Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121028

Financial Crisis
»Greece: Church Faces Cash Woes, Says Archbishop
»Greece: Athens Eyes Shipping Revenues
»Italian Church Calls for Tax Cuts for Squeezed Families
»Schaeuble: It’s Not Sure That Greece Will Stay in the Euro
»Analyst Fired in Latest Facebook IPO Scandal
»Bombshell: “My Sources Tell Me Obama Was in the Room Watching Benghazi Attack” Says Lt. Col Anthony Schaffer & More
»Is This Election Important?
»Obama Personifies Cloward-Piven Strategy
»Sandy and Storm Surge Pose ‘Worst Case Scenario’
»TV Show to Test Whether Innocent People Can be Turned Into Brainwashed Assassins
»Will American Voters Politically Hang Obama for Benghazi?
»B.C. Teen Arrested for Photographing Mall Takedown
Europe and the EU
»Britain Rejects US Request to Use UK Bases for Armageddon Nuclear Standoff With Iran
»Ferrari President Defends Italian Navy Flag Decision
»French Socialists Stall on Foreigners’ Right to Vote
»Harlem Désir, France’s First Black President?
»Italy: Away With ‘Political Thieves’, Say Young Industrialists
»Italy: Easyjet Rome-Milan Decision a ‘Milestone’ For Competition
»Italy: Scajola Probed in Finmeccanica Graft Case
»Italy: Online Newspapers Now Obliged to Correct False Information
»Italy: Monti Says Struggle Against Tax Evasion Just Beginning
»Jacques Barzun Dies at 104; Cultural Critic Saw the Sun Setting on the West
»UK: Lord Patten is the Last Man I’d Choose to Clean up the BBC
»UK: Police Overwhelmed by 4,000 ‘Petty Squabbles’ On Facebook and Twitter, With Three Arrests a Day for Offensive Messages
»UK: Pay More Tax to Drive on Motorway: Two-Tier System Could Mean Only Rich Motorists Use Fast Routes With Poorer Drivers Forced on to B-Roads
»UK: Tory Paedo Cover-Up
»UK: Teachers Arrested in Child Cruelty Probe: Headmistress Held Over Claims She Beat Children as Young as Five
»Croatia: Priest Steals 1.3 Million Euros and Runs Away With Girlfriend
North Africa
»Al-Qaida Leader Urges Kidnapping of Westerners
»Benghazi, Libya—Biopsy From a Malignant, Failed Presidency
»The Jihad and Christopher Stevens, Pt. 3
Middle East
»Saudi King Urges UN Action Against Religious Insults
»Turkey: Capacity Utilization in Manufacturing Industry Down
»A “New Stalinism”: Activist ‘Kidnapped’ In Kiev and Sentenced to Two Months
»Taliban’s Newest Recruits Train to Join the Burka Brigade
South Asia
»Terrorist’s Family Planning to Sue British Government for Helping to Murder Him in CIA Drone Strike
»Were British Soldiers Murdered in Afghan Police Revenge Attack? Mod Says Female Medic and Marine Were Not Killed by Friendly Fire
Far East
»Chinese Premier Family Threatens Legal Action Over NYT Report
»Officials in Chinese City Pledge to Halt Chemical Factory Expansion After Protests
»South Korea Says the North is Preparing a Huge Nuclear Weapons Test
Latin America
»Case of Blonde Girl Beggar Rescued From Streets Strikes Nerve in Mexico; Activists See Racism
»30m Bulgarians and Romanians Are Set to Gain Unrestricted Access to UK as EU Regulations Are Lifted
Culture Wars
»Italy: Forza Nuova Hangs Offensive Banner on LGBT Community Center

Financial Crisis

Greece: Church Faces Cash Woes, Says Archbishop

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, OCTOBER 25 — The Archbishop of Athens and all of Greece, Ieronymos, said on Wednesday that the Greek Church has suffered as a result of the government’s austerity measures and is not making as much money as some claim.

He also stated that the Church might be obliged to stop paying clerics’ salaries. Speaking on TV100 channel, the archbishop noted that about 300 of the Church’s employees could face dismissal if it is unable to pay their wages in two months’ time, as daily Kathimerini reports.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Athens Eyes Shipping Revenues

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, OCTOBER 26 — The new agreement between the Greek government and the country’s creditors provides for the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the former and merchant marine shipowners to secure some 200 million euros in extra state revenues for the period 2013 to 2016 through the payment of cargo tax, as daily Kathimerini reports. The head of the Hellenic Shipowners Association, Theodoros Veniamis, recently stated that Greek shippers understand the severity of Greece’s fiscal woes and are willing to contribute to the national effort via tax revenues that the country needs. The current law provides for Greek-flagged ships to be taxed according to their capacity, while companies with ships under foreign flags are not taxed as their profits come from activities outside Greece. Shipowners have also expressed their intention to strengthen the national register with more ships, provided that the Merchant Marine and Aegean Ministry accelerates the procedures for reducing bureaucracy in registering ships and makes moves to bolster the competitiveness of the Greek flag.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italian Church Calls for Tax Cuts for Squeezed Families

Not right to ask for more sacrifices, say bishops

(ANSA) — Rome, October 24 — The Catholic Church said on Wednesday that the government should be trying to reduce the tax burden of Italian families rather than squeezing them harder with more austerity.

Premier Mario Monti’s tax hikes and spending cuts have eased the threat of Italy following Greece on the path towards default but they have also deepened the recession the country slipped into last year.

A new budget bill that is going through parliament will see value added tax rise by 1% next year if it is approved, while income tax will be lowered in the two lowest bands and there will be more cuts to health and education.

“It is not right nor sufficient to demand further sacrifices from families who, on the contrary, need policies of support, including those that move in the direction of lightening the tax burden,” the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) said in its message for the 35th national ‘day for life’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Schaeuble: It’s Not Sure That Greece Will Stay in the Euro

(AGI) Berlin, Oct. 27 — It’s not yet sure that Greece will stay in the Euro. The statement was made by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (CDU) in an interview on the ZDF Public Service TV show “The battle for the Euro” that will be aired next Tuesday. “We want Greece to be able to stay in the euro zone. But Greece has a lot to do”, the Minister affirmed.

According to Schaeuble, “doubts persist as to whether Greece has been able to meet its obligations. These doubts have to be dispelled from now on”.

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


Analyst Fired in Latest Facebook IPO Scandal

Thanks to a blog leak, the Facebook IPO is an even bigger disaster than previously believed.

