Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/20/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/20/2009We don’t have a TV, so I was spared the inauguration. This morning, during a skype conversation, someone started telling me about the events as they were then unfolding in Washington.

My response: “LALALALALALALA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

I’ve got four (or more likely eight or more) years to get used to Obama. So I’m going to take my time.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Gaia, heroyalwhyness, Holger Danske, Insubria, JD, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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USA
A Post-Inaugural Prayer, Courtesy of Islamists
Anti-Israel Professor Claims Access to Obama
CAIR Co-Hosts an Anti-Semitic Rally in Chicago
Contrasting Reagan and Obama
Feds Urge People to Avoid Peanut Butter Products
Geithner Can’t Explain His Failure to Pay Taxes
Iconic Obama Artwork Finds Permanent Home
Maryline Blackburn, Woman Who Beat Sarah Palin for Miss Alaska Title, to Perform at Inaugural Balls
Obama Poised to Give Insurance to Illegals
SCOTUS Message to the American People
Spike Lee: Hand of God Caused Economic Crisis to Get Obama Elected
U.S. Execution Breached International Law: World Court
What Recession? the $170 Million Inauguration
 
Europe and the EU
Doctors Protest as Merano Health Authority Funds New Age Treatments
Fini Calls for Mosque Preaching in Italian
Gaza: Pinotti (PD), Approves Sending Italian Troops
Gaza: Italian Patrols Ready, Waiting for Green Light
Help Ireland or it Will Exit Euro, Economist Warns
Italy: Shop Doormats Fined as Bologna Launches “Delirium Tax”
Italy: Discoverer of New HIV Variant to Lose Job in Three Months
Justice for the Reporter Who Dared Take on Brussels
Obama, Oaths and the End of Constitutional Government
UK: Bank Bail-Out Part Two: a Shot in the Dark
UK: Police Admit They Are Powerless as Violent Immigrant Gaza Protest Continues in London
UK: Warning That UK is on Brink of Depression
 
North Africa
Algeria: GSPC Founder Asks Terrorists to Surrender
Algeria: First Stone of ‘Gaza Mosque’ Laid in Algiers
Morocco: Ambassador’s Visit Begins in Lombardy
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Fatah Calls for Unity Among Palestinian Factions; PLO Exposed Supporting Hamas
Gaza: Fatah Reports Hamas Killed 16 of Our Members
Obama Feels Our ‘Distress’: Israel’s Netanyahu
Two Mortar Rounds Fired From Gaza Into Israel: Army
 
Middle East
Gaza: Erdogan, Let’s Not Leave Hamas Out of the Dialogue
Jordan: International Artists Paint Mural on Gaza in Amman
Turkish PM Threatens New EU Gas Pipeline
 
Russia
Scotland: RBS Ready to Write Off £1bn Loan to Russian Oligarch
 
South Asia
India Disappointed With Pakistan, Prepares for Neutralizing Pakistani Terrorists Within Pakistan
Indonesia: Fire Bombs Thrown at Egyptian Embassy
Malaysia: Muslim Groups Cautious of New US President
Maldives: Drug Stash Hidden in Mosque
Pakistan, Swat Valley: Taliban Blow Up Five Schools, Threaten School Girls
Thailand: Conflict in Muslim South Cost $3 Bln, Says Think-Tank
 
Far East
Anniversary of 1959 Tibet Rebellion to be Celebrated
S.Korea: Tensions Rise on Korean Peninsula
 
Immigration
ISMU: 1 Mln Moroccans in Italy by 2030
Italy:11pct Have Degree,42pct High School Grads
Landing at Lampedusa, 203 Migrants Arrive
 
Culture Wars
Court: Christian Mom’s Child Must Visit Lesbian
Teacher Wants to Expel Huck Finn
 
General
New RFID Technology Allows You to be Tracked Without Your Knowledge
Obama Should Talk to Hamas and Taleban
Photos: Growing Stocks of Unsold Cars Around the World

USA

A Post-Inaugural Prayer, Courtesy of Islamists

by David J. Rusin

In a discouraging signal of the incoming administration’s attitude toward Islamist lobby groups, Barack Obama’s inaugural committee has announced that Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) president Ingrid Mattson will participate in a January 21 prayer service at the National Cathedral. Though the event aims to promote “tolerance, unity, and understanding,” ISNA goes zero for three in these categories. Excellent critiques of Mattson have been offered by Win Myers and Robert Spencer; the following is a primer on the organization she heads.

Founded in 1981 as an offshoot of the Saudi-backed Muslim Students Association, ISNA is the largest Muslim group in the U.S. Furthermore, its subsidiary, the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), holds the deeds to many of the country’s mosques, which gives ISNA a powerful role in shaping the tone of Islam being preached there. Because that tone often reflects the Wahhabi worldview, Islamic scholar Stephen Schwartz describes ISNA as “one of the chief conduits through which the radical Saudi form of Islam passes into the United States.”

The group’s conventions proceed along the same lines. Terrorism expert Steven Emerson has noted that one year after 9/11 — and back when Mattson was the organization’s vice president — “speakers at ISNA’s annual conference still refused to acknowledge bin Laden’s role in the terrorist attacks.” In addition, ISNA once extended an invitation to extremist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who supports suicide bombings and justifies the execution of homosexuals…

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]


Anti-Israel Professor Claims Access to Obama

President-elect long minimized ties to radical Palestinian activist

JERUSALEM — Even as Barack Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States, anti-Israel professor Rashid Khalidi, whose ties to Obama stirred controversy during the campaign, has stated he could currently communicate with the incoming commander in chief, WND has learned.

Amid concern within the pro-Israel Jewish community, Obama repeatedly had denied he was influenced by Khalidi.

In an interview with the radical Democracy Now! news network last week, Khalidi expressed hope Obama would alter U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, talking to “all sides” of the Israeli-Palestinian arena. He also criticized Israel for killing civilians in the Gaza Strip the past few weeks and for leading what he termed a “propaganda campaign” to de-legitimize the Hamas terrorist organization.

Khalidi was asked whether he could speak now to Obama, and within his reply stated, “I could.”

“You knew him? Can you speak to him? Can you talk to him now? Do you have access to President Obama, or President-elect, for the next few days?” Khalidi was asked by interviewer Amy Goodman.

Khalidi replied: “I mean, I was — we were his neighbors. We lived in the same neighborhood. We were colleagues at the University of Chicago. We saw each other quite frequently. I could — I mean, it is not easy to reach a president. The cocoons, the layers, are quite formidable.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


CAIR Co-Hosts an Anti-Semitic Rally in Chicago

Right Side News Reports that there is a significant rise in anti-Israel activities as the inauguration of our new president draws near. All over the globe, Islamist activists are on the move…..and in our own country, we read this from Daniel Pipes.

by Daniel Pipes

The press release is titled “CHICAGOANS TO MARCH AGAINST ISRAELI MASSACRES: Press Conference at Daly Plaza and Rally in front of Israeli Consulate” and begins thus: “The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is co-sponsoring a mass protest along with a coalition of over 30 organizations.”

The CAIR release refers to a demonstration that took place in Chicago on January 9. Called the “Mass Protest Against Israel’s Attacks on Gaza,” its institutional sponsors included, as indicated at ChicagoIndyMedia, the national offices or local affiliates of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Friends Service Committee, Council on American-Islamic Relations, International Solidarity Movement, Muslim American Society, and Muslim Student Association.

And here are some photographs from the event…

A sign bearing the messages “JEWS ARE THE TERRORIST” and “MOSSAD DID 9-11.”

A banner with the logo of Hizbullah, the Lebanese Islamist group on the U.S. government’s terrorism list.

[…]

When queried by the Chicago Tribune about these signs and flags, CAIR’s representative in Chicago, Ahmed Rehab, did acknowledge that the offensive ones should have been confiscated; but this did not happen and neither CAIR nor the other co-sponsors took steps to distance themselves from the street venom…

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


Contrasting Reagan and Obama

Inauguration Day is as much a day of new beginnings as it is a continuation of the old via an orderly transfer of power from one administration to another. That said, it is not the continuation of constitutional erosion and an anticipated ephemeral supplication that lauds the values that Scripture tells us God abhors.

Jan. 20, 1981, in his first inaugural address, Ronald Reagan said, “We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow.” That commitment notwithstanding, he understood that more government intervention would not be the answer. He continued, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem.” This is a truism that President Barack Obama and his fellow liberals would do well to grasp.

Obama views government as the only solution to America’s current problems. However, he overlooks the fact that Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., are complicit in the housing and mortgage market failures because of their refusal and that of their respective congressional committee members to act when they were warned of misdeeds taking place in said markets.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Feds Urge People to Avoid Peanut Butter Products

Salmonella outbreak includes cookies, cakes, ice cream, other items

[Comment from JD: at least 6 dead, 90 hospitalized, 470 sickened, as reported here http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=cp_gl2oqh69a35&show_article =1]

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health authorities on Saturday urged consumers to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods that contain peanut butter until authorities can learn more about a deadly outbreak of salmonella contamination.

Most peanut butter sold in jars at supermarkets appears to be safe, said Stephen Sundlof, head of the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety center.

[…]

So far, more than 470 people have gotten sick in 43 states, and at least 90 had to be hospitalized. At least six deaths are being blamed on the outbreak. Salmonella is a bacteria and the most common source of food poisoning in the U.S., causing diarrhea, cramping and fever.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Geithner Can’t Explain His Failure to Pay Taxes

[Comment from JD: “What do you say to that?”…incredible… How about “Confirmation denied” ? ]

What was he thinking? That is without doubt the question asked most often by nearly everyone looking into Treasury Secretary?designate Timothy Geithner?s failure to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes in 2001, 2002, and 2003. It’s certainly the question that will be asked at Geithner’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday. But it is also the question perhaps least likely to be answered to anyone’s satisfaction, because according to sources close to the confirmation process, Geithner doesn’t have an answer to that most basic question about his behavior.

