Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121212

Financial Crisis
»Cash-Strapped French Snap Up ‘Yesterday’s Baguette’
»Cause and Effect: Americans Who Voted for Obama Now Seeing Weekly Job Hours Slashed Below 30 as Obamacare Kicks In
»Fed to Hold Rates Down Until Jobless Rate is Below 6.5%
»France’s Rich Ponder Choice Over Austerity: Fight or Flight?
»Germans Hording Mountains of Gold
»Greece Completes Buyback, Looks to Next Loan Tranche
»Italy’s Attractions Resistant to Economic, Financial Crisis
»Save Your Tears for the Unemployed
»Sorry Protesters, Your Jobs Are Being Sent to China and They Aren’t Coming Back
»World’s Most Prestigious Financial Agency — Called the “Central Banks’ Central Bank” — Warns of Bursting Bubble
»Mich Dem. Whitmer Shows Unions & Obama More Important Than Her State
»New York Public School Displays Obama Mural
»Obama Finds a Treaty His Base Doesn’t Like
»Sheryl Sandberg Offloads $41.5m in Facebook Shares in Just 6 Weeks
»Stop 2012 Fraud or Forget About Elections
»‘There Will be Blood’ — Union Violence in the Age of Obama
»Verizon Files Patent for Cable Box That Watches You as You Watch Television
Europe and the EU
»Art of Cheese-Making is 7,500 Years Old
»France: Ayrault Slams Tax Exiles After Depardieu Move
»Germany: World’s Biggest Cargo Ship Docks in Hamburg
»Holy Cow! First Cheesemakers Date Back 7,500 Years
»Human Rights Farce After Euro Judges Award £6,000 Payout to Victim of Playground Fight Over a Football in Croatia Ten Years Ago
»In Marseille, Those Who Slit the Throat of a French Lawyer Are Picked Up
»Islamist Extremist Suspected After Bomb Found at Bonn Rail Station
»Italy: Berlusconi Says “I Am a Premier Candidate”
»Italy: PDL’s Berlusconi Signals LNP Agreement Over Leadership
»Monti is Better Than His Predecessor, Says Schaeuble
»Paris Celebrates Notre Dame’s 850th Anniversary
»Tight Squeeze in Hamburg World’s Largest Container Ship Visits Germany
»UK: ‘Dangerous’ Arsonist Serving Life Sentence Who Was Sent to an Open Prison Tried to Torch Man’s Flat While on Day Release
»UK: Judge Credits Knife-Wielding Thug for ‘Taking Care Not to Inflict Life Threatening Injuries’ On Victim He Stabbed Five Times
»UK: Murdered for Reporting Her Rape: TV Documentary Reveals Harrowing Diaries of Nurse Who Was Killed by Her Ex-Boyfriend While He Was on Bail
»UK: The M6 Toxic Fireball: Police Set Up Half-Mile Exclusion Zone After Chemical Tanker Explodes and Ten People — Including Eight Firefighters — Are Left Needing Treatment
North Africa
»Clare Lopez: People Do Vote for Tyranny
»‘Insulting Religion’: Blasphemy Sentence in Egypt Sends a Chill
»Morsi Takes Control of Egypt’s Central Bank
Middle East
»Kurds May Secede by 2030, US Report
»Syrian Forces Have Fired Scud Missiles at Insurgents, U.S. Says
»Syrian Rebels Pledge Allegiance to Al-Qaeda Group That Killed U.S. Troops
»US Recognizes Unelected Terrorists as Syrian “Representatives”
»Tsarist Treasures Set Record at Swiss Auction
South Asia
»Proposed Army Manual Tells G.I.s Not to Insult Taliban, Speak Up for Women
Far East
»China to Overtake EU and US by 2030, US Intelligence Says
»Immigration is Female: 2.3 Million Women in Italy, I0M in Rome
»Over Half of Belgian Immigrants Not Registered for Work
Culture Wars
»‘A Bigot in a Bra!’: A Male Writer Responds to Esther Walker’s ‘Toxic and Chauvinistic’ Admission That She Doesn’t Want to Give Birth to a Little Boy
»‘The View’ Schooled on Traditional Marriage
»Ancient Galaxy May be Most Distant Ever Seen
»Nile-Like River Spotted on Saturn Moon Titan

Financial Crisis

Cash-Strapped French Snap Up ‘Yesterday’s Baguette’

A discount bakery has opened in the French town of Nîmes, which suffers one of the country’s highest unemployment rates. The bakery only sells day-old leftovers — a novelty for a country which prides itself on freshness.

A bakery which sells day-old bread for a discount price has opened in the French city of Nîmes, which suffers the country’s highest unemployment rate.

Selling day-old bread for half the price of a normal baguette, the “Au pain de la Veille” (Yesterday’s bread) also offers pizzas, cakes and pastries.

The products come from traditional bakeries in the city owned by the same company. Left on the shelf the previous day, the sweet and savoury snacks are brought to the discount store and sold for half the price.

A sales assistant in the shop advises buyers to heat the “soggy” bread in the oven for two minutes in order to make it as crusty as the day before, according to a report in French daily LeParisien. Customers shopping at the store told the newspaper that they could barely tell the difference between goods baked on the day or the day before.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Cause and Effect: Americans Who Voted for Obama Now Seeing Weekly Job Hours Slashed Below 30 as Obamacare Kicks In

(NaturalNews) It is the ultimate example of how you reap what you sow: Huge numbers of American workers who voted for Obama are now seeing their own jobs slashed below 30 hours a week as employers desperately try to avoid “Obamacare bankruptcy.”

Obamacare mandates for businesses only apply to those working 30 hours a week or more, and while many businesses do not want to cut workers’ hours, they are being forced to in order to stay afloat. This necessary action is causing businesses to lose money and become less competitive while at the same time destroying American jobs.

Some businesses are also slashing job positions in an effort to get below the 50-employee threshold above which Obamacare mandates kick in. So across the country, we’re not only seeing workers lose hours thanks to Obamacare; we’re also seeing workers losing their jobs.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Fed to Hold Rates Down Until Jobless Rate is Below 6.5%

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that it would maintain its efforts to revive the economy in the new year by continuing its monthly purchases of $85 billion in Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

The Fed said it would keep buying bonds until the outlook for the labor market improves substantially, reiterating a policy it first announced in September.

Looking even further into the future, the Fed said that it expected to maintain short-term interest rates near zero, even after it stops buying bonds, for as long as the unemployment rate remained above 6.5 percent, provided that medium-term inflation does not exceed 2.5 percent. The November jobless r ate was 7.7 percent.

[Return to headlines]

France’s Rich Ponder Choice Over Austerity: Fight or Flight?

