Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/8/2013

Tonight’s news feed is a hodge-podge, a mixture of items from yesterday and today. Yesterday’s news had to be held over due to our Internet outage (and the flu).

A large percentage of tonight’s stories are about the growing NSA eavesdropping scandal, which seems to reflect the level of coverage given the topic by the MSM. It’s too early to tell whether President Obama will be brought down by this one, or whether it will blow over, as all the previous ones have.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Caroline Glick, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, JP, Kitman, McR, MS, Steen, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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

Financial Crisis
» European Commission: Who Still Listens to Brussels?
» Feds Spent $800,000 of Economic Stimulus on African Genital-Washing Program
» Italian Service Sector Turnover Down 5.3% in First Quarter
» Italy in Very Clear Credit Crunch
» Italy: Construction Company Owner Commits Suicide Due to Debts
» Italy Risks Social ‘Revolt’ Says Head of Young Employers
» Spain: Number of Jobless Down by 100,000 in May
» We Did Make Greece’s Debt Crisis Worse With Brutal Cuts and Tax Hikes, IMF Admits as Greeks Say They ‘Can’t Forgive’ Officials for Making Recession Worse
» Airline Kicks 100 Jewish Students Off Plane for Not Putting Away Phones
» Big Brother is Tapping Your Mobile Phone: Obama Admits NSA Routinely Spying on All Verizon Phone Customers in the USA
» Data Mining ‘America, Superpower of the Covert Spy World’
» DHS Insider: It’s About to Get Very Ugly
» Did Comet Impacts Spur Life on Earth?
» GM’s $9,800 Car… The One We’re Not Allowed to Buy
» Graduation Melee: A Whole New Definition for Kindergarten Cops
» Hayward School to Sponsor Toy Gun Exchange
» How Google, Facebook, Skype, Yahoo and AOL Are All Blatantly Lying to Their Own Users in Denying NSA Spy Grid Scheme
» IRS Scandal Makes Obamacare an Even Tougher Sell — Roger Arnoff
» Legendary Columbia Professor Never Heard of Obama
» Make Room for Islamistgate: The Obama Administration’s New Scandal — Barry Rubin
» Nebraska School Officials Want Boy Named ‘Hunter’ To Change His Name
» New Xbox by NSA Partner Microsoft Will Watch You 24/7
» NSA Dragnet Debacle: What it Means to IT
» NSA Memo Pushed to ‘Rethink’ 4th Amendment
» Obama Defends Surveillance Programs as Legal and Limited
» Orlando Muslims Seek Ramadan Donations
» Pelosi: “I Don’t Remember Saying That Everybody in the Country Would Have a Lower Premium”
» People Power Against the Department of Justice
» Senator Lamar Alexander: Neo-Con Trotskyite, Part 3
» Spy State Shock: Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Facebook, Skype, AOL, Apple All Secretly Sharing Private User Communications With NSA
» Survey of American Students Finds Strong Interest in Italy
» The Real Reason Obama Tapped Susan Rice for National Security Adviser
Europe and the EU
» 40 Foreign Rapists Enter UK in a Year… But Police Pledge to Kick Out Violent Foreigners
» Britain May be an Islamic Nation Within 20 Years
» Britain’s Largest Luxury Yachtmaker Sunseeker Set to be Sold to Chinese Property Group for £300m
» Britain’s Top Guns: Previously-Unseen Photographs Reveal High-Life of RAF Pilots in Cockpit of Fascinating 1,320mph Typhoon Aircraft
» British Muslims Campaign Against Airport Harassment
» Croatia: EU on the Home Stretch Amid Crisis, Indifference
» EU Not ‘Greatly Interested’ In Iceland
» France Urges EU to Stop Spat With China Over Wine
» France: Veterans Gather in Normandy to Mark D-Day
» Germans on Italian Island Appeal to Merkel for Electricity
» Greek Prison Director’s Booby-Trapped Car Explosion Injures One
» Grillo Says Current Italian Parliament is ‘Empty Can’
» Israeli Wrestler Attacked by Egyptian Rival
» Italian Newspapers Fighting for Survival
» Italy: PdL Steady at Top, PD Down a Bit, M5S Up a Tad Says Poll
» Italy: Police Seize 2.5 sq km Illegal Subdivision Near Naples
» Italy Likely to Ban Electronic Cigarettes in Schools
» Scotland: Alex Salmond’s Dream of a Separate Scotland is Rapidly Falling Apart
» Scotland: UKIP Politician to Visit Mosque Snubbed by Pupils
» Spy Scandal to Impact Talks on EU-US Data Treaty
» UK: Anti-EDL Bomb Plot ‘A Reaction to Calculated Insults’
» UK: Baroness Warsi: London Can be Islam’s Global Financial Centre
» UK: Choudary ‘To Lose Benefits’
» UK: EDL’s Tommy Robinson Outside Court for Islamic Extremists Bomb Plot Sentencing
» UK: Eight Years Minimum for Dangerous Teenage Paedophile Who Raped 11-Year-Old Girl in a Park While on Probation
» UK: Gang Wearing Full-Length Burkas Caught on Video Running Through Selfridges During Smash-and-Grab Axe Raid Before Getaway on Scooters (Partially Foiled by Have-a-Go Shoppers)
» UK: How Britain Could Leave the ECHR
» UK: Islamist Gang That Wanted to Start War With the EDL: Bomb Attack Would Have Sparked ‘Spiral of Terror’ With Far-Right
» UK: Ipswich: Support to Honour Woolwich Heroine Ingrid Loyau-Kennett
» UK: Lewes Friend of Tragic Soldier Lee Rigby Speaks of Heartbreak
» UK: Mother, 30, Posed as Her Daughter Online to Trap a Pervert Who Was Trying to Arrange Sex With Her 12-Year-Old
» UK: Mosque Leaders: We Are Willing to Sit Down With EDL
» UK: Patients Shun NHS for Clinics Run by Polish GPS: Cut-Price Private Surgeries Where You Can See a Doctor Seven Days a Week
» UK: Robust Policing Set for Lincoln Anti-Mosque Protest
» UK: Selfridges Robbery: ‘Men in Burkas’ In ‘Smash and Grab’
» UK: Six Muslims to be Sentenced Over EDL Attack
» UK: Unite Against Fascism’s Mosque Vigil Redux
» UK: Wind Farms Are a ‘Complete Scam’, Claims the Environment Secretary Who Says Plans for Turbines Are Causing ‘Huge Unhappiness’
» Why Sweden Has Riots
North Africa
» Egypt: Tourism Won’t be Affected if June 30 Protests Are Peaceful — Minister
» Intellectuals Protest Against the Islamization of Egyptian Culture
» Kerry’s Secret Gift to Egypt
» Landmine Kills 2 Soldiers, Injures 2 in Tunisia
» Morocco: Rebeca Grynspan — Remarks at the Regional Seminar on ‘The Evolving Relationship Between Citizens and Parliaments in the Arab World’
Israel and the Palestinians
» Caroline Glick: Wounded… And Dangerous
» Palestinians Unite Behind Gaza Refugee on Course to Become Arab Idol
Middle East
» 10 Killed, 53 Wounded in Iraq’s Violence
» 2 Gunmen Killed in Clash With Lebanese Army
» Al-Qaeda Calls on Syrian Rebels to Build Anti-Western State
» Iran: Reformist Presidential Candidate Banned From Holding Electoral Rally
» Not Enough Executioners for Saudi Arabia’s Death Row Inmates
» Red Flags Over Turkish Rioters
» Saudi Arabia: Convicted Murder Beheaded With Ceremonial Sword
» Syria: Can David Cameron Explain Why He Has Put us on Al-Qaeda’s Side?
» Syria: ‘Pro-Government Forces Going After Fleeing Rebels’
» Syria: Al-Qusair Churches Show the Signs of the War Against Assad and of the Religious Hatred of the Rebels
» Syria: War Casualties: Girls Bought by Perverted Saudis
» Syrian Troops Recapture Border Crossing at Golan Heights After Fierce Fighting
» Syria: Peacekeepers in Disarray as Austrians Withdraw From Golan Heights
» The Truth About Erdogan: Turkey’s ‘Other 50 Percent’ Demand a Voice
» Turkey: Erdogan Speech Risks Inflaming Protest
» Turkey’s Ruling Party in No Danger Amid Protests
» Turkey Redux
» US Communists Back Turkish Rioters, Trying to Enlist Congressional Support
» As Russia Re-Arms in the North, NATO Does Nothing
» Exclusive! Part 1: Former KGB Colonel Victor Kalashnikov on the Dangers of Putin Worship
» Russian President Putin, Wife Announce Divorce
South Asia
» Bangladesh: Dinajpur: Dozens of Extremists Raid Seminary, Attacking Rector and Some Students
» Car Bomb Hits NATO Base in Afghan Helmand Province
» Pakistan: U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Key Al-Qaeda Bomb Maker
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Black Population in South Africa Has Increased by 920% in 100 Years
» Communication Blackout, Rights Abuses in Nigeria’s Emergency States
» Fighting Erupts in Northern Mali
» South Sudan Switches From Arabic Textbooks to English
Latin America
» China Enters Into a “Strategic Partnership” With Mexico
» Cornyn Opens a New Front in Immigration Fight — Byron York
» France Has Too Many Immigrants, Says Francois Fillon
» UK: We Must Stop the Migrant Invasion: Voters Demand Effective Border Control
Culture Wars
» 20 Completely Ridiculous College Courses Being Offered at U.S. Universities
» Grooming the New Totalitarians
» More Expletives, Vicar? Church of England Priest Calls Archbishop of Canterbury a ‘W****r’ In Row Over Gay Marriage
» Obese Black Holes Outshone Stars in Earliest Galaxies
» The Beginning of the End of the West
» Where to Look for Life on Jupiter’s Moon Europa
» World’s Muslim Population More Widespread Than You Might Think

European Commission: Who Still Listens to Brussels?

El País Madrid

Over the years, the European Commission’s recommendations to member states on how to push through economic reforms have proliferated. National leaders, though, bow more readily to market pressures and provisions of bailout plans, all of which undermines the authority and credibility of the EU executive.

Claudi Pérez

Figuring out what Europe needs is relatively easy: reforms in peripheral member states and growth plans to compensate for what comes out of Brussels, Berlin and wherever else; a full banking union; and a European Central Bank that could serve as lender of last resort. The European institutions have taken steps in that direction, but when it comes to enacting reforms, the question is how to bell the cat.

The Commission has just recommended that France reform its pension plans, that the Netherlands prick its real estate bubble, that Germany prop up domestic demand, that Belgium trim spending, that Slovenia fix its banks and that Spain continue to do almost all of the above at the same time, like an acrobat spinning twenty plates on sticks. It all makes sense, but there is just one problem: almost no one lifts a finger unless forced to do so by market pressure or by the terms of rescue plans.

Year after year, the desk drawers at the Commission have been filling up with similar advice. Despite rules and sanctions being stronger than ever before, no country has paid much attention to them. Member states know that, in the end, the decisions come down from the European Council — that is, from national leaders. In practice, serious political problems stand in the way of these reforms, considering the rising unemployment, worsening recession and growing unrest across Europe.

“Brussels has inherited a credibility problem from its distant past, when Berlin and Paris breached the stability pact,” says a French government source. “But its recent past is even worse: its recipes have been a disaster, its obsession with deficits has failed to address the real problem of competitiveness, and its excessive insistence on austerity has plunged the eurozone into recession. Why would leaders be in any hurry to bring in the reforms, considering the dissatisfaction coming out of this self-inflicted recession?”

Brussels is sending out a mixed message, calling for less austerity and more reforms. The Commission asserts its message lends flexibility to its economic policy; its critics argue that, in the absence of a clear direction, the message offers permissiveness. There is more leeway for countries that have made adjustments, but also considerable slack for those who have not….

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

Feds Spent $800,000 of Economic Stimulus on African Genital-Washing Program

( — The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), spent $823,200 of economic stimulus funds in 2009 on a study by a UCLA research team to teach uncircumcised African men how to wash their genitals after having sex.

The genitalia-washing program is part of a larger $12-million UCLA study examining how to better encourage Africans to undergo voluntary HIV testing and counseling — however, only the penis-washing study received money from the 2009 economic stimulus law. The washing portion of the study is set to end in 2011.

“NIH Announces the Availability of Recovery Act Funds for Competitive Revision Applications,” the grant abstract states. “We propose to evaluate the feasibility of a post-coital genital hygiene study among men unwilling to be circumcised in Orange Farm, South Africa.”

Because AIDS researchers have been unsuccessful in convincing most adult African men to undergo circumcision, the UCLA study proposes to determine whether researchers can develop an after-sex genitalia-washing regimen that they can then convince uncircumcised African men to follow.

“The aim of the proposed feasibility study is to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a post-coital male genital hygiene procedure, which participants will be asked to practice immediately post-coitus or at least 12 hours after,” reads the abstract.

Entitled “Community-Based HIV VCT: South Africa,” the name of the broader umbrella project, the program plans to test how well received the penis-washing regimen is among South African men.

If most of the men in the study wash their genitals after sex, are willing to do so after the study ends, and report that their partners accept the regimen, the researchers will develop another study to see if the “penile cleansing procedure” actually works to prevent HIV infections.

“If we find that men are able to practice consistent washing practices after sex, we will plan to test whether this might protect men from becoming HIV infected in a later study,” the grant says.

The study’s lead investigator Dr. Thomas J. Coates was the fourth highest-funded researcher in the country in 2002 and is currently conducting HIV research on three continents. asked both Coates and NIMH the following question: “The Census Bureau says the median household income in the United States is $52,000. How would you explain to the average American mom and dad — who make $52,000 per year — that taxing them to pay for this grant was justified?”

Coates, who was unavailable for comment, directed to ask grant-related questions of his assistant, Darya Freedman, who did not respond.

The NIMH also declined to respond to’s question

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Italian Service Sector Turnover Down 5.3% in First Quarter

Trade and repair of motor vehicles down 6.3%

(ANSA) — Rome, June 5 — The turnover of recession-hit Italy’s service sector fell 5.3% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same three months in 2012, Istat said Monday.

The national statistics agency said the worst-hit areas were the trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (down 6.3%), information and communication services (down 6.2%), and accomodation and food service activities (down 4.5%).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy in Very Clear Credit Crunch

Another year of recession to come, says standard & poors

(By Kate Carlisle) (ANSA) — Milan, June 6 — Standard & Poor’s chief economist for Europe, Jean-Michel Six, said Thursday that “Italy is in a very clear situation of credit crunch”. He added that 2013 will be another year of recession for the country, with the ratings agency forecasting negative growth of 1.5% this year. “In 2014 we’ll see the start of a very weak recovery,” Six said at a conference in Milan. “The basis for a real recovery can come, above all, from true monetary, banking and fiscal coordination (in the eurozone)”.

Italy’s credit crunch is expanding beyond medium and large enterprise and bleeding into small businesses too, Standard & Poor’s director of corporate ratings in Italy said on Thursday. “Until now, difficulty accessing credit effected predominately medium and large companies, but now it has become a problem for all,” Standard & Poor’s Renato Panichi said. “Italy remains ‘bankcentric’ but company bonds will increase significantly,” Panichi said. “There are a lot of opportunities for Italian companies, but we are still a little behind other competitor countries,” the rating agency’s southern Europe director, Maria Pierdicchi, said. “While it is true that our companies and production are different, smaller and more fragmented, we have many fine businesses that could successfully access corporate bonds,” Pierdicchi said.

Bank loans in Italy to households and non-financial companies dropped 3.1% in April with respect to the same month in 2012, falling to 1.458 billion euros, according to the monthly report by Italian banking association ABI released on Tuesday.

Overall bank loans, including lending to financial companies and the public sector, decreased by 2.12% to 1.907 billion in April.

Consumer spending has been muffled too in recession-hit Italy fell 3.9% in April with respect to the same month in 2012, retailers association Confcommercio said Thursday.

It was the 17th year-on-year drop in the last 20 months, Confcommercio said.

The association added that consumer spending was down 0.1% in April compared to March and that it dropped 4.4% in the first third of this year with respect to the first four months of 2012.

It pointed out that this is alarming as the figure for the first third of 2012 was already 3.3% down on the same period in 2011.

