Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/25/2013

German police have thwarted an Islamic terror plot in which the conspirators planned to pack remote-control model planes with explosives and use them as guided missiles against buildings. Police raided residences in several cities in Germany and Belgium, seizing technical materials and instruction manuals.

In other news, a new research report released in Greece says that the Greek economy will continue to contract the rest of this year and next year. Deflation is expected to continue in both years, and the report predicts that the unemployment rate will exceed 30% next year.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, LN, Steen, Takuan Seiyo, 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
» Cypriot President: ‘Conditions Imposed by Troika Are Stifling Our Economy’
» Dr. Doom: “A Lot of Problems Are Coming… Revolution… Social Strife…” (Video)
» Greece: Jobless Rate to Top 30% Next Year, Report
» Italy Could Need EU Rescue Within Six Months, Warns Mediobanca
» Recession Alters Tourism in Spain
» The End of Brazil’s Boom: Inflation and Corruption Fuel Revolt
» After Espionage Charges, Edward Snowden Petition Reaches Critical Mass
» Americans Have Good Reason Not to ‘Like’ Facebook
» Before His Death, Father of ADHD Admitted it Was a Fictitious Disease
» Congress Insisted They be Kept in the Dark on NSA Spying
» Democrat Wins Massachusetts Senate Seat
» Dying to Surrender
» EMT Who Ignored Dying Pregnant Woman While on Coffee Break Cleared of Official Misconduct Charge After Boss Reverses Stance
» Is the Government Spying on You Through Your Own Computer’s Webcam or Microphone?
» Key Part of Voting Rights Act Invalidated
» Prosecution Attempts to Silence Jared Marcum With Gag Order
» Richard Clarke: Hastings Accident “Consistent With a Car Cyber Attack”
» Times Change: SCOTUS Guts Voting Rights Act
» Two Patients Die After Being Injected With Eli Lilly’s Schizophrenia Drug
» Washington Rejects Restriction on Honeybee-Killing Garden Pesticide Despite Evidence of Its Deadliness
Europe and the EU
» Anti-Semitism Hits New Record in Europe
» Brother of Alps Massacre Victim is Arrested Over £1million Murder Plot, But Pleads His Innocence and Says, I Loved Him
» EU-France: Sparks Fly
» Far-Right ‘More Active’ In Sweden: Report
» France: ‘2013: Deficits Explode’
» France vs the EU: Bitter War of Words Escalates
» Germany: Raids Target ‘Model Plane Bomb Plotters’
» German Police Foil Islamist Terror Plot to Use Remote Controlled Aircraft Filled With Explosives as Guided Missiles
» ‘Iranian Pages’ Rings in Integration in Sweden
» Italy: Berlusconi Gets 7 Years, Ban From Office in Sex Trial
» Italy: Berlusconi Lawyer Says Verdict ‘Outside Logic’
» Italy: Berlusconi Prosecutors to Probe Possible False Testimony
» Italy: Verdict ‘Freaked Me Out’ Says Berlusconi Friend Emilio Fede
» Italy: Idem to Meet With Premier Letta Over Tax Evasion Allegations
» Italy: Councillor Indicted for Instigating Racist Sex Crimes
» Italy: M5S Candidate Elected New Mayor of Ragusa
» Italy: Berlusconi Sentenced to Seven Years for Rubygate
» Italy: Letta Blasts Scandalous Salaries of Public-Sector Bosses
» Market Revolution: How Poland Learned to Love Its Own Cuisine.
» Netherlands: Minister Says Rise in Top Salaries is ‘Incomprehensible’
» Norway Overtakes Russia as EU’s Biggest Gas Supplier
» Sicilians Elect Mayors in Siracusa, Ragusa, Messina
» UK: More Than 4,000 Officers Disciplined for Criminal Behaviour in Five Years… Including an Inspector Sacked for Shoplifting
» UK: World’s Fastest Car Designed to Reach 1,000mph Parks Up in Downing Street
» Who Authorised the NSA and GCHQ to Spy on Germans?
Mediterranean Union
» Italy to Join With Jordan to Build Syrian Refugee Camp
North Africa
» Egypt’s Limited Military Options to Stop an Ethiopian Dam Project
» Six Libyan Soldiers Killed in Attack Near Sirte
Israel and the Palestinians
» Poll: Most Israeli Arabs Support Violent Uprising
Middle East
» Henry Kissinger: Balkanized Syria Best Possible Outcome
» Iraq: A Series of Attacks Shakes the Country, A Church Hit in Baghdad
» Islamic Cannibalism
» Lebanon: 12 Soldiers Killed in Clashes With Salafites
» Saudi Arabia: Weekend to Become Saturday and Sunday
» Saudi Arabia: Islamic Rules on Working Women Damage Economy
» Syria: Custos of the Holy Land: Fr Fran?ois Mourad Killed by Islamist Insurgents in Al-Ghassaniyah
» The Sex Jihad
» Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Praises Police’s Intervention in Gezi Protests as ‘Heroic’
» Putin Rules Out Extradition for Leak Suspect in Russia Airport
» Russia Angrily Rejects Obama Admin Snowden Demands
South Asia
» Italy’s Foreign Minister ‘Not Hopeful’ About Taliban Talks
Far East
» China Seeks Greater Influence in Arctic Region
» ‘Digital Dementia’ On the Rise as Young People Increasingly Rely on Technology Instead of Their Brain
» Illegal Immigration = More Identity Theft, More Murder, More Rape and More Drug Dealing
» Italy: Integration of Roma is the Way Forward, Says Kyenge
» Ramming Amnesty Through the Senate
» New Book Reveals How KGB Operation Seeded Muslim Countries
» Transhumanism Debunked: Why Drinking the Kurzweil Kool-Aid Will Only Make You Dead, Not Immortal

Cypriot President: ‘Conditions Imposed by Troika Are Stifling Our Economy’

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, 66, discusses “unfair” and “bitter” conditions linked to his country’s bailout that he says are “stifling” the economy. Despite her austerity drive, the leader says he supports German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s re-election.

SPIEGEL: In a letter to your European partners sent last week, you called for the arduously negotiated aid package to be reopened and for the conditions placed on Cyprus to be eased. Why are you seeking to annoy your creditors, particularly Germany?

Anastasiades: The irritation is totally unfounded. Nowhere in my letter did I call for the deal to be renegotiated. Nevertheless, I did make clear that a few of the things the Euro Group decided on in March of this year are having serious effects on the entire Cypriot economy. What is most important to me is that we get the liquidity problems for one systemic bank in Cyprus under control. And the reactions weren’t just negative, either. EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy wrote to me that he wants to raise the issues at the European Council (the powerful body representing the leaders of the 27 EU member states).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Dr. Doom: “A Lot of Problems Are Coming… Revolution… Social Strife…” (Video)

Famed economist and investment guru Dr. Marc Faber of the Gloom, Boom and Doom Report weighs in on global happenings.

He predicted the collapse of global financial markets in 2008, and pegged their subsequent rise to the day back in 2009.

If there’s someone out there with his finger on the pulse of the financial crisis and where we’re headed next, it’s Doctor Doom.

If you have ten minutes today, and are looking for some realistic insights into financial markets, the monetary machinations behind the scene, and the non-traditional investments you should be focused on going forward, take the time to listen to the good Doctor.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Greece: Jobless Rate to Top 30% Next Year, Report

(ANSAmed) ATHENS, JUNE 24 — Unemployment in Greece will soar above 30% next year, daily Kathimerini writes citing a report by the Center of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) published on Friday. The report published in the KEPE journal showed that the jobless rate this year will amount to 28.5% before climbing to 30.4% in 2014. Should this forecast prove correct, it will generate even more difficult conditions in society and the market: “This is a particularly negative development, but it is also inevitable given the continuing reduction in economic activity,” the report noted. In this context, KEPE estimates that the economy will shrink by 4.09% this year, against a budget forecast for 4.5%, followed by a 0.55% contraction in 2014, while the government expects a return to growth to the tune of 0.6% next year. KEPE also projects deflation of 0.18% this year and 0.12% in 2014.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Could Need EU Rescue Within Six Months, Warns Mediobanca

Italy is likely to need an EU rescue within six months as the country slides into deeper economic crisis and a credit crunch spreads to large companies, a top Italian bank has warned privately.

Mediobanca, Italy’s second biggest bank, said its “index of solvency risk” for Italy was already flashing warning signs as the worldwide bond rout continued into a second week, pushing up borrowing costs.

“Time is running out fast,” said Mediobanca’s top analyst, Antonio Guglielmi, in a confidential client note. “The Italian macro situation has not improved over the last quarter, rather the contrary. Some 160 large corporates in Italy are now in special crisis administration.”

The report warned that Italy will “inevitably end up in an EU bail-out request” over the next six months, unless it can count on low borrowing costs and a broader recovery.

Emphasising the gravity of the situation, it compared the crisis with when the country was blown out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992 despite drastic austerity measures.

Italy’s €2.1 trillion (£1.8 trillion) debt is the world’s third largest after the US and Japan. Any serious stress in its debt markets threatens to reignite the eurozone crisis. This may already have begun after the US Federal Reserve signalled last week that it will begin to drain dollar liquidity from the global system.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Recession Alters Tourism in Spain

Less popular areas, home rentals instead of hotel stays

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 24 — Ever more Spaniards are opting to rent summer lodgings instead of staying in hotels and are seeking out less popular destinations, exchanging the Balearic Islands and Catalonia for the autonomous communities of Navarra and Castilla y Leon, where the prices are more affordable. This emerged in a report by TripAdvisor, which looked at over 300,000 holiday homes — including 50,000 in Spain — available over the internet. The shifting to lower-cost options by Spanish families who despite the recession are not going to forgo their holiday is clear: in Navarra, in northern Spain, a studio apartment can be rented for 364 euros per week, compared with 817 euros on average for one in the Balearic Islands. In order to compete with individual citizens, the hotel sector continues to reduce its prices, as seen in the survey of prices conducted by the travel website Trivago, through comparing the prices offered by 670,000 hotels in May with those the previous year. Hotel prices have been skimmed across all of Spain except in the Balearic Islands, which have instead risen by 2%. Cantabria in the north-western part of the country is where hotels have lowered their costs the most, slashing them by 20% on the year, down to an average of 70 euros per night. In May, the regions with the most affordable hotels were the Asturias (64 euros on average for a double room), Aragon (65 euros) and Galicia (66 euros).