Actor Gerard Depardieu has taken up residence in Nechin, Belgium, less than a mile from the French border, escaping from a 75 percent tax on incomes above 1 million euros imposed by the French government. He follows billionaire Bernard Arnault, chief executive officer of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, who said in September he’s seeking Belgian citizenship. Depardieu will share the village of Nechin, where a quarter of the population are French, with members of the Mulliez family, associated with France’s Auchan supermarkets, according to Belgium’s Le Soir.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Francois Hollande has announced measures designed to improve the lot of France’s poorest citizens. The five-year poverty reduction plan, which will cost 2.5 billion euros, is aimed at the more than 8 million people who live on less than 962 euros a month, or less than 60% of the average income in the country. Among the measures, the subsidy paid to jobless people, the so-called RSA, will be boosted by 10 percent in real terms to equal half the minimum wage of 1,100 euros. The threshold for accessing free health care will be lowered so another half million people receive the benefit, adding to the 4.4 million who already get the service for free.

The government’s intention is to stall the rise in poverty seen in recent years: the number of those living on less than 800 euros a month rose 21 percent to 4.7 million between 2004 and 2010. The number of those living on less than 640 euros rose 40 percent to 2.1 million in the same period.

The conservative opposition see the solution elsewhere. Christian Jacob, head of the UMP’s parliamentary group, called on the government to lower corporate taxes so companies can create jobs. Still, others are choosing flight over fight.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germans Hording Mountains of Gold

Like Scrooge McDuck or the dragon Smaug in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Germans are gathering vast quantities of gold — a study showed that the average German owns close to €6,000 worth of the shiny metal.

Even though Europe’s largest economy has weathered the world economic crisis relatively well, Germans have still been extra jittery about their savings, a study by the Steinbeis Research Center for Financial Services in Berlin revealed.

Around 32 percent of the gold owned in Germany in the form of bars and coins was accumulated since the financial and economic crises began, the study concluded.

Commissioned by precious metal trading group Heraeus, the study also found that people with surplus cash are becoming gold-greedier. The number of Germans with a net monthly income over €4,000 who say they intend to invest in gold has doubled in the current year.

On average, every German owns around 117 grammes of gold, comprising 55 grammes of jewellery and 62 grammes of bars and coins, the study, which surveyed 2,000 people, found. Taken together with gold securities, the average German owns some €5,750 of gold.

Including the German federal bank’s gold holdings, that means the Germans have gathered seven percent of the world’s gold.

Gold is considered a safe investment in times of economic stress because the precious metal is thought to keep its value over a long period, can be collected and kept safe personally, and can be traded easily.

Some 69 percent of Germans have invested in gold, and roughly half of these keep at least some the metal in their homes. Around 47 percent keep their gold in a private locker in a bank. Around nine percent, meanwhile, keep some of their precious metals with a specialized gold trader.

Rich people are more likely to invest in gold bars, while those on lower incomes are more likely to buy gold coins.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece Completes Buyback, Looks to Next Loan Tranche

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 12 — Greece completed its bond buyback program on Tuesday, accepting tenders for 31.8 billion euros’ worth of government paper and clearing the way for the disbursement of the country’s next, long-awaited bailout tranche. The extended deadline for bondholders to take part expired at 2 p.m. Greek time, by when the target had been met, largely due to an added contribution from local banks. However, several unresolved issues remain as daily Kathimerini reports.

Greece is borrowing 10 billion euros to execute the buyback, with the aim of reducing its public debt by 21.1 billion euros.

The average offer to buy back the bonds 33.8% of the principal amount, which means that Greece needs to spend 11.2 billion euros in total. It is not clear where the extra 1.2 billion euros will come from. Greece’s lenders had estimated that the country’s debt would be reduced by 11% but in fact the difference will be less than 10%, so eurozone finance ministers discussed during a teleconference on Tuesday night how to reduce it from 126.6% of GDP to 124%, which the International Monetary Fund had set as a benchmark in order to continue participating in the Greek program. The issue will be discussed further at Thursday’s Eurogroup meeting in Bruxelles. There was no official statement as Athens is expected to make an official announcement about the scheme on Wednesday morning, but a European official told Bloomberg that eurozone finance ministers concluded there were no insurmountable obstacles to the next loan installment, which is worth 34.4 billion euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy’s Attractions Resistant to Economic, Financial Crisis

Tourists spending more in Italy, according to central bank

(ANSA) — Rome, December 12 — ANSA) — Rome, December 12 — Italy’s charms appear somewhat resistant to the economic and financial crisis, as international tourists spent almost 3% more in the country this year, the Bank of Italy said Wednesday.

Worldwide economic woes put a damper on the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Italy, which fell by 1.6%, or about 543,000 fewer arrivals in 2012, the central bank said in a new report.

And overnight stays also fell by 1.8%, or about 2.4 million visitors. However, those who came to Italy certainly spent, as the tourism sector recorded a 2.9% increase in revenues — about 22.556 million euros. These findings are in line with the results of year-end monitoring by national tourism agency ENIT, which also reported that Italy is attracting more and more Russian, American, and Japanese tourists. Bookings from the United States are expected to increase by 5% to 15% Interest in Italy is also very high among Brazilians, the ENIT survey found.

Tour operators are optimistic for a healthy Christmas, reporting rising booking for the holidays in Rome, Venice and Florence.

Other prime vacation spots include northern Italy’s mountain areas, favoured by Germans in particular, and other European visitors.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Save Your Tears for the Unemployed

Oregon, like so many other states have had college- educated certifiable nincompoops in the Treasure’s Office managing the unsustainable Public Employment Retirement System (PERS) and so long as the economy was good and revenues aplenty, no one recognized PERS as a Ponzi scheme where the first in get the most and the last in get the shaft. At least 48 of the 50 states are running shortfalls, many of them staggering and cities, counties and states are also on the hook for pension promises. Although many states like Oregon are still trying to keep the balls in the air with federal grants, lottery receipts and lawsuits against corporations, it is beginning to unravel.

A 11/18/2012 newspaper reported the State of Oregon was going to get $4 million in some drug settlement. 12/8/2012 Article: A $20 million Race to the Top grant will help parents better determine the quality of preschool and childcare programs while offering providers a pathway to improve. Oregon has no sales tax or that would be raised like the neighboring states of California or Washington. Things are so bad in California, they are flying to Oregon all the dogs and cats scheduled to be euthanized because people can no longer take care of them…

In 1945, the Senate approved the U.N. Charter that paved the way for Congress to enact the Administrative Procedure Act in 1946 (Public Law 79-404) that put the lawmaking bureaucracy into business. When a state receives federal assistance, it yields that portion of federally-funded state activity to Federal rules and regulations, the very Federal control we distrust initially. As Administrative State grows, so grows injustice. So we traded our birthright of state sovereignty for a mess of Potomac pottage and now we are facing the music, our economy and our money system collapsing.