“The deterioration of households’ employment and income conditions is causing demand dynamics that are even more negative in this first part of 2013 than they were in the first few months of 2012,” read a report by the association. Confcommercio said it was particularly worried about the fall in spending on telecommunications goods and services, which was down 2.5% in April with respect to March and 0.1% with respect to April 2012. Spending in this sector had frequently bucked the negative trend in recent months and managed to rise.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Construction Company Owner Commits Suicide Due to Debts

Man, 62, killed himself in warehouse adjacent to his residence

(ANSA) Treviso, June 6. The owner of a construction company in Mareno di Piave (Treviso), overburdened with debts, killed himself on Thursday by shooting himself in the head. The 62-year old man, who committed suicide in a warehouse adjacent to his residence in the northern Italian town, may have carried out the desperate measure over debts by third-party creditors failing to make payments to him that were due.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Risks Social ‘Revolt’ Says Head of Young Employers

Morelli says government must focus on business taxes, not IMU

(ANSA) — Santa Margherita Ligure, June 7 — Soaring jobless rates and the lack of prospects for young people mean politicians could soon face a social “revolt” in Italy, the head of a young employers group warned Friday.

Jacopo Morelli called on Italy’s government to take substantial measures to reform the tax system, improve equality in the name of economic efficiency, and demonstrate the courage necessary to deal with a myriad of problems plaguing business and economy.

“They (the politicians) have emptied tomorrow of hope and filled the present with anguish,” said the head of the young employers’ branch of influential industrial confederation Confindustria.

“Without prospects for the future, the only prospect becomes revolt”.

More than 40% of Italian 15-to-24 year-olds are out of work while businesses are shutting down all over the country and the rate of start-ups is at an all-time low.

Many of the best young Italian minds and talents are leaving the country while those who stay face the bleakest job prospects in decades and the impossibility of starting families, amid widespread talk of a ‘lost generation’.

Morelli said Premier Enrico Letta’s new government, which has vowed to revive an economy in its longest recession for 20 years, must help Italian entrepreneurs and workers “pursue together development, growth and social cohesion”.

As a starting point, government must quickly address the lack of business confidence that stems from fears about the stability of the government and the economy, said Morelli.

Staggering job losses, falling industrial production and concerns over government stability all undermine business prospects.

“No entrepreneur can work if he does not have security…Whatever the company, it demands confidence”.

That also means government must focus more attention on business and labour taxes, and worry less about the controversial IMU property tax, Morelli told a two-day conference of young business leaders.

Another high priority must be closing the “wound” of tax evasion and corruption, which undermines confidence in the government and its economy, he added.

The loss of 120 billion euro to tax evasion and another 60 billion euro to corruption kill respect for the government and force legitimate businessmen and tax payers to make up the difference, said Morelli.

The hated IMU has become a serious problem for Letta as ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s PdL has threatened to bring down the new government if it doesn’t eliminate the IMU.

Italian business also needs the labour provided by immigrants as well as greater certainty in the laws surrounding newcomers to the country, said Morelli, wading into a major debate in Italy over possible liberalization of immigration laws.

New immigrants should be treated more equally — as should women and any other group that has been marginalized, said Morelli.

Moves in this direction should not be feared but welcomed as good for business and the economy, he added.

“An unequal country is an inefficient country,” he said, adding that inequality “impoverishes everyone”.

He noted that the uncertainties and struggles that Italy faces today are not so different from those faced more than 500 years ago, when Italian political thinker Machiavelli wrote The Prince, an innovative treatise on government.

“In the summer of 1513, Machiavelli began writing The Prince in an Italy plagued by uncertainties and struggles,” said Morelli.

“Today, after 500 years, similarities are (still) there”. And that should serve as a wake-up call to government to do more to move Italy away from the fear and uncertainty the economy faces today. “When the future is fear, when inequality threatens our society…there comes a time, and that time is now,” to stop wasting opportunities for dramatic economic and fiscal reforms, he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: Number of Jobless Down by 100,000 in May

For third consecutive month but 3,75% up from 2012

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 4 — The number of unemployed workers in Spain fell by 98.265 units over the last month, reaching 4.890.928 people registered in unemployment lists, the labour and social security ministry said on Tuesday. This is the third consecutive month during which the number of jobless in Spain has decreased though the overall percentage remains among the highest in the European Union at 26,5%. On an annual basis, however, unemployed workers have risen by 3,75% — 176.806 units.

Labour Under Secretary Engracia Hidalgo told a press conference that the new data showed the first signs of economic recovery. ‘A few months ago increases reached up to 12 percentage points’, said Hidalgo. ‘There is now an enormous decrease signalling the presence of symptoms connected to recovery’. The new situation is mostly connected to the number of new contracts in May: 1.283.261, most of which (91.5%) were seasonal due to the beginning of the summer season, Hidalgo admitted. Indeed the highest number of contracts were signed in Andalusia, Catalonia and Valencia. Last Saturday Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy announced positive developments for the labour market at an economic gathering saying that ‘I am not very inclined to speak about green buds or end of the crisis around the corner but I invite you to look at the most recent data and unemployment trends which will be released on Tuesday’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

We Did Make Greece’s Debt Crisis Worse With Brutal Cuts and Tax Hikes, IMF Admits as Greeks Say They ‘Can’t Forgive’ Officials for Making Recession Worse

A war of words broke out between the International Monetary Fund and the EU yesterday over its bungled bailout of Greece.

The IMF admitted to ‘notable failures’ in the handling of the Greek crisis and accused European officials of being more concerned with saving the euro than rescuing the debt-ridden country.

The Fund, headed by Christine Lagarde, said it was forced to break its own rules for providing financial assistance to bankrupt countries because EU leaders refused to take action to solve the crisis.

The IMF report, drawn up by staff at the watchdog’s headquarters in Washington, triggered a furious response in Brussels where the European Commission said it was ‘plainly wrong and unfounded’.

A spokesman for Olli Rehn, European commissioner for economic affairs, said: ‘We fundamentally disagree.’

Britain was forced to find more than £1billion to prop up Greece, and in turn the euro, through the UK’s membership of the IMF. Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Taxpayers were roped into bailing out Greece via the back door. Now it turns out they botched even that. The eurozone built itself on a debt bubble and it’s scandalous that hard-pressed families are shouldering even a penny of that bill.’

The IMF and the EU granted Greece a £93billion bailout in May 2010.

The Fund now admits there were serious mistakes in the way it and EU officials handled the bailout.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Airline Kicks 100 Jewish Students Off Plane for Not Putting Away Phones

NEW YORK (CBS Atlanta/AP) — A group of around 100 high school students traveling from New York to Atlanta were ejected from an AirTran flight after the pilot and crew lost patience with kids who wouldn’t sit down and put away their phones.

The incident happened at around 6 a.m. Monday at LaGuardia Airport and involved seniors from the Yeshiva of Flatbush, in Brooklyn.

AirTran is a subsidiary of Southwest Airlines. Southwest said in a statement that the crew and captain asked passengers several times to put their mobile devices away. When some didn’t comply, the whole group was ordered to disembark.

One of the chaperones kicked off the flight said the airline overreacted.

“It blew out of proportion. It was a mountain out of a molehill,” teacher Marian Wielgus told CNN, adding that the flight attendants were “nasty.” Eight chaperones were also removed from the flight.

Student Jonathan Zehavi believes they were targeted because they are Jewish.

“They treated us like we were terrorists; I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m not someone to make these kinds of statements,” Zehavi told CNN. “I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air stewardess wouldn’t have dared to kick them off.”

School Executive Director Seth Linfield says administrators are still looking into the situation, but that “preliminarily, it does not appear that the action taken by the flight crew was justified.”

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Big Brother is Tapping Your Mobile Phone: Obama Admits NSA Routinely Spying on All Verizon Phone Customers in the USA

by Mike Adams

(NaturalNews) The USA is reeling today from the explosive discovery that the Obama administration has been spying on all Verizon phone customers by surveilling their phone usage on a daily basis for the last several years. This is a wholesale, routine spy surveillance program that has “Big Brother” written all over it. It was first exposed by The Guardian which has published the secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all phone call data on an “ongoing, daily basis.”

As the Guardian writes:

Under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk — regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

As background, please note that websites like Natural News and have been warning people for years that the NSA was secretly listening to their phone calls and surveilling their bank accounts, emails and web surfing behavior. Giggling deniers in the liberal media have routinely referred to all this as a “conspiracy theory” while deriding those who warned about all this as “tin foil hat” wearing people or even promoters of “hate speech.”

As it turns out, we were once again right all along: the government really is spying on all your phone calls, emails and other records. The NSA routinely records everything you do even though such actions are blatantly illegal under federal law. Every time the NSA taps your mobile phone (which happens every day, we now know), they are committing a felony crime. But no one is stopping them. And why? Because the government itself has become a lawless criminal operation that answers to no one.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Data Mining ‘America, Superpower of the Covert Spy World’

In order to deliver on the Fundamental Transformation of America, President Barack Obama must first smash to smithereens the image of America as World Superpower. That’s why he’s been spending so much of his time gutting the military.

Parachuted into power by archenemies of the USA, Obama holds a special disdain for American military forces, going so far as to replace them with his own private one. The bodies of approximately 1,541 soldiers were returned home under flag-draped coffins on Obama’s watch. That’s in part because Obama has continued to send American troops into theaters of war booby-trapped by lax rules of engagement where the only tragic outcome is their own maiming and death.

The image of the American soldier as sentinel has long been cherished world wide.

By gutting the military, Obama achieves his coveted, single-minded goal of shredding America’s long standing image as World Superpower.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

DHS Insider: It’s About to Get Very Ugly

Seriously dangerous times ahead. Deadly times. War, and censorship under the color of authority and under the pretext of of national security.

“If anyone thinks that what’s going on right now with all of this surveillance of American citizens is to fight some sort of foreign enemy, they’re delusional. If people think that this ‘scandal’ can’t get any worse, it will, hour by hour, day by day. This has the ability to bring down our national leadership, the administration and other senior elected officials working in collusion with this administration, both Republican and Democrats. People within the NSA, the Department of Justice, and others, they know who they are, need to come forth with the documentation of ‘policy and practice’ in their possession, disclose what they know, fight what’s going on, and just do their job. I have never seen anything like this, ever. The present administration is going after leakers, media sources, anyone and everyone who is even suspected of ‘betrayal.’ That’s what they call it, ‘betrayal.’ Can you believe the size of their cahones? This administration considers anyone telling the truth about Benghazi, the IRS, hell, you name the issue, ‘betrayal,’“ he said.

“We know all this already,” I stated. He looked at me, giving me a look like I’ve never seen, and actually pushed his finger into my chest. “You don’t know jack,” he said, “this is bigger than you can imagine, bigger than anyone can imagine. This administration is collecting names of sources, whistle blowers and their families, names of media sources and everybody they talk to and have talked to, and they already have a huge list. If you’re not working for MSNBC or CNN, you’re probably on that list. If you are a website owner with a brisk readership and a conservative bent, you’re on that list. It’s a political dissident list, not an enemy threat list,” he stated.

“What’s that exactly mean, being on that list, that is,” I asked, trying to make sense of it all.

“It means that there will be censorship under the color of authority of anyone in the U.S. who is attempting to expose what’s going on in our name. It’s about controlling any damning information from reaching epidemic proportions. It’s damage control to the extreme. It’s about the upcoming censorship of the internet in the name of national security. The plans are already in place. These latest reports about ‘spying eyes’ have turned this administration and others connected to it into something very, very dangerous. They feel cornered and threatened, and I’m hearing about some plans they have to shut down the flow of information that is implicating them of wrongdoing. Time is short,” he stated.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Did Comet Impacts Spur Life on Earth?

The impact of comets crashing into Earth’s surface may have provided the energy to create simple molecules that formed the precursors to life, a new study suggests.

That conclusion, published in the June 20 issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry A, was based on a computer model of such an impact’s effect on a comet crystal initially made up of water, carbon dioxide and other simple molecules.

“Comets carry very simple molecules in them,” said study co-author Nir Goldman, a physical chemist at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California. “When a comet hits a planetary surface, for example, that impact can drive the synthesis of more complicated things that are prebiotic — they’re life-building.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

GM’s $9,800 Car… The One We’re Not Allowed to Buy

How much is the EPA and DOT costing you?

One way to quantify this is to consider a car GM builds — but which you can’t buy. Well, not unless you move outside the United States — and beyond the diktats and fatwas of the EPA and DOT.

It is called the Sail — and GM makes it in China. It retails for 60,000 yuan — equivalent to about $9,800 in “federal” reserve notes.

Demand for the car is so great that GM plans to increase its exports of the Sail to countries like Chile and Ecuador by nearly 70 percent, according to a recent Reuters article (see here).

It just won’t be exported here.

And why?

Those two federal agencies mentioned at the beginning of this story. These unelected and unaccountable bureaucracies have made it illegal — a criminal offense — to sell you a car like the Sail. Which, by the way, is neither primitive nor pathetic. The most recent design is a modern and aesthetically appealing sedan or five-door hatchback wagon with a Corvette-inspired “dual cockpit” dash layout. The car has AC, power windows, power door mirrors and a modern stereo with Bluetooth wireless and music streaming. It even has a leather-wrapped steering wheel…

The Sail would probably meet the EPA/DOT standards in effect circa 1990 — by which time new cars were so “clean” that only about 5 percent of what came out of the tailpipe was other than water vapor and carbon dioxide (an inert gas that has nothing to do with the formation of smog). Since that time, the EPA has pursued a policy of diminishing returns by insisting that the remaining 5 percent of the exhaust stream that’s not water vapor and C02 be “controlled.” Instead of a $200 catalytic converter, a $70 oxygen sensor and a $500 throttle body fuel injection system — which cleaned up 90 percent of the exhaust — it’s $500 a piece for for multiple close-coupled cats, $2,000 for direct gas injection (and so on) to get a 1 percent (if that) additional reduction.

But that’s not the way it’s presented to the public. EPA will instead say that its newest mandate will “cut new car emissions by 50 percent.” Which is technically true. But what EPA never tells you is that they mean 50 percent off the remaining 3-5 percent of tailpipe emissions that are not yet “controlled.” In other words, a fractional reduction — at ever-increasing cost to consumers. But that doesn’t sound as good as saying the new edict will “cut new car emissions by 50 percent.” So it’s not said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Graduation Melee: A Whole New Definition for Kindergarten Cops

(CNN) — The words “kindergarten graduation” usually evoke images of tearful parents taking pictures of cute kids in pint-sized graduation caps and gowns.

But for students and parents at Michael R. White Elementary School in Cleveland, “kindergarten graduation” might now conjure images of “aggravated rioting.”

This, after eight individuals were arrested Friday morning after a fight near the end of the school’s graduation ceremony.

Officers were dispatched after receiving reports of gunfire, according to a statement from the Cleveland Police Department.

As it turned out, there was no gunfire or guns confiscated. But people were going at it after an altercation between two teen girls apparently broke out, Detective Jennifer Ciaccia said.

“We assume they were there for the graduation ceremony,” she said. “Several adults then got involved.”

Cleveland Police Commander Wayne Drummond was one of the first responding officers to the scene.

He told CNN affiliate WEWS that the initial feud prompted family members on both sides to get involved.

“It’s an absolute shame,” said Drummond. “That something as good as a graduation ceremony, a promotion ceremony, is marred by the actions of a few.”

Drummond said the school was put on lockdown to “make sure the kids were OK.”

Roseann Canfora, spokeswoman for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, said no students at Michael R. White Elementary were involved in the fight.

A hammer and a stick were taken as evidence, although neither was believed to be used in the fight.

Eight people were arrested on suspicion of aggravated rioting, police said.

Police say the incident will be further investigated.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Hayward School to Sponsor Toy Gun Exchange

An elementary school will hold a toy gun exchange Saturday, offering students a book and a chance to win a bicycle if they turn in their play weapons.

Strobridge Elementary Principal Charles Hill maintains that children who play with toy guns may not take real guns seriously.

“Playing with toys guns, saying ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ desensitizes them, so as they get older, it’s easier for them to use a real gun,” Hill said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

How Google, Facebook, Skype, Yahoo and AOL Are All Blatantly Lying to Their Own Users in Denying NSA Spy Grid Scheme

(NaturalNews) What do Google, AOL, Skype, Facebook, Apple, Hotmail and Yahoo all have in common? They have all been caught turning over private user data to the government’s spy agency, the NSA. All these companies routinely turn over the emails, voice calls, text chats, photos, files and even logins and passwords of their users, including Americans.

“There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal,” journalist Glenn Greenwald recently told Piers Morgan (who knows all about spying and hacking people’s private data). “And that is to destroy privacy and anonymity not just in the United States but around the world.”