Some mass-tourism spots such as Catalonia’s Lloret del Mar are offering rock-bottom deals, like a hotel room for seven nights for only 110 euros per person, according to a survey carried out by Viajes Eroski.

Some of the cheapest options for holiday-goers in search of a beach vacation are places like Benidorm, Salou, Peniscola and Cambrils, which can compete with destinations like Croatia and Greece. Low-cost deals are also to be had for Mallorca for 115 euros per person for five years, flight included. Hotel stay+flight tends to be the cheapest for these times. Of course, travel agencies note, the traveler must be flexible and adjust his or her schedule to the pre-established dates. But they also note that the crisis has changed the habits of Spanish tourists, who now tend to opt for domestic holidays and to compare prices and special deals, as well as alternative possibilities, before deciding where to go on their well-deserved and long-awaited break.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The End of Brazil’s Boom: Inflation and Corruption Fuel Revolt

By Jens Gluesing

Brazil’s middle class is outraged over corruption and the feeling that none of the country’s new prosperity is trickling down to them. With the economy stagnating, the country urgently needs reforms.

The Hotel Glória was once Brazil’s finest establishment. Heads of state stayed in the magnificent building when Rio de Janeiro was still the capital. But the hotel lost its luster and its high-class clientele. Five years ago, a multibillionaire bought the hotel and vowed to bring back the old glory.

Eike Batista, who was Brazil’s richest man at the time, had big plans: He wanted to build a luxury resort, complete with a helipad and marina. He hired star architects and the building was gutted down to its foundation walls. The idea was to reopen the hotel in time for next year’s World Cup soccer championship. But now the cranes are standing still and most of the workers have been laid off. The wind blows through the windows and a homeless man is sleeping under an awning. The hotel is for sale. The multibillionaire has run out of money.

The downfall of the Batista empire symbolizes the end of the economic boom — and the multibillionaire embodies everything that hundreds of thousands of Brazilians, primarily from the middle class, are protesting against: nepotism, delusions of grandeur and the fabulous wealth of a select few. It started with demonstrations against raising the bus fare by 20 centavos (9 US cents), but rapidly became a more general uproar over the issue of who should benefit from Brazil’s riches and what is more important — new hospitals or glittering sports stadiums.

Batista enjoyed close ties with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who extolled him as a model for the new Brazil. He received massive loans from the state, and when his son hit and killed a cyclist with his sports car, expensive lawyers managed to keep the young man from serving a prison sentence. A consortium that included Batista was awarded the contract to manage the rebuilt Maracanã Stadium in Rio. The renovation of the Hotel Glória is also financed with a loan from the state development bank. And Brazil’s state-owned Petrobras has signed a deal to make Batista’s port facilities more profitable.

The entrepreneur became the seventh richest man in the world in 2012, with a net worth of $30 billion ($23 billion). Then everything collapsed: Stock prices have plummeted in his empire of oil, mining and energy companies. His fortune has melted away to nearly one-third of its former size. He has slipped to 100th place in Forbes magazine’s ranking of the world’s richest people. Last week alone one of his companies lost 40 percent of its stock market value.

Batista also attracted investors with the prospect of huge oil reserves off Brazil’s coast and promised them an increase in infrastructure contracts. But the wells have not supplied as much oil as hoped and many predictions have not materialized. Batista’s “X” empire, as he likes to call his consortium, has turned out to be nothing but a pipe dream.

Cultural Impunity

Brazil has always been a permissive society. Those who are rich are rarely held accountable for their crimes. Politicians invoke their parliamentary immunity and there are plenty of kleptocrats in the country’s town halls, governor’s palaces and the National Congress, the legislative body of Brazil’s federal government. According to a cynical Brazilian saying, “tudo acaba em samba” — everything ends in a samba. For decades, Brazil’s rich and powerful have relied on this culture of impunity….

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

After Espionage Charges, Edward Snowden Petition Reaches Critical Mass

President Obama will now be forced to weigh in on the public’s desire to pardon PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden, despite a carefully crafted effort to neither praise nor condemn him. A We the People petition titled “Pardon Edward Snowden” reached the requisite 100,000 signatures Saturday morning. By the Obama administration’s own rules, any petition that reaches that threshold will receive a formal response from the White House, though there’s no formal timetable for the official comment. Obama has defended National Security Agency (NSA) spy programs like PRISM as legal, but he has refused to comment on Snowden himself…

           — Hat tip: LN [Return to headlines]

Americans Have Good Reason Not to ‘Like’ Facebook

High technology companies, the backbone of today’s economy, played a major role in the Senate test vote on immigration reform that passed 67-27 last night.

“High technology companies are among the fastest growing lobbying shops in Washington,” said Adam Thierer, of the Mercatus Center for Politics at George Mason University. “Google, Facebook, Microsoft, these are among the largest players, and they’re matching what a lot of other telecommunications and cable companies have done for many years.” (, June 24, 2013).

When have “other telecommunications and cable companies” stabbed America in the back by helping a president land the big fish called immigration reform making more than 11 million illegal immigrants legal?


“In 2012, it took 10 weeks for the tech sector to use up its entire annual allotment of 85,000 foreign worker visas. This year, all those visas were gone in just five days.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Before His Death, Father of ADHD Admitted it Was a Fictitious Disease

(NaturalNews) If you or someone you know has a child that has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), chances are the child is actually just fine. At least this is what the “father” of ADHD, Leon Eisenberg, would presumably say if he were still alive. On his death bed, this psychiatrist and autism pioneer admitted that ADHD is essentially a “fictitious disease,” which means that millions of young children today are being needlessly prescribed severe mind-altering drugs that will set them up for a life of drug addiction and failure.

As explained by The Sons of Liberty host Bradlee Dean, who also writes for The D.C. Clothesline, ADHD was merely a theory developed by Eisenberg. It was never actually proven to exist as a verifiable disease, despite the fact that Eisenberg and many others profited handsomely from its widespread diagnosis. And modern psychiatry continues to profit as well, helping also to fill the coffers of the pharmaceutical industry by getting children addicted early to dangerous psychostimulant drugs like Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Adderall (amphetamine, dextroamphetamine mixed salts).

“ADHD is fraud intended to justify starting children on a life of drug addiction,” said Dr. Edward C. Hamlyn, a founding member of the Royal College of General Practitioners, back in 1998 about the phony condition. Adding to this sentiment, psychiatrists Peter Breggin and Sami Timimi, both of whom oppose pathologizing the symptoms of ADHD, say that ADHD is more of a social construct than it is an objective “disorder.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Congress Insisted They be Kept in the Dark on NSA Spying

Lawmakers refused to provide oversight of controversial program nine years ago

Congress insisted it be kept in the dark on the NSA surveillance programs recently revealed by Edward Snowden, according to Dick Cheney, who approached lawmakers with an invitation for them to provide more oversight back in 2004 but was told, “absolutely not”.

Speaking at a Washington think tank on U.S.-Korean affairs, the former Vice-President bragged about his involvement in setting up NSA programs shortly after 9/11 that snooped on email and phone records.

Cheney also revealed that when he approached Congressional leaders about whether they wished to provide oversight for the program three years after it began, they were “unanimous” that it should continue.

“I said, ‘Do you think we ought to come back to the Congress in order to get more formal authorization?’ and they said, ‘Absolutely not.’ Everybody, Republican and Democrat, said, ‘Don’t come back up here, it will leak’,” Cheney said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Democrat Wins Massachusetts Senate Seat

Representative Edward J. Markey, a Democrat who has toiled for almost 40 years in the House in both the majority and minority, won a promotion to the Senate on Tuesday in a victory over Gabriel Gomez, a Republican who has never served in elective office.

Mr. Markey, 66, replaces John Kerry, who stepped down earlier this year to become secretary of state, and he will provide a reliable vote for President Obama’s agenda, which seemed to be just what voters wanted.

[Return to headlines]

Dying to Surrender

A tiny few have been warning against the jihadis and their enablers in the Islamic world for many years, but the mainstream media has always chosen to marginalize or ignore them. Nearly a decade ago, the tax payer supported Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), not known for stepping outside a rigidly liberal and leftist view of the world, broadcast a documentary called, Jihad in America. This was a wake-up call for Americans but was seen only by a relatively small audience and soon forgotten. Steven Emerson, an outspoken critic of America’s complacency towards Islamist terror, wrote an article called Unholy War, which appeared in the September, 1998 edition of the New Republic. Three years later the Twin Towers dissolved in smoke and fire and the world changed forever.

Since then, books have been written exposing the Arab and Moslem support for resurgent and triumphalist Islam, much of it coming from the ostensible friend of America, Saudi Arabia. Among the many books that must be read in order to understand the existential threat posed by radical Islam to the West and to Judeo-Christian civilization are the following.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

EMT Who Ignored Dying Pregnant Woman While on Coffee Break Cleared of Official Misconduct Charge After Boss Reverses Stance

The Brooklyn EMT who callously refused to help a dying pregnant woman because she was on her coffee break saw her official misconduct charge dropped today after EMS chief Abdo Nahmod — who initially supported the case against her — flip-flopped, leaving frustrated Brooklyn prosecutors no choice but to dismiss the case.

Melisa Jackson, 27, was in uniform and on-duty when she snuck away from her dispatcher job at FDNY headquarters in downtown Brooklyn in December 2009 to meet her EMT boyfriend in a nearby Au Bon Pain. But when pregnant Eutisha Rennix, 25, had a serious asthma attack, Jackson wouldn’t even walk into the back room to look at her.

Both Rennix and her unborn baby died.

“Had the defendant just walked into the rear room, she would have seen that this was not just a person who needed transport to a hospital. Ms. Rennix needed immediate medical assistance,” assistant district attorney Kevin Richardson said in court this morning.

“Ms. Rennix did die that day there on the floor in the rear locker room of Au Bon Pain, and the defendant had her coffee.”

