
» UK: Lib Dem Councillor is Held Over Mystery Bomb Campaign in Market Town That He Blamed on ‘Ali-G-Style Yobs’
» UK: Seven Suspected Paedophiles Arrested After Online Group of Vigilante Parents Set Up Sting Operation
» UK: Will One of Our Cities be Next to Face ‘Lockdown’?
» Want to Live on Mars? Private Martian Colony Project Seeks Astronauts
» Warning to UK on Its ‘Open Door to Fanatics’: Russian Government Says MI5 Should Watch ‘Extremist Islamic’ Exiles From the Country in Wake of Boston Bombing
» World From Berlin: ‘Once Again: The Victor is Berlusconi’
Mediterranean Union
» EU and Morocco Start Talks on Free Trade Agreement
» UFM: Assembly Calls for More Euro-Med Bank, More Visas
North Africa
» Can Stewart Save Egypt?
» Egyptian Judges Warn Morsi Against Political Interference
» Egypt: Archaeologists Uncover World’s Oldest Port, Hieroglyphic Papyri
Israel and the Palestinians
» Material for Palestinian-Turkish Hospital in Gaza
Middle East
» Kuwaiti Opposition Politician Released in Insult Case
» Millions of “Slaves” To Prepare the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
» Turkey-Israel: Negotiations on Mavi Marmara Compensation
» Turkish and PNA Presidents Meet in Istanbul
South Asia
» How a Freewheeling Indian Market Became the Hub of the Global Diamond Trade
» Indian Rape Victim, Five, ‘Abandoned in Hospital by Her Parents’ As Thousands Clash With Police Over Handling of Sexual Assault Cases in the Country
» Indonesia: The Hobbits? They Lived in Asia
Far East
» More and More Chinese Gamblers Do Not Pay Their Debts in Singapore
Australia — Pacific
» Notre Dame Puts the Lid on Lefties
Sub-Saharan Africa
» North-East Nigeria Clashes Claim 185 Lives
» Gang of Eight’s Immigration Reform: Gang Members and Drunk Drivers Are Welcome If…
» Migrants Injure Police in Melilla Beach Scuffle
» The Boston Marathon Bombing and Amnesty for Illegal Aliens
» Tunisia: Italian Interior Minister to Hold Migration Talks
Culture Wars
» Congress ‘Astonished’ By Military Smear of Christians
» Pope Francis Supports Crackdown on US Nuns
» Can Big Quakes Trigger Others Far Away?
» Dinos Sat on Nests Like Birds, Shells Reveal
» Mind Control is Becoming Reality
» The Dark Side of the Digital Revolution

3% Target Not Only Factor in EU Excessive-Deficit Decision

Efforts to restore financial health more important, says EC

(ANSA) — Rome, April 22 — The European Commission said Monday that it will not only look at whether Italy has brought its deficit under the permitted threshold of below 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) when deciding whether to lift the excessive deficit procedure against the country. The EC is set to decide on May 29 whether to close the procedure.

The government has forecast that recession-hit Italy’s deficit will be 2.9% of GDP this year, following tax hikes and spending cuts adopted by outgoing Premier Mario Monti’s emergency technocrat administration.

Italy had a deficit-GDP ratio of 3% in 2012, Eurostat said on Monday.

“We don’t look only at the 3% target,” said an EC spokesperson when asked about the procedure against Italy and several other European Union member states.

“It’s a nominal target. The efforts the countries are making to restore health (to their public finances) are more important than the nominal value”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: French Eye Rail Operators and Airports

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 22 — French companies were taking a keen interest in the current wave of Greek privatizations, daily Kathimerini reported quoting France’s junior minister for transport and the maritime economy, Frederic Cuvillier, as saying during a meeting on Friday with Greek Development and Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis. French firms Vinci, SNCF and Alstom are mainly interested in Greece’s regional airports, railway service operator TRAINOSE and the railway carriage maintenance and repair company Rosco, Cuvillier reportedly told Hatzidakis. The French official said there will soon be cooperation between the two countries on the railway front involving Alstom and SNCF, while Vinci will also participate in projects concerning highways and regional airports. Hatzidakis said discussions also focused on the restarting of work on the country’s major highways.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Homeless Crisis Hits Spain’s Educated Elite

More and more qualified middle class Spaniards are sleeping rough in the streets of Madrid every night, according to a study carried out by the capital’s emergency service Samur.

Spain’s capital has the highest number of homeless people ever, and yet the profile of those sleeping in the streets is in stark contrast to what one might expect.

One in four homeless people in Madrid has completed some form of higher education and 41 percent of them are sleeping rough as a result of losing their jobs.

Only 6.4 percent are addicted to drugs and just 21 percent have a problem with alcohol, online daily 20minutos reported on Monday.

Madrid’s emergency service Samur has found most of the newest homeless people in the capital are either middle class or lower middle class who have been affected by Spain’s financial crisis.

They’re also older than ever, with the average age of a homeless person in Madrid now standing at 46.36 compared to 41.5 in 2008.

They haven’t given up hope, though.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italians Cut Medical Visits as Recession Bites

Even kids’ dental care neglected

(ANSA) — Rome, April 19 — More and more Italians are deciding to go without medical treatment and even neglecting their children’s dental care as the country’s worst recession in 20 years bites ever deeper into household budgets, according to figures out Friday.

Nine million Italians have stopped treating small or minor medical conditions as a result of the ongoing economic crisis, OsservaSalute said Friday. The annual report by the health observatory said almost two million elderly people now go without medical treatment including non-reimbursed pharmaceutical drugs.

Further, 40% of people over-65 can no longer afford quick private check-ups, “resigning” themselves to long waiting lists on the national health service, the report said.

Also, families are increasingly renouncing dental treatment for their children. The use of antidepressants has risen from 8.18 daily doses per 1,000 inhabitants in 2000 to 35.72 in 2010 and the number of suicides has also risen in keeping with the trend across Europe, the study said. The recession has also had a negative impact on lifestyle choices, with the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables falling in favour of cheaper high-energy foods, and Italians are also exercising less in order to save money.

Moreover last year 10% fewer Italians underwent thermal treatments for medical conditions, compared to a 5% rise in neighbouring France.

Dentists have also seen a 30% drop in turnover in the last two years as Italians look to low-cost packages available on the internet or even go abroad in an attempt to cut treatment costs.

One Italian family out of three gave up taking their children back to the dentist in 2012 after the first visit as part of belt-tightening sacrifices during the economic crisis, a report by the National Orthodontic College said on Friday.

Approximately two million children risk permanent damage to their teeth and 40% fewer families can afford braces to correct dental alignment, the report said.

According to the publication, currently five million children between the ages of five and 14 are in need of orthodontic devices.

In Italy, 90-95% of orthodontic care is private.

The recession, which is expected to last until next year, is pushing thousands of businesses to the wall, forcing countless workers out of their jobs, swelling the ranks of the ‘new poor’ who turn to food kitchens and free hospitals for help, and driving a rising number of suicides.

A triple suicide in the Marche region earlier this month was one of the most dramatic recent effects of the grim economic times.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Spread Drops: Stocks Gain on Napolitano Re-Election

Formation of new government now seen as likely

(ANSA) — Rome, April 22 — Pressure on Italian bonds eased and shares on the Milan stock exchange posted big gains in early trading on Monday after President Giorgio Napolitano was re-elected on Saturday.

The re-election has boosted hopes Italy will soon have a new government after two months of political deadlock following February’s inconclusive general election.

The spread between the 10-year Italian bond and the German benchmark, a key measure of Italy’s borrowing costs and of investor confidence, dropped to 288 basis points with a yield of 4.14% after closing at 297 points on Friday.

At one stage early on Monday the spread fell as low as 279 before climbing back up eight points.

The Milan stock exchange’s FTSE Mib index gained 2% in just over an hour and a half of trading, with shares in banks leading the way. UBI gained 5%, Banco Popolare 4.27% and Unicredit was up 3.92%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena Investigators Seek Reinforcements

Siena, 19 April (AKI) — The Siena prosecutor’s office said on Thursday it could no longer cope with the workload in its widening probe of troubled bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena and asked Florence to loan it at least one extra magistrate.

As part of investigations into the scandal-ridden lender, Italian finance police sought documents from the Milan offices of the American investment bank JP Morgan on Thursday relating to MPS’s costly 2008 acquisition of rival bank Antonveneta.

The MPS finance department is at the centre of a derivatives scandal that led to 730 million euros of losses announced by the bank in March.

The bad derivatives trades in 2007-2008 were alleged carried out to conceal losses stemming from the 9 billion euro purchase of Antonveneta bank in 2008.

MPS was given an emergency four billion euro government loan this year in its second bailout in four years. It has lost over 90 percent of its value since its costly acquisition of Antonveneta undermined its capital base five years ago.

Magistrates in Sienna are also looking into bribery allegations over that deal.

In addition, senior officials from MPS are facing penalties totalling as much as five million euros from the Bank of Italy for alleged fraud and corruption.

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

Italy: Artisan Businesses at Risk With 140,000 Closures Feared 2013

Study says 300,000 workers could lose jobs as sector slumps

(ANSA) — Rome, April 22 — As many as 140,000 small artisan businesses risk going belly up by the end of 2013, a study published by Italy’s CNA research center said on Monday. Some 300,000 jobs could be lost from business closings in the suffering sector that includes construction companies, textiles and clothing firms, boat makers, furniture producers, jewelers and ceramic artisans.

The report said that artisan firms are at a higher risk of failure compared to other sectors. “Artisan enterprises, which represent 25% of Italian productivity, saw a 30.4% drop in 2012 with 122,899 closures out of a total of 403,934 businesses,” the report said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

“Tamerlan(e)” Tsarnaev and Killing —From Koranic Piety

by Andrew Bostom

Killed Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen Muslim, has been identified by the FBI as a “strong believer” in Islam, and an adept of jihadism. Tamerlan was unabashed in his Muslim piety and avowal of jihad—the latter bringing him to the attention of both Russian intelligence and the FBI. Indeed, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was identified last summer, during a 6-month sojourn in Russia, as having frequented a well-known jihad-fomenting mosque in Machachkala, Dagestan, meeting directly with a jihadist underground movement leader there at least six times. It has further been suggested that Tamerlan and his surviving brother Dzhokar, a Boston Marathon bombing suspect co-conspirator, who was in thrall to his elder brother (and to jihadism, as well), were jointly “inspired” by Doku Umarov, known as Russia’s Bin Laden, and also an ethnic Chechen. Umarov is believed to have organized jihad terror attacks, such as the mass-murderous homicide bombing of Moscow’s Metro system, which slaughtered at least 40. Ominously, as noted by Chechen analyst, Dr. Carlo Gallo,

Umarov has made statements in which he said that the enemy of Islam is not just Russia, but America…

But the astute observations of young freelance writer Alyssa Kilzer—a client of Zubeidat Tsarnaev, mother to Tamerlan and Dzhokar—are even more chilling, and indicate that the brother’s “radicalization” was a pious Muslim family affair. Ms. Kilzer, who received facials from Zubeidat Tsarnaev for several years at the Tsarnaev household (410 Norfolk Street, on the border between Cambridge and Watertown, MA), therein witnessed arranged marriages, wife-battering, hijab donning, strict Islamic piety with repeated Koranic references, and ultimately, baleful anti-American Islamic conspiracy theories about 9/11/2001. Kilzer also alludes to the “political activities” of Zubeidat Tsarnaev and her husband (Anzor) had engaged in (a euphemism for their anti-Russian jihadism?), which caused the Daghestani native parents—both lawyers—to flee…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom [Return to headlines]

17 Unanswered Questions About the Boston Marathon Bombing the Media is Afraid to Ask

Will we ever learn the full truth about the Boston Marathon bombing? Personally, I have been looking into this attack for days, and I just keep coming up with more questions than answers. At this point, I honestly have no idea what really happened. Why was a bomb drill being held on the day of the attack? Why have authorities denied that a bomb drill was taking place? Were Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev acting alone? What was the nature of their previous contacts with the FBI and other federal agencies? Why did the FBI at first deny that they had been in contact with the Tsarnaev brothers previously? Why was the investigation of a mysterious Saudi national with familial links to al-Qaeda suddenly dropped shortly after the Saudi ambassador held an unscheduled meeting with Barack Obama? Why did Michelle Obama subsequently visit that mysterious Saudi national in the hospital? If you are looking for answers to these questions, I am afraid that I don’t have them at this point. But what alarms me is that the mainstream media seems to be afraid to ask any of the hard questions that they should be asking. They just seem to swallow whatever the authorities tell them hook, line and sinker without following up on any of the things in this case that simply do not seem to make sense.

