Gates of Vienna News Feed 5/17/2013

The crisis in the Cyprus real estate market continued into April, with demand down 38% from the same month last year. The drop is slightly less precipitous than in March, which saw a 49% decrease from last year.

In other news, according to recent reports, Qatar has provided more than $3 billion worth of weapons and other aid to the Syrian rebels.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Caroline Glick, Insubria, JD, McR, Papa Whiskey, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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

Financial Crisis
» Cyprus: Real Estate: Market Demand Falls, 49% Drop in March
» Fifteen Seizures in Italy and Switzerland in MPS Probe
» Will Chained Consumer Price Index Punish the Taxpayers?
» A Filmmaker on Obama’s Enemies List?
» California Statesman: CPS Kidnapping Baby Sammy Perfect Example of Power Corrupting
» Caroline Glick: Obama and the “Official Truth”
» D.C. Moves to Force Gun Owners to Buy Prohibitive Liability Insurance
» Disarming Realities: As Gun Sales Soar, Gun Crimes Plummet
» Do You Really Want the IRS Policing Your Health Care?
» Don’t Get Distracted, Stay Focused on Benghazi
» Exposed: Angelina Jolie Part of a Clever Corporate Scheme to Protect Billions in Brca Gene Patents, Influence Supreme Court Decision (Opinion)
» From Rags to Riches on You and Your Neighbor’s Tax Dollars
» German Christian Home-Schooling Romeike Family Loses U.S. Asylum Bid
» Gross Mismanagement: DOJ Witness Program Lost 2 Suspected Terrorists
» Homeland Security Guidelines Advise Deference to Pro-Shariah Muslim Supremacists
» House Votes to Fully Repeal Obamacare for Third Time
» Military Says No Presidential Authorization Needed to Quell “Civil Disturbances”
» Natural News Challenges Angelina Jolie to Denounce Corporate Patents on Human Genes
» News Anchor Who Complained of IRS Harassment ‘Off the Air’
» Prominent Catholic Professor Claims IRS Audited Her After Speaking Against Obama
» Robbers Shove Homeowner in Closet, Where He Kept His Guns
» Second Top IRS Official Resigns Over Scandal — One Month Before Scheduled to Retire
» The Incident in the Rose Garden Rain
» Top Constitutional Experts: Obama is Worse Than Nixon
» Woodward: Don’t Let Government Dismiss Benghazi
Europe and the EU
» Italy: Northern League Discipline Committee Expels 14 Members
» Italy: Luxury Goods, Apartments, Motorcycles Seized in Mafia Raids
» Italy: Controversial TAV Rail Line Treaty to be Ratified in Weeks
» Italy: Crimi Says M5S Ready to Vote for Berlusconi Ineligibility
» Italy: Funerals Tomorrow for Kabobo Pickaxe Rampage Victims
» Police Seize Assets From Sicilian ‘Supermarket King’
» Rain and Floods Continue to Thrash Northern Italy
» UK: ‘Anyone Who Has More Than Two Children is Irresponsible’: What GP Told Mother With Bad Throat After She Mentioned She May Have Another Baby
» UK: I’ve Been Knocked Back From 450 Jobs, Says Unemployed Man With Buddhist Tattoo on His Forehead
» UK: International Manhunt Launched for Mother of Two-Year-Old Girl Found Dead at House by Police Called Over Concern for Youngster’s Welfare
» UK: Now We Pull Out Our Own Teeth: Boom in DIY Dental Kits as Patients Cannot Afford NHS Fees
» UK: Police Chiefs Prepare to Defy Cameron and May by Imposing Ban on Naming Suspects
North Africa
» Bomb Damages Empty School in Benghazi, Libya
» Egyptian Troops Seized in Sinai, Gaza Crossing Closed
» Egypt: Islamist Judges and Blasphemy Charges, New Weapons Against Christians and Secularists
Israel and the Palestinians
» Israel to Legalise 4 Unauthorised Settler Outposts
Middle East
» Bahrain: Twitter: The Social Medium the Emirs Do Not Like
» Kuwait Bars Expats From Morning Treatment — Activists Slam Kuwait ‘Racist’ Move
» Lebanon’s Baalbeck Festival Announces Line-Up
» Qatar Provides Syrian Rebels With Weapons and Aid
» Russia Sends Warships, Missiles to Syria
» Washington: Obama Talks to Erdogan, Against Shipping Weapons to the Rebels
South Asia
» Indonesia: After Six Months, Jakarta Commuter Rail Drops Women-Only Trains
» Indonesian President Named for Religious Freedom Prize. Anger and Indignation of Minorities
» Italy: Grillo Puts Focus on Migrants in Extreme Social Situations
Culture Wars
» Godless UK: A Quarter of Britons Have No Religion With Christians Increasingly Likely to be Retired People
» Pro-Life Groups Confirm: IRS Targeting Began in 2009
» UK: Gay Marriage Laws Are Fuelling a ‘Real Sense of Anger’ And We’re Wrong to Focus on it, Says Defence Secretary Philip Hammond
» Map Shows World’s ‘Most Racist’ Countries (And the Answers May Surprise You)

Cyprus: Real Estate: Market Demand Falls, 49% Drop in March

(ANSAmed) NICOSIA, MAY 16 — Doom and gloom continues to settle deeper into the Cyprus’ housing market with little sign of improvement, as Famagusta Gazette reports. Domestic demand in the property market recorded a decrease after a Eurogroup decision on Cyprus last March and restrictions imposed on transactions which followed. According to the Republic’s Land Registry Office, the decrease was recorded in all cities except the western coastal town of Pafos, which appears to benefit from the interest of foreign investors, mainly Russians and Chinese.

Sale deeds submitted in April 2013 stood at 285 compared to 461 in April last year, thus recording an annual decrease of 38%. In March, the decrease was at 49%. The largest decreases were recorded in Nicosia (-65%), Famagusta (-61%), Limassol 54% and Larnaka 42%. Data for Pafos show an increase of 6%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Fifteen Seizures in Italy and Switzerland in MPS Probe

New suspects under investigation for money-laundering

(ANSA) — Siena, May 16 — Some 15 seizures were being carried out in various Italian and Swiss cities on Thursday as part of probes into Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest working bank, and new suspects were placed under investigation for alleged money-laundering.

The seizures reportedly pertain to so-called “Five percent gang” — a name given to ex-bank managers accused of taking a five percent personal payoff for banking operations under a previous management. Gianluca Baldassarri, the former head of Monte dei Paschi’s finance department, has been detained since February by law enforcement officials as part of an investigation into alleged fraud and bribery at MPS.

Italy’s third largest bank was thrown into crisis in January when it emerged that a shady series of derivative and structured-finance deals produced losses of 720 million euros.

Siena prosecutors are conducting probes into alleged bribery, corruption, tax evasion and other illicit operations at MPS, which were either related to the bank’s nine-billion-euro acquisition of rival Antonveneta in 2008 or the period following the takeover.

Baldassari himself is in fact reportedly under investigation for market manipulation, fraud, obstructing banking watchdogs, issuing false statements and possible collusion in obstruction of proper oversight together with MPS’s former chairman Giuseppe Mussari.

After months of bad news, MPS saw its fortunes turn on the markets on Wednesday.

Stocks for the financially creaking, scandal-mired Italian bank rose 7.7% to 0.22 euros after issuing better-than-expected first-quarter results.

“The bank has totally turned a corner with respect to the past in terms of transparency and capital solidity,” the current chairman of the Tuscan bank, Alessandro Profumo, said.

MPS said in late April it might not be able to repay the controversial government bailout, commonly called “Monti bonds” after ex-premier Mario Monti whose technical government shepherded the deal through.

Repaying the government bailout is “the main challenge” facing the bank, Profumo said.

The bank faces possible nationalization should it default.

MPS in recent months revealed losses of more than three billion euros last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Will Chained Consumer Price Index Punish the Taxpayers?

