Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121228

Financial Crisis
»46,000 Greeks Under Investigation for Pension Scams
»Italy: ‘Households Face 1,500-Euro Expense Rise in 2013’
»Obama ‘Optimistic’ On Two-Party Deal; Will Press Vote in Senate Without it
»Fast and Furious
»Losing Our Sons
»Man Pushed to His Death on New York Subway
»Record 74 Percent of Americans Oppose Arms Ban
»Regulating the Militia
»Savage Behavior
»The Sharia Threat to America
»Supreme Court Ruling on Niqab Smacked of Cowardice
Europe and the EU
»Berlusconi Says Could Tour Italy if TV Appearances Limited
»Dutch Right-Wing Politician Puts “Anti-Islam Policy Priority in 2013”
»Edvard Munch at Pains to Win Favour in Norway
»Ex-CIA Spy: Watch Out for 1/11, 2/11, 3/11
»Greece: Athens — The EU Capital City Without a Mosque
»Italy: State Broadcaster RAI to Increase Annual Fee by 1.50 Euros
»Italy: Taxi Drivers in Milan Rally Around Destitute Businessman
»Sweden: Dental Drill Fell Into Patient’s Lung
»Sweden: Police Baffled After 69 Cows Disappear
»UK: ‘Highly Respected’ Organist, 68, Dies Days After Brutal Attack as He Walked to Church to Play at Christmas Eve Midnight Mass
»UK: Disregard Muslims They’re All Labour Supporters on Benefits, Peer Tells Tories
»UK: Fury as Bury Market Boss Tells Halal Curry Maker: Sorry, You Can’t Have a Stall
»UK: Henry G Manson Asks: Can Cameron Win Ehtnic Minority Votes With Candidates Alone?
»UK: Most Tories Think Labour Will Win in 2015
»UK: Murderers and Drug Dealer to Get IVF in Prison and You’ll be Paying! Criminals Using European Human Rights Laws to Start Families at Taxpayers’ Expense
»UK: Nearly 1,000 Doctors Could Still be Practicing Despite Convictions for Possessing Child Porn and Drug Trafficking
»UK: Pig’s Head Left Outside Centre Used by Muslims
»UK: Shocking Moment Motorist, 62, Is Ambushed and Pistol-Whipped by Pair of Masked Robbers for Keys to His Range Rover
»UK: That Was Mac’s Year That Was: From the Bradley Wiggins Effect to Abu Hamza and Leveson, The Mail’s Cartoonist Picks His 2012 Favourites
North Africa
»Egyptian Opposition Leaders Under Investigation for ‘Plot to Topple Morsi’
»Egypt: Rights Groups Denounce Fatwa Banning Congratulation of Christians
»Libya: How Obama’s Policies Led to Benghazigate
»The Not-So-Bad Constitution of Egypt
Israel and the Palestinians
»Why is the US Building a Secret $100 Million Underground Facility Outside Tel Aviv?
Middle East
»Turkish Courage Award to 13-Yr Old Palestinian Girl
»Washington’s Misplaced Support for Turkey’s Erdogan
South Asia
»Afghan Bombing Victims Sue German Government
»Mansfield Man Killed in Afghanistan
Far East
»1 Killed, 2 Injured in S. Philippine Grenade Attack
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Central African Republic Appeals for French Help to Halt Rebel Advance
»Gambia: Imam Baba Leigh Still in Detention …
»MCC Selects Countries Eligible for New Programs
»Nigeria: Army Kills 5 Gunmen, Discovers Bomb Factory in Kaduna
»Owning a Dog ‘Is Not African’, Declares Jacob Zuma: Racism Row After South African President Says Black People With Pets Are Just Copying White Culture
»South Africa: Zuma Comments Cause Canine Chaos
Culture Wars
»Italy: Femicide Row Priest Says Not Quitting But Time Off
»UK: And So it Goes?

Financial Crisis

46,000 Greeks Under Investigation for Pension Scams

Swindlers cost Greek taxpayers 320 million euros a year

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 27 — Almost 46,000 Greek citizens are under investigation for alleged pension fraud, Labor Minister Yannis Vroutsis made known Thursday.

The government in October 2011 uncovered massive fraud at the Greek social security fund (IKA), which over the preceding decade had paid out 7-8 billion euros in false pensions to relatives of 60,000 deceased retirees.

“We will get our money back, down to the last cent,” promised then IKA Director Rovertos Spyropoulos, and the time of reckoning has come for the 45,997 names on the government’s list of alleged scam artists.

Swindlers cost Greek taxpayers an estimated 320 million euros a year, with disability and farm pension fraud as the most prevalent strategies for ripping the government off.

Perhaps the most notorious example is the Ionian island of Zakynthos, where the government in August 2011 noticed it was paying out 6.4 million euros a year in scam disability payments to 700 people, or 2% of the population: they said they were born blind, earning Zakynthos the nickname of “Island of the Blind”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Households Face 1,500-Euro Expense Rise in 2013’

‘Unsustainable’ wave of hikes say consumers

(ANSA) — Rome, December 27 — Italian households will see their expenses rise by a whopping 1,500 euros each in 2013, consumer groups said Thursday.