So what kinds of questions should they be asking? The following are 17 unanswered questions about the Boston Marathon bombing that the media appears to be afraid to ask…

#1 Why were runners being told that a bomb squad drill was taking place during the Boston Marathon?


#11 Initially we were told that Saudi national Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi was a “person of interest” in the case. But now he is scheduled to leave the countrywith the full blessing of the U.S. government. Why is there such a rush to get him out of the United States?

#12 Why aren’t we being told that Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi was photographedwith two other Saudis in the vicinity of the Boston marathon bombings?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

17 Unanswered Questions the Media is Afraid to Ask

Will we ever learn the full truth about the Boston Marathon bombing? Personally, I have been looking into this attack for days, and I just keep coming up with more questions.

Why was a bomb drill being held on the day of the attack? Why have authorities denied that a bomb drill was taking place? Were Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev acting alone? What was the nature of their previous contacts with the FBI and other federal agencies? Why did the FBI at first deny that they had been in contact with the Tsarnaev brothers previously?

Why was the investigation of a mysterious Saudi national with familial links to al-Qaeda suddenly dropped shortly after the Saudi ambassador held an unscheduled meeting with Barack Obama? Why did Michelle Obama subsequently visit that mysterious Saudi national in the hospital? If you are looking for answers to these questions, I am afraid that I don’t have them at this point.

But what alarms me is that the mainstream media seems to be afraid to ask any of the hard questions that they should be asking.

They just seem to swallow whatever the authorities tell them hook, line and sinker without following up on any of the things in this case that simply do not seem to make sense.

So what kinds of questions should they be asking? The following are 17 unanswered questions about the Boston Marathon bombing that the media appears to be afraid to ask…

#1 Why were runners being told that a bomb squad drill was taking place during the Boston Marathon? The following is from an article by Natural News…

Alastair Stevenson is a veteran marathon runner who has competed in dozens of marathons around the world, including the London Marathon. He’s very familiar with the security typically found at marathons, and he immediately noticed something odd about the Boston marathon security.

“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,” he was quoted as saying by

In the interview, you’ll hear Stevenson say:

“At the start at the event, at the Athlete’s Village, there were people on the roof looking down onto the Village at the start. There were dogs with their handlers going around sniffing for explosives, and we were told on a loud announcement that we shouldn’t be concerned and that it was just a drill. And maybe it was just a drill, but I’ve never seen anything like that — not at any marathon that I’ve ever been to. You know, that just concerned me that that’s the only race that I’ve seen in my life where they had dogs sniffing for explosions, and that’s the only place where there had been explosions.”

#2 Why did authorities deny that a bomb squad drill was being held?

#3 According to The Mirror, the FBI is reportedly “hunting” a 12-strong terrorist “sleeper cell” that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were allegedly a part of…

A source close to the investigation said: “We have no doubt the brothers were not acting alone. The devices used to detonate the two bombs were highly sophisticated and not the kind of thing people learn from Google.

“They were too advanced. Someone gave the brothers the skills and it is now our job to find out just who they were. Agents think the sleeper cell has up to a dozen members and has been waiting several years for their day to come.”

If that is the case, why are authorities in Boston adamantly insisting that the two brothers were acting alone?

#4 CBS News is reporting that the FBI interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev back in 2011. The mother of the two Tsarnaev brothers insists that the FBI had been in contact with them for up to five years. At first, the FBI denied any previous contact with the two suspects. Will we ever learn the true scope of the previous relationship between the FBI and the Tsarnaev brothers?

#5 Debka is reporting that the Tsarnaev brothers were “double agents” which had been “hired by US and Saudi intelligence to penetrate the Wahhabi jihadist networks which, helped by Saudi financial institutions, had spread across the restive Russian Caucasian.” Could this possibly be true? If so, will the American people be told the truth about these links?

#6 According to their uncle, there were “mentors” that “radicalized” the Tsarnaev brothers. So precisely who were those “mentors”?

#7 What happened during Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s trip to Dagestan and Chechnya last year?


Click on the URL above to see the other 10 questions…

[Return to headlines]

April 22nd: Earth Day Protection Racket

EARTH DAY: A day of action to save the earth from farmers, ranchers, mining, timber, oil, chemical companies, and anyone else who seeks to utilize the planet’s resources to enhance, enrich, and extend the lives of people worldwide.

Characterized by the media’s massive awareness drive to (a) remind the world that U.S. capitalists are raping the earth, stealing its riches, and causing environmental problems; (b) advocate a greater government control of land, resources, and industries; and (c) increase the ever growing white male guilt levels.

A great way to politicize spring cleaning and to politicize the rebirth of nature.


[Return to headlines]

Bomb Suspect Wakes Up: He is Conscious and Answering FBI Questions in Writing After ‘Shooting Himself Through Mouth on Boat’

Alleged Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is awake and responding to questions in his hospital bed.

The 19-year-old is responding sporadically in writing to questions from investigators regarding other cell members and other unexploded bombs, law enforcement officials said.

Agents are quizzing Tsarnaev about whether he had any accomplices who helped him carry out his attacks.

The news comes as it is revealed Tsarnaev, who is badly wounded in the throat, meekly pulled up his shirt to show officers that he was not wearing a vest strapped with explosives on Friday night as he emerged from the boat he had been cowering in.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Boston Bomb Suspect to be Tried in Civilian Court, White House Says

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, will not be tried as an enemy combatant, the White House said on Monday. “We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.

Mr. Carney noted that it was illegal to try an American citizen in a military commission, and that a number of high-profile terrorism cases were handled in the civilian court system, including that of the would-be bomber who tried to bring down a passenger jet around Christmas 2009 with explosives in his underwear.

Mr. Carney said the government had gotten “valuable intelligence” from suspects kept in the civilian judicial process. “The system has repeatedly proven it can handle” such cases, he said.

[Return to headlines]

Brothers Tsarnaev Inspired by Chechen Warlord on State Department Payroll

The Daily Mail reports today that despite the fact the FBI had Tamerlan Tsarnaev under surveillance for five years, the agency discounted the possibility he was in direct contact with Doku Umarov, a man described as “Russia’s Bin Laden,” and thus posed a threat to the United States…

The Daily Mail’s explanation, however, omits a few crucial details — namely that Doku Umarov, like his supposed mentor Osama bin Laden, works in the interest of U.S. intelligence and the State Department.

According to research conducted by Eric Draitser and others, Umarov’s Kavkaz Center was funded by the State Department and several supporting fronts including the National Endowment for Democracy-funded Russian-Chechen Friendship Society.


Naturally, in order to fight the renewed threat we will have to surrender more of our liberties and further diminish the protections afforded by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In fact, civil libertarians are already saying a new assault on our liberty is beginning.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Caught Just in Time: ‘Bombers Were About to Plant More Devices But Plot Was Spoiled by Release of CCTV Photos’

The Boston bombers were planning more attacks across the city and were already building the bombs to do this says the city’s police commissioner Ed Davis.

Davis says it’s his belief that 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan ‘were going to attack other individuals’ — and Davis says that’s based on the evidence at the scene and the cache of weapons the brothers had at their disposal.

However, Davis claims releasing photos of the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects ‘forced them out of their hideout’ and spurred them into Thursday and Friday’s deadly night time car chaos and gun battle with law enforcement.

‘It forced them out of their hideout and they decided to commit further violent acts. But it’s my belief that they were already manufacturing explosive devices. Further violent acts were inevitable,’ Davis told The Boston Globe.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dead Boston Bomber Phoned His Mother in Final Shoot Out With Cops: Suspect Told Her ‘Mama, I Love You’ Before Hanging Up and Resuming Deadly Rampage

Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev took time during his final moments to phone his mother as he engaged in a furious gun battle with police early on Friday morning, it has emerged.

‘The police, they have started shooting at us, they are chasing us,’ Tsarnaev told his mother Zubeidat Tsarnaeva.

At the time he was hurling pressure cooker bombs at officers in the suburb of Watertown as he and his brothers fired more than 200 rounds.

Then, finally, before hanging up Tsarnaev said: ‘Mama, I love you.’

When he ran out of bullets, police say he charged at police, before officers tackeld him and he was finally run over by his brother Dzhokar.

Days earlier, reports The Wall Street Journal, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva had called her son after the bombings, concerned about his safety…

‘They were all afraid of Tamerlan’ his mother told ABC News referring to the U.S. government.

‘They wanted to eliminate him as a threat because he was in love with Islam. For the last five years they were following him.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Earth Day: A Pagan Holiday

Today is being celebrated by modern pagans as “Earth Day.” It is a date set aside to worship the earth (paganism). Today is also the birthday of Vladimir Lenin, (April 22nd 1870). Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary, author, lawyer, economic theorist, and political philosopher among other things. Lenin created the Soviet Communist Party.

We agree with the folks at “TheBlogProf” who say: “It is no coincidence that Earth Day, April 22, was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Vladimir Lenin. A day that celebrates communism as the gold standard of human civilization. Never mind that it has never worked as advertised, creating disorder rather than order. Environmentalism, the religion du jour of the 21st century, has very similar ends of government control under the guise of being good stewards of the planet.”

Please note how the writer at TheBlogProf refers to environmentalism: “Environmentalism, the religion du jour of the 21st century … “

In our opinion, the writer is spot on. Environmentalism has become a full-fledged religion.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Elder Boston Bomber Was ‘Radicalised in the U. S.’

(AGI) — Boston, Apr 22 — One of the suspects killed in the Boston bombings had turned to radical Islam while in the U.S., said police. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was the elder of two ethnic Chechen brothers believed to be responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings.

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

How Doctor’s Daughter Became the Muslim Convert Widow of Boston Bomber: Terrorist Husband ‘Brainwashed’ Her and She Gave Up Her Dreams of College to Have His Baby at 21

Katherine Russell, the widow of Boston bomb suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was ‘an all-American girl who was brainwashed’ by her extremist husband according to one schoolfriend.

