Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120616

Financial Crisis
»Greece: Social Chaos: Pensions at Risk, Surge in Unemployment
»Greek, Spanish Savings Flee Eurozone Crisis
»Italian Workers Mass to Protest Monti Cuts, Reform
»Not Worth a Continental
»Ratings Agency Downgrades Nokia to Junk Status
»Spain: House Prices Slump 12.6% in First Quarter
»Tensions High Ahead of Second Greek Vote
»‘Bite Me’ Biden Going Rabid
»Bush, Gorbachev, Shultz and Solidarity
»Everything’s Coming Up Jihad: Muslim Lawsuits Against the NYPD
»Facebook Shareholders Sue for Losses as Employees Cash in
»Federal Attorneys Side With Mosque in Expansion Fight
»Global Warming Psychological Babble
»Jimmy Carter and World Chaos
»Niall Ferguson on How Europe Could Cost Obama the Election
»Obama Lunges Toward Global Government
»Obama Seeks US Congressional Ratification of UN Global Gun Control Treaty
»Rutherford County Commission Votes to Appeal Public Notice Ruling on Mosque
»These 6 Corporations Control 90% of the Media in America
»U.S. And Multinational Military Forces Train in South Dakota’s Black Hills
»Who is the White House Mole?
»Ottawa Airport Wired With Microphones to Record Travellers’ Conversations
Europe and the EU
»Busted: Biotech Leader ‘Syngenta’ Charged Over Covering Up Animal Deaths From GM Corn
»Europe: The Truth About Far-Right Violence
»France: Roger Garaudy, Holocaust Denier, Dies
»French Philosopher Roger Garaudy Dies
»Germany: Banning Salafists ‘Won’t Solve Social Problems’
»Greece: Property Tax Evaders Targeted, Minister
»Italians Discover Cancer-Blocking Molecule
»Italy: Ferrari: Montezemolo Named European Manager of 2012
»The West Does Away With Itself — Islam
»UK: Business as Usual
»UK: Fasting at Olympics Will be a Joy to Behold
»UK: Lord Ahmed Cancels Far-Right Meeting
»UK: Leeds Imam Qari Asim Honoured by Queen
»UK: Muslims Urged to Quit Smoking in Time for Ramadan
»UK: New Date Set for Gang Rape Trial
»UK: The Man Who Predicted the European Tragedy
North Africa
»Film: Campaign to Save Star Wars House in Tunisia
»Morocco: Rabat Gets New Look With Gulf Funds
»Morocco: Commander of the Faithful Inaugurates ‘Mohammed VI’ Mosque in Oujda
»Tunisia: Post-Violence, Tourism Sector Fears Another Collapse
Israel and the Palestinians
»Camel Corps Gone But FCO Still Out of Touch
»Masada: Colossal Carmen by Del Monaco
Middle East
»Lebanon: A Book About the “Italian” Story of Tyres Tomb
»US Holds High-Level Talks With Syrian Rebels Seeking Weapons in Washington
South Asia
»British Soldier Killed in Operation Against Afghan Insurgents
»Ethnic Violence in Myanmar Seems ‘Neverending’
»India: Cleric Warms to Beard — Lone Clean-Shaven Kashmir Clergyman Has a Rethink
»Singapore: President Tony Tan Helps to Sell Briyani for Charity
Far East
»China Confirms Forced Abortion Case After Uproar
»Vietnam: 80-Year-Old Mosque in the Heart of Communist Stronghold
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ghana: Muslim Youth Plead More Time to Return Stolen Regalia
»Nigeria: Police, Muslim Youths Exchange Gunfire as Mosque, Houses Are Demolished in Benue
»Amnesty: Italy-Libya Deal to Stop Migrant Flow
Culture Wars
»Soccer: Cassano Sorry for Saying Hoped No Gays in Italy Team
»Swedish Left Party Chapter Wants to Make Urinating While Standing Illegal for Men

Financial Crisis

Greece: Social Chaos: Pensions at Risk, Surge in Unemployment

Funds missing to subsidise jobless people

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — The worst prophecies for Greece seem to actually be taking place and every day which goes by, the situation just seems to worsen. Today it’s the turn of the national insurance, while today again, the Greek statistics institute, ELSTAT, informed that the unemployment rate has reached a new historical peak of 22.6% in the first three months of this year compared to the 20.7% of the previous quarter.

The warning on the disastrous situation of the private sector pension funds was sent by Antonis Roupakiotis, ad interim minister for Labour and National Insurance, who declared that the national insurance funds of the Greek private sector “are at breaking point” and that nobody knows whether the institutes will be able to pay the expected sums this summers. Then, he unhesitatingly added: “On the basis of the data I am in possession of, I foresee that by July the pensioners should begin to worry.” “All the finances of the national insurance funds, especially those handed out by the State budget, are in bad shape,” Roupakiotis said again, specifying that the OAED, the human resources agency (basically the employment agency) requires 260 million euros to pay the unemployment funds.

The minister also defined the unemployment subsidies as “humiliating” and pointed out that only one unemployed person out of five effectively receives it. Roupakiotis also said that about 500 union employees have spent months without salary and that the programmes of social tourism, which give the workers paid-for holidays, have been suspended.

There is also bad news for the state employees. Roupakiotis proposed a series of measures which concern the lowering of salaries for state employees by the body which is to release the funds, the institute for the Insurance of State Employees (TPDY). According to the proposal by the minister, from now on those who will have the right to the total salary will only be the ones with at least 25 years of service. For the employees who have between 12 and 25 years of service, the minister proposes to hand out the insurance gathered during the years worked with the addition of the interests but without the revaluation linked to inflation and other parameters.

The employees who have between 6 and 12 years of service will instead receive 70% of the insurance accumulated plus the interest. Lastly, those who have less than 6 years of service will be entitled to nothing.

The objective of this measure, according to the minister, is that of diminishing the amount of people who are owed a settlement and in this way reduce the Institute’s deficit, indebted for over 1.5 billion euros. The proposal, which no doubt will raise many controversies and anger between government and unions, will be examined by the government that will win on June 17. At the moment there are 53,000 state employees waiting to receive their settlements whereas the average time one must wait to receive their end of service allowance is of over four years.

Speaking of health assistance, Greek pharmacists have informed that they will continue their strike until the Institute for Health Services Supply (EOPYY) will extinguish the debts owed them for the period which runs until April 2012.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greek, Spanish Savings Flee Eurozone Crisis

Savers across Europe are fleeing the continent’s debt crisis. In Europe’s most economically stricken countries, people are taking their money out of their banks as a way to protect their savings from the continent’s growing financial storm. Worried that their savings could be devalued, or that banks are on the verge of collapse and that governments cannot make good on deposit insurance, people in Greece, Spain and beyond are withdrawing euros by the billions — behavior that is magnifying their countries’ financial stresses. The money is being hoarded at home or deposited in banks in more stable economies.

Since the Greek debt crisis broke in late 2009, deposits have fallen by 30 percent cent, as savers have slowly pulled some €72 billion ($90.24 billion) from local lenders, with total household and corporate deposits standing at €165.9 billion ($207.94 billion) in April, according to the latest data from the Bank of Greece.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italian Workers Mass to Protest Monti Cuts, Reform

Tens of thousands of Italian workers rallied in Rome on Saturday to protest pension cuts, tax hikes and labor reforms imposed by the government of Mario Monti and to demand more stable work, particularly for the young.

The demonstration organized by Italy’s main labor unions came a day after Monti’s latest effort to stave off contagion from Europe’s debt crisis. His Cabinet on Friday approved measures worth €80 billion ($100 billion) to spur economic growth, streamline the notoriously bloated public sector and lower the national debt.

