Thursday, September 03, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/3/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/3/2009An entire neighborhood in Sydney was locked down after a masked gunman entered a bank, fired a number of shots, and left without collecting any cash. There’s no direct evidence of cultural enrichment in this incident, and the bandit was one of those mysterious nondescript fellows. Still, the attack occurred in the Lakemba district, home of the notorious “Cat’s Meat” mosque. So who knows?

In other news, the wife of Japan’s prime minister-elect claims to have traveled to Venus in a UFO twenty years ago, before she married her husband.

Thanks to A Greek Friend, Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Derius, Insubria, JD, Nilk, Steen, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
Croatia: Banco Popolare, 3.23 Mln in Losses in 1st 6 Months
Italy: Immigrant Firms Grow, +1.7% in 3 Months
Montenegro: Salaries Dropping, 457 Euros (Net) In June
 
USA
500 More Banks to Fail by End of 2010: Wilbur Ross
Dear Leader, There’s a Town Hall Fly in Your Ointment
Obama’s Nazi Youth
Quin Hillyer: He’s Not Jimmy Carter
Research: U.S. To Collaborate With Muslim World
U.S. Consumer Bankruptcies Rose 24 Percent in August
 
Canada
Section 13 Hate Message Clause Unconstitutional Rules Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
 
Europe and the EU
Gaddafi to Propose Switzerland Break-Up to UN
Gas: South Stream, Slovenia Close to Agreement
Portugal: 60,000 Illegal Construction Workers Abroad
The Church: Obama, And Berlusconi. Confusion in Power
UK: My Mother Hired a Hitman to Kill Me: The Shocking Story of a Muslim Woman Whose Parents Disapproved of Her Western Lifestyle
UK: Muslim Arrested for ‘Making Up BNP Kidnap Story’
UK: Noor Ramjanally Has Been Arrested for Perverting the Course of Justice
Workers in Dublin First to Face New €200 ($294) Parking Levy
 
Balkans
Albania: USAID Begins Training Court Personnel
 
North Africa
Auto: Renault Transfers Production Line to Morocco
Energy: ENI Starts Offshore Gas Field Production in Egypt
Libya: 40 Years of Gaddafi, Death Sentences Commuted
Med: Fruit: Vegetables Sector Grows But Fears Competitiveness
Tunisia: Textile-Clothing Sector Recovering
Tunisia to Hold WHO International Anti-Smoking Confererence
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Jerusalem: Arab Cab Driver Attacked by Orthodox Jews
Stakelbeck Sits Down With Former Palestinian Terrorist
 
Middle East
Environment: Turkish Experts to Prepare Syria’s Forest Plan
Fatwa ‘Takeaway’: Responses Via Internet and Mobiles
Jordan: 10,000 Under Age Girls Married in One Year
Jordan: 10:000 Under Age Girls Married in One Year (2)
Lebanon: Press Says Tehran Offering Arms to Lebanese Army
Neutrality on Iraq-Syria: Obama Administration Betrays Ally and Doesn’t Even Defend Its Own Soldiers
Report: Russia Has MiG Contract With Syria
Roger Scruton: Dealing With Iran
Syria: Chinese Sinochem Buys British Emerald
Turkey to Become Production Base of Total’s Bostik
 
South Asia
India: Assault on Two Protestant Churches in Karnataka. Police Accused of Aiding and Abetting
 
Far East
Delhi and Beijing Join Forces Against the The West Regarding Climatic Changes
Ethnic Tension Flares Over Syringe Attacks in Chinese City of Urumqi
‘My Soul Rode on a UFO to Venus… It Was Very Green’: Japan’s New Prime Minister’s Wife Embarrasses Husband With Bizarre Claim
 
Australia — Pacific
Afghan Detainees Allowed in Australia Without Visas
Police Seek Assistance Following Attempted Armed Robbery — Lakemba
Police ‘Search for Gunman’ In Sydney
Siege Brings Sydney Suburb to Standstill
 
Culture Wars
Abortion: Spain, Conscientious Objection is Civil Disobedience
Italy: Living Will: Senate PDL, No Lessons in Secularism
U.N. Report Advocates Teaching Masturbation to 5-Year-Olds
 
General
Is Islamic Terrorism Reactive or Proactive?
Swine Flu Alert: Medicinal Chemist Says “Think Before You Vaccinate”