Nahmod signed an affidavit in 2010 supporting the criminal complaint against Jackson. His affidavit said Jackson had violated a departmental rule — the “flag-down rule” — requiring that an on-duty EMT treat a defendant and notify dispatch if they are flagged down for help.

But on Wednesday, Nahmod called Richardson and said the flag-down rule doesn’t apply in this case because Jackson wasn’t assigned to an ambulance or special event where they are expected to provide aid.

“Based on the reversal of position of Chief Nahmod, there is absolutely no possible way to sustain a criminal charge against Ms. Jackson,” Richardson said in court.

“We’re perplexed. We don’t know why he changed his mind,” a law-enforcement source said…

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo [Return to headlines]

Is the Government Spying on You Through Your Own Computer’s Webcam or Microphone?

We documented earlier today that — if you are near your smart phone — the NSA or private parties could remotely activate your microphone and camera and spy on you.

This post shows that the same is true for our computer.

Initially, the NSA built backdoors into the world’s most popular software program — Microsoft Windows — by 1999.

And a government expert told the Washington Post that the government “quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type” (confirmed). Even that is just “the tip of the iceberg”, according to a congress member briefed on the NSA’s spying program.

The New York Times reported in 2011 that German police were using spyware to turn on the webcam and microphone on peoples’ computers:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Key Part of Voting Rights Act Invalidated

The Supreme Court struck down a central portion of the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, effectively ending the practice in which some states with a history of racial discrimination must receive clearance from the federal government before changing voting laws.

The vote was 5 to 4, with the five conservative-leaning justices in the majority and the four liberal-leaning justices in the minority. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the decision.

The majority held that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965 and since updated by Congress, was unconstitutional. The section includes a formula that determines which states must receive pre-approval.

[Return to headlines]

Prosecution Attempts to Silence Jared Marcum With Gag Order

WOWK has been the only news outlet following every new development in the case of Jared Marcum, the Logan County, West Virginia student who was suspended, arrested and is now facing an obstruction charge after refusing to change his NRA shirt at school. On Monday morning, June 24, Jared’s case took yet another turn.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Richard Clarke: Hastings Accident “Consistent With a Car Cyber Attack”

Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke told The Huffington Post on Monday that the fatal crash of journalist Michael Hastings’ Mercedes C250 coupe last week is “consistent with a car cyber attack.”

“There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers” — including the United States — know how to remotely seize control of a car,” Clarke said.

On Saturday, posted a video of a talk presented by Dr. Kathleen Fisher, a program manager for DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies. Fisher admitted that the Pentagon has researched remotely controlling cars through hacking on board computers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Times Change: SCOTUS Guts Voting Rights Act

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote Tuesday, struck down a core provision of the Voting Rights Act that singles out part of the country for special treatment.

The outlawed provision, Section 4, identifies all or parts of 16 states, mainly in the South. A separate provision, Section 5, not struck down by the Supreme Court, forces them to get permission — or “preclearance” — from the U.S. Justice Department or a three-judge federal panel in Washington to make any changes in how people vote in their jurisdictions, no matter how innocuous.

But without the identifying the parts of the country affected, the “preclearance” requirement is meaningless.

The landmark ruling frees up many parts of the country that have a history of discriminating against minorities from federal supervision.

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said the conditions that required Washington supervision no longer apply. Four other conservatives joined him. The court’s four liberals dissented…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Two Patients Die After Being Injected With Eli Lilly’s Schizophrenia Drug

(NaturalNews) A popular injection-based drug for schizophrenia is under investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) following the recent deaths of two patients who were given the jab for their mental conditions. Reuters reports that extremely high levels of Eli Lilly and Co.’s Zyprexa Relprevv, a spinoff of the multi-billion dollar, oral-based Zyprexa drug, were found circulating in the patients’ bloodstreams, which points to the drug as the direct cause of the deaths.

The FDA already recognizes that Zyprexa Relprevv can cause a condition known as post-injection delirium sedation syndrome, or PDSS, which involves too much of the active drug compound entering a patient’s bloodstream at once. Patients who develop PDSS following injection with Zyprexa Relprevv can end up suffering from more serious health conditions like cardiopulmonary arrest, heart rhythm problems, sedation, dementia, and even prolonged coma.

But these deadly side effects are apparently not that big of a deal to the FDA, which has continued to support the “safe” use of Zyprexa Relprevv for schizophrenia patients despite dozens of similar deaths caused by the drug in recent years. At least 82 patients have died after being jabbed with Zyprexa Relprevv in the past, but these latest deaths finally got the attention of the FDA due to their undeniable correlation with high circulating levels of the antipsychotic drug in the victims’ bloodstreams…

This is typical behavior for the FDA when it comes to drugs — approve the drugs now, ask questions later. But if Zyprexa Relprevv had been raw milk in this case, you can be sure the agency would have immediately raised hell and tried to ban all production, sale, trade, etc. of raw milk across America. This is the pathetic double standard that exists at the FDA today, and is the primary reason why the corrupt agency needs to be either systematically reformed or completely deconstructed for the safety of the American people.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Washington Rejects Restriction on Honeybee-Killing Garden Pesticide Despite Evidence of Its Deadliness

(NaturalNews) Faceless, nameless bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., are once again demonstrating their ignorance of an issue by refusing to take a necessary action that literally could have an impact on the health and well-being of millions of Americans.

Officials at the Department of Agriculture are refusing to act on a request to restrict a certain class of backyard pesticides that are suspected of killing off scores of honey bees. From the Yakima Herald Republic newspaper:

The department announced the decision Thursday following a 60-day review of a petition submitted by Thurston County commissioners. The county, at the request of county beekeepers, asked the department on April 8 to limit residential use of neonicotinoid pesticides used to kill aphids, weevils and other insects on ornamental plants. The insecticides also are used on crops, but limits on those uses were not requested…

“They block the nerve endings of the bee, and so the bee is paralyzed and then what happens is they starve to death, so you see the bee shaking, and it’s a very horrific way of dying for a bee,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Anti-Semitism Hits New Record in Europe

New report presented to government says 26% of European Jews harassed in past year, many considering making aliyah as they no longer feel safe

A troubling report presented to the government on Sunday verifies what many in Europe have been feeling in recent months — anti-Semitism in the continent is on the rise, and is breaking new records.

The anti-Semitism survey was conducted on behalf of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in nine countries in Europe.

According to its main findings, 26% of Jews have suffered from anti-Semitic harassment at least once in the past year, 34% experienced such harassment in the past five years, 5% reported that their property was intentionally vandalized because they are Jewish, about 7% were physically hurt or threatened in the past five years.

As a result, 40% to 50% of Jews in France, Belgium and Hungary said they were considering emigrating as they no longer felt safe.

The main points of the survey are included in the Jewish People Policy Institute’s Annual Assessment report, which was presented to the government on Sunday. According to the report, Europe’s Jews are more pessimistic in regards to their future than they are willing to admit, and Jews all over the continent do not feel safe.

According to the report’s authors, Europe’s Jews may be reaching the conclusion that the situation will only get worse. According to the report’s figures, some 300 Jewish families immigrated from France to Montreal recently, and another 120 immigrated to London.

In light of the situation, the JPPI estimates that many Jews will look into the possibility of immigrating to Israel, and recommends that the government take several steps in order to encourage that trend: Remove bureaucratic hurdles for recognizing academic degrees obtained abroad, ease the absorption of immigrants with professions requiring licensing, and avoid making every immigrant automatically enlist with the army.

The JPPI also suggests easing conversion and encouraging the conversion of non-Jews (from all over the world) who are married to Jews.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Brother of Alps Massacre Victim is Arrested Over £1million Murder Plot, But Pleads His Innocence and Says, I Loved Him

The brother of one of the French Alps massacre victims has denied hiring a hitman to kill the family over a £1million-plus inheritance feud.

Accountant Zaid al-Hilli, 54, was arrested at his home in Surrey yesterday morning on suspicion of conspiracy to murder.

His brother Saad al-Hilli, 50, was killed in a gun attack in France that left three others dead and Saad’s daughters Zainab, eight, and Zeena, five, orphaned.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

EU-France: Sparks Fly

Libération, Le Figaro

“There’s some badmouthing going on between Paris and Brussels,” notes Libération, reporting the controversy brewing between France and the European Commission since the launch of the negotiations over a free-trade agreement with the United States.

On June 23, the French Minister for Industrial Renewal, Arnaud Montebourg, accused the President of the Commission of being “fuel for the National Front”. Answering back, José Manuel Barroso retorted that “some French politicians [should] abandon their ambiguity towards Europe and put up a better defence against nationalism, populism, even chauvinism.”

The left-wing daily explains this exchange of remarks by referring to José Manuel Barroso’s ambitions.

Promoting this Treaty, which risks increasing Euroscepticism, reveals that his agenda is no longer European, but Atlantic. According to our sources, Barroso is preparing to campaign for the post of Secretary-General of the United Nations or of NATO. And for that, he needs the agreement of the Americans — hence the pledges he is giving them for the TTIP, and hence the attacks on France.

In turn, Le Figaro believes that the president of the Commission “henceforth a designated target, is paying the price of the disenchantment of the French with Europe and of a government struggling to score points against the crisis.”

The “cultural exception” episode and its aftermath showed how the French political class, right and left, has little enthusiasm for the economic liberalism that remains the credo of most of its neighbours, including Germany. This is the major reason for the disenchantment. The second, more political, could well arise at the European summit on Thursday, or in its backrooms: the reluctance of the Elysee to put France through the reforms requested and meet the budgetary objectives of European governance that François Hollande regularly calls for.

In the scathing response by José Manuel Barroso to Paris, the conservative daily also senses a reaction to the rapprochement between the Elysee and the German Chancellery.

The team has been strengthened by the meeting in May and by the most recent “Franco-German contribution”, although that was purely lip service. The consequence for the European dynamic is known. When France and Germany are divided, the Commission prevails. But when the two founding nations agree, it finds itself the scapegoat…

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

Far-Right ‘More Active’ In Sweden: Report

Far-right and anti-immigrant groups in Sweden have become increasingly active, according to a new report published by anti-racist foundation Expo on Tuesday.