The communists didn’t need some psychobabbler to tell them about the weaknesses in human nature so they made their move to cause class warfare: the rich — vs- poor, government workers — vs- private sector, relatives, family, divorces, neighbors infighting and disagreements. “The love of money is the root of all evil.” These distractions keep us from watching the foxes in charge of the chicken house. A July 14, 1934 article in our OREGONIAN had a headline “Police Head Off Invasion by Reds.” This was during the FDR era when he was stacking our federal government with communists. Today it is the radical Islamists in bed with the communists. Eternal vigilance was the price of liberty and as my generation became more affluent and participated in pleasure more than righteousness, we forgot to remain vigilant…

Big divisions began in the 60s when we no longer required immigrants to assimilate and learn English as they’d done previously. I was in Woodburn, Oregon when that community was inundated with Mexicans and Russians and we began to hear the word “multiculturalism.” With a first-year $100,000 government bribe, the public school accommodated and was responsible for the first bilingual curriculum. The second year they received $80,000, then $60,000 and so on for five years and then the money had to be raised by the district thereafter but by then the program was ensconced. Now some school districts like in California have to offer hundreds of different languages.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sorry Protesters, Your Jobs Are Being Sent to China and They Aren’t Coming Back

Did you see the huge crowds of protesters that flooded the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday? They were there to protest two bills there were being considered by the state legislature that would limit the power of unions in the state. Michigan lawmakers approved the bills and this absolutely infuriated the protesters. There is a lot of passion on both sides of this debate, but I am afraid that both sides in this debate are missing the bigger picture. If we keep shipping millions of our jobs to China, there isn’t going to be work for anyone no matter how much power unions have or don’t have. During the month of October, the U.S. trade deficit increased to 42.2 billion dollars. Our trade with China accounted for most of that deficit. Our trade deficit with China in October increased to a new all-time one month record of 29.5 billion dollars. Nearly 30 billion dollars that could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers went to China instead.

Since 1975, a total of about 8 trillion dollars that could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers went to the rest of the world instead. Shiny new factories are going up all over China, and meanwhile our once great manufacturing cities are degenerating into desolate wastelands. So what is going to happen when all of the good paying manufacturing jobs are gone? Are we all going to fight bitterly over whether we should unionize the low paying jobs that remain at places such as Wal-Mart and McDonalds? Such an approach is not going to bring back prosperity to America. We desperately need to start building things and start creating real wealth inside this country once again. We desperately need to stop sending tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth out of the country. Unfortunately, I don’t see anyone out there holding protests about our trade deficit. Nobody really seems to care, so our economy will continue to bleed good jobs and the middle class will continue to be destroyed…

Michigan already has the highest rate of union membership in the Midwest.

It also has the highest rate of unemployment in the Midwest.

Over the past couple of decades, thousands of businesses in Michigan have either closed down or moved facilities overseas.

Did the unions prevent any of that?


If union bosses really wanted to do some good, they would be organizing protests against our incredibly foolish trade policies.


Merging our economy with the economy of communist China was one of the stupidest economic moves that we could have ever made. They are systematically taking our wealth, and then we have to go over there and beg them to lend money back to us.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

World’s Most Prestigious Financial Agency — Called the “Central Banks’ Central Bank” — Warns of Bursting Bubble

According to the BIS’ latest Quarterly Review financial markets are starting to behave in some of the ways they behaved before the crash. In particular, investors seem to be chasing riskier and riskier assets, despite the fact that the economic prospects are hardly all that great.

Here is the key passage from the BIS report: “Some asset prices started to appear highly valued in historical terms relative to indicators of their riskiness. For example, global high-yield corporate bond spreads fell to levels comparable to those of late 2007, but with the default rate on these bonds running at around 3%, whereas it was closer to 1% in late 2007.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Mich Dem. Whitmer Shows Unions & Obama More Important Than Her State

Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, the State’s Senate Democratic Leader, is now pleading for President Obama to trample on Michigan’s state sovereignty and control the state from Washington DC. This is an odd request for someone that thinks she should be Michigan’s next Governor.

During most of American history, state politicians have been keen to safeguard their own power in their state. We even fought a whole civil war in part over the idea of states’ rights, after all. Oh, but not Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer. No, for Whitmer, allowing unions and President Obama to control Michigan is far more important than allowing the people of Michigan and their representatives to control the state.

Whitmer, you see, is trying to get President Obama to withhold federal funds from Michigan merely because Republicans and worker’s rights advocates have succeeded in passing right-to-work-style legislation in the current lame-duck session.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

New York Public School Displays Obama Mural

Port Washington, New York is one the most liberal areas in the country. And high school students at the local Paul Schreiber High School are being subjected to left-wing propaganda: as they walk through one of the main corridors, they see a giant mural of President Obama’s face.

Conservative students believe the mural has created tension, and an uneasy learning environment. A group of Schreiber students, led by sophomore Jacob Bloch, have begun to take a stand against the mural.

“There is no denying that the Republican minority of students feels intimidation while walking down Schreiber hallways.” Jacob said in an email interview. “We feel, quite frankly, that we are in a hostile environment in Schreiber, politically speaking. We do not see a free learning environment, where students can develop their own political ideas. What we do see, are students walking down the hallways, and seeing liberal ideas as right, and conservative ideas as wrong.”

[Comment: Imagine the reaction of media if it was a mural of Bush. Over time, schools have gone from banning the 10 commandments from being displayed to the cult of “dear leader” worship.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Finds a Treaty His Base Doesn’t Like

The Obama Administration may be pro-United Nations in its general approach to foreign policy, but on the matter of illegal drugs, we may be seeing a retreat from global drug control. It is a major story that is starting to get some attention from a key component of Barack Obama’s political base — potheads. They fear that Obama may stay committed to various U.N. drug control treaties.

If Obama backs away from global drug control, in violation of these U.N. treaties, legalization of marijuana and other drugs could be an inevitable consequence on a national and international basis.

Obama, as The New York Times reports, is in a tight spot. Federal legal action against Colorado and Washington because of voter-approved initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in those states “would raise political complications for President Obama because marijuana legalization is popular among liberal Democrats who just turned out to re-elect him,” the paper notes. Drug legalization is also popular with hedge fund billionaire George Soros, one of the main funders of the pro-marijuana movement who also financed various Super PACs that worked for Obama’s reelection.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sheryl Sandberg Offloads $41.5m in Facebook Shares in Just 6 Weeks

Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer has divested herself of MORE Facebook shares, ditching just under a million on Friday and netting a cool $26.2m. A little something for Christmas, perhaps?

It bumps up the total cash haul Sandberg has made from Facebook shares to $41.5m. That’s all since the end of October when the directors’ share lockup expired and she was allowed to start selling them.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Stop 2012 Fraud or Forget About Elections

If the American people don’t stand up and stop the unparalleled fraud that decided the 2012 election before it was even held, they can totally forget about any future elections. Unless the American people muster the courage to stop this electoral theft of our nation, the people can forget about future elections as any means to solve anything.

