Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/19/2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/19/2008Lots of pirate news tonight. The pirates are living high on the hog with their ill-gotten gains, but the Indian navy just blew one of their ships out of the water. Also, the Saudis appear to be negotiating with the freebooters to try to get their supertanker back…

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Henrik, Insubria, JD, KGS, Paul Green, Steen, TB, Zonka, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Canada
Canada: Conversation Cops Step in to School University Students
 
Europe and the EU
Croatia: Investment, Emilia Looks Beyond Adriatic
European Parliament Lifts Immunity of Far-Right Mep
Ireland Not Serving Citizens on Lisbon, Says Ganley
Italy: Swiss Lawyer Testifies at ‘CIA Kidnapping’ Trial
Italy: Police Anti-Terror Raids Target Suspected Islamists
Netherlands: Cabinet Working on ‘Catalogue of Citizenship Values’
Netherlands: Moroccan Children 10 Times More Likely to Have Parents on Welfare
Police Forces Told to Root Out BNP Members After List Leaked on Internet
Spain: Franco Era, Garzon Hands Inquiry to Regional Courts
Spain: Franco, Garzon Drops Civil War Inquest
Sweden: Joyous Court Climax for Madonna of Orgasm Church
 
Balkans
Kosovo: UN Six-Point Plan for EU Mission Deployment Rejected
Slovenia: EU Blocks Highway Funds, No to Toll Pass
 
Mediterranean Union
Anp: 750,000 Euro From EU to Organise Future Elections
Cinema: Medfilm: Immigration, Thread Uniting Directors
Cinema: Migrant Odyssey to Mediterranean Shown in Naples
TV: Morocco Becomes Shareholder of Euronews
 
North Africa
Algeria-Morocco: Border Dispute Re-Ignited
Algeria: Smoking in Ramadan, Sentence Reduced and Suspended
Photography: Milan Exhibition on West-Saharan Refugees
 
Middle East
Egypt: Court Rejects Gas Exports to Israel
Mideast: Rice; Barak Worried by Iran’s Nuclear Threat
Nuclear: Syria; El Baradei: Report “Inconclusive”
The Most Anti-American Nation
Turkey Tops Industrial Nations’ Greenhousegas Emissions List
 
South Asia
India: Troops Kill Four Islamic Militants in Kashmir
Indonesia: Government to Detain Blogger for Defamation
Nepal Asks India to Free Maoists Detained in Its Prisons
Pakistan: Taliban Seeking to Keep Army Out of Joint Operations With NATO
Prophet Cartoon Row in Indonesia
Top Al-Qaeda Leader Killed in US Missile Strike
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
Indian Navy Foils Another Attack by Somali Pirates
Pirates’ Luxury Lifestyles on Lawless Coast
Pirates ‘Working With Islamists’
Somalia: Aramco Says it Will Negotiate With Pirates Over Seized Oil Tanker
 
Latin America
Peru, China to Sign Trade Accord Quickly, Garcia Says
 
Immigration
‘Dutch Positive on Immigration Despite Linking it to Crime’
Immigration: Moroccans Among Largest Immigrant Groups in EU
Non-European Immigrants Coming to Britain Double in a Year
 
General
“Body of Lies” Latest Hollywood Movie Insulting Islam, Jordan
Biennale: Assaf, From Lebanon a Play on War Drama
Italy ‘Working for’ US- Russia Meet
Muslims Face Bias of the ‘Turban Effect’: Study
Spain-USA: Biden in Madrid Soon After Taking Office
Tariq Ramadan: “Do Not Demonise Islam”
Zawahri Calls Obama a “House Negro”

Canada

Canada: Conversation Cops Step in to School University Students

Your friend’s new fuchsia fedora might be hideous. But don’t call it gay, or you might get a language lesson from the conversation cops.

Students at Queen’s University who sprinkle their dialogue with an assortment of “homo” or “retarded” could find out the hard way that not everyone finds their remarks acceptable.

The Kingston university has hired student facilitators to step in when they overhear homophobic slurs, remarks bashing women or racially tinged insults, along with an array of other language that could be deemed offensive.

That means tête-à-têtes in the residence hallways may no longer be just between friends.

“If people are having a conversation with offensive content and they’re doing it loud enough for a third person to hear it … it’s not private,” said Jason Laker, dean of student affairs at Queen’s.

“If you’re doing anything that’s interfering with what other people need to be doing, that’s not cool.”

The initiative, believed to be the first of its kind in Canada, is part of a broader program begun at the school this fall to foster diversity and encourage students to think about their beliefs.

But the move is sparking fresh debate over the line between politically correct behaviour and freedom of expression. Some students fear the university’s program borders on oppressive.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Croatia: Investment, Emilia Looks Beyond Adriatic

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 5 — From Emilia to Croatia to do business: cooperative companies and private enterprises from the Emilia RomagNa region are continuously looking across the sea for their investments. To underline this fact is the ICE office in Zagreb tracing an outline of the workshop “Invest in Croatia. The New Industrial Zone of Stefanje”, organised by the regional associations Boorea and Legacoop Reggio Emilia and dedicated to new commercial and production opportunities opportunities in the area. At the meeting, which took place in Rocca Estense in San Martino in Rio near Reggio Emilia, Tajana Kesic ‘api’, economic secretary of state for the Republic of Croatia, the Croatian ambassador to Italy, Tomislav Vido, Duccio Campagnoli, productivity councillor for the Emilia-Romagna region, Andrea Bondoni, cross border business manager for UniCredit Corporate Banking and Alessandro Liberatori, director of the ICE office in Zagreb were present. The new industrial zone in Stefanje, for which future potential and opportunities were illustrated, is 70km from the Croatian capital and is 300,000 square metres in size. Here, for the advantage of the investors, there are incentives of a fiscal nature, convenient costs of urbanised terrain and qualified human resources, moreover the possibility of cooperation with the economics and business departments of the University of Zagreb. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


European Parliament Lifts Immunity of Far-Right Mep

The European Parliament on Tuesday (18 November) lifted the immunity of Belgian far-right MEP Frank Vanhecke, who is facing racism charges in Belgium.

MEPs voted by 564 for and 61 against to lift his immunity, while 42 abstained.

The Belgian deputy of the Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang is accused of publishing and editing a political pamphlet in 2005 which wrongly accused “foreigners” of desecrating cemeteries.

The text also said: “a culture which has no respect for the dead or for the symbols of a different faith is a delinquent culture,” according to French news agency AFP.

It later transpired that four local Flemish young people were guilty of the crimes the “foreigners” had been accused of in Saint-Nicolas, a town in Flanders, Belgium’s Dutch-speaking northern region.

MEPs dispose of an immunity which prevents them from being “wanted, detained or sued because of opinions or votes emitted by them in the exercise of their functions.”

They rarely lift the privilege over political statements, but in this case decided Mr Vahnecke’s parliamentary cover did not extend to his editorial activities and obligations.

For his part, the Belgian MEP said he was the victim of a “political lynching,” arguing that he had made sure the article in question was corrected, the Associated Press reports.

The party to which Mr Vanhecke belongs is a successor of another formation that was dismantled after it was found guilty of racism in 2004. Vlams Belang also backs independence for Flanders.

The European Parliament move comes ahead of the June 2009 European elections, where far right parties are expected to score gains across Europe due to the financial crisis and recession.

           — Hat tip: Henrik[Return to headlines]


Ireland Not Serving Citizens on Lisbon, Says Ganley

EUOBSERVER / DUBLIN / STRASBOURG — Speaking in the Irish parliament on Tuesday (18 November), Declan Ganley, the head of anti-Lisbon campaign group Libertas, said the Irish government had encouraged other EU states to continue with ratification of the Lisbon treaty in order to increase pressure on Irish citizens.

“It is very clear to me that some who should be representing Ireland wish it to be isolated,” he told the parliamentary sub-committee on Ireland’s Future in Europe.

“There is a charade being played in this country right now to walk us into another referendum.”

The sub-committee was set up in the wake of last June’s rejection of the Lisbon treaty and is due to hand in its report to the Irish government by the end of the month.

Earlier in discussions, Mr Ganley suggested that the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, had told the Irish government that they would be prepared to halt British ratification of the Lisbon treaty.

By not taking them up on the offer, “we lost the best negotiating chip we had,” said Mr Ganley.