Financial leviathan Citigroup fired star analyst Mark Mahaney over leaking confidential Facebook IPO research to TechCrunch and private YouTube forecasts to a French financial magazine, Capital. The leaks were flagged by the Massachusetts Securities Division, the state’s financial regulator, which today issued a consent order (.pdf) and fined Citi $2 million for the disclosures.

In falling casualty to the Facebook IPO, Citigroup joins lead underwriter Morgan Stanley, Facebook itself, and the Nasdaq exchange, all of whom have seen their reputations tarnished as a result of the bungled stock debut this past May. Thanks to aggressive pricing, last-minute disclosures, trading failures, and other issues, the Facebook IPO has become a sort of case study on how not to handle a large securities offering.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Bombshell: “My Sources Tell Me Obama Was in the Room Watching Benghazi Attack” Says Lt. Col Anthony Schaffer & More

“In the closest factual response to ‘Did Obama watch the Benghazi attack, and was he the bottom line in denying help to our forces on the ground?’ Lt Anthony Schaffer reported a resounding ‘Yes’ to this question on FOX’s ‘Justice with Judge Jeanine’. Lt. Anthony Schaffer reports that ‘his sources on the ground’ report not only was Obama watching the developments in Benghazi, but Obama is the one who would have told Panetta to ‘stand down’ and also—and here is the key, Obama would have also been the one to deny Tyrone Woods’ pleas for help as he courageously made his stand in service to the United States of America.

“We know Woods had ‘laser locked’ the position of the mortars that eventually claimed his life sometime on September 11-12 2012. Its time we hear directly from the President, the American people deserve to know exactly why it is that Obama made the political decision to leave our men alone to fend for themselves—no doubt this was Tyrone Woods last thoughts—’why didn’t they come to help me?’

“Sources who were on the ground in Benghazi during the attack on the US consulate tell Fox News that CIA operatives twice asked for permission to help Ambassador Chris Stevens and his staff, and twice were told to ‘stand down’ — while a later request for military backup was denied.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Is This Election Important?

I would like to address the importance of this November’s general election. I will admit that we have heard the political pundits make that same statement in the last half dozen election but the truth is each election is the most important of our day. We have seen the nation slip to the left little by little for so long believing that America would never fall that we have come to a point where it won’t take much time or executive orders to render the American experience finished.

I personally have seen this nation go from having the Ten Commandments hanging in our school classrooms to arresting our children who are ‘caught’ reading the Bible during study hall. But in Minnesota during teachers conferences the teachers will learn how to teach islam! Read about it here.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Personifies Cloward-Piven Strategy

Barack Hussein Obama is no fool. He is not incompetent. On the contrary, he is brilliant. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He is purposely overwhelming the U.S. economy to create systemic failure, economic crisis and social chaos thereby destroying capitalism and our country from within. Barack Hussein Obama was my college classmate.(Columbia University, class of ‘83)

He is a devout Muslim; do not be fooled. Look at his czars… Anti-business anti-American. As Glenn Beck correctly predicted from day one, Barack Hussein Obama is following the plan of Cloward & Piven, two professors at Columbia University… they outlined a plan to socialize America by overwhelming the system with government spending and entitlement demands.

Add up the clues below. Taken individually they’re alarming. Taken as a whole, it is a brilliant, Machiavellian game plan to turn the United States into a Socialist/Marxist state with a permanent majority that desperately needs government for survival… And can be counted on to always vote for even bigger government. Why not? They have no responsibility to pay for it.

[Return to headlines]

Sandy and Storm Surge Pose ‘Worst Case Scenario’

KENSINGTON, Md. (AP) — The projected storm surge from Hurricane Sandy is a “worst case scenario” with devastating waves and tides predicted for the highly populated New York City metro area, government forecasters said Sunday.

The more they observe it, the more the experts worry about the water — which usually kills and does more damage than winds in hurricanes.

In this case, seas will be amped up by giant waves and full-moon-powered high tides. That will combine with drenching rains, triggering inland flooding as the hurricane merges with a winter storm system that will worsen it and hold it in place for days.

Louis Uccellini, environmental prediction chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press that given Sandy’s due east-to-west track into New Jersey, that puts the worst of the storm surge just north in New York City, Long Island and northern New Jersey. “Yes, this is the worst case scenario,” he said.

In a measurement of pure kinetic energy, NOAA’s hurricane research division on Sunday ranked the surge and wave “destruction potential” for Sandy — just the hurricane, not the hybrid storm it will eventually become — at 5.8 on a 0 to 6 scale. The damage expected from winds will be far less, experts said. Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters says that surge destruction potential number is a record and it’s due to the storm’s massive size.

“You have a lot of wind acting over a long distance of water for hundreds of miles” and that piles the storm surge up when it finally comes ashore, Masters said. Even though it doesn’t pack much power in maximum wind speed, the tremendous size of Sandy — more than 1,000 miles across with tropical storm force winds — adds to the pummelling power when it comes ashore, he said.

The storm surge energy numbers are bigger than the deadly 2005 Hurricane Katrina, but that can be misleading. Katrina’s destruction was concentrated in a small area, making it much worse, Masters said. Sandy’s storm surge energy is spread over a wider area. Also, Katrina hit a city that is below sea level and had problems with levees.

National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb said Hurricane Sandy’s size means some coastal parts of New York and New Jersey may see water rise from 6 to 11 feet from surge and waves. The rest of the coast north of Virginia can expect 4 to 8 feet of surge.

The full moon Monday will add 2 to 3 inches to the storm surge in New York, Masters said.

“If the forecasts hold true in terms of the amount of rainfall and the amount of coastal flooding, that’s going to be what drives up the losses and that’s what’s going to hurt,” said Susan Cutter, director of the hazards and vulnerability research institute at the University of South Carolina.

Cutter said she worries about coastal infrastructure, especially the New York subways, which were shutting down Sunday night.

Klaus Jacob, a Columbia University researcher who has advised the city on coastal risks, said, “We have to prepare to the extent we can, but I’m afraid that from a subway point of view, I think it’s beyond sheer preparations. I do not think that there’s enough emergency measures that will help prevent the subway from flooding.”

Knabb said millions of people may be harmed by inland flooding.

[Return to headlines]

TV Show to Test Whether Innocent People Can be Turned Into Brainwashed Assassins

A television programme is out to test whether innocent people can be brainwashed in becoming unwitting assassins as in the plot of political thriller The Manchurian Candidate.

In the 1959 novel, a man is brainwashed into becoming an unwitting sleeper assassin as part of a Communist conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government.