Hikes in train tickets, car insurance, household bills, bank and postal charges, waste-disposal levies and the new IMU property tax will be “unsustainable” for the countless households already struggling to make ends meet, said Adusbef and Federconsumatori.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Obama ‘Optimistic’ On Two-Party Deal; Will Press Vote in Senate Without it

President Obama said Friday evening that progress was made in make-or-break talks on the fiscal crisis and pronounced himself cautiously “optimistic,” as Senate leaders worked furiously toward an agreement to avert the worst of the economic punch from landing Jan. 1.

But after a one-hour meeting with Congressional leaders at the White House, Mr. Obama warned that if the two sides don’t agree on a bill, he will urge the Democratic-controlled Senate to put forward a measure anyway, in essence daring Republicans in the House and Senate to block a floor vote on tax cuts.

“I believe such proposals could pass both houses with a bipartisa n majority as long as both leaders will allow it to come to a vote,” Mr. Obama said. “If members want to vote no, they can.”

[Return to headlines]


Fast and Furious

The U.S. government’s botched “Fast and Furious” gunwalking operation is leaving a deadly legacy in Mexico where weapons related to the operation regularly show up at crime scenes. U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley said two guns linked to the operation were found last month after a gun battle between Sinaloa drug cartel members and the Mexican military.

“Fast and Furious” was an ATF operation based in Phoenix that allowed gunwalking, in which federal law enforcement agents allowed suspected criminals to buy weapons, with the hopes they would eventually lead them to Mexican drug leaders.

Some 2,000 weapons were lost under “Fast and Furious” and not one seizure was made, nor were any drug leaders arrested, officials said. The weapons are believed to still be moving back and forth across the U.S.-Mexican border and will likely show up at crime scenes for years, the Los Angeles Times reported.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Losing Our Sons

by Bruce Bawer

It is, in my view, the defining exchange of our time. It took place, not inappropriately, on Pearl Harbor Day of 2011, at one of the joint House-Senate hearings called by New York Congressman Peter King and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman to examine the radicalization of American Muslims. As seen in the You Tube video, Congressman Dan Lungren of California poses a simple, straightforward question to a witness, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Stockton. “Secretary Stockton,” he asks, “are we at war with violent Islamist extremism?”…

It’s a simple concept: know your enemy. After 9/11 there should have been a major educational effort to explain to American citizens the motives behind the attacks — to help them, just for starters, to understand jihad and its centrality to Islam. Instead what was set in motion under Bush, and intensified under Obama, was a comprehensive disinformation effort — an attempt to whitewash Islam, and to brand as Islamophobes all those who dare to speak the truth about it. As a result of this cowardice, two American fathers lost their sons — one of them transformed into a jihadist by hooligans who should never have been allowed into the country, and the other gunned down in an act of terrorism that officials high and low, trained in the post-9/11 Newspeak, refuse to call by its real name. In presenting its moving account of these sons and fathers, the film is, of course, also telling the story of America today — and of how our leaders’ Big Lie, perpetrated in the name of a misbegotten sensitivity, not only caused the death of Andy Long, but is, right before our eyes, strangling the very freedoms he signed up to defend.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Man Pushed to His Death on New York Subway

A woman has pushed a man to his death in front of a subway train, the second time this month someone has been killed in this way.

The man, who has not been named, was standing on the elevated platform of a 7 train in the borough of Queens at about 8pm when he was pushed by the woman, who witnesses said had been following him closely and mumbling to herself, New York Police Department chief spokesman Paul Browne said. It didn’t appear the man noticed her before he was shoved onto the tracks, police said. The woman fled, and police were searching for her. She was described as Hispanic, in her 20s, heavyset and about 5ft 5in…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Record 74 Percent of Americans Oppose Arms Ban

(AGI) Washington — A record 74 percent of Americans are firmly opposed to a ban on guns or carrying arms.

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

Regulating the Militia

The Second Amendment is about protecting ourselves from the state.

My friend Brett Joshpe has published an uncharacteristically soft-headed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle arguing that in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook, conservatives and Republicans should support what he calls “sensible” gun-control laws. It begins with a subtext of self-congratulation (“As a conservative and a Republican, I can no longer remain silent . . . Some will consider it heresy,” etc.), casts aspersions of intellectual dishonesty (arguments for preserving our traditional rights are “disingenuous”), advances into ex homine (noting he has family in Sandy Hook, as though that confers special status on his preferences), fundamentally misunderstands the argument for the right to keep and bear arms, deputizes the electorate, and cites the presence of teddy bears as evidence for his case.

Brett, like practically every other person seeking to diminish our constitutional rights, either does not understand the purpose of the Second Amendment or refuses to address it, writing, “Gun advocates will be hard-pressed to explain why the average American citizen needs an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine other than for recreational purposes.” The answer to this question is straightforward: The purpose of having citizens armed with paramilitary weapons is to allow them to engage in paramilitary actions. The Second Amendment is not about Bambi and burglars — whatever a well-regulated militia is, it is not a hunting party or a sport-clays club. It is remarkable to me that any educated person — let alone a Harvard Law graduate — believes that the second item on the Bill of Rights is a constitutional guarantee of enjoying a recreational activity.

