Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/19/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/19/2009Last night I mentioned the report of a rumor that illegal immigrants from Algeria had made it to Sardinia on jet skis. Today comes a confirmation of the incident — although this article calls them “water scooters” — and says that the young migrants called home after making it safely to Sardinia on their rented scooters.

In other news, read the sickening account of the Iranian prison guard who was required to “marry” female prisoners and rape them before their execution. WARNING: the article is not for sensitive readers.

Thanks to AA, Archonix, Barry Rubin, Gaia, Insubria, islam o’phobe, JD, Nilk, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
House Committee Wants GM, Chrysler Documents
 
USA
Blame Michael Jackson
Legal Immunity Set for Swine Flu Vaccine Makers
Mainers Invited to Become Track-Your-Car Guinea Pigs
Meet the Real Walter Cronkite
Mexican Agents Headed for U.S.?
Obama’s “Health-Care” Death Lists Coming Your Way
Whither the Middle Class?
Will Feds Use New Power to Dictate What You Drive?
 
Europe and the EU
One Italian in Two Declares Less Than 15,000 Euros
UK: ‘Evil Destruction’ of a Happy Family
UK: Cameron ‘Would Evict Peace Camp’
UK: Johnson Ditches Jacqui Smith’s Least-Wanted List as a ‘Blunder’ by Simon Walters
UK: Muslim Care Home Owner ‘Bans Pensioners From Eating Bacon Sandwiches’
UK: Riot Police Raid Birthday Barbecue for ‘All-Night’ Facebook Tag
 
Balkans
Serbia: Main Partner for Export Bosnia, For Import Russia
 
North Africa
Egyptian Security Refuses to Return Abducted Christian Coptic Girl
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Controversy in Jerusalem: Ultra Orthodox Revolt
Film: Jerusalem Celebrates Eternal City With Anna Magnani
Hamas Creates ‘Islamic’ Film About Terrorist Killer
Murder, He Said: Palestinian Politics Fragments Further
 
Middle East
‘I Wed Iranian Girls Before Execution’
 
South Asia
Images of the Body Parts of Jakarta Bombing Victim Nathan Verity Circulate on Mobile Phones
 
Far East
China Admits Uighur Riot Killings
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
German Hostages Taken to Somali Mainland
 
Latin America
New Escalation in Mexico Drug War
 
Immigration
Algerians Make it to Italy on Water Scooters
Australia: Immigration Levels Pushing Out Young Jobseekers
Greece Holds Human Traffickers
Israel: Rabbis, Law in Conflict With Torah
Maroni: Repatriation Accord EU-Origin Country
 
General
Are the Deserts Getting Greener?

Financial Crisis

House Committee Wants GM, Chrysler Documents

WASHINGTON (AP) — A House committee asked the Obama administration Friday to release documents on the federal bailouts of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, seeking more details on decisions that led to the auto industry bankruptcies.

“They negotiated, they reviewed and they approved every aspect of the Chrysler and General Motors reorganization,” Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., said of the White House. “We don’t know how the president’s auto task force reached its conclusion.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

USA

Blame Michael Jackson

By Spengler

Public mourning for Michael Jackson crowded out other news last week, including the long-awaited papal encyclical on economics. Somehow that seems appropriate. Since 1985, this pontiff has argued that markets can be no better than the moral character of their participants. What we call “youth culture” for lack of a better word …

The public’s grief was unfeigned and profound, for Jackson embodied the desire of a generation, that is, never to grow up. Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray had a portrait that revealed his inner decay, and Michael Jackson had a nose. If one image captures the spirit of the times, it is that nose, which narrowed, shrank and finally fell in, in emulation of the failing youth of his fans.

They forgave Jackson his dysmorphia and even his alleged pedophilia, for Jackson only expressed in extreme form his generation’s refusal to age. In his self-disfigurement and eventual self-destruction, this fey child-man fought madly against maturity with a reckless abandon that his fans secretly admired. They loved him, not in spite of his personality failures, but because of them.

America’s cult of youth persists, despite the rapid aging of its population. During the next 10 years, the country’s elderly dependent ratio will rise to 25%, after holding steady for three decades at around 19%. Still, the baby boomers flee from the awful reality. Between 1997 and 2007, the number of cosmetic procedures per year rose tenfold, from 2 million to 10 million, according to the industry association. Its polling data states that 29% of Americans without children, and 24% of Americans with children, would consider plastic surgery.

In Beverly Hills, observes an economist of my acquaintance, there are five plastic surgeons who specialize in bodily rejuvenation, and women of a certain age reveal which one they patronize by the telltale shape of their derriere. Middle-aged women now come in identifiable models, as in the old Twilight Zone episode, “Number 12 looks just like you.” Michael Jackson is just like the rest of us, only more so…

           — Hat tip: AA[Return to headlines]


Legal Immunity Set for Swine Flu Vaccine Makers

In Past, Thousands Filed Claims Contending They Suffered Side Effects

ATLANTA — The last time the government embarked on a major vaccine campaign against a new swine flu, thousands filed claims contending they suffered side effects from the shots. This time, the government has already taken steps to head that off.

Vaccine makers and federal officials will be immune from lawsuits that result from any new swine flu vaccine, under a document signed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, government health officials said Friday.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Mainers Invited to Become Track-Your-Car Guinea Pigs

Wanted: 250 Maine drivers willing to let a stranger put a black box under their dashboard.

The reward: $895 and the opportunity to speak their minds about the highway tax experiment to a researcher.

University of Iowa researchers are seeking 250 motorists in Cumberland, York and Sagadahoc counties willing to have a computer tracking system installed in their cars for 10 months. The system could someday be used to tax drivers according to the number of miles they drive, rather than the amount of gasoline they consume.

Portland is one of six cities picked for the research, which is designed to determine whether a mileage tax would work better than the gas tax to support the country’s highway system.

Advertising for volunteers in Maine will start at the end of the month, said John Kuhl, an electrical and computer engineering professor in charge of the research. The aim of the study is not just to see whether the technology works, but also to find out whether drivers would accept it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Meet the Real Walter Cronkite

‘Most trusted’ newsman pushed radical agenda

WASHINGTON — Walter Cronkite is dead at 92 — but most Americans, many of whom considered him “the most trusted man” in the country during his reign as CBS News anchor — still don’t know what motivated him and how he secured such an influential and lofty position.

He was like a grandfatherly institution in the early days of TV. People believed him. Uncle Walter wouldn’t lie, America believed.

Thus, when he gave his opinions, they had impact. One example was his report on the Tet offensive in Vietnam, which is credited with swinging the tide of opinion against the war.

[…]

In 1989, Cronkite spoke to a dinner organized by People for the American Way, a group founded by Norman Lear. His candid politics surprised even that audience.

* “I know liberalism isn’t dead in this country,” he said. “It simply has, temporarily we hope, lost its voice.”