Government out-of-control spenders win and the retirees, the elderly, the pensioners, and the saving taxpayers lose.

Generic CPI is important because it is a powerful policy control. CPI-W is used to calculate cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security retirement benefits. CPI-U is used to calculate “annual inflation adjustments to personal income tax brackets,” affecting outlays and revenues. Outlays are government-speak for spending.

Since 2002, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published a Chained Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) in order to report CPI “free of substitution bias.” Substitution is an economic term which refers to consumers who change their buying pattern as a direct result of changing relative prices. Consumers buy goods and services more when their prices increase slower over time. If prices rise sharply, consumers substitute those goods.

Policy-makers believe this substitution effect protects consumers from the full effect of rising prices. Neither CPI-W nor CPI-U entirely accounts for substitution thus overstating “the impact of inflation on consumer well-being.” (Julie M. Whittaker, The Chained Consumer Price Index: What Is It and Would It Be Appropriate for Cost-of-Living Adjustments, May 8, 2013)

If I have to switch the quality and type of food I buy (substitute it) for a cheaper or different alternative, it does affect my standard of living. I have insulated myself from higher prices (inflation) but the quality of what I eat has gone down.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

A Filmmaker on Obama’s Enemies List?

The revelations about the IRS targeting voices opposed to Barack Obama’s political agenda came of no surprise to filmmaker Joel Gilbert. His private financial accounts were hacked into and the information used by a George Soros-linked journalist, Seth Rosenfeld, before the presidential election. Gilbert wants to know who provided Rosenfeld with his private bank records. Was it someone at the IRS? Or at the White House?

Gilbert directed the blockbuster film, “Dreams from My Real Father,” which was heavily criticized by the left before the November 2012 presidential election because of the Obama campaign’s fear it could alert voters to Obama’s communist connections and Marxist philosophy. The film featured evidence that Obama’s real father was Frank Marshall Davis, a Communist Party USA operative who indoctrinated Obama into a Marxist ideology during his formative years in Hawaii.

Gilbert was interviewed extensively on radio and television, as well as by major newspapers such as The New York Times, which apparently feared the film would have an impact on the election outcome. His announcement of a promotional campaign to send millions of DVDs for free to various states was of major concern to Obama’s backers in the media.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

California Statesman: CPS Kidnapping Baby Sammy Perfect Example of Power Corrupting

(CA Assemblyman Tim Donnelly) There are few cases that show the truth in this proverb as clearly as when Child Protective Services (CPS) tears a baby from his loving mother’s arms without a warrant and refuses to explain why. That is what happened to one Sacramento couple late last month.

It all started with Anna & Alex Nikolayev’s 5 month-old son, Sammy, who was born with a serious heart condition.

After a nurse at one hospital tried to give young Sammy medicine that a doctor later explained should not have been administered, Anna became nervous about the quality of Sammy’s care. She expressed her desire to receive a second opinion from another doctor. When the ER refused to discharge Sammy, Anna left with her child and immediately took him to another hospital. Subsequently, the CPS was alerted.

At the second location, she was able to have him evaluated and discharged. A doctor-signed note was presented to the authorities explaining that Sammy was in very capable hands. At that point, the CPS’ involvement should have ended. It did not.

In what would be a nightmare for any loving parent, the CPS showed up the next day with four police officers to take Sammy. Thanks to Anna’s quick thinking, there is a home video* of this abusive government action.

When asked to explain their actions, CPS stated that they did not have to.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: Obama and the “Official Truth”

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been sitting in a US federal prison in Texas since his photographed midnight arrest by half a dozen deputy sheriffs at his home in California for violating the terms of his parole. As many reporters have noted, the parole violation in question would not generally lead to anything more than a court hearing.

But in Nakoula’s case, it led to a year in a federal penitentiary. Because he wasn’t really arrested for violating the terms of his parole.

Nakoula was arrested for producing an anti- Islam film that the Obama administration was falsely blaming for the al-Qaida assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi and the brutal murder of US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans on September 11, 2012. Obama and his associates falsely blamed Nakoula’s film — and scapegoated Nakoula — for inciting the al-Qaida attack in Benghazi because they needed a fall guy to pin their cover-up of the actual circumstances of the premeditated, eminently foreseeable attack, which took place at the height of the presidential election campaign.

With the flood of scandals now inundating the White House, many are wondering if there is a connection between the cover-up of Benghazi, the IRS’s prejudicial treatment of non-leftist nonprofit organizations and political donors, the Environmental Protection Agency’s prejudicial treatment of non-liberal organizations, and the Justice Department’s subpoenaing of phone records of up to a hundred reporters and editors from the Associated Press.

On the surface, they seem like unrelated events.

But they are not. They expose the modus operandi of the Obama administration: To establish an “official truth” about all issues and events, and use the powers of the federal government to punish all those who question or expose the fraudulence of that “official truth.”…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]

D.C. Moves to Force Gun Owners to Buy Prohibitive Liability Insurance

In a frontal assault against the Bill of Rights, the District of Columbia is moving to force firearms owners to purchase prohibitively expensive liability insurance.

California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania have also proposed forcing gun owners to buy liability insurance.

Democrat City Council member Mary Cheh proposed the law. It requires residents purchase at least $250,000 in insurance coverage before city government would consider applications to register a firearm.

If passed, the law will be the first in the country and serve as a precedent for Democrats and gun-grabbers working to dismantle the Second Amendment.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Disarming Realities: As Gun Sales Soar, Gun Crimes Plummet

A couple of new studies reveal the gun-control hypesters’ worst nightmare… more people are buying firearms, while firearm-related homicides and suicides are steadily diminishing. What crackpots came up with these conclusions? One set of statistics was compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice. The other was reported by the Pew Research Center.

According to DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. gun-related homicides dropped 39 percent over the course of 18 years, from 18,253 during 1993, to 11,101 in 2011. During the same period, non-fatal firearm crimes decreased even more, a whopping 69 percent. The majority of those declines in both categories occurred during the first 10 years of that time frame. Firearm homicides declined from 1993 to 1999, rose through 2006, and then declined again through 2011. Non-fatal firearm violence declined from 1993 through 2004, then fluctuated in the mid-to-late 2000s.

And where did the bad people who did the shooting get most of their guns? Were those gun show “loopholes” responsible? Nope. According to surveys DOJ conducted of state prison inmates during 2004 (the most recent year of data available), only two percent who owned a gun at the time of their offense bought it at either a gun show or flea market. About 10 percent said they purchased their gun from a retail shop or pawnshop, 37 percent obtained it from family or friends, and another 40 percent obtained it from an illegal source.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Do You Really Want the IRS Policing Your Health Care?

Over the past week, details have emerged on how the Internal Revenue Service subjected certain groups to undue scrutiny in a systematic manner over an extended period of time. It is deeply concerning that the same IRS that just admitted to the political profiling of Americans who oppose a big-government agenda is also tasked with enforcing the myriad mandates, taxes and regulations in Obamacare.

Americans have entrusted the IRS with a tremendous amount of power, and that power has been systematically abused over the course of months and years. While this fact is chilling enough for many of us, it’s actually about to get much worse.

With the House poised to once again to vote to repeal the disastrous Obamacare law on Thursday, it’s worthwhile to note that President Obama has approved giving this entity billions more in funding and thousands of new employees to take on even more extraordinary authority — enforcing Obamacare, overseeing the health care decisions of all Americans and, what’s more, handling the private health insurance information that belongs to you and your family.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Don’t Get Distracted, Stay Focused on Benghazi

Most of us thought the Benghazi nightmare was beyond unbelievable! Surely as the investigation full of whistle blowers and high level officials verified our worst fears about Obama, justice would be done this time. The investigation still continues and the smell of treason, hidden agendas and the mother load of illegal cover-ups reek to high heaven! It demands treason, arrests and impeachment charges.

