Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120303

Financial Crisis
»EU Agencies Rebuked Over Spending
»Euro-Area Jobless Rate Keeps on Breaking Records
»Greek Antiquities Reburied for Lack of Funds: Report
»Irish Referendum to Focus on Euro Membership
»Italian Workers Paid Half as Much as Germans
»Italy: Fight Against Evasion Can Lead to Lower Taxes, Says Monti
»Ratings Agency Downgrades Greece to Lowest Credit Rating
»Death Toll Rises as Tornados Devastate US Towns
»Environmentalists and Government Extremism
»Fanning Racial Fires
»Islam Uber Alles
»Morgan Stanley Exec Charged With Hate Crime
»New Breed of Strawberry is Deep Purple
»New York Civil Rights Violation Lawyer From the Perecman Firm Condemns Muslim Hate Crime
»Radical Theory of First Americans Places Stone Age Europeans in Delmarva 20,000 Years Ago
»Remembering the Alamo
»Rick Warren Builds Bridge to Muslims
»Three Occupy Oakland Protesters Arrested for Robbery and a Hate Crime, Both Felonies
»Why Loneliness Can be Deadly
»Will America Survive?
Europe and the EU
»German Minister Calls for Elected European President
»How to Get Rid of a Tax-Magnet Supercar
»Hungarian PM Questions European Commission’s ‘Legitimacy’
»Italy: Work on High-Speed Link to Continue, Says Industry Minister
»Italy: Career of Department Head Who Operated on Training Dummies
»Marchionne Urges Greater Labor Flexibility
»Support Dips for Danish Leader
»Swede Denied Right to Call Himself ‘Black Work’
»Sweden: Suspects Planned to ‘Kill as Many as Possible’
»Swedish Schools Deploy Drug Sniffing Dogs
»UK: A Witchcraft Scandal on Our Doorstep
»UK: Bus Driver on the 192 Takes Student Sex Pest Syed Abbas Straight to Longsight Police Station
»UK: Eight Charged Over £2.3m Olympic Delivery Authority Fraud
»UK: I Saw Girl Forced to Go With Men, Rochdale Sex Grooming Trial Jury is Told
»UK: Police Hunt Serial Sex Trafficker
»UK: Police Let Foreign Crime Suspects Go Due to Lack of Interpreters
»UK: Two Days of Violence Sees Three Teenagers Stabbed in Separate Attacks in Wembley and Sudbury
»Welcome to Britain, Where All People Are Protected From Prejudice, Unless They Are White
»Witchcraft Warning From UK Social Workers
»Croatian Student Fined for Offence to EU Flag
Middle East
»Iran: Please Tweet for Youcef
»Obama Warns Against Pre-Emptive Iran Strike
»Proper “Apologizing” To Islamdom: A Timeless Lesson for US Leadership
»Saving Muslims From Themselves
»Fiat Signs Letter of Intent With Russia’s Sberbank
»Gazprom to Challenge EU Energy Liberalisation Law
South Asia
»Salim Mansur: Outrage Merits Condemnation, Not Apology
»Terzi Says Boat-Shooting Marines Should Have Immunity
Far East
»Snow Leopard Poop Reveals Endangered Cats’ Meals
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Sangoma: Bafana Can Win
»The 7/7 Widow and a Boom in British Jihad
»Plan for Roma Integration Approved by Italian Government
»Rapid Rise in Babies Born to Migrants Will ‘Give Britain One of Europe’s Youngest Populations by 2035’
Culture Wars
»Clooney and Pitt Join Star-Studded Gay Play
»Gender Identity Issues Can Harm Kids’ Mental Health: Study
»Hollywood’s Cultural Revolution is Making Gay Marriage Inevitable
»Sex Change: Early Diagnosis of Gender-Identity Disorder Has Doctors Facing Tough Decisions
»UK Equalities Minister Backs Transgender Festival
»UK: We’ll Mock Jesus But Not Mohammed, Says BBC Boss
»Tools May Have Been First Money

Financial Crisis

EU Agencies Rebuked Over Spending

BRUSSELS — An MEP tasked with looking at how EU money is spent in the bloc’s 24 independent agencies has caused a stir with her preliminary findings on conflicts of interest and questions about whether the agencies are useful.

With a total budget of €1.5 billion, some of the 24 independent agencies have real powers such as certifying chemicals in use in the EU or establishing binding aviation standards, others a purely advisory role on issues ranging from gender studies to health at work.

They were all established because member states decided so — most of them in the past ten years. Apart from checking how they manage their accounts, Romanian MEP Monica Macovei — a former justice minister and anti-corruption campaigner — says the very existence of some of these agencies should be questioned when they only produce reports.

“The main objective of this report is to have a clear picture of the usefulness of these agencies from a cost-efficiency point of view and to start the discussion if we really need all these agencies at a time of austerity and budget cuts,” she told a press conference on Wednesday (29 February).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Euro-Area Jobless Rate Keeps on Breaking Records

The jobless rate in the 17 euro countries rose in January to 10.7%, the highest level since the introduction of the common currency in 1999, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat announced Thursday. Spain reported the highest on 23.3%. In total 24.3 million were unemployed in the EU in January 2012.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greek Antiquities Reburied for Lack of Funds: Report

Lack of funding in crisis-hit Greece has stymied archaeological research and leads experts to rebury valuable discoveries to better protect them, a Greek daily reported on Friday. “Mother Earth is the best protector of our antiquities,” Michalis Tiverios, a professor of archaeology at Thessaloniki’s Aristotelio University, told Ta Nea daily on the sidelines of an annual archaeological congress in the city.

Tiverios recently persuaded the culture ministry to rebury a previously-unknown Early Christian basilica, found two years ago during work on Thessaloniki’s new underground railway. “Let us leave our antiquities in the soil, to be found by archaeologists in 10,000 AD, when Greeks and their politicians will perhaps show more respect to their history,” said Tiverios, who advises the project.

But even in that case, a shortage of site guards is giving antiquities looters a free hand to operate, Ta Nea said. “We were unable to carry out excavations in 2011,” Pavlos Chrysostomou, a site excavation supervisor in northern Greece, told the newspaper. “This summer, we found more than 10 pits at the site that were not ours. It was probably ‘colleagues’ of ours, grave robbers,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Irish Referendum to Focus on Euro Membership

“The public will be focusing on the question on the ballot paper — do they wish to be members of Europe, the euro and the eurozone?” Irish leader Enda Kenny told press in Brussels on Friday. The question and exact referendum date are yet to be fixed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italian Workers Paid Half as Much as Germans

Wages in Greece and Cyprus also higher than in Italy. Gross wages lower only in Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia

MILAN — Unemployment, especially among young people, is a serious problem in Italy. But even those who do have a permanent job aren’t living in luxury and not just because of the tax and national insurance burden. Italy’s average wages are among Europe’s lowest, behind even earnings in Greece. In absolute terms, Italian salaries are higher only than those in Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia and Portugal, none of which are in any way comparable to Italy in size or industrial development.

RANKING — The ranking that emerges from the Eurostat figures published in the recent Labour Market Statistics report, bases its findings on 2009 data from companies with at least ten employees. From the data gathered, it emerges that Italian workers earned an average of €23,406 in 2009, about half of the figure for Luxembourg (€48,914), Holland (€44,412) and Germany (€41,100). Behind these come Ireland (€39,858), Finland (€39,197), France (€33,574) and Austria (€33,384). However, the most surprising revelation is that there are higher levels of pay in two severely crisis-stricken countries, Greece (€29,160) and Spain (€26,316), which are followed by Cyprus (€24,775).

PROGRESS — Eurostat also reports the average annual gross pay in EU countries for the years preceding the most recent update (2009), showing how wages have increased. Growth has been slower in Italy than in most other countries. The figure of 3.3% lags far behind Spain’s 29.4% or Portugal’s 22% while even countries starting from a higher baseline report significant wage growth: Luxembourg (+16.1%), Holland (+14.7%), Belgium (+11%), France (+10%) and Germany (+6.2%).


