Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/17/2014

Authorities in Beijing have warned the public to stay indoors to avoid being harmed by dangerous levels of smog in the city. The concentration of particulates in the air was almost twenty times higher than the maximum considered safe.

In other news, four supporters of former President Morsi were shot dead during clashes with police in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis.

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

Thanks to Blue Ridge Forum, C. Cantoni, Caroline Glick, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Jerry Gordon, JP, MC, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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

Financial Crisis
» Gap Between Rich and Poor the Biggest Threat to Global Economy — World Economic Forum
» Hispanics Led the Housing Bubble, Blacks Did Not
» Dems to Double Down on Climate Lie
» IRS Targeting and 2014
» Latinos Set to Surpass Whites in California in March
» Mac Slavo: Why I Cannot Support Concealed Carry Weapons Permits (And Why You Shouldn’t Either!)
» Newtown Sees Huge Jump in Pistol Permit Bids Since Shooting
» ‘NSA Report Calls for Outrageous Proposals’
» Obama to Call for Overhaul of N.S.A.’s Phone Data Collection Program
» Obama Orders NSA Phone Data Limits, Tighter Restrictions for Spying on International Leaders
» Records Prove Muslim Brotherhood Delegates Skipped Airport Inspections
» Shredding the Layers of the ObamaCare Onion
» Trespasser Freed From Pipe at United Water Plant in New Jersey, Faces Criminal Charges
» Why Are Dozens of High Ranking Officers Being Purged From the U.S. Military?
» Will SCOTUS Reverse Obama’s Recess Appointment Power Grab?
» Anti-Oil Sands Lobbying (Video)
Europe and the EU
» Church Confronted by UN Over Child Abuse Scandals
» EU, Germany React Strongly to Anti-Protest Bills in Ukraine
» France: Hollande’s Unpopularity Unaffected by Affair Allegations
» Greek Central Bank Chief, TV Journalist, Sent Threatening Letters Containing Bullets
» Italian Philosopher Politician Slammed as Anti-Semite
» Italy: Confindustria Chief Slams New EU Environmental Targets
» Italy at Risk of Medicine Shortage Due to Exports
» Italy: Renzi Blasts Govt for Inaction on Reforms
» Italy: Letta to Use ‘International’ Stage to Save Marines
» Italy: Must Include Local Leaders in Syria Weapon Plan, Says Lupi
» Italy: Renzi Defends Possible Talks With Berlusconi
» Italy: Nun Gives Birth to Baby Boy in Rieti
» Italy: American Diplomat Ran Consulate Like Party Pad: Suit
» Norway Populists See Support Plummet
» Norway a Target for More Terror
» Pope Benedict Defrocked 400 Priests in 2 Years
» UK: Drunk Driver Reverts to Islam
» UK: Muslim Council in Drive to Get More of Their Community to Donate Blood
» UK: Tony Blair’s Cultural Revolution Has Won, At Least in the Conservative Party
» Wartime Ammunition Still Rotting in German Waters
» World War I Centenary: The Symbolic Power of French Victory
North Africa
» Egypt: Health Ministry — One Dead, 33 Injured in Thursday Violence
» Egypt: Seven Morsi Supporters Killed in Clashes With Police
» Key Tuareg Rebel Group Abandons Talks With Mali Government Hosted by Algeria
» Military Gets More Power in Egypt Constitution, Less Islam
» Militants Blow Up Gas Pipeline in Egypt’s Sinai
» Tunisian Amnesty for 689 Detainees Excludes Rapper, Blogger
Israel and the Palestinians
» Caroline Glick: The Truth Hurts
» Officials: Gaza Ceasefire is Dead
Middle East
» American Appeasement of Iran Endangers the Persian Gulf
» Daniel Pipes: Has Iran Gained a Foothold in the Arabian Peninsula?
» Erdogan Pushing Internet Censorship Forward
» Sidelined Syrian Kurds Look for New Allies
» Turkey: Gezi Protest Icon ‘Woman in Red’ Cleared of Charges
» Turkey: Corruption Scandal, Democracy at Risk for Opposition
» Weapons Inspectors: Syrian Chemical Weapons Fired From Rebel-Held Territory
South Asia
» Afghanistan: ‘Suicide Bomb’ Explodes Near Popular Restaurant in Kabul
» Afghanistan: Taliban ‘Confident of Victory’ Over NATO
» Afghan Police Say Suicide Bomber Attacks Popular Kabul Restaurant; Reports of Casualties
» American POW’s Fate Could Hang in Balance as US, Afghanistan Struggle to Strike Security Pact
» Dozens Injured in Explosion Targeting Protesters in Central Bangkok
» India’s Defenseless Women
» Indonesian Mineral Export Ban May Hurt Miners
» Thailand’s Social Divide ‘Will Take Generations to Bridge’
Far East
» Beijing’s Mayor Urges “All-Out Effort” To Curb Air Pollution
» China Tells People to Stay Indoors as Smog Hits Danger Levels
» Japan: Tokyo Ordered to Pay Muslims
» Japanese Soldier From WWII, Who Hid in Jungle for Decades Refusing to Believe War Was Over, Dies at 91
» Natural Ball Lightning Probed for the First Time
» No End to China’s Notorious Re-Education Camps
» Smog in China Prompts Authorities to Display Sun on Giant Screens
» Southeast, East Asia Build Up Naval Capabilities
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Kenya: Qaeda Militia Chiefs Killed in KDF Attack
» Nelson Mandela Family Feud Resumes as They Await Reading of Will
» Nigeria: Why Jonathan Sacked Ibrahim, Ihejirika, Ezeoba
» What a Lost Prison Manuscript Reveals About the Real Nelson Mandela
Latin America
» Deadline Looms for Panama Canal Dispute; Effects of Work Stoppage Would be Felt Worldwide
» Ann Coulter: ‘The Country Has Not Voted to Turn Itself Into Mexico’
» Asylum Seekers Continue Search for Support in Brazil
» Italy: Northern League Senators Hold Sit-in on Migrant Law
» Italy’s Cecile Kyenge Calls for Action on Rising Racism
» Kyenge ‘Working Against Italians’, Northern League Says
» The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on Texans (2014)
Culture Wars
» Are We Forgetting Fathers Matter?
» Black Actress Reviled by Racists for Marrying a White Man
» Italian Olympic Official Makes Half Apology for Gay Remarks
» No Room at the Inn for the Gideon Bible
» Obama to Nominate First Black Lesbian Judge in 20 Years
» Domesticated Dogs May Have Lived With Hunter-Gatherers
» Gauging the Jihadist Movement: Its Goals
» Genetically Modified Corn: Even the Animals Know Better…
» Think Tank: “Extraordinary Crisis” Needed to Preserve “New World Order”

Gap Between Rich and Poor the Biggest Threat to Global Economy — World Economic Forum

Growing income inequality is the biggest risk the world may face within the next 10 years. It has already squeezed the middle class in both developed and emerging economies, the World Economic Forum (WEF) warns.

The report, compiled with the help of over 700 global experts, warns against the chronic gap between the incomes of the richest and poorest people. It’ll become the risk that is “most likely to cause serious damage globally in the coming decade,” the report said.

In a number of countries, particularly in Europe, youth unemployment has risen to extremes. Greece and Spain have nearly 60 percent of their under-25s out of work.

A separate report by Credit Swiss classified Russia in October 2013 as a nation with the highest level of wealth inequality in the world. All the world billionaires hold about 1 to 2 percent of total household wealth; while in Russia 110 billionaires own 35 percent of national household wealth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Hispanics Led the Housing Bubble, Blacks Did Not

By Steve Sailer

A recent academic study of a big panel of households found that mortgage delinquency rates among Hispanics were 4.7 times the rate among whites by 2009.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Dems to Double Down on Climate Lie

Democrats in the US Senate are concerned, it seems, that not enough Americans are buying into the hoax of Global Warming/Climate Change. So they propose doing what Democrats always do when the public refuses to accept their lies … ram it down our throats.

Some democrats in the Senate intend to bring pressure to bear on the broadcast and cable news networks to be more aggressive in spreading the Climate Change propaganda to their viewers.

We learned the following from the National Journal recently in an article entitled: “Democrats Plan to Pressure TV Networks Into Covering Climate Change:”…

I came across a blog site recently that I think pretty much sums up why we oughtn’t to place any trust, at all, in those who purvey the Global Warming/Climate Change lies and propaganda.

Here are some of the hilarious, spectacularly wrong predictions made on the occasion of Earth Day 1970:…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

IRS Targeting and 2014

Democrats are working hard to make sure conservative groups are silenced in the 2014 midterms.

President Obama and Democrats have been at great pains to insist they knew nothing about IRS targeting of conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofits before the 2012 election. They’ve been at even greater pains this week to ensure that the same conservative groups are silenced in the 2014 midterms.

That’s the big, dirty secret of the omnibus negotiations. As one of the only bills destined to pass this year, the omnibus was—behind the scenes—a flurry of horse trading. One of the biggest fights was over GOP efforts to include language to stop the IRS from instituting a new round of 501(c)(4) targeting. The White House is so counting on the tax agency to muzzle its political opponents that it willingly sacrificed any manner of its own priorities to keep the muzzle in place.

The fight was sparked by a new rule that the Treasury Department and the IRS introduced during the hush of Thanksgiving recess, ostensibly to “improve” the law governing nonprofits. What the rule in fact does is recategorize as “political” all manner of educational activities that 501(c)(4) social-welfare organizations currently engage in.

It’s IRS targeting all over again, only this time by administration design and with the raw political goal—as House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) notes—of putting “tea party groups out of business.”

