Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/13/2013

After fifteen hours of deliberation, a jury in Sanford, Florida acquitted George Zimmerman of murder (and manslaughter) in the death of Trayvon Martin. South Florida is bracing for possible unrest in the wake of the verdict, and residents of certain neighborhoods in certain cities may be understandably nervous about what lies ahead in the next few days.

In other news, a municipal bus was firebombed on the street today in the 17th arrondissement of Paris. The unknown attackers used a detonator or a Molotov cocktail to ignite the bus. The driver evacuated the passengers rapidly, and no one was injured.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, JP, Nilk, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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

Financial Crisis
» 10 Reasons Why the Global Economy is About to Experience Its Own Version of “Sharknado”
» Italy: Trade Union Leader Slams Labour Flexibility-Boosting Plan
» Big Sis to Resign From Department of Homeland Security
» DARPA’s Next Generation Terminator-Like Robot Unveiled (Video)
» DHS’ Napolitano Leaves Legacy of Corruption, Lies, Lawsuits, And Waste
» Florida Braces for Post Zimmerman Verdict Riots as Miami Police Set Up ‘First Amendment Zones’ Where They Want to Control the Possible Rioters
» Fort Hood Shooting Initially Labeled as ‘Terrorism, ‘ Despite Shift to ‘Workplace Violence’
» George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty in the Death of Trayvon Martin
» George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty of 2nd-Degree Murder
» Giuliani: War on Terror Hampered by Political Correctness
» Gun Owners Brand American Rifle and Pistol Association a ‘False Flag Operation’
» If Racial Unrest Follows Zimmerman Jury Decision, Blame it on Activist Obama
» Kokesh Held Without Bond, Potentially Facing ‘Armed Sedition’ Charge
» Meet DARPA’s Real-World Terminator, Atlas
» Microsoft’s “Smart Cities” Ideal Template for Stasi Police State
» Microsoft Instrumental in NSA’s PRISM Program
» NASA Urged to Seek Live Martians With 2020 Rover
» Obama Conquers Internet Through Executive Orders
» Port Angeles Residents Terrorized by Unannounced Army Exercise
» Sowell: Who is Racist?
» Sun’s Quiet Spell Not the Start of a Mini Ice Age
» Trayvon Martin’s Dad is a ‘Grand Master’ Freemason
» US Unveils ‘Atlas’ Humanoid Robot Test Bed
» Walmart and Obamacare’s Mandates — and This is a Surprise?
» Zimmerman Acquitted of All Charges for Killing Trayvon Martin
Europe and the EU
» €250m in Dutch Aid Cash Earmarked for Military Missions
» Entire Government of Luxembourg Resigns After Spying and Corruption Scandal Forces Its Prime Minister to Quit
» France: RATP (Paris City Bus) Firebombed by Molotov Cocktail on Berthier Blvd.
» French Train Crash ‘Caused by Loose Steel Plate’
» ‘Human Error’ Did Not Cause French Rail Crash
» Italian Government to Pursue Marines’ Return to Italy
» Italy: 797 Cautioned for Copper Theft
» Italy: Parishioners Unhappy About Return of ‘Sex-Abuse Priest’
» Murder in Italy Hits 40-Year Low
» UK: Archbishop Justin Welby: ‘I Was Embarrassed. It Was Like Getting Measles’
» UK: Bank to Spy on Customers Via Cellphone Location Tracking
» UK: Justin Welby, A Very Political Archbishop
» UK: NHS ‘Death Pathway’ To be Scrapped Within a Year Following Damning Report
» UK: Terror Police Investigating Nail Bomb Attack at Mosque
» UK: The Dirty Tricks Dossier: Andrew Pierce Reveals Labour’s Union Vote-Rigging Scandal is Far More Extensive — and Disturbing — Than Red Ed Has Admitted
» UK: We Must Not Withdraw From the European Convention on Human Rights
» UK: War Veteran, 92, Died After His Home Was Set on Fire After Complaining About Noise From a Neighbour’s Flat
North Africa
» Democracy Lacks Roots in Egypt — and It’s Time We Got Real About it
Middle East
» CIA’s Mercenaries Feed on Their Own: Al-Qaeda Kills FSA Leader
» Iraq: 39 Killed, 26 Wounded in Separate Attacks Across Iraq
» Money, Guns Flowing From Kuwait to Syria’s Most Radical Rebel Factions
» New Front Opens in Syria as Rebels Say Al Qaeda Attack Means War
» Pakistan Taliban ‘Sets Up a Base in Syria’
» Police Stop Turkish Journalist Protest Rally
» Syria: Groups Linked to Al Qaeda Kill Senior Anti-Assad Rebel Official
» Syria: Moderate Rebels Accuse Al-Qaeda Groups of Murdering Commander
» Syria Opposition: Some in US Congress Delay Arms
» The First Night of Ramadan in Qatar, Dozens of Patients in the Emergency Room for Indigestion
South Asia
» Burmese Activist Gets Ten Years in Prison for Demonstrating Against Expropriation for Chinese Mine
» Indian Teenager Accused of Delhi Bus Gang-Rape Faces a Maximum of Just Three Years in Prison to Fury of Victim’s Family
Far East
» China: Beijing “Celebrates” Ramadan, Communist Officials Invite Uygur Muslims to Lunch
» South China Sea: Hanoi Chooses Delhi Over Beijing’s Protests
Australia — Pacific
» Dutch Tourist in Australia Tortured and Raped 60 Times
» Hogtied Tourist Raped 62 Times Court Hears
» What Really Happened in Room 355?
Latin America
» British Tourists Hold Sit-in at Caribbean Resort After Locals “Destroy Everything”
» Mercosur Countries Call Home Ambassadors in Italy
» Amnesty’s Price: $12,433 for Every Legalized Immigrant Household
» Boldrini Calls for Migrant Policy That Reflects Pope’s Words
» Italy: Minister Unveils Citizenship Plans for Children of Immigrants
» Meeting Held by Italian Govt Members Over Kazakh Deportation
» The $46 Billion Immigration Question
» Thirteen Immigrants Arrived in Crotone Overnight
» UK: Immigration Backlog Tops 500,000 and Will Take 37 Years to Clear, Warn MPS
» UK: Inside the Migrant Shed City: Immigrants Living in Cramped and Illegally Built Garden Sheds (No Wonder Officials Underestimated the Number of New Arrivals)
» UK: Lib Dem MP Attacks Coalition’s Plans for Immigration Reform
» UK: Migrant Backlog Soars to 500,000… and it Will Take 37 Years to Clear, Say MPS
Culture Wars
» Race to the Trough: Common Core Conundrum, Part 1
» Texas Senate Votes for Final Passage of Texas Abortion Bill, 19 to 11
» Is Superhuman Intelligence a Bad Idea? Experts Warn the Quest for Greater Knowledge Could Lead to Evil and Psychosis
» Kepler Spacecraft Should Pin Down ‘Alien Earth’ Planets Despite Glitch
» Sci-Fi Film ‘Europa Report’ Uses Science to Show Space Travel Perils
» Sun’s 2013 Solar Activity Peak is Weakest in 100 Years

10 Reasons Why the Global Economy is About to Experience Its Own Version of “Sharknado”

Have you ever seen a disaster movie that is so bad that it is actually good? Well, that is exactly what Syfy’s new television movie entitled “Sharknado” is. In the movie, wild weather patterns actually cause man-eating sharks to come flying out of the sky. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, and it is. You can view the trailer for the movie right here. Unfortunately, we are witnessing something just as ridiculous in the real world right now. In the United States, the mainstream media is breathlessly proclaiming that the U.S. economy is in great shape because job growth is “accelerating” (even though we actually lost 240,000 full-time jobs last month) and because the U.S. stock market set new all-time highs this week. The mainstream media seems to be absolutely oblivious to all of the financial storm clouds that are gathering on the horizon. The conditions for a “perfect storm” are rapidly developing, and by the time this is all over we may be wishing that flying sharks were all that we had to deal with. The following are 10 reasons why the global economy is about to experience its own version of “Sharknado”…

#1 The financial situation in Portugal continues to deteriorate thanks to an emerging political crisis. It all began last week when Portuguese finance minister Vitor Gaspar resigned…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy: Trade Union Leader Slams Labour Flexibility-Boosting Plan

Union head Camusso calls plan an ‘indecent proposal’

(ANSA) — Florence, July 12 — One of Italy’s top trade union leaders Susanna Camusso on Friday called a parliament plan to boost labour market entry flexibility “an indecent proposal”.

Camusso, who heads the country’s biggest trade-union confederation, the left-wing GCIL, made the comments in reference to parliament Labour Committee President Maurizio Sacconi’s proposal that Italy promote more flexible regulations so as to permit companies to hire more people. “I think it’s an indecent proposal”, Camusso said. “It’s indecent because after five years of such dramatic recession for which no answer has been found to address the labour issues, the proposal of lessening job security is being brought up again, as if we haven’t been exposed to all its consequences already”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Big Sis to Resign From Department of Homeland Security

Janet Napolitano, also know as Big Sis, will resign as boss of the Department of Homeland Security. She will seek the post as president of the University of California, according to media reports.

Napolitano’s departure is scheduled for September…

During her tenure, the TSA accelerated its effort to intimidate passengers in airports and train and bus stations with intrusive body searches, thus increasing the footprint and visibility of the post-9/11 police state. Napolitano also oversaw the “see something, say something” campaign that resembles the worst of Stasi East Germany and its pervasive police state.

Napolitano also pushed public-private partnerships, an effort compared to similar initiatives promoted by fascist leader Benito Mussolini. Most notably, the DHS engaged in an effort with megastore Walmart. The agency ran “public service” announcements in stores across American urging customers to turn suspected terrorists into store managers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

DARPA’s Next Generation Terminator-Like Robot Unveiled (Video)

Beware bloodbags: 7ft 4” tall, 330 pound metal beast will eventually act autonomously

DARPA, the technological arm of the Pentagon, unveiled its latest humanoid robot this week, demonstrating how the 7ft 4” tall beast can dodge obstacles and act intelligently to stay upright, even when knocked off balance by heavy weights.

The robot, named ATLAS, presumably after the primordial Titan of astronomy and navigation who held up the celestial sphere, was designed by long time DARPA subsidiary Boston Dynamics.

“Articulated, sensate hands will enable Atlas to use tools designed for human use,” Boston Dynamics says. “Atlas includes 28 hydraulically actuated degrees of freedom, two hands, arms, legs, feet, and a torso.”

