Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/26/2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/26/2008There has been a spot of trouble in Egypt recently with the Coptic (Christian) minority — it seems these uppity infidels tried to build a church. The nerve!

I’ll blog on the story if I get a chance. In the meantime, there are several articles in the North Africa section about the Copts.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, TB, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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USA
Orders From New President to Spark Lawsuit Every Time
Our Idol-Elect
 
Europe and the EU
Cash to Name Kids After Mussolini
Denmark: Naughty Ministers Get Tongue-Lashing From PM
German Auto Industry Facing the Abyss
Italian Outcry Over Swedish ‘Slander’
Italy: Immigrants Field List in Northern City’s Polls
Netherlands: CDA Think-Tank Wants Drastic Measures Against ‘Imported Brides’
Netherlands: Burqa Ban Extended to Universities
Spain: Barcelona Opens First Marine Consulate in Shanghai
UK: Agency Ripped for Killing a Terrorist
UK: Council Spends £70,000 on ‘SAS’ Rubbish Inspectors to Snoop in People’s Bins
Universities: Spain, Police and Students Clash in Barcelona
Violence Women: France; Alarm, One Death Every Two Days
 
Mediterranean Union
Education: EIB to Finance Jordan Project for Childhood
Energy: Israeli-PNA Cooperation Under EU Aegis Goes Ahead
 
North Africa
Egypt: Muslim-Police Fight Over Coptic Church in Cairo
Egypt: First Woman Mayor Elected, From Copt Minority
Egypt: Abu-Fana’s Wall Up
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Mideast: Peres and Napolitano, Islam Doesn’t Preach Murder
Olmert Announces He Wants Quick Peace Deal
 
Middle East
First All-Female Demining Team in Mideast Get Licence
Kuwait’s Gov’t Resigns, Parliament May be Dissolved
Middle East: Italian President Shares Israel’s Concern About Iran
Saudi Arabia: Hundreds Accused of ‘Immorality’
UAE: British Beach Sex Couple Freed in Dubai
Violence Against Women: Jordan, 20% Approve to be Beaten
 
Russia
Egypt: Premier in Moscow to Boost Economic Cooperation
 
South Asia
Islamic Councils Against Catholic Magazine of Kuala Lumpur: Forbidden to Use the Word “Allah”
Pakistan to Receive Up to $4bn From IMF by Thursday
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
Somalia: Pirates Board Yemeni Cargo Ship
Somalia: Germany Ready to Send Troops to Deter Piracy
 
Immigration
Immigration: Greece, Human Traffic Network Stopped
Immigration: Tunisia, Twelve Illegal Migrants Arrested
 
Culture Wars
‘Gay’ Adoption Ban Ruled Unconstitutional
 
General
Natalee Holloway Sold for $10,000?
Russian Professor Says U.S. Will Break Up After Economic Crisis
Sold Out at £6 a Bar … the Tastebud Sensation That’s a Mix of Milk Chocolate and Smoky Bacon
Swede Named in White House Chef Speculation
The Cartoon Wars Revisited

USA

Orders From New President to Spark Lawsuit Every Time

A lawyer who is playing a key role in a California lawsuit urging officials to prevent the state’s 55 Electoral College votes from being recorded for Barack Obama until questions about his citizenship are resolved says he’s organizing plans to challenge, even after the inauguration, every order, every proposal, every piece of paperwork generated by Obama.

“We will file lawsuits on his actions, every time. As long as we have money , we will keep filing lawsuits until we get a decision as to his citizenship status,” Gary Kreep, chief of the United States Justice Foundation, told WND today.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Our Idol-Elect

Note: Lyle H. Rossiter Jr., M.D., is a forensic psychiatrist and author of “The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness.”

Charismatic, brilliant, mesmerizing. These and other glowing attributions have been assigned to President-elect Barack Obama in a wave of electoral celebration. As he bounds up steps and strides across platforms to roars of approval, tears of joy on ecstatic faces, even swoons, greet his eminence. A harsh political critic, formerly intent on altering his anatomy, now weeps in his presence. A woman widely known for her wisdom dubs him “The One.” The Phenomenon himself modestly declares: “We are the ones we have been waiting for,” though he really means “I am The One you have been waiting for.” With his dazzling debut on the world’s political stage, even foreigners have suspended their fashionable contempt for all things American. Millions now acknowledge a new Idol.

Of course, there is nothing new about the human tendency to create idealized personas, especially in politics. In fact, idealizing others is part of normal human development. The toddler-age child believes his mother is the most wonderful person in the world. Overlooking her flaws, he expects her to protect him (even if she doesn’t), to meet all his needs and desires (even if she doesn’t) and to relieve his pain (even if she doesn’t). By age 4 or 5, his bond with her will include something akin to worship. In those same preschool years, he will likely idealize his father for real or imagined powers, again, with something akin to worship.

By their late grade school years, children idealize rock stars and sports heroes. “Overestimation of the object,” as we psychiatrists sometimes call it, is surely present when we fall in love: the newly struck lover invariably idealizes his beloved. In our adult spiritual lives, our reverence for the deity is defined in part by its inherent idealism and by our expectations of salvation. In the normal course of development, we idealize certain ethical and moral principles, and at the core of our patriotism lies a deep reverence for the political ideals that define our country. Idealizing is in our genes.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Cash to Name Kids After Mussolini

Population incentive by small, rightwing party in south

(ANSA) — Potenza, November 24 — A small, far right Italian political party is offering a 1,500-euro cash incentive to parents here in southern Italy to name their children after Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini or his wife Rachele.

The Movimento Sociale-Fiamma Tricolore (MS-FT) said the offer was open to residents in five municipalities in the region of Potenza, where the population is in the low hundreds, who give birth in 2009.

The 1,500 euros will be given on the condition that, aside from naming the boys Benito and girls Rachele, the money be used to buy cribs, clothes, food or other products specifically made for newborns.

According to the regional head of the MS-FT, Vicenzo Mancusi, the initiative ‘‘does not resolve the problem of the region’s declining population, but it is a small attempt by a small party’’.

Mancusi added that the Basilicata region ‘‘could do a lot more and give 1,500 euros a year to all children born in the region until they reach 18 years of age, after which they would receive a bonus of 50,000 euros’’.

This could be paid for, he explained, from the license fees collected for drilling rights in this relatively oil-rich area of Italy.

The right-wing politician claimed that the choice of the names Benito and Rachele for the newborns set to receive the cash was ‘‘purely casual. They’re nice names’’. The small party’s name is a reference to the post-war Movimento Sociale Italiana (Italian Social Movement) neofascist party — which in turn was named after Mussolini’s Repubblica Sociale Italiana, created with Nazi support in northern Italy after he was toppled from power during World War II.

Fiamma Tricolore refers to the party’s symbol of the green, white and red flame representing the Italian flag’s colors.

The towns where the incentives will be available are: Calvera, Carbone, Cersosimo, Fardella and San Paolo Albanese.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Denmark: Naughty Ministers Get Tongue-Lashing From PM

The prime minister used a party group meeting as an opportunity to scold the integration, social welfare and tax ministers

Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen did not hide his disappointment Tuesday with the recent bickerings and loose comments that have come from certain ministers in his own Liberal Party.

At a party meeting, Rasmussen made it clear that the waves being created by the ministers within the party would not be tolerated.

His strongest words were reserved for Birthe Rønn Hornbech, the integration minister, and Karen Jespersen, the social welfare minister. The two have been involved in their own soap opera over their disagreements about the government’s stricter laws pertaining to Muslim extremism.

In particular, Rasmussen criticised Hornbech’s comments to Politiken newspaper that she regretted signing off on the deportation of two Tunisians suspected of plotting to kill Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

‘These comments have created an indefensible uncertainty about the decision the integration minister herself had made,’ said Rasmussen. ‘I have since had a talk with her and I can tell you that that uncertainty is no longer present.’

The PM also said he spoke to Jespersen, telling both her and Hornbech that the party functions collectively and not according to individual opinions. But Hornbech has been guilty of several political gaffes in recent months, and Rasmussen made it clear that this was probably the last chance she would get to keep her post.

