Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/21/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/21/2009Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey has sent his congratulations to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the latter’s re-election as president of Iran. The last I heard, President Obama had not yet done the same.

In other news, Al Qaeda says that if it ever got its hands on Pakistan’s nukes, it would use them against the United States. Well, duh!

Thanks to Amil Imani, C. Cantoni, CB, Gaia, Insubria, Islam in Action, islam o’phobe, JD, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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USA
NY Muslims Openly Call for Attacks on Non-Muslims
 
Europe and the EU
Comment: Prime Minister Berlusconi and His Ghost
Italy: Police Arrest Dangerous Mafia Boss
Italy: 37% of Prison Inmates Are Foreigners
Premier Slams Journalists as Spies
UK: Muslim Prisoners Get Their Own Cells After Sharing Row 2
 
Balkans
Living in Filth for 10 Years
Slovenia Investment in Serbia at 1.7 Billion Euro
 
North Africa
Atr: 16 Planes Ordered by Royal Air Maroc and Air Nostrum
Cinema: Claudia Cardinale Presents Her Book in Tunisia
Tourism: Tunisia Sees More Libyans, Fewer Italians/Germans
 
Israel and the Palestinians
S.Craxi: Italy to Lead ‘Marshall Plan’ in Palestine
 
Middle East
Brisbane Woman Raped Then Jailed for Sex in United Arab Emirates
EU: Drought Emergency, 6 Mln Euros to Palestinians and Syrians
Iran: Turkey, Erdogan Congratulates Ahmadinejad Victory
Today Everyone is an Iranian
 
South Asia
Al Qaeda Says Would Use Pakistani Nuclear Weapons
British Army Officer Launches Stinging Attack on ‘Failing’ UK Strategy in Afghanistan
 
Far East
When China Rules the World
 
Latin America
Government Report Faults US Gun Owners for Mexico’s Violence
 
Culture Wars
Abortion: Spain, Bishops to Catholic Representatives, Vote No

USA

NY Muslims Openly Call for Attacks on Non-Muslims

[Video at link]

In the past I have posted videos from NY based RevolutionMuslim.com. In the last one Muslim convert Yousef al-Khattab preached for Muslims to understand the terms of engagement in jihad. Now he has stepped up his up rhetoric and stated that Muslims need to use “your limbs, your bodies, their weapons, to promote the religion of Allah” and then finally a straight out call to “attack” the kafir. This man is obviously dangerous and needs to be locked up.

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

Europe and the EU

Comment: Prime Minister Berlusconi and His Ghost

by EZIO MAURO

And so we have reached the point then where Prime Minister Berlusconi has publicly denounced a subversive plan to depose him and have him replaced by someone “not elected by the people”. In other words a coup right in the heart of democratic Europe. This reads like an epilogue to Berlusconi’s adventures following on from fifteen years of continual tensions that have been forced upon Italian public debate: to keep this unfortunate country at the right emotional temperature so fitting for the kind of populism that can only dominate the institutions by defying them until the point of evoking political martyrdom. This is indeed the dramatic picture of Italy that the country’s richest and most powerful man carries with him today to America, for his meeting with Obama.

Only Berlusconi knows why he is saying such things, because he is the only one who knows the truth about the disaster that awaits him, a truth that he cannot publicly reveal. Here we can observe the drama of a leader who is prisoner to a climate of defeat even when he wins. All this because in the last fifteen years he hasn’t managed to transform himself into a Statesman even after three victories in his country’s national elections. This man has the consensus, the votes, the numbers and the faithful crowds. But he is not at peace: he lacks security in his leadership and the tranquillity that transforms power into responsibility.

He is being pursued by his other half, from whom he’s constantly trying to escape, feeling the danger of being engulfed by the darker side of his personal history. It’s a tragedy full of excessive and theatrical power because everything is titanic in an affair where personal destinies coincide with that of Italy itself. It’s a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions where Berlusconi himself seems to already know the outcome, to the point of evoking his own political end in front of the country.

But in reality of course, as every right minded Italian knows, there is not and never will be a coup. There is, on the other hand, a rapid decomposition of a leadership that has never known how to make itself into a political culture but has rather closed itself off in the contemplation of its own dominion, believing that it could substitute a man in place of the State, command in place of government and absolute power and charisma in place of politics.

Today this power is beginning to feel the limits of its self sufficiency. What’s distressing Berlusconi is the new institutional scepticism that he’s aware of. Then there’s the international aloofness, the disorientation of the European elite, the criticism by the international press, the decidedly cool treatment by the chancelleries (with the exception of Putin and Gheddafi), the consternation within his own camp where Chamber of Deputies President Fini’s impeccable institutional role contrasts with the Premier’s failings with every passing day.

Berlusconi feels as though he’s losing his touch; a touch that used to transform his every act into an event. Now the tragicomic performance of the three Italian-Libyan days has shown us, on the contrary, that the laws of politics are not those of a ramshackle variety show. But above all Berlusconi has understood that the thread of his uninterrupted fairy tale of victorious and uncontaminated adventures has snapped simply because all of a sudden the Italians have started to really see him for what he is and not just watch him. And they’ve started to judge him too, instead of just listening to him.

