Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121219

Financial Crisis
»EU OKs 25.3 Mln Euros to Aid Laid-Off Workers
»Italian Bond Spread Hovers Around 300 Points
»Italy: ‘Biggest Budget Surplus in 2013 Since 2000’ Says EU
»Italy Doesn’t Face Short-Term Fiscal Stress, Says EC
»Spanish Banking Insolvency Reaches New 11.23% High
»Latino Muslims Are Shaping a New US Identity
»Obama to Give Congress Plan on Gun Control Within Weeks
»Robert H. Bork: Conservative Jurist, Dies at 85
»St Zuck Gives Half a BEELLION DOLLARS in Facebook Stock to Charity
»Straight Talk From Williams: A Hundred Percent of Nothing
»We Know How to Stop School Shootings
»Your Cellphone is Spying on You
»Thousands of Teachers in Ontario Strike to Protest Legislation
Europe and the EU
»Amid Scars of Past Conflict Spanish Far Right Grows
»Cardinal Calls for More Transparent Finances at Vatican
»Greece: The Story of Antiquities Stolen by Nazis
»Italian Court Bans Conjugal Visitors for Prison Inmates
»Italy: Senate Health Panel Chief Probed Over Lombardy Contracts
»Italy: Twitter Feed Boomerangs Against Ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi
»Italy: Four Foreign Banks Convicted in Milan in Derivatives Case
»‘Radical Islam’ Trial Set to Resume in Bulgaria
»Terzi Says Italy Will Push for Nazi-Victim Compensation
»UK: Doctor Gousul Islam, 77, Jailed for Sex Crimes
»UK: EDL to Stage Demo Against Islamic School Plans for Byker Grove Building
»UK: Free Press Under Threat
»UK: Muslims Call for Changes Over Port Terror Searches
»UK: Parents’ Fury as Christian Primary School Bans Christmas Nativity Play From the Timetable
»UK: Peter Bone MP: Religious Institutions Should Not be Under Attack From the Charity Commission
»UK: Traditional Tories Are Defecting to UKIP in Droves
»UK: Vandals and Hanoverians
North Africa
»Algeria: Nation Arrests Aqim ‘Number Two’
»Libya: US Inquiry Into Benghazi Mission Attack Criticises ‘Grossly Inadequate’ Security
»Tunisia: Arab Winter Update
Middle East
»British Military Leader Outlines Closer Engagement With Gulf, Arab, African Nations
South Asia
»David Cameron and Barack Obama Agree Afghan Withdrawal Plan
»Death Penalty Sought for US Soldier Accused of Killing Afghan Villagers
»India: Gang Rape in New Delhi, Victim in Critical Condition
»India: Thousands of Shia Muslims in Lucknow India Stage Rally Against Shia Genocide in Pakistan
»Pakistan: Taliban War Against Polio: Two More Volunteers Wounded, After Those Slain Yesterday
»Pakistan: Polio Campaign Hit by Fresh Attacks
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Pirates Seize Indian Crew in Raid Off Nigeria
»Somalia Ready to Try Pirates on its Soil, Says Chief of Justice
»South Africa: Behold, The Zuma Moment!
Latin America
»Argentina Seeks Arrest of Italian Priest for Rights Abuses
»Argentina Congress Hosts “Islam for Peace” Seminar
»Greece: New Tragedy in the Aegean Sea, 21 Dead
»Tony Blair: Immigration Has Been Good for Britain
»Tactical Missal
»US Study Endorses Islam as Fastest Growing Religion, Popular in Youth

Financial Crisis

EU OKs 25.3 Mln Euros to Aid Laid-Off Workers

In France, Ireland, Holland, Spain, Sweden

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, DECEMBER 19 — The European Commission on Wednesday green-lit the disbursement of 25.3 million euros from the European Globalization Fund to get hundreds of laid-off workers in France, Ireland, Holland, Spain, and Sweden back on their feet.

The largest slice of the pie, or 11.9 million euros, goes to 2,089 former PSA Peugeot-Citroen employees in France. Another 4.3 million euros go to former employees of Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, 2.8 million euros will aid 435 laid-off construction workers in Holland, and 2.6 million are slated for 432 former employees of Irish wide-band service provider Talk Talk. In Spain, laid-off metalworkers from 35 providers of naval components will get 2 million euros, while 1.4 million euros go to 616 former employees of Zalco Aluminum Zeeland Company NV, in Holland. The European Globalization Fund “is an efficient instrument to support workers who are laid off following global market changes, proving its value in times of crisis,” said EU Labor Commissioner Laszlo Andor, who called on member states to make sure “the fund stays available” in the 2014-2020 EU budget.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italian Bond Spread Hovers Around 300 Points

Calm returns to bond market after alarm of Monti’s resignation

(ANSA) — Rome, December 19 — The spread between 10-year Italian bonds and the German equivalent was hovering at around 300 basis points on Wednesday after briefly dipping below the psychologically important threshold.

The spread, which closed at 304 points on Tuesday, dropped to 299 points before climbing back to 302 with a yield of 4.45%.

The spread — a key measure of market confidence in the country’s ability to weather the eurozone crisis — went under the 300-points mark for the first time since March at the start of this month before rising back above it.

It soared to 360 basis points after Premier Mario Monti said he would resign when the 2013 budget law is approved after after Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party stopped backing the government.

But the spread gradually came back down and the fact that it dipped below the 300-points mark again on Wednesday suggests calm has returned to the bond market. Austerity measures and structural economic reforms carried out by Monti’s emergency government have boosted investor faith in Italy after the country’s borrowing costs looked in danger of becoming unsustainably high last year, when the crisis forced Berlusconi to quit as premier.

