Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121201

Financial Crisis
»$80 Trillion in Unfunded Liabilities the True Noose Around Our Necks
»EU Set Back a Generation
»National Debt is Still the Biggest Threat to Our National Security
»Our Collapsing Economy and Currency
»Prepare for the Tantrums to Get Worse
»Senator: Obama ‘Crazy’ To Claim Unilateral Debt-Ceiling Power
»UK: Welfare State Has Ballooned to Over 12 Times Its Original Size, Figures Reveal as Chancellor Prepares Benefits Freeze
»As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price
»Cop Flips Crippled Woman’s Car for Driving Two MPH Over Speed Limit
»Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill ‘Cleanup’ Made Toxicity Worse, Study Finds
»Exclusive: Obama White House Threatens to Veto 2013 NDAA if Gitmo is Not Closed
»GOP Consultants Advise: Bring Sporks to New Gunfight With the Left
»New Social Contract; Old Strategy, Part 2
»Obama Voters Love Socialism
»Romney Strategist Fails to Grasp Media Bias
»The Republicans, The Democrats and Grover
»Two Pakistan Born Brothers Arrested in Florida for Terror
»US ‘Approaching Tipping Point When Military Conflict With Al-Qaeda Should End’
Europe and the EU
»2nd German Region Allows Muslim Holidays
»Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Two Other Nobel Peace Prize Winners Say European Union is Not Worthy of Being Given the Award
»Belgium: Abstract Christmas Tree Sparks Protests in Brussels
»CleanIT — Leak Shows Plans for Large-Scale, Undemocratic Surveillance of All Communications
»Dutch Police Arrest 3 Muslims Who Planned to Travel to Syria to Fight
»Greece: Shipowners Turn to Newer Vessels of Higher Capacity
»Italy Supports UN Resolution Against Genital Mutilation
»Italy: Teacher Sentenced to 8 Months for Killing Rabbits in Class
»Italy: Baby Deer Loses Way and Wanders Into Supermarket Parking Lot
»Italy: Police Seize Enel Plant in Southern Italy Over Pollution
»Multi-Drug Resistant Bacterium Found on Dutch Broiler Farms
»Portugal: Census Finds 5% of Population Illiterate
»Radical Islamic Drug Gang Forced Swiss Youths to Deal Drugs, Obtain Mobile Phones and Convert to Islam
»Scotland Launches Winter Festival Celebrations
»UK: ‘White Witch Coven’ In Ritual Sexual Abuse of Young Girls
»UK: Abuse of Elderly Patients by NHS Staff Rises by a Third in One Year With a Shocking 36,000 Offences Reported Last Year Alone
»UK: Ex-BBC Man Appears in Court on Sex Abuse Charges
»UK: In Mosques and Pubs, People Are More Worried by the Cuts Than Ethnic Tension
»UK: Muslims Fear EDL Demo
»UK: Man Who Stabbed and Raped a Woman at Knifepoint in Peckham is Sentenced
»UK: Motorist Who Hit Pensioner, 81, For Driving Too Slowly Has Jail Sentence Overturned
»UK: Man Charged With Kidnap and Rape of Teenager
»UK: Mother and Son Terrorised by Hooded Gang Armed With Knives Who Burst Into Their £1m Home and Demanded Cash
»UK: Now Gloating Thugs Cleared of Robbing Malaysian Student During London Riots Want Payout
»UK: Paedophile Who Said a Seven-Year-Old Girl Seduced Him is Finally Jailed Weeks After Judge Set Him Free
»UK: Tory MP Attacks Cameron for Allowing Party to Become ‘Emaciated’
»UK: The Vichy Evening News …
»UK: The Labour of the Negative
»UK: Taxi Driver Liaqat Ali Jailed for Raping Teenage Passenger
»UKIP Row: Multiple Reasons Children Taken From Rotherham Foster Parents
»Serbian Village Council Issues Vampire Alert
North Africa
»Algerian Ruling Party FLN Wins Local Elections
»Andrew Bostom: Sharia is Morsi’s Totalitarian Mandate
»Egypt: Mohammed Morsi Criticised by UN
»Tunisian President Calls for Gov’t Reshuffle After Clashes
Israel and the Palestinians
»Abbas and the Death of the Two-State Solution
»Deciphering Muslim Taqiyyah
»Israel Hits Back After Palestinian UN Vote With 3,000 New Settler Homes
Middle East
»Muslim Swedes Told to Join Syrian War Effort
»New Documentary Portrays Islam as Path to Women’s Empowerment
»Six Injured in Explosion at Arms Depot in Yemeni Capital: Police
»Turkey: Not Enough Recycling Plants for E-Waste
South Asia
»Afghan Taliban Commander Killed
»Bangkok Exceeds Delhi, Thailand Becomes the World’s Leading Rice Exporter
Far East
»Chinese Arrested for Denouncing Extravagant Leader
»Nine Sentenced in Chinese Kidney-for-iPad Scheme
»North Korean Historical Institute ‘Declares it Has Discovered Unicorn Lair Belonging to Founder of Ancient Kingdom’
Australia — Pacific
»British Family Facing Deportation From New Zealand Because the Father Has a Brain Tumour
»House Passes, Obama Disses 55,000 Visas for Educated Immigrants
»UK: Leveson on Media Misrepresentation of Muslims and Migrants
Culture Wars
»Doomsday for the Greedy Freeloaders of the Left
»NASA’s Messenger Finds Water Ice and Organic Molecules on Mercury

Financial Crisis

$80 Trillion in Unfunded Liabilities the True Noose Around Our Necks

We hear all about the $16 Trillion dollars in debt that our country is in, but the much larger problem and the one that our politicians and citizens do not want to talk about honestly is the $80 Trillion Dollars in Unfunded Liabilities at the federal level.

We all know about how the states and local governments are being swamped by these obligations, but we cannot even have an honest discussion about the true nature of the long term problems that we face because for one reason or another it always turns into a Left — vs -Right you-are-wrong-and-stupid argument. We have those in congress such as Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer who will not even let this be discussed in all the negotiations that we currently hear about going on with the debt crisis that this government created. It is easy to understand that they do not want to do so as it exposes the blatant mistakes that those in government have made over the years and this includes those from both sides.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

EU Set Back a Generation

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna Warsaw

It will be decades before the most economically stricken countries recover their pre-crisis standard of living. And the gulf between with these states and those doing well is widening all the time, threatening the unity and stability of the EU.

Jedrzej Bielecki

Angela Merkel warned as early as in 2009: let’s not expect a miracle, because not even the boldest political decision will turn the European economy back on the path of growth. “At the time she was alone in saying this. Today it’s clear that she was right”, said Nicolas Veron, a senior fellow at Bruegel, the Brussels-based think tank.

In the fifth year of the crisis, the EU’s economic condition remains dismal, 17 out of the Union’s 27 member states being in recession. In the hardest-hit countries, such as Spain or Portugal, bringing living standards back to pre-crisis levels will take at least a generation. But the EU may not last as long. For the first time since its inception, the EU — unlike the eurozone — could disintegrate. The scenario is becoming more and more real with each successive month. It’s hard to say what is happening faster: the construction of an integrated eurozone bloc around Germany or the secession of the eurosceptic countries, notably Britain.

Nonexistent common market

Ms Merkel, it needs to be admitted, didn’t want the EU to evolve in such a way and tried to prevent it. In particular, she was interested in keeping within a new, more closely integrated Union the countries of Central Europe, including Poland. They are not only Germany’s economic base (German companies having relocated much of their manufacturing operations here), but also Berlin’s frequent, and precious, ally in the EU Council, where they support structural reforms and responsible budget policies.

