Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121025

Financial Crisis
»Cyprus Sends Proposals to Troika
»Greece: Minister Push for Deal as Democratic Left Resists
»Greece Turning to Desperate Measures as Citizens Face Starvation Due to Economic Collapse
»Real Incomes in Italy Fall Again
»Why Did the Bundesbank Secretly Withdraw Two-Thirds of Its London Gold?
»“Alger Hiss Day” A Reminder of U.N.’s Anti-Americanism
»Mom Found ‘Guilty’ By Court After Refusing TSA Pat Down on Daughter
»Pierce County Will Change Jail Rules for Muslims
»Police Probing Democrat Caught in Video Sting
»Rep. Hinojosa[D] Draws Blank on Second Amendment
»Ted Turner: I Think It’s “Good” U.S. Troops Are Killing Themselves
»What Do Muslims in the West Cost?
»Dinosaurs Looking for Love Grew Alluring Feathers
Europe and the EU
»Bacteria That Function as Living Electrical Cables Found
»Catalan MEPs Ask for EU Help Against Spanish Army
»Irish PM Wins ‘European of the Year’ Award
»Islam ‘Too Prominent’, French Think
»Italy: Ex-Minister Claims Innocence in Finmeccanica Corruption Case
»Italy Referred to European Court of Justice Over Landfills
»Italy: F1: Ferrari to Bear Navy Flag for Marines at Indian GP
»Italy: Prodi Still Unsure About Berlusconi Taking Back Seat
»Italy: Bossi Does Not ‘Believe’ Berlusconi is Quitting
»Italy: Ruby ‘Can’t Wait’ to Testify in Berlusconi Trial
»Italy: Ally of PD Chief Bersani Probed Over Personal Secretary Case
»Survey Exposes French Anxieties Over Muslim ‘Threat’
»UK: Blackburn Pupils Win Headscarf Fight
»UK: Billionaire Businessman in High Court Accused of Failing to Pay for Ex-Wife’s Private Chef Amid Claims Their Islamic Marriage Was Never Valid
»UK: Don’t Let Prisoners Vote, Whatever the Cost
»UK: Far-Right English Defence League Banned From Marching in Islington
»UK: Flawed Patten
»UK: Labour Politician Threatens to Quit if Bust to ‘Pro-War’ Journalist Christopher Hitchens Goes Up in Red Lion Square
»UK: London EDL Marches Stopped by Government Ban
»UK: Note to European Liberals — No One in America Gives a Damn What You Think About the US Election
»UK: Non-Muslims Have ‘Sex Like Donkeys’ And Deserve to be Blown-Up, Said ‘Terror Plot’ Leader
»UK: Police Seek to Ban EDL March in Islington Amid Fears Finsbury Park Mosque Could be ‘Target for Disorder’
»UK: Terror Gang Discussed Killing 1,000 People With Poisoned Hand Cream
North Africa
»Egypt: Benghazi Attack Suspect Killed in Cairo Raid
»Egypt: Authorities Set Up Sexual Harassment Hotlines
»Libya: Pro-Government Militias Take Bani Walid
»Tunisia: Press: Pro-Ennahdha Demonstrators Paid
Israel and the Palestinians
»PNA: EU: New Phase for a Privileged Partnership
Middle East
»Monti Supports Two-State Solution in Netanyahu Talks
»NATO Using Al Qaeda Rat Lines to Flood Syria With Foreign Terrorists
»Syria: Damascus Accuses France of ‘Supporting Terrorists’
»Syria: Damascus: Kidnapped Orthodox Priest Found Dead
South Asia
»2 US Troops Killed in Afghan Insider Attack
»Army Medic, 25, Becomes Third Female Soldier Killed in Afghanistan After Suspected ‘Green on Blue’ Attack
»British Female Medic and Royal Marine Killed in Afghanistan
»Four Italian Soldiers Wounded in Afghanistan Gunfight
»Italian Marines in India Say They Struggle to Keep Faith
»Singapore Airlines to End World’s Longest Flights
Far East
»Family of Prime Minister Holds a Hidden Fortune in China
»Muslims in NW China Celebrate Annual Corban Festival
Australia — Pacific
»GM Wheat May Permanently Alter Human Genome, Spark Early Death
»Hostility to Muslims Greater in Sydney Than Melbourne
Sub-Saharan Africa
»African Union to Request UK Funding for Mali Offensive
»Italy: Asylum-Seekers Attack Police Immigration Office in Naples
»Spain: 14 African Migrants Found Dead at Sea, 17 Rescued After Their Boat Begins to Sink
»UK: A Quarter of All Babies Born in the UK Are the Children of Immigrants as Mothers From Poland, India and Pakistan Give Birth in Record Numbers
Culture Wars
»CNN Removes Story About Women’s Hormones Affecting Voting
»United Nations Calls for Internet Big Brother System to Combat Terrorism

Financial Crisis

Cyprus Sends Proposals to Troika

Unions establish their ‘red lines’ on cuts

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, OCTOBER 24 — Cyprus’ government has dispatched their complete counterproposals to the troika, following the conclusion of lengthy rounds of talks with political parties, social partners and the Director of the Central Bank as Famagusta Gazette reports. Sigma Television reported that President Christofias admitted during yesterday’s talks with labour leaders that the troika is exerting strong pressure on the government, both at a political and a technocratic level in order to reach a deal on the memorandum.

During meeting, the ‘red lines’ of the unions were established, from which they will not back down, namely no cuts on pensions, setting up a committee on the civil servants pension scheme with a view to concluding in two months, keeping the wage adjustment increment and keeping the thirteenth salary intact and no redundancies in public sector shift employees. µccording to CyBC television, President Christofias made clear that there is no leeway for preventing further cuts to public sector wages, but did assure that the term cuts will be replaced with contributions so that pensions are not affected.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Minister Push for Deal as Democratic Left Resists

Vroutsis, negotiations with troika go on

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, OCTOBER 25 — Greek Labor Minister Yannis Vroutsis said negotiations with troika were ongoing on Thursday as objections by the Democratic Left, the coalition’s junior partner, to labor reforms proposed by foreign creditors continued to pose an obstacle to a final rubber stamp on the deal. In comments to Parliament’s internal affairs committee — as Kathimerini online reports -, Vroutsis said the three parties in the coalition had done their best to minimize the social impact of the austerity measures and called on lawmakers to await the outcome of a Euro Working Group meeting in Brussels where Greece is topping the agenda. The executive committee of Democratic Left was to reconvene at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday to discuss the thorny issue of labor reforms once again. Although party officials concede that the new agreement on labor reforms achieved by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is “improved”, they believe that outstanding issues must still be resolved.

