Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/14/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/14/2009This just in: “Two post office workers have got poison from mail, which was sent to Israel embassy at Norway. Workers received burn wounds in their hands and faces. Workers are now treated at Ullevål hospital and have not received more symptoms.”

Also, Barack Obama has declined a British offer to retain a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the Oval Office. The bust was loaned to his predecessor by the UK government, but Mr. Obama has sent Sir Winston home.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, heroyalwhyness, Insubria, islam o’phobe, JD, TB, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
- - - - - - - - -
Financial Crisis
A March on Washington?
Federal Obligations Exceed World GDP
Freedom is Still the Best Policy
Moral Crisis is Root of Economic Crisis
Our New Trillion-Dollar Credit Card
Paulson May Have Made $67 Million in Lloyds Plunge
Projected Jobs Numbers Don’t Quite Add Up
Trillions? Get Ready for Quadrillion
 
USA
15 Amazing Yearbook Photos of U.S. Politicians
Barack Obama Sends Bust of Winston Churchill on Its Way Back to Britain
Bookstore Features Obama Under ‘Religion’
Janeane Garofalo Says GOPers Are A**holes and Sarah Palin is ‘Small-Minded’’
Obama to Drop Sanctions on Iran
Psychopaths in Black Robes
State of New Hampshire: HCR6 — a Resolution Affirming States’ Rights Based on Jeffersonian Principles.
U.S. Muslim TV Exec Charged With Beheading Wife
 
Canada
New Law to Give Police Access to Online Exchanges
 
Europe and the EU
Denmark: Yellow Ribbons in Support of Military Personnel
Poison Mail Sent to Israel Embassy at Norway
Protesters March Over Job Losses
UK Officials Head to Guantanamo Bay to Prepare British Detainee for Release
UK: Energy Experts to Visit Every Home to Help Them Go Green
UK: Hospital Let 80-Year-Old Man Walk Home to His Death — Because Payphone Was Broken
UK: Muslim Girl in Baptism Row Was Fleeing an Arranged Marriage
UK: Terror Police Arrest Nine Men Travelling on Motorway in North-West
 
Balkans
Bosnian Imam Convicted in Sex Abuse Case
EU-Serbia: Rehn, Aid Package for Crisis Being Studied
 
Mediterranean Union
Mediterranean Carnival in Genoa, 9 Multicultural Festivals
 
North Africa
Algeria: Bomb Blasts Follow President’s Bid for New Term
Gaza: More Rockets on Neghev, No Victims
Tunisia: Research, Arab Country With Best Living Standards
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Hague: PNA Ministers Call for 2002-8 Inquiry Against Israel
 
Middle East
Cyprus: Unloaded Suspect Cargo With Arms for Hamas
Health: Turkey Attracting ‘Medical’ Tourists
Saudi Arabia: China to Build Makkah Railway by 2012
Turkey: Nearly 40 Percent of Women Abused, Poll
Turkey: Productive Population on the Rise, Says Expert
Turkey: 2 More Arrested in Massacre of Christians
 
Russia
Moscow Having Trouble Maintaining Role of “Hegemony” in Central Asia
Russians Warn of Afghan Parallels
Turkey-Russia: Trade Volume Reaches 32 Mln USD, Says Medvedev
 
South Asia
India: Divorce by Text Messaging and Email on the Rise Among Muslim Men
Pakistan: Bhutto’s Niece Linked to George Clooney
Pakistan: Presumed Guilty Five Ahmadis Arrested in Punjab for Blasphemy
 
Far East
Patriarch Kirill Meets Ye Xiaowen, China’s Religious Affairs Minister
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
North Korea: Pyongyang Prepares to Launch a Missile Able to Carry Nuclear Warheads
 
Latin America
Brazilian Government Says 99% of Citizens Are “Homophobic” and Must be Reeducated
 
Immigration
Domestic Violence: Daily Nightmare for Spanish Immigrants
Italy: Bangladeshi Ambassador Alarmed at Migrant Attacks
Magazine Puts Miami Among ‘Most Miserable Cities’
Naples Conference on Human Rights and Maghreb
Spanish Schools in Morocco to Stop Arrivals
 
Culture Wars
‘Gays’ Crush Christian Speech
 
General
Islam, War, and Deceit: a Synthesis (Part I)
The Heritage Foundation Presents New Documentary Video: 33 Minutes

Financial Crisis

A March on Washington?

Maybe it’s time to remind the politicians on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, that they still work for us and not the bankers, industrialists and merchant princes they are endowing with taxpayer money that belongs to us, our children, our grandchildren and their children. Politicians think the taxpayer-voter-citizens are so dumb that we forget the money they throw around like it was worthless paper actually belongs to us, “the People.” Clearly, the far left that now controls both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is apparently arrogant enough to think that once they arm wrestle it from the middle class it belongs to them.

Their philosophy is, “to the victors go the spoils.” That is, after all, the philosophy very seriously bantered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] who told the House GOP (when she shut them out of negotiations on the latest support the rich and the loyal socialists Stimulus Bill) that the leadership has a right to exclude the Republicans from participating in the legislating process during the 111th Congress because “they won the election.” Since the far left does not need the votes of Republicans to enact any piece of legislation, why give them a voice in what that legislation looks like?

[…]

The Senate version of the bill just passed is nothing more than a socialist, enlarge government, $885 billion “stimulus waste” boondoggle (reduced to $789.5 billion in Joint Conference) that promises something for just about everyone. One provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (which should have been named the Democratic Socialist Campaign Contributor Special Interest Reinvestment Act of 2009) seems to have been specifically inserted into the legislation to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union. The provision, Section 803(d)(2)(c), prohibits any form of religious activity— Christian religious activity, that is—from taking place in any college or university that accepts stimulus dollars. Clearly the provision is unconstitutional since it mandates religious discrimination and violates the 1st Amendment’s prohibition from creating laws that restrict the free exercise of religion.

[…]

DeMint continued: “We heard President Obama and former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair, say that faith gave us tools to solve problems that could not be solved without faith. This is a beautiful message and I think we all know it’s true. But then we come here and we find a provision in this massive spending bill that would make sure that students could never talk openly and honestly about their faith. The fact is that any university or college that takes any of the money in this bill to renovate an auditorium, dorm or student center could not hold the National Prayer Breakfast affair any longer because of what’s written in this bill.

“This bill,” he continued, “provides funds to modernize, renovate, repair facilities on college and university campuses—both private and public. But, there’s a phrase in there, a couple of lines, that says the facilities that accept these funds cannot use them for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or school or department of divinity or in which a substantial portion of the facility are subsumed in a religious mission. Keep in mind that a prayer has been called by our courts to be religious worship. What this means is that students cannot meet together in their dorms if that dorm has been repaired with this federal money, and have a prayer group or a Bible study. They can’t get together in their student centers, they can’t have a commencement service where their speakers talk about their personal faith. What this means to universities is legal risk. The threat of lawsuits from the ACLU if they allow any religious activity on a campus and take any of this money. It’s not just the particular facility, this money can be used be electrical wiring, plumbing, sewer systems and other things that affect every building on campus.

“This language has been written by very smart lawyers to do what they try to do—which is to intimidate the free speech of traditional, freedom-loving Americans…

[…]

Buried in the Senate’s $885 billion giveaway for socialist causes is a healthcare provision they won’t like. The healthcare provision in the Stimulus Bill—which purportedly will guarantee that everyone receives adequate healthcare—is just so much donkey kong. The mandate will ration healthcare to the elderly. Each hospital or healthcare facility in the nation will utilize an appointed board of bureaucrats who will decide whether or not an elderly patient who requires costly medical procedures which have been recommended by that patient’s doctor, will be allowed to have it. We’re not talking about elective surgery here, we are talking about absolutely necessary lifesaving procedures like angioplasty or heart bypass surgery.

As I warned the readers of jonchrisitanryter.com in 2002. 2005 and 2007, the State is increasingly assuming for itself the role of final arbitrator of life and death of the elderly. Every hospital now encourages the elderly to sign living wills. In some cases, the living will becomes just one more piece of paper shoved at them to sign when they are admitted to the hospital for treatment. The living will gives the hospital the authority to determine, when the patient is viewed as terminal, to pull the plug.

The problem is that when you are old enough—over 70—age itself is considered to be a terminal illness because you can’t recover from age. You just get older, more feeble, and more in need of constant attention. In addition, you are no longer viewed as a contributing member of society. You drain the assets of the State without returning a revenue stream to it. When you pass from this life, that drain on the resources of the State—both from Social Security check and Medicare and Medicaid—stop abruptly.