“The Party of the Swedes (Svenskarnas parti) has managed to collect well-known individuals within the movement and has built up a relatively stable organisation. The strategy is to attract Sweden Democratic voters by presenting themselves as a more radical alternative,” said Anders Dalsbro, editor of the magazine Expo, in a statement.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: ‘2013: Deficits Explode’

Le Figaro, 25 June 2013

According to the financial committee of the French National Assembly, the state public spending deficit, which was limited to €61.5bn in the 2013 budget, is expected to reach €80bn (4 per cent of GDP instead of the 3.7 per cent planned) by end of the year.

In a report, the committee explains the failure to meet the spending target is due to a reduction in tax revenue prompted by declining growth and incessant fiscal changes, which have stalled France’s economy.

“There is no shortage of suggestions on how to make savings,” points out Le Figaro.

At the end of May, the European Commission set out a list of recommendations on how to reform France and reduce its spending deficits. […] Embarking on this path is much more difficult than raising taxes. But it is the only option.”

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

France vs the EU: Bitter War of Words Escalates

An increasingly bitter slanging match between the members of the French government and EU chiefs escalated on Monday as EU Commission José Manuel Barroso compared France’s socialist leaders to the far right for using Europe as a ‘scapegoat’ for its problems.

Just days ahead of a key European summit an increasingly bitter spat between EU chiefs and France appeared to be spiraling out of control on Monday.

In the latest barb that will no doubt hurt members of the Socialist government European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso denounced ‘leftist chauvinists’ comparing them to the far-right and also accused France of using Europe as a “scapegoat” for troubles at home.

“It would be good if some politicians understood that they will not get very far by attacking Europe and trying to turn it into a scapegoat for their problems,” Barroso said.

“Some left-wing nationalists have exactly the same views as the far right,” he said in a scathing riposte to comments by French Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg who had earlier accused Barroso of fuelling the rise of the far right.

Europe is “paralysed,” Montebourg told France Inter radio earlier the day.

“It does not respond to any aspirations of the people on the industrial front, on the economic front, on the budget front, and in the end that plays into the hands of all the … anti-Europe parties in the EU,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Raids Target ‘Model Plane Bomb Plotters’

German authorities said they had uncovered a terrorist bomb attack plot to use remote controlled model planes, and carried out raids targeting seven people alleged to be involved in the Islamist plan.

Elite police units stormed nine sites in southern and eastern Germany as well as Belgium based on suspicion of “preparation of grievous acts of anti-state violence” as well as money-laundering, the federal prosecutor’s office in the south-western city of Karlsruhe said in a statement.

The searches targeted two men of Tunisian origin “suspected of acquiring information and objects with the aim of carrying out radical Islamist explosives attacks using remote-controlled model airplanes”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

German Police Foil Islamist Terror Plot to Use Remote Controlled Aircraft Filled With Explosives as Guided Missiles

Police in Germany have raided dozens of addresses to foil an Islamist terror plot intending to use remote controlled model aircraft filled with explosives to be flown into targets.

Armed officers of the specialist G9G units raided homes in Stuttgart, Munich and Dachau after receiving information that at least one assassination attempt was being planned using the model planes as guided missiles.

Technical materials and paperwork were seized at several addresses while prosecutors spoke of plans for a ‘seditious outrage’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Iranian Pages’ Rings in Integration in Sweden

Liberal commentator Nima Sanandaji explains how the Swedish-Iranian yellow pages helps the integration of the Iranian community, with almost two thirds of its children in higher education.

The yellow pages used to be a key source of information for Swedish households. For many families it has become a thing of the past. But there is one great exception. Rahnama, the yellow pages of the Iranian-Swedish community, has 30,000 copies distributed in Sweden, as well as in Oslo and Copenhagen. Those who are interested in understanding how successful integration can happen in Sweden should glance over this 300-page booklet, where advertisers reach out in a mix of Persian and Swedish.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Gets 7 Years, Ban From Office in Sex Trial

‘Ruling beyond any logic’ says ex-premier’s lawyer

(By Christopher Livesay) (ANSA) — Milan, June 24 — A Milan court on Monday found Silvio Berlusconi guilty of charges he paid for sex with an underage prostitute and abused his power to try to cover up the affair and handed the ex-premier a seven-year sentence. The court also banned Berlusconi from holding public office for life.

Niccolo’ Ghedini, one of Berlusconi’s defence lawyers, called the ruling “beyond any logic” and said his client will appeal. Ghedini stressed that the judges “had gone beyond” the six-year term prosecutors had wanted.

Berlusconi and the woman judges ruled he paid for sex before she was 18, a Moroccan former dancer known as ‘Ruby Heart-stealer’, have both denied ever having sex. They say monies he gave her were gifts to help her set up a beauty salon, a dream she had had since escaping from an allegedly abusive, Islam-enforcing father in Sicily.

Prosecutors will review the verity of such testimony in a perjury probe called for by judges after the ruling Monday. Ghedini, who is also a lawmaker for Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, had argued that the three-time premier should be acquitted because the alleged crime involving Ruby — whose real name is Karima El Mahroug — “does not exist”. The abuse-of-office sentence regards Berlusconi’s call to a police station on the night of May 27-28, 2010 after Ruby was detained on an unrelated theft accusation.

He said he called to avoid an international incident because he was under the false impression that she was a relative of Egypt’s then president Hosni Mubarak. Ghedini said his client did not ask police to accelerate procedures for Ruby’s release from police custody.

But judges sided with prosecutors who argued that Berlusconi, who was premier in 2010, phoned from a European leaders’ meeting in Paris and pressured police in Milan to release her. Since she was under 18, a judge ordered the police to direct her to a shelter for juvenile offenders.

Ruby was released to Nicole Minetti, a Lombardy regional councillor, ex-aspiring showgirl and Berlusconi’s former dental hygienist, who was accompanied by another woman that took part in the parties.

Ruby had backed Berlusconi’s version of events and recently showed reporters a passport that was manipulated to make it look like she was a member of the Mubarak family. In a related trial, Minetti and two other people are accused of providing prostitutes — including Ruby — for parties a Milan prosecutor described as “Bacchic orgies” at the home of the ex-premier. Berlusconi and his supporters counter that they were ordinary dinner parties and argue the allegations have been invented by left-wing elements in the judiciary who are targeting him for political reasons as in several ongoing and previous trials.

TV anchorman Emilio Fede, one of the alleged pimps, said he was “literally freaked out” by Monday’s verdict: “I witnessed this moment with great sadness, because I’m sorry, because I am his friend and because I am certain he cannot have done what he was accused of”. Berlusconi’s daughter Marina said her father’s “conviction had been decided from the beginning”. Luca d’Alessandro, a member of the House justice commission as well as a member of Berlusconi’s PdL, called the sentence “a rape of the law in the name of political combat” following the ruling — the second in one week against the ex-premier. Last week Berlusconi failed in a bid to have the Constitutional Court strike down a four-year conviction for tax fraud at his media empire along with a five-year ban from public office. Senior PdL officials have said the party’s lawmakers will quit if the sentence is upheld by the supreme Court of Cassation and becomes definitive.

The media tycoon is also appealing a one-year term for involvement in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap and facing indictment for allegedly buying Senators to topple a centre-left government.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Lawyer Says Verdict ‘Outside Logic’

Ghedini complains about judges exceeding prosecutor’s request

(ANSA) — Milan, June 24 — Niccolo’ Ghedini, one of Silvio Berlusconi’s defence lawyers, said Monday that a Milan court’s decision to hand the ex-premier a seven-year jail sentence for using an underage prostitute and abusing his office to cover up the affair was “outside any logic”. Ghedini stressed that the judges “had gone beyond” the six-year term prosecutors wanted.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Prosecutors to Probe Possible False Testimony

Ex-premier gets seven-year sentence, life ban from public office

(ANSA) — Milan, June 24 — Judges in Milan on Monday called on prosecutors to look into possible false testimonies given during the trial of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, who was found guilty of paying an underage prostitute named Ruby for sex and abusing his office to cover it up. Karima ‘Ruby’ El Mahroug, who denied in court ever sleeping with Berlusconi, is thought to be one person whose testimony will be reviewed. Berlusconi was sentenced to seven years in prison and was banned for life from holding public office Monday. His lawyers have said he will appeal.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Verdict ‘Freaked Me Out’ Says Berlusconi Friend Emilio Fede

TV anchorman on trial for procuring prostitutes for ex-premier

(ANSA) — Rome, June 24 — TV anchorman Emilio Fede, one of three defendants on trial on charges of procuring prostitutes for Silvio Berlusconi’s alleged sex parties, on Monday deplored the guilty verdict against Italy’s former premier.

“I witnessed this moment with great sadness, because I’m sorry, because I am his friend and because I am certain he cannot have done what he was accused of. I am literally freaked out,” Fede said in an interview Italian TV broadcaster La7.

A Milan court on Monday found Berlusconi guilty of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his power to try to cover up the affair, handing the ex-premier a seven-year sentence. The court also banned Berlusconi for life from holding public office.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Idem to Meet With Premier Letta Over Tax Evasion Allegations

Minister says controversy a ‘massacre’

(ANSA) — Rome, June 24 — Equal Opportunity and Sports Minister Josefa Idem is set to meet with Italian Premier Enrico Letta and may resign on Monday over allegations she evaded taxes.

Idem told the daily paper Corriere della Sera that she would leave the premier to decide, but that the accusations were pretentious and a “massacre”, creating the climate of a “lynching”.

The retired international athlete and Olympic canoeing gold medalist said that she had made an innocent mistake and was not trying to cheat the system.

“I insist on being believed…I am not a trickster,” she said.

According to media reports, she maintained two residences in the Ravenna area, one apparently fitted out as a commercial gym, but avoided paying all the relevant taxes.