There is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment for military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny. Consider the words of Supreme Court justice Joseph Story — who was, it bears noting, appointed to the Court by the guy who wrote the Constitution:…

[Return to headlines]

Savage Behavior

Gun ban (the real reason) — Michael Savage and the link between the First and Second Amendment

Have you noticed that anyone who has recently voiced support for an American’s Second Amendment rights has been systematically vilified by those in opposition, such that it is virtually impossible to have an honest, intelligent conversation about the issue? This is not an accident, but an agenda. It is an agenda of vilification, of the planned prohibition of not only “scary guns,” but of “scary talk.” It is characterizing vocal resistance to a government agenda as a prohibited behavior. It is forcing tolerance to fit a very specific, government sanctioned ideology, beyond which becomes not only an exhibit of intolerance, but of an intent intolerable to the government.

The issue of banning weapons is only the visible part of the magic act where the weapons are only the props. The real act is taking place behind the smoke onstage, where a legitimate and rational opinion that happens to be at odds with the government’s agenda is the real target. It is the plight of Dr. Michael Savage in living color.

As the rights bestowed upon Americans by the First and Second Amendments to the U.S. Constitution are inextricably linked, the government is not only intending to prohibit our possession of certain weapons, but of certain opinions. This is not merely an attack on our Second Amendment rights, but a method to take away our ability to exercise those granted to us by the First Amendment. It is YOU they are after, if your opinions don’t conform to their purpose.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Sharia Threat to America

by Fred Grandy

There is a great deal of misinformation circulating with regard to sharia and the threat it poses to America and Western Civilization. Some misinformed observers and members of the Muslim Brotherhood liken concerns over sharia to prejudice and bigotry, but the facts say otherwise. Terrorism experts in the law enforcement, military and intelligence communities have cited sharia as the Jihadists’ enemy threat doctrine in an intensive study called “Shariah: The Threat to America,” a scholarly, 352-page book based on authoritative sources of sharia, or Islamic law. While sharia does include “prayer and fasting” and “worship,” sharia is also an all-encompassing legal and political code that covers aspects of life that have nothing to do with religion. Perhaps most importantly, unlike other forms of religious law, such as canon law and Jewish law, sharia is the only form of religious law extant that is also meant to apply to people of other faiths, i.e. non-Muslims. The threat from sharia has nothing to do with prejudice or bigotry. The threat from sharia is real and multifaceted…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Supreme Court Ruling on Niqab Smacked of Cowardice

TORONTO — Depending on one’s viewpoint, the Supreme Court’s decision on veiled women testifying in court was a wise compromise — or something of a disaster.

It wasn’t quite a cop-out, but it smacked of cowardice.

Sending the issue of whether face covering should be acceptable in Canadian courts back to the discretion of trial judges hearing cases seems a sorry decision by the Supremes.

Two of the nine Supremes — Justices Louis LeBel and Marshall Rothstein — got it right when they opined that the niqab violates the principle of fair and open trials, where witnesses’ faces are in the open and not hidden behind veils.

Four others, led by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, felt that the religious “sincerity” of the niqab wearer should be taken into account by the trial judge hearing the case, and he can decide if the veil should be worn.

Good Lord!

What on earth does “religion” or “sincerity” have to do with “justice?”

The niqab — or veil, or burka — has nothing to do with religion. It is a cultural adaptation at best, a cultural affectation at worst.

Common sense dictates that a witness or central figure in a court case should not be masked, or invisible to the court.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Berlusconi Says Could Tour Italy if TV Appearances Limited

Former premier speaks to regional Alto Adige channel

(ANSA) — Bolzano, December 28 — Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi said he could take to the roads of Italy to seek direct contact with his potential electorate in the lead-up to the February general elections if he is forced to reduce the number of his television appearances. “I am concentrating on my television appearances”, Berlusconi said. “If these are reduced to a small number of transmissions, I think I will make a small tour of Italy”. Berlusconi made the comments during a phone interview with a journalist from Tca-Alto Adige television on whether he planned to visit the Alto Adige region during his electoral campaign. Earlier this month Italian state broadcaster RAI said it had granted Berlusconi airwave space on a series of channels in the past few days, and that it would be offering similar media exposure to other political candidates for the upcoming elections. RAI and other Italian broadcasters are committed to offering the most important political parties in the nation relatively equal visibility under the so-called “Par Condicio” or “Fairness” (equal time) rule.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Dutch Right-Wing Politician Puts “Anti-Islam Policy Priority in 2013”

THE HAGUE, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) — Dutch politician Geert Wilders, leader of the right wing populist Party of Freedom PVV, said on Thursday that anti-Islam policy will be his top priority in the forthcoming year, local media reported. “Next to all things about Europe and the economic situation the people will hear from our resistance against the ‘Islamization’ of the Netherlands,” Wilders told Dutch TV channel NOS in an interview. “I will intensify this battle, both in the Netherlands, but also internationally from Australia to America to Switzerland, or anywhere else,” he added. He said the fight was a life mission for him. He also noted a “Moroccan problem,” referring to the recent death of a soccer linesman who was attacked by some young people of Moroccan origin, and one of Antillean descent.

In 2010 the PVV won 24 seats in the Dutch parliament, partly as a result of its anti-Islamic rhetoric. As a supporting party the PVV contributed the minority cabinet of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte which fell in April 2012, after Wilders quit negotiations on austerity measures. In the parliamentary elections held in September 2012, PVV saw its seats reduced to 15.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Edvard Munch at Pains to Win Favour in Norway

He may be acclaimed in the art world and coveted by thieves but Edvard Munch is starved of recognition in his native Norway, where squabbles have delayed a new museum worthy of his oeuvre.

