Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121128

Financial Crisis
»Is Our Debt Burden Really $100 Trillion?
»Italy Vows to Make Reform Commitments After OECD Warnings
»Italy: Taranto and Florange: Steelmakers Struggle
»The Giant Currency Superstorm That is Coming to the Shores of America When the Dollar Dies
»America Has Become an Old World Country
»America Planned to Blow Up the Moon With a Nuclear Bomb in the 1950s, Reports Have Claimed.
»Anti-Muslim Filmmaker Nakoula ‘Has No Regrets’
»Democrats Stole the Election
»Is a Good, Old-Fashioned Purge in Order for the GOP?
»State Senator Proposes Dissolving City of Detroit
»The Manchurian Electorate: America’s Brain Washed Voters
»The U.S. is Blocking Energy Wealth and Jobs
»Those Fleeing Obama’s America: Prepare to be Taxed
»Muslim Brotherhood Hosts Omar Khadr Luv in at University of Toronto
Europe and the EU
»Austria: A Former MEP on Trial for Corruption
»Bulgaria: Radical Islam Trial in Bulgaria’s Pazardzhik Kicks Off
»Europe’s €50bn Bung That Enriches Landowners and Kills Wildlife
»Italy Wins Battle Over EU Job Announcements
»Italy: Voodoo Ritual Drug Dealers Target Genoa Police
»Italy: Northern League Politician Calls Palermo ‘Africa’
»Majority in Dutch Parliament Move to Scrap Law Making it a Crime to Insult God
»Riots Rock Slovenia’s Second Largest City
»UK: “Goldfinger” Cameron v “007” Gove
»UK: Council Poised for U-Turn After Taking Foster Children Away From UKIP Members
»UK: Could Labour Lose the Rotherham by-Election?
»UK: Mosque Aids Wiltshire Air Ambulance
»UK: Our Internet Voters Calling for Political Change in Rotherham
»UK: Rudyard Kipling Was a Better Economist That Gordon Brown
»UKIP Soars to Its Highest Poll Rating After Fostering Scandal
»UKIP Aren’t Surfing a Wave …
»UKIP Fostering Row: ‘Mafia’ Council Told US to Keep Quiet, Say Parents
»Dream of ‘Greater Albania’ Alive at Centennial
North Africa
»Egyptian Christians Sentenced to Death for Islam Film
»Egypt Court Sentences 8 to Death Over Prophet Film
»Is Egypt About to Become the New Iran?
»Libya: Key GOP Senators Still Troubled by Benghazi Attacks After Meeting Rice
»North African Jews Face Precarious Future
Israel and the Palestinians
»Palestine UN Status Lift Gets Norway Nod
Middle East
»Iran: Navy Launches New Submarines, Hovercrafts: Report
»Minor Explosion Near Indian Embassy in Bahrain, No Casualties
»Syrian Newspaper Names 142 Dead Foreign Fighters
»Turkey: Erdogan Against Suleiman TV Series
»Western-Backed Terrorists in Syria Slaughter Christians in Bombing
South Asia
»Buying Uzbek Help for Afghanistan Withdrawal
»India: Karnataka: 39 Anti-Christian Attacks in 2012
»India Appoints First Muslim to Head Intelligence Bureau in 125-Year History
Far East
»China: Wen Jiabao and NY Times Still at Odds Over Corruption Accusations
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Botswana: Christians and Muslims Condemn Mosque Graffiti
»Court Allows Amsterdam to Remove Asylum Seekers Camp
Culture Wars
»Belgian Man Discovers Wife of 19 Years Was Born a Man
»Germany to Ban Sex With Animals After Huge Rise in Farm Yard ‘Pimping’
»‘I’m Tired of Doing My Hair and Make-Up’: Pensioner: 75, Who Became a Woman in Sex Change Operation 23 Years Ago Wants to be a Man Again
»Students Told to Disavow ‘American-Ness, Maleness, Whiteness, Heterosexuality’
»Thrown to the Lions
»As Prices for Damien Hirst’s Works Plummet, Pity the Credulous Saps Who Spent Fortunes on His Tosh

Financial Crisis

Is Our Debt Burden Really $100 Trillion?

Wanna scare somebody about America’s debt on the eve of the Fiscal Cliff? I mean, really scare somebody? Here’s a trick. Don’t talk about the debt. Talk about “unfunded liabilities.”

The U.S. national debt comes out to about $16 trillion today. That’s something. But it’s nothing compared to the extra $87 trillion in unfunded liabilities to Social Security, Medicare, and federal pensions. Here’s how that works. If you add up all of the U.S. government’s promises to pay retirement and health care benefits for the next 75 years and subtract the projected tax revenue dedicated to those programs over the next 75 years, there is a gap. A $87 trillion gap — in addition to a $16 billion hole.

“Why haven’t Americans heard about the titanic $86.8 trillion liability from these programs?” Chris Box and Bill Archer ask in the Wall Street Journal. The authors blame the U.S. government for using shoddy accounting and for misleading the American public on their finances. In fact, the most misleading thing about that $87 trillion is the way the figure is often used in the media.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy Vows to Make Reform Commitments After OECD Warnings

‘Country avoided worst-case scenario’ says government

(ANSA) — Rome, November 27 — The Italian government on Tuesday called an OECD economic outlook report “positive” and vowed to see its reforms were implemented after the Paris-based agency warned of the need for further austerity measures if they were not. “The government takes note of the positive assessment of the OECD, in particular with regard to fiscal consolidation, the effects of reforms and the confirmation that Italy will reach a balanced budget in structural terms in 2013 and 2014, as this government had committed to do, and as required by the EU,” said a statement. Earlier Tuesday the OECD praised the structural economic reforms Monti’s government has introduced but stressed that they “must be fully and consistently implemented if they are to produce results”.

It also revised down its growth forecasts for Italy for this year and next and it warned that additional budget tightening may be needed in 2014.

The OECD said it expected Italy’s gross domestic product to fall 2.2% this year and 1% in 2013, compared to May forecasts of contractions of 1.7% and 0.4% respectively.

In response, the government said that it had thus far “been able to avoid the worst-case scenario”, and that the job market in Italy remains “remarkably resilient” despite rising unemployment, which is due mostly to more people joining the job market, particularly women.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Taranto and Florange: Steelmakers Struggle

Corriere della Sera, La Stampa, Il Sole-24 Ore, Libération

“ILVA shuts down, 5,000 sent home,” reads the headline in Corriere della Sera. The wrangling over Europe’s biggest steel mill, under investigation since a probe found the plant’s enormous levels of pollution caused thousands of deaths in the nearby city of Taranto, came to a head when prosecutors ordered the closure of some production facilities and issued arrest warrants for seven managers. In retaliation, the owners shut down the plant and sent home 5,000 workers. The move could affect other plants and related industries and trigger the loss of more than 20,000 jobs. Trade unions have seized management offices in protest.

In Taranto, the population is split between the unemployment scare and health concerns, La Stampa reports. “Crushed between the huge costs of a clean up and an extremely dangerous socio-political situation, the city risks a real civil war.”

