Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/24/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/24/2009During the media firestorm over recent events in Gaza, the story of the cooling of relations between Turkey and Israel has been somewhat overlooked. Turkish prime minister Erdogan has made a special effort to befriend the Palestinians, and is considered a hero in Gaza. Watch for developments in this story.

Thanks to Abu Elvis, C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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USA
Battle to Stop Consitutional Convention
Cartoon: “Where you goin’, Khalid?”
Flood of Foreclosures: It’s Worse Than You Think
Franken’s Request to Dismiss Coleman Suit is Denied
Obama Documentation Activists — Not Conspiracy Theorists
The Bush Presidency
Video: CNN Likens Inauguration to ‘Hajj’
 
Europe and the EU
Danish Schools Caught Up in Palestinian Conflict
Erdogan Signs Palestinian Flag
EU States Monitor Spread of Civil Unrest
Europe Reimports Jew Hatred
France: Rachida to Leave Gov to Try for European
France: the Engineer of Diversity
Greece: Athens Erupts in Violence After Acid Attack on Immigrant
Italy: Envoys Boycott Israeli Speech at UN Agency
Man Kills 2 Kids, Wounds 10 More in Belgium
Norwegian Envoy: Israelis and Nazis the Same
Rise in Attacks Prompts Renewed Fears for French Jews
UK: 150,000 Foreigners Swell UK Workforce: Record Number Get Permits as Britons Lose Jobs
UK: Bishop’s Holocaust Remarks Spark Outrage, Threaten Jewish-Vatican Ties
 
Balkans
EU-Croatia: Zagreb Agrees to EU Mediation With Slovenia
Kosovo Albanian Separatists Hire Propaganda Firm
Rival Muslims in Serbia Shoot Each Other
 
Mediterranean Union
France: in Strasbourg First Degree in Islamic Finance
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Gaza: Press Claims Iranian Divers Supplied Hamas With Weapons
Israel: Survey Shows Electorate’s Shift to Right
Israel Warns Soldiers of Prosecution Abroad for Gaza ‘War Crimes’
Mideast: Israel and Egypt Move to Stop Arms Into Gaza
Yesha Council Head: We May Need Permits to Have Kids
 
Middle East
Gaza: Israeli Tourists’ Presence Down in Turkey During War
Iran in Scramble for Fresh Uranium Supplies
Lebanon May Claim Gas Deposit Found Off Israel’s Coast
Middle East: Obama Debut; Israel Cautious, Hamas Critical
Open Letter to the European Union
Saudi: Trading Bombs for Crayons: Terrorists Get ‘Art Therapy’
Swiss Ambassador to Obey Iran’s Islamic Dress Code
Turkey: 30 Detained in New Wave of Ergenkon Probe
Turkey: Jewish Groups Urge Ankara to Stop ‘Anti-Semitism’
 
South Asia
India: Newbies Tied in by Rs 2 Lakh Bond
Obama to CIA: Bombs Away! No Let Up in US Drone Attacks
 
Far East
Philippines: Islamist Militants Get Life in Prison
Vietnam: Celebrations for Tet Widen Gap Between Rich and Poor
 
Latin America
The High Price of Clean, Cheap Ethanol
 
Immigration
Activist: ‘Where’s the Fence?’
France: Benguigui, We Are Here to Stay
Tension During General Strike in Lampedusa
UNHCR, Severe Worries in Lampedusa
 
Culture Wars
Change We Never Imagined
Now That Obama’s in, Stem-Cell Trials Begin
Obama Signs Order to Export ‘Torture’
Porn Warning Revived on Bundy Death Date
Refusal to Hire Smokers Criticized
The Answer is Simple: Don’t Hire a Woman
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Civil Rights
Young Mum Spurs Teen Sex Debate
 
General
Did Sid Really Kill Nancy? Explosive New Evidence Suggests the Punk Rocker May Have Been Innocent

USA

Battle to Stop Consitutional Convention

The phone call came to my home late on Tuesday night telling me that the next morning the Ohio House of Representatives would be holding hearings on a resolution to call for a Constitutional Convention. We knew this was not good news. But the news was even worse. To our shock, records indicated that if Ohio were to pass such a resolution, it would be state number thirty-three. Only thirty-four states are needed to officially kick the convention apparatus into gear. We were only two states away! And we had only 18 hours to prepare for battle.

Now, sponsors of the resolution were not wild-eyed Leftists who sought to purge the Constitution. Rather, they were patriotic Republican conservatives who were vitally concerned about the massive spending spree and bailouts taking place in Washington, D.C. The issue, said the sponsors, was to add a balanced budget amendment to the U.S Constitution.

So why were we so concerned about the idea of a “Con Con?” Why were we ready to fight to stop it, especially if it could lead to controlling the outrageous waste of tax dollars in Washington? The reason is simple. These legislators were operating on very bad advice.

The fact is, once 34 states petition Congress to convene a Constitutional Convention, the matter is completely out of the States’ hands. There is absolutely no ability to control what the delegates do in the convention. Attempting to instruct delegates to only discuss a balance budget is absolutely impossible. Instead, once the convention starts the delegates become super delegates which can take any action they desire concerning the Constitution. In short, at the convention the Constitution can be literally put on an operating table at each delegate can take a scalpel (pen) to it and change any section or even the entire document if they desire.

Section V of the Constitution, which covers the issue of Constitutional Conventions and Amendments, gives absolutely no guidelines as to how it will be run, how delegates can be selected and who can do the selecting. Once the 34 states make the request, the entire matter is in the hands of Congress to decide.

[…]

There has been only one Constitutional Convention in the history of the nation — that was in 1787. At the time, the nation was held together by the Articles of Confederation. The states were having a difficult time with commerce among themselves. So it was decided to hold a Constitutional Convention to simply discuss how interstate commerce might be better organized. As the delegates were selected, some were given specific orders by their states to discuss nothing else beyond the commerce issue.

However, as soon as the delegates arrived at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, they closed and locked the door, pulled down the shades and met in secret for a month. When they were finished, they had created an entirely new nation. We were very lucky that the convention was attended by men like Ben Franklin and James Madison. They produced the most magnificent document ever devised for the governance of man.

Today, we have Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Do you trust them to produce a document of such magnitude? Or would they at least take care of the present one? We live in an era when the Supreme Court looks to foreign laws to assure our own are worthy. We live in an era when many believe that the Constitution is out of date for our times. They are itching to get their hands on the old parchment. And as history has shown, they can do anything they want to it, including writing a completely new document.

And there is more. Concerning the argument that whatever they do, the states must ratify it — thus serving as a safeguard to tomfoolery, consider this fact. The Articles of Confederation required that any changes be ratified by 100% of the states. That was the document that was the law of the land — until something else was put into place. But, when the new Constitution was put to the states for a vote of ratification, they needed only two thirds to approve it. Why? The fact is, Article V of the new Constitution was literally in power — even before the Constitution which contained it was approved. Now, what do you think Reid and Pelosi and company would do with that precedent? What if the new document said ratification only required a vote of Congress — or some special commission? The precedent of 1787 says that could happen. So much for protection in the states.

These are the reasons why my colleagues and I looked at the Ohio resolution with such horror. There has never been a worse time in the nation’s history to consider changing this grand document. The Con Con delegates could literally put the Constitution on an operating table and use their scalpels to slice it up, creating an entirely new form of government. Do Americans really want to risk that in these uncertain times?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Cartoon: “Where you goin’, Khalid?”

(See link for news story)

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Flood of Foreclosures: It’s Worse Than You Think

Banks are moving slowly to list repossessed homes for sale, which could mean that housing inventory is even more bloated than current statistics indicate.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Housing might be in worse shape than we think.

There is probably even more excess housing inventory gumming up the market than current statistics indicate, thanks to a wave of foreclosures that has yet to hit the market.

The problem: Many foreclosed homes and other distressed properties that are now owned by banks have yet to be listed for sale. The volume of this so-called ‘ghost inventory’ could be substantial enough to depress already steeply falling prices when it does go on the market.

“That’s not good news,” said Pat Newport, an analyst with IHS Global Insight. “[Excess] inventory is the biggest problem in housing these days, and it leads to lower housing prices, which leads to more foreclosures.”

[…]

The scope of the problem isn’t clear, but it could be huge considering that RealtyTrac has a total of 1.5 million bank-owned properties on its site.

“Many properties that should be listed on the MLS are not listed on the MLS,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Franken’s Request to Dismiss Coleman Suit is Denied

[Comment from JD: Some good news from Minnesota.]

The three-judge panel rejected Al Franken’s motion to dismiss the case to narrowly limit the review of ballots. The three-judge panel that will hear the case also rejected Franken’s bid to narrowly limit the review.

Al Franken’s effort to block Norm Coleman’s lawsuit over the U.S. Senate recount was rejected Thursday by a three-judge panel, setting the stage for a trial to begin Monday on the Republican’s claims.

State election law doesn’t undermine the Senate’s constitutional power to later judge the qualifications of its members, the judges said in denying Franken’s request to dismiss the election contest, as the lawsuit is called.

The panel also rejected Franken’s attempt to limit any court review to verifying math and other technicalities of the recount and canvass, clearing the way for the judges to consider Coleman claims that some votes in Democratic areas were counted twice, that some absentee ballots from GOP areas were wrongly rejected and that there were other irregularities.

The panel noted that the Minnesota Supreme Court had ruled that while those claims shouldn’t be decided during the recount, they “would be properly heard in an election contest” in court.

Coleman lawyer Ben Ginsberg called the panel’s decision “a stinging defeat for Al Franken. It underscores that the Coleman contest will proceed, that there will be a trial.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama Documentation Activists — Not Conspiracy Theorists

A theorist is someone who holds and expounds a theory. Often the elements of the theory are expostulated on things that may never be known. Was there another shooter on the grassy knowle, where is Osama Bin Laden? Those trying to vet Obama even post inaugural are not trying to prove a theory, here is why.

Most of those filing law suits to subpoena Obama’s documents are lawyers, politicians and military people none who have ever been known to be conspiracy theorists on any subject. The attempt to put them in the same class with those who chase UFO sightings or those who are still looking for the Holy Grail is demeaning and ridiculous.

Questions about the body of Hitler, the whereabouts of Osama and how many shooters were on the grassy knowle and other conspiracy questions all have one thing in common; they are speculative and nearly un-answerable. Bringing a birth certificate or school records up out of a vault does not require a bit of speculation. All that’s needed is a subpoena not a theory. Producing a document is in no way comparable to proving a theory.

The birth certificate in question is only one document that is conspicuously missing from Barack Obama’s past. The list of documents is huge and it is one of the reasons all of them have been sought by various lawyers and interested parties.

Article II of the Constitution says “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

Those refusing to produce the requested documents are turning up their noses to the Constitution, to “we the people” and calling them “conspiracy theorists” will by no means make the question go away.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Running and Ruining America for the Benefit of China

On CNN on January 16, Lou Dobbs, perhaps the most honest and outspoken major media commentator, told the truth about the Wall Street bailout. “Treasury Secretary Paulson basically used the money to bail out his buddies on Wall Street, and don’t let anybody kid you,” he said.

One day earlier, however, the Senate had voted 52-42 to give Paulson’s successor another $350 billion. That successor is supposed to be another Wall Street insider, Timothy Geithner. He is just as tainted as Paulson.

As President Obama takes office, America has become an international laughingstock—a “Bailout Nation” that continues to slide further and further into debt as bailout after bailout fails to work. Yet, Obama’s prescription is more of the same.

[…]

In one of the few stories to capture the essence of what is happening with the Geithner appointment, William Pesek of Bloomberg wrote an article appearing in the China Post under the headline, “China Will Be Happy With Geithner.”

“The U.S. simply isn’t in a position to demand this or that from China,” he reported. “Treasury officials no longer have the leverage they once did as Wall Street plunges and the U.S. needs Asia’s money to stabilize its financial system… Geithner will take the reins as China struggles to bolster growth and the U.S. is desperate to keep the biggest holder of Treasuries from dumping dollars.”

An article in the new Foreign Affairs by Roger Altman, a U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary under Clinton, is quite blunt, noting that the financial crisis has enabled China to “achieve a stronger relative global position” and that the communist regime now has “the opportunity to solidify its strategic advantages.” In other words, we seem to be at their mercy.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


The Bush Presidency

Well, Bush’s second and final term is now complete and liberal democrats are almost fully in charge — much like republicans were only four years ago. And now, more than ever, those staunch republicans, conservatives and Christians would do well to re-read those two articles I wrote from years gone by to hopefully, finally understand that all is not as it seems to be.

Socialism, you see, didn’t take the United States hostage when Obama took the oath. It was already here, as evidenced by, among other things, the recent government bailouts by the Bush administration.

How could such a thing happen under a Christian conservative republican president, you ask?

Well, I said it back in November of 2000 when he was first elected president and again in January of 2001 when he took his first oath of office. Now, eight years later, in retrospect, I’ll say it again:

“Socialism needs two legs on which to stand; a right and a left. While appearing to be in complete opposition to one another, they both march in the same direction.”

The conservative right versus the communist left war is just an illusion designed to keep us all moving toward a synthesized solution called “socialism” where absolutes are ultimately surrendered to the moral relativism of consensus.

Crowds don’t think — they watch and feel and follow.

An endearing image and a charming personality is irresistible to the herd and makes group-think almost effortless. That is the power of consensus and the Hegelian Dialectic.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


The Pork Behind the Pomp

Hidden well behind the spectacular pomp and historic circumstance of inauguration week, the wheels of government continued the relentless grind, oblivious to the party in power at the moment. From deep within the bureaucracy, the USDA moved closer to taking control over every livestock animal and the land on which they roam. With a callousness hardened by expanded majorities, Congress moved closer to taking control over another 2 million acres of land and the resources it contains.