Financial Crisis

Croatia: Banco Popolare, 3.23 Mln in Losses in 1st 6 Months

(ANSAmed) — ZAGREB, AUGUST 31 — The Banco Popolare Croatia (Bpc-Gruppo Banco Popolare) has reported that in the first six months of this year it saw HRK 23.6 million in losses (about 3.23 million euros), in stark contrast with the same period in 2008, when its net profits were at 3.64 million (about 500,000 euros). The institute said that the losses are due to large investment in the new IT system. At the end of the first six months of 2009, according to the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) office in Zagreb, BPC’s overall assets were at HRK 1.96 billion (about 268 million euros), +2.16% compared with the end of 2008, and 19.86% more than the same period the previous year. Revenue from interest in the January-June period of 2009 were down by 5.95% on the year, while revenue from commission were up, from HRK 5.37 million (about 735,000 euros) in 2008 to HRK 6.32 million (about 865,000 euros) in the current year (+17.57%). Loans to customers at the end of June were at HRK 1.34 billion (about 183 million euros), 18.92% more on the year, and overall deposits were at HRK 1.35 billion (about 185 million euros), a 21.88% increase on the year.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Immigrant Firms Grow, +1.7% in 3 Months

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 2 — The number of start-ups is falling and the number of closures rising, but even in deepest recession the vitality of businesses set up and run by Italy’s immigrant population is toughing out the times with growth of 1.7% in the second quarter compared to the first of this year. Most of these small businesspeople are of African origin, with Europeans and Asians close behind. Trade is by far the most popular activity, with Tuscany the ideal target region for setting up shop. This is the snap-shot taken by Italy’s three-monthly statistical analysis of immigrant business, sponsored by trade federation Unioncamere. So some are managing to keep their noses above water and wait for better times: the nearly 250 thousand small businesses, sole traders registered with the chambers of commerce as of June 30 this year: they equal 7.3% of all such enterprises. The vitality of these small-scale businesses, says Unioncamere, would appear to be sustained, despite the fact that hard times are being felt in all demographic sectors. Compared to the same period a year ago, the number of start-ups has fallen and the number of closures increased: in the April-June period, start-ups numbered 9,915 (753 fewer than during the same period of 2008), while 5,789 business closed down (744 more than last year). But the quarter-on-quarter trend is a positive 4,126 businesses, or up 1.7% since the end of March. Last year, on the other hand, this trend was noticeably higher at 5,623. Standing out above the national average are sole-traders,(+0,25%). The biggest concentration of foreign businesses is to be found in Tuscany (in Prato, especially, almost a third of businesses are in foreign hands), Lombardy and Liguria follow in the table. The countries of origin of business-owners show Africa as the main source, with over 97 thousand traders, or 39.6% of the total, and Morocco (46,834 business owners) at the top of the list. Way behind in second place are the Senegalese (13,597),Tunisians (11,136), Egyptians (10,408) and Nigerians (5,824). With its 64 thousand representatives, Europe is the second main area of provenance. The main countries here are Albania (26,685 business owners), Serbia and Montenegro combined (7,947) and Macedonia (4,063). Apart from trade, which accounts for 43.2% of immigrant businesses, the highest concentration is in construction (27%), and manufacturing (11.2%). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Montenegro: Salaries Dropping, 457 Euros (Net) In June

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, AUGUST 31 — In June average nominal salaries for Montenegrin workers were down by 1.9% on the month. According to the data released by the Montenegro agency for statistics, MONSTAT, the average salary in June was 457 euros, while the average gross salary was 636 euros. The Italian Trade Commission (ICE) office in Belgrade has issued a statement saying that industrial production has suffering greatly from the crisis, with a 23.8% drop in the first seven months of 2009, compared with the same period the previous year. Seeing +20%, on the other hand, were the electricity, gas and water sectors. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

USA

500 More Banks to Fail by End of 2010: Wilbur Ross

The list of failed bank continues to grow as the FDIC’s troubled bank list currently stands at 416 troubled banks. Wilbur Ross, chairman and CEO of WL Ross & Co. explained that he expects to see further trouble ahead for banks.

“I’m not surprised that the [FDIC’s] list is continuing to grow,” Ross told CNBC. “I think there’s going to be at least 500 more banks fail between now and end of next year.”

Ross said commercial real estate is the currently the biggest problem for banks as opposed to residential.

“The first wave of the big banks were the securitizations,” he said. “The regional banks are the ones now going down. They mostly didn’t have much in the way of securitization but they all have construction loans, they have development loans, they all have loans on little shopping centers and they’ve got that kind of portfolio very heavily.”

