Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121125

Financial Crisis
»Egyptian Stock Market Plunges
»Establishment Screams: Avoid Fiscal Cliff and Borrow, Borrow, Borrow!
»EU Budget Deal Falls Apart, Italy Opposed to Farm Reductions
»How Government Lies About the Economy
»Italy Underperforming in Productivity for Two Decades
»Shadow Banking: The $67 Trillion Threat to the U.S. Economy
»America 2013: Return of the Kinsman Redeemer?
»Asian Americans Turn Democratic
»Don’t Give Up
»FBI Agent: California Plot Shows How Very Serious the Threat of Homegrown Terrorism is
»Fear, Everywhere, Fear
»First Amendment
»Obama Commits Treason With the Muslim Brotherhood
»Simulated Brain Ramps Up to Include 100 Trillion Synapses
»Was Election a Tipping-Point?
»Will the Politically Based Removal of Children by Bureaucrats Find Its Way to America?
Europe and the EU
»Berlusconi Says He is Thinking About Making a Comeback
»Catalonia to Vote: CIU Wants ‘The Power We Deserve’
»Europe Mulls Banning ‘Boxes’ For Abandoned Babies
»Italy: Showgirl Testifies to ‘Train’ At Berlusconi Parties
»Italy: Companies Dodge 30 Million Euros in Tax Scam
»Italy: Naples Mayor Makes Urgent Appeal to Remove Trash
»Italy: Former Selex Chief to Stand Trial Amid Possible Corruption
»Italy: Prosecutors Request Indictment of Lusi for Embezzlement
»Scotland: Two Sikh Priests Jailed for Rape of Glasgow Prostitute
»Tony Blair’s Passionate Plea: We Must Stay at Heart of EU — or Face Disaster
»UK Racists Target Muslim Family
»UK: ‘Some Will Say PM’s Fixer is Racist’: Top Tory Attacks Cameron’s Chief Over Foul-Mouthed Rant at Muslims
»UK: Police ‘Fined’ For Locking Up Too Many Criminals: More Yobs Now Let Off With Cautions as Force Fights to Save Money
»UK: Social Workers Tried to ‘Colour Match’ Our Beautiful Baby Like a Pot of Dulux Paint: White Foster Parents Describe Their Bitter Battle to Keep Little Sasha
»UK: The Most Expensive Beach Hut in Britain: Six-Foot Wide Property Goes on Sale for £245,000
»UK: We Were RIGHT to Take Foster Children Away From UKIP Couple Insists Social Workers as They Blame Party’s ‘Extreme’ Views for Decision
»UKIP Leader’s Fury After Member is Banned by Barnardo’s From Caring for Children
North Africa
»Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
»Egypt: Embattled Morsi Calls Out His Backers
Israel and the Palestinians
»A State of Palestine Will Solve Nothing!
»Russia Sends Warships Off Coast of Gaza in Response to Israel-Palestine Tensions
»‘Son of Hamas’ Says Israel Made Mistake With Ceasefire
»Why the Hudna With Savages?
Middle East
»Antisemitic Qatar Casts a Giant Shadow
»Belman: Qatar is Up to No Good
»Large-Scale Middle East War
»Leaked Video Showing “Free Syrian Army” Blowing Up a Mosque to Accuse the Syrian Army of Doing it
»Muslim Nations Tiptoe Between Commerce and Religion
»Satellites Show Iran Moving Quickly to Rearm Hamas
»Syrian Cities Beset by Fighting
»Ukraine: Yanukovych Addresses Nation on Holodomor Remembrance Day
»Beneath the Fabulous Wealth of Azerbaijan Lurks Very Murky Secrets
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Kids as Young as Five-Years-Old Being Trained to Kill as Terrorists
»India: Karnataka: Hindu Nationalists Demolish a Pentecostal Church
»Muharram in Pakistan: Bomb During a Shiah Procession
Far East
»Regulatory Win for Chinese Insurer Proved a Boon for Premier’s Family
»Rise of the Machines: Autonomous Killer Robots ‘Could be Developed in 20 Years’
Australia — Pacific
»New Zealand: Poachers Kill Park Wildlife
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Archbishop of Abuja Says Nigeria Has No Religious Wars
»Barracks Church Bombing Kills 5 in Nigeria
»Bombing on Nigerian Church Leaves 11 Dead
»Massive Protest in Mali Against Religious Extremism
»Nigeria: The Archbishop of Abuja Calls for Dialogue With Boko Haram
»Suicide Bomber Strikes at Nigerian Army Church
»UK Gives £19million Aid to South Africa — Its President Spends £17.5million on His Palace
Latin America
»Fiat Takes 26.17% of Brazil Car Market — Best Since 2009
»Eighty Migrants in Dinghy Rescued South of Portopalo
Culture Wars
»Is Western Civilization Fatally Ill?
»Has Curiosity Rover Found Evidence of Life on Mars? A Fossil or Something Else?

Financial Crisis

Egyptian Stock Market Plunges

Traders in Egypt have apparently reached for the panic buttons, with the EGX stock market down by around 9.5 percent in Sunday morning trading. Security forces announced overnight attacks in the Sinai border province.

The Egyptian Exchange (EGX) stock market plummeted on Sunday, with only an enforced 30-minute break in trading slowing the decline.

As of 1 p.m. local time (1100 UCT), the market’s value shrank by 9.53 percent — not a single stock was listed as having increased in value on the EGX’s English-language website. The market was closed minutes after opening, a failsafe measure triggered after a 5-percent plunge, but continued its slide when trading re-started.

Sunday’s session was the first since President Mohammed Morsi issued a declaration limiting the power of the judiciary, sacking the prosecutor general, and increasing the weight of any future presidential decrees.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Establishment Screams: Avoid Fiscal Cliff and Borrow, Borrow, Borrow!

All of official Washington and their media lapdogs are shaking in fear of the so-called “fiscal cliff” that is looming January 1, counseling that the economy needs to continue its wild trillion-dollar deficit spending habits into the indefinite future.

The possibility that the federal deficit might not be as large next year has the establishment frightened, especially Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. “The realization of all of the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that make up the fiscal cliff, absent offsetting changes, would pose a substantial threat to the recovery — indeed, by the reckoning of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and that of many outside observers, a fiscal shock of that size would send the economy toppling back into recession,” Bernanketold the New York Economic Club November 20. He instead urged Congress to avoid fiscal reality, even as he acknowledged that “the federal budget is on an unsustainable path.”

Of greater importance is continuing deficit spending and currency inflation, which will somehow magically cure the economy and deficit, according to Bernanke: “Preventing a sudden and severe contraction in fiscal policy early next year will support the transition of the economy back to full employment; a stronger economy will in turn reduce the deficit and contribute to achieving long-term fiscal sustainability.” Of course, this is the same prescription Bernanke has advised since becoming Fed chairman in 2006, with less than spectacular results.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

EU Budget Deal Falls Apart, Italy Opposed to Farm Reductions

‘Cuts, allocation of resources not satisfactory’ says Monti

(ANSA) — Brussels, November 23 — European leaders failed to reach a deal on the European Union’s budget for the 2014-2020 period at a summit in Brussels on Friday. Italian Premier Mario Monti said the inconclusive results “do not compromise anything,” but added he was unhappy with the agricultural reductions proposed in talks.

“The allocation of resources and cuts in the revised proposal are not satisfactory,” he said. On Thursday, Agriculture Minister Mario Catania said Italy preferred to have no deal at all on the EU’s budget rather than a bad deal. “We need a fair solution that protects Italian taxpayers because there must be the right balance between what Italy contributes to the EU budget and what it receives,” he said. “But there must also be proper protection for our farmers,” Catania said.

EU leaders were trying to agree on a seven-year draft budget presented by EU President Herman van Rompuy.

But political differences soon emerged with France and Italy protesting over proposed cuts in agriculture and cohesion funds and Britain threatening to veto spending rises.

The proposal put forward by Van Rompuy foresaw an additional 11 billion euros for cohesion policies (in favour of the more disadvantaged regions) and an additional 7.7 billion euros for agriculture.

The total balance would have remained unchanged.

Brokering a deal is particularly difficult since ratification requires all countries to agree and just one veto is enough to derail negotiations. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that there was potential for a budget agreement to be reached at the beginning of 2013.