* “About the Democratic loss in this election … it was not just a campaign strategy built on a defensive philosophy. It was not just an opposition that conducted one of the most sophisticated and cynical campaigns ever. … It was the fault of too many who found their voices stilled by subtle ideological intimidation.”

* “We know that unilateral action in Grenada and Tripoli was wrong. We know that Star Wars means uncontrollable escalation of the arms race. We know that the real threat to democracy is half a nation in poverty. … We know that religious beliefs cannot define patriotism. … God Almighty, we’ve got to shout these truths in which we believe from the housetops. Like that scene in the movie ‘Network,’ we’ve got to throw open our windows and shout these truths to the streets and the heavens. And I bet we’ll find more windows are thrown open to join the chorus than we’d ever dreamed possible.”

In 1999, he appeared at the United Nations to accept the Norman Cousins Global Governance Award from the World Federalists Association. He told those assembled, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, that the first step toward achieving a one-world government — his personal dream — is to strengthen the United Nations.

“It seems to many of us that if we are to avoid the eventual catastrophic world conflict we must strengthen the United Nations as a first step toward a world government patterned after our own government with a legislature, executive and judiciary, and police to enforce its international laws and keep the peace,” he said. “To do that, of course, we Americans will have to yield up some of our sovereignty. That would be a bitter pill. It would take a lot of courage, a lot of faith in the new order.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Mexican Agents Headed for U.S.?

Federal drill to focus on response to terror

Agents for Mexico soon could be roaming the roads of several southern states — along with representatives of Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom — under a Federal Emergency Management Agency exercise that is going to focus “exclusively on terrorism prevention and protection.”

The event is called National Level Exercise 2009 and is part of an annual series of exercises formerly called TOPOFF, for Top Officials, under the National Exercise Program that “serves as the nation’s overarching exercise program for planning, organizing, conducting and evaluating national level exercises.”

The idea has some bloggers stunned.

“Imagine, armed Mexican troops protecting us from ‘terrorism’ in the United States! Don’t you feel safer already? ¿Dónde están sus documentos?” wrote an alarmed blogger at TargetFreedom.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama’s “Health-Care” Death Lists Coming Your Way

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive . . . . . those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” — C. S. Lewis

President Obama said something at his White House healthcare event last week that should scare you out of your wits, especially if you are a senior citizen.

He suggested that one way to save health-care costs is not to spend on procedures that “evidence shows [are] not necessarily going to improve care” for the sick and the dying. “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller,” the President said.

This is socialist Obama-talk, and let me translate. Under Obama’s plan, some impersonal bureaucrat, based solely on cost to the government health-care system, will now decide whether you or your sick father or mother, die. Do you need a heart operation or expensive cancer therapy to give you a chance for life? Under Obama’s plan, a bureaucrat will “calculate” how much this care would cost the government.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Whither the Middle Class?

Most recently it has been reported by the Institute for Supply Management in Arizona that 90% of private employment in the U.S. is in the non-manufacturing sector. That means 90% of private employment (apart from agriculture) is engaged in transferring wealth, not producing it.

This is important in that services are provided that again facilitate production by providing the sales, the services and repairs, and even medical services that keep the producers working. But these people are not producing anything or creating any new wealth. Our national production capacity, apart from agriculture, is effectively driven by, at best, 4% of the employed population.

Is it any wonder that we find ourselves broke?

Why is production important? Because any monetary system, be it based upon fiat money, specie, script or wampum, is only a mechanism to facilitate barter. The value of any particular currency is measured in what product the issuer can exchange for its tender. In the absence of meaningful production by the issuer, the currency is ultimately worthless.

Prior to World War II the United States was the manufacturing powerhouse of the world. At the beginning of the war Churchill referred to us as the arsenal of democracy and we were able to decisively win that war because of our overwhelming manufacturing capacity. At that time, our big manufacturers, GM, Remington, Dupont, Boeing, Douglas, Northrup, U.S. Steel, were able to retool for war production that sustained the free world. Since then, we have dismantled that capacity and in large measure sold it oversees. What do we suppose the “rust belt” is all about?

Do we suppose it is a coincidence that while we have been complaining about demise of the middle class we have also seen a shift of emphasis in our government to the importance of small business? It is no accident. Big business in the form of large manufacturers requires lots of skilled employees. Small business is by definition small. Lots of big business affords lots of opportunity for employment of the poor and training in a particular profession. Small business, even if there are lots of them, in turn have relatively smaller profits and necessarily cannot pay as much or provide such extensive benefits as big business. How many small business jobs are minimum wage?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Will Feds Use New Power to Dictate What You Drive?

Senator’s take on gasoline mandates: ‘We own auto companies, why not?’

DES MOINES, Iowa — Now that the federal government has gained control over the nation’s auto industry, one U.S. senator contends, it’s time to make some changes in the kinds of cars Americans drive and the kinds of fuel they use.

According to a Des Moines Register report, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, wants Congress to use “climate change” legislation to mandate that auto manufacturers fit all new cars to run on a blend of 85 percent ethanol.

“We own the automobile companies,” Harkin said earlier this week. “Why not? I think that will be an easy one.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

One Italian in Two Declares Less Than 15,000 Euros

Only 0.2% of taxpayers above 200,000 euros

ROME — Eighteen thousand eight hundred and ninety two euros. That’s Italy’s average annual income, equivalent to 1,453 euros a month gross, including a thirteenth salary Christmas bonus. At least, that’s the figure that emerges from the declarations submitted by 41 million Italian taxpayers in 2008. The returns refer to 2007, when the crisis was only in its infancy, so it is no surprise to find that figures were 3.1% up on 2006. The picture changes from region to region, with the north west of Italy showing an average income of 21,480 euros contrasting with the south and islands, which declared about 6,000 euros less. The revenue department, which published the results of last year’s tax returns, reveals that the average earnings of the self-employed rose by 2% to 37,124 euros whereas employees’ earning grew by 1% to 19,335 euros. Again on average, pensions rose by 3% from 13,046 to 13,448 euros and earnings from shareholdings went from 19,254 to 19,927 euros (+3.5%).

HALF BELOW 15,000 EUROS — Leaving the average figures to one side, it is striking that half of Italian taxpayers declared an income of less than 15,000 euros and that the well-heeled, with incomes of more than 200,000 euros, make up just 0.2% of the total. In the lower income groups, there are significant differences among employment categories. Some 34.8% of employees declared an income of less than 15,000 euros, as opposed to 22% of the self-employed and 59% of pensioners. Overall, 80% of taxpayers declared an income for the year of less than 26,000 euros.