Party spokesman Nikos Tsoukalis said Democratic Left’s stance “represents something different in the political scene and sets out the limits to the negotiation.” Finance minister Yannis Stournaras, for his part, rebuffed reports that the controversial labor reforms would be revoked.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece Turning to Desperate Measures as Citizens Face Starvation Due to Economic Collapse

(NaturalNews) The European nation of Greece appears to be sliding ever so progressively into the abyss of total collapse, as illustrated by a recent government measure aimed at feeding the growing hordes of hungry, unemployed Greeks across the nation. A report translated into English from Voz Populi explains that, under the new law, Greek merchants will now be permitted to sell expired foods at a reduced rate to the nation’s poorest citizens, who are becoming increasingly unable to afford basic necessities.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Real Incomes in Italy Fall Again

Difference between wage rises and inflation 1.8%

(ANSA) — Rome, October 25 — Real incomes in recession-hit Italy continued on a downward trend in September, Istat said on Thursday.

The national statistics agency said hourly wages increased by 1.4% in September compared to the same month in 2011.

The annual inflation rate, however, was 3.2%.

This means real incomes fell by 1.8% because higher prices ate into the spending power of what Italians earned.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Why Did the Bundesbank Secretly Withdraw Two-Thirds of Its London Gold?

Two days ago we reported that the German Court of Auditors demanded that the German Central Bank, the Bundesbank, verify and audit its official gold holdings consisting of 3,396 tons, held mostly offshore, namely New York, London and Paris, at least according to official documents.


Speculation aside, the fact that central banks, and even banks of central banks (i.e., the BIS), have long lent out gold, is no secret to anyone, traditionally to satisfy short-term physical gold confirmation claims upon a spike in demand, usually associated with a liquidity shortage (when the value of gold as monetary collateral truly shines). The problem with this rehypothecation scheme is what happens when the counterparty suddenly finds themselves insolvent, the gold has since been re-re-rehypothecated, and nobody really knows whose gold it is any more.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


“Alger Hiss Day” A Reminder of U.N.’s Anti-Americanism

October 24 is United Nations Day, or as Barbara Marx Hubbard calls it, “Global Oneness Day.” It has also been labeled “Alger Hiss Day,” in recognition of the Soviet spy and State Department official who played a major role in founding the world body. Don’t expect the major media to remind us of that fact.

One of the best sources of information on the role of Alger Hiss in the U.N. is the important new book, Alger Hiss: Why He Chose Treason, by Christina Shelton.

The Shelton book notes, “Following Yalta, preparation for the establishment of the United Nations was Hiss’s primary mission.” Hiss was appointed acting secretary-general of the U.N. founding conference and was involved in staffing the U.N. by selecting people for employment in the world body. “About fifty showed up as permanent employees and a couple of hundred in part-time assignments,” Shelton says of Hiss’s efforts.


It took several years for the State Department to release the documents, which I have now posted. The material consists of 215 pages of internal State Department documents which explain how the role of communist spy and State Department official Alger Hiss in founding the U.N. was covered up during the 60th anniversary of the world body…

The material constitutes an indictment of the State Department’s failure to acknowledge, let alone explain, how a communist assumed a major position of authority and power in the State Department and then used that influence to create a world organization that has been exploited for anti-American purposes ever since.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Mom Found ‘Guilty’ By Court After Refusing TSA Pat Down on Daughter

A woman who stood up to TSA screeners and refused to allow them to grope her or her 14 year old daughter has been found guilty of “disorderly conduct” and sentenced to one year of probation by a court in Tennessee.

Back in July 2011, Andrea Fornella Abbott of Clarksville, was arrested by Nashville airport authorities for expressing outrage at the TSA procedures.

A police report stated that Abbott would not allow her daughter to be “touched inappropriately” or have her “crotch grabbed”. Abbott also refused to submit to a full body scan, saying that she did not want her or her daughters’ naked bodies revealed by the scanner.

The report noted that she attempted to take cell phone video of the incident but was prevented from doing so by the TSA screeners.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Pierce County Will Change Jail Rules for Muslims

Pierce County officials have agreed to make more accommodations for jail inmates who practice Islam as part of a legal settlement announced Wednesday.

Pierce County officials have agreed to make more accommodations for jail inmates who practice Islam as part of a legal settlement announced Wednesday. Muslims incarcerated in the county lockup now will be provided halal meals, have access to prayer rugs through the jail commissary and be able to congregate in groups of up to five for prayer and religious study, the ACLU of Washington and the Public Interest Law Group said in a news release. “Persons of all faiths have a constitutional right to practice their religion. This settlement will help ensure fair treatment for Muslim inmates and for inmates of all faiths,” La Rond Baker, an ACLU attorney, said.

[JP note: Another straw in the wind of the West’s demented drive to suicide. Over-ripe for satire.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Police Probing Democrat Caught in Video Sting

A criminal investigation regarding a video sting reported by WND that caught the field director for Democratic Rep. Jim Moran’s campaign in an apparent conspiracy to commit election fraud has been initiated by the Arlington County Police Department in Virginia.

Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told WND that the department has been made aware of the video sting conducted by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas and launched the investigation just an hour ago.

“Our detectives will probably reach out to the video producers,” he told WND.

The investigation could lead to prosecution by the commonwealth attorney, Theothani Stamos.

As WND reported, Patrick Moran, the son of the congressman, resigned Wednesday after the video showed him advising an undercover reporter how to fraudulently cast ballots in the name of registered voters by forging utility bills and relying on the assistance of Democrat lawyers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Rep. Hinojosa[D] Draws Blank on Second Amendment

Updated with statement from Rep. Hinojosa: “I simply paused for a second to collect my thoughts. I’m not the first person to ever do that nor will I be the last. I think we should continue talking about the issues that are important to my district and not spend any more time discussing someone collecting their thoughts during a debate.”

Longtime U.S. Rep Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, fumbled when asked a question about the Second Amendment at a political debate yesterday at the McAllen Rotary Club.

“There are so many people in Washington who come and talk to us about the Constitution and the rights that they want kept sacred and that not do anything about them. That we not change them. That we not amend them,” said Hinojosa, according to The Monitor. “And I can tell you that — I’m drawing a blank on the Second Amendment, but I think it’s the weapons, isn’t it? The NRA?”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Ted Turner: I Think It’s “Good” U.S. Troops Are Killing Themselves

CNN founder advocates UN take role as global policeman

During an appearance on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, Ted Turner said he thinks it’s “good” that U.S. soldiers are killing themselves because it shows humanity has evolved a distaste for war.

Asked what he thought about the fact that more American soldiers commit suicide than are killed in combat, host Morgan said it was “shocking,” but Turner responded, “No, I think it’s good.”

Turner went on to argue that it was time for people to start acting “enlightened” and that this was why it was “good” U.S. soldiers are committing suicide in such large numbers because it shows an aversion to war.

At first, Turner smirked and appeared as if he was about to say it’s “terrific” that U.S. soldiers are killing themselves, before using the word “good” instead and adopting a sterner facial expression.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

What Do Muslims in the West Cost?

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Terrorist sentenced to 37 years in millennium plot

SEATTLE (AP) — Algerian terrorist Ahmed Ressam was sentenced Wednesday to 37 years in prison for plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport around the turn of the new millennium.

Let’s see. Each year in a maximum security prison costs more than $50,000. For a prisoner such as Ressam, there will be extra costs. Halal meals? Special provisions made because he is a Muslim? And if he conducts prison Da’wa, and persuades some of his fellows to embrace Islam, what will be the extra cost to society if those adult-onset Islam criminals are released, because they are now not only hardened criminals, but hardened criminals who, in embracing Islam, think they have acquired justification for their attacks on the circumambient society of non-Muslims?


