Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/24/2013

As Iran’s negotiating team returned to Tehran from the “P5+1” nuclear talks in Geneva, cheering crowds greeted them at the airport. The Obama administration is also pleased with the deal, but the interim agreement has been criticized by the governments of Canada, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.

In other news, an Australian family has set a new world record by stringing half a million Christmas lights on and around their home.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Jerry Gordon, JP, 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
» EU Says Italy’s Asset Sale Okay But Won’t Replace Reforms
» Italy: Budget Law Could Include Tax Hike on Gas, Diesel
» Italy: Letta Says EU Must Quell Austerity ‘Ayatollahs’
» Italy: RAI Can’t be Privatized Before 2016, Says Deputy Economy Min
» Drones, Tanks, And Grenade Launchers: Coming Soon to a Police Department Near You
» Family From Hell: Father Found Guilty of Starving Daughter, 16, Down to 68lbs ‘While Stepmother Beat Her and Brother Sexually Assaulted Her During Six Years She Was Imprisoned in the Basement’
» Is Barack Mentally Malnourished? A Reasonable Explanation for Obama’s Mind
» Long Island Store Owners Cheated Customer Out of $1 Million Lottery Ticket, Police Say
» Lying Liberal Liars — Media and Obama’s Big Health Care Lie
» Map Shows the NSA’s Massive Worldwide Malware Operations
» Media Ignore JFK’s Anti-Communism
» New Snowden Leaks Expose the NSA’s Play for More Power
» Senators, Must be Impeached Now Before Obama is Crowned Emperor With Supreme Power and Dictatorship
» Since When Are Your Phone Calls Private, Goverment Lawyer Asks
» Tea Party Anarchists and Other Patriots
» The Fraudulent Marketplace Fairness Act
» The Plan to BORG Humanity
» The Quest for a Single Monetary System Sees Coin Combining All Cards Into One
» Why Obama Thought He Could Get Away With ObamaCare
» With Magnetic Nanoparticles, Scientists Remotely Control Neurons and Animal Behavior
» GMO Food Lecturers Warn of Dangers
Europe and the EU
» Attorney General Forced to Apologise After Saying Corruption is ‘Endemic’ In Britain’s Pakistani Community
» British Doctors Admit Saturated Fats Are Vital for Good Health, Help Naturally Lower Cholesterol Without Drugs
» Italy: Berlusconi Says Magistrates Judge According to Ideology
» Italy: Berlusconi Says It’s a Coup D’etat to Take His Senate Seat
» Italy: Berlusconi’s Legal Woes Look Set to Grow
» Italy: La Russa Denies Taking 451,000-Euros From Fonsai When Min
» Italy: Volume of Tax Laws Hampers Fraud Fight, Says Official
» Leonardo Da Vinci’s Wacky Piano is Heard for the First Time, After 500 Years
» Saccomanni Says Italy Won’t Change 2014 Budget
» Sicily’s Islamic Heritage Highlighted
» Spain: ‘High Court Sparks Diplomatic Row With China’
» Spain: Islamic Radicals Infiltrate the Military
» The Largest Discovered Structure in the Universe Contradicts Big-Bang Theory Cosmology (Weekend Feature)
» UK: ‘I Am Not a Rapist as I Have a Growth on My Penis and it Hurts to Have Sex’, Accused Man Tells Jury
» UK: After the NHS’s Monstrous Cruelty, The Saviours Who Gave My Wife a Good Death
» UK: Did the Yorkshire Ripper Kill Seventeen More Women?
» UK: Disabled Grandmother Kicked, Beaten and Urinated on by Teenage Thugs as She Walked Home Alone
» UK: It’s Time to Find Out Who Protected the Infamous Paedophile Information Exchange
» UK: Peter Hitchens: Yippee, Crime’s Falling — If You Don’t Count One Almighty Fraud
» Up to 600 Afghan Interpreters to Get Council Homes After Serving With British Troops as Part of UK Asylum Deal
» Croatia Blocks Vukovar Proposed Ban on Cyrillic
North Africa
» Algeria: Army Intercepts, Kills 5 Islamic Militias at Border
» Egypt: Islamist Students Protest Across the Country Against Al-Azhar
» Tunisia: Army Carpet Bombs Mountains at Algeria Border
» Tunisia: Gannouchi Reaches Out to Jewish Community
Middle East
» Architect Behind Designs of ‘Vagina Stadium’ For 2022 World Cup is a Woman… and She Isn’t Very Happy About Critics’ Comparisons of Her Plans to Female Private Parts
» Canada “Deeply Skeptical” Of International Community’s Nuclear Deal With Iran
» Daniel Pipes: The Geneva Agreement With Iran: A Foreign Policy Disaster
» FIFA Head Says Germany, France Wanted Qatar for World Cup
» Football: EU Alarm Exaggerated, Premature, Qatar Tells EP
» ‘Gate to Hell’ Guardians Recovered in Turkey — Unique Marble Statues Warned of a Deadly Cave
» Hundreds of Cheering Supporters Gather at Tehran Airport to Welcome Iran Nuclear Negotiators
» Interim Iran Nuclear Deal Praised by Administration, Cautioned by Experts and Charged by Israel as “Historic Mistake”.
» Iran, Six World Powers Clinch Breakthrough Nuclear Deal
» Iranians Cheer Nuclear Negotiators at Airport
» John Baird ‘Deeply Skeptical’ of Iran’s Intentions in Nuclear Deal
» Man Dances With AK-47 at Wedding in Yemen, Three Dead
» Obama Calls Netanyahu After Israeli Leader Slams Iran Nuke Deal
» Pre-Vote Tensions as Turkey PM Feuds With Preacher
» Saudi Prince to Iran: We Won’t Sit Idly By
» Syria: Clashes Near Damascus Kill 72 People
» Turkish Artists Burn Works to Commemorate Alevi Massacre
» UN Chief Warmly Welcomes Interim Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program
South Asia
» India Successfully Test Fires Dhanush Missile
» Indonesian Ulema Want Mosques in Madura Island Hotels “To Fight Vice and Immorality”
» Nepal: Civil Society and Religions Against Kidnapping of Child Brides
» Pakistan: Her Dad Raped Her… Her Brother “Honor Killed” Her
Far East
» China! China! China!
» Insight: Kim Jong UN, North Korea’s Master Builder
» Philippines Typhoon Death Toll Tops 5,200
Australia — Pacific
» Australian Family Sets New World Record With Over Half a Million Christmas Lights
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Gunmen Kill 13 People in Village in Northeastern Nigeria
» Nigeria: Gunmen Kill 12, Set Houses Ablaze
» Mark Zuckerberg: Immigration Reform One of the ‘Biggest Civil Rights Issues of Our Time’
» Rep. Gutierrez: ‘My Republican Friends’ Tell Me They’ll Try to Pass Full Immigration Bill in Parts
Culture Wars
» Former Archbishop of Canterbury Warns Christianity at Risk of Dying Out in a Generation
» Sixth Graders Polled on Gay Marriage, Abortion and Gun Control
» UK: ‘You Are a Woman, You Can’t Sit Here’: UK Universities Condones Gender Segregation
» Daniel Pipes: Anti-Islam Trumps Islam in the West
» Developing Countries Want to Force Rich Countries to Bail Them Out if They’re Hit by Natural Disasters

EU Says Italy’s Asset Sale Okay But Won’t Replace Reforms

Letta government expects to use half of 12 billion euro on debts

(ANSA) — Brussels, November 22 — The Italian government’s plan to sell as much as 12 billion euros worth of investments will raise some quick cash but it does not replace the importance of serious structural reforms, a spokesman for a senior European commissioner said Friday.

Imon O’Connor, spokesman for European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, spoke one day after Premier Enrico Letta announced his government’s plan to sell part of its holdings in eight companies, including oil and gas giant Eni.

Letta said the proceeds from the sales would be divided between debt repayment and investments in economic growth.

The cash will be useful but is a one-time windfall that can’t replace structural reforms aimed at longer-term economic improvements, said O’Connor. The new income “has a positive impact on the very high public debt of Italy…( and that) can have a positive impact on the Italian economy,” said O’Connor.

The government is hoping that money freed after a thorough spending review now ongoing, coupled with the proceeds from the asset sale, will help to boost growth in an economy that it says is only now emerging from its deepest recession in 20 years.

As its debt has risen above 130% of gross domestic product (GDP), Italy has also struggled to keep its deficit below the EU’s maximum allowable ratio of 3% of GDP.

Rehn has said that as the Italian government shows serious efforts to deal with its debt and deficit, it may be allowed to use a clause in the EU’s rules that allows for greater flexibility in its budget for investments.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Budget Law Could Include Tax Hike on Gas, Diesel

Would add extra revenues of 419 mn euros

(ANSA) — Rome, November 22 — Italy’s budget law may be amended to introduce an increase in the excise tax applied on gasoline and diesel fuels from January 2017 through the end of 2018 so as to generate additional public revenues of 419 million euros. The plan is included in an amendment proposal that is about to be submitted to the Senate, according to parliament sources.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Letta Says EU Must Quell Austerity ‘Ayatollahs’

Premier see Italy at risk until 10-year bond rate under 3%

(By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) — Rome, November 22 — Italian Premier Enrico Letta said Friday that the European Union had to resist never-ending demands for fiscal consolidation from pro-austerity “ayatollahs”. “On the European front, for some ayatollahs of rigour, this is never enough,” Letta said. “But Europe will end up dying of too much rigour, our companies will end up dying”. Letta has been pushing for the union to focus more on promoting growth and job creation, after EU-mandated austerity in many countries hit by the eurozone debt crisis caused a great deal of economic pain.

In Italy, for example, unemployment has reached record levels of over 12%, with over four in 10 under-25s jobless, after moves to put the country’s financial house in order deepened its longest recession in over two decades.

Later on Friday the premier is set to visit Berlin, where he will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the champion of Europe’s drive for fiscal consolidation. Letta said Italy will use its duty presidency of the European Union in the second half of next year to ensure that the EU moves to a period of promoting growth and fighting unemployment. Rome will have more credibility in this bid thanks to its efforts to get its finances straight, added Letta. “We have to put the season of financial rigour behind us, but the season of growth has to be based on having the accounts in order,” said Letta, who took power at the helm of a left-right coalition government in April to end two months of political deadlock after February’s inconclusive general election. “For the first time after many years, both our debt and deficit will be in decline next year,” added the premier, whose government is planning to raise 10-12 billion euros in privatizations and push through a round of spending cuts to reduce debt and finance growth-stoking measures.

“We’d all like to have more money (to invest in the budget), but that would mean breaking the (EU) deficit rules”.

Letta said that Italy will remain vulnerable to financial turbulence while the interest rate on its 10-year bond is above 3%. Italy risked enduring a Greek-style financial meltdown in 2011, when the rate on the 10-year-bond peaked at over 7%, with the spread between it and the German benchmark above 500 points.