The three-hour meeting was characterised by heated exchanges as committee members from various Irish political parties became increasingly frustrated with the Libertas chairperson…

           — Hat tip: Henrik[Return to headlines]


Italy: Swiss Lawyer Testifies at ‘CIA Kidnapping’ Trial

Milan, 6 Nov. (AKI) — Swiss lawyer Dick Marty is appearing as a witness at the controversial trial of five Italian intelligence agents and 26 Americans, most of them CIA agents, in the northern city of Milan. The defendants are charged with abducting an Egyptian-born Muslim cleric and terrorism suspect there in 2003. Marty last year wrote a report by Europe’s top human rights body The Council of Europe on the CIA’s alleged detentions and illegal flight transfers of terrorism suspects, known as ‘extraordinary renditions’.

The court on Wednesday questioned Marty (photo) closely on his report. In his testimony, Marty argued that the alleged abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr — who is also known as Abu Omar — was part of a global CIA strategy involving several European states.

Marty described what are termed ‘extraordinary renditions’ as “beyond any legal framework and in grave violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

“As in the US and Germany, the doctrine of ‘state secrecy’ has been invoked by the Italian government to try and block the judicial procedures aiming to establish the truth about serious human rights violations committed under its responsibility. This is unacceptable and unworthy of a state governed by law. Let justice take its course.” Marty stated.

Two Italian military intelligence agents last month cited state secrecy when they refused to answer questions from lawyers in the ‘Abu Omar’ trial on orders they received from former head of Italian military intelligence, Nicolo Pollari.

“State secrecy is not being invoked to protect secrets — because the facts in question are largely known — but rather to protect the civil servants and politicians responsible for these abuses,” Marty said.

“The Abu Omar affair is one of the rare cases where the alleged perpetrators of kidnapping carried out as part of the CIA’s ‘extraordinary rendition’ programme are facing justice,” he said.

Marty’s report accused 14 countries including Italy of collusion in a ‘global spider’s web’ of CIA abductions of terror suspects carried out on their soil. EU states Poland and Romania also hosted secret CIA prisons where the abducted terror suspects were detained, the report claimed.

A report by members of the European Parliament last January also accused European Union states of violating human rights treaties by covering up clandestine CIA flights across Europe.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Police Anti-Terror Raids Target Suspected Islamists

Trieste, 18 Nov. (AKI) — Italian anti-terrorism police have carried out at least 135 raids and are investigating 11 foreigners in various Italian regions who are suspected of links to an alleged Morocco-based Islamist group. The organisation, called ‘Al-Adl Wal Ihsan’ or Justice and Charity, is being investigated for association to commit international terrorist acts.

Several apartments and cultural centres thought to be linked to the Moroccan movement are being investigated as well as 11 foreigners.

According to investigators, the ‘Justice and Charity’ movement is a front for a group seeking the restoration of an Islamic caliphate in Morocco and the abolition of the monarchy.

Justice and Charity is believed to be Morocco’s largest opposition Islamist movement. However, the group claims it wants to transform Moroccan society through non-violent means and social work.

Justice and Charity is tolerated by the Moroccan government but reportedly has no legal status to organise meetings.

The group has repeatedly accused the government of imprisoning its members and limiting its funding resources.

The anti-terrorism investigations are taking place in the regions of Friuli Venezia-Giulia, Lombardy, Veneto in northern Italy and in the central Emilia Romagna and Marche region.

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


Netherlands: Cabinet Working on ‘Catalogue of Citizenship Values’

THE HAGUE, 19/11/08 — The cabinet plans to enshrine the meaning of ‘good citizenship’ in a charter. This will make clear to citizens that they themselves are primarily responsible for problems in society, Home Affairs Minister Minister Guusje ter Horst suggested yesterday.

In an interview with De Volkskrant, in which Ter Horst announced the charter, the Labour (PvdA) minister said responsibility and self-reliance will be central. “Many people are very aware of their rights, but much less so of their obligations. We as cabinet are going to restore the balance.”

The Dutch expect too much of the government, according to Ter Horst. “It is too much seen as a ‘blanket extinguisher’ for all kinds of smouldering and exploding social problems” (…) “but everyone has their own responsibility. Our society is too complex for such a role as blanket extinguisher.”

The charter will be called a ‘catalogue of values.’ In it, citizens will for example be encouraged to participate in society’s debates. The fact that this happens a lot on the Internet is irrelevant for Ter Horst. Citizens should become members of political parties “and not rant and rage with anonymous cowardice on the Internet.”

In the ‘decency offensive,’ respect is also called for towards police officers and ambulance staff, according to Ter Horst. “A parking attendant told me: ‘Madam, from the moment that I go to work in uniform until I return home again, I am sworn at’. If he made a police report every time, he would be permanently at the police station”.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Netherlands: Moroccan Children 10 Times More Likely to Have Parents on Welfare

THE HAGUE, 19/11/08 — Children of Moroccan and Antillean origin in the Netherlands are 10 times more likely to have parents living on welfare benefit than their white Dutch peers, Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) data shows.

More than 7 percent of minors in the Netherlands, or more than 250,000 children under 18 years of age, lived in a household that depended on welfare benefit in 2007. Among white Dutch children this was 3 percent.

Among children with a Turkish and Surinamese background, the figure was much higher, at 20 and 18 percent respectively. This was still lower however than the figures among children with a Moroccan (28 percent), Antillean (30 percent) and ‘other non-western’ (28 percent) background.

“One reason for the differences is that relatively more people with a non-western background claim income support,” said CBS. “And the number of children in these families is also often larger.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Police Forces Told to Root Out BNP Members After List Leaked on Internet

Police chiefs said tonight that they expect every force in the country to be scouring a leaked list of alleged BNP members that looks certain to cost at least one Merseyside officer his job.

Problems for the far-right party continued today after Rod Lucas, a radio DJ, and a policeman became the first victims of the breach of privacy that saw the names of thousands of BNP members published on the internet.

Officers in Liverpool referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission when they discovered the name of one of their officers on the membership list.

This afternoon the IPCC said it had no need to intervene and suggested that Merseyside Police act firmly.

“The national policies are clear that membership of the BNP is incompatible with the requirements of the role of a police officer and I know Merseyside Police will act robustly if necessary,” said Naseem Malik, IPCC Commissioner for the North West.

Decisive action is expected to be replicated across the country as individual forces face questions on the political affiliations of their officers.

The Association of Chief Police Officers has banned officers from joining the BNP and a spokesman said it was “highly likely” that forces all over the country would be scanning the list. Police are banned from becoming members of the BNP because it would damage race relations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Spain: Franco Era, Garzon Hands Inquiry to Regional Courts

(by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 18 — The Audiencia Nacional judge, Baltazar Garzon, has decided to drop the preliminary proceedings regarding the “desaparecidos” during the Civil War (1939-1939) and the Franco era (until 1951), which he opened on October 16, thus denying his jurisdiction in favour of the regional courts in the regions where the civilian graves are located. In a 152-page ordinance, which ANSAmed has seen, the judge declares that the criminal responsibility of the dictator Francisco Franco and another 44 high-ranking officials in the national army and in the Spanish Falange is terminated after confirming that they are deceased. But, at the same time, he repeats that the crimes against humanity denounced by more than 22 associations for historic remembrance are not terminated as they are indefeasible and because the 1979 amnesty law cannot be applied to them. On this subject, he gives the example of the “war children” who were taken away from their parents by the regime and who continue to be victims of these crimes. Garzon hands the jurisdiction to the investigating offices of the 20 provinces where graves have already been identified. These provinces will now have to decide whether to continue with the investigation. On his own initiative, according to judicial sources, the investigating judge has anticipated the decision of the criminal section of the Audiencia Nacional which, in plenary session, was to state next week whether the inquest judge had jurisdiction or not. According to the public prosecutor, the case does not concern the high court but rather the courts in the regions where the crimes were committed. It was a trial of strength, culminating last week in the precautionary suspension of the exhumation of 25 mass graves ordered by Garzon, by the criminal section, at the request of the public prosecutor. By prohibiting his jurisdiction, Garzon returns all of the documents belonging to the investigation to three judiciary instances: the regional courts, the criminal section and the ministry for justice, to which he also communicated the appointment of the commission of experts for the research into the opening of the mass graves. Moreover, in the 152 pages, the judge emphasizes forcefully “the duty of the state to investigate the facts sufficiently”, which “demands that the authorities work on their own initiative, without waiting for relatives of the victims to present a formal denunciation and start proceedings”. By abandoning his investigation, the judge hopes to “avoid the overlapping of work involving the gathering of information” and arrive at the “creation of a suitable protocol of exhumations, to identify the bodies, preserving the custodial bonds concerning human remains and other elements or evidence which may be necessary in the area of criminal jurisdiction”. Garzon’s decision has provoked a surprised reaction on the part of the associations for historical memory. Santiago Macias, vice president of ARMH assured that “we are studying other ways to continue the investigation”. In a statement on radio Cadena Ser, Macias stated. “We cannot say that it is the end; lawyers are examining the judge’s action and are considering new initiatives”. Some family members of the victims who constituted the civilian part of the trial are not ruling out an appeal to the European court. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: Franco, Garzon Drops Civil War Inquest