LOSS-MAKING COMPANIES — The ministry of economy’s revenue department also reports on company earnings. It turns out that one company in two told the taxman that it was making a loss. About 520,000 companies declared a profit and there were 419,000 loss-makers. There are now almost one million joint-stock companies in Italy, a rise of 2.9% over the previous year, and more than one in five firms were based in Lombardy. But then Lombardy was also the region with the highest individual incomes, with an average of 22,460 euros in 2008 (referring to earnings in 2007), almost double the figure for Calabria (13,410 euros). In second place is Lazio, with an average of 21,130 euros, followed by Emilia Romagna (20,450 euros) and Piedmont (20,030 euros). At the bottom of the table is Calabria, just behind Basilicata, which had an average declared income of 14,180 euros, Puglia (14,770 euros) and in fourth-last place Sicily, with 15,160 euros. In 2008, the average tax paid on the basis of personal returns rose to 4,675 euros, a rise of 4.4% over the 4,477 euros for the previous year.

ENERGY DEDUCTIONS — Taxpayers earning less than 15,000 euros paid just over 6% of the total and those declaring up to 26,000 euros accounted for 31.6%. In contrast, the very few — just 75,689, of whom 43,000 were employees — who declared more than 200,000 euros forked out more than 8% of the total. The returns reveal the success of the 55% energy-saving tax discounts, which were used by more than 185,000 taxpayers. Finally the tax wedge, introduced in 2007 for IRAP, the regional tax on businesses, proved more popular with larger companies.

English translation by Giles Watson

www.watson.it

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UK: ‘Evil Destruction’ of a Happy Family

A system involving social workers, police and courts took a child away from loving parents for no apparent reason, writes Christopher Booker.

Two weeks ago I reported as shocking a story as this column has ever covered. It described how a loving family was torn apart when the parents were arrested by police on what turned out to be wholly spurious charges, so that their three children could be taken into care by social workers. As reported on another page, it now seems this awful episode has come to a happy ending.

However a new case has lately been surfacing, if anything even more shocking. This also involved the arrest of two parents and the abduction of their child by social workers, in a story so bizarre that, at last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Gordon Brown was asked about it by the family’s MP, Charles Hendry, who has long been concerned with the case because the mother is a vice-chairman of his local Conservative Association. The family’s horrified GP says that, in 43 years of medical practice, he has never “encountered a case of such appalling injustice”.

I first planned to describe this case in April, but was pre-empted by the draconian reporting restrictions on family cases, which, for reasons which will become tragically clear, have now been partly lifted.

The story began in April 2007 when “Mr Smith”, as I must call him, had a visit from the RSPCA over the dog-breeding business he ran from the family home. He had docked the tails of five new-born puppies — a procedure that had become illegal two days beforehand. Unaware of this, he promised in future to obey the new law.

Three days later, however, at nine o’clock in the morning, two RSPCA officials returned, accompanied in cars and riot vans by 18 policemen, who had apparently been tipped off, quite wrongly, that Mr Smith had guns in the house.

Armed with pepper spray, they ransacked the house, looking for the nonexistent guns. The dogs, released from their kennels, also rampaged through the house. When Mr Smith and his wife, who was three months pregnant, volubly protested at what was happening, they were forcibly arrested in front of their screaming five-year-old daughter “Jenny” and taken away. Two hours later, with the house in a shambles — the dogs having strewn the rabbit entrails meant for their dinner across the floor — social workers arrived to remove the crying child.

Held for hours in a police cell, Mrs Smith had a miscarriage. When she was finally set free, she returned home that evening to find her daughter gone. It was the beginning of a barely comprehensible nightmare.

Her husband was charged with various offences connected with the dogs, including the tail-docking, but was eventually given a conditional discharge by a judge who accepted that he was “an animal lover” who had not been cruel to his dogs.

Far more serious, however, was that the social workers seemed determined to hang onto the child, now in foster care, on the sole grounds that they had found the house dirty and in a mess (the “animal entrails” played a large part in their evidence). This was despite the testimony of a woman Pc (who had visited the house a month earlier on a different matter) that she found it “clean and tidy”. Two hundred horrified neighbours, who knew the couple as doting parents of a happy, well-cared-for child, were about to stage a protest demonstration when they were stopped by the police, on the social workers’ instructions that this might identify the child.

For more than two years the couple have been fighting through more than 100 hearings in the courts to win their daughter back. From a mass of evidence, including psychiatric reports and tape recordings made at meetings with her parents (only allowed in the presence of social workers), it is clear she has been desperate to return home. It is equally clear that considerable pressure has been brought on the child to turn her against her parents,

One particularly bizarre psychiatric report was compiled after only an hour-long interview with the little girl. When she said she had once choked on a lollipop, this was interpreted as signifying that she could possibly have “been forced to have oral sex with her father”.

After Mrs Smith alone had been subjected to four different psychiatric investigations, which came up with mixed findings, she refused to submit to a fifth, and this apparently weighed heavily with the judge who last December ordered that “Jenny” should be put out to adoption.

In the Appeal Court 11 days ago, Mr Justice Bodey ruled that, because the mother had refused that fifth test, indicating that the parents put their own “emotional wellbeing” in front of that of their child, the adoption order must stand. When this judgment was reported, an independent social worker, who had earlier been an expert witness in the case, wrote to Mr and Mrs Smith to say he was “horrified” to learn that Jenny was “not back in their care”, having assumed for over a year that “she must have been returned home”.

Their equally horrified GP, saying that he had never “encountered such a case of appalling injustice”, wrote “the destruction of this once happy family is in my opinion evil”. So shocked was their MP, Mr Hendry ,that he last Wednesday took the highly unusual course of raising the case with the Prime Minister at question time. Numerous others who know the family well have expressed similar dismay. One neighbour, herself a former social worker, whose own daughter often played with “Jenny”, said: “I worked with children in social services for 25 years and I have never seen anything like this. It is disgusting.”

What is clear in this case, as in so many others, is that a system involving social workers, police and courts in what is an obviously very close alliance should yet again have left a happy, loving family destroyed for no very obvious reason, Almost equally alarming is the way that system manages to shield itself from the world, through reporting restrictions which it claims are designed to protect the children but which too often end up by protecting only the system itself.

[Commentary from Archonix: When I was a youngster my parents lived in fear of the social services coming to take us away because we were always playing out in the open and getting knocked about by various things. We’d always have a bruise or two on our arms and legs from climbing trees and fording or damming the little brook by our home (ahh the idylic lifestyle of a child in the countryside…).

It reached it’s height in the early 90s with the satanic ritual abuse scare and after that I thought it had been put to rest. No such luck. The b*tches (I refuse to call the heartless monsters who run these services “women”) are still at it, taking children away from their parents just because they can. Private Eye reports that the woman behind the whole satanic abuse bungle has now been given an OBE for services to child protection. That’s this government to a tee. They don’t reward failure, they reward active malice.

I can only assume I’ve died and gone to hell.]

