Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100915

Financial Crisis
»UK: Defence Cuts ‘Could Leave Us Unable to Fight a War’, Say MPs
»Builders Plan to Boycott Construction of Mosque
»Molly Norris, Artist Behind ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’ Cartoon, Goes Into Hiding
»NJ Transit Employee Fired for Burning Koran at Ground Zero
»Paladino Stuns N.Y. G.O.P. With Victory
»Protester Who Burned Pages of Koran at Ground Zero Mosque Site is Sacked From His Job
»Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen: One Nation Under Revolt
»SEIU and NUHW Goes Head-to-Head in Big Labor Death Match
»‘Slum’ Suit vs. Landlord Rauf
»Tolerance is a Cooperative Value
Europe and the EU
»France: Burqa: Parliament Approves Full Ban, First in Europe
»German Book Channels Public’s Immigrant Angst
»Italy: School Plastered With Northern League Symbol Raises Storm
»Pope Adviser Calls the UK a ‘Third World Country’
»Pope Aide Pulls Out of Trip to ‘Third World’ UK
»Sweden: Ten Charged in Malmö Teen Pimping Scandal
»The Exodus of Jews From Europe
»The Eiffel Tower and the Saint-Michel RER Station Evacuated
»UK: Ethnic Pupils Go to Top of the Class at 16 as They Overtake White Britons for First Time
»UK: I Knew My Girl Wasn’t Dyslexic — So I Took Her Out of Class and Brought Her Up to Speed Myself
»UK: Muhammed Al-Yaqoubi, The Gpu and “Community Chesion”
»UK: Ministers Set to Offer Taxpayers’ Millions to ‘Victims of Torture’
»UK: Show More Respect: Pope to Tell British MPs to Protect the Rights of Christians
»Kosovo: Wikileaks Publishes Papers on UN Mission Corruption
North Africa
»Grandmother, 64, Strangled and Beaten to Death by Tunisian Toyboy on Holiday
Israel and the Palestinians
»Millions of Virgins; Millions of Martyrs. These Guys Have Followers and They Really Mean it
Middle East
»Bahrain: Police Official’s Car Blown Up
»President Obama’s Cairo Speech
»Syria: Coordination With Turkey Important for Peace, Assad
»Turkey: Post Referendum; Erdogan Towards Third Term
»UAE Donates USD 42 Million to PNA
»France: Circular Letter Targets Roma People, Besson Unaware
»Italian Trawler Hit by Libyan Gunfire
»Libya Trawler ‘Multiple Attempted Homicide’ Probe
»Reid Adding Amnesty Measure to Defense Bill
»Roma: France: Another 69 Repatriated on Special Flight

Financial Crisis

UK: Defence Cuts ‘Could Leave Us Unable to Fight a War’, Say MPs

Britain’s ability to carry out military operations is at risk because of Government plans to take an axe to the defence budget, a scathing report warns today.

A powerful group of MPs says that current missions, including the war in Afghanistan, would be threatened if ministers made cuts of up to 20 per cent at the Ministry of Defence.

The Commons’ Defence Select Committee expresses concern that the Strategic Defence and Security review is being carried out so quickly that ‘serious mistakes’ will be made.

This could undermine the Armed Forces, threatening the future defence of the realm, the MPs say.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Builders Plan to Boycott Construction of Mosque

Thousands of hard hats ‘simply won’t work the site’

What if Muslim imam Feisal Rauf wanted to build a mosque on a Ground Zero site in New York where some of the wreckage from the 9/11 Islamic terror attacks on the United States landed — and no builders showed up?

Maybe New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Barack Obama, who both have advocated for the project, could help out.

Such a headache is the goal of a new online campaign called launched by Andy Sullivan, a self-described New York-loving “hard hat,” who told WND today that his new effort already has attracted support from around the globe.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Molly Norris, Artist Behind ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’ Cartoon, Goes Into Hiding

(Sept. 15) — So much for freedom of speech.

At the urging of the FBI, Molly Norris, the Seattle-based illustrator and cartoonist whose satirical drawing marking “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” resulted in death threats, global protests and impassioned debate about religion and censorship, has been forced to change her name and abandon her former life as a result of her controversial cartoon.

The news that Morris had, out of concerns for her safety, decided to go into hiding was first reported in the Seattle Weekly today, a paper where Norris’ cartoons had regularly appeared:

The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, “going ghost”: moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program — except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab.

Norris originally posted her tongue-in-cheek cartoon announcing May 20 as “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” on her website, which no longer seems to be operating. It was dedicated to the creators of the Comedy Central animated television series “South Park” after one of their episodes was censored for its portrayal of the Islamic prophet.

Asif Hassan, AFP / Getty Images

Pakistani Muslims burn an effigy of American cartoonist Molly Norris during a protest against Facebook in Karachi on May 26.

As expected, Norris’ creation touched a nerve, and her drawing soon became a viral hit on the Internet, posted to a variety of high-profile websites and forwarded in countless e-mails. Soon her fictitious drawing morphed into an actual event as Facebook groups championing the idea popped up and started attracting fans.

With media outlets covering the phenomenon, word of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” spread across the globe, and the government of Pakistan announced it was suspending the use of Facebook to residents there.

Norris seemed caught off guard by the whirlwind. She removed the original cartoon from her website, took pains to disassociate herself from an actual “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” and pleaded for tolerance.

“I did NOT ‘declare’ May 20 to be ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,’“ she said on her website.

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

NJ Transit Employee Fired for Burning Koran at Ground Zero

Derek Fenton, the protester who burned pages from the Koran on Saturday near the site of a planned mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, was fired from his job at NJ Transit, officials there said yesterday.

His bosses said Fenton “violated New Jersey Transit’s code of ethics.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Paladino Stuns N.Y. G.O.P. With Victory

Carl P. Paladino, a Buffalo multimillionaire who jolted the Republican Party with his bluster and belligerence, rode a wave of disgust with Albany to the nomination for governor of New York on Tuesday, toppling Rick A. Lazio, a former congressman who earned establishment support but inspired little popular enthusiasm.

Mr. Paladino became one of the first Tea Party candidates to win a Republican primary for governor, in a state where the Republican Party has historically succeeded by choosing moderates.


“We are mad as hell,” Mr. Paladino said in a halting but exuberant victory speech in Buffalo shortly after 11 p.m. “New Yorkers are fed up. Tonight the ruling class knows. They have seen it now. There is a people’s revolution. The people have had enough.”

Referring to criticism from what he said were liberal elites, he added: “They say I am too blunt. Well, I am, and I don’t apologize for it. They say I am an angry man, and that’s true. We are all angry.”


