Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/9/2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/9/2008Strange Pairs

Articles for the news feed are sorted first by category and then by headline. When I preview the list of headlines, sometimes certain groups of articles seem to stand out. Tonight there are more than usual, and each pair tells a story.

The first one of this pair from Denmark concerns the ruling that will allow the man who threatened Kurt Westergaard with death to walk free in Denmark:

  • Denmark: Ministry: Thumbs Down to Govt. Bill
  • Denmark: Young Muslims Go Amok at Mall

Now come several self-explanatory pairs:

  • France: Hundreds of Muslim Graves Violated in Arras
  • France: Thousands of Worshippers in Paris Mosque for Eid

  • Morocco: Health Minister, 67% Medicine Graduates Are Women
  • Morocco: Thousand of Young Girls Work as Maids

  • When Free Speech Becomes a Crime
  • When Town Halls Turn to Mecca

And finally, a set of quadruplets from — where else? — the UK:

  • UK: Primary School Subjects Overhaul
  • UK: Schoolgirl With Learning Difficulties Gang-Raped and Scarred With Acid
  • UK: The Primary School Where Pupils Speak 41 Different Languages
  • UK: The Town Where Half the People Claim Say They Are Too Sick to Work

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Conservative Swede, Fjordman, Gaia, HL, Insubria, Islam in Action, JD, Steen, TB, Tuan Jim, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
- - - - - - - - -
USA
Bankruptcy Best Remedy for Big 3
Drone Lands in ND in Preparation for Border Patrol
NYPD Prepares for Mumbai Style Attacks
Obama and the Natural Born Citizen Clause
 
Canada
Blogger Disappears — Iranian Born But Held Canadian Citizenship
 
Europe and the EU
Agriculture: Greece, Milk Producers Protest
Asylum Seekers Riot in Athens
Bernard Dineen: Dishonest Lawyers Lead the Invasion of Britain
Denmark: Ministry: Thumbs Down to Govt. Bill
Denmark: Young Muslims Go Amok at Mall
Detention of Iranians Revealed Problems in International Arrest Warrant System
Disobedient Irish to Vote on Treaty Again Next Year
Energy: ENI Surges on Libyan Interest
EU: Czech President to Forge New Links With Israel
France: Thousands of Worshippers in Paris Mosque for Eid
France: Hundreds of Muslim Graves Violated in Arras
Invasion of Super Ants From Turkey
Italy Sticks to Climate Demands
Italy: Religious Freedom is Necessary, Frattini Says
Norway: Extremists Turn to Internet
Racism: Spain, Youths More Intolerant Towards Muslims
Swedes May Monitor Norwegian Web Traffic
Terrorism: Spain; Environmentalists, ETA’s Violence Ghastly
UK: Primary School Subjects Overhaul
UK: Schoolgirl With Learning Difficulties Gang-Raped and Scarred With Acid
UK: The Town Where Half the People Claim Say They Are Too Sick to Work
UK: The Primary School Where Pupils Speak 41 Different Languages
When Town Halls Turn to Mecca
When Free Speech Becomes a Crime
 
Balkans
EU-Serbia: FM, Full Cooperation With ICTY Needed
 
Mediterranean Union
Transport: Urso, Emirates Choose Italy as European Hub
 
North Africa
Morocco: Thousand of Young Girls Work as Maids
Morocco: Health Minister, 67% Medicine Graduates Are Women
The Great Sphinx of Giza Reborn as a Lion in the Desert
 
Middle East
Fashion: Syrian Lingerie Under Spotlight
Fashion: Benetton Inaugurates Store in Doha
Immigration: Kuwait Builds Residential Complex for Workers
Iran: Afghan Workers Send $500 Mln Home Annually, Says UN Report
Islam: 3 Million People Go to Mecca for Haji, Despite Crisis
Kuwait Charity to Send Aid Ship to Gaza
Oil: Kuwait and Qatar to Lower Crude Oil Shipments
Pakistan: Former Spies to be ‘Declared Terrorists’ in Bid to Curb Isi
Tourism: Qatar, USD 275 Million Theme Park Plan Unveiled
 
South Asia
Google Earth Accused of Aiding Terrorists
India: Police Release Names of 10 Terror Suspects
Indonesia: President Criticised for Endorsing Anti-Porn Law
More Unrest Over Asylum System
Pakistan Refuses to Extradite Mumbai Terrorists
Sniff Test
Sri Lanka: Ayuruvedic Cures for Aids Patients
 
Far East
China: “Your Complaint Will be Resolved”
Philippines: ‘No Ceasefire During Christmas’, Says Rebel Leader
 
Australia — Pacific
Discrimination Against White Males Will Soon be Encouraged
 
Immigration
A Third of Finland’s Immigrants Live in Helsinki
 
Culture Wars
Christmas Hijacked With ‘Gay’ Nativity
 
General
And Now for a World Government
Chemicals Are Affecting Reproduction
Greenhouse Gases Seeping Out of Tundra
Immigration and the Vulnerability of Democracy
World’s First Virtual World for Muslims is Launched

USA

Bankruptcy Best Remedy for Big 3

Exclusive: Brad O’Leary points out even union members oppose government bailout

If congressional leaders actually read GM’s fantasy plan, they would realize that a bailout is not the answer.

Bankruptcy, on the other hand, offers the best remedy for American taxpayers and the automakers. Filing for Chapter 11 protection would allow the automakers to restructure their companies and usher in new leadership.

First and foremost, the Big Three must at least renegotiate a more affordable labor contract, and this can only happen in bankruptcy.

GM must also address its unsustainable pension program. Its current pension obligation is $85 billion. The automaker has three times as many retirees as it does active workers and will be paying its retirees roughly $7 billion per year for the next 10 years.

Furthermore, questionable perks for senior executives and retirees need to be scaled back considerably. For example, executives at GM receive a new vehicle every four years, which is taxed as income by the IRS ? but not to worry, GM reimburses them for the amount taxed. GM also covers the cost of their residential security systems, golf club memberships, chauffeured vehicles and private aircraft.

Why not suspend all raises, bonuses and perks for senior, mid-level and lower-level management until the company actually turns a profit?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Drone Lands in ND in Preparation for Border Patrol

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — After two failed tries, an unmanned aircraft expected to be the first to patrol the northern U.S. border completed a flight from Arizona to North Dakota. U.S Customs and Border Protection officials said the Predator B drone touched down Saturday at the Grand Forks Air Force Base after a six-hour flight from Libby Army Airfield in Sierra Vista, Ariz..

“The aviators all brag about the perfect landing,” said Michael Corcoran, deputy director for air operations at U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine office in Grand Forks. “I guess we’ll brag about this one, as well,” he said. The drone is scheduled to begin patrolling the northern U.S. border in January. Its flights will originate from the Grand Forks base. […]

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said the state’s congressional delegation had been working for four years to get the unmanned aircraft to North Dakota.

“It is vital to America’s security that we protect our borders, particularly the northern border,” Conrad said. “The Grand Forks Air Branch plays an essential role in helping shut the door on terrorists who want to sneak across remote border points to strike on U.S. soil.”

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


NYPD Prepares for Mumbai Style Attacks

After seeing just how easily a terrorist attack like the recent ones in Mumbai can take place, the NYPD is taking steps to train their officers to be able to fight back with full force.

           — Hat tip: Islam in Action[Return to headlines]


Obama’s Own Cabinet Member: He’s ‘an Immigrant’

[Video]

Don’t believe Barack Obama’s grandmother? Don’t believe the ambassador to Kenya ? How about Barack Obama’s own Cabinet member?

That’s right — former presidential candidate and Obama’s choice for secretary of commerce, Gov. Bill Richardson, slipped up. In an effort to reach out to the Hispanic community, he admitted what Barack Obama has been trying to hide all these months: “Barack Obama is an immigrant.” See it for yourself…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama and the Natural Born Citizen Clause

by Randall Hoven

[…]

The US Constitution tells us exactly what to do in the current situation. The election is not some kind of deadline. Even the true election by Electors is not the deadline. The deadline is “the time fixed for the beginning of his term.” That would be January 20, 2009. We have not yet reached the Constitutional deadline. The Constitution even hints that there is, or should be, some kind of qualification process: “if the President elect shall have failed to qualify.” (By the way, that part of the Constitution was not written by dead white guys some 200 years ago; the 20th Amendment was ratified in 1933.)

If we find that Obama is not natural born, then the Constitution says Joe Biden shall be President until the President thing gets sorted out. Everything about that is horrible. Unfortunately, it is exactly what the Constitution says we shall do. It does not “suggest”; it says “shall.”

Are we to apply the Constitution only in cases where it is convenient to do so?

Those of us concerned about this, at least some of us, are not driven by keeping Obama out of office. Look, we’re talking President Biden. We’re talking disqualifying the first African-American to be elected President. We are talking Constitutional, existential crisis. Riots in the street, even civil war, maybe. This is a very bad situation.

But for all I know, there is a simple way to get past this. Perhaps some kind of retroactive re-definition of “natural born” that would handle Obama’s particular technicality. I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer. I’m actually hoping someone knows a clean way out of this.

For all I know, the facts of this case could turn out to be wonderful: Barack Obama is indeed natural born and we all live happily ever after. But the facts are key here. If he is not natural born, we should not ignore that fact.

Unfortunately, the facts are not clear…

Conclusion. The irony is that this would not take a protracted trial with tons of evidence and counter-evidence, examination and cross-examination, expert testimony from forensic anthropologists, or satellite imagery. All it should take is for Obama to authorize the release his original birth certificate, the “long form”, the one the state of Hawaii says it has on record.