But concerns are nationwide. “What is the message we are sending to those wondering if investing in Italy is still worthwhile?” asks Il Sole 24 Ore, arguing that “the crusade of a few judges cannot decide the fate of one of the key sites for the country’s industrial policy.” According to the employers’ federation newspaper, the ILVA crisis —

will cheer up European competitors. A bounty for German and French groups. In France the state is so aware of the strategic value of the steel industry that it advocates nationalising two plants that can’t find buyers as they are deemed too uncompetitive and polluting. Employment first: the French say openly what in Taranto is forbidden to even whisper.

However, in Paris, the government is locked in a battle with ArcelorMittal, which wants to close the Florange blast furnaces in Lorraine. It is even threatening to temporarily nationalise the site, home to 630 jobs. “Brilliant idea or mission impossible?” says Liberation. President François Hollande will meet Lakshmi Mittal, the head of the firm, on November 27 to “convince the boss of the group to sell its entire site, that is to say, both its furnaces and crude steet processing facilities, the most modern part of the site, which is still active,” added the newspaper.

The pressure is peaking between the government and Mittal. A week before the deadline for restarting work at Florange, the threats are flying. The first threat is that of nationalisation, if the steel group does not save the site in the Moselle region. The second, says it is out of the question to sell the facilties, as they are an integral part of France’s industrial infrastructure.

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

The Giant Currency Superstorm That is Coming to the Shores of America When the Dollar Dies

By recklessly printing, borrowing and spending money, our authorities are absolutely shredding confidence in the U.S. dollar. The rest of the world is watching this nonsense, and at some point they are going to give up on the U.S. dollar and throw their hands up in the air. When that happens, it is going to be absolutely catastrophic for the U.S. economy. Right now, we export a lot of our inflation. Each year, we buy far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and so the rest of the world ends up with giant piles of U.S. dollars. This works out pretty well for them, because the U.S. dollar is the primary reserve currency of the world and is used in international trade far more than any other currency is.

Back in 1999, the percentage of foreign exchange reserves in U.S. dollars peaked at 71 percent, and since then it has slid back to 62.2 percent. But that is still an overwhelming amount. We can print, borrow and spend like crazy because the rest of the world is there to soak up our excess dollars because they need them to trade with one another. But what will happen someday if the rest of the world decides to reject the U.S. dollar? At that point we would see a tsunami of U.S. dollars come flooding back to this country. Just take a moment and think of the worst superstorm that you can possibly imagine, and then replace every drop of rain with a dollar bill. The giant currency superstorm that will eventually hit this nation will be far worse than that.

Most Americans don’t realize that there are far more dollars in use in the rest of the world than in the United States itself. The following is from a scholarly article by Linda Goldberg…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


America Has Become an Old World Country

So Europe got the American president it wanted — the one who would present no threat to its own delusions. The United States is now officially one of us: an Old World country complete with class hatred, ethnic Balkanisation, bourgeois guilt and a paternalist ruling elite. And it is locked into the same death spiral of high public spending and self-defeating wealth redistribution as we are. Welcome to the future, and the beginning of what may turn out to be the terminal decline of the West.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

America Planned to Blow Up the Moon With a Nuclear Bomb in the 1950s, Reports Have Claimed.

US Military chiefs were reportedly keen on the sensational plot as a show of strength to intimidate arch-rivals Russia at the height of the Cold War.

The secret project was codenamed A Study of Lunar Research Flights and given the nickname Project A119…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Anti-Muslim Filmmaker Nakoula ‘Has No Regrets’

Washington: The maker of the anti-Islam movie, ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ which outraged the Muslim world, has said that he ‘has no regrets.’ Egyptian-American Coptic Christian, Nakoula Basseley said that he stands by the incendiary movie, which portrays Prophet Muhammad as a fraud and a pedophile. “I thought, before I wrote this script that I should burn myself in a public square to let the American people and the people of the world know this message that I believe in,” Nakoula told the New York Times…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Democrats Stole the Election

The electoral fraud evidence is accumulating to the point where I must conclude that the November election was stolen by the Democrats. In the months leading up to the election, report after report surfaced highlighting significant erosion of support for President Obama.

Personal observation uncovered that no one, other than die-hard Democrats, who voted for Obama in 2008 was proud of that vote and most questioned whether they would vote for him again. On election night as results trickled in, with strange voting anomalies surfacing, the margin of victory, particularly in the swing states, did not pass the “smell test.” Electoral fraud can occur at any stage in the process, but there are three main types:

1) debasing voter rolls with deceased, illegal, and fictitious voter registrations;

2) preventing eligible voters from voting by disenfranchisement, rendering unable to actually vote or duplicative votes, or instituting rules or tests that voters (particularly military absentee voters) are unable to comply; and

3) altering the results by interfering with the voting process or the counting of votes, or manipulating the means of voting through tampering with machines or altering results. There are numerous examples of each of these fraudulent activities taking place before, during, or after the November election.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Is a Good, Old-Fashioned Purge in Order for the GOP?

On November 19, Pravda’s Xavier Lerma wrote an article asserting that President (I use the term loosely) Barack Obama had been re-elected “by an illiterate society.” Some conservatives have been wont to dismiss and ridicule some of the dead-on assessments of the former Soviet newspaper since it was once in fact a Soviet newspaper.

Some of this dismissal and ridicule did occur relative to Lerma’s piece; I think however, that such observations made by those who have been there and done that ought to be considered, if not heeded.

Lerma writes “He [Obama] is a Communist without question promoting the Communist Manifesto without calling it so… His cult of personality mesmerizes those who cannot go beyond their ignorance. They will continue to follow him like those fools who still praise Lenin and Stalin in Russia. Obama’s fools and Stalin’s fools share the same drink of illusion.”

Sounds pretty dead-on if you ask me…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

State Senator Proposes Dissolving City of Detroit

LANSING (CBS Detroit) — It would no doubt be controversial, but the idea of dissolving the fiscally struggling city of Detroit and absorbing it into Wayne County is being tossed around in Lansing.

WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reports some state Republicans are talking about giving the city the option to vote itself into bankruptcy. And mid-Michigan Senator Rick Jones said all options should be considered — including dissolving the city.

“If we have to, that is one idea we have to look at. We really have to look at everything that is on the table,” Jones said. “Again, if this goes to federal bankruptcy, every employee down there will suffer, the city will suffer and the vultures will come in and take the jewels of Detroit and they will be gone.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

The Manchurian Electorate: America’s Brain Washed Voters

“So Europe got the American president it wanted — the one who would present no threat to its own delusions. The United States is now officially one of us: an Old World country complete with class hatred, ethnic Balkanisation, bourgeois guilt and a paternalist ruling elite. And it is locked into the same death spiral of high public spending and self-defeating wealth redistribution as we are. Welcome to the future, and the beginning of what may turn out to be the terminal decline of the West.” … Janet Daley, The Telegraph

We heartily recommend that you click on the link provided and read the entire article by Ms. Daley.