Mr. Paladino’s platform calls for cutting taxes by 10 percent in six months, eliminating cherished public pensions for legislators, and using eminent domain to prevent the construction of a mosque and community center near ground zero. Those proposals could make Mr. Cuomo’s farthest-reaching reform ideas seem meek by comparison.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Protester Who Burned Pages of Koran at Ground Zero Mosque Site is Sacked From His Job

Derek Fenton, 39, of Bloomingdale, New Jersey, was photographed ripping up pages from the Muslim holy book and setting them alight on September 11.

He was removed from outside Park51, the site where the controversial mosque could be built, by police but was later released without charge.

But it now appears his former employer NJ Transit has taken more drastic action after confirming he had been dismissed.

A statement from the company said: ‘Mr Fenton’s public actions violated New Jersey Transit’s code of ethics.

‘NJ Transit concluded that Mr Fenton violated his trust as a state employee and there he was dismissed.’

Mr Fenton was allegedly inspired to carry out the act by Reverend Terry Jones, the Florida clergyman who sparked international protests when he threatened to stage a Koran burning day on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

A police source told the New York Daily News: ‘He said “this is America” and he wanted to stand up for it, in a Tea Party kind of way.’

Another police source said he described himself as exercising his ‘right to protest’.

Mr Fenton was an assistant train-consist coordinator — which entails ensuring there are enough train cars positioned to be put into service.

New Jersey Transit did not give specifics behind why he was dismissed.

But if he was sacked because of his actions, he could be protected by his First Amendment rights, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Chris Dunn, from the union, said: ‘The Supreme Court has recognised a constitutional right to burn the flag.

‘As reprehensible as it may be, burning the Koran would be protected as well.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen: One Nation Under Revolt

First of a three-part series, excerpted from “Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System”

The Tea Party movement has become one of the most powerful and extraordinary movements in recent American political history.

It is as popular as both the Democratic and Republican parties. It is potentially strong enough to elect senators, governors and congressmen. It may even be strong enough to elect the next president of the United States — time will tell.

But the Tea Party movement has been one of the most derided and minimized and, frankly, most disrespected movements in American history. Yet, despite being systematically ignored, belittled, marginalized, and ostracized by political, academic, and media elites, the Tea Party movement has grown stronger and stronger.

The extraordinary turnout on April 15, 2010, at rallies across the country speaks volumes to the strength, power, and influence of the Tea Party movement, with more than 750 protests held across the country, demonstrating a level of activism and enthusiasm that is both unprecedented and arguably unique in recent American political history.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

SEIU and NUHW Goes Head-to-Head in Big Labor Death Match

Starting this week the 43,000 KP workers will be making their choice known and the vying for votes by the two unions has been “hostile,” as NUHW member Edvin Hakopian said.

NUHW members feel that this could be a make or break vote for their fledgling union. If they win this vote and are awarded the ability to represent KP’s 43,000 workers it could make them a force to be reckoned with in California’s healthcare industry.

The fight is interesting because the fight between these two unions would not even exist if the SEIU had not been so arrogant in its earlier dealings with the NUHW (or rather its earlier incarnation as the UHW) when it was still a member organization of the SEIU.

This whole mess is a result of former President Andy Stern’s arrogant practice of hostile takeovers of smaller unions. Stern’s rule-from-the-top style cutting out the voice of the locals is what lies at the root of the original split.

Certainly neither union is the best representation of the workers, but for sure the SEIU is the worse of the two. Anything that puts a ding in the strength and influence of the SEIU is a good thing.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘Slum’ Suit vs. Landlord Rauf

The religious leader behind the proposed mosque near Ground Zero has been slapped with a lawsuit in Union City, NJ, where officials have accused him of ignoring dozens of violations at two rundown apartment buildings he owns.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s buildings, with a total of 48 apartments, have been the targets of more than 30 health and safety complaints, among them mold, uncollected garbage, bedbugs, odors, dirty hallways and a lack of heat, the lawsuit says.

One of the buildings has been boarded up by Rauf since a blaze on Feb. 8, 2008, that broke out after Union City had issued a dozen fire-code violations there.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Tolerance is a Cooperative Value

The most important thing to understand about tolerance is that it is a cooperative value. It can only work by way of mutual agreement. A one sided tolerance translates either as disdain or fearful appeasement. It is often this second kind of tolerance that people speak of today, when they describe how they tolerate a noisy neighbor or a difficult family member.

What they really mean is they have become unwilling to respond to offensive behavior out of fear or more commonly a sense of futility. This is the brand of tolerance that most Americans practice today, dutifully ignoring offenses, until something occurs that passes all boundaries of decency. Like the Ground Zero Mosque.

Contrary to the perceptions of the political and cultural elites who view Americans with a careful disdain, the average American is neither blind, ignorant nor stupid. Whether or not he reads the papers or follows the news, he is well aware of who carried out 9/11 and numerous attacks before and since. He has never read the Koran, but he has seen enough terrorists holding it up to get the idea. He has never been inside a mosque, but he knows that far too many terrorists have. And he can count well enough to find the vigorous delinking of Islam and terrorism propounded by the political and cultural elites to be thoroughly unconvincing. Because even while he wades ankle deep in the media’s stream of propaganda, his judgments are made based on common sense. And common sense is that when people are trying to kill him, they are probably not his friends.


When a country fills up with people who live by different values and laws than the natives, mutual tolerance can avert a conflict. But it must truly be mutual. And while Americans have bent over backward to accommodate the rituals and beliefs of Muslims, there has been absolutely no reciprocity from the other side. And that is the real story of the Ground Zero Mosque. It is a wake up call because it demonstrates the absolute unwillingness of Muslims to show any tolerance whatsoever for the pain and suffering of the very people they victimized nine years ago. While Non-Muslims are expected not to bring a bottle of wine from the duty free shop into a Muslim airport cab or eat in front of a Muslim during Ramadan—Muslims cannot seem to even have the basic decency not to capitalize on a terrorist attack to grab up some real estate on the cheap and then build a giant mosque complex in an area where there are fewer Muslims than in most parts of Tokyo.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

France: Burqa: Parliament Approves Full Ban, First in Europe

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, SEPTEMBER 14 — The French parliament approved in full the bill that bans the use of the full Islamic veil in all of France, including streets, squares, and public areas. The bill, strongly desired by president Nicolas Sarkozy, was approved by the vast majority of Senate members following the positive vote last July by the National Assembly. France therefore becomes the first country of the EU to adopt such a measure despite the negative opinion of the council of State and discomfort expressed by the Muslim communities. The ban, that will not enter into force before Spring of 2011, must however be approved by the Constitutional Court, which has to rule on the matter in the next weeks.

The law prohibits the “concealment of the face in public areas”, but does not explicitly mention the full Islamic veil.