Austerity polices introduced by the emergency technocrat government of Letta’s predecessor, Mario Monti, reassured investors and steered Italy out of the crisis. The interest rate on 10-year bonds is currently a little over 4%, while the spread is over 230 points, but Letta says this is not good enough. “We will continue to experience vulnerability until we have a rate on the 10-year bond that is at least as low as 3%, until that is a reference point for the system,” Letta told the assembly of Italian cooperative banks, Federcasse. Letta also said the EU needed to bolster the European Investment Bank (EIB) as the efforts of the European Central Bank (ECB) to promote growth were insufficient on their own.

“There is the risk of making a fatal mistake,” Letta said. “That would be to give all the weight to a single instrument, the ECB, even though this made it possible to calm the crisis under the leadership of an authoritative Italian, Mario Draghi. “The ECB cannot promote development. It’s necessary to reinforce the EIB”.

The European Commission, meanwhile, said Friday that the Italian government’s plan to sell as much as 12 billion euros’ worth of investments will raise some quick cash but it does not replace the importance of serious structural reforms.

The cash will be useful but is a one-time windfall that can’t replace structural reforms aimed at longer-term economic improvements, said Imon O’Connor, spokesman for European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: RAI Can’t be Privatized Before 2016, Says Deputy Economy Min

‘We would sell worthless asset’ argues Catricala’

(ANSA) — Rome, November 22 — Italy’s State broadcaster RAI will not be privatized before 2016, Deputy Economy Minister Antonio Catricala’ told Radio 24 on Friday.

“We would be selling a worthless asset,” said Catricala’.

RAI operates under a license set to expire in 2016.

Catricala’ said he previously spoke about RAI’s privatization when the concession was far from its expiration date.

Members of Italy’s fractious left-right government including Premier Enrico Letta have not ruled out the possibility of privatizing RAI, which is partly financed by a mandatory annual TV license fee.

On Thursday, Letta announced the government would raise up to 12 billion euros from the sale of state-owned stakes in several companies including oil and gas giant Eni. RAI was not included in the privatization plan.

Half the proceeds from the sale, which should net between 10 billion euros and 12 billion euros, will be used to fund economic stimulus measures.

The other half will be applied to reducing Italy’s debt, Letta said on Thursday, adding that the privatization package was only the first with more sales likely in the future.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Drones, Tanks, And Grenade Launchers: Coming Soon to a Police Department Near You

Why does a police department which hasn’t had an officer killed in the line of duty in over 125 years in a town of less than 20,000 people need tactical military vests like those used by soldiers in Afghanistan? For that matter, why does a police department in a city of 35,000 people need a military-grade helicopter? And what possible use could police at Ohio State University have for acquiring a heavily-armored vehicle intended to withstand IED blasts? Why are police departments across the country acquiring heavy-duty military equipment and weaponry? […] It’s a Trojan Horse, of course, one that is sold to communities as a benefit, all the while the real purpose is to keep the defense industry churning out profits, bring police departments in line with the military, and establish a standing army.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Family From Hell: Father Found Guilty of Starving Daughter, 16, Down to 68lbs ‘While Stepmother Beat Her and Brother Sexually Assaulted Her During Six Years She Was Imprisoned in the Basement’

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

A Wisconsin man who locked his daughter in the basement and starved her down to only 68 pounds is headed to prison.

Chad Chritten, 42, kept his daughter locked in the basement for six years while her stepmother beat her and her stepbrother sexually assaulted her until she escaped in February 2012 and was rescued by a good Samaritan.

Mr Chritten was found guilty Friday of three felonies — second-degree reckless endangerment, child abuse and causing mental harm to a child, according to reports. He was found not guilty of false imprisonment.

The trio was arrested after the girl told investigators the sordid details of the torture she suffered at the hands of those she loved.

She was locked in the basement and denied food despite pleading to be fed.

Her stepmother Melinda Drabek-Chritten often beat her and even threatened to throw her down a flight of stairs.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Is Barack Mentally Malnourished? A Reasonable Explanation for Obama’s Mind

In fact, a weird, recent phenomenon emerges from the perpetual miasma, confusion and drama composing the life and times of Barack Obama. Many strain at the question — What drives the man? In office he has appeared arrogant and self-satisfied to a degree remarkable even for a US president. Further, he has so often seemed ignorant or obtuse to his surroundings, and of the topics presented to him.

Seemingly he is satisfied by the roar of the crowd as if this were the same thing as excellence. Obama is both the most disdainful of opinion of others, and yet the most dependent upon sheer popularity to prop up his image.

Would it really be so strange if an individual of high office, yet low achievement were driven by small ideas and an incipient laziness — which were somehow obscured by his position? In fact, it seems Barack has an allergy to deep thinking, the work of deep study, and in-depth analysis. This would help explain his apparent ignorance regarding the failed ObamaCare website, and virtually all of his other failures. According to this theory, it is not the times being too difficult which tripped up Barack, but his being too small in confronting the tasks which resulted in his overwhelming failure as commander in chief. Consider the following argument…

It is certain that Barack must be feeling heat from his Democrat party elected officials. But there is no reason to believe that the failure of ObamaCare is a disaster, unless it weakens the power of the party. On the alternative, every American disaster helps establish the socialist state which Obama obviously craves. For instance, Barack knows that all the Americans whom he just promised could keep their healthcare another year cannot keep their old plans, because ObamaCare needs these new subscribers to stay solvent. Therefore, Obama wins coming and going. Chaos and destruction are established, people are taught that only instability can be expected, and that big government saves the insignificant citizen. The main thing is Barack believes no one can resist his illiterate genius because his father Marx paved the way to government as god 150 years ago.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Long Island Store Owners Cheated Customer Out of $1 Million Lottery Ticket, Police Say

NEW YORK — A Long Island convenience store owner and his son, accused of duping a customer who spoke limited English out of a $1 million winning lottery ticket, were charged on Saturday with grand larceny.

The 34-year-old Hispanic man bought a $10 “Unwrap The Cash” scratch-off game at the Peninsula Deli & Grocery in Hempstead, New York, on Thursday and after playing the game, believed he was a winner, Nassau County Police said. He handed the card to store clerk Karim Jaghab, 26, the son of deli owner Nabil Jaghab, 57, police said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Lying Liberal Liars — Media and Obama’s Big Health Care Lie

Obama wasn’t the first politician to lie. He won’t be the last. But most politicians who lie don’t have an army of reporters swarming around them to explain that they didn’t lie, but just inflated their misspeaking. One man did not get up in front of the microphones and cameras and lie over and over again. The entire liberal establishment lied. And it’s still lying.

The media’s lies and excuses, even more than the original Obama lie, reveal why liberals can never be trusted.

If Obama had only lied about being on crack or with an intern, that might be an impeachable act, but an understandable human failing. But he wasn’t lying to cover up something shameful that he did. He lied because he didn’t think Americans deserved to keep their health plans… or the truth.

Obama lied because he is a liberal.

Lying isn’t incidental to a liberal. Liberal is another word for liar. Someone who believes, as Obama and his media cronies do, that Americans are too stupid and ignorant to be trusted to choose their own health care, isn’t about to trust them with the truth.

Telling someone the truth shows that we respect them as people. We give them the information and then trust that they will make the right decision. Trust and respect are the key words here.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Map Shows the NSA’s Massive Worldwide Malware Operations

A new map details how many companies across the world have been infected by malware by the National Security Agency’s team of hackers, and where the companies are located.

Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reports the NSA uses malware to infect, infiltrate and steal information from over 50,000 computer networks around the globe. This new, previously unreported scope of the NSA’s hacking operation comes from another PowerPoint slide showing a detailed map of every infection leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Media Ignore JFK’s Anti-Communism

Our media remembered President Kennedy, but not what he stood for in global affairs and what made him a communist target.

On Friday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings unveiled a monument inscribed with the last words of a speech that Kennedy never got to deliver to businessmen at the Dallas Trade Mart. The words included: “We in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom.”

The speech was anti-communist and pro-freedom to its core. It would not be delivered by any liberal Democrat in this day and age.

Kennedy’s prepared remarks said, “I realize that this Nation often tends to identify turning-points in world affairs with the major addresses which preceded them. But it was not the Monroe Doctrine that kept all Europe away from this hemisphere — it was the strength of the British fleet and the width of the Atlantic Ocean. It was not General Marshall’s speech at Harvard which kept communism out of Western Europe — it was the strength and stability made possible by our military and economic assistance.”

Our media did not remind the American people that Kennedy was an anti-communist determined to stop communism’s advance around the world by making the U.S. into the strongest military power on earth. This was the main subject of the speech Kennedy never gave.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

New Snowden Leaks Expose the NSA’s Play for More Power

If what they say is true and knowledge is power, the National Security Agency is the strongest government organization in the world — by far. But its trove of data on American citizens, possibly constituting yottabytes of files in a $2 billion, 100,000-square-foot data center, wasn’t enough.

Recently leaked documents from Edward Snowden, revealed in the New York Times, show the NSA had a plan to rapidly expand its authority. The leaked papers, dated February 2012, detail the NSA’s four-year plan to update and increase its methods for gathering intelligence by intercepting foreign and domestic communications.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Senators, Must be Impeached Now Before Obama is Crowned Emperor With Supreme Power and Dictatorship

“Until Thursday, confirmations to judicial positions required the assent of 60 Senators to bring them to the floor for a vote. With the Democrats holding 55 seats — five short of a “super-majority”, this check and balance stopped the appointment of ultra-radical judges and inhibited Obama’s efforts to stack the courts with like-minded judges, just as it had stopped Bush and every president before him.

“But by a simple majority vote, Reid has changed the rules so that a simple majority is enough to confirm any judge other than a Supreme Court nominee. (One suspects that the minute a vacancy on the high court occurs, the 60 vote requirement will be stripped from the rules governing the replacement’s confirmation as well).”

So you see, now that the nefarious and highly impeachable Obama and probably even Reid, have arranged to include the “nuclear option” of total dismissal of all that is good and proper for the most successful and fair system of laws, leaving the system subject to only unfair, devious and destructive procedures that result in chaos and confusion, Obama is free to call his shots and his cadence to whatever ghoulish mayhem he chooses.

Beware America for rulings prompted by the terrorists of Islam, the ‘free-to-murder’ at their leisure any who disagree with them under their without-any-hope, Shariah Law, combined with Martial Law, an American version of Nazi-Gestapo under-the-sword guillotine justice.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Since When Are Your Phone Calls Private, Goverment Lawyer Asks

Since Americans expect their phone companies to keep records of their calls, they have no basis to challenge the National Security Agency’s mass collection of that data, a lawyer for the government argued Friday.

Americans have “no reasonable expectation” to privacy when it comes to the telephone calls they make, Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery said at a packed hearing in federal court.