“His explanation was kind of, ‘I don’t know — it was stupid, obviously it was a mistake, and I don’t know why I did it,’“ recalls a senator who was present during Geithner’s surprise appearance before a members-only meeting of the Senate Finance Committee last week. “What do you say to that?”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Iconic Obama Artwork Finds Permanent Home

Now on display at National Portrait Gallery in Washington

[Comment from JD: When is the postage stamp version coming out? /sarc.]

he iconic image of President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign is now on display permanently at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The original painting, by Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey, was unveiled yesterday — and now hangs in the “New Arrivals” section for the many visitors in the district during inauguration to see.

Fairey’s red, white and blue portrait collage with Obama’s face over the word “hope” was reprinted in mass quantities, donning campaign shirts, posters, hats, buttons and stickers throughout the campaign.

The painting was a gift to the Portrait Gallery of Tony and Heather Podesta..

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Maryline Blackburn, Woman Who Beat Sarah Palin for Miss Alaska Title, to Perform at Inaugural Balls

The woman who edged out the former veep candidate for the title of Miss Alaska 1984 is slotted to perform at not one, but two inaugural balls in Washington, D.C.

Maryline Blackburn, who eventually traded in her tiara for a career as a professional singer, plans to celebrate Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency with gigs at swanky bashes hosted by star musicians Ludacris and Dionne Warwick.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama Poised to Give Insurance to Illegals

President-elect calls SCHIP expansion ‘1 of first measures I sign into law’

Shortly after taking office, President Obama is expected to sign a bill that could give health insurance to illegal aliens and children from middle-class families that make more than $61,000 per year.

Last week, the House voted 289-139 to expand HR 3963, the State Children?s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, a federal program providing coverage to children whose families have higher incomes than those who qualify for Medicaid. The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., renews the program for five years, increases funding from the current $35 billion to $60 billion and expands coverage from million to 11 million uninsured children.

The Senate Finance Committee began reviewing the bill Thursday. If passed by the Senate, the legislation will be ready for Obama to sign after he takes office. Similar legislation sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., passed the Senate 12-7 Thursday. Baucus’ bill would increase SCHIP funding by $31.5 billion.

HR 3963 is expected to receive quick approval from the new president.

Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, told the Associated Press Democrats are seeking to give Obama an early victory on healthcare.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama’s Big Day Generates E-Jihad Buzz

by Khaled Wassef

Khaled Wassef is a CBS News terrorism analyst.

(CBS)Like millions of other people around the world, supporters of global Jihad on the Internet are finding inspiration in Barack Obama’s inauguration, though perhaps not in exactly the same way.

On the Jihadi forums of Hanein, a blogger called “Spot of Light” posted a message Tuesday morning in which he predicted a hypothetical nightmare scenario; “Obama being assassinated, a civil war raging in the United States for decades, and a complete collapse of the American Empire.”

He seemed to have been inspired by the announcement made by the White House on Monday that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates would sit out Barack Obama’s inauguration at an undisclosed location as the “designated successor,” in the event of a catastrophe.

“Al-Safafi” predicted an al Qaeda surprise. In his posting on “Faloja Forums” titled: “Al Qaeda, Sheikh Usama, and the Enemies’ Terrorizing Theory,” Safafi assumed that, in his audio statement released last week, al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden delivered a coded message to his followers, and that this coded message was linked to Obama’s inauguration.

“The Sheikh said ‘God has bestowed us with the patience to continue the path of Jihad for another seven years, and seven and seven.’ Seven plus seven plus seven equal twenty-one. That’s the first day of Obama’s mandate!” Safafi concluded creatively.

“Two more days to go until …….. !!!!!!!!!! Obama’s inauguration as President of the ‘Destroyed’ States of America,” said over-excited blogger “Addawla” on the same forum. “May Allah keep the aim of the Mujahideen focused,” replied another member.

Other seemed decidedly less inspired by the event…

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]


SCOTUS Message to the American People

On Wednesday, January 14, 2009, at the invitation of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Also Known As Obama (hereafter known as AKA) and his sidekick, Joseph Biden, paid a visit to the United States Supreme Court, spending the better part of an hour sequestered in secrecy with eight of the nine United States Supreme Court Justices. Justice Alito was not in attendance.

According to an Associated Press release, written by Mark Sherman,

“When employees glimpsed Obama on his way out, a loud cheer went up in a building that exudes decorum.”

Can one surmise the Supreme Court ecstatic over the illegitimate ascendancy of AKA to the presidency of the United States, thus driving a stake through the heart of the United States Constitution?

Very few sources in the mainstream media picked up this story. It certainly wasn’t the lead story on any of the national news broadcasts at a time when AKA’s every move is the subject of a news story by the gushing mainstream media who just can’t seem to do enough for this self-proclaimed “messiah” of Marxist ideology. In fact, the only news sources printing this story were out of the way regional news outlets. Were it not for the internet, and resourceful citizens, it is doubtful the American public would have become aware. Could it be that mainstream media is very much aware of the eligibility problem of Marxist AKA, know for a fact he isn’t eligible, and suppressed this story as they have suppressed so many stories they deem not in the best interests of their anti-American agenda?

[…]

The circumstances surrounding AKA are just as “unusual”, considering the question of eligibility because of his refusal to produce the one document that would prove (or disprove) his eligibility to the office of president — his long form vault copy Hawaii birth certificate — a document that can be obtained for a mere $12.50.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Spike Lee: Hand of God Caused Economic Crisis to Get Obama Elected

File this one under the “I can’t believe he just said that on television.”

Controversial filmmaker Spike Lee revealed he thought the economic difficulties that are presently plaguing the country were ordained by God to help get Barack Obama elected president. Lee appeared on MSNBC’s Jan. 10 “Morning Joe” and, in an interview with co-host Joe Scarborough, he made the revelation.

“I;ve always believed, and it seems naive, that God’s had a hand in America,” Scarborough said. “And I get a real sense you feel that God has had a real hand in this.”

“So many things have happened — all of a sudden, the economy goes south at that moment, and then McCain,” Lee replied. “There were so many things. It was almost a movement that had to be ordained, I think.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Starbucks Offers Free Coffee to Those Who Join Obama Volunteer Corps

Starbucks Coffee wants U.S. consumers to jump on president-elect Barack Obama’s volunteer bandwagon and pledge to join one of his community service corps.

Obama and incoming first lady Michelle Obama want Americans to do community service the week of his inauguration Jan. 20. and commit this year to one of his so-called national service corps that will do volunteer work in schools and related to the environment.

Starbucks said it will offer free “tall” coffee beginning Wednesday through Sunday for customers who fill out community service pledge cards at the coffee chain’s locations.

Starbucks wants customers to commit to five hours this year for community service and volunteer programs.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


U.S. Execution Breached International Law: World Court

[Comment from JD: Prediction — Obama will promote policies that will make US subservient to international bodies such as the World Court.]

THE HAGUE (Reuters) — The execution of a Mexican national in Texas last year breached U.S. obligations under international law, the World Court held on Monday.

The court said its 2004 judgment, in which it ordered the United States to review the death sentences of a number of Mexican nationals, remained binding.

“The United States continues to be under an obligation to fully implement it,” said the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court.

The proceedings go back to 2003, when Mexico brought a case against the United States, arguing that 51 of its citizens sentenced to die in U.S. jails had not been informed of their right to consular assistance.

This right typically means diplomats can visit and give legal advice to their nationals in detention.

Texas executed one of the Mexicans covered by the original ICJ judgment, 33-year-old Jose Medellin, by lethal injection on August 5. He had been convicted of the 1993 rape and murder of 16-year-old Elizabeth Pena in Houston.

U.S. President George W. Bush had ordered Texas to review Medellin’s case but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Bush had no authority to do so.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


What Recession? the $170 Million Inauguration

Obama’s Inauguration Has Been Financed Partially by Bailed-Out Wall Street Executives

The country is in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, which isn’t stopping rich donors and the government from spending $170 million, or more, on the inauguration of Barack Obama .

The actual swearing-in ceremony will cost $1.24 million, according to Carole Florman, spokeswoman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

It’s the security, parties and countless Porta-a-Potty rentals that really run up the bill.

The federal government estimates that it will spend roughly $49 million on the inaugural weekend. Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland have requested another $75 million from the federal government to help pay for their share of police, fire and medical services.

And then there is the party bill.

“We have a budget of roughly $45 million, maybe a little bit more,” said Linda Douglass, spokeswoman for the inaugural committee.

That’s more than the $42.3 million in private funds spent by President Bush’s committee in 2005 or the $33 million spent for Bill Clinton’s first inaugural in 1993.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Will Obama’s Administration Legitimize Islamic Supremacism?

by Jeffrey Imm

In March 2008, I challenged Sen. Barack Obama to expand on his August 2007 comments that terrorists “seek to create a repressive caliphate… To defeat this enemy, we must understand who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for.” In his August 2007 speech, Sen. Obama stated that terrorists “distort Islam.”

But Barack Obama never recognized that such an Islamic supremacist caliphate is a central goal of the Islamic supremacist ideology itself. \Moreover, instead of demonstrating an understanding of the enemy and condemning those who support such an Islamic supremacist caliphate, thus far Barack Obama has continued to send signals to legitimize Islamic supremacist supporters.

During his campaign, it was learned that Barack Obama’s church had promoted the Islamic supremacist Hamas organization in a church bulletin. During his campaign, Barack Obama had designated WINEP’s Dennis Ross as his Mideast advisor; this same Dennis Ross was named as part of a U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project group that issued a report in September 2008 calling for engagement with the Islamic supremacist Muslim Brotherhood whose organization makes establish an Islamic supremacist caliphate part of their goals. The Muslim Brotherhood specifically calls for “Building the Khilafa” and “Mastering the world with Islam.” This is the same Islamic supremacist “repressive caliphate” that Barack Obama claimed he was against in August 2007, and this is the same Muslim Brotherhood that has sought to undermine the United States from within.

Now, at Barack Obama’s inaugural festivities, Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), will be offering a prayer at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning, attended by the new president and vice-president. This is the same ISNA organization that was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial (page 8, item VII.3), and that has been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas during that trial. This is the same ISNA whose national conventions have included Islamic supremacists as featured speakers with a history of supporting such an Islamic supremacist caliphate, such as Siraj Wahhaj.

