Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/18/2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/18/2008The most ominous news story tonight: “IAF is Ready for Iran’s Nuclear Sites”.

A period of great peril for Israel is fast approaching. Assuming that the mullahs have a nuclear capability, the most dangerous time will likely be between the inauguration of Barack Obama — when the United States will cease to be a credible deterrent to Iran — and the election of a Likud government in February.

Thanks to Abu Elvis, C. Cantoni, Fausta, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, RRW, spackle, Steen, TB, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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USA
Hillary Clinton to Accept Obama’s Offer of Secretary of State Job
MSNBC Backs Barack, Gets $139 Billion Government Loan Guarantee
Obama Picks Presidential Assassin’s Lawyer
The Soros Connection to Minnesota Vote Count
Virginia Physicist Pleads Guilty to Illegally Exporting Space Launch Data to China
Where Whiteness Meets Race
 
Europe and the EU
DPP: Grotesque Extremism Plan
Italy: Miracle Pup Clings to Bonnet
Law on Memory Changes the Face of Spain
Little Support for Expanding Sweden’s Presence in Afghanistan
Misleading Nature of the Question Asked in Irish Times Opinion Poll on Lisbon
Missing Natalie Bracht and Daughters Made Getaway in ‘Muslim Dress’
Muslims and Newly Arrived Refugees in Södertälje, Just South of Stockholm, Are Being Subjected to Harassment and Hate Crimes, According to Police.
Obama: Berlusconi, My Support of the USA Will be Total
Romanian Child: Mussolini, Hearing in Parliament Soon
UK: Father’s Fury After He is Held in Cells for Smacking His Seven-Year-Old Son
Vagrants Become Police Assistants in Amsterdam
Witches Help Lift Sweden’s Job Loss Curse
 
Balkans
Commerce: After Serbia, Ikea Invests in Croatia
Kosovo: Italy Supports Agreement for Eulex Deployment
 
Mediterranean Union
Italy-Libya: Casini, No Oblivion Drama of Expelled Italians
M.U.: Meir, Project Sarkozy? Good, But Better Not Political
Med: Bosnian Writer Matvejevic Sceptical on UFM Future
Mediterranean: Fes/Strasbourg, Renewed Cooperation
PNA: 750.000 Euro From EU to Palestinian Election Commission
Spain: Zaragoza Bans Dwarf Bullfighters, Controversy
The Mediterranean Population: Numbers and Percentages
 
North Africa
Algeria: 2,000 Chinese Workers to Finish East-West Motorway
Islam: Kissing Minor Sin, Egyptian Religious Scholar Says
 
Israel and the Palestinians
‘IAF is Ready for Iran’s Nuclear Sites’
Mideast: East Jerusalem;Water to Arab Houses, More Demolition
 
Middle East
Bahraini Prince Sues Michael Jackson in UK
Human Rights: Turkish Activist Tortured to Death, Report
Iraq: NGOs Concerned About Detainees’ Rights
Saudi Arabia: Asian Immigrant Forced to Clean Mosques for ‘Skipping Prayers’
Turkey Ranks Low in World Gender Equality Index
 
Russia
Russian Newsweek Gets Warning for ‘Insulting’ Muslims
 
South Asia
50,000 Hindu Fundamentalists Demonstrate in Favor of Religious Intolerance
Hindu Extremists Attack Pentecostal Church in Mumbai
Indonesia: W. Papua and Bali Unite Against Porn Bill
Taliban: We May Attack Paris
 
Latin America
Bolivian President Says He Won’t Let DEA Come Back
Nuclear: Agreement Signed Between Algeria and Argentina
 
Immigration
Immigration: Woman Trampled to Death in Crush at Melilla
Survey: Americans, Europeans Divided on Immigration as Problem or Opportunity
Sweden Taking in Record Numbers of Immigrants
 
General
Filmmakers Taking on Our ‘Global Warming Hysteria’
Murdoch to Media: You Dug Yourself a Huge Hole

USA

Hillary Clinton to Accept Obama’s Offer of Secretary of State Job

Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration, the Guardian has learned.

Obama’s advisers have begun looking into Bill Clinton’s foundation, which distributes millions of dollars to Africa to help with development, to ensure that there is no conflict of interest. But Democrats do not believe that the vetting is likely to be a problem.

Clinton would be well placed to become the country’s dominant voice in foreign affairs, replacing Condoleezza Rice. Since being elected senator for New York, she has specialised in foreign affairs and defence. Although she supported the war in Iraq, she and Obama basically agree on a withdrawal of American troops.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


MSNBC Backs Barack, Gets $139 Billion Government Loan Guarantee

JIM PINKERTON: Well, Matthews is entitled to his opinion, although if he wants to run for the Senate in Pennsylvania in 2010 as has been widely reported he should resign and not have a platform on the air.

But I think that the overall culture of MSNBC was established when they changed their slogan, post-election, to “The Power of Change” [another story NB was first to report]. Now, that sounds a little bit familiar to the Obama campaign “Change We Can Believe In.” Maybe that’s not an accident.

But of course, I think the big story here, I think it goes right to what MSNBC’s up to as a strategy, is the news that the FDIC, which is now following election returns, is guaranteeing $139 billion of General Electric Capital debt. That’s General Electric Capital, as in General Electric, which is the parent company of MSNBC, CNBC, NBC. Now, for a $139 billion guarantee, I’d consider, I’d probably go more, I’d probably go all the way over to the Olbermann/Maddow territory. $139 billion.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama Picks Presidential Assassin’s Lawyer

Gregory Craig selected as White House counsel

Besides defending Clinton through the impeachment process, an effort that Craig lost, who else had the benefit of Craig’s counsel?

  • Elian Gonzalez’s father — Craig represented the father who demanded the return of his son after his estranged wife died trying to take Elian to freedom. Most people saw this as a thinly-veiled publicity stunt from Fidel Castro, attempting to embarrass the US. The dispute got resolved when Janet Reno ordered an armed assault on the house where Elian’s family in the US provided him a home.
  • John Hinckley, Jr — Craig presented and won the insanity defense that allows Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin to spend weekends with his family now.
  • Kofi Annan — The former Secretary-General of the UN hired Craig to defend his interests in the Volcker Commission probe of the Oil-for-Food scandal, which put billions of dollars into Saddam Hussein’s pockets while providing cash for Annan?s son, his deputies, and some allege Annan himself.
  • Pedro Gonzalez Pinzon — A Panamanian legislator wanted for murdering an American soldier in 1992. The Dallas Morning News demanded that Obama force Craig to drop the case during the campaign, but no report of whether he did is easily available.

I doubt that any President has selected the defender of a presidential assassin as White House Counsel before now. Does anyone want to guess how long that takes to become a Trivial Pursuit question?

Given Craig’s dubious client list, especially Gonzalez Pinzon as an apparent active client, this selection is a disgrace. The last person we need in the White House is an attorney who represented assassins, Castro and his goons, corrupt UN executives, and a suspected killer of an American soldier. Those are the people the White House should focus on stopping, not embracing.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


The Soros Connection to Minnesota Vote Count

Ed Lasky follows the money involved in still-brewing Senate contest

We have written several times the rising influence of the Democracy Alliance, a network of wealthy Democratic activists who have formed a network designed to influence the course of American elections and policies. Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros is one of the founders of this group, but he has joined with other billionaires, such as insurance magnate Peter Lewis and Herb and Marion Sandler, founders of Golden West Financial (sold to Wachovia) Soros, Lewis, and the Sandlers form the core of a network of wealthy activists and Democrat partisans making up Democracy Alliance.

The canny billionaires realized that they could magnify their power by working in unison and tapping other wealthy donors to further their agenda (the superb Boston Globe article “Follow the money” is a good primer on how money and 527 groups have come together to have a huge impact on politics in America). The Democracy Alliance has helped fund a constellation of groups, including the controversial Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) that has been mired in a series of voter fraud cases.

The Democracy Alliance is a major avenue to help the left wing would-be plutocrats achieve their goals. Its growing membership roster consists of billionaires and mere multi-millionaires who collectively hope to give upwards of 500 million dollars each year to further promote a left-wing agenda. A partial roster of the Democracy Alliance membership can be found here. Directors also include union leaders with access to union funds to engage in politicking. The politically hyper-active Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is engaged in these efforts, too.

[…]

One part of the political strategy of the group has been a project called the Secretary of States Project. The goal has been to help elect Secretaries of State in targeted states across the nation. The SoSP was successful in, among other places, Ohio and Minnesota. Secretaries of state are crucial in elections, since these officials are charged with ensuring the integrity of the voting and counting process. They are the gatekeepers: helping to decide who is entitled to vote and who is not. In Ohio, the Democrat Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner was widely criticized (at least among Republicans) for her efforts in the last few months, which were perceived to favor Barack Obama.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Virginia Physicist Pleads Guilty to Illegally Exporting Space Launch Data to China

Shu pleaded guilty to a three-count criminal information. Count one alleges that from January 2003 through October 2007, Shu violated the Arms Export Control Act by willfully exporting a defense service from the United States to the PRC without first obtaining the required export license or written approval from the State Department. Specifically, the information alleges that Shu provided the PRC with assistance in the design and development of a cryogenic fueling system for space launch vehicles to be used at the heavy payload launch facility located in the southern island province of Hainan, PRC.

