Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121124

Financial Crisis
»Italy: Over Seven Million Italian Pensioners on Under 1,000 Euros
»Italy: Chronically Poor in Milan Diocese Rises 400% in 10 Yrs
»Top Economists Told Obama That Economic Recovery Required a Reduction in Private Debt
»Are Black Friday Riots a Preview of the Civil Unrest That is Coming When Society Breaks Down?
»Are the Feds Preparing for Civil War?
»DC Historians Dig Up Details of America’s Earliest Muslims
»Homeland Security Uses Local Police to Set Up Surveillance Buffer Zones
»I’m Tired and I Want to Go Home
»Mark Steyn: Failures of Intelligence
»Shipping Containers to Become Condos in Detroit
»Ottawa Researcher’s Firing Derails Viking Project
Europe and the EU
»Arafat to be Exhumed on Tuesday Over Poisoning Claim
»Christmas Tree Shipment Dumped in Austrian Garden
»Cyprus: EU Commission: Funds to Turkish Community’s Economy
»Italy: Marina Near Rome Impounded for Structural Instability
»Italy: Copper Thieves Cut Off Rome Airport Rail Link
»Italy: Gorgonzola Exports Rise 12%, Says Cheesemaker
»Italy: Chinese Man Cheats on Driver’s Exam With Transmitter in Wig
»Italy: Activists Blitz Federfauna Headquarters Over ‘Hitler Award’
»Italy: Sorrento Marriages Up Six Percent, Says City Mayor
»Italy: Fake Blind Man Collects 100,000 Euros in Disability
»Italy: Venice Justice of Peace Office Costs 2.6 Mln Euros in Rent
»Italy: Ruby Suffering From Form of ‘Autism’ Says Psychologist
»Italy: San Vittore Prison Chaplain Arrested for Sexual Violence and Abuse of Authority
»Lego and Me
»Sultan Süleyman Mosque to be Restored in Hungary
»Switzerland: Girls Banned From Sports Ground Next to Mosque Because of Harassment From Muslims
»UK: ASBO Granted Against Wembley Teenager
»UK: Ban Right-Wing Extremists, Urges Socialist Candidate
»UK: Cornish Girl, 15, Groomed on the Internet by Jahangir Karim
»UK: Crackdown on Sex in Prisons to Stop ‘Cosy’ Relationships Between Cell Mates
»UK: Did He Take Maddie’s Secret to His Grave? Police Reopen Investigation Into Paedophile Who Was Living in Algarve When She Vanished
»UK: Decision Over UKIP Couple Fostering ‘Indefensible’ — Gove
»UK: Ed Miliband Calls for Investigation Over UKIP Fostering Row at Rotherham Council
»UK: Investigation Launched Into Why Couple’s Foster Children Were Taken From Them ‘After They Joined UKIP’
»UK: If We Agreed a Pact With UKIP, We Would Own Their Pain — And Their Problems
»UK: Miliband Joins By-Election Fight
»UK: Ozour: Jail for Death Blocker
»UK: Police Shut Down Rochdale Takeaway in ‘Child Grooming’ Probe
»UK: Rotherham’s Stasi Have Handed UKIP a PR Victory. Shame They Had to Tear Apart a Foster Family in the Process
»UK: Rotherham Council: UKIP Support Made Couple Unsuitable
»UK: Rotherham Council Remove Foster Children From Couple Because They Support UKIP
»UK: Woman Kicked in the Head by Robbery Gang in Harlesden
»UK: Why Cameron Will Regret His ‘Fruitcakes and Loonies’ Insult
»UKIP Fury Over Foster Children Move
»Vienna Dialogue Center Opens Monday
»Wales: Sex Assault Charges
»Former Croatian Premier Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison
Mediterranean Union
»EIB: Over 50% Ouarzazate’s Plant From EU Financing
»Lebanon: Italy Financed 13 Prenatal Clinics for Poor Women
North Africa
»Algerians Show Little Interest in Upcoming Local Elections
»Egyptian Judges Defy President Morsi
»Egypt: Opt Contingency Planning, Despite Ceasefire
»It Happens at Night: Genital Mutilation in Egypt
»Morsi’s Egypt: More Power, More Persecution
»Sexual Harassment in Tahrir Square Sparks Activism
Israel and the Palestinians
»Why Owen Jones Was Wrong About Gaza
»Women at War: Why We Make it Our Place to be on the Front Line
Middle East
»Iran Struggles With Medicine Shortage
»Iraq-Turkey: Tensions Rise Amid Mutual Accusations, Oil
»Italy-Qatar Invest 4bln Euro in Joint Business Venture
»Mega Library to Open in Doha, But Qataris Not Book Lovers
»Middle East Leads World in Negative Emotions
»Saudi Arabia: 1200 Entered Islam in Khober in 2011: Reports
»Saudi Arabia: Thousands Join ‘Beat Diabetes’ Walkathon
»Saudi Arabia: King Abdulaziz Qur’an Competition Days Away
»Syria: Turkey Missile Plan is a ‘Provocation’
»Turkey: Survey Shows Majority Want Constitutional Secularism
»Turkey-Syria Standoff: NATO Missiles Readied, Kurdish Fighters on Border
»US and Russian Diplomats Renew Their Rejection of Blasphemy Laws
»Where’s My Wife?’ Electronic SMS Tracker Notifies Saudi Husbands
South Asia
»Scots Soldiers in Afghanistan Tell of Working Under the Cloud of ‘Green-on-Blue’ Killings
»Seven People Killed in Pakistan Shiite Procession
Far East
»China: In Addition to Corruption, CPP Increasingly Caught Up in Sex Scandals
»China Publishes 1st Official Map of Sansha City
»China’s Toxic Milk Whistleblower Murdered
»India Says China’s New Passport Maps Unacceptable
Australia — Pacific
»Extremists Arrested After Mosque Threat
»Marijuana Use Causes Brain Damage Confirmed
»Terror Threat Preacher Walks Free
Sub-Saharan Africa
»ICJ Issues Arrest Warrant for Former Ivorian First Lady
»Nigeria: Obasanjo Woos North With N350 Million Mosque, Arabic School
»South Sudan: Juba Condemns Sudan’s Air Attacks as SPLA Say Its Troops Are on ‘High Alert’
»South Africa Deports Nearly 43,000 Zimbabweans
»Ugandan President Repents of Personal, National Sins
»235 Migrants Land at Lampedusa
»Comprehensive Amnesty Threat
»Immigrants Will Make Up 17% of Italian Population by 2050
»Migrants Set Fire to Greek Detention Centre
Culture Wars
»CBS’s Nancy Giles: Pro-Life White People Are Trying to “Build up the Race”
»Civitas vs Caroline Fourest
»Mosque for Gays to Open in France
»Swedish Toy Firm Drops Gender Roles for Xmas
»UK: The Great Gay Marriage Revolt: 118 Tory MPs Set to Defy Cameron and Trigger Biggest Tory Party Rebellion in Modern Times
»All Hail Gangnam Style: Youtube’s Most Popular Video, Ever
»Huge Mars Colony Eyed by SpaceX Founder Elon Musk

Financial Crisis

Italy: Over Seven Million Italian Pensioners on Under 1,000 Euros

35% receive between 500 and 1,000 euros monthly

(ANSA) — Rome, November 20 — Around 7.2 million retirees, over half of the overall total, receive pensions of less than 1,000 euros per month, the Italian pension agency INPS said in its social report for 2011 on Tuesday.

INPS found about 17% receive less than 500 euros, while 35% get between 500 and 1,000 euros.

Another 24% of retirees have pensions of between 1,000 and 1,500 euros per month.

The average monthly pension in Italy is 1,131 euros. The average for men is 1,366 euros and for women it is 930 euros.

Just 2.9% of pensioners receive more than 3,000 euros per month.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Chronically Poor in Milan Diocese Rises 400% in 10 Yrs

Nearly 17,000 sought help in 2011 at Caritas Ambrosiana centers

(ANSA) — Milan, November 20 — The number of poor who chronically seek assistance from Catholic church charities in the Milan diocese has quadrupled over the last decade, according to a study released on Tuesday.

Continuing economic crisis drove 16,751 people in 2011 to find help at centers of the Catholic charity Caritas Ambrosiana across the territories of the Milan diocese, the organization’s 11th Report on Poverty found.

The Milan diocese extends from Milan to cities beyond its periphery, like Varese, Monza and Lecco.

Foreigners constituted 73.5% of those seeking help, the report said. Three quarters of them were working age, and two thirds were women. The total number of poor seeking aid increased by 6% since the first year of the crisis in 2008. The ranks of the chronically poor, who lean on the Caritas network for at least two years in a row, rose significantly, the study noted.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Top Economists Told Obama That Economic Recovery Required a Reduction in Private Debt

We’ve extensively documented that too much private household debt is killing our economy.

While Ben Bernanke and other economists who are running our economic policy literally believe that the amount of private debt doesn’t matter and isn’t even important to quantify, economists at the “central banks’ central bank” — the Bank of International Settlements — and many other leading economists say that high levels of private debt create a tremendous drag on the economy.

And Obama can’t plead ignorance.

Business Insider notes today:

A number of economists privately told Obama that his recovery policies were weak in one key area: They didn’t do enough to address the mountain of homeowner debt.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Are Black Friday Riots a Preview of the Civil Unrest That is Coming When Society Breaks Down?

If Americans will trample one another just to save a few dollars on a television, what will they do when society breaks down and the survival of their families is at stake? Once in a while an event comes along that gives us a peek into what life could be like when the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is stripped away. For example, when Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey there was rampant looting and within days people were digging around in supermarket dumpsters looking for food. Sadly, “Black Friday” also gives us a look at how crazed the American people can be when given the opportunity.

This year was no exception. Once again we saw large crowds of frenzied shoppers push, shove, scratch, claw, bite and trample one another just to save a few bucks on cheap foreign-made goods. And of course most retailers seem to be encouraging this type of behavior. Most of them actually want people frothing at the mouth and willing to fight one another to buy their goods. But is this kind of “me first” mentality really something that we want to foster as a society? If people are willing to riot to save money on a cell phone, what would they be willing to do to feed their families? Are the Black Friday riots a very small preview of the civil unrest that is coming when society eventually breaks down?

Once upon a time, Thanksgiving was not really a commercial holiday. It was a time to get together with family and friends, eat turkey and express thanks for the blessings that we have been given.

But in recent years Black Friday has started to become even a bigger event than Thanksgiving itself.

Millions of Americans have become convinced that it is fun to wait in long lines outside retail stores in freezing cold weather in the middle of the night to spend money that they do not have on things that they do not need.

And of course very, very few “Black Friday deals” are actually made in America. So these frenzied shoppers are actually killing American jobs and destroying the U.S. economy as well.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Are the Feds Preparing for Civil War?

Is the government preparing to put down widespread civil strife or uprising? After four years of economic woe, and an all-time low approval rating for congress, many Americans are asking this question. With a government that’s seemingly out of control, conspiracy theories are popping up about what’s “really” going on — and there’s more truth to these theories than you might think. Get the facts before it’s too late and see what you should be concerned about.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

DC Historians Dig Up Details of America’s Earliest Muslims

For most Muslims, what happens to the body of a deceased person is not quite as important as what happens to that person’s soul. Still, historians of all backgrounds are scrambling to locate the body and belongings of a Muslim buried in Washington, DC nearly 200 years ago, for it touches the soul of early American history. The deceased, Yarrow Mamout, was among tens of thousands — if not millions — of Muslims brought to America during the slave trade, but one of few for which historians have much information. Historic documents suggest Yarrow may be buried on the property he purchased after gaining his independence in 1797. That land is located in Washington’s historic Georgetown neighborhood where homes now sell for several million dollars. Its owner, real estate developer Deyi Awadallah, hopes to build and sell a new residence on the property. He knew nothing of Yarrow when he purchased the land last spring, but he’s willing to give archaeologists a chance — a few weeks or months — to investigate before he finalizes his plans. “I’m trying to respect the situation. It deserves that,” he said in an interview this month…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Homeland Security Uses Local Police to Set Up Surveillance Buffer Zones

In order to sweeten the pot of federalization, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is giving gifts of expensive gadgets to local police forces.

Cops in North Jersey, for example, were showered with gifts from their would-be overseers.As reported by The Record:

Oradell, Emerson, Closter and Harrington Park police have car-mounted night-vision technology and video and recording equipment that can watch over the Oradell Reservoir and dam — and the hikers and anglers entering it. West Milford can do the same around the Newark watershed. Wayne police are scanning … the license plates of vehicles outside the Willowbrook Mall, while East Rutherford officers patrol hotel parking lots near the Meadowlands and the Federal Reserve building off Route 17.

How is all this new technology being used? Who is being watched? Why are they being targeted for surveillance? Neither law enforcement nor federal agents are talking.