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Dinosaurs Looking for Love Grew Alluring Feathers

Dinosaurs may have wooed potential mates with flashy feathers, peacock style. Researchers have discovered lengthy wisps on a sexually mature adult, but absent in the toddler specimen of the same dinosaur species. These findings shed light on the origin of wings and feathered flight, scientists added.

Birds are the last living lineage of dinosaurs. Their predatory dinosaur ancestors and relatives apparently were covered in feathers as well. These downy coats probably helped to keep them warm at first.

It remains hotly debated how the ancestors of birds evolved key traits that allowed them to fly, such as long, strong feathers. To answer this mystery, researchers investigated fossils of a dinosaur called Ornithomimus edmontonicus. These included a turkey-size juvenile about a year old and about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long, and two ostrich-size adults about 10 years old and about 12 feet (4 m) long.

“The most recent ideas about Ornithomimus was that it was herbivorous,” said researcher Darla Zelenitsky, a paleontologist at the University of Calgary. “They superficially resembled ostriches, with a toothless beak, large eyes, long legs, long tail, and now we know they had feathers, but these animals were not closely related to ostriches.”

The 71-million-year-old bones were excavated from the badlands of Alberta, Canada.

“The climate in the area 71 million years ago was warm and wet, subtropical, very much like that seen today in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. There would have been swamps and lots of water-loving conifers,” said researcher François Therrien, a paleontologist at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Canada.

Famous dinosaurs in that area included predatory tyrannosaurs, the duck-billed hadrosaurs, heavily armored ankylosaurs, and horned dinosaurs known as ceratopsians. Crocodiles and turtles were also common.

All three Ornithomimus specimens were apparently covered in stringy down — filamentlike feathers up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) long.

“These are the first feathered dinosaur specimens from the Western Hemisphere,” Zelenitsky said. “They’ve never been found in North or South America before — before this, they were previously almost exclusively found in northern China.”

In addition, one adult also had markings on its winglike forelimbs that suggest it bore longer feathers, ones that apparently possessed stiff shafts down the middle much like the feathers found on the wings of flying birds today.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Bacteria That Function as Living Electrical Cables Found

Danish scientists have discovered that some bacteria form a kind of gigantic power lines to survive between the different layers of marine mud. Researchers at Aarhus University, Denmark, made a sensational discovery almost three years ago when they measured electric currents in the seabed.

It was unclear as to what was conducting the current, but the researchers imagined the electric currents might run between different bacteria via a joint external wiring network.

The researchers have now solved the mystery. It turns out that the whole process takes place inside bacteria that are one centimetre long.

They make up a kind of live electric cable that no one had ever imagined existed. Each one of these ‘cable bacteria’ contains a bundle of insulated wires that conduct an electric current from one end to the other.

“Our experiments showed that the electric connections in the seabed must be solid structures built by bacteria,” says PhD student Christian Pfeffer, Aarhus University.

He could interrupt the electric currents by pulling a thin wire horizontally through the seafloor. Just as when an excavator cuts our electric cables.

In microscopes, scientists found a hitherto unknown type of long, multi-cellular bacteria that was always present when scientists measured the electric currents.

“The incredible idea that these bacteria should be electric cables really fell into place when, inside the bacteria, we saw wire-like strings enclosed by a membrane,” says Nils Risgaard-Petersen, Aarhus University. Kilometers of living cables

The bacterium is one hundred times thinner than a hair and the whole bacterium functions as an electric cable with a number of insulated wires within it. Quite similar to the electric cables we know from our daily lives.

“Such unique insulated biological wires seem simple but with incredible complexity at nanoscale,” says PhD student Jie Song, Aarhus University, who used nanotools to map the electrical properties of the cable bacteria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Catalan MEPs Ask for EU Help Against Spanish Army

Four Catalan MEPs have asked the European Commission to tell Spain it cannot use military force to stop Catalonia from splitting away.

The deputies — centre-left MEP Maria Badia, Greens Ana Miranda and Raul Romeva i Rueda and Liberal Ramon Tremosa — wrote to EU justice commissioner Vivianne Reding on 22 October.

The letter says: “We are writing to you to convey our deep concern over a series of threats of the use of military force against the Catalan population… In these circumstances, the European Union should intervene preventatively to guarantee that the resolution of the Catalan conflict be resolved in a peaceful, democratic manner.”

It notes that politicians from the centre-right People’s Party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy have spoken of article 8 of Spain’s constitution, which says the army can be used to protect Spanish sovereignty.

It adds the commission should: “Make a public statement insisting on the withdrawal from the public debate of any military threat or use of force as a way of resolving this political conflict.”

The letter met with ridicule in Madrid.

Rosa Diez from the centrist Union, Progress and Democracy Party called it an “insult” to Spanish democracy.

Opposition Socialist Party leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said it “does not bear any relation to reality.”

But for his part, Spanish centre-right MEP Alejo Vidal-Quadras told Spanish TV just two weeks ago: “They (the government) should be briefing a general of the Civil Guard?…?the government should think of intervening in the rebellious region if they persist.”

The Civil Guard, a gendarmerie, still has a bad name after it staged a failed coup in 1981.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Irish PM Wins ‘European of the Year’ Award

Irish PM Enda Kenny has been announced winner of a “European of the Year” title, awarded by the German Magazine Publishers Association, reports the Irish Times. The association said it was for Kenny’s “strong contribution to Europe and commitment to European ideals.” The ceremony will take place in November.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Islam ‘Too Prominent’, French Think

Sixty percent of the French think Islam is too prominent in their country and nearly half view the religion as a threat to national identity, according to a survey published Thursday.

Thirty-five percent said they were indifferent and only five percent thought the presence of Islam was not overwhelming, an Ifop survey for Le Figaro newspaper said.

The poll covered 1,736 persons and was conducted between October 15 and 18.

Forty-three percent said the presence of Muslims was a “threat” for national identity, 43 percent said they did not view it as a problem and only 17 percent saw it as culturally enriching.

France has a population of 65 million, including an estimated four million Muslims, the largest Islamic population in Western Europe.

Of those surveyed by Ifop, 67 percent said Muslims were not integrated into the mainstream and 68 percent thought Muslims were to blame for this.

France is officially a secular republic but religious tensions have been rising after an Al-Qaeda inspired gunman killed seven people in March as well as a grenade attack by Islamist radicals on a kosher grocery near Paris.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Ex-Minister Claims Innocence in Finmeccanica Corruption Case

Claudio Scajola says will collaborate with magistrates

(ANSA) — Rome, October 23 — Italy’s former economy minister Claudio Scajola told a television news channel on Tuesday that he is innocent and would cooperate with judges in a corruption probe involving defence giant Finmeccanica. Naples prosecutors put Scajola under investigation for his role in Finmeccanica’s supply contracts to Brazil, and arrested a former manager of the State-owned defense contractor for corruption in the case.