To accommodate a request of the National Institute of Animal Agriculture, a trade association of agri-business and livestock associations, the USDA set out in 2002 to create an electronic tracking system for every cow, horse, chicken, turkey, goat, sheep, pig — 29 species in all — that could pinpoint the location of every animal in the country and, within 48 hours, trace its every movement since birth. This massive project would bring the United States into compliance with the requirements of a little-known sub-agency of the World Trade Organization. Compliance with these requirements opens export markets coveted by the members of the National Institute of Animal Agriculture.

Initially, the USDA announced that the program would be implemented in three phases: premises identification; animal identification; and reporting of animal movement within 24 hours. The entire program was supposed to be fully implemented and operational by 2009.

Ranchers, farmers and animal owners raised such a fuss that the USDA was forced to back off its implementation plan and announce instead that the National Animal Identification System would be a voluntary program. Animal owners were appreciative, but skeptical.

While claiming that the program was voluntary, the USDA paid hundreds of millions of dollars to trade associations and state departments of agriculture to coerce animal owners into signing up for the NAIS. Idaho signed up more than 15,000 animal owners without their knowledge. Several states required animal owners to have a NAIS identification number as a condition for participating in the state fair. This is what the USDA called a “voluntary” program.

Still claiming that the program is voluntary, and while the nation’s attention is focused on the inauguration, the USDA published a proposed rule that will essentially transform the voluntary program into a mandatory program. While claiming the program is voluntary, the new rule would require animal owners who receive certain vaccination services for their animals to be signed up with the NAIS. The rule says that the NAIS is voluntary, unless you want your animals vaccinated. Of course, vaccination is necessary for almost all marking.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Video: CNN Likens Inauguration to ‘Hajj’

Crowd cited, ‘That is the initial definition of a pilgrimage, show up’

A special CNN report has likened attendance at President Obama’s inauguration to participation in the hajj, the pilgrimage to Islam’s holy city Mecca that Muslims are required to make at least once.

“Just when you think you have heard everything from the liberal media, they best their own record for ludicrous reporting,” said the website report about the CNN video. “Here is a CNN report that actually compares the upcoming presidential inauguration to the Muslim hajj pilgrimage to Mecca! I kid you not!”

The report by CNN’s Zain Verjee suggested an inauguration trip “is similar to another grand event, in both size and preparations, the hajj, the most important religious pilgrimage in the Muslim world.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Danish Schools Caught Up in Palestinian Conflict

Barbed-wire fences and security guards are a regular part of many Jewish childrens’ school day. A number of school administrators have come forth in recent days to confirm that they recommend Jewish children should not enrol at their schools.

According to school administrators, law enforcement officials and social workers, the on-going conflict in Gaza has led to heightened tensions between Jews and Arabs — particularly Palestinians — here in Denmark. And although few headmasters of schools have faced the situation, most of those at schools with a high percentage of children of Arab descent say they try to prevent Jewish parents from enrolling their children there.

On Monday, headmaster Olav Nielsen of Humlehave School in Odense publicly admitted he would refuse Jewish parents’ wish to place their child at his school. The comments were made following an incident last week in which two Israeli citizen’s were shot and wounded at a city shopping centre. Police believe the incident was a reaction to the Gaza conflict.

Other headmasters have now come forth to support Nielsen’s position, adding that they are putting the child’s safety first. At Caroline Skole in Copenhagen’s Østerbro district, video cameras watch over the playground and entrances of the school, which is surrounded by a 2.5 metre-high barbed-wire fence.

One parent whose child goes to the Jewish school said thinking about the extra security can be disturbing at times, but she felt it was necessary. Rabbi Bent Lexner called the headmasters’ concern ‘theoretical. In reality, Jewish parents would never try to enrol their child in those schools.’

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Erdogan Signs Palestinian Flag

[Translated by VH]

Some 200 Palestinians have asked Erdogan to honor their flag by signing it. The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan recently expressed a lot of criticism of the West because of its policy towards Israel, getting a lot of sympathy for Palestinians.

In Hasselt [Flanders/Belgium] last weekend some 15,000 Turks gathered to meet the Prime Minister. The Palestinians present from various European countries welcomed the speech of Erdogan in sympathy for his support in the Gaza crisis. At the request of the Palestinians, the Prime Minister signed the flag with the text “We are together as one” followed by his signature.

“Erdogan has become a hero among the Palestinians. Despite his good relationship with the West he showed very clear criticism of their policies towards Gaza. He expresses himself and takes initiative. “We can not say that of all the other Arab leaders,” said the Palestinian Abdulnasser B.

Erdogan, who at the last elections gathered 47% of the Turkish votes, is receiving increasing sympathy of Arab nations. Erdogan wants next to gain a rapid accession to the European Union, and improve his relations with Arab countries. These were until recent not that good. Erdogan had made a call together with the Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero to a dialogue to improve the relationship between the East and the West.

Turkey has become since the beginning of January 2009 a member of the UN Security Council.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


EU States Monitor Spread of Civil Unrest

EU member states are “intensively” monitoring the risk of spreading civil unrest in Europe, as riots over the economic crisis erupt in Iceland following street clashes in Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Greece.

The worst street disturbances for 50 years struck Reykjavik on Thursday (22 January), as police streamed a hardcore of a few hundred anti-government protesters in the early morning with pepper spray and then tear gas after an earlier crowd of around 2,000 gathered outside the Althingi, the country’s parliament, to demand the government resign.

The crowds surrounded the building while banging pots and pans and shooting off fireworks. The demonstrators also lobbed paving stones, rolls of toilet paper and shoes. It was the second day of protests after on Wednesday protesters jostled Minister Geir Haarde’s limousine, pummelling it with cans of soft drinks and eggs.

The regular demonstrations have strained the government coalition, with the ruling Independence Party on Thursday saying it “realises that there will be elections this year.”

Iceland is not an EU member, but the protests could result in it being the first European country to see its government brought down by the economic crisis. “It’s a democracy that has its problems like many other states as a result of the economic crisis,” European Commission external relations spokeswoman Christiane Hohmann said.

The events in Iceland come hot on the heels of anti-government clashes in Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria in recent days, where economic discontent mixed with local issues erupted in violence. Trade unions in Greece meanwhile warn that further strikes are still likely, after protracted street fighting by students and young workers in December that caused billions in damage.

Concern about the spreading unrest is high on the EU agenda, as governments find it increasingly more expensive to borrow money, putting pressure on social programmes. “There are concerns. The EU shares them. It is one of the major challenges for the Spring European Council,” said a senior EU official, referring to the quarterly gathering of EU leaders.

EU ambassadors in Brussels are discussing the issue and receiving “regular updates”, according to another official, although he added that more intelligence on the situation is needed to see whether the riots are “part of a social trend” or manipulation by opposition elements..

Lithuania’s interior minister visited Latvia to discuss public security problems related to the economic crisis even before the Vilnius and Riga riots last week.

Lithuania is currently collecting “all available information about similar events in other member states” and sharing it with “concerned” countries Estonia, France, Germany and Latvia, a Lithuanian diplomat told the EUobserver. “Intensive share of information” is also taking place between the Baltic states and Poland, he added.

Following the ructions in Vilnius, 11 further peaceful demonstrations were organised around the country by trade-unions. “Due to the declining economic [situation] and problems raised by it, a possibility of similar meetings still remains, but we hope that riots will not be repeated,” he said.

More to come

In a Wednesday interview with the BBC, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, predicted that the economic downturn will cause more unrest. “[It could happen] almost everywhere, in Europe certainly, and also in emerging countries,” he said. “You’ve had some strikes that look like normal, usual strikes, but it may worsen in the coming months.” Asked which countries were most at risk, Mr Strauss-Kahn mentioned Hungary, Ukraine, Latvia and Belarus.. “It can be my own country [France], the UK, it can be eastern Europe,” he said.

“The situation is really, really serious,” he added.

More here: “Crisis meeting called on violent protest across Europe”

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Europe Reimports Jew Hatred

The mythical Arab Street now reaches deep into Paris, London, Berlin and Madrid.

“Give Giancarlo Desiderati credit for his unintellectual honesty. While most left-wing detractors of Israel claim their animosity toward the Jewish state has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, the head of a small Italian union, Flaica-Uniti-Cub, wasted no time with such sophism. Having long called for a boycott of Israeli goods, Mr. Desiderati last week made the logical next step. “Do not buy anything from businesses run by the Jewish community,” his group’s Web site urged Italians.

Jews around Europe are increasingly under attack since Israel decided two weeks ago to defend itself after years of rocket fire at its civilian population. There have been arson attempts on synagogues in Britain, Belgium and Germany. Police last week arrested Muslim protesters who wanted to enter the Jewish quarter in Antwerp. Several Danish schools with large Muslim student bodies say they won’t enroll Jewish kids because they can’t guarantee the children’s safety. In France, a group of teenagers attacked a 14-year-old girl last week, calling her “dirty Jew” while kicking her.

At rallies in Germany and the Netherlands over the past two weeks, protesters shouted, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas.” In Amsterdam, Socialist lawmaker Harry van Bommel and Greta Duisenberg, widow of the first European Central Bank president, marched at the front of one such “peace” demonstration. They didn’t join in the background chorus calling for another Holocaust. Instead, they chanted, “Intifada, Intifada, Free Palestine.” Mr. Van Bommel later insisted this wasn’t a call for Jewish blood but for “civil disobedience” — a laughable defense given that terrorists during the last intifada murdered more than 1,000 Israelis.

Most of the anti-Jewish violence and protests in Europe come from immigrants. In what may have been a Freudian recognition of the changing face of Europe, CNN two weeks ago used footage of anti-Israeli protesters in London in a report about the growing anger in the “Arab and Muslim world.” The mythical Arab Street now reaches deep into Paris, London, Berlin and Madrid.

After a burning car was rammed into a gate outside a synagogue in Toulouse last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a statement that was as morally confused as his judgment of Israel’s Gaza offensive. Mr. Sarkozy, who condemned both Hamas terror and Israel’s attempt to stop it, also blurred the distinction between the victims and perpetrators of anti-Semitism in France.

His country “will not tolerate international tensions mutating into intercommunity violence,” he warned, suggesting that the violence in France comes not only from French Muslims but Jews as well. Mr. Sarkozy’s comments also suggest that the fighting in Gaza is the cause for attacks on Jews in France — that is, that the Mideast conflict is fueling anti-Semitism in Europe. It is exactly the other way around.

The rage against the Jews that is exploding in Europe has been carefully nurtured; it is not spontaneous sympathy for fellow Muslims in Gaza. How else to explain the silence when Muslims in other conflicts, from Darfur to Chechnya, are being killed?

The depth of anti-Semitic propaganda in Palestinian and other Muslim societies is one of the most underreported facts about the Middle East. It is this anti-Semitism that predisposes Muslims in Europe to attack Jews and fuels the Mideast conflict. The hatred predates Israel’s creation. To illustrate this point: The Palestinian leader during World War II, Hajj Amin al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, conspired with Hitler to bring the Holocaust to Palestine. Luckily, the British stopped the German troops in Africa. The Mufti spent the war years in Berlin and was later indicted for war crimes but with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood escaped to Egypt. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas and other Islamists continue what the Mufti had helped to start: a blend of European anti-Semitism and Islam-inspired Jew hatred. The rejection of Israel’s right to exist is what drives their attacks. The media, though, largely ignores Hamas’s ideology and its crimes of hiding its leaders and weapons among its own civilian population, and demonizes Israel’s attempt to protect its citizens.

Hamas and other Islamists are not even trying to hide their ideology. Just read the Hamas charter or check out Hamas TV, including children’s programs, for a nauseating dose of murderous anti-Semitism. Last week, the French broadcasting authorities banned Hamas TV for inciting violence and hatred. Unfortunately, just like Hezbollah TV, which is also banned in Europe for its anti-Semitic and jihadi content, audiences here can still receive these programs due to Saudi Arabia’s Arabsat and Egyptian satellite provider Nilesat.

The Islamist variation of Jew hatred is now being reimported to Europe. Muslims in Europe, watching Hamas and Hezbollah TV with their satellite dishes, are being fed the same diet of anti-Semitism and jihadi ideology that Palestinians and much of the Middle East consume.

This brings a unique challenge to the difficult integration of Muslims in Europe. When it comes to issues like Shariah law and terrorism, one can expect a true “clash of civilizations.” There is no Western tradition that would justify “honor killings.” Anti-Semitism, on the other hand, is not alien to Europe’s culture — to the contrary, the Continent once excelled at it and many still share the feeling.

A Pew study from September shows 25% of Germans and 20% of French are still affected by this virus. In Spain, 46% have unfavorable views of Jews. Is there really no connection between this statistic and the fact that the Spanish media and government are among Europe’s most hostile toward the Jewish state? Is it just a coincidence that Europe’s largest anti-Israel demonstration took place Sunday in Spain, with more than 100,000 protesters?

A 2006 study in the Journal of Conflict Resolution based on the survey in 10 European countries suggests otherwise. Yale University’s Edward H.. Kaplan and Charles A. Small found “that anti-Israel sentiment consistently predicts the probability that an individual is anti-Semitic, with the likelihood of measured anti-Semitism increasing with the extent of anti-Israel sentiment observed.”

With little hope that the media coverage will become more balanced and the incitement of the growing Muslim community will abate, the Jews in Europe are facing uncertain times.”

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


France: Rachida to Leave Gov to Try for European

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JANUARY 23 — Rachida Dati, the French Justice Minister and a new mother, is thought to have chosen to leave the government to stand for the UMP, Nicolas Sarkozy’s neo-Gaullist party, in the forthcoming European elections. The list would be headed by the current Agricultural Minister, Michel Barnier; Dati would be, according to the newspaper Le Figaro, the second in command. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


France: the Engineer of Diversity

Recently Nicolas Sarkozy announced plans to pursue a vigorous policy of diversity and métissage. Concretely, this means giving preference to minorities in job hiring and prosecuting those who do not comply. In other words, affirmative action as a government policy from which none are exempt.