Upon leaving the summit, Merkel said that “there is margin for an accord among the 27 member states. We do not want to isolate anyone”. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said Friday’s failure to reach a deal for the European Union’s budget for the 2014-2020 period was “no drama”. “We needed two sessions in 2005 (to reach an agreement) too,” Van Rompuy said. “There’s the possibility of finding an agreement at the start of 2013”. Commission President José Manuel Barroso’s tone was less optimistic. Failing to reach an agreement in due time, he said, will incur “huge costs in political, economic and social terms”.

In his assessment, negotiations failed because “there are still important differences of opinion regarding the total size (of the budget) and distribution among countries”. Luxembourg Premier and President of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers Jean-Claude Juncker called the draft budget “insufficient”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

How Government Lies About the Economy

Exclusive: David Kupelian exposes amazing financial fairy tales we’re told daily

The jobless rate is down. The stock market is up. Inflation is low. The Fed is stimulating the economy through quantitative easing. The recovery is picking up steam.

Such daily feel-good headlines, created by the Obama administration and amplified by the press, glide pleasantly over our minds and reassure us all is well, or soon will be. But what do these headlines actually have to do with reality?

Often very little. The establishment media’s financial reporting is just like their reporting on politics and culture — which is to say, biased, inaccurate and misleading, sometimes intentionally so.

In fact, a great deal of what passes for “objective reporting” on the economy is little more than “laundered” press releases from the government (and other power players like the Federal Reserve) whose credibility depends on continually deceiving the public.

So, what are the government, the Fed and their media cheerleaders hiding?

Let’s begin with the unemployment rate.

[Comment: Excellent article — well worth reading.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy Underperforming in Productivity for Two Decades

Annual average gain just 0.5%

(ANSA) — Rome, November 21 — The Italian economy has been underperforming in the field of productivity for two decades, according to Istat figures released on Wednesday.

The national statistics agency said productivity increased in Italy by just 0.5% each year on average in the period from 1992 to 2011.

It said labour productivity increased 0.9% annually on average in this period, but capital productivity fell by 0.7% on average.

Economists have said low productivity gains have contributed to Italian firms losing competitiveness and to the sluggish performance of the Italian economy over the last decade.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Shadow Banking: The $67 Trillion Threat to the U.S. Economy

Shadow banking. The name alone sounds ominous — like some dangerous phantom biding its time, waiting for the perfect moment to leap from its hiding place to do its deadly work.

On a financial level, that metaphor actually works pretty well.

The shadow banking system does exist in the shadows, away from the spotlight of regulation we’ve come to expect banks to operate within. And given the right conditions, it could leap unexpectedly from its dark, financial hiding place and bring the U.S. economy to its knees, just like it nearly did in 2008.

What’s bringing this issue to the forefront again is a new report by the Financial Stability Board, an international financial-standards advisory group. It cites that assets held in the global shadow banking system hit a new high last year: $67 trillion, which comes out to about half the world’s total banking assets.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


America 2013: Return of the Kinsman Redeemer?

America is currently in a state of deep flux, with a battle for hegemony now being waged between the forces of conservatism and progressives. At stake is ultimately who is the dominant society in the world, both in terms of trend setting, political persuasion and also for military influence. While conservatives mourn the reelection of a talentless socialist demagogue, we realize that our problems are much deeper and of our own making. Further, our economic, social, spiritual, foreign policy, and health problems all result from a refusal to accept facts that were once commonly held convictions in the US. In other words, we are suffering from a lack of faith and individual will.

The current state of America is startlingly bad and getting much worse, fast. Let’s take one example which highlights the effect of the loss of men of virtue standing in their traditional role — the breakdown of the American family. Let’s bear in mind that many of society’s ills result from fatherless children, including poverty, violence, and general dysfunction. Recently it was reported by the NY Times that more than half of children born to women thirty and under are born out of wedlock. So things are just getting worse.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Asian Americans Turn Democratic

As the dust settles on the presidential election, there seems to be a new theory daily as to why Mitt Romney lost and what it signals for the future of the Republican Party. Common to nearly all the speculation are the partisan implications of demographic change. The United States is shifting gradually toward a majority-minority electorate, with ever-growing numbers of Latino and Asian American voters. Notably, these groups are increasingly voting as Democrats. According to exit polls from Nov. 6, 73% of Asian Americans and 71% of Latinos voted for President Obama.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Don’t Give Up

The difference between victory and defeat often comes down to morale. You’ve seen it in baseball games and wars. It’s that faint sense of air leaking out of the balloon. A weariness and malaise that kicks in when one side decides it can’t win and doesn’t want to be here anymore.

November 2012 was not a defeat. It was a loss in a close election that rattled the Democrats by showing just how much of the country had turned on their savior. It was a rebuke to Obama’s mismanagement of the country and the economy over the last four years.

Or it would have been if the Republican Party had not reacted to its loss by screaming and wailing in despair after their hopes were ludicrously inflated by establishment posters. Followed by running around like a chicken without a head because we fell 400,000 votes short of winning key states. And this defeatist behavior has helped the media create the myth of a second-term mandate.

The country did not repudiate us. The majority of Americans did not pledge allegiance to some rotten post-American country. The majority stayed home. And that is damning, but it’s also comforting because these are the people we have to win over. They don’t believe in Obama, but they don’t believe in us either. They don’t believe in politics because it isn’t relevant to their lives.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

FBI Agent: California Plot Shows How Very Serious the Threat of Homegrown Terrorism is

Three Southern California men charged this week with plotting to kill Americans and bomb U.S. military bases overseas spent months preparing for a trip to Afghanistan where, authorities say, they hoped to join the Taliban and eventually graduate to the ranks of al-Qaida. They seemed determined to reach their goal — even excited about the prospects of being terrorists — and weren’t dissuaded when at least one of them suspected someone might be following them.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Fear, Everywhere, Fear

There is ample reason to fear not only the collapse of the nation’s economy, but the loss of liberty in America

If my emails and the headlines I am reading indicate anything, there is widespread fear among Americans that something terrible has occurred with the reelection of President Obama. Not all Americans, though. Those who voted for Obama appear to remain oblivious despite the threat of a “fiscal cliff” or the new taxes in Obamacare that will kick in on January 2nd.

We have a Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, calling for an end to debt ceilings, apparently believing that America can continue to borrow money to pay for the interest on its escalating debt, now pegged at $16 trillion and growing daily. The U.S. borrows $4 billion a day. Anyone with a credit card knows that their payments increase as they struggle to deal with their personal debt. Eventually they either declare bankruptcy or turn to companies that negotiate a payment to release them.

If America was to default on its debt, the dollar, already in free fall, would be worth nothing. We would be bartering shiny beads and anything else to buy food and other necessaries. We would become Zimbabwe where you need a million of their dollars to buy a loaf of bread…

As we move closer to an Electoral College vote confirming Obama’s reelection, whistleblowers are coming forth in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere to reveal that significant voter fraud was a contributing factor, but it receives little or no media coverage. One must ask how 99% of votes in Philadelphia districts went to Obama and ask why nothing is being done to investigate this and other offenses such as the 141.1% of the vote recorded in Florida’s St. Lucie County. That is statistically impossible, but it robbed Rep. Allen West (R) of his seat in Congress.

This isn’t government. It is gangsterism. It is “the Chicago way.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

First Amendment

I would like to concentrate this column on what has happened to our First Amendment rights over the years. The First Amendment reads: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishing of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This Amendment was redefined to mean the exact opposite of what its intent had been mean to understand for the first 156 years of its existence in 1947 in the Everson v. Board of Education Supreme Court case. In my book, Defining America’s Exceptionalism I explained what happened to our First Amendment because of that case: The Everson vs. Board of Education is an important case as it was the case that completely redefined the First Amendment. In David Barton’s book Original Intent, he effectively describes the results of this case: “The question of what the Founders intended as the proper relationship between religious expressions and “public” life (whether in education, law, government, or throughout society in general) is clearly documented in their numerous writings on the subject. Those records establish their intent and thus clarify their two references to religion in the Constitution.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Commits Treason With the Muslim Brotherhood

We witnessed another one of Barack Obama’s oddities with the Muslim Brotherhood. The first anomaly was when Obama was almost giddy when the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, ascended to power. The Muslim Brotherhood had openly called for the destruction of the United States “from within”, most recently apparent in Muslim Brotherhood front groups like CAIR calling for the purging of any training materials within the FBI and CIA that “offended” Muslims. Barack Obama of course dutifully complied.