“People assume that phone companies are recording phone numbers and how long the call lasted,” he said. “We know that because all of us get the bills with those details.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Tea Party Anarchists and Other Patriots

Looking back on the recent government shut-down I was amazed by the open and extremely venomous attacks, often by the leadership of both political parties, on any citizen who spoke out in opposition to the manner in which the Federal Government is conducting its/our affairs. To make it convenient for them to attack us, apparently all those citizens who live outside the Beltway in “fly over country,” once called “The America Heartland,” are now just lumped together under the label, “Tea Party People.”

“The American people will not be extorted by Tea Party anarchists,” Harry Reid- US Senate Majority Leader. These words from the man who, along with President Obama, is primarily responsible for shutting down the government, holding us hostage, and doing everything in his power to make the average American feel the pain- for his own political gain.

Apparently, from now on, any time you hear the words “Tea Party” or “Patriot,” you are supposed to simply replace those words in your mind with “anarchists” and think of them as anti- government hate groups-that way you can completely disregard what they have to say and go back to sleep and not worry about the future of your children or the country they will live in…

Why such venomous language from Harry Reid now? Understand, the battle over Obamacare is much more than just about healthcare; it is about the dreams of Socialist America. The bill is over two thousand pages long and it contains a major portion of the blueprint to overthrow our Republic and our way of life. Built into Obamacare is the framework for the Socialist restructuring of our government and our economy. It is intended to destroy the system that has given us the wealthiest, healthiest, best educated and freest people in the history of the world. But if you object to that, according to the governing elites who act as if they are above the laws they create, you are the anarchists.

But having Obamacare in place is only half of the socialist agenda to radically transform America. Common Core Education is the other half.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Fraudulent Marketplace Fairness Act

The Internet is currently our best example of the free market at work. Since the government has not been able to capture the Internet under its thumb, the Net illustrates how well the market really functions when the government stays out of the way.

But have no fear. Control freak politicians never rest, and a few of the more dedicated ones are working relentlessly to slap chains on the world’s most unfettered market. Of course, no exercise in the destruction of free markets would be complete without a rhetorical flourish of socialism’s ostensible raison d’etre: fairness. Yes, something must be done to stop the free flow of information and commerce that is the Internet because it’s not FAIR.

The Marketplace Fairness Act is being pushed by three US senators, Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, and Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican. What is the injustice that the Marketplace Fairness Act addresses? Under current US law, states are prohibited from forcing Internet retailers who have no physical presence within their borders to collect sales tax on Internet transactions. This policy gives Internet retailers an advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar retailers who must tack, in some cases, up to 10% onto transactions due to sales tax.

While it is obvious that on-line retailers do have a tax advantage in this particular area, politicians sure have a perverted sense of “fairness.” After all, taxes are a creation of the government. Not all states impose sales taxes and sales tax rates vary among the states and sometimes even on different items within a particular state. So this has nothing to do with the market, but everything to do with government interventions in the market.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Plan to BORG Humanity

Fans of the television series Star Trek will equate such biological tinkering described in the previous entry with The Borg (“Cyborg”): the greatest villains ever introduced to television audiences. The biological and technological terrors made their debut on May 8, 1989, in the “Q, Who?” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

At one point during The Next Generation series, Captain Jean-Luc Picard was captured again and assimilated by the Borg. He became known as Locutus of Borg and promised to “raise the quality of life for all species.” This would be accomplished by forced integration into the Collective.

Lately, real-time technology companies have illustrated how life in the not-too-distant future may imitate the filmmaker’s art. Applied Digital Solutions (ADS) and other tech firms have international agreements to distribute Borg-like technology in the form of miniature digital transceivers designed for human implantation. Research teams funded by the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and a barrage of privately funded laboratories are also developing smart tattoos, ingestible implants, and external neural readers that will make it possible for people to communicate through computers using their bodies as authenticators combined with the power of thought. Tests have recently illustrated this as a viable concept and, in August of 2013, University of Washington researchers even performed the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, in which one researcher was able to control the hand of another test subject by sending a brain signal via the Internet to the second researcher. This emergent technology could ultimately facilitate a wide array of complicated tasks assigned by the New Collective.

If this all sounds a bit Orwellian — it is.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Quest for a Single Monetary System Sees Coin Combining All Cards Into One

The Internet has been buzzing about Coin, a credit card replacement announced last Thursday. Currently taking pre-orders, and planning to launch Summer 2014, Coin is a credit card-sized device which is capable of storing and behaving as pretty much any card with a magnetic strip: credit cards, gift cards, membership cards, etc. Coin allows you to select which card you want to use, and when you or a merchant swipe your credit card, the information for the appropriate card can be read from Coin. Replacing every card in your wallet with a single, card-sized device is exciting to think about, but obviously a product like this raises a lot of questions.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why Obama Thought He Could Get Away With ObamaCare

  • $6 trillion in new national debt under Obama…after he promised to decrease the deficit.
  • Obamacare — A massive and incredibly convoluted bill which exponentially increases the federal government’s control over our personal lives…which neither Obama nor a single Democrat even read before passing, and which will likely bankrupt the nation.
  • In both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, the Obama campaign purposely disabled the credit card verification system for its Web site donations, allowing anyone from any foreign country to donate with no limit and no proof of identity; in both elections it was demonstrated that people overseas and people with obviously false identities were able to donate to Obama campaign, in direct violation of several laws. To this day it is not known what percentage of Obama’s campaign funds are illegally obtained, since there is no documentation.
  • Billions of taxpayer dollars gambled on “green” companies like Solyndra, NextEra, Ener1, Solar Trust and many others — all of which went bankrupt.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

With Magnetic Nanoparticles, Scientists Remotely Control Neurons and Animal Behavior

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Clusters of heated, magnetic nanoparticles targeted to cell membranes can remotely control ion channels, neurons and even animal behavior, according to a paper published by University at Buffalo physicists in Nature Nanotechnology.

The research could have broad application, potentially resulting in innovative cancer treatments that remotely manipulate selected proteins or cells in specific tissues, or improved diabetes therapies that remotely stimulate pancreatic cells to release insulin.

The work also could be applied to the development of new therapies for some neurological disorders, which result from insufficient neuro-stimulation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

GMO Food Lecturers Warn of Dangers

Dangerous herbicide used on many GMO crops ads to the danger of the foods

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) — Genetically modified foods are a contentious topic, now an international lecturer says the gene modification is only part of the problem.

“The genetic engineering technology itself is not safe,” says Dr. Thierry Vrain, who is currently promoting his new book on the subject.

But while GMO foods are often in the news, Vrain says there is an equal concern that is far less public.

“All the genetically engineered crops are sprayed with a very toxic herbicide which has been believed to be completely non-toxic but that’s not real.”

Vrain says most people don’t know the herbicide is so commonly used.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Attorney General Forced to Apologise After Saying Corruption is ‘Endemic’ In Britain’s Pakistani Community

The country’s most senior law officer has apologised after comments he made about corruption in Britain’s Pakistani community.

However, Mr Grieve has now apologised for the remarks, which were branded ‘offensive’ by a senior Tory MEP.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

British Doctors Admit Saturated Fats Are Vital for Good Health, Help Naturally Lower Cholesterol Without Drugs

(NaturalNews) Following the lead of Sweden, which recently denounced the conventional low-fat, high-carbohydrate “healthy” diet myth, a cohort of prominent British doctors and professors has come out to declare that saturated fats, which have been demonized for decades, are actually healthy. As reported by the U.K.’s Daily Express, British cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra says that millions of people are now needlessly suffering from cardiovascular disease and obesity as a direct result of bad advice that told them to avoid eating fats.

Dr. Malhotra, an interventional cardiology specialist registrar at Croydon University Hospital in London, has conducted extensive research on the subject of fat intake and discovered that we have all basically been lied to. The oft recommended low-fat diet is actually a primary driver of both obesity and heart disease, he says, noting that the elimination of saturated and other healthy fats from the diets of millions of people worldwide has left them with more cardiovascular abnormalities, the opposite of what governments have long claimed.


Though obviously ineffective at curbing obesity and heart disease, low-fat diets have continued to generate huge profits for the pharmaceutical industry, which now rakes in some $26 billion annually from the sale of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. But Dr. Malhotra says statins are both harmful and ineffective, and that eating a diet high in saturated fat is actually three times more effective than statins at naturally lowering and balancing cholesterol levels.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Says Magistrates Judge According to Ideology

(AGI) Rome, Nov 23 — Silvio Berlusconi spoke to young members of the right-wing Forza Italia party on Saturday, attacking the left-wing politicisation of the Italian judicial system. “The left has taken all the power, in journalism, in schools, in universities, and in the judiciary all the way up to the magistrates’ internal board of supervisors. All the other magistrates are part of Magistratura Democratica [an association of magistrates, ed.]. In today’s judiciary, decisions are no longer based on the case itself, but on political ideology or a tit for tat among magistrates”, he stated.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Says It’s a Coup D’etat to Take His Senate Seat

(AGI) Rome, Nov 23 — Silvio Berlusconi, speaking to youths of the newly reborn Forza Italia party, commented on the possible loss of his Senate seat: “On Wednesday, Nov. 27, the Senate will vote to oust me, after 20 years of unfruitful attempts to get rid of me. This is called a coup d’etat”. Berlusconi defined the Mediaset trial ruling as “incredible, totally groundless and exploited to perpetrate the political murdering of the centre-right leader. What’s going on is a political murder, the truth and the law have been crushed”.

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

Italy: Berlusconi’s Legal Woes Look Set to Grow

Bid quashed to delay expulsion vote, perjury probes await

(By Christopher Livesay) (ANSA) — Rome, November 22 — Three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi’s legal woes seem destined to thicken Friday, after an effort to delay a vote on ejecting him from parliament was quashed and prosecutors readied a probe into perjury allegations in the trial that found him guilty of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his office to cover it up. Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso rejected a last-ditch appeal from his supporters to postpone next week’s vote on stripping the media mogul of his Senate seat. The vote on the Senate floor is scheduled Wednesday following his conviction for tax fraud this summer, his first ever binding sentence in nearly two decades of legal entanglements.

Berlusconi, who appears likely to lose the vote, has been fighting hard to keep his seat. Supporters had argued that a Senate panel, which earlier this month organized next week’s vote, has lost credibility because one member of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) had posted his thoughts on the process on social media during proceedings. That, said Berlusconi supporters, threw the entire Senate vote into question and they demanded a delay. But Grasso ruled against their argument, saying that the vote will proceed as scheduled on November 27. “There can be no recognized grounds for adjourning the meeting,” Grasso wrote in a formal response to Berlusconi’s supporters. Sandro Bondi, a Senator from Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia, called Grasso “partisan”, a title that has leftist connotations in Italy linked to the partisan resistance to Fascism during World War II. Media tycoon Berlusconi, 77, was sentenced to four years for fraud on film rights at his Mediaset empire but three years were lopped off because of an amnesty. He is set to serve the remaining year doing community service but has vowed to stay at the helm of the center right, leading a resuscitated version of his first party, Forza Italia, which was relaunched over the weekend as pro-government doves left Berlusconi’s ranks to form the New Center Right (NCD).