Next year will mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the expressionist master, who painted the now iconic “The Scream”. But the anniversary is clouded by the city of Oslo’s inability to provide a proper setting for the art gems the painter left in his will.

Munch, who died in 1944, bequeathed an enormous collection to the Norwegian capital, including 1,100 paintings, 3,000 drawings and 18,000 etchings.

But the current Munch Museum, constructed cheaply after World War II in a rather rundown Oslo neighbourhood, does not do justice to the priceless trove.

“It’s time to have something more modern that would enable us to better welcome the public and exhibit Munch’s work from other perspectives, in broader contexts, both his and ours,” museum director Stein Olav Henrichsen said.

While all agree on the need for a better museum, there are divisions over where to place it.

Oslo’s city council agreed in 2008 to erect a building near the new, futuristic opera house on the shores of the Oslo fjord, but those plans were scrapped three years later when the populist right suddenly withdrew its support without a concrete explanation.

The move was a shock and an embarrassment: a Spanish architecture firm had already been hired and had drawn up plans for Lambda, a super-modern leaning glass building, to great expense.

The issue has been at a standstill ever since, and Oslo has been unable to come to an agreement on any of the current options.

Those include a return to the Spanish concept; or a move to the ageing main building of the National Gallery downtown; or perhaps a total renovation of the museum’s current location just outside the city centre. All are estimated to cost around 1.6 billion kroner ($285 million).

Failure to reach agreement could be interpreted as a Norwegian cold shoulder to the country’s most famous artist, in sharp contrast to his huge international appeal.

A million people recently visited a Munch exhibit that toured Paris, Frankfurt and London. And one of the four versions of “The Scream” — the only one in private hands — was sold this year at a New York auction for the record sum of $119.9 million.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ex-CIA Spy: Watch Out for 1/11, 2/11, 3/11

Expert warns of Iran, al-Qaida teaming up for massive attacks

One of the absolute journalistic treasures WND brings you exclusively are investigative reports from Reza Kahlili, former CIA operative as a spy in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Kahlili, a pseudonym to protect his identity, is a counterterrorism expert and currently serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, an advisory board authorized by Congress. He is the author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray.”

Here’s part of his most recent exclusive report in WND:

Al-Qaida is teaming up with Iran to stage massive terror attacks on French and German targets in the next three months, according to an inside source.

Those targets include French Socialist Party headquarters, commerce centers and the Paris Metro rapid transit system…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Greece: Athens — The EU Capital City Without a Mosque

At Friday prayers and across Athens, Muslims gather in underground, cramped prayer rooms.

The makeshift facilities are illegal but this huge community faces no other option. Athens, a metropolis on the edge of the Muslim world, is the only EU capital without a mosque.

Since Greece gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832, no government has allowed a mosque to be built in the city. It was seen by many as “un-Greek” — out of place in a country in which much more than 90% of the population are Orthodox Christians…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy: State Broadcaster RAI to Increase Annual Fee by 1.50 Euros

Tax deemed the most detested in Italy

(ANSA) — Rome, December 26 — State broadcaster RAI announced on Wednesday that the annual television licence fee for 2013 will be increased 1.50 euros compared to 2012, specifying that the hike was issued by the Italian economic development ministry.

Italians owning televisions are now required to pay 113.50 euros yearly for the public television subscription, to be paid by 31 January 2013.

The obligatory annual TV licence fee to help finance RAI is the country’s most unpopular tax, a survey revealed last year.

The study by the Censis research agency showed that 47.3% of Italians deemed the fee to be the tax they most detested.

RAI obtains about half of its funding from the licence fee, with the rest coming from advertising and other sources of revenue, such as sales of the overseas rights to broadcast the TV shows and films it produces.

The broadcaster is criticised on a wide variety of grounds by Italians, being blasted as too commercial by many, while others complain the schedule is not entertaining enough and there should be more Hollywood blockbusters.

Another frequent gripe is that there is too much political interference in its output, especially news shows.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Taxi Drivers in Milan Rally Around Destitute Businessman

‘Tramp’ faces 3,000-euro fine for small street sales

(ANSA) — Milan, December 28 — Taxi drivers in Milan have rallied around a former businessman who faces a 3,000 euro fine for selling cigarette lighters, small flashlights, and other items to make ends meet.

Renato Moda, who spoke over lunch at a Milan soup kitchen, says he was charged with running a business in a public area without a licence, and fined by authorities at the city’s Linate airport.

And he has no money to pay the fine.

Taxi drivers from that airport are defending the former textile salesman who lost his stores, his house, and then buried his wife.

“I had nothing more,” until he found a cell-phone charger laying on the ground, sold it to a taxi driver for three euros and began a new life as a very small-scale businessman, Moda recalled.

“At that moment, my life changed”.

At 53, Moda is a blue-eyed, handsome man who lives on the street, hanging in coffee bars to avoid the cold. “Then, on Saturday and Sunday, if I have enough money, I’m going to a hotel that costs 40 euros a night”. The taxi driver’s union says it admires Moda and mocks the police who charged him for trying to earn some wages.

“Renato is trying to rebuild his life without stealing, he is a good person for a pleasant chat and is never intrusive,” says Marco Marani, vice president of Unica FILT-CGIL.