English translation by Giles Watson

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

Italy: Fight Against Evasion Can Lead to Lower Taxes, Says Monti

Premier believes ‘more can and must’ be done to catch dodgers

(ANSA) — Rome, February 28 — Premier Mario Monti said on Tuesday that Italy must increase the pressure on tax evaders so that the fiscal burden can be lower for the rest of the country.

With cash needed to balance the budget by 2013 and emerge from the debt crisis, Premier Mario Monti has launched a big drive to end widespread tax evasion in Italy.

This has featured high-profile operations at luxury resorts and exclusive stores and nightclubs in big cities and a hard-hitting TV advertising campaign.

Italy’s inland revenue agency, the Agenzia delle Entrate, also plans to introduce a new system to find evaders by cross-checking incomes and spending by the end of June.

Monti now wants to increase the pressure further to be able to bring the tax burden back down after passing a series of tax increases in December as part of the government’s emergency austerity package.

To this end he has set up a new evasion task force featuring senior figures from the economy ministry and the Agenzia delle Entrate. “The recovery (of money) from evasion must become an instrument with which to improve the efficiency of the economic system in a fairer framework,” said Monti, who is also economy minister in his emergency administration of technocrats.

“We have to continue with renewed strength because if everyone declares what they should, taxes can be lower for everyone,” he added after a meeting of the task force. “Last year 12 billion euros were recovered thanks to the police and the Agenzia delle Entrate. But more can and must be done”. The Agenzia delle Entrate last year estimated that around 120 billion euros’ worth of undeclared business was done on the Italian underground economy each year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Ratings Agency Downgrades Greece to Lowest Credit Rating

The ratings agency Moody’s has downgraded Greece to the lowest rating on its bond scale. The agency lowered Greece’s rating to C from Ca, warning that the risk of default remained high after a recent EU debt deal. Greece was further downgraded by Moody’s ratings agency late on Friday to the lowest rating on its bond scale.

The agency said it had lowered Greece’s sovereign rating from Ca to C in the wake of a recent EU deal to write off 107 billion euros ($141.3 billion) of Greek sovereign debt which will see private investors incur major losses. Greece is still facing default, Moody’s warned, even if a bond-swap deal with banks and other private investors is successful.

“Looking ahead, the EU program and proposed debt exchanges will reduce Greece’s debt burden, but the risk of a default even after the debt exchange has been completed remains high,” Moody’s said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Death Toll Rises as Tornados Devastate US Towns

At least 27 people have been killed and one small town devastated as more than 80 tornados swept across the central United States. It was the second deadly string of tornados this week. Powerful storms stretching from the US Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes in the north killed at least 27 people on Friday, blowing apart homes and flattening buildings. Some 83 tornados were reported to the National Weather Service in seven states across the country.

The week’s twister total now stands at 133 and more are expected with a “particularly dangerous” tornado watch set to continue until early Saturday in four states. “This is a particularly dangerous situation,” the NWS warned. Among the worst hit was the US state of Indiana were authorities confirmed the deaths of 14 people. A further 12 people were killed in Kentucky and one in Ohio. In Indiana the small town of Marysville near the Tennessee border was almost entirely destroyed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Environmentalists and Government Extremism

Environmentalists and government officials introduced wolves into Montana’s Yellowstone Park in January of 1995 and the “wolves” numbers have grown out of control. As a result elk and deer populations are being destroyed. During a speech on January 13, 2001 at Mammoth Hotel in West Yellowstone exactly six years and one day after helping release the first wolves into Yellowstone Park with Bozeman, Montana members of the terrorist organization, Earth First.

At this speech Interior Secretary, Bruce Babbitt (under the President Clinton Administration) bid farewell to a packed crowd. However, his visit was more than a farewell gesture. It was also a plea for ranchers to stop their campaign against wolves and other animals other than cattle that graze outside of the park.

Environmentalists in conjunction with U.S Forest Service officials are in the process of stopping public lands grazing for America’s ranchers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Fanning Racial Fires

A tutorial workshop for the upcoming FDNY entrance exam turned raucous last night when the organization that represents black firefighters — which was hosting the Queens event — turned away whites who wanted to attend.

“This is absurd,” fumed Rob, a 21-year-old who was one of about 60 whites refused entry by the Vulcan Society at MS 72 in Jamaica and whose angry reaction drew 30 NYPD cops and school safety officers.

“My dad (a firefighter) was killed on 9/11. I always wanted to be FDNY,” said Rob, who did not give his last name, as about 110 black men received a test prep inside.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Islam Uber Alles

The flag of Islam Uber Alles is flying over our cities, our governments and our foreign policy

The first law of human affairs is force. Before all other laws, the ballot box and appeals to reason is that primal law that enforces submission through violence. Islam is a religion built on that first law, forcing everyone to choose whether they will be the oppressors or the oppressed, whether they will be a Muslim or a Dhimmi.

The organizing force of Islam can be seen in urban gangs which react in much the same way to being ‘disrespected’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Morgan Stanley Exec Charged With Hate Crime

William Bryan Jennings, Morgan Stanley’s bond-underwriting chief in the U.S., was charged with a hate crime in the stabbing of a New York City cab driver of Middle Eastern descent over a fare.

Mohamed Ammar said the banker attacked him Dec. 22 with a 21/2-inch blade and used racial slurs after a 40-mile ride from New York to the banker’s $3.4 million Darien, Connecticut home.

Jennings, who had attended a bank holiday party at a boutique hotel in Manhattan before hailing the cab, refused to pay the $204 fare upon arriving in his driveway, the driver said. When Ammar threatened to call the local police, Jennings said they wouldn’t do anything to help because he pays $10,000 in taxes, according to a report by the Darien police department.

Ammar, a native of Egypt, said he then backed out of the driveway to seek a police officer. The banker called him an expletive and said “I’m going to kill you. You should go back to your country,” according to the report, filed in state court in Stamford. A fight ensued as they drove through Darien, and Jennings, 45, allegedly cut Ammar, 44, police said.

The banker, who eventually fled the cab and turned himself in two weeks later after a vacation in Florida, was charged with second-degree assault, theft of services and intimidation by bias or bigotry. He faces as long as 5 years in prison on the assault charge.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

New Breed of Strawberry is Deep Purple

Scientists aren’t content to let nature rest on its laurels when it comes to the strawberry.

Cornell University horticulturists have announced that they’ve bred a new type of strawberry called the Purple Wonder designed to stun with both its taste and its color — a deep burgundy.

“Purple Wonder is sweet and aromatic, with outstanding strawberry flavor,” Courtney Weber, a small fruits breeder and associate professor of horticulture at Cornell, said in a statement. “But the color is something you won’t be able to find in any grocery store.”

“The color develops all the way through the fruit, which might surprise consumers accustomed to supermarket fruit with color mostly on the surface,” Weber said. “And letting the fruit ripen on the plant just makes the berries sweeter.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New York Civil Rights Violation Lawyer From the Perecman Firm Condemns Muslim Hate Crime

New York civil rights violation lawyer David Perecman denounces hate crimes in New York following the appearance of anti-Muslim graffiti on a Brooklyn storefront.

“‘Allah is s—t,’“ said the anti-Muslim graffiti, according to the New York Daily News.

As reported by the tabloid, Bangladeshis in Kensington said they are now “living in fear” and “emotionally scarred” as a result of the apparent hate crime.

“Hate crime is not acceptable,” said New York civil rights violation lawyer David Perecman, founder of The Perecman Firm, one of New York’s civil rights violation law firms. “Everyone has the right to live their lives without fear of targeted hostility, discrimination or harassment based on their religion, nationality, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, or disability.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Radical Theory of First Americans Places Stone Age Europeans in Delmarva 20,000 Years Ago

When the crew of the Virginia scallop trawler Cinmar hauled a mastodon tusk onto the deck in 1970, another oddity dropped out of the net: a dark, tapered stone blade, nearly eight inches long and still sharp. Forty years later, this rediscovered prehistoric slasher has reopened debate on a radical theory about who the first Americans were and when they got here.

Who were the first Americans? Archaeologists have long held that North America remained unpopulated until about 15,000 years ago, when Siberian people walked or boated into Alaska and then moved down the West Coast. But the mastodon relic found near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay turned out to be 22,000 years old, suggesting that the blade was just as ancient. Whoever fashioned that blade was not supposed to be here.