I won’t roll out all the details of the current Benghazi testimony and verified facts that expose the endless lies by Obama and the evil cover up but they are now all verified, even by the normally ‘asleep media’ ABC, CNN and others. We now have our first apology this week by the head of the BBC saying they had been ‘duped’ by Obama and the Government spin. Who will be next?

Obama sees that lava is coming down from the mountain and the Elephants are charging. Even more frightening for him is that the idiot and sold out mainstream media is waking up. Obama knows the consequences will be severe regarding his actions. I predict his endless and evil behavior is now starting to hit him upside the head. He apparently forgot that ‘what goes around comes around.’ He also forgot that when you throw out the evil he has, it will eventually land hard just like an angry boomerang — in your face.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Exposed: Angelina Jolie Part of a Clever Corporate Scheme to Protect Billions in Brca Gene Patents, Influence Supreme Court Decision (Opinion)

Today, about 20 percent of your genes are already patented by corporations and universities. As the ACLU explains, “A gene patent holder has the right to prevent anyone from studying, testing or even looking at a gene. As a result, scientific research and genetic testing has been delayed, limited or even shut down due to concerns about gene patents.”

This means that when corporations own patents on human genes, it stifles scientific research while granting that corporation a monopoly over the “intellectual property” encoded in your own DNA! (How criminal is that? You decide…)

What this means is that if the Supreme Court rules against Myriad, it would set a precedent that would dismantle the entire human gene patenting industry, affecting trillions of dollars in future profits.

This, I believe, is the real reason behind Angelina Jolie’s announcement. It seems designed to invoke women’s emotional reactions and create a groundswell of support for corporate-owned genes, thereby handing these corporations a Supreme Court precedent that will ensure trillions in future profits. It’s a for-profit PR stunt that tries to trick women into supporting a corporate system of patents and monopolies that claims, right now, to own portions of the bodies of every woman living today.

While most media outlets have no clue about the patent issues at stake here, the Detroit Free Press took notice, saying:

“The Hollywood star’s decision to get tested for a breast cancer gene mutation, undergo a double mastectomy and then write about it calls attention to a case now pending before the court. The justices have just weeks to decide if Myriad Genetics’ patent on the two genes that can identify an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer is legal. Critics complain that the company’s monopoly leaves them as the sole source of the $4,000 tests needed to determine each woman’s risk.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

From Rags to Riches on You and Your Neighbor’s Tax Dollars

80% of Dept. of Energy loans went to companies owned by or connected to President Barack Obama’s top campaign fundraisers.

The wheels of TRUE justice, not those of the Obama-Holder unJustice Department, are beginning to move, if ever so slightly; but moving they do appear to be. With all the roadblocks the dastardly duo of Obama and Holder are placing in the path of progress, it’s a wonder that they are moving at all.

Those two conniving chameleons of corruptness and chicanery run the most illegitimate department of justice in the history of this one-time great country (BO — Before Obama). In fact, to call it the Justice Department is the most improper and nonfactual title that could be bestowed on it. Justice does not dwell within its parameters.

It is only fitting that officials holding office in the Congressional House of Representatives are finally stirring with comments that include the word ‘impeachment’. It is about time and probably close to FIVE years late; but I shouldn’t be saying “late” as it is NEVER too late to bring daylight to the dark and mysterious corridors of that terribly mismanaged and mishandled Executive Department. The apparent sins of the Treasury Department’s former tax-Cheat Secretary and currect Internal Revenue Service are childish when compared to the unJustice Department.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

German Christian Home-Schooling Romeike Family Loses U.S. Asylum Bid

A German family seeking asylum in the U.S. so they can home-school their children lost their appeal in federal court on Tuesday (May 14), but their lawyers say they’re prepared to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.

The German government persecuted the Romeike family for their faith, said Mike Donnelly, a lawyer with the Home School Legal Defense Association, a religious organization that is representing the Romeike family.

“It is treating people who home-school for religious or philosophical reasons differently,” he added.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gross Mismanagement: DOJ Witness Program Lost 2 Suspected Terrorists

The Justice Department’s inspector general said the U.S. Marshals Service lost two known or suspected terrorists who participated in a federal witness program.

A summary of an interim report from the Inspector General’s office said during an audit of the federal Witness Security Program it became apparent “the department did not definitively know how many known or suspected terrorists were admitted into the WitSec [Witness Security Program],” among other “significant issues concerning national security,” CNN reported Thursday.

The U.S. broadcaster said the Marshals Service concluded one of the “known or suspected” terrorists was living outside the United States and the other was believed to be living outside the country.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Homeland Security Guidelines Advise Deference to Pro-Shariah Muslim Supremacists

“The Department of Homeland Security, which under Secretary Janet Napolitano has shown a keen interest in monitoring and warning about outspoken conservatives, takes a very different approach in monitoring political Islamists, according to a 2011 memo on protecting the free speech rights of pro-Shariah Muslim supremacists.

“In a checklist obtained by The Daily Caller entitled “Countering Violent Extremism Dos and Don’ts” the DHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties notifies local and national law enforcement officials that it is Obama administration policy to consider specifically Islamic criticism of the American system of government legitimate.”

[Not only have the feds proscribed the truth about Islam in their terrorism training manuals, theyre mandating dhimmitude in their agents. The document is reproduced at the Caller’s site. — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

House Votes to Fully Repeal Obamacare for Third Time

The House of Representatives voted today to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act, 229-195. This was the third vote for full repeal, and the 37th overall vote the House has taken to disrupt, dismantle, defund or repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.) called the vote shortly before 6:30 p.m.

Two Blue Dog Democrats, Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah), voted along with 227 House Republicans in support of the bill.

No Republicans opposed repeal, although five GOPers missed the vote.

In a statement following the vote, House Speaker John Boehner said the vote was “all about jobs.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Military Says No Presidential Authorization Needed to Quell “Civil Disturbances”

A recent Department of Defense instruction alters the US code applying to the military’s involvement in domestic law enforcement by allowing US troops to quell “civil disturbances” domestically without any Presidential authorization, greasing the skids for a de facto military coup in America along with the wholesale abolition of Posse Comitatus.

The instruction (embedded at the end of this article), which was originally released in February yet has only come to light this week, outlines DoD policy regarding, “DoD support to Federal, State, tribal, and local civilian law enforcement agencies, including responses to civil disturbances within the United States.”

In essence, this policy change seeks to supersede Posse Comitatus, the 1878 law which forbids the military from being involved in domestic law enforcement “except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Natural News Challenges Angelina Jolie to Denounce Corporate Patents on Human Genes

(NaturalNews) Following recent revelations of how Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy P.R. stunt feeds into the profits of the trillion dollar industry which claims to own human genes, Natural News is now calling on Jolie to publicly denounce patents on human genes, including the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes she has now made famous.

Does Angelina Jolie really stand up for women and human rights? Or is she a corporate sellout who corrals women into the for-profit cancer industry that claims ownership over the genetic code of all women?


  • The BRCA1 gene for breast cancer is patented by a corporation called Myriad Genetics. All patents are government-enforced monopolies over intellectual property, and they thus prevent anyone else from conducting research or testing on the BRCA1 gene without paying huge royalties to Myriad. This is why the BRCA detection tests cost $3,000 — $4,000 each.
  • Angelina Jolie’s announcement of a double mastectomy even though she had no breast cancer caused the stock price of Myriad to skyrocket to a 52-week high. Whether she intended it or not, her advocacy of double mastectomies is causing market values to sharply rise in the human genomics industry, where corporations own patents on human genes.
  • Obamacare mandates that, over the next few years, taxpayers start paying for BRCA1 gene testing. This will be a direct transfer of money from taxpayers to the corporations that “own” the human genes being tested.
  • An imminent Supreme Court decision could make or break the human gene testing industry. Trillions of dollars are at stake. If the Supreme Court rules against corporate patents on human genes, BRCA1 testing will become amazingly affordable (in the $100 range), thereby denying billions of dollars in profits to gene patent holders.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

News Anchor Who Complained of IRS Harassment ‘Off the Air’

Larry Connors, the KMOV anchor who asked Barack Obama some tough questions about his family’s vacation habits and claimed earlier this week that he might have been harassed by the IRS as a result, has been taken off the air.

