Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/26/2013

Thousands of Greeks are standing in line in government offices waiting to unregister their cars before the end of the year. The continuing financial crisis has forced many people to try to save money by avoiding the 2014 vehicle tax.

In other news, Egyptian authorities arrested dozens of Muslim Brotherhood supporters under the new law declaring it to be a terrorist organization.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Papa Whiskey, Steen, Takuan Seiyo, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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

Financial Crisis
» 100 Years Ago: Why Bankers Created the Fed
» A Taxpayer Bailout for ObamaCare
» Gold Steady, But Set for Biggest Annual Loss in Three Decades
» Italy’s Xmas Food Spending Down 8%, Says Farmers’ Group
» Thousands More Greeks Unregister Their Cars
» Wall Street Advisor Recommends Guns, Ammo for Protection in Collapse
» “Taken Out of Context”: McDonald’s Gives up on Employee Advice Site
» Albert Einstein: “A Foolish Faith in Authority is the Worst Enemy of the Truth”
» Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Boost Foreign Adoptions
» Church Displays Bleeding Trayvon Martin Nativity Scene
» Citizens Launch Armed Patrols Due to Sheriff Dept. Cuts
» Federal Authorities Charge White ‘Knockout’ Suspect With Hate Crime
» Feds: ‘Knockout’ Attack Was a Hate Crime
» IRS Rule May Allow Political Targeting
» Jesse Jackson Senior Thinks Duck Dynasty Suffers From White Privilege
» Landowners Fight City Over Protective Dunes
» NSA Struggles to Make Sense of Flood of Surveillance Data
Europe and the EU
» Christmas Storms Cause Turmoil, Skier Killed
» Dutch Meat Giant Vion Sold Factory-Farmed Pork as Organic Ham
» ‘Facebook is Dead and Buried’
» Flights Cancelled as French Lufthansa Workers Call in Sick
» France Urged to Scrap Veil Ban for School Trips
» Islamists Take Lawfare to Europe Creating ‘Spiral of Silence’
» Italian ‘Slave’ Posters Pulled Amid Racism Claims
» Italy: M5S Leader Grillo to Seek President’s Impeachment
» Pope Appeals for Persecuted Christians
» Russian Church Set to be Built Near Eiffel Tower
» Traditional Danish Pastries Threatened by EU Cinnamon Ban
» UK: £30million for Wind Turbines That Don’t Work When It’s Windy
» UK: Agony of Mother Whose Daughter ‘Was Murdered and Turned Into Kebab Meat’ After She Was Targeted by Stalker Who Became Obsessed With Case
» UK: Foreign Doctor Attacked Female Patient Who Disagreed With Diagnosis: GP Given Six Month Conditional Discharge
» UK: The Burglar Who Returned to Rape His Victim… and the Awesome Courage That Saved Her
» Interfaith Outreach in Kosovo: Orthodox Church Turned Into Public Toilet and Garbage Dump
North Africa
» Egypt Arrests Dozens Under New Anti-Terror Law
» Libya: At Least 8 Dead in Cyrenaica Clashes
» More Bogus Reporting From “60 Minutes” On Benghazi
» Morocco Dismantles Terror Cell in Several Cities, Arrests Fundraiser
Israel and the Palestinians
» Kerry Proposes Massive Fence on Jordan Border
Middle East
» Funeral Held for British Doctor Who Died in Government Detention in Syria; Inquest Planned
» Syria Signs Deal With Russian Firm to Drill Offshore for Oil and Gas
» Turkey: Anti-Santa Campaigns Heat Up as Christmas Arrives
» Under Mounting Pressure, Turkey Premier Shuffles Cabinet
» Wife: Saudi Blogger Recommended for Apostasy Trial
» Yasser Arafat Died of Natural Causes Says Russian Report
South Asia
» American Abducted in Pakistan Calls for US Help, Says He Feels ‘Abandoned’
» Leaving Afghanistan
Far East
» China and S. Korea Angry Over Japan PM’s Visit to Controversial Shrine
» China Targets Moon Sample-Return Mission in 2017
» China Celebrates Mao’s Birthday, But Events Scaled Back
» Japan PM’s Visit to Controversial War Shrine Draws Protest From China, South Korea
» New Bomber Can Nuke US Military Bases, Brags Chinese State Media
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigeria: Military in Hot Pursuit of Islamic Extremists Who Abducted Wives, Kids in Attack on Barracks
» UN Security Council Acts Quickly on South Sudan
Latin America
» Cubans Lost at Sea as Castro Brothers Gloat Over Obama’s Handshake
» Piranha Attack in Argentina Reportedly Leaves at Least 70 Injured
» Sixty Hurt in Argentina Piranha Attack
» Italy Transfers Migrants From Scandal-Hit Centre
» Migrant Boat Intercepted Off Greece Coast
» Nine in 10 Babies Born in Parts of Britain Have a Foreign Parent
» UN Accused of Interfering Over Immigration
Culture Wars
» Enough of Gay Tyranny
» WWE Pits ‘Good’ Black Santa vs. ‘Bad’ White Santa
» Making Waves: In the Hunt for Invisibility, Other Benefits Seen
» WHO: Cancer Risk Rising Around the World; Western Medicine Failing Globally

100 Years Ago: Why Bankers Created the Fed

But the courtship between the political classes and their cronies would continue in the decades following Lincoln’s assassination. Those politically well-connected groups that benefited from early central banking continued to benefit from government finance, especially off of “internal improvements,” which is the nineteenth-century term for pork. National banking would appear during the War Between the States, setting in place a banking system in which individual banks would be chartered by the federal government. The government itself would use regulations backed by a new armed U.S. Treasury police force to encourage the banks’ inflation and protect them from the market penalties that inflation would otherwise bring them, such as the loss of specie and the occurrence of bank runs.

The boom and bust cycle, explained by the Austrian School in such detail, became worse and worse in the period leading up to 1913. And with the rise of Progressive Era spending on war and welfare, and with the pressure on banks to inflate to finance this activity, the boom and bust cycles worsened even more. If there was one saving grace about this period it would be that banks were forced to internalize their losses. When banks faced runs on their currencies, private financiers would bail them out. But this arrangement didn’t last, so when the losses grew, those financiers would secretly organize to reintroduce central banking to America, thus engineering an urgent need for a new “lender of last resort.” The result was the Federal Reserve.

This was the implicit socialization of the banking industry in the United States. People called the Federal Reserve Act the Currency Bill, because it was to create a bureaucracy that would assume the currency-creating duties of member banks.

It was like the Patriot Act, in that both were centralizing bills that were written years in advance by people who were waiting for the appropriate political environment in which to introduce them. It was like our current health care bills, in which cartelized firms in private industry wrote chunks of the legislation behind closed doors long before they were introduced in Congress.

It was unnecessary. If banks were simply held to similar standards as other more efficient industries were held to — the rule of law at the very least — then far fewer fraudulent banks would ever come about. There were market institutions that would penalize those banks that over-issued currencies, brought about bank runs, and financial crises.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

A Taxpayer Bailout for ObamaCare

The next too-big-to-fail train wreck on the horizon

An American public already reeling from the catastrophic rollout of ObamaCare will more than likely be hearing an unfamiliar term being bandied about in the new year. “Risk corridor” refers to a provision in the law that allows the government to “stabilize” premium costs for insurance companies during the first three years of the healthcare rollout.

If insurance companies’ “target” costs for providing healthcare has been miscalculated, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will intercede on their behalf. Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer illuminates the nature of that intercession. “The insurers understand that they’re going to be completely ruined,” Krauthammer explains. “And what’s going to happen as a result of this? There’s only one way out, a huge government bailout of the insurers is waiting at the end of next year.” More accurately, it will be a taxpayer-funded bailout, similar to the ones given to the banks and the car companies.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gold Steady, But Set for Biggest Annual Loss in Three Decades

Gold was little changed on Thursday in thin year-end trade, but looked set to post its biggest annual loss in more than three decades as rallying equities and optimism about a global economic recovery dented its safe-haven appeal.

