Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120406

Financial Crisis
»Austerity Tax Could ‘Kill Off’ French Bookstores
»Euro Drops Below 1.20 Swiss Franc Floor
»French Trade Gap Widens
»U.S. Added Only 120,000 Jobs in March, Report Shows
»Burger King’s New Menu
»Dismissal Recommended for Marine Who Criticized Obama on Facebook
»Government Surveillance Crackdown on Internet Goes Into Overdrive
»Judge Upset by Obama’s Comments on Health Care Law
»Maryland Puts Gift Card Bounty on ‘Fish From Hell’
»North American Union Plan to Disarm the People of the United States
»Obama Should Know Better on Supreme Court’s Role
»Obama Gives Coal Miners the Shaft
»Old Man Attacked by Youths: “This is for Trayvon”
»Poll Shows Big Racial Divide in Opinion on Trayvon Martin Case
»Proposed Satellite Would Beam Solar Power to Earth
»School Children Forced to Participate in Kony 2012 Activism
»Secret Plan Underway to Revive Internet Censorship Bill SOPA
»The NSA is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)
»Trayvon Martin Killing: UN Human Rights Chief Calls for Investigation
»Two Airmen Ejected Before Navy Jet Crashed in Virginia Beach
»Two Navy Pilots Eject From Jet and Send Fighter Careening Into Apartments, Destroying Buildings
»Van Jones Group Plans America’s “Arab Spring” Revolt
»You Tube Now Banning Videos Critical of Global Warming Alarmism
»Your Cell Phone Makes You a Prisoner of a Digital World Where Virtually Anyone Can Hack You
Europe and the EU
»Austria: Designer of Iconic Porsche 911 Dies
»Britain’s Royal Air Force Considering Purchase of Israeli Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
»France: Eiffel Tower Lift Falls Down During Test
»French Fear New Serial Killer After Murders
»‘I Played Warcraft With Norway Killer’: Survivor
»Romania’s Hospital Scandal: Babies Left to Die as Doctors Refuse to Work Without Bribes
»Sweden: Social Democrats Sprint Into Poll Lead
»UK: School Standards at Risk From Attempts to ‘Cure Social Ills’
»Bosnia Marks 20 Years Since Start of War
North Africa
»Jihad and ‘Martyrdom’ In the Voting Booth?
»Tunisia: Muslims Threaten Church, Cover Its Cross With Garbage Bags
Israel and the Palestinians
»A View on Günter Grass: Why We Need an Open Debate on Israel
»Caroline Glick: The Eternal Liberation Movement
»Israel’s U.S. Envoy: Award to Helen Thomas Shows Palestinians Aren’t Ready for Peace
»Israel Wary of Changes in the Arab World
Middle East
»Iraq: Camp Ashraf Massacre: ‘Hypocrisy Runs Deep’
»Record Number of Refugees Flee Syria for Turkey
»The Price of Oil: Saudi Agenda: Our Gullibility
South Asia
»India: The “Massive Con” Causing a Suicide Every 30 Minutes
Culture Wars
»Video: Abortion Conditioning: The UN’s Sick Social Engineering Agenda
»Interview With Director James Cameron: ‘The ‘Titanic’ Shows That the Unthinkable Can Happen’
»Microsoft’s Kinect Spy System

Financial Crisis

Austerity Tax Could ‘Kill Off’ French Bookstores

France’s small bookstores have survived the rise of big chains, Amazon and digital books, but many fear a sales tax rise, part of the debt-saddled government’s austerity plans, could push them out of business. Until now the thousands of independent booksellers that dot France’s town centres offered the best of both worlds — a quaint setting, one-on-one tips and advice, and guaranteed prices as low as at a chain store.

Since 1981, the French state has set the price of books, largely to support independent bookstores which are seen as vital assets to local communities. But President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing government, fighting to get public finances under control, has hiked the sales tax on books from 5.5 percent to seven percent, under measures that took effect on April 1st.

With the French presidential campaign in full swing ahead of the April 22nd first round, the question has turned political with Sarkozy’s Socialist rival Francois Hollande vowing to repeal the rise.

Booksellers see the tax hike, part of measures aimed at saving a total of €72 billion ($95 billion), as a stab in the back. The government has “loaded the bullet designed to kill off independent booksellers,” charged Vincent Monade, a former bookseller and head of the Paris region’s Observatory for Books and Writing (MOTif).

Unlike the United States for instance, where bookselling has become the preserve of big business, France has one of the densest networks of small bookstores in the world.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Euro Drops Below 1.20 Swiss Franc Floor

The euro on Thursday dipped briefly below the 1.20 Swiss franc floor imposed by Switzerland’s central bank to curb the soaring local currency. The euro fell to 1.1997 francs at around 11.45am before shortly recovering to trade back above the threshold again at 1.2019 francs. A spokesman for the Swiss National Bank declined to comment to AFP whether the bank had intervened.

Since imposing the limit last year, the central bank has consistently said it would defend the level with the “utmost determination,” and pledged to buy unlimited amounts of euros to keep the 1.20 francs minimum.

Investors unsettled by the eurozone debt crisis and uncertain US economic prospects have flocked to a perceived safe haven in Switzerland, driving up the value of the franc to the detriment of Swiss exporters.

The Swiss currency gained 11 percent against the euro and 15 percent against the dollar between January and September 5, 2011, when the SNB intervened decisively on foreign exchange markets to stem its rise.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

French Trade Gap Widens

An increase in energy imports due to a cold snap in February sent France’s trade deficit jumping by nearly 15 percent in February to hit €6.4 billion ($8.4 billion), customs data showed on Friday. “In February, the increase in imports is in part due to energy purchases connected to the cold snap, which caused the deficit to widen to €6.398 billions from €5.593 billion in January,” said the French customs service in a statement.

In addition to the cold weather, three oil refineries were shut for maintenance, also causing a spurt in imports, the customs service noted. Imports rose to €43.6 billion in February and exports to €37.2 billion. Exports were helped by good sales of manufactured items, as well as agricultural commodities and military equipment, noted the customs service. Major deliveries of satellites and a rebound in vehicle exports also helped the monthly figures.