State and major urban area fusion centers (fusion centers) serve as primary focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) partners… Fusion centers conduct analysis and facilitate information sharing, assisting law enforcement and homeland security partners in preventing, protecting against, and responding to crime and terrorism.

The literature promoting the acceptance of fusion centers lists several ways the new federal agency will impose its will on the formerly autonomous and accountable police chief or county sheriff.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

I’m Tired and I Want to Go Home

Like many of you, my memories now span over 62 years and ten lifetimes it seems of experience and horrific change. As I have observed the past five years, I am consumed with the dreadful sense of shame and guilt that I have failed to walk my children and grandchildren into a brighter future than what I had. Now when I stand with a group of veterans, many heads hang low when we talk of wars fought, battles won or lost and all for what…?

Daily heroism, lives cut short and friends lost because the call to “duty” was answered by men and women who believed they were advancing freedom for others and reinforcing the freedom we had been given 236 years ago. And when taps sounded in the hearts and minds of so many, each night as stillness and contemplation made its way into the room, heartbreak and a deep sense of the loss of country cannot be dismissed.

The heart and soul of America has been held hostage to greed, tyranny and destruction for decades, but the crime bosses have entered that pitiful room where our nation’s dreams were imprisoned. The beating continued until finally, mortally wounded, America could withstand no more. In a moment of time, her soul was defeated, her deeply compassionate spirit was crushed and life as we knew it — — ended.

All of the second guessing and excuse making in the world cannot hide the results of this slow and agonizing death. America’s people preferred a string of lies and transition from freedom to slavery over bright and prosperous dreams yet to come.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Mark Steyn: Failures of Intelligence

Let us turn from the post-Thanksgiving scenes of inflamed mobs clubbing each other to the ground for a discounted television set to the comparatively placid boulevards of the Middle East. In Cairo, no sooner had Hillary Clinton’s plane cleared Egyptian air space than Mohamed Morsi issued one-man constitutional amendments declaring himself and his Muslim Brotherhood buddies free from judicial oversight and announced that his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, would be retried for all the stuff he was acquitted of in the previous trial. Morsi now wields total control over parliament, the judiciary, and the military to a degree Mubarak in his jail cell can only marvel at. Old CIA wisdom: He may be an SOB but he’s our SOB. New post—Arab Spring CIA wisdom: He may be an SOB but at least he’s not our SOB.

But don’t worry. As America’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, assured the House Intelligence Committee at the time of Mubarak’s fall, the Muslim Brotherhood is a “largely secular” organization. The name’s just for show, same as the Episcopal Church…

           — Hat tip: DS[Return to headlines]

Shipping Containers to Become Condos in Detroit

The first U.S. multi-family condo built of used shipping containers is slated to break ground in Detroit early next year.

Strong, durable and portable, shipping containers stack easily and link together like Legos. About 25 million of these 20-by-40 feet multicolored boxes move through U.S. container ports a year, hauling children’s toys, flat-screen TVs, computers, car parts, sneakers and sweaters.

But so much travel takes its toll, and eventually the containers wear out and are retired. That’s when architects and designers, especially those with a “green” bent, step in to turn these cast-off boxes into student housing in Amsterdam, artists’ studios, emergency shelters, health clinics, office buildings.


“A shipping container doesn’t want to be a building,” Case explains. “So you have to do quite a bit of gymnastics that cost money.” But the Box Office is four times more energy efficient than a typical office building, and that’s where Case says he’ll see savings. “There’s no way for air to come in or out of a shipping container,” he says, “unless you want it to.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Ottawa Researcher’s Firing Derails Viking Project

OTTAWA — This should be the best of times for Pat Sutherland. November’s issue of National Geographic magazine and a documentary airing Thursday night on CBC’s The Nature of Things both highlight research the Ottawa archeologist has been doing in the Canadian Arctic for the past dozen years that could fundamentally alter our understanding of our early history.

If Sutherland is right, Norse seafarers — popularly known as Vikings — built an outpost on Baffin Island, now called Nanook, centuries before Columbus blundered on to North America. Moreover, there’s evidence they traded with the Dorset, the Arctic’s ancient, now-vanished inhabitants, for as many as 400 years.

“That’s incredible,” says Andrew Gregg, who wrote, directed and produced The Norse: An Arctic Mystery, the CBC documentary that recounts Sutherland’s findings. “That rewrites all the history books.”

But Sutherland’s pleasure at the recognition her discoveries are receiving has been sharply tempered by a harsh reality. Last April, even as the documentary about her work was being filmed, the 63-year-old, then curator of Arctic archeology at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, was abruptly dismissed from her job.

At the same time, museum officials also stripped her husband, Robert McGhee — himself a legendary Arctic archeologist described as “one of the most eminent scholars that Canada has produced” — of the emeritus status it had granted him after his retirement from the Gatineau museum in 2008.

No one involved will say why the museum severed its relationships with Sutherland and McGhee. When asked, Sutherland responds hesitantly, choosing her words with care. “I can’t really talk about my dismissal,” she says.

Her union, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, is treating her firing as a wrongful dismissal, but won’t comment because the case is before an arbitrator.

Museum officials also decline to offer an explanation, though Chantal Schryer, the museum’s vice-president of public affairs, says the reasons are well known by Sutherland and her husband.

“They both know exactly why Dr. McGhee lost his emeritus status,” Schryer says. “And she knows why she is no longer an employee of the museum.”

Two sources told the Citizen that the rupture followed a year-long external investigation into allegations of bullying and harassment. But they are unwilling to speak on the record, and neither Sutherland, her union nor the museum discuss the matter.

Gregg suggests Sutherland’s dismissal may be linked to the museum’s impending transformation into the Canadian Museum of History. “It’s a complete shift in ideology,” he says. “The narrative that’s coming out through this government and our institutions has no room for a new story about the Norse.”

However, Schryer flatly denies that. The departure of Sutherland and McGhee “has absolutely nothing to do with the change of name and change of mandate,” she declares.

Sutherland — the only female archeologist the museum has ever employed — won’t comment on that. But, she points out, “people have expressed concern that the announced changes are going to lead to a neglect of archeology and ethnology, and my work comes under that heading.”

Schryer says the museum “remains interested in archeology, including in the Arctic.” However, it’s clear the museum is committing fewer resources to that area than it has in the past.

Since Sutherland’s departure, it no longer has a curator of Arctic archeology and none of its eight archeologists is devoted exclusively to Arctic research, though museum officials say one is working on a project related to the Arctic. A few years ago, the museum had five Arctic archeologists on staff.

The whole episode has been traumatic for Sutherland, who had been associated with the museum for 28 years and was hired 12 years ago to run the Helluland archeology project. (Helluland was the Norse name for Baffin Island and adjacent part of the Eastern Arctic.)

“It’s had a profound effect,” she says. “This work was important to me, and I thought it was important to look at a new aspect of early Canadian history.”

Until now, the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America was at L’Anse aux Meadows, established around the year 1000 at the northern tip of Newfoundland, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But archeological evidence suggests the Norse only stayed for a decade or so, and there’s no sign that they traded with the natives. There’s not even any archeological evidence that the Norse at L’Anse aux Meadows had contact with the aboriginal population, though Norse sagas — oral histories written down two or three centuries after the events — tell of the settlers being driven away by fierce and unwelcoming natives.

Current evidence suggests the Nanook site on southern Baffin Island, about 25 kilometres from the village of Kimmirut, was established around 1300 AD, though Sutherland says it could date from a much earlier period. If so, it’s conceivable that Nanook was the place of first contact between native North Americans and Europeans.

The site was originally excavated in the 1960s and at the time, was thought to be a Dorset settlement. But based on evidence she has painstakingly assembled over a dozen years, Sutherland says she’s certain the Nanook site is of European origin.

“I’m very confident that what we have is an indication of a Norse presence in the Canadian Arctic that we weren’t aware of before, that it was over a longer period of time, and that the interactions with the aboriginal people were more complex and extensive than we thought before.”

It’s a “no-brainer” that trade would have been involved, Sutherland says. The Dorset had the goods, including walrus ivory, narwhal tusks and furs, that the Norse were after. And they were only a two-day sail from Norse outposts in Greenland. “One could reasonably argue that the travels to the east coast of Canada, to the Arctic, was over a period of four centuries,” she says.

As Sutherland has accumulated evidence, her conclusions have become more widely accepted within an initially skeptical archeological community.

James Tuck, an emeritus professor of archeology at Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld., says Sutherland’s evidence “seems to be getting better all the time.” He adds: “She’s created a project that has brought together all kinds of different lines of evidence and experts, and they all are pointing in the same direction.”

Tuck called Sutherland’s dismissal from the museum of civilization a “tremendous setback” for the project. ‘I don’t think it’s a death knell, but it’s damn close to it.”

Some of the artifacts Sutherland had assembled were on loan from other institutions, and within days of her dismissal, they were sent back to museums in Newfoundland and Greenland. Others belong to the government of Nunavut. Negotiations are under way between the museum and Nunavut to determine their fate.

Sutherland intended to co-publish her findings with 15 international collaborators, but her dismissal dashed those plans. She also wanted to work with the community of Kimmirut to get national historic site designation for the Nanook site, something that would have generated tourism and jobs. “There’s a lot of disappointment and dismay that this work isn’t going ahead,” she says.

Sutherland’s main objective now is to regain access to her research. But whether that happens hinges on the resolution of her dispute with the museum. “We are in discussions with Dr. Sutherland and her representative, trying to solve issues,” Schryer says. “Dr. Sutherland is not being denied anything. We just need to solve some past employment issues.”

That can’t happen soon enough for Sutherland.”I’m excited about what we found,” she says. “I think it’s significant. I think it’s a project that is of interest to the Canadian public.

“I really want to be able to complete this work. At this stage in my life, this is kind of a legacy, I guess.”

           — Hat tip: LN[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Arafat to be Exhumed on Tuesday Over Poisoning Claim

The body of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is to be exhumed on Tuesday, Palestinian officials say.

His body is to undergo tests to find out whether his death in Paris in 2004 was caused by poisoning. Arafat’s medical records say he had a stroke resulting from a blood disorder.

But France began a murder inquiry in August after Swiss experts hired by a documentary crew found radioactive polonium-210 on Arafat’s personal effects…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Christmas Tree Shipment Dumped in Austrian Garden

An early seasonal delivery went badly wrong in Austria when a truck was involved in a crash and dumped 14 tons of Christmas trees in a resident’s garden.

Police in Vorarlberg state, at Austria’s western tip, say the accident happened Friday night as a truck with a trailer loaded with trees drove through the town of Hohenems.

The trailer hit a wall, tipped over and landed in the garden of a house. A police statement Saturday said that the fire service dispatched 30 people to recover the hundreds of fir trees.

A passenger in the truck was injured and taken to a local hospital.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Cyprus: EU Commission: Funds to Turkish Community’s Economy

New programme of financial assistance, 27.2 mln euros allocated

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 22 — The European Commission approved new financial assistance for the Turkish Cypriot community. A new 27.2 million euros programme will focus on promoting the economic integration of the island, with the overall objective to help prepare for its reunification.

The funds will support a wide range of sectors, including eradication of animal diseases, protection of the environment, road safety, cultural heritage and civil society. Students, teachers and NGOs will be among the main beneficiaries of the programme.

“This new funding — said Stefan Fule, EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy — reflects the firm commitment of the European Union to the economic integration of the Turkish Cypriot community; through dialogue and mutual enrichment between the two communities we are continuing the support for the future reunification of the island”.

The European Union has invested to date more than 320 million euros under the Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community.

Earlier this year a specific allocation of 800,000 euros had already been approved to fund the EU Scholarship Programme for the academic year 2012/2013.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Marina Near Rome Impounded for Structural Instability

Fraud investigation into building of Fiumicino tourist site

(ANSA) — Rome, November 19 — Italian police impounded the construction-site of a 320-million-euro tourist marina west of Rome on Monday for alleged structural deficiencies and instability of the entire site.

The new Fiumicino marina, located 4km from Rome’s Fiumicino international airport, is slated for completion in 2015. The first stone of the marina was laid in February 2010, and it is designed to host 1,445 leisure craft of 10m to 60m. The shutdown was ordered by the prosecutor’s office of Civitavecchia, a town located 70km north of Fiumicino.

Investigators are pursuing fraud charges against suppliers for the site.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Copper Thieves Cut Off Rome Airport Rail Link

Workers race to reconnect vital transport artery

(ANSA) — Rome, November 19 — Copper thieves wreaked havoc on Rome’s railways Monday, shutting down the line that links the Fiumicino international airport with the capital. According to the national railway operator RFI, the theft took place along tracks between the Roma Ostiense and Ponte Galeria stops. Shuttle buses were substituting trains as workers raced to get the vital transport artery running again.