It’s an unveiling act.. This is the crack that the vote has opened up within his victory, filling it with worries. The Premier is indeed correct when he quotes the four pilasters that delimit the perimeters of his recent woes: the veline (or TV soubrettes), mixing with minors, the Mills scandal and the suspected illegal use of State aeroplanes. Giuseppe D’ Avanzo, who has been investigating into these very issues for reasons that Berlusconi knows very well, has explained today why these represent something other than the slander the Premier claims. These are four cases that Berlusconi built with his own hands, that pursue him because he can’t explain them and that materialize in front of him daily as he tries to escape. Added together these four issues constitute a public scandal rather than a private one as they show, one together with the others, the abuse of power as public opinion is beginning to perceive more and more as events unfold. And it’s this sense of danger that is currently uppermost in Berlusconi’s mind. Since he’s incapable of really talking to the country, of confronting questions posed by the press, of assuming responsibility for his behaviour, he reacts by raising the bets and dragging everyone — both the Institutions and the State- along with him into this, his personal tragedy. Only he and his wife know exactly the depths and implications of this tragedy (as she publicly warned him a short while ago) He therefore reacts by threatening: in fact this market champion has even invited Italian manufacturers not to advertise in “defeatist” newspapers, that’s to say those that criticise him, because his destiny must coincide with that of the country’s. Then he corrects himself by saying he only wanted to limit coverage given to opposition leader Dario Franceschini as if it wasn’t enough having control of six television channels he has had to pass an edict. The likes of this have never been seen in the western world, even if the Italian press, prisoner of a new sense of conformism, prefers to talk about other matters as if liberty of expression, the basis for public opinion in every other democracy, has not already been compromised.

Actually Berlusconi himself is his biggest threat as he reveals his instability, his fear. We must expect the worst if he’s faithful to his words. What can possibly come after denouncing a coup attempt? What will his next move be? And if there really is a subversive threat then everything will be allowed: so how will the Premier use the services and the state apparatus against the presumed “subversives”? How is he already using them? Who’s controlling and who can guarantee in time what Prime Minister Berlusconi transforms into an emergency? We wait for an answer. As far as we’re concerned we’ll continue to behave as if we were in a normal country where dialectics and also the clash between the free press and legitimate power of the country are part of the democratic game.

Then, everyone will be able to judge whether he’s gone too far and where this private and already violent use of state power can lead with a man who we know is capable of anything; even to transform his leadership crisis into the tragedy of an entire country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Police Arrest Dangerous Mafia Boss

Rome, 12 June (AKI) — One of Italy’s most dangerous mafia leaders was arrested by police in the southern region of Calabria on Friday. Seventy-seven year-old Antonio Pelle was detained by members of the paramilitary Carabinieri at the Polistena hospital where he was recovering from surgery.

Ranked among the top 30 most dangerous mafia leaders in the country, Pelle was considered the head of a Calabrian mafia or ‘Ndrangheta cell based in the town of San Luca that bore his name.

Pelle had been a fugitive since the year 2000 and was known as “Gambazza”.

The Calabria-based ‘Ndrangheta has become one of the most powerful criminal organisations in Italy, and some experts believe it has overtaken the Sicilian Mafia, the Cosa Nostra, with the expansion of its international drug trafficking activities in Europe and elsewhere.

Police believe the killings of six Italians in the German city of Duisburg in 2007 were part of a feud among ‘Ndrangheta members.

They were linked to the Pelle-Votari clan, while the gunmen were believed to from the rival Nirta-Strangio clan, based in the southern Italian town of San Luca.

The feud has left at least 16 people dead since 1991.

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


Italy: 37% of Prison Inmates Are Foreigners

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, JUNE 17 — According to data provided by the ISMU Foundation, an independent and autonomous scientific body promoting studies, research, and initiatives on multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, 37% of the prison population in Italy is made up of foreigners. The group reports that almost 22,000 foreign inmates were counted in Italy’s prisons at the beginning of 2009. Of these, 6,000 are awaiting trial. Inmates making appeals and claims total 7,000, while 8,000 have been sentenced. For the Italian population, 0.7 per 1,000 individuals are in prison, while there is an eightfold increase for foreigners in Italy, with 5.5 per 1,000 individuals in prison. On January 1 2009, reports showed that the group with the most individuals in Italy’s prisons are Moroccan nationals (4,700), followed by Romanians (2,700), Albanians (2,600), and Tunisians (2,500). For the Romanian population, the percentage of the population in prison is relatively low (3.5 per 1,000), while the Albanian population has a higher percentage (6.0 per 1,000), as well as Moroccans (11.8 per 1,000), and Tunisians (25 per 1,000). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Premier Slams Journalists as Spies

Berlusconi’s phone call to lawyer recorded by Sky news

(ANSA) — Rome, June 19 — Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who is fending off reports he allegedly hosted paid escorts at his home, told journalists who recorded a private phone call with his lawyer on Friday they were “spies” who should be “ashamed of themselves”.