This week’s Democratic rally-round further highlights the intensely political nature of their IRS rule. It was quietly dropped in the runup to the holiday season, to minimize the likelihood of an organized protest during its comment period. That 90-day comment period meantime ends on Feb. 27, positioning the administration to shut down conservative groups early in this election cycle.


Mr. Camp’s committee has meanwhile noted that Treasury appears to have reverse-engineered the carefully tailored rule—combing through the list of previously targeted tea party groups, compiling a list of their main activities and then restricting those functions

And an IRS rule that purports to—as Mr. Werfel explained—”improve our work in the tax-exempt area” completely ignores the biggest of political players in the tax-exempt area: unions. The guidance is directed only at 501(c)(4) social-welfare groups—the tax category that has of late been flooded by conservative groups. Mr. Obama’s union foot soldiers—which file under 501(c)(5)—can continue playing in politics.

Treasury is also going to great lengths to keep secret the process behind its rule. Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who represents targeted tea party groups, in early December filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Treasury and the IRS, demanding documents or correspondence with the White House or outside groups in the formulation of this rule. By law, the government has 30 days to respond. Treasury sent a letter to Ms. Mitchell this week saying it wouldn’t have her documents until April—after the rule’s comment period closes. It added that if she didn’t like it, she can “file suit.” The IRS has yet to respond.

Mr. Camp has now authored stand-alone legislation to rein in the IRS, though the chance of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) allowing a Senate vote is approximately equal to that of the press corps paying attention to this IRS rule.


[NOTE: The details excluded here are truly demonic. Go to the Wall Street Journal URL, above, to read about the real war on conservatives by the one, true, Chicago Way. All emphases are Gates of Vienna News Feed]

           — Hat tip: Blue Ridge Forum [Return to headlines]

Latinos Set to Surpass Whites in California in March

Population of seniors to rise sharply, state report shows

The Latino population is projected to surpass that of whites in California in March to become the single largest “race or ethnic group,” according to a report on shifting demographics in Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2014-15 budget proposal. Also, the number of residents 65 and older will jump by 20.7 percent over the next five years, the report said.

Nearly 25 years ago, non-Hispanic whites made up 57 percent of the state, while Latinos made up 26 percent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mac Slavo: Why I Cannot Support Concealed Carry Weapons Permits (And Why You Shouldn’t Either!)

John Filippidis is a Concealed and Carry Weapons permit holder, which means he can carry his firearm on his person or in his car legally. He followed all applicable laws in the State of Florida to obtain his permit, and has been a lawful citizen since being “given the right” to retain a firearm when in public.

Recently he was driving through the State of Maryland on a family vacation when he was stopped, for no apparent reason, by a law enforcement officer who had trailed his car for at least ten minutes.

According to his family, this is how the stop went down:

The officer was from the Transportation Authority Police. He asked Filippidis for his license and registration. Around ten minutes later, he returned and asked John to exit his vehicle.

“You own a gun,” the officer says. “Where is it?”

Filippidis told the officer his gun was at home in his safe.

Apparently the officer didn’t believe Filippidis, because he began questioning his wife, Kally, next:

“Your husband owns a gun. Where is it?”

First Kally said, “I don’t know.” Retelling it later to the Tampa Tribune, she said, “And that’s all I should have said.” Instead, attempting to be helpful, she added, “Maybe in the glove [box]. Maybe in the console. I’m scared of it. I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I might shoot right through my foot.”

That’s when things escalated. The officer confronted Filippidis:

“You’re a liar. You’re lying to me. Your family says you have it. Where is the gun? Tell me where it is and we can resolve this right now.”

Of course a gun could not be produced, since it was home in Filippidis’ safe.

Because Mrs. Filippidis told a different story than her husband, the officer said he had probable cause to search the vehicle. And he did just that. He called for backup and they literally took the vehicle apart in an effort to find the weapon the Mr. Filippidis left in his safe back at home in Florida.

The gun, of course, was never found. After 90 minutes of having their personal property violated, the Filippidis family was released without charge or citation.

Since Mr. Filippidis was driving according to all traffic laws, there was absolutely no reason to pull him over. And this is where our problem starts. Why did he get pulled over in the first place?

It turns out that when you register your weapon as a CCW holder you get flagged and tagged in the system. And, apparently this crosses over state lines, because the Transportation Authority Officer who pulled Mr. Filippidis over did so because he suspected there was a firearm in the car. That’s it — there was no probable cause of wrong doing and no other possible reason this car should have been pulled over.

Remember that whole ridiculous argument about registration of guns eventually leading to confiscation like it has in so many other countries in the past?

Turns out there may we be something to that. Mr. Filippidis and his family were, by all accounts, considered and treated criminals for legally owning a firearm, even though that firearm was not in their possession.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Newtown Sees Huge Jump in Pistol Permit Bids Since Shooting

There have been more applications for pistol permits in Newtown, Conn., since last December’s school massacre than the total number over the previous two years, it was revealed Tuesday.

There were so many applications that the town had to hire extra help to process them all, The Hartford Courant reports.

Statewide, there was also a steep uptick in the number of permit applications as residents feared tougher gun laws would be enacted following last December’s tragedy that saw 20 first graders and six teachers gunned down.

Newtown residents applied for 183 permits from January through May of this year, a 110 percent increase from the same period in 2012 when residents applied for 87 permits.

Town officials said they believed the shootings, which sparked a national wide debate on gun control, played a significant role in the increase of pistol permits and the likelihood that stricter gun control laws would be passed. Tougher state gun laws went into effect months later.

Statewide gun permits hiked beginning in March 2013, ending in September when police issued 18,233 new permits, a 17 percent increase over the same period in 2012.


[Return to headlines]

‘NSA Report Calls for Outrageous Proposals’

Security experts are warning that Obama’s NSA proposals could turn the intelligence services into lame ducks. DW talked to former CIA agent Fred Fleitz who cautions against making fatal mistakes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Obama to Call for Overhaul of N.S.A.’s Phone Data Collection Program

President Obama will require intelligence agencies to obtain permission from a secret court before tapping into a vast database of telephone data, but he will leave the data in the hands of the government for now, an administration official said.

Mr. Obama, in a much-anticipated speech on Friday morning, plans to pull back the government’s wide net of surveillance at home and abroad, staking out a middle ground between the far-reaching proposals of his own advisers and the concerns of the nation’s intelligence agencies.

At the heart of the changes, spurred by the disclosure of surveillance practices by a former National Security Agency contractor, Edward J. Snowden, will be an overhaul of a bulk data collection program that has swept up many millions of records of Americans’ telephone calls, though not their content.

[Return to headlines]

Obama Orders NSA Phone Data Limits, Tighter Restrictions for Spying on International Leaders

Trying to tamp down concerns over U.S. surveillance powers, President Obama announced Friday he would end the National Security Agency’s ability to store phone data collected from millions of Americans.

The president will also require intelligence agencies to obtain approval from a FISA court — a secret U.S. court that governs surveillance of terrorist and foreign espionage targets — before accessing the records.

While the president did not say the program would end, he did say the information collected would no longer be held by the NSA.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Records Prove Muslim Brotherhood Delegates Skipped Airport Inspections

Newly released records confirm a 2012 Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) report that the State Department cleared the way for a visiting delegation of Muslim Brotherhood officials to enter the country without undergoing routine inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Shredding the Layers of the ObamaCare Onion

Obamacare and destruction of documents — Direct link to Enron!

A few days ago, I was given a gift of sorts. It arrived in a plain manila envelope with no return address. Inside was a note that stated that I would know precisely what to do with the information this anonymous source provided. That source was indeed correct.

According to this benefactor of inside information, the electric bills of certain companies for the next billing cycle and employee overtime costs for the next pay schedule will be particularly high due to the cost of operating shredders and paying people to use them. Not just for physical shredding, but for the electronic erasure of documents, memos and e-mails pertaining to certain companies who played a supporting role in the establishment and roll-out of “ObamaCare” and the website. Moreover, this very task of document destruction is still taking place, which should serve as a red-phone call to congressional investigators who have not been financially enriched in the cronyism of ObamaCare.

Hopefully, those who are engaged in this frenzied shredding operation received their orders in writing and have taken extraordinary steps to safeguard their orders far beyond the company vault. For if history tells us anything, and it should, this menial but criminally significant task is almost always left to the “disposable” kind of employees where the blame always falls and a stint in prison leaves less of public stigma to other certain, high-value executives dictating the orders. It’s plausible deniability in action, or PD, as it is known in the tradecraft.

As always, though, the extent of the lies and corruption is much deeper than meets the eye. It takes a lot of peeling of the onion to get to the truth, and I’ve left a lot of onion skins on the floor by following the leads of my bipartisan, benevolent benefactor to bring forth this information.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Trespasser Freed From Pipe at United Water Plant in New Jersey, Faces Criminal Charges

MANALAPAN, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Rescuers have freed a man who had been stuck for hours in a pipe at a water treatment plant in New Jersey.

Officials told CBS 2 around 11:30 a.m. that 26-year-old Asef Mohamed, of Manalapan, had been freed and airlifted to an area hospital. He was 10 to 12 feet down the pipe, which was not in use, WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported.

United Water spokesman Rich Henning said Mohamed broke into the plant that treats and pumps water for the township of Manalapan. Workers heard cries for help coming from the pipe around 7 a.m. Friday.

“This was a person that purposely climbed a six-foot fence with three or four layers of barbed wire on top,” Henning said.

United Water officials said they have no idea why Mohamed did it, but are now looking at ways to tighten up security, Putney reported.

Manalapan police announced Friday afternoon that Mohamed is being charged with fourth-degree criminal trespassing and may face additional charges as the investigation continues, CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported.