The 12-month trade deficit came in at €70.051 billion. France posted a record trade deficit in 2011 of €70.104 billion. France has a big structural trade deficit which is a central concern to policymakers, and contrasts with a big surplus by the leading eurozone economy, Germany.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

U.S. Added Only 120,000 Jobs in March, Report Shows

The United States economy added a relatively weak 120,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate dipped to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Many economists had expected March to be the fourth consecutive month of solid employment growth, with the addition of more than 200,000 jobs. In the week leading up to the government report, statistics suggested that hiring was picking up pace.

[Return to headlines]


Burger King’s New Menu

Burger King is trying to revive its ailing empire with a rival’s recipe for success. After years of lackluster sales of its Whoppers and fries, the struggling fast-food giant on Monday launched 10 food items in its biggest menu expansion since the chain was started in 1954.

But there are unmistakable similarities between Burger King’s new lineup and the offerings its much-bigger rival McDonald’s has rolled out in recent years. The Golden Arches already rolled out specialty salads in 2003, snack wraps in 2006, premium coffee drinks in 2009, and fruit smoothies in 2010.

Burger King doesn’t deny that its new chicken strips, caramel frappe coffees, Caesar salads and strawberry-banana smoothies sound pretty close to those on McDonald’s popular menu. But executives say the company came up with them through its research.

“Consumers wanted more choices,” said Steve Wiborg, president of Burger King’s North America operations. “Not just healthy choices, but choices they could get at the competition.”

The menu additions are part of Burger King’s plan to abandon its nearly single-minded courtship of young men, who were once the lifeblood of the industry but were hard hit by the economic downturn. Competitors went after new customers with breakfast items and healthier fare, but Burger King let its menu get stale. As a result, Burger King for the first time was edged out by Wendy’s last year as the nation’s No. 2 burger chain. McDonald’s solidified its hold on No. 1.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Dismissal Recommended for Marine Who Criticized Obama on Facebook

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A military board has recommended dismissal for a Marine sergeant who criticized President Barack Obama on his Facebook page, including allegedly putting the president’s face on a “Jackass” movie poster.

The Marine Corps administrative board said after a daylong hearing late Thursday at Camp Pendleton that Sgt. Gary Stein has committed misconduct and should be dismissed.

The board also recommended that Stein be given an other-then-honorable discharge. That would mean Stein would lose his benefits and would not be allowed on any military base.

… Stein’s lawyers argued that the 9-year Marine, whose service was to end in four months, was expressing his personal views and exercising his First Amendment rights.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Government Surveillance Crackdown on Internet Goes Into Overdrive

In a New York Times editorial, former government cybersecurity czar Richard A. Clarke has called for the creation of customs checks on all data leaving and entering US cyberspace.

Clarke makes the call in relation to Chinese hackers stealing information and intellectual property from US firms.

“If given the proper authorization, the United States government could stop files in the process of being stolen from getting to the Chinese hackers.” Clarke writes.

“If government agencies were authorized to create a major program to grab stolen data leaving the country, they could drastically reduce today’s wholesale theft of American corporate secrets.”

While Clarke may well be coming at this subject well intentioned, the fact that government has a long history of attempting to crackdown on internet freedom and control the web will mean his words are a cause of concern for many.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Judge Upset by Obama’s Comments on Health Care Law

A federal appeals court judge on Tuesday seemed to take offense to comments President Barack Obama made earlier this week in which he warned that if the Supreme Court overturned his signature health care overhaul it would amount to overreach by an “unelected” court.

The Supreme Court is set to issue a ruling later this year on whether to strike down some or all of the historic health care law.

During oral arguments in Houston in a separate challenge to another aspect of the federal health care law, U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith said Obama’s comments troubled a number of people who have read them as a challenge to the authority of federal courts.

“I’m referring to statements by the president in the past few days to the effect, I’m sure you’ve heard about them, that it is somehow inappropriate for what he termed unelected judges to strike acts of Congress that have enjoyed, he was referring of course to Obamacare, to what he termed a broad consensus and majorities in both houses of Congress,” Smith told Dana Kaersvang, an attorney with the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Maryland Puts Gift Card Bounty on ‘Fish From Hell’

Wildlife officials in Maryland have put a bounty on the snakehead, the so-called “fish from hell” that can migrate on land and devastates the eco-systems of lakes, ponds and streams.

The state will give out $200 gift cards for Bass Pro Shops as well as other prizes for catching and killing the fish, which is native to Africa and Asia but is believed to have made its way to America through Asian seafood merchants.

“We do not want snakeheads in our waters,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Inland Fisheries Director Don Cosden. “This initiative is a way to remind anglers that it is important to catch and remove this invasive species of fish.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North American Union Plan to Disarm the People of the United States

The international insurgent President Barack Obama hosted Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for talks on transnational trade and security Monday. This is a blatant display of an international socialist cabal, intent on further destroying the sovereignty of our republic and our individual states.

Mexican President Calderon proudly stated that his socialist government had confiscated 140,000 firearms in Mexico and then tried to imply that every one of them was bought in a gun store in the United States. He blamed the rash of violence in Mexico on the sunsetting of our unconstitutional assault weapons ban, suggesting new gun restrictions and confiscations in the United States as a necessity for Mexico’s security.

There was of course no mention of the fact that our southern border is being deliberately left wide open. And of course no mention of the fact that US Attorney General Eric Holder, acting as representative for the insurgent Obama and in correlation with the Mexican government, has been running guns to Mexico and drugs back into the United States for years now.

This communist parley was immediately followed by the announcement that the FBI had arrived in Florida to begin investigating the death of Trayvon Martin. It looks like what this whole thing is building into is an attempt at gun confiscation in the United States.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Should Know Better on Supreme Court’s Role

Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger professor of legal history at Northwestern University School of Law and a professor of business law at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He signed two of the amicus briefs submitted to the Supreme Court challenging the health care law.

In what must be the most extraordinary statement of his presidency, Barack Obama on Monday blasted the possibility that the United States Supreme Court might overturn the Affordable Care Act. Obama said the court would take an “unprecedented, extraordinary step” if it overturns the law, because it was passed by “a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

Setting aside the point that the ACA did not pass with an overwhelming majority, but by a party-line vote in the Senate and seven votes in the House, and without the support of a single member of the Republican Party, the most astonishing thing about Obama’s diatribe was the fundamental misunderstanding of our constitutional tradition it revealed.

