Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121213

Financial Crisis
»55 Reasons Why California is the Worst State in America
»Greece: Strong-Arm Government-Pharmacists Continues
»Greece: Protest of Local Employees Gets Bitter
»Greece Bailout Funds Approved
»Quantitative Easing Benefits the Super-Elite … And Hurts the Little Guy and the American Economy
»Standstill: The Charts That Prove the Global Economy is in Serious Trouble
»Unity of the European Union is About to be Tested
»Ambassador Susan E. Rice Withdraws From Consideration for Secretary of State, White House Says
»Clackamas Town Center Shooting: Oregon Lawmaker Launches Effort to Ban High-Capacity Gun Clips in Wake of Shootings
»Colorado Governor Says Time to Talk Gun Laws
»Electroshock Torture Handcuffs Now Patented.
»Happy-Go-Lucky Gunman Became Numb Before Mall Shooting
»Moore’s Law, Cheap Electronics and Homeland Security Money Combine to Create Big Brother
»OBAMADON! Yale Scientists Name Extinct Lizard in Obama’s Honor
»Police Trained for Oregon Mall Shooting
»Police Admit Tasers Used to Compel Obedience
»Second Amendment Opponents Regroup as Dust Settles Following Illinois Concealed Carry Ruling
»U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens
»Video: Belafonte: Put Obama’s Critics in Gulags
»Yet Another TSA Official Outed as a Sexual Deviant
Europe and the EU
ȣ100 Billion and Counting: What Britain Has Paid to Brussels in the Last 40 Years
»A Traditionalist Avant-Garde — It’s Trendy to be a Traditionalist in the Catholic Church
»EPP Supports Monti: Not Berlusconi, Says Dutch Premier
»Germany: Muslims Call for ‘Denazification’ of State
»Germany ‘Risks Unrest if Inequality Not Tackled’
»Monti Hailed at EPP Summit, Merkel ‘Asks’ Him to Run
»Netherlands ‘Halal Homes’ Ignite Religious Row
»Swedish Missionary Dies After Pakistan Shooting
»UK: Met Police Pay £15,000 Settlement to Teenage Rape Victim for ‘Shocking’ Failings Which Saw Alleged Attacker Acquitted
Middle East
»Assad Regime Reported Firing Scuds Against Syrian Opposition
»Syrian Rebels Training on Anti-Aircraft Weapons in Jordan
»US-Backed Syrian Opposition Demands Support for Al Qaeda
South Asia
»Indonesia: Polygamy and Power in the Case of the West Java Official
»Indonesia: Child Molesters Beyond Reach of Long Arm of the Law
»Italy Asks India to Issue Marines Verdict Before Christmas
»Nepal: Would-be Bride, 16, Set on Fire Over Dowry
Far East
»China Flies Into Japanese Airspace for the First Time in History
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Did Israel Send Raptors to Spy on Sudan?
Culture Wars
»Gay Marriage Law: Baroness Warsi Claims Equality Could Have String of ‘Unintended Consequences’
»Don’t Let Your Child See a Psychiatrist. Ever.
»Every Human Emotion Now Classified as a Mental Disorder in New Psychiatric Manual DSM-5
»International Tourism Hits One Billion
»Overeating Now Bigger Global Problem Than Lack of Food
»U.N. Conference Slyly Introduces Resolution to Gain Control of Internet — In Middle of Night

Financial Crisis

55 Reasons Why California is the Worst State in America

Why in the world would anyone want to live in the state of California at this point? The entire state is rapidly becoming a bright, shining example of everything that is wrong with America. It is so sad to watch our most populated state implode right in front of our eyes. Like millions of Americans, I was quite enamored with the state of California when I was younger. The warm weather, the beaches, the great natural beauty of the state and the mystique of Hollywood all really appealed to me. At one point I even thought that I wanted to move there. But today, hordes of Californians are racing to get out of the state because it has become a total nightmare. It is the worst state in the country in which to do business, taxes were just raised even higher, unemployment is more than 20 percent higher than the national average and the state government is drowning in debt. Meanwhile, poverty, gang activity and crime just seem to get worse with each passing year. On top of everything else, the insane politicians in Sacramento just keep on passing more laws that make the problems that the state is facing even worse. Unfortunately, what is happening in California may be a preview of what is coming to the entire nation. The old adage, “as California goes, so goes the nation”, has been proven to be true way too many times.

In dozens of different ways, the state of California is showing the rest of us what not to do. Will we learn from their mistakes, or will we follow them into oblivion? Please share the list below with as many people as you can. In addition to a large amount of new research, this list also pulled heavily from one of my previous articles and from outstanding research done by Richard Rider. The following are 55 reasons why California is the worst state in America…

1. One survey of business executives has ranked California as the worst state in America to do business for 8 years in a row.
2. In 2011, the state of California ranked 50th out of all 50 states in new business creation.
3. According to one recent study, California is the worst-governed state in the entire country.
18. Including unfunded pension liabilities, the state of California has more than twice as much debt as any other state does.
19. Average pay for California state workers has risen by more than 100 percent since 2005. That is good news for those state employees, but it is bad news for the taxpayers that have to pay their salaries.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Greece: Strong-Arm Government-Pharmacists Continues

For debts on medicines

(ANSAmed) — Athens, December 12 — A strong-arm between the health ministry and pharmacists is continuing in Greece over the state’s failure to settle unpaid prescription medicine bills. Health Minister andreas Lykourentzos said his ministry respected its engagements in paying back to pharmacists debts contracted by the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPPY) until August 2012 and is accusing pharmacists’ unions of ‘failing to respect a verbal agreement reached on November 26 with the ministry and EOPPY which provided for the suspension of protests by pharmacists’.

The health minister announced, in retaliation to the protest, the liberalization of opening hours of pharmacies — which in Greece were so far closed on Monday and Wednesday afternoon as well as all day Saturday and Sunday — and the approval of individual accords between EOPPY and pharmacists which have always been opposed by the pharmacists’ guild. The national guild is meeting on Wednesday to discuss the situation and future strategies.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Protest of Local Employees Gets Bitter

Against layoff of thousands of workers

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — A protest of local administration employees who are refusing to compile a list of workers to be placed on redundancy payment and laid off requested by the Greek ministry of administrative reform is becoming increasingly bitter. The ministry asked local governments to draft the list to cut costs and comply with the requirements outlined by Greece’s international creditors. On Wednesday, under a decision of the Greek federation of local government employees Poe-Ota, all municipal service across the country will be suspended while a union meeting has been scheduled ‘to re-examine and organize a more forceful reaction of the sector’, said a statement of the union. A protest in Karaiskakis square in Athens has also been organized along with the usual march to reach the building of the ministry of administrative reform.