It is important for people to understand, in the epilog of this 222-year old saga called “The Demise and Fall of America,” “we-the-people” are no longer a free people. We have been reduced to human capital. We have become a commodity of the State—human chattel. Our rights, and our liberty, is being erased by government—one eraser stroke at a time. We need to ask ourselves— and we need to ask this question very quickly—are we going to allow the government of Barack Obamavelt to subvert the Bill of Rights and chain the American people to the global yoke of the transnational industrialists, bankers and merchant princes, whether socialist or free enterprise? Or, are we going to take our government back?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Federal Obligations Exceed World GDP

Does $65.5 trillion terrify anyone yet?

As the Obama administration pushes through Congress its $800 billion deficit-spending economic stimulus plan, the American public is largely unaware that the true deficit of the federal government already is measured in trillions of dollars, and in fact its $65.5 trillion in total obligations exceeds the gross domestic product of the world.

The total U.S. obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits to be paid in the future, effectively have placed the U.S. government in bankruptcy, even before new continuing social welfare obligation embedded in the massive spending plan are taken into account.

The real 2008 federal budget deficit was $5.1 trillion, not the $455 billion previously reported by the Congressional Budget Office, according to the “2008 Financial Report of the United States Government” as released by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

The difference between the $455 billion “official” budget deficit numbers and the $5.1 trillion budget deficit cited by “2008 Financial Report of the United States Government” is that the official budget deficit is calculated on a cash basis, where all tax receipts, including Social Security tax receipts, are used to pay government liabilities as they occur.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Freedom is Still the Best Policy

Eastern Europe won’t be looking for government-led recovery.

At the same time, it is clear that the invisible hand still points the way out of crises. It is easy to see when we look at how the postcommunist transition countries are tackling the economic crisis. After the collapse of communism, Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries launched several radical reforms and achieved remarkable economic growth. Some of these countries have trusted the invisible hand more, others less. As a result, not only have the results of reforms been different, but the impact of economic crises as well.

During the 1990s, the most radical and successful reforms came from the three Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Open markets, economic liberalization, fast privatization, stable currencies, flat tax rates — all of these became the trademark of the “Baltic Tigers.” Early in the new millennium, the Baltic countries started to enjoy the fruits of their reforms. Economic growth reached 11% to 12% per year. Living standards rose to 60% to 70% of the European average from 15% to 20% in 1992.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Moral Crisis is Root of Economic Crisis

A travesty of justice has occurred in Oakland, Calif. But realities surrounding this local issue point to how the economic crisis in our nation is symptomatic of and flows from a deeper fundamental moral crisis.

A black pastor awaits sentencing, which could amount to two years in prison and $4,000 in fines, for standing outside an inner-city abortion clinic holding a sign saying “Jesus Loves You & Your Baby, Let Us Help You,” and offering pro-life literature.

Walter Hoye, founder and chairman of the Issues4Life Foundation, was found guilty of “unlawful approach” under the “Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities Ordinance” enacted in Oakland in 2008.

Under the ordinance, it is prohibited, within 100 feet of the entrance to a “reproductive health facility,” to approach within eight feet of a client “for the purpose of counseling, harassing, or interfering” with that person.

“Harassing” means holding up a sign, passing out literature or offering counseling.

The “reproductive health care facility” in question is Family Planning Specialists in Oakland. Looking over the facility’s website, it’s clear that there is only one kind of reproductive health care they provide. Abortions.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Our New Trillion-Dollar Credit Card

Everyone in America wants the government to do something to end the economic tailspin — quick. The problem, of course, is that there is little agreement on what the government should do. Democrats, generally speaking, want to put a trillion dollars in purchases on a new credit card. The new purchases will provide the goods and services the government wants the people to have. Republicans, generally speaking, want to reduce taxes sufficiently to leave a trillion dollars in the pockets of the people so they can purchase the goods and services they want.

The proposed solution is an awkward combination of the goals of the Democrats and the Republicans. At best, it is little more than a Band-Aid on a cancer that has been growing in America for half a century.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Paulson May Have Made $67 Million in Lloyds Plunge

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) — Paulson & Co., the hedge fund run by billionaire John Paulson, may have made as much as $67 million in 25 minutes today as Lloyds Banking Group Plc lost about 5.9 billion pounds ($8.5 billion) in market value.

Lloyds fell the most in 20 years after saying HBOS Plc, the U.K. lender it took over last month, would report a 10 billion- pound pretax loss. The shares plunged as much as 43 percent in less than 25 minutes of London trading.

Paulson, who made billions from betting against the subprime mortgage market, held a Lloyds short position representing 0.79 percent of the bank, or 129.3 million shares, as of Jan. 20, according to a regulatory filing. DataExplorers.com, which tracks share borrowing from London, said 1.1 percent of the stock was on loan as of Feb. 11, the most recent data available. That’s down from as much as 8 percent six months ago and suggests Paulson held the bulk of the remaining short position.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Projected Jobs Numbers Don’t Quite Add Up

A White House estimate of the number of jobs stimulus legislation will create includes some sharp discrepancies between state and local jobs claims.

Those differences — which the document suggests are large rounding errors — was spotted by the office of House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, which assembled the chart above. It comes as the White House is seeking to define the stimulus package as a jobs bill, and to focus locally on the jobs it will create.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Trillions? Get Ready for Quadrillion

Debt clock in NYC modified to handle incomprehensible growth

NEW YORK — The Obama administration economic stimulus package is going to force the Treasury to borrow approximately $2.5 trillion in 2009 and another $4 trillion in 2010, with the result of increasing the current $10 trillion national debt by 65 percent in just two years.

If the Obama administration increases the national debt by 65 percent every two years, the debt will be $16.5 trillion in 2010 and $27.225 trillion by 2012, the year of the next presidential election.

To answer the question of how big a problem borrowing $6.5 trillion will be over the next two years, we decided to examine just how large 1 trillion actually is.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

USA

15 Amazing Yearbook Photos of U.S. Politicians

Note: This site could be termed “typical” American humor. As such, like a home grown tomato, it may not travel well. But then again, the Danes will laugh at anything and Australians are a bawdy bunch, so both may enjoy this site.

[Return to headlines]


Barack Obama Sends Bust of Winston Churchill on Its Way Back to Britain

Barack Obama has sent Sir Winston Churchill packing and pulse rates soaring among anxious British diplomats.

A bust of the former prime minister once voted the greatest Briton in history, which was loaned to George W Bush from the Government’s art collection after the September 11 attacks, has now been formally handed back.

The bronze by Sir Jacob Epstein, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds if it were ever sold on the open market, enjoyed pride of place in the Oval Office during President Bush’s tenure.

But when British officials offered to let Mr Obama to hang onto the bust for a further four years, the White House said: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Diplomats were at first reluctant to discuss the whereabouts of the Churchill bronze, after its ejection from the seat of American power. But the British Embassy in Washington has now confirmed that it sits in the palatial residence of ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald, just down the road from Vice President Joe Biden’s official residence. It is not clear whether the ambassador plans to keep it in Washington or send it back to London.

American politicians have made quoting Churchill, whose mother was American, something of an art form, but not Mr Obama, who prefers to cite the words and works of his hero Abraham Lincoln. Indeed a bust of Mr Lincoln now sits in the Oval Office where Epstein’s Churchill once ruled the roost.

Churchill has less happy connotations for Mr Obama than those American politicians who celebrate his wartime leadership. It was during Churchill’s second premiership that Britain suppressed Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion. Among Kenyans allegedly tortured by the colonial regime included one Hussein Onyango Obama, the President’s grandfather.

The rejection of the bust has left some British officials nervously reading the runes to see how much influence the UK can wield with the new regime in Washington.

Now it is likely that Gordon Brown will offer a alternative symbol of Anglo-American fealty when he visits Washington to meet Mr Obama for the first time since he became President. Diplomats are still working to finalise a date for the visit which is expected in the final week of this month or early in March.

One suggestion, given Mr Obama’s interest in the Lincoln era, is that Mr Brown should offer an artefact relating to the career of John Bright, the 19th Century MP and political reformer who became the most prominent British supporter of Lincoln’s Union forces during the American Civil War.

A British Embassy spokesman said: “The bust of Sir Winston Churchill by Sir Jacob Epstein was uniquely lent to a foreign head of state, President George W Bush, from the Government Art Collection in the wake of 9/11 as a signal of the strong transatlantic relationship.

“It was lent for the first term of office of President Bush. When the President was elected for his second and final term, the loan was extended until January 2009.