My recent post entitled “Métissage — Now It’s an Obligation” reviews some of the highlights of his address.

In his message Sarkozy insisted that the French people must change, that there will be dire consequences if they don’t, and that not to intermarry racially is bad for the survival of the country. Thus he amalgamated the concepts of preference for minorities in job hiring with that of the need for the French to intermarry racially.

These are two separate things. But in the mind of Sarkozy they go together. Last December he chose a highly successful Algerian-born businessman, known as an impassioned advocate of diversity, Yazid Sabeg, to be his “high commissioner on diversity and equal opportunity”, and to implement these government orders.

It is well-known that in France ethnic statistics are forbidden by law, so in order to determine how many minorities are employed in any given enterprise, Sabeg will have to use all his resourcefulness, as this article from Le Figaro points out…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Greece: Athens Erupts in Violence After Acid Attack on Immigrant

Police in Greece clashed with gangs of youths throwing petrol bombs and stones on Thursday night, a month on from the country’s worst civil unrest in decades.

Police officers in central Athens fired tear gas to dispel the rioters, who peeled off from a protest which had been organised in solidarity with a Bulgarian migrant worker who was attacked with acid last month.

Kostadinka Kuneva, 44, a Bulgarian cleaning lady and a union official, is in hospital in a serious condition after the Dec 22 attack by two unidentified men who ambushed her outside her home and threw acid in her face.

The march to the Labour Ministry, which involved about 3,000 demonstrators, had started out peacefully.

Demonstrators carried banners reading “Kostandinka, you’re not alone,” and “Stop violence against immigrants”.

But violence flared when a group of around 30 self-declared anarchists and left-wing activists set rubbish bins alight and smashed paving stones for ammunition to throw at police.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Italy: Envoys Boycott Israeli Speech at UN Agency

Rome, 23 Jan. (AKI) — Representatives from African, Latin American and Middle Eastern countries walked out of a speech by an Israeli envoy at the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development headquarters in Rome on Friday. The walkout was reportedly organised by a Syrian official to protest against the three-week long Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip (photo) that killed at least 1,300 people as well as the ongoing blockade imposed on the coastal territory.

“Representatives of the Asian, African, Middle East and Latin America groups rejected the presence of an Israeli representative to an important fund that cares about agricultural development, overcoming poverty and starvation all over the world,” said Syria’s envoy Bashar Aqbek, cited by the Syrian government’s official news agency SANA.

The meeting at IFAD was being held in the Italian capital to elect a new chairman. The organisation’s media office could not be contacted on Friday to confirm or deny what happened.

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday expressed renewed concern about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

It said thousands of people have been left homeless and about 300,000 have no access to piped water or sewerage in Gaza after Israel’s military offensive.

To counter accusations of alleged war crimes against Israeli army officers after the Gaza attacks, Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak proposed a bill on Friday to provide state aid and support to army officers if they faced lawsuits.

The Israeli cabinet is expected to consider the resolution on Sunday, according to Israeli media reports.

The bill, entitled “Strengthening the Israel Defense Force’s hand after Operation Cast Lead,” was coordinated by the Israeli ministries of defence and justice as well as the state prosecutor.

“As an army which is unsurpassed in its moral traditions, the IDF has done all that it can in order to adhere to international law, in order to avoid harming civilians who are not involved in fighting,” said Barak.

Barak instead blamed the Islamist Hamas movement for the civilian deaths.

“Nonetheless, Hamas cynically uses its civilians in a manner that places responsibility for the results upon their shoulders.”

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


Man Kills 2 Kids, Wounds 10 More in Belgium

A young man with a gruesomely painted black-and-white face went on a rampage at a Belgian day care center Friday, stabbing two babies and a female worker to death and seriously wounding 12 others.

Sobbing parents rushed to the scene and to nearby hospitals. Shocked rescue workers spoke of finding crying, bleeding toddlers scattered inside the center. Medical workers at six hospitals sprang into action, performing emergency operations to save the 10 children and two adults badly wounded in the attack.

“This was a particularly violent attack. All the kids had multiple stab wounds on their legs, arms, and all over their bodies,” Dr. Ignace Demeyer, head of emergency services at Our Lady Hospital in nearby Aalst, told reporters.

The shocking assault caused panic and outrage in the town 20 miles (30 kilometers) northwest of Brussels, where the day care center sits on a residential street.

“An act of great brutality has happened here against our weakest citizens,” said mayor Buyse Piet. “The whole city is united in support for the parents who are in deep grief.”

Prosecutor Christian Du Four said the 20-year-old attacker rode his bike up to the Fabeltjesland day care center about 10 a.m., found it unlocked and went in.

“After he entered he started slashing at everyone he ran into … the day care workers, the children,” Du Four told a news conference.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Norwegian Envoy: Israelis and Nazis the Same

A Norwegian diplomat based in Saudi Arabia has sent out e-mails from her Foreign Ministry e-mail account equating Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza with the systematic mass murder of six million Jews by the Nazis.

The e-mail, sent out by Trine Lilleng, a first secretary at the Norwegian Embassy in Riyadh, includes a juxtaposition of black-and-white pictures from the Holocaust with color images of Operation Cast Lead. “The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany,” the e-mail states.

A copy of the e-mail was obtained by The Jerusalem Post.

The 40-plus pictures included as attachments in the e-mail include the famous image of a Jewish boy with his hands raised as a German soldier points his gun at him, next to an image of an Israeli soldier aiming his weapon at a Palestinian boy.

Another depicts a German soldier firing his weapon, next to an IDF soldier shooting his, while others juxtapose the barbed wire surrounding ghettos and concentration camps to the fence around Gaza, and the West Bank security barrier. The e-mail asks recipients to forward the message to others.

Reached on her cellphone in Riyadh, Lilleng told the Post she had sent the message to “a few friends” in a “private e-mail,” and had not sent any copy to the Post. She would not say whether it was proper for her to use her ministry e-mail account for such a controversial message. “I am not interested in saying anything about that,” she said.

The Oslo-based Center Against Anti-Semitism in Norway, which has filed an official complaint with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, said it was appalled by the distribution of “clearly anti-Semitic propaganda” by a ministry official.

“The Center Against Anti-Semitism regrets that Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is thus contributing to the intensification of anti-Semitic tendencies, which lately have been quite visible in the Norwegian media, and which have been reproved by both us and by international experts,” the center’s director, Erez Uriely, wrote to Støre.

The center noted that the Norwegian government, along with other European governments, has sought to play a role as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part of an Egyptian-proposed agreement. “We fail to see that the distribution of anti-Semitic pictures is compatible with such a role,” the letter states.

The center has asked the Norwegian Foreign Ministry to recall the disseminated pictures immediately and to apologize publicly for the incident. The letter was hand-delivered to the ministry in Oslo on Tuesday.

“This demonization of both Israel and the Jews must stop,” said group spokeswoman Dr. Rachel Suissa.

The Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv did not immediately respond when asked for comment on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Rise in Attacks Prompts Renewed Fears for French Jews

The spike of anti-Semitic attacks across Europe during Israel’s three-week war in Gaza has struck a raw nerve here, reviving fears among French Jews that the violence of the second intifada years has returned to their country..

During the intifada earlier in the decade, a sustained surge in attacks against French Jews and the government’s perceived lackluster response prompted many Jews to fear for their future in France, with some leaving the country.

The government’s belated crackdown on the violence and the election in May 2007 of a new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, with warm ties to Israel and the Jewish community allayed the fears of many and helped tamper anti-Semitic attacks.

But the attacks returned this month with the latest conflagration in the Middle East, enraging French Muslims and resulting in near-daily assaults against Jews for the duration of the Gaza war. “They are more worried about their safety. They are more afraid than before,” said Rabbi Mendel Belinow, leader of a Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue and outreach center in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis that was firebombed Jan. 11.

Two of the nine Molotov cocktails thrown at his synagogue ignited, burning part of the center’s cafeteria. No injuries were reported, though the rabbi was in the building at the time and was believed to have been a target.

The synagogue, located in a heavily immigrant suburb known for its high crime and poverty rates, also was attacked in 2005 when “Death to the Jews” was scrawled on its inner walls.

Over the past few weeks, the Jewish community has seen attacks ranging from firebombings to stabbings. The government’s inability to protect them from violence, despite the efforts of French authorities, has generated a renewed sense of unease in the French Jewish community, which numbers roughly 600,000 in a country of 60 million. France has 5 million to 6 million Muslims.

“It’s harder to reassure them now,” Belinow said of his approximately 160 congregants.

While the current cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is expected to diminish anti-Jewish violence, pro-Palestinian groups have promised to continue with their anti-Israel protests. Such demonstrations in France, which have drawn tens of thousands, commonly have ended in riots and are a mouthpiece for virulent anti-Zionism, including the burning of Israeli flags. Jews and synagogues have been attacked following protests by a fringe of violent youths.

Jewish community leaders warn that fears of further attack will disrupt the daily routines of Jews and intimidate them into hiding their religious identity — and if the volatile situation is not controlled, to flee the country.

In Toulouse, where institutions were mostly spared from violence during the second intifada, Rabbi Jonathan Guez said he and congregants were shocked and unprepared when a car containing firebombs was rammed into the front gate of their synagogue and exploded on Jan. 5.

Guez said Jews would now be “more discreet” about displaying their religion publicly and careful about avoiding troubled neighborhoods. The few Jews who still live in government-subsidized housing projects are thinking about leaving the area, and the synagogue will be heavily secured with cameras and patrol units for the first time, Guez said.

During the violence in France during the second intifada, some French Jews fearful of anti-Semitism pulled their children from public schools and enrolled them in private Jewish schools, began wearing baseball caps on their heads to hide their yarmulkes, moved out of mixed Muslim-Jewish neighborhoods or immigrated to Israel.

But as the attacks against Jews waned, so did French aliyah, dropping to 1,910 in 2008 from 2,700 the year before. Oren Toledano, the director of the Paris-based aliyah department for the Jewish Agency for Israel, called this the “Sarkozy Effect,” attributing it to the popularity of the French president among French Jews and the sense of security Sarkozy’s election gave them.

In the past three weeks, Toledano said, his phone has begun ringing off the hook again, with many French Jews considering aliyah calling to accelerate the process.

Many Jews fear Sarkozy alone isn’t enough to reassure the community. When French politicians considered friends of Israel chose not to attend pro-Israel rallies in some French cities during the latest war, some Jews said they again felt abandoned by their lawmakers.

“One president who supports Israel doesn’t mean Jews will feel represented,” said Patrick Gaubert, president of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism. “One president is great, but it’s not enough.”

Frédéric Encel, a geopolitical scholar and expert on French-Israel ties, says the situation is still far better than it was at the start of the second intifada. Some French authorities were seen then as explaining away anti-Jewish crime in France. Now the country has a president and foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, invested in brokering Middle East peace.

On Jan. 16, Prime Minister Francois Fillon held a meeting of government ministers to prevent the import of the Israel-Hamas conflict to France. The meeting pledged swifter measures to punish perpetrators of xenophobic crimes, special judges trained in anti-Semitism and tighter security at pro-Palestinian protests, according to a report by the French news agency AFP.

As the government fine-tunes its security measures, community dialogue activists say the Gaza war destroyed years of efforts to prevent a repetition of the violent reaction in France to the second intifada.

On Monday, the Grand Mosque of Paris confirmed to the JTA that its members had pulled out from a major interreligious dialogue group, the French Judeo-Muslim Friendship organization. The mosque issued a statement last week complaining of the “total absence of condemnations” of Israel’s operation in Gaza from the group’s Jewish contingent, according to AFP.

The Jewish representative to the group, Rabbi Michel Serfaty, insisted he would not slow his efforts with the remaining Muslims in the group, which was assembled five years ago. “Prejudice can’t be changed overnight,” Serfaty said.

“It’s possible that what happens thousands of kilometers away can undo all our work,” acknowledged a member of the Council of Jewish Communities, Andre Benayoun, at a synagogue in southern Paris on Jan. 16, where a back door was set ablaze by arsonists the day before.

Among other things, the council urges local politicians to prevent anti-Semitism through security measures and dialogue with Muslim leaders. “We can never let our arms down, never resign,” Benayoun said of efforts to reach out to Muslims. We must “just start over systematically.”

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


UK: 150,000 Foreigners Swell UK Workforce: Record Number Get Permits as Britons Lose Jobs

[Comment from JD: In 1997, the number of permits was 42,800.]

Ministers were criticised last night for issuing a record 151,635 work permits to foreigners as Britain slid into recession.

The document lets non-EU workers take or keep jobs here, even though hundreds of thousands of Britons are losing theirs.

Unemployment rose by 290,000 in the same period, from December 1, 2007 to November 30, 2008, to reach 1.92m — the most since September 1997. Up to 2,500 workers a day are losing their jobs.

MPs said it made a mockery of Gordon Brown’s promise in 2007 to deliver ‘British jobs for British workers’.

The number of permits given to non-EU citizens is crucial to protecting British jobs as ministers have no control over the movement of EU nationals.

But rather than cutting the permits in 2008, the total increased. In 2007, when the economy was growing, 129,700 were approved. In 1997, the year Labour came to power, only 42,800 were handed out.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘ This further undermines Gordon Brown’s crass and unwise boast that he would deliver “British jobs for British workers” and is more evidence why Labour are not capable of guiding us through recession.

‘This Government has run out of ideas and is taking Britain in the wrong direction.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: 80 Foreign Murderers Welcomed to Britain…

Albanian killers allowed to stay despite being on Interpol “wanted” list

Eighty foreign killers are exploiting the chaotic asylum system to set up home in Britain, it was revealed yesterday.