But this didn’t work. Market pressure meant that the eurozone leaders finally started laying the foundations of separate eurozone institutions: banking supervision, fiscal policy governance, a separate budget. “This was assumed to be a minimum step for ensuring the eurozone’s efficient functioning, but one that won’t undermine the EU’s foundations. Today it’s clear such expectations were unrealistic”, admitted Cinzia Alcidi at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels…

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

National Debt is Still the Biggest Threat to Our National Security

Since 1971, U.S. borrowed $50 trillion to produce only $13 trillion of goods and services in a 40 year period.

Americans are in denial about the simple fact that our national debt is the biggest threat to our national security. National debt grew exponentially from Washington’s profligate deficit spending, recessions, and wars.

When I looked today at the national debt clock, each taxpayer owed approximately $142,000, the figure changing rapidly based on factors such as the value of the dollar, trade deficits, and the latest sums borrowed from U.S. taxpayers or from whatever country willing to buy our Treasury Securities, T-bills, T-notes, and T-bonds — China, Japan, and oil exporters being the largest buyers of U.S. debt so far.

The national debt to most Americans is something on paper in a faraway place that does not concern or affect us. Americans have no idea how it grew so exponentially large, where it came from, who owes it, who owns it, and how many zeroes a trillion has.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Our Collapsing Economy and Currency

The US economy has two serious diseases, and neither one is too much welfare spending.

One disease is the offshoring of US middle class jobs, both manufacturing jobs and professional service jobs such as engineering, research, design, and information technology, jobs that formerly were filled by US university graduates, but which today are sent abroad or are filled by foreigners brought in on H-1B work visas at two-thirds of the salary.

The other disease is the deregulation, especially the financial deregulation, that caused the ongoing financial crisis and created banks too big to fail, which has prevented capitalism from working and closing down insolvent corporations.

The Federal Reserve’s policy is focused on saving the banks, not on saving the economy. The Federal Reserve is purchasing not only new Treasury bonds issued to finance the more than one trillion dollar annual federal deficit but also the banks’ underwater financial instruments, taking them off the banks’ books and putting them on the Federal Reserve’s books.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Prepare for the Tantrums to Get Worse

Yawn. It’s the whole robbing Peter to pay Paul sort of economics liberals excel at. Increasing taxes simply doesn’t solve the problem. And all intelligent beings know this. You don’t get growth by shifting money around.

Let’s look at the math, shall we?

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the way we measure a country’s standard of living. It is equal to private consumption + gross investment + government spending + (exports — imports).

Taking money from the “private consumption” and “gross investment” components (by taxing people) and moving it in to the “government spending” component changes nothing. Well, it makes liberals who benefit from “government spending” happier, but essentially the GDP stays the same.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Senator: Obama ‘Crazy’ To Claim Unilateral Debt-Ceiling Power

‘I’m amazed that Secretary Geithner had the courage to float that yesterday’

(The Hill) Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who will soon be the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, on Friday panned a proposal by the White House that would allow President Obama to raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval.

Cornyn was referring to a plan Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner presented to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday that was meant to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of tax increases and spending cuts.

The plan, which sparked strong Republican criticism, included a provision allowing the White House to raise the debt ceiling without the consent of Congress.

“Well, it’s outrageous,” Cornyn said on Fox News.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Welfare State Has Ballooned to Over 12 Times Its Original Size, Figures Reveal as Chancellor Prepares Benefits Freeze

The cost of the Welfare State has risen 12-fold in real terms since its introduction, figures reveal today — as George Osborne prepares to unveil a benefits freeze.

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions to mark the 70th anniversary of William Beveridge’s landmark report on welfare, show the cost of the modern system dwarfs that of his original vision.

They come as the Chancellor puts the finishing touches to next week’s Autumn Statement on the economy, when he is expected to announce a freeze in the value of most benefits apart from pensions and disability payments.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price

A New York Times investigation into the incentives that governments offer businesses has found that states, cities and counties are giving up more than $80 billion a year to attract or keep the companies and the jobs that they provide. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.

But the cost of the awards is certainly far higher. A full accounting, The Times discovered, is not possible because the incentives are granted by thousands of government agencies and officials, and many do not know the value of all their awards. Nor do they know if the money was worth it because they rarely track how many jobs are created. Even where officials do track incentives, they acknowledge that it is impossible to know whether the jobs would have been created without the aid.

[Return to headlines]

Cop Flips Crippled Woman’s Car for Driving Two MPH Over Speed Limit

When you’re being pulled over for a simple infraction like speeding, you don’t expect police to push your car off the road forcing it to flip, but that’s exactly what happened to a Florida woman last month.

Sandra Silasavage, a 62-year-old disabled woman who suffers from scoliosis, was driving home on State Road 70 when her 2008 Ford Expedition was forced off the road by a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Deputy using a pursuit tactic known as the PIT maneuver, short for Precision Immobilization Technique, causing her vehicle to flip on its side. The incident, however, received virtually no media attention.

“Her 2008 Ford Expedition was totaled in the wreck, she’s out thousands of dollars and her life has been turned upside down,” the TC Palm wrote earlier this month.

Her crime? Driving 57 MPH, two miles over the posted speed limit.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill ‘Cleanup’ Made Toxicity Worse, Study Finds

(NaturalNews) The cleanup technique used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico actually made the spilled oil more than 50 times more toxic than doing nothing, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes (UAA), Mexico. The findings were published in the journal Environmental Pollution.

Over the course of three months, 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico (although some scientists believe that the spill is likely ongoing to this day). To aid in the cleanup, the EPA ordered another two million gallons of a chemical “dispersant” known as Corexit poured into the Gulf.

“There is a synergistic interaction between crude oil and the dispersant that makes it more toxic,” study co-author Terry Snell said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Exclusive: Obama White House Threatens to Veto 2013 NDAA if Gitmo is Not Closed

….earlier yesterday the White House started circulating a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) warning that President Obama would veto the renewal of the pending 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) if Guantánamo transfer and funding restrictions were not removed. The SAP also warned the Senate not to add any new detention provisions.

The National Defense Authorization Act is legislation which provides budget authority to the Department of Defense and to the Department of Energy’s national security programs.

In a nation already divided, the divide is about to become even sharper. Who will win this battle that effects national security and potentially the safety of Americans at home?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

GOP Consultants Advise: Bring Sporks to New Gunfight With the Left

Word on the political street from GOP consultants and the Left is that Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party cost Romney the election. We Conservatives are advised to “moderate our tone” and back away from our “extremist ideas.”

So let me make sure I understand. Obama and company were allowed to go for the jugular, using false narratives (lies), to win votes. They said Romney hates dogs, blacks, women and the poor. Heck, they even threw in the absurd accusation that Romney was responsible for the death of a working man’s wife. Check and mate. Game over. Obama won. Did anyone suggest Team Obama “moderate their tone”?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

New Social Contract; Old Strategy, Part 2

Enlightened, twenty-first century thought compels folks to rethink the nature of social relationships and interactions. What’s not to like about “a sustainable, equitable future for all world citizens”? The world community couldn’t agree more that, for the sake of the common good, it behooves us, as affluent Americans, to abandon any fanciful notion of our nation’s exceptionality and, as President Obama famously suggested, to “spread the wealth around.”

At the global level, soft law represents unenforceable agreements between nations. By appearing to represent global consensus, these have a way of evolving slowly into enforceable international law in the form of agreements, conventions, declarations, executive orders, pacts, summits, and treaties. UN resolutions represent a kind of international common law to which national courts have already begun to refer.