That’s it; release the real certificate. If the “long form” birth certificate says Obama was born in the US, I think we are done.

Hurray!

But even if it doesn’t, we are not in Constitutional crisis or civil war just yet. Real lawyers could review the law and determine that Obama’s birth circumstances still meet the “natural born” criteria. Let’s get this issue out of the newspapers and the blogs and into a courtroom. A courtroom, you know, where facts and the law are dealt with in this country.

But if that doesn’t end it, we are still not in a crisis. Legislators could come up with some kind of retro-active legislation. I hear it’s been done before. Again, I’m not a lawyer, but it doesn’t seem hopeless.

Only if all of the above fail prior to January 20, 2009, would we be required to follow the Constitutional remedy of installing President Biden.

I think this series of actions is what lawyers call due process and due diligence. That, in my mind, is what we should be doing rather ignoring the entire matter because it is so unpleasant. We should also not be rope-a-doping the legal situation just to push the issue past January 20, 2009. Simply address the issue in a straightforward legal and Constitutional manner. That’s all I ask.

           — Hat tip: Conservative Swede[Return to headlines]

Canada

Blogger Disappears — Iranian Born But Held Canadian Citizenship

Family members of Hossein Derakhshan have confirmed reports that the popular Iranian-Canadian blogger, known as Hoder online, was arrested last month in Iran.

But officials at Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade say they haven’t yet been told by their Iranian counterparts whether Mr. Derakhshan, who is Iranian born but has Canadian citizenship, is indeed in custody.

Mr. Derakhshan blogs in both Persian and English, and was one of Iran’s first bloggers. He has been critical of the Iranian government in the past, but in recent months had taken a more relaxed approach leading up to a planned trip home.

But there has been no trace of him since Oct. 30. Iranian reports surfaced soon after that date, citing intelligence sources, saying he had been arrested and charged with spying on behalf of Israel.

Yesterday, through Toronto-based blogger and family friend Nazli Kamvari, Mr. Derakhshan’s family said he had been arrested at his residence in Iran on Nov. 1. The family has spoken to him four times since then, each time in a phone call lasting less than one minute, Ms. Kamvari said. But family members haven’t heard from Mr. Derakhshan for 13 days, and are now becoming worried. “Every time he’s been like, ‘I’m okay,’ “ said Ms.. Kamvari, 29. “They’re very confused.”

DFAIT first began looking into the rumours in mid-November, but hasn’t yet been told whether Mr. Derakhshan is in custody. “The embassy of Canada is pressing the Iranian authorities to confirm whether or not this Canadian is, in fact, being detained,” DFAIT spokesman Rodney Moore told The Globe and Mail. “ [DFAIT is] actively seeking confirmation of the reported arrest of a Canadian citizen in Iran.”

The relationship between the countries has been strained since 2003, when Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was arrested and died in custody soon after in a Tehran prison. Iran may not recognize Mr. Derakhshan’s Canadian citizenship, as he is Iranian born, and then may not agree to inform Ottawa of his arrest…

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Agriculture: Greece, Milk Producers Protest

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 2 — Greek producers in the milk and dairy sector have been protesting in the streets today in the north of the country. They want an increase in the minimum wholesale price for milk, to around 0.45 euro per litre. The producers are complaining that the prices paid to farmers keep getting reduced, whereas the prices for the consumers are increasing. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Asylum Seekers Riot in Athens

Hundreds of migrants waiting to submit asylum applications rioted in central Athens, setting fire to rubbish bins and attacking passing cars.

Protesters said the riot began when one man fell into a nearby canal after authorities told the crowd that no more applications could be submitted. Only a small number of applications can be submitted each week.

It was not immediately clear how the man fell into the canal. Police said he was injured and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. They said they were investigating the incident.

Outraged asylum-seekers began setting fire to rubbish bins and throwing them into the street, and ripped branches off trees to set them alight. A smaller group threw rocks at passing cars, stopping some vehicles and banging on them with their hands. There were no reports of any passers-by being injured.

The riot lasted for about an hour, and riot police who were on standby nearby did not intervene. A fire truck extinguished the blazes.

In October, a human rights group said a Pakistani man was fatally injured when he fell into the same canal.

The group, Stop the War Coalition, said that the man had been trying to escape police after immigrants queuing to submit applications clashed with authorities. Police rejected claims they had any involvement in the man’s death and said they had tried to repulse an attempt by a large group of migrants to jump the queue.

Rights groups have often criticised Greece’s treatment of illegal immigrants and the living conditions in detention centres.

Greece approved only 140 of the 20,692 asylum applications made in 2007, according to the UN refugee agency. Tens of thousands of illegal migrants enter Greece each year. Many attempt dangerous sea crossings from nearby Turkey or brave minefields to make their way in.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Bernard Dineen: Dishonest Lawyers Lead the Invasion of Britain

IT IS no secret that some dishonest lawyers have been exploiting the asylum system for years. They have forged documents, invented life stories and coached bogus asylum-seekers.

Nearly 300 firms are authorised to receive legal aid for asylum and immigration work, at a cost of £76m a year. Most are honest and reputable, but a minority are not.

According to the UK Border Agency, one firm at the heart of London’s Bangladeshi community suggested that its clients could buy a whole range of illegal services. The firm offered a new file and a concocted story that would be signed and sent to the Home Office. They even offered an introduction to a man who could — it was claimed — alter their fingerprints, a scheme which could have stopped applicants whose claims had been refused from being identified.

Agency staff also heard one barrister telling a client to “go home and learn your story”. So we should welcome the statement from Phil Woolas, the Immigration Minister, that there are “lawyers who delay removals without justification, play the system, and offer false hope”. There is nothing new about these practices, but it takes courage for a politician to even mention them…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Denmark: Ministry: Thumbs Down to Govt. Bill

The Justice Ministry says the government’s so-called Tunisian Bill contravenes human rights.

A government Bill that would restrict the movements of a man on tolerated residence to the Sandholm Camp, would be an infringement on his human rights according to a Justice Ministry statement to Parliament.

As a result, one of Denmark’s Mohammed cartoonists Kurt Westergaard risks meeting the man that the Security and Intelligence Service claims laid plans to kill him.

A new response to Parliament from the ministry says that it would run contrary to human rights to prevent the man from visiting his Danish-born wife and their children at the Gellerup Park estate near Århus.

DPP demand

The risk that Westergaard could meet the man alleged to have laid plans to kill him was one of the reasons that the Danish People’s Party forced the government to tighten rules on foreigners afforded tolerated residence in Denmark.

Tolerated residence is a residence permit afforded those who cannot be extradited to their home country for fear of maltreatment.

With its statement to Parliament, the Justice Ministry has pulled the carpet out from under the government Bill, according to Information, which adds that refusing the Tunisian permission to visit his family over the weekend would run contrary to the European Human Rights Convention.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Denmark: Young Muslims Go Amok at Mall

Police used pepper spray Monday night to dispel up to 300 Muslim young people who caused disturbances outside Fisketorvet mall in downtown Copenhagen.

The youths had gathered at the shopping centre in connection with the celebration of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.

But several of those present got out of hand, according to police. Bicycles were thrown onto the nearby S-train tracks, shoppers at the mall were harassed and rocks were thrown at police who arrived on the scene.

Officers managed to split the group in two and drive them away from the mall. Five youths were eventually arrested as a result of the fracas.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Detention of Iranians Revealed Problems in International Arrest Warrant System

Finnish police command to re-examine Interpol system

The Police Department of the Ministry of the Interior is looking into whether or not there are serious shortcomings in the arrest warrant system of the international police organisation Interpol.

Kari Rantama, head of the department’s international unit says that the reason for the move is an incident a week ago Sunday, when two Iranian men were stopped at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport and detained for three days on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by Iran.

The men came to Finland to prepare for NGO activities linked with last week’s Ministerial Council meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Iran says that the two are terrorists.

Representatives of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) have criticised the Finnish authorities for their handling of the case, saying that it is the first time that a Western democracy has prevented the free movement of representatives of the Iranian opposition.

“We thought that Finland would follow the line of other countries”, said Perviz S. Khazai, a representative of the organisation, in Helsinki on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


Disobedient Irish to Vote on Treaty Again Next Year

All 27 member states must ratify the Treaty before it comes into force. Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic are the only nations that have not yet agreed to do so.

British voters were initially promised a referendum on whether to adopt the EU Constitution, but the Government decided against allowing it after the document was rebranded as the Lisbon Treaty.

On Thursday the Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen will confirm that a new vote will be held in 2009.

Diplomats have named October as the most likely date for the vote, while Government sources said April was also being considered

Mr Cowen said he believed that the economic crisis could help persuade some of those who voted against the Treaty to change their minds.

