Gates of Vienna News Feed 5/23/2013

During the fourth night of disturbances in the suburbs of Stockholm, rioting spread southwards from Husby, Kista, and other areas where it erupted earlier in the week. There were reports of riots in Malmö on Wednesday night.

In other news, a Syrian rebel commander says that when his group takes over the town of Al-Qusair, the Shiite and Alawite minorities will be totally exterminated.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Kitman, Papa Whiskey, Steen, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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

Financial Crisis
» Cyprus: Money Launderers Still Not Hung to Dry
» Inflationary Policies Threaten to Create Another Economic Bubble
» Italy: Government Must Cut Business Tax for Growth, Says Squinzi
» Little Hope for Greece’s Jobless Youth
» MPS Board Member Probed for Insider Trading
» Some Half of Jobless Italian Youth Would Sweep Streets
» Tax Burden on Italian Households Highest Since 1990
» The Kiss A$$ Ladder to Success — Part II
» UNICEF: Poverty Rising Among Children in Greece
» Weakness in Northern Industrial Base Shows Italy in Trouble
» Will it be Inflation or Deflation? The Answer May Surprise You
» Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid
» Cops Being Trained That Cell Phones Could be Guns
» Did Lois Lerner Waive Her Fifth Amendment Protection?
» How JFK Secretly Admired Hitler: Explosive Book Reveals Former President’s Praise for the Nazis as He Travelled Through Germany Before Second World War
» IRS’s Lois Lerner Pleads the Fifth
» Lois Lerner: Head of I.R.S. Dept. On Tax-Exempt Groups, Put on Leave
» Obama and NJ Governor Christie Touring Together Once Again
» Obama Signals Retreat in the Fight Against Terrorism
» Papers Please: TSA-Style Checkpoints at UK Bus & Train Stations
» Senator Lamar Alexander: Neo-Con Trotskyite, Part 1
» The Smart Meter Cost
» Trayvon Martin Cellphone Photos, School Records Released
» U.S. Power Grid Vulnerable to Enemy Attack, Lawmakers Say
» US Admits it Killed Four of Its Own Citizens in Drone Strikes
» Cold-Loving Bacteria Offer Clues for Life on Mars
Europe and the EU
» Afghanistan Comes to London
» British Soldier Killers Are of Nigerian Origin
» British Foreign Policy Has ‘Fed Hate’, Bukhari Tells Ansa
» France: Ministers’ Court Wants to Investigate Lagarde (IMF)
» Greece: Meeting Samaras-Miller Paves Way for DEPA Sale
» Grillo Says M5S May Drive for Referendum on EU Membership
» Italy: Letta Vows to Fight Money Laundering, Cooking the Books
» Italy: Napolitano Won’t Testify on Contents of Wiretaps, Says Court
» Italy: ILVA Owners Probed for Fraud and Funds Scam
» Italy: Statute of Limitations Scuppers Penati Corruption Case
» Murder of Soldier in Woolwich Was a ‘Betrayal of Islam’ Says Cameron as He Insists Britain Will Stand Resolute Against Terror
» Netherlands: European Olive Oil Rules Are ‘Bizarre’ Says Prime Minister
» Netherlands: The Man Who ‘Nearly Broke the Internet’
» Purity Concerns: German Beer Brewers Foaming Over Fracking
» Spain Replants After Centuries of Deforestation
» Sweden: Unrest in Stockholm
» Sweden: Stockholm Riots: A View From the Street in Husby
» Sweden: Stockholm Riots Spread South on Fourth Night
» The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall
» UK: Soldier Murder a ‘Betrayal of Islam’, Says David Cameron
» UK: Side by Side With Preacher of Hate?
» Woolwich Attack: Troops Advised Not to Wear Uniform Outside Bases
Middle East
» Alleged Al Qaeda in Spain Chief Abu Dahdah Released
» Iran’s Vote Worthless as Rafsanjani and Mashaei Are Out
» Kerry Complains About Hezbollah Fighters in Syria
» Stephanie Sinclair’s Best Photograph: Child Brides in Yemen
» Syria: Negotiate or US Stands With Rebels, Kerry Tells Assad
» Syrian Rebels Take Over Army Camp and Kill 40 Soldiers
» Syria Rebels Threaten to Wipe Out Shiite, Alawite Towns
» Turkey Invests Big in Nuclear Power
South Asia
» Afghan University Students Protest Against Women’s Rights
Far East
» Greek Shipowners Choose Chinese Shipyards
» Japan’s Regional Isolation Higher Than Ever
» NGOs Work to Save Asia’s Drowning Children
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Development Aid: €3bn Earmarked to Rebuild Mali
» “It Will be Easier to Become a Dane”
» Amnesty International: Refugees, Migrants Face Rights Challenges
» Amnesty International: Report Slams European Asylum Policies
» Amnesty Bill Start Up Costs: Blackmailers Start at $6.6 Billion for 2013
» Amnesty Bill Swiftly Gains Senate Approval While America Focuses on “Scandals”
» Italian Ferry Boat Rescues 17 Migrants Lost at Sea
» Mixed Results for Sweden Refugee Job Push
» Netherlands: Helping an Illegal Immigrant Not a Criminal Offence, Says Minister
Culture Wars
» Amnesty: EU States Guilty of Racism, Homophobia
» Boy Scouts of America Vote to Admit Openly Gay Youths
» Support the March of Sodomy — Or Else

Cyprus: Money Launderers Still Not Hung to Dry

High risks of money laundering, errors in bank records, missing identity checks and obscure customer records are all rampant in Cyprus’s banking sector, according to a leaked EU report that could trouble the conditions of the country’s €2bn taxpayer-funded bailout package.

At the request of eurozone finance ministers, EU monitoring body Moneyval and US accountancy firm Deloitte investigated the activities of six Cypriot banks and their biggest clients and drew up the report in April.

A leaked version of the report’s summary, published over the weekend by Cypriot website Stockwatch, shows 58 per cent of one bank’s clients pose a “high risk” of money laundering and almost a third of all bank depositors’ records contain errors.

Other findings suggest that file information on 27 per cent of depositors and 11 per cent of borrowers displayed “inaccurate information on the customer and beneficial owner”, that identities of customers were unclear in up to 75 per cent of international business cases, and that proper ID checks on “complex” structures were carried out in only 9 per cent of all cases.

EUObserver questions whether Cypriot banks are effectively monitoring their own clients, since the banks launched just four internal probes on potential money laundering […] between 2008 and 2012. They reported zero ‘suspicious transactions’ to Cypriot authorities in 2008 to 2010, one in 2011 and ‘a few’ in 2012. But Deloitte identified 29 of them in the last 12 months alone.

The site says the report “gives the lie to Cypriot diplomats and politicians who have been telling media in recent months the island adheres to international standards” and also suggests a potential problem for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who vowed to clean up Cyprus as German MPs approved the EU bailout package.

EUObserver quotes an unnamed diplomat looking ahead to September’s elections: “If German people saw the report, they might say: ‘I would not give my money to such a country.’“

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Inflationary Policies Threaten to Create Another Economic Bubble

Andy Xie argues asset inflation is being pumped up in order to stimulate a stagnating global economy and help the unemployed, when in fact such policies benefit neither

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) — Five years after Lehman Brothers went bust, the global economy remains in stagnation. But you wouldn’t notice it if you are in the stock market. The US market is hitting all-time highs. The Japanese market has risen by half in five months. And while Europe’s economies are in recession, the shares of its top companies are highly elevated too. Shouldn’t stock prices reflect or predict the economy? Don’t count on it. The dichotomy shows how ill economic management has become.

In the name of stimulating the economy and creating jobs, today’s macro policies mainly cook up asset inflation to benefit a few, which may trickle down to the unemployed through the so-called wealth effect. Unfortunately, few crumbs reach the bottom.

Pumping cheap money in through asset markets only benefits those people who can borrow

The US Federal Reserve claims that its policy has helped create two million jobs; that’s less than US$100 billion in income per annum. But one-third of the stock market valuation, over US$6 trillion, can be attributed to the Fed’s policy. The decline in interest rates may account for one-fifth of the corporate earnings. Instead of investing more to create jobs, the big companies have borrowed to buy back shares or pay dividends. Unless you are a shareholder, the Fed’s policy doesn’t benefit you much. The unemployed are, of course, least likely to be shareholders.

The Bank of Japan is learning from the Fed about boosting asset prices by printing money to buy whatever it wants to lift. Japan doesn’t even have an unemployment problem. It believes that asset inflation will lead to sustainable economic growth, ignoring that Japan’s main economic problems are its declining population (falling by around one million per year) and that its leading companies such as Sony and Sharp are no longer relevant to today’s world. Euphoria over the bubbly asset prices is giving instant credibility to the Bank of Japan’s policy. If asset inflation were the solution, Japan wouldn’t have suffered for the past two decades. Didn’t people blame the prolonged stagnation on its asset bubble then? A decade ago, even the then Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan, blushed to explain the logic of asset inflation leading to economic growth. Bubble-making was then considered wrong. Now what the Fed is doing is widely praised. And the Bank of Japan has earned much kudos for copying it. Didn’t the bursting of the Greenspan bubble lead the world into this mess? When people are in pain for too long, they begin to believe in quick remedies. Current Fed chief Ben Bernanke is being praised for doing what Greenspan was cursed for. It will take another bubble burst for people to see through this.

Capitalism is about market forces or the profit motive allocating capital, not governments or inherited power. In the real world, though, it never works exactly that way. It is often more profitable to subvert market forces rather then embrace them. Robber baron capitalism is one manifestation. John D. Rockefeller acquired his wealth mainly through creating and enforcing a monopoly. No one could be so rich in a perfectly competitive environment. Since antitrust laws were introduced in the developed economies, no one has become as rich as the robber barons a century ago.

Most emerging economies remain emerging because they practise crony capitalism. If undocumented wealth is included, the richest people in the world are really from emerging economies, not people like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. Bad systems, not a lack of money, is the reason poor economies remain poor. If an emerging economy wants to develop, it must replace crony capitalism with the rule of law. But that, of course, won’t please the rich people there.