Today MailOnline has gained the first glimpse and pictures of the early life of the woman who, according to those who knew her best, was ‘totally transformed’ by Tsarnaev.

At high school her personal motto was ‘Do something about it or stop complaining’. She dreamed of going to college and joining the Peace Corps.

She urged her friends to ‘lighten up and enjoy the small things,’ in life.

Instead she met Tsarneav, 26, a disenfranchised man who came to America from his troubled homeland of Chechnya who rapidly had her in his thrall.

By the time she was 21 she had married him and borne his child, Zahara, now three. She had converted to Islam, hidden her tumble of chestnut hair beneath the hijab and undergone a change so profound that today few friends profess to truly understand it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Military Men Witnessed at Boston Bombing Identified as National Guard CST Teams

After days of speculation and calls for officials to provide an explanation, it has emerged that the unidentified military style group pictured at the scene of the Boston bombing both before and after the explosions could be National Guard Civil Support Teams (CSTs) that were pre-scheduled to be at the event.

CSTs are The National Guard’s full-time response force for emergencies or terrorist events involving weapons of mass destruction, toxic chemicals, or natural disasters. CSTs are routinely pre-staged at large public events to help mitigate risks and assist civilian authorities.

A report published on silive on Saturday, notes that Defense Secretary Hagel has decided to rescind a decision to defund 24th National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team (WMD-CST). The team is described as “The only U.S. military team assigned to New York City to support first responders in case of a disaster.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Nestle CEO Seeks to Control the World’s Water Supply

(NaturalNews) Gun control may be a hot topic, but what about water control? Recent comments from Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck imply that the world’s water will soon come under the control of corporations like his. Brabeck makes the astonishing claim that water is not a human right, but should be managed by business people and governing bodies. He wants water controlled, privatized, and delegated in a way that sustains the planet. View the astonishing interview here:

Water control hitting the United States All of this means that Brabeck’s future plans include monitoring and controlling the amount of water people use. One day, cities and towns may be forced by international law to limit each household to a set amount of water. People may have to obtain permits to dig wells or pay fines for collecting rainwater. Laws like these are already in motion in the United States. Learn more here:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Blood Trail From Benghazi to Boston

In the wake of the bombings in Boston and amid information the government and media does not want you, the average American citizen to know, motive and causation make a lot of difference. Compare Clinton’s terse response to questions surrounding Benghazi with that of Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, whose testosterone levels rose sharply as she decided that she would not even dignify Congressman Jeff Duncan’s questioning last week about the reported involvement of a Saudi national identified as Abdulrahman Ali Isa al-Salami al-Harbi, a/k/a Abdulrahman al Harbi. The Saudi connections

In the event you don’t recognize that name associated with the Boston bombing, the media initially reported that a Saudi national, later determined to be al Harbi, was under guard at a Boston hospital after being injured in the attack. He was seen running from the explosions and tackled by police a short distance from the bombing site. During the normal investigative process of al Harbi, investigators learned that he was reportedly the subject of an alleged deportation order under Section 212 3B Immigration & Nationality Act regarding “Security an”, but completely unrelated to Boston. To get on this list requires some pretty substantial evidence. To be removed from this list is practically impossible, short of detention or death.

Amid the flurry of media reports that followed, however, his name and status at the hospital were gradually and methodically being erased from news reports and people’s memories. An intentional government and media brown-out turned into a noticeable blackout, even while federal authorities were searching his fifth floor apartment at 364 Ocean Avenue, Revere, MA and removing various items for forensic analysis.

Before the last items were taken from his apartment, I am told, orders were given to immediately stop any investigation of al Harbi. Suddenly and inexplicably, al Harbi became off limits, and a few federal agents are angry and want to know why.

His status under Section 212 3B was reportedly rescinded about 5:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, and he suddenly enjoyed protective status on orders from the ‘highest levels of our government’, but not before Congressman Duncan had a copy of the 212 3B status of al Harbi. Additionally, it is reported, not only was the order rescinded, but his file was made to appear as if the order never existed in the first place.


First, don’t get stuck in the minutia of al Harbi, just be aware of it and who is behind it. Instead, look at the larger picture. To be clear, al Harbi himself is not the main story here. It’s bigger than that, and the problem is that people are not thinking big enough. It’s about an agenda to shape the world power structure. The Obama regime is in place to finish what was started long ago. Now, the players under Obama and a complicit press are shielding the truth from the American people. We are not being told the truth about anything, from Benghazi to Boston, and the common factor in all of this is Saudi Arabia.

[Comment: Informative article. Well worth reading.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Officials: Bomb Suspects Appear Driven by Faith

BOSTON (AP) — The two brothers suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon appear to have been motivated by their religious faith but do not seem connected to any Muslim terrorist groups, U.S. officials said Monday after interrogating the severely wounded younger man. He was charged with federal crimes that could bring the death penalty.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was charged in his hospital room with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill. He was accused of joining with his older brother, Tamerlan — now dead — in setting off the pressure-cooker bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 200 a week ago.

The brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia who had been living in the U.S. for about a decade, practiced Islam.

Two U.S. officials said preliminary evidence from an interrogation suggests the brothers were motivated by religion but were apparently not tied to any Islamic terrorist organizations. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation.

The criminal complaint containing the charges against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shed no light on the motive.

ut it gave a detailed sequence of events and cited surveillance-camera images of him dropping off a knapsack with one of the bombs and using a cellphone, perhaps to coordinate or detonate the blasts.

The Massachusetts college student was listed in serious but stable condition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the throat and other injuries. His 26-year-old brother died last week in a fierce gunbattle with police.

“Although our investigation is ongoing, today’s charges bring a successful end to a tragic week for the city of Boston and for our country,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

The charges carry the death penalty or a prison sentence of up to life.

“He has what’s coming to him,” a wounded Kaitlynn Cates said from her hospital room. She was at the finish line when the first blast knocked her off her feet, and she suffered an injury to her lower leg.

In outlining the evidence against him in court papers, the FBI said Tsarnaev was seen on surveillance cameras putting a knapsack down on the ground near the site of the second blast and then manipulating a cellphone and lifting it to his ear.

Seconds later, the first explosion went off about a block down the street and spread fear and confusion through the crowd. But Tsarnaev — unlike nearly everyone around him — looked calm and quickly walked away, the FBI said.

Just 10 seconds or so later, the second blast occurred where he had left the knapsack, the FBI said.

The FBI did not make it clear whether authorities believe he used his cellphone to detonate one or both of the bombs or whether he was talking to someone.

The court papers also said that during the long night of crime Thursday and Friday that led to the older brother’s death and the younger one’s capture, one of the Tsarnaev brothers told a carjacking victim: “Did you hear about the Boston explosion? I did that.”

In addition to the federal charges, the younger Tsarnaev brother is also likely to face state charges in connection with the shooting death of an MIT police officer.

The Obama administration said it had no choice but to prosecute Tsarnaev in the federal court system. Some politicians had suggested he be tried as an enemy combatant in front of a military tribunal, where defendants are denied some of the usual U.S. constitutional protections.

But Tsarnaev is a naturalized U.S. citizen, and under U.S. law, American citizens cannot be tried by military tribunals, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Carney said that since 9/11, the federal court system has been used to convict and imprison hundreds of terrorists…

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Sanctioning Iran’s American Allies

NIAC ordered to pay nearly $200K in legal fees

by Adam Kredo

An Iranian-American group suspected of acting as Tehran’s lobbying shop in Washington, D.C., was ordered to pay nearly $200,000 in “sanctions” April 9 after launching a failed defamation lawsuitagainst one of its chief critics.

The left-leaning National Iranian American Council (NIAC) was ordered earlier this month to pay $183,480 to the legal defense fund of Hassan Daioleslam, an Iranian-American writer who hasaccused NIAC of failing to disclose its clandestine lobbying efforts, which are believed to include efforts to roll back sanctions on Tehran.

NIAC, which describes itself as a nonprofit educational organization, sued Daioleslam in 2008, alleging he defamed the group by claiming NIAC has lobbied U.S. government officials on Tehran’s behalf.

Founded and run by Trita Parsi, NIAC emerged as one of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s principal backers during the pitched battle over his controversial nomination to the Pentagon.

Federal District Court Judge John B. Bates cleared Daioleslam of the defamation charges in September of last year in a decision that criticized NIAC for deliberately withholding and altering critical documents during an exhaustive discovery process.

Bates then ordered NIAC pay a portion of Daioleslam’s legal expenses in an April 9 follow-up order. NIAC is appealing.

Bates wrote that his “judgment is entered in favor of defendant [Daioleslam] and against plaintiffs [NIAC] on the merits and that judgment in the amount of $183,480.09, plus interest,” according to the order.

Bates’ decision caps a protracted court battle over NIAC’s true activities, which could have violated U.S. disclosure laws governing lobbying.

“This decision is a victory for the First Amendment and the free discussion of Islamist terrorism,” said Sam Nunberg, director of the Legal Project, which coordinated Daioleslam’s pro bono defense along with the law firm Sidley Austin LLP…

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Sen. Lindsey Graham: Boston Bombing Proves Homeland is the Battlefield

In an interview with the Washington Post, Senator Lindsey Graham held up the Boston bombings as an example of “…why the homeland is the battlefield.” He further stated, “It sure would be nice to have a drone up there [to track the suspect.]”

In 2011, Lindsey Graham, commenting on the National Defense Authorization Act — now signed into law by President Obama — threatened American citizens who would “help Al Qaeda” with death, detention and prosecution. If suspects ask for a lawyer, Graham says they should “shut up.”

Documents leaked last year showed that the military has been preparing for domestic internment camps. The U.S. Army document, titled FM 3-39.40 Internment and Resettlement Operations, outlines a plan to arrest “political activists” who are then pacified by PSYOP officers. Eventually the activists develop an “appreciation for US policies.”

The massive demonstration of martial law in Boston has shown the country just how militarized our society has become in the aftermath of 9/11. The scene that unfolded is eerily reminiscent of the 1998 movie The Siege in which martial law is declared in New York after a terrorist attack. At the time of its release the film’s scenario seemed unbelievable and disturbing. How far will we slide down the slope into total tyranny?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Shocking Footage: Americans Ordered Out of Homes at Gunpoint by SWAT Teams (Video)

Shocking footage has emerged from Friday’s lockdown in Boston, where police, federal agents, national guard troops and SWAT teams enforced door to door searches of everyone’s home within twenty blocks as the entire city was placed under orders to stay off the streets.

The video, shot by a resident from their own house across the street, shows police barking orders at men and women as they order them at gunpoint to identify themselves, put their hands on their heads, and get out of their own home. They are then ordered to run down the street to be further frisked by police as scores of armed militarized cops look on.

The scenes look like something out of a disaster movie, with the backdrop of suburban America juxtaposed with what is essentially martial law playing out in full daylight.

The story floated in the mainstream media that the door to door searches were conducted with the voluntary consent of the residents of Watertown is clearly false. 9000+ Police locked down an entire city and went in with full force, with armored vehicles and combat gear, all to search for an injured 19 year old kid who turned out to be cowering in someone’s back yard.

While armies of police roamed around people’s homes and private property, Public transportation was shut down, businesses were forced to close, and a no-fly zone was enacted over Boston in an unprecedented show of force.