The novel and its film adaptations have intrigued many, and related conspiracy theories have long-held that the U.S. government and others have tried to develop techniques to control the minds of individuals.

Scroll down for video

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Will American Voters Politically Hang Obama for Benghazi?

Yes, Obamanomics are horrific! — No, it’s not just the economy this time stupid. What the Obama administration have done to intentionally destroy the U.S. economy is cause enough for a political hanging of everyone in the Obama administration. The people responsible for driving our nation’s debt up more than 60% in less than four years, while decimating jobs and forcing a record number of Americans onto federal assistance, demands a short rope swinging from the political tree.

  • Unemployment still in double digits and worsening
  • 80% of college grads cannot find work in chosen profession
  • Over 40% of Americans now on federal assistance (an all-time high)
  • National debt UP 60% since taking office (over $16 trillion)
  • An 84% failure rate on “green” taxpayer investments that most taxpayers opposed
  • Average American income DOWN over $4000 per year
  • Home values still DOWN more than 30% nationally
  • Businesses are closing and investors are leaving America
  • Obama has sent more jobs overseas than all of the last five presidents combined
  • Cost of gas UP 137%
  • Cost of potatoes UP 306%
  • Cost of butter and coffee UP more than 150%
  • Beef, milk and flour UP more than 100%
  • Eggs and rice UP over 70%

And that is the good news… The economic terrorism waged on the American people by the Obama administration is nothing when compared to the national security threat this administration represents.

Benghazi is important not only because we lost four Americans there, an Ambassador, his aide and two SEALS, all of whom died needlessly. It is important because Benghazi is a microcosm into the broader Obama-Clinton foreign policy.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


B.C. Teen Arrested for Photographing Mall Takedown

A B.C. teen who aspires to be a journalist says his rights were violated when he was set upon by security guards and then arrested by police after photographing an incident at Metrotown shopping mall in Burnaby, B.C.

Jakub Markiewicz, 16, said he was in the mall in September and took a picture of what he thought was a newsworthy event — a man being arrested by security guards.

But Markiewicz said the guards quickly turned on him, demanding he delete the photo, which he couldn’t do because he was shooting on a film camera.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Britain Rejects US Request to Use UK Bases for Armageddon Nuclear Standoff With Iran

Britain has rebuffed US pleas to use military bases in the UK to support the build-up of forces in the Gulf, citing secret legal advice which states that any pre-emptive strike on Iran could be in breach of international law. The Guardian has been told that US diplomats have also lobbied for the use of British bases in Cyprus, and for permission to fly from US bases on Ascension Island in the Atlantic and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, both of which are British territories. The US approaches are part of contingency planning over the nuclear standoff with Tehran, but British ministers have so far reacted coolly. They have pointed US officials to legal advice drafted by the attorney general’s office which has been circulated to Downing Street, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Ferrari President Defends Italian Navy Flag Decision

Contribution to dialogue, says Montezemolo

(ANSA) — Maranello, October 26 — Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo on Friday defended the team’s decision to display the Italian Navy flag on its race cars at this weekend’s Indian Grand Prix in solidarity with two Italian marines on trial in India over the shooting deaths of two local fishermen. “We only want to make a small contribution, with great respect for the Indian authorities, so that a solution might be found through dialogue,” he said in the wake of criticism from the Indian government, media and fishing community. Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are accused of homicide after allegedly mistaking the two Indian fishermen for pirates during an anti-piracy mission off the coast of Kerala in southern India in February. The shooting triggered a diplomatic row between Italy and India.

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.

Earlier in the day Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone said that sport has nothing to do with “political” matters.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

French Socialists Stall on Foreigners’ Right to Vote

Newly-elected Socialist Party leader Harlem Désir roused the Socialist Party conference in Toulouse on Saturday when he pledged not to forget François Hollande’s election promise to grant foreign residents the right to vote in local elections. “It’s a question of Republican fraternity, equality and dignity,” he said, promising a commitment from his party to fight for the rights of foreigners. But not all of his fellow Socialists seem to be in agreement.

The bill, which has faced decades of opposition from the conservative UMP party, was supposed to have been introduced in time for France’s municipal elections in 2014. But six months into power, the Socialist Party has failed to rally the numbers in parliament necessary to adopt it, with some high-profile Socialists suggesting that it is not a priority.

Former Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry said Sunday that while “it would be with great sadness not to have this law introduced by 2014, the French people need to know that our greatest priority is employment”. […]

           — Hat tip: LH[Return to headlines]

Harlem Désir, France’s First Black President?

Members of France’s ruling Socialist Party overwhelmingly picked Harlem Désir as party chief during the group’s congress in the southwest city of Toulouse on Thursday. The vote made Désir the first black man to lead a major political party in France, placing him on a political fast track to the French presidency.

The outcome of the vote came as no surprise. Désir, 52, has served as interim party chief ever since Lille city mayor Martine Aubry stepped down in June 2011 to take part in presidential primaries. Aubry resigned from her post last month, all but naming Désir as her successor.

As the new Socialist Party boss, Harlem Désir is the first black politician to lead a major French party. While there is no guarantee the Socialist Party (PS) will also pick Désir as a presidential nominee one day, recent history suggests he can now aspire to the country’s top job.

French President François Hollande was the leader of the PS from 1997 to 2008, and François Mitterrand — the only other Socialist president in recent history — was party chief from 1971 to 1981. […] The son of a black father from the French overseas department of Martinique and a white mother from Alsace, near the German border, Harlem Jean-Philippe Désir was born in Paris in 1959. He rose to national prominence in the 1980s as one of the hip young leaders of the popular backlash against the then-surging far-right National Front. A philosopher by training, the activist Désir would go on to lead prominent racism watchdog SOS Racisme. […] There have also been bumps in Desir’s promising path to power, and if he ever makes a bid for the presidency he will have to answer for past mistakes. In 1998, he was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay more than 4,500 euros for collecting a paycheck for a non-existent job.

He also owed the French treasury around 12,000 euros in traffic fines before Mitterrand granted him an amnesty in 1992.

Désir has also earned criticism for progressively shedding his political convictions and outspoken character to mould himself into an unquestioning subordinate of the party.

He is often further derided for his prepared statements and a lack of sincerity when answering questions by the French press, who bestowed him with the unbecoming “mealy-mouthed” award during a PS gathering in La Rochelle in August.