In particular, the first of seven articles states that “nobody can, in public areas, wear clothes used to conceal the face”.

The measure covers streets and squares, “areas open to the public”, (shops, bars and restaurants, parks, transport…) and those “destined to a public service” (schools, hospitals, post offices…).

Once it enters into force, women who wear the burqa or niqab will have to pay a 150 euros fine, which may also include a stage in “social education”. The law also creates a new crime, the “forced concealment of the face”. This means that anyone who forces a woman to completely cover herself risks a year in jail and a 30,000 euros fine. If the person is a minor, the sentence is doubled (two years in prison and a 60,000 euros fine). Thus the law also focuses on men who force their partner to wear a full veil “with threats, violence (…) abuse of power or authority”.

The anti-burqa measure provides some exceptions, which concern those special cases where concealing the face is allowed by law (helmet for motorcycle riders, use of masks or bandages in the event of an epidemic or for professional reasons, such as welding masks or police in riot gear), and a number of mandatory holidays: carnival-goers and men dressed as Father Christmas will not be fined. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

German Book Channels Public’s Immigrant Angst

BERLIN (AP) — Thilo Sarrazin was a board member of Germany’s august central bank until he wrote a book claiming German society was being made “dumber” by Muslim immigrants. It’s a runaway best-seller, but has cost him his job.

By suggesting that Muslims’ inability, or unwillingness, to speak German may be linked to their DNA, Sarrazin broke a post-Nazi taboo on foraying into genetic theories. But his core argument resonates among many ordinary Germans, who fear that their language, culture and generosity are being abused by welfare-dependent newcomers, many of them Muslims.

The massive success of Sarrazin’s book has cracked open growing anti-immigrant anger among many Germans, who fear that their language, culture and generosity is being abused by newcomers, especially Muslims, who they say live off their welfare state without contributing to it.

Sarrazin provoked an outcry even before the book’s release when he said in a newspaper interview that “all Jews share a certain gene, like all Basques share a certain gene, that distinguishes these from other people.” Although research tends to confirm a genetic commonality _ Sarrazin cites Darwin to justify his remarks _ such notions are delicate in mainstream Germany for having driven the ideology behind Hitler’s genocide.

“Sarrazin … ignores a century of academic research,” said Juergen Neffe, a German biochemist, who wrote a book about the father of modern evolutionary theory. “A lot has happened since Darwin.”

But supporters say Sarrazin’s criticisms are simply meant to make a point about what is expected of newcomers to Germany.

“We are not far-right extremists, we just want the people who come here to contribute something, to be polite and learn the language. Nothing more,” said Mike Temme, a doctor.

Temme was among a lively crowd of several hundred in Berlin who paid to hear Sarrazin debate his book, “Germany Abolishes Itself.” Support for the ex-banker was palpable as the crowd applauded his defense of his theories and drowned out any participants who questioned Sarrazin’s use of genetic theory or accused him of manipulating data.

“Because we’ve started and lost two world wars, nobody dares to say it. But now somebody has spoken the truth and everybody agrees,” Temme said.

The “truth,” according to Sarrazin, is that Germans “have accepted as inevitable that Germany will be smaller and dumber.”

“The three immigrant groups with the largest educational deficit and the highest social welfare costs, are also those with the highest rate of reproduction,” Sarrazin writes, citing Turks, immigrants from the former Yugoslavia and from the Middle East.

But plenty of Germans fear that Sarrazin, with his history of provocative statements and the stature of high office at the Deutsche Bundesbank, is fanning fires that will be hard to put out. Even before the book hit stores two weeks ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned its tone, saying the “ostracism and the contempt are unacceptable.”

“It’s creating a false impression of foreigners in society,” said Julia Buhmann, a 21-year-old biotech student whose high school ran a program aimed at integrating Turkish students in her Berlin neighborhood.

“Most Germans have never even met someone who’s Turkish, and then they hear all of this talk and suddenly think all foreigners are bad,” Buhmann said.

According to a survey by ZDF public television, 56 percent of Germans say Sarrazin’s criticism is justified, and many immigrants are feeling uneasy.

“I am worried about my Germany,” said Samadi Ahadi, 38, a filmmaker who immigrated from Iran as a child and obtained German citizenship. He said the increase in discrimination since the book’s release is felt on the streets and public transport, without elaborating.

“Most of what is in the book is harmful, painful populism,” said Samadi. “I am also a German.”

Hardening attitudes toward Muslims are felt in many European countries. But these are generally spearheaded by the far-right, whereas Sarrazin, 65, belongs to the traditional, center-left Social Democratic Party, which is moving to expel him. Some heavyweights of Germany’s left-leaning establishment are leaping to Sarrazin’s defense, arguing that he is being unjustly pilloried for saying what a silent majority has long felt.

Matthias Matussek, a columnist with the weekly Der Spiegel, praised Sarrazin for challenging “the politically correct branch of Germany’s consensus-based society” and for forcing politicians to listen to the public’s demands for Muslims to embrace German ways.

“They are sick of being cursed or laughed at when they offer assistance with integration. And they are tired about reading about Islamist associations that have one degree of separation from terrorism, of honor killings, of death threats against cartoonists and filmmakers,” Matussek wrote in his blog for Der Spiegel’s online edition…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: School Plastered With Northern League Symbol Raises Storm

Green ‘Sun of the Alps’ on desks, windows, doormats

(ANSA) — Rome, September 14 — A Northern League mayor’s decision to plaster a school near Brescia with his regionalist party’s symbol has raised a political storm in Italy.

Oscar Lancini, the mayor of Adro near Brescia, justified putting the party’s green Sole delle Alpi (Sun of the Alps) on the town school’s windows, desks, wastepaper baskets and doormats by saying the symbol is also linked to the area’s Celtic heritage.

But the move has been criticised by parents’ groups, opposition parties and the local branch of the CGIL trade union is planning legal action to remove the symbols of a party that frequently takes extreme positions on immigration issues.

“Branding a public school with an image loaded with such significance risks depriving it of its value as part of the nation,” CGIL, Italy’s biggest union, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Italian Parent’s Movement (Moige) expressed “dismay” and even members of Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, which is allied with the League in the central government, said Lancini had gone too far.

“The mayor of Adro would be wise to have all the symbols of his party removed from the public school at the town’s expense, not the central government’s,” said PdL MP Osvaldo Napoli. Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini has also come under fire for not being more forthright in condemning Lancini’s actions.

She said she was “always of the idea that political polemics should be kept outside school” but described the move as “folkloristic” and called on the mayor’s critics to be equally vocal when left-wing symbols enter the classroom.

“The mayor of Adro’s act has the complicity of minister Gelmini and therefore of the whole government,” said Giampiero De Toni, a Senator with the centre-left Italy of Values (IDV) opposition party.

