Gates of Vienna News Feed 8/17/2013

According to the latest reports, the Syrian rebels are to receive shipments of heavy weapons from Sudan. The shipments, which will contain anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft systems, are being financed by Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.

In other news, the U.S. government has opened a bribery inquiry into the operations of the JPMorgan company in China. The investigation centers around the alleged practice of hiring the relatives of prominent Chinese officials.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, JD, MC, McR, 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
» Austerity, Sub-Prime Lending, And the Safety of Savings Accounts
» Belgium: ‘Deprivation Peaks Along the Coast’
» Netherlands: Prostitutes’ Prices Hit by Crisis
» Data Mining: Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching
» How Google Chrome Lets Anybody See Your Passwords
» Let’s Not Wait 3 More Years to Get Rid of Our Dictator
» Oprah: Americans Are Racist
» Texas Police Hit Organic Farm With Massive Swat Raid
» You Won’t Believe What’s Going on With Government Spying on Americans
Europe and the EU
» Denmark Bans Meatballs to Accommodate Muslims
» Irish Travellers (Gypsies) Accused of Fighting and Disturbances in Poland
» Netherlands: Make Foreign Workers Pay Road Tax, Says MP
» Poland: ‘Green Energy’s Collapse’
» Spain: Santiago de Compostela Disaster: Crash of the High Speed Miracle
» UK: Shocking Moment Girl Kicks Elderly Asian Man, 80, To the Ground Causing His Turban to Fall Off Before Spitting in His Face (Video)
» Was Princess Diana Murdered by a British Soldier? Metropolitan Police ‘Assessing Credibility’ Of New Claim
North Africa
» Dozens of Churches and Schools Burnt in Egypt
» Egypt PM Proposes Outlawing Brotherhood
» Egypt: Hundreds of Islamists Barricaded in Mosque. More Attacks on Churches and Christian Buildings
» Egypt: The List of Christian Churches, Schools, Institutions, Shops Torched by the Muslim Brotherhood in the Last Three Days
» Egypt Championing Coptic Christians While Obama Plays Nero
» Egyptian Youth Leader Backs Army in Battle With Brotherhood
» Egypt: Islamists Hit Christian Churches
Israel and the Palestinians
» The Right Moment for Israel’s Danny Danon?
» Thousands Rally for Morsi in Israel
Middle East
» Iran: Three Christian Converts Arrested in Northwest
» Syrian Rebels Receive Heavy Weapons From Sudan
» What to Think About Egypt and Syria
South Asia
» India: Karnataka: Hindu Nationalists Persecute Tribals to Regain Power, Says Christian Leader
» Mumbai Terrorist Arrested by Police in India
Far East
» Solar Power: Very Generous Deal for Beijing
» U.S. Opens Bribery Inquiry of JPMorgan Hiring in China
Sub-Saharan Africa
» South Africa Gang Violence Shuts Cape Town Schools
Latin America
» Newly Discovered Olinguito is ‘Mix of House Cat and a Teddy Bear’
» Austria: ‘Immigration Difficult to Control’
» Barge Carrying 253 Migrants Arrives in Sicily
» Sweden: Hundreds March for Asylum Seekers’ Rights
» World Future 2013

Austerity, Sub-Prime Lending, And the Safety of Savings Accounts

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” — Thomas Sowell

Austerity has not worked well in the EU if you ask Keynesian economists and supporters; they will tell you that austerity does not work, citing the EU experience. Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, and the U.K. governments claimed that austerity measures resulted in stratospheric unemployment rates and slow economic growth.

Jeffrey Dorfman, using data from Eurostat, the official statistics agency of the European Union, and calculating government spending in EU countries between 2008-2012, found that only eight of the 30 countries listed have actually reduced government spending (austerity), most prominently Iceland and Ireland. The elected officials responded to rallies, protests, sit-ins and strikes, by spending more money to appease the masses. Dorfman reported that the average spending increase has been 4.9 percent, with Greece at 8.3 percent, Spain at 13.3 percent, and Portugal at 5.8 percent. In European countries which have reduced government spending, Iceland, Ireland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, and Romania, their specific austerity measures have worked. Dorfman concluded, “Austerity cannot have failed in countries where it was never tried.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Belgium: ‘Deprivation Peaks Along the Coast’

PresseuropDe Morgen

The crisis is worst in coastal areas where more and more children are being born into deprived families,” writes De Morgen, citing figures from the Flemish state-run Kind en Gezin (Child and Family) organisation.

In Ostend, 26.7 per cent of children were living on limited incomes in 2012, compared to 15.7 per cent in 2010. “That means that the costal city is in a worse situation than the much larger Antwerp, where 25.1 per cent of children are born into families without a stable income,” points out the daily. The change has been prompted by “the lure of the seaside” for people who hope to find seasonal jobs in hotels and restaurants —

Restaurant work can amount to a temporary solution, but the number of employment contracts is declining, and the income is not stable […] As a result of the crisis, more and more low-skilled people are joining the ranks of the long-term unemployed.

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

Netherlands: Prostitutes’ Prices Hit by Crisis

The economic crisis is forcing prostitutes to lower their prices and to accept dubious sexual practices, according to sector organisation Geisha.

‘The trend is apparent in the main cities, with some prostitutes unable to pay the rent on their rooms’, Ilonka Stakelborough from Geisha told Algemeen Dagblad.

Until recently, the minimum price was €50, but this has now dropped as low as €20 in cities such as Amsterdam and The Hague.

Geisha is to set up a project for sex workers so they can form a co-operative. Geisha will rent a room which prostitutes only pay rent for when they are actually working.

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

Data Mining: Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching

Not only is the Common Core Standards about “dumbing down” our children under the guise of bringing them up, but it is all about Power, Control and especially Money!

While many Americans worry about government drones in the sky spying on our private lives, NSA wire tapping our phones, Washington meddlers are already on the ground and in our schools gathering intimate data on children and families.

Before you get lost in this article and decide not to read to the end, I would ask that you please go and read/save this link to the National Archives and the minutes of a 1954 HEARINGS BEFORE THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE TAX-EXEMPT FOUNDATIONS AND COMPARABLE ORGANIZATIONS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES EIGHTY-THIRD CONGRESS. Please do not be turned off by the “Tax-Exempt Foundations” title or any misspelling on this document. Those old typewriters were not that easy to use. This document is so very telling and it got ignored.

