Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121231

Financial Crisis
»Executives at Collapsed Iceland Bank Jailed for Fraud
»Greece: Cash Payments Ceiling to Drop to 500 Euros
»The Values Economy
»Why We Are on the Brink of the Greatest Depression of All Time
»With a Sluggish Economy, Japan Waits for Abe’s Solutions
»Dianne Feinstein: “I Carried a Concealed Weapon”
»Media Ignores Shooting Stopped by Law-Abiding Gun Owner
»Nine-Months-Pregnant Daughter of Top Doctor and Her Occupy Wall Street Organizer Boyfriend Arrested After Police Find ‘A Bomb and Weapons’ In Their New York Apartment
»Obama to Put “Full Weight” Behind Feinstein Gun Confiscation Plan
»Russian News Outlet Pravda Prints Surprising Opinion Column Warning USA: ‘Never Give Up Your Guns’
»Sandy Hook: How Television Takes Your Guns
»‘These Guys Are Truly, Truly Animals’…
»Video: Dianne Feinstein Says Her Goal is to Disarm All Americans
»Woman Dies: Three Fall Ill Aboard Toronto-Bound Via Rail Train
Europe and the EU
»Austrian Prof: Global Warming Deniers Should be Sentenced to Death
»Belgian Jewish Girls School Forced to Admit Sons of Holocaust Denier
»Centre and Centre Left Polarize in Italian Election
»Church Minister Warns Witchcraft is Thriving — In Wales (Home to 83 Witches, 93 Satanists and the Site of an Exorcism)
»Dutch Ask Irish Government for Answers on Safety Standards at Ryanair
»French Paper Charlie Hebdo to Publish Comic Book Life of Mohammed
»French Magazine Charlie Hebdo to Publish Comic of Mohammed’s Life
»Germany: Language Trouble Behind Many Medical Mishaps
»Greece: Lagarde List: Parliamentary Inquiry for Ex Minister
»Italy: Transsexual Thrown From Balcony, Three Arrests Made
»Swiss Freeze Mubarak Sons’ Assets: Report
»UK: Cam ‘n Have a Go if EU Think You’re Hard Enough
»UK: Far-Right Vacuum Could Trigger ‘Lone-Wolf’ Attacks
»UK: Man Critically Ill in Hospital After ‘Trolley Rage Attack’ At M&S Breaking His Hip and Wrist
»UK: Pakistani Journalist Arrested in London
»UK: Police Launch Manhunt for ‘Terror Suspect’ Who Went Missing on Boxing Day… While Under Close Surveillance
»UK: Police Seek 15-Year-Old Over Murder of Teenager Who Was Stabbed in Front of His Brother After ‘Refusing to Give His Phone to Muggers’
»UK: Three-Quarters of Doctors Who Are Struck Off in Britain Are Trained Abroad
»UK: Taxpayers Are Handing Nearly £500,000 a Week in Legal Aid to Prisoners to Help Them Make Human Rights Claims.
»UK: Taxpayers Fork Out £150million a Year for ‘Benefit Brood’ Families With More Than Five Children
»UK: Wind Turbines ‘Last for Half as Long as Previously Thought’ As Study Shows They Show Signs of Wearing Out After Just 12 Years
North Africa
»Algeria: ANP Troops Kill Boumerdès Terrorist
»Egypt Still Under Blackout Due to Fuel Shortage
»Egyptian Atheist’s Jail Sentence Blow to Religious Freedom
»Libya: Obama Admits “Huge Problem” In Security of Benghazi Consulate
»Tunisia: Attounssia TV Chief Hospitalised After Hunger Strike
Israel and the Palestinians
»Fred Taub: the Israel Boycott and Bigotry
»On the Weaponizing of Lethal Narratives …
»PNA Condemns Israeli Order to Evacuate Palestinians From Jordan Valley
Middle East
»Al Qaeda Offers Reward for Killing US Ambassador in Yemen
»Al-Qaeda Offers $160k Bounty for Assassination of US Ambassador to Yemen and $23k for Killing American Soldiers
»At Least 13 Killed in Series of Attacks in Iraq
»Bishop Attacked in Lebanon’s Tripoli
»British Public Wants to ‘Keep Out of Syria’
»No Votes to be Had in Syria
»Russian Warships Head to the Syrian Port of Tartus
»Syria: ‘Facing 100,000 Deaths in Next Year’
»Muscovite, Making it — and Muslim
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Scrap Draft US Army Manual That Appeases Islamic Doctrine
»Afghanistan: The West Should ‘Change Its Approach to Failing States’
»Afghanistan: Local Government Reform ‘Success’ In Helmand
»Ordeal of Indian Gang Rape Victim in Her Own Words as She Lay Dying
»Sri Lanka: MP Adds Voice to Campaign Against Muslims
»Taliban Kill 21 Security Personnel Kidnapped by Them in NW Pakistan
Far East
»China Buying Tu-22M3 Production Line
»Philippines: Muslim Rebel Group Completes 8 Nominees to Transition Commission
Australia — Pacific
»Australia’s Grand Mufti Meets Hamas
»NZ: Spectacular Photo Captures Moment Great White is Gobbled by an Even Bigger Shark as It’s Hauled Into Fisherman’s Boat
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Kenya: 90 Kuria Girls Saved From FGM
»Nigeria: How We Averted Bomb Attacks at Christmas — Jonathan
»When Rwanda Won the UN Security Council Seat
»Muslim Immigration to Russia Increases Dramatically
Culture Wars
»UK: 60,000 Patients Put on Death Pathway Without Being Told But Minister Still Says Controversial End-of-Life Plan is ‘Fantastic’

Financial Crisis

Executives at Collapsed Iceland Bank Jailed for Fraud

Two former executives at an Icelandic bank which collapsed in the 2008 financial meltdown were sentenced to jail on Friday for fraud which led to a 53 million euro loss, in the first major trial of Icelandic bankers linked to the crisis.

All three of the small North Atlantic island’s top banks collapsed in quick succession in October 2008 due to big debts incurred during a rapid overseas expansion.

Glitnir was the first to fall after the collapse of Lehman Brothers caused international credit markets to freeze up.

A Reykjavik court sentenced Glitnir’s former chief executive, Larus Welding, and former head of corporate finance, Gudmundur Hjaltason, each to nine months in jail, of which six months were suspended for two years. They had denied the charges.

Prosecutors said the two approved a loan to a company which owned shares in Glitnir so that the company could in turn repay a debt to Morgan Stanley.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Greece: Cash Payments Ceiling to Drop to 500 Euros

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 31 — In Greece any transaction in excess of 500 euros will soon only be allowed via credit or debit card or by check, daily Kathimerini reports citing a plan by the Finance Ministry aimed at combating tax evasion. The ceiling for cash transactions is to be lowered from 1,500 euros today to 500 euros and could be reduced further over in the course of 2013. Ministry sources say that in the first quarter of the new year all companies and certain self-employed individuals will have to obtain the POS (point-of-sale) terminals that provide for card transactions. This forms part of the government’s plan to contain tax evasion and increase state revenues. Ministry officials stress that public revenues can only grow through beating tax evasion, as there can be no more cuts to expenditure except for procurements.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The Values Economy

There are two types of things that we put money into; the things that we need and the things that we don’t. The former represent our physical needs and the latter our spiritual needs. Food for the body and food for the mind. We need to eat, but we don’t need to see a movie. We need a house to live in, but we don’t need a house of worship. We need a car to get to work, but we don’t need a painting on our wall once we get there.

Culture isn’t a luxury, even the poorest of the poor have it. It doesn’t mean a night at the opera, it can just as easily mean sitting under a tree while the village elder explains where fire came from. But it is optional in the sense that we choose where to put our money or pine cones and those choices are our values economy.

The values economy consists of the culture you support. It’s the books you buy and the movies you see, it’s the paintings on your wall and the house of worship you attend. It’s the concerts and games you buy tickets to and it’s the colleges you attend. It’s all the intangible investments in the intangible things of aesthetics, faith and cultural knowledge.

