Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120908

Financial Crisis
»Are You Better Off? 40 Statistics That Will Absolutely Shock You
»Bond Spreads Continue to Dive After ECB Decision
»China, Russia Sound Alarm on World Economy at APEC Summit
»EU Plan Gives ECB Right to Raid Banks, Withdraw Licence
»Euro Crisis to Worsen, Greece Could Exit Euro: Sweden’s Borg
»Greece Mulls Idea to Put a Tax on Unused Cars
»Italian Government Won’t Increase VAT, Bank Leader Says
»Opinion: ECB Becomes Europe’s Politburo
»Portuguese Private Sector Workers to Feel the Pinch
»Putin: World Economy Shifting East
»Spinning Bad Financial News Into Good
»Three Tons of Food Looted From Grocery Stores in Spain as Millions Struggle
»DARPA “Emergency Response” Robot Runs Faster Than Usain Bolt
»Did Obama Just Make a Deal With Israel to Delay the War With Iran Until After the Election?
»Historical Paradise in Virginia
»License-Plate Readers Create ‘Massive Intelligence Database’
»Look What’s Happened to Eastwood’s Empty Chair
»Mosque Construction in the U.S. Up 74 Percent in Past Decade
»Plan for Suburban Detroit Mosque Draws Resistance
»Video: Sheriff Joe’s Lead Investigator Just Back From Hawaii: No Proof Baby Obama Was in Hawaii
Europe and the EU
»Cyprus Hopes to Have Natural Gas From Israel by 2015
»European Deadline Looms for Italy on Campania Garbage Crisis
»Fake Porn Fines Hit Thousands of Swedes
»Italy: EU Law Regulates Limited Number of Students, Profumo Says
»Italy: Ryanair Passengers Complain of Tick Bites During Rome Flight
»Largest Gathering of Red-Haired People: Netherlands Sets World Record (Videos)
»Monti’s Alarm on Europe: “Some Aim at Disintegegrating It”
»Thousands Celebrate at Redhead Day Festival in the Netherlands
»UK: Blackburn Mosque Teacher Used Torture Techniques in Pupils
»UK: Green Party Activists Witness Leadership Handover
»UK: Judges Now Get to Decide What We Can Wear at Work
»UK: Michael Coleman Conviction for Blog Comments is Liberty’s Loss
»UK: Sir Tim Berners-Lee Accuses Government of ‘Draconian’ Internet Snooping
»Venice Film Festival: Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Romance
North Africa
»Christian Murders, Torture by Egyptians Ignored by Obama, Media
»Tunisia: Government OKs Veil in Universities, Media
Israel and the Palestinians
»Gaza Tunnels: Hamas’ Goose With the Golden Eggs, Abu Mazen
Middle East
»Epidemic of Kidnappings Breaks Out in Syria
»For Kyrgyzstan, UAE and Gold Are a Way Out of Its Crisis
»Saudi Arabia: Pakistani Executed for Heroin Trafficking
»Syria: Assad Allows ICRC to Operate, As Long as It’s Neutral
»Turkey: Syrian Refugees End Up on Fields as Seasonal Workers
»‘Assange Case is a Political Mattter’ Says Putin
»Napoleon Returns to Russia 200 Years After Defeat
»Why is Putin Stockpiling Gold?
»Tensions Simmer After Axe Murderer’s Pardon
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Boy Suicide Bomber Kills Children in Attack on Kabul NATO Headquarters
»Bangladesh: Decline of Hindu Population is a Matter of Grave Concern — Gobinda Pramanik
»Indian Supreme Court to Rule on Marines ‘In 20 Days’
»India: Rare Collection Under Threat as Delhi Library Faces Closure
»Indonesia: Director Says Terrorism Suspects Graduated From His School
»Pakistani Girl Accused of Blaspheming Islam Released From Jail
Far East
»Amid Protest, Hong Kong Backs Down on ‘Moral Education’ Plan
»Chinese Fisherman Hooks $473,000 Fish
»Hong Kong: Loud Cheers for Goddess of Democracy Erected to Oppose National Education in Admiralty
»Philippines: An 11-Year-Old Tribal Boy Dies in Mindanao’s Mining War
»The River That DID Run Red: Residents of Chinese City Left Baffled After Yangtze Turns Scarlet
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Mali: Arms Shipment ‘Sent From Burkina Faso’
»Greek Islands Brace for Wave of Refugees
Culture Wars
»After-Birth Abortion: Eugenicists Say Babies Are a Parasitic Burden on Society
»Universal Education or Universal Competence

Financial Crisis

Are You Better Off? 40 Statistics That Will Absolutely Shock You

Are you better off today than you were four years ago? This is a question that comes up nearly every election. This year the Romney campaign has even created a Twitter hashtag for it:#AreYouBetterOff. The Democrats are making lots of speeches claiming that we are better off, and the Republicans are making lots of speeches claiming that we are not. So are most Americans actually better off than they were four years ago? Of course not. One recent poll found that only 20 percent of Americans believe that they are better off financially than they were four years ago. But the same thing was true four years ago as well. Our economy has been in decline and the middle class has been shrinking for a very long time. The Democrats want to put all of the blame on the Republicans for this, and the Republicans want to put all of the blame on the Democrats for this. A recent CNN headline defiantly declared the following: “Decline of middle class not Obama’s fault”, and this is the kind of thing we are going to hear day after day until the election in November. But obviously something has gone fundamentally wrong with our economy. So who should we blame?

Sadly, you hear very little on the mainstream news networks or the talk radio shows about the institution that has the most power over our economy. The Federal Reserve has far more power over our financial system than anyone else does, but the media and both political parties tell us that the Federal Reserve is “above politics” and that their “independence” must never be questioned.

Unfortunately, most Americans have gone along with that.

But the truth is that the debt-based financial system that the Federal Reserve is at the core of is absolutely central to our economic problems. If you do not understand this, please see this article: “10 Things That Every American Should Know About The Federal Reserve”.

The Federal Reserve has done more to mess up our economy than anyone else has.

So shouldn’t they be held accountable?

That is a very good question.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Bond Spreads Continue to Dive After ECB Decision

Markets up

(ANSA) — Rome, September 7 — Markets continued Friday to bask in relief after the European Central Bank’s decision Thursday to buy bonds in the secondary market.

The action was taken to lower the borrowing costs of countries at the centre of the eurozone crisis, such as Spain and Italy.

The spread between Italian and German bond rates slid sharply again Friday, closing at 350.8 basis points, down 20 points from Thursday’s close and 100 points since Monday.

The yield Friday on 10-year Italian bonds was 5.024%.

The yield on Spanish 10-year bonds sank below 6% Friday for the first time since May to close at 5.57%. Spanish bonds hit a peak interest rate of 7.75% in July, making a eurozone record. The spread between Spanish and German bonds dropped to 405.5 basis points. Milan stocks outperformed other European markets Friday. The Milan FTSE MIB index rose 2.08% to close at 16,110 points, with banks doing particularly well.

The troubled Monte Dei Paschi di Siena saw its fortunes take a change for the better.

Its stock price rose 10.84% to 0.26 euros. Madrid’s IBEX (+0.26%), Paris’s CAC 40 (+0.26%), London’s FTSE-100 (+0.30%), and Frankfurt’s DAX (+0.66%) all closed in positive territory.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

China, Russia Sound Alarm on World Economy at APEC Summit

China and Russia sounded the alarm about the state of the global economy and urged Asian-Pacific countries at a summit on Saturday to protect themselves by forging deeper regional economic ties.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said Beijing would do all it could to strengthen the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) by rebalancing its economy, Asia’s biggest, to improve the chances of a global economic recovery.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said trade barriers must be smashed down as he opened the APEC summit which he is hosting on a small island linked to the Pacific port of Vladivostok by a spectacular new bridge that symbolises Moscow’s pivotal turn to Asia away from debt-stricken Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Plan Gives ECB Right to Raid Banks, Withdraw Licence

The European Central Bank will be authorised to carry out spot checks and withdraw the licences of lenders under banking supervision proposals to be presented by the European Commission next week.