The space launch facility at Hainan will house liquid-propelled heavy payload launch vehicles designed to send space stations and satellites into orbit, as well as provide support for manned space flight and future lunar missions, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case. Among those PRC government entities involved in the Hainan facility are the People’s Liberation Army’s General Armaments Department and the 101st Research Institute (101 Institute), which is one of many research institutes that make up the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, as overseen by the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for the National Defense, according to the criminal complaint.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Where Whiteness Meets Race

The Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere — yes it’s real — tackles the notion of white privilege and white people’s responsibility to challenge racism, but can it help move people beyond race?

The Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere was fired up at its conference in downtown Los Angeles last month.

“Reject the Hate in ‘08” was their rally cry at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center near MacArthur Park.

“White privilege,” one speaker said, “is the enemy of equality.”

“We have to maintain our activism,” warned another, “and not let whiteness overtake us.”

The crowd — mostly young and white, with a hippie vibe — applauded as the small corps of self-described “anti-racist whites” tried to introduce them to their hidden racist ways. The peasant skirts, political T-shirts and revolutionary cries made me feel like I’d wandered back in time, into a radical chic salon.

But I clapped too, because it was nice to hear white people talk publicly, bluntly, about race. And not pretend to be colorblind.

Where whites get real about race

A month ago, their worries made sense.

The effigies of Barack Obama hung on college campuses in Oregon and Kentucky, the vile rants on right-wing blogs and attempts to divide the country by “us” and “them” had stoked my own fear that racism would doom Obama’s candidacy.

Then millions of white voters helped make Obama the nation’s first black president.

And I thought I’d take a second look at the group’s mau-mauing.

What are “anti-racist whites,” anyway? Why do they need their own club? Is this progress, or a throwback to the 1960s-era identity politics?

On Monday, I interviewed Clare Fox, an urban planning student at UCLA who spoke at the meeting. Her talk about whites’ responsibility to challenge racism had struck a chord in me. For too long, minorities have done the heavy-lifting — explaining, excusing, fuming silently.

Fox, 26, grew up in the San Fernando Valley. She had “feminist leanings” in high school, at the Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, but was blind to the notion of white privilege…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

DPP: Grotesque Extremism Plan

The Danish People’s Party will not support proposals from the Integration Minister for more dialogue with extremist Muslims.

The Leader of the Danish People’s Party Pia Kjærsgaard has flatly refused to consider new proposals from the Integration Minister for a new course in dealing with Muslims who have extremist views.

“It is unbelievably naïve of Birthe Rønn Hornbech (Lib) to put forward a plan like this. Unbelievable that the government tells us again that dialogue is the way forward in dealing with extremism and we have to accept it. This has nothing to do with what we have agreed in the budget, and the Danish People’s Party will fight to make sure that Birthe Rønn Hornbech’s course is not the one to be followed,” says Kjærsgaard.

Carpet pulled

Kjærsgaard’s remarks have finally pulled the carpet out from under Hornbech who is currently finalising the government’s plan on how to combat extremism.

The plan was expected to be introduced in 2009, but there are also problems within the government. In today’s Jyllands-Posten, Honrbech’s party colleague Minister for Social Affairs Karen Jespersen (Lib) says she finds the proposals ‘alarming’.

“I am sure that (Birthe) Rønn (Hornbech) doesn’t have support for this policy,” Kjærsgaard says.

Plan

The plan put forward by the Integration Ministry calls, among other things, for more subdued language when dealing with extremists, a dialogue forum with extremist Muslims and Muslim study groups in prisons to use the Koran to get Muslims off drugs and crime.

“It is grotesque to expect us to be censored. The DPP will never accept that. The strength (ED:of the Danish system) sincce 2001 has been precisely our way of calling a spade a spade. Immigration policy has not been taboo. We have been able to speak freely. So subdued rhetorik — forget it,” says Kjærsgaard.

She adds that her party will not support the idea of Muslim study groups in prisons either.

“You must be joking. Completely hopeless of the Integration Ministry to put forward such a proposal. No way. Not with our votes,” Kjærsgaard says.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Italy: Miracle Pup Clings to Bonnet

A miracle pup clung to a speeding car for more than 15 miles after being knocked down.

The motorist, Marco Menozzi, didn’t even stop when he mowed down the one-year-old pooch while doing 70mph on a side road in Cozze, southern Italy.

But he hit the dog so hard he was embedded in the grill under the bonnet of the Peugeot 207 and managed to cling on until the car eventually stopped.

Vets have treated the stray for a broken leg and bruising and he’s now in a police pound looking for new owner.

“He’s a very lucky boy. He was saved because he was hit so hard. Any softer and he would have bounced off the car and been crushed under the wheels,” said a police spokesman.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Law on Memory Changes the Face of Spain

(by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 17 — The mighty cross rising from the Valley of the Fallen in the desert of Guadarrama is no longer a Francoist symbol: yesterday the Guardia Civil and the national police barred access to the mausoleum to the blue-shirts who, as every year on November 20, were making a pilgrimage to pay homage at the tombs of the founder of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, and Francisco Franco. It was the first time since the end of the dictatorship and the start of democracy that a mass deployment of police has stopped access to the area by Francoist flags and the Falangist symbols used by the blue-shirts to mark the November 20, the day when the generals who started the Civil War and the dictatorship came to power, and the anniversary of the death of Primo De Rivera. The private cars and two buses carrying hundreds of Falange militants were seized and all the ‘ideological’ material confiscated, following the Law on historic Memory, passed in 2007 and in effect from this year; in particular, article 16, which states that “acts of a political nature or the exaltation of the Civil war, its leaders or Francoism may not take place in any part of the Valley of the Fallen”. One of the 9 articles which were also passed by the Popular Party, which was against the whole law, sets a new regulation of the imposing mausoleum to “rehabilitate the memory of all the fallen of the Civil War and those who suffered repression”. The monument was set up by Franco with a decree in 1940. The judicial inquiry on Francoist crimes, ordered by the National Tribunal judge Baltazar Garzon, ordered the exhumation of several republican victims — there are 34,000 people buried there — first buried in communal graves and then taken to the mausoleum for the inauguration by the regime in 1958. The inquiry has been stopped due to an appeal. In the meantime, the law supported by the Socialist Government of Zapatero, which is “just the beginning” according to the Associations for Historic Memory, who are calling for a more active role by the State in identifying Francoist crimes, is cancelling out little by little the ancient legacies of the dictatorship. Outraged by the ban placed by police, militants from the Falange Española and Jons, the Partido unificado of Franco, still legal today, tried to take part in the religious ceremony which took place in the Basilica of Santa Cruz inside the mausoleum. There was no reference to Primo De Rivera or Franco during the sermon, unlike previous years, when the priest said “Not often has a nation put out the light of its memory so abruptly”. Some organisers of the homage went to Madrid after the religious ceremony, to the headquarters of the PSOE, to take part in an authorised demonstration, chanting slogans against Baltazar Garzon and the socialists: “Zapatero and Garzon are murderers”, “Therés censorship, great dictatorship!”. Then after singing the Francoist hymn “Cara al sol” the demonstrators dispersed without incident. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Little Support for Expanding Sweden’s Presence in Afghanistan

Most Swedes do not wish to see an increase in the size of the country’s force in Afghanistan, according to a new study.

The government has proposed increasing the number of Swedish troops in Afghanistan to 500 soldiers.

Currently, Sweden has around 375 troops stationed in the central Asian country, according to the Armed Forces.

But the results of a poll conducted by the Sifo polling firm on behalf of Sveriges Television reveals that the idea of sending more soldiers to Afghanistan isn’t popular among the Swedish public.

Of those asked, only 17 percent thought that Sweden should send more soldiers, while 36 percent responded that the current force was sufficient.

Nearly four in ten respondents, 37 percent, wanted the government to bring Sweden’s troops home, reports Sveriges Television.

The study consisted of 1,000 telephone interviews carried out between November 10th and 13th.

Respondents were asked if the number of Swedish soldiers in Afghanistan should be kept at present levels, if Sweden should send more troops in line with the government’s proposal, or if all the soldiers should be brought home.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Misleading Nature of the Question Asked in Irish Times Opinion Poll on Lisbon

The planned deception envisaged for a Lisbon Two referendum becomes clearer

Any Lisbon referendum re-run must be on exactly the same Lisbon Treaty as the Irish people voted No to last June.

This crucial fact is concealed or glossed over in today?s Irish Times poll and in Foreign Minister Micheal Martin?s comments on it.

Not a jot or tittle — not a comma — of the text of Lisbon can be changed, for otherwise it would be legally a new Treaty which would have to go around all 27 EU States for ratification again.

The Declarations referred to in the Opinion Poll question are different from Protocols in that they are not legally part of a Treaty. Declarations are political statements made by one State or several. They are not international agreements between States which are legally binding on them(See Irish White Paper definitions below).

Protocols are legally part of a Treaty. There will be no Protocols for Ireland over Lisbon, for that would be to reopen the Lisbon Treaty and would require all 27 EU States to ratify the new Protocol, which would in effect be a new Treaty

A Declaration or political commitment that every Member State would keep a national Commissioner under Lisbon does not require any change in the Lisbon Treaty, for the existing Lisbon text(Art.17.5 amended TEU) allows the 27 Member States to agree to such a step unanimously in 2014, if they decide at that time not to reduce the Commission by one-third, which Lisbon otherwise envisages.