“You can’t become the first secretary of the Socialist Party without making some sacrifices,” Malek Boutih, another former president of SOS Racisme, told FRANCE 24. “If Désir said everything he thought, he would never be where he is today.” […]

           — Hat tip: LH[Return to headlines]

Italy: Away With ‘Political Thieves’, Say Young Industrialists

Leader Morelli calls for change, lower taxes

(ANSA) — Capri (Naples), October 26 — Italy’s young entrepreneurs are no longer prepared to tolerate what they see as ignorance and theft among the country’s politicians, Jacopo Morelli, president of industrialists’ association Confindustria’s Young Businessmen said on Friday.

“Away with the thieves, the ignorant and the incapable,” he told a gathering of young industrialists on the island of Capri. “We are disgusted by the idea of public office as a shortcut for getting rich, we rebel against this decay,” continued Morelli, adding that the “parasitic classes” continue to “erode public money even as 2,000 people ae losing their jobs every day”. “We have the right to a change,” he said.

Italy has been hit by a raft of graft scandals in regional governments including Lazio, Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Campania, Molise and Sicily. The young leader also spoke out against the tax burden on businesses, which he said would exceed 68% in 2012. The government “has recognised that Italians are showing a great sense of responsibility by accepting drastic and unpopular measures,” said Morelli. “If this is true, then there is a moral obligation to restore faith in the country immediately by substantially lowering tax pressure on workers and businesses that reinvest,” he concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Easyjet Rome-Milan Decision a ‘Milestone’ For Competition

Carrier looks forward to welcoming passengers on key route

(ANSA) — Rome, October 26 — Low-cost airline EasyJet on Friday hailed a decision by the Italian competition authority AGCM to award it the rights to fly on the key route between Rome and Milan, describing its as a “milestone” for the free market. Until now Italy’s flagship carrier Alitalia has had the monopoly on services between the country’s political capital and its financial and economic centre.

“EasyJet is proud to have obtained the rights to operate on the Milan Linate- Rome-Fiumicino route,” said Italy country director Frances Ouseley.

“This decision represents a milestone for the free market as it favours customers first and foremost,” she continued. “EasyJet has proved again and again that entering a new market means bringing in competition, lowering fares and enabling more people to travel on the route. We look forward to welcoming passengers onboard when we start to operate”.

The decision to award the low-cost carrier rights on the Rome-Milan route comes after ACGM found there to be “a lack of proper competition between rail and air transport” and that Alitalia was running a monopoly.

The authority ordered the Italian flag carrier to give up seven of its slots.

EasyJet has said it will operate five services a day between the two airports from early 2013.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Scajola Probed in Finmeccanica Graft Case

Ex-Berlusconi industry minister linked to Brazil contracts

(ANSA) — Rome, October 23 — Italy’s former industry minister Claudio Scajola was placed under a graft investigation Tuesday for his role in Italian defence giant Finmeccanica’s supply contracts to Brazil. “I reiterate that with respect to my responsibilities as industry minister, I traveled the world always respecting the laws and the rules,” Scajola told Italian television. Earlier in the day a senior manager of the State-controlled defence group was arrested in connection with investigations into the supply of helicopters and weapons to Panama. Former commercial director Paolo Pozzessere, currently Finmeccanica’s senior advisor for relations with Russia, was arrested on suspicion of international corruption in relation to deliveries made by three Finmeccanica subsidiaries, AgustaWestland, Selex and Telespazio, to the Panama government under agreements with the Italian State.

Finmeccanica is 30%-owned by the Italian government. Scajola, who served under ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, is suspected of involvement in corrupt deals involving the supply of naval frigates to Brazil. “I always conducted these duties in the light of day and in official meetings,” he said. “I have never had private encounters. I am at ease 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”. The investigations come as Finmeccanica and its CEO Giuseppe Orsi find themselves at the centre of controversy over an alleged kickback scheme connected to a 560-million-euro contract involving the sale in 2010 of 12 helicopters by AgustaWestland to the Indian government. Orsi has denied any wrongdoing and said he would only resign his post if asked to do so by the Italian government. The CEO has also denied any wrongdoing in an investigation that began earlier this year into the alleged payment of bribes to political parties.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Online Newspapers Now Obliged to Correct False Information

(AGI) Rome, Oct. 25 — The Mugnai (PDL) Senate amendment to the defamation bill establishes it is not only newspapers that have an obligation to correct misleading information, but also “publishing products distributed electronically, regularly and under a masthead.” In practice, this covers all web publications and not just the online editions of printed newspapers.

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

Italy: Monti Says Struggle Against Tax Evasion Just Beginning

(AGI) Rome, Oct. 24 — Regarding tax evasion, Prime Minister Mario Monti — speaking at the presentation of Bruno Tabacci’s book ‘Pensiero Libero’ — said, “we are still far from reaching our goal”. Monti said that the “policies against tax evasion are a barrier, holding off the erosion of the soil on which the country stands: it’s not just a judicial issue, but something that undermines society from its very roots, that jeopardises the trust between society and state”. However, Monti added, “we are still far from reaching our goal”.

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

Jacques Barzun Dies at 104; Cultural Critic Saw the Sun Setting on the West

Jacques Barzun, the distinguished historian, essayist, cultural gadfly and educator who helped establish the modern discipline of cultural history and came to see the West as sliding toward decadence, died Thursday night in San Antonio, where he lived. He was 104. […] Mr. Barzun was a man of boundless curiosity, monumental productivity and manifold interests, encompassing both Berlioz and baseball. It was a life of the mind first cultivated more than a century ago in a childhood home outside Paris that became an avant-garde salon.

Mr. Barzun stood beside Sidney Hook, Daniel Bell and Lionel Trilling as among the mid-20th century’s most wide-ranging scholars, all of whom tried to reconcile the achievements of European culture and philosophy with the demands and tastes of American intellectual and cultural life.

He wrote dozens of books across many decades, demonstrating that old age did not necessarily mean intellectual decline. He published his most ambitious and encyclopedic book at the age of 92 (and credited his productivity in part to chronic insomnia). That work, “From Dawn to Decadence,” is an 877-page survey of 500 years of Western culture in which he argued that Western civilization itself had entered a period of decline. […] In his 2000 book, “From Dawn to Decadence,” he argued that one of the great virtues of the West was its character as a “mongrel civilization”: over the course of its development, it was resiliently constructed out of dozens of national cultures.

He traced periods of rise and fall in the Western saga, and contended that another fall was near — one that could cause “the liquidation of 500 years of civilization.” This time the decline would be caused not by scientism and absolutism, he maintained, but by an internal crisis in the civilization itself, which he believed had come to celebrate nihilism and rebellion.

And yet, in the cycles of history, he believed another renewal would come.

“It is only in the shadows,” he wrote, “when some fresh wave, truly original, truly creative, breaks upon the shore, that there will be a rediscovery of the West.”