In the seven months it has been in power, Monti’s government of technocrats has pushed through painful pension cuts, labor reforms to make it easier to fire workers and tax increases that have cut into the pockets of ordinary Italians already coping with hard times and youth unemployment at a staggering 36 percent.

On Saturday, Monti said the latest measures signaled the start of “phase two” of his government program, to spur growth for an economy already deep in recession. Just last week, official statistics confirmed the economy contracted by 0.8 percent in the first quarter, the worst in three years.

At the colorful rally Saturday full of union flags and balloons, older workers lamented that their pensions don’t get them through the end of the month, particularly with new taxes on primary homes, and that their children have few work options.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Not Worth a Continental

The Federal Reserve System (the Fed) was established in 1913 as one of the cornerstones of the Progressive agenda. They said it was a way to stop the boom and bust cycle which has always been a fixture of capitalist economies. The Fed is America’s third Central Bank.

The First and Second Banks of the United States were born out of Alexander Hamilton’s ideas as expressed in his famous Second Report on Public Credit in 1790. The first bank was allowed to expire and the last was ultimately killed by Andrew Jackson in 1833. Jackson believed the Bank had too great an influence politically and economically.

The United States grew to become the greatest industrial power on earth in the next eighty years without a central bank.


Helicopter Ben has already overseen two rounds of monetary inflation referred to by the mysterious name of Quantitative Easing (QE) which is a fancy way of saying the Fed floods the banks with money. The staggering size of these have only now begun to come to light showing that since the 2008 collapse the Fed has flushed more than 16 trillion dollars out of the pockets of taxpayers and into the hands of banks and corporations both foreign and domestic designated by the Federal Government as too big to fail. That is more money in four years than the entire national debt which has taken 236 years to accumulate and QE 3 is on the way.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Ratings Agency Downgrades Nokia to Junk Status

US ratings agency Moody’s has lowered the credit status of Finnish phone maker Nokia to junk. It’s now reached a speculative level as the company’s business outlook remains negative despite reforms.

Moody’s on Friday lowered its assessment of Nokia by one notch to the speculative level of Ba1, citing as a reason that the company’s outlook remained negative.

“Today’s rating action reflects our view that Nokia’s far-reaching restructuring plan delineates a scale of earnings pressure and cash consumption that is larger than we had previously assumed,” Moody’s Senior Vice President Wolfgang Draack said in a statement.

Nokia, one of the world’s biggest mobile-phone makers, had shocked markets on Thursday by announcing it would cut 10,000 jobs globally by the end of 2013 as a part of deep cost-cutting measures.

The company has been undergoing massive restructuring for over a year, but says it has to implement an additional 1.6 billion euros ($2 billion) in cost reductions, especially impacting its struggling Deices & Services unit.

“A return to profitability also depends on Nokia successfully transitioning its range of smartphones to the new Windows operating system,” Moody’s said in a statement.

The ratings agency identified some positive elements at the Finnish group, noting that despite a number of serious problems Nokia had maintained a strong liquidity position and capital structure.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: House Prices Slump 12.6% in First Quarter

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 13 — House prices continue to fall in Spain, with the yearly drop of 12.6% in the first quarter of this year representing the most significant fall since the figures were first recorded in 2007, according to figures released by the national statistics institute today. The prices of new homes fell by 11.8%, with second-hand homes dropping 13.3%. The fall in prices of unused homes began in 2008 (-5.4%) and continued moderately in 2009 (-4.3%) and 2010 (-1.9%), before accelerating again in 2011 (-11.2%).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tensions High Ahead of Second Greek Vote

On Sunday, the Greeks choose a new parliament for the second time in six weeks. A neck-and-neck race is expected between the center-right pro-European New Democracy party and the radical left Syriza coalition.

If the last election was about the voters teaching the major parties a lesson, this time the central issue for the mainstream parties is the question of whether Greece will remain a member of the eurozone — a dilemma that the leftists reject vehemently.

Surveys suggest that about 75 percent of the Greeks support membership in the euro, but are against the austerity measures in their present form. All the parties are trying to capitalize on this seemingly contradictory mood. The traditionally pro-business conservatives see themselves as the guarantor of the country’s ability to retain the euro, but have also suggested they will tone down the austerity measures.

The far-left Syriza party said the program of cuts is null and void, but that Greece should keep the euro. Nikos Chountis, a former secretary of the party executive and member of the European parliament, is certain: Just like the last election, the vote is a matter of giving the old parties a resounding slap in the face.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


‘Bite Me’ Biden Going Rabid

How else to explain that the Vice President in Obama’s regime believes that all the great cities are located in China and not America?

“If I blindfolded Americans and took them into some of the airports or ports in China, and then took one of them to any of your cities in the middle of the night just so that they could see it,” Biden said. “If I said, ‘which one is in America and which one is in China,’ most Americans would say, ‘That great one is in America.’“ (Rush Limbaugh June 15, 2012)

In other words, Biden mocks Americans who would likely think all the great cities are in the United States, when, according to him they are all, in fact, in smog challenged, Communist China.


No matter how many miles he’s put in globetrotting, Biden has gone no further than his adulating school boy desk in the infamous ‘Drool School for China’, master minded by anti-American UN Poster Boy Maurice Strong.

With millions in his bank account from his self-claimed status as ‘Father of the Environment’, Godfather of the failed Kyoto Treaty and main carny huckster of the upcoming Rio+20, (Rio de Janeiro’s Global Earth Summit 20 years later) Strong has dedicated his lifetime to advancing China as the super power to replace an America he disses in drivel.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Bush, Gorbachev, Shultz and Solidarity

These alliances reflect the new perspective that motivates our globalist leaders to set aside the old rules of involvement and chart a new course for the world. From their point of view, the old-fashioned national sovereignty (or independence) is out, and global solidarity (or interdependence) is in. Now it’s up to the media and our educational “change agents” to persuade the masses to accept their view of the earth as a global village.


Shultz’s friendship with Gorbachev dates back to his years as Secretary of State in the Reagan administration [9] — a time when many of us simply trusted the Republican cabinet to represent American families. In the early eighties, few of us realized that Shultz and David Hamburg, President of the globalist Carnegie Corporation, were using their authority to negotiate a binding international agreement with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.[10] Its terms required that we trade our sophisticated education and data tracking technology for the brainwashing strategies used to indoctrinate Soviet children, modify behavior, and monitor the masses to ensure compliance with Soviet ideology. [11]

To see what George Shultz did to undermine our American education system, rewrite history, change values, and prepare America to accept a new role in the “international community,” ponder the following quotes from The Keys of This Blood by Malachi Martin:


In the new paradigm, the old absolutes based on the Bible and the Constitution must be reinterpreted or discarded. So when Bush spoke of “old notions and ideologies” and a “revolution in American education”, he had already prepared his plan for changing the minds of America. The management system had been designed by UNESCO, and the psycho-social strategies for altering our children’s beliefs and values had been promoted by UNESCO but imported from the Soviet Union.

In other words, everything that had made American education the envy of the world was now obsolete. In the ashes of the old ways would arise the UN plan for global education, tested in the Soviet Union, and designed to mold compliant servers for the 21st Century “sustainable communities.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Everything’s Coming Up Jihad: Muslim Lawsuits Against the NYPD

June has been a banner month for Muslim lawsuits against the NYPD. First “Muslim Advocates” filed a lawsuit against the NYPD on behalf of some New Jersey Muslims attending mosques that the NYPD had assessed as a potential terrorism risk. The “Muslim Advocates”, like every other Muslim “civil rights” group, has a history of covering up and defending terrorism

The media is full of sympathetic interviews with Muslims, who are baffled as to why the NYPD might be surveiling mosques and Imams. Farhoud Khera, the head of Muslim Advocates, complains, “There was explicit reference to the fact that they weren’t targeting Syrian Jews or Iranian Jews or Egyptian Christians, but really, the focus was on Muslims.”