We are all pretty disturbed about the “data mining” thing not just because of the cost, but the implications of it as a whole. Let me explain why your children’s and your information is no longer private through FERPA although you have been told otherwise.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the educrats at the U.S. Department of Education knew that Congress would never vote to codify the changes they sought in the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) so they’re using regulations in order to do so. They want to allow private and invasive information to be gathered on students and families in order to supply the workforce and to make that information available without parental consent of which was previously required.


How exactly does amassing and selling such personal data improve educational outcomes? It doesn’t. This, at its core, is the central fraud of Washington’s top-down nationalized standards scheme. The Bill Gates/Jeb Bush-endorsed Common Core “standards” are a phony pretext for big-government expansion. The dazzling allure of “21st-century technology” masks the privacy-undermining agenda of nosy bureaucratic drones allergic to transparency, accountability, and parental autonomy. Individual student privacy is sacrificed at the collective “For the Children” altar.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

How Google Chrome Lets Anybody See Your Passwords

One of the most popular features of Chrome is its ability to store passwords. That way they pop up automatically when you go to a function like email or Facebook. Elliot Kember, a software developer, discovered that anybody who clicks on the Chrome settings icon can see all of the passwords on that computer if he or she goes to the show advanced settings and passwords and forms sections.

The passwords are obscured, but clicking next to them causes them to appear in plain text. The text can be easily copied and emailed or seen by anybody that uses the computer. That means it would be easy for a hacker or malicious stranger that opened a computer with Chrome on it to see all of your passwords.

What’s really disturbing is that the head of Chrome development at Google, Justin Schuh, told The Guardian that he knows all about the flaw. Worse, Schuh said that there are no plans to correct it. In a piece he wrote on the website ‘Hacker News’, Schuh explained:…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Let’s Not Wait 3 More Years to Get Rid of Our Dictator

It’s starting to feel like everybody except liberal Democrats and Muslims acknowledge the wrongs against our country that our usurper president has done, is doing and will do are impeachable; that’s good enough for a start, but by whom for goodness sake?

Whether we have a group of leaders who quake in their boots at the thought of holding another impeachment session in Congress, or they have joined the enemy and will allow him to do all the damage he wants in return for a friendly nod from the worst criminal ever to dwell in our sacred White House is the dilemma.

Who would have suspected that the socialistic Washington Post would ever publish an article about a conservative Republican from Texas who spouts off about knowing that the House of Representatives of Congress has enough votes to impeach Obama?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Oprah: Americans Are Racist

On Thursday, CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker, stars of Oscar-bait The Butler. During the interview, in which Cooper thoughtfully nodded as Winfrey and Whitaker race-baited, Oprah suggested Emmitt Till and Trayvon Martin were equivalent symbols, and that Americans were racist even if they didn’t have ill will toward black people.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Texas Police Hit Organic Farm With Massive Swat Raid

A small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, was the target of a massive police action last week that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search.

Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm. But farm owners and residents who live on the property told a Dallas-Ft. Worth NBC station that the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement. The police seized “17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants … native grasses and sunflowers,” after holding residents inside at gunpoint for at least a half-hour, property owner Shellie Smith said in a statement. The raid lasted about 10 hours, she said.

Local authorities had cited the Garden of Eden in recent weeks for code violations, including “grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises,” Smith’s statement said. She said the police didn’t produce a warrant until two hours after the raid began, and officers shielded their name tags so they couldn’t be identified. According to ABC affiliate WFAA, resident Quinn Eaker was the only person arrested — for outstanding traffic violations.

The city of Arlington said in a statement that the code citations were issued to the farm following complaints by neighbors, who were “concerned that the conditions” at the farm “interfere with the useful enjoyment of their properties and are detrimental to property values and community appearance.” The police SWAT raid came after “the Arlington Police Department received a number of complaints that the same property owner was cultivating marijuana plants on the premises,” the city’s statement said. “No cultivated marijuana plants were located on the premises,” the statement acknowledged.

The raid on the Garden of Eden farm appears to be the latest example of police departments using SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics to enforce less serious crimes. A Fox television affiliate reported this week, for example, that police in St. Louis County, Mo., brought out the SWAT team to serve an administrative warrant. The report went on to explain that all felony warrants are served with a SWAT team, regardless whether the crime being alleged involves violence.

In recent years, SWAT teams have been called out to perform regulatory alcohol inspections at a bar in Manassas Park, Va.; to raid bars for suspected underage drinking in New Haven, Conn.; to perform license inspections at barbershops in Orlando, Fla..; and to raid a gay bar in Atlanta where police suspected customers and employees were having public sex. A federal investigation later found that Atlanta police had made up the allegations of public sex.

Other raids have been conducted on food co-ops and Amish farms suspected of selling unpasteurized milk products. The federal government has for years been conducting raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized them, even though the businesses operate openly and are unlikely to pose any threat to the safety of federal enforcers.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

You Won’t Believe What’s Going on With Government Spying on Americans

New Revelations Are Breaking Every Day

Revelations about the breathtaking scope of government spying are coming so fast that it’s time for an updated roundup:

  • Just weeks after NSA boss Alexander said that a review of NSA spying found not even one violation, the Washington Post published an internal NSA audit showing that the agency has broken its own rules thousands of times each year
  • 2 Senators on the intelligence committee said the violations revealed in the Post article were just the “tip of the iceberg”
  • Glenn Greenwald notes: “One key to the WashPost story: the reports are internal, NSA audits, which means high likelihood of both under-counting & white-washing”.(Even so, the White House tried to do damage control by retroactively changing on-the-record quotes)
  • The government is spying on essentially everything we do. It is not just “metadata” … although that is enough to destroy your privacy
  • The government has adopted a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act which allows it to pretend that “everything” is relevant … so it spies on everyone

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Denmark Bans Meatballs to Accommodate Muslims

One of the largest hospitals in Denmark has admitted to serving only halal beef — meat that is slaughtered in accordance with strict Islamic guidelines — to all of its patients regardless of whether or not they are Muslim.

The revelation that Danes are being forced to eat Islamically slaughtered meat at public institutions has triggered a spirited nationwide debate about how far Denmark should go to accommodate the estimated 250,000 Muslim immigrants now living in the country.