“I can’t face an Italy like this,” the premier said in Brussels, on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union leaders.

The phone call with lawyer Niccolo’ Ghedini, who is also an MP with the premier’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, was picked up by a Sky news video camera microphone prior to the start of the EU meeting and a transcript was released to news agencies.

During the call, Berlusconi tries to reassure Ghedini that phrases attributed to him and carried in headlines by the Italian press on Friday were wholly made up.

“I never said that phrase, that really makes me blow my top ..that is, ‘that I’ll hit back blow by blow’…it’s really incredible…there are things (in the papers) which I never said: I never said anything about ‘an obscure plot’, I never said I was ‘afraid of being spied on’ and I never said ‘my lawyer is crazy’…they’re scoundrels,” the premier told Ghedini.

“Come on, Niccolo’, how can you believe I’d say that?,” said Berlusconi, in reference to other alleged remarks about the lawyer carried by the press.

“At this point, I’m the one who is taking offence. I’m going to phone (government spokesman Paolo) Bonaiuti so we can release a statement,” the premier is heard telling Ghedini.

Ghedini later told reporters in Milan that he was “kidding Berlusconi” during the phone call while telling him that Italy’s privacy watchdog had accepted their injuction request for 5,000 paparazzo photos shot with a long lens of events at the premier’s private villa in Sardinia.

“I don’t need to be reassured by Berlusconi: when I referred to the remark about my madness, it was said in jest, affectionately. I’d never think the premier would refer to me in that manner,” said Ghedini. Speaking at a news conference after the summit, the premier lashed out at reporters from the left-leaning press, accusing them of printing “rubbish and trash”.

“I will not reply to questions about presumed scandals, maybe I’ll do so in Milan or Rome,” said the premier.

“There’s nothing to clear up. It’s all clear: it’s all trash,” said Berlusconi, stressing that he had fended off personal attacks in the past and would do again.

The premier also dismissed rumours of rifts within his PdL party and the possibility he would be forced to quit and would be replaced by Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti or Bank of Italy Governor Mario Draghi.

“These stories I read about plots in the PdL are just make-believe politics. I get along well with Tremonti, he’s absolutely a friend whom I respect and have faith in… and I also appreciate Mario Draghi’s abilities and fairness,” said the premier.

Speaking in Rome, Bonaiuti said some of the press headlines were “completely made up but to make it seem like they were quotes they were placed in inverted commas and attributed to the premier by anonymous sources”.

Government Programs Minister Gianfranco Rotondi also waved off suggestions of a rift in the centre right coalition, saying “this is just a little black cloud that will go away”.

He also accused some dailies of “cooking up a scandal with set-up interviews and accusations in line with the best policies of the gutter they come from”.

House Speaker Gianfranco Fini, a PdL heavyweight joined the chorus of those who brushed off talk of a government crisis. But he voiced concern of “a risk that citizens could lose faith in politics and the institutions”.

CATHOLIC DAILY TAKES PREMIER TO TASK.

The premier, however, was taken to task by the influential Catholic daily Avvenire which urged him to provide explanations “as soon as possible” on a number of private issues.

It warned him that he could not always “bank on” the government’s efficiency to avoid clearing up a series of allegations about his private life.

Berlusconi has been at the centre of a media storm since a public divorce spat with Lario and allegations of links with a teenage girl — Noemi Letizia — which surfaced after his wife accused him of “consorting with minors”.

But the premier, 72, has categorically denied any “steamy or more than steamy” involvement with teenagers, explaining there was nothing “spicy” about his attendance at the birthday party of 18-year-old Letizia because he had a long friendship with her family.

The Milan daily Corriere della Sera added fuel to the fire this week when it reported that prosecutors investigating a kick-back scandal in the southern city of Bari had wiretappings of a suspect, who has met Berlusconi, talking about parties at the premier’s Rome home to which he had taken paid escorts.

One of these escorts allegedly stayed the night.

The leader of the opposition Italy of Values Party and former graft-busting magistrate Antonio Di Pietro urged Berlusconi to tell parliament what was happening.

Comparing Berlusconi to the ancient emperor Nero is said to have played the fiddle while Rome burned, Di Pietro urged opposition MPs to sign a no confidence vote his party has been hoping to present to parliament since the storm over the premier’s personal life broke two months ago.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UK: Muslim Prisoners Get Their Own Cells After Sharing Row 2

A prison has agreed to give Muslims their own cells after they complained about sharing with other inmates.

They were said to be unhappy at praying and eating near non-Muslims at Birmingham’s Winson Green jail.

It is thought to be the first time inmates have been segregated by religion. Prison bosses have decided to place them with other Muslims, or give them single cells when space is available.

More than 1,400 inmates, including murderers and robbers, are housed at the jail.

‘So far around 15 Muslim inmates have been accommodated either by being moved to a cell with another Muslim or put on their own,’ said a prison source. ‘They initially asked for their own wing but this was turned down.’