According to the St. Louis Dispatch, the station decided to give Connors a “few days off” while they looked into his allegations. KMOV news director Sean McLaughlin went out of his way to say that Connors was not suspended.

“We take this very seriously, and we don’t expect this to drag on. We’re still looking into the situation and weighing our options,” he told the St. Louis Dispatch.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Prominent Catholic Professor Claims IRS Audited Her After Speaking Against Obama

Startling allegations are emerging in the midst of the Internal Revenue Service scandal. Dr. Anne Hendershott, a devout Catholic and a noted sociologist, professor and author, says that she believes she may have been one of the IRS’s targets. Hendershott claims that the IRS audited her in 2010 and demanded to know who was paying her and “what their politics were.” Ann Hendershott can’t help but wonder if her writings against progressive groups played a role in her audit.

Hendershott says she received a phone in May of that year in which she said she was being audited. A letter that followed on May 19, 2010 solidified the IRS’s request to meet her in person two months later in July. The professor told the Blaze that she believes that the situation surrounding hers was more-than-curious.

“The IRS calls my house and says . ‘I just wanted to let you know that we’re going to be auditing your business’ and I said ‘My businesses?’ and he said, ‘You know the expenses you take off for writing,” she recalls.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Robbers Shove Homeowner in Closet, Where He Kept His Guns

In yet another pro-Second Amendment story that the national media dare not touch, a homeowner in Sharpstown, Houston was assaulted by three robbers who broke into his house and shut him in a closet — unaware that the closet was where he kept his guns.

With the homeowner thinking the three men had left, he exited the closet armed and proceeded to walk downstairs, before confronting one of the burglars and exchanging shots.

The homeowner was unharmed but the wounded robber stumbled outside and collapsed onto the floor, where he was watched by Neighbor Craig Gaddis who had heard the gunfire. The other two men fled the scene.

Neighbors said that the area had been plagued by a spate of recent robberies. The wounded suspect was hospitalized and the homeowner faces no charges for defending his property.

“Guess what? The owner had a gun,” Gaddis told local ABC 13 news. “He did exactly what he was supposed to do — with the gun, that’s what they’re made for — protect his home.”

This is precisely the kind of story, reflecting the Second Amendment in a positive light in stopping a crime, that happens routinely but is rarely if ever mentioned by the national media, which instead only obsesses about guns when they are used in the commission of a crime.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Second Top IRS Official Resigns Over Scandal — One Month Before Scheduled to Retire

Expected to retire in June, Joseph Grant, head of the tax-exempt and government entities division of the IRS, said on Thursday he was leaving the agency immediately. Grant was the supervisor for the controversy-mired department responsible for illegally targeting tea-party and other conservative groups.

Grant’s resignation came just one day after acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller stepped down. Miller’s assignment was also scheduled to end in June.


Not to be mollified by a simple slap on the wrist and what basically amounts to an extended vacation for the two people most responsible for the IRS action, Speaker of the House, John Boehner is calling for blood. “My question isn’t about who is going to resign. My question is who’s going to jail over this scandal?”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Incident in the Rose Garden Rain

Armed by the arrogant confidence that comes via a protective circle of self-serving, back-scratching politicians (including Republican ones), who do nothing to deter his increasing taunts against all things American, President Barack Hussein Obama continues to publicly trash the cherished image of the military.

Taking a leaf straight from the book of his overbearing wife, Michelle who used military members in full dress as props on the night she invaded living rooms via satellite from the White House to announce this year’s Best Picture, yesterday big brave BHO used Marines holding umbrellas to shelter both himself and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan from a little light drizzle in the White House Rose Garden.


“According to Marine Corps regulation MCO P1020.34F of the Marine Corps Uniform Regulations chapter 3, a male Marine is not allowed to carry an umbrella while in uniform. There is no provision in the Marine Corps uniform regulation guidelines that allows a male Marine to carry an umbrella.”

“Not even the President of the United States can request a Marine to carry an umbrella without the express consent of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, according (to) the Marine Corps Manual.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Top Constitutional Experts: Obama is Worse Than Nixon

In the wake of the twin scandals of the IRS targeting conservative groups and the Department of Justice spying on AP reporters, the comparisons between Obama and Nixon are everywhere.

But what do experts say?

Former New York Times general counsel James Goodale — who represented the paper during its Pentagon Papers fight with the Nixon administration — said in an interview yesterday that Obama is worse than Nixon when it comes to press freedoms. And see this.

Former constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald noted last year:

We supposedly learned important lessons from the abuses of power of the Nixon administration, and then of the Bush administration: namely, that we don’t trust government officials to exercise power in the dark, with no judicial oversight, with no obligation to prove their accusations. Yet now we hear exactly this same mentality issuing from Obama, his officials and defenders to justify a far more extreme power than either Nixon or Bush dreamed of asserting: he’s only killing The Bad Citizens, so there’s no reason to object!

Jonathan Turley — perhaps the top constitutional law expert in the United States (and a liberal) — writes:

The painful fact is that Barack Obama is the president that Nixon always wanted to be.

Four decades ago, Nixon was halted in his determined effort to create an “imperial presidency” with unilateral powers and privileges. In 2013, Obama wields those very same powers openly and without serious opposition. The success of Obama in acquiring the long-denied powers of Nixon is one of his most remarkable, if ignoble, accomplishments. Consider a few examples:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Woodward: Don’t Let Government Dismiss Benghazi

During an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, Bob Woodward said the corporate media should not allow the government to underplay and divert attention away from the Benghazi terror attack.

“If you read through all these e-mails, you see that everyone in the government is saying, ‘Oh, let’s not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to al-Qaeda. Let’s not tell the public that there were warnings,” Woodward said.

He then compared the situation to Watergate 40 years ago. “I have to go back 40 years to Watergate when Nixon put out his edited transcripts to the conversations, and he personally went through them and said, ‘Oh, let’s not tell this, let’s not show this.’ I would not dismiss Benghazi. It’s a very serious issue. As people keep saying, four people were killed.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy: Northern League Discipline Committee Expels 14 Members

Slaps, shoving reported at Veneto branch

(ANSA) — Milan, May 13 — The disciplinary committee of the regionalist Northern League agreed Monday to expel at least 14 members from its Veneto branch in northern Italy after a meeting that reportedly involved scuffles, slaps and shoving.

Another 22 so-called militants, who clashed with other League members at the meeting, have been suspended by “unanimous” consent, ANSA has learned.

Dissidents who have challenged national secretary Flavio Tosi were able to enter Monday’s meeting and began shoving and shouting insults at other League members.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Luxury Goods, Apartments, Motorcycles Seized in Mafia Raids

Investigators target assets of associates

(ANSA) — Palermo, May 15 — Police seized luxury clothing, purses and accessories from designer shops as well as apartments and other assets worth more than 16 million euros as part of a Mafia crackdown Wednesday.

Police in Sicily said Wednesday that raids in the city of Palermo, as well as in the city of Catania, were conducted during an investigation into the business dealings of Filippo Giardina and Salvatore Milano. Both men are 60 and under investigation for money laundering.

Police say that Milano is well known as a Mafia leader in Palermo and has been placed under house arrest.

Besides luxury items, apartments, warehouses and land, a tobacco shop, three cars, motorcycles and a boat were also seized.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Controversial TAV Rail Line Treaty to be Ratified in Weeks

Link to return before parliament

(ANSA) — Rome, May 16 — The international treaty for the controversial Tav high-speed rail line running from Lyon to Turin will be ratified by Italy’s parliament in the next two weeks, Infrastructure Minister Maurizio Lupi said on Thursday.