Furthermore, Italy’s borrowing costs have come down significantly since July when European Central Bank President Mario Draghi pledged to do whatever was necessary to support the euro.

He followed those words with action in September, when the ECB established a bond-buying program for stressed countries.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Biggest Budget Surplus in 2013 Since 2000’ Says EU

5.1% in 2013, 4.1% in 2012

(ANSA) — Brussels, December 18 — Italy’s primary budget surplus next year will be 5.1% of GDP, the highest since 2000 when it was 4.5%, the European Union said Tuesday. This year’s primary surplus is forecast at 4.1%, the EU said in its Fiscal Sustainability Report 2012.

Outgoing Premier Mario Monti’s austerity policies have put Italy on track to balance the budget in structural terms next year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Doesn’t Face Short-Term Fiscal Stress, Says EC

Sustainability risks medium in medium run, says Commission

(ANSA) — Brussels, December 18 — The European Commission said on Tuesday that Italy is in no danger of fiscal stress in the short-term.

It said that there were some possible problems in the medium term, but it should be possible to avoid these if future Italian government continue with the policy of budget discipline adopted by Premier Mario Monti’s emergency administration of unelected technocrats. “Italy does not appear to face a risk of fiscal stress in the short-term,” the EC said in its Fiscal Sustainability Report 2012.

“Sustainability risks appear to be medium in the medium run, while becoming low in a long-term perspective, conditional upon the full implementation of the planned ambitious fiscal consolidation and on maintaining the primary balance well beyond 2014 at the level expected to be reached in that year”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spanish Banking Insolvency Reaches New 11.23% High

Record high since 1994

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, DECEMBER 18 — Insolvent debt towards banks, cooperatives and other lenders reached a new record of 11.23%, the highest rate since 1994, when it was 9.15%, the Bank of Spain made known Tuesday.

The last month in which the rate of insolvency decreased was June 2011. It has been rising steadily since then, making this the 16th consecutive month in which lenders have had trouble recovering their loans, the central bank said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Latino Muslims Are Shaping a New US Identity

by Erika L. Sanchez

Of Mexican heritage, Marta Khadija, president of LALMA, La Asociacion Latino Musulmana de America, or The Latino Muslim Association of America, converted to Islam in 1983. She had been unhappy with her spiritual life and when she moved to the United States, her Muslim friends began sending her Islamic texts and she visited a mosque. Emotional and powerful, this experience gave her peace. Another Latino American, writer, innovator and self-identified indigenous Muslim, Mark Gonzales, bases much of his work on the issue of identity. Gonzales, who is of Mexican and French Canadian descent and was raised Catholic, began to explore Islam after practicing Christianity in a very deep way. He says, “In that process, I realized I didn’t like the idea of a gatekeeper.” At that time he was also working on restorative justice with families who were deported after 9/11. He began building relationships with people practicing Islam and converted…

Latino Muslims like Gonzales, Ruiz and Khadija are creating a unique American identity. “Islam is a religion that, at its core, has to be culturally relevant to those who practice it,” Gonzales says. “Latinos are forming a culturally relevant form of Islam.” As Americans, we need to make space in our minds for these new communities.

Erika L. Sanchez is a poet and freelance writer living in Chicago. She is currently the sex and love advice columnist for Cosmopolitan for Latinas and a contributor to the Huffington Post, NBC Latino and others.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obama to Give Congress Plan on Gun Control Within Weeks

President Obama said Wednesday that he will submit broad new gun control proposals to Congress no later than January and will commit the power of his office to overcoming political opposition in the wake of last week’s school massacre.

The president’s pledge comes as key House Republicans restated their firm opposition to enacting any new limits on firearms or ammunition, setting up the possibility of a philosophical clash over the Second Amendment early in Mr. Obama’s second term.

[Return to headlines]

Robert H. Bork: Conservative Jurist, Dies at 85

Robert H. Bork, a former solicitor general, federal judge and conservative legal theorist whose 1987 nomination to the United States Supreme Court was rejected by the Senate in a historic political battle whose impact is still being felt, died on Wednesday. He was 85.

Mr. Bork’s death, of complications because of heart disease, was confirmed by his son, Robert H. Bork Jr.

[Return to headlines]

St Zuck Gives Half a BEELLION DOLLARS in Facebook Stock to Charity

The charity — the Silicon Valley Community Foundation — describes its work as “strategic grant-making on education, economic security, immigrant integration, regional planning and a community opportunity fund that responds to urgent needs, such as food and shelter.”

In 2012 the institution has made its grants to mainly US charities: including those providing legal services for immigrants, maths teaching, and programmes to prevent foreclosure for Americans who are struggling to keep up payments.

[Return to headlines]

Straight Talk From Williams: A Hundred Percent of Nothing

In 1960, Detroit’s population was 1.6 million. Blacks were 29 percent, and whites were 70 percent. Today, Detroit’s population has fallen precipitously to 707,000, of which blacks are 84 percent and whites 8 percent. Much of the city’s decline began with the election of Coleman Young, Detroit’s first black mayor and mayor for five terms, who engaged in political favoritism to blacks and tax policies against higher income mostly white people.

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo[Return to headlines]

We Know How to Stop School Shootings

Only one public policy has ever been shown to reduce the death rate from such crimes: concealed-carry laws.

The effect of concealed-carry laws in deterring mass public shootings was even greater than the impact of such laws on the murder rate generally.