In a healthy culture, these things mirror your values. In an unhealthy culture they do not. Not only do they not, but they don’t even mirror any stable set of values that can go the distance. Instead they’re a species of insanity, confused and convoluted bits of specialist jargon, perpetual revolutions against good taste, ideas without ideas and taboo hunters with no more taboos left to break.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Why We Are on the Brink of the Greatest Depression of All Time

Everywhere from to, I suddenly see commentators warning of pending doom, economic collapse, and a new Great Depression. Welcome to my club. Perhaps America’s politicians and economists should have paid attention to an entrepreneur and small businessman that has been warning of economic collapse and a new Great Depression publicly for over two years.

More importantly, none of the current commentaries mention the “why’s” of this slow motion economic collapse…beyond the obvious — mountains of deficit and debt. None of them mention the dysfunctional structure of the current U.S. economy and the massive changes in the work ethic and mindset of the average American.

[Return to headlines]

With a Sluggish Economy, Japan Waits for Abe’s Solutions

November economic data show greater deflation and slower industrial output. The new prime minister and his Economy minister slam the Bank of Japan for not doing enough against the crisis.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) — The economy remains the main challenge for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new, more hawkish administration. With industrial output falling in November, the world’s third largest economy will find itself in a dire situation, like that followed the Second World War, unless the government cuts public debt.

Last month, industrial production fell 1.7 per cent from the previous month, said the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (which are together in Japan, whilst the Finance Ministry was given to Taro Aso, a Catholic) with auto production, electronics and telecommunications contributing to the overall decline.

Automobile production in November dropped by 8.4 per cent from 838,128 a year earlier to 767,530 units, down for the third straight month, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) said on Thursday, as a result of lower domestic demand and exports.

New auto sales edged downward by 0.4 per cent in November from a year earlier to 393,942 units following the end of a government’s subsidy programme.

Auto exports in November decreased 13.5 per cent to 382,778 units against 442,672 a year earlier, down for the fourth consecutive month because of a strong yen.

Deflation is another problem. For Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan’s central bank, the Bank of Japan, has not been doing enough. Low demand for goods and services is reducing prices.

Like his minister, Mr Abe called on the central bank to print “unlimited” yen to help increase consumer prices. However, this could stoke inflation.

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


Dianne Feinstein: “I Carried a Concealed Weapon”

The hypocrisy of gun-grabbers knows no bounds

Despite calling in the same year for an outright ban on all firearms, Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is set to introduce legislation that would gut the second amendment, said in 1995 that she carried a concealed gun in order to protect herself against terrorists.

Speaking at a US Senate hearing on terrorism one week after the Oklahoma City Bombing, Feinstein spoke about how she responded to an attempt by terrorists from the New World Liberation Army to bomb her home.

“I know the sense of helplessness that people feel. I know the urge to arm yourself because that’s what I did. I was trained in firearms. I walked to the hospital when my husband was sick. I carried a concealed weapon and I made the determination if somebody was going to try and take me out, I was going to take them with me,” said Feinstein.

The hypocrisy of Feinstein choosing to arm herself in self-defense while in the very same year calling for an “outright ban” on all guns is another reminder of rampant hypocrisy on behalf of would-be gun grabbers that has prevailed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Media Ignores Shooting Stopped by Law-Abiding Gun Owner

On Sunday December 17, 2012, 2 days after the CT shooting, a man went to a restaurant in San Antonio to kill his ex-girlfriend. After he shot her, most of the people in the restaurant fled next door to a theater. The gunman followed them and entered the theater so he could shoot more people. He started shooting and people in the theater started running and screaming. It’s like the Aurora, CO theater story plus a restaurant!

Now aren’t you wondering why this isn’t a lead story in the national media along with the school shooting?

There was an off duty county deputy at the theater. SHE pulled out her gun and shot the man 4 times before he had a chance to kill anyone. So since this story makes the point that the best thing to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun, the media is treating it like it never happened.

Only the local media covered it. The city is giving her a medal next week. Just thought you’d like to know.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Nine-Months-Pregnant Daughter of Top Doctor and Her Occupy Wall Street Organizer Boyfriend Arrested After Police Find ‘A Bomb and Weapons’ In Their New York Apartment

The daughter of a prominent New York doctor and her Occupy Wall Street-organizer boyfriend were arrested after police discovered an explosive used for making bombs and a cache of weapons in their upscale New York City apartment, it was claimed.

Morgan Gliedman, 27, and Aaron Greene, 31, were taken away from their home in Manhattan’s pricey Greenwich Village on Saturday.

Gliedman, who is nine months pregnant, is the daughter of a top Brooklyn cancer doctor and was educated at the Dalton School, an exclusive New York prep school attended by the likes of Anderson Cooper and Claire Danes.

Greene went to Harvard University for his undergraduate degree and did graduate work at the Kennedy School of Government there, as well.

The New York Post reports that police found seven grams of HMTD, a high explosive powder that was reportedly used in the 2005 London Underground bombings.

Police evacuated the building and several others nearby as the bomb squad removed to highly-unstable material from the apartment.

Officers also found a flare gun that could be used as a grenade launcher, a modified Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun, nine high-capacity rifle magazines and ammunition, according to the Post.

Police confiscated several notebooks with instructions for making boobytraps and makeshift submachine guns and several sheets with handwritten chemical formulas.

Greene is an activist with Occupy Wall Street and friends told police his political views are ‘extreme,’ a source told the newspaper.

The NYPD told MailOnline they are investigating whether Gleidman has ties to the protest group, as well.

The NYPD allegedly found the dangerous material after they went to Gliedman and Greene’s apartment to question Gliedman, who was wanted for credit card theft, the Post reports.

Gleidman’s father is Dr Paul Gleidman, the Columbia University-educated director of radiation oncology at Beth Israel Hospital’s Brooklyn division.

Her mother is Susyn Schops Gliedman, a top New York real estate agent.

Morgan Gliedman grew up in an upscale apartment on Park Avenue.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Obama to Put “Full Weight” Behind Feinstein Gun Confiscation Plan

President Obama went on Meet the Press Sunday and said he will put his “full weight” behind passing new restrictions on the Second Amendment in 2013.

“I’m going to be putting forward a package and I’m going to be putting my full weight behind it,” he said. “I’m going to be making an argument to the American people about why this is important and why we have to do everything we can to make sure that something like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary does not happen again.”

During the interview with David Gregory, Obama focused on “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines. Second Amendment foes routinely describe semi-automatic weapons with cosmetic military features as assault weapons.

“I’ve been very clear that an assault rifle ban, banning these high capacity clips, background checks, that there are a set of issues that I have historically supported and will continue to support,” said Obama.

Obama stressed that he will push legislation within the first year of his second term. “I’d like to get it done in the first year,” he said. “I will put forward a very specific proposal based on the recommendations that Joe Biden’s task force is putting together as we speak. And so this is not something that I will be putting off.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Russian News Outlet Pravda Prints Surprising Opinion Column Warning USA: ‘Never Give Up Your Guns’

Back in November, the Russian news outlet Pravda (formerly the official press of the USSR), surprised everyone when it published a scathing opinion column labeling President Obama a “Communist without question promoting the Communist Manifesto without calling it so.”

And they appear to have done it again, this time weighing on in the gun control debate currently gripping the United States.

Written by Stanislav Mishin, the opinion piece, titled “Americans, never give up your guns,” begins:

These days, there are few few things to admire about the socialist, bankrupt and culturally degenerating USA, but at least so far, one thing remains: the right to bare arms and use deadly force to defend one’s self and possessions.

Mishin has rocked the boat before, writing in 2009 about American capitalism being “gone with a whimper.” Like the current article, it was originally published on the author’s personal blog before being picked up by Pravda.

By and large, he uses Russian history as a warning for what could occur in a worst-case scenario:…

           — Hat tip: JLH[Return to headlines]

Sandy Hook: How Television Takes Your Guns

Somebody has to write about these things. Since I’ve worked as a reporter for 30 years, I know enough about how the game is rigged. photo

I’m talking about the big mass tragedies. Sandy Hook, the Aurora theater, Hurricane Sandy, Katrina.

