Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120218

Financial Crisis
»16% Fewer Italians Went on Holiday Last Year
»China’s Xi Says EU Debt Problems Are ‘Temporary’
»Greedy Euro MPs Demand Pay Rise as the EU Falls Apart
»Saga of the Northwest Passage: Discovering Evidence of an Ill-Fated Mission in the Frigid Waters of the Arctic
Europe and the EU
»Children Forced to Shout ‘Long Live Sarkozy!’ When French President Visited School
»Italy: Executives Given 16 Years for Asbestos Deaths
»Italy: Prosecutors Request Another Berlusconi Indictment
»Swede Saved After Months in Snowed-in Car
»UK: Boy, 7, Accused of Racist Slur at Griffin Primary School
»UK: Eccles Sex-Slave Trial Girl Was ‘Stabbed for Smiling at Man’, Court Told
»UK: Gypsy Site Row Linked to Holocaust
»UK: Hate Crime Prosecutions Reach Record High
»UK: Lutfur Rahman Mayor of Poverty-Hit Council Hires Adviser in £1,000-a-Day Deal
»UK: West Midlands Hate Crime Prosecutions Falling
Israel and the Palestinians
»New Prostitution Law Deters Clients
Middle East
»Christians in Syria Need Your Help Today
»Love at Work “Normal” For 73% of Turkish Managers
»Women: Parents in Qatar Don’t Want Women School Teachers
South Asia
»Heroin Production in Afghanistan Has Risen by 61%
»Nepal Mob Burns ‘Witch’ Alive in Horrifying Attack
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Human Evolution: Cultural Roots
»South Africa: Witchcraft Fans Mob Man Claiming to be Reincarnated Singer Abducted by Zombies
»Zimbabwe: Zanu PF Witchcraft Case Continues
Latin America
»Brazilian Cardinal Slams Euro-Centric Catholic Church
»‘Immigrant Crimewave’ Warning: East Europeans Were Responsible for a Quarter of All Offenses in London
»UK: Violent Sex Attacker Deported
Culture Wars
»Former Rutgers Student Faces Hate Crime Trial
»UK: Equalities Chief Accuses Christians of Trying to Impose Their Own Form of ‘Sharia’ Law
»UK: Scotland Yard Holds Politically Correct Poetry Contest

Financial Crisis

16% Fewer Italians Went on Holiday Last Year

23.5 mln had to stay home because of economic crunch

(ANSA) — Rome, February 13 — Some 16% fewer Italians went on holiday in 2011 than in 2010, a survey said Monday.

“Going on holiday, compared to 2010, was tougher because of the continuation of the global economic and financial crisis,” said the report from the National Tourism Observatory.

The survey said almost 27 million Italisn went on holiday and 23.5 million didn’t.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

China’s Xi Says EU Debt Problems Are ‘Temporary’

(DUBLIN) — China believes the EU’s economic problems are temporary and it will continue to support the bloc’s efforts to deal with its debts, leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping said Saturday ahead of a visit to Ireland. “China does not think one should ‘talk down’ or ‘short’ to Europe, because we believe that the difficulties facing Europe are temporary,” the vice president, expected to lead China from next year, told the Irish Times.

“The EU and the governments and people across Europe have the ability, the wisdom, and the means to solve the sovereign debt problem and achieve economic recovery and growth.” Xi said that as the world’s largest economy and Beijing’s biggest trading partner, the European Union was important for China and would become even more so with the continued expansion of bilateral cooperation.

“China takes its relationship with Europe as one of the strategic priorities of its diplomacy, and supports the process of European integration and the efforts of EU members, Ireland included, to overcome difficulties and achieve economic recovery,” he told the newspaper.

“We have offered sincere help to our European friends in line with our means, through increased mutual investment and business cooperation.

“China will continue to support, in its own way, efforts of the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in addressing the European debt problem. “A Europe that is united, stable and prosperous will definitely make a valuable contribution to the strong, balanced and sustainable growth of the world economy.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greedy Euro MPs Demand Pay Rise as the EU Falls Apart

GRASPING Euro MPs sparked fury last night by demanding a pay rise of up to three per cent.