Someone planning to commit a single murder in a concealed-carry state only has to weigh the odds of one person being armed. But a criminal planning to commit murder in a public place has to worry that anyone in the entire area might have a gun.

You will notice that most multiple-victim shootings occur in “gun-free zones” — even within states that have concealed-carry laws: public schools, churches, Sikh temples, post offices, the movie theater where James Holmes committed mass murder, and the Portland, Ore., mall where a nut starting gunning down shoppers a few weeks ago.

Guns were banned in all these places. Mass killers may be crazy, but they’re not stupid.

If the deterrent effect of concealed-carry laws seems surprising to you, that’s because the media hide stories of armed citizens stopping mass shooters. At the Portland shooting, for example, no explanation was given for the amazing fact that the assailant managed to kill only two people in the mall during the busy Christmas season.

It turns out, concealed-carry-holder Nick Meli hadn’t noticed that the mall was a gun-free zone. He pointed his (otherwise legal) gun at the shooter as he paused to reload, and the next shot was the attempted mass murderer killing himself. (Meli aimed, but didn’t shoot, because there were bystanders behind the shooter.)

[Return to headlines]

Your Cellphone is Spying on You

Big Brother has been outsourced. The police can find out where you are, where you’ve been, even where you’re going. All thanks to that handy little human tracking device in your pocket: your cellphone.

There are 331 million cellphone subscriptions—about 20 million more than there are residents—in the United States. Nearly 90 percent of adult Americans carry at least one phone. The phones communicate via a nationwide network of nearly 300,000 cell towers and 600,000 micro sites, which perform the same function as towers. When they are turned on, they ping these nodes once every seven seconds or so, registering their locations, usually within a radius of 150 feet. By 2018 new Federal Communications Commission regulations will require that cellphone location information be even more precise: within 50 feet. Newer cellphones also are equipped with GPS technology, which uses satellites to locate the user more precisely than tower signals can. Cellphone companies retain location data for at least a year. AT&T has information going all the way back to 2008.

Police have not been shy about taking advantage of these data. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), U.S. law enforcement agencies made 1.5 million requests for user data from cellphone companies in 2011. And under current interpretations of the law, you will never find out if they were targeting you.

In fact, police no longer even have to go to the trouble of seeking information from your cell carrier. Law enforcement is more and more deploying International Mobile Subscriber Identity locators that masquerade as cell towers and enable government agents to suck down data from thousands of subscribers as they hunt for an individual’s cell signal. This “Stingray” technology can detect and precisely triangulate cellphone signals with an accuracy of up to 6 feet—even inside your house or office where warrants have been traditionally required for a legal police search.

Law enforcement agencies prefer not to talk about cellphone tracking. “Never disclose to the media these techniques—especially cell tower tracking,” advises a guide for the Irvine, California, police department unearthed by the ACLU in 2012. The Iowa Fusion Center, one of 72 local law enforcement intelligence agencies established in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, distributes a training manual that warns, “Do not mention to the public or media the use of cellphone technology or equipment to locate the targeted subject.” The ACLU translates: “We would hate for the public to know how easy it is for us to obtain their personal information. It would be inconvenient if they asked for privacy protections.”

Ubiquitous cellphones, corporate acquiescence, stealthy new surveillance technologies, and unchecked police intrusiveness combine to produce a situation where the government can pinpoint your whereabouts whenever it wants, without a warrant and without your knowledge. The courts have largely punted on this issue so far. But should carrying convenient communications technology mean that we give up our right to privacy?…

           — Hat tip: DS[Return to headlines]


Thousands of Teachers in Ontario Strike to Protest Legislation

TORONTO, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) — Hundreds of public elementary schools in Toronto were closed on the so-called “Super Tuesday”, when nearly half of the province’s elementary teachers walked picket lines to protest a controversial legislation. It’s part of an ongoing labor dispute between teachers and the Canadian province of Ontario over the Putting Children First Act or Bill 115, which prevents them from striking and imposes a wage freeze…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Amid Scars of Past Conflict Spanish Far Right Grows

Valencia, Spain: You go down a track, cross a puddle and enter a low pine forest, strewn with fly-tipped construction waste, cigarette packets, beer bottles. You find a track big enough for an open truck to get down. And there’s the wall. It is about three feet (one metre) high, faced with concrete and full of bullet holes.

This is the wall against which, between 1939 and 1956, two thousand three hundred people were executed. They were Republican prisoners, brought from jail in batches of fifty — men and women on the losing side in a civil war. At the base of the wall there is a crisp and withered wreath draped in the colours of the old Spanish Republican flag, laid by the “Socialists of Paternas”, the area of Valencia we are in. Last year’s wreath lies discarded. And that is it. No sign to explain. No official curation of the site at all…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Cardinal Calls for More Transparent Finances at Vatican

Vatican finding new methods for open financial dealings

(ANSA) — Vatican City, December 18 — The Vatican must strive to become more transparent and fair in its financial dealings, its secretary of state said Tuesday.

“The necessary transparency of economic and financial activity of the Holy See and the State of Vatican City requires a commitment to more incisive and joint correctness by each administration in the management of assets and economic activities,” said Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

At the same, the Holy See must find ways to reduce its spending and better manage its assets, he added.

He spoke outside of meetings aimed at helping the Vatican bring its financial management in line with internationally recognized best practices.

“This has become even more necessary in the face of the commitment by the Holy See to comply with international auditing standards,” said Bertone.

As part of its renewed financial strategy, the Holy See’s Prefecture for Economic Affairs, currently chaired by Cardinal Joseph Versaldi, becomes the main department of planning and economic coordination.