Worries this year that the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin unwinding its stimulus and then the recent decision to do so has also hurt bullion that is seen as a hedge against inflation.

Gold is headed for a near 30 percent slump in 2013 — ending a 12-year rally prompted by rock bottom interest rates and measures taken by global central banks to prop up the economy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy’s Xmas Food Spending Down 8%, Says Farmers’ Group

Italians invested 2.3 billion euros in food and drink

(ANSA) — Rome, December 26 — Italians spent 2.3 billion euros on food and drink for their traditional Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day lunch, national farmers’ association Coldiretti said Thursday.

The association said this was 8% down on the amount they spent last year.

Italy is struggling to return to positive growth after its longest recession since World War II.

Coldiretti said the economic crisis had led consumers to “make savings in spending, contain waste and make more careful choices” regarding their festive meals. Coldiretti said 92% of Italians spent Christmas at home with family of friends.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Thousands More Greeks Unregister Their Cars

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Thousands more Greeks have unregistered their cars as the New Year draws near, GreekReporter website writes, because they could no longer afford to pay a motor vehicle tax with their earnings having shrunk tangibly amid austerity.

Long lines of people were forming on Monday in front of local tax offices across Greece as many car owners in the debt-stricken eurozone nation wanted to unregister their vehicles to avoid paying a motor vehicle tax in 2014. Greek television showed people handing in their vehicle plates to officials, saying they could no longer afford the tax amounting to several hundred euros for smaller cars, to over 1,000 euros for luxury vehicles.

“We’ve logged some 70,000 people so far who’ve handed in their number plates this year alone,” Finance Ministry official Charis Theocharis told reporters.

The move by many Greeks to take their cars off the road reflects the impact of harsh austerity measures that have rocked the Southern European country after qualifying for an international bailout. Greece’s largest trade unions said incomes had decreased by about 40% since 2009, making it next to impossible for many citizens to make ends meet. Car dealers maintained more than a million vehicles had been unregistered in the country since 2009. The Greek car market continues to struggle. January-November sales dropped by 40%, compared to the same period a year earlier, with only 55,000 new registrations logged in the first nine months of 2013, marking the steepest decline in the European Union.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Wall Street Advisor Recommends Guns, Ammo for Protection in Collapse

A top financial advisor, worried that Obamacare, the NSA spying scandal and spiraling national debt is increasing the chances for a fiscal and social disaster, is recommending that Americans prepare a “bug-out bag” that includes food, a gun and ammo to help them stay alive.

David John Marotta, a Wall Street expert and financial advisor and Forbes contributor, said in a note to investors, “Firearms are the last item on the list, but they are on the list. There are some terrible people in this world. And you are safer when your trusted neighbors have firearms.”

His memo is part of a series addressing the potential for a “financial apocalypse.” His view, however, is that the problems plaguing the country won’t result in armageddon. “There is the possibility of a precipitous decline, although a long and drawn out malaise is much more likely,” said the Charlottesville, Va.-based president of Marotta Wealth Management.

Marotta said that many clients fear an end-of-the-world scenario. He doesn’t agree with that outcome, but does with much of what has people worried.

“I, along with many other economists, agree with many of the concerns expressed in these dire warnings. The growing debt and deficit spending is a tax on those holding dollars. The devaluation in the U.S. dollar risks the dollar’s status as the reserve currency of the world. Obamacare was the worst legislation in the past 75 years. Socialism is on the rise and the NSA really is abrogating vast portions of the Constitution. I don’t disagree with their concerns,” he wrote…

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo [Return to headlines]

“Taken Out of Context”: McDonald’s Gives up on Employee Advice Site

McDonald’s Corp. has pulled the plug on its “McResource” web site, which has been an ongoing target of a group seeking higher pay for hourly workers.

The group, Low Pay Is Not OK, has criticized the site, claiming that it encouraged employees to break their food into pieces in an effort to stretch their budgets and, most recently, that the site advised them to cut down on fast food to stay healthy. McDonald’s has said that those bits of advice were taken out of context.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Albert Einstein: “A Foolish Faith in Authority is the Worst Enemy of the Truth”

Albert Einstein said:

“A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of the truth.”

Indeed, scientists have shown that people will go to absurd lengths — and engage in mental gymnastics — in order to cling to their belief in what those in authority have said.

Part of the reason so many are so vulnerable to naive belief in authority is that we evolved in small tribes … and we assume that the super-elites are just like us.

In reality, there are millions of psychopaths in the world … and they are largely running D.C. and on Wall Street.

These people have no hesitation in lying to promote their goals.

The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs told Morley Safer of 60 Minutes and CBS News:

“Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? — stupid.”

And studies show that the super-rich lie, cheat and steal more than the rest of us.

Who’s to Blame … Big Government or Big Business?

Conservatives tend to believe that the captains of industry are virtuous and that the government can’t be trusted.

Liberals tend to believe that government servants are virtuous and that corporations can’t be trusted.

But the truth is that psychopaths are psychopaths … whether they’re in the private sector or government.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Boost Foreign Adoptions

Amid partisan conflict in Congress, dozens of lawmakers from both parties — including staunch liberals and conservatives — have united behind a bill that supporters say addresses a heart-rending issue beyond politics: the millions of foreign children languishing in orphanages or otherwise at risk because they have no immediate family.

The bill would encourage more adoptions of foreign orphans, which have declined steadily in recent years, and reflects impatience with current policies overseen by the State Department.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Church Displays Bleeding Trayvon Martin Nativity Scene

Outside the Claremont United Methodist Church is a nativity scene with a bleeding Trayvon Martin. The California Church has turned their nativity scene “into a piece of art that comments on our times” for the last seven years.

[Return to headlines]

Citizens Launch Armed Patrols Due to Sheriff Dept. Cuts

When budget woes reduced the sheriff’s department in one rural Oregon county to a bare-bones force, residents decided to take matters into their own hands — creating armed patrol groups in defiance of local officials.

Their decision has raised safety concerns with the county government, which would prefer residents instead hike their own taxes to fund the hiring of trained deputies. But despite the risks, the move stands as a unique, some would say innovative, response to one of the country’s most severe local budget crunches.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Federal Authorities Charge White ‘Knockout’ Suspect With Hate Crime

Federal authorities said Thursday they have arrested and charged a Texas man in connection with the “knockout game,” accusing him of a hate crime for targeting a black man for a vicious street attack.

The Justice Department said it filed a criminal complaint against 27-year-old Conrad Alvin Barrett on Tuesday and arrested him on Thursday.

According to Justice officials, Mr. Barrett recorded himself on his cellphone attacking the 79-year-old man, laughing and saying “Knockout” as he runs away. The 79-year-old man had his jaw broken in the Nov. 24 attack.

“The plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?” Mr. Barrett says in the video, according to the authorities.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Feds: ‘Knockout’ Attack Was a Hate Crime

A man has been charged with a federal hate crime in connection with what authorities say was a racially motivated “knockout” assault against an elderly black man, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday.

Conrad Alvin Barrett, 27, of Katy, Texas, has been charged with one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

According to the federal complaint, Barrett attacked the elderly man “because of the man’s race and color.”

The suspect made a video of the attack November 24, the complaint said. In the video, he allegedly commented that “the plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?”

[How many years have black thugs been pulling this stunt without a peep from the MSM? But let some palooka of pallor try it and it becomes a cause celebre and a federal case. Disgusting. — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

IRS Rule May Allow Political Targeting

Barack Obama’s Internal Revenue Service was caught this year targeting conservative groups with harassment that included invasive probes into the content of prayers and unwarranted delays.

That issue is being worked out in court. But the IRS, nevertheless, remains on the attack, proposing new regulations that would silence the president’s critics.