           — Hat tip: LH[Return to headlines]

UK: Lord Patten is the Last Man I’d Choose to Clean up the BBC

As the BBC was last week engulfed in what its chairman, Lord Patten, called “a tsunami of filth”, some observers widened out our attention to the peculiar role played at the head of the BBC’s affairs by Lord Patten himself.

Under the headline “Patten personifies everything that’s wrong with the BBC elite”, the Telegraph’s Peter Oborne trenchantly observed how “the BBC in recent years has been colonised and captured by a narrow, greedy, self-interested and self-perpetuating liberal elite, contemptuous of ordinary people and of ordinary morality”. In other words, the unspeakable Savile affair is a symptom of a deeper corruption that has pervaded the BBC for years.

Apart from a desire to award each other grotesquely inflated salaries, one of this elite’s most alarming traits has been the contempt they show for the BBC’s legal duty, under its Charter, to report on the world with “due accuracy and impartiality”. There is an ever-longer list of issues on which the BBC has a clear “party line”, which it pushes with shameless disregard for balance.

A year ago, I published a report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation on the consequences of a deliberate decision by the BBC’s top brass in 2006 to throw all its prestige into propaganda for climate-change alarmism. Equally blatant, a few years earlier, was a campaign, through its news programmes, for Britain to join the euro — which looks even more deluded now than it did at the time.

The man, above all, with a legal duty to ensure that the BBC meets its Charter obligations is Lord Patten, as chairman of the BBC Trust. Yet on these issues, as on many others, his views and those of the self-important mediocrities making up the BBC hierarchy are indistinguishable.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Overwhelmed by 4,000 ‘Petty Squabbles’ On Facebook and Twitter, With Three Arrests a Day for Offensive Messages

Police forces across Britain are being forced to deal with petty squabbles on Facebook, Twitter and other social network sites every day when they could be tackling more serious crimes.

Officers say they are wasting valuable time and resources tackling internet users directing abuse at each other.

In most cases, police simply tell victims to delete their tormentors from their networks, but the Crown Prosecution Service says a ‘few dozen’ more serious incidents have led to court, with the figure growing rapidly in recent months.

New figures obtained by The Mail on Sunday show that at least three arrests are being made every day for sending offensive messages via phones and computers, including people harassing ex-partners by text message and making hoax threats as well as comments on social media.

An officer from Essex who asked not to be named said: ‘I dread to think how many hours are spent on Facebook jobs. If you don’t do at least one a day it’s been a very quiet day.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Pay More Tax to Drive on Motorway: Two-Tier System Could Mean Only Rich Motorists Use Fast Routes With Poorer Drivers Forced on to B-Roads

Drivers would pay higher road tax for using motorways under a plan being considered by ministers.

The radical idea is being considered as the Treasury faces a budget shortfall caused by families switching to cars that incur lower road tax.

Two rates of road tax would apply — a lower tier for users of small roads and a higher charge for those driving on motorways and other major routes. Spy cameras would catch any drivers using the trunk roads without having paid up.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Tory Paedo Cover-Up

POLICE probing an underage sex ring at the heart of Maggie Thatcher’s government were warned: “Stop investigating if you want to keep your jobs.”

Officers in London were inquiring into allegations made by a teenage rent boy that a Cabinet minister had been abusing him.

The youth claimed to be one of a number of boys regularly having sex with rich and powerful men in the 1980s — some of whom would fly to the illegal orgies from Europe.

As well as the Cabinet minister — who is still alive — he pointed the finger at judges, European bigwigs and senior civil servants.

He told his story to detectives, who are understood to have received other allegations against the minister.

But a former detective who worked on the case revealed they were suddenly told to halt the probe.

The furious ex-policeman said: “It wasn’t that we ran out of leads but it reached a point where a warning to stop came.

“It was a case of ‘get rid of everything, never say a word to anyone’. It was made very clear to me that to continue asking questions would jeopardise my career.”

The accused top Tory was never arrested and no one was ever charged over the rent-boy ring.

The vulnerable teen who spoke to detectives vanished just weeks after blowing the whistle.

A “network” of boys, including runaways, were used — many of whom were said to have been recruited around the then notorious rent-boy haunt of Leicester Square.

Some of the VIPs were said to have flown in via RAF Northolt on the outskirts of London.

One boy told police wealthy men from Belgium attended the parties, which were described as “high class” and featured top-notch food and booze.

The detective said the whistleblower was petrified about the repercussions.

Last week Labour MP Tom Watson said he had been told of evidence linking another child sex ring to Parliament and Downing Street.

He said case files from 20 years ago involving convicted paedophile Peter Righton contained evidence of links to Number 10.

He said there was “clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring”, adding: “One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Teachers Arrested in Child Cruelty Probe: Headmistress Held Over Claims She Beat Children as Young as Five

A headmistress and three teachers have been arrested over claims they beat pupils aged just five.

Rally Ikiebe, 49, known as ‘matron’, allegedly slapped, punched and applied Chinese burns to children in her care.

Also accused over the offences, which alledgedly took place at the £8,000-a-year Chrysolyte Independent Christian School in Southwark, South London, are her husband Joseph, 54, Adenike Amee, 33, and Olasumba Baruwa, 48.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Croatia: Priest Steals 1.3 Million Euros and Runs Away With Girlfriend

Zagreb, 17 Oct. (AKI) — The Croatian Catholic church on Wednesday found itself mired in a scandal involving a young priest who allegedly stole 1.3 million euros of church funds and ran away with a young girl.

Local media reported that the priest, Sime Nimac, in the Adriatic town of Baska voda sold 40,000 square metres of church property, then withdrew the money from the bank before vanishing.

Nimac, 34, was reported to have absconded with a female banker and his whereabouts were unknown. As police opened an investigation, church officials issued a public apology over the incident, which they ascribed to “the insatiable egoism of an individual”.

But Zagreb daily Jutarnji list said in an editorial on Wednesday that the problem wasn’t just Nimac but also a lack of transparency in the heavily state-subsidised church and its finances.

Media reports said Nimac drove an expensive car, wore designer clothes and was adored by the women of his parish.

“If he did steal the church’s money, it is a cathastrophe in a human and religious sense,” a local resident was quoted as saying.