The socialist principle of government-managed development, sustainable development calls for revamping the very infrastructure of our nation away from private ownership and control of property to nothing short of a national zoning system through which producers are expected to provide for non-producers. At the global level, egalitarianism may sound good for its supposed advocacy of political, economic, and legal equality for all when, in truth, it is no more than a specious buzzword for supplanting America’s hegemony. The eventual goal of the global brain trust is to incite planetary class conflict, resulting in paradigm shift to democratic transnationalism, which weds free-market capitalism with communism.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Voters Love Socialism

Gallup poll confirms earlier Pew Foundation study

According to a December 2011 Pew Foundation study, while 60 percent of Americans view socialism negatively, a plurality of Americans ages 18 to 29 (49 percent to 43 percent) and a majority of African-Americans (55 percent to 36 percent) view socialism positively. Conversely, while a majority of Americans view capitalism positively (50 percent), again a plurality of Americans ages 18-29 (47 percent) and a majority of African-Americans (51 percent) view it negatively.

Only one other demographic in America views socialism as positively as the young and African-Americans: liberal Democrats. While 90 percent of liberal Republicans and even 51 percent of moderate Democrats oppose socialism, 59 percent of liberal Democrats view socialism positively.

This is Obama’s base: liberal Democrats, the young and African-Americans. They are the voters that turned out in record numbers to save Obama’s second term. They are the source of his mandate. And they want socialism!

Today, Gallup released a new poll confirming what Pew already found: Obama’s Democratic base loves socialism. Just look at this chart:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Romney Strategist Fails to Grasp Media Bias

In his first public criticism of the conduct of the media during the presidential campaign, the chief strategist for Mitt Romney meekly suggests that reporters “often felt morally conflicted about being critical” of President Obama.

Obama “was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical,” Stevens says.

But if this is all that Stuart Stevens takes away from the campaign coverage, he is woefully ill-informed about the nature of media bias. While it is certainly true that reporters didn’t want to criticize the first black President, Stevens’ comment doesn’t explain the intensity of the media attacks on Romney and the media cover-ups on Obama’s behalf.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Republicans, The Democrats and Grover

By R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.

WASHINGTON — What is a Republican elected official? A Republican elected official is one who says, “I won’t raise my constituents’ taxes.” Asked to elaborate, the Republican elected official explains, “I will keep taxes down to allow the economy to grow and to throw off ever more tax revenue.” The Republican believes that the way to pay for government is to let the economy roar… and to keep spending reasonable.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Two Pakistan Born Brothers Arrested in Florida for Terror

Charged with conspiring to use weapon of mass destruction within U.S.

(Reuters) Two Pakistan-born brothers living in Florida have been arrested on charges of providing support to terrorists and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction within the United States, authorities said on Friday.

The men were charged in a grand jury indictment announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Federal prosecutors allege the men, both U.S. citizens, provided money, housing, communications equipment and transportation as part of a conspiracy.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US ‘Approaching Tipping Point When Military Conflict With Al-Qaeda Should End’

The United States is approaching a “tipping point” in its war with al-Qaeda beyond which it will no longer be regarded as a military conflict, the Defense Department’s top lawyer has said.

In a speech to the Oxford Union on Friday night, Jeh Johnson predicted that the terror network would become so “effectively destroyed” that it would no longer have any capacity to be able to launch another attack on America…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

2nd German Region Allows Muslim Holidays

BERLIN: The region of Bremen in northern Germany on Friday said it would be the second of the country’s 16 states to recognize Muslim holidays.

“I am delighted because Islam and Muslims are part of our city and part of our life,” said the mayor of the city state, Jens Boehrnsen, after signing the deal with representatives of the local Muslim community…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Two Other Nobel Peace Prize Winners Say European Union is Not Worthy of Being Given the Award

Three Nobel Peace Prize winners have blasted the decision to give this year’s award to the European Union.

In an open letter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Northern Ireland’s Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Perez Esquivel from Argentina say that the EU is ‘clearly not one of the “champions of peace” Alfred Nobel had in mind’ when he created the prize in 1895.

They insist the 27-nation bloc’s values do not match those associated with the prize, and say the prize money of £750,000 should be withheld.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Belgium: Abstract Christmas Tree Sparks Protests in Brussels

Thousands of people have signed a petition against an abstract light installation replacing the traditional Christmas tree in Brussels city centre.

More than 11,000 signatures have been gathered in the online petition and a Facebook page attacking the new feature has been launched. Critics accuse officials of opting for the installation for fear of offending non-Christians, especially Muslims. But the mayor’s office said it was part of a theme this year of “light”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

CleanIT — Leak Shows Plans for Large-Scale, Undemocratic Surveillance of All Communications

A leaked document from the CleanIT project shows just how far internal discussions in that initiative have drifted away from its publicly stated aims, as well as the most fundamental legal rules that underpin European democracy and the rule of law.

The European Commission-funded CleanIT project claims that it wants to fight terrorism through voluntary self-regulatory measures that defends the rule of law.

The initial meetings of the initiative, with their directionless and ill-informed discussions about doing “something” to solve unidentified online “terrorist” problems were mainly attended by filtering companies, who saw an interesting business opportunity. Their work has paid off, with numerous proposals for filtering by companies and governments, proposals for liability in case sufficiently intrusive filtering is not used, and calls for increased funding by governments of new filtering technologies.

The leaked document contradicts a letter sent from CleanIT Coordinator But Klaasen to Dutch NGO Bits of Freedom in April of this year, which explained that the project would first identify problems before making policy proposals. The promise to defend the rule of law has been abandoned. There appears never to have been a plan to identify a specific problem to be solved — instead the initiative has become little more than a protection racket (use filtering or be held liable for terrorist offences) for the online security industry.

[Return to headlines]

Dutch Police Arrest 3 Muslims Who Planned to Travel to Syria to Fight

AMSTERDAM — Dutch prosecutors say police have arrested three Muslim men who wanted to travel to Syria to fight in the country’s civil war. Prosecutors announced Friday the men, aged 22, 23 and 33, were arrested Thursday in the port city of Rotterdam “because they planned to travel to Syria to take part in international armed Jihad.” They did not specify if the men were Dutch. A search of their home uncovered knives, a sword and a crossbow…

[JP note: Medieval crusaders in reverse.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Greece: Shipowners Turn to Newer Vessels of Higher Capacity

According to data, only very large ships rise in numbers

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, NOVEMBER 26 — Shipowners flying the Greek flag have turned toward vessels of greater capacity in the last 12 months, daily Kathimerini reports citing figures from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). September 2012 data showed that the fleet on the country’s register posted a capacity increase of 1.5% from September 2011, while the number of ships dropped 3.2%. The combined capacity of the Greek fleet amounted to 43,993,381 tons this September against 43,356,420 tons in the same month last year. However there were 65 fewer ships than last year, as the fleet numbered 1,962 vessels of over 100 gross tons, against 2,027 units in September 2011.

Another significant trend is the gradual reduction of the average age of Greek-flagged ships — now at 10.5 years against an international average of 12.5 years — thanks to the continued efforts of Greek shipowners to renew their fleets despite the global financial crisis. In September 2012 the Greek register accounted for 780 ships aged up to 15 years with a total capacity of 35,056,016 tons, compared with 812 vessels up to 15 years old totaling 33,723,778 tons a year earlier. As far as the profile of the Greek-flagged fleet is concerned, ELSTAT data illustrates that in September 2012 there were 545 dry-bulk carriers in the country’s register with a total capacity of 16,341,366 tons, 532 tankers totaling 26,218,498 tons, 659 passengers ships adding up to 1,370,492 tons, and 226 ships of other types with a capacity of 63,025 tons. By contrast, in September 2011 the Greek flag was flying on 560 dry-bulk carriers with a capacity of 16,035,854 tons, 539 tankers adding up to 25,754,363 tons, 731 passenger ships totaling 1,601,980 tons, and 230 ships of other types with a total capacity of 63,361 tons. As Kathimerini notes, Greek shipowners’ shift toward ships with greater capacity is also evident in the figures relating to tonnage categories, where only very large ships are showing a rise in numbers. In September this year there were 1,251 ships between 100 and 10,000 tons on the Greek register, down from 1,315 ships a year earlier, 140 ships with a capacity between 10,001 and 30,000 tons, against 152 in September 2011, and 571 vessels over 30,000 tons, up from 560 ships in September last year. Among the shipping companies with a high number of ships in the Greek register are the following: Anangel (owned by John Angelicoussis), Minerva Marine (Andreas Martinos), Marmaras Navigation (Diamantis Diamantidis), Eletson (Karastamatis family), Costamare (Constantakopoulos family), Tsakos Shipping, Dryships (George Economou), Arcadia and Aegean (Constantinos Angelopoulos family), Belgian company Euronav, NEDA (Nick Lykiardopoulos family) and several others.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Supports UN Resolution Against Genital Mutilation

‘Step helps millions of girls find freedom’ says Ragaglini

(ANSA) — Rome, November 26 — A resolution banning female genital mutilation was adopted Monday by a United Nations committee, with the support of Italy.