At this point, as military helicopters buzzed over neighborhoods, the Fourth Amendment had ceased to exist in Boston, which quickly resembled a war zone.

[Comment: Martial Law and/or Gun Confiscation dry run. ]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Nice Muslim Family Next Door

by Nonie Darwish

Where are the articles by moderate Muslims condemning the prominent Muslims who beg Allah to strike infidels with cancer and disease? No practicing Muslim has openly condemned such prayers, or named the sheikhs who urge these brutalities.

The neighbors of the Chechnyan Muslim family whose sons were responsible for the Boston Marathon terror attack said they were stunned by the news and that this nice Muslim family was known for its generosity and kindness. Many Americans often ask, “What about the Muslim family next door? They are really nice people.”

Some of the nicest people I know are Muslims, but that must never blind us from understanding the risk we are taking when we allow the building of hundreds of mosques financed by Saudi Arabia, as well as millions of Muslims to migrate into America at a time of a fierce, if sophisticated, desire by Islamist groups to spread Islam throughout the world, and to radicalize impressionable youths by stoking anger against the Western nations, people and values.

The existence of nice, educated Muslims should also never blind us from seeing the deep problems within the ideology of Islam and its jihadist goals. Muslims themselves admit that Islam is more than a religion — that it is, in fact, a state, legal system and a military institution—with the goal, as one’s holy duty, of bringing Islam to the rest of the world, a desire often enshrined deep in the hearts of Muslims.


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Tourists Flock to Franklin Street for a Glimpse of the Scene Where the ‘Boston Bomber’ Was Captured

Camera-wielding tourists are flocking to a suburban Boston street for a glimpse of the scene where the alleged Boston bomber was captured on Friday.

Images have captured swarms of visitors and neighbors surrounding 67 Franklin Street in Watertown, while other pictures on social networking sites reveal people grinning beneath the street sign.

They are hoping to see the bullet hole-ridden boat where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was found hiding on Friday — four days after he and his brother allegedly planted bombs at the Boston marathon.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Tragedies Can Happen Anywhere. It’s Too Bad’: Friend Describes Tsarnaev’s Callous Words About Attack One Day Later

Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev talked to multiple college friends about the Boston Marathon attack just a day after he allegedly planted the explosive that killed an eight-year-old boy and maimed dozens more.

‘Yeah, man tragedies can happen anywhere in the world. It’s too bad,’ he told one friend at the gym on the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, according to CNN.

The student, who was not named, told the cable network that 19-year-old Dzhokhar seemed ‘tired’ but otherwise ‘fine.’

Another student reported similar behavior from the suspect.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Witness: Tamerlan Tsarnaev Run Over by Cops, Not His Brother

Watertown police chief Edward Deveau said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ran over his brother and dragged him down the street as he tried to escape from the police on Thursday night. The alleged incident painted a picture of a ruthless terrorist who would kill his own brother to escape.

But a witness to the incident went on a talk radio station and said the police ran over Tsarnaev with an SUV and then pumped bullets into him.

If the police are lying about the death of Tamerlan, what else are they lying about? Can we believe anything the police and the government tell the media about events surrounding the bombing last week?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Yellowstone’s Volcano Bigger Than Thought

SALT LAKE CITY — Yellowstone’s underground volcanic plumbing is bigger and better connected than scientists thought, researchers reported here today (April 17) at the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting.

“We are getting a much better understanding of the volcanic system of Yellowstone,” said Jamie Farrell, a seismology graduate student at the University of Utah. “The magma reservoir is at least 50 percent larger than previously imaged.”

The underground magma resembles a mutant banana, with a knobby, bulbous end poking up toward the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park, and the rest of the tubular fruit angling shallowly southwest. It’s a single connected chamber, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) long, 18 miles (30 km) wide, and 3 to 7 miles (5 to 12 km) deep.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Alleged Terror Plot on Toronto Passenger Train Thwarted by Authorities

Two alleged terrorists, one from Toronto, the other from Montreal — with what Canadian police and intelligence agencies — identify as “support” and “guidance” from “al Qaeda elements in Iran” have been thwarted in a terrorist attack on a daily passenger train travelling between Toronto and New York City.

The thwarted attack was revealed in an RCMP press conference today within an hour of the moment of silence commemorating last Monday’s Boston Marathon terrorist attack that killed three and injured more than 170.

“The two accused are Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal and Raed Jaser, 35, from Toronto. They have been charged with conspiracy to carry out a terrorist attack and “conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group.” (Greg Weston, CBC News, April 22, 2013)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Activists Break-in at U.S. Military Site in Sicily

Protesters disrupt MUOS construction

(ANSA) — Niscemi, April 22 — A group of activists were arrested Monday after they broke into an American military installation under construction in Sicily and climbed a giant antenna.

Authorities say that at least seven people climbed over the fence surrounding the site to protest construction of a controversial US military satellite-communications system in the Sicilian town of Niscemi.

They face charges ranging from resisting a police officer to tampering with electrical wiring on the site.

The so-called “No-MUOS” group includes local residents who are fiercely opposed to the plan to build the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS).

They say they fear it will pose environmental and health risks. The United States embassy in Rome quickly condemned the break-in.

“The illegal encroachment by demonstrators in a military structure and the deliberate and irresponsible destruction of property of the United States have endangered both the protesters and their rescuers,” it said in a statement.

Italy’s defense ministry defended the system as “essential for NATO operations in the Mediterranean and therefore, for national security”. Police say that some of the activists who broke into the construction site were known from other protests, including the TAV rail project in northern Italy.

The military project in Sicily was temporarily suspended by the regional government in January after activists blocked construction crews and later clashed with police near an American military base.

The site is part of a global satellite defense network, which authorities say will aid US and NATO military operations, as well as relief efforts.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Berlin Praises President Napolitano After Re-Election

Italy facing ‘atypical, difficult’ situation, says spokesman

(ANSA) — Rome, April 22 — Berlin on Monday praised Italian President Giorgio Napolitano after he was re-elected head of state at the weekend.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said that the German government held Napolitano in high consideration for his personal profile and for his work in the international arena.

Napolitano will try to get Italy’s parties to reach an agreement to form a new government and end two months of political deadlock following February’s inconclusive general election after being elected for a second term Saturday.

“Italy is in an atypical, difficult situation,” said Seibert. Napolitano is set to be sworn in at the Lower House at 17:00 Italian time. The 87-year-old is the first Italian president to be re-elected.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘Climbers’ In the Church Says Pope

‘Thieves and brigands’, Francis says

(ANSA) — Vatican City, April 22 — Pope Francis on Monday denounced “climbers” in the Catholic Church who “pretend to come in (openly) but are thieves and brigands, stealing Jesus’s glory”.

Speaking at a Mass in the Vatican, the pope warned the faithful not to follow a “shop-like” religion.

Francis, elected March 13, is seen as a new broom by many hoping for reform in the Church.

He has named a panel to advise him on overhauling the Church’s administrative nerve centre, the Curia, which leaks say is dysfunctional, riven with intrigue and which has been associated with scandals at the Vatican Bank — another top item on Francis’ reform agenda.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Dutch Police Make Arrest Over Leiden School Gun Threat

Dutch police have made an arrest following a threat, posted on the internet, to carry out a shooting at a school in the city of Leiden.

The suspect is a former pupil of the British School, which has a site in neighbouring Voorschoten.

More than 20 schools were told to stay closed on Monday in response to the threat posted on internet forum 4chan.

The anonymous writer said they would shoot their teacher “and as many students as I can”.

He or she said they would be carrying a 9mm Colt Defender gun and a note “which will explain why I did it”.

The threat was picked up by Swiss police during internet checks at the weekend, Dutch media report.

Dutch police said on Monday morning that some 22 secondary schools — covering the 12 to 16 age group — had been closed for the day.

Some schools, such as the Da Vinci College and Driestar College, had police officers outside them.

Frans van der Mark said he received a phone call from his children’s school late on Sunday night advising him to keep them at home.

“I was completely surprised and I have to admit I was trembling when I received the call. I couldn’t sleep as a result,” he told the BBC.


Following reports of an arrest, the British School in the Netherlands issued a statement saying: “We have been informed that a former student… has been arrested in connection to threats made against a Dutch school in Leiden.”

The school said the suspect left its senior school in October 2011 as a result of inappropriate behaviour, Dutch broadcaster NOS reports.

The British School in the Netherlands has four schools based in and around The Hague. The senior school site is based in Voorschoten, close to Leiden.

Earlier Leiden Mayor Henri Lenferink said the decision to close the schools had been taken because police had not been able to immediately establish the perpetrators of the threat following the tip-off from Zurich.

“It could just be a morbid joke but we don’t want to take any risk,” he told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

But some questioned the police decision to close the schools, which affected thousands of students.

“Every idiot who sticks a threat on the internet can paralyse half of society,” said Ton Duif, chairman of head teachers’ association AVS.

Leiden lies some 20km (13 miles) north-east of The Hague, and is home to the country’s oldest university.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Germany is Not Seeking to Homogenise Europe, Says Merkel

(AGI) Berlin — Germany is not seeking to homogenise Europe, said Chancellor Merkel .

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

Italy: Tool to Bust Tax Evasion to be Used in ‘Extreme Cases’

Head of revenue service says EU task force needed

(ANSA) — Rome, April 22 — A new system to find tax dodgers in Italy by cross-checking incomes and spending known as the ‘redditometro’ will be applied to the most “shameless” fiscal evaders, the head of the Italian tax agency Agenzia delle Entrate, Attilio Befera, said on Monday.

Speaking at a national forum against tax evasion in Naples Befera said that the tool will be aimed at people who “spend outside of their earning bracket,” but will be used in “the most egregious cases”.

Tax evasion “skews the redistribution of resources”, for government services to citizens and hinders “healthy business growth.” Befera said. “A European Task Force is needed to identify and recover (Italian) capital taken abroad,” the president of the Association of Chartered Accountants and Accounting Experts (ODCEC), Vincenzo Moretta, said.

“The return of these funds could help lower the tax burden,” Moretta said. Befera told the conference that the revenue service was working to simplify income tax returns “that should be ready in May”.

Italy has upped its fight against rampant tax evasion to recover billion euros’ worth of revenues unclaimed yearly, Befera said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: SEl ‘Will Oppose Left-Right Govt’

Could be joined by PD left-wingers

(ANSA) — Rome, April 22 — The key ally of the riven centre-left Democratic Party (PD), Left Ecology and Freedom (SEL), said Monday it would join the opposition if the PD teamed up with centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party in a left-right administration to break Italy’s 55-day post-election stalemate.

The PD’s coalition just beat the PdL’s alliance in the February elections but failed to gain a Senate majority, leading to a deadlock as the third bloc, anti-establishment comedian Beppe Grillo’s 5-Star Movement, refused to work with either.

PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani, after failing to get M5S support, adamantly ruled out a deal with the PdL because of irreconcilable policy differences. But Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, re-elected Saturday after the PD came close to splitting when the failure of two of Bersani’s candidates exposed deep divisions and prompted the PD leader to tender his resignation, is expected to try to form a national-unity government of institutional figures and PD and PdL politicians to tackle deep economic and social problems.