The halal food row erupted in July when the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet reported that Hvidovre Hospital near Copenhagen has been secretly serving only halal-slaughtered meat for the sake of its Muslim patients, for the past ten years. The hospital serves more than 40,000 patients annually, many (if not most) of whom presumably are non-Muslim.

Halal — which in Arabic means lawful or legal — is a term designating any object or action that is permissible according to Islamic Sharia law. In the context of food, halal meat is derived from animals slaughtered by hand according to methods stipulated in Islamic religious texts.

One such halal method, called dhabihah, consists of making a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck that cuts the jugular vein, leaving the animal to bleed to death. Much of the controversy involving halal stems from the fact that Sharia law bans the practice of stunning the animals before they are slaughtered. Pre-slaughter stunning renders the animals unconscious and is said to lessen their pain.

Amid a surge of public outrage over the decision to serve only halal beef, Hvidovre Hospital’s vice president, Torben Mogensen, has been unapologetic. “We have many patients from different ethnic backgrounds, which we must take into account, and it is impossible to have both the one and the other kind of beef,” he says.

“First,” Mogensen adds, “I do not think that a slaughter method as such has anything to do with faith. Second is, of course, that all chickens in Denmark are halal slaughtered, and it has to my knowledge not caused anyone to stop eating chicken.”

Mogensen also says the hospital is not trying to “push the Islamic faith down the throats of non-Muslim patients”

In a press release, Hvidovre Hospital states, “We introduced halal meat both for practical and economic reasons. It would be both more difficult and more expensive to have to make both a halal version and a non-halal version of the dishes. Then we have two production lines. It requires more people, more equipment and more money.”

The hospital advises non-Muslims to take it or leave it: “We always have alternatives to halal meat such as pork, fish or vegetarian dishes. It is a question of attitude.”

According to the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, there is no comprehensive inventory of the number of hospitals in Denmark have halal meat on the menu. But officials at the University Hospital in Aarhus, the second-largest urban area in Denmark after Copenhagen, say the decision by Hvidovre Hospital to serve only halal is an example of political correctness run amok.

In an interview with the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Ole Hoffmann, the head chef of Aarhus University Hospital says: “We have never had a patient ask for halal meat, and therefore it is an issue that we have never discussed. I think it is a strange decision. If there was a desire to serve halal meat, then we would of course consider it, but we would never completely eliminate non-halal meat.”

Hoffmann also disputes the idea that it is difficult to offer two different kinds of beef. “I do not know why it should be more difficult. After all, our job is to serve patients.”

In a separate but related story, Ekstra Bladet reported that at least 30 nurseries, preschools and daycare centers in Denmark have banned the Danish national dish — pan-fried meatballs known as frikadeller — because they include pork and are offensive to Muslim children.

Ishøj Municipality — a town on the island of Zealand in eastern Denmark where most of the population is of African, Arab, Pakistani or Turkish origin — has introduced, to accommodate Muslim children, a blanket policy of not serving pork, including frikadeller, sausages or liver pâté, at any of its daycares or nurseries.

The newspaper also reports that in parts of Copenhagen, the dietary ban has gone beyond pork and some schools are now serving only halal meat because the schools’ leadership say they do not want to offend Muslims.

In Nørrebro, for example, a district in Copenhagen where up to 40% of the children are Muslim, schools have banned not only pork but are serving only halal meat.

According to Danish Sociologist Jon Fuglsang of the Metropolitan University College, banning pork is the wrong way to go. “Pork is an important part of Danish food culture that brings much national pride,” he says. “It must be possible to serve differentiated menus for children. We should not banish certain foods in order to show respect. It is not the right way to do it. Children must learn how to think about these issues,” he adds.

Danish nutrition expert Professor Arne Astrup sums it up this way: “It’s a question of food culture, the banning of traditional Danish food just because it includes pork. I would find it difficult to understand if my child suddenly could not get healthy Danish dishes like pâté and sausage made from pork, just because there are some Muslim children in the same institution.”

According to the Danish People’s Party (DF), which is pushing for limiting immigration and promoting cultural assimilation of admitted immigrants, the government should intervene in the halal dispute by passing a law that would prohibit public institutions from discriminating against Danish culture.

In an interview with Jyllands-Posten, DF party spokesman Martin Henriksen says, “It is disconcerting that our public institutions are educating Danish children to give exaggerated deference to Muslims. Those practices are illegal because they unceremoniously discriminate against those who value Danish food culture.”

Henriksen adds, “The next thing one would imagine could be that Danish nurses are forced to go under cover as Muslim women, in order to please Muslim patients.”

The center-right Conservative Party agrees. According to party spokesman Tom Behnke, “The limit is where we as Danes are forced to live in a completely different way than we have done until now. I will not accept this. It is fine to take into account that some people have religious beliefs. But ordering me and my children to follow it, I am opposed to that.”

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a Social Democrat who has relaxed restrictions on immigrants and asylum seekers, has sought to defuse the politically inconvenient halal imbroglio by trying to find a middle ground. She says that Danes should be accommodating to all faiths and cultures, while maintaining their own values and traditions and keeping meatballs in hospitals and kindergartens.

In an interview with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, Thorning-Schmidt said butchers and slaughterhouses should add labels to their packaging to indicate whether or not meat has been slaughtered under halal practices. “I think it is natural that consumers want to know if they are eating halal meat or not. I urge all companies to clearly indicate it on their packaging,” she says.

Thorning-Schmidt also says that kindergartens and hospitals should continue to serve pork roasts and meatballs: “They are part of the Danish culinary tradition. We need to remember that in our zeal to welcome new citizens we do not to lose sight of our own culture. We have to stick with the way we eat and what we do in Denmark. There should be room for frikadeller.”

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Irish Travellers (Gypsies) Accused of Fighting and Disturbances in Poland

Hotels warned to avoid tourists, according to news site

Dozens of Irish people have been involved in disturbances at tourist accommodation in a resort town in northern Poland, according to a local news website. quotes a worker from one luxury hotel who said more than 100 Travellers had caused disruption after booking in for a party. They had requested a party bus, Hummer people-carriers and hundreds of balloons.

The staff member said the hotel sent out a warning to other hotels after the guests spent the night drinking heavily and banging on other guests’ rooms as well as throwing items out of the windows.

The news site also said the behaviour of about 35 Travellers in a local campsite had been “scandalous”.