The robot’s head encompasses two hi-tech cameras and a laser range finder. At the moment, ATLAS is tethered to an off-board, electric power supply.

A video released by the company, as part of DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge, shows the robot in action:

Six teams of engineers that made it through to the end stages of DARPA’s “competition”, will now all be given ATLAS as it was deemed to be the best robot for potentially “helping” the military…

DARPA claims that the goal is to deploy the robots during natural disasters or other dangerous situations. Of course, critics believe the machines will inevitably end up being used by the military on the battlefield.

Numerous robotic experts are on record with their concerns that the Pentagon’s fleet of cyborgs is being developed with one primary goal in mind — to pursue “suspects” and kill large numbers of people.

Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, has repeatedly warned that the robots currently being developed under the auspices of DARPA will eventually be used to kill.

“Of course if it’s used for combat, it would be killing civilians as well as it’s not going to be able to discriminate between civilians and soldiers,” said Sharkey.

Award-winning military writer and former intelligence officer Lt. Col. Douglas Pryer also recently wrote an essay warning of the threat posed by remorseless “killer robots” that will be used to stalk and slaughter human targets in the near future.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

DHS’ Napolitano Leaves Legacy of Corruption, Lies, Lawsuits, And Waste

Many were surprised at Janet Napolitano’s announcement that she will leave her position as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the end of August to become president of the University of California. Chosen from more than 300 candidates vying for the position, Napolitano managed to keep her interest in that position, and her successful bid for it, from the public until Friday.

She issued the usual departure appreciation statement:


Senator Jeff Sessions, (R-Ala.), saw things just a little differently: Napolitano’s tenure has been marked “by a consistent disrespect for the rule of law,” he observed.

Almost from her first day in office Napolitano failed to grasp the difference between truth and falsehood.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Florida Braces for Post Zimmerman Verdict Riots as Miami Police Set Up ‘First Amendment Zones’ Where They Want to Control the Possible Rioters

Miami police have made contingency plans for possible riots in case George Zimmerman is found innocent of murdering Trayvon Martin.

Though the trial- and the February 2012 murder- took place about 250 miles north in Sanford, Florida, Miami officials are still concerned about a potentially violent reaction to the verdict.

‘I know that child was born and raised here in Miami he got killed up in Sanford. But that has no reason for our young folk to get fired up and talk about bringing destruction on the city,’ one Miami pastor told the local CBS station.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Fort Hood Shooting Initially Labeled as ‘Terrorism, ‘ Despite Shift to ‘Workplace Violence’

The Fort Hood massacre was immediately labeled by the government’s primary counterterrorism center as a terrorist attack, a former top security official testified Wednesday — even though the Defense Department would later describe the 2009 shooting in the context of “workplace violence.”

“The day after the Fort Hood attack, the National Counterrorism Center entered the attack of Fort Hood as a — in the worldwide incident terrorist database — as a terrorist attack, the day after. … The NCTC called it terrorism the day after the attack,” Michael Leiter, the former head of the NCTC which is the government’s central hub for threat analysis, testified. He spoke before the House Homeland Security Committee.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty in the Death of Trayvon Martin

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, igniting a national debate on racial profiling and civil rights, was found not guilty on Saturday of the second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin. He also was acquitted of manslaughter, a lesser charge.

After three weeks of testimony, the six-woman jury rejected the prosecution’s contention that Mr. Zimmerman had deliberately pursued Mr. Martin because he viewed the hoodie-clad teenager as a criminal and instigated the fight that led to his death.

Mr. Zimmerman said he shot Mr. Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, in self-defense after the teenager knocked him to the ground, punched him and slammed his head repeatedly against the sidewalk. In finding him not guilty of murder or manslaughter, the jury agreed that Mr. Zimmerman could have been justified in shooting Mr. Martin because he feared great bodily harm or death.

[Return to headlines]

George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty of 2nd-Degree Murder

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — Jurors have found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The six-member, all-woman jury deliberated for more than 15 hours over two days before reaching their decision Saturday night.

They had been given the chance to convict Zimmerman of manslaughter but did not do so, despite asking for a clarification of the charge earlier in the evening.

After hearing the verdict, Judge Debra Nelson told Zimmerman he was free to go.

Jurors heard two different portraits of Zimmerman and had to decide whether he was a wannabe cop who took the law into his own hands or a well-meaning neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense because he feared for his life.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Giuliani: War on Terror Hampered by Political Correctness

Political correctness is getting in the way of the war on terror, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani charged on Friday.

Appearing on Fox & Friends, the man in charge of New York on 9/11 said that calling violence what it is may have prevented incidents such as the Fort Hood massacre or the Boston Marathon bombings.

“I see it as a problem that affects the bureaucracy. In other words, it becomes an issue where not everyone, but too many people who are doing these investigations become nervous,” Giuliani said.

“We have all these euphemisms that we come up with. We’ll never talk about a war on terror even though they’re at war with us?”

Giuliani said the U.S. has been facing this danger for some time, yet he believes President Barack Obama’s administration is reluctant to voice and identify the threats.

“We have a president who never uses the words ‘Islamic extremist terrorist,’“ he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Gun Owners Brand American Rifle and Pistol Association a ‘False Flag Operation’

When the American Rifle and Pistol Association launched July 4, it hoped to attract gun owners across the political spectrum who were looking for a “sane” alternative to the NRA. So far, that effort doesn’t appear to be going well.

On various gun forums and blogs, the reception has been anything but friendly. Instead of being depicted as the new and improved NRA, the group has been described alternately as a “false flag group,” “astroturf phonies” and “frauds.”

“Here we are again, not so far away from important 2014 elections, and we have another fraudulent pro-gun group for the people,” wrote the gun blog Gunalizer. “If you disagree with us, fine. Stand up and be heard. But don’t put on a mask and lie about your true intentions,” wrote the site Ammoland.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

If Racial Unrest Follows Zimmerman Jury Decision, Blame it on Activist Obama

It should go without saying that love and pride of country should be the first qualifications for anyone seeking the presidency of America.

President Barack Hussein Obama came into the power of the White House as an activist — pushed by activists.

Foreboding for the future of America, Obama will always be an activist. He doesn’t know what else to be because he’s always been an activist. Even as an Illinois senator, he merely wore the title without doing any of the heavy lifting.

In the day-to-day running America, Obama leans on the tools of activism and has been doing so ever since he first got elected.

Obama is really the long hoped for ‘King of the Isms’ who waited as long as 100 years for one of their own to come along and turn the tables on an unsuspecting and pliable civil society.

With an agenda activated to deliberately destroy the country that elected him, Obama is really the Activist who Made it as President.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Kokesh Held Without Bond, Potentially Facing ‘Armed Sedition’ Charge

Kokesh is currently charged with possession of a Schedule 1 or 2 drug and possession of a Schedule 1 or 2 drug while in possession of a firearm.

A sheriff’s deputy informed Kokesh, held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, that authorities are also considering to charge him with armed sedition and illegal transportation of a firearm.

Sedition is defined as inciting rebellion against the authority of a state or monarch.

Kokesh was allowed a phone call to his father but the conversation was monitored by a sheriff’s deputy standing there the entire time.

As we reported via RT, Kokesh refused to leave his jail cell to go to his arraignment. He was forced into a wheelchair and pushed in front of the judge, but never spoke a word in court.

“I’ll take your silence as your consent,” the Fairfax County judge told Kokesh, according to WJLA News.

Kokesh refuses to speak in court without counsel.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Meet DARPA’s Real-World Terminator, Atlas

DARPA and Boston Dynamics, of BigDog, Petman, and Cheetah fame, have unveiled their most advanced humanoid robot yet: Atlas. At 6’2? (188cm) and 330lbs (150kg), Atlas is incredibly imposing; with 28 hydraulically actuated joints, LIDAR and stereo vision, a beefy on-board computer, and some of the most advanced robotic limbs ever conceived, Atlas is remarkably human-like in its behavior. While Atlas is initially conceived as a disaster response robot, such as cleaning up and looking for survivors after a Fukushima-like disaster, it’s easy to imagine Atlas being the basis of a robotic army, supported by BigDog mules.

As you can see in the photo above and the video below, Atlas is incredibly technologically advanced. With 28 hydraulic joints, Atlas can replicate almost every degree of human motion — or, in the case of the robot hands provided by iRobot and Sandia National Labs, surpass them. Vision is provided by a Carnegie Robotics LIDAR and stereo camera system; LIDAR, or light-based radar, is the same detection and ranging system used by autonomous vehicles, such as Google’s self-driving car. LIDAR is expensive, but incredibly accurate. The tech specs say that Atlas has its own on-board hydraulic pump, but you can see in the video that it’s still tethered to some kind of off-board power/hydraulic supply. Like BigDog, which started off tethered, Atlas will eventually be self-powered and free to roam wherever it wishes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Microsoft’s “Smart Cities” Ideal Template for Stasi Police State

Information Week heralds the prospect of “big data tools and cloud-powered enterprise apps” empowering workers with “sources ranging from vast databases to real-time data culled from environmental sensors,” technologies that “should allow workers to more quickly derive insights, collaborate with one another and come to decisions.”

So-called “smart cities,” as designed by corporations like IMB and Cisco, will utilize the “Internet of Things,” or IoT, a system of objects networked with RFID, the end result being “a world where every object — from jumbo jets to sewing needles — is linked to the Internet,” as Helen Duce, the RFID Technology Auto-ID European Center at the University of Cambridge, envisions it.

As an example of the sort of system envisioned, Information World cites the massive and unprecedented surveillance system built by Microsoft for the New York Police Department.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Microsoft Instrumental in NSA’s PRISM Program

Software giant Microsoft worked closely with the National Security Agency in its effort to surveil the American public, according to The Guardian. The British newspaper cites documents provided by on-the-run whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In particular, the technology company permitted the NSA to skirt the encryption used on its email service. It also made it easier for the agency to surveil its cloud system, SkyDrive, and Skype video, a recent Microsoft acquisition. SkyDrive has approximately 250 million users worldwide.

Data captured by the NSA was routinely passed on to the FBI and the CIA, according to the report. “Prism is a team sport!” is how one NSA document described the relationship between intelligence agencies and corporations.

In April, Microsoft launched a public relations campaign claiming it protects customer data. “Your privacy is our priority” is the campaign’s tagline.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

NASA Urged to Seek Live Martians With 2020 Rover

Genome sequencers and other devices that could reveal whether anything is alive on Mars right now should be ready to launch with NASA’s next Mars rover in 2020. The trouble is, the rover team may not want them — and some astrobiologists are crying foul.