Monetary activism is a new factor that has subverted the market economy in the past quarter of a century. In the name of stimulating an economy in a downturn, to benefit the unemployed, a government cuts interest rates and pumps in liquidity, which inflates asset bubbles. Greenspan did it to the stock market in the 1990s and then the property market. When a bubble bursts, more stimulus is called for, again in the name of helping the unemployed.

The current debate on stimulus versus austerity misses the point. Neither really helps the people most in need. If central banks really want to help people through monetary policy, they should print money and distribute it equally. If monetary policy works, giving it to the people should be most effective.

Pumping cheap money in through asset markets only benefits those people who can borrow. Through such bubble cycles, wealth becomes more concentrated among those who gamble with debt. Maybe it is intended. Central banks seem too close to the people who gamble with borrowed money. Just check out the glitzy financial talk shops. Greenspan-style monetary policy is really a new form of crony capitalism. It rewards a special class of people who borrow cheap money to gamble. When it goes wrong, the bubble bursts. Another round of cheaper money follows. Hence, those with access can always double up. With so much wealth concentrated in finance, the central banks can even justify making policy for them. Otherwise, they may bring down the house.

Bubbles are really a redistribution game. As money becomes cheaper and cheaper, inflation is inevitable. Even though reported consumer price indices are not yet high, check out education, health care and housing. The biggest expenditure items are not in the CPI basket and are rapidly inflating. The little people are hurt most from such inflation. Their suffering then subsidises those who borrow cheap money to bet on asset bubbles.

Crony capitalism is associated with backwardness, and for a good reason. When profits go to those with power, not productivity, economic progress is slow. As the developed economies embrace bubble economics and crony monetary policy, they may join the ranks of emerging economies. The world may become more equal after all, with the top falling down.

Andy Xie is an independent economist

His article was originally published on 21 May 2013 in the South China Morning Post

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

Italy: Government Must Cut Business Tax for Growth, Says Squinzi

Confindustria praises government’s freeze on IMU property tax

(ANSA) — Rome, May 23 — Cutting business taxes is essential to encouraging Italy’s economic growth, the head of the country’s powerful industrial confederation said Thursday. The government’s recent decision to suspend the unpopular IMU property tax was a good start, but more is needed, said Giorgio Squinzi, head of Confindustria.

“We appreciate the commitment that the government has taken with the IMU decree, (and we) ask for a tax to support those who create and distribute wealth, transparent and respectful of the rights of citizens and businesses,” he said.

Speaking to the group’s annual meeting, Squinzi also called on Premier Enrico Letta’s government to slash other business taxes, including social security contributions.

He particularly singled out the regional tax on productive activities (IRAP) for reform.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Little Hope for Greece’s Jobless Youth

Nearly two-thirds of young Greeks are currently jobless. The unemployment rate in the country has reached a record 27 percent. Experts are warning of dramatic consequences for Greek society.

Before Europe’s debt crisis set in, young Greeks complained of poorly-paid jobs and described themselves as the “1,000-euro generation.” Today, a situation like that would be paradise — currently more than 60 percent of young people have no jobs at all, and analysts and unions are warning of grave social consequences.

“A whole generation of well-educated young people feel like they’ve simply been set aside, especially because many of them are long-term unemployed,” says Ilias Katsoulis, professor of sociology and political sciences at Athens University. He thinks that society could face serious problems. “In a crisis, our society needs these people especially,” he says. “But society hardly offers them any opportunities to use their qualifications, and that makes the crisis worse.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

MPS Board Member Probed for Insider Trading

Investigations widen into wrongdoing at troubled Siena bank

(ANSA) — Siena, May 22 — A board member of the troubled Monte dei Paschi (MPS) bank was suspended Wednesday amidst an investigation into allegations of insider trading.

A magistrate in the MPS bank’s hometown of Siena ordered the two-month suspension of lawyer Michele Briamonte, who advises a bank which is already dealing with numerous legal problems of its own.

According to the indictment, Briamonte leaked sensitive information from confidential board meetings.

His suspension order, which can be extended, is only the latest in a long series of investigations and scandals at MPS, the world’s oldest bank.

It has been mired in massive financial losses and allegations of fraud that broke open in January. Senior officials from MPS are facing penalties totalling as much as five million euros from the Bank of Italy for alleged fraud and corruption.

The investigation into Briamonte has been going on for some time. On March 5, authorities raided his home and offices after complaints were made to the chief executive officer of MPS, Fabrizio Viola, authorities said. Phone records and other information link Briamonte with other MPS associates including David Rossi, the former head of communications for MPS who committed suicide on March 6.

MPS, Italy’s third-largest lender, has been mired in scandal and controversy since it revealed massive losses of more than three billion euros for last year. That required a controversial government bailout worth four billion euros, which new management at the bank has pledged to repay.

At the same time, a major fraud probe was revealed in January that is connected with a shady derivatives operations.

It has since emerged that a previously undisclosed series of derivative and structured-finance deals produced losses of around 720 million euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Some Half of Jobless Italian Youth Would Sweep Streets

Report says young willing to sacrifice to work

(ANSA) — Rome, May 21 — Some 49% of young unemployed Italians looking for work would be willing to take jobs as street sweepers, a report by the Coldiretti farmers’ association said on Tuesday.

The survey ‘Youth in Crisis’, compiled together with the Trieste-based SWG polling agency, found that the percentage dropped for those already employed, yet 32% still said that they would accept a job as a street cleaner and 34% would work for as couriers.

More than four out of 10 unemployed young people (43%) would be willing to accept a job paying 500 Euros per month, while 39% would be willing to work overtime without extra compensation. “The analysis shows a strong spirit of sacrifice among the country’s youth that leads them to give up basic workers’ rights,” Coldiretti President Sergio Marini said.

“This is something that we cannot allow in a civil society like Italy,” Marini said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Tax Burden on Italian Households Highest Since 1990

Increase 16.1% in 2012

(ANSA) — Rome, May 22 — The tax burden on households in recession-hit Italy climbed to its highest level since 1990 last year, Istat said in its annual report on Wednesday.

The national statistics agency said the burden climbed 16.1% following a series of hikes and new taxes introduced in 2012 by former premier Mario Monti’s technocrat government to steer Italy out of the centre of the eurozone crisis.

It said this took the percentage of the average family’s disposable income that went on taxes and social security contributions up to 30.3% in 2012, compared to 29.4% in 2011.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Kiss A$$ Ladder to Success — Part II

The World Bank stands — much like a traffic cop — at numerous world intersections directing traffic — money traffic. It has 188 member nations and shares with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) a Board of Governors. Each organization has a resident board of 24 directors: seven are appointed by seven countries with the largest economies, 17 directors are appointed by constituencies of the remaining member countries. In the past ten years, the World Bank financed over $1.6 billion in contracts from US exporters.

For those who have wondered what’s causing the gold and silver markets to fall like rocks, one cause may well be (probably is) a looming currency war caused (at least partially) by corruption at the World Bank. “It has unsettled the precious metals markets,” says Hudes. She warned of it long ago:

“I worked in the Legal Department of the World Bank from 1996-2007. But in 2007, I was fired in retaliation for reporting corruption up the chain of command at the World Bank, through the US Treasury Department, and to the US Congress,” Hudes says.

“My report was quite specific, namely: that the World Bank is out of compliance with the law, because its financial statements to the holders of its $135 billion in bonds, which are denominated in 52 currencies, are not in accord with Generally Acceptable Accounting Principles and Auditing Standards.”

Let’s see, 2007; Karen’s report would have gone to Timothy Geithner… obviously a staunch supporter of ridding the world of banking of corruption (smile).

[Comment: Very informative article, a MUST READ for Americans.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UNICEF: Poverty Rising Among Children in Greece

322,000 children live without basic requirements

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — A growing number of children in Greece are living below the poverty line or deprived of basic living requirements, according to a report carried out jointly by UNICEF and Athens University and titled ‘The state of children in Greece’ whose results were made public at a press conference on Wednesday. The proportion of children in Greece living in poverty or social exclusion rose 9.2% in 2011 to reach 30.4%, or 597,000 children, according to the report.

Meanwhile, 322,000 children live without basic requirements such as food, transport, clothing and education, according to the report. “The situation is very worrying” said UNICEF Greece President Lambros Kanellopoulos as daily Kathimerini reports.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Weakness in Northern Industrial Base Shows Italy in Trouble

Squinzi calls on Premier Letta’s government to boost growth

(ANSA) — Rome, May 23 — Weakness in Italy’s northern industrial base is a strong indicator of how poorly the national economy is faring, the head of Confindustria, Italy’s powerful industrial confederation, said Thursday.

“The north is on the brink of an abyss….that would drag our country back a half-century,” Giorgio Squinzi said during the annual meeting of his organization.

That weakness developing in what has traditionally been the country’s economic and industrial base is a clear sign that the government of Premier Enrico Letta must develop strong policies to boost growth, said Squinzi.

Italy is now stuck in its longest recession on record with seven straight quarterly drops in gross domestic product (GDP) amid rising costs and unemployment.

Last week, national statistics agency Istat reported that GDP fell 0.5% in the first three months of 2013.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Will it be Inflation or Deflation? The Answer May Surprise You

Is the coming financial collapse going to be inflationary or deflationary? Are we headed for rampant inflation or crippling deflation? This is a subject that is hotly debated by economists all over the country. Some insist that the wild money printing that the Federal Reserve is doing combined with out of control government spending will eventually result in hyperinflation. Others point to all of the deflationary factors in our economy and argue that we will experience tremendous deflation when the bubble economy that we are currently living in bursts.

So what is the truth? Well, for the reasons listed below, I believe that we will see both. The next major financial panic will cause a substantial deflationary wave first, and after that we will see unprecedented inflation as the central bankers and our politicians respond to the financial crisis. This will happen so quickly that many will get “financial whiplash” as they try to figure out what to do with their money. We are moving toward a time of extreme financial instability, and different strategies will be called for at different times.

So why will we see deflation first? The following are some of the major deflationary forces that are affecting our economy right now…

The Velocity Of Money Is At A 50 Year Low

The rate at which money circulates in our economy is the lowest that it has been in more than 50 years. It has been steadily falling since the late 1990s, and this is a clear sign that economic activity is slowing down.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid

We are looking into a tyrannical abyss and it is time to be afraid, be very afraid

On May 21st, Kirsten Powers, writing in the Daily, borrowed from words of pastor Martin Niemoller, a German who witnessed their rise to power and who framed the manner in which the Nazis targeted, jailed and killed all those they deemed enemies of the state.

