Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/29/2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/29/2008Of interest in tonight’s news items: mandatory internet censorship in Australia, fingerprinting of parents who pick up their children at school in the UK, the British Defence Secretary backs the creation of an EU army, and Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo are united in their opposition to the UN.

Oh, and a vampire moth has been discovered in Russia.

Thanks to Amil Imani, C. Cantoni, DJ, Insubria, JD, LN, RP, TB, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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USA
Arthur Laffer’s Supply-Side Gloom
Obama on Obama: I Picked Marxist Friends ‘to Avoid Being Mistaken for a Sellout, I Chose My Friends Carefully’
Will an Ohio Plumber Tip the Election?
 
Canada
Defence of Free Speech Must be Absolute: Advocate
 
Europe and the EU
EU ‘Imposing Too Many UK Laws’
German Anger Meets Swiss Wrath in Tax Row
Gothenburg Honours Nightclub Fire Victims
Moroccan Youths on the Streetby Political Editor John Tyler
Mortgage Crisis: G20; Frattini, Spain? it Can Defend Itself
Mortgage Crisis: G20, Diplomatic Offensive by Zapatero
Netherlands: ‘Researchers Stumble on Embryonic Terrorist Group’
New Defence Secretary John Hutton Backs EU Army
Sweden: Police Investigate Youtube Death Threat
Sweden: ‘End Peacetime Conscription’
UK: Parents to be Fingerprinted by Nursery Schools
 
Balkans
Bosnia: 8 Mln Euro From EU Fund for Female Entrepreneurs
Italy-Albania: Support for a Euro-Atlantic Direction, Frattini
Italy-Albania: Frattini, Tirana Acceptance Into NATO Soon
Kosovo: Local Albanians and Serbs Oppose UN Proposal
 
Mediterranean Union
Med: Young People Want to be Stars of Dialogue
Saharawi: Emilia-Romagna President Inaugurates Centre
 
North Africa
Egypt: Contract With European Agency on GPS Signals Signed
Oil: Libyan Central Bank, 45 Dollars Per Barrel in 2009
Oil: a Slump in Prices is Not a Risk for Algeria, Khelil
 
Middle East
Cartoons and Posters to Keep Arab Young People Away From Alcohol, Drugs, and Smoking
European-Style Reforms Save Erdogan From Constitutional Court Ban
Iran: Former Leaders ‘Paid to Attend Conference’
Theatre: Jordan; Honour Killing Portrayed in Play
Turkey-Israel: Industrial Zone Project Discussed
 
Russia
Russia: Vampire Moth Discovered
 
South Asia
Another “Honor Killing”: 17-Year-Old Pakistani Girl Murdered
Indonesia: House to Pass Porn Bill Despite Mounting Rejection
 
Far East
North Korea: Public Executions to Foster a Climate of Terror
 
Australia — Pacific
Australia to Implement Mandatory Internet Censorship
 
Immigration
Immigration: Melilla; Two Agents Chasing Back Migrants
Spain: Andalusian Town Chases Away Gypsy Community
 
Culture Wars
Italy: Government Pushes for Global Halt to Executions
 
General
Ex-Muslim Tells the Pope That Islam is a Religion of War
Honoring Cyrus the Great and His Charter
Israel Dodges a Bullet
Muhammad’s Great Adventure, the Movie
Oil: United Arab Emirates, Enormous Speculation on Price

USA

Arthur Laffer’s Supply-Side Gloom

[…]

Are the bailouts a bad idea?

The policy mistakes are classic. It reminds me of doctors in the Middle Ages. They’re bloodletters. When the [patient] gets sicker, they ask if they didn’t take enough blood.

           — Hat tip: RP[Return to headlines]


Obama on Obama: I Picked Marxist Friends ‘to Avoid Being Mistaken for a Sellout, I Chose My Friends Carefully’

Barack Obama laughs off charges of socialism. Joe Biden scoffs at references to Marxism. Both men shrug off accusations of liberalism.

But Obama himself acknowledges that he was drawn to socialists and even Marxists as a college student. He continued to associate with Marxists later in life, even choosing to launch his political career in the living room of a self-described Marxist, William Ayers, in 1995, when Obama was 34.

Obama’s affinity for Marxists began when he attended Occidental College in Los Angeles.

“To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully,” the Democratic presidential candidate wrote in his memoir, “Dreams From My Father.” “The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Will an Ohio Plumber Tip the Election?

by Robert Bidinotto

[…]

It seemed that everything was going Barack Obama’s way. The charmed and charming young man with the imperial manner was not only measuring the drapes of the Oval Office, he was no doubt shopping for new, presidential garb as well. . .

. . . until he met an Ohio plumber named Joe.

[…]

It is extraordinarily telling that the only true “maverick” in this political campaign is a self-made, hard-working, straight-talking homemaker who fought her own party to become governor of Alaska. It is equally extraordinary and revealing that the key philosophical argument against Barack Obama’s plan to “spread the wealth around” had to be raised and voiced not by some professor in a college classroom, but by a blue-collar American plumber in an Ohio suburb.

It is the intellectuals who have betrayed the American sense of life and rejected America’s founding principles of individual rights, free markets, and constitutionally limited government. Today’s “progressive” juggernaut is being propelled not by ordinary Americans, but by pampered elites and economic parasites: tenured leftist academics, rich Hollywood celebrities, entrenched regulatory bureaucrats, and tens of millions of recipients of the unearned fruits of “redistributionism,” from corporate welfare to college grants to food stamps.

Are there still enough Joes and Sarahs left in the country to stop the bipartisan lurch to the left that we have witnessed this year?

[Return to headlines]

Canada

Defence of Free Speech Must be Absolute: Advocate

Dean of civil liberties movement sees disturbing trend at rights commissions

EDMONTON — There’s not much that seems to faze Alan Borovoy when it comes to his infallible belief in a person’s right to free speech in Canada.

Groups that bash gays, women or religious organizations may be repugnant, but democracies must allow them to speak freely, insists Borovoy, the general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association who will give a speech in Edmonton on Wednesday.

But even for a 40-year veteran of the civil liberties movement, the ideals of free speech can occasionally clash with the realities of one’s heart. For Borovoy, such a clash occurred when the CCLA defended Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel’s right not to be muzzled.

“I was bothered by the number of Holocaust survivors I knew who would be hurt by what I was saying,” says Borovoy, 75.

“To know the things I was saying were so hurtful to people who had suffered so much already — that bothered me.”

But that’s still no reason not to support Zundel’s rights, he says, immediately afterwards.

As the longtime public voice of the CCLA, Borovoy speaks persuasively and passionately about contemporary attacks on civil liberties in Canada. He has written a handful of books on the topic and lectures widely across the country. And he is funny.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

EU ‘Imposing Too Many UK Laws’

The European Union passes too many laws and “goldplating” by Whitehall makes EU laws even longer, the TaxPayers’ Alliance has said.

The pressure group, which campaigns for lower taxes, said the EU had added an average of 942 new laws to the UK statute book each year since 1998.

These regulations were an “enormous burden to business” and Britain’s relationship with the EU needed a “serious rethink”, campaigners said.