Mathew Staver, founder and chief counsel of Liberty Counsel, said that after “being caught intentionally targeting conservative groups in the prior two elections, now the president wants his IRS to totally silence the voices of his political adversaries.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Jesse Jackson Senior Thinks Duck Dynasty Suffers From White Privilege

Where there is a media opportunity can the Reverend Jesse (Hymietown) Jackson Senior be far behind? Adding his own distinct take to the Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s now (in)famous remarks, Jackson has demanded — not asked, but demanded — meetings with all involved. After all, according to Jackson, Robertson’s comments also bespeak of, wouldn’t you know, “white privilege.”

In an announcement sent out Tuesday, Jackson Sr. compared Robertson’s recent comments about African-Americans, gay people and women to comments made by the driver of Rosa Parks’ bus.

“At least the bus driver, who ordered Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person, was following state law,” he said in the release. “Robertson’s statements were uttered freely and openly without cover of the law, within a context of what he seemed to believe was ‘white privilege.’“

So is the always uttering freely and openly with the cover of law Jackson inadvertently excusing the bus driver and denigrating Parks’ courageous actions while simultaneously depriving Robertson of his right to express his opinions which Jackson brushes off as white privilege?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Landowners Fight City Over Protective Dunes

Many New Jersey Shore towns battered by superstorm Sandy are moving to seize private land to accommodate a network of protective coastal dunes, using their powers of eminent domain in a way officials say they never have before.

The state needed about 2,000 property owners to sign easements for the dunes to be constructed, but about 780 have declined to do so, said Christopher Porrino, who recently was appointed chief counsel for Republican Gov. Chris Christie after serving as director of the state attorney general’s division of law.

Town officials are sending out letters and appraisers, signaling they are prepared to seize the land. The move is supported by the Christie administration. An executive order signed by the governor this fall gave towns the go-ahead “to commandeer …any privately owned property” needed to minimize the risk of coastal flooding.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

NSA Struggles to Make Sense of Flood of Surveillance Data

William Binney, creator of some of the computer code used by the National Security Agency to snoop on Internet traffic around the world, delivered an unusual message here in September to an audience worried that the spy agency knows too much.

It knows so much, he said, that it can’t understand what it has.

“What they are doing is making themselves dysfunctional by taking all this data,” Mr. Binney said at a privacy conference here.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Christmas Storms Cause Turmoil, Skier Killed

Power outage at Cortina d’Ampezzo, islands cut off

(By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) — Rome, December 26 — A wave of Christmas storms continued to batter Italy on Thursday after causing deaths and major damage in France, Britain and Spain.

High winds, heavy rain and snow in many northern areas sparked transport disruption, a series of injuries and were linked to one death.

A 24-year-old French skier died in a Turin hospital after being swept up by an avalanche in the nearby mountains of Bardonecchia.

A thick covering of snow and gale-force gusts led to power cuts in the Alpine resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo and several other towns in the area.

The situation was complicated by the fact that many roads in this area and in other parts of the country were impossible to use due to snow and fallen trees.

Indeed, around 20 people trapped in eight cars by the snow were rescued early on Thursday after spending the night in their vehicles. Over 70 technicians from energy company Enel started work early in the day to try to restore electricity supplies in the area. The wave of bad weather, which took grip in Italy in earnest on Christmas Day, also led to several landslides. Around 50 people belonging to 18 families were evacuated after a landslide hit two apartment buildings in the Pontedecimo suburb of Genoa. An 18-year-old boy and his 16-year-old female friend required assistance after being injured and trapped in a car in a landslide at Bellagio, in Lombardy, the region around Milan.

Two families had to be evacuated from their homes in Premana, near Lecco, after a mudslide covered part of the town.

Heavy rains caused rivers to swell and several bridges were closed in the region of Piedmont.

The bad weather caused many rail services to be interrupted, including connections between Italy and Switzerland, which were suspended for around nine hours early on Thursday.

Ferry links were hit too, with several Sicilian islands and others in the Bay of Naples temporarily cut off from the mainland due to dangerous sailing conditions that were forecast to get worse. A group of 100 tourists travelling to the Alto Adige resort of Sesto Pusteria could not get to the destination because the road was closed and they had to find accomodation in other parts of the province.

Torrential rain contributed to Venice being inundated by Acqua alta, or high water, floods of 115cm above the usual level at one point on Thursday. Acqua alta in Venice frequently occurs when strong winds and rain combine with astronomical tides that are connected with the movements of the moon to raise water levels and cause flooding.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Dutch Meat Giant Vion Sold Factory-Farmed Pork as Organic Ham

One of Europe’s biggest meat processing firms has deliberately sold ordinary ham labelled as organic meat, an independent investigation into the company has found.

Meat processing company Vion has now admitted some of its workers committed fraud by mislabelling ordinary meat, after two long-serving members of staff went public with the claims.

The case involved 11 tonnes of ham processed at the company’s Encebe Vleesware unit which was sold over a three-month period to a ‘large number’ of suppliers.


A commission under the leadership of former environment minister Hans Alders was set up to investigate the claims. Its report, published on Monday, said there is ‘no doubt’ the action was deliberate and that people in leadership functions must have been aware of it.

These people are ‘no longer in the jobs and no longer active in the company,’ Vion said in a statement. ‘Encebe supports the Alders commission conclusions and is fully implementing all recommendations to prevent something like this happening again.’

Alders earlier investigated other claims which said the company had been selling factory-farmed meat as more expensive product with a ‘better life’ label. Alders said then there was no evidence of wrong-doing.

Vion is one of the biggest meat processors in Europe, supplying the Albert Heijn and Plus supermarket groups among others. The company booked turnover of €9.5bn in 2011.

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

‘Facebook is Dead and Buried’

This year marked the start of teenagers adopting other social networks instead of Facebook as their parents signed up for Zuckerberg’s site in droves.

In a European Union-funded study on social media, the Department of Anthropology at University College London is running nine simultaneous 15-month ethnographic studies in seven countries to find out how teens were perceiving Facebook.

We read about what UK teens think on The Conversation:…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Flights Cancelled as French Lufthansa Workers Call in Sick

(AGI) Paris, Dec 26 — Twenty-two Lufthansa flights in and out of Charles de Gaulle airport were cancelled when employees from the German airline called in sick. Lufthansa is laying-off 199 employees, 75 percent of its personnel, in France and this action is seen as an unofficial strike. From the moment the lay-offs were announced, French Lufthansa employees have been “tired and depressed” and many have sought medical attention, said a UNSA union representative. Thirteen-hundred passengers have been affected.

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

France Urged to Scrap Veil Ban for School Trips

The French government was urged on Monday to overturn a ban on Muslim mothers wearing the Islamic veil while helping teachers on school trips. The move comes amid criticism of France’s strict application of its secular principles.

France’s Conseil d’Etat (Council of State) told the government to overturn France’s de facto prohibition on Muslim mothers’ wearing the Islamic veil while accompanying pupils and teachers on school trips.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Islamists Take Lawfare to Europe Creating ‘Spiral of Silence’

Over half of the German people admitted to not daring to criticize Islam or Muslims publicly, as documented in a new study.

A discussion paper (German and English) published by the Germany-based Gustav Stresemann Foundation—a think tank dedicated to the preservation and advancement of liberal democracy in Europe—warns that national and international Islamic organizations are increasingly putting pressure on Western politicians gradually to criminalize any critique of Islam.

The author of the report, the German political scientist Felix Strüning, provides a meticulously detailed analysis of the Islamic lobbying effort—by means of a “human rights lawsuit”—to silence Thilo Sarrazin, a prominent German banker who has criticized the refusal of Muslim immigrants to integrate into German society.

During an October 2009 interview with the Berlin-based culture magazine Lettre International, Sarrazin said:

“A large number of Arabs and Turks in this city […] have no productive function except for the fruit and vegetable trade […] The proportion of births among Arabs and Turks is two to three times higher than their corresponding proportion of the population. Large parts [of this population] are neither willing to integrate nor capable of integrating. The solution to this problem can only be to stop letting people in […] except for highly qualified individuals and not provide social welfare for immigrants anymore […].”