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 18 — The judge of the Audiencia Nacional, Baltazar Garzon, has declared that the criminal responsibility is now terminated for the dictator Francisco Franco and another 40 high-ranking officials in the national army who are now deceased and he referred the inquest which is open into crimes committed during the Civil War and the Franco period to the ordinary regional law courts, in the regions in which the civilian graves are found. The decision, contained in a judiciary deed quoted by the EFE and Europa Press agencies, effectively bans the preliminary section number 5, led by the same Garzon, from the inquest on the “desaparecidos” of the Civil War and Francoism. In the deed, Garzon assigns to the criminal chamber any trial activity regarding the inquest and the decision about requests put forward by associations for remembering history. Garzon then informs the Justice Minister, Mariano Fernandez Bermejo, of the existence of the group of medical, legal and police experts, which was initially constituted for the investigation into the graves to exhume, so that he is aware of this. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Sweden: Joyous Court Climax for Madonna of Orgasm Church

The Madonna of Orgasm Church (Orgasmens Madonnas kyrka) took an important step toward official recognition in Sweden last week when a court ruled it had the right to be registered as a faith community.

Originally, the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency (Kammarkollegiet) had refused the church’s registration application on the grounds that its name may offend Christians.

But the church’s founder, artist Carlos Bebeacua from Lövestad in southern Sweden, won his appeal to the county administrative court.

If the agency does not appeal the court’s decision within three weeks, then it must process Bebeacua’s application to register the church, which he founded in the early 1990s.

According to the Skånska Dagbladet newspaper, the idea for the church came to Bebeacua, who is the church’s self-appointed cardinal, after a painting of his entitled ‘The Madonna of Orgasm’ sparked protests requiring police action during the 1992 World’s Fair in Seville, Spain.

“The orgasm is God, the orgasm should be worshiped,” Bebeacua told the Kvällsposten newspaper.

“The orgasm is the ultimate feeling of lust, it shouldn’t be limited to ejaculation. You can reach it through art or by looking at a landscape and thinking ‘Wow!’“

According to Bebeacua, the church has a few hundred followers, and he hopes that registering the Madonna of Orgasm Church will get more people to consider the orgasm as God.

The church only has priestesses and its scriptures are called the Catechism of the Orgasm. The only gospel peached is the gospel of sex.

“It’s so we do what we know is right and good,” Bebeacua told Kvällsposten.

During ceremonies, the priestesses read verses and eat fruit and drink juice. Sex isn’t the focus, but it’s not forbidden either.

“It’s never happened. I don’t know how we’d react if it happened,” said Bebeacua.

He deflects allegations that his church is all about orgies and sex, claiming its purpose is to help people see orgasms as a metaphor for a love of life.

“There’s nothing dangerous in what we say, we’re harmless. It’s just that we have our doubts about established religions,” he told the TT news agency.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Kosovo: UN Six-Point Plan for EU Mission Deployment Rejected

Pristina, 18 Nov. (AKI) — Kosovo’s President Fatmir Sejdiu said on Tuesday that Kosovo’s institutions have rejected United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s six-point plan for the deployment of the European Union’s police and judicial mission. Sejdiu read out a statement, rejecting the six-point plan referring to parts of Kosovo where Serbs make up the majority population.

The statement followed three hours of talks between US Under-Secretary-of-State Daniel Fried, International High Representative to Kosovo Peter Feith, Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and Sejdiu himself, Kosovo Radio Television reported.

Sejdiu stressed that “the Kosovo institutions will, as always, cooperate with the United States, the EU and NATO.”

The US has spearheaded Kosovo’s independence drive and was among the first 52 countries, which include 22 EU members, to recognise Kosovo.

Taci told Belgrade Radio B92 Kosovar authorities would not tolerate parallel Serbian institutions in the province, nor its partitioning.

Pristina was ready to cooperate with Serbian authorities in Belgrade but it has no authority in Kosovo, “because Kosovo is an independent state,” Taci said.

Belgrade opposes Kosovo’s independence and has resisted EULEX’s deployment without prior approval from the UN Security Council

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


Slovenia: EU Blocks Highway Funds, No to Toll Pass

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 5 — The European Commission has interrupted the process to assign funds destined for highway infrastructure in Slovenia, amounting to 88 million euros, until the procedures linked to the highway tolls that were adopted in July have been concluded. Slovenia wound up in Brussels sights after it imposed a highway toll pass, which in the Commission’s opinion would have been put into effect in a discriminatory way. The Commission, specified spokesman Denis Abbott, stopped the approval process for the funds until Slovenia adopts a short term toll pass that does not discriminate. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Anp: 750,000 Euro From EU to Organise Future Elections

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 18- The European Union has set aside 750,000 euro to aid Palestine’s Electoral Commission to organise future ballots. The coming year will see four projects launched by the Commission, including collaboration with the Education Ministry to train school staff in the electoral system and organise mock elections in classroom time, familiarising children with the voting process. The funding will also have the purpose of organising a simulation planned for 2009, with registration of new electors in schools and the sending of elector “recruitment” teams into the field. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Cinema: Medfilm: Immigration, Thread Uniting Directors

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 13 — Islam in France, the opening of a mosque, second generation immigrants and a return to one’s own roots, hopes of a better life in Europe and the difficulties experienced by immigrants of differing ethnicities in living together. These are all themes shared by many of the works competing for in the 14th MedFilm Festival, presently being held in Rome, until November 16. So it goes with entrepreneur Yusef, who opens a mosque close to the factory he owns for his employees, but is not rewarded by gratitude from all sides, as told in ‘Dernier maquis’(2008), the third chapter in the trilogy on Islam in France by Algerian Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche. Or there is the story of Yacine, a wacky and appealing but also violent-natured Algerian transplanted to France and in search of his identity, as portrayed by Franco-Senegalese film maker Alain Gomis in ‘Andalucia’(2007). And again the themes of identity and belonging to history touch on Sofia, as told in “Française” (2008) by Souad El Bouhat. A second-generation French-Moroccan raised in France until the age of 10, resigns herself to her parents’ decision to return to their homeland but with the promise of a return to the European country she feels is her true home on reaching adulthood. And it is immigration and cultural differences again in “Billo — Le Grand Dakhar” (2006) by Laura Muscardin, the story of a young Senegalese Moslem seeking to realise the dream of working in the fashion industry in Italy, but who finds himself split between the calls of love and an expected child which tie him to an Italian girl and the wife chosen for him by his mother back home. Among the documentaries in the official competition, ‘El Sastre’ (The Tailor, 2007) stands out, in which the 30ish Spanish director, Oscar Perez uses his piercing gaze to tell the human tragedy of Mohamed, a Pakistani tailor, and Singh, his Indian employee, who work together in a tiny shop in the heart of Raval, one of Barcelona’s poorest districts. While in the international short film competition, immigration is dealt with by: Augusto Modigliani with “+39” (2007), one of the many Italian stories with an unhappy ending; Cagla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovanetti, who in “Ata” (2007) describe the loneliness of Ceyla, arrived in France from Turkey to join her fiancée; Marc Brummund with “Land Gewinnen”(2006), the tale of a Ukrainian family in search of a better life in Germany. And lastly, “Sarah” (2007) by Khadija Leclére, in which the protagonist of the piece decides to go to Morocco to meet her mother and her country of origin.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Cinema: Migrant Odyssey to Mediterranean Shown in Naples