Vatican financial dealings came under particular scrutiny in July, when the Council of Europe’s Moneyval department said in a report that the Holy See had made some progress on financial transparency, but added that more reforms were needed.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: The Story of Antiquities Stolen by Nazis

Book by George Lekakis presented in Thessaloniki

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 17 — A book written by Greek author George Lekakis which is titled ‘Illicit Trade of Greek Antiquities by Germans During Occupation’ about the theft of Greek ancient treasures during World War II, was presented in a bookstore in Thessaloniki last Friday 14. The book cites evidence derived from Lekakis’ long-term research in which the writer presents the original Official Report of the Greek State published in 1946, titled ‘Damages of the Antiquities Due to the War and the Occupators.’ “I did not refer to human losses, executions of civilians, kids, women and elders, which cannot be compensated by the Germans or anyone. We had 1,100,000 fellow countrymen during WW II, victims of the German brutality. In this book, I write only about the material losses, these that can be estimated,” said Lekakis as GreekReporter writes.

According to his evidence, there are 8,500 stolen items (neolithic, ancient, belonging to churches, etc.), the value of which amounts to more than USD 1 trillion. The book focuses on valuable items, Greek cultural heritage pieces which have been destroyed or stolen and have been moved out of Greece illegally by Nazi Forces during the German Occupation. The last chapter includes a detailed addendum with the legal status according to which Greece can claim damages for the looting of its cultural heritage.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italian Court Bans Conjugal Visitors for Prison Inmates

Ruling says sexual visits upset security and order

(ANSA) — Rome, December 19 — Italy’s Constitutional Court has upheld laws barring conjugal visits by spouses to prison inmates.

In a ruling Wednesday, the court rejected questions raised by a Florence judge about a requirement that prison visits be supervised.

That judge suggested that this rule contravened fundamental human rights.

But the high court said the rules exist to protect the “order and security” in prison, adding changes would have to be made by a legislative body.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Senate Health Panel Chief Probed Over Lombardy Contracts

Lombardy health chief also under investigation

(ANSA) — Rome, December 18 — The head of the Senate’s health committee, Antonio Tomassini, was among several people placed under investigation Tuesday in connection with suspected bribery and corruption over contracts granted to private healthcare facilities by the regional government of Lombardy.

Tomassini is a member of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right People of Freedom party.

Among the others placed under investigation was Lombardy Health Director-General Carlo Lucchina, sources close to the probe said. Police searched Lucchina’s home and offices in Milan. Lombardy is one of two Italian regions whose PdL-led governments were dissolved after corruption scandals.

The other is Lazio.

The two regions — plus Molise whose elections were scrapped because of irregularities — will have new elections on the same day as the general election, either February 17 or February 24.

Corruption scandals have hit other parties in other parts of Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Twitter Feed Boomerangs Against Ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi

‘Did you know that Silvio’ turns from promotion to laugh

(ANSA) — Rome, December 19 — Although ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi owns much of the mass media in Italy, he’s lost control of a Twitter feed set up in his honour.

The Twitter feed “Did you know that Silvo…” was set up to promote various good works by the disgraced premier, but lately it has been used against him.

As the 76-year-old considers a political comeback, an avalanche of posts against Berlusconi have flooded the hashtag “# losapevichesilvio”.

High volumes have even pushed it to the top of Twitter’s most popular feeds.

So instead of rhetorical questions, such as: “Who has allocated 65 million euros for new homes and university” jibes are now flying at Berlusconi, including “Who blocked Parliament for a year to block his trial for prostitution?”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Four Foreign Banks Convicted in Milan in Derivatives Case

Milan judge convicts JPMorgan, Deutsche, Depfa, and UBS

(UPDATES with fine, background) (ANSA) — Milan, December 19 — Four international banks were found guilty of fraud Wednesday by a Milan judge in a case involving the sale of derivatives to the city of Milan.

Judge Oscar Magi convicted Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co., UBS AG, and Depfa Bank Plc. — which had all denied the charges — ordered the confiscation of 88 million euros.

Magi also found guilty nine current and former bank employees, who received suspended sentences of six months to eight months.

The trial involving the four banks began in May 2010, when the banks stood accused of defrauding the city of Milan by hiding how much they earned on the derivatives. Prosecutors alleged Milan lost 105 million euros as part of the sale of bonds worth 1.69 billion euros between 2005 and 2007.

Prosecutor Alfredo Robledo called Wednesday’s decision “historic”.

The banks settled with the city of Milan in March in the case involving 1.7 billion euros in bonds sold by the city in 2005.

The banks all issued separate statements say they planned to appeal Wednesday’s ruling.

The ruling came on the same day that, in a separate case, the Swiss bank UBS agreed to pay $1.5 billion US in fines to U.S., British and Swiss regulators for attempting to manipulate the Libor inter-bank lending rate.

The fine is more than three times the $450 million US levied last June against the British bank Barclays for similar allegations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Radical Islam’ Trial Set to Resume in Bulgaria

A Bulgarian court is to hold a new hearing Wednesday in the trial against thirteen religious leaders accused of preaching radical Islam. The hearing was postponed on Monday, as the defendants’ lawyer told the judges from Pazardzhik District Court that one of his clients was ill. The defendants face up to five years in prison in a criminal trial, which is viewed abroad as a test for the limits of religious freedom and tolerance in the country.