The convicted murderers from Albania have been given British passports despite being officially listed as “wanted” by Interpol.

Most slipped across the Channel from Calais to Dover hidden in the back of lorries on ferries. They used bogus names and false papers to claim asylum, often pretending to be from the war-torn Balkan republic of Kosovo.

The scandal came to light when Albania’s chief of police complained that 100 criminals from his country have been granted British citizenship and now live here.

The police chief said the criminals have been allowed to stay even though the Albanian government has informed the Home Office of the true identities of the men and their crimes, which also include rape and robbery.

Many of the convicted criminals have been living in the UK for up to ten years and have started new families here.

As the revelations exposed the shambles within the asylum system yet again, campaigners expressed their outrage.

[…]

Meanwhile, many continue to live off state hand-outs while others have gone on to commit crimes in Britain.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Bishop’s Holocaust Remarks Spark Outrage, Threaten Jewish-Vatican Ties

The Vatican’s relations with Jews risked a new crisis Friday after an excommunicated British bishop — reportedly in line for rehabilitation — said that historical evidence “is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed” during World War II.

Two Italian newspapers reported Thursday that Pope Benedict XVI planned to lift the excommunication of Richard Williamson and three other bishops punished for having been consecrated without papal consent 20 years ago by the late French conservative Archbishop Marcel Lefevbre.

The Vatican declined to comment on the reports, but Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi suggested Friday that such a decree would be made public soon.

[…]

Williamson made his comments in an interview with Swedish state TV while in Germany in November; the broadcast was aired Wednesday night.

He said the Nazis did not use gas chambers.

“I believe that the historical evidence … is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler,” he said.

He cited what he called the “most serious” revisionists who he said had concluded that “between 200,000-300,000 perished in Nazi concentration camps, but not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber.”

Vatican officials declined Friday to comment on his remarks.

Lefebvre rebelled against the Vatican’s modernizing reforms of the 1960s, which included reaching out to other religions and replacing Latin with local languages at Mass.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Council Tax Levy for Being Middle Class…

Labour plan to base bills on social background

Homeowners may have to pay more council tax than local authority tenants in identical properties under plans that could lead to ‘class war’, the Conservatives warned last night.

At present, they would be in the same tax band. But the Government wants to base bills on the social background of homeowners, it is claimed.

Privately-owned homes would be penalised because they are not in ‘social ownership’, according to the Tories.

Ministers are developing a computer database with details of all four million council properties in Britain — and handing the details to council tax inspectors. The news comes as Labour seeks to introduce ‘Harman’s Law’ — a proposal that would force all public bodies to consider social background as well as race, age, gender, disability and sexuality.

The blueprint, unveiled this month by deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, prompted fears that the better-off could see a squeeze on their access to everything from health care to school places.

Shadow local government spokesman Caroline Spelman said: ‘No one would dispute that council tax for a large detached house should be more than for a small terrace.

‘But it is unfair to hit families with higher council tax bills purely because of who they are.

‘Labour’s only response after a decade of failing to help poor families is to hammer everyone else with higher taxes. Taxing hard work and success is just the hypocritical politics of envy and will do nothing to improve social mobility.

‘Ministers have been watching too much Life on Mars and want to drag the whole country back to the Seventies. Caroline Spelman

Tory MP Caroline Spelman says Labour is playing the ‘politics of envy’

‘Gordon Brown’s plans to reignite class war and bring back socialism are a desperate and cynical move to win back his disillusioned core vote.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Church Vows to Keep Faith With Its Schools, Despite Muslim Majority

Christian families are such a rarity in some inner-city communities that two Church of England schools now cater exclusively for Muslim pupils, The Times has learnt.

In many church primary schools in English cities, more than half of the pupils are Muslim. In at least a dozen such schools, more than 80 per cent are from Islamic homes.

Five church schools, in Blackburn, Birmingham, Bradford, Oldham and London, have become 99 per cent Muslim and in two — another school in Blackburn and one in Dewsbury — every pupil is Muslim.

The Church has defended its continuing educational role in such areas and is putting £750,000 towards the construction of a new primary school in Blackburn whose intake will be almost 100 per cent Muslim. The Times has been told that some parishes in the town — where eight of the 24 church primary schools have a majority of Muslim pupils — have questioned the justification for the investment.

[…]

For four years Ruth Weston was a governor at a church school in the Girlington area of Bradford, where 96 per cent of pupils were Muslim, many still learning to speak English. Mrs Weston, a Christian theologian, said she enrolled her daughter at the school because she wanted to support multiculturalism, but “after much soul-searching” withdrew her after three terms.

“When push came to shove, my daughter’s welfare came first. She was not thriving socially or educationally in an environment where she was the only girl of her religion, culture and first language,” she said.

Most of her white neighbours sent their offspring to a secular school 15 minutes’ walk away, across a busy main road, rather than to their local, almost exclusively Muslim, church school. Mrs Weston said that while some may have been motivated by latent racism, it was “a sad irony” that Christian families felt it necessary to turn their backs on a church school.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Gay Paedophile Lovers Abused Boys in Flat They Were Allowed to Share ‘Because of Human Rights Legislation’

Two predatory paedophile lovers who abused young boys at their flat were jailed indefinitely today.

Stephen Carruthers, 49, and John Bates, 45, began their relationship in prison while serving lengthy sentences for similar sex offences.

The authorities were powerless to prevent them living together on their release because of human rights legislation, Preston Crown Court heard.

The pair, who both have a string of paedophile convictions dating back to the early 1980s, met in Strangeways prison in Manchester and then went on to live in Blackpool, Lancashire.

They used enticements of money and boasts of celebrity connections to lure four 14-year-olds to their ground floor flat in Caunce Street in the resort.

Sentencing the pair to indeterminate sentences, Judge Christopher Cornwall said: ‘The simple dreadful reality in this matter in my judgment is you are incorrigible, predatory paedophiles.

‘You simply cannot resist the temptation of making contact with boys with the purpose of abusing them for your own sexual gratification.

‘The harm that you have caused to each of those boys is hard to calculate. What they all have in common is that you were intent on exploiting them and their innocence.

‘You have cast a very dark shadow over their early teens.’

Judge Cornwall added: ‘I have no doubt you pose an extremely high and significant risk of causing very serious harm to other boys in the future, just as you have done on every single occasion you have been released from prison.

‘You are both extremely dangerous. No under-age boy is safe in your company..’

Carruthers was ordered to serve a minimum of five-and-half years in jail before he can be considered for parole after he was convicted of three counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child, grooming and child abduction.

Bates must serve at least four-and-half years for committing three counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child and one of child abduction.

However, the judge said he wanted to ‘make it abundantly clear’ that both were facing lengthy prison terms.

‘I do not expect any application for release to the Parole Board to succeed for a very long time,’ he said.

Both men were disqualified from working with children for life and must not have any unsupervised contact with children.

The Probation Service and police were aware the men — both on the Sex Offenders Register — were living together but could only monitor them.

Even if the couple are eventually released they will still be able to move back in together under current laws.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Balkans

EU-Croatia: Zagreb Agrees to EU Mediation With Slovenia

(ANSAmed) — ZAGREB, JANUARY 22 — The Croatian Premier, Ivo Sanader, has happily greeted the help offered by the European Commission aimed at resolving the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia, which is blocking Zagreb’s talks for adhesion to the European Union. “I welcome the European Commission’s initiative”, said Prime Minister Sanader to the Hina press agency, at the end of a meeting in Zagreb today with the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn. According to a memo from the EU delegation in Zagreb, Rehn has extended the same proposal to the Slovenian authorities, saying that: “If the two countries think that European mediation could be of use, then the Commission is ready to look at the idea”. No details were released, however, on the content of the European Union’s initiative. At the UE-Croatia meeting held in December, Slovenia vetoed nine of the 354 chapters for negotiating Croatiàs adhesion to the Union, due to a long-running border dispute between the two countries which dates back to their declarations of independence in 1991. Sanader has noted that despite the dispute, Slovenia made it into the EU and said that “if Slovenia got in, then Croatia can too”. The Croatian prime minister asserted that “the rules are the same for all and we cannot accept a policy of two different standards”. The Croatian President, Stipe Mesic, also met with Commissioner Rehn today and said that Zagreb is ready to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice if a solution cannot be reached. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Kosovo: Saatchi & Saatchi to Renew International Image

(ANSAmed) — PRISTINA, JANUARY 23 — Saatchi & Saatchi, the great British advertising agency known in all the world, will be behind the creation of a new international image of independent Kosovo, which is looking towards modernisation and initiating contacts with investors. So said a spokesperson for the Kosovan Finance Minister, Muharrem Shahini in Pristina, according to whom Saatchi&Saatchi accepted a contract worth 5.7 million euro and will therefore be in charge of promoting the image of Kosovo throughout the world as a stable country which is open to foreign investment. To this end, a logo and a media campaign has been commissioned. The advertising initiative has begun just less than a year since Kosovòs unilateral declaration of independence on February 17 2008, which has been recognised by 54 countries (out of a total of 192 present in the United Nations), and including the United Sates, the major members of the European Union, including Italy. Spain and Russia are on the other hand contrary to Kosovòs independence, as, obviously, is Serbia, which continues to consider Kosovo, a region with a majority Albanian population, as one of its own southern provinces. Saatchi&Saatchi was founded in 1970 by Maurice and Charles, the latter is a well known art magnate and collector, and the brains behind many cultural events in London. The Saatchi brothers were born into a Jewish family in Baghdad. Known throughout the world, Saatchi&Saatchi have managed publicity campaigns for businesses, groups, companies and also political parties, including Labour and the Conservatives in Britain. The company has representative offices in 80 countries, and its general base is in New York. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Kosovo Albanian Separatists Hire Propaganda Firm

By Serbianna — Kosovo Islamic Albanian separatists have hired a propaganda company Saatchi & Saatchi to portray their government in a positive image. Separatists are to pay pay $7.3 million for the propaganda spreading. The separatists have chosen an Israel based unit to run “international branding”.

Kosovo was recognized as a “nation” by several states, mostly in the West, after they violated numerous international accords that they are signatories to. Ethnic Serbs have and are being ethnically cleansed in Kosovo.. The Albanian separatists officials that have hired the propaganda company have been involved in planning and execution of the ethnic cleansing campaigns.

Vast number of countries in the world have not recognized Kosovo separatists and are awaiting the ruling by the International Court of Justice on whether such recognition were indeed illegal. The Saatchi & Saatchi advertising company is owned by the Paris based communications company Publicis Groupe.

— See also:

Saatchi & Saatchi to spice up Kosovo’s image

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Kosovo Army Violates UN Rules

The Kosovo Security Forces or KSF formed by NATO troops in the province is an illegal paramilitary group that violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 says Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic. The minister said that Serbia will exert every possible diplomatic method to to get the decision reversed.

In Rome, the State Secretary in the Serbian Defense Ministry Dusan Spasojevic said that Serbia is dissatisfied by the decision of NATO that Kfor should be involved in the formation of the so-called Kosovo Security Forces. Speaking at a ceremony marking the 130 years of Serbian — Italian diplomatic relations, Spasojevic said that such a decision has jeopardized NATO’s neutral status on Kosovo.

The Secretary also said that the formation of KSF increases insecurity in the region by fueling Albanian separatist intentions inside Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, and serves as a model to revise the Bosnia Dayton peace accords. “Serbia continues to face significant risks and threats to its security, especially following the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo and Metohija. The attempt to change the borders of Serbia could result in lasting instability and threaten the security and stability of the countries of the region,” the statement said.

Minister for Kosovo and Metohija Goran Bogdanovic said that Serbs in Kosovo are against KSF because it is made up of people that are ethnically cleansing them. “At this point, it is unnecessary to form new armed forces, when Kosovo is becoming a powder keg and when there are between 350,000 and 400,000 long barrels in Kosovo,” Bogdanovic said.

State Secretary of the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija Oliver Ivanovic told that KFOR and NATO must have full control over the KSF.

Serbs will experience the KSF, which will include mainly Albanians, as a threat. At present, KFOR and NATO have an important role and they must have full control over the movement and conduct of people dressed in uniforms,” Ivanovic said.

Ivanovic warned that KSF may increase tensions between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo. “I believe that this might introduce additional tension between Serbs and Albanians, and I believe that no one will profit from the tension. On the contrary, both sides will be at a loss,” Ivanovic said.

A so-called prime minister of Kosovo’s separatist government said that the KSF will be multiethnic. “The KSF will be a multiethnic force, serving all citizens of Kosovo and will enjoy full support of the international community. It will act in compliance with the Constitution of Kosovo and NATO standards,” Thaci said.

Only one Serb is serving in the KSF force.

NATO Principal Spokesman in Brussels James Appathurai has said that the Kosovo Security Force is not an army and that Kosovo needs security forces irrespective of the question of its status, specifying that the forces will be under civilian control and politically neutral.

It was necessary to dissolve the Kosovo Protection Corps and to form new security forces, Appathurai said, and this fundamental change took place due to several reasons first of which is that the new forces will be multiethnic, with a Serb as the probable deputy commander.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Rival Muslims in Serbia Shoot Each Other

Posters in Serbia’s largest Muslim town of Novi Pazar have appeared this morning demanding that a leader of the Muslim political party, Sandzak’s Democratic Party, Rasim Ljajic answer who hired the killers of Minister Sulejman Ugljanin.

“Rasim Ljajic tell the people who shot at Minister Sulejman Ugljanin. WHo hired the killers — you or Mirsad Djerlek,” says the poster. Rasim Ljajic is currently a Ministry of Labor and Social Policy in the Serbian government. Sulejman Ugljanin is a minister without portfolio for Sustainable Development. Mirsad Djerlek is a Mayor of Novi Pazar.