Tech companies rush to issue (false) denials

Immediately after these revelations surfaced over the past few days, all these companies began denying any involvement with the NSA. “Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg are denying reports that depict two of the Internet’s most influential companies as willing participants in a secret government program that gives the National Security Agency unfettered access to email and other personal information transmitted on various online services,” reports the San Francisco branch of CBS News.

But what nobody is yet revealing is that all these companies are required by law to LIE to their own customers about secret government surveillance.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, you see, makes it a federal crime for any company participating in the surveillance to publicly acknowledge the existence of that surveillance. Thus, executives at Facebook, Google, Skype and others would all face arrest and federal prosecution as “terrorists” if they admitted the truth to their own users…

All this is, of course, an outrageous abuse of the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Because when both of those were being debated on the Senate floor following the false flag attacks of 9/11, it was promised that “this would never be used against Americans.” Hence the name “Foreign” Intelligence Surveillance Act. It was only about “foreigners,” because they were the terrorists, right?

But over the last decade, the U.S. government flipped the script. All of a sudden the Obama administration was targeting “domestic threats” which it identified as veterans, patriots, conservatives, gun owners and anyone who believed in the Constitution. It didn’t take long for the surveillance grid to be redirected toward the American people. Now, instead of FISA being used to track Bin Laden through a network of caves in Afghanistan, it was being used to track Bob Jones, a Kentucky farmer who owns a shotgun and carries a Bible.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

IRS Scandal Makes Obamacare an Even Tougher Sell — Roger Arnoff

Obamacare will be successful in California next year. That’s what liberal commentators are saying after Peter Lee, the executive director of California’s new health insurance exchange, Covered California, declared a “home run” for Californians. … Inr eality, however, according to Avik Roy of Forbes, Obamacare will increase individual health insurance premiums by 64 to 146% in one year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Legendary Columbia Professor Never Heard of Obama

My life has crossed paths with President Obama on multiple occasions. According to Obama, we were Columbia University classmates, both Pre Law and Political Science majors in the Class of ‘83. I also ran against Obama in 2008 on the Libertarian Party Presidential ticket. What are the odds?

But something about “the Obama at Columbia story” has always bothered me. Earlier in the week right here at The Blaze I wrote about having just returned from New York, where I attended my 30th Columbia University reunion. I celebrated with my esteemed classmates. Everyone except Barack Obama. As usual- he wasn’t there. Not a trace. Not a video greeting. Not a letter. I could not find any classmates who knew him.

I called Obama “the Ghost of Columbia University.” I pointed out (as I’ve said in the media for many years now) that Obama may have been registered at Columbia, may have graduated from Columbia, but he was rarely (if ever) seen for the two years in-between. It’s a strange, mysterious and frightening story.

Is he the real-life “Manchurian Candidate?” What explains Obama having just enough skeletal proof that he was there (one photo, one roommate, one professor, one friend)…but never seen in a class, never on anyone’s radar screen, almost invisible. A total 2-year blackout. It’s like a story straight out of a novel about the CIA or KGB. He graduated Columbia, but it’s almost as if he never went there.

To make matters more mysterious, Obama’s college records are sealed. He’s had plenty of opportunities to authorize the release, to clear the air. He has never chosen to do so. But why? What has he got to hide? Funny enough Obama has never had a problem ripping open the sealed records of his political opponents. Every step of his career Obama has beaten his opponents by having sealed documents just happen to be publicly exposed by anonymous sources. But not Obama. His records are always unavailable (and never leaked). Obama always seems to have powerful forces on his side…

My gut instincts say something is wrong with “the Obama at Columbia story.” Very wrong. Rancid.

But until now, I was the only one publicly voicing my suspicions. That just changed in a big way. Meet Professor Henry Graff, perhaps the most legendary and honored professor ever at Columbia University. He was THE American History and Diplomatic History professor at Columbia for 46 years. And he is more emphatic than yours truly that there are no Obama footprints at Columbia.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Make Room for Islamistgate: The Obama Administration’s New Scandal — Barry Rubin

Up to now the Obama Administration has faced three bigscandals — the IRS, the bugging of AP and Fox, and Benghazi. And now here isscandal Number 4:

For the last four years the Obama Administration has conducted a major “outreach” program to Islamic groups in the United States and in the Middle East. Patrick Poole has been investigating this project and in a comprehensive article now presents the full scoop and scope of what’s been going on. His article, “Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Policy” in the new, Summer, issue of MERIA Journal is a gamechanger

You may think that you know about this subject but it goes far beyond what you have heard about. The majority of groups and individuals promoted by the Obama Administration have been radical Islamists, particularly Muslim Brotherhood cadre, and more than occasionally people involved in terrorist activity.

Moderate Muslims have been neglected and isolated by this project which has helped the radicals, Islamists, and pro-terrorists gain hegemony in the Muslim community in America.

Again, you may think that you know this story but it is far more extensive than has ever before been revealed. Often, the White House and FBI have granted access and worked with those who were simultaneously being investigated on serious charges of terrorism.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Nebraska School Officials Want Boy Named ‘Hunter’ To Change His Name

Liberals believe in creating institutions to solve problems.

Conservatives believe the individual is better at solving problems.

A 3 year-old deaf boy in Lincoln, Nebraska is being bullied by public school officials to change his name because the hand sign for Hunter Spanjer looks like a weapon. The Grand Island school district has a policy that forbids kids bringing to school “any instrument … that looks like a weapon.” They can’t change the sign, because it’s the official hand sign for his name, registered through S.E.E., Sign Exact English.

Pressure from the National Association of the Deaf and the public has compelled the district into allowing the deaf boy to keep his name. Sadly, there is no humility or sense of shame from district authorities.

The fight for the individual succeeded. The institution proved to be a gargantuan failure, and neither the district superintendent nor the school principal was fired.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

New Xbox by NSA Partner Microsoft Will Watch You 24/7

Possible privacy violations by Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One have come under new scrutiny since it was revealed Thursday that the tech giant was a crucial partner in an expansive Internet surveillance program conducted by the National Security Agency and involving Silicon Valley’s biggest players.

One of the console’s key features is the full integration of the Kinect, a motion sensing camera that allows users to play games, scroll through menus, and generally operate the Xbox just using hand gestures. Microsoft has touted the camera as the hallmark of a new era of interactivity in gaming.

What Microsoft has not promoted, however, is the fact that you will not be able to power on the console without first enabling the Kinect, designed to detect both heartbeats and eye movement. and positioning yourself in front of it.

[Comment: Orwell’s Telescreen come to life.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

NSA Dragnet Debacle: What it Means to IT

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmed Thursday that the U.S. government has been secretly collecting information since 2007, exploiting backdoor access to the systems and data of major Internet and tech companies in search of national security threats. That NSA dragnet, revealed by The Washington Post and The Guardian and code-named PRISM, reportedly taps into user data from Facebook, Google, Apple and other U.S.-based companies. (Those providers have mostly denied that the NSA has such backdoor access.)

If news of the NSA dragnet is true — and it’s hard to believe at this point that it’s not — it’s hard to justify combing through all of the providers’ data and records without a specific due process. One contributor to, a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London, thinks it’s a capital idea: “This is in fact what governments are supposed to do, so I’m at something of a loss in understanding why people seem to be getting so outraged about it.”

I strongly disagree. While Clapper’s release states that surveillance is “subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch and Congress” and must be “specifically approved by the court to ensure that only non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. are targeted,” the release also acknowledges that information about U.S. persons could be acquired in this dragnet. The release states that such acquisition, retention and dissemination of “incidental” findings about citizens will be minimized, but surely there are other, more nuanced ways to catch bad guys.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

NSA Memo Pushed to ‘Rethink’ 4th Amendment

The National Security Agency pushed for the government to “rethink” the Fourth Amendment when it argued in a classified memo that it needed new authorities and capabilities for the information age.

The 2001 memo, later declassified and posted online by George Washington University’s National Security Archive, makes a case to the incoming George W. Bush administration that the NSA needs new authorities and technology to adapt to the Internet era.

In one key paragraph, NSA wrote that its new phase meant the U.S. must reevaluate its approach toward signals intelligence, or “SIGINT,” and the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Defends Surveillance Programs as Legal and Limited

President Obama on Friday offered a robust defense of the government surveillance programs revealed this week, and sought to reassure the public that his administration has not become a Big Brother with eyes and ears throughout the world of online communications.

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Mr. Obama said, delivering a 14-minute answer to two questions about the surveillance programs during a four-day trip to the West Coast at an event that was initially supposed to be devoted to the health care law. “That’s not what this program is about.”

The president’s remarks were his first since the revelations this week of programs to collect information about phone calls and Internet traffic. Mr. Obama said the programs help prevent terrorist attacks and they are kept in check by rigorous judicial and Congressional oversight.

[Return to headlines]

Orlando Muslims Seek Ramadan Donations

The Muslim Womens’ Organization of Central Florida is seeking donations for the assembly of care packages to needy families during the month of Ramadan. A $50 donation will fill a box with enough nourishing food to last the month.

The Muslim Womens’ Organization is a group of Central Florida women working together to promote community service, philanthropy, and personal development through community initiative


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Pelosi: “I Don’t Remember Saying That Everybody in the Country Would Have a Lower Premium”

Just a few weeks ago the honorable Congresswoman from San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi, made the stunning claim that health insurance in America would be cheaper than ever before. “Many of the initiatives that he passed are what are coming to bear now, including the Affordable Care Act,” she said at a recent press conference about legislation championed by the President. “The Affordable Care Act is bringing the cost of health care in our country down in both the public and private sector.”

Of course, days later we found out what the future of “affordable” health care and lower costs actually meant, when the IRS admitted that prices would top $20,000 per year for the average American family.

It seems that these are the ramifications for passing a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. health care industry without having first read the bill to find out what was in it.

Now that we know government mandated ObamaCare will actually cost Americans at all income levels significantly more than was promised by the President and Congressional democrats, Nancy Pelosi is back peddling on her statements, claiming that she and the bill’s supporters never said there’d be lower premiums.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

People Power Against the Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and its allies, the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Southern Poverty Law Center, are on the defensive after thousands of people turned out in Tennessee on Tuesday night to protest a scheme to censor criticism of Islam.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a key component of a network of Muslim Brotherhood organizations in the U.S., called the turnout a “mob” and praised the Obama/Holder Justice Department for standing up to local residents.

CAIR said “a large group of protesters heckled and interrupted speeches by Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Tennessee, and by Kenneth Moore, FBI special agent in charge of the Eastern Tennessee District.”

In fact, the DOJ had provoked the reaction by announcing beforehand that people using the Internet to criticize Muslims might be prosecuted for civil rights violations and that the meeting on “public discourse in a free society” in Tennessee would examine this alleged problem.

Killian had announced in advance that he would address “how civil rights can be violated by those who post inflammatory documents targeted at Muslims on social media.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Senator Lamar Alexander: Neo-Con Trotskyite, Part 3

“We’ve always been suspicious of Lamar. To hear him running around calling himself an “activist conservative” and mentioning Ronald Reagan’s name every 30 seconds is just amazing! He never did anything for Reagan; in fact, those of us with Reagan were just about written out of the [Tennessee Republican] party. He was an anti-conservative who never supported a conservative in a Republican primary.” — Lloyd Daugherty, chairman of the Tennessee Conservative Union

Alexander and Common Core

The development of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) (see “The Curriculum Reformation”) i.e., national education standards, dates back to the first Bush administration, when Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander, called for voluntary national standards and testing. After the Clinton administration’s attempt failed in the mid-1990s, efforts to implement national standards lay dormant until the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation decided to make them a top priority. Beginning in 2007, the foundation funded the development of national English and math standards. It also supported organizations like Achieve, the National Governors Association (NGA), (basically a Rockefeller Association), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) which under the auspices of the School to Work Opportunities Act moved to implement comprehensive “reform” and the best “international lessons” for the global work force, and the Fordham Institute, (who believes conservatives should support CC) all of which advocated for national standards. [Link]

The NGA and CCSSO are D.C. trade associations, neither of which had a grant of legislative authority from the states to write national school standards. Both of them along with Achieve have accepted $27 million from Gates Foundation. Bill Ayers’ political connections, (with both Obama and his Education Czar, Arne Duncan, through the Annenberg Challenge), has been instrumental in promoting Common Core. [Link]

Ze’ev Wurman — a Silicon Valley high-tech executive and former federal education official who played a central role in developing California’s standards — says that the Gates Foundation’s total investment in the national standards reached $100 million last year. The Foundation has plans to spend another $150 million.

Senator Lamar Alexander published an op-ed in which he claimed that the Obama Administration has allowed increased state choice in schools:

“My colleagues and I agree with the Obama administration that after a decade of federal rules, more responsibility needs to go back to the states. No Child Left Behind has made one thing clear: when it comes to education reform, the states are both highly capable and highly motivated. Since 2002, 44 states and territories have adopted common core academic standards, two groups of states are developing common tests for those standards and 44 states are collaborating on common principles for holding schools accountable for student achievement.”

Senator Alexander fully agrees with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Obama on Common Core, including what students will be reading under the Common Core Standards. (Check out this video) Most are politically correct topics such as “Invasive Plant Inventory,” by the California Invasive Plant Council, invasive plant species in California, “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management,” by the U.S. General Services Administration, “Recommended Levels of Insulation,” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and “Fed Views,” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. This report from 2009, explains that the federal stimulus helped to stabilize the economy and asserts that there is no link between deficit spending and inflation. Yeah, right! This isn’t even scratching the surface of PC topics!

Can you imagine your children reading and grasping any of this? Just the topics alone are enough to alleviate insomnia. To top it all off they are PC subjects, instrumental in brainwashing our children with socialist propaganda.

Common Core undermines 10th amendment authority of the states over education. Parents have no recourse to influence content standards because content is controlled by unaccountable (unelected) outsiders.


Under Hammond’s direction, these tests will most likely lower the bar on student academic expectations and instead focus on “subjective performance based outcomes.” SBAC recently released 16 sample test questions. They reveal that the “transformation” of American education that Darling-Hammond had eagerly anticipated will be fulfilled — toward making students into global citizens, devoid of a sense of cultural heritage, and content with performing quick tasks that require little concentration. Common Core phases Western Culture totally out of education. In other words, these Skinner/Pavlovian, dog trained, dumbed down, robotic children will be perfect for the global work force. This is limited learning for lifelong labor!

[Comment: Big money behind “Commie Corps”, which will be used to indoctrinate the “New Communists” — ie your children — to become obedient serfs in the “Change” of the USA.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Spy State Shock: Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Facebook, Skype, AOL, Apple All Secretly Sharing Private User Communications With NSA

(NaturalNews) In a week that has already been rocked by one explosive government spy scandal involving the NSA scooping up phone call data and geographic locations of Verizon customers, another scandalous discovery has just erupted that’s sure to “wake up” millions of Americans who have been living in denial.

“The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time,” reports the Washington Post in an explosive investigative article.

Top secret documents obtained by the Washington Post show that nearly all the top internet services — Microsoft Hotmail, Google Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Facebook, Skype, AOL, Apple, Youtube and PalTalk — are all sharing ALL your user communications with the federal government. Dropbox is reportedly “coming soon.”

As the Washington Post explains:

Through a top-secret program authorized by federal judges working under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the U.S. intelligence community can gain access to the servers of nine Internet companies for a wide range of digital data. Documents describing the previously undisclosed program, obtained by The Washington Post, show the breadth of U.S. electronic surveillance capabilities in the wake of a widely publicized controversy over warrantless wiretapping of U.S. domestic telephone communications in 2005.

The types of data these services allow the government to surveil include emails, audio chats, video chats, text chats, photos, usernames, passwords, file transfers, VoIP sessions and much more. Users of Google Drive will be shocked to learn that the NSA has full access to all their private files stored on Google Drive. In effect, these services take every communication initiated by their users and turn it over to the NSA. All these internet services are operating in conspiracy with a criminal government that believes there are absolutely no limits to its power and that it can spy and snoop on all Americans.

[Comment: This is the real reason “The Cloud” is hyped up as “the” storage for all your data.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Survey of American Students Finds Strong Interest in Italy

U.S. students see Italy as world leader in food, fashion, wine

(ANSA) — Rome, June 3 — In the eyes of young Americans, Italy stands as a global leader in wine, food and fashion, according to survey released Monday.

Results of the survey by the Italy-USA Foundation, conducted in collaboration with the Loyola University of Chicago, was scheduled for presentation Monday in Italy’s lower house.