Stop the 2012 Fraud

Before states can legally certify the results of an election, they must be confident that the election process itself was not compromised in any way. It is not possible for any state to have such confidence in the face of blatant and massive election fraud.

Before the Electoral College can cast its ballot for president and vice president on December 17th, they must first certify that ballot, an act they cannot legally do if they have any evidence that the election results and ballot are tainted by fraud.

The simple math tells the story.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘There Will be Blood’ — Union Violence in the Age of Obama

This week, menacing union goons unleashed threats, profanity and punches in Michigan, which is now poised to become a “right-to-work” state. Obama met the initial outbreak of violence with the same response he’s given to every other union outbreak of violence under his reign: dead silence.

On the floor of the Michigan legislature on Tuesday, Democratic state Rep. Douglas Geiss thundered: “We’re going to pass something that will undo 100 years of labor relations, and there will be blood. There will be repercussions!” Geiss referenced the Battle of the Overpass, a violent 1937 incident between the United Auto Workers and corporate security officers for the Ford Motor Company. Dozens of union activists were beaten.

But Geiss wasn’t crying victim. This was clearly a signal to the brass-knuckled Big Labor bosses, whom Obama egged on during his Monday visit to the state. Obama inveighed against right to work with his usual class warfare dog-whistle. The thugs heard it loud and clear.

As the Michigan House voted inside to approve right-to-work legislation allowing workers to choose whether or not to join/fund unions as a condition of employment, protesters outside the state Capitol ambushed a tented information booth sponsored by the pro-right-to-work state chapter of Americans for Prosperity. Angry union mobsters were filmed cursing and screaming just before the attack…

Of course, this is just more of the same twisted “civil and honest public discourse” of the administration’s union protection squad: [long list follows]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Verizon Files Patent for Cable Box That Watches You as You Watch Television

Another reason not to own a TV, via Yahoo! News:

A Verizon patent idea envisions spying on TV viewers for the sake of serving up related ads. For instance, a couple snuggling in front of the TV could end up getting bombarded by commercials for romantic vacations, flowers or even birth control. The system could also detect a person’s mood or identify objects such as pets, soft drink cans or a bag of chips in a person’s hand, and room decorations or furniture.

Such a patent idea would turn TV set-top boxes into spy boxes with sensors for both seeing and hearing the activity in front of the TV. Many TV viewers already own such set-top boxes to access pay-per-view services, digital video recordings and Internet streaming.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Art of Cheese-Making is 7,500 Years Old

Neolithic pottery fragments from Europe reveal traces of milk fats.

Traces of dairy fat in ancient ceramic fragments suggest that people have been making cheese in Europe for up to 7,500 years. In the tough days before refrigerators, early dairy farmers probably devised cheese-making as a way to preserve, and get the best use out of, milk from the cattle that they had begun to herd.

Peter Bogucki, an archaeologist at Princeton University in New Jersey, was in the 1980s among the first to suspect that cheese-making might have been afoot in Europe as early as 5,500 bc. He noticed that archaeologists working at ancient cattle-rearing sites in what is now Poland had found pieces of ceramic vessels riddled with holes, reminiscent of cheese strainers. Bogucki reasoned that Neolithic farmers had found a way to use their herds for more than milk or meat1.

In a paper published in Nature2, Bogucki and his collaborators now confirm that theory, with biochemical proof that the strainers were used to separate dairy fats. Mélanie Salque, a chemist at the University of Bristol, UK, used gas chromatography and carbon-isotope ratios to analyse molecules preserved in the pores of the ancient clay, and confirmed that they came from milk fats. “This research provides the smoking gun that cheese manufacture was practiced by Neolithic people 7,000 years ago,” says Bogucki.

Dairy culture

“This is the first and only evidence of (Neolithic) cheese-making in the archaeological record,” says Richard Evershed, a chemist at Bristol and a co-author of the paper. The finding, he adds, is not only an indication that humans had by that time learned to use sophisticated technology, but is also evidence that they had begun to develop a complex relationship with animals that went beyond hunting. “It’s building a picture for me, as a European, of where we came from: the origins of our culture and cuisines,” he says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Ayrault Slams Tax Exiles After Depardieu Move

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Tuesday denounced wealthy individuals in France fleeing a stinging tax on high incomes as greedy people seeking to “become even richer.”

Ayrault’s comments came after the country’s leading actor, Gérard Depardieu, took up residence in a tiny village just over the border in Belgium which is a favoured spot for wealthy French nationals avoiding tax.

“Those who are seeking exile abroad are not those who are scared of becoming poor,” he told reporters after announcing sweeping anti-poverty measures to help those hit by the economic crisis.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: World’s Biggest Cargo Ship Docks in Hamburg

The biggest cargo ship in the world pulled into Hamburg harbour for the first time on Wednesday morning to unload 4,000 containers, signalling the beginning of regular visits for the giant vessel.

Stretching 396 metres long, the “CMA CGM Marco Polo”, arrived at 3:45 am in the northern German city to. Despite sub-zero temperatures, a die-hard group of onlookers, regional paper the Hamburger Morgenpost reported.

Although loaded with thousands of containers, the ship was not full. If it were, it would skim the bottom of the city’s harbour. But if the hotly debated deepening of the Elbe River goes ahead, the Marco Polo would be able to arrive in Hamburg bearing all 16,020 containers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Holy Cow! First Cheesemakers Date Back 7,500 Years

The first direct signs of cheesemaking now seen in potsherds from Poland may help reveal how animal milk dramatically shaped the genetics of Europe, scientists reported today (Dec. 12).

Although cheese may just seem to be a topping on pizza or a companion to wine, it may have shaped the evolution of Europeans, researchers say. Cheese evolved after the development of dairy farming, which helped people take advantage of animal milk, a highly nutritious food one can sustainably procure.

Most of the world, including the ancestors of modern Europeans, is lactose intolerant, unable to digest the milk sugar lactose as adults. However, while cheese is a dairy product, it is relatively low in lactose.

“The transformation of milk to a more tolerable product such as cheese for lactose-intolerant people may have helped promote the development of dairying among the first farmers of Europe,” researcher Peter Bogucki, an archaeologist at Princeton University, told LiveScience.

In turn, the presence of dairying over many generations may have helped set the stage “for a biological change in Europeans, the evolution about 7,500 years ago in Europe of lactase persistence — that is, keeping the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose, well into adulthood,” researcher Richard Evershed, a chemist at the University of Bristol in England, told LiveScience. “This changed Western digestive capabilities.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Human Rights Farce After Euro Judges Award £6,000 Payout to Victim of Playground Fight Over a Football in Croatia Ten Years Ago

It was intended to prevent major abuses of human rights such as torture and extra-judicial killing.

But yesterday the European Court of Human Rights was ridiculed when it ruled — on a playground fight over a football.