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

North Africa

Al-Qaida Leader Urges Kidnapping of Westerners

The leader of al-Qaida has called on Muslims to kidnap Westerners to exchange for imprisoned jihadists. Ayman Al-Zawahri also urged support for Syria’s uprising and called for the implementation of Islamic Shariah law in Egypt. In an undated two-hour videotape posted this week on militant forums, the Egyptian-born jihadist said that abducting nationals of “countries waging wars on Muslims” is the only way to free “our captives, and Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman,” the Egyptian cleric serving a life sentence in U.S. prisons for his masterminding of 1993 bombings in New York City.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Benghazi, Libya—Biopsy From a Malignant, Failed Presidency

Whatever happened to Barack the world’s smartest leader and incomparable statesman? Those days are gone forever. Instead, it would be impossible to catalog the staggering list of ill-advised, mistaken, foolish, naive and utterly inane decisions by Obama and his administration. So, instead—let us use a single Obama catastrophe, the events of Libya—to critique and symbolize his failed tenure. This is reasonable because every bad Barack habit and evil instinct is represented in this new American disaster.

In the November 2012 presidential election, America is given an opportunity almost no other country suffering under tyranny is offered—the chance to wake-up and toss out a despot before he fatally damages our noble Republic. Let us pray Americans will cast aside sentimentality and act as true patriots and save America from a crafty and utterly immoral, power-mad demagogue. For if Libya is not a wake up call for the average American, we may not be able to stop the implosion. But we must believe we can halt the rot if we act now.


After much WH disinformation, we now know a great deal of damning information about what actually happened (key video): The fight raged for 7 hours; the WH knew there was no video protest; Ambassador Stevens asked repeatedly for more security, including the day of the attack; the WH had a live feed for 5 hours of the firefight; there was a CIA safe house 1 mile down the road; A nearby US base was 480 miles away—Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily, Italy; Former Navy SEALS at the nearby (1 mile) CIA annex asked three times if they could help Stevens and were told repeatedly to “stand down”; several agents finally volunteered to aid Stevens and ended up dying; that a Delta Force Team, designated a secret tier-one counter-terrorism team, was at Sigonella, at most 2 hours away; a US Military AC-130h-Specter Gunship was already in Benghazi but not sent to rescue Stevens (gunships mission: “close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance”); that a strike was organized, the terrorists located, but the mission canceled when Barack did not have the nerve to pull the trigger.[urls]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Jihad and Christopher Stevens, Pt. 3

by Diana West

In the last installment, I examined cables written by Christopher Stevens in 2008 (and available courtesy Wikileaks) that seem to capture a significant trend in his thinking, and, perhaps the thinking of others in the US government, which may have helped drive the evolution of the disastrous US “Arab Spring” policy that put Uncle Sam in alliance with al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and other groups driving the spread of sharia (Islamic law).

This trend appears as Stevens learned how to explain — how to rationalize, really — the jihad corridor that eastern Libyans in particular followed to fight Americans in Iraq. While the Washington Post today quite narrowly (ignorantly) tells readers that Derna sent more jihadists to Iraq “during the U.S. occupation [sic] than any other place in Libya,” the larger truth is that eastern Libya, led by Derna and Benghazi, sent more jihadists to kill and maim Americans — whose Iraq “occupation,” by the way, included fighting AQ, preventing Sunni-Shiite civil war and “nation-building” all at the same time — per capita than any place in the world. And, as discussed in Part 2, the citizenry is extremely proud of this ultimate anti-American fact.

The explanation, to Stevens, had little to do with an Islamic culture well-primed to heed the age-old Islamic call to jihad. Citing the poverty, boredom and Al Jazeera (as though poverty, boredom and Al Jazeera would inexorably lead all people everywhere to strap bombs to their bodies and kill Americans while yelling Allahu Akbar), Stevens passed along the rationale of a source who described the men of the region as engaging in “extremism in the name of religion” — never, ever mind the “extremism” of the “religion” itself as reinforced by the pride the local culture took according to these same cables, in such “extremism.”

This pride, however, still bothered Stevens, who wrote: “The most troubling and difficult aspect of [redacted’s] account is the pride that many eastern Libyans … appear to take in the role their native sons have played in the insurgency in Iraq.”

What did Stevens mean by “difficult”? What obstace to what path did he have in mind?…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Saudi King Urges UN Action Against Religious Insults

AFP — Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on Saturday demanded a UN resolution condemning insults on monotheistic religions after a low-budget film produced in the US sparked deadly protests last month.

“I demand a UN resolution that condemns any country or group that insults religions and prophets,” he said during a meeting at his palace with religious figures and heads of hajj delegations in the Mina valley where pilgrims were performing final rituals of hajj.

“It is our duty and that of every Muslim to protect Islam and defend the prophets.”

A low-budget film produced in the US, Innocence of Muslims, triggered a wave of deadly anti-American violence last month across the Muslim world targeting US symbols ranging from embassies and schools to fast food chains.

Saudi Arabia had threatened to block YouTube in the kingdom if Google did not respond to a request to deny access to the video footage of the film. YouTube then extended its restrictions on the video to Saudi Arabia.

The king also called on Saturday for the “unity of the Islamic nation (and) rejecting division to face the nation’s enemies” as he urged for dialogue among Muslims.

“Dialogue strengthens moderation and ends reasons of conflict and extremism,” he said.

“The interconfessional dialogue centre which we had announced in Mecca does not necessarily mean reaching agreements on the matters of belief, but it aims at reaching solutions to divisions and implementing co-existance among sects,” he added.

The Saudi monarch proposed in August setting up a centre for dialogue between Muslim confessions in Riyadh.

[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Capacity Utilization in Manufacturing Industry Down

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, OCTOBER 23 — Capacity utilization rate in Turkey’s manufacturing industry decreased 2.1 points to 74.9% in October 2012 when compared to same month a year earlier, Anatolia news agency reports. The Turkish Central Bank stated on Tuesday that capacity utilization rate in manufacturing industry was 77% in October 2011. The figure was up by 0.3 point over September 2012.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


A “New Stalinism”: Activist ‘Kidnapped’ In Kiev and Sentenced to Two Months

Leonid Razvozzhaev, a member of the Left Front, the radical movement targeted by authorities after a pro-Kremlin TV broadcast a documentary in which they accused the opposition of planning a coup. Human rights defenders denounce: Stalin-style repression.

Moscow (AsiaNews) — After having fled to Ukraine seeking political asylum, a Russian opposition activist has been arrested in Kiev, brought to Moscow on a private jet and sentenced in the absence of his lawyers to two months in prison on charges of “ organization of mass disorder” intent on overthrowing power in Russia. The operation against Leonid Razvozzhaev, a member of the Left Front (the most radical fringe of the opposition to Vladimir Putin) immediately provoked comparisons to KGB methods, and comes as part of a wider investigation initiated by the authorities against activists at the forefront of anti-government demonstrations last year.