“I just learned of this legal advisory. I reiterate that with respect to my responsibilities as minister of economic development, I traveled the world always respecting the laws and the rules,” Scajola told TGCOM 24. “I always conducted these duties in the light of day and in official meetings. I have never had private encounters. I am serene and do not understand what there is behind it, but from now on I am available to the magistrates should they want to hear me on the matter,” Scajola continued.

“It seems queer to me that in this moment, a ministry activity of which I am proud could be seen as something shady. I will not admit any shameful speculation,” Scajola added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Referred to European Court of Justice Over Landfills

EU asks tribunal to apply 56-mln-euro fine, plus daily penalties

(ANSA) — Brussels, October 24 — The European Commission referred Italy to the European Court of Justice on Wednesday for how it manages its landfills, asking the tribunal to fine the eurozone’s third-largest economy for failing to execute a 2007 court order.

The Commission has asked the tribunal to apply a lump-sum fine of 56 million euros to Italy with additional daily sanctions of 256,819 euros a day until a 2007 ruling ordering the resolution of the problem is executed.

The request Italy be fined originates from Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, according to a statement from the Commission. “The problems still persist in almost all Italian regions,” the statement said. “The measures currently in place are not sufficient to resolve the problem in the long term”.

Accordingly, the Commission is requesting that Italy act “urgently” to clear up the hundreds of illegal and uncontrolled landfills.

There are some 255 landfills that need to be regulated, of which 16 hold toxic waste, according to the statement.

Notwithstanding the commitments the Italian authorities made in 2007, the issues relating to only some “31 landfills will be resolved by the end of 2012”, the Commission said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: F1: Ferrari to Bear Navy Flag for Marines at Indian GP

Foreign minister praises team for solidarity

(ANSA) — Rome, October 24 — The Ferrari Formula One team will carry the flag of the Italian Navy on their race cars at the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday as a sign of solidarity with two Italian marines being held in the country.

The marines are accused of killing two Indian fisherman in February while on an anti-piracy mission aboard an Italian merchant vessel.

The Italian government, citing United Nations conventions, says its courts should have jurisdiction over the case and has been pressing for the marines return to Italy.

The pair are being held while the Indian Supreme Court considers Italy’s claim for jurisdiction.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi praised the move by the fabled Italian team.

“Credit to Ferrari for their decision to display the symbol of the Italian Navy during the Indian GP,” the minister said via Twitter.

“It’s a testimony to the support of our entire nation for our marines’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Prodi Still Unsure About Berlusconi Taking Back Seat

‘You never know’ says man who beat media magnate twice at polls

(ANSA) — Milan, October 25 — Two-time Italian premier Romano Prodi said Thursday that it is still not certain whether his old rival Silvio Berlusconi has retired from front-line politics.

Berlusconi ended months of speculation on Wednesday when the media magnate said he would not run for a fourth term as premier in elections next spring as the candidate for his centre-left People of Freedom (PdL) party.

“Wait before writing the headlines because you never know,” said Prodi, who earlier this month was appointed as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy for the Sahel, when asked about Berlusconi’s political future.

Prodi, the former president of the European Commission, led centre-left coalitions to victory over Berlusconi in elections in Italy in 1996 and 2006.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Bossi Does Not ‘Believe’ Berlusconi is Quitting

Former ally says Northern League to go alone at elections

(see related story) (ANSA) — Rome, October 25 — Umberto Bossi, the former head of the Northern League, expressed doubts on Thursday about his old ally Silvio Berlusconi’s announcement that he would take a back seat from front-line politics and not run at next year’s elections.

“No, I don’t believe it,” said Bossi when asked about Berlusconi not standing for a fourth term as premier.

He added that Berlusconi’s announcement was unlikely to lead to the League patching up its alliance with Berlusconi’s centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party.

The League and the PdL broke off their long-standing coalition last year, when Berlusconi decided to support Premier Mario Monti’s emergency technocrat government after the financial crisis caused his administration to collapse.

“We’ve decided to run alone anyway,” said Bossi, who was forced to step down as leader of the pro-devolution League because of a corruption scandal earlier this year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Ruby ‘Can’t Wait’ to Testify in Berlusconi Trial

‘I’m the lightning rod of this case’ says alleged prostitute

(ANSA) — Milan, October 25 — Karima El Mahroug, a Moroccan runaway and belly dancer also known as Ruby, says she looks forward to testifying in the case in which ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex with her when she was a minor. “I’m the lightning rod of this trial and they should call on me,” she told Italian television Thursday. “I can’t wait, and when they do, I’ll go”. Both Ruby and Berlusconi deny exchanging money for sex. The media tycoon also denies abusing his power to try to cover up the affair.

This allegation regards a telephone call he made to a police station in May 2010 to ask about Mahroug, who had been detained over a theft accusation.

Berlusconi has said he was trying to avoid a diplomatic incident as he believed Mahroug was a relative of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Last week Berlusconi testified that he was “convinced” this was true in a meeting he once had with the late Egyptian strongman.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, argue the premier was trying to hush up the affair by calling and then sending an official of his People of Freedom (PdL) party to pick her up.

Prosecutors allege Berlusconi had sex with 33 prostitutes, including the then underage Ruby, at a number of so-called ‘bunga bunga’ parties at his home near Milan.

Berlusconi says he is the victim of biased prosecutors.

The charge of having sex with an underage prostitute carries a jail term of up to three years, and abuse of office 12 years.

Three other people have also been indicted in the case on suspicion of procuring young women for the premier’s alleged sex parties.

They are Berlusconi’s former dental hygienist, ex-showgirl and now Lombardy Regional Councillor Nicole Minetti, the PdL official who was sent to the police station for Mahroug last year; a former news anchor at one of Berlusconi’s TV channels and close personal friend of the premier’s, Emilio Fede; and a showbiz talent scout and self-styled ‘VIP impresario’, Lele Mora.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Ally of PD Chief Bersani Probed Over Personal Secretary Case

Investigators examining alleged abuse of authority by Solaroli

(ANSA) Bologna, October 25; A day after Bologna prosecutors opened a probe into alleged fraud by Pier Luigi Bersani’s personal secretary, another local ally of the Democratic Party (PD) leader is under investigation.

On Thursday, prosecutors announced a probe of Bruno Solaroli, former cabinet chief of Emilia-Romagna, the region where Bersani was president before joining national politics in Rome. Solaroli, a former member of parliament and mayor of the town of Imola, is being investigated for abuse of authority.

Solaroli had signed the paperwork for the transfer of Berasni’s personal secretary, Zoia Veronesi, to Rome as well as for a promotion.