The extensive Coptic Christian and Persian Jewish terrorism sprees aside, the goal here is to get the NYPD to play the same “Three Blind Monkeys” game that Federal law enforcement has taken up. And the only answer is the TSAization of the NYPD, as the last remaining counterterrorism force will prove that it isn’t singling out Muslims, by surveiling Methodist churches and Chassidic synagogues for signs of terrorist sympathies.


The Arab Spring has revealed the ugly truth that, given the vote, the Farhans in Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey will vote to imprison gays, oppress Christians, suppress women and all the way down the long awful checklist of the Islamic formula for a moral society. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a fantasy in America, but it’s how most people agree things should be in the Muslim world. The media is selflessly dedicated to lying about that simple fact, no matter how many of their reporters get raped, taken hostage or killed, until the truth becomes impossible to conceal.


But what happens when a police force has a lot of Farhan Does working on it? For the answer to that, we can take a trip to sunny Dearbonistan, where Christians were arrested for “Disturbing the Peace” and “Failure to Obey a Police Order”, which as it turned out was a legalism for “Being Christian in a place claimed by Muslims”.

Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad (not to be confused with Ron Haddad Jr of Illinois, charged with domestic terrorism) testified that a protest outside an area mosque should not be allowed to take place, because its Imam had told him that it would be worse than a thousand deaths. Presumably three of them would be worse than September 11.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Facebook Shareholders Sue for Losses as Employees Cash in

The fallout from Facebook’s botched initial public offering is moving to the courtroom as shareholders sue for losses. Many of the social network’s employees became millionaires after the market debut.

Facebook’s chief technology officer resigned his post on Friday to begin a new startup with money earned from the company’s initial public offering, while dozens of shareholders have filed lawsuits against the social network for losses sustained during its hyped market debut.

Bret Taylor, who oversees the social network’s main platform and mobile business, said he would leave Facebook this summer to start a new company with a friend. Taylor did not mention what kind of company he was interested in starting.

“I’m sad to be leaving, but I’m excited to be starting a company with my friend Kevin Gibbs,” Taylor said. “While a transition like this is never easy, I’m extremely confident in the teams and leadership we have in place.”

Many Facebook employees made millions from the company’s $16-billion (12.6 billion euro) initial public offering (IPO) on May 18. But dozens of shareholders are suing the social network for losses they incurred in the aftermath of the company’s lackluster debut. Facebook has lost a fifth, or $20 billion, in value from the IPO stock price of $38. Some 40 state and federal lawsuits have been filed against the company as a consequence.

Some of the suits claim that Facebook and its main underwriters — Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs — only informed preferred clients about lowered profit forecasts prior to the IPO. The social network has been struggling to sustain its advertising revenue as many users move to mobile devices.

In a motion filed on Thursday, Facebook said that federal regulators do not require companies to include revenue or profit forecasts in IPO documents.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Federal Attorneys Side With Mosque in Expansion Fight

ALPHARETTA, Ga. - In court filings this week, United States Department of Justice attorneys conclude the city of Alpharetta may have discriminated against a mosque by denying its plans to expand. The Islamic Center of North Fulton wants to tear down its existing facility to build a much larger one on its Rucker Road property. “They’re in a very inadequate facility,” attorney Doug Dillard told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik. “They don’t have adequate facilities for them to bathe properly before they worship, to pray properly, for them to listen to the imam.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Global Warming Psychological Babble

The global warming alarmists have become so desperate in light of ever-increasing numbers of skeptics that they are trying to tie everything to global warming. Take for instance the Congressional Report Service paper prepared specifically to inform members and committees of Congress (“SEC Climate Change Disclosure Guidance: An Overview and Congressional Concerns,” Gary Shorter, May 24, 2012)

The Securities and Exchange Commission published a document, describing how publicly traded companies should apply existing disclosure rules to the risk that climate change developments may have on their businesses. (“Commission Guidance Regarding Disclosure Related to Climate Change,” January 27, 2010)

In response to this resource-wasteful guidance, Senator John Barrasso and Representative Bill Posey of the 112th Congress introduced similar bills, S. 1393 and H.R. 2603, prohibiting the enforcement of the SEC’s climate change disclosure guidance.


The most egregious stretch of manufactured global warming effects is a 55-page report published in February 2012 by the National Wildlife Federation titled, “The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: And Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System is Not Adequately Prepared.”

Prepared by a forensic psychiatrist and an attorney who adapted in 2006 Al Gore’s book and film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” into a training course curriculum, the lengthy psychobabble, a “national forum and research report,” chastises Americans for “the adolescent-like disregard for the dangers we are warned of, driving green house gases up with only casual concern.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Jimmy Carter and World Chaos

Every President has a library built in his honor. Most Presidents have some exhibits showing their accomplishments. What would Jimmy’s be? He sold peanuts. He helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity. Yes, I think that must have been his best positive accomplishment. But then there are all the negatives. He sold out the Shah of Iran, one of our staunchest Allies, while at the same time subjecting the good people of Iran to a wave of terror to rival Hitler’s Third Reich and Stalin’s Worker’s Paradise.

But his greatest claim to fame (or should I say infamy) is that he opened the flood gates of Godless Islam to destroy the lives of millions all over the Middle East and Africa and to challenge and perhaps finally destroy the mighty United States. Only Hussein Obama has done more damage to the world than Carter. And that is because he had Carter’s legacy to build on.

For thirty years, in some cases more, the Islamic countries have been ruled by strong leaders who kept the violence and insanity of Islam under control. Some may call them tyrants or dictators, and it is certainly true that some of them were insane and brutal and enemies of the free world. But at the same time they kept the Islamic revolutions in each country from joining with those in other countries to form a grand coalition against us.


It is not my contention that the Muslim leaders who have been dethroned or are about to be removed are, or were, men of perfect culture, justice, or morality. I simply make the point that things are far worse now in the individual countries and for the world since the world encouraged their ouster. And the worst part is that very soon those mobs will join together to try to destroy Israel and the United States.

Let us take a moment to look at some of the Islamic leaders who were holding the lid down in their countries.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Niall Ferguson on How Europe Could Cost Obama the Election

Could Europe cost Barack Obama the presidency? At first sight, that seems like a crazy question. Isn’t November’s election supposed to be decided in key swing states like Florida and Ohio, not foreign countries like Greece and Spain? And don’t left-leaning Europeans love Obama and loathe Republicans?

Sure. But the possibility is now very real that a double-dip recession in Europe could kill off hopes of a sustained recovery in the United States. As the president showed in his anxious press conference last Friday, he well understands the danger emanating from across the pond. Slower growth and higher unemployment can only hurt his chances in an already very tight race with Mitt Romney.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Lunges Toward Global Government

One of the biggest issues in the November election is whether we will continue or stop President Obama’s move toward restricting U.S. sovereignty and rushing down the road to global governance. One would think that the obvious failure of the European Union and disdain for the euro would put the skids on global integration, but no such luck.

Obama has such delusions of his own power that he thinks he can do by executive order whatever he cannot get Congress to approve, even Harry Reid’s Democratic Senate. Obama’s most recent executive order starts off with the extravagant claim that it is issued “by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America.”

On the contrary, the President is not vested with the authority asserted in Executive Order 13609, which locks us into a worldwide regulatory system and thereby gives up a huge slice of U.S. economic and environmental sovereignty. The proclaimed purpose is to globally harmonize regulations on environmental, trade, and even legislative processes.