The incident involved a thirteen-year-old boy from Croatia who got into a row with another boy nearly a decade ago over who was the rightful owner of the ball.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

In Marseille, Those Who Slit the Throat of a French Lawyer Are Picked Up

The suspects are those you — and all of the French commenters on the story, that appeared in here — suspected. A father in his 50s, and his two sons, who slit the throat of a French woman in her 60s. Signs of the times, in Muslim-filled and crime-ridden Marseille, where the writ of the government hardly runs..

Read not only the story, but the many comments below.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Islamist Extremist Suspected After Bomb Found at Bonn Rail Station

By Paul Cruickshank

German authorities suspect Islamist extremists were responsible for planting an explosive device Monday beside a track at the main railway station in Bonn, a German intelligence official tells CNN.

The explosives were found after a 14-year-old reported the bag to police, according to the official, who said the device was “not sophisticated” in design.

The official said whoever left the bag remains at large. Initially, German police arrested two Bonn residents soon after recovering the explosive components, the official said. The official identified them as Omar D., who’s long been on German security services’ radar because of his alleged links to Islamist extremists, and Abdifatah W.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Says “I Am a Premier Candidate”

(ANSAmed) — Rome, December 12 — Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday that “in this moment I am a premier candidate”, speaking at a presentation of a book by journalist and TV presenter Bruno Vespa in Rome.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: PDL’s Berlusconi Signals LNP Agreement Over Leadership

(AGI) — Rome, Dec. 12 — Attending a book launch on Wednesday, PDL founder and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi submitted that former LNP party government allies “have enthusiastically suggested that I lead the coalition.” The former PM went on to clarify that his party is “currently negotiating [LNP secretary] Maroni’s candidacy in Lombardy.” .

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

Monti is Better Than His Predecessor, Says Schaeuble

(AGI) — Brussels, Dec. 12 — German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, arriving at the European Council for the Ecofin meeting, said that “Italy has made good progress, which we had not seen with his predecessor.” He added that “Italy is a great country and its government has done well, but now there will be new elections. As a government we do not comment on a country’s domestic affairs, but everybody is aware of the fact that Italy has made great progress under Monti.” .

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

Paris Celebrates Notre Dame’s 850th Anniversary

Dignitaries, tourists and Parisians gathered in their thousands on Wednesday for a ceremony and Mass that mark the beginning of a year-long commemoration of Paris’s iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, whose construction was completed 850 years ago.

Quasimodo only had eyes for Esmerelda but the famous hunchback’s fellow Parisians have always had another special lady in their lives.

Notre Dame (Our Lady), the iconic cathedral at the heart of the French capital, will on Wednesday launch a year of celebrations to mark the 850th anniversary of its founding.

Like a true Parisienne, age has not withered her. Eight and a half tumultuous centuries have left one of the jewels of Gothic architecture with barely a wrinkle, but plenty of stories to tell.

A 12th century crusade was launched from here. An English monarch, Henry VI, was crowned King of France in 1431. Nearly 500 years later, it was in this building that Joan of Arc was declared a saint.

In 1548, rioting Huguenots extensively damaged some of the edifice’s finest features.

Two and a half centuries later, at the height of the French Revolution’s anti-clerical frenzy, the church suffered further vandalism and narrowly escaped complete destruction, its utility as a warehouse for food effectively saving it for generations to come.

Yet only a few years later, in 1804, Pope Pius VII was officiating as Napoleon and Josephine were installed as Emperor and Empress.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tight Squeeze in Hamburg World’s Largest Container Ship Visits Germany

In a highly symbolic visit, the world’s largest container ship docked on Wednesday in Hamburg, Germany’s premier port city. Fully loaded, the Marco Polo would be unable to enter Hamburg’s harbor and the vessel’s arrival has highlighted disputed plans to prepare the city for the next generation of mega-ships.

The 115-kilometer (71-mile) stretch of the Elbe River between the North Sea and Europe’s second largest port in Hamburg is one of the most important waterways in Germany. It has ensured the prosperity of the Hanseatic trading city for hundreds of years and secured an important role for Hamburg in a globalized world.

Few images could illustrate that position along with the challenges it presents as well as the arrival early Wednesday morning of the world’s largest container ship, the CMA CGM Marco Polo. Numerous spectators lined the shores to get a glimpse of the mighty ship.

At 396 meters (1,300 feet) long and 54 meters wide, the Marco Polo is larger than a US Navy aircraft carrier and is capable of carrying 16,000 standard container units, or TEUs. During this trip, however, the ship only planned to carry 4,000 containers — otherwise the Marco Polo would have been unable to navigate the waters of the Elbe, which are too shallow for the latest generation of super container ships.

Officials at the port took advantage of the ship’s arrival to do a bit of PR on behalf of controversial plans to dredge and deepen the Elbe River to make it navigable for future mega container ships. Before the ship arrived, a spokeswoman for Hafen Hamburg Marketing, an agency affiliated with the port, noted that a ship of this size could only enter the port of Hamburg at full capacity if the river were dredged. Even today, a good number of the larger ships that make their way to Hamburg can only navigate the Elbe River during high tide. Without tidal assistance, ships with a maximum draught of 12.8 meters can enter the port, but today’s largest ships now have a maximum depth of 15.5 meters. Once dredging is complete, the port would like to enable ships with a depth of up to 13.5 meters to be able to enter, regardless of tides.

The port is not alone in its complaint about the depth and girth of the Elbe, which hasn’t been dredged since 1999. Logistics giant China Shipping recently warned that Hamburg could lose its competitiveness as a port if the city doesn’t move ahead with plans to dredge the river. Already, the company warned, shipping firms with larger vessels were instead choosing to dock in other European ports, like Rotterdam in the neighboring Netherlands, which is capable of accommodating the new generation of massive vessels.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Dangerous’ Arsonist Serving Life Sentence Who Was Sent to an Open Prison Tried to Torch Man’s Flat While on Day Release

An arsonist tried to burn down a man’s flat after being allowed out of his open prison for a community work placement, a court heard

Edward Macdonald, 46, went on the run after being given day release for a community work placement at the Ransomes Europark industrial estate on June 28.

Norwich Crown Court heard how he failed to return to Hollesley Bay open prison, Suffolk, having been deemed ‘minimal risk’ by the prison authorities.

After three months on the run, Macdonald, who was sentenced to life for arson in 1996, tried to burn down a shop and the occupied flat above it in Great Yarmouth.

The court heard how he set light to cardboard near a dustbin outside the Crown Stores convenience store in the seaside town just before 9pm on September 16.

A man in his 60s was in his flat above the store, but managed to escape injury as flames licked around the windows of his flat, his front door and the shopfront.

Firefighters were said to particularly concerned as there was a gas pipe near to where the fire began.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Judge Credits Knife-Wielding Thug for ‘Taking Care Not to Inflict Life Threatening Injuries’ On Victim He Stabbed Five Times

A judge has credited a knife-wielding thug for ‘taking care not to inflict life threatening injuries’ when he stabbed his victim five times in a nightclub attack.