Delays were also reported on the Civitavecchia-Rome line. Transportation and utility authorities have reported a number of copper thefts as of late. In an unrelated incident Monday, a man in Bari was electrocuted to death in what police suspect was an attempt to steal copper attached to electrical power lines.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Gorgonzola Exports Rise 12%, Says Cheesemaker

Pungent cheese up 0.5% per year even in Italy

(ANSA) — Milan, November 20 — The Italian blue cheese Gorgonzola has seen exports rise by 12%, said managers of the Gorgonzola cheesemaker 5 Stelle on Tuesday during one of a series of educational events organized November 17-26 by Italian food association Federalimentare and Italy’s education ministry.

The series of events, in which food companies across Italy open their doors to the public, is called Apertamente. “In Italy, Gorgonzola is a 500-million-euro business, with production surpassing four million moulds, the equivalent of 500,000 quintals” or 500 million kg, said Marco and Chiara Gelmini, siblings carrying the torch for a family business that opened its doors in 1880.

Gorgonzola bearing the protected designation of origin (PDO) EU label has even defied years of economic crisis within Italy, as domestic consumption has risen consistently by 0.5% over the last four years, the Gelminis said.

PDO, or DOP in Italian, is a quality designation that distinguishes authentic Gorgonzola, and has a long history of fans outside Italy — especially in France, Switzerland and Great Britain. Great Britain’s prime minister during World War II, Winston Churchill, was such a fan he reportedly singled out gorgonzola on war maps, telling British bombers to spare the northern Italian areas that produced his favorite cheese.

Today Gorgonzola ranks third in Italy in terms of cheese production, after Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano — the hard, salty cheeses popularly grated on pasta dishes.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Chinese Man Cheats on Driver’s Exam With Transmitter in Wig

Test taker fed right answers via Bluetooth device

(ANSA) — Modena, November 21 — A Chinese man was charged with fraud in Modena Wednesday when he was caught cheating on the written portion of a driving test by hiding a transmitter under his wig.

According to police, the 44-year-old had rigged up a contraption under a toupee that converted written text into audio and fed it via Bluetooth to another person, who in turn read the correct answers back to the test taker. Police seized the device and 2,800 euros, which the suspect said he was ready to pay another Chinese man who had developed the device and the scheme. Police are now on the hunt for his accomplice.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Activists Blitz Federfauna Headquarters Over ‘Hitler Award’

Association under fire for prize

(ANSA) — Bologna, November 22 — Animal rights activists protesting the Association of Animal Breeders and Traders Federfauna’s plans to grant a ‘Hitler Award’ hung banners in front of the group’s headquarters overnight Wednesday.

Signs with photos of animals in cages read “Federfauna, you should give a medal to your members. They truly deserve it”.

Federfauna said that the Hitler Award, to be presented Saturday at a press conference, is for a “personality who has distinguished himself as an animal rights advocate”.

Adolf Hitler was said to be an avid animal rights supporter, limiting hunting and regulating the transportation of livestock and known for his personal affection for animals.

“The Nazis of today are hunters and farmers who kill for the sake of killing, who shoot the defenseless and who enslave millions of living beings for dirty profits, commercially exploiting every part of their bodies,” said a press release by the animal rights association 100% Animalisti.

William Michelini, president of Italy’s historic partisan association Anpi, called on Federfauna to cancel the award, calling it “absolutely unacceptable from every point of view”. “How could you honor the creator of Nazism with such flippancy?,” Michelini said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Sorrento Marriages Up Six Percent, Says City Mayor

British make up 85% of those tying the knot in seaside venue

(ANSA) — Sorrento (Naples), November 22 — The number of marriages celebrated in the southern city of Sorrento is on the rise and the vast majority involve English-speaking couples, local authorities said on Thursday.

Some 537 weddings were celebrated in the city famous for its scented lemons and nearby Amalfi coast in the first 10 months of this year, up 6% over 2011. 85% of the couples came from Britian, 10% from Italy and the rest from Ireland, the United States and Australia. “The figures augur well for 2013 in terms of the whole economy linked to the wedding industry,” said local councillor Federico Cuomo.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Fake Blind Man Collects 100,000 Euros in Disability

Police nab 65-year-old driving tractor on daughter’s farm

(ANSA) — Florence, November 23 — Police near Florence cited a man Friday for allegedly collecting 100,000 euros in disability benefits over the course of 12 years by falsely claiming he was totally blind.

According to police, the man was working as a tractor driver on his former farm that he sold to his daughter before claiming full disability. The 65-year-old resident of Mugello faces charges of aggravated fraud and has had property seized in the Tuscan village of Borgo San Lorenzo. The man, who does not have a permit to drive large vehicles, was filmed by police driving heavy machinery on and off road.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Venice Justice of Peace Office Costs 2.6 Mln Euros in Rent

Mayor wants to relocate from St Mark’s Square

(ANSA) — Venice, November 23 — Cash-strapped administrators in Venice are pushing to relocate three justices of the peace whose medieval offices in St Mark’s Square cost 2.6 million euros a year in annual expenses. Mayor Giorgio Orsoni has moved to relocate the 11-person staff to newly built offices in Piazzale Roma, near the train station. The city has already relocated offices for the anti-mafia administration and various police organs, which were previously located next to the justices’ offices in the historic Procuratie Vecchie, owned and rented out by insurance giant Assicurazioni Generali. “It was one of the things I’ve wanted to eliminate as soon as possible,” said the mayor. “But the lease wasn’t up with Generali. We had to negotiate”. The Procuratie Vecchie, literally Old Procuracies, date back to the 12th century and were offices for Venetian administrators during the Republic’s ascent to empire and until its fall at the end of the 18th century.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Ruby Suffering From Form of ‘Autism’ Says Psychologist

Witness for Berlusconi’s defense interviewed El Mahroug 20 times

(ANSA) — Milano, November 19 — Psychologists examining Karima ‘Ruby’ El Mahroug, the Moroccan runaway and nightclub dancer at the center of the trial of Silvio Berlusconi for alleged sex with her when she was underage and alleged abuse of power said on Monday that she demonstrated a form of autism linked to “a very high level of psychological stress”. Written reports by state psychologist Maria Teresa Napoli said that El Mahroug “escaped into an imaginary world to flee from reality as a defense mechanism”.

Napoli, who was called by the ex-premier’s defense team, treated El Mahroug at the Badolato community center in the southern city of Catanzaro where she stayed as an adolescent.

The psychologist who conducted approximately 20 interviews with El Mahroug described Ruby as a “smart and sharp girl” but who was “torn between a modern culture and that of her father”.

Napoli told prosecutors that El Marhoug’s “lies were due in part to her conflicted personality and form of autism”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: San Vittore Prison Chaplain Arrested for Sexual Violence and Abuse of Authority

Six non-Italian prisoners alleged abuse. Investigators filmed extortion of sexual favours. Diocese’s dismay

MILAN — The chaplain of Milan’s San Vittore prison, 51-year-old Fr Alberto Barin, has been arrested for sustained sexual assault with multiple aggravations and for abuse of authority. Six non-Italian prisoners have accused him of demanding sexual acts in exchange for favours ranging from items of food to living conditions in the prison. Officers investigating the allegations were able to document the incidents by placing a videocamera in the chaplain’s office in the prison.

SINCE 2008 — The chaplain forced inmates to satisfy his sexual demands in exchange for items such as cigarettes and toothpaste, also promising to put in a good word for their release. One of the aggravating circumstances alleged is abuse of authority. The first report was filed last summer by a prisoner of African origin. Charges concern incidents over a period of six years from 2008 to 2012. Fr Alberto Barin has been serving at San Vittore since 1997.

“APPALLING AFFAIR” — Milan-based assistant public prosecutor Pietro Forno, who coordinates the sex crime team, said: “It’s an appalling affair. We moved with extreme caution when we received the first complaint from a young African facing charges involving offences against property. He had been the victim of assault by another prisoner and said in his statement that it wasn’t the first time”.

CHAPLAIN’S OFFICE — Exchanges of sexual favours for goods or favours at San Vittore took place both in the chaplain’s office at the prison and in the priest’s quarters, which is accessed from outside the prison structure itself. Fr Alberto also spoke up for the release of prisoners who “were nice” to him. One of the chaplain’s victims refused to comply with his requests. He subsequently stopped being invited to the priest’s office and no longer received the little favours that were handed out to other inmates. The detention order was signed by the investigating magistrate, Enrico Manzi. Currently, Fr Alberto Barin is being held in Bollate prison, where he will be interviewed in the next few days.

OTHER VICTIMS — Investigators are seeking to find out whether any other inmates, apart from the six already identified, may have been the victims of abuse by the priest. Officers believe that the priest always used the same strategy, playing on the needs of prison inmates. Inquiries have revealed that when one of the six prisoners was released at the end of his sentence, he was apparently summoned to the priest’s residence and forced to endure further abuse. Investigators also placed a videocamera in the chaplain’s quarters to record episodes of violence…

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

Lego and Me

The Danish construction system is the greatest toy ever made

By Adam Savage

Back when I was a kid, Sesame Street had a running gag in which a chef would appear at the top of some stairs with an impossibly large, improbably complicated multitiered confection. He’d yell out its name and count the ludicrous number of ingredients that had gone into every layer and then, gingerly, start down the stairs, presumably to serve this, the creation of a lifetime. He never made it. He always fell before he got to the bottom, invariably covered in the remnants of his creation.

My childhood was similarly punctuated on many a Saturday morning. I woke early and would spend hours building some massive Lego creation of my own design. Then, high on my creative juices and believing with an iron certainty that this, this work of inspiration and ingenuity, needed to be shared with the world, I would start downstairs. I knew nobody in my family was going to come up to my garbage pit of a room, and besides, for the uninitiated to appreciate my creation’s breathtaking qualities, it needed to be seen far away from all the dirty clothes, copies of World Magazine and gazillions of other Legos. So I would gingerly pick up the whole thing and to take it to our spacious kitchen.

Like the chef on Sesame Street, I never made it. I clearly remember thinking, more than once (and as early as 8 or 9 years old) as I sat on the second landing surrounded by, say, the unrecoverable swiss château I’d built: “why do you keep doing this if the same thing happens every single time!” Why indeed. Clearly I was obsessed.

And why not? Lego is the greatest toy ever developed. I have been playing with Legos forever. It has taught me innumerable lessons about building and supplied me with countless hours of enjoyment through what I remember as a somewhat lonely childhood. What made Legos great was that, besides being nearly indestructible, they are also infinitely adaptable. Using only a highly limited number of uniformly shaped building blocks, endless original new worlds could be created. (When I worked in the toy industry, we called this “open-ended building.”) And even as you grew older, the simple blocks were enough to accommodate your growing ambitions. Only when I discovered girls, around the age of 16, did I decide it was time to put away childish things and sadly, stupidly sold all my Legos to a local kid.

I was born in the late 1960s, just as the small toy company from Denmark began to expand its line of toys and tentatively delve into a new international market. I had many older brothers, sisters and cousins, and my first Legos dated from before I was born. These were some of the very first Lego sets to make it across the water and into the United States, according to Sarah Herman’s “A Million Little Bricks,” a painstakingly researched account of the toys.

Ms. Herman takes us back to the earliest business ventures of Ole Kirk Christiansen, the patriarch of the Danish family that still runs the business today. First released in 1949, the Lego company’s Automatic Binding Bricks were originally a bit of a rip-off of a British toy. But over the next decade and a half, the company gradually improved its manufacturing and introduced the “tube-and-studs” connection system that makes Lego constructions so strong. The Legos American kids played with at the Danish Pavilion of the New York World Fair, in 1964, were more or less the toys we know today.

As Ms. Herman notes, what set Lego apart from other construction toys was that the original boxes presented no fixed plan for you to follow, but instead presented “a toy that could be used to create your own play environment-a basis for a fictional world that you controlled.” That said, what eventually made Lego explode in popularity were its themed sets-the town, the emergency vehicles, the electrified trains, but especially the NASA-inspired, space-themed sets.

The final piece of the puzzle was the invention (only in 1978!) of Minifigs-the short, boxy mini-figures that allowed you to populate your landscapes. Starting with traffic cops and firemen, Minifigs came to include not just astronauts but farmers, knights, pirates and, later, cross-licensed characters from SpongeBob SquarePants to Indiana Jones.

In the early ‘80s, I was in my midteens, still lonely, and spending an inordinate amount of time buying, building, reconfiguring entire Lego cities in my room. My fervid imagination gave birth to a three-foot-tall Death Star set, replete with toilet-paper-tube elevator shafts and secret doors that looked like walls but were in fact portals (I imagined) to secret rooms. I augmented my collection by purchasing other collections at garage sales, and made sure I got Legos for every birthday and holiday.

I even wrote to Lego at one point, ostensibly to see if I could purchase Minifigs directly. My request masked the real reason I was writing to the mother ship. I finished my letter with a simple question. I wanted to know how one went about becoming a designer for Lego-one of the earliest things I knew I wanted to do for a living. I thought of myself as a pretty skillful designer of Lego buildings, and clearly somebody made a living making these sets, why not me?