A campsite manager told the website she had good previous experience with Irish tourists. The campsite was happy to receive more visitors from Ireland but the latest group quickly became “very burdensome” for the other holidaymakers.

However, when contacted by The Irish Times yesterday, the manager said the guests, who had stayed “four or five days”, were not as bad as the earlier reports had suggested.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Make Foreign Workers Pay Road Tax, Says MP

People living in the Netherlands but driving foreign registered cars must be made to pay Dutch road tax, the Christian Democrats said on Tuesday. Christian Democrat MP Pieter Omtzigt has been pursuing the non-payment of road tax for some time, and has now written to junior finance minister Frans Weekers in the hope the matter can be settled before the end of the summer. The law states that anyone moving to the Netherlands can drive their foreign registered car for two weeks. After that time, it must carry a Dutch registration. However, enforcement is lax and Omtzigt wants Weekers to come up with a plan. A lot of road tax According to the MP, some 350,000 foreign workers live in the country but only 31% of them has a Dutch registered car. ‘That is a lot of road tax the government is not receiving,’ he told the Telegraaf. Weekers earlier said he is irritated by people who use the roads but do not pay the tax, and said he would come up with a way of tackling the problem before the summer.

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

Poland: ‘Green Energy’s Collapse’


The proportion of Poland’s energy that comes from renewable sources has fallen since 2012 while people who invested in the industry, many of whom took out huge loans, “are in trouble,” writes Rzeczpospolita.

The reason for this fall is the slump in the carbon credit trading market, which during the last year has seen a 40 per cent fall in prices in these green certificates given to firms investing in renewable energy and which can be traded with other energy companies as part of the CO2 reduction scheme.

According to the Energy Regulatory Office (URE), Poland’s system for promoting renewable energy is expensive and does not work as it has not led to a “permanent increase” in the proportion of electricty coming from renewable sources, and may mean the nation misses the EU goal of having 15 per cent of the country’s energy needs produced by renewable sources by 2020.

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

Spain: Santiago de Compostela Disaster: Crash of the High Speed Miracle

29 July 2013El País Madrid

After China, Spain holds the record for the largest quantity of high-speed railway lines. This has been an ambition bordering on an obsession for the governments of both left and right for 20 years. Today, it is the economic model that is in question.

Ramón Muñoz

Spain can boast two world records in the economic sphere: its youth unemployment rate — currently at 56.4 per cent — and its network of high-speed railway lines, which total some 3,100km. Only China has more extensive high-speed rail infrastructure, although one must bear in mind that China’s landmass is 20 times larger and its population of 1.3 billion is 27 times greater than Spain’s. In kilometres of AVE per inhabitant, though, no country in the world even approaches the Spanish density of track.

Since the first line was inaugurated between Madrid-Seville in April 1992, the decision of the Felipe Gonzalez government to go for high-speed rail has created a powerful industry around itself that has a turnover of nearly €5bn a year and exports 60 per cent of its production. In fact, in 2012, in full recession, the Spanish railway industry ranked second in export growth.

The AVE has become the best ambassador of the much vaunted Marca España. The recent success of the so-called “AVE for pilgrims”, from Medina to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the largest contract ever awarded to a Spanish consortium (€6.7bn), has been the definitive boost to that image of the other Spain that, beyond the crisis, wants to export to the world.

Government and business have gone abroad hand in hand to sell this genuinely Spanish technological seal of qualityGovernment and business have gone abroad hand in hand to sell this genuinely Spanish technological seal of quality with an eye on the international high-speed macro projects that are being drawn up in Brazil, the United States, Turkey and Kazakhstan. The Alvia accident in Santiago de Compostela station, however, may strike a blow to that image, although neither the line nor the train can be considered strictly as high-speed.

Reputational damage

Perhaps that worry is what has led so many companies to keep so absolutely quiet about the disaster. Not even those affected have said a word to defend their products. Talgo, the manufacturer of the crashed train, and the temporary joint venture of companies (Thales, Dimetronic-Siemens, Cobra and Antalis) that installed the signaling and safety system on the Ourense-Santiago axis, have opted for silence, citing the judicial investigation that is underway….

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

UK: Shocking Moment Girl Kicks Elderly Asian Man, 80, To the Ground Causing His Turban to Fall Off Before Spitting in His Face (Video)

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

It is an English summer evening and an elderly [Sikh] man quietly makes his way along a city centre street.

Until he is confronted by a girl who attacks him, pushing the 80-year-old to the ground.

The unidentified thug spat in his face and left him sprawled on the pavement.

The sickening and unprovoked attack was captured on video by a passer-by using a mobile phone camera and shared on Facebook.

Police are treating the attack as serious malicious wounding, punishable with up to five years in prison.

The footage shows the girl knocking the Asian man to the ground in Coventry city centre last Saturday at 8.30pm. She was flanked by three men as she continued hurling abuse and spitting on the man.

The only person to help, by picking up the victim’s turban, approached as the thugs walked away.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Was Princess Diana Murdered by a British Soldier? Metropolitan Police ‘Assessing Credibility’ Of New Claim

New information which has been passed to the police relating to the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed is thought to include an allegation that they were murdered by a member of the British military, it emerged tonight.

Scotland Yard said it is ‘scoping’ the information and ‘assessing its relevance and credibility’.

It is understood the allegation was made by the former parents-in-law of a former soldier based on information that the ex-soldier talked about in the past, according to a military source.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dozens of Churches and Schools Burnt in Egypt

(AGI) Vatican City, August 17 — At least 30 Coptic, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches have been burned down in Egypt over the past few days. Houses, schools, monasteries and shops run by Christians have also been targeted, from Suez to Minya and from Sohag to Assiut. Referring to the recent violence in Egypt, and the concerns of both the Christians’ and the general population, the Bishop of Giza, Monsignor Antonious Aziz Mina, said that the population were united “except the Muslim Brotherhood, who showed their worst aspect in the year they governed”.

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

Egypt PM Proposes Outlawing Brotherhood

The Egyptian prime minister has proposed legally dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood following days of deadly clashes violence, as supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi — a member of the Muslim Brotherhood — planned fresh protests.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Hundreds of Islamists Barricaded in Mosque. More Attacks on Churches and Christian Buildings

The Army is negotiating with the protesters to clear the building. Yesterday, more than 1,000 Islamists were arrested. Blood bank torched; protesters shot at firemen. Christian organizations draw up a list of churches attacked yesterday. Hamas and Iran defend Muslim Brotherhood.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Hundreds of Islamists have barricaded themselves in the Ghamal Al-Fatah mosque since last night (see photo), after bloody clashes with the army following the “Day of Rath” launched by the Muslim Brotherhood to demand the return of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. Meanwhile, representatives of the Christian Churches are drawing up a list of new attacks on Christian buildings that took place yesterday at the hands of Morsi supporters.