Prosecutors Wednesday opened a probe into the conditions surrounding Veronesi’s transfer and are trying to determine whether she was paid a salary by the regional government of Emilia-Romagna while she was already working for Bersani in Rome.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Survey Exposes French Anxieties Over Muslim ‘Threat’

The role of Islam in France was once again under the spotlight on Thursday after right-wing daily Le Figaro published the results of an opinion poll that suggested 43 percent of French people believe the religion is a “threat” to national identity…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Blackburn Pupils Win Headscarf Fight

A NEW school headscarf is set to be introduced following pressure from pupils. Pleckgate High School, Blackburn, saw girls rebel after bringing in a uniform hijab, complaining it was ill-fitting or against their Islamic principles. The school began working with a group of girls on a new design which will become uniform policy after the half-term holiday. Headteacher Cherry Ridgway said: “All the girls have behaved well throughout the process and parents have been very supportive.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Billionaire Businessman in High Court Accused of Failing to Pay for Ex-Wife’s Private Chef Amid Claims Their Islamic Marriage Was Never Valid

Maha Shagroon (pictured) claims ex-husband Adnan Sharbatly has breached their divorce settlement by failing to maintain her two luxury homes, cutting her number of servants and refusing to pay her head chef.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Don’t Let Prisoners Vote, Whatever the Cost

Parliament, not Europe, must lead the way on issues of such importance

Two years ago, David Cameron told the House of Commons that it made him “physically ill” to contemplate the idea of prisoners getting the vote. His revulsion is shared by MPs, who voted in February last year by a margin of more than 10 to one to maintain the status quo, which bars prisoners from voting. The controversy dates back to a European Court of Human Rights ruling in 2005 that, while countries could decide which prisoners should be denied the right to vote, a universal ban was illegal…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Far-Right English Defence League Banned From Marching in Islington

Police have been granted a ban on marches in Islington after fears a protest by an extreme right-wing group could spark disorder.

Policing minister Damian Green today agreed to a request by Scotland Yard to temporarily ban marches in Islington and three other boroughs — Waltham Forest, Newham and Tower Hamlets. The far-right English Defence League (EDL) was planning to march on Walthamstow, Waltham Forest, on Saturday and there were fears the action could bring violence to Islington. Finsbury Park Mosque, in St Thomas’s Road, Finsbury Park, was identified as a possible “target for disorder” while there were worries about members of the EDL gathering in King’s Cross…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Flawed Patten

THE BBC still doesn’t get it.

Lord Patten, chairman of the Trust that oversees the BBC on behalf of taxpayers, says sniffily that the Government should respect the Beeb’s “independence” — in other words, keep its nose out of the Savile scandal. Such arrogance. It typifies the BBC attitude that it is above criticism and answerable only to itself. Culture Secretary Maria Miller has told Patten there is deep public concern at Savile’s horrific assaults and the subsequent cover-up. That is her duty on behalf of us, the licence payers. Patten’s duty, if only he could grasp it, is to wake up to the gravity of the BBC’s failings.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Labour Politician Threatens to Quit if Bust to ‘Pro-War’ Journalist Christopher Hitchens Goes Up in Red Lion Square

LABOUR councillors are blocking plans to honour campaigning journalist Christopher Hitchens with a statue, with one of them branding the late writer as a “pro-war Islamophobe”.

A trail of emails leaked to the New Journal show a sharp exchange between the British Humanist Association (BHA), which wants the statue to be erected in Red Lion Square, Holborn, and politicians representing the ward…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: London EDL Marches Stopped by Government Ban

A series of marches by the English Defence League has been banned amid fears of serious public disorder.

Policing minister Damian Green agreed to a police request for the ban ahead of marches on Saturday in Walthamstow and elsewhere in north-east London. The ban prevents all marches in Waltham Forest and nearby boroughs Islington, Tower Hamlets and Newham for 30 days. The Metropolitan Police wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May asking for the ban two days ago. Mr Green said: “Having carefully considered the legal tests and balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected, I have given my consent to a ban on all marches in Waltham Forest and three nearby boroughs for a 30-day period. I know the Metropolitan Police are committed to using their powers to ensure communities and properties are protected.” Ch Supt Peter Terry, the force’s gold commander for the planned march, said: “We have made this decision based on specific intelligence and information and our message is clear — we do not want people coming into the areas to attend these events.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Note to European Liberals — No One in America Gives a Damn What You Think About the US Election

by Ed West

There are two great mysteries about US politics as far as I’m concerned. Why do Europeans love Barack Obama so much? And why do European Obama-supporters think anyone in the United States remotely cares what they think? Two recent polls show how much more popular Obama is around the world compared to his rival. If Britain was the real 51st state, according to a GlobeScan/PIPA survey published on the BBC website, it would easily hand Obama its 100 electoral college votes, Britons favouring Obama by 65 per cent to Mitt Romney’s 7. And Britain is considerably less Obamaist than France, where the ratio is 72-1.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Non-Muslims Have ‘Sex Like Donkeys’ And Deserve to be Blown-Up, Said ‘Terror Plot’ Leader

Westerners have ‘sex like donkeys’ so ‘why shouldn’t we terrorise them?’ the alleged leader of a terror plot was recorded saying.

The leader of alleged suicide bomb plot said non-believers deserved to be attacked because they “have sex like donkeys”, orgies and took drugs, a court heard. Ifan Naseer said the whole world was **** and people deserved to be terrorized. The al-Qaeda inspired gang is accused of plotting to use eight suicide bombers detonating rucksacks packed with explosives in crowded places to cause “mass death” and carnage on the streets of Britain. Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, all unemployed from Birmingham, are the alleged “senior members” of the group and were among 12 people arrested and charged last year. They all deny the charges against them…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Seek to Ban EDL March in Islington Amid Fears Finsbury Park Mosque Could be ‘Target for Disorder’

Police are seeking to ban marches in Islington because of fears a far-right group could target Finsbury Park Mosque, a leaked e-mail has revealed.

Scotland Yard is seeking to stop the English Defence League (EDL) staging a planned protest in Walthamstow in Waltham Forest on Saturday. Officers have asked the home secretary, Theresa May, for a temporary order prohibiting marches across Waltham Forest and three other boroughs including Islington. A message sent to councillors by Islington Council’s executive member for community safety has shed light on the reasons. Cllr Paul Convery writes: “The police service has sought a banning area that includes Islington because there are concerns that locations around Finsbury Park, including the mosque [in St Thomas’s Road], may be targets for disorderly gathering. “There is also an Arsenal home match that afternoon which will add to a potentially difficult public order situation.”

Cllr Convery also warns EDL members may arrive at King’s Cross station before making their way to Walthamstow. He added: “Last summer, a similar EDL march planned for Tower Hamlets saw a gathering of aggressive EDL members at the junction of Pentonville Road and Caledonian Road.” The ban would also apply to Tower Hamlets and Newham. Ch Supt Peter Terry said: “We have made this decision based on specific intelligence and information, and our message is clear, we do not want people coming into the areas to attend these events.” The EDL may hold a stationary protest if the ban is approved…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Terror Gang Discussed Killing 1,000 People With Poisoned Hand Cream

A British terror gang discussed killing 1,000 people by lacing hand cream with poison and smearing it on the door handles of cars and homes.