Their typed and hand signed response helpfully let me know that yes, I could purchase Minifigs from them, and included a catalog of an impossible number of individual bricks that could be ordered. The prices made my preteen eyes bug out of my head. But the letter finished by playfully encouraging me to keep building because yes, there were people who made their living designing the sets that had given me so much joy. I kept imagining that I might be one of them. What a heavenly thought. Reading “A Million Little Bricks” is probably the closest I’m going to get.

The best part of the book is the pictures-taking me on a trip through the forest of my childhood as I looked upon boxes and bricks I knew intimately 40 years ago. Sets, figures and vehicles that still populate my maker’s brain. The Esso Station is one of my earliest memories about Lego. Seeing the space-themed sets puts the music in my head when I was building them: American top 40 music played by Kasey Kasem. I don’t think there is a single Lego fact that can’t be found within this satisfyingly heavy book. Here’s one: Lego is so named because in Danish, “Leg Godt” means “Play Well.”…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sultan Süleyman Mosque to be Restored in Hungary

The Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TÝKA) will restore the Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent Mosque in the Hungarian city of Szigetvar. The memorandum of understanding was signed on Nov. 21 between TÝKA Chairman Serdar Çam and Szigetvar Mayor Janos Kolovics at the Hungarian Embassy in Ankara. Çam said the mosque would be open for worship, adding that they would also construct a Turkish house there…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Girls Banned From Sports Ground Next to Mosque Because of Harassment From Muslims

Last month a gymnastics teacher at the André-Chavanne school (in Geneva) prevented her pupils from participating in a gymnastics lesson on the athletics field. The reason? The stadium is close to the mosque of Petit-Saconnex and three years ago, female students in their gym kit were insulted by worshippers. The explanations shocked parents. “I find it unacceptable that my 16-year-old daughter cannot run in gym kit on the pretext that the mosque is close to the school playing field!”, the father of one 16-year-old pupil said angrily.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: ASBO Granted Against Wembley Teenager

A teenager yob who terrorised the streets of Wembley while in the company of his friends has been slapped with an Asbo.

Raheem Bourne, 17, from Wembley, has been banned from carrying out anti-social acts in any public place in Brent whilst in a group of two or more people.

If he breaks the terms of the two-year long order, which was granted at North West London Youth Court, he will be arrested and faces prosecution.

Sergeant Neil Tulloch, from Wembley Central Safer Neighbourhoods Team, said: “This individual has committed a lot of his anti-social behaviour in and around the Wembley Central ward area and mainly whilst in company of other youths.

“We hope also that it sends a message out to any other youths that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated in Wembley Central and the whole area of Brent and should others continue to behave in an anti social manner, they too will be monitored and evidence gathered in order to submit further Asbo.” applications on those individuals.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Ban Right-Wing Extremists, Urges Socialist Candidate

SOCIALIST by-election candidate Ralph Dyson wants far right ‘fascist’ organisations to be banned from a radio broadcast. Mr Dyson, who is standing for Trade Union and Socialists Against Cuts, says fascist organisations should not be given a platform at hustings organised by BBC Radio Sheffield on Monday. “I believe in free speech, but it would be an affront to democracy for that right to be applied to fascist parties, who threaten us all,” teacher Mr Dyson said. “These racists and fascists, who have been rejected by the vast majority of people, have tried to whip up racism by exploiting the grooming scandal in recent weeks. They should not be given airtime to use it as a platform to spread their filth and lies.”

Mr Dyson has asked the BBC to withdraw the invitations and called on the Respect and Labour candidates to support him. Rotherham Unite Against Fascism has also called a protest outside the Unity Centre where the hustings will take place before an invited audience between 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

[Reader comment by DavidMarshall on 24 November at 2:40 am.]

Typical Socialist calls people Fascists and then shuts them down like a typical fascist. The problem with Grooming gangs would not be an issue for the fascists if the fascist socialist left wing council and social services had dealt with the problem, It’s not lies, it’s facts and like most Socialists you don’t need the truth all you need is UAF thugs to do your dirty work and intimidation and demonisation.

[Reader comment by jack on 24 November at 8:51 am.]

The only acting the fascist here is Ralph Dyson. How many girls could have been saved if the likes of the fascist, Ralph Dyson spoke out. And to think he works in schools.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Cornish Girl, 15, Groomed on the Internet by Jahangir Karim

A 15-YEAR-OLD Cornish girl was groomed over the internet by a father-of-two who travelled from London to have sex with her.

Jahangir Karim, 39, was today jailed for five years at Truro Crown Court for six charges including grooming the teenager from a village near Helston using social networking websites and engaging in sexual activity with her in three different ways. She cannot be named for legal reasons.

He had also pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to attempting to incite children under 16 and under 13 to sexual activity.

The court heard he had claimed he was 18 on the websites and chatted with up to 23 children as young as seven on the internet, although his defence solicitor pointed out the sexual content was only with those aged 11 and older.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Crackdown on Sex in Prisons to Stop ‘Cosy’ Relationships Between Cell Mates

Chris Grayling, who took over the role in the September re-shuffle, is understood to be looking at banning prisoners from setting up “cosy, domestic” living arrangements as part of his drive to make sure jail is not seen as a comfortable place.

There is no data on how many inmates are in same-sex relationships but the prison authorities accept there is a “degree of inevitability” to sex in jails.

One source close to Mr Grayling: “We don’t want and we will not accept prisoners replicating cosy, domestic relationships by being able to share cells in our prisons.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Did He Take Maddie’s Secret to His Grave? Police Reopen Investigation Into Paedophile Who Was Living in Algarve When She Vanished

Police are making fresh investigations into whether dead paedophile Raymond Hewlett had anything to with the disappearance of missing Madeline McCann.

The 64-year-old pervert was living just an hour’s drive from where the youngster disappeared in the Algarve in May 2007 while she was on holiday with her parents.

Scotland Yard detectives now allegedly want to speak to a couple who the child molester befriended while they were on holiday and who allegedly told them gypsies had approached him asking to buy his children.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Decision Over UKIP Couple Fostering ‘Indefensible’ — Gove

Michael Gove has branded a decision by Rotherham council to remove three children from a foster couple because they belong to UKIP as “indefensible”.

The foster parents claim “no discussions” took place between them and the council prior to their removal. The children — who are European migrants — were removed by social workers who accused the unnamed couple of belonging to a “racist party”. Council leader Roger Stone said it was launching an immediate inquiry. The education secretary said the “wrong decision” was made “in the wrong way for the wrong reasons”. He added the department for education, under his leadership, would “ask the necessary questions” to determine what happened in this case.

‘Ideological and indefensible’

Mr Gove told the BBC: “It is entirely wrong for this couple to have been treated in this way. That’s why I believe we need a full explanation from the local authority as to why this decision was allowed to be taken. If we say you cannot foster children because you’re a member of a mainstream political party or because you have views on multiculturalism then that’s utterly wrong. This decision is arbitrary, ideological and indefensible.” The education secretary added that the government is bringing forward new laws in the Children and Families’ Bill to reverse the current position which takes into account ethnic and cultural factors when placing children for adoption…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Ed Miliband Calls for Investigation Over UKIP Fostering Row at Rotherham Council

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for an urgent investigation, saying “being a member of UKIP should not be a bar to adopting children”.

The Leader of the Opposition said Rotherham Council needed to conduct an urgent investigation into its controversial decision to remove three children from their foster parents because their membership of the UK Independence Party meant they supported “racist” policies.

“I don’t know all the facts of this case, but I am clear about this; that what matters is the future of children in Rotherham and elsewhere, and being a member of a political party like UKIP should not be a bar to fostering children,” said Ed Miliband…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Investigation Launched Into Why Couple’s Foster Children Were Taken From Them ‘After They Joined UKIP’

A council that broke up a foster family because the parents were members of the UK Independence Party (Ukip) was strongly criticised by the Education Secretary today for its ‘indefensible’ decision.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said social workers at the council had made ‘the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons’ and that he would be personally investigating and exploring steps to ‘deal with’ the situation.

‘The ideology behind their decision is actively harmful to children. We should not allow considerations of ethnic or cultural background to prevent children being placed with loving and stable families. We need more parents to foster, and many more to adopt.

‘Any council which decides that supporting a mainstream UK political party disbars an individual from looking after children in care is sending a dreadful signal that will only decrease the number of loving homes available to children in need.

‘I will be investigating just how this decision came to be made and what steps we need to take to deal with this situation.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: If We Agreed a Pact With UKIP, We Would Own Their Pain — And Their Problems

by Paul Goodman

A UKIP-related story has made a splash this morning. Here’s another that can easily be imagined on the front page of the Guardian or the Independent, before being highlighted the whole day long on the BBC, from Today to Newsnight. Maggie Chapman, a UKIP election agent, has tweeted what supporters might call light-hearted observations, and opponents — plus a very large number of people who are neither — would call racist jokes. “EastEnders is just so unrealistic,” one of them reads. “A Paki family planning to actually go home.”

There are more, including one playing on the verbal similarity beween Shiite — as in Shiite Muslims — and the swear word for excrement.

My point is not that UKIP is a racist party. Indeed, the opposite is true: UKIP is not a racist party. The first two words that describe it on its own google entry are “libertarian, non-racist”. Four of the five people photographed with Nigel Farage on the home page of its website are black. And if you google “BNP” on the site, up comes an article by the UKIP leader containing the words “BNP membership is not compatible with UKIP membership”. He writes them in the context of dual membership of UKIP and other parties. “We’ve always been open to dual membership,” he says, adding that he’s happy if UKIP members are also Labour or Conservative ones.

Why is this? The answer is obvious, and I’m afraid that it’s necessary to use some cliches to explain it. UKIP is happy to draw members from what most people would call its left — from the two biggest parties — and to make it as easy as possible for them to sign up. “Joining us is an easy thing to do,” Mr Farage is saying to Tory members disgruntled with David Cameron’s position on the EU or gay marriage or grammar schools: “Look, you don’t even have to leave the party you’ve been a member of for so long — you’re welcome here anyway.”

So why, then, the BNP bar? Because Mr Farage and the UKIP leadership, sitting as it does to the right of the Conservatives, is nervous of political activists who sit to the right of their own party. (I apologise again for using the cliche as a form of shorthand.) As I say, UKIP isn’t a racist party, but it does have, at least potentially, a racist problem — which takes us back to the Chapman tweets. This is bound to be so in a party that lives where it does on the political spectrum, and Mr Farage and co are smart to be wise to it.

Readers will wonder why I am dwelling on those tweets and not on the horrifying, Orwellian and infinitely serious story in today’s Daily Telegraph. The reason is that I want to make a point more original than the ritual condemnation of the Airstrip One behaviour of Rotherham Council. It is that the prospect of a pact with UKIP, and perhaps a merger, is usually probed in a very narrow way — in other words, in terms of what it would perhaps mean for Britain’s policy towards the EU, and how voters express a view on it at the ballot box. Indeed, it is so narrow as to be blinkered — or, to use another image from the senses, emotionally tone-deaf. The Chapman tweets and the Rotherham horror should remind us that a Conservative-UKIP pact would associate the two parties with each other in the minds of voters — just as two people are associated after they co-habit. Voters would get into the habit of lumping them together. The Rotherham couple would in effect be our members. But we would also own Mrs Chapman and her tweets. Are we sure we’ve thought through all the consequences?

[Reader comment by PhilKean1 on 24 November 2012 at about 10 am.]

I find it incredibly ironic to raise concerns about the possible consequences for Conservatives of a Tory-UKIP Alliance when — to the contrary — I would be worried that it would be UKIP that would be at risk of being tainted.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Miliband Joins By-Election Fight

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband was on the campaign trail in Rotherham today supporting by-election candidate Sarah Champion. The Doncaster North MP joined the party’s hope for the Rotherham seat vacated by Denis MacShane and visited Rotherham College of Arts and Technology to meet college apprentices working towards bricklaying and carpentry qualifications. They went on to meet members of the public and stallholders in the town centre’s indoor market.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Ozour: Jail for Death Blocker

Mitcham, Harrow, Wandsworth

A gang member who blocked the escape route of a man chased and knifed to death has been jailed for seven and a half years. Chukwurunim Ozour, 20, was one of four men who attacked Mahad Mohammed, also 20, in a stairwell on a south London estate after luring him with the promise of cannabis. The group planned to rip their victim off by selling him a weighted package instead of the actual drug. Mr Mohammed was heard screaming for help as he tried to escape the ambush before collapsing next to the entrance of a block of flats in Battersea.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Shut Down Rochdale Takeaway in ‘Child Grooming’ Probe

A Rochdale takeaway has been shut down as part of a new probe into the alleged sexual exploitation of children.

Tariq’s Pizza Plus, in Milnrow, was slapped with a three-month closure order by a magistrates court after an application from police and licensing officers.