A 33-page draft of the plans drawn up in Brussels and put online by Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore said the ECB will have the power to grant and withdraw banking licences, previously the preserve of national supervisors.

The common bank supervisor proposal is due to be unveiled on Wednesday in the European Parliament sitting in Strasbourg by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and financial services commissioner Michel Barnier.

The ECB would take up its new duties as of July 1, 2013, and after a transitional period, take sole authority on January 1, 2014.

EU leaders decided at a June summit to create a common banking supervisor as part of a deal that will allow the bloc’s rescue funds to directly lend funds to stricken banks instead of passing aid through countries and adding to sovereign debt problems.

It is a first step towards a banking union and part of wider moves towards fuller economic and political integration which they judged necessary to break the vicious circle driven by the eurozone debt crisis which has brought the region’s economy to a standstill.

The proposal is controversial, reducing the role of the London-based European Banking Authority which was set up in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.

It has been opposed by among others Britain, home to the financial centre of the City of London where big eurozone banks have major interests.

The legislative proposals — which face many months of hard bargaining among governments and then the European Parliament — give the ECB the power “to authorise credit institutions and to withdraw authorisation of credit institutions.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Euro Crisis to Worsen, Greece Could Exit Euro: Sweden’s Borg

(STOCKHOLM) — The eurozone crisis will get worse before it gets better and Greece could exit the single currency bloc within a year, Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg said in an interview on Saturday.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the worst yet in countries like Spain and Greece. They have such serious problems that Europe is going to be in a very difficult position during the next six to 12 months,” Borg told public broadcaster Swedish Radio.

The Swedish finance minister, whose country is not a member of the eurozone, said he would not be surprised if Athens had to leave the 17-member euro bloc in the foreseeable future.

He stressed that while there was “much support” for the country in Europe, “we can’t rule out the possibility that Greece will end up in a situation where it in practice leaves the euro in six, nine or 12 months.”

Borg said he wasn’t “sure how much we should dramatise” such a scenario.

“Banks in Europe are prepared for problems with Greece,” he said, all the while acknowledging that “it could get a lot messier in Europe.”

He said Athens had to ensure that its reforms were implemented and noted that political will was not the problem. Instead, reforms passed by parliament were not trickling down to authorities and being implemented as they should.

Borg was also of the opinion that Spain may need a bailout, saying there was “great uncertainty about how its regions are managing their public finances.”

“I don’t think you can rule out that ways will have to be found to help Spain,” he said of the eurozone’s fourth largest economy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece Mulls Idea to Put a Tax on Unused Cars

According to Greekreporter, proposal stirs controversy

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, AUGUST 31 — Frantic to find revenues everywhere — except from tax evaders it seems as Greek.Reporter notes — the Greek government is reportedly mulling a plan to put a tax on people who turned in their license plates because they couldn’t afford to keep a car. The proposition is being criticized, even by some politicians, as a cock-eyed scheme to get money where there is none, much like putting a penalty on people who couldn’t afford to pay big tax hikes and would be taxed on a tax they didn’t have the money to pay. Thousands of Greeks have taken their cars off the road and a reported one million have also given up paying insurance, with many driving without legal authorization. Big tax hikes in the price of gasoline have pushed the price of petrol to among the highest in Europe, nearing two euros per liter, and led to the closing of some 2,200 gasoline stations, with many more expected. Taxing unused cars is, for the time being only a proposition from the Finance Ministry as the government is ready to lower the boom again on workers, pensioners and the poor, with pensioners readying for a fourth cut in their benefits while military officers, doctors, judges and diplomats have been exempted so far but could see their pay cut 6-20%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italian Government Won’t Increase VAT, Bank Leader Says

2% hike featured in austerity measures

(ANSA) — Rome, September 5 — The Italian government has promised there will be no further hikes to the value added tax, an Italian banks’ association chief said Wednesday.

ABI Chairman Giuseppe Mussari told reporters after a meeting with Premier Mario Monti that he was told resources necessary for preventing a new tax hike will come from cuts in public spending. The VAT in Italy was raised earlier this year from 20% to its current level of 21% to help tackle Italy’s public debt crisis.

An additional 2% increase was planned for October in the government’s December Save Italy austerity package, but Monti’s administration subsequently said this had been put back until next year thanks to money raised with cuts after a review of public spending.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Opinion: ECB Becomes Europe’s Politburo

Is the ECB overstepping its mandate with its new bond-buying program, or is that still in line? It definitely is a turning point in Europe because the monetary watchdog now does politics, says DW’s Henrik Böhme.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Portuguese Private Sector Workers to Feel the Pinch

In an effort to combat its debt problem, Portugal announced new austerity measures. Portugal accepted an international bailout in 2011 and has struggled to balance necessary cuts with the needs of a struggling economy.

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho announced the latest round of cuts late on Friday. Private sector employees’ social security contributions are set to increase from 11 to 18 percent, while employers’ contributions are to sink from 23.75 to 18 percent. The latter measure is an effort to get companies to hire more workers.

“Unemployment has reached an intolerable scale,” Passos Coelho said in a speech to the nation.” (The cut for businesses) will considerably reduce labor costs… and we will do so at a time when the financial situation of our businesses is very fragile.”

Currently in Portugal, unemployment is over 15 percent.

Passos Coelho’s announcement came as international monitors from the troika of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank were in Portugal reviewing the reforms the country has taken on as part of the conditions for international loans.

Portugal received a 78-billion-euro ($98 billion) bailout in 2011 and agreed to spending cuts in return. However, it is likely that Portugal will fall short of its next debt targets tied to the loans, which would mean further spending cuts or tax hikes to make up the difference.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Putin: World Economy Shifting East

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the world’s economic epicenter is shifting east at a regional summit in Vladivostok. Putin was speaking to other leaders from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

“The global economic landscape is changing even as we speak, it is a fact of life,” Putin told delegates in the opening speech of the APEC summit in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok on Friday. “The world is moving into a new economic and technological era … and it is up to us gathered here to meet these challenges intelligently and pragmatically.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spinning Bad Financial News Into Good

When the long-term (more than one year) discouraged workers are included, the US unemployment rate is about 22%. In other words, the real US rate of unemployment is almost three times higher than the reported—headline rate—of 8.1%.

What is the purpose of reporting an unemployment rate that is about one-third the real unemployment rate? The only answer is deception through Happy News.

Let’s have a look at those 96,000 jobs. What kind of high-tech, high-income super jobs is “the world’s only superpower, the indispensable nation, the world’s greatest economy and capitalist heaven” creating? The answer is lowly paid third world jobs, which is why there is not and cannot be an economic recovery. All the good jobs have been moved offshore in order to maximize the incomes of the rich.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 28,300 of the 96,000 jobs or 29% are waitresses and bartenders.

Health care and social services, primarily ambulatory health care services and home health care services, provided 21,700 jobs or 22.6% of the jobs.

So, 52% of the new jobs created by the American superpower are lowly paid waitresses, bartenders, practical nurses, and hospital orderlies.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Three Tons of Food Looted From Grocery Stores in Spain as Millions Struggle

As the economic and financial systems of the world rapidly approach the real possibility of total collapse, signs of what we can expect on a mass scale in the near future are beginning to appear throughout Europe.

In Spain, a country that just a few years ago was heralded as a shining example of real estate entrepreneurship, international tourism and a rising middle class, the situation is so bad that many are unable to meet the most basic necessities for life.

Social safety nets across the continent are visibly under stress and breaking down, so much so that unemployed Spaniards have begun raiding supermarkets in order to put food on the table. As recently as last month the people of Cadiz and Sevilla, which have a reported unemployment rate of 32%, joined together to loot local grocery stores of three tons of food — some of which was distributed to local food banks:…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


DARPA “Emergency Response” Robot Runs Faster Than Usain Bolt

One of the robots under development by DARPA for the purpose of “emergency response” and humanitarian missions has beaten the human world speed record set in 2009 by athlete Usain Bolt.

