Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121208

Financial Crisis
»Fiscal Cliff: Obama Tax and Spend Plan Unbalanced
»Greece: Athens Eyes Investors for Sewage Plants
»Italians to Reduce Spending on Christmas and New Year Feasts
»Italians Resort to ‘Survival Strategies’ As Crisis Bites
»Italy: Fiat to Slash 1,500 Jobs in Poland
»Dems to Obama: Punish Michigan Over Labor Vote
»Eight Traitor RINOs Cuddle Up to Treasonous LibDems But Fail to Approve U.N. Treaty
»Is the U.S. Being Hoodwinked on Climate Change?
»Muslims, Episcopalians, And Diversity Dreams
»Tri-Faith Vision Becomes Reality in Omaha
»US Government vs. Constitution
Europe and the EU
»Greece Fires General After Promoting PKK Book
»Italy: Emilio Fede Calls Ruby ‘Smelly, Ugly’
»Italy: Govt Plans to Ban Building in Flood, Landslide Risk Areas
»Italy: Berlusconi’s PDL Party Says Monti Govt Finished
»Italy: Ability to Buy Votes Factor in Berlusconi’s Return — Saviano
»Italy: Lazio Regional Elections Called for February 3, 4
»Italy:73% of Voters ‘Don’t Want Berlusconi to Stand Again’
»Lawsuit Targets French Paper Over Anti-Islam Cartoons
»Northern Ireland: Four Still Held Over Derry Rocket
»Northern Ireland: It’s About Sovereignty, Stupid
»Northern Ireland: Police Injured in Belfast Riots
»Pope Makes Secretary Gaenswein Archbishop
»Romania: Two Pakistanis Declared Personae Non Gratae in Romania for Terrorist Suspicion
»Scottish Government Lobbied Mandela, Tutu and Robinson Over Megrahi
»UK: Judge Backs Wife in Fight to Keep Her Husband Alive After Hospital Tried to Withhold Treatment
»UK: The Painful Paradoxes of the Left …
»UK: Taxi Driver Who Knocked Down Eight Men by Driving Cab ‘Like a Bowling Ball’ After Row is Jailed for 15 Years
»UK: Walk-Outs Over ‘Islamophobia’ At Antisemitism Symposium
»UK: Warning to Teesside Teachers as BNP Leaflet Campaign Targets Schools
Mediterranean Union
»EU-Algeria: Brussels Approves Eur 45 Mln in Financial Aid
North Africa
»Egypt’s Morsi Makes Concessions But Holds Steady on Constitutional Vote
»Mastermind of Benghazi Attack Arrested in Egypt
»Tens of Thousands Storm Barricades at Egypt’s Presidential Palace
»Tunisia: Government Calls on UGTT to Go Back on Its Decision Relating to a General Strike
Israel and the Palestinians
»Jews and Arabs Get to Know One Another on a Galilee Stage
»Khaled Meshaal: Fighting Talk as Gaza Greets Exiled Leader
»Thousands Gather in Gaza for Hamas Rally and Meshaal Speech
Middle East
»China Grabs Mideast Oil as U.S. Power Dips
»Drifting Towards World War 3
»Game Changer: Russian Iskander (SS-26) Mobile Ballistic Missile Delivered to Assad’s Syria
»Latest Fighting in Lebanon’s Tripoli Worst in Years: Army
»Saudi Arabia: Mom to be Lashed for Marrying Foreigner
»Syrian Girl: U.S. & NATO Fighting for Al-Qaeda
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Intelligence Chief Targeted by Underpants Bomb
»Malaysia: Non-Muslims Nabbed for ‘Khalwat’ In Kelantan
»Pakistan ‘Expanding Nuclear Arsenal to Deter US Attack’
Far East
»China: Hundreds of Inmates Released From a Beijing ‘Black Jail’ To Make Room for More
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Three Killed in Blast at Kenyan Mosque
Latin America
»The Architecture of the New World Order
Culture Wars
»U.K. PM Backs ‘Gay’ Weddings in Church

Financial Crisis

Fiscal Cliff: Obama Tax and Spend Plan Unbalanced

While President Barack Obama complained about Republicans during his Pennsylvania visit on Friday and made another political campaign-style pitch to raise taxes by $1.6 trillion, he failed to put forward a “balanced” plan that includes significant spending reductions to deal with the so-called fiscal cliff, according to a top member of the House Ways & Means Committee on Saturday.

The President’s continued focus on increasing tax rates is fast turning the fiscal cliff into a jobs cliff. In fact, manufacturers across the country are warning Americans that the President’s tax increases will cost American jobs. And these employers aren’t alone.

According to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation, nearly one million small businesses and more than half of all small business income earned will be impacted by the President’s tax rate hikes.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Greece: Athens Eyes Investors for Sewage Plants

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 6 — The Greek government on Wednesday invited investors to build, manage and operate four sewage treatment plants in the greater Athens region, daily Kathimerini reports quoting the country’ Development Ministry.

The contracts are budgeted for a total of 350 million euros, the ministry said in a statement cited by Bloomberg. Investors would operate the water treatment plants for 27 years, with European Union financing funding 40% to 60% of the cost of each facility.

Greece is also inviting investors to build five more sewage treatment plants elsewhere in the country, the ministry said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italians to Reduce Spending on Christmas and New Year Feasts

Federalimentari sees 100-million-euro cut as new taxes weigh

(ANSA)- Rome, December 6 — Spending on foods and drinks for Christmas and New Year holidays, which are traditionally safe from spending cuts by consumers, are likely to drop by some 100 million euros, Italy’s Federalimentari trade association said Thursday.

Federalimentari says that consumers are having to tighten their belts because they need to save and pay for the second tranche of a new real-estate tax called IMU, implemented as part of efforts by the government of Mario Monti to get Italy’s debt under control.

According to the trade association, the IMU represents “an ulterior, strong drain on spending for 80% of Italian families”.

Overall consumer spending over the past four years has been relatively stable, Federalimentari said.

However, spending on food has recorded a cumulative drop of some 9-10% over the same time period.

In 2012 alone, the drop in spending has been between 2.5-3%, the trade group said.

“The reasons for this phenomenon are for the most part due to the fact that overall consumption in these years has been held up by increasing costs for energy and services, especially tariffs,” Filippo Ferrua, Federalimentari president said.