“The new President has decided not to continue this loan and the bust has now been returned. It is on display at the Ambassador’s Residence.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


Bookstore Features Obama Under ‘Religion’

‘Our team did not mean to imply inappropriate classification’

A bookstore in Texas has sparked some comments — and criticisms — for having displayed a number of books about Barack and Michelle Obama under a “Religion” sign in the children’s section of its facility.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Janeane Garofalo Says GOPers Are A**holes and Sarah Palin is ‘Small-Minded’’

Are you a conservative? Then you’re a d***, and there’s something wrong with your brain. At least that’s what “24” actress and comedienne Janeane Garofalo believes.

According to the former Air America radio host, a conservative starts out an “a**hole,” and the politics come later. She asserted, “The reason a person is a conservative republican (sic) is because something is wrong with them… It really is neuroscience.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama to Drop Sanctions on Iran

The report would probably seem preposterous if it weren’t for the fact that Team Obama already waived sanctions on Syria and is considering opening travel to Cuba. It’s like watching Carter on Speed.

This latest news comes from the February 18, 2009 edition of Geostrategy Direct…..

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Psychopaths in Black Robes

The appeals court in California has done it again, or as Rush Limbaugh calls this entity, “The Ninth Circus Court of Appeals.” An entry posted on Wall Street Journal blog, “Ruling on California Prison Overcrowding: Cut 57,000 Prisoners,” narrates an outrageous judicial opinion. These lunatics in black robes want to release over 57,000 murders, gang-bangers, drug addicts, drug dealers, rapists, child molesters and other assorted dregs upon Californians over a three-year period.

Why do these august jurists want to release such irredeemable people upon society? Allegedly due to prison overcrowding and the fact that “some inmates die regularly of suicides or lack of proper care.” Well, boo-freakin’-hoo! That’s why they call it prison. It’s supposed to be a bad place so that other potential criminals will think twice before they do something stupid to get sent to prison in the first place.

[…]

Here are some suggestions to stem the tide of crazy judicial opinions coming out of our judicial system from the Supreme Court on down. Let’s start with the proverb: “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” We the People, through our elected representatives, have got to put the fear of God back into these judges. They work for us; we don’t work for them. The minute one of these crazy, immoral, unconstitutional opinions is published, we must demand that our politicians immediately file articles of impeachment and hold these radical judges as traitors. This is part of the system of checks and balances so vital to health of our republic. […]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


State of New Hampshire: HCR6 — a Resolution Affirming States’ Rights Based on Jeffersonian Principles.

That any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America. Acts which would cause such a nullification include, but are not limited to:

I. Establishing martial law or a state of emergency within one of the States comprising the United States of America without the consent of the legislature of that State.

II. Requiring involuntary servitude, or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

III. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

IV. Surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government.

V. Any act regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press.

VI. Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition; and

That should any such act of Congress become law or Executive Order or Judicial Order be put into force, all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually. Any future government of the United States of America shall require ratification of three quarters of the States seeking to form a government of the United States of America and shall not be binding upon any State not seeking to form such a government; and

That copies of this resolution be transmitted by the house clerk to the President of the United States, each member of the United States Congress, and the presiding officers of each State’s legislature.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


U.S. Muslim TV Exec Charged With Beheading Wife

[Video TV report]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Canada

New Law to Give Police Access to Online Exchanges

OTTAWA — The Conservative government is preparing sweeping new eavesdropping legislation that will force Internet service providers to let police tap exchanges on their systems — but will likely reignite fear that Big Brother will be monitoring the private conversations of Canadians.

The goal of the move, which would require police to obtain court approval, is to close what has been described as digital “safe havens” for criminals, pedophiles and terrorists because current eavesdropping laws were written in a time before text messages, Facebook and voice-over-Internet phone lines.

The change is certain to please the RCMP and other police forces, who have sought it for some time. But it is expected to face resistance from industry players concerned about the cost and civil libertarians who warn the powers will effectively place Canadians under constant surveillance.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Denmark: Yellow Ribbons in Support of Military Personnel

The yellow ribbon insignia from the US showing support for military personnel has made its way to DenmarkCarrying the motto ‘Support Our Troops’ the yellow ribbon popular in the United States is now becoming more and more common in Denmark…

Carrying the motto ‘Support Our Troops’ the yellow ribbon popular in the United States is now becoming more and more common in Denmark as a way of showing support for military personnel serving abroad.

According to Michael Jensen, head of the army’s Family Network, a support organisation for active military personnel and their families, a fellow employee got the idea of bringing the tradition to Denmark after seeing how positive the effect was on American soldiers.

Danes can now demonstrate their own support for the country’s armed forces by wearing yellow ribbon lapel pins, or magnets that can be placed onto the back of cars.

The idea is based on an American tradition where a large yellow ribbon was tied around a tree by wives and girlfriends of soldiers, to indicate that they still wanted their partners.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Poison Mail Sent to Israel Embassy at Norway

Two post office workers have got poison from mail, which was sent to Israel embassy at Norway. Workers received burn wounds in their hands and faces. Workers are now treated at Ullevål hospital and have not received more symptoms.

Reference (in Finnish) Norjassa kaksi sairaalaan myrkkykirjeestä

Updated 21:43

At the moment they suspect, that letter contained chemicals — not biological disease. Workers have been isolated for the moment. Reference (in Finnish) Myrkkykirje vei postin työntekijöitä eristyksiin

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


Protesters March Over Job Losses

Protesters also urged the Welsh Assembly Government to provide aid to save up to 40 jobs at Eaton Electric in the town which is to close this year.

More than 250 jobs will be lost at the plant with the work moving to Austria.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it was discussing possible grant aid with Eaton Electric.

The factory, which makes miniature electronic circuit breakers, announced last October it would close the plant by December 2009.

Production is being moved to Austria.

The isle of Anglesey is turning into an industrial wasteland Glyn Haynes, Unite

However, union leaders are hoping that some after-sales jobs could be retained at the Holyhead site.

Island MP Albert Owen, who was at Saturday’s protest said it aimed” to draw attention of the Welsh Assembly Government to the importance of a legacy for Eaton here in Holyhead. […]

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe[Return to headlines]


UK Officials Head to Guantanamo Bay to Prepare British Detainee for Release

A team of UK officials were today travelling to Guantanamo Bay to visit British detainee Binyam Mohamed and make preparations for his expected release.

The team, who left Miami Airport today en route to the US prison camp on Cuba, include a doctor who will assess Mr Mohamed’s condition, the Foreign Office said.

Legal representatives of the Ethiopian-born detainee, who has refugee status in the UK, hope that he will be cleared for release and return to Britain within days by a review ordered by President Barack Obama.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Energy Experts to Visit Every Home to Help Them Go Green

Teams of energy advisers will visit every home in the country over the next two decades in an effort to make all the buildings in Britain carbon neutral.

The mass energy audits will be part of the biggest overhaul of the housing stock since switching to gas central heating forty years ago.

“The Great British Refurb” will fit every home in need of insulation in the roof or walls by 2015. By 2030 every home will be offered a “whole house” green refurbishment, including fitting renewable heat technologies like ground source heat pumps and solar panels.

Launching a consultation on the scheme, Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said teams of energy advisers would go around “house by house, street by street” to advise people how to improve their homes.

Loans would then be made available to pay for the new technologies, that can cost thousands of pounds.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Hospital Let 80-Year-Old Man Walk Home to His Death — Because Payphone Was Broken

[Comment from JD: This UK health plan is now coming to America, courtesy of Obama “stimulus” plan.]

A hospital has been censured by health watchdogs for letting an elderly man walk home unsupervised to his death after a blood transfusion.

Novelist Aplyn Wynn-Jones, 80, was discharged from the hospital after receiving treatment for anaemia.

He was found by his daughter Alison the next day at his home in his armchair wrapped in blankets, and died within hours of organ failure and a heart attack.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Muslim Girl in Baptism Row Was Fleeing an Arranged Marriage

The foster mother struck off for allowing a Muslim girl to convert to Christianity took the child in after she was threatened with an arranged marriage.

The woman, a devout Christian, was asked to care for the teenager after the authorities learned of her abusive family background.

Her father beat her just for chatting to boys and warned he would haul her off to Pakistan to marry against her will, a friend claimed.

But council officials were angered when the girl chose to be baptised. They insist the foster mother failed in her duty to preserve the girl’s original religion.

As a result, the girl was removed and the foster mother struck off the register last November, despite having worked with children for ten years with a perfect record.

Neither the carer, who has looked after more than 80 children, nor the girl, who is now 17, can be identified.

But a friend of the girl claimed yesterday:

‘Her dad is a very strict Muslim who could get violent. One time he hit her with a belt just because she chatted with a couple of boys.

‘Another time he beat her over and over and said he would take her to Pakistan and make her marry.