It is expected to have a limited reform agenda including changing an unpopular electoral law, cutting political costs, turning the Senate into a regional body, and trying to create jobs and lift Italy out of its worst recession in 20 years.

The PD’s left wing may refuse to back this government amid strong grass-root anger at leadership bungling and wider public disaffection with a discredited political class.

It may split off to join SEL in opposition, the Italian media say.

Vendola said Monday: “I will go into opposition with Italy, with that country that vomits when politics is incapable of emerging from its rituals, from its obscene liturgies”.

Vendola said the PD should not agree to Napolitano’s urging to team up with Berlusconi, although he reiterated his personal affection for the 87-year-old president, who is due to be sworn in Monday afternoon.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Renzi Ready for PD Leadership Challenge

Florence mayor wants to change chaos-hit party and Italy

(ANSA) — Rome, April 22 — Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi has said he is ready to challenge for the leadership of the Democratic Party (PD) in order to change the chaos-hit centre-left party and Italy as a whole.

The PD is in turmoil after Pier Luigi Bersani stepped down as party secretary following internal revolts that scuppered the chances of two candidates he had proposed to be Italy’s head of state last week.

That forced PD, the biggest party in parliament after February’s inconclusive general election, to ask 87-year-old President Giorgio Napolitano to agree to serve a second term as it seemed incapable of uniting behind any other candidate.

Napolitano became Italy’s first president to be re-elected on Saturday after winning the votes of lawmakers and regional representatives of the PD, ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, the Northern League and outgoing Premier Mario Monti’s Civic Choice group.

“My ambition is to change Italy and change a party that reflects its centre,” Renzi said in an interview in Monday’s edition of Rome-based daily La Repubblica.

The PD, which came first in February’s vote but failed to win a working majority in the Senate after Bersani conducted a colourless campaign, is expected to be headed by a committee of caretaker leaders until a congress is held later in the year to elect a new secretary. Renzi, a telegenic 38-year-old who has been compared to the young Tony Blair and came second in the centre-left’s premier-candidate primary in December, is currently the country’s most popular politician, according to opinion polls.

But he is viewed with suspicion by many in the PD itself after a long campaign for the old guard of Italian politics to be “scrapped”.

Lawmakers close to him led the rebellion against the first presidential candidate Bersani proposed, former Senate Speaker Franco Marini.

He also publicly criticised Bersani’s handling of Italy’s post-election impasse many times. Bersani failed in a bid to reach out to the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), which holds the balance of power in the Senate.

He also refused to consider forming a broad coalition government with the PdL, while at the same time rejecting calls for another vote, saying that this would be equally inconclusive under the current election law.

Renzi, on the other hand, said the PD should have opened talks with Berlusconi or called for a snap election.

The Florence mayor said he was ready to present a project for “new reformism” to the party.

“The PD is in a corner,” he added. “It either comes out of it or it will blow up”. The PD is now expected to support a so-called government of the president, which would also be backed by the PdL, Civic Choice and possibly the Northern League, with a limited mandate to pass some key reforms, including a new electoral law.

However, there is speculation that some PD left-wingers are opposed to having any sort of cooperation with Berlusconi and may split from the party if it takes part in such a broad coalition government.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Heavy Rainfall, Snow Trigger Floods, Avalanche Warnings

Cool, wet weather spreading across Italian peninsula

(ANSA) — Rome, April 22 — Italians who were boldly bundling their winter coats and gloves into the back of the closet last week were pulling them out Monday in the face of unseasonably cool, wet weather.

Forecasters were calling for unstable weather across the peninsula through Wednesday with cool temperatures, thunderstorms and rain. Heavy snowfalls of as much as 90 centimeters were reported on the weekend in the far northern Alpine region near Turin, triggering avalanche warnings.

Weekend rains and melting snow high up in the Apennines caused some flooding along the Po River in northern Italy.

Conditions in the south have been forecast to improve first, with rain showers and thunderstorms expected in the centre of Italy and on Sardinia through Wednesday.

By Thursday, sunny skies are expected, bringing warmer temperatures in the centre and south. However, more thunderstorms and heavy rain are expected to strike again in the north on Saturday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Merkel Says Eurozone Members Must Consider ‘Ceding Sovereignty’

(AGI) — Berlin, Apr 22 — Eurozone members “need to accept the fact that in certain cases Europe should have the last word,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. During a conference sponsored by Deutsche Bank attended by Polish counterpart Donald Tusk, Merkel said “We act as if we want common solutions when on the brink, but as soon as the pressure eases we all go our separate ways.” Merkel also argued that relinquishing sovereignty on specific aspects of policy is pre-requisite to “building Europe.” Tusk, for his part, warned of the “dangers” that go with other members’ perception of Germany trying to force its model on the bloc.

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

Sweden Democrats Rake in Southern Support

The immigration-critical Sweden Democrats would nab 16 percent of the vote in regional elections in the south if residents were to cast their the ballots today, revealed a new poll by Yougov commissioned by the Metro newspaper.

“In Malmö, our membership numbers are up by 30 percent in the past six months,” Sweden Democrat Malmö municipal district chairman Jörgen Grubb told The Local. “We see a general increase so it doesn’t surprise me that support has gone up regionally.”

Neither did the new poll result surprise observers who are traditionally critical of the Sweden Democrats.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: 2,600 NHS Workers Earn More Than Prime Minister David Cameron’s £142,000 Salary

Nearly 8,000 NHS staff were paid a six-figure salary last year — with one in three earning more than the Prime Minister.

The generous payments show that the NHS’s £20billion efficiency programme has done little to dent the inflated pay of many hospital managers and consultants.

Around 7,800 of health service bosses were paid more than £100,000 last year, of which around 2,600 earned more than David Cameron’s £142,500 salary.

The highest-paid executive took home £340,000 — almost 16 times the pay of ward nurses who often get just £21,388 a year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Hundreds of Top Bosses Demand Better Deal With the EU Saying Move is Crucial for Jobs and Growth

Hundreds of top business leaders have called on the Government to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

Bosses from firms such as Superdrug, Carphone Warehouse, New Look, and Next say the move is crucial for growth and jobs.

Ocado chairman Sir Stuart Rose and Next boss Lord Wolfson are among the 500 people who have signed up to the Business for Britain campaign.

A group spokesman said: ‘As business leaders and entrepreneurs responsible for millions of British jobs, we believe that the Government is right to seek a new deal for the EU and for the UK’s role in Europe.

‘Far from being a threat to our economic interests, a flexible, competitive Europe — with more powers devolved from Brussels — is essential for growth, jobs and access to markets.

‘We therefore welcome the launch of Business for Britain’s campaign for real change in the EU and urge all political parties to join in committing themselves to a national drive to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Lib Dem Councillor is Held Over Mystery Bomb Campaign in Market Town That He Blamed on ‘Ali-G-Style Yobs’

A Liberal Democrat councillor has been arrested over a series of unexplained explosions which he had blamed on ‘Ali G-style yobs’.

Residents in the sleepy market town had been left terrified by a series of blasts which wrecked cars, broke windows and damaged homes.

Fearing the mystery bomber, who has let off 14 home-made devices over the past eight weeks, was living amongst them, some moved away, while others put their homes up for sale.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Seven Suspected Paedophiles Arrested After Online Group of Vigilante Parents Set Up Sting Operation

[WARNING: ** Disturbing Content **]

Seven suspected paedophiles have been arrested after being caught on camera by a group of parents who have turned themselves into online vigilantes.

The enterprising amateur detectives, who call themselves ‘Letzgo Hunting’, pose as underage girls and start web chats with predators looking to seduce children.

Then they set up meetings between the supposed teenagers and the paedophiles — – and turn up with video cameras to capture evidence which they turn over to police.

Officials have warned that vigilante efforts can go wrong — but the group’s founder insists that they are devoted to keeping children safe.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Will One of Our Cities be Next to Face ‘Lockdown’?

Talking on Sky TV, the U.S. charge d’affaires here, Barbara Stephenson, mentions the black ribbons worn by London Marathon runners as a mark of respect for the three killed and 170 injured in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Jolly-looking Ms Stephenson said an official at No.10 told her this demonstrated perfectly the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the U.S.

Might the well-intentioned gesture also demonstrate our growing addiction to American-style public displays of sentimentality?

These are useful from an official point of view. They take away the focus from what happened before and after an act of terrorism.

Such as, in this case, how were the Tsarnaev brothers able to bomb the Boston Marathon while the elder one, Tamerlan, 26, was supposedly under FBI surveillance? This is the kind of detail that forms the basis of conspiracy theories.

Their father, Anzor, told the Wall Street Journal he was present when the FBI interviewed Tamerlan in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2011.

He says they told him: ‘We know what [internet] sites you are on, we know where you are calling, we know everything about you. Everything.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Want to Live on Mars? Private Martian Colony Project Seeks Astronauts

If a one-way trip to Mars appeals to you, now’s the time to apply to be part of the first crew of a Red Planet colony.

The Netherlands-based nonprofit Mars One is planning to fly teams of four astronauts to the Red Planet, with the first landing slated to occur in 2023, exactly 10 years from today (April 22), to establish a human settlement on our planetary neighbor. Today, the organization opened up its astronaut selection process, which it hopes will raise some of the funding for the project.

Those over age 18 interested in spending the rest of their lives in space can apply by submitting applications and short videos to the Mars One site. There is no maximum age for applicants, nor a required technical background or even nationality or language — astronaut candidates will have a few years to learn English if they don’t speak it already.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Warning to UK on Its ‘Open Door to Fanatics’: Russian Government Says MI5 Should Watch ‘Extremist Islamic’ Exiles From the Country in Wake of Boston Bombing

Britain is at risk from ‘extremist Islamic’ exiles from the North Caucasus who have been allowed to live in the UK, claimed an advisor to the Russian government last night.

The lessons from the Boston marathon bombing is that MI5 should play far closer attention to these immigrants, some who have been admitted as asylum-seekers, and are seen as enemies of Vladimir Putin, said security specialist Igor Korotchenko.

He has claimed Britain has created a ‘ticking timebomb’ for allowing radicalised Muslims into this country.

He claimed an FBI ‘failure’ to heed Russian secret services warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev could be repeated in Britain where intelligence co-operation with Moscow has been curtailed due to the diplomatic dispute over the 2006 ‘murder’ of Alexander Litvinenko in London.

‘It was a professional failure by American counter-intelligence,’ said Korotchenko, who is also editor in chief of The National Defence journal in Moscow, and an advisor to military chiefs.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

World From Berlin: ‘Once Again: The Victor is Berlusconi’

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano is the first in the country’s history to serve a second term.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano had earned his retirement from politics, German editorialists say, but Italy’s political stalemate meant parliament had no other choice than to ask him to remain on the job. He now faces the daunting task of finding a prime minister who can unite a deeply divided country.

Italian lawmakers over the weekend took the unprecedented step of re-electing their governing president, a move that reflects the desperately fractured state of politics in the country two months after inconclusive parliamentary elections.

Giorgio Napolitano, 87 and going on 88, easily reached the simple majority needed for election on Saturday, winning 738 votes out of 1,007. However, the final decisive vote followed three days of balloting, as the various parties squabbled over who would be capable of choosing a prime minister who could survive a confidence vote and bring enough of them together to form a government.