The Government is expected to argue that Ireland would have been in a worse position if it had not signed up to the euro, and that the Treaty will speed up decision-making and help tackle the downturn.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Energy: Tensions Increased by Cyprus Gazprom Plans

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, DECEMBER 8 — Discussions between the Republic of Cyprus and Russian oil giant Gazprom on the supply of liquefied gas have increased tensions with Turkey over their search for offshore oil and gas in contested areas of the Mediterranean. The Financial Times reports that the Cyprus government is preparing to build Cyprus’s first LNG terminal in order to reduce reliance on imported oil products. It adds that Cyprus, which began discussions with Russia’s Gazprom natural gas monopoly this week, plans to start trading gas with neighbouring countries. It also hopes to find commercial quantities of oil or gas in offshore zones off the Greek Cypriot-controlled south of the island. Exploration rights in these areas have already been agreed with Egypt and Lebanon, and talks are under way with Syria for a similar agreement. A second round of bids for 11 offshore exploration blocks will be held early next year. However, the Greek Cypriot moves have soured the atmosphere at talks with the Turkish Cypriots on reunifying the island and triggered a robust response from Turkey. Last month the Cyprus governent complained to the United Nations over its oil dispute with Turkey, accusing Ankara of harassing oil exploration vessels within its exclusive economic zone. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Energy: ENI Surges on Libyan Interest

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, DECEMBER 8 — Eni surged by more than 10% on the Milan stock market today after Libya voiced interest in taking a 10% chunk of the Italian fuels group. In the meantime, the number one of Libyan National Oil Corporation said that the company will buy at the appropriate moment for the market. ‘‘Eni is one of the chances that we are looking at, we have shown our interest to the Italian government and we will buy shares when the market conditions are appropriate’’, said Shokri Ghanem in an interview reported by Bloomberg. Ghanem did not specify the price of the acquisition. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


EU: Czech President to Forge New Links With Israel

Prague, 8 Dec. (AKI) — The Czech government said on Monday it would press its partners in the European Union to strengthen its links with Israel once it assumes the presidency in January.

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told reporters that not all EU governments support broadening relations with Israel but such a move would also be in the interest of the Palestinian people.

“This is a club of 27. It’s our intention to start the discussion,” he said.

Since last June, the EU and Israel have been exploring ways to grant Israel better access to the vast European market and give it a role in a range of EU advisory panels.

But deepening political and security exchanges needs the unanimous backing of all 27 EU governments.

The Palestinian Authority opposes the EU plan to expand relations with Israel in the political, economic, scientific, security, health and other spheres.

It wants Israel to do more to ease the humanitarian crisis in Palestinian territories and halt the spread of settlements.

But Schwarzenberg said Israel has been easing West Bank travel restrictions and allowed Palestinian security forces to maintain law and order there in recent months.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is current president of the European Union until 31 December when the Czech Republic assumes the rotating EU presidency

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


France: Thousands of Worshippers in Paris Mosque for Eid

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, DECEMBER 8 — Some 8,000 muslims took part this morning in the Grand Mosque of Paris to the prayers for the Day of Sacrifice (Eid al Kebir). The number is slightly lower than last year because the recent inauguration of the mosque of Creteil allowed the worshippers to avoid the trip to Paris. A cerimony at the mosque in Drancy, close to the Charles De Gaulle airport, is also expected today for the muslims of Seine-Saint-Denis. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


France: Hundreds of Muslim Graves Violated in Arras

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, DECEMBER 8 — For the third time in two years, muslim graves of the military cemetry in Notre-Dame de Lorette, northern France, were violated. Hundreds of graves were spoiled with writings and graffiti last night on the eve of the Islamic feast of Aid El-Kebir. French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed “deep indignation” for the event. “This sordid act is the expression of ghastly racism against France’s Muslim community,” Sarkozy said wishing that those responsible will be soon “identified” and “ strictly punished”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Invasion of Super Ants From Turkey

It lives in super colonies of more than 100million and thrives in the cold.

Its name is Lasius neglectus — and it is heading for Britain.

Harmless to humans and not very different to look at than our own garden ant, Lasius is nevertheless causing researchers great concern.

So massive are its colonies, covering acres of ground, that it can drive out native insects and other species simply by out-competing them for food.

Apparently preferring urban parks and gardens to rural areas, it also invades houses, attracted to the magnetic fields created by plug sockets and often causing power failures by eating through wiring.

Thought to have originated in Turkey, by 2000 it had taken up residence in 30 parts of Europe.

Now the flightless creature’s huge colonies can be found in 108 locations in 15 countries, from Belgium to Uzbekistan.

Experts believe it is only a matter of time before the ant marches into Britain — that is, if it is not already here.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Italy Sticks to Climate Demands

Changes to EU package “unavoidable”, minister says

(ANSA) — Brussels, December 8 — Italy is sticking to its guns over demands to ease the European Union’s climate package in light of the global financial crisis, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Monday.

Speaking at a meeting of EU foreign and industry ministers ahead of an EU summit starting on Thursday, Frattini said that negotiations had been ‘‘making progress’’ but added that some of Italy’s ‘‘unavoidable requests’’ to protect the country’s economy had not yet been satisfied.

‘‘We have some red lines (that must be respected), principally the defence of some sectors in the manufacturing industry,’’ he said.

According to Industry Minister Claudio Scajola, Italy’s demand for a review of renewable energy issues in 2014 was accepted on Monday.

But a request for a second review of the entire package after the world climate conference in Copenhagen at the end of 2009 was still on the table.

Frattini hailed other steps forward, including the introduction of parameters that will serve to identify business sectors at risk from the climate deal as well as a pledge from current EU president France that the package will require unanimous approval.

He said that ‘‘many countries’’ including Germany and the United Kingdom had also told the meeting they could not accept the package as it stands, adding that they had asked for ‘‘more drastic’’ changes than Italy.

The minister said France would present a new compromise text on Wednesday.

Earlier on Monday Frattini had said that Italy was prepared to compromise on its demands to ease the package, ‘‘but not at all costs’’. He said Italy had presented requests for changes that were ‘‘absolutely indispensable for our economy’’ in the light of the global financial crisis. As it stands, the EU climate package sets a 2020 deadline to reduce greenhouse gases by 20% below 1990 levels through a 20% increase in the use of renewable energy and a 20% boost in energy efficiency.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Religious Freedom is Necessary, Frattini Says

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, DECEMBER 8 — The world must send Islam a message on its Day of Sacrifice today that religious freedom is necessary around the world, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said. “The message is: full respect for their religion and freedom of religion throughout the world, including Europe. This is absolutely necessary,” he said. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Muslims Take Part in Global Festival

Milan, 8 Dec.(AKI) — Around 400,000 Italian Muslims are taking part in the Eid al-Adha or Festival of Sacrifice this year, the director of Islam-online.it, Hamza Piccardo, told Adnkronos International (AKI). He said that Muslims in almost every Italian city were participating in the festival that began on Monday.

“We have noticed a major increase in relation to last year of at least 40 percent,” he said.

“In the sermons delivered by the Imams, as well as remembering obedience to Abraham and the mercy of Allah, is a big appeal for internal harmony and unity.”

Piccardo is a former secretary of Italy’s largest Muslim group, the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy (UCOII).

According to data Piccardo collected, there were 25,000 faithful attending the mosque in Rome, 15,000 in Milan, 5,000 in Pioltello on the outskirts of the city and another 10,000 in Palasesto outside Milan.

Abdellah Redouane, director of The Islamic Cultural Center of Italy said there had been an “extraordinary” response to this year’s Muslim festival, perhaps because it coincided with a public holiday in the country and many Muslims had a day off work.

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


Norway: Extremists Turn to Internet

The Internet is becoming an increasingy important tool for extremist groups, also in Norway. Head of the Security Police (PST), Joern Holme says they are following developments closely.

- Extreme web sites trying to influence young people to associate themselves with terrorism as a tool, is a global phenomenon which is also available to young people in Norway, Holme says.

In a PST report it is revealed that also sectons of the Islamistic environment in Norway are active in spreading their ideological message over the Internet.

Holme says several such web sites are easily accessible to Norwegian youth, and that the web is becoming increasingly important to those trying to recruit followers.

- Propaganda material from Norwegian extremist groups is widespread, and the content varies, the PST leader says.

- We see pictures of murder, suicide missions, deep and serious violation of human rights and glorification of violence, Holme says.

Holme says he is not only concerned over Islamistic groups, but over all those wishing to spread a message of violence.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


Racism: Spain, Youths More Intolerant Towards Muslims

(ANSmed) — MADRID, DECEMBER 8 — Racial intolerance by young people towards Muslims is on the rise, according to a survey realized in the Spanish schools. The feelings of the Spanish teenagers towards foreigners, based on the survey, are currently being examined by the Racism and Migration Study Centre. Before the deadly attacks in Madrid, the gipsies were the racist target of the Spanish youths who today turn their xenophobic feelings towards Moroccans even if from 2002 up to now the percentage of those who do not want North Africans in Spain fell from 48.6% to 39.1%. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Swedes May Monitor Norwegian Web Traffic

Norwegian authorities have confirmed that a new Swedish security law will allow Swedish security police to monitor Norwegian e-mail and mobile phone traffic to other countries.

Nearly all electronic communication to other countries via cable network is routed through Sweden.

Two reports, from the Norwegian Data Protection Registrar and the Norwegian Post and Telecommunication Authority, confirm that based on the new controversial Swedish FRA law, the Swedes may monitor and search for information in all communications streaming in and out of Sweden through the cable networks.

In certain cases even communication between Norwegian citizens inside Norway may be routed via Sweden, and therefore possibly subjected to monitoring and registration.

The Data Protection Registrar (DR) is concerned and critical to the new developments.

- We don’t know what this may lead to. In the worst case it may end up with people not even feeling free to talk openly on the phone, says DR chief Georg Apenes to NRK.

The Department of Communications will now consider the need for further contact with Swedish authorities, and will also look into the possibility of routing Norwegian electronic communications outside Swedish territory.