Henning said the outflow pipe is used for cleaning a storage facility and is no more than 24 inches wide. He said the water quality was not affected by the incident.

Manalapan’s mayor told CBS 2 the town is considering the possibility of having Mohamed pay for the cost of the rescue operation.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Why Are Dozens of High Ranking Officers Being Purged From the U.S. Military?

Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, high ranking military officers have been removed from their positions at a rate that is absolutely unprecedented. Things have gotten so bad that a number of retired generals are publicly speaking out about the “purge” of the U.S. military that they believe is taking place.

As you will see below, dozens of highly decorated military leaders have been dismissed from their positions over the past few years. So why is this happening? When I was growing up, my father was an officer in the U.S. Navy. And what is going on right now is absolutely crazy — especially during a time of peace. Is there a deliberate attempt to “reshape” the military and remove those that don’t adhere to the proper “viewpoints”? Does someone out there feel a need to get officers that won’t “cooperate” out of the way? Throughout world history, whatever comes next after a “military purge” is never good. If this continues, what is the U.S. military going to look like in a few years?

Perhaps you are reading this and you think that “purge” is too strong a word for what is taking place. Well, just consider the following quotes from some very highly decorated retired officers…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Will SCOTUS Reverse Obama’s Recess Appointment Power Grab?

Speculation is running rampant in the nation’s capital that the Supreme Court is poised to strike down three purported recess appointments that President Obama used to unconstitutionally manipulate federal labor relations policy.

During oral arguments in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning on Monday, the justices seemed uncomfortable with Obama’s Jan. 4, 2012 overreach in which he recess-appointed three members to the NLRB without bothering to wait for the U.S. Senate to recess. Obama’s goal was to pack the under-staffed federal body with likeminded leftists and give the NLRB the quorum it previously lacked to conduct official business. A defeat for Obama in this closely watched case could call into question every order issued by the NLRB since the date the appointments were made.

Incidentally, the NLRB itself shouldn’t even exist. It is a socialist anachronism left over from the New Deal that Obama uses to create new rules and regulations without having to go the normal route and ask Congress to pass a law. Obama’s toadies at the NLRB are hellbent on making America more like bureaucratic, dysfunctional Europe where labor disruptions and union violence are everyday occurrences.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Anti-Oil Sands Lobbying (Video)

Ezra Levant follows the money trail in the Neil Young anti-oil sands tour

American influence on Canadian Politics through charities

  • Rockefeller Foundation
  • Tides Foundation
  • Greenpeace
  • First Nations

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Church Confronted by UN Over Child Abuse Scandals

Holy See officials say crimes against children ‘never’ right

(ANSA) — Geneva, January 16 — Attempts by Pope Francis to change the image of the Catholic Church were put to the test Thursday as senior officials faced a day of grilling before a United Nations hearing in Geneva over the world wide sexual abuse scandal.

The hearings come as a UN committee wraps up its examination of whether the Holy See has complied with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which it is a signatory.

This marks the first time the Vatican has been confronted in so public a venue over its record on handling reports of abuse by children at the hands of priests in parishes in the Europe, the United States, and other countries.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the UN in Geneva, told the hearings that “there is no excuse for any form of violence or exploitation of children”.

“Such crimes can never be justified,” added Tomasi.

“Any crime is a bad thing, but when there are children involved, it becomes even more severe,” he said.

Tomasi said it was important to establish the truth of what had happened in the past, to prevent it ever happening again, to see justice done.

The Vatican, he told the panel, would welcome any suggestions from the UN panel to implement its obligations.

Since his election last March, Pope Francis has tried to put his own stamp on the Church by living a simple life, preaching compassion, and dealing with many long-running issues including financial scandals. Upon being named pope, Francis also said that dealing with sex abuse in the Church was crucial to maintaining its credibility.

In early December, he announced that a Vatican committee would be set up to advise him on how the Church could protect children and help victims of sexual abuse by clergy.

At the same time, he also expanded the definition of crimes against minors to include sexual abuse of children.

Still, in November, the Church refused to respond to a request made by the UN five months earlier for information on abuse cases dating back to 1995.

In its response the Holy See said it did not normally disclose information about the religious discipline of clergy members unless that was specifically requested by the authorities in the country where they were serving.

It stressed that it had changed the criteria for choosing priests and revised Church law to ensure clergy were properly disciplined.

It also insisted that as a diplomatic entity it was “separate and distinct” from the Roman Catholic Church.

In that reaction, the Holy See was not trying to obstruct justice because it believes that countries must prosecute “every crime against minors,” said Tomasi.

In a statement, the Church said it is “committed to implementing its international obligations, including those arising from the ratification of the (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child”. Critics have said the measures taken thus far by the Church have not gone far enough and victims say the Holy See has not yet taken full responsibility for the abuse that occurred under its watch.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

EU, Germany React Strongly to Anti-Protest Bills in Ukraine

The EU has criticized Ukraine over laws that could stifle freedom of speech and assembly. Late Thursday, supporters of President Viktor Yanukovych introduced and passed sweeping anti-protest legislation in parliament.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Hollande’s Unpopularity Unaffected by Affair Allegations

(AGI) Paris, Jan 16 — The unpopularity of French President Francois Hollande has remained unchanged after the storm unleashed by photos suggesting an affair with an actress published in the magazine Closer. Only 17 percent of French people view his actions in a positive light. When asked to give an opinion on the President’s actions, 3 percent of respondents answered “very favourable” and 14 percent “somewhat favourable”, while 28 percent answered “somewhat unfavourable” and 46 percent “very unfavourable “. The poll, conducted by YouGov for iTele and Huffington Post, was taken on a “representative sample” of French adults (1,035 people) in the days immediately following the revelations, from Friday Jan. 10 until Monday Jan. 13.

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

Greek Central Bank Chief, TV Journalist, Sent Threatening Letters Containing Bullets

ATHENS, Greece — Greek police say the head of the financially struggling country’s central bank and a prominent TV journalist have been sent threatening letters containing bullets. They say the letters were signed by a group calling itself “The People’s Avengers,” but gave no detail of the contents or political alignment.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italian Philosopher Politician Slammed as Anti-Semite

Grillo denies Vattimo’s candidacy with 5-Star Movement

(ANSA) — Rome, January 17 — An interview with an Italian philosopher and politician who expressed “anti-Zionist” views on Friday sparked outcry from Italy’s Jewish community.

Gianni Vattimo told Il Corriere della Sera in an interview published Friday that he is “anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic” and that he does not believe in “the idea of a Jewish-Masonic plot”. The two-time European Parliament member said, however, that he believed the creation of “the state of Israel was the beginning of ruin”.

Vattimo added, “Let’s remember that the Federal Reserve is owned by Rothschild and Rockefeller”.

Israeli Ambassador to Italy Naor Gilon rebuked Vattimo in a letter, writing, “You think you express an anti-Zionist position, but in fact reveal yourself to be a true anti-Semite”.

“You belong to the ranks of those people who are anti-Semite by definition, but maintain that they can hide behind the more politically correct definition of ‘anti-Zionist’,” Gilon went on, and invited Vattimo to participate in Holocaust Memorial Day in Italy on January 27.

“I strongly advise you to participate in one of these (Holocaust memorial) events to learn something”. The president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) also condemned Vattimo.

“Vattimo goes back to proudly claim his ravings of preconceived hostility at the existence of the state of Israel,” wrote Renzo Gattegna.

Gattegna called Vattimo’s comments “words of hatred that don’t add anything new and are accompanied by the squalid reproposal of anti-Semitic stereotypes”. Vattimo’s announcement that he was joining the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) on Friday was denied by the group’s leader, ex-comedian Beppe Grillo.

Grillo said Vattimo was “neither a candidate nor proposable as a candidate”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Confindustria Chief Slams New EU Environmental Targets

Squinzi writes to Letta saying objectives hurt Italian companies

(ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — Giorgio Squinzi, who heads Italian employers’ association Confindustria, has urged Italian Premier Enrico Letta to pursue realistic environmental targets that companies are able to achieve at acceptable costs.

Squinzi made the comments in a letter to Letta.

“The targets to be achieved need to be realistic and achievable at a lesser cost for companies, in a way as to safeguard their competitiveness and avoid negative impact on the economy and on all society,” Squinzi said. Squinzi went on to express “strong preoccupation for the deliberations the European Commission is set to adopt on January 22 with regards to European climatic and energy objectives in 2030 that will then be presented for examination to the single governments and to the European Parliament”.

In particular, Squinzi said Confindustria considered the “position taken that is contained in the joint letter sent by a group of environment ministers, inclusive of the Italian one, to the Commission as formal backing of the ambitious and obligatory objective of cutting greenhouse emissions by 40% on a domestic level, cannot represent the position of the Italian government” as the the EU objectives on energy emissions and renewable energy “risks further penalizing Italian companies”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy at Risk of Medicine Shortage Due to Exports

‘Problem getting worse’ says pharmacists association

(ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — Pharmacists sounded an alarm in Italy Thursday over a lack of medication on hand due to exports to more lucrative European markets. “It’s a true emergency,” said pharmacists’ association Federfarma in a letter to the Italian Pharmaceuticals Agency (Aifa), warning that drugs including those for fighting cancer, bronchitis and thrombosis were becoming hard to find. After first warning of the situation in July, Federfarma said “it has only gotten worse”. Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said her office was already aware of the problem.