‘With initiatives bringing to mind Mafia-style actions and blackmail, the ministry of administrative reform has cancelled the names of workers with open-ended contracts in the public sector and local governments from its list of employees’, the Poe-Ota statement said. ‘People are being fired single-handedly from their jobs as part of a shameful and unconstitutional law’.

Today’s strike is part of the union’s response to a ministerial measure under which local administration managers had been order to send within 24 hours a list of employees who could be placed in redundancy payment before being fired. The ministry had announced it would temporarily suspend all administration workers with open-ended contracts if managers failed to provide the list, and did so after the list was not drafted.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece Bailout Funds Approved

Greece is to get the latest tranche of bailout funds needed to keep the country going, eurozone finance ministers have said.

After weeks of tough talks, they agreed on Thursday to release 49.1bn euros ($57bn; £37bn) of funds.

The debt-ridden country will get 34.3bn euros “in the following days”, with the rest to follow early next year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Quantitative Easing Benefits the Super-Elite … And Hurts the Little Guy and the American Economy

The Fed has just announced its fourth round of “quantitative easing”.

While the mainstream financial press pretends that quantitative easing is a “liberal” economic policy, nothing could be further from the truth.

As we’ve repeatedly explained, quantitative easing is a bailout for the super-rich, at the expense of the little guy. It increases inequality and fails to stimulate the economy. (And it destroys the savings of retirees.)

Indeed, Fed boss Ben Bernanke knew 24 years ago that quantitative easing doesn’t help.

Forbes’ Lawrence Hunter explains:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Standstill: The Charts That Prove the Global Economy is in Serious Trouble

Amid growing concern that the global economy is teetering on the edge of a total collapse, governments in Europe, China and the United States continue to manipulate statistics in an effort to paint a picture of recovery and a return to normalcy.

But despite their best efforts to fabricate positive employment numbers, GDP growth, currency stability and stock market health, the stark reality is that the global economy is at a standstill, and has been since before the crash of 2008.

Economic growth is measured by how much we produce and consume, and before the bursting of the bubble there was an unprecedented level of consumption in America and throughout the rest of the world. But when credit markets and lending froze in response to a loss of confidence in the financial system following the collapse of investment giants Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, the economy as we had come to know it fell apart.

Consumption fell off a cliff and left America in its deepest recessionary environment since the 1930s.

For those paying attention to the Baltic Dry Index, a global measure of the costs to transport raw materials, this collapse was reflected several months before panic gripped investors and led to stock market crashes around the world.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Unity of the European Union is About to be Tested

Europe’s crisis has entered a quiet phase, which is no accident. The current period of relative calm coincides with the approach of Germany’s federal election in 2013, in which the incumbent chancellor, Angela Merkel, will be running as the woman who saved the euro.

But the crisis will be back, if not before Germany’s upcoming election, then after. Southern Europe has not done enough to enhance its competitiveness, while northern Europe has not done enough to boost demand. Debt burdens remain crushing, and Europe’s economy remains unable to grow. Across the continent, political divisions are deepening. For all of these reasons, the specter of a eurozone collapse has not been dispatched.

The consequences of a collapse would not be pretty. Whichever country precipitated it — Germany by threatening to abandon the euro, or Greece or Spain by actually doing so — would trigger economic chaos and incur its neighbours’ wrath. To protect themselves from the financial fallout, governments would invoke obscure clauses in EU treaties in order to slap temporary controls on capital flows and ring-fence their banking systems. They would close their borders to stem capital flight. It would be each country for itself.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Ambassador Susan E. Rice Withdraws From Consideration for Secretary of State, White House Says

Susan E. Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, has withdrawn her name from consideration for secretary of state, in the face of relentless opposition from Republicans in Congress over her statements about the deadly attack on the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya.

In a letter to President Obama, Ms. Rice said she concluded that “the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly — to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities. The tradeoff is simply not worth it to our country.”

Mr. Obama, who spoke with Ms. Rice on Thursday, said he accepted her request with regret, describing her as “an ext raordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant.”

[Return to headlines]

Clackamas Town Center Shooting: Oregon Lawmaker Launches Effort to Ban High-Capacity Gun Clips in Wake of Shootings

In the wake of the Clackamas mall shootings, Oregon state Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, on Wednesday launched an effort to round up support for legislation to ban the sale of high-capacity gun magazines.

In an email to colleagues seeking co-sponsors for a bill she plans to introduce for the 2013 legislative session, Burdick wrote:…

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo[Return to headlines]

Colorado Governor Says Time to Talk Gun Laws

Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper said “the time is right” for state lawmakers to consider gun control measures, offering his firmest stance in the aftermath of several high-profile shootings, including a movie theater rampage in suburban Denver, that have shocked the nation.

The Democratic governor upset some in his party for not taking a stronger position when he said last summer that stricter laws would not haven’t prevented the mass shooting in Aurora.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Electroshock Torture Handcuffs Now Patented.

Delivers shocking torture, ‘gas injections’ and ‘chemical restraints’ to prisoners via remote control

(NaturalNews) It’s like something ripped right out of a dystopian futuristic sci-fi novel: A U.S. patent has been uncovered that describes electronic handcuffs capable of delivering torturous electroshocks, “gas injections” and injectable “chemical restraints” to prisoners who wear them. The cuffs can be remote-controlled by prison guards, cops or MPs to deliver stronger or weaker electroshocks as desired… or even chemical injections.


The handcuffs are able to deliver electroshock torture in combination with RFID chips that determine the distance between prisoners and weapons or other objects. If the prisoner wearing the cuffs approaches too closely to an RFID-equipped object, they are electro-shocked.

As the patent describes:


Natural News has learned that the inventors of these electroshock torture handcuffs are the same people involved in the manufacture and marketing of S&M sex toy handcuffs. This picture on the right, taken from their home page, depicts some of the sex bondage cuffs that their company promotes at

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Happy-Go-Lucky Gunman Became Numb Before Mall Shooting

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

The gunman who killed two innocent victims after opening fire at an Oregon shopping mall on Tuesday has appeared ‘numb’ in the lead up to the shocking attack that left two dead.