Encryption of all electronic communication to and from Norway has also been discussed.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


Terrorism: Spain; Environmentalists, ETA’s Violence Ghastly

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, DECEMBER 8 — “Eta’s violence has no room within the environmental fight”. The statement was made by the five main ecological organizations in Spain. In an exclusive article published by Spanish daily El Pais, the organizations condemned the latest murder by Eta which killed Spanish businessman Ignacio Uria, involved in the building of the high speed network in the Basque countries. “We do not want to defend the environment this way, through the murder of a person,” the organizations said accusing Eta of “perverting” any ecological campaign with “their ghastly violence”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UK: Primary School Subjects Overhaul

A major review of the curriculum for England’s primary schools suggests that six broad “areas of learning” could replace individual subjects.

The report from government adviser Sir Jim Rose wants to create a more flexible, less “overloaded” timetable.

It also calls for children to learn more about well-being, happiness and healthy living.

Sir Jim rejected this was “dumbing down” and said the changes reflected the skills most needed by children.

Responsible citizens

Sir Jim was asked by the government to carry out a “root-and-branch” review of what is taught in primary schools.

His interim review suggests that there could be six broader “areas of learning”, rather than up to 14 individual subjects, such as history, geography and science.

“We’re not destroying subject teaching — far from it. We want it to be done more rigorously,” says Sir Jim.

[…]

As well as cutting out subjects, Sir Jim proposes a greater emphasis on life skills, including making lessons about emotional well-being and social skills a compulsory part of the curriculum.

Pupils should have the “personal, social and emotional qualities essential to their health, well-being and life as a responsible citizen in the 21st Century”.

[…]

‘Erosion’

The Conservatives’ Children’s Secretary, Michael Gove, said the shift away from subjects meant a dilution of learning.

“The government’s changes to the primary curriculum will lead to children learning less not more. The move away from traditional subject areas will lead to a further erosion of standards,” said Mr Gove.

Liberal Democrat Children’s spokesman David Laws said schools needed greater freedom to set their own teaching priorities, not a new set of government directives.

“While IT skills are extremely important, they must not come at the expense of giving children a good grounding in the basics of literacy and numeracy.”

The National Association of Head Teachers welcomed the emphasis on well-being, saying that such an “ethos of holistic education” was one of most important aspects of primary school.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Schoolgirl With Learning Difficulties Gang-Raped and Scarred With Acid

A schoolgirl with learning difficulties was gang-raped by up to ten thugs who then threw caustic soda over her.

They left her screaming in agony, with skin peeling off her face and body, as they ran away laughing.

The horrific attack has left the 15-year-old, who has a mental age of eight or nine, disfigured for life and severely traumatised.

Yesterday three of her attackers were convicted of rape after pleading not guilty, forcing the girl to relive her ordeal by giving evidence via video-link.

They sneered in the dock at Wood Green Crown Court, North London, as the Ghanaian-born teenager frequently paused because her wounds were causing discomfort.

The rape happened in January this year in Tottenham after the girl arranged to meet a man she knew. Instead she was lured to see Jamaican-born Rogel McMorris, then 17.

Then at least nine of his friends arrived and the terrified teenager was stripped and repeatedly raped. Finally the youths poured caustic soda over her body in an apparent an attempt to get rid of forensic evidence. She suffered deep burns to her face and neck, chest, and private parts.

The attackers were all members of a gang calling themselves ‘Tugs From Around’, meaning thugs from several parts of North London.

The jury found McMorris, now 18, guilty of rape. His immigrant status is being investigated. Jason Brew, 19, who was born in the UK, and Hector Muaimba, 20, an immigrant from Angola, were also found guilty of rape. All have previous convictions and will be sentenced next month.

Some of the attackers were never identified, but those convicted were caught by DNA and fingerprint evidence plus data proving their mobile phones were at the location at the time.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


UK: The Town Where Half the People Claim Say They Are Too Sick to Work

It was once a bustling centre for the textile industry with thousands hard at work in the cotton mills.

But now Falinge in Rochdale has been branded the sick-note capital of Britain with almost half the population apparently too ill to work.

An astonishing 42.9 per cent of all working-age adults living in the council ward are claiming incapacity benefits.

[…]

Falinge is home to about 4,500 men, women and children. Yet of the fit and able to work only a little over 250 are employed.

In recent years, the area has seen a massive influx of immigrants, mainly from Pakistan. More than 30 per cent of families in Falinge are Pakistani, although most residents are white working class.

The average life expectancy is 68, the sixth lowest in Britain, and community leaders say they are working tirelessly to improve the quality of life.

Former Rochdale MP Sir Cyril Smith said: ‘It has been given a title like this before and I don’t believe it is true. It is a very good place to live. I’ve been here all my life, 80 years, and it has very good people.

‘Falinge is like every other place in that it has its good uns and bad uns. Of course the people want to work, if there is work for them.’

Paul Rowen, Rochdale Lib Dem MP, said: ‘The majority in Falinge are hardworking and decent people who have lost their jobs because of de-industrialisation. The mills have shut down and people are struggling to find jobs.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: The Primary School Where Pupils Speak 41 Different Languages

Learning a shy “hola” or “bonjour” is as far as many pupils get in speaking a foreign language.

But those at Newbury Park Primary are a little more ambitious.

Children there learn key phrases in more than 40 languages — all spoken fluently by one or more pupils at the school.

By the time they leave for secondary school, they boast far more than a mere smattering of French or Cantonese.

They can say something in everything from Afrikaans to Hebrew, Japanese to Norwegian.

Teachers say Newbury Park’s “language of the month” programme has also helped tackle the sense of alienation felt by newcomers to the school in Redbridge, East London.

In little more than a decade, the proportion of pupils at the school who do not speak English at home has doubled to 80 per cent.

The biggest ethnic group are Tamils who have fled the civil war in Sri Lanka.

“You have 250 Tamil children in the school. It is just polite to greet them in their own language and recognise their culture,” said teacher Joe Debono, who runs the language scheme.

“And it is a way of celebrating the ethnic diversity of the school and not seeing it as a problem.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


When Town Halls Turn to Mecca

For many European municipalities and a few American ones (see article) accommodating Islam is a big dilemma—but not an insoluble one

IN CITIES all over Europe, mayors are fretting about the coming religious festivities. No, not just Christmas lights. They want to ensure hygiene and order in the slaughter of sheep for the feast of Eid al-Adha on December 8th. This remembers the readiness of Abraham—the patriarch revered by all three monotheistic faiths—to sacrifice his son. Muslims often sacrifice a lamb, whose meat is shared with family members and the poor.

In the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, where the dominant culture is that of Morocco, a circular from the district authorities reminds residents not to kill animals at home. It invites them to a “temporary abattoir” that will function for 48 hours in a council garage. Molenbeek is one of four areas of Brussels which have set up makeshift slaughterhouses, each with a capacity of at least 500 sheep. In practice, home killing is hard to stop, despite vows by the city authorities to prosecute offenders.

In places like Molenbeek, a few miles away from the European Union’s main institutions, talk of the continent’s transformation into Eurabia doesn’t sound absurd. Although Muslims make up less than 4% of the EU’s total population, their concentration in urban areas is altering the scene in some European cities…

           — Hat tip: HL[Return to headlines]


When Free Speech Becomes a Crime

The European ministers of justice agreed this Friday to institute these penalties into their legislation. It has taken more than seven years of negotiations to reach this result, stressed the European Commissioner of Justice Jacques Barrot, as he announced the decision to the press after the meeting. “Racism and xenophobia do not have a place in Europe and should not exist anywhere in the world,” he emphasized.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Balkans

EU-Serbia: FM, Full Cooperation With ICTY Needed

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, DECEMBER 8 — EU Foreign Ministers “acknowledge the progress made by Serbia in the process of cooperation with International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), however believing that the country must complete this positive evolution towards through full cooperation”. This is the call to Serbia written in the conclusion of the EU Foreign Council on Western Balkans. The Council also underlines how important is for Belgrade to realize “tangible progress” in relevant sectors such as Statés rights, economic reforms and the fight against crime and corruption. Furthermore, the Council pushes Serbia to have a “constructive attitude” in terms of regional cooperation. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Serbia: Netherlands Pushes for Mladic’s Arrest

Belgrade, 8 Dec. (AKI) — Dutch Foreign Minister Maxim Verhagen on Monday reiterated his country’s call for Serbia to arrest fugitive war crimes suspect General Ratko Mladic before the European Union signs a trade agreement with the Balkan country.

The European Council of Ministers had been due to discuss unfreezing a preliminary trade agreement with Serbia at a session in Brussels on Monday. But because of Dutch opposition, the trade agreement was removed from the agenda, Serbian news agency Beta reported.

In a statement after the meeting, the Council praised progress made by Serbia in cooperating with the United Nations’ Hague-based war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

But the Council said Serbia still needed “to consolidate this positive development to achieve full cooperation with the tribunal.”

Serbia earlier this year arrested former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic and delivered him to the Hague tribunal to stand trial on 11 counts, including crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. Karadzic had been living in Belgrade for the past 13 years under a false identity.

Mladic, Karadzic’s general during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war, is still on the run, as is another top fugitive war crimes suspect, the former leader of rebel Serbs in Croatia, Goran Hadzic.

Like Karadzic, Mladic (right in poster in photo) has been indicted by the Hague tribunal for genocide, crimes against humanity, and numerous war crimes.

Believed to be living in Serbia, Mladic has been dubbed ‘the butcher of Srebrenica’ for his alleged role in masterminding the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim civilians by Serb paramilitaries in the eastern Bosnian town in July 1995.