“The Defense Advanced Research Project’s (DARPA) Cheetah managed to reach 28.3 mph, said the agency on Sept. 5. The speed is a little faster than the fastest human, Usain Bolt, who set the human world speed record when he reached a peak speed of 27.78 mph in 2009 during a100 meter sprint. The Cheetah robot had already attained the record as the fastest robot on earth when it clocked in 18 Mph earlier in its development,” reports Government Security News.


In 2008, the Pentagon issued a request to contractors to develop a “Multi-Robot Pursuit System” designed to search for, detect and track “non-cooperative” humans in “pursuit/evasion scenarios”.

Paul Marks at the New Scientist pointed out such proposals are somewhat concerning, because they inevitably will be adapted for domestic purposes such as crowd control.

“…how long before we see packs of droids hunting down pesky demonstrators with paralysing weapons? Or could the packs even be lethally armed?” Marks asks.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Did Obama Just Make a Deal With Israel to Delay the War With Iran Until After the Election?

Barack Obama cares about Barack Obama far more than he does about either Israel or Iran. And as far as Barack Obama is concerned, delaying the coming war between Israel and Iran until after the election is what is best for Barack Obama.

Just think about it. If Israel attacked Iran right now, who would that please? It would mostly please hardcore Republicans, and they are not going to vote for Obama anyway. To independents and liberals, Obama would look like a guy that couldn’t stop war from happening in the Middle East. If the U.S. showed support for the Israeli attack, that would greatly discourage his anti-war supporters from going to the polls. If the U.S. did not show support for the Israeli attack, Obama would potentially lose many of the Jewish voters that he desperately needs in swing states such as Florida.

A war between Israel and Iran is a no-win situation for Obama right now, and as I wrote about yesterday, the Obama administration has been trying to discourage Israel from attacking Iran for weeks. Well, now it is being reported in major international news sources that a deal has been reached between Obama and Israel. Obama is going to publicly declare what the “red lines” are that will cause the U.S. to strike Iran’s nuclear program, and the U.S. military is going to send some of their most advanced bunker busting bombs to Israel.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Historical Paradise in Virginia

Virginia is a paradise of history and gardens. Lush forests and gardens worthy of the Garden of Eden are found in every direction. Even the congested northern part of Virginia, so close to Washington, D.C., is covered in natural parks and dense woods populated by critters and vermin.

I often wondered how liberals have captured the most beautiful places in the country and turned them into bastions of progressivism. There is little trace of the former America-loving glory, save for the historical sites that draw thousands of conservative visitors who come to pay their respects to the forefathers who established America, fought for its existence and its freedom, making it an exceptional place for two and half centuries.

My brief journey started on the first highway going south…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

License-Plate Readers Create ‘Massive Intelligence Database’

Over the past two years, roof-mounted license-plate readers — a kind of high-tech surveillance camera — have quietly led authorities in the Pikes Peak Region to scores of stolen vehicles. They also have helped capture fugitives and kept tabs on paroled sex offenders — all by automatically scanning roads and parking lots with lightning-fast optics capable of photographing a license plate in the blink of an eye, or hundreds of license plates during a single patrol.

But according to documents obtained by The Gazette under the Colorado Open Records Act, the devices are watching more than just law breakers.

Colorado Springs police reports show that use of license-plate readers has allowed the city’s police department to construct a searchable databank containing hundreds of thousands of license plates belonging to ordinary drivers, with each entry disclosing when, and where, police last spied a certain vehicle.

The information — which potentially gives investigators a view into where people travel and how they spend their time — is characterized in internal police documents as a “massive intelligence database.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Look What’s Happened to Eastwood’s Empty Chair

Following actor Clint Eastwood’s provocative presentation at the Republican National Convention last week, the “empty chair” metaphor has taken on a life of its own, symbolizing the Obama administration’s failure to fulfill the “hope and change” expectations of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Eastwood’s prime-time act featured a mock conversation with Obama, who was represented by an empty chair.

Perhaps one of the more humorous examples of the empty-chair meme circulating on the Internet is a photograph of Karl Marx that serves as “proof” Obama met the author of “The Communist Manifesto.”

As seen in Exhibit 1, the proof turns out to be a studio photograph of Marx with his left hand resting on the back of an empty chair.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Mosque Construction in the U.S. Up 74 Percent in Past Decade

New York City ranks as Number One in mosque construction

The number of mosques in the United States has grown by 74 percent in the past 11 years, up from 1,209 in 2001 to a substantial 2,106 in 2011. The statistics was compiled and released by Faith Communities Today, affiliated with the Hartford Seminary’s Hartford Institute for Religion Research earlier this year.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) — The survey found that mosque construction has typically been in larger metropolitan U.S. areas. The 10 states with the largest number of mosques are New York, with 257, California with 246, Texas with 166, Florida with 118, Illinois with 109, New Jersey with 109, Pennsylvania with 99, Michigan with 77, Georgia with 69 and Virginia with 62. The state of Vermont has the least number of mosques, with only one located in the entire state. In terms of metropolitan areas, Greater New York City again led with 192 mosques. Southern California has 120, Greater Chicago has 90, Greater Philadelphia has 63 and Greater Detroit’s 63 mosques rounded out the top five metropolitan areas for mosque population. The survey was the first of two reports on American mosques released this year. The first survey, “Basic Characteristics of the American Mosque, Attitudes of Mosque Leaders” includes data on the growth of mosques in the U.S. and attitudes of their leaders…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Plan for Suburban Detroit Mosque Draws Resistance

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (AP) — On a prime piece of real estate in suburban Detroit stands a large, vacant elementary school with no vestiges of life — save for a tiny sign that identifies the building as the “future home” of the Islamic Cultural Association. But the proposal to establish a new mosque and community center has thrust this quiet site into the center of a battle between a prosperous Muslim community and a Christian legal advocacy group that wants to derail the project as part of its goal to confront the “threat of Islam” in the United States…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Video: Sheriff Joe’s Lead Investigator Just Back From Hawaii: No Proof Baby Obama Was in Hawaii

This is an extensive interview with Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s lead investigator Mike Zullo, who just returned from Hawaii, conducted by Rick Wiles of TruNews. It aired on 9/6/2012. Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here. Full show mp3 here. [url]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Cyprus Hopes to Have Natural Gas From Israel by 2015

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, SEPTEMBER 4 — Cyprus could have natural gas from Israel in early 2015, if discussions on the supply of small quantities are completed by the end of the year, Commmerce, Industry and Tourism Minister, Neoklis Sylikiotis said as reported by CNA. Speaking to journalists about a visit to Israel by a high ranking Cypriot delegation, he said Israel is positive in supplying Cyprus a small quantity of natural gas for electricity production, which ranges between 0.5-0.7 billion cubic metres.

The purpose of the visit was to discuss the technology and import methods, he explained, adding that Israeli natural gas will be imported in the form of liquefied natural gas. “The aim is to have natural gas the soonest possible”, he said, adding that “if all these discussions are completed by the end of the year, then we can have natural gas in early 2015 at lower prices for 3-5 years”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

European Deadline Looms for Italy on Campania Garbage Crisis

Landfill location could raise problems

(ANSA) — Brussels, September 5 — Just 10 days remain before a September 15 deadline, when Italy must submit answers to the European Union for its still festering garbage disposal problems in the southern Italian region of Campania, EU Environment Commission spokesperson Joseph Hennon told ANSA on Wednesday.

Hennon said Italy presented a plan on June 22, as agreed last February in Brussels, regarding the transitory period from 2012 to 2016.

“The evaluation of the text shows that despite considerable progress made, the programme does not contain sufficient information on all the planned infrastructure projects. In particular, the location of the new landfills,” said Hennon.

For this reason, Hennon added, “Last July 24, the directorate-general for the environment at the European Commission sent a letter to Italian authorities asking them to furnish the missing information, also for the more important projects on the schedule. The deadline is next September 15.” In January, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy for the long-running trash crisis in the Campania region.