“This is dangerous because it throws the independence of the school into doubt. “Party symbols should stay outside schools. It’s a clear attempt to identify the state with a political party, what’s more a xenophobic, separatist one. We thought such attempts had been buried with the end of Fascism”.

A member of the opposition Radical party said Gelmini should send ministry inspectors to the school.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Pope Adviser Calls the UK a ‘Third World Country’

One of the Pope’s senior advisers has pulled out of the papal visit to Britain, after reportedly saying the UK is a “Third World country” marked by “a new and aggressive atheism”.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, 77, made the remarks in a German magazine interview.

The Vatican said the cardinal had not intended “any kind of slight”, and was referring to the UK’s multicultural society.

It added that he had simply pulled out of the Pope’s visit due to illness.

The German-born cardinal was quoted as saying to the country’s Focus magazine that “when you land at Heathrow you think at times you have landed in a Third World country”.

He also was reported to have criticised British Airways, saying that when you wear a cross on the airline “you are discriminated against”.

Vatican sources said Cardinal Kasper — who stepped down in July as the head of the department that deals with other Christian denominations — was suffering from gout and had been advised by his doctors not to travel to the UK.

The Pope is spending four days in Scotland and England, starting on Thursday.

‘Talking nonsense’

The BBC’s correspondent in Rome, David Willey, said the cardinal’s reported comments were “a slightly clumsy thing to have done on the eve of the visit”.

However, he added that he did not think it would have much effect on the Pope’s trip to the UK.

Clifford Langley, from Catholic newspaper The Tablet, said the cardinal was “obviously talking nonsense”.

“I don’t think he believes Britain is in the grip of secular atheism, and he shouldn’t have said so,” said Mr Langley.

“They are saying it is ill health [that has forced the cardinal to drop out of the visit], but I wonder if that is the fact. I wonder if he has been dropped because he is an embarrassment.”

British Airways said the cardinal had been “seriously misinformed” in his claims about the airline.

“It is completely untrue that we discriminate against Christians or members of any faith,” it said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

Pope Aide Pulls Out of Trip to ‘Third World’ UK

A key member of Pope Benedict XVI’s Vatican entourage has pulled out of the visit to Britain just days after he slammed the country as “Third World”.

German born Cardinal Walter Kasper, 77, was due to take part in talks with representatives of the Church of England during the four day visit.

Vatican officials were quick to point out that he had pulled out “due to an illness” but others pointed to the aggressive nature of the interview he had given to the German magazine Focus.

In the article, which was headlined Third World Land, Cardinal Kasper hit out at the atmosphere of “aggressive atheism” in Britain and said Christians “were at a disadvantage”.

He added: “When you land at Heathrow you think you are in a Third World Land.”

Cardinal Kasper also pointed to the crucifix row involving British Airways staff and said:”If you wear a cross you are discriminated. We want to publicly show our faith.”

In his interview Cardinal Kasper, who is very close to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, also said he could not see “women priests being ordained for the next 100 or 200 years”.

He added: “The Protestant faith doesn’t have celibacy and it has women priests but it has had its own problems.”

Cardinal Kasper was appointed head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in 1999 and he retired two months ago, being replaced by Archbishop Kurt Koch who is also on the visit to Britain.

He has been involved in talks with Anglican groups about greater co-operation between them and Catholicism and is strongly opposed to the ordination of women.

Two years ago, Cardinal Kasper famously received a phone call in the middle of the night from the Archbishop of Canterbury after it emerged that the Vatican was to accept disaffected Anglicans who were unhappy at women in the Church of England.

Recalling the midnight conversation he said: “We we talked about the significance… and I reassured him about the continuation of our direct talks.”

Cardinal Kasper added:”Our personal relationship is cordial and transparent. He is a man of spirituality, a theologian.

“In reality, the obstacles to ecumenical dialogue today can come only from tensions within the Anglican world.”

Today Cardinal Kasper’s secretary, Monsignor Oliver Lahl, said:”He is very disappointed not to be going.

“He has been ill for a few days and can hardly walk. He was looking forward to seeing his friends.”

When asked what Cardinal Kasper had meant by Third World, Monsignor Lahl said: “It was a description of the many different people that live in Britain at the moment.

“Aggressive atheism was his way of describing people like Richard Dawkins who have been very critical of the Pope and who had even talked about making a citizens arrest.”

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Ten Charged in Malmö Teen Pimping Scandal

Charges were filed on Wednesday in Malmö against 10 men suspected of having sold a mentally handicapped 14-year-old girl for sex.

The girl is alleged to have been sexually abused and raped by several different men after she ran away from a foster home last spring.

Seven men have been charged with aggravated child rape, with three of them also facing charges of human trafficking, with an alternative charge of aggravated pimping.

The other three suspects are charged respectively with child rape; human trafficking with an alternative charge of aggravated pimping; and assisting in human trafficking with an alternative charge of aggravated pimping, according to the TV4 affiliate in Malmö.

All of the suspects are men ages 16- to 67-years-old.

It was back on March 17th when the 14-year-old girl escaped from a foster home in a nearby municipality before ending up in the Rosengård district of Malmö.

Under the influence of drugs, she began offering to have sex for money, catching the attention of two of the men charged in the case, TV4 reports.

The two men then took her to a public toilet and had sex with her before later taking her to a nearby apartment where several men took advantage of her sexually during a party.

From there she was taken to a night club where she was drugged and forced to have sex with several more men.

“It could be up to 20,” prosecutor Ulrika Rogland told TV4.

The case is reminiscent of another case involving a mentally handicapped 14-year-old girl who was also sold for sex. In that case, investigators were unable to track down the customers who paid for sex with the teen.

The present case is also significant because it represents the first time that prosecutors in Sweden have attempted to classify pimping crimes as human trafficking.

“I think these crimes are more serious, more like human trafficking than primping,” Rogland told TV4, pointing out that the girl was transported between different locations and used sexually by several different men.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Exodus of Jews From Europe

Desecration of Jewish graves, violence against Hasidic Jews on city streets and intimidation of worshippers walking home from synagogue are all on the rise in Europe causing Jews to once again flee persecution for safe haven in Israel and the United States.

Much of the increase in European anti-Semitism can be linked to the rise in Muslim population, currently at 20 million and projected to double by 2020. Since 1945, millions of Muslims have sought asylum in Europe to escape social and economic oppression in the Middle East and Northern Africa. However, rather than learning from the dangers of intolerance that led many to make the migration in the first place, far too many Muslims have brought their hatred of Western values and the Jewish people with them to the new world.

It’s not just Muslims who are fueling the flames. While left-wing European politicians demand Jews and Christians bend over backwards to accommodate Muslim sensibilities, they remain silent regarding the virulent anti-Semitism spilling over from Islamic communities.