A preliminary deal on closer EU-Serbia trade and other links was reached last year but the EU has said it would not sign the deal until Belgrade co-operates fully with the Hague tribunal and hands over all remaining fugitives.

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

Mediterranean Union

Transport: Urso, Emirates Choose Italy as European Hub

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 25 — Emirates, the United Arab Emirates’ flagship company, has chosen Italy as its hub for access to Europe, in particular, Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa e Venice airports. The decision was formalised yesterday morning in Abu Dhabi where the mixed Committee of the Italian Government, represented by undersecretary for Economic development in charge of Foreign Trade, Adolfo Urso, and Federal Minister for the Economy of the United Arab Emirates, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Monsouri took place. The Emirates asked for a considerable increase in the number of slots used by the Emirates, currently fewer than 10 units. In particular, the flights, which leave weekly will be divided into: 21 destined for Rome Fiumicino, 21 for Milan Malpensa and 14 for Venice airport. There will aslo be 28 weekly cargo flights. The company Etihad also forms part of the agreement, who have asked for 7 flights to Rome Fiumicino and the same for Milan Malpensa. With this agreement, Italy is destined to more easily become the tourist route for the new rich of the Gulf and South East Asia. “It is a very significant agreement” said Urso, “it means that the Arab Emirates have chosen Italy as a doorway to Europe. This means more tourism, more economic and commercial business, and it can also mean the relaunch of Alitalia”. In fact in the internal national European treaties, the Emirates will be able to count on the contribution of the new Italian airline. Another crucial element which was highlighted during the negotiations is the conclusion by January 2009 of an agreement to a free trade area between the EU and the Gulf countries. “The political will is there to sign the agreement in the next few weeks” said Urso. “In the absence of the Doha round this could represent the biggest impulse for world trade development, an enormous opportunity for Made in Italy which could see customs barriers come down with countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Morocco: Thousand of Young Girls Work as Maids

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 30 — Around 66,000 young girls work as maids in Morocco. It is a widespread reality in Arab countries for young girls to be “employed” as housemaids in middle-class households. Often the girls are daughters of the “baouab”, the porter, who for a few dirhams carry out this work all day instead of going to school. In addition, their employers do not worry too much about holidays, overtime or nightshifts. In Morocco, the problem of child labour has now become a real plague. According to information from the Family, Solidarity and Social Development Ministry, taken from the Moroccan daily Le Soir Echos, around 600,000 children, aged between 7 and 14 years old, work. In the city of Casablanca alone, reports the newspaper, there are said to be almost 23,000 adolescents, between 12 and 18 years old, working in residences as domestic help. The Family Minister, Nouzda Skalli, says that it “is unacceptable that the Morocco of the 21st century can accept a situation like this. For this reason, our aim is to succeed in eliminating the phenomenon by 2010”. There are two routes that the Rabat government intends to follow. On the one hand, it wants to modify the regulatory system, trying to raise the threshold of working age and cooperating with the Ministry for Education to prevent children missing out on education. On the other hand, it wants to make citizens aware. Already in 2007, the Department for Social Development actually started the “Inqad” programme which makes television commercials and radio messages targeted at parents, intermediaries and employers. By December 2008, announces minister Skalli, the government will launch a campaign aimed at impeding the trade in underage persons and striking the network of intermediaries which exploit the young, particularly young girls. At the same time, the new plan aims to involve parents, associations and educational institutions. And precisely the schools of the kingdom should take on a more active role to prevent increasing numbers of young people spending their time on the street. On the basis on the latest estimates, the number of these young people actually oscillates between 10,000 and 30,000. It is a phenomenon which continues to grow, say experts, and is caused by a number of factors: by the demographic change that the country has undergone, to the exodus from the countryside, from social pressures which lead for example single mothers to abandon their children or simply the reduction of family support. Even in this case, the ministry led by Nouzda Skalli has decided to intervene, launching a “zero tolerance” plan. Its objective is to cut as many children from Morocco’s streets as possible by 2010-2012. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Morocco: Health Minister, 67% Medicine Graduates Are Women

(ANSAmed) — ROMA, NOVEMBER 28 — Yasmina Baddou, Moroccòs Health Minister, was proud to announce that 67% of its medicine graduates in 2007 were women. The daily ‘L’Opinion’ writes this, telling the story of the parliamentary questions in the Chamber of Advisors of Morocco (House of Lords). For some branches of medicine, for example nephrology, almost all graduates are women, the minister added, many of them married with children. This would obstruct the decision to accept to work in remote areas in the country, where there is a great need for medical staff however. Minster Baddou explained the problem, underlining that some medics refuse to work far from what she called the “axis Rabat-Casablanca”. The minister proposes a system of shifts, so that more patients in Morocco can consult a doctor. Attempts are made to guarantee the most stubborn graduates, by contract, that they will be transferred to less peripheral regions within 12 or 24 months. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


The Great Sphinx of Giza Reborn as a Lion in the Desert

The Sphinx in Egypt might have originally had the face of a lion, it is claimed.

And it could be much older than previously thought, investigations led by a British geologist suggest.

Egyptologists have long argued the monument outside Cairo, which has the head of a pharaoh and the body of a lion, was built soon after the first pyramid — around 4,500 years ago.

But geologist Colin Reader found that rain erosion on the Sphinx’s enclosure suggests it was built many years before.

A sunken palace on the Giza plateau provides further evidence that there was activity in the area before the building of the pyramids, Mr Reader said.

Its style implies that it is older than the other tombs at the site. Mr Reader said the tomb would have been adapted and embellished by later inhabitants of the area.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Fashion: Syrian Lingerie Under Spotlight

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 28 — By documenting the lingerie culture of Syria, the book ‘The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie: Intimacy and Design’ reveals a previously unknown side of Arabic design, fashion and sexuality. The most outrageous and exuberant lingerie in the world comes from a place you’d probably never expect: Syria. Adorned with everything from faux fur, artificial flowers, and feathered birds to plastic toy cell phones, these intimates flash lights, play music, even vibrate. In Damascus and Aleppo, approximately 200 lingerie companies vie for a highly competitive domestic market, where styles change from season to season. The lingerie forms part of the popular traditions surrounding marriage for the country’s Muslims. Despite traditionally closed and religious nature of Syrian society, the revealing lingerie is sold openly in the souks or alongside bridal gowns and bathrobes in dedicated women’s clothing stores. ‘The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie’ sheds light on social more of Syrians, both Christian and Muslim, thereby questioning western preconceptions about Islam. The book also celebrates other design aspects of Syria from traditional textiles in regards to fashion and textiles and imagery of women in traditional illustrations, prints and popular packaging. The book is edited by Malu Halasa and Rana Salam, with contributions by Ammar Abdulhamid, Malu Halasa, Noura Kevorkian, and Kaelen Wilson-Goldie; photographic essays by Iman Ibrahim, Gilbert Hage, Omar Al-Moutem, Wael Hmeida, Reine Mahfouz, Issa Touma. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Fashion: Benetton Inaugurates Store in Doha

(ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER 1 — Benetton Group, in partnership with Al Mana Fashion Group, has inaugurated a store in Doha, the capital of Qatar, accelerating, read in a message, “the expansion process in the main Middle Eastern cities”. The architectural space in the sales point “furnished according to more evolved and modern Twins canons (the concept of Benetton stores), has been studied to create true product sections where various themes in the Benetton collection are developed such as woman and children”. The opening of this sales point “confirms — wrote in the message — the interest of the Benetton Group for the Middle East, where the company has created a commercial centre, based in Dubai to monitor the market more closely, to protect the area in a specific way, and to detect all business opportunities. In particular, for the development of the market in Qatar, a cooperation with Al Mana Fashion Group has been signed: a recognized group in the fashion sector for reliability, performance, quality service and results, which have brought it to obtain important international agreements”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Immigration: Kuwait Builds Residential Complex for Workers

(ANSAmed) — KUWAIT, DECEMBER 8 — Kuwait’s Ministry of Labor is constructing a residential complex for expatriate workers in the district of Sabhan, Kuna news agency reports. The ministry’s assistant undersecretary for engineering of construction ventures, Husam Tahous, said in a statement to KUNA that the 60,000 square meters complex will accomodate 3,000 workers. He indicated that the construction of the labor towns in the country was designed to furnish these workers with some entertainment facilities, restrict offenses and limit crimes. The ministry has also tendered a project to construct another complex in the district of Al-Shedadiah. The 100,000 sq structure will have a capacity to house up to 9,000 workers. It has recently received a written request by the municipality to allocate three locations for the construction of labor towns for housing 9,000 laborers, Al-Tahous added. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Iran: Afghan Workers Send $500 Mln Home Annually, Says UN Report

New York, 8 Dec. (AKI) — Afghans working in Iran send home some 500 million dollars each year, or around 6 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product. That is the finding of a new study commissioned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Labour Organization.

Most Afghans are working in Iran illegally. Some 360,000 Afghan migrants were deported last year, said the new report.

“The potential for Afghans to succeed financially in Iran is significantly higher than in Afghanistan,” said Nassim Majidi of Altai Consulting, which was commissioned to conduct the survey.

Afghans send two-thirds of their salaries in Iran back to Afghanistan, she said. Also, monthly wages in Iran are four times higher than in Afghanistan.

An Afghan earns a monthly wage of 320 dollars on average in Iran compared to 80 dollars in their home country.

Unemployment levels are also significantly lower and most Afghan workers find work within a week of arriving and gain new skills in Iran, Majidi said.

Afghan migrants stay on average 3.5 years in Iran, the UN study found. Nearly two-thirds have been to Iran more than once for work and have been deported.