Another minister that received a reprimand from the prime minister was Kristian Jensen, the tax minister. Jensen had indicated that no party had a veto right for the proposed tax reform plan.

Rasmussen believes the Danish People’s Party has that right as per its participation in the last tax agreement.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Denmark: PM’s Fatwa Keeps Minister Silent

Integration Minister Birther Rønn Hornbech is keeping mum about her reactions to a telling-off from the prime minister.

Integration MInister Birthe Rønn Hornbech is keeping a demonstrative silence regarding her reactions to Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s three-line whip on differences within the Liberal Party and government.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


German Auto Industry Facing the Abyss

‘Worst Crisis Since World War II’

More than 1.5 million workers in Germany depend on the automobile industry for their jobs. But that industry is now facing one of its worst crises ever. Respected giants BMW and Mercedes are particularly exposed as sales plummet.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Italian Outcry Over Swedish ‘Slander’

The Italian Ambassador to Sweden has slammed a petition raised this week by a Swedish member of parliament in support of high profile Italian author Roberto Saviano.

forced to flee the country by officials.

Roberto Saviano is in Stockholm to promote the film Gomorrah, which is being shown in Sweden for the first time on Wednesday night at the Stockholm Film Festival.

The film is based on Saviano’s book of the same name. Since writing Gomorrah, Saviano has received death threats from the Camorra — or Mafia — in Naples, which has forced him into hiding and left him needing round the clock police protection.

Liberal Party member of parliament Cecilia Wikström presented a list of names from the Swedish Parliament to the ambassador on Monday.

Speaking to The Local on Wednesday, the Italian Ambassador explained that she had “nothing against the appeal itself. I am an admirer of Saviano and want to safeguard his wellbeing”.

In her appeal for signatures, Wikström wrote:

“Sweden was one of the first countries in the world to enshrine freedom of speech in its constitution. Consequently, we have a duty to stand up for this freedom and show the world, and in this case Italy in particular, that freedom of speech is a basic and inviolable human right. Italy must now take responsibility and protect those individuals who are courageous enough to make use of this fundamental freedom.”

“This implies something which is terribly slanderous to Italy and it is my duty to reply,” Della Croce Brigante Colonna told The Local.

In a letter addressed to Per Westerberg, the Speaker of the Swedish Parliament, the Ambassador stated that the comments from Wikström were “totally unwarranted, particularly where it assumes that Italy does not recognize the freedom of speech.

“Mr. Saviano’s activity and publications against criminal organizations in the Naples region are in fact daily debated both on the national press and in the TV media”.

Della Croce Brigante Colonna went on to explain how the high level of security awarded to the author, “testify to the commitment of the Italian State to protect Mr. Saviano’s right to speak freely, and to the recognition of his contribution to the fight against organized crime”.

The letter concluded: “Far from restraining the freedom of expression, Italy has constantly shared this value, which is enshrined in the Constitution and in the laws”.

Speaking to The Local, Della Croce Brigante Colonna said that despite sending the letter to Wikström and having a meeting with the member of parliament to discuss the situation, Wikström proceeded with the petition in its original form.

“I was very surprised that even after my remarks, Wikström still went ahead with the petition. She told me that although she agreed that some of the comments could be misread, it was a political issue and she needed to go ahead with her plans to create a petition”.

“I have a feeling that if those in parliament had truly realized what they were signing, then maybe they would not have done so,” said the Ambassador.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Italy: Immigrants Field List in Northern City’s Polls

Padua, 25 Nov. (AKI) — Immigrants in the northern Italian city of Padua are for the first time fielding a list of candidates for the local elections next June. It will be called the Autonomous Immigrant List for Freedom and will be aligned with the conservative centre-right. The list’s candidate for mayor is expected to be an Egyptian-born TV presenter, 52-year-old Mohammed Ahmed, who has lived in Italy for over 40 years.

Ahmed has said he would be “honoured” if the list selects him to run for mayor. He presents a special programme for immigrants for local TV channels ‘La8’ and ‘La9’ in Padua and and is due to present a forthcoming Arabic-language TV news bulletin.

Earlier this year, Ahmed chaired Italy’s first ‘multi-ethnic’ roundtable.

“We believe Ahmed is an ideal candidate for mayor,” said Romanian doctor, Dimitru Ilinca.

“The purpose of our list is to be represented thanks to citizens’ votes, not the written consent of some political party,” Ilinca added.

Padua’s Romanian community contains over 7,000 potential electors. “Currently, only hundred people have registered to vote, but a major registration drive will begin next month that will definitely increase this number,” Ilinca said.

Italy’s centre-left opposition Democratic Party has created a branch for Romanian residents in Padua.

Romanian branches of Italy’s ruling conservative People of Freedom party exist in the northern cities of Milan and Udine and in the central cities of Prato and Rome. Branches are also planned in other Italian cities.

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


Netherlands: CDA Think-Tank Wants Drastic Measures Against ‘Imported Brides’

THE HAGUE, 26/11/08 — The Christian democratic (CDA) party’s Scientific Institute wants a ban on weddings between nephews and nieces. Marriage partners must also be able to speak either Dutch or English if they want to come to the Netherlands from outside the EU, and must have a vocational education diploma, according to the CDA think-tank.

The think-tank makes a series of proposals in recommendations to the party to reduce the inflow of imported brides and bridegrooms. If all proposals were adopted, immigration from Turkey and Morocco would practically come to a standstill.

A substantial portion of marriages between Turks and between Moroccans are between nephews and nieces, which should be banned on grounds of public health concerns, says the think-tank. Additionally, marriage immigrants should only be allowed to come and live in the Netherlands if they have at minimum a vocational education diploma in their own country and can speak and write in Dutch or English.

Many immigrants from Turkey and Morocco are illiterates from mountain villages. Some marriage partners taking integration courses upon arrival in the Netherlands “need three to four months only to learn how to hold a pencil,” said a spokeswoman for the think-tank.

The CDA think-tank also considers residence permits should only be granted after passing an integration exam and if immigrants can stand on their own feet financially. As well, the institute suggests banning the import of a new marriage partner from abroad by persons who previously had a marriage partner come over and have divorced.

Further, the so-called Belgian route must be closed. This is when non-EU partners are first stationed by the family for a few months in Belgium, where more lenient rules apply, and then easily cross into the Netherlands.

Finally, existing Dutch requirements must be more clearly anchored in the law, so that judges cannot torpedo them. Thus, a district court in Amsterdam ruled this summer that imported brides and bridegrooms are not required to pass a test on the Dutch language and culture in their country of origin. A district court in Roermond also recently ruled that Dutch nationals who want to have their foreign partner come to the Netherlands to form a family do not have to earn 120 percent of the minimum wage. The State has appeal cases underway against both verdicts.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Netherlands: Coalition Wants 10 Million for Religious Lessons

THE HAGUE, 26/11/08 — The Christian democrats (CDA), Labour (PvdA) and small Christian party ChristenUnie want their cabinet to earmark 10 million euros annually for religious education at public schools.

The coalition parties will put forward an amendment in the debate on the Education budget in mid-December, said CDA MP Van Dijk yesterday. The 10 million euros will go to mosques, synagogues, churches or the Humanist Union, which will supply guest teachers to give religious lessons on their behalf at non-denominational schools. The government will impose quality requirements on the teachers, according to Van Dijk. “But we must also pay them decently.”

CDA and ChristenUnie have the support of PvdA MP Kraneveldt. Education State Secretary Dijksma formally still has to be convinced. Last year, the coalition earmarked a one-off amount of 2.7 million euros for the same aim. That money was intended for the startup of the project.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Netherlands: Burqa Ban Extended to Universities

Face-covering Islamic robes known as burqas and niqabs are to be banned from Holland’s colleges and universities, education minister Ronald Plasterk said on Wednesday.

In September, Plasterk (Labour) said the ban will only apply to primary and secondary schools. Higher educational institutions would be able to take their own decisions because they work with adults, he said at the time.

But now the minister has agreed to parliament’s wishes to extend the ban to higher education.