In order to make ends meet, families have therefore been forced to make cuts in their food budgets, Ferrua explained.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italians Resort to ‘Survival Strategies’ As Crisis Bites

Families sell gold, use a bicycle and grow vegetables to get by

(ANSA) — Rome, December 7 — Italy is characterised by a “parallel discontinuity” with the political institutions engaged in putting the country’s financial house in order on the one hand and economic and social institutions having to apply “frantic survival strategies” on the other, according to the annual report of the social statistics institute Censis published Friday.

Some 2.5 million families have resorted to selling their gold or other precious items over the last two years, the statistics institute said. Further, 85% have eliminated waste and excesses, 73% look for special offers and 62.8% have cut back on travel to save petrol.

There has also been an increase in the use of bicycles to get around and 2.7 million Italians now grow their own vegetables for daily consumption. Consumer spending fell by 2.8% in the first three months of 2012 and by nearly 4% in the second three months, fuelled by the tendency to renounce or delay spending in an attempt to save money.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Fiat to Slash 1,500 Jobs in Poland

Carmaker cites poor market performance, negative outlook

(ANSA) — Turin, December 7 — The Polish division of Italian automaker Fiat Group on Friday announced plans to slash 1,500 jobs in the eastern European country in light of poor market performance and the negative outlook.

“Fiat Auto Poland has expressed to union organisations its willingness to begin immediate negotiations in order to find compatible solutions for the management of the surplus workforce,” the division said in a statement. Meanwhile it has already begun legal procedures for implementing the layoffs. The cuts have been made necessary by the “strong drop in production volume” — less than 350,000 vehicles in 2012 compared to over 600,000 in 2009 — while next year output is expected to fall even further, to below 300,000 vehicles. Consequently the automaker has had to review its organisational structure, reducing the number of daily shifts from three to two.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Dems to Obama: Punish Michigan Over Labor Vote

Want federal money held back after state legislature approves ‘right to work’

(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) A top Michigan Democrat is looking to President Obama to deliver retribution to Republicans after the GOP-dominated state legislature approved a package of bills that could make this stronghold of union power the nation’s 24th right-to-work state as early as next week.

Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, who on Thursday called the votes to approve the right-to-work measure “petty and vindictive politics,” sparked more backlash Friday when she said she wants the president, who is set to visit Detroit on a previously scheduled political trip on Monday, to push back on Republican Gov. Rick Snyder by holding back federal money for a new international bridge project to Canada and a badly needed mass-transit program in ailing Detroit.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Eight Traitor RINOs Cuddle Up to Treasonous LibDems But Fail to Approve U.N. Treaty

Nine Republicans made their very best efforts to cause Americans to lose their sovereignty in a vote in the United States Senate on Wednesday, December 05, 2012.

This action in our very own government chambers if approved would have meant a great victory for the corrupt and grossly greedy United Nations by gaining a strong measure of control over the United States as has been planned and programmed by the traitorous and prevaricating usurper president and his Socialist-Communist followers in the U. S. Senate.

That measure of control would have been the capture of our sovereignty had the Senate bill labeled ‘Treaty Doc 112-7 not been rejected by a vote of 61 to 38, failing to reach the 67 votes needed. If passed it would have meant that for the first time in the 237 years of our history we would have lost our sovereign rule to a foreign power, namely the United Nations gang of cut-throat thieves, bandits and would-be world rulers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Is the U.S. Being Hoodwinked on Climate Change?

Obama’s climate negotiator pulling America into a new Kyoto Protocol

On December 5, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern told the United Nations Climate Change Conference now underway in Qatar, that “The Durban Platform represents an agreement for the 2020s and beyond—one that will be applicable to all and therefore have the potential to achieve the ambition we all seek.”

That is what Western politicians have been telling their citizens for the past year. They must think none of us actually read the Durban Platform. For if they did, anyone could see we are being hoodwinked. It would not be “applicable to all” at all. It would be another Kyoto Protocol.

Here’s why.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Muslims, Episcopalians, And Diversity Dreams

On December 15 the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) will have its annual convention at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, a prominent liberal parish within the increasingly liberal Episcopal denomination. It’s the first time MPAC has convened at a church. Last week a younger writer on national security issues named Ryan Mauro penned a column critical of MPAC’s radical connections in its past and questioned the church’s wisdom in hosting it. The article appeared in and on the website of my group, the Institute on Religion and Democracy. On December 6, MPAC and the All Saints Episcopal convened a press conference at the church to denounce an ostensible “attack from right-wing extremists,” which seemed mostly to be Mauro’s article…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tri-Faith Vision Becomes Reality in Omaha

Jewish temple, Islamic center, Episcopalian church to exist on 1 property

The concept is to build a Jewish temple, Islamic center, and Episcopalian church all on one property and connected by walkways that meet at a tri-faith center meant to encourage education and understanding.

A recent drawing shows the buildings organizers hope to construct near 132nd and Pacific streets.

As workers put the finishing touches on the new Temple Israel, they’re also laying ground for its neighbor: a two-story, 20,000-square-foot Islamic center.

“When they’re looking out, they’ll be facing the other two faith buildings and the tri-faith building,” said Patrick Morgan, of Slaggie Architects, the company designing the Islamic center. “It’s going to be so much more than just a place of prayer, which is a mosque.”

[Return to headlines]

US Government vs. Constitution

Over the past decade I have seen an increase in the awareness of the American people that the central government has overstepped its constitutional authority. Elected officials have outright admitted that they do not consider constitutionality when creating laws and there are a myriad of government agencies that exist without constitutional authority but are invested with police-like powers under the color of law.

Ron Paul, arguably the most constitutionally minded representative, in his farewell address stated: “Our Constitution, which was intended to limit government power and abuse, has failed.” And as much as I believe and follow his sentiment I must interject — the Constitution has no power, in and of itself. It was designed to give US, we the people, the legal and moral right to reign in tyrannical government. The Constitution did not fail, we failed it!