Critics of the rail link have staged violent protests since a construction site for the high-speed rail connection opened outside Turin in 2011, denouncing its high cost and claiming it will cause environmental damage.

Despite the backlash, the government has said that construction will continue as planned and that the project is an important driver of economic growth.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Crimi Says M5S Ready to Vote for Berlusconi Ineligibility

(AGI) Rome — Crimi says that the M5S movement, taking the word of Senate PD group leader, is ready to vote Berlusconi ineligible .

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

Italy: Funerals Tomorrow for Kabobo Pickaxe Rampage Victims

(AGI) Milan — Funerals will be held tomorrow in Milan for the three victims of Ghana native Mada Kabobo’s pickaxe rampage .

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

Police Seize Assets From Sicilian ‘Supermarket King’

Sebastiano Scuto guilty of associating with Mafia

(ANSA) — Catania, May 15 — Police on Wednesday sequestered hundreds of millions of euros in assets linked to a disgraced businessman known as Sicily’s ‘supermarket king’. Sebastiano Scuto was sentenced by an appeals court last month to 12 years in prison for Mafia affiliation. He was convicted along with former police sergeant Orazio Castro, who was accused of passing information to the Mafia.

The court heard that Scuto, 72, paid the Laudani clan for protection and help in expanding his independent supermarket franchises, which were part of the Despar chain.

Besides the 12-year jail term, it also ordered the confiscation of all Scuto’s property.

Initially, the courts had sentenced Scuto to four years and eight months in prison, and had ordered just 15% of his goods confiscated.

Scuto had argued that he was a victim, not a part, of the Mafia.

Seizures of his property Wednesday were taking place in five Sicilian cities as well as in Salerno, Reggio Emilia, Monza and Milan.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Rain and Floods Continue to Thrash Northern Italy

Man drowns in garage, railways submerged in mudslides

(ANSA) — Rome, May 17 — Unseasonably heavy rains continued to flood parts of northern Italy Friday, killing at least one person and causing hundreds of millions of euros in damage. In the Valsugana valley between the Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige regions, a landslide blocked the railway outside Trento.

In Lombardy, 80 people were evacuated from two buildings whose foundations were weakened by a mudslide along the Lecco-Bergamo rail line. Near Verona, a man was found drowned in a flooded semi-underground garage, while not far away a woman was trapped in her car buried by a mudslide before being rescued by firefighters and taken to hospital. Operators across northern Italy reported emergency lines were overwhelmed. Veneto Governor Luca Zaia said he would ask for over half a billion euros in emergency State assistance. The bad weather is estimated to last up to another five days in parts of northern Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Anyone Who Has More Than Two Children is Irresponsible’: What GP Told Mother With Bad Throat After She Mentioned She May Have Another Baby

When Charlotte Comer went to her GP with a sore throat, she got more than she was expecting.

As well as being prescribed antibiotics for tonsillitis, the mother of two received an unwelcome lecture on family size.

Her doctor told her she would be ‘irresponsible’ if she had a third child, and went on to call for a limit on how many children couples can have, as happens in China.


The couple do not claim employment or housing benefits and Miss Comer is currently on maternity leave. ‘I was walking out with Freddie in my arms and he [Dr Landen] asked me if I wanted any more kids,’ she said. ‘I told him we were thinking of having another, but not until after we got married.

‘I started explaining that we both came from big families so we’d like more children but he said he didn’t think coming from big families justified having more children.

‘He then started talking about how the country is overpopulated and anyone who has more than two children is irresponsible. He started going on about how this country should be like China where people are allowed only one child.’ China’s one-child law has been used to control its booming population since 1979…


‘I was shocked to be having this conversation. I went in for some antibiotics and came out with a lecture…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: I’ve Been Knocked Back From 450 Jobs, Says Unemployed Man With Buddhist Tattoo on His Forehead

A job-hunter claims he has been left unemployable because he is covered in tattoos.

Yusuf Hameed, 40, has been knocked back from dozens of jobs over the last year because of his unconventional appearance.

His body art includes a Buddhism symbol on his forehead, two Thai boxing tattoos on the back of his head, and a yin yang on the back of his head.

He said he has applied for 450 jobs including a car wash attendant and a street cleaner but receives the same feedback — employers cannot hire him because of his tattoos.

Mr Hameed, from Batley, West Yorkshire, said: ‘It is really getting me down and it is so hard to think that these tattoos are such a strong barrier against me getting a job.

‘I came to Batley from Pontefract after being made redundant from a meat manufacturing company.

‘I’ve been doing everything the job centre has told me and attended all my interviews but they take one look at my tattoos and won’t give me a chance.’

Muslim convert Mr Hameed got his first tattoo aged 14 but wishes he had never had them done.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: International Manhunt Launched for Mother of Two-Year-Old Girl Found Dead at House by Police Called Over Concern for Youngster’s Welfare

An international manhunt was launched tonight for the mother of a two-year-old girl found dead in her home.

The child’s body was discovered at her semi-detached home after a member of her family became concerned for her welfare and contacted police.

Detectives from Thames Valley Police said they are trying to find the mother, who they believe may have left the country.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Now We Pull Out Our Own Teeth: Boom in DIY Dental Kits as Patients Cannot Afford NHS Fees

THOUSANDS of Britons are carrying out DIY dentistry, pulling their own teeth with pliers and using household glue to stick down fillings.

Unable to afford soaring charges, almost a fifth of people have all but given up going to their dentist, the Sunday Express newspaper has discovered.

There has been a surge in sales of dental kits at pharmacies including chemicals to whiten teeth.

Experts say that up to 200,000 DIY dentists risk injuring themselves and missing out on potentially life-saving check-ups.

Up to a third of adults no longer have an NHS dentist, according to the latest figures.

Gulf War veteran Ian Boynton, 46, from Woodmansey, East Yorkshire, pulled out 13 of his teeth with pliers because he was in agony and could not find an NHS dentist to treat him.

In another case a 46-year-old man from Wandsworth, south London, needed major surgery after he stuck a crown into his mouth with super glue which rotted the bone in his gum.

Other DIY dentists have whitened teeth with household cleaning products and popped ulcers with pins.

Dental surgeon Julian Perry warned: “DIY dentistry can be extremely harmful. It is vital patients get regular check-ups. Dentists can identify mouth cancer and problems linked to conditions such as heart disease.”

Sandy Renton, 41, of Hove, East ¬Sussex, lost a veneer leaving her with a stump at the front of her mouth. No NHS practices could take her on and she went to a private clinic which badly refitted her veneer and damaged another healthy tooth.

Mrs Renton eventually discovered Oasis, a new chain of dental practices that offers affordable private care and NHS treatments when it has space, which resolved her problems.

Since a new NHS contract was introduced in 2006, the number of crowns, bridges and dentures being fitted has fallen dramatically as dentists feel they are no longer paid enough for time-consuming procedures.

As many as 500,000 patients have been wrongly told by their dentist they must pay privately for treatment that should be available on the NHS.

Barry Cockcroft, Chief Dental Officer for NHS England, said: “All children and nearly one third of adults who see a dentist under the NHS get their treatment for free and 1.25 million more ¬people now see NHS dentists than in May 2010.

“For those who do pay, NHS dentistry charges are very simple. Anyone worried about charges should speak to their dentist, who can help them ensure their treatment is affordable. No one should feel any need to put themselves in danger by attempting their own dentistry.”

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Chiefs Prepare to Defy Cameron and May by Imposing Ban on Naming Suspects

Police chiefs are preparing to defy the Prime Minister by imposing a ban on identifying arrested suspects.

Despite warnings from David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May, the Association of Chief Police Officers is pressing ahead with plans to impose a policy of almost total secrecy.