As the eurozone teeters on the brink of catastrophe and Britain is forced to tighten its belt, the shameless demand added to the growing clamour for us to pull out of the EU. The basic salary of an MEP is already £82,915 a year, compared with £64,766 for an MP at Westminster. Euro MPs can also rake in £360,000 in expenses.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Saga of the Northwest Passage: Discovering Evidence of an Ill-Fated Mission in the Frigid Waters of the Arctic

It was well past midnight this past July and the round-the-clock Arctic sun was shining on Mercy Bay. Exhausted Parks Canada archaeologist Ryan Harris was experiencing a rare moment of rest on the rocky beach, looking out over the bay’s dark, ice-studded water. Around him, a dozen red-and-yellow tents lined the shoreline-the only signs of life. Every day for the previous two weeks, work had started by mid-morning and continued nonstop for 16 hours. Night and day had little relevance in the murky, near-freezing waters. Along with Parks Canada’s chief of underwater archaeology, Marc-Andre Bernier, Harris has overseen more than 100 dives at this remote inlet of Banks Island in Aulavik National Park, exploring the wreck of HMS Investigator, a British vessel that has sat on the bottom of the bay for more than 160 years.

Harris and a small team of archaeologists had discovered Investigator in 2010 and returned in 2011 with a larger team to dive, study, and document the wreck, which holds a critical place in the history of Arctic exploration. Twenty-five feet below the surface, Investigator sits upright, intact, and remarkably well preserved. Silt covers everything below the main deck, entombing the officers’ cabins, the ship’s galley, and a full library. The archaeologists had intended to leave the wreck and its artifacts where they had lain since the polar ship was abandoned, trapped in ice, on June 3, 1853. Artifact recovery was not part of their original plan, but that plan changed after their first few dives.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Children Forced to Shout ‘Long Live Sarkozy!’ When French President Visited School

The French president has caused an outcry after dozens of infant school children were forced to chant ‘Long Live Sarkozy!’ when he visited their school.

Parents complained about the youngsters being used as ‘propaganda tools’ after they were made to treat Nicolas Sarkozy as a hero, waving Tricolour flags and constantly shouting his name.

Some were even kissed by Mr Sarkozy, who is hugely unpopular and widely expected to lose the presidential election being held in France in the Spring.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Executives Given 16 Years for Asbestos Deaths

Swiss billionaire Schmidheiny one of two bosses found guilty

(ANSA) — Turin, February — Two former heads of cement company Eternit were given 16-year jail sentences by a court here on Monday for asbestos-linked tumours among the Italian workforce of the multinational.

Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, 64, and former Eternit managing director and Belgian executive Baron Louis de Cartier de Marchienne, 90, were found guilty of failing to ensure adequate safety measures at two asbestos-cement plants the now-defunct Eternit ran in Italy up to the 1980s.

Some relatives of victims burst into tears in court when the sentence was read for the world’s largest-ever trial into asbestos-related deaths and illnesses.

“It’s a sentence that you can call truly historic for its social aspects and for its technical and legal ones,” said Health Minister Renato Balduzzi. Prosecutors said that around 2,100 people have died from asbestos-linked tumours among Eternit staff, their families and people living near the factories affected by asbestos dust in the air, while hundreds more are ill.

Schmidheiny and de Cartier were found guilty for the conditions at the plants Eternit ran in Casale Monferrato and at Cavagnolo near Turin.

Jail sentences in Italy are not usually served until the appeals process has been exhausted. The Turin court ruled the statute of limitations had expired on any wrongdoing at Eternit plants at Bagnoli near Naples and at Rubiera near Reggio Emilia.

The court also awarded damages to hundreds of victims’ families, with the average amount being around 30,000 euros.

There were also big damage payouts awarded to the councils of Casale Monferrato (25 million euros), Cavagnolo (four million), the Piedmont regional government (20 million) and national workplace accident and professional illness insurance fund INAIL (15 million). Employees and their families have long claimed that Eternit did little or nothing to protect its workers and residents living around its factories from the dangers of asbestos.