Many of the interviews with survivors are done on the spot, with no prep. But the biggest interviews are done in a television studio or a home, by a recognized anchor. The setting is arranged beforehand and lit well. A mood and a framework are established.


If after watching a number of these tragedies play out on television, you are completely reprogrammed into some grotesque version of “love everybody all the time and forgive everything,” and you need an outlet, a way to vicariously and subconsciously experience what you REALLY feel, you can always:

Go to the movies. The movies give you a different slant. You can be Mel Gibson killing people to get his kidnapped daughter back. You can be Charles Bronson wiping out street scum to avenge the loss of his wife. You can be Stallone or Arnie. You can roam the countryside spilling blood at every street corner.

The movies give you vicarious license to destroy evil. Television news takes it away.

It’s called the whipsaw effect, and it’s modern mind control, and it puts you in the “excluded middle,” where nothing happens and you remain locked up and passive.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘These Guys Are Truly, Truly Animals’…

Attack continued despite woman repeatedly vomiting on captors

Three teenage boys have been arrested for allegedly kidnapping, robbing and raping a woman in a five-hour ordeal on Christmas day. The incident took place in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania when a woman came out of a bar for a cigarette. As she sat playing with her mobile phone while waiting for her boyfriend to join her, the three teenagers allegedly forced their way into her vehicle…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Video: Dianne Feinstein Says Her Goal is to Disarm All Americans

Dianne Feinstein: “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States, for an outright ban, picking up [every gun]… Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein’s ultimate plan has always been to have Mr. and Mrs. America turn in their guns to the government, period. Feinstein has admitted that the bill is about gun confiscation.

She tells us a gun ban is about saving the children and reducing crime, but her comments on 60 Minutes in 1995 reveal her true plan is to disarm the American people.

On Thursday, Feinstein will introduced her dream bill to disarm the American people. The legislation is open-ended and includes provisions to re-register firearms and submit the fingerprints of law-abiding Americans as if they’re sex offenders.

Feinstein’s bill will also include a buy-back provision that will allow the government to confiscate all firearms. Both Feinstein and New York governor Andrew Cuomo have said that is their plan.

It is a gun confiscation bill.

The proposed bill is open declaration of war on the Second Amendment.

It’s no coincidence that the communist Chinese, the biggest holders of U.S. debt, have demanded the American people be disarmed. It is the simple action of the authoritarian.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Woman Dies: Three Fall Ill Aboard Toronto-Bound Via Rail Train

An elderly woman is dead and three other passengers were taken to hospital Saturday after developing flu-like symptoms on an eastbound VIA Rail train.

The train, headed to Toronto from Vancouver, was stopped in Parry Sound, Ont., for six hours starting at 5 a.m. after an 86-year-old woman was reported to be unconscious and unresponsive. Emergency crews boarded the train and confirmed the woman had died.

The two compartments occupied by the passengers were quarantined, and the train arrived in Toronto just before 4 p.m.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austrian Prof: Global Warming Deniers Should be Sentenced to Death

Richard Parncutt, Professor of Systematic Musicology, University of Graz, Austria, reckons people like Watts, Tallbloke, Singer, Michaels, Monckton, McIntyre and me (there are too many to list) should be executed. He’s gone full barking mad, and though he says these are his “personal opinions” they are listed on his university web site.

For all the bleating of those who say they’ve had real “death threats”, we get discussions about executing skeptics from Professors, wielding the tyrannical power of the state. Was he paid by the state to write these simplistic, immature, “solutions”? Do taxpayers fund his web expenses? (And what the heck is systematic musicology?) Prof Richard Parncutt says:

“I have always been opposed to the death penalty in all cases…”

“Even mass murderers [like Breivik] should not be executed, in my opinion.”

“GW deniers fall into a completely different category from Behring Breivik. They are already causing the deaths of hundreds of millions of future people. We could be speaking of billions, but I am making a conservative estimate.”


If a jury of suitably qualified scientists estimated that a given GW denier had already, with high probability (say 95%), caused the deaths of over one million future people, then s/he would be sentenced to death. The sentence would then be commuted to life imprisonment if the accused admitted their mistake, demonstrated genuine regret, AND participated significantly and positively over a long period in programs to reduce the effects of GW (from jail) — using much the same means that were previously used to spread the message of denial. At the end of that process, some GW deniers would never admit their mistake and as a result they would be executed. Perhaps that would be the only way to stop the rest of them. The death penalty would have been justified in terms of the enormous numbers of saved future lives.

Recant you foolish deniers or we’ll kill you! Yeah. Welcome to modern scientific debate.

Who should die? Anyone named on Desmog:

Much more would have happened by now if not for the GW deniers. An amazing number of people still believe that GW is a story made up by scientists with ulterior motives. For a long list of climate change deniers and their stories see desmogblog.

So the denier database becomes the “death list”. The list decided by PR experts on a funded smear site, who profit from marketing Green corporations.

But it’s ok, he includes a caveat where he says he didn’t say what I quoted above, so he can later pretend he isn’t discussing real deaths of real people:

Please note that I am not directly suggesting that the threat of execution be carried out. I am simply presenting a logical argument. I am neither a politician nor a lawyer. I am just thinking aloud about an important problem.

And we all feel so much better don’t we?

[Return to headlines]

Belgian Jewish Girls School Forced to Admit Sons of Holocaust Denier

3Rabbi Moshe Friedman, infamous for his participation with the Neturei Karta at the anti-Zionist & Holocaust-denial conference in Teheran in ‘06, has again placed himself in the middle of a disgraceful controversy, but this time in Antwerp.


A Belgian court ordered a Jewish school for girls to admit two boys or face heavy fines.

The Benoth Jeruzalem school for Jewish girls

A Belgian judge ruled on Dec. 21, that because yeshivas are subsidized by the Flemish community, Benoth Jerusalem must admit the boys or face a $2,600 penalty per child for each day the boys are not permitted to attend, according to the Gazet van Anwerpen, a local paper.

Rabbi Freidman hugging & passionately kissing Iranian president at the Holocaust denial conference

Joods Actueel, a Belgian-Jewish monthly, reported that the father of the boys was Moshe Friedman, an anti-Zionist Orthodox Jew who participated in a conference of Holocaust deniers in 2006 in Tehran, Iran. The paper said no school in Antwerp would admit his children. Friedman sued citing a recent decision from the Commission on Students’ Rights which held that a child cannot be denied admission to a school on the basis of gender.

In an interview with ATV, a Belgian television station, Friedman said the refusal to inscribe his boys into a school for girls was an act of “revenge” by the Jewish community because of his “opinion and good contacts with world leaders.” He added he had no choice but to enroll the boys there because he needed them to go to a Jewish school.

The report did not say why Freidman chose a school for girls instead of one of Antwerp’s many schools for boys.

The director of Benoth Jeruzalem school told Gazet van Anwerpen that a decision on how to proceed will be made next week.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Centre and Centre Left Polarize in Italian Election

Bersani and Casini widen the distance between them

(ANSA) — Rome, December 31 — Political leaders of Italy’s centre left and reformed centre coalitions threw down the gauntlet over the weekend, defining each other as rivals seeking a parliament majority in elections on February 24, and polarizing two forces that had supported Premier Mario Monti’s technical government over the course of its one-year rule. “To not set the goal of (winning a) majority means accepting subordination,” leader of the centrist UDC party Pier Ferdinando Casini told the newspaper Il Messaggero in an interview published on Monday.

“We will not be subordinate to the (centre-left) PD,” Casini added, “We will not be a centre of convenience.” Mario Monti’s policy agenda forms the centrepiece of the reformed centrist coalition Casini represents, and serves as a platform for rallying political support around a political faction that, until now, has drawn meagre voter interest. Meanwhile, the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) Luigi Bersani openly challenged Mario Monti’s agenda on Sunday, a barb intended for Casini, with whom Bersani’s differences lately have mounted.