The poll was conducted with about 850 students in the United States, and found that nearly 50% of students who have not yet visited Italy want to see the country.

Another 18% say they would live in Italy if they could.

However, the survey found many stereotypes about Italy still linger — pizza and spaghetti were named as Italy’s top foods.

And many of the students surveyed knew very little about European institutions: 57% were not aware of the European Commission, which is the executive body of the European Union.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Real Reason Obama Tapped Susan Rice for National Security Adviser

By appointing Rice to the NSC job the president can invoke executive privilege and claim she doesn’t have to testify on Capitol Hill. And even if she does talk about Benghazi, at some point, she will certainly be a loyal soldier if she is now sitting just steps from the Oval Office.

But despite what the president might want the Benghazi isn’t over, not by a long shot.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

40 Foreign Rapists Enter UK in a Year… But Police Pledge to Kick Out Violent Foreigners

More than 40 ‘predatory’ foreign rapists were able to enter Britain in a single year undetected, police have revealed.

Scotland Yard said the dangerous criminals were only uncovered thanks to a drive to discover the backgrounds of overseas suspects.

Officers said improved checks revealed a previously undiscovered stream of foreigners with a history of serious crime.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Britain May be an Islamic Nation Within 20 Years

CHARLOTTE, June 7, 2013 — Way back in 2003 an article in a British newspaper warned about a growing fear that the U.K. was on a fast track to becoming an Islamic nation. That was just ten years ago, and it seemed far fetched at the time. Now the British government has published a study with data that shows Islam will become the dominant religion within the next generation.

The concern in the 2003 article focused on the fact that Britain, and continental Europe for that matter, are becoming increasing secular while immigrant populations of devoted Muslims are growing.

The recent survey shows that while Christianity remains the dominant religion in the U.K. at over 50%, more than half the population if over the age of 50 and, for the first time, less than half the people under 25 consider themselves Christians.

Meanwhile, the Muslim population in Britain is growing so rapidly that Islam is predicted to overtake Christianity within the next 20 years. Combined with the growing secularization of native Britons, the Christian/Muslim ratio could tilt in favor of Islam even sooner than estimated.

Such a change could be a serious concern. When Islam becomes the dominant power in a society, Sharia law oftens follows and non-Muslims may be relegated to dhimmitude which means they are subjects of the Islamic state.

Already there are problems with Muslims taking to the streets of London and Paris on Fridays to observe prayers. Streets become jammed with faithful Muslims who create several blocks of traffic congestion. Though there are laws against such public gatherings, authorities usually look the other way.

In Stockholm, one district of the city now allows mosques to play Muslim calls to prayer.

The overall population of England and Wales increased by 3.7 million people from 2001 to 2011, but the number of people who said they are Christians declined by 4.1 million and 6.4 million said they had no religion at all. Meanwhile, the Muslim population grew by 1.2 million.

Such statistics do not tell the entire story, however. The decreasing number of native British Christians is alarmingly higher than first thought due to an increase of Christian immigrants which skewed the data.

In addition, Christians had the oldest age profile in 2011 while Muslims had the youngest among all primary religious groups. Almost half of Muslims in Britain are under 25 and nearly 90% are less than 50 years old.

Another important factor in the study showed that Muslims are more diverse than Christians. More than 2/3rds of the British Muslim population comes from Asia with another 10% reported as Black/African/Caribbean/Black British. Currently more than a million Muslims are from Pakistan and roughly 400,000 come from Bangladesh.

The problem is further complicated by the fact that Muslims have the lowest level of economic activity in the U.K. at 56%. Christians are at 60%, but there is another discrepancy in these figures. With the aging British population, the demographics for Christians are distorted because of retirement.

A professor of theology at Cambridge University, Fraser Watts, says that in many churches throughout Great Britain the bulk of the congregation is over 60. As Watts sees it, those numbers are so striking that Christians could become a minority within the next decade rather than the estimated 20 years.

While the Christian population declines, the evidence seems to show that younger Muslims are more devoted to their faith than their parents. In 2011 the name Muhammad was by far the most popular boy’s name in England and Wales by a wide margin. It should be noted that there are no less than 22 accepted ways to spell the name “Muhammad” and all were counted in the total.

According to David Coleman, a demographics professor at Oxford, the U..K. will undergo a major change in national identity that will impact them culturally, politically, economically and religiously when the white British population becomes a minority…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Britain’s Largest Luxury Yachtmaker Sunseeker Set to be Sold to Chinese Property Group for £300m

A Chinese property group is closing in on a deal to buy Britain’s biggest luxury yachtmaker Sunseeker.

The firm, whose Predator 108 model appeared in the James Bond film Casino Royale, is expected to be bought by Beijing-based Dalian Wanda for around £300million.

It is the latest in a string of British companies to have been snapped up by Chinese buyers in recent years…

A spokesman for Sunseeker confirmed that the company is in discussions with a third party interested in buying a majority stake.

She described the buyout as a ‘significant investment’ in the business but insisted ‘one thing is for sure, Sunseeker will remain a British brand’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Britain’s Top Guns: Previously-Unseen Photographs Reveal High-Life of RAF Pilots in Cockpit of Fascinating 1,320mph Typhoon Aircraft

With a top speed of 1,320mph and a powerful 27mm Mauser cannon on board, the Eurofighter Typhoon can certainly pack a punch.

And this astonishing set of previously-unseen photographs documents life inside for RAF pilots inside the cockpit of the plane, which has a maximum altitude of 65,000ft. The set shows three Typhoons flying over the Falkland Islands, pilots training over airspace and performing in display formations.

There is also a cross-section of the aircraft — which has a length of 52ft and width of 36ft — and another photograph showing pre-flight checks. Also seen is the futuristic BAE Striker helmet, which enables the pilot to cue the Typhoon’s sensors and weapons onto enemy aircraft simply by looking at it.

The images were released as part of a set featured in the RAF Typhoon Owner’s Workshop Manual by Antony Loveless, which is out today.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

British Muslims Campaign Against Airport Harassment

Each year millions of people travel through Britain’s busy airports and each year over 70,000 are stopped and questioned under a terrorism law called Schedule 7. While most of these people are white a hugely disproportionate number are ethnic minorities and Muslims. And the most intrusive and humiliating experiences — which might include strip searches, finger-printing and detention for up to 9 hours — tend to happen to non-whites.

This event in central London was organized by human rights group Cageprisoners to launch a website dedicated to telling the human stories of humiliation behind Schedule 7 and campaigning for the law to be reformed. Speakers told the audience that Schedule 7 is morally and ethically bankrupt, discriminatory against Muslims and needs to be targeted at genuine terrorism suspects rather than whole communities…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Croatia: EU on the Home Stretch Amid Crisis, Indifference

Fear for repercussion on industry. But historic goal for Zagreb

(by Franko Dota) (ANSAmed) — ZAGREB — Less than four weeks before becoming a European Union member on July 1, Croatia appears almost indifferent to this historic landmark considered in the past as the peak of an independence and democratization process which started 22 years ago.

The centre-left government which has been in office since November 2011 has registered a setback in local elections last Sunday, when it lost in the capital Zagreb after a 13-year-long Social Democratic administration, although it won in all other major cities.

Hefty public spending cuts, including the reduction of state salaries, and the missed target of attracting new foreign investments and start a number of major public infrastructure projects are key to explain decreasing support for the government. However, a more significant social dissatisfaction which could lead this week to the first major wave of strikes in the public sector is due to the serious economic crisis and unemployment levels which have been consistently topped 20 percentage points — and some 40 percentage points for youth unemployment — for a year now. The economy has been in recession for the fifth consecutive year despite austerity policies, foreign debt continues to grow and industrial production keeps dropping. Tourism, which represents almost 20% of GDP in the country, remains the only sector which has not suffered from the crisis. But negative reviews continuing to pour from the eurozone and domestic problems in the EU do not contribute to lift an atmosphere of apathy.

Not much is expected from the first phase following the adhesion. Countries like Germany and Austria have already announced they will use their right to limit access of Croatian nationals to their labour markets. Although Croatian products will have access to the single market, many fear EU membership could have negative repercussions on the Croatian industry, mostly the food industry, given that European products will have free access to supermarkets in Croatia. Moreover as of July 1 the country will be forced to leave the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), a free trade agreement between non-EU Balkan countries, an area in which ever since the Yugoslav period Croatia carried out a significant part of its commercial exchanges, always with profit.

On the other hand, Zagreb will be able to benefit from 11.7 billion euros to boost development in the country, as indicated within the EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, and already in the second half of 2013 the country will have access to some 665 million euros of which 450 million in structural and cohesion funds.

Apart from the economic context, joining the EU has for Croatia a very strong symbolic value and represents the conclusion of a long transition process from the Yugoslav and Socialist experience, which ended with the bloody independence war in the 1990s, till membership to the family of European nations.

Negotiations leading up to membership were long and stricter than those held with other countries in eastern Europe.

During the first phase the most significant obstacle to joining the EU was represented by an unsatisfying cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) while in the past few years Brussels insisted on the democratization process concerning the legal system and institutions as well as the fight against organized crime and corruption.

The most visible example of efforts made by Zagreb are three trials on corruption charges against former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and a first verdict sentencing him to ten years in jail. Ironically, Sanader will be remembered in history books as the Croatian political leader who, as premier from 2004 until 2009, started a number of reforms that led Croatia to join the EU.

On June 30, Zagreb and other Croatian cities are scheduled to celebrate adhesion and top European leaders, leaders of 20 EU countries including Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, Premier Enrico Letta and top officials from neighbouring countries including Serbia and Croatia are expected.

Not much will change for the EU with Croatia as a member, the second country from ex Yugoslavia to join the Union after Slovenia. The country will in fact represent 0,85% of the overall population, 1,33% of the territory and 0,53% of GDP. On a symbolic level instead the adhesion of Croatia represents the conclusion of the first phase of stabilization and integration of the Balkans after wars in the 1990s and a small confidence boost for a united Europe in the current crisis.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

EU Not ‘Greatly Interested’ In Iceland

The European Union is not “greatly interested” in concluding negotiations with Iceland in the next few years, president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson told parliament Thursday. Brussels doesn’t want to risk a rejection in a referendum and is unlikely to develop a permanent fisheries policy that Iceland could accept, he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France Urges EU to Stop Spat With China Over Wine

France has implored its EU neighbours to deal with a brewing trade impasse with China, which has responded to the EU’s curbing of solar panel imports with a probe into European wine exports to China, a key emerging market for French vineyards.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Veterans Gather in Normandy to Mark D-Day

Hundreds of D-Day veterans have gathered in Normandy to mark the 69th anniversary of the landings.

A series of services are being held at sites along the coastline, where 150,000 Allied soldiers went ashore on June 6th 1944. The Big Lottery Fund’s “Heroes Return” scheme has provided money for visits by 264 veterans who fought in the Normandy campaign, while others have made their own way to the region. Events are being held at a number of cemeteries in the area, as well as in villages which were liberated. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the landings took three years of meticulous planning by Allied commanders. The coastline chosen for the invasion, running from Carentan in the west to Caen in the east, was divided into five beaches…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Germans on Italian Island Appeal to Merkel for Electricity

Stromboli residents seeks German help with power system

(ANSA) — Lipari (Messina), June 3 — Germans living on the small, volcanic island of Stromboli say the Italian government won’t fix their electrical system so they’re appealing to Angela Merkel.

The German-born residents of Ginostra, a small village accessible only by sea, say they hope that Merkel, the German chancellor, will hear their pleas and intervene.

“We requested the help of the region and national government, but we are left to our fate,” said Karol Hoffman, adding that about a dozen of his fellow Germans have lived for 30 years in Ginostra.

“We just have to make an appeal to Angela Merkel”.

Electricity is now supplied by photovoltaic panels but the system doesn’t always work properly, complained Hoffman.

The small group of German residents aren’t alone in their plea.

Hoffman says the population swells to as many as 200 Germany tourists who rent vacation homes around Ginostra every year.

He says that the area boasts great beauty and is a unique, European gem that is ignored by too much of the world.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greek Prison Director’s Booby-Trapped Car Explosion Injures One

ATHENS, June 7 (Xinhua) — An explosive device placed at the car of Greece’s main prison complex director happened in Athens district on Friday morning, causing light injury of a passer-by. A woman was slightly injured by shattered glass, according to Greek police sources, adding that before the explosion of the booby- trapped vehicle, which was parked outside the home of Korydallos prison chief, two warning telephone calls were made to local media…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Grillo Says Current Italian Parliament is ‘Empty Can’

Just approves govt bills, says M5S leader

(see related stories on Renzi, Epifani) (ANSA) — Rome, June 7 — Beppe Grillo, the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), said the current Italian parliament was a useless “empty can of tuna” on Friday.

The comedian-turned-politician, whose movement captured around a quarter of the vote in February’s general election, said the current parliament was illegitimate because it was elected with a much-criticised election law that he said is unconstitutional.

He also said that lawmakers did little more that rubber stamp bills and decrees presented by Premier Enrico Letta’s left-right government.

“The Lower House and the Senate have become a place were MPs appointed (by the parties) approve the government’s laws,” Grillo said on his popular blog, which gave life to the Internet-based M5S in 2009. “Parliament could close tomorrow and no one would realise,” he added, describing parliament as a “tomb”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israeli Wrestler Attacked by Egyptian Rival

Ilana Kartysh, who won gold medal in Golden Grand Prix tournament in Italy, tells Ynet about violent incident she experienced in semi-final when her opponent broke her fingers, bit her. ‘I can’t remember such dirty behavior in sports,’ she says

Israeli wrestler Ilana Kartysh won a gold medal Saturday in the Golden Grand Prix tournament in Italy, but her historical achievement was marred by a very unpleasant incident, when she was attacked by her Egyptian rival during the semi-final.

Kartysh, 22, who competed in the 67-kilogram weight category, made it to the semi-final after beating opponents from Hungary and Kazakhstan. There, she experienced a violent incident she won’t be able forget for quite a long time.

In the semi-final, Kartysh met the African champion, Enas Mostafa of Egypt. At the beginning of the match, Mostafa refused to shake hands with her. During the fight, she broke two of the Israeli’s fingers and bit her in the back — causing her to bleed. At the end of the match, unsurprisingly, she refused to shake hands with her again.

“ I can’t remember such dirty behavior in sports,” Kartysh told Ynet after the fight. “In wrestling you must shake hands at the beginning of a match and at the end of a match. But not only did she refuse to shake my hand, she even broke my fingers and bit me until I began bleeding.

“On the ground, when she was on top of me, she just bit me. I have her teeth marks on my back, and I began bleeding too,” the Israeli wrestler adds. “Because of her dirty behavior my desire to beat her grew stronger.”

Do you know why she did it?

“From the beginning of the match, when she didn’t come over to shake my hand — I knew something was wrong. I felt some kind of hatred towards me and I don’t know why, maybe it has to do with politics and maybe not, but it’s never happened to me before. She really attacked me.

“I can’t even describe how proud I felt hearing ‘Hatikva’ (Israel’s national anthem) playing in the end.”

Kartysh, who has been trained in recent months by a Canadian coach, one of the best in the field, made it all the way to the final, where she competed against a local participant. She won the last battle as well and stepped on the podium to receive the gold medal, Israel’s first ever in a Golden Grand Prix competition.

           — Hat tip: MS [Return to headlines]

Italian Newspapers Fighting for Survival

Sales down by one million copies over five years

(By Elisa Cecchi) (ANSA) — Rome, June 5 — Italian newspapers are in a struggle for survival amid waning sales at the stand and competition from digital media. Sales of dailies have fallen by one million copies over the past five years, according to a study on the Italian press released Wednesday by Fieg, Italy’s federation of newspaper and magazine publishers. The report noted that daily newspaper sales dropped 6.6% in 2012 and 22% over the past five years. Though the Italian newspaper sector has consistently posted negative results for the past five years, 2012 was the first year during which a drop in readership was also recorded.

Fieg’s five-year analysis on the sector also highlighted that 2012 was the worst for advertising in two decades. Advertising dropped 14.3% from 2011 to under eight billion euros. Data on the first quarter of 2013 showed the crisis is worsening, Fieg said.

Fieg President Giulio Anselmi, who is also the chairman of ANSA, on Wednesday called for a “radical reform” of the Italian press based on the combination between print and web “to prevent the expansion of new media from threatening traditional outlets”. He also called on decision-makers to redefine incentives in order to support the sector.