A man who previously worked at the takeaway has also been banned from associating with a number of named people said to be ‘at risk of sexual exploitation’.

The probe was launched after Rochdale council received a number of alerts.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Rotherham’s Stasi Have Handed UKIP a PR Victory. Shame They Had to Tear Apart a Foster Family in the Process

by Damian Thompson


We quote Nigel Farage describing the situation as “a bloody outrage”. He used stronger language than that when I spoke to him, and rightly so.

[Reader comment by cargill55 on 24 November 2012 at about 10am.]

UKIP is hated by the politically correct ideologues in state services because it stands up for reasonable British people who despise the politically correct, arrogant , authoritarian and interfering state shoved down our throats every day.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Rotherham Council: UKIP Support Made Couple Unsuitable

Joyce Thacker, the Director for Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council says that UKIP’s commitment to ending multiculturalism made a couple who supported the party unsuitable for fostering children with specific cultural needs. She told the Today Programme that the three children were always going to be removed from the couple as they were only fostered by them on an “emergency placement”. The authority had been previously criticised by judges for not finding foster parents who could support the children’s cultural needs. But she has denied claims that the decision to remove the two children meant that the authority thought that UKIP was “a racist party”.

It’s a fine balance between a practice matter we had to take. It wasn’t an easy decision to take, I assure you, so the children were always going to be moved on to another longer-term placement. I have to think about their needs. If the party mantra is ending the active promotion of multiculturalism, I have to think about that.

These children are not local children to Rotherham, it’s not through any fault of their own that they’re there and they’re in a very difficult situation, so I have to think about their longer term needs.

- Joyce Thacker, the Director for Children and Young People’s Services

[JP note: Perhaps Thacker (Sack her?) should give thought to her long term future as Director for Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council. Better still, Rotherham Council should consider its future if it continues to promote the cul-de-sac of multiculturalism. See this report from 24 September 2012 Vulnerable white girl, known to have been abused from the age of 12, was offered Urdu and Punjabi lessons by Rotherham Council to ‘educate her’]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Rotherham Council Remove Foster Children From Couple Because They Support UKIP

There is a chilling account in the Daily Telegraph of children being removed from foster carers by Rotherham Council. The foster carers were doing an “exemplary” job and the three ethnic minority children were thriving. However the social workers discovered that the couple were supporters of UKIP, and on those grounds the children were removed. The husband and wife have been fostering for nearly seven years, but fear that the council will not place children with them again. The couple “are in their late 50s and live in a neat detached house in a village in South Yorkshire. The husband was a Royal Navy reservist for more than 30 years and works with disabled people, while his wife is a qualified nursery nurse.” They are former Labour voters.

The Telegraph reports: Just under eight weeks into the placement, they received a visit out of the blue from the children’s social worker at the Labour-run council and an official from their fostering agency. They were told that the local safeguarding children team had received an anonymous tip-off that they were members of Ukip. The wife recalled: “I was dumbfounded. Then my question to both of them was, ‘What has Ukip got to do with having the children removed?’ Then one of them said, ‘Well, Ukip have got racist policies’. The implication was that we were racist. [The social worker] said Ukip does not like European people and wants them all out of the country to be returned to their own countries. “‘m sat there and I’m thinking, ‘What the hell is going off here?’ because I wouldn’t have joined Ukip if they thought that. “‘ve got mixed race in my family. I said, ‘I am absolutely offended that you could come in my house and accuse me of being a member of a racist party’.” The wife said she told the social worker and agency official: “These kids have been loved. These kids have been treated no differently to our own children. We wouldn’t have taken these children on if we had been racist.”

The social worker told the wife: “We would not have placed these children with you had we known you were members of Ukip because it wouldn’t have been the right cultural match.”

The paper quotes Tim Loughton, the former children’s minister, saying that “being a supporter of a mainstream political party is not a deal-breaker when it comes to looking after children if it means they can have a loving family home.” Well it obviously is in Rotherham. Mr Loughton understates the objection when he says it shouldn’t be a “deal-breaker.” It is a grotesque in a free society for it to be a consideration at all.

I wonder where the anonymous tip-off came from. A Labour councillor canvassed them and found they had switched to UKIP and passed this on to a municipal apparatchik to ensure the children were seized? Was a UKIP membership card spotted during a social work visit? Was incriminating evidence of UKIP mem bership found in a recycling sack as part of a surveillance operation? One reason to be proud to be British is that this sort of thing happens in other countries, but not here. Except that it has. With stories of this type I always look for the official response from the council once the issue has been highlighted. Is this one of those cases where a mistake has been acknowledged, an apology issued, the explanation given that junior staff had acted in breach of the general policy? No. A spokesman for Rotherham Council says:

“After a group of sibling children were placed with agency foster carers, issues were raised regarding the long-term suitability of the carers for these particular children. With careful consideration, a decision was taken to move the children to alternative care. We continue to keep the situation under review.”

Rotherham Borough Council’s Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Joyce Thacker, tells the BBC: “We always try to place children in a sensible cultural placement. These children are not UK children and we were not aware of the foster parents having strong political views. There are some strong views in the UKIP party and we have to think of the future of the children.”

So the prejudice shown by Rotherham Council was not a random lapse. It is deliberate, firmly established policy. That makes the scandal much worse. If it is not illegal already then it certainly should be — at the very least there needs to be some clarification on this point. The councillors should take some responsibility. Cllr Paul Lakin is the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families Services. The scandal has happened on his watch. He should r esign. This is a council where the councillors insist of travelling first class at the Council Taxpayers expense.

Rotherham has 390 children in care or “Looked After Children” as they are known. It has a higher proportion (70 per 10,000) than in England (59 per 10,000), and higher than the average in Yorkshire. For Rotherham children in care the outcomes are even worse than for LAC children nationally. What are they learning? The measure for 11-year-olds is reaching Level 4 or above in Key Stage 2 tests. Among all children nationally the number of children who reach this is 74%. For children in care nationally it is 40%. For Rotherham it is 35%. In terms of offending by children in care the national percentage convicted or subject to a final warning or reprimand was 7.3% nationally. For Rotherham it was 8.7%. Substance misuse is 4.3% nationally but 7.6% in Rotherham.


Rotherham Council is putting political bigotry ahead of the interests of children. The social workers of Rotherham make false accusations of racism against UKIP supporters while ignoring the institutional racism which is keeping black children in care. One of the reasons that adopted children fare so much better than children in care is that there is not the disruption of being shunted between different foster carers. Yet in Rotherham this is done without valid reasons. The state should be the the servant, not the master of the people. I am angry about the politics of what has happened, and the discrimination against the couple. But the victims are the children.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Woman Kicked in the Head by Robbery Gang in Harlesden

Victim, 31, was attacked by seven-strong male mob

The hunt is on to find a gang of thugs who kicked a woman in her head during a vicious robbery in Harlesden.

The 31-year-old was in Fairlight Avenue when the seven-strong male mob approached her from behind and pushed her to the floor.

Two of them kicked her in the head and body while a third tried to snatch her bag.

She refused to let go and they fled the scene on foot.

The suspects are all black.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Why Cameron Will Regret His ‘Fruitcakes and Loonies’ Insult

Following their devastating defeat in the Corby by-election earlier this month, the Tories are seriously divided over strategy. Some MPs understand that apart from Labour, the most pressing electoral challenge they face is the increasingly popular Ukip. It won 14.3 per cent of votes in Corby, trailing the Tories by just 4,368 votes. However, others — including the party’s leadership — pig-headedly refuse to grasp this obvious threat…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UKIP Fury Over Foster Children Move

A council has come under fire for breaking up a foster family because the parents were members of the UK Independence Party. Three children were removed from the care of a married couple because social workers were concerned about their “cultural and ethnic needs.” The South Yorkshire foster parents claimed they had been told Ukip — which campaigns for British withdrawal from the European Union and tougher controls on immigration — was “racist”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Vienna Dialogue Center Opens Monday

The King Abdullah International Center for Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue in Vienna will be opened on Monday in the presence of Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other dignitaries. More than 600 delegates including religious leaders from around the world are expected to attend the opening. The Vienna center was established on the initiative of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, said Faisal bin Muammar, its secretary-general.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Wales: Sex Assault Charges

A MAN accused of sexually assaulting two women and a man has appeared in court.

Lotfi Ali Belhadj, 48, of no fixed address, appeared at Swansea Magistrates’ Court by videolink in connection with the alleged October 10 and 11 offences.

He was remanded in custody until November 29.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Former Croatian Premier Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

Sanader was accused of corruption and abuse of power

(ANSAmed) — Zagreb, November 20 — Former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Tuesday after being found guilty of charges of corruption and abuse of power.

A court ruled that Sanader received a kickback of nearly $695,000 for arranging a loan from the Austrian Hypo Bank in 1995.

He is the most high-profile politician ever to have been given a prison sentence in Croatia, which is set to join the European Union on July 1.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EIB: Over 50% Ouarzazate’s Plant From EU Financing

Signed 300 mln agreement to support first phase project

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 20 — The big solar plant of Ouarzazate, the first in North Africa, will count on a financing EU support of 345 million euros, over 50% of the total cost of the project. A financial commitment of 300 million euros was signed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Development Agency for France (AFD), KfW Entwicklungsbank (KfW) and MASEN, promoter of the Ouarzazate solar complex in Morocco.

This European financing is supporting the first phase of the Ouarzazate solar complex, which involves the construction of a parabolic-trough concentrated solar power (CSP) plant with a gross installed capacity of between 125 and 160 MW and a minimum energy storage capacity of 3 hours. The project will be the first under the Moroccan Solar Plan and the largest project so far under the Mediterranean Solar Plan, whose aim is to deploy 20 GW of additional renewable energy capacity by 2020. The Ouarzazate solar complex aims to reach a potential capacity of 500 MW, which is equivalent to powering a city of 1,500,000 inhabitants. The first phase of the Ouarzazate solar complex will be operational in 2015.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Italy Financed 13 Prenatal Clinics for Poor Women

A two-year, 1+ mln euro programe for poorest areas of Lebanon

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, NOVEMBER 22 — A two-year international cooperation program run by the Italian foreign ministry has financed prenatal clinics in 13 state hospitals in the poorest areas of Lebanon, Italian Ambassador Giuseppe Morabito told reporters at a press conference here on Thursday.

Funded with more than one million euros, the 2010-2012 program by Italy’s Cooperation for Development entity, which is part of the foreign ministry, was set up to provide care to pregnant Lebanese women with no health coverage, to train medical personnel, and to renovate and equip clinics.

Italy is ready to examine “every possibility of continuing to support the Lebanese health ministry” beyond the end of this particular program, Morabito said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algerians Show Little Interest in Upcoming Local Elections

ALGIERS, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) — With Algerian political parties eagerly campaigning for the upcoming municipal and provincial legislative elections, the general public, especially the young generation, shows little interest in casting ballot…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egyptian Judges Defy President Morsi

(AGI) Cairo, Nov. 24 — The Judges Club of Alexandria was first in defying President Morsi. Now all Egyptian judges have called a strike to reject a decree by President Mohamed Morsi, which grants him sweeping powers that put him beyond judicial oversight. The judges have gathered in the Egyptian capital and have asked the president to reinstate Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, the prosecutor general who had to resign following the decree.

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

Egypt: Opt Contingency Planning, Despite Ceasefire

Cairo — Aid agencies in Egypt are updating contingency plans in case an uncertain ceasefire, agreed on 21 November between Israel and Hamas, the ruling party in the Gaza Strip, does not hold. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are preparing for the possible need to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance from Egypt into Gaza and to support potential Palestinian refugees entering Egypt, in case the ceasefire fails and the situation in the Gaza Strip escalates.

“We stand ready, but we hope it does not happen,” Mohamed Dayri, head of UNHCR in Egypt, told IRIN…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

It Happens at Night: Genital Mutilation in Egypt

Despite being legally banned, female genital mutilation in Egypt is on the rise, causing lifelong pains, health problems and even death for the women who undergo it. Islamists are pushing to legalize the procedure again.

Umm Mohamed lives in a part of Cairo where others dump their garbage. The 47-year-old Muslim woman has experienced many hardships in her life. Putting on a brave face, she says she is used to being daily surrounded by dirt and misery. But what really hurts, she admits, is the pain she personally had to endure 35 years ago.

When Mohamed was 12, nearly all parents from the quarter where she lived brought their daughters of the same age to a hair dresser. “We didn’t know why,” she says, “but we were all very excited, as each girl had just been given a new, white dress.”

In celebration of the day, the girls’ hands had been painted with henna. They were ever so proud. But then came the moment of shock: “Suddenly this man, who was really a stranger to us, started to undress us,” she recalls. “Then he got out his razor blade.” All the girls underwent the procedure which mutilated them for life — without narcotics and without even minimal hygene standards.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Morsi’s Egypt: More Power, More Persecution

Analysts see expanded authority as precursor to state, mob massacre of Christians

Christian human-rights analysts warn the expanded powers seized by Egypt’s president means more anti-Christian persecution to come.