22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts was hoping to move to Hawaii until plans fell through just days ago, his ex-girlfriend has revealed.

Hannah Patricia Sansburn, 20, said on Wednesday that Roberts was usually happy-go-lucky and enjoyed joking around but just one week ago his behavior abruptly changed.


The gunman opened fire around 3.30pm on Tuesday after shouting ‘I am the shooter’, witnesses said. He then fired a series of rapid shots as Christmas music played in the background.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Moore’s Law, Cheap Electronics and Homeland Security Money Combine to Create Big Brother

1984 Is Here

We extensively documented last week that Americans are the most spied upon people in world history.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal gave a glimpse of a small part of the pervasive spying:

Top U.S. intelligence officials gathered in the White House Situation Room in March to debate a controversial proposal. Counterterrorism officials wanted to create a government dragnet, sweeping up millions of records about U.S. citizens—even people suspected of no crime.

Why is this happening?

Moore’s law says that computing power doubles every two years.

High-quality videocams and microphones keep getting cheaper and cheaper. Today, most people shoot video with their smartphone, and alot of people have webcams on the computers.

At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security is giving huge amounts of cash to local governments to obtain military hardware and software.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

OBAMADON! Yale Scientists Name Extinct Lizard in Obama’s Honor

President Obama has had everything named after him from streets to schools… but now an extinct lizard?

The team of scientists from Yale and Harvard paid an unusual tribute to Obama in a paper looking at the survival rate of lizards and snakes in the mass extinction that killed off the dinosaurs.

“Obamadon gracilis” is one of several previously unreported species identified in the paper, which was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

[What’s next? a new name for a new species of parasite?]

[Return to headlines]

Police Trained for Oregon Mall Shooting

Six months before a lone gunman burst into Clackamas Town Center Tuesday, firing dozens of rounds into the crowds of shoppers, police and mall employees trained together for just such an emergency.

On Wednesday, police and mall employees credited that training, along with quick thinking and brave actions by some of the estimated 10,000 people at the mall, for saving lives. “To be familiar with all the back hallways and stairwells in advance really was helpful,” said Clackamas County sheriff’s Capt. Kevin Layng, who coordinated Tuesday’s massive law enforcement response.

They also credited a little luck, a short interval when the shooter’s gun temporarily jammed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Police Admit Tasers Used to Compel Obedience

Cops and attorneys have argued in an ongoing lawsuit that the use of a taser at point blank range on a handcuffed woman does not constitute assault with dangerous weapon, and “ that the use of a Taser is not unconstitutional when used to compel obedience by inmates.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Second Amendment Opponents Regroup as Dust Settles Following Illinois Concealed Carry Ruling

Gun rights opponents in Illinois on Wednesday said they will continue their fight to rollback the Second Amendment after the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that a ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional.

Gun-grabbers in Chicago demanded state Attorney General Lisa Madigan appeal the ruling. Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said they will work closely with legislators to come up with a new law that will “protect the public” against citizens exercising their constitutional right to own and carry firearms.

“I think it’s important that we stress that public safety comes first,” Quinn told the Associated Press.

In November, Quinn attempted to sneak through legislation banning so-called assault weapons, but was frustrated by the Illinois Senate. “The Governor overstepped his reach when he decided to rewrite this Senate bill and impose an assault weapons ban without the measure first being heard by the legislature,” said Sen. Dave Luechtefeld.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens

by Julia Angwin

Top U.S. intelligence officials gathered in the White House Situation Room in March to debate a controversial proposal. Counterterrorism officials wanted to create a government dragnet, sweeping up millions of records about U.S. citizens—even people suspected of no crime.

Not everyone was on board. “This is a sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public,” Mary Ellen Callahan, chief privacy officer of the Department of Homeland Security, argued in the meeting, according to people familiar with the discussions.

A week later, the attorney general signed the changes into effect.

Through Freedom of Information Act requests and interviews with officials at numerous agencies, The Wall Street Journal has reconstructed the clash over the counterterrorism program within the administration of President Barack Obama. The debate was a confrontation between some who viewed it as a matter of efficiency—how long to keep data, for instance, or where it should be stored—and others who saw it as granting authority for unprecedented government surveillance of U.S. citizens.

The rules now allow the little-known National Counterterrorism Center to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them. That is a departure from past practice, which barred the agency from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation.

Now, NCTC can copy entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others. The agency has new authority to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, and to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. Previously, both were prohibited. Data about Americans “reasonably believed to constitute terrorism information” may be permanently retained.

The changes also allow databases of U.S. civilian information to be given to foreign governments for analysis of their own. In effect, U.S. and foreign governments would be using the information to look for clues that people might commit future crimes.

“It’s breathtaking” in its scope, said a former senior administration official familiar with the White House debate…

           — Hat tip: DS[Return to headlines]

Video: Belafonte: Put Obama’s Critics in Gulags

All who oppose the agenda of Barack Obama — or rather oppose the agenda of his globalist handlers — should be rounded up and imprisoned, singer and “social activist” Harry Belafonte recently told the ambulance chaser Al Sharpton on the death merchant General Electric’s network, MSNBC.

Belafonte’s comment reveals the true nature of the “progressive” — it differs little from that of the communist thug who has zero tolerance for any opposition. Belafonte’s mindset ultimately terminates in purges, “cultural revolutions,” and death camps.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Yet Another TSA Official Outed as a Sexual Deviant

It is no exaggeration to say that the TSA is manned by an army of perverts and sexual deviants. The amount of stories that have emerged documenting this phenomenon is staggering. Here is yet another.

When it was revealed earlier this month that Miami International Airport had fired more TSA screeners this month for theft than at any other airport in the nation, the Miami New Times did some digging around to find out who was running the show down there.

The free weekly newspaper discovered that one of the head screeners at the airport, Juan Garcia, was fired in 2000 from an 18 year role as a cop. Why? Because he attempted to buy sex from a prostitute who, unfortunately for him, turned out to be one of his undercover colleagues.

Internal affairs records state that Garcia offered officer Ella Moore $60 for a “f*** and a suck”.

Needless to say, Garcia was arrested and charged with soliciting a prostitute, and conduct unbecoming an officer. He resigned from the Miami Police Department shortly thereafter.