A rise in people smuggling has increased physical and psychological vulnerability for Afghan migrants making the journey to Iran with an “undeniable human cost” said Majidi.

While recognising Iran’s sovereign right to deport undocumented migrants within its territory, the new study calls on both Iran and Afghanistan to “endorse a rights-based approach for all deportees during detention and upon return.

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


Islam: 3 Million People Go to Mecca for Haji, Despite Crisis

(ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER 8 — The global financial crisis is the result of ignoring Shariah rules and practicing usury that is prohibited in Islam, the Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh said to aroudn three million pilgrims gathered in Mecca for the annual hajj staryed on Saturday. The grand mufti also condemned terrorism and piracy. “The Ummah (community of believers) is targeted by enemieswho are keen on weakening it through creation of conflicts and disputes,” the grand mufti said to pilgrims on mount Arafat, as reported by Arab News. Al-Asheikh also underlined the need for securing maritime trade and for keeping seas safe from pirates. The grand mufti also stressed the need for believing other messengers of God. “Whoever does not believe in the messages of the Prophets Jesus and Moses — he said — is considered an infidel”. The global crisis, however, was perceived also for the Haji. According to Meccàs hotel keepers, Arab News reports, the number of pilgrims from Europe and North America decreased by 25-30%. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Kuwait Charity to Send Aid Ship to Gaza

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, DECEMBER 8 — Kuwait’s Al-Rahma Charity would send a ship carrying medicine from Cyprus to the beleaguered Gaza Strip within a few days time. According to Kuna news agency, Kamal Mosleh, the society’s representative in the Gaza Strip, said the ship with 7.5 tonnes of medical aid aboard would sail to Gaza soon, noting that medicine would be distributed among the Kuwait Specialized Hospital in Rafah and other Palestinian public clinics. By doing so, the charity wants to break the unjust Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, he said. It is part of a recent campaign launched by the Kuwaiti charity last week, calling it ‘Save Gaza’, during which KD two million (over 5.7 million euro) was raised, he added. The raised sum will be allocated for sending humanitarian aid to the poor population of the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip, he concluded. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Oil: Kuwait and Qatar to Lower Crude Oil Shipments

(ANSAmed) — KUWAIT CITY, DECEMBER 8 — Qatar and Kuwait will reduce crude oil shipments to customers in January as part of production cuts implemented by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), traders at Asian refiners said. According to Gulf news online, Kuwait Petroleum Corp. will end an option for Asian refiners to receive as much as 5% more crude oil than their contracts stipulate, the traders said. The agreements will be amended with effect from January, keeping an option for customers to take as much as 5 per cent less than the contracted volume, the traders said. Opec agreed to cut output by 1.5 million barrels a day starting in November and is scheduled to meet in Algeria on December 17 to discuss production cuts. State-owned Qatar Petroleum will cut exports to Asian customers by 5% below their contracted volumes, the traders said. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Pakistan: Former Spies to be ‘Declared Terrorists’ in Bid to Curb Isi

Karachi, 9 Dec. (AKI) — By Syed Saleem Shahzad — Pakistan has given the United States approval to submit the names of two former senior officials to the United Nations’ Security Council as declared terrorists. They are former director of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, Retired Lt. General Hamid Gul and former ISI official, retired squadron leader Khalid Khawaja.

“There were accusations that the ISI had links with the militancy and therefore there was a demand to clamp down on the ISI but instead they are aiming to take us on,” said Khalid Khawaja. “Now you tell me what relations we have with ISI. We are retired people.”

Sources said that the thread of investigations had begun with people considered to be the architects of jihad in South Asia during the post-Soviet Russian era and who still support the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Hamid Gul openly supported the Taliban-led resistance against NATO troops in Afghanistan while Khalid Khawaja provided relief to the families of Al-Qaeda members who were killed and arrested by the Pakistani security forces.

He was the only person in the country who sourced houses for them to rent in Islamabad, supported their wives and children and arranged travel for them to their countries of origin.

Khalid later founded an organisation called Defense for Human Rights which promoted the cause of missing people. Those people were allegedly detained for months and in some cases for several years by the security forces without trial.

After the Red Mosque military operation in 2007, Khalid filed several cases in the court of law against former President Pervez Musharraf and then corps commander Rawalpindi (now Chairman joint Chiefs of Staff Committee) General Tariq Majeed.

Sources said that this was the beginning and more names were expected to be added to the list, including former Chief of Army Staff General Aslam Beg and the most charismatic among the jihadi circle who is often blamed by NATO for actively supporting the Taliban, retired Colonel Ameer Sultan, known as Colonel Imam.

“By blaming the retired people, it is a conspiracy to tighten the noose around Pakistan’s ISI,” Colonel Imam told AKI in a telephone interview.

“By putting the names of General Hamid Gul and Khalid Khawaja they are actually laying the foundation to clip the wings of the ISI.

“ISI is the best secret service in a Third World country and rival to the agencies of developed countries. At this stage they just cannot bring ISI under fire directly so in the first phase they are blaming the retired officials and in the next phase they will declare the whole organisation rogue.”

He said the retired officials were being unfairly targetted because they had criticised US policies many years ago

Colonel Imam served ten years exclusively in the ISI and trained the Afghan Mujahadeen to fight against the Soviets.

When the Taliban emerged in 1994, he was Pakistani consul general in the Afghan city of Herat where he supported the Taliban and guided them as they mobilised in the bigger cities of Khost and Jalalabad and eventually captured Kabul. He is known as the “Godfather” of the Taliban.

“During 11 years of Afghan war the United States, Saudi Arabia, Brunei and other states collectively spent 500 billion dollars and defeated Soviet Russia,” he said. “Not a single US soldier was killed.

“So far the Americans have spent 700 billion dollars and they cannot make any difference. We have been trying to make them aware of the fact that this is not the right approach they have for their nation and for their taxpayers,” Colonel Imam said.

Responding to US charges that General Gul provided training to the Taliban and raised funds for them he said:

“As far as support is concerned, I said in front of Americans at a seminar that I do support the Taliban. I pray for their success but neither I nor General Hamid Gul has the money to give to the Taliban.

“We are retired people living hand to mouth. This is an electronic age any transaction can be traced any time. If they have any proof bring it forward,” he said.

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


Tourism: Qatar, USD 275 Million Theme Park Plan Unveiled

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, DECEMBER 5 — Qatar has unveiled plans for a $275 million theme park to be completed by the middle of 2012. The country’s first five-star entertainment destination will be launched within the Qatar Entertainment City (QEC) with the support of the major theme park operator Six Flags Inc,. The theme park project will include dry rides and water rides, roller coasters, canals, high-end shopping malls, spas and food courts. “Developed in an estimated area of 500,000 square feet, the park will emerge as a major tourist destination of the region,” said Yousef Ali Darwish, General Manager, QEC in comments published by Qatar daily The Peninsula. Under the agreement, Six Flags and developer Oryx Holdings will collaborate on the detailed design, development, construction and management of branded locations within the theme park. Assam Shaikh, vice chairman and managing director, Oryx Holdings told the paper: “The partnership will help further establish and push Qatar’s initiatives for family tourism, attracting investments as well as keeping in line with its growing economy.” Qatar Entertainment City is the first project being implemented under the Entertainment City concept. It is being developed by Abu Dhabi Investment House and will cover a total area of one million square metres of development and 180,000 square metres of international leisure, retail and entertainment facilities and restaurants on a waterfront location. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Google Earth Accused of Aiding Terrorists

An Indian Court has been called to ban Google Earth amid suggestions the online satellite imaging was used to help plan the terror attacks that killed more than 170 people in Mumbai last month.

A petition entered at the Bombay High Court alleges that the Google Earth service, “aids terrorists in plotting attacks”. Advocate Amit Karkhanis has urged the court to direct Google to blur images of sensitive areas in the country until the case is decided.

There are indications that the gunmen who stormed Mumbai on November 26, and the people trained them, were technically literate. The group appears to have used complex GPS systems to navigate their way to Mumbai by sea. They communicated by satellite phone, used mobile phones with several different SIM cards, and may have monitored events as the siege unfolded via handheld Blackberry web browsers.

Police in Mumbai have said the terrorists familiarised themselves with the streets of Mumbai’s financial capital using satellite images, according to the sole gunman to be captured alive. The commandos who stormed the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai said the militants had made a beeline for the building’s CCTV control room.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


India: Police Release Names of 10 Terror Suspects

Mumbai, 9 Dec. (AKI) — Indian police on Tuesday released the names and photographs of the 10 terrorists allegedly responsible for the Mumbai attacks. According to details released by Mumbai police, all the attackers were young men who came from various cities throughout Pakistan.

The group’s leader is reported to have been Ismail Khan, from Dera Ismail Khan, a town in the volatile North West Frontier Province region near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Two of the men were from Okara, three others from Multan, and two others were from Faisalabad and another from Sialkot — all located in central Punjab province.

Only one gunmen survived, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman, who remains in custody.

News of the terrorists’ identity came as Pakistani ministers offered Indian officials the chance to interview those detained in Sunday’s raids on militant camps as part of a “joint investigation”.

In custody are two Islamist leaders — Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi, blamed for the attack on Mumbai last month, and the head of Jaish-e-Mohammad, Masood Azhar, accused of masterminding an attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.

New Delhi has rejected previous offers from Pakistan for a “joint investigation”, demanding Islamabad hand over those accused of being responsible for the terror strikes in India.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmoud Qureshi said Islamabad would not hand over any suspects, but try them under the country’s own laws.