Just as the Europeans have, for the most part anyway, seen the error of their ways and are attempting to dig themselves out, America decides Europe was right all along — and we rushed to join them in their mass grave.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The U.S. is Blocking Energy Wealth and Jobs

What if I told you that the government was blocking America’s prosperity in the form of enormous untapped energy reserves that represent wealth and jobs that would once again put America on the path to fiscal security and growth?

Recently, Matt Vespa, on reported that the International Energy Agency released a report that said the United States has the capacity to outpace Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s leading producers of oil. It projected that the U.S. could become a net oil exporter around 2020. It could become entirely self-sufficient.

Even so, the Obama administration just moved to cordon off 1.6 million acres estimated to represent one trillion barrels worth of oil in the name of conservation. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving to so encumber hydraulic fracturing — fracking — with so many regulations it will thwart increased use of this extraction technology that has been safely in use for decades.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Those Fleeing Obama’s America: Prepare to be Taxed

30% tax on all assets above $600,000 includes Cash value of property and bank accounts.

Senator Charles Schumer has recently proposed a new law to tax Americans heavily for leaving the United States. It was in reaction to the news that Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook, had renounced his American Citizenship and was taking his $2 billion dollars in capital gains with him.

Schumer proposed to tax him 30%. Sadly John Boehner, Republican, Speaker of the House (I still think he’s a disguised Democrat), said he would support the measure.

Schumer must thank Adolph Hitler for this idea. The Fuehrer instituted the Reichsfluchsteuer tax of 25% on Jews leaving the Fatherland in the 1930s. So Herr Schumer has merely taken the basic idea and upped it by 5%.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Muslim Brotherhood Hosts Omar Khadr Luv in at University of Toronto

Not one but two Muslim Brotherhood front organizations are hosting an Omar Khadr luv in at U of T. The university’s Muslim Students Association has teamed up with CAIR-Can and Quisling 5th columnists Rick Salutin and the student chapter of Amnesty International.

“The theme of the discussion is “Rights and Responsibility”, in regards to Khadr’s rights as a Canadian citizen, international human rights as a child soldier, and the responsibility the Canadian government and we as Canadians have for his rehabilitation and reintegration into Canadian society.”

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austria: A Former MEP on Trial for Corruption

Kleine Zeitung, 27 November 2012

“In the crosshairs of justice”, headlines Kleine Zeitung. On November 26, Ernst Strasser, former MEP and former Austrian interior minister, went on trial for corruption. During his tenure in Brussels, he was secretly filmed in 2010 by two journalists from The Sunday Times posing as lobbyists who discussed the fee Strasser would accept in exchange for trying to influence European Union legislation. The European Union deputy demanded €100,000 a year for his services. According to the Austrian prosecutor, the paper notes —

Money was more important to him than his integrity. Most of the 60 delegates approached by the two British journalists — all but Strasser, and two other MEPs, a Romanian and a Slovenian — withstood the temptation.

Strasser, however, protests his innocence. In talking about money with the journalists, his lawyer claims, he intended “to reveal a conspiracy against him, possibly by a secret service,” writes Die Presse, which calls the transcript of the conversations with Strasser published by The Sunday Times “impressive testimony to his arrogance, megalomania, haughtiness and unscrupulousness.” If convicted, Strasser faces up to 10 years in prison.

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

Bulgaria: Radical Islam Trial in Bulgaria’s Pazardzhik Kicks Off

Pazardzhik. District Court of Pazardzhik opened the latest sitting on the radical Islam trial, Radio FOCUS — Pazardzhik reported. The judge panel entered the courtroom. All defendants in the trial are present. There is stepped-up police presence in front of the court and the municipal office, where a protest demonstration will be staged. Before the start of the court sitting Ali Hodzha said that all allegations and accusations were slanders. He said they [the defendants] were not the one that set churches on fire, while there were other people in Bulgaria, who were setting mosques on fire. He considered the trial discrimination.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe’s €50bn Bung That Enriches Landowners and Kills Wildlife

The EU’s farm subsidies are a modern equivalent of feudal aid. As Europe suffers under austerity, it’s right to call for reform

by George Monbiot

There’s a neat symmetry in the numbers that helped to sink the European summit. The proposed budget was €50bn higher than the UK government could accept. This is the amount of money that European farmers are given every year. Britain’s contentious budget rebate is worth €3.6bn a year: a fraction less than our contribution to Europe’s farm subsidies.

Squatting at the heart of last week’s summit, poisoning all negotiations, is a vast, wobbling lump of pork fat called the common agricultural policy. The talks collapsed partly because the president of the European council, pressed by François Hollande, proposed inflating the great blob by a further €8bn over six years. I don’t often find myself on their side, but the British and Dutch governments were right to say no.

It is a source of perpetual wonder that the people of Europe tolerate this robbery. Farm subsidies are the 21st century equivalent of feudal aid: the taxes medieval vassals were forced to pay their lords for the privilege of being sat upon. The single payment scheme, which accounts for most of the money, is an award for owning land. The more you own, the more you receive.

By astonishing coincidence, the biggest landowners happen to be among the richest people in Europe. Every taxpayer in the EU, including the poorest, subsidises the lords of the land: not once, as we did during the bank bailouts, but in perpetuity. Every household in the UK pays an average of £245 a year to keep millionaires in the style to which they are accustomed. No more regressive form of taxation has been devised on this continent since the old autocracies were overthrown. Never mind French farmers dumping manure in the streets: we should be dumping manure on French farmers.

It would be unfair to stop there. There are plenty of people in the UK who deserve the same treatment. Last year the House of Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee, in a bizarrely unbalanced report, maintained that the farm subsidy system does not go far enough. It wants to supplement payments for owning land with a resumption of headage payments: money for every animal farmers cram into their fields.

This nonsense outfrenches the French. There were excellent reasons for phasing out headage payments in 2003. They provided an incentive to load the hills with as many animals (mostly sheep) as possible, regardless of the impact on the natural world and the welfare of the sheep. The extra sheep flooded the market, bankrupting the farmers whom the payments were supposed to protect. The committee’s proposal accords with a longstanding and idiotic European principle: the less suitable a region is for farming, the more money is spent to ensure that farming persists there. This is the rationale for such extra subsidies as less favoured area payments.

This approach is justified by a groundless claim: that farming, particularly in the uplands, is required to protect the environment. The European commission maintains that farming is essential to “combat biodiversity loss” and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The parliamentary committee claims that fewer cattle and sheep in the hills has led to “undergrazing”, causing such horrors as the growth of bracken. How nature managed to survive for the 3 billion years before humans arrived to look after it is anyone’s guess…

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

Italy Wins Battle Over EU Job Announcements

Must be published in all 23 languages of member states

(ANSA) — Brussels, November 27 — Italy on Tuesday won its legal battle against the publication job announcements in just three languages, English, French and German, in the European Union’s Official Journal.

The European Court of Justice said on Tuesday that it had ruled that the practice was discriminatory and that the announcements must be published in all of the 23 languages of member states.