Berlusconi has said that he fears being at the mercy of Italian prosecutors if he is ejected from parliament and loses his immunity from arrest. Berlusconi says the tax-fraud sentence is the result of a campaign by left-wing magistrates to persecute him for political reasons.

He has been indicted on charges of bribing a Senator to switch political sides, and is also appealing a one-year sentence for involvement in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap, and a seven-year sentence for sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of power to cover it up. Regarding the latter case, Milan prosecutors are already preparing to open a probe into alleged false testimony throughout the investigation and proceedings. On Thursday the court accused Berlusconi of paying witnesses in the written judgement of its June verdict.

But before they explore those accusations in an open probe, prosecutors are awaiting the written judgements to be issued next month in a related case against those accused of procuring prostitutes for the ex-premier’s ‘bunga bunga’ sex parties at his villa in Arcore, outside Milan. Among those expected to be probed are numerous young women who attended those parties as well as Maria Rosaria Rossi, a Senator from Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia party, and Berlusconi himself.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: La Russa Denies Taking 451,000-Euros From Fonsai When Min

Ex-defence minister rebuts La Repubblica

(ANSA) — Milan, November 22 — Conservative MP Ignazio La Russa on Friday denied receiving 451,000 euros in legal bills from troubled insurance company Fonsai in 2009 and 2010 when he was a defence minister in Silvio Berlusconi’s government, as reported by Rome daily La Repubblica.

The newspaper on Friday said La Russa, an attorney, had been paid the money as legal bills in cases related to accidents and for “other services”, citing documents which are part of a major fraud investigation in Milan involving the group.

“I never took on any case either from Fondiaria-SAI (Fonsai) or from other clients (when serving as minister),” La Russa said on Friday.

He said the bills concerned cases before his period as defence minister from 2008 until 2011.

La Russa is a former member of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party who founded a new center-right movement called Fratelli d’Italia last year.

He has a legal practice in Milan and is not reportedly under investigation.

The bills emerged from a document of insurance authority Isvap.

The family of former insurance magnate Salvatore Ligresti and company officers are accused of corruption in the probe into alleged accounting fraud and market manipulation at the troubled Italian insurance group.

A trial date has been set for December for Salvatore and Jonella Ligresti and other suspects, including Fonsai manager Emanuele Erbetta on charges of involvement in accounting irregularities that enabled Salvatore Ligresti, according to the indictment, to acquire illegal dividends of 200 million euros.

The Ligresti family are the former majority owners of the Fonsai and Milano Assicurazioni insurance companies.

La Russa’s brother Vincenzo also worked for Fonsai while his son Geronimo is an ex-manager at Ligresti’s holding company Premafin.

According to the document leaked by the newspaper, Vincenzo La Russa in 2009 and 2010 was paid legal bills worth 300,000 euros while Geronimo La Russa declared 211,000 euros in legal bills.

Overall, Vincenzo La Russa was paid over one million euros in 2011 and 2012 by Fonsai, mostly as legal fees and also as an advisor for the insurance company.

Premafin reportedly paid 1.1 million to Geronimo La Russa for his legal services at the family firm Studio Legale La Russa Services provided by La Russa’s legal firm to Ligresti’s companies had already been widely criticized and last year La Russa said his practice had started working for the insurance group four decades ago, long before it had become part of the Ligresti Group, adding the fees earned by his brother and son in 2011 were ‘licit’ and ‘modest’ when taxes had been deducted.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Volume of Tax Laws Hampers Fraud Fight, Says Official

Tax agency head says bureaucracy ‘overwhelmed’ by regulations

(ANSA) — Cuneo, November 22 — The sheer amount of tax rules in Italy makes it difficult to fight corruption and fraud, the director of the national tax agency said Friday.

Attilio Befera told a conference in Cuneo, 100 kilometers south of Turin, that public bureaucracy is so “overwhelmed” by responsibilities that it is already a struggle to deal with fraud.

That means, he added, that adding new anti-corruption rules on top of the current volume will make the fight even more difficult for overwhelmed tax officials.

“The public bureaucracy is likely to be overwhelmed by its duties…to the detriment of controlling spending and corruption itself,” he told a conference involving banking and tax officials.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Wacky Piano is Heard for the First Time, After 500 Years

A bizarre instrument combining a piano and cello has finally been played to an audience more than 500 years after it was dreamt up Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci, the Italian Renaissance genius who painted the Mona Lisa, invented the “viola organista” — which looks like a baby grand piano — but never built it, experts say.

The viola organista has now come to life, thanks to a Polish concert pianist with a flair for instrument-making and the patience and passion to interpret da Vinci’s plans. Full of steel strings and spinning wheels, Slawomir Zubrzycki’s creation is a musical and mechanical work of art.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Saccomanni Says Italy Won’t Change 2014 Budget

Less debt will free resources for economic growth, says minister

(ANSA) — Brussels, November 22 — Italy will not change its 2014 budget significantly and new measures it is taking to pay down debt will be good for the country and the economy, Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni said Friday.

As he headed into meetings of the European Commission council, Saccomanni said the success of budget measures, including spending review and debt reduction plans, prove that despite earlier EC criticisms, Italy’s budget is sound.

“The (budget) aw is not changed,” he said.

Italy remains determined to pay down debt to free up cash for use in meeting the government’s broader commitment to improving the country’s financial picture, Saccomanni added.

The government’s plan announced Thursday to sell assets worth as much as 12 billion euros fits in with the broader program of reducing debt to allow more resources to be used for economic growth measures, including tax cuts, Saccomanni said during meetings in Brussels.

Less debt means lower debt-serving expenses for the national Treasury, he added.

But the asset sale alone is not enough, and the government remains committed to significant structural improvements for the longer term benefit of the country, he added.

“We need to reduce the stock of debt and every (measure) is useful because once you reduce debt, you can have virtuous policies,” to strengthen the country’s fiscal and economic structure, said Saccomanni.

Italy’s accumulated debt stands at a whopping 130% of gross domestic product, or about two trillion euros.

Saccomanni brushed off criticisms last week by the EC which said the Italian government’s 2014 budget bill could contravene the European Union’s Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) by not doing enough to tackle its huge debt.

“What makes my job difficult is the debt, not the statements of (the EC),” said Saccomanni.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sicily’s Islamic Heritage Highlighted

Islam has left an indelible mark on Sicily’s culture, which has survived until the present day, an Italian academic said here Thursday. Francesca Corrao, a professor of Arabic culture and language at the LUISS University in Rome, said the island played an important role in transmitting knowledge from east to west.

LUISS stands for the Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli, or the Guido Carli Free International University for Social Studies.

Corrao made the comments in a lecture on board the Italian aircraft carrier, Cavour. The ship is part of the 30th Italian Naval Fleet, which is visiting Saudi Arabia as part of the 80th anniversary of Saudi-Italian diplomatic relations. “Discoveries show that this small island was important in the transmission of knowledge from east to west. We use many things of Islamic origin in our daily lives,” Corrao said.

She said it was important for people to learn about other cultures to promote understanding and cooperation. She said the influence of Muslims, including Arabs, can be seen in pottery and ceramics found at archeological sites. A bath owned by a Norman king shows that Islamic influence remained long after Muslims left the island. Corrao said Arabs and Sicilians share many common fishing terms. In addition, the Arabs introduced a system of watering to the islanders. “Before they arrived, we didn’t have gardens, oranges, lemons, bananas, or dates.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Spain: ‘High Court Sparks Diplomatic Row With China’

El País, 22 November 2013

The Spanish Audiencia Nacional court’s decision on November 19 to issue arrest warrants for former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, 87, and four other Chinese top officials, “over their alleged responsibility in the crime of genocide against the Tibetan people” has triggered “a sudden and unwelcome diplomatic row with precisely the country Madrid had set its sights on becoming a new Asiatic Eldorado for Spanish companies”, writes El País.

The high court based its decision on the principle of Spanish courts’ universal jurisdiction over crimes affecting all Spanish nationals, even those outside Spain.

China said it is “strongly displeased” at the news and has summoned the Spanish Ambassador to Beijing to meet with Chinese government officials.

The decision follows a lawsuit launched in 2006 by Tibetan human rights organisations and Sherpa Thubten Wangchen, a Spanish national, over Chinese government action in Tibet after the 1950 invasion.

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

Spain: Islamic Radicals Infiltrate the Military

by Soeren Kern

An investigation initiated by the American CIA and FBI in 2009 revealed that at least 100 Islamic extremists had infiltrated the U.S. military, and that some of these individuals had been in touch with Islamic radicals who had infiltrated military units in Spain, as well as Britain, France and Germany.

The military is an attractive employment option for many young Muslims born in Spain, where the unemployment rate is stuck at 27%, and the jobless rate for individuals under 25 exceeds 60%. Often, a stint in the military opens doors for civilian jobs with national or local police or other security-related occupations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Largest Discovered Structure in the Universe Contradicts Big-Bang Theory Cosmology (Weekend Feature)

“While it is difficult to fathom the scale of this “large quasar group” (LQG), we can say quite definitely it is the largest structure ever seen in the entire universe,” said Dr Clowes of University of Central Lancashire’sJeremiah Horrocks Institute. “This is hugely exciting — not least because it runs counter to our current understanding of the scale of the universe. Even traveling at the speed of light, it would take 4 billion years to cross. This is significant not just because of its size but also because it challenges the Cosmological Principle, which has been widely accepted since Einstein. Our team has been looking at similar cases which add further weight to this challenge and we will be continuing to investigate these fascinating phenomena.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: ‘I Am Not a Rapist as I Have a Growth on My Penis and it Hurts to Have Sex’, Accused Man Tells Jury

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

A man standing trial for raping and sexually assaulting women told the jury he has a growth on his penis and it hurts to have sex.

Harbinder Khatkar, 37, is accused of attacking seven women. six of the attacks are alleged to have happened in Derby on the same night in February this year.

The other alleged attack dates back to December 2011. December 2011.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: After the NHS’s Monstrous Cruelty, The Saviours Who Gave My Wife a Good Death

Launching the Mail’s Christmas Appeal, a story that will make you shake with rage — and then move you to tears

A year later, in 2010, they said she needed radiotherapy, and then more chemotherapy — this time, a stronger course.

By spring 2011, tests showed the cancer had spread down her spine, into her knees and shoulders.

The second course of chemotherapy was brutal and Judith became so weak she was admitted to hospital.

The memories of what followed still give me nightmares. I was working part-time as a finance manager and would arrive after work in the afternoon to find Judith distressed, lying flat on her back and unable to sit up.

