Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121209

Financial Crisis
»Greece: Athens to Tax More Businesses, Middle Income
»IMF Chief Christine Lagarde Warns US of Worldwide Effects of Fiscal Cliff
»On the Fiscal Cliff and a Constitution in Crisis
»US Households Already Went Off Their Fiscal Cliff and Breached Their Debt Ceiling
»Apple-Google Team Up for $500 Million-Plus Kodak Patents Bid
»Former US President Slams Drone Attacks
»Iranians Prepare Terror Campaign Inside U.S.
»Race With the Devil—Is America Converting to Marxism?
Europe and the EU
»Greece: Papandreou at the Top of “Lagarde List”?
»Human Traffickers: Pimps Busted in Italy
»Italy: Centre-Left PD Makes New Gains, Says Poll
»Italy: More Women Than Men to Lead in Grillo’s Five Star Movement
»Italy: Berlusconi Attacks on Judiciary Offensive and Unacceptable
»Italy: PM Monti Resigns: Urges Parties to be Responsible
»Italy: Facebook Offices Raided in Milan by Tax Police
»Mafia Arrests for Sicily Renewable-Energy Infiltration
»Magnus Carlsen Becomes Game’s ‘Highest-Rated Player of All Time’
»Sicily Governor Says Nuclear Power Plants Off the Table
»Sweden Likely to Drop Suicide Bombing Probe
»UK: Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore Dies at 89
»UK: Labour Mosque Snub Threat
»UK: Prisoners Are Given Dreadlock Holiday: Hundreds of Convicts Allowed Four Days Off Prison Work a Year to Celebrate Rastafarian Festivals
»UK: Paramedics Called to Performance of Shakespeare After Drunken Student Actors Began Staggering on Stage and Smashed Up the Set
North Africa
»Strategic Communications: How NATO Shapes and Manipulates Public Opinion
Middle East
»Bashar Al-Assad, Syria, And the Truth About Chemical Weapons
»Blowback: Syrian Rebels Tied to Al Qaeda Play Key Role in War
»HRW: Iran’s Statements Not Incitement to Genocide
»Syria: From the Arab Spring to War Between Sunnis and Shiites
»Update on Potential War Against Syria
»Video: What’s Really Going on in Syria?
South Asia
»India: Government Opens Up the Retail Market to Direct Foreign Investment
»Italy Expects ‘News’ In India Marines Case Before Dec 17
»Pakistan: Faisalabad: Young Muslim Arrested for Profaning Statue of the Virgin
»Singapore’s Freshwater Obsession
Far East
»Vietnam Stages Anti-China Rallies
»Welcome to the Hotel of Doom: The 3,000 Room Monstrosity in Kim Jong-Un’s Starving Dictatorship No Foreigner Has Stepped Inside… Until Now
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Mandela ‘Proven’ To be Member of Communist Party
»Timbuktu Falls: How Al Qaeda Claimed the Legendary City
Latin America
»Britain Gives Millions in ‘Climate Aid’ To Tackle Flatulent Colombian Cows… Plus £31m to Turkish Wind Farms and Funding for Talks With Kenyan ‘Rain-Makers’
»Britain Accuses Argentina of ‘Strangling’ Falklands Economy by Harassing Cruise Ships Near the Islands
»Australia Comes Under Fire for Refugee Policy
»US Quietly Released 8,500 Criminals Who Were Supposed to be Deported
Culture Wars
»Sex as Occult Possession
»UN Summit on Transforming Your Kids Into Climate Agents
»Russia, China Alliance Wants Greater Govt Voice in Internet Oversight

Financial Crisis

Greece: Athens to Tax More Businesses, Middle Income

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 7 — Greek government plans to tax businesses and middle incomes more in an effort to raise revenues from a tax reform bill it has long-promised its international lenders, GreekReporter writes quoting a senior finance ministry official as saying on Thursday. The Finance ministry plans to raise the corporate tax rate on profits to 26% from 20%, said the official. In dividends, the rate would fall to 10% from 25% currently. The ministry’s proposals include reducing tax brackets to three from eight and imposing a 40% top rate on incomes above 40,000 euros. Currently, the 40% tax rate applies to those earning over 60,000 annually and those earning over 100,000 euros are taxed at 45%. “The new tax system is simpler, fairer and geared toward growth,” the official said.

The proposals offer some relief to low incomes, as tax exemptions for wage earners and pensioners would be increased to 9,000 euros from 5,000 euros currently for those earning up to 25,000 euros. Greek press had speculated that the government planned to apply a 45% top tax rate on incomes above 26,000 euros and abolish tax credits for dependent children, deepening anger among a public worn down by five years of recession.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde Warns US of Worldwide Effects of Fiscal Cliff

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has warned the US it has the potential to be its “own worst enemy” over the fragile economic recovery and that failure to reach a comprehensive settlement over the fiscal cliff could see growth plummet to zero.

In forthright comments over the impending fiscal cliff, the IMF managing director said that “if the US economy was to suffer the downside risk of not reaching a comprehensive deal, then growth would be zero”. The markets would react quickly, “and the stock market would take a hit,” she said.


The cautionary words of the IMF chief underlined how closely the world is watching the fast-approaching fiscal cliff deadline. On 1 January, if Congress does not act, a package of $600bn spending cuts and tax rises will automatically kick in, sending shock waves around the world that could damage what she characterized as the slow and laborious economic improvements being made across the Eurozone.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

On the Fiscal Cliff and a Constitution in Crisis

The Political Foundation of the status quo in America is based on a Grand Bargain of Complicity between the top 25% who pay approximately 90% of the taxes, and the bottom 50% who draw on the benefits that come from government. James Madison in the “Federalist Papers” outlined this complicity in the “Tyranny of the Majority”. What is becoming painfully evident is that the political elite in America have falsely over-promised on the entitlements that can be delivered, which is now surfacing in the political turmoil of the Fiscal Cliff negotiations and has the potential to quickly lead towards a constitutional crisis.

Meanwhile the very top 1% of Americans, that pay 25% of the taxes and control most of the productive wealth in the nation, are securing and exercising increasing powers within the government, through what is becoming increasingly identified as ‘Crony Capitalism” and “Corporatocracy”. Thomas Jefferson also warned us about this potential constitutionally destabilizing influence which could emerge within the structure of the ‘separation of powers’.