‘She really didn’t want that. She was very frightened. Her dad would shout and swear at her and told her that she’d shamed the family.

‘Her mother didn’t really do anything to protect her.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Terror Police Arrest Nine Men Travelling on Motorway in North-West

Nine men were arrested in a counter-terrorism operation after being stopped on a motorway by anti-terror police.

The men were travelling on the M65, near Preston, Lancashire when they were arrested last night in a joint operation by Lancashire Constabulary and the North West Counter Terrorism Unit.

Six of the men were later released without charge, while three men, aged 26, 29 and 36, remained in custody today.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Bosnian Imam Convicted in Sex Abuse Case

The imam’s convictions was the first of a Muslim religious official in Bosnia

A court in central Bosnia sentenced an imam on Friday to 18 months in jail for sexually abusing a girl during religious classes, the first such conviction of a Muslim religious official in the Balkan country.

Resad Omerhodzic was accused of taking female students to a remote mountainous village and abusing them sexually. A family of one girl filed charges against him.

“This is a conspiracy against me,” Omerhodzic said after leaving the courtroom in Travnik flanked by his supporters.

“I was sentenced … because of a media campaign.” His lawyers said they would appeal.

Nobody from the girl’s family was available for comment after the verdict.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


EU-Serbia: Rehn, First SAA Then Request to Join

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, FEBRUARY 12 — Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, confirmed today in Belgrade that a future request by Serbia for acceptance into the European Union can occur only after full application of the Interim Trade Agreement and a wider application of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). Rehn explained his position at the end of a meeting today in Belgrade with Serbian President Boris Tadic and Premier Mirko Cvetkovic. Belgrade has made it known in recent days that they want to present a request for acceptance into the EU in the first quarter of this year, by the end of the temporary Czech presidency. However, the two agreements with Brussels, the Interim Trade Agreement and the SAA, have been kept frozen by Brussels until Serbia arrests and hands over Tadko Mladic, the former military leader of the Bosnian Serbs accused of war crimes, to the International Criminal Court of the Hague.(ANSAmed

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


EU-Serbia: Rehn, Aid Package for Crisis Being Studied

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, FEBRUARY 12 — The European Union is looking into the possibility of sustaining Serbia and other Balkan countries with an economic package which will help them overcome the global crisis. European Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, made the announcement today after studying Serbia’s prospects for integration into the European Union with the country’s leaders. “As a concrete sign in these turbulent times, the EU is studying possible help to the budget to assist Serbia in overcoming the crisis more easily” said Rehn to journalists following a meeting with Serbia’s President Boris Tadic. The Commissioner pointed out that the EU has been supporting Serbia over past years with half a billion euros in funds. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Mediterranean Carnival in Genoa, 9 Multicultural Festivals

(ANSAmed) — GENOA, FEBRUARY 13 — Nine large Carnival festivals will take place in the nine primary municipalities of the city, linked to as many locations in the Mediterranean, from Tarragona to Jerusalem to Malta. From February 14-28, Genoa will be host to the first multicultural Carnival dedicated to the Mediterranean following the idea of Gianpiero Alloisio and organised as a part of city and territorial promotions coordinated by Nando Dalla Chiesa. Patrasso (Greece), Nice (France), Tarragona (Spain), Souse (Tunisia), Viareggio, Malta, Limassol (Cyprus), Lagosta (Croatia) and Jerusalem are the nine Mediterranean cities whose customs and traditions will animate the city’s festivals. These will culminate on February 28 with the great “Zena Carnavao”, a festival in which artists from the nine areas will render homage to the other Carnivals in the Mediterranean, reinventing the observances. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Bomb Blasts Follow President’s Bid for New Term

Algiers, 13 Feb. (AKI) — Two roadside bombs exploded in eastern Algeria killing at least seven people, hours after president Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced he would seek a third term in the forthcoming elections in April.

The first bomb exploded late Thursday at the town of Foum el-Metlag on the Tunisian border, killing four members of a family, Algeria’s state news agency APS said.

The second bomb went off when rescue services arrived after the first attack, killing two police officers and a firefighter. No militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Bouteflika, 71, is widely expected to win the elections. Bouteflika has controlled North Africa’s largest country, a major oil and gas exporter, since 1999.

The Socialist Forces Front, a leading Algerian opposition party announced on Friday it would boycott the 9 April elections and called on voters to back the boycott

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


Gaza: More Rockets on Neghev, No Victims

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, FEBRUARY 13 — Three Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip exploded today in the western Neghev, Israeli territory, without causing victims or damage, military sources reported. The new attacks came while news came from Cairo on the imminent announcement of an agreement between Egypt and Hamas for a year and a half long period of calm. This news has not yet been recognised by Israel. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Tunisia: Research, Arab Country With Best Living Standards

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, FEBRUARY 13 — Tunisia is the Arab country in which it “is more pleasant to live”, according to “International Living”, a global observatory on the quality of life. The country earned a total of 54 points on a total of 100, and Tunisia came in the top 26 of the 194 countries that were taken into consideration. France came in first place in the ‘International Living’’ rankings with 80 points, followed by Switzerland (79), the United States (78), Luxemburg (76), and Australia (76). Tunisia led the Arab world with 56 points, over Morocco (55), Lebanon and Jordan (54), Bahrain (51), and Egypt and Syria (50). The rankings take a series of characteristics into consideration, including cost of living, the economic situation, environment, culture and leisure, infrastructure, risk and security, and climate. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Hague: PNA Ministers Call for 2002-8 Inquiry Against Israel

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, FEBRUARY 13 — The Justice and Foreign ministries of the Palestine National Authority have today called on the International Crimial Court (ICC) in the Hague for an inquiry into the “war crimes” allegedly committed by the Israeli army on Palestinian territory from July 2002 — the date on which the Court’s jurisdiction came into effect — until today. Justice Minister Ali Kachan and Foreign Minister, Riad al-Malki, held a long meeting with the Court’s attorney, Louis Moreno-Ocampo, announcing that they had deposited with him other documents ‘on war crimes and crimes against humanity not only in Gaza, during the recent conflict, but from 2002 to the present’’. The first request made by the PNA was presented in Ocampo on February 3. The Attorney noted on that occasion that before deciding whether or not to open an investigation it would be necessary to verify whether the PNA had the legal authority to accept the Court’s jurisdiction. Since then, the PNA has presented a declaration to the ICC, in which the Court’s jurisdiction is accepted “for an indeterminate period” for acts “committed on Palestinian territory since the first of July 2002”. An analogous declaration presented by Sierra Leone, which is not a member of the Court, has been accepted. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Cyprus: Unloaded Suspect Cargo With Arms for Hamas

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, FEBRUARY 13 — Cyprus’ authorities offloaded a cargo of weapons from the ship detained for violating United Nations sanctions on Iran, according to CyBC radio. The ship has been detained off Cyprus, its flag-state, since January 29 after it was boarded by US naval personnel in the Red Sea. US military authorities said the ship was travelling to Syria from Iran and had been carrying arms maybe for the Palestinian movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Cyprus’ government and United Nations Security Council sources have said the ship appears to be carrying material from Iran prohibited under UN resolutions. Iran has denied the ship was carrying weapons. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Health: Turkey Attracting ‘Medical’ Tourists

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, FEBRUARY 11 — Turkey is attracting medical tourists from European countries who are looking for more economical healthcare, compared to their home country, local press reported. The current economic climate is encouraging foreigners to look for more cost-effective healthcare. This search has led to Turkey being put on the map for being a popular destination for medical tourists. Turkey experienced a 40% growth in the number of foreign tourists from 150,000 in 2007 to 200,000 in 2008. Many foreigners are also attracted by Turkey’s vacation opportunities on offer, which influences many to combine their need for healthcare with their holidays. According to the Association of Improving Health Tourism, Europeans prefer Turkey for specific healthcare treatments. It was further highlighted by the association that Turkey mostly receives patients from Belgium, United Kingdom, France and Netherlands. It is also estimated that Turkey’s income from health tourism could reach $10 million within the next three to five years. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Saudi Arabia: China to Build Makkah Railway by 2012