The PD was the largest opposition party before Monti took over from Silvio Berlusconi in November 2011 and has been favored to win the largest number of seats in the upcoming elections given a dramatic erosion of support for the centre right. “Now it is our turn to indicate the way. It is a responsibility that we must take,” Bersani said on Sunday in the northern Italian city of Piacenza, where he is home celebrating the holidays.

“I do not make controversies,” Bersani continued, “I am very respectful. I have an excellent rapport with Monti. Now he has chosen to be a political player and so I pose political questions. When one goes before the voters, clarity is needed.” Monti is promoting a political agenda in the current election campaign, and has invited any party to embrace it.

Monti also made clear that he is open to becoming premier once more should the parties supporting his agenda win an elected majority.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Church Minister Warns Witchcraft is Thriving — In Wales (Home to 83 Witches, 93 Satanists and the Site of an Exorcism)

A church minister has revealed witchcraft is very much alive and well in his Welsh rural parishes as he warns against becoming involved in the occult.

Reverend Felix Aubel has spoken of how he as come across witches, the use of effigies and the ‘evil eye’ during his career in the Welsh countryside.

He has detailed a number of spine-tingling chilling tales after the latest figures in the 2011 census revealed 83 witches and 93 satanists are living in Wales.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Dutch Ask Irish Government for Answers on Safety Standards at Ryanair

Junior transport minister Wilma Mansveld has asked the Irish government to clarify reports that airline Ryanair is ordering pilots to fly with as little fuel as possible, Nos television reported on Saturday.

Ryanair flies to a wide range of destinations from Dutch airports Eindhoven, Maastricht and Eelde.

Current affairs show Reporter on Friday featured four pilots who claimed they had been forced to fly with as little fuel as possible in order to save on costs.

The Irish government is responsible for controlling safety standards at Ryanair, a spokesman for Mansveld is quoted as saying by Nos. The minister has also asked for a copy of an Irish report into Ryanair.

Own investigation

Depending on the outcome of these inquiries, Mansveld will decide whether or not to start her own probe into safety standards at the airline. The Dutch pilots’ association has called for such an investigation.

Reporter said that three Ryanair flights have been forced to make an emergency landing in Valencia because they did not have enough fuel.

In her reaction to the claims, Mansveld points out that the three incidents have already been investigated and no further action was considered necessary.

The four pilots told the show there is a ‘deeply rooted culture of fear’ at Ryanair. Other former officials described the company as a dictatorship.

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

French Paper Charlie Hebdo to Publish Comic Book Life of Mohammed

A French weekly known for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to the ire of conservative Muslims said Sunday it plans to release a comic book biography of Islam’s founder that will be researched and educational. Satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo has on several occasions depicted Islam’s prophet in an effort to defend free speech and defy the anger of Muslims who believe depicting Mohammed is sacrilegious…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

French Magazine Charlie Hebdo to Publish Comic of Mohammed’s Life

Satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo plans to release a comic book biography of Mohammed’s life.

The weekly magazine has previously published cartoons featuring Mohammed, sparking violent protests by conservative Muslims.

The special edition comic book depiction of Mohammed’s life is due to be published on Wednesday, according to AFP.

Charlie Hebdo’s publisher said it would be educational and was an attempt to defend free speech.

“It is a biography authorised by Islam since it was edited by Muslims,” said the publisher, Stephane Charbonnier, who is known as Charb.

“I don’t think higher Muslims could find anything inappropriate.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Language Trouble Behind Many Medical Mishaps

Chief medical officers can only communicate with one-third of their staff in German and more patients are complaining about many physicians’ poor command of the German language, the head of the Berlin Medical Association said on Monday.

Günther Jonitz, in an interview with Deutschlandradio Kultur, said these communication problems are negatively affecting doctor-patient relations and are the main reason when things go wrong.

Physicians who speak fluent German are increasingly removed from patient care and put in charge of writing reports, he said. “The risks are growing,” he told the programme.

The main culprit is economics and a “truly lousy healthcare policy” that puts too much emphasis on numbers and economic profit and forgets people in the system. German physicians and nurses however are no longer willing to put up with this, Jonitz said.

“Whoever can, leaves for other countries and works where a doctor or nurse is well regarded — in Switzerland, Scandinavia, England, France (and) Holland.”

Their places are being filled with doctors from countries where working conditions are even worse than in Germany,” Jonitz said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Lagarde List: Parliamentary Inquiry for Ex Minister

Suspected of doctoring alleged tax evaders list

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 31 — Greece’s three governing coalition parties are due to submit to Parliament on Monday a proposal for MPs to investigate former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou over allegations that he tampered with the so-called Lagarde list of Greek depositors at HSBC in Switzerland. According to reports — as daily Kathimerini reports -, New Democracy, PASOK and Democratic Left will suggest that Papaconstantinou needs to face a parliamentary inquiry to answer charges of doctoring an official document and breach of duty, offenses which carry sentences of up to 20 years in jail. The proposal needs just 30 MPs’ signatures to be put to a vote, where a majority decision will be enough to prompt the setting up of an investigative committee. The panel’s findings will be used to decide whether Papaconstantinou should stand trial. In an interview with Ethnos newspaper on Sunday, repeated his claims that he did not tamper with the list, which was given to him by the then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde in 2010. Papaconstantinou also raised questions about the role of PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, who succeeded him as finance minister in 2011. The radical leftist party SYRIZA, meanwhile, is pressing for George Papandreou, who was prime minister when the alleged doctoring took place, to face an inquiry. The fact that details of three accounts from just over 2,000 were missing from the list prosecutors had been investigating was discovered after Greek authorities obtained from the French government the original version of the list two weeks ago. The three accounts belong to Papaconstantinou’s two cousins and their husbands, according to prosecutors who checked the two versions of the list with the help of the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Transsexual Thrown From Balcony, Three Arrests Made

(AGI) Rome, Dec. 29 — Two Romanians have been charged with attempted homicide after allegedly committing violent assault on a transsexual on Christmas night. While the police were carrying out the arrests, information emerged regarding another Romanian who is thought to have been their accomplice. The man was traced and is being held by judicial police. The victim, beaten up and thrown from the balcony, suffered serious injuries and may not survive.

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

Swiss Freeze Mubarak Sons’ Assets: Report

Swiss authorities have frozen €300 million dollars sitting in Credit Suisse accounts in Geneva held by the sons of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the newspaper Le Matin Dimanche reported on Sunday.

The funds are held in accounts belonging to Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, sons of the ex-president who are currently being held in an Egyptian prison.

The brothers are accused of using their position as scions of Egypt’s longtime ruler to help themselves to villas, luxury cars and stakes in the country’s key companies.

According to the newspaper, the funds were deposited at the Credit Suisse in 2005, which was after Switzerland tightened rules governing transactions by politically exposed depositors.

A Credit Suisse spokesman refused comment, citing the bank’s secrecy policy.

The paper said Egypt-linked funds had also been frozen at the Swiss office of French banking giant BNP Paribas.

Switzerland has opened a probe targeting 14 people close to the Mubarak regime who are suspected of embezzling public funds and widescale corruption.

Earlier this month, Swiss authorities refused to provide their Egyptian counterparts with access to their findings so far, citing concerns for the “institutional situation” in Cairo.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Cam ‘n Have a Go if EU Think You’re Hard Enough

by Trevor Kavanagh

THE biggest story of 2012 was the long, painful EU slide into economic meltdown — and its impact as a drag anchor on UK recovery.