The most recent oddity, however, is Obama calling on Morsi to “broker a truce” between Hamas and Israel. Hamas has fired on average one thousand rockets per year at Israel from the Gaza strip; and for eight days, Israel did something that they should have done a decade ago: fight back. Keep in mind that the Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organization of Hamas. Keep in mind that, like Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood has called for the annihilation of Israel. So for Obama to call on Morsi to “broker a truce” is ridiculous.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Simulated Brain Ramps Up to Include 100 Trillion Synapses

The Sequoia supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, recently crowned world champion of supercomputers, just simulated 10 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections among them — the most powerful brain simulation ever. IBM and LLNL built an unprecedented 2.084 billion neurosynaptic cores, which are an IBM-designed computer architecture that is designed to work like a brain.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Was Election a Tipping-Point?

The danger to America is not so much Obama but those who would entrust him with the Presidency

The unraveling of the American social fabric has now reached critical mass. Barack Obama has succeeded in radically transforming America, and the slide is now gaining speed.

For the first time in United States history, constitutionally minded conservatives are the minority of the electorate. The demographics behind the election results are ominous for what it portends…

Many people think they could get better benefits by voting for Democrats. It seems to be only about, “what’s in it for me?” If they bothered thinking about a balanced budget at all, it could be rationalized away by taxing the rich. And, of course, Team Obama drove this narrative home to gain their support. None of them stop to consider the numbers do not add up and this mindset could collapse the country.

Every day we saw Obama say things he knew were not true for the sole purpose of exploiting the “low-information” voter for political gain. Truth was relative. Truth was what he led the voter to believe was the truth.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Will the Politically Based Removal of Children by Bureaucrats Find Its Way to America?

A chill should be running down the backs of Americans today with the revelation that three children from ethnic minority groups have been taken away from their foster parents because the couple support the anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP).

“The couple from Yorkshire in northern England said they had been fostering children for seven years but have been told by social workers that they were not suitable because of UKIP’s calls for curbs on immigration to Britain.” (The Daily Mail, Nov. 24, 2012).

“That’s across the pond” and “It can’t happen here” no longer work in Obama’s America. The Obama regime, which throws the race card at all forms of resistance, just got reelected courtesy of 50% of the voting population for a second term to four more years.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Berlusconi Says He is Thinking About Making a Comeback

(AGI) — Carnago (Varese) — Former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, responding to a question from journalists who were waiting at Milanello, about whether he intended to return to politics, said: “Let’s see, I’m thinking about it.” Berlusconi had just arrived at Milanello for lunch with the AC Milan manager, Massimiliano Allegri and the club vice-president and CEO Adriano Galliani. He then attended training. Berlusconi added: “The PDL has suffered a decline in image and results, also for the simple reason that I have not been there.” .

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

Catalonia to Vote: CIU Wants ‘The Power We Deserve’

Early elections to move towards independence referendum

(ANSAmed) — BARCELONA — “Catalonia is the Germany of Spain, but without holding any power. And now we want it,” is how Oriol Pujol, spokesman for the party under Catalonia’s president Artur Mas (Convergencia i Unio’, CIU), summed up the goal of the November 25 early elections.

This is also how it was described by Mas himself over the past few months: a vote on his determination to call a referendum on the region’s independence within the next four years.

The CIU is applying pressure for Catalonia to become a state within the European Union. The polls show Mas likely to win the elections, and he would like to get hold of an absolute majority for his party — which has governed the region for the past 25 years (since 1980 except for between 2003 and 2010).

Now “enough is enough”, ANSA was told by Oriol Pujol, the 45-year-old son of former president Jordi Pujol (1980-2003). Madrid’s latest “no” came in on September 20, when Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy refused Mas’s proposal for fiscal sovereignty. “Like Germany helps other European countries financially and sets down conditions, Catalonia transfers money.

However, it cannot set down any conditions,” he stressed. Pujol admitted that the crisis had accelerated the process that on September 11 led to hundreds of thousand of people taking to Barcelona’s streets to demand independence. He said that citizens have “lost their fear”.

The CIU spokesman is certain that Catalonia “will not remain outside of the EU. If Europe is fighting so that Greece does not leave the eurozone and the EU, what sense would it have to throw out 7.5 million people due to the political will of one of the parties involved?”. However, Catalonia’s request for sovereignty “foresees the willingness to — at the same time — hand over a good deal of sovereignty to the EU, and especially as concerns defence and immigration. This is what we call interdependence,” he noted. If the Spanish government does not agree to the calling of a referendum, “we will seek out international laws allowing for it, since our aim is to hold a referendum in a legal manner. We believe that Catalonia’s features present the EU with new directions, but this should not prevent it from going in those directions.

Catalonia is not comparable to any other reality. At times it is said that Catalonia is like Padania,” he remarked, “but Catalonia is not Padania, and the CIU is not the Northern League.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Europe Mulls Banning ‘Boxes’ For Abandoned Babies

BERLIN (AP) — German pastor Gabriele Stangl says she will never forget the harrowing confession she heard in 1999. A woman said she had been brutally raped, got pregnant and had a baby. Then she killed it and buried it in the woods near Berlin.

Stangl wanted to do something to help women in such desperate situations. So the following year, she convinced Berlin’s Waldfriede Hospital to create the city’s first so-called “baby box.” The box is actually a warm incubator that can be opened from an outside wall of a hospital where a desperate parent can anonymously leave an unwanted infant.

A small flap opens into the box, equipped with a motion detector. An alarm goes off in the hospital to alert staff two minutes after a baby is left.

“The mother has enough time to leave without anyone seeing her,” Stangl said. “The important thing is that her baby is now in a safe place.”

Baby boxes are a revival of the medieval “foundling wheels,” where unwanted infants were left in revolving church doors. In recent years, there has been an increase in these contraptions — also called hatches, windows or slots in some countries — and at least 11 European nations now have them, according to United Nations figures. They are technically illegal, but mostly operate in a gray zone as authorities turn a blind eye.

But they have drawn the attention of human rights advocates who think they are bad for the children and merely avoid dealing with the problems that lead to child abandonment. At a meeting last month, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child said baby boxes should be banned and is pushing that agenda to the European Parliament.

There are nearly 100 baby boxes in Germany. Poland and the Czech Republic each have more than 40 while Italy, Lithuania, Russia and Slovakia have about 10 each. There are two in Switzerland, one in Belgium and one being planned in the Netherlands.

In the last decade, hundreds of babies have been abandoned this way; it’s estimated one or two infants are typically left at each location every year, though exact figures aren’t available.

“They are a bad message for society,” said Maria Herczog, a Hungarian child psychologist on the U.N. committee. “These boxes violate children’s rights and also the rights of parents to get help from the state to raise their families,” she said.

“Instead of providing help and addressing some of the social problems and poverty behind these situations, we’re telling people they can just leave their baby and run away.”

She said the practice encourages women to have children without getting medical care. “It’s paradoxical that it’s OK for women to give up their babies by putting them in a box, but if they were to have them in a hospital and walk away, that’s a crime,” Herczog said. She said the committee is now discussing the issue with the European Parliament and is also asking countries which allow the practice to shut them down.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Showgirl Testifies to ‘Train’ At Berlusconi Parties

Young women referred to money as ‘petrol’

(ANSA) — Milan, November 23 — Young women present at evening parties hosted by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi would form a train by holding onto the person in front and sing ‘pe-pe-pe-pe-pe’ as they danced around the room, a Neapolitan showgirl told a Milan court on Friday.

Imma De Vivo was testifying in a trial against three people accused of procuring prostitutes for alleged sex parties at Berlusconi’s villa at Arcore near Milan. “However there were no scenes of a sexual nature, it was just a cheerful ‘train’,” she said. De Vico also told the court that she had been receiving 2,500 euros a month from Berlusconi since last year and that he paid her rent on an apartment in Milan. She explained that the young women referred to desired financial assistance from the former Premier as “petrol”, adding that sometimes Berlusconi would say he couldn’t help them as “there wasn’t any petrol”. The three alleged pimps on trial in Milan are former Berlusconi TV anchor Emilio Fede, Berlusconi’s former dental hygienist and ex-Lombardy regional councillor Nicole Minetti and bankrupt talent scout Lele Mora.

In a related case Berlusconi is accused of paying a young Moroccan belly dancer called Ruby for sex when she was under age and allegedly getting police to release her from custody on an unrelated theft claim to cover it up.

Both Ruby and Berlusconi deny having sex.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Companies Dodge 30 Million Euros in Tax Scam

Evasion uncovered by police in Marche

(ANSA) — Urbino, November 22 — Police in the Marche city of Urbino said on Thursday that they uncovered an alleged 30-million-euro tax-evasion scam involving 14 companies.