Prosecutors say the Saudi-financed activities of the imams have been spreading religious extremism and that they have used a local soccer team to indoctrinate boys. Prosecutors allege that three of the imams were undermining the state by encouraging people to boycott parliamentary elections and spreading religious hatred. The other 10 are implicated in working with Al Waqfal Islami, a Saudi-financed charity that built mosques, sent boys on trips to the Middle East and financed religious education in Bulgaria that prosecutors say embraced the Salafist brand of fundamentalist Islam.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Terzi Says Italy Will Push for Nazi-Victim Compensation

Hague ruling does not consider ‘individual’ complaints

(ANSA) — Rome, December 19 — Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said on Wednesday that his country will continue to push for Germany to respect Italian court rulings issued last year requiring compensation for Italian victims of Nazi war crimes.

Last February the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled to annul the earlier compensation ruling by the Italian court, saying that Italy “failed to recognise the immunity” granted by international law for the Third Reich’s crimes.

“We will continue to call for the enforcement of court rulings against those who have been identified as responsible for crimes against humanity”, Terzi said at the presentation of a report by the Italo-German Historical Commission on the events of 1943-45 together with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

In November 2008 Italy and Germany agreed to set up a joint commission to probe legal claims linked to the Second World War, as well as the fate of thousands of Italian deportees.

Terzi said that though Italy “took note” of the Hague ruling, which gave “a legal definition to the issue of compensation” there remain individual cases to be considered.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Doctor Gousul Islam, 77, Jailed for Sex Crimes

A 77-year-old doctor who sexually abused patients over three decades has been jailed for 11 years.

Gousul Islam, of Station Road, Hatfield, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire, denied attacking patients, a jury at Sheffield Crown Court heard. But he was convicted of offences on patients ranging from teenagers to women in their late 20s. Victims had visited the doctor with minor ailments, but were then indecently assaulted…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: EDL to Stage Demo Against Islamic School Plans for Byker Grove Building

THE English Defence League (EDL) is to stage a demo in Newcastle after the city council approved plans to turn the Byker Grove building into an Islamic school. The protest has been criticised by interfaith and anti-fascist groups, with plans already under way for a counter-demonstration. The rally, the first to be organised in Newcastle by the organisation since 2010, has been approved on a national level and will take place in May next year, according to an EDL regional spokesman. Last week, Newcastle City Council gave permission to convert Benwell Towers — formerly used by the BBC to film Byker Grove — into a fee-paying Islamic school…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Free Press Under Threat

by Samuel Westrop

Within Europe, British newspapers have fought hard to be free. In the early 19th Century, Napoleon — unable to trust his own newspapers, used as propaganda pieces, to provide him with accurate news — was forced to read the British newspapers to find out the latest news of his war with the British…

As always, the devil is in the details. Perhaps the most worrying part of the judge’s proposals is the suggestion that the new regulator must consider the appeals of “third-party groups.” In other words, pressure groups might be able to influence the stance that newspapers take on a particular issue by appealing to the statutory regulator. Andrew Gilligan, a journalist for the Daily Telegraph has noted that one contributor during the course of the Leveson inquiry was iEngage, an Islamist group which has consistently defended fundamentalist anti-Semitic organizations such as the Islamic Forum of Europe, a branch of the Bangladeshi terror group Jamaat-e-Islami. iEngage has demanded that the media must stop its “Islamophobic” reporting of the Muslim community. In reality, iEngage is seeking to use the new regulatory body to silence critics of Islamism, including anti-Islamist Muslims. Leveson argues that these “representative bodies are likely to be far better placed to monitor, and complain about, inaccuracies.” Do we really want politicized groups such as iEngage to dictate the sensitivities of others to the press?


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslims Call for Changes Over Port Terror Searches

Muslims in Greater Manchester are calling for changes to the Terrorism Act which allows the authorities to stop and search passengers at airports and ports. A letter signed by several organisations has been sent to the Home Office highlighting concerns over religious profiling at airports. Representatives from mosques and Cage Prisoners, the human rights organisation with a focus on Islam, claim some people are detained for up to nine hours and sometimes miss their flights despite never being charged with any terrorism-related offences…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Parents’ Fury as Christian Primary School Bans Christmas Nativity Play From the Timetable

Parents have renamed a Christian primary school the ‘Scrooge Academy’ after it banned Christmas from the timetable.

Oasis Academy has decided there will be no nativity play for its pupils because of its poor academic performance.

The school in Nunsthorpe, near Grimsby, whose students are aged four to 11, says the festivities would interrupt pupil learning as it strives to improve achievements in maths and English.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Peter Bone MP: Religious Institutions Should Not be Under Attack From the Charity Commission

Peter Bone is the Member of Parliament for Wellingborough. Follow Peter on Twitter

The issue of the state interfering with religion has raised its ugly head once more. It is not the redefinition of marriage or interfering with the ability of the Church of England to run its own affairs. No it is a much more dangerous issue that threatens not just the Christian Church but all recognised religious groups in this country, the dwindling recognition by the state that religious institutions are a public benefit and should be considered charities.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Traditional Tories Are Defecting to UKIP in Droves

by Patrick O’Flynn

CREATING a successful new party in the British political system is fearsomely hard. Not even the combined talents and contacts books of Roy Jenkins, David Owen and Shirley Williams could in the end achieve lift off for the SDP in the Eighties.