Earlier this week NASA announced its science goals for the next US rover headed for the Red Planet, known for now as Mars 2020. Essentially a duplicate of the Curiosity rover now on Mars, this robot has been tasked with searching for evidence of past life and collecting rock samples for eventual return to Earth. Sample-return has been at the top of the Mars community’s wish list for decades. The caching component of Mars 2020 represents a revival of a well-studied plan to bring Martian rocks back to Earth for detailed study.

But others think the rover’s approach to life detection is overly cautious. The Mars 2020 will primarily search for signs that something lived on Mars in ancient times, even though the technology exists to hunt for alien microbes presently living on or just beneath the surface.

“It is the same old depressing story of NASA vetoing any proposal to do biological experiments on Mars,” says Paul Davies of Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe. “I personally think this is absurd.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Obama Conquers Internet Through Executive Orders

Presidential policies pave foundation for future federal takeover of the Internet.

Obama’s policies will allow for a future government takeover of the Internet, involving multiple agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, under the guise of “national security needs” and “crisis management.”…

This is a great example of the doublespeak within these executive orders.

Under innocent-sounding guise, Obama dictates policies that are intended for more sinister purposes.

The further involvement of DHS into Internet “security” could very well highlight this point.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Port Angeles Residents Terrorized by Unannounced Army Exercise

The Army has apologized for turning Port Angeles, Washington, into a simulated war zone and terrorizing residents on Thursday.

Frightened residents called police in the small city and complained about low flying Chinook helicopters. According to Peninsula Daily News, noise and lights panicked horses and other livestock.

Uninformed residents took to Facebook and Twitter and posted messages speculating the helicopters were involved in a drug raid or other police activity.

“No one had any warning about the helicopters, no one said anything afterwards, and today city officials had to spend hours just trying to find out what had happened — who had invaded Port Angeles,” said Port Angeles Mayor Cherie Kidd.

“They terrorized my city.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sowell: Who is Racist?

I am so old that I can remember when most of the people promoting race hate were white.

Apparently other Americans also recognize that the sources of racism are different today from what they were in the past. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 31 percent of blacks think that most blacks are racists, while 24 percent of blacks think that most whites are racist.

The difference between these percentages is not great, but it is remarkable nevertheless. After all, generations of blacks fought the white racism from which they suffered for so long. If many blacks themselves now think that most other blacks are racist, that is startling.

The moral claims advanced by generations of black leaders — claims that eventually touched the conscience of the nation and turned the tide toward civil rights for all — have now been cheapened by today’s generation of black “leaders,” who act as if it is all just a matter of whose ox is gored.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sun’s Quiet Spell Not the Start of a Mini Ice Age

Those hoping that the sun could save us from climate change look set for disappointment. The recent lapse in solar activity is not the beginning of a decades-long absence of sunspots — a dip that might have cooled the climate. Instead, it represents a shorter, less pronounced downturn that happens every century or so.

Sunspots — dark patches that appear on the sun’s surface due to intense magnetic fields — are the seat of solar activity and can affect Earth’s climate in a number of ways , although the size of the effect is debated. They virtually disappeared between 1645 and 1715, a period now known as the Maunder minimum. Simultaneously, Northern Europe experienced the worst winters of the Little Ice Age, a period of exceptionally cold weather that began in the 16th century, leading some to suggest that a similar, prolonged sunspot minimum could offset global warming.

Sunspot numbers wax and wane in a natural cycle that lasts 11 years or so. The current cycle is meant to be at its peak now, but sunspots have been scarce since 2008Movie Camera, leading to speculation that we were about to enter another Maunder minimum.

New type of cycle

The latest comparisons between the ongoing maximum and historical data suggest this isn’t so. “Cycle 24 (the present one) is different, but it is not an indication that we are going into a Maunder minimum,” Giuliana DeToma of the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, Colorado, told the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division meeting in Bozeman, Montana, yesterday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Trayvon Martin’s Dad is a ‘Grand Master’ Freemason

Here’s something you certainly won’t hear about in the mainstream media despite the 24/7 coverage of the Trayvon Martin case which may generate riots: Trayvon Martin’s dad is a ‘Grand Master’ Freemason.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

US Unveils ‘Atlas’ Humanoid Robot Test Bed

A humanoid robot called Atlas could pave the way for intelligent machines to help in the wake of natural disasters.

The two meter tall robot was created as a test bed for a US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency challenge.

The Darpa challenge demands Atlas completes eight tasks that it might have to perform in an emergency.

Six teams have until December 2013 to develop software that will help Atlas complete the tasks.

Atlas has been developed by the Boston Dynamics robotics firm which has been working on robots that can aid the military.

Like a human, Atlas has two arms and legs and gets around by walking. It sees using a stereo laser scanning system and has gripping hands developed by two separate robotics companies. Unlike humans, it has a high speed networking system built-in so it can communicate with its creators and pipe data back from disaster areas.

Before now, the teams taking part in the robotic challenge have only worked with virtual versions of Atlas. In the next stage of the competition, algorithms and control programs for the virtual Atlas will be transferred to the real thing.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Walmart and Obamacare’s Mandates — and This is a Surprise?

President Obama’s decision to delay implementation of the so-called employer mandate has caused a great deal of discussion among the punditocracy and talking heads.

One thing I haven’t heard discussed is the underlying economic logic of employers providing health insurance at all. Note, it is health insurance, not health care, regardless of the way the administration might prefer to describe it. Health care is provided by doctors and hospitals. General Motors provides health insurance to help employees pay for that health care. And every person in the nation, without exception, has access to health care, again ignoring the verbal virtuosity of the administration telling all of us that denying free contraceptives is denying women access to health care. The fact that anyone of the female persuasion can now purchase the Plan B “morning after” pill without even having to visit a doctor makes a mockery of that claim.

The pundits also tend to talk about employer provided health insurance as if providing such a benefit is a given, a fixture in the economy, something that has been in place since the Declaration of Independence was signed, if not earlier. The fact, though, is that health insurance came into existence during World War II.

During WWII, the Roosevelt administration had imposed wage controls, but offering employer paid health insurance was not considered “wages”. It became the only way that employers could persuade desperately needed workers to change jobs without being able to offer them an increase in salary. With so many men having gone off to the Pacific or European theatres to fight, labor shortages were a chronic problem during the war. Don’t believe it? Then perhaps you could offer another explanation why “Rosie the Riveter” posters are iconic.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Zimmerman Acquitted of All Charges for Killing Trayvon Martin

(Reuters) — George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges on Saturday for the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in this central Florida town in February of last year.

If he had been convicted, the 29-year-old former neighborhood watch volunteer, who claimed he acted in self-defense, could have been sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder or up to 30 years for manslaughter.

A panel of six women jurors rendered its verdict in the case, which sparked a national debate on issues including race and profiling, after a trial that began in Seminole County court on June 10.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

€250m in Dutch Aid Cash Earmarked for Military Missions

A proportion of the Dutch development aid budget is being set aside to fund military missions and to pay soldiers, the Volkskrant reports on Friday.

From 2014, €250m of the aid budget will go on peace and ‘crisis management’ missions. These include the police training project in Afghanistan, anti-piracy operations in Africa and ‘combating international terrorism and crime’, the Volkskrant says.

The paper bases its claims on a draft letter from the cabinet to parliament which is due to be discussed by ministers later on Friday. The contents have been agreed by the defence, aid, security and foreign affairs minster, the Volkskrant says.


The letter states the money is to be used to ‘protect the local population, prevent or manage humanitarian crises and ensure sustainable security and stability’. In many cases, civilian and military effort is demanded, the letter states.

Development organisations have already warned about the risk of ‘militarising aid’. Red Cross officials said during a recent hearing in parliament that using soldiers in aid missions could be potentially dangerous.

Not only can this be wrongly interpreted by rival factions but can lead to aid workers being targeted by rebels, they said.


Earlier this year, it emerged that €750m of the aid budget is to be used to strengthen local economies by helping small firms in developing countries and may also be used to help Dutch small companies which are being hit.

The coalition government is cutting the €4bn Dutch aid budget by €1bn, which will take it under the 0.7% standard set by the United Nations.

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

Entire Government of Luxembourg Resigns After Spying and Corruption Scandal Forces Its Prime Minister to Quit

The Luxembourg government today resigned, brought down by a spying and corruption scandal that shook the tiny country better known for wealthy bankers than political intrigue.

Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister since 1995 and the European Union’s longest serving government chief, tendered his resignation to Grand Duke Henri, the royal head of state who himself has been implicated in media reports of espionage.

The government was forced to resign after junior coalition partners withdrew their support in protest at Juncker’s apparent failure to rein in a secret service spiralling out of control. Juncker has proposed holding a general election in October, seven months ahead of schedule.

The catalyst for the resignation was a parliamentary inquiry published last week that said Luxembourg’s security agency illegally bugged politicians and members of the public, purchased cars for private use and took payments and favours in exchange for access to influential officials.

In a scene reminiscent of a spy novel, former security chief Marco Mille recorded a conversation with Juncker in 2008 using a microphone in his watch.

Mille told Juncker he had reliable reports that Grand Duke Henri was in constant contact with Britain’s secret services, according to one newspaper. The Grand Duke’s office has denied the allegation.

The government was already under pressure due to renewed interest in a mysterious series of sabotage bomb attacks in the 1980s, known as the Bommeleeer affair, whose targets included electricity pylons and an airport radar system as well as a newspaper office.

Two former members of a special police force went on trial for the attacks at the start of this year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

France: RATP (Paris City Bus) Firebombed by Molotov Cocktail on Berthier Blvd.

An original translation by C.B.

From Le Parisien:

An RATP bus firebombed on Saturday around 8:15 PM on Berthier Blvd. in the 17th district of Paris. It was an articulated bus that circulates on line PC3. According to witnesses who were questioned on the spot and police the disaster would have been caused by a petard (detonator) or a molotov cocktail thrown against the bus of July 14th (Bastille Day)

There were no casualties among the 50 passengers present on board so far. According to RATP the driver, a good professional, who himself evacuated the passengers. He was lightly wounded in the operation.

An investigation is now in progress and no avenue of investigation will be ignored. According to a witness at the scene, a “petard” (detonator) was drawn on the back of the bus”, and this one would have immediately ignited the fire. In the early hours of July 14th (the national holiday) the question of fireworks worried the police force. The fire released a very impressive plume of smoke that could be seen over Paris…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

French Train Crash ‘Caused by Loose Steel Plate’

A train derailment that killed at least six people near Paris may have been caused by a loose steel plate at a junction, the French train operator said, as emergency workers continued their search for victims.