Since 1788, in the famous defense of the Constitution set forth by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, it has been understood that it is the task of the Supreme Court to rein in majoritarian legislatures when they go beyond what the Constitution permits.

This is not, as Obama implies, judicial activism, or political activity on the part of the justices. This is simply, as Hamilton explained, fidelity to the Constitution itself, fidelity to the highest expression of “We the People of the United States,” the body whose representatives ratified that Constitution.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Obama Gives Coal Miners the Shaft

The notion that President Obama is trying to fire up his “base,” as he prepares for a re-election campaign, raises the question of what constitutes his base. It is becoming increasingly clear that the “workers” he is supposedly concerned about are going to be dismissed or ignored so that wealthy environmental groups can be accommodated.

Consider the words of Cecil Roberts, president of the powerful United Mine Workers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, after EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson made a ruling against coal plants. “The Navy SEALs shot Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan and Lisa Jackson shot us in Washington,” Roberts said. Those who missed the news about Jackson shutting down coal plants through executive branch rules and regulations may have been unprepared for the Roberts assault. It was a big story for the media but framed in a way that played down the significance of what is taking place.

“For New Generation of Power Plants, a New Emission Rule From the E.P.A.” was the misleading headline over the story in The New York Times. Much more is at stake than just a “new emission rule” that is somehow supposed to affect global warming.

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, put it another way, saying the EPA “is fully engaging in a war on coal…” Manchin went on, “this ill-advised proposal to prevent new coal-fueled generation will move this country away from using all our domestic resources, and I will fight it every step of the way.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Old Man Attacked by Youths: “This is for Trayvon”

An old man was assaulted by a gang in retaliation for the killing of Trayvon Martin:

While Mr. Watts was down the boys kicked him, over and over, shouting, “[Get] that white [man]. This is for Trayvon … Trayvon lives, white [man]. Kill that white [man],” according to a police report.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Poll Shows Big Racial Divide in Opinion on Trayvon Martin Case

Americans are sharply divided by race in their opinion of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Florida by a Hispanic neighborhood watchman. A Gallup/USA Today poll finds that most black Americans (73 percent) think Trayvon Martin’s shooter, George Zimmerman, would have been arrested if Martin had been white. Only 33 percent of non-Hispanic white people said the same thing.

The racial divide on Zimmerman’s guilt was also big: 51 percent of black people said Zimmerman is “definitely guilty” based on the information available, compared to only 10 percent of whites. About 20 percent of both whites and blacks said Zimmerman was “probably guilty.”

Zimmerman told police that he was following Martin because he looked “suspicious” when the unarmed 17-year-old then attacked him. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense. He hasn’t been charged. Martin’s family says Zimmerman followed and then attacked and shot Martin in an act of vigilante policing.

An earlier Pew Research Center poll found that only 16 percent of black people said there had been too much media coverage of the shooting, compared to 43 percent of white people. The Gallup poll of more than 3,000 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Proposed Satellite Would Beam Solar Power to Earth

An energy-hungry Earth is in need of transformational and sustainable energy solutions, experts say.

For decades, researchers have been appraising the use of power-beaming solar-power satellites. But the projected cost, complexity and energy economics of the notion seemingly short-circuited the idea.

Now, a unique new approach has entered the scene, dubbed SPS-ALPHA, short for Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array. Leader of the concept is John Mankins of Artemis Innovation Management Solutions of Santa Maria, Calif.

Mankins provided a detailed overview of the power-beaming concept here during the 2012 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts meeting March 27-29.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

School Children Forced to Participate in Kony 2012 Activism

An reader from Colorado writes to tell us the Cherry Creek Public School district in western Arapahoe County is forcing students to watch Kony 2012. According to the father of a student attending school in the district, students were instructed to write “a letter to Senator Mark Udall in support of Invisible Children’s effort to capture Joseph Kony.”

“This is incredibly disturbing that this assignment’s goal was to force students into some level of political activism in support of a potentially violent conflict (war). Schools are not to be utilized for any activist purposes or those viewpoints forced upon the students outside of the will of the parents,” the father writes.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Secret Plan Underway to Revive Internet Censorship Bill SOPA

Motion Picture Association of America CEO and former Senator Chris Dodd has revealed perhaps more than he intended to in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter with regards to the much maligned Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Despite the fact that the legislation was indefinitely shelved in January, Dodd said he was “confident” that there are conversations going on between Hollywood and Silicon Valley to help revive SOPA.

“Between now and sometime next year [after the presidential election], the two industries need to come to an understanding,” Dodd told the magazine.

When asked whether there are negotiations going on now, Dodd replied: “I’m confident that’s the case, but I’m not going to go into more detail because obviously if I do, it becomes counterproductive.”

Clearly Dodd does not want a repeat of the widespread publicity and large scale protests that aided the defeat of the legislation at the beginning of the year.


SOPA, and the Protecting IP Act (PIPA), the Senate version of the bill, caused a huge backlash when it became clear that they constituted part of a long running agenda to completely re-structure and centralize the internet under government control.

Had the bills become law, they would have provided the U.S. government, through the office of the Attorney General, the power to pursue court orders against any website believed to be engaging in or ‘facilitating’ extremely broadly defined ‘copyright infringement’.

The terminology in the legislation was so encompassing that entire web sites faced the threat of being effectively seized and shut down for merely displaying one ‘offending’ hyperlink.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The NSA is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)

The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.

Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978-and the number of plural marriages has tripled-so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.

But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol.

Rather than Bibles, prophets, and worshippers, this temple will be filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. And instead of listening for words flowing down from heaven, these newcomers will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Trayvon Martin Killing: UN Human Rights Chief Calls for Investigation

UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay has called for an “immediate investigation” into the circumstances surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen who was shot dead by a volunteer neighbourhood watchman in Florida.

Ms Pillay made the comments about the controversial case at a press conference in Barbados, as she wrapped up a three-day visit to the Caribbean island nation. “As High Commissioner for Human Rights, I call for an immediate investigation,” she said. “Justice must be done for the victim. It’s not just this individual case. It calls into question the delivery of justice in all situations like this.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Two Airmen Ejected Before Navy Jet Crashed in Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH— Fire crews are now searching an apartment complex near Naval Air Station Oceana that was struck Friday by a Navy jet, according to emergency officials.