Overall, the report blamed the sector’s dire prospects on the economic crisis, technological evolution which promoted the web — online media outlets were alone in posting growth revenues and a 5.3% hike in advertising — and structural limits including distribution. The positive results posted by online media outlets were however insufficient in countering the sector’s drop in revenues, advertising, sold copies and, for the first time, readers. Daily newspaper publishers recorded a 9% drop in revenues while revenues from magazines fell by 9.5% in 2012.

Daily newspaper sales have been shrinking since 2001, with the sole exception of 2006, and the situation has worsened since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, Fieg noted.

If in 2012 sales dropped 6.6% — from 4,272 to 3,990 million copies — a 22% decrease has been registered since 2007 with 1,150 copies lost.

Weeklies also lost 6.4% of copies — from 10,928 to 10,225 million — while monthlies registered an 8.9% drop — from 10,448 to 9,515 million. According to the latest survey by Audipress, which carries out polls on the publishing sector, there are 21.005 million daily-newspaper readers, with a 14.8% drop registered in 2012. (photo: Fieg President Giulio Anselmi)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: PdL Steady at Top, PD Down a Bit, M5S Up a Tad Says Poll

Berlusconi party leads govt partner by 2.6%

(ANSA) — Rome, June 7 — Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) is holding its own as Italy’s most favoured political party in a snapshot of public opinion released Friday.

The survey by the SWG Institute found that 27.7% of voters polled favoured the PdL, essentially unchanged from last week’s figures, while 25.1% said they would vote for the Democratic Party (PD), a decline of 0.7% from voters’ intentions expressed one week earlier.

Those two parties are working together in a coalition government headed by the PD’s Premier Enrico Letta.

In contrast, the 5-Star Movement (M5S) saw a rise in public opinion of 0.8% to reach 19.9% support from the 1,500 voters surveyed by SWG on behalf of RAI3 television earlier this week.

The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus 2.9%, which suggests the PD and M5S could possibly be tied in public support. The SEL party also saw a bump up of 0.5% to 5.5% while the Northern League slipped by 0.4% to 4.3% voter support and the Civic Choice lost 0.5% to fall to 4.7%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Police Seize 2.5 sq km Illegal Subdivision Near Naples

Area zoned for agricultural use contains two schools

(ANSA) — Naples, June 3 — Police confiscated an area under development that is 2.5 sq km in size on the western periphery of Naples on Monday.

The property seizure is part of a Naples probe into illegal land-parcelling and construction across territory that includes two schools, a number of homes, about fifteen businesses, and some warehouses.

The 25,000 sq metre area is zoned for agricultural use only, is recognized as being of archeological interest, and is subject to restrictions as protected landscape.

Law enforcement is, however, permitting the schools to let students finish the school year.

One school is an institute for learning the hotel business.

The other is a combined preschool, elementary and middle-school.

In recent years the area concerned of the Pianura zone outside of Naples has been badly disfigured by the urbanization, including the construction of retaining walls, roads, yards and underground utilities installation.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Likely to Ban Electronic Cigarettes in Schools

Concerns about possible harmful substances

(ANSA) — Rome, June 4 — Italy’s National Health Council proposed Tuesday that electronic cigarettes be banned from schools to protect youngsters.

The proposal from the council’s advisory board will go to the health ministry.

Electronic cigarettes have triggered controversy as their use spreads.

Last week, consumer association Codacons said the devices should be banned in public places, just as their low-tech cousins have been banned.

In a formal petition to the health ministry and to industry ministry, the association said the content of emissions from electronic cigarettes should also be carefully analyzed.

Scientists still have not ascertained how harmful, if at all, these devices are, said the consumer group.

And until it is clear what harmful substances might be contained and diffused by e-cigarettes, they should be banned in public just as conventional cigarette smoking is current banned, said Codacons.

E-cigarettes usually contain an atomizer that passes vapour into the user’s mouth.

Some deliver nicotine and proponents say because nothing is burned, as in a conventional cigarette, there are no toxins released.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Scotland: Alex Salmond’s Dream of a Separate Scotland is Rapidly Falling Apart

by Fraser Nelson

Faced with the realities of independence, Scots young and old are now turning back to Britain

Alex Salmond has always taken a suspiciously high interest in the rights of the over-15s. “It is only right,” declared Scotland’s First Minister two years ago, “that young folk who can legally marry and join the Armed Forces should have their say.” Like everything he says and does, this was aimed at winning a referendum on Scottish independence. His rather vain premise was that tomorrow belongs to him, so young voters would obviously turn into his own teenage fanclub. But no one bothered to consult the young Scots…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Scotland: UKIP Politician to Visit Mosque Snubbed by Pupils

A Ukip politician has announced plans to visit a city mosque at the centre of a row surrounding parents’ decision to stop their children attending on a school trip. Jonathan Stanley, a candidate in the upcoming Liberton/Gilmerton council by-election, is to attend the mosque and meet with Muslim leaders later this afternoon. The visit comes after dozens of children from Newtongrange Primary were withdrawn from a visit to the Central Mosque in Potterrow due to parents’ fears over safety following the terrorist murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich. From an original group of 90 pupils, 28 were withdrawn…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Spy Scandal to Impact Talks on EU-US Data Treaty

Berlin — Classified documents obtained by the Washington Post and The Guardian reveal that the National Security Agency, a US intelligence-gathering body, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are secretly tapping into the servers of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple.

The program — called Prism — is the latest in a series of secret data gathering schemes put in place after 9/11.

Europeans have had their banking data, air passenger data — and now their personal online data — snooped on by US authorities without their knowledge or the knowledge of their governments.

On Thursday (6 June), US intelligence chief James Clapper defended Prism, saying it contains “numerous safeguards that protect privacy and civil liberties”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Anti-EDL Bomb Plot ‘A Reaction to Calculated Insults’

Six men who planned a terror attack on an English Defence League rally were reacting to “calculated insults” made by the group, a court has heard.

Omar Khan, Jewel Uddin, Mohammed Hasseen, Mohammed Saud, Zohaib Ahmed and Anzal Hussain, all from the West Midlands, admit terrorism offences. The lawyer for Khan said EDL rallies were held in largely Muslim areas and were “intimidating” and “provocative”. Five of the men took a bomb, knives and sawn-off shotguns to the rally. The plotters arrived after the EDL event — held last June in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire — had ended. They were caught by chance after their car was stopped and found to have no insurance.

‘Great state of fear’

Joel Bennathan QC told the court the men’s plan was a “reaction to the activity of the EDL”. He said: “The EDL stage rallies in what they perceive, rightly, to be areas with large Muslim populations. They are intimidating when they do so. They are obviously and very deliberately insulting to any Muslims. One doesn’t need a degree in theology to have spotted the fact that to a Muslim a personal insult to the Prophet Mohammed is a very serious matter. They are intimidating, they are insulting and they are provocative.”

As mitigation began in the sentencing of the six men, Judge Nicholas Hilliard was given a disc containing video clips of EDL members claiming that the prophet Mohammed was a paedophile and chanting about burning down mosques. Mr Bennathan said the plot was “young British men reacting to the calculated insults of other young British men”. Danny Friedman for Hasseen said the men had worked themselves up into “a very great state of fear” in the run-up to the rally, which, he argued, was not “completely irrational”. “Young men reach to ideology to explain away fear and loathing about their communities being attacked and that’s what we submit happened here,” he added.

Police who searched the men’s car after it was stopped found it contained weapons, an 18in nail bomb and a partially-assembled pipe bomb. The men had also printed a leaflet which called the Queen a “female devil” and outlined their motivation for the attack. The message said they planned to kill EDL members in retaliation for their “blasphemy”, although in pre-sentence statements the men said they intended only to cause minor injuries and frighten them.

‘Ideologically committed’

Police and security services had no intelligence about the planned attack, although one of the plotters, Jewel Uddin, was under surveillance in relation to another terror plan. He was an associate of another group of Birmingham-based Islamists who were jailed after planning their own terror attack. Uddin was under partial counter-terrorism surveillance and, five days before the aborted EDL attack, was seen by a surveillance officer with fellow plotter Omar Khan buying some of the knives eventually found in the car boot.

A second member of the group, Ahmed, had been separately charged with possession of jihadist magazines that included bomb-making instructions. He was on bail at the time of the failed bombing. The five men stopped in the car on the way back from the rally were Uddin, 27, Khan, 28, Ahmed, 22, Saud, 22, and Hussain, 24. Hasseen, 23 was not present.

But prosecutors described Hasseen as the most “ideologically committed” of the group. He was found to have 859 files containing extreme material. The men have already been warned to expect to spend a significant time in jail.

Sentencing has been delayed until Monday.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Baroness Warsi: London Can be Islam’s Global Financial Centre

London has a “golden opportunity” to become the global centre of the booming Islamic finance business, a Cabinet minister will say tonight. Baroness Warsi wants the City to respond to the potential of a sector set to expand by £400 billion in the next two years, offering billions in earnings as well as funding for major infrastructure projects to benefit the country. “It’s about making Britain the preferred choice for the Muslim world to invest in and do business in,” the senior Foreign Office minister will tell the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

Islamic finance has already helped to fund some of the capital’s newest landmarks, including the Shard, the Olympic Village and redevelopments at Chelsea Barracks and Harrods. “Each is a powerful reminder of the sector’s rapid rise and the importance of engaging with potentially lucrative new markets in the Muslim world and beyond,” the minister will say.

“It is not a silver bullet but it is a golden opportunity.” Her speech will come ahead of the ninth World Islamic Economic Forum this October in London, the first in a non-Muslim country…

[Reader comment by Bruno on 6 June 2013.]

No thanks I really hope this never happens.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Choudary ‘To Lose Benefits’

Blitz on preachers of hate

Any claimant whose behaviour is ruled to be deeply offensive or harmful to society would be stripped of their handouts under a new law planned by ministers.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: EDL’s Tommy Robinson Outside Court for Islamic Extremists Bomb Plot Sentencing

EDL leader Tommy Robinson and a group of his supporters have gathered outside the Old Bailey to see “justice done” as six Islamic extremists face sentencing for planning a murderous attack on a rally.

Robinson was joined by his deputy, Kevin Carroll, and around 30 other EDL supporters who mingled in a pub nearby, while others stood outside.

The EDL leader went into the public gallery of Court 12 for the beginning of the hearing. He stared into the dock and appeared to smirk as he was leaving.

Dozens of officers from the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police also patrolled outside the Old Bailey.

The men in court, who have already been warned that they face “significant custody”, only failed in their deadly plan because the gathering in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, last summer finished earlier than expected.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Eight Years Minimum for Dangerous Teenage Paedophile Who Raped 11-Year-Old Girl in a Park While on Probation

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

A dangerous teenage paedophile was jailed for a minimum of eight years today for raping an 11-year-old girl while he was on probation.

Opemipo Jaji, 18, from Edmonton, north London, had just left his probation officer when he spotted the child going home from school on a bus before following her and dragging her into a park to subject her to a three-hour rape ordeal.

Mr Justice Singh at the Old Bailey told Jaji that he had given careful consideration to whether he could impose a lesser sentence than life, for example a determinate sentence combined with an extended term.

‘However, in all the circumstances of this case, I do not believe that the public would be adequately protected from you if you were the subject of any sentence other than a life sentence,’ he said.

The judge told Jaji that the eight-year minimum was not the actual term he would serve, but the minimum before he could be considered for release by the Parole Board.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Gang Wearing Full-Length Burkas Caught on Video Running Through Selfridges During Smash-and-Grab Axe Raid Before Getaway on Scooters (Partially Foiled by Have-a-Go Shoppers)

An eyewitness has described the dramatic moment he filmed a gang of armed robbers dressed in burkas stealing tens of thousands of pounds of jewellery in a daring daylight smash-and-grab raid.

Stunned Khalid Samata — speaking exclusively to the MailOnline — said he heard an enormous bang and turned his camera phone on to video figures wearing Islamic dress axing their way into display cabinets at Selfridges department store in central London.

Two suspected robbers were seized by passers-by after the raid, yesterday evening.

The men were pinned down by members of the public after their moped slipped over while turning a corner at speed in central London.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: How Britain Could Leave the ECHR

Our human rights record speaks for itself — we don’t need the court to affirm it, says Gavin Barwell MP.

I’ve just caught up with a story on the BBC website featuring some pretty blunt comments from Judge Dean Spielmann, the President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Many of my constituents suggest to me that the Government should just ignore decisions by the Court that we don’t agree with. If they fine us, so what? Judge Spielmann warns against such an approach, first because if governments don’t respect the rule of law, how can they ask their citizens to do so? “A decision of a court must be executed,” he says. “If a decision is not executed this is a violation of the rule of law which is a basic principle of any democracy.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Islamist Gang That Wanted to Start War With the EDL: Bomb Attack Would Have Sparked ‘Spiral of Terror’ With Far-Right

Six British jihadists plotted to blow up an English Defence League rally to spark a ‘tit-for-tat spiral of violence and terror’, a court heard yesterday.

The extremists wanted to ‘execute a terrible vengeance’ on the far-Right group for its ‘blasphemous words and actions’ against Islam.

The six planned to attack the EDL with a nail bomb, shotguns, samurai swords and knives.

They drove from their homes in Birmingham on June 30 last year to set off the bomb at a rally in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

However, the meeting finished early and by the time the six arrived the 750 EDL members had left.

Anti-terrorist officers were unaware of the plot and the six were only caught by chance because their car was uninsured.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Ipswich: Support to Honour Woolwich Heroine Ingrid Loyau-Kennett

A petition to award Britain’s highest civilian honour to the mother who confronted one of the suspected terrorists accused of murdering soldier Drummer Lee Rigby has attracted nearly 60,000 signatures.

The campaign to award Ingrid Loyau-Kennett as well as Amanda Donnelly and her daughter Gemini Donnelly-Martin the George medal, which is awarded to civilians for acts of great bravery, has been spearheaded by Woolwich rector Rev Jesse van der Valk. Miss Loyau-Kennett, 48, formerly of Charles Place, Grundisburgh, calmly spoke to the alleged attackers while Amanda and Gemini comforted the 25-year-old soldier as he lay on the ground outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, London, on May 22.

Rev van der Valk said: “The fact that no other bystander was hurt in the incident is testament to the courageous actions of these women. As the Rector of Woolwich I saw how the tragedy hit this community hard, but the actions of Gemma, Amanda and Ingrid has been an inspiration to all of us. Instead of running away when they saw danger they went straight to the heart of it.”

Miss Loyau-Kennett, a former Snowy Owl Brownie leader in Ipswich, was travelling on a bus to Victoria when the horrific events unfolded last month. She spoke to the men for around 10 minutes. The mother-of-two said: “All that time more and more people were stopping and I was keen to keep him talking in case other soldiers came past. It was just really daunting with all those eyes on me and I was quite scared because there were lots of mothers stopping with their kids.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Lewes Friend of Tragic Soldier Lee Rigby Speaks of Heartbreak

An injured soldier who taught murdered drummer Lee Rigby music has spoken of his heartbreak. Tom Freret, from Lewes, was seriously injured as he served in Afghanistan in 2008 after a bomb exploded just 30 metres from him. The 26-year-old, who has since left the Second Royal Princess of Wales Regiment, returned to theUKand went to stay in Woolwich barracks where he met Lee, who was killed last month. ‘In his memory’ He told The Argus: “It shocked and horrified me enough to find out that a soldier had been hacked to death in broad daylight metres from where I was based in Woolwich while carrying out public duties, even more so when I found out it was a friend of mine.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Mother, 30, Posed as Her Daughter Online to Trap a Pervert Who Was Trying to Arrange Sex With Her 12-Year-Old

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

A mother posed as her 12-year-old daughter to trap an internet pervert who was trying to arrange a meeting for sex.

The ‘quick-thinking’ woman played along with an online chat with Raymond Attwood — who had been using Facebook to try and groom her daughter — so she could find out who he was and tell the police.

Attwood, 30, told police after his arrest that he spent all his time looking at pornography sites and playing war games.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Mosque Leaders: We Are Willing to Sit Down With EDL

Chris Mallett goes to Derby’s Jamia Mosque in the aftermath of the death of Lee Rigby. THE words in this headline were spoken by Derby’s Jamia mosque secretary Nazir Hussain in the aftermath of the death of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich on May 22.

Drummer Rigby’s killing, allegedly at the hands of two Muslim men, shocked the UK and prompted a series of protests from far-right groups. The English Defence League (EDL) held several events in towns and cities, with one of its members claiming “Islam in this country has gone radical”.