Contrary to what the Irish Times poll misleadingly asked its interview sample, Lisbon does not need to be ?modified? or changed in the slightest for these Declarations to be made or for a political commitment to be given that each EU State will keep one of its nationals on the EU Commission indefinitely.

The Irish Times opinion poll question was this: ?If the Lisbon Treaty is modified to allow Ireland to retain an EU Commissioner and other Irish concerns on neutrality, abortion and taxation are clarified in special declarations, would you vote Yes or No in another referendum??

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Missing Natalie Bracht and Daughters Made Getaway in ‘Muslim Dress’

A woman who fled with her five daughters when she learnt that they could be taken into care disguised them with robes and headscarves to make her getaway.

Natalie Bracht and the girls, aged 5 to 13, have been avoiding the authorities since leaving their home in Sunderland in May.

Yesterday the High Court gave permission for photographs of the children to be released in the hope that someone will recognise them. The pictures include images from a CCTV camera at King’s Cross Station that show the family wearing Muslim-style clothes shortly after they left.

Miss Bracht, who is said to suffer from a “histrionic personality disorder”, moved to Britain from Dusseldorf in 2006. She ran off after a panel of medical experts said that they were concerned for the childrens’ welfare.

Police and social services in Sunderland have issued renewed calls for information about their whereabouts.

The family spent some time in Harlesden, northwest London, before moving to a commune near Yeovil in the West Country, from which they fled after police were alerted. The last confirmed sighting was on a bus from Exeter to the Dartmoor village of Moretonhampstead in July.

Miss Bracht, 35, speaks English with a German accent and is believed to have talked people into helping her by claiming to be the daughter of a Libyan scientist whose life is in danger…

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Muslims and Newly Arrived Refugees in Södertälje, Just South of Stockholm, Are Being Subjected to Harassment and Hate Crimes, According to Police.

The attacks have been concentrated in the town’s Hovsjö district and police believe that youth gangs comprised of members with different immigrant backgrounds are responsible.

In the past year, Södertälje has gained international recognition for the large number of Iraqi refugees who have settled in the city, resulting in the town being dubbed “Little Baghdad”.

Hovsjö is known as a multiethnic neighbourhood with a high concentration of residents with non-Swedish backgrounds.

“They don’t realize the terror they are spreading to the families. What we used to call mischief when we were younger has crossed over to pure hate crimes,” said the police’s Thomas Mattisson to the Länstidningen newspaper in Södertälje.

The newspaper described several cases reported to police, including that of a 5-year-old who was attacked by a gang of young people aged 8 to 17-years-old, and adults who poured urine into mail slots of apartments occupied by Muslims.

Authorities have long been aware that newly arrived Muslims have been targeted by groups of Christian immigrants, but more recently Iraqi Christians have also been the victims of hate crimes.

Hovsjö resident Louris Kalo, a non-Muslim native of Syria, was the victim of an attack in which a group of 30 or so young people threw eggs at her apartment and wrote offensive words on her door.

She works as a hairdresser and has received protection from the Securitas security company and the police in order to get home after work.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Obama: Berlusconi, My Support of the USA Will be Total

(AGI) — Rome, 11 Nov — “My support for the new US Administration will be the most complete and fervent that is possible”. Thus Silvio Berlusconi explained, returning to the joke he made towards Obama. “You have seen how one of my displays of affection, one of my kind words, was transformed into something insulting, even compared to Nazism. I even called them wretches and imbeciles” the Prime minister stressed.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Romanian Child: Mussolini, Hearing in Parliament Soon

(AGI) — Rome, 17 Nov. — The case of Gratian Gruia, the Romanian child repatriated last October 27, is waiting for the bi-chamber commission on childhood. The radicals have asked for a hearing to listen to the stories of those involved in the agonising issue. Little Gratian was deported to Romania thanks to a sentence from the Minor’s Court in Rome, despite the contrary opinion of the public magistrate and a children’s centre, from which a physical and psychological report on the child was requested. The hearing has not yet been scheduled, but the president of the bi-chamber commission on childhood, Alessandra Mussolini, assured that it would take place “as soon as possible”. According to the radical elected by the PD, Elisabetta Zamparutti, from the hearing guarantees should arrive that the case of Gratian remains an “isolated” incident and that “information on the prospects for a possible serene future for Gratian based on this country’s policies on the subject of unaccompanied minors”, beginning from the negotiations between Italy and Romania on the ways of actuating the agreement signed in June between the two counties for the repatriation of unaccompanied minors.ò The radicals suggest that the minister of justice, Angiolino Alfano, should be listened to, as well as the foreign and interior ministers, Franco Frattini and Roberto Maroni, Elisabetta Casellati, the undersecretary of justice and delegate for minors, Simonetta Matone, public minister of the case, Antonio Ceccardi, director of the “Tetto Azzuro” centre (or of the same doctors that examined the child) which created the report for the Minor’s Court, Isabella Foschini, regent of the Minor’s court of Rome, Patrizia Barbalucca, director of the “La valle dei fiori” home where the child was residing, and Mino Damato, journalist and president of the “Children in Emergency” Foundation, which has created a village just outside of Bucharest for abandoned children. The child, abandoned by his mother and beaten by his grandmother to beg in the streets of the capital, was found in desperate conditions by law enforcement authorities and given to a family; when he was sent back to Romania, a country in which he cannot speak the language, he was gradually readapting.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UK: Father’s Fury After He is Held in Cells for Smacking His Seven-Year-Old Son

A father is demanding an apology from police after he spent a night in a cell for smacking his son.

Mark Frearson, 47, was arrested on suspicion of assault after he slapped his seven-year-old son Harry on the back of the legs.

Mr Frearson, a company director, punished his child for leaving his side and wandering off on his own in the dark.

A witness called the police and three hours after the incident, four police officers and a specialist child support officer arrived at Mr Frearson’s home in Plymouth, Devon, to question him and examine Harry for bruises.

They then drove the boy away in a police car and took his father to the station where they locked him up in a cell overnight.

Mr Frearson later found out that he should have been questioned immediately but was locked up because the ‘witness’ was ‘in no fit state’ to be interviewed.

He spent 12 hours in the cell but was released the next morning after the complainant withdrew the allegation.

Mr Frearson, a director of a parcel company, has now demanded an apology from police, claiming their response to the complaint was ‘massively over-the-top’.

He said: ‘I appreciate the police’s concern but even if they felt they had to take Harry I am still angry and bewildered at the events.

‘They seemed far too ready to presume me guilty and then cause distress to my son by taking him from me.

‘I don’t understand why they felt it necessary to arrest me and lock me up before interviewing me or the witness.

‘My son found himself being searched by police officer which was traumatic enough and then they took him away in a police car.’

[…]

Until four years ago, parents had full rights to use corporal punishment under laws allowing ‘ reasonable chastisement’.

Since the 2004 Children Act it has only been legal to smack if there is no injury, which can be as slight as a bruise or ‘psychological harm’.

Last month the government was forced to quash a rebellion from backbenchers who wanted to give youngsters the same protection against assault as adults.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Patient Killed by GP Who Ignored Penecillin Allergy Warning

A doctor killed an elderly patient when she ignored instructions that he was allergic to penicillin and insisted he took the drug, a court has heard.

Dr Mitra Nikkhah is accused of manslaughter through gross negligence after David Townsend went into anaphylactic shock and died after taking medication she had prescribed.

The court heard Mr Townsend and his wife Joan both told Nikkhah that he was allergic but she could not find any information on the surgery’s computer about his condition and so prescribed the medication anyway.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Pilots Threaten Strike Over ID Card Plan

Pilots have threatened to strike over Government plans to use them as “guinea pigs” in its ID card scheme.

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), which represents most of the country’s commercial pilots, said the Government’s “early warning system should be flashing” over its opposition to plans to force aviation workers be the first Britons to carry ID cards.

Jim McAuslan, Balpa’s general secretary, said his members resented being treated as guinea pigs and added: “It may come to an industrial dispute.

“We would want to avoid that. We would want the Government to think again about the whole scheme,” he told The Independent.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Vagrants Become Police Assistants in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM, 18/11/08 — Vagrants are to be enlisted by the police in Amsterdam as helpers to keep the city cleaner and safer. Their primary job is to keep alcoholics and loitering youngsters out of shopping areas.

The deployment of the homeless to boost ‘liveability’ has already been used at three locations in Amsterdam’s De Pijp district. “The vagrants are a constant factor in the neighbourhood. They see and hear a lot. They are now giving their attention to the neighbourhood,” newspaper De Telegraaf quoted project spokesman Marcel Zethoven as saying.

In exchange for their efforts, the vagrants receive an exclusive location for selling their Z-magazines. These are magazines about the lives of the homeless that passers-by can buy.

Police spokesman Rob van der Veen said: “We are in this way preventing spots where youngsters hang around. The initiative will be adopted by more districts in the city.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Witches Help Lift Sweden’s Job Loss Curse

An enterprising Swedish company seeking to hire 20 witches has provided a welcome break in the country’s otherwise steady flow of dismal employment news.

Häxriket i Norden, based in Åhus in southern Sweden, is currently seeking to place five witches each in four separate locations around the country, the Skånska Dagbladet newspaper reports.

According to the company’s advertisement on a listing maintained by Sweden’s Public Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen), qualified candidates should be well-versed in “contact with the other side, runes, tarots, crystals, herbs, rituals, exorcism, meditation, personal coaching, and more”.