She’d been begging for help to sit up for hours, but the nurses had not responded.

They’d put lunch in front of Judith, but she felt so nauseous she couldn’t eat a thing.

They’d then hold the food under her nose and demand: ‘Why didn’t you eat?’, and one nurse actually shouted at her: ‘That’s a bloody waste, isn’t it? We could have given that to someone who actually was hungry’. It reduced her to tears.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Did the Yorkshire Ripper Kill Seventeen More Women?

Retired policeman ‘strongly believes’ catalogue of unsolved murders have the hallmarks of Peter Sutcliffe

[Warning: disturbing content.]

Notorious serial killer Peter Sutcliffe could be responsible for as many as 17 more murders, a retried detective has claimed.

Chris Clark, formerly of Norfolk Police, has reviewed dozens of unsolved murders during the period Sutcliffe was at large, and claims to have found ‘circumstantial evidence’ linking him to the crimes.

He said the ‘frenzied nature’ of the killings, whose victims include housewives, prostitutes, a teacher and two pregnant women, leads him to believe Sutcliffe — also known as the Yorkshire Ripper — could be behind them.

Although the 13 murders Sutcliffe was convicted of all took place in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, Mr Clark believes his work as a lorry driver could have given him the opportunity to kill all around the country.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Disabled Grandmother Kicked, Beaten and Urinated on by Teenage Thugs as She Walked Home Alone

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

A teenage gang is being hunted by police after beating up a disabled grandmother and then urinating on her in the street.

Denise Bright, 58, who walks with the aid of a stick, was attacked as she walked home alone from her local shops in Norwich.

The grandmother-of-eight cowered on the ground as she was repeatedly kicked in the head, verbally abused and urinated on by the thugs.

She only managed to escape after running into the road and into the arms of a passing motorist.

Today, Mrs Bright said she was ‘too frightened’ to leave the house following the attack, which happened near the junction of Brightwell Road and Catton Grove Road.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: It’s Time to Find Out Who Protected the Infamous Paedophile Information Exchange

[Warning: Disturbing Content.]

Did previous Tory and Labour governments fund the infamous Paedophile Information Exchange?

That’s the remarkable claim made to me by a former Home Office insider this week.

PIE was established in 1974 to campaign for the age of consent to be lowered to four years old.

Many former members have been imprisoned for child abuse crimes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Peter Hitchens: Yippee, Crime’s Falling — If You Don’t Count One Almighty Fraud

Any reader of this column is usually several years ahead of the crowd. Here, we grasped from the start that the Blair creature was a menace; that the Iraq and Afghan wars were wrong; that joining the euro would be a terrible mistake; that the Tories are both useless and doomed.

We already know that the return of grammar schools — once derided, now increasingly demanded — is the key to education reform.

But perhaps above all we understand that all important Government statistics are fiddled, and that the crime figures are so violently massaged that they bear no relation to reality at all…

In short, crime has ‘fallen’ because we have now redefined millions of crimes as non-crimes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Up to 600 Afghan Interpreters to Get Council Homes After Serving With British Troops as Part of UK Asylum Deal

Up to 600 Afghans who have risked their lives to act as interpreters for British troops and officials are to be handed council homes when they move to Britain.

The Government has made a nationwide appeal to local authorities in a bid to find council homes for the men and their families as part of a £40million deal.

Interpreters who have regularly served on the front line will get visas for themselves and their ‘immediate dependents’ to come to Britain for a period of five years, along with free travel.

In Peterborough, Cambs, city council leader Marco Cereste said: ‘I think this is absolutely something the city should do.

‘These people have been in the front line taking bullets with our troops and if we don’t help them they and their families could be killed.’

The visas will be offered to around half of the 1,200 interpreters who are currently employed by the Armed Forces and the Foreign Office.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Croatia Blocks Vukovar Proposed Ban on Cyrillic

Central government and right-wing natonalists at loggerheads

(ANSAmed) — ZAGREB, NOVEMBER 22 — The Croatian public administration ministry has blocked an amendment to the Vukovar City Charter that would have exempted the city from applying a law protecting ethnic minority rights to bilingualism. The city in eastern Croatia suffered heavily during the 1990s conflict, and intended to put a de facto ban on the use of Serbian Cyrillic on signs on public buildings. The ministry considers the regulation — which was approved by the Vukovar City Council a month ago with only the votes of the centre-right — illegal, and has sent a request to the government and the constitutional court to assess the constitutionality of it. For months a group of associations of Croatian war vets linked with right-wing nationalist parties have been protesting against the use of Cyrillic in Vukovar. In September, when the first bilingual signs appeared, protests were held almost daily and dozens were destroyed or forcibly removed, sometimes resulting in clashes with the police. On Monday a campaign began to collect signatures to call a referendum that would require 50% (30% under current laws) of the population living in a city to be from the same minority to have the right to bilingualism. The centre-left majority in power at the national level announced a procedure on Thursday that would amend the constitution in the articles pertaining to referendums — which are at the moment very vague — to stop a referendum on the rights of Serbs living in Vukovar. The Croatian constitution does not currently place any limits on the holding of referendums, even if human and/or minority rights are involved.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Algeria: Army Intercepts, Kills 5 Islamic Militias at Border

Armed Tunisian, Libyan, Malian commando aboard two SUVs

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, NOVEMBER 22 — Algerian security forces ambushed and killed five Islamic terrorists as they tried to drive two SUVs laden with weapons and munitions across the border from Tunisia, Radio Mosaique cited security sources as saying Friday. The Islamic militias made their attempt on Tuesday during the Algeria-Burkina Faso world cup qualifier, when the entire nation was glued to their TVs. Documents found on board the SUVs identified them as Tunisian, Libyan, and Malian citizens. The Algerian military set up the ambush on an intelligence tip, sources said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Islamist Students Protest Across the Country Against Al-Azhar

Protests began yesterday at the Sunni university, escalating today after a student was killed. Young demonstrators again attacked Ahmed Al- Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, accusing him of being in league with the military. To prevent further occupations, police blocked the campus entrance and arrested 38 people, mostly aged between 14 and 17 years.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Protests by students affiliated with Islamist groups continue on university campuses across Egypt after a student was killed during a police raid at al-Azhar University.

Police have arrested 38 people, mostly teenagers, after groups of young supporters of President Mohamed Morsi began occupying Egypt’s largest Sunni univeristy three days ago.

Today, President Mansour Adly’s caretaker government issued orders allowing police to patrol the campus of al-Azhar in order to avoid further unrest.

The decision, taken without the approval of university administrators according to student leaders, has sparked a new wave of protests in other universities.

The latest violence began Thursday when dozens of students from various Cairo universities converged on al-Azhar armed with petrol bombs, rudimentary firearms and sticks.

They were joined by other Muslim Brotherhood supporters from the Cairo-based university, who chanted slogans against Ahmed al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar.

The insults against one of the foremost figures in Sunni Islam triggered a reaction from pro-caretaker government students.

In order to separate the two groups, police did not hesitate from using tear gas. But in the resulting chaos, a young student died, sparking more unrest in city’s other universities.

Yesterday, hundreds of Morsi supporters, but also members of the ‘Way of the Revolution Front’, a group that is opposed to both Islamists and the military, gathered in front of the Faculty of Engineering building of Ein Shams University, blocking the road that leads to Cairo International Airport.

Alexandria’s universities also saw protests, as dozens of students affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood marched through the city’s streets and stopped traffic on the road that runs along the waterfront.

On Tuesday two people were killed in front of the Arab League headquarters on Tahrir Square during a protest marking the second anniversary of the massacre of Mohammed Mahmoud Street (20 November 2011).

Yesterday, police charged seven teenagers aged 14 to 17 arrested during the clashes with murder, illegal weapons possession and vandalism.

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

Tunisia: Army Carpet Bombs Mountains at Algeria Border

All-out attack on Islamist extremist militia hideouts

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, NOVEMBER 22 — The Tunisian military last night started carpet bombing vast wooded tracts of the Chaambi and Sammama mountains along the Algerian border in an effort to destroy Islamic terrorist hideouts, Defense Ministry spokesman Tawfik Rahmouni made known on Friday.

The raids employed rockets and heavy artillery, he said.

The area has in past months seen fierce clashes between elite Tunisian forces and Islamist militias often ending in hand-to-hand combat.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Gannouchi Reaches Out to Jewish Community

‘You are an integral part of Tunisia’ says Ennahda leader

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, NOVEMBER 22 — Ennahda party founder and chairman Rachid al-Gannouchi has met with Tunisian Grand Rabbi Ham Bittan in what is a highly symbolic gesture at a time when Tunisian Jews are being targeted, threatened and intimidated by Islamic fundamentalists.

On his Facebook page, Gannouchi explained that he invited the rabbi to the meeting because he wanted to hear about the community’s concerns directly.

While Tunisian Jews have dwindled to just over 2,000 people in a country whose population is 98% Muslim, the community has been an integral part of the nation’s history for thousands of years. The most ancient synagogue in Africa is located in Djerba.

“The Jewish community is an integral part of the Tunisian people. The common denominator of all Tunisians is their love for the country that preserves their dignity. We share in nation-building together, thanks to our religious and intellectual diversity within the framework of unity, coexistence, and mutual acceptance”, Gannouchi wrote.

A profoundly religious man who has been aired for a possible nomination to lead the powerful and influential International Union of Muslim Scholars, Gannouchi has taken pains to stress that Tunisians are all equal, no matter their creed.

This unequivocal stand is meant to distance Ennahda, a moderate Sunni Muslim party, from the extremist Sunni Salafist fringes, which have openly attacked Tunisia’s Jews and engaged in terrorist acts.

It could also be a way for Gannouchi to take on the more radical elements within Ennahda: their increasing outspokenness could prove to be a political boomerang for his party, which has been losing ground in popular opinion polls.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Architect Behind Designs of ‘Vagina Stadium’ For 2022 World Cup is a Woman… and She Isn’t Very Happy About Critics’ Comparisons of Her Plans to Female Private Parts

The female architect behind designs for the new Al-Wakrah sports stadium has said critics who compared her plans to female genitalia are ‘really embarrassing.’

Zaha Hadid has hit back against claims her designs for the stadium, which will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, resemble a woman’s private parts insisting they were inspired by an ancient dhow boat.

Iraqi-born Hadid, who is considered one of the world’s best female architects, also suggested the plans would not have faced the same criticism if they were designed by a man.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Canada “Deeply Skeptical” Of International Community’s Nuclear Deal With Iran

Canada’s foreign minister says he’s “deeply skeptical” about the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran. Canada will keep its sanctions in place.

Foreign Minister John Baird said in Ottawa on Sunday that past actions predict future actions and “Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt. “

Canada’s Conservative government, a staunch ally of Israel, has banned nearly all exports to and imports from Iran over concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Canada also shut its embassy in Tehran in 2012 and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave Ottawa.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Daniel Pipes: The Geneva Agreement With Iran: A Foreign Policy Disaster

“For the first time in nearly a decade we have halted parts of Iran’s nuclear program” announced a jubilant Barack Obama after the news of the just-signed Geneva six-month interim agreement with Iran.