His poem, “First they came” was echoed by Powers who wrote “First they came for Fox News, and they did not speak out — because they were not Fox News. Then they came for government whistleblowers, and they did not speak out — because they were not government whistleblowers. Then they came for the maker of a YouTube video, and — okay we know how this story ends. But how did we get here?” The “we” to whom she referred are the nation’s journalists.

“Turns out,” said Powers, “it’s a fairly swift sojourn from a president pushing to ‘delegitimize’ a news organization to threatening criminal prosecution for journalistic activity by a Fox News reporter, James Rosen, to spying on Associated Press reporters.”

“Where were the media when all this began happening?” asked Powers. “With a few exceptions, they were acting as quiet enablers.”

This is what I and many other conservative observers and analysts of the President and his administration have been saying since 2009 and earlier. “These series of ‘warnings’ to the Fourth Estate,” said Powers, “were what you might expect to hear from some third-rate dictator, not from the senior staff of Home and Change, Inc.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Cops Being Trained That Cell Phones Could be Guns

New tactic attempts to limit YouTube clips of police brutality

As a result of the numerous legal cases that have proven recording police officers is not a crime, authorities are getting more creative in attempting to stop abuse by law enforcement offices ending up as a viral video on YouTube.

In the clip above, Detective Shannon Todd of the Newark Police Gang Unit approaches a man who is recording a police stop on his cell phone, ordering him to, “put your phone down, put it in your pocket.”

Despite acknowledging that the device is a phone, when the man refuses to follow the unlawful order, Todd remarks, “I need to hold on to it,” before stating, “May I look at it and inspect it to ensure it’s not a firearm.”

“The truth is, she feared being the victim of a viral Youtube video instead of a fatal bullet, which is why she ordered the citizen to place his hands behind his back,” writes Carlos Miller.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Did Lois Lerner Waive Her Fifth Amendment Protection?

William Taylor III, the lawyer Lois Lerner selected to represent her before the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, is part of a firm that’s about as tight with the Obama administration as it could be. According to Washingtonian Magazine, the firm, a boutique litigation shop called Zuckerman Spaeder, has sent a higher percentage of partners into the Obama administration than any other law firm.

But did Lerner’s lawyer do her a disservice today by having her make an opening statement in which she denied all wrongdoing? Rep. Trey Gowdy certainly thought so. He argued that, by denying any wrongdoing, Lerner waived her right to assert the Fifth Amendment. The theory is that a witness cannot affirmatively assert her innocence and then dodge examination about that assertion through a privilege claim.

Committee chairman Issa says he’s looking into the question of whether Lerner’s assertion of her innocence, coupled with her authentication of certain documents, constitutes a waiver. If Issa and committee counsel conclude that it does, he presumably will recall Lerner as a witness.

But Lerner’s denial of guilt was extremely general. It involved no statements about specific facts. In that sense, it seemed more analogous to a plea of “not guilty” (though there are no pleas at a congressional committee hearing) than to substantive testimony.

Does this mean that she didn’t waive the Fifth Amendment after all? To me, it seems like a close question…


[It’s a cliff-hanger; Read The Rest]

[Return to headlines]

How JFK Secretly Admired Hitler: Explosive Book Reveals Former President’s Praise for the Nazis as He Travelled Through Germany Before Second World War

A new book out in Germany reveals how President Kennedy was a secret admirer of the Nazis.

The news comes embarrassingly close to a visit being paid to Berlin next month by President Obama — one week before 50th anniversary commemorations of JFK’s memorable ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech pledging US solidarity with Europe during the Cold War.

President Kennedy’s travelogues and letters chronicling his wanderings through Germany before WWII, when Adolf Hitler was in power, have been unearthed and show him generally in favour of the movement that was to plunge the world into the greatest war in history.

‘Fascism?’ wrote the youthful president-to-be in one. ‘The right thing for Germany.’

In another; ‘What are the evils of fascism compared to communism?’

And on August 21, 1937 — two years before the war that would claim 50 million lives broke out — he wrote: ‘The Germans really are too good — therefore people have ganged up on them to protect themselves.’

And in a line which seems directly plugged into the racial superiority line plugged by the Third Reich he wrote after travelling through the Rhineland: ‘The Nordic races certainly seem to be superior to the Romans.’

The future president’s praise is now embarrassing in hindsight — a few years later he fought in War War Two against the Nazis and his elder brother Lt. Joseph Patrick ‘Joe’ Kennedy, Jr was killed…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

IRS’s Lois Lerner Pleads the Fifth

Prior to the beginning of yesterday’s hearings, the Fox News division located in Cincinnati, the alleged epicenter of the scandal, revealed that the IRS’s claim that the scandal is limited to low-level employees “is falling apart.” They obtained an IRS directory that explains the agency’s chain of command, noting that each of the six Cincinnati agents involved — Mitchel Steele, Carly Young, Joseph Herr, Stephen Seok, Liz Hofacre and a woman identified only as Ms. Richards — has both a different manager and, further up the chain, a different territory manager. The purpose of the chain is to prevent rogue agents from acting on their own.

Fox further reveals that a tax-exempt application must be processed within 270 days, or it triggers a system flag, requiring individual agents to maintain monthly status updates on cases until they are resolved. Because more than 300 groups were targeted through the Cincinnati office alone, over a period of 18 months to three years, thousands of flags would have been triggered. According to the IRS directory, a single IRS employee in Cincinnati, Cindy Thomas, the Program Manager of the Tax Exempt Division, would have received all of the flags.

This is where the chain of command gets critical. Only four people are above Thomas: Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, who was “fired” despite the reality he was retiring next month; Joseph Grant, Commissioner of Tax Exempt and Government Entities who has also retired; Lois Lerner, who has invoked her Fifth Amendment privileges; and Holly Paz, Director of Exempt Organizations who was interviewed by the Committee on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Lois Lerner: Head of I.R.S. Dept. On Tax-Exempt Groups, Put on Leave

Lois Lerner, the head of the Internal Revenue Service’s division on exempt organizations, was put on administrative leave Thursday, a day after she invoked the fifth amendment to the Constitution and declined to testify before a House committee investigating her division’s targeting of conservative groups.

Ms. Lerner has been under severe pressure since May 10, when she delivered an awkward apology to Tea Party and other conservative groups whose applications for 501(c)(4) tax exemptions had been singled out for special scrutiny.

At that time, she said she learned of the targeting in 2012, when Tea Party groups publicly accused the I.R.S. of mistreatment. But a Treasury inspector general’s audit released days later appeared to make it clear that she knew of the effort well before then and had tried to reshape it. Lawmakers from both parties publicly accused her of lying to them.

[Return to headlines]

Obama and NJ Governor Christie Touring Together Once Again

President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are getting back together for another tour of the Jersey Shore.

Obama will travel to New Jersey on Tuesday to inspect the Shore’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy, a White House official said Thursday.

While in New Jersey, Obama will deliver remarks about “expanding economic opportunity for middle class families who were hard hit by the storm” and meet with residents who have benefited from the federal recovery efforts.

(WATCH: Chris Christie heaps praise on Obama)

The trip will be Obama’s first since Sandy interrupted the presidential campaign last October. Then, Obama and Christie viewed the state’s damaged shoreline by helicopter and visited with residents whose homes had been damaged.

This trip comes at a fortuitous time for both Obama and Christie. Obama will be highlighting one of his administration’s successes and trying to change the subject from the scandals of recent weeks as the nation returns from the Memorial Day weekend.

Christie, whose post-Sandy actions sent his approval ratings skyrocketing, is in the midst of a re-election campaign against a little funded Democrat. Having Obama heap praise on him can only help in heavily Democratic New Jersey.

[ed NOTE: Does anyone else see this Abbot & Costello routine as a prologue to Christie liberating his inner Democrat for the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary? Will he lose that 150 poounds or so from his lapband surgery and release his inner Democrat who’d had been hiding under all that adipose tissue?]

[Return to headlines]

Obama Signals Retreat in the Fight Against Terrorism

President Obama delivered an address today at the National Defense University called “The Future of our Fight Against Terrorism.” Actually, part of the speech was about the past, including much self-congratulation and some shots at President Bush.

This part of the speech is revisionist rubbish. As Max Boot explains:

Obama said, for example, that after he came into office, “we unequivocally banned torture, affirmed our commitment to civilian courts, worked to align our policies with the rule of law, and expanded our consultations with Congress.” Umm, actually all of that happened in Bush’s second term.

He also took a swipe at the admittedly imperfect terminology favored by Bush (deliberately and understandably formulated to avoid any mention of our actual enemy—Islamist extremists), saying “we must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror’ — but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.” Actually, that’s exactly what GWOT meant when used by the Bush administration: “a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle” terrorist networks. Even Obama’s closing line—”That’s who the American people are. Determined, and not to be messed with”—sounds as if it could easily have been delivered in a Texas twang.

As for the future of the fight against terrorism, Obama declared: “We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us.”

This is dangerous rubbish. The fight against terrorism is defined by what terrorists attempt to accomplish. Thus, as much as we’d like to, we cannot “define the nature and scope of this struggle.” If we wish to fight terrorism successfully, we must be prepared to combat it in all of its forms, with special focus on the terrorists’ methods of choice, which are always evolving…


[Ed. Note: An important essay. READ THE WHOLE THING]

[Return to headlines]

Papers Please: TSA-Style Checkpoints at UK Bus & Train Stations

Travel by train, tram or bus to destinations in central England and you are increasingly likely to be greeted by Britain’s ‘yellowjackets’: the high-visibility uniforms of Britain’s police force.

‘Airport-style’ security checkpoints are being rolled out at local bus and train stations up and down the UK after local pilot schemes conducted over the last two years were deemed a success by police.

The checkpoints comprise metal detector arches, drug-sniffing dogs , police pat-downs and bag searches. The reason? To “help people who use public transport feel safer.”