As explained by one French Jew who has made the decision to make the move to Israel, “As a Jew I don’t see any future for me in France. Just put on a skull cap in the street and see the reaction you get. While Muslim girls can wear veils and no-one says a word.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Eiffel Tower and the Saint-Michel RER Station Evacuated

[Translated by VH]

At around 21 hours Tuesday evening, a large police force evacuated without incident Eiffel Tower [webcam] and its surroundings, where some 2,000 people were present. The police intervened after a bomb threat by an anonymous phone call. No suspicious object was found.

The Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars and the RER [subway] station Saint-Michel were evacuated Tuesday evening by the Paris police in response to bomb threats. According to the police headquarters, the evacuation procedure for the Eiffel Tower area was triggered by an anonymous call at 8:20 p.m. to the company that manages the Eiffel Tower. According to our information, this call was allegedly made from a phone booth in the twelfth arrondissement of Paris.

While such threats are common for a symbolic building such as the Eiffel Tower, it was taken seriously due to the proximity of the ninth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the final approval Tuesday of the law prohibiting the wearing of the full veil in public spaces.

Around 21.00, large police forces therefore evacuated without incident the Tower and its surroundings, where some 2,000 people were present. The tourists were moved towards the Champ de Mars and prevented from returning to the vicinity of the Tower with white and red marked ribbons. Others, closely supervised by the police, had been grouped on the banks of the Seine, where security perimeters had been established.

Meanwhile, specialized squads, including a police dog squad, searched the Eiffel Tower floor by floor, including its mechanical parts. They found nothing suspicious, the police said shortly before midnight.

The Saint-Michel RER station was also evacuated at 9:20 p.m., after another anonymous call. “The trains were immediately suspended between Paris-Austerlitz and Paris-Invalides. It was reversed on line C at 22:10,” a source with the SNCF said. At the RER B side, “there was an evacuation taking place from 9:40 p.m. to 9:55 p.m. Trains continued to run on this line, but without stopping at the station. The Saint-Michel station was targeted in July 1995 with a bomb attack, claimed by the Armed Islamic Group (GIA in Algeria). The explosion killed eight and wounded 150.

Both of Tuesday evening’s alerts happen before the last day of a period of increased alert that was decided upon by François Fillon (Prime Minister of France), due to a terrorist threat level estimated to be high on the national level. Because of this, Vigipirate [the national security alert system], remains in red, with special attention to symbolic sites.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

UK: Ethnic Pupils Go to Top of the Class at 16 as They Overtake White Britons for First Time

Pupils from ethnic minorities match or outshine white British children in exams at age 16 despite lagging behind at five, a study shows today.

School league tables may encourage teachers to pay greater attention to pupils from black and Asian backgrounds, the research found.

It also suggested that peer pressure may influence how well different groups work at their studies.

The researchers, from University College London, said the achievement of ethnic minority pupils was an ‘amazing success story’.

Many struggle with English when they start school but they catch up with their white British counterparts or even overtake them as their language skills improve.

The study also found that league tables give teachers an incentive to focus on pupils on the borderline between D and C grades at GCSE, because the system rewards schools for ensuring pupils achieve at least five passes at grade C or above.

Black and Asian pupils are more likely than white British pupils to form part of this borderline group, and may therefore benefit from greater attention. For the study, published today in the Economic Journal, researchers analysed exam results for nearly 500,000 pupils.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: I Knew My Girl Wasn’t Dyslexic — So I Took Her Out of Class and Brought Her Up to Speed Myself

A damning new Ofsted report warns that as many as 750,000 children have been wrongly labelled as having special needs to cover up poor teaching. Here, one mother relates her own experience of what school inspectors have called a ‘culture of excuses’.

Lesha Chaplin-Park, 36, a PR consultant from Stafford, refused to accept her daughter Georgia, now ten, was dyslexic when her school said she had fallen behind due to the condition. Lesha home-schooled Georgia instead, and after one year she was back at school and top of the class. Lesha says:

Teachers were all too quick to stick a label on my daughter and put her in a box. Was it for extra funding, or just so they didn’t have to address the problem directly? all I know is that when I was told Georgia was dyslexic, I knew she wasn’t — and I’ve been proved right.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Muhammed Al-Yaqoubi, The Gpu and “Community Chesion”

by Habibi


[From the comments section, emphasis added]

Zbigniew Pniewski — 14 September 2010, 6:40 pm

RezaV: So glad you’re back. I copy all your comments for those of my more stupid friends who accuse me of being racist because of my loathing for totalitarian islam. They are unimpressed by the fact that I utterly despise white “reverts” to the RoP and am totally indifferent to the race of those cradle-muslims — white, black, brown or yellow — that can never leave islam for fear of the capital penalties prescribed for apostates. They are unimpressed with my voluntary work for organisations that help ex-muslims and Christians and all others from islamic hell-holes.

You must be driving hand-wringing, bleeding-heart Gene up the wall: he thinks if you can’t say anything nice about islam, don’t say anything at all. He keeps trying to convince those here who have studied islam and the sunna, but gets knocked down by facts every time., He’s so punch-drunk now that he just doesn’t realise there’s no way you can be a decent human being and try to champion islam. Fight the good fight: the lefty-masochistic islamophiles — who know little or naught of the teachings of islam, or of the ethos of islamic jurisdictions — haven’t got a foot to stand on with courageous ex-muslims like you around.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Ministers Set to Offer Taxpayers’ Millions to ‘Victims of Torture’

Ministers will offer millions of pounds to former terrorist suspects who claim British spies were complicit in their torture, during secretive negotiations that will start within weeks.

Under the reconciliation process set up by the Government, huge payouts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds each will be paid to up to a dozen ex-detainees who claim they were subjected to abuse.

David Cameron has pledged to set up a judicial inquiry into the claims of complicity in torture but only when cases being brought by suspects imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay have been settled.

In the meantime, six British citizens and residents — Binyam Mohamed, Bisher Al Rawi, Jamil El-Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes and Martin Mubanga — who were rendered to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp are suing the UK Government over its role in their mistreatment.

They deny any involvement in terrorism and allege that MI5 and MI6 aided and abetted their unlawful imprisonment by feeding questions to their captors.


But there are no guarantees that the suspects will automatically accept the money because it would mean that they would abandon their court cases against the Government.

Officials say large sums of money will be required to convince the detainees to back down.

One source said: ‘You’re looking at sums well into six figures. The whole thing could cost millions.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Show More Respect: Pope to Tell British MPs to Protect the Rights of Christians

The Pope will use a key speech during his state visit to tell British authorities to show more respect for Christianity.