While there is no prohibition on serving two terms as president, tradition holds that the head of state steps down after the first term. Napolitano had repeatedly said he would decline a second nomination because of his old age. If he is able to serve for the full length, he will be nearly 95 when his term runs out. Citing a sense of responsibility to the nation, though, he ultimately accepted the job.

“We must all look, as I tried to do in these hours, at the difficult situation of the country, at the problems of Italy and Italians, and the international image and role of our nation,” Napolitano said in a brief statement after the vote.

Ultimately it was Pier Luigi Bersani of the center-left Democratic Party, the centrist caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti and the conservative former leader Silvio Berlusconi who rallied their support behind Napolitano. Opposition came from the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, led by comedian-turned-populist politician Beppe Grillo. He rejected Napolitano as a symbol of the old guard of corrupt politics, and called his re-election “a cunning little institutional coup.”

German media commentators cautiously welcomed Napolitano’s re-election as a lone symbol of stability and unity in an otherwise chaotic political situation. But they also warned that his election alone does not solve Italy’s crisis, and that whatever coalition government emerges from the Napolitano presidency — or whatever new parliament takes shape should Napolitano call new elections — is unlikely to be ideal.

The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

“On the one hand, Italy’s president has quite a bit of discretionary decision-making power in times of government crises. On the other hand, Napolitano could also demand that all parties support his vision for the future of Italian politics in exchange for his willingness to take a second term. That means that once again, like under Prime Minister Mario Monti, a broad coalition of the traditional parties have to produce a government together. But above all, it means that this time the reform of electoral laws, the constitution and the economy can no longer be put off as it was in the past two years.”

The conservative Die Welt writes:…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

EU and Morocco Start Talks on Free Trade Agreement

‘Rapid progress would encourage other countries in the south’

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 22 — The European Union and Morocco started the first round of talks on Monday for a free trade agreement after the official launch in March, reports a European Commission statement. The aim is to upgrade the existing association agreement, which since 2000 has guaranteed tariff-free trade for many products. “I hope the negotiations with Morocco will progress quickly and encourage other partners in the Southern Mediterranean region to start similar talks very soon,” said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. “These negotiations show the EU’s strong commitment to further developing its trade and investment ties with Southern Mediterranean partners who are committed to political and economic reforms.” Morocco is the first of the four countries — Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia — selected by the EU for Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas to have initiated negotiations after a year of preparatory talks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UFM: Assembly Calls for More Euro-Med Bank, More Visas

To promote true North-South cooperation and exchange

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 16 — The 43-member Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) approved an economic affairs commission resolution calling for the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean lender and for more visas to be given to the region’s citizens.

The resolution calls for the creation of “a region-specific financial instrument capable of fulfilling the needs of Mediterranean countries in a more coordinated and timely way, and of contributing to the ongoing process of transformation and democratization”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Can Stewart Save Egypt?

by Adam Turner

Here are two simple facts about Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood (MB)-led Egyptian regime: 1) they have no sense of humor; and 2) they really dislike Jews. And in the Middle East, when you put these two facts together, things can get just a little crazy, as they did at the end of last month.

On March 31, 2013, Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian television comedian, was arrested in Cairo, for the alleged crime of “insulting the president (i.e., Morsi)” and “insulting Islam.” This arrest by the MB regime prompted the U.S. government to finally discover the need to promote free speech in Egypt. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland criticized the Egyptian government for enabling a “disturbing trend of growing restrictions on freedom of expression.” Her boss, Secretary of State John Kerry, also weighed in, stating that there are “very real” concerns about the direction in which the MB’s government is headed and that the U.S. “hope(s) that there is still time to be able to turn the corner,” although “the recent arrests, the violence in the streets, the lack of inclusivity with respect to the opposition in public ways that make a difference to the people of Egypt, are all of concern today.”

None of this seemed to prompt much of a response from Morsi or the MB.

But then the “big guns” came out. On his Comedy Central cable television show, American comedian Jon Stewart — who is Jewish — belittled Morsi and the MB regime for their prosecution of Youssef. Youssef and Stewart are close; in fact, you could say that Youssef is a protégé of Stewart’s. To make matters even worse, from the Islamist point of view, a link to Stewart’s skit was tweeted by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for all Egyptians to see. No doubt visions of a Zionist Jew-controlled America, acting through its Egyptian Zionist agents, danced in MB heads.


Immediately, President Morsi and his cronies swung into action. Officially, the Egyptian Presidential office merely complained that Stewart show was “negative political propaganda” and the Embassy’s tweet of it was “inappropriate for a diplomatic mission to engage in.” Meanwhile, unofficially, the MB posted an anti-Semitic link online, in Arabic, from Al Jazeera, in which former CNN host Rick Sanchez claimed that Jews control the American media. Also, a “usually moderate” senior MB member argued that Western notions of free speech were being used to defame Islam.

In response, Washington, and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, completely caved…

[Return to headlines]

Egyptian Judges Warn Morsi Against Political Interference

Apology demanded for Brotherhood protest,no new judiciary law

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, APRIL 22 — In meeting with Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi on Monday, the Supreme Judicial Council called for an official apology for the protest staged by the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party in front of the Palace of Justice, rejecting all “interference” into judicial matters.

Sources from the Egyptian president’s office say that the judges also rejected the idea of a new judicial authority law, without submitting it to the judiciary first.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Archaeologists Uncover World’s Oldest Port, Hieroglyphic Papyri

Cairo, 11 April (AKI) — A team of archaeologists in Egypt has unearthed what is believed to be the world’s most ancient harbour and precious hieroglyphic papyri dating to the third millennium BC, the government said on Thursday.

“The port of Wadi el-Jarf located on the Red Sea. 180 kilometres south of Suez dates to around 2,600 BC and the reign of King Khufu,” Egypt’s minister for antiquities Mohammed Ibrahim said in a statement.

Is is considered one of the most important ancient Egyptian ports because it was used to transport copper and other minerals from the Sinai peninsula, Ibrahim noted.

“The papyri, which provide detailed accounts of daily life and traditions at the time of the Old Kindgom, are considered the oldest ever found,” Ibrahim stated.

The papyri are currently being studied by experts at the Suez Museum, he said.

“The team of French and Egyptian archaeologists working on the dig also discovered stone anchors at Wadi el-Jarf that were marked with ropes used to tie the ships inside the port,” he said.

A collection of stone tools used for cutting ropes and some wooden remains and ropes were also discovered at the site as well as the remains of houses for ancient port workers and 30 caves whose entrances were closed with stone blocks bearing inscriptions of King Khufu.

The pharoah King Khufu is credited with building the Great Pyramid of Giza in Middle Egypt, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Material for Palestinian-Turkish Hospital in Gaza

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, APRIL 22 — Trucks carrying material and technical equipment for construction of the Palestinian-Turkish Friendship Hospital sponsored by the Turkish International Coordination and Development Agency (TIKA), arrived in Gaza.

Memduh Burno, hospital project official, told Anatolia news agency that the 15 trucks entered Gaza through the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) border crossing without facing any problems. TIKA began with the construction of the hospital in May 2011, which will include 150 beds and will be the biggest hospital in the West Bank and Gaza.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Kuwaiti Opposition Politician Released in Insult Case

Barrak had spent detention period at home, now out on bail

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, APRIL 22 — Kuwait’s court of appeals on Monday adjourned the trial against outspoken opposition politician Musallam Al Barrak, releasing him on bail. The former lawmaker and symbol of Kuwait’s opposition had been sentenced to five years in prison in a first degree court on charges of insulting the emir during remarks made at a 2012 rally. However, the defendant was never actually taken into custody despite the ruling. He had instead engaged in a contest of wills against the interior ministry. Since the first ruling on April 15, Barrak — member of parliament in several legislatures — refused to allow himself to be arrested, demanding to see the original copy of the sentence and the arrest warrant. While awaiting the original, which never arrived, he continued to meet with activists and give interviews from his home, while ever more demonstrations were held in his support that often ended in protestors clashing with the police.

Barrak’s case is only the latest in a long line of attempts to curb freedom of expression not only in Kuwait but in the entire Gulf region. Over the past few months several politicians and intellectuals have been arrested or sentenced for “subversive” messages to the general public — whether real or virtual. One of the most frequently cited cases is that of Qatari poet Mohammad Al Ajami, who was sentenced to life in prison (later reduced to 15 years) for a poem held to have insulted the emir. Kuwait, known among the oil-rich monarchies of the Gulf region for being the country with the most open and vibrant political scene, has seen growing tension over the past few years between the executive and the legislative branches.

Barrak’s criticism of the emir in October came at a particularly tense time at the political level. Early elections had led to the formation of a government in February 2012, but in June a Constitutional Court ruling annulled the elections due to a procedural breach, thereby reinstating the previous parliament. Before calling new elections the emir had also changed the electoral law, lowering the votes allowed per person from four to one. This measure was seen as harmful to the opposition, which then proceeded to boycott the December elections.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Millions of “Slaves” To Prepare the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

About 1.2 million workers will be needed to build stadiums and infrastructures, most of them migrant workers from poor countries in Asia and Africa. The International Trade Union Confederation complains of cases of forced labour, missed payments and abuse. It pleads with FIFA president to cancel the event.

Doha (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Qatar plans to recruit 1.2 million migrant workers for the 2022 World Cup. However, the constant loss of life on construction sites and the cases of slavery are likely to cast a shadow on the organisation of the event, which has already brought in investments worth US$ 2.87 billion.

Recently, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) wrote to FIFA president Seep Blatter. In a press release, the ITUC highlighted “contradictions with Qatari law” that fail “to give workers any real rights or protection from slavery conditions.”

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said the visa sponsorship system in Qatar allows the exaction of forced labour. “Under Qatari law, employers have near total control over workers. They alone choose if a worker can change jobs, leave the country or stay in Qatar,” she said.

In 2012, the Labour Relations Department in Qatar’s Labour Ministry received 6,000 worker complaints. The top concerns facing workers included exploitation, delays in paying wages, violence and work-related safety issues and fatalities.

The country boasts economic growth rates that top 19 per cent, making Qatar one of the richest countries in the world.

Over the past 10 years, millions of Filipinos, Nepalis, Indonesians, Vietnamese and Africans have worked in the construction industry, building palaces, shopping centre, ports, pipelines and infrastructures.

Out of a population of 1.9 million inhabitants, only 300,000 are Qatari citizens.

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

Turkey-Israel: Negotiations on Mavi Marmara Compensation

After Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan for slaying of 9 activists

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 22 — An Israeli delegation on Monday began negotiations with Turkish authorities at the Turkish Foreign Ministry to define the compensation the State of Israel is prepared to pay the families of 9 pro-Palestinian Turkish activists killed by Israeli forces during a 2010 commando attack on the Mavi Marmara ship as it tried to force the Gaza blockade.

This comes after Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu officially apologized in March to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan as part of the rapprochement between the two countries after three years of interrupted relations.

One solution might be for Israel to pay the compensation into an aid fund for the victims’ families, according to local press.