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, NOVEMBER 18 — A documentary film by Ethiopia’s Dagmawi Yimer, “Like a man on the earth” will be screened at 5.30pm tomorrow at the Cinema Astra in Naples, the story of the odyssey of migrant Africans across the Libyan desert and the Mediterranean. The film was produced by the Asinitas onlus society, with ZaLab, and it won the second edition of the international competition at the Salina Doc Festival 2008. At the centre of the film are the ups and downs of the main character, played by the director who was forced to leave because of the harsh political repression in Ethiopia, said Alessandro Triulzi, lecturer at the Orientale University in Naples. “A journey in winter 2005, which forced him to cross the desert between Sudan and Libya and witness not only misfortunes tied to violence by the smugglers who control the journeys to the Mediterranean, but also, and especially, the abuses by the Libyan police, who were responsible for indiscriminate arrests and inhuman deportations”. Dagmawi managed to reach Italy by sea, where he learned Italian and the language of documentary film-making. These skills pushed him to gather the accounts of other immigrants on the terrible journey to Libya, and to try to break the incomprehensible silence over what is happening in his country. President of the Euromediterranean and Black Sea Observatory and lecturer at the Federico II University of Naples, Raffaele Porta says that Dagmawi Yimer’s film “lets you hear the actual voices of migrants on the way Libya is managing the control of the migrant flow from Africa”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


TV: Morocco Becomes Shareholder of Euronews

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 13 — At the Board of Directors meeting of the Euronews (Secemie) publishing company, held in Paris on 22 September 2008, SNRT (Societé Nationale de Radiodiffusion et Television) became a shareholder of Euronews. The arrival of the new Moroccan shareholder was motivated by the launch on 12 July 2008 of the eighth language version of Euronews: in Arabic. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria-Morocco: Border Dispute Re-Ignited

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 11 — Tensions have broken out again in what has become a historic dispute between Algeria and Morocco over the two countries’ land borders, which have been closed since 1994 for reasons linked to fighting terrorism, but also to the conflict that has been raging in the Western Sahara, which continues to divide the Maghreb region. The latest dispute can be traced back to a speech made by Mohamed VI on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of the occupation of the former Spanish colony with the “Green March”. In it he criticised Algeriàs “official position” on Western Sahara, accusing it of “doing its utmost to maintain the present situation, running the risk of a Balkanisation of the Maghreb and the Sahel”. Algeriàs response was not long in arriving: “Nobody can accuse Algeria of wanting to Balkanise the Maghreb”, said the country’s Interior Minister, Yazid Zerhouni, as reported by the press. “History will show how unfounded these accusations are. Algeria has always done its best for the construction of a great Arab Maghreb”, Zerhouni averred. “But what kind of an Arab Maghreb do we want to create? At the service of the people, or something else with secret objectives?”, he went on. Rabat has often proposed the re-opening of the frontiers and a normalisation of relations with Algeria. “The border question has to be tackled by assessing the bilateral context, but the regional one as well”, Algiers replied, always on the side of West Saharàs struggle for self-determination. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Algeria: Smoking in Ramadan, Sentence Reduced and Suspended

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 18 — The court in Algiers confirmed the sentences of three of the four young men, who have been detained in preventative detention for around two months, accused of “insulting Islam” for smoking during the holy month of Ramadan, but the sentence was reduced from three years imprisonment to a two-month suspended sentence. For the three defendants, Mustapha T., Farid M., and Hocine T, the new sentence, although reduced from the original one, should still be considered “extremely serious as it represents an insult to the freedom of conscience”, emphasizes a communication from the SOS Liberté collective. “With these witch trials”, continues SOS Liberté, “Algeria once again stands out for its intolerance and the extremism of the officials who try to manage the convictions of citizens”. The boys, originally from Cabilia, were arrested on 21 September for smoking during Ramadan, as they were working on a building site in the upmarket Algiers quarter of Hydra. In Biskra (400 km south-west of Algiers), another six defendants sentenced in the first instance to 4 years in prison for “not respecting Ramadan” were instead acquitted at the end of the appeal trial. The single law which punishes offences against Islam concerns journalistic crimes: “Between 3 and 5 years in prison and fines of between 50,000 and 100,000 dinars are the punishments for anyone who, with words or drawings, offends the Prophet or one of God’s messengers or denigrates the dogmas and rules of Islam”. The rules of Islam state that during Ramadan nothing must pass the lips between dawn and dusk, not water, food or smoke. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Photography: Milan Exhibition on West-Saharan Refugees

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, NOVEMBER 11 — The toil of daily chores, running children and above all people’s smiles despite the thousands of hardships — this is all told by the exhibition “The Desert Rose”, dedicated to refugees in Algeriàs Saharan camps, which opened yesterday evening and will run until November 22. There are 45 photos in all, taken by journalist pair Enrico Fovanna and Michele Novaga in the Smara camp, close to the Algerian city of Tindouf, where refugees originating from the western Sahara are now in their third generation. “The intention — say the journalists — is to present a reportage through images, on theme that unfortunately is given little space in the dailies”. “On conditions in the western Sahara — said Francesco Bastagli, UN envoy to the region up to 2006 — there is an out and out conspiracy of silence”. The strongest impression left by the photos is the serenity of those people “able to keep their dignity even in the conditions they are subjected to living in”. The journalists concentrate mainly on the womenfolk, “the true pillars of Saharan society”. And it is “thanks to the toughness and strength of the women”, noted the province’s councillor for peace, Irma Dioli, that this populace has managed to reorganise itself. “Hopes of an equitable and peaceful solution to the problem of Western Sahara — Dioli said — are also held by this matriarchal society and its resourcefulness”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Egypt: Court Rejects Gas Exports to Israel

Cairo, 18 Nov. (AKI) — An Egyptian court on Tuesday overruled a government accord allowing Egypt to export natural gas to Israel. The court accepted a challenge by a group of lawyers who opposed the gas exports, said Arab TV station Al-Jazeera. The court ruled the agreement illegal because Egypt does not have enough gas even to meet internal demand, Al-Jazeera said.

Also, the court said that according to the agreement, the gas would be sold at a below-market price. The court’s ruling is still subject to appeal in a higher administrative court.

Gas exports to Israel began in 2005 through a pipeline under an agreement signed with the East Mediterranean Gas Company.

The first to protest against the sale of gas to Israel were Islamist political movements, in particular The Muslim Brotherhood.

After three wars in 1948, 1967 and 1973, Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement in 1979.

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


Mideast: Rice; Barak Worried by Iran’s Nuclear Threat

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 7 — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak restated his Country’s worry over Iran’s nuclear projects in a meeting he had with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Jerusalem today. “Israel — Barak said — is convinced Iran is continuing in its efforts to provide itself with nuclear weapons and is cheating the world with talks on arms control”. “I believe — Barak went on — that the leadership of the free world can see these developments, should acknowledge them and take them into consideration when they plan their next steps”. “As to ourselves — he said — we don’t rule out any option and advice others, too, not to rule out any option. We are serious about these statements”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Nuclear: Syria; El Baradei: Report “Inconclusive”

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, NOVEMBER 18- The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), speaking in Dubai yesterday, said that the report on Syria’s nuclear technology, due to be presented by the end of the week, “is not definitive”. “We shall present a report on Syria before the end of the week — El Baradei told journalists on the sidelines of a meeting of economic leaders — and it will not be definitive” on Damascus’ clandestine nuclear activities. According to El Baradei, “there is still work to be done” on the matter, given that “there were traces of uranium (on the site bombed by Israel) but this does not mean that it was a reactor … We have yet to reach a conclusion”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


The Most Anti-American Nation

Since the AKP assumed power in 2002, Turks have heard nothing positive about the West from their leaders.

By Soner Cagaptay — Newsweek

Dear President-Elect Obama: As you take office, I am enthusiastically watching your desire to win hearts and minds around the world. But I am concerned in particular about Turkey. This nation is the embodiment of what the United States and the West want to achieve around the world. It is predominantly Muslim, yet Western and democratic. But the Turks are vehemently anti-American, so much so that they consistently rank in polls as the most anti-American country in the world. According to the Pew Center’s latest poll, only 12 percent of the Turks like the United States—fewer, even, than the percentage of Pakistanis. Obamania in Turkey will help you change America’s image, but given the dismal numbers, I am afraid that might not be enough. Despite the close cooperation with the United States on Iraq, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has taken the easy way, bashing America at home in an attempt to boost its own popularity. But you should not ignore Turkey. Because of its strategic location, Turkey is a key partner to the United States in tackling many foreign-policy challenges. You will need Turkish support and the Turkish base at Incirlik to achieve many of your goals, such as withdrawing troops from Iraq.