           — Hat tip: Archonix[Return to headlines]


UK: Cameron ‘Would Evict Peace Camp’

A Tory government would attempt to remove the long standing peace camp in Parliament Square, David Cameron says.

Anti-war campaigner Brian Haw has been camping opposite Parliament since 2001, surrounded by banners and placards.

He has been joined in the square by other protesters over the years — most recently a large group of Tamils.

The Tory leader said he was in favour of free speech but the square had been turned into a “pretty poor place” and it was time to say “enough is enough”.

Mr Haw initially set up his camp in protest at sanctions against Iraq and then over the war itself but there is no indication his protest is coming to an end, despite the withdrawal of British troops in Iraq.

The father-of-seven has successfully resisted repeated attempts to remove him by Westminster City Council in London and by the government.

‘Enough’

Several peace protesters were evicted from the square in August 2007 by the Greater London Authority to “prevent it becoming an illegal campsite”, after reports that homeless people were sleeping there.

But Mr Haw from Redditch, Worcestershire, was allowed to stay.

Earlier that year he won a legal battle to remain in place due to a drafting error in a new law banning unauthorised protests in Westminster, but was ordered to restrict his banners and placard display to a three-metre area.

But the peace camp has sparked complaints from MPs and peers on all sides that it is too noisy and an eyesore.

Mr Cameron today told Sky News’ Sunday Live a future Tory government would take steps to have it removed.

He said: “I am all in favour of free speech and the right to demonstrate and the right to protest.

“But I think there are moments when our Parliament Square does look like a pretty poor place, with shanty town tents and the rest of it.

“I am all for demonstrations, but my argument is ‘Enough is enough’.”

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


UK: Johnson Ditches Jacqui Smith’s Least-Wanted List as a ‘Blunder’ by Simon Walters

Home Secretary Alan Johnson is to scrap his predecessor’s policy of naming and shaming people banned from Britain for spreading race hate and terrorism.

The U-turn follows Jacqui Smith’s controversial decision two months ago to announce a list of 16 people branded as ‘least wanted’ in the UK.

It led to a claim for £100,000 damages by U.S. radio ‘shock jock’ Michael Savage, who objected to being put in the same category as Islamic hate preachers and terrorists.

The Mail on Sunday has been told that Mr Johnson believes the move was a blunder and does not propose to issue similar lists in the future. But the switch could have major legal consequences for the Government.

Mr Savage is suing Ms Smith for libel over the list and abandoning the policy could make it impossible to contest his demand for damages.

The presenter, real name Michael Weiner, has eight million listeners for his Savage Nation show in America, but his hardline views on Islam, rape and autism have caused outrage.

He said Ms Smith had no right to put him on the same list as a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, a skinhead gang leader and a Hezbollah militant.

The ban sparked a major debate about freedom of speech — Mr Savage claimed he was forced to employ security guards after threats against him.

He said: ‘I’m not a terrorist. I’m one of America’s most popular radio hosts and a happily married father of two.

‘Maybe Jacqui Smith just plucked my name out of the hat because I’m controversial and white — to counter-balance all the Arabs named on her list.’

The initiative was seen at a time as an attempt by Ms Smith to save her job after her expenses controversy.

She said then: ‘It’s important that people understand the sorts of values and sorts of standards that we have here, the fact that it’s a privilege to come here, and the sort of things that mean you won’t be welcome in this country.’

But the list, denounced as a gimmick by the Tories, quickly unravelled after officials admitted not all the fanatics had actually intended to travel to the UK.

They had been placed on a list of people accused of ‘unacceptable behaviour’ — simply on the off-chance they may decide to visit.

Two on the list, Russian teenage skinheads Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, were serving ten years in a Russian jail.

Others on the list included a Hamas MP, Islamic activists, a Kashmiri terror group leader and an American Baptist pastor.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


UK: Muslim Care Home Owner ‘Bans Pensioners From Eating Bacon Sandwiches’

A Muslim care home owner has been branded ‘a disgrace’ after banning his pensioner residents from eating bacon.

The 40 pensioners — none of them Muslim — were shocked when all pork products were cut off the menu by owner Dr Zulfikar Ali Khan.

He stopped deliveries from the butcher who supplied the home for years and instead ordered halal-meat only from another firm.

It meant that the elderly residents at the 40-bed Queen’s Care Centre in the pit village of Maltby, near Rotherham, missed out on traditional favourites like bacon sandwiches, sausage and mash, ham sandwiches and sausage rolls.

But the move has brought a furious reaction from the 37-strong staff — and the families of residents.

Said a relative of an elderly resident : ‘This is a disgrace. The old people who are in the home and in their final years an deserve better.

‘They are paying customers who are making profits for this man. The least he can do is give them their favourite food.

‘Bacon butties and bangers and mash is traditional English food and that’s what these people want, it’s shocking that they should be deprived of the food they like on the whim of this man.’

Said one member of staff , who asked not to be named: ‘Only halal meat was delivered to the home and all pork products such as bacon, ham sandwiches, pork pies, sausages and even lard were stopped.

‘He did not consult the residents or seek their approval. Bacon sandwiches are a favourite here.

‘It’s also quite wrong that someone should impose their religious and cultural beliefs on others like this.

‘For many years meat has been supplied by Crawshaws, a Rotherham family butcher but that contract ended two weeks ago and since then only halal meat has been delivered along with other products with brand names you would not recognise.

‘We were told that if people wanted pork products we could go out and get them, but in reality this has not worked.

‘We only have halal meat on the premises and so this is all we had to serve to residents because there is no other meat in the building.’

When asked about the decision, Dr Khan, who has owned the home since 1994, suggested that the halal meat had been brought in for Muslim staff — but he is believed to be the only one the only in the building.

He said staff had misconceptions about the situation and added : ‘As soon as we realised residents were not getting what they wanted it was resolved a a senior staff meeting a week ago.

‘We will be ordering all types of meat . It is complete nonsense. The residents are free to have whatever they want.

‘Regarding meat we are moving from Crawshaws to Browns Meat Supplies — a British company which supplies all kinds of meat.

‘There has been one delivery of halal meat and people have misunderstood the concept. As soon as I realised this I held a senior staff meeting which was minuted and I made it abundantly clear that residents could have any meat product or food they wished.

‘I agree it would be quite wrong for someone to impose their religious or cultural beliefs on others, but this is not the case.’

Said a former member of staff who still has connections with the home: ‘I believe Dr Khan intended to serve only halal meat at the home but has had to think again because of the row.

‘The staff have been very unhappy and the manager has just left, one of several to go in the last few years.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


UK: Riot Police Raid Birthday Barbecue for ‘All-Night’ Facebook Tag

Riot police stormed a man’s 30th birthday barbecue for 15 guests because it was advertised as an “all-night” party on Facebook.

Four police cars, a riot van, and a force helicopter were dispatched to a privately-owned field in a small village near Sowton, Devon in the UK on Saturday, ordering the party shut down or everyone would be arrested.