Many contend that the company, which pulled out of the asbestos business more than a decade ago, never warned its employees of the dangers of working with asbestos.

According to Turin Prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello, who has been probing the deaths since 2002, Eternit’s products were also used to pave streets and courtyards or as roof insulation in the towns around the factories without warnings about the dangers of asbestos, resulting in decades-long exposure for the local population.

In 1993, four of Eternit’s former Casale Monferrato managers were convicted of wilfully neglecting safety regulations and given sentences of up to three and a half years on suits filed by 137 workers.

In 2006, Eternit set up a fund of 1.25 million Swiss francs to help former employees in Switzerland who are suffering from asbestos-related illnesses.

In October the multinational agreed to pay out almost nine million euros in compensation to workers at another asbestos-cement plant in the Sicilian town of Siracusa.

According to the Institute for Workplace Protection and Security (ISPESL), Italy used more than 20 million tonnes of asbestos before it was banned in 1992 and until the late 1980s was one of the largest producers and importers of asbestos.

ISPESL says Italy is one of the western countries worst hit by asbestos-related illnesses, with around 1,350 cases of mesothelioma reported each year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Prosecutors Request Another Berlusconi Indictment

Case regards alleged fraud at Mediaset subsidiary Mediatrade

(ANSA) — Rome, February 16 — Former premier Silvio Berlusconi could face a fifth criminal trial after Rome prosecutors on Thursday requested he be indicted along with 11 other people for alleged fraud at a subsidiary of his Mediaset broadcasting empire.

Berlusconi was acquitted of a similar case in Milan, also concerning alleged wrongdoing in the trading of film rights by the Mediatrade subsidiary, in Milan in October.

The other people prosecutors requested be sent to trial included Berlusconi’s son Pier Silvio and Egyptian-born director and producer Frank Agrama.

They are suspected of arranging for Mediatrade to buy film rights at inflated rates, with a part of the fees being fed back into offshore accounts to dodge taxes.

If a preliminary judge agrees to send the case to trial, it risks being timed out next year as the most recent of alleged acts of wrongdoing date back to 2005.

On Wednesday Milan prosecutors requested that Silvio Berlusconi receive a five-year prison term for allegedly bribing British tax lawyer David Mills to hush up evidence in two of the ex-premier’s previous trials.

Judges are set to hand down a sentence later this month in the case, which also risks being timed out by the statute of limitations. Berlusconi is also on trial in three other cases, all in Milan. One regards allegations he paid for sex with an underage prostitute and used his power to try to cover it up, another concerns accusations of fraud at his media empire and the third regards alleged involvement in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap.

In the ongoing and several other previous trials, Berlusconi has always denied wrongdoing, claiming he is the victim of a minority group of allegedly leftwing prosecutors and judges who he says are persecuting him for political reasons.

“It’s a judicial persecution, an unlimited operation of defamation that has made the Milan court a special court that wants to oust Berlusconi from politics and destroy him as a person,” the ex-premier told one of his Mediaset TV channels on Thursday.

In more than a dozen cases, the premier has never received a definitive conviction, sometimes because of law changes passed by his governments, while some other charges were timed out by the statute of limitations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Swede Saved After Months in Snowed-in Car

A middle-aged Swedish man has been found alive after having sat snowed under in his car for the past two months, with only ice and snow to keep him alive. The man, who is from southern Sweden, was found on Friday in his vehicle parked on a forest track near the northern town of Umeå, according to a report in the local Västerbottens-Kuriren (VK) daily.

“Absolutely incredible that he is alive, in part considering that he hasn’t had any food, but also bearing in mind that it was really cold for a while there after Christmas,” a member of the emergency services told the newspaper.