It will remain the story of 2013 and every other year until poverty, unemployment and social uproar put paid to an economic gamble that was doomed before it began. Tomorrow marks 40 years since Britain joined the EEC, a trading block transformed by trickery into a failed experimental superstate. We joined on January 1, 1973, after lying premier Ted Heath insisted the UK would lose no sovereign powers. We know he was lying because official records reveal he was warned in stark terms by his most senior government lawyer. We have been lied to pretty much ever since. Every treaty has undermined Westminster democracy and given away power to unelected and unaccountable Brussels officials.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Far-Right Vacuum Could Trigger ‘Lone-Wolf’ Attacks

Warning about potential for a ‘British Breivik’

The fragmentation of the far right could spark a new wave of political violence and Anders Breivik-style lone-wolf acts of terrorism, according to the head of the UK’s first research centre into contemporary fascism. The warning comes as new figures reveal that there have been nearly 500 anti-Islamic attacks since March, with more than half linked to supporters of far-right groups. Professor Nigel Copsey told The Independent that the electoral decline of the British National Party (BNP) and the splintering of street-based protest organisations such as the English Defence League (EDL) had created a potentially dangerous political vacuum on the far right…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Man Critically Ill in Hospital After ‘Trolley Rage Attack’ At M&S Breaking His Hip and Wrist

A 60-year-old man is critically ill in hospital after being injured in a trolley rage incident at Marks & Spencer during the Christmas rush.

The man suffered a broken hip and wrist after the altercation on December 22 in Bromley.

A female shopper is alleged to have rammed into him with her trolley in the busy food section of the store in The Glades shopping centre.

The elderly man was taken to a hospital in Kent for treatment.

On Boxing Day, the Metropolitan police arrested 30-year-old woman on suspicion of GBH.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Pakistani Journalist Arrested in London

LONDON: Senior Pakistani journalist Muhammad Sarwar has been arrested by the Metropolitan Police on sexual assault charges after a woman believed to be of Pakistani origin registered a complaint at an East London Police station.

Sarwar, chief editor of weekly newspaper The Nation and Kashmir News, was arrested from outside the Lee Bridge Road mosque, administration of the mosque confirmed. In a statement, Scotland Yard said: “On 29th of December, police in Waltham Forest arrested a 56-year-old man on sexual assault charges. He was arrested because a female made allegations of sexual assault. The man is in custody at an East London police station. We will investigate this serious matter.”

More than 200 people had gathered in the Ghausia Mosque on Lee Bridge Road for the chehlum of Liberal Democrat Councillor Farooq Qureshi’s wife when two policemen approached the mosque administration and told them that they were looking for a person named ‘Sarwar’. The mosque then made a public announcement that the police was looking for some “Sarwar” and that whosoever he is should cooperate with the police. The mosque administration feared that the police may enter the mosque to force their warrant. A member of the mosque administration told this newspaper: “After the announcement was made three people left the mosque hall, presumably all of them shared the name Sarwar but we saw that it was M. Sarwar of The Nation who was taken away by the police. It is only an allegation as far as we are aware.”

“The police were respectful and didn’t enter the mosque. They arrested M. Sarwar from the pavement outside after telling him what the allegations against him were. Everyone at the mosque was shocked as what had happened. We thought it was some kind of allegation relating to fight or altercation but the charge of sexual assault is very serious and when we heard the news about the charge we were all very shocked. We don’t know what the facts of this case are. Its unfortunate what happened,” said a mosque committee member, who requested his name not be published…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Launch Manhunt for ‘Terror Suspect’ Who Went Missing on Boxing Day… While Under Close Surveillance

A terror suspect who was under close police surveillance has gone missing, it emerged this evening.

Counter terrorism detectives today appealed to the public for help in tracing 28-year-old Ibrahim Magag who was last seen on Boxing Day.

He is believed to have absconded from a terror control order known as a Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures notice (TPIM).

Counter terrorism detectives urged anyone who sees Magag to ring 999 immediately. He was last seen in north London.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Seek 15-Year-Old Over Murder of Teenager Who Was Stabbed in Front of His Brother After ‘Refusing to Give His Phone to Muggers’

Detectives want to trace a 15-year-old boy in connection with the murder of a teenager who was stabbed to death in the street.

Sixth form student Dogan Ismail, 17, bled to death in front of his older brother after he was stabbed following ‘an altercation’ outside a block of flats on the Aylesbury Estate, in Walworth, south east London, yesterday.

Police have now taken the unusual step of naming a youth wanted for questioning in connection with Mr Ismail’s death.

Dawda Jallow, 15, from the Peckham area, is described as black, clean shaven with cropped black afro hair, 5ft 5in tall and of slight build.

He has brown eyes and speaks with a London accent, although he is a Gambian national.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Three-Quarters of Doctors Who Are Struck Off in Britain Are Trained Abroad

Three out of four doctors struck off the medical register this year were trained abroad, figures show.

It means that those who qualified overseas were over five times more likely to be struck off than British graduates.

The data comes amid growing alarm that many foreign doctors are simply not up to scratch, putting the safety of patients at risk.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Taxpayers Are Handing Nearly £500,000 a Week in Legal Aid to Prisoners to Help Them Make Human Rights Claims.

In four years, convicts have been given more than £93million to help them demand early release from jail, compensation or softer treatment behind bars.

The bill has spiralled from £1million a year before the Human Rights Act came into force to more than £25million in 2010.

Since then prisoners addicted to heroin have used legal aid to win thousands in compensation for being forced to go ‘cold turkey’ when locked up.

In another notorious case, a rapist was given legal aid to claim his rights were breached by having to ‘slop out’ because there was no lavatory in his cell.

And in May 2011 burglar Wayne Bishop was released from jail after the Court of Appeal ruled that locking him up breached his family’s human rights.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has ordered a review of legal aid payouts over the damaging ‘compensation culture’ gripping jails.

Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Britain’s legal aid bill has become unsustainable and must be reformed.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Taxpayers Fork Out £150million a Year for ‘Benefit Brood’ Families With More Than Five Children

Families with more than five children are costing the taxpayer an astonishing £150million in child benefits every year.

At least one parent in 40,000 families with five or more children is claiming jobseeker’s allowance, incapacity benefit, disability allowance, pension or another income boost as well as child benefit.

It is estimated that the total cost to the public of these super-sized families comes to at least £350million a year.

The families claiming extra benefits include 180 with ten or more children and ten with as many as 13.


Stephanie Fennessy-Sharp, 29, and her partner Ian Sharp receive £50,000 a year in benefits to support their ten children and live in a five-bedroom detached house in Kent.

Neither she nor 56-year-old Ian work. Instead, they claim the equivalent of a £72k salary before tax — and it’s all down to a skewed benefits system that discourages unemployed claimants from going out to find work.

Ian suffers debilitating headaches that he says prevent him from working. But Stephanie is perfectly healthy — and confesses she could work, but chooses not to because she is better off on benefits.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Wind Turbines ‘Last for Half as Long as Previously Thought’ As Study Shows They Show Signs of Wearing Out After Just 12 Years

Wind farms have just half the useful lifespan which has been claimed, according to new research which found they start to wear out after just 12 years.

A study of almost 3,000 turbines in Britain — the largest of its kind — sheds doubt on manufacturers claims that they generate clean energy for up to 25 years, which is used by the Government to calculate subsidies.

Professor Gordon Hughes, an economist at Edinburgh University and former energy advisor to the World Bank, predicts in the coming decade far more investment will be needed to replace older and ineffective turbines — which is likely to be passed on in higher household electricity bills.

[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: ANP Troops Kill Boumerdès Terrorist

The Algerian army killed a terrorist around midnight on Friday (December 28th) in the village of Dar Bouni, 50km east of Boumerdes, El Watan reported. He was ambushed while trying to visit his family. Since the beginning of the year, military operations have eliminated some fifty terrorists in the region.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt Still Under Blackout Due to Fuel Shortage

15 power stations shut down yesterday, half of country at risk

(ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER 28 — Over 15 power stations have not produced energy since yesterday due to a lack of fuel (diesel, natural gas and mazut), according to the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC).

For the first time ever, the electricity distributor announced, “the drastic decrease in available fuel has reduced productive capacity by about 3,000 megawatts per day”.

According to sources quoted by Al Ahram Online, if the situation is not resolved soon, “over half of Egypt’s governorates might be left with no electricity whatsoever”.