Andrew Poole, a coach driver from Sowton, said his birthday barbecue was busted up before they even had a chance to plug the music in, reports the BBC.

“What effectively the police did was come in and stop 15 people eating burgers,” Poole said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Serbia: Main Partner for Export Bosnia, For Import Russia

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, JULY 17 — Serbia’s chief export partner in the first five months of this year was Bosnia, to which goods worth USD 349 million were exported, and the leading import partner was Russia, which purchased goods worth USD 838.4 million from Serbia, according to the figures of the Republic Bureau of Statistics, reports Tanjug news agency. In foreign trade exports, the main partners following Bosnia were Germany, with US$337.6 million, and Montenegro with US$299.9 million worth of export goods. The main foreign trade partners in imports, after Russia, were Germany again, with USD 708.5 million, and Italy with USD 575.6 million. The foreign trade exchange was the biggest with European Union members — more than half the overall exchange, and the biggest surplus in trade was realized with Montenegro, Bosnia, Iraq, and Macedonia. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egyptian Security Refuses to Return Abducted Christian Coptic Girl

By Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Two incidents of abduction of Coptic girls to force them to convert to Islam took place within one week in Upper Egypt. In both cases the Egyptian security predictably played a key role in the outcome of the cases.

Rania Asaad was returned to her family, while Irene Labib is still missing, in spite of pleas from human rights organizations to the security authorities to end this Coptic family’s misfortune.

In view of the security authorities’ complete neglect in the handling of Irene’s case, and false government media reports that Irene was returned to her family, a spokesman for the Coptic Church’s Sohag Diocese issued a statement on 7/16/09 calling for the immediate return of the abducted girl.

Irene Hanna Labib, 20-years old, disappeared on 7/1/2009 from Sahel Tahta, Sohag Governorate, 500 km south of Cairo.

After carrying out their own investigations, the well to do Labib family discovered that Irene was abducted by Muslim Hisham Saad Mohamed, who works as a waiter in the IT institute where she studies.

“Her brother Girgis Labib went and met with the abductor Hisham, who confessed to Irene being in his possession,” said Reverend Sawires Rady pastor of St. Shenouda Church, Sahel Tahta in Sohag.”The Labib family filed a report with the police and accused Hisham Mohamaed of abducting their daughter. The police detained Hisham and Irene’s brother Girgis, who was subsequently released after taking a pledge not to harass Hisham.” Hisham was released three days later after promising security to bring back Irene at 8 pm of the same day, but he has subsequently disappeared. Reverend Sawires said “the abductor never kept his promise and I now ask security to bring back the abducted girl as they know her whereabouts.”

Mamdouh Nakhla, head of Al Kalema Human Right Organisation told Copts United “Security must disclose the whereabouts of the girl kidnapped by the Muslim man, as they know her whereabouts from the confessions of the abductor who pledged to bring her back on the same day.” Nakhla holds security responsible for bringing the girl back to her family safe and unharmed. Also the Bareek Center for Anti-Violence Against Women Advocacycriticized the role of security. Until her return, the Labib family is keeping quiet about the circumstances of their daughter’s disappearance.

The family of 21-year old pharmacy student Rania Tawfik Asaad from Samalut, Minya Governorate, were successful in getting back their daughter, one week she disappeared on 6/27/2009; she was held by her abductor in the small village Of Taha Bosh, Nasser district, in the Beni Suef Governorate.

Rania was approached by Muslim army officer Mohamed Sayed Farag, 29 years old, who posed as a Copt called Mina who was living in Cairo. After a brief courtship, the army officer proposed to her and asked her to meet his elderly mother. According to Ayman Eid of Free Copts advocacy Rania knew the true identity of her abductor only when she arrived at a secluded house in Beni Suef.

Mohamed was also discovered to be a member of the Islamic Welfare Association, which is affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood. He asked Rania to convert to Islam and marry him, but she refused. After a great ordeal her family discovered her whereabouts and learnt that she was forced to convert to Islam by the Association and married Captain Mohamed two days after her abduction.

Her father reported the incident to security and accused the army officer of abducting his daughter. According to an eyewitness who asked to remain anonymous, the State Security had made a deal with Rania’s father to bring her back on condition of dropping all changes against the army officer, as he would be subjected to trial by the armed forces and due to the negative publicity to the reputation of the Defence Ministry, in return for his daughter’s safe return.

The issue of abduction of Coptic girls forms one of the most explosive problems in the relations between Christians and Muslims of Egypt — especially as abductions are carried out in cooperation between Arab-funded legitimate associations and the State Security.

In the opinion of Magdy Khalil, political analyst and researcher that abduction of Coptic girls is an organized crime. “Abducting and converting Coptic girls to Islam is not only a result of the paranoid and racist incitation against the Copts, it is an organized and pre-planned process by associations and organizations inside Egypt with domestic and Arab funding, as the main role in seducing and luring Coptic girls is carried through cunning, deceit, and enticement, or through force if required,” he said.

Khalil tells of incidents of abduction he witnessed when the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Pope Shenouda intervened, and where the abducted girls were returned to their families within 24 hours. “What can we call this? And what about the poor ones whose voice could not be heard, or have no connections?” he said.

Activist Medhat Kelada, PR for Copts United advocacy believes that the Islamization business represents a permanent source of livelihood for security officials, “Especially with the flow of funds from the rich and extremist Wahhabis who try to Islamize the Egyptian Copts with the help of some of the security service officers”, he said.

The Egyptian Al Fagr (the Dawn) independent newspaper was the first to report on the lucrative business of the ‘brokers’ of Islamization of Christians, in its May 19th 2008 issue, taking the city of Alexandria as an example.

Al Fagr reporter Tamer Salah-el-Din highlighted how the operation which is funded by Muslim businessmen is carried out with the collusion of State Security and Mosque sheikhs. The ‘trading rates’ cashed by brokers for each Christian male and female conversion to Islam, at the time of writing his report, was 7000 Egyptian pounds for the male and 6000 for the female. The rates for Coptic girls fluctuate depending on how good-looking she is and her family’s social status.

Coptic Pope Shenouda III openly protested on December 17th, 1976 about this problem and in spite of the multiplicity of incidents, not one single person accused of abduction of Coptic girls was brought to justice.