A draft of its draconian new guidance — due to be approved next week — states: ‘Save in exceptional and clearly identified circumstances, the names or identifying details of those who are arrested or suspected of a crime should not be released by police forces to the press or the public.’

It flies in the face of a hugely significant intervention by Mr Cameron on Wednesday, when he said there should be a ‘working assumption’ in favour of identifying crime suspects.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bomb Damages Empty School in Benghazi, Libya

(AGI) — Tripoli, May 17 — A bomb exploded in an empty school in Benghazi, causing damage, but injuring no one. The school was closed on Friday, the Muslim sabbath, but investigators said the men guarding the building could not be ruled out as targets. The incident is the latest confirmation of the high level of instability in the country.

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

Egyptian Troops Seized in Sinai, Gaza Crossing Closed

Hamas boosts controls to prevent ‘jihadist’ infiltration

(ANSAmed) — GAZA — The Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip was blocked on Friday by Egyptian policemen in a protest against the abduction of seven fellow officers Thursday in northern Sinai, between el-Arish and Sheikh Zweid.

Many suspect that jihadist groups could take the hostages to the Palestinian enclave.

Hamas, the Islamic group governing Gaza, has boosted controls along the border to prevent ‘infiltrations’ following the kidnapping, allegedly carried out by militants with jihadist cells in Sinai.

Palestinian news agency Maan said four of the kidnapped officers were deployed on the Rafah border crossing and that is why their colleagues have decided to block the passage in retaliation ‘until the prisoners are released’.

Local sources said that hundreds of Palestinians are now blocked on both sides of the crossing until the crisis is solved.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Islamist Judges and Blasphemy Charges, New Weapons Against Christians and Secularists

The case of Dimyana Ubeid Abdel al-Nour, a Christian teacher accused of insulting Islam, is raising concerns across the country. Backed by Islamist Prosecutor General Talaat Abdhallah, more and more judges accept complaints for blasphemy and proselytising.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Judges affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist imams are jeopardising the safety and survival of Egypt’s Coptic Christians, sources, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews. Backed by controversial Attorney General Talaat Abdhallah, more and more judges are in fact accepting allegations of blasphemy and insults to religion.

“The presence of radical imams in mosques in Upper Egypt villages is another problem,” one source said. “They incite the largely illiterate population against Christians.”

Minority Copts have in fact become the victims of assault, arsons and bombings on a daily basis. The latest case occurred on Wednesday in a village in Minya District (Upper Egypt) where a mob of more than 2,000 Muslims attacked Coptic-owned shops and homes and tried to burn down the local church, which is dedicated to St Theodore Coptic.

“Copts have lived with these problems for years,” the source added, “which are often resolved through the intervention of religious authorities, and reconciliation. However, the rising number of complaints about blasphemy or proselytising is a reason of concern. In fact, judges once were reluctant to deal with such complaints out of fear that they might spark sectarian violence, now blasphemy charges are one of the easiest ways to attack the Christian minority thanks to the support of Islamist officials.”

In recent weeks, the case of Dimyana Ubeid Abdel al-Nour (pictured) become front-page news. The 23-year-old Christian teacher at a primary school in Luxor was arrested on 8 May for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad in class.

Faced with a large number of calls for her release, Prosecutor General Abdhallah freed her on bail (US$ 2,900), a huge sum for the young woman’s family. Yet, Dimyana is still in prison where she begun a hunger strike ahead of her trial on 21 May.

Dimyana’s legal ordeal began on 8 April 2012. The young teacher taught at the Shaikh Sultan Primary School and on that day was covering polytheism, religious life at the time of the pharaohs, and how Pharaoh Akhenaten had adopted monotheism. The lesson also touched on the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. During the class, the subject inspector was also present but he left ten minutes before the session ended.

Two days later, the school suspended the teacher after three children accused her of defaming Islam and praising the Gospel. In the following days, three separate committees as well as the school director questioned her.

The parents of some children had claimed that the teacher had compared Muhammad and the late Patriarch Shenouda III, judging the latter better than the former. However, from the start, Dimyana denied the allegations.

After questioning, all three committees cleared her. However, under pressure from parents and other teachers, the school brought the case to the attention of the Education Ministry, which opened a file against the teacher. On 8 May, she arrested.

Moderate Muslims have also caught in cases of lèse-religion, especially journalists and television commentators. The most famous case involves Bassem Yousef, the Egyptian Jon Stewart, who was arrested and later released after the Muslim Brotherhood complained that he had insulted Islam, a charge he has always rejected as false. His trial has been set for September. In recent months. (S.C.)

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

Israel to Legalise 4 Unauthorised Settler Outposts

Reports from Peace Now spark Palestinian Authority rage

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, MAY 16 — Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s nationalistic government plans to grant legal status to four illegally-built settler outposts in the West Bank. The reports from the Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now activists have sparked the anger of Palestinian Authority and may render in vain the U.S.’s latest, difficult attempt to restart the peace process, which has been stalled for years. The matter came to light only days prior to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the region. Kerry is scheduled to meet with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the attempt to relaunch talks. In response to a Supreme Court petition by Peace Now, the government said it had decided to retroactively authorise four West Bank outposts built without official permission. The court will meet on May 22 to discuss the issue again.

Peace Now considers the decision “a slap in the face to Kerry’s initiative” and “blatant reassurance to settler interests”. The association said that the decision harms any hope for peace. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki said that the Palestinian Authority “condemns” the decision and “firmly rejects it”. No public statement has yet been issued by the Israeli prime minister’s office. The four outposts, all located in isolated areas, are: Maale Rehavam (east of Bethlehem), Haroeh (north of Ramallah), Givat Assaf (east of Ramallah) and Mitzpe Lachish (south-west of hebron). Peace Now noted that Givat Assaf was supposed to have been evacuated a year ago. According to media reports, the Supreme Court has stated that the government claims that three quarters of the land on which the outpost was built — previously entirely owned by Palestinians — has been purchased by a cooperative connected with the settlers. This is why the government has ordered the civil administration (the Israeli military command in the Palestinian Territories) to look into the “possibility of legalising the outpost”. Peace Now said that the new government’s attitude “shows that it is not interested in peace or the two-state solution”.

Last week the media reported that Netanyahu was quietly curbing settlement activity in the West Bank and freezing tenders for new housing projects in an apparent show of support for Kerry’s initiative. The Israeli activists also say that settlement building is going forward in any case. They also note that last week Israeli announced preliminary approval for the building of 300 housing units in the Beit El settlement, on the basis of agreements made between the prime minister and settlers a year ago.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Bahrain: Twitter: The Social Medium the Emirs Do Not Like

As government persecution continues, six more people are arrested in Bahrain for offensive twitting against the country’s customs and institutions. Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, the religious police warns locals that anyone using social media “has lost this world and his afterlife.”

Manama (AsiaNews/Agencies) — A Bahrain court sentenced six activists to a year in jail for insulting King Hamad bin Isa al-Halaifa in messages posted on Twitter. For the public prosecutor, they were guilty of “misuse of freedom of expression”.

On the same day the six activists were convicted, Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, head of the Saudi religious police, strongly criticised the use of twitter by Saudis, saying that “anyone using social media sites,” especially Twitter, “has lost this world and his afterlife”, reflecting official concern that Saudis use Twitter to discuss sensitive political and other issues.

Saudi Arabia is believed to have seen the world’s fastest increase in the uptake of Twitter.

Protests in Bahrain began in February of 2011, leading to the arrest of 3,000 activists and the death of 80 protesters, 35 of them only between March and April.

Bahrain’s ruling family has run the small country for more than 200 years. When challenged, it called on the Saudi government to help them crush demonstrations. Riyadh responded by sending about a thousand troops.

On 9 July 2012, Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for human rights and an iconic figure in the protest movement, was also sentenced to two years in prison on misusing freedom of expression as well.

Friends now run his Twitter account, which has become the online window for Bahraini dissidents with over 200,000 followers.