All of the companies worked with the same accountant who filed false tax statements, four of which totally evaded VAT payments equalling 1.5 million euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Naples Mayor Makes Urgent Appeal to Remove Trash

Measures aim at avoiding waste piling up on streets

(ANSA) — Naples, November 22 — Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris ordered rubbish collection company Spa on Thursday to remove some 3,500 tonnes of rubbish languishing at a collection point in the southern Italian city amid a delay in waste-disposal proceedings. The measures have to be executed in the next 20 days, his signed request reads. The rubbish in question is piling up in a square that is owned by a company called Asia Spa, according to De Magistris.

The urgent measures aim to avoid rubbish piling up on the streets.

Naples’ long-running trash crisis re-emerges periodically as the production of refuse outpaces disposal mechanisms, sometimes leaving tonnes of uncollected rubbish in the streets for prolonged periods of time.

Historically, mafia involvement has also played a role.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Former Selex Chief to Stand Trial Amid Possible Corruption

Grossi may have issued false invoices and embezzled

(ANSA) — Rome, November 23 — Rome magistrates on Friday ruled Selex Sistemi Integrati former chief executive Marina Grossi is to stand trial on alleged charges of possible corruption at the unit of Italy’s state-owned defence company Finmeccanica.

Finmeccanica in turn was run for nine years by Grossi’s husband Pier Francesco Guarguaglini before his forced resignation amid another scandal in 2011. Prosecutors had been investigating whether Selex executives artifically boosted the value of contracts with civil air-traffic manager Enav in order to use the excess funds to generate a political slush fund. The trial, which sees Grossi accused of possible of false invoices and embezzlement together with third parties, is slated to start on April 9. The judge following the case has accepted businessman Tommaso Di Lernia and former Finmeccanica consultant Lorenzo Cola’s plea-bargaining a one-year sentence. Finmeccanica Chairman Pier Francesco Guarguaglini resigned in December 2011 after Italian Premier Mario Monti called for strong measures at the state-controlled company to address a series of corruption probes.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Prosecutors Request Indictment of Lusi for Embezzlement

Ex-Margherita treasurer allegedly skimmed 22 million from party

(ANSA) — Rome, November 23 — Rome prosecutors said on Friday they have requested the indictment of Italian Senator Luigi Lusi for having allegedly embezzled 22 million euros of funds from the coffers of the now-defunct centre-left Margherita party.

Lusi, formerly of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), was taken into custody earlier this year on suspected embezzlement of Margherita funds when he was still its treasurer before the party merged with the reformed rump of Italy’s old Communist party in 2007 to form the PD.

He was released to house arrest in September where he remains in a convent in Abruzzo.

Lusi is also accused of having slandered the president of the Margherita party Francesco Rutelli.

His wife Giovanna Petricone Lusi, together with accountants Mario Montecchia and Giovanni Sebastio, will stand trial for possible criminal association.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Scotland: Two Sikh Priests Jailed for Rape of Glasgow Prostitute

Two Sikh priests have been jailed for a total of 12 years for raping a 26-year-old Glasgow prostitute after she refused to have sex with them.

Gurnam Singh, 30, was sentenced to seven years and Sukhdev Singh, 36, to five. Both will be placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely.

They will also be deported to India at the end of their prison terms.

Sentencing, Lord Pentland praised cyclist Allan Whyte for intervening to stop the woman’s “despicable ordeal”.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Tony Blair’s Passionate Plea: We Must Stay at Heart of EU — or Face Disaster

Tony Blair will make an impassioned intervention in the debate over Britain’s future in Europe, warning that any disengagement from the European Union’s “top table” would be a disaster for the UK’s economy and its power on the world stage.

With more senior Tories backing moves that could see the UK leaving the EU mainstream, Blair will seek to rally the business community behind a campaign to halt the Eurosceptic bandwagon before it is too late.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK Racists Target Muslim Family

A Muslim family in Nottinghamshire, England, has been targeted by extremist anti-Islam groups that left a cross wrapped in ham at their doorstep.

The family’s father said he found the cross at their door after they heard a knock on the door and he went to see who it was.

“There was a knock on the door and I went to open it. Nobody was there, but the cross was propped up against the door,” the 39-year-old who did not want to be identified said.

“It fell into the house when I opened the door. I noticed sliced ham was tied to it,” he added.

He said the incident has left his family, which has recently moved to the Bingham area of Nottinghamshire, “disgusted”.

The father said the incident has left him in fear of the family’s safety.

“I’m disgusted and shocked. My wife is in bits — she’s very angry and in fear of her life. I don’t want to leave my wife and kids here,” he said.

The racist move, which neighbors described as shocking, follows two other graffiti daubing incidents on an Asian takeaway in Bingham.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Some Will Say PM’s Fixer is Racist’: Top Tory Attacks Cameron’s Chief Over Foul-Mouthed Rant at Muslims

David Cameron’s controversial new campaign chief, Lynton Crosby, was in a fresh row last night after a leading Tory peer said his foul-mouthed rant against Muslims could be seen as ‘racist’.

Former Conservative deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft told friends that outspoken Australian Mr Crosby’s remark about ‘f****** Muslims’ was a major error of judgment.

‘The danger is that other people will see it as racist,’ Lord Ashcroft was heard to comment at the Spectator magazine parliamentary awards lunch at The Savoy in London. ‘Some people may assume he means effing Muslims, effing blacks and all effing immigrants and will not appreciate that Muslim is a religion not a race.’

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Police ‘Fined’ For Locking Up Too Many Criminals: More Yobs Now Let Off With Cautions as Force Fights to Save Money

Police were forced to give millions of pounds to a private security firm after locking up too many suspected criminals.

Sussex Police was charged extra by Reliance Secure Task Management after detaining more prisoners in their custody centres than was agreed in a £90?million Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal.

The force had to pay out for six consecutive years after the number of detainees rose sharply.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Social Workers Tried to ‘Colour Match’ Our Beautiful Baby Like a Pot of Dulux Paint: White Foster Parents Describe Their Bitter Battle to Keep Little Sasha

A foster mother has told how social workers tried to prevent her from adopting a black baby they placed in her care — because she was white.

Marie Crean-White was asked by social services in Camden, North London, to look after a newborn girl called Sasha in December 2009, as neither the baby’s troubled Jamaican mother nor her African father were able to look after her.

But in a story that makes a mockery of the Government’s pledge to stop councils from blocking interracial adoption, the same team tried everything to take Sasha away.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: The Most Expensive Beach Hut in Britain: Six-Foot Wide Property Goes on Sale for £245,000

A beach hut measuring just 23ft by 6ft is set to become the most expensive in Britain after going on sale for £245,000.

The single storey one-bedroom wooden property boasts under floor heating, a marble wet room, wireless internet, and electric windows which automatically close when it rains.

It also has a fitted kitchen, a rear patio, TV, DVD and a mezzanine bedroom.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: We Were RIGHT to Take Foster Children Away From UKIP Couple Insists Social Workers as They Blame Party’s ‘Extreme’ Views for Decision

The head of children’s services in Rotherham has defended the decision to remove three ethnic minority children from foster parents, saying that their affiliation to the UK Independence Party (Ukip) meant they opposed ‘multiculturalism.’

Joyce Thacker, Rotherham Borough Council’s director of children and young people’s services, said the children’s ‘cultural and ethnic needs’ did not fit with the parent’s ‘strong views.’

Her views were widely condemned this weekend by campaigners and MPs across the political divide. Education Secretary Michael Gove called the decision ‘wrong’ and ‘indefensible’ while Labour leader Ed Miliband called for an urgent investigation.

But Mrs Thacker said: ‘These children have previously been in our care and we were severely criticised by the courts in terms of not meeting their cultural and ethnic needs.

‘We took the decision, having placed them in emergency foster care, that we would really have to think long-term about their needs being met.

‘So when it became clear to us that the couple had political affiliations to Ukip we had to seriously think about the longer term needs of the children.

‘We have to think about their clear statement on ending multiculturalism, for example. The children were from EU migrant backgrounds and Ukip has very clear statements on ending multiculturalism, which might be sensitive to these children.’

She said there was no ‘quality of care’ issue with the couple — the husband is a former Navy reservist who works with disabled people and the wife is a qualified nursery nurse — only that they were Ukip members.

The couple, who do not want to be named to avoid identifying the children, are in their fifties and have been approved foster carers for seven years, looking after about a dozen children.