In a set of legal maneuvers this week, Muslim Brotherhood-anointed President Mohamed Morsi moved to sidestep the courts and make his office immune to judicial oversight. With no constitution to restrain him, Morsi holds broad executive and legislative authority.

Middle East analyst Theodore Shoebat’s concern is what Morsi’s power grab means for Egypt’s Christians. He references two regimes — one ancient, one modern — to illustrate what happens when leaders opposed to Christianity take control.

“Before Nero inflicted a full persecution on the church, he at first seized full control of the Roman government,” Shoebat said.

“In order for us to comprehend how Christians will be eventually persecuted under a Muslim Brotherhood Egypt, we must look to North Sudan, a country also run by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Omar al-Bashir,” he continued.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sexual Harassment in Tahrir Square Sparks Activism

Women are increasingly afraid to walk the streets of Cairo, worried they will be attacked or groped in public. Nihal Saad Zaghloul has taken on a daring task to put an end to sexual harrassment in Egypt.

Nihal Saad Zaghloul was a victim of assault when she and her friends were walking through Tahrir Square, an event she described as startling. Months later she bravely returned to the spot of the attack to attend a protest supporting violence against women. Now a civic rights activist, the 26-year-old has expanded her involvement in the initiative and has begun a support group called Bassma, meaning imprint. The group’s objective: to call attention to the surge of sexual harassment in Egypt and to expose the forces behind the widespread aggression towards women.

Deutsche Welle: Having an impact, leaving an impression, that is the mission of your support group. Within the Egyptian community, what are some positive responses you’ve received about the movement?

Nihal Saad Zaghloul: Many people have started to break the silence and talk about experiences that they faced or that they saw and people started saying no to sexual harassment and standing up for their rights. Women have started standing up for their rights, and this is one of the biggest achievements.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Why Owen Jones Was Wrong About Gaza

by Jake Wallis Simons

Twitter went mental. Finally, here was somebody saying what a lot of people in the country — particularly on the Left — were thinking. Why on earth had William Hague, Barack Obama, and the leaders of other democratic countries been supporting Israel’s bombardment of Gaza? I mean, America people could understand. But France? Europe? Britain? Where was the normal condemnation of the Jewish state? Why were Iain Duncan Smith, Yvette Cooper, Charles Kennedy and Deborah Meaden sticking up for Israel? What was going on? Bias, surely. Bias…

Supporters of Israel often state that if the Arab militants were to put down their arms, there would be peace; if Israel were to put down arms, however, there would be a massacre. […] This is the threat that Israel faces. And, as we have seen in Afghanistan and on the streets of London, we face it too.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Women at War: Why We Make it Our Place to be on the Front Line

Being female in conflict zones around the world can often have its benefits

You can be bombed while sleeping, kidnapped, sexually abused, beaten, jailed and shot. Such is the life of a journalist who reports on conflict. As Israelis and Palestinians traded rockets and missiles last week — killing mostly civilians on both sides — the media, too, came under fire. Several buildings used by journalists were hit, including the one inhabited by Sky News’s Middle East team. They escaped — by sheer luck — and carried on reporting. But at least three other journalists were killed in a little over a week, one lost his leg and another saw his house obliterated and baby son killed. Yet it is notable that we are seeing more women reporting from conflict zones, as Telegraph correspondent Phoebe Greenwood observed from Gaza in her column this week…

[JP note: See and reader comment by silverdog on

11 May 2012 at 11:32 am ‘She shouldn’t be sacked. She should be converted to Islam, forced to marry a muslim pedophile, and helicopter dropped into Tahrir Square for the upcoming Egyptian election results riot/rape fest.’

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran Struggles With Medicine Shortage

Medicine is getting more and more expensive in Iran. Experts blame the trend on currency fluctuations and economic sanctions. Meanwhile, patients are the ones to suffer.

Doctor Nosrat Firusian remembers a time when he gave a patient an Iranian anesthetic. A few minutes later, the patient was still staring at him wide awake.

“He simply didn’t fall asleep,” Firusian recounted to DW.

Since then, the Iranian doctor living in Germany brings a big suitcase full of medicine with him every six weeks to Tehran.

Just a year ago, Firusian said, it was still possible to buy German medicine in Iran itself. But now the medication that his cancer patients need to survive has become way too expensive. He said in just eight weeks, prices have doubled, or in some cases tripled. Firusian, who is head of oncology at a hospital in western German town of Recklinghausen, knows of colleagues who face similar problems. Some have trouble getting medicine for children with leukemia.

Michael Tockuss, board member of the German-Iranian chamber of commerce, blames the problem on the EU’s sanctions on Iran. The measures are intended by Brussels to force Tehran back to the negotiating table and give up its nuclear ambitions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iraq-Turkey: Tensions Rise Amid Mutual Accusations, Oil

Also over Ankara’s refusal to extradite fugitive Iraqi VP

(ANSAmed) — BAGHDAD, NOVEMBER 22 — Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki on Thursday replied to Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s accusation that the Iraqi government is trying to drag its own country into civil war in an attempt to seize Kurdish oil. “Erdogan should concentrate on internal affairs in his own country, whose tendency towards a civil war for ethnic and sectarian reasons causes us concern,” Maliki said in a statement on his official website. “Our advice to Erdogan is to face up to the minorities problem, and to stop embroiling Turkey in the problems of other countries in the region.” Erdogan on Wednesday professed himself worried about a “possible conflict on oil” in Iraq after a rise in tension between Iraq and its autonomous region of Kurdistan over control of the disputed Tuz Khurmatu oil field. Relations between Turkey and Iraq have been tense since Ankara’s refusal to extradite fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tareq Al-Hashemi, who was handed a death sentence by a Baghdad court on charges of committing various political assassinations.

The two countries are also at odds over Turkish military incursions into Iraq to pursue separatist rebels from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The raids were allowed under a 1996 agreement with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, which Iraq now objects to.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy-Qatar Invest 4bln Euro in Joint Business Venture

Itallian premier ‘satisfied’, corporate governance is equal

(ANSAmed) — ROME — The Italian Strategic Fund (ISF), controlled by the CDP and Qatar Holding (QH) signed an agreement today for the establishment of a joint venture called ‘IQ Made in Italy’.

The ISF and QH pledged 4 billion euro to the project over the next four years with an initial installment of 300 million euro. The agreement was signed during Mario Monti’s visit to Qatar today.

According to a statement IQ Made in Italy Venture will invest in Italian businesses operating under the ‘Made In Italy’ umbrella. These include food production, fashion, design, tourism and lifestyle. ßß”By combining the local know-how of the FSI with the global comprehensive knowledge of QH, the venture is able to provide companies with a unique set of skills that enhance growth processes” said the CDP, a joint-stock company under public control.

The FSI and QH will run IQ Made in Italy with joint governance.

“This first accord with Gulf investors is of great importance for the whole group”, said CDP President Franco Bassanini, “because it will foster the development of other co-investment deals with both the IFS and other instruments of the Group”. “We are really pleased with the accord with a partner of high quality”, said IFS President Giovanni Gorno Tempini.

“The joint venture shows how certain sectors of the Italian economy can be tempting for foreign investors who understand the potential for global expansion”, he added. Italian Premier Mario Monti on Monday said he is satisfied with Italy-Qatar cooperation. “It is multiform, with a great deal of commercial relations in both directions, and which today are moving on the investment front,” the premier said.

The premier also voiced his satisfaction at the signing of a joint venture agreement between Italy’s Fondo Strategico Italiano (FSI) and Kuwait’s Al Qurain Holding Company (QH). “Corporate governance is equal, and the Italian part assumes a good finalization of these investments,” the premier said. He used this example to point out that anyonw who thinks foreign acquisitions in Italy are a way to sell out “is making a huge mistake.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mega Library to Open in Doha, But Qataris Not Book Lovers

UN report: less than 2% of Arab World reads a book a year

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, 20 NOVEMBER — A mega library in Doha is under construction, although the Qatari people are not known for their love of literature. Set to open in 2014, the National Library of Qatar, designed by architect Rem Koolhaas, is kitted out with 300 computers, access to over 60 online databases and millions of e-books. But encouraging the Qatari people to read is an uphill struggle. Huge in-roads to reducing illiteracy have been made: 20% of the population couldn’t read or write in 1990 versus 5% in 2012. But according to a 2010 UN report less than 2% of the Arab world reads at least one book a year. Reading is a foreign concept. Libraries in Doha are scarce.

Virgin Megastore — mostly known for cook books and best sellers, is the capital’s most revered reading establishment. Claudia Lux, heading up the National Library of Qatar, hopes that the project will encourage Qataris to pick up a book.

“Qatar’s National Library is a place between home and work where Qataris can socialize, spend time with their families and experience culture”, said Lux.

Doomsayers predict that the library could end up like other projects in Qatar: unloved. Millions of dollars have been pumped into museums, concert halls and galleries in the region which have failed to attract the local population.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East Leads World in Negative Emotions

Iraqis the most negative worldwide

WASHINGTON, D.C. — People living in Iraq, the Palestinian Territories, Bahrain, and a few other Middle Eastern countries are among the most likely worldwide to experience a lot of negative emotions on a daily basis, according to Gallup’s Negative Experience Index. Iraq’s score of 59 on the index in 2011 — which is based on respondents’ reports of experiencing anger, stress, worry, sadness, and physical pain — is the highest in the world. The Palestinian Territories placed a distant second with a score of 43.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: 1200 Entered Islam in Khober in 2011: Reports

AL-KHOBER: As many as 1213 foreigners residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including 150 women, embraced Islam in Khober last year, a new record of Muslims is embracing Islam in Saudi Arabia over the last years. In a statement, Sheikh Jumaa Al-Rimaihi, Director of the Islamic Call, Guidance and Foreign Communities Illuminating Office in Al-Khober, said the newcomers include Europeans, Americans, Asian and Africans, with the Filipinos (1005) representing the largest entering community.

[JP note: Islamic design flaw: entry, but no exit illumininations. If all else fails in Rotherham, Joyce Thacker could take up a post somewhere as Director of Multicultural Call, Guidance and Illuminating Officer-at-Large. Give her a bishopric perhaps?]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Thousands Join ‘Beat Diabetes’ Walkathon

More than 2,000 people joined the second annual “Beat Diabetes Walkathon” organized here by the retail conglomerate Al Bandar Trading (BT) in support of a global call for action against diabetes. The walkathon, under the title ‘Efhas Taslam’ led by Prince Bandar bin Saud K. Al-Saud, chairman of Al Bandar Trading, has become an iconic annual event to raise awareness about diabetes in Saudi Arabia drawing participation from all sections of society.

According to the MoH, the number of Saudis affected by diabetes exceeds 4.5 million mark and its prevalence is growing every day in this country. The location chosen for the historic walk was beside BT’s Centrepoint and Home Centre outlet at Exit-9 in Riyadh.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: King Abdulaziz Qur’an Competition Days Away

Riyadh: As many as 164 Qur’an memorizers from 53 countries will participate in the 34th King Abdulaziz International Competition for Holy Qur’an Momraization, organized by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance in Makkah after nine days.

Organizers said the contest consists of five branches.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Syria: Turkey Missile Plan is a ‘Provocation’

Syria condemned plans by Turkey to site Patriot missiles along its border as “a new act of provocation”, after weeks of cross-border tension has raised fears that the Syrian civil war could embroil the wider region.

In its first response since Turkey asked its Nato partners for the deployment of the missiles earlier this week, the Syrian foreign ministry said: “There is no reason for panic because Syria respects the sovereignty and sanctity of Turkish territory and the interests of the Turkish people.” An unnamed official told state television: “Syria stresses its condemnation of the Turkish government’s latest provocative step. “Syria holds [Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan responsible for the militarisation of the situation at the border between Syria and Turkey, and the increase of tension and destruction to the detriment of the Syrian and Turkish peoples.” Turkey and Nato insist that the deployment of surface-to-air missiles along its long border would be purely “defensive”, citing examples in recent weeks when fighting in Syrian border towns has spilled across the frontier and wounded Turkish citizens. In a concerted effort, Syrian allies Iran and Rus sia warned that the move could spark a regional conflict…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Survey Shows Majority Want Constitutional Secularism

After Erdogan’s party proposed banning loyalty oath to Ataturk

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 22 — A majority of Turks do not want Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan to erode the secularist legacy of nation-founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as enshrined in the nation’s constitution, a Konda Research Institute survey showed on Thursday.

According to the survey commissioned by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV), 82% of respondents want Ataturk’s principles preserved in the constitution, and 50.6% said secularism should remain in the constitution with no alterations. Another 47% said they want secularism maintained, with further specifications on the relations between religion and state, and just 8.7% said they want it purged from the constitution entirely. However, 76.3% agreed that public employees should be allowed to wear Islamic veils if they so choose.