The job also requires having a fixed telephone line and an internet connection, as most of Häxriket’s services are delivered online or over the phone at a cost of 19.90 kronor ($2.45) per minute.

The sudden wave of new hires comes following an internal shake up at the company in which a number of Häxriket’s former witches were let go for violating the telemarketing ethics code put in place by the Etiska Rådet för Betalteletjänster (‘Trade Ethical Council for Telemarketing’) — ERB.

ERB was created in 1994 to develop rules governing a variety of telemarketing services and associated fees and includes representatives from Sweden’s major telecommunications operators

“We’ve really cleaned house,” said Qinna Blomgren, who refers to herself as the “top witch” and is partial owner of Häxriket, to the newspaper.

“In order to work with us you don’t only need to have certain skills, but you also have to be serious and prepared to continually develop. We have a responsibility to our customers, and therefore our witches go through an employment exam so that we can see that they really can do what they say they can.”

Blomgren is quick to dismiss critics who question the legitimacy of Häxriket’s operations.

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If I like cinnamon buns with cardamom, it doesn’t mean that I can claim it’s the only correct path,” she said.

And representatives from Arbetsförmedlingen agree. While the agency reserves the right to refuse to post what it considers to be offensive or inappropriate job announcements, it chose to reserve judgment in the case of Häxriket’s witch recruitment drive.

“When it comes to the type of activities described in the announcement, with cards, and crystal and the like, it has a lot to do with what each individual believes, and that isn’t something about which we can have an opinion,” said Arbetsförmedlingen’s Britt-Marie Grahn to the paper.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Commerce: After Serbia, Ikea Invests in Croatia

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 6 — Ikea is about to invest 300 million euros to open a big centre at the outskirts of Zagreb. The announcement came after the one in October on projects in Serbia, where the Swedish furnishing giant plans to invest a billion euros to open 5 stores and a plant. Dragan Skalusevic, regional director of the Swedish company for Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia, announced that the new Croatian complex will cover around 260 thousand square metres, including a car park for 6,000 cars. The centre will include an Ikea sales point with a value of 50 million euros, on 30 thousand square metres. Skalusevic, as reported by website Informest, explained that the group wants to expand in the country and that it has already started negotiations on the opening of stores in Spalato and in the region. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Kosovo: Italy Supports Agreement for Eulex Deployment

(by Laurence Figà-Talamanca) (ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 17 — Italy is committed to the support and legitimisation of the Eulex European mission in Kosovo” while recognising that there is “a price to pay” and that is it is “a political priority which cannot be put off”. Foreign Undersecretary Alfredo Mantica will be in Pristina and Belgrade tomorrow and Wednesday on a mission to “verify the position of the two sides on the field” over the deployment of Eulex (to which Italy will contribute 200 units) planned for December 2 but likely to slip further after the ‘no’ by the Kosovar authorities to the UN plan agreed by the European Union and Serbia. The visit to Kosovo will also be a chance for Mantica to visit the Italian Kfor troops (around 2,000 men) in “Italy Village” near Peja (Pec in Serbian) and the nearby Orthodox monastery in Decani protected by Italian soldiers. The compromise suggested by UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon concerns mainly the security forces and customs control in the Serb majority area north of Kosovo, where Belgrade wants to continue to have some control. Serbia also insists that the presence of Eulex does not mean the recognition of independence of the new Balkan Republic and that the European mission (which will replace the UN mission Unmik) is endorsed by the Security Council. Pristina however refuses any type of agreement which threatens its Constitution and its sovreignty and territorial integrity. “Kosovo is concerned that a Cypriot situation is being ratified” explained Mantica, who will meet President of the Republic Fatmir Sejdiu, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and Foreign Minister Skender Hyseni in Pristina. But this “will not happen because Eulex will be deployed over the whole Kosovar territory” and even if “at the beginning the Mitrovica zone will have greater autonomy” in terms of security, magistrature and customs, it represents “a first acceptable step compared to the initial ‘no’ by Serbia”. A step forward which together with “the process of acceleration” by Belgrade towards the European position is “a step of political maturity” by Serbia. A maturity which the EU plans to recognise through the ratification of ASA (Agreement on Stabilisation and Association) which 26 out of 27 member States agreed on, with the opposition of Holland (who want to see the last war criminals in prison in the Hague) which Italy “is confident it can overcome”. On Wednesday in Belgrade Mantica will repeat to his Serb hosts — head of the Cabinet of the Foreign Minister Boris Stefanovic, the Director General for European Integration Milica Delevic-Djlas and Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic — “Italy’s support in the European integration process. The Balkan situation is complex and ancient tensions can only be overcome with the EU” concluded the Undersecretary, not just for its “market” but also for its “values” of peace, dialogue and tolerance.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Italy-Libya: Casini, No Oblivion Drama of Expelled Italians

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 3 — “The Centre Union doesn’t think that the ratification of the agreement recently drawn up by the Italian and the Libyan government is possible, if at the same time the Parliament does not decide on the question of compensation payments to Italian citizens which have been expelled from Libya after the confiscation of goods”. + UDC leader Pier Ferdinando Casini, said this after the meeting in the past days between a delegation of the Union including deputies Savino Pezzotta, Luisa Capitanio Santolini and Armando Dionisi and representatives of the Association for repatriated Italians from Libya. “It’s right to ratify the agreement between Berlusconi and Gaddafi and to establish closer bilateral relations with Libya, but the oblivion of the drama of thousands of Italians and the economic consequences they have suffered is not acceptable. This time the UDC will not accept generic reassurances: the two measures must be passed simultaneously “. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


M.U.: Meir, Project Sarkozy? Good, But Better Not Political

(ANSAmed) — CAGLIARI, NOVEMBER 17 — The project for the Mediterranean Union (MU) proposed by the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy is “excellent”, but these is only one way to go ahead with it, that is by “not making it a political project”. The Israeli ambassador to Italy, Gideon Meir, said this in Cagliari during a conference on Jews in the Mediterranean. The ambassador also visited the Italian-Israeli telecommunications company Telit. “The problem with Sarkozy’s good programme, which starts with the Barcelona Process, is that it has become political instead of economic and commercial” added the ambassador. “The Arab countries want to take everything to a political level, they go to Geneva to the agency for the defence of civilian rights when Israel is involved and let’s leave out Darfur. Double standards are used” Meir concluded “if you continue to judge, demonise and delegitimise Israel, rather than talk about human rights in Arab countries”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Med: Bosnian Writer Matvejevic Sceptical on UFM Future

(by Cristiana Missori) (ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 14 — ‘‘The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) was created during a difficult time, which includes a serious economic crisis, and after the failure of the Barcelona Process. It will be very difficult for the UfM to do much more’’. So the great Bosnian writer and intellectual Predrag Matvejevic spoke about the future of the newly-formed UfM. The Bosnian was wondering — outside the meeting organised yesterday at the French Embassy — what the new organisation could do to resolve the destiny of the Mediterranean. In fact, before the organisation came into being in July, heads of State had long argued about the right name for it: Union for the Mediterranean, Union of the Mediterranean or The Barcelona Process — Union for the Mediterranean. ‘‘Such linguistic clashes show how not everyone in Europe has a sympathetic eye for this institution’’, remarked Matvejevic, author of the celebrated ‘‘Mediterranean Breviary’’ and winner of important literary prizes. Amongst the greatest living scholars in the Mediterranean, Matvejevic was born in Mostar to a Russian father and Croatian dissident mother (who was imprisoned for five months in Croatia for writing about Christian Taliban) is also an authority on the Balkans. During the war, he recalled, he sided with the Bosnians, ‘‘the most tormented of people’’. Today, he warns, ‘‘without international control the situation risks sliding backwards to its 1992 and 1994 state. I hope that the international community finds the strength and the courage to not leave the ex-Yugoslavian countries all alone once again’’. And Kosovo? ‘‘I was one of the first people to support the Albanian right to autonomy in the region. Milosevic is guilty of pushing Kosovan Albanians to this desire for secession. Over time he pushed them ever further away, ever closer to the sea’’. ‘‘Who knows’’, sighs the lecturer in French language and Slavic Literatures at the Universities of Zagreb, Paris (Sorbonne, College de France) and Rome ‘La Sapienza’, ‘‘maybe we will have to wait for decades before Kosovo finds the right way to link it with Albania’’. And what role can Italy play in this situation? ‘‘Italy is surrounded by the sea, it should actuate a Mediterranean policy. As far as the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean are concerned it is more credible than all the other European countries put together’’, said Matvejevic. Having lived in voluntary exile in Paris and Rome, the well-known Bosnian writer is also an Italian citizen and when he affirms that ‘‘The Northern League party certainly does not want a Mediterranean policy’’, he cannot hide his partiality for Walter Veltroni’s Democratic Party. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Mediterranean: Fes/Strasbourg, Renewed Cooperation

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 17 — Cooperation between the Moroccan city of Fes and the French city of Strasbourg has been strengthened by a new triennial convention. The twinning of the towns — which was renewed on Friday as part of the third ‘European Days of Development’ (JED) organised by the European Commission until today in the town of Alsace — will be sanctioned by the conferral of the ‘Twinning for Development’ prize. In the Strasbourg Meeting and Convention Centre, Louis Michel (the EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid) will award the prize for the solidity of the ties between the two towns. The agreement, signed in the presence of Roland Ries, Mayor of Strasbourg and Mohamed Laraqui, Deputy Mayor of Fes, sets out the plans for the next three years and the ways of carrying out the partnership in terms of culture, architecture and heritage, but also in terms of professional training in the health sector. For 2009, Strasbourg’s contribution will increase to 50 thousand euros, whilst the amount to be spent in the following years by the French town will be worked out by annual applications meetings. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