This Executive Order is larded with globalist gobbledygook about the obligation of our regulatory system to “protect public health, welfare, safety and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation.” Those pie-in-the-sky goodies are designed to benefit “an increasingly global economy,” rather than the United States.


The next step of the global governance lobby is likely to be a push for U.S. acceptance of the United Nations’ demand for a global tax on all financial transactions “to offset the costs of the enduring economic, financial, fuel, climate and food crises, and to protect basic human rights.” That’s on the agenda for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro this month known as Rio+20.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Seeks US Congressional Ratification of UN Global Gun Control Treaty

Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State has announced that the Obama administration is working with the United Nations (UN) to approve, through the US Congress, the Small Arms Treaty (SAT).

Clinton affirmed that the US would facilitate talks with the UN in the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, as long as it “operates under the rules of consensus decision-making. Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the Treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly.”

This global gun control scheme, concocted by the UN, is called the International Arms Control Treaty (IACT). Disguised as a way to combat terrorism, insurgents and international criminals, this document endeavors to secure the world’s citizens cannot defend themselves.

The IACT will empower the UN to literally force the US government to:

  • Enact internationally agreed licensing requirements for Americans
  • Confiscate and destroy unauthorized firearms of Americans while allowing the US government to keep theirs
  • Ban trade, sale and private ownership of semi-automatic guns
  • Create and mandate an international registry to organize an encompassing gun confiscation in America

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Rutherford County Commission Votes to Appeal Public Notice Ruling on Mosque

Chancellor voided mosque’s site approval because of inadequate notice

MURFREESBORO — The Rutherford County Commission voted 15-6 Thursday night to appeal a court ruling that voided approval of a mosque. “I just can’t imagine an appellate court would agree we should discriminate,” Commissioner Trey Gooch said before the vote.

County Attorney Jim Cope estimates that the legal fee cost to appeal will be in the $15,000 to $25,000 range. While waiting for the appeal to work its way through the courts, Chancellor Robert Corlew’s Wednesday ruling banning the county from issuing a certificate of occupancy to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro will stand unless it’s overturned or he dissolves it, Cope added.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

These 6 Corporations Control 90% of the Media in America

This infographic created by Jason at Frugal Dad shows that almost all media comes from the same six sources.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

U.S. And Multinational Military Forces Train in South Dakota’s Black Hills

The Rapid City Journal reports today that the Golden Coyote training exercise is underway in the Black Hills of South Dakota:

Here for the Golden Coyote training exercise, military units are working to re-create the stress of combat and mixture of civilian, tourist and wildlife populations soldiers encounter in war theaters such as Iraq and Afghanistan, all while training with foreign soldiers.

In addition to military units from six countries and 17 states, the exercise includes units from the United Kingdom,Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Suriname.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Who is the White House Mole?

There has been a series of leaks of classified information from the White House in an effort to portray President Obama as a tough American foreign policy leader, but no official has resigned from the administration or the Obama campaign in disgrace or protest. This suggests the betrayal of state secrets is being condoned or ignored at the highest levels. Not surprisingly, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is resisting the appointment of a special or outside counsel to probe the scandal.

If it is so easy to turn over national security information to the media, it may be just as easy to turn the state secrets directly over to the enemy. Either way, our adversaries benefit.

Starting with Obama and then moving through Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and on to campaign adviser David Axelrod, we have individuals who could not pass a basic FBI background check.


Congress is part of the problem and got us into this mess to begin with.

Congress gave Panetta a pass when he became CIA director and then Secretary of Defense, despite his long record of associations with identified communist Hugh DeLacy, who had connections to the Chinese government. Not surprisingly, the Soros-funded Media Matters came to Panetta’s defense, accusing conservatives of a “smear” for raising the inconvenient facts about his record, including opposition to President Reagan’s anti-communist defense policies. Media Matters has White House connections and specializes in intimidating the media when they dare to question the White House line.

Fortunately, the facts, including some of a personal nature, were included in a column by the courageous Diana West, who commented that the evidence showed that Panetta had “a cordial, long-term relationship in the 1970s and 1980s” with Hugh DeLacy, a Communist Party USA member elected to one term in Congress while pretending to be a Democrat in 1944. Incriminating “Dear Hugh” and “Dear Leon” documents were obtained by researcher Trevor Loudon at the University of Washington.


Another suspicious Obama associate, David Axelrod, is a former Chicago Tribune reporter who became Obama’s chief strategist and appears regularly on television as the face of the campaign. He once worked closely with David Simon Canter, a communist operative investigated by Congress as an agent of the Soviet Union. Axelrod was “within the extreme orbit of the old Chicago CPUSA [Communist Party] apparatus,” writes Professor Paul Kengor, author of a forthcoming book on Frank Marshall Davis and his Chicago and Hawaii networks.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Ottawa Airport Wired With Microphones to Record Travellers’ Conversations

Sections of the Ottawa airport are now wired with microphones that can eavesdrop on travellers’ conversations.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is nearing completion of a $500,000 upgrade of old video cameras used to monitor its new “customs controlled areas,” including the primary inspection area for arriving international passengers.

As part of the work, the agency is introducing audio-monitoring equipment as well.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Busted: Biotech Leader ‘Syngenta’ Charged Over Covering Up Animal Deaths From GM Corn

In a riveting victory against genetically modified creations, a major biotech company known as Syngenta has been criminally charged for denying knowledge that its GM Bt corn actually kills livestock. What’s more is not only did the company deny this fact, but they did so in a civil court case that ended back in 2007. The charges were finally issued after a long legal struggle against the mega corp initiated by a German farmer named Gottfried Gloeckner whose dairy cattle died after eating the Bt toxin and coming down with a ‘mysterious’ illness.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe: The Truth About Far-Right Violence

A shocking new report documents patterns of far-right violence across Europe.

As concerns mount about the violence of elected far-right politicians in Greece, and Sol Campbell warns black and Asian football fans against travelling to Poland and the Ukraine for Euro 2012, the Institute of Race Relations reveals that the problem of far-right violence is not confined to a few European countries. On the contrary, a new geography of racism is fast developing as extremists set up shop in rural areas, towns and city neighbourhoods in every country of Europe.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Roger Garaudy, Holocaust Denier, Dies

PARIS, June 15 (UPI) — Roger Garaudy, a longtime Communist who fought in the French resistance in World War II but became a Holocaust denier in old age, has died. He was 98. Garaudy’s death was announced by the Web site Egalite et Reconciliation. He died Wednesday at his home in a Paris suburb, Chennevières-sur-Marne. His career was marked by feuds. His dispute with another philosopher, Michel Foucault, led him to change universities, Radio France Internationale reported, and he even turned on the Muslim cleric who converted him to Islam.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

French Philosopher Roger Garaudy Dies

Controversial French philosopher Roger Garaudy has died at the age of 98.

An ex-member of the communist party, he converted to Islam in the 1980s. His 1996 book The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics denied that the killing of Jews by the Nazis constituted genocide. He was given a suspended jail sentence for Holocaust denial in 1998. During the war Garaudy joined the French Resistance and later wrote more than 50 books — mainly on political philosophy and Marxism. He was expelled from the French Communist Party in 1970 after criticising the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Born into a Catholic family, he initially converted to Protestantism before rejoining the Catholic Church and eventually embracing Islam.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: Banning Salafists ‘Won’t Solve Social Problems’

German authorities carried out a major crackdown on radical Salafist Muslims on Thursday, raiding properties and banning an organization. German media commentators welcome the moves but warn that bans aren’t enough to change how extremists think.