Irfan Naseer, the alleged ringleader, said people would start dying within five minutes of coming in to contact with it when they went to work in the morning. The Muslim group also talked about getting guns from the “black geezers” and storming in to a synagogue and other places, Woolwich Crown Court heard. The al-Qaeda inspired gang, from Birmingham, is accused of plotting to use eight suicide bombers to detonate rucksacks packed with explosives in crowded places to cause “mass death” and carnage on the streets of Britain…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Benghazi Attack Suspect Killed in Cairo Raid

Interior minister tells media that terrorist group dismantled

(ANSAmed) — Cairo, October 25 — An alleged terrorist believed to have played a role in the attack against the US consulate in Benghazi in which Ambassador Chris Stevens died was killed in the outskirts of Cairo during a raid by Egyptian security forces, the online edition of Al Masri Al Youm reports, citing the interior ministry.

The ministry defined the man as a ‘terrorist’ and said he was killed yesterday during an armed clash in an apartment in Nasr City which lasted five hours. The man reportedly used explosives against security officials.

Egyptian security forces, wrote the online paper, said they were acting on intelligence according to which the man was involved on the September 11 attack against the US consulate.

Police said they found 17 explosives, four rocket propelled grenades, three automatic weapons and an impressive arsenal of munitions in his apartment.

According to witnesses cited by the daily, the apartment was lived in by Libyans while the website of Al Ahram claims the man who was killed was Egyptian.

Egypt’s Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddine, quoted by Al Masri Al Youm online, said police received information on the presence of a terrorist with links to al Qaida in a building in Nasr City. Pro-government daily al Gomhoureya wrote that the minister announced that security officials had dismantled a terror group with three apartments in Nasr City. Eddine said five people who were found in possession of explosives were also arrested in the police operation.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Authorities Set Up Sexual Harassment Hotlines

ahead of Eid; gov’t promises stiffer penalties, vigilance

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, OCTOBER 25 — Sexual harassment cases in Egypt usually surge during holidays, and authorities have set up a hotline ahead of the Eid al-Adha feast, which begins tomorrow, Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported on Thursday.

The women’s complaints office at the National Council for Women, the operations room of the Egyptian Company for Metro Management & Operation, and Fouada Watch, a youth initiative against harassment, have all activated hotlines for women to call and report any incidents of sexual harassment. This follows on a series of sexual assaults against female journalists in Egypt, the latest of which was an attack on French television journalist Sonia Dridi, who was groped and robbed by a mob of about 30 men on October 18 after a live broadcast on a protest at Tahrir Square. Also on Thursday, Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said he wants to eradicate this “degenerate practice, which is a menace to society.” The cabinet is drafting a bill to stiffen penalties against sexual harassment, and the premier also stressed the need to educate youth about harassment.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Pro-Government Militias Take Bani Walid

After weeks of combat with Gaddafi loyalists; civilians killed

(ANSAmed) — ROME — After fighting Gaddafi loyalists in the besieged northern Libyan town of Bani Walid for more than three weeks, pro-government militias have taken control of the town of 85,000 residents, government spokesperson Nasser al-Manaa told reporters in a press conference on Wednesday, after the final assault on the city.

The operation was carried out by militias from Misrata, Tripoli and Zintan. “It was not directed at the city, but at the stabilization of the country,” Manaa said. “There were elements that were fomenting sedition and the continuation of fighting in Libya.” The militias freed several hostages and captured 100 wanted men, including several from the 32nd Brigade formerly guided by Khamis, son of ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi. About 50 combatants died and hundreds were wounded in the final assault, according to Manaa. The attack on Bani Walid was sparked by the death last month of Omran Shaaban, 22, one of the men credited for capturing Gaddafi. Kidnapped and tortured in July by Gaddafi loyalists, Shaaban was freed after long negotiations, but died of his wounds in September in a Paris hospital.

Speaking with The Guardian UK newspaper, Bani Walid resident Abd al-Nasser Alim, a former Gaddafi opponent who was long incarcerated in Abu Salim prison, said that what happened in the city “is beyond imagining. It’s a tragedy. The so-called Libyan army is really a gang of thugs. They’re like locusts. They attack everything in sight.” Government forces used tanks, mortars and gas against civilians, he said, leaving women and children dead. “They are barbarians, they are committing crimes against humanity,” the eyewitness said. “After what I’ve seen today, I regret every moment of the old regime.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Press: Pro-Ennahdha Demonstrators Paid

Video shows list of names with amount of money

(ANSAmed) — Tunis, October 25 — A video posted on social networks last night is embarrassing the ruling party in Tunisia’s government coalition, Ennahdha. The video allegedly proves that several thousands of people who took part on Tuesday in a pro-government demonstration were paid.

According to the Kapitalis website, the footage shows a piece of paper forgotten on one of the busses which brought demonstrators in front of the constituent assembly. On the page are listed dozens of names with phone numbers and a sum of money ranging from ten to 40 dinars (five to 20 euros). Supporters were reportedly also paid a bottle of water and a sandwich each.

On Tuesday, two groups of people demonstrated in the Bardo neighbourhood, in front of the assembly, government supporters and opposition members. Demonstrators with the opposition waved banknotes in the direction of Ennahdha supporters, mocking them.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

PNA: EU: New Phase for a Privileged Partnership

Negotiations concluded on a new joint action plan

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, OCTOBER 25 — The Palestinian Authority and the European Union concluded the negotiations on the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan, marking a “new phase” for the privileged relations. Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the PA and Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, made the announcement in Ramallah. The Action Plan sets out the objectives of EU-PA bilateral relations for the next five years. “This — EU High Representative said — will mark a new phase in our privileged bilateral partnership with the Palestinian Authority”. “The EU — Ashton added — reiterates its commitment to the institution and state-building objectives of the Palestinian Authority and to further deepen bilateral relations with the future state of Palestine”. According to the Eu High Representative this “is an ambitious plan for the EU and the PA, which has made a strategic political choice to anchor its socio-economic development with the European Union”. “The ties between the Palestinians and the EU — Ashton affirmed — are deep and long standing. I am confident we can increasingly translate these ties into mutually beneficial outcomes”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Monti Supports Two-State Solution in Netanyahu Talks

Italian premier says Iran sanctions ‘working well’

(ANSAmed) — Rome, October 25 — Premier Mario Monti on Thursday said Italy supports a two-State solution in Israel.

“With Israel, we believe in the need for a definitive solution to the conflict, based on two States and two peoples who live close to one another in security, peace and trust of one another,” said Monti after a meeting in Israel with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. “I told prime minister Monti that my main aim is to strengthen Israel’s links with Italy. They will grow”, said the Israeli PM. It was the first inter-governmental meeting between the two nations since Netanyahu met in Rome with former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi in June 2011. The conflict in Syria and tensions with Tehran were also at the center of talks. Monti “strongly condemned” the ongoing violence in Syria and called on both the Assad regime and rebel forces to stop fighting.

As for Iran, he said that recent European Union sanctions are having a positive effect. “They are rather effectively blocking the Iranian economy and data regarding the influence on the country are encouraging,” he said. European Union foreign ministers decided 10 days ago to increase sanctions on Iran.

The move, which affects banking and gas imports from Iran to Europe, came in response to the nation’s contested nuclear program, which Iran claims is for non-military purposes.

Monti on Thursday called on Iran to prove its nuclear program was peaceful.