Razvozzhaev had been indicted in absentia for “organizing mass disorder” after the “Anatomy of a protest-2” documentary, broadcast by pro-Kremlin NTV October 5, which portrayed him and his companions engaged in the preparation of a coup in Russia with the help of lenders in Georgia and Great Britain.

The information contained in the controversial film — which uses recordings with hidden cameras — has led authorities to officially open an investigation on 17 October. Konstantin Lebedev, a prominent figure of the Left Front, was sentenced to two months in prison on the same charges of Razvozzhaev, while the leader of the movement, Sergei Udaltsov, was questioned for hours and then released, but with a ban on leaving the country. The incident has triggered a protest of human rights defenders, who immediately spoke of “ Stalin-style repression “ with searches in the middle of the night in the homes of the accused and their relatives.

“Razvozzhaev was taken to court in Moscow Basmanny not by police, but by men in civilian clothes, probably FSB agents” (Russian secret services, heirs to the KGB), a source close to ‘ activist told the online newspaper Ilya Ponomarev, a member of A Just Russia party and who had hired Razvozzhaev as her aide, said that the transfer from Kiev took place on a private jet. The lawyer Violetta Volkova, told the news agency Itar-Tass that the decision on the arrest of his client was taken by judges “behind closed doors”, without even allowing the presence of lawyers.

Officially ended in the federal list of most wanted October 19, Razvozzhaev, according to some colleagues, went to Ukraine to seek asylum, but he did not have time. On social networks and blogs, the case has raised a storm of controversy. Against the Kremlin, that the judicial and legislative bodies apparently engaged in a real “campaign of repression” of dissent, according to parliamentarian Gennady Gudkov, but also against Ukraine, which handed Razvozzhaev back to Moscow. On his Facebook page, the political scientist Gleb Pavlosky writes: “This is bad for Razvozzhaev. Kiev is not a place for refugees. Nadezhda Mandelstam had already advised us not to try the Ukrainian defense.” The reference is to the wife of the poet Osip Mandelstam, a victim of Stalin’s purges.

Meanwhile, the most wanted list in the investigation seems destined to grow. According to the newspaper Kommersant, the investigators are already on the trail of Konstantin Kosyakin, another member of the Left Front. If brought to trial and convicted, the activist faces up to 10 years in prison.

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


Taliban’s Newest Recruits Train to Join the Burka Brigade

Burkha-clad women are being trained to fight by terrorists in the volatile Russian Republic of Chechnya.

This film, posted online by extremists, shows women in the traditional clothes being taught how to wield Kalashnikov assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and sniper rifles with deadly results.

It is believed the all-female group of fighters was recruited by a group linked to Al-Qaeda that has bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Terrorist’s Family Planning to Sue British Government for Helping to Murder Him in CIA Drone Strike

The family of a high-ranking Al Qaeda planner killed by a CIA drone strike are to sue the British government for helping to murder him.

Rashid Rauf, a fugitive Briton who played a pivotal role in coordinating the airline bomb plot, was reportedly killed in a U.S missile attack on a Taliban safe house in Pakistan’s tribal areas in 2008.

His family is now to launch a legal challenge accusing the Government of being complicit in the murder of one of its own citizens on foreign soil.

British intelligence officers who shared information about him with their US counterparts may be judged to have assisted in his murder, or of committing war crimes.

Rauf, 27, a former baker’s boy from Birmingham, was on a CIA ‘High Value Target’ list because of his alleged role as a chief planner for Al Qaeda attacks on the West.

Intelligence services also believe he was the brains behind the July 7 London tube attacks, and that he masterminded the failed 2006 plot to blow up US airliners flying from Heathrow, using liquid bombs.

A close friend of the family, who have always maintained that Rauf had no links with Al Qaeda, told the Sunday Mercury: ‘They want justice for their son who was killed in murky circumstances that amount to cold-blooded murder.


‘Rashid never had a chance to defend or explain himself. He was accused of some heinous crimes and without any trial, judge or jury he was blown to pieces by a unmanned Predator drone aircraft controlled by a soldier sitting thousands of miles away in the US.

‘The Americans could not have found and killed him without help from British intelligence officers who shared information.

‘The family want answers. They want to see the evidence that Rashid was a dangerous terrorist.’

The British government has consistently refused to say whether or not its signals intelligence agency, the Cheltenham-based GCHQ, passes information in support of the CIA drone operations over Pakistan.

But media reports have quoted sources at GCHQ claiming it has better interception networks than the CIA in south Asia, and that it has shared information about the locations of Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Rauf family have been encouraged to launch their legal challenge after lawyers for a young Pakistani man, whose father was killed by a drone strike, seek to have the sharing of UK locational intelligence declared unlawful.

Noor Khan, 27, is said to live in constant fear of a repeat of the attack in North Waziristan in March last year which killed more than 40 other people.

In a landmark case at the High Court in London last week, Mr Khan launched an application for a judicial review examining the UK’s alleged complicity in the CIA’s drone campaign.

If Khan’s case is successful, judges will be forced to examine whether GCHQ officers can legally share information on the location of individuals if they believe this may be used to target them with drone strikes.

Khan’s barrister Martin Chamberlain told High Court judges that while soldiers who kill as part of an international armed conflict are protected from prosecution, it’s unclear whether the turmoil in Pakistan’s volatile tribal belt constitutes a war.

A spokesman for human rights charity Reprieve said: ‘This anomaly could make the killings unlawful and British officials who shared intelligence leading to those killings would be guilty of accessory to murder.

‘Even if this is held to be a war, the drone strikes could break international humanitarian law by exceeding what ‘proportionate and necessary’ is leaving officers who share intelligence at risk of assisting crimes against humanity or war crimes.’

A spokesman for the Rauf family last night said their legal action would not be intended to convict any individuals of a crime but to seek a declaration by the British civil courts that such intelligence sharing is unlawful.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Were British Soldiers Murdered in Afghan Police Revenge Attack? Mod Says Female Medic and Marine Were Not Killed by Friendly Fire

Two British soldiers shot dead last week in Afghanistan may have been the victims of a revenge attack by local police.

Corporal Channing Day, 25, of 3 Medical Regiment and Corporal David O’Connor, 27, of 40 Com-mando, Royal Marines, were previously thought to have been caught up in a so-called ‘friendly fire’ incident.

But after interviewing witnesses and recovering fragments of ammunition, Royal Military Police investigators have ruled out the theory that the pair were shot by British Forces.