The debate on Salafists, members of a fundamentalist strain of Islam who are suspected of having close ties to Islamist extremists, has been raging in Germany for months. Following a number of recent violent incidents, including the stabbing of police officers in Bonn, there have been growing calls for the government to act.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Greece: Property Tax Evaders Targeted, Minister

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 14 — Greece’s tax authorities are going after the more than 500,000 property owners who refrained from paying the special tax tagged on to electricity bills last year, while official figures put revenues from the tax at over 2.2 billion euros. The Finance Ministry, as daily Kathimerini reported, is more than satisfied with the collections from the special tax, imposed last year for the first time and set to continue for this year. If tax authorities do get to collect the money due by the half a million owners who have not paid, receipts will exceed 3 billion euros. Although there is a caretaker in the minister’s chair, he has reportedly exercised particular pressure on the tax collection mechanism in a bid to increase revenues, and has enjoyed a degree of moderate success in that field, as tax offices have been reporting increased revenues over the last few days. Minister Giorgos Zannias held a meeting with the other top ministry officials on Wednesday and discussed the results of the first five months as well as the prospects for the summer, which promises to be a particularly difficult period. The meeting heard that cross-checking is bearing fruit, while receipts from overdue debts are constantly increasing. It was also confirmed that the disposable cash in the public coffers amounts to 2 billion euros, which will only serve state needs until July 20.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italians Discover Cancer-Blocking Molecule

Possible breakthrough in fight against melanoma

(ANSA) — Rome, June 15 — Italian researchers have discovered a molecule that may be a breakthrough in the fight against melanoma, or skin cancer, a report said Friday.

Scientists at Rome’s Catholic University have found that the molecule HINT1 both blocks the growth of tumorous cells and prevents the mutation of healthy ones in cases of melanoma.

Alessandro Sgambato headed the research team with collaborators from Columbia University and Harvard University in the United States. “We have shown that HINT1 is frequently deactivated in melanoma cells in humans, and its reactivation reduces the growth and the malignity of the tumor,” said Sgambato. The team, which published the findings in Cell Cycle magazine, believe the discovery may lead to life-saving pharmaceuticals, both against melanoma and perhaps other forms of cancer as well. Melanoma is a very aggressive type of tumor that represents the world’s leading cause of death in cases of skin cancer. Cases of melanoma have increased more than any other tumor in recent decades due to the growing popularity of tanning salons and heightened sun exposure, doctors say.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Ferrari: Montezemolo Named European Manager of 2012

European Business Press award for ‘outstanding work’

(ANSAmed) — BOLOGNA, JUNE 15 — Ferrari President and Chairman Luca di Montezemolo has been named European Manager of 2012. He was given the award by European Business Press, an organisation of the major European economic dailies, during the group’s annual meeting in Como. Ferrari’s website states: Montezemolo has been recognised for his “outstanding work” in the management of Ferrari, which contributed to making it one of the most famous brands in the world”, as well as his work in the NTV group and the Charme fund. European Business Press (EBP), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is an organisation composed of 48 European economic newspapers and magazines from 27 countries. Members include The Wall Street Journal Europe, Handelsblatt, Les Echos and Milano Finanza. The European Manager of the Year award received by Montezemolo for the year 2012 has existed since 1991 and the winner is chosen in a vote by the editors in chief of the publications that are members of the organisation. During the awards ceremony, the association spoke about how between 1991 and today Ferrari has “completely renewed its product line” under Montezemolo, returned to “victory on the Formula One circuit” and “achieved incredible commercial results, increasing its turnover tenfold while maintaining its exclusiveness”. EBP also mentioned another of Ferrari’s achievements under Montezemolo: the “geographical expansion” which makes Ferrari present in 60 countries worldwide. Montezemolo’s commitment to improve the quality of life of workers at the factory in Maranello, which “has become a worldwide symbol of excellence and attention to individuals”, was also cited.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The West Does Away With Itself — Islam

In 2010, former German Bundesbank-Vorstand and Ex-Senator of Berlin, Thilo Sarrazin, published his book “Deutschland schafft sich ab: Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen.” The title translates, more or less, to “Germany does away with itself: how we gamble with our country.”

Sarrazin’s Core Message

Immigrants from Islamic countries fail to readily integrate with their adopted societies.

In turn, that failure includes the corollaries:

1. The rise of Islam within Europe 2. The current socialistic/Marxist path of Europe

My own perception is that most of the western world is going down the same path of slow but steady self-destruction. The Rise of Islam

The rise of Islam in the western world has been well documented. Numerous articles by Daniel Greenspan and Alan Caruba published at Canada Free Press can serve as references. If I may summarize, the underlying tenet is the incompatibility of a religious belief (Islamic claims) with its secular desires (Islamic facts) to dominate the world.


One basic tenet of Islam is to present itself to non-believers solely as a religion. Most people of other faiths fall for that ruse. In the rare event that anyone asks some inconvenient questions they are quickly explained as ‘it’s all due to some erratic elements within the Islamic community, wrong interpretations of the Koran by some of its teachers, misunderstandings by outsiders, and so forth. ‘

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Business as Usual

A legal observer examining the policing of a February English Defence League (EDL) demo in Leicester, describes how its members were protected by the police whilst counter-protesters were ‘kettled’ and harassed.

You had to wonder at and yet be extremely concerned about mass kettling and the suspension of rights to free assembly and movement on 4 February 2012 in Leicester. The police used their extensive public order powers to limit the right of people to protest against the EDL marching through the centre. From where I stood (kettled) EDL marchers could wander without hindrance in the city centre, making gestures of defiance and enjoying the protection of the police. This was business as usual in Leicester; the EDL free to march and the new mayor and Leicestershire Constabulary acquiescing to its demands and allowing its members free rein to march through the city. In contrast, Leicester United Against Fascism (UAF), independent anti fascists and groups of young Muslim people were tightly controlled.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Fasting at Olympics Will be a Joy to Behold

by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed

My Olympics tickets arrived this week. I was originally down on the Games — with the looming transport difficulties, risks of terrorism and possible disease pandemics — but now I’ve decided to ditch my British gloominess and embrace the occasion.

But there’s a challenge to negotiate: it will be Ramadan, and I’ll be fasting. When the Olympics were first announced for London during July, there was immediate uproar about its conflict with the holy month. How would the many Muslim athletes from around the world combine their desire to fast with one of their great sporting moments? Was the timing inconsiderate, perhaps even a deliberate slight?


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Lord Ahmed Cancels Far-Right Meeting

The controversial peer Lord Ahmed has cancelled plans to host members of an extreme right-wing group at the House of Lords this week. Lord Ahmed, currently suspended from the Labour Party for allegedly offering a “bounty” for the assassination of US President Obama, was due to chair a meeting at the Lords on restoring diplomatic relations with Iran. He said he had not been informed about the background of the participants. According to anti-fascist campaigners Searchlight, the event organiser was Ministry of Peace founder Dr James Thring, an anti-Zionist activist who has been vocally supported by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Leeds Imam Qari Asim Honoured by Queen

A mosque leader who has worked “tirelessly” to build bridges between communities in Leeds since the 7 July terror attacks has been appointed MBE.

Qari Asim is recognised in the Birthday Honours list for services to inter-faith relations and the community. The 34-year-old solicitor, who is Imam of the Makkah Masjid mosque, said he felt “incredibly humbled”. He held an open day at his Hyde Park mosque after the London bombings to try to enhance community relations.


[JP note: Absurd.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslims Urged to Quit Smoking in Time for Ramadan

MUSLIMS are being urged to quit smoking in time for Ramadan. The religious event, which takes place around July 20, is one of the most important months in the Islamic calendar. Muslim adults refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours, and this includes smoking and using other tobacco products such as hookah or shisha. Janet Walton, NHS East Lancashire head of public health development, said: “We are encouraging people to plan ahead and contact the stop smoking service in order to be quit in time for Ramadan.”