In June 2006, a High Court judge warned that Ministers must find cash to cope with growing prison numbers and called for an end to forced cell sharing. Mr Justice Keith’s concerns were included in his report into the racist murder of Asian prisoner Zahid Mubarek by his cellmate Robert Stewart at Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution in West London.

The judge called for a new concept of ‘institutional religious intolerance’ to combat prejudice against Muslim inmates.

There has also been concern among the 200-strong Muslim contingent in Winson Green about the halal meat served there. It had been prepared on site but, after complaints, is now brought in by an authorised supplier at what is thought to be extra cost.

One prison officer said: ‘This has caused resentment because it is felt the Muslim inmates are getting special treatment.’

A Prison Service spokesman said: ‘Prisoner requests to share cells can be accommodated in some circumstances, such as prisoners sharing religious and dietary needs. All requests are subject to a risk assessment.’

About ten per cent of the 80,000-strong jail population in England and Wales is Muslim.

           — Hat tip: CB[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Living in Filth for 10 Years

More than 2,000 Roma (Gypsies) who fled Kosovo during the conflict in the 1990s still live in Konik refugee camp near Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro.

The sprawling slum of tents and shacks is built near the largest rubbish dump in Montenegro.

The mayor of Podgorica recently said the refugees should go back to where they came from.

Save the Children is working to integrate the Roma, but few stay long in the local school.

As the UN marks World Refugee Day, Save the Children’s Phoebe Greenwood meets two men who describe appalling living conditions at the largest refugee camp in the Balkans.

VESEB BERISA, AGED 37

My family and I have nothing to eat, nothing to wear, nowhere to take a proper shower. We have been living like this for 10 years.

I work all day every day scouring the rubbish tips for metal to sell and maybe, if I’m lucky, earn 200 euros (£170) a month to feed my family. We cope because we have to.

I had a job in Kosovo. I ran my own business buying and selling fruit and vegetables. I would like to do that here in Montenegro but I can’t. I don’t have any resources. I’ve no money to get started.

The worst thing about the camp is that it’s dirty. The hygiene here is terrible. It causes so many health problems. Everything we have is dirty. Nothing can stay clean here. It causes so many health problems.

A lot of people are sick in the camp for lots of different reasons, most often in their lungs because the air here is so foul. Lots of others have problems with their hearts and blood pressure. But in 10 years of living here, I’ve only seen the UN help one boy who was sick.

It’s too hot here, over 40C in the summer and there isn’t enough water. Water comes into the washing area near the toilets but the water pressure is so low, there isn’t enough for all of us.

Some of the kids here go to the local school. They were given books there but they have no clothes and most of the time they are hungry, so how are they meant to think about learning?

I would leave now if I could, but where would I go? I would like to have a proper house, if only to know that I have my own home, a roof over my head. I want to leave a house for my children as my father left a house for me.

I have five children and I’m worried about their future. My heart aches for them. I was sitting here half-an-hour ago, I heard music coming from somewhere and I imagined my family dancing. But I can only imagine that now. I know I won’t see it — it’s not possible any more.

We are in a critical state. It’s too much. No-one helps us anymore. No-one comes to see how we are or how we live.

We want to live as other normal people live do. We are the same as the other refugees, the Bosnians and Croats who came to this country during the war. But the refugees from Bosnia have been given houses, all around this camp. Why do they have different conditions to us? Why do we have to live like this?

We are people too. We are humans. We need help from the UN, from the Albanians and Serbs who put us in this situation. What do they think in America, in the UK? They are also responsible for the conditions we live in. They have done nothing to help us.

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


Slovenia Investment in Serbia at 1.7 Billion Euro

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, JUNE 18 — Slovenian companies have so far invested 1.7 billion euro in Serbia and would like to continue, the Serbian and Slovenian economy ministers, Mladjan Dinkic and Matej Lahovnik, stated, reports BETA news agency. Lahovnik said after the meeting with Dinkic in Ljubljana that Serbia has received the brunt of Slovenian investment since 2000, adding that his country stands to benefit from even better business ties. “The recession will certainly be felt in trade, but we have concluded that the recession could also be a reason for strengthening economic cooperation and trying to improve the already very good contact that exists,” Lahovnik said. Dinkic remarked that the Slovenian market “has lately become more open to Serbian investment than it used to be.” He went on to say that about 500 Slovenian companies are successfully doing business in Serbia. In addition, Dinkic said that Serbia and Slovenia are collaborating in the automobile industry and that several Slovenian companies have expressed an interest in expanding their operations in Serbia or setting up shop there. Dinkic stressed that agreements signed by Serbia give Slovenian companies operating in Serbia access to the markets of Russia, the EU, Belarus, Turkey and the CEFTA countries.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Atr: 16 Planes Ordered by Royal Air Maroc and Air Nostrum