“If there’s a double market, a parallel market, it will be watched and controlled,” she said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Renzi Blasts Govt for Inaction on Reforms

Reshuffling cabinet ‘is to miss the point’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — Matteo Renzi, the head of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), on Thursday used his first party meeting since winning a party primary in November to blast the Italian government for lagging on key electoral and institutional reforms. “Recent reform efforts have been a list of failures: no electoral reforms, the idea of a major institutional reform was (blocked in parliament). For several years cabinet members have abandoned the idea of reforms. The PD risks losing credibility,” said the 39-year-old mayor of Florence. Even before his overwhelming victory at party primaries in November, the charismatic politician has harbored open ambitions of one day becoming premier himself. Recently, some have accused him of wanting that day to come sooner than later, and of having his sights set on the government that will follow the current left-right coalition headed by his fellow PD member, Premier Enrico Letta.

Likened to a young Tony Blair, the charismatic Renzi has fomented friction in Letta’s cabinet of late with accusations of inaction and calls for the PD to dictate terms to members from other parties of the center right. Furthermore, many of his supporters have said the Letta government should replace some of its cabinet with Renzi loyalists given his impressive primary victory. But Renzi himself reiterated his opposition to that idea at the PD meeting.

“Those proposing a reshuffle (of the cabinet) are missing the point,” he said. It’s not a question of swapping two ministers with two Renzi supporters but of “creating a system of government that lasts for the next 20 years”. Renzi was also careful not to distance himself too much from the PD-led government many claim he hopes will fall so he can mount his own official election campaign. “I’m the only one in the PD who’s never put a time limit on the government,” he said. “I’ve always said it should go forward so long as it’s getting results”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Letta to Use ‘International’ Stage to Save Marines

‘Happy with EU support, Italian House delegation to India

(see related) (ANSA) — Rome, January 17 GEN — Premier Enrico Letta on Friday vowed to move on an “international level” to keep two Italian marines from facing the death penalty in India for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen. Letta spoke after meeting with Foreign Minister Emma Bonino and Defence Minister Mario Mauro, ahead of an Indian Supreme Court hearing on the case as soon as Monday. The premier added he “was happy with the solidarity expressed by the European Union and a plan to send an Italian House delegation to New Delhi”. In a statement issued after the meeting, the government reiterated its “firm expectation that the Indian government would keep its assurances…that the case in question does not fall under anti-piracy norms (that include capital punishment as a possible sentence).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Must Include Local Leaders in Syria Weapon Plan, Says Lupi

Chemical arms headed for Italian port concerns locals

(ANSA) — Rome, January 17 — Community and regional leaders must be involved in the use of their port to move Syrian chemical weapons en route to disposal, Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said Friday.

Those comments did not reassure Gioia Tauro Mayor Renato Bellofiore, who continued to express fears about the safety of his southern port community, where a stockpile of weapons’ material from war-torn Syria will be transferred between ships before being destroyed in international waters.

On Thursday, the government announced that it would participate in a United Nations plan to dispose of the Syrian weapons arsenal in the customs port of Gioia Tauro, where material will be shifted from the Danish ship Arc Futura to a US one for their subsequent destruction.

Lupi told parliament that 60 containers would be moved using special carriageways, without being unloaded and stocked on land. That triggered anger from the community, which said it should have been consulted about such an important plan.

Friday, Lupi said that it would be “right to involve the mayors, local authorities and the region,” in the plan which UN authorities said could begin in just a few weeks.

“Together we can ensure greater security,” added Lupi, who is also minister of infrastructure.

However, Bellofiore said he is worried that many more than 60 containers will be moved through his community and if so, “it creates further panic in the population”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Renzi Defends Possible Talks With Berlusconi

Center-left boss calls controversy ‘ludicrous’

(see related) (ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — The new leader of the center-left Democratic Party (PD) on Thursday said criticism surrounding him possibly engaging in cross-party talks with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi was “ludicrous”. “The controversy surrounding talks with (Berlusconi’s center-right) Forza Italia is ludicrous,” said Renzi at his first party meeting since a landslide victory at a primary in November. On Wednesday the 39-year-old mayor of Florence said he was considering meeting with the three-time premier to discuss election reforms, as he has done with other party leaders. Critics in Renzi’s own PD have said talks with Berlusconi, who was handed a binding conviction last year and expelled from parliament, would help rehabilitate his marred image. “This controversy of meeting with a felon is outrageous.

(Berlusconi) was a founder of the current government, and I didn’t see any ministers step down when he was convicted”. After coming in second at elections last February, Berlusconi’s now-defunct People of Freedom (PdL) party was a part of the coalition until pulling its support and disbanding in November.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Nun Gives Birth to Baby Boy in Rieti

Sister had been taken to hospital for excruciating belly pain

(ANSA) — Rieti, January 17 — A 32-year-old nun originally from El Salvador gave birth late Tuesday to a baby boy at the S. Camillo De Lellis hospital in Rieti, central Italy.

The sister was taken to the emergency ward of the hospital after the strong pain she felt in her belly raised concern among her fellow nuns, who called an ambulance, according to unnamed sources. The baby weighed three and a half kilograms.

The hospital staff, who are still not available to give official confirmation of the event, sought to protect the nun’s privacy by keeping her away from other patients. Even so, news of the unique birth spread quickly on social networking sites.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: American Diplomat Ran Consulate Like Party Pad: Suit

An Italy-based American diplomat brazenly bedded staffers and hookers, fabricated expense reports, and knowingly served rotten meat to a visiting British consul general, a blockbuster Brooklyn federal lawsuit charges.

Naples Consul General Donald Moore even gave favored ladies of the night entry codes to secure areas at the embassy and told underlings that “women are like candy, they meant to be unwrapped and thrown away,” according to a $300,000 sex discrimination lawsuit filed by a whistleblower.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Norway Populists See Support Plummet

Norway’s populist Progress Party have lost more than a quarter of their support since their coalition won a general election last September, a new poll has shown.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Norway a Target for More Terror

The former security chief for Norwegian oil company Statoil is the latest anti-terror expert to warn that Norway is vulnerable to another terrorist attack, and possibly soon. Bernard Duncan Lyng, who’s also a former intelligence officer in the Norwegian military, notes that Norway “is an open and vulnerable country” to terrorists whose goal is to kill the highest numbers of civilians possible and create fear and anxiety…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Pope Benedict Defrocked 400 Priests in 2 Years

A document obtained by The Associated Press shows Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for molesting children.

The statistics for 2011-12 represent the first time that the Vatican has provided details on the number of priests who have been defrocked. Prior to that, it had only revealed the number of alleged cases of sexual abuse it had received.

The document was prepared from data the Vatican had been collecting to help the Holy See defend itself before a U.N. committee this week in Geneva…

[Return to headlines]

UK: Drunk Driver Reverts to Islam

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — A British young woman, who was caught driving while drinking, has told the court that she plans to stop drinking alcohol altogether after deciding to revert to Islam. “I am going to change my life and I am going to get married,” Mariana Jesus, of Beechcroft Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire, was quoted by Grantham Journal on Monday, January 13. “I am converting to Islam and I am never going to drink again.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Council in Drive to Get More of Their Community to Donate Blood

Koran verses being used to encourage donations

In the Koran, Muslims are told in verse 5.32 that “if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole humanity”, while elsewhere, those who make “a contribution in Allah’s way” are told that a gift will be returned 700-fold.

Today, Muslim organisations in Britain are using such messages to encourage more blood donations from the community, one that has consistently counted few blood donors among its number…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Tony Blair’s Cultural Revolution Has Won, At Least in the Conservative Party

by Ed West

As Rod pointed out the other day, Arthur Scargill’s purchase of his council flat illustrated the triumph of Thatcherism over its opponents; like any winning ideology it created the conditions for its followers to flourish and increase in number, and so securing the revolution.

That’s one of many things that Tony Blair had in common with the Conservative leader; New Labour created the conditions, through an expanded and often highly-politicised public sector, for Blairites to flourish and therefore for Blairism to triumph, not just at the ballot box but culturally too. Look at London, where a generation ago one could expect wealthy areas to vote overwhelmingly Conservative; today the cultural influence of Kensington and Chelsea has stalled while that of Hampstead and Highgate has spread, and the result is a new liberal middle class consciously hostile to cultural conservatism…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Wartime Ammunition Still Rotting in German Waters

Millions of tons of poisonous gas, fire bombs and ammunition continue to rot in the waters off the coast of Germany. They contain deadly toxins, which are seeping into the environment.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

World War I Centenary: The Symbolic Power of French Victory

From the fall of 1914 to the spring of 1917 — in fact, until the last German offensive in March 1918 — the front, stretching 750 kilometers from Ypern in Flanders to Mulhouse in Alsace, remained more or less static. It never bulged by more than 20 to 30 kilometers in either direction. All advances (under Joffre in the Artois and Champagne in 1915, under Falkenhayn near Verdun in 1916, and under Nivelle along the Chemin des Dames ridge in 1917) failed, causing immense losses while yielding strategically insignificant gains in territory.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Health Ministry — One Dead, 33 Injured in Thursday Violence

Egypt’s Ministry of Health has said in a statement that one person was killed and 33 were injured during clashes that occurred on Thursday. The ministry did not provide details on the nature of these clashes, the Middle East News Agency reported…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Seven Morsi Supporters Killed in Clashes With Police

Four killed in Heliopolis (Cairo) as protesters lob Molotovs

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JANUARY 17 — Four Morsi supporters were shot dead Friday in heavy clashes with police in the Cairo district of Heliopolis, security sources said. Protesters returned fire with Molotov cocktails.

Two more pro-Morsi protesters died in Fayoum Governorate and one died in 6th of October City, south of Cairo. Police used tear gas to disperse pro-Morsi protesters blocking a main road in Maadi, in downtown Cairo. Also in the capital, in the Ain Shams area, a security checkpoint — which earlier reports said was a police station — was set on fire.