Out of a population of 315 million, presently only 115 million Americans have full time, non-government funded jobs. This is the same as 12 years ago and before an additional 33 million students, immigrants, single parents of others attempted to enter the workforce. It is now fracturing the social compact and the revealing the delusion of the American dream being available to all who are willing to work for it. There is no work, and certainly insufficient work which pays a wage which will support what is expected as a middle class standard of living.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US Households Already Went Off Their Fiscal Cliff and Breached Their Debt Ceiling

Few people realize that the debt ceiling is aligning right on track with the fiscal cliff. Total public outstanding debt is now at $16.369 trillion and is only $63 billion away from breaching the limit. Not a coincidence that the fiscal cliff is also on the horizon. In essence, we are addicted to debt. However US households have been on a multi-year long process of deleveraging yet this is not being asked from banks or governmental institutions. Of course we knew this was coming. Anyone that was honestly objective realized that we were on an unsustainable path. Yet the name of the game is now about kicking the can furiously down the road so it falls beyond our line of vision. Then we act surprised when we arrive at the can and it has only gotten heavier with debt. So as we are T-minus a few days from the fiscal cliff, let us examine the debt ceiling.


US households are clearly facing the grim reality that maybe they were not as wealthy as they once thought. After all, many do not even have enough for retirement and millions will completely rely on Social Security for years to come. This works well when you have a small older population with a large healthy working young population. Today we have a larger older population with a young less affluent population, with many not even working unfortunately.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Apple-Google Team Up for $500 Million-Plus Kodak Patents Bid

Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc. have joined forces to offer more than $500 million to buy Eastman Kodak Co. (EKDKQ)’s patents out of bankruptcy, said people familiar with the situation.

The two companies, competing for dominance of the smartphone market, have partnered after leading two separate groups this summer to buy some of Kodak’s 1,100 imaging patents, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Former US President Slams Drone Attacks

WASHINGTON: Former US President Jimmy Carter has slammed American assassination drone strikes in other countries, saying that killing civilians in such attacks would in fact nurture terrorism.

“I personally think we do more harm than good by having our drones attack some potential terrorists who have not been tried or proven that they are guilty,” Carter said in an interview with Russia Today.

“But in the meantime, the drone attacks also kill women and children, sometimes in weddings… so this is the kind of thing we should correct,” he added.

Carter, who served as US president from 1976 to 1980, also criticized incumbent American policy makers for violating the country’s “long-standing policy” of “preserving the privacy of US citizens.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Iranians Prepare Terror Campaign Inside U.S.

‘There are numerous Revolutionary Guard cells’ inside borders

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is alive and well in the U.S. and the country’s law enforcement officials ignore them at their peril, according to former U. S. Air Force officer Steven O’Hern.

O’Hern says that the Revolutionary Guard, long an influential factor in the radical Islamic regime in Iran, does most of its surveillance and intelligence gathering through its proxy force, Hezbollah, considered by many to be a terror group.

“In the United States, the Revolutionary Guard uses more than one approach. Hezbollah operatives and sympathizers are present in large numbers in many parts of the United States and actively conduct reconnaissance missions that develop information, photographs, and diagrams of federal buildings, and infrastructure targets,” O’Hern said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Race With the Devil—Is America Converting to Marxism?

Several classic Hollywood movies offer political lessons, including the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the delightful B horror film Race With the Devil. These movies offer something not normally found in pop culture —a conservative critique of society at large, even if unintentionally.

The theme of mindless replicants just following the will of the master or orders from the mother ship is a frequent theme in sci-fi horror movies. Therefore there is an immediate bridge to the progressive movement in its various guises —because the main theme for socialists and Marxists is following group think towards whatever direction it leads.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Greece: Papandreou at the Top of “Lagarde List”?

Les Echos, To Vima

“The ‘Lagarde List’ has prompted another furore,” announces Les Echos reporting allegations in the Greek press that the country’s former prime minister, socialist George Papandreou’s mother holds the biggest Swiss bank account on the “Lagarde List.”

Les Echos continues —

…the 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts who feature on the List, which was obtained by French authorities from a former employee of HSBC and passed on to Greece in 2010, have yet to be prosecuted.

According to the weekly To Vima, a highly placed official in the Greek ministry of finance told the judge investigating the list that Margaret Papandréou, aged 89, is the owner of an account containing €550 million registered with the Genevan branch of HSBC. The newspaper adds that the account is in the name of employee working for a Greek fund administrator based in Tel-Aviv. The Papandreou family have rejected the allegations and announced that they will sue for libel. In response to this threat, To Vima argues that the Papandreou family would do better to reflect on exactly why the list disappeared when George Papandreou was in office. At the time, his finance minister said the list had been mislaid!

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

Human Traffickers: Pimps Busted in Italy

‘Suspects forced thousands into prostitution’

(ANSA) — Genoa, December 7 — Police in Italy on Friday said they had busted a human-trafficking ring that had brought at least 10,000 people illegally to Italy and forced most of them into prostitution over the past three years. Police arrested 22 suspects and cited 54 others for allegedly conning people, mostly women from Libya, Nigeria and Niger, into entering the country illegally with the promise of a job in Italy, France or Germany. The immigrants entered through the Sicilian island of Lampedusa before being moved to various European locations. The bust took place across Italy, as far north as Turin and as far south as Salerno.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Centre-Left PD Makes New Gains, Says Poll

Centre-right PdL shows further decline

(ANSA) — Rome, December 7 — The centre-left Democratic Party (PD) stretched its lead as the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) lost further ground amid fears that party manoeuvering could trigger a government crisis, according to a new opinion poll published Friday.

The PD was polling 30.3%, up 0.3% over the same day last week, after party secretary Pier Luigi Bersani convincingly won a runoff in primaries on December 2 to choose the centre-left’s candidate for the premiership in the next general elections, slated for early next year.

The Five Star Movement (M5S) led by gadfly comedian Beppe Grillo, Italy’s second-biggest party, gained 0.2% to stand at 19.7%.

The PdL lost 0.5%, falling to its lowest-ever level at 13.8%, after Thursday’s announcement that ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi would run for re-election and his party abstained from two confidence votes in the current technocrat government led by Mario Monti.