Four people including two pilots have been transported to the hospital, according to Marc Davis, a Virginia Beach spokesman. Their conditions are not known. The two airman were safely ejected before their plane crashed into the Mayfair Mews apartment complex on Birdneck Road.

A Navy spokesman has confirmed to the media that the plane that crashed was an F/A-18 Hornet — a two-seat jet belonging to VFA (Strike Fighter Squadron) 106.

Davis said 63 people have been displaced from the apartment complex and they are working to set up a shelter.

View Larger Map

Interstate 264 is closed to all eastbound traffic at First Colonial, and the exit ramp from I-264 onto Laskin Road has been closed. Wayne Shank, executive director of the Norfolk International Airport, said no flights or departures are being affected.

Sean Pepe, of Norfolk, and Kenny Carver, of Hampton were driving on Interstate 264 when they saw the jet seem to be “floating” in the air before it went down behind some trees.

“It was odd, but we didn’t think anything of it,” Pepe said. “We thought it was doing maneuvers. We were watching the plane but didn’t see the impact. We saw it go down and there was a ‘boom.’ Then there was black smoke everywhere.”

Kelli McQuaid, who lives near the site, was in her house and heard a crash that shook her home. The aircraft crashed into Mayfair Mews, a one-story apartment complex with several buildings of indivudaual units. It appeared to destroy two buildings, one immediately and the other was destroyed by fire.

McQuaid said it happened about 12:02. She was doing routine stuff in her house when it shook. Other jets were in the air, she said, and they continued to circle above the crash site.

[Return to headlines]

Two Navy Pilots Eject From Jet and Send Fighter Careening Into Apartments, Destroying Buildings

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A fighter jet that malfunctioned just after takeoff hurtled into a Virginia Beach apartment complex on Friday in a spectacular crash that sent flames and black smoke billowing from the rubble.

The two pilots managed to eject just before impact, suffering minor injuries along with five others on the ground. Several residents described hearing a loud explosion and looking out their windows to see the red and orange blaze. In the confusion that followed, two men helped one of the bloodied pilots from the two-seat F18 Hornet move to safety.

“Oh, my God, I heard three really loud explosions, then the black smoke went up high in the sky,” said 71-year-old Felissa Ezell, who lives in a townhouse near the crash site.

By evening, emergency crews were searching through the charred remains of the complex, where some 40 apartment units were damaged or destroyed. No fatalities had been reported.

Seven people, including the pilots from nearby Naval Air Station Oceana, were taken to a hospital. All except one of the pilots were released by late afternoon.

Virginia Beach Fire Department Capt. Tim Riley said three residents remained unaccounted for late Friday.

“We don’t know if we have working cell numbers, if they’ve traveled,” Riley said. “We don’t know if people are staying with other people.”

He said crews had done an exhaustive search of about 95 percent of the apartment complex and would continue searching throughout the night.

“We consider ourselves very fortunate,” he said.

The plane had dumped loads of fuel before crashing, though it wasn’t clear if that was because of a malfunction or an intentional maneuver by the pilots, said Capt. Mark Weisgerber with U.S. Fleet Forces Command. He said investigators will try to determine what happened. The jet went down less than 10 miles from Oceana.

Bruce Nedelka, the Virginia Beach EMS division chief, said witnesses saw fuel being dumped from the jet before it went down, and that fuel was found on buildings and vehicles in the area.

The plane not having as much fuel on board “mitigated what could have been an absolute massive, massive fireball and fire,” Nedelka said. “With all of that jet fuel dumped, it was much less than what it could have been.”

The crash happened in the Hampton Roads area, which has a large concentration of military bases, including Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. Naval Air Station Oceana, where the F/A-18D that crashed was assigned, is located in Virginia Beach. Both the pilots were from Virginia Beach, Weisgerber said.

The pilots included a student and an instructor. Weisgerber said he did not know how many times the student pilot had been in the air, but that the instructor was “extremely experienced.”

Dozens of police cars, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles filled the densely populated neighborhood where the plane crashed. Yellow fire hoses snaked through side streets as fire crews poured water on the charred rooftops of brick apartment houses. By late afternoon, the fire had been put out.

[Return to headlines]

Van Jones Group Plans America’s “Arab Spring” Revolt

An Egypt-styled “Arab Spring,” which has put radicals in charge of the government, will be launched in the United States this spring with a war on “corporate power, Wall Street greed and the political corruption of the 1 percent,” according to the group headed by former Obama green aide Van Jones.

“They’re really not going to like the 99 percent Spring,” said Rebuild the Dream in an organizing email Friday.

Comparing the collection of protests last year that are symbolized by the 99 percent campaign and Occupy movement, to those of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., the group said that “we were all inspired by the protesters of the Arab Spring who stood up to totalitarian governments, and inspired the Occupy movement here in America.”

The plan for now is to hold protest training sessions around the nation next week. Over 900 are scheduled so far.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

You Tube Now Banning Videos Critical of Global Warming Alarmism

The video, which can be viewed above via, contains a clip from Infowars Nightly News in which Alex Jones gives Professor Norgaard the coveted ‘Skeksy Award’, which is reserved for only the most ardent promoters of tyranny and authoritarianism.

After Rush Limbaugh also directed scorn at Norgaard’s work, the University of Oregon had to back down and claim the inclusion of the word “treated” in the press release describing Norgaard’s paper was a mistake. Norgaard is now being framed at the victim of the whole piece, despite the fact that her dangerously authoritarian tendencies are shared by a raft of other prominent global warming alarmists.

Indeed, videos made by global warming alarmist groups showing children being blown up and having their guts splatted everywhere for not reducing their carbon footprint are apparently fine by You Tube, but suggesting Norgaard isn’t the most attractive woman on the planet is tantamount to hate speech.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Your Cell Phone Makes You a Prisoner of a Digital World Where Virtually Anyone Can Hack You

If you own a cell phone, you might as well kiss your privacy goodbye. Cell phone companies know more about us than most of us would ever dare to imagine. Your cell phone company is tracking everywhere that you go and it is making a record of everything that you do with your phone.