The Al-Fatah mosque is located near Ramses Square, the meeting point of the Islamists for the demonstrations yesterday, who wanted to challenge the state of emergency and a curfew imposed by the army, after the bloodbath of three days ago in which over 600 people were killed.

The current situation is one of confusion. Some sources say that the soldiers entered the mosque to negotiate its evacuation with protesters. Many of them asked not to be arrested and to be protected from possible snipers outside the building. Other sources say that more than 700 protesters want to remain barricaded in the mosque, surrounded by armored vehicles and soldiers in riot gear. Some state media say that shots were fired from inside the building.

According to official sources yesterday at least 1,000 demonstrators were arrested, more than 500 in Cairo alone. Demonstrations also took place in other parts of the country. The updated death toll now stands at around 100 people, half of them in the provinces.

Witnesses report that not all of the protesters were helpless civilians. Some were fully armed with automatic weapons. The army clashed with them when they tried to attack and set fire to government buildings and police stations. One of the buildings that was destroyed in the clashes was the Cairo blood bank, near Ramses Square, which houses millions of blood donations. The Islamists penetrated the building setting fire to it while employees trapped inside tried to save themselves. The pro-Morsi protesters even greeted firemen who rushed to the scene with gunfire.

As in recent days, pro-Morsi Islamists yesterday launched fresh attacks on churches and Christian buildings. Unconfirmed reports speak of more than 50 buildings affected, but a more objective verification by Christian organizations now confirms the sacking of five churches, in addition to the 39 buildings burned in recent days.

The Egyptian population seems to be increasingly siding with the army and especially against the Muslim Brotherhood who they are describing as “terrorists” given the violence and radical Islamic nature of their projects. But within the National Liberation Front, a set of groups that led to the fall of Morsi, some are critical of the army’s use of violence. Yesterday Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for the Front, resigned, on the14th Vice-President Mohamed El-Baradei also resigned because he did not want to be associated with a “bloodbath which could have been avoided.”

Yesterday pro-Morsi demonstrators received the support of fundamentalist groups close to Hamas in Jerusalem and Hebron. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran also spoke in favor of the Islamists. The army’s heavy use of violence has also been criticized by Muslim groups in Indonesia and Malaysia. However, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Libya and Syria’s support for the Egyptian government remains strong.

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

Egypt: The List of Christian Churches, Schools, Institutions, Shops Torched by the Muslim Brotherhood in the Last Three Days

The following list of 58 looted and burned buildings (including convents and schools) has been verified by representatives of the Christian Churches.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — At least 58 Christian churches, schools, institutions, homes and shops have been attacked, looted and torched over the last three days by the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Mohamed Morsi, the former Egyptian president who was deposed on 3 July . On August 14 the army has tried to evict the sit-in of the Islamists in Rabaa El Nahda Square and Adaweya. In a wave of devastating violence, over 600 people were killed and thousands injured. But violent attacks were also carried out on Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical churches as well as the homes and shops of Christians, as we have documented

The representatives of the Christian Churches have drawn up a list which we publish below. The list was handed over to AsiaNews by the Press Office of the Catholic Church in Egypt.

Catholic churches and convents

1.   Franciscan church and school (road 23) — burned (Suez)
2.   Monastery of the Holy Shepherd and hospital — burned (Suez)
3.   Church of the Good Shepherd, Monastery of the Good Shepherd — burned in molotov attack (Asuit)
4.   Coptic Catholic Church of St. George — burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
5.   Church of the Jesuits — burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
6.   Fatima Basilica — attacked — Heliopolis
7.   Coptic Catholic Church of St. Mark — burned (Minya — Upper Egypt)
8.   Franciscan convent (Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) — burned (Beni Suef, Upper Egypt)
9.   Church of St. Teresa — burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
10.   Franciscan Church and School — burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
11.   Convent of St Joseph and school — burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
12.   Coptic Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart — torched (Minya, Upper Egypt)
13.   Convent of the Sisters of Saint Mary — attacked (Cairo)
14.   School of the Holy Shepherd — attacked (Minya, Upper Egypt)

Orthodox and Evangelical Churches

1.   Anglican Church of St. Saviour — burned (Suez)
2.   Evangelical Church of St Michael — surrounded and sacked (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
3.   Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George — Burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
4.   Church of Al-Esla — burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
5.   Adventist Church — burned, the pastor and his wife abducted (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
6.   Church of the Apostles — burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
7.   Church of the Holy renewal — burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
8.   Diocesan Centre Coptic Orthodox Qusiya — burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
9.   Church of St. George — burned (Arish, North Egypt)
10.   Church of St. George in al-Wasta — burned (Beni Suef, Upper Egypt)
11.   Church of the Virgin Mary — attacked (Maadi, Cairo)
12.   Church of the Virgin Mary — attacked (Mostorod, Cairo)
13.   Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George — attacked (Helwan, Cairo)
14.   Church of ​​St. Mary of El Naziah — burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
15.   Church of Santa Damiana — sacked and burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
16.   Church of St. Theodore — burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
17.   Evangelical Church of al-Zorby — Sacked and destroyed (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
18.   Church of St. Joseph — burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
19.   Franciscan School — burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
20.   Coptic Orthodox Diocesan Center of St. Paul — burned (Gharbiya, Delta)
21.   Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Anthony — burned (Giza)
22.   Coptic Church of St. George — burned (Atfeeh, Giza)
23.   Church of the Virgin Mary and father Abraham — burned (Delga, Deir Mawas, Minya, Upper Egypt)
24.   Church of St. Mina Abu Hilal Kebly — burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
25.   Baptist Church in Beni Mazar — burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
26.   Church of Amir Tawadros — burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
27.   Evangelical Church — burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
28.   Church of Anba Moussa al-Aswad- burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
29.   Church of the Apostles — burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
30.   Church of St Mary — arson attempt (Qena, Upper Egypt)
31.   Coptic Church of St. George — burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
32.   Church of Santa Damiana — Attacked and burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
33.   Church of the Virgin Mary — burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
34.   Church of St. Mark and community center — burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
35.   Church of Anba Abram — destroyed and burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)

Christian institutions

1.   House of Fr. Angelos (pastor of the church of the Virgin Mary and Father Abraham) — burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
2.   Properties and shops of Christians — Burnt (Arish, North Egypt)
3.   17 Christian homes attacked and looted (Minya, Upper Egypt)
4.   Christian homes — Attach (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
5.   Offices of the Evangelical Foundation — burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
6.   Stores, pharmacies, hotels owned by Christians — attacked and looted (Luxor, Upper Egypt)
7.   Library of the Bible Society — burned (Cairo)
8.   Bible Society — burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
9.   Bible Society- burned (Asuit, North Egypt).