The centrist UDC showed further improvement, rising by 1.1% to stand at 5.2%, while the Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) party of southern Puglia governor Nichi Vendola — considered the PD’s principal ally lost 0.4% to stand at 5.6%. Italy of Values (IDV), led by former anti-graft prosecutor Antonio di Pietro, rose by 0.2% to 2.6%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: More Women Than Men to Lead in Grillo’s Five Star Movement

Online elections ‘the first of their kind’ says comedian

(ANSA) — Rome, December 7 — Italian comedian Beppe Grillo announced Friday that his anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) would have more women than men representing it in parliament following an online vote. “Of 31 newly elected party ticket leaders, 17 are women, that is 55%,” he said. “It’s the first movement or political party to elect its representatives in parliament via Internet”. Grillo has recently been accused of ‘Berlusconi-style’ sexism.

In November he chastised a female M5S member for going on national TV, calling her appearance “an attempt to reach her G spot”.

But the party remains a rising force in Italian politics. The comedian said 95,000 people cast votes for 1,400 candidates in Italy’s second-biggest party. According to polls Friday, the M5S has 19.7% of the popular vote, behind the center-left Democratic Party (PD) at 30.3% and ahead of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party at 13.8%, its lowest-ever level.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Attacks on Judiciary Offensive and Unacceptable

(AGI) Rome, Dec.8 — Responding to Silvio Berlusconi’s comments about the judiciary being “irresponsible,” the head of the Italian National Association of Judges and Public Prosecutors (ANM) has told AGI that “we firmly repudiate the offensive and unacceptable attacks on the judiciary. They conjure up past tensions and do nothing to help the institutions. Moreover, they are damaging to the country and to the interests of its people, instilling a dangerous lack of confidence.” Rodolfo Sabelli went on to say that “despite serious challenges, the judiciary carries out the duties assigned to it under the Constitution responsibly and with dedication.” .

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

Italy: PM Monti Resigns: Urges Parties to be Responsible

(AGI) Rome, Dec. 8 — Prime Minister Mario Monti, after holding talks with President Giorgio Napolitano at the Quirinal Palace, announced his term cannot continue. He said that “the declarations made yesterday in Parliament by PdL secretary Angelino Alfano clearly represent a no-confidence vote for the government and its policies”. Hence, after the two-hour talk with Napolitano, Monti said he “reckons the government will not be able to finish its term”, a Presidential statement reported.

It also added that Monti said he “is ready to resign”, while warning the political parties that “not undertaking the responsibility of bringing about a provisional budget” would “worsen the consequences of a government crisis on a European level too”.

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

Italy: Facebook Offices Raided in Milan by Tax Police

‘We follow Italian laws’ says social-network giant

(ANSA) — Milan, December 7 — Facebook’s Milan offices were raided by Italian tax police on Friday. Sources said the social-media giant’s accounting records were being checked. “Facebook pays its taxes in Italy,” said Facebook Italia in a statement, adding that it “very seriously respects Italian fiscal law” and was fully cooperating with authorities.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mafia Arrests for Sicily Renewable-Energy Infiltration

Cosa Nostra ‘got wind-farm, solar work to help boss in hiding’

(ANSA) — Trapani, December 7 — Italian police on Friday arrested six people and seized 10 billion euros in assets in a probe into suspected Mafia infiltration of renewable-energy facilities in western Sicily whose proceeds are believed to have gone to fugitive Cosa Nostra head Matteo Messina Denaro.

Police said Mafia members got contracts for work on wind farms and solar-energy plants near Agrigento, Palermo and Trapani. A wave of arrests over recent years have closed the net around fugitive 50-year-old Agrigento-based boss Denaro, one of the world’s 10 most-wanted men, who took control of Cosa Nostra after the 2006 arrest of Bernardo Provenzano.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Magnus Carlsen Becomes Game’s ‘Highest-Rated Player of All Time’

London: Norwegian sensation Magnus Carlsen has reportedly broken Gary Kasparov’s 12-year record to become game’s highest-rated player of all time. The 22-year-old world number took up chess at the age of five and became world number one by the time he was 19.

Known as the “Mozart of chess” for the raw ability he demonstrated from a young age, Carlsen achieved his goal by defeating English player Luke McShane at the London Chess Classic this week, the Daily Mail reports.

According to the paper, Kasparov had previously claimed that his record rating of 2,851 was impossible to beat, but with victory over McShane, Carlsen nudged his own total to 2,857.4 points.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sicily Governor Says Nuclear Power Plants Off the Table

‘We don’t want to turn the island into an atomic bomb’

(ANSA) — Palermo, December 5 — Sicily Governor Rosario Crocetta publicly disagreed with his own cultural heritage councillor on Wednesday, saying he had no intention of opening the island to nuclear power plants. “The only Sicily we’re interested in is the Sicily of lemons, oranges and palm trees. We don’t want to turn the island into an atomic bomb,” he said. Newly appointed Culture Councillor Antonio Zichichi, a nuclear physicist, said Wednesday that he would be “happy to see Sicily full of nuclear power plants, ones that were safe, monitored and built by true scientists”. In a referendum last year Italians voted overwhelmingly against building additional nuclear reactors in the whole country. “The citizens have already spoken,” said the Sicily governor.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden Likely to Drop Suicide Bombing Probe

The investigation into the 2010 terror attack in central Stockholm will likely be dropped next year, according to prosecutor Agneta Hilding Qvarnström.

Qvarnström told Sveriges Radio (SR) that a decision will be taken in early 2013 about whether a prosecution can be filed or whether the case should be dropped. The latter is the more likely scenario, said Qvarnström, but she did not want to go into any further detail.

“Once a decision is made I will tell as much as possible about our work, what conclusions we have drawn and what the situation looks like,” she said.

It was on Saturday December 11th in 2010 that the 28-year-old Iraqi-born Swede Taimour Abdulwahab made his way to Drottninggatan in central Stockholm, at the height of the Christmas shopping season.

He carried 13 kilos of explosives in a backpack and another four kilos around his waist. Abdulwahab set off two explosions but was the only fatality of the twin blasts. Two bystanders were injured.

An FBI investigation later showed that between 30 and 40 people could have died had the suicide bombing not been botched.

In a letter, Abdulwahab wrote that his purpose was to kill “your children, daughters, brothers and sisters”.

On March 8th 2011 Scottish police arrested Nazzedine Menni, a 30-year old man, in Glasgow in connection with the Stockholm bombing. The Swedish Security Service said the arrest was made following collaboration between Scotland and Sweden.

Menni was eventually found guilty of financing terrorism using illegally claimed benefits. He and Abdulwahab had become friends while living in Luton, England.