The accusations come after a brawl in Novi Pazar this Saturday between rival Muslim parties when weapons were drawn and six people were injured. The fight broke out over which political party has a right to use government owned facilities for their meetings.

Chief of Ugljanin’s political party in Novi Pazar, Dr. Dzeva Memic, accused the Mayor of the city for casing the problems. “Djerlek is the main culprit for all these violent attacks, he knows who was shooting. If he does not say who it is then he is the part of the criminal act,” said Memic.

A representative from Ljajic’s political party, Meho Omerovic denounced the accusations against Ljajic as monstrous. “We thought that the stupidities that Sulejman Ugljanin speaks do not merit any specific comment or an answer. However, after the most recent monstrous accusation that the incident in Novi Pazar is an attempt to kill organized by Rasim Ljajic, we will and we cannot keep silent,” said Omerovic.

Ljajic refused to make any comments.

Meanwhile, the police union in Novi Pazar is seeking protection from attacks on police officers. The union called upon political leaders to stop satanizing the police. “Attacks on certain representatives of the Police leadership in Novi Pazar are not attacks on individuals but attacks on the entire police service,” says the union.

Among the six people injured at the weekend inter Muslim fighting two were policemen.

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic met with Ministers Ljajic and Ugljanin to express concern over the incidents which took place in Novi Pazar over the weekend. “It is not good that an essentially real estate dispute is being transformed into a political problem and cause of instability and riots,” Serbia’s Prime Minister Cvetkovic said.

Cvetkovic assessed the current situation in Novi Pazar as calm and under control but independent reports suggest that the situation, although calm, is full of tension.

Serbian government’s public relations office announced that the Prime Minister Cvetkovic demanded from the institutions of the system to act in keeping with the law, in an unbiased and conscientious way, and to make the corresponding decisions to resolve the dispute.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

France: in Strasbourg First Degree in Islamic Finance

(ANSAmed) — STRASBOURG, JANUARY 21 — The Strasbourg Management School (EMS) has today opened its first degree course in Islamic finance, designed for students wanting to learn about Islamic law and Islamic financial and banking systems. The first class of the new course is made up of 36 students of different nationalities, French, German, Swiss, Tunisian, Algerian, and for eleven months they will complete around 405 hours of lessons, at the end of which they will be able to aspire to, for example, the roles of managers of muslim funds, the School says. The inauguration of the course, EMS explained, was decided following the belief that ‘‘financial institutions and regulatory authorities are increasingly involved with the new economic players who have ethical and religious ambitions in their finances and investments’’. At the end of the course, the students will be able to take posititions of responsibility in the banking sector, in insurance and in finance. A similar degree already exists in Great Britain, the country hosting Europe’s foremost Islamic finance industry, and there are many courses available on the Internet, but in France this is an absolute innovation. Ibrahim Zeyyad Cekici, a law teacher and researcher at EMS, said ‘‘Islamic finance represents another way of investing, another way of purchasing a good. It prefers to avoid uncertain transactions.’’ Islamic finance, in fact, must respect the precepts of the Koran. Certain business sectors are forbidden, such as alcohol, arms and pig rearing. And for every financing or investment there must be a real credit, and therefore it does not deal with credit transfers or variable interest rates. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza: Press Claims Iranian Divers Supplied Hamas With Weapons

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JANUARY 23 — Israeli newspaper Maariv has claimed that Iranian divers were used to secretly deliver weapons to Hamas in Gaza. Military sources told the newspaper that ships hired by Iran crossed the Suez Canal and stopped in Egyptian waters close to the Palestinian city of Rafah, in the far south of the Gaza Strip. Then, the newspaper claims, the weapons supplies were dropped into the sea in special containers after nightfall and taken by divers close to Palestinian fishing boats which were waiting nearby. Finally, these boats hauled the containers towards the Gaza coast where Hamas took delivery of them. The newspaper did not clarify the frequency of the deliveries, nor how many weapons were smuggled in overall. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Gaza: Rabbo Claims Hamas Tortures Fatah Supporters in Gaza

(ANSAmed) — RAMALLAH, JANUARY 23 — The Jerusalem Post reports that Yasser Abed Rabbo, a leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), has accused Hamas of having used hospitals, schools and universities in the Gaza Strip for the detention and torture of members of al-Fatah suspected of “collaborating” with Israel. According to Rabbo, Hamas intends to “exploit” the bloodshed in Gaza to hide its long-term plans, alleged to be the definitive separation of Gaza from the West Bank. “We will not allow this plot to bear fruit”, assured Rabbo, adding: “we will not allow Hamas to destroy our national project. Whatever the cost”. Haaretz, another Israeli newspaper, cites a source from the Palestinian National Authority who says that during Operation dubbed ‘Cast Lead’ and in the days following the ceasefire, Hamas has killed 19 members of al-Fatah, wounded 80 more, and arrested about 400. The PNA claims that al-Fatah’s attempts to carry out political activities in Gaza have been systematically repressed. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Israel: Survey Shows Electorate’s Shift to Right

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JANUARY 23 — Israeli Daily newspaper Maariv has today shown that the country’s electorate moved to the right during Operation Cast Lead. The shift in public opinion means that the idea that an Israeli government based essentially on Benyamin Netanyahùs Likud party and Avigor Liberman’s radical right-wing Israel Beitenu party coming to powee following the February 10 elections is beginning to take hold. According to Maariv, if elections were held today Israel’s main party would be Likud (28 seats out of 120), followed by Kadima (24), Labour (16), Israel Beitenu (16) and orthodox party Shas (9). Yediot Ahronot, another newspaper, presents a less clean-cut view of the situation, which confirms Likud in the lead over Kadima (29 and 25 seats, respectively) whilst forecasting that Israel Beitenu would win 14 seats. With regard to the Labour party, however, the newspaper provides two different predictions: on the front page it claims that the party would win 17 seats, whilst an inside page claims that they would obtain 19 seats. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Israel: Hamas Slammed for ‘Monstrous’ Use of Civilians

Reports emerging of women, children placed in line of Israeli fire

HERZLIYA, Israel — In the aftermath of Israel’s three-week offensive targeting Hamas in the Gaza Strip, reports are emerging of how the terrorists used civilians during the conflict.

“Entire families in Gaza lived on top of a barrel of explosives for months without knowing,” stated Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg.

Eisenberg charged Hamas sent civilians, including women and children, to transfer weapons to gunmen engaged in battles with Israeli forces, and he accused Hamas of booby-trapping many of the civilians’ homes. He labeled Hamas’ alleged use of civilians as “monstrous” and “inhumane.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Israel Warns Soldiers of Prosecution Abroad for Gaza ‘War Crimes’

Israel has warned military officers and senior officials that a threat of prosecution for alleged war crimes in Gaza could hinder future travel abroad.

At least four human rights groups are believed to be compiling suits alleging that Israelis perpetrated war crimes in planning or carrying out the three-week operation Cast Lead.

Daniel Friedman, Israel’s justice minister, was appointed to head a special task force to defend individuals detained abroad and the military censor declared that names of officers from lieutenant to colonel must not be published.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Mideast: Israel and Egypt Move to Stop Arms Into Gaza

Gaza City, 23 Jan. (AKI) — Israel and Egypt have taken steps to increase security and stop arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip from Egypt. The move came amid unconfirmed claims that Israelis are also smuggling arms into the Palestinian territories from Israel.

Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, defence minister Ehud Barak and foreign minister Tzipi Livni approved new security arrangements at a cabinet meeting late Thursday, following recent talks with officials in Cairo to address the issue.

The Israeli cabinet measures include the creation of possible checkpoints in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, as well as moves to prevent smuggling boats from docking at Port Said.

Livni and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently signed a memorandum of understanding intended to stop the ruling Hamas movement from rearming in Gaza and to stop arms smuggling.

The memorandum outlines the appropriate measures to be taken by the US, Egypt and other countries.

The technical details of the proposed arrangements were endorsed during recent discussions between Amos Gilad, a top Israeli defence official, and officials in Cairo, including intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

Meanwhile, the secretary-general of Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights, Mukhlis Qutub, said that Egypt has proof of weapons smuggling from Israel to Gaza and said there was evidence that Israeli soldiers sold weapons from army depots.

“Egypt has documented proof of the existence of arms smuggling from Israel to the Palestinian territories ,” said Qutub in an interview with the pro-government Egyptian daily al-Ahram.

“We also know of weapons that come from the Israeli army depots sold to the Palestinians by Israeli soldiers.”

One of the requests in the memorandum of understanding between Israel and the US is a ground penetrating radar or GPR, to detect tunnels, as well as supervision to stop the alleged smuggling of arms from Iran.

Israel has also allowed Egypt to increase the number of border guards along the Gaza-Egypt frontier by up to 1,500, said a senior Israeli political source quoted by Israeli daily, Haaretz.

The US has accused Iran of supplying weapons to the militant group Hamas via a network of tunnels into the territory from Egypt.

Israel claims its three week long aerial and ground offensive against Gaza was designed to stop Hamas firing rockets into Israel by targeting rocket-launching infrastructure, weapons caches, and the suspected arms-smuggling tunnels.

Palestinian medical officials said that at least 1,330 Palestinians were killed and more than 5,000 were injured in Operation Cast Lead.

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


Yesha Council Head: We May Need Permits to Have Kids

(IsraelNN.com) In an interview Saturday night, Yesha Council head Danny Dayan said he was very concerned over the appointment of George Mitchell as President Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy. During his previous stint as an American diplomat in the region, Mitchell was opposed to allowing Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria to expand, not even agreeing to the concept of “natural growth,” in which the populations of towns increase due to the expansion of families.

“Mitchell’s appointment is of great concern,” Dayan told Yediot Achronot. “We’re afraid we’re going to have to get permission from Obama to have children,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Abu Elvis[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Gaza: Israel-Turkey Tourism Ties Hit by War

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 23 — Israeli tourism to Turkey dropped by 70% during the 22-day Gaza conflict that ended earlier this week, Hurriyet Daily news reported quoting the daily Israel Yediot Ahronot. Political tensions between Israel and Turkey over the Gaza offensive, especially harsh criticism by Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were the reasons for the decline, the newspaper wrote. Turks may also be boycotting Israeli products. Ari Malmud, the chief executive officer of Israeli diaper manufacturer Hogla Kimberly’s Turkey-based operation, told Yediot that “The company’s customer service department has been getting calls inquiring whether we were a Jewish company or an Israeli firm”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Gaza: Israeli Tourists’ Presence Down in Turkey During War

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 23 — The presence of Israeli tourists in Turkey has fallen by 70% during Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, according to the daily Hurriyet quoting the Israeli journal Yediot Ahronot. The daily explains that the sharp drop was caused by political tensions between the two countries regarding the attack on Gaza, particularly after the Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan heavily criticised the offensive. Now Israel fears that Turkey will boycott its products. Ari Malmud, director of the Turkish branch office of the Israeli company Hogla Kimberly, told Yediot that he has received “several calls from clients who asked if the company is Jewish or Israeli”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Iran in Scramble for Fresh Uranium Supplies

Western powers believe that Iran is running short of the raw material required to manufacture nuclear weapons, triggering an international race to prevent it from importing more, The Times has learnt.

Diplomatic sources believe that Iran’s stockpile of yellow cake uranium, produced from uranium ore, is close to running out and could be exhausted within months. Countries including Britain, the US, France and Germany have started intensive diplomatic efforts to dissuade major uranium producers from selling to Iran.

Before Christmas, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office sent out a confidential request for its diplomats in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Brazil, all major uranium producers, to lobby governments not to sell uranium products, specifically yellow cake, to Iran.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Lebanon May Claim Gas Deposit Found Off Israel’s Coast

Beirut’s Ministry for Energy and Water says part of natural gas field found near Haifa may be on Lebanese territorial water, plans to lobby for drill site’s registration with UN authorities

The Lebanese Ministry for Energy and Water has expressed an interest in reports of a natural gas deposit found off the Haifa coast.