But the American goal for the accord was that the Iranians not “advance their program” of building a uranium nuclear bomb (and perhaps a plutonium bomb too); the apparent deal exactly permits such advancement, plus sanctions relief to Tehran worth about US$9 billion.

This wretched deal offers one occasion when comparison with Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938 is valid. An overeager Western government, blind to the evil cunning of the regime it so much wants to work with, appeases it with concessions that will come back to haunt it. Geneva and Nov. 24 will be remembered along with Munich and Sep. 29.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

FIFA Head Says Germany, France Wanted Qatar for World Cup

Extreme heat in Gulf state a concern for global soccer event

(ANSA) — Rome, November 22 — Critics of the controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to the Middle Eastern State of Qatar should blame France and Germany, the head of international soccer’s governing body FIFA said Friday.

Joseph Blatter said that these are leading European nations with business interests in Qatar and lobbied hard for it to be selected as the site of the World Cup with all its attendant infrastructure construction projects.

The choice has been very controversial, in part because Qatar’s extremely hot climate makes sporting events more difficult.

“The countries that have control in Europe, namely France and Germany, have lobbied so the World Cup was awarded to Qatar for their many economic interests,” said Blatter, who was in Rome for an audience at the Vatican with Pope Frances. “It is too easy to download all the responsibility onto FIFA,” for the Qatar choice, he added during a press conference.

FIFA is also aware of concerns raised by human rights watchdog Amnesty International about conditions for workers on sites related to the World Cup, he said. Amnesty has expressed concerns about what it called widespread exploitation of migrant workers employed on projects related to the soccer tournament.

Gay and lesbian groups have complained about the choice of a country where homosexuality is illegal. Amnesty has reported that more than 1.3 million foreigners are employed in the country and many working on the World Cup project are often forced to work as much as 12 hours a day, seven days a week, at temperatures exceeding 45 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, Blatter acknowledged that racism is a issue in soccer but said that reflects a more widespread problem beyond sport.

“Racism should not exist, it is a terrible thing, but it comes from our society,” said Blatter.

Soccer in Italy has been plagued with the problem of racism against black players.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Football: EU Alarm Exaggerated, Premature, Qatar Tells EP

After slave labor resolution;prevention a joint effort says FIFA

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, NOVEMBER 22 — The Qatari government on Friday downplayed media and NGO reports that it violates migrant workers’ rights.

The reports are “exaggerated”, and yesterday’s European Parliament emergency resolution on the issue is “premature”, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

The resolution condemns human rights violations of migrant workers in Qatar and calls on FIFA to send the Gulf nation “a clear and strong” message that the 2022 World Cup stadiums must not be built with slave labor.Practices include confiscating passports and denying wages to people forced to work long hours in searing heat and live in squalid, overcrowded camps. An estimated 500,000 foreign construction laborers are expected in Qatar to work on World Cup infrastructure.

FIFA’s responsibilities “go beyond the game of football”, the resolution said. “We cannot allow the 2022 World Cup to be built on slavery”, said Socialists and Democrats group leader Hannes Swoboda, adding he was “baffled” by the fact that center-right MEPs did not support the resolution.

FIFA replied it will take more than the football federation to remedy a situation, which must be tackled by economic players, the international community, and Qatari authorities as well. “FIFA is willing to work with all relevant organisms and authorities to resolve this issue and ensure that the protection of foreign workers’ rights be considered a matter of urgency”, the federation said in a communique.

Human rights watchdog groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and a UN special envoy for migrants’ rights have documented violations in Qatar including passport seizures, withheld wages, degrading living conditions and dangerous work environments. These add up to slave labor, the agencies charged.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘Gate to Hell’ Guardians Recovered in Turkey — Unique Marble Statues Warned of a Deadly Cave

Archaeologists digging in Turkey have found the guardians of the “Gate to Hell” — two unique marble statues which once warned of a deadly cave in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, near Pamukkale.

Known as Pluto’s Gate — Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin — the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition. It was discovered in March by a team led by Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento…

Both marble statues emerged from the thermal water, leaving little doubt that the site was indeed Pluto’s Gate. The cave was described in historic sources as filled with lethal mephitic vapors.

“This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death,” the Greek geographer Strabo (64-63 B.C. to about 24 A.D.) wrote about the site.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Hundreds of Cheering Supporters Gather at Tehran Airport to Welcome Iran Nuclear Negotiators

Hundreds of cheering supporters have gathered at the airport in Iran’s capital to welcome its nuclear negotiators. The crowd, mostly young students, called both Iran’s foreign minister and its top nuclear negotiator “the Ambassador of Peace.” They carried flowers and the Iranian flags.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Interim Iran Nuclear Deal Praised by Administration, Cautioned by Experts and Charged by Israel as “Historic Mistake”.

Late last night when first news came of an interim nuclear deal by the P5+1 in Geneva I watched skeptically Secretary of State Kerry’s briefing, see here. I was in the midst of an email exchange with Cliff May, President of Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies seeking an update on the impact of the proposed sanctions relief and whether David Albright, former IAEA nuclear inspector and head of the Institute for Science and International Security was crunching the numbers. Mark Dubowitz, executive director of FDD and proponent of tougher sanctions was winging his way back from Israel. Reuel Gerecht of FDD was scheduled to be on a Sunday news program opinion about the deal reached in Geneva.

For the full text of the P5+1 Iran interim agreement, see here.

President Obama told the media in a video that the P5+1 deal would “block” Iran from effectively achieving ‘nuclear breakout’. According to ABC News he said:”Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb.”

Meanwhile President Rouhani of Iran in a news conference said:…

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Iran, Six World Powers Clinch Breakthrough Nuclear Deal

Iran and six world powers clinched a deal on Sunday curbing the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for initial sanctions relief, signaling the start of a game-changing rapprochement that could ease the risk of a wider Middle East war.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Iranians Cheer Nuclear Negotiators at Airport

Hundreds of cheering supporters greeted Iran’s nuclear negotiators as they arrived back to Tehran late Nov. 24 night.

The crowd, mostly young students, called both Iran’s foreign minister and its top nuclear negotiator “the Ambassador of Peace.” They carried flowers and the Iranian flags. Among them were the families of slain nuclear scientists, as well as lawmakers and other officials.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

John Baird ‘Deeply Skeptical’ of Iran’s Intentions in Nuclear Deal

OTTAWA — Canada’s “hawkish” reaction to Iran’s historic deal with six world powers is out of step with the international community, experts say. University of Waterloo political science professor Dr. Bessma Momani and former Canadian ambassador to Iran, John Mundy, said Sunday that Canada’s hard-line stance on Iran shows we are lagging behind our allies.

“We really stand outside the consensus of the G7 on this issue,” said Momani, also a professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

Meanwhile Mundy, Canada’s last ambassador in Iran, said the agreement is a “defeat” for Canada’s foreign policy, which favours sanctions over negotiation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Man Dances With AK-47 at Wedding in Yemen, Three Dead

(AGI) Sanaa, Nov 23 — A lethal combination of bad taste and widespread availability of firearms ended in tragedy at a wedding in Yemen. During the ceremony a man danced to the hit song Gangnam Style while holding an AK-47, accidentally killing at least three people. A video of the event was uploaded on Liveleak. Firing guns while celebrating is a common practice not only in Yemen, but in many countries in the area.

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

Obama Calls Netanyahu After Israeli Leader Slams Iran Nuke Deal

President Obama has underscored in phone call to Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israel has a ‘good reason to be skeptical’ of interim nuclear deal with Iran, after Netanyahu slammed the deal as a ‘historic mistake.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Pre-Vote Tensions as Turkey PM Feuds With Preacher

ANKARA: Political tensions are mounting in Turkey ahead of an election-charged year, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan embroiled in a bitter row with an influential Muslim leader over education.

The feud between Erdogan and Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, has exposed divisions in the Turkish strongman’s traditional religiously conservative power base.

Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for 11 years, faces a key test in local elections next March with his image bruised by mass street protests that erupted against his government in June.

Differences between the Islamist leaning Erdogan and Gulen, who remains a highly influential figure on the Turkish domestic scene, have long been simmering.

But the dispute burst out into the open this week after Erdogan’s government tried to close down a network of private schools run by Gulen’s Hizmet (Service) movement that aim to help students prepare for high school and university.

The premier said he wanted to abolish an “illegal” and unfair education system which he charged turned children into “competition horses”, and denied his government was targeting anyone in particular.

“Those who benefit from these courses are the kids of rich families in big cities,” said Erdogan, who himself hails from humble roots and has tried to burnish an image as a man of the people during his term in office.

Hizmet as well as the secular opposition and teachers have reacted angrily to the move.

It has also sown dissent within Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), with one lawmaker facing expulsion for breaking ranks.

“What crime have we committed to justify being closed,” demanded a front-page headline in the Zaman newspaper, mouthpiece for the Gulen movement.


[Return to headlines]

Saudi Prince to Iran: We Won’t Sit Idly By

Not just Israel is scrambling to adjust to Obama’s capitulation to Iran.

In his interview with the Times of London (paywall) on Friday, Prince Mohammad also voiced unusually abrasive criticism of the West for what he said was a too-soft approach to Iran, calling Washington’s “rush” to engage with Tehran “incomprehensible.”

“Appeasement hasn’t worked in the past, and I don’t think it will work in the 21st century,” he was quoted as saying

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Syria: Clashes Near Damascus Kill 72 People

(AGI) Beirut, Nov 24 — Clashes broke out between groups of Islamist extremists and the regular army in the region of Ghuta, east of Damascus. At least 72 of those involved were killed. The London-based Syrian Observatory on Human Rights reported that 28 of the dead belonged to Iraq’s Islamic State, 26 to the free Syrian Army, and 18 were loyalists. Among the casualties are five activists who have posted videos on Youtube this year.

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

Turkish Artists Burn Works to Commemorate Alevi Massacre

33 intellectuals burnt alive by Islamists in 1993

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 22 — On the initiative of the painter Bubni Hayom, 35 Turkish artists set fire to their works in Istanbul on November 19 to commemorate the victims of the 1993 Sivas massacre. On July 2 of that year, in the town in central Anatolia, 33 intellectuals of the Alevi minority group were burnt alive in a hotel that an angry crowd of Muslim fundamentalists had set fire to. The “burnt works” will be kept in a new museum called Unutmamak Muzesi (The Museum of Not Forgetting), announced the mayor of Istanbul’s European neighbourhood Besiktas, Ismail Unal. The Sivas massacre is one of the most brutal episodes of recent Turkish history. A frenzied mob of Muslim zealots attacked and set fire to the Medimak hotel in Sivas, where a festival of Alevi poetry was underway. Some 33 intellectuals of the Alevi minority (a liberal offshoot of the Shiite sect, which for centuries has suffered discrimination and violence in Turkey at the hands of the Sunni majority) lost their lives in the fire, including the translator of Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’, Aziz Nesin, whose presence had sparked the rage of the Islamists.