The court upheld an appeal from a couple in Somma Vesuviana near Naples, saying their right to safeguard their family had been breached since rubbish heaps first began to appear around their home in 1994.

Also in January, the Italian government approved a measure to ship rubbish from the Campania region surrounding Naples to plants in other regions to ease the area’s ongoing waste crisis.

Under the agreement the trash could be transported from the region’s garbage treatment plants to others elsewhere until December 31, 2012.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Fake Porn Fines Hit Thousands of Swedes

Thousands of Swedes have been paying faked fines for surfing on porn sites, depositing millions into fraudsters accounts, reported Swedish media on Saturday.

The police suspect people in Sweden, Switzerland and Lichtenstein are responsible for the fraud, reported Swedish national television SVT.

To one of the accounts that the police have traced, at least 1,500 and perhaps as many as 3,000 Swedes have paid the fake fines, thereby earning the suspects millions of kronor.

“Heaps of these fines have been sent out and a lot of people have been paying them,” said the Stockholm police force’s fraud expert Jan Olsson to SVT.

The letters that were sent out to thousands of Swedes at the end of summer stated that the recipient had downloaded pornography and that the action had been traced. In order to avoid charges being pressed, the fake letters stated, the person would have to pay a sum, between a few hundred kronor (100 kronor = $15) and several thousand kronor.

According to the police, few police reports have been filed, and the hidden cases are believed to be numerous.

“Since it says in the letter that you’ve down loaded porn, it becomes very sensitive. It’s not something you want to tell your wife about,” said Olsson to SVT.

His advice to those affected is clear:

“Definitely don’t pay anything. There’s no legal ground for this, and the Anti-Piracy Bureau has warned the public about this, it’s pure fraud.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: EU Law Regulates Limited Number of Students, Profumo Says

(AGI) Turin — The limited number of students per course is regulated by EU laws. “There is a specific EU law that regulates faculties such as medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry and architecture. It is not a national law”. That’s how Education minister Francesco Profumo replied tonight at the PD event in Turin when aked to comment the recent controversies that arose over the access tests and limited number of students per course. “One can obviously debate about the actual number, but such figures are determined by requirement predictions.

Hence, there is not much we can do”.

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

Italy: Ryanair Passengers Complain of Tick Bites During Rome Flight

Travellers treated on arrival to Italian capital

(ANSA) — Rome, September 7 — On Friday consumer watchdog Codacons said it would be taking legal action against the Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair after passengers travelling from Denmark to Rome on Thursday reported receiving insect bites during their flight. In a statement the organisation said it would be filing a complaint with the Rome prosecutor’s office and asking for compensation on behalf of the travellers.

Passengers had to receive medical treatment on arriving in the capital as a result of soreness and itching caused by the bites, thought to be the work of ticks. The plane was subsequently grounded and disinfested before resuming service on Friday morning.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Largest Gathering of Red-Haired People: Netherlands Sets World Record (Videos)

BREDA, Netherlands — 1,255 natural redheads People from more than 50 countries travelled to the southern city of Breda; they got together for a photo, setting the new world record for the largest gathering of people with natural red hair, according to the World Record Academy:

A gathering of people in the Netherlands broke the world record for the most red-haired people in one picture after more than 1200 people got together for a photo.

People from more than 50 countries travelled to the southern city of Breda to break the record.

Many more redheads turned out for the festival — about 4,000-5,000 total — but only 1,255 qualified as natural redheads under Guinness World Records rules.

The World’s Largest Gathering of Red-Hair people was part of an annual Dutch summer festival that takes place each first weekend of September in Breda.

Activities during the two-day festival include lectures, workshops and demonstrations which are aimed specifically at red-haired people.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Monti’s Alarm on Europe: “Some Aim at Disintegegrating It”

(AGI)Cernobbio-”There is the risk that while Europe pursues its construction, it is growingly & dangerously rejected & antagonized”. The comment was made by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in a joint statement with the President of the EU Council Herman Van Rompuy. Monti explained that, during his talks with Van Rompuy on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti Forum at Cernobbio, “we have had an interesting exchange of opinions on an issue that we both have very much at heart. There is the risk — the Premier added — that within the European Union, while the construction of Europe is finalized, the difficulties of the Eurozone give rise to extended, growing and dangerous sensitivities among the public opinion of the different Countries that tend to be antagonistic”. According to the Premier, “counter-oppositions between Countries in the North and South of Europe give rise to old stereotypes and tensions: it is paradoxical and sad that while we hope to complete the integration of Europe, there is an opposing dangerous phenomenon that aims at disintegegrating it”.

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

Thousands Celebrate at Redhead Day Festival in the Netherlands

Ginger hair enthusiasts from around the globe headed to the Netherlands this weekend to take part in the country’s annual Redhead Day Festival celebrations.

More than 1,400 redhead revellers from 52 countries took over the southern Dutch city of Breda, where the event has been held since 2005. With approximately just 1-2 per cent of the human population born with red hair, many participants head to Roodharigendag to meet up with like-minded, or like-haired, redheads.

‘Getting a group of redheads together in this way is pretty rare, we lack the opportunity for community that most other minority groups have,’ explained Jessica Shailes of online retailer Everything for Redheads. ‘There will be a real opportunity to share experiences, opinions and sun block!’

Another visitor added: ‘It is a weird feeling to not stand out. It’s good.’

Festival organiser Bart Rouwenhourst added: ‘We have families with children, we have older people who were teased as children and then we have many proud women who come to the festival.

‘When people come together as redheads, they just look at each other,’ he told the BBC. ‘They have a certain bond.’

The festival, paid for in part by the local government in Breda, offers cultural events, music, a fashion show and art exhibitions from and for the red haired community.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Blackburn Mosque Teacher Used Torture Techniques in Pupils

A BLACKBURN mosque teacher who admitted using beatings and torture positions as a form of discipline was a ‘systematic bully’. Judge Robert Altham QC told Irfan Patel, 33, that lying to the police and accusing his four male victims aged just nine and 10 of conspiring against him made his behaviour even worse. Preston Crown Court heard Patel, of Pelham Street, Blackburn, used physical violence to discipline four boys during two-hour daily lessons when they misbehaved, made mistakes in their work or were unable to recite the Koran…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Green Party Activists Witness Leadership Handover

The conference of the Green Party of England and Wales has a rather different feel to the bigger political shindigs later this month and next.

No burly security men making an art form out of a severe facial expression. No long, snaking queues through airport style security. Name badges are often handwritten, activists scurry around armed with posters and bits of adhesive. If you are after a bacon burger for your tea, you’ll go hungry. Chickpea and cashew nut korma features, amongst others, on the vegetarian only menu…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Judges Now Get to Decide What We Can Wear at Work

by Daniel Hannan

In an open society, the state’s powers should be limited and contingent, the individual’s expansive and residual. To put it more prosaically, the government shouldn’t boss us around more than is absolutely necessary. It certainly shouldn’t tell us what to wear — as, for example, the Taliban and French regimes do (the one requiring burqas, the other banning them). An open society also implies free contract. You may apply for work where you please. Likewise, if you own a company, it’s yours. If you want to employ only graduates, that’s your own silly fault. If you want to impose a uniform code on your staff, that’s between you and them. These things were taken as read until a generation ago. The idea of passing laws specifying what people of different faiths might wear would have seemed like a throwback to the era of the Test Acts. Left-wing secularists would have been loudest in their condemnation, and they’d have had a point: the demerger of our civil and religious spheres is one of the things that made possible the miraculous advance of the West…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Michael Coleman Conviction for Blog Comments is Liberty’s Loss

There is little doubt that BNP activist Michael Coleman is an obscure, twisted individual who harbours strange views and exhibits a poor grasp of the English language. There is even less debate that Stoke-on-Trent is a far, far better place without him and his former BNP councillors in the city council chamber. Voters did themselves — and everyone else in the city — a big favour when they booted the erstwhile Councillor Coleman and his gang of misfits out of power. However this week’s jury decision that Coleman’s regular internet rants warrant a criminal conviction for racially-aggravated harassment, is not a welcome development. Particularly when reflecting that most of the freedoms we all enjoy would not have been won without the important principle of freedom of speech. What was a good day for Coleman’s political opponents, might turn out to be a very bad day for British liberty…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Sir Tim Berners-Lee Accuses Government of ‘Draconian’ Internet Snooping

The inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has accused the government of invading the privacy by monitoring internet use.