Noble Energy said on Sunday that it discovered more than three trillion cubic feet of natural gas off Israel’s northern shores, at the Tamar-1 drill site located 56 miles west of the Haifa Port.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Middle East: Obama Debut; Israel Cautious, Hamas Critical

(by Aldo Baquis) (ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JANUARY 23 — The US president Barack Obamàs debut in Middle Eastern affairs has caused concern in Israel and has sparked the first negative reactions from Hamas leaders. Currently the most positive comments come from the National Palestinian Authority, which is particularly positive about the nomination of George Mitchell as the President’s personal envoy in the region. “We have already worked with him”, the negotiator Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) pointed out, referring to missions during 2000-2001, during which the ‘council’ managed to achieve the freezing of the Jewish settlments and the withdrawal of the Israeli army. The Israeli press is polarized over Obamàs commitment to work in “an aggressive manner” to reach an agreement in the Middle East. Yediot Ahronot bears the headline: “Fear in Israel: Obama will impose an agreement”. Mitchell, a spokesperson for the Israeli government has nonetheless reassured, is welcome in Jerusalem. In any case the local press has also noted that he seems determined to visit the area before February 10, that is prior to the Israeli political elections. It could be an attempt, an analyst noted, to influence the outcome of the election and in particular to dissuade Israelis from supporting the far right nationalist parties. In Gaza first reactions to Obama are not positive. “He has started with the wrong policies: this was the same reason for the suffering of the Palestinian people and for the collective punishment they endured”, the Hamas spokesperson, Fawzi Barhum announced. The annoyance of Hamas derives in particular from Obamàs severe condemnation of the continuing launching of rockets from Gaza into the nearby Israeli cities of Sderot (Neghev). “If he knew history better, a leading Hamas politician, Mussa Abu Marzuk said, who lives in Damascus, “he would know that Sderot was built on the ruins of a Palestinian village, Najd. Once again”, he deplored, “the United States are unable to distinguish the tryrant from its victims”. Another cause of concern for Hamas is Obamàs decision to continue to consider Abu Mazen’s PNA as his single Palestinian partner. It is a question of impact which is also practical when it will later come to managing international funds for the reconstruction of the country. But if anyone tries to force the presence of Abu Mazen on Gaza, Abu Marzuk warned, “they will soon discover it to be an unworkable policy”. In the meantime three Hamas emissaries set off for Cairo today, (Salah Bardawil, Ayman Taha, Jamal Abu Hashem). Their aim will be to discuss the extension of the truce in Gaza as well as the opening of the crossings into the enclave with the Egyptian negotiators. An Israeli emissary, Amos Ghilad, was also in Cairo on Friday to discuss the struggle against arms trafficking for Hamas and a possible exchange of prisoners with Hamas. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Open Letter to the European Union

…We as victims of this notorious cult ,are very surprised and insulted that the leader of this brutal cult (MRS.MARYAM RAJAVI) whose hands are smeared with blood is allowed to participate in your parliament [EU] and even make speech in front of distinguished members of parliament which is going to happen in 26th of January ,2009 in Brussels . The conference will be implemented by the committee of sanitation and social affaires …

Pers et Avenir association, Paris, January 22, 2009

HONOROBLE MEMBERS OF EUROPEAN- PARIAMENT AND EUROPEAN- COUNCIL

We are the victims of PMOI (People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran) who could rescue ourselves from the blood- smeared clutches of RAJAVI’s cult after almost two decades , and finally after putting lots of hurdles and obstacles behind, despite of PMOI’s operatives and leaders’ unwillingness of our departure from IRAQ, we arrived to European countries safe and sound.

We have spent more than twenty years of our lives in this inhuman cult and we have experienced lots of pain psychologically and physically as a result of inhuman treatment and savage attitude of the PMOI’s operatives during those breath taking years. We are live witnesses of cruelty and brutality of this cult upon the people of IRAQ during SADDAM HOSSEIN’s dictatorship..

This cult which tries its best to hide its horrendous and horrific past, wants to take advantage of freedom and democracy in European and Nordic countries to propagandize its cultish thoughts and beliefs among people. Their nature is compatible and well matched with violence and peaceful solution is not their favorite ,so they can be very dangerous for European people and the PMOI’s dissidents who are currently living in European countries and they are very vulnerable and defenseless.

We as victims of this notorious cult ,are very surprised and insulted that the leader of this brutal cult ( MRS.MARYAM RAJAVI) whose hands are smeared with blood is allowed to participate in your parliament and even make speech in front of distinguished members of parliament which is going to happen in 26th of January ,2009 in Brussels . The conference will be implemented by the committee of sanitation and social affaires .

How do you allow such a person( MRS. MARYAM RAJAVI) whose hands are smeared with blood of Iraqi people and the dissidents of ASHRAF garrison to make speech for your honorable members? In our point of view , the presence of MRS. MARYAM RAJAVI in EUROPEAN parliament and making speech is the biggest insult to your prominent and distinguished members , the mournful people of IRAQ , and to the victims of this cult .

We are all long time members of this cult with more than twenty years record of service and we declare officially that we are completely ready to share our horrifying experiences and point of views which we obtained in this cult, with the honorable members of European parliament , European council and others whenever and wherever is possible .

At the end we urge you not to allow the leader of this inhuman cult to participate and make speech in your honorable and distinguished parliament .. Please do not forget that the leader of this cult wants to take advantage of your global reputation to hide and conceal the crimes that her cult has done against the KORDS of IRAQ and against her political and ideological dissidents in ASHRAF garrison.

SIGNATORIES

MR.NAZARI/ MANSOUR ( WITH MORE THAN 20 YEARS RECORD OF SERVICE)

MR . SARAFPOUR/HAMED(WITH MORE THAN 20 YEARS RECORD OF SERVICE)

MR.PIRANSAR/HASSAN (WITH MORE THAN 20 YEARS RECORD OF SERVICE)

MR. SIAHMANSOURI/HAMID (WITH MORE THAN 20 YEARS RECORD OF SERVICE)

MR. BAZIARPOUR / MOHAMMAD ( WITH 20 YEARS RECORD OF SERVICE)

MR. RAZAGHI/ MOHAMMAD ( WITH 17 YEARS RECORD OF SERVICE)

MR. NADERI / NADER (WITH 17 YEARS RECORD OF SERVICE)

——-

Massoud Rajavi — the pattern of violence continues

By Anne Singleton

We are only half way through January and the EU terrorism list (from which the Mojahedin Khalq Organisation has been removed) has still not been announced but the MKO (aka the Rajavi cult, MEK, NCRI, NLA) has been unable to refrain from showing its true nature.

Iraq’s National Security Advisor has reported the arrest of an MKO member who is currently in custody after surrendering himself to an Iraqi security unit. The man, who is a resident of Camp Ashraf, was about to perform a suicide mission, but could not go through with it. According to a statement from the office of the National Security Advisor, the MKO member has claimed the MKO use severe torture and brainwashing on its members. He claims that: “I was sent with a clear and precise plan to perform a suicide mission in this Iraqi base”.

http://iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=5720

This news will come as no surprise to those who know the MKO. Looking at Massoud Rajavi’s track record over thirty years, nothing more or less than this could be expected. While he was able to send over 2,000 civilians their deaths back in 1988 in the failed Eternal Light operation, he has since then sent numerous smaller groups to perform suicidal terrorist attacks in Iran with the added instruction that if captured the person should use their cyanide pill to kill themselves. More recently, MKO were instructed to set fire to themselves to protest the arrest of Maryam Rajavi on terrorism charges in Paris. Two died and several others sustained serious injury with their permanent disfigurement and disability a direct result of Rajavi’s order.

Massoud Rajavi who owns the MKO also owns the blood of the members and will spill it whenever he needs to. In this case to rescue himself from the mess he has made in Iraq. The MKO members are his capital which buys him power. They are expandable assets which have been used and reused shamelessly by western agencies who have found this a useful and cheap resource in their ‘regime change’ armoury. It is clear that the neoconservatives and Zionists are using the MKO against the Iraqis, and are helping them by facilitating the impunity enjoyed by MKO leaders at the cult’s headquarters in Europe.

This latest fiasco in the Rajavi saga is surely the result of negligence and apathy of the European Union toward the MKO which apparently couldn’t summon the energy or interest to properly investigate the MKO and deal with it accordingly. A feat which has been assiduously performed by successive US Governments since 1994 and which has resulted in the MKO retaining its terrorism designation to date with the added information that the group is a cult. However, the Bush Administration has also proved itself to be overly greedy in wanting to have their cake and eat it. The US army has ‘protected’ this ‘terrorist’ outfit for five and a half years in Iraq in spite of repeated demands by the Iraqis for removal of this known FTO, which collaborated with the former regime, from Iraqi territory.

It is surely time for the international community as represented by the UNHCR and UNCHR to to help the Iraqis ensure that all the individuals held captive in Camp Ashraf are accorded their basic human rights. Rajavi’s victims must be given the opportunity to renounce violence and to leave Camp Ashraf for third countries or to accept voluntary repatriation to Iran. Any delay in dismantling this notorious cult is to condemn the inhabitants to enforced membership of an illegal paramilitary terrorist group.

[…]

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Saudi: Trading Bombs for Crayons: Terrorists Get ‘Art Therapy’

In what is being touted as ‘jihadi rehab,’ al Qaeda terrorists newly released from Guantanamo prison or caught on the streets of Iraq before their suicide bombs could explode are putting finger paints and crayons to paper in order to secure their freedom.

The Saudi government, which is running the rehabilitation program on a former royal family retreat outside Riyadh, claims that some 700 former al Qaeda terrorists have been reprogrammed.

The coloring, said program founder Dr. Awad Alyami to his terrorists-turned-art-students, gets “negative energy out on paper.” “It’s safe here,” Alyami said. “It’s on the paper, it’s not outside.” The men also get religious re-education and are promised a new home and car if they behave.

But ‘jihadi rehab’ is drawing great skepticism from U.S. critics, who caution that actions speak louder than words.

Former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said that while the men may claim to disavow radical Islam, “they basically schmooze or con their way out of the system, and then they get out.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Swiss Ambassador to Obey Iran’s Islamic Dress Code

Switzerland’s newly-appointed ambassador to Tehran, who is believed to be the first female ambassador to Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, said she will observe Iran’s Islamic dress code (Hijab) during her mission in Islamic Republic. Livia Leu Agosti arrived in Iran this week as Berne’s woman in Tehran.

She met the Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki for talks on expanding bilateral economic ties and is expected to present her diplomatic credentials formally to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the coming weeks.

The Iranian students’ news agency, citing “informed sources”, said yesterday that Leu Agosti had been accepted by the foreign ministry. Her appointment puts her in charge of one of the most strategically placed diplomatic missions in Tehran. The Swiss embassy has represented US interests since 1980, when Washington severed diplomatic ties with Iran after the takeover of its embassy by Islamist revolutionaries. Swiss diplomats have frequently acted as a conduit for messages between the two countries.

Leu Agosti, 47, was head of the Swiss foreign ministry’s Africa and the Middle East department. Leu Agosti told SonntagsZeitung newspaper her appointment struck a blow for “women’s equality in a man’s world”.

Swiss critics claim that her agreement to observe Iran’s laws requiring women to wear the hijab represents surrender to Islam. But Switzerland’s foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, a vocal women’s equality advocate and a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, dismissed such remarks by her critics when she during a visit to Tehran last year wore a headscarf to meet Ahmadinejad.

Leu Agosti has said she will wear the hijab to maintain her diplomatic status.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Turkey: 30 Detained in New Wave of Ergenkon Probe

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 22 — Turkish police detained today nearly 30 people, including eight army officers, in several provinces and searched the offices of a private TV channel and a union under the latest wave of the controversial Ergenekon investigation, Hurriyet Daily reported. Mustafa Ozbek, the chairman of Turkish Metal Union, Erhan Goksel, the chairman of Verso Center of Political Research, and Unal Inanc, a journalist specialized in judicial affairs, were among the latest detainees in the operation. Police is also searches at the headquarters of AVRASYA TV and the Turkish Metal Union in Ankara. Broadcaster NTV said nearly 30 people were detained in the operations held in thirteen provinces, including Ankara, Istanbul, the northwestern province of Bursa, the Mediterranean cities of Antalya and Isparta, the southeastern province of Sirnak, the Black Sea city of Tokat and the eastern province of Elazig. The Ergenekon case was filed against more than 80 people on the charge of forming an illegal organization to provoke a series of events that would pave the way for a military coup. However many believe the government uses the Ergenekon case as an excuse to suppress its opposition. A court last week formally arrested more than a dozen more suspects, bringing the total of people involved in the case to more than 100. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkey: Ergenekon, Prosecutors to Probe State TV

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 23 — The Ankara Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation into officials from Turkey’s State-run television, TRT-2, over a program it aired in which a shadowy witness was interviewed on the controversial Ergenekon case, Hurriyet Daily reported. TRT came under fire after Tuncay Guney, a key witness of the Ergenekon operation, made allegations regarding a number of politicians, media organizations and former army commanders during an interview on current affairs program called Buyutec. Guney, who now lives in Canada as a rabbi, made allegations during questioning in investigation into the so-called Ergenekon gang when he was detained in 2001. Guney’s testimony is perceived as the basis of the prosecutor’s claims regarding the probe. Experts and psychiatrists however question Guney’s reliability and agree that he might be suffering from a mental illness.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkey: Jewish Groups Urge Ankara to Stop ‘Anti-Semitism’

Ankara, 23 Jan.(AKI) — Five prominent Jewish organisations in the United States have written to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urging him to urgently address what they claim is a wave of anti-Semitism. A report the Turkish daily, Hurriyet, said on Friday the organisations had expressed concern over what they called “anti-Semitic manifestations” in Turkey.

Leaders of the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, made the plea to Erdogan.

“Turkey rightly prides itself on many centuries of coexistence with Jews. But today our Jewish friends in Turkey feel besieged and threatened,” the organisations said.

“Billboards around Istanbul are full of anti-Jewish propaganda posters. The door of a Jewish-owned shop near Istanbul University was covered with a poster that said, ‘Do not buy from here, since this shop is owned by a Jew.’

“The defacing of an Izmir synagogue has brought about the temporary closure of all but one of that city’s synagogues,” said the letter, citing such incidents as examples of increasing acts of anti-Semitism in Turkey.

The groups’ letter noted a connection between “the inflammatory denunciation of Israel by Turkish officials and the rise of anti-Semitism”.

Turkey, a key regional ally that had been sponsoring informal talks between Israel and Syria, was among the countries that condemned the Jewish state for its recent offensive in the Gaza Strip that killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and injured at least 5,000 others.

The Turkish prime minister has harshly criticised Israel, saying the Jewish state’s actions in Gaza was “a crime against humanity”.

According to Hurriyet, Jewish organisations are among Turkey’s strongest supporters in Washington.

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

South Asia

India: Newbies Tied in by Rs 2 Lakh Bond

[Note: lakh = 100,000]

It is not just their faith in the company but also other difficult ties that bind which has Satyamites holding on to the company amid a fraud that threatens their career prospects. It is not clear how many of the 53,000 employees in Satyam Computer Services are recently hired, but they clearly run into thousands. Those with under two years of experience have a unique problem-they cannot leave easily as they are covered by a financial bond. Like most IT companies, fresh recruits at Satyam have a two-year bond with the organisation, which means they have to serve the company for two years or pay Rs 2 lakh to the company in case they quit before the bond period. “There is a two-year bond for freshers and is valid as of today until any change in this is announced,” said a Satyam spokesperson. Headhunters are of the view that contractual arrangements are typical of IT companies.