Two of the hotel workers and two attackers also lost their lives, but no one has even been convicted for the massacre. The trial was drawn out over many years and the case was recently closed after the statute of limitations had passed. The Turkish Alevi community (about 20% of the population) were angered by the sentence, reports Hurriyet Online,and became furious after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the ruling, saying, “Congratulations, to our nation and our country”. The artists taking part in the “burnt works” initiative for Sivas said the incident was “a crime against humanity, and thus statute of limitations regulations should not apply to the case”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UN Chief Warmly Welcomes Interim Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday warmly welcomed the interim agreement that has been reached in Geneva regarding the nuclear program of Iran. Ban congratulated the negotiators “for the progress made in what could turn out to be the beginnings of a historic agreement for the peoples and nations of the Middle East region and beyond,” said a statement issued here by his spokesperson on Saturday night. The latest round of the Iran nuclear talks started on Wednesday. After intensive negotiations, the P5+1 group and Iran have reached a first-step agreement on Iran’s nuclear program…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

India Successfully Test Fires Dhanush Missile

NEW DELHI, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) — India Saturday successfully tested its nuclear-capable ballistic missile Dhanush from a naval ship in the Bay of Bengal, off the eastern coast of the Orissa state, an official said. The missile was fired from a naval ship as part of the training exercise of the Indian Navy, said the official on condition of anonymity. Dhanush, a naval version of the nuclear-capable ballistic missile Prithvi, has a range of 350 km and is capable of carrying a conventional as well as nuclear payload of more than 500 kg. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has recently stressed the importance of developing India’s domestic defense industry and reduce reliance on purchases of foreign arms.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Indonesian Ulema Want Mosques in Madura Island Hotels “To Fight Vice and Immorality”

A MUI spokesman calls on resorts and hotels to set aside space for worship to preserve the island’s purity and Muslim traditions, which are being threatened by an influx of tourists from Java. A guidebook will be shortly released showing how to build the perfect ‘mushola’.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Known for its contentious initiatives and many controversies, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has launched a new campaign to get hotels and holiday resorts on Madura Island (East Java province) to become more Islamic and provide space for traditional Muslim prayers.

Until recently, nobody had actually asked for a place of worship, nor was it required by law. However, demands to this effect have been made, especially by extremist movements who want to have them enshrined in law.

Recently, the MUI chapter in Madura called on hotels and resorts on the island to set aside space for a ‘mushola’ or small mosque, where employees and customers could pray. The goal is to make this a mandatory requirement under a law defined by Islamists themselves.

Rahbini Ali Abdul Latief, MUI spokesperson on Madura, said that a guidebook with instructions on how to build a “mushola” would be soon released, showing hotels what rules to follow in terms of building and furniture design. Once established, such places would open whenever there is a call to prayer.

For the MUI leader, it is imperative to save the “Islamic” nature, customs and traditions of Madura Island before they are corrupted or lost.

With the construction of Suramadu Bridge, which connects the island to Java, a stream of people has brought “moral disorder” to the island, threatening its pure and original soul.

So far, hotels have not expressed any objections to such a proposal, the MUI spokesperson noted, which, after all, only seeks to safeguard the island’s Islamic character. And if the idea works here, it could be “applied to the province of East Java.”

This way, hotels would no longer be seen as dens of vice and sin, where people have sex and engage in practices that are contrary to Muslim custom, morals and traditions.

Although the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia has a constitution that recognises basic personal freedoms (including freedom of religion). However, in its recent past, it has seen a rising wave of violence and abuse against minorities, like Christians, Ahmadi Muslims and others.

In the recent past, the authorities have often given in under pressure from the MUI, which acts as the country’s morality watchdog. For instance, in Islamist-ruled Aceh province, women cannot wear tight pants or skirts.

In March 2011, the MUI attacked flag-raising because “Muhammad never raised one”. On other occasions, it lashed out at popular social networking site Facebook as “amoral” as well as yoga, smoking, and the right to vote, especially for women.

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

Nepal: Civil Society and Religions Against Kidnapping of Child Brides

In the western districts forced marriages are still widespread: During special “festivals”, young men choose the most beautiful girls and kidnap them, forcing them to marry. In Nepal, this practice is illegal, but the silence of the people prolongs this tradition. Girls as young as 11 among victims.

Kathmandu ( AsiaNews) — In the western districts of Nepal it is still very popular — and illegal — to kidnap female children and adolescents to force them into marriage. According to a tradition, typical of Hinduism , a man may seize and take home any girl he likes .. At that point, the young girl has no choice but to marry her kidnapper. However , more and more people (including Hindus ) want to stop this ritual , which often hides cases of abuse and violence against these brides ..

According to Hindu tradition , such a practice may be honored during the Kojagrat Purnima , the full moon day that falls during Diwali , the “ festival of lights “ . In the middle of the night , males compete to “ win “ the most beautiful girl, kidnap and marry her. Unfortunately, even female children fall victim to this practice ..

This is the case of a 11-year old , who does not want to reveal her name for fear of discovery . On 27 October, the little girl became the “prey” of Tej Bahadur Sarki , 22, from Kandagaun (district of Bajura ) . The minor was going to the house of her maternal uncle for the festival, when the young man took her and dragged her to his house , declaring her his wife.

“We are worried — says Dipak Katuwal , a man from the same village — and we want to protect our daughters . Moreover, some older men send young boys to kidnap the girls, then take them as brides . The government needs to stop this practice ..”

The problem however is that these kidnappings are never reported by the families of the victims , for fear of retaliation. However, the district judge Mahesh Khatri says, “ if people speak out we would be able to pursue these criminals, and charge them with rape, kidnapping and human trafficking”.

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

Pakistan: Her Dad Raped Her… Her Brother “Honor Killed” Her

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

The Lahore High Court has disposed of an application regarding a woman’s alleged rape and murder by family members, after legal proceedings were initiated against the victim’s brother.

Sobia Aman had submitted an application to the LHC Complaints Cell stating that her friend *Sadia had left her house in Nawankot village after being sexually assaulted by her father.

The applicant said that Sadia’s relatives had persuaded her to return home at the end of May, assuring that they would not allow her to be sexually assaulted again. But a few days later, Sadia was poisoned and killed, the applicant said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

China! China! China!

While introducing reforms, China is still a nation where the state owns and operates much of its economy. This is an object lesson and warning to Americans who are now rising up to demand that Obamacare, the takeover of one sixth of the U.S. economy, be repealed. Governments cannot and should not run various elements of a nation’s economy because decisions are based in politics, not the marketplace.

“China’s working-age population will reach its peak at the end of this decade and decades before the People’s Republic is supposed to overtake the United States.” Meanwhile, thanks to our fertility rates and immigration, the U.S. will have a population of younger workers. It has not escaped the attention of observers that, by 2025, China would account for less than a fifth of the world’s population, but almost a fourth of the world’s senior citizens.”

“A burgeoning army of pensioners and infirm will eat up investment funds as a fire will consume oxygen,” says Joffe. Aging populations worldwide, including our own, put enormous strains on growth and, as we have seen here, social programs such as Social Security and Medicare are threatened with insolvency unless reformed. Nothing scares the political class more as the aging citizens who represent a major voting bloc.

Joffe also cited China’s educational system that places its emphasis on learning the answers to tests as opposed to the ability to think creatively and question government dictates. This reflects in part our own educational system that has been tending toward “teaching to the test” and a national curriculum such as is being imposed in the current “Common Core” program that the Obama administration has introduced.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Insight: Kim Jong UN, North Korea’s Master Builder

(Reuters) — North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has rattled the United States with his nuclear threats and bemused the world with his penchant for funfairs, Disney and Dennis Rodman.

Partly out of the public eye, however, the young leader has presided over a construction boom since he took office two years ago with the aid of funds from China, the North’s major backer, and Russia, a former Cold War ally.

Based on satellite imagery, first-hand accounts and photographs obtained from people who travel regularly to North Korea, the building activity goes far beyond the ski resort, pleasure parks and apartment blocks reported by state media.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Philippines Typhoon Death Toll Tops 5,200

TACLOBAN: The number of people dead or missing after one of the world’s strongest typhoons struck the Philippines climbed towards 7,000 on Saturday, as the United Nations warned much more needed to be done to help desperate survivors.

The government’s confirmed death toll rose to 5,235, with another 1,613 people still missing more than two weeks after Super Typhoon Haiyan destroyed entire towns across a long stretch of islands in the central Philippines.

Haiyan now rivals a 1976 tsunami on the southern island of Mindanao as the deadliest recorded natural disaster to strike the Philippines, which endures a never-ending battle against typhoons, earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions. The typhoon has triggered a giant, international relief effort, with dozens of countries and relief organisations rushing to deliver food, water and health services to more than four million people who lost their homes. However UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, after visiting the disaster zones, warned the world was still not responding fast enough to the disaster.

“Much more needs to be done. Food, clean water and shelter remain the top priorities,” Amos said as a UN appeal for funds was raised from $301 million to $348 million.

Amos said huge numbers of people were still exposed to bad weather in the nine provinces ravaged by the storm, as she warned particularly of the dangers for babies, children and mothers.

“I am very concerned that some 1.5 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition and close to 800,000 pregnant and nursing mothers need nutritional help,” Amos told a news conference at UN headquarters.

The World Bank on Friday added $480 million in emergency aid to the Philippines, taking its support to nearly $1 billion. The Asian Development Bank has also offered $500 million concessionary loans.

The US military has performed the highest-profile role in the relief effort, sending an aircraft carrier that arrived six days after the disaster that finally allowed relief supplies to start reaching isolated communities. Japan also sent more than 1,000 troops aboard three vessels that arrived on Thursday night, in what is the biggest overseas deployment of the country’s military since its defeat in World War II nearly 70 years ago. China, which is embroiled in a long-running territorial dispute with the Philippines, dispatched a 300-bed hospital ship, while Australia, Britain and Indonesia are among many other nations to have also sent military support.

The number of people confirmed killed jumped by nearly 1,200 on Friday to 5,209…


[Return to headlines]

Australian Family Sets New World Record With Over Half a Million Christmas Lights

An Australian family has reclaimed their Guinness World Record by stringing up more than half a million Christmas lights around their suburban home.

Guinness World Records official Chris Sheedy confirmed Monday that the Richards family of Canberra set the record for Christmas lights on a residential property with 502,165 twinkling bulbs.