Its makers probably paddled from Europe and arrived in America thousands of years ahead of the western migration, making them the first Americans, argues Smithsonian Institution anthropologist Dennis Stanford. “I think it’s feasible,” said Tom Dillehay, a prominent archaeologist at Vanderbilt University. “The evidence is building up, and it certainly warrants discussion.”

At the height of the last ice age, Stanford says, mysterious Stone Age European people known as the Solutreans paddled along an ice cap jutting into the North Atlantic. They lived like Inuits, harvesting seals and seabirds.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Remembering the Alamo

March 6 marks the anniversary of the fall of the Alamo back in 1836. For more than 13 days, 186 brave and determined patriots withstood Santa Anna’s seasoned army of over 4,000 troops. To a man, the defenders of that mission fort knew they would never leave those ramparts alive. They had several opportunities to leave and live. Yet, they chose to fight and die. How foolish they must look to this generation of spoiled Americans.

It is difficult to recall that stouthearted men such as Davy Crockett (a nationally known frontiersman and former congressman), Will Travis (only 23 years old with a little baby at home), and Jim Bowie (a wealthy landowner with properties on both sides of the Rio Grande) really existed. These were real men with real dreams and real desires. Real blood flowed through their veins. They loved their families and enjoyed life as much as any of us do. There was something different about them, however. They possessed a commitment to liberty that transcended personal safety and comfort.

Liberty is an easy word to say, but it is a hard word to live up to. Freedom has little to do with financial gain or personal pleasure. Accompanying Freedom is her constant and unattractive companion, Responsibility. Neither is she an only child. Patriotism and Morality are her sisters. They are inseparable: destroy one and all will die.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Rick Warren Builds Bridge to Muslims

Through years of outreach, Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren is part of an effort named King’s Way that’s attempting bring evangelical Christians and Muslims together.

The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and one of America’s most influential Christian leaders, has embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

The effort, informally dubbed King’s Way, caps years of outreach between Warren and Muslims. Warren has broken Ramadan fasts at a Mission Viejo mosque, met Muslim leaders abroad and addressed 8,000 Muslims at a national convention in Washington D.C.

Saddleback worshippers have invited Muslims to Christmas dinner and played interfaith soccer at a picnic in Irvine attended by more than 300 people. (The game pitted pastors and imams against teens from both faiths. The teens won.)

The effort by a prominent Christian leader to bridge what polls show is a deep rift between Muslims and evangelical Christians culminated in December at a dinner at Saddleback attended by 300 Muslims and members of Saddleback’s congregation.

At the dinner, Abraham Meulenberg, a Saddleback pastor in charge of interfaith outreach, and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a mosque in Los Angeles, introduced King’s Way as “a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Three Occupy Oakland Protesters Arrested for Robbery and a Hate Crime, Both Felonies

OAKLAND — Three Occupy Oakland protesters suspected of stealing an Oakland woman’s wallet and making offensive remarks about her perceived sexuality were charged Friday with robbery and committing a hate crime, both felonies, authorities said.

Michael Davis, 32, Nneka Crawford, 23, and Randolph Wilkins, 24, all of Oakland, were charged with the felonies by Assistant District Attorney Paul Hora. All remain jailed at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. Bail for Crawford and Wilkins is $105,000 and Davis is being held on $100,000 bail.

Other possible suspects are being sought by police, said Sgt. Randy Wingate, the lead investigator.

Among the evidence against the three, besides the 42-year-old victim identifying them, is a video of the confrontation taken by a fellow Occupy Oakland protester.

“In the department we have zero tolerance for hate crimes,” Wingate said.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Why Loneliness Can be Deadly

Loneliness can send a person down a path toward bad health, and even more intense loneliness, studies have shown. But while some have assumed the culprit was a dearth of others to remind a person to take care of himself or herself, new research suggests there’s a direct biological link between being lonely and ill health.

Loneliness can set into a motion a barrage of negative impacts inside the human body — but with additional social contact, some of the ill effects can be stopped.

John Cacioppo, a University of Chicago social psychologist who studies the biological effects of loneliness, presented some of his latest research at the Social Psychology and Perception meeting in San Diego in February.

He has found, for instance, loneliness is tied to hardening of the arteries (which leads to high blood pressure), inflammation in the body, and even problems with learning and memory. Even fruit flies that are isolated have worse health and die sooner than those that interact with others, showing that social engagement may be hard-wired, Cacioppo said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Will America Survive?

I immigrated to the United States with my family when I was 15 years-old. I was in awe to find a country where you could be anything you wanted to be as long as you were honest, moral and hard-working. This wasn’t possible in the communist country from which my parents and I had escaped. There, government control was from the cradle to the grave. They kept the people poor, and controlled, while the aristocrats and politicians (gov’t.) were living high on the hog with big benefits and salaries. They policed our every move and restricted our God-given freedoms.

America was the light of the world and it gave hope to the oppressed.

Now, there are forces at work destroying our nation, and our individualism for the sake of the world’s collectivism. I’m not just talking about Obama; he is a minute player in the grand scheme of this fast approaching New World Order. Our very culture is being threatened; our way of life; our liberties; and the legacy that we are leaving our children, and theirs, is one of indentured servitude to a government that has wildly swung from being representative by design to being dictatorial in practice.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

German Minister Calls for Elected European President

Germany’s foreign minister called for a European Union president directly elected by the bloc’s voters and an EU constitution ratified by referendum, in an interview to be published Sunday. “We need political figures with whom people throughout Europe can identify,” Guido Westerwelle told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

“That’s why I’m in favour of a direct election of the European president, who will have to campaign across Europe beforehand,” he said, according to extracts from the interview released Saturday. “It could give a new impetus to Europe.”

Westerwelle added, “Europe needs a real constitution on which citizens would decide by referendum”, and suggested a two-chamber European parliament comprising elected representatives and government leaders respectively. The German minister was vague about the timing for such a move, but said, “If we want to do something in the next few years we will have to start now.”

The EU’s constitution is enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty and other pacts, while the president is chosen by member states. EU leaders on Thursday reappointed Belgium’s Herman Van Rompuy as president for a second 30-month term as well as appointing him chairman of the eurozone. There were no rival candidates for either post.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

How to Get Rid of a Tax-Magnet Supercar

Every month 800 Porsches are sold to eastern Europe. Buyers transport carers into Italy. Strong demand from Moldova, Ukraine, Poland and South America

MILAN — “Listen up, Lorenzo, and do me a favour. I want to get rid of that Range Rover you sold me. Send someone round with trade plates and take it off my hands. I don’t want to drive in case they stop me for a spot check”.

That’s the gist of one of the many recent telephone conversations that Reggio Emilia-based Land Rover and Jaguar dealer Lorenzo Schiatti has had with well-heeled clients. “He was worried about driving the ten kilometres from his home”, says Mr Schiatti. “Afraid of running into a financial police road block”. The Range Rover is already out of the country, somewhere in Moldova, Poland or Ukraine. Who knows. It was loaded onto a trailer by one of the numerous non-Italian traders, many of them amateurs, who have worked out there is cash in these long-distance commutes for luxury vehicles.

Gianni Oliosi, communications manager for BMW Italia, says: “Anyone who, like me, drives on the Milan-Venice autostrada every day sees dozens of vans with a small trailer at the back. They bring in domestic carers from eastern Europe and go back with used cars. All top-end stuff, of course. They generally unload the women and load up with cars during the weekend”.

The phenomenon is a new one…

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

Hungarian PM Questions European Commission’s ‘Legitimacy’

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has lashed out at the European Commission, accusing it of lacking “democratic legitimacy”, following criticism from Europe over a series of contentious reforms. “I was elected. The Hungarian government is elected and the European Parliament is elected. But who elected the European Commission?” Orban said in an interview to be published Sunday in German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. “Where is the commission’s democratic legitimacy?”

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, is made up of one member appointed by each of the EU’s 27 member states.