As a result of the halt to energy production in the plants, yesterday the governorates of Suez, Baharia, Alexandria and Cairo suffered a blackout lasting several hours.

In the attempt to meet electricity demand and deal with the lack of fuel, in October the Egyptian government signed an agreement to import gas from Algeria and started talks for the same with Qatar.

In August the authorities announced that two power plants would be built in Damietta and Abukir with an overall capacity of 1,800 megawatts when fully operational.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egyptian Atheist’s Jail Sentence Blow to Religious Freedom

Saber speaks to ANSAmed, they arrested me instead of attackers

(By Shelly Kittleson) (ANSAmed) — CAIRO, DECEMBER 31 — When a furious mob attacked Alber Saber’s house in September, calling for his death and accusing him of burning the Koran and promoting the film The Innocence of Muslims on social networks, his mother phoned the police. On arriving, the police arrested him instead of his attackers, forced him to sign documents he hadn’t read and left him alone with other detainees at the police station after inciting violence against him, Saber told ANSAmed.

A few days after his release on bail pending appeal of the December 12 conviction for insulting religion, for which he has been sentenced to three years in jail, Saber granted an interview to ANSAmed in the offices of Egypt’s Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE). Slimmer than in photos taken previous to his detention, head shaven and face haggard and pale, the twenty-six-year-old showed a reddish-brown scar on his neck which he claims is from detainees who cut him with a sharp object at the police station he was taken to after the police officer in charge incited them and then locked him in as they attacked him. In the uproar sparked in September after the Egyptian Islamist television station Al-Nas broadcast part of the amateur film The Innocence of Muslims, which portrays the Prophet Mohammed in a negative light and was made by an Egyptian Copt living in the US, Saber was accused by a number of people in his neighbourhood — who he describes as “thugs” — of posting the video, running an atheist website and burning the Koran.

Although he denies the accusations (the police reportedly did not find any evidence of the original charges, but did find information on comparative religion and related subjects when they searched his home), Saber is from a Coptic Christian family and is an avowed atheist. Confessing to not believing in God is an extreme rarity in Egypt, where identity cards must state whether the holder is Muslim, Christian or Jewish. He says he came to this decision after “years of studying religion and philosophy” at Beni Suef University, before he decided to switch to a computer science degree programme in Cairo, which he was to have finished this year.

Politically active though not at the forefront during the 2011 uprising against the Mubarak regime, he was arrested briefly on 26 January 2011 at a protest in front of the Journalists’ Syndicate. He then had his home searched and computer, CDs and other materials confiscated when police raided his home in January of this year, most likely due to comments made on Facebook questioning religion.

Saber is not the first to have been sentenced on similar charges over the past year. In April an Egyptian juvenile court sentenced the Coptic teenager Gamal Abdou Massoud to three years in prison for posting cartoons mocking Islam on Facebook, while Coptic schoolteacher Bishoy Kamel was sentenced to six years in prison in September for sharing Innocence of Muslims on Facebook and for “insulting the president” and two Coptic boys (aged 9 and 10) were arrested in October for “defiling the Koran”. The two children were later released but “will remain under investigation”.

In any case, Saber continues to deny all charges. Both his conviction and the general climate surrounding freedom of religion and expression in Egypt has raised concern among human rights groups. With the recent approval of the referendum on the Islamist-drafted constitution, insulting religion is no longer just a violation of the criminal code but also one of the nation’s charter itself. Alber Saber had very much wanted to have his say on the matter, but did not get the chance. Although he should have been released as soon as his bail was posted immediately following the December 12 sentence, he was held for unexplained reasons until December 17: too late to cast his ballot in the December 15 round of the referendum in Cairo. His appeal trial has been scheduled for January 26.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Obama Admits “Huge Problem” In Security of Benghazi Consulate

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) — President Barack Obama said Sunday he won’t dispute the findings of a recent probe that showed a huge security manage problem in the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi of Libya. “We’re not going to be defensive about it. We’re not going to pretend that this was not a problem. This was a huge problem,” Obama said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press”. “My message to the State Department has been very simple. And that is, we’re going to solve this,” he said, vowing to implement “every single recommendation” put forward by the investigation report. In the interview, Obama cited “some sloppiness, although not intentional,” on the part of the State Department with respect to how the U.S. diplomatic missions are secured in places where local governments are not able to provide sufficient protection…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Attounssia TV Chief Hospitalised After Hunger Strike

Attounssia TV director Sami Fehri was transferred from Mornaguia prison to a Tunis hospital on Thursday (December 27th), TAP reported. According to his lawyer, Fehri’s health worsened as a result of a hunger strike launched on December 18th. Fehri was arrested in August for “illegal use of Tunisian state television resources”, days after his station aired a satirical puppet show that mocked members of the Ennahda-led government.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Fred Taub: the Israel Boycott and Bigotry

his brings us back to the two things racists have in common — they blame others for their own shortcomings and claim superiority because other people are worse. While the BDS crowd blames Israel for the woes of others, they also tell Israel what to do out of a sense of moral superiority based on their own self-esteem. Effectively, therefore, the Israel boycotters are by definition bigots. Of course they will deny being bigots and then claim Zionists are the real bigots, which brings up the topic of the Arab techniques used in their boycott of Israel — the trend among Arabs is to blame Israel for their shortcomings. For example, while Jews and Christians are forbidden from entering Mecca and Medina, the BDS claim is that Arabs are discriminated against by Israel. Of course the Arabs don’t tell their BDS recruits that Arabs vote in Israel and have been in every Knesset since day one; nor do they tell their BDS recruits that Israelis can’t enter most Arab nations, nor can any Jews vote in Arab nations. The Israel boycotters also fail to mention that Arab women can’t vote or drive under Islamic rule, yet are free to do both in Israel. The list goes on and on. Simply stated, the Arab world likes to claim Israel denies the very basic human rights the Arab world actually imposes on its own people, thus blaming Israel and Jews in general for the Arab world’s own shortcomings. There is one truism I have learned in the fifteen years I have been studying boycotts: It is easy to make a false claim and scream boycott in response. However, when you shine a light on the actions of the claimants, you may then be exposing the truth, including who the real bigots are.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon[Return to headlines]

On the Weaponizing of Lethal Narratives …

by Richard Landes

Working again on the Al Durah affair (which goes to court again on January 16, 2013, I came across this article which I had saved but forgotten. It offers a fascinating insight into the skill displayed by al Qaeda in turning Palestinian lethal narratives into weapons of Jihad. I’ll bet that all the key footage (including, according to most, but not all those who have viewed the available evidence, the al Durah footage) belongs to the “Staged” category of Pallywood…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

PNA Condemns Israeli Order to Evacuate Palestinians From Jordan Valley

RAMALLAH, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) — The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) strongly condemned Monday the Israeli decision to evacuate about 1,000 Palestinians from their homes in the Jordan Valley for military training purposes. “This is an ethnic cleansing and a new war crime committed against the Palestinian people,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told Xinhua. Erekat urged the international community to intervene to stop such policies practiced against the residents of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank. Aref Daraghma, head of Wadi Maleh village council in the Northern Jordan Valley, told Xinhua that the Israeli military handed around 1,000 Palestinians evacuation orders to leave their houses for two days as of Wednesday. According to the evacuation orders, the residents of the village will be able to go back to their homes after two days when the military maneuvers are over…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Al Qaeda Offers Reward for Killing US Ambassador in Yemen

SANAA // Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen has announced that it will pay tens of thousands of dollars to anyone who kills the US ambassador in Sanaa or an American soldier in the country…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Al-Qaeda Offers $160k Bounty for Assassination of US Ambassador to Yemen and $23k for Killing American Soldiers

Al-Qaeda has placed a $160,000 bounty on the head of the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen and $23,000 for the assassination of any American soldiers in the country.

An audio produced by the group’s media arm, the al-Malahem Foundation, and posted on militant websites Saturday said it offered three kilograms of gold for the killing of Ambassador Gerald M. Feierstein.

The bounties were set to ‘inspire and encourage our Muslim nation for jihad,’ the statement said.