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

Egypt Championing Coptic Christians While Obama Plays Nero

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham should take lessons in courage from Egyptian defense minister Col. Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who has vowed to rebuild Coptic Churches destroyed by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Not only is the courageous El-Sisi vowing to rebuild Muslim Brotherhood-destroyed Coptic Churches, but his order aims to have them rebuilt ASAP, according to the Mid-East Christian News.

“The Egyptian defense minister ordered the engineering department of the armed forces to swiftly repair all the affected churches, in recognition of the historical and national role played by our Coptic brothers,” read a statement that aired on Egyptian television.

“The Egyptian defense minister has ordered the repair and reconstruction of all churches that suffered damage in the country’s violent demonstrations since the Egyptian military removed President Mohamed Morsi from power last month.

“Defense minister Col. Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi intends to fix the damage to Coptic churches at Rabaa Adaweya and Nahda squares and says the Muslim Brotherhood should pay the cost to rebuild them.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Egyptian Youth Leader Backs Army in Battle With Brotherhood

Mahmoud Badr, the activist whose petition campaign helped to bring down Egypt’s Islamist president, says the bloodshed that has followed is a high but acceptable price for saving the nation from the Muslim Brotherhood.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Islamists Hit Christian Churches

CAIRO (AP) — After torching a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three nuns on the streets like “prisoners of war” before a Muslim woman offered them refuge. Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob.

In the four days since security forces cleared two sit-in camps by supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority. The campaign of intimidation appears to be a warning to Christians outside Cairo to stand down from political activism.

Christians have long suffered from discrimination and violence in Muslim majority Egypt, where they make up 10 percent of the population of 90 million. Attacks increased after the Islamists rose to power in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power, emboldening extremists. But Christians have come further under fire since President Mohammed Morsi was ousted on July 3, sparking a wave of Islamist anger led by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Nearly 40 churches have been looted and torched, while 23 others have been attacked and heavily damaged since Wednesday, when chaos erupted after Egypt’s military-backed interim administration moved in to clear two camps packed with protesters calling for Morsi’s reinstatement, killing scores of protesters and sparking deadly clashes nationwide.

One of the world’s oldest Christian communities has generally kept a low-profile, but has become more politically active since Mubarak was ousted and Christians sought to ensure fair treatment in the aftermath.

Many Morsi supporters say Christians played a disproportionately large role in the days of mass rallies, with millions demanding that he step down ahead of the coup.

Despite the violence, Egypt’s Coptic Christian church renewed its commitment to the new political order Friday, saying in a statement that it stood by the army and the police in their fight against “the armed violent groups and black terrorism.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

The Right Moment for Israel’s Danny Danon?

(Daniel Pipes) “Lunacy.” That’s how Danny Danon describes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to hand over 104 killers to the Palestinian Authority as a “goodwill gesture.”

He’s hardly alone, as many observers (including myself) are outraged by this move. But Danon, 42, has a unique place in this debate because he (1) sits in Israel’s parliament as a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, he (2) is chairman of Likud’s powerful Central Committee, and he (3) serves as Israel’s deputy minister of Defense. In American terms, his criticism resembles Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s 2010 interview mocking Vice President Joe Biden. But McChrystal was gone within days whereas Danon continues to gain influence and stature.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Thousands Rally for Morsi in Israel

On Temple Mount, posters of Hitler and chants against Sisi, asking — “Are you Jewish or what?”


Thousands of Arab supporters of the Islamic Movement in Israel demonstrated on Saturday in support of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, an AFP correspondent said.

Around 4,000 people led by preacher Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, took part in the protest in the northern city of Nazareth, the correspondent said.


Signs carried by the protesters said: “Sisi is a hypocrite, a traitor, who works for the Jews.” Another poster showed photos of Hitler and Sisi side by side, in an apparent attempt to make a comparison that favored Hitler. The caption under Hitler’s photo was: “I killed the Jews for my people, my flock.” The caption under Sisi’s likeness said: “I murdered my people, my flock, for the Jews.”

           — Hat tip: MC [Return to headlines]

Iran: Three Christian Converts Arrested in Northwest

Tehran, 14 August (AkI) — Three converts to Christianity were arrested in Tabriz in northwest Iran, the Christian Mohabbatnews website reported.

Iranian intelligence agents arrested Farshid Modarres Avval, Mohammad Reza Piri and Yashar Farzin at their homes, beat one of the men and seized personal belongings and papers, the website reported.

The arrests were made in July but only made public on Wednesday, Mohabbatnews said.

The three men allegedly attended undground churches in Tabriz and organised prayer meetings, the website said.

The minority Christian faith has been growing in popularity in Iran and over 350 converts have been arrested over the past three years, accused of proselytising.

A young Christian convert, Mostafa Bordbar, was last month sentenced to 10 years in prison for “endangering national security” and “religious propaganda”.

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

Syrian Rebels Receive Heavy Weapons From Sudan

The weapons are made in China and include anti-aircraft missile batteries. Khartoum denies any involvement in the Syrian conflict. Divisions between rebel factions and Iranian interests render all diplomatic effort towards a cease-fire null and void.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Small arms, anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft defense systems are just some of the weapons being sent to Syrian rebels by the Sudanese government. According to a recently published analysis, most of the weapons are made in China. To circumvent the embargo the Khartoum government sends the container to Qatar, who channels it to the militias with the complicity of the Turkish government.