This is the same ISNA, whose featured speakers have included:

— Abdallah Idris Ali — has been on the board of the American Muslim Council, an organization whose leaders have openly supported terrorist groups, such as Hamas

— Ihsan Bagby: “we [Muslims] can never be full citizens of this country… because there is no way we can be fully committed to the institutions and ideologies of this country.”

— Zaid Shakir: “Every Muslim who is honest would say, I would like to see America become a Muslim country”

— CAIR’s Nihad Awad — historical supporter of Hamas terrorist group: “I am in support of the Hamas movement”

This is the same ISNA that has hosted the Islamic supremacist Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a group that calls such a global caliphate, at such ISNA annual conventions.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Doctors Protest as Merano Health Authority Funds New Age Treatments

One million euros budgeted for cancer patients. Medical association says effectiveness not proved.

MILAN — Merano hospital is following in the footsteps of the M.D. Anderson Center in Houston, America’s most prestigious cancer institute. Over the next few months, the Alto Adige healthcare facility will be launching a complementary medicine outpatient service for cancer sufferers.

But there have already been objections. Doctors at the hospital and the provincial medical association have criticised the decision, which ring-fences one million euros of public money, because there is no scientific proof that the treatments are effective. “We’ll be seeking maximum transparency”, says Michele Comberlato, chair of the medical association. What some people call New Age therapies are actually a variety of complementary treatments, ranging from acupuncture to traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, phytotherapy, manual medicine and osteopathy. These techniques do not replace standard cancer therapies but are intended to be used in parallel, with the aim of improving the patient’s quality of life.

“It’s a pilot project just approved by the provincial council”, explains Pierpaolo Bertoli, the assistant medical director of Merano hospital. “If it produces results, it will be extended to other hospitals in the province”. About 80% of cancer patients in Alto Adige already use complementary medicines. “Patients will pay 70% of the cost and the price will be controlled”, continues Mr Bertoli. “The service will be part-financed by this income”. The councillor with responsibility for health, Richard Theiner, adds: “Complementary medicine is not one of the free services provided by the national system”. If the experiment yields positive results over two years, the service will also be made available to patients with other conditions like sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Four doctors, four nurses, one physiotherapist and one psychologist will be involved. “They already have experience in the sector”, notes Mr Bertoli, “and have followed special courses, mainly abroad in Germany and Austria”. Elsewhere in Italy, Tuscany is the only other region that has managed to integrate acupuncture, phytotherapy and homeopathy. Lombardy used to offer a similar service but it was withdrawn, except at the Sacco hospital in Milan. “Complementarity is the future”, says Antonietta Paola Sparaco, the Sacco’s coordinator of regional complementary medicine projects. In fact, it even means a lower financial commitment for the national health service. In the case of acupuncture, the only cost is the needles”. As yet, the Sacco has no special surgeries for acupuncture, homeopathy or Ayurvedic medicine. The staff who provide these services do so in their own units. “No one wants to replace chemotherapy with homeopathy”, Ms Sparaco goes on, “but homeopathy can do a lot to reduce the side effects, such as nausea”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Fini Calls for Mosque Preaching in Italian

Leader of Chamber of Deputies claims move will avoid risk of instigation to hatred or violence

ROME — Preaching in mosques in Italy should be carried out in Italian to avoid any risk of instigation to hatred or violence, warned Gianfranco Fini. The leader of the Chamber of Deputies, speaking in the course of an official visit to the United Arab Emirates, said: “The crown prince, Mohammed Bin Zayed, is firmly convinced that in Italy, as elsewhere, preaching of the Koran should be carried out in the language of the host country. This is necessary so that, as is the case in the Emirates, there should be no preaching or instigation of violence on an occasion that should be exclusively religious”.

SUPERFICIALITY — According to Mr Fini, this is “a serious issue that should be borne in mind, especially in Italy, in consideration of the superficiality with which such complex topics are approached in our country”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Gaza: Pinotti (PD), Approves Sending Italian Troops

(AGI) — Rome, 19 Jan. — “I agree with Berlusconi’s proposal of sending an Italian contingent to Rafah to guard the pass”. This was said by Roberta Pinotti, in the shadow-government of the Pd (Democratic Party) as Defence Minister. For Pinotti though, “the so-called caveat has to do with clearly defining the rules of engagement for the soldiers. I believe that the rule should be allowing the passage of goods and people, and obviously not weapons, whose circulation should be stopped”. Roberta Pinotti continued the interview speaking on a phone conversation between her and Defence Minister La Russa. “The minister is in agreement with me and the agreement between the Pd and the Pdl (People’s Freedom Party) on this topic is an important element”, added Pinotti, who then concluded: “I think that La Russa was taken of guard by Berlusconi, I understood from his words that he was not informed by the president of the council, and only spoke with him today”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Gaza: Italian Patrols Ready, Waiting for Green Light

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 19 — Two Italian navy ships are ready to go and help in the effort to block the traffic of weapons via sea around the Gaza Strip: the naval command is just awaiting the go ahead from the international peace contingent in which the navy is operating. The ships in question should be to patrollers of the ‘Cigala Fulgosi’ class, just like the one that is currently lying off the coast of Lebanon as part of the Unifil force, or two open-sea patrollers of the ‘Soldati’ class: at the moment, according to military sources, the idea that one or two ‘Esploratore’ class patrol boats may take part in the naval contingent based at Sharm el Sheik to check on the following of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel signed at Camp David 1979. It is, emphasise sources, part of a different mission from which ships and equipment are not foreseen to be removed. Everything is ready for an eventual green light: what is being waited for, apart from the formal authorisation of the government and the parliament, is a UN resolution which will make the mission a ‘go’, also defining the mission’s mandate, the chain of command and the rules of engagement. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Help Ireland or it Will Exit Euro, Economist Warns

A leading Irish economist has called on Dublin to threaten withdrawal from the euro unless Europe’s big powers do more to rescue Ireland’s economy.

“This is war: countries have to defend themselves,” said David McWilliams, a former official at the Irish central bank.

“It is essential that we go to Europe and say we have a serious problem. We say, either we default or we pull out of Europe,” he told RTE radio.

“If Ireland continues hurtling down this road, which is close to default, the whole of Europe will be badly affected. The credibility of the euro will be badly affected. Then Spain might default, Italy and Greece,” he said.

Mr McWilliams, a former UBS director and now prominent broadcaster, has broken the ultimate taboo by evoking threats to precipitate an EMU crisis, which would risk a chain reaction across the eurozone’s southern belt, where yield spreads on state bonds are already flashing warning signals. The comments reflect growing bitterness in Dublin over the way the country has been treated after voting against the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.

[…]

Mr McWilliams said EMU was preventing Irish recovery. “The only way we can win this war is by becoming, once again, an export country. We can do what we are doing now, which is to reduce our wages, throw more people on the dole and suffer a long contraction. The other model is what the British are doing. Britain is letting sterling fall so that the problem becomes someone else’s. But we, of course, have ruled this out by our euro membership.

“We are paying twice for the euro: once on the exchange rate and once more on the interest rate,” he said.

“By keeping with the current policy, the state is ensuring that Ireland turns itself into a large debt-repayment machine. Is this the sort of strategy to win wars? “ he said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Italy: Shop Doormats Fined as Bologna Launches “Delirium Tax”

Campaign to remove “advertising” credit card signs from windows

BOLOGNA — Signor Arrigo Veronesi is a jeweller by profession and his shop window faces onto fashionable Piazza Maggiore. Now, just as soon as his blood pressure has returned to normal, he will be able to tell his grandchildren that he once managed, improbably, to get fined for putting a doormat with his initials on it outside his shop door. Anyone can see the mat, making it, theoretically at least, a form of advertising and therefore subject to tax. Signor Veronesi failed to pay the levy as it never entered his head that his doormat was equivalent to a TV commercial. Mayor Sergio Cofferati’s council takes a different view. Now, through the Gestor tax collection agency, it is going over the entire city with a fiscal fine-tooth comb in an enthusiastic hunt for unpaid taxes. Signor Veronesi is in good company. Over the past few weeks, a further 2,300 traders in Bologna have also received fines of several hundred euros for the same reason: failure to pay the local tax for shop window advertising.

The tax, backdated and covering the period 2005-2008, is imposed by legislative decree number 507 dated 15 November 1993, implemented and amended by a council by-law. Significantly, it is a very lucrative source of income for the council. The 2,300 fines issued so far will rake in more than 1,000,000 euros, which nowadays is not to be sniffed at, particularly with local elections looming. Ironic Bologna taxpayers have nicknamed it the “delirium tax” because it strikes apparently at random, with no perceivable logic. Example number one: a travel agency was fined 1,271 and 611 euros because the tour operator’s name featured on a sign showing holidays packages on offer. Example number two: a restaurant was fined 52 euros for putting credit card stickers in the window. Example number three: a bar received a stinging 3,000 euro fine for displaying panels with the names of ice cream makers.

Predictably, protests have been vociferous. Retailers and small businesses are incensed. With the support of their professional associations, they first froze payment of the fines and then tried to find out what was going on. The ASCOM, Confescercenti and CNA associations note: “The silly thing is that these fines are arriving two or three years after the event. There was no campaign to warn people. We also suspect points may have been stretched in the interpretation of the law”. People of Freedom parliamentarian Fabio Garagnani was quick to present a question in the Chamber of Deputies accusing the Cofferati council of “cashing in”, and the law of failing to distinguish advertising from information. The council has realised that something is not right and is taking a soft line. A budget office spokesperson said: “In some cases, there may have been interpretation issues. We are willing to revoke fines issued incorrectly”. An extraordinary council meeting on 30 December voted to set up a working party to look into the issue but agreement is still a long way off. Small businesses are preparing to unleash a tidal wave of appeals against Gestor and demand that backdating should be scrapped. But the council campaign continues and another 2,000 fines are set to be issued before the end of the month.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Discoverer of New HIV Variant to Lose Job in Three Months

Barbara Foglieni, 32, earns 1,000 euros a month.