Leaving aside the obvious injustice of stopping and searching everybody ‘just in case’ one or two people turn out to be guilty of some wrongdoing, these indiscriminate fishing expeditions are neither an effective way to ‘catch criminals’ nor to ‘keep us safe’…

The following line from a well known novel accurately describes policing in Britain today:

“For distances of less than 100 kilometres it was not necessary to get your passport endorsed, but sometimes there were patrols hanging about the railway stations, who examined the papers of any Party member they found there and asked awkward questions.” (George Orwell — Nineteen Eighty-Four).

The truth is that these police operations aim to condition the public to accept, submit and grow accustomed to what is essentially an unlawful stop and search.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Senator Lamar Alexander: Neo-Con Trotskyite, Part 1

“It is a known fact that the policies of the government today, whether Republican or Democrat are closer to the 1932 platform of the Communist Party than they are to either of their own party platforms in that critical year.” — Walter Trohan (1903-2003) Chicago Tribune reporter (1929-1972) and bureau chief in Washington, D.C. Source: CHICAGO TRIBUNE, October 5, 1970, (Look at us 81 years later!)

Senator Lamar Alexander has been a thorn in Tennessee’s side since 1979. He is not a conservative Republican. In fact, truth be known, he has sided with Obama over 62% of the time. [Link] Right now he is acting as the bagman for his buddy, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, and his great desire to tax the internet and put more small businesses out-of-business.

First though, let’s look at Lamar’s history…

Alexander worked as a legislative assistant to GOP sellout Senator Howard Baker, (Link). In 1982, for no apparent reason, but to go along and get along, then-Republican Senate MAJORITY Leader, and CFR member, Howard Baker, entered into an agreement with the Ku Klux Klansman from West Virginia, (Democrat Senator Robert Byrd). This agreement effectively barred Republicans from pursuing suspected cases of voter fraud without first getting a federal court’s approval. Thus, the reason why the GOP won’t challenge vote fraud, and we saw plenty of it in 2012!

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Smart Meter Cost

The Smart Meter is a propaganda device to benefit utility companies, the electronic industry, and the global government.

Because Smart Meters operate like a cell phone, they can connect to any type of wireless devices with a built-in Wi-Fi capacity such as washing machines, computers, ovens, TVs, stereos, gym equipment, medical devices, or any other appliance. Such an interactive system is called HAN (Home-Area Network). It is conceivable that in the next five years all new appliances could have RF capability.

A HAN can be connected to a home energy management system that can program anything to turn on or turn off based on total energy consumption and pricing schemes. GE, at the forefront of this helpful technology/invasion of privacy/spying/snooping developed Nucleus for its Brillion line of appliances that can be connected to a HAN.

Utilities can sell your home’s data to a third party and any potential hackers can capture the same with a hand-held device in the race for profits or other nefarious uses. The “complex skilled labor” needed to secure the Smart Grid from hackers and staying ahead will cost additional tens of billions of dollars, passed on to consumers in higher electric bills…

How expensive and accurate are the old meters? The general manager for a rural electric co-op covering five counties explained to me that contract meter readers on foot get paid approximately 80 cents to read an old, traditional meter, for a total of $10 per year. And they are using their own cars and gas. We can assume less cost in urban areas due to the proximity of meters. “Electromechanical meters installed in the late 1940s are still functioning and are accurate. Most have zero maintenance. Power companies are selling electromechanical meters for $2 each, which are nearly new, because they are surplus equipment to the power companies switching to smart meters.”

On the other hand, the average life of a smart meter is about 10 years or less due to baking in the sun, exposure to the elements and to the overheating of the meter itself. The electronic displays are the most common part to fail. A laptop computer can read the count sometimes; otherwise the reading is estimated in order to preset it on the replaced meter. The cheapest smart meter cost $135 per unit, plus the installation cost of at least $30 per hour, a car, electrical training, equipment training and other materials, pension, and healthcare benefits.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Trayvon Martin Cellphone Photos, School Records Released

Zimmerman’s legal team released new evidence Thursday pulled from 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s cellphone,

Some of the texts retrieved from the cellphone appear to show the teen was talking to someone about selling a firearm.

“I think that gun purchase and gun possession by an underage person is an indication that they may be a tendency toward violence,” said O’Mara.

Other texts show Martin talked about fighting and even about being suspended after his teacher accused him of hitting someone.

One texting sequence shows how Martin said he fought with someone who “snitched” on him and after a friend warns him he’ll be suspended again, Martin responds, “I’m not done wit fool,” and, “He aint breed nuff 4 me, only his nose.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

U.S. Power Grid Vulnerable to Enemy Attack, Lawmakers Say

Several major U.S. utilities are under “constant” cyberattack and haven’t taken precautions to protect critical systems from Iran, North Korea and other adversaries, according to a congressional survey of more than 100 companies accounting for much of the nation’s power system.

The survey shows the nation’s electrical grid remains “highly vulnerable” to attack after four years of failed efforts to pass major cyber-security legislation, according to an accompanying report. Industry trade groups, including the Edison Electric Institute, joined by Republicans in the Senate, opposed the bill, arguing minimum cyber-security standards would be out-of-date by the time they were implemented.

“Our enemies have the motive, the means, and the capacity to attack our grid with potentially catastrophic consequences,” Representative Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who co-wrote the report released yesterday, said in an e-mail. “The question is whether the utilities have the same determination to protect our country against these threats.”

Power utilities are part of a core of critical infrastructure that U.S. intelligence agencies are warning may be targets of aggressive cyberattacks designed to cloak the East Coast in darkness or shut off the sewers in New York City during a future conflict.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

US Admits it Killed Four of Its Own Citizens in Drone Strikes

The Obama administration has acknowledged that it has killed four of its own citizens in drone strikes since 2009. The targeted killing of a US citizen in 2011 caused major controversy in the US.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured) said the US targeted and killed one US citizen and killed three others, all in drone strikes.

The citizen targeted was Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim cleric, who was killed in a September 2011 strike in Yemen. The three other citizens were Samir Khan, killed in the same strike as al-Awlaki, al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman, who was killed in Yemen two weeks later. The fourth, and newly revealed case, is that of Jude Kenan Mohammed, who was killed during a strike in Pakistan. Mohammed, from North Carolina, had been indicted on US terrorism charges in 2009 but fled the country.

Holder said that other than al-Awlaki, the citizens killed were not targeted.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Cold-Loving Bacteria Offer Clues for Life on Mars

A microbe discovered in the Canadian high Arctic thrives at the coldest temperature known for bacterial growth.

Researchers found the newly discovered bacterium, Planococcus halocryophilus OR1, in permafrost — permanently frozen ground — on Ellesmere Island. The organism thrives at 5 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 15 degrees Celsius), and holds clues to adaptations that might be necessary for life on Mars or Saturn’s moon Enceladus, where temperatures are well below freezing.

The microbe lives inside veins of salty water, and can survive because the salt prevents the water in the veins from freezing, study leader Lyle Whyte of McGill University in Montreal said in a statement. The bacterium can remain active and breathing at temperatures down to at least minus 13 degrees F (minus 25 degrees C) in permafrost, Whyte said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Afghanistan Comes to London

There is no need to go fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. Not when they are already living in London in public housing.

After telling the story of Mohammed’s boast that he would make the mountain come to him, only to be forced to go to it, Francis Bacon observed, “If the mountains will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain.”

Americans, Englishmen, Frenchmen and countless others went to the Muslim world hoping to turn it into another Boston, another London and another Paris. Instead Boston, London and Paris are turning into another Kabul, another Islamabad and another Mogadishu. Mohammed has come to the mountain.

Five years ago, the sight of Muslim terrorists beheading British soldiers was a horror that could happen in Afghanistan or Iraq. Now it has happened in broad daylight in the capital of the United Kingdom.

In a decade, 600,000 white Londoners have fled the city. Those are the sorts of numbers you would expect from the Syrian civil war. Their place has been taken by the million Muslims occupying the city.


80 percent of Somalis in the UK live in public housing. They have the lowest employment rate of every immigrant group in the country. And within four years, they had managed to rack up over ten thousand arrests. Every effort to integrate them has failed. Rather than the Somalis becoming British, shards of Britain have become little Mogadishus.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

British Soldier Killers Are of Nigerian Origin

(AGI) London — The two Islamic extremists who killed a soldier in London are British citizens of Nigerian origin .

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

British Foreign Policy Has ‘Fed Hate’, Bukhari Tells Ansa

UK Muslim leader says attack ‘shocking’ but ‘inevitable’

(ANSA) — London, May 23 — A Muslim community leader in Britain called the brutal murder of a soldier on a London street “shocking” and “condemnable,” but also “inevitable” due to the country’s involvement in foreign conflicts like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Asghar Bukhari, leader of the UK Muslim Public Affairs Committee, told ANSA on Thursday that “these wars feed the hate of some groups”, while at the same time, the Islamic community has failed to “instill certain principles in present-day youth”.

Wednesday’s meat-cleaver attack on a member of the UK armed forces, 25-year-old Lee Rigby, happened in broad daylight in front of dozens of passersby.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

France: Ministers’ Court Wants to Investigate Lagarde (IMF)

Audition tomorrow for her role in Tapie arbitration

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, MAY 22 — France’s court of justice — the tribunal of French ministers — is about to decide whether to open an investigation on Christine Lagarde, director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 2011, sources close to the probe said Wednesday. A former Economy and Finance minister under Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 and 2011, Lagarde is involved in an investigation on false statements and embezzlement of public funds in connection with the controversial arbitration in favour of Bernard Tapie.

Lagarde is involved for her role in the arbitration in which businessman Bernard Tapie was granted 403 million euros in 2008 over a long dispute with the Credit Lyonnais bank. The ministers’ tribunal, a body including three magistrates, is expected to question Lagarde on Thursday. Magistrates are reportedly questioning the fact that Lagarde decided not to appeal the arbitration which was subsequently considered as biased in favour of the French billionaire. After Lagarde’s audition tomorrow, the tribunal is then expected to decide whether to formally investigate Lagarde or consider her ‘an informed witness’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Meeting Samaras-Miller Paves Way for DEPA Sale

Gazprom to acquire country’s sole retail gas distributor

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras insisted on Tuesday that attracting foreign investment to Greece was the country’s best hope of overcoming its devastating unemployment problem, as he met with officials from Russian giant Gazprom, which is in pole position to acquire the country’s sole retail gas distributor, DEPA. Samaras, as daily Kathimerini reports, met with Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller and other Gazprom officials to discuss the sale of DEPA. This was Miller’s third visit to Athens in just over two months. The CEO of Greece’s privatization agency, Yiannis Emiris, also took part in the talks. Binding bids for DEPA are due to be submitted by May 29 and it appears that the two sides settled a couple of concerns that Gazprom had about the deal.