In a report, the TaxPayers’ Alliance said the Government used EU directives as “vehicles for their own policy agendas”, attaching numerous additional clauses and extending their scope — a practice known as “goldplating”.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


German Anger Meets Swiss Wrath in Tax Row

The Swiss government has reacted angrily to a stinging attack on its banking secrecy laws by the German and French finance ministers.

Following its neighbours’ joint call for Switzerland to be added to a tax haven blacklist, the foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Germany’s ambassador to Bern to express its “surprise and discontent”.

“One does not treat a partner country in such a way,” Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said.

Calmy-Rey took exception to Peer Steinbrück’s “violent” language. The German finance minister spoke of “using the whip” against Switzerland.

“The choice of language is very unfortunate seeing as Switzerland is pursuing a partnership and dialogue with Germany … and the European Union,” she added.

France and Germany claim that Switzerland is encouraging tax fraud by refusing to exchange information for tax purposes, unless fraud has already been proven.

It is an issue that refuses to go away. Switzerland stubbornly defends its banking secrecy laws while other countries stamp their feet in annoyance.

Pressure

Frustrated at having potential tax revenue squirreled away in Switzerland, France and Germany have decided to increase pressure on their neighbour…

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Gothenburg Honours Nightclub Fire Victims

A memorial to the victims of the 1998 Gothenburg nightclub fire, which claimed 63 lives, will be unveiled on Wednesday night on the tenth anniversary of the blaze.

A torchlight procession is planned to march from central Gothenburg’s Gustaf Adolf’s square at 7:00pm and continue up to Backaplan near where the tragedy took place, and where the permanent memorial will stand.

The memorial, designed by artist Claes Hake, will be unveiled by young people from an association created for relatives of the fire victims, Brandoffrens anhöriga (BOA).

Scheduled speakers include former justice minister Thomas Bodström and representatives from BOA.

The fire broke out late in the evening of October 29th, 1998 in a warehouse near Backaplan in the Hisingen district of Gothenburg. The building belonged to a Macedonian immigrant organization.

The organizers of the evening’s club had told the site’s tenants that they were planning on having a “birthday party” for fewer than 50 people.

In reality, however, party planners had plastered surrounding neighbourhoods with poster and flyers advertising the event and had even sold tickets in advance.

On the night of the party, nearly 400 guests, predominantly teenagers with immigrant backgrounds, had arrived to dance and mingle in a room on the building’s fourth floor which was meant to hold no more than 150 people.

Shortly before midnight, smoke began pouring into the room from the emergency stairwell behind the stage where a DJ was performing.

Panic erupted shortly thereafter as hundreds of young people scrambled to make their way out of the only available exit, a single door just 90 centimetres wide.

All told, seven different fire stations were called in to battle the blaze which claimed the lives of 63 young people between the ages of 12 and 25. An additional 213 people were injured, 50 of whom sustained serious and life altering injuries.

As the fire took place at a time of heightened ethnic tensions in the city and claimed victims of a predominantly immigrant background, rumours swirled in the weeks following the blaze that it was a deliberate racially-motivated attack.

Posters appeared around Gothenburg proclaiming, “60 young immigrants have died, now 60 Swedes will die”.

Police and fire investigators eventually determined that the blaze was intentionally set by four young immigrants from Iran who were upset at having been denied entry to the event.

As an act of revenge, they set a small fire in the building’s fire escape.

The flames quickly spread when they reached a pile of chairs which had been placed in the stairwell to allow for enough room on the dance floor.

The four were convicted of arson in 2000. Three received prison sentences ranging from seven to eight years, while the fourth was sentenced to three years in a juvenile detention centre.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Moroccan Youths on the Streetby Political Editor John Tyler

If you had been watching the TV news in the Netherlands the past few months, you would have concluded that the country is facing a major social problem: groups of boys and young men of Moroccan background harassing people and causing trouble in the major cities and many large towns.

In the most recent case, in a neighbourhood of Gouda, a young Moroccan allegedly threatened a bus driver with a knife. When the public buses subsequently wouldn’t go through the neighbourhood, that proved one step too far for some politicians. Hero Brinkman, of the far-right Freedom Party, called for the Dutch army to be deployed in neighbourhoods to keep the peace.

Brinkman was alone in wanting to call in the army, but politicians across the political spectrum now advocate tough measures. And everyone from left to right agrees that public disturbances are more often caused by kids of Moroccan background than by other groups.

Hero Brinkman says the problems are caused by a culture clash…

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Mortgage Crisis: G20; Frattini, Spain? it Can Defend Itself

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 23 — “I think that Spain can defend itself and does not need Italy to defend it” said Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, answering journalists who asked if Italy could help Spain to gain a place at the G20 table, at a meeting of heads of States and Governments on 15 November in Washington to discuss the financial crisis. The minister pointed out that the G20 meeting was promoted by American President George W. Bush and Francés Nicolas Sarkozy. And that it was “the first exchange of views on the subject. So it will not be the last time that world leaders will meet. When Italy gets presidency of G8 (in 2009, Ed.) it is clear that we will decide on models, formulas and participation…”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Mortgage Crisis: G20, Diplomatic Offensive by Zapatero

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 24 — Spain has launched a frenetic diplomatic offensive “in all directions and at all levels” in order to participate in the international G20 confrerence on the crisis in the global financial system. The summit is scheduled to take place in Washington on 14 and 15 November. The Spanish government has begun meeting with members of the US Congress and the White House, but also with advisors of both the candidates for the US Presidency, Barack Obama and John McCain, apparently convinced that the one who is elected on 4 November will be present at the summit. In order to gain support, the premier, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has visited the Asia-Europe summit in Beijing where (according to El Pais sources) he has an appointment with the president, Hu Jintao, and probably also with the current leader of the EU, Nicolas Sarkozy. The diplomatic effort has also mobilised King Juan Carlos, who (alongside Zapatero) obtained the support of the Brasilian president, Lula de Silva, on 13 October during the presentation of the International Don Quixote prize to Zapatero. The support of Brazil is rendered more significant by the fact the country will be leading the G20. Juan Carlos, Zapatero and Lula will meet next week at the Iberian-American summit in San Salvador, which the Mexican president, Felipe Calderon, will also attend. Calderon has supported Spain’s bid to be included in the financial summit. “Spain must be there. The financial crisis will not allow frivolity or attention seeking: Zapatero must go to Washington”, ran the headline of the editorial in the El Pais newspaper today, which is closely aligned with the socialist government. Citing government sources, the newspaper underlines that the premier’s request to be present is not “capricious” but “a legitimate aspiration based on objective conditions”. The same sources have shown their hope that the opposition Popular Party, will maintain “a responsible attitude” and help towards the reaching of an objective that is “in the national interest”. In all the media today there are signs of the frenetic diplomatic activity of the Zapatero government, but at the same time there are is a string of circumstances that are against them. According to El Periodico de Catalynia, “for one thing the bad relationship between Bush and Zapatero, since the Spanish premier decided, quite reasonably, to pull troops out of Iraq”. But it is underlined that it would be “simplistic to attribute Spain’s absence at the summit to this personal matter”. “The Zapatero government”, observes the newspaper, “does not know how to weave a solid web of international complicity, partly because of the relatively scarce activity of the president in diplomatic tasks”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Netherlands: ‘Researchers Stumble on Embryonic Terrorist Group’

AMSTERDAM, 29/10/08 — Sociologists of the University of Groningen have stumbled on a group of Moroccan Muslims who want to follow in the footsteps of the Hofstad terrorist group, De Telegraaf newspaper reported yesterday.