PNA: 750.000 Euro From EU to Palestinian Election Commission

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 17 — The European Union is handing over 750,000 EURO to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission to help successfully pave the way for any future elections in the occupied Palestinian territory. Roy Dickinson, the European Commission’s Head of Operations in Jerusalem, and Hanna Nassir, the Chairman of the Central Elections Commission (CEC) today signed a grant agreement for 750,000 euro to fund four projects, which will be implemented by the CEC in the coming twelve months. The CEC will use the grant for a wide-scale elections outreach programme in Palestinian schools, in cooperation with the Education Ministry. The CEC will train school teachers on the elections system and provide materials to enable them to organize mock elections in schools to familiarise students with the Palestinian elections system. The grant will also finance the CEC’s planned voter registration exercise in 2009, with voter registration of first-time voters in schools, the deployment of mobile registration teams and the establishment of a continuous voter registration system. The European Union grant will also allow the CEC to carry out vital upgrades to their IT capacities and to introduce an electronic documents management system to further bolster the CEC’s operational capacity.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: Zaragoza Bans Dwarf Bullfighters, Controversy

(by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 10 — Juan Torres, one of the veteran “dwarfs” in the comic group “El Bombero Torero” says that he feels that he is a victim of a “politically correct conspiracy” while the bullfighting world is in confusion. Under accusation is the city of Saragossa’s decision to ban the “bomberos toreros”, that is to say the dwarfs who, wearing the “traje de luces”, the traditional costume worn by bullfighters, perform a comic show in the arena before the bullfights begin, simulating the fights with a series of send-ups. The proposal put forward by the Chunta Aragonese group was approved unanimously by the municipality “to avoid discrimination and inequality”, as stated in the resolution, and to favour employment policies for the inclusion of the dwarfs. For this purpose, the municipality will propose circus shows, in which the “Lilliputians” that are left unemployed will be able to participate, as long as these do not include jokes and ridicule which damage their dignity. The decision by the municipality of Saragossa, which is unprecedented in Spain, will probably be extended to the rest of the country, as the Madrid municipality of San Sebastian de lo Reyes, at the suggestion of Izquierda Unida, and the Barcelona municipality of Sant Cugat del Valles showed resistance in the past to the appearance of the “toreros bomberos” in shows during the bullfighting season. But according to Juan Torres, the Aragon municipality’s legislation was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, to the point that the small matador decided to start a mobilization, with a collection of people’s signatures to defend, together with his colleagues, the shows in the arena. “The ban”, explained Torres to the media, “comes about for reasons of political correctness, which do not take account of our opinion as people who are directly involved”. “My life”, he added, “has always been in bullfighting and now they want to take away my livelihood, like all the others. People in the arena do not laugh at the dwarf, but at what the dwarf is doing. For more than 15 years, I have been working in comic shows that are organized in discos, shows for adults and children and nobody laughs at our condition but at the comedy situations that we propose”. The decision has stirred up a lot of controversy in the bullfighting world, in which the “bomberos Toreros” shows are an integral part of the Fiesta in the bullfighting season. The first appearance of the tiny bullfighters where they faced calves took place in 1918, and in those decades their show accompanied the fights of great matadors such as Antonete, Paco Ojeda or even Ortega Cano. And although the Lilliputian bullfighters appeal to the “romanticism of bullfighting”, on the other hand, animal rights associations welcome with great victory decisions such as that made by the Saragossa municipality. “We are waiting for a decision which will ban all bullfighting from the city”, they say, “as has already happened in the municipality of Barcelona, so that a useless and cruel show can be ended”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


The Mediterranean Population: Numbers and Percentages

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 12 — Here follows the details on some of the updated indicators supplied today by the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), whose Report on the State of the Global Population 2008 has been presented in more than 150 cities all over the world.

ILLITERACY (in percentage, subdivided between males/females and relative to the population over the age of 15) Morocco 34/60% Egypt 33/56% Algeria 20/40% Tunisia 17/35% Syria 12/26% United Arab Emirates 11/12% Libya 7/24% Turkey 5/20% Jordan 5/15% Palestinian National Authority 3/12% (Lebanon and Israeli data is missing)

Some countries on the north of the Mediterranean: Italia 1/2% Serbia 1/6% Spain 2/4%

SPENDING ON HEALTH (Public sector, in percentage of GDP) Turkey 5.4% Israel 4.8% Jordan 4.8%

Some countries on the north of the Mediterranean: France 8.9% Portugal 7.4% Italy 6.8%

MATERNAL MORTALITY RATE (indicates the number of mothers who die for every 100.000 live-born babies) Morocco 240 Algeria 180 Egypt 130 Tunisia 100 Israel 4

Some countries on the north of the Mediterranean: Albania 92 Serbia 14 France 8 Italy 3 (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: 2,000 Chinese Workers to Finish East-West Motorway

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 17 — Two thousand Chinese workers will arrive in Algeria in the coming months to speed up building work on the mega motorway which will run 1,200 km along the coast of Algeria to Tunisia and Morocco. China’s ambassador in Algeria, Liu Yuhe, made the announcement. “We are completing the administrative procedures for the arrival of the technicians” said Liu Yuhe visiting the Chinese group CITCI-CRCC’s construction sites. The new workers, who will going the thousands of Chinese employees already working on public projects in the Maghreb “will help to speed up and improve” work on the viaducts and tunnels in Boumerdes and Bouira, in Cabilia. The Chinese consortium was awarded the contract in 2006 for the construction of a 528 km stretch of motorway and Japanese company was awarded another 400 km. The remaining 300 km are complete and are already open to traffic. According to the latest statements by Algeria’s Minister for public works Amar Ghoul the motorway “should be completed by 2009 and not in the first half of 2010 as stated in the contract”. With around 30,000 workers, the Chinese community is the largest foreign community in Algeria. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Islam: Kissing Minor Sin, Egyptian Religious Scholar Says

(ANSAmed) — ROMA, 17 NOV — Islamic intellectual Gamal al-Banna became embroiled in controversy after issuing a fatwa, or religious ruling, sanctioning kissing between unmarried males and females, but has now written a new book to set the record straight, Alarabia.net reports today. Al-Azhar scholars accused Banna of promoting vice last March when he issued a fatwa permitting unmarried people to kiss. Later Banna appeared on Al-Arabiya saying that Islam does not permit unmarried kissing but that it is not one of its grave sins. Now the 254-page new book, ‘The Issue of Kisses and Other Interpretations’, tackles more than just the intricacies of smooching, delving into modern relationships and the problems facing marriage in modern times. Banna, brother to Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, said kissing is a reaction to parents’ inflexibility with suitors, which inevitably leads to committing even greater sins. “If I say kisses are a reaction, this doesn’t mean I am allowing them,” Banna told AlArabiya.net. “But it is a minor sin that results from instinctive human weakness and that can be redressed by good deeds.” Banna added that he based his research on the Quran and the theories of prominent scholars about the concept of minor sins. He also explained that if redemption atones for major sins then the same applies to minor ones. In the book Banna criticizes the way Muslim societies belittle feelings of love and beauty and how Muslims are portrayed as devoid of emotions. “The book provides a religious analysis of kissing and deals with it as a human frailty, nothing more,” Banna said. But former president of al-Azhar University Abdul-Fattah al-Sheikh rejected Bannàs argument. “He talks about human nature and instincts, but these should be controlled by God’s laws. Otherwise, what is the use of religion in our lives,” he told AlArabiya.net. Sheikh accused Banna of giving youth the green light to have open relationships and argued that they would not stop at kisses. “This could lead to fornication and possibly pregnancy. Parentages will be mixed and society will have no rules,” he said. Sheikh argued that kisses cannot be considered minor sins since they could develop to major ones. “Then we will regret it when it is too late” he added. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

‘IAF is Ready for Iran’s Nuclear Sites’

“We are ready to do whatever is demanded of us” in order to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, IAF commander Maj. -Gen. Ido Nehushtan told German magazine Der Spiegel in an interview published Tuesday.

Nehushtan told the magazine that whether a military strike is eventually decided upon is a political question and not an issue of Israel’s military capabilities.

A strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities “is a political decision,” the IAF commander said, “but if I understand it correctly, all options are on the table… The Air Force is a very robust and flexible force. We are ready to do whatever is demanded of us.”

When asked by the paper whether the Israeli military was able to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, which are spread around the country and partly located underground, Nehushtan said, “Please understand that I do not want to get into details. I can only say this: It is not a technical or logistical question.”

Nehushtan said the cutting edge capabilities of the IDF in the region were not only a derivative of the advanced technologies it uses.

“Modern technology is one thing, but the biggest advantage we have is our soldiers and officers. Israel is a small country. We neither have a big population nor natural resources. Our biggest asset is our human resources. And it is the Air Force that makes best use of it,” he said.

Nehushtan then addressed the new reality in Lebanon since the integration of Hizbullah into the government in Beirut several months ago.

“Hizbullah has been part of the Lebanese government since this spring. It is not a fringe terror organization — it is supported by the state. Militarily, Hizbullah is stronger than the regular Lebanese army. If they attack us, we might react differently [to how we did in the 2006 Second Lebanon War],” he said.