Over the past decade I have been researching constitutional history, the proper role of government designed by our constitution and republican form of governance and can only come to one conclusion — the government, as currently constructed, is NOT controlled or limited by the Constitution nor do those that lead our country abide by it. In all but political gamesmanship the Constitution has become irrelevant.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Greece Fires General After Promoting PKK Book

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 3 — The director of the Greek Ministry of Defense’s War Museum in Athens was removed from office on Saturday following a statement by Turkey declaring its disappointment on the promotion last week in the museum of a book penned by one of the leaders of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A Greek version of Murat Karayilan’s book, ‘Bir Savasin Anatomisi’ (Anatomy of a War), was promoted on Wednesday at the museum in the Greek capital. The book, originally published in 2011, was recently printed in Greece.

According to a statement released by the Greek Ministry of Defense, the director of the museum, Maj. Gen. Panagiotis Lazos, was replaced by Brig. Gen. Panagiotis Kaperonis as a result of a decision by Defense Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos. Turkey had said that a book launch for militant Karayilan in Athens and the display of his book at the Defense Ministry museum was an unfortunate development in terms of counterterrorism. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke over the phone with his Greek counterpart, Dimitrios Avramopulos, on Thursday and expressed disappointment over the incident, according to a statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Avramopoulos said he shared Davutoglu’s disappointment and dismissed reports that promotion of the book was condoned by the Greek government. He also said action was being taken against officials of the museum who appear to be responsible for the book promotion as part of an investigation into the incident. Karayilan is wanted by Turkish authorities and Interpol for his role in the militant PKK.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Emilio Fede Calls Ruby ‘Smelly, Ugly’

Former TV anchor one of three accused of pimping for Berlusconi

(ANSA) — Milan, December 3 — Emilio Fede, the former Italian TV anchor accused of procuring an underage Moroccan prostitute for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, called her “ugly and smelly” on Monday. “She was ugly, smelly and I didn’t know she was a minor,” said Fede at his deposition, recalling his impression of the showgirl at the premier’s villa in Arcore. “She didn’t interest me because I found her inadequate and she was not pleasant”. The two other alleged pimps are ex-Berlusconi dental hygienist and Lombardy regional councillor Nicole Minetti and bankrupt talent scout Lele Mora.

On Monday, Fede accused Mora of originally bringing Ruby to Arcore, where the former premier and media mogul held his so-called bunga bunga parties.

“She didn’t come with me, she was brought by Lele Mora,” said Fede. In a parallel trial, Berlusconi is charged with paying Ruby for sex when she was underage and allegedly getting police to release her from custody on an unrelated theft claim.

Both Ruby and Berlusconi deny having sex.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Govt Plans to Ban Building in Flood, Landslide Risk Areas

New regulations will also feature climate change insurance

(ANSA) — Rome, December 5 — The government plans to ban building in areas at risk of flooding and landslides, according to a draft of new regulations that ANSA has seen.

The new rules are listed among the priority actions called for in a new set of ‘strategic’ regulations that Environment Minister Corrado Clini has sent to the government’s inter-ministerial economic planning committee (CIPE), which will subsequently discuss them.

The draft also features a new obligation for insurance coverage of public and private buildings and assets against risks connected to climate change.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi’s PDL Party Says Monti Govt Finished

Centre left blasts stance as ‘irresponsible’

(ANSA) — Rome, December 7 — Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party considers Premier Mario Monti’s emergency government to be over, party Secretary Angelino Alfano said on Friday. “We consider the experience of this government to be concluded,” Alfano said in the House.

“This has nothing to do with Monti as a person, his service to the institutions and his honesty with the political parties and with us in particular”.

The announcement comes after Alfano said Thursday that Berlusconi has dropped plans to retire from front-line politics and would run for a fourth term as Italian premier in upcoming national elections. The PdL did not back the government in two confidence votes in parliament on Thursday.

By withdrawing its support, the PdL looks set to provoke early elections as Monti’s administration of unelected technocrats is unlikely to be able to survive without the backing of the biggest party in parliament.

Italy was set to go to the polls for national elections in March anyway. Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) blasted the move.

“You are irresponsible,” said PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani, who will be the centre-left’s premier candidate in the upcoming national elections. Pier Ferdinando Casini, the leader of the centrist UDC party, suggested Berlusconi was pulling stunts for electoral reasons with his party struggling in the polls and ravaged by internal rifts. The PdL posted its lowest-ever level of support in an opinion poll released Friday, 13.8%. The centre-right party has been overtaken by comedian Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which is polling at close to 20%.

The PD lead with around 30% of people saying they intend to vote for them. Casini said the PdL was “playing irresponsible games at the expense of the Italian people”. His party has helped provide Monti’s government with the support it needs in parliament, along with the much bigger PdL and PD, since it took office a year ago when Berlusconi was forced to resign as premier with Italy’s debt crisis in danger of spiralling out of control.

Alfano said the PdL wanted an “orderly” end to Monti’s government. “Yesterday we did not vote against,” Alfano told the House referring to the PdL’s failure to back the government in two confidence votes on Thursday, “because we would have caused the abyss of a provisional administration. “We want to conclude this parliamentary term in an orderly fashion without sending the institutions and the country to rack and ruin”. If Monti’s government falls before the budget for next year is passed, it would be necessary to form a provisional executive to push it through parliament.

Monti’s austerity measures have boosted investors’ faith in Italy’s ability to weather the eurozone crisis and contributed to pressure easing on the country’s borrowing costs.

But they have also deepened the recession Italy slipped into last year and contributed to unemployment reaching a record high approaching three million.

President Giorgio Napolitano had talks on the turmoil with Alfano and Bersani on Friday. He also met House Speaker Gianfranco Fini and Senate Speaker Renato Schifani, respectively Italy’s third and second most senior institutional figures.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Ability to Buy Votes Factor in Berlusconi’s Return — Saviano

Ex-premier set to run for fourth term

(see related stories) (ANSA) — Rome, December 7 — Anti-Mafia writer Roberto Saviano said Friday that the ability to buy votes in Italy was a factor in ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s decision to run for a fourth term in the upcoming general national elections.

“Berlusconi’s return is partly founded on the fact that a part of the vote in Italy can be bought,” Saviano told a radio show. Saviano is best known for his writings exposing the Naples mafia, the Camorra. His 2006 best-seller Gomorrah triggered death threats from the mob and forced the state to give him round-the-clock police protection.