Quipped union president Giovanni Maggiolo: “I congratulate the local police who completed this ‘bright’ operation”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Dental Drill Fell Into Patient’s Lung

A dental implant surgery turned into a nightmare as the dentist’s drill came unstuck, fell down the patient’s throat and landed in her right lung, an accident which has now been reported to the authorities.

The patient, a 60-year-old woman, was having dental implant surgery at Västmanland County Hospital in Västerås, in central Sweden.

During surgery, the drill came loose from the grip and fell into her mouth. She was quickly pulled into a sitting position, but it was too late.

“She tried to spit it out, and was made to cough, but she’d already swallowed,” the hospital’s medical chief Per Weitz told The Local.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Police Baffled After 69 Cows Disappear

Local police remain stumped after 69 cows disappeared without a trace from a farm in eastern Sweden — on the exact day they were due to be slaughtered.

Claes Roempke, the 47-year-old owner of the cattle, is also baffled at his loss, which he values at around 700,000 kronor ($107,600).

“When I opened the gate I saw the animals were gone,” Roempke told the Expressen newspaper.

“I have no idea where they’ve been taken. I hope they are alive and are ok.”

Police officers visited the farm in Stjärnhov on Thursday, but were unable to figure out how almost 70 cows were able to leave the farm without anyone noticing.

“We have the ID number of all the cows and will match them with the Jordbruksverket (the Swedish Board of Agriculture) register,” explained Thomas Tellebro of the Katrineholm police to the paper.

“But it is hard to get hold of people during the Christmas holiday period.”

While it remains unclear whether the cows were stolen or whether they simply fled, one thing is known for sure — on the day of the disappearance, Roempke was about to send them to the slaughterhouse himself.

The farmer is now urging the public to help by sending in any information to the police.

Meanwhile, the police are focusing on what may have happened to the cattle now.

“It’s not easy to get rid of cows. If someone comes with 69 cows to a typical slaughterhouse, the cows must be registered and that’s how the slaughterhouse sees where the cows came from,” Tellebro told the paper.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Highly Respected’ Organist, 68, Dies Days After Brutal Attack as He Walked to Church to Play at Christmas Eve Midnight Mass

A ‘highly respected’ organist has died after being subjected to a random brutal attack that left him with horrific head injuries.

Grandfather Alan Greaves, 68, was on his way to Midnight Mass at St Saviour’s CoE church in High Green, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, on Christmas Eve when he was set upon with an unknown weapon.

He was found by a pizza delivery worker collapsed on the pavement outside a primary school just 300 metres from the church in what appears to be a motiveless attack.

He was rushed to hospital with severe head injuries and underwent a four-hour emergency operation but has since passed away.

Police have launched a murder investigation and are appealing for witnesses to Mr Greaves’ assault.

This afternoon, detectives said they were reviewing footage from CCTV cameras in the nearby area.

They added that it was an ‘isolated incident’ and said there would be an increase in the number of officers in the area to reassure the community.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Disregard Muslims They’re All Labour Supporters on Benefits, Peer Tells Tories

Former Conservative peer Baroness Shreela Flather has sparked outrage by claiming that all British Muslims live on benefits, prompting Britain’s largest Muslim umbrella group to brand her statement “ignorant”, “irresponsible” and “offensive”. The latest in a series of anti-Muslim outbursts by the 78-year-old cross-bench peer came as she endorsed the alleged comment by the newly appointed Tory campaign chief…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Fury as Bury Market Boss Tells Halal Curry Maker: Sorry, You Can’t Have a Stall

A curry maker was left stunned after being refused a market stall — because his products were halal. Jeff Thomson, founder of Curried Away, asked for a plot on Bury’s Artisan Markets. But he was shocked when Paul Barrah, who operates the markets on behalf of the town’s council, replied to his email simply saying: “Hi, I’m sorry but my markets don’t use halal products. Regards, Paul.”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Henry G Manson Asks: Can Cameron Win Ehtnic Minority Votes With Candidates Alone?

According to reports yesterday the Conservative Party wants to increase its efforts to woo ethnic voters ahead of the election. This, alongside gay marriage, appears to be the second lesson George Osborne took from the recent US Presidential election. The Independent understands the initial aim seems to be to increase the number of minority parliamentary candidates. Conservatives currently have 11 MPs from an ethnic minority background compared to Labour who have 13. The Liberal Democrats, somewhat incredibly, have zero. It is worth reflecting on the fact that the Labour Party only has 2 more MPs than the Conservative Party despite taking pride itself on historically receiving much support from ethnic minorities and leading the way in new MPs in the late 1980s. Over the last 15 years Labour has concentrated on All Woman Shortlists in which black and Asian women have often lost. Attempts to rectify ethnic under-representation of MPs have stalled and there is a sense the party has been complacent in this area…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Most Tories Think Labour Will Win in 2015

Two-thirds of Tory members expect Ed Miliband’s Labour Party to win the next election, a poll has found.

Only 12% of Conservatives think David Cameron will secure his longed-for Commons majority when the country next goes to the polls in 2015. The findings, in a survey conducted by the website ConservativeHome, mark a gloomy end to the year for the Prime Minister, who has overseen a slump in his party’s ratings in the last 12 months. Most opinion polls now put Labour at least 10 points ahead of the Tories, with the Liberal Democrats a distant third. ConservativeHome said its findings, based on a survey of 2,500 people, showed the extent of the “pessimism” in the Tory ranks over the fortunes of the government. George Osborne’s “omnishambles” budget in March and the rise of the UK Independence Party were blamed for compounding the party’s difficulties…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Murderers and Drug Dealer to Get IVF in Prison and You’ll be Paying! Criminals Using European Human Rights Laws to Start Families at Taxpayers’ Expense

Four murderers and a drug dealer are in line for taxpayer-funded fertility treatment so that they can father a child from behind bars.