‘You must guarantee open communication… and be able to look one another in the eye. That also applies to higher education,’ Labour MP Margot Kraneveldt is reported as saying.

‘Absurd’

Only one or two female students are thought to actually cover their faces while attending classes. An estimated 100 women in the Netherlands wear the all-encompassing Islamic garment.

‘The burqa and niqab are absurd, women-unfriendly and get in the way of integration,’ Plasterk is quoted as saying by website nu.nl on Wednesday.

Announcing plans to ban burqas in schools in September, the minister said that teachers, parents and all visitors to schools, including suppliers making deliveries, will fall under the ban. Private Islamic schools will also have to comply.

In February the cabinet said it would not bring in a general ban on burkas but did announce plans to forbid government civil servants from wearing them. At the time it said it expected local authorities to follow suit and extend the ban to council buildings and public transport.

Health minister Ab Klink is also looking at extending the ban to cover hospitals and healthcare staff.

The new legislation is expected to be ready by mid-2009.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Spain: Barcelona Opens First Marine Consulate in Shanghai

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 11 — The Mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, yesterday inaugurated the ‘Consulate of the Sea’ in Shanghai, the first consulate aimed at promoting the Catalan capital economically, as part of a network of twenty offices which it intends to open worldwide by 2011. Speaking to Ansamed, sources inside the Council revealed that the ‘Consulates of the Sea’ are inspired by the foreign delegations opened by the Catalan city during the Middle Ages. The opening of these offices of economic promotion, reports daily paper ABC today, are a “condition laid down by Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya”, the radical independence grouping, “for it to vote for the council’s 2008 budget, which includes an item of 1.5 million euro for boosting its Consolates”. On his trip to Shanghai, reports Europa Press, Hereu was accompanied by forty or so Catalan entrepreneurs and Chinese resident in Catatonia, as well as by representatives of its Chamber of Commerce of the Port and of Barcelonàs Tourism Office. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UK: Agency Ripped for Killing a Terrorist

LONDON — Agents for Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency have come under fire for a successful raid in Pakistan that resulted in the death of a top suspect in a British terror case, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Rashid Rauf, on the Top 10 most wanted list of al-Qaida terrorists, fled from his native Birmingham four years ago to become one of the terror organization’s key operatives. He was wanted for masterminding the plot to smuggle liquid bombs onto American airliners from London’s Heathrow airport to the U.S.

But following a raid that resulted in his death, MI6 has been flooded with demands from senior members of Parliament to know why MI6 participated. The criticism has left John Scarlett, head of MI6, enraged.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Council Spends £70,000 on ‘SAS’ Rubbish Inspectors to Snoop in People’s Bins

Sneaky council inspectors have spent £70,000 of taxpayers’ cash using ‘SAS tactics’ — to see what rubbish we throw out.

Ten local authority “spooks” were sent into suburbs to sift through the contents of wheelie bins.

Some bins stuffed with rotting food, plastic wrappers and tin cans were taken away for further examination.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Universities: Spain, Police and Students Clash in Barcelona

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 20 — Some hundreds of students have occupied the foyer and one of the quads of the University of Barcelona, having held a march through the centre of the city in a demonstration which led to clashes with Catalonia’s independent police force, “Los Mossos d’Esquadra”. The protest demonstration, called by the student union: “Sindicat d’Estudiants del Paisos Catalans” (Sepc), directed in opposition to the Bologna programme which envisages the creation of a unified European university education forum by 2010. The march degenerated with several students and a photographer receiving bruises and five officers slightly wounded. According to police sources, as cited by the Efe agency, the demonstration began at 12:00 with a march by around 4,000 students along the streets of Barcelona’s centre, chanting slogans against “the commercialisation of universities” and the “subjection of rectors to business interests” which the students claim the Bologna programme will bring. There was a tense stand-off when the cortége attempted to turn into Las Ramblas and found itself blocked by the Mossos d’Esquadra. According to the sources, the officers executed two charges “with a defensive purpose”, to which some students are alleged to have responded by hurling objects. The demonstration, which carried a large banner before it bearing the words: “school graduation yesterday, degree today, insecure jobs tomorrow”, broke up while the wounded were treated. A group of several hundred protesters headed for the University’s historic campus and on the cry of “We’ll occupy the halls against Bologna”, they headed into the University foyer. Part of the protesters headed to the first floor and attempted, unsuccessfully, to break down the door to the Vice-Rector’s office. Back in the foyer, the students gathered in a meeting and decided to occupy some areas of the campus and rectory, calling for talks to be set up with the university authorities. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Violence Women: France; Alarm, One Death Every Two Days

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, NOVEMBER 25 — Violence against women has become a priority in France, where every two days a woman dies from violence suffered at the hands of her husband or partner. A petition of 16,000 names was presented today to President of the National Assembly Bernard Accoyer, for a framework law against violence against women to be voted in, like the one in Spain. This morning, militants from the National Collective of women’s rights and several feminist groups demonstrated in front of Parliament to support the project, which has the backing of two MPs, Communist Marie-George Buffet, former Presidential candidate, and Green Martine Billard. In France the figures are getting worse: a quarter of deliberate violence is against women (47,573 in 2007, 31.3% up on 2004), according to figures from the National Delinquency Observatory. The freephone number for victims (3919) received more than 60,000 calls between January and September. In Paris, a few days ago, a young woman was seized and knifed by her mother because she was refusing an arranged marriage. France is at the top of the list on this International day of violence against women, on the European level too.

From the “Choisir la cause des femmes” society, created by Simone de Beauvoir and Gisele Halimi in 1971, is a project which, after going through the sieve of legislation by the 27 European union member countries, unites the 14 best laws in Europe over abortion (Switzerland), marriage (Austria), civil partnerships (Belgium), parental authority (Estonia) or rape (France) and marital violence (Spain). The goal is to create a single statute for Europe from these. The project will be debated next Thursday and Friday in Paris, at an international conference organised as part of the French presidency of the EU and has already had consensus at the European level. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Education: EIB to Finance Jordan Project for Childhood

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 20 — FEMIP, the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) dedicated Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership, has committed itself to provide financing of up to 40 million euro for the Jordan Education Project. The project is being undertaken with the purpose of tackling unemployment and poverty in Jordan. To this end, four key issues will be addressed: sector governance and administrative organisation; curriculum enhancement; replacement of unsafe and overcrowded educational facilities; and development of early childhood education programmes. Between 2002 and 2007 (FEMIP) provided 250 million euro in loans to support human capital projects.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Energy: Israeli-PNA Cooperation Under EU Aegis Goes Ahead

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 25 — Everything is ready for the relaunch of energy cooperation between the EU, Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. The Project for integration of the Euro-Mediterranean energy market (Med-Emip), financed by the EU, to whom the European Commission entrusted the job of managing the ‘Solar for Peace’ initiative which aims to favour energy cooperation in the Middle East. ‘Solar for peace’ got the go-ahead from Euromediterranean ministers during the ministerial conference in Limassol, Cyprus, on December 17. Israel and the PNA agreed to the collaboration last June. According to the initial study by Med-Emip, the first steps by Solar for Peace will be: to extend the use of solar-powered water heating systems in the Palestinian Territories, the installation of highly innovative photovoltaic plants and the construction of a power plant of between 20 and 50 MW which will supply energy to both sides. In the last working meeting of the Med-Emip project, EU Commission representatives, Israel and the PNA evaluated a common office for energy and cooperation in complementary areas such as management of the electricity network.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Muslim-Police Fight Over Coptic Church in Cairo

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 24 — Eight civilians and four policemen have been hurt, two cars have been set ablaze and an unknown number of arrests have been made during fighting in Matareya, a working-class area east of Cairo. The fighting was between police and Muslims who were protesting over the rumoured destruction of a half-complete building in order to build a Coptic church in its place. The skirmish took place yesterday evening, after evening prayers. At the exit of a mosque in the area, belonging to the Confraternity of Muslim Brothers, Mohamed Yussef Abu Hussein incited those present to protest against the construction of a church on soil that is not owned by Christians. Police troops gathered on the scene and arrested several people, unleashing a violent reaction from the people which eventually culminated in a full blown skirmish. Since the early hours of the morning the whole area has been watched over by security forces, but there have been no signs of gathering crowds. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Egypt: First Woman Mayor Elected, From Copt Minority