How the man managed to get stranded at the end of the forest track and how he remained undiscovered for such an extended period of time remains a mystery. The man, who is reported to have been seriously emaciated and barely able to speak or move when he was finally freed from his snowy lair, was discovered by a pair out snowmobiling.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Boy, 7, Accused of Racist Slur at Griffin Primary School

A BOY of seven is facing accusations of racism after asking a fellow pupil if he was “brown because he was from Africa”.

Elliott Dearlove asked the question of the five-year-old boy at Griffin Primary School in Barham Road, east Hull.

The younger boy’s mother complained to the school, which launched an investigation.

Elliott’s mother, Hayley White, 29, says she received a phone call to say her son had been at the centre of a “racist incident”.

She was summoned to the school by her son’s teacher, where she was read the school’s zero-tolerance policy on racism.

Miss White, an NHS healthcare worker, said: “Elliott does not even know the meaning of the word racist.

“The policy made clear that racism would not be tolerated.

“But this was not racism. It was simply curiosity from a seven-year-old boy, nothing more.”

Miss White said her son was left in tears after she spoke to him.

She said: “Elliott kept saying to me, ‘I was just asking a question. I didn’t mean it to be nasty’.

“He was extremely distressed by it all.”

Miss White says she was led to the head teacher’s office, where she was asked to sign a form.

“The form said my son had made a racist remark,” she said.

“I refused to sign it. I told the teacher I did not agree the comment was racist.

“My son is inquisitive. He always likes to asks questions. But that does not make him a racist.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Eccles Sex-Slave Trial Girl Was ‘Stabbed for Smiling at Man’, Court Told

A woman allegedly imprisoned in a cellar, raped and kept as a virtual slave while a child was stabbed in the stomach for smiling, a jury was told. The woman, who is deaf and unable to speak, is said to have been subjected to years of abuse after being trafficked into Britain from Pakistan.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Gypsy Site Row Linked to Holocaust

A row over gypsy and traveller sites sparked controversy in the council chamber this week as Conservatives were accused of “swerving close to the racist attitudes which ultimately led to the Holocaust”.

The bombshell accusation made by human rights campaigner Councillor Sarah Bevan — whose Jewish ancestors were persecuted in Nazi concentration camps.

Ms Bevan (Lib Dem, Peasedown) attacked a move by opposition Tories to block the allocation of £1.8 million for the development of new gypsy and traveller sites in B&NES.

The Conservatives said the money could be better spent on services such as affordable housing and pointed out money was being cut from the road maintenance budget.

Ms Bevan told the meeting: “If the Conservative group en masse, as quoted by its leader in the media last week, believes that those who hold the purse strings should prioritise potholes over people, some of whom may well be members of minority groups such as the Romany, it is swerving perilously close to the kind of low level, insidious racism that ultimately led to the Holocaust.”

Her comments sparked a strong reaction from the chamber as the opposition called for her to take back the remarks.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Hate Crime Prosecutions Reach Record High

A record number of people were prosecuted for racially and religiously-motivated hate crimes in England and Wales last year.

Some 13,276 people came before the courts for such crimes in 2010-11. The Crown Prosecution Service said many had involved assaults or verbal abuse.

Of the cases that concluded last year, more than 80% resulted in convictions.

The prosecutions total is the highest since hate crime statistics were first compiled in 2005-06.

In all, the CPS brought 15,284 hate crime prosecutions, also including cases where people were apparently targeted based on sexuality or disability, or for being transsexual or transgender.

The vast majority of prosecutions — 12,711 — were for racially-motivated offences.

The proportion of guilty pleas in hate crime cases has crept up over the last couple of years, which Mr Starmer said showed prosecutors were building stronger cases.

“The increase in guilty pleas benefits the victims of these crimes, many of whom would find giving evidence a stressful ordeal,” he said.

Figures also showed a record number of people — 2,822 — prosecuted for crimes against older people.

These were calculated separately from the hate crimes total because there is no statutory definition of a crime against an older person.

Mervyn Kohler, of Age UK, said: “The escalating crime numbers is more likely to reflect the growing — and welcome — sophistication of the police and the CPS in this field, rather than signal a systemically ageist society.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Lutfur Rahman Mayor of Poverty-Hit Council Hires Adviser in £1,000-a-Day Deal

One of the poorest boroughs in London today came under fire for spending £1,000 a day on a personal aide for its mayor.