Anders Thornberg, the Swedish Security (Säpo) chief, told Sveriges Radio that the Stockholm suicide bombing changed Sweden’s approach to counter-terrorism.

“Primarily we have much better cooperation now between police authorities and the National Bureau of Investigation (Rikskriminalpolisen),” said Thornberg.

“Having rules about who is responsible for what is not enough. One also has to sit down together and have very, very good plans, to know exactly how things are done, to get to know each other and to practice. Of course we did that before, too, but we have intensified this work, as it is really important,” said Thornberg.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore Dies at 89

British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore has died at his home at the age of 89.

The broadcaster ‘passed away peacefully at 12.25pm this afternoon’, at his home in Selsey, West Sussex, a group of his friends and staff said in a statement.

He died in the company of close friends, carers, and his cat Ptolemy, after failing to fight an infection.

The statement read: ‘After a short spell in hospital last week, it was determined that no further treatment would benefit him, and it was his wish to spend his last days in his own home, Farthings, where he today passed on, in the company of close friends and carers and his cat Ptolemy.’

Monocle-wearing Sir Patrick, who served with the RAF during the war, began presenting The Sky At Night in 1957.

He presented the BBC programme for over 50 years, making him the longest-running host of the same television show ever.

He wrote dozens of books on astronomy and his research was used by the US and the Russians in their space programmes.


He served with the Royal Air Force from 1940 to 1945, as a navigator in Bomber Command. To get into the armed forces at only 16 he had to lie about his age and fake his medical.

‘Reliable rumours’ of his derring-do included how as a Flight Lieutenant he once climbed over the dead bodies of his pilot and co-pilot to land his Lancaster bomber safely.

The girl he was to marry was killed during the war in an air raid. He said since: ‘My whole life ended in one day. These things happen. You accept them. As far as I was concerned, that was that. It’s the reason I have never married. But I don’t like living alone.’

Nevertheless he did live alone for most of his life at his beloved Selsey in Sussex.

[Comments: Best astronomy programme ever. He will be missed.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Labour Mosque Snub Threat

MUSLIM leaders last night warned the Labour Party could face a backlash after planning permission for a controversial 9,000-seater mega-mosque was refused.

Planners from Labour-led Newham Council in east London last week rejected the application from Islamist group Tablighi Jamaat, on the basis it was “too large”.

That leaves Ed Miliband’s party potentially out of favour with more than a million UK-based followers of the movement, which runs its European headquarters from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

Last night supporters of the Islamic sect vowed to punish the council in future elections for failing to listen to the estimated 90,000 Muslim residents in the borough.

Meanwhile, things could get worse for Labour across the country if Muslims decide to defect to protest groups such as George Galloway’s Respect Party, as has happened in Bradford and Tower Hamlets.

Currently, Britain’s Muslim population stands at ­2.8million, with more than 600 out of 1,350 mosques affiliated to Tablighi Jamaat.

Speaking after the controversial mega-mosque decision last Wednesday, Abjol Miah, a leading activist for both the Respect Party and the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe told us: “I think a lot of people tonight that weren’t political have become political.

“It is a shame we have Labour councillors and committee members here. You know we have the London council elections in 2014 and I think the residents are going to be thinking differently.

“They are going to get more active. It is a time for change for Labour. You watch how we get angry.”

He added: “I think there is now a place for any other political party or pressure group willing to be the strong voice on these kinds of issues.”

Meanwhile, Tablighi Jamaat has vowed to seek a judicial review to challenge the council’s decision to prevent the building of the mosque.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: Prisoners Are Given Dreadlock Holiday: Hundreds of Convicts Allowed Four Days Off Prison Work a Year to Celebrate Rastafarian Festivals

Hundreds of criminals are to be allowed four days off prison work every year to celebrate Rastafarian festivals.

Prison governors have been issued with a list of holy days on which Rastafarian inmates must be excused their normal tasks.

On some they will be allowed to hold communal worship, and they may be provided with special food prepared by the prison kitchens.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Paramedics Called to Performance of Shakespeare After Drunken Student Actors Began Staggering on Stage and Smashed Up the Set

Paramedics were called to help student actors who had more than their fair share of Dutch courage before a Shakespeare performance, which saw them staggering on stage and smashing up the set.

The boozed-up thespians, members of the Sussex University Drama Society (SUDS), had deliberately downed drinks just minutes before their show which featured scenes from Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Strategic Communications: How NATO Shapes and Manipulates Public Opinion

An example of a psychological operations leaflet dropped over Libya by NATO forces during Operation Unified Protector.

For audiences within Libya, strategic communications involved the production of media to influence Qaddafi loyalists to leave their weapons and cease killing civilians.

Leaflets found in Tripoli around August 2011 advised Libyan forces that “many officers and soldiers have chosen to stand against Gaddafi’s orders and refrain from fighting against innocent civilians.”

One side of the leaflet, which bore NATO’s logo, encouraged soldiers to “join these men for a prosperous, peaceful future for Libya” while the opposite side displayed a photo of a Predator drone alongside a tank with a crosshair over it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Bashar Al-Assad, Syria, And the Truth About Chemical Weapons

The bigger the lie the more people will believe it. We all know who said that — but it still works. Bashar al-Assad has chemical weapons. He may use them against his own Syrian people. If he does, the West will respond. We heard all this stuff last year — and Assad’s regime repeatedly said that if — if — it had chemical weapons, it would never use them against Syrians.

But now Washington is playing the same gas-chanty all over again. Bashar has chemical weapons. He may use them against his own people. And if he does…

Well if he does, Obama and Madame Clinton and Nato will be very, very angry. But over the past week, all the usual pseudo-experts who couldn’t find Syria on a map have been warning us again of the mustard gas, chemical agents, biological agents that Syria might possess — and might use. And the sources? The same fantasy specialists who didn’t warn us about 9/11 but insisted that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction in 2003: “unnamed military intelligence sources”. Henceforth to be acronymed as UMIS.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Blowback: Syrian Rebels Tied to Al Qaeda Play Key Role in War

The lone Syrian rebel group with an explicit stamp of approval from Al Qaeda has become one of the uprising’s most effective fighting forces, posing a stark challenge to the United States and other countries that want to support the rebels but not Islamic extremists.

Money flows to the group, the Nusra Front, from like-minded donors abroad. Its fighters, a small minority of the rebels, have the boldness and skill to storm fortified positions and lead other battalions to capture military bases and oil fields. As their successes mount, they gather more weapons and attract more fighters.