So it is perhaps no wonder that the political class has been very slow to take seriously the rise of a still small right-ofcentre party that has been routinely written off as peopled by cranks and gadflies, fruitcakes and “closet racists”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Vandals and Hanoverians

by Christopher Catling

The purpose of Hadrian’s Wall (begun in AD 122) is the subject of endless debate among archaeologists. Was it built to keep people in or out, to police those living south of the border or to the north, as an impermeable barrier or as a permeable customs zone? Perhaps it was primarily an imperial grand projet, commemorating the inclusion of Britannia within the Roman Empire and marking the Empire’s northernmost limits. The idea that the Wall was a barrier between civilization and barbarism originates with Gildas, according to Richard Hingley’s new book, Hadrian’s Wall: A life, which looks at the story of the monument from the point at which other books on the Wall usually finish: that is, with the departure of the Romans from Britain in the late fourth century, which left the Wall technically redundant.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Nation Arrests Aqim ‘Number Two’

Algiers — Algeria strikes another serious blow to al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) suffered another major blow in Algeria on Sunday (December 16th) when its number two boss and main spokesman was captured near Bouira. The arrest of Salah Gasmi, alias Salah Abou Mohamed, further weakens the leadership of the terrorist group, which is coming under heavy pressure from security forces and is hiding to limit its losses…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Libya: US Inquiry Into Benghazi Mission Attack Criticises ‘Grossly Inadequate’ Security

A long-awaited inquiry into a deadly militant attack on the US mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi has strongly criticised State Department security arrangements there as “grossly inadequate.”

Secretary of state Hillary Clinton said she would accept all of the recommendations from the investigation and would be sending hundreds of marines to bolster security at US missions around the world. The investigation found there had been “no immediate, specific” intelligence about a threat against the mission, which was overrun by dozens of heavily armed militants on September 11 who killed four Americans. “Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place,” the damning report said. The Accountability Review Board (ARB) also concluded “there was no protest prior to the attacks, which were unanticipated in their scale and intensity.” The attack has become fiercely politicised, with Republicans blaming the US administration for security failings as well as a possible cover-up over Al-Qaeda’s role…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Arab Winter Update

by Douglas Murray

Rachid al-Ghannouchi is a great British success story. This Muslim Brotherhood leader sought asylum in Britain in 1989 and stayed here throughout the reign of Tunisian dictator President Ben Ali. After the recent Tunisian revolution Ghannouchi returned to his native land, bringing with him the values of tolerance and democracy he learned in the UK. Whoops — that last part is wrong. Since returning to Tunisia this Brotherhood leader and leading Hamas fan, has — through his leadership of the major Brotherhood party in the coalition — helped to lead Tunisia down the road of Islamic fascism…

[Reader comment by Ay on 18 December 2012]

yeah yeah openness of arab youth is our everything.

in everyday car bombs in iraq

in mass murder, beheadings in syria

in genocides in sudan

in slave-owning in saudi arabia

in terrorism against Israel

in riots in Egypt

in gang violence in Marseille and Paris

in rapes in Denmark, Sweden and Norway

they are very open to the use of laptops and iphones for fast communication, to watch internet porn, and to learn how to connect electronic components of IED.

progresssive youth, our future. hail them for this openness.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

British Military Leader Outlines Closer Engagement With Gulf, Arab, African Nations

LONDON, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) — The professional head of the British military on Tuesday outlined a future for the country’s armed forces that included a much-enhanced engagement with African, Gulf and Arabian peninsula states. Britain’s Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards said in his annual keynote address at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a leading military think-tank in London, that plans drawn up this summer would involve the creation of a Tri-service Joint Expeditionary Force. He explained, “Britain’s Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) will be capable of projecting power with global effect and influence.”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

David Cameron and Barack Obama Agree Afghan Withdrawal Plan

David Cameron and Barack Obama last night agreed an Afghan withdrawal plan that will bring almost 4,000 British troops home next year.

The Prime Minister and the US President agreed in a video conference call “to bring troops home next year”, Downing Street said. Sources said the withdrawal will see almost half of Britain’s 9,000 troops brought back from Afghanistan next year. Mr Cameron’s determination to push ahead with a major withdrawal next year could raise tensions with British commanders, who have urged a more cautious approach. Mr Cameron has set a deadline of the end of 2014 for Britain’s combat operations in Afghanistan to be concluded. Potential timetables for next year’s withdrawal were discussed by senior ministers and generals at the National Security Committee yesterday…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Death Penalty Sought for US Soldier Accused of Killing Afghan Villagers

The US Army will seek the death penalty for the American soldier accused of killing 16 villagers in southern Afghanistan in March.

[Return to headlines]

India: Gang Rape in New Delhi, Victim in Critical Condition

The girl, aged 23, is attached to a respirator with serious facial and abdominal injuries. The violence took place on board a bus. Six people arrested, but the rapists could be seven. The capital of India has the highest number of rapes in the country, in 2012 alone there were 582.

New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) — The debate on the safety of women in India has been rekindled, after a gang rape that took place on the evening of December 16 last on a bus in New Delhi. The victim, a girl of 23, was admitted to Safdarjung Hospital in critical condition. The girl, who suffered injuries to her face and serious abdominal injuries, is attached to a respirator. A friend of hers, attacked in an attempt to defend her, has already been discharged from hospital. Meanwhile, the police have arrested six people suspected of being involved in the violence, even if the rapists could be seven. The driver is also among those detained. The young man is a student of physiotherapy.

The girl and her friend — whose identity the police have not revealed — got on the bus at 21:30 (local time), after being to the cinema. According to the Deputy Commissioner of Police Chhaya Sharma, four men made lewd comments about the young woman and picked an argument with her friend. The men beat the boy with iron bars and stripped him. They then took the girl, beat her and pushed her into the driver’s cabin, where the brutal violence took place. An hour later, the attackers threw the couple out of the bus, who were found unconscious and bleeding by the security guard on a construction site.