Now, Garcia is in charge of overseeing the metal-detectors, body scanners and full body-patdowns used and conducted by TSA screeners at MIA.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

£100 Billion and Counting: What Britain Has Paid to Brussels in the Last 40 Years

Britain’s membership of the European Union has cost taxpayers almost £100billion since its formation.

As David Cameron travels to Brussels today for another EU summit, it emerged that from 1973 to this year Britain has paid £97billion in net payments.

The Prime Minister is likely to seize on the vast sum when he finally sets out his vision for the UK’s place in Europe in a major speech, now delayed until the New Year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

A Traditionalist Avant-Garde — It’s Trendy to be a Traditionalist in the Catholic Church

Others share his enthusiasm. The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, started in 1965, now has over 5,000 members. The weekly number of Latin masses is up from 26 in 2007 to 157 now. In America it is up from 60 in 1991 to 420. At Brompton Oratory, a hotspot of London traditionalism, 440 flock to the main Sunday Latin mass. That is twice the figure for the main English one. Women sport mantillas (lace headscarves). Men wear tweeds.

But it is not a fogeys’ hangout: the congregation is young and international. Like evangelical Christianity, traditional Catholicism is attracting people who were not even born when the Second Vatican Council tried to rejuvenate the church. Traditionalist groups have members in 34 countries, including Hong Kong, South Africa and Belarus. Juventutem, a movement for young Catholics who like the old ways, boasts scores of activists in a dozen countries. Traditionalists use blogs, websites and social media to spread the word—and to highlight recalcitrant liberal dioceses and church administrators, who have long seen the Latinists as a self-indulgent, anachronistic and affected minority. In Colombia 500 people wanting a traditional mass had to use a community hall (they later found a church)…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

EPP Supports Monti: Not Berlusconi, Says Dutch Premier

(ANSA) — Brussels, December 13 — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Thursday that “it is clear that the EPP (European People’s Party) supports (Italian Premier) Mario Monti and not Silvio Berlusconi”. “The European People’s Party appreciates the results achieved by Premier Monti,” Rutte added after an EPP summit in Brussels attended by both Monti and Berlusconi.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Germany: Muslims Call for ‘Denazification’ of State

An umbrella organisation representing Muslims in Germany has called for a “denazification” of German state authorities, and demanded they refrain from using the terms “Islamism” and “Islamist” to describe radical Muslims.

The German Muslim coordination council (KRM) presented a dossier on Wednesday on the botched investigation into the National Socialist Underground (NSU) terrorist cell.

German Muslims say the debacle — in which authorities failed to prevent the murders of nine immigrants and one police woman over a decade — was no accident, wrote the Frankfurter Rundschau on Thursday.

The investigation into the murders was prejudiced, said the KRM, a result of a distorted view of Islam in Germany and a widespread stigmatization of Muslims.

The council even went so far as to demand a “denazification” of German state authorities and officials, and that all responsible state authorities and politicians should feel the consequences of their failure to detect the right-wing extremist terrorist cell.

In recognition of the seriousness of the crimes, Germany should hold annual memorials for the victims of the NSU, said the council, and teach children about the murders in school history lessons as “a problem arising out of the Nazi past.”

Spokesman Erol Pürlü told the press, “Those who murder Muslims today, will murder those who don’t comply with them tomorrow.”

Further demands laid out in the dossier included creating a special category for anti-Islamic attacks in crime statistics, and for officials to stop using the words “Islamist” and “Islamism” to refer to radical Islam.

Pürlü emphasised that the council had no doubt that Germany was a functioning democracy and praised the work of the parliamentary NSU investigation committee tasked with looking into the failure of German authorities in the case.

Meanwhile, Aiman Mazyek, Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, said he supported a ban on the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD), ahead of an upcoming vote on the ban by the lower house of parliament on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany ‘Risks Unrest if Inequality Not Tackled’

Rising inequality is threatening to divide Germany into a land of “haves” and “have nots,” researchers warned on Thursday — potentially risking social unrest in the future.

More than five million Germans were squeezed out of the middle classes between 1997 and 2010, according to the study, carried out by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) and the University of Bremen. In 1997, the middle classes made up 65 percent of the population: this had fallen to 58 percent by 2010.

The movement has been overwhelmingly downwards. While the group of top-earners expanded by 500,000 over this period, the number of people in the lower income brackets shot up by almost four million.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Monti Hailed at EPP Summit, Merkel ‘Asks’ Him to Run

Italian premier does not rule out standing in elections

(ANSA) — Rome, December 13 — Italian Premier Mario Monti received a huge wave of support when he made a surprise appearance at a European People’s Party summit on Thursday, at which German Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have asked him to run for office in Italy’s upcoming general elections.

The solidarity and affection from the centre-right group came after the former European commissioner said at the weekend he would resign from the helm of his emergency government in Rome.

The announcement was a consequence of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party withdrawing its support for the administration that replaced the media magnate’s third government last year, when Italy’s debt crisis looked in danger of spiralling out of control.

Concern has been expressed in European circles about the direction Rome will take after Monti’s emergency administration of unelected technocrats steps down from power. These were heightened in recent days by Silvio Berlusconi blasting Monti’s austerity policies as “too German-centric” after the media magnate announced he would run for a fourth term as premier.

Several sources at the summit told ANSA that Merkel has invited Monti to run at elections likely to take place in mid-to-late February. Elmar Brok, an influential German MEP for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, said that Monti had been invited to try to keep his job.

“We said it clearly to Monti that we would like to see him stand and that we have had a good rapport with him,” Brok said. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Thursday that “it is clear that the EPP supports (Italian Premier) Mario Monti and not Silvio Berlusconi”. Earlier this week Joseph Daul, the chairman of the EPP caucus in the European Parliament, publicly criticised the Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party for causing Monti’s government to collapse.

This was seen as significant as the PdL belongs to the EPP.

“The European People’s Party appreciates the results achieved by Premier Monti,” Rutte added on Thursay after an EPP summit in Brussels attended by both Monti and Berlusconi.

Monti refused to comment on speculation he could run in upcoming general elections, but did not rule out standing either. “No comment. This would not be the time or the place,” he said in Brussels when asked about speculation he could be the premier candidate for a group of centrist parties.