Tony Winterbottom is an “executive adviser” on regeneration and development to Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of Tower Hamlets who was ousted from the Labour Party over alleged links to Islamic extremists.

Local government secretary Eric Pickles accused Mr Rahman of wasting taxpayer money. He said: “It is astonishing that one of the poorest boroughs in the country sees fit to squander such colossal amounts of public cash in this way.

“Tower Hamlets seems to be living the ultimate champagne socialist lifestyle, leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab. I fail to see the business case for shelling out this money, which should be diverted towards protecting frontline services.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: West Midlands Hate Crime Prosecutions Falling

The number of hate crime prosecutions in the West Midlands fell by 10% last year, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The CPS said it prosecuted 1,417 cases of hate crime in 2010/11, with a conviction rate of 83% — a rise of 6%.

Hate crime included incidents where race, religion, sexual orientation or disability were a factor.

The CPS said the drop was “encouraging” but could be due to fewer crimes being reported.

Peter Tooke, from the CPS, said: “We are concerned that much hate crime is never reported to the police, particularly where the victim is disabled or a member of a Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender community.”

He said the CPS would take special measures where victims or witnesses felt vulnerable or intimidated about giving evidence.

These included giving evidence from behind a screen or from another room via a TV link.

Racist and religious crime accounted for 1,237 of the prosecutions in 2010/11, 113 were for homophobic or transphobic crime, and 67 involved disability hate crime.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

New Prostitution Law Deters Clients

Recidivists to be jailed for up to six months

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, FEBRUARY 15 — The Knesset (Israeli Parliament) today started the examination of a new and stricter law against prostitution. The law includes various measures meant to deter possible clients, like six months of detention for recidivists. The law is based on Swedish model and was developed by two MPs of the opposition (Orit Suarez of Kadima and Zahava Galon of Meretz). On Sunday it received the open support of the centre-right government of Benyamin Netanyahu.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Christians in Syria Need Your Help Today

Barnabas Fund is today launching a crisis appeal for Christians in Syria who are hungry and helpless amid the brutal fighting between government troops and rebels.

The key battleground of Homs is encircled by fighters from both sides, leaving the Christians there and in the surrounding villages — approximately 100,000 — in the firing line, many of them trapped in the city.

First orphans and now whole families are being evacuated, and are in desperate need of food and basics. Prices have rocketed, supplies are running low, and it is often too dangerous to go out in search of food. Even in some parts of the country not directly affected by violence, there is inflation of 30-50%, while in Homs itself some prices have tripled.

More than 200 Christians have been killed, and the community has been beset by a series of kidnappings. The rebels make high ransom demands for the return of the captives, but in two known cases the victims’ bodies were found after the money had been paid. Some families are now becoming so desperate that they tell the kidnappers to kill their loved one immediately rather than subjecting them to torture.

Barnabas Fund is one of the very few Christian aid agencies helping Christians in Syria at this tumultuous time. We are working directly with Christian partners in the country to get urgent supplies to needy families.

There are two million Christians in Syria, around ten per cent of the population. Among them are thousands of Iraqi Christian refugees who have been forced from their homeland by anti-Christian violence and persecution, and are already in desperate need…


If you would like to help Christians affected by the unrest in the Middle East, please send your donation to the Middle East Fund (project 00-1032). Donate Online using our secure server.

If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project reference Middle East Fund (project 00-1032).

If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote project reference Middle East Fund (project 00-1032).