The resolution, presented by a group of African nations, calls for a widespread condemnation of mutilation, and the promotion of social and educational programs to encourage leaders to abandon the practice.

“The text adopted today confirms the full commitment of the international community and gives new impetus to the efforts carried out against female genital mutilation,” said Cesare Maria Ragaglini, Italy’s ambassador at the United Nations.

He added that eliminating genital mutilation is an important step in helping millions of girls find freedom.

The United Nations estimates that up to 140 million women and girls worldwide have undergone some form of genital mutilation or cutting, and at least three million girls are at risk from the practice every year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Teacher Sentenced to 8 Months for Killing Rabbits in Class

Anatomy teacher ‘brutally’ strangled then bludgeoned animals

(ANSA) — Milan, November 28 — A Milan court on Wednesday sentenced public school anatomy teacher Carlo Rando to eight months in prison for the killing of two rabbits in a classroom in 2010.

Italian animal rights association LAV filed a complaint after students reported that during a dissection lesson Rando, upon seeing that two of the four rabbits delivered to the school were still alive, “brutally killed the animals himself” in front of the class.

According to reports from LAV, the teacher “first tried to strangle them, then repeatedly punched the animals, and then after prolonged violence, smashed the rabbits’ heads with a hammer — all in front of a room full of children”.

“The conviction sets an important legal precedent in the educational field and is a move to guarantee pedagogical ethics,” said Michela Kuan, a biologist with LAV.

“Such uncivilized methods are not only ethically unacceptable, but totally unnecessary. Anatomy is no longer taught through dissecting animals, but through the widespread availability of models, videos and interactive three-dimensional reconstructions, which moreover simulate and explain the organization of many species, not just one,” Kuan said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Baby Deer Loses Way and Wanders Into Supermarket Parking Lot

Rangers capture and return young roe deer to protected park

(ANSA) — Genoa, November 29 — Park rangers on Thursday captured a baby roe deer in a supermarket parking lot in Genoa after passers-by noticed the animal trying to hide between cars.

Rangers said that the small female most likely wandered out of the woods and got lost wandering the city’s narrow streets.

The exhausted and frightened deer was eventually captured and returned to the protected forest area of the Val d’Aveto nearby.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Police Seize Enel Plant in Southern Italy Over Pollution

Judge says plant given three months to clean up

(ANSA) — Bari, November 27 — A judge in southern Italy ordered police to seize a power plant owned by utility giant Enel on Tuesday, and ordered the company to start clean up immediately.

An investigating judge for the Court of Bari, a large city in the southern region of Puglia, order the plant’s seizure and gave the company three months to make the necessary environmental and safety improvements.

The judge said protective measures are essential to avoid endangering public safety and the health of workers.

The court appointed Barbara Valenzano, an executive of the Regional Agency for Prevention and Environmental Protection (ARPA) Puglia, as guardian of the site while it is under seizure order.

Enel, which operates worldwide, disputes allegations that it has violated workplace health and safety regulations as well as laws designed to prevent major accidents.

However, the court says accidents have already occurred.

The community of Bari is only an hour’s drive from Taranto, where prosecutors have seized large parts of a major polluting steel plant owned by ILVA.

That seizure has triggered both support from community members concerned about their health, and outrage from politicians and workers at the plant who are fearful for their jobs.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Multi-Drug Resistant Bacterium Found on Dutch Broiler Farms

THE HAGUE, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) — Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus bacterium, or MRSA, has been found in 8 percent of Dutch broiler farms, a report by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) said on Thursday…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Portugal: Census Finds 5% of Population Illiterate

Rates halved in 10 years but still highest in Europe

(ANSAmed) — LISBON — Over half a million Portugese, or 5% of the population are illiterate according to a census. The National Institute of Statistics released the data, noting that although the rate has halved over the past 10 years it is still the highest in Europe. ß But the results reflect steady progress with regard to qualifications. 15% of over 23 year olds graduated high school versus 9% ten years ago. And the number of children attending obligatory school rose by 12%. Lisbon and the Algarve hold the highest levels of schooling at 60.4% and 52.7% respectively.

Meanwhile the number of immigrants has risen 70% for an overall population swell of 2%. 28% came from Brazil; 10% from Cape Verde, and 9% from the Ukraine. Women outnumber men 5,515,578 to 5,046,600. And while the amount of families has risen from 365,000 to 404,000, nuclear families have dipped 2.8% to 2.6%.

Changing family patterns have led to a 36% upsurge in single parents. Also according to the data the average age in Portugal has risen from 39 to 42, reflecting an increasingly aged society.

The number of over 70’s has gone up 26%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Radical Islamic Drug Gang Forced Swiss Youths to Deal Drugs, Obtain Mobile Phones and Convert to Islam

“With a hood on, tied up and marked with blows, they kept him gagged in a cave”. This is how state prosecutor Nicolas Feuz describes the fate of one of the youths who resisted the drug gang that called itself “Jamahat”.

From 2008 this radical-islamic drug gang shrank from no means of defending its marijuana monopoly in Le Locle and Neuenburg.

To do this they not only forced their young customers to deal for them, but compelled them to obtain several smartphones. For this purpose, some of the victims even had to take out as many as seven subscription contracts, getting into several thousands francs worth of debt. The perpetrators later sold the mobile phones on the black market.

The gang included youths from Chechnya, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, who devoted themselves to a radical Islam. Some of their intimidated victims even themselves converted to Islam…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Scotland Launches Winter Festival Celebrations

EDINBURGH, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) — Scotland’s Winter Festival celebrations started on Friday St. Andrew’s Day to have a nearly two-month-long holiday season including Christmas and the New Year. At East Princes Street at city center, the highland village attracted crowded people to enjoy steaming hot sausages and battercake, buy toys and art products. At a toy booth, an old gentlemen extended holiday greetings to Xinhua and best wishes to enjoy life in Edinburgh…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘White Witch Coven’ In Ritual Sexual Abuse of Young Girls

Alleged victims plied with alcohol, given money, sweets to buy their silence

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

(London Guardian) Members of a “white witch coven” in Cornwall donned ceremonial robes and used daggers in ritualistic sex abuse of young girls, a court has heard.

Peter Petrauske, 72, who allegedly told police he was high priest of the coven, and Jack Kemp, 69, were said to have been involved in criminal “pagan ceremonies” over a 30-year period.

Children were plied with alcohol before being made to undress in front of a crowd of men wearing robes, it was claimed.

The alleged victims, the youngest of whom aged three to five, were then abused by their tormentors before being given money and sweets to buy their silence, Truro crown court was told.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Abuse of Elderly Patients by NHS Staff Rises by a Third in One Year With a Shocking 36,000 Offences Reported Last Year Alone

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

Thousands of elderly and vulnerable patients are being abused by carers and NHS staff, shocking figures reveal.

Some 36,600 offences were reported last year, mainly involving neglect, physical violence or bullying.