In the meantime, Ross said the FDIC recently developed a system to get rid of Alt-A loans through bidding and said investors can benefit from the distressed assets.

“Yesterday, the FDIC held an auction for $1.3 billion of Alt-A loans, or liars loans, coming out of the failed Franklin Bank,” he said. “So that’s the first time FDIC has had an auction with them providing leverage to distressed investors. So we were bidders on it…I think it’s a good system that they’ve developed for getting rid of these assets.”

           — Hat tip: Derius[Return to headlines]


Dear Leader, There’s a Town Hall Fly in Your Ointment

In a 1956 interview with Elks Magazine, then FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had this to say;

“We must now face the harsh truth that the objectives of communism are being steadily advanced because many of us do not recognize the means used to advance them. … The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a Conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists. The American mind simply has not come to a realization of the evil which has been introduced into our midst.”

History has since proven Mr. Hoover correct, none more so than current events in which our federal government operates so far beyond the restraints of the Constitution, that it is just silly to suggest that the Constitution is still in even partial force or effect today. Precedents set in the last Six Months

  • It’s no longer a “free-market” economy, but a federally mandated economy
  • The Fed no longer serves at the pleasure of the people and the states, the people now serve the Fed
  • The constitution no longer stands as protection for the people and the states
  • The office of president is no longer reserved for “natural born citizens” of the US
  • Anyone from anywhere can be president and you have no right to ask any questions
  • No American citizen has “proper standing” in law, to question their government on anything
  • The “free republic” has been replaced with Democratic Socialism, wherein 51% of the people have the right to run over the other 49% for the “greater good,” so long as it is done “democratically”
  • If you take your grievance to your elected officials, you are considered a “domestic terrorist”
  • The Fed is the final say in everything — banking, auto manufacturing, investment, private earnings and assets, education, parenting, health care, energy production and consumption, all of it
  • If you win an election, you have won the right to do anything you want with the power you are given

Those a little late to the party can catch up on who Barack Hussein Obama is and what he meant by “change” at Socialism, Marxism, Communism & Obama.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama’s Nazi Youth

Tuesday, September 8 is my 35th wedding anniversary. It is also the day that Barrack Hussein Obama has chosen to mandate that every student in the United States watch and listen to a live broadcast of a message he has for them. This is what EdNews says about the broadcast:

“The President will deliver a speech about the importance of persisting and succeeding in school on Sept. 8, the first day of school for many children across America. The Department of Education is encouraging educators, students and parents to use this opportunity to help students get focused and begin the school year strong. The speech will be broadcast live on whitehouse.gov at 1 p.m. EDT. The Department of Education has also asked a group of U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellows to develop some suggested classroom activities around the speech to help engage students and stimulate discussion on the importance of education in their lives. The suggested classroom activities will be available on http://www.ed.gov On its surface this seems fairly innocuous and well intentioned, especially considering the current drop out rate in American schools. But when one considers the source and the one who appointed those heading the Department of Education…no, this is something other than what it seems. A lesson from history is warranted yet again.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Quin Hillyer: He’s Not Jimmy Carter

Conservatives are taking too much solace in the precipitous drop in Barack Obama’s approval ratings, and too many of us are overconfident that his administration is merely a replay of the hapless presidency of Jimmy Carter that was easily swept out in a landslide election.

Today’s situation is far different, far more conducive to our political adversary’s political power, than that which faced Carter. And Obama is an entirely different breed of cat. He’s more ruthless, more tactically savvy, and has far more dangerous objectives. A drop in his poll ratings isn’t as serious a setback for him as similar occurrences were for the peanut farmer from Plains.

In short, conservatives should beware. The political battle we’re in is far more difficult than any the conservative movement has ever faced. It will take all our energy and all our smarts to win it.