MILANO — In the year when the Nobel Prize went to France’s Luc Montagnier, the man who discovered the AIDS virus, an Italian molecular biologist has identified a dangerous variant: HIV-1. It’s a potential threat because it is not picked up by some of the tests most frequently used to identify the infection, including screening tests for donor blood. In the United States, the discovery was giving appropriate visibility at the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Blood Banks. AIDS is still a major issue in the world and the Lecco variant, as HIV-1, which it comes from the recombination of two distinct strains of the virus, has been dubbed has again focused attention on the safety of blood transfusions.

What puzzles Americans, and also Ms Foglieni’s British colleagues at Cambridge, where the Lecco-based biologist spent a week sequencing “her” variant courtesy of EU funding, is why the discoverer should be earning just 1,000 euros a month (1,200 with overtime) and why she will be unemployed at the end of March. The Italian paradox strikes again. Barbara Foglieni, 32, discoverer of a new variant of the AIDS virus, is actually on a short-term contract. In three months’ time, she’ll be out of a job when her contract at Lecco’s Manzoni hospital runs out at the end of March. “I hope they extend it”, she says. Ms Foglieni works in the molecular biology laboratory at the Manzoni’s department of transfusion medicine and haematology (DMTE), directed by Daniele Prati, where she has three months’ guaranteed work left. After that, she might join the brain drain.

In fact, she has already been approached by research centres from all over the world. For the same wage as a carer, she spends ten hours a day in the lab, driven by a passion for research and study that was kindled at secondary school. “I read a book by the Noble chemistry laureate Kary Mullis, whose discovery revolutionised genetics”, she recalls. She has worked in America at the pediatric clinic in Philadelphia and at Milan’s San Raffaele hospital. Then in 2007, she came back to Lecco. Why? “For two reasons”, she replies. “First because my family lives here and the head of department Daniele Prati persuaded me to move with him from Milan to Lecco”. But she also came because she believes it’s possible, in a provincial hospital, “to carry out excellent research. You just need a lot of determination”. And Barbara Foglieni has determination in spades. Among other things, she had to get two degrees to be able to work in a public hospital. That’s another story of Italian red tape.

In fact, it’s a story within the story. “My first degree in 2000 in biotechnology at Milan’s State University did not entitle me to register on the roll of biologists. They made me take a second degree, the kind they call ‘specialist’, at Naples. That involved three examinations and another thesis, last September, again in biotechnology. The same syllabus and the same subjects, but now I can work in the public sector”. Having hacked her way through the red tape, Barbara discovered the Lecco variant of the AIDS virus two months ago, working with Daniele Prati’s team. In the United Kingdom or the United States, she would already have personal funding to continue her studies but not in Italy. The star researcher can now look forward to the dole queue.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Justice for the Reporter Who Dared Take on Brussels

The EU’s ham-fisted attempts to supress stories about corruption have been exposed after a court case in Belgium

A blow was struck for freedom this week. Hans-Martin Tillack, a German journalist who had been detained by the EU after investigating Brussels fraud, was definitively cleared by the courts. The Belgian government, whose police had raided Tillack’s flat, was ordered to pay damages and costs.

Tillack was, for several years, the EU correspondent of the respected German magazine, Stern. Before he arrived, the press corps in Brussels had largely been made up of true believers. Copy was routinely submitted to Commission officials for approval; negative stories were suppressed; any criticism of the EU, even on narrow grounds of financial probity, was dismissed as populist.

Tillack thought of himself as a pro-European, but could see that such deference was doing the EU no favours. In the absence of critical scrutiny, the Brussels bureaucracy had become self-serving, bloated and sleazy. So he began to expose some of the more egregious corruption cases, such as how officials had diverted millions of euros from a body called Eurostat into private accounts.

The Euro-elites were furious. They expected such “anti-Europeanism” from British red-tops, but not from goody-goody Germans. When Tillack widened his investigation, and started to ask why the EU had failed to act on tip-offs, they pounced. Belgian police raided his flat and seized his laptop, files and address books. He was held for 10 hours without a lawyer, while his notebooks were confiscated, placing all his sources at risk. Even his private bank statements were ransacked.

Unbelievably, the raid was ordered by Olaf, the EU’s anti-corruption unit. Needless to say, no such treatment has been meted out to the alleged fraudsters. In the looking-glass world of Brussels, it is those exposing sleaze, rather than those engaging in it, who find themselves in police custody. Tillack was implausibly accused of having procured some of his papers by bribery. No formal charges were brought. Yet it has taken him fully five years to be finally vindicated.

Yet here was the EU intimidating its critics with all the crudeness of a tin-pot dictatorship. A message was being semaphored to the Brussels press corps: stick to copying out the Commission’s press releases and you’ll be looked after; make a nuisance of yourself and you’ll regret it. As the EU correspondent of a British newspaper told me mopily at the time: “If they can do this to a German Europhile and get away with it, people like me might as well pack up and go home.”

On Tuesday, the Belgian state was ordered to pay Tillack €10,000 in compensation and €30,000 costs. At least the poor fellow will get his hands on the moolah while there still is a Belgian state to pay him.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Obama, Oaths and the End of Constitutional Government

Now steps onto the stage of world history a man apparently quite conscious that the Supreme Law of the United States prevents him from being president of the United States.

For why else would anyone hire lawyers and expend millions of dollars to avoid producing a $12.50 birth certificate to show eligibility under the Constitution? ‘Midst the rhythmic chants of a delirious, sycophantic media, inaugural splendor will substitute for simple proof that the United States of America will have a constitutionally legitimate president.

If Obama is not eligible, legally, the United States of America will have no president. A usurper will wield such power as few men have ever held, having no constitutional warrant. However beloved of the media or adored by racialist groupies, and irrespective of public support, Obama will be a tyrant, in the original sense of the word (from the Greek tyrannos meaning one who wields power to which he has no lawful claim). As he sends young soldiers to die, even the appearance of his usurpation of presidential powers will insult their sacrifice and thwart the Constitution they give their all to preserve. Even as he utters the oath — hand on Lincoln’s Bible — he will betray it, not upholding, protecting and defending the Constitution, but subverting it.

[…]

Hamilton made clear binding principles of American law and government then universally understood and both explicit and implicit in our Constitutions:

  • the duty of judges to faithfully defend the original intent of the fundamental law of the United States is never discretionary, but always obligatory;
  • It is a duty to interpret, not to generate law;
  • jurisprudence is original intent jurisprudence or else it is not jurisprudence at all;
  • The Constitution is fundamental, which in plain English means simply that when not honestly interpreted and enforced the foundation of government is removed.

Some shout that “an election” cannot be overturned, Constitution or no constitution. This is irrational and is the road to tyranny.

A simple majority vote for any particular president can never trump the ground rules established by the people as a whole: the duly ratified Constitution which is the Supreme Law of the United States. Therein are found the rules by which a simply plurality of voters may legally impose on an unwilling remainder of the population a president by whom the remainder do not wish to be governed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Bank Bail-Out Part Two: a Shot in the Dark

Never has déja vu come at such eyewatering expense. Little over three months ago, ministers, officials, regulators and bankers convened to hammer out an astonishing rescue package for the financial system that was supposed to put the banks back on the straight and narrow.

The plan, drawn up in just a few days, involved staking nearly £500 billion of taxpayers’ money on a scheme to restore confidence in Britain’s major lenders. Some of the money was exchanged for shares in the banks, while billions more was put at risk to guarantee their loans.

Was that rash? John Redwood thinks so. The former Conservative cabinet minister has been one of the most persistent and penetrating critics of that first bank rescue package, forensically unpicking the Government’s plans on his blog regularly since then. His suggestion is that the Government rushed into a bail out package without realising just how bad, or how large, some of the banks’ bad debts really were.

“All the current fuss has come about because they now realise they need to put in much larger figures for possible losses on their loans and their financial instruments,” Mr Redwood wrote on Sunday. “This just makes it crazier that the government rushed in to buy shares in them when they did without demanding a proper analysis of the loans and financial instruments then.”

[…]

Then there is also the suspicion that the banks are not in fact willing to come clean about the extent of their bad debts; the explosive devices that may be ticking away in the depths of their loan books. Government figures involved in the discussions with the banks about their toxic holdings have felt growing anger, both at the “irresponsible” lending that led to the current situation, and at the bankers’ reluctance to confess all.

[…]

Desperate times call for desperate measures. The most telling sign of how desperate the times are is that no-one, not even the most optimistic of Government champions, is willing to predict that even this latest huge gamble with public money will be the last such risk taxpayers are asked to bear. The danger is that in a few months, ministers, officials and bankers will once again be drawn together for yet another round of crisis talks. If that happens, at the top of the agenda will be the full nationalisation of the British banking system.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Hundreds of Billions of Taxpayer Money to Bail Out the Banks Again

The taxpayer will be asked to gamble hundreds of billions of pounds today in a second bank bailout.

The Government will offer a massive package to guarantee lending and insure banks’ bad debts.

Barclays may have to accept government stakes to take part in the £200 billion scheme under which the taxpayer could foot a potentially unlimited bill for bad debts such as sub-prime lending in America.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Parents Offered Electronic Tags for Children in Shopping Centre

Parents are being offered electronic tags to keep an eye on their children in a busy shopping centre.

The devices, attached to a child’s wrist, set off an alarm if they stray near any of the exits.

The tags will be offered to parents shopping at the giant £1.6bn Westfield centre which opened in west London in October.

It is thought to the first shopping centre in the world to offer customers the technology, which also alerts parents if their child goes within 10 yards of any exit.

A spokeswoman denied the scheme was being introduced because children were getting lost in the giant centre, which is the size of 30 football pitches and has 265 shops. “It gives parents added comfort to get on with the enjoyment of shopping,” she said. “The system is aimed at younger toddlers who are less able to communicate effectively with staff.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Police Admit They Are Powerless as Violent Immigrant Gaza Protest Continues in London

British police have admitted that they are “powerless to stop protesters attacking businesses” in central London after Third World immigrant anti-Israel demonstrators smashed up two more Starbucks in renewed protests over the situation in the Middle East.