Eight people were injured seriously and dozens of others suffered lighter wounds, including British passengers on the packed service bound for Limoges from Paris.

Pierre Izard, head of infrastructure services at SNCF, said the piece which was bolted on to the track had moved to “the middle of the track junction,” preventing the rolling stock from passing through.

“The reasons why this fishplate dislocated itself is the very focus of the investigations,” said SNCF head Guillaume Pepy.

He added that the train operator would immediately start checking some 5,000 similar junctions throughout the French rail network, which was once seen as a source of national pride but has been in decline.

A police spokesman described groups of local people “picking through the wreckage” on Friday night and looting from the bodies of victims, who were electrocuted or crushed to death.

“It appeared at first that they were trying to help, but it soon became clear that they were taking personal property away. When police approached they threw stones before running away,” said the spokesman.

[Return to headlines]

‘Human Error’ Did Not Cause French Rail Crash

Transport minister praises train driver and says about 30 still injured after incident

France’s transport minister said human error did not cause a train derailment outside Paris that left six dead yesterday.

Frederic Cuvillier said that about 30 people were still being treated for injuries. In all, nearly 200 people sustained injuries in the initial incident, when four train cars slid toward the station, some falling over.

The crash was France’s deadliest in years, but Mr Cuvillier said it could have been worse and praised the driver who sent out an alert quickly, preventing a pile up.

Mr Cuvillier said it was unclear what did cause the crash, but authorities are looking into an error in the switching system as well as other possibilities.

This is one of the busiest travel weekends in France, which is celebrating the national holiday of Bastille Day on Sunday.

The Paris-Limoges train derailed as it sped through Bretigny-sur-Orge, 27.5km south of Paris, at 5.14pm yesterday. The train was not supposed to stop in Bretigny, a station on the suburban RER line.

Railroad sources said it was strange that the lead cars were not affected, while cars three and four fell flat on their sides, crushing waiting passengers on the platform. The last four cars of the train were cut off and thrown hundreds of metres. Television footage showed twisted tracks and rescue workers attempting to cut their way through wreckage.

Witnesses recounted a deafening sound at the moment of the derailment. Survivors said the train vibrated and swung from side to side as suitcases flew through the air. “I was reading,” a passenger told France 2 television. “The train started shaking as if it were rolling over pebbles; like a plane in turbulence.”

A high voltage line was reported to be lying on the ground, and it was feared that some victims were electrocuted or severely burned. Some 200 medical workers and eight helicopters sought out the wounded and ferried them from the site.

[Return to headlines]

Italian Government to Pursue Marines’ Return to Italy

Latorre, Girone currently in India facing trial for murder

(ANSA) — Rome, July 12 — The Italian government will continue pursuing “with determination” the return of two Italian marines to Italy, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, currently charged in India with double homicide, a senior government official said on Friday.

Latorre and Girone are currently facing murder charges for shooting and killing fisherman Valentine (aka Gelastine) and Ajesh Binki in February 2012 after allegedly mistaking them for pirates while guarding a merchant ship off the Kerala coast.

Cabinet Secretary Roberto Garofoli met with relatives of the two marines in the southern Italian city of Taranto.

Garofali reasserted “the government’s commitment to continue and intensify further, with determination and confidence, the actions taken to bring the two marines back home”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: 797 Cautioned for Copper Theft

Metal lifted from electric, phone lines, cemeteries

(ANSA) — Catanzaro, July 11 — Italian police on Thursday cautioned 797 people in connection with copper thefts from power and telephone cables as well as cemeteries across Italy.

Police said 33 of those cautioned are suspected of forming a criminal gang to traffic stolen copper.

Copper thefts have risen in recession-hit Italy over the last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Parishioners Unhappy About Return of ‘Sex-Abuse Priest’

Priest near Bergamo plea-bargained in case of two boys

(ANSA) — Bergamo, July 12 — Parishioners in a town near Bergamo are unhappy about the return of a priest who plea-bargained a suspended sentence of two years for having sex with boys aged 8 and 12 in February. Churchgoers are up in arms after it emerged Father Luigi Mantia would be part of an upcoming week-long mountain holiday for parish families, local papers reported Friday.

The victims’ parents are organising protests against Father Mantia, who has always said he is innocent.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Murder in Italy Hits 40-Year Low

Rate is half the European average, study says

(ANSA) — Rome, July 11 — Murder in Italy hit a 40-year low in 2012, totalling 526 for the year, a joint report by the Italian social economic research group EURES and ANSA revealed on Thursday.

The number of murders has fallen 67.8% since 1990, when there were 1,633.

Italy enjoys one of Europe’s lowest murder rates, with one person slain per 100,000 inhabitants compared to a European average of 1.9 per 100,000.

Central Italy led the nation in its sharp 13.1% decline in murders, followed by northern Italy, where they fell by 7.9%. In southern Italy, slayings edged up 0.4% for the year, and accounted for 53% of the nation’s total, with the region of Campania, where Naples is located, leading other regions with 90 violent deaths.

Killings within families still make up the largest single category, but have declined 10.3% since 2011.

Meanwhile murder by ordinary criminals has increased sharply, up 25.8%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Archbishop Justin Welby: ‘I Was Embarrassed. It Was Like Getting Measles’

by Charles Moore

Forty years ago, Justin Welby was an unhappy pupil at Eton. Now, a relaxed Archbishop of Canterbury, he relives his unsettling moment of conversion and his wounded past

‘It’s such a lovely day, let’s go into the garden,” says the Archbishop of Canterbury. Carrying a tray heavy with coffee cups, he leads us down the wide steps of Lambeth Palace round to its wider lawns. Justin Welby is the fourth Archbishop I have met in this place; though new in the job, he is by far the most relaxed.

He answers everything with the same directness. Since he is an evangelical, I ask him whether he can speak “in tongues” — the “charismatic” spiritual gift recorded in the New Testament. Oh yes, he says, almost as if he had been asked if he plays tennis, “It’s just a routine part of spiritual discipline — you choose to speak and you speak a language that you don’t know. It just comes. Bramble! Go and find Peter [the Welbys’ second son, one of five living children, and brother of Johanna, who died in a car crash as a baby], you idiot!” The last bit of these remarks is addressed to his exuberant six-month-old Clumber spaniel who has rushed up to him.

I am amazed. I first saw this man 40 years ago, when we were both pupils at Eton. Later, I was with him at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was the shyest, most unhappy-looking boy you could imagine. Now he is 105th in the line that began with St Augustine. He seems to be loving it. I remark on the change, and he agrees. “That’s something to do with the Christian faith,” he says…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Bank to Spy on Customers Via Cellphone Location Tracking

It’s not just the government watching you

It’s not just governments that are using cellphone location data to spy on citizens — banks are now getting in on the act too — with Barclays announcing changes to its customer agreement that will open the door to individuals being tracked in the name of preventing fraud.

Barclays’ new customer agreement terms (PDF) — set to come into force from October 9, 2013, will also permit the bank to collect social networking data as well as using private transaction information to bombard customers with unsolicited “services and products”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Justin Welby, A Very Political Archbishop

by James Forsyth

In this increasingly secular age, you would expect the Archbishop of Canterbury to be a figure of diminishing importance. But Justin Welby is fast becoming the most politically influential Archbishop since the war.

Part of Welby’s influence stems from the fact that both the Conservatives and Labour think that he is, secretly, one of them. I remember within days of his appointment being approach by a Tory minister and then by one of those closest to Ed Miliband. They both wanted to explain how Welby was going to help move public debate in their direction. One never had this kind of conversation about Rowan Williams whose views were thought not to be of this world. What was particularly striking was that Welby was being noticed at Westminster by those interested in power rather than prayer.

Welby’s interview with Charles Moore in the Telegraph today shows just why he keeps both sides of the political divide interested. Welby tells Charles, “I am a classic floating voter — and now I don’t vote.’ When Charles, Thatcher’s biographer, asks him what he thinks of Thatcher, Welby replies: “Genuinely, I don’t know the answer. When I was in the oil industry in the Eighties, I thought she was brilliant. When I was a clergyman in the North [Liverpool and Durham], I had a different view. But I think she had a discontent with drift which is really important, and an optimism about this country.”

Answers like this mean that Welby will keep on interesting politicians in all parties. I suspect that we’ll hear plenty more about this world from the Archbishop in the coming months. His decision to stay on the Banking Commission even after he had been named as the next Archbishop showed that he wanted to have a real influence on political debate in this country.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: NHS ‘Death Pathway’ To be Scrapped Within a Year Following Damning Report

The controversial Liverpool Care Pathway is to be ‘phased out’ over the next six to 12 months after an independent review found shocking examples of abuse across the NHS.

Care minister Norman Lamb will announce on Monday that the scheme, under which treatment is removed from those deemed close to death, will be scrapped.

It follows a review which heard allegations that the vulnerable were being put on the pathway without consent, they were being unnecessarily sedated and that others were being denied food and water.

The Neuberger inquiry also found ‘numerous examples of poor implementation and worrying standards in care’ which meant the LCP needed to be replaced.

The Daily Mail has led the way in campaigning against the so-called ‘death pathway’, highlighting how hospitals were being paid ‘bribes’ by the NHS to hit targets.

The Department of Health will also reveal that these incentive payments will be scrapped under whatever new system is introduced.

Last night Mr Lamb vowed that the replacement will definitely not be called a ‘pathway’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Terror Police Investigating Nail Bomb Attack at Mosque

A major atrocity was narrowly averted yesterday after a large nail bomb exploded outside a mosque just two hours after the funeral of terror victim Lee Rigby.

The homemade device exploded near the Kanz Ul Iman Masjid mosque in Tipton, West Midlands, shortly after 1pm — when up to 200 worshippers would normally have been in the area for Friday prayers. However, the prayers had been moved back an hour because of Ramadan and no one was injured in the blast. The bomb, which was left on a disused railway line behind the mosque, showered the area with nails and other debris. Police were last night treating the explosion as a terrorist incident and were investigating whether there are any links to a small explosion near a mosque in nearby Walsall last month. Officers were also examining whether there is any connection to right wing extremists…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The Dirty Tricks Dossier: Andrew Pierce Reveals Labour’s Union Vote-Rigging Scandal is Far More Extensive — and Disturbing — Than Red Ed Has Admitted

Even as Ed Miliband was delivering a landmark speech this week in which he rather unconvincingly claimed he would weaken the unions’ stranglehold over the Labour party, his problems were spreading like a malignant tumour.