And the number of cases has risen by a third in the last 12 months, according to NHS Information Centre statistics.

This could partly be due to heightened awareness among family members and staff in the wake of recent scandals, such as that of the Winterbourne View care home.

But only this week the Health Secretary admitted that ‘cruelty’ had become ‘normal’ in some health and social care organisations.

In a powerful speech, Jeremy Hunt highlighted shocking examples of abuse including the case of a dementia patient being slapped and punched by her supposed carer.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Ex-BBC Man Appears in Court on Sex Abuse Charges

Michael Souter, 59, of Low Bungay Road, Loddon, Norfolk, has been charged with 18 offences relating to boys, plus an offence against a man and one against a woman.

The charges relate to six different boys, including under-14s, and two adults and include serious sexual offences and indecent assault.

The alleged offences date between 1979 and 1999 and happened in Norfolk.

The earlier charges overlap with Souter’s career at the BBC in the 1980s, during which he helped launch Radio Norfolk including a stint presenting the breakfast show.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: In Mosques and Pubs, People Are More Worried by the Cuts Than Ethnic Tension

by Giles Fraser

Those who paint Tower Hamlets as a balkanised community fail to notice the social solidarity that exists in the community

I have often stood outside Indo, one of my favourite little London boozers, sipped a glass of wine, pulled on a fag and pondered to myself what goes on inside the mosque immediately opposite. Even from the Indo side of Whitechapel Road you can tell the mosque is always busy. Four thousand people turn up for prayers every day, and double that on a Friday. During Ramadan, it’s even more packed — with a radio station on the roof, as well as the muezzin, calling the faithful to worship. In terms of weekly attendance, this must surely make the East London mosque the busiest place of worship in the whole country…

[Reader comment by libbymc on 30 November 2012 at 7:59 pm.]

Ethnic tensions will rise as the economic situation worsens. It’s naive to think otherwise.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslims Fear EDL Demo

WORRIED Muslims are expected to flee the village they have made their home when far-right extremists stage a protest tomorrow. Members of the English Defence League (EDL) are due to hold a demonstration in Shotton Colliery tomorrow from 2pm. The march is in protest at Durham County Council’s approval of local businessman Kaiser Choudry’s plans to turn the former Melrose Arms pub, in the village’s Front Street, into a Muslim education centre…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Man Who Stabbed and Raped a Woman at Knifepoint in Peckham is Sentenced

A MAN who stabbed and raped a woman at knifepoint has today, Friday 30 November, been jailed for six years and will be placed on the sex offenders register for life.

Dimeck Amoura, 19 (18.5.93) of Peckham SE15, also threatened a police officer with a knife as he tried to flee the scene.

On Sunday 6 June 2010, the victim, a 25-year-old woman, was walking along Consort Road SE15 at around 03:15hrs after a night out with friends.

As she moved down a narrow walkway between a building and temporary railings installed for roadworks, Amoura grabbed her from behind and kicked her legs to wrestle her to the ground.

Amoura demanded sex with her and told her if she did as he asked he would leave her alone.

He started to touch her sexually, smashed her head on the concrete pavement and began cutting her neck and face with the knife before stabbing her all over her body.

Amoura ripped off the victim’s clothes and then raped her, saying if she tried to get up he would kill her.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Motorist Who Hit Pensioner, 81, For Driving Too Slowly Has Jail Sentence Overturned

An aggressive male motorist who hit an 81-year-old woman in a road rage attack because she was driving at five mph has had his jail sentence quashed.

Pensioner Patricia Pearson was left with deep cuts on her head and face after Usman Yasin overtook and blocked the road before smacking her in the face.

She had been driving to visit her husband in his care home.

Magistrates at Burton upon Trent jailed him for 16 weeks last month, but an appeal judge at Stafford Crown Court has now changed his sentence.

Instead, the father of two was ordered to do 150 hours unpaid community work, banned from driving for two weeks and ordered to pay Mrs Pearson £100 compensation.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Man Charged With Kidnap and Rape of Teenager

A MAN has been charged following the rape of a teenager in a park.

Arshad Arif, aged 28, from Belfast Avenue, Slough, has been charged with kidnap and two counts of rape after a 17-year-old female, who had travelled from Watford in a taxi with a male passenger, was attacked in Salt Hill Park on Sunday morning (25).

He has been remanded in custody to appear at Slough Magistrates’ Court today (Thursday ).

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Mother and Son Terrorised by Hooded Gang Armed With Knives Who Burst Into Their £1m Home and Demanded Cash

A frail 91-year-old woman and her bachelor son were threatened at knifepoint by a gang of hooded robbers who burst into their isolated country home.

The shaken son, 55, told how one of the men punched him in the face before the gang knocked his elderly mother to the ground after forcing their way into the £1million property in Puttenham, Surrey.

The trio demanded cash from the petrified pair then tore through the house in search of valuables, eventually fleeing the scene of their ‘despicable’ attack with money and jewellery.

They said the first suspect was black and of a stocky build. The second was white and of medium build. A third suspect was also white.Two of the three men were wearing hooded tops which covered their faces.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Now Gloating Thugs Cleared of Robbing Malaysian Student During London Riots Want Payout

Two thugs convicted but then cleared of robbing a student in a defining moment of last summer’s riots demanded compensation last night.

John Kafunda and Reece Donovan want cash and an apology following the quashing of their convictions.

They thanked ‘British justice’ as they walked free from the Court of Appeal on Thursday, showered in champagne. They said it was ‘the best time of their lives’.

The pair, who both have criminal records, were dubbed the ‘Bad Samaritans’ when they were jailed for attacking Ashraf Rossli, a 21-year-old from Malaysia.

Mobile phone footage of two men rifling through the rucksack of the badly injured and disorientated student at the height of the disorder shocked the world.

Kafunda and Donovan, both 23, were identified by anonymous witnesses, gave false alibis and were placed at the scene of the crime by mobile phone data.

But they were sensationally freed after a secret hearing by a panel of judges found the witnesses could not be relied upon.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Paedophile Who Said a Seven-Year-Old Girl Seduced Him is Finally Jailed Weeks After Judge Set Him Free

A vile paedophile who blamed a girl of seven for seducing him was finally locked up yesterday — weeks after a judge let him walk free.

John Thompson escaped a prison sentence in July despite pleading guilty to sexually assaulting his victim.

Incredibly, he accused the schoolgirl of pinning him down on a bed after ‘flirting’ with him.

Thompson narrowly avoided jail and was instead ordered to undergo a sex offender treatment programme.

The lenient sentence imposed by Judge Gillian Matthews QC sparked fury among child protection charities who branded it ‘despicable’.

Despite his remarkable let-off, Thompson was back in the dock last month for failing to comply with the same order — and yet again was given a second chance to change his ‘appalling attitude’.

Now, having again failed to attend the sex offender treatment programme, he has been sent to prison.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Tory MP Attacks Cameron for Allowing Party to Become ‘Emaciated’

Brian Binley is fond of giving journalists new ideas for illustrations featuring David Cameron’s head superimposed onto a new and unusual get-up: his ‘chambermaid’ allusion caused quite a stir back in August. Today he’s written another one of his angry blog posts, which takes his criticism of the Prime Minister on a little further. Today the Prime Minister is a caretaker, apparently, and one who isn’t taking great care of his party…

[Reader comment from Vulture on 30 November 2012 at about 4 pm.]

Wishful thinking from dear old Binbag. A few facts:

1) Cameron is a sure-fire vote loser. The Tories had already lost Scotland. Now they are losing the north too. The posh-boy Lord Snooty image of Dave, Oiky Osborne and their wretched little clique as the rich friends of the wealthy is toxic to ordinary people.

2) Tory MPs are too gutless and/or too stupid to get rid of the current leadership.