The cafés, in Piccadilly and Shaftesbury Avenue, were looted and their windows smashed on Saturday. It followed a Stop the War Coalition protest in Trafalgar Square attended by 3,500 people.

Previously, BNP News warned that Third World immigration had turned London into a Middle East battleground. This warning has proven to be correct again and again as renewed street protests have continued to disrupt the capital.

Businesses fearing more protests have demanded greater protection but Scotland Yard said it could not stop thugs “hell-bent” on causing damage.

Last Saturday, up to 200 people were contained by police in Piccadilly and a further 40 an hour later in Hyde Park. Many wore scarves over their faces.

John Ruston, 24, manager of a shop next to Piccadilly Starbucks, said: “They came running in small break-away groups and threw a bin and a Starbucks sign at the windows.” Rioters then ran up Shaftesbury Avenue smashing in another branch.

Last weekend rioters wrecked a Starbucks in Kensington and Whitechapel. A demonstration in London against Israeli attacks on Gaza ended in violence after protesters looted and damaged shops, police said.

The violence followed demonstrations by thousands of protesters, who waved banners demanding an end to the attacks on Gaza and chanted, “Free Palestine.”

The Met said 3,500 gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London, while organisers of a rally in Birmingham said more than 5,000 people turned up.. An Israeli flag was set alight at the rally outside Birmingham’s Council House in Victoria Square.

Abdulah Abdulah, 25, a clerk from Birmingham said: “The whole world knows this is something serious and the reason that people are angry is that they are getting more frustrated because nothing is being done.”

Another rally is planned for the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration outside the US Embassy in central London.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


UK: Warning That UK is on Brink of Depression

BRITAIN is facing an economic depression, one of Scotland’s most prominent businessmen has warned, as the government prepares to announce its last-ditch attempt to shore up confidence in the banking industry.

Sir George Mathewson, a former chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland and chairman of the Scottish Government’s economic advisory council, said that economic conditions would worsen.

He also attacked Gordon Brown and Labour for their key policy moves during the crisis: the VAT cut, recapitalisation of the banks and the £20 billion guarantees of loans to small business.

In his bleak assessment, Sir George said: “Right now it’s depression we should be really worried about because that causes real, personal suffering for a lot of people.”

Asked if this was a real risk, he said: “Oh yeah, of course it is.”

He also warned that injecting more capital into banks would not revive the economy.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: GSPC Founder Asks Terrorists to Surrender

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JANUARY 19 — The founder of the Algerian Salafite Group for Preaching and Combat (Gspc), (today, Al Qaida for the Islamic Maghreb), Hassan Hattab, made another appeal to combatants of armed Islamic groups asking them to lay down their arms. “What law and morals authorise these acts? Is this true jihad allowed for by God?. This was read from a letter entitled ‘Repentance’, sent to the Algerian press by the ex emir. “I regret and condemn these acts”, wrote Hattab, the emir who led the Gspc until 2003, asking his brothers to surrender. “The blood of Muslims is precious and its spilling is very dangerous”, continued the four page letter, in a moment marked by “Zionist fury against Muslims and Arabs”. “Return to society and your families, society is ready to welcome you and cure your wounds”. In September of 2007, Algerian authorities announced Hattab’s surrender but since then, the ex-emir never appeared in public and never was present in court in the various trials against him. After having taken part in the Armed Islamic Group (Gia) in June of 1998, Hattab founded, he says under the advisement of Osama Bin Laden, the Gspc, to ‘clean’ image of the Gia which was perceived as too bloody. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Algeria: First Stone of ‘Gaza Mosque’ Laid in Algiers

(ANSAmed)- ALGIERS, JANUARY 19 — Solidarity initiatives for the Palestinian people are continuing in Algeria, where a new mosque which is still being built has been called ‘The Gaza Mosque’. During a ceremony organised in the main square of the new building, the Minister for Religious affairs, Bouabdallah Ghlamallah, laid the first stone of the mosque, which will have a ground surface of 800 metres and a prayer room for up to 950 worshippers. The Ministry for Religion made 82 million dinars (almost 870,000 euro) available for the construction of the ‘Gaza mosque’, which will replace the ancient ‘Al Forqane’ mosque, too small to contain worshippers in the area. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Morocco: Ambassador’s Visit Begins in Lombardy

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, JANUARY 16 — The new Moroccan ambassador to Italy, Mohammed Nabil Benabdallah, has chosen Lombardy as the area in which to begin his tour of institutional visits in Italy. Today, in fact, the ambassador was received at the Pirelli Tower by governor Roberto Formigoni, along with a delegation composed of Morocco’s vice-minister for craft, Anis Birou, and the general consul of Morocco in Milan, El Kadiri Boutchich. Also present was the delegate for international relations from the office of the president of the Lombardy regional authority, Robi Ronza. The meeting was used as an occasion to strengthen relations between Lombardy and Morocco and to confirm the desire to develop a relationship that goes beyond economic concerns. “The delegation has shown great interest in further improving friendship and political relations and economic cooperation”, said Formigoni, “and this is shown by their choice of Lombardy as the first region to visit”. The president of the region, who has been invited to Morocco as part of a delegation which will visit in April, added “Morocco is growing significantly and we already have a positive import-export trade, which is growing significantly year after year”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Fatah Calls for Unity Among Palestinian Factions; PLO Exposed Supporting Hamas

It seems that Fatah, the arch faction within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is openly supporting Hamas. Among which, arch terror chief Mahmoud Abbas has called upon Palestinian factions to unite behind the Egyptian plan which would reorganize both the PLO and Hamas into a coaltion.

This coalition is quite similar how the ZANU-PF were formed, where the two terrorist groups took control of Rhodesia. Seems like Fatah terrorists are hoping to use that strategy on Israel:

Fatah calls for unity, to expose Israeli aggression

Bethlehem — Ma’an — The Executive Committee of the Fatah movement called on every faction in the Gaza Strip to “expose” Israel’s true intentions there, according to a statement on Sunday.

Fatah urged all Palestinian resistance factions to make clear their commitment to the Egyptian initiative for ending the aggression in Gaza, as well as an immediate Israeli withdrawal and lifting of the siege.

Israel is betting on future Palestinian disunity, Fatah said, urging Palestinians to prove them wrong by uniting behind the Egyptian plan.

The committee called on all “Arab brothers” to work honestly to end the internal division, “which only benefits the Israeli occupation.”

Fatah also urged faction from outside of the Palestine Liberation Organization, such as Hamas, to rejoin the Palestinian Authority, “which has internationally recognized international legitimacy.”

Fatah also accused Israel of war crimes in its war on Gaza, insisting that its political and military leaders should be tried and convicted in international courts for the use of internationally prohibited weapons.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Gaza: PNA’s Fayyad Calls for National Reconciliation Gov

(ANSAmed) — RAMALLAH, JANUARY 19 — The premier of the Palestinian National Authority, Salam Fayyad, said Sunday it was necessary to set up a “national reconciliation” government quickly, daily al-Hayat al-Jadida quoted him as saying today. Fayyad said such a government should include 25 members seen favourably by both al-Fatah and Hamas in order to restore political unity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Reconstruction in the Gaza Strip, Fayyad pointed out, was now the top priority. Efforts at setting up an international relief network in the Gaza Strip are already underway. The PNA, Fayyad said, should play a prominent role in this field. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Gaza: Fatah Reports Hamas Killed 16 of Our Members

(ANSAmed) — RAMALLAH, JANUARY 19 — 16 al-Fatah activists were killed by Hamas fighters and another 80 were shot in the knees during the Cast Lead operation, reported a al-Fatah spokesman today in the West Bank, Fahmy a-Zarir. “Now Hamas must uphold a cease-fire for our supporters” added a-Zarir according to the Palestinian agency MAAN. A-Zarir added that during the fighting in Gaza, hundreds of al-Fatah supports were forced to live under “house arrest” imposed by Hamas. A-Zarir asked Hamas to immediately stop pressure on al-Fatah supporters in Gaza, in the hope of obtaining a day to “let wounds heal”. Yesterday, a Hamas leader, Sallah al-Bardawil, accused the president of the PNA, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), of having ordered his secret service to follow the movements of Hamas leaders in Gaza to the end of giving the information to Israeli intelligence. According to al-Bardawil, the Interior Minister, Said Siam, was to have been victim of this scheme, killed on Thursday during Israeli bombing. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Obama Feels Our ‘Distress’: Israel’s Netanyahu

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, tipped in the polls to become the next prime minister, said Tuesday that US President-elect Barack Obama understands the “distress” of Israelis. “I took away the impression that Barack Obama understood our distress very well as well as the cruelty of the enemies we face,” the former Israeli prime minister army radio just hours before Obama’s inauguration.

[…] Latest polling puts Netanyahu ahead in the race to be Israel’s next prime minister after elections on February 10.

The radio asked President Shimon Peres if Israel should fear a renewed US dialogue with Iran under Obama. “I don’t think such contacts will bear fruit because they have different objectives: Obama wants to build while they (Iran) want to destroy, Obama wants peace, they want war.”

The new US president “has no intention to agree blindly to a dialogue, he has set out the condition that Hamas and Iran change their attitude,” Peres said. “America will still be America and the president cannot act alone.”

When Obama visited Israel as a Democratic candidate he offered strong support for the Jewish state and warned that a nuclear armed Iran would be a serious threat to the world.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Two Mortar Rounds Fired From Gaza Into Israel: Army

Two mortar rounds were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday amid a fragile ceasefire between the Jewish state and Palestinian militant groups, an army spokeswoman told AFP.