The decision came after Italy appealed against a 2010 decision that allowed the EU to publish job announcements only in English, French and German

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Voodoo Ritual Drug Dealers Target Genoa Police

Drug dealers desperate to elude capture turn to African rites

(ANSA) — Genoa, November 27 — Imaginative Genoa drug dealers, anxious to elude police and the courts, turned to voodoo rituals from Senegal for help.

Investigators who arrested 33 people in connection with cocaine dealing in the northwestern Italian city discovered that hired magicians were performing voodoo rituals to try to protect the drug dealers.

Another 20 people are still being sought in connection with the drug ring.

Rituals, which involved fish, chicken, and vegetables and carried a price tag of about 1,000 euros each, were performed in an attempt to bring the “evil eye” on criminal justice authorities.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Northern League Politician Calls Palermo ‘Africa’

Massimo Bessone ridicules Sicily ahead of Verona soccer match

(ANSA) — Palermo, November 27 — A northern Italian politician and mid-level member of the populist Northern League party sparked an online brouhaha on Tuesday when he referred to Sicily as Africa in a Facebook comment.

“It is our team’s first official game in Africa,” said Massimo Bessone of the Verona soccer team’s scheduled match with Palermo in the Sicilian team’s home stadium on Tuesday evening.

The two teams are vying for position in the Italian Cup.

Bessone lives in the northeastern region of Trentino-Alto Adige, and is a city council member for Bressanone. He is also a coordinator for the Northern League, which advocates seceding from central and southern Italy. Bessone made his comment on the “Hellas Verona Style” Facebook page.

Bessone’s website vigorously denied that either he or the Northern League were racist.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Majority in Dutch Parliament Move to Scrap Law Making it a Crime to Insult God

AMSTERDAM — The Almighty will have to defend his own name from now on: Dutch parliament has accepted a motion that will scrap a law making it a crime to insult God.

A majority of parties said Wednesday the European Union nation no longer needs the law, which hasn’t been invoked in the past half-century.

The government’s telecom minister also wants to have a word with Zuckerberg.

The movement to decriminalize blasphemy gathered strength in the last decade amid a national debate about the limits of freedom of speech. The climax came at the 2011 trial of far-right politician Geert Wilders, when judges ruled he had the right to criticize Islam, even if his opinions were insulting to many Muslims.

It still remains illegal under Dutch law to insult police officers or Queen Beatrix, the country’s monarch.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Riots Rock Slovenia’s Second Largest City

LJUBLJANA, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) — Recent protests and bloody conflicts between protestors and police in Maribor have spoiled quietness and calm in the second largest city of Slovenia, local media reported on Tuesday. A dozen police officers were injured and 27 protesters were arrested when 10,000-strong protest against Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler, who was accused of corruption, turned violent on Monday. More over, three police horses sustained minor injuries and 14 police cars were damaged by the protesters, Maribor police announced on Tuesday. The social turmoil was said to be the largest violent protest since Slovenia declared independence in 1991. Slovenian Interior Minister Vinko Gorenak said the protests were illegal. He condemned organizers of the protest for having “incited violence” and called for calm. President Danilo Turk, who voiced his concern over the use of force in the latest conflict, called for an independent inquiry.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: “Goldfinger” Cameron v “007” Gove

by Paul Goodman

“Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action” — Ian Fleming, Goldfinger. David Cameron wants Britain to stay in the EU. Michael Gove would vote for it to come out. Happenstance.

Mr Cameron believes that UKIP members are “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly”. Mr Gove says that UKIP is a mainstream political party. Coincidence.

When do we get the enemy action?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Council Poised for U-Turn After Taking Foster Children Away From UKIP Members

A council appears poised to back down over its controversial decision to remove three children from their foster parents because their membership of the UK Independence Party meant they supported “racist” policies.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council has announced it will now carry out an urgent review of the case, after the husband and wife, who have been fostering for nearly seven years, said they were made to feel like criminals when a social worker told them their views on immigration made them unsuitable carers for the three ethnic minority children.

The decision provoked widespread criticism, with campaigners representing foster parents describing the decision as “ridiculous” and warning that it could deter other prospective foster parents from volunteering.

Joyce Thacker, the council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services, toured radio and television studios on Saturday to defend the decision, saying the children had been removed in order to protect their “cultural and ethnic needs”.

But shortly after, and in the face of widespread condemnation, Rotherham announced its review of the decision.

Roger Stone, the council’s Labour leader, said: “The professionals are telling me the decision was made in the best interests of the children and I have no problems with that at all.

He added, however: “We will now carry out an inquiry into whether all the correct procedures were carried out and whether things have been done properly. That inquiry has probably started already.”

Mrs Thacker had told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “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.”

“Also the fact of the matter is I have to look at the children’s cultural and ethnic needs. The children have been in care proceedings before and the judge had previously criticised us for not looking after the children’s cultural and ethnic needs, and we have had to really take that into consideration with the placement that they were in.”

Asked what the specific problem was with the couple being Ukip members, Mrs Thacker told the BBC: “We have to think about the clear statements on ending multi-culturalism for example.

“These children are from EU migrant backgrounds and Ukip has very clear statements on ending multiculturalism, not having that going forward, and I have to think about how sensitive I am being to those children.”

Mrs Thacker said the three children had been placed with the couple as an emergency and the arrangement was never going to be long-term.

She added that there was no issue about the quality of care the couple provided and said she would co-operate with any investigation.

The Labour Party, which runs Rotherham, quickly tried to distance itself from the council’s decision.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, called for an urgent investigation into the case, adding: “What matters is children in Rotherham and elsewhere, and being a member of a political party like Ukip should not be a bar to fostering children.

“Right-thinking people across the country will think there are thousands of children who need to be looked after, who need fostering, we shouldn’t have the situation where membership of a party like Ukip excludes you from doing that.

“We need loving homes for children across the country. That can come in different forms, it’s not about what political party you are a member of.”

Meanwhile Michael Gove, who heads the Government department responsible for children’s services and who was himself adopted as a child, described Rotherham’s decision as “indefensible”.

He said social workers 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.

Mr Gove said: “Rotherham council have made the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons. Rotherham’s reasons for denying this family the chance to foster are indefensible,” he said.

“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.”

The couple, who do not want to be named to avoid identifying the children they have fostered, 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.

Former Labour voters, they have been approved foster parents for nearly seven years and have looked after about a dozen different children, one of them in a placement lasting four years…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

UK: Could Labour Lose the Rotherham by-Election?

The party still expects to win but is increasingly nervous about the UKIP threat.

As well as the publication of the Leveson report, tomorrow sees three parliamentary by-elections — in Middlesborough, Croydon North and Rotherham. Of these, it is the latter that Labour is concentrating resources on. A combination of factors — the date (which will reduce turnout), the child grooming scandals, Denis MacShane’s resignation over false invoices, a divided local party and, most recently, the UKIP fostering row — means that the result is increasingly hard to predict.