Last night a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman confirmed that the deaths were caused by ‘a third party… not UK personnel’.

Military detectives are exploring whether the soldiers were killed after British troops shot dead an Afghan policeman.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Far East

Chinese Premier Family Threatens Legal Action Over NYT Report

Lawyers for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s relatives have threatened to “hold responsible” the New York Times for its report claiming that the family held assets worth $2.7 billion. The lawyers’ statement said the “hidden riches” didn’t exist.

Lawyers for relatives of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao have hit back at an “untrue” New York Times article which alleged the family has accumulated vast wealth, a report said Sunday.

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, which printed what it said was a statement from the lawyers, said it was the first time the family of a top Chinese leader has issued a rebuttal of a foreign media report.

Friday’s New York Times (NYT) article came at an especially sensitive time, as the Communist Party strives to clean house before a pivotal handover of power next month.

Detailing a string of deals, the NYT said many relatives of the government’s number two — a self-styled man of the people — had become “extraordinarily wealthy” during his years in office.

Investments by Wen’s son, wife and others spanning the banking, jewellery and telecom sectors were worth at least $2.7 billion according to an analysis of company and regulatory filings from 1992-2012, it said.

Wen’s 90-year-old mother owned a stake valued at $120 million in 2007 in the Ping An insurance giant, according to the US newspaper.

The allegations come as a particular embarrassment for Wen, who is expected to step down as premier next March. He is the standard-bearer of the party’s reformist wing and has campaigned against rampant corruption.

The South China Morning Post reproduced the statement from two lawyers, Bai Tao and Wang Weidong, rejecting aspects of the NYT report. China’s foreign ministry has denounced the article as a smear campaign.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Officials in Chinese City Pledge to Halt Chemical Factory Expansion After Protests

After a weekend of protests by thousands of citizens over pollution fears, a local Chinese government relented Sunday and agreed that a petrochemical factory would not be expanded, only to see the protesters refuse to halt their demonstration.

The standoff in the prosperous city of Ningbo has highlighted the deep mistrust between people and the government in China. Should they continue, the demonstrations would upset an atmosphere of calm that Chinese leaders want for a transfer of power in the Communist Party leadership next month.

The protest in the eastern city, which comes at a sensitive time in China’s political calendar, had swelled over the weekend and led to clashes between citizens and police. The Ningbo city government said in a statement Sunday evening that they and the project’s investor had “resolutely” agreed not to go ahead with the expansion. The factory is a subsidiary of Sinopec, one of the biggest petrochemical companies in the world.

Outside the government offices where crowds of protesters remained, an official tried to read the statement on a loudspeaker but was drowned out by shouts demanding the mayor step down. On the third attempt, the crowd briefly cheered but then turned back to demanding that authorities release protesters being held inside.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Korea Says the North is Preparing a Huge Nuclear Weapons Test

North Korea has kept up preparations for a new nuclear test after having carried out previous launches in 2006 and 2009, South Korea’s Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin told a news conference Wednesday.

“In fact, North Korea has been preparing for this for quite a long time,” Kim told a news conference with Pentagon chief Leon Panetta. “And when the time comes for a political decision, it may in fact resort to this third nuclear test,” he said.

Kim endorsed efforts to persuade Pyongyang to resume six-nation talks on halting its drive to build nuclear weapons — the discussions have been frozen since December 2008 — and described the regime under new leader Kim Jong-Un as “quite stable.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Case of Blonde Girl Beggar Rescued From Streets Strikes Nerve in Mexico; Activists See Racism

At a busy intersection, a girl with a high half ponytail looks at you as she begs for coins. There is dirt beneath her fingernails and her pink shirt looks unwashed. The image in the photo could fit thousands of impoverished Mexican children who sell gum or beg for money in the streets, but for one thing: The girl in this picture is blonde.

The flurry of internet attention to the photo, and the quick way officials reacted, has renewed a debate about racism in Mexico, a nation that is proud of its mestizo heritage but where millions of indigenous people live in poverty and passers-by often barely notice the dark-skinned children begging in the street.

It started last week when a Facebook user posted a photo of the girl standing next to a rearview mirror on a Guadalajara street. He apparently suspected she might have been stolen because “her parents are brown,” and said he had already contacted a welfare agency and state prosecutors.

“Let’s spread this photo around,” he wrote.

Tens of thousands shared the photo of the golden-haired, green-eyed girl and dozens commented on it, some thanking him, others complaining the post was racist.

Lino Gonzalez, the spokesman for prosecutors in Jalisco state, where Guadalajara is the capital, said the widespread distribution of the photo was seen as a sort of collective warning, and an investigation was launched.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


30m Bulgarians and Romanians Are Set to Gain Unrestricted Access to UK as EU Regulations Are Lifted

British jobs could be at risk when nearly 30 million Bulgarians and Romanians gain the right to live and work unrestricted in the UK from 2014.

Experts are warning of a ‘significant spike’ of newcomers when limitations on coming to Britain, which have been imposed on the citizens of the two countries by the European Union, are lifted at the end of next year.

They believe the numbers will be higher than those seen after Poland and seven other eastern European countries were given the same rights in 2004 because of the fragile state of economies on the continent.

Home Secretary Theresa May has indicated support for an end to free movement of EU workers — but Britain cannot stop the restrictions being lifted without tearing up the treaty signed with Bulgaria and Romania when they joined the EU in 2007.

The Government has not made official predictions of how many Bulgarians and Romanians will move here and critics say this is because it grossly underestimated the numbers in 2004.

It predicted less than 20,000 would arrive but Office for National Statistics figures show more than 600,000 were working in Britain last year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Italy: Forza Nuova Hangs Offensive Banner on LGBT Community Center

Extremist group against ‘gender bender’ event in Bologna

(ANSA) — Bologna, October 26 — Members from the neo-fascist Forza Nuova (FN) political party claimed responsibilty for an offensive banner hung on the wall outside an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community center in the north-central city of Bologna overnight Thursday.

A sign reading “perversions must be cured” was signed Forza Nuova and the group posted pictures of the banner on their Facebook page.

Exponents of FN said that they were targeting in particular the 10th edition of an educational event focusing on sexual identities sponsored by the city of Bologna and the region of Emilia-Romagna starting Saturday called Gender Bender.

“Municipal councilors and provincial and regional authorities confuse the meaning of the word culture,” the group said on their Facebook page, showing a picture of the banner and calling their operation a “blitz”.

They also condemned the Jewish community and Israeli embassy for supporting the event that they called “offensive to religion and the Catholic Church”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]