“Integration is an effort of people who integrate themselves. I do not have to accept someone who does nothing. I do not have to accept anyone who lives from the state, rejects this state, does not reasonably provide education for his children and constantly produces new little girls in headscarves. This applies to 70% of the Turkish and 90% of the Arab population in Berlin. Many of them do not want integration.”

The Turkish Union in Berlin-Brandenburg (Türkischer Bund Berlin-Brandenburg, TBB) responded by pressing criminal charges against Sarrazin due to alleged incitement-to-hatred (Volksverhetzung). However, German prosecutors concluded that Sarrazin’s statements were protected by the freedom of expression and they ceased their investigation.

The TBB then took its lawsuit to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which was tasked with determining whether Sarrazin’s statements violated the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

In February 2013, CERD decided that Sarrazin’s statements “contain ideas of racial superiority, denying respect as human beings and depicting generalized negative characteristics of the Turkish population.”

CERD also stated that Sarrazin’s statements were “incitement to racial discrimination” because he favors refusing social welfare benefits for Turks and would (with the exception of highly qualified individuals) generally prohibit immigration.

More importantly, CERD criticized Paragraph 130 of the German Criminal Code, the so-called incitement-to-hatred paragraph (Volksverhetzungsparagraf), which protects the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression unless such speech is “capable of disturbing public peace.”

By contrast, the ICERD has a far lower threshold for determining when speech becomes hate speech. For example, the UN convention does not include the stipulation that such speech must be “capable of disturbing public peace.” As a result, Germany has come under pressure from CERN to change its domestic law in order to bring it into conformity with the UN convention.

According to Strüning, if Germany were to remove the legal threshold of “capable of disturbing public peace” from its domestic law, it would be possible to prohibit even fact-based statements about Islam or Muslims, which would amount to “an irreversible curtailment of the right to freedom of expression.”

Although the German government has so far refused to reopen the Sarrazin case, Strüning argues that “CERD demonstrates yet again the imminent dangers to the freedom of expression and other fundamental rights in Europe and the US when representatives of states, which clearly have a completely different understanding of human rights, are allowed to make judgments in the United Nations.” According to Strüning:

“Nation states obviously feel compelled to check whether existing laws have absolute validity or if an adjustment is needed … Dealing with the Muslim immigrant group very clearly presents a completely new political challenge because many Muslims very effectively preserve and hand down their cultural and religious values internally and represent them confidently outwardly.”

Strüning writes that German political authorities are increasingly bending to pressure from German Islamic organizations by adopting Muslim definitions of “Islamophobia” in public discourse, thus creating legal uncertainty as to “who can say what about Islam and Muslims in Germany.”

For example, German authorities have officially confirmed that they are monitoring German-language Internet websites that are critical of Muslim immigration and the Islamization of Europe.

The Hamburg branch of the German domestic intelligence agency (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV) is studying whether German citizens who criticize Muslims and Islam on the Internet are fomenting hate and are thus criminally guilty of “breaching” the German constitution. Meanwhile, the Bavarian branch of the BfV has warned Germans not to “equate Islamism with Islam.”

Strüning concludes:

“Critics of Islamic ideology and its organizations are constantly confronted with lawsuits and have to legally defend themselves against the accusations of blasphemy or incitement-to-hatred. Even if it does not come to a conviction, such processes cost a lot of time and money, which in many cases includes one’s reputation and possibly even his or her job. Thus, also in the West, we are experiencing an increasing de facto application of Islamic law in matters of Islam.”

Already today Germans can see that the so-called “spiral of silence” works in relation to Islam. “In a representative study in Germany, over half of the people surveyed admitted to not daring to criticize Islam or Muslims publicly,” Strüning writes.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Italian ‘Slave’ Posters Pulled Amid Racism Claims

Los Angeles (AFP) — The US studio behind Golden Globe-nominated historical drama “12 Years a Slave,” has asked the film’s Italian distributors to withdraw posters which triggered an online storm over alleged racism.

Lionsgate did not specify why it was asking for the publicity material to be pulled, but a source linked to the Italian distributors said they were in the process of removing “unauthorized” posters of the movie, tipped for glory in Hollywood’s annual awards season.

The Italian posters feature large pictures of Hollywood A-lister Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, who have relatively small parts in the movie, but barely show black actor Chiwetel Ejifor, who plays the main role.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: M5S Leader Grillo to Seek President’s Impeachment

Comedian accused of wanting to wreck institutions

(ANSA) — Rome, December 26 — Beppe Grillo, the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, came under fire on Thursday after saying in a Christmas Day message that he will campaign for President Giorgio Napolitano to be impeached in January. Comedian-turned-politician Grillo has been highly critical of the way Napolitano has used his powers as head of State during a turbulent period for Italian politics.

Napolitano, 88, was instrumental in former premier Mario Monti taking the helm of an emergency technocrat in November 2011, when Silvio Berlusconi’s third government collapsed with Italy looking in danger of suffering a Greek-style financial meltdown.

He also worked hard to create Premier Enrico Letta’s left-right coalition government in April to end two months of deadlock following February’s inconclusive general election.

Furthermore, Grillo has charged that the position of Napolitano, who was reluctantly re-elected president by parliament a week before Letta’s government was sworn in, is no longer legitimate.

His argument is based on the fact that the Constitutional Court recently declared illegitimate the election law that voted in the current parliament. Grillo said that the traditional message the president gives to the national on New Year’s Eve will be Napolitano’s last as “a request for impeachment awaits him in January”. “Impeachment is an act of love to enable him to enjoy a well-earned rest with his family and spend tranquil days with his old friends on the benches of Rome’s Pincian Hill,” Grillo said on his popular blog, which gave life to the M5S in 2009.

“He might even thank us. Merry Christmas Mr President”.

The parties supporting Letta’s government united in blasting Grillo’s threat. “There is only one goal for Grillo’s political strategy and it’s clear — to wreck the institutions and turn Italy into a pile of rubble,” said Roberto Speranza, the Lower House whip for Letta’s centre-left Democratic Party.

“The continuous attacks on the president, who has been the only light in the country’s moral and political storm, confirm that this strategy is sick”.

There has been some speculation that Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia party, which last month pulled its support from Letta’s executive, could vote in favour of Napolitano being impeached.

Berlusconi’s lawmakers voted in favour of Napolitano, a former member of the Communist Party, becoming the first Italian president to be re-elected this year.

But the three-time premier and his party have been highly critical of him after he failed to grant Berlusconi a pardon after a tax-fraud conviction was upheld by the supreme court in August, making it definitive.

Napolitano said he could only consider a pardon if a formal request were made, something that Berlusconi, who has since been stripped of his seat in parliament because of the conviction, refused to do.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Pope Appeals for Persecuted Christians

Francis blasts ‘fairy tale’ images of Christmas on St Stephen’s

(By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) — Vatican City, December 26 — Pope Francis on Thursday continued the busy schedule of his first Christmas as the head of the Catholic Church, making an appeal for persecuted Christians in his angelus address on St Stephen’s Day.

Francis has spoken out several times on behalf of Christian minorities in many parts of the world, especially the Middle East.

His appeal on the feast of St Stephen, Christianity’s first martyr, follows Christmas Day bomb attacks on a Catholic church and a Christian neighbourhood market in Baghdad, Iraq, that killed 38 people. “We are close to those brothers and sisters who, like St.

Stephen, are unjustly accused and subjected to violence of various kinds,” said Francis. “This happens especially where religious freedom is still not guaranteed or not fully realized”.

The pontiff repeated the call via his Twitter account, @Pontifex.

“Before the Nativity scene, may we pray in a particular way for those suffering persecution for the faith,” Francis posted.

The pope called for everyone, atheists included, to unite in working for peace in his first Christmas Day Urbi et Orbi (to the city and world) address on Wednesday.

“I also invite non-believers to desire peace with that yearning that makes the heart grow: all united, either by prayer or by desire,” he said. “But all of us, for peace”.

The 77-year-old pope specifically mentioned conflict in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Francis also took time to raise some smiles on Thursday, praising the many pilgrims who braved the Rome rain to attend his angelus.