The main funders of the material are: Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. When asked about the case, the Sudanese officials repeatedly denied any involvement in the Syrian civil war. Sid Imad Ahmad Hassam spokesman for President Omar al-Bashir, said that “Sudan has never sent weapons to Syria.” Sawarmi Khalid Al-Saad, a spokesman for the Sudanese Armed Forces, added: “We have no interest in supporting groups in Syria, especially if the outcome of the fighting is not clear. These allegations are meant to harm our relations with countries Sudan has good relations with”.

The continued sale of arms to the Syrian rebels and the Assad army — which is pitting leading Arab states, Turkey and now the United States for the rebels and Russia and Iran for Assad — makes any return to diplomatic approach to stop the civil war increasingly uncertain, a war which so far has cost the lives of over 100 thousand people in two years.

Despite its open military support to the Assad government, Moscow is pushing for a peace conference in Syria. In recent days, Gennady Gatilov, deputy Russian foreign minister, said that talks between the various parties are expected by the end of August, in preparation for the Geneva 2 conference, which aims to bring the leaders of the rebellion and members of the Assad government to the same table. According to the diplomat, the meeting will be held most likely in October.

The Arab League and the United States remain skeptical. Iran, the Assad family’s greatest supporter should also participate at the conference. Added to the Iranian problem, are increasing divisions within the over 60 rebel factions, comprised at least 50% by foreign Islamist militants. They are fighting against the rebels secular wing, with an aim to building an Islamic state in Syria and not a republic. For this reason they have no interest in putting an end to the bloodshed.

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

What to Think About Egypt and Syria

by Hugh Fitzgerald

If you are perplexed, don’t be.

In Syria, you want the Alawites to hold on. To hold on, in the first place, to their stores of chemical weapons. And to hold on to Damascus, Aleppo, possibly Homs, and the Alawite areas around Latakia — that at a minimum. But you don’t want it to be easy. You want Iran to spend more billions every month, and Hezbollah to lose more and more of its men in Syria (and, from Sunni revenge attacks, in Lebanon too).

In Egypt, if you are an Infidel outside of Egypt, you should forget about that word “democracy” — so irrelevant, so inapposite — and wish that the police and the army can prevail, using as much violence as they need to, against the Muslim Brotherhood. The army and police, and the civilians backing them to the hilt (that is, all of advanced Egypt, and most of un-advanced Egypt as well) know that at this point if the Ikhwan were not to be kept permanently down and out, then the lesss-fanatical Muslims, and the Christians, would lose — their institutions, their property, their lives, their everything. In societies suffused with Islam, once violence has begun, the only two outcomes that the Islamic narrative itself provides iare those of Victor and Vanquished. They can’t explain this to Westerners, they can’t talk freely about the effect of Islam. Some of them don’t even correctly analyze their own situation. But they were hoping, and are amazing to see that they were wrong, that the outside non-Muslim world would understand.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

India: Karnataka: Hindu Nationalists Persecute Tribals to Regain Power, Says Christian Leader

According to the president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), after its defeat at the elections, “the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is desperate.” In Arsikere (Hassan District), a Pentecostal clergyman is the victim of false allegations of forced conversions.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — “The Hindu ultra-nationalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are desperate and are trying to bring to their side the tribal people of Karnataka, persecuting them by any means,” said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). He blames the main right-wing Hindu party of fuelling tensions and supporting attacks against minorities in the state despite its defeat in the last local elections.

The latest incident occurred on 25 July, and involved a Christian tribal community in Arsikere (Hassan district). At 10:30 am, some members of the BJP, led by a man named Byresh, broke into Rev Raju’s Pentecostal church when he was conducting a prayer service with 40 members.

The attackers started screaming, accusing the religious leader of practicing forced conversions. When they saw that the Christian were preparing lunch, Byresh and his men threw mud at food.

Eventually, they went to a nearby police station, to file a complaint against the clergyman for converting Hindus to Christianity in exchange for money. Soon after, Rev Raju filed a counter complaint against the attackers, who remain at large.

“This,” Sajan George told AsiaNews, “is not an isolated incident. For some time, there have been cases of persecution and attacks during prayer services. In Arsikere, part of the population is tribal. Most people are poor and landless. It is important to note that most local Tribals are not Hindu.”

The local tribal communities have suffered such attacks before. The most serious one took place in October 2012 when Hindu ultra-nationalists tried to force some Christians to pay taxes to the local Hindu temple. Faced with the latter’s refusal, the extremists beat up five people, sending them to the hospital.

“Now that the Congress (a secular and democratic party) is in government,” the GCIC president said. “Our hope is that these extremists will be brought to justice and that Karnataka will be able again to celebrate religious freedom.”

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

Mumbai Terrorist Arrested by Police in India

(AGI) New Delhi, Aug 17 — Police in India have arrested the much-wanted terrorist Abdul Karim Tunda for his part in the 1993 Mumbai attacks — in which 250 people were killed — and for his part in the 2008 attacks. Tunda, who is 70, is just one of 20 high-profile terrorists sought by the Indian police. A member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group, he has been implicated in at least 40 terrorist attacks. India had asked Pakistan to extradite him after the 2001 attacks on Parliament.

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

Solar Power: Very Generous Deal for Beijing

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Libération

On July 27, the European Commission reached an “amicable solution” with Beijing on imports of Chinese solar panels. The two parties agreed on a minimum price, which, according to diplomatic sources, will come to 56 eurocents per watt generated.

According to European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, the object of the deal is to do away with dumping prices, which damage European manufacturers, and ensure a steady supply of solar panels for the EU market. The clash between the EU and China over solar panels was threatening to turn into a trade war.

Over in Germany, the country most vehemently opposed to anti-dumping tariffs, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung argues that this agreement has “the merit of ending the dispute between Brussels and Beijing”, albeit without resolving the lingering issues between China and Europe —

The fact is that the compromise puts an end to the uncertainty that has been looming over the whole solar industry. It’s also a fact, however, that the prices that have now been fixed have nothing to do with the market economy. But that’s how it is with compromises and half-baked solutions: the profiteers suffer and the suffering profit.

For the French daily Libération, on the other hand, “Europe is walking straight into the Chinese panel-trap” —

So there will still be dumping [since 56 eurocents would be close to the current prices charged by Chinese suppliers], even if the Chinese have already done worse, selling their modules at 38 eurocents a watt. Especially if this price is to be applied to the first 7 gigawatts of imported panels […]. 7 GW is half of Europe’s consumption, which came to 15 GW in 2012! […] So if it were to be approved on these terms, the deal would be very generous to Beijing.