Relations between Budapest, the EU and the commission are strained following the implementation this year of a slew of judicial and constitutional reforms in Hungary that critics have said undermine democracy by removing vital checks and balances on the government’s power. The commission last week said it was considering freezing 495 million euros ($655 million) in funds to Hungary, a threat Orban brushed off.

Orban accused the “international left” of picking on his right-wing government and said European leaders have lost faith in what once was the “greatness” of Europe. Despite his comments, Orban has said he is willing to negotiate with Brussels to modify some of his reforms.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Work on High-Speed Link to Continue, Says Industry Minister

Protester remains in intensive care after falling from pylon

(ANSA) — Rome, February 28 — Industry Minister Corrado Passera said on the sidelines of a Senate meeting Tuesday that work on a new high-speed rail link in northern Italy would continue despite protests and the critical injury of a protester on Monday.

Interior Minister Annamaria Cancellieri said that the incident involving the 37-year-old movement leader Luca Abba, who remains hospitalized in intensive care with burns and injuries, was “very serious and sad” and urged dialogue among all parties.

On Tuesday, police forcibly removed a protesters’ roadblock on the A32 Turin-Bardonecchia highway that paralyzed traffic for more than 24 hours, while another section of the highway remains occupied after police attempts to clear it were abandoned.

The high-speed Lyon-Turin project has sparked staunch, widespread opposition including a movement known as NO Tav arguing that a tunnel in the Valle di Susa valley will create pollution and harm the area’s natural beauty. Supporters of the rail link maintain that it will decrease pollution by minimizing highway shipping and automotive transportation.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Career of Department Head Who Operated on Training Dummies

The meteoric rise of Giacomo Frati from researcher to full professor

Would you let yourself be operated on by someone who has “never seen cardiac surgery” and has only practised on training dummies? If this sounds peculiar, well, it’s already happened. Or at least that’s what the son of La Sapienza university’s rector maintains in an astonishing interview. Giacomo Frati’s meteoric career has taken him to a professorial chair in the faculty where his dad, mum and sister work.

Of course, it is not necessarily true that you need to have a solid university track record to be a great surgeon. Ambroise Paré, the founder of modern surgery, seems to have been the son of a prostitute and started out following in his father’s footsteps as a surgeon and barber. In 1967, the head of the second team flanking Christiaan Barnard during the first heart transplant in South Africa was Hamilton Naki, a self-taught surgeon who left school at 14. Naki was black and officially a gardener but he had a magical touch. When apartheid was over, he received an honorary degree and Barnard’s acknowledgement that “technically, he is a better surgeon than I am”.

That said, the way Giacomo Frati came to head the (in theory, at least) advanced planning unit at Rome’s Policlinico hospital looks even more jaw-dropping. Perhaps you remember. Two weeks ago, we reported the story when a judicial inquiry was opened. In a nutshell, Frati Jr raced from researcher at 28 to associate professor at 31 and full professor at 36. His chair is in the same faculty of medicine where his father, the all-powerful rector Luigi, has been dean for as long as anyone can remember and has already found jobs for his wife, literature graduate and history of medicine specialist Luciana Rita Angeletti, and daughter law graduate Paola, firmly ensconced in forensic medicine.

Is the younger Frati a genius in a generation of “sfigati” [losers]? Perhaps, but the most recent developments in Giacomo’s dazzling career are disturbing. First he qualified as a heart surgeon before an examining committee of two hygienists and three dentists. “Is that fair? Perhaps not but it’s not my problem”…

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

Marchionne Urges Greater Labor Flexibility

Fiat CEO sees ‘difficult’ 2012 for Europe’s auto sector

(ANSA) — Brussels, February 28 — This will again be a “relatively difficult” year for Europe’s automobile sector where greater labor flexibility is needed to adapt to changes in supply and demand, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said here on Tuesday.

Speaking in his role as chairman of the European automakers’ association ACEA, Marchionne said “if I could do just one thing, most likely it would be to create a flexible labor system capable of managing supply and demand”.

“I am convinced that conditions exist to create positive flexibility. What we need to do is break with mentalities of the past. If we continue to insist that what we had and built in the past are essential for the future, when in reality they have become obstacles to a nation’s industrial growth, then it is clear that we are not going to go far”.

Looking at the automobile sector in Europe in general, Marchionne said 2012 would be difficult because some 20% of its operating capacity “can be considered as structurally redundant”.

According to the CEO, this excess in production capacity “demands a coordinated, joint effort by European countries.

There is no such thing as a national solution”.

Although he was speaking about Europe, Marchionne’s comments about flexibility came at time when the Italian government is engaged in difficult negotiations with trade unions on reforming the labor market in order to boost productivity and growth, also through greater flexibility.

“This is a very delicate question. The answer is clear, but the question is very delicate. I believe that the final result is clear to everyone: we must create a situation of flexibility that will also attract foreign investment in Italy,” the CEO said.

In regard to Italy’s welfare system, Marchionne said he agreed with European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi “when he says that it is outdated. Europeans must understand that they are no different than others, they have to realize that the world is flat”.

Marchionne also had words of praise for Italian Premier Mario Monti’s government which he said “has in little time done a great job in pushing ahead the nation’s agenda. But it needs more time to complete this effort”.

In regard to Fiat’s promise to invest some 20 billion euros in Italy, Marchionne said that the automaker was ready to respect this commitment but under conditions “that must be extremely clear”.

“Our intentions were to embark on an industrial policy which opens opportunities for our plants in Italy, if they can achieve a level of productivity which will allow us to compete on an international level, to export to other countries. Fiat is now ready to offer Italy the enormous opportunities being created in America, but we can only do this under conditions that are extremely clear ,” he added.

Marchionne, who is also CEO at Chrysler, went on to stress “I cannot continue to lose money in Europe simply to maintain an industrial system that economically has no legs”.

According to the CEO, Fiat “is maintaining its commitments” in Italy and at its Mirafiori plant in Turin “we are working at lightning speed (to revamp the plant) and this is why we have announced we will also be producing Jeep vehicles there starting next year”. He added that he also hoped to produce the first Jeep, which Fiat has controlled since taking over Chrysler at the end of 2009, in Russia “before the end of 2013”.

Marchionne made similar remarks about Fiat’s role in Italy last week and on Tuesday the head of Italy’s leading trade union CGIL, Susanna Camusso, repeated her appeal to the Italian government to intervene and force Fiat to show its cards.

“Marchionne the other day said what we have been saying for quite some time and which is why we have turned to the government: Fiat’s industrial plan is totally focused on Chrysler and the United States,” Camusso said in Milan.

“I do not see the famous 20 billion euros in investment. I do not see the models that were supposed to allow Fiat to compete with other European producers,” she added.

Speaking last week, Marchionne said Fiat had postponed introducing new models because of the market slump in Europe. He also said that there was no reason why Fiat should be the only major industrial concern that had to reveal, point by point, its policies and plans to unions and/or governments.

In regard to Fiat’s future, Marchionne on Tuesday did not rule out possible alliances in Asia with Japan’s Suzuki and Mazda automakers. According to the CEO, there were “opportunities to examine”.

“It’s a free world and we can do things in all parts of the world. Opportunities exist… including those with them’(Suzuki and Mazda)…whereas there not many potential partners left in Europe,” he said.

Since taking over Fiat in 2004, Marchionne has embarked on a number of ‘targeted alliances’ with other automakers including India’s Tata and even Ford, with which it has developed a common city-car platform for Fiat’s 500 and Ford’s Ka model.

Marchionne’s remarks about possible alliances with the Asian carmakers boosted Fiat shares in Milan where they jumped close to 1.5% after a sluggish start.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Support Dips for Danish Leader

The governing Danish Social Democrat Party led by Thorning-Schmidt is losing support, with a historical low of 18.5% backing the party, according to a new poll by Greens Analyseinstitut in the Boersen business daily. Thorning-Schmidt is also the ‘rotating’ EU president. Her domestic opposition party is twice as popular.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swede Denied Right to Call Himself ‘Black Work’

A man from Märsta in northern Stockholm has been denied the right to adopt the word “Svartjobb” (literally: black work) as his name after tax authorities deemed it to have negative connotations and to be indicative of a poor work ethic. According to Sweden’s naming laws, the Tax Agency (Skatteverket) has the power to decide which names are approved for children born in Sweden and for those wishing to change their names.