(ANSAmed) — LE BOURGET (FRANCE) — ATR (a joint venture between Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica subsidiary, and EADS) signed contracts for a total of 18 planes with the option for another 12 today at the Le Bourget Aeronautics Show. The Spanish airline, Air Nostrum, ordered 10 ATR 72-600s with the option of another ten of the aircraft for a total value of 425 million dollars. Royal Air Maroc ordered 4 ATR 72-600s and two 42-600s, with the option for another two ATR 72-600s. The turbo-props will be used by the regional Air Maroc Express that will be launched in coming weeks. Deliveries will begin in 2011. These ATR 42-600s and ATR 72-600s, configured with 48 and 70-seats respectively, will be equipped with a new avionics suite featuring the most advanced technologies in navigation aid and communication tools. The aircraft will also be equipped with an enhanced cabin in order to offer higher comfort to the passengers. Commenting on this contract, Driss Benhima, President of Royal Air Maroc, declared: “We are very pleased to introduce the ATR ‘-600 series’ aircraft in Morocco and to become its first operator in the Mediterranean region. The ATR’-600 series’, because of their low operating costs and their performances, particularly in hot and high environments, are perfectly adapted to the needs of our regional transport. With these aircraft, we will offer our passengers aircraft featuring the highest standards of comfort and environmental friendliness”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Cinema: Claudia Cardinale Presents Her Book in Tunisia

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 17 -Yesterday in Tunisia, Claudia Cardinale presented a book on the country where she was born 71 years ago to a family of Sicilian origins. The book, entitled ‘La Mia Tunisia’ (‘My Tunisià), came out last year in France. Yesterday the Italian actress autographed a number of copies in a small bookshop in central Tunis, in the same area in which she had spent several years of her childhood. “My roots are here,” she said, “I wanted to tell the story of three generations in Tunisia. One’s roots are never forgotten, they remain in the depth of one’s heart”. Prior to the presentation, the Grand Cordon of the Order of Merit was bestowed on the actress by Tunisian president actress was Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. “It was a wonderful surprise, and as was going back to my childhood haunts and my favourite beach,” she said. The book, which also came out in Spain, will soon be published in Italy, according to her publisher, Jean Paul Nadé, who was also born in Tunisia.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Tourism: Tunisia Sees More Libyans, Fewer Italians/Germans

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 12 — Libyan tourism to Tunisia increased by 17% in the first five months of 2009. Visits by European citizens, on the other hand, have not proven as promising: particularly negative data is seen as concerns Italy (-10.5%) and Germany (-7%). Algerian tourists, too, are in decline, marking a 3% decrease in visits to the neighbouring country. Overall data for the period, with respect to the same period the previous year, is +1.3% with a total of 2,240,000 visits. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

S.Craxi: Italy to Lead ‘Marshall Plan’ in Palestine

(ANSAmed) — TRIESTE, JUNE 19 — “We want to put Italy forward as a candidate to manage investments by other donor countries for a Palestinian ‘Marshall Plan’ “, said the undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Stefania Craxi, today in Trieste. During her speech, Craxi mentioned the aims of her recent mission to the West Bank with a delegation of Italian businesses, stressing that the government “supports the US administration’s actions towards achieving peace in Palestine, but believes that economic development and the consequent civil progress it creates, will make peace stable and long-lasting”. “Our idea”, Craxi said, “comes from the impressive system of SMEs that we have in Italy today, a sector in which we have absolute leadership and that creates social stability. This is why we are aiming for a ‘Marshall Plan’, not only because of its financial importance but also because we want to link economic operation in the area to the energy that comes from ‘underneath’. This is the way we want to go”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Brisbane Woman Raped Then Jailed for Sex in United Arab Emirates

A BRISBANE woman was jailed for eight months in the United Arab Emirates for claiming she was raped by three men after her drink was spiked in a hotel bar.

The woman, identified only as Amanda, said she ordered one drink from the bar in the United Arab Emirates hotel she was staying, but then remembered nothing until waking up the next afternoon.

Amanda, interviewed on ABC radio this morning, said she was arrested after reporting her rape to police and later sentenced to 11 months’ jail for having illicit sexual relations and one month for consumption of alcohol.

“I don’t remember anything except for having that drink … in one way that’s a good thing but from what happened following, it’s still an extremely traumatising,” she said.

She was released five months ago after securing a royal pardon after serving eight months, and is now home in Australia.

She said the jails were overcrowded, inmates were often beaten and the water was frequently turned off.

Amanda said she had extensively researched the customs of the largely Muslim country before living there, but was not aware of the laws surrounding women and sex and drinking.

“It was such a glamorous lifestyle and at the moment there are so many Australians working over there,” she said.

“It is a very glamourous lifestyle and you can make a lot of money but unfortunately there’s the other side that people just aren’t aware of.”

She said four high-ranking muslim men had to witness penetration to prove a rape charge, so women who reported rapes were typically seen as confessing to illicit sexual relations or prostitution.

“I can move on, and I’m working on that, part of my process is to help other people with awareness of what’s going on and making changes,” she said.

Amanda met with several state MPs this week to tell her story.

Amnesty International’s Michael Hayworth said he sent a letter to United Arab Emirates officials, asking them to comply with United Nation’s Women’s Rights Conventions and remove discriminatory laws.