The group is a direct offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Iraqi officials and former Iraqi insurgents say, which has contributed veteran fighters and weapons.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

HRW: Iran’s Statements Not Incitement to Genocide

Human Right Watch leader refuses to label calls to erase Israel

(Jerusalem Post) The head of New York-based Human Rights Watch refused to label as genocidal Iranian calls to obliterate the Jewish state and compared Iran’s mullah leadership to the Shas party.

The Wall Street Journal’s David Feith, as assistant editorial features editor with the paper, obtained internal HRW emails and published last week a report, headlined “Dancing around genocide,” about alleged HRW bias against Israel and an internecine conflict within HRW’s top leadership about the group’s head, Kenneth Roth, and his failure to take Iran’s calls to destroy Israel seriously.

The Journal reported that Sid Sheinberg, HRW’s vice chairman, wrote in an email, “Sitting still while Iran claims a ‘justification to kill all Jews and annihilate Israel’ is…a position unworthy of our great organization.”

According to the newspaper, Roth wrote in one email, “Many of [Iran’s] statements are certainly reprehensible, but they are not incitement to genocide. No one has acted on them.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Syria: From the Arab Spring to War Between Sunnis and Shiites

Many players have entered the Syrian conflict: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, Russia, China, USA, Europe. All are dominated by a conflict within Islam. Christians in the most difficult situation: a choice between political dictatorship or Islamic dictatorship. Radical Islam on the rise in Europe, but the West does not seem to care. Part two of the analysis by the great scholar of Islam.

Beirut (AsiaNews) — In Syria, what began as an Arab Spring, eager for greater dignity, work and freedom, has slipped out of hand to become a regional and international conflict in which Saudi Arabia and Qatar are fighting against Iran , Turkey and Israel against Syria, Russia and China against the United States and Europe.

At first efforts were concentrated on the demand for greater dignity, but after receiving only violence as a response from the government, the Spring has become a well armed rebellion. Many army officers have defected and organized an armed response. Now both sides are fighting with weapons.

A conflict within Islam

Syria, unlike Egypt, is a multicultural and multiethnic country: there are Druze, Christians (9%), Kurds (7%), Sunni (70%), and other small groups, and this country, so far, is dominated by the Alawite (12-13%).

All this leads the Syrian tensions to a regional conflict. The fear, for Sunnis and the majority of Arab countries, is that Syria, religiously tied to Iran, could become increasingly instrumental to the spread of Shiism.

It must be said that Iran’s enemies, rather than Israel, are Sunnis. On the other hand, the fear of Islam is the fear of Shiism, which is advancing in every Islamic country. Last week, in Cairo (Egypt), I came across a group of Shiite Muslims for the first time in more than a millennium, who were promoting their religion there. They were stopped by Sunni leaders. I have heard that the same phenomenon is occurring in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and in many African countries.

In the conflict between Sunnis and Shiites, the religious dimension is a pretext for a political struggle. The conflict arose after Muhammad’s death (in 632). In his farewell speech, in Ghadir Khomm, Muhammad wanted as his successor in command, his son Ali. In his place, however, there was Abu Bakhr, the father of Fatima, the wife of Muhammad, who was from another tribe. Then there were two other caliphs, Omar Ibn al-Khattâb and Uthman Ibn ‘Affân. The Shiites are those who defend the line of the power of Ali and the family of the prophet. So, from the very outset the conflict is ethnic in origin, almost a family feud. Up to this very day, the Shiites, when they recite the Muslim blessing, they bless Muhammad “and his family” (wa-âlihi). And from this one can immediately recognize that they are Shiites.

The tribal, ethnic and political opposition is here to stay for eternity. I was in Najaf (Iraq) last month, and every day there were lectures and broadcasts against Sunnis, especially against Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabis. This conflict is even more bitterly imbedded than the hatred between Palestinians and Israelis. The conflict in Syria is the result of this wound, because there Shiism is in power and the Sunni majority is excluded.

What future?

Syria’s future is still unclear. One of the solutions mentioned is to divide Syria — according to an Israeli-American plan — into diverse sectarian cantons, undermining Syria as power and crumbling it up into many small states.

The crumbling of Syria is likely to cause an earthquake in Turkey, another multiethnic and multicultural country, where there are millions of Kurds and Alevis million, and several other groups. At the same time, Turkey wants to exclude the existence of a Kurdish nation on its borders, involving the Kurds of Syria, Iraq and Iran.

We are at a monumental impasse and with no solution in sight for Syria unless the international community intervenes. The rebellion can not do anything without international help.

On the other hand, the international community is afraid to enter the Syrian cauldron because there are also many radical fringes of Islamists and al-Qaeda in the opposition. There are also those who attest that the Islamist solution is better for the United States, in safeguarding economic ties with America.

By now, the solution is no longer in the hands of the Syrians. The problem is regional and international. Iran and Turkey are the two powers that have the possibility of expansion. The rest of the Arab world does not have it, either from the point of view of the population or the military. Therefore, the common opinion in Syria: “There is no way out and we are waiting for an international decision.”

The fate of Christians

In this context, the situation of Christians is by far the weakest. They have no one to rely on. In some ways similar to what happened in Iraq, where it seems that Christianity is in the process of disappearing, maybe in 50 years there will be no more Christians in this country. In Lebanon, unfortunately, same phenomenon is in act, a land emptying of Christians, due to insecurity and emigration. Yet there is no ostensibly “religious” discrimination or wars, it has occurred due to economic and sometimes cultural reasons.

Of course, Lebanon, in the middle of the last century, attempted to build a pluralistic, multi-ethnic and multi-religious social structure. It is the only country to have attempted this and remains a model — albeit fragile — in the Middle East, as mentioned Pope Benedict XVI when he came to visit last September. But the future outlook is a difficult one.

In Syria Christians fear an Islamist future, and the same can be said for Egyptian Christians. The attitude of the Christian leaders in the face of rebellion has often been criticized. But we must try to understand. No one argues that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is good, even less democratic. Everyone knows that political freedom is almost non-existent, as well as freedom of speech. Everyone knows that anyone who opposes the policy of the regime ends up in prison and subjected to torture.