More than 170 people were killed in the Mumbai attacks and another 300 were wounded.

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


Indonesia: President Criticised for Endorsing Anti-Porn Law

Jakarta, 9 Dec. (AKI) — Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was strongly criticised Tuesday after signing an anti-pornography law which opponents claim threatens national unity.

The law, backed by Islamic parties in the capital Jakarta, criminalises all works and “bodily movements” considered obscene and provides for heavy penalties.

The law provoked protests across Indonesia with critics saying it could threaten art and traditional culture.

The president signed the law on 26 November but news of his endorsement was released on Tuesday.

“Yudhoyono could have chosen not to sign it because there are still several provinces which strongly oppose the law,” said Eva Sundari of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP).

“The opposing provinces, such as Papua, Bali, Yogyakarta, North Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara, say that the law threatened their culture and national unity.”

The law, approved by the Parliament at the end of October would have come into effect without the president’s signature.

But experts assert that Yudhoyono’s refusal would have led to a review of the law by the Constitutional Court.

Ethnic minorities, Christian and Hindu organisations, human rights groups and artists have already called for the law to be reviewed, claiming it breaches the constitution.

The text of the new law has been strongly influenced by radical Islamist parties. It appears to be based on a vague definition of ‘pornography’ and its critics fear that it could lead to various interpretations and criminalise the practices of cultural and religious minorities throughout the archipelago.

Indonesia is an archipelago with more than 17,000 islands and 240 million people from 45 ethnic groups who practise all of the world’s major religions.

However, more than 85 percent of the country’s inhabitants are Muslim.

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


More Unrest Over Asylum System

Hundreds of asylum seekers went on the rampage near central Athens on Saturday after a migrant was injured falling into the same ditch in Votanikos where a 29-year-old Pakistani man died last month.

It was not clear what led to the unidentified man falling into the canal on Saturday. Police said that he was taken to the hospital for treatment and an investigation had been launched into what led to the incident.

The man’s fall appears to have provoked the outrage of hundreds of migrants waiting to submit their asylum applications at the Aliens Bureau on Petrou Ralli Street.

They began setting fire to garbage cans and branches from trees, which they threw into the street. Some threw stones at passing vehicles. The riot lasted for about one hour. No injuries were reported and the fire service extinguished all the blazes.

The incident is likely to draw even more attention to the government’s asylum policy. Greece approved only 140 of more than 20,000 asylum applications last year, according to the UN refugee agency.

The Aliens Bureau accepts asylum applications only once a week, forcing some 4,000 migrants to queue up outside the office from Friday night to have a chance of being one of the small number that are chosen to hand in their paperwork the next day.

Officials processing asylum claims at the bureau had briefly started processing claims daily, apparently in a bid to appease protesters after the death of the Pakistani asylum seeker last month. It seems that officials switched back to a once-a-week service after the furor subsided.

Civil rights activists claimed that police officers pursued the 29-year-old following a clash outside the bureau, resulting in him falling into the ditch. However, this version of events is at odds with the statement issued by the police.

According to the police statement, the 29-year-old had been with his family and had approached the ditch to relieve himself but slipped and fell.

Kathimerini discovered last week that the chaos outside the bureau has inspired opportunists to sell asylum application forms — photocopies of the original — for 20 euros each.

Some of the asylum seekers waiting in line outside the Athens bureau reportedly applied for asylum on the Aegean island through which they entered Greece, but were subsequently issued with a deportation order.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Pakistan Refuses to Extradite Mumbai Terrorists

Pakistan will not hand India any of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militants arrested on Sunday for their suspected role in the Mumbai terrorist attacks, but will try them under its own laws, the country’s foreign minister said today.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi also said that Pakistan did not want war with India, but was ready to defend itself in case of another conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Sniff Test

Is NASA over the skies of Afghanistan checking for nuclear debris in Central Asia?

[Nah… be sure to read the comments.]

[Return to headlines]


Sri Lanka: Ayuruvedic Cures for Aids Patients

The minister for traditional medicine illustrates for parliament the results of Ayurvedic cures. In addition to people infected with HIV, those sick with cancer, asthma, and kidney problems also see benefits from treatments applied according to a millennia-old tradition that is very widespread in the country.

Colombo (AsiaNews) — Sri Lanka’s indigenous medicine minister, Tissa Karaliyadda, has announced that three people sick with AIDS have had their immune systems restored through Ayurvedic treatment.

The news was released in parliament on December 3, on the occasion of the Committee Stage Debate during which the minister presented various areas of treatment in which Ayurvedic cures are bringing significant results (in the photo, the application of the Shirovasti, a treatment for facial paralysis and headache).

Ayurvedic treatments usually involve two phases: in the first, there is a purification of the body through a series of hygienic and restorative processes using the application of oils, herbs, and massages. The second phase acts on the illness or condition through natural medicines, food supplements, and rules of diet and behavior.

The case of the three people infected with HIV is part of a program launched by the Bandaranaike Memorial Research Institute, used on a total of five people.

Sri Lanka boasts a long tradition in the field of indigenous medicine. Since 1929, a public hospital has been operating on the island in which Ayurvedic treatments are applied, and there are many centers that use treatments inspired by Desheeya Chikitsa, a system of therapies combining the millennia-old traditions of India’s Ayurveda and Sidddha with Unai, which comes from Arab culture.

In addition to the results obtained with patients affected by HIV, the minister told parliament that the traditional treatments also worked on people with kidney problems.

The minister put special emphasis on the increased severity of this problem in dry areas of the country where chemical fertilizers and insecticides have long been used. According to the minister’s analysis, high levels of fluoride in drinking water are aggravating the problem.

Tissa Karaliyadda told parliament that he has distributed 68,000 clay pots among the population in the district of Anuradhapura, for purifying the water. In the meantime, he has asked for a special water supply plant in Padaviya.

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

Far East

China: “Your Complaint Will be Resolved”

AUTHORITIES in eastern China have a new way to deal with residents who complain: checking them into a mental hospital and force-feeding them drugs, it was reported yesterday.

Authorities in Xintai, a municipal region in Shandong province, had forced at least 18 people with grievances, ranging from police brutality to property disputes, into a mental hospital, the Beijing News said.

Chinese residents with complaints directed at local governments often travel to “petitions and appeals” offices (also called “letters and visits” offices) in provincial capitals and in Beijing after they have failed to resolve the problem through lower channels.

Sun Fawu, 57, a retired miner from Dagouqiao village, was force-fed drugs and given injections during more than 20 days at the Xintai mental hospital in October, the paper said.

“My head was always dizzy and I could not stay up,” Mr Sun said. He had asked for compensation over spoiled farmland caused by coal mining.

He was released only after signing a document saying he was mentally ill and “would not petition again”.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Philippines: Troops Clash With Islamist Militants in South

Zamboanga, 8 Dec. (AKI) — Security forces were fighting Islamist militants on two fronts in the southern Philippines on Monday, after 24 soldiers were killed and 16 others were wounded in conflict at the weekend. Soldiers fought battled militants from the separatist Abu Sayyaf where the government forces is trying to defeat the group blamed for a spate of deadly attacks that have left hundreds of people dead in the past 20 years.

Lt. Steffani Cacho, a spokesperson for the Philippines Western Mindanao Command headquarters, said conflict erupted early on Sunday between marines and militants in the town of Talipao in Sulu province.

An hour later, hostilities also broke out in the nearby province of Basilan.

Cacho said five soldiers were killed and 25 others were wounded in fighting in the town of Al-Barka in Basilan, where 14 soldiers had been beheaded early this year.

The injured included an air force pilot whose OV-10 light bomber was hit but a co-pilot managed to land it safely in nearby Zamboanga city, she said.

Fighting also was reported on nearby Jolo island, where an additional 11 troops were wounded, she said.

The Abu Sayyaf is one of several groups of Islamist militants based in the south of the country and is demanding the creation of an autonomous Muslim region.

Believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda, it has carried out a string of high-profile kidnappings and attacks, including the 2004 firebombing of a ferry in Manila Bay that killed more than 100 people.

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


Philippines: ‘No Ceasefire During Christmas’, Says Rebel Leader

Manila, 9 Dec. (AKI) — One of the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Philippines’s largest Islamic rebel organisation, said that his group is not keen on a ceasefire to celebrate Christmas.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said that the MILF is not opposed to the government stopping hostilities in December, but did not forget that Manila refused to call a ceasefire during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

“So if they declare a ceasefire now, Muslims will take it as a sign this government values December more than Ramadan,” Iqbal said in an interview on dzXL radio.

Iqbal however reiterated that the MILF is observing a ceasefire and accused the military of attacking.

“We don’t need to declare a ceasefire. It is the government that needs to declare one because it is doing the attacking,” he said.

Fighting between the MILF and the military intensified since August, after a proposed peace agreement between the two warring parties was halted by the Supreme Court on he ground of unconstitutionality.

Hundreds have been killed since and over 600,000 people were forced to flee their homes. Many remain in squalid evacuation camps, aid agencies and social workers said.

In the last few days, the fighting has been particularly fierce in island of Basilan, Sulu Archipelago, where at least 55 people were killed in two days, the military said. Five soldiers were among the dead.

Marine commandant Major Gen. Ben Dolorfino—himself a Muslim—said that the military are fighting against a combined force that includes terrorists of the Abu Sayyaf Group, lawless elements of the MILF, and small kidnap-for-ransom groups.