Idem told the daily that she had presented the proper documentation two years earlier but that the procedure to incorporate the correct application of taxation for the properties had gotten stuck in a bottleneck. “The press said that I am being investigated. They will tell me what for. I’m thinking that there might also be an investigation into how my personal data and confidential documents from the town hall ended up in the newspaper,” she said.” “All of this is simply absurd. From one week to the next I have gone from a respected person to a criminal,” said German-born Idem, who won five Olympic medals as a sprint canoeist including the gold she won in Sydney in 2000.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Councillor Indicted for Instigating Racist Sex Crimes

Ex-Northern League member called for ‘rape’ of Kyenge

(ANSA) — Padua, June 24 — Prosecutors on Monday indicted local councillor Dolores Valandro on charges of instigation to commit racist sex crimes, sources said.

Valandro, formerly of the anti-immigrant Northern League, attacked Italy’s first black cabinet member by calling for Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge to be raped in a June 13 Facebook post.

“(Why) doesn’t anyone ever rape her in order (for her) to understand what the victim of this heinous crime feels like?” Valandro, a councillor for a Padua district, said on her Facebook page under a photo of Kyenge.

Valandro has since been expelled from the Northern League and will appear in court July 1.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: M5S Candidate Elected New Mayor of Ragusa

(AGI) — Palermo, Jun 24 — Federico Pizzitto of the M5S movement is the new mayor of Ragusa. With votes counted in 63 out of 71 polling stations completed, Pizzitto is leading his centre-left opponent Giovanni Cosentini with 69.46 percent of the vote.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Sentenced to Seven Years for Rubygate

Former PM charged with abuse of authority and under-age prostitutiont. People of Freedom (PDL) protest at “political verdict”. Sentence harsher than six years requested by prosecution. Berlusconi’s lawyer Ghedini criticises verdict that “goes beyond reality”

MILANO — Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment on the charges he was facing at the Rubygate trial: abuse of authority and under-age prostitution. He has also been banned from public office for life. The sentence was handed down by the fourth section of the court of Milan, Giulia Turri presiding. A group of a dozen or so demonstrators greeted the news of Silvio Berlusconi’s conviction with applause and cheering. Some sang the Italian national anthem. Niccolò Ghedini, one of Mr Berlusconi’s lawyers, said: “It’s not a question of whether this is a political verdict or not. It’s a verdict that goes beyond reality and beyond the trial documents”. Mr Ghedini concluded: “It’s a verdict that was expected”…

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

Italy: Letta Blasts Scandalous Salaries of Public-Sector Bosses

Tax evasion is a target, says premier

(ANSA) — Rome, June 25 — Italian Premier Enrico Letta said Tuesday that the salaries of some senior public sector managers and executives at State-controlled firms was scandalous.

“I think it is intolerable that in private and public companies there are managers who earn salaries that are so many times higher than any civil servant,” Letta said. The premier added that his bid to curb excessive pay in the public sector will be helping by him leading by example and stopping the practise of paying double salaries to MPs who also serve as ministers.

“Being as I only have my salary as a parliamentarian, it will be easier for me to say to a public manager that you earn 30 times more than the premier who nominated you,” Letta said. In comments to the Senate, Letta also complained that the amount of Italian capital hidden abroad in tax havens “is simply scandalous” but said they will be traced and taxed.

In fact, there is increasing pressure to halt tax evasion, a topic that was high on the agenda last week for Letta and other world leaders attending a G8 summit in Northern Ireland, the premier noted.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Market Revolution: How Poland Learned to Love Its Own Cuisine.

By Anne Applebaum

In the winter of 1988, when I first moved to Poland, Warsaw had two types of restaurants. The first type was formal, empty, state-owned, and dusty, lit by flickering, hissing fluorescent bulbs.. They had long menus from which one could select dishes — mostly roast pork, in various guises, or watery soups — which might or might not actually appear.. The waiters were bored, or just plain rude: “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work,” went the mantra. They might take an order, amble into the kitchen, amble back again, and announce that whatever you wanted was gone, and probably most other things were too. If you protested, they shrugged.

The second sort of restaurant was private — sometimes very private. A few tables and a dozen chairs or so were set up in apartments or the back rooms of houses. They weren’t exactly illegal, but they weren’t necessarily licensed either. Unlike their state-owned counterparts, these restaurants were full of good cheer and slightly more expensive, which was a good thing: It meant that the menu reflected the prices of the private market in food, and not the controlled prices of the dysfunctional state economy, in which dingy state-run shops sold little more than vinegar, canned meat, and dry crackers. Every once in a while a queue would form for a shipment of sausage.

Even then, food was a sign of the eating revolution to come. The markets that supplied the private restaurants were seasonal, which meant piles and piles of sweet, delicious strawberries in early summer, ripe plums and yellow beans in late summer, and crisp apples, pumpkin, squash, and earthy potatoes in autumn. The vegetables were excellent — and naturally organic, because the farmers couldn’t afford pesticides. Alongside the local farmers, Russian traders came to the markets too, selling tins of beluga caviar for the equivalent of a few dollars. One of my friends knew a “veal lady” who delivered black-market meat as if it were contraband. And there were good free-range eggs to be found, if you knew whom to ask. Here was the foundation of a new capitalism — even before the Berlin Wall crumbled.

It was no accident that when British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher arrived in Warsaw in the autumn of 1988 — dressed in a full-length fur coat and fur hat — she went grocery shopping. One of her former advisors recently told me that Thatcher said she wanted to visit a place where “the free market” was working, and the British ambassador to Poland pointed her to the Hala Mirowska, a dilapidated but still elegant 19th-century covered market. At that time, it was filled with country farmers selling their wares at “free prices.” As startled shoppers stopped and stared, she swept through the fruit stalls, a crowd of television cameras behind her. The British ambassador scurried behind too, paying for her purchases and jars of pickles broken in the commotion.

Less than a year later, communism collapsed, and in its wake, Polish food began to change rapidly. In fact, the food culture probably changed even faster than the politics because the transformation was already happening: The economic collapse of the 1980s had produced a generation of food entrepreneurs who, by 1990, were delighted to come out of the shadows…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Minister Says Rise in Top Salaries is ‘Incomprehensible’

Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher has described the reported increases in senior executive salaries as ‘incomprehensible’ given that so many people have had their pay frozen.

Last week the Volkskrant reported that basic executive pay has gone up 6% to €512,000. Including bonuses and pension deals, executive pay at 134 large firms rose an average 7.5% to €1.13m.

Asscher said in a briefing to parliament he would like to require companies to give a written explanation to their workforce about salary strategy in their annual reports.

It would reflect well on senior executives if their pay developments reflected those among workers in general, the Labour minister said.

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

Norway Overtakes Russia as EU’s Biggest Gas Supplier

Norway overtook Russia as the main supplier of the EU’s natural gas in 2012, a first for the Scandinavian country, the chief economist for the British Petroleum Group chief said in unveiling a new energy report in Brussels.

Christof Rühl, who is also a BP vice president, said that over the past 10 years, there have been two trends — the rapid growth of shale gas production in the United States and the rapid growth in liquefied natural gas trade. In the last year, shale gas production continued at a slower level, and LNG trade suddenly declined.

What emerged behind these trends was a “very interesting interfuel competition between coal and gas,” Rühl said. Globally gas consumption rose 2.2% faster in 2012 compared to a year earlier, but below the long-term average. The growth is largely US-driven, as gas consumption in the world’s largest economy has increased more than in any other region of the world.

At the same time, the EU and the former Soviet states have registered the largest regional declines in gas consumption, said Rühl, who presented BP’s 2013 edition of the Statistical Review of World Energy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sicilians Elect Mayors in Siracusa, Ragusa, Messina

Center-left, 5-Star Movement, ‘No Bridge’ each pick up seats

(ANSA) — Palermo, June 24 — Three provincial capitals up for grabs in Sicily on Monday elected new mayors in a runoff vote.

Center-left candidate Giancarlo Garozzo became the new mayor of Siracusa with 53.3% of the vote against 46.7% for Ezechia Paolo Reale, who ran on a mixed People of Freedom (PdL) and Civic List ticket. In Ragusa, Federico Piccitto from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement won the runoff with 69.4% of the vote, leaving center-left candidate Giovanni Cosentini behind at 30.6%.

The city on the strait, Messina, elected No Bridge movement founder Renato Accorinti, who beat out his center-left opponent Felice Calabro’ to become mayor with 52% of the vote. Accorinti’s movement fought former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s plan to build the world’s longest suspension bridge, connecting Messina to mainland Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: More Than 4,000 Officers Disciplined for Criminal Behaviour in Five Years… Including an Inspector Sacked for Shoplifting

More than 4,000 police officers were disciplined for criminal behaviour in the past five years.

They include an inspector who was sacked after being arrested for shoplifting and a PC who resigned after installing a camera in a ladies toilet.

A sergeant in Lancashire was also sacked after he was discovered with three sub-machine guns and ammunition. A colleague from the same force resigned after being caught drug-trafficking.

Shocking new figures, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, show criminality among the rank and file of Britain’s police forces is on the rise.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: World’s Fastest Car Designed to Reach 1,000mph Parks Up in Downing Street

David Cameron was eying up what could be the world’s fast car today, in stark contrast to the mini scooter he has been using to get around London.

The Prime Minister welcomed the 1,000mph Bloodhound Supersonic Car to Downing Street to promote British engineering.

The jet and rocket powered vehicle, which designers hope will secure the world land speed record, was an altogether more impressive sight than Mr Cameron scooting through Regent’s Park.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Who Authorised the NSA and GCHQ to Spy on Germans?

The US and Britain claim they have operated within the law. But they are not our laws and we shouldn’t be subject to them

“Germany’s security is being defended in the Hindu Kush, too,” said Peter Struck, who was Germany’s defence minister at the time, in 2002. If that’s true, then the government should also be expected to defend the security of its people at their own doorstep. Because the massive sniffing out and saving of data of all kinds — that of citizens and businesses, newspapers, political parties, government agencies — is in the end just that: a question of security. It is about the principles of the rule of law. And it is a matter of national security.

We live in changing times. At the beginning of last week, we thought after the announcement of the American Prism programme that President Barack Obama was the sole boss of the largest and most extensive control system in human history. That was an error.