For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) text Barnabas/1032 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Love at Work “Normal” For 73% of Turkish Managers

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, FEBRUARY 15 — An online survey conducted by the Turkey Personnel Management Foundation (PERYON), on the eve of Valentine’s Day, found that 73% of Turkish managers believed that love in the workplace was “natural,” as Anatolia news agency reports. The survey, which interviewed a sample of 170 middle and upper level managers from 30 different sectors in Turkey, found that 73% considered intra-office relationships totally natural. 17% found that it was wrong and 10% were undecided. The survey also found that 74% of offices allowed husbands and wives to be employed in the same office. Furthermore, only one out of four companies has a special policy regarding husband and wife employment. Of those that do have a policy, only 55% have had such a policy in place for five years or longer. Only one out of 10 companies force their employees to resign if they marry someone from the same office. Meanwhile, the survey also discovered that 70% of employers trust employees who have a spouse working for a rival corporation. 72% also feel that it should not be prohibited for spouses to work in the same company, although not in the same department or in subordinate positions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Women: Parents in Qatar Don’t Want Women School Teachers

Afraid that their sons will become too feminine

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, FEBRUARY 15 — In Qatar, where the Non-Aligned Movement holds a meeting these days to discuss women’s right and approve a document to promote these rights, many parents disapprove of women teaching at primary school.

These parents, a majority, don’t want their sons to have women teachers because they fear this will make them more feminine.

Having women teach elementary school lessons is generally seen as a way to reassure children, making the absence of their mother less traumatic. But parents in Qatar fear that their young sons will start imitating the behaviour of the adult teachers, taking on female habits and behaviour if they are not taught by a male teacher. “Male teachers are the best on all levels of education. Boys have trouble taking on male characteristics with women teaching them,” said Abu Abul Rahaman, a parent in Qatar, in an interview published by the Qatar newspaper Al-Sharq.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Heroin Production in Afghanistan Has Risen by 61%

The West is losing the heroin war in Afghanistan — ten years after Tony Blair pledged that wiping out the drug was one of the main reasons for invading the country.

Despite spending £18billion and a conflict which has so far cost the lives of almost 400 British troops, production of the class-A drug by Afghan farmers rose between 2001 and 2011 from just 185 tons to a staggering 5,800 tons.

It increased by 61 per cent last year alone.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Nepal Mob Burns ‘Witch’ Alive in Horrifying Attack

A mob burned alive a 40-year-old woman on Friday after accusing her of casting black magic spells in a remote village in southern Nepal, police said.

Dengani Mahato died after she was severely beaten, doused in kerosene and set alight for allegedly practising witchcraft, Gopal Bhandari, a superintendent of police in Chitwan district, said.

“Nine people started to beat her after a local shaman pointed the finger at her over the death of a boy a year ago,” the officer said.

“They accused her of having hands in the death of the boy, who had drowned in a river.”

Hundreds of lower-caste women are thought to suffer abuse at the hands of “witch hunters” every year in Nepal, where superstition and caste-based discrimination remain rife

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Human Evolution: Cultural Roots

A team made up of archaeologists, climate modelers, and palaeoclimatologists will look at correlations between climate and changes in human culture some 70,000 years ago, when the Earth began to cool, sea levels fell, and the population of modern humans dropped dramatically. Archaeologist Chris Henshilwood of the University of Bergen in Norway leads the team. This article in Nature describes his work at Blombos Cave on South Africa’s Southern Cape, a testing ground for the project.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Africa: Witchcraft Fans Mob Man Claiming to be Reincarnated Singer Abducted by Zombies

A South African man who claims to be a famous Zulu folk singer returned from the dead after being held captive by zombies for the past two years has been detained on suspicion of fraud.

The unnamed man turned up last week saying he was the award-winning musician Khulekani “Mgqumeni” Khumalo, who died in 2009. He reportedly convinced several members of Mr Khumalo’s family — including two of his wives, his grandmother and grandfather, who unveiled the man as his long-lost relative on Sunday.

The public appearance drew thousands of fans to the singer’s rural family home in the northern KwaZulu-Natal province, where the man used a loudspeaker to announce his “resurrection”, according to the South African newspaper, The Times.

“I am Mgqumeni. And I know that some of you might not believe, but yes, it’s true — it is me,” the man told his audience. He said he had been a victim of witchcraft and that the zombies had forced him to sing and eat mud during his ordeal. He claimed to have woken up in a field in Johannesburg last week before finally making his way back home.