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 21 — She is the first-ever woman mayor in Egypt, and a Copt to boot. Pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat has show-cased the news that lawyer Eva Habil Kirolos has won the election beating five opponents, all of them men, in the small municipality of Kamboha, near to the city of Dayrout in the southern Assiut province. “Here I am, the first woman and the first copt to occupy the position of mayor in Egypt — Mamma Eva, as she is known locally, smilingly told journalists — I knew there was a chance for our tiny minority to capture a high-profile public office. And I have been rewarded”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Egypt: Abu-Fana’s Wall Up

Earlier this month Abu-Fana monastery announced that the seven-kilometer long fencing wall which runs round the periphery of its land has been completed. A building committee from Minya governorate has inspected the wall and approved it. The 1.5m high fencing wall was built in less than the two months stipulated by Minya governor as a deadline to finish the wall. Mallawi bishopric, to which the monastery is affiliated has asked Minya governor for a permit to raise the height of the wall to four meters. The 1.5m-high wall, the bishopric claims, is no protection against intruders and will in all probability be buried under the sand in a matter of months since the district is one of moving sand dunes.

The bishopric has also demanded that the monastery be supplied with fresh water and electricity, the lines of which pass adjacent to the monastery walls. Minya governor has so far given no reply.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Egypt: Islamic Judges Strip Christian Mothers of Children

Muslim fathers, courts fear youth may switch religions, eat banned foods, ‘go to church’

Muslim judges are defying Islamic law in custody battles involving Christian mothers and Muslim fathers — to shield children from Christian influence.

Egyptian law’s Article 20 states that children younger than 15 should stay with their mothers. But, without fail, Egypt’s judges are ruling for Muslim fathers if the mothers are Christian, Compass Direct News reports.

The judges are bypassing Article 20 and referencing a portion of Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution: “principles of Islamic law are the principal source of legislation.”

On Sept. 24, an appeals court defied the statute and awarded custody of 13-year-old twins Andrew and Mario Medhat Ramses Labib to their father.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Energy: Egypt; Accord With Islamic Bank to Develop Projects

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 25 — A number of cooperation agreements in the energy field between Egypt and the Islamic Development Bank will be signed today in Cairo by Egyptian Economic Development Minister, Osman Mohamed Osman, and chairman of the bank, Ahmed Mohammed Ali. In press statements, Osman said the agreements include an electricity generation project in Abu Qir near Alexandria. According to the agreement, the bank will provide facilities for the electricity holding company estimated at 119 million euro in the form of release for 20 years including a five-year grace period. The chairman said earlier that his bank is investing USD 2.3 billion in Egypt. In an interview with MENA news agency, Ali noted that relations between the Bank and Egypt are good as Egypt is one of the founding countries of the Bank. Ali added that Egypt is one of the major contributors to the Bank and has a permanent seat in the executive directors council. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Mideast: Peres and Napolitano, Islam Doesn’t Preach Murder

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 25 — ‘‘I do not know of any precept of Islam that talks of hatred and killing each other. You can be Muslim and in favour of peace’’ said Israeli President Shimon Peres to journalists after his meeting with Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano. Peres stressed that in public opinion including Arab, ideas to end the long conflict between Arabs and Israelis are supported. Amongst the favourable theories is the Saudi plan recently relaunched by US President-elect Barack Obama. ‘‘Naturally it needs to be defined in detail’’ said Peres, well-known for his unwillingness to have East Jerusalem as the capital of an autonomous Palestinian state. ‘‘After seven wars the time for peace has come. In the Arab world there is the idea that it is time to end the conflict, that trusting Hamas, Iran or Lebanese extremists is not a good alternative, especially for them. They are becoming convinced that it is time to end the war and that Iran is putting their lives at risk. We need to remember that only 20% of Arabs are Shi-ite. Iran wants to occupy the whole Middle East. It is the only imperialist force in the region. We need to stop Iran’s nuclear arms programme, knowing that it represents a danger ‘‘not only for Israel but for the whole world’’. But the way to stop Iran ‘‘is not war’’ but a political response which unites the USA, EU, Russia and others. ‘‘Italy is at Israel’s side to conclude the peace process in full autonomy, without external conditions by certain negative leaders and by those who have proposed to destroy Israel’’ said Napolitano. ‘‘We have assumed our responsibilities to the fullest’’ he added, referring to the peace mission in Lebanon and Italy’s other international obligations ‘‘we agree that saying that the problem of uranium enrichment in Iran does not represent a problem just for Israel but for many countries’’. Napolitano visited the Holocaust Museum Yad Veshem and the Children’s Mausoleum accompanied by Peres, and took part in a ceremony in the Tent of Remembrance in homage to the six million Jews exterminated in the Shoah. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Olmert Announces He Wants Quick Peace Deal

Expects ‘painful sacrifice of parts Israel and history of the Jewish people’

JERUSALEM — Five days after WND broke the story exposing secret Israeli-Palestinian talks aimed at reaching an agreement on core issues, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced today in Washington his intention to continue negotiations in hope of an agreement on core issues.

“In principle there is nothing to prevent us from reaching an agreement on the core issues in the near future,” Olmert said regarding ongoing peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

“We’re in a situation where it’s possible to do so, and I hope we do. It would be good for the state of Israel,” said Olmert speaking to Israeli reporters after a meeting today with President Bush.

Speaking of “a painful sacrifice of parts of the land of Israel and the history of the Jewish people,” Olmert told reports now was the “time for decisions.”

“I am ready to make that decision, and I hope the other side will make it as well,” he said. “You don’t need months to make a decision.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

First Female De-Mining Team Includes Jordanian

(by Mohammad Ben Hussein) (ANSAmed) — JABER (MAFRAQ) NOVEMBER 25 — Fida, 28 years old Jordanian girl, was full of pride as she received a certificate that made her member of Jordan’s first female de-mining team in the Middle East. Dressed in blue attire that she will be using when assuming official duties as of next week, Fida said she could have worked in any office job, thanks to her university degree. She, however, preferred to help people in her community who suffered for long from landmines on around their houses. “We want to show everybody that women can do anything that men do,” said Fida, addressing an audience of diplomats and colleagues during the handing ceremony of certificates in Jaber, on the Jordanian Syrian borders, an area covered with 10.5 million sqm of mine infested lands. On Sunday Fida and her 23 colleagues will start sifting the desert land looking for mines, ruminants of the Arab Israeli war of 1967 and tensions with Syria back in the 1970s. The girls will be receiving financial compensations for their risky work, a salary five times more than what they could earn in a garment factory, the typical place such women earn a living. In a country with high inflation and growing poverty, the salary is worth taking the risk of dealing with deadly job. The two dozens team will join their male counterparts who are already undertaking a task to clean the area of landmines since 2007. Officials from Norwegian People Aid (NPA), the body responsible for supporting the project, said they hope to remove 136,000 mines from the targeted area, home to 70,000 people living in tens of villages that nestle along 104 km of this mine-belt. “Gender equality and women empowerment are the pillars of NPA’s work. We have formed female de-mining teams in many countries including Sudan, Angola, and Croatia,” said Stephen Bryant NPA Programme Manager in Jordan. “De-mining statistics throughout the world have shown that while female de-miners may be slower than their male counterparts, their work is more thorough. Our main criteria are safety and quality. The trainers are satisfied with the skills the Jordanian ladies have acquired, and are confident that they are competent to enter the minefields safely,” he said. Ranging from university graduates to farmers and home makers, they have chosen this career line with NPA looking for employment, financial empowerment or nontraditional occupation. The Jordanian female de-miners will work under the same conditions as the male teams, according to Lina Gazi, spokeswomen of NPA. Mohammed Abu Dalou, technical advisor at the NPA said his teams have been asked to de-mine the northern border, the final mines project for the last mine fields, which began in 2007. “The technical survey for the project started in December 2007 and the actual clearance began on April 1 2008,” he said. The government wants to allow area residents tap into the abundant underground water resources in the designated area, where the development has been hampered by the mine-fields. Technicians said army maps provide little help in locating the mines, many of which have shifted position due to weather elements. The $10 million project involves more than 100 mine specialists, including members of the local community, under support of the international community, including Australia, Canada, the European Commission, Germany, Japan and Norway. Officials hope all mines will be cleared by 2011. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