“The sociologists discovered the embryonic terrorists in a study of the difference between Turkish and Moroccan radical Muslims,” the newspaper reported. “At least nine youngsters are involved, aged from 15 to 25” and all from Amsterdam. “According to the researchers, they are working at setting up a criminal organisation and do not shrink from violence to disseminate their ideas.”

The Groningen sociologists managed to get through to the group of Moroccans and hold interviews with them, researcher R. Balgobind told the newspaper. They stated they “see a clear solution in violence”, he said, and that they are supported financially in recruiting new members by organisations from abroad.

The group reportedly has been holding internal meetings on preparations for extremist actions. According to the university, these plans appear to be at an early stage but serious. “In view of our experiences with these youngsters and the way in which we came in contact with them, we do not consider they are boasting,” said Balgobind. The youngsters have not been arrested.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


New Defence Secretary John Hutton Backs EU Army

The new Defence Secretary, John Hutton, has backed the creation of a European fighting force, provoking anger from some who claim it will stretch our Armed Forces further.

Mr Hutton said the plan, which is one of the main priorities of French president Nicolas Sarkozy during his six-month European presidency, was “perfectly sensible”, provided it did not impact on Britain’s standing within Nato or compromise currennt operations.

But the Conservatives said it risked undermining Nato, while military welfare campaigners questioned how the force would be funded.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Sweden: Police Investigate Youtube Death Threat

Gothenburg police have launched an investigation into a video posted on YouTube, in which a masked man threatens to execute a number of people at a shopping centre in the city later this week.

A visitor to the YouTube site alerted police to the content of the video on Tuesday.

“We are taking the threats very seriously,” police spokesman Stefan Gustafsson told the TT news agency.

In the video, which is of very poor technical quality, a man wearing a hood, dark glasses and a scarf addresses the camera and speaks of his plans for a bloodbath at the Nordstan shopping centre.

“The nasty old men will be executed. October 30th, 12.30, Nordstan. I swear, they’re going to die,” he says.

“His voice is distorted and it is difficult in places to hear what he is saying, but the main thrust is that there will be people killed or murdered at Nordstan at lunch time on Thursday,” said Gustafsson.

Police said they were now focusing on identifying the person or people behind the video and securing the area in and around the shopping centre.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Sweden: ‘End Peacetime Conscription’

A government commission has proposed that Sweden abandon peacetime military conscription.

The commission’s investigation won’t be completed until the end of the year, but it plans to issue an interim report on Wednesday in order to help the government formulate its upcoming defence budget.

The Social Democrats, the Left Party, and the Centre Party have been the biggest supporters of compulsory military service.

But according to the TT news agency, the investigative commission is primarily interested in exploring a system which puts a halt to conscription during peacetime.

Conscription wouldn’t be scrapped altogether, however.

Rather, it would be made dormant until a threatening situation arose and the government could then approach the Riksdag for permission to quickly re-activate the programme.

However, the Social Democrats have criticized the commission’s work in a special statement added to the interim report, contending that the group only considered alternatives which involved ditching conscription.

Despite their frustration, however, the Social Democrats say they have no plans to leave the commission.

“We still want to have conscription,” said Social Democrat Anders Karlsson, chair of the Riksdag Committee on Defence.

The most challenging issue, which the commission plans to investigate further, is how the military should conduct recruitment.

Several parties want to end mandatory enlistment. The Armed Forces, however, want to continue with enlistment in addition to voluntary recruiting.

Such an arrangement presents some legal problems, however, in that a large number of people would be required to enlist when only a smaller subset will eventually be recruited.

The Left Party nevertheless wants to keep some form of mandatory enlistment.

“We don’t want recruiting to happen in the same way as it does for the police, which is based on interested candidates applying to the police academy,” said Gunilla Wahlén, the Left Party’s representative in the Riksdag defence committee.

The conscription commission is examining several less stringent forms of enlistment in place in other countries.

Today all young Swedish men must complete a questionnaire which appears in their mailboxes when they turn 17 in order to determine their qualifications for military service.

Those who are later called to perform military service are required to do so.

For women, responding to the questionnaire is optional, and even if they are found fit, women are not required to carry out military service.

The commission plans to continue looking into developing a completely gender-neutral system.

Of those who enlist today, approximately 5,000 eventually go through with military service.

At the same time as there are more candidates interested in military service than there are available spaces, some continue to be sent to prison for refusing to come when called.

General conscription is uncommon among countries in the European Union, but continues to exist in neighbouring Finland.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


UK: Parents to be Fingerprinted by Nursery Schools

Parents are to be fingerprinted when they pick their children up from nursery school, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Up to 50 nurseries and playgroups have already signed up for the new security measures, thought to be the first time parents have been targetted in this way.

Civil libertarians have branded the decision a “huge overeaction”.

The new entry system requires people who collect their children to place their finger on a scanner, to make sure that only nominated individuals can get through secure entrances.

Kidsunlimited, the nursery chain, will be rolling out the new technology to its 50 playgroups.

Honeycomb Solutions, the security firm behind the technology, say it is an effective way to monitor who is on their premises.

The scanners work by converting parents’ finger prints into a code number. This number enables the system to recognise the finger, without storing any biometric data.

The company claims that the database cannot be accessed by any human, similar to the way banks protect credit card pin numbers.

Peter Churchley of Caring Daycare, a group of eight nursery schools in Surrey that cater for children aged 3 months to 5 years, said: “We’ve had the Honeycombe Solutions fingerprinting technology installed in two of our nurseries.

“Parents have reacted very positively to the moves and the security is a reassurace that the premises are secure for recognised people. I do think a greater number of nurseries will be thinking about finger printing. We also have CCTV camera.”

Mr Churchley said that a package of five CCTV cameras and the fingerprinting systems costs £10,000.