“First names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name,” the law states. The tax agency has rejected the man’s request citing the name law and explaining that the word “is used by those unwilling to meet their obligations in the labour market” and thus can not be considered a suitable Christian name.

Furthermore the agency rejected the man’s request to add “Eddie” as a middle name or “mellannamn” — a uniquely Swedish construction that equates to a secondary surname. According to the law a “mellannamn” can only be adopted if the bearer has some prior connection to the word.

The 1982 name law was originally planned to protect Swedish nobility, preventing the general public from giving their children noble names. The law is now more commonly applied by the Tax Agency to protect children from the unrestrained imaginations of their parents or to protect established brand names.

The Local has previously reported on disputes surrounding names such as Metallica, Ikea, Google, Dark Knight, Elvis, His Majesty and Q.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Suspects Planned to ‘Kill as Many as Possible’

Four men from Sweden were formally charged in Denmark on Friday for planning a suspected terrorist attack against Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in Copenhagen in December 2010. The men have been charged with one count of terror crimes and two counts of violating weapons laws.

Three of the men, Munir Awad, Omar Abdalla and Mounir Dhahri were arrested in Copenhagen on December 29th, 2010. The men were based in Sweden and had travelled over to Denmark by car the night therefore they were arrested. A fourth, Sahbi Zalouti, was later apprehended by police in Sweden. He was subsequently extradited to Denmark.

The four men, all of whom resided in Sweden, are suspected of preparing what Danish security service PET called a plan to “kill as many people as possible” in an assault on the Copenhagen offices of the Jyllands-Posten daily. Jyllands-Posten published a dozen cartoons in 2005 of the Prophet Muhammad that triggered violent and sometimes deadly protests around the world.

According to the indictment, prosecutors are seeking prison terms for all the men and calling for them to be deported from Denmark as well as slapped with travel restrictions that would prevent them from entering the country again in the future. Danish investigators allege the planning for the attack took place at a meeting “in Stockholm in Sweden as well as in other locations”.

Awad, Abdalla and Dhahri traveled from Sweden to Denmark by car during the evening of December 29th. They then met in an apartment in the Herlev neighbourhood near the Danish capital to discuss how they would attack the newspaper.

In a joint prayer, one of the men said, “When the unfaithful are gathered, tie them up and cut their throats,” according to PET.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swedish Schools Deploy Drug Sniffing Dogs

Sniffer dogs will be used to search schools in Landskrona municipality in southern Sweden after officials concluded that “attitudes toward narcotics have become more liberal”. High schools and upper-secondary schools will be targeted in a series of spot checks throughout the spring, according to a report in the Helingborgs Dagblad (HD) daily.

“We will take the chance while pupils are in lessons in their classrooms,” said Olle Olsson at Landskrona police to the newspaper. The dogs will be used to comb lockers, toilets and corridors for illicit substances and if they pick up the scent of illegal narcotics, then any responsible pupils will be taken in for a drugs test.

The plan, which has previously been adopted in Jämtland in northern Sweden and in Norway, has however come in for criticism from some local politicians.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: A Witchcraft Scandal on Our Doorstep

A 15-year-old boy is tortured to death for witchcraft. In London. In 2010. And the private reaction of police and social workers? Quiet despair. It’s happened before and will happen again.

The Metropolitan Police waited until after the end of the court case to warn us that children are being abused and murdered in increasing numbers in Britain because their African relatives think they are “spirit children” — that is, witches.

Also, children’s charities and campaigners “urged communities to report abuse and said social workers must be firmer in confronting abuse in immigrant groups”.

Let’s deconstruct that. Campaigners are making this appeal because African communities in Britain have been too slow to report this abuse. And social workers have soft-pedalled on the subject, despite the shameful record of their colleagues in the case of Victoria Climbié, an eight-year-old girl from the Ivory Coast who was tortured to death in 2000 by family members who believed she was possessed by the devil.

Victoria’s death could have been avoided if Brent and Haringey social services hadn’t turned a PC blind eye to her abuse.

The Climbié and Bamu cases were atypical because they involved spectacular violence. But the charity Trust for London is talking nonsense when it says that “no faith or culture promotes cruelty to children”. In 2009, the African journalist Sorious Samura made a World Service programme about the slaughter of “witches” in Ghana. He walked up one hill in which, he reckoned, the bodies of tens of thousands of “spirit children” were buried.

Prof Jean La Fontaine is the anthropologist who exploded the myth of satanic ritual abuse. She’s based at Inform, Britain’s foremost academic cult-watching body, and certainly doesn’t think the abuse of “spirit children” in Britain is a myth. She is horrified by the rich African pastors who encourage these crimes, and adds: “We do not hear Christian churches raising their voices against the belief in child witches.”

Good point. I don’t care if these Pentecostal congregations are thriving, and provide role models for black youths. If we can get worked up about secularists banning prayers, or the Islamist infiltration of mosques, why not this unspeakable scandal?

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Bus Driver on the 192 Takes Student Sex Pest Syed Abbas Straight to Longsight Police Station

A sex pest who groped two women on a bus got express justice — when the driver changed his route and drove straight to a police station. Student Syed Abbas, 22, molested his victims on an early-morning 192 service between Levenshulme and the city centre. When the driver realised what had happened he immediately changed his route and headed to Longsight police station, where Abbas was arrested. Now he is facing jail after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual assault at Manchester magistrates court. The court heard how Abbas, of Barlow Road, Levenshulme, had approached the first woman on the lower deck of the bus on January 19. He sat next to her and began stroking her thigh — saying ‘you enjoyed it’ when she complained.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Eight Charged Over £2.3m Olympic Delivery Authority Fraud

Eight people have been charged over an alleged £2.3 million fraud against the Olympic Delivery Authority.

All eight are accused of money laundering and will appear at Southwark Crown Court on March 5.

The charges follow an investigation by officers from the Met’s Operation Podium, the force’s dedicated response to serious and organised crime around the Olympic and Paralympic Games

The eight people charged are:

Shamsideen Owo, aged 75, of Brookfield Road, Homerton, east London

Abayomi Olowo, aged 48, of Windsor Road, Harrow, north-west London.

Ayodele Odukoya, aged 42, of Paignton Close, Romford, Essex.

Mabinty Kargbo, aged 26, of Crofton Road, Camberwell, south-east London.

Nadeem Khan, aged 38, of Richmond Crescent, Slough, Berkshire.

Sanjeev Kumar, aged 30, of Bell Street, Bilston, West Midlands.

Shakeela Ayub, aged 28, of Brudenell Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire.

Sakiru Adewale, aged 57, of no fixed address.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: I Saw Girl Forced to Go With Men, Rochdale Sex Grooming Trial Jury is Told

A girl sobbed as she told a jury how she saw another youngster who was allegedly recruited into a child exploitation ring forced to have sex with a man. She described how the girl was drinking Jack Daniels with friends at a flat in Rochdale when she saw the alleged victim arrive. She told the court how the alleged victim was with two men, and a much larger girl. One of the men, said the witness, was chubby and bald and introduced himself as Car Zero. Prosecutors say Car Zero was 44-year-old taxi driver Mohammed Amin. The second man was skinny and offered a bottle of vodka to a girl he wanted to have sex with, according to the witness. The witness told the jury that the girls said they ‘have sex with Asian guys for money’. She said: “It was like some big achievement.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Hunt Serial Sex Trafficker

Police believe the same man could be responsible for three sex attacks on lone women in Southampton, within the last 24 hours.

Officers are investigating the allegations of indecent assaults, one of which involved a knife.

The first incident happened at around 10pm on Tuesday, when a 20-year-old woman was approached by an Asian man in Portswood Road. He asked her for directions to the University, before putting his arm around the victim’s waist.

The woman pushed him off and continued walking home, into Grosvenor Road, but the man followed her.

He pushed the woman against a wall and indecently assaulted her.

A second incident then took place less than four hours later, between 1.30am and 2am this morning.