The book has been turned into a critically acclaimed film which won second prize at Cannes and five European Film Awards in 2008.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Lazio Regional Elections Called for February 3, 4

Centre-right administration collapsed after corruption probe

(ANSA) — Rome, December 7; The Lazio region around Rome is set to hold elections on February 3 and 4, Rome Prefect Giuseppe Pecoraio said on Friday.

The elections are necessary because governor Renata Polverini’s centre-right administration in the region collapsed following a corruption scandal earlier this year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy:73% of Voters ‘Don’t Want Berlusconi to Stand Again’

67% of centre-right PdL supporters back the move

(ANSA) — Rome, December 7 — The vast majority of eligible voters in Italy look unfavourably on Thursday’s announcement by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi that he would stand in upcoming general elections, according to an opinion poll published Friday. Polling institute SWG said 73% of the overall electorate disagreed with the decision.

This figure dropped to 23% among supporters of Berlusconi’s own party, the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL).

PdL supporters however disagreed over their leader’s next move: 27% thought the media magnate should run in party primaries, the object of wrangling and uncertainty for weeks; 27% that he should cancel them and remain as the party leader; and 23% that he should create a new party. On Thursday PdL secretary Angelino Alfano said Berlusconi’s decision to “return to the field” made primaries pointless.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lawsuit Targets French Paper Over Anti-Islam Cartoons

PARIS — Two French Muslim groups have filed a lawsuit for inciting racial hatred and slander against a French satirical weekly that published cartoons of holy Prophet (PBUH), the paper’s lawyer said Friday. Charlie Hebdo published the cartoons in September as often violent — and sometimes deadly — protests were taking place in several countries over a low-budget film made in the United States that insults the holy Prophet (PBUH).

The Algerian Democratic Rally for Peace and Progress (RDAP) and its offshoot the United Arab Organisation (OAU), which both state that their goal is “the defence and support of Muslim and/or Arab people”, are seeking damages of 780,000 euros ($1 million). Their suit targets the publication, its director and two cartoonists. Two other groups have already filed suits against Charlie Hebdo over the same series of cartoons. The most recent suits say they besmirched the honour of the holy Prophet (PBUH) and of Muslims. “Yet again, they are trying to scare us to prevent us continuing this French humoristic tradition regarding religion,” said the weekly’s lawyer Richard Malka…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Northern Ireland: Four Still Held Over Derry Rocket

Four men in their 40s are still being questioned by police after a home-made rocket was found in a car stopped in Londonderry on Thursday night.

The vehicle was stopped at Westway in Creggan. Three of the men were in the vehicle, the other was arrested nearby. A senior police officer has said he has no doubt the rocket was to be used to try and kill his officers. Chief Supt Stephen Martin said the device was of a type used extensively by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Northern Ireland: It’s About Sovereignty, Stupid

by Ruth Dudley Edwards

My past as an interpreter of Northern Irish loyalism caught up with me again this morning. What the Today Programme, the World Service and Sky News wanted to know was why loyalists were making so much fuss about the Union flag, which used to fly permanently over City Hall but henceforward will be there only on certain designated days. Republicans had tried to get it banned altogether and the Alliance Party, the non-tribal centrist party, tabled the compromise motion that was adopted. Rather than protesting against the republican instigators, loyalists have been threatening and intimidating Alliance politicians and torching their buildings.

There are no excuses for their behaviour, but there are some reasons. The peace process involved a great deal of fudge, and has, perforce, dodged the key issue of sovereignty. Loyalists want to stay in the UK: republicans want a United Ireland. The bankrupt Republic of Ireland has no interest whatsoever getting any more involved with its difficult neighbour. But the loyalist leadership have failed to explain to their rank-and-file that they have won and republicans have lost, while the republicans, having lost, insist they’ve won.

The IRA, having sworn not to lay down arms until there was a United Ireland, have decommissioned their arsenal and their front-men serve the Queen. But the republican leadership continues to wage a sovereignty war through the medium of culture. Speaking Irish in Stormont, demanding another border poll, objecting to loyalist parades or restricting the flying of the union flag all press buttons that awaken tribal terrors among the most vulnerable on the other side — those that are jobless and ill-educated and feel unloved by Westminster. Loyalists fear with some justification that the plan is to hollow out their sense of identity by taking away from them the symbols they hold so dear. ‘Our only crime is loyalty,’ is a frequent, heartfelt, cry.

A blow-up was always on the cards, and it certainly shouldn’t have taken politicians or police by surprise. From a loyalist perspective, the Alliance party have revealed themselves to be traitors. Words like ‘reason’ and ‘compromise’ do not work well when people are fearful and angry.Will Northern Ireland go back to the bad old days? No, because the majority are determined that it shouldn’t. But while the culture wars persist, there will always be an uneasy peace.

[Reader comment by greggf on 8 December 2012 at 2:38 am.]

“….and republicans have lost, while the republicans, having lost, insist they’ve won.”

Now doesn’t that sound very Irish Ruth! However I feel you have missed a point, or strategy, which is all too common here in Britain. By chipping away at the established customs and symbols of the inhabitants and introducing new ones change can be achieved by stealth. We are seeing exactly the same strategy in Britain as the Islamists spread their “culture wars” and at the expense of christianity. Loyalism in Ulster is a model we should venerate because it might be needed on the mainland. (Edited by author 2 hours ago)

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Northern Ireland: Police Injured in Belfast Riots

Eight police officers have been injured in rioting that broke out in Belfast as hundreds of loyalists clashed with police during protests over new restrictions on flying flags.

Mobs of youths draped in Union flags clashed with officers dressed in riot gear close to the city centre and in several locations on the outskirts of the city. Cars were set alight and hundreds of people attending a Christmas function had to be evacuated. Twelve people were arrested during the violence, including a 13-year-old boy. Six police officers were injured in clashes in the Ballysillan area in the north west of the city while two more were injured during violence in the city centre. The trouble flared after a week of protests by Loyalists over new restrictions on flying the union flag at Belfast city hall. The council voted to fly the flag only on designated days.