Asked about deploying missile defense systems to protect Israelis from the Kassam rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza, as well as the Iranian threat of ballistic missiles, the IAF commander described Israel’s huge investments in missile defense as an “insurance policy.”

“Each type of rocket requires a different defense system. Up until today, only the Arrow System, is functioning. It can intercept ballistic missiles. In order to defend ourselves against the short-range rockets of Hamas and Hizbullah, we are building the Iron Dome system. In response to the threat of medium-range rockets, we are developing a system called David’s Sling. This is all very expensive. It is like an insurance policy: You pay a lot, even if nothing happens. But if something then does happen, then you are satisfied with the investment,” he explained.

           — Hat tip: Abu Elvis[Return to headlines]


Mideast: East Jerusalem;Water to Arab Houses, More Demolition

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 12 — Israel will supply drinkable water to tens of thousands of Arab houses built the years “illegally” in East Jerusalem. This is what an Israeli Ministerial Commission for the non-Jewish part of the city decided in recent days. The decision of the government — as Terrasanta.net reports — came after a census of homes located in the Arab neighbourhoods. According to the census, in Jerusalem there are some 160 thousand Arabs who live in houses that were built without legal permission. The number of “illegal” homes has grown over the years due to the policies of the Israeli administration, which since 1967 hasn’t released building permits for the eastern part of the city. In this way, according to Hagihon, the city water and sewer company, of the 250 thousand Arab residents in East Jerusalem, only 85 thousand (about 16 thousand homes) boast a connection to the city’s water network. The remaining 160 thousand are officially without water. They manage to live, however, thanks to water networks they have installed themselves, connected illegally to the pipes of their neighbours. “The decision to authorise the water supply officially to these citizens will permit the administration to ask for payment for the water that is now subtracted”, explained a Ministry of the Interior source. “Human beings can’t live without water, electricity and bread — commented Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel’s Minister of Infrastructure -. The situation came to create in the eastern part of Jerusalem, with many pirate connections to the city’s water supply, a damaged water supply in terms of quality, as well as wasting a lot, something even more serious considering that it is such a precious resource for Israel”. According to Terrasanta.net, the connection to running water, if it will indeed be finished by the administration, could be a sign of a possible acceptance on the part of Israel of the urban situation in the Arab portion of the city. And also on the data for demolition of illegal homes there is more contentment, and maybe things will continue in this direction. In spite of the fact that in East Jerusalem the demolition of unauthorised Arab dwellings has never ceased, B’tselem, the Israeli centre for information on human rights, signal that a progressive decline in the phenomenon: if in 2004, 104 homes were demolished, in 2006 it went down to 50, to go up again to 65 in 2007 and to touch, in the first months of 2008, 35. The demolitions are perceived by the Arab population as an act of violence and as an abuse of power. The most recent, which happened at the beginning of November, caused animated protests with the intervention of police, the wounding of 5 police agents, and the barricading by Arab citizens in the defence of buildings. According to a statement released on November 8 by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation — which contradicts the optimism of B’tselem — the plan being followed by Israeli bulldozers in the Silwan area, south of Mt. Olive, aims at the demolition of 80 homes to put a park next to the new Ir David development. Saeb Erekat, head of the Palestinian delegation busy in the negotiations with Israel, commented: “A year after Annapolis, we cannot passively accept that Israel heightens its aggressive policies in the Palestinian occupied territories. The Quartet must intervene to protect the Palestinians and their houses constricting Israel to keep its promises”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Bahraini Prince Sues Michael Jackson in UK

A son of the king of Bahrain is suing U.S. pop star Michael Jackson for backtracking on an agreement to record a new album and write an autobiography as repayment for the millions of dollars in loans he received from the prince, press reported Monday.

“Sheikh Abdullah began to support Mr. Jackson financially after 2005 when it became clear that Mr. Jackson was in very serious financial difficulties, much to Sheikh Abdullah’s surprise,” Khalifa’s lawyer, Bankim Thanki, told London’s High Court.

“Sheikh Abdullah began to support Mr. Jackson financially after 2005 when it became clear that Mr. Jackson was in very serious financial difficulties, much to Sheikh Abdullah’s surprise.”

Lawyer ThankiThe two men had a “close personal relationship,” and even discussed the possibility of Jackson moving to Bahrain after his 2005 child sexual molestation trial, Thanki said.

The court heard that the sheikh forked out $35,000 to pay utility bills at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch and also gave him one million dollars in April 2005 after Jackson asked for the money through an assistant.

“Sheikh Abdulla made many more payments on his behalf or to others,” including Jackson’s $2.2 million legal bill for his criminal trial, he said.

The early financial support coincided with Jackson’s 2005 trial on child molestation charges. Despite his acquittal, the case left the 50-year-old performer’s reputation and financial status in tatters.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Human Rights: Turkish Activist Tortured to Death, Report

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 14 — The report released on the official investigation into the death in custody of leftist activist Engin Ceber has revealed that he was tortured to death, Turkish dailies report today. An investigation had been opened against 19 prison officers with the allegations that Ceber was tortured to death when in custody in the jail of Metrisd, Istanbul. Human rights groups say 29-year-old Ceber was severely beaten by officers while in custody. He died in a hospital from a brain hemorrhage on Saturday. Ceber was detained last month while protesting against police officers who had not been brought to the court for allegedly shooting and paralyzing a young boy selling a left-wing publication last year. On September 23rd, the Prime Ministry’s Human Rights Directorate head, Hasan Tahsin Fendoglu, called for judicial reform indicating that Turkey comes second among countries that violate human rights most frequently because of a failure to provide its citizens the right to a fair trial. “Turkey has been paying large sums in compensation to its citizens who filed cases with the European Court of Human Rights”, Fendoglu said, adding that “According to the European court’s 2007 report Turkey is second only to Russia in terms of numbers of human rights violations”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Iraq: NGOs Concerned About Detainees’ Rights

Baghdad, 17 Nov. (AKI) — Source IRIN — Local NGOs are concerned about the rights of detainees in US military custody due to be transferred to the Iraqi authorities in 2009 in line with a draft US-Iraqi security pact.

“There are fears among human rights activists, NGOs and parliamentarians about what the situation of these detainees will look like when they are transferred to the Iraqi authorities,” Iraqi activist Basil al-Azawi said.

“As parliament represents the Iraqi people, it should act in line with the interests of Iraqis… Absolute justice must be achieved and Iraqi and international laws must be implemented when dealing with those detainees in Iraqi prisons,” he told IRIN.

Al-Azawi, who heads the Baghdad-based Commission for Civil Society Enterprises, an umbrella group of over 1,000 NGOs, urged parliament to amend the agreement to ensure the rights of the detainees.

“A suitable life inside the prisons must be guaranteed according to the Iraqi constitution and law. More visits to Iraqi prisons must be allowed by international and local human rights activists, and the treatment [of prisoners] must not be based on their sectarian background,” he said.

On 16 November, the Iraqi government concluded nearly seven months of negotiations with the US government on a 30-article draft agreement which sets the dates for the gradual handover of sovereignty to Iraqis, the withdrawal of all US forces from Iraqi cities by the end of June 2009, and their withdrawal from the entire country by January 2012.

Parliament is expected to start discussions on the agreement on 17 November and vote on it. If approved by parliament, it will be sent to Iraq’s three-man presidential council to be ratified.

It is due to come into force on 1 January 2009 as the UN mandate for the US-led troops in Iraq expires on 31 December.

At a press conference on 16 November in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the Iraqi judiciary “will utter its final say” on the fate of these detainees when they are transferred.

“The Iraqi judiciary will review their files, release anyone who has not been convicted, and further detain those who have been convicted,” al-Dabbagh said.

A clause in the draft agreement, which stipulates that anyone detained by US forces must be handed over to the Iraqi authorities within 24 hours, faced criticism by international NGOs.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based human rights watchdog, on 29 October called on the US government to ensure that the detainees under its control in Iraq would be given the right to contest any transfer, and that the conditions in Iraqi detention facilities would be verified before any transfer.

“Since the United States made itself synonymous with abuse of detainees in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib scandal, the least it can do now is ensure that a security agreement does not pave the way for further abuse,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at HRW.

HRW said there were about 17,000 detainees in US-run prisons in Iraq. Most are Iraqis but there are also some other Arabs or foreigners who took part in the Sunni insurgency.

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


Saudi Arabia: Asian Immigrant Forced to Clean Mosques for ‘Skipping Prayers’

Riyadh, 18 Nov. (AKI) — A Saudi civil court has ordered an Asian immigrant to clean mosques next month during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca after religious police caught him skipping Friday prayers several times, Saudi daily al-Watan reports. The man will have to clean five mosques along the highway into Mecca twice daily for eleven days, the court ruled.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs will be tasked with checking if the immigrant obeys the court order. If he fails to do so, the court has warned that he will be tried before a criminal court.

Instead of handing out custodial sentences, a number of Saudi judges have recently ordered minor offenders to clean buildings and cars, memorise the Koran (the Muslim holy book) or do community work.

Earlier this month, a judge ordered a young man to memorise part of the Koran and 40 sayings of the Prophet Mohammed as a punishment for appearing in public with a woman who was not a relative.