A week ago, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) proposed that lawmakers should no longer be required to swear loyalty to Ataturk’s principles and the secular republic when taking their oath of office, fueling opposition fears that Erdogan has an “occult agenda” of Islamization.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey-Syria Standoff: NATO Missiles Readied, Kurdish Fighters on Border

Syria has lashed out at Turkey’s “provocative” request to deploy NATO surface-to-air missiles on the countries’ shared border. The batteries may be installed in a matter of weeks, in a buildup that could further flare tensions in the turbulent zone.

Ankara has asked its NATO partners to station Patriot missile batteries along its southern border, claiming they are needed to protect Turkey’s national security. The system can shoot down aircraft and some missiles at a range of up to 600 kilometers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US and Russian Diplomats Renew Their Rejection of Blasphemy Laws

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation held a symposium on Monday regarding blasphemy against Islamic values, in its headquarters in Jeddah. The symposium panel included Ambassador Mohammad Tayeb, the director general of the ministry of foreign affairs office in Makkah, Serji Kozinsof, the Russian consul general in Jeddah, and Anne Casper, the US consul general in Jeddah. The three dignitaries discussed at length the recent American film that mocked Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the violent reaction it sparked around the Muslim world.

Tayeb briefly retraced the background of the conflict between Islam and the West, beginning with the history of the Crusades, in the 11th century, and concluding with establishment of the Jewish state in the 20th century.

He added that despite the mistrust and conflict, serious steps are being taken to initiate religious reconciliation and dialogue, epitomized in 2008, when King Abdullah visited the Vatican. This significant visit resulted in the creation of the International Center for Religion and Cultural Dialogue in Vienna.

Tayeb further highlighted the OIC’s efforts at advocating against the rising tide of Islamophobia around the world, and in instituting the Islamophobia observatory.

In her speech, Casper retouched upon the contents of President Obama’s momentous speech in Cairo in 2009, reminding the audience how the president spoke candidly about the tensions that exist between the United States of America and the Muslim world. She said he had called for a sustained effort to listen, learn, respect one another, and to seek common ground. Casper reaffirmed the US government’s rejection of the demeaning contents of the film that denigrated Islam, as well as their denunciation of violence.

“I made it clear during my meeting with Mohammad Tayeb our rejection of the contents of that film and also our rejection to violence in response to this movie, even if it is an undignified form of expression,” she said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Where’s My Wife?’ Electronic SMS Tracker Notifies Saudi Husbands

As of last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

“The authorities are using technology to monitor women,” said Saudi author and journalist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the “state of slavery under which women are held” in the kingdom. “This is technology used to serve backwardness in order to keep women imprisoned,” she added.

Protests from ordinary Saudis soon appeared on Twitter mocking the decision.

“Hello Taliban, herewith some tips from the Saudi e-government!” read one post.

“Why don’t you cuff your women with tracking ankle bracelets too?” wrote a woman identifying herself as “Israa”.

“If I need an SMS to let me know my wife is leaving Saudi Arabia, then I’m either married to the wrong woman or need a psychiatrist,” tweeted Hisham.

But what provoked the new control method? Local media has reported that controversy caused by the escape of a Saudi woman to Sweden in recent month triggered the move.

The Saudi woman was reported to have converted to Christianity and fled the country, but she denied earlier reports of her conversion and said she wants to return to Saudi Arabia, local daily Al-Yaum reported in July.

It isn’t just the Saudi Arabian authorities that want to restrict women’s movements. From Payvan Iran News

Lawmakers in Iran are preparing to consider legislation that may drastically alter an adult woman’s ability to obtain a passport and travel outside the country.

The draft law, set to go before the 290-seat Majlis, stipulates that single women up to the age of 40 must receive official permission from their father or male guardian in order to obtain travel documents. Under current law, all Iranians under 18 years of age — both male and female — must receive paternal permission before receiving a passport. Married women must receive their husband’s approval to receive the documents.

Critics say the draft law is the latest attack on women in a country whose Islamic leaders are eager to scale back a burgeoning rights movement.

Iran’s civil code overwhelmingly favors fathers and husbands in all personal matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and child custody.

Girls may be legally married as early as 13, and some lawmakers argue the age may, under Islamic interpretation, drop as low as 9. All women require permission from a male guardian to marry, regardless of their age.

Under Iranian law, women are also strictly compromised in terms of rights to compensation and giving legal testimony.. The draft law on passports and travel comes just months after Iran announced it was closing dozens of university-level courses to women across the country.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Scots Soldiers in Afghanistan Tell of Working Under the Cloud of ‘Green-on-Blue’ Killings

THERE have been 12 such killings this year — compared with nine in the previous three years — and the Taliban want the psychological shockwave of such murders to crush the morale of our troops.

NEAR a tiny checkpoint in Helmand, two Scots Guards work with Afghan counterparts to clear the area of makeshift bombs. Improvised explosive devices have been the scourge of what is Afghanistan’s bloodiest battleground for 11 years. Yet in this insurgent heartland, the courageous Scots troops deployed here now fear another terror tactic more than the bomb blasts, sniper fire or ambushes that happen on a daily basis. These men realise that the Afghans working beside them, fighting with them and eating with them, may not be brothers in arms. Armed to the teeth, they just might be traitors with murder in mind…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Seven People Killed in Pakistan Shiite Procession

Pakistani officials say a bomb blast near a minority Shi’ite religious procession has killed seven people, including at least three children, and wounded more than a dozen other people…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

China: In Addition to Corruption, CPP Increasingly Caught Up in Sex Scandals

After the astonishing cases of Bo Xilai and ling Jihua’s son, a new sex scandal has hit the party. A top Chongqing official was removed from office for “improper sexual relations” with a young woman, this despite his denials. For now, appeals by top party bosses for “new moral cleanliness” are falling on deaf ears.

Beijing (AsiaNews) — The Chinese Communist Party is once more caught up in a major sex scandal. After the cases of Bo Xilai and Ling Jihua, a district official in Chongqing, Lei Zhengfu, was removed from office on Friday after sex photos and videos of him were leaked online, the People’s Daily reported on Friday following confirmation from local officials. Lei was party secretary in Chongqing’s Beibei district. In Beijing Party, officials immediately ordered a formal inquiry.

This scandal broke just days after journalist Ji Xuguang posted a photo on Sina Weibo microblogging service (China’s twitter), showing a naked man and woman having sex. Ji said the photo was a screen shot of a video (pictured) of a man, Lei, who was having “improper sexual relations” with a young woman friend surnamed, Zhao.

On another post on the same website, Ji also questioned Lei over whether he had ordered police to detain Zhao without charges for a month.

The journalist claimed he contacted Lei on the phone. “Lei denied knowing Zhao . . . . He said the video was fake . . . he not only denied my allegation, but also said ‘we could make friends,’ on the phone.” Despite the attempted case of malfeasance, Ji went ahead anyway and made the affair public.

Famous across the country since September 2012 when he broke the story of the Luoyang sex slave case, in which a man kept six women as “sex slaves” in a secret basement prison in the city of Luoyang, Henan province, Ji also revealed that government officials had tried to suppress the story’s release.

What is clear is that the connection between sex and politics is shaking the Communist Party at its foundations. Despite appeals by top party brass against corruption and immoral behaviour, the latest by newly elected party chief Xi Jinping, sex scandals continue.

The best known cases in recent years are those Bo Xilai, disgraced former party chief in Chongqing who allegedly had hundreds of lovers, and Ling Gu, son of Ling Jihua, a former aide to President Hu Jintao.

The young Ling crashed the Ferrari he was driving at high speed in the streets of Beijing. Police found his half-naked body, and that of two escorts who were travelling with him.

Another case goes back to 2008 when violence broke out in Guizhou province after police officially ruled the death of a 15-year-old girl a suicide.

Her family rejected the official story, insisting that she was raped, killed and then thrown into a river. Locals said that the culprit in the rape-murder was the son of a top provincial official who was protected by police.

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

China Publishes 1st Official Map of Sansha City

A working staff presents the map of Sansha city at Xidan Books Building in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 24, 2012. The first official map of the newly-established Sansha city in south China’s Hainan Province was published on Saturday. (Xinhua/Liu Changlong)

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

China’s Toxic Milk Whistleblower Murdered

The man who first alerted authorities to what would become the melamine-tainted milk scandal has been murdered. Jiang Weisuo, 44, was attacked by unidentified men in Xi’an city two weeks ago. On Friday, he passed away from his wounds.

Authorities have said they have one suspect in custody, but have released no other information. Calls from NTD were diverted.

[…] Jiang was an operator of a dairy company in Shaanxi province. In 2006 he reported that local dairy companies were putting dangerous chemicals in their milk products.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

India Says China’s New Passport Maps Unacceptable

India responded Saturday to China’s newly revised passports that show disputed territory near their shared border as part of China by issuing Chinese citizens visas embossed with New Delhi’s own maps.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid says the Chinese passport map showing India’s Arunachal Pradesh state and the Himalayan region of Aksai Chin as part of China is “unacceptable.”

India retaliated by starting to issue visas to Chinese citizens with a map of India that includes all territories claimed by New Delhi.

The new Chinese passports have also upset the Philippines and Vietnam because they show disputed parts of the South China Sea as belonging to China.

In New Delhi, China is viewed with suspicion as a longtime ally and weapons supplier to Pakistan, India’s bitter rival. For Beijing, the presence in India of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and 120,000 other exiles from Tibet remains a source of tension.

India says China controls 41,440 square kilometers (16,000 square miles) of its territory in Aksai Chin in Kashmir, while Beijing claims that the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a 1,050-kilometer (650-mile) border with the Chinese-run region of Tibet, is rightfully Chinese territory.

India and China fought a brief border war in 1962, and large stretches of the India-China border are still undemarcated.

The territorial disputes remain unresolved despite 15 rounds of talks, but relations have improved in recent years as China and India’s trade has grown exponentially to reach more than $75 billion last year.

However, the trade remains heavily skewed in favor of China, which is now India’s biggest trading partner.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Extremists Arrested After Mosque Threat

Witnesses have told the Social Justice Network that two suspected Islamic extremists have been arrested after threatening a mosque in Sydney’s south.

Two suspected Islamic extremists have been arrested after threatening a mosque in Sydney’s south, witnesses say.

Police said two men are in custody after they conducted an operation in Arncliffe in Sydney’s south on Sunday.

They were unable to immediately provide more details or confirm reports on Twitter of a bomb threat.

Jamal Daoud, of the Social Justice Network, said he was contacted by a member of the Muslim community who said two Wahibi extremists had threatened Shia Muslims gathered to observe the day of Ashura at the Masjid Fatima Al Zahrah mosque.

Ashura is commemorated by Shia Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom in battle of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Mohammad.

“We have information that two men were arrested when they attempted attacking masses of Shia Muslims remembering the Ashura in Arncliffe,” Mr Daoud said.

He said the action came after calls for violence against Shia were made on Facebook on Saturday.

Mr Daoud said worshippers at the mosque called police when they became suspicious of attempts by the two men to use their mobile phones.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Marijuana Use Causes Brain Damage Confirmed

Scientists have confirmed the long-held suspicion that frequent heavy marijuana use damage the brain’s memory and learning capacity.

Australian researchers have showed for the first time that the earlier people start their marijuana habit, the worse the brain damage.

“Our results suggest that long-term cannabis use is hazardous to white matter in the developing brain. This was especially true for those who had started in adolescence, as we know the brain is still developing during this time,” Lead researcher Dr. Marc Seal, from Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute said in a university release.

Scientists from MCRI, Melbourne University and Wollongong University compared MRI scans of the brain for 59 people who had been using marijuana for an average of 15 years to 33 healthy people who had never used the drug.


Seal and his team found that there was more than 80 percent reduction of white matter in the brains of users.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Terror Threat Preacher Walks Free

Islamic preacher who threatened a terrorist attack on Sydney’s Mardi Gras and accessed child pornography has been sentenced to jail, but immediately walked free because of time already served.

Ibrahim Siddiq-Conlon, a 36-year-old father of four, made a hoax terror threat on the Facebook page of Today FM’s Kyle and Jackie O show, Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court was told.

He wrote a “homophobic diatribe including threats of violence”, Judge Penny Hock said on Friday, adding that she saw the hoax threat as the more serious of the two offences.

“It was clearly a threat that had to be acted upon,” Judge Hock said.

Siddiq-Conlon referred to his organisation Sharia4Australia on the page and also warned Muslims they should avoid the area on the day of the annual parade.

The Sydney architect warned: “Attention, high possible risk of a terrorist attack. Spread the word. Imminent danger.” He had made the message from his own Facebook page, which is in his name.

When police arrested him and searched his car, they found child pornography material on a laptop, including images, videos and stories.

The 25 images were in the lowest category of seriousness, the judge said, although some of the stories were in more serious categories.

Siddiq-Conlon, from Lakemba, was arrested on March 3 this year and charged the following day.