[Return to headlines]

At Least 13 Killed in Series of Attacks in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) — At least 13 people were killed and 47 wounded in a series of bomb and gunfire attacks in central and eastern Iraq on Monday, the police said. In one attack, three roadside bombs went off at three houses in the town of al-Mussayab, some 60 km south of Baghdad, in the early morning hours, killing seven people and wounding four others, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. Separately, a mortar round landed near a procession of Shiite pilgrims in the town of al-Latifiyah, some 40 km south of Baghdad, wounding three of them, a local police source said. Both towns are part of the once restive area dubbed Triangle of Death, which is a cluster of towns scattered between south of Baghdad and north of Hilla city, the capital of Babil province, some 100 km south of Baghdad…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Bishop Attacked in Lebanon’s Tripoli

BEIRUT: A Lebanese bishop was attacked Sunday by a group of young men in the northern city of Tripoli, security sources told The Daily Star. The group of young men attacked Bishop Abdullah Skaf and his son after the bishop asked them to move away from the area outside the Roman Catholic church in Tripoli’s al-Zahriyeh neighborhood. The sources said the young men were suspected to be either drunk or on drugs. An urgent meeting was held after the incident between local religious figures, both Muslim and Christian, and other dignitaries. Bishop Skaf asked for a complaint his son filed against the young men to be withdrawn and said he forgives them. The bishop also refused to make any statements to the media, so as to avoid provoking any strife in the northern city.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

British Public Wants to ‘Keep Out of Syria’

ComRes survey reveals resistance to Prime Minister’s plan to aid anti-Assad units

While David Cameron is rallying support among EU leaders to send arms to the rebels opposing the Assad regime in Syria, he also faces a battle to persuade the British public to back the plan. According to a survey for The Independent, people do not believe Britain should provide military supplies to the rebels. By a margin of 48 per cent to 35 per cent, people do not believe Britain should provide military supplies to the rebels — even if the UK did not send in any armed forces — while 18 per cent replied “don’t know”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

No Votes to be Had in Syria

Almost two years on from the first protests against Bashar Assad’s regime, in late January 2011, Western leaders, David Cameron among them, are desperate for the civil war in Syria to end. Deeply hostile to the regime in Damascus, but alarmed by the growing prominence of al-Qa’ida supporters in the ranks of the opposition, they yearn for Mr Assad to go before the Islamists become unstoppable.

However, a poll conducted for this newspaper, which we publish today, shows that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, face an uphill struggle in trying to persuade the public of the merits of siding with the rebels, even to the extent of relaxing sanctions on sending them military aid. The figures show that on Syria, as on many other issues, the Prime Minister is out of step with his own party as well as the country. Tory voters are more opposed to arming the Syrian rebels than their Labour counterparts…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Russian Warships Head to the Syrian Port of Tartus

(AGI) Moscow, Dec 30 — The Kremlin is sending a warship to Syria. The Novocherkassk, a large landing ship, left the Black Sea port of Novorossiiskisto for the Syrian port of Tartus, Navy sources reported. The warship, together with other combat ships, is expected to go through the Bosphorous into the Mediterranean Sea on January 1 where other Russian warships will converge to conduct drills.

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

Syria: ‘Facing 100,000 Deaths in Next Year’

Lakhdar Brahimi, the international envoy to Syria, has warned that as many as 100,000 could die in the next year if a way cannot be found quickly to end the civil war.

Mr Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy for the Syrian crisis, told reporters in Cairo that if the crisis continues Syria will not be divided into states “like what happened in Yugoslavia” but will face “Somalisation, which means warlords, and the Syrian people will be persecuted by those who control their fate.”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Muscovite, Making it — and Muslim

MOSCOW // Timur Bulgakov has a black belt in karate, two university degrees, a powerful SUV and a small yet thriving construction company. The 28-year-old’s success is impressive for a Muslim migrant from Uzbekistan whose first job in Moscow 10 years ago was as a delivery boy…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Scrap Draft US Army Manual That Appeases Islamic Doctrine

We have written about the dangers of delusional political correctness intruding on conduct of alleged counter-insurgency doctrine in Afghanistan. We have thought that the so-called Human Terrain Studies, promoted by defamed former CENTCOMM Commander and ex-CIA Chief Gen. Petraeus, with its appeasing of Islamic culture would only hobble US operations in the faltering war in Afghanistan. In fact it also violates the field commanders’ first priority, which is force protection, and verges on gross negligence, as argued by Stephen Coughlin, Army Reserve Major and former Pentagon Consultant on Jihad war doctrine. You would have thought the spike in murderous green-on-blue attacks against US and Coalition ISAF forces by Afghan security personnel, the US Army’s Combined Arms Command, Army Lessons Learned Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas would have gotten the message that Coughlin and others have warned about. Apparently not…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: The West Should ‘Change Its Approach to Failing States’

Ahmed Rashid, one of the world’s foremost experts on Afghanistan, once welcomed US intervention in the failed state. But in a SPIEGEL interview, the Pakistani journalist says the West’s model for development is fundamentally flawed and must be changed.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Rashid, in 2014 the West will withdraw from Afghanistan. To what extent have they failed?

Rashid: In my view, the Western model of influencing the development of third world countries is doomed to failure. The West does not understand how to deal with states that no longer have any authority and are threatened by dissolution. Their efforts failed in Iraq as well as Afghanistan. They are simply not capable of promoting the indigenous economy. Neither USAID nor Germany’s international technical cooperation agency, the GIZ, are able to get a grip on it. They provide temporary assistance, no more than that. Many billions of dollars flooded into Afghanistan, but without any significant effect…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: Local Government Reform ‘Success’ In Helmand

When foreign combat troops pull out of Afghanistan in 2014, Afghan troops will try to fill the gap. In the troubled province of Helmand in the south-west, the security effort has been backed up by local government reform, one of the more significant successes of western intervention. It has been so successful that the British officials who introduced it have been asked to take it to other provinces. David Loyn reports…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Ordeal of Indian Gang Rape Victim in Her Own Words as She Lay Dying

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

The Indian woman who died after a horrific rape by a gang of men told her family as she lay dying in hospital that she tried as hard as she could to fight off her attackers.

The 23-year-old told her younger brother she bit and kicked the men as they raped her on a bus in Delhi. As they assaulted the student the men said they would kill her.

The woman died on Saturday despite treatment at a Singapore hospital.

Following her death her brother paid tribute to the strength and courage she showed following her ordeal.

He said: ‘She was very strong. She always said one should never bear atrocities but fight against it.

‘While she was admitted in hospital, she told me that she fought back as hard as she could. She was defending herself by beating and biting them.

‘She thrashed them and kicked them too. They were boiling in anger by her defence so they decided to kill her. She told me that they were murmuring ‘maar do ise’ (kill her). They threw her considering she was dead.’

He also paid tribute to the woman’s friend, who was also attacked on the bus as they were returning home from a cinema trip.

Neighbours said the couple were planning to marry in February.

Her brother said: ‘The boy was equally courageous like my sister. She told me that he guarded her until he became unconscious.’

He added that he hadn’t slept since the incident occurred.

‘I’m missing her voice. She was my best friend. Whenever I had a problem, I talked to her over the phone for hours. She used to give me the best advice,’ he said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sri Lanka: MP Adds Voice to Campaign Against Muslims

Actor turned politician Ranjan Ramanayake is in the eye of a storm after he criticised Islamic Sharia laws and its so-called ill effects on Sri Lankan women workers in West Asia.