They took care of the three children — a baby girl, a boy and an older girl, from a troubled family background — in September in an emergency placement.

The couple were described as ‘exemplary’ and they believe the children thrived in their care. The baby gained weight and the older girl started calling them ‘mum and dad’, according the reports.

But eight weeks into the placement, they were visited by a social worker and an official from their fostering agency following an anonymous tip-off that they were Ukip members.

The social worker told them: ‘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.’

Responding to Mrs Thacker’s comments last night, the couple said: ‘Joyce Thacker referred to us not being able to meet the cultural needs of these children in the long term. We felt we were meeting their cultural needs.

‘We were encouraging them to speak their language and teach it to us. We enjoyed singing one of their folk songs in their language. We also took steps to ensure that a school of their religious denomination was found.’

The wife added: ‘We felt like criminals. From having a baby in my arms, suddenly there was an empty cot.’

She denied that there had been any discussion between the family and Rotherham Council before the children were removed.

The woman said the council feared the couple could not meet the children’s cultural needs in the long term — a claim the family denied.

It came after the decision was strongly condemned by Mr Gove, who said social workers had made ‘the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons’ and said he would be personally investigating the matter.

Mr Gove, who heads the Government department responsible for children’s services and who was himself adopted as a child, accused Rotherham of sending out a ‘dreadful signal’.

‘Rotherham council have made the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons,’ he said.

‘Rotherham’s reasons for denying this family the chance to foster are indefensible.

‘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.’

Roger Stone, leader of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, today said ‘We are going to investigate to make sure everything has been done professionally. If the professionals give advice, we take it.

‘We are going to investigate — we always would if somebody complains. We are looking to make sure all the correct procedures were carried out before the decision was made. There is no policy, as has been implied, that if you are a British National Party member you can’t foster children.’

Mr Farage defended his party’s stance on immigration and Europe, describing Ukip as a non-racist, non-sectarian party.

Referring to the Prime Minister, he told the Sky News Murnaghan programme: ‘If he wants an electoral war with my party on his immigration open-door policy, he can have one.

‘We have a problem with having a total open door to a relatively poor series of countries, something we’ve never done in the entire history of this country. What we’ve had since 2005 is a massive over-supply in the unskilled labour market, and what that means is that at a time of youth unemployment at 21 per cent in Britain, it does not make sense to have an open door.’

Referring to the foster case, he branded the Labour-controlled council’s behaviour an ‘absolute outrage’.

Mr Farage said: ‘If you talk about these particular people whose identities have been protected I’m pleased to say, they have been fostering for the last seven years. They have been giving those children love, care and attention and the opportunity to thrive in this country.

‘They’ve respected the culture from which they came but they’ve also been doing everything they can to teach them English so that they can integrate and do well at school.

‘Surely we need more people out there fostering kids like this. I think the way this Labour-controlled council have behaved is an absolute outrage.

‘The idea that Ukip is a racist outfit is rubbish.’…

           — Hat tip: Seneca III[Return to headlines]

UKIP Leader’s Fury After Member is Banned by Barnardo’s From Caring for Children

A row over two UKIP members having their foster children removed took a new twist last night when another woman claimed she had been barred from looking after children because she was a party candidate.

Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, condemned ‘another appalling case of discrimination’ after former district nurse Anne Murgatroyd said she had been prevented from volunteering as a mentor for young adults by leading children’s charity Barnardo’s.

Ms Murgatroyd, a mother of three, claims she told the charity of her political affiliation and was told it would ‘not be appropriate’ for her to perform the role, which involves supporting children coming out of the care system, because UKIP ‘opposes multi-culturalism’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

Let’s take a look at how our aggregate movement toward a more “civilized” (read liberal) worldview in recent decades has placed the West in circumstances wherein it is likely that the most desperate measures will ultimately be necessary in order to extricate ourselves from same.

Thousands of opponents of Egypt’s new Islamist president Mohammed Morsi clashed with his supporters in cities across that country this week in the most violent and widespread protests since the revolution — or “Arab Spring” — which led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak two years ago. The uprisings were the result of Morsi’s move to grant himself what were being called “dictatorial” powers.

The Arab Spring itself was largely catalyzed by the Obama administration, calculated to remove the last vestiges of Western colonialism and puppet dictators from the region, as well as to empower Islamist factions (such as the Muslim Brotherhood, whom Obama supports), but it has led to far more instability in the region than advertised. Syria remains in the midst of a civil war, Jordan is likewise threatened, and I won’t even get started on Libya.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Embattled Morsi Calls Out His Backers

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has called for a mass demonstration in Cairo this week to show support for the embattled President, Mohamed Morsi, who is facing widespread protests over his controversial decree granting him extensive new powers.

In a statement published on its website, the Brotherhood also called for demonstrations in public squares across the country after early evening prayers today.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

A State of Palestine Will Solve Nothing!

If you think things are bad in the Middle East today, wait until there is a “state” of Palestine!

The creation of a Palestinian state will do nothing to bring stability to the region. In fact, there will be more war, more instability, and more suffering.

A Palestinian state would effectively open up a front that starts ten miles from Tel Aviv and reaches 1,000 miles deep across the Arabian Peninsula to Teheran. That, alone, will be cause for Israel to go on their highest military alert and stay there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In other words… all the time.

The buffer zone Israel counts on to give her time to activate her reserves and get them mobilized will no longer exist. That short period of time, so vital for the defense of Israel, will be gone. Therefore, Israel will have no choice but to adopt what, for all practical purposes, will be a “state of war” as a normal, everyday, lifestyle.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Russia Sends Warships Off Coast of Gaza in Response to Israel-Palestine Tensions

Russian warships have dropped anchor off the coast of Gaza in the case that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict escalates, a Russian Navy Command source told Voice of Russia.

The Russian Navy continuously monitors the situation and studies possible options for evacuating Russians, the source said.

The move mirrors what the U.S. did last week when it sent three warships to the coast of Israel to help Americans looking to get out of Israel.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘Son of Hamas’ Says Israel Made Mistake With Ceasefire

Calls on Israel to topple Gaza regime ‘for the benefit of humanity’

(Israel National News) Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of one of the founders of the Hamas terrorist organization and author of the book “Son of Hamas,” said on Friday that Israel made a mistake by agreeing to a ceasefire with Gaza’s terrorist rulers.

Yousef has spent a number of years abroad following a decade in which he risked his life working undercover as an agent for the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet). His code name during that time was ‘The Green Prince.’

“What is important is that at the moment there is a ceasefire, and I think we need to look at things and digest all of what happened,” Yousef told Israel’s Channel 2 News in a special interview.

[Return to headlines]

Why the Hudna With Savages?

Exclusive: Pamela Geller warns, ‘Israel is inching toward annihilation’

Last week, most of us were struck by Obama’s sudden support for Israel’s right to defend herself from a relentless barrage of rockets from barbarians, targeting schools, hospitals, homes and other civilian centers. It was completely out of character and utterly inconsistent with his foreign policy to date. We waited for the other shoe to drop. It didn’t take long — less than 24 hours, if that.

The day that the jihadist savages bombed a bus in Tel Aviv, Obama urgently dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Israel to announce a hudna, a temporary truce between the Palestinian jihadists and Israel. A hudna with savages? After the ceasefire was announced, jihadists fired a wave of rockets into Israel from Gaza. It was evocative of the last days of World War II, when the Nazis couldn’t kill the Jews fast enough. Even though it was over and the Germans knew it was over, they furiously ramped up an already furious kill rate — proving it was all about genocide all along. Worst of all are the considerations that likely moved Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to such an extraordinary capitulation…

…Hamas tweeted: “Oh, Zionists, #Netanyahu’s government dragging you for hell, you have the choice whether to stay in hell or escape, go back home in Germany.” And: “We told you #IDF that our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are, ‘You opened the Gates of Hell on Yourselves.’“ The cease-fire is a mistake.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Antisemitic Qatar Casts a Giant Shadow

Qatar is a small country with few people (1.87 million of which only 300,000 are citizens), yet it casts a giant shadow over N. Africa, the Middle East and Europe. It has the highest GDP per capita in the world and the highest energy reserves per capita in the world. While it treats its women more liberally than S. Arabia does, it has been indicted for immigrant labour violations and human trafficking. It is notorious for how badly it treats its foreign workers…

The Emir of Qatar is a Wahhabi fundamentalist. He founded Aljazeera in 1996 and it broadcasted in Arabic only for many years. It enabled the Emir to greatly influence the Arab masses and to radicalize them. It gained worldwide renown due to its coverage of the Afghan War.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Belman: Qatar is Up to No Good

It is bad enough that a small country like Israel has to contend with the likes of Qatar and their fellow travelers in the Arab world, but to have them embraced by the ruling elites in the US and Europe increases the danger to Israel exponentially. It used to be that anti-Semites were shunned by western societies. But now, they are embraced and sought after with nary a word said. Furthermore these societies and countries assist the Arabs to realize their agendas by participating in the deligitimization and defamation of Israel and Jews.