Hoopang Wong, 25, who has two previous convictions for possessing a knife, stabbed Karlos Fredericks three times in his right thigh, once in his left thigh and once in his left armpit.

Recorder Michael Hunter, sitting at Kingston Crown Court, sentenced Wong to seven years in jail for wounding with intent.

He told him he would be ‘failing to protect the public’ if he did not pass a substantial custodial sentence, but gave him credit for using the knife in the way he did.

He said: ‘I take into account four of the wounds and two of the deep wounds were deliberately made by you on the legs.

‘I am therefore giving you credit for the fact that when you used the knife the way you did you were taking care not to inflict life threatening injuries, although I am aware that such injuries can cause death.

‘I can only hope that when you are released from prison you will use your potential and never return to prison again.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Murdered for Reporting Her Rape: TV Documentary Reveals Harrowing Diaries of Nurse Who Was Killed by Her Ex-Boyfriend While He Was on Bail

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

The final months of a mother who predicted her own murder at the hands of a violent ex-boyfriend have been documented in a television series that airs tonight.

Jane Clough, 26, warned police that 31-year-old Jonathan Vass would take revenge on her after she reported him for repeatedly raping her — including while she was pregnant with their baby, and later in front of their daughter.

The nurse from Blackpool was stabbed 71 times by Vass, an ambulance technician who was on bail at the time, as she walked through the car park of the Blackpool Victoria Hospital during a night shift on 25 July 2010…

He told Jane he was getting divorced from his wife, Joanne, with whom he had two young children. In fact, Vass and his wife were still together.

After Vass moved in with Jane at her house in Barrowford, Lancashire, in 2008, he led a sinister and duplicitous double life…

But the following month Vass’s defence team made an application at Preston Crown Court for him to be granted bail and, to everyone’s astonishment, Judge Simon Newell agreed to grant it.

‘When we got the call from the police, we all burst into tears,’ said Penny. ‘We just hadn’t thought that would happen, it didn’t seem like even the remotest possibility.

The Crown Prosecution Service had told Judge Newell that there was an extreme likelihood Vass would interfere with the witness, Jane, but he ignored their advice.


After Jane’s murder, her daughter was made a Ward of Court. For legal reasons details of who is now caring for her cannot be divulged.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: The M6 Toxic Fireball: Police Set Up Half-Mile Exclusion Zone After Chemical Tanker Explodes and Ten People — Including Eight Firefighters — Are Left Needing Treatment

Terrified drivers fled their cars on the M6 motorway this morning when a chemical tanker exploded in a 50ft fireball, leaving eight firefighters and two drivers needing treatment for exposure to toxic fumes.

The driver of the lorry, which was carrying hydrochloride and paper, was among those who received medical treatment.

The HGV had a tyre blow-out on the northbound carriageway near Coventry, between Junction 3 for Nuneaton and Junction 3a for Coleshill South.

The driver had apparently managed to pull over on to the hard shoulder but sparks started a fire, which ignited the hazardous chemicals on board.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Clare Lopez: People Do Vote for Tyranny

As the world watches and waits for the Egyptian people to vote in a nationwide referendum to be held December 15 on a new constitution drafted largely by the Muslim Brotherhood, it would be well to consider another constitutional referendum from 33 years ago when another people who’d just been through a revolution went to the polls and cast their votes firmly in favor of tyranny.

On October 24, 1979, after a tumultuous year of revolution, the Iranian people turned out by the millions and voted overwhelmingly (over 98%) to approve a new constitution that subjugated the country to the rule of Islamic Law under the leadership of a single man — the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — an Islamic cleric with unlimited power.

The vote was no snap response, as the full text of the new Iranian constitution had been published for the electorate’s consideration more than four months earlier (from June, 1979). More than 15 million Iranian voters willingly chose to subordinate themselves, their children and their country to an Islamic theocratic dictatorship, whose provisions were spelled out to them and accepted by them in an explicitly worded constitutional document that described the totalitarian system of Velayat-e Faqih (Rule of the Jurisprudent) and dedicated the nation to jihad.

Further, the preamble to the constitution made clear that the Iranian revolution was not intended to stop at the country’s borders but rather would strive for the formation of a “single world community” (ummah) in accordance with the “universal values of Islam,” thus committing Iran and its military forces to open-ended aggression and warfare (which followed soon enough).

While the draft Egyptian constitution contains no such institution as a Supreme Leader or Velayat-e Faqih, it does state in Article 2 that “Principles of Islamic Sharia are the principal source of legislation,” thus ensuring that genuine liberal democracy (in which the people and their representatives craft laws free of theological constraints) will have no chance in the new Egypt.

Also, as both Andrew McCarthy (here) and Barry Rubin (here) point out, the new constitution makes clear that implementation of sharia will be far stricter under the Muslim Brotherhood than it ever was under Mubarak: Article 219 defines the “principles of Islamic Sharia” to be bound by “sources accepted in Sunni doctrines and by the larger community,” which means the four classical schools of Sunni jurisprudence and the Islamic institution of scholarly consensus (ijma). The Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi’i schools hold that the principles of Islamic Law were fixed many centuries ago and have remained immutable ever since.

So, despite a cursory nod in the direction of individual “rights and freedoms” (Article 81), the very next words of the Egyptian draft document, stipulating that such rights and freedoms “shall be practiced in a manner not conflicting with the principles pertaining to State and society included in Part I of this Constitution,” make clear that means Egyptians get whatever “human rights” are allowed under sharia (see below).

Just like the 1990 Cairo Declaration of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which exempted all Muslim countries from compliance with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and declared that under Islam, human rights means sharia and only sharia…

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa[Return to headlines]

‘Insulting Religion’: Blasphemy Sentence in Egypt Sends a Chill

Blasphemy cases are on the rise in Egypt. Passage of the draft constitution, with a clause prohibiting insulting prophets, could result in more decisions like today’s sentence.

An Egyptian court sentenced Alber Saber to three years in jail today for insulting religion. Such blasphemy prosecution cases, on the rise since the revolution and almost uniformly criticized by civil rights activists in Egypt, may only increase if the draft constitution is approved this week.

Such cases are currently brought under laws that prohibit insulting religion. There is no such blasphemy clause in the previous constitution, but the new charter, which will be put to a vote Dec. 15, includes a clause that prohibits insulting “prophets” — which would strengthen blasphemy cases, and make overturning such convictions on appeal much harder. Lawyers have previously successfully overturned blasphemy convictions by arguing they were unconstitutional.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Morsi Takes Control of Egypt’s Central Bank

The president will now be able to appoint the bank’s governor and deputy governors unilaterally, without consulting the cabinet. Meanwhile, protesters in Tahrir Square are attacked by unknown assailants resulting in nine people injured. Fear grows as Cairo witnesses two mass demonstrations.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Taking advantage of the chaos connected with the upcoming constitutional referendum, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi took control of Egypt’s central bank. In a single act, he reduced the number of members of the bank’s governing board from 14 to six. At the same time, he has unilaterally assumed the power to appoint the bank’s governor and its two deputy governors. Meanwhile, about 100 protesters broke through the barricade set up around the presidential palace, but were pushed back by soldiers.