Since Friday, we have known that the British intelligence agency GCHQ is “worse than the United States”. Those are the words of Edward Snowden, the IT expert who uncovered the most serious surveillance scandal of all time. American and British intelligence agencies are monitoring all communication data. And what does our chancellor do? She says: “The internet is uncharted territory for us all.”

That’s not enough. In the coming weeks, the German government needs to show that it is bound to its citizens and not to an intelligence-industrial complex that abuses our entire lives as some kind of data mine. The justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, hit the right note when she said she was shocked by this “Hollywood-style nightmare”.

We have Snowden to thank for this insight into the interaction of an uncanny club, the Alliance of Five Eyes…

           — Hat tip: LN [Return to headlines]

Italy to Join With Jordan to Build Syrian Refugee Camp

Bonino says new structure to include hospital and schools

(ANSA) — Rome, June 25 — Italy is working with the Jordanian government to build a new camp near the town of Azraq for refugees from Syria, Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said on Tuesday. Bonino said during a visit to the Al Zaatari camp in northern Jordan that the new camp will be roughly 100 kilometers from Amman and will include schools and a hospital.

The Al Zaatari camp that already houses 150,000 people of whom 70% are women and children, is filled to capacity and risks overflowing with an expected influx over the next weeks.

After Lebanon, Jordan has the highest number of refugees at half a million fleeing from Syria’s civil war.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt’s Limited Military Options to Stop an Ethiopian Dam Project


Ethiopia’s initiation of a dam project on the Blue Nile has quickly drawn the ire of Egypt, which is critically dependent on it as a source of much of the country’s freshwater needs. As Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said June 9 following Ethiopia’s refusal to halt construction of the dam and ahead of his trip to Addis Ababa to discuss the project, Egypt will not give up a “single drop of water from the Nile.” “No Nile, no Egypt,” he said.

While Egypt has struggled to attract diplomatic intervention on its behalf to thwart Ethiopia’s dam construction, tensions have reached the point where Egypt has suggested the use of force to keep the dam from potentially lowering the Nile’s water levels downstream to unacceptable levels. There will be serious international pressure to keep the dispute over the dam in the realm of diplomacy, but there are also fairly significant constraints on the physical possibility of an Egyptian military solution.


[Read the Analysis at the Stratfor website, URL above]

[Return to headlines]

Six Libyan Soldiers Killed in Attack Near Sirte

(AGI) — Tripoli, June 25 — Six Libyan soldiers were killed in an attack by gunmen on an army checkpoint at dawn on Tuesday in the town of Khuchum al-Kheil, south of Sirte, the home town of former leader Muammar Gaddafi. “Two vehicles were burned in the attack,” local military officer Khaled al-Akari was quoted as saying by the Lana news agency. The “area was cordoned off and a search is on to find the attackers,” he added.

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

Poll: Most Israeli Arabs Support Violent Uprising

Most Israeli Arabs oppose a Jewish majority, support a Palestinian uprising and want Iran to have nukes.

About 58% of the Arab citizens of Israel say that the Palestinian Authority Arabs would be justified in starting a violent rebellion (“intifada”) if the diplomatic process does not advance. A similar percentage advocate an “intifada” by Israeli Arab citizens if their situation does not improve considerably, according to a poll, which was carried out by Prof. Sami Samoha of Haifa University, with the Israeli Democracy Institute.

The views are in line with the call Monday by an Arab Knesset Member, for an Arab intifada inside Israel.

The poll shows that 63% of Israel’s Arab citizens think Iran should continue its nuclear development, despite the evidence that Iran seeks Israel’s destruction through nuclear weapons.

About 54 percent of the Arabs prefer Israel over any other country as a place to love. And yet, 70% do not accept Israel’s right to maintain a Jewish majority.

While 70% of the Arabs say that the government is treating them like second-class citizens, a full 72% would like the Arab parties in the Knesset to join the coalition — although the Arab MKs themselves oppose this move.

Prof. Samoha said that while the opinions in the Arab sector have become more extreme, “the red lines have not yet been crossed.” However, he warned, “a continued deterioration of relations could cause disquiet and instability.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Henry Kissinger: Balkanized Syria Best Possible Outcome

In a very recent presentation at the Ford School, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger commented on the current Syrian situation, expressing his preference for a broken-up and balkanized Syria to emerge out of the current Assad-controlled unity (from 19 minutes and 30 seconds onward):

“There are three possible outcomes. An Assad victory. A Sunni victory. Or an outcome in which the various nationalities agree to co-exist together but in more or less autonomous regions, so that they can’t oppress each other. That’s the outcome I would prefer to see. But that’s not the popular view.”

After being introduced by the chair as “the honorable Dr. Kissinger”, the 90-year old power-broker began an interesting history lesson. Kissinger detailed how the current state of Syria was designed by European powers, as is the case with the neighboring state of Iraq:


In a December 2008 article it was reported that Kissinger, in an interview with Bilderberg-darling Charlie Rose, “cited the chaos being wrought across the globe by the financial crisis and the spread of terrorism as an opportunity to bolster a new global order.”, Steve Watson wrote.

“I think that when the new administration assesses the position in which it finds itself it will see a huge crisis and terrible problems, but I can see that it could see a glimmer in which it could construct an international system out of it”, Kissinger told Rose some years ago.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Iraq: A Series of Attacks Shakes the Country, A Church Hit in Baghdad

The provisional toll is 41 dead and 125 injured. Attacks hit Baghdad, Mosul, Tikrit and other cities, especially crowded places. So far, no one has claimed responsibility. Unknown attackers fire at St Mary Assyrian Church in east Baghdad. Christian-owned businesses are also targeted. Sources tell AsiaNews that people are starting to be scared.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) — A dozen bombings on Monday in and around Baghdad and north of the city killed at least 41 and wounded 125 others. Many of the attacks struck outdoor markets or restaurants in the Iraqi capital, including the neighbourhoods Al Nasser, Karrada, Al Jihad and Nahrawan. Bombings were also reported in Mosul and Tikrit.

The wave of violence-including gun attacks and suicide bombings-has left more than 2,000 people dead since April, the worse toll in the past five years. Sources told AsiaNews that no one has been spared. Innocent Sunnis, Shias and Christians have fallen victims to a war carried out by unknown extremists.

The security situation appears to reflect Iraq’s ongoing political struggle. The rift among politicians is being exploited by many to sow division and confusion among innocent people.

People in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities have experienced a difficult and bloody night due to car bombs and explosions that left scores dead. The attacks were aimed at outdoor markets and crowed places, and succeeded in destroying many shops, houses and cars.

Christian-owned shops and businesses were among the casualties. The store of Abu Warda, a Chaldean Christian who prepares food in Baghdad’s Karrada neighbourhood, was attacked with a car bomb. One of the employees, Ashur, died in the explosion, leaving a wife and three children. Two other employees were wounded.

In another part of ??the capital, the Sinaa neighbourhood, two car bombs exploded in front of a store owned by Mariana and Rahhim, a Christian couple.

The ferocity of the attacks has not spared religious buildings. Last night, masked men attacked St Mary Assyrian Church, in the east of Baghdad. The attackers were in front of the building and fired wildly at the guards standing outside the building, seriously wounding two of them.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which did not spare other parts of Iraq, nor is it clear why they were carried out. All that is certain is that people are starting to be scared.

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

Islamic Cannibalism

by Ali Salim

The bloody gap between Sunnis and Shi’ites in Islam, growing wider every day, began with the death of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w). Since the day Islam went forth into the world, many people have been converted by the sword swung over their heads. Others converted to acquire some of the infidels’ possessions and there were those, needless to say, who were convinced of the correctness of Islam’s path. There were also, however, many who converted, changed their minds, returned to their original religions and bid Islam goodbye. There were also inter-Islamic confrontations concerning the leadership of the institution of the Caliphate, which made others break away, and they were accused as having deviated from Islam. The Muslims waged wars against these backsliders, to this day called ridda wars.

The ancient argument over the leadership of Islam also gave birth, with bloodshed breathtaking in its cruelty, to the Shi’ite split from Sunni Islam and the deep, abiding hatred that the two opposing schools harbor for one another. To this day that hatred is part of the bloody relations between Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen, to name but a few. Today that hatred and its violence dictate the relations between the Sunni Arab world and the Iranian-led Shi’ites.

One aspect of the conflict is the mass Sunni uprising against Assad’s Alawite regime in Syria (the Alawites are a Shi’ite splinter group. There are general Shi’ite-Sunni religious collisions such as the increasing unrest and mass attacks on Maliki’s Shi’ite regime in Iraq, and the unrest escalating against Hassan Nasrallah, the murderous leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon. They serve as the anvil where the hammer of Shi’ite Iran’s agenda of religious and terrorist expansion is planning to pound the Sunni Islamic countries, most of whose defensive capabilities are chaotic — the result of the collapse of the regimes after the so-called Arab Spring.

The Iranians have a plan for religious imperialism based along ancient Persian nationalistic lines. They have every intention of wiping away the humiliating defeat they suffered in the past at the hands of the Arabs by recreating the Sassanid Empire and taking control of the Middle East.


[Note: Analysis continued at the URL, above]

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Lebanon: 12 Soldiers Killed in Clashes With Salafites

In Sidon, high tension between Sunnis and Shiites

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT — At least 12 soldiers have been killed and some 50 wounded in armed clashes between the army and Sunni Salafite militants in the past 24 hours near Lebanon’s southern port city of Sidon, the official Nna news agency reported on Monday.

According to Nna, the Lebanese army has been besieging since last night a group of armed Salafite militants headed by shaykh Ahmad al-Assir in Abra, close to Sidon, 40 km south of Beirut. The Lebanese news agency said the number of casualties among militants is so far unknown. However security sources cited by other local media outlets said at least three militants have died since yesterday.

Tension has been high for weeks but the situation degenerated after shaykh al-Assir and his militants stormed what they claimed was a home of militants with Hezbollah, the Shiite movement close to Iran which is backing Syria’s government in the civil war there. Hezbollah controls an area stretching from south of Sidon till the temporary border with Israel.