(ANSAmed) — ROMA, 11 FEB — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah held wide-ranging talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, who arrived in Riyadh yesterday with a mission to strengthen strategic ties between Riyadh and Beijing, especially in the oil and petrochemical sector. The Kingdom and China later signed five bilateral agreements, Arab News reported today. The agreements signed included cooperation in oil, gas and mining; in the field of health; on quality inspection and standards of goods and services; on the Makkah railway project. The new railway will link the holy sites of Makkah, Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah. It will cost SR6.65 billion and will be implemented in two years. 35% of the project’s capacity would be used during the Haj of 2010 and full capacity will be reached by the Haj of 2012. Oil and oil products dominate bilateral trade, worth about USD 42 billion. Saudi Arabia exported 36 million tons of oil to China in 2008. During his three-day trip, Hu would visit a cement production project constructed by Chinese companies in Riyadh. On the sidelines of the summit-level meeting, senior Saudi and Chinese officials held talks with a focus on trade and investment relations, with special reference to new markets for Chinese goods and workers. Diplomatic sources said Hu would also meet with Secretary General of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Saudi Arabia-China: Hu Jintao Ends Visit After Agreements

(ANSAmed) — RIYADH, FEBRUARY 12 — The president of China, Hu Jintao, has concluded his official 2-day visit to Saudi Arabia. During his visit, important economic, oil and energy deals were finalised, as well as agreements in other sectors, as reported by Saudi press agency Spa. Hu,leading a large Chinese delegation including the Foreign and Trade ministers, visited Riyadh mainly to secure the supply of Saudi crude oil for his energy-hungry country. However, he also signed a contract worth almost 1.4 billion euros for the monorail train to move pilgrims to holy sites. Yesterday the Saudi group Acwa Power International, which specialises in power generation and water desalination, announced a partnership with Chinese giant Shanghai Electric Power Generation Group for two projects: one in Saudi Arabia and the other in a non-specified Gulf country. Trade between Saudi Arabia and China, two countries which have only had diplomatic relations since 1990, was worth more than 40 billion dollars in 2008, a significant increase from the 25 billion dollars the year before. Hu Jintao will continue his visit to Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius to give a new impulse to the penetration of the Chinese economy in Africa. In his third visit to Africa since he became president of China in 2003, Hu wants to show China is not just interested in exploiting Africa’s resources. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkey: Nearly 40 Percent of Women Abused, Poll

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, FEBRUARY 12 — Four out of ten Turkish women are victims of physical abuse by their husbands and only a fraction report it to authorities, according to an official survey released today and published by daily Hurriyet website. The poll, conducted among 12,795 women in summer of 2008, found that 39% of those were “slapped, pushed, punched, choked, burnt or threatened or attacked with a weapon such as a knife or gun”. Fifteen percent said they were victims of sexual abuse, described by the survey as being physically forced to have sex, having sex out of fear or being forced to engage in degrading or humiliating sexual acts. One in four women was injured as a result of physical or sexual violence. The poll, released by the governments office on the status of women, said that 48.5% of the victims did not tell anyone about the abuse while only 4% sought help from police and a mere one percent sought refuge in state-run shelters. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkey: Productive Population on the Rise, Says Expert

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, FEBRUARY 9 — The Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) announced Turkey’s latest demographic figures, gathered using the Address-Based Population Registration System. The figures, as daily Sunday’s Zaman reported, show that Turkey’s population, which was 70,586,256 in 2007, increased by 1.32%, reaching 71,517,100 in 2008. According to TurkStat, the annual population growth rate in Turkey was 2.17% between 1985 and 1990. It fell to 1.83% between 1990 and 2000. Population increase has been a matter of debate since the foundation of the Turkish Republic; for decades people have argued about whether it poses a challenge or an advantage for Turkey. Speaking to Sunday’s Zaman, Sutay Yavuz, a demography expert and the deputy chairman of the Population Association of Turkey (ND), evaluated Turkey’s most recent population figures. Yavuz said the population figures reveal that the productive population, aged between 15 and 65, is on the rise in Turkey while the population below 15, which had been on the rise until recently due to the high fertility rate in Turkey, is now on the decline. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkey: 2 More Arrested in Massacre of Christians

Suspects in deaths of trio killed at publishing house

Two more men have been charged in connection with the deaths of three Christians at a publishing house in Malatya, Turkey, including a former volunteer worker at the business, according to a new report.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Russia

Moscow Having Trouble Maintaining Role of “Hegemony” in Central Asia

In strengthening ties with Uzbekistan — and access to its gas — Russia risks disappointing the demands of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The three states are discussing the use of water resources, and waiting to see what position Moscow will take.

Taskent (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Sharp disagreements among Central Asian states are forcing Russia to take a stance, causing bad blood.

Moscow wants to improve its relations with Uzbekistan, whose recent excessively pro-Western stance it did not “digest.” After the European Union removed sanctions in 2008, in place since 2005 because of the massacre of civilians in Andijan, Tashkent authorized U.S. planes to use the base in Termez for operations in Afghanistan, and could permit Washington to return to the base of Karshi-Khanabad. Above all, Russia wants to maintain its monopoly on Uzbek gas, and block the country from participating in the European oil pipeline Nabucco.

To emphasize the resumption of excellent relations, after Russian president Dmitry Medvedev’s trip to Tashkent (January 22-24), Uzbek president Islam Karimov said that his country wants to export all of its gas to Russia (16 billion cubic meters in 2009), and supports the modernization of gas pipelines between Central Asia and Russia (which also transport Turkmen gas). For his part, Medvedev confirmed that Russia will pay market prices for this gas (projected to be 300 dollars per thousand cubic meters for the first quarter of 2009).

Mevdevev also said that Russia will not support any hydroelectric plants that do not take into consideration the interests of all states in the region. But this has raised alarms in Tajikistan, which is building the Rogun hydroelectric plant on the Amu-Darya river, and in Kyrgyzstan, which is building the Kambar-Ata plant on the Syr-Darya river.

There is controversy over the plants because Uzbekistan maintains that they would remove important water resources from its arable land, downstream of the two rivers. For their part, the two states have long criticized Uzbekistan for selling its gas at inflated prices. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan consider these hydroelectric plants essential for their energy independence.

Previously, Moscow had supported these plants. It had promised Kyrgyzstan 2 billion dollars in financing, 1.7 billion of it earmarked for the hydroelectric sector.

In reply, Tajikistan’s foreign minister has said that he “does not understand” the statements by Medvedev. The media in Kyrgyzstan have accused Moscow of “betrayal.” Now everyone is waiting to see what Russia will actually do.

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


Russians Warn of Afghan Parallels

Russia marks the 20th anniversary of its withdrawal from Afghanistan, officials in Moscow are warning that US and Nato-led forces are making exactly the same mistakes as the Soviet Union made when it invaded the country in 1979.

The BBC’s Richard Galpin has been speaking to experts and veterans, who remember the withdrawal after 10 years of occupation as a traumatic and humiliating experience.

Lt Gen Ruslan Aushev, a Hero of the Soviet Union, sports a moustache that hangs over his mouth like a heavy velvet curtain.

But from the dark morass emerge words of precision and directness that befit a much-decorated commander of the Soviet military venture in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

“We were there for 10 years and we lost more than 14,000 soldiers, but what was the result? Nothing,” he tells me as we sit in his office on one of central Moscow’s most fashionable streets.

[…]

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe[Return to headlines]


Turkey-Russia: Trade Volume Reaches 32 Mln USD, Says Medvedev

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, FEBRUARY 13 — Trade volume between Turkey and Russia reached 32 billion USD, Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev said on Friday as reported by Anatolia news agency from Moscow. Holding a joint press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul during his visit in the Russian capital, Medvedev said that they exceeded the target in trade volume figures, adding that the trade volume increased 35 times in the last ten years. “It is a great success,” he said. Stressing the importance of increasing mutual investments, Medvedev said that Turkey and Russia were experienced regarding the implementation of energy projects. He said that Russia wanted to develop cooperation with Turkey in electricity and atomic energy areas within the scope of this experience. Gul expressed belief that Turkish-Russian trade volume would be increased significantly and reach 40-50 billion USD and also expressed pleasure that nearly three million Russian tourists preferred to visit Turkey every year. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Divorce by Text Messaging and Email on the Rise Among Muslim Men

New Delhi, 13 Feb. (AKI/Asian Age) — A rights organisation based in India said that divorces through e-mail, text message (SMS) and telephone are on the rise among India’s Muslim population.

A study on “Marriage and divorce amongst Muslim women in India”, undertaken by Sahiba Hussain, reader, Centre for Dalit and Minorities, Jamia Milia Islamia, highlights that more and more men are divorcing via SMS and e-mail.

Where women do not have access to mobile phones or computers, men use landline phones to pronounce the divorce declaration. “From 15 divorces that we looked at in 2008, eight were pronounced via SMS, e-mail and over the phone,” said Husssain.

“Five divorce declarations were given face to face but amongst these also, only in one case a witness present when the declaration was made,” she said.

The phenomenon is taking place despite a decree by the All-India Muslim Women Personal Law Board’s which forbids men from divorcing by electronic means.