[JP note: The NHS should also urge Muslims to quit raping white girls.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: New Date Set for Gang Rape Trial

A NEW date for the trial of six Brierfield men accused of sexually exploiting and abusing a 14-year-old girl has been set. The jury at Burnley Crown Court was dramatically discharged by the judge yesterday and the case has been adjourned until March 13th, 2013.

Mohammed Imran Amjad (25), of Halifax Road; Haroon Mahmood (21), of John Street; Mohammed Suleman Farooq (22), of Berry Street; Omar Mazafer (21), of Halifax Road; Mohammed Zeeshan Amjad (24), of Halifax Road and Shiraz Afzal (25), of Mansfield Crescent, all of Brierfield, are accused of various sex offences against the victim.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Man Who Predicted the European Tragedy

by Ed West

In 1959 the Conservative Government was embroiled in a scandal after 11 inmates were clubbed to death by guards at the Hola camp in Kenya. The authorities had tried to cover up the incident, and then to downplay it. But Harold Macmillan’s government was shamed by a Conservative MP who denounced the inhumanity in Parliament, calling it a “fearful doctrine, which must recoil upon the heads of those who pronounce it”. It was a stirring speech on behalf of the doctrine that Africans should be treated equally. That man was Enoch Powell, who was born 100 years ago today.

To a later generation, Powell became the bogeyman in a multicultural paradise, a sinister Victorian throwback whose inflammatory words had terrorised defenceless immigrants. Such is the notoriety and “brand toxicity” that in 2007 a Conservative candidate was forced to resign after suggesting that Powell’s immigration warnings were correct. And yet, 14 years after his death, Powell should now be recognised as the prophet of an altogether different post-war experiment — the European project. As Jean Monnet’s dream turns to tragedy for millions, Powell’s assertion that “Europe can never be a democracy because there is no European demos” has proved completely true.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Film: Campaign to Save Star Wars House in Tunisia

Briton raises USD 12,000 for restoration

(ANSAmed) — TUNISIA, JUNE 14 — It was Skywalker’s house in the Star Wars series, but after George Lucas’s cast wrapped up the shooting at the end of 2000 it has been more or less abandoned and may soon fall into utter squalor in the desert zones near Matmata in southern Tunisia, where there are also the remains of prehistoric homes.

This is heart-wrenching news for the millions of Star Wars fans, and a 35-year-old British insurance agent, Mark Cox, has decided to stop this scenario from coming into being. The latter has begun raising funds for its renovation and restoration, starting from the distinctive rounded roof which in the film series was supposed to have been located on the planet Tatooine. Through word-of-word over social networks, Cox has already rounded up USD 12,000 through 425 donations to be used for restoration. The plan is to make the Skywalker House in Matmata into a “film cult” place of pilgrimage for Lucas’s fans, perhaps with a small museum bringing together what is left of the film footage.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Morocco: Rabat Gets New Look With Gulf Funds

Abu Dhabi funds “citadel” of luxury in Moroccan capital

(ANSAmed) — RABAT0- >From the mausoleum of Mohammad V, one of the most famous monuments in Rabat, it is impossible not to see it: an immense building site along the edge of the Bouregreg river, between Morocco’s administrative capital and its twin city Salé. The project aims to change the face of Morocco’s capital by building by the end of 2012 a residential and holiday complex called Bab El Bahr, the “gate to the sea”.

From the giant level ground of red earth seen today, lodgings for over 10,000 people will be built, with two hotels, a hostel, and a cultural district including seven museums, two seafront areas and 300 shops. A surface area of 61,000 square metres will be set aside for offices and even a school building is planned: a de facto “citadel” connecting Rabat and Salé, which is taking shape thanks to funding from Abu Dhabi. Six airlines from the Gulf emirate backing Al Maabar, a company investing beyond the nation’s borders and which is putting up 50% of the funds for Bab El Bahr in Morocco. The other 50% is instead from the coffers of the Moroccan state agency Agence Bouregreg, for a total cost of about 600 million euros. One of the seafront areas is already at an advanced stage, and a small section of the luxury flats being built will be handed over during the coming weeks to the first purchasers, 10% of whom are represented by “investors from the Gulf who love Morocco and Rabat”, as has been said on numerous occasions by the head of sales and marketing of Agence Bouregreg, Jaouad Dadi. The latter percentage may rise further: the Bab El Bahr project was hugely successful during the most recent edition of Cityscape Abu Dhabi, one of the most important international events for the real estate sector.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Morocco: Commander of the Faithful Inaugurates ‘Mohammed VI’ Mosque in Oujda

Oujda — HM King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, inaugurated, On Friday in Oujda, the “Mohammed VI” mosque, wherein His Majesty performed the Friday prayer. Stretching over a surface area of 12,000 square meters with a hosting capacity of 3000 faithful, the new religious monument was completed for a total cost of 60 million dirhams funded by the Ministry of Endowments (Habous) and Islamic Affairs. The new mosque, one of the largest in the Kingdom, houses two prayer halls for men and women, accommodations for the Imam and the Muezzin, a library and a hall for the teaching of the Koran.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Post-Violence, Tourism Sector Fears Another Collapse

But ministry reassures, few cancellations this year

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS — Just when the tourism sector in Tunisia thought that it managed to put last year’s disastrous season in the past following the dramatic days of the Jasmine Revolution, the sector is dealing again with the uncertainty that the country’s security situation is creating in foreign markets. The season seemed to start off on the right foot because a good number of tourists had returned, mainly flooding into the villages and sites in the south, which has always been a cornerstone of the sector. This is the effect of several factors: established quality of what the country offers at prices that are still extremely low compared to the competition; assurances from the government regarding the domestic situation; an intense communication campaign directed at foreign markets (focusing on traditional markets like Europe, and emerging markets such as Russia); the confidence expressed by the big airline companies, as well as low cost carriers, which, by upping the number of flights and lowering prices, contributed to making the country an attractive destination once again. But this was all ruined by an explosion of violence in the capital and across the country which has received widespread coverage in the international press, especially in the countries that are sources of tourists. Now everyone is gearing up for another difficult situation with one concern in mind: tourism is the only positive sector in the beleaguered Tunisian economy and every blow to its image translates into a series of negative reactions in the markets. Yesterday, Tourism Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh, wanted to provide reassuring messages, stating that since the start of the year the rate of cancellations was only 5%, a near-normal figure in a predictable market like tourism, which is still volatile at the same time because it is sensitive to security issues, such as those that have recently been raised by the events in Tunisia. Basically, the minister is doing his job, but he certainly cannot predict whether or not the disorders from the beginning of the week will have further repercussions. Officials in the sector, including tour operators, travel agencies, hotel owners, and workers, have decided to make their concerns public and will hold a protest tomorrow in Tunis, calling for the government to work harder on the country’s security issues. In the document that they addressed to the government led by Hamadi Djebali to announce their protest, they simply called for the law to be respected. The protests will take on a national character because tomorrow vehicles will arrive in Tunis from across the country in order to underscore that the problem is hitting the entire nation. And, so as not to leave room for interpretation regarding who is the real recipient of their requests, tomorrow morning the protest will begin at the Tourism Ministry and end in front of the Interior Ministry.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Camel Corps Gone But FCO Still Out of Touch

by Martin Bright

This week I came to the conclusion that the Foreign Office genuinely believes it is in tune with mainstream Jewish opinion in this country. The convention of background briefings to journalists means that I can only state that I “understand” this. I cannot identify or quote my sources. But, believe me, I do understand this to be the case. The FCO is under the distinct impression that most reasonable UK Jews are opposed to Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance on settlement building, that William Hague is right to express his deep concern, and that present Israeli government policy is damaging the chances of restarting the peace process.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Masada: Colossal Carmen by Del Monaco

Bizet opera under fatal heat of rock, stage surpasses singing

(ANSAmed) — MASADA (ISRAEL), JUNE 12 — The rock plateau of Masada has been turned blood red in recent days. This is not the blood of the sect of rebel zealots who killed themselves (and their women and children) to avoid surrendering to the Roman legions 2,000 years ago, but rather the result of a sumptuous illumination in an unusual production of Carmen, which is distinguished by the “colossal layout” of Giancarlo Del Monaco, the globetrotting opera director and son of the great Mario Del Monaco.