The killers are demanding to be allowed to take part in IVF treatment despite serving life sentences. Ministers may be powerless to refuse because of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights concerning the right to a private and family life.

Turning down the prisoners’ demands could lead to court action and compensation claims running into tens of thousands of pounds.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Nearly 1,000 Doctors Could Still be Practicing Despite Convictions for Possessing Child Porn and Drug Trafficking

Up to 927 doctors could still be practicing despite being convicted for crimes such as possession of indecent child images, trafficking drugs, kerb crawling and causing death by dangerous driving.

Medical chiefs claim they cannot ban all sex offenders from working because it might breach their human rights.

But patients are not being told about the disgraced physicians, surgeons and GPs, who are still working in surgeries and hospitals across the country.

Those doctors, who have not been struck off the medical register and who have been found guilty of possessing child sex images are even thought to still be treating children.

The GMC insisted it enquired about an automatic ban on doctors who are on the sex offenders’ register but ‘advice was obtained from a leading QC who concluded that an automatic bar, without exceptions, would not be compatible with human rights legislation’.

Among those practicing with a criminal record is Benjamin Obukofe, who was found guilty by a court last year of sexually assaulting two colleagues at Spire Hospital in Leicestershire, including a girl of 17.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Pig’s Head Left Outside Centre Used by Muslims

Three people arrested in Leicester where Islamic group faces protests over plans to open centre in disused Scout hut

Three people have been arrested after a pig’s head was left outside a community centre used for prayers by Muslims in an area of Leicester that has seen heightened far-right activity in recent months.

The head of the pig, which is offensive to Muslims who consider the animal unclean and are forbidden from eating pork, was discovered by worshippers from the As Salaam group at the Thurnby Lodge centre at 7.30am on Boxing Day. A 40-year-old woman and two men, aged 37 and 46, were arrested on Wednesday.

The incident came amid tension over the group’s plans to open an Islamic centre in a disused Scout hut neighbouring the community centre. There have been months of protests, including involvement by the English Defence League and the British National party, whose leader, Nick Griffin, visited the area in August.

The As Salaam imam Mohammed Lockhat told the Guardian that the incident had only increased the group’s commitment to stay: “We were shocked and saddened by this development. It’s deeply discriminating and religiously offensive … Every single day we have got people standing outside, protesters hurling insults, racist abuse. We weren’t expecting this to happen but it was only a matter of time.”…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

UK: Shocking Moment Motorist, 62, Is Ambushed and Pistol-Whipped by Pair of Masked Robbers for Keys to His Range Rover

This is the shocking moment two masked thugs brutally attacked a 62-year-old man with a gun moments after he arrived home.

The footage shows how the man, who had just driven up to his house and parked his Range Rover, was punched to the floor before being repeatedly hit with the weapon.

The balaclava-clad attackers then stole the victim’s car keys and sped off in a stolen Seat Altea but left the Range Rover behind.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: That Was Mac’s Year That Was: From the Bradley Wiggins Effect to Abu Hamza and Leveson, The Mail’s Cartoonist Picks His 2012 Favourites

It was the year that saw the Olympics come to Britain, doctors and surgeons strike, and Prince Andrew abseiling down Europe’s tallest building, the Shard. Here, the peerless Mac revisits his choice cartoon moments from 2012…

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North Africa

Egyptian Opposition Leaders Under Investigation for ‘Plot to Topple Morsi’

Egypt was facing renewed political tensions on Thursday after three leading opposition figures, including a former head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, were placed under investigation for allegedly plotting to topple Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist president.

A judge is to investigate Mohammed El-Baradei, the ex-head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, along with the former foreign minister and Arab League chairman, Amr Moussa, and Hamdeen Sabahi, a former presidential candidate, over accusations that they campaigned to unseat Mr Morsi during a recent outbreak of unrest. The announcement by the new chief prosecutor, Taalat Ibrahim Abdallah, who was appointed by Mr Morsi last month, will heighten concerns that the president and his Muslim Brotherhood backers intend to scapegoat political opponents…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Rights Groups Denounce Fatwa Banning Congratulation of Christians

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) denounces the Fatwa, Islamic opinion, issued by the Religious Commission for Rights and Reforms that bans congratulating Christians in their festivals and holidays. It is worthy to mention that the commission includes a group of Islamic legislators and scientists representing all the Islamic groups. The fatwa comes as a religion contempt crime directed against Egyptian citizens. EOHR also stated that this fatwa comes under the umbrella of the discrimination based on race and religion, which is a crime, leads to dividing the Egyptian community. This opinion is also a violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, signed on September 28, 1966. In this regard, EOHR stresses on refusal of all the forms of racial discrimination and calls for taking those who issued this fatwa to accountability.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Libya: How Obama’s Policies Led to Benghazigate

by Daniel Greenfield

It took some 22 hours for American help to arrive in Benghazi after all the t’s had been crossed and the i’s had been dotted, and the body of America’s ambassador to Libya had been dragged through the streets by “rescuers” stopping along the way to pose for cell phone pictures with his corpse. By way of comparison it takes about 16 hours for a boatload of Libyan illegal immigrants to row to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Support for the Americans under fire in Libya would have arrived sooner if a few former members of the Harvard Rowing Team had gotten in one of the many rowboats beached on the shores of Lampedusa and pushed the oars all the way to Benghazi…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The Not-So-Bad Constitution of Egypt

EGYPTIAN POLITICS over the past nine months has not been an edifying sight, but the new constitution does not spell the end of democracy in Egypt. It scares the 36 per cent of Egyptian voters who rejected it, but their fears are probably misplaced.