And BNP leader Nick Griffin told TV news that, if people “believe the lie” that “Islam is a religion of peace” then “more lads will die like Lee Rigby”. But, sitting in the Jamia Mosque’s business-like office, listening to Mr Hussain and imam Qazi Abdul Mateen, it seems to be Mr Griffin who is guilty of fabrication. The message is clear — the Jamia Mosque in Rose Hill Street, Normanton, is open to everyone. And this is no knee-jerk reaction to a soldier’s tragic killing…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Patients Shun NHS for Clinics Run by Polish GPS: Cut-Price Private Surgeries Where You Can See a Doctor Seven Days a Week

A private doctor’s surgery run by Poles is attracting thousands of patients who have given up on the NHS.

Open seven days a week, usually until 11pm, the clinic gives half-hour appointments — three times longer than usual.

And, despite charging £70 a visit, it already has almost 6,000 Britons on its books. Customers are welcomed into the spotless and modern centre by friendly receptionists whose motto is to ‘put patients first’.

Radek Przypis, who manages the My Medyk clinic in West London, said he realised there was ‘a gap in the market because NHS care was so poor’. He added: ‘You have heard the stories about people going to GPs and whatever is wrong with you they give you a paracetamol and tell you to go away.

‘People find it hard to get help. They want to come to one place that they know, where they know what to expect, get the treatment and from people they trust.

‘Our patients are our customers, they are the most important things for us, that is our company motto. Perhaps that is not always the same attitude with the NHS.’

Research shows that two thirds of Health Service patients have to wait more than 48 hours for a doctor’s appointment and few slots are available outside the regular working week.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Robust Policing Set for Lincoln Anti-Mosque Protest

Lincolnshire Police said it would deal robustly with any troublemakers at the planned anti-mosque protest in Lincoln on Saturday, June 8. Hundreds of protestors from a group called East Anglian Patriots, possibly an off-shoot of the English Defence League (EDL), are set to gather in Lincoln from 1pm to protest against the mosque set to be built in Lincoln on the former site of the Boultham dairy, along with a supermarket and housing development. A demonstration calling for “unity against racism” will also take place at the same time at Cornhill Square off Lincoln High Street, where dozens of people are expected to oppose the anti-mosque protest. John Latham from the City of Lincoln Council said that despite the protest, Lincoln will see business as usual on Saturday…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Selfridges Robbery: ‘Men in Burkas’ In ‘Smash and Grab’

Six men armed with axes have carried out a “smash-and-grab” raid at London’s Selfridges department store.

Police said the robbers, reportedly dressed in burkas, smashed glass cabinets to steal high value watches. Two suspects were later arrested when they came off a moped and members of the public stopped them fleeing. The store in Oxford Street tweeted no-one was hurt in Thursday’s robbery. The value of the stolen watches has yet to be established…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Six Muslims to be Sentenced Over EDL Attack

Today sees the sentencing of six Birmingham Muslims who were prepared to take on the far right English Defence League (EDL).

They spent at least eight weeks planning a potential deadly attack on an EDL rally in Dewsbury last year, writes Channel 4 News Home Affairs Correspondent Simon Israel.

The prosecution on Thursday stressed that this was not amateurish plot. They had watched dozens of YouTube videos of EDL rallies in preparation. They had gone on reconnaissance. They had listened to rousing Anwar al-Awlaki sermons about retaliation on the car DVD player. They were armed with swords, knives, machetes and sawn off shotguns…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Unite Against Fascism’s Mosque Vigil Redux

A UAF “vigil” tonight has echoes of their 2009 event when Michael Adebalajo gave his now famous “kuffar” speech

Following the despicable burning of a mosque in Muswell Hill yesterday, Unite Against Fascism (UAF), the hard-Left group that recently disrupted a UKIP event and retains an Islamist as its Vice Chair, is set to hold a “vigil” tonight near the scene of the crime. Setting aside for a moment that UAF, to my knowledge, held no such vigil after the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, it concerns me that such an event is now taking place at all.

Not because I think demonstrating against the English Defence League (EDL), which UAF points to in its announcement of the demo, is a troublesome cause. But rather, because the last time to my memory that UAF held a vigil outside a mosque was when Woolwich terrorist Michael Adebalajo gave his now infamous “kuffar” speech in Harrow (right), just a stone’s throw from Muswell Hill.

We haven’t heard a peep about that from the mainstream media, nor from UAFs supporters which include the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and a plethora of Members of Parliament and public figures. UAF states on its website: “We are deeply concerned about the fire of the Bravanese Centre and the reported EDL graffiti. Our thoughts are with the Somali, Muslim and indeed all the communities in the area that have been affected by this incident. We ask people to join us at the vigil.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Wind Farms Are a ‘Complete Scam’, Claims the Environment Secretary Who Says Plans for Turbines Are Causing ‘Huge Unhappiness’

Wind farms have been branded a ‘complete scam’ by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, reigniting coalition battle over green power.

As the government unveiled new powers for local residents to block turbines blighting their villages, Mr Paterson condemned many planned schemes as ‘deeply unpopular’ and causing ‘huge unhappiness’ across the country.

The outspoken remarks from a senior Tory minister in charge of environmental policy risks a furious reaction from Liberal Democrats pushing for more renewable power projects.

The Conservatives have taken a tougher line on wind farms in recent months, and this week unveiled plans to give communities a powerful ‘veto’ over controversial new onshore developments.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why Sweden Has Riots

by Johan Norberg

The fault-line in Polly Toynbee’s perfect society

‘All of them should have been very happy,’ Robert A. Heinlein begins his 1942 novel Beyond This Horizon. The material problem has been solved on this future earth, poverty and disease have been eradicated, work is optional. And yet parts of the citizenry are not enthusiastic. Some are bored, others are preparing a revolt. Why should that be, in such a utopian world?…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Tourism Won’t be Affected if June 30 Protests Are Peaceful — Minister

The tourism sector will not be affected by the planned June 30 protests as long as they remain peaceful, tourism minister Hisham Za’zou’ said on Wednesday. Za’zou’ warned against the repercussions of violence on the future of tourism in Egypt, the Middle East News Agency reported. Several political parties and powers had called for peaceful demonstrations on June 30 which coincides with the passage of one year on President Mohamed Mursi’s rule. The protests will call for toppling the regime and holding early presidential elections…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Intellectuals Protest Against the Islamization of Egyptian Culture

Hundreds stationed for days in front of the Ministry of Culture. Writers, directors, singers and actors calling for the resignation of the new Minister Alaa Abdel Aziz. Dozens of officials dismissed for political reasons.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Intellectuals, writers, journalists, filmmakers, and celebrities are protesting against the Islamization of Egyptian culture. Since last June 5th hundreds of people have been stationed in front of the Ministry of Culture, to demand the resignation of the new Minister Alaa Abdel Aziz accused of firing dozens of officials for no reason other than the fact they were not linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Among the protesters who have joined the sit-in is novelist Sonallah Ibrahim, famous for having refused a prestigious State award in 2003, because of his opposition to the Mubarak regime, the director Khaled Youssef, known for his constant opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood , film producer Mohamed al-Adl and actors Nabil al-Halfawy, Mahmoud Qabil and Sameh al-Seriety, the poet Sayed Hegab and the important novelist Bahaa Taher.

The event comes after the three-day strike organized by the employees of Cairo Opera against the policies of Abdel Aziz.

On 7 May the President Mohamed Morsi presented the members of the new government cabinet, handing nine ministries to political personalities affiliated to his Freedom and Justice Party. Morsi appointed Ahmed Issa Ahmed, an expert on Islamic and Coptic culture as Minister of Antiquities. The choice contrasts with the custom that has always attributed its management of the national ministry for culture to internationally recognized intellectuals and experts in Egyptian archeology.

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

Kerry’s Secret Gift to Egypt

While employees of American NGOs sat in Egyptian prisons, Secretary of State John Kerry quietly waived the law that would prevent the U.S. from sending the Egyptian military $1.3 billion worth of weapons this year.

Congress erupted in anger June 4, when Egyptian courts sentenced 43 NGO workers, including 16 Americans, to jail terms of up to five years for working in NGOs not registered with the government. Only one of those Americans, the National Democratic Institute’s Robert Becker, actually stayed in Egypt to await the verdict. He was given two years in prison. The other American organizations targeted included the International Republican Institute and Freedom House. All of those organizations had been operating in the open in Egypt for several years before the government raided their offices and forced them to flee the country in December 2011.

But what most in Congress didn’t know was that on May 10, Kerry had waived the restrictions lawmakers had put in place to make sure that U.S. military aid to Egypt wouldn’t continue unless Egypt made progress on its path to democracy, rule of law, and human rights. The State Department’s notification of Kerry’s move, which was never released to the public, was obtained by The Daily Beast.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Landmine Kills 2 Soldiers, Injures 2 in Tunisia

TUNIS, June 6 (Xinhua) — Two Tunisian soldiers were killed and two others injured in a landmine explosion in the western region, official TAP press agency reported Thursday. The explosion took place when the soldiers’ car was hit by a landmine in a populated area in Mountain Chaambi near the Algerian border. The two injured were sent to a local hospital by helicopter.

The army issued a statement on Thursday urging locals in the area to be vigilant and to cooperate with security forces against terrorism. This is the fifth landmine explosion since the beginning of the anti-terrorist operation in Mountain Chaambi a few months ago. But, it is the first time army personnel are killed by landmines during the anti-terrorist operations.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Morocco: Rebeca Grynspan — Remarks at the Regional Seminar on ‘The Evolving Relationship Between Citizens and Parliaments in the Arab World’

Remarks for Rebeca Grynspan, UN Under Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator

“Crafting Policies With Human Development at the Centre: Parliament’s Role” at the Regional Seminar on “The evolving relationship between citizens and parliaments in the Arab world” jointly organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), UNDP and the Parliament of Morocco, 5 June 2013, Rabat, Morocco

President of the IPU, Hon. Abdhalwahad Radi,

President of the House of Representatives, Hon. Karim Ghellab,

President of the House of Councilors, Mohammed Cheikh Biadillah,

Honorable MPs,


Parliamentary Development Practitioners;

I am delighted to join you for this timely session. I must first thank our Moroccan hosts for their warm hospitality and the valuable partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and the Inter-Parliamentary Union…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: Wounded… And Dangerous

US Secretary of State John Kerry looks like a bit of an idiot these days. On Monday he announced that he will be returning to Israel and the Palestinian Authority and Jordan for the fifth time since he was sworn into office on February 1. That is an average of more than one visit a month.

And aside from frequent flier miles, the only thing he has to show for it is a big black eye from PLO chief and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

When Kerry was here last month he unveiled a stunning plan to bring $4 billion in investment funds to the PA. If his plan actually pans out, its champions claim it will increase the PA’s GDP by a mind-numbing 50 percent in three years and drop Palestinian unemployment from 21 to 8 percent.

Standing before world and regional leaders on May 26, Kerry said plaintively, “This will help build the future. Is this a fantasy? I don’t think so.”

Abbas and his underlings wasted no time, however, in demonstrating that indeed, Kerry’s plan is fantasy…


           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]

Palestinians Unite Behind Gaza Refugee on Course to Become Arab Idol

A Palestinian singer has cast off the burden of growing up in a refugee camp to become the favourite to win Arab Idol after inspiring adulation across Gaza and the West Bank.

Viewers voted Mohammad Assaf, 22, through to the next stage of the popular television talent contest after a bravura rendition of God Be With All Lovers — originally made famous by one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest singing stars — in the latest episode of the Beirut-based show last Friday. He is now among the last six contestants from an original field of 27 in a competition whose outcome will be decided in the next month…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

10 Killed, 53 Wounded in Iraq’s Violence

BAGHDAD, June 6 (Xinhua) — Ten people were killed and 53 wounded in separate shootings and bombings in central and northern Iraq on Thursday, the police said. Up to five people, including two policemen, were killed and 30 wounded when two roadside bombs detonated near a police patrol in Nahrawan area, in the southeastern part of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. Earlier, the source put the toll at three killed and 14 wounded. In a separate incident, a booby-trapped car went off at the industrial area in Baghdad southern district of Baiyaa, killing two people and wounding up to 14, the source added…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

2 Gunmen Killed in Clash With Lebanese Army

BEIRUT, June 6 (Xinhua) — Two gunmen were killed while clashing with soldiers at an army checkpoint in a Lebanese border town in the northeast, a military statement said Thursday. A group of armed men riding a pickup truck attacked the checkpoint and clashed with the soldiers guarding it on the outskirts of the flashpoint town of Arsal, the statement said…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Al-Qaeda Calls on Syrian Rebels to Build Anti-Western State

Al-Qaeda’s high command staked its interest in the outcome of Syria’s civil war yesterday as its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called on jihadist fighters to build an anti-Western state after toppling Bashar al-Assad.

In remarks that underline how al-Qaeda now sees the Syrian conflict as its best political chance in years, Zawahiri warned rebel fighters not to do the West’s work by replacing President Assad with a moderate, democratic government. Instead, he called for the creation of an Islamic caliphate that would then wage all-out war with neighbouring Israel. “America, its agents and allies want you to shed your blood and the blood of your children and women to bring down the criminal Ba’athist regime, and then set up a government loyal to them and to safeguard Israel’s security,” he said…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Iran: Reformist Presidential Candidate Banned From Holding Electoral Rally

Tehran, 7 June (AKI) — Iran’s hardline authorities have denied permission to pro-reform presidential candidate Mohammad Reza Aref to hold a rally in the city of Mashad ahead of the 14 June election, reformist website Rahesabz reports.

Iranian intelligence services on Friday disabled the reformist website Aref-Rohani, which had launched a campaign urging Aref and fellow reformist candidate Hassan Rouhani to form a united front against their conservative rivals.

In another sign of the crackdown on Iran’s reformists, on Thursday, authorities in the holy city of Qom banned a demonstration that had been planned to commemorate the late dissident cleric and pro-reformist Jalal-e Din Taheri.

Aref, a moderate reformist, was vice-president in the first government of former reformist president Seyyed Mohammad Khatami.

During the run-up to the June vote, he has attacked Iran’s conservatives and proposed radical foreign and domestic policy reforms.

Aref has also said he’ll work towards the release from house arrest of opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

Iran’s Guardian Council has cleared eight candidates for Iran’s 14 June presidential election, some more conservative than others.

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

Not Enough Executioners for Saudi Arabia’s Death Row Inmates

Justice Ministers plans to add shooting to beheading as a method of execution; not out of compassion, but because the lack of executioners is causing a backlog. Since January 2013, at least 40 people have been executed, the last one on 14 May. Last year, 76 people were executed.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Saudi Arabia is governed by Sharia and people sentenced to death are executed with a sword in accordance with Islamic law. However, fewer people are interested in a “career” in executing others, a task that requires a lot of cold blood and a lot of training in how to swing properly the sword. In fact, a memo from the Saudi Justice Ministry is bemoaning a labour shortage in people trained to use the blade.

Within the kingdom, courts are forced to compete for executioners, who must travel around the country to carry out sentences. This is slowing down the justice system. To speed matters up, the Justice Ministry has issued an order allowing courts to shoot prisoners on the grounds that this method is not unIslamic.

In reality, the lack of trained executioners has not slowed down executions in Saudi Arabia. Since the beginning 2013, at least 40 people have been put to death. The last case occurred on 14 May in Najran, in the country’s south-west. The executed felon, Maneh al-Daen, had been convicted of stabbing to death a fellow tribesman. Last year, the kingdom executed 76 people.

For years, the main human rights groups and many Western governments have tried to get the Saudi kingdom to implement fairer trials and less cruel executions. However, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where the death sentence by beheading can be carried out in a public place.

The death penalty is applied in cases of murder, armed robbery, rape and drug trafficking, as well as witchcraft and sodomy.

No less cruel are sentences for minor offences s such as theft and crimes of opinion, which in addition to jail time, may include public flogging or the chopping off of hands or feet.

Recently, a case involving two men, a Lebanese and a Saudi, sentenced to six years in prison and 300 lashes for pushing a young woman to convert to Christianity, generated a lot of discussion in the country. They were convicted despite the fact that the young woman, who is a refugee in Sweden, defended the two, saying in a video that she had converted without compulsion.

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

Red Flags Over Turkish Rioters

Most Americans think that any trouble in the Middle East comes from Islamic radicals.

In reality, much of it comes from the old pro-Moscow communist parties which are still very strong and growing in influence in the region. The communists work with and often control local radical Islamic factions on behalf of their Russian allies.