The shots came on the third day of a tenuous ceasefire between Israel and Gaza militants that followed the Jewish state’s deadly 22-day war on the Islamist Hamas movement controlling the Gaza Strip.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Gaza: Erdogan, Let’s Not Leave Hamas Out of the Dialogue

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JANUARY 19 — Let’s respect the electoral victory of Hamas and let’s not leave its representatives out of the dialogue now that Israel has declared a ceasefire, Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Brussels Monday in an appeal to the international community. “We cannot end up in a dead end now. It would boost extremism”, he said at a meeting organized by the European Policy Center, a think tank. The premier said “Hamas won the elections in the Palestinian Territories in January 2006 and we should respect the decision of the people if we are to move towards democracy in that region”. The European Union and the United States have Hamas on their terrorist lists and refuse contacts with its representatives until the militant group recognizes Israel and renounces violence. Turning to Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, Erdogan spoke of a “human tragedy” and said he was “saddened” by the way Israeli premier Ehud Olmert behaved with him since “last December when Turkey acted as an intermeidary between Israel and Syria, he made no mention of his intentions about Gaza”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Jordan: International Artists Paint Mural on Gaza in Amman

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, JANUARY 19 — Around 30 international artists gathered in Amman to paint their anger, frustration and despair against the destruction of Gaza in the 22-day Israeli offensive. Following three days of intensive work, the paintings were exhibited in a mural last night named “Gaza Steadfast”. It is being showcased at the headquarters of Jordan professional association attracting a wide audience. The idea was started by the Jordan Engineers Association after activists wanted to find away to express themselves regarding the war on Gaza,” said Mojhammad Jalous, coordinator of this work shop. “We wanted to see how artists from around the world react to the destruction of Gaza, the targeting of children and infrastructure. These artists answered our call as soon as we invited them,” he told ANSAmed. “We did not face any trouble bringing the artists despite the short notice for the workshop. Within a week they were invited from around the world and responded and came to Jordan,” he said. Painters came from the US, Britain, Turkey, Lebanon, Bahrain, Saudi, Morocco and Jordanian artits. Themes of paintings varied from mourning the death of children and women, to condemning Israel and blasting the international community for its silence to the carnage, in which at least 700 civilians were killed. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkish PM Threatens New EU Gas Pipeline

Turkey threatened Monday to review its position on a strategic new gas pipeline for Europe that would bypass Russia if its EU accession talks were blocked. The warning by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan comes amid Europe’s worst gas crisis caused by a dispute between Russia and Ukraine that has led to gas shortages across the continent.

The crisis has sharpened attention on the need to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, with the proposed Nabucco pipeline that would carry supplies from the Caspian Sea or Middle East via Turkey to Austria seen as critical. “If we’re faced with a situation where the energy chapter is blocked then we would review our position” on Nabucco, Erdogan said during a conference in Brussels.

Turkey’s bid to join the European Union requires 35 chapters covering key areas of goverance to be opened and agreed, with energy currently closed because of objections by Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004. “The other side ought to be fair in his treatment,” said Erdogan. “They should not prefer southern Cyprus, located far away from Europe and a only a few hundred thousand people, compared with Turkey with 70 million people.”

He added: “We have to talk about the facts openly. Southern Cyprus is putting pressure so that some chapters are not opened, like energy.” Turkey refuses to endorse the internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot government and instead recognises the breakaway Turkish Cypriot statelet in the north of the island.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey seized its northern third in response to an Athens-engineered Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the Mediterranean island with Greece.

Erdogan said he hoped to see “a leap” in Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union in 2009.. Some EU nations firmly oppose the idea of Turkey, a mainly Muslim country of 70 million, joining the bloc amid misgivings among voters. France favours a special relationship that stops short of full membership for Turkey.

Erdogan criticised negative comments about his country in the EU that meant public support for joining the EU was waning.

“Our people are reacting to some negative declarations from the EU side which question Turkey’s accession to the EU. But we’re very decisive, it’s a top priority issue,” Erdogan said. “We don’t ask for special treatment, but a fair and equal treatment. We are not here to be a burden for the EU we want to share the burden,” he added.

Nabucco is a proposed 3,400-kilometre (2,112-mile) pipeline between Turkey and Austria that would transport up to 31 billion cubic metres of gas each year.

The pipeline currently has six shareholders — OMV of Austria, MOL of Hungary, Transgaz of Romania, Bulgargaz of Bulgaria, Botas of Turkey and RWE of Germany — but progress has so been slow-moving because of the number of approvals and agreements needed between the countries concerned.

Ministers from the six countries are set to meet in Budapest on January 26-27 and the head of the project, Reinhard Mitschek, hopes for a final green light this year. Russia and Italy have put forward a rival pipeline project of their own, called South Stream.

One of the main hurdles to Nabucco has been financing.

The consortium recently raised the estimated cost to about eight billion euros (10.7 billion dollars) compared with the initial projection of 4.4 billion euros.. For Nabucco to be profitable, Europe would have to find 30 billion cubic metres of gas each year from countries such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Iraq, experts say.

—- A comment: “Well Mr. Erdogan, you are on the wrong foot as usual and it is obvious that your new EU negotiator is not feeding you with the right crap. As a result you are only making a fool of yourself.

You don’t threaten the EU before you have them by the short and culry. You will get nowhere that way.

Instead you should encourage a speedy copmletion of the gas pipeline to Austria get the upper hand and then pull the plug in mid winter when everyone is desperate for the product just like the russians did. Even putin has shown some intelligence in his dealings with the EU.

What is your problem?”

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Russia

Scotland: RBS Ready to Write Off £1bn Loan to Russian Oligarch

HE decline of the Royal Bank of Scotland from its position as one of the world’s top banks continued yesterday when it emerged that it is preparing to write off up to £1 billion loaned to a Russian oligarch.

It is understood that £2.5 billion was originally lent to Leonid Blavatnik, a billionaire chemical plant owner, by Dutch bank ABN Amro. RBS led a consortium takeover of ABN Amro in 2007, amid considerable industry disquiet with some experts warning that the Scottish-based bank was paying too much for its share of the Dutch bank and was taking on too much debt as a result.

Those fears appeared to be justified yesterday when reports emerged of the imminent collapse of LyondellBasell, Mr Blavatnik’s chemical company, and the likely writing off by RBS of a substantial part of his £2.5 billion loan from ABN Amro. An RBS source suggested the figure could be as high as £1 billion, but there was no official confirmation of that from the bank.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India Disappointed With Pakistan, Prepares for Neutralizing Pakistani Terrorists Within Pakistan

India will use covert means to combat terrorism in Pakistani soil. “The efforts made by Pakistan till now on the 26/11 evidence handed over to it are an eyewash,” Minister of State for Defence M. Pallam Raju told reporters here on the sidelines of a function.

“If they (Pakistan authorities) don’’t do enough, we will do what is needed to be done to defend ourselves,” he added in response to a specific question.

According to Raju, “The civilian government is not one of the most powerful. The civilian power-centre is not strong enough to act on its own. I don’’t see them doing enough to bring the perpetrators to book.”

“We are not happy with the steps taken so far. We hope Pakistan does more,” Raju added.

Options left with India is simple. India will use covert means to eliminate terror camps and terrorists within Pakistan.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Indonesia: Fire Bombs Thrown at Egyptian Embassy

Three Molotov cocktails were thrown into the ground of the Egypt Embassy in Central Jakarta on Tuesday afternoon at 3:25 p.m. Police reported only that two of the bombs ignited, causing minor damage to the embassy building but no injuries.

“The bombs were thrown from outside the embassy fence. It only burnt a part of the embassy’s wall,” a member of the embassy staff, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Jakarta Post. The staff member said police officers came immediately to the embassy after the incident.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Zulkarnaen said the bomb thrower has not been identified. “The Central Jakarta Police are still investigating the case,” he said. He, however, refused to answer whether the incident was related to the recent anti-Israel demonstrations. (dre)

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Malaysia: Muslim Groups Cautious of New US President

By : Ili Liyana Mokhtar

Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin says promises made by Barack Obama’s predecessors failed to improve the situation in Gaza

LOCAL Muslim groups are in doubt whether Barack Obama will be able to bear the weight he will take on after he is sworn in as the new US president.

Islamic non-governmental organisation (NGO) Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) president Zaid Kamaruddin said he is not pinning high hopes on Obama despite his promise of reaching out to the Muslim world.

“It is still too early to tell. After all, promises can just be promises without concrete action.”

He said he does not think there will be any significant change during Obama’s tenure but hoped that the promises he made would not just be talk.

Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (International) vice-president Azril Mohd Amin concurred.

“A person can say many things. It is still early to judge his sincerity, although he is looked upon as carrying the hopes of the world.”

However, Azril hoped the new presidency would herald a more positive era in the United States administration in terms of its role in the Middle East.

The Muslim Consumer’s Association of Malaysia project director, Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin, said he does not see the future president of the US as being able to bring about any change.

“Promises were made by leaders before him, but none have succeeded in making any significant changes especially about improving the situation in Gaza.”

Nirwandy said the organisation would boycott US and Israeli products as so much damage had already been inflicted by both powers.

“I feel his promise of reaching out to Muslims is all talk. We want to see solid negotiations taking place before putting our hopes on him.”

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]


Maldives: Drug Stash Hidden in Mosque

Police have found a drug stash hidden in a light pole on the ground of a Male’ mosque. 54 drug bullets were found at Thaquvaa mosque in Henveiru yard on Monday by police.

The case is being investigated but no arrests have been made.

Imam Mohamed Shareef said there were gangs who often loitered behind the mosque. “They do all kinds of bad things. It might have been one of them.”

He added the gangs disturbed those praying. “Sometimes I feel as if it’s difficult to pray because of all their noises. They shout and they scream.”

Litter and graffiti were also problems. Empty cans and bottles, discarded pill packs and cigarette butts covered the area behind the mosque.

“To clear the walls we used to paint over the graffiti but it never takes long before they spray over it again,” said Shareef.

One mosque-goer, who wished to remain anonymous, said the gangs were involved in “illegal activities” but did not elaborate.

Another, Abdul Latheef Hussain, 63, said gangs even vandalised the mosque. “If we install a light bulb, they will break or steal it,” he said.

75-year-old Abdul Latheef Hussain said the gangs should be prevented from hanging out in the mosque. “Perhaps, we can give them advice and ask them to leave.”

He added a wall could be built around the yard area to block the entrances.

Athif Jaleel, deputy director for ministry of Islamic affairs, said the ministry had received complaints about the gangs but not about drug use.

“At one point we had to destroy a low wall inside the mosque area because the gangs would sit on it,” he said. “The ministry used to check the mosque everyday.”