Most of the SMS’ and e-mails had husbands complaining along predictable lines. They did not find the wife “beautiful enough”, “compatible enough” or of having brought “adequate dowry”.

Dowry demands are on the rise and the minimum cash payment being made by the wife’s family to the bridegroom is 5,000 rupees or the equivalent of 80 euros.

Even those families which earn as little 10 rupees per day or 15 euro cents are expected to fork out a dowry.

“One woman was so confused after receiving the SMS that she sought clarification from the qazi, or Islamic judge who, on reading the pronouncement, said that it did amount to a divorce.

“The husband was working abroad when he sent it,” Hussain said.

Over 30 women have been interviewed so far from Delhi and several other cities in Bihar including Darbanga, Madhubani, Munghyar and Gaya in Bihar.

The idea was to include feedback from women living in both urban and rural India. Only one woman received a registered notice. In 90 percent of the cases it was found that women had to wait, sometimes as long as 27 years, just to recover her ‘meher’ or dowry, with husbands giving assurance that the “meher would be given to the woman at an appropriate time”.

With Islamic judges not being in a position to ensure bridegrooms pay the maintenance or support money, a majority of Muslim women seek maintenance through civil courts, the study concludes.

Women divorcees are among those with the lowest social status in Indian Muslim society.

The report cites the example of one such divorced woman who faces much social stigma while “until today, her younger two sisters have remained unmarried”, said Hussain.

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


Pakistan: Bhutto’s Niece Linked to George Clooney

Islamabad, 13 Feb. (AKI) — Fatima Bhutto, the 26 year-old niece of slain Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, has been linked romantically to Hollywood actor and director, George Clooney.

The US tabloid, The National Enquirer , claimed the young journalist was dating the Academy Award-winning actor. Without quoting any source, the tabloid claimed that the pair began dating after they met at an international conference, but the newspaper report did not provide a date, venue or title for the conference.

“She didn’t take his advances seriously because she thought their age difference would make a serious relationship impractical,” the tabloid said.

Forty-seven-year old Clooney who divorced several years ago is considered one of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors.

“He’s still out there with his usual assortment of Hollywood eye-candy hanging from his arm. But George insists those days could be coming to an end if Fatima wants to take their relationship to the next level and spend some serious time with him in the US,” the report said.

Fatima Bhutto, estranged niece of Benazir Bhutto, played an active role in Pakistan’s national elections last year. She claimed her late aunt’s party, the Pakistan People’s Party, was guilty of widespread election fraud and vote-rigging.

Bhutto, who is also an author, is not aligned with a political party but supports the breakaway party founded by her mother, Ghinwa Bhutto, the widow of Murtaza, Benazir’s brother.

Murtaza was killed in a police shoot-out in Karachi in 1996, when Benazir was prime minister.

Fatima Bhutto is also the grand-daughter of Pakistan’s former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

She reportedly lives in a plush suburb of Karachi with her brother and step-mother.

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


Pakistan: Presumed Guilty Five Ahmadis Arrested in Punjab for Blasphemy

Asma Jahangir, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, slams the charges, urging the government to prevent abuses in the application of the law. The Ahmadis in question are accused of defacing the walls of a bathroom in a mosque with offensive graffiti. For the Commission an extremist organisation and a relative of a local politician put pressure on police to incriminate the group.

Lahore (AsiaNews) — Five Ahmadi in Punjab’s Layyah district have been arrested on charges of blasphemy. No evidence has been presented, nor has any witness come forth. They were just detain on a “presumption of guilt,” this according to Asma Jahangir, chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and United Nations Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion. For this reason she has called on the government to take prompt measures to prevent abuses of the law.

Last week the HRCP sent a fact-finding team to Punjab to get more information about the case. After a preliminary examination of the evidence they discovered that the blasphemy accusation was levelled at the five Ahmadis without any prior investigation being undertaken by police.

The HRCP team demanded a prompt and transparent inquiry into the matter to ensure that innocent people are not unjustly accused. It also called on the government to ensure the protection of the local Ahmadiyya community

For Islamic fundamentalists the Ahmadis are a heretical sect that cannot claim to be Muslim because they do not recognise Muhammad as the final prophet. Because of this they have suffered persecution in Pakistan but also in Bangladesh and Indonesia.

This particular incident began when five Ahmadi students, who had been duly authorised to pray in the local mosque, were told not to come back to the holy place.

With such a threat hanging over their heads, the five men were accused ten days later of scribbling offensive graffiti on the walls of the mosque’s bathroom.

According to the official complaint filed against them, since they were the only non-Muslims in the mosque, “only they could be responsible for the offence.”

For the HRCP the facts are quite different. It squarely lays the blame on elements belonging to a banned extremist organisation and on a relative of a local Pakistani politician who put pressure on police to get them to incriminate the Ahmadis on the basis of “presumption of guilt.”

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

Far East

Patriarch Kirill Meets Ye Xiaowen, China’s Religious Affairs Minister

For years the Moscow Patriarchate has been trying to breathe new life into China’s Orthodox Church, relying on the influence of politicians like Putin and Sino-Russian economic relations.

Moscow (AsiaNews/orthodox.cn) — The newly elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill met a delegation of the People’s Republic of China led by Ye Xiaowen, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, who is well-known for his anti-Vatican attacks.

The meeting took place on 2 February but was reported only yesterday on the Orthodoxy in China website. Kirill thanked Ye for the visit which took place “on the day of my enthronement”, he said. As a matter of fact, it occurred a day earlier.

The patriarch noted that the two had already met in 2006 during the World Summit of Religious Leaders held in Moscow at the time of a G8 summit.

“It was a very good meeting and satisfactory conversation”, said Kirill. “Since that time our relationship has received many positive developments,” he added.

Improving relations between Russian and Chinese Orthodox (about 15,000 spread across China’s vast territory) is even included in the Sino-Russian Treaty of good neighbourliness for 2009 — 2012.

When he was in charge of the Moscow Patriarchate’s External Relations Department, Kirill had tried for the years to get the Chinese to allow the Russian Orthodox Church to train Chinese Orthodox seminarians train so as to re-establish a Chinese Orthodox clergy.

Several times the new patriarch had offered to send Russian clergymen to China for the care of Orthodox worshippers, to little success because religious freedom is not fully guaranteed in China since the Orthodox Church is not a recognised religious organisation in the country.

In recent years the late Patriarch Aleksij tried to get China to open up through Vladimir Putin’s influence and China’s need for Russian oil.

During his meeting with Ye, Kirill mentioned the various problems Orthodox communities face in mainland China. They include rebuilding the Dormition church on the grounds of the Russian Embassy in Beijing and the lack of Orthodox clergy in Harbin, Urumqi, Ghulja (Yining) and Labdarin (E’erguna).

The Russian Orthodox Church arrived in China some 300 years ago. Its first communities were made up of Russian immigrants concentrated in the north of the country. Currently most believers are still of Russian origin, living in four main locations: Harbin (Heilongjiang), where there is a parish dedicated to the protective mantle of the Mother of God, in Labdarin (Outer Mongolia), and in Kulj and Urumqi (Xinjiang).

China’s Cultural Revolution had devastating effects on Orthodox bishops and priests. Still today there are no local priests and worshippers meet on and off on Sundays to pray.

There are however 13 Chinese Orthodox seminarians studying at the Sretenskaya Theological Academy in Moscow and the Academy of St Petersburg.

Russian Orthodox priests come to China on Christmas and Easter to celebrate various services but inside Russia’s embassy and consulates.

China’s Orthodox Church is a separate jurisdiction, but the Patriarchates of Moscow and Constantinople are trying to draw it into their fold.

Hong Kong-based Metropolitan Nektarios’ jurisdiction comes under that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. His seat publishes material for Chinese worshippers and the metropolitan has often stressed the need for greater religious freedom in China.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

North Korea: Pyongyang Prepares to Launch a Missile Able to Carry Nuclear Warheads

The test could take place on February 25th the first anniversary of the mandate of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. The Taepodong-2 missile is 36 metres tall and can contain up to 500 kg of nuclear warheads. February 16th the North celebrates the 67th birthday of the “dear Leader”.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Pyongyang is assembling a Taepodong-2 missile at Musudan-ri base in North Hamgyong province, on its east coast. The rocket is able to carry a nuclear war head and the launch could take place February 25th next to coincide with the 1st anniversary of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s instalment, the South Korean paper Chosun Ilbo reports, citing intelligence sources in Seoul.

“We assume — the source underlines — that they are currently assembling the first and second-stage rockets”. North Korea recently transported the first and second stage of the Taepodong-2 to its missile base on a special train and has been assembling the pieces at an indoor facility to prevent spy satellites from watching.