Benedict XVI, who arrives tomorrow for his tour of England and Scotland, is to call on the state to have ‘an open and positive attitude towards religious faith’.

His remarks amount to a criticism of politicians who have allowed equality laws to trump religious beliefs, in some cases preventing Christians displaying their faith at work.

Earlier this year the Pope denounced as sinful Labour’s Equality Act — which is likely to be put into operation by the Coalition this autumn.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Kosovo: Wikileaks Publishes Papers on UN Mission Corruption

(ANSAmed) — PRISTINA, SEPTEMBER 14 — Website Wikileaks, specialised in publishing secret papers, disseminated much material concerning cases of corruption and sexual abuse relative to the staff of the Pristina airport. Pristina is the capital city of Kosovo.

As reported today by local agency Indeksonline, the papers posted online by Wikileaks make reference to internal material of Unmik, the UN mission in Kosovo, and speak of corruption and the offer of sex acts to airport staff. The period taken into exam and relative to the mentioned papers runs from 2004 to 2007. Investigations were carried out by the special anti crime task force of the Unmik mission.

The current heads of the Pristina airport, reached by Indeksonline, stated that they are aware of the facts, but refused to offer details.

Confirmation of cases of corruption and sexual abuse relative to the staff of the Pristina airport was offered by Avni Zogiani, leader of NGO Zgjohu (wake up), who believes that Unmik did not allow an investigation into the matter. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Grandmother, 64, Strangled and Beaten to Death by Tunisian Toyboy on Holiday

A British grandmother was strangled and beaten to death by her Tunisian boyfriend, an inquest heard today.

Pauline Richardson, 64, had travelled with a friend to the resort of Port El Kantaoui in Tunisia in June 2008.

She was due to fly back on June 29 and on that day visited Qabeel Jabir Al-Wardani, who was then in his 20s.

Mrs Richardson missed her flight home and her body was discovered the next day.

Al-Wardani was arrested and admitted pre-meditated murder, saying he had strangled the grandmother from Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

Although no official confirmation has ever been received from authorities in Tunisia, Detective Constable Dave Ripley today told an inquest in County Durham that Al-Wardani had been jailed for life.

A post-mortem revealed Mrs Richardson had been strangled and suffered blows to the head.

Coroner Andrew Tweddle told a hearing at Chester-le-Street Magistrates’ Court that the mother-of-two had gone to meet Mr Al-Wardani at 6pm.

Mr Tweddle said: ‘She had some form of relationship with an individual I believe to be a Tunisian national called Qabeel Jabir Al-Wardani.

‘At 6pm on Sunday 29 June, she parted company with her friends to go and see this gentleman. That was the day they intended to come back home.

‘People got concerned when she didn’t make the airplane which left without her. Inquiries were then made to ascertain what had happened to her.

‘Following these inquiries and contact being made with Mr Al-Wardani, her body was subsequently found and it looked as if she had been the victim of what can only be described as an assault and a murder.

‘Mr Al-Wardani was arrested and interviewed by the authorities in Tunisia and finally admitted his involvement in her death and accepted he had murdered her at around 8.30pm on that same night.

‘There were proceedings in the criminal courts out there and he was convicted of Pauline’s murder.’

At the time of Mrs Richardson’s death, her daughter Beverley Sains, 47, said she suspected something was wrong when one of her mother’s two travelling companions rang to say she had gone missing.

Mrs Richardson’s body was discovered 24 hours later in an unidentified location.

Mrs Sains said her mother had travelled to Tunisia often in the two years before her death, both with her friends and her grandchildren, Richard and Natalie.

Mrs Sains said: ‘She just loved to travel. Wherever she went, she made friends. She loved warm weather as it helped her arthritis.

‘She was an outgoing person who wanted to live life to the full and enjoy her family.’

DC Ripley, of Durham Constabulary, told the inquest that even two years after the murder he still had no official confirmation of what had happened to Al-Wardani.

He said: ‘Even today I have been in touch with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and we are still awaiting written confirmation from Tunisia of the sentencing.

‘However, I’ve spoken with a solicitor who represents the family of the deceased. He has an agent out there and the agent has provided me with information that a guilty verdict was passed and the defendant received life imprisonment for that verdict.’

DC Ripley added that Al-Wardini had admitted ‘pre-meditated murder’ but said he had no further information about the killing.

The coroner asked DC Ripley to continue his inquiries until he receives official confirmation of the sentence.

‘I would like you to continue with your inquiries and get a formal verdict,’ he said. ‘I would like to have some documents from the Tunisian authorities to confirm what your understanding is.’

A verdict of unlawful killing was recorded.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Millions of Virgins; Millions of Martyrs. These Guys Have Followers and They Really Mean it

By Barry Rubin

Yes, it’s true; a fringe minister with just fifty followers in America wanted to burn a Koran. But he didn’t. Meanwhile another nut wants to kill all Jews, wipe Israel off the map, destroy the United States, eliminate all Christians, indoctrinate children into being suicide bombers, and carry out a revolutionary war of terrorism for decades no matter how many die and how much destruction occurs.

Oh, and by the way, he and his colleagues have several hundred thousand followers and are ruling what amounts to an independent state bordering on the Mediterranean.

When you study the Middle East seriously you get used to this kind of rhetoric, yet somehow the seriousness and importance of such talk doesn’t seem to register with many Western government officials, journalists, and academics who explain away these movements and regimes as somehow rational and moderate.

Maybe that’s because when you look at the situation honestly it’s really rather scary. Another word for finding something scary is to have a “phobia” toward it.

So it wasn’t some silly, obscure guy who said this but…well, please wait just one more paragraph to find out.

In the speech, this fellow said that it was really great to be a martyr for Islamic revolution because there are 2.5 million black-eyed virgins waiting at the gates of a palace—just one, so presumably there are more—in the Garden of Eden just waiting for them. You do the math: 500 gates, 5,000 virgins per gate.

Who said this? Ahmad Bahr, a Hamas leader and speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. In other words, he’s the Palestinian equivalent of Nancy Pelosi.

Bahr and his colleagues aren’t just joking; they aren’t just telling tall tales to titillate the yokels…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Bahrain: Police Official’s Car Blown Up

(ANSAmed) — MANAMA, SEPTEMBER 15 — An attack was carried out on a police official’s car yesterday without causing any casualties in the southern outskirts of Manama, the capital of Bahrain, an archipelago in the Persian Gulf. The announcement was made by police chief general Tarek Ben Dina. The attack, for which no one has claimed responsibility but which has been called an “act of terrorism”, damaged four vehicles. Recently the kingdom’s justice system committed to trial 23 Shia opponents on charges of plotting to overthrow the monarchy during the religious tensions which have grown stronger in view of the October elections. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

President Obama’s Cairo Speech

President Obama’s Cairo speech in June 2009 was equally misleading about what he said and didn’t say regarding the “Muslim World”, Islam, Israel, Human Rights and His African Black Brothers.