After enduring yet another torrid week because of the party’s incestuous relationship with Unite, he had hoped to draw a line under allegations of an underhand union operation to rig the parliamentary candidate selection in Falkirk, which the union denies.

His officials continue to insist that Falkirk — where Unite is accused of signing up its members to the local party (some without their knowledge) — was a one-off aberration.

Yet despite Mr Miliband’s pledge to change the system in which union members pay a levy to Labour unless they choose to opt out, his office has received at least three letters from activists demanding an investigation into ‘serious irregularities’ in the selection procedure in another constituency.I can also reveal:


4.LOCAL party membership lists packed with Muslims who can’t speak English, according to former Labour councillors.

5. THE names of unwitting Tory voters allegedly added to local Labour parties.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: We Must Not Withdraw From the European Convention on Human Rights

by Cherie Booth

The European court isn’t just for Abu Qatada and life-sentence prisoners. It serves us all, deserving and otherwise, like the NHS

Few people in Britain can have failed to rejoice at the deportation of Abu Qatada to Jordan. He was a threat to this country, and it was right to remove him. Full marks to Theresa May for the painstaking approach she took that enabled him finally to be deported after eight years of trying but without breaching the international law to which the UK has signed up. I agree with her, too, that there is something wrong with a system that takes so long to achieve its aim and at enormous cost to the taxpayer. But I don’t agree with the general lesson which she is reported to have learned from this episode: that we should consider withdrawing from the European convention on human rights…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: War Veteran, 92, Died After His Home Was Set on Fire After Complaining About Noise From a Neighbour’s Flat

A murder investigation has been launched after a 92-year-old Polish war veteran died following a blaze at his flat.

Fryderyk Kucharski was trapped in his second-floor home after the fire was believed to have been started deliberately.

Neighbours, who named the frail pensioner, told how he had complained about rowdy behaviour in the block of flats where he had lived for about 40 years.

Mr Kucharski was rescued from the blaze last Saturday by firefighters but died in hospital on Thursday afternoon.

Last night, detectives confirmed they were treating his death as murder and have arrested several people on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Democracy Lacks Roots in Egypt — and It’s Time We Got Real About it

by Kwasi Kwarteng

Kwasi Kwarteng is MP for Spelthorne

The events in Egypt in the past couple of weeks have stunned the world. The army forced President Morsi to leave office, barely a year after he was elected in Egypt’s first democratic election. The army’s motives are unclear. Some people feel that they intervened because they were frightened by the militant Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood. Others have suggested that the army, which is believed to control up to 40 per cent of the Egyptian economy, acted swiftly to protect its interests. Whatever the reasons, the army’s intervention has been decisive and unambiguous.

I visited Egypt many times before I was elected to Parliament, and again as a member of the Conservative Middle East Council. I have been struck by how much Koranic principles, with regard to women’s clothing etc., have taken root in the past 15 years. The country I first visited in 1998 had been shocked by terrorist outrages but remained a bustling, secular nation…

[Reader comment by Romsey on 13 July 2013 at about 8:30 am.]

There was a very perceptive article written in the Telegraph by Fraser Nelson a while back which argued, very persuasively, that it was capitalism that Egypt needed to cure its ills, not democracy. Like the articles I read on ConHome about Syria, I am afraid I see no convincing case here for UK or indeed “Western” involvement. The UK may be rightly proud of its democratic traditions but imposing democracy on countries whose own democracies have not evolved naturally has not enjoyed a great track record of success. Rather from Zimbabwe on independence to Iraq after the Gulf War, it has been an unmitigated failure and I know of no one who is optimistic about what is going to happen in Afghanistan. Like many others, I am appalled by radical Islam — it is a force for evil. Be that as it, Eqypts future is for its own people to determine — not “the West”.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

CIA’s Mercenaries Feed on Their Own: Al-Qaeda Kills FSA Leader

Kamal Hamami, a member of the FSA’s Supreme Military Council, was meeting members of a rival group “to discuss battle plans” when he was assassinated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Reports indicate he was personally shot by Abu Ayman al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s Emir of the coastal region of Syria.

Louay Mekdad, FSA Supreme Command Political Coordinator, said one of Hamami’s group was set free to pass on the message that the ISIL considers the FSA heretics and that the Supreme Command is now target in al-Qaeda’s sights.

ISIL is described as an umbrella organization consisting of several groups composed of and supported by the Mujahideen Shura Council, al-Qaeda, Jeish al-Fatiheen, Jund al-Sahaba, Katbiyan Ansar Al-Tawhid wal Sunnah, Jeish al-Taiifa al-Mansoura, and others.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Iraq: 39 Killed, 26 Wounded in Separate Attacks Across Iraq

BAGHDAD, July 12 (Xinhua) — At least 39 people were killed and 26 others wounded in separate violent attacks across Iraq on Friday, police said. The deadliest attack took place Friday evening when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a cafe in Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad, killing 33 people and injuring 26 others, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Many young men were playing the Al-Muhaibis, or Ring Game, which is very popular in Iraq during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, inside the Classico Cafe in the Wahid Huzayran area in southwestren Kirkuk when the attacker set off his explosive belt…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Money, Guns Flowing From Kuwait to Syria’s Most Radical Rebel Factions

Syrian rebels have a new source of weapons and cash from inside Kuwait, and their benefactors in the oil-rich state are sending the aid to the most militant and anti-West factions involved in the fight to topple Bashar al-Assad.

The role of Saudi and Qatari governments and individuals in the funding and arming of Islamist fighters in Syria has been well known since the civil war began more than two years ago. But now, guns and money are flowing from private sources and Salafist-controlled NGOs based in Kuwait, and they are going to rebel factions aligned with Al Qaeda.

“We are collecting money to buy all these weapons, so that our brothers will be victorious,” hard-core Sunni Islamist Sheikh Shafi’ Al-Ajami announced on Kuwaiti television last month, listing the black-market prices of weapons, including heat-seeking missiles, anti-aircraft guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

New Front Opens in Syria as Rebels Say Al Qaeda Attack Means War

Syrian rebels said on Friday the assassination of one of their top commanders by al Qaeda-linked militants was tantamount to a declaration of war, opening a new front for the Western-backed fighters struggling against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Rivalries have been growing between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Islamists, whose smaller but more effective forces control most of the rebel-held parts of northern Syria more than two years after pro-democracy protests became an uprising.

“We will not let them get away with it because they want to target us,” a senior FSA commander said on condition of anonymity after members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant killed Kamal Hamami on Thursday.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pakistan Taliban ‘Sets Up a Base in Syria’

The Pakistani Taliban have visited Syria to set up a base and to assess “the needs of the jihad”, a Taliban official has told the BBC.

He said that the base was set up with the assistance of ex-Afghan fighters of Middle Eastern origin who have moved to Syria in recent years.

At least 12 experts in warfare and information technology had gone to Syria in the last two months, he said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Police Stop Turkish Journalist Protest Rally

(AGI) Istanbul, July 13 — Hundreds of Turkish journalists were held back by police on Friday night in Istanbul while trying to reach Taksim Square. They were protesting against pressure, media attacks and self-censure over recent weeks during media coverage of protests against Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

The peaceful protest rally began in Istiklal, Istanbul’s trade hub, and was stopped by two armoured vehicles and some hundred police in anti-riot gear before it could reach the square, which is a symbol of anti-regime protests.

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

Syria: Groups Linked to Al Qaeda Kill Senior Anti-Assad Rebel Official

Kamal Hamami was a member of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army. The latter views the assassination as a “declaration of war” and now wants to “wipe out” the Islamists. Incident confirms the deepening division within rebel ranks. Welcomed at the start of the revolt, Islamists are now despised by most Syrians who oppose the Islamic courts, extrajudicial killings and abductions in the areas under their control.

Beirut (AsiaNews) — The assassination in Latakia, north-western Syria, of a top commander in the Free Syrian Army, a rebel force backed by the West and most Arab nations, by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an organisation linked to al Qaeda, is tantamount to a “declaration of war”, FSA rebels said on Friday. The incident now could open a new front in Syria’s civil war between Western-backed forces and Islamists.

Kamal Hamami, a member of the FSA Supreme Military Council, had gone to meet with men of the Islamic State to discuss common strategy against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, but was murdered instead, said Qassem Saadeddine, a Free Syrian Army spokesman.

“The Islamic State phoned me saying that they killed Abu Bassel (Hamami’s nom de guerre) and that they will kill all of the Supreme Military Council,” Saadeddine explained.

The incident is the latest sign of disarray in the armed opposition to Assad’s regime, divided between FSA moderates and extremists associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the Nusra Front.

Initially, extremists were welcomed because of the common fight against Assad, but are now despised by a majority of the population opposed to their Islamic courts, extrajudicial executions and kidnappings in the areas under their control.

“We are going to wipe the floor with them. We will not let them get away with it because they want to target us,” a senior FSA commander said on condition of anonymity.

The anti-government Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, said the FSA and the Islamic State have had violent exchanges in several areas of Syria over the past few weeks. In one of the latest incidents last Friday, the Islamic State killed an FSA rebel in Idlib province and cut his head off.

The rivalries among rebel forces is helping Assad who, thanks to the intervention by Lebanon’s Hizbollah, has been able to mount counter attacks in various parts of the country.

At the same time though, they have pushed moderate rebels to ask the West, especially the US, for modern weapons.

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

Syria: Moderate Rebels Accuse Al-Qaeda Groups of Murdering Commander

Syria’s rebel movement descended into its own conflict last night after an al-Qaeda-linked faction was accused of assassinating a senior commander in the Free Syrian Army.

The largely secular FSA blamed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant for the murder of Kamal Hamami, 32, a senior commander in the FSA’s Supreme Military Council. It said his killing amounted to a “declaration of war”, as tensions between groups supposed to be working together against Bashar al-Assad were dramatically exposed. Hamami was shot dead in the town of Salma in Latakia province, northern Syria, on Thursday. Two of his comrades were also wounded in the attack.

The FSA said it would launch a revenge attack, raising the prospect of an internecine feud that could play into the hands of President Assad, whose forces have been making strategic gains in recent months. “The Free Syrian Army are preparing a big attack on the al-Qaeda group in Latakia province in revenge for the commander’s death,” said Mahmoud, an opposition activist in contact with local groups, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Syria Opposition: Some in US Congress Delay Arms

Syria’s main opposition bloc complained that “elements in the U.S. Congress” are obstructing the Obama administration’s efforts to step up support for the rebels, as regime forces on Friday intensified their offensive on opposition strongholds.