The family first entered the famous record book in 2001 with 331,038 multi-colored lights. But they were trumped last year by a family in LaGrangeville, New York, who illuminated their home with 346,283 lights.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Gunmen Kill 13 People in Village in Northeastern Nigeria

(AGI) Maiduguri, Nov 23 — A group of about 30 armed men killed at least 12 people on Saturday during a raid in the village of Sandiya, in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, stronghold of the Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalist group. A local eyewitness said that before opening fire the gunmen — whom the local authorities still have not officially identified as Boko Haram — cried out ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great).

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

Nigeria: Gunmen Kill 12, Set Houses Ablaze

A group of armed men has ambushed and killed not less than twelve people in Sandiya village of Damboa local government area of Borno State. They also set ablaze many houses after displacing many out of the community. Damboa is about 85 kilometres south of Maiduguri, the state capital, which had witnessed deadly attacks by the Boko Haram sect through road attacks and other deadly strategies. Though, the military has killed hundreds of the terrorists in their various camps along the off shores of the Sambisa Game Forests in an offensive raid, even as many of the terrorists also escaped the several attacks and regrouped again.

LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered from a reliable source that the gunmen were alleged to be on a revenge mission as it was reported that some people in the village have exposed the modus operandi of the suspected Boko Haram members who fled military raid along the Sambisa Forests but were later captured by the security operatives…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Mark Zuckerberg: Immigration Reform One of the ‘Biggest Civil Rights Issues of Our Time’

During an exclusive interview with “This Week,” Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg criticized the current U.S. immigration system and framed comprehensive reform as a major civil rights issue.

“When you meet these children who are really talented, and they’ve grown up in America and they really don’t know any other country besides that, but they don’t have the opportunities that … we all enjoy, it’s really heartbreaking — right? That seems like it’s one of the biggest civil rights issues of our time,” Zuckerberg said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Rep. Gutierrez: ‘My Republican Friends’ Tell Me They’ll Try to Pass Full Immigration Bill in Parts

He made his comments on Al Jazeera America’s Inside Story on Friday. Gutierrez has called Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) his “ally” in his quest for amnesty and has praised Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) as well. He emphasized that he, like President Barack Obama, does not care if immigration reform is “in parts and pieces as long as in the end, there is a full menu.”

Last week, President Barack Obama said of the comprehensive bill that passed the Senate, “If they want to chop that thing up in five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like. Then, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that immigration reform was “absolutely not” dead.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Warns Christianity at Risk of Dying Out in a Generation

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has a warning for Christian churches: Attract young people to the faith or risk losing it forever. According to The Telegraph, Carey said Christianity is just a “generation away from extinction” in Britain unless churches have a breakthrough in attracting young people.

Clergy are gripped by a “feeling of defeat” and congregations are worn down by “heaviness,” he said. Carey said the public greets both with “rolled eyes and a yawn of boredom,” according to The Telegraph.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sixth Graders Polled on Gay Marriage, Abortion and Gun Control

Parents of a sixth grade student at the Milam Elementary School in Tupelo, Mississippi were shocked when their daughter brought home a political beliefs worksheet that teachers told students to fill out.

The in-class assignment entitled “Are you a Democrat or Republican?” was posted to the “Stop Common Core in Mississippi” Facebook page with a message alleging that the young female student was told not to talk about or take the assignment outside of class, although some parents refute the claim.

Regardless, the assignment, written for 11-year-old children, asks students what their beliefs are on such issues as abortion, gun control and gay marriage, before having them tally up their “D” and “R” answers to determine which establishment party they belong to.

The worksheet, which has a clear bias towards more government control, goes on to frame such topics as healthcare as supporting care for everyone including the poor if your a Democrat, and essentially denying care to those who cannot afford it if you are a Republican. The paper gives no historical context of the incredible failures of government run healthcare, the millions currently losing their health insurance due to government intervention, or the government’s direct relation to dwindling quality, skyrocketing costs and loss of charity care as the push for government monopoly by both parties’ leadership continues.

[Comment: Commie-Core needs this feedback to verify the indoctrination of the next generation is working.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: ‘You Are a Woman, You Can’t Sit Here’: UK Universities Condones Gender Segregation

by Chris Moos

If the new guidelines by Universities UK, an organisation representing the leadership of UK universities, are adopted, this is a phrase that might become not uncommon to hear at UK universities.

The attempts of extreme religious speakers and organisations to impose gender segregation and the harmful effects of such policies on students have been well documented. In March, University College London banned the Islamist organisation iERA from its premises after it tried to physically impose a gender segregated seating order on the audience of an event called “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?”.

Now, it appears that organisations like the iERA will get their attempts to forcibly segregate men and women officially sanctioned. On November 22nd, Universities UK, which calls itself “The voice of UK Universities”, issued new guidelines on external speakers in higher education institutions. In a shocking reinterpretation of the segregationist “separate but equal” slogan of long-gone regimes, the document states that “assuming the side-by-side segregated seating arrangement is adopted, there does not appear to be any discrimination on gender grounds merely by imposing segregated seating. Both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way.“ Notably, the guidelines make it clear that not only voluntary self-segregation would be permissible, but also the imposition of a seating order through forceful means, telling students where to sit, and next to whom.

In what appears to be a deliberate misinterpretation of existing equality legislation, the organisation also claims “segregation in the context of the facts outlined above would only be discriminatory on the grounds of sex if it amounts to ‘less favourable treatment’ of either female or male attendees.” Incredibly, this posits that treating someone differently because of his or her gender, telling them that certain students cannot sit next to certain others, would not amount to discrimination. In what seems to border at the absurd, the organisation indeed says that “an act of indirect discrimination can be ‘objectively justified’ if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. According to Universities UK, forced gender segregation is thus “legitimate”…

[Reader comment by Aloevera on 23 November 2013.]

I have said before — and will now repeat: There is a *trajectory* of developments in any one place. Most people don’t think of this — they tend to think of how things — laws and customs operate — at any one time — the time that they are currently in. But there is always a trajectory behind that. A trajectory of developments involve changes in laws and customs — *but not just any old changes*. The development and changes over time of orientations in any one place are more or less “directed” (usually tacitly — not planned or necessarily conscious by the members of society).

The direction of British laws and customs (at least since the 17th century — but really before that) has been in the direction of what we now call “Liberalism” (with certain gaps and glissandos along the way) — including changes made to continuously proffer individual rights and equalities to include more and more categories of people, among other features. The Islamic import is not only counter to the liberal laws and customs of Britain today at this one time — it is counter to the entire trajectory of socio-political life in these islands. To require such a breach in such a fundamental ethos is to insult not only the people here today — but to insult and disregard the entire history and sense of meaning in this place — as if to say: “You who are already here no longer count”. It is obscene — not least because the people involved in making this insult would never accept such compromises or breaches against themselves and their tradition.

The argument will probably be made that in trying to provide equal “balance” for the religious needs of the Muslims among us (in the UK, at least), the appeal or “logic” is to the very inclusive Liberalism that is part of the ethos of this place — and thus, the implication is that the same would be done for the needs of those practicing any other religion — that is, should those needs of people in other religions be compromised by ordinary, everyday British behavior.

There are three problems with this:

1- If the practitioners of every other religion were to make similar demands (and they may now be encouraged to find some of their own in the wake of the current ruling), there would quickly be chaos — because there are too many of them and it is impossible to accommodate all differences equally in a multi-cultural society without losing a certain “centering” of societal stability.

2- Why are specifically *religious* sensibilities being accommodated here? There are all sorts of sensibilities floating about among myriad types of people — but not necessarily encapsulated in the neatly bounded, more or less formal wrapping, of religion. What about all those other sensibilities? — for presumably they mean as much to *their* holders as Islam means to Muslims. How is the university system to determine all these various holdings and meanings among university members? And again — even if such sensibilities could be assessed — how is the university system to find a “balance” among so many disparate orientations — especially as they may clash among themselves in all sorts of directions?

3- The guidelines come up with rather tortuous formulations — which cannot be empirically substantiated, it seems to me — that is — they attempt to *rank* “suffering” among potential audience members and speakers — so that some sorts of “suffering” will win more favorable treatment than others. But how does one assess this? Do the generators of this new guidance propose to weigh the ergs of energy given out by “sufferers” of various policies and thus to determine who “suffers” more from some policy — and appease the latter”? If so — then we have now gone beyond the Looking Glass and into Wonderland. Expect at any moment to be met by Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

So — those who will claim that this current business is part of the developmental trajectory of British Liberalism — being ever inclusive — is to find a way to accommodate even deep difference. But no — to accommodate such deeply contrary differences as we are now being asked to do is like having a social case of the illness known as lupus — an illness in which the body destroys its own organs. I have said before that even Liberalism has limits — there can be no social order at all if “anything goes” — and life becomes untenable. Those partaking of Liberalism can take comfort in the fact that it is the most flexible of political orientations — and allows the greatest degree of individual freedom within its limits. But here, the burden of adjustment falls on the Muslims (or any other immigrants — although it would seem that any other immigrants do not suffer such difficulties in accommodating themselves). Most Muslims — if they try — could probably find a way to accommodate themselves here within the already existing framework and without disturbing others, if they wished — certainly more so than any Westerners with their set of sensibilities would be accommodated in most Muslim majority countries.

But perhaps I waste time in saying all this — because the real culprits seem to be not Muslims making claims — but Western/British enablers who drop their own cultural trajectory for heaven knows what reasons. Perhaps it it those people who have to be challenged — and thus — it is their motivations that have to be understood in order to level that challenge. Perhaps we now need to better understand Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Daniel Pipes: Anti-Islam Trumps Islam in the West

As non-Muslims come to understand the Islamist challenge, anti-Islamic sentiments in the West are increasing, probably at a faster rate than Islamic practices. As anti-Islam trumps Islam, (I have concluded) opinions “will grow yet more hostile to Islamism over time. In this way, Islamist aggression assures that anti-Islamism in the West is winning its race with Islamism.”

Correct prediction? To keep track, this weblog entry documents the course of Western public opinion on a bundle of topics connected to Islam, including democracy, immigration, jihad, Shari’a, and women. To start with, two polls:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Developing Countries Want to Force Rich Countries to Bail Them Out if They’re Hit by Natural Disasters

Developing countries have called for legally-binding rules that force rich countries to provide money when they are affected by extreme weather events such as Typhoon Haiyan.

Currently, wealthy nations such as Britain offer donations following a natural disaster.

But last night a group of nations came together to argue extreme events, such as droughts or typhoons, are becoming more frequent because of man-made global warming.

Brazil’s representative called for countries which industrialised earlier — such as Britain — to bear the brunt of the financial burden because they have had higher greenhouse gas emissions for longer.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/24/2013

  1. Reading through the latest batch of news digests. Very informative and keep up the good work!

    Interesting angle on Turkey in this article:

    Ahmet Davutoglu, the foreign minister of Turkey, has really got his work cut out.
    If you don’t mind I might forward you an article about this, it all ties in with the lack of perception of the deep threat to the west.

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