On the same day that the six activists were convicted, Nabeel’s family went public with strong concerns over the conditions of his imprisonment.

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

Kuwait Bars Expats From Morning Treatment — Activists Slam Kuwait ‘Racist’ Move

KUWAIT: Kuwait is to bar foreigners from attending public hospitals in the mornings, local media reported yesterday, in a decision activists labeled as “racist”. The decision comes after complaints in parliament of Kuwaiti patients having to wait for treatment at public health facilities because of the large number of expatriates.

Health Minister Mohammad Al-Haifi, who is also a surgeon, ordered that the outpatient clinics at the public hospital in Jahra, west of Kuwait City, will only receive Kuwaiti patients in the morning from June 1. Foreign residents will be able to receive treatment in the evenings, said the decision published in Kuwaiti media yesterday.

Kuwait is home to 2.6 million foreigners, mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Egypt and Syria, and 1.2 million native Kuwaitis. The new system will be applied at the clinics at Jahra hospital for six months on a “trial basis before its application at other (government) hospitals”.

Kuwait provides free medical services to citizens but expats must pay an annual fee of $175 each besides paying reduced charges for certain procedures like x-ray. Activists in the oil-rich Gulf state condemned the move, and opposition lawyer and writer Mohammad Abdulqader Al-Jassem described it as “racial segregation” on Twitter.

Similar restrictions are in place at other government agencies such as the traffic department, which handles applications from Kuwaitis only in the morning. —AFP

[Comment from the tipster: News long-expected according to the local gossip. These are the same people who scream “discrimination”, “profiling” etc. when in the West. Now they introduce nacional AND relgious aparteid — because by law only a Muslim can become a Kuwaiti citizen. There are few Kuwaiti Christian families — a remnant of the “imperialism” when American missionaries built the first medical facility in Kuwait. Now the building of this “Amriki hospital” is a venue for exhibitions, events etc organized by the foundation… guess which? — Dar al Islam.]

[Return to headlines]

Lebanon’s Baalbeck Festival Announces Line-Up

Mideast’s most prestigious summer event

(ANSAMed) — BEIRUT, MAY 16 — This year’s Baalbeck International Festival will open on June 30 with a concert by Grammy Award-winning Renee Fleming. As almost every year since 1955, the Middle East’s most prestigious artistic and musical festival — which was halted only during the Lebanese civil war, 1970-90, and in 2006 due to the conflict between Israel and the Shiite movement Hezbollah — offers a programme packed with performing artists both homegrown and from the wider Arab world, alternating with foreign ones. This year, ANSAmed was told by Nayla de Freije, head of the festival’s organising committee, singers, actors, musicians and dancers have been invited who through their work seek out the origins of different cultures. “We went in search of cultural roots, for the rediscovery of heritage and to explore artistic contamination,” de Freijie said. Fleming’s June 30 opening concert will be held in the evocative Temple of Bacchus in the archaeological site of Baalbeck, known in the ancient world as Heliopolis or The City of the Sun. Capital of the Roman Empire’s colony in the Levant, for centuries it was traversed by traders and visited by those on pilgrimages to the sun god Baal. Baalbeck is, however, only a few dozen kilometres from Syria, where a bloody civil war is underway that threatens to spill over into Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. Baalbeck is also the capital of a region dominated by Shiites answering to Hezbollah, ally of the regime in Damascus. Hezbollah has sent thousands of its militants to fight alongside Assad’s regime to put down the armed uprising underway in Syria. Nevertheless, the festival’s organisers are optimistic and hope they will not be forced to cancel any of the six concerts scheduled. Among the foreign stars sharing the stage under the ancient pillars until late August are the twentieth-century rock icon Marianne Faithfull, jazz musician Elian Elias and the contemporary dance show PUZ/ZLE.

As part of the attempt to rediscover local musical and cultural roots, a new performance of the composer, oud player and poet Marcel Khalife’s verses will also be staged.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Qatar Provides Syrian Rebels With Weapons and Aid

(AGI) Rome — According to the Financial Times, Qatar has provided Syrian rebels with weapons and aid worth at least USD 3 billion ..

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

Russia Sends Warships, Missiles to Syria

Russia has sent more than a dozen war ships to patrol the waters near Syria, U.S. military spokesmen said on Friday.

The country also gave Syria supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, model P-800 Onika, United Press International reported. The message: Moscow is fully supportive of Syrian President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials believe.

Still, other U.S. officials are saying the missiles are actually headed to Hezbollah in Lebanon — realizing Israel’s greatest concern. More airstrikes from Israel could be on the way, military analysts say in the UPI report.

The high-tech missiles are upgraded versions of the Yakhont missiles that Russia has previously given Syria, UPI said.

The difference is the new ones have technologically advanced radar — and are more effective at hitting their targets. The upgraded missiles travel twice the speed of sound and are equipped with armor-piercing warheads, UPI said.

They have a range of about 180 miles, UPI reported.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Washington: Obama Talks to Erdogan, Against Shipping Weapons to the Rebels

As talks get underway with Moscow, the US president speaks with Turkey’s PM, Syrian rebels’ main ally. The two leaders discuss Syria’s democratic future and Assad’s necessary departure. Ankara voices doubts about a peace conference between rebels and regime backed by Moscow and Washington. After decades, Russian Pacific fleet warships enter the Mediterranean.

Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) — The meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Obama in Washington today confirms the middle-of-the-road position taken by the US leader, who is open to Russian concerns as well as eager to keep lines of communication open with Turkey, a NATO member and the anti-Assad alliance’s main ally.

The two leaders discussed the need for a democratic future in Syria, which can only come about once Bashar Al-Assad is out of office. Obama renewed his political support for the opposition, but called for limits on weapons shipment to the rebels from Turkey and the Gulf countries because they could strengthen Islamist forces on the ground.

US-Turkish talks come a few days after US Secretary of State John Kerry met his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, to discuss the Assad regime’s overtures to the Kofi Annan June 2012 six-point plan.

Obama administration officials said that the US president is taking a cautious approach even in relation to charges that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons, which could otherwise trigger US action in the Syrian conflict. For his part, the Turkish prime minister seems skeptical that the peace conference Washington is planning with Assad’s main ally Moscow will lead to reconciliation.

Meanwhile, warships from Russia’s Pacific Fleet have entered the Mediterranean for the first time in decades. The vessels left the Far-Eastern port city of Vladivostok in March to join Russia’s Mediterranean task force. The Mediterranean task force might be enlarged later to include nuclear submarines.

At present, the warships are heading to Cyprus but it is not clear what their final port of call is. A few months ago, Moscow announced plans to rebuild its naval base in the Mediterranean, in the Syrian port city of Tartus.

However, Moscow’s intentions are still hard to read after Western mainstream media reported that Russia had allegedly shipped anti-missile systems. This has overshadowed a meeting between Sergey Lavrov and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the Russian-US plan to bring the Syrian government and rebels to the negotiating table.

Responding to the allegations, Lavrov said that Russian supplies did not break any international rules, that Russia had signed a deal to supply Syria with Yakhont missiles in 2007, and that the weapons are designed to protect against air planes and did not benefit in any way Syria’s regular army.

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

Indonesia: After Six Months, Jakarta Commuter Rail Drops Women-Only Trains

The service was introduced to stop sexual violence and harassment on trains. However, it was only used during peak hours and ignored the rest of the day. Because of overcrowding, the rail company has had to pull the plug on the service to increase capacity.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) — After running the service for barely six months, Indonesia’s state railway company has had to cancel its women-only trains.

PT Kereta Api Indonesia launched seven brightly painted women-only trains in October 2012 as part of a plan to increase the safety of female passengers.

They were intended to stop incidents of sexual harassment in overcrowded mixed-gender commuter cars connecting Jakarta to areas outside the city.