A 19-year-old woman was walking along Bannister Road, when she was grabbed by a man outside a car park of a block of flats called ‘The Lodge.’ He pulled her into a dark and secluded part of a car park, where he indecently assaulted her.

During this assault the victim had an item, which she believed to be a knife, held against her.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Let Foreign Crime Suspects Go Due to Lack of Interpreters

Foreign crime suspects are being allowed to walk free from police custody before questioning because of a shortage of interpreters caused by cost-cutting.

The problem is being blamed on a Ministry of Justice-backed interpreter service which police sources say is failing to provide interpreters fast enough.

The scheme was supposed to save West Midlands Police £750,000 every year.

But it has forced officers to release some arrested foreign suspects on bail because they cannot get interpreters.

In one case, it took West Midlands Police two weeks to find an interpreter for someone who volunteered to make a statement in an Asian language.

In some instances, the force has had to bring in more expensive interpreters from Leeds and Manchester.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Two Days of Violence Sees Three Teenagers Stabbed in Separate Attacks in Wembley and Sudbury

Three teenagers have been stabbed in three separate attacks in the borough in just two days.

The victims, two aged 19 and a 17-year-old, were targeted in Sudbury and Wembley on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

In the first attack on Tuesday, a 17-year-old boy was stabbed in the arm, punched, and kicked after he was ambushed by six black youths after boarding a 182 bus near Sudbury, at around 4pm.

He eventually managed to escape his attackers and walked into Wembley Police Station where he raised the alarm and was rushed to hospital.

He was later discharged.

The following day a 19-year-old man escaped serious injury despite being stabbed up to five times in the back and neck in Mount Pleasant, Alperton, at around 6.30pm.

Two men, one described as being of large build wearing a light grey jumper and material bottoms with light coloured short hair, the other a short, slim and wearing dark clothing were seen running from the scene.

Half an hour later, a fight broke out in Barnhill Road, Wembley, where a 19-year-old was slashed across the face, ear and back of his head by up to seven black youths.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Welcome to Britain, Where All People Are Protected From Prejudice, Unless They Are White

What a ghastly, Orwellian disgrace the detention of war hero David Jones at Gatwick airport is for daring to question why Muslims can pass through scanners with their faces completely covered.

Mr Jones, the creator of Fireman Sam, a former member of the Household Cavalry and an all-round nice bloke, was detained and accused of racism because a Muslim security guard said he had offended her by cracking a joke about what would happen if he covered his own face in his scarf. He made a good point and highlighted a very real problem, but of course, the truth is not allowed if it offends a minority group.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Witchcraft Warning From UK Social Workers

SOCIAL workers in Britain will be told to look for signs of witchcraft in cases of child abuse after two murders that police say are among the worst they have seen.

A national working group, set up by ministers, is to issue guidelines to highlight the dangers of beliefs including voodoo, jinn and kindoki.

The initiative comes after Kristy Bamu, 15, was tortured over four days and forced to admit to being a sorcerer before he was murdered by his sister and her fiance in East London.

Nine days before Kristy’s murder in December 2010, and only a few miles away, in Clapton, a four-year-old girl was killed by her mother in a sustained knife attack during which her organs were removed. Shayma Ali had become obsessed that her daughter was possessed by a jinn, or spirit.

The Metropolitan Police has investigated a series of other witchcraft-related cases in which children were deprived of sleep, burnt, blindfolded, had their hair cut off or had liquid poured on to their genitals.

A report last year highlighted scores of cases referred to social services departments and other agencies, including one of suspected spirit possession when the accused was found to be autistic, and another of a child who was accused of being a witch because the parents were having relationship problems.

There are fears that hundreds more cases are going unreported, and detectives warn that the beating and starving of “possessed children” is a hidden crime.

Detective Superintendent Terry Sharpe, the lead officer in Project Violet, the Met’s initiative to tackle religion-based child abuse, said that its 83 investigations over the past ten years into the torture of children was the tip of the iceberg.

“I know this is an under-reported crime. It is a hidden crime. Our intelligence from the community is that it is far more prevalent than the reports we are getting,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Croatian Student Fined for Offence to EU Flag

(ZAGREB) — A Croatian court fined a student 102-euros ($135) for removing an EU flag from a city hall in protest at Zagreb’s imminent membership of the bloc, Hina news agency said Saturday. Kristina Curkovic, 21, was found guilty of “disrupting public order,” the agency said.

In April 2011, Curkovic, a student at the Catholic theology faculty in the coastal town of Split and a member of a local group “I love Croatia — No to EU”, removed the European Union flag from the entrance to the city hall and replaced it with the Croatian national flag.

At her trial, she said she did it to “defend the honour and dignity of Croatia.” “Our parents fought during the (1991-1995 Croatian) war for an independent and free Croatia, and not for (it to become) a province within the EU,” she said.

In January, she tore up another EU flag in front of several dozen people gathered to hear her ultranationalist speech. Croatia is set to join the EU in July 2013. For years, EU flags have flown alongside Croatian ones from buildings of the country’s state institutions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran: Please Tweet for Youcef

Iranian Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been charged, convicted and sentenced to death for apostasy — becoming a Christian. When Iranian officials demanded that he recant his faith in Jesus Christ or die, he responded, “I cannot.” He has been illegally imprisoned and separated from his wife and two boys since 2009. We are fighting to save his life and win his freedom. We need your voice in this fight; please lend us your voice for Pastor Youcef today.

Though we still believe that his execution has been ordered, it is clear he is still alive today because of renewed international pressure on Iran — immense pressure from people worldwide raising their voices, demanding that his life be spared. In less than one week, more than 145,000 people have signed our petition calling for Pastor Youcef’s release.

We need to keep that pressure on. Will you join us in being a voice for him by allowing us to tweet once a day about Pastor Youcef through your twitter account . . .

Here’s how:

Then please pass this on to all your contacts immediately; let’s make it impossible for Iran to go ahead with this.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Warns Against Pre-Emptive Iran Strike

US President Barack Obama has warned against a premature strike against Iran, ahead of a meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Tel Aviv has said all options are on the table.

A premature strike against Iran would run the risk of allowing the Islamic Republic to play the “victim,” Obama said in an interview with the Atlantic Monthly magazine on Friday.

“At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally (Syria) is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as the victim?” Obama said.

He said that his administration’s Iran policy contains “a military component,” and that both Tehran and Tel Aviv understand Washington is serious about stopping the Islamic Republic from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

His comments came ahead of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

The Israeli premier arrived in Ottawa on Friday to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper amid speculation that Israel could launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran to set back its nuclear program, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes.

The Israeli prime minister warned against engaging in negotiations with Tehran, claiming that talks were a way for the Islamic Republic to buy time.

“It could do again what it has done before,” Netanyahu said. “It could pursue or exploit the talks as they’ve done in the past to deceive and delay so that they can continue to advance their nuclear program and get to the nuclear finish line by running up the clock.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Proper “Apologizing” To Islamdom: A Timeless Lesson for US Leadership

(Or, How to Pray with a Muslim Prime Minister)


A man of Alison’s character and original and somewhat eccentric habits was not likely to be a favourite at the Foreign Office. Although for many years, and under successive Ambassadors, he had had the almost exclusive conduct of the affairs of the Embassy at Constantinople, and had carried to a successful issue, by his extraordinary diplomatic skill, many questions of the utmost delicacy and moment, and had acquired the esteem and confidence of his chiefs, who had strongly recommended him for promotion and for employment in an independent position worthy of his abilities, and at the head of an important mission, it was not until 1860 that he was named H.M. Minister at Teheran, where he died in 1872.

In his intercourse with Turkish officials he maintained the same calm and equal demeanour as he showed in his intercourse with the Ambassador, was perfectly straight- forward and truthful, and scorned the petty intrigues upon which the agents employed by the foreign representatives at the Porte have generally relied to carry out the policy and instructions of their chiefs. This mode of dealing with the Turkish statesmen and officials pleased and gratified them, and enabled him to obtain far influence over them than any of his rivals. At the same time, he always showed a spirit of independence in his dealing with them, and made them feel that he was capable of resenting any attempt to deceive him. Many amusing anecdotes were current in Constantinople of his way of treating those, Mussulmans or Christians, who gave him cause of offence, and did not treat him with the respect which he considered his due.