The Government has issued guidance telling head teachers they have the right to collect pupils’ biometric data for security reasons…

[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Bosnia: 8 Mln Euro From EU Fund for Female Entrepreneurs

(ANSAmed) — SARAJEVO, OCTOBER 24 — Woman’s entrepreneurship in Bosnia Herzegovina will be given an impulse from the decision of the European Fund for south-eastern Europe to allocate, in its favour, 8 million euro. The financial agreement, according to reports from the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE) in Sarajevo, was signed with the microcredit organisation MI Bospo. The main objective of the contract is that of “sustaining the development of female entrepreneurship and of small and medium businesses guided by women entrepreneurs in the country”. The 8 million euro will be used for the distribution of loans to entrepreneurs who qualify. The collaboration of the Bosnian microcredit organisation with the European Fund for south-eastern Europe began in 2001 with the first finance contract for a value of 200,000 euro. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy-Albania: Support for a Euro-Atlantic Direction, Frattini

(ANSAmed) — TIRANA, OCTOBER 27 — “Italy will support Albania’s European and Atlantic ambitions” stated Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, on a visit to Tirana today for talks with Albania’s Foreign Minister, Luzmil Basha. There is “reciprocal interest” in this pathway, Frattini added. Laying out the conditions for approaching membership, he said that a “reform plan, which is underway” is necessary, and that “strong political will”, which is present on the Albanian side, would be required, along with, however, an European institutional framework. Italy’s Foreign Minister pointed out that the enactment of the Treaty of Lisbon is a pre-condition for new memberships, but pointed out that progress would be necessary in the meanwhile. “We are not awaiting the day which will see a completion of the European institutional process, but this country must, as it is doing, make progress day by day”. The Foreign Minister continued that nobody could guarantee that the Treaty of Lisbon would indeed come into force before European elections, but stressed that “our objective is that it is enacted one way or another by the end of 2009”. In this framework, Albania’s European prospects are “irreversible”. Speaking to Albanian authorities, relations between the two countries were described as “excellent by both sides” and Tirana’s Foreign Minister stressed “the enormous contribution” being made by Italy for its joining NATO and its approach to the European Union. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy-Albania: Frattini, Tirana Acceptance Into NATO Soon

(ANSAmed) — TIRANA, OCTOBER 27 — “In the council of Ministers we will approve the ratification of the agreement of acceptance of Albania into Nato in the upcoming weeks”. This was announced by Foreign Minister Franco Frattini today in Tirana, at the end of a meeting with Albanian Foreign Minister Luzmil Basha. “Until now Albania has benefited from security and now it has to provide security”, confirmed the Italian Foreign Minister speaking shortly after a conference of Albanian ambassadors with premier Sali Berisha present. Now said Frattini, the responsibility of Albania will not be that of “being helped, but to contribute to the stabilisation of the region between the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea which is crucial for Europe”. Frattini confirmed Italy’s support in the path of Albania’s acceptance into Nato which has to be ratified by the 26 countries of the Atlantic Alliance. Albania, together with Croatia, agreed on a protocol for acceptance into Nato on July 9th. The agreement will allow Tirana to enter and be part of Nato next year. Albania, added the head of Italian diplomacy, is a “country which we see today moving strongly towards Euro-Atlantic integration which will continue without stopping”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Kosovo: Local Albanians and Serbs Oppose UN Proposal

Pristina and Belgrade, 28 Oct. (AKI) — Majority ethnic Albanians and minority Serbs reached rare agreement on Tuesday, when both opposed reported moves by the United Nations to divide Kosovo administratively.

Local media reported that a special UN envoy, Andrew Ladley, had proposed Kosovo’s administrative division in order to win Belgrade’s acceptance of the European Union police and judicial mission (EULEX) which is due to replace the current UN administration (UNMIK).

The division was reportedly based on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s six-point plan regulating customs, border control, police, judiciary and the protection of religious heritage in Kosovo, whose ethnic Albanian majority declared independence from Serbia in February.

Under Ban’s plan, Serbs would have their own administration in northern Kosovo, where they have a majority.

In a letter to Serbian President Boris Tadic, Ban recently stated that EULEX would take a neutral stand over Kosovo’s independence — Belgrade’s main condition for accepting EULEX’s deployment throughout Kosovo.

But UNMIK spokesman Aleksandar Ivanko denied the reports, saying: “The UN envoy has made no proposals. We are just consulting with them (Belgrade and Pristina) and trying to help dialogue.”

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hasim Taci has said that EULEX should be deployed on the entire territory of Kosovo without any pre-conditions.

Similarly, Kosovo President Fatmir Seidiu said EULEX should be deployed “as soon as possible based on the Ahtisaari plan and without any conditions”.

A plan forged by Finnish diplomat Martti Ahtisaari formed the basis for Kosovo’s declaration of independence, but was opposed by Belgrade and blocked in the UN Security Council by Serbia’s key ally and veto-wielding permanent member, Russia.

While Serbs in northern Kosovo were leaning towards accepting its division, Serbs in isolated enclaves throughout Kosovo opposed the idea, saying it would only further complicate the problem, instead of solving it.

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

Mediterranean Union

Med: Young People Want to be Stars of Dialogue

(by Correspondent Fausto Gasparroni) (ANSAmed) — RENDE (COSENZA), OCTOBER 23 — The next generation wants to star in the dialogue in the Mediterranean, to contribute to the debate and the job opportunities which make up the “bricks” of a shared community. This was the message from the first MeYouMe-Mediterranean Youth Forum, taking place from today until Saturday at the University of Calabria in Rende as part of the fifth edition of Rexpò, Euro-Mediterranean Space for Social Responsibility, promoted by a number of bodies including the Forum for the Service Sector, the Centre for Voluntary Services, the Region of Calabria and local bodies. The first meeting comprising workshops and work groups with young people from the Mediterranean basin (while tomorrow the Euro-Mediterranean Conference on the Service Sector starts tomorrow) was outlined this afternoon in the opening session, which was the culmination of five years planning as a forum for young people in an area usually troubled by tension and friction, to allow young people to become “bridge-builders for friendship, cooperation and collaboration” said Annamaria Odoardi Bevilacqua, President of the organising cooperative Delfino Lavoro. “We strongly believe in dialogue between the youth of the Mediterranean, because real change can only come from them” said Noemi Ruzzi, Secretary of the National Youth Forum, demonstrating the role of the network which links 65 Italian associations to promote contacts and partnerships in training, access to jobs, and equal opportunities. Israeli pacifist Nava Eliashar of ‘Bat Shalom’ and ‘Women in black Jerusalem’ brought her own experience of life in the area (in the meeting young Israelis and Palestinians will work side by side). For Eliashar who says “words can also change the world”, in the Middle East “what is missing is not the wish to change: the problem is that we haven’t managed to win over other Israelis and Palestinians who are not convinced that we must have peace as we are”. She said that from the second Intifada “many voluntary groups tried to heal the wounds, to reach families whose homes were destroyed”. Even after the wall was built there are Israelis who try to help the Palestinians who find the road blocked when they need to go to hospital or cannot cultivate their own olive groves any more. “We hope that our small acts will accumulate, and form layers. When we find ourselves faced with a mound built of good connections between people it can make the difference”. The scenario of violations of human rights and a peace still far away was described by Gianni Novello, former national Vicepresident of Pax Christi, who concluded however that “peaceful coexistence in the Mediterranean comes from an ongoing twinning of associations, unions, visits and cultural exchanges, from relationships between Universities, from national liberation movements connected to pacifist ones, from cultures which make themselves heard starting from scratch, from positive contributions by small minorities. Civil society then, headed by young people creates hinges out of the current barriers”. An example of this is the hundreds of children from schools in Calabria who have joined together in Piazza Matteotti in Rende, for “Dear young European citizens” annual meeting for the growth of responsible citizenship and legality. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Saharawi: Emilia-Romagna President Inaugurates Centre