The revolution was made in the big cities, mostly by people who were secular in outlook. However, most Egyptian voters live in rural areas that are devout and deeply conservative, so three-quarters of the votes in the first free election went to Islamic parties…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Why is the US Building a Secret $100 Million Underground Facility Outside Tel Aviv?

Leave it to legendary Walter Pincus from the Washington Post to flesh out a Request for Proposal construction project planned for Israel called Site 911.

The oddly named project will cost up to $100 million, take more than two years to complete, and can only be built by workers from specific countries with proper security clearances. Palestinians need not apply.

When complete the well-guarded compound will have five levels buried underground and six additional outbuildings on the above grounds, within the perimeter. At about 127,000 square feet, the first three floors will house classrooms, an auditorium, and a laboratory — all wedged behind shock resistant doors — with radiation protection and massive security.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Turkish Courage Award to 13-Yr Old Palestinian Girl

Ahed Tamimi challenged Israeli soldiers in West Bank

Ahed Tamimi, 13, challenged an Israeli patrol in the West Bank last month

(ANSAmed) — RAMALLAH — Ahed Tamimi, a 13-year-old Palestinian girl who gained international notoriety for standing up to an Israeli patrol in the West Bank last month, was welcomed with great honors in Turkey, where she was awarded with ‘Handala Courage Award’ in Istanbul on Wednesday, Palestinian media reported.

Video footage of Tamimi, the daughter of a Palestinian human rights activist, showing her fists to the Israeli soldiers that had arrested her brother went around the world.

Visiting Turkey as being the guest of Basaksehir Municipality of Istanbul, Ahed Tamimi attended a series of events ahead the award ceremony and opened an art exhibition titled ‘Being children in Palestine’, Anadolu Agency reported.

Handala Courage Award, handed out by the Basaksehir Municipality, was named after the cartoon character Handala created by Palestinian artist Naji al-Ahli. Handala, a 10-year-old boy, has become one of the symbols of the struggle against Israeli occupation.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Washington’s Misplaced Support for Turkey’s Erdogan

For over a decade now, US administrations have hailed Turkey’s Islamist AKP government led by Prime Minister Erdogan as a model of democracy and “moderate” Islam. In the wake of the Arab Spring, Prime Minister Erdogan traveled to Libya, Egypt and Tunisia as an extension of American “soft power” to encourage fledgling governments to adopt the Turkish version of Islamic democracy.

The problem here is that Washington is again allowing pragmatism to trump principle. The US is apparently so eager to find alternative vehicles of political expression to combat radical Islam in the Middle East that it is willing to gloss over the gross violations of basic human rights being perpetrated in its chosen “model” for the world of Islam.

It is no secret that Erdogan and his chief advisors are ardent admirers of the Ottoman state, the vast empire ruled by the Turks for 600 years. This open admiration coupled with the government’s foreign policy strategies indicate that Erdogan’s government is seeking to regain a similar type of influence in the region. The question is which Ottoman Sultan Erdogan is trying to emulate.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Bombing Victims Sue German Government

Families of victims of a deadly air strike in Afghanistan that killed more than 90 people in 2009 have filed a multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit against Germany, a lawyer said Friday.

Karim Popal, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said the 10 lawsuits were claiming €3.3 million ($4.4 million) in damages from the German government.

“Many orphans and widows lost their providers due to this barbaric war crime, and many mothers their young children,” Popal said in a statement. “Nearly all the survivors are traumatised and are not receiving psychological treatment.”

Around 80 people are represented, according to news agency DPA.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mansfield Man Killed in Afghanistan

Mansfield resident Joseph Griffin, 49, was killed on Christmas Eve in Kabul, Afghanistan by a policewoman who reportedly shot him when she decided her plans to kill the governor, police chief or an investigator would be too difficult. Griffin once worked as a deputy with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, first from 1996 until 2000 and again in 2007. He was in Afghanistan as a military veteran advising the Afghan National Police when he was murdered by the policewoman, identified as Sgt. Nargas, a mother of four in her early 30s who joined the police force five years ago and had a clean record, according to the Associated Press…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

1 Killed, 2 Injured in S. Philippine Grenade Attack

MANILA, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) — One man died while another was arrested on Thursday night after they lobbed a grenade at the house of a town mayor in southern Philippines, police confirmed Friday. Supt. Junry Buenacosa, chief of Tacurong city police in Sultan Kudarat province, said the identity of the slain suspect was not immediately known. The other suspect, Mohammad Hadji Marandin, 39, was arrested by policemen. Police were able to corner the two suspects who tried to escape after they lobbed a grenade at the house of President Quirino town mayor Emilio Salamanca in Poblacion village. The explosion injured two people including a security escort of the town official. Police have launched an investigation into the incident to determine the motive behind the attack.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Central African Republic Appeals for French Help to Halt Rebel Advance