Amongst them I remember the following. Sir Stratford Canning had sent him to transact some business of moment with the Grand Vizir, who was a Turk of the old school, notorious for his bigotry and intolerance. In the middle of a discussion the Prime Minister rose from his seat and proceeded to say his customary prayers on a carpet which an attendant had spread for him on the floor. He concluded them with the usual curse, very audibly and significantly uttered, upon all giaour, or infidels the name then given to all Christians indiscriminately and went through the motion of spitting over his right and left shoulders to show his horror of them ; he then resumed his seat, and renewed the conversation as if nothing had occurred to interrupt it. After a short interval Allison left the divan, and going into a corner of the room, began to repeat in Turkish an extemporary prayer in which he invoked similar curses upon the followers of Islam. The Pasha jumped up in a violent passion, and reminded him of the fate which, according to the Mussulman law, was reserved for those who dared to blaspheme the religion of Islam and its Prophet. Alison very quietly replied that, like the Pasha himself, he had only performed a duty by saying his prayers at that particular hour, and that he had no doubt that the denunciations they contained against Mohammedans were as much a matter of form, and of as little significance, as the curses which His Highness had a short time before launched against those who professed the Christian faith…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

Saving Muslims From Themselves

A new age of terror is here. It’s time to face up to it. To stop saving Muslims from ourselves and to work to save ourselves and our kin from them.

After September 11 the reasonable thing to do would have been to take steps to save ourselves from Islamic terror, instead we went on a crusade to save Muslims from themselves. The latest stop on that crusade is Syria, where the foreign policy experts responsible for decades of horrifying misjudgments tell us that we are duty bound to save the Syrian people from their dictator.

Rarely do we ask why it is that Muslims so often need saving from their dictators. Or why a party that campaigned on improving America’s reputation by promising not to bomb Muslims anymore, is now improving America’s reputation by bombing so many Muslims and so often that it makes George W. Bush look like a tie dyed hippie.

The Obama Administration has had a role in regime change in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya all in one year. Along with the other “Friends of Syria” it would like to bomb its way to regime change in Syria. The point of all this regime change is to replace totalitarian Muslim regimes with democratically elected totalitarian Muslim regimes on the theory that will make everyone happier.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Fiat Signs Letter of Intent With Russia’s Sberbank

Cars and light commercial vehicles in joint venture

(ANSA) — Turin, February 28 — Fiat and Russia’s Sberbank on Tuesday signed a letter of intent for the production and distribution of cars and light commercial vehicles in Russia.

The Russian bank plans to bankroll the project and take a 20% stake in the joint venture, the Italian carmaker said.

The project will be led by the new Jeep model adapted from Fiat’s US arm Chrysler, with an investment of up to 850 million euros

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Gazprom to Challenge EU Energy Liberalisation Law

In a test case against Lithuania, Russian gas giant Gazprom Thursday launched arbitration proceedings to prevent the Baltic state from enforcing EU competition rules on separate ownership on gas supply and transportation. Gazprom is worried it could be forced into a fire sale of pipelines in Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Salim Mansur: Outrage Merits Condemnation, Not Apology

In apologizing for the inadvertent burning of the Qur’an by American soldiers, U.S. President Barack Obama has put on display yet again how abjectly craven he is when dealing with the Muslim world.

Any reasonable person knows well it is not American policy to abuse, harm, injure or insult Muslims intentionally, nor burn or demolish any thing that Muslims hold sacred as part of their belief.

It is also known much too well by Muslims residing in the U.S., and in countries of the West, that they live better in freedom with their faith flourishing and secure than they would anywhere inside the Arab-Muslim world.

So why does an American president show contrition when responding to the newest outrage by Muslim mobs directed at the U.S. and its personnel due to grievance of little merit? The apology, according to the explanation given, was to defuse a highly volatile situation.

The problem with such a craven apology is it does not work, and for the same reason as appeasing an extortionist does not work.

The situation is made worse by the silence of Muslims — both of Muslim officialdom in Muslim-majority countries and of Muslims residing in the West — in not flatly condemning these organized rituals of mayhem and murder for the purposes of spreading fear and intimidation.

The simple fact is Muslims in Afghanistan, or any other Muslim country, do not deserve any apology of the sort President Obama expressed in his letter to Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president. And the reason for this is also very simple: It is well past time that Muslim leaders instead began to tender apologies for crimes committed against non-Muslims and Muslims, in the name of Islam, and make retribution for the harm done…

           — Hat tip: Flyboy[Return to headlines]

Terzi Says Boat-Shooting Marines Should Have Immunity

India, Italy still divided after foreign ministers meet

(ANSA) — Kochi, February 28 — Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said on Tuesday that the two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen while aboard a Italian merchant ship last week should have immunity from prosecution in India.

Terzi was speaking after visiting the marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, at the guest house where they are being detained in the southwestern Indian port of Kochi.

The minister failed to reach agreement with his Indian counterpart S. M. Krishna on many aspects of the case that the two countries disagree about at a meeting in New Delhi earlier on Tuesday.

These include who has jurisdiction for the case and whether the marines have immunity.

“The marines belong to a state corps that operates abroad and they should be treated as such,” Terzi said, adding that if there were anything to respond to “Italy must respond to it”.

Italy has said the marines fired warning shots from the merchant ship they were accompanying, the Enrica Lexie, after coming under attack from pirates.

It said they followed the proper international procedures for dealing with pirate attacks, which are frequent in the India Ocean.

The Indian authorities, on the other hand, said the marines failed to show sufficient “restraint” by opening fire after mistaking the fishermen for pirates.

Ballistics tests are pending on the bullets that killed the fishermen and Terzi has managed to persuade the Indian authorities to allow Italian experts to take part.

“They were in excellent spirits,” Terzi said of his meeting with Latorre and Girone. “They have great courage and optimism that this situation will be resolved quickly.

“These men of ours work for one goal — to protect our country and the international community”. After meeting Krishna, Terzi reiterated that Italy has jurisdiction in the case because it involved marines “in international waters”.

The minister also expressed “his own condolences and those of the Italian people for the tragic loss of the two fishermen” and the hope that India and Italy would be able to continue working together to combat piracy.

“The Indian fishermen and the two Italian soldiers are victims of the same enemy, piracy,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Far East

Snow Leopard Poop Reveals Endangered Cats’ Meals

Scientists have gotten their hands dirty in the name of closer study of snow leopards, one of the planet’s most endangered big cats. Because it’s notoriously difficult to get their hands on the elusive cats to learn about their movements and habits, the researchers had to settle for the next best thing: their poop. Studying their feces not only allows for DNA analysis, but also offers a glimpse of what the animals like to eat.

Researchers recently analyzed 81 fecal samples found in Mongolia, which revealed that the local snow leopards were eating mostly Siberian ibex, followed by domestic goats and wild sheep. They also found that nearly 80 percent of the leopards’ diet consisted of wild animals, meaning that only about a fifth of the big cats’ prey are domestic animals — relatively good news for local farmers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Sangoma: Bafana Can Win

Muti man S’bonelo Madela says he will not cast a bad spell on Bafana Bafana for the international friendly against Senegal on Wednesday.

Madela, from Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal, is the man who alleges that Safa reneged on a muti deal post the Fifa 2010 World Cup.

However, Madela says he will only send his ‘boy’ to the stadium when Bafana play a “serious” match, not friendlies.

“I can let them win a friendly, but they are not going to win a serious match,” Madela tells

“My situation with Safa is still not right, but I’m not going to do anything about friendlies. In terms of serious matches, they are not going to win… ngeke [never]! They must meet me to sort this out if they want to win,” he adds.

Madela claimed last year that Safa got his services for cheap on the alleged muti deal. He said he ‘worked’ on the stadium in Bloemfontein, where Bafana beat France 2-1 and he was paid R10 000 instead of the R100 000 the two parties allegedly agreed on.

[Return to headlines]

The 7/7 Widow and a Boom in British Jihad

How did a young woman from Aylesbury end up as a terrorist suspect in Somalia?