“Amid the government’s inaction and its collusion, awakening the international conscience may be the more effective means in exposing the perpetrators and those who support them.” says Khalil.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Controversy in Jerusalem: Ultra Orthodox Revolt

(ANSA) — JERUSALEM, JULY 16 — Protests in several ultra-orthodox areas of Jerusalem are disrupting daily life in the city while leaders of some Rabbinic sects are fighting for the release of a mother accused of starving her son almost to the point of death, according to medical reports. A disturbing photo of the boy has appeared on the pages of Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot. Just three and a half years of age and weighing less than seven kilogrammes, his shaven head and skeletal body brings images to mind of Jews held in Nazi concentration camps. But the arrest of the woman, who is a member of the anti-Zionist ‘Toldot Aharon’ (one thousand families in total) sect has sparked off angry reactions by the extreme Zealot fringe. They rampaged through several areas of Jerusalem for the entire morning, attacking police officers and council employees, laying siege to the Ministry of Education (which is close to the Orthodox Mea Shearim area) as well as to several social security offices, all of whom they considered ‘guilty’ of having reported the child’s case to the lay Israeli authorities. Around a dozen people were injured during the incidents. The police enforced special security measures in Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital where the child is being cared for, fearing that he could be “kidnapped” by ultra-Orthodox extremists. There is some controversy surrounding his medical condition. According to the press, doctors’ suspicions were aroused by the child’s frequent admissions to hospital. CCTV cameras are said to have recorded the young woman (who has another four children and is in her fifth month of pregnancy) while she removed a probe from the boy’s body. Doctors add that soon after the mother’s arrest, the child’s condition immediately improved and he should regain the body-weight of a normal boy of his age within a matter of weeks. But in Jerusalem’s Orthodox quarters, a different — but equally dramatic — version of the story is doing the rounds. It states that the child was forced by doctors to undergo unnecessary chemotherapy treatment which led to his poor physical condition. The mother is refusing to speak to her interrogators. Police are opposing her release, fearing that she would be whisked abroad by other sect members. A psychiatric examination has been ordered for tomorrow, on the supposition that the woman is suffering from a nervous disorder. Her lawyers are objecting to the proposal. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Film: Jerusalem Celebrates Eternal City With Anna Magnani

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 13 — The Holy City of Jerusalem is set to celebrate the Eternal City. The Jerusalem Film Festival, which began on July 9 and will come to an end next Saturday, is dedicating a tribute to Rome through one of its most famous icons, the actress Anna Magnani. The event, scheduled for July 15, will include an exhibition of 20 photographs taken on the sets of the films Anna Magnani acted in, made available by the archives of the Experimental Centre of Cinematography’s National Cinetheque in Rome. The same day includes the projection of the film ‘L’Onorevole Angelinà by Luigi Zampa, while on the 16th and 17th ‘Roma Citta’ Apertà by Roberto Rossellini will be shown. “The Israeli audience, with an enormous awareness of and passion for Italian film, will be able to get to know better and pay tribute to a figure that took on thousands of faces and brought the heartfelt truth to those who watched her,” explained Ariela Piattelli, the curator of the event. The tribute to the actress was organised by the Italian Institute of Culture in Tel Aviv, the Golda Cultural Association, the Experimental Centre of Cinematography Foundation in Rome, as well as by the Region of Lazio. The photography exhibition will be inaugurated by the Israeli actress Ronit Elkabetz, considered the Israeli Anna Magnani, and by the President of the Region of Lazio, Piero Marrazzo. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Hamas Creates ‘Islamic’ Film About Terrorist Killer

(IsraelNN.com) Hamas in Gaza unveiled its first artistic creation on Friday: a full-length movie honoring terrorist Emad Akel, who murdered 11 Israeli soldiers, one Israeli civilian, and several Arab civilians suspected of helping Israel.

The movie’s goal is to present “quality art that is Islamic and about the resistance,” explained senior Hamas official Fathi Hamad.

The film was screened at the Islamic University in Gaza City in a premier attended by Hamas’ Gaza head, Ismail Haniyeh, and other senior Gaza leaders. Women who wore veils were allowed to watch the movie in a separate hall.

The movie was written by Mahmoud a-Zahar, an arch-terrorist responsible for directing many of Hamas’ military activities, including the group’s battles against Fatah for control of Gaza in 2007. A-Zahar explained that he chose Akel as his hero because the young terrorist “sets a good example.” He encouraged other Gaza residents to write as well, “in order to have a culture, the culture of resistance, culture of dignity and culture of moral life.”

Akel, who commanded armed Hamas forces in the early 1990s, was slain in 1993 in a shootout with IDF soldiers. In the movie bearing his name, Akel’s character attacks Israeli solders in daring action sequences.

The movie portrays Israeli leaders of the time, including former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and former Chief of Staff Ehud Barak, as incapable of stopping Hamas.

The movie is the first to be shot entirely in Gaza, and cost $200,000 to produce. Hamas is already planning a second movie, honoring Izzadin al-Kassam, a 1920s terrorist after whom Hamas’ armed “al-Kassam” brigades are named.

Film Shot in Gush Katif

The film glorifying Akel was shot on the ruins of Ganei Tal, a flourishing Jewish agricultural community destroyed in the 2005 “Disengagement.” After the Jews were thrown out, angry Gaza residents ripped down many of the agricultural greenhouses that provided the town with its income.

Hamas decided to develop the area in a different direction, by creating a movie production house on the site, along with other recreational sites, including a zoo, restaurants and hotels. Hamas has expressed hope that the production house will grow to a media site worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

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


Murder, He Said: Palestinian Politics Fragments Further

by Barry Rubin

Reality keeps impinging on the four main illusions regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the ideas that: peace is possible in the not-distant future; that there’s a Palestinian negotiating partner which wants a two-state solution; that there’s a serious Palestinian negotiating partner capable of reaching and implementing an agreement; and that the failure to end the conflict is due to Israel.

Now we may be at the start of another Palestinian implosion, this time in Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the PLO, the less-important but still existing Palestinian political umbrella group.

The latest development is a very public feud between Fatah leader and long-time PLO “foreign minister” Farouq Qaddumi, and PLO and PA head Mahmoud Abbas. With the word “moderate” endlessly—and exaggeratedly—applied to Fatah, it is easy to forget that the group’s perennial most popular leader is Qaddumi, a man who opposed and still openly opposes the Oslo agreement and a two-state solution.

Given this opposition, Qaddumi, unlike many other Fatah leaders, long refused to move to Gaza or the West Bank. It should be stressed, however, that Qaddumi could probably—if a conflict broke out—muster more support in the organization than the bureaucratic and uncharismatic Abbas. Indeed, the only real asset Abbas has is the Western aid which subsidizes the PA and, indirectly, Fatah and the PLO.

Qaddumi has now accused Abbas of murdering former PLO, PA, and Fatah leader Yasir Arafat, in partnership with Israel no less! Of course, Israel is often blamed for this even by supposedly “moderate” Palestinian leaders or intellectuals aligned with Abbas. The truth is that Arafat, who was always in poor health and never exactly a physical fitness fanatic, received poor medical care, further delayed by the movement’s refusal to deal with the reality of his illness.

Let’s pause here for a moment. If Palestinian leaders lie about each other so shamelessly, shouldn’t Western journalists, politicians, and human rights’ groups consider how much more of an incentive they have to lie about Israel? Israel is accused of all sorts of misdeeds based on statements by Palestinians who view such lies as part of their propaganda effort. Shouldn’t that be taken into account and such claims discounted without hard proof?