“You are afraid of the rain,” he said. “Well done”. On Thursday the pope again talked of the need to return to the true spirit of Christmas, blasting modern “fairy tale” depictions of it. The Argentine pontiff criticised “the false image of Christmas, a fairy-tale, mushy image that does not exist in the Gospel”. He said that a more challenging “authentic sense of incarnation” connects “Bethlehem and the Cross”.

“Divine salvation implies the fight against sin, passing through the narrow door of the Cross,” Francis added. “This is the road that Jesus clearly indicated to his disciples, as the Gospel testifies today”. Francis, who has won over the faithful with his humble, simple, spontaneous style and focus on the poorest and weakest since being elected in March, spoke about returning to the real spirit of the nativity several times in the run-up to his first Christmas as pope. On Monday, for example, he called for a renewed focus on God at Christmas, rather than spending and partying. “Come and let’s open our souls and may our souls be watchful in these days as we wait (for Christmas),” the pope said during Mass at Saint Martha’s House, the Vatican guest house where he lives after spurning the luxury of the papal apartments. “Watch what happens in us. See whether the Lord comes or does not come. See whether there is room for the Lord or there is room for parties, for shopping, for making noise,” added Francis. “Is our soul open, like the holy mother Church is open and the Virgin Mary was open? “Or is our soul closed and have we attached a very polite sign to the door that reads ‘please do not disturb’?”.

The pope will give another angelus address from the window of the papal apartments on Sunday.

On New Year’s Eve he will preside over the celebration of the first Vespers and the traditional signing of the Te Deum for the feast of the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God.

Then, on the morning of January 1, Francis will celebrate Mass and speak on the theme of the Church’s 47th annual World Day of Peace, “Fraternity: the foundation and path for peace”.

The cycle of the Christmas liturgies will conclude on January 6 with Mass celebrating the feast of the Epiphany, marking the baptism of Jesus, as well as a baptism of newborns in the Sistine Chapel.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Russian Church Set to be Built Near Eiffel Tower

French authorities have given permission for a new Russian Orthodox church to be built near the Eiffel Tower, a project that has been blocked since 2010, the Russian embassy said Wednesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Traditional Danish Pastries Threatened by EU Cinnamon Ban

Proposals for an EU ban on cinnamon rolls have put a dampener on Denmark’s Christmas festivities

The season’s festivities in Denmark have been overshadowed by the prospect that it could be the last Danish Christmas before a European Union ban on their beloved kanelsnegler or cinnamon rolls.

The proposed ban followed plans by Denmark’s food safety agency to implement EU regulations aimed at limiting the amount of coumarin, a naturally occurring toxic chemical found in the most commonly used type of cinnamon, cassia.

Under Danish interpretation of the EU legislation the amount of cinnamon in “everyday fine baked goods” will be limited to 15mg per kilo meaning a ban on Kanelsnegler pastries, a winter favourite in all Nordic countries, which take their name from their coiled snail shape.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: £30million for Wind Turbines That Don’t Work When It’s Windy

Cost is £25million higher than last year and paid for by household bills

Wind farms have been paid a record £30million this year to stand idle in bad weather.

The cash, which comes from household bills, is paid when the National Grid is unable to cope with the extra power produced during high winds, or during periods of low demand.

The ‘constraint payments’ have reached £30,424,169 this year, compared with last year’s £5million.

In just one weekend at the start of September, around 40 wind farm firms were paid £2.4million to switch off. The energy they would have produced in that time could have powered up to 10,000 homes.

Another windy weekend in August saw £3.1million handed to energy firms for doing absolutely nothing. Up to 30 wind farms were paid.

John Constable, of the Renewable Energy Foundation charity, which compiled the figures from official data, said: ‘The scale and pricing of wind power constraints in 2013 clearly shows that the full system cost of wind power is much higher than government is willing to admit.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Agony of Mother Whose Daughter ‘Was Murdered and Turned Into Kebab Meat’ After She Was Targeted by Stalker Who Became Obsessed With Case

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

The mother of a teenage girl who was apparently murdered and turned into kebab meat was stalked by a man who became obsessed with her daughter’s killing.

Mark Bailey travelled from New Zealand to meet Karen Downes after he began chatting to her on a website dedicated to the disappearance of her 14-year-old daughter Charlene.

However, when he asked her to abandon her family to be with him she refused, and he ended up assaulting her in the street, a court has heard.

Charlene Downes went missing in 2003, allegedly after having been abused by dozens of men in her home town of Blackpool, Lancashire.

Police believe that she was murdered and her body was disposed of in a mincing machine at a takeaway shop, but no one has ever been convicted of her killing.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Foreign Doctor Attacked Female Patient Who Disagreed With Diagnosis: GP Given Six Month Conditional Discharge

A foreign doctor attacked a female patient in his surgery when she disagreed with his diagnosis.

Dr Abiodun Bale, 42, grabbed Sheena Cunningham as she tried to leave his consultation room in tears after they argued over treatment for a facial condition.

The doctor from Nigeria denied assault when he appeared in court but was found guilty after a two-day trial.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: The Burglar Who Returned to Rape His Victim… and the Awesome Courage That Saved Her

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

‘Then I saw him. I immediately realised I was in serious danger and knew instinctively it was the same man who had stolen my belongings two days before.

‘In that awful moment, the training I had done when I began work as an airline stewardess kicked in.

‘Keeping my voice as steady as I could, I said: “What’s your name? What are you doing here?”

‘He replied: “My name is Josh and I am 19.”‘

Police would later discover that he was Joseph Innocent Mwaura — a Kenyan who had committed a violent knife crime within a year of being granted a British passport at the age of 16.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Interfaith Outreach in Kosovo: Orthodox Church Turned Into Public Toilet and Garbage Dump

Orthodox church dedicated to the Beheading of St. John the Baptist in the village of Samodreza near Vucitrn, was desecrated and turned into a garbage dump. The altar of this Serbian shrine, built on the place where Prince Lazar received communion with the army before the Battle of Kosovo, Albanian children turned into a public toilet, writes “Kurir”.

“The holy temple was destroyed back in 1999, and in recent years Albanian children keep throwing garbage in it. We tried several times to stop the further desecration through the international community and proposed placement of brass doors and windows, but the Albanian community opposes renewal,” said Bishop of Raska and Prizren Teodosije for “Telegraf”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Egypt Arrests Dozens Under New Anti-Terror Law

Egypt increased pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday, detaining at least 38 of its supporters on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization the day after it was declared one by the government, security officials said.

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief who led the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July, said the country would be “steadfast” in the face of terrorism, after a small bomb went off in Cairo, wounding five people.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Libya: At Least 8 Dead in Cyrenaica Clashes

Fighting between tribes may exacerbate tension

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, DECEMBER 24 — At least eight people, five soldiers and three civilians, have lost their lives in clashes in the Sarir area in southern Cyrenaica and the coastal city of Ajdabiya in eastern Libya, reports Libyan news agency LANA.

The clashes are thought to have originated in grievances between tribes on December 21, when an armed group from the Zwei ethnic group attacked and plundered an agricultural project, say local sources.

The clashes continued for two days and then spread to the city of Ajdabiya. Sources say that the attackers are heavily armed and that there is concern that the recent clashes may exacerbate existing tension between the two communities, between which deadly fighting has broke out in the past.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

More Bogus Reporting From “60 Minutes” On Benghazi

Susan Rice is perhaps best known for her role in the Benghazi, Libya attacks, after which she went on five Sunday talk shows to explain to the American people that, indeed, these terrorist attacks were birthed out of spontaneous protests in reaction to a YouTube video that had inflamed the Islamic world at the time. Both assumptions were proven to be false, and Rice was accused of purposefully misleading the American people. Since then, some in the media have claimed that Rice received a “bad rap” — and that at issue was a rivalry between various departments within the government.