Much worse, there is a good chance that your cell phone company has been selling this information to anyone that is willing to pay the price — including local law enforcement. In addition, it is an open secret that the federal government monitors and records all cell phone calls. The “private conversation” that you are having with a friend today will be kept in federal government databanks for many years to come. The truth is that by using a cell phone, you willingly make yourself a prisoner of a digital world where every move that you make and every conversation that you have is permanently recorded. But it is not just cell phone companies and government agencies that you have to worry about. As you will see at the end of this article, it is incredibly easy for any would-be stalker to hack you and track your every movement using your cell phone.


Christians in Iran have learned that they must take the batteries entirely out of their cell phones before they gather for home church meetings. If they don’t take the batteries out of their cell phones, there is a good chance that the secret police will show up and drag them off to prison.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austria: Designer of Iconic Porsche 911 Dies

The designer of Porsche’s classic 911 sportscar, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, died Thursday at the age of 76 in the Austrian city of Salzburg, the German company said. The grandson of the luxury automaker’s founder, F.A. Porsche, as he was known, dreamed up in 1963 the sleek lines and alluring curves of the 911 that have sent car fans’ hearts a-flutter for half a century.

“As creator of the Porsche 911, he established a design culture in our company that still leaves its mark on our sports cars,” the head of Porsche’s supervisory board, Matthias Mueller, said in a statement. The 911 model is now in its seventh generation. “A design of the century for which Porsche is envied around the world,” the mass-market Bild newspaper said of the 911 in an obituary for Porsche. “True fans of the brand only permit slight changes to the design to this day.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Britain’s Royal Air Force Considering Purchase of Israeli Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

U.K. looking at the Eitan system, also known as the Heron TP — the largest and most sophisticated drone Israel makes.

Get Haaretz on iPhone Get Haaretz on Android LONDON — Britain’s Royal Air Force has been considering the purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel.

The Eitan, also known as the Heron TP, is the largest and most sophisticated drone Israel makes. It is assembled by Israel Aerospace Industries and began operational service in the Israel Air Force two years ago, in a new squadron at the Tel Nof airbase.

The Eitan’s wingspan is as wide as a Boeing 737 airliner and it can stay in the air for up to forty hours, carrying out long-range missions at 40 thousand feet, hundreds of kilometers away from base, broadcasting back real-time footage of wide areas. According to foreign sources, the Eitan also carries out missions over Iran.

Israeli and British security sources have confirmed in recent days that the Royal Air Force has been considering buying a number of Eitan systems, since the Mantis, a joint British-French unmanned strategic project, has been delayed and will not be operational before 2020.

No official request has yet been made by the British Ministry of Defense and for now, the RAF is only making initial examinations and is also considering American UAVs and continuing its manned surveillance flights while waiting for the Mantis.

A purchase of an Israeli military system will surely cause protests by pro-Palestinian organizations. Today, Israel buys very little military products from Britain due to export limits placed in the past by the British foreign ministry.

If the RAF selects the Eitan, it will be the second Israeli UAV bought by the British, following the Hermes 450, which is developed in Israel by Elbit and is built in Britain in a joint venture with the Thales Company as part of a NIS 4.7 billion contract.

That deal also drew anti-Israel protest and the British demanded that Elbit cease test-flights over the Golan Heights and move them to within the Green Line. The Hermes 450 is to carry out tactical surveillance missions over Afghanistan.

An official at Israel Aerospace Industries said that, “Following the decision of the French ministry of defense to purchase the Eitan, we certainly expect other European armies to buy it.”

A British Ministry of Defense spokesperson said that, “In order to provide our troops with the best equipment available, we continually look at how we can exploit a range of emerging and developing technologies to support our Armed Forces.”

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

France: Eiffel Tower Lift Falls Down During Test

A lift at the Eiffel Tower in Paris has fallen down its shaft as it was undergoing maintenance tests. Management says the incident is ‘serious’ and is investigating its cause.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

French Fear New Serial Killer After Murders

Police in France are investigating whether another serial killer is on the loose, after four people were killed in similar circumstances south of Paris.

The latest victim was a 48-year-old mother, named by French media as Nadjia Lahsene, who was shot dead outside her home in Grigny, a suburb in the southern outskirts of the capital.

She was killed by a gunman who fled on a motorbike — recalling the method used by Islamist extremist Mohammed Merah.

Merah was killed by offices in southern France last month after committing seven murders.

But police believe there may be a link between the murder of Ms Lahsene and several other homicides in the area over the past five months.

“That is a concern, but in any case, as in every criminal inquiry, we are putting every effort into finding out who is behind this,” France’s interior minister Claude Gueant said.

Authorities have added however that nothing yet suggests any political or religious motives are behind the shootings.

On Thursday, Ms Lahsene, a woman of Algerian origin, was killed in the foyer of the apartment block where she lived with her 18-year-old son.

“Everyone is in shock,” said one of her neighbours, who asked not to be named. “She didn’t feel threatened. She’s a normal person, simple, no history.”…

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

‘I Played Warcraft With Norway Killer’: Survivor

A 17-year-old Norwegian boy who hid from Anders Behring Breivik during his island killing spree last summer has revealed that he once played World of Warcraft with the confessed mass killer. “It was a sickening feeling when I realized I had played for two or three hours with the man who tried to kill me,” Fred Ove Løtuft told local newspaper Bergens Tidende.

Løtuft took shelter behind the branches of a large tree for an hour and a half as Breivik gunned down 69 mostly young people at a summer camp for members of the Labour Party’s youth wing on the island of Utøya on July 22nd last year. As Breivik launched an attack on the island’s café, Løtuft said he instinctively began to hunt for a secure hiding place. “I’ve played a lot of shooting games where you have to get away and hide,” he said.

Passing himself off as a Finn, Breivik led a clan in World of Warcraft called the Knights Templar, Løtuft said. In his manifesto, Breivik claimed he belonged to an “anti-Jihad” terrorist organization of the same name.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Romania’s Hospital Scandal: Babies Left to Die as Doctors Refuse to Work Without Bribes

A quarter of a century after the West learned about Ceausescu’s orphanages, children are again the victims, this time of endemic corruption

Dr Catalin Cirstoveanu runs a cardio unit with state-of-the-art equipment at a Bucharest children’s hospital. But not a single child has been treated in the year and a half since it opened. The reason? Medical staff he needs to bring in to run the machinery would have expected bribes.