Monti is not a member of a political party that belongs to the EPP so his presence fuelled speculation he may run for premier.

But he said he had only attended to give an outline of Italy’s political situation. “I came here to explain the Italian political situation,” Monti said. “I recalled what the situation was when I started (as premier), the things that have been done and the conditions that determined my decision”. Berlusconi announced a partial change of position on Wednesday, saying he would not stand if Monti agreed to head a new conservative coalition at February elections.

He invited Monti to lead a broad coalition, including the PdL, the centrist UDC and the populist, regionalist Northern League. Political pundits consider it unlikely that Monti would agree to Berlusconi’s proposal, given the fact that the PdL stopped backing his government and the League has been one of its staunchest critics.

Democratic Party (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani, meanwhile, reiterated on Thursday that he does not think Monti should run, but stressed he would cooperate with the former European commissioner if he does. “Mario Monti should stay out of the election campaign,” Bersani, who is the centre left’s premier candidate and is favourite to win the elections with the PD ahead in the polls, told German daily Die Welt. “If, however, he does decide to stand, we’ll respect this decision and we’ll show our willingness to cooperate”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netherlands ‘Halal Homes’ Ignite Religious Row

Renovations in Amsterdam apartments — nicknamed “halal homes” in the press — have sparked a political row in the Netherlands.

About 180 apartments in Amsterdam have been given special makeovers which suit the wishes of Muslim residents. Features include individual taps that can be used for ritual cleansing before prayers and sliding doors to keep men and women apart.

Some right-wing politicians have been stirring up public opposition, warning that anyone asking for such modifications should “leave for Mecca”.

From the outside, the apartments look no different from other social housing blocks in the residential area of Bos and Lommer, in the less opulent western reaches of the capital.

Aynur Yildrim gives a tour of her home with the enthusiasm of an inspired estate agent. In the bathroom she bends to reveal the lowered water point — a modification that, in some variation, might equally exist in non-religious homes. But it is the perceived religious aspect of these changes that has made them so controversial.

And it is in the tidy kitchen that the distinction is most striking, as Ms Yildrim shows off the sliding doors.

“I wanted a closed kitchen, in order to be able to close the kitchen off now and then for a bit more privacy. Sometimes we like to be separated, the women on one side and the men on the other.”

Wim de Waard of the housing association Eigen Haard insisted that the changes were “absolutely not religiously inspired — they are just practical adaptations”. The adaptations followed consultations with local residents, including Muslim groups.

Mr de Waard stressed that apartments were not reserved for Muslims — homes were assigned on the basis of rank on the waiting list, size of household and income.

Wilders outraged

For many Dutch people, living in a historically tolerant and liberal country, the idea of separating men and women has led to some criticism that these buildings are effectively condoning some kind of gender inequality.

The controversial anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders accused the Dutch authorities of subsidising a “medieval gender apartheid”.

He has publicly prophesied about an impending “ghettoisation” of Dutch neighbourhoods — not unusually strong words from a man who once appeared in court for his strident rhetoric. Mr Wilders was cleared of inciting religious hatred two years ago.

After a poor performance in recent parliamentary elections, Mr Wilders may be angling to woo immigration-conscious right-wing voters again with his strong, headline-grabbing statements. Recent opinion polls suggest that if there were to be an election tomorrow, his Freedom Party (PVV) would win.

A Dutch property developer and PVV supporter said he was “shocked” by the “halal homes” concept.

“It’s a ridiculous idea, I thought it was a joke,” he complained.

“It turns into reality. The rules of the Koran are discrimination, it is stimulating discrimination. It’s taking us back to medieval times.”

“These immigrants are from lower social classes, they’re not educated, they’re bringing those values to our Dutch society — the opposite should happen, they should adapt to our modern and free values.

We should teach them to integrate. This is backwards. What if it were on buses? If we were to separate men and women on buses it would be like discrimination again, here in the Netherlands. It’s crazy. I can’t believe it. It frightens me.”

Using tax revenue

But many residents in the area seem to accept that what their neighbours do in the privacy of their own homes is entirely up to them.

Tess Duijghuisen lives in the same block and said: “A lot of new people arrived here lately, a lot of young people like me, so trust me, there’s no problem of ghettoisation.

“And there are a lot of exchanges between people from all nationalities, which makes life much nicer here.”

On internet forums, some users have made light of the renovations, with comments such as, “I believe in the power of disco, please can I have a disco ball built into my apartment?”

When I asked Dutch followers on Twitter why the opposition, they told me “it’s wrong that inequality should be subsidised by tax money” and that another country’s traditions “may be offensive to others”.

It is a debate over the public versus private spaces. When the public purse is used to part-fund modifications, which many see as the religious antithesis of traditional Dutch society, conflict emerges.

Public funding is actually in the form of a guarantee, the housing association says. Yet it is still perceived as a subsidy.

The housing association says the complex is completely mixed, that the homes have been renovated to improve their “rentability” and that it is just trying to keep everyone happy. Many would argue that that is a tough ambition to fulfil — whether in religion, politics or our private lives.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Swedish Missionary Dies After Pakistan Shooting

The Swedish charity worker who was shot in the chest in Pakistan last week died in a Stockholm hospital on Wednesday night.

Sveriges Television (SVT) reported that 71-year-old Birgitta Almeby died at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm late on Wednesday. She was receiving treatment after having been flown home to Sweden for specialist medical care for her injuries.

Niclas Lindgren, director of the missionary wing of the Pentecostal church in Sweden, said it was hard to come to grips with Almeby’s killing.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Met Police Pay £15,000 Settlement to Teenage Rape Victim for ‘Shocking’ Failings Which Saw Alleged Attacker Acquitted

The Metropolitan Police are to pay a £15,000 settlement to a teenage rape victim for ‘shocking’ failings which saw the alleged attacker acquitted.

The alleged attacker of the 15-year-old girl was acquitted when the police lost evidence in what a trial judge branded a ‘disgrace’.

Scotland Yard today admitted failings in the 2005 rape investigation as it agreed an out of court settlement with the young victim and accepted that officers were told to put car crime first.

Her mother complained to the BBC that the force fought ‘really dirty’ against the claim.

She said: ‘Had they put the same amount of effort into investigating my daughter’s rape, I reckon he would probably have been found guilty.’