Last weekend, in a puff piece which should make the Obama administration blush at its coziness, CBS’s “60 Minutes” featured Susan Rice and attempted to cast her as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reborn — a stillborn Secretary of State who CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl called the “quarterback of American foreign policy” in her role as National Security Advisor to the President. Clearly Stahl meant that as a compliment, and perhaps a dig at Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been clocking the miles.

The segment just adds inaccuracies onto the falsehoods perpetuated by the show’s last segment on Benghazi, this time tilting politically in favor of the administration.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Morocco Dismantles Terror Cell in Several Cities, Arrests Fundraiser

RABAT, Morocco — Morocco’s government says a terror cell active in several cities has been dismantled, and a convict believed to have spearheaded nationwide fundraising and recruiting is among those arrested.

The Interior Ministry said Thursday it was the fifth terror cell discovered this year in Morocco. Among those arrested were several “who have trained with terrorist organizations in the handling of various weapons and explosives,” the statement said.

Anas el Haloui, who organizes legal defense for detained Moroccan Salafists, said about 50 Moroccans have been arrested after returning from Syria. Morocco, like many other countries, fears that fighters will be radicalized and return with war experience they will use against their homelands.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Kerry Proposes Massive Fence on Jordan Border

Israeli drones and patrols also included in security plan

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV — US Secretary of State John Kerry’s security proposals presented to Israel and the Palestinians as part of ongoing peace talks include the building of a “massive” security fence on the Jordanian border, Israeli army radio reported Tuesday.

In an attempt to meet Israeli demands on the issue of security (once the withdrawal from the West Bank has been completed), Kerry was reported by the broadcaster as saying that the Israeli army would continue to be able to patrol the border between the West Bank and Jordan, initially alone and later alongside Palestinian forces. Kerry also proposed that Israeli drones have unrestricted access to the airspace over the West Bank.

Palestinian leaders have recently expressed dissatisfaction with Kerry’s mediation efforts, while Israel simply said that his latest proposals would be the basis for a future agreement.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Funeral Held for British Doctor Who Died in Government Detention in Syria; Inquest Planned

The funeral has taken place at a London mosque of a British doctor who died while in government custody in Syria. Dr. Abbas Khan, a surgeon, died just days before he was apparently due to be released from Syrian government detention. The Syrian government said he took his own life. His family rejects this claim.

Brother Shahnawaz Khan said at the funeral at the Regent’s Park Mosque Thursday that his brother was “the kindest and simplest man I’ve ever met.” The 32-year-old Khan was captured in November last year after he entered Syria to work in a hospital.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Syria Signs Deal With Russian Firm to Drill Offshore for Oil and Gas

The Syrian government has signed a contract in Damascus with a Russian company to search for offshore oil and gas in Syrian waters. Reports say the deal with Soyuzneftegaz spans 25 years and the costs will be met by the firm, which was represented at the signing ceremony by the Russian ambassador.

Moscow has refused to back Western sanctions against its ally.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Anti-Santa Campaigns Heat Up as Christmas Arrives

“Muslim, return to yourself!”

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, DECEMBER 24 — A Muslim youth group and a neighborhood authority led two separate anti-Santa campaigns on the eve of Christmas in Turkey, as daily Hurriyet online reports. The Istanbul University branch of a group called Anatolia Youth Association (AGD) released an illustration of a Muslim youth punching Santa Claus in the face and announced that it would make a press statement against Christmas on December 26 in Istanbul. The group announced the event with a statement titled “Muslim, return to yourself!” adding that “Christmas is a Christianity practice.” The group also criticized the celebration of New Year’s Day, saying that the two dates were “mixed” and “united.” It claimed that celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Day was “wrong” and constituted “a blow dealt to Muslimism.” Earlier this week, the Sirinevler muhtar, the head of the neighborhood, hung a banner making it clear that Santa Claus was not welcome on their streets. “As in recent years, Santa Claus will not be coming to Sirinevler since he is nothing to do with our traditions and our culture,” muhtar Galip Karayigit said in the statement. “(Turk legend character) Dede Korkut will come to our houses again, and will teach our children that they did not come into this world for pleasure, that they came to distribute justice.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Under Mounting Pressure, Turkey Premier Shuffles Cabinet

Prime Minister Erdogan Condemns Corruption Probe

ISTANBUL—Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suffered the worst blow in his decade in power when an old friend quit the cabinet and called for his resignation—the latest fallout from a corruption investigation that threatens to undermine the leadership of an important strategic partner for the West.

The public chastisement came after the premier pushed Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar, who has served alongside Mr. Erdogan since the 1990s, and two other ministers to resign Wednesday. Each has a son who has been implicated in the graft investigation.

In a late-night news conference after an unscheduled meeting with President Abdullah Gul, Mr. Erdogan fired a fourth minister and announced a broad new cabinet lineup.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Wife: Saudi Blogger Recommended for Apostasy Trial

(CNN) — A judge in Saudi Arabia has recommended that imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi go before a high court on a charge of apostasy, which would carry the death penalty upon conviction, according to Badawi’s wife.

Ensaf Haidar initially told CNN on Wednesday that her husband had been sentenced to death. She later clarified to CNN that a judge has recommended he be tried for denouncing Islam, or apostasy. Apostasy carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, according to Amnesty International.

In July, a Jeddah criminal court found Badawi, who has been in prison since June 2012, guilty of insulting Islam through his Free Saudi Liberals website and in television comments. Badawi was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. His lawyer appealed the decision.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Yasser Arafat Died of Natural Causes Says Russian Report

Yasser Arafat died of natural causes not radiation poisoning, according to Russian forensics experts. They are the latest to give an opinion on the former Palestinian leader’s mysterious death in 2004.

His body was exhumed eight years later and samples taken by Swiss, French and Russian scientists. It followed a TV documentary which said Arafat’s clothes showed high amounts of deadly polonium 210.

The Swiss said their tests were consistent with polonium poisoning but not absolute proof of the cause of death.

France, which had opened a murder inquiry, ultimately agreed with Russia that the

75-year-old was not, in fact, killed by polonium.

The official cause of death was a stroke but, nearly a decade after Arafat’s funeral, many Palestinians are convinced that Israel killed him — a charge it denies.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

American Abducted in Pakistan Calls for US Help, Says He Feels ‘Abandoned’

A 72-year-old American who was kidnapped in Pakistan by Al Qaeda more than two years ago appealed to President Obama in a newly-released video to negotiate his release, saying he feels “totally abandoned and forgotten.”

The video of Warren Weinstein, who is a development worker, was the first since two videos were released in September 2012. Weinstein, the country director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a U.S.-based firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors, was abducted from his house in the eastern city of Lahore in August 2011.

In the video sent Thursday to reporters in Pakistan including The Associated Press, Weinstein called on the U.S. government to help set him free.

“Nine years ago I came to Pakistan to help my government, and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here, and now when I need my government it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten,” Weinstein said during the 13-minute video. “And so I again appeal to you to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Leaving Afghanistan

On December 31, the United States is slated to begin removing its troops from Afghanistan. They have been there since shortly after 9/11 in 2001. At this writing, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a security agreement that would permit contingents of U.S. and allied troops there to train and assist its security forces beyond the end of 2014.

Karzai says we have different definitions for terrorists. They were and they are the Taliban. He wants to negotiate with them. On Christmas day they attacked the U.S. embassy in Kabul. No one was injured.

In late December, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey, held a Pentagon press conference in which they asserted that the Afghan security forces are capable of “overcoming and, in most cases, overwhelming their Taliban competitors for control of Afghanistan,” but that they “lack confidence.” In addition, they face a political transition in their central government, the outcome of which is unpredictable…

At the heart of the Afghan and Iraq problem is Islam, its long battle between Sunnis and Shiites, and its enduring hatred of Christians, Jews and all other faiths.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

China and S. Korea Angry Over Japan PM’s Visit to Controversial Shrine

Japan’s relations with South Korea and China are more strained following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to a controversial shrine. Abe has drawn criticism from Seoul and Beijing by going to the Yasukuni Shrine — the burial site of Japanese leaders deemed war criminals by an Allied tribunal. The conservative prime minister is keen to restore pride in Japan’s military past.