So Dr Cirstoveanu has launched a lonely crusade to save babies who come to him for care. He flies them to Western Europe on budget flights so they can be treated by doctors who don’t demand kickbacks. That’s what he did last week for 13-day-old Catalin, who needed heart surgery. Dr Cirstoveanu packed a small bag, slipped emergency breathing equipment into the baby carrier and caught a cheap flight to Italy, where doctors were waiting to perform the surgery.

The operation was successful. Two days later, though, a three-week-old baby that Dr Cirstoveanu whisked away to the same clinic in Italy — with tubes piercing her tiny frame — died before she was able to have lymph gland surgery. “I was very worried it wouldn’t work,” he said. “But in Romania, she would have died anyway.”

The soft-spoken doctor is fighting an exhausting and largely solitary battle against a culture of corruption that is so embedded in Romania that surgeons demand bribes to save infants’ lives, and it’s even necessary to slip cash to a nurse to get your sheets changed. It’s one of the reasons why the country’s infant mortality rate is more than double the European Union average, with one in 100 children not reaching their first birthday. “To be honest, it’s so deeply rooted into our system that it’s really difficult to eliminate,” the health minister Ladislau Ritli said.

Patients in Romania — a member of the European Union — routinely discuss the “stock market” rate for bribes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Social Democrats Sprint Into Poll Lead

Spearheaded by an increasingly popular new leader, the Social Democrats have come out on top of a party preference survey for the first time since the 2010 general election. Asked which party they would vote for were an election to be held today, 34.1 percent plumped for the Social Democrats in Demoskop’s April poll.

The result put Stefan Löfven’s party ahead of the Moderates, with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s party dropping back three percentage points to 29.9 percent. “This shows that we’ve managed to get our policy message out there in recent months,” party secretary Carin Jämtin told newspaper Expressen.

Stefan’s Löfven’s rising support has already made him the most popular Social Democratic leader since former Prime Minister Göran Persson hit his popularity peak in the early 2000s, according to the results of a separate poll.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: School Standards at Risk From Attempts to ‘Cure Social Ills’

Education standards are being put at risk by repeated attempts to force schools to cure the country’s biggest social problems, a minister warned today.

Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, said the “first answer” to almost any challenge facing society — such as obesity, teenage pregnancy and knife crime — was to give schools a new duty to tackle the issue.

He said he was regularly presented with proposals “from one well-meaning group or another” to add “something socially desirable” to the curriculum.

But Mr Gibb warned that the move risked cutting the amount of time available for teaching traditional subjects — the “best way out of poverty” for young people.

The comments come just a week after a major report into last year’s riots in England suggested that schools should be required to “develop and publish their policies on building character”.

It suggested that primary and secondary schools should undertake regular assessments of pupils’ character, in a move likely to cover issues such as self-confidence, honesty and sense of right and wrong.

But addressing the Association of Teachers and Lecturers annual conference in Manchester, Mr Gibb said: “Today it seems that the first answer of many to almost any problem in society is to give a duty to schools to tackle it — be it obesity, teenage pregnancy, or knife crime.

“It feels like every other week I am presented with proposals from one well-meaning group or another to add something socially desirable to the curriculum.

“I see my role as resisting those pressures so that schools can concentrate on educating young people and teachers can focus on teaching.”

The last Government was repeatedly criticised for introducing a series of new duties for English state schools.

This included compulsory lessons in citizenship, a new onus on schools to promote community cohesion, nutritional standards for food and an overhaul of the curriculum covering personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) lessons.

Speaking after his conference address, Mr Gibb told how he had been recently asked to place chess on the National Curriculum and introduce lessons on Pilates, the body conditioning routine that helps build flexibility and muscle strength.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]


Bosnia Marks 20 Years Since Start of War

Bosnia is commemorating 20 years since the start of its 1992-1995 war. While the fighting is over, the ethnically divided country is not exactly at peace.

Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday marked the 20th anniversary of the start of the civil war that claimed 100,000 lives and left the country still divided along ethnic and religious lines.

On Sarajevo’s main street, exactly 11,541 red chairs were lines up in rows representing the men, women and children killed in the 44-month assault on the city. It became the longest siege of a city in modern history, with some 330 shells hitting every day.

“This city needs to stop for a moment and pay tribute to its killed citizens,” said Haris Pasovic, organizer of the exhibition titled the “Sarajevo Red Line.” Concerts, performances and other exhibitions were also planned to mark the occasion.

Bosnia had declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, supported by a referendum in February and March the following year. The vote was boycotted by a majority of Bosnian Serbs, who largely wanted to stay part of the Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Jihad and ‘Martyrdom’ In the Voting Booth?

by Raymond Ibrahim

Over and over, evidence emerges from Islamic nations that democracy and voting are instrumental means to an intrinsic end: the establishment of a decidedly undemocratic but draconian form of law-Islamic law, or Sharia.

Earlier, for instance, there was Dr. Talat Zahran, an Egyptian cleric who proclaimed that it is “obligatory to cheat at elections-a beautiful thing.” His logic was simple: voting is a tool, an instrument, the only value of which is to empower Sharia.

Now an Egyptian cleric has thoroughly Islamized the concept of voting.

Context: the presidential campaign of Abu Ismail-the Salafi candidate who openly declared that there is no freedom in Islam, the candidate most likely to try to implement the totality of Sharia if elected-has been compromised due to recent allegations that his mother was an American citizen.

In response, Hazim Shuman, a cleric that appears on satellite, just issued a fatwa saying, “Voting for Abu Ismail is jihad in the path of Allah (jihad fi sabil Allah), and paradise awaits whoever is martyred during Abu Ismail’s political campaign.”

Anyone familiar with Islam’s language knows that jihad fi sabil Allah is synonymous with violence or, from a non-Muslim perspective, terror. For example, the standard Islamic legal text, Umdat al-Salik (“Reliance of the Traveler”) translates fi sabil Allah as “those fighting for Allah”; next to the index entry for fi sabil Allah it simply says “see jihad.”

Incidentally, “jihad in the path of Allah” is what conquered most of what is now called the “Muslim world.”

The logic of this fatwa is as follows: one of the primary purposes of violent jihad is to establish Islamic law; because Abu Ismail is the most likely candidate to institutionalize Sharia if elected, supporting him any which way-including, apparently, through violence and death-is a form of jihad with the highest paradisiacal rewards for those who die trying.