Bizet’s masterpiece was the crowing glory of the third edition of the Masada Festival, which ended today with a fifth re-run. The event, which this year received funding worth the equivalent of 8 million euros from the Israeli government, is attempting to become a yearly appointment, exploiting the adventure that the place represents.

As in previous editions of the festival, directions and stage designs took precedence over the “bel canto” and the orchestra directing of Daniel Oren. This much seems clear from reviews by the sternest of critics, which were not without negative comments in some Israeli papers concerning a show that is necessarily not to the tastes of purists. The opera was performed in a great open space, in which singers, chorus and musicians had no choice but to use microphones, as they had done during the “patriotic” Nabucco of 2010 or last year’s more controversial performance of Aida.

The surroundings were the most obvious setting for the adventure, as an exhausted but contented Del Monaco tells ANSA. Yet they also made for the most extreme of challenges, with the torrid climate of the depression of the Dead Sea, the desert isolation, the hot and sandy winds that can wreak havoc with the voices of the artists, as well as the occasional close encounter with snakes and scorpions.

Yet the public reception was positive on the whole. An average of 8,000 spectators per performance was recorded, with the arrival of enthusiasts from abroad and the attendance of the country’s establishment — the Israeli President, Shimon Peres, attended the opening night of Carmen on June 7. The ovation from the audience was directed in particular at the verve of the Italian singer Anna Malavasi, who alternated the role of Carmen with the less fortunate Spanish singer, Nancy Fabiola Herrera (whose voice gave way, forcing her to be replaced halfway through the premiere by the promising Israeli understudy, Nahama Goldman) and at the Croatian singer Lana Kos, in the role of Micaela.

But there was even greater applause and surprise at the choreography of the 30-strong Spanish dance group and at the majestic scenes dreamed up by Del Monaco junior and William Orlandi. The Italian director, who has decades of experience as artistic director in Germany, France, Spain and other countries outside of Europe, managed to obtain unprecedented permission temporarily to strip part of the archaeological site and transform it, after almost three months of excavations, into a natural stage at the foot of the Masada rock plateau. The extraordinary visual effect, heightened by the huge lighting installations, could not be rivaled by the artificial sets of Nabucco and Aida. The open-air theatre was the stage for 300 appearances (with around 3,000 costumes), with the most spectacular scenes (such as the quadrille of the toreador) the cue for chariots and real horses and donkeys.

“It was a challenge and in some ways an obstacle course, but the financial commitment of the Israeli authorities was exemplary and the result went down well with the public, and that’s the main thing” said Giancarlo Del Monaco, suitcase in hand and ready for his trip to China for another performance, before returning to Italy on August 2, for the concert event in Macerata — which features great names from lyric opera and singers of the standing of Al Bano or Francesco Renga) — marking the 30th anniversary of the death of Mario Del Monaco.

Giancarlo’s brother, Claudio, himself an opera director, is also hoping to be there, but is still recovering from a knife attack and near family tragedy of Jesolo a few months ago.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Lebanon: A Book About the “Italian” Story of Tyres Tomb

Roman monument restored on Cooperation’s initiative

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, 11 JUNE — From the day in May 1937 when it was discovered, to the day in 1939 when it was taken to the National Museum in Beirut; from the dark days of the civil war, when it was covered in water in the basement of the building hit by shelling, to the day of its rebirth, when its frescoes were brought back to their original splendour thanks to restoration works funded by the Italian Cooperation: this is the amazing story of Tyres’ tomb, a tomb originally built nearby the same location in Southern Lebanon during the Roman Empire. The book about the tomb’s adventurous story has been presented today by Lebanon’s Minister of Culture, Gaby Layoun, and by the Italian Ambassador, Giuseppe Morabito.

The tomb (whose base is 6.30x5.40 mt. and whose maximum height at its highest top is 3.40 mt.) dates back to the Second century AD and used to belong to an aristocratic family that was never identified; the tomb contained approximately twenty skeletons when it was discovered by chance by a shepherd in the Burj el Shemali area. “In Tyres, where Rome left its indelible track, there are still several examples of Roman art; however, this is certainly one of the most spectacular monuments ever found out in Lebanon”, Minister Layoun said.

The entire tomb, with its walls are covered in frescoes on Greek and Roman mythology and its locula underneath, was taken to Beirut before World War II by a team led by the English architect Henry Pearson. However, in the 15 years of Lebanon’s civil war (1975-1990), the Museum ended up exactly on the “green line” of the front dividing East Beirut from West Beirut and was partially destroyed. The Tyres Tomb, which had been placed in the basement, was covered by water and, subsequently, frescoes were seriously damaged by dampness. In 2009, Lebanon’s General Antiquities’ Directorate asked the Italian Embassy to help it develop a restoration project, which was approved later the same year and received funds worth EUR 256,000 by the Italian Cooperation. Works were carried out during three stages of two months each under the management of Giorgio Capriotti, with the cooperation of Italian and Lebanese restorers. Restoration works literally “brought back to life” the frescoes, which portray several myths of the afterlife, from Achilles returning Hectors’ body to his father Priam; from Pluto kidnapping Proserpina, to Hercules in its 12th labour, with his club and Cerberus on a leash. Restoration works were accompanied by a museographical project by architect Antonio Giammarusti, carried out in the area in front of the tomb’s entrance in cooperation with the Museum’s curator, Anne-Marie Maila Afeiche, a narration of the monument’s story. “Tyres’ Tomb art and its story,” Ambassador Morabito said,” are now here to be admired and respected. Our past is closer to us today and conveys a very important message both to us and to future generations: culture and art are the heritage of the whole human kind.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

US Holds High-Level Talks With Syrian Rebels Seeking Weapons in Washington

Syrian rebels have held meetings with senior US government officials in Washington as pressure mounts on the US to authorise a shipment of heavy weapons, including surface-to-air missiles to combat the Assad regime, the Daily Telegraph has learned.

A senior Free Syrian Army representative met in the past week at the US State Department with the US ambassador to Syria. Robert Ford and Frederick Hoff, special coordinator for the Middle East, sources have confirmed. The rebel emissaries, armed with an iPad showing detailed plans on Google Earth identifying rebel positions and regime targets, have also met with senior members of the National Security Council, which advises President Obama on national security policy. FSA representatives in Washington have compiled a “targeted list” of heavy weaponry, including anti-tank missiles and heavy machine guns that they plan to present to US government officials in the coming two weeks.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

British Soldier Killed in Operation Against Afghan Insurgents

A British soldier has been killed during an operation targeting insurgents in Afghanistan.

The soldier, whose family has been informed, was from 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment. He was killed in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province on Friday. The Ministry of Defence is expected to release his name on Saturday. He is the 419th member of UK forces to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001. His death was the second in Afghanistan this week — it was announced just hours after the MoD named a soldier killed in a grenade blast on Wednesday as Lance Corporal James Ashworth from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards. L/Cpl Ashworth was killed in a grenade blast while on patrol in the north of Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand Province.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Ethnic Violence in Myanmar Seems ‘Neverending’

Sectarian violence has engulfed Myanmar’s frontier state of Rakhine in recent days, with clashes between Buddhist and Muslim ethnic groups. Tension between the two groups is not new and there are few solutions in sight.