Sources report the missile, thought to be about 36 metres tall, needs to be positioned vertically, sent to a launch pad and fuelled. It is capable of hitting Alaska and the West coast of the United States and can carry up to 500 kg of nuclear warheads. On July 5th 2006 North Korea attempted to launch the same type of rocket but failed: the missile exploded 40 seconds after lift off.

North Korea is also preparing to launch short-range missiles near Northern Limit Line, a disputed Yellow Sea border with South Korea off the west coast.

The North will celebrate its “Dear Leader” leader Kim Jong-il’s 67th birthday on Monday, who seems to have made a full recovery from the stroke he suffered August last. Next week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will make her first overseas trip: the head of US diplomacy will visit Asia and the North’s nuclear agenda will likely take top priority in talks.

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

Latin America

Brazilian Government Says 99% of Citizens Are “Homophobic” and Must be Reeducated

BRASILIA, February 13, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) — The Brazilian government has determined that 99% of its citizens are “homophobic,” and therefore must be reeducated, according to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo.

The results are taken from a study that tested for “homophobia” by asking people to comment on such statements as “God made men and women with different sexes so that they could fulfill their role and have children.” The 92% of Brazilians who agreed partially or completely with the statement were labeled “homophobic.”

Another test question for “homophobia” was, “Homosexuality is a sin against the laws of God.” Fifty-eight percent of Brazilians agreed.

Those who agreed partially or completely that “Homosexuality is an illness that should be treated” (41%) were also labeled “homophobic,” as were those who objected to homosexuals kissing and hugging in public (64%).

According to O Globo, Brazil’s federal government will use the data “to plan new policies, and warns that it has now detected a dark consequence of so much prejudice: intolerance.” The study was performed by an organization linked to the socialist Labor Party, which currently occupies the nation’s executive branch and predominates in the legislature.

[…]

“What is surprising is how a population that is 99% against homosexuality is accepting passively that its 100% pro-homosexuality government is lifting homosexual acts to the level of inviolable sacredness,” wrote Brazilian pro-family activist Julio Severo on his blog, Last Days Watchman, “and at the same time it is lowering 99% of Brazilians to the class of ‘ignorant mob’ that should be forcefully condemned to state policies of reeducation,

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Domestic Violence: Daily Nightmare for Spanish Immigrants

(by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 13 — Bibiana Aido, the Spanish Minister for Equality, has said that there were four hundred reports of domestic violence per day in 2008: reports which can be seen as cries for help to escape the crushing silence, and rebel against the torture hidden in ordinary homes. This data is just a symptom of the daily terror which threatens women. In 2008, 146,000 women reported that they had suffered violent abuse at the hands of their spouse, an average of 400 per day, compared to 348 registered the previous year. The 16% increase of reports shows a greater sensitivity to the problem but also that the social plague of domestic violence — against which José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s government passed their first law the day after the March 2004 election — shows no sign of fading away. “We have to be able to respond to such a request for help as a society and let women know that they are no longer alone and they never will be again”, said Ms. Aido. Apparently, the threat of domestic violence also affects other innocent people, since statistics show that 40% of children who live in a violent atmosphere suffer “directly” with their mother, whilst 100% suffer from “exposure to violence”. “We must strengthen measures to protect children”, said the minister for equality, who since the creation of her department during the current legislature, has set out on a crusade against the phenomenon. “Confronted by domestic violence, you cannot remain neutral”, she said, since this attitude “makes you complicit”. Figures show that the domestic violence emergency affects immigrant women ever increasingly. In fact, immigrant women account for 45% of the 70 women killed by their spouse or ex-husband in 2008 — almost double the foreign victims recorded in 2004. The minister noted that a plan to fight against domestic violence amongst the foreign population has recently been approved, which gives relevant public services new ways to “get closer to the immigrant collective”. As it is, various ways to re-educate abusers are being studied, with the aim of “changing their cultural references”, which are often founded on machismo. The ministry will set aside five million euros towards cooperation with autonomous communities for the direct aid of immigrant women and children who report domestic violence. Ms. Aido has also launched plans to protect sexually exploited women. Once again, a plan is to be launched by the Spanish socialist government against the trading in human beings, aimed at freeing many women from the slavery of prostitution. Spain’s Premier, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, yesterday announced that the fight against domestic violence is also set to be one of the central pillars of Spain’s presidency of the EU from January 2010, so that it may be seen by the EU as an important “European objective” in terms of social policy. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Bangladeshi Ambassador Alarmed at Migrant Attacks

Rome, 12 Feb. (AKI) — Bangladesh’s ambassador to Italy, Masud Bin Momen, says he is “deeply shocked” at a spate of violent attacks that have targeted Bangladeshi immigrants in Rome in the past week. In a rare statement released on Thursday, the ambassador expressed his alarm about two separate attacks that occurred in different parts of the capital since Sunday.

“The Ambassador, H.E. Masud Bin Momen is deeply shocked about what happened,” the embassy said in a statement released to Adnkronos International (AKI). “He hopes that the Italian authorities will investigate the matter and take all the necessary action accordingly under the local legality.

“He also expresses hope that all concerned should exercise maximum restraint in these difficult times of economic downturn.”

Late Wednesday three Italian youths allegedly attacked a 39-year-old Bangladeshi who was selling T-shirts in Via dei Baullari, close to the popular tourist zone of Campo de’ Fiori in central Rome.

According to media reports the victim claimed he was surrounded by the youths, who began calling him a “dirty nigger”, as they proceeded to destroy the makeshift stall. Later, the youths savagely kicked and punched the immigrant and allegedly stole the man’s mobile phone.

Dozens of people witnessed the attack, but police have not found those responsible for the violence.

The Bangladeshi was later taken to Rome’s Santo Spirito hospital, and reported the attack to police as soon as he was released.

“I was selling T-shirts, and suddenly I was struck by kicks and punches. There were at least three people,” the victim told police, quoted by Rome’s local daily Il Messaggero.

In a separate incident late Sunday, an Italian man armed with a spray paint can and a lighter, tried to set alight three Bangladeshis in the centre of Rome.

According to Italian media reports 20-year-old Ivan Balzanella and two others tried to set alight the three teenage migrants with a spray can and a lighter using it as a flame-thrower in what was described by the police as a racist attack.

Balzanella was arrested by police and accused of making threats and attempting to carry out racially motivated violence. The attack took place in the multi-ethnic Esquiline neighbourhood in central Rome.

According to Italian media reports, Balzanella had ‘warned’ the same migrants last November to leave the area, telling them, ‘This place is ours, you must all leave.’

On Sunday, the alleged attacker returned, with two others. The Bangladeshi migrants quickly called the police, but Balzanella fled.

“Go away immigrants or I will burn you,” Balzanella reportedly told the migrants.

One of the victims of the attack, described only by his first name, Naimal, told an Italian newspaper that Balzanella also tried to attack them with a fork. But police arrived and intervened.

When Balzanella was arrested, he reportedly told police, “You are not supposed to take me, you are supposed to arrest those immigrants.”

Balzanella — who had been previously arrested in December for racially motivated attacks — was released. He claimed he was the one attacked by the Bangladeshi migrants.

He is now forced to report to police every day until his trial.

The attacks are the latest in a string of violent assaults against immigrants in Italy.

On 2 February, a homeless Indian man was burnt and beaten in a savage attack that left him with a fractured skull and burns to 40 percent of his body.

Navtej Singh Sidhu, 35, a homeless and unemployed labourer, was attacked and set on fire by assailants as he slept on a station bench in the coastal town of Nettuno 70 kilometres south of Rome on 1 February.

Three local youths aged between 16 and 29 have been charged with attempted murder over the attack, while Sidhu is recovering in a Rome hospital after skin graft surgery on his legs.

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


Magazine Puts Miami Among ‘Most Miserable Cities’

MIAMI — A Florida Congresswoman is calling out Forbes magazine for including Miami in its list of Top 10 Most Miserable Cities in the country.

The publication ranked major metropolitan areas on nine factors, including commute times, unemployment and weather. It docked Miami for its level of violent crime and corruption, and said the city “has been crushed by the housing collapse.”