Sir Tim warned that plans to monitor individuals’ use of the internet would result in Britain losing its reputation as an upholder of web freedom

The plans, by Theresa May, would force service providers to keep records of every phone call, email and website visit in Britain.

Sir Tim told the Times: ““In Britain, like in the US, there has been a series of Bills that would give government very strong powers to, for example, collect data. I am worried about that.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Venice Film Festival: Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Romance

‘Fill the Void’ gives voice to a silent community

(ANSAmed) — VENICE, SEPTEMBER 3 — A love story set in the secretive world of Ultra Orthodox Jews is the only Israeli film at this year’s Venice Film Festival, and has been credited with ‘giving voice to a silent community.’ Written and directed by New York born Israeli filmmaker Rama Burshtein, Fill The Void pits romance at the heart of a modern day ultra Orthodox Tel Aviv family. At the centre of the plot is the beautiful, 18 year old Shira (Hadas Yaron), the youngest daughter of the Mendelman family.

When her sister dies in childbirth leaving her distraught husband Yochay (Yiftach Klein) to care for the baby, Shira’s mother persuades him to marry her youngest daughter. Shira is already set to marry a young man of her own age and the drama centres around her decision to save the family — or not, by marrying Yochay and keeping the baby to be brought up by the Mendelmans.

The action takes place in a secretive community in which relations between the sexes revolve around furtive glances and organised meetings. ‘I threw myself into this project as the result of a profound pain inside”, explained Burshtein, himself an Orthodox Jew. “I felt that the Ultra Orthodox community had no voice in the cultural dialogue — you could say we are mute. Our voice within the political realm is loud, but in the artistic and cultural sphere we are weak”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Christian Murders, Torture by Egyptians Ignored by Obama, Media

Calls for Christians to be killed, some of them reportedly crucified on trees are the new reality of the Egyptian government under a Muslim Brotherhood president and a legislature run by not only the Brotherhood but also the extreme Islamist Salafists, according to a report on Aug. 31, 2012, by the British human rights group, the Barnabas Fund.

“Sadly, the Obama administration and most of the American news media ignore these latest examples of brutality and oppression in order to avoid criticism for buying into the whole Arab Spring nonsense,” said an official from the Israeli National Police, who told the Law Enforcement Examiner that Salafists are active in helping Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“Instead of taking action to stop the killing and brutalizing of Christians in Muslim nations, the Obama administration points to Egypt as an example of a foreign policy success,” said the INP source.

According to the London-based, non-partisan Barnabas group in an alert, Egyptians have witnessed an increase in brutality, mostly against Christians and dissenters, with President Mohammed Morsi emboldening Islamists who were previously constrained by Egypt’s now ousted President Hosni Mubarek.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Government OKs Veil in Universities, Media

Significant victory for Islamic fundamentalists

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, SEPTEMBER 7 — Tunisian university students can wear a religiously mandated veil, or niqab, to class, the African Manager website reported the Ministry for Higher Education as announcing on Friday. The new law “was drawn up to guarantee the rights and freedoms of all students, with no exclusions,” the Ministry reportedly said.

The issue of whether or not students should wear the niqab to university was a matter of heated debate in the previous academic year, when proponents of the veil, supported by Salafites from outside the school system, clashed physically with its lay student opponents.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza Tunnels: Hamas’ Goose With the Golden Eggs, Abu Mazen

800 new black market millionaires in the Strip

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV/GAZA — Hamas has grown rich off the fruit of contraband through the tunnels between the Egyptian Sinai and the Gaza Strip, Palestinian President Abu Mazen (aka Mahmud Abbas) has said in recent interviews with British magazine The Economist and Egyptian magazine Roz el-Yusef.

“These tunnels have created millionaires on both sides of the border,” Abu Mazen said. “The goose with the golden eggs has created more than 800 new millionaires in the Strip, and another 1,600 about to become millionaires. All to the detriment of both Palestinian and Egyptian national interests.” Gaza sources said the smuggling bonanza began in 2005, when Israel withdrew from its military air base on the Gaza-Sinai border. Setting up in the smuggling business on the no-man’s-land on either side of the border was easy: all it took was a tent, a generator, and enough elbow grease to dig a 25-40 meter tunnel. The Israeli blockade, coupled with Hamas’ 2007 takeover of power, gave new impulse to the black market, with the tunnels, which went from 200 to 1,200 in just a few years, as the only way to get supplies in and out of Gaza. Hamas did not immediately grasp the economic potential of the tunnels, which were used to smuggle not only arms, but also medicine, cigarettes, construction materials, food and drink. It eventually took control of the tunnels, and this is how the nouveaux riches of the Strip were made, according to Abu Mazen.

“Hamas exploits those tunnels, which provide the huge profits which are the foundations of its government,” Abu Mazen said.

This, while Gaza citizens are reeling from the suicide by burning of Mohamed Abu Nada, 20, who set himself on fire in front of al-Shifa city hospital. He was unemployed, and his family lived in a state of extreme poverty on less than 180 euros a month, his father told reporters.

The only way to stop the trafficking and the corruption it entails, is for Egypt to open its Rafah border crossing so legal trade can resume in the light of day, on the basis of the original international accords, Abu Mazen said. That is to say, giving the PNA control over the border. Hamas, however, is far from likely to accept this new order of things.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Epidemic of Kidnappings Breaks Out in Syria

An epidemic of kidnappings has broken out in Syria, with rebels funding their military operations with ransoms and common criminals taking the opportunity to make money.

In al-Bab, a town on the periphery of Aleppo, abductions have become so frequent that rebels from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are publicising a helpline number, writing it on walls and placing it on social media. “When they receive a call from relatives of the victim, they track down the kidnappers. Then they either issue threats, or they go in for the rescue using force,” said a resident from the area. Dr Mousab Azzawi, from the Syrian Network for Human Rights, confirmed that abductions were becoming more frequent. “Only recently in Aleppo we have heard of three abductions by groups asking for ransom,” he said…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

For Kyrgyzstan, UAE and Gold Are a Way Out of Its Crisis

Bishkek says yes to deals with the United Arab Emirates to develop its gold reserves, the country’s main resource. However, tourism and services are expected to benefit from investments as well. The most profitable mines are owned by multinationals using antiquated technologies. Despite its 2,000 tonnes in gold reserves, Kyrgyzstan exports only 25 tonnes a year.

Bishkek (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Despite its 220 active goldmines and proven gold reserves of 2,000 tonnes, Kyrgyzstan exports only 25 tonnes of gold a year. But now the landlocked former Soviet republic is attracting investors from the United Arab Emirates, whose businessmen are flocking to the Central Asian nation with technology and money to bid on gold concessions.

After ethnic violence claimed the life of dozens of people in 2010 and led to the downfall of then President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Kyrgyzstan is now trying to develop its most important resource, gold. However, with a territory that is 96 per cent mountainous, mines tend to be very remote. Worse still, many of them rely on antiquate, Soviet-era technology and many are foreign-owned.

The main mine is in Kumtor, 350 km southeast of the capital Bishkek. It is owned by a Canadian company, Centerra Gold. However, the government plans to nationalise it to increase its revenues and thus cope with a serious economic crisis, major social instability and a drought in agriculture.

“We are looking at foreign investment in gold mines where the UAE is well positioned to invest,” Kubanychbek Omuraliev, Kyrgyz Consul General, told GulfNews. “A number of our mines have been tendered out for concession bids, in which UAE companies could participate.”

More than 7,000 Kyrgyz professionals already live and work in the UAE’s oil fields. However, only a handful of them are businessmen are engaged in trade.