Several activist survivors of the Mavi Marmara raid stated recently that compensation payments will not induce them to withdraw their criminal complaints against Israel, as the Jewish state had hoped. The Israeli delegation is led by National Security Council chief Yaakov Amidror, the Turkish one by Foreign Under Secretary Feridun Sinirlioglu. The rapprochement between the two former allies was brokered by US President Barack Obama.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkish and PNA Presidents Meet in Istanbul

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, APRIL 22 — Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday held talks, discussing the latest developments in the Middle East and Palestine as Anatolia news agency reports. Gul and Abbas met at the Tarabya Presidential Mansion in Istanbul. The two presidents took up issues such as bilateral relations as well as the Middle East peace process and the efforts to reach a reconciliation between rival groups Fatah and Hamas, according to a statement posted on the official website of the Turkish president. The statement cited Gul as telling Abbas that the appointment of Turkey’s ambassador to the state of Palestine constituted the first concrete gain from Palestine’s upgraded status at the United Nations as a non-member observer state. Gul also expressed hope that Turkey’s move to send an ambassador to Palestine would set an example for other states.

Abbas expressed his gratitude for Turkey’s long-term support and contribution to the Palestinian cause. US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday said he had asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to postpone a visit to Gaza planned for May. Erdogan said last week he was planning to visit the Gaza Strip at the end of next month after a trip to Washington on May 16.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

How a Freewheeling Indian Market Became the Hub of the Global Diamond Trade

Step inside the diamond market in Surat, where billions worth of the precious stone circulate every month. There are serious concerns about both security and origins

At 6 p.m. in Madharpura, one of the diamond bazaars in this thriving city in southwestern India, it’s so jam-packed that it’s hard to walk between the parked motorbikes, vendors selling nuts and small temples from which incense emerges.

Ramesh, 55, sitting on the saddle of his Honda motorbike, uses a magnifying glass to examine a shimmering mini pile that sits on a blue card. In a quick movement, he folds up the packet and stuffs it into a huge pocket underneath his shirt. He then writes a few figures on a torn-off piece of paper and hands it to the supplier. A nod of approval, and the deal is done.

Ramesh is one of some 10,000 dealers in Surat, the second-biggest city in the prosperous state of Gujarat where Mahatma Gandhi was born and raised, on India’s western coast. This chaotic city is not only home to five million inhabitants, but is also where 90% of the world’s diamonds are chosen, cut, and polished.

These dusty streets are where $73 million worth of diamonds pass daily — an impenetrable web of brokers, import-export outfits, workshops, and couriers. The turnover of Surat’s diamond industry is about $14 billion annually, employing nearly half a million people working for some 4,000 businesses, large and small. It accounts for 8% of Indian exports, mainly heading to the U.S., Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

Thanks to the low cost of labor and brokerage services, India has now become the world’s center for rough diamonds, overtaking Antwerp in Belgium which had traditionally always been the unofficial headquarters to the global diamond industry.

There are plenty of advantages that a prosperous industry like this brings, yet there’s also the tricky question of security. The mega heist at Brussels airport on February 19, when $50 million worth of diamonds were stolen, “would never happen here,” declares Rohit Mehta, ex-president of the Surat Diamond Association (SDA), and current head of the Chamber of Commerce of South Gujarat. “The market is very spread out and there are never huge amounts of merchandise in just one place. >From the outside it might seem vulnerable, but in reality everyone knows each other and for a thief it would be very difficult to get away with it here.”

The brokers call each other “brother,” adding the Hindi word after each other’s name: “Babu bhai”, “Ganesh bhai”, “Lallu bhai.” They keep the merchandise in special vests with pockets that they wear underneath their t-shirts, sitting all day on their bikes with “swollen” bellies of invisible bags of cash.

The real work, however, takes place in small rooms where there are four or five workers sitting on the ground, each one specialized in one of the complex procedures that changes black coal into sparkling gems. Almost all of those who we spoke to assure that in Surat, there hasn’t ever been even a single stone unaccounted for.

Security measures

Nearby, in the small police station in Madharpura, several officers are watching a Bollywood film. Yet if you fine-comb the local news, you can see that recently the boss of a workshop was stabbed, and that last year some of the intermediaries were robbed by fake clients in a hotel. However, this is mere trifle if you consider the huge amounts of money and diamonds concentrated in just a few square kilometers.

For the police, the main worry seems to be the threat of terrorism that, from time to time, rears its head in India. The last serious hit was in Mumbai in 2011, in the jewelry neighborhood of the Opera House, where the cut diamonds from Gujarat were being moved to…

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

Indian Rape Victim, Five, ‘Abandoned in Hospital by Her Parents’ As Thousands Clash With Police Over Handling of Sexual Assault Cases in the Country

[WARNING: ** Disturbing Content **]

A five-year-old rape victim has been abandoned in a leading Indian hospital by her parents, it was revealed today amid fierce protests over the handling of sexual assault cases in the country.

The disclosure came from opposition leader, Sushma Swaraj, after she visited the New Delhi hospital to see another five-year-old girl, who was left for dead having been kidnapped, raped and tortured.

It coincides with angry protests across the capital, where demonstrators clashed with police as anger grows over how authorities in the country handle such cases.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Indonesia: The Hobbits? They Lived in Asia

According to recent studies, carried out by Professor Yousuke Kaifu, Homo florensiensis, nicknamed “hobbits” because of their resemblance to the creatures of Tolkien, changed their physical characteristics to adapt to the island of Flores.

Jakarta (AsiaNews / Agencies) — The hobbits are not only fantastic creatures invented by Tolkien, but before filling the pages of Lord of the Rings it seems that they inhabited the forests of Indonesia. About one meter tall and with a tiny skull, the skeleton found in 2003 on the island of Flores is known by the scientific community as Homo florensiensis. Its discoverers have dubbed it the “hobbit”.

For years scientists believed that they were faced with a physical dysfunction, a primitive form of dwarfism, or an extinct human species. But the hypothesis recently put forward by the Japanese Yousuke Kaifu, albeit with the same starting assumptions of those that preceded it, has provided a new way of seeing the case from the point of view of evolution.

According to the expert from the Japanese Museum of Natural Sciences in Tokyo, the hobbit is the ancestor of the Asian Homo erectus. The short stature and undersized skull are the result of a climate adaptation. Studies by Kaifu have in fact proved that having moved from Asia to this Indonesian island of Flores, Homo florensienses changed their physical characteristics.

In the years following the discovery of Homo florensiensis, Prof. Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum in London, argued that the hobbit had originated from the direct evolution of an African primate that migrated to Asia. “Florensiensis was a failed experiment and lasted for the last 50 thousand years, we humans are the last survivors of all these evolutionary experiments.” Said the British expert placing the hobbit story at a dead end.

American Professor Dean Folk of the University of Florida and the author between 2005 and 2007 of a theory in which she claims the hobbit belongs to another human species, termed the Kaifu hypothesis as “the most convincing.” The same Japanese professor, however, has admitted in a more cautious that his work “does not prove that H. erectus is the ancestor of H. Floresiensis.” He adds that “it is possible that the skull of H.Floresiensis is too small to be the result of a simple shrinkage.”

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

More and More Chinese Gamblers Do Not Pay Their Debts in Singapore

In just three years, Singapore casinos raked in almost as much as Las Vegas, but profits are threatened by high-flying Chinese gamblers who skip on paying debts, untouched by their own government back home.

Singapore (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Many Chinese gamblers skip Singapore without paying their debts. Gambling in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is illegal, except in Macao, one of the PRC’s special administrative regions, which has more than 30 casinos.

Singapore casinos, like those elsewhere in the world, give high rollers hefty lines of credit but more and more gamblers are running away from the Asian city-state without paying their bill.

If in Macau, debt collection is in the hands of groups linked to Chinese organised crime, only three debt collection agencies operate in Singapore, where they are heavily regulated and must renew their licences each year.

Reuters recently reported, citing local sources, that Resorts World one of the two casinos in Singapore, sued Chinese gambler Kuok Sio Kun, 46, in Singapore for not paying S$2.2 million (US$ 1.8 million) in debts. After its letter for payment went unanswered for months, the casino hired a Macau-based law firm to sue the woman.

“I have made all reasonable efforts and used all due means in my power to serve the court documents on the defendant, but have not been able to do so,” the Macau lawyer said in the documents.

Singapore does not have reciprocal enforcement of judgments with China, except for Hong Kong. This means that even if a casino obtains a judgment in a Singapore court, it also has to sue the gambler in China.

“If there is a lot of gambling debt and the gambler is in China now, usually the casinos can hardly get any co-operation from the Chinese government to go after them because gambling is illegal in China,” said Huang Jing, director at the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.

Three years after Singapore allowed casinos to open, its two casinos, the Genting Group’s Resorts World Sentosa and the Las Vegas Sands’ Marina Bay Sands, pulled in an estimated combined gross gaming revenue of about US$ 5.9 billion last year, just below the US$ 6.2 billion earned by dozens of casinos on the Las Vegas strip.

In Macau, more than 30 casinos brought in US$38 billion in gaming revenue last year.

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

Notre Dame Puts the Lid on Lefties

NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY is banning students from establishing left-wing political clubs on campus, saying they run counter to its religious foundations.

Never mind that Jesus fed the poor, healed the sick and raged at the moneylenders, last week the Catholic university rejected Chris Jenkins’ application to start a club affiliated to Socialist Alliance.

Student branches of the Labor and Liberal parties are, however, welcome, as is “Lord” Christopher Monckton, the climate change denier who spoke at the Fremantle campus in 2011. The university defended his appearance on the grounds of free speech.

“All I was told was we didn’t fit in with the uni’s Catholic social teachings,” Mr Jenkins told the Herald. The nursing studies student says last year Notre Dame also shut down a refugee forum.

“We were basically told the meeting was forbidden and to leave the campus grounds.”

Fremantle councillor Sam Wainwright, a senior member of the Socialist Alliance in WA, sprinted down to the West End campus when he heard socialist students might be told to pack up their stall and move along.

“I wanted to make sure I was here, because this is a public footpath,” he told the Herald. “It’s up to council to decide what it can be used for, not the university.

“It is utterly beyond me why the university can’t relax and let an independent student life exist and flourish, which is what I would’ve thought was a necessary part of a healthy university culture. It’s like Notre Dame wants to protect some corporate image.”

A Facebook page called Students for Free Speech at Notre Dame reveals the university has been censoring medical clubs too. Shane Bowra posted the Medical Students’ Association had been deregistered as a club by the university’s Student Life Office (SLO) because its constitution included support for abortion on medical grounds.

“Debate and discussion of issues such as abortion and contraception have been shut down even in nursing classes, where discussing these issues is surely an important part of training,” he said.

The Herald has been told the university has also banned UN Women Australia and Amnesty from SLO registration.

Notre Dame media handler Leigh Dawson says the issue is “formal affiliation with the student association”.

“While in some instances formal affiliation may not be granted, this does not indicate that the university does not recognise the importance of the work undertaken by the organisation in many areas.”

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

North-East Nigeria Clashes Claim 185 Lives

(AGI) — Maiduguri, Apr 22 — Clashes between the army and Boko Haram militants led to 185 deaths, Nigerian media reported on Monday. Civilians and fighters from both sides died in the battle in the remote Baga village off lake Chad, in the federal state of Borno, said government sources. It is believed much of the fighting took place at a mosque, where members of the jihadist organisation had sought shelter.