(ANSAmed) — BOLOGNA, OCTOBER 21 — Two workshops, fully-equipped. A warehouse, lecture theatres, a dormitory, kitchen, bathrooms and electricity. A real professional training centre at Rabouni in the western Sahara, will be inaugurated today by president of the Emilia-Romagna region during his mission to Algeria and to Saharawi refugee camps. The centre, dedicated to the late CGIL trade Unionist of Ravenna, Sauro Mantellini, will be an ‘incubator’ for the setting up of businesses managed directly by young people, in particular women. The objective is to prepare new teachers amongst the youth of Saharawi, with the help of Italian specialists, via two projects financed by the region. The first provides a workshop for sewing and assembling clothing, the second the creation of a micro-business for developing responsible tourism in the Saharawi camps. There are several partners involved in the project, including Emilia-Romagna charity Auser (leader), CGIL (national, Emilia-Romagna and Ravenna), Fillea and Nexus (Emilia-Romagna). Errani met the Italian Ambassador to Algeria, Giampaolo Cantini, for in-depth analysis on political and humanitarian themes concerning the Sharawi people. His second stop was the refugee camps at Tindouf with the Saharawi National Union Congress; after the visit to the projects completed in recent years by members of the regional board, Errani will take part in the dedication of the centre at Rabouni to the memory of Mantellini, and will meet ministers from the Saharawi government and President Mohamed Abdelaziz. The mission is a chance to further consolidate the friendship and plans for cooperation between the Emilia-Romagna community and the Saharawi people. The region is a sea of sand and rock, where temperatures reach 60 degrees in the summer and plunge below zero in winter, where well water is salt and life is extremely precarious. It is the Hammada, the Algerian desert near Tindouf, where around 200,000 refugees have been living since 1975. Each year the region finances projects destined for Saharawi for about 125,000 euro (an ‘international cooperation’ line of financing), with a further 100,00 euro added by the regional Civil Protection. Added to these is the assistance given by the council for health policy for treatment of Saharawìs children. An agreement was recently signed by the region and the Saharawi Minister for Cooperation to consolidate projects in the wilava (province) of Smara in the socio-sanitary field, for income-generating schemes and for women. There are two projects co-financed by the region which will be hosted at the Rabouni centre. The first will be a new garment sewing and assembling workshop, followed by training courses for two teachers by Italian specialists. The Saharawi teachers, after the training course, will pass on what they have learned to groups of women who will be organised so as to create small businesses. The second project will be a course for training personnel to form a micro-business for responsible tourism development in the Saharawi camps. A chance for tourism to be a tool for softening public opinion on the history of the Saharawi, for reinforcing and spreading the cultural heritage of the people of the desert, for developing the craft sector and of course, for creating job opportunities for young people. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Contract With European Agency on GPS Signals Signed

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, OCTOBER 23 — The Egyptian Air Navigation Company and the European Space Agency signed today a contract for establishing a back-up ground station in Alexandria for rectifying signals of the new Global Positioning System Attending the signing ceremony were Egyptian Minister of Civil Aviation Ahmed Shafiq and European Union Ambassador here Klaus Ebermann. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Oil: Libyan Central Bank, 45 Dollars Per Barrel in 2009

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 23 — The price of oil should be at around 45 dollars per barrel in 2009, according to estimates from the Libyan central bank which were circulated at a meeting of African central banks and reported by Bloomberg. For 2008, the Libyan central bank predicts that certified prices will be at around 65 dollars. Yesterday, futures shares in oil reached a low point of 66.2 dollars on the New York market. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Oil: a Slump in Prices is Not a Risk for Algeria, Khelil

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, OCTOBER 28 — The collapse in the price of oil “does not represent a risk for Algeria” according to the minister for Energy and president of OPEC, Chalib Khelil, the Algerian press reported, as the minister paid a visit to the Gassi Touil oil fields in the Algerian Sahara. “For it to be a problem for Algeria, the price of oil would have to stay at 60 dollars for three or four years”, he added, underlining that “what is happening today sets the scene for very high prices in the coming years”. Speaking of OPEC’s decision to cut oil production a few days ago, Khelil has reaffirmed that “the reduction, in reality not of 1.5 million barrels a day but of 1.8 million, will have an impact on the market and stabilise the price of crude oil”. “Either the markets have faith in OPEC”, concluded the president of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries “and prices will stabilise, or they do not have faith in us and we will act in such a way that they start to take us seriously”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Cartoons and Posters to Keep Arab Young People Away From Alcohol, Drugs, and Smoking

In the United Arab Emirates, a campaign has been launched illustrating the damage caused by bad habits. The cartoon has also been created for television, promoting positive behaviors.

Dubai (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Posters, television spots, and a website to encourage young people in the United Arab Emirates to practice positive behaviors, in order to reinforce social stability. This is the campaign launched by the police of Dubai, as illustrated by the deputy police chief, General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina.

The campaign also uses a cartoon, with a character called Saeed Hemaya (in Arabic, the name signifies protection) and his family who, on television programs, illustrate the problems caused by bad habits like smoking, drinking, and drugs.

There is also a website, hemaya.ae, promoting the same initiative, with images showing the damage caused by smoking, drug use (in the photo) and alcohol.

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


European-Style Reforms Save Erdogan From Constitutional Court Ban

In rejecting the request to dissolve the governing party and exclude its leaders from political life, the court had affirmed in July that the AKP is “the focal point of anti-secular activities,” but will not be dissolved because it is promoting the reforms requested by the EU, and those in favor of women and non-Islamic minorities.

Ankara (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party, the AKP, are involved in anti-secular activities, but have not been banned by the constitutional court, because of their efforts to apply European union reforms and promote the rights of women. The Official Gazette today explained the ruling, according to which in July Turkey’s highest legal body rejected the request to dissolve the governing party and ban its leaders from political life, as requested by the attorney general.

The accusation was that the party wanted to change the country from secular to religious, introducing Islamic law, which is contrary to the very foundation of the constitution as established by the father of the country, Kemal Atataturk.

The court acknowledges that the AKP is “the focal point of anti-secular activities” — the reason why it has been deprived of state funding and has received a warning — and that the prime minister, former speaker of parliament Bulent Arinc, and education minister Huseyin Celik “were involved in determined and intense activities” contrary to the article of the constitution that protects state secularism, but because they have promoted the reforms asked for by the EU, and in favor of women and non-Muslim minorities, they have not been banned.

The statements in the ruling could reignite the controversy between the proponents of secularism and the Islamists. A first taste of this could be in the publication, on Wednesday, of the reasons why the court rejected an attempt to overrule the law banning the wearing of the Islamic headscarf in the universities. The pro-Islamic Zaman says that Turkey is moving toward a “juristocracy,” quoting an expert on constitutional law who says that “the situation that has emerged today is more compatible with the definition of a juristocratic [administration of judges] regime rather than that of a democratic one.”

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


Iran: Former Leaders ‘Paid to Attend Conference’

Tehran, 28 Oct. (AKI) — Former United Nations’ Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Italy’s former Prime Minister Romano Prodi were among 15 delegates paid handsomely to attend an international religious conference in Iran earlier this month. The event was organised by Iran’s reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami (photo), according to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ weekly magazine Sobhe Sadegh.