On Sunday morning, after the government army detained a member of al-Assir’s group at a checkpoint, Salafite militants in Abra opened fired on soldiers besieging them. Meanwhile the electric power plant of Zahrani-Aramun close to Sidon along a road on the coast was damaged in the clashes.

Several regions across the country have been without electricity since yesterday.

In an unprecedented video, al-Assir on Sunday called the government army ‘an Iranian, religious army formed by Hezbollah gangs’, asking all ‘noblemen in the army, Sunnis and non-Sunnis’ to desert. He also called on all his supporters across the country to come ‘protect our faith, our women, our honour’.

Sectarian and political tensions seen in Sidon were also inevitably reported in Sunni strongholds north of Tripoli and the eastern Bekaa valley where they were already more marked.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Weekend to Become Saturday and Sunday

To follow the rest of the world, previously on Thursday-Friday

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 24 — Saudi Arabia has decided to move the kingdom’s weekend to Saturday and Sunday from Thursday and Friday in order to follow the economic weekly schedule of most countries worldwide. Up until today, weekends followed religion and tradition and were celebrated Thursday and Friday, a Muslim festivity.

The royal decree published by the official agency Spa and cited by Aps will become effective on Saturday and will concern public institutes, financial institutions, the central bank and Riyadh stock market.

The decision was adopted ‘for the public interest’ so the Saudi official economic week will coincide with that of most countries worldwide. Schools will follow the same schedule starting with the next academic year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Islamic Rules on Working Women Damage Economy

More than a third of women are unemployed. The figure is four times higher than with men. An analyst: “Women in Saudi Arabia represent a huge untapped resource”

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Female unemployment slows the growth of Riyadh. Some analysts argue that the emancipation of women and their greater participation in the world of work would benefit the Saudi economy. More than one in two women are graduates but unemployed in 34% of cases.

In a country where the separation between the sexes is present at every level of public life, women themselves often view the idea of ??working with a man with suspicion. As Lebanese journalist Donna Abu Nasr writes on Bloomberg, “sometimes Saudi women do not even know how to approach a conversation with a member of the opposite sex, this also makes it difficult to carry out a simple job interview.” Added to this the machismo of Saudi society and the strong power exercised by the religious police, the muttawa.

According to David Butter, Middle East expert at the British based Chatham House, participation of women in the labor market advances hand in hand with their social emancipation. “The number of women in Saudi society — the analyst explains — is a great untapped resource. If the kingdom wants to rebalance its economy, one of the first things to do is integrate women into the world of work.”

The data of the Central Department of Statistics testifies, however, to an encouraging trend. From 2009 to 2012, about 150 thousand women over 15 have appeared in the world of work and the first four months of 2013, female unemployment fell by one percentage point. From 35% to 34%. For Aluwaisheg Abdel Aziz, an economist at the Gulf Cooperation Council, these figures are “small” but “significant” and, although Saudi Arabia is the worst country in the world for female employment and remains the only state in the Arabian Peninsula that prohibits women from driving, a slight change is occurring.

King Abdullah, who ascended the throne in 2005, is implementing a slow but effective opening up for women, despite the religious elite being firmly opposed. From 2015, women will vote in municipal elections and two years ago, for the first time in history, a Saudi woman was elected deputy.

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

Syria: Custos of the Holy Land: Fr Fran?ois Mourad Killed by Islamist Insurgents in Al-Ghassaniyah

Fr Pizzaballa talks about the killing of the priest, new martyr in Syria. Fran?ois Mourad was killed during an attack by Islamic fighters against the Monastery of St Anthony, in Idlib province. Until his death, the priest had worked with the Franciscans to alleviate the suffering of Christians and Muslims. Now the village stands completely destroyed.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) — “Fr. Fran?ois Mourad’s killing of is a sad occurrence and a blow to all the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land,” said Fr Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, as he spoke with AsiaNews about the Syrian clergyman who died on Sunday in al-Ghassaniyah, a predominantly Christian village in Jisr al-Shughur District, Idlib province. His funeral was celebrated yesterday in the small village of Kanaieh, a few kilometres from where he was killed.

Until yesterday, there were two versions of the murder, the first spoke about a stray bullet, the second of an actual attack carried out by Islamist insurgents against the Monastery of St Anthony in al-Ghassaniyah.

“The second is the most reliable version,” Fr Pizzaballa said. “From the photos and the testimony of our religious, the rebels attacked the village in past few weeks, forcing most residents to flee.”

The Monastery of St Anthony was the only safe haven, where Fr Fran?ois lived along with some Franciscan friars, four nuns and ten lay Christians. But on Sunday, rebels part of a fringe extremist Islamic group, stormed that place too.”

According to the Custos of the Holy Land, Islamists broke into the convent, looted it and destroyed everything. When Fr Fran?ois tried to defend the nuns and other people, the gunmen shot him dead.

“Right now, the village is completely deserted,” Fr Pizzaballa said. “Rebels have moved there with their families and occupied the houses still standing.”

“Let us pray that this absurd and shameful war ends soon and that the people of Syria can get back to a normal life soon,” he said.

Hailing from a village in the province of Latakia in northwestern Syria, Fr Fran?ois Mourad, 49, was trained by the Franciscan Fathers in the Holy Land.

Feeling called to a more contemplative life at the end of the 90s, he left the Franciscans to complete his studies with the Trappists of Latrun (Palestine).

Once back in Syria, he was ordained priest by the Syriac Catholic bishop of Al-Hasakah on the Syrian side of the Al-Jazira region.

In recent years, he launched a new monastic foundation, inspired by Saint Simon and founded a small monastery of contemplative life in Hwar, Aleppo province, devoting himself to the training of some young postulants, all Syrians.

He was in Hwar until this year when fighting between Islamic rebels and regime forced him to take refuge in al-Ghassaniyah, on the Orontes River, guest of the local Franciscan monastery.

Until his death, he worked together with the friars to bring relief to the Christian and Muslim residents of the area. (S.C.)

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

The Sex Jihad

By Raymond Ibrahim

News emerged a few weeks ago in Arabic media that yet another fatwa had called on practicing Muslim women to travel to Syria and offer their sexual services to the jihadis fighting to overthrow the secularist Assad government and install Islamic law. Reports attribute the fatwa to Saudi sheikh Muhammad al-’Arifi, who, along with other Muslim clerics earlier permitted jihadis to rape Syrian women.

Muslim women prostituting themselves in this case is being considered a legitimate jihad because such women are making sacrifices—their chastity, their dignity—in order to help apparently sexually-frustrated jihadis better focus on the war to empower Islam in Syria.

And it is prostitution—for they are promised payment, albeit in the afterlife. The Koran declares that “Allah has purchased of the believers their persons [their bodies] and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain (Yusuf Ali trans. 9:111).

On the basis of this fatwa, several young Tunisian Muslim girls traveled to Syria to be “sex-jihadis.” Video interviews of distraught parents bemoaning their daughters’ fates are on the Internet, including one of a father and mother holding a picture of their daughter: “She’s only 16—she’s only 16! They brainwashed her!” pleads the father.

Most recently, the Egyptian-based news service Masrawy published a video interview with “Aisha,” one of the Tunisian Muslim girls who went sex-jihading in Syria, only to regret her actions. While in Tunisia, Aisha said she met a Muslim woman who began talking to her about the importance of piety, including wearing the hijab; she then went on to talk about traveling to Syria to help the jihadis “fight and kill infidels” and make Allah’s word supreme, adding that “women who die would do so in the way of Allah and become martyrs and enter paradise.” (According to mainstream Islamic teaching, dying in jihad is the only guaranteed way to avoid hell.)

Aisha eventually came to the conclusion that she was being exploited in the name of religion and left.

While news that Muslim girls in hijabs are prostituting themselves in the name of Islam may surprise some, Islamic clerics regularly issue fatwas permitting forbidden things—so long as they help the jihad. For instance, not only did the original “underwear bomber” Abdullah Hassan al-Asiri hide explosives in his rectum to assassinate Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayef—they met in 2009 after the 22-year-old Asiri “feigned repentance for his jihadi views”—but, according to Shi’ite talk-show host Abdullah Al-Khallaf, he had fellow jihadis sodomize him to “widen” his anus to fit more explosives.


[NOTE: UGH.The brutal perversion of sexuality appears to be an Islamic obsession]

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Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Praises Police’s Intervention in Gezi Protests as ‘Heroic’

The Turkish police have written a heroic story during the Gezi Park interventions, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today, addressing a Police Academy graduation ceremony in Ankara.

“It is something that only our police could succeed at, continuing their work for 48 hours without eating or drinking anything,” Erdogan said.

Ruling out claims that the Turkish police had used excessive force during the unrest in the country since May 31, which has resulted in the deaths of three protesters and one police officer and the injury of nearly 5,000 people, Erdogan said, “The Turkish police have been quite tolerant of the protests since the very beginning.”

“No sabotage and no provocation can return Turkey to those days when security-based polices dominated the country,” Erdogan said.

“We have to keep a fragile balance: assure security and stay within the rule of law,” Erdogan added.

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

Putin Rules Out Extradition for Leak Suspect in Russia Airport

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia offered the first direct confirmation on Tuesday that Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive American national security contractor, was in a transit area at a Moscow airport, and he appeared to rule out American requests for his extradition to the United States.

Speaking at a news conference while on an official visit to Finland, Mr. Putin offered no new information on where Mr. Snowden might be headed from the international transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. But he said Mr. Snowden had broken no Russian laws and that Russian security officials had not made contact with him.

“The Russian special services are not engaged with him and will not be engaged,” Mr. Putin said, according to the government-financed Russia Today news site.

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Russia Angrily Rejects Obama Admin Snowden Demands

Moscow — Russia’s foreign minister on Tuesday bluntly rejected U.S. demands to extradite National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, who has apparently stopped in Moscow while trying to evade U.S. justice, saying that Snowden hasn’t crossed the Russian border.

Sergey Lavrov insisted that Russia has nothing to do with him or his travel plans. Lavrov wouldn’t say where Snowden is, but he angrily lashed out at the U.S. for demanding his extradition and warnings of negative consequences if Moscow fails to comply.