So allow me to make some suggestions on tackling anti-Americanism in Turkey…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Turkey Tops Industrial Nations’ Greenhousegas Emissions List

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 17 — Turkey has been announced top among industrialized countries in terms of the rate of increase in greenhouse gases emissions between 1990-2006, THE Hurriyet daily website reports. Turkey’s gas emissions rose 95.1% between 1990-2006, the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat said today. Emissions of greenhouse gases by industrialized nations rose 2.3% from 2000 to 2006, led by gains in former Soviet bloc countries after sharp falls in the 1990s, it added. Total emissions dipped 0.1% from 2005 to 2006, helped by a U.S. fall, but the Secretariat said the trends were still up this century. Overall, emissions by industrialized countries were 4.7% lower than their 1990 levels, the U.N. benchmark for action to slow climate change. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Troops Kill Four Islamic Militants in Kashmir

Srinagar, 18 Nov. (AKI) — Indian troops have killed four alleged Islamic militants in restive Kashmir, near the border with Pakistan overnight on Monday.

A gun battle broke out in the Uri district, close to the de facto border between Pakistan and India. The clashes took place following the first of seven-phased state assembly elections.

The ballot was boycotted by Muslim separatists triggering sporadic clashes.

According to Indian daily The Asian Age quoting election officials, said that turnout was close to 64 percent in Hindu-majority Jammu and the mainly Buddhist Ladakh.

However, in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley, election officials put the turnout at more than 50 percent.

In a separate incident, at least six people were injured when police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse hundreds of demonstrators protesting against the election in the district of Bandipora.

On 26 October 1947, the Hindu ruler of Kashmir said his Muslim-majority kingdom would accede to India and not join newly created Islamic Pakistan.

Kashmir has since been claimed by both India and Pakistan, and three wars have been fought by the two countries over its territory.

Separatist militancy and conflict between the Indian and Pakistani armies has killed tens of thousands and left people brutalised by fighting and fear.

So far 43,000 people have been killed, officials say, but human rights groups put the toll at 60,000.

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


Indonesia: Government to Detain Blogger for Defamation

Communication and Information Minister Muhammad Nuh on Wednesday pledged that his office would arrest a blogger for creating a site that defaming the Prophet Muhammad.

Muhammad Nuh said his office had a tool to detect the blogger’s whereabouts.

“We will penalize anyone or any group responsible for making such blogs,” he told tempointeraktif.com.

Nuh said the blogger had violated the 2008 law on information and electronic transactions, by disseminating information which could create rivalry among religious communities.

City Police special crimes director Commissioner Raja Erizman said police had traced the website and found it was created outside Indonesia.

The blog, which uses the wordpress.com facility, presents cartoons of the Prophet and has been visited by 91,597 people. It also cites misleading translations of Koranic verses and the prophet deeds and sayings stated in the hadiths. (ewd)

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Nepal Asks India to Free Maoists Detained in Its Prisons

The detainees are former commanders of Nepalese revolutionary forces. The solution of the problem of Maoist rebels weighs on the future of the country. The conclusion of the UN mission is also connected to the process of integrating the forces of the People’s Liberation Army into the ranks of the regular army.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) — The Nepalese prime minister is asking India to free the Maoist rebel commanders detained in Indian prisons. Back from the summit in the Bay of Bengal (BIMSTEC), Pushpa Kamal Dahal announced the official request to the head of the government of New Delhi, Manmohan Singh, to “release our cadres who are in the Patna jail.” “The Indian prime minister has given me a positive commitment,” says the Nepalese leader, whose nickname is “Prachanda.”

As of today, more than 20 Maoist rebels are detained in Indian prisons. Immediately after the rise to power of the Maoist party, New Delhi freed two leading exponents of the revolutionary forces detained in the prison of Jalpaiguri, to demonstrate willingness to continue cooperation. The incident has taken on particular significance partly because of the presence of Maoist rebel groups operating in India. According to some analysts, the openness of New Delhi is related to the fact that India is Nepal’s main commercial and economic partner, but the Maoist Prachanda has repeatedly demonstrated that he is more interested in Beijing than in New Delhi.

At the BIMSTEC Meeting, the two prime ministers (in the photo) also addressed the dispute over borders in the regions of Susta and Kalapani. The Maoist leader says that he “emphasized the need to resolve border disputes and curtail criminal activities along bordering areas,” receiving full cooperation from India.

Regarding the extension of the UN mission in Nepal (UNMIN), Prachanda guaranteed that with the BIMSTEC meeting, the judgment of Manmohan Singh on this matter has become more positive. New Delhi has never looked favorably on an extension, but the UNMIN withdrawal date is being compromised by lack of progress in integrating the Maoist revolutionary forces of the People’s Liberation Army into the regular army of Nepal. The head of the government says that “if we fail to complete the army integration task in the remaining three months, we cannot send UNMIN back.”

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


Pakistan: Taliban Seeking to Keep Army Out of Joint Operations With NATO

Peshawar, 18 Nov. (AKI) — By Syed Saleem Shahzad — Militants have over the last 10 days carried out a series of attacks in the northwest against a key airport and military supply route and have killed several tribal chiefs. The attacks may be seen as part of a deliberate bid to prevent the Pakistani military from taking part with NATO in a joint operation to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Kunar Valley and in the troubled Bajaur and Mohmand tribal areas on the Afghan border.

Militants have launched 17 rocket and missile attacks this month against the airport in Peshawar, the main town in North West Frontier Province.

The militants blockaded the key Khyber Pass route for fuel tankers and trucks supplying international forces in Afghanistan. The route re-opened on Monday after the government barred the movement of convoys on safety grounds following the hijacking and looting by militants of 12 trucks and two Humvee armoured vehicles last week.

Militants have in recent days killed several key tribal chiefs in Bajaur who were trying to form pro-government lashkars (militias) to fight against the Taliban, and have abducted several others.

On Tuesday a clash between Taliban militants and pro-government tribal elders left at least five people dead, according to official government sources in Bajaur.

The Pakistani government launched a major offensive against militants in Bajaur three months ago and Pakistani troops and tribal militias are continuing to battle Taliban guerrillas there.

Taliban gunmen exchanged fire with tribal leaders holed up in a fortress-like compound in Bajaur for several hours late on Monday. Suspected Taliban militants are also reported to have killed several tribal elders there the same day.

Taliban militants carried out attacks in the Orakzai tribal area a few weeks ago and forced local tribes to stay neutral and abandon all tribal militia activities against the Taliban instigated by the government.

The government’s efforts to sow divisions within the militants’ rank and file has also proved ineffective.

Taliban commander Abdul Wali chose to keep out of the conflict but refused to support the Pakistani army against the militants in Bajaur. The various small groups previously working under Wali’s command however, backed the militants in Bajaur against the army.

A tribal warlord in the Khyber tribal area bordering Afghanistan, Mangal Bagh, has also made clear to the government that he would rather remain neutral and not take up arms against Taliban militants seeking to hijack NATO convoys in the region and cut off supply routes.

The overwhelming majority of supplies for international forces in Afghanistan are shipped into the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi and cross the border via Balochistan and the Khyber Pass. There are virtually no alternative routes available.

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


Prophet Cartoon Row in Indonesia

The Indonesian government says it has called on a blogging website to take down two cartoons which depict Muslim Prophet Muhammad in sexual situations.

The communications minister said the drawings were “very inappropriate”, and said if necessary he would ask internet service providers to block the site.

The cartoons, which appeared on the website last month, have provoked fierce debate among viewers.

Many Muslims believe it is forbidden to depict Muhammad in any form.

The two cartoons, which are several pages long, each tell a sexually explicit story involving the Prophet, interspersed with verses apparently lifted from the Koran.

Indonesia’s communications minister described the cartoons as “very unethical and very inappropriate”.

He said the ministry was asking the website to remove them. And if necessary, he said, it would ask internet service providers to block access to the website itself.

A ministry spokesman said the cartoons were offensive, not just to Muslims, but to all religions.

There were protests in Indonesia two years ago when cartoons depicting Muhammad appeared in a Danish newspaper.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Top Al-Qaeda Leader Killed in US Missile Strike

A major al-Qaeda operative of Arab origin was among the five alleged militants killed in a suspected U.S. missile strike in northwest Pakistan, a senior security official said on Wednesday.

Security sources identified the militant as Abdullah Azam al-Saudi, a senior member in Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network.

“He was a senior commander of al-Qaeda and was involved in recruiting and training of fighters,” the senior official said.

He is the second high-profile al-Qaeda operative killed in recent U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

The suspected U.S. drone aircraft fired two missiles at a house in northwestern Pakistan, killing five suspected foreign militants and wounding several people the pre-dawn attack.

Missile-armed drones are primarily used by U.S. forces in the region, though the United States seldom confirms drone attacks. Pakistan does not have any.

Many Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, including Arabs, Chechens, Turkmen, Uzbeks and other Central Asians, fled to Pakistan’s tribal lands after a U.S.-led military invasion toppled the Taliban government in Afghanistan in late 2001.