Looking at the conflicts in the world today and since the end of World War II, a significant portion of the deaths, destruction and unrest in the “Muslim World” have been caused as the result of inter-Muslim disputes, most notably the eight year long war between Iraq and Iran resulting in more than a million killed, the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, the Pakistan-Bangladesh conflict (following civil war and secession), Lebanese, Yemeni and Somali Civil Wars, inter-sectarian Muslim violence between Shias and Sunnis in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, border disputes between Syria and Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, Jordan’s crackdown on “Black September” , Syria’s suppression of the Muslim Brothers and opponents of the Assad regime, inter Palestinian factionalism, the decade long mass violence by Muslim religious extremists in Algeria or between Muslims and Christians and between Shia and Sunni Muslims in Lebanon, Iraqi and Turkish suppression of Kurdish autonomy, Muslim terror against civilians in Chechnya, and massive violence between Muslims and Hindus in India — partition and three India-Pakistan wars, terrorism in Kashmir and India, Muslim secessionist activity and terrorism in the Philippines, Muslim grievances in Thailand and China and Somali piracy against the merchant ships of all nations. Where Muslims have been at risk of displacement and under attack in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait, their rescue was made possible only by the efforts of the United States.


Within a week of Obama’s fawning speech and homage to the “Muslim World”, both Pakistan and Iran lurched forward to the brink of Civil War, the same brink on which Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran are tottering. The so called “Muslim World” has never been more fractious and almost all of these conflicts were/are not related to the creation of the State of Israel nor can they be solved or assuaged by American deference to Islam.

Writing in the independent Egyptian newspaper “Al-Masri Al-Yawm” (Egypt Today), respected human rights advocate and critic of the Mubarrak regime, Professor of Sociology, Sa’ad Eddin Ibrahim wrote in review of the “Muslim World” today…”These are all Muslims fighting Muslims. after some of them raised the slogan “Islam is the solution”, their Islam has become the problem. As soon as any number of them acquire weapons, they raise them against the government, even when the government also rules in the name of ‘Islam’. A quick glance at what the media shows us demonstrates how the word ‘Islam’ and its derivatives becomes plaything in their hands.” (May 17, 2008).

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Syria: Coordination With Turkey Important for Peace, Assad

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, SEPTEMBER 13 — Syrian president Bashar al Assad today reasserted Syria’s determination to seek peace with Israel “based on legitimacy and international resolutions” and, in such context, also stated the “importance of coordination with Turkey”.

While greeting French envoy for the Middle East Jean Claude Cousseran, who delivered a letter from president Nicolas Sarkozy to his person, Assad reasserted “the Syrian vision” of the path to peace. Thus, according to reports by official press agency Sana, “he highlighted the importance of coordination with Turkey to build on what was achieved through indirect negotiations” set up in 2008 with Turkey’s mediation and then suspended after the start of the Israeli attack in the Gaza Strip.

Sana added that Cousseran, a former ambassador in Damascus, “expressed his country’s desire for greater coordination with Syria, for its key role in every peace process and for its major role in the search of appropriate solutions for the region”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Post Referendum; Erdogan Towards Third Term

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 13 — With a comfortable margin of eight points (or 6 million voters) which won the referendum to amend Turkey’s Constitution on Sunday, premier Tayyip Erdogan now appears in condition to run for the July 2011 political elections and win a third term in office, and to prepare and submit a completely new Constitution to the country.

Many domestic and Western analysts today agree with the above analysis following the landslide win of yes votes that almost certainly will project the leader of the Justice and Development party (Akp) of Islamic origin towards a bid to become head of State to replace party colleague Abdullah Gul, whose term in office ends in 2012.

But experts reported that yesterday’s vote highlighted, once and for all, how Turkey and Turkish public opinion is polarised in two opposite poles that are mutually diffident. On one side laymen nostalgic of the pro-West ideology of Kemal Ataturk, nationalists and contrary to the confusion of State and mosques, and pious Sunni Muslims (more than 90% of the Turkish population) which strand firmly behind Akp on the other side.

Various of the reforms approved yesterday, such as greater social protection for women, minors, elderly and disable people, or the right to strike for State employees, are undoubtedly positive. But what really worries the lay oppositions are the changes to the rules by which judges will be chosen, changes that make them fear that the magistracy is losing its independence from political power. The opposition parties now fear that without the restraint of the Constitutional Court (whose lay judges are destined to disappear, replaced by ones appointed by the president), Akp will have no more problems to implement its alleged ‘hidden agenda’ to Islamise Turkey. Just like it did in the past, say the critics, proposing a number of pro-Islamic reforms such as the penalisation of adultery, the ban on the sale of alcohol and the removal of the ban on the Islamic veil in universities and State buildings.

Erdogan is moving ahead despite criticism. Time ago he stated that, should the yes vote prevail, he would have immediately started to completely amend the Constitution. And, to do this, today he also gained the support of various European leaders that, perhaps unaware of the Country’s profound reality, interpreted the ‘yes’ vote to the referendum as Turkey coming closer to Europe. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UAE Donates USD 42 Million to PNA

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, SEPTEMBER 14 — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) donated 42 million dollars to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), exceeding the 300 million dollars promised by the Donors’ Conference in 2007 by 10 million dollars, reports The National. The new financial assistance, said Palestinian Ambassador in the UAE, Khairi al Oridi, will be used to pay the salaries of civil servants. “This is assistance that the PNA sorely needed,” stressed Al Oridi, “because the commitments made at the summits and Arab conferences have not been respected.” The scarce Arab participation to meet the economic needs of the Palestinians (in 2010 only 22% of the aid budget for the PNA came from Arab nations) has already been highly criticised in recent months and in August a UN report highlighted the risk for 150,000 Palestinian civil servants and government employees not being paid due to a lack of PNA funds. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


France: Circular Letter Targets Roma People, Besson Unaware

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, SEPTEMBER 13 — An Interior Ministry circular letter which explicitly targets Roma has been focused on by the French opposition as concerns the deportations under Nicholas Sarkozy, and may end up being a reason for its annulment. Immigration Minister Eric Besson has said that he was not “aware” of the circular issued by his Interior Ministry counterpart Brice Hortefeux. “I was not aware of it, as it was not sent to me,” said Besson this morning on France 2 in reference to the August 5 circular sent by the Interior Ministry to French prefects in which the latter are told to evacuate Roma camps. The circular was signed by Michel Bart, head of the Interior Ministry Cabinet, and reminds prefects of the “precise objectives” indicated by Sarkozy: “300 camps or illegal settlements must be evacuated within the next three months, with Roma ones given top priority”. The text, which could be challenged since — in contrast with what the government claims — it specifically targets a community on an ethnic basis, has led to violent reactions, especially by Information and Immigrant Support Group (GISTI), which has announced that it will be drawing up an urgent appeal against the Hortefeux circular. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italian Trawler Hit by Libyan Gunfire

Foreign ministry ‘following case’, wants details

(ANSA) — Lampedusa, September 13 — An Italian trawler was fired on by a Libyan motor launch off the coast of Libya Sunday in the latest incident in disputed waters.