On Friday US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the city and condemned the violence. But on Friday night, trouble flared at Shaftesbury Square — a popular party spot near Queen’s University — after a man tried to drive a black van through a loyalist roadblock of about 200 people. The Police Service of Northern Ireland said an attempt was made to hijack the van. Through out the night trouble flared at a number of locations, with bricks and other missiles being thrown at police. Water cannons were deployed by police in an attempt to dispel the crowds…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pope Makes Secretary Gaenswein Archbishop

‘Gorgeous George’ also new head of Pontifical House

(ANSA) — Vatican City, December 7 — Pope Benedict XVI on Friday named his personal secretary Msgr Georg Gaenswein an archbishop.

He also made his fellow German, 56, the new prefect of the Pontifical Household, replacing American cardinal James Michael Harvey.

Gaenswein is known as Gorgeous George by fans who think his appeal outshines that of Hollywood stars like George Clooney.

Unusually for Vatican figures other than popes, he has calendars devoted to him.

The Papal Household is a section of the Roman Curia that comprises the Papal Chapel (Cappella Pontificia) and the Papal Family (Familia Pontificia).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Romania: Two Pakistanis Declared Personae Non Gratae in Romania for Terrorist Suspicion

BUCHAREST, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) — Two Pakistani citizens suspected of plotting a terrorist attack in Romania during the winter holidays were declared personae non gratae, the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) announced here on Thursday. SRI spokesperson Sorin Sava said Pakistani citizens Ramzan Muhammad and Adeel Muhammad were suspected to have provided aid for the terrorist operation. One of them had knowledge in manufacturing explosives. According to the SRI, the two were linked to an extremist structure ideologically affiliated to al-Qaeda. Following the sentence of the Court of Appeal, the two are held in public custody in order to be extradited from Romania.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Scottish Government Lobbied Mandela, Tutu and Robinson Over Megrahi

Emails have been published showing how the Scottish Government lobbied prominent global figures such as Nelson Mandela to back the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber.

The emails, released under freedom of information legislation, show one of First Minister Alex Salmond’s advisers contacted the offices of Mr Mandela, former Irish president Mary Robinson and Archbishop Desmond Tutu inviting them to comment publicly…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Judge Backs Wife in Fight to Keep Her Husband Alive After Hospital Tried to Withhold Treatment

The loving wife of a desperately ill musician yesterday won her fight to force a hospital to keep treating him.

Doctors had wanted to withhold potentially lifesaving care from David James, 68.

But a senior judge overruled them, saying they had failed to fully credit the importance of his ‘continued existence’.


Mr James’s daughter Julie, 48, said: ‘I feel absolutely overwhelmed. It just proves what the hospital has been trying to do is unlawful. It’s disgusting that we should have had to come to court in the first place.

‘It’s been a terrible time for us all, but the people I feel most sorry for now are the patients who don’t have families to fight for them like my dad has.

‘To be brutally honest I think it all comes down to costs — he’s been there for seven months, he’s become a liability and they want to free up a bed.

‘But the judge agreed with us, and hopefully it will stop other families having to go through what we have.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: The Painful Paradoxes of the Left …

Richard Landes

I just recently attended a conference in London on Anti-Semitism (see here for the talk I gave). I spoke on a panel with Bat Ye’or, and we both talked about the role of anti-Semitism in global Jihad, she in terms of its place in the Jihadi discourse, me in terms of the way that European/Western tolerance if not encouragement of it among Muslims (they drink wine while keeping an open bar of high grain alcohol for the Islamists), is actually one of the West’s greatest vulnerabilities in the Jihad against them (Anti-Zionism as the soft underbelly of the West in Jihadi cognitive warfare)…

Now there is a depressing and pungent irony here that completely escaped those who walked out. In so doing, they illustrated Manfred’s point. As Manfred explained: by our standards, Islam is an inferior culture [JP emphasis]; were we to treat Muslims the way they treat infidels the world over, we would consider that our culture had failed to live up to its standards. Specifically on the issue of speech, these people were insisting that (even if it’s true) it’s just unacceptable to make negative generalizations about another group…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Taxi Driver Who Knocked Down Eight Men by Driving Cab ‘Like a Bowling Ball’ After Row is Jailed for 15 Years

A taxi driver has today been jailed for 15 years yesterday for mowing down eight men ‘like a bowling ball’ with his black cab.

Majid Rehman, 29, deliberately used his car to run over the men walking on a pavement after a row at a railway station taxi rank.

A court heard how furious Rehman deliberately ran a red light and drove ‘at speed’ towards six railworkers as they walked home from the station, just yards from the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Walk-Outs Over ‘Islamophobia’ At Antisemitism Symposium

A seminar meant to highlight problems in dealing with antisemitism ran into trouble when audience members walked out — alleging Islamophobia on the part of some speakers.

At the forefront were leaders of the Community Security Trust, who challenged remarks made by the Egyptian writer Bat Ye’or, and Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld, a founding member of the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, which sponsored the seminar, held at London’s Wiener Library.

Bat Ye’or told the audience: “The source of antisemitism is the organisation of the Islamic corporation.” But when Dave Rich, the CST’s deputy communications director, expressed concern that such a comment could be construed as Islamophobic, she responded: “Islam is denying the root of Judaism and Christianity with a profound belief in Jihad.”

David Hirsh, editor of anti-racist website Engage, left the room during Dr Gerstenfeld’s lecture. He explained: “I was appalled by Gerstenfeld’s characterisation of Muslim culture as inferior. Nearly all the speakers on the day, including me, stressed that antisemitism must be understood and opposed within an anti-racist framework. I am as appalled by the Islamophobia which creeps into some opposition to antisemitism as I am by the way antisemitism also creeps into ostensibly anti-racist spaces.”

But Dr Gerstenfeld said later: “I am touching upon the taboos that have to be broken, because a totally false narrative has been created in Europe. The idea that all cultures are the same is absurd. If there is no hierarchy in culture, then Nazi culture is equivalent to democratic Western culture. There are Islamic groups which are equivalent in their language and ideology to Nazis. And I have no problem in saying that, because it is true.”