Let’s return, however, to the Palestinian political action. Why this feud between the two top non-Islamist Palestinian leaders?…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Middle East

‘I Wed Iranian Girls Before Execution’

In a shocking and unprecedented interview, directly exposing the inhumanity of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s religious regime in Iran, a serving member of the paramilitary Basiji militia has told this reporter of his role in suppressing opposition street protests in recent weeks.

He has also detailed aspects of his earlier service in the force, including his enforced participation in the rape of young Iranian girls prior to their execution.

[…]

He said he had been a highly regarded member of the force, and had so “impressed my superiors” that, at 18, “I was given the ‘honor’ to temporarily marry young girls before they were sentenced to death..”

In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a “wedding” ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard — essentially raped by her “husband.”

“I regret that, even though the marriages were legal,” he said.

Why the regret, if the marriages were “legal?”

“Because,” he went on, “I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their ‘wedding’ night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.

“I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over,” he said. “I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her.”

Returning to the events of the last few weeks, and his decision to set free the two teenage detainees, he said he “honestly” did not know why he had released them, a decision that led to his own arrest, “but I think it was because they were so young. They looked like children and I knew what would happen to them if they weren’t released.”

He said that while a man is deemed “responsible for his own actions at 13, for a woman it is 9,” and that it was freeing the 15-year-old girl that “really got me in trouble.

“I was not mistreated or really interrogated while being detained,” he said. “I was put in a tiny room and left alone. It was hard being isolated, so I spent most of my time praying and thinking about my wife and kids.”

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

South Asia

Images of the Body Parts of Jakarta Bombing Victim Nathan Verity Circulate on Mobile Phones

IMAGES of the body parts of Jakarta bombing victim Nathan Verity have been circulated on mobile phones, to the great distress of his family.

Mr Verity’s former boss Jim Truscott, a former SAS trooper, told The Daily Telegraph yesterday those responsible should be prosecuted.

“This is criminal,” said Mr Truscott, who owns a crisis management firm.

Mr Truscott said a work colleague in Jakarta informed him on Saturday that the photos of the 38-year-old’s body parts were being circulated.

“My colleague did not receive them but he saw them on another phone,” Mr Truscott said.

“They are clearly official photographs … there are latex gloves in the shots and they’re taken in some kind of medical situation.

“Whoever’s doing it needs to stop. They are promoting terrorism.”

A distraught Vanessa Verity was last night comforted by father-in-law Peter after identifying her husband’s body at the Jakarta Police Hospital.

Nathan and Vanessa Verity’s five-year-old son Chris was being cared for by his grandparents at the weekend.

There were more heartbreaking scenes for grieving Australian relatives as the body of Brisbane victim, Garth McEvoy, 54, was moved from the Jakarta morgue to a funeral parlour.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Admits Uighur Riot Killings

A Chinese official says police shot dead 12 Uighur rioters in Urumqi this month, in a rare government admission of deaths inflicted by security forces.

Nuer Baikeli, governor of Xinjiang region and himself a Uighur, said those killed had ignored police warning shots and were attacking civilians and shops.

He said police had shown restraint and had no choice but to act.

Some 200 people — mostly Han Chinese — died in the clashes between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in Urumqi.

“The rioters, the criminals, continued to act in an extremely vicious manner, insisted on having their way, and continued to threaten the lives of others,” he told reporters.

“It was at this point that our public security forces and military police decisively fired. They shot dead 12 rioters. Of them, three died on site, and nine died as people tried to save them.”

The violence in Xinjiang began on 5 July during a protest by Uighurs over a brawl in southern China in late June in which two people were killed.

Uighur groups in exile have said hundreds of Uighurs were killed.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

German Hostages Taken to Somali Mainland

Following apparent difficulties in release negotiations, Somali pirates took three German hostages from the hijacked cargo ship Hansa Stavanger to the mainland on Sunday, reports said.

According to news magazine Der Spiegel, the three German hostages include two 19-year-old apprentices and a nautical officer. A Russian officer has also been taken.

The hostages are now said to be more than an hour away from Somali port Haradhere, where the ship is being held. Two other German hostages, as well as the rest of the 24-man crew, are still on board the vessel.

The move comes after negotiations for the release of the ship broke down for the third time, with the pirates increasing the pressure on the Hamburg shipping company Leonhardt & Blumberg that owns the Hansa Stavanger.

Messages have been relayed from the ship via email and satellite telephone, including some saying that the pirates are getting “more and more nervous” at the failure of negotiations.

But German authorities are treating all reports from the ship with caution, as it is thought the pirates are deliberately trying to spread panic. The German government is not ruling out that the hostages have indeed been taken onto the mainland though.

Der Spiegel reports that some experts in the German federal police force (BKA) have criticised the hard-line negotiating technique of the shipping company.

The magazine quotes one unnamed senior BKA expert as calling company head Frank Leonhardt’s behaviour “very stubborn.”

The wife of the captain of the cargo ship has also sharply criticised the company. “It is in their power to end this hostage crisis,” she said, and promised to sue Leonhardt & Blumberg for failure to render assistance.

The figure for the ransom demanded is said to be between $2 million and $3 million. The news of the hostage crisis aboard the Hansa Stavanger comes a day after another freighter, the Victoria, run by a German company but not sailing under its flag, was released for a reported $1.8 million.

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

Latin America

New Escalation in Mexico Drug War

Ten Mexican police officers have been detained in connection with the torture and murder of 12 federal agents during a major escalation in the drug war.

The arrests come as more than 5,000 troops and federal police are deployed in the western state of Michoacan.

The troop surge, one of the biggest in the anti-drugs campaign, comes after a local drug gang launched co-ordinated attacks in 10 cities last week.

The state governor has protested against the “military occupation”.

The federal authorities say they are investigating links between the municipal police and drug traffickers in the murder of the agents, whose bodies were found bound and gagged and shot through the head next to a major highway.

In a statement, prosecutors said the detentions would enable them to strengthen evidence that the officers “undertook criminal acts” in support of the Michoacan drugs gang and to “determine their responsibility for the murder of federal agents”.

Earlier this year 10 mayors in the state were arrested by the federal authorities on suspicion they were working with the drug gangs.

Cocaine transit

Troops with automatic weapons and ski masks to shield their identity have set up roadblocks across Michoacan, President Felipe Calderon’s home state, in a major show of force.

Nineteen police were arrested in one small town, 10 of whom are still being held in custody while alleged links with drug gangs are investigated.

The federal government believes that local police and officials have long been in the pay of the drug gangs.

The Michoacan gang, known as the “Family”, announced itself as a terrifying new force three years ago when its hitmen tossed the severed heads of five victims onto a dancefloor in a city nightclub.