It was initially Respect, which is fielding Yvonne Ridley, a former journalist who famously converted to Islam after her capture by the Taliban, that was seen as the main threat, but it is now UKIP, support for which has surged since the weekend, that represents the greatest challenge to Labour. The latest YouGov poll puts Nigel Farage’s party on 11 per cent (up from eight per cent), the party’s highest-ever rating, and it is likely to have received a far larger bounce in Rotherham.

The expectation among those Labour MPs I’ve spoken to remains that the party will retain the seat (as well as Middlesborough and Croydon North), albeit, one said, with a “significantly reduced majority”. The advantage for Labour, which currently holds a majority of 10,462 in Rotherham, is that the protest vote will be split four ways between UKIP, Respect, the BNP (which polled 10.4 per cent in 2010) and the English Democrats. One hope among party activists is that the Tories will be pushed into third or even fourth place, leaving them unable to spin the result against Labour.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Mosque Aids Wiltshire Air Ambulance

MEMBERS of an Islamic centre and mosque presented a cheque for £800 to Wiltshire Air Ambulance after Friday prayers last week. The Al Habib Islamic Centre, in Chapel Street, Gorse Hill, has been collecting donations and people were encouraged during Friday sermons to give towards a cause that provides a service to all the people of Wiltshire. Muneer Ahmed, of Al Habib, said: “The management of Al Habib thinks that this is the best start of a new Islamic year where it can contribute and come closer with communities living in Wiltshire.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Our Internet Voters Calling for Political Change in Rotherham

NEARLY three quarters of the people who took part in our poll said they would be voting for change in tomorrow’s Rotherham by-election. We asked our internet visitors whether recent events in the town had changed the way they were thinking of voting. Hundreds of you took part and currently 74% want to see political change. Just over 15% say they will vote the way they always do, 2.5% say they are undecided, 8.2% say they haven’t made up their minds who to vote for yet and the rest say they are undecided.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Rudyard Kipling Was a Better Economist That Gordon Brown

If by Rudyard Kipling probably isn’t taught in many schools these days, but it ought to be. Consider the truth packed into just two short lines from the poem:

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / And treat those two impostors just the same”

Much more than a simple encouragement to take life’s ups-and-downs in one’s stride, it is a recognition that disruptive events are unpredictable (though inevitable) and that what makes one grow as an individual (“you’ll be a Man, my son!”) is not some vain attempt to control such uncertainties, but our willingness to adapt to and learn from them.

It is a philosophy that was brought bang up-to-date by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his international bestseller, The Black Swan — which exposed the complacency and arrogance that led to our current economic predicament…

Debt has its uses, of course, but it also tempts us to deny reality, evade responsibility and put-off the inevitable. This applies to individuals, but also to entire nations. In misusing debt to abolish boom and bust (“Triumph and Disaster”) Gordon Brown and Alan Greenspan only succeeded in turning disruption into devastation.

[Reader comment by David 2 on 28 November 2012 at about 10 am.]

It would be difficult to think of ANYONE who is/was not a better economist than the obnoxious Bottler Brown!

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UKIP Soars to Its Highest Poll Rating After Fostering Scandal

UKIP last night soared to its highest poll rating in the wake of the fostering scandal.

An exclusive YouGov poll for The Sun put the party on 11 per cent — up from eight per cent just two weeks ago…

[JP note: But Labour still runs the country — according to the Times (£) today ‘more than 77 per cent of people with political backgrounds who were appointed to public bodies last year were aligned to Labour. Only 14 per cent were Tory and a mere 4 per cent were Liberal Democrates.’

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UKIP Aren’t Surfing a Wave …

by Dan Hodges

Sorry, but it isn’t going to happen. In 1983 the SDP were going to break the mould of British politics; they didn’t. In 1989 the Greens were going to transform the British political landscape; they couldn’t. And in 2015 the great Ukip breakthrough will disintegrate upon the unyielding wall of electoral reality…

[Reader comment kirk_to_enterprise on 27 November 2012 at 10:54 pm.]

Yeah Dan, maybe. Who knows — but even if it is the last flickering of some personal sense of survival and pride, I’m glad we’re seeing it rather than the craven dhimmitude of the lefty liberal …

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UKIP Fostering Row: ‘Mafia’ Council Told US to Keep Quiet, Say Parents

The parents at the centre of the Ukip fostering row said the council had behaved “like the mafia” and told them to keep quiet after removing three children from their care.

The couple believe Rotherham metropolitan borough council hoped they would “sink into the background” after social workers took the ethnic minority children away because they were members of the UK Independence Party. The wife said: “These people will just do it again. They came round like the mafia and said we are taking the children because you are members of Ukip. We do feel that they had a hidden agenda. It was in their interests for us to keep quiet. These people thought we would just quietly sink into the background [but] we are not just going to go away and remain quiet, we have been so badly treated.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Dream of ‘Greater Albania’ Alive at Centennial

On this day in 1912, Albania became the last Balkan country to gain independence from the Ottoman Empire. But Albanians in Kosovo were left outside the new state, giving rise to the dream of a united Albanian nation.

The dream of unifying Kosovo and Albania has gained new vigor since the smaller country declared independence in February 2008. The nationalist movement “Vetëvendosja” (“Self-determination”) is the third-greatest force in the Kosovan parliament. “The national union of Kosovo and Albania is an indisputable right of the Albanian people, who were unjustly divided by history,” argued Glauk Konufca, one of Vetëvendosja’s political leaders. His party wants a referendum on unification — but its proposals to the parliament have so far remained unsuccessful.

And the Vetëvendosja movement is not alone. In Albania, the “Aleanca Kuq e Zi” (Red-Black Alliance) was founded in the summer of 2012 with a similar platform. At the same time, there are nationalist movements and groupings in other regions where Albanians have settled, such as Macedonia, Montenegro, and parts of southern Serbia. These groups consider the flag with the double-headed black eagle on a red background as their national flag, and would like to become part of Albania sooner rather than later…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egyptian Christians Sentenced to Death for Islam Film

(Reuters) — A Cairo court on Wednesday sentenced to death seven Egyptian Christians tried in absentia for participating in an anti-Islam video that was released on the Internet in September and prompted violent protests in Muslim countries.

“The seven accused persons were convicted of insulting the Islamic religion through participating in producing and offering a movie that insults Islam and its prophet,” Judge Saif al-Nasr Soliman said.

The low-budget video, produced privately in California, denigrated the Prophet Mohammad and triggered anti-U.S. protests and attacks on Western embassies around the Muslim world.

The convicted persons included Egyptian-American Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, who is currently serving a one-year-jail term in Los Angeles after an American court convicted him of probation violations that stemmed from his role in the movie.

The 13-minute video portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and a sexual deviant, although cast members have said they were misled into appearing in a film they believed was an adventure drama called “Desert Warrior.”

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church did not issue an official comment on the ruling.

“The Church denounced the movie, which it has nothing to do with. As for today’s case, it is a court ruling and the Church does not comment on court decisions,” said a Church source who asked not to be named.

Christians make up around 10 percent of Egypt’s 83 million people and many complain of discrimination in work and treatment.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Egypt Court Sentences 8 to Death Over Prophet Film

An Egyptian court convicted in absentia Wednesday seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world.