‘To be honest the way they fought it was really dirty and I just think they should have just held their hands up and said, “we’re sorry”.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Assad Regime Reported Firing Scuds Against Syrian Opposition

As the Assad regime needs to counter Syrian opposition MANPAD threats to military aircraft, we can expect more reports of SCUD firings, perhaps even ones equipped with chemical and biological warheads. We should not be surprised at this development. You may recall that Israel was attacked by 39 Iraqi SCUDS, some reportedly equipped with chemical warheads, that produced damage but few casualties during the First Gulf War in 1991. Those SCUD attacks by Saddam Hussein’s forces led to the deployment of the first Patriot batteries in the region…

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon[Return to headlines]

Syrian Rebels Training on Anti-Aircraft Weapons in Jordan

The U.S. has now formally recognized a new Syrian opposition group as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. But the U.S. has repeatedly declined to provide weapons for rebels fighting President Bashar Assad’s army.

However, NPR has learned that there are movements behind the scenes. In Jordan, several Syrian sources said that Jordanian authorities, along with their U.S. and British counterparts, have organized training for Syrian rebels on sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons.

The Syrian sources would not identify the weapons or where they came from, but they indicated they were the kind of arms that could have a dramatic impact in the fight against Assad’s military.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US-Backed Syrian Opposition Demands Support for Al Qaeda

As part of the US’ charade in declaring support and recognition of the so-called “Syrian” opposition, it added one of the more extreme groups that make up the militant front operating inside Syria to a list of sanctioned terrorist organizations. The idea was to have a scapegoat to pin atrocities on while the West armed, funded, and provided military support for the rest of the extremist groups ravaging Syria.

The ploy quickly fell apart however, when the US’ own handpicked opposition leader, Moaz al-Khatib spoke out in protest. Reuters quoted al-Khatib as saying:

“The decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed. We might disagree with some parties and their ideas and their political and ideological vision. But we affirm that all the guns of the rebels are aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical criminal regime.”

Al-Khatib himself openly declares his intentions of establishing an “Islamic state” upon the ashes of the currently secular Syria, and has ties with the extremist Muslim Brotherhood. He was also a representative of Western big oil interests, in particular Royal Dutch Shell. Al-Khatib had worked at the al-Furat Petroleum Company for six years, according to the BBC, which is partnered with Shell Oil. Al-Khatib is also said to have lobbied for Shell in Syria between 2003-2004, and has likewise taught classes in both Europe and the United States, this according to his biography featured on his own website.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Indonesia: Polygamy and Power in the Case of the West Java Official

The 40-year-old district official repudiated his wife after four days of marriage because “she was not a virgin” and he had a right “to an untouched bride”. Although president Yudhoyono has called for his dismissal, the case raises questions about the relationship between religion, society, women’s rights and abuses of power.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — The recent case of a government official in a West Java district who repudiated his new wife four days after the wedding because she was not a virgin has stirred a hornet’s nest in Indonesia. Even President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono waded into the affair, calling for the official’s dismissal, something that many Indonesians would be too happy to see. However, the case is symptomatic of some of the major social and religious contradictions that characterise the life of the world’s most populous Muslim nation. One such contradiction is the practice by rich businessmen to marry more than one woman according to Muslim tradition, without registering the union with the civil authorities, especially since polygamy in Indonesia (as well as in other Muslim nations) is frown upon by the state.

The case in question goes back to this summer when 40-year-old Aceng HM Fikri (pictured), a district chief in Garut, repudiated Fani Oktora, 18, after four days of marriage, celebrated on 14 July in an Islamic ceremony.

At the time, Fikri was already married to another woman according to the civil law. Less than a week after taking a new bride, he sent her a text message repudiating her, saying that he did not spend 250 million rupees (US$ 26,000) for “a girl that was not even a virgin.”

“Having spent all that money, I had the right to expect her to be untouched,” he said in his defence. “Going to bed with a celebrity would not have cost me as much,” he added.

These words sparked a row across the country, with women’s groups and associations outraged. Quickly, activists and students took to the streets, calling for him to be removed from office.

The protest reached the highest office in the land, when President Yudhoyono spoke about the matter at an official meeting with the country’s governors. He personally told Interior Minister Gamawan Fauzi to deal with the ‘Fikri scandal’ and get his resignation. For the president, the local official’s behaviour was inappropriate and indecent vis-à-vis women’s rights.

However, this was not a localised incident, but is actually representative of a widespread problem that affects the entire country where religion holds great sway and wealthy men and politicians can indulge in their power and take advantage of the fact that Islam authorises polygamy.

Many women thus find themselves in ‘nikah siri’ or unregistered marriages, sharing a husband with an official wife. This has created resentment, especially among unofficial wives who are more likely to be victims of abuses and marginalisation. Because of the lack of legislation in the matter, the legal system cannot do much.

Under Islamic law, Muslim men can marry up to four wives. Some rich pro-polygamy Indonesians want even more. However, under General Suharto (1967-1998), Indonesia took a stand against polygamy. Polygamous public officials were dismissed.

In order to make matters clearer, Suharto signed into law in 1974 legislation that bans government officials from practicing polygamy, a measure many Indonesians believe was taken because of the influence of Suharto’s wife, Tien Suharto, a very traditional Javanese woman but one opposed to polygamy.

Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, was by contrast a notorious womaniser and polygamist.

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

Indonesia: Child Molesters Beyond Reach of Long Arm of the Law

Despite allegations of child molestation against a number of local clerics in the city, not one suspect has been detained due to a lack of solid evidence in each case, according to the police.

In the most recent case, allegedly committed by the founder of the Islamic educational Darul Ilmi Al-fikri Foundation in Pondok Cabe, South Jakarta, the police said they had no legitimate reason to arrest the suspect.

South Jakarta Police detectives chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Hermawan said on Tuesday that according to Criminal Code Procedures, an arrest could only be made with two pieces of evidence: physical proof and a witness statement.

“Physical examinations of the [victims] did not present anything unusual. Also, the witnesses presented did not directly see the alleged assaults taking place, they only received verbal reports from the victims,” he said, adding that the police had not stopped seeking evidence for the case.

The police named Mika Maulana a suspect on Nov. 26, following a report filed by a teacher at the foundation, for allegedly molesting three teenage girls, aged 14, 16 and 17, between January and September. The police, however, soon released him, much to the anger of the victims’ families.