           — Hat tip: CB[Return to headlines]


EU: Drought Emergency, 6 Mln Euros to Palestinians and Syrians

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JUNE 16 — Six million euros will be provided by the EU to supply food and water to drought victims in the Palestinian Territories and Syria, thanks to an emergency decision made by the European Commission. “The Middle East is going through one of the worst droughts in recent memory,” explained Louis Michel, Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, “in addition to the other difficulties in the region. The Palestinian Territories and Syria have been hit hard, especially the rural communities, and whether suffering is caused by man or natural disasters, the EU has once again demonstrated its solidarity and is responding to this critical situation with emergency water supplies”. Rural inhabitants, and Bedouin communities in particular, as well as livestock farmers in isolated zones in the West bank will benefit from the EU finds. Two million euros will be provided to Syria for the governorates in the Badia region in the eastern part of the country. Four million euros will be provided to assist Palestinians. The funds will be used for water, food, and seeds for people with insufficient quantities to meet their domestic and survival needs; water and food for animals; improved water collection systems and water supply trucks. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Iran: Turkey, Erdogan Congratulates Ahmadinejad Victory

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 18 — Despite internal and international pressing to investigate about Friday’s vote regularity in Iran, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has already congratulated Ahmadinejad for his election victory, Referans daily newspaper says. According to Referans, before the vote Ankara made projections for the victory of Ahmadinejad. In addition, Turkish officials do not believe that possible irregularities in the elections would have any impact on the outcome of the vote. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Today Everyone is an Iranian

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” John F. Kennedy

Today, all Iranian expatriates are united in solidarity with the Iranian people in Iran. Today, we are all standing tall to let the world hear our continuous aspiration for a free and democratic Iran. Today, we pledge ourselves, under the divine inspiration, to stand beside the Iranians in Iran and echo their voices around the globe. Today, we make history, yet again.

It is critical that freedom-loving people, governments and media, rally behind the Iranian people and end the tyrannical mullahcracy that is a scourge on Iran as well as the world. The Iranian people themselves are fully capable and are determined to remove the cancer of Islamism from their country. The United States and Israel and other democracies have a huge stake in the success of the Iranian people to rid themselves of the Islamic oppression and tyranny.

The situation in Iran is dire indeed. Anyone who believes that sane rational people on both sides are engaged in brinkmanship to secure the best advantage, but would eventually work out a compromise, is deluding himself. In some cases, time works as a healer and even as a solution of thorny problems. Yet, this problem will not go away, and time would only make the cataclysmic clash more likely and deadly. The best chance for resolving the impasse is regime change in Iran…

           — Hat tip: Amil Imani[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Al Qaeda Says Would Use Pakistani Nuclear Weapons

DUBAI, June 21 (Reuters) — If it were in a position to do so, Al Qaeda would use Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in its fight against the United States, a top leader of the group said in remarks aired on Sunday.

Pakistan has been battling al Qaeda’s Taliban allies in the Swat Valley since April after their thrust into a district 100 km (60 miles) northwest of the capital raised fears the nuclear-armed country could slowly slip into militant hands.

“God willing, the nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of the Americans and the mujahideen would take them and use them against the Americans,” Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, the leader of al Qaeda’s in Afghanistan, said in an interview with Al Jazeera television.

Abu al-Yazid was responding to a question about U.S. safeguards to seize control over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in case Islamist fighters came close to doing so.

“We expect that the Pakistani army would be defeated (in Swat) … and that would be its end everywhere, God willing.”

Asked about the group’s plans, the Egyptian militant leader said: “The strategy of the (al Qaeda) organisation in the coming period is the same as in the previous period: to hit the head of the snake, the head of tyranny — the United States.

“That can be achieved through continued work on the open fronts and also by opening new fronts in a manner that achieves the interests of Islam and Muslims and by increasing military operations that drain the enemy financially.”

The militant leader suggested that naming a new leader for the group’s unit in the Arabian Peninsula, Abu Basir al-Wahayshi, could revive its campaign in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.

“Our goals have been the Americans … and the oil targets which they are stealing to gain power to strike the mujahideen and Muslims.”

“There was a setback in work there for reasons that there is no room to state now, but as of late, efforts have been united and there is unity around a single leader.”

Abu al-Yazid, also known as Abu Saeed al-Masri, said al Qaeda will continue “with large scale operations against the enemy” — by which he meant the United States.

“We have demanded and we demand that all branches of al Qaeda carry out such operations,” he said, referring to attacks against U.S.-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The militant leader said al Qaeda would be willing to accept a truce of about 10 years’ duration [where have I heard that before? — io’p] with the United States if Washington agreed to withdraw its troops from Muslim countries and stopped backing Israel and the pro-Western governments of Muslim nations.

Asked about the whereabouts of al Qaeda’s top leaders, he said: “Praise God, sheikh Osama (bin Laden) and sheikh Ayman al-Zawahri are safe from the reach of the enemies, but we would not say where they are; moreover, we do not know where they are, but we’re in continuous contact with them.”