In February 2007, a man was arrested for using drugs inside toilet at Jalaaludheen mosque in Male’.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]


Pakistan: 2 More Sisters Freed From Muslim Kidnappers

Grabbed, drugged and raped, teens now fear society’s rejection

Two more Christian sisters in Pakistan have been kidnapped, drugged and assaulted and now fear rejection from society after they were freed from their Muslim kidnappers.

It is the second similar incident in that nation, and in the earlier case one of the sisters has not yet been returned to her family.

According to a report from Compass Direct, the new case involved Parvisha Masih, 18, and Sanam Masih, 14, who reported three Muslim men kidnapped them, drugged them and sexually assaulted them over a period of two weeks in captivity.

“We are happy to return to the family, but we are feeling ashamed because there is no respect for us in society now,” Parvisha Masih said the report. “We don’t want to go back to school and have to face our friends.”

The report said they still face a legal battle over their abduction that probably will bring them into contact again with their captors, who forced them to convert to Islam.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Pakistan, Swat Valley: Taliban Blow Up Five Schools, Threaten School Girls

Carnage averted because of winter break. The government reiterates its commitment to re-opening schools in March, but the safety of tens of thousands of school girls remains in jeopardy. Another Pakistani fundamentalist group calls on Taliban to reconsider their decision and guarantee instead an education to girls as well.

Peshawar (AsiaNews) — The Taliban blew up five schools this morning in the town of Mingora, Swat district, north-western Pakistan. No one was killed or hurt in the blasts because schools were closed for the winter break. However, this is of little comfort to the thousands of students and teachers frightened by being the targets of choice for fundamentalist militias, who last year destroyed more than 150 school buildings.

Even though Pakistani authorities announced recently that they would guarantee the re-opening of schools in the Swat Valley, the Taliban remain a threat to tens of thousands of girls who want to continue their education at the end of the winter break.

Last December the latter had threatened to blow up school buildings and kill any girl going to class after 15 January.

About 400 private schools in the Swat Valley, an area located in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) on the border with Afghanistan, are being forced to stay closed. Re-opening, which was scheduled for early February, might have to wait till March.

“From March 1, all closed schools in Swat and NWFP will be reopened after the winter break,” Information Minister Sherry Rehman said. “Non-state actors are challenging the writ of the government in the name of Sharia, but Islam does not allow the closure of women’s schools,” she explained.

Still the 400 Swat Valley schools are not re-opening any time soon, leaving the education of about 80,000 female students from Grade 5 and up as well as the jobs of some 8,000 female teachers in jeopardy.

Ziauddin Yusufzai, spokesman for an association of private school owners in Swat, also said that the resumption of classes was in doubt. Schools “were due to re-open in early February, but after the Taliban warning, it seems impossible now for us to resume classes.” Instead, winter holidays might be extended until March.

For education ministry official Sher Afzal, “tens of thousands will be deprived of education.”

Since security forces launched an operation against militants in the region in 2007, the Taliban have blown up 168 schools, including 104 for girls, an education ministry official.

None the less, NWFP Minister for Primary Education Sardar Hussain Babak said in Peshawar that the NWFP government would provide full security and protection to educational institutions, especially to girls’ schools in the restive Swat district; nobody would be allowed to burn or destroy them in the name of religion.

The North-West Frontier Province has been the scene of major attacks by the Taliban who want to impose the Sharia and Islamic courts on the area.

Interestingly, another government banned fundamentalist group, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has said that it did not oppose education for both boys and girls.

A TTP spokesman, Maulvi Omar, said that his organisation has contacted the Taliban in Swat Valley, to convince them to reconsider their decision to ban girls’ education.

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


Thailand: Conflict in Muslim South Cost $3 Bln, Says Think-Tank

Bangkok, 19 Jan. (AKI) — Conflict in the three Muslim-dominated provinces of southern Thailand has cost the government more than 3 billion dollars in the past five years, according to a university think-tank.

Deep South Watch, a think-tank linked to the University of Pattani, said the three provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani have recorded 9,780 violent incidents since January 2004.

Last year there were a total of 718 violent incidents and 1,861 others in 2007.

Analysts said that the fall in violence does not signify an improvement in the situation but rather a change in the tactics of the rebels who are now looking for larger but less frequent attacks.

Since January 2004, an estimated 3,287 people have been killed in the conflict — more than half of them Muslims who were considered pro-Bangkok by the rebels.

Over 45 percent of Thai military forces — almost exclusively Thai/Laotian in ethnicity and Buddhist in religion — are currently stationed in the south, where some districts of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani remain off-limits.

Last week the human rights organisation Amnesty International said the Thai Army had used torture in the country’s Muslim south in order to quell an Islamist rebellion.

Burying people to their necks and near suffocation with plastic bags were among the methods of torture used by the Thai Army, the rights group said.

In the report, entitled ‘Thailand: Torture in the southern counter-insurgency,’ the watchdog refuted the possibility that rogue soldiers are responsible for the torture and said that the army is systematically torturing people to extract information.

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

Far East

Anniversary of 1959 Tibet Rebellion to be Celebrated

For the Chinese, 28 March becomes ‘Serf Emancipation Day’. Beijing claims its intervention freed Tibetans from theocratic “slavery” under the Dalai Lama. Many Tibetans remember instead the bloody crackdown which continues unabated. The Dalai Lama says he trusts the Chinese people, not their government.

Beijing (AsiaNews) — China announced today that Tibet would celebrate each year the Chinese military’s bloody crushing of its 1959 rebellion. The legislature of the Tibet Autonomous Region voted to make 28 March ‘Serf Emancipation Day.’ It is not known whether it will be a statutory holiday or simply a day for official ceremonies.

“On March 28, 1959, Tibetan serfs and slaves, who accounted for more than 90 per cent of the region’s population, were freed after the central government foiled an armed rebellion staged by the Dalai Lama and his supporters,” Xinhua said.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951. A year earlier it had sent troops into the Himalayan nation, ostensibly to free it from a Buddhist theocracy that had enslaved its population (pictured, Tibetans in Chushul in 1959 looking at artists making Mao portraits).

For Tibetans matters are quite the reverse. Contrary to China’s version of events, Beijing occupied the country with force and crushed a popular uprising in blood, driving the Dalai Lama and his supporters into exile.

Moreover, the Chinese have subjected the indigenous population to policies designed to systematically obliterate their culture, religion and even their ethnic identity as Tibetans.

Discriminated and imprisoned because of their faith in the Dalai Lama, Tibetans have also had put up with mass immigration by ethnic Han Chinese who are favoured in public sector employment and commerce.

Whenever they protest, they are crushed like last March.

For this year pro-Tibet groups have announced their own commemoration of the 50th anniversary of China’s repression.

They believe that China’s decision to commemorate the 1959 crackdown this year is meant to give it a more positive spin.

“Our faith towards (Chinese) government is getting thinner and thinner; however our faith in the Chinese people has never shaken,” said the Dalai Lama on a visit today to a Delhi college.

Ever hopeful, he noted that “governments change, leadership changes, and eventually, the policy will also change.”

“As time passes, I think (China’s policy) has to change. In the long run, in spite of the setback, I think it’s . . . [going to be] OK . .. . . The Tibetan spirit is very, very strong,” he said.

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


S.Korea: Tensions Rise on Korean Peninsula

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korea placed more soldiers at frontier guard posts and told its fishermen to refrain from sailing near North Korean waters on Sunday, a day after the North Korean military declared an “all-out confrontational posture” against the South and threatened a naval clash.

The North Korean threat on Saturday came in the same day when an American scholar said North Korean officials told him that they had “weaponized” enough plutonium for roughly four or five nuclear bombs. Also Saturday, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the country would maintain its “status as a nuclear weapons state” as long as it perceived a nuclear threat from the United States.American intelligence officials have previously estimated that the North had harvested enough fuel for six or more bombs, although it has never been clear whether the North constructed the weapons. The scholar, Selig Harrison, said the officials had not defined what “weaponized” meant, but the implication was that they had built nuclear arms.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Immigration

ISMU: 1 Mln Moroccans in Italy by 2030

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, JANUARY 19 — According to data updated on January 1 2008, Moroccan residents in Italy presently total 366 thousand, but according to estimates this number could rise to almost one million (908 thousand people) in 2030. This is data that has emerged from the annual report on migrations elaborated by the Ismu Foundation and presented today in Milan, a 400 page study collecting statistics from various sources, ranging from Istat (National Statistical Institute) to the Congress. Among foreigners in Italy, Moroccans are ranked third in terms of the total number present, increasing by 6.7pct between 2007-2008. A number that represents 10.7pct of the total 3.6 million legal immigrants present in Italy. However, the number of illegal immigrants is also significant. According to estimates, 17pct of the almost 650 thousand illegal immigrants in Italy arrive from Morocco. Still in the Mediterranean regarding the top ten countries, Tunisia is also present with 94 thousand people present since the beginning of 2008, a number that has increased by 5.6pct. Tunisians represent 2.7pct of the total number of legal immigrants in Italy. In 13th place is Egypt, with 70,000 (+9.7pct) a share equal to 2pct of the immigrants with a legal stay permit. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy:11pct Have Degree,42pct High School Grads