First All-Female Demining Team in Mideast Get Licence

(ANSAmed) — MAFRAQ (JORDAN), NOVEMBER 25 — Two dozens of women from local community in the northern city of Mafraq completed a six week training course in manual mine clearance, making them the first all-female demining team in the Middle East, an official statement said today. At start 38 women (aged 20-36) began training before they were narrowed down to 24 women, said the statement from the People of Narway Aid group (NPA) that formed and trained the team. “Gender equality and women empowerment are of the pillars of NPA’s work. We have formed female demining teams in many countries including Sudan, Angola, and Croatia,” said Stephen Bryant NPA Programme Manager in Jordan. “Demining statistics throughout the world have shown that while female deminers may be slower than their male counterparts, their work is more thorough. Our main criteria are safety and quality. The trainers are satisfied with the skills the Jordanian ladies have acquired, and are confident that they are competent to enter the minefields safely,” he added. Ranging from university graduates to farmers and home makers, they have chosen this career line with NPA looking for employment, financial empowerment or untraditional occupation. The Jordanian female deminers will work under the same conditions as the male teams, said the statement, made available to ANSAmed, noting that members of team will be provided with a good package of remuneration, social security and insurance for the duration of employment. Deminers hope to remove the threats imposed by landmines for 50,000 civilians. Most mines are reminents of the wars with Israel in 1967 as well as after tentions with Syria in the 1970s. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Kuwait’s Gov’t Resigns, Parliament May be Dissolved

After entry of Shiite cleric insulting Prophet Mohammed companions to the country

Kuwait’s government resigned on Tuesday to avert a questioning of the prime minister over the visit of an Iranian Shi’ite cleric, accused of insulting The Prophet Mohammed’s (s) companions.

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who has the last say in politics, would accept or refuse the resignation, according to the constitution.

The government had earlier walked out of a parliamentary session to avoid the request by three deputies to question Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah.

The three Islamist lawmakers, Walid al-Tabtabai, Abdallah al-Barghash and Mohammed Hayef al-Mteeri say the Iranian cleric Mohammed Al Fali offended Kuwait’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population with insults he made about some of the Prophet Mohammad’s companions.

But the three deputies had also wanted to question the prime minister over a wide range of accusations including alleged corruption and mismanagement.

Without the government in attendance, parliament cannot decide whether to go ahead with plans to question Sheikh Nasser.

A court had banned the cleric’s entry and ordered him jailed for defaming the followers the Prophet (s).

The emir has several choices. He can choose not to accept the resignations. He can opt to accept them and dissolve parliament. Or he can replace Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser, his nephew.

In March, when the emir formally dissolved parliament, he said he did so to safeguard Kuwait’s national unity and out of his primary concern for internal security and stability.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Middle East: Italian President Shares Israel’s Concern About Iran

Jerusalem, 25 Nov. (AKI) — Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said on Tuesday that Italy shared Israel’s concerns about Iran and security in the region. “The fact that we have economic and commercial ties with Iran does not mean that we are not doing our part in the UN’s sanctions (against Iran),” said Napolitano, quoted by Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.

Napolitano arrived in Israel on Monday for an official three-day visit with 100 Italian business leaders. He was accompanied by employers from the country’s banks, chambers of commerce and the private employers’ association, Confindustria.

“The Iranian problem is not just Israel’s. Iran is trying to spread nuclear weapons and intervene in the lives of many countries,” he added.

Before a visit to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Napolitano said that “Even today there are countries that preach death and destruction against Israel. Italy responds to such outcries with outrage, Israel can count on Italy’s determination and solidarity.”

After Germany, Italy is Iran’s largest trading partner in the European Union.

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


Saudi Arabia: Hundreds Accused of ‘Immorality’

Riyadh, 25 Nov. (AKI) — The Saudi religious police has over the past year detained 434 people accused of ‘immorality’ — a 19 percent increase on the previous year — according to a report issued by Saudi Arabia’s Authority for the Prohibition of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue.

Only a quarter of those arrested have Saudi citizenship. Most are foreigners, who were subsequently released with a caution after promising to lead a ‘virtuous’ life in future.

Only those detained for alleged use of drugs or alcohol were sent to appear before magistrates. The highest number of people arrested by the religious police was in the holy city of Mecca (photo), followed by the capital, Riyadh.

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

The religious police recently asked the government to increase their funding as they claim they do not have the manpower to go after all those suspected of ‘immoral’ behaviour.

Such behaviour includes skipping prayers, consuming alcohol and appearing in public with members of the opposite sex who are not close family members.

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


UAE: British Beach Sex Couple Freed in Dubai

Dubai, 25 Nov. (AKI) — A Dubai appeals court on Tuesday freed a British couple found guilty of having sex in a local beach. The British couple, Michelle Palmer, 36, and Vince Acors, 34, will now be deported from the United Arab Emirates, after the suspension of their three month sentence, issued in October.

“The verdict concerning their expulsion remains valid,” the couple’s lawyer Hassan Matar said quoted by Dubai based TV network, al-Arabiya.

“There are only a few routine procedures to complete for their departure.”

Palmer and Acors were found guilty of sex outside marriage and public indecency at Dubai’s Court of First Instance.

As well as a prison term, they were fined 1,000 dirhams (350 dollars) and ordered to be deported.

The pair were arrested on Jumeirah Beach hours after meeting at a champagne brunch on 5 July.

They were accused of sex outside marriage, public indecency and drunkenness.

Both Britons denied the charges, saying they were only kissing and hugging.

Dubai, considered the most liberal of the emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, is struggling to balance an Islamic identity and conservative laws, with the lifestyles of millions of western expatriates.

Dubai’s expatriates comprise at least 85 percent of the population. Authorities have recently launched a crackdown on what it calls indecent behaviour such as topless sunbathing and nudity.

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


Violence Against Women: Jordan, 20% Approve to be Beaten

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, NOVEMBER 25 — Around 20 percent of Jordanian women approve being beaten by husbands to discipline them, according to a survey conducted by the department of statistics that was published today. The study included nearly 15,000 families and 11,000 women who got married, said the report. Most of the respondents aged between 15 to 49 years old. Luck Steve, representative of UN Agencies which helped conduct the study, said measures must be taken to fight violence against women following surprising results of the survey. “The result of the survey shows we have work to do regarding state of women in the society and how they are being treated,” said Steve. The study was conducted during 2007 and made public during a public ceremony held at the department of statistics. Activists have been campaigning to improve conditions of women in this tribal community, but they are faced with resistance from traditional politicians. Queen Rania has been pushing for more rights to women since she was crowned nine years ago, with her efforts resulting in allowing married women to divorce their husbands, a measure that has been an exclusive right for men since decades. Every year between 15 to 20 women are killed in the name of honour, with killers receiving sentences for just a few months behind bars. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Russia

Egypt: Premier in Moscow to Boost Economic Cooperation

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 10 — Egyptian Prime Miniser Ahmed Nazif is due on a four-day visit to Russia at the invitation of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Nazif will be accompanied by a delegation including the ministers of oil, trade, industry, transport and tourism. Nazif’s talks with Russian officials will cover ways to expand economic, trade and investment cooperation between the two countries. The talks will deal with the enterprise of setting up a big Russian industrial zone in the city of Borg Al Arab at approximately USD 2 billion investments. The industrial zone is expected to be established within the next five years over a 2 million square meters space. It will comprise projects in the domains of aircraft and vehicle industry.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Islamic Councils Against Catholic Magazine of Kuala Lumpur: Forbidden to Use the Word “Allah”

The Islamic religious councils of seven Malaysian states are joining the lawsuit pitting the weekly of the diocese of Kuala Lumpur against the government. The object of the dispute is the use of the word “Allah” in non-Muslim publications. The Sikh community is siding with the Catholics.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) — The Islamic religious councils of seven Malaysian states and the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA) are turning to the federal court for the ban of the use of the word “Allah” in the weekly Catholic Herald. Muslim representatives from Terengganu, Penang, Selangor, Kedah, Johor, Malacca, and the Federal territory of Kuala Lumpur want the court to rule on whether the law relative to the case has been applied according to constitutional principles.