Mark Gardner, director of communications for CST, said after the seminar: “A minority of speakers said things about Britain, Europe and Muslims that we found to be incorrect, unacceptable and self-defeating. We made our concerns clear with a number of interventions and were correct to do so.” David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute, and Philip Spencer, director of research in politics at Kingston University, also walked out in protest. Mr Feldman said: “Unfortunately, the unfounded arguments of some speakers and expressions of religious prejudice from others did a disservice to Jews and others seeking to combat antisemitism.” At the end of the event, the former Labour MP, Denis MacShane, was given an award for his work in fighting antisemitism.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Warning to Teesside Teachers as BNP Leaflet Campaign Targets Schools

HEADTEACHERS on Teesside are being warned about a leaflet campaign by the British National Party targeting schools. Cleveland Police has branded the content of the BNP leaflets as “provocative and detrimental to good community relations”. The force has consulted with the Crown Prosecution Service regarding any potential offences and is awaiting their advice. Teachers on Teesside are being called on to be vigilant about any possible BNP political activity seeking to engage young people.

The ‘Together we’ll beat ‘em!’ leaflet “focuses on dangers faced by young people from organised gangs of paedophiles,” say the BNP. The pink flyer, branded with a YBNP (formerly the Young BNP) logo, shows three girls, arms raised in a boxing stance. Addressing ‘Dear Head Teacher/ Head of the Year’, a covering letter from Adam Walker of the BNP, a former teacher himself, warns: “This problem is very real and the consequences in terms of social development for people targeted by the gangs is disastrous.” The letter goes on: “Whilst the British National Party fully recognises that paedophiles come from all walks of life, we are particularly concerned that in recent years, authorities up-an-down our country have attempted to cover up crimes where the perpetrators include groups of Muslim men.”…

[JP note: Alison Pearson, writing recently about the Rotherham adoption scandal, helpfully translated the good community doublespeak of the authorities: “It doesn’t matter how much white girls are abused so long as we don’t look racist.” ]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EU-Algeria: Brussels Approves Eur 45 Mln in Financial Aid

2 programmes, one for the economy and other for governance

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, DECEMBER 7 — The European Commission approved two financial aid programmes for Algeria during yesterday’s EU-Algeria Association Council meeting in Brussels. The first programme, with a budget of EUR 15 million, aims to diversify the Algerian economy and will support sustainable development in the fisheries and agriculture sector. The second, which will enjoy EUR 30 million in funding, will instead go towards implementing the EU-Algeria Association Agreement, with the aim of strengthening good governance and public administration. EU Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule said that “over the past few years, our bilateral relations have increased. In particular, I think that it is important to support a strengthening of the reform process in Algeria, especially through the extension of fundamental freedoms.” In his eyes, “the two cooperation programmes adopted by the EU Commission show that the EU intends to continue to be a reliable partner, and that it will continue to share with Algeria its instruments and experience in transition to a stable democracy, an inclusive and sustainable economy and a State which meets the aspirations of its population.” The EU-Algeria Association Council meeting in Brussels provided an opportunity to discuss the talks on an initial joint action plan within the framework of neighbourhood policies.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt’s Morsi Makes Concessions But Holds Steady on Constitutional Vote

Struggling to quell protests and violence that have threatened to derail a vote on an Islamist-backed draft constitution, President Mohamed Morsi moved Saturday to appease his opponents with a package of concessions just hours after state media reported that he was moving toward imposing a form of martial law to secure the streets and the polls.

Mr. Morsi did not budge on a critical demand of the opposition: that he postpone the constitutional referendum scheduled for next Saturday, which is meant to move the country toward democracy but has been criticized for leaving loopholes that could bolster the Islamists now running the country.

But he held out an olive branch, rescinding most of his sweeping Nov. 22 decree that temporarily elevated his decisions above judicial review and offering a convoluted arrangement for eventual amendments to the draft constitution to alleviate the fears of liberal groups.

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Mastermind of Benghazi Attack Arrested in Egypt

(AGI) Washington, Dec. 7 — Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, 45, has been arrested in Egypt. He is the alleged head of an Islamist terrorist organisation whose members organised and executed the deadly assault of September 11, when the US consulate at Benghazi was torched and four US nationals murdered, including the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. According to “The Wall Street Journal”, that broke the news quoting confidential US diplomatic sources, Abu Ahmad is an Egyptian Islamic jihad militant, who was freed from jail in March 2011, after Hosni Mubarak’s fall.

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

Tens of Thousands Storm Barricades at Egypt’s Presidential Palace

Tens of thousands of opponents of President Mohammed Morsi stormed barricades around his palace in Cairo as the impasse over Egypt’s constitutional crisis showed signs of getting out of control.

Opposition leaders earlier rejected Mr Morsi’s call for talks, putting their weight instead behind rallies which converged on the palace from all across Cairo attacking his plans for a constitutional referendum next weekend. The protesters were held up by a line of the Republican Guard, but as numbers grew it gave way, with swarms of demonstrators running in front of the gates and climbing on top of armoured personnel carriers and tanks.

In a long-awaited televised speech to the nation on Thursday night, Mr Morsi refused to lift the declaration under which he put his powers beyond the scrutiny of judges and insisted the referendum on a new, Islamist-tinged constitution would not be postponed. He called for a meeting with the opposition on Saturday, but his failure to offer compromises in advance, and the increasingly militant tone of Brotherhood statements, infuriated the mainly liberal and secular opposition. “We are against dialogue based on a policy of arm-twisting and imposing a fait accompli,” said Mohammed ElBaradei, the former United Nations Atomic Energy chief who is now the opposition’s figurehead…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Government Calls on UGTT to Go Back on Its Decision Relating to a General Strike

Tunis — The government called on the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) “to listen to reason to spare the country tensions and to go back on its decision to call for a general protest strike to give way to dialogue.” This call was launched at the end of an inner cabinet meeting held on Thursday under chairmanship of Interim Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali devoted to looking at the situation in the country after the UGTT decision to call to a general protest strike next Thursday.

In a statement published at the end of the meeting, the government warned against “the negative effects of this decision in this delicate situation the country is living through.”