3) Ukip is the natural repository for ex-traditional Tories, ex-working class Tories and now ex-Labour people too. ~Their support will increase rather than diminish in the run-up to 2015 — especially in the Euro-elections of 2014.

4) barring a sudden economic miracle even with the black magic of Crosby the Tories under Dave cannot win in 2015. If you really want to have any chance of wining, Brian, you must depose Dave.

[Reply by ButcombeMan on 30 November 2012 at about 10 pm.]

I agree again. Common Purpose Cameron is absolutely hopeless […]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Vichy Evening News …

Every now and then the great and the good take decisions that throw our world into flux. Mass disruption doesn’t result, but there is a strange sense that we have broken the pane of an invisible looking glass. And so it was this morning…

The Guardian leader is one of the most craven pieces of writing ever to appear on its pages. Undermined by its own self-righteousness and sense of moral superiority, a once-great paper has this morning become everything it once professed to hate. It has ceased to be the Guardian and formally relaunched itself as the Vichy Evening News…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Labour of the Negative

by Roger Scruton

The case of the children removed from foster parents by Rotherham Social Services, on the grounds that the parents are supporters of UKIP, is now notorious. I doubt that any reader of this blog will be surprised by the facts of the case, or by the conduct of the social workers involved. But there are lessons to be drawn by conservatives that are not publicly referred to, even though publicly felt. The head of Children’s Services at Rotherham, Joyce Thacker, made it quite clear that she was acting on her own principles as well as the advice of colleagues, in making all of the following judgements: UKIP is a racist party because it is opposed to multiculturalism and urges a strict policy on immigration; councils looking for foster parents for the children that are dumped on them (especially when dumped by foreigners) should look for an appropriate ‘cultural match’, which means choosing foster parents who do not belong to the majority culture; a party like UKIP, which emphasizes national independence as its central idea, is some kind of threat to the new order of things, in which all people are to be treated equally, without preference for the inherited national life-style.

Those judgements are not the arbitrary prejudices of a particular bigot. They are the norms inculcated over decades by academic sociology, by the training in social work, by the quangocracy that has been fed from our social problems, and by the Labour Party and its ideologists. Their meaning is not to be found in such positive actions as seem to flow from them — for as we know, little flows from them of a positive kind at all, as the Rotherham case amply illustrates. Here were abandoned children being offered not just a home but a way into the surrounding society, a way of being normal and protected members of a successful historical community, the very community that granted protection in our formative years to you and me. It is precisely that positive result that horrified the social workers, and caused them to fall back on their fundamental axioms, which are not positive but negative.

This is how we should understand the leftist orthodoxies that dominate social thinking and social policy: they stem from what Engels praised as ‘the labour of the negative’ — the moment in the dialectical process in which all that is cherished is destroyed. We should understand the term ‘labour’ as it occurs in New Labour, in the terms expressed by Engels. We have seen a systematic turning against all that can be identified as ‘ours’ — our country, our values, our history, our community, our sense of identity, our system of laws, sovereignty and government. How we explain this is a matter for deep psychology — though I cannot think that Nietzsche and Scheler are too wide of the mark in identifying resentment as a major factor. However we explain the matter, the labour of the negative has been the principal occupation of sociology and social work in our time. They have devoted themselves to the destruction of an inherited community and of the loyalties that enable that community to reproduce itself. The fact that nothing will come in the place of that community besides anarchy and fragmentation is of no concern to those who have built their lives on the ethic of negation. The tragedy is that it has been left to UKIP to articulate the needed ‘Conservatism of the Positive’ with which to rectify the balance.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Taxi Driver Liaqat Ali Jailed for Raping Teenage Passenger

A TAXI driver was yesterday jailed for seven years for raping a teenage passenger after driving her to a secluded spot as she dozed off drunk in his car.

Liaqat Ali was told by a judge at Teesside Crown Court that he will also be banned from being a cabbie under a lifetime Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Married Ali, of Abingdon Road, Middlesbrough, denied the attack during a trial last month and claimed the 16-year-old had forced herself upon him.

A jury of six men and six women rejected his account and believed the girl who said Ali had made her perform oral sex on him in the front of his cab.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UKIP Row: Multiple Reasons Children Taken From Rotherham Foster Parents

Children’s Roma parents deny allegations of abuse in background to case that has raised community tensions

Fresh details have emerged about the removal of three eastern European children from their foster parents that cast doubt on claims the decision was politically motivated and taken purely because the couple were members of Ukip. The removal of the children from the Ukip-supporting foster couple in Rotherham caused outrage across the political divide, prompting questions in parliament and providing Ukip with a boost before Thursday’s byelections. The Rotherham foster parents say the only reason they have been given for the abrupt removal of the children two weeks ago was their membership of Ukip. But sources close to the case have told the Guardian there were multiple legal and social reasons why the council wanted to ensure the children be placed with foster parents who spoke their own eastern European language…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Serbian Village Council Issues Vampire Alert

A municipal council in rural Serbia has reportedly issued a public health warning claiming that a vampire is on the loose.

Sales of garlic are booming in western Serbia after the council advised all villagers to place garlic on their doors and windows to ward off the legendary vampire, Sava Savanovic.

Savanovic is believed to have been reawakened after an old mill in which he was said to have lived collapsed recently, the Romanian Times reports. Villagers are now terrified that the vampire, one of the country’s most feared and most famous, is roaming the countryside looking for fresh blood…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algerian Ruling Party FLN Wins Local Elections

ALGIERS, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) — Algerian ruling party National Liberation Front (FLN) won the local elections, Algerian Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia said Friday upon the end of the elections. Algerians on Thursday went to elect their local representatives at 1,541 People’s Communal Assemblies (APC) and 48 Provincial Assemblies (APW) across the country as part of the local elections in which 52 political parties and hundreds of independent candidates are contesting. There are 1,541 municipalities and 48 provinces in Algeria…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Andrew Bostom: Sharia is Morsi’s Totalitarian Mandate

Al-Ahram headline: Huge pro-Morsi rally challenges opponents to ballot-box test

Theodore Roosevelt penned these remarkably prescient words in a 1911 letter to his longtime correspondent and friend, Sir George Otto Trevelyan, reflecting upon Roosevelt’s post-presidency visit to Cairo, Egypt, the previous year.

The real strength of the Nationalist movement in Egypt…lay not with these Levantines of the café but with the mass of practically unchanged bigoted Moslems to whom the movement meant driving out the foreigner, plundering and slaying the local Christian, and a return to all the violence and corruption which festered under the old-style Moslem rule, whether Asiatic or African.

Roosevelt’s concerns about the recrudescence of “old-style Moslem rule,” that is, a totalitarian Sharia (Islamic law) not reshaped or constrained by Western law, may now be fully realized a century later.

Less than two years after the forced abdication of Egyptian President Mubarak, we appear to be witnessing the ultimate triumph of the electoral ascendancy of vox populi, mainstream Egyptian Islamic parties, most prominently, the Muslim Brotherhood. Muhammad Morsi, the Brotherhood’s freely-elected Presidential candidate, has successfully outmaneuvered a minority coalition of secular-leaning Muslims, and Christians, to orchestrate the passage of a more robustly Sharia-complaint Egyptian constitution.