“Italy asks Iran to fully demonstrate the peaceful nature of its nuclear program and to follow international obligations,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

NATO Using Al Qaeda Rat Lines to Flood Syria With Foreign Terrorists

The discredited and now obscure, defected Syrian ambassador Nawaf Fares,had claimed mid-summer of 2012 that the Syrian government had been behind the influx of foreign terrorists that entered Iraq during the later phases of the US-British occupation of Iraq. These terrorists took part in campaigns of sectarian-driven violence that divided and destroyed an already devastated Iraq. Fares spectacularly claimed that he himself was involved in organizing terrorist death squads in a hamhanded attempt to implicate the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

What Fares actually revealed however, was an invisible state within Syria, one composed of Saudi-aligned, sectarian extremism, operating not only independently of the government of President Assad, but in violent opposition to it. This “state-within-a-state” also so happens to be directly affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, the leading forces now fighting in Syria with significant Western-backing against the Syrian government.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Syria: Damascus Accuses France of ‘Supporting Terrorists’

After Fabius statement on Gen. Hassan killing in Beirut

(ANSAmed) — Damascus, October 23 — France is supporting terrorists within Syria’s borders, the Syrian foreign ministry said in a communique on Tuesday. Syria officially uses the term “terrorist” in reference to those carrying out attacks as well as the armed opposition to embattled President Bashar al-Assad. “France supports armed terrorist groups, including financially and materially, defying international law and the UN Charter. We call on the international community, and on the UN Security Council in particular, to focus seriously on the role of France, which prevents the end of violence and terrorism in Syria, and encourages terrorists to continue massacring innocent civilians,” the communique said. While France is among the most vocal critics of the Assad regime, it has often stated that its support of the Syrian opposition does not extend to supplying weapons. On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the car-bombing death in Beirut of Lebanese intelligence chief, General Wissam al-Hassan, was “probably” orchestrated by Damascus.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Damascus: Kidnapped Orthodox Priest Found Dead

Government and rebel supporters accuse each other

(ANSAmed) — Beirut, October 25 — A Syrian Orthodox priest who had been kidnapped a few days ago by an unidentified armed group was found dead this morning north of Damascus, according to residents in Qatana. Qatana is the neighbourhood south-west of Damascus home to the Saint Elias church of which Father Fadi Haddad was parish priest.

Residents in Qatana had first denounced the priest’s disappearance and accused pro-regime forces in the area of kidnapping him in order to subsequently accuse Islamic fundamentalists of ‘instigating the local community to take part in the civil war’.

Other sources close to the government accused armed anti-regime rebels of kidnapping the priest and demanding a ransom.

‘We condemn this horrible criminal act committed by Assad’s gangs who are not stopping in front of anything sacred’, said a statement released this morning by Qatana residents who support the anti-regime revolt.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

2 US Troops Killed in Afghan Insider Attack

Two U.S. troops in Afghanistan were killed after an individual wearing an Afghan National Police uniform turned his weapon on them, officials said Thursday. The attack took place in Khas Uruzgan district. Officials are investigating the incident. It was the latest in a string of attacks from inside the Afghan Army and police force that are threatening to undermine both the partnership with international troops — which have been the target of many attacks — and the morale of Afghan forces, who have suffered equally heavy casualties from such strikes. So far this year, at least 52 foreign troops — about half of them Americans — have been killed in insider attacks…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Army Medic, 25, Becomes Third Female Soldier Killed in Afghanistan After Suspected ‘Green on Blue’ Attack

Medic Channing Day, 25, from Northern Ireland, has been named as the 3 Medical Regiment soldier killed alongside a Royal Marine from 40 Commando while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

British Female Medic and Royal Marine Killed in Afghanistan

A Royal Marine and a British female soldier have been shot dead while on patrol in Helmand province, bringing the UK’s military death toll during the Afghan conflict to 435.

Military officials said they were investigating the deaths amid conflicting reports of what had happened and “a very confusing picture on the ground”. The Marine, from 40 Commando, and the soldier, understood to be a woman aged 25 from 3 Medical Regiment, were initially believed to have been shot dead by Taliban insurgents while on patrol in Nahr-e Saraj district.

However there were other reports they may have been killed by an Afghan policeman or soldier in an insider attack. Meanwhile, an Afghan police official said that the deaths were believed to have been caused by friendly fire when a British unit fired on another in a case of mistaken identity. A spokesman for British troops in Helmand said the two “died from injuries sustained whilst on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district”. Their families have been informed.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Four Italian Soldiers Wounded in Afghanistan Gunfight

One Afghan soldier dead

(ANSA) — Rome, October 25 — Four Italian soldiers were wounded in a gunfight with insurgents in Afghanistan on Thursday. Reports said that one Afghan soldier was killed in the attack in the country’s western Farah province. The Italians’ injuries were not reportedly life-threatening.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italian Marines in India Say They Struggle to Keep Faith

Sailors they want to believe in God’s strength despite captivity

(ANSA) — Vatican City, October 25 — Two Italian marines held in India since shooting two fishermen last February said Thursday that they’re struggling to keep the faith.

“We want to continue to believe in Jesus,” marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone said in a letter read on Vatican Radio.

“We do not want to give up. We are unjustly held, but the two of us pray together to the God who loves His children, and loves those who are in pain”.

Their letter was read by military chaplain Monsignor Vincenzo Pelvi, who said it is “truly a demonstration of how faith is nourished by love”. The two Italian anti-pirate marines have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between Italy and India since being detained in February in the shooting deaths of two Indian fishermen.

They were granted bail in June, but must remain in Indian territory until their next hearing, set for November 8.

India’s Supreme Court has still not given its ruling on Italy’s petition that it should have jurisdiction over the case because the incident took place on an Italian ship.

The Italian government has stated 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.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Singapore Airlines to End World’s Longest Flights

The world’s longest commercial flight — Singapore to Newark, N.J. — is being cancelled.

Singapore Airlines announced Wednesday that it will end its nonstop flight between Singapore and Newark, a distance of about 9,500 miles. A slightly shorter route between Singapore and Los Angeles will also end. The two routes were flown on gas-guzzling Airbus A340-500s.

The airline found the only way to make the routes profitable was by configuring the plane with 98 business class seats that sell for about $8,000 roundtrip. Other airlines operate the same plane with about 250 seats in first, business and economy classes.

The flight from Newark, right outside New York, to Singapore takes about 18 hours. The trip from Los Angeles is about 1,500 miles shorter but takes 18 hours and 30 minutes.

Headwinds over the Pacific Ocean slow the Los Angeles flight while the Newark flight goes over the North Pole and can fly faster. The Newark flight is the longest distance flight in the world and the Los Angeles one holds the record for duration. The flights started in 2004.

The new titles for longest flights will go to a Qantas route between Sydney and Dallas — which at about 8,500 miles is the longest route — and a Delta flight between Johannesburg and Atlanta, which at 17 hours will hold the title of longest duration.

Singapore Airlines is selling its five A340-500s back to Airbus as part of a deal announced Wednesday. Singapore is ordering five more Airbus A380s and another 20 A350s. The planes have a list price of $7.5 billion but airlines often negotiate steep discounts for large orders. Deliveries are due to begin in 2017.