The government expressed surprise at “the attempts of some parties to involve it in the recent incidents” that took place in front of the UGTT headquarters, reckoning that “only justice is entitled to determine responsibilities” and reiterating its categorical rejection of any attack against the premises of organisations, parties or civil society structures and care to ensure the security of people and public and private property. The government insisted in its statement on the historical role of the union as “a national organisation that contributed to the national and democratic fight and as partner in development, social peace and completion of the revolution gains,” stressing “the danger of resorting to a general strike” which it described as “a decision out of proportion.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Jews and Arabs Get to Know One Another on a Galilee Stage

(ANSAmed) — ROME — While Europe is busy criticising Israeli policies that are “counterproductive to prospects for peace”, in the Upper Galilee there are those focusing on the young to build a future of dialogue between Arabs and Jews. Edna Calo’ Livne is a Jew of Roman extraction with a degree in Pirandello Studies. Since 1975 she has been living in a secular, socialist kibbutz in northern Israel, just a few kilometers from the Lebanese border. Livne was at Rome’s Palazzo della Cultura in the old Jewish ghetto to talk about her “ambassadors of peace”: a group of adolescent Jews and Arabs who she has taught to communicate and trust each other through the theatre. “The idea of creating this theatre laboratory came to me during the Second Intifada, in 2000,” she says. “At the time there were three attacks in Israel every day. My husband Yehuda and I organised a camping trip to Italy for the kids injured in the attacks and for those who were family members of those killed. That experience led to the desire to bring together onto one stage young Israeli Jews and Arabs, so that they could learn to get to know one another.” The project met with a great deal of resistance, but eventually got underway. “Since then, 500 adolescents have taken part in the laboratories of our foundation, called Beresheet leShalom” — which translates as “The Principle of Peace”. There are mostly Israeli Jews and Arabs, but some projects have also included Jordanians, Palestinians and Egyptians. “We have been invited to perform in many countries,” Livne added, “including Italy, where we have come some 37 times.” This woman bursting with energy and enthusiasm recalls when, in 2008, she managed to bring 80 Israeli and Jordanian adolescents to perform in front of Pope Benedict XVI.

Over the past few weeks, during the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip, Beresheet leShalom was in the Emilia region to work with children traumatised by the earthquake. “They have been hit by a natural catastrophe, while I explained that I — as an Israeli — am also living through a catastrophe. While there have been many successes, we’ve also met with many difficulties.” “Working with Palestinians is not easy. Many of them refuse to ‘normalise’ relations with Israelis, while others are afraid of retaliation. But I am not frustrated. I always leave a door open.” Unlike many Israeli pacifists, Livne is highly critical of the UN recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state at the General Assembly, and said that “Israel was not asked. This Palestinian move puts the Oslo Accords at risk.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Khaled Meshaal: Fighting Talk as Gaza Greets Exiled Leader

Khaled Meshaal made a triumphant visit to Gaza, surrounded by supporters and militants alike. Robert Tait witnessed the unprecedented scenes.

This was no ordinary homecoming. Under a clear blue sky and amid chaotic scenes, Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas-leader-in-exile, crossed into the Gaza strip shortly before 1pm to be greeted by a throng of hundreds of chanting supporters — some armed to the teeth with Kalishnikovs and rocket propelled grenades. In a moment of high theatre he dropped to his knees, placed his lips on the ground and kissed the land he has commanded by proxy — but which he has never visited — for years. Then, with hyperbole perhaps fitting for a leader of a religiously-inspired movement, he compared his visit to being reborn. “This is my first visit to my homeland in 37 years. It is my third birth,” he declared. “The first birth was the natural birth in 1956, the second in 1997, when the attempt by the crazed [Benjamin] Netanyahu tried to assassinate me, and this one on the 7th of December 2012.” The 56-year-old hoped to go one better and experience a fourth. “The liberation of Palestine, in Ramallah, Jerusalem and Haifa and Jaffa,” he said. In keeping with his militant language he said: “I hope God will make me a martyr on the land of Palestine in Gaza.”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Thousands Gather in Gaza for Hamas Rally and Meshaal Speech

Tens of thousands of people are gathering to attend a rally in the Gaza Strip to mark the 25th anniversary of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal is due to address the crowd during his first ever visit to the territory. Mr Meshaal’s visit follows a ceasefire that ended days of violence between Israel and Hamas last month. He is expected to unveil a future strategy for Hamas and talk of reconciliation with its rival, Fatah. Hamas removed Fatah from Gaza by force in 2007 after winning elections there. Fatah governs parts of the West Bank.

‘Made in Gaza’

The BBC’s Yolande Knell in Gaza City says the event is intended to send a message that, after 25 years, Hamas is a force to be reckoned with. It enjoys support in Gaza and feels it is gaining regional political influence after the Arab uprisings brought new Islamist governments to power, she adds…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

China Grabs Mideast Oil as U.S. Power Dips

China is muscling into Iraq’s oil sector as Baghdad grapples with defections by international majors like Exxon Mobil and Chevron of the United States and France’s Total.

This is part of Beijing’s drive to secure oil and natural gas resources in the Middle East and Africa as U.S. influences wanes.

China’s clout in Iraq, along with other parts of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, is bound to increase as the Americans’ diminishes.

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Drifting Towards World War 3

Alex runs down developing news stories, including moves against Syria as the USS Eisenhower arrives in the waters off the besieged Middle Eastern nation. It now looks certain Western-Arab military intervention against the Assad regime is due to begin shortly with the participation of the U.S., France, Britain, Turkey, Jordan and other anti-Assad Arab nations.

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Game Changer: Russian Iskander (SS-26) Mobile Ballistic Missile Delivered to Assad’s Syria

Given the deteriorating situation in Syria, if the Iskander (SS-26 Missiles) were to fall into al Qaeda, al-Husra or Jundallah Islamist militia hands in the fundamentalist opposition that would constitute a serious threat to Israel’s yet to be completed missile defense umbrella. The David’s Sling intermediate range defense system will be deployed in 2013 and 2014…

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon[Return to headlines]

Latest Fighting in Lebanon’s Tripoli Worst in Years: Army

BEIRUT, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) — The Lebanese army described Friday the latest round of sectarian fighting between rival neighborhoods in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli on Thursday night as the worst the city has witnessed in years…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Mom to be Lashed for Marrying Foreigner

A Saudi court sentenced a local mother of four to five days in jail and ordered her lashed 10 times for marrying a Syrian man without getting official approval in violation of Saudi laws governing mixed-marriages, press reports said on Thursday. The court in the western Red Sea port of Jeddah also handed down the same sentence to the woman’s ex-husband and ordered him to pay her SR1,600 as alimony every month, the Arabic language daily Almadina said…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syrian Girl: U.S. & NATO Fighting for Al-Qaeda

Alex talks with Syrian Girl about the latest developments in Syria and who stands to gain from this illegal proxy war, pre-invasion by design.