Residents of El-Hawamdeyya, in Giza, attacked pro-Morsi protesters with fireworks. Clashes were reported in the upscale Mohandessin district near Cairo, in Nasr City, on Al Azhar and Cairo university campuses — where a student was killed Thursday — and in Suez, Beheira, Sharqiya, and Alexandria, where 14 protesters were arrested. Three people were wounded in clashes in Ismailiyah.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Key Tuareg Rebel Group Abandons Talks With Mali Government Hosted by Algeria

Leaders of a Tuareg rebel group in northern Mali say they have withdrawn from negotiations with Mali’s government scheduled to take place in Algeria after faulting the terms of the talks.

Attaye Ag Mohamed, a spokesman for the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, said Friday the organization’s representatives left Algeria after concluding the talks were intended to emphasize reconciliation before addressing the group’s political grievances.

Tuareg rebels and al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists took over northern Mali in 2012. Though a French-led intervention last year scattered the Islamic extremists, the NMLA retains a strong presence in the northern Mali city of Kidal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Military Gets More Power in Egypt Constitution, Less Islam

Women and workers gain rights, religious parties outlawed

(by Luciana Borsatti) (ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 16 — Egypt’s new Constitution makes reference to the “January 25-June 30 revolution”, seeing in the ousters of former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi as two steps in a single revolutionary process. It also eliminates the articles seen as potentially paving the way for a Sunni theocracy and sanctions both new rights and the strengthening of the power wielded by the armed forces. The new charter thus marks a break with the past of the short-lived Islamist government, while simultaneously bolstering the role of the Army, which has given the country its president since the days of Nasser and is readying to continue doing so with the ‘strong man’ of the upcoming elections: General Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, who is expected to announce that he will be running in the next presidential race. These are some of the most note-worthy aspects of the new Constitution.

Article 2 is mostly the same as it has been since it was introduced in 1971 by President Anwar al Sadat: “Islam is the religion of the state, Arabic is its official language and the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation.

The controversial Article 219 has instead been done away with, which defined the “principles of Sharia” and was introduced by Islamist parties in the 2012 text. The preamble states that the Constitutional Court is to decide on the interpretation of these principles. The section of Article 4 of the previous text has also been eliminated, which stated that “Al-Azhar’s senior scholars are to be consulted in matters pertaining to Islamic law”, which even Al-Azhar authorities had not approved of. Article 11, on equality between men and women, was seen as a improvement on the 2012 text, as it obliges the state to ensure that there is no discrimination in politics and the world of work. It does not, however, set down a quota for women in Parliament. Article 13 tasks the state with protecting the rights of workers and improving their working conditions, while Article 17 guarantees pensions and social services to the most vulnerable and Article 18 healthcare for all.

The Nasser-era regulation stipulating that 50% of MPs had to be from workers and farmers (never actually implemented) has been done away with, while the limit on a single trade union per profession remains. Article 74 restores the ban on setting up political parties on a religious basis — a regulation targeting the Muslim Brotherhood — as well as those discriminating on the basis of gender, origin or religion. The military’s role is bolstered by Article 234, which foresees that the appointment of the Minister of Defense must be approved by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, though only for a transitional eight-year period. The highly contested right to subject civilians to military trials for crimes against the armed forces also stayed in — though it details what acts it refers to. On the issue of the presidency, a regulation has been inserted that calls for the removal of the president if he fails to obtain the confidence of two-thirds of Parliament (which now consists of a single house, after the abolition of the Shura Council). It also calls for the dissolution of the Parliament and new elections if the vote of confidence does not pass.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Militants Blow Up Gas Pipeline in Egypt’s Sinai

A security official in Egypt says militants have blown up a natural gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula. The official says a strong explosion rocked a village in central Sinai called el-Riysan on Friday after militants planted explosives beneath the gas pipeline connected to cement factories in the area. The official said there were no casualties. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief journalists.

Gas pipelines have come under attack several times over the past three years since the 2011 downfall of longtime president Hosni Mubarak. The peninsula plunged into lawlessness after his ousting.

Suicide bombings have spiked and spilled into to the capital and Nile Delta cities after the ouster of Islamist resident Mohamed Morsi on 3 July. An al-Qaida-inspired group called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tunisian Amnesty for 689 Detainees Excludes Rapper, Blogger

Announced by president for 3rd anniversary of uprising

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 16 — An amnesty for 689 common criminals to commemorate the third anniversary of the Tunisian revolution was announced Thursday by Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki, in line with an annual tradition since 2011. According to Tunisia Live, however, no pardon has been bestowed on numerous ‘political’ prisoners, including the rapper Ahmed Laabidi and the blogger Jabeur Mejri.

The former, who goes by the name Kafon, was arrested in June 2013 for smoking marijuana and sentenced to a year in jail and a 600-dollar fine. Mejri was handed down an even harsher sentence in March 2013: seven and a half years for posting drawings on Prophet Mohamed online. Mejri’s lawyer, Ahmed Mselmi, noted that his client had already submitted two requests for amnesty, which only the current president has the power to grant. Marzouki has promised to do something for Mejri, but “when the time is right for it politically”. Tunisia Live reported that the lawyer of the singer Laabidi, Ghazi Mrabet, has said that his client had never had a true trial. “I literally had to dig into the archives to find the papers related to his case,” he said, adding that no date had yet been set for the trial, without which an amnesty cannot be requested.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: The Truth Hurts

To hear it from the White House, and from Israel’s leftist media, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is a major liability. As half the planet now knows, Ya’alon is harshly critical of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s persistent efforts to force Israel to surrender its land and ability to defend itself to the PLO.

In a private conversation that Ya’alon did not expect to be made public, he criticized Kerry’s so-called security plan that offers Israel advanced technology in exchange for PLO control over its eastern border. Ya’alon also rejected the notion that the PLO is interested in making peace. And he stated the inconvenient fact that PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas is only in power because Israel has security control over Judea and Samaria.

Ya’alon also said, again in a private conversation, that Kerry’s razor-sharp focus on Israel and the PLO owes to an “incomprehensible obsession,” and that by neurotically pushing for a deal that has no chance of being concluded or achieving peace, Kerry is exhibiting “messianic” character traits.

Ya’alon’s private statements about Kerry were no harsher than public statements that the Saudis have made regarding the Obama administration’s regional policies. Last November, journalist Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed Saudi Prince Alaweed bin Talal. According to Goldberg, the Saudi royal attacked US President Barack Obama “with a directness that would make Benjamin Netanyahu blush.”…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]

Officials: Gaza Ceasefire is Dead

Defense officials reportedly view Pillar of Cloud ceasefire as moot, as barrage of rockets closes non-reinforced schools in Ashdod.

Flash 90A barrage of at least 6 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Ashkelon on Wednesday, leading the defense establishment to reportedly reconsider the Pillar of Cloud ceasefire. The barrage also led Ashdod to cancel classes Friday at all schools that are not reinforced against rocket fire.

Five of the rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome defense system Wednesday, with the rest landing in open areas. The IAF responded with airstrikes on various terror sites in Gaza on Thursday.

Gaza has fired 17 rockets at Israel so far in January, making the average one rocket a day this month, reports Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio).

The latest burst of rocket fire has led the defense establishment to realize the cease-fire with Hamas, brokered by Egypt and the US following Operation Pillar of Defense, is dissolving, reported Ma’ariv on Friday.

Deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood has ties to Hamas, is considered by the sources to have had more influence in keeping Hamas in check following the November 2012 counter-terror operation.

In contrast, the defense establishment noted that Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who has cut illegal smuggling tunnels between the Sinai and Gaza in a siege of the Hamas stronghold, is proving unable to hold Hamas to its promises.

“The mechanism of enforcing agreements with Hamas has weakened exceedingly,” revealed a senior source in Jerusalem. “Israel understands that ceasefire agreements can’t be relied on as in the Morsi period, the agreements have lost their meaning.”

In response to the rain of rocket fire, Ashdod closed schools as noted. The cancellation affected 3,500 students in the coastal city, out of a total 75,000 students.

While attacks from Gaza were down 98% one year after Operation Pillar of Cloud, the number has recently skyrocketed. A barrage of at least 6 rockets as occurred Wednesday reportedly hasn’t happened for some time.

The IDF has warned Hamas that it is willing to step up its response as the terror organization escalates its attacks. Reports show Hamas has been stockpiling long-range rockets, indicating fierce fighting may be looming.

           — Hat tip: MC [Return to headlines]

American Appeasement of Iran Endangers the Persian Gulf

Following the Iconoclast post yesterday on the “Two Faces of Sen. Dianne Feinstein”, there was an exchange of views with Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center and Sarah Stern, President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth. We were discussing a matter related to the threat that Iran posed to the US in the Western Hemisphere; the Administration succumbing to de facto Iranian nuclear hegemony in the Persian Gulf. Daniel Pipes in an, NRO-The Corner article, drew attention to Administration appeasement enabling Iran to strike deals with Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This resulted in Iran gaining potential control over the strategic Straits of Hormuz, “Has Iran gained a Foothold in the Arabian Peninsula”?

The Obama Administration has jeopardized potential strategic control of the oil rich Persian Gulf. Both the UAE and Oman know that. This could present a threat to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean with its stockpile of nuclear weapons and cruise missiles and B-52 bombers. As Bryen commented, “When Munich occurred at least the Chamberlain rationale was that it gave the British and French time to prepare for war against Nazi Germany”. However, what rationale does the Administration have?

The Persian Gulf allies have witnessed the Administration losing resolve in the region causing them to seek whatever cover they can from the predatory hegemon to avoid becoming what Churchill called, “crocodile food”. Is Israel next?