Sources said that Samaras agreed that the Russian firm should have to deposit 10% rather than 20% of the purchase price as a guarantee before the sale gets European Union approval. The Greek side committed to gradually paying off the public sector’s debts to DEPA. There was also a discussion about Gazprom reducing its supply prices once its current contract with DEPA expires in 2016.

“The parties highly praised the Russian-Greek cooperation in the gas sector and expressed their mutual interest to continue the fruitful partnership,” Gazprom said in a statement. Samaras is due in Brussels for a European Union leaders’ summit on Wednesday and will welcome Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in Athens on Thursday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Grillo Says M5S May Drive for Referendum on EU Membership

M5S leader says British teach Italians democracy

(ANSA) — Modena, May 23 — Beppe Grillo said his anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) will drive for Italy to have a referendum next year on whether Italy should continue to have the euro as its currency and stay in the European Union.

“The euro should be rethought,” said comedian-turned-politician Grillo, whose Internet-based movement captured around a quarter of the vote in February’s general election.

“We are considering doing a year of campaigning to then call a referendum to say yes or no to the euro and to say yes or no to Europe”.

In Italy it is possible to call for a referendum by collecting 500,000 signatures on a petition.

Grillo said Italy should follow the lead of Britain, after Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold a referendum on EU membership by 2017. “The British teach us democracy on the euro (which Britain does not have as its currency) and Europe,” said Grillo. “No party can claim the right to decide for 60 million people”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Letta Vows to Fight Money Laundering, Cooking the Books

‘It’s a fundamental focus’ says premier before EU summit

(ANSA) — Rome, May 21 — Italian Premier Enrico Letta on Tuesday said “much more needed to be done” to fight money laundering and fraudulent accounting, which hinder foreign investments.

“It’s an absolutely fundamental point” of focus, Letta told the Senate the day before an extraordinary European Union summit, with tax evasion among the key agenda items.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Napolitano Won’t Testify on Contents of Wiretaps, Says Court

President possible witness at Mafia-State negotiations trial

(ANSA) — Palermo, May 21 — If Italian President Giorgio Napolitano is called to testify into alleged negotiations between the Italian State and Mafia 20 years ago, he cannot be questioned on information found in wiretaps that were legally destroyed, the head of the appeals court in Palermo said Tuesday.

One day earlier, the court gave prosecutors the first green light to call Napolitano to testify at the trial into alleged secret negotiations between the Mafia and the Italian State in the early 1990s.

The president’s name appeared on a witness list of almost 200 people being reviewed by a panel that may ultimately rule out calling the president to testify. But if Napolitano is called, he will not be asked to discuss telephone conversations with former interior minister Nicola Mancino, said Appeals Court President Alfredo Montalto, who added it was “legitimate” of prosecutors to add the president’s name to their witness list.

Those conversations in late 2011 and May 2012 were intercepted during the investigation of the alleged State-Mafia negotiations, but the tapes were destroyed by order of the Constitutional Court on appeal from Napolitano.

It has been alleged that in the early 1990s, State officials negotiated with Cosa Nostra in a bid to stop attacks after a long campaign of violence that culminated in two bombings in 1992 that killed anti-Mob prosecutor Giovanni Falcone, his wife, fellow prosecutor Paolo Borsellino, and several bodyguards.

Napolitano’s testimony has been sought by two civilians with a special interest in the mafia: Salvatore Borsellino, brother of slain prosecutor Paolo; and MEP Sonia Alfano, who represents mafia victims.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ILVA Owners Probed for Fraud and Funds Scam

Emilio and Adriano Riva latest in parent-company investigations

(ANSA) — Rome, May 22 — Milan investigators on Wednesday said they are probing Emilio and Adriano Riva, owners of the parent company that owns Taranto’s ILVA steel plant, suspected of fraud against the State and fake money transfers.

Some 1.2 billion euros transferred out of Italy by the Rivas were also confiscated.

Last January, ILVA executive and family member Fabio Riva was arrested in London after two months on the run.

Taranto prosecutors issued a European arrest warrant for Fabio Riva, the deputy chairman of parent-company Riva, on December 10 saying that he was sought as part of a criminal probe into the environmental scandal at the facility.

Several other top managers have been arrested as part of the investigations.

The Taranto plant is the biggest in Europe, and the Riva group is the biggest iron and steel producer in Italy, the fourth-biggest in Europe and the 23rd-biggest in the world.

ILVA has been at the centre of a political and legal battle since July when local magistrates ordered the partial closure of its Taranto plant due to serious health concerns.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Statute of Limitations Scuppers Penati Corruption Case

Judge rules graft probe timed out

(ANSA) — Milan, May 22 — A judge on Wednesday lifted graft and extortion charges against ex-president of the provincial government of Milan, Filippo Penati, ruling that the events in question had passed the statute of limitations.

Penati was placed under investigation in July 2011 in connection with alleged kickbacks at the former industrial hub of Sesto San Giovanni just north of Milan, a rustbelt town that has been revamped in recent years.

That probe also involved suspected bribes on various highway projects.

Penati, who is hoping to clear his name, protested to the ruling which took place in Monza, a city just north of Milan, on Wednesday.

“As announced, within the next few days I will appeal to the (supreme) Court of Cassation to cancel the statute of limitations ruling, which the prosecutors wanted, for events that happened 13 years ago,” said Penati.

Penati is the former political adviser of the leader of Italy’s largest centre-left group, Pier Luigi Bersani of the Democratic Party.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Murder of Soldier in Woolwich Was a ‘Betrayal of Islam’ Says Cameron as He Insists Britain Will Stand Resolute Against Terror

“Standing outside Downing Street, the Prime Minister said: “This was not just an attack on Britain — and on our British way of life. It was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country.

“There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”

[This, of course, is patently absurd, as anyone who has looked at the Qur’an knows. The bloody-handed murderer himself cited “Surat at-Tawba (Sura 9), which contains the infamous “Verse of the Sword” (9:5) and numerous other exhorations to violence. How is the Britain formerly known as “Great” to even survive when its leaders spout such pernicious prattle? — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: European Olive Oil Rules Are ‘Bizarre’ Says Prime Minister

Plans by the European Commission to stop restaurants placing refillable cruets of olive oil on tables are ‘bizarre’, says Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte.

Brussels says the rules, which require olive oil bottles to be sealed and labelled, are necessary to ensure customers know exactly what they are eating and that the oil is of good quality.

Rutte said the Netherlands had campaigned against the ruling but that it was passed by a qualified majority.

‘I think it is too bizarre for words and incomprehensible to come with this sort of proposal at a time like this,’ Rutte told MPs during a debate on Tuesday evening. ‘It will add to the burden on the hospitality industry and inspectorate… It is also bad for the environment.’

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

Netherlands: The Man Who ‘Nearly Broke the Internet’

Sven Olaf Kamphuis is accused of global cybercrime, but Spanish police found him in a squalid flat with his name on the letterbox

The day Sven Olaf Kamphuis parked his huge orange Mercedes van with its German numberplates outside Bar Javis, in the Catalan town of Granollers, the owner’s son snapped a picture with his mobile phone.

“Not a lot happens in this street,” Maria Cruz, the bar’s owner, explained. “And it was so huge, with all those funny antennas and solar panels poking out of the roof, that it blocked the light to the bar.”

Even stranger was the 35-year-old Dutch man who parked it in this narrow street after renting a small attic flat with windows made of glass blocks in the poorer end of this nondescript town 15 miles from Barcelona.

Even on hot early summer days, Kamphuis wore a woollen hat. And he spoke no Spanish, answering “yes, yes” in English to everything people from this friendly neighbourhood said to him.

Kamphuis, 35, is one of the most controversial characters in the murky world of spam and hacking — deemed the internet’s public enemy number one by some, though others believe his reputation has been blown out of proportion by the grandstanding of his foes.

Capable of rigging up sophisticated computer systems anywhere, including the back of a van, he allegedly masterminded a flurry of March internet attacks that the security company CloudFlare claimed “almost broke the internet”, plunging the world into digital darkness. When Spanish and Dutch police arrested him they found the flat occupied by a tangle of cables and computer gear. A copy of the science fiction writer Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver lay on the unmade bed.

Kamphuis displayed a Napoleonic sense of grandeur. “He claimed he had diplomatic status,” said the Spanish police officer who led the operation, but asked not to be named. “He said he was the telecommunications minister and foreign minister of a place called the Cyberbunker Republic. He didn’t seem to be joking.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Purity Concerns: German Beer Brewers Foaming Over Fracking

Forget environmental concerns: When it comes to fracking, Germans are worried about how it might affect beer quality. In a letter to several ministries in Berlin, brewers expressed concern that the exploitation of shale gas could contaminate water supplies and thus violate the beer purity law of 1516.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Spain Replants After Centuries of Deforestation

Centuries of deforestation have turned Spain’s lush forests into barren scrublands, making them vulnerable to erosion. But volunteers are working to revive the landscape and protect local water sources.

Around this time of year in the Sierra de Guadarrama, a snow-capped mountain range outside Madrid, the snow is starting to melt. Below the tree line, the melting water soaks the earth in dense stands of pine trees. Further down, holly, oak and ash trees line the banks of mountain streams, and goats graze between granite rock formations.

Rubén Bernal, a guide at Guardarrama National Park, knows his trees. Walking down the mountain, he points out junipers, oaks, alders, honeysuckles, blackthorns, wild privets, butcher’s brooms — and the wild apple, which he said is the most protected. “Buckthorn, madrone — everything near the water,” Bernal said.