During the Second World War, Japan occupied large parts of China. The two countries are currently embroiled in a row over islands in the East China Sea.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

China Targets Moon Sample-Return Mission in 2017

As China’s Chang’e 3 lander and Yutu rover mission to the moon unfolds, the country’s space authorities are pushing forward on their next stage of lunar progress — gathering select samples of the moon and rocketing them back to Earth.

China plans to launch the unmanned sample-return mission, known as Chang’e 5, in 2017, signaling the third stage in the country’s lunar exploration plans, officials said.

“The development of Chang’e 5 is proceeding smoothly,” Wu Zhijian, a spokesman for China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, said in a Dec. 16 press conference.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

China Celebrates Mao’s Birthday, But Events Scaled Back

(Reuters) — China celebrated the 120th birthday of Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China, on Thursday, but with scaled-back festivities as President Xi Jinping embarks on broad economic reforms which have unsettled leftists.

Mao has become a potent symbol for leftists within the ruling Communist Party who feel that three decades of market-based reform have gone too far, creating social inequalities like a yawning rich-poor gap and pervasive corruption.

In venerating Mao, they sometimes seek to put pressure on the current leadership and its market-oriented policies while managing to avoid expressing open dissent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Japan PM’s Visit to Controversial War Shrine Draws Protest From China, South Korea

Representatives of China and South Korea condemned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to a shrine honoring Japan’s war dead Thursday, while the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said it was “disappointed” in the leader’s action.

Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni shrine was the first by a sitting prime minister since Junichiro Koizumi went to mark the end of World War II in 2006. The prime minister, wearing a formal black jacket with tails and striped, gray pants, spent about 15 minutes at the Shinto shrine in central Tokyo. TV cameras followed him inside the shrine property, but were not allowed in the inner shrine where he paid respects to the war dead.

“I prayed to pay respect for the war dead who sacrificed their precious lives and hoped that they rest in peace,” Abe told waiting reporters immediately afterward.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

New Bomber Can Nuke US Military Bases, Brags Chinese State Media

Beijing’s bellicose rhetoric intensifies

Chinese state media is once again bragging about Beijing’s military prowess, touting the fact that China’s new H-6K strategic bomber can attack U.S. military bases in South Korea as well as the Japanese mainland using long range nuclear cruise missiles.

The report features on the prominent pro-Communist Party news website Want China Times.

“With a range of between 1,500 and 2,000 kilometers, the CJ-10 meets the requirements of the PLA Air Force to possess the capability to launch strategic missile attacks against US military facilities and those of its allies in the Western Pacific,” states the report.

The article also lauds the fact that the H-6K can target the Japanese mainland without even leaving Chinese airspace, in addition to Russian cities in the far east, all major cities in India, as well as Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, “in a potential war against Southeast Asian neighbors over territories in the South China Sea.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Military in Hot Pursuit of Islamic Extremists Who Abducted Wives, Kids in Attack on Barracks

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Witnesses say Nigeria’s military is in hot pursuit of Islamic extremists who abducted soldiers’ wives and children when they attacked a barracks in northeast Nigeria.

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade said security forces have killed at least 50 insurgents in an ongoing operation to catch the attackers. He said 15 soldiers and five civilians died in Friday’s attack on a tank battalion in Bama and in the pursuit.

Babagana Bama, a resident of the town, said the extremists took off with many women and children and were strafed by a fighter jet. The attackers set the entire complex ablaze.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UN Security Council Acts Quickly on South Sudan

Intent on not looking the other way and abandoning civilians in danger as the United Nations and the international community were accused of doing in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990’s, the UN Security Council acted with unusual speed. On December 24th, it passed unanimously a resolution addressing the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in South Sudan. The resolution called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and authorized an increase in the overall force levels of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

UNMISS currently has approximately 7,600 peacekeeping forces in South Sudan, with a budget close to a billion dollar a year. But the present force levels proved to be incapable of preventing attacks by thousands of rampaging armed rebels on the civilians whom UNMISS was tasked to protect. Indeed, the UN peacekeepers were also fired upon, and at least one UN base was overrun by armed youths who vastly outnumbered the UN defenders.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Cubans Lost at Sea as Castro Brothers Gloat Over Obama’s Handshake

President Obama gave the Castro brothers a propaganda victory when shaking hands with counterpart Raul at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. But that victory and Obama’s bumbling good intentions meant nothing to six ordinary Cubans who, on Christmas Eve, were declared lost at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Cubans — three men and three women — were no doubt aware of the handshake brouhaha when they departed the Dominican Republic on December 17 on an illegal boat trip to Puerto Rico, after alerting relatives in the United States to their estimated arrival date. To them, Obama’s handshake wasn’t a gesture likely to improve their dead-end lives — not in a country designated by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism and regularly condemned by human rights groups.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Piranha Attack in Argentina Reportedly Leaves at Least 70 Injured

A piranha feeding frenzy in Argentina reportedly has left at least 70 people injured, including seven children who lost parts of their fingers and toes. The attack took place on Christmas morning off a beach in the Parana River, near the city of Rosario.

Gustavo Centurion, a medical official, said the attack was “very aggressive,” according to Sky News. At least 70 people were injured, The Associated Press reports.

Local newspaper La Capital reported that a 7-year-old girl had part of her finger amputated after suffering bites from the fish, which were described as a piranha cousin called palometas.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sixty Hurt in Argentina Piranha Attack

Buenos Aires (AFP) — Piranhas on a Christmas Day feeding frenzy injured some 60 people in the Argentine city of Rosario, officials said Thursday. Those injured in the attack Wednesday by the ferocious fish included a girl who lost part of a finger, Health Undersecretary Gabriela Quintanilla told reporters.

Quintanilla said the attack occurred Wednesday off the coast of Rosario, some 310 kilometers (200 miles) north of Buenos Aires.

A medical official, Gustavo Centurion, said the attack which began at mid-morning on Christmas Day was “very aggressive.” “There were some people that the fish literally had torn bits of flesh from,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy Transfers Migrants From Scandal-Hit Centre

Italy on Tuesday transferred migrants from a centre on the tiny island of Lampedusa at the heart of a controversy over unsanitary conditions and mistreatment, as protests continued in other facilities.

Nine migrants at an expulsion centre near Rome’s airport have also sewn their mouths shut and a total of 37 are on hunger strike, said the director of the centre, Vincenzo Lutrelli, Italian media reported.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Migrant Boat Intercepted Off Greece Coast

A boat carrying nearly 100 migrants said to be from Syria and Afghanistan has been intercepted off the Greek coast. It was towed to safety by the coast guard after running into trouble off the coast of Pylos in the southwestern Peloponnese.

Three people on the boat have been arrested on charges of people smuggling.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Nine in 10 Babies Born in Parts of Britain Have a Foreign Parent

Iain Duncan Smith vows to end ‘something for nothing’ culture for migrants as official figures reveal that nine in 10 babies born in parts of Britain have a foreign parent

Almost nine in 10 babies born in parts of Britain have at least one foreign-born parent, official figures have revealed for the first time.

The Office for National Statistics disclosed that in 2012 more than 80 per cent of babies born in three London boroughs had either one or both parents born outside the UK.

Across London, nearly seven in 10 babies had at least one non-British father or mother, while across England and Wales the figure was one in three.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UN Accused of Interfering Over Immigration

United Nations should focus on key issues such as Syrian refugees rather than “interfering” in British policy, senior MPs warn

The UN is wasting tens of millions of pounds that it receives in British aid “interfering” in domestic immigration policy and should focus on issues such as the Syrian refugee crisis, senior MPs have said.

The comments came after António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, criticised David Cameron’s proposed immigration laws limiting the right of new migrants to access bank accounts and some NHS services immediately. The commissioner said the reforms would create a “climate of ethnic profiling” and “prove detrimental to social cohesion”.