Despite the roadblocks, analysts say federal agents remain highly vulnerable in a region where drug gangs can easily get intelligence about their movements.

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

Immigration

Algerians Make it to Italy on Water Scooters

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JULY 16 — Four Algerians between the ages of 22 and 30 have reportedly managed to get to Sardinia on four stolen water scooters. According to the Algerian daily Echourouk, the four migrants left from the Tunisian coastline where — after having stayed in a luxury hotel — they rented the scooters. Using a plan they had worked out to the smallest detail, equipped with GPRS and diesel tanks, the four young men left for Sardinia where they then contacted their families to reassure them they had arrived safely. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Australia: Immigration Levels Pushing Out Young Jobseekers

THE Rudd government’s alarm about retiring Baby Boomers causing economic growth to fall is unfounded and its policy response — to bring in tens of thousands of overseas workers a year — is wrong because of the rapid rise in over-55s staying at work.

According to a new report, a sustained increase in the labour force participation rate among men and women aged over 55 since the mid-1990s, continuing even as jobs are shed during the global economic downturn, should put a large question mark over the immigration program.

If immigration continues at current levels, the group most likely to suffer is young Australian jobseekers trying to enter the workforce, it concludes.

The report — to be published next week by Monash University’s Centre for Population and Urban Research in its People and Place quarterly — concludes that, even if the net overseas immigration intake were halved from its current 180,000 a year between now and 2018, the labour force would grow by nearly a million workers, about two-thirds of whom would be over 55.

“The Immigration Minister’s fear that, without continued, unprecedented high levels of overseas migration, the Australian labour force will soon contract is unfounded,” the report concludes. “In the present economic environment of employment decline, sustained high levels of overseas migration are not necessary to ensure adequate labour force growth and such levels are compromising the employment prospects of younger job-seekers.”

The report’s author, CPUR social researcher Ernest Healy, told The Australian the Rudd government “appears to have been more alarmist than it needed to be in terms of population ageing and labour supply.

“The assumption by the government has been that all these Baby Boomers are going to retire and there will be this crisis of labour growth, but they simply don’t seem to be retiring in the numbers the government has been expecting.”

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


Greece Holds Human Traffickers

(ANSA) — ATHENS JULY 16 — Police in Magnesia, an area in central Greece, have held four foreign citizens — two Palestinians and two Syrians — during a spot check on a truck. They are thought to be members of an alleged smuggling ring dealing in illegal immigrants. The police found five Pakistani citizens hidden inside the truck: they had boarded the vehicle in a pass close to the Turkish border. According to information supplied by the migrants, each had paid 3,000 euros for their passage from Turkey to Athens. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Israel: Rabbis, Law in Conflict With Torah

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JULY 14 — Tension in Israel over a new parliamentary bill on illegal immigration of refugees is increasing. The bill provides for heavy penalties for “traffickers”, for the immigrants themselves and for anyone helping them in Israel. According to daily newspaper Haaretz, if the law were to be approved in its current form, “doctors and nurses who, in respect of their professional ethics, provide health assistance to a refugee” could end up in prison. Yuval Sherlo, one of Israel’s most famous Rabbis, has today spoken out passionately against the draft law, finding it “inconceivable” that a law of its sort could be discussed in the Israeli parliament. Assistance to refugees, pointed out Sherlo, is an obligation clearly set forth in the Bible and it cannot be ignored. In reference to the many thousands of African refugees who are trying to enter Israel across the Sinai desert, the Rabbi admits that the Jewish State cannot take them all in indiscriminately and for an unlimited period of time. There could also be “hostile elements” among them. But he states that the law discussed at the Knesset “is draconian in a way that makes you shudder”. A much softer version that is compatible with the principles of the Torah must therefore be drafted. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Maroni: Repatriation Accord EU-Origin Country

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Strengthening the activities of the Frontex agency in the Mediterranean to combat illegal immigration, but also putting repatriation agreements in place with the migrants’ countries of origin. These should no longer be simply bilateral agreements, but made with the European Union. These are the objectives set by the Informal ministerial meeting on Justice and Home Affairs which met in Stockholm today. “It was a fruitful meeting,” said Italy’s Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, at the end of the day’s work in which he represented Italy, “signalling an important step forward in the management of migratory flows”. Maroni went on to say: “The signing of the agreement over repatriation should not only concern the countries of departure and of transit”. Tackling illegal immigration is a job for the whole of Europe, the Italian minister repeated on several occasions. As also said in La Valetta by the head of the Parliamentary Schengen Committee, Margherita Boniver, in Malta at the head of a delegation on a two-day visit with a focus on combating irregular migratory flows. “Tackling the problem of illegal immigration requires European policies that are up to the task”, she pointed. Having praised the friendship and collaboration between Italy and Malta, Ms Boniver noted that the underlying theme, despite a recent fall in the number of landings of boats carrying illegal immigrants, is that of “radically” changing European policies that have so far fallen short of the task. Following her meetings with Malta’s Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister, Tony Borg, with the General Secretary of the Interior Ministry, Mario De Battista, Boniver pointed out that the past six months have seen “around 13 thousand boat landings [in Malta] coming above all from Libyan ports. It is as if 800 thousand migrants were to have landed at Lampedusa”. The asylum policies followed by each single state are nonetheless insufficient in the view of the head of the Parliamentary Committee for controlling the Schengen Accords. “We need greater collaboration, and the European Union needs to arrive at shared and clear rules for distributing the burden”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

General

Are the Deserts Getting Greener?

It has been assumed that global warming would cause an expansion of the world’s deserts, but now some scientists are predicting a contrary scenario in which water and life slowly reclaim these arid places.

They think vast, dry regions like the Sahara might soon begin shrinking.

The evidence is limited and definitive conclusions are impossible to reach but recent satellite pictures of North Africa seem to show areas of the Sahara in retreat.

It could be that an increase in rainfall has caused this effect.

Farouk el-Baz, director of the Centre for Remote Sensing at Boston University, believes the Sahara is experiencing a shift from dryer to wetter conditions.

“It’s not greening yet. But the desert expands and shrinks in relation to the amount of energy that is received by the Earth from the Sun, and this over many thousands of years,” Mr el-Baz told the BBC World Service.

“The heating of the Earth would result in more evaporation of the oceans, in turn resulting in more rainfall.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

2 comments:

The Poster Formerly Known as Gordon said...

In other news, Baron, please read the following blog post:
Complex Financial Instruments, and perhaps you can discern how a mortgage pool with even a 10-20% default rate (as even the most risky pools had) can turn into a 100% loss and financial disaster.

And then maybe you'll stop blaming the Community Reinvestment Act and start blaming Wall Street for the magnitude of the financial disaster from last year.

The Poster Formerly Known as Gordon said...

And here's the original article from the Wall Street Journal.