The new board of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) will include only nine members: governor, deputy governors, the president of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority, a representative of the minister of finance and four experts in monetary, financial, banking, legal or economic affairs chosen by Egypt’s president.

The president’s action violates the current law of 2003, which restricted the government’s power over the CBE.

The changes have already been partly approved by the cabinet. And in the absence of a parliament, they should come into effect in the coming days.

The new decree is the result of the president’s temporary takeover of the country’s legislative, executive and judicial powers.

Meanwhile in Cairo, hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators are back in Tahrir Square near the presidential palace to protest against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, whom they accuse of trying to impose a Sharia-based constitution in the upcoming referendum, one that is not representative of Egyptian society. For their part, Islamists have organised rallies in support of the president.

Security forces are out in great numbers occupying Cairo’s sensitive spots. The military has been given the power to detain civilians without a warrant.

This morning a group of unknown assailants threw Molotov cocktails against activists who had camped out in Tahrir Square; nine were injured.

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

Middle East

Kurds May Secede by 2030, US Report

If Kurdish state arises, US National Intelligence Council

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, DECEMBER 11 — Turkey’s Kurdish regions might secede by 2030, should an independent Kurdish state arise in the Middle East, Hurriyet online daily quoted a US National Intelligence Council report as saying Tuesday.

A Kurdish state made out of Kurdish regions now divided between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria could be in the cards by 2030, according to one of several scenarios presented in the report. Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region-state, while in Syria, government forces have withdrawn from most of the Kurdish regions along the border with Turkey and Iraq.

In Turkish Kurdistan, an offensive by the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been ongoing since July. The PKK has been declared a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syrian Forces Have Fired Scud Missiles at Insurgents, U.S. Says

Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have fired Scud missiles at rebel fighters in recent days, Obama administration officials said on Wednesday.

The move represents a significant escalation in the fighting, which has already killed more than 40,000 civilians in a nearly two-year-old conflict that has threatened to destabilize the Middle East.

One American official, who asked not to be identified because he was discussing classified information, said that missiles had been fired from the Damascus area at targets in northern Syria.

“The total is number is probably north of six now,” said another American official, and that the targets were in areas controlled by the Free Syrian Army, the main armed insurgent group.

[Return to headlines]

Syrian Rebels Pledge Allegiance to Al-Qaeda Group That Killed U.S. Troops

Petition Demands Obama Stop Supporting Terrorists in Syria

A new petition posted on the ‘We The People’ section of the website demands that the Obama administration cease all funding and support for terrorists and extremist rebels in Syria, as news emerges of 29 different Syrian rebel groups pledging allegiance to the Al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front, a group responsible for killing U.S. troops in Iraq and one that is currently the primary fighting force in the NATO-backed bid to topple President Bashar Al-Assad.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US Recognizes Unelected Terrorists as Syrian “Representatives”

As expected, after a long pause of feigned “consideration,” the US has recognized the militants it has been arming, funding, aiding logistically and supporting diplomatically since as early as 2007, as the “legitimate representatives of the Syrian people,” with the added caveat, “in opposition to the Assad regime.” The Wall Street Journal would report that US President Barack Obama’s announcement actually read:

“The Syrian National Coalition for Revolutionary and Opposition Forces is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.”

The bizarre, uncertain wording sends a message of both uncertainty and resounding illegitimacy, indicating that the US itself recognizes the true nature of the so-called “Syrian” opposition is apparent to an increasing number of people both in public office and across the public, and that a certain degree of rhetorical distance must be kept.

The overt, extremist nature of the militants operating in Syria has become increasingly difficult for the West to paper over. Torrents of videos and confirmed reports documenting militant atrocities, including several involving the machine gunning of bound prisoners, and a particularly gruesome video of a child handed a sword by militants to hack off the heads of bound men wearing civilian clothing, has confirmed the worst fears expressed by geopolitical analysts and foreign governments around the world — that the Syrian opposition is in fact Al Qaeda.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Tsarist Treasures Set Record at Swiss Auction

Items linked to Russia’s imperial family, including four letters penned by Tsar Nicholas II, fetched 1.3 million francs on the auction block, a Geneva auction house says.

The missives were from the collection of Prince Nicholas Romanov, 90, a descendent of Russia’s imperial dynasty, and addressed to Romanov’s great uncle, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, the Hôtel des Ventes said on Tuesday.

They went for a record 120,000 francs — far beyond the estimate of between 9,000 and 14,000 francs. In total, items from the collection reached 1.3 million Swiss francs ($1.39 million).

The buyer of the letters, part of a collection including imperial photos and a military cap, was a Monaco-based Russian collector and history buff.

The letters are significant historical documents that portray Russia during World War I and also the tsar’s personal commitment to his army.

They also highlight ties between the tsar and the grand duke.

“It’s always satisfying to have a great auction result, but it’s an even bigger pleasure to know that these documents were acquired by one history buff,” Romanov said. “He’s Russian too — it’s overwhelming,”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Proposed Army Manual Tells G.I.s Not to Insult Taliban, Speak Up for Women

A proposed new handbook for Americans serving in Afghanistan warns them not to speak ill about the Taliban, advocate women’s rights or criticize pedophilia, and the general in charge is not happy with it.

The draft of the newest Army handbook seems to suggest that ignorance of Afghan culture is to blame for deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers against the coalition forces, according to The Wall Street Journal, which got a peek at the 75-page document. But its message of walking on eggshells around the locals is not going over well with U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the top military commander in Afghanistan.

“Gen. Allen did not author, nor does he intend to provide, a foreword,” said Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. “He does not approve of its contents.”

More than three dozen attacks by Afghan soldiers have claimed the lives of some 63 members of the U.S.-led coalition this year. The insider attacks could jeopardize plans to transfer full security control to Afghan forces in 2014.

[Return to headlines]

Far East

China to Overtake EU and US by 2030, US Intelligence Says

The era of American and European economic dominance has less than two decades left to run, according to a report by US intelligence services.

The study — Global Trends 2030, out on Monday (10 December) — predicts the Chinese economy will overtake the US at some point between 2022 and 2030.

It says the once dominant trio of the US, Europe and Japan will see their share of world trade fall from 56 percent to well below half in 2030.

It also notes that China and India are not the only rising Asian countries to tilt the balance of world power from west to east.

Another group — the so-called Next Eleven, comprising Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey, South Korea and Vietnam — is tipped to overtake the EU-27 in terms of collective GDP by 2030.