The Malaysian constitution guarantees full religious freedom for all confessions, but an ordinance from the interior security ministry issued in 1986 prohibits the use of the word “Allah” in publications of the non-Islamic communities. But the law has never been applied consistently. To complicate the case of the Herald, and of other non-Muslim magazines, there is also the fact that there are two parallel judicial systems in the country: one is federal-civil, regulated by the constitution, and the other is juridical-religious, which is supposed to apply only to Muslims and is regulated by Koranic law.

The affair of the magazine of Kuala Lumpur emerged in December of last year. The interior security minister had prohibited the Herald from using the word “Allah” in its articles, affirming that its use “by non-Muslims could increase tension and create confusion among Muslims in the country.” The ban brought the risk of shutdown for the only Catholic newspaper in the country, which with its 12,000 copies and 50,000 readers is the only instrument of communication for the 850,000 faithful.

In the last few days of 2007, after the protests of the Catholic community, the interior security minister withdrew the injunction, but on January 5, 2008, the minister of Islamic affairs intervened in of the affair, upholding the ban. Claiming the right to use the word “Allah,” the Herald then opted to take the legal route, and the archbishop of the diocese of Kuala Lumpur, Murphy Pakiam, took the government to court (in the photo, the bishop with his lawyers at a hearing last April).

Today, the seven states and the MACMA have been admitted to the court to intervene in the dispute, and have been named as parties in the case in the revision of the procedure initiated by the archbishop of the capital. In the meantime, the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC), a Sikh group, has informed the court that it intends to present the attorney general’s office with documentation that would exclude the Islamic councils from the debate.

According to the documentation from the MGC, a request to ban the use of the word “Allah” for non-Muslims was presented in Perak ten years ago. The prime minister at the time, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had communicated to the parties in the case that there was no cause for proceeding. Jagjit is now asking prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to use the same approach in the case of the Herald.

Jagjit has asked the court to update the hearing with the request of the MGC. Judge Lau Bee Lan has established February 27 as the date for deciding whether to permit the parties to present a deposition as requested for judicial review.

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


Pakistan to Receive Up to $4bn From IMF by Thursday

Washington and Karachi, 24 Nov. (AKI/DAWN) — The executive board of the International Monetary Fund will consider a 7.5 billion dollar rescue package for Pakistan on Monday to help the country avoid economic collapse. If the rescue package is approved on Monday, the necessary documents allowing the transfer of money to Pakistan can also be signed the same day.

Pakistan is likely to get between 3.5 and 4 billion dollars at the signing while the rest will be distributed in six equal installments.

After it is approved, the money will be transferred to the State Bank of Pakistan’s account in the US Federal Reserve in New York. The disbursement takes 48 to 72 hours, which means that Pakistan will have the money by Thursday.

This expected rapid disbursement enjoys the support of the US administration which wants to help Pakistan arrest the economy’s current economic decline and prevent its collapse.

But Pakistan experts in the US administration, as well as the World Bank and the IMF, also want Islamabad to make structural adjustments to put the Pakistani economy on the right track.

In a joint article for Washington’s Middle East Institute, former US ambassador to Islamabad, Wendy Chamberlin, and a former IMF economist Zubair Iqbal argued that ‘a rescue plan could have the advantage of presenting an opportunity to force countries like Pakistan to come to grips with entrenched structural distortions in its economy.’

The two authors also argued that countries like Pakistan could not count on the cash from wealthy oil producers in the Gulf for a bailout. Instead, they urged ‘a more organized approach’ to aiding ‘distressed economies.’

The authors proposed establishing a trust fund made up of multilateral and regional lending agencies, selected Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and the G-7 to pool resources and facilitate their effective use by vulnerable counties under the IMF/World bank guidance.

The two authors and other experts are also urging Pakistan to reduce expenditure and increase revenue if it wants to have a stable economy.

But they also acknowledge that it may be difficult for government to reduce expenditure as such steps are unpopular and may cause political repercussions. So they want Pakistan to increase revenue.

‘It is particularly difficult to reduce expenditure when the economy is slowing, the private sector is upset and the government has just increased interest rates,’ said one such expert. ‘So it is essential to increase revenue.’

And when such experts talk about the need to increase revenue, they emphasise the need to introduce a genuine agriculture income tax which, they argue, will also raise domestic savings.

The experts reject Pakistan’s claim that they have introduced such a tax, arguing that the taxes introduced in the name of agriculture six or seven years ago were simply the land revenues which are being collected since British rule.

‘‘The general public is receptive to the idea that the relatively affluent should pay their share. Therefore, it is just the right time to extend the tax net,” said one expert.

The expert also suggested introducing new taxes on capital gains and real estate appreciation.

The experts say that they have also been following Pakistan’s inappropriate exchange rate policy with concern. They say that Pakistan has been giving subsidies through tax reductions. They argue that it is time now to eliminate all such concessions especially those related to the general sales tax.

They point out that Pakistan has increased the interest rate but the interest rate spread remains very large and that does not favour increased savings. The government should encourage people to save more by raising the interest rates on savings and reducing the interest rate spread.

The experts argue that allowing the market to determine the exchange will not further depreciate the rupee. According to them, the recent depreciation was caused by a strong dollar which is going to depreciate in the next three to six months.

“And when it happens, Pakistan should resist the temptation of letting the rupee appreciate. They should let the market determine this. They should not interfere,” said another expert.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Somalia: Pirates Board Yemeni Cargo Ship

(ANSAmed) — NAIROBI, NOVEMBER 25 — Somali pirates have boarded yet another ship, a Yemeni cargo ship identified as MV Amani, in the Gulf of Aden. The report comes from Andrew Mwangura, coordinator for ‘African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme’, a seafarer’s help group that monitors acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean off the Somali and Kenyan coasts. News of this latest Somali pirate attack arrives 10 days after a group of armed Somalis attacked and seized Saudi supertanker Sirius Star, along with its crew of 25 and oil cargo worth 100 million dollars. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Somalia: Germany Ready to Send Troops to Deter Piracy

Frankfurt, 25 Nov. (AKI) — Germany said on Tuesday it was ready to send up to 1,400 troops as part of a European Union security mission to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia. The German daily, Frankfurter Allgemeine, said the defence ministry had approved a decision to contribute troops to the EU-backed Operation Atalanta which is due to begin in mid-December.

The report said 500 naval personnel would be based on a frigate patrolling the Horn of Africa, while the remaining 900 would be commandos providing security for German vessels in the region.

Germany on Sunday sent the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern frigate in the direction of two merchant ships which were attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

The announcement was made a day after a Yemeni cargo ship, MV Amani, was captured by Somali pirates off the notorious Gulf of Aden.

A number of pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden are believed to be former members of the Somali navy, reports have said.

Meanwhile, Yemeni authorities on Tuesday said they had made contact with Somali pirates who are demanding two million dollars to release a Yemeni cargo ship they seized in the Gulf of Aden.

The vessel was on route to Yemen’s port of Mokalla to the island of Socotra when it was seized. According to media reports, the cargo was seized a week ago.

Dozens of ships have been attacked in the Gulf of Aden by pirates in the largely lawless Somalia in recent months.