Given President Obama’s repeated admonitions (as reported here, and here) that Mubarak relinquish power, immediately, during early, February, 2011, this prior, Tuesday, May 19, 2009, confidential assessment of Mubarak by then US Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey, raises profound questions about US actions which facilitated his removal, and the subsequent triumph of Egypt’s Sharia supremacists…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Mohammed Morsi Criticised by UN

Outrage at Egypt’s mounting constitutional crisis spread abroad, with the United Nations human rights chief and international bodies joining the opposition in criticising its restrictions on basic freedoms.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Tahrir Square for the third time in a week to protest President Mohammed Morsi’s new constitutional declarations. At the front were a new coalition of opposition leaders, including Mohammed ElBaradei, the former UN atomic energy agency head, who has now become the liberal and secular movement’s unofficial spokesman…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tunisian President Calls for Gov’t Reshuffle After Clashes

TUNIS, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) — Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki said late Friday that Tunisia needs a government reshuffle through the appointment of competent technocrat ministers in key areas. Marzouki made the remarks Friday night on the state TV when commenting on the recent clashes between police and protesters in Siliana town, some 120 km from Tunisian capital Tunis…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Abbas and the Death of the Two-State Solution

by Douglas Murray

If anybody still wonders why there has not been a two-state solution long ago to the most famous — albeit least bloody — Middle East conflict, tonight’s UN speech by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is a good learning-curve. Abbas says that his act of unilateralism is the ‘last chance to save the two state solution.’ But of course what he means is that he thinks it is the last chance to save Mahmoud Abbas…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Deciphering Muslim Taqiyyah

Dr. Harold Reisman, holds a PhD from Columbia. In his retirement he has become an auto didact on Qur’anic doctrine. He also numbers in his wide circle of acquaintances , Dr. David Bukay a noted Israeli academic and expert in the subject . David Bukay (Ph.D.) teaches in the School of Political Sciences, at the University of Haifa. His research/academic courses fields are: Arab-Islamic Political Culture; World Jihad and al-Qaeda; Contemporary Political Islam; International Terrorism and Islamic fanaticism; Inter-Arab relations and the Palestinian issue; and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Among his publications are: Total Terrorism in the name of Allah, Ariel Center for Policy Research, 2002; Arab-Islamic Political Culture, Ariel Center for Policy Research, 2003; Muhammad’s Monsters, Balfour Press, 2004; Arafat: the Politics of Paranoia, Edwin Mellen Press, 2005; From Muhammad to Bin Laden, Transaction Publishers, 2007; Crossovers (With Shlomo Sharan), Transaction Publishers, 2010. In Preparation: Islamic Myths and Palestinian Myths. Dr. Bukay has a principle: never engage in Jewish Muslim dialog as he noted to Dr. Reisman and others, including Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, one of the few American rabbis trained in Arabic and knowledgeable about Qur’anic doctrine: . . . never ever participate in so-called “Abrahamic interfaith dialogues,” as the Muslims will always win over, just by claiming great words, like: “we, the representative of the three monotheist religions have a great mission: to stop violence in the world…” “let’s act together to show the world it is possible to live in a peaceful world…”. Moreover, immediately they will begin with a long list as to exhibit how Islam has contributed to the world all the best and great inventions from science to politics; that Islam is indeed so liberal and open minded; that Islam means peace, and has always brought only peace and harmony…

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon[Return to headlines]

Israel Hits Back After Palestinian UN Vote With 3,000 New Settler Homes

Israel on Friday retaliated against the United Nations’ de facto recognition of Palestinian by approving the construction of 3,000 new settler homes, dealing a heavy blow to the prospects of resumed peace talks.

The units will be built in the West Bank and east Jerusalem on land Palestinians hope will form part of a future state. Israel is also accelerating the processing of 1,000 extra planning permissions. The move appeared to be a punishment to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, for applying to become a “non-member observer state”, which was resoundingly accepted by the UN general assembly on Thursday night. Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official, denounced the decision as “an act of Israeli aggression against a state”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Muslim Swedes Told to Join Syrian War Effort

Swedish security service Säpo has expressed concerns that Swedes fighting in Syria may commit war crimes after a militant group’s recent YouTube recruitment video called on Swedes to join the war effort in Syria.

Säpo told the TT news agency that a few Swedes are already fighting in the Syrian civil war.

The new video clip was posted on YouTube on November 21st by a group calling itself the Swedish holy warriors in Syria (Svenska Mujahideen Fi Ash Sham). The group also emailed a link to the video to TT.

“Jihad is obligatory for any and all who believe in Allah, his prophet and doomsday. It is obligatory in Sweden and in the rest of the world,” a man speaking in fluent but slightly accented Swedish says in the clip.

“It is heart-wrenching when Muslims turn their back on their sisters and brothers,” one of the masked men adds.

“The aim is to raise awareness and recruit people to the conflict in Syria,” terror expert Linus Gustafsson of the Swedish National Defence College (Försvarshögskolan) told TT.

The video shows several persons holding automatic weapons assembling outdoors. The landscape appears to be Mediterranean.

However, experts at Säpo explained they were unable to confirm that the video is recorded in Syria.

It also remains unclear why the group has chosen to use an older Arabic name for Syria — Sham.

Nor is there information on whether the men in the video have any ties to larger militant networks or have acted alone in producing the amateur clip.

Other experts also questioned the extent of the Swedish connections of those behind the video.

“You see one person who speaks Swedish, so it’s hard to say anything about how many who are behind the film have ties to Sweden,” terror expert Lars Nicander from the Swedish National Defence College told Expressen.

The new recruitment video is not the first time Swedes have been called to arms by groups claiming it is a religious obligation.

“(Somali Islamists) al-Shabaab did something similar two years ago and filmed it in the sports arena in Mogadishu,” terror expert Lars Nicander at the Defence College (Försvarshögskolan) told Expressen.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

New Documentary Portrays Islam as Path to Women’s Empowerment

NEW YORK — A growing number of women in Islamic countries have turned in recent years to serious study of their religion: memorizing the Quran, learning to recite it properly, and studying hadith and other aspects of Islam. An American-made documentary, The Light in Her Eyes, shows how this religious movement can also foster greater freedom for women in traditional societies.

The focus of the film, Syrian preacher Houda al-Habash, established her summer Quran school for girls in 1982, when she was just 17. Until the spring of 2012, she held classes on the women’s side of a Damascus mosque, where girls memorized the Quran, practiced reciting it, and studied other Islamic teachings. She also supervised religious study classes for girls and women in other parts of the city. American filmmaker Julia Meltzer, who was teaching journalism at the University of Damascus in 2005, happened to meet al-Habash through a colleague who was studying with her…

[JP note: Doubleplusgood.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Six Injured in Explosion at Arms Depot in Yemeni Capital: Police

SANAA, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) — A weapon depot of an arms dealer in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa exploded on Friday evening, injuring at least six people, a police official said.

At least six were injured by the explosion and have been taken to hospital, the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. The explosion took place in a crowded neighborhood in southwestern the capital. Firefighters have rushed to the scene as huge fire broke out in the area where several houses were damaged. The owner of the arms depot is a well-known businessman from the northern province of Saada, and his bodyguards prevented security personnel from entering the area for investigation, according to policemen on the scene.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Not Enough Recycling Plants for E-Waste

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, NOVEMBER 27 — Turkey produces 539,000 tons of electronic waste every year and the country needs more facilities to process these materials, particularly refrigerators, a sector professional said at a recent panel as Hurriyet daily reports.

Television sets, computer monitors and cellular phones make up the majority of the 539,000 tons of total electronic waste in the country, said Exitcom General Manager Murat Ilgar, at the Electronic Waste Management panel.