On the other hand, unlike many Muslim countries, Christians enjoy total religious freedom in Syria, thanks to the doctrine of the Baathist regime (that of Baas = Ba’th created by the Orthodox Christian Michel Aflaq). Syria does not distinguish between Muslim (to whatever group one belongs) and Christian: everyone is an equal citizen. But state control is everywhere, for everyone. Like all dictatorships, order and security are guaranteed. None of these advantages are to be despised.

And since the majority of Christians have no political ambitions, nor intend to enter into politics, they live in peace and freedom by accepting the limitations set forth by the Baathist power. So, knowing that there is no perfect system in politics, they choose the lesser evil: a guarantee of life, safety, freedom of religion, renouncing political freedom.

Their approached is consoled by the fact that no-one knows what the alternative could be. Looking at the evolution of the Arab-Islamic world, the alternative seems to be a fundamentalist Islamic regime, which is worse because it touches the deep convictions of the human person. In other words: the only choice is between a political or religious dictatorship. The latter would seem far more frustrating.

If we compare the situation of Christians in Syria and that of Egypt, no doubt the lot of the Syrians would seem preferable: Christians enjoy the same rights of all Syrians, contrary to the Egyptians!

What the future will be, no one can predict. Certainly it will take courage: a defeatist attitude is not worthy of the Christian vocation to rebuild, along with all other citizens, a more human city.

The West’s attitude

The West, preoccupied with its economic and political problems, does not seem to care much about the Islamist drift. But it does not realize that this Islamization has many consequences and repercussions for the West itself.

Islamic fundamentalism is becoming increasingly obvious in the Muslim community in Europe. The last survey in France, by the IFOP, on how the French view Islam, shows that the situation is getting worse: more than 60% of the French believes Islam is incongruous to the West, unable to integrate.

This negative view comes from the fact that the Islamic world clearly rejects the West, which it considers “atheist” and “immoral”. Added to that the current debate on gay marriage, on civil unions (PACS), on adoption by unmarried couples. For the fundamentalist Muslim world, the West is against God and therefore is to be fought, and in the Islamist discourse, the West is the “new Jahiliyyah,” the new paganism.

For the West, Islam is impossible to assimilate and the Muslim seems unable to integrate into European culture. It is therefore to be rejected. Western secularism (especially French) is atheism for the Muslim world. So talk of secularism is automatically rejected by many. Pope Benedict XVI, in his apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente” September 14, 2012 (No. 29), highlights this: “ Some Middle Eastern political and religious leaders, whatever their community, tend to look with suspicion upon secularity (laïcité) as something intrinsically atheistic or immoral. “

Instead the model suggested by the pope is another:

“A healthy secularity, on the other hand, frees religion from the encumbrance of politics, and allows politics to be enriched by the contribution of religion, while maintaining the necessary distance, clear distinction and indispensable collaboration between the two spheres.

No society can develop in a healthy way without embodying a spirit of mutual respect between politics and religion, avoiding the constant temptation either to merge the two or to set them at odds.”

Therefore the West’s attitude towards religion has some repercussions on the Islamic world’s attitude towards the West. And Europe should be taking this into account.

(End of Part Two. For Part One see here: Unfinished: the Arab Spring’s Islamic winter)

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

Update on Potential War Against Syria

Here are updates in this quickly-moving situation:

  • Pentagon officials say that there is no evidence that Syria is mixing chemical weapons, and “it’s not even clear that the precursors have been moved from separate storage sites to one location”
  • On the other hand, the the Syria Tribune has released a video allegedly showing Syrian rebels killing rabbits with chemical weapons, and threatening to use them against supporters of the Syrian government. (It is impossible at this point to say whether this is genuine or propaganda)
  • The U.S. will designate one of the leading Syrian rebel groups as a terrorist operation. McClatchy notes that — until recently — the Syrian opposition blamed this terrorist group’s attacks on the government. In other words, the terrorist violence carried out by one of the main opposition groups was wrongly blamed on the Syrian government (in fact,the U.S. has backed various terrorist opposition groups in Syria)

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Video: What’s Really Going on in Syria?

If you want to learn what’s really going on in Syria, watch this brief interview with U.S. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, and the guy who wrote Powell’s famous speech on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction:

Wilkerson has no particular love for the governments in Syria or Iran, and is solely talking about what is best for America.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Government Opens Up the Retail Market to Direct Foreign Investment

The upper house (Raja Sabha) has approved the historic economic reform, with a majority of 123 votes against 109. Support of the ‘minor’ parties essential. Hindu nationalist party defeated. The opening to foreign capital should restart the country’s growth.

New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) — India is opening the doors of its retail market to foreign supermarket chains. Today in the Raja Sabha (Upper House), the Government of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won the hotly contested economic reform, by 123 votes against 109. A very narrow majority, thanks to the support of the Samajwadi Party (SP, Socialist) and Bahujan Samj Party (BSP, pro Dalits), more “regional” and populists than the executive. Big disappointment for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP ultranationalist Hindu), who had requested this vote convinced of having a victory in its pocket.

With today’s victory, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hopes to boost India’s economic growth and the government’s credibility. It is in fact an epochal economic reform for India, for several reasons: its retail trade — one of the fastest growing markets in the world — is estimated at450 billion dollars, employs more than 40 million of people, more than 90% of internal trade is through small local retailers.

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

Italy Expects ‘News’ In India Marines Case Before Dec 17

Country has ‘the law on its side’, says FM Terzi

(ANSA) — Rome, December 7 — The Italian Foreign Ministry said on Friday it expected “novelties” in the case of two Italian anti-pirate marines currently detained in India on criminal charges that include killing two fishermen before the country’s justice system begins a new recession on December 17.

Marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between Italy and India for shooting Jelestine Valentine and Ajesh Binki during an international anti-piracy mission off the southern Kerala coast in February .

Italy believes it should have jurisdiction over the case and, in any event, that the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India as they were military personnel working on an Italian ship. The case is before India’s Supreme Court but so far no ruling has been forthcoming. Italian Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Staffan De Mistura told journalists he would strongly assert the country’s positionhe at a UN debate on piracy presided by India later this week.