“I have been suffering a lot at the place where I was kept with zombies. It was hell there and I am so grateful that I was able to free myself and return to my family and you, my supporters,” he said. Police reportedly resorted to using water cannon in an attempt to contain the crowds vying to catch a glimpse of the man.

Faith in witchcraft is common in rural South Africa.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Zimbabwe: Zanu PF Witchcraft Case Continues

The case in which senior Zanu PF officials are accusing each other of witchcraft in the fight to land candidacy in the forthcoming elections continued on Friday with the accused applying for discharge at the close of the State’s case.

Complainants in the case include war veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba, Zanu PF politiburo member Kumbirai Kangai and Buhera North MP William Mtomba, who accuse Buhera district chairman Zvenyika Machokoto and his wife Judith Modzeri of attempting to kill them through witchcraft.

The accused couple is facing charges of conspiring to engage in practices commonly associated with witchcraft as defined in section 98(1) of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

They are alleged to have hired the services of Jimmy Motsi an exhumer who recently made headlines in leading exhumation processes of the fallen heroes. Motsi was allegedly tasked with wiping out senior party members to pave way for Machokoto’s ascendency in party structures in the province.

Machokoto is alleged to have said in his ritual prayers that the complainants were a stumbling block to his political ambitions and the only way to land candidacy for a parliamentary seat, was through casting spells on them all.

At the close of the defence case on Friday, a member of the ZRP, Jokonia Nyakudya, left the court in stitches after he confirmed that during the rituals he purportedly acted as a prophet so as to record the proceedings when Motsi was expected to cast a spell on the complainants.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Brazilian Cardinal Slams Euro-Centric Catholic Church

(VATICAN CITY) — Joao Braz de Aviz, the sole Latin American among 22 newly created Catholic cardinals, on Saturday criticised the Church for being too Euro-centric. “Europe should go back to showing a more fraternal attitude towards other continents and stop looking down on the others,” Braz de Aviz said in an interview with the Vatican-watching news agency I.Media.

“How much longer are we going to be led by Europe and the United States?” demanded Braz de Aviz, elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in a solemn ceremony at Saint Peter’s Basilica on Saturday. “You can no longer think that Latin America, Asia and Africa haven’t changed, that they are still colonies or the Third World,” he said.

The more universal the College of Cardinals, “the better it will represent the Church. We’ve already done a lot in this direction, but we must continue,” added Braz de Aviz, 64. The Latin American region has the world’s largest concentration of Catholics.

Some critics point to the preponderance of Europeans, especially Italians, in the Church hierarchy, notably the College of Cardinals, as evidence of the pope’s Western bias. Critics say the appointments show a strong bias towards Europe, as out of the 125 cardinals under age 80 — “elector cardinals” eligible to elect the pope in a secret conclave — 67 are from Europe.

A mere 22 are from South America, 15 from North America, 11 from Africa and 10 from Asia and the Pacific. Moreover, the induction of seven Italians in Benedict’s fourth consistory brings to 30 the number of Italian elector cardinals — almost a quarter of the total, far outweighing any other country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


‘Immigrant Crimewave’ Warning: East Europeans Were Responsible for a Quarter of All Offenses in London

Eastern European criminals were responsible for more than 11,000 crimes in London last year.

Nationals of Poland, Romania and Lithuania are most likely of all foreigners to be prosecuted by the police, an investigation has revealed.

Overall, foreigners are accused of one in four of all crimes committed in London.

Astonishingly, they make up nine out of ten drug suspects and are responsible for more than one in three sex offences.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Violent Sex Attacker Deported

A violent sex attacker who continued to commit crimes while using human rights laws to fight efforts to deport him has been sent back to Sierra Leone.

A senior immigration judge ruled five years ago that Mohamed Kendeh, who admitted indecently assaulting 11 women between 2002 and 2007, should be allowed to stay in the UK because he arrived aged six and had virtually no family left in West Africa.