“It is not right that the man is walking around free, considering what he did to my 14-year-old daughter,” said the widowed mother of one of the girls at the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak) office in East Jakarta on Tuesday.

The parents and their legal representatives are seeking support from the commission to have the suspect arrested.

One of the lawyers, Abu Bakar Lamatapo, said the police’s argument was debatable, as they already had statements from the three victims and two witnesses.

“The fact that the man hasn’t been put behind bars has upset the parents, the victims and people living in those areas, which in itself could be another reason to issue an arrest warrant,” Abu said.

Komnas Anak chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait said the police should charge the suspect under the 2002 Child Protection Law rather than the Criminal Code on molestation, which the suspect could easily dodge by claiming what took place was consensual.

“Even if it was consensual, it was done to minors, who are supposed to be protected from such repugnant deeds,” he said.

The Criminal Code carries seven years’ imprisonment as a punishment for molestation, while the Child Protection Law carries a sentence of 15 years in jail plus a Rp 300 million (US$31,136) fine.

Another alleged sex offender who is still free is cleric Habib Hasan Assegaf, the leader of the Nurul Musthofa Islamic congregation in Jagakarta, South Jakarta. He was reported to police in February for allegedly sexually abusing 13 underage boys since 2002.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said the police were making slow progress in the Habib Hasan investigation, also due to a lack of evidence.

“The difficulty in investigating such cases is that sometimes the assaults occurred long before being reported, therefore making it hard to gather physical evidence,” Rikwanto said.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Italy Asks India to Issue Marines Verdict Before Christmas

Request made through Indian ambassador in Rome

(ANSA) — Rome, December 13 — Italy on Thursday officially requested India’s Supreme Court issue its verdict on a case concerning two anti-pirate marines being tried for allegedly killing two local fishermen before the Christmas festivities.

The Italian Foreign Ministry made the request through the local Indian ambassador, who was called to meet with Secretary General Michele Valensise at the request of Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi.

Marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between Italy and India since being detained in February for charges that include the homicide “It is with deep perplexity and concern that the Italian government has seen that three months after the closing arguments, the Supreme Court has still not issued a verdict in Italy’s petition”, according to a statement issued by the Italian Foreign Ministry. Italy had petitioned that it should have jurisdiction over the case because the incident took place on an Italian ship.

The Italian government believes that, regardless of who has jurisdiction, the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India as they were military personnel working on an anti-piracy mission. They were granted bail in June, but must remain in Indian territory

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Nepal: Would-be Bride, 16, Set on Fire Over Dowry

Shiwa Hasami died yesterday in a Kathmandu hospital from her injuries. Police arrested her would-be groom but eventually focused on the young woman’s family because it could not pay the huge dowry (US$ 2,300) demanded by the future groom’s family.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) — Violence against women continues in Nepal. A 16-year-old Muslim woman was set on fire over dowry. Rushed to a Kathmandu hospital, Shiwa Hasami died from her injuries. When Nepali media reported the event yesterday, it sent shockwaves across the country. Human rights activists and associations organised demonstrations against violence against women, who are often victimised in the name of religious and ethnic traditions.

At present, little is known about the case. Initially, police arrested her groom-to-be, Babu Khan, 23, on suspicious that he tried to kill her because she refused to run away with him. Now police are turning their attention to the young woman’ brother, Tanbir Ahmed, and other family members as the main culprits in the murder.

“Her brother Tanbir Ahmed had warned Shiwa not to marry Babu Khan because his father had demanded a 200,000 rupee dowry, something huge for the Hasami family, which is poor,” said Police Superintendent Ramkripal Sah, who is investigating the case.

Refusing to pay dowry is something dishonourable among Muslims and Hindus. For the police officer, the brother or another member of the family decided to punish the young woman for wanting to get married even without a dowry, placing the family in a difficult situation.

Dowry-related murders are widespread in South Asia. According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, 8,391 people died in dowry-related cases in 2010. In at least another 90,000 additional cases, husbands and the in-law family have tortured or otherwise abused women.

In predominantly Muslim Bangladesh, at least 325 women were tortured and killed over dowry disputes in 2011 alone.

Nepal is no exception. Here police have recorded hundreds of cases of domestic violence due to dissatisfaction by husbands and their families over dowries, the highest number of cases among Muslims and Madeshi.

Superintendent Ramkripal Sah noted however, that Shiwa’s case was the first in which the victim’s family was responsible for the violence.

Muslim leader Nazrul Hussan Falahi said that Islam has nothing to do with the problem, which is mostly due to sick minds and poverty.

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

Far East

China Flies Into Japanese Airspace for the First Time in History

Japan scrambled eight fighter jets on Thursday after a Chinese state-owned plane breached its airspace for the first time, over islands at the centre of a dispute between the countries.

It was the first incursion by a Chinese state aircraft into Japanese airspace anywhere since Tokyo’s military began monitoring in 1958, the defence ministry said.

The move marks a ramping-up of what observers suggest is a Chinese campaign to create a “new normal” — where its forces come and go as they please around islands Beijing calls the Diaoyus, but Tokyo controls as the Senkakus.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Did Israel Send Raptors to Spy on Sudan?

In the wake of an alleged Israeli attack on a Munitions plant near Khartoum in late October, that may have destroyed Iranian —supplied Fajr-5 long range rockets destined for Gaza, Sudan accuses Israel of sending vultures to spy on it. ABC News reported on this latest accusation by Sudan, an Islamist state sponsor of terrorism and long term ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran, “Israeli ‘Spy’ Captured in Sudan”. Those canny Israelis now can add raptors to the fantasy stories about Israeli shark attacks in Egypt and Saudi capture of another Israeli spy, a Griffon Vulture.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Gay Marriage Law: Baroness Warsi Claims Equality Could Have String of ‘Unintended Consequences’

The minister for faith has broken ranks on gay marriage to warn that David Cameron’s controversial legislation could have a string of ‘unintended consequences’.

In a letter leaked to the Daily Mail, Baroness Warsi suggests schools could be required to teach about same-sex unions, while individual priests and churches who refuse to conduct them risk being sued.

Her intervention will embolden more than 100 Tory MPs who are threatening to vote against the legislation in the New Year.

Writing to Culture Secretary Maria Miller, who unveiled the planned legislation on Tuesday, Lady Warsi raises a series of questions about the change in the law.