In a separate interview on Friday Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said Italy had the law on its side in the case. “We trust in the (Supreme) Court’s decision, but we are ready to react,” said the country’s chief diplomat, adding that the government has followed and continues to follow the matter “constantly” and that its interest has been on bilateral, European and miltilateral levels. “Thanks to this commitment a growing number of countries have intervened with the Indian authorities on our behalf on every possible occasion, expressing legitimate and shared expectations and concerns both as regards the timing of the Supreme Court sentence and with respect to its contents, which we expect to fully recognise both Italian jurisdiction (over the case) and the functional immunity of our two riflemen,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Faisalabad: Young Muslim Arrested for Profaning Statue of the Virgin

Sabar Shah, 26, broke the glass cover with stones and destroyed the religious symbol. The police stopped him and he is now in jail, awaiting trial. Anger and dismay among the Christians of the city. The pastor speaks of “hurt feelings” and calls for a fair trial. Vicar of Faisalabad extremists inciting religious hatred.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) — A scarred face, with compassionate eyes, the pieces, scattered everywhere, along with shattered glass. The back of the tunic is still standing, with the base attached to the bricks that surround the grotto. This i show the faithful found the statue of Our Lady belonging to a church in Faisalabad (Punjab), targeted by a Muslim fanatic who reduced it to a pile of debris. And the image (photo) supplies the sense of frustration and helplessness of a religious minority affected even in its most cherished and sacred symbols like the Virgin Mary, a figure also honoured and respected even in the Islamic tradition.

At 10 in the evening of 30 November, the 26-year old Muslim Sabar Shah, son of Abid Shah, a resident of Chak Jumra, Faisalabad district, desecrated the grotto and destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary, attacking her with stones. It was inside a glass case, within a brick wall at the Catholic Church of St. Pius. The statue was discovered by a catechist named Babu Palus Boota, who immediately called the parish priest, Fr. Abid Tanveer, who at that time was returning from a short visit to Lahore.

The next day, the police opened an investigation, upon complaint of the priest assisted by activists of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church, under Article 295 of the Penal Code. The Christian community has expressed anger and dismay over the blasphemy, but the leader of the Catholics has been able to maintain the calm and avoid exacerbating already exasperated sentiments. At two in the morning of 3 December the police arrested the young Muslim who confessed to the crime and is now subject to pre-trial detention in prison.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the parish priest, Fr. Abid Tanveer said that “Our Lady is a key component of our faith” and “the act of desecrating a statue only serves to hurt the feelings of Christians.” He appeals to the government, to punish those who breed hatred and extremism with a religious background. “The culprit — he concludes — must be brought to justice.” Fr. Khalid Rashid Asi, vicar general of Faisalabad, agrees, affirming that the episode shows that “fundamentalists are not able to promote peaceful relations between different faiths.”

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

Singapore’s Freshwater Obsession

With few natural sources, the tiny island nation spends billions to develop innovative ways to supply its own water.

Singapore, RoS — Drinking water has always been a strategic resource, all the more so in this tiny nation, as it lacks many natural sources of its own. Singapore has, however, recently employed technology, including introducing a rainwater-capturing scheme, to help quench its thirst. For decades, Singapore has relied heavily on neighbouring Malaysia to transfer water, a situation that caused diplomatic tension between the two and spurred concerns the Malaysian government may one day turn off the tap.

Desalination and recycling — which now account for 40 per cent of the city state’s water — have become vital sources, and Singapore even envisions water self-sufficiency in the coming decades. That will likely be necessary, as a long-standing water agreement with Malaysia expires in 2061.

A deal signed in 1962 guarantees Singapore 946m litres of Malaysian water each day — an agreement that has become a source of political friction. “In 1965, when Singapore was declared independent, water was a strategic issue,” George Madhavan, a director at the country’s Public Utilities Board, told Al Jazeera. Long-serving Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew made water a priority in 1977, ordering the clean-up of the few natural sources that had been heavily polluted.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Vietnam Stages Anti-China Rallies

An anti-China protest has ended in chaos in Vietnam, with a score of demonstrators being detained. The public display of frustration is in response to a confrontation between Hanoi and Beijing in the South China Sea.

Vietnamese police broke up anti-China protests in its two main cities and detained around 20 protesters Sunday, according to witnesses, as Beijing and Hanoi continue to spar over the South China Sea.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Welcome to the Hotel of Doom: The 3,000 Room Monstrosity in Kim Jong-Un’s Starving Dictatorship No Foreigner Has Stepped Inside… Until Now

It is the same shape and size as the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the first shards of sunrise bouncing off the peak of its vast mirrored surface.

This is the behemoth I have come to see — a colossal monument to the insanity of North Korea.

The 1,082ft-high Ryugyong Hotel is due to open next summer, an astonishing 24 years behind schedule. I was determined to be the first foreign visitor to set foot inside.

Work actually began in 1987 under the regime of Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, and was meant to open two years later as a calculated snub to neighbouring South Korea. As Seoul hosted the 1988 Olympics, North Korea would open what would then have been the world’s tallest hotel.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Mandela ‘Proven’ To be Member of Communist Party

After decades of denial, historian unearths evidence of ‘opportunistic alliances’

(London Telegraph) For decades, it was one of the enduring disputes of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle. Was Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress, really a secret Communist, as the white-only government of the time alleged? Or, as he claimed during the infamous 1963 trial that saw him jailed for life, was it simply a smear to discredit him in a world riven by Cold War tensions?

Now, nearly half a century after the court case that made him the world’s best-known prisoner of conscience, a new book claims that whatever the wider injustice perpetrated, the apartheid-era prosecutors were indeed right on one question: Mr Mandela was a Communist party member after all.

The former South African president, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, has always denied being a member of the South African branch of the movement, which mounted an armed campaign of guerrilla resistance along with the ANC.

But research by a British historian, Professor Stephen Ellis, has unearthed fresh evidence that during his early years as an activist, Mr Mandela did hold senior rank in the South African Communist Party, or SACP.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Timbuktu Falls: How Al Qaeda Claimed the Legendary City

Since then, locals say, the Islamists have enforced a Taliban-style interpretation of sharia. Among the first orders of their occupation was the destruction of several tombs of venerated Timbuktu scholars who were deemed “un-Islamic” along with other “blasphemous” landmarks. They broke down the sealed holy inner door of the 15th-century Sidi Yahya Mosque.

According to tradition, its opening would bring the end of the world. They ransacked the brand-new, state-of-the-art Ahmed Baba Institute, built with funds donated by South Africa to house one of the city’s largest collections of ancient manuscripts, because its appearance was considered too modern.

Ansar Dine took control of the city’s radio stations, replacing news and music with readings from the Koran. They decreed that anyone caught smoking, drinking alcohol, listening to music, or dancing would be publically whipped. Girls were barred from attending schools, and women were obligated to wear loose black burkas. In one reported case, a pregnant woman was denied access to the hospital because she was wearing a burka deemed too revealing. She delivered her baby on the steps outside the hospital.