President Barack Obama recently said the U.S. is willing to send weapons to the opposition. Even so, Washington has been reluctant to arm the rebels battling President Bashar Assad’s troops because radical Islamic groups, including some with al-Qaida links, have emerged as their most effective fighting force. Western countries have also been concerned over the lack of unified command among rebel groups.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The First Night of Ramadan in Qatar, Dozens of Patients in the Emergency Room for Indigestion

A doctor reports that there are from 10 to 15 people who every day must resort to medical help. “They begin to arrive around 8:00 pm, 8:30 with stomach pains and vomiting attacks”.

Doha (AsiaNews) — The first notes of Ramadan began for hospitals of Qatar with the hospitalization of dozens of people who complained of abdominal pains, caused by excessive amount of food consumed, evidently, during the first Iftar, the dinner that, during the month of fasting, is eaten after sundown.

This is what one doctor at the Al Ahli Hospital told Arabian Business. Com, “most cases arriving at the emergency room regard gastritis. We see between 10 and 15 patients a day”. He added, “They begin to arrive around 8:00 pm, 8:30 with stomach pains and vomiting attacks”. And they can’t stop it, because there is an inflammation of the mucosa of the stomach”. They are treated intravenously with sedatives, anti-inflammatories and emetics.

Last year, there were roughly a hundred persons admitted during the first night of Ramadan were a hundred, mostly suffering from abdominal pains.

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

Burmese Activist Gets Ten Years in Prison for Demonstrating Against Expropriation for Chinese Mine

Judge comes down hard on Aung Soe, a member of the People’s Support Network. Charges against him date back to last April when he led a demonstration against the Sino-Burmese mine. Police intervention left dozens injured. The authorities continue their crackdown against those who oppose large-scale plants and mines.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) — A court in central Myanmar has sentenced an activist to ten years in prison for “threatening national security” after he led a protest against a controversial Chinese-backed copper mine that sparked clashes with the authorities.

The ruling casts a shadow on the country’s democratic reforms long trumpeted by the government of President Thein Sein, who is set to start a visit in Europe in coming days.

It does confirm however that a climate of repression and violence has fallen on domestic critics, especially those who oppose large-scale projects like hydroelectric plants (see Myitsone dam in the northern state of Kachin) that could have a devastating impact on the environment.

Judge Kaythi Hlaing of the Shwebo city court handed Aung Soe, an activist with Myanmar’s People’s Support Network, a ten-year sentence on Monday after convicting him on eight charges, including “threatening religious purity”, in connection with violence on 25 April.

Aung had backed hundreds of farmers protesting the seizure of their land by Wan Bao Company, which is owned by China’s state-owned China North Industries Corp. (Norinco).

The latter runs a copper mine near Mount Letpadaung in northern Burma’s Sagaing division, a major farming region, in cooperation with Myanmar’s Ministry of Mines and industry, which is closely connected to the country’s military.

Anti-mine protests are nothing new. In the summer of 2012, they had already reached a crisis point. Their latest round began last April when police cracked down on farmers trying to occupy disputed land. At least ten protesters were wounded in the violent clash, some by firearms. Fifteen agents were also injured.

Soe Thu and Maung San, two residents from the village of Setae near the Letpadaung copper mine, were also convicted for “violating orders” and “inciting riots”, but they have not yet been sentenced. Their lawyers have already announced an appeal.

Last March, a commission of inquiry gave the mine the green light, despite the constant protests.

Now, four months later, operations have not started yet as villagers are still outraged by what they feel are inadequate compensation for the land they lost to expropriation.

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

Indian Teenager Accused of Delhi Bus Gang-Rape Faces a Maximum of Just Three Years in Prison to Fury of Victim’s Family

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

A verdict due today on a teenager who allegedly gang raped and murdered an Indian student on a Delhi bus in December has been delayed.

The 18-year-old is charged with rape, murder, destroying evidence, and other crimes including kidnapping.

He was 17 at the time of the brutal assault so if he is convicted he will only serve a maximum of three years in a reform facility, including the time he has already spent in custody while waiting for the verdict.

The verdict is likely to cause further anger in a country attempting to turn a rising tide of violence against women and which has passed a new law toughening sentences for adults convicted of sex crimes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

China: Beijing “Celebrates” Ramadan, Communist Officials Invite Uygur Muslims to Lunch

The Government of the Western Province of Xinjiang has placed mosques under monitoring and prohibited groups of study and prayer. After the invitation to lunch, charges of “premeditated offenses” when they do not eat. Activists denounce: “these policies are new fuel to the fire”.

Beijing (AsiaNews) — While all the Muslim world observes the precepts strictly linked to the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims of Xinjiang Province of China suffer a new wave of repression and restrictions designed to stop them from observing the rules laid down by their religion for this period. Chinese Government officials, Uygur ethnic activists groups have denounced, arrive to invite the community’s religious leaders for lunch to make them embarrassed and have an excuse to accuse them of “premeditated offenses”.

Dilxadi Rexiti, spokesman for the World Congress of Uygurs, says: “Some representatives of the Government go to the homes of important members of the community to offer fruits and drinks during the day, when instead the Koran requires us to fast until sunset. At the same time, the authorities have banned any study group of religious texts and they have put the mosques under surveillance”.

Ramadan, which began two days ago, requires the faithful to abstain from food, drink, tobacco and sexual activities during the day. In the province, which has long been the epicenter of violence and tensions between ethnic Uyghur (one time a majority in the territory) and the Han ethnicity, these provocations are likely to ignite sparks of new clashes. According to Katrina Lantos Swett, of the U.S. Commission for Religious Freedom, “Beijing’s policies launched in the name of security are likely to put at risk the stability of the area”.

The Uyghurs are Muslim and Turkish speaking: for several decades they have a conflictual relationship with the Chinese Central Government. After a few (failed) attempts to gain independence as “East Turkestan”, ethnic leaders have asked Beijing to preserve the language, culture and religion. The Chinese Government — while giving tax and social breaks — has decided instead to use the heavy hand and launched a campaign of repression and control throughout the area. For some time, indeed, religious instruction has been prohibited to minors (who can’t even enter the mosques).

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

South China Sea: Hanoi Chooses Delhi Over Beijing’s Protests

On the sidelines of a bilateral meeting, Vietnam’s Foreign Minister says New Delhi has the right to explore and develop resources in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea. A trading partnership turns into an economic alliance as India funds Vietnam’s energy projects.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Despite protests from China, India has joined the endless dispute over the South China Sea. In fact, New Delhi can pursue “exploration and exploitation work in the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam,” Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said after meeting his Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid at the 15th Meeting of the India-Vietnam Joint Commission currently held in the Indian capital.

Mr Pham’s statement comes a few days after Beijing agreed to discuss a Code of Conduct to manage longstanding disputes in the South China Sea, whose seabed is rich in oil and natural gas.

However, in spite of this concession, China has never hidden its opposition to exploration projects by India in Vietnam’s section of the sea.

Despite Chinese threats, the New Delhi-Hanoi alliance is getting stronger, as the recent meeting confirms.

In addition to Pham’s explicit statements, the conference also saw the two countries agree to US$ 19.5 million Line of Credit to set up Nam Trai-IV hydropower project and Binh Bo Pumping station.

Vietnam also chose India’s Tata Power to develop the US$ 1.8 billion 2X660 MW Long Phu 2 Thermal Power Project in Soc Trang province, southern Vietnam, beating the strong competition from South Korean and Russian companies.

Once completed, “It will be the single largest Indian investment in Vietnam when it comes through and will give a strong boost to our economic cooperation and the strategic partnership,” Pham said.

What is more, “We want to affirm our support to India’s Look East policy which manifests in a more active role in Asia Pacific region and the world at large,” the Vietnamese minister added.

In the Asia-Pacific region, China has the most extensive claims in terms of maritime boundaries in the South China Sea, including the resource-rich but largely uninhabited Spratly and Paracel Islands. Hegemony in the area is of ??strategic importance for maritime trade and oil and natural gas development.

Beijing’s expansionist ambitions are challenged by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, the Sultanate of Brunei and Taiwan.

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

Dutch Tourist in Australia Tortured and Raped 60 Times

(AGI) Sydney — A Dutch tourist in Australia was tortured and raped 60 times in a six-week nightmare .

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

Hogtied Tourist Raped 62 Times Court Hears

Prosecutors have gathered 450 hours of video evidence against a man and woman accused of holding a Dutch tourist hostage for six weeks and sexually and physically abusing her, a court has heard.

Alfio Anthony Granata, 46, appeared briefly in the dock at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Friday, while co-accused Jennifer Mary Peaston, 32, appeared later in the day via video link.

Mr Granata and Ms Peaston each face 179 charges, including 62 counts of rape, at least 85 counts of assault, making threats to kill, drug offences and detaining a person against their will.

Police allege they held the young woman hostage in a Preston apartment between mid-November and late December last year, until she self-harmed and was taken to hospital on Christmas Day with multiple injuries.

Mr Granata sat in the dock on Friday dressed in a blue suit and striped business shirt and with his black and silver hair pulled back in a ponytail.

His lawyer, Christopher Pearson, appealed to Magistrate Donna Bakos for the prosecution to present its case sooner rather than later because his client was “in custody waiting anxiously” to learn of the case against him.

During Mr Granata’s appearance, the court heard that prosecutors had gathered 450 hours of video evidence of what allegedly occurred in the apartment during the six weeks.

In a police summary previously tendered to court, the tourist claimed she was subjected to constant sexual and physical abuse, mental trauma and a death “ritual” in the apartment.

A detective testified that the woman said Mr Granata claimed he was possessed by an ancestor and performed a ritual by sealing an envelope with her photo, finger and toenails, a piece of hair and her blood to symbolise that her “being was no more”.

The woman told police she had met the two accused at a party in St Kilda last October and later engaged in consensual “threesomes” and drug use, according to the summary.

It is alleged that by November Mr Granata became violent towards both women, and that the tourist could not leave the apartment.

A previous court hearing was told police had seized portable web cameras — allegedly showing Mr Granata committing sex acts and violence on the woman — and chains, blindfolds and sex toys.

Ms Bakos remanded Mr Granata and Ms Peaston to appear in court on August 30.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

What Really Happened in Room 355?