The case was seen as largely symbolic because the defendants, most of whom live in the United States, are all outside Egypt and are thus unlikely to ever face the verdict. The charges were issued in September amid a wave of public outrage in Egypt over the amateur film, which was produced by an Egyptian-American Copt.

The low-budget “Innocence of Muslims,” parts of which were made available online, portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and buffoon.

Egypt’s official news agency said the court found the defendants guilty of harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam, and spreading false information — charges that carry the death sentence.

Maximum sentences are common in cases tried in absentia in Egypt. Capital punishment decisions are reviewed by the country’s chief religious authority, who must approve or reject the sentence. A final verdict is scheduled on Jan. 29.

The man behind the film, Mark Basseley Youssef, is among those convicted. He was sentenced in a California court earlier this month to a year in federal prison for probation violations in an unrelated matter. Youssef, 55, admitted that he had used several false names in violation of his probation order and obtained a driver’s license under a false name. He was on probation for a bank fraud case.

Florida-based Terry Jones, another of those sentenced, is the pastor of Dove World Outreach, a church of less than 50 members in Gainesville, Fla., not far from the University of Florida. He has said he was contacted by the filmmaker to promote the film, as well as Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the U.S. who posted the video clips on his website, were also among those charged.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Jones said the ruling “shows the true face of Islam” — one that he views as intolerant of dissent and opposed to basic freedoms of speech and religion.

“We can speak out here in America,” Jones said. “That freedom means that we criticize government leadership, religion even at times. Islam is not a religion that tolerates any type of criticism.”

The connection of the other five sentenced by the court was not immediately clear. They include two who work with Sadek at a radical Coptic group in the U.S. that has called for an independent Coptic state, a priest who hosts TV programs from the U.S., and a lawyer living in Canada who has previously sued the Egyptian state over riots in 2000 that left 21 Christians dead.

The other person is a woman who converted to Christianity and is a staunch critic of Islam…

[Return to headlines]

Is Egypt About to Become the New Iran?

by Con Coughlin

It is not only the anti-government protesters in Egypt’s Tahrir Square who should be concerned about President Mohammed Morsi’s audacious power grab. Mr Morsi’s claim at the weekend that “God’s will and elections made me the captain of this ship” has echoes of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s claim during the 1979 Iranian revolution that his mission to overthrow the Shah enjoyed divine guidance…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Libya: Key GOP Senators Still Troubled by Benghazi Attacks After Meeting Rice

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) — Three heavy-weight Republican senators were still troubled on Tuesday by the deadly September attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi even after their private meeting with America’s UN envoy and potential candidate for the next secretary of state, Susan Rice. The three key GOP senators, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, held a private meeting for more than a hour with Rice and the acting CIA Director Michael Morell.

The meeting was designed to provide Rice, who is facing potential blockade on her nomination as the next U.S. top diplomat, with an opportunity to explain and allay concerns on the September- 11 Benghazi attacks which killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. According to reports, during the meeting, Rice admitted that her comments made on national television talkshows five days after the attacks, which described them as a spontaneous protest-turned violent act, were wrong…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North African Jews Face Precarious Future

The once-large Jewish communities in Tunisia and Egypt have almost disappeared. Those who remain are treated with mistrust and suspicion by society. The Arab Spring has made their situation even more difficult.

The Great Synagogue of Tunis is clearly recognizable as a Jewish house of worship from a distance, with a Star of David ornamenting its façade. But congregants are few and far between these days. Most of Tunisia’s Jews have emigrated, with just 2,000 remaining out of a population that once numbered in the hundreds of thousands…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Palestine UN Status Lift Gets Norway Nod

Norway will be approving the Palestinians’ bid to ask the UN General Assembly for upgrade to a ‘non-member observer’ state, officials say.

Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide publicised Norway’s decision this morning, declaring, “The Palestinians are clearly in their right to send an application.”

“We’ll be voting in favour as we’ve read it and agree with what the text says,” he added.

Palestine is already a UN observer. Any raising of status would be without it getting voting rights.

Norway’s move today also comes following its earlier cautious endorsement for Palestinian UN recognition, and conditional support for a separate Palestinian state.

Moreover, Norway has favoured Palestine obtains a seat at the UN.

“Both the Palestinian readiness for statehood and the declarations and commitments they have made should be acknowledged,” then Deputy Foreign Minister Barth Eide told the UN last year, following President Mahmoud Abbas’ bid for full UN membership.

“Norway has consistently stood by Israel and its inherent right to self-defence in accordance with international law. We have also supported the Palestinian right to statehood and the building of the Palestinian Authority (PA).”

Jonas Gahr Støre, who was Foreign Minister at the time, warned President Abbas against his move, though.

He advised Abbas to go to the UN General Assembly instead of the UN Security Council, fearing the Palestinian President’s move could backfire.

Israeli diplomats worked feverishly at the time to avoid what they termed as a “train crash” at the UN if the Palestinian President ran the full course.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran: Navy Launches New Submarines, Hovercrafts: Report

TEHRAN, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) — The Islamic republic launched two upgraded versions of the indigenously-built Ghadir-class light submarine and two overhauled hovercrafts, Press TV reported Wednesday. In the ceremony held in Iran’s southern port city of Bandar Abbas to launch the naval vessels, Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said that the country has reached self- sufficiency in the defense sector and can now meet its defense demands, according to Press TV. “Since the beginning of the Islamic revolution (in 1979), we have learned not to ask for help from other countries … (but to) stand on our own feet in meeting our demands,” Sayyari was quoted as saying…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Minor Explosion Near Indian Embassy in Bahrain, No Casualties

MANAMA, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) — A home-made explosive detonated near the Indian Embassy in Adliya late on Tuesday night and Bahrain police were scouring for evidence of more strange objects placed in the popular area. The Bahrain Interior Ministry confirmed it was “minor explosion, “ and there was no damages or any casualties. Sources told Xinhua that a team of forensic experts dusted the area for fingerprints and questioned residents and eye-witness, who saw someone place the object near the trash can. The incident follows a spate of explosions on November 5, which killed Indian Thirunavukarasu Murugaiyan, 29, and 33-year-old Bangladeshi Shajib Mian Shukur Mian. One of the five blasts that day also injured Indian sanitation worker Dhana Ram Sainin.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syrian Newspaper Names 142 Dead Foreign Fighters

A Syrian newspaper yesterday published the names of 142 foreign fighters from 18 countries the regime said were killed alongside rebels in Syria’s conflict.

The list, which the pro-regime Al Watan reported was sent to the United Nations Security Council by the Syrian government last month, included Arab, North African, Central and South Asian “terrorists”, giving the date and place of their death.

“Most are jihadists who belong to Al Qaeda’s network, or who joined it after arriving in Syria,” the paper reported.