[Return to headlines]


Obama to CIA: Bombs Away! No Let Up in US Drone Attacks

The CIA’s bombing campaign against al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan continued with two more attacks today, an indication, senior officials say, that President Barack Obama has approved the U.S. strategy that has killed at least eight of al Qaeda’s top 20 leaders since July 2008.

The two attacks today in Pakistan were the first since President Obama took office on Tuesday.

Asked about it at his daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “I’m not going to discuss that matter.”

During the campaign, Obama called for cross-border attacks against high-value al Qaeda targets in Pakistan, even before the CIA campaign began.

Pakistani officials and villagers told ABCNews.com that 17 people were killed in two successive strikes against compounds in North and South Waziristan.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Far East

Philippines: Islamist Militants Get Life in Prison

Manila, 23 Jan. (AKI) — Three Filipino Islamist rebels were sentenced to life in prison for their involvement in a Manila train station bombing in 2000 that killed 11 people. Known as the Rizal Day bombing case, it was one of the Philippines’ worst terror attacks.

“This serves to reinforce our faith in our justice system. Our government will make sure that justice is served, that hateful ideology never triumphs, that peace loving citizens are kept safe and that democracy continues to prosper,” said Lorelei Fajardo, spokeswoman of Philippines president Gloria Arroyo.

The attack against the train station was part of a series of five bombing attacks that claimed the lives of 22 people.

The blasts were allegedly led by Al-Qaeda linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah bomber Fathur Roman al-Ghozi. He was shot dead by government forces in 2003 after escaping from police custody. Al-Ghozi is said to have paid one of the three convicts to carry out the attacks.

The three defendants, Muklis Hadji Yunos, Abdul Fatak Paute and Mamasao Naga are members of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front and reportedly have links to Jemaah Islamiyah.

However, under Philippines law, a life sentence lasts for a minimum of 20 years, after which a convict may be pardoned, to a maximum of 40 years. The lawyer of the three convicts will appeal the sentence.

Contacts between JI and the MILF go back to the anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan. Links between the groups were strengthened after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, when members of JI were received in the forests of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines.

Although relations have been strained since 2003, experts say radical elements in the MILF still have contact with JI and that dozens of jihadists still are in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago.

The MILF is the largest of several Muslim separatist groups in the predominantly Catholic country.

The group has an estimated 11,000 armed fighters and has been been fighting for self-rule in the volatile south for over three decades.

JI is widely considered south-east Asia’s most dangerous terrorist organisation and was believed to be behind the bloodiest attacks in Indonesia. Its goal is the creation of a Muslim ‘caliphate’ in southeast Asia.

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


Vietnam: Celebrations for Tet Widen Gap Between Rich and Poor

In the streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, next to luxury hotels frequented by the rich, live beggars, many of them poor farmers who have had to leave their land. Some of the bishops are expressing concern, and urging solidarity with those in need.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) — The approach of the celebrations for the Tet (lunar new year) in Vietnam is widening the gap between rich and poor, and this is causing concern among some of the bishops, who are asking Catholics to help their brethren in need, whose numbers are growing steadily in many areas of the country.

In the crowded streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, elegantly dressed men can be seen driving the most luxurious cars in the world, and carousing every day in the luxury hotels. Next to the doors of these same hotels, there are many beggars. Most of them are poor farmers, forced to leave their villages for various reasons.

In an article about how entrepreneurs and high officials are buying luxury automobiles to flaunt their wealth, a state media outlet has published news of the order for a Bugatti-Veyron, at 1.5 million dollars. According to Vietnam.net, the car was bought by the son of an official, who already has a collection of five similar cars.

Apart from the fact that there is an 80% tax on imported automobiles, the importing of which has grown since 2007, local sources say that, given the congestion of the ports, the owners of imported automobiles are paying extra to get them early. In the end, one of these imported vehicles ends up costing three times as much in Vietnam as in the United States. To complete the picture, it should be recalled that Vietnam still depends on aid from Western governments, humanitarian agencies, and nongovernmental organizations in order to support millions of people living in poverty. The local press reports that in 2008, the average monthly salary for a state employee was 600,000 Vietnamese dollars (about 34 U.S. dollars). Low-level workers earn 450,000 Vietnamese dollars, about 25 U.S. dollars, per month.

The gap between rich and poor is increasing the level of crime and social distress. The charge comes from the bishop of Haiphong, Joseph Vu Van Thien. “More and more young people join gangs to steal, rob and murder for money,” he writes in a pastoral letter for the new year. And “social crimes have increased at an alarming rate.” For his part, Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh, bishop of Thanh Hoa, warns against the use of drugs and the danger of AIDS. “I specifically remind you,” he writes, “to be highly vigilant against the risk of drug addiction and HIV.” In other dioceses, the bishops are expressing their concern over the fact that during the Tet, everything costs more, and many people are unable to buy food.

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

Latin America

The High Price of Clean, Cheap Ethanol

Brazil hopes to supply drivers worldwide with the fuel of the future — cheap ethanol derived from sugarcane. It is considered an effective antidote to climate change, but hundreds of thousands of Brazilian plantation workers harvest the cane at slave wages.

In the middle of the night, the plantations around Araçoiaba in Brazil’s ethanol zone are on fire. The area looks like a war zone during the sugarcane harvest, as the burning fields light up the sky and the wind carries clouds of smoke across the countryside.

The fires chase away snakes, kill tarantulas and burn away the sharp leaves of the cane plants. In the morning, when only embers remain, tens of thousands of workers with machetes head into the fields throughout this region in northeastern Brazil. They harvest the cane, which survives the fire and which is used to distill ethanol, the gasoline of the future.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Activist: ‘Where’s the Fence?’

Says only 200 miles of border barrier actually constructed

The Department of Homeland Security has built fewer than 200 miles of fence along the U.S. border with Mexico, not the 526 miles claimed by DHS and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, according to Glenn Spencer, founder of the watchdog group American Border Patrol.

Spencer claims DHS is including in its 526 miles of fence — supposedly constructed according to the mandates of the Secure Fence Act — some 248 miles of “vehicle fence” that “isn’t a fence at all and doesn’t even stop vehicles.”

“Deducting useless vehicle barriers and very old 10-foot fencing, not constructed under the Secure Border Initiative, from the 526-mile claim, we are left with about 200 miles that the Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection Secure Border Initiative actually constructed in accordance with the congressional mandate originally set forth in the Secure Fence Act of 2006,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


France: Benguigui, We Are Here to Stay

(by Cristiana Missori) (ANSAmed) — AGADIR, JANUARY 23 — “We are here and we aren’t going anywhere. France needs to know that we will not leave the country”. This is all of the force and the anger provoked by the suffering felt by entire generations of Maghreb migrants in Europe through he words of French director of Algerian descent, Yamina Benguigui, who at the Agadir Festival, currently underway in Morocco, wanted to give tribute to. Benguigui, as a writer and director, has been committed to the memory of the Maghreb people and immigration for years. “Since we were very young — she explains, visibly moved before a large audience — we have been raised by our parents in an Algerian society, even if we lived in France where we were considered to be foreigners. We were neither from here nor there. We only began to exist when we began to see images of ourselves”. Documentaries like ‘Memoires d’immigres’ (Immigrant Memoires, 1997), or ‘Pas d’histoire! Regards sur le racisme au quotidien’ (Enough Stories! A Look at Day to Day Racism), or ‘Le Jardin parfume’ (The Profumed Garden, 2000) and her first feature length film for TV ‘Inch’Allah dinamiché (If God Wants Sunday, which in 2001 received 27 international awards), shook the conscience of the French. “There was the need to turn these stories and these memories into images because we were full of pain we needed to express due to the fact that we didn’t have a true existence anywhere. The first generation of immigrants — she explains — lived in Francés back room, we were almost invisible. Film and television never represented these people. Not even in the background”. Today, some of Benguiguìs work is studied at universities in the United States. “It hurts me — she goes on to say — that in France the same isn’t done. It is as if we were ghosts, as if our sweat was unreal”. Maybe, however, with 93’ documentary — ‘Memoires d’un territoiré (2008) — screened at the Agadir Festival (dedicated to the story of the Seine-Saint-Denis department, from 1850 to the violent demonstrations of 2005) — the director will uncover a true Pandoràs Box and provoke bitter controversy in France: barrack like housing built on the Parisian outskirts and the Saint-Denis Stadium raise from highly polluted land. Lead, asbestos and other toxic substances left by French industry to accompany the daily lives of the inhabitants of the ‘banlieue’ for years without notice. “It was difficult — Benguigui says — to tell these stories so lucidly, without resentment”, it expresses the hope that the 2010 edition of the Agadir Festival dedicated to “Film and Migration”, will be followed by the city of Paris. Words that demonstrate how the road to reconciliation between children of immigration and those of France itself is still headed uphill. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Tension During General Strike in Lampedusa

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 23 — Tension is running high in Lampedusa, where this morning a general strike got underway, called for by the city council and the ‘SOS Pelagie Islands’ committee, to protest against the decision by Interior Minister Roberto Maroni to establish a Centre for the Identification and Expulsion of immigrants on the island. Several thousand people are taking part in the demonstration (4,000 according to the organisers, 2,500 by police estimates) which has blocked a coach that was transporting a group of 110 migrants from the centre to the airport. Today, in fact, it was planned that around 250 immigrants would be moved to a temporary detention centre in Crotone and Gorizia. Minister Maroni announced during a press conference in Rome that, in the meantime, between January 1 and today around 150 illegal immigrants have been transported back from Lampedusa, to Egypt and Nigeria. “We then send committees to Lampedusa”, the Minister explained, “to consider the appeals for asylum: out of around 800 requests, 377 were agreed to. These people will be moved to the centres set up for asylum seekers”. These, he added, “are only people who come from countries which are in war zones. This guarantees that those requesting asylum have the right to do so”. Besides, he went on, “since Christmas, 344 minors have landed in Lampedusa, and they have been taken to centres set up to receive minors”. The mayor of Lampedusa, Bernardino De Rubeis, said the government’s decision to set up a centre for the identification and expulsion of immigrants is “an almost inhuman decision. The Minister has to understand that we are in a democracy and that we need to think before deciding”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UNHCR, Severe Worries in Lampedusa

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 23 — The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (Unhcr) has today expressed “increasing alarm for the humanitarian situation for almost 2000 migrants, including many asylum seekers, currently housed at the Centre for first aid and first point of arrival in Lampedusa”. In a statement the UN agency underlined that the arrival centre in Lampedusa was “extremely overcrowded”. The welcome centre, the Unhcr reminded, has a maximum capacity of 850 places and is not able to house such a large number of people. “Therefore, hundreds of residents are forced to sleep in the open with plastic sheets as their only shelter. Adequate standards of welcome cannot be guaranteed under these conditions”, the statement reads. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Change We Never Imagined

Well, the high-sheen veneer and cult-of-personality euphoria surrounding America’s new oratory-endowed president looks to be dissolving rather quickly. While millions had hoped for a political “messiah,” it’s fast becoming evident that, instead, we’ve stuck ourselves with an extreme leftist ideologue whose brand of “change we can believe in” is, in fact, “change we never imagined.” (Sorry to burst the Barack bandwagon bubble, but I say it like I see it.)

The examples are piling up in terms of the radical pro-abortion polices he’s planning to implement, the many-times-failed Marxist fiscal policies he’s promised to test yet again, and — relative to his national security goals — the noxiously naive peacenik policies that have Mahmoud and Osama giggling themselves to sleep at night.

But on issues involving marriage, family and sexual morality, Obama’s been even more brazen than some of his most ardent detractors could have expected. Literally within minutes after he took the oath of office, the official White House website was updated — under the heading of “The Agenda: Civil Rights” — to detail his wholesale “support for the LGBT (homosexual activist) community.” His stated plans include the following:

  • Defeating all state and federal constitutional efforts to defend the millennia-old definition of natural marriage from attacks by “gay marriage” activists.
  • Repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996. This is the only line of defense keeping all 50 states from being forced to recognize so-called “same-sex marriages” from extremely liberal states like Massachusetts and Connecticut.
  • Repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy despite the fact that the vast majority of military commanders and personnel say it will dangerously disrupt unit cohesion and troop morale.
  • Passing constitutionally dubious and discriminatory “hate crimes” legislation, granting homosexuals and cross-dressers exclusive rights — denied other Americans — based on sexual behaviors that are deviant, changeable and widely regarded both here and around the world as immoral.
  • Passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would force business owners (religious and otherwise) to abandon traditional values relative to sexual morality under penalty of law.
  • Creating intentionally motherless and fatherless homes and sexually confusing untold thousands of children by expanding “gay adoption.”

The gravity of this situation cannot be overstated. Right out of the chute, Obama has told the world that he is signing off, without exception, on every demand of the extremist homosexual and transsexual lobbies.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Now That Obama’s in, Stem-Cell Trials Begin

But FDA claims timing of approval coincidence

In a move the Food and Drug Administration denies has anything to do with the new presidency, the federal agency granted permission this week to begin the country’s first embryonic stem cell treatments on human subjects.

The FDA approved an application from Geron Corporation, based in Menlo Park, Calif., to inject stem cells derived from human embryos into 10 people paralyzed from the chest down by spinal cord injuries.

“This marks the beginning of what is potentially a new chapter in medical therapeutics,” said the company’s president, Tom Okarma, in a statement, “one that reaches beyond pills to a new level of healing: the restoration of organ and tissue function achieved by the injection of healthy replacement cells.”