In short, democracy, voting-even the individual candidates, including Abu Ismail-are all means to one end: the establishment of Islamic law.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Muslims Threaten Church, Cover Its Cross With Garbage Bags

by Raymond Ibrahim

According to Al Quds, last Tuesday it was revealed that the Christian Orthodox Church in Tunis, one of very few churches in the country of Tunisia, is being “abused” and receiving “threatening messages” from “Salafis.” Church members are described as “living in a state of terror,” so much so that the Russian ambassador in Tunis specifically requested the nation’s Ministry of Interior to “protect the church.”

The abuse has gotten to the point where “Salafis covered the cross of the church with garbage bags, telling the church members that they do not wish to see the vision of the Cross anywhere in the Islamic state of Tunisia.”

Among all the Arabic-speaking nations, Tunisia has long been described as one of the most “secular” and “liberal”; it was also the first nation where the much ballyhooed “Arab Spring” began. Now its very few churches are not tolerated, and their crucifixes abhorred. If this is “tolerant” Tunisia, what should one expect from the more “radical” nations? More evidence of the true nature of the “Arab Spring.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

A View on Günter Grass: Why We Need an Open Debate on Israel

A Commentary by Jakob Augstein

Is Israel a threat to world peace? German writer Günter Grass has been blasted as an anti-Semite this week for making just such a claim in a new poem. But while the verse may not win any awards, Grass has kicked off an important — and long overdue — debate. And, he’s right.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: The Eternal Liberation Movement

Hamas terror boss Fathi Hamad is a notable figure. Hamad is both the director of Hamas’s al-Aksa television station and the terror group’s “minister” of the interior and national security. His double portfolio is a clear expression of the much ignored fact that for terrorists, propaganda is inseparable from violence.

Hamad’s key posts make him a man worth listening to. His statements necessarily indicate Hamas’s general direction.

On March 23, Hamad was interviewed by Egypt’s Al Hekma television station. The interview was translated by MEMRI.

Hamad made two central points. First, he claimed that the Palestinian war against Israel is the keystone of the global jihad. Second, he said the Palestinians are not a distinct people, but transplanted Egyptians and Saudis.

In his words, “At al-Aksa and on the land of Palestine, all the conspiracies, throughout history, have been shattered — the conspiracies of the Crusaders, and the conspiracies of the Tatars. At al- Aksa and on the land of Palestine, the Battle of Hattin was waged. The [West] does not want this noble history to repeat itself, because the Jews and their allies would be annihilated — the Zionists, the Americans and the imperialists.

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Israel’s U.S. Envoy: Award to Helen Thomas Shows Palestinians Aren’t Ready for Peace

Long-time reporter, criticized for her 2010 anti-Israel comments, honored by the PLO’s U.S. mission for her defense of the ‘Palestinian position every step of the way.’

Get Haaretz on iPhone Get Haaretz on Android A decision by the Palestinian mission to the United States to honor journalist Helen Thomas proves the Palestinians inability to meet the “basic requisites of peace,” Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said on Tuesday.

Oren, responding to a Sunday ceremony in which Thomas was marked for her support of the “Palestinian position, said he “was appalled by the award ceremony given by the PLO delegation in Washington to Helen Thomas, who has been completely shunned by all decent Americans after making anti-Semitic remarks, along with teaching Palestinian children to hate the Jewish State and to glorify suicide bombers.”

“This atrocious act is an indication of the Palestinian Authority’s failure to meet the basic requisites of peace,” he added.

Thomas, a senior White House reporter, drew fire in 2010 when, when asked of her opinion on Israel, she said: “Tell them that they need to get out of Palestine, and return home to Germany, Poland, and America.”

As a result of her remark, an onslaught of public criticism forced Thomas to apologize and retire. Shortly after her retirement, however, Thomas claimed she said “eactly what she thought.” Following those comments, the Society of Professional Journalists decided to discontinue the yearly lifetime achievement award bearing Thomas’ name.

On Sunday, however, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization General Mission to the U.S., Maen Areikat, led a Washington ceremony honoring Thomas, recognizing what he said was her “long career in the field of journalism, during which she defended the Palestinian position every step of the way.”

The event was also attended by PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi, who presented the prize to Thomas, and indicated that the honor came directly from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

According to the Washington PLO office’s statement, Ashrawi “presented Thomas with the appreciation and blessing of the president and the Palestinian people, for all of her actions supporting Palestine in the West.”

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Israel Wary of Changes in the Arab World

For decades, Israel had been hoping for change in the Arab world. Yet now that the region is in upheaval, its not just Israeli citizens who are concerned. The government has shown a preference for walling itself in rather than exploring new opportunities.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iraq: Camp Ashraf Massacre: ‘Hypocrisy Runs Deep’

About a year ago, members of the Iraqi army killed 34 members of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran at Camp Ashraf. The story drew little coverage but serves as a symbol of countless mistakes from both the Bush and Obama administrations in Iraq.

That’s the opinion of retired U.S. Army Col. Wesley Martin, who was commander of Camp Ashraf at the time of the massacre. Martin explains why he’s outraged that the Iranian group was considered a terrorist group by our own government at the time and still is today.

“The hypocrisy runs deep. Iraq is going to pull further away from the U.S. The only reason they’re holding on to us now is because of the financial help going over there,” Martin told WND.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Record Number of Refugees Flee Syria for Turkey

Violence in Syria has increased just days before an April 10 deadline for the start of a cease-fire between government troops and rebels, as the number of Syrians seeking refuge in Turkey hits a new high. A record number of refugees have fled the violence in Syria into Turkey as a deadline for a cease-fire promised by the government quickly approaches.

Turkish officials said more than 2,800 Syrians arrived on Thursday and Friday — more than double the previously highest number entering on a single day. That puts the total number of Syrian refugees in Turkey at nearly 24,000.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Price of Oil: Saudi Agenda: Our Gullibility

by Raymond J. Learsy

One is compelled to pull out that old chestnut, “There he goes again.” The face of Saudi oil, and de facto senior voice of the OPEC cartel, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi entertained us to one of his seminal dissertations, expounding on Saudi Arabia’s concerns for the well being of all mankind.