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


British Army Officer Launches Stinging Attack on ‘Failing’ UK Strategy in Afghanistan

A British Army officer has launched a devastating attack on the UK’s “failing” strategy in Afghanistan.

The officer, who works in defence intelligence, has described the British presence in Helmand as an “unmitigated disaster” fuelled by “lamentable” government spin and naïvety.

Writing in the British Army Review, an official MoD publication, Major SN Miller, stated: “Lets not kid ourselves. To date Operation Herrick [the British codename for the War in Afghanistan] has been a failure”.

He claimed that hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money had been wasted on a war which had failed to deliver any real reconstruction, governance or security.

Rather than “winning hearts and minds”, Major Miller, who serves in the Defence Intelligence Staff serving Intelligence Corps, said the British presence had had the opposite effect.

But his most blistering attack was on the UK’s counter-narcotics policy, where the illicit sale of drugs has been successfully used by the Taliban to fund the insurgency and kill British troops.

He wrote: “British policy towards the poppy crop has been an unmitigated disaster. The chief “effect” of the British presence in Helmand has been to transform Helmand into the opium centre of the world.

“This remarkable milestone was achieved just two years into the British intervention.”

Major Miller’s indictment of Britain’s Afghan strategy can be revealed just a day after the Ministry of Defence announced that another soldier had been killed in an explosion in Helmand.

The death of the soldier, who was a member of the Welsh Guards, brings to 169 the number of British troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

Maj Miller claimed that the British government “sleepwalked” into Helmand in 2006 “without any meaningful reconstruction plan, without the resources to undertake-nation building tasks, and, critically, without any desire to fight a major insurgency”.

He added: “It was thanks to the tenacity of the common soldier and the paratrooper that British embarrassment was saved.”

In direct contradiction to the view of the defence chiefs and the government, Major Miller added that the much-vaulted British strategy of “winning the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people in Helmand had failed.

Instead, he claimed, the opposite had happened, with polls showing that 23 per cent of the population support the Taliban in the south west of the country, a threefold increase compared with 2008.

He wrote: “Where a year (2008) ago, 81 per cent stated that the Taliban have “no significant support at all” in the area, now only 52 per cent judged this to be the case.

“Just 45 per cent of polled Afghans supported the Nato presence in the south west, down from 83 per cent in the previous year. The often repeated statement that ‘the Afghans don’t want the Taliban back’ is increasingly open to question.”

He continued: “Last year there were just 57 doctors in Helmand Province — a scandalous figure three years into the British campaign.

“Positive opinion of overall living standards have dropped by 20 points — a remarkably bitter under achievement for a campaign that purported to improve the lives of Afghans.”

Maj Miller, who has served in Afghanistan, also attacks the Department For International Development (DFID) for pumping millions of pounds of taxpayers money into a government where he claimed “corruption, inefficiency and incompetence” are “endemic”.

Maj Miller also castigated senior officers for the strategy of “Clear, Hold, Build”, which he stated had become a “parody of itself”.

He added: “We are really only clearing the immediate vicinity of the security force bases, we are only holding the major settlements, and we are not building.

“Self-protection has become the main tactic, reinforced by air strikes that can backfire and undermine the campaign.

“Even as the Army renders itself more and more immobile with heavier vehicles and infantrymen weighing as much as a medieval knight, still the fantasy of the “manoeuvrist approach is peddled in staff courses.

“There is nothing manoeuvrist about weeks of petty, attritional fire fights within a few kilometres radius of a Forward Operating Base. The reason for all this is clear — zero casualties has become the tacit assumption behind operations.

“The Taliban are not being “coerced”, “deterred”, or “destabilised”. They simply disperse, knowing that the British cannot sustain pressure, and they return like the tide when the British troops withdraw, after a short period, back to their bases.”

In concluding his essay, Maj Miller wrote the “British Army must believe that it can win wars again”.

He added: “Politics needs to be squeezed out of the military campaign. The point of going to war is not to then save ministerial discomfort by avoiding casualties and buttering the media.

“Wars cost lives and the media better get used to it. The British people understand this. They are far tougher than a worried government PR man imagines. We need to win a war, not spin one.”

Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP for Newark and a former infantry commander, said: “This castigates the Labour government.

“A succession of defence and foreign secretaries have tried to present the campaign in Afghanistan as benign and bloodless but that is just spin and nonsense.

“Until the government properly resources the war in Afghanistan, our strategy will fail.”

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Far East

When China Rules the World

It is clear that the rise of China marks the end of western global hegemony, but just what the coming Chinese ascendency will look like is another matter.

By John Gray

On his first visit to China as US treasury secretary, at the start of this month, Timothy Geithner attempted to reassure an audience at Peking University that there is no need to worry about the enormous holdings China has built up in US government bonds. “Chinese assets are very safe,” he declared. Geithner’s statement produced loud laughter from the largely student audience.