This embrace is emblematic of a broader embrace. President Obama, from day one of his administration, has aided and abetted Islamists in Libya, Egypt and Syria to come to power. He has embraced PM Erdogan of Turkey who is also Islamist and calls him his new best friend. Many have argued that he is undermining King Abdullah of Jordan in the expectation that the Muslim Brotherhood will replace him. All this represents extreme danger to Israel. But it also represents extreme danger to America. It is compounded by Presidents Obama’s embrace of Islamists in the US who now have undue influence in the FBI, The State Department, Justice, Homeland Security and the Whitehouse. Except for a few lone voices in the Republican Party, Republicans have not challenged Obama’s Islamist embrace. Silence is consent. I worry for Israel. And for America.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon[Return to headlines]

Large-Scale Middle East War

In an interview with the Voice of Russia, Russian analyst Konstantin Sivkov said: “Deploying these missiles in Turkey will be dangerous for Syrian military planes — this is obvious. A lesser obvious thing is that Turkey is getting ready for a war against Syria. If an attack on Syria from the territory of Turkey does take place, this will most likely be an attack not of the Turkish army, but of NATO’s forces.”

“The Middle East is getting ready for a large-sale battle which will very likely affect the Russian part of the Caucasus, and this, in its turn, will be reflected on the entire Russia,” Mr. Sivkov added. The planned deployment by NATO countries of Patriot air defence systems on Turkey’s Syria border will actually amount to the imposition of a no-fly zone for Syrian aircraft in circumvention of the UN Security Council.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Leaked Video Showing “Free Syrian Army” Blowing Up a Mosque to Accuse the Syrian Army of Doing it

This video was leaked by a member of the free Syrian army who didn’t like what his group was doing. The video shows a group of the free Syrian army blowing up a mosque to blame it on the official Syrian army. The same destroyed mosque was shown on aljazeera tv under the title of “ Mig 29 jets bombing a mosque in Aleppo”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Muslim Nations Tiptoe Between Commerce and Religion

Experts say that democratic forces in the so-called Developing Eight (D-8) Muslim nations are under threat and that economic progress could be impeded by the rise of Islamism in their societies.

The biennial economic summit of the Developing Eight (D-8) Muslim nations ended in Islamabad on Thursday with countries pledging to increase economic cooperation.

The D-8 bloc consists of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey. The combined population of these developing Muslim nations is close to one billion.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also took part in the summit, whereas Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi canceled his trip at the last moment. According to Egyptian state television, Morsi could not attend due to his involvement in the Gaza truce between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Satellites Show Iran Moving Quickly to Rearm Hamas

Israeli intelligence satellites have spied the loading of rockets and other materiel believed to be destined for the Gaza Strip, The Sunday Times reported citing Israeli officials. According to the report, Iran began preparing the weapons shipment around the same time Israel and Hamas negotiated cease-fire understandings late last week. The shipment is said to include Iranian-made Fajr-5 medium-range rockets, the same model that was fired into the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas during Operation Pillar of Defense, the Times reported.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Syrian Cities Beset by Fighting

Fighting in Syrian cities and towns has continued to rage this weekend, causing dozens of fatalities. Meanwhile, Iran and Turkey have been engaging in talks about Syria behind closed doors.

Syrian rebels targeted the government’s army in the country’s north province of Aleppo on Saturday, amid continuing violence in and around the capital, Damascus, according to reports.

Regime forces shelled Damascus’ outskirts to the northeast and southwest. Violence also erupted in the western district of Kfar Sousa in the capital’s south, according to a watchdog.

Meanwhile, forces also targeted the town of Daraya, where, monitors say, over 500 people were killed in August.

“Regime forces are attempting to break into Daraya,” said the Local Coordination Committees, an activist network.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Ukraine: Yanukovych Addresses Nation on Holodomor Remembrance Day

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has addressed his compatriots on the Holodomor Remembrance Day.

“These days it will turn 80 years since trouble has come to our land. In the period of 1932-1933, the Holodomor covered the territory of Ukraine and other countries of the former USSR,” according to a statement by the president posted on the official president’s Web site on Saturday.

“This crime has changed the history of the Ukrainian people forever. It has been one of the severest challenges of Ukrainians. The Holodomor not only killed people, but also had the purpose of causing fear and obedience. For decades, any mention of those dreadful events has been banned,” reads the statement.

“But Ukrainians demonstrated tenacity. Due to belief in our power, love to Ukraine, primordial pursuit of freedom and independence we have survived,” Yanukovych said.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Beneath the Fabulous Wealth of Azerbaijan Lurks Very Murky Secrets

No one knows quite how much of Azerbaijan’s extraordinary oil wealth has made its way into the bank accounts of 50-year-old President Ilham Aliyev and his family, or their retinue of friends and hangers-on. But it is safe to say they are all unimaginably rich. According to independent research, SOCAR, the state oil and gas company may have brought in revenues of £19 billion last year — in a country with fewer than ten million people.

Aliyev himself was educated in Russia, but nothing less than a British school was acceptable for his children, so he sent daughters Leyla and Arzu Aliyeva to the exclusive £15,000-a-year Queen’s College for girls in London.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Kids as Young as Five-Years-Old Being Trained to Kill as Terrorists

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

These terrifying pictures show children as young as five being trained to kill with pistols and deadly AK-47 assault rifles. They were taken from footage of an al Qaeda terror camp in north Waziristan, near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Many of the children are orphans of the terrorist organisation’s ‘martyrs’ following the same deadly route as their fathers.

They are brainwashed into waging Jihad on the West and becoming suicide bombers, the Sunday Mirror reported. It was posted on an underground al Qaeda website and issued by the Turkistan Islamic Party, which trains fighters to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is believed the armed group is responsible for more than 200 acts of terrorism worldwide in the past 20 years, the paper reported.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

India: Karnataka: Hindu Nationalists Demolish a Pentecostal Church

The Blessing Youth Mission of the Chippagiri Gowtown village was built 15 years ago. The attackers threatened to kill the faithful and set fire to the place of worship. Rev. Suresh has complained to the police, who gave their utmost collaboration.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — Hindu nationalists of Sangh Parivar have demolished a Pentecostal church in Karnataka. This was reported to AsiaNews by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), which is providing legal assistance to the Christians affected. The incident occurred late in the evening of 20 November. The church was the Blessing Youth Mission in the village of Chippagiri Gowtown (Karwar district), and had existed for 15 years. Rev. Suresh Kithan Siddle denounced the event to the police station, and an officer has promised that the perpetrators will be found and brought to justice.

At around 10:30 p.m. (local time), a Hindu nationalist group locked 30 members of the Pentecostal community in their homes, threatening them with death if they tried to escape. Around 11 p.m., the attackers began to demolish the church. To raze it to the ground, they set it on fire.

According to the pastor’s account, the attackers are members of the local faction of the Sangh Parivar, a Hindu nationalist movement that welcomes and unites under its umbrella radical groups such as the Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Prishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal.

A month ago, some of these Hindu activists accused Rev. Suresh of practicing forced conversions, threatening “serious consequences” if he did not stop.

“The faithful of the church”, said Sajan George, president of the GCIC, “are mostly day laborers. The Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Yet, with the complicity of the government, the extremists of Sangh Parivar harass, beat and make false allegations of forced conversions against the Christians. And, sometimes, they go so far as to demolish churches.”

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

Muharram in Pakistan: Bomb During a Shiah Procession

The attack occurred in an area where Sunni extremist groups proliferate, linked to al Qaeda. For Sunni fundamentalists, the Shiite festival is a heresy. For the holy month of Muharram, other attacks are feared above all in Islamabad, Karachi and Quetta.

Peshawar (AsiaNews/Agencies) — A roadside bomb exploded while a Shiah procession was passing by. The attack occurred in the town of Dera Ismail Khan, in an area with large number of Sunni militants. The bomb was placed in a trash can and left seven dead and 17 injured. The police have placed many cities of Pakistan under surveillance, fearing further attacks during the month of Muharram, the month sacred to Shiahs, who in it memorialize the martyrdom of Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law, the foundation of their tradition.