The President of the Central African Republic has called on France and the United States to help push back advancing rebel fighters, but the idea has been flatly rejected by the French President. The rebels, known as the Séléka alliance, took up arms early this month and are closing in on the capital, Bangui, after taking large swathes of the country’s north and east with little resistance from the army…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Gambia: Imam Baba Leigh Still in Detention …

Imam Baba Leigh, the Imam of Kanifing Layout Mosque was reported to have been arrested by two National Intelligence Agency Personnel at his compound in Kanifing on the 3 December 2012 but until now the Imam is nowhere to be found…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

MCC Selects Countries Eligible for New Programs

Washington — At its quarterly meeting December 19, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) board of directors selected Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone, Morocco and Tanzania as eligible to develop proposals for new compacts, and Guatemala as eligible for a Threshold Program. “This year’s selection decisions are a testament to the ‘MCC Effect,’ the ability of MCC to provide incentives for countries to adopt policy reforms and strengthen institutions in order to become eligible for an MCC compact,” said Daniel W. Yohannes, MCC’s chief executive officer. “Liberia, Niger and Sierra Leone have worked hard for several years to meet MCC’s rigorous eligibility standards, and the board is pleased to recognize these efforts by selecting them as eligible to develop compact proposals.”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Army Kills 5 Gunmen, Discovers Bomb Factory in Kaduna

Operatives of the Nigerian Army yesterday killed five and injured two suspected members of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Ladda’awatih Wal-Jihad, also known as Boko Haram, following a shootout between the two groups in Kaduna. And in Abuja, there were feelers that men of the Nigerian Army foiled an attempt to attack Abuja, just as gunmen were reported to have killed six people in Riyom, near Jos, in Plateau State.

LEADERSHIP gathered that the Army operation, which lasted about five hours, took place at Namadi Road in Rigasa district of Igabi Local Government Area (LGA) in Kaduna metropolis when the men of the Nigerian Army stormed a bomb making factory in the area following a tip-off. The Army operatives, LEADERSHIP further gathered, demolished the bomb factory after hours of gun battle, arrested some suspects and also discovered already made Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Owning a Dog ‘Is Not African’, Declares Jacob Zuma: Racism Row After South African President Says Black People With Pets Are Just Copying White Culture

He is not afraid to voice controversial opinions on anything from same-sex marriage to teenage pregnancy.

But now South African president Jacob Zuma has taken the bizarre step of warning black Africans against owning a dog.

President Zuma said that owning and walking a dog, and even taking one to the vet, were not African activities, and was just copying white culture.

The president, 70, who faces investigation by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog over an upgrade to his country home, is a proud Zulu and adheres to traditional practices — including polygamy. He has six wives and believed to have fathered 20 children.

Speaking at an event in KwaZulu-Natal province, he described people who love dogs more than humans as ‘having a lack of humanity’, Durban newspaper The Mercury reports

President Zuma reportedly told an audience of black South Africans on Wednesday to stop adopting the habits of other cultures. ‘Even if you apply any kind of lotion and straighten your hair you will never be white,’ he said.

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South Africa: Zuma Comments Cause Canine Chaos

Johannesburg — It was a dog-eat-dog world on Twitter on Thursday as people argued over President Jacob Zuma’s comments that caring for a pet dog was part of “white” culture.

While a flurry of users seemed indignant that Zuma didn’t name Jock of the Bushveld his favourite four-legged South African or ask Lassie to come home, many others agreed with the president’s sentiments. One user, YanelaJ, said Zuma’s comments were accurate: “How many blacks vs whites do u c walking/running dogs.don’t count domestic worker?”

Young Communist League spokesman Khaya Xaba tweeted that a “rich man’s dog gets more in the way of vaccination, medicine and medical care than do the workers upon whom the rich man’s wealth is built.”

The Star reported on Thursday that Zuma, in a speech given at Impendle in KwaZulu-Natal, had said that spending money to buy a dog and taking it to the vet and for walks, belonged to “white” culture. He was also reported to have said that those who loved dogs more than people had “a lack of humanity”. The presidency later sent out a statement in which it explained that Zuma was only trying to “decolonise the African mind” with his statements…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Italy: Femicide Row Priest Says Not Quitting But Time Off

Email ‘fake’, just ‘period of rest and reflection’

(ANSA) — Genoa, December 27 — A priest who stirred a nationwide row by suggesting women “provoked” men to rape or murder on Thursday said he was not quitting but taking a “period of rest”.

“The email saying I was stepping down was a fake,” said Father Piero Corsi.

Father Corsi said his archbishop had advised him to take some time off for “reflection and rest”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: And So it Goes?

In the December 11, 2012 issue of The Telegraph, it was reported that the number of Christians in England and Wales has fallen by four million since 2001. At the same time, the number of nonbelievers has almost doubled—one in four now self-profess as a nonbeliever.

Meanwhile, the number of nonbelievers in the United States has also grown, although not in such a drastic fashion. If the trend continues, however, one in every six Americans will soon claim no faith.

There are many factors contributing to the situation in the UK, but it is clear that the root of England’s secularization lies with the Church of England’s leadership.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]