The Communist Party of Turkey is up to its eyeballs in the current mass rioting in Turkey.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Convicted Murder Beheaded With Ceremonial Sword

Riad, 4 June (AKI) — A Saudi citizen was beheaded with a ceremonial sword on Tuesday in the southwest of the country after being found guilty of murder, the interior ministry said.

Shuwail al-Amri was convicted of deliberately running over and killing Mohammed al-Amri after an argument, the ministry stated.

Al-Amri’s beheading brought to 48 the number of people executed in the conservative Islamic country this year. There been an increase in executions over the past six months, according to Amnesty International.

In 2012, a total of 69 people were beheaded in Saudi Arabia, according to rights groups.

At least 250 prisoners remained on death row, including some sentenced for non-violent offences such as apostasy and sorcery.

Rape, homicide, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking all all capital crimes in Saudi Arabia.

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

Syria: Can David Cameron Explain Why He Has Put us on Al-Qaeda’s Side?

Just like Tony Blair over Iraq, the Prime Minister has lost touch with reality when it comes to Syria

Sir Peter Tapsell, father of the Commons, said that Syria was now enduring what is “fundamentally a religious war between the Shia and the Sunni, which has raged within Islam for 1,300 years”.

Mr Cameron would not accept this point. “When I see the official Syrian opposition,” he replied, “I do not see purely a religious grouping; I see a group of people who have declared that they are in favour of democracy, human rights and a future for minorities, including Christians, in Syria. That is the fact of the matter.”

Then Jack Straw, a former foreign secretary, asked whether the Prime Minister agreed that Iran would have to be part of any peace deal. Mr Cameron failed to deal with this essential question.

At the time of the Iraq invasion 10 years ago, something very like this happened to Tony Blair. A moment came when he too entered a virtual world.

Like Mr Blair, Mr Cameron has come to advocate policy in a macabre vacuum, devoid of truth or understanding.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Syria: ‘Pro-Government Forces Going After Fleeing Rebels’

Beirut, 7 June (AKI) — Forces loyal to Syria’s authoritarian president Bashaar al-Assad are hunting down rebels seeking to flee the area around the strategic western city of Qusayr, opposition activists said on Friday.

“Clashes broke out at dawn between the army and rebels on the outskirts of the village of Dabaa, north of Qusayr,” said the UK-based Syrian Human Rights Observatory, which relies for its information on a network of activists and medics based on the ground.

The watchdog said army reinforcements were massing in the northern province of Aleppo aiming primarily to take insurgent-held territory along the border with Turkey after Syrian state TV announced Thursday that pro-government forces had re-taken Dabaa.

The government scored a major victory on Wednesday when rebels conceded that they had lost the battle for Qusayr after the army claimed it had seized total control of it and the surrounding region, aided by fighters from the militant Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah.

Qusayr, located just 10 kilometres from the Lebanese border, is a lifeline for the Syrian government connecting Damascus with the coast and is a strategic point along the supply route for Hezbollah weapons and fighters.

Analysts say regime forces will now turn their attention to the central city of Homs, where some areas are still rebel in rebel hands.

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

Syria: Al-Qusair Churches Show the Signs of the War Against Assad and of the Religious Hatred of the Rebels

After a year of siege, only some 500 residents are left in town, with most houses now a pile of rubble. Its 3,000 Christian residents are gone, centuries of coexistence in ruin, with the St Elijah monastery desecrated by Islamist militias.

Beirut (AsiaNews) — The battle between rebels and army for al-Qusair left the town in ruin, now reduced to a pile of rubble. Of the 30,000 residents, including some 3,000 Christians, who lived there before the start of the Civil War, only 500 are left. Images broadcast by the BBC show deserted streets, most residential and public buildings destroyed by mortar fire, or turned into weapons depots by anti-Assad militias, who occupied the town for over a year.

The siege did not spare mosques and churches that for centuries stood side by side, an example of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians.

Several Orthodox Christian buildings were desecrated by Islamist rebels, as several witnesses testified, including the BBC’s Lyse Doucet, the first foreign journalist to enter in Al-Qusair.

In a report, the British correspondent describes the state of neglect of the small Greek Orthodox monastery of St Elijah, symbol of the local Christian community. In recent months, the rebels vented their rage at the building, riddled with artillery shells.

On the floor, dozens of religious objects lay, scattered. On the walls, a few icons and statues are still hanging, but most of them are defaced and slashed, a sign of wanton, not accidental destruction.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Fr Simon Faddoul, president of Caritas Lebanon, said that for over a year there were no news about the Christian community of Al-Qusair.

“Most of them,” he said, “fled when the city fell into the hands of the rebels in 2012. Unlike Muslims, many Christians have crossed the border with Lebanon. Most of the families however preferred to seek refuge in other cities or villages. “ (S.C.)

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

Syria: War Casualties: Girls Bought by Perverted Saudis

Syrian asks, ‘Why hasn’t your president confronted them about this?’

[WARNING: Disturbing content ]

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Rich Saudi Arabian men — some of whom are closely associated with the Saudi royal family — have been purchasing for their sexual pleasure Syrian girls and young women from among the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war conflict to Lebanon and Jordan, evidence suggests, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Most of the Saudis suspected of such atrocities are in their 60s and 70s. When they tire of the girls, these Saudi men often hand them off to other men, or the girls somehow just disappear, witnesses say.

“They come into Lebanon and Jordan and go to the Syrian refugee camps where the Syrian families there have nothing,” one Lebanese source said. “The Saudis then offer $200 for girls aged nine to 14 years and take them from their families. Because the families are so desperate for money, they give in to the temptation.”

Local Lebanese sources say that it is the Sunni Saudi men who make such overtures. Shiite Iranian men do not engage in such activities. However, Qatari men reportedly also have engaged in such activities with the young Syrian girls, but less so than the Saudi men.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Syrian Troops Recapture Border Crossing at Golan Heights After Fierce Fighting

Austria to pull out its 380 troops, the largest contingent in UN force at Golan

Syrian troops backed up by tanks and armoured vehicles yesterday recaptured the Quneitra crossing-point on the ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, driving off rebel gunmen who had overrun the site. Two UN observers were wounded by shrapnel landing close to their base in the buffer zone. Israel responded by declaring its side of the line a “closed military zone”, deploying tanks, and warning farmers to keep away. Israel also complained to the UN that Syrian forces had violated the 1974 ceasefire agreement by moving armoured vehicles into the area…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Syria: Peacekeepers in Disarray as Austrians Withdraw From Golan Heights

The UN force in the Golan Heights was thrown into disarray Thursday after Austria withdrew its troops and two peacekeepers were injured as Syrian government and rebel fighters battled for a border crossing.

Peacekeepers from the Philippines and India were wounded by mortar shrapnel as the two sides fought for the strategic crossing, according to diplomats. UN leaders held emergency talks to replace the 377 Austrian troops who make up more than a third of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which has monitored a ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974. Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger called UN chief Ban Ki-moon to tell him of the withdrawal, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

The Truth About Erdogan: Turkey’s ‘Other 50 Percent’ Demand a Voice

By Oliver Trenkamp

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is driving a wedge through his country. While one half reveres him as a savior, the other reviles him as a dictator. By continuing to condemn his opponents and ignore their demands, he is playing a dangerous game.

In Turkey, there are always at least two truths. On Taksim Square in Istanbul, and on the streets of many other cities in 77 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, the prevailing truth is that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is curtailing civil rights, governing in an autocratic manner and is trying to force his conservative religious values on the population.

That is the truth motivating tens of thousands of demonstrators to take to the streets for six days, despite tear-gas and truncheon attacks by police. The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) estimates that three people have died and more than 4,000 have been wounded during the protests. There are no reliable figures regarding the number of arrests.

But there is another truth in Kasimpasa, the former dockyard area of Istanbul where Erdogan grew up, and in other more religious parts of the city and in villages throughout the country. In these areas the prevailing truth is that rioters, who have possibly been incited by opposition leaders and foreigners, are running wild and wrecking the cities, waging a campaign against Islam and vilifying the lone politician deserving of praise. The police, in this view, are only reacting so brutally because they are forced to.

Members of Erdogan’s base live in these areas. They make up the 50 percent of Turkish voters who bestowed a victory on his Justice and Development Party (AKP) two years ago. In fact, the party won a share of the vote almost twice as large as that of the biggest opposition party, the center-left Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Erdogan has viewed this victory as a mandate for governing in any way he deems fit. Whether it has to do with a new shopping mall or the peace process with the Kurds, he calls the shots. As the protests have grown larger, Erdogan has even claimed that he has only been able to restrain his 50 percent with difficulty. It is a rather blatant threat — and a dangerous one, as well.

Turkey ‘s Most Divisive Politician

Large orange, blue and white flags have been draped across the street at Erdogan’s AKP party’s office in Kasimpasa. It is only a few blocks from Gezi Park, the now-occupied area of sycamore trees within Taksim Square where the protests started. A uniformed guard sits, bored, in a security post in front of the party’s office. The door is open. There are no threats. People in Kasimpasa are standing behind their “Baba,” as some call Erdogan….

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Erdogan Speech Risks Inflaming Protest

Premier’s hardline speech at airport overnight elicits alarm

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA — Fears are high in Turkey that Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s confrontational speech last night upon returning from a four-day mission to the Maghreb could ignite further violence.

Addressing thousands of his supporters who were chanting slogans like “Show us the way, we will destroy Taksim” and “We’re ready to die for you Tayyip”, the embattled premier branded the hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters that have been taking to the streets all over Turkey for the past week as “vandals”, calling on them to “immediately” stop the protest and blaming the unrest on foreign interference.

“Honest citizens that have been manipulated by terrorist organizations must turn back”, he warned. Erdogan’s words elicited alarm among thousands of anti-government demonstrators who listened to his speech in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, in Ankara’s Kizilay Square, in Tunali, and in other cities. “He has declared a civil war. From now on things have changed”, one young protester in Taksim Square reacted. “He has declared war on his people”, @welsla protested via Twitter. “There is now a fear of civil war”, tweeted @fulyacandas. “The most incendiary speech in Turkish politics”, wrote @canikligil. “Erdogan is setting Turkey on fire”, moderate independent daily Taraf opined.

Erdogan’s deputies have been trying to calm the situation down and to start a dialogue with the protesters while the premier was in the Maghreb. These include President Abdullah Gul and Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc, who on Tuesday apologized for widespread police brutality during the crackdown on the first protests in Istanbul.

The EU, the US, various Western nations and several human rights organizations have condemned the ferocious police repression of the protest, which has so far left three demonstrators dead and almost 5,000 wounded. One police officer died when he fell from a bridge under construction while chasing protesters.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey’s Ruling Party in No Danger Amid Protests

ANKARA, June 6 (Xinhua) — The Turkish government would not yield to the nationwide protests, but is likely to “maneuver” its way out of this crisis, analysts predicted. “It was not surprising that (Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan decided not to yield into the demands of protesters. Judging from his character, he will keep fighting to the end,” Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat, former deputy chairman of governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party), told Xinhua. The Turkish government has been differentiating violent groups from peaceful protesters in the nationwide demonstrations, comparing the “extremists” in the protests to the “terrorists” who attacked U.S. embassy in Ankara in February…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Turkey Redux

by Rod Liddle

It must be boring for you too, returning to the same complaint, over and over again. Report on the BBC’s 10 O’Clock News about the trouble in Turkey. Not a single mention, in the three minutes, of the words Islam, or Muslim, or Islamification. You had to infer everything. Without prior knowledge of what was going on, you would have been utterly mystified as to why people were unhappy. You noted that all of the protestors were young, middle class, educated and the women fashionably unveiled; well spoken, good English and so on. And you would have wondered then who the alleged ‘50 per cent’ who support the Prime Minister might be; what are they dressed like? Is this an argument about poverty, or what? Not a mention of the causes. And this way of reporting the news is how half-wits like Professor Plum (see comments below) are able to form their half-baked views: the protests were about a park plus also probably something to do with Israel. Succour for imbeciles. If this had been the other way about, the reporting would have been very different.

[Reader comment by Shazza on 8 June 2013 at about 11 am.]

Well said and brave too, Rod. I have come to the conclusion, as has Douglas Murray after watching him being interviewed on Sun TV, that it is just plain and simple terror of islam that prevents any constructive criticism of this fascist ideology. Our ‘leaders’ are terrified of the monster that they deliberately and actively encouraged to take up residence in our formerly ‘boring’ societies.

[JP note: See here for Professor Plum’s infamous comment ]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

US Communists Back Turkish Rioters, Trying to Enlist Congressional Support

Predictably the Communist Party USA is backing their Turkish counterparts in their efforts to overturn the Erdogan Government.

The CPUSA hints that Turkey is being targeted for membership of NATO and for helping the U.S. against the pro-Moscow Assad regime in Syria. Turning Turkey from a NATO member to a Russian ally, would be a major strategic victory for Moscow.

This unrest is a warning to any country who dares oppose the Russian agenda in the Middle East.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

As Russia Re-Arms in the North, NATO Does Nothing

– — From Defense News:

Norway’s ambition of persuading NATO to establish a strong direct military presence in the Arctic High North — and as a strategic counterweight to Russia’s intensifying rearming programs in the region — suffered a setback after the leader of NATO said the alliance has no plans to expand its role there.

Russia’s multibillion-dollar rearming of its northern and eastern naval, air and land combat capabilities has raised the ire of its Nordic neighbors in recent weeks.

On March 30, Russian fighter jets and bombers staged a large-scale, Cold War-type simulated bomb-run attack on military and industrial targets on the Swedish mainland. That produced a highly critical riposte in political quarters in Sweden after it emerged that the Swedish Air Force (SAF) had no capacity on that night to scramble JAS Gripen fighter jets to deal with the simulated threat.

Much to Sweden’s embarrassment, the immediate threat was handled by Danish F-16s operating from NATO’s Baltic air policing station at Siauliai in Lithuania.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Exclusive! Part 1: Former KGB Colonel Victor Kalashnikov on the Dangers of Putin Worship

Russia’s Anti-Western Alliance With Islam, Plans to Destroy NATO, Iran, Syria, the New KGB and Cooperation With European Fascists

Viktor Kalashnikov is a Russian freelance journalist and a former KGB colonel. In the autumn of 2010, he and his wife Marina, a historian, were treated in a hospital in Germany for mercury poisoning in what they said had been an attempt on their lives by Russia’ s FSB, the successor to the KGB. He is a distant relative of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47.

Kalashnikov and his wife have been publishing articles critical of the Kremlin since the 1990s. After living in Europe for several years they are now back in Moscow.

A few days ago I received a call from Victor Kalashnikov in Moscow, a former KGB officer who now works as an investigative journalist. He was eager to share his analysis of recent global events. This was also an opportunity to ask his opinion about the global economy and the crisis in Syria. “Your side is losing,” he complained. “Did you read Barack Obama’s speech at National Defense University? What was this reference to the Twilight Struggle of the Cold War in his speech? What is this?”

Obama had spoken of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, saying that “a new dawn of democracy” had taken hold abroad. It was the sort of thing American presidents liked to repeat.

“I’m sorry to say,” Kalashnikov continued, “the president’s statement is at variance with my own perception. He says that your homeland is more secure today and there have been no more big attacks. Usually supreme commanders refrain from saying things like that. Undoubtedly you know what Hezbollah is. It’s not a loose group of fighters. It is a large organization. They use satellite TV programs to spread their radical Islamic ideas. So you may dismantle a bomb or destroy a terrorist network or base, but it would be premature to feel somehow relaxed. Moreover, Hezbollah’s program of indoctrination is going on worldwide. That’s the point. You Americans, whether you like it or not, are confronting an aggressive Islam, and Islam is a huge thing. It is very flexible, very motivated.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Russian President Putin, Wife Announce Divorce

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila announced Thursday they are divorcing after nearly 30 years of marriage.

The Putins made the statement on state television after attending a ballet performance at the Kremlin.

“It was our joint decision,” Putin said.

Lyudmila Putin was rarely seen in public during her husband’s long tenure at the top of Russian politics and implied that she didn’t like to travel with him on his frequent trips.

“I don’t like publicity and flying is difficult for me,” she said.

The Putins married on July 28, 1983, and have two daughters, Maria and Yekaterina. In the televised announcement of their divorce, Putin appeared reserved and Lyudmila smiled tentatively.

“We practically never saw each other. To each his own life,” Putin said.