However, the trains had only been popular with women during rush hour, and not at other times of the day, said PT Kereta Api spokeswoman Eva Chairunnisa, this despite the fact that all of their mixed-gender services are busy at all times.

For this reason, “To increase capacity, we decided to convert the women-only trains into regular ones,” Chairunnisa explained.

Overcrowding on Indonesian train services is a chronic problem so much so that many commuters choose to ride on train rooftops despite the risk. In fact, cases of passengers falling off rooftops or being electrocuted are daily occurrences.

In addition to women’s only carriages, the company introduced a number of deterrents to stop the practice, like special paint on train rooftops and concrete balls above train tracks. So far, they have not had any major success.

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

Indonesian President Named for Religious Freedom Prize. Anger and Indignation of Minorities

In late May in New York Yudhoyono will receive the World Statesman Award from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation (ACF). The recognition for the protection of minority rights and freedom of worship. Indonesian Jesuit: he has never done anything to protect the rights in a country at risk of Islamization.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Catholic leaders, civil society and prominent figures of science and faith in Indonesia are protesting against the choice of an American foundation to reward President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for the promotion of interreligious dialogue. Philosopher and Jesuit priest Fr. Franz Magnis Suseno has sent a letter to the Appeal of Conscience Foundation (ACF), based in New York, criticizing the choice to grant the World Statesman Award to the Indonesian head of state. There have been a series of protests and demonstrations against the award, which will be given to a politician who — in reality — has done very little to ensure interfaith harmony and protect minorities.

Fr. Suseno points out that “during the eight-and-a-half years of his presidency, Yudhoyono has never told Indonesians to respect minority rights. He obviously does nothing to protect minority groups.” As a result, he adds, it can be said that “no one has ever done anything concrete” to protect them. In the letter addressed to the leaders of the New York-based foundation, founded by Rabbi Arthur Schneier in 1965, he recalls the drama of hundreds of Shiites and Ahmadis expelled from their areas or killed because they were considered heretics in a nation that is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim.

The Jesuit priest also asks with concern “will Indonesia’s condition worsen and eventually become like Pakistan and Iraq, where Shiites are killed every month for religious motivations for sectarian reasons.” And finally he adds the daily problems experienced by Indonesian Christians, from obtaining building permits to build places of worship to small episodes and discrimination cases. “Intolerance — he concludes — is rooted in the depths” of society.

The award ceremony is scheduled for the end of May, although the associations for human rights and civil society members promise to continue the battle for its cancellation. On May 6 there was a demonstration in the streets of Jakarta, where the participants tried to deliver a “petition” to the U.S. Embassy calling for the withdrawal of approval. “We have been the subject of repeated violence — recalls the Shiite leader Emilia Az J. Rakhmat — I just can not understand how they can reward [Yudhoyono] “.

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

Italy: Grillo Puts Focus on Migrants in Extreme Social Situations

M5S leader asks how many more Kabobos are in Italy

(ANSA) — Rome, May 16 — Beppe Grillo, the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) on Thursday asked for more attention to be paid to immigrants living illegally and in extreme social conditions in Italy, making an explicit reference to the pickaxe attack last Saturday by a Ghanian living in Milan that left three dead. One of the three, pensioner Ermanno Masini, died from injuries in hospital on Tuesday from the attack by Mada ‘Adam’ Kabobo over the weekend. The other victims are Alessandro Carole, an unemployed 40-year-old man who died shortly after being attacked, and 21-year-old Daniele Carella who was declared brain dead on Monday.

“How many Kabobos are there in Italy? Hundreds? Thousands? Where do they live? No one knows”, Grillo said in an article on his blog. He cited another two similar cases, one involving a Portuguese citizen of Angolan origin, and another a man from Senegal.

The comedian-turned-politician said he would be campaigning in the northern Italian city of Treviso Thursday evening.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Godless UK: A Quarter of Britons Have No Religion With Christians Increasingly Likely to be Retired People

One in four people no longer believes in any religion, official analysis of national census returns found yesterday.

It revealed Christianity is in decline and Christians are increasingly likely to be older or retired people.

Many young people, young men in particular, appear to be rejecting religious belief altogether. Nearly one in three under-25s — 32 per cent — say they do not have a religion.

The rise of atheism has gathered pace in the decade since 2001, the census showed, a period when churches found themselves under pressure from equality laws and secular groups.

At the same time the UK’s second-biggest religion, Islam, frequently found itself on the defensive because of the actions of extremist groups.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pro-Life Groups Confirm: IRS Targeting Began in 2009

The list of categories included in the IRS’s effort to target conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status continues to widen. On Wednesday, the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based public interest law firm, announced that cases they handled “demonstrate the agency’s abuse of pro-life organizations in addition to those identified as ‘tea party’, ‘patriot’, or ‘government spending’ groups.”

Meanwhile, years of high-profile election involvement from the abortion advocacy group Planned Parenthood have gone unaddressed, including the group’s highly public campaigning against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the recall election of 2012.

Two cases the Thomas More Society handled are particularly egregious. In the case of the Coalition for Life of Iowa, approval of their application for tax-exempt status was withheld. In a June 6, 2009 phone call to the group’s leaders, an IRS agent identified as “Ms. Richards” allegedly told them to send a letter to the agency signed by the entire board “under perjury of the law” stating that they do not picket or protest, or organize other groups to picket or protest outside of any Planned Parenthood clinic. The agent said that when the IRS received that letter, they would grant approval of the group’s tax-exempt status.

the initial number of conservative groups targeted for extra scrutiny has expanded from 75 to nearly 500, that at least two other offices besides the one in Cincinnati were involved, and that the number of employees involved in Cincinnati has doubled from two to four—all of whom told Fox News “they simply did what their bosses ordered.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Gay Marriage Laws Are Fuelling a ‘Real Sense of Anger’ And We’re Wrong to Focus on it, Says Defence Secretary Philip Hammond

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond provoked the wrath of Downing Street last night by criticising David Cameron’s plans to legalise gay marriage.

In an outspoken intervention, Mr Hammond suggested the Prime Minister’s proposals had upset vast numbers of people and were a waste of time.

A senior Government source said Downing Street was ‘dismayed’ by the comments of the Right-winger, who some Tories believe is positioning himself for a leadership bid.


Mr Hammond told the BBC’s Question Time on Thursday that the plans had caused unnecessary offence to millions of voters.

The introduction of civil partnerships in 2005 had already ended the ‘real disadvantage’ that had faced gay couples, he said. ‘This change does redefine marriage — for millions and millions of people who are married, the meaning of marriage changes.

‘There is a real sense of anger among many people who are married that any government thinks it has the ability to change the definition of an institution like marriage. I have never felt this is what we should be focusing on.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Map Shows World’s ‘Most Racist’ Countries (And the Answers May Surprise You)

Britain is one of the most racially tolerant countries on the planet, a survey claims.

The global social attitudes study claims that the most racially intolerant populations are all in the developing world, with Bangladesh, Jordan and India in the top five.

By contrast, the study of 80 countries over three decades found Western countries were most accepting of other cultures with Britain, the U.S., Canada and Australia more tolerant than anywhere else.

The data came from the World Value Survey, which measured the social attitudes of people in different countries, as reported by the Washington Post.

The survey asked individuals what types of people they would refuse to live next to, and counted how many chose the option ‘people of a different race’ as a percentage for each country.

Researchers have suggested that societies where more people do not want neighbours from other races can be considered less racially tolerant.

The country with the highest proportion of ‘intolerant’ people who wanted neighbours similar to them was Hong Kong, where 71.8 per cent of the population would refuse to live next to someone of a different race.

Next were Bangladesh on 71.7 per cent, Jordan on 51.4 per cent and India with 43.5 per cent.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 5/17/2013

  1. This whole gay wedding thing is weird, why pick on one bit of the bible and shun the rest? there is an agenda here and I suspect the homosexuals are being used for political ends not in their interests at all!

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