Bilateral trade between the UAE and Kyrgyzstan reached US$ 300 million, 200 million in Kyrgyz exports and 75 million in imports of machinery and equipment.

“The potential for two-way trade and investment between the two countries is huge and we want to expand our trade ties with the UAE,” the consul said.

For him, bilateral trade will boost the local economy, not only in gold mining but also tourism and services.

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

Saudi Arabia: Pakistani Executed for Heroin Trafficking

Riyadh, 4 Sept. (AKI) — Saudi Arabia on Tuesday executed a citizen of Pakistan in the city of Medina for drug trafficking.

Hayat Sayed Lal Sayed had attempted to smuggle heroin in his stomach, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement. A common method for so-called drug mules who transport narcotics is to swallow condoms containing the substances.

The date and place of Sayed’s arrest were not given in the statement.

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most active users of capital punishment, executing 79 people last year, according to Amnesty International.

The Interior Ministry in its statement said the death penalty is used to combat drug use which runs counter to Islamic beliefs.

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

Syria: Assad Allows ICRC to Operate, As Long as It’s Neutral

In Damascus talks with new ICRC President Peter Maurer

(ANSAMed) — DAMASCUS, SEPTEMBER 4 — Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will let humanitarian aid reach civilians in combat areas, following his meeting with new International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) head Peter Maurer on Tuesday, the Syrian government made known in a communique. “The president confirmed he is in favor of Red Cross action on the ground, as long as it’s conducted independently and in a neutral manner,” the communique said. Maurer, who replaced former ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger in July, arrived in Damascus on Monday for a three-day visit. The ICRC’s 50 Syrian and international operators have been unable to leave Damascus since July due to the fighting. There are 1.2 internal refugees in Syria, while another 230,000 have fled to nearby countries, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Maurer’s mission is to get ICRC personnel official access to Syrian detention centers, where thousands of anti-regime opponents are being held, according to humanitarian organizations. Assad’s communique did not mention this issue, however.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Syrian Refugees End Up on Fields as Seasonal Workers

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, SEPTEMBER 5 — Syrians who have been forced to flee the violence in their country and have now settled in a tent city in Gaziantep’s Islahiye district, have begun taking on agricultural labor to earn money, as Hurriyet reports. Some 2,000 Syrian refugees out of 8,256 are involved in agricultural tasks such as picking peppers, cutting grapes and other jobs outside the camp. With permission papers from the camp officials in hand, Syrians leave their areas of refuge every day at 9 a.m. via truck, minibus or tractor for a day of work in the fields, returning home at 5 p.m. Refugees earn 1,85 Turkish Lira (0,80 euro) per kilogram of leftover pepper material, 22 kurus (0,09 euro) per kilogram of red peppers and 20 kurus (0,08 euro) for grapes. Red pepper producer Bayram Simsek said the harvest of red peppers was slow due to seasonal reasons and added that it was difficult to find agriculture laborers. “Our Syrian visitors have come to our aid. Their demand to work on their break time has been a godsend for farmers. What we pay to them is set by the Price Determination Committee. Syrians are earning nine to 13 Turkish Liras a day (4-5.5 euros) on average. They are clean but they are a little bit slow,” Simsek said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


‘Assange Case is a Political Mattter’ Says Putin

(AGI) Moscow — President Putin has said the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a “political” matter. His remarks were made in an interview with Russia Today, in which he also accused Britain of double standards over his extradition order to Sweden on sex crime charges. Mr Putin said “They (the British judiciary) decided to extradite him. What is this? Of course it is double standards, that is clear […] As far as I know, Ecuador asked Sweden for guarantees that Assange will not be extradited from Sweden to the United States. It has received no such guarantees […] Of course this leads one to think that this is a political case.” .

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

Napoleon Returns to Russia 200 Years After Defeat

September 7 marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Borodino. This military showdown marked the beginning of the end for Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. It’s one of the most important events in Russian history.

Russians to this day are still enamoured with the romance and heroism of the Battle of Borodino. And soldiers from Russia, France and other European nations have just returned to the battlefield for a dramatic re-enactment.

It was a glorious, if chaotic celebration of the Borodino anniversary. This was where, back in 1812, Russian troops and Napoleon’s Grand Armee faced off just 120 kilometers west of Moscow.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Why is Putin Stockpiling Gold?

Russia has more than doubled reserves in past 5 years

(MARKET WATCH) — I can’t imagine it means anything cheerful that Vladimir Putin, the Russian czar, is stockpiling gold as fast as he can get his hands on it.

According to the World Gold Council, Russia has more than doubled its gold reserves in the past five years. Putin has taken advantage of the financial crisis to build the world’s fifth-biggest gold pile in a handful of years, and is buying about half a billion dollars’ worth every month.

It emerged last month that financial gurus George Soros and John Paulson had also increased their bullion exposure, but it’s Putin that’s really caught my eye.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Tensions Simmer After Axe Murderer’s Pardon

Hungary’s recent extradition of a convicted axe murderer to Azerbaijan has caused a scandal. At home, the killer was pardoned and celebrated. It’s rumored that Hungary and Azerbaijan brokered a deal for the extradition.

The last time a diplomatic gesture made by Hungary had geopolitical consequences was in June 1989, when Hungary’s then-foreign minister, Gyula Horn, and his Austrian counterpart Alois Mock cut through the border fence between the two countries. The gesture marked the beginning of the end of the Iron Curtain between East and West.

This time around, 23 years on, a diplomatic gesture made by Hungary could have far less positive — some even say disastrous — geopolitical implications. Hungary has extradited a convicted murderer to Azerbaijan, where he was instantly pardoned. This brought tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan to a new climax and the Caucasus region to the verge of a new war.

The US, the EU and NATO have taken crisis diplomacy measures in an attempt to prevent the worst case scenario between Armenia and Azerbaijan from emerging.

Meanwhile, Hungary’s government is rumored to have agreed to a foul deal with Azerbaijan. In return for the extradition of murderer Ramil Safarov, Azerbaijan is said to have promised Hungary to buy some three billion euros ($3.84 billion) worth of its government bonds.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Boy Suicide Bomber Kills Children in Attack on Kabul NATO Headquarters

A boy suicide bomber killed at least six people when he blew himself up close to Nato’s headquarters in Kabul, police said.

Several children were killed in the attack, which Taliban insurgents claimed was directed against a CIA office. Kabul’s deputy police chief, Gen Daud Amin, said witnesses described the bomber as around 14 years old and carrying a bag. He detonated himself in a street near the heavily fortified Nato headquarters, in an area close to Afghan government ministry buildings and the Italian embassy. Children who sell chewing gum and trinkets to soldiers from the base were among the dead, he said. All the casualties were civilians and Nato said none of its personnel were killed or wounded…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Bangladesh: Decline of Hindu Population is a Matter of Grave Concern — Gobinda Pramanik

Advocate Gobinda Chandra Pramanik, secretary general of ‘Jatiyo Hindu Mohajote’ [National Hindu Grand Alliance] in Bangladesh said, decline of Hindu population in the country has already become a matter of grave concern. Talking to Weekly Blitz, Advocate Gobinda said, “We have always been given assurances by all the governments in Bangladesh since independence of protecting the rights of the Hindus as well as other religious minorities in the country. But, unfortunately, most of the governments, instead of keeping promise — had shown us step-motherly behavior.”

He said, “Hundreds and thousands of Hindus sacrificed their lives while Hindu mothers and sisters sacrificed their honor during the war of independence of this country. We love this country and certainly have the right to enjoy equal status of all other citizen of Bangladesh, irrespective of religion or sect.”

Expressing dissatisfaction at the delay in returning the Hindu properties, which were confiscated by the Pakistani regime under an oppressive law titled ‘Enemy Property Act’, which was subsequently named as ‘Vested Property Act’, Gobinda said, “This hated black law needs to be immediately cancelled and the government should initiate in recovering Hindu properties from illegal possession of different individuals around the country and hand them over to the genuine Hindu owners.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Indian Supreme Court to Rule on Marines ‘In 20 Days’

Italy claims jurisdiction in double slaying

(ANSA) — New Delhi, September 6 — The Indian supreme court will rule in 20 days on whether Italy should be granted jurisdiction over the case against two Italian anti-pirate marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in February, an Indian lawyer told ANSA Thursday.