The chief minister of the state, Sheila Dikshit, called the event a “shocking case and out of the norm.” The woman said that “the guilty will not enjoy security in any circumstances,” because “we need a exemplary punishment.” According to preliminary police report, the driver and the cleaner were accomplices of the four rapists.

New Delhi, India’s capital and seat of the central government, has the dubious distinction of being one of the cities with the highest number of rapes. Only last year, the police recorded 582 cases.

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

India: Thousands of Shia Muslims in Lucknow India Stage Rally Against Shia Genocide in Pakistan

Lucknow, India (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Chanting anti-Pakistan slogans, thousands of Shia Muslims today staged a demonstration here against what they called ongoing genocide of members of their community in the neighbouring country, Pakistan. Protesters chanted slogans against Pakistan government and army for their failure to stop target killing of and bomb attacks on Shia Muslims of Pakistan by ISI-sponsored Takfiri (excommunicator) Deobandi terrorists. According to an estimate, more than 20,000 Shia Muslims have been killed by Deobandi militants in Pakistan in the last few decades…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Taliban War Against Polio: Two More Volunteers Wounded, After Those Slain Yesterday

The attacks against anti-polio vaccination volunteers took place in Peshawar, Nowshera and Charsadda. Yesterday, five women were killed in Karachi and Peshawar, two days ago, a man in Karachi. For months, the Taliban have threatened to stop the vaccinations in protest against the assaults of U.S. drones.

Peshawar (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Three groups of anti-polio volunteers were attacked by assailants in motion in Peshawar, Nowshera and Charsadda in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (North-west Pakistan), near the Afghan border. One of the volunteers was wounded in Peshawar, in Charsadda instead a passer-by was injured, but the volunteers unharmed. Yesterday, five people involved in the vaccination campaign were killed in Karachi and Peshawar. The authors of these attacks are unknown, but it is almost certain that they are related to the Taliban who for months have declared war against the anti-polio vaccination. For months, the Islamist guerrillas threatened to block the health campaign to protest against the assaults of U.S. drones.

Pakistan is one of three countries in the world — along with Afghanistan and Nigeria — where polio is endemic. In the country thousands of parents refuse to vaccinate their children against polio under the pressure from imams and Islamic radicals.

The killings yesterday, the bloodiest to date, took place in Karachi and Peshawar. All of the victims were women. In Karachi, the volunteers were targeted as they went door to door to offer the vaccine. The attacks took place in two different neighborhoods, in Orangi Town and Baldia Town a short distance from each other. The police assumed that they were organized by the same group.

Yesterday, another woman, 18 year-old Amna, also a member of the anti-polio campaign, was killed in the village of Mathra, near Peshawar. The day before, in Karachi, a man who worked for the World Health Organization was killed.

Government authorities have promised that these attacks will not stop the anti-polio campaign.

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

Pakistan: Polio Campaign Hit by Fresh Attacks

Gunmen in Pakistan have mounted fresh attacks on health workers carrying out polio vaccinations, taking the death toll to nine and prompting UNICEF and WHO to suspend work on a campaign opposed by the Taliban.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic, but efforts to stamp out the crippling disease have been hampered by resistance from the Taliban, who have banned vaccination teams from some areas. Nine people working to immunise children against the highly infectious disease have been shot dead in Pakistan since the start of a three-day UN-backed nationwide vaccination campaign on Monday…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Pirates Seize Indian Crew in Raid Off Nigeria

LAGOS, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) — Five Indian crew members were seized in an attack by pirates on an oil tanker off Nigeria, according to information monitored here on Wednesday.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Somalia Ready to Try Pirates on its Soil, Says Chief of Justice

The chief of Somali Supreme Court Aydiid Abdullahi Ilka Hanaf has declared that Somali pirates seized by international would be tried inside the country. In an exclusive interview with Shabelle media, Ilka hanaf said that the justice system in Somalia can handle now the trails of Somali pirates and that it is not needed to take pirates to foreign countries to face justice there…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Africa: Behold, The Zuma Moment!

By Sibusiso Tshabalala

It was no secret going into today’s announcement plenary that Zuma’s slate would wipe the floor. With National Chaplain Mehana chanting ‘Viva God’, the Zuma Moment was ushered in. Song, dance and even prayer accompanied Zuma’s victory in the ANC…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Argentina Seeks Arrest of Italian Priest for Rights Abuses

Priest accused of crimes against humanity

(ANSA) — Parma, December 17 — An Italian priest is being sought for crimes against humanity in Argentina, where he is accused of involvement with the brutal military dictatorship of the 1970s, a newspaper reported Monday.

According to Corriere della Sera, federal prosecutors in San Rafael, Argentina have asked for the arrest of Father Franco Reverberi, who is now living in the province of Parma in north-central Italy.

The priest’s name appeared recently on an Interpol list of suspects accused of human rights violations during the rule of Jorge Rafael Videla, who was president of Argentina from 1976 to 1981. Two years ago Videla was sentenced to life in prison for the deaths of 31 prisoners following his coup d’etat and in July 2012 he received an additional 50-year prison sentence for the systematic kidnapping of children during his rule.

According to reports, Reverberi witnessed the torture of dissidents under Videla, without doing anything to stop it. The allegations against him say that the fact a priest witnessed their suffering made the victims feel even more alone and abandoned.

Argentina has asked for the help of international police authorities to capture the priest, who is said to have heart problems.

The newspaper quoted Reverberi, now working in the parish in Sorbolo near Parma, as denying the allegations against him.

“The facts date back to 1976, while I was chaplain in 1980,” he told the newspaper.