Two days ago there was another attack in Rawalpindi.

President Asif Ali Zardari has condemned the attack.

The attack today took place in the north-west part of the country, where there are many groups of Sunni extremists linked to al Qaeda. For Sunnis, Shiahs are heretics and must be eliminated.

The Pakistani security services expect more attacks during the month of Muharram, which began on November 15 will last until December 13. These days around the 24th are the culmination of the festival (ashura).

The cities most at risk are Islamabad, Karachi and Quetta. In Karachi at least 5,000 policemen will be engaged in the controls for the next two days.

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

Far East

Regulatory Win for Chinese Insurer Proved a Boon for Premier’s Family

In the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis in 1999, the head of financially troubled Ping An Insurance pushed Chinese officials to relax rules that required the company to be broken up. Insurance executives made a direct appeal to the vice premier at the time, Wen Jiabao, as well as the China’s central bank — two powerful officials with oversight of the industry.

In the end, Ping An was not broken up and went on to become one of China’s largest financial services companies, a $50 billion powerhouse. Behind the scenes, shares in Ping An that would be worth billions of dollars once the company rebounded were acquired by relatives of Mr. Wen, who became prime minister in 2003.

The New York Times reported last month that the relatives of Mr. Wen had grown extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership. The greatest source of wealth, The Times reports, came from the shares in Ping An bought about eight months after the insurer was granted a waiver to the requirement that it be broken up.

[Return to headlines]

Rise of the Machines: Autonomous Killer Robots ‘Could be Developed in 20 Years’

Fully autonomous robots that decide for themselves when to kill could be developed within 20 to 30 years, or ‘even sooner’, a report has warned.

Militaries across the world are said to be ‘very excited’ about machines that could deployed alone in battle, sparing human troops from dangerous situations…

But perhaps closest to the Terminator-type killing machine portrayed in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action films is a Samsung sentry robot already being used in South Korea.

The machine is able to spot unusual activity, challenge intruders and, when authorised by a human controller, open fire.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

New Zealand: Poachers Kill Park Wildlife

Thieves are stealing birds and eggs for the dinner table, say shocked witnesses.

Wild birds including ducks, geese and pheasants are being poached from public parks in Auckland and being turned into dinner.

Witnesses told the Herald they have seen birds being caught with nets and hooks, and some even having their necks wrung in front of shocked onlookers at Cornwall Park and Western Springs.

Ram Patel said he was “totally stunned” when he saw two Asian men catching a goose and a duck using a net at Western Springs last Tuesday, and then taking them away in a canvas bag.

“At first I thought they were park rangers or something but realised they were poachers when I saw them driving off in an old Japanese car,” he said.

Mr Patel, 21, a student living in Mt Roskill, said the two men had a bag of eggs with them which he believed were also collected from the park.

“They were really rough with the animals and didn’t care if they lived or died when they were shoved into the bag, which made me think that these people wanted them for food and not pets.”

Warwick Palmer, who wrote to the Herald, said he had a friend who saw another man at Cornwall Park who “caught a pheasant, wrung its neck in front of passersby and then took off with it in his car”.

The Auckland Waikato Fish and Game Council says the number of wild ducks and geese from parks being caught and killed is on the rise, and he wants the Auckland Council to put up signs to deter poaching.

“We don’t have numbers, but it seems to be on the rise,” said Fish and Game northern wildlife manager John Dyer.

Unauthorised removal of birds from parks was an offence under the Wildlife Act, and offenders could be fined up to $5000.

He said birds being poached were primarily ducks and geese, but “anything else not tied down or fenced off, such as pukeko, quail and swans”, was also being stolen.

And he warned it could spell the end for the Cornwall Park pheasants.

“Pheasants have probably been there since the 1860s; now the area is built over if these last pheasants are killed, that’s it,” said Mr Dyer. “They’ll never be seen there again as pheasants don’t fly that far.”

Cornwall Park director Michael Ayrton said he was unaware of the park having lost livestock through theft and was shocked to learn about the pheasant incident.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Archbishop of Abuja Says Nigeria Has No Religious Wars

(AGI) — Abuja, Nov. 24 — The Archbishop of Abuja, John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan shed some light on events in Nigeria in an interview with AGI on Saturday before leaving for Rome to attend the Consistory where he will be made Cardinal. “There is no war of religion” he said. He explained that in Nigeria, relations between Muslims and Christians have historically been marked by harmony, but Nigerian and international media have often provided a distorted picture of the country. “The image we have of Nigeria is one of a country at war, but that’s not true. The reality of Nigeria is that the two religions both belong there, and they are not enemies,” said the bishop.

Focussing on the clashes between the two communities in the center and north of the country, Onaiyekan said, “There are minorities and fringes on both sides that need to be identified, but everyday life is based on integration and respect.” “I realize that good relations do not hit the headlines, but then when a violent episode occurs, people always write of interreligious sectarian conflict, mostly out of preconceptions and laziness,” the bishop said of the local and international media. They do not explain the ethnic diversity and the role of “politicians who either ignore or exploit the strong passion of Nigerians for the spiritual sphere to achieve consensus. Nor do they mention the extreme poverty, social unrest, exploitation of the weaker members of society, the low levels of education and literacy, or youth unemployment, which are all factors that exasperate the masses in Nigeria.” “This is why it is fundamental to denounce unscrupulous politicians, improve the living conditions of the population, and eliminate factions of fanatics on both sides.” This is what Bishop Onaiykan tried to do during the long years in which he led the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, and the CAN, the Christian Association of Nigeria, now chaired by Pastor Ayo Oritsajafor, the founder of one of the thousands of indigenous churches in Nigeria. The church led by Oritsajafor has recently celebrated its fortieth anniversary, giving its founder a private jet worth millions as a gift. “He will answer for his actions to others much above me. I prefer not to comment on the work of Oritsajafor” who was also involved in an ugly murder story in the past. Bishop Onaiyekan, instead, spent years working with the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, the spiritual leader of Nigerian Muslims, in many fruitful initiatives of interreligious dialogue between the two communities. Both were among the candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. “You cannot be a good Christian, a good priest, a good bishop, you cannot be Biblical witnesses in Nigeria if you ignore Islam, namely the other half of Nigerian faithful; or even worse if you have a negative approach towards them.” Nigeria is the most densely inhabited country in Africa with 160 million inhabitants, divided equally between Christianity and Islam. This is why it is fundamental to denounce unscrupulous politicians, improve the living conditions of the populations, and eliminate factions of fanatics on both sides.” This is what Bishop Onaiykan tried to do during the long years in which he led the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, and the CAN, the Christian Association of Nigeria, now chaired by Pastor Ayo Oritsajafor, the founder of one of the thousands of indigenous churches in Nigeria. The church led by Oritsajafor has recently celebrated its fortieth anniversary, giving its founder a private jet with millions as a gift. He will answer for his actions to others much above me. I prefer not to comment on the work of Oritsajafor” who was also involved in an ugly murder story in the past. Bishop Onaiyekan, instead, spent years working with the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, the spiritual leader of Nigerian Muslims, in many and fruitful initiatives of interreligious dialogue between the two communities. Both were among the candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. “You cannot be a good Christian, a good priest, a good bishop, you cannot be Biblical witnesses in Nigeria if you ignore Islam, namely the other half of Nigerian faithful; or even worse if you have a negative approach towards them.” Onaiyekan ended the interview saying, “Muslims are not strangers to me, I grew up as millions of Nigerians, among them. Many of my own family members are Muslims and it is natural for me to have relations with them. And I hope this will be the case for everyone else one day, too.” .

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

Barracks Church Bombing Kills 5 in Nigeria

(AGI) — Kaduna, Nov. 25 — Military sources have reported that a suicide bomber drove his car into a church inside the Jaji barracks in North Nigeria, causing five deaths and leaving dozens injured. The attack occurred after Sunday mass against the Protestant church inside the military compound located 30 km from Kaduna, the capital of the homonymous State that has recorded several attacks on churches attributed to the pro-Al-Qaeda group Boko Haram. Last October, a suicide bomber killed eight people and injured nearly one hundred in another region of the State.