“The military has deliberately attacked the MILF under the guise of pursuing the Abu Sayyaf,” said MILF spokesperson Eid Kabalu.

Abu Majid, a MILF junior political officer based in Basilan, claimed also that attacks have been indiscriminate.

“There is no distinction between civilians, Abu Sayyaf, MILF, or those involved in the ceasefire between the Philippine government and the MILF,” Majid told the MILF-affiliated ‘Luwaran.’

Experts have long claimed that the lines between MILF, Moro National Liberation Front—the precursor of the MILF—Abu Sayyaf and lawless groups are very misty in the Sulu Archipelago and that alliances shift fast and are mostly driven by ethnicity and family ties.

The Moros have been fighting since the 1970s for self-rule in claimed Muslim territories.

Moro is the communal term to define the original tribes of Mindanao and Sulu that were islamised in 1380.

Karim ul’ Makhdum, was the first Islamic missionary to reach the Sulu Archipelago and Jolo. He is credited with bringing Islam to what is now the Philippines, Asia’s largest Catholic country.

However, there are an estimated 4.5 million Muslims in the Philippines and the majority live in the south of the country.

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

Australia — Pacific

Discrimination Against White Males Will Soon be Encouraged

DISCRIMINATION against dominant white males will soon be encouraged in a bid to boost the status of women, the disabled and cultural and religious minorities.

Such positive discrimination — treating people differently in order to obtain equality for marginalised groups — is set to be legalised under planned changes to the Equal Opportunity Act foreshadowed last week by state Attorney-General Rob Hulls.

The laws are also expected to protect the rights of people with criminal records to get a job, as long as their past misdeeds are irrelevant to work being sought.

Equal Opportunity Commission CEO Dr Helen Szoke said males had “been the big success story in business and goods and services”.

“Clearly, they will have their position changed because they will be competing in a different way with these people who have been traditionally marginalised,” she said.

“Let’s open it up so everyone can have a fair go.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Immigration

A Third of Finland’s Immigrants Live in Helsinki

Halal meat sells well in increasingly multi-ethnic Itäkeskus

Hodan Ahmed, 21, a sales assistant at the Mango clothing store in Itäkeskus, likes to hang out at the East Helsinki shopping mall on Fridays, which is her day off.

“There are many of us around here”, Ahmed says, referring to people of Somali origin. “I certainly meet friends.”

Previously Ahmed worked at the Mango store in Kamppi, where there weren’t as many immigrants. In Itäkeskus Muslim girls go straight for long dresses.

“They often end up buying coats”, Ahmed says.

Itäkeskus looks what the whole Helsinki region might look like some day.

Already now Helsinki is more multicultural than ever before. At the end of 2007 nearly a third of the people in Finland who speak a foreign language at home lived in Helsinki. The lion’s share of population growth in the metropolitan area stems from immigration.

Finnish is studied as a second language by 13.5 per cent of school pupils in Helsinki’s comprehensive schools.

Debate on immigration has ebbed and flowed since the municipal elections this autumn. Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen joined the debate recently, saying that he is worried about the poor education and employment status of immigrants.

In Itäkeskus immigrants are seen as one group of customers among others…

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Christmas Hijacked With ‘Gay’ Nativity

Manger scene to feature 2 Josephs, 2 Marys at homosexual festival

A “gay” Dutch group has plans to hijack a traditionally Christian holiday by hosting its own “Pink Christmas” festival — complete with church services and a homosexual Nativity featuring two Josephs and two Marys.

Amsterdam’s ProGay will put on a 10-day festival with parties, an open-air market, homosexual movies and ice skating. The group has even scheduled church services for Christmas day, the Associated Press reports.

Frank van Dalen, ProGay chairman, told reporters his group is hosting the event to boost “choices for homosexual men and women” during Christmas week.

“Right now, there’s not much to do,” he said.

The celebration will promote homosexuality and religion, van Dalen said.

However, an organization named Christians for Truth claims the “gay” manger scene “mocks the core concepts of evangelism.”

“By putting Joseph and Mary down as homosexuals, a cracked human fantasy is being tacked on to history from the Bible,” the group said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

And Now for a World Government

I have never believed that there is a secret United Nations plot to take over the US. I have never seen black helicopters hovering in the sky above Montana. But, for the first time in my life, I think the formation of some sort of world government is plausible.

A ‘world government’ would involve much more than co-operation between nations. It would be an entity with state-like characteristics, backed by a body of laws. The European Union has already set up a continental government for 27 countries, which could be a model. The EU has a supreme court, a currency, thousands of pages of law, a large civil service and the ability to deploy military force.

So could the European model go global? There are three reasons for thinking that it might…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Chemicals Are Affecting Reproduction

Evolution is being distorted by pollution, which damages genitals and the ability to father offspring, says new study. Geoffrey Lean reports

The male gender is in danger, with incalculable consequences for both humans and wildlife, startling scientific research from around the world reveals.

The research — to be detailed tomorrow in the most comprehensive report yet published — shows that a host of common chemicals is feminising males of every class of vertebrate animals, from fish to mammals, including people.

Backed by some of the world’s leading scientists, who say that it “waves a red flag” for humanity and shows that evolution itself is being disrupted, the report comes out at a particularly sensitive time for ministers. On Wednesday, Britain will lead opposition to proposed new European controls on pesticides, many of which have been found to have “gender-bending” effects.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Greenhouse Gases Seeping Out of Tundra

Eight to ten million tons of greenhouse gasses are seeping out of the high Arctic annually

Unprecedented levels of methane from Arctic tundra could be contributing to the rapid rise in temperatures

New research shows that greenhouse gases are see out from the frozen tundra of the Arctic every winter at an unprecedented rate. The release may help to explain the greenhouse effect, according to new studies from the Zackenberg research station in north-eastern Greenland

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, which may have an even greater effect on the climate than carbon dioxide. The results may provide another clue to the greenhouse effect and global warming.

It has long been known that increased levels of methane are released into the atmosphere from the melting tundra in the high Arctic regions during the summer. But the new research now shows that the same is happening in the autumn, once the tundra is frozen again.

The groundbreaking research was published yesterday in the scientific journal Nature. The two main authors of the study are Danish professor Torben Røjle Christensen and Russian PhD student Mikhail Mastepanov from Lund (Sweden) University.

The study concludes that eight to ten million tons of methane gas is discharged from the high Arctic regions (Greenland, Alaska, Canada and Siberia) annually, more than double previous estimates.

‘If you walk across a bog in summer, the swamp gas bubbles in the peat. The same occurs in the tundra. When it freezes over, the swamp gas is pressurised and pushed out of the ground when the liquid expands and becomes ice,’ explained Christensen.

‘It is probably happening through the porous plants, which act as funnels for the release of methane gas. But we still have not found a full explanation for what is happening.’

The release of methane gas from tundra during the winter season is not necessarily a result of climate change, according to Christensen.

‘It is probably something completely natural. It is something that has always been there, at least for five thousand years, but the world has never seen before.’

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


Immigration and the Vulnerability of Democracy

Mogens N. J. Camre, Member of the European Parliament

Speech at the Annual Congress of the Latvian party For Fatherland and Freedom in Riga, December 5, 2008

Let me first try to define some important preconditions for democracy.

1. Democracy can only work when the large majority of the people in a given country agree that democracy is the right way to govern the society, and are, therefore, willing to accept the decisions made in the democratic process.

2. The second condition is that no external power or force exercises an influence that is contrary to the democratic decisions — in this part of Europe I need not give examples.

3. The third condition is that people have a certain level of education and understanding so that it can judge about the viability of the decisions. Here we are not speaking about high school education or other more advanced knowledge but about the basic understanding for the effects of the decisions which are made in the democratic process.

However, these more technical conditions are closely linked to the culture of the country that we consider. What is culture? Culture is habits, behaviour, religion, creed, history, language, institutions. All these factors determine the way of life. Unanimity in cultural values is what keeps a people united. Stable countries are countries with a homogenous population while countries with a mixture of different cultures tend to be unstable. I need not mention India, Iraq or Somalia.

How does immigration interfere with democracy? It depends totally upon the characteristics and the numbers of the immigrants. A normal, limited immigration from a culture similar or equal to the existing culture can have a positive effect, provided that the qualifications of the immigrants meet the demands of the country. Immigration from a different culture will normally only be seen as a positive factor if the immigrants are very few or if their qualifications can be seen as a valuable contribution to the existing culture…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


World’s First Virtual World for Muslims is Launched

The first ever Muslim virtual world has launched today, following in the footsteps of popular online communities such as Second Life.

Called Muxlim Pal, it allows users to look after a cartoon avatar or ‘pal’ who can move around the world, which promotes Islamic culture.

Users can buy gift such as tea sets with online currency to give to their friends and pals can also go to prayer rooms and dress in clothing including hijabs.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

4 comments:

spackle said...

Muslim Graves-

Gee Sarko. Maybe this should tell you something?

Super ants

Another blessing of the EU and Globalization. Coming soon to the US? Why not. The bedbug has made a fabulous return.

spackle said...

Bennetton opens in Doha-

Welcome to the 1980s.

Formerly Arch said...

Richard north at Eu referendum has stated that the riots in greece are an inevitable result of the european union. He seems to be on the money with this one. It's more than just "trendy" leftist ideas behind this. The riots after the student shooting may have just been the spark set to a powder keg. The entire country is now in open revolt.

Joanne said...

It is just unbelievable that these young men would gang rape a young girl, and then douse her with caustic soda or whatever to remove forensic evidence. These young men are nothing but animals and should be shot.