“The 15 guests who attended Khatami’s conference received considerable sums. Kofi Annan alone was paid around 2.8 million dollars to take part,” the magazine claimed.

Sobhe Sadegh does not state how much Prodi was allegedly paid to attend the conference ‘Religion in the Contemporary World’, which took place in Khatami’s birthplace, Yazd, in central Iran.

Prodi also visited the Iranian capital Tehran in mid-October, where he met Iran’s Supreme leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, and its hardline President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The former Italian leader was criticised by some members of the current conservative government for meeting Ahmadinejad. Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said he would never have accepted such an invitation.

Prodi was Italian premier until his centre-left coalition lost the April general election to the conservative People of Freedom alliance led by Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s current Prime Minister.

Khatami was president of Iran from 1997-2005.

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


Theatre: Jordan; Honour Killing Portrayed in Play

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, OCTOBER 28 — A Jordanian play about honour crime hopes to break the wall of silence surrounding this socially sensitive issue, where tens of innocent women are killed every year in the name of honour. Characters tell stories of eight victims that have been slain by family members in incidents depicted from real life. One divorced girl was killed by a younger brother because the family suspected she was involved in a relation with a man. In another scene, a married woman says how her brothers killed her after learning she was in a romantic relation with her husband before they were married. The play, titled ‘Code of honour’ is the first kind of public approach to this issue. The first show was launched on Monday evening in Amman, as organizers said they hope to tour the kingdom to perform in front of young generation in the coming months. The controversial issue of honour killing is often brushed under the carpet in this male dominated society. Activists say even politicians refrain from speaking against it to avoid angering their constituencies, whose allegiances are often dictated by family ties rather than political ideologies. “Regrettably, honour crimes are on the rise these days in many countries including Turkey and many Arab countries, therefore we felt it was our duty to tackle this issue, to put an end to honour crime”, the director of the play, Lina Tall, said. “Killing is taboo in Islam and Christianity and you can see that honour crimes are also committed by Christians. It is an ideology to degrade woman and accuse her of absurd things, but she is killed for the those reasons,” she told Ansa. Every year between 15 to 20 women are killed in the name of honour in the kingdom, with killers often receiving between three to six months behind bars. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkey-Israel: Industrial Zone Project Discussed

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, OCTOBER 27 — Israeli President Shimon Peres praised Turkey as the most trustworthy country in peace initiatives and said Turkey was also respected by the Palestinians. His remarks, as Anatolia news agency reported from Jerusalem, came during a meeting with a visiting Turkish delegation from the Turkish Foreign ministry, led by deputy undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu. The talks centered on the efforts of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB), to establish an industrial park in the Palestinian Territories that would create employment for Palestinians. TOBB wants to create industrial zones in Tarqumia and Jenin and link them to world markets. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Russia

Russia: Vampire Moth Discovered

A previously unknown population of vampire moths has been found in Siberia. And in a twist worthy of a Halloween horror movie, entomologists say the bloodsuckers may have evolved from a purely fruit-eating species. Only slight variations in wing patterns distinguish the Russian population from a widely distributed moth species, Calyptra thalictri, in central and southern Europe known to feed only on fruit. When the Russian moths were experimentally offered human hands this summer, the insects drilled their hook-and-barb-lined tongues under the skin and sucked blood. Entomologist Jennifer Zaspel at the University of Florida in Gainesville said the discovery suggests the moth population could be on an “evolutionary trajectory” away from other C. thalictri populations. In January, she will compare the Russian population’s DNA to that of other populations and other species to confirm her suspicions. “Based on geography, based on behavior, and based on a phenotypic variation we saw in the wing pattern, we can speculate that this represents something different, something new,” Zaspel said.

“But it is really difficult to say without knowing genetic differences between individuals in that population, and among individuals from other populations, how different this group is going to be.”

           — Hat tip: DJ[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Another “Honor Killing”: 17-Year-Old Pakistani Girl Murdered

The young woman, accused of having an extramarital relationship, was mauled by dogs and shot to death by her uncle, who has the protection of the tribal court in the area. A land dispute was at the center of the killing. Unanimous condemnation from the political world; human rights associations call for justice.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — Another honor killing against a girl in Pakistan: the murder took place in the district of Khairpur, in the southern province of Sindh. It took place last March, although the news has come out only in the past few days.

Tasleem Solangi (in the photo), a 17-year-old girl, was accused without any proof of “immorality”: the young woman was accused of having an “extramarital” relationship, for which reason she was punished by relatives. From the initial reconstruction, it emerges instead that a land dispute was at the origin of the brutal killing. The girl was murdered solely in order to convince her father to sell.

On March 7, 2008, Tasleem was killed with shocking ferocity: first, dogs were released on her, biting her legs repeatedly, until she fell to the ground. The dogs continued to maul her until her uncle, Zameer Solangi, shot her to death with a pistol. Tasleem’s father had to watch helplessly as the massacre took place. He had been expected to sell some land to the uncle and his associates. The killing was also supported by a tribal judge in the area, Karim Bux, who exerted pressure on law enforcement to keep them from opening an investigation. In May, Karim gathered a jirga — tribal assembly — to judge the case, which “exonerated” the killers and “guaranteed them impunity.”

Gul Sher, the girl’s father, held a press conference in Karachi on Monday, October 27, denouncing the killing and calling for justice: he insisted that problems related to “a land dispute” were at the basis of the action, denying the charge of “immoral behavior” or infidelity on the part of his daughter. He also denounced the “false accusations” made against the young woman. Security forces have arrested her husband, Ibrahim Solangi, who has volunteered to confess to the crime.

The federal minister for women’s development, Sherry Rehman, condemns the action, calling it “an inhuman crime,” and promising that the government will do everything in its power to punish those who are guilty. The minister confirms that the uncle was responsible for the killing, following a land dispute with her father. The political world is also stigmatizing “honor killings,” a barbarous practice still widespread in some areas of the country, as a custom among the tribal cultures in power there. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Asian Human Rights Commission are calling upon the government to hand over those responsible to justice, and to defend the rights of the vulnerable.

The parents of the girl who was killed have issued an appeal to Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari and to the chief justice of the province of Sindh, asking for “protection” against possible new violence, and for the arrest of those guilty.

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


Indonesia: House to Pass Porn Bill Despite Mounting Rejection

Jakarta, 29 Oct. (AKI/The Jakarta Post) — Most factions in the House of Representatives are pushing for the controversial pornography bill to be passed Thursday, despite a threat by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) to boycott the move and rejection from several provinces.

The passage of the bill was made possible after eight of the 10 factions at the House accepted the draft Tuesday. The PDI-P walked out of the deliberation process and the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS) rejected it.

“Yes, we will pass the bill on 30 October,” chairman of the special committee deliberating the bill, Balkan Kaplale, said.

On Wednesday, leaders of all factions will meet House leaders to confirm the 30 October date for the House plenary session to approve the bill. Thursday will be the last sitting day before the House goes into recess.

Also on Wednesday, hundreds of demonstrators in Jakarta called on the government to pass the bill saying it was the only way to reverse signs of what they call ‘social-decay’.

Ninety percent of Indonesia’s citizens are Muslim and the vast majority practice a moderate form of the faith.