The judge said he had expressed remorse while in custody and recognised that he needed treatment and counselling.

She sentenced him to nine months in jail for the hoax threat and six months for the child pornography offence.

Because of the 156 days he has spent in custody since his arrest he was released at the end of the hearing on Friday.

The conditions of his release include good behaviour for two years and being supervised by the probation and parole service.

He will also have to complete the sentences in custody if he does not comply.

[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

ICJ Issues Arrest Warrant for Former Ivorian First Lady

(AGI) Abidjan — The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued an arrest warrant for former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo, who is accused of committing crimes against humanity during 2011’s post electoral violence. According to the Hague-based court, Simone Gbagbo is guilty of murder, rape, several counts of sexual torture and political persecution, during the unrest which followed the 2010 elections which saw Alassane Ouattara elected. As many as 3,000 people are thought to have died in the violence that followed Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to hand over power. Mrs Gbagbo is currently detained in an Ivory Coast jail, accused of organising and participating in the violence. The ICJ’s arrest warrant describes Mrs Gbagbo as “ideologically and professionally close” to her husband, acting “as his alter ego, exercising power and taking decisions relating to government.” .

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

Nigeria: Obasanjo Woos North With N350 Million Mosque, Arabic School

Abeokuta — Ahead of 2015 general election, former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday wooed northerners especially Muslims as he laid the foundation of N350,000000 (three hundred and fifty million naira) ultra modern central mosque and arabic school within the premises of his Presidential Library in Oke-Mosan Abeokuta…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Sudan: Juba Condemns Sudan’s Air Attacks as SPLA Say Its Troops Are on ‘High Alert’

Juba — South Sudanese cabinet chaired by President Salva Kiir on Friday passed a resolution condemning the “continuous unprovoked attacks” by the Sudanese army in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, while the army said it put its forces on high alert. “The council of ministers in its sitting of today chaired by President Salva Kiir Mayardit received reports of repeated attacks on the state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal in which some civilians have been killed. They have been carried out by the Sudanese armed forces for the last four days, in areas which are inside the territory of South Sudan,” said Barnaba Marial Benjamin, minister of information on Friday…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Africa Deports Nearly 43,000 Zimbabweans

NEARLY 43 000 Zimbabweans have been deported from South Africa since October last year for living in that country without proper documentation. The deportations started in October last year following the expiry of the July 31, 2011 deadline for the Zimbabweans to regularise their stay there…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Ugandan President Repents of Personal, National Sins

‘We confess idolatry, witchcraft, political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue’

The Ugandan newssite New Vision reports President Yoweri Museveni celebrated Uganda’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain at the National Jubilee Prayers event by publicly repenting of his personal sin and the sins of the nation.

“I stand here today to close the evil past, and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness,” Museveni prayed.

“We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation. We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal,” Museveni said.

“Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict,” Museveni prayed.

Next, the president dedicated Uganda to God.

“We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own,” Museveni prayed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


235 Migrants Land at Lampedusa

(AGI) — Palermo, Nov. 24 — An 18-metre fishing boat carrying 235 migrants, including 45 women and 6 children, has landed on Lampedusa. The boat was spotted 50 miles from the Sicilian coast by a Coast Guard reconnaissance flight. However, the port authority reported that the boat had not sent out an SOS.

Nevertheless, the sighting immediately led to a relief operation by two Coast Guard patrol boats, the Italian Navy ship “Lavinia” and a Guardia di Fiananza boat. The migrants were reported to be in satisfactory health.

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

Comprehensive Amnesty Threat

Over 50,000 Illegal Aliens Received Amnesty, Work Permits under Obama’s DACA Program

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) last week said that about 309,000 have applied for executive amnesty under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and that 53,273 applications have been approved. Application and approval rates have increased significantly since just one month ago when USCIS had taken in 180,000 applications and approved 4,591.

Applications are now coming in at a rate of 4,827 a day as compared to 3,000 per day one month ago. USCIS figures indicate that more than 273,000 illegal aliens are in the final stages of the approval process.

The Administration has been reluctant to release information in reference to DACA. It’s unclear how the claims made by the illegal aliens through the application process are validated, which illegal aliens qualify for work permits and which ones don’t, what criminal convictions can disqualify an applicant, what happens to illegal aliens who are denied deferred action, and more.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Immigrants Will Make Up 17% of Italian Population by 2050

(AGI) Rome, Nov.19 — ISTAT’s president, Enrico Giovannini has told the “Italia + 30” conference organised by the Piepoli Institute that “There are some 60 million people in Italy at the moment: that will become 62 million in 2037, after which numbers will begin to fall in around 2050, when we will be a ‘cocktail’ of different cultures, as the number of immigrants rises from 7% to 17%.” He went on to say “By then, immigrants will make up 25% of the population of north-east Italy, but less than 3% of the population in island areas: the population will be far more concentrated in the north, in the more densely productive areas, and this will make for extremely powerful social tensions.” ..

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

Migrants Set Fire to Greek Detention Centre

Over 500 undocumented migrants detained for the past three months at the Komotini police academy in eastern Greece have rioted and set fire to the premises.

“The riots have stopped. It is not the first but it is the largest. It is inhumane,” a ranking officer told Euobserver on Saturday (November (24) evening.

The entire site is on lockdown.

Outside the gates, a police officer in riot gear stands guard armed with a machine gun in near complete silence. Behind him, a parking lot and the nearby buildings are obscured in darkness. The lights turned off.

The officer says all 520 migrants set fire to their mattresses on Thursday with riots raging all through Friday and into early Saturday. “We don’t know what to do, we do not have a solution,” he says.

Four of the 15 guards overseeing the detainees were injured. Another four migrants were reportedly injured and around 50 arrested. Some were chanting “freedom” and “send us home” report local media.

Guards fired tear gas as the migrants, mostly young men from Pakistan and Afghanistan, pelted the officers with rocks.

The scale of the violence has prompted Greece’s minister of public order to hold a late night meeting with the city’s public authorities.

The young men at Komotini were swept up from Athens as part of Greece’s operation “Xenios Zeus.” Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had launched the campaign in the beginning of August in an effort to “clean up” and “make safe” Athens.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

CBS’s Nancy Giles: Pro-Life White People Are Trying to “Build up the Race”

Nancy Giles, social commentator for CBS, asserted pro-life white people are only concerned abortion to “build up the race” on MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry” this weekend.

GILES: You know when you just showed that graph of the decline in the numbers, I thought maybe that’s why they’re trying to eliminate all these abortions and stuff. They’re trying to build up the race.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Civitas vs Caroline Fourest

There are repercussions to Sunday’s Civitas march against gay marriage and adoption. Some of these after-effects are understandable, such as a lawsuit by Civitas against the feminist group Femen. Others are of concern, such as Marine Le Pen’s detachment from the Catholic cause, even though she expressed some sympathy with Saturday’s rally that brought together everyone who is against gay marriage, not just Catholics.

“The extremists of Femen violently attacked the rally, spraying the demonstrators, including children in carriages and the security personnel, with fire extinguishers,” insists the deputy. Worse, the Ukrainian militants from Femen were “naked with anti-Christian and obscene slogans on their chests, shouting in front of young children,” he wrote in his communiqué. “Contrary to what government spokeswoman Mme Vallaud-Belkacem affirms, the provocations and the calls to hatred came from the aggressors and not from the demonstrators,” he added, condemning the attack “perpetrated by extreme-left-wing militants that belong to an activist fringe group.”

Both Civitas and Caroline Fourest have filed lawsuits against each other. An article at France TV Info describes the possible penalties both sides risk in court:

What does Civitas accuse the Femen of?

- The Femen came illegally to counter-demonstrate, without an announcement beforehand. They are guilty of sexual exhibitionism especially in front of children, of group violence with weapons used even against children, of making a concerted effort to block the freedom to demonstrate through threats, violence and open disobedience of the law (“voie de fait”), as well as offenses toward Civitas and the demonstrators by reason of their adherence to the Catholic religion.

What penalty might they receive?

- According to Maître Eolas (an attorney), six months in prison, and a fine of 7,500 euros for an “unannounced demonstration”. The Femen would also risk a year in prison and 15,000 euros for exhibitionism, and three years plus 45,000 euros for bringing weapons, in this case, fire extinguishers. Finally they would risk five years in prison and 75,000 euros for “group violence with a weapon that did not result in a work stoppage” (the use of fire extinguishers).

Caroline Fourest announced she would sue Civitas. The Civitas Institute defends itself against accusations of excesses that took place during the march. “Contrary to what some media and politicians claim, no member of Civitas was guilty of any violence toward these Femen,” it declared.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Mosque for Gays to Open in France

Daily Hürriyet reporter Arzu Çakir Morin has conducted an interview with an unusual Muslim man in France, who has been trying to open a “mosque for gays.”

“When I was 12 years old, I started exploring Islam and performing prayers. At first, I was impressed by the Salafists in Algeria, afterwards I became distant from them because of the terrorist attacks they performed,” Mohammed Ludovic Lütfi Zahed said, explaining his approaching to Islam.

“After my first night with a man, I realized that I was gay. I have found out that I had been pushing down my feelings with the help of Islam,” he said.

Çakir questioned the reason why Zahed felt he needed a “mosque for gays.”

“In normal mosques, women have to sit in the back seats and wear a headscarf and gay men are afraid of both verbal and physical aggression. After performing the Hajj, I realized that a mosque for gays was a must for gay Muslims who want to perform their prayers,” Zahed said.

“We will use a hall in a Buddhist chapel, which will be opened on Nov. 30th” he said, adding that in the new mosque women and men would be able to perform their prayers together in the same space.

In response to a question as to whether same-sex marriage ceremonies would be performed, Zahed said: “We will start with Friday prayers, but we will perform marriages afterwards.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swedish Toy Firm Drops Gender Roles for Xmas

Sweden’s largest toy chain said Friday that its toys are “gender neutral” after picturing boys holding baby dolls and banishing girls from the dolls pages of its Christmas catalogue.

“We have produced the catalogues for both BR and Toys R Us in a completely different way this year,” Jan Nyberg, director of sales at Top Toy, franchise-holder for US toy chain Toys R Us, told the TT news agency Friday.

“With the new gender thinking, there is nothing that is right or wrong. It’s not a boy or a girl thing, it’s a toy for children.”

The country’s advertising watchdog (Reklamombudsmannen — RO) reprimanded the company for gender discrimination three years ago following complaints over outdated gender roles in the 2008 Christmas catalogue, which featured boys dressed as superheroes and girls playing princess.

“For several years, we have found that the gender debate has grown so strong in the Swedish market that we … have had to adjust,” Nyberg said.

A comparison between this year’s Toys R Us catalogues in Sweden and Denmark, where Top Toy is also the franchisee, showed that a boy wielding a toy machine gun in the Danish edition had been replaced by a girl in Sweden.

Elsewhere, a girl was Photoshopped out of the “Hello Kitty” page, a girl holding a baby doll was replaced by a boy, and, in sister chain BR’s catalogue, a young girl’s pink T-shirt was turned light blue.

Top Toy, Sweden’s largest toy retailer by number of stores, said it had received “training and guidance” from the Swedish advertising watchdog, which is a self-regulatory agency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: The Great Gay Marriage Revolt: 118 Tory MPs Set to Defy Cameron and Trigger Biggest Tory Party Rebellion in Modern Times

The full extent of the revolt among Tory MPs over plans to allow gay marriage was revealed last night. In all, 118 Conservatives out of 303 have written to constituents indicating their unease. If they all vote against, it would be the biggest Tory rebellion in modern times.

Among the 118 is gay MP Conor Burns. He said he ‘marvels’ at why David Cameron is prioritising same-sex marriage when there is no ‘clamour’ for it in the gay community.

Backbencher Douglas Carswell, another of those who will vote against, said: ‘I think you’ve got to have your head stuck in the Westminster bubble to think this is a priority.’

The vote could happen as early as January after Mr Cameron decided this week to ‘get it done and get it done quickly’.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


All Hail Gangnam Style: Youtube’s Most Popular Video, Ever

Thursday was Thanksgiving. Yesterday was Black Friday. And today is Gangnam Style Day — the day the world’s most popular-but-not-sure-why video became the most popular video on YouTube, ever, with some 804 million views.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Huge Mars Colony Eyed by SpaceX Founder Elon Musk

Elon Musk, the billionaire founder and CEO of the private spaceflight company SpaceX, wants to help establish a Mars colony of up to 80,000 people by ferrying explorers to the Red Planet for perhaps $500,000 a trip.

In Musk’s vision, the ambitious Mars settlement program would start with a pioneering group of fewer than 10 people, who would journey to the Red Planet aboard a huge reusable rocket powered by liquid oxygen and methane.

“At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big,” Musk told an audience at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on Friday (Nov. 16). Musk was there to talk about his business plans, and to receive the Society’s gold medal for his contribution to the commercialization of space.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]