We cannot say we weren’t warned. On September 16 2010, Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, addressed an audience of security professionals in London. A “significant number of UK residents”, he said, were training with the Somali Islamists, al-Shabaab. “It’s only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by those who are today fighting alongside al-Shabaab.”

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Plan for Roma Integration Approved by Italian Government

Education major part of initiatives

(ANSA) — Rome, February 28 — A plan aimed at strengthening integration policies and practices in Italy for Roma, also known as Gypsies, was approved in a cabinet meeting on Friday.

Minister for Cooperation Andrea Riccardi said that the proposal was greeted “with interest” by the European Commission, following criticism of Italy’s treatment of Roma by the EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding.

Schooling, employment, housing and health care are the four pillars of the program designed to incorporate Italy’s 140,000 Roma, citizens and immigrants alike.

Roma are considered Europe’s most disenfranchised and vulnerable minority, according to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and civil rights monitoring bodies.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Rapid Rise in Babies Born to Migrants Will ‘Give Britain One of Europe’s Youngest Populations by 2035’

A surge in babies born to immigrant parents has moved Britain from having one of Europe’s most rapidly ageing populations to one of the youngest, official figures show.

In contrast to the previously high numbers of people over 65 in the UK, an increased birth rate in the past decade has reversed the trend thanks in part to the numbers of immigrant babies.

The figures mean Britain is now predicted to go from having the second highest proportion of retired people to the fifth lowest in Europe, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Estimates show that the number of people aged 65 or over in the UK increased by 1.7m between 1985 and 2010.

In 1985 the UK was second only to Sweden for the number of people aged 65 in its population.

Britain ranks 15th out of the 27 EU countries, according to official estimates.

But by 2035, forecasts show that the percentage will have climbed at such a slow rate that Britain will have the fifth lowest number in Europe, higher than only Slovakia, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Ireland.

The Office for National Statistics has forecast that Britain will have nearly 17 million people over 65 in its population by 2035, which equates to 23 per cent of the predicted population.

By then it is predicted that Germany will have the highest percentage of retired people, with nearly one in three people being over 65…

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Clooney and Pitt Join Star-Studded Gay Play

Hollywood superstars Brad Pitt and George Clooney are joining a star-studded play about the gay marriage controversy in California, producers announced Thursday.

The play, called 8, was written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Lance Black and focuses on the legal battle to introduce gay marriage in the state.

According to the announcement, Pitt will play a judge in the case who came out as gay after issuing a ruling in favor of gay marriage, while Clooney will play a high-profile lawyer who argued in favour of allowing same-sex unions.

The title refers to Proposition 8, which the state passed in November 2008, outlawing same-sex marriages in California, where they had been allowed since a ruling in June that year.

Other stars set to appear in the Saturday premiere of the play include Martin Sheen (as the plaintiff’s lead co-counsel), Christine Lahti and Jamie Lee Curtis (as a lesbian couple), Matthew Morrison and Matt Bomer (as a gay couple), as well as Kevin Bacon, Jane Lynch and John C. Reilly.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Gender Identity Issues Can Harm Kids’ Mental Health: Study

MONDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) — New studies show that children struggling with their gender identity also face higher risks for abuse and mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Children with gender identity disorder show a strong, persistent discomfort with their biological sex. They identify with and display behaviors usually seen in the opposite sex.

One study, from Children’s Hospital Boston, looked at the emotional and behavioral problems of children and teens referred to its specialty clinic for evaluation and possible medical treatment.

“The study only focuses on kids who experience profound distress or (sadness) with their changing bodies, so the psychiatric manifestations of that distress include much higher risks for self-injurious behavior, depression, suicide attempts and anxiety,” said Dr. Scott Leibowitz, a pediatric psychiatrist affiliated with the hospital’s Gender Management Service.

Dr. Walter Meyer III, author of an accompanying journal editorial, said many problems arise from the reactions these children face at home and in school.

“These kids are really normal — they just want to be the other gender,” said Meyer, a psychiatrist who works with transgender patients at the University of Texas Medical Branch, in Galveston.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Hollywood’s Cultural Revolution is Making Gay Marriage Inevitable

On Saturday night, Google and YouTube will be live-streaming the premier of “8,” a play about the federal trial that overturned a California law banning gay marriage. It’s based on court transcripts and purports to tell the objective truth, although its politics are pretty brazen. The play is written by the talented screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J Edgar) and stars anyone who is anyone who ever voted Democrat — George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Jane Lynch, Kevin Bacon, Jamie Lee Curtis and what feels like the entire cast of Glee. This is how Hollywood thinks you can change hearts and minds — by putting on a show!

Supporters of gay marriage have wisely moved away from trying to win by the ballot box; the proposition has been rejected by citizens in 31 referendums. Now activists prefer to pursue their demands through the judiciary or local legislatures. California was an example of the former, overturning the result of a popular vote that took place in 2008. This year, assemblies in the states of Washington, Maryland and New Jersey have voted to legalise gay unions. New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie, has vetoed the bill in his state, and the other two will probably face ballot challenges. As one anti-gay marriage campaigner said to me, “Every time they pressure a legislature to pass it, we just get the people to revoke it.”

Despite consistent public opposition, there is a growing sense of inevitability about gay marriage. And Hollywood should take credit, for beneath the political radar it has affected a cultural revolution. Turn on the TV in America and you are bombarded with images of homosexuality as a social norm.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Sex Change: Early Diagnosis of Gender-Identity Disorder Has Doctors Facing Tough Decisions

Jade Hines went through puberty twice. First as a teenaged male and then, years later with the help of cross-sex hormones, she began her womanly development.

Ms. Hines, now 24, is pleased with the sex-reassignment surgery she had three years ago that turned her physically into a woman. But she is self-conscious about her voice, which would not have dropped quite so low had she avoided male puberty.

Doing that would have required something called puberty-blocking treatment — drugs used to suppress physical development. Ms. Hines did not take advantage of the treatment all those years ago because she was not aware transsexuality even existed, but she said she wishes she had.

And more and more young people today are making sure they do.

As gender-identity disorder has become more commonly diagnosed, it has also become more commonly diagnosed in children — today’s estimates say somewhere between 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 10,000 have the disorder. Boys who tell their doctor they want to grow up into a woman. Girls who hope to become men.

Doctors say the rise is not necessarily because more children have the disorder than ever before, but because Canadians are now more aware of the disorder and more likely to show up at the growing number of gender clinics. And doctors are offering help: Sex-changing treatment is on the rise.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK Equalities Minister Backs Transgender Festival

The British Equalities Minister has spoken out about the importance of advancing transgender equality.

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green Lynne Featherstone made a statement for GSN about the charity Sparkle, who will host a festival for transgender people in Manchester this July.

She said: ‘The government is strongly committed to advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality and great progress has been made in recent years.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: We’ll Mock Jesus But Not Mohammed, Says BBC Boss

The head of the BBC, Mark Thompson, has admitted that the broadcaster would never mock Mohammed like it mocks Jesus.

He justified the astonishing admission of religious bias by suggesting that mocking Mohammed might have the “emotional force” of “grotesque child pornography”.

But Jesus is fair game because, he said, Christianity has broad shoulders and fewer ties to ethnicity.


Mr Thompson says the BBC would never have broadcast Jerry Springer The Opera — a controversial musical that mocked Jesus — if its target had been Mohammed.

He made the remarks in an interview for a research project at the University of Oxford.

Mr Thompson said: “The point is that for a Muslim, a depiction, particularly a comic or demeaning depiction, of the Prophet Mohammed might have the emotional force of a piece of grotesque child pornography.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Tools May Have Been First Money

Hand axes, small handheld stone tools used by ancient humans, could have served as the first commodity in the human world thanks to their durability and utility.

The axes may have been traded between human groups and would have served as a social cue to others, Mimi Lam, a researcher from the University of British Columbia, suggested in her talk at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting here on Feb. 18.

“The Acheulean hand ax was standardized and shaped, became exchanged in social networks and took on a symbolic meaning,” Lam said. “My suggestion was that hand axes were the first commodity: A marketable good or service that has value and is used as an item for exchange.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]