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Daniel Pipes: Has Iran Gained a Foothold in the Arabian Peninsula?

According to a sensational report by Awad Mustafa in DefenseNews, a Gannett publication, not only has Tehran signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates over three disputed islands near the Strait of Hormuz, but it has also reached a possibly even more important accord with the government of Oman. Both of these agreements have vast implications for the oil trade, the world economy, and Iranian influence.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Erdogan Pushing Internet Censorship Forward

The Turkish government plans to further tighten its firm grip on the Internet by monitoring user activity and blocking sites for “privacy violations.” Activists are calling this a reaction to anti-government protests.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sidelined Syrian Kurds Look for New Allies

Syria’s Kurds are locked in conflict with both the Assad regime and Islamist extremists. Their pleas for help have, so far, fallen on deaf ears in the West — and they haven’t been invited to the Geneva peace talks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Gezi Protest Icon ‘Woman in Red’ Cleared of Charges

(ANSamed) — ISTANBUL, JANUARY 16 — Ceyda Sungur, one of the icons of the Gezi Park protests known as the “woman in red,” was cleared yesterday of charges of “provoking people to disobey laws”, after the court ruled for a dismissal of the charges. The decision, as daily Hurriyet online reports, comes soon after prosecutors demanded up to three years in prison for the police officer who sprayed tear gas at Sungur without any physical or verbal provocation. Istanbul Public Prosecutor Huseyin Nazmi Okumus dropped the charges against five protesters, including Sungur, affiliated with the Istanbul Technical University (ITU), who were present during the incident on May 31. The prosecutor said in his decision that Sungur, an academic at ITU, was preparing a list of injured protesters who needed a medical assistance, along with university students. The scene in which she slowly walked away after tear gas was sprayed into her face marked an embryonic phase of the protests, increasing the outcry that would ultimately lead to them spreading across the country.

Earlier yesterday, a prosecutor charged that the officer who fired the tear gas, identified only as F.Z., violated regulations on police actions during unrest, as well as the regulation on the use of tear gas. He also stated that F.Z. was less than one meter from Sungur, and that he targeted her face with the chemical agent without warning, continuing to spray the gas even after she had turned her head.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Corruption Scandal, Democracy at Risk for Opposition

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 16 — Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu thinks democracy is at risk in Turkey because of the strategy pursued by Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan to halt anti-corruption probes involving people close to his AKP Islamic party, local press reports said Thursday. In a conversation with reporters, Kilicdaroglu was quoted as saying by Milliyet that democracy is on the line. “Erdogan wants a system without democracy in which he can control the judiciary, parliament and all governors’, he was quoted as saying. ‘He wants to concentrate all state powers in his hands’.

Ever since the start of the Turkish corruption scandal on December 17, the premier carried out large-scale sackings of police chiefs and officers, removing according to Hurriyet over 2,000 top-ranking public security officers and putting pressure on magistrates.

At least two magistrates investigating the case were transferred. The premier presented to parliament, where he has an absolute majority of seats, a draft law to place the self-governing body of the judiciary Hsyk under the authority of the justice ministry.

The draft law has raised concern in the US and EU. According to Kilicdaroglu, if it were approved it would be ‘a disaster for the Turkish democracy’. The opposition leader called on head of state Abdullah Gul to refuse to sign it if it will be adopted by parliament.

Kilicdaroglu was quoted by Cumhuriyet as saying that Erdogan is ‘ready for everything’ to block anti-corruption probes and hold on to power. But the corruption scandal, he warned, will have consequences for the premier in administrative elections scheduled on March 30. Surveys, he said, show the opposition could beat AKP in Istanbul and Ankara.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Weapons Inspectors: Syrian Chemical Weapons Fired From Rebel-Held Territory

The head of the UN weapons inspectors said that the American case for Syrian government firing chemical weapons was weak, because the rockets can only go 2 miles … but government-held territory is much further away.

Similarly, McClatchy reported yesterday:

A team of security and arms experts, meeting this week in Washington to discuss the matter, has concluded that the range of the rocket that delivered sarin in the largest attack that night was too short for the device to have been fired from the Syrian government positions where the Obama administration insists they originated.


The authors of a report released Wednesday said that their study of the rocket’s design, its likely payload and its possible trajectories show that it would have been impossible for the rocket to have been fired from inside areas controlled by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: ‘Suicide Bomb’ Explodes Near Popular Restaurant in Kabul

Explosion and gunfire reported near a restaurant frequented by foreigners in embassy district of Afghan capital; no word on casualties

A large explosion believed to be a suicide blast rocked Kabul on Friday evening, close to a restaurant frequented by foreigners and in a district housing several embassies, though there were no immediate details on casualties…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: Taliban ‘Confident of Victory’ Over NATO

A spokesman for the Afghan Taliban has said it is “confident of victory” over Nato-led forces and already controls large areas of the country. Interviewed by the BBC’s John Simpson, Zabiullah Mujahed said in remote parts it was “everywhere”, and foreign troops were scared to leave their bases…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Afghan Police Say Suicide Bomber Attacks Popular Kabul Restaurant; Reports of Casualties

Afghan police say a suicide bomber has attacked a restaurant in central Kabul that is popular with officials, foreigners and business people. There were reports of casualties. Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said the attack took place just after dark Friday against a Lebanese restaurant in the diplomatic quarter. Deputy Interior Minister Ayoub Salangi says there are reports of casualties but had no immediate details.

The explosion and ensuing gunfire was heard around the restaurant. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, which he said targeted foreign officials.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

American POW’s Fate Could Hang in Balance as US, Afghanistan Struggle to Strike Security Pact

Efforts to search for America’s only living POW currently held by the Taliban could be seriously set back if the U.S. and Afghanistan governments cannot agree on a vital security pact.

The Obama administration has set a new deadline of Jan. 28 for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign the agreement, which would provide U.S. troops with protections they need in order to stay after 2014…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Dozens Injured in Explosion Targeting Protesters in Central Bangkok

Dozens of people have been injured in an explosion that hit an anti-government “shutdown” rally in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. Demonstrators have been demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

In the latest protest action, which began on Monday, demonstrators have been occupying main roads and junctions in the Thai capital, in a series of rallies meant to cause major disruption to government and businesses.

Late last year, the prime minister called snap elections for February as a way of resolving the political crisis, but this failed to satisfy the demonstrators, who are demanding that Yingluck step down immediately to make way for the appointment of an unelected committee to draw up democratic reforms.

Thailand has been hit by repeated unrest since the country’s army ousted Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006. He has been living in exile since 2008 to avoid serving time in prison after being convicted on corruption charges.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

India’s Defenseless Women

The latest rape cases involving foreign women in India have cast the country’s record on sexual violence back into the spotlight. Violence against women is entrenched in Indian society. There are many reasons for this.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Indonesian Mineral Export Ban May Hurt Miners

Indonesia is one of the world’s largest exporters of raw materials. But now the government wants to promote domestic processing by banning mineral ore exports. The ban, however, threatens the livelihoods of many miners.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Thailand’s Social Divide ‘Will Take Generations to Bridge’

Dozens of Thai protestors have been hurt in an explosion at an anti-government rally, feeding fears the political conflict could spiral into civil war. Historian Matthew Phillips talks about Thailand’s social divide.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Beijing’s Mayor Urges “All-Out Effort” To Curb Air Pollution

(Reuters) — Beijing’s mayor pledged on Thursday to cut coal use by 2.6 million tonnes and set aside 15 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) to improve air quality this year as part of the city’s “all-out effort” to tackle air pollution, state news agency Xinhua said.

The announcement by Wang Anshun came as the capital was blanketed in its worst smog in months. An index measuring PM2.5 particles, especially bad for health, reached 500 in much of the capital in the early hours. A level above 300 is considered hazardous, while the World Health Organisation recommends a daily level of no more than 20.

Coal-burning boilers inside Beijing’s fifth ring road — covering the built-up area of the city — will be eliminated and measures taken against coal burning in the capital’s periphery, Xinhua quoted Wang as saying.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

China Tells People to Stay Indoors as Smog Hits Danger Levels

China warned people in its northern regions to stay indoors today as air pollution in Beijing averaged 18 times World Health Organization-recommended levels.

The concentration of PM2.5, fine particulates that pose the greatest risk to human health, was 447 micrograms per cubic meter at 10 p.m. near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, compared with an average of 456 over the past 24 hours, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said on its website. The WHO recommends exposure to no higher than 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a day.

The smog adds to pressure on the government to take measures beyond shutting steel plants and limiting the number of cars on the road to battle air pollution.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Japan: Tokyo Ordered to Pay Muslims

Plaintiffs win damages for privacy violation

The Tokyo District Court ordered the metropolitan government Wednesday to pay ¥90.2 million in damages to 17 Muslims for violating their privacy by leaking their personal data in 2010.

“The data were created by police, held by the Third Foreign Affairs Division of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Security Bureau and leaked by some insider,” presiding Judge Masamitsu Shiseki said. “The MPD is responsible for having failed to properly supervise the data.” The plaintiffs are Muslims from Japan, Algeria, Iran, Tunisia and Morocco.…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Japanese Soldier From WWII, Who Hid in Jungle for Decades Refusing to Believe War Was Over, Dies at 91

Hiroo Onoda, the last Japanese imperial soldier to emerge from hiding in a jungle in the Philippines and surrender, 29 years after the end of World War II, has died. He was 91.

Onoda died Thursday at a Tokyo hospital after a brief stay there. Chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga on Friday expressed his condolences, praising Onoda for his strong will to live and indomitable spirit.