“We consider the attempts to accuse Russia of violation of U.S. laws and even some sort of conspiracy, which on top of all that are accompanied by threats, as absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable,” Lavrov said. “There are no legal grounds for such conduct of U.S. officials, and we proceed from that.”…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy’s Foreign Minister ‘Not Hopeful’ About Taliban Talks

‘Forces necessary to stabilize region’ says Bonino

(ANSA) — Luxembourg, June 24 — Italy’s foreign minister on Monday said she “did not have much hope” in the nascent peace talks with Taliban leaders in Doha. Emma Bonino was speaking at the European Union Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg joined by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Last week the Taliban announced it was willing to hold discussions in Doha, Qatar with United State officials, raising optimism for negotiations to end the 12-year-old war in Afghanistan.

Hopes were dampened when the Afghan government objected to official plaques and the Taliban flag being installed at the militants’ new Doha office. The regalia, which Kabul complained lent the militants legitimacy, was removed late last week after much diplomatic intervention.

The foreign minister also repeated her conviction that there is no chance of stabilizing Afghanistan “only from within and without a force to stabilize the entire region”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

China Seeks Greater Influence in Arctic Region

A relative latecomer, Beijing cozies up to Nordic nations in a bid to increase its influence in a region rich in oil and natural gas reserves

China will set up a joint Arctic research centre in Shanghai with Danish, Icelandic and Norwegian institutions, building on improving diplomatic ties with Nordic countries, as it bids to raise its stake in the faraway but resource-rich region.

The China-Nordic Arctic Research Centre, whose launch plan was announced in Shanghai in early June, may signal new intentions in Beijing’s foreign policy, analysts say. Beijing has yet to articulate an official Arctic strategy, but it has become firmer in its polar ambitions.

The Shanghai-based Polar Research Institute of China (PRIC), which is behind the collaborative China-Nordic research centre and will fund it, was reluctant to comment on the centre’s missions, saying planning was still in the initial stage.

The move comes only weeks after China became one of six new countries granted permanent observer status at the Arctic Council.

While the major Arctic powers — the United States, Canada and Russia — have generally been cautious about outside membership, China’s inclusion was at least partially due to solid support from Nordic nations. China may not have voting rights, but is now allowed to take part in debates regarding the fate of the Arctic.

Mainland analysts have referred to China, a country roughly 1,450 kilometres from the Arctic Circle at its nearest point, as “near Arctic” and a “stakeholder”, apparently indicating Beijing believes it has a natural role to play in the Arctic.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

‘Digital Dementia’ On the Rise as Young People Increasingly Rely on Technology Instead of Their Brain

Doctors have reported a surge in cases of ‘digital dementia’ among young people.

They say that teenagers have become so reliant on digital technology they are no longer able to remember everyday details such as their phone numbers.

South Korean experts have found that those who rely more on technology suffer a deterioration in cognitive abilities more commonly seen in patients who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness.

‘Over-use of smartphones and game devices hampers the balanced development of the brain,’ Byun Gi-won, a doctor at the Balance Brain Centre in Seoul, told the JoongAng Daily newspaper.

‘Heavy [technology] users are likely to develop the left side of their brains, leaving the right side untapped or underdeveloped,’ he said.

The right side of the brain is associated with concentration and underdevelopment affects attention and memory span, which could in as many as 15 per cent of cases lead to the early onset of dementia.

[Commenter: That’s OK. The NSA will be able to jog their memories with all of their personal data they’ve stored. — The Common Purpose , Managed Decline, United Kingdom, 24/6/2013 21:04]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Illegal Immigration = More Identity Theft, More Murder, More Rape and More Drug Dealing

Do we want to encourage drug dealers, violent gang members and serial rapists to come into this country? If not, why is that exactly what the Obama administration is doing? Thanks to very foolish U.S. government policies, it is incredibly difficult to immigrate to this country legally, but it is incredibly easy to immigrate to this country illegally. So we are keeping out large numbers of good, honest, hard working people at the same time that we have given a giant green light to criminals and lawbreakers. Does that make any sense at all? We need an immigration system that forces everyone to come in through the front door.

Instead, we have made the process of getting in through the front door a complete and total nightmare and yet we have left the back door totally wide open. And if the millions upon millions of lawbreakers that are coming in to this country illegally just took our jobs and drained our welfare system, perhaps it wouldn’t be that bad. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In fact, illegal immigration has greatly contributed to rising violent crime rates all over the nation. Gang membership is exploding, Mexican drug cartels are operating in more of our communities than ever before, and identity theft by illegal immigrants is at epidemic levels. Something desperately needs to be done.

But instead, the Obama administration is trying to ram amnesty for illegal immigrants through Congress as quickly as possible. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill will cause unemployment to go up and wages to go down for many years. And by rewarding illegal immigration, the federal government will just encourage much more of it. But our politicians don’t really seem concerned with the consequences. In fact, the Senate is going to vote on the immigration bill without even reading it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy: Integration of Roma is the Way Forward, Says Kyenge

Minister pushes for minority’s interaction with Turin citizens

(ANSA) — Turin, June 24 — The city of Turin is having trouble coping with its 4,000 Roma, but the national government will lend a hand, Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge said on Monday.

“We hear Turin’s cry for help. The city won’t be left on its own”, Kyenge said at a City Hall meeting with Mayor Piero Fassino (Democratic Party — PD), Sinti and Roma community representatives and cultural mediators. “We will work jointly with communities and institutions to remedy the problem. The objective is integration and helping people out of the camps”.

There are currently 4,000 Roma people living in 13 Turin camps, of which nine are illegal settlements not authorized or built by the State. Social services and integration councillors Elide Tisi and Ilda Curti also attended the meeting.

Kyenge also met separately with councillors from the anti-immigration Northern League. “It was a turning point, a very important meeting”, said Kyenge, who has recently suffered racist slurs by Northern League representatives and supporters. “Dialogue is always useful when it takes place within the boundaries of respect for the opinions of others and of the institutions”. “We must not criminalize ethnicity”, the minister went on. “We must judge the crime and the individual perpetrator.

Much depends on the opportunities we are granted. And I can’t stress this enough: integration means interaction”. “Our city is committed to finding a solution based on integration and civility”, the mayor added. “Clearly this effort needs the support of other institutions, at the regional and the national level”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Ramming Amnesty Through the Senate

Unelected Obama appointees will have unprecedented power to control the border

On Monday, the United States Senate passed a procedural vote on the so-called “border surge” deal brokered by Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) that paves the way for passage of the entire comprehensive immigration reform bill later this week. The vote was 67-27.

Despite the objections of 14 GOP Senators who expressed their frustration in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, noting that additional amendments weren’t getting heard, the so-called Corker-Haven amendment is likely the last major change that will be added to the bill. That is due to the reality that any additional amendments would require a unanimous agreement to bring them to a vote. “We could have had three genuine weeks on this bill, processing amendments and having votes,” said Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Yet, we’re forced to vote on packages that were concocted behind closed doors.”

It is worse than that. This amendment, which is essentially the entire bill, is yet another neon-bright example of the utter contempt our elected officials have for the American electorate. One would think the overwhelming disgust registered by the public regarding Obamacare — passed into law despite the fact that not a single lawmaker read it in its entirety before casting a vote — would have prevented such an insult from occurring again. That, however, was not the case. Last Friday afternoon at around 2:30 p.m. EDT, 14 senators introduced the 1,190-page amendment. Since the vote took place at around 7:00 p.m. Monday, senators were given just over 76 hours to read the entire bill. Moreover, since the amendment makes references to other statutes, as well as the changes to those statues, the supplemental reading made an already herculean task virtually impossible to accomplish…

In other words, despite all the promises, a vast swath of this bill comes down to nothing more than giving the unelected DHS Secretary, currently Janet Napolitano, the kind of discretionary power that one would expect to be granted to the officials of a banana republic.If such discretionary power sounds familiar, that’s because in ObamaCare, vast swaths of that bill’s sections are completely beholden to the discretionary decisions of the unelected Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, currently Kathleen Sebelius. Her most recent discretionary effort was to deny a dying 10-year-old girl a desperately needed lung transplant, until a judge ruled otherwise.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

New Book Reveals How KGB Operation Seeded Muslim Countries

The highest-ranking Soviet-bloc intelligence officer ever to defect to the West claims in a new book that anti-American Islamic terrorism had its roots in a secret 1970s-era KGB plot to harm but the United States and Israel by seeding Muslim countries with carefully targeted propaganda.

Yuri Andropov, the KGB chief for 15 years before he became the Soviet premier, sent hundreds of agents and thousands of copies of propaganda literature to Muslim countries.

‘By 1972,’ according to the book, ‘Andropov’s disinformation machinery was working around the clock to persuade the Islamic world that Israel and the United States intended to transform the rest of the world into a Zionist fiefdom.’

‘According to Andropov, the Islamic world was a petri dish in which the KGB community could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred, grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought.’

Those claims come from former Romanian Lt. Gen Ion Mihail Pacepa and University of Mississippi law professor Ronald Rychlak.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Transhumanism Debunked: Why Drinking the Kurzweil Kool-Aid Will Only Make You Dead, Not Immortal

(NaturalNews) In this article, I’m going to reveal how transhumanism is a dangerous, irrational death cult shrouded in the language of geeky cybernetics. In fact, the entire idea that you can “upload your mind to a computer” is complete junk science quackery, as you’ll soon see.

In case you’re new to the term, “transhumanism” means uploading your mind to a machine, discarding your body, then achieving immortality by living forever through machines and robots. Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, has been pushing this cult for many years, and just recently he promised that by 2045, humanity would achieve what he calls the “singularity,” where our minds can be uploaded to computers. (Click here for the source of this claim.) In less than a century, Kurzweil says, we could all discard our “fragile” human bodies and inhabit advanced robotic systems as our new immortal selves.

Kurzweil’s cult is so bizarre and dangerous that following it can only lead to a lunatrocity of mass death and deception. Kurzweil’s sci-fi cybernetic mind-meld theories are so outlandish that they make Scientology’s galactic narratives sound like Christian Sunday school.

Where to even begin the debunking of it all? Let’s start with its claims…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

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