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

Bombing on Nigerian Church Leaves 11 Dead

(AGI) Kaduna, Nov. 25 — Yet another bloody Sunday for the Christians in northern Nigeria, with 11 people killed in a bombing on a church near Kaduna and three more killed in an ambush as they were going to mass in Kano. Once again, the group likely to be behind the attacks is al Qaeda-linked Boko Haram, which carried out several other attacks in this region.

In Jaji, 30 km from Kaduna, two suicide bombings struck the protestant church of St Andrew’s, inside the barracks. Shortly after mass, one suicide bomber drove a minibus, loaded with explosives, against the church. About ten minutes later, when a group of soldiers and civilians had gathered on the spot, another terrorist detonated a car bomb, which left 11 killed and about 30 injured. Most of the victims were members of the Church choir. It is not clear how the bombers managed to enter the barracks, considering the massive measures taken to prevent Boko Haram attacks. In the Muslim-majority state of Kaduna, several attacks on churches have been attributed to the Islamic fundamentalist group. In October, a suicide bombing left eight dead and about 100 wounded in another region of the state. In the outskirts of Kano, two men on a motorbike opened fire on a car with a Christian couple and their child on board, as they were going to mass. The woman and the child were killed immediately, while the man died in hospital. The couple’s other child, in the car too, was unharmed. Motorbike assaults are frequently used by Boko Haram. The suspicion that Boko Haram is behind these attacks is based on the fact that they came the day after the Nigerian government announced it would offer rewards — for a total of $1.7 mn — to whoever will provide useful information for capturing the 19 leaders of the terrorist group. The list features the main leader, Abubakar Shekau, the reward for him being $250,000; the reward for those who will help the local authorities arrest Shekau’s four main aides (Habibu Yusuk, Khalis Albarnawai, Momodu Bama e Mohammed Zangin) is $125,000.

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

Massive Protest in Mali Against Religious Extremism

(AGI) Bamako, Nov. 25 — Several thousands of people took to the street in Bamako on Saturday to protest against religious extremism and the ‘jihadist’ occupation in the north of the country. Party leaders and Muslim religious chiefs, such as Cherif Ousmane Madani Haidara, joined in the demonstrations.

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

Nigeria: The Archbishop of Abuja Calls for Dialogue With Boko Haram

(AGI) — Abuja, Nov. 24 — The Archbishop of Abuja, John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, called for dialogue with Nigeria’s al-Qaeda linked terror group, Boko Haram. In an interview with AGI before leaving for Rome to attend the consistory for his elevation to cardinal, the archbishop said, “it is difficult to talk to those who are guilty of horrible crimes, such as the massacres of the faithful gathered praying in church, but there are those who can and must do so.” The cardinal was referring to the Nigerian government, which in his view has so far managed “disastrously what has become the number one danger to the nation.” It is also true,” said Onaiyekan, “that the Nigerian government found itself facing an unprecedented challenge in 2009, but now there has been enough time to work out how to counter this threat.” The cardinal thinks that Boko Haram is made up of three elements: Religious fanaticism, political and social demands, and terrorism mixed with criminality: The government has considered, and still considers only the latter.” Indeed, Onaiyekan thinks, “Nigerian politicians have not yet worked out that you have to first of all deal with the problem of religious fanaticism: who brainwashes the people who blow themselves up in God’s name? Who incites violence, with sermons or homilies, in mosques and churches? Who sows violence today to collect terror tomorrow?” “This is where,” according to the prelate, “the strategy for combating Boko Haram terror should begin, because in Nigeria, “alongside moderate and secular Islam, there is also an extremist variant (very much in the minority), of up to 1000 men, or maybe slightly more, who are fully part of Boko Haram.” And then “the most difficult challenge, because it is more long-term and because it is the job of a largely discredited political class: is, to remove the backwardness and atavistic poverty into which the roots of popular discontent sink.” Instead, the government, concluded the cardinal, has responded “only with violence, making matters worse, blaming the political opposition while it could instead have talked to the group and isolated the extremists.” According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), at least 3000 people have died in the war between Boko Haram and the government. This figure includes both the victims of attacks by Boko Haram and terrorists and civilians killed during Nigerian army operations.

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

Suicide Bomber Strikes at Nigerian Army Church

A suicide bomber has struck at a military barracks in Nigeria, detonating a car bomb outside a church within the compound. At least nine people were reported have been killed in the attack.

The bombers struck at the Jaji military barracks in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna in a coordinated attack, a military source said.

Two cars were driven into the barracks, 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the Nigerian capital Abuja, at about 1.45 p.m local time, an unnamed official told the Reuters news agency. He said nine had been killed and dozens injured.

“A Kia branded car drove into the church premises … and detonated,” said the source. “Then an ash-colored Toyota Camry drove in and exploded while people came to help after the first bomb. Most people died from the second blast.”

The bombing was confirmed by Nigeria’s National Emergency Management spokesman Yushau Shuaib, who said the explosion took place after a service inside the church. Shuaib gave no casualty figures.

While there was no claim of responsibility, the Islamist sect Boko Haram — which wants to establish Sharia law in northern Nigeria — has claimed responsibility for previous attacks on churches in Kaduna. The region lies along a fault line dividing the country’s mainly Muslim north from the south of the country, which is mainly Christian.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK Gives £19million Aid to South Africa — Its President Spends £17.5million on His Palace

It is a nation racked by poverty, where 13 million people survive on less than £1 a day, and two million have no access to a toilet.

Yet as his people struggle in squalor, South African president Jacob Zuma has sparked outrage by spending £17.5 million to upgrade his rural family home.

Lavish works — which include the construction of 31 new houses, an underground bunker accessed by lifts and a helipad — will cost almost as much as the £19 million British taxpayers send to South Africa in annual aid.

The costly upgrade to Zuma’s once-humble home in the village of Nkandla includes Astroturf sports fields and tennis courts, a gymnasium and state-of-the art security systems, including fingerprint-controlled access pads.

And nearby roads have benefited from a further £40 million of improvements.

…he also receives a controversial £1.2 million in ‘spousal support’ for his [four] wives — despite recently calling on fellow politicians to tighten their belts — and pays only a peppercorn rent of £560 on the tribally owned plot in the Zululand hills where his mansion sits.

Zuma has named his residence a ‘national key point’ — a status invented by the previous paranoid apartheid government — which means it is entitled to security measures ‘in the interests of the nation’.

[Comment: Communism in action. Some people are more equal than others.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Fiat Takes 26.17% of Brazil Car Market — Best Since 2009

Fiat Brazil Oct 2012 registrations grow 45% over last year

(ANSA) — Rome, November 19 — Fiat announced on Monday it had garnered 26.17% of the Brazilan market in October — its best results in that country since April 2009. Fiat achieved substantial gains over its 21.55% Brazilian market share last January by growing its business at roughly twice the rate of the industry average, the automaker noted on its “Carindustryanalysis” Wordpress blog on Monday. Fiat saw an increase of 20,313 vehicle registrations in October 2012 over the same month last year, marking an annual growth rate of 45% compared to the market average of 23%.

Fiat’s popular Palio and Siena models were responsible for the majority of the automaker’s gains in Brazil.

The compact car models benefited especially from a Brazilian tax-break on purchases of domestically produced vehicles.

The tax break, which was due to expire in August, was extended to December 31.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Eighty Migrants in Dinghy Rescued South of Portopalo

(AGI) Rome, Nov. 25 — Two Palermo Coast Guard patrol boats rescued eighty Somali migrants last night of south of Portopalo. The patrol boats sailed from Porto Empedocle and Sciacca. The 80 migrants included 25 women two of whom were pregnant. The Coast Guard received the alarm via satellite phone and traced the boat from its signal. The 10-metre long dinghy was hardly seaworthy. Operations concluded at around 3:40 a.m. when the two patrol boats reached Portopalo. A total of 438 migrants have been rescued by the Coast Guard over the last two days.

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

Culture Wars

Is Western Civilization Fatally Ill?

It’s bad enough when a culture engages in perversion reluctantly. When people go out of their way to engage in gratuitous perversion for no discernible reason, well, you might have a problem. One of the above models is male and one is female — can you guess which is which?

[Return to headlines]


Has Curiosity Rover Found Evidence of Life on Mars? A Fossil or Something Else?

Chief Scientist John Grotzinger Says Announcement About “It” In December Will Make History

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has apparently made a discovery “for the history books,” but we’ll have to wait a few weeks to learn what the new Red Planet find may be, media reports suggest. The discovery was made by Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, NPR reported today (Nov. 20). SAM is the rover’s onboard chemistry lab, and it’s capable of identifying organic compounds — the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]