Frustrated by fighters from Pakistan fuelling the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and fearful of al-Qaeda regrouping, U.S. forces have intensified missile attacks by pilotless drones, security sources said.

Egyptian al-Qaeda operative Abu Jihad al-Masri, described by the U.S. as the terrorist network’s propaganda chief, was killed in a missile strike in Pakistan in the early hours of Nov. 1.

He was among several rebels killed when two missiles fired by a suspected U.S. spy drone hit a truck in the North Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan, security officials said.

Al-Qaeda number two Ayman Zawahiri warned U.S. president-elect Barack Obama against sending more troops to Afghanistan, in an Internet audiomessage released on Wednesday.

“What you have announced before … that you will withdraw (U.S.) troops from Iraq (and send them) to Afghanistan is a policy that is doomed to failure,” Zawahiri said in the message made available by the SITE Intelligence Group.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Indian Navy Foils Another Attack by Somali Pirates

NEW DELHI: Even as the world’s largest supertanker the Saudi Sirius Star continues to be in the grip of pirates of the coast of Somalia, the Indian navy appears to have taken the lead in the fight against pirates. ( Watch )

An Indian warship deployed in the Gulf of Aden fought Somali pirates and destroyed their vessel after a brief battle, the navy said on Wednesday.

Two accompanying speed boats sped away after the main vessel was blown up late on Tuesday.

“INS Tabar retaliated in self defence and opened fire on the mother vessel,” the navy said in a statement.

“As a result of the firing by INS Tabar, fire broke out on the vessel and explosions were heard, possibly due to exploding ammunition that was stored on the vessel.”

Naval officers on board the warship said they spotted pirates moving on the deck with rocket propelled grenade launchers.

“On repeated calls, the vessel’s threatening response was that she would blow up the naval warship,” the navy said.

India deployed INS Tabar, a naval warship, to escort Indian ships after the country’s shipping firms said they were losing $450,000 a month on cost overruns and delays in meeting deadlines.

Crew members are reluctant to sail in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s most important sea trade routes, fearing attacks by pirates.

Meanwhile, Saudi supertanker Sirius Star was hijacked over the weekend and has anchored off the coast of Somalia in Eyl, even as pirates took over another Iranian-operated cargo vessel with a Hong Kong flag ‘Delight’. US navy commander Jane Campbell of the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said the status of the crew and cargo was not known. There are some Indians among the 25-member crew.

In the first-ever action after being deployed in the Gulf of Aden, the Indian navy on November 11 thwarted an attempt by pirates to capture an Indian merchant vessel in the region. The ship, M V Jag Arnav, had recently crossed the Suez Canal and was eastward bound when it was surrounded by pirates, who tried to board and hijack the ship, navy sources in New Delhi said.

When the 38,265-tonne bulk carrier, owned by Mumbai-based Great Eastern Shipping Company, raised an alarm, it caught the attention of the Indian naval warship, INS Tabar, which was patrolling in the Gulf of Aden waters.

           — Hat tip: Zonka[Return to headlines]


Pirates’ Luxury Lifestyles on Lawless Coast

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia’s increasingly brazen pirates are building sprawling stone houses, cruising in luxury cars, marrying beautiful women — even hiring caterers to prepare Western-style food for their hostages.

And in an impoverished country where every public institution has crumbled, they have become heroes in the steamy coastal dens they operate from because they are the only real business in town.

“The pirates depend on us, and we benefit from them,” said Sahra Sheik Dahir, a shop owner in Haradhere, the nearest village to where a hijacked Saudi Arabian supertanker carrying $100 million in crude was anchored Wednesday.

These boomtowns are all the more shocking in light of Somalia’s violence and poverty: Radical Islamists control most of the country’s south, meting out lashings and stonings for accused criminals. There has been no effective central government in nearly 20 years, plunging this arid African country into chaos.

Life expectancy is just 46 years; a quarter of children die before they reach 5.

But in northern coastal towns like Haradhere, Eyl and Bossaso, the pirate economy is thriving thanks to the money pouring in from pirate ransoms that have reached $30 million this year alone.

In Haradhere, residents came out in droves to celebrate as the looming oil ship came into focus this week off the country’s lawless coast. Businessmen started gathering cigarettes, food and cold glass bottles of orange soda, setting up small kiosks for the pirates who come to shore to re-supply almost daily.

Dahir said she is so confident in the pirates, she instituted a layaway plan just for them.

“They always take things without paying and we put them into the book of debts,” she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “Later, when they get the ransom money, they pay us a lot.”

For Somalis, the simple fact that pirates offer jobs is enough to gain their esteem, even as hostages languish on ships for months. The population makes sure the pirates are well-stocked in qat, a popular narcotic leaf, and offer support from the ground even as the international community tries to quash them.

“Regardless of how the money is coming in, legally or illegally, I can say it has started a life in our town,” said Shamso Moalim, a 36-year-old mother of five in Haradhere.

“Our children are not worrying about food now, and they go to Islamic schools in the morning and play soccer in the afternoon. They are happy.”

Despite a beefed-up international presence, the pirates continue to seize ships, moving further out to sea and demanding ever-larger ransoms. The pirates operate mostly from the semiautonomous Puntland region, where local lawmakers have been accused of helping the pirates and taking a cut of the ransoms.

For the most part, however, the regional officials say they have no power to stop piracy.

Meanwhile, towns that once were eroded by years of poverty and chaos are now bustling with restaurants, Land Cruisers and Internet cafes. Residents also use their gains to buy generators — allowing full days of electricity, once an unimaginable luxury in Somalia.

There are no reliable estimates of the number of pirates operating in Somalia, but they must number in the thousands. And though the bandits do sometimes get nabbed, piracy is generally considered a sure bet to a better life.

NATO and the U.S. Navy say they can’t be everywhere, and American officials are urging ships to hire private security. Warships patrolling off Somalia have succeeded in stopping some pirate attacks. But military assaults to wrest back a ship are highly risky and, up to now, uncommon…

           — Hat tip: Paul Green[Return to headlines]


Pirates ‘Working With Islamists’

Somali pirates have been accused of forming what is described as an “unholy high seas alliance” with some of the country’s Islamist insurgents.

Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor says certain insurgents are using pirates to smuggle weapons and supplies and help provide bases in return.

The London-based newsletter says pirates are also training Somali hardliners in naval tactics.

The links are traced to 2007, after Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia.

The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which took control of much of southern Somalia in 2006, had cracked down on pirate operations in Hobyo and Harardheere.

They even freed a dhow captured by the pirates in August 2006.

But after the UIC were ousted, various Islamic groups formed links with the pirates.

           — Hat tip: Paul Green[Return to headlines]


Somalia: Aramco Says it Will Negotiate With Pirates Over Seized Oil Tanker

Mogadishu and Riyadh, 19 Nov. (AKI) — Saudi oil giant Aramco, whose subsidiary Vela International owns the hijacked supertanker Sirus Star said on Wednesday it would make contact with the Somali pirates who seized the ship on Saturday. The pirates have demanded a ransom for the release of the tanker, the largest one ever hijacked, which has a 25-member crew on board and is fully loaded with two million barrels of oil worth over 100 million dollars. The vessel is now anchored off the Somali coast.

“During the course of the day we will make contact with the Somalis and negotiate the release of our oil tanker,” Aramco said in a statement quoted by Arabic satellite TV channel Al-Arabiya.

The pirates in an audio tape released on Wednesday demanded a ransom in exchange for the release of the Sirius Star and its crew, an unspecified and negotiable sum that could reportedly reach four million dollars.

In the tape, the pirates have warned that they have a machine that can detect false banknotes, said Bili Mahmoud Qabusad, spokesman for the Somali region of Puntland’s president.

According to Qabusad, the pirates probably come from the Somali capital, Mogadishu and set sail ten days ago on their mission to hijack the Sirius Star.

Also on Wednesday, the Indian navy said one of its warships in the Gulf of Aden opened fire on a ship belonging to pirates operating off the coast of Somalia, sinking the vessel.

The Indian navy said the pirates on board were armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers and threatened to blow up the warship and then opened fire on it.

A string of vessels have been hijacked recently in the Gulf of Aden — a key shipping route connecting the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

More than 92 ships have been attacked his year, more than three times the number in 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau. At least 14 of these vessels, carrying over 250 crew members, are still in the control of hijackers.

An estimated 25-30 million dollars has been paid in ransom to Somali pirates this year, according to a UN report released on Tuesday.

Multinational naval vessels began patrolling the Gulf of Aden in August and have reportedly thwarted two dozen attacks.