“After World War II, Mr. Onoda lived in the jungle for many years and when he returned to Japan, I felt that finally, the war was finished. That’s how I felt,” Suga said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Natural Ball Lightning Probed for the First Time

Anecdotes about ball lightning stretch back for centuries, but the phenomenon has been hard to study as the balls are unpredictable — and when they do materialise, they last for mere seconds. Lacking detailed observations, explanations have ranged from electrically charged meteorites to hallucinations induced by magnetism during storms.

In 2012, Jianyong Cen and his colleagues at Northwestern Normal University in Lanzhou, China, were observing a thunderstorm in Qinghai, China with video cameras and spectrographs. Purely by chance, they recorded a ball lightning event. When a bolt struck the ground, a glowing ball about 5 metres wide rose up and travelled about 15 metres, disappearing after 1.6 seconds.

The spectrograph revealed that the main elements in the ball were the same as those found in the soil: silicon, iron and calcium. The observations support a theory for making ball lightning put forth in 2000 by John Abrahamson at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

No End to China’s Notorious Re-Education Camps

China formally abolished its controversial “re-education through labor” camps last year. But the police are still allowed to detain people in other camps without a trial or the possibility to appeal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Smog in China Prompts Authorities to Display Sun on Giant Screens

Air pollution in China is so bad that the only way to see the sun is via a billboard

Facing the worst air pollution levels in months, residents of Beijing have turned to massive digital screens to see the sun setting through the thick smog.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Southeast, East Asia Build Up Naval Capabilities

Due to a lack of security agreements and codes of conduct, East Asian countries continue their naval arms race, increasing the risk of a military confrontation as rapidly expanding economies vie for scarce resources.

The first of six Russian kilo-class submarines arrived at Cam Ranh naval base just in time for the New Year. The sub, named Hanoi, is being hailed by Vietnam’s media and government.

According to Vietnam expert Carlyle A. Thayer, the boat’s arrival marks “a giant step forward” for the Southeast Asian nation in terms of defense capabilities. The emeritus professor from the University of New South Wales in Australia says the Vietnamese military is now capable of operating on four levels: on land, at sea, in the air and under water.

Alongside Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, Vietnam is now a member of the South East Asian club of countries with submarine capabilities. However, Thayer believes that it will take some time until the submarines are fully operational, as Vietnam still lacks overall strategic planning, trained sailors and the technical know-how. “Technical support from Russia will be needed for at least 10 years, if not longer,” Thayer said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Kenya: Qaeda Militia Chiefs Killed in KDF Attack

SIX senior foreign al Shabaab leaders are among 57 members of the al QAeda linked militia who were killed in the Kenya Defence Forces air strike on Gedo region last Thursday…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nelson Mandela Family Feud Resumes as They Await Reading of Will

Mandela clan in renewed row over who will be the main heir to his will

Nelson Mandela’s extensive family has continued the bitter squabbles that began before his death with a dispute over who is now their proper leader, days before the reading of his will is expected.

Both his oldest grandson, Mandla Mandela, an ANC MP, who was nominated by the former statesman to be a traditional chief in his home province, and his eldest daughter by his first wife Evelyn, Makaziwe Mandela, are seeking to win control of decision-making within the family over his legacy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Why Jonathan Sacked Ibrahim, Ihejirika, Ezeoba

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday dropped all the service chiefs but one, Air Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh, the immediate past chief of air staff who is now the new chief of defence staff, in order to bring new ideas and restore sanity to the security committee of his administration…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

What a Lost Prison Manuscript Reveals About the Real Nelson Mandela

New light is shed on the president’s politics, smoothed over in ‘Long Walk to Freedom’

Everyone thought Mandela was a known entity, but he turns out to have led a double life, at least for a time. By day, he was or pretended to be a moderate democrat, fighting to free his people in the name of values all humans held sacred. But by night he donned the cloak and dagger and became a leader of a fanatical sect known for its attachment to the totalitarian Soviet ideal.

When Ellis first aired this theory, it read like a Cold War thriller, but when Mandela died last month, the African National Congress and the SACP both issued statements confirming that it was true: at the time of his arrest in 1962, Nelson Mandela was a member of the SACP’s innermost central committee.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Deadline Looms for Panama Canal Dispute; Effects of Work Stoppage Would be Felt Worldwide

A massive expansion of the Panama Canal is supposed to transform global trade, and U.S. ports have invested billions in preparing for the new generation of larger ships that will be able to pass through it.

But the Panama Canal Authority now faces the prospect of a work stoppage on the $5.25 billion expansion because of a financial dispute.

The Spanish-led consortium hired to handle the biggest part of the canal expansion says it will halt work by Monday if the canal authority doesn’t come up with the funds to cover $1.6 billion in cost overruns. The authority insists the consortium live up to the terms of the original contract. A stop and re-start could mean a delay of months or even years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Ann Coulter: ‘The Country Has Not Voted to Turn Itself Into Mexico’

Outspoken conservative Ann Coulter says lawmakers’ proposals for amnesty, school tuition and drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants must stop because “the country has not voted to turn itself into Mexico.”

“How many times do these Republicans have to try pushing amnesty and in-state tuition and drivers’ licenses then, suddenly, they discover, oops, the dogs don’t like it? They try to back pedal but no one trusts them anymore anyway because it is just such a God-awful idea.” Coulter told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“We’re a country. We are not a department store. We have to have some control over who comes into this country.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Asylum Seekers Continue Search for Support in Brazil

Brazil has seen the number of asylum seekers increase nearly tenfold over three years and official agencies are woefully unprepared to deal with the refugees. Few people receive asylum and help for immigrants is sparse.

In Brazil, political refugees from the Middle East or Africa have been a rare sight over the last few years. The South American country appears far removed from the horrors of war on foreign continents. But that is changing. Between 2010 and 2013, the number of people seeking asylum in Brazil increased nearly tenfold, from 566 to 5,200. Adding to those numbers are thousands of immigrants from Haiti, Senegal, Angola, Liberia, Bolivia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“Brazil has to prepare for an increasing crush of immigrants,” said Andres Ramirez, who represents the UN’s refugee agency in Brazil (Acnur).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Northern League Senators Hold Sit-in on Migrant Law

Anger over plan to relax immigration rules trigger protest

(ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — Angry Northern League Senators occupied the Senate Speaker’s office Thursday morning to protest a debate over easing laws on illegal immigration. Senator Raffaele Volpi, leader among the anti-immigration Northern League Senators, said the sit-in at Speaker Pietro Grasso’s office was called because League opinions were being ignored.

Their protest comes as Italy’s parliament continues to debate abolishing a League-sponsored law criminalizing illegal immigration.

The debate has been widened in recent days to include the role that race plays in political discourse in Italy, after a string of abuse has been hurled at country’s first black cabinet minister, Congolese-born Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge.

Members of the League have often been behind non-violent, verbal abuse against Kyenge, with one leader likening her to an orangutan last year.

Kyenge, once an undocumented immigrant herself, has been at the forefront of the drive to repeal Italy’s strict laws on illegal immigration.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy’s Cecile Kyenge Calls for Action on Rising Racism

Italy’s only black cabinet minister has called for more support as she endures relentless non-violent racist attacks. Cecile Kyenge is in charge of efforts to integrate immigrant communities into wider Italian society and is frequently targeted by right-wing opponents.

Ms Kyenge said Italy’s institutions and political establishment must do more. “Politics must stand up as one and condemn racism lest it become a dangerous weapon that can kill democracy,” the Congolese-born MP said.

Ms Kyenge has faced a torrent of abuse since her appointment in April from the right-wing Northern League party and its supporters.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Kyenge ‘Working Against Italians’, Northern League Says

Black minister accuses anti-immigrant party of racism

(ANSA) — Milan, January 16 — Northern League Secretary Matteo Salvini on Thursday defended his anti-immigration party’s recent campaign against Congolese-born Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, saying her actions were “working against Italians”.

The League has been accused of racism and intimidation after its members targeted Italy’s first black minister, including a senior party figure comparing her to an orangutan, and its newspaper La Padania published her daily schedule on Tuesday.

“Someone is working against unemployed Italians, against Italian income-deprived early retirees, against Italians on temporary redundancy who are paying her salary,” said Salvini in reference to Kyenge, a representative of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) who was appointed in April 2013. The comments, made on morning radio, added fuel to the fire in ongoing debate over the role that race plays in politics as parliament debates whether decriminalise illegal immigration.

Kyenge, once an undocumented immigrant herself, has been at the forefront of the drive to repeal the current law.

The League has said its attacks on Kyenge are of a purely political nature.

“I hope many people support us because it is democracy that is at stake,” said Salvini.

The party secretary added that to abolish the crime of illegal immigration — introduced in a 2001 law sponsored by the League — “would throw open Italy’s doors even further”.

If the criminalisation of illegal immigration has not deterred migrants from trying to reach Italy’s shores it is because the law has not been applied, Salvini said.

Meanwhile, Kyenge on Thursday slammed the League’s campaign as racist and called on her fellow politicians to intervene.

“I think the first thing that needs to be done, that politics needs to do is to call things by their proper name,” said Kyenge, speaking on a separate radio programme. “This is racism. When instruments of democracy such as the press are used incorrectly democracy is in danger. We have gone beyond all limits”, she continued.

“However, I will not back down. I was sworn in as minister to work in the service of my country. I am at the service of my country”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on Texans (2014)

After a brief hiatus that coincided with the worst of the economic recession, Texas’s illegal alien population is on the rise again. There are about 1,810,000 illegal aliens residing in Texas — 70,000 more than resided in the state in 2010 when we estimated the fiscal burden at nearly $8.9 billion annually.