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

Immigration

Immigration: Greece, Human Traffic Network Stopped

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, NOVEMBER 25 — A network of traffickers of illegal immigrants hoping to reach Italy on board Greek ships leaving the port of Patrasso has been stopped by port officials working with Greek police. According to initial reports, three port workers were part of the network, along with about 10 illegal immigrants, who have been arrested and interrogated by city police. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Immigration: Tunisia, Twelve Illegal Migrants Arrested

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, NOVEMBER 25 — A motor-launch of the Tunisian Coast Guard has foiled the attempted emigration of twelve men aged between 22 and 35. The migrants, all of them Tunisian, were on a vessel headed for Italy. Stopped off the Chebba coast, they were placed under arrest and imprisoned, awaiting trial. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

‘Gay’ Adoption Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

Judge allows homosexuals to become legal parents of boys, 4, 8

A Miami-Dade circuit judge today ruled Florida’s 30-year ban on “gay” adoption unconstitutional, allowing a homosexual man to adopt two foster children who have been in his care since 2004.

Judge Cindy Lederman issued a 53-page order allowing Frank Gill, 47, and his “gay” partner to legally adopt the 4- and 8-year-old boys they’ve been raising, the Miami Herald reported.

“This is the forum where we try to heal children, find permanent families for them so they can get another chance at what every child should know and feel from birth, and go on to lead productive lives,” Judge Lederman told the court. “We pray for them to thrive, but that is a word we rarely hear in dependency court.”

She continued, “These children are thriving; it is uncontroverted.”

Attorneys for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum immediately announced they would appeal Lederman’s ruling.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

Natalee Holloway Sold for $10,000?

Disappeared US teenager Natalee Holloway was taken to an Aruba beach by Joran van der Sloot and sold there to a Venezuelan man who ‘wanted a blonde girl’, Mr Van der Sloot told Fox News TV.

In an interview with the US news channel, he claimed he repeatedly met the man in a casino. The Venezuelan offered him 10,000 US dollars.

Joran van der Sloot told how he watched Natalee, who was drunk, being hauled on board a vessel chartered by the Venezuelan. There was no struggle or anything, he said.

Natalee vanished on the Caribbean island of Aruba — part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands — on 30 May 2005. Joran van der Sloot has been arrested twice in connection with her disappearance, but without conclusive evidence he has never been brought to trial.

He now lives in Thailand, where he has come under suspicion of being involved in sex trafficking. Joran van der Sloot said in the interview that he was helped by the two brothers Deepak and Sateesh who were briefly detained by Aruba police when Ms Holloway had gone missing.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Russian Professor Says U.S. Will Break Up After Economic Crisis

A professor at the diplomatic academy of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the U.S. will break into six parts because of the nation’s financial crisis.

“The dollar isn’t secured by anything,” Igor Panarin said in an interview transcribed by Russian newspaper Izvestia today. “The country’s foreign debt has grown like an avalanche; this is a pyramid, which has to collapse.”

Panarin said in the interview that the financial crisis will worsen, unemployment will rise and people will lose their savings — factors that will cause the country’s breakup.

“Dissatisfaction is growing, and it is only being held back at the moment by the elections, and the hope” that President- elect Barack Obama “can work miracles,” he said. “But when spring comes, it will be clear that there are no miracles.”

The U.S. will fracture into six parts: the Pacific coast; the South; Texas; the Atlantic coast, central states and the northern states.

“Now we will see a change to the regulatory system on a global financial scale: America will cease to be the world’s regulator,” to be replaced by China and Russia, he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Sold Out at £6 a Bar … the Tastebud Sensation That’s a Mix of Milk Chocolate and Smoky Bacon

In a league of favourite foods, bacon and chocolate would both be near the top.

Usually, it has to be said, eaten separately.

Now, however, confectioners have combined the two in the world’s first bacon chocolate bar. And it is proving a major success with British customers.

The unlikely hit Christmas gift is Mo’s Bacon Bar, which contains chunks of applewood smoked bacon combined with smoked salt and milk chocolate.

At £5.99 per 3oz bar it is far from a cheap treat, but Selfridges — the only UK stockist — sold its entire stock of several hundred within 48 hours at its four stores and has urgently ordered more.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Swede Named in White House Chef Speculation

Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson, founder of New York’s acclaimed Aquavit restaurant, is among those being tipped as possible candidates to prepare meals for Barack Obama at the White House.

In an interview with the AP news agency, Tim Ryan, who heads the Culinary Institute of America, named the Ethiopian-born Swede as one high-profile chef the incoming president may consider to cook for certain state dinners.

“Chefs are great performers. So to take a page from [former President John F.] Kennedy’s playbook and recognize the artistic performances of the culinary greats, each state dinner could be organized by different high-profile chefs,” Ryan told AP.

He added that including Samuelsson in the line-up of top chefs called in to prepare meals for special occasions would allow president-elect Obama to “capture some of the star power but in a practical and realistic way”.

Samuelsson, who was raised in Gothenburg, traveled to New York in 1991, and within a few years had risen to be Aquavit’s executive chef at the age of 24.

While confirming he was aware of the speculation about a job at the White House, Samuelsson through a spokesperson declined to comment further on the matter to the Metro newspaper.

Other names circulating as possible White House chef candidates include Art Smith, Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef and Rick Bayless, whose Topolobampo restaurant in Chicago is one of Obama’s favourites.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


The Cartoon Wars Revisited

By Kathy Shaidle

Nearly three years ago, a shocked Western world witnessed “a carefully orchestrated campaign of incitement” and intimidation that left embassies ablaze and innocent people dead — all ostensibly on account of some mediocre drawings of the Prophet Mohammed deemed offensive by Muslim leaders.

The resulting debates about the limits of free speech have died down, but depictions of Mohammed continue to spark outrage around the world, mostly below the mass media’s radar.

Last week, for example, the government of Indonesia denounced as “very inappropriate” two online drawings of the Prophet Mohammed. Many Muslims believe it is forbidden to depict Mohammed under any circumstances, let alone in “sexual situations,” as these cartoons reportedly do. The country’s communications minister asked the website to remove the drawings or face being shut down by its internet service provider.

Now comes a report from a Jordanian news service of “New Danish Anti-Islamic Drawings to be Published Soon,” in a book of political satire co-authored by Kurt Westergaard. Westergaard drew the most notorious of the original “Mohammed cartoons”: a bearded man wearing a bomb instead of a turban.

In a case of history repeating itself, one Muslim leader hurried to denounce the new illustrations, sight unseen…

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

10 comments:

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Everyone asking why there isn't a little reciprocity on mosque and church building has just had their question answered.

CS et al could have predicted this one...

Saudis to build mosque in Moscow; Russians want church in Arabia

For myself, I take the view that, although I find Russia's government threatening (and the obsession with Russia being the "saviour" of the west rather distasteful) I will gladly congratulate the Russian orthodox for this stand. I just wonder how it will play out. The government has yet to take a stand on the issue. It'd be nice if they took the same position as the church.

Conservative Swede said...

Hi Graham,

Thanks for this link. No I cannot predict anything in Russia. It's too full of surprises even for me. But it is surely exciting to follow.

This very thing was item 15 on the Austrian demand list on Muslims:
"Call on the Islamic Faith Community to focus efforts on enforcing building permits for Christian Churches in Islamic states."

For the Russians this just comes naturally. It doesn't take a brave group of anti-establishment academics to formulate such policies -- which has the same chances as a snowball in hell -- as in the West. They just do it.

What we see from these Orthodox public organizations is the true sense of fair play -- if you're gonna have one in our land we should have one in yours. Something that was once part of the West, but is long gone. In place of fair play there is only surrender, submission and bending backwards from Western leaders and organizations. I guess putting equal demands on people, that the Westerners consider "brown", is considered racist.

In my view these Russians are too soft and timid in their interaction with the Saudis. After all they are Christians and follow the Bible, while I rather follow Machiavellian logic. Fair play just won't work with these Islamic thugs.

Nevertheless, white pure innocence like this has a role to play in the dynamics of the events. Just look at Robert Spencer, who surely represented the white pure innocence in the whole LGF spectacle. And nevertheless he ended up getting the same treatment as Le Pen from Charles Johnson. Such stark contrasts provide an eyeopener for a wide range of people (as we can see in how the visiting statistics for LGF is now plummeting).

In my view, under no conditions can Russia accept a Saudi built mosque in Moscow. This would tear down the whole balance among their 20 million Muslims, which is now in check. Not in one year, not in five, but in 10-20 years.