A few rounds of gunfire strafed the side of the Ariete trawler, hit the cabin and punctured a dinghy but none of the ten-man crew was hurt, sailors said after their safe return.

The Ariete, out of the northwestern Sicilian port of Mazara del Vallo, was reportedly told to stop but ignored the order and headed for home, sparking the burst of fire. The incident took place in the Gulf of Sirte about 30 nautical miles off Libya, Ariete Captain Gaspare Marrone said when he got back to this island halfway between Sicily and north Africa.

“We weren’t fishing at the time,” Marrone claimed.

Italy considers these waters international, according to several treaties, but Tripoli insists they are theirs and regularly repels or warns off vessels that stray into them.

Incidents like Sunday’s are fairly frequent although it is rare for a Libyan vessel to open fire.

In June Libya sequestered three boats from the Mazara fleet and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a friend of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, personally intervened to get them back.

The Ariete crew said they had had “a close call”.

“We’re alive thanks to a miracle,” crew member Alessandro Novara told ANSA.

“They fired like crazy and knocked some holes in us; it was lucky they didn’t blow up any gas tanks,” he said, pointing to a ricochet mark on one of the tanks.

Drawing his hand over the holes in the cabin, Novara noted that the Libyans “fired at head height”.

The Italian Coast Guard opened an investigation into the incident, saying it would look at the trawler’s GPS device to see where it was when it fired on. Lampedusa Port Commander Antonio Morana quizzed Captain Marrone on Monday morning and said “we will be examining the blue box”, the maritime equivalent of a black box.

In the past, Marrone has saved scores of becalmed or weather-threatened migrants in the Sicilian Channel and has obtained official recognition for his contribution to Italy’s rescue efforts, often in stormy conditions.

“The laws of the sea say you should help anyone in trouble, even risking our own lives,” Marrone said after saving 27 migrants in 2008.

In June 2008 Marrone and his crew received an award handed out by the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR to those who “show courage in saving human lives”.

Sunday’s incident became a political issue on Monday with the centre-left opposition calling on the government to report to parliament because of a hostile act by a nation with which Italy has a 2008 Friendship Treaty enabling migrants to be turned back.

“I suppose this is Gaddafi’s way of saying thanks” said one opposition member, Benedetto Adragna of the centre-left Democratic Party, referring to the red carpet rolled out for the Libyan leader and a blind eye turned to his Koran-wielding proselytising of hundreds of hired hostesses on his recent visit to Rome marking the Treaty’s second anniversary.

“Gaddafi comes to Rome and is received like an emperor by Berlusconi, and as a way of saying thank you the Sicilian fishermen are machine-gunned in international waters by his motor launches,” Adragna said.

“The government should put aside its realpolitik and condemn this violent and intimidatory act, devoid of all justification in international law, as soon as possible,” the PD Senator said.

Similar comments came from the government side, if only from abroad.

European People’s Party EMP Potito Salatto said: “On his trip to Italy Gaddafi asked the European Union for five million euros a year to block immigration and, in his words, ‘stop Europe turning black’. At this point I’m curious to find out how much he wants not to shoot at us”. FOREIGN MINISTRY ‘FOLLOWING’ CASE.

The Italian foreign ministry is “following closely” the case of a Sicilian trawler hit by gunfire from a Libyan vessel Sunday, the ministry said Monday.

The ministry said Foreign Minister Franco Frattini had instructed the embassy in Tripoli to ascertain the “exact dynamics” of the incident along with Libyan authorities, “in light of the close cooperation between the two countries”.

It also said procedures to reach an accord on marine resources, envisaged by the 2008 Friendship Treaty, should be “accelerated”. The centre-right governor of Sicily, Raffaele Lombardo, said the incident highlighted the need for an accord to prevent such clashes, an accord that “can no longer be put off”.

“Sicilian trawlermen must be given safety assurances,” Lombardo said.

According to international maritime law, territorial waters extend up to 12 miles from shore but in certain circumstances they can cover a “contiguous” area of 24 nautical miles.

International norms also stipulate areas which can be commercially exploited up to 200 miles from the coast, but only after international recognition.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya Trawler ‘Multiple Attempted Homicide’ Probe

(ANSAmed) — AGRIGENTO, SEPTEMBER 14 — Italian prosecutors are considering possible charges of attempted multiple homicide in Sunday’s incident in which a Libyan boat fired at head height on a Sicilian trawler, judicial sources in this Sicilian city said Tuesday.

A probe has been opened “against person or persons unknown” also on the basis of wilful damage to a vessel.

The shots, fired by an anti-immigration patrol boat carrying Italian finance guard officers as observers, strafed the side of the trawler and punched several holes in the captain’s cabin. The captain said Monday it was a “miracle” no one had been hurt.

Before opening fire the Libyan boat sent a radio message in Italian saying: “Stop or we will fire”.

The incident took place about 30 nautical miles off Libya in waters Tripoli considers their own but which are deemed international by several treaties.

Libya has apologised for the incident. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Reid Adding Amnesty Measure to Defense Bill

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he wants to attach an amendment to a defense policy bill that would help young people in the United States illegally become legal U.S. residents.

The Nevada Democrat said at a Capitol news conference that the legislation known as the DREAM Act is long overdue. He would not say whether he has the votes for the amendment. The act would allow young people who attend college or join the military to become legal U.S. residents.

The young people must have come to the country when they were under 16 years of age and have been in the country five years. Those who join the military must serve at least two years and complete two years of college.

Democrats have also promised gay rights groups an end to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy” that bars gays from serving openly in the military. That is in the bill that Reid said he will try to take up next week.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Roma: France: Another 69 Repatriated on Special Flight

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, SEPTEMBER 14 — Some 69 Roma people, including 12 children, arrived this morning at the Marseille-Provence airport in the Marseille region in the south of France to board a special flight to Bucharest, according to a reporter from France Presse.

Romanian company Blue Air provided a flight to carry out the “voluntary repatriation as part of a normal procedure”, said Alaint Testot, the territorial director of the French Office for Immigration and Integration. Out of the 100 Roma people who were expected, only 69 showed up to board the plane. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]