Unlike most western commentators, who still give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt, China’s emerging elite know there is no prospect that the United States will pay back its debts at anything like their current value. The only way the US can repay its vast borrowings is by debasing the dollar — a process in which China will inevitably be short-changed. Significantly, the students’ response was not anger, but derision — a clear sign of how the US is now perceived. Resentment at US power is being replaced by contempt, as the impotence and self-deception of the American political class in the face of the country’s problems become increasingly evident…

           — Hat tip: CB[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Government Report Faults US Gun Owners for Mexico’s Violence

[On Friday, June 19, 2009, the Government Accountability Office released a report to the US Congress regarding the so-called firearms problem in Mexico. NewswithViews.com studied the report for the following news story.]

“[This report may be] used in a phony attempt to show that the ban is needed. It even may be used as part of an outrageous attempt to argue that Americans have to give up some of their Second Amendment rights to an international authority so that international trafficking in firearms can be properly and efficiently regulated,” warns gun rights expert John Snyder.

While the United States continues to allow borders to be left unprotected, the US Congress through its investigative arm — the Government Accountability Office — is blaming the violence occurring in Mexico on American gun owners.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Abortion: Spain, Bishops to Catholic Representatives, Vote No

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 18 — Spain’s Episcopal Conference presented a document today which expresses the hard-line position taken on the law for the voluntary interruption of pregnancies approved by the government, and is making an appeal to Catholic representatives not to support it with their votes in parliament. In an 11 page document, unveiled to the media by CEE spokesman, Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, the bishops accuse the government of utilising health ‘as an excuse to eliminate babies in the womb” and to ‘deny or undervalue the human being in order to justify its elimination.” ‘Before a law that considers the violation of the fundamental right to life a right in itself, the conscientious objection is legitimate,” Camino said, quoting rulings from the Constitutional Court which support that ‘the Constitution is directly applicable, especially regarding fundamental rights.” The bishops’ spokesman denounced the government for ‘imposing a determined moral education to citizens,” above all, he added, when it comes to morals on abortion practices and ideas of gender. The document opens with a condemnation of the ‘more obscure” aspects of the socialist ‘reforms”: ‘In the first 14 weeks the expectant mother decides on the death of the baby: the violation of the right to life is treated like a right itself,” the ecclesiastic leaders maintain, stating ‘deciding to have an abortion is the choice to end the life of a child already conceived and goes beyond choices regarding ones own body, the health of the mother and the choice to become a mother.” The document quotes the Second Vatican Council, which defined abortion as a ‘horrible crime”, an ‘intrinsically evil act that violates the dignity of an innocent human being by ending its life.” According to the bishops, the reforms, which legalise abortion in the first 14 weeks, with the possible extension to 22 weeks in the case of serious deformations or psychological or physical risks for the mother ‘use health as an excuse to end the foetus’s life,” with ‘ambiguous medical and social information” dedicated to ‘death’s service.” Camino also stressed that the law ‘does not support women in order to save them from the trauma of abortion and its serious consequences,” or ‘prevent them from becoming victims.” The bishops, in the end, accuse the government of using education to impose ‘a determined view on sexual morals, abortion and gender.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

4 comments:

Zenster said...

NY Muslims Openly Call for Attacks on Non-Muslims.

Watch the video. Please tell me if such a person would have, in olden days, enjoyed a single minute - much less ten of them - without having been subjected to extensive, rigorous and intense applications of traditional American-style Parking Lot Therapy™.

Zenster said...

UK: Muslim Prisoners Get Their Own Cells After Sharing Row 2.

A prison has agreed to give Muslims their own cells after they complained about sharing with other inmates.

They were said to be unhappy at praying and eating near non-Muslims at Birmingham’s Winson Green jail
.

Perish the thought that ordinary prisoners might resent having some head-banging terrorist spewing his usual Islamic anti-Western bile 24-7-365 in the same cell.

Zenster said...

When China Rules the World

Some excellent comments by zebigboss, at the original article:

This is wrong on a number of counts:

1. Western liberalism has not collapsed, however much flailing Marxists like Jacques would like to see it. True there is a financial crisis, but we'll get over it.

2. China's industrialisation has not been achieved entirely indigenously. There have been large transfers of Western technology, extensive pirating, and China's boom is largely based on exports. Indeed, its huge surpluses are a result of China exporting too much and consuming too little. China's purchasing of dollars has led to the excessive availability of cheap credit which is one of the sources of our present crisis. This current imbalance cannot continue. Where will China sell its excess production then?.

3. China's rise has been impressive, but only from the low base caused by Mao's economic foolishness.

4. Jacques seems to be ambivalent as to whether China's absolutism or Western liberal democracy is preferable. Try living in China and not being able to complain.

However I agree with him about one thing, that the Chinese will do it their way whatever we say. They have no tradition of democracy, and were ruled by a divine emperor in living memory (just). However, China tends not to be stable for very long
. [emphasis added]

"Interesting times", indeed!

yolo said...

I have communicated with this vermin via youtube. He is much worse than you can imagine. I was asked to flag his videos. I did flag one and then realised it would be better to have his face and his comments to me all over the net. I am starting to work on that. Also yes parking lot therapy would be very good for this traitor or a shot to the back of the.....