But Andrew Mitchell, who as international development secretary from 2010-12 oversaw tens of millions in British aid handed to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), dismissed the suggestions. He said the commission was working beyond its “mandate” and must show British tax payers it was providing “value for money” for the aid it received.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Enough of Gay Tyranny

Back in the 60s and 70s the small minority of homosexuals made some logical arguments regarding incidents of violence and discrimination towards those who openly proclaim their same sex sexuality. Many of us agreed that no one should be beaten, killed or denied job opportunity just because some disapprove of their life style. We were assured back then, those in the homosexual community just wanted to be treated fairly and protected from blatant violence. If only it had stopped there.

Some 50 years later, the homosexual community has slowly gotten a strangle hold on all segments of American society. They have even gone so far as to change our vocabulary. We can no longer refer to them as homosexual, but now must use the word “gay”. If you oppose the lifestyle, you are referred to as a “homophobe”. It should be noted there is no such word as homophobe. They made it up. They also perverted the word “gay” to fit their lifestyle.

The gay agenda has used Stalinist tactics to shut down any criticism of them. Professional and college athletes and coaches are severely punished if they ever criticize a homosexual or the gay life style. Public figures are excoriated in the media or fired from their jobs. Television and radio are required to continually broadcast shows trumpeting the virtues of being gay. Athletes and media stars are celebrated when they “come out of the closet”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

WWE Pits ‘Good’ Black Santa vs. ‘Bad’ White Santa

The month of December has been filled with the pseudo-controversy about the pigment of Santa Claus’ skin. Megyn Kelly of Fox News said she was joking when she insisted Santa was white, but that didn’t stop her from being ripped by almost every liberal pundit on the airways. But now, thanks to the WWE the question has been resolved.

On WWE Raw Monday night, a black “good Santa” and a white “bad Santa” fought in a Christmas brawl. “Bad Santa’s trying to ruin Christmas for the entire world,” the announcers said as the white villain pulled the star off the top of the tree to use as a weapon. They warned that “Christmas could be canceled” if the bad white Santa prevailed.

But in the end a massive good black Santa body slam settled the question and helped “save Christmas” once and for all.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Making Waves: In the Hunt for Invisibility, Other Benefits Seen

(Reuters) — A new way of assembling things, called metamaterials, may in the not too distant future help to protect a building from earthquakes by bending seismic waves around it. Similarly, tsunami waves could be bent around towns, and soundwaves bent around a room to make it soundproof.

While the holy grail of metamaterials is still to make objects and people invisible to the eye, they are set to have a more tangible commercial impact playing more mundane roles — from satellite antennas to wirelessly charging cellphones.

Metamaterials are simply materials that exhibit properties not found in nature, such as the way they absorb or reflect light. The key is in how they’re made.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

WHO: Cancer Risk Rising Around the World; Western Medicine Failing Globally

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued dire new predictions about the spread of cancer throughout the world that prove the Western model of medicine to be a complete failure. Within the next 10 years, the public health arm of the United Nations claims, cancer rates will increase by more than 25 percent, with most of this growth expected to occur in developing countries that have been heavily infiltrated by Western influences.

By 2025, WHO claims, the annual number of new cancer diagnoses is expected to increase by roughly 37 percent, rising from a current annual total of about 14.1 million people to a shocking 19.3 million people. The number of cancer patients that will end up dying from the disease or its corresponding treatment is also expected to rise by about 39 percent, jumping from a current total of about 8.2 million people annually to 11.4 million people.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

9 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/26/2013

  1. I’ve had it with the repeated posting of anti-gay stuff on Gates of Vienna. The counter-jihad movement is full of people who are incapable of separating the fight against islam (which should unite everyone) from their personal hatred of gay people and homosexuality.

    It’s clear that muslims will triumph in the west: as the ethnic cleansing of gay people from east London has shown, muslims are picking off different groups, just as Mohammed did in Arabia. And the homophobes in the counterjihad movement are just as responsible for the future success of islam as are the gay Leftists.

    The virulent homophobes who post on Gates of Vienna can at least take consolation in the fulfillment of their long-desired oppression of gay people. I’ll be dead and gone, but its your grandchildren who will be forcibly converted to islam. I hope you enjoy your pyrrhic victory.

    • I’ll call the [bovine ordure].
      There was no anti-homosexual posting here. There was one defending any individuals right, including homosexuals, to a life without violence and being discriminated against.
      However, when cultural Marxism or other totalitarian views is piggybacked onto a individual rights cause, under the guise of homosexual, LBGT, feminism or any other groups lending out their cause to be a left-wing propaganda vessel, leaning towards a groups supremacism within a field of society, expect it to be criticized.
      Homosexuals must accept criticism when someone thinks they are wrong, just like any other individual or group.
      A homosexual calling down the wrath of Islam on other peoples grandchildren is rather laughable from my perspective, and totally discredits this particular “representative” of the homosexual cause as a credible representative of anything but cultural Marxism.

      • I find myself conflicted here. I have considerable sympathy with Joe’s comments, and he might be shocked at some of the comments by apparent Christian fundamentalists on, say Jihad Watch. But I’ve been alerted to, and disgusted by, some of the excesses of some of the gay “community” quoted by other posters here, which I find difficult to reconcile with my mainly positive experiences of the many gay men I’ve known.

        Repeating my previous quote from the late Canadian author, Robertson Davies, “The love that dare not speak its name has become the love that doesn’t know when to shut up”. Most people in the Western democracies have got over their prejudices, in this and other areas, and those who haven’t are unlikely to change, so anti-“homophobic” campaigners, if sincere, would, like feminists who excuse Islamist misogyny, be better employed addressing not only why Russia has got the Winter Olympics, but why Qatar will be hosting the (soccer) World Cup?

        • Where does the Robertson Davies quote appear? I have read all his books, and own a few from back in the day when we bought books. He and Stephen Leacock were two of my favorite Canadian authors from that period.

          • You’ve got me racking my brains here, Dymphna. I think it was not in one of Davies’ novels, but either Judith Skelton Grant’s collection “The Enthusiasms of Robertson Davies” (which I have, but forgive me if I don’t trawl through it), or more likely a posthumous biography a former friend loaned me, which I can’t find after some time trawling the Internet. Sorry!

        • Feminism professional homosexuality et al are designed to humiliate the ordinary guy. It’s all about smashing the patriarchy! A patriarchy that is as much a myth and straw man as any scarecrow in a field of corn.

          • ‘A patriarchy that is as much a myth and straw man as any scarecrow in a field of corn.’


            Such a myopic view of human civilizational history that you have!

  2. Joe seems to equate criticism of an issue, such as homosexuality – that has been turned into a battering ram by some supporters of the homosexual cause against those who are prescient enough to see the harm that will inevitably flow from the ‘normalizing’ of such practises – as the denigrating and demonizing of those who push the issue.

    Does Joe believe that wearing his ‘sexuality’ on his sleeve entitles him to special treatment as the ‘victim’ of a society that grants special status to its minorities? Maybe Joe believes that his ‘special status’ also grants him special privileges against the vast majority of the population who do not share his ideals nor his status?

    Privileges such as special laws set in place to limit any criticism aimed at his special status and to demonize those who feel compelled to criticize through name calling, which may also include financial and political machinations aimed at limiting the critic’s rightful access to personal/occupational promotion, does not win friends!

    You see Joe, when a society refuses to allow any criticism of that which to any reasonable person should be criticized, and that society is no longer willing to publicly examine and debate those things that should be publicly examined and debated to maintain the common good of that society, then that society is doomed to fail!

    We are all humans first. Our laws are made for who we are and not for what we may wish to practise in the privacy of our homes. Homosexuality should never be used by a minority as a battering ram to force acceptance of the practise onto the majority. That kind of behaviour is more attuned to the practises of fascist totalitarian states and is hardly democratic in its application.

    You choose to be part of the minority Joe, learn to live with it and stop whining!

  3. I don’t think Joe is asking for special treatment, just ordinary respect. So unless you have reason to believe that he’s one of the homosexuals demanding such, please get off his case!

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