The court will receive two statements from the Indian central government and the state of Kerala on Italy’s claim Monday, said Diljeet Titus.

There will be a ruling “within the next 20 days from now,” he said.

India and Italy agreed in mid-August that the two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, acted in “contiguous” and not international waters.

The Italian government has in the past stated it believes that, regardless of who has jurisdiction, the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India as they were military personnel working on an anti-piracy mission.

Defence lawyer Harish Salve said the two were on board the Enrica Lexie vessel as a result of an Italian government decision taken on the basis of a UN resolution governing the protection of ships navigating pirate-infested waters.

Latorre and Girone have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between Italy and India since being detained in February.

Indian police have filed charges against the two that include the homicide of fishermen Jelestine Valentine and Ajesh Binki.

They were granted bail in June, but must remain in Indian territory.

The next hearing is to be held on September 12.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

India: Rare Collection Under Threat as Delhi Library Faces Closure

One of India’s oldest libraries — established by 19th Century colonial officers who donated British and Indian first editions — is facing closure after government funding was withdrawn.

Old Delhi’s Hardayal Library, originally known as the Hardinge in honour of the British Viceroy, houses one of the country’s finest collection of rare antiquarian books, including a print of Sir Walter Raleigh’s 1676 History of the World, a series of early British Indian travelogues and hand-written and gold illuminated translations of Hindu and Muslim religious works.

The collection is potentially worth millions, with 8,000 rare books out of a stock of 170,000. Dirst established in 1862 as a book club for British officials who brought their own prized editions with them on the long sea voyage, it was kept initially in the Lawrence Institute in Old Delhi’s town hall…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Director Says Terrorism Suspects Graduated From His School

Jakarta, 3 Sept. (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Director of the Al Mukmin (Ngruki) Islamic boarding school in Sukoharjo, Central Java, confirmed Monday that two terror suspects shot dead by a counterterrorism unit last Friday, graduated from the school.

Wahyuddin told reporters that Farhan Mujahid, 19, graduated from Al Mukmin’s Madrasah Tsanawiyah (MTs), the education level equal to junior high school, in 2008. He did not continue to the senior level due to financial difficulties.

Another suspect, Mukhsin Tsani, 19, attended Al Mukmin’s senior high school.

“Although the two were at the same age, they never met at the school. They attended different classes in different years,” said Wahyuddin.

According to Wahyuddin, the school has sequestrated Farhan’s graduation certificate because he still owes the school money. “He had not paid his tuition fees for two years,” he said.

Mukhsin has a relatively similar case to Farhan, Rp 12 million (US$1,252) in debt.

“They both graduated from the school but never obtained their certificates,” he said.

Wahyuddin said that the two’s involvement the shootings which targeted police posts in Surakarta had nothing to do with the school’s teachings.

“Whatever activities they did after graduating from the school, or to what groups they were affiliated, were no longer our concern. We know nothing about their links with terrorist groups in the southern Philippines,” he said.

Wahyuddin said that the two’s involvement in recent attacks in Surakarta had tainted the school’s reputation despite the school’s records on terrorism acts.

Ngruki was founded by hatemonger Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, now serving 15 years in prison for organizing a terrorism training camp in Aceh. Many of the school’s graduates have been involved in terrorism, including the first Bali bombing in 2002 that claimed more than 200 lives, mostly foreign tourists.

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

Pakistani Girl Accused of Blaspheming Islam Released From Jail

Pakistani officials say a mentally-challenged Christian girl accused of blaspheming Islam has been released from jail. Rimsha Masih’s release Saturday comes a day after a judge granted her bail, in a case that has drawn international outrage. Rimsha, believed to be 14 years old, spent the last three weeks in jail near the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, after neighbors accused her of burning pages from the Quran…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

Amid Protest, Hong Kong Backs Down on ‘Moral Education’ Plan

Faced with tens of thousands of protesters contending that a Beijing-backed plan for “moral and national education” amounted to brainwashing and political indoctrination, Hong Kong’s chief executive backpedaled somewhat on Saturday and revoked a 2015 deadline for every school to start teaching the subject.

But the protesters were not mollified, demanding that the education plan be withdrawn entirely. Crowds of young people in black T-shirts continued to pour into the plaza and streets around the local government’s headquarters on Saturday evening after Leung Chun-ying, the chief executive, offered the compromise.

Mr. Leung said he wanted each school to decide whether to teach the subject in the coming years, an arrangement that could allow Beijing’s allies to press principals who do not want it.

“We just want to cancel the whole subject,” said Sam Chan, a 19-year-old community college student. “People want to protect our future and our sons’ futures.”

A very large crowd, estimated at 120,000 by organizers and 36,000 by the police, had formed on Friday evening, and many protesters spent the night.

Legislative elections were scheduled for Sunday. Public animosity toward the education plan could hurt pro-Beijing candidates at the polls. Hong Kong officials drafted the plan over the past 10 years to instill patriotic fervor for mainland China.

For the past 10 days, swelling protests against the plan were the latest sign of a new interest in political activism by youths here, and there were some signs that this activism could be spreading in mainland China for the first time since the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Chinese Fisherman Hooks $473,000 Fish

A Chinese fisherman has netted a fortune after catching a critically endangered, but hugely prized, fish worth £300,000.

The fisherman, whose identity has not been revealed, caught a Chinese Bahaba, or Giant Yellow Croaker, off the coast of Fujian province last week.

After a bidding war, a local fishmonger paid him three million yuan (£300,000) for the 176lb fish, or £1,700 a pound, according to the Strait News, a local newspaper in Fujian.

The fisherman told the newspaper he had found the fish floating on the surface of the sea and had “picked it up.” The size of the fish caught the attention of his fellow villagers, and the specimen was quickly identified. After the auction, the fisherman said he would use the windfall to buy a bigger boat.

The Chinese Bahaba (Bahaba taipingensis) can reach 6ft 7in in length and weigh more than 220 pounds. It is particularly prized for its swim bladder, which is used by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine to cure heart and lung ailments.

However, it has been fished almost to extinction, and its fisheries, from the Yangtze river estuary to the Pearl River in the south, have also been affected by pollution.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Hong Kong: Loud Cheers for Goddess of Democracy Erected to Oppose National Education in Admiralty

Protesters continue their peaceful siege of government headquarters. They want new course imposed by Beijing scrapped as pro-Communist brainwashing. A woman shaves her in a sign of protest as students continue their hunger strike. Tiananmen protest symbol reappears.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) — Hong Kongers are still protesting against the ‘national education’ course imposed by Beijing on the former British colony. The latter is meant to praise the mainland’s progress but it also papers over the thornier aspects of its recent history, like the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square massacre. In addition to strikes and demonstrations, protesters have come with new forms of opposition; one is the appearance of the Goddess of Democracy that was raised for the first time in 1989 in Tiananmen Square.

Today, a middle-aged woman joined the students “occupying” the area outside government headquarters in the Admiralty. The woman, who identified herself only as Linda, shaved her head in a sign of solidarity. She explained that in Cantonese the phrase for ‘no hair,’ ‘mou fat,’ sounds like “lawlessness”.

She did not remove all the hair on her head. What was left spelled out the characters “anti-wash,” words that are a clear reference to the national education course that Card Joseph Zen described as brainwashing.

Last night, the hunger strikers erected a replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue outside government headquarters, drawing loud cheers from the 8,000 people gathered there. The statue was removed on Wednesday morning.

Increasingly, Hong Kong authorities are being drawn into the affair; for protesters, they are too acquiescent towards Beijing’s wishes.

For Protesters, the course itself must be changed; they also consider the committee supervising implementation unbalanced, i.e. too pro-Beijing,

Rev Peter Tsui, General Secretary of the Baptist Convention of Hong Kong, told protesters that the government “should withdraw the national education course.”