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, JANUARY 19 — Compared to 2007 they have increased by 9pct, and they prefer to dedicate themselves to business and their profile is medium-high: 42.6pct of foreign employees have a high school diploma and 10.9pct have a university degree. Only some of the data highlighted in the XVI National Report on Migrations 2008, elaborated by the Ismi Foundation (Initiatives and multiethnic studies) and presented at the Fondazione Cariplo Exposition Centre in Milan. In early January of 2008, immigrants exceeded the 4 million barrier (4,328,000 thousand), 346 thousand more compared to 2007 (about +9pct). 43pct come from Eastern Europe (in first place is Romania with 625 thousand). Among legal immigrants (3,677 thousand), residency increased (16.8pct), showing that immigrants are changing from a mere work force to a true population in a demographic sense. Resident minors have increased, almost doubling in 4 years: in 2008 they reached the 767 thousand mark (of which 457 thousand were born in Italy). Foreign students in the 2007-2008 scholastic year were 574,133 (6pct of the total), with an increase of over 70 thousand in one year. A new boom of illegal migrants is taking place, which compared to 2007 almost doubled, reaching 650 thousand, (in 2007 there were only 350 thousand). In terms of work, entrepreneurship has become an important phenomena: between 2000 and 2007 in Italian companies, jobs occupied by those born in non EU countries went from 156 thousand to 384 thousand with an increase of 145.6pct. The professional profile of the workers has also raised: 42.6pct of foreigners have a high school diploma and 10.9pct have a university degree. Crime data has not decreased, with 35pct of crimes being committed by foreigners in 2007. On June 30 2008, of 55,057 prisoners in Italian jails, 20,617 inmates were foreigners (37.4pct): this is the highest proportion of all time. Finally, the results of an Ismu study on the cost of immigration do not show a large recourse to the state welfare system by immigrants. Rather, if the benefits associated with old age are considered, a net transfer of resources by immigrants to Italians has been highlighted. At the conference moderated by Francesca Padula, journalist for Sole 24 Ore, Paolo Raineri and Vincenzo Cesareo, respectively president and secretary general of the Ismu Foundation, Maurizio Silveri, general manager of immigration for the Labour, Health, and Social Policy Minister, Maria Paola Colombo Svevo, Fondazione Cariplo, Gian Carlo Gian Carlo Blangiardo, Bicocca di Milano Unversity, Marco Lombardi, Università Cattolica of Milan, Mariagrazia Santagati, Ismu Foundation,Giovanni Giulio Valtolina, Università Cattolica of Milan, Laura Zanfrini, Università Cattolica of Milan all participated. During the conference a book by Ennio Codini about italian legislation on refugees and asylum was presented, and two Ismu awards were handed out, one to Juan José Fabiani, and the other to the Sunugal association. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Landing at Lampedusa, 203 Migrants Arrive

(ANSAmed) — LAMPEDUSA (AGRIGENTO), JANUARY 19 — A boat with 203 migrants on board was assisted 21 miles south-west of Lampedusa, after being sighted by an Atlantic military aircraft. The old boat was making water, the Coast Guard took 150 persons on board, among whom three women and twenty minors. A unit of the Finance Police was present at the scene. The operation was coordinated by the Port Authorities of Palermo. Yesterday three boats were registered at Lampedusa, Linosa and Licata, with in total 32 non-EU residents on board. The rescue teams have already reached the port of Lampedusa, from where the migrants will be transferred to the temporary shelter, where already more than 1500 persons are present. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Court: Christian Mom’s Child Must Visit Lesbian

State threatens to take daughter by force, if necessary

A Christian mother has been told by a Virginia court that her 6-year-old daughter must now visit the mother’s former lesbian partner in Vermont, and if she refuses, the law will remove the girl by force, if necessary.

As WND has reported, Lisa Miller left the homosexual lifestyle and became a Christian when her daughter, Isabella, was 17 months old. But Janet Jenkins, Lisa’s same-sex partner when Lisa gave birth to Isabella, is seeking full custody of the girl, claiming she was a parent even though she is not biologically related to Isabella and never sought to adopt her.

The case has been further tangled by the courts, as Jenkins and Miller were joined in civil union in Vermont, but Miller and her daughter now live in Virginia, where the laws forbid recognition of civil unions.

Earlier this month, however, Judge William Sharp of the Shenandoah County Domestic Relations District Court in Virginia, ordered Miller to allow Jenkins a three-day unsupervised visit with Isabella.

Miller told LifeSiteNews that Sharp also ruled that Vermont’s civil union laws must be upheld in Virginia.

“At this point, the Virginia Marriage laws mean nothing,” wrote Miller in an email to friends and supporters. “Today, the homosexual agenda just marched through our back door.”

Miller had previously refused to comply with Vermont’s orders for visitations, claiming Isabella reported being compelled to bathe naked with Jenkins while visiting and came home speaking of suicide.

The non-profit legal group Liberty Counselhas been working on the case. The group’s chairman, Mathew Staver, told WND of Isabella’s traumatic visitations with Jenkins.

“She began having nightmares, bed-wetting, fears of leaving Lisa and even tried to physically harm herself after just a couple of visitations,” Staver said. “After having seen that, Lisa just simply said, ‘I cannot put my child in that situation anymore.’“

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Teacher Wants to Expel Huck Finn

Reporting from Ridgefield, Wash. — John Foley figures he has pretty much maxed out on explaining to African American mothers why it’s OK to call a black man the N-word — as long as it’s in a novel that is considered a classic.

For years, English teachers have been explaining away the obvious racism in Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” And for years, the book that perhaps best explains Americans’ genetic predilection for hitting the road, only to later find themselves, has stayed near the top of many high school reading lists.

However, with an African American about to be inaugurated as president, Foley wonders whether ‘Huck Finn’ ought to be sent back down the river. Why not replace it with a more modern, less discomfiting novel documenting the epic journey of discovery?

“The time has arrived to update the literature we use in high school classrooms,” Foley wrote in a guest column this month for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “Barack Obama is president-elect of the United States, and novels that use the ‘N-word’ repeatedly need to go.”

Foley, 48, teaches at a largely white suburban high school near Portland, Ore. Year after year, he said, he patiently explains to his students that Jim, a black man, is actually the hero of the novel, and that Huck comes to see the error of his ways and commits to helping Jim escape slavery. But many of them find the book dull and plodding, and they sometimes never get past the demeaning word Huck uses to refer to his friend.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

New RFID Technology Allows You to be Tracked Without Your Knowledge

The NOX team has perfected dozens of methods of tagging people without their knowledge.

One of the more covert technologies they employ is ID-Dust, serialized dust particles that can be interrogated like a RFID tag. The NOX team can coat a person or object with it to track movement. ID-Dust can show if an item was handled or it can even be sprinkled on the floor. People unknowingly pick up the ID-Dust on their shoes as they travel through a dusted area. The software combines the video surveillance and RFID information to create an association between the ID-Dust and a person. The ID-Dust allows the person’s movement to be tracked around a facility without the person ever knowing he or she is being tracked. While a criminal can easily defeat the motion sensors, the ID-Dust provides covert security with instant alerts when someone enters an area, plus a complete history of exactly where each person traveled and when.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama Should Talk to Hamas and Taleban

By Olivier Roy

From Gaza to Kandahar, the new Obama administration is confronted with two kinds of Islamist movements: the ones with a global agenda (Al-Qaeda and its local subsidiaries) and the others with a territorial and national agenda (Taleban, Hamas, most of its Iraqi opponents). There is nothing to negotiate with the global terrorists, but the Islamo-nationalist movements simply cannot be ignored or suppressed.

Hamas is nothing else than the traditional Palestinian nationalism. The Taleban express more a Pashtu identity than a global movement. The Iraqi factions are competing over sharing (or monopolizing) the power in Iraq.

The “war on terror” during the Bush years has blurred this essential distinction by merging all the armed opponents to US-supported governments under the label of terrorism. The concept of a “war on terror” has thwarted any political approach to the conflicts in favor of an elusive military victory.

Where a political approach has been tried, it has worked. The relative success of the surge in Iraq is based on the implicit rejection of the official doctrine of the “war on terror”: Local armed insurgents were recognized as political actors with more or less a legitimate agenda, thus separating them from the foreign-based global militants who did not give a damn about Iraqi national interests.

Could the same approach be applied to the Taleban and Hamas? The appointment of Gen. David Petraeus as CENTCOM chief suggests that this is the idea for Afghanistan. As far as Hamas is concerned, the issue rests with the leaders of Israel, not those in Washington. (Forget about US pressure on Israel. Such pressure could force a temporary agreement but not a long-term solution.)

Nevertheless, for both Afghanistan and Palestine, the issue is the same: If the nationalist dimension supersedes the global terrorism movement — which I think it does — how can a solution be found based on recognizing the legitimacy of nationalist aspirations?…

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]


Photos: Growing Stocks of Unsold Cars Around the World

Nissan has announced plans to cut its Sunderland workforce by 1,200. Thousands of unsold cars are stored around the factory’s test track

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

5 comments:

Natalie said...

We should Skype each other.

Orlando said...

8 years of Obama? Try "for life".

Maybe you missed the proposal to repeal the 22nd Amendment: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hj111-5

Long live Obama, long live the One.

Bilgeman said...

Baron:

"I’ve got four (or more likely eight or more) years to get used to Obama."

Well, see? Even YOU have cause to Hope for Change.

NJArtist said...

The Usurper has promised to "remake" America: he means to destroy the last remnants of the Republic. On his first day he declared defeat in Iraq and suspended all rules and regulations issued by the final President of the American Republic.

Dymphna said...

NJ Artist--

When opposing parties win elections, they immediately suspend the executive directives of the party before them. Thus, Geo Bush did a U-turn on Clinton's directive re the use of embryos, just to name one example.

And as for what he says, eh....watch what he *does*. Even now, he's in a quandry because he promised to close Gitmo but no one wants his prisoners...and they are his problem now, no one else's.

Oh, wait a minute, Rep Murtha did offer to take them into his district in Pennsylvania, but he'll have to get a whole lot of permissions for that (beginning with the Governor) so he knows he's safe from ever having to deliver on that "generous" offer.

Murtha's re-election bothers me more than Obama's, at least as matters of conscience go. This was the guy who called his own constituency "rednecks" and yet they sent him back to the House. Maybe they just don't want him in PA??

Whatever. Obama is many things, but he's not a break with the past. I do wish we had elected someone who was an African American instead of someone who is Kenyan on one side and white American on the other. However...

...having gotten this obstacle maybe we can move on to having a woman, a Jew, a Martian...whatever it takes to prove our multi-culti creds so we can talk about something else would sure be a big help.

And it would be much better if we didn't have this guy in office presiding over the great meltdown. His shopworn ideas and re-tread advisors will only make it worse.

Imagine! A Secretary of the Treasury who cheats on his taxes...

I do look forward to Michelle. Before O's time is up, MO will have given us far more entertainment than even Hillary did. After Laura Bush's normalcy, I'm ready to see some screeching again.