A FOREIGN tourist meets a couple at a birthday party — and the sordid claims about what happened in a Preston hotel room for the next seven weeks.

IT looks slick — a pool with palm trees, a 24-hour gym and an LCD TV in the guest rooms.

You can buy frozen chocolate terrine with vanilla bean anglaise and strawberry coulis for $16 at the Chill Restaurant and Bar.

A glass of 2005 Tempus Two “Pewter” botrytis semillon to wash it down will cost another $8.50.

This is what real estate agents would call an up-and-coming part of town.

It is slowly being yuppified.

If you don’t want to eat at Rydges Bell City in Bell St, Preston, there are plenty of other options these days just down the road.

For a hit of culture, the art deco gem that is the Westgarth Cinema is moments away.

All of which makes what police allege happened here all the more extraordinary.

According to police, a woman was held captive here as a sex slave for nearly seven weeks.

The European tourist claims she was raped numerous times during that period until she finally escaped after stabbing her attacker in the shoulder.

Police say by the time she escaped on Christmas Day she had bruises all over her body.

She was taken to hospital with significant physical injuries.

A man and a woman have been charged with more than 100 offences relating to the woman’s ordeal.

THE tourist was just 21 — on the adventure of a lifetime.

She had come from Europe to see what Australia had to offer.

She did what lots of young European travellers do when they come to Australia — she looked for work and found a job that fitted the bill perfectly. She was at a birthday party when she met a couple.

In his police record of interview, Alfio Anthony Granata, 44, said the tourist had come to visit them and had sex with his partner, Jennifer Mary Peaston.

Ms Peaston is also charged with offences in relation to what happened inside the hotel.

He said the tourist moved in with them and stayed for several weeks after moving out of a hostel in South Melbourne.

He said in the record of interview with police that the three had “consenting threesomes”.

He told an interviewing police officer that if the officer wanted proof of his version of what happened in the hotel room, then he should retrieve hours of footage from his Compaq laptop, which he had used to make recordings through hidden cameras.

He said he put a high-definition camera in the airconditioning shaft and tried to use it “as a deterrent”.

He said just about everything that happened in the room was recorded and the only time it wasn’t was when the girls “pulled the plug out”.

The Sunday Herald Sun has seen tapes of Mr Granata’s police interview, recorded on Boxing Day from 9.15pm to 11.52pm.

The divorced father-of-three, who said he was on a disability pension, denied he kept the tourist against her will.

MUCH of the detail in the record of interview is sexually graphic and the Sunday Herald Sun has decided not to publish it.

During the interview, Mr Granata apologised for some of the detail in his answers because they were made in front of a female public advocate, who sat in on the interview because Mr Granata did not request a lawyer.

He alleges in the record of interview that he had regular sex with the victim, who claims the incidents were rape.

“I couldn’t tell you how many times, 10 times, five times,” Mr Granata said.

“It’s not really rough sex, you can see that for yourself. She was tied up, that’s what they wanted.”

Late in the interview, Mr Granata said he had sex with both women on December 23 and 24 — the day before the victim allegedly stabbed him and made her alleged escape from the hotel apartment.

“Jennifer asserted herself and regained her dignity I suppose, but I can’t make comment on that as to her aggressiveness, she was just standing her ground,” he said.

During the interview, Mr Granata claimed that the alleged victim and Ms Peaston were having a “relationship” and leaving him out.

He told police he was unhappy with the alleged victim and Ms Peaston’s involvement.

The noise from the small apartment, which cost $325 a week from Mr Granata’s weekly pension of about $450, prompted security to visit several times.

Police attended the flat after one row, staying for about 10 minutes but then leaving when Mr Granata apologised for the disturbance.

Mr Granata denied the alleged victim was kept hostage, saying that all three went to the shops several times, including to get “two pounds of goat” for Christmas Day.

He said he was planning to cook a Christmas feast of goat and capsicum for his children.

He cried during the interview.

He also claimed he was drugged by the alleged victim with Valium, after he had asked her to make his coffee and clean up the room.

Despite suspicions that his drink had been spiked, he continued to consume drinks prepared by the victim for some time.

Mr Granata claimed that the alleged victim was free to leave from room 355 at Rydges Bell City hotel complex.

The alleged victim’s ordeal ended on Christmas Day last year after she allegedly stabbed Mr Granata in the shoulder.

What actually happened in room 355 will be further examined when Mr Granata, who was charged with abduction and refused bail, appears at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on July 12 for a committal mention hearing.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

British Tourists Hold Sit-in at Caribbean Resort After Locals “Destroy Everything”

Dozens of British holidaymakers have staged a sit-in at a luxury Caribbean hotel after “drunk and rowdy” locals turned up and urinated in the swimming pool, ate the buffet food and caused “chaos and destruction.” SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO

The guests, who were staying at the five-star ClubHotel Riu Merengue in the Dominican Republic, claim their holiday had been ruined by the behaviour of the locals.

One angry tourist, Tony Walton, told the Daily Mirror that his £12,000 family holiday with Thomson was ruined by the locals.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mercosur Countries Call Home Ambassadors in Italy

(AGI) Montevideo, July 13 — Mercosur (Mercado Comun del Sur) member countries Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela called home for consultations their ambassadors in Italy, Spain, France and Portugal. These are the countries that prohibited the fly-over of the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales on suspicion that Spy-Fi whistleblower Edward Snowden was also onboard. Morales’s plane was obliged to take a ten-hour stop-over in Vienna airport, triggering a diplomatic incident.

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

Amnesty’s Price: $12,433 for Every Legalized Immigrant Household

A fight has erupted over the costs of granting amnesty to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in America, with the White House claiming the cash benefits to the Treasury are huge and will slash the deficit, and critics showing it will cost Americans more and increase the deficit.

The White House late Thursday dispatched an email to President Obama’s campaign supporters that provided a video claiming that immigration reform will result in a 5.4 percent growth in GDP as “highly skilled” workers and “entrepreneurs” add to the country’s economic base. No mention was made of low-skilled workers, the bulk of illegal immigrants in the country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Boldrini Calls for Migrant Policy That Reflects Pope’s Words

Italian house speaker warns of indifference and responsibility

(ANSA) — Rosarno (Reggio Calabria), July 12 — Italian House Speaker Laura Boldrini on Friday called for new migrant policy that heeds the words of Pope Francis, who on Monday called for respect and sympathy for them on a visit to the island of Lampedusa. “Immigration policy should reflect the words of Pope Francis, who in Lampedusa spoke of our incapacity to mourn and take responsibility for our actions,” Bodrini said in the Calabrian town of Rosarno.

Rosarno, located in the toe of Italy’s boot, is the home to the ‘Ndrangheta mafia, but also copes with significant number of migrants coming across the Mediterranean from North Africa. “Politics should also stay out of ideological contrasts, populism and the opportunistic use of migration issues, which should be governed with lucidity,” Boldrini continued. “One cannot ignore that politics has had and continues to have responsibility in the immigration emergency. It is not acceptable to improvise nor to leave these migrants to live in inhuman conditions, just as it is not acceptable for mayors and citizens of the Piana di Gioia Tauro to be left alone when they deal with immigration,” Boldrini said, making reference to the local Calabrian territory where she was speaking.

“The same attitude of indifference toward migrants has (affected) also young Calabrian victims of the economic crisis, who are easy prey for the ‘Ndrangheta,” Boldrini concluded. (photo: Italian House Speaker Laura Boldrini)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Minister Unveils Citizenship Plans for Children of Immigrants

Rome, 12 July (AKI) — Italy’s integration minister Cecil Kyenge in an interview on Friday outlined citizenship rights she and her colleagues are considering for the children of immigrants, which stop short of a US-style birthright.

“We are looking at citizenship rights based on the number of years the parents of a child have been resident,” Congo-born Kyenge told Italy’s Radio 24’s ‘24 Mattino’ programme.

“I am proposing a period of five years,” Kygene said.

She said the government was currently considering some 20 proposals on the politically sensitive issue citzenship for the children of immigrants to Italy, opposed by many on the right in Italy.

Rome’s centre-left mayor, Ignazio Marino weighed into the politically charged debate in June, saying that children born in Italy to immigrant parents should automatically be citizens.

“A child that is born in Italy is Italian from the moment of its birth — this principle is in accordance with religious values but also with the civil dignity of individuals,” Marino told Italian public radio.

Kyenge, Italy’s first black minister also favours automatic citizenship for children born to legal immigrants in Italy but her proposals met with opposition from the Italian right including the anti-immigrant Northern League party.

The government led by prime minister Enrico Letta is a coaltion between the centre-left Democratic Party, the conservative People of Freedom Party of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and a small, centrist party.

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

Meeting Held by Italian Govt Members Over Kazakh Deportation

Inquiry ongoing into case of dissident’s family expulsion

(ANSA) — Rome, July 12 — A meeting was held among top Italian government members in Rome on Friday to discuss the deportation of the wife and daughter of prominent Kazakh dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov from Italy in June.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, Premier Enrico Letta, Foreign Minister Emma Bonino and Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri held talks to discuss the case of Alma Shalabayeva and her six-year-old daughter, who last month were taken to Rome’s Ciampino airport and put on a private jet with Kazakh diplomats following a raid by Italian police on a Rome apartment.

Letta, Bonino and Cancellieri have denied knowing about the operation until after the fact.

The move to review the handling of the case came amid calls from the left-wing opposition SEL party “to take all measures possible to guarantee the safety of Shalabayeva and her daughter” now in Kazakhstan, which Human Rights Watch has criticised for its “deteriorating” human rights record.

According to family and associates in Italy, police were in search of Ablyazov, a banker linked to a multi-billion-euro embezzlement case at his BTA Bank.

Ablyazov, who has been a fugitive in Kazakhstan since 2009 and in and out of hiding, was not found in the raid, but agents apprehended his wife and daughter instead on charges of residing in the country illegally, which their lawyers denied again Tuesday.

“The deportation order is entirely illegitimate, and in essence an abuse of power,” said attorney Riccardo Olivo at a press conference at the Senate.

In the complex international case, Manconi said that Italian agents may not have acted alone in the raid.

“There’s a document that says an Italian security company was enlisted, I believe by an Israeli security company, to surveil the home before the police stormed it,” said the Senator. “I don’t have any more details”.

Ablyazov, an outspoken critic of autocratic Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, helped found the now-defunct Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK), an opposition political movement that campaigned for breaking up the concentration of power in the executive, an independent judiciary, and a strong legislature.