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

U.S. Opens Bribery Inquiry of JPMorgan Hiring in China

Federal authorities have opened a bribery investigation into whether JPMorgan Chase hired the children of powerful Chinese officials to help the bank win lucrative business in the booming nation, according to a confidential United States government document.

In one instance, the bank hired the son of a former Chinese banking regulator who is now the chairman of the China Everbright Group, a state-controlled financial conglomerate, according to the document, which was reviewed by The New York Times, as well as public records. After the chairman’s son came on board, JPMorgan secured multiple coveted assignments from the Chinese conglomerate, including advising a subsidiary of the company on a stock offering, records show.

[Return to headlines]

South Africa Gang Violence Shuts Cape Town Schools

A surge in gang violence has prompted education officials in South Africa’s Western Cape Province to close 16 schools for two days.

At least 50 people are reported to have been wounded or killed after being shot in areas of Cape Town’s Manenberg suburb in recent weeks.

Provincial Premier Helen Zille has asked the national government to send in the army to help overwhelmed police.

A caretaker at one of the schools died after being shot a number of weeks ago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Newly Discovered Olinguito is ‘Mix of House Cat and a Teddy Bear’

For the first time in 35 years, scientists have found a new carnivorous mammal in the Americas — and it’s sort of cute and cuddly looking, too.

The olinguito (oh-lin-GHEE-toe), which Smithsonian scientists describe as a “mix of house cat and a teddy bear,” isn’t really either of the two, but instead part of the family Procyonidae, which includes raccoons, olingos, and other small animals with long tails. The Smithsonian team published the discovery in the August 15 edition of the scientific journal ZooKeys.

A native of the high-elevation forests in Colombia and Ecuador, the orange-brown furred olinguito commonly weighs around two pounds, measures 14 inches long, moves among trees at nighttime, and noshes on fruit.

“The cloud forests of the Andes are a world unto themselves, filled with many species found nowhere else, many of them threatened or endangered,” said Kristofer Helgen, a curator at the National Museum of Natural History and the leader of the team involved with the discovery, in a press release. “We hope that the olinguito can serve as an ambassador species for the cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia, to bring the world’s attention to these critical habitats.”

The olinguito is officially known as the Bassaricyon neblina, with neblina being the Spanish word for “fog.”

[Note: A carnivore. The Greenies can feed them body parts of the unenlightened. Or try to make vegans out of them.]

[Return to headlines]

Austria: ‘Immigration Difficult to Control’

Die Presse

According to an OECD report, which explores “myths about migration flows,” countries face great difficulties in choosing immigrants. At a time when governments everywhere are hoping to attract the best migrants, who are highly qualified and able to compensate for local labour shortages, “countries are only able to select a tiny proportion of their migrants,” explains Die Presse. For example, in Austria, the daily explains —

This problem is not solely confined to Austria, adds Die Presse, because “even very selective states, like Australia and Canada, only succeed in choosing a quarter of the migrants coming to work in their countries.”

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

Barge Carrying 253 Migrants Arrives in Sicily

(AGI) Rome, Aug 17 — A barge carrying 253 migrants has arrived at Portopalo di Capo Passero, near Syracuse. The vessel was escorted by two Coastguard motor boats after being intercepted in Italian waters. All the passengers, including 199 men, 46 women — two of whom are pregnant — and eight children — including a newborn baby, appeared to be in good health. Nearly all of them are of Eritrean origin. The Coastguard came to the aid of another 290 people off the coast of Sicily in a separate operation on Friday night.

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

Sweden: Hundreds March for Asylum Seekers’ Rights

Around 70 people gathered in Skärholmen, a south Stockholm suburb, Friday for the final leg of the Asylum March, a month-long campaign for asylum seekers’ rights.

Some have walked the full 734 kilometres from Malmö in the south. Others have joined for a day or two. As many as 300 people walked the first stretch between Malmö and Lund.

Leandro Schclarek Molinari, one of the coordinators, tells Radio Sweden that asylum seekers are not here “because of tourism”.

“Many have been living as undocumented migrants all their lives. That’s inhumane. Every person has rights, not only citizens,” says Schclarek Molinari.

Abbos Ahmadi is one of the asylum seekers taking part in the march. He left Afghanistan six years ago.

“We have problems in our home countries and that’s why we come here. We want to tell everyone that we are trying to have a normal life, to live like everybody else here in Sweden and in Europe. No one chooses to leave their country just to come over here and hide for several years,” says Ahmadi.

The protesters taking part in the Asylum March are calling for a more humane migration policy and they are against the Dublin System, which says that the EU country that an asylum seeker first arrives in is also responsible for dealing with their asylum application. Unauthorised entrants to the EU are also required to submit their fingerprints to a Europe-wide database.

The Dublin System has come under fire from migrants’ rights group who say it impedes the civil rights and personal welfare of asylum seekers. “The Dublin System is inhumane. People come here because they have escaped from something and when they are sent around to different countries, they can never feel free or settled,” says Helena Vesterlund.

There is a core group of around 30 people who have walked the entire Asylum March route between Malmö and Stockholm, covering around 20 kilometres per day.

There are undocumented migrants from around the world here, and Swedish-born people, too. Participants say that the atmosphere over the past month has been uplifting, with strangers cheering the marchers on and offering them food and drink.

Schclarek Molinari says that when he and his friends return to Malmö, they will continue their grass roots campaigns for asylum seekers’ rights.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

World Future 2013

Over the course of two and a half days, starting July 19, some 900 futurists are expected to gather at the Chicago Hilton for the World Future Society’s 2013 convention. With a view toward the 22nd century, visionaries will explore humanity’s “next horizon.” More than sixty sessions, workshops, and special events will feature future studies, as well as reports of progress toward achieving a coveted, one-world order. Eager attendees will enjoy a series of compelling presentations aimed at modeling and, then, forecasting (toward implementing) preferred scenarios deemed suitable for turn of the next century.

All bases will be covered — geopolitical, socio-economic, and religious. Former Danish ambassador and adjunct professor Joergen Oerstroem Moeller will flesh out an appropriate geopolitical model — one that manages “big data,” transcends economic obsession with the social justice model, and pulls anchor out from under the presumed-to-be defunct nation-states paradigm.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]