Among the people named were 47 Saudis, 24 Libyans, 10 Tunisians, nine Egyptians, six Qataris and five Lebanese. It also listed 11 Afghans, five Turks, three Chechens, one Chadian and one Azerbaijani.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Erdogan Against Suleiman TV Series

Claims Ottoman heritage, ‘We will go everywhere they did’

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 26 — Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan took exception to the highly popular TV serial ‘Muhtesem Yuzyl’ about Suleiman the Magnificent, because it focuses too much on the harem and not enough on the sultan’s conquests, local media reported.

“We have alerted the authorities, and expect the courts to take appropriate decisions,” Cumhuriyet quoted Erdogan as saying, as he condemned the TV series’ producers and network owners. “Our ancestors were not like that.” Erdogan also appeared to claim the Ottoman heritage for his own foreign policy. “We will go everywhere our ancestors took their horses,” Erdogan reportedly said in response to criticism about his “neo-Ottoman” foreign policy with regards to the internal affairs of Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, Kosovo, and Burma.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Western-Backed Terrorists in Syria Slaughter Christians in Bombing

Twin car bombs carried out by the Western-backed so-called “rebels” have killed dozens of civilians in a Christian-Druze neighborhood in Damascus, highlighting the sectarian extremism, not “democratic” aspirations, as well as the level of depravity, driving opponents of the Syrian government. Immediately after the explosions, and as casualty figures began trickling in, Associated Press (AP) attempted to spin and downplay the act of terrorism, claiming in its report, “Twin car bombs kill 20 in Syria, hospitals say,” that:

“Syrian hospital officials say twin car bombs have killed at least 20 people in a Damascus suburb that is mostly loyal to President Bashar Assad.”

Excusing egregious acts of terrorism aimed at Syria’s civilian population by claiming those targeted were “mostly loyal to President Bashar Assad” has been a favorite tactic of AP, BBC, CNN, Fox News, and others. In reality, the vast majority of Syrians, from Christians to Druze, from Shia’a Muslims to moderate Sunnis, are targets of the sectarian extremist, Saudi-Wahhabi indoctrinated terrorists the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia have been funding, arming, importing from across the region, and arraying against the people of Syria since at least 2007.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Buying Uzbek Help for Afghanistan Withdrawal

The German cabinet has signed off on plans for the military — including massive amounts of equipment — to leave Afghanistan by 2014. But Germany will be paying a stiff toll to move it all through oppressive Uzbekistan.

The German government plans to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. That’s a real challenge — how is all the German military equipment that has collected in the country over the last 10 years to be brought back to Germany? An estimated 1,700 vehicles and 6,000 shipping containers are due to return to Germany within the next two years…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: Karnataka: 39 Anti-Christian Attacks in 2012

The information came from the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). The latest episodes were reported last Friday. A group of Muslim radicals were responsible for an attack in Bellary District; members of the Hindu nationalist Bajrang Dal struck in Kolar District. “Fears in Karnataka have been reignited,” GCIC head said.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — This year, 39 attacks were perpetrated against the Christian community in Karnataka, this according to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCICI), the latest reported last Friday in two separate locations in the state. In Bellary District, Muslim fundamentalists attacked an Anglican clergyman and tried to destroy Christian churches and Christian-run facilities. In Kolar District, Hindu nationalists from the Bajrang Dal disrupted the ceremony consecrating a Pentecostal church. In both cases, GCIC President Sajan George noted, “fears in Karnataka have been reignited in the hearts of Christians.”

In Hospet (Bellary District), a Muslim mob attacked Rev Lewis Mascarenhas, a pastor in the (Anglican) Church of South India (CSI), and badly beat him because he had visited some Muslims who had asked him to talk about Jesus and Christianity. After he arrived, another group of Muslims came and beat him up.

Soon after, they dragged the bleeding clergyman to a nearby police station accusing of conducting forced conversions. Police eventually took the reverend to B.C. Acharya Hospital but kept him in their custody.

Meanwhile, other Muslims attacked churches and Christian facilities in Hospet, bent on destroying them. Warned, police moved in quickly to protect the buildings to avoid further attacks.

In another incident last Friday, 50 activists from the Hindu ultranationalist Bajrang Dal disrupted the consecration ceremony for the Jesus Prayer Hall, a Pentecostal church, in Kammasahalli village (Kolar District).

The hooligans attacked Rev Girish and the hundred or so worshippers present. They then proceeded to set up a statue of the Hindu god Ganesh, and started a pooja, a Hindu ceremony.

Police in Mulbagal arrived at the scene but instead of removing the statue they asked the clergyman to show his title deeds to the property.

“Such attacks are happening on a regular basis in states run by Bharatiya Janata Party,” Sajan George noted. The Hindu ultranationalist party backs violent Sangh Parivar groups.

In the other case, the attack by Muslims coincided with “big demonstrations organised by the Popular Front of India (PFI) in various Karnataka districts.”

The PFI is a confederation of Muslim organisations, with some 800,000 members.

Although it claims to defend human rights for every community, “it is impossible to separate the Popular Front of India and its campaigns from fresh communal tensions,” Sajan George said.

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

India Appoints First Muslim to Head Intelligence Bureau in 125-Year History

by Jason Burke

The appointment of Syed Asif Ibrahim as head of India’s Intelligence Bureau has been hailed as a breakthrough against centuries of prejudice

Since the heyday of the British Raj, India’s Intelligence Bureau has been watching over all those myriad internal threats to the security of the citizens, who now number 1.2bn, of perhaps the most varied country in the world. Yet for all the vaunted secularism of the world’s largest democracy, the IB, in its 125-year history, has never been led by a Muslim…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

China: Wen Jiabao and NY Times Still at Odds Over Corruption Accusations

Ping An Insurance, one of China’s largest insurance companies, could sue the US paper over a second article saying that the premier used its influence to avoid the company’s break-up with a windfall peaking at US$ 2.2 billion for both himself and his group.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — The Chinese government and The New York Times are still at odds over an article in early November that suggested that the family of Premier Wen Jiabao had accumulated massive wealth. Ping An Insurance yesterday said that it is considering taking legal action for another report published on Saturday, about its president asking Wen to avoid financial losses.

The New York Times, in a follow-up article, said that in 1999 Ping An chairman Ma Mingzhe wrote to Wen and later met his wife at a time when the authorities were envisaging new rules that could have led to Ping An’s break-up.

Following this personal appeal, the government accepted the company’s request for a waiver, which enabled Ping An to become China’s second largest life insurance company and sell shares.

According to The New York Times, people close to Wen Jiabao bought shares in the company before others could at a quarter of the value. The article also said that the value of investment by the premier’s group peaked at US$ 2.2 billion in 2007.

In a statement, Ping An said recent media coverage related to the company contained “serious inaccuracies, facts being distorted and taken out of context as well as flawed logic.” The company would therefore take “appropriate legal action commensurate with the damage and adverse impact the media reports have caused to the company”.

Whatever the case, the retiring Wen Jiabao is the greatest loser. In March, he is expected to be replaced by Li Keqiang. Until now, his political career had been centred on the idea that he came from a poor background and had remained loyal to his roots.