Conservative Swede said...

Graham,

I find .. the obsession with Russia being the "saviour" of the west rather distasteful

You are referring to a phenomenon that is unknown to me. What I know is just two things: How especially Bela mischaracterized any alternative view of Russia (as opposed to the Cold War logic), any positive fact presented about Russia, as being an obsession of Russia being the saviour of the West. But there's no one who has presented any such ideas. Well, except of course for Afonso in his rants.

But does Afonso's rants, according to you Graham, mean that the view of Avery Bullard, Homphobic Horse, Armance, Natalie, Eatyourbeans (just to name a few) is that Russia is "the saviour" of the West, even though they never said such a thing. Is it truly your idea Graham that these people are obsessed with Russia being the savior of the West?

I thought people didn't take Afonso's rants seriously, but apparently it suits just fine when the purpose is to discredit the whole side of an argument (a tactic that is always applied from those who don't have any real arguments themselves).

No you are not the one who waged this campaign against any tempered discussion about Russia, Graham. And this is exactly why I choose to address you. With you dialog is still possible. But it seems you have fallen for Bela's and other's mischaracterization of the positions of Russia that has been expressed in this blog.

But if you are going to believe in the descriptions made by Bela then you will also have to believe in that for these people "whatever mass genocide the Soviets committed is justified because it was for a good cause". Do you believe this to be true, Graham, about me, Avery Bullard, Homphobic Horse, Armance, Natalie, etc.?

Or can you see how this is the mad hysteria of someone losing the argument so massively, being in the process of meltdown?

Anyway Graham, you refer to the obsession with Russia being the "saviour" of the West as a phenomenon in this forum. Since you are a sane and sober person, with whom dialog is still possible, I would like you to in your own word describe this phenomenon, and provide examples that makes it likely that it at all exists (except for Afonso then).

PS. According to the standard applied by Bela et al. you are yourself possessed with seeing Russia as the saviour of the West, since you just above presented a positive fact about Russia. If you continue to think independently expect the same ostracism towards you, sort of like Robert Spencer ended up being treated by CJ and LGF in spite of having defended them. His crime was independent thinking, which cannot be accepted.

Conservative Swede said...

So I would also like to state my take on the issue:

Is Russia the saviour of the West?

Of course not! That's a silly idea, and following a silly pattern of thinking. It's the same as thinking that e.g. Denmark will save the West. Of course they won't. But many people interpret the world according to such fairly tale logic. And possibly they project this way of thinking upon others. Otherwise I do not know where this idea comes from.

Russia is in no position to "save" anyone. She can barely take care of herself. But the bright side here is that she does indeed take care of herself and her own, unlike the West. And there we have the first thing that Russia has to offer us: being a good example.

So just to clarify, since this apparently isn't clear to people in general in this forum. If I say that Bill Gates is a good example of how to earn money, it means that we could learn something from studying how he's doing it. To say that Bill Gates is a good example in this way does not imply saying that he will come and save us, OK? Is this clear to everyone in this forum now?

The other thing that Russia provides is in being a power of such size and independence that her actions matter at the geopolitical stage. In a situation where the America-led West is as overstretched and overrated as a credit market before a giant crash, this can become useful. And this argument hold regardless of whether we consider the actions of Russia as generally good or bad. The West is the Sick Man of the planet and needs a reality check. Who could provide this? In a world of only the West, Islam and China as major powers I wouldn't see any dynamics in action coming for long that would shake the West out of its current pathology. The fact that Russia has recently been forced to act as a world power again, provides such a dynamic however.

So this is merely an impartial view of how the particles are bouncing into each other in the laboratory known as planet Earth. Having (let's call it) an enemy challenging the America-led West, provides the reality check that the West so much needs. Compare it to how George Soros "corrects" overrated currencies around the world with his trading. He doesn't do it to be friendly or helpful, not at all, but his actions indeed provide change, and in this case a reality check.

For me personally there is one more thing with Russia. Since I started blogging, and before, I have been in search for cultural substance, and found it in the pre-WWI world. This is what accounts for labelling myself "conservative". In the West all traces of this time are gone. But now I have found that Russia is run like a pre-WWI commonwealth. That makes me very happy indeed.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

It's a view I've seen expressed in many different fora. I find it distasteful precisely because of the arguments you outlined here - that it is an unrealistic view to take.

Zenster said...

Conservative Swede: But the bright side here is that she [Russia] does indeed take care of herself and her own, unlike the West.

Tell that to the over 350 children and adults at Beslan. Tell it to the 300 residents of those Moscow apartment buildings. Tell it to the 130 Nord Ost hostages. Tell it to the 89 passengers on those two Russian airliners. Tell it to the 46 travelers on the train from Yessentuki. Tell it to the 16 people at the Tushino Airfield rock concert.

Perish the thought that Americans should be taken care of the way that Russia takes care of her own.

Conservative Swede said...

Hi Graham,

It's a view I've seen expressed in many different fora.

I naturally assumed that you meant this forum. But if you say you don't that's OK. And then we are in agreement, because I do not see it expressed here at GoV either (except for Afonso when being in his special rant mode, and surely as a way to trigger Bela too).

However, I would be much interested in see in these other fora. I haven't seen the idea expressed anywhere at all. And even the places that are at ll positive, or at least fair to Russia, are very few. Please give me a link or two! I don't want to miss this.

I find it distasteful precisely because of the arguments you outlined here - that it is an unrealistic view to take.

"Distasteful" is a strange choice of word here. Do you find it distasteful too when people see Denmark as the saviour of the West? Unrealistic and naive, surely, but distasteful???

Conservative Swede said...

Zenster,

Tell that to the over 350 children and adults at Beslan.

This is truly a sick and perverted comment. It's very sad indeed to see someone who I once though was an ally and a good man, display such a complete lack of morality and compassion.

And the rest of the figures you give are as far as I can see also all Islamic attacks on people in Russia. But the way you bring up Beslan is especially distasteful (I'll get back to that).

Americans like Zenster do not have much to complain about when leftists and other America haters, in the same mentality, claim that the USA brought 9/11 upon themselves (there is a whole range of different derangement levels, and mean spirited triumphalism, to these sort of claims). All the guilt for 9/11 belong with America and the Americans, according to them. In the same spirit, all the guilt for Beslan, the Moscow theater hostage crisis, etc. belong with Russia and the Russians, according to Zenster.

The majority of the Americans are definitely not like Zenster. But in forums like this people like Zenster are the loudest and most enraged, so they dominate the debate, and thereby the impression left of America. The good people stay silent (want to stay out of trouble I guess). Sometimes the Baron enters with a calm and reasoned comment, but it all sort of drowns in the loud presence of Zenster and his ilk.

Regarding Beslan. Anyone who's seen the images from Beslan will find it sickening when someone use an event like this for propagandistic twists -- yes it's sickening too when people do the same about 9/11. I figure Zenster brings this up in this way, since he doesn't have any real arguments (while refusing to let himself be lead by realities).

Russia has indeed cared for the situation as far as possible. Their war in Chechnya has cracked down on radical Islam and installed a puppet regime, which created stability. And as you probably know Beslan is located in North Ossetia, and Russia has continued to help and support Ossetian people, most recently in the war in Georgia in August.

Zenster said...

Conservative Swede: In the same spirit, all the guilt for Beslan, the Moscow theater hostage crisis, etc. belong with Russia and the Russians, according to Zenster.

Someday—most likely in the far flung future—when you may finally manage to abandon the persistent use of straw man arguments, I might consider engaging you in honest debate. Until that time, I'll leave you to your inane echo chamber, insulting emails and all.

Conservative Swede said...

Zenster,

So please restate your point and do not just imply it as before, but do it explicitly:

How exactly does the Beslan atrocity show that Russia is not taking care her own?

You held this forward as the most incriminating argument against the idea that Russia is taking care of her own. So what's your point then, if it's not that the guilt for this event belongs with the Russians? You will have to state it explicitly if you have any other point about it. And do not run away from it this time.