Bernal explained that the forests here were burned to make charcoal, or to clear land for sheep to graze — once common practices throughout Spain. When the government first took stock of the damage in the late 19th century, it estimated that 5 or 6 million hectares — or about 10 percent of the country’s land area — would need to be replanted.

The reforestation work continues to this day.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Unrest in Stockholm

Stockholm riots spread south on fourth night

Wednesday night saw more burning cars, smashed windows, and stone throwing at police in at least 15 suburbs around Stockholm, as the fourth night of riots swept the Swedish capital.

The unrest began shortly after 10pm in Husby, northwestern Stockholm where the riots began on Sunday night. Youths gathered in the town square, some of them masked.

Hagsätra in southern Stockholm came under fire at roughly the same time. A police patrol was attacked, and one officer was taken to hospital with serious injuries to the head.

By 2am, Stockholm’s fire service had attended 75-80 incidents across the city. Much of their work was delayed by youths throwing stones at them, meaning police were left to attend to the stone-throwers to allow the fire fighters access to the fires.

A restaurant went up in flames in Skogås, southern Stockholm. Police labelled the crime as aggravated arson.

In Rågsved, a police station was set on fire, with officers gathering young people in a police bus and escorting them away to other parts of the city.

Local residents in Husby claim the town is usually quiet and calm, with many strongly critical of the young people responsible for the crimes.

Many believe the catalyst to the riots was the fatal police shooting of a machete-wielding 69-year-old man in the area last Monday.

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

Sweden: Stockholm Riots: A View From the Street in Husby

Following three nights of violence that left cars smouldering in several Stockholm suburbs, The Local travelled to the north-western district of Husby where the disturbances began to see how the riots have affected local residents.

Stockholm’s Husby by day proved a different story from the past few nights. While the damage was still visible — broken windows, burnt walls, and scorched car parks — the people were calm as locals carried on with business as usual.

Police officers were on hand in the central square to provide information and support for residents.

“The people who live here don’t deserve this, the police don’t deserve it,” officer Ann-Christine Kleist told The Local.

“Many people are unhappy with the situation they’re living in. I understand it, of course, but it’s no excuse, you can’t destroy your neighbours’ property.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Stockholm Riots Spread South on Fourth Night

Wednesday night saw more burning cars, smashed windows, and stone throwing at police in at least 15 suburbs around Stockholm, as the fourth night of riots swept the Swedish capital.

The unrest began shortly after 10pm in Husby, northwestern Stockholm where the riots began on Sunday night. Youths gathered in the town square, some of them masked.

Hagsätra in southern Stockholm came under fire at roughly the same time. A police patrol was attacked, and one officer was taken to hospital with serious injuries to the head.

By 2am, Stockholm’s fire service had attended 75-80 incidents across the city. Much of their work was delayed by youths throwing stones at them, meaning police were left to attend to the stone-throwers to allow the fire fighters access to the fires.

A restaurant went up in flames in Skogås, southern Stockholm. Police labelled the crime as aggravated arson.

In Rågsved, a police station was set on fire, with officers gathering young people in a police bus and escorting them away to other parts of the city.

Local residents in Husby claim the town is usually quiet and calm, with many strongly critical of the young people responsible for the crimes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall was a Symbol, a Symbol of an unworkable System economic decline surveillance and oppression totalitarianism. Its rise and fall represents an important chapter in the political history of the world.

We drove across West Germany, enjoying as always its orderliness and comfortable — bordering on conspicuous — prosperity, its beautifully restored and maintained historic buildings, cathedrals and churches, its paved pedestrianized town centres served by clean modern tramcars, its low-key town bypass roads carefully integrated into the landscape, and its scenic orderly countryside of woods, hills and immaculate farms. Our last port of call in the West was Kassel, a fine city with a neatly pedestrianized town centre.

When we presented ourselves at the western side of one of the few permitted border crossings, the West German border guard was quite amazed that anyone from the West would willingly go over to the East — and for tourism?? He wished us “safe journey” in a tone which seemed to say “watch your step and come back alive!” We left the informal West German border post and drove through a no-man’s land, through the Iron-Curtain of barbed wire and forbidding watch-towers to the Eastern side where we and our vehicle were thoroughly and suspiciously scrutinized by grim border guards.

As we drove the short distance towards Eisenach in East Germany our hearts began to sink as the dismal socialist scene gradually unfolded before us. The main road leading into the town was of prewar cobbles, full of potholes, the road edges overgrown and untidy, with rusted and leaning street lights many with their light fittings missing. Eisenach itself presented a scene straight from the aftermath of World War II. The buildings were crumbling, the dusty, dirty and long-unpainted facades almost obscured by a thick pall of sulphurous coal-smoke, and the blue fumes from the 2-stoke cars which, incidentally were only for model workers after a wait of up to 21 years. The yellow coal smoke, we later learned, was produced by the ubiquitous yellow-dust coal briquettes which seemed to be the only form of domestic heating fuel. It came from enormous open-cast mines which in their relentless expansion had consumed whole villages.

All the buildings were dirty and grimy, the streets and pavements in disrepair, the few shops dowdy, and small crowds of people seemed to be standing around on street corners as if with nothing to do. In the back streets whole blocks of houses were simply falling down, some boarded up, some lying as piles of rubble which nature was already camouflaging with grass and small bushes. To call our reaction “a culture shock” after West Germany would be a totally inadequate description, despite our familiarity with other East European countries.

The more we travelled through East Germany, the more evidence we saw of a country close to economic breakdown. The roads were all full of holes — though there was little traffic even on main roads, for private motorists could not travel outside their towns without a permit. The air was polluted everywhere, even in the forest where we had thought we might enjoy a brief refreshment with nature. The few relatively modern industries belched out clouds of polluted gases while the many older factories seemed to be surviving in partly ruined premises. Urban streets were everywhere in decay and not a touch of paint had been put on the former private houses, each now assigned to several families, since before the War.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Soldier Murder a ‘Betrayal of Islam’, Says David Cameron

(AGI) — London, May 23 — British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said that the killing of a soldier in London by Islamic extremists was “a betrayal of Islam” and assured that Britain will be “resolute” in fighting terrorism.

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

UK: Side by Side With Preacher of Hate?

Choudary claims picture shows arrested Islamic fanatic, 28, at 2007 demo

Hate preacher Anjem Choudary tonight claimed he was pictured at an Islamist demonstration side by side with a man accused of murdering a soldier in Woolwich.

The man, identified by Choudary as Michael Adebolajo, 28, is seen in footage from 2007 standing behind the fanatic holding a placard which says ‘Crusade Against Muslims’.

Yesterday Adebolajo was filmed drenched in blood, wielding a meat cleaver and yelling: ‘We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.’

He was brought up as a Christian but became ‘obsessed’ with Islam as a schoolboy, it emerged today.

Tonight the picture was published by the BBC which apparently showed Adebolajo stood behind the hate preacher at a demonstration outside Paddington Green police station in 2007.

Choudary tonight told the MailOnline: ‘That is definitely him in the picture. I think it was a demonstration but it was a long time ago now.

‘He was a run-of-the mill type of person and I knew him until about two or three years ago when he disappeared.’

Adebolajo has been identified as the man suspected of killing British soldier Royal Fusilier Lee Rigby, 25, who was described as a ‘loving father’ who had recently served in Afghanistan..

Today former classmates from Adebolajo’s school in Romford expressed their ‘utter shock’ as they saw him brandishing weapons on television, saying he was once a ‘nice, normal guy.’

But at 15 he descended into a world where he was consumed with Jihadism and later joined several Islamist groups banned in Britain because they are considered so extreme.

His parents, whose home in Lincolnshire was allegedly raided by terror police today, moved him away from east London because they feared he had been radicalised…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Woolwich Attack: Troops Advised Not to Wear Uniform Outside Bases

Commanders have advised troops not to wear uniform travelling to and from work or outside bases following the brutal killing of a member of the military close to Woolwich barracks.

Defence sources said the order had been given that uniform should not be worn by those travelling alone, or on public transport as a “common sense precaution” immediately after the killing

A source stressed the order was temporary while investigations into the killing carried on and the decision would be reviewed in the next few days.

Col Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan, said it would be a mistake to reinstate an earlier permanent bar on military personnel wearing uniforms in public. That ban was put in force because of an IRA campaign in the 1970s and 1980s to target personnel in Britain, Germany and Holland.

“Personally, I would argue against it,” he told the Today programme. “As we saw in this case you don’t need to have somebody in uniform, you just need to have someone who knows a bit about soldiers and does a bit of observation in the vicinity of a barracks and you can identify a soldier very quickly.

“I think we should be right to think about ways of protecting ourselves better but I think it would be wrong to suggest we live in a state of fear of this type of attack continuing.

“I think it is possible further attacks will be inspired by this type of attack… one of the biggest priorities for the services is to look at the role of the internet in motivating people and look very carefully at which radical sites should be suppressed on the internet, as well, of course, as more direct preaching in some of the mosques in this country which has caused people to turn to radicalism and terrorism before.

“That’s another area we need to put more resources into again.”

The Ministry of Defence has already announced it is increasing security at all barracks in London.

Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, said that the Government took the security of Armed Forces personnel “very seriously”.

A defence source added: “We constantly keep security arrangements under review. From Ireland 30 years ago to other extremists now, we are always reviewing our security.”

The killing occurred 200 yards from the Royal Artillery Barracks, which is the historical home of the Royal Artillery.

Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Queen was due to visit the barracks next week and said that the appointment would still take place.

A spokesman said: “The Queen is, of course, concerned by reports of an attack in Woolwich earlier today. Her Majesty is being kept informed. We can confirm that Her Majesty will visit the King’s Troop at Woolwich Barracks on the 31st of May.”

The 18th-century barracks played a key part in London’s 2012 Olympic Games when they hosted the pistol and rifle shooting and the Paralympic shooting and archery.

The Army’s links with Woolwich go back centuries and hundreds of troops are based there.