Stating the case clearly, that Saudi Arabia “… remains the world’s largest producer and the country with the largest proven reserves, so it has a responsibility to do what it can to mitigate prices.” No argument here.

Yet that bit of wisdom is prefaced by the oldest of canards, “Needless to say Saudi Arabia does not control the price: it sells its crude according to international prices.” A truly bizarre declaration coming from the leading protagonist of the cartel, OPEC, whose primary function is to limit the supply of oil to world markets to control, and within the limits of the world’s tolerance, to maximize the price of crude oil in the market place. Clearly their efforts have been so successful that the limits of tolerance have now been reached and letting off a little steam has become part of the ritual.

The ritual is encapsulated in the mantra repeated in Mr. Ali Naimi’s pronouncement: “The bottom line is that Saudi Arabia would like to see a lower price . It would like to see a fair and reasonable price, that will not hurt the economic recovery, especially in emerging and developing countries…”. A statement that automatically elicits our well inculcated and programmed hosannas whenever such mumblings come out of Riyadh.

The trouble is we have heard this babble before and now again. In December of 2008, with oil prices teetering below $40 a barrel and gasoline prices accordingly restrained, our now benevolent Saudi Oil Minister Al Naimi would pontificate, after King Abdullah himself had ventured that $75/bbl was a fair and reasonable price, enlightening us, “You must understand that the purpose of the $75 price is for a much more noble cause. You need every producer to produce, and marginal producers cannot produce at $40 a barrel.” This coming from a producer whose “all inclusive” production costs veer toward “$1.50/bbl” or possibly less according to a pronouncement made by none other than Mr. Ali Naimi at the Houston Oil Forum in November 1999.

Well, several months after the December 2008 statement giving us the parameters of oil price ‘nobility’ the price touched and quickly breached Mr. Al Naimi’s $75/bbl. As it went shooting on to $100/bbl and well beyond with barely a word of discomfiture coming from OPEC’s or the Saudi Oil Ministry’s headquarters.

As the price veered to $100 and higher the International Energy Agency had the presumption to criticize OPEC for holding back production only to be roundly reprimanded by OPEC’s the Secretary General El-Badri blaming high prices on speculation and “technical means”, whatever that means.

Speaking of speculation — or worse, manipulation — and given the lack of transparency in the trading of oil futures in the world’s commodity markets, it would be interesting to hear from Mr. Ali Naimi whether the Saudi Oil Ministry, Aramco, the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund or whatever Saudi or OPEC designees are currently holding oil futures contracts and to what purpose. Certainly not to lower the price of oil?

Anyway, thank you Mr. Ali Naimi. Your sincerity and good deeds are appreciated.

           — Hat tip: Gort[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: The “Massive Con” Causing a Suicide Every 30 Minutes

The introduction of genetically engineered seeds, and the coercion of Indian farmers to use them, has led to the largest wave of recorded suicides in human history.

Indian farmers have been robbed of their livelihoods, causing them to take their own lives in despair.

Over the past 16 years, it is estimated that more than a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide.

Who is responsible for this tragedy?

The most obvious culprits are global corporations like Monsanto, Cargill and Syngenta and the genetically engineered seed they have forced upon farmers worldwide.

None are hit harder than those in India, where socioeconomic and environmental factors have magnified the impact, making it almost impossible for these farmers to survive.

In fact, genetically engineered seeds are so fundamental to the problem that it’s been termed “GM Genocide.”ii

The rate of Indian farmer suicides has greatly increased since the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002iii.

This is not a pleasant subject to read about, but it is a necessary one… one that can help you understand why it’s so important to continue fighting seed monopolies with ever-increased resolve.

I experienced the Indian farmers’ plight firsthand while spending two weeks in India, where I saw for myself the devastating effects of GM seed upon the lives and livelihoods of these rural farmers.

Genetically Engineered Seeds Spell Global Disaster

There are four primary factors directly related to the use of genetically engineered seed that contribute heavily to this grim situation:

1. Compared to traditional seed, genetically engineered seeds are very expensive and have to be repurchased every planting season.
2. Genetically engineered crops require much more water to grow, have much higher requirements for fertilizer and pesticide, in spite of Monsanto’s claims to the contrary and, in spite of their cost to farmers, provide NO increased yield.

While companies like Monsanto have plenty of blood on their hands, additional social, economic and environmental factors make matters worse for these small rural farms:


But this genetically engineered cotton actually required far MORE water and far MORE pesticides than hybrid or traditional cotton!

These seeds were heavily marketed in India, using film stars and even religious deities to lure farmers in. And they came with a steep price tag— they are four to 10 times more expensive than hybrid seeds. Prior to hybrids, farmers were able to harvest their own seeds from each crop, to be planted next season. However, many genetically engineered seeds contain “terminator technology,” meaning they have been genetically modified so that the resulting crops don’t produce viable seeds of their own. Therefore, new seeds must be purchased every year from big seed companies, at the same punitive prices.

Bt cotton requires more pesticide sprayings than indigenous cotton—MANY times more. Bt cotton has created new resistant pestsviii, and to control these, farmers must use 13 times more pesticidesix than they were using prior to its introduction. Rates of infestation by aphids, thrips, jassids, and other pests have risen since Bt cotton’s introductionx.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Video: Abortion Conditioning: The UN’s Sick Social Engineering Agenda

The UN is producing training videos and holding seminars to teach children as young as ten about the virtues of abortion.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Interview With Director James Cameron: ‘The ‘Titanic’ Shows That the Unthinkable Can Happen’

SPIEGEL: But there have been plenty of catastrophes throughout history with far more casualties.

Cameron: It’s not about numbers. It’s about the hubris of the shipowners, for example; it’s about society at that time. It was a very optimistic time: Technology was advancing; people built aircrafts; they enjoyed electric light; everything looked like there would be a great future. And the Titanic stood for that. And then, suddenly, the unthinkable happened, as if all of this went down with the Titanic. This was a huge blow. And, today, there are unthinkable topics as well, such as a nuclear war. And the Titanic shows that the unthinkable can happen.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Microsoft’s Kinect Spy System

Microsoft X-Box Kinect games device has a video camera and a microphone that records speech. Microsoft has stated that users “should not expect any level of privacy concerning your use of the live communication features,” and the company “may access or disclose information about you, including the content of your communications.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]