Meanwhile, the PDI-P walked out of deliberations for the second time after it was unsuccessful in its last-ditch attempt to change the definition of pornography and to remove an article that allows public participation in preventing pornography.

“We have been stretched to the limit to scrap acts from the definition of pornography and omit the public participation articles, but to no avail,” PDI-P lawmaker Eva K. Sundari said.

“Therefore, we are not part of the process and will not be responsible for it.”

The current draft defines pornography as “man-made sexual materials either in the forms of drawings, sketches, illustrations, photographs, texts, voices, sound, moving pictures, animations, cartoons, poetry, conversations, gestures, or other forms of communicative messages through various kinds of media and or performances in front of the public, which may incite sexual desire and or violate moral ethics in the community”.

Eva said the PDI-P rejected the definition and demanded that gestures and performances be excluded from the definition as they would limit many people’s activities under subjective interpretations and lead to many artistic performances being banned.

“Articles 21 to 23 allow for the public to play a role in preventing pornography. It will justify people taking the law into their own hands,” she said.

Eva said she had already received text messages from several groups saying they would ensure the law was enforced.

“It confirms our suspicion that it can spark conflict given that even though there is no law now, some groups have dared to attack others right under the nose of the police. What will happen if they take the law into their own hands?” Eva said.

The passage of the bill also defies official objections from some provinces, especially Bali, Papua and North Sulawesi.

“Why are we in such a hurry to pass the bill? It can be done after the break to allow for more compromises and communication to the provinces that reject it,” Eva said.

Last week, the House decided to delay the deliberation of the bill until after the break in late November because of the heated debate over the issue.

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

Far East

North Korea: Public Executions to Foster a Climate of Terror

The charge comes from a human rights expert, at the UN general assembly, highlighting the atmosphere of “intimidation” in the country. The government is blocking telephone calls outside of the country, and setting up sanctions against those who try to leave. UN-South Korea dispute over the food crisis in the north.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) — North Korea is using public executions to “intimidate” its citizens, and “the authorities have imposed restrictions on long distance telephone calls to block the spreading of news concerning the current food shortage.” The charge has been made by Vitit Muntarbhorn, a Thai expert on human rights, during the general assembly of the United Nations. He adds that the Pyongyang regime has imposed further “sanctions” against “people seeking to leave the country,” and is still holding “very large numbers of people” in concentration camps.

Muntarbhorn says that he has still not obtained an entry visa from the North Koreans since he was appointed to his post in 2004, but says that he trusts that in the future he will receive an official invitation. On personal liberties, he emphasizes that the latest reports reveal a campaign aimed at blocking “clandestine cell phone calls,” as well as television programs from South Korea. But the most disconcerting thing, the independent observer continues, is “the use of public executions to intimidate the public.”

Vitit Muntarbhorn also speaks of a “great disparity” in access to food rations between the elites and government officials and the ordinary people, who are deprived of food, active participation in political life, religious freedom, and basic human rights. And he says that those who try to protest or flee are blocked, persecuted, or locked up in the labor camps.

As for the distribution of aid, a group of South Korean activists claims that food rations are being given to the military, to the detriment of rural dwellers. According to the Buddhist association “Good Friends,” the government of Pyongyang has redirected funds provided for the countryside to the army, because otherwise there would not have been enough food for the troops.

Yesterday, the World Food Program denounced a “humanitarian emergency.” According to Jean-Pierre de Margerie, director of the program for North Korea, some provinces in the north are extremely vulnerable, and about 2.7 million people who live in the west will run out of food in October. The UN official says that international bodies must not wait for people to start dying of hunger before raising the alarm.

This claim was contested today by South Korea, according to which there is no risk of famine for the North Koreans. Kim Ho-nyeon, South Korea’s unification minister, says that there are no problems with the harvest this year. Citing figures from a report produced by South Korean government officials who visited the north recently, he says there is no serious food crisis, because weather conditions have been good, and there have been no devastating rains or floods like in 2007.

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

Australia — Pacific

Australia to Implement Mandatory Internet Censorship

AUSTRALIA will join China in implementing mandatory censoring of the internet under plans put forward by the Federal Government.

The revelations emerge as US tech giants Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, and a coalition of human rights and other groups unveiled a code of conduct aimed at safeguarding online freedom of speech and privacy.

The government has declared it will not let internet users opt out of the proposed national internet filter.

The plan was first created as a way to combat child pronography and adult content, but could be extended to include controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia.

Communications minister Stephen Conroy revealed the mandatory censorship to the Senate estimates committee as the Global Network Initiative, bringing together leading companies, human rights organisations, academics and investors, committed the technology firms to “protect the freedom of expression and privacy rights of their users”.

Mr Conroy said trials were yet to be carried out, but “we are talking about mandatory blocking, where possible, of illegal material.”…

[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Immigration: Melilla; Two Agents Chasing Back Migrants

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 29 — Two agents of the Civilian Guard were injured while they were trying to chase back, at 7am this morning another assault from migrants at the Melilla border, the Spanish enclave in Morocco. According to sources from the central government reported by the Efe press agency, they attempted to climb over the protective barriers, a double metallic chain link fence, 6 metres high, which about 12 sub-Saharan African immigrants tried to climb over, of which only three or four were able to enter into Spanish territory. This is the third assault which has occurred in Melilla in the last three days. The immigrants attempted to tried to cross the border to the point of the Oro River, between the two border posts of Mariguari and Farhana where the sub-Saharans were intercepted by agents of the Civilian Guard, and chased them to the river where fighting took place in which two soldiers were injured. Last Monday a group of about 65 immigrants made it by the border pass at Beni Enzar even if then 37 were intercepted and arrested in Spanish territory. The day after, another 20 tried to pass in Melilla, forcing the official border station. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: Andalusian Town Chases Away Gypsy Community