Singapore currently operates 19 A380-800 superjumbos. It already had firm orders in place for 20 A350s, for delivery starting in 2015.

The A340s currently used on the world’s longest flights will be retired by the end of 2013. Singapore will continue to serve New York on its existing A380 route which connects in Frankfurt. Los Angeles has existing A380 service via Tokyo, which will also continue.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Family of Prime Minister Holds a Hidden Fortune in China

Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives, some of whom have a knack for aggressive deal-making, including his wife, have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.

In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners. Untangling their financial holdings provides an unusually detailed look at how politically connected people have profited from being at the intersection of government and business as state influence and private wealth converge in China’s fast-growing economy.

[Return to headlines]

Muslims in NW China Celebrate Annual Corban Festival

XI’NING, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) — Muslims in northwest China’s Qinghai Province celebrated the annual Corban Festival on Thursday. Thousands of Muslims from the Hui, Salar and Dongxiang ethnic minority groups attended a religious ceremony Thursday morning at the Dongguan Mosque in Xining, the provincial capital. Haji, deputy director of the 900-year-old Dongguan Mosque’s administration committee, said at the ceremony that Muslims are praying for national prosperity and happiness within their own families. The festival, also known as Eid al-adha, is a major Islamic festival intended to demonstrate faith and obedience to Allah. The festival officially fell on Friday this year…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

GM Wheat May Permanently Alter Human Genome, Spark Early Death

Experts say that the GM wheat currently in development by an Australian governmental research agency could, if ingested, shut down certain genes, leading to premature death or risk thereof to multiple generations.

The GM wheat developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) using public funds is engineered to turn off genes permanently. The organization’s intent to turn off wheat genes, however, could affect human and animal genes.

“Through ingestion, these molecules can enter human beings and potentially silence our genes,” says Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury’s Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety. His report was published in Digital Journal.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Hostility to Muslims Greater in Sydney Than Melbourne

PUBLIC hostility towards Muslims is much greater in Sydney than Melbourne — by a factor of two to one — with immigrants far more dispersed across the Victorian capital, according to a major social survey. The findings show Sydney is home to a higher percentage of people born overseas than Melbourne, but they are typically poorer and concentrated in fewer suburbs than those in the southern state. The targets of racism in Australia have also changed — the Indian community is now most often singled out rather than the past focus on people of east Asian descent, despite official attempts in recent years to calm anger over a spate of attacks on Indian students. The stocktake of attitudes towards immigrants in Australia’s two largest cities offers a rare and fascinating insight into the community’s experience of a growing national population — up 3 million in the past decade, a figure that includes births as well as the migrant intake…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

African Union to Request UK Funding for Mali Offensive

Britain and fellow United Nations Security Council countries are likely to be asked to help bankroll an African force of 3,200 soldiers to fight Islamists in Mali, diplomats have said.

Details on the strength and scope of the mission were discussed at a closed-door meeting at the African Union on Wednesday night, when it was agreed to cancel Mali’s suspension from the bloc ahead of the expected offensive. The UN Security Council asked the AU to come up with a battle plan to oust radical Islamic militias from Mali’s north by the end of November. “We are working to finalise the joint planning for the early deployment of an African-led international military force to help Mali recover the occupied territories,” Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the AU Commission’s chairman, said at the meeting in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital and AU headquarters. “At the same time, we will leave the door of dialogue open to those Malian rebel groups willing to negotiate.” It is expected that the operation will begin in early 2013, one African diplomat with knowledge of the AU discussions told The Daily Telegraph. “The force will be something like 3,200 soldiers, from West Africa mostly, and we know that we will need help from our brothers and sisters in the West to pay for it,” she said on condition of anonymity…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Italy: Asylum-Seekers Attack Police Immigration Office in Naples

Naples, 25 Oct. (AKI) — A group of 30 North Africans on Thursday stormed a police immigration office in the southern city of Naples and attacked all the policemen inside after their political asylum requests were rejected.

Five of the asylum-seekers were detained after the attack in which ten policemen needed hospital treatment for their injuries and a police car was badly damaged.

The detained aslyum-seekers face charges of assault, grievous bodily harm, disruption of a public service and damage to a police vehicle.

The North Africans belong to a group of some 1,200 immigrants from the Maghreb whose political asylum applications were turned down.

Police believe the asylum-seekers carried out the attack in the hope of being arrested thus avoiding or deferring deportation.

They took advantage of the location of the immigration office which is not inside the Naples police headquarters and therefore less secure, police said.

All 30 North Africans have appealed the decisions on their asylum requests.

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

Spain: 14 African Migrants Found Dead at Sea, 17 Rescued After Their Boat Begins to Sink

Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service has found 14 bodies in the sea and rescued 17 people after a boat carrying migrants from Morocco began to sink in the Mediterranean.

Search operations are continuing because a rescue official told The Associated Press that one of the migrants said about 70 people had been on the boat. The official spoke under departmental rules of anonymity.

A Coast Guard plane spotted the boat Thursday afternoon following a tip-off that it had left Morocco and was heading to Spain. Those on the boat are believed to be from sub-Saharan Africa.

Each year thousands of suspected illegal immigrants from Africa try to reach Europe by setting sail in small, fragile boats.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: A Quarter of All Babies Born in the UK Are the Children of Immigrants as Mothers From Poland, India and Pakistan Give Birth in Record Numbers

There were 808,000 births in Britain last year, of which 196,000 were children born to non-UK born women — or 24 per cent of the total.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

CNN Removes Story About Women’s Hormones Affecting Voting

The article based on unpublished research was swiftly decried and mocked online

Following widespread ridicule, CNN has removed a story published online Wednesday about whether hormones could influence female voting choices.

The piece by Elizabeth Landau looked at unpublished research that suggested female voting behavior was affected by whether a woman was ovulating on Election Day, or as our own Jillian Rayfield put it Wednesday, whether “their lady parts might be doing the voting for them.” As Poynter noted Thursday, CNN has taken down the post an put up a notice stating that “after further review it was determined that some elements of the story did not meet the editorial standards of CNN.”

Poynter notes that CNN has not elaborated on which precise elements in Landau’s post fell short of their standards.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


United Nations Calls for Internet Big Brother System to Combat Terrorism

Under the rubric of combating international terrorism, the United Nations is calling for pervasive and widespread internet surveillance, Declan McCullagh reported on Monday.


The UN plan calls specifically for data retention by ISPs and providers that allow anonymous access to the internet, such as cyber cafes and open Wi-Fi networks.

“Requiring registration for the use of Wi-Fi networks or cybercafes could provide an important data source for criminal investigations,” the report states. “There is some doubt about the utility of targeting such measures at Internet cafes only when other forms of public Internet access (e.g. airports, libraries and public Wi-Fi hotspots) offer criminals (including terrorists) the same access opportunities and are unregulated.”

The United Nations also wants to institute cell phone location tracking, outlaw violent video games produced by “terrorist organizations,” and use tax payer money to reimburse ISPs (many that are transnational corporations) for the “cost of providing such capabilities.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]