[Return to headlines]

Alleged Al Qaeda in Spain Chief Abu Dahdah Released

On U.S. blacklist

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 23 — Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah, believed to be the leader of Al Qaeda in Spain, was released from prison on Wednesday after serving 12 years for belonging to a terrorist organization. His release, say sources from the judiciary quoted by EFE, had initially been scheduled for November. However, the Audiencia Nacional upheld the appeal lodged by Abu Dahdah’s lawyer, leading to his release from the Estremera penitentiary in Madrid yesterday evening. Arrested in 2001, Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, who holds Spanish nationality but is of Syrian origins, was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment by Spain’s Supreme Court for conspiracy to commit terrorist killings in relation to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The sentence was later reduced by the Supreme Court, which ruled that the conspiracy charges were unproven. His conviction for belonging to a terrorist organization was upheld but not that for murder, due to insufficient evidence. The U.S. includes him on its blacklist of Al Qaeda terrorists, since it holds that Abu Dahdah knew of the plans for the September 11 attacks and was fundamentally involved.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Iran’s Vote Worthless as Rafsanjani and Mashaei Are Out

The two men are excluded from the list of admissible candidates the Guardians Council made public today. Only one reformist candidate, Mohammed Reza Araf, is allowed. He was former President Khatami’s vice president. Police are deployed across the country’s cities and sensitive sites.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Iran’s Guardians Council has barred former two-time President Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief ally, from running in the upcoming 14 June presidential election. They were touted to be the two main adversaries of the candidates from the ultra-conservative bloc backed by the Guardians Council and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Fearing clashes, Iranian authorities ordered police to prop up security measures in the streets and in all sensitive locations. For President Ahmadinejad, Mashaei was the victim of “an injustice.”

The candidates that can run are: Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili; former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati; current Tehran Mayor Baqer Qalibaf; Rafsanjani crony Hassan Rowhani; former Parliamentary Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel; former Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohsen Rezaei, who came third in the 2009 presidential elections; and Mohammed Reza Araf, former President Khatami’s vice president and the only candidate associated with the reformist camp. About 30 women were excluded. Their application to run was essentially symbolic because the law bans women from the office as a matter of principle.

For political analyst Alireza Nader, “The Iranian regime is basically telling the Iranian people that their vote doesn’t matter, that Ayatollah Khamenei derives his power from God and that he really, in a lot of ways, should be Iran’s absolute ruler.”

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

Kerry Complains About Hezbollah Fighters in Syria

Secretary of State says nothing about CIA’s foreign mercenaries, including al-Qaeda

During a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman, Secretary of State John Kerry said Hezbollah is fighting alongside al-Assad’s soldiers in Syria with Iranian support, according to Reuters.

On Tuesday, ahead of Kerry ‘s visit, a senior State Department official said the “Syrian Government is welcoming Iranian help and Hezbollah help.”

The unnamed official also said the U.S. knows Iran and Hezbollah cooperate in a number of countries, “not just in Syria. And so it is not a surprise that Iran would be there with Hezbollah on the ground. We do have consistent reports of Hezbollah fighters on the ground.”

The official also said the United States government has reports “from several of the commanders that Hezbollah fighters are directly engaged in fighting literally on the streets.”

The State Department declarations about Hezbollah fighters and Iranian assistance ignores the fact that the CIA is arming and supporting foreign mercenaries in Syria. In addition to CIA sponsored mercenaries, the presence of British and Qatari troops have been reported in Syria. “There is ample evidence that this armed insurgency is directly supported by the US and NATO. There is also evidence that these armed groups are responsible for killing civilians and carrying out terrorist acts,” Michel Chossudovsky noted last February.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Stephanie Sinclair’s Best Photograph: Child Brides in Yemen

‘The girls are both eight. You can tell at once that the men are their husbands, not their fathers’

I have been to many countries to document the issue of child brides: India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Ethiopia. But it was important to cover Yemen because it is so prevalent there — in fact, it is considered normal. Some people in their communities, however, want it to stop, and this project was only able to happen because of them.

This shot shows two child brides in rural Yemen with their husbands. Tahani, the girl in pink, is eight; her husband Majed is 27. Ghada, in green, is also eight, while her husband Saltan is 33. Every day around the world, around 39,000 girls — children like Tahani and Ghada — get married.

Tahani got married when she was six and was a wife in the full sense of the word. She had not reached puberty so hadn’t had kids yet, but this was expected as soon as she was able to. Ghada is the sister of Tahani’s husband, Majed. She was still living with her family, though, and attending school, since her father felt she was too young to live with her husband.

I met them twice in 2010, when I was in the country for National Geographic.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Syria: Negotiate or US Stands With Rebels, Kerry Tells Assad

At Friends of Syria meeting; opposition must relent, says Bonino

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, MAY 23 — US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday issued embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad an ultimatum: negotiate, or the US will stand on the side of the rebels.

Either Assad agrees to talk his way out of the quagmire of the Syrian civil war at the new US and Russia-proposed Geneva conference, or Washington will be “ready to support the opposition in its battle”.

The call came during the Friends of Syria summit of ministers from 10 Arab and Western countries, including Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino. But the Syrian opposition, which holds Assad’s exit as the precondition for any talks, must also relent, Kerry said.

“Opposition cohesion and responsibility are the fundamental elements” of any progress, Bonino told ANSAmed. Various Friends of Syria countries made “suggestions” on how to “help”, the minister added.

An initial session of ministers was followed by a dinner and meeting that included George Sabra, the interim president of the Syrian National Coalition, which meets Thursday in Istanbul to decide on the way forward and to elect a new leader. Another key item on the agenda was Iran, whose Hezbollah allies are fighting alongside Syrian loyalists to reconquer the city of Qusayr. Russia wants Iran at the table in Geneva, a motion opposed by Saudi Arabia, the long-time Sunni rival of the Shiite ayatollahs, as well as France and the US.

Hezbollah’s presence is “destructive” and “worsens sectarian tensions”, Kerry said of the thousands of Lebanese Shiite militias now fighting in Syria. Not only that, but “Iranian combatants are on the ground, contributing significantly to the violence”, Kerry added.

“There has been no agreement so far on whether Iran should participate in the conference”, Bonino explained.

Also in Amman yesterday, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague openly called for Assad’s exit, while Kerry continued cautious.

“There must be a transitional government first, then other issues can be decided. But ultimately the Syrian people must be free to choose”, Kerry said, adding however that there can be no “legitimizing” those who “used missiles and tanks against women and children”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syrian Rebels Take Over Army Camp and Kill 40 Soldiers

(AGI) Beirut — Syrian rebels took control of an army camp in the province of Idlib and killed 40 soldiers, a watchdog reported .

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

Syria Rebels Threaten to Wipe Out Shiite, Alawite Towns

Communities inhabited by Shiite Muslims and President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite minority will be “wiped off the map” if the strategic city of Al-Qusair in central Syria falls to government troops, rebel forces said.

“We don’t want this to happen, but it will be a reality imposed on everyone,” Colonel Abdel-Hamid Zakaria, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army in Turkey, told Al-Arabiya television yesterday. “It’s going to be an open, sectarian, bloody war to the end.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Turkey Invests Big in Nuclear Power

While other EU countries are increasingly investing in renewables, Turkey is planning three new nuclear power stations. The country’s aim is to turn from being a net importer to a net exporter of energy.

Turkeyis geographically close to over 70 percent of the worldwide oil and gas reserves. Every year, thousands of oil tankers bring up to 150 million tons of oil from the Black Sea through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles to the Mediterranean and on towards Western Europe. Turkey also covers most of its energy demand with imports.

But now Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz has declared that the country wants to “develop into an energy exporter.” By 2023, 30 percent of the national electricity demand is to come from local renewable energy sources. And Ankara is investing in nuclear power. The ambitious plan is to build three new nuclear power stations in Turkey by 2023.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Afghan University Students Protest Against Women’s Rights

During yesterday’s protest in Kabul, protesters called for the repeal of a decree that defines domestic violence as a crime, bans child and forced marriages and says that rape victims cannot be prosecuted for adultery. It also outlaws “ba’ad”, the traditional practice of exchanging women or girls to settle disputes or pay debts.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) — More than 200 male students protested in Kabul yesterday against women’s rights, calling for the repeal of a presidential decree on the ‘Elimination of Violence Against Women’, which they say is un-Islamic.

The decree bans child and forced marriage, makes domestic violence a crime and says that rape victims cannot be prosecuted for adultery. It also outlaws “ba’ad,” a traditional practice of exchanging women or girls to settle disputes or debts.

The protest came days after conservative lawmakers blocked an attempt to turn the decree into law.

Mawladad Jalali, the mullah of the university mosque, was one of the protest’s organisers. Yesterday, he called for parliament to repeal the decree. Demonstrators slammed the decree “imposed by foreigners” for violating Sharia.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued the decree on women’s rights three years ago as part of a series of commitments to international donors, but a lawmaker wanted to pass it in parliament to prevent any future president from reversing it.

The parliamentary speaker ended the debate Saturday after fierce opposition from conservative lawmakers who said several provisions-including the ban on child marriage and jail time for domestic abuse-violated Islamic law.

The decree remains in force, but the debate appears to have roused opposition to it.

In another worrisome sign for activists, the international group Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that the number of women and girls jailed for alleged loose morals is the highest since the ouster of the Taliban, even though most of those detained are victims of abuse and have committed no crime under Afghan civil law.

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

Greek Shipowners Choose Chinese Shipyards

(ANSAmed) ATHENS, MAY 21; Greek shipowners have chosen Chinese shipyards for the construction of at least 60% of the new vessels ordered in the last few years, daily Kathimerini reports quoting Merchant Marine Minister Costis Mousouroulis as saying to journalists in China in the context of Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s visit to the Asian powerhouse last week. There currently are 142 ships under construction in Chinese shipyards, while in the last seven years Greek shipping companies have invested at least 13.2 billion euros in having new ships built in China, said Mousouroulis. Several Chinese banks reached funding deals with Greek shipping companies last week, with Mousouroulis explaining that the Chinese are eager to lend to Greek firms that intend to choose the Asian country’s shipyards for their new vessels, in a period with very limited funding from Greek banks. The minister also confirmed Cosco’s interest in the whole of the port of Piraeus.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Japan’s Regional Isolation Higher Than Ever

Japan’s neighbors are getting wary of PM Shinzo Abe and his center-right government. At home, however, Abe is bucking the trend of his immediate predecessors and riding high in the opinion polls.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

NGOs Work to Save Asia’s Drowning Children

About 95 percent of child drowning deaths occur in Asia, where two-thirds of the world’s children live. One project is trying to make a difference by giving kids the training they need to stay safe in the water.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Development Aid: €3bn Earmarked to Rebuild Mali

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung

More than €3bn in reconstruction aid for the 2013-2014 period was pledged to part of the Sahel region at a Mali Donors’ Conference held in Brussels on May 15, reports Germany daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. This is “significantly more than the €2bn initially expected,” the daily adds.