This year’s Hajj is taking place in the first half of December. Last year, two million Muslim pilgrims attended.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an obligation for all able-bodied Muslims to attend at least once during their lives, provided they can afford it.

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


Turkey: Special Teams to Stop “Honour Killings”

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 17 — A special team will operate in the South Eastern province of Mardin to stop “honor killings”, daily Hurriyet reported. “Emergency action teams” formed by the Association for Preventing Honor Crimes and Validating Female Potential (Toder) will be working in 20 villages around Mardin. The team includes the village’s teacher, opinion leader, nurse and reverend. “The team will inform us in case a dangerous event happens in the village and we will contact the related parties; we will have the chance to intervene before an honour killing happens”, Zeynep Alkis, president of Toder, said. “A total of 1,985 women died from domestic violence in last two years, which makes almost three women a day”, Sebahat Balci, a Social Service Expert, said, adding that “in Europe more than a woman per week dies due to the violence from her husband or boyfriend”. “One-third of women are exposed to physical violence by her husband at least once in Turkey and domestic violence increases as the income increases and it decreases as education increases,” Balci declared. “Another research revealed that 89% of women are exposed to psychological violence and 39% are subject to physical violence, while around 30% of women are victims of domestic violence during their marriage when they are pregnant”, the expert revealed. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkey Ranks Low in World Gender Equality Index

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 12 — Turkey is ranked 123rd in the attempt to close the gender gap between men and women among 130 countries worldwide, daily Hurriyet writes quoting the overall ranking report issued by World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2008. “Turkey has never been in a very good position (in terms of gender equality), but lately women are much more harmed as narrow-mindedness within society increases”, Cigdem Kagitcibasi from Koc University, said, adding that “this is accepted as an ideology both by men and women. That is where problem occurs”. “All politicians and bureaucrats should accept the idea that men and women are equal. But they do not”, Hulya Gulbahar, head of the Organization for Education and Support of Women Candidates, said. Only Egypt, Morocco, Benin, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Chad and Yemen are below Turkey in the forum’s rankings. “Turkey’s performance relative to 2007 shows a slight improvement driven by gains in education and political empowerment but women’s economic participation has shrunk further with gaps in wage equality for similar work widen”, the report stated. Turkey ranked 105th in 2006 among 115 countries while it was 121st last year amongst 128 countries. It did not lose its position this year among these same 128 countries but moved down to 123rd with the addition of the two new countries. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Russia

Russian Newsweek Gets Warning for ‘Insulting’ Muslims

MOSCOW — The Russian-language edition of the Newsweek magazine has been warned for allegedly insulting Muslims, Moscow prosecutors said.

The magazine published two stories that could be “insulting or humiliating” to Muslims, the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office said, adding that an article Tuesday also included one of the 2005 Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

The magazine published the stories on Muslims in the European Union in late October. It could not be immediately reached for comment. About 20 million Muslims live in Russia.

Under President Vladimir Putin and his successor, Dmitry Medvedev, Russian news organizations have come under increasing official pressure. If prosecutors’ warnings are ignored, publications can be fined or threatened with closure.

           — Hat tip: spackle[Return to headlines]

South Asia

50,000 Hindu Fundamentalists Demonstrate in Favor of Religious Intolerance

The government of Orissa permits a march calling for “an end to the conversions.” Meanwhile, in Bangalore, three Christians are arrested under the false accusation of inducing conversion. The AICC provides updated figures on anti-Christian violence.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) — The government of Orissa has permitted today’s demonstration by Swami Laxmananda Saraswati Sradhanjali Samiti in Bhubaneshwar, despite New Delhi’s concern that it could unleash further inter-religious violence. Meanwhile, anti-Christian violence continues in Orissa, with churches demolished and Christians arrested under the false accusation of “instigating conversions.”

The extremist Hindu group called for the march in protest against the failure to arrest the killers of Laxmananda Saraswati, leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), murdered on August 23. Although the police maintain that Maoist groups are responsible, the Hindus have used it as a pretext for anti-Christian pogroms.

At least 1,500 policemen will keep watch to prevent incidents. But in Kandhamal, there is great fear that the march is a pretext for a resumption of the attacks, which have never really ceased. At least 50,000 participants are expected, and the organizers have posted flyers everywhere calling for the arrest of the assassins, but also “to stop the conversions and the killing of cows” and to “defend Hinduism and tribal culture.”

In this atmosphere, on the night of November 12 three Christians were arrested under the accusation of “inducing” to conversion some of the inhabitants of a suburb of Bangalore. The leaders of the Christian associations have organized a campaign for their release.

The All India Christian Council (AICC) reports the information provided by Christian leaders in Karnataka: a man, Chandrashekhar, and two women, Kamlamma and Sandhya, were invited to the house of the man’s sister, in the neighborhood of Jeevanahalli in Bangalore, to pray for the health of her son.

When they left their home at the end of the prayer meeting, the three were met by a group of about 15 militants of the Bajrang Dal, the youth branch of the VHP. The fanatics beat the man, then called the police accusing the three of inducing a group of inhabitants to conversion. A business owner confirmed the false accusation for the police of Fraser Town.

Chandrashekhar’s sister says that she called him to pray for the health of her sick son, and rejects the accusations as “unfounded.” Sam Paul, secretary for the public affairs of the AICC, says that “this is one of many examples of Christians who are falsely accused of forcible conversion by Hindutva forces. They are, of course, innocent. The sad reality is that, in India today, legal harassment of innocent Christians is common.”

Meanwhile, on the night of November 11, the Catholic church in the village of Tiangia was razed to the ground. The church, which had escaped the earlier violence because it was still being built, was supposed to be inaugurated soon.

According to the AICC, since August 24 in Orissa, violence has been seen in 14 of the 30 districts in the state, with damage in 315 villages. 4,640 homes have been burned, 53,000 people have been displaced, and 60 people have been killed, including two pastors and a Catholic priest. Two women have been raped, 151 churches have been destroyed, and the attacks still continue today. In Bihar, a church has been damaged. In the state of Chhattisgarh, four sisters were attacked. In Jharkhand, Hindu fundamentalists attacked a church and tried to “reconvert” the Christian faithful. Four churches have been damaged in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh. In New Delhi, two churches have been damaged, and another four attacked. In Punjab, three Christians have been detained by the police under false accusations. In Uttar Pradesh, three pastors have been beaten, together with the wife of one of them. In Uttarakhand, two Christians have been killed, a priest and his employee.

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


Hindu Extremists Attack Pentecostal Church in Mumbai

Clergyman is pushed and shoved, beaten and left unconscious in the street. Hindu radicals accuse the Christian community of involvement in conversions. Monsignor Fernandes, bishop of Bombay, says these actions are terrorism and endanger Indian democracy.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — A group of radical Hindus attacked a Pentecostal church in Bhayander (Mumbai), destroying furniture and equipment, beating its clergyman and worshipers and launching accusations that they are involved in converting people to Christianity.

Last Friday around 12.30 pm a group of 20 from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu fundamentalist organisation, stormed the ‘Church of God’ in Bhayander, close to the Navghar police station.

According to eyewitness accounts, the hoodlums forced their way into the church shouting slogans like “Jai Hind; Jai Maharashtra; Jai Bajrang Bali”.

After claiming to be from the VHP they said they had information that conversions took place in that church. They then shouted vulgarities and insults and began beating those present. They manhandled the church’s pastor, Rev Felix Fernandes, shoving and pushing him around, stripped and beat him senseless, leaving him unconscious in the street.

Abraham Mathai, deputy chairman of the State Minorities Commission, said the church that was attacked opened 20 years ago.

“These attacks,” he told AsiaNews, “will continue as long as police do not really track the culprits. These Fascist groups are turning our secular democracy into a mobocracy.”

For Mgr Percival Fernandes, auxiliary bishop of Bombay and former secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, this uncalled for attack was a “terrorist” act.

“These actions have only one purpose, i.e. create and maintain fear and anxiety in the people and communities attacked,” he said. “Terrorism is rooted in ideas and is nurtured by hate propaganda. We who want peace must stop them by all means at our disposal. Let us hope that politicians will not use these violent means to get votes.”

This is the first time that a church is attacked in Mumbai since last August when a wave of violence hit Christians, first in the state of Orissa and then other Indian states (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisghar, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala).

Rev Lovson Kurien, 40, member of the Pentecostal Church, saw the latest attack.

“The group of attackers fled when police arrived,” he said. “Eventually they took poor Reverend Felix to hospital. There were around 40,000 rupees (about US$ 10,000) worth in damages to the church.

Police arrested about 20 people in connection with the attack, including a woman, from the radical Hindu group Shiv Sena, and launched and an investigation into the affair.

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


Indonesia: W. Papua and Bali Unite Against Porn Bill

Jakarta, 17 Nov. (AKI/Jakarta Post) — The head of the West Papua Provincial Legislative Council (DPRD) has reiterated the province’s intention to secede from Indonesia if the anti-pornography bill is passed into law. Jimmy Demianus Ijie told Balinese protesters over the weekend that West Papua would galvanise international support for secession if the government enforces the bill in West Papua.

“We are serious, we will secede if the porn bill becomes law,” he told a rally in Denpasar during a rally in front of the Bali governor’s office in Denpasar.

“So have no fear, Bali, West Papua has made the (secession) pledge. Continue the fight to revoke the bill.”

Ijie, who is a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), came to Bali specifically to give his speech against the anti-pornography bill at the rally.