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said editors accepted “confusing statistics as opposed to actually visiting and getting a feel of our tropical paradise.” In a statement Thursday, she cited South Florida’s beaches, art festivals and cultural diversity in making a case against the No. 9 ranking.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Naples Conference on Human Rights and Maghreb

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, FEBRUARY 13 — An International conference on “Civil Society and Human Rights in the Maghreb” has got underway in the Castel dell’Ovo in Naples. The event has been organized by Osservatorio Internazionale (Ossi, International Observatory for Human Rights — a charity based in Naples), in collaboration with the International Committee for the Development of Peoples and the Foreign Ministry. The central theme of the two days is the state of human rights in the Maghreb, studied through the lens of international law and with a particular focus on historical issues of Western Sahara and Morocco and slavery in Mauritania. Today saw the announcement of the creation of the Mediterranean Observatory for Rights, promoted by Ossi as well as associations for the protection of human rights in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, Western Sahara and Spain, with the support of the Naples City Hall and Regional Authority. Those in attendance paid homage to Aminattou Haidar, a Saharawi militant, winner of the Robert Kennedy prize 2008 and honorary citizen of Naples. This came as a prelude to the touching and unexpected account of justice and prison in Morocco from Khadija Pighizzini, wife of Kassin Britel, the Moroccan Italian imprisoned in Morocco under charges of subversive terrorism. The problem of the poor protection of human rights is not, however, completely alien to European countries and the West in general, claimed Ossi’s president, Nicola Quatrano, who expressly spoke about “an indecent agreement between European and Maghreb countries”, with regard to immigration. Quatrano also spoke of the “dirty job” of a brutal containment of migratory flows in exchange for European silence on the frequent violations of human rights perpetrated in the Maghreb. “In Europe”, added Quatrano, “a true form of slavery is developing, founded on the humiliating wages of non-European workers’ wages and the inequality between Europeans and outsiders”. The only way to fight back against this situation is through the “respect of human rights” through international law which, according to the leader of Cisp-Development of Peoples for Emilia Romagna, Giulia Olmi, “must be a target that the whole international community has to defend, from the individual citizen to those in the highest-level institutional jobs”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spanish Schools in Morocco to Stop Arrivals

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 13 — Spain will work together with Morocco for the creation of artisan’s shops in the Maghreb country in an attempt to stop unaccompanied minors from illegally landing on the Spanish coast. This initiative was established by a memorandum of agreement and cooperation signed in Madrid by the Spanish Labour and Immigration Minister, Celestino Corbacho, and his Moroccan counterpart, Jamal Rhmani. The agreement is aimed at cutting down on the number of repatriations of unaccompanied minors, often impossible due to the difficulties in identifying the young illegal immigrants and their original families. “We need to work in both directions, not just on the repatriation front, but also on that of training in schools and artisan shops”, declared Corbacho while illustrating the memorandum to the media. The minister emphasised “the important efforts made by Morocco in impeding illegal immigration”. For his part, Rhmani highlighted the Moroccan government’s actions to stop the flow of young illegal immigrants, reminding the approval three years ago of a law based on international agreements protecting children. “Given its geographic position, Morocco is also a country hosting immigrants”, he emphasised agreeing with Corbacho on the fact that “the borders must be managed on both sides” to interrupt the flow. An example of the positive cooperation between the two countries on the immigration and employment front are the 16,000 temporary contracts given to Moroccan women who will participate in the strawberry harvest in Huelva. A contingent that, as Corbacho stresses, “has a 95% return rate to their country of origin”. This is because among the requirements requested of the workers is that they have children and that they come from the rural regions of Morocco, because they are more motivated to return home after the harvest. The rate of unemployment, reports research on Spain’s immigrant Muslim community in 2008, cited by Corbacho, has already gone above 31% given that a large number of North African workers were employed in the sectors hardest hit by the crisis: construction and services. But the problem is more complicated than relating simply to unaccompanied children, destined to remain in Spain, in a sort of legal limbo in the temporary centres managed by autonomous authorities. In the Canary Islands alone, 90 have landed since January, over 6,000 in the last 10 years according to figures from the regional councillor for social well-being, youth and the home, Ines Rojas. The 200 million euro fund allocated by the government for helping to care for and integrate immigrants, as well as educational support coming from the regions that host them is a step forward, but not sufficient, says Rojas, who asks for the government to consider the phenomenon a “state affair”, because the transfer of youngsters from the Canary Islands to other autonomous communities “does not simply depend on solidarity between the regions”. In the meantime, the government in Madrid and Rabat are working on long term solutions, like that of the artisan’s shops to train the youths for a job at home, so that they can enter the national job market, without giving all of their future expectations over to a makeshift or overcrowded boat, risking their lives, or in the best case scenario entering a world full of strangers. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

‘Gays’ Crush Christian Speech

TV stations cave to homosexual lobby, refuse to reveal LGBT agenda

Several television stations are caving to pressure from the homosexual community and refusing to run “Speechless: Silencing Christians,” a one-hour paid program sponsored by the American Family Association.

[…]

The special, hosted by talk show host Janet Parshall, emphasizes the media’s role in promotion of homosexuals’ “radical agenda,” and includes examples of how television shows and movies such as “Friends,” “Will & Grace,” “The L-Word,” “The War at Home,” “ER” and “Entourage” attempt to persuade viewers that aversions to homosexuality stem from bigotry and ignorance.

“Speechless” explores the homosexual lobby’s impact on school curriculums. Videos promoted as anti-bullying actually endorsed “gay” lifestyles, and students were forced to view them during school hours. It claims homosexual lobbyists also push for “gay” literature in schools.

According to the program, the homosexual activist agenda demands same-sex “marriage,” teaches children that homosexuality is normal, promotes homosexual service in the armed forces, pushes for hate crime laws that threaten freedom of speech, calls for laws forcing Christian business to hire homosexuals and insists upon reserving minority status and preferential treatment for them.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

Islam, War, and Deceit: a Synthesis (Part I)

by Raymond Ibrahim

The standard view has been that, since in the early years of Islam, Muhammad and his community were far outnumbered by the infidels and idolaters, a message of peace and coexistence was in order (sound familiar?). However, after he migrated to Medina and grew in military strength and numbers, the violent and intolerant verses were “revealed,” inciting Muslims to go on the offensive — now that they were capable of doing so. A Muslim colleague of mine once made this clear during a casual, though revealing, conversation. After expounding to him all those problematic doctrines that make it impossible for Muslims to peacefully coexist with infidels — jihad, loyalty and enmity, enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong — I pointedly asked him how and why he, as a Muslim, did not uphold them. He kept prevaricating, pointing to those other, abrogated verses of peace and tolerance. Assuming he was totally oblivious of such arcane doctrines as abrogation, I (rather triumphantly) began explaining to him the distinction between Meccan (tolerant) and Medinan (intolerant) verses, and how the latter abrogate the former. He simply smiled, saying, “I know; but I’m currently living in Mecca” — that is, like his weak and outnumbered prophet living among an infidel majority in Mecca, he too, for survival’s sake, felt compelled to preach peace, tolerance, and coexistence to the infidel majority of America.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


The Heritage Foundation Presents New Documentary Video: 33 Minutes

Early 2009, The Heritage Foundation will release a high-definition documentary that tells the story of the very real threat that hostile nations and rogue dictators now pose to every one of us. The truth is brutal: no matter where on the earth a missile is launched from, it would take 33 minutes or less to hit the U.S. target it was programmed to destroy. We must cause people to stop and face this horrible reality.

Aptly named, “33 Minutes: Protecting America in the New Missile Age”, our documentary will be a key component in exposing our vulnerability to moms, dads and citizens across the country. The time has come to revive the strategic missile defense system that America uniquely can develop, maintain and employ for its own defense and the peace-loving world’s security.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

3 comments:

Stephen_Gash said...

President Obama should visit Manchester in Lancashire, England, where he will find a statue of Abraham Lincoln. Then he should find out how Mancunians suffered during the war of King Cotton - and why.

Vladtepesblog.com said...

Missile defense ok I get that. But is there a compelling reason not to simply obliterate rogue nation's ability to launch such an attack? Why did the US allow Pakistan and N Korea to develop nuclear weapons when something could have been done. Now we have Iran. These nations can will and have blackmailed free and productive nations to allow the continuation of fascist regimes using the threat of nuclear launch, N Korea especially in their constant game of crisis politics and the US falls for it every time. When will the cost benefit equation be re thought for the long term and not just for that given week.

Darrin Hodges said...

Another item for the news feed -

AN ANCIENT religious enmity is at the centre of a new conflict in the Sydney bikie scene, with a new gang comprised mainly of Sunni Muslims warring with a group of bikies with a Shiite Muslim background.

While detectives continue to investigate the February 4 bombing of a Hells Angels clubhouse in Crystal Street, Petersham, police and other sources are indicating that the city chapter of the Comanchero is involved in an escalating feud with a new club, Notorious.
...
Neither police nor the Hells Angels have established why Notorious may have attacked the club, though the senior police source offered a simple answer: "They're just bloody crazy.

smh