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

Philippines: An 11-Year-Old Tribal Boy Dies in Mindanao’s Mining War

Jordan Manda’s father, Timuay Locencio Manda, is the chieftain of a tribal community in (Zamboanga del Sur). Gunmen attacked him and his son on the way to school. AsiaNews sources slam the abuses of a Canadian multinational, Toronto Ventures Incorporated (TVI). With the complicity of local politicians, it is holding on to land unlawfully taken from tribal people using a private army made up of ex soldiers.

Zamboanga (AsiaNews) — “Mining is a war that involves politicians, the central government and foreign multinationals,” sources in Zamboanga del Sur told AsiaNews. “Living in total poverty, tribal people are the only victims, defenceless spectators to the seizure of their land.” An example of this war occurred recently when gunmen in the southern Filipino region killed Jordan Manda, the 11-year-old son of Timuay Locencio Manda, a local tribal chieftain in Subaden. The two were ambushed as the father was taking his children to school. Armed men drove up to their car and fired, killing the boy and wounding the father.

Human rights groups believe the attack against the tribal leader was designed to punish him for his campaign against mining. Recently, the government granted three new concessions in Zamboanga. Activists instead want a moratorium on all mining in Zamboanga Peninsula.

Sources told AsiaNews that problems began when an important Canadian mining company, Toronto Ventures Incorporated (TVI), arrived in the area in 1997.

“With the administration of President Gloria Majapagal Arroyo on its side, TVI took over Pinukis Range Forest, expelling tribal residents. It also set a private army, the Blue Guard, made up of former soldiers and other shady characters. This way, tribals pay twice for the presence of a foreign multinational on its territory.”

With the backing of local politicians, the company has tried to undermine local, small-scale, indigenously-run mining. At the same time, it has polluted land, water and air with mercury and cyanide, making farming and animal husbandry impossible.

Last year, TVI was forced out of the region but left its private army, which is not allowing others to do exploration work on its land.

“Many miners have gone back to the mountains but they face huge obstacles in starting up their activity again,” sources say. Missionaries help them and some young people bring them food, gas and tools on motorcycle.

In July, four young men were stopped by a Blue Guard patrol. One was killed, the other three disappeared. Locals are afraid they might have been thrown into cyanide tanks.

With the election of Benigno Aquino as president, the Canadian company’s behaviour was ruled illegal. Under Filipino law, tribal peoples have priority in mining.

Foreign companies that want to invest in the sector must present their plans to tribal chiefs and local administrations, and must be approved by a majority of residents. Locals can thus oppose outside projects and stake their own claim to the land. However, if that is not done, foreign companies can de facto acquire the land.

In league with multinationals, local politicians have made it hard for locals to stake their claim, threatening and sometimes killing people who help tribals.

Local officials also have no interest in working with indigenous people because the latter are very poor and have no money to pay bribes to earn the right to use the land. This favours multinationals.

In 2008, at Lakewood (Zamboanga del Sur), tribals did find Japanese and Chinese investors willing to put up money and equipment in exchange of 40 per cent of earnings. Some political leaders in Manila backed to initiative, setting up a company jointly owned by miners and Chinese investors. However, local authorities have not yet signed the permits needed to start operations.

Several times, the Church has been accused of funding small indigenous cooperatives with “millions from abroad”. Some priests have received death threats and continue to be subject to pressures.

“In a few months, an election will take place,” sources said. “The post of provincial governor is up for grabs and the outcome revolves around the mine. Candidates take advantage of tribals’ problems to gain votes, but once in power they turn their backs on them becaues it is more convenient to support foreign companies.”

In recent years, 36 activists have died or disappeared as a result of their work on behalf of tribal rights. They include Fr Fausto Tentorio, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, killed on 17 October 2011, in Arakan, North Cotabato province (Mindanao). (S.C.)

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

The River That DID Run Red: Residents of Chinese City Left Baffled After Yangtze Turns Scarlet

It is the last thing the residents of Chongqing would have expected to see. But the Yangtze river, which runs through the city in south-western China, turned a bright shade of orange-red yesterday. The waterway where the Yangtze met the Jialin River provided a fascinating contrast as the red started to filter into the other river.

While officials investigate the cause of the colouring, one fisherman went about his daily business as if nothing had happened. Others were so amazed that they collected samples in water bottles.

Although the cause is yet to be determined, this is not the first time a river has turned red in China.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Mali: Arms Shipment ‘Sent From Burkina Faso’

Paris, 6 Sept. (AKI) — An arms shipment has been delivered to Islamist rebels in Mali, making its way across the border from neighbour Burkina Faso, according to the Paris-based Jeune Afrique magazine, citing the French secret service.

The weapons were delivered to Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (known by the French acronym MUJAO) rebels, an Al-Qaed offshoot, who emerged from al-Qaida’s North Africa branch in 2011 with the aim of spreading jihad into Sub-Sahharan Africa, a report on the Francophone magazine’s website reported

French authorities are “perplexed” how a truckload of weapons could have departed from Burkina Faso for Mali in light of Burkina Faso foreign minister Djibrill Bassole’s August trip to Paris where he proposed peace talks between rebels and Mali’s government.

On Saturday the MUJAO seized control of the strategic town of Douentza, significantly adding to the territory held by Islamist insurgents, while moving significantly closer to government-held territory in central Mali.

The Islamist rebels have successfully seized towns as they fight their way south from Maili’s north which they captured

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


Greek Islands Brace for Wave of Refugees

Undocumented migrants already arrived from Turkey

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, SEPTEMBER 3 — Local authorities on the Greek islands of the northeastern Aegean Sea are bracing for what is expected to be a growing wave of refugees from war-torn Syria, as measures to reduce the inflow of illegal immigrants via the Greek-Turkish border in the Evros region have put a greater strain on the porous coastlines of Greece’s islands.

Local officials in the northeastern Aegean say that there has already been a significant spike in the number of refugees and undocumented migrants that have landed on their shores from Turkey, as daily Kathimerini reports. Their concern is that this wave will grow as the civil war in Syria escalates and that they are ill-equipped to deal with such a large influx. “We are scared of reliving past situations of hundreds of wretched immigrants arriving here in boats,” Lesvos Mayor Dimitris Vounatsos told Kathimerini. “The detention center has been closed down and the municipality has no money to do anything about it,” he added. The government earlier this month launched a police operation dubbed “Xenios Zeus” to clamp down on illegal immigration by holding frequent identity checks and by fortifying Greece’s northern border with Turkey. In Evros the measure is said to be proving effective, as what used to be a daily influx of dozens has now trickled down to single digits.

Yet, according to authorities, traffickers have switched to alternative routes into Greece and the European Union, via the islands.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

After-Birth Abortion: Eugenicists Say Babies Are a Parasitic Burden on Society

According to Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, “after-birth abortion” is proposed as a form of “contraception” that would allow babies to be killed after they are born.

In a paper published in the Journal of Medical Ethics:

“[W]hen circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible. … [W]e propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide,’ to emphasize that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus … rather than to that of a child.

Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk.”

Giubilini and Minerva believe that infants are a “threat” to parents because of their financial burden to their parents and that this justifies the murder of new-born babies.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Universal Education or Universal Competence

Universal education was the panacea of every socialist state. By NEA rankings the Soviet Union had a better education system than we do. Its system routed as much of the population as possible through higher education and degree mills making it better educated, on paper, than the Yankee running dogs of the decadent West. And yet the USSR was behind the United States in every possible area of life.

The more you universalize education, the lower the value of that education becomes. When the goal of education is not to teach, but to graduate, then the educational system becomes a cattle run which exists only to move students through the system and then out the door through classroom promotion. The High School education of today is inferior to the Elementary School education of yesterday and the four year college graduate of today couldn’t even begin to match wits with a high school graduate from 1946. College has become the new High School. Graduate school is the new college. If we keep following the European model, then two decades from now, everyone will be encouraged to get a Master’s Degree which will be the prerequisite for most jobs and also be completely worthless.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]