(by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 28 — Warnings about Spanish xenophobia are shaking Spain, after events in Castellar, a small town in Andalusia, about one hundred gypsies were chased away from the town. ‘‘We will not stop until every gypsy leaves’’, threatened the inhabitants of the town. In the meantime, according to sources in the police force reported by ABC newspaper, many of the gypsies expelled from Italy took up residence in Canada Real, a shantytown outside of Madrid, as well as in the communities surrounding Madrid of San Sebastian de los Reyes, and San Fernando de Henares, whose delegations to the central government have ordered to have them identified. At the origin of the ‘gypsy wars’ declared in Castellar, a town of only 3800 inhabitants in the province of Jaen, was a fight on Saturday night between young natives of the town and gypsies in the El Polvorin neighbourhood. The clash degenerated into a protest march, called on Sunday by inhabitants of the neighbourhood, who surrounded the area where the gypsies live, a community of about 100 people, and threw stones at them. The aggression and threats, according to reports from El Pais, caused many of the families to leave the town in terror, ‘‘some advised by mayor Pedro Magana, of the Psoe, others by their own will’’. Yesterday only two gypsy families remained in Castellar, protected by surveillance from agents of the Civilian Guard. ‘‘They have to go’’, yelled women, pounding on the door of the school where several gypsy children attend. Many inhabitants of the area have met again to form a committee to ask for greater security in the area. Another demonstration has been called for Saturday. The mayor has called for a joint meeting on security today: ‘‘It is not about throwing anyone out of the country’’, stated Magana, in an attempt to mediate with the population. Several of the families who were expelled re-entered their homes during the night, where they remain entrenched, protected by Civilian Guard patrols. But tensions remain high. In the meantime, in Madrid, the national police have noticed the arrival in the past weeks of dozens of gypsies coming from Italy, who settled in Canada Real, the shantytown neighbourhood where the Romanian population lives on the outskirts of Madrid, and in the town of San Sebastian de los Reyes. According to Abc, special agents in the fight against crime for immigrants coming from eastern-Europe noticed the presence of gypsies coming from Italy in the nomadic encampments of Fuentecillas, in San Fernando de Henares, in the industrial area of Madrid. Already in April, mayor Julio Setien, from the Izquierda Unida party had complained about the measures of the central government, which now has ordered the identification of new arrivals. The circumstances, noted the newspaper, would seem to confirm the words of the Italian Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, who in the beginning of October stated that a good part of the gypsies ‘‘spontaneously left Italy for Zapatero’s more lax Spain’’. At the Romanian embassy, it has been assured that the Romanian presence is much lower than what has been reported and that in San Sebastian de los Reyes only 48 gypsies have been counted, coming from the Italian peninsula.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Italy: Government Pushes for Global Halt to Executions

Rome, 10 Oct. (AKI) — Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (photo) on Friday reiterated the Government’s commitment to end executions worldwide.

“Minister Frattini expresses his strong support for moves worldwide to abolish the death penalty,” said a statement from Italy’s Foreign Ministry, released to mark the European day against the death penalty.

The Italian Foreign Ministry’s statement backed the resolution approved last year by the United Nations’ General Assembly calling on states to halt all executions immediately and enact bans on capital punishment in their legislation.

“Reports of the execution of minors and other vulnerable people are a particular cause for concern,” the statement said.

European Union leaders issued a declaration against capital punishment on Friday, demanding a global moratorium and an eventual ban on the practice.

“The death penalty constitutes a violation of the most fundamental of human rights: the right to life,” said an EU statement.

The 27-nation bloc has pushed hard at the UN to get states to back a universal ban on capital punishment.

The practice remains legal in Japan, the United States, Iran, Russia, China and Saudi Arabia, among other nations.

The Rome-based Hands Off Cain, which campaigns to stop the death penalty, estimated that China executed least 5,000 people in 2007.

Iran had the second highest number of executions, with 377 in 2007, according to campaign group Amnesty International.

The United States was fifth in the rankings with 42 executions, 11 less than in 2006, Amnesty said.

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

General

Ex-Muslim Tells the Pope That Islam is a Religion of War

Magdi Allam the Egyptian born ex-Muslim who the Pope had sensationally converted to Christianity on national TV last Easter, has come out against one of the Pope’s Cardinals, who has said that Islam is a religion of peace and that some Muslims have betrayed Islam…

[Return to headlines]


Honoring Cyrus the Great and His Charter

by Amil Imani

Once again October 29th is rolling around. And once again, free people all over the world celebrate the memory of Cyrus the Great, the author of mankind’s arguably greatest document, the first Charter of Human Rights. This benevolent king, ruling over a vast empire of diverse people, enshrined in the Cyrus Cylinder, nearly three millennia ago, the principles that define and protect human dignity.

It has been well over four years since the International Committee to Save the Archeological Sites of Pasargad initiated a massive celebration for the International Day of Cyrus the Great all over the world…

           — Hat tip: Amil Imani[Return to headlines]


Israel Dodges a Bullet

As the U.S. presidential election grinds slowly toward conclusion, the most significant foreign policy issue of our time… nuclear weapons in the hands of rogue states… rates barely a mention. The Democratic nominee, Barack Hussein Obama, has said that he would meet with friend and foe alike, anywhere, any time, and without preconditions… It represents a recklessness and a naiveté that is unparalleled in the post-World War II era and sends shivers up the spine of those who believe that idealists, children, and madmen should not be allowed to play with nuclear weapons.

Some have suggested that, if Obama is able to talk his way into an unthinkable electoral victory on November 4, the long term dangers of his presidency would almost certainly trigger an Israeli attack on Iran sometime prior to Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.

If the implications of a nuclear-armed sponsor of worldwide terrorism are not enough to make voters reject Obama, then they are either beyond fear or beyond rational thought. Three recent news reports, taken together, form the basis for a terrifying scenario.

…in an August 5 article titled, “While Diplomats Dither, Iran builds Nukes,” the former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Ambassador John Bolton, warns that, “The rationality of continued Western negotiations with Iran depends critically on two assumptions: that Iran is far enough away from having deliverable nuclear weapons that we don’t incur excessive risks by talking; and that, by talking, we don’t materially impede the option to use military force. Implicit in the latter case is the further assumption that the military option… remains equally viable a year from now as it is today. Neither assumption is correct.”

Taken together, these two reports describe what may be the most frightening international security threat in history. But it gets worse. There are those who, like Obama, think that we have a year or two to talk Iran out of any evil intent. But do we? Has Iran given even the slightest hint that they can be either contained or mollified? And just how close are they to actually pursuing their dream of an Israel-free world?…

           — Hat tip: LN[Return to headlines]


Muhammad’s Great Adventure, the Movie

Despite being a largish religion, movies about the founder of Islam are in short supply. It is apparently difficult to make a movie about a character who can’t be shown at all.

Muhammad, worship him or hate him, he changed the world. Some say for the better others will disagree vehemently. In 1977 Anthony Quinn starred in a movie “The Message” directed by Moustapha Akkad.

That film stirred up a great deal of controversy and protest from various fanatical elements of Islam. The protests included threats of blowing up the building housing the Washington D.C. chapter of B’nai B’rith if the screening of the movie wasn’t cancelled.

On Monday Oct. 27th, the announcement of a remake of the movie was made. Unfortunately Moustapha Akkad, who was also the Executive Director of the ‘Halloween’ series movies, is no longer available to work on the new film, having succumbed to his injuries in a Al Queda homicide bomb attack at a luxury hotel in Amman Jordan in 2005…

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Oil: United Arab Emirates, Enormous Speculation on Price

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 24 — On the price of oil “there has been enormous speculation” and “we are pleased that these troublesome financial instruments present until recently on the market have been destroyed”. The statement was made by the President of the Parliament of the United Arab Emirates Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, on an official visit to Italy during a press conference organized by Adn-Kronos International. “No one can say what the right price of oil is”, added Al Ghurair — it should be tied to the purchasing power of the barrels. In any case the role of OPEC is exactly to stabilize the price of crude and guarantee that there isn’t an surplus in the offer”. “The United Arab Emirates — he concluded — have a reserve of oil that could last for 200 years but we are in favour of low oil consumption to fight pollution and to allow the reserve to last 400 years. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

2 comments:

David said...
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David said...

On the subject of the USA, you guys read this one?

It's from what appears to be a prominent Democrat speech writer, and why she's not voting for Obama. Well worth the read, I thought.