But he went on to be jailed again for robbery in 2009, prompting renewed efforts to deport him, and the 25-year-old was finally sent back to Freetown on Sunday, the Home Office said.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Former Rutgers Student Faces Hate Crime Trial

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Friday in the trial of Dharun Ravi. The former Rutgers University student is charged with using a webcam to spy on his roommate Tyler Clementi, who later committed suicide. Ravi faces 15 counts. The most serious charge, bias intimidation, is a hate crime, which carries a possible sentence of 10 years in prison.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: We may never know why Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge in September of 2010. But we do know that initial media reports about the case were wrong in several important respects.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: The young man who leapt from a bridge after his college roommate secretly broadcast his gay sexual encounter live over the Internet.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: After his roommate videotaped him being intimate with another man and put it on the Internet. CBS News national correspondents…

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: He was outed as being gay on the Internet, and he killed himself.

ROSE: In fact, Tyler Clementi had already come out, at least to his family and some friends. And the reality of what happened in the freshman dorm room he shared with Dharun Ravi is also more complex than it first appeared. Ravi allegedly set up a webcam to spy on Clementi while he was hugging and kissing another man.

But Ravi’s lawyers say the resulting images were seen by just a few people and were never broadcast anywhere. Here’s defense attorney Steven Altman, speaking to reporters after a pretrial hearing in December.

STEVEN ALTMAN: Simple principle of law, simple principle of life: He’s innocent. He’s not guilty. That’s why he rejected the plea.

ROSE: Ravi turned down a plea deal that could have kept him out of jail. Instead, he’s set to go to trial on 15 counts, including invasion of privacy. The most serious charge is bias intimidation, a hate crime which carries a possible sentence of 10 years in prison.

The prosecution’s case may rest on a long chain of electronic messages from the computers of both men that were made public. They paint Ravi — who was then a 19-year-old from suburban Plainsboro, New Jersey — as both disgusted and fascinated by Clementi’s sexual orientation.

SUZANNE GOLDBERG: It seems clear that Ravi would not have done what he did had Tyler Clementi not been gay. On the other hand, college students do many stupid things, and not all of them are hate crimes.

ROSE: Suzanne Goldberg directs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. She says this is a complex case that will be watched closely.

GOLDBERG: The prosecutor’s decision to charge this as a hate crime has been a wakeup call for prosecutors around the country, saying look at these seriously. The fact that somebody uses a webcam does not insulate the actions from being as hateful as somebody using a can of spray paint to spray a swastika on somebody’s home, for example.

ROSE: Gay rights activists pushed hard for hate crimes charges, which they hope will send a strong message to other would-be bullies. But not everyone thinks the charges are appropriate. Marc Poirier teaches law at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

MARC POIRIER: It simply doesn’t fit the standard model of hate crimes. It’s intrusive. It strikes me as stupid roommate stuff. But none of that is particularly violent. Throwing the book at him — at least with regard to the hate crimes, which is what I’m focused on — is problematic.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Equalities Chief Accuses Christians of Trying to Impose Their Own Form of ‘Sharia’ Law

Christians who argue they should be exempt from equalities legislation are no different from Muslims who want to impose sharia law in Britain, a human rights chief has declared.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, said religious rules should end ‘at the door of the temple’ and give way to the ‘public law’ laid down by Parliament.

He said Catholic adoption agencies should drop their opposition to accepting gay couples — even if it conflicts with their religious beliefs — because they were providing a public service.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Scotland Yard Holds Politically Correct Poetry Contest

Scotland Yard officers have been asked to enter a poetry competition on the theme of ‘gender equality’.

The prize is a chance to have ‘elevenses’ with the Met’s head of diversity Denise Milani, who is renowned in Britain’s biggest police force for her touchy-feely initiatives.

Officers are told their poems must focus on ‘recruitment, retention or progression’ at the Yard, creating a ‘gender-sensitive working environment’ or ‘successfully managing gender-diverse teams’.

They must also provide Miss Milani, 54, with insight on the progress made with the ‘Gender Agenda’ from a male or female perspective and suggest a ‘positive vision’ for the Met.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]