[…]

And even though the FDA’s first approval for embryonic stem cell research in human trials reportedly came by telephone the day after Obama’s inauguration, the organization told WND it’s merely a coincidence.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama Signs Order to Export ‘Torture’

Commits American millions to support of abortion industry

President Obama today signed an executive order to repeal the Mexico City Policy that during President Bush’s tenure protected Americans from being required to fund groups that promote and pay for abortions around the globe.

WND reported Obama plan to repeal what also is known as the “global gag rule.”

The plan was originated by President Reagan in 1984. It prohibited non-governmental organizations that receive federal funds from providing or promoting abortions in other nations.

[…]

Douglas Johnson, legislative director of National Right to Life, told Life News that repeal of the Mexico City Policy would draw funding away from other organizations that provide international aid.

“One effect of Obama’s anticipated order will be to divert many millions of dollars away from groups that do not promote abortion, and into the hands of those organizations that are most militant in promoting abortion as a population-control method,” Johnson said. “So, a president who not long ago told the American people that he wanted to reduce the number of abortions, is already effectively promoting the increased use of abortion as a means of population control.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Porn Warning Revived on Bundy Death Date

Convict confessed to running amok on graphic sex and violence

The issue of the damage pornography does to society is being revived on the 20th anniversary of the execution of Ted Bundy, who died in Florida’s electric chair after confessing to the sex-inspired murders of dozens of girls and women.

Focus on the Family chief James Dobson recalled to the Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck today his interview with Bundy on the eve of the Jan. 24, 1989, execution.

“Ted Bundy confessed to killing 28 women and girls. He probably killed more than 100 over a period of time,” Dobson said.

The interview 20 years ago came about at Bundy’s invitation, because the evangelical leader had served on a federal pornography commission, and Bundy had read its report.

Bundy, Dobson said, “talked about the role pornography had played in his life.”

He said Bundy admitted becoming addicted to porn as a teenager and acting out his fantasies on his victims.

“He never blamed porn. He took the blame for [his actions]. But he said this played a major role,” Dobson said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Refusal to Hire Smokers Criticized

Smoking bans in public buildings, workplaces and at some outdoor venues are commonplace. Becoming more common is the practice of barring…

Smoking bans in public buildings, workplaces and at some outdoor venues are commonplace. Becoming more common is the practice of barring smokers from employment. But this approach is unfair and may have unintended consequences that do more harm than good, researchers say in an essay published in the journal Tobacco Control.

Policies banning the hiring of smokers have gained popularity in the past year, a co-author of the report, Dr. Michael Siegel, said Wednesday. One U.S. company, for example, has stopped hiring smokers, has made smoking outside the workplace grounds for firing and has extended its smoking ban to employees’ spouses.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


The Answer is Simple: Don’t Hire a Woman

The latest piece of mayhem, er, legislation to catch my attention is H.R.1388, the Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced (surprise surprise) by Hillary Rodham Clinton in July 2008. This Act takes “critical steps to help empower women to negotiate for equal pay.” There’s that word — empower — possibly the silliest term to enter our vocabulary in recent history (right along with “sustainable” and “self-esteem”). We’re told women are so weak and helpless that we need empowerment from Hillary.

[…]

What does this mean in plain English? Well, according to Mike Eastman, executive director of Labor Law Policy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, this legislation would:

  • Eliminate the caps on punitive and compensatory damages. [This means a woman can sue McDonald’s for a kazillion dollars because 10 years ago when she was a teeny-bopper, she made less money flipping burgers than her boyfriend did.]
  • Make punitive and compensatory damages available for even unintentional pay disparities. [Unintentional. That means the boss didn’t mean to do anything wrong. Who cares! Sue him!]
  • Eliminate employer defenses for pay disparities, such as paying people differently because they work in different parts of the country with different costs of living. [This means no excuse, no matter how legitimate, will cut the mustard. The employer is always wrong.]
  • Make it easier for trial lawyers to file large class actions. [Get lots of women together so they can whine in a big group.]
  • Impose comparable worth “guidelines,” second guessing market forces about the relative worth of different types of jobs. [Oh, my gosh. This means you have to compare one job with a completely different job to make sure women are paid comparably. How does a secretary compare to, say, a plumber? How does a teacher compare to a construction worker? This will be a logistical nightmare.]
  • Re-impose debunked statistical analyses and auditing methods used by the Labor Department. [Bring back archaic comparison methods that didn’t work to begin with. That’s why they were debunked. Helloooo?]

[JD: comments in brackets.]

Is anyone familiar with the Law of Unintended Consequences? An unintended consequence is when an action results in an unexpected reaction. It often happens when a simple system (such as the government) tries to regulate a complex system (such as the American people). According to a landmark 1936 paper by sociologist Robert Merton, some causes of unanticipated consequences include ignorance, error, immediate interests and basic values.

In other words, when something is touted as “good” for a segment of the populace —children, minorities, women, environmentalists, whatever — it usually backfires because politicians cannot or will not visualize the logical and practical outcome.

What will be the unintended consequences for this legislation? Easy. Employers will be reluctant to hire women.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


The Brady Campaign to Prevent Civil Rights

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence hailed the 2008 presidential election as “a decisive victory for common sense gun laws.” Sarah Brady said: “There is no indication that any candidate, at any level, lost their election because of their support for reasonable gun measures.”[1]

But what exactly qualifies as “common sense gun laws” or “reasonable gun measures?” A recent paper answered this question by noting certain correlations for states considered the “best” by Brady in terms of how many “common sense gun laws” they have passed:

  • Brady’s highest-rated states have the highest average violent crime and murder rates. These states also have the lowest levels of gun ownership.
  • Only 2 of these states have shall-issue concealed carry laws.
  • Brady’s “failed” states (not enough “reasonable gun measures”) have the lowest violent crime and murder rates, and the highest levels of gun ownership.
  • All have shall-issue concealed carry laws.[2]

In practical terms, Brady’s criteria for “sensible gun laws” translate into less civilian gun ownership and less ability for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves against violent criminals, flying in the face of the recent Supreme Court ruling that concluded:

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.[3]

Brief History Lesson

In the mid-1990s, Britain and Australia instituted gun confiscation laws. Britain’s was a total ban, while Australia’s was slightly less onerous, allowing certain guns to be owned under certain circumstances, but semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and “handguns of .22 caliber or higher” were prohibited.[4] Prior to these bans, the United States had higher violent crime rates than Britain; sexual assault and “regular” assault were 25% higher in Australia than the U.S., but robbery in the U.S. was 50% higher than in Australia. Through 2006:

  • The murder rate in the U.S. fell faster than in Britain or Australia.
  • Robbery and assault rates in both Britain and Australia rose, while the U.S. rates dropped.

Most importantly, rape skyrocketed in Britain by 76.5%, increased 21.4% in Australia, and decreased in the U.S. by 16.8%. Compared to women in the United States, where there has been no nationally-instituted civilian gun ban, British women are now raped and sexually assaulted about twice as often, and Australian women about three times as often.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Young Mum Spurs Teen Sex Debate

The case of Ramona, a 13-year-old mother, has caused a sensation in Switzerland and led to much soul searching over whether children receive enough sex education.

However, teenage pregnancies still remain relatively rare in the country, compared with Britain and the United States.

Ramona gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Nico, in December and is, according to media reports, now the youngest mother in Switzerland.

The teenager from near Solothurn in the German-speaking part of Switzerland apparently did not know she was pregnant until she was admitted to hospital with stomach pains. The father is also 13.

The media interest in the story, which was revealed in the tabloids last week, has been huge — as have been the outpourings of sympathy. One company has even offered to pay for a year’s supply of nappies.

For youth psychologist Allan Guggenbühl, the fuss is rather strange. “In Britain or the United States, this would be a non-event because there teenagers regularly get pregnant and teenage pregnancy is [already] a tremendous issue in these countries,” he told swissinfo.

The Swiss teen pregnancy rate (for the ages of 15-19) is just 4.3 per 1,000 women, compared with 9.9 per 1,000 in neighbouring Germany. In Britain the rate stands at 26 per 1,000, with the US the worst culprit in the western world at almost 42 per 1,000.

Acting quickly

One of the reasons for the relative rarity of adolescent births is the fact that many Swiss teenagers act quickly if they fall pregnant.

“Around 70 per cent of teenagers have an abortion at a really early stage,” said Ruth Draths, a youth gynaecologist, who also runs an advisory website, firstlove.ch, for young people.

“The diagnosis is made early, often within the first six or 12 weeks — in Britain this is often much later,” she explained.

According to the tabloid Blick, only six girls under 14 had babies between 1987 and 2007 in Switzerland. The last documented case was a 12-year-old from Cameroon in Valais in 2005.

For Draths, Switzerland’s population structure could be one reason why teen pregnancies are uncommon. She said that girls of other ethnicities sometimes started puberty earlier than their Swiss counterparts, which in fertility terms gave them a higher change of falling pregnant earlier.

Another reason is social behaviour. According to a study cited by Draths, the average age at which Swiss youth lose their virginity is 17 — this has remained stable over the past 20 years — which is relatively late compared with other countries.

" Sexuality is not condemned in Switzerland, it is not considered as something dirty, as something which one should approach with moral categories. "

Allan Guggenbühl, youth psychologist Contraception issues

“Luckily many young people use a condom for their first time. Contraceptive behaviour is much better at ages 15 to 16, but often among the younger ones contraception is not so good,” the doctor told swissinfo.

Often this is because the boy is much older and the girl doesn’t have the confidence to ask him to use a condom, explained Draths.

The question of whether Swiss pupils know enough about sex and its consequences has also been debated in the media.

Draths said she had undertaken a study of 450 pupils and found that many did gain knowledge from school sex education classes.

But the success of these lessons often depended on the personality of the teacher and whether they felt comfortable — many don’t — with the subject.

It is also not easy to know when to start teaching the subject as age 12 may be good for the girls, but boys, less mature at that age, would struggle. Added to this are religious concerns, particularly among Muslims, said Draths…

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

General

Did Sid Really Kill Nancy? Explosive New Evidence Suggests the Punk Rocker May Have Been Innocent

In fact, the film contests, medical tests carried out on Vicious at the time of his arrest showed the musician would have been incapable of the attack, because he was out cold at the time after taking so much of a powerful sedative that it would have killed all but the most hard-bitten drug users.

Instead, the film Who Killed Nancy? asserts for the first time that 20-year-old Spungen, the daughter of a wealthy middle-class Philadelphia family, was killed by another resident at the hotel — a shadowy British man named Michael, who spent that last fatal night in the room with the couple.

As the murderer robbed and killed Spungen for the huge stash of cash they kept there, Vicious, it is claimed, slept through the attack, only waking to find his lover’s dead body in the morning.

The documentary’s British director, Alan G. Parker, who has spent 24 years investigating the life and death of the star and has written a series of well-received books on the subject, tracked down more than 180 witnesses and unearthed previously unseen police reports.

He also spoke to several witnesses who are adamant that Vicious was innocent. Crucially, Parker says police found the fingerprints of six people who had been in the couple’s room at New York’s rundown Chelsea Hotel in the early hours, but none was ever interviewed.

One witness, who subsequently became a priest, tried to tell detectives that he thought Vicious was not the murderer, but was given the brush-off by investigating officers.

Meanwhile others pointed the finger of suspicion at the man known only as ‘Michael’, who one friend of the couple swears remained alone in the room with them during those fateful final hours. He disappeared after the murder and police made no effort to track him.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

4 comments:

Homophobic Horse said...

OT - I can't access Brussels Journal, all I see is a Google Search portal.

Does anyone else have this problem?

Link

The Intellectual Redneck said...

Do all our Congressmen and Congresswomen own bank stock? Nancy Pelosi wants more TARP money than the 700 billion already wasted

Ted said...

Take the test.

FIRST QUESTION: Who IS the actual and lawful 44th President of the USA?

ANSWER: Joe Biden

Biden was initially the Acting President for at least 5 minutes under either the Constitution’s Article 2 or the Constitution’s 20th Amendment, from 12:00 Noon 1/20/09, having already taken his Oath of Office and before Obama completed his ‘oath’ at approximately 12:05 PM, 1/20/09. Under the 20th Amendment if the President-elect shall have failed to qualify, or alternatively under Article 2 if the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term, being 12:00 Noon 1/20/09, which ability and/or qualification includes that he take the Article 2 oath “before he enter on the execution of his office,” then either the Presidency shall devolve on the Vice President under Article 2 or the Vice President shall act as President under the 20th Amendment. (The importance of the oath in ‘commencing’ an ‘Obama Presidency’ — rather than merely the 1/20/09 Noon time — is confirmed by the re-take of the ‘oath’ by Obama at the White House on 1/21/09 after the first ‘oath’ was NOT administered by Justice Roberts NOR recited by Obama in the words as required under Article 2.)

This is significant because at such time that the Supreme Court finally rules on the merits on Obama’s disqualification as not being an Article 2 “natural born citizen” (clearly he is NOT), Biden’s automatic status (without needing to take a separate Presidential Oath) of being President would be predicated upon four different bases: First, having been Vice President under Article 2; second, having been Vice President-elect under the 20th Amendment; third, having been actual President in the hiatus before Obama took the ‘oath(s)’; and fourth, retroactively deemed President during the full period of the Obama usurpation so that the acts of the Federal Government under the usurpation can be deemed authorized and/or ratified by Biden’s legitimacy.

SECOND QUESTION: Who will be the 45th President?

ANSWER: Hillary Clinton

One must assume that Bill and Hillary Clinton have been aware of all of the above. Biden’s wife recently “let the cat out of the bag” on the Oprah Show that both Biden and Hillary had considered alternatively Veep or Secretary of State, in either case, setting up Hillary to be President on a vote of the Democratic Congress if need be.

THIRD QUESTION: Is Obama an unwitting victim of this troika or a knowing participant?

ANSWER: Yet undetermined.

no2liberals said...

This day in History.