The report, by US National Intelligence Council (NIC), is timed to coincide with the start of President Barack Obama’s second term in the White House.

Its section on Europe offers a bleak view of the impact of the sovereign debt crisis.

“The eurozone crisis has laid bare the tensions and divisions between member states and, for the first time in decades, raised fundamental questions about Europe’s future,” it says, adding that the post-crisis Union “would not resemble today’s Europe.”

Its scenarios for the eurozone include the collapse of the euro and then the EU itself.

But it also sees the possibility of EU leaders making a “federalist push” leading to a European “renaissance.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Immigration is Female: 2.3 Million Women in Italy, I0M in Rome

Asset for the economy and essential for the integration

(By Cristiana Missori) (ANSAmed) — Rome — Women immigrants in Italy are today 2 million and 370,000 and are essential for the integration of their families and an asset for the country’s economy. This is why women should be at the centre of immigration policies, participants at a conference organized Wednesday in Rome by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said. The conference was on ‘The role of women migrants in cooperation, co-development and the reconstruction process of home countries’.

‘The phenomenon of the increasing number of women among migrants has never gone under 46% from the1960s to 2000 and today reaches 49% worldwide’, said Cristina Ravaglia, the director general of Italians abroad and migration policies of the Italian foreign ministry. Women integrate well and help others do so. ‘They are an element of stabilization in the country welcoming them’, said Ravaglia. And most of them work, according to data .. ‘The growth of immigrant employment rates has never stopped. Projections for 2020 show an increase of foreign workers in our country by 45%’, said the director general. Though the economic crisis has hit the entire European continent and Italy in particular, unemployment rates among foreigners are lower. ‘For men the rate is 5% while for women the percentage is even lower, 2%’, said Ravaglia, who stressed however that ‘more cooperation is needed with home countries’ on the employment front.

Politics will need to change its perspective and show more courage, said IOM director general ambassador William Lacy Swing. ‘We need to go from a concept of migration to one of mobility’, she said. ‘We must give migrants the opportunity to maintain a contact between their home countries and the nations welcoming them’. Immigrants should be supported more with policies including tax cuts on money sent back home, said Swing.

Finally, Riccardo Migliori, president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, called for ‘a new Mediterranean. In 10-15 years countries on its southern shores will be part of a something new, call it Upm or other’, he said.

‘We can’t do without it’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Over Half of Belgian Immigrants Not Registered for Work

More than half of Belgium’s non-EU immigrants are not registered to work, according to a report published Tuesday by the country’s national bank. The report found that 45% of immigrants were in work, the lowest in Europe, way below the 58% average. Immigrants make up 14% of the Belgian population.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

‘A Bigot in a Bra!’: A Male Writer Responds to Esther Walker’s ‘Toxic and Chauvinistic’ Admission That She Doesn’t Want to Give Birth to a Little Boy

This week, Esther Walker — wife of celebrity food critic Giles Coren — wrote a lacerating opinion piece about her casual sexism towards men and boys.

The article, which no doubt delighted the likes of Harriet Harman and Suzanne Moore, garnered more than 1,400 reader comments and sparked global offence (from both genders) after it poured vitriol on her unborn child for possibly being male.

‘I can only deal with one man in my life… and sometimes that’s one too many,’ she spewed, probably over some middle class macaroons or an elderflower torte.

‘I know very little about boys, but what I have seen I really haven’t liked. Boys are gross; they attack their siblings with sticks, are obsessed with toilets, casually murder local wildlife and turn into disgusting teenage boys and then boring, selfish men.’

She then said she would ‘die’ if her baby was born male, claimed that she was ‘deeply, deeply suspicious of little boys,’ before describing them as the ‘dreaded gender’.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call a bigot in a bra. And, in my opinion, she’s a disgrace…

Her opinions are a towering, crass example of misandry (the male equivalent of misogyny) which is so embedded in our societies, schools, music charts, television programmes and newspapers that it frequently goes unnoticed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘The View’ Schooled on Traditional Marriage

Suzanne Venker, a conservative pundit and author of the soon-to-be-published by WND Books “How to Choose a Husband” has taken her perspectives on men, women and marriage, which she sums up as “The War on Men,” to the women (and a male guest) of “The View” on ABC.

“We are teaching women that equality means sameness, if you are trying to be like a man, you’ll end up doing this. If we want lasting love, we should be allowed to have women act with femininity and men with masculinity. “…

Venker’s book, “How to Choose a Husband” will be published on Feb. 5, 2013.

The book details that it’s been 40 years since the sexual revolution, and the women of America have everything they want. Everything, that is, except a husband. Women may be schooled in the art of sex, but they have failed in the art of love.

The book explains that isn’t surprising. The modern generation is living in a culture that isn’t the least bit interested in helping them get hitched. For decades women have been taught to sleep around indiscriminately, to pursue an education and career at all costs, and to never depend on a man.

As a result, women delay marriage indefinitely or ignore it altogether — as though marriage has no bearing on their happiness. As though it were a nice idea, or nice accompaniment, to an otherwise satisfying life.

This is an unprecedented worldview. Until recently, women have always mapped out their lives according to what they considered their most important role: wife and mother. Today, women plan their entire futures around big careers. Husband and children come last.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Ancient Galaxy May be Most Distant Ever Seen

Astronomers have spotted seven galaxies that existed just a few hundred million years after the universe’s birth, including one that may be the oldest found to date.

The potential record-holding galaxy, known as UDFj-39546284, likely existed when the universe was just 380 million years old, researchers said, and may be the farthest galaxy ever seen. The other six distant galaxies all formed within 600 million years of the Big Bang, which created our universe 13.7 billion years ago.

UDFj-39546284 was detected previously, and researchers had thought it formed just 500 million years or so after the Big Bang. The new observations, made using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, push its probable formation time back even further.

The seven galaxies constitute the first reliable census of the epoch from 400 million to 600 million years after the universe’s birth, researchers said. This census detects a steady increase in galaxies over this period, suggesting that the formation of the first stars and galaxies — the so-called “cosmic dawn” — happened gradually rather than suddenly.

“The cosmic dawn was probably not a single, dramatic event,” study lead author Richard Ellis, of Caltech in Pasadena, told reporters today (Dec. 12).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Nile-Like River Spotted on Saturn Moon Titan

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured a crisp image of a long river cutting across Saturn’s huge moon Titan.

The hydrocarbon-filled river stretches more than 250 miles (400 kilometers) from its source to a large sea near frigid Titan’s north pole. Cassini’s radar image is the first high-resolution shot ever taken of such a vast river system on a world beyond Earth, researchers said, and scientists are comparing it to Earth’s Nile River in Egypt.

“Though there are some short, local meanders, the relative straightness of the river valley suggests it follows the trace of at least one fault, similar to other large rivers running into the southern margin of this same Titan sea,” Jani Radebaugh, a Cassini radar team associate at Brigham Young University, said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]