[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Intelligence Chief Targeted by Underpants Bomb

The suicide attacker who seriously wounded the Afghan intelligence chief in an assassination attempt detonated a bomb hidden in his underpants.

Asadullah Khalid, head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS), was badly wounded in the blast on Thursday and is being treated at a US military hospital on Bagram Airfield, north of Kabul. The attacker posed as a peace envoy to meet Mr Khalid at an NDS guesthouse in the capital, according to intelligence officials…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Malaysia: Non-Muslims Nabbed for ‘Khalwat’ In Kelantan

KOTA BARU: Four non-Muslims two men on a plane spotting outing and a couple in a park have been issued with summonses for khalwat, a first in the country. The summonses were for “indecent behaviour” but the four have denied any wrongdoing, claiming instead that the municipal council’s enforcement officers “were merely abusing their position”. State MCA Youth chief Gan Han Chuan said the officers “have gone crazy”, trying to enforce hudud laws on non-Muslims. “This is a first in history where non-Muslims have been issued summonses for khalwat,” he said…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pakistan ‘Expanding Nuclear Arsenal to Deter US Attack’

Pakistan is expanding its nuclear arsenal to deter an American attack on its status as an atomic power, according to India’s former foreign secretary.

Asia’s triangular arms race has traditionally reflected the rivalries between India and China and India and Pakistan, but according to an influential former adviser to Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, Pakistan now regards the United States as a potential threat. In an article for The Hindu newspaper, Shyam Saran said Islamabad had invested in a new generation of plutonium-based warheads, increased the size range of its arsenal, and improved the accuracy of its missiles. Washington has voiced its concerns over the build-up in the region but believes it reflects Pakistan’s long-standing fear of arch rival India’s conventional force superiority. But according to Mr Saran, Islamabad’s burgeoning nuclear arsenal is increasingly aimed at deterring its fractious ally in the war on terror, the United States. Its fear that Washington may strike to wipe out Pakistan’s nuclear capability dates back to just after the 9/11 attacks when then President Musharraf said it had been warned to support the war on terror or face being “bombed back to the stone age.”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

China: Hundreds of Inmates Released From a Beijing ‘Black Jail’ To Make Room for More

News about the release of “tens of thousands” of inmates from illegal prisons was met with great joy. A day later, reality struck with reports that only a few hundreds were let go to make room for new arrivals.

Beijing (AsiaNews) — One of Beijing’s largest ‘black jails’ released a few hundred petitioners held without trial or rights. Initially, news about the event was seen as a positive step; now it appears that it was taken to create room for new detainees.

Some of the people released said that the ‘black jail’ in question, which is located on the outskirts of the capital, hosts 70,000 to 80,000 inmates. On Tuesday night, prison guards opened some overcrowded detention tanks and let some inmates leave without motive.

A day earlier, Huang Qi, of the Chengdu-based Tianwang Human Rights Centre, had said that tens of thousands of people had been released but later had to apologise for his mistake.

Every year, millions of Chinese try to travel to the capital to present petitions against corrupt provincial Communist officials. This right is guaranteed by the Chinese constitution.

However, in recent years the central government has adopted regulations that allow police to seize petitioners for up to three years without trial and hold them in ‘black jails’, all this for fear of being swamped by their petitions.

As the great dissident Bao Tong put it, the confusion between political and judicial powers has created a black hole in Chinese society that feeds social unrest.

Last October, the government presented a draft bill to reform the legal system to stop such abuses of power, including harassment against lawyers and the ‘re-education through labour’ system; however, so far nothing has been done.

On 29 November, a Beijing court convicted ten men for running a ‘black jail’ on behalf of a local government. However, it handed down very light sentences (the harshest is one year).

Despite this, many ordinary Chinese welcomed the decision, seeing it as a change spurred by the country’s new Communist leadership.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Three Killed in Blast at Kenyan Mosque

NAIROBI: Three people were killed and eight wounded in a blast outside a mosque in the Kenyan capital, the Kenyan Red Cross and police said Friday.

There were “three fatalities” as well as several wounded, some critical, a Red Cross official said after the “explosion near a mosque in Eastleigh”, a largely ethnic Somali district of Nairobi. “We were told that three people have died of injuries from the incident,” Nairobi police chief Moses Nyakwama told AFP, “There are eight others in hospital, among them is a member of parliament.”

The grenade was hurled at worshippers leaving a popular mosque minutes after the end of the evening prayers. A handful of protesters took to the streets soon after the blast but were quickly contained by a heavy police presence. The Friday evening incident follows a roadside bomb explosion also in Eastleigh district on Wednesday evening, that killed one person and wounded eight others, as well as a bomb on a bus last month also in Eastleigh that killed nine…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

The Architecture of the New World Order

This week an icon of architecture died at the age of 104. He was Oscar Niemeyer, the Brazilian architect known for his projects of most public buildings in Brasilia.

He was, in a sense, more a master of drawing than an architect. His curves that evoked the mountains of his city of Rio de Janeiro are easily recognized. Much of his fame comes from the fact that he was one of the first to propose and build “habitable sculptures”. His buildings could easily be turned into small sculptures and displayed at a Soho art gallery.

Unfortunately, Niemeyer was a staunch communist. He was a great admirer of Stalin and Castro, and once said that the death of millions of people was a small price to pay for an utopia. He also supported the Marxist terrorist drug dealers of the FARC in Colombia (which flood Brazil with crack cocaine), and once drew a poster for them.

Niemeyer’s architecture was cold and oppressive. It was beautiful in paper and models, but inhumane in real life.

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Culture Wars

U.K. PM Backs ‘Gay’ Weddings in Church

‘This will outrage millions of people and hugely damage the government in electoral terms’

(London Evening Standard) David Cameron will risk a major battle with his party next week by backing gay weddings in churches, the Evening Standard can reveal.

He will go further than ever in his modernising drive by saying religious groups should be allowed to host same-sex civil weddings in churches, synagogues and other religious buildings if they choose.

Organisations that reject gay marriage, such as the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, will have legal protection from being forced to host ceremonies against their wishes, the Prime Minister will pledge.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]