She demands ‘clarity’ on how the new law will properly ‘protect religious freedom’ and asks: ‘What legal support will be afforded to churches and other places of worship if they’re challenged individually or as an organisation?’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Don’t Let Your Child See a Psychiatrist. Ever.

If you have a child, don’t let him/her see a psychiatrist. Ever.

Read Mike Adams’ new article about psychiatry. It’s one of the best I’ve ever read, and I’ve been researching this pseudoscience for 20 years.

Then read this one, too. It’s also excellent. I wrote it.

Here is a clue. The government gives psychiatry its fake legitimacy. That’s how the game works. The government blesses the medical licensing boards that award psychiatrists permission to drug your children, alter their brains, poison them, and of course make all the fake diagnoses in the first place.


There are people with problems, there are people who suffer, there are people who are in desperate circumstances, there are people who have severe nutritional deficiencies, there are people who have been poisoned by various chemicals, there are people who have been abused and ignored, there are people who have been told there is something wrong with them, there are people who are different and can’t deal with the conforming androids in their midst, but there are no mental disorders.


It’s fiction. It’s a billion-dollar fiction. It’s a gigantic steaming pile of bull****. Always has been.

There is not a single diagnostic test for any so-called mental disorder. Never has been. No blood test, no urine test, no saliva test, no brain scan, no genetic test. No science.


Here is a story Dr. Breggin told in his classic book, Toxic Psychiatry. It says it all:

“Roberta was a college student, getting good grades, mostly A’s, when she first became depressed and sought psychiatric help at the recommendation of her university health service. She was eighteen at the time, bright and well motivated, and a very good candidate for psychotherapy. She was going through a sophomore-year identity crisis about dating men, succeeding in school, and planning a future. She could have thrived with a sensitive therapist who had an awareness of women’s issues.

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Every Human Emotion Now Classified as a Mental Disorder in New Psychiatric Manual DSM-5

The industry of modern psychiatry has officially gone insane. Virtually every emotion experienced by a human being — sadness, grief, anxiety, frustration, impatience, excitement — is now being classified as a “mental disorder” demanding chemical treatment (with prescription medications, of course).

The new, upcoming DSM-5 “psychiatry bible,” expected to be released in a few months, has transformed itself from a medical reference manual to a testament to the insanity of the industry itself.

“Mental disorders” named in the DSM-5 include “General Anxiety Disorder” or GAD for short. GAD can be diagnosed in a person who feels a little anxious doing something like, say, talking to a psychiatrist. Thus, the mere act of a psychiatrist engaging in the possibility of making a diagnoses causes the “symptoms” of that diagnoses to magically appear.

This is called quack science and circular reasoning, yet it’s indicative of the entire industry of psychiatry which has become such a laughing stock among scientific circles that even the science skeptics are starting to turn their backs in disgust.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

International Tourism Hits One Billion

One billion tourists have travelled the world in 2012, marking a new record for international tourism — a sector that accounts for one in every 12 jobs and 30% of the world’s services exports. On the symbolic arrival date of the one-billionth tourist (13 December 2012), UNWTO revealed the actions tourists can take to ensure their trips benefit the people and places they visit, as voted by the public.

International tourism has continued to grow in 2012, despite global economic uncertainty, to reach over one billion international tourist arrivals. The figure cements tourism’s position as one of the world’s largest economic sectors, accounting for 9% of global GDP (direct, indirect and induced impact), one in every 12 jobs and up to 8% of the total exports of the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Recalling the positive impact even the smallest action can have if multiplied by one billion, UNWTO launched the One Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities campaign to celebrate this milestone, showing tourists that respecting local culture, preserving heritage or buying local goods when travelling can make a big difference. The public was asked to vote for the Travel Tip that would have the greatest benefit for the people and places they visit and to pledge to follow that tip when traveling.

The winning tip, revealed on the arrival date of the one-billionth tourist, was Buy Local, encouraging tourists to buy food and souvenirs locally, or hire local guides, to ensure their spending translates into jobs and income for host communities. A close second, Respect Local Culture calls on tourists to learn more about their destination’s traditions, or some words in the local language, before leaving home.

“Today, we welcome the symbolic arrival of the one-billionth tourist” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “Your actions count. That is our message to the one billion tourists. Through the right actions and choices, each tourist represents an opportunity for a fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable future.”

As it is impossible to know exactly where the one-billionth tourist arrived, many countries are celebrating the occasion by welcoming tourists arriving on 13 December. UNWTO is celebrating in Madrid, Spain, home to its headquarters, by welcoming the symbolic one-billionth tourist in the Museo del Prado, Madrid’s most-visited tourism attraction, together with the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Spain.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Overeating Now Bigger Global Problem Than Lack of Food

The largest ever study into the state of the world’s health has revealed that, for the first time, the number of years of healthy living lost as a result of people eating too much outweigh the number lost by people eating too little.

The Global Burden of Disease report — a massive research effort involving almost 500 scientists in 50 countries — also concludes that we have finally got a handle on some common infectious diseases, helping to save millions of children from early deaths. But collectively we are spending more of our lives living in poor health and with disability.

“The Global Burden of Disease 2010 is the most comprehensive assessment of human health in the history of medicine,” says Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, in which the report will be published. “It provides insights into human health that are comparable in scope and depth to the sequencing of the human genome.”

The report assessed the prevalence of diseases and causes of death across the globe in 2010, and compared these to data collected in 1990 to identify any trends.

For the first time on a global scale, being overweight has become more of a health problem than lack of nutrition. In 1990, undernutrition was the leading cause of disease burden, measured as the number of years of healthy life an average person could expect to lose as a result of illness or early death. Back then, a high body-mass index, or BMI, was ranked tenth. Now, undernutrition has dropped to eighth place, while BMI has risen to become the sixth leading cause of disease burden.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

U.N. Conference Slyly Introduces Resolution to Gain Control of Internet — In Middle of Night

In the middle of the night at a U.N. conference in Dubai, the presiding chairman of the International Telecommunication Union conference surveyed the assembled countries to see whether there was interest in having greater involvement in the U.N. governing the Internet. A majority of countries gave their approval.

With a sufficient majority supporting the U.N. becoming more active in controlling the Internet, the chairman put forth a resolution. The chairman, though, insisted the survey “was not a vote.”

The resolution was supported by Cuba, Algeria, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia; the United States opposed it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]