“I have come here after discussing you for 25 minutes at our high command meeting,” Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem, who is also leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) told Ramanayake. He met him at a wedding on Friday night. Groups that have started e-mail campaigns against Muslim activities in the country, particularly the practice of halal meat products etc., have drawn the attention of the Muslim community in recent times.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Taliban Kill 21 Security Personnel Kidnapped by Them in NW Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) — Pakistan Taliban have killed 21 security personnel kidnapped by them during an attack on a checkpoint in NW Pakistan several days ago, reported local media Geo on Sunday. The dead bodies of the killed have been found in the Hassan Khel area near Peshawar, said the report, adding that all of them were shot dead. Pakistan Taliban have claimed responsibility for the killing of the 21 kidnapped security personnel, it said. On late Wednesday night, an estimated 30 heavily armed Taliban militants launched an attack on two checkpoints south of Peshawar, killing two security personnel, wounding another and kidnapping 23 others. Two of the kidnapped security personnel later escaped from Taliban custody, said local media.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Buying Tu-22M3 Production Line

For the third time in 7 years (first one being in 2005, second earlier in 2012) several websites in China (link in Chinese) are reporting that China and Russia have agreed for Beijing to buy the production line for the Tupolev Tu-22M3 bomber at a cost of 1.5 billion USD.

Once in service with the Chinese Naval Air Forces the Tu-22M3 will be known as the “H-10”.

The deal struck with Russia comes with 36 aircraft (and engines): an initial batch of 12 followed by a second batch of 24 aircraft are thought to be on order.

The Tu-22 will be employed in the maritime attack role and will be used to attack targets from low level (to avoid radar detection).

[Return to headlines]

Philippines: Muslim Rebel Group Completes 8 Nominees to Transition Commission

MANILA, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front ( MILF), the largest Muslim rebel group in southern Philippines, is now ready to transmit to the Malaysian facilitator the names of its eight nominees to the Transition Commission (TC) that will draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, a rebel official said Monday. Muhammad Ameen, chairperson of the MILF Secretariat, said that the MILF Central Committee has already completed the list of the eight nominees to the TC, but their identifies were still withheld pending the transmission to the Malaysian facilitator, who will officially communicate the list to the Philippine government through its peace panel. “In choosing the nominees, the MILF has set three stringent pre- qualifications: sincerity to the Bangsamoro cause, capability to discharge the task, and geographical or sectoral consideration,” he said.

Included in the nominees were one woman, one member of the indigenous peoples (IP), one senior military commander of the MILF, and one aleem (learned in Islam), Ameen said.

The government peace panel has yet to recommend its seven nominees to be part of the 15-man TC. The creation of the TC was provided in the framework agreement that the government and the MILF recently forged.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Australia’s Grand Mufti Meets Hamas

AUSTRALIA’S Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed has met with the hierarchy of Hamas, the Palestinian party listed by the Gillard government as a terrorist organisation.

Last week Dr Mohamed led an Australian delegation of Muslim scholars to the Gaza Strip, where they met Hamas senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Mr Haniyeh, who has been pushing for the US and the EU to remove Hamas from its terrorist watchlist, last year described former al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden as “a Muslim and Arabic warrior” while condemning the US for killing the terrorist leader.

Dr Mohamed, who has been styled as a moderate since taking the top Australian Muslim post, last week expressed his happiness at being in Gaza, describing it as the land of pride and martyrdom.

“I am pleased to stand on the land of jihad to learn from its sons and I have the honour to be among the people of Gaza where the weakness always becomes strength, the few becomes many and the humiliation turns into pride,” he told local news agencies.

“We came here in order to learn from Gaza. As I said in my speech, we will make the stones, trees, and people of Gaza talk, in order to learn steadfastness, sacrifice, and the defence of one’s rights from them.

“We feel like we are on cloud nine. We feel like we are on top of the world.” Images of the visit were shown on local TV and hailed as a PR coup by Hamas, the fanatical ruling party in Gaza.

Attempts to contact Dr Mohamed, who has insisted radical Muslim extremists in Australia need to be corrected, were unsuccessful.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Australia has listed Hamas as a terrorist entity subject to financial sanctions since 2001.

The military wing of Hamas is also listed as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code Act 1995.

In July 2009, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, then deputy prime minister, said: “Hamas obviously is a terrorist organisation that has been engaged in violent actions against the Israeli people.”

Ms Gillard was unavailable to comment.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said through a spokesman that the trip had nothing to do with the government.

“It’s up to them to explain their own views and travel plans,” the spokesman said.

“We have no diplomatic engagement with Hamas.”

Last week’s delegation, described by the media as one of several “delegations of solidarity”, also visited the Ministry of Islamic Endowments and met with religious scholars and sheikhs.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

NZ: Spectacular Photo Captures Moment Great White is Gobbled by an Even Bigger Shark as It’s Hauled Into Fisherman’s Boat

The fisherman, whose Reddit name is Mancubus, was probably pretty chuffed with his catch and daydreaming about a fish and chip dinner, with the shark firmly on the end of the line.

But that was before he had competition.

The Kiwi didn’t even have time to haul his catch onto the deck before the smaller shark was in the jaws of the monster predator.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya: 90 Kuria Girls Saved From FGM

More than 90 teenage girls in Kuria East and West districts have been rescued from Female Genital Mutilation. The girls fled their homes after their parents and villagers told them they would be circumcised this ‘season’…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: How We Averted Bomb Attacks at Christmas — Jonathan

Abuja — President Goodluck Jonathan, Sunday, said but for the effective role of the security agencies, the Boko Haram sect would have carried out deadly bombings during the Christmas celebration. The president spoke on Sunday at the church service of “Ekklisiyar Yaruwa a Nigeria”, EYN, (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), Utako, Abuja. According to the President, his administration is working round the clock to address the challenges of insecurity in the country…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

When Rwanda Won the UN Security Council Seat

Tomorrow, January 1, 2013, Rwanda takes her seat at the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member, replacing South Africa. The country was elected to the all-powerful 15-member Council on November 18, just days after the release of a highly controversial report linking Kigali to a rebellion in Eastern DRC. Today is the last day of 2012, a year which, by no means, was a quiet one for Rwanda. By and large, it is a year to remember. Across the board, the country made leaps and bounds and will be seeking to further these gains in the New Year…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Muslim Immigration to Russia Increases Dramatically

Russia’s Federal Migration Service estimates that about 9.1 million foreigners arrived in Russia to work in 2011. More than a third came from three impoverished Central Asian countries that were once part of the Soviet Union: About 2 million from Uzbekistan, 1 million from Tajikistan and more than 500,000 from Kyrgyzstan. Local experts say the number of Central Asian arrivals is at least twice as high. And hundreds of thousands of Central Asians have already acquired Russian passports and are off the migration services’ radar.

The Central Asian migration has been the driving force in boosting Russia’s Muslim population to more than 20 million, from some 14 million 10 years ago _ a phenomenon experts call one of the most radical demographic makeovers Russia has ever seen.

“Today, we’re standing on the verge of a powerful demographic explosion, a great migration period equal to the one that took place in the first centuries A.D.,” said Vyacheslav Mikhailov, a former minister for ethnic issues and a presidential adviser on ethnic policies.

Muslims are expected to account for 19 percent of Russia’s population by 2030, up from 14 percent of the current population of 142 million, according to the U.S. government’s National Intelligence Council report on global trends published this month.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: 60,000 Patients Put on Death Pathway Without Being Told But Minister Still Says Controversial End-of-Life Plan is ‘Fantastic’

Up to 60,000 patients die on the Liverpool Care Pathway each year without giving their consent, shocking figures revealed yesterday.

A third of families are also kept in the dark when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment from loved ones.

Despite the revelations, Jeremy Hunt last night claimed the pathway was a ‘fantastic step forward’.

In comments that appeared to prejudge an official inquiry into the LCP, the Health Secretary said ‘one or two’ mistakes should not be allowed to discredit the entire end-of-life system.

But Elspeth Chowdharay-Best of Alert, an anti-euthanasia group, said: ‘The Pathway is designed to finish people off double quick. It is a lethal pathway.

‘Mr Hunt has made a nonsense of the claim of his ministers that there is going to be an independent inquiry.’

The review follows a public outcry over a string of disturbing cases, highlighted by this paper, in which patients or their families were ignored.

The pathway involves withdrawal of lifesaving treatment, with the sick sedated and usually denied nutrition and fluids. Death typically takes place within 29 hours.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]