The cycle of revenge attacks between ethnic groups in the border state of Rakhine is posing a new challenge to Myanmar’s reformist government, with the repercussions now rippling across the border into neighboring Bangladesh.

The latest surge in sectarian unrest began with the rape and murder of a Rakhine Buddhist woman, allegedly by three Muslims, late last month. Within days, the response had turned more brutal, with at least 10 Muslims killed when they were pulled off a bus in the Taungup township.

Last Friday, Muslims belonging to the Rohingya ethnic minority are alleged to have run amok in the town of Maung Taw, burning down hundreds of houses and killing seven people.

By Monday, many Rohingya were taking flight, with groups of men — apparently ethnic Rakhine Buddhists — roaming the streets of the state capital Sittwe carrying sticks and knives.

Announcing a state of emergency in the region on Sunday, President Thein Sein warned of the possible terrible outcome, with security forces drafted into the area.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

India: Cleric Warms to Beard — Lone Clean-Shaven Kashmir Clergyman Has a Rethink

Srinagar, June 14: Kashmir’s lone clean-shaven Islamic cleric is poised to grow a beard, partly because of increasing calls from fellow clergymen for him to do so. Mufti Nasir-ul Islam, 53, is the son and deputy of Kashmir’s mufti azam (grand mufti or chief jurist) Mufti Basher-ud-din. His family has for generations held the hereditary office that is recognised by the state government. Islam, who recently led a campaign against alleged conversions of some Valley Muslims to Christianity, has been assisting his father since 2000 but took on a more pro-active role after he was designated his deputy last year.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Singapore: President Tony Tan Helps to Sell Briyani for Charity

SINGAPORE: Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Saturday joined members of the Malay-Muslim community to raise funds for the President’s Challenge. Over 50 volunteers were at Khalid Mosque located in Joo Chiat selling packets of briyani, with the president pitching in to put the final touches to the dish. The dish was prepared by Chef Allaudin Mohamed, who is also chairman of the mosque.

Each packet costs S$10 and will go to the President’s Challenge Fund for various charities. Organisers said sales were so good that orders for the dish were placed even before the charity coupons were printed. The event also involved Singaporeans from other ethnic groups.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Confirms Forced Abortion Case After Uproar

BEIJING — Chinese authorities confirmed Thursday that a woman was forced to abort seven months into her pregnancy, several days after her plight came to light when images of her baby’s corpse were posted online.

Rights groups have blamed authorities in north China’s Shaanxi province for forcing Feng Jianmei to abort her pregnancy because she failed to pay a hefty fine for exceeding China’s strict “one-child” population control policy.

The Shaanxi provincial government said in a statement that a preliminary probe had confirmed the case was “basically true”, and the investigators have recommended action be taken against the perpetrators.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Vietnam: 80-Year-Old Mosque in the Heart of Communist Stronghold

‘Masjid Al Moslemeen’ tells the story of minority Muslims in a country of 90 million people

Ho Chi Minh City: A nearly 80-year-old mosque lies in the heart of this communist stronghold. Its minarets stand next to the tall, modern buildings. “Masjid Al Moslemeen”, which means “The Mosque of Moslems”, narrates part of the history of the neighbourhood and the life of the minority Muslims in the predominately Buddhist and socialist state. There are nearly 80,000 muslims in Vietnam, a country of 90 million people.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghana: Muslim Youth Plead More Time to Return Stolen Regalia

The Gbi Traditional Council says it will not extend its 48-hour ultimatum given to the Muslim youth of Hohoe to return regalia stolen from the Togbe Gaabusu Palace when they attacked and vandalised the palace. The President of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs, Togbe Afede XIV has been talking to the Gbi Traditional Council headed by the Togbe Gaabusu to consider its 48-hour ultimatum it issued to Muslims to return the regalia.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Police, Muslim Youths Exchange Gunfire as Mosque, Houses Are Demolished in Benue

Makurdi — There was exchange of gun fire between police and Muslim youths at the Wadata riverside area in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, yesterday following the demolition of a mosque and houses by the Urban Development Board (UDB). Residents of the area said they were taken unawares by the board, which they alleged did not give any notice before carrying out the exercise. It was gathered that shortly after the General Manager of the Board, Alhaji Musa Ujor Suleiman led a detachment of police to the area for the demolition exercise, the inhabitants, mostly Muslims allegedly started shooting into the air to scare the police.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Amnesty: Italy-Libya Deal to Stop Migrant Flow

NGO claims in report, agreement violates human rights

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Italy has signed a “secret” deal with Libya’s National Transitional Council to “limit the flow of immigrants”, according to a report entitled “SOS Europe” published today by Amnesty International, which says that the agreement violates human rights. The details of the agreement have not been disclosed, but Amnesty says that it was signed on April 3 and allows the Italian authorities to intercept asylum seekers and put them back in the hands of Libyan soldiers. The organisation believes that the deal violates obligations undertaken by Italy as part of the European Convention on Human Rights as it does not feature measures to protect the rights of immigrants. “At best, Italy has ignored the terrible situation of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. At worst, the country has shown that it is ready to tolerate human rights violations in order to satisfy national political selfishness,” Amnesty says. The organisation says that asylum seekers from Eritrea or Somalia, who have been forced to return to Tripoli, are at risk of abuse and torture. Libya currently has no policy on asylum, while migrants, most of whom come from sub-Saharan Africa, are treated with disregard. Last February, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy for turning migrants back at sea, the report points out, adding that the verdict concerned the enforced return to Libya of 11 Somalians and 13 Eritreans (and 200 others) on board Italian boats in 2009. Italy claimed that the incident was a rescue operation, but failed to warn the migrants that they were about to be sent back to Libya, adding that the bilateral agreements with the country had precedents in international law.

However, the report continues, the European Court stated that anyone boarding an Italian boat must be subject to the Convention on Human Rights. The Italian government accepted the ruling and has committed itself to “the absolute respect of human rights and the safeguarding of the lives of men at sea”. Amnesty says that the April 3 agreement represents a violation of this commitment.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Soccer: Cassano Sorry for Saying Hoped No Gays in Italy Team

‘I’m not homophobic’ Italy forward tells ANSA

(ANSA) — Krakow, June 13 — Italy forward Antonio Cassano has apologised after causing a furore by saying he hoped there were no gay players in the national team. “Gays on the team? That’s their problem, but I hope not,” he said at Italy’s Euro 2012 base after being asked to respond to suggestions by gay TV presenter Alessandro Cecchi Paone that not all players in the national team were straight.

The comments sparked an angry reaction from gay rights groups, with some calling on the player to be dropped from the Azzurri squad.

Cassano, who is famous for being as temperamental as he is talented and whose career has been dogged by discipline problems, said he was sorry soon after.

“Homophobia is a sentiment that does not belong to me,” the striker told ANSA.

“I didn’t want to offend anyone and I absolutely do not want to question people’s sexual freedom…

“I only said that it’s a problem that doesn’t concern me. I don’t allow myself to express judgements about other people’s choices, which should be respected”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Swedish Left Party Chapter Wants to Make Urinating While Standing Illegal for Men

Take a stand — and sit down for what you believe in.

Male representatives on the Sormland County Council in Sweden should sit rather than stand while urinating in office restrooms, according to a motion advanced by the local Left Party.

Known as a socialist and feminist organization, the party claims that seated urination is more hygienic for men — the practice decreases the likelihood of puddles and other unwanted residue forming in the stall — in addition to being better for a man’s health by more effectively emptying one’s bladder, The Local reported.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]