West Papua threatened to secede from Indonesia during the debating of the bill in October.

Ijie said the West Papuans could not accept the bill because it “smelled of Sharia law” and it had no respect for the constitution, which, he said, embraces Indonesia’s five major religions and its hundreds of cultures.

“I have been an art delegate in many countries where I wore my traditional clothes and did my traditional dances,” he said.

“You can see my buttocks and I was swaying my hips and being all sexy. Are they going to arrest me for that, too?”

He said the bill was an insult to church congregations in West Papua, who had expressed their stand against the bill.

“The church played a major part in assisting the government in returning West Papua to Indonesia, and because the church is West Papua’s representative, this is a stab in the back, too,” he said.

The lower house of the Indonesian parliament, the House of Representatives passed the bill with overwhelming support from 10 out of the 12 factions in the House. The remaining two, the PDI-P and the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS), walked out during the vote to show their opposition.

Ijie further supported the attempt by human rights and student activists comprising the Bali People’s Component (KRB) to file a judicial review at the Constitutional Court.

“If the judicial review fails, we will secede,” he said.

KRB coordinator Ngurah Harta said the judicial review would be filed next week, pledging to hold a civil disobedience campaign if the review fails.

The planned judicial review is not the only legal means standing between the anti-pornography bill and its enforcement in Indonesia.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono still needs to sign the bill and issue a governmental guideline to regulate the enforcement of the bill.

But under Indonesian law, the House of Representatives passes bills automatically if the president does not sign them within 30 days, using the bill’s original wording.

More than 400 people attended Saturday’s rally. Art performances with women wearing transparent traditional clothes and tube tops entertained the cheering masses.

The men began joining the women, swaying their hips along as Balinese percussion music played in the background. A couple of women in tight shirts and long pants joined the performers in the middle and danced to dangdut.

“We’ll keep on fighting,” one of the dangdut dancers yelled as she thrusted her pelvis.

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


Taliban: We May Attack Paris

The Taliban has threatened to carry out attacks on the capital city of Paris unless French troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan.

A Monday video broadcast on Saudi owned al-Arabiya television station showed a Taliban military leader- identified as Mullah Faruq- saying that France would await a response in Paris if French troops are not withdrawn from the war-torn country.

The video included footage of a French armored unit being stalked by the Taliban fighters. In the video, Taliban also claimed responsibility for an August 18 ambush around 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of Kabul in which 10 French troops were killed and more than a dozen injured. Some insurgents were later shown wearing uniforms of the French soldiers they had killed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Bolivian President Says He Won’t Let DEA Come Back

Bolivian President Evo Morales expressed hope Monday for improved relations with the United States under Barack Obama’s presidency, but said he will never allow the U.S. anti-drug agency to resume operating in his country.

The socialist leader, a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, accused the Drug Enforcement Administration of “political aggression” in Bolivia, which is a major source of coca plants, the raw ingredient for cocaine.

Morales said his government would set up a new intelligence operation involving the military and police to fight drug trafficking in place of the DEA, whose Bolivian operations he suspended Nov. 1.

Morales, the former leader of a coca growers union, also said Bolivia will seek to remove coca leaf from the U.N. list of prohibited drugs. While coca can be turned into cocaine, Bolivians use the small green leaf in its less-potent natural form as a traditional tea or for chewing…

           — Hat tip: Fausta[Return to headlines]


Nuclear: Agreement Signed Between Algeria and Argentina

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 17 — An agreement for “the development and utilisation of civilian nuclear energy” has been signed between Algeria and Argentina on the occasion of the visit to the north African country of the Argentinian President, Cristina Kirchner. According to APS news agency, the agreement “was signed by the Algerian Energy minister, Chakib Khelil, and by Federal Planning minister, Julio de Vido, in the presence of the President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika”. In 1984, Argentina built one of the two small reactors, that of Draria (15km from Algiers), present in Algeria. The Maghrebi country started its march towards the development of nuclear energy to guarantee a post-oil future some time ago. After signing the agreement in June of 2007, a civilian agreement with the USA, in June it started a programme in cooperation with France. During Energy Week currently underway in Algiers, Khelil announced that a law on nuclear energy should be implemented by the beginning of 2009”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Immigration: Woman Trampled to Death in Crush at Melilla

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 17 — A Moroccan woman died on the border at Melilla, as she tried to cross the border pass of Barrio Chino. She was crushed by a large crowd of people, who, at 8am, were pushing to enter the independent city, to work or sell their wares. According to police sources, as reported by the EFE agency, once she had got past the Moroccan border post, the woman, who was around 30 years old, fainted and was swept away by the crowd which was thronging to enter Melilla. Rescued by police officers, the woman was transferred to the local hospital but died on the way there. Another seven people were injured in the crush and were treated in the same hospital. Crowds on the border post are normal, according to the reports by sources. Moroccan merchants crowd into the so-called “no man’s land”, the area between the two borders, forming a bottle-neck effect” as they wait for the checks to enter Melilla. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Survey: Americans, Europeans Divided on Immigration as Problem or Opportunity

See Both Benefits and Concerns

Economy, crime are biggest issues; Culture, diversity seen as assets; Language skills and job offer important for admittance; Majorities favor permanent settlement over temporary migration schemes

WASHINGTON, DC (November 17, 2008) — A new survey released today shows that that 50% of Americans and 47% of Europeans think immigration is more of a problem than an opportunity, but a closer look shows nuanced views of immigration and integration on both sides of the Atlantic and marked differences within Europe…

           — Hat tip: RRW[Return to headlines]


Sweden Taking in Record Numbers of Immigrants

As the flow of immigrants into Sweden reaches record levels, growing numbers are choosing to live in communities featuring universities rather than in cities traditionally known for their large immigrant populations.

According to recent figures from Statistics Sweden (SCB), Sweden’s population increased by nearly 60,000 residents in the first nine months of 2008, with immigration accounting for more than 70 percent of the increase.

Altogether, just over 78,200 immigrants came into Sweden between January and September of this year, while nearly 34,900 foreign-born residents left the country.

The net immigration of more than 43,000 represents the highest net immigration ever recorded in Sweden, reports the Sydsvenskan newspaper.

Several regions, including Blekinge and Småland in the south, Västmanland in the west, Dalarna and Gävleborg in central Sweden, as well as Västernorrland and Västerbotten in the north would have registered negative population growth for the first three quarters of 2008 were it not for the additional residents gained through immigration.

Without immigration, 54 out of Sweden’s 290 municipalities would have lost population.

And municipalities with colleges and universities appear to be the communities attracting immigrants in greater numbers.

Net immigration has increased most in Lund (122 percent), Uppsala (66), Jönköping (44), Örebro (41), and Växjö (33), each of which features a sizeable university.

At the same time, immigration trends have actually reversed for several communities which have previously been magnets for the foreign born.

Malmö, Botkyrka and Södertälje near Stockholm, and Landskrona in southern Sweden have all shown a drop in net immigration in the first part of 2008.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

General

Filmmakers Taking on Our ‘Global Warming Hysteria’

A new Irish film claims that climate change guru Al Gore is an alarmist and that those who think they are saving the planet are only hurting the poor

IF THE ADVANCE publicity is anything to go by, Not Evil Just Wrong will do for Al Gore what Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 did for George W Bush.

“This is the film Al Gore and Hollywood don’t want you to see,” declares the website for the latest work by film-makers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer. The site even features a big picture of Gore, with his lips in the photograph seemingly digitally enhanced to make them look like Heath Ledger’s Joker from the latest Batman film.

The website goes on to say that their latest film — which takes on what are described as global warming alarmists — is “the most controversial documentary of the year”. Indeed, it could very well be the most controversial. And Al Gore and Hollywood may well not want you to see it. And in that respect, Gore and co are actually succeeding for the moment. Because there is no completed film. Not yet anyway.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Murdoch to Media: You Dug Yourself a Huge Hole

With newspapers cutting back and predictions of even worse times ahead, Rupert Murdoch said the profession may still have a bright future if it can shake free of reporters and editors who he said have forfeited the trust and loyalty of their readers.

“My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the internet is this: it’s not newspapers that might become obsolete. It’s some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper’s most precious asset: the bond with its readers,” said Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp. He made his remarks as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Australian Broadcast Corporation.

[..]

“The complacency stems from having enjoyed a monopoly—and now finding they have to compete for an audience they once took for granted. The condescension that many show their readers is an even bigger problem. It takes no special genius to point out that if you are contemptuous of your customers, you are going to have a hard time getting them to buy your product. Newspapers are no exception.”

[..]

“It used to be that a handful of editors could decide what was news-and what was not. They acted as sort of demigods. If they ran a story, it became news. If they ignored an event, it never happened. Today editors are losing this power. The Internet, for example, provides access to thousands of new sources that cover things an editor might ignore. And if you aren’t satisfied with that, you can start up your own blog and cover and comment on the news yourself. Journalists like to think of themselves as watchdogs, but they haven’t always responded well when the public calls them to account.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

BNP membership illegally leaked and posted

That's quite pathetic. I don't exactly hold the BNP in high regard, but they are a legitimate political party, and this is nothing but a witch hunt.

Jewel Atkins said...

Roy manseras is a spammer, Baron. Perhaps you can send him over to LGF.

Baron Bodissey said...

Jewel --

Yes, the referral spammers show up just about every day. Eventually I find them all and delete them.