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

Gang of Eight’s Immigration Reform: Gang Members and Drunk Drivers Are Welcome If…

Let’s cut to the chase. If the Gang of Eight’s so-called immigration reform legislation becomes law, expect the number of illegal aliens that will be legalized in a broken, crime riddled agency, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to explode. Everyone from family members, step children, gang members and drunk drivers are welcome to apply. Moreover, as Crime & Incompetence: Guide to America’s Immigration Crisis documents, the USCIS can’t process legal immigrants competently let alone millions of illegal aliens. Even the Government Accountability Office has warned that the USCIS does not operate using “best practices.” These are just some of many reasons why this reckless bill should be scrapped immediately.

On page 606 of the Gang of Eight’s 844-page legislation called, “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” under “Subtitle G — Interior Enforcement, Sec. 3701: Criminal street gangs,” we learn that gang members (with no prior convictions) can apply for a waiver by simply “renouncing” their associations with street gangs.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Migrants Injure Police in Melilla Beach Scuffle

Six Spanish police officers were injured Sunday when they tried to stop 15 sub-Saharan migrants armed with sticks and knives from illegally entering the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco by boat, local officials said.

The agents suffered bruises and scratches that required medical care when they tried to detain the migrants who arrived at the San Lorenzo beach near Melilla’s marina on a wooden boat, the local Spanish government delegation said in a statement.

Police detained five migrants but the remaining ten managed to escape and entered the Spanish enclave on the northwestern African coast, it added.

Melilla, which is home to around 80,000 people, is surrounded by Morocco on one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other.

Migrants from across Africa seeking to get to Europe camp out around Melilla and then make late night assaults on a metal border fence separating the enclave from Morocco or try to enter the territory by boat.

Spain reinforced the border fence separating Melilla from Morocco in August after a resurgence of crossing attempts.

Melilla and Ceuta, another Spanish enclave perched on the coast of north Africa, are both claimed by Morocco.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Boston Marathon Bombing and Amnesty for Illegal Aliens

The Boston Marathon bombing was a glaring and painful lesson in the premise of the much touted gun-control legislation, which was thankfully defeated this week in the Senate. Liberals and the administration were angry that their own brethren, the Democrats, could not gather enough votes to pass the anti-gun legislation that only 4 percent of Americans supported. This legislation would have denied 2nd Amendment rights to 96 percent of Americans who wished to defend themselves against home invasions.

An entire town was in lock down, held hostage to the idiotic creed that somehow, leaving everybody vulnerable, without guns to defend themselves, shaking in fear behind closed doors, while one 19-year-old criminal was on the loose, would make everybody safer and prevent harm to one’s family. I wondered how many citizens wished they had the non-existent “assault weapon” or any weapon to protect their loved ones.

On the other hand, how was it possible that a goofy-looking 19 year old required a massive man-hunt comprised of an entire SWAT team, police, and National Guard, armed with semi and fully automatic rifles, similar to semi-automatic AR-15 that liberals said that law-abiding Americans should not own?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Italian Interior Minister to Hold Migration Talks

Rome, 22 April (AKI) — Italy’s interior minister Annamaria Cancellieri will hold talks with top Tunisian government officials during a two-day visit starting Tuesday aimed at boosting bilateral cooperation to stem illegal immigration.

People smuggling gangs operating in the Mediterrean and the training of border police will be the focus of Cancellieri’s talks with Tunisian prime minister Ali Larayedh, foreign minister Othman Jerandi and interior minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou.

During her stay, Cancellieri will also attend the handing over to local authorities of several coastal new patrol boats and off-road vehicles to be used by Tunisian security forces to counter human trafficking.

Tens of thousands of migrants have reached southern Italy by boat since the Arab Spring revolutions, and the first surge came from Tunisia after the ouster of Tunisia’s longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

Up to 13,500 people have died during the perilous crossing since 1998 including at least 1,500 in 2011,the deadliest on record, according to a report last August by Human Rights Watch.

Italy drew international criticism for its handling of the migrant influx at the height of the Arab Spring, especially over a policy of turning back people-smugglers’ boats in the Mediterranean.

Illegal immigration to Europe from North Africa has sparked rows between European Union countries with Rome arguing that other EU member states must share the burden of the influx of illegal immigrants to the bloc

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

Congress ‘Astonished’ By Military Smear of Christians

Dozens demand Army secretary rescind ‘briefing’ immediately

Members of Congress have expressed astonishment that the U.S. Army Reserve would use a training brief that slams Catholics, evangelical Christians and others and are demanding the practice come to a halt — now.

“Our nation needs to have an honest conversation about religious extremism and what we can do to avoid religious violence. However, labeling these major world religions as extremists is wrong and hurtful,” said a letter by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., that was signed by dozens of other members.

It was addressed to Army Secretary John. M . McHugh at the Pentagon.

“We call on you to rescind this briefing and set the record straight on the Army’s view on these faith groups by providing a balanced briefing on religious extremism,” the letter said.

The letter was prompted by reports that soldiers were taught that evangelical Christians are an extremist threat to America along with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, KKK, Nation of Islam, al-Qaida and Hamas.

“Men and women of faith who have served the Army faithfully for centuries shouldn’t be likened to those who have regularly threatened the peace and security of the United States,” said retired Col. Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. “It is dishonorable for any U.S. military entity to allow this type of wrongheaded characterization. It also appears that some military entities are using definitions of ‘hate’ and ‘extreme’ from the lists of anti-Christian political organizations. That violates the apolitical stance appropriate for the military.”…

Crews said it is astounding that soldiers were taught that a key foundation of the Christian faith is now considered extreme and compared to those who want to implement Islamic law.

Crews said the major problem with the training brief is that it relies heavily on material provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has claimed that WND, the Family Research Council and other pro-family groups are hate groups and extremists.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pope Francis Supports Crackdown on US Nuns

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican said Monday that Pope Francis supports the Holy See’s crackdown on the largest umbrella group of U.S. nuns, dimming hopes that a Jesuit pope whose emphasis on the poor mirrored the nuns’ own social outreach would take a different approach than his predecessor.

The Vatican last year imposed an overhaul of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious after determining the sisters took positions that undermined Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality while promoting “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” Investigators praised the nuns’ humanitarian work, but accused them of ignoring critical issues, including fighting abortion.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Can Big Quakes Trigger Others Far Away?

Big earthquakes cause other quakes far away at least 9 per cent of the time. That’s the conclusion of a new statistical analysis, one that will add to the debate about whether big quakes can trigger damaging tremors elsewhere, and the mechanism that could allow that to happen.

A spate of huge earthquakes in recent years — in Sumatra, Indonesia, in December 2004, Chile in February 2010, and Japan in 2011 — caused many to question whether one large quake can cause another on the other side of the world.

Tom Parsons of the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, surveyed catalogues of seismic activity on every continent except Antarctica, going back to 1979. Over the period, there were 260 earthquakes of magnitude 7 or greater. Twenty-four were followed by small earthquakes on separate fault systems, as the seismic waves passed through distant lands. “It’s a small hazard, but there is a risk,” he says.

His data suggest that any given region will be hit by an earthquake as a result of 2 per cent of big earthquakes elsewhere in the world. Parsons presented his results today at the Seismological Society of America annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah.

He was keen to see if any quakes of magnitude 5 or larger — which can cause serious damage — were the result of remote seismic activity. He found seven events that might qualify, but they all happened at least 9 hours after the seismic waves had passed through those regions, making it hard to say what caused them. “We still can’t say whether they’re linked,” says Parsons.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Dinos Sat on Nests Like Birds, Shells Reveal

Dinosaurs laid eggs, of that there is no doubt. But what scientists haven’t been as clear on is whether they brooded over their eggs like birds or buried them like crocodiles.

Now, a new study finds that at least one dino took a birdlike approach to hatching eggs. Troodon was a small, meat-eating dinosaur that grew to be about 8 feet (2.4 meters) long. The dinosaurs date back to the Late Cretaceous, about 75 million years ago, and they apparently incubated their eggs much like modern birds.

Most birds sit on their eggs to warm them, but crocodiles and their relatives completely bury their nests. The difference between the two shows up in the eggshells: Croc eggs have many pores to allow for air and water exchange, lest the eggs suffocate in their closed, humid nests. Bird eggs exposed to the air have fewer pores, because their eggs would be more in danger of drying out.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mind Control is Becoming Reality

It’s the stuff of sci-fi movies — mind control, where you just direct your mind to make something happen and it does, such as using your thoughts to mentally control a space ship. But more and more your brain waves have the power to actually manipulate and move objects.

The early work on mind control goes back nearly 100 years with the discovery of electroencephalography (popularly known as the EEG) by German psychiatrist Hans Berger, who made the first EEG recordings in 1924 and first reported on the rise and fall of alpha and beta waves. Then, in the 1970s, biofeedback became a big craze, and I went to numerous workshops at Esalen and in San Francisco, where the goal was to relax to increase one’s alpha waves, associated with calm meditation and creative thinking, and reduce one’s beta waves, associated with the everyday awake state and logical thinking.

Now new mind control devices are taking this ability to a whole new level, though rather than scientists taking the lead, the gaming industry seems to be leading the charge. While the equipment could have other uses for doctors, psychologists and other professionals working with the mind, developers are creating equipment that gamers can use to play with their minds.

For example, one developer, NeuroSky, based in San Jose, has created a MindWave Mobile headset with a forehead sensor that recognizes electrical signals from the brain, as Benny Evangelista describes in “NeuroSky Expands Games with Your Mind.” Ironically, this sensor uses the same EEG technology already used in hospitals, but with a high-tech twist, since the headset transmits the EEG signal via Bluetooth to an app, so you can play the game. Among other applications, the company has already developed a game to help children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) focus their minds more. Other app makers have created games where you drive a virtual truck or control a toy helicopter with your mind.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Dark Side of the Digital Revolution

Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, fresh from a visit to North Korea in January, on why the Internet is far from an unalloyed good to the citizens of dictatorships around the world.

And don’t think that the data being collected by autocracies is limited to Facebook posts or Twitter comments. The most important data they will collect in the future is biometric information, which can be used to identify individuals through their unique physical and biological attributes. Fingerprints, photographs and DNA testing are all familiar biometric data types today. Indeed, future visitors to repressive countries might be surprised to find that airport security requires not just a customs form and passport check, but also a voice scan. In the future, software for voice and facial recognition will surpass all the current biometric tests in terms of accuracy and ease of use.

Today’s facial-recognition systems use a camera to zoom in on an individual’s eyes, mouth and nose, and extract a “feature vector,” a set of numbers that describes key aspects of the image, such as the precise distance between the eyes. (Remember, in the end, digital images are just numbers.) Those numbers can be fed back into a large database of faces in search of a match. The accuracy of this software is limited today (by, among other things, pictures shot in profile), but the progress in this field is remarkable. A team at Carnegie Mellon demonstrated in a 2011 study that the combination of “off-the-shelf” facial recognition software and publicly available online data (such as social-network profiles) can match a large number of faces very quickly. With cloud computing, it takes just seconds to compare millions of faces. The accuracy improves with people who have many pictures of themselves available online — which, in the age of Facebook, is practically everyone.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 4/22/2013

  1. Of course it wasn’t a bomb squad drill, the authorities had information that there was to be an attack but didn’t want to shoo away the spectators or competitors in case it never happened. I wonder how high up that decision was made.

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