“The cities that produce the most waste are Istanbul, Kocaeli and Ankara. On average seven kilograms and 21 grams of electronic waste are generated per person in Turkey. This waste is processed at 21 facilities based in Turkey,” he said. There are no recycling facilities for waste refrigerators in the country, he said, adding that new recycling plants should be established for electronic waste. Exitcom provides services in the field of waste electric and electronic equipment recovery and provides its services in Hanover and the northwestern province of Kocaeli in Turkey. Disposal of data on recycled computer hard disks is important for data security, Ilgar also said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Taliban Commander Killed

TRINKOT, Afghanistan, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) — Afghan security forces raided a Taliban hideout in southern province of Uruzgan on Saturday, killing a key commander Mullah Nasir and arresting another commander Mullah Ghazi, police said. “Afghan forces backed by the NATO-led coalition stormed a Taliban hideout in Charchino district at around 1:00 a.m. local time today, killing Taliban commander Mullah Nasir on the spot and arrested another commander Mullah Ghazi,” provincial police spokesman Ayel Farid told Xinhua. During the operation, two more Taliban militants were killed and two others arrested, he added.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Bangkok Exceeds Delhi, Thailand Becomes the World’s Leading Rice Exporter

The government accelerates the release of the product on the market to make way for the next harvest. In 2013, Thailand should export 8.5 million tonnes, India instead will fall below 7 million. The Shinawatra government has promoted policies that support farmers, the electoral base that has enabled it to win in politics last year.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Bangkok is set to overtake Delhi as the world’s largest exporter of rice, meanwhile, the Thai government has given a boost to the sale of inventory in crammed state warehouses. This is what experts say from the International Rice Research Institute, according to whom the shipments departing from India are likely to fall below 7 million tonnes next year. In contrast, Thailand in 2013 plans to place on foreign markets at least 8.5 million tonnes of the precious grain.

The increasing introduction of rice from Thailand onto the markets could augment competition among Asian countries, the world’s largest producers; at the same time, it will scale down prices, which have seen a 1.2 % increase this year. Meanwhile, global inventories for the 2012-2013 fiscal period are destined to reach “the highest point” in the last ten years.

Concepcion Calpe, an economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), explained to the Bloomberg agency that “Thailand has no choice but to get rid of its stock.” This situation, the expert predicts, will “most likely” lead to a “drop in prices” and the “increasing competitiveness” of other nations previously considered of secondary importance in production, such as Brazil, Russia, Australia and Egypt.

In addition, by the end of 2013 the stocks of Thai rice should reach 12.1 million tonnes, compared with 9.8 million last year. The country will also be forced to sell part of the product purchased from farmers, to make room for the new harvest.

The massive production of the grain is also the result of the policies promoted by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who favored the strengthening of farmers’ income. Thai analysts and policy experts point out that the vote of the peasants was key to the victory of the Pheu Thai Party policies last year, and now the Prime Minister wants to reciprocate the support of its constituency.

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

Far East

Chinese Arrested for Denouncing Extravagant Leader

(AGI) Beijing, Nov. 29 — A man from Shenzhen reported a local leader for being the owner of over 80 houses and 20 luxury cars. The man was arrested just before meeting with the press.

The South China Morning Post reports that Zhou Zujie, 41, was detained on Tuesday just before a meeting with journalists, where he intended to reveal details of his public letter of accusations, signed by himself and by other inhabitants of Shenzhen.

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

Nine Sentenced in Chinese Kidney-for-iPad Scheme

If anyone approaches you with an offer to fund your iOS addiction in exchange for your internal organs, that person might be a criminal.

So says the shocking verdict from the Chenzhou Intermediate People’s Court in Hunan province, China, which on Thursday found nine people guilty of illegally purchasing a kidney from a 17-year-old, who promptly used the money to buy a new iPhone and iPad.

The teenaged victim, patronymic Wang, reportedly received 22,000 yuan ($3,532, £2,205) for the organ, while the defendants pocketed a total of 198,000 yuan ($31,790, £19,867) in payment for the illegal transplant.

The deal went south, however, when young Wang’s mother found her son in poor health and became suspicious. Legal charges soon followed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

North Korean Historical Institute ‘Declares it Has Discovered Unicorn Lair Belonging to Founder of Ancient Kingdom’

In yet another outlandish claim to come out of North Korea historians have allegedly announced that they have unearthed a unicorn lair.

A report released by the History Institute of the DPRK Academy of Social Sciences claims that archaeologists discovered the lair of the mythical animal just outside a temple in the capital Pyongyang.

And, unsurprisingly, the lair — according to the report — means that Pyongyang was the focal point of an ancient, united Korea.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

British Family Facing Deportation From New Zealand Because the Father Has a Brain Tumour

A British family are facing deportation from New Zealand because the father has a brain tumour, it has emerged.

Paul and Sarah Crystal have lived in New Zealand for seven years with their three children, setting up and running two successful businesses.

But their application for residence was rejected because Mr Crystal’s tumour means he can no longer work.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Bruce Burrows, from Immigration New Zealand, said the family’s application for residence was rejected because Mr Crystal was ‘likely to impose significant cost or demands on New Zealand’s health services’.

Because the family — who have been left financially ruined because of Mr Crystal’s illness — do not have a permanent residence they also been refused welfare assistance.

They also can’t afford air tickets back to Britain and, even if they could, they would face a six-month period without benefits because they have been away from the country for more than two years.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


House Passes, Obama Disses 55,000 Visas for Educated Immigrants

Analysis The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to provide 55,000 visas per year to non-citizens who graduate from US universities with advanced degrees in STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The legislation, however, is opposed by President Obama and has a snowball’s chance in hell of being approved by the Democratic-controlled US Senate. As might have been expected, Obama’s opposition to the bill has earned him brickbats from right-leaning media.


The administration has also issued a statement saying that “President Obama supports Congressional action to create a ‘startup visa’ designed specifically for immigrant entrepreneurs, as part of his vision for a 21st century immigration system.”

It’s that last comment about “part of his vision” that’s key to understanding Obama’s objection to H.R. 6429. Much as Republican leaders are chary of passing Obama’s proposed extension of the Bush tax credits for Americans making under $250,000 per year because doing so would weaken their leverage in more-comprehensive budget negotiations, Obama wants to bundle all immigration and visa matters into a comprehensive “21st century immigration system” rather than slice and dice it into bipartisan goals such as visas for highly educated immigrants and more-contentious matters such as the immigration status of what the left calls undocumented workers and what the right dubs illegal aliens.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Leveson on Media Misrepresentation of Muslims and Migrants

The Leveson report into press standards includes a section on “Ethnic minorities, immigrants and asylum seekers”, which draws on evidence presented by ENGAGE, former Daily Star journalist Richard Peppiatt, Peter Oborne of the Daily Telegraph and others about the atrocious treatment of Muslims by the tabloid press. Leveson writes that “the identification of Muslims, migrants, asylum seekers and gypsies/travellers as the targets of press hostility and/or xenophobia in the press, was supported by the evidence seen by the Inquiry”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Doomsday for the Greedy Freeloaders of the Left

by Damian Thompson

I’ve been reading an achingly fashionable Marxist philosopher called Slavoj Zizek who espouses nihilistic violence in order to demolish global capitalism. I checked him out after our blogger Alan Johnson denounced his “savage madness”- and Alan’s right: Zizek’s vision of a brutal new Communism is morally repugnant. Also, not to be rude, but the Slovenian guru is constructed of the same grey jelly as the American filmmaker Michael Moore — remember him? — whose cast-off T-shirts he sports in front of the camera.

But where Moore is just plain nuts, Zizek is brilliant as well. If you ignore the fantasies of “divine terror” that suggest he plays World of Warcraft while inhaling KFC bargain buckets, you’ll find an analysis of capitalism that hones in on a juicy target: the parasitical multicultural Left. And, boy, has Zizek got them skewered…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


NASA’s Messenger Finds Water Ice and Organic Molecules on Mercury

Nasa announced on Thursday that three scientific lines of enquiry have led them to conclude that water ice and organic molecules are present on Mercury, the closest planet to the sun, and the smallest planet in the solar system.

As I cautioned just last week when writing about Nasa’s supposedly “historic” find with the Curiosity rover, “organic” should not be confused with “biological”. Organic chemicals are those made from carbon bonded to hydrogen. They are essential for life, but not necessarily evidence of life because such molecules can be built from simple chemical reactions.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]