Lyudmila Putin said, “We will eternally be very close people. I’m thankful … that he supports me.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Bangladesh: Dinajpur: Dozens of Extremists Raid Seminary, Attacking Rector and Some Students

A mob of about sixty people attacked the building, violently beating Fr. Uzzal and some seminarians. Previously they had attacked a tribal Catholic village, stealing cows, goats, utensils. And threatened to burn homes. On June 5, the parish of Tumilia under attack.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) — A mob of dozens has raided a seminary of the diocese of Dinajpur, northern Bangladesh, injuring the rector and a group of students inside the building at the time of the attack. The raid took place at 3 pm yesterday: about 60 local fanatics broke down the doors of the Jisu Niloy seminary, pouring inside the compound. The group targeted the rector Fr. Uzzal, surprised in his room while he was resting; the assailants knocked down his door and violently beat him and some students present at the time of the attack.

During the assault, the fanatics blocked the young students of the seminary and beat them with violence and brutality. The Jisu Niloy seminary is located Bolakipur and refers to Marimpur parish in the Diocese of Dinajpur.

Previously, the same mob had raided the nearby tribal village — Catholic majority — of Tivipara and Bagja. The assault occurred at 1 .30 pm, they plundered the inhabitants of 40 cows, 50 goats, a van, fruit and many other objects and utensils. Before leaving, the assailants threatened to come back the next night and burn the residents homes.

Most of the men fled the area for fear of new attacks, the women and children, however, have found refuge in the Catholic mission, where there are more security guarantees. The Catholics of the area belong to the tribal Santals, Urao, Mundas, Kharias and Malos.

Over the past few days there have been a wave of assaults and targeted violence against the Christian community in Bangladesh, a largely Muslim nation: June 5 it was the turn of the parish of Tumilia, which was attacked by extremists. The parish priest Fr. Abel was beaten and robbed, along with another priest.

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed)

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

Car Bomb Hits NATO Base in Afghan Helmand Province

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan, June 6 (Xinhua) — A suicide car bomb went off near a NATO base in Naw Zad district in southern Afghan province of Helmand on Thursday evening, causing casualties, said an official. “A militant rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into the gate of the foreign forces’ military base in Anzar Shali area of Naw Zad district at around 5 p.m. local time, causing casualties,” the district administrative chief, Seyad Murad, told Xinhua. Murad said that a joint team has launched an investigation into the incident and details will be released afterward.

Meanwhile, a provincial police official told Xinhua anonymously that the blast killed three Georgian soldiers of the coalition and injuring six other Georgian troops. Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban purported spokesman, has claimed the responsibility for the incident. He told local media that a Taliban member named Abdul Ghafar carried out the bombing, inflicting huge casualties on foreign soldiers.

The Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the militant group launched an annual offensive in late April against Afghan government forces and about 100,000 NATO-led troops stationed in the country. On May 13, three Georgian soldiers were killed in a similar attack in Helmand province 555 km south of Afghan capital Kabul. Nearly 900 Georgian soldiers have been serving within the framework of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the war-hit country.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Key Al-Qaeda Bomb Maker

WASHINGTON, June 6 (Xinhua) — The Department of Treasury on Thursday imposed sanctions on Abd al-Hamid al-Masli, an alleged key bomb maker for al-Qaeda. The department called the move the latest in its efforts to target the facilitators of improvised explosive devices (IED), as “Al-Qaeda continues to employ IEDs as the weapon of choice to kill and maim U.S. and coalition forces as well as countless civilians. “ The Treasury said al-Masli, a 37-year-old Libyan national, is the leader of an al-Qaeda electronics and explosives workshop in Pakistan, which produces IED components for the group’s senior leadership…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Black Population in South Africa Has Increased by 920% in 100 Years

The black population in South Africa has increased by an astonishing 920 percent in just 100 years, mainly thanks to white farmers and western infrastructure, a new report from the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) has revealed.

The TAU is the oldest agricultural union in South Africa and has been in existence since 1897.

“Common currency has it that whites ‘stole’ land from indigenous blacks and that this theft was legally ratified by the 1913 and 1936 Land Acts which divided up the land and codified these divisions,” the TAU report said.

In reality, “whites who came to South Africa in 1652 and thereafter found a land devoid of basic development and infrastructure, sparsely populated by meandering tribes who had no written word and whose way of life was the absolute antithesis of Western mores.

“It is now acknowledged that the Khoi-San groups, and their sub-groups, are the indigenous peoples of South Africa.

“Whites and black African groups arrived in various parts of the country around the same time. They met at the Fish River in the Eastern Cape, and wars followed.”

The TAU also pointed out that prior to the arrival of the whites, the black population—which as pointed out above, arrived simultaneously with the European settlers and therefore have no more claim to the country than the whites—did not have any concept of land ownership or even writing.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Communication Blackout, Rights Abuses in Nigeria’s Emergency States

Lagos, Nigeria — Residents in the three Nigerian states where a state of emergency has been declared are living in fear as food prices soar and government soldiers conduct door to door campaigns to root out terrorists. The Joint Military Task Force has been deployed to the three northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, where on May 14 President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency. Jonathan imposed the state of emergency following security reports that terrorist groups, including the Islamist extremist organisation Boko Haram, had over-run some towns in the north-eastern part of the country, removing Nigerian flags and hoisting their own…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Fighting Erupts in Northern Mali

Bamako — Fighting erupted Wednesday in northern Mali amid tensions between the army and the separatist rebel MNLA, overshadowing the planned presidential elections next month, according to the military. The flare was located at the village of Anefis, 100 km away from the MNLA stronghold of Kidal, where the Tuareg rebels still resist against the entry of the Malian army months after other rebel groups were driven out of most of the northern region…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Sudan Switches From Arabic Textbooks to English

Yambio — Primary school pupils in the South Sudanese state of Western Equatoria no longer have to use textbooks from Sudan in Arabic, which many of them did not understand, after some 400,000 textbooks were delivered in the state Thursday. The books are the first to be written and published under South Sudan’s new national curriculum, and cover the core subjects of English, science, mathematics, history and religious studies.

Tandu Emmanuel, a teacher at Yambio Primary School, said that up until the new books arrived, he followed the Sudanese curriculum and used Sudanese textbooks in Arabic, along with an assortment of workbooks and textbooks from other East African countries. There were never enough of the latter for all of his students, he said. And there were other problems with the books in Arabic. “We could not understand Arabic. Writing from right to left was a problem. Now that English is on, we shall use the books properly with the same writing. We know that our children will understand very well,” he said…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

China Enters Into a “Strategic Partnership” With Mexico

As if Mexico didn’ t already have enough problems with gangsters.

On his way to a San Francisco Summit with Barack Obama, new Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited Costa Rica and Marxist-led Cuba and Brazil to build up his Latin American support.

Most significant, however, was his meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. This visit signals a new phase in Mexico/China relations. One that will have a big impact on the United States.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Cornyn Opens a New Front in Immigration Fight — Byron York

Some opponents of the Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill are giving poor reviews to a new move by Republican Sen. John Cornyn to toughen the legislation with more enforcement requirements.”This amendment would change nothing of consequence,” writes Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies. “It’s yet another attempt to dupe conservatives into excusing a vote for the Schumer-Rubio bill.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

France Has Too Many Immigrants, Says Francois Fillon

There are too many immigrants in France, former prime minister Francois Fillon has said, insisting that the country cannot cope with everyone who wants to come in.

Asked on the France 2 television channel whether there are already too many immigrants in France, Fillon replied “yes”.

“France today is unable to accept, in decent conditions, everyone who wants to come and live here,” he added. “Therefore we must reduce the policy of immigration, “ the right-wing UMP party figure declared. Fillon said he was proposing “like in Canada” an annual parliamentary vote on the number of immigrants to be allowed in, the professions that would be given favourable consideration and “the regions of the world for which we want to fix quotas”. The current 200,000 arrivals per year “is too much in a country suffering unemployment and an economic crisis, which must reduce its public expenditure and which has problems of national cohesion,” the former prime minister said.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: We Must Stop the Migrant Invasion: Voters Demand Effective Border Control

Wresting back control of our borders from Brussels is the public’s number one priority with regard to EU membership, a poll showed yesterday.

Almost seven in 10 say it must be at the top of David Cameron’s agenda when he renegotiates our relationship with Europe as promised. The poll comes amid mounting fears that Britain will be hit by a new surge of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria at the end of the year.

The findings, by pollsters Survation, also indicate that most Britons would vote to leave the EU if given an immediate choice. The research is a fresh vindication of the Daily Express crusade for Britain to quit the EU. In particular, it underlines fears that Brussels’ meddling is hindering our ability to control the number of foreigners who live here.

However, anti-Brussels politicians threw cold water on Mr Cameron’s ability to reduce migrant numbers, as free movement of European citizens is a key EU tenet.

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said: “We might get back control over the shape of a widgit but there’s no way we’re going to get back control over our borders.”

The Survation poll provides a clear checklist for the Prime Minister when he tries to reshape Britain’s membership terms.

Many voters also want Mr Cameron to tackle the EU power-brokers over issues such as law and order, employment regulations, fishing quotas and farming subsidies, according to Sky News.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

20 Completely Ridiculous College Courses Being Offered at U.S. Universities

Would you like to know what America’s young people are actually learning while they are away at college? It isn’t pretty. Yes, there are some very highly technical fields where students are being taught some very important skills, but for the most part U.S. college students are learning very little that they will actually use out in the real world when they graduate. Some of the college courses listed below are funny, others are truly bizarre, others are just plain outrageous, but all of them are a waste of money. If we are going to continue to have a system where we insist that our young people invest several years of their lives and tens of thousands of dollars getting a “college education”, they might as well be learning some useful skills in the process. This is especially true considering how much student loan debt many of our young people are piling up. Sadly, the truth is that right now college education in the United States is a total joke. I know — I spent eight years in the system. Most college courses are so easy that they could be passed by the family dog, and many of these courses “study” some of the most absurd things imaginable.

Listed below are 20 completely ridiculous college courses being offered at U.S. universities. The description following each course title either comes directly from the official course description or from a news story about the course…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Grooming the New Totalitarians

Common Core: Nation’s educational institutions are the central battleground for the nation’s soul.

America’s younger generations are being groomed for totalitarianism.

We begin In Polk County, Florida, where students at an elementary school, a middle school and a high school had their irises scanned — without parental permission — as part of what officials are characterizing as a “student safety” program.

“It simply takes a picture of the iris, which is unique to every individual,” wrote Rob Davis, the school board’s senior director of support services, in a letter sent to parents.

“With this program, we will be able to identify when and where a student gets on the bus, when they arrive at their school location, when and what bus the student boards and disembarks in the afternoon. This is an effort to further enhance the safety of our students. The EyeSwipe-Nano is an ideal replacement for the card based system since your child will not have to be responsible for carrying an identification card.”

The letter gave parents the option of declining the procedure. But by the time they received it, the students had been scanned. None of the students themselves declined, a reality that should surprise no one.

Last year I did a report about a student in Texas who declined to wear an RFID tracking badge to school. After briefly winning a stay from being forced to do so, 15-year-old Andrea Hernandez was given two choices by a federal judge: submit or leave the school…

‘Sensitive Information’ will also be extracted, which delves into the intimate details of students’ lives:

1.   Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or parent;
2.   Mental and psychological problems of the student or the student’s family;
3.   Sex behavior or attitudes;
4.   Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, and demeaning behavior;
5.   Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
6.   Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
7.   Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent; or
8.   Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program).

Now ask yourself one question. How would you feel being strapped up like a lab rat and having every emotional tell of your personality monitored, and then placed in a database that could be sold to various companies — or maintained by the government?

[Comment: A MUST READ article. 1984 is here and children are being acclimatized to giving up their privacy.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

More Expletives, Vicar? Church of England Priest Calls Archbishop of Canterbury a ‘W****r’ In Row Over Gay Marriage

A furious row over gay marriage has erupted within the Church of England after a vicar took to Facebook to call the Archbishop of Canterbury a ‘w****r’.

Reverend Marcus Ramshaw, who trained for the priesthood at the same Durham college as Justin Welby, also called him a ‘massive mistake’ in an online rant.

He demanded the Archbishop resigned after he spoke against gay marriage during a House of Lords debate and said: ‘He does not speak in my name and I think he is a w****r but I’m not going to stop being a Christian or a priest’.

But soon afterwards the Church of England’s PR team tracked him down because they were angry about his comments, and asked him to delete them…

On Monday The Archbishop of Canterbury warned that David Cameron’s push for gay marriage would diminish the institution and weaken the family.

In his first major intervention on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, the Most Rev Justin Welby said he could not support the legislation ‘as it stands’.

‘Rather than adding a new and valued institution alongside it for same gender relationships, which I would personally strongly support to strengthen us all, this Bill weakens what exists and replaces it with a less good option that is neither equal nor effective,’ he said.

‘The concept of marriage as a normative place for procreation is lost; the idea of marriage as covenant is diminished; the family in its normal sense, predating the state, and as our base community of society, as we have already heard, is weakened.’

This is what prompted Mr Ramshaw, who is not currently licensed to officiate because he is a full-time carer but wants to work in the Church again, to blow his top.

He is angry that currently the clergy cannot be forced to marry gay couples or do it as a matter of conscience because they will then be banned.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obese Black Holes Outshone Stars in Earliest Galaxies

Obese black holes, not stars, may have lit up the first galaxies — and could have grown into the earliest supermassive black holes. A new study suggests that these fatties were numerous and bright enough that we should be able to detect them now, billions of years after they shone.

Black holes usually form from a collapsed star, and then grow by gobbling up material. Yet quasars — the energetic cores of ancient galaxies, which light up by squeezing matter swirling around a supermassive black hole — have been glimpsed that date back to a mere billion years after the big bang.

How did supermassive black holes grow so big so fast? Perhaps they were born “obese”, forming when vast clouds of atomic hydrogen, up to a hundred million times as massive as the Sun, collapsed in on themselves.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Beginning of the End of the West

The Report by numbers USA on the changing demographics and predictions since the publications were progressively alarming, yet it never really had an impact on me until I realized the dire consequences, the catastrophic impact that is happening to Western Civilization and culture that not only affects the United States, but what is now happening throughout Western Europe.

“THE CAMP OF THE SAINTS” BY THE French author Jean Raspail, first published in 1973 with several later printings, the last in 1985, is a novel that anticipates a situation which is much more plausible today and for good reasons. Raspail’s introduction to the 1985 French Edition states that the world was shaped within an extraordinary variety of cultures and races that could only develop to the ultimate and singular perfection through a necessary segregation. “The confrontations that flow (and have always flowed) from this are not racist, nor even racial. They are simply of the permanent flow of opposing forces that shape world history.”…

The vanguard that the Europeans face is four hundred million North African and Muslims — fifty percent of them less than 20 years old. There is a large vanguard already in France, Germany, Belgium, Holland and in lesser degrees throughout Western Europe who refuse to assimilate, learn the language in which country they reside and in France thirty percent are strongly motivated, independent foreigners in the bosom of the people that once was French but now are non-Christian.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Where to Look for Life on Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is thought to be hiding a saltwater ocean beneath its thick outer crust, an exciting prospect for scientists searching for extraterrestrial life in our solar system.

A fresh look at decade-old observations from NASA’s Galileo mission could help researchers pick the ideal spot to probe Europa in the future to get an idea of what’s below its surface.

“We have found the regions where charged electrons and ions striking the surface would have done the most, and the least, chemical processing of materials emplaced at the surface from the interior ocean,” J. Brad Dalton of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement.

“That tells us where to look for materials representing the most pristine ocean composition, which would be the best places to target with a lander or study with an orbiter.”

Jupiter has the most powerful magnetic field of all the planets in our solar system at nearly 20,000 times the strength of Earth’s. This field traps electrons and other charged particles including ions of sulfur and oxygen spewed from volcanic eruptions on Io, a neighboring Jovian moon. The particles in this field rush around Jupiter at a rate of about 10 hours per circuit, while Europa, which is about the size of Earth’s moon, takes 3.6 days to orbit the planet in the same direction.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

World’s Muslim Population More Widespread Than You Might Think

By Drew DeSilver

An estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world are Muslims, making Islam the world’s second-largest religious tradition after Christianity, according to the December 2012 Global Religious Landscape report from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Although many people, especially in the United States, may associate Islam with countries in the Middle East or North Africa, nearly two-thirds (62%) of Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Pew Research analysis. In fact, more Muslims live in India and Pakistan (344 million combined) than in the entire Middle East-North Africa region (317 million)…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]