Italy’s SEL party has demanded explanations specifically from Alfano, who is also the deputy premier and the secretary of the center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party of three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Critics have pointed out that during his stints as premier Berlusconi helped foster lucrative commercial ties between Italy and oil-rich Kazakhstan.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The $46 Billion Immigration Question

The “border surge” provisions in a recently passed Senate immigration bill are shocking, in a bad way — and a little awesome, in a good way. That’s by design.

They are Republican vote bait, yes, and they reek of tough-guy talking points. Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., crafted an amendment that tried to respond to conservative cries for stronger border security. It greased the skids for the massive immigration bill to glide through the Senate on a smooth, bipartisan 68-32 vote. Like it or not, it will be a major part of any negotiations with the House.

The amendment is so over-the-top that it has become an object of ridicule and outrage in both liberal and conservative camps. It would cost $38 billion, on top of the $8 billion for border security already in the bill. Depending on whom you ask, it’s a $46 billion boondoggle, backslide, or blunder.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Thirteen Immigrants Arrived in Crotone Overnight

(AGI) Crotone, July 13 — A new landing saw 13 immigrants arrive in Crotone. The group of immigrants was spotted at around 2 a.m. at Capo Rizzuto beach. The group was made up of 12 Pakistani men and an Afghan man, all of whom were in good health. The group told officers they had arrived aboard a two-engine vessel, which left once they had disembarked.

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

UK: Immigration Backlog Tops 500,000 and Will Take 37 Years to Clear, Warn MPS

The Home Office’s immigration backlog has topped 500,000 for the first time and will take until the year 2050 to clear at current rates, MPs have warned.

A Commons committee described the total — enough to fill Wembley Stadium six times over — as “staggering” and demanded further information from Theresa May, the Home Secretary. A report from the all-party Home Affairs Select Committee said the total had leapt from 322,000 in the third quarter last year to more than 502,000 at the end of 2012, following the disclosure of a previously unreported 190,000 cases.

The backlog includes all types of case handled by the immigration service including people the government want to remove and applications from foreigners to visit or settle in this country. The total features more than 4,000 foreign criminals the government is trying to deport, 33,500 asylum cases and 61,000 cases which are still awaiting inputting into computer systems. Keith Vaz, the committee chairman, said: “The backlog of cases has now hit a staggering half a million people. This could fill Wembley Stadium to capacity six times over…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Inside the Migrant Shed City: Immigrants Living in Cramped and Illegally Built Garden Sheds (No Wonder Officials Underestimated the Number of New Arrivals)

1.   EU immigration was undercounted by the Office for National Statistics by 600,000 over a 13-year period
2.   Hounslow has 20,000 gardens with ramshackle sheds a lot of them rented out illegally
3.   The official Hounslow population is 250,000 but one councillor says it is really more like 300,000

Only this week, it was revealed that the number arriving from the EU was undercounted by the Office for National Statistics by 600,000 over a 13-year period.

It means that immigration between 1997 and 2010 was nearly four million.

As Hounslow councillor Sheila O’Reilly says: ‘Once, it was a rural scene around here. Now, many areas resemble shanty towns.

‘There are 20,000 gardens with ramshackle sheds or outbuildings of all sizes, a lot of them rented out illegally.

‘The main problem is that we have let so many people into this country in such a short time that we do not have the accommodation for them.’

In Hounslow, the official population figure from the 2011 census is close to 250,000 — but Councillor O’Reilly thinks the true number is 300,000.

‘There may easily be 50,000 people living in beds in sheds in this borough alone. They are in gardens everywhere — even the posh parts of Hounslow.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Lib Dem MP Attacks Coalition’s Plans for Immigration Reform

Ex-minister Sarah Teather condemns coalition’s ‘politically naked’ plans to reform immigrants’ access to key services

A former coalition minister has launched a wide-ranging attack on the government’s proposals to reform immigrants’ access to housing, healthcare and other essential services, condemning the plans as “unworkable, unjust, and nakedly political”.

In a candid interview with the Guardian, Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central and minister for children and families until last September’s reshuffle, revealed that an internal working group on immigration was initially named the Hostile Environment Working Group, because it was explicitly charged with making Britain a hostile environment for unwanted immigrants…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Migrant Backlog Soars to 500,000… and it Will Take 37 Years to Clear, Say MPS

It will take nearly four decades to clear up the mess left by Labour’s ‘open-door’ immigration policy, a devastating report reveals today.

The true scale of the backlog in the immigration system is exposed by MPs who conclude it now tops more than 500,000 cases.

The total is the equivalent of a city the size of Manchester. And at current rates of progress it will take 37 years to deal with, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said.

Since its last report only three months ago its estimate of the backlog has increased by 190,000 after officials revealed a previously undocumented number of cases.

Astonishingly, officials could not be sure that more backlogs would not be uncovered…

Among the backlogs uncovered are rising numbers of foreign criminals who have been released on to the streets as they await deportation. That figure was up 122 in three months, and now tops 4,000.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Race to the Trough: Common Core Conundrum, Part 1

In 1977, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph Califano rightly linked national control of curriculum to national control of ideas.[1] Indeed, our Founding Fathers purposely omitted education from the U.S. Constitution and thereby left it up to the states under local and parental control. But no more.

At the 1989 Kansas Governors Conference on Education, Dr. Shirley McCune explained,”We no longer see the teaching of facts and information as the primary outcome of education.” Instead, she added, we look to a “total transformation of our society.”[2] In the words of President Obama: “fundamental change.”

In 1992, Marc Tucker and Hillary Clinton explained how. Simply shift focus from reading, writing, and arithmetic to attitudes, values, and beliefs. The Tucker-Clinton model (tantamount to “national control of ideas”) produces compliant global citizens, yes; but it likewise fashions workers (not scholars), followers (not leaders), group members (not rugged individuals), and subjective feelers (not objective thinkers).[3]

National Control of Ideas via Group Think

For the chronically uninformed to accept without question Nanny State directives, today’s students — otherwise known as human resources or capital — must be trained for specific placement in pre-determined, entry-level vocations that support the global economy.To ensure the intended outcome, broad, rigorous liberal arts education no longer will do.

Hence, today’s non-optional, values-based, politically charge instruction by passes the tedium of academic disciplines. Now, global citizens-in-the-making are freed to “follow their bliss” as they goose-step in sync with likeminded comrades, all trained to serve the greater, common good.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Texas Senate Votes for Final Passage of Texas Abortion Bill, 19 to 11

The Texas Senate gave final passage on Friday to one of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country, legislation championed by Gov. Rick Perry, who rallied the Republican-controlled Legislature late last month after a Democratic filibuster blocked the bill and intensified already passionate resistance by abortion-rights supporters.

The bill, which Mr. Perry is expected to sign, bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and holds abortion clinics to the same standards as hospital-style surgical centers, among other requirements.

[Return to headlines]

Is Superhuman Intelligence a Bad Idea? Experts Warn the Quest for Greater Knowledge Could Lead to Evil and Psychosis

Sci-fi has long been fascinated by the idea of creating a race of people with superhuman intelligence, but two experts have now argued that this is far from a good idea.

Theoretical neurobiologist Mark Changizi, and philosopher Mark Walker, have both spent more time contemplating the issue than most.

In an interview with io9, the pair explained the problems. They believe that excessive amounts of intelligence could have negative consequences for the person, causing maladaptation, anti-social behaviour, and even psychosis.

Their findings come at a time when people are obsessed with intelligence, IQ, and the pursuit of endless knowledge.

They also believe that the concept is difficult as intelligence is hard to define and factors such as morals and empathy could be overlooked.

Mr Walker explained to io9: ‘Transhumanists, when they say that intelligence ought to be enhanced, almost never mean some kind of social intelligence.

‘They rarely talk about other forms of intelligence, like enhanced empathy, or understanding what it means to promote another person’s well-being.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Kepler Spacecraft Should Pin Down ‘Alien Earth’ Planets Despite Glitch

NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft should be able to achieve its primary mission goal regardless of whether or not it can bounce back from a recent malfunction, researchers say.

Kepler launched in March 2009 on a 3.5-year prime mission to determine how common Earth-like planets are throughout the Milky Way galaxy. That goal is likely already attainable, even if the spacecraft is unable to recover from the glitch that halted its exoplanet hunt two months ago, mission team members say.

“We believe we do have enough data to answer the question,” said Kepler analysis lead Jon Jenkins of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

“Now, we won’t have as tight error bars as we would otherwise have, and we won’t have orbital periods out well beyond Earth’s in terms of Earth-size planets,” Jenkins said during a lecture last month at the SETI Institute. “But we’ll still do a credible job and a good enough job delivering the answers that we need.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sci-Fi Film ‘Europa Report’ Uses Science to Show Space Travel Perils

The new science fiction movie “Europa Report” is billed by some admirers as one of the most accurate depictions of human spaceflight ever put on film, and that realism is no accident.

Screenwriters, expert consultants, actors and others worked to bring a sense of reality to “Europa Report,” paying meticulous attention to the world they were creating in the spaceship and depicting on the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

“One of the first things that drew me to the script was the fact that, as I was reading it, everything in there seemed to be at least inspired by what we know both about space travel and the possibility of what could be found on Europa while at the same time keeping a great equilibrium with making a movie that was also thrilling and interesting that kept me gripped until I finished the last page of the script,” Sebastián Cordero, the director of “Europa Report,” said.

The movie follows the journey of a crew of astronauts sent on the first manned mission to Europa. It is shot documentary-style and features interviews with various people involved in the harrowing undertaking to seek out alien life in the solar system.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sun’s 2013 Solar Activity Peak is Weakest in 100 Years

Though the sun is currently in the peak year of its 11-year solar weather cycle, our closest star has been rather quiet over all, scientists say.

This year’s solar maximum is shaping up to be the weakest in 100 years and the next one could be even more quiescent, scientists said Thursday (July 11).

“It’s the smallest maximum we’ve seen in the Space Age,” David Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., told reporters in a teleconference.

During a solar maximum, the number of sunspots increases. These dark temporary regions on the surface of the sun are thought to be caused by interplay between the sun’s plasma and its magnetic field. Sunspots are the source of the solar flares and ejections that can send charge particles hurtling toward Earth, which can damage satellites, surge power grids, cause radio blackouts and, more benignly, produce dazzling auroras above the planet.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/13/2013

  1. The ‘unknown attackers’ were most definitely NOT Muslims.

    The ‘unknown attackers’ were probably white Hispanics….

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