“I am a priest, I told the truth. Do I look like someone who was with Videla torturers?”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Argentina Congress Hosts “Islam for Peace” Seminar

Muslims sense of belonging in Argentina, ratifying their right and proud to be Argentine citizens, challenges the sense of injustice that the Muslim community faces, unjustly, in the 21st century-world. Lower House in Buenos Aires has hosted the seminar “Islam for peace” where government officials -led by lawmaker and Lower House Chairman Julian Dominguez, the Worship Secretary Ambassador Guillermo Oliveri and the Secretary General of the Islamic Center of the Republic of Argentina (CIRA) Sumer Noufouri-, highlighted the “significant” progress made in religious integration matters over the past decade.

The South American country is home to 400,000 Muslims, one of the largest communities in the region after Brazil. Thanks to Argentina´s new legislation, promoted by administration of president Cristina Fernandez last year, Muslim women´s right to wear their hijab not only in public places but also in their ID cards has been enforced, no longer forced to choose between their faith and restrictive cultural dogmas, defying pro-discrimination practices fueled by so called “First World Nations”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Greece: New Tragedy in the Aegean Sea, 21 Dead

Boat from Turkey sinks

(ANSAmed) — Athens — In the umpteenth migration tragedy in the western Aegean Sea, a boat carrying 28 people, including 26 would-be immigrants between 20 and 45 of Afghan nationality and two Turkish sailors, capsized due to poor weather conditions and overcrowding, and sank off the Greek island of Lesvos, or Mytilini.

Between Saturday and Sunday the Greek Coast Guard found 21 bodies and a survivor on a beach on the island. Six people are still missing, including the two Turkish nationals. If the 27 victims — including two women and two children — were to be confirmed, this would be the most tragic shipwreck in the Aegean in the last few years. In a similar tragedy in 2009, 22 people including seven women and a child, died in a shipwreck. Their boat had also left from Turkey.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tony Blair: Immigration Has Been Good for Britain

Tony Blair has defended his immigration policies warning that people who come to Britain have played a positive role and they should not be made a “scapegoat for our problems”.

The former Prime Minister suggested that the debate over immigration should be “handled with care” as he indicated it could descend into racism and nationalism. He insisted that he was not “out of touch” with the concerns of ordinary Britons and said, “the Polish community contributes a lot to this country”. In a rare address to journalists in Parliament, Mr Blair delivered the warning just days after Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, claimed that his party had previously done “too little” to address the impacts of mass immigration. However, the former Prime Minister declined to apologise for his policies and launched a staunch defence of the benefits of immigration. “Of course it has to be controlled, and illegal immigration has to be tackled head on. It’s important that we do that,” he said. “But overall I would like to say that I think immigration has been good for Britain and most immigrants have assimilated well. So don’t make them a scapegoat for our problems.”…

[Reader comment by maria21 on 19 December 2012 at 3:24 am.]

Blair (and Cameron) has allowed British towns and cities to be seized by Muslims and Westminster to be seized by the EU. Britain has been effectively invaded and captured and the only political parties offering strategies to combat this invasion are UKIP and the BNP — yet what remains of the indigenous British people continue to vote for those who have engineered the rape of the country. The bankers (mostly foreigners) also saw that the British, stupefied by the BBC/Guardian racist, political correctness were ripe for exploitation — who in their right minds would spend £20 billion on an event celebrating one of the worst health services in the civilised world worshipping a Somalian who doesn’t even live in their country — and set about stealing everything they had.

The British must wake up fast, before it is too late … Or are we all waiting for Lord Coe’s Olympic “legacy” to save us?

[Reader comment by welshtruth on 18 December 2012 at 11:26 am.]

Disgusting nauseating hypocrite who has pemanently ruined our culture and nation by opening our borders to the scum of the world. With the Islamics in particularly growing rapidly the potential for civil strife is massive in the future — and this cretin is one of the main culprits.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Tactical Missal

by Rupert Shortt

This year’s “Vatileaks” drama, which led to the conviction of the Pope’s former butler for stealing thousands of classified documents from his employer, has been a conspiracy theorists’ dream. But the kernel of news unearthed by the story — that Rome has more than its fair share of cliques and careerists — is hardly fresh. Meanwhile, a less eye-catching but far more momentous church scandal has unfolded out of view. Mainstream newspapers have barely noticed it. I refer to the imposition of a new translation of the Mass across the entire English-speaking world. It is a work with some virtues but profound flaws…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

US Study Endorses Islam as Fastest Growing Religion, Popular in Youth

Lucknow, India (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Washington: A recent study by a US forum has endorsed that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and extremely popular in youth who are enthusiastic and curious to know the facts and conduct research to reach the truth. According to the recent study conducted by the Washington-based Pew Forum, Islam, the second largest religion in the world, is rapidly increasing across the globe and has the lowest median age as half of the Muslims are 23-year-old or younger, compared to 28 for the whole world population…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

When the balloon finally does go up in Britain then I don't fancy Tony Blair's chances. The man is such a narcissitic egoist that he seems to be incapable of realising that 99% of the indigenous (at least) population utterly loathe him and his statements are 100% out of touch with their views. I have a terrible feeling that he might just fall victim to the lynch mob when the New World Order collapses but only if the country is so bankrupt by then that it can no longer use our money to provide him with 24 hour protection.

As for the drift from the Conservatives to UKIP, I think it was Cameron who called UKIP closet racists. It seems that an awful lot of former Conservatives therefore are coming out of the closet now. The One World political establishment are determined to keep the nationalist (Blair) and racist (Cameron) British public under their thumb but it is all going horribly wrong for them, poor things. Next stop is to turn the troops on us I suppose in true Marxist fashion.