In September, locals described how Islamists punished a thief by amputating his hand. Similar accounts are coming from other cities in the north. In Aguelhoc, a village northeast of Timbuktu, eyewitnesses reported that an unwed couple was stoned to death.

Adding to the tension are reports that the Islamists have been recruiting boys, especially those from poor families, for military training. Mohammed recounted the story of one Tuareg friend whose 12-year-old son had agreed to do manual labor at the Islamist base in the center of the city on the promise that his family would receive a bag of rice. Later the boy was seen practicing rifle drills with other recruits, and word got back to his father.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Britain Gives Millions in ‘Climate Aid’ To Tackle Flatulent Colombian Cows… Plus £31m to Turkish Wind Farms and Funding for Talks With Kenyan ‘Rain-Makers’

Millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money has been spent on a scheme aimed at reducing the flatulence of Colombian cattle, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

A £15million grant to ranchers and other organisations in the South American country was part of a £2.9billion package of ‘climate aid’ to developing countries which critics called ‘ludicrous’.

The initiative aimed to improve animal diets by cultivating trees and plants on their grazing lands — in doing so reducing the amount of methane escaping through belching and flatulence.

As well as being seen as a waste of money, the scheme has darker undertones, with The Mail on Sunday learning that the recipients, Colombian ranchers’ organisation Fedegan, has been linked to a murderous paramilitary group.

Our investigation unearthed:…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Britain Accuses Argentina of ‘Strangling’ Falklands Economy by Harassing Cruise Ships Near the Islands

Britain has accused the Argentine government of being responsible for escalating tensions in the Falklands.

Four cruise lines recently cancelled scheduled visits to the islands following intimidation from Left-wing groups and unions.

But new reports suggest the Argentine navy’s own coastguard is harassing ships in Falklands waters.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Australia Comes Under Fire for Refugee Policy

The Australian government’s tough stance on asylum seekers is failing to deter boat arrivals, as record numbers are hitting Australian shores. Rights groups have criticized the government’s asylum seeker policy.

Australia’s new “no advantage” policy on asylum seekers was announced on August 13, 2012, and specifies that “any irregular maritime arrivals” after that date are to be sent to the remote Pacific islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

The government’s policy aims to deter asylum seekers from making the boat journey from Indonesia to Australia. Specifically, it seeks to prevent further drownings, in light of the deaths of nearly 1,000 people en route to Australia since 2001.

But the government’s approach has drawn criticism, and a record number of almost 8,000 asylum seekers have arrived since the announcement was made in August.

Given the limited capacity of offshore holding centers for refugees, the increased number of arrivals has forced the government to release asylum seekers into the community on temporary visas — with no employment rights and limited financial assistance.

“Some people will be processed in Australia and processed in the community, but will remain on bridging visas, even after they are regarded, through the process, as refugees,” said Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen to reporters in Sydney.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

US Quietly Released 8,500 Criminals Who Were Supposed to be Deported

Unwanted at home, free to strike again

Secret criminals: US quietly released 8,500 criminals who were supposed to be deported — with deadly consequences.

When the Globe requested the names of the released criminals under the Freedom of Information Act, federal immigration officials refused, saying it would be a “clearly unwarranted invasion” of the immigrants’ privacy. Officials said public interest in their names was “minimal” anyway.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Sex as Occult Possession

We are being dehumanized. All human relationships are reduced to a cheap and transitory thrill, an orgasm.

My adult life, and modern culture in general, have been characterized by a concerted drive to eliminate all restrictions on sex beginning with marriage and leading to limitations against pedophilia, incest and bestiality. Pornography plays a central role in this program.

The purpose has been to reduce all human relationships to the level of a cheap and transitory thrill, the orgasm. The effect is to reduce human beings to their bodily appetites and defeat our spiritual nature.

TV and movies are full of sexual propaganda and cues. Movies directed at youth are thinly disguised porn. Women and girls now see their value almost totally in terms of their sex appeal.

Our strongest civilizing impulses are derived from values conducive to strong marriage and family. This is why marriage is their main target. Destroy the institution of marriage; destroy society. This is behind the promotion of homosexuality and gay marriage.

[Return to headlines]

UN Summit on Transforming Your Kids Into Climate Agents

Do your children (or grandchildren) have nightmares about the Earth melting or exploding due to human-caused global warming? Do they believe they have no future because our planet is dying, the icecaps and glaciers are melting, the sea levels are rising, islands and coastal areas are disappearing, polar bears and children are drowning, plant and animal species are rapidly going extinct, and extreme weather will soon make human life unbearable, if not impossible?

Frightening, not Enlightening

Fear of an impending Climate Apocalypse apparently afflicts millions of children and adolescents worldwide, according to news stories in the mainstream media over the past few years (see here, here, here, and here).

Psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers, and parents report that many children are depressed and fearful, have difficulty sleeping, and believe it is pointless to study or plan a career, since there is little hope for a livable future. As a result, many are experiencing serious psychological and physical health issues. This should not surprise anyone, considering that hundreds of millions of students have been captive audiences for Al Gore’s “documentary,” An Inconvenient Truth, (with many of them being subjected to multiple classroom showings) and other similar fare. After being continuously marinated in climate-change K-12 indoctrination in almost every subject area, it is little wonder that many kids suffer from depression and anxiety.

Classroom Child Abuse for a “Higher Cause”

However, many children turn their global-warming angst into activism, becoming little climate warriors who will work tirelessly to convert their peers, their parents, and local and national political leaders into supporters of “sustainable development.” And this, clearly, is what the proponents of “climate change education” intend. Climate change education, they say, must be “transformative” and turn young children and adolescents into “climate change agents.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Russia, China Alliance Wants Greater Govt Voice in Internet Oversight

A leaked draft of the Russia-led proposals would give countries “equal rights to manage the Internet including in regard to the allotment, assignment and reclamation of Internet numbering.”

This could allow governments to render websites within their borders inaccessible, even via proxy servers or other countries. It also could allow for multinational pacts in which countries could terminate access to websites at each others’ request.

Such moves would undermine ICANN, a self-governing nonprofit organization under contract to the U.S. Department of Commerce, which is ultimately responsible for making sure that people trying to reach a given website actually get there.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]