The New York Times’ attacks show instead that he, like other leaders, did his best to increase his personal fortune and that of his family.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Botswana: Christians and Muslims Condemn Mosque Graffiti

Botswana Christian and Muslim groups have expressed complete disapproval of an incident in which the walls of Gaborone Main Mosque were defaced, Gabzfm reported. It is reported that the spray paintings praised Jesus Christ and urged Muslims to convert to the Christian faith. The incident has raised fears that it could create intolerance between the two religious groups. Chairperson of the Botswana Council of Churches, Reverend Mpho Moruakgomo reportedly said the Christian community was not pleased with the graffiti.

Meanwhile, Maulwana Dawood of the Muslim Association of Botswana said the Islamic faith took the painting as an isolated incident which was done by someone trying to be mischievous.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Court Allows Amsterdam to Remove Asylum Seekers Camp

THE HAGUE, Nov. 28(Xinhua) — The Amsterdam court on Wednesday ordered 137 failed asylum seekers to leave their camp in the Amsterdam district of Osdorp this week.

If the asylum seekers, who had been rejected in their application for residence permits, do not leave, the municipality of Amsterdam would have the permission to remove their tent camp on Friday, the court said.

The court rejected the asylum seekers’ claims, agreeing instead with the Amsterdam mayor that the camp had grown too big and that the asylum seekers did not comply with hygiene rules. There is no running water and waste is not properly cleaned. The judge also noted a number of security concerns. The tent camp was started in September by 38 asylum seekers to draw attention to their plight. In recent weeks, more and more asylum seekers joined them. The Amsterdam municipality hoped that protesters would use the basic shelter facilities offered to them provisionally or find shelter elsewhere.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Belgian Man Discovers Wife of 19 Years Was Born a Man

A BELGIAN man has been left devastated after discovering his wife of 19 years was born a man.

The Antwerp man, known only as Jan, said he felt like his world had been violated after he discovered the truth about “Monica”.

Jan, 43, said he met Monica when she arrived in Beligum from Indonesia to be an au pair for his sister’s children and he described her as “very beautiful and feminine”, the Daily Mail reports.

But he said he now understood why she was no good at ironing and housework.

“‘I thought she was an attractive woman, and she was all woman — she had no male traits,” she told Belgium’s Nieuwsblad newspaper.

“I didn’t suspect a thing until a cousin of hers came to visit and let something slip.

“I mentioned it to my son and he said he’d heard a rumour too that Monica used to be a man.

“One evening I confronted her and she finally confessed she had been born a boy and had a sex change operation.

“My world collapsed in a few seconds. I was horrified. I feel like have been violated for almost 20 years.”

The couple are still living in the same house after a judge refused an application from Jan to have her evicted.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Germany to Ban Sex With Animals After Huge Rise in Farm Yard ‘Pimping’

GERMANY is poised to reinstate an old law banning sex with animals after a sharp rise in incidents of bestiality — and even the pimping of farm animals.

The country’s parliament is due to debate changes to the national Animal Protection Code this week, with the agricultural committee of the Bundestag pledging fines of £20,000 for a first offence.

Bestiality dropped off the statute books as a crime in 1969 but in recent years incidents of it have mushroomed along with websites promoting it.

There are even “erotic zoos” for perverts to visit and abuse animals ranging from llamas to goats.

Hans-Michael Goldmann, chairman of the agriculture committee, said the government aimed to forbid using an animal “for individual sexual acts and to outlaw people ‘pimping’ creatures to others for sexual use”.

But pro-zoophilia campaign group ZETA — Zoophiles Commitment to Tolerance and Enlightenment — vowed to challenge any ban on bestiality.

Chairman Michael Kiok said: “Mere concepts of morality have no business being law.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

‘I’m Tired of Doing My Hair and Make-Up’: Pensioner: 75, Who Became a Woman in Sex Change Operation 23 Years Ago Wants to be a Man Again

A pensioner is pleading with the NHS to turn her from a woman back into a man, after realising the sex change operation she had 23 years ago was a huge mistake.

RAF veteran Gary Norton, 75, underwent a full male to female gender reassignment — but says it left her trapped in the wrong body.

She’s now ditched her wardrobe of women’s clothes to live as a man again and is on the waiting list for a mastectomy.

The pensioner, who is legally and still physically a woman, says she is desperate to return to her birth sex before it is too late.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Students Told to Disavow ‘American-Ness, Maleness, Whiteness, Heterosexuality’

A political science professor at Butler University asks students to disregard their “American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status” when writing and speaking in the classroom — a practice the school’s arts and sciences dean defended as a way to negate students’ inherent prejudices.

The syllabus of the course at Butler, a small Midwestern liberal arts institution in Indianapolis, spells out that students should use “inclusive language” because it’s “a fundamental issue of social justice.”


As a journalism major, I will now strive to avoid the liberal arts college as much as possible, not because the college fails to provide its students with any practical knowledge, but because the college seeks to indoctrinate its students with a hostile paradigm that views people like me — an American, white, heterosexual male from a middle-class background — as evil; whitey-righty need not attend.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Thrown to the Lions

Review of Rupert Shortt
A faith under attack
298pp. Rider. £20.
978 1 84604275

For Christians in Western Europe and North America, freedom of belief and worship is universal and unquestioned. For perhaps 200 million of their fellow believers elsewhere — principally in Asia, the Middle East and some parts of Africa — this is not the case. Rupert Shortt, Religion Editor of the TLS, has written this book out of a conviction that this state of affairs “ought to be a major foreign policy issue for governments across a vast belt of the world” (it is in fact governments in the Western world for whom this ought to be a foreign policy issue). That it is not so, Shortt maintains, “tells us much about a rarely acknowledged hierarchy of victimhood” in which Christians occupy a low rank. That indifference to their predicament, Shortt suggests, is due to the lingering but largely false impression prevalent in the post-Enlightenment West that human conflicts can more often be traced to religion than to struggles for power, resources or status…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


As Prices for Damien Hirst’s Works Plummet, Pity the Credulous Saps Who Spent Fortunes on His Tosh

Finally! The market price for Damien Hirst’s art is falling and some of his work is being withdrawn unsold from auctions.

While paintings by some of the 20th- century’s great artists such as Picasso and Matisse are still increasing in value despite the financial collapse, Hirst’s prices are down by 30 per cent since their 2008 peak and one in three of his pieces has failed to sell at all.

Not everyone recognises that the artist emperor is naked, but in the art world there’s a growing unease that his clothes might be looking a bit threadbare.


In decades to come, people will look back and wonder why, in fashionable circles at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, rubbish such as this was displayed as art.

How, they will ask, could educated people promote and buy this kind of stuff? How could the art schools tell students not to bother learning to draw or paint? How could our museums have consigned great works to storage so as to make space for what later generations will find a bad joke?

Above all, they might ask why Sir Nicholas Serota, the most influential museum director of his age — educated in an exclusive public school, Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute — used his power as head of the Tate galleries to promote talentless self-publicists and to encourage the proliferation of the ugly and the pointless.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

"legally and still physically a woman"

apparently it's nothing to do with XX/XY chromosomes anymore, have we all gone mad?