Private US security firm Blackwater has announced it is launching a flotilla of gunboats for hire by the shipping companies crossing the Gulf of Aden’s 2.5 million square miles of sea.

Roughly 11 percent of the world’s seaborne petroleum passes through the waterway.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government since 1991 and has suffered continuing civil strife.

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

Latin America

Peru, China to Sign Trade Accord Quickly, Garcia Says

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) — Peru and China will sign a free trade accord at “top speed” after concluding negotiations this week, the Andean nation’s President Alan Garcia said today.

The accord will spur trade between the two nations, Garcia said during a broadcast after meeting in Lima with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The Chinese leader arrived today for a meeting of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Lima.

“China’s continuing growth will provide the solution to the global crisis,” Garcia said at a ceremony in the Presidential Palace. “Trade between Peru and China is growing substantially, meaning we should be able to beat our goal of $20 billion in annual trade by 2015.”

Peru, which in the past year has signed trade agreements with the U.S., Canada, Thailand and Singapore, is trying to line up new markets for its products as demand slows in the U.S., the Andean nation’s main trading partner. Trade between Peru and China last year totaled about $5.5 billion, mostly in minerals and fishmeal, according to the Trade Ministry.

Chinese miners Aluminum Corp., Zijin Mining Group Co. and China Minmetals Corp. have all bought Peruvian copper mines in the past year, while China National Petroleum Corp. is exploring for oil and Hong Kong-based Pacific Andes International Holdings Ltd. bought a fishmeal company.

Minmetals and partner Jiangxi Copper Co. today signed a letter of intent with China Development Bank and Peru’s Banco de Credito to finance the Galeno copper project. Galeno, Peru’s fourth-largest copper deposit, has 765 million tons of copper reserves.

“Our bilateral relations are entering a new phase,” Hu said. “I’m ready to reinforce this strategic relationship.”

The Peruvian sol was little changed at 3.1025 to the U.S. dollar after the central bank sold $132 million on the exchange market today.

[Return to headlines]

Immigration

‘Dutch Positive on Immigration Despite Linking it to Crime’

THE HAGUE, 19/11/08 — The Dutch see a stronger link than most other Europeans between immigration and crime. At the same time, the number of people saying immigration in general is a problem is relatively low in the Netherlands, according to the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The organisation surveyed public opinion in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland for its report ‘Transatlantic Trends: Immigration’, which was published yesterday. The survey shows that 50% of Americans and 47% of Europeans think immigration is more of a problem than an opportunity, but a closer look shows marked differences within Europe.

Asked whether immigration is “more of a problem” or “more of an opportunity,” 50 percent of Americans said it is “more of a problem.” The European average was 47 percent. The United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Poland all have majorities or pluralities defining immigration as “more of a problem”, while pluralities in both France (46%) and the Netherlands (42%) say it is “more of an opportunity.”

On the other hand, 61 percent of the Dutch say that immigration will increase crime in their society. Only Italians were gloomier. On average 52% of Europeans and 47% of Americans say that immigration will increase crime in their society.

The Dutch, much more so than other Europeans, reject multilateral immigration policies. “The United Kingdom and the Netherlands clearly favour national sovereignty on the management of migration,” say the researchers, with “54% and 74%, respectively, favouring a unilateral approach”.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Immigration: Moroccans Among Largest Immigrant Groups in EU

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 18 — In 2006, the largest foreign immigrant groups in the EU27 were citizens of Poland (about 290 000 persons), Romania (about 230 000), Morocco (about 140 000), the United Kingdom, Ukraine and China (each about 100 000) and Germany (about 90 000), according to a press release issued by Eurostat today. In 2006, about three million foreign immigrants settled in a country in the EU27. These immigrants can be divided into two groups based on their citizenship: citizens of EU27 Member states (1.2 million persons) and non-EU27 citizens (1.8 million). EU27 citizens migrating to a Member State, of which they were not citizens, accounted for 40% of foreign immigrants. The remaining 60% of foreign immigrants were almost equally divided between citizens of countries in Europe outside the EU27, Asia, America and Africa, with each accounting for about 15%. In 2006, the largest number of foreign immigrants was recorded in Spain (803.000 persons), Germany (558.500) and the United Kingdom4 (451.700), who together received 60% of all foreign immigrants in the EU27. When compared with the population in the Member State of destination, the highest rate of foreign immigration in the EU27 was recorded in Luxembourg (28.8 foreign immigrants per 1.000 inhabitants), followed by Ireland (19.6), Cyprus (18.7), Spain (18.1) and Austria (10.3), compared with the EU27 average of 6.2 foreign immigrants per 1.000 inhabitants. Rates were 1 foreign immigrant per 1 000 inhabitants or less in Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Latvia.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Non-European Immigrants Coming to Britain Double in a Year

The number of non-European immigrants coming to Britain has almost doubled between 2006 and 2007, at the same time as the number of incomers from eastern European Union countries declined.

Figures published by the European Commission showed a marked slow down of immigration from Eastern Europe, down from 205,000 incomers to Britain in 2006 to 185,000 in 2007.

At the same time, the numbers of immigrants entering Britain from non-European regions, such as Asia, has risen sharply, almost doubling from 90,000 in 2006 to 176,000 people last year.

The Conservatives have seized on the latest figures to step up calls for an annual cap on the number of immigrants coming to Britain from outside EU countries.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

“Body of Lies” Latest Hollywood Movie Insulting Islam, Jordan

AMMAN- A new movie titled “Body of Lies” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, screened in cinemas worldwide blatantly insults Islam and Jordan, where some scenes were filmed.

In the movie DiCaprio plays the role of a CIA officer working undercover in Jordan in order to apprehend a “terrorist” network working inside Jordan. The British actor Mark Strong plays the role of a Jordanian intelligence agent called “Hani Salam” who helps DiCaprio in his mission. Ed Hoffman plays the role of CIA operations coordinator using the most sophisticated satellite monitoring devices. The movie showed scenes that were intended to depict the location as being Jordan and Iraq. Most of the movie was filmed in Morocco.

Linking Islam with terrorism

Like many other Hollywood movies this one also portrays Islam in a poor light. It links Islam with terrorism by subtle means. The call to prayer is the backdrop of many acts of violence and bearded men are involved in gruesome violence.

Insult to Jordan

The main setting of the movie is Jordan. But the scenes show terribly broken down suburbs with poor cluttered street bazaars with donkeys moving about drawing heavy loads and rubbish sites on which kids scramble and narrow streets that are filthy with drain water running all over the place.

The worst scene is where the head of Jordan Intelligence, ‘Hani Salam,’ is shown in a hotel fraternizing with European ladies while drinking alcohol.

Kuwait bans the movie

The Film Censorship Department of Kuwait this week banned the screening of the movie. The department said that the movie clearly identifies some Arab countries and presents a distorted image of Muslims and Arabs.

It said in a statement published in the Kuwaiti newspaper, As Siyassah, that many scenes in the movie depicts false images of Arab countries and the Muslims and Arabs are accountable for terrorist acts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Biennale: Assaf, From Lebanon a Play on War Drama

(by Paolo Petroni) (ANSAmed) — VENICE, November 10 — Roger Assaf, in the play ‘Fatima’s Door’, shown at the Venice Biennale on the very day he was handed the career achievement Gold Lion of the Theatre Biennale, tells about the horror of war, the slaying of children, the killing of pregnat women, women left alone, houses demolished, grief and anger. In brief, the war, but this one is the war lived through by the Lebanese and Palestinians under Israeli bombs. So, talking about it makes for a hot subject. The audience keeps silent before the intense play and the images moving on a large screen, up to the end when it breaks out applauding warmly for several minutes. One might be moved to say that what can be seen, what is told through a number of events, all from women’s viewpoint, is a war from the losing side. But anything can be said about this people except that they feel defeated. Assaf walks on the stage himself to witness to this. He is the one who when the civilian war broke out in Lebanon in 1977, set up his theatrical company al-Hakawati and he never stopped working, not even under the bombing of July 2006, when he addressed a letter to intellectuals all over the world, telling them his theatre was open all the time even amid the debris and people were working all together, from different creeds and ideologies, and challenging them by ending with a question: “We are fine, and you?”. The play, shown at the Piccolo Arsenale Theatre, recalls also the rockets launched into Israeli territory day in day out and focuses on a dialogue-confrontation between an Israeli mother and a Plestinian one. The former tells about her son fighting an awful war far away. The latter tells about defending her land, leaving alone her home, which is by now a heap of rubble. The former accuses the other one of living “with the devil”, hosting a terrorist organization so that she isn’t an ‘innocent victim’. The latter tells about appalling stories, horrible massacres and absolute dispair. Then come the unbelievable figures of the victims, the millions of cluster bombs and other devices dropped, of houses, schools, hospitals destroyed. And there is no way out. Yet you cannot think of a scale leaning no way. A big screen looms behind the actors and the latter seem often to belong to what you see there. They start by showing a bride, her smiling pictures in front of the sea, then suddenly all turns black, turns red, amid big blasts. Then various stories are told and even when an Israely Army squad carries out a humanitarian action, one wonders after all what are they doing there, far away from their Country, in a land which isn’t Israeli. The play was a big hit in Paris. It is rich, intense, with a few handsome ideas, pressing, at times even funny, and poetical — the mother who talks to sea turtles asking them for news about her son who died at sea. The director gets into and out of fiction, because you cannot escape reality. But reality by itself is no esplanation. Then, the moral, the strength of life which does not accept being destroyed, is in a sentence by Assaf: “our dignity comes from the humanity who are denied the fundamental human rights who are reserved to those who promulgate them”. One can hardly be left indifferent. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy ‘Working for’ US- Russia Meet