In 2013, illegal immigration cost Texas taxpayers about $12.1 billion annually. That amounts to more than $1,197 for every Texas household headed by a native-born or naturalized U.S. citizen. The taxes paid by illegal aliens — estimated at $1.27 billion per year — do not come close to paying for those outlays, but we include an estimate of revenue from sales taxes, property taxes, alcohol taxes, and cigarette taxes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Are We Forgetting Fathers Matter?

Alana Newman, the child of an anonymous sperm donor, argues that it is wrong to deliberately bring a child into the world without a father.

See her four-minute video at URL, above.

[Return to headlines]

Black Actress Reviled by Racists for Marrying a White Man

Actress Tamera Mowry, who is black, wept in an interview with Oprah Winfrey over the vile bigotry she has encountered because of her marriage to Fox News reporter Adam Housley, who is white. Misogynist haters called Mowry a sellout and a “white man’s whore.” International news outlets labeled the Internet epithets she endured “horrific” and “shocking.”

Horrific? Yes. Shocking? Not at all. What Mowry experienced is just a small taste of what the intolerance mob dishes out against people “of color” who love, think and live the “wrong” way. I’ve grown so used to it that I often forget how hurtful it can be. Mowry’s candor was moving and admirable. It’s also a valuable teachable moment about how dehumanizing it can be to work in the public eye. Have we really sunk to this?

Young actresses in the 21st century forced to defend their love lives because their marital choices are politically incorrect? We’re leaning backward in the regressive Age of Hope and Change.

Let’s face it: Mowry’s sin, in the view of her feckless detractors, is not merely that she married outside her race. It’s also that she is so open about her love for a white man who — gasp! — works for reviled Fox News. Neither of them is political, but the mere association with Bad Things (Fox, conservatives, capitalism, the tea party, Christian activism, traditional values) is an invitation for unabashed hate.


The dirty open secret is that a certain category of public figures has been routinely mocked, savaged and reviled for being partners in interracial marriages or part of loving interracial families (for a refresher, see the video clip of MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry and friends cackling at the holiday photo of Mitt Romney holding his black adopted grandson in his lap).

And the dirty double standard is that selectively compassionate journalists and pundits have routinely looked the other way — or participate directly in heaping on the hate.

Have you forgotten? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was excoriated by black liberals for being married to wife Virginia, who happens to be white. The critics weren’t anonymous trolls on the Internet. They worked for major media outlets and institutions of higher learning. USA Today columnist Barbara Reynolds slammed Thomas and his wife for their colorblind union…


[Return to headlines]

Italian Olympic Official Makes Half Apology for Gay Remarks

‘Absurd’ that US sending ‘four lesbians’ to Sochi

(ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — An senior Italian member of the International Olympic Committee apologized Thursday for “terms” he used to criticize US President Barack Obama in choosing openly gay athletes to represent the United States at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but he insisted that the Games should not be used for political purposes. “I’m not homophobic. Regarding gays I used inappropriate terms,” said Mario Pescante, a former IOC vice president and current head of the IOC’s International Relations Commission. Calling Obama’s move an act of “political terrorism” at an Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) meeting Wednesday, Pescante added it was “absurd that a country like that sends four lesbians to Russia just to demonstrate that in their country gay rights have been established. The Games should not be an occasion and a stage to promote rights that sports supports daily”. On Thursday he reiterated his opposition to “using the Olympics for political purposes”. For the first time in 14 years, the American Olympic delegation will not include a president, vice president and first lady. Instead, representing the US are three openly gay athletes: former tennis great Billie Jean King, retired figure skater Brian Boitano and hockey player Caitlin Cahow.

The delegation was named last month amid Western backlash to Russia’s discriminatory laws regarding the LGBT community. A former middle-distance runner, Pescante was Italy’s supervisor of the 2006 Turin Winter Games and the head of the committee promoting Rome’s abandoned 2020 bid. He is credited with brokering peace talks with Palestinian and Israeli Olympic officials in recent years.

Pescante has been harshly criticized at home for his comments. Prominent Italian gay rights group Gay Center called on him to resign from the IOC on Thursday. And former Italian sport minister and Olympic canoe gold medalist Josefa Idem said Pescante’s “level of tolerance was truly too, too low,” whereas Obama’s delegation she deemed “was not a political provocation”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

No Room at the Inn for the Gideon Bible

There’s no longer room at one inn for the Gideon Bible. UW-Extension has ended a decades-old practice and pulled Gideon Bibles from the 137 guest rooms at The Lowell Center, a campus conference facility it operates at 610 Langdon St. The action followed a complaint from the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama to Nominate First Black Lesbian Judge in 20 Years

President Barack Obama has already nominated more African-American judges and more LGBT judges than any previous president. On Thursday, he’ll announce the nomination of Staci Michelle Yandle, the first African-American lesbian federal judge he’s picked.

Yandle, who’s in private practice, will be Obama’s pick for the district court for the Southern District of his home state of Illinois. If confirmed, that would make her the first African-American judge ever on that court, and the first openly gay judge in the 7th Circuit, which covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Domesticated Dogs May Have Lived With Hunter-Gatherers

A new analysis of dog and wolf DNA collected from animals in areas of the world thought to be centers of dog domestication suggests that dogs and wolves split from a common ancestor between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago. This date is before the human transition to agricultural societies, indicating that the earliest dogs may have lived with hunter-gatherers. The study also shows that dogs are more closely related to each other than to wolves. Any genetic overlap between modern dogs and wolves is probably the result of later interbreeding.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Gauging the Jihadist Movement: Its Goals

In the first of five articles on the Jihadist movement Stratfor examines its goals and success in achieving them.

This is the first installment of a five-part series examining the global jihadist movement. Part 2 analyzes insurgent and terrorist theory. Part 3 defines and evaluates the movement. Part 4 the jihardist movement franchises and grassroots. Part 5 scrutinizes the al Qaeda core as well as gauging the overall implications for security.

[See URL for links in material above to other sections]


When gauging the current state of the jihadist movement, I believe it is useful to use two different standards. The first is to take jihadists’ goals and objectives and measure their progress toward achieving them. The second is to take a look at insurgent theory and terrorism models to see what they can tell us about the state of jihadist militant networks and their efforts. This week we will discuss the first standard: the jihadists’ goals and objectives. Next week we will discuss insurgency and terrorism theories, and then once we have established these two benchmarks we can use them to see how the various elements of the jihadist movement measure up.

Jihadist Goals and Objectives

There is a widely held narrative that jihadists are merely crazy people who employ violence for the sake of violence. This is clearly false. While there are unquestionably some psychotic and sociopathic personalities within the movement, taken as a whole, jihadists’ use of violence — both terrorism and insurgency — is quite rational.


[Return to headlines]

Genetically Modified Corn: Even the Animals Know Better…

When given a choice between GMO or Organic Corn, Squirrels choose organic corn.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Think Tank: “Extraordinary Crisis” Needed to Preserve “New World Order”

Writing for the Atlantic Council, a prominent think tank based in Washington DC, Harlan K. Ullman warns that an “extraordinary crisis” is needed to preserve the “new world order,” which is under threat of being derailed by non-state actors like Edward Snowden.

The Atlantic Council is considered to be a highly influential organization with close ties to major policy makers across the world. It’s headed up by Gen. Brent Scowcroft, former United States National Security Advisor under U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush. Snowcroft has also advised President Barack Obama…

Ullman’s rhetoric sounds somewhat similar to that espoused by Trilateral Commission co-founder and regular Bilderberg attendee Zbigniew Brzezinski, who in 2010 told a Council on Foreign Relations meeting that a “global political awakening,” in combination with infighting amongst the elite, was threatening to derail the move towards a one world government.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

3 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/17/2014

  1. Facts are stubborn things. There will be no getting around the fact that CO2 absorbs and emits infrared radiation. This fact makes it a certainty that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and that more of it in our atmosphere will make the earth warmer.

    The detail work of following this initial reasoning through to quantitative conclusions is reasonably simple if all we want is ballpark estimates for the `climate sensitivity’ (degrees C increase to be expected when atmospheric CO2 reaches double its baseline level of 280 ppm—and right now we’re at about 400) , and extremely demanding if we want estimates that will be good to within give or take 20%. There are feedback loops that are barely understood involving cloud formation. There are mechanisms that can stuff some of the resulting extra heat energy into the ocean, where it mitigates the immediate temperature rise that would otherwise occur, but at the same time, brings about some degree of sea level rise.

    Into these lacunae in our scientific understanding there swarm packs of nay-sayers who insist, reasoning in the same vein as deniers of the link between smoking and cancer have reasoned, that we really don’t know. Well, yeah, we really don’t know everything. We don’t know nearly as much as we’d like. (We still don’t know why some smokers never get lung cancer, for that matter.) We do know, already, enough to know that there’s a real risk that we’ll push the climate into regimes we won’t like, if we bust through 500 and 600 ppm in a business-as-usual attitude toward the use of fossil fuels.

  2. With respect to Sam Grant, I’m not convinced that global warming, if it’s happening at all, is due to human action, rather than natural cycles of solar activity.

    I do suspect that in a century or so, even if substitutes have been found for the (by then) depleted reserves of fossil fuels, our descendants will have difficulty producing essential petroleum-based chemicals and lubricants, and curse us for being so profligate with these finite resources; they won’t even have the rocket fuel to colonise other worlds or bring back their precious minerals.

  3. What Sam is not saying is CO2s effect is known to be logarithmic and we are way past the steep slope so saying increased CO2 will cause increased warmth is a lie, sad but true, as the real reason for the warming was natural, as is the reason for the cooling we have now. Some greenhouse effect would be helpful! The only effect the earth has felt with the CO2 going up a bit is the greening of some arid areas by 15%. Please Sam, explain how that is bad?

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