Principal donors include Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Denmark, the United States, the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank.

The money will be used to reconstruct the economic and social framework damaged during the war currently underway against Islamic militias in Northern Mali, providing funds to the agriculture and infrastructure sectors, FAZ says.

Another German daily, Süddeutsche Zeitung, however, notes that what Mali needs, first and foremost, is a government formed after democratic elections, currently scheduled for July, and that in Brussels —

very few people have illusions that the Malian state is capable of pulling itself up by its bootstraps any time soon. It will be many years before its fragmented and poorly-qualified army will be able to replace the [United Nations’] Blue Helmets or the French special forces.

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

“It Will be Easier to Become a Dane”

Justice Ministry and Enhedslisten team up for a package of changes designed to make it easier to obtain Danish citizenship

The Justice Ministry announced changes today designed to make it easier for foreigners to obtain Danish citizenship.

Among the changes, which will come into effect on June 15, are a lessening of the Danish language and self-sufficiency requirements, changes to residency requirements, a promise to bring down case-handling times, and a pledge to move forward on allowing dual citizenship.

The justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), stated in a press release that the requirements for becoming a Danish citizen should be “high but realistic to live up to”.

“With this new agreement we have given individuals better incentive to integrate themselves because the requirements are now more realistic,” Bødskov said. “It is my expectation that (the changes) will make a positive contribution to successful integration.”

Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen of far-left party Enhedslisten, which joined the government coalition parties in making the agreement, expressed satisfaction with the changes but added that her party “would have liked to have gone further in some areas”.

“It is satisfying, and also high time, that the requirements for Danish citizenship have been adjusted so that there are not large groups of refugees and immigrants who in practice are barred from ever achieving citizenship,” Schmidt-Nielsen said. “We entered into this agreement because it is a step in the right direction in relation to (former right-wing coalition government) VKO’s totally inhumane rules.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Amnesty International: Refugees, Migrants Face Rights Challenges

Amnesty International has released its annual report assessing human rights around the world. In this year’s report Amnesty says refugees and migrants in crisis areas were particularly vulnerable for human rights abuses.

The report, which covers 2012 and was released late on Wednesday at the Amnesty International headquarters in London, said that at the start of last year 12 million people were stateless, while 15 million people worldwide are currently registered as refugees. The report added that an additional 214 million migrants live without protection of their home state or their host state.

Amnesty says these refugees, migrants, and displaced citizens, often victims of conflict or persecution, face a situation where their human rights are routinely denied or ignored.

“The failure to address conflict situations effectively is creating a global underclass,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, in a statement that accompanied the release of the report. “The rights of those fleeing conflict are unprotected. Too many governments are abusing human rights in the name of immigration control — going well beyond legitimate border control measures.”

Conflicts in North Korea, Mali, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Syria are among the places where people are being forced to flee their homes. Amnesty’s report says despite the difficult conditions they leave behind, many refugees and migrants are not welcomed with open arms in new countries.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Amnesty International: Report Slams European Asylum Policies

Millions are fleeing from war and violence, but Europe is sealing itself off to those in need, a new report from Amnesty International alleged on Thursday. The human rights organization urged EU countries to act and save lives.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Amnesty Bill Start Up Costs: Blackmailers Start at $6.6 Billion for 2013

More than 75 percent of the U.S. Treasury’s general fund consists of money collected from sales and income taxes, to be used for law enforcement, health and human services, public safety, the administration of justice and general government services — all departments and services that are already severely affected by sequestration.

Nevertheless, the amnesty bill calls for $6.5 billion to be transferred “On the later of the date of the enactment of this Act or October 1, 2013.”

Additionally, another $100 million is to be appropriated at the same time, “to remain available until September 30, 2015, to the Department to pay for one-time and startup costs necessary to implement this Act.”

On top of that, all fees and penalties collected from immigrants and employers applying for visas or a change in status will also be added to the Trust Fund.

Initially, $3 billion over the next five years will be made available to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security for use in implementing the Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy. Another $2 billion will be made available over the next 10 years for the Secretary to achieve and maintain border security, and another $1.5 bill will be made available to the Secretary over the next five years to actually fence in our borders.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Amnesty Bill Swiftly Gains Senate Approval While America Focuses on “Scandals”

In what has to be the quickest, quietest approval process in history, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act got the go-ahead yesterday from the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now moves to the Senate floor where it may pass again, just as quickly, if Americans remain distracted by the current “scandals” inside the White House.

The bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill passed in the Democratic-controlled committee by a vote of 13-5. All 10 Democrats on the panel voted in favor of the bill and they were joined by three Republicans — Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Orrin Hatch of Utah.

Given it’s size and complexity, the 844-page bill, consisting of approximately 300 amendments passed with amazing speed in less than three weeks. But maybe it’s really not so amazing when you consider what’s on the line for both parties.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italian Ferry Boat Rescues 17 Migrants Lost at Sea

Raft swept up in storm between Puglia, Greece

(ANSA) — Brindisi, May 23 — An Italian ferry boat rescued a group of 17 migrants adrift in the Mediterranean between the southern Puglia region and Greece on Thursday. The migrants, said to be mostly from Pakistan, lost control of their raft overnight during a violent storm, said the Greek coastguard, who sent out a distress signal that was picked up by a ferry boat from Grimaldi lines. The passengers were being taken to Italy and were said to be in good condition.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mixed Results for Sweden Refugee Job Push

Fifteen percent of refugees in Sweden who enrolled in the new establishment system the past two years have gone on to find jobs, new figures show, leading some observers to worry that the low success rate will place a burden on the benefits system.

Fifteen percent of refugees in Sweden who enrolled in the new establishment system the past two years have gone on to find job, new figures show, leading some observers to worry that the low success rate will place a burden on the benefits system.

The findings come following a review conducted by Sweden’s National Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) of how 1,700 newly arrived refugees had fared in the new system, Sveriges Radio (SR) reported on Wednesday.

Since 2010, municipalities in Sweden have had responsibility for arranging Swedish language classes while the employment agency’s local office enrolled the new immigrants in an introductory programme.

An “establishment remuneration” is paid out from the Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) for a maximum of two years.

The review showed that 60 out of 1,700 new arrivals were working without any financial assistance from public authorities at the end of the two-year course. The majority were instead transitioning from the establishment programme to different programmes managed by the employment agency, where financial support is lower.

“The rest has to be filled in with social benefits,” Mats Johnsson, a local politician from Alvesta in southern Sweden told SR.

“Which means our tax-payers have to pay, which is not sustainable for the future.”

Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag, however, told the broadcaster he thought the new system had yielded better results than previous refugee-introduction programmes in Sweden.

Among the initial batch of people in the programme, 173 left to take a job before the programme had finished, while 152 had gone on to study. Among those who completed the programme, a further 3 percent had taken up studying, according to the employment agency’s statistics.

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

Netherlands: Helping an Illegal Immigrant Not a Criminal Offence, Says Minister

Junior justice minister Fred Teeven is prepared to amend pending legislation making it a criminal offence to help people living in the Netherlands without proper papers.

Teeven made the concession during Wednesday night’s debate on the coalition’s plans to make being an illegal immigrant a criminal offence.

Coalition party PvdA is opposed to the plan but has agreed to accept it in principle in return for some changes, leading to tensions between the coalition partners.

The changes, agreed at a Labour party meeting earlier this month, include an end to the police quota for catching illegal immigrants and not criminalising people who help people without proper papers.

However, Teeven refused to comment further on Labour’s demanded changes, saying he is still working on the draft legislation which should be completed by the summer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Amnesty: EU States Guilty of Racism, Homophobia

BRUSSELS — Several EU countries abuse the rights of migrants and ethnic minorities, while others are not doing enough to combat homophobia, Amnesty International has said.

The British-based NGO named 24 EU states in its annual report on rights abusers out on Thursday (23 May).

Rough treatment of refugees from Africa and Asia, harsh enforcement of counter-terrorism laws against Muslims and naked racism against Roma people emerged as systematic problems in Europe.

Despite previous promises to the European Commission, France in the first quarter of last year evicted 9,040 Roma people, with local authorities in many cases “flouting” international safeguards against the practice.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Boy Scouts of America Vote to Admit Openly Gay Youths

The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to allow openly gay youths as members, while continuing its policy of excluding openly gay adult leaders.

More than 1,400 delegates from scout councils across the country adopted the plan, proposed by their top leaders after a year of growing public pressure and bitter internal debate.

Gay rights advocates inside and outside the scouting organization called the decision a milestone, but vowed to continue pressing the scouts to end the exclusion of gay adults. Religious and conservative scout leaders and parents accused the organization of caving in to political pressure, and some said they would leave the Boy Scouts.

[Return to headlines]

Support the March of Sodomy — Or Else

As you surely know by now, “diversity” means only one opinion is allowed.

Case in point: the Department of Justice, an agency of the federal government, paid for by the American people. In pursuit of “diversity,” DOJ personnel are now very strongly advised to be openly supportive of homosexuality. “Live and let live” is no longer an option. From now on it’s “Hooray for gay,” or out you go.

The source of this information is a DOJ departmental memo, a colorful brochure entitled “L.B.G.T. Inclusion at Work: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Managers.”[url] You can find a link to it here and elsewhere on the Internet. Hats off to Matt Barber, WorldNetDaily, for breaking the story a few days ago.

As you’ll see, if you read the document, the DOJ has purposely set up a work environment hostile to Bible-faithful Christians and anybody else with a shred of self-respect. DOJ personnel, especially in management, have been drafted as cheerleaders for the march of sodomy. A couple of brief quotes will prove this.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 5/23/2013

  1. Pingback: Steynian 468nth | Free Canuckistan!

Comments are closed.