Return to ‘spirit of Pratica di Mare’ urged

(ANSA) — Trieste, November 18 — Italy is working towards a meeting between United States President-elect Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday.

Speaking after an Italo-German summit in Trieste, Berlusconi said it was one of Italy’s top foreign policy priorities to try to return the US and Russia to the ‘‘spirit’’ of a 2002 summit at Pratica di Mare near Rome where a landmark accord between Russia and NATO was signed.

Berlusconi reiterated his concern over US-Russian tension on tit-for-tat missile deployment.

‘‘For anyone who lived for decades with the nightmare of two opposing nuclear arsenals, returning to the past is…to be avoided’’.

Italy is making diplomatic efforts to get Obama and Medvedev together, Berlusconi said, ‘‘also taking advantage of the fact that they are young, represent the new generation of politics (and are) distant’’ from the Cold War. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said last week that a strategy of missile proliferation was ‘‘no good for Europe, Russia or the United States’’ and Italy could help ease tensions. After Moscow’s decision to deploy missiles near the Polish border in response to the planned US missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, Frattini said: ‘‘Italy is really one of the few countries that can play a facilitating role. And I hope President-elect (Barack) Obama can meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev really soon to discuss these issues’’.

Frattini denied suggestions that Italy was ‘‘veering East’’ after Berlusconi said the day before Russia had been ‘‘provoked’’ into deploying the missiles.

‘RETURN TO PRATICA DI MARE’.

‘‘For us it is indispensable that there is a strategic security framework, which includes Europe and the United States as pillars of world security but which addresses Russia as a strategic partner,’’ he said, echoing Berlusconi in calling for ‘‘a return to the spirit of Pratica di Mare’’.

Berlusconi previously had said: ‘‘Let’s be clear: we believe that there were provocations towards the Russian Federation with the plan to place missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic, with the unilateral recognition of Kosovo and then the acceleration of the NATO entry process for Ukraine and Georgia’’.

Russia then responded ‘‘in a way that the US administration considered arrogant,’’ he said.

Last week Frattini said Italy had ‘‘doubts’’ about speeding up the NATO accession process for Ukraine and Georgia and stressed that the two countries must meet all the preconditions for entry.

Earlier this month President Medvedev announced the move to distribute short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian territory between Poland and Lithuania.

He said the deployment would counter the US anti-missile system to be based in Poland and the Czech Republic by 2013-2014.

Moscow has said the US plans threaten Russian security and dismissed claims they are directed against ‘rogue states’ like Iran.

Medvedev had said the US sped up its missile defence plans in reaction to August’s war in Georgia, in which Russia clashed with its southern neighbour over the Moscow-backed South Ossetia region.

The Russian president’s announcement drew criticism from the West, with the US calling it ‘‘disappointing’’ and Germany saying it was ‘‘the wrong message at the wrong time’’.

The European Union also expressed strong concern over Russia’s decision.

Medvedev last week hinted the Russian missiles would not be deployed if the US decided not to go ahead with its missile shield.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Muslims Face Bias of the ‘Turban Effect’: Study

It turns out Islamophobia is no myth. Researchers in psychology and medicine have found that anti-Muslim sentiment is a very real phenomenon with potentially dire effects on safety and medical care.

During last week’s United Nations interfaith dialogue, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon singled out Islamophobia as “a new term for an old and terrible form of prejudice.”

Simply appearing Muslim can increase aggressive tendencies towards Muslims a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found. They termed this bias the “Turban Effect.”…

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Spain-USA: Biden in Madrid Soon After Taking Office

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 18 — During a telephone conversation with Premier José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the incoming vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, has announced that he will soon visit Spain taking office on January 20. During the ten-minute call, government sources told El Pais, Barak’s number two stressed the importance of bilateral relations between the United States and Spain and the role played by the latter in cooperation with Latin America. Joe Biden went on to link the importance given by the US administration to multilateral relations and the need to follow the road opened with the G-20 summit in Washington to tackle the recession in the United States and in Europe through globally-coordinated action. The incoming US vice President and Zapatero further agreed on the need to propose new public incentives for re-starting the economy and to provide a boost to reforms of the global financial system, opening a debate on the future role of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The conversation with Zapatero came within a round of contacts made by Biden with representatives of the governments of several countries. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Tariq Ramadan: “Do Not Demonise Islam”

Following Pope Benedict XVI’s famous speech in Regensburg, the crisis in relations between Christians and Muslims has over time become an opportunity for starting a Christian-Islamic forum, in which the well-known intellectual Tariq Ramadan is also taking part. As is now clear, and as proven by two recent books (one a thesis by Nina zu Furstenberg and Islam and Freedom by Ramadan), this former “friend of the terrorists” is in fact a Muslim reformist of ‘liberal’ extraction, if the word is not excessive, since he has made a decisive choice, that of contextualising the words of the Scriptures and not stopping at the literal meaning but rather searching for the profounder one…

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


Zawahri Calls Obama a “House Negro”

CAIRO,Egypt (AP) — Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri insulted Barack Obama in the terror group’s first reaction to his election, calling him a demeaning racial term implying that the president-elect is a black American who does the bidding of whites.

The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites Wednesday, that Obama is “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.

Al-Zawahri also called Obama—along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice—”house negroes.”

Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term “abeed al-beit,” which literally translates as “house slaves.” But al-Qaida supplied English subtitles of his speech that included the translation as “house negroes.”

The message also includes old footage of speeches by Malcolm X in which he explains the term, saying black slaves who worked in their white masters’ house were more servile than those who worked in the fields. Malcolm X used the term to criticize black leaders he accused of not standing up to whites.

The 11-minute 23-second video features the audio message by al-Zawahri, who appears only in a still image, along with other images, including one of Obama wearing a Jewish skullcap as he meets with Jewish leaders. In his speech, al-Zawahri refers to a Nov. 5 U.S. airstrike attack in Afghanistan, meaning the video was made after that date.

Al-Zawahri said Obama’s election has not changed American policies he said are aimed at oppressing Muslims and others.

“America has put on a new face, but its heart full of hate, mind drowning in greed, and spirit which spreads evil, murder, repression and despotism continue to be the same as always,” the deputy of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden said.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

2 comments:

Conservative Swede said...

Berlusconi previously had said: ‘‘Let’s be clear: we believe that there were provocations towards the Russian Federation with the plan to place missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic, with the unilateral recognition of Kosovo and then the acceleration of the NATO entry process for Ukraine and Georgia’’.

Great guy, Berlusconi!

And he got it all covered, including Kosovo, an issue we all here care dearly about.

People here in the forum will have to start thinking over what politicians that they really should support. The ones with an aggressive agenda against Russia were also all in favour of raping the Serbian nation and creating a new Muslim state in Europe. The correlation is virtually complete between the two, and there's a reason for it.

Dump your Russia-hating Kosovo-loving politicians and adopt Berluscuni; both your support for him, but also his calm and reasoned attitude about Rusia.

Probably the only sane head of the country all across Eurooe.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

So apparently Germany just banned all celtic style crosses because neo nazi types use them sometimes. Predictable adulatory masturbation and celebration at you know where...

Great plan, Germany! Great plan... god. There are people talking about melting down their jewellery so they don't have to have the Hated Symbol touching their skin any more. Christ and all his holy love save me from the internet...