[Return to headlines]


Research: U.S. To Collaborate With Muslim World

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 27 — The Obama administration is planning to step up scientific and technological collaboration with countries having a mostly Muslim population, according to the scientific journal Nature, which specified that the strategy is in line with the speech made by the president in June in Cairo, when Obama promised to designate regional scientific envoys and to launch a fund to stimulate technological development, as well as opening centres for scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia. Polls consistently show that science and technology are the areas in which the United States are widely respected for their leadership, according to a high-ranking member of the administration who spoke on condition of anonymity. “This is a key element of a more general partnership that we are trying to set up with communities having a Muslim majority. The effort is led by the National Security Council and the Office for Scientific and Technological Policies.” Over a number of weeks, the White House intends to encourage eminent US scientists to visit Muslim-majority regions to get into contact with local researchers, community leaders and others to get ideas which could lead to scientific initiatives. Lebanon is said to have shown interest in the development of technologies focussing on the environment, while Bangladesh reportedly would like to set in motion programmes for the professional insertion of young scientists into their chosen fields. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


U.S. Consumer Bankruptcies Rose 24 Percent in August

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) — U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings rose 24 percent in August from the previous year to 119,874, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute and National Bankruptcy Research Center.

“Consumers continue to turn to bankruptcy as a shield from the sustained financial pressures of today’s economy,” said Samuel Gerdano, the executive director of the American Bankruptcy Institute. “As a result, we expect consumer filings to top 1.4 million this year.”

While the August figure was an increase over the prior year, filings declined from July’s total of 126,434, the groups said in a statement.

The current wave of consumer bankruptcies has swept up celebrities such as actor Stephen Baldwin, former baseball player Lenny Dykstra and celebrity photographers Markus Klinko and Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Scinta in New York bankruptcy court at cscinta@bloomberg.net;

           — Hat tip: Derius[Return to headlines]

Canada

Section 13 Hate Message Clause Unconstitutional Rules Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

Popular conservative pundit and human rights commission critic Mark Steyn today said that the end of the hate speech legislation is near, calling today’s decision a “landmark decision.” “This is the beginning of the end for Section 13 and its provincial equivalents, and a major defeat for Canada’s thought police,” he said. “It’s not just a personal triumph for Marc Lemire, but a critical victory in the campaign by Ezra Levant, Maclean’s, yours truly and others to rid the Canadian state of this hideous affront to justice.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Gaddafi to Propose Switzerland Break-Up to UN

Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is to present a motion to the United Nations that Switzerland should be dismembered and shared among its neighbouring countries.

Parliamentarian Christa Markwalder told the Swiss public television news programme 10 vor 10 on Wednesday that Libya had filed the motion and that it would be presented by Gaddafi during the UN General Assembly, which begins on September 15.

Markwalder, who is vice-president of the House of Representatives external policies commission, said Gaddafi had asked that the motion be added to the agenda. She expressed concern that Libya would use its forthcoming year-long presidency of the UN General Assembly to damage Switzerland’s reputation.

Gaddafi will address the UN meeting for the first time as Libyan leader on September 23.

Markwalder said Swiss diplomacy needed to work hard to avoid a scandal at the UN meeting.

Gaddafi first mentioned the idea during the G8 Summit in Italy in July. Switzerland “is a world mafia and not a state”, he said, adding that it was “formed of an Italian community that should return to Italy, another German community that should return to Germany, and a third French community that should return to France”.

The United States Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, noted on Wednesday that the upcoming UN meeting would be devoted solely to disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, adding it would be “irrelevant and misplaced” for any head of state to talk about unrelated subjects.

[Return to headlines]


Gas: South Stream, Slovenia Close to Agreement

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, AUGUST 28 — Slovenia is reportedly close to signing the agreement which will allow the construction of a part of the South Stream pipeline on its territory. According to Slovenian press agency STA, Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor stated that the details regarding the agreement will be defined during a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. A delegation comprising of a group of experts of Russian energy giant Gazprom and representatives of the Russian Ministry of Energy, visited yesterday the Slovenian Ministry of Economy to discuss the fiscal aspects of the agreement. The ‘South Stream’ pipeline will run for 900 km to reach Central Europe and will cross Bulgaria and Serbia. The construction works on the pipeline should be completed by the end of 2015. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Portugal: 60,000 Illegal Construction Workers Abroad

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 19 — Of the 120,000 Portuguese workers that work abroad in the construction sector 60,000 of them are illegal, without contracts or benefits, according to what can be read in today’s edition of Publico. This condition worries labour unions for construction workers in Portugal that have sounded the alarm: in coming years the number of illegal workers in insecure conditions is destined to increase further. According to the data released by the Ministry of Labour, the countries which collect the largest number of illegal workers are those in the Mediterranean, like Spain, France and Greece. Labour unions complain that many of these workers receive no benefits, vacation or health insurance for higher risk work. Paolo Morgado deCarvalho, general inspector for the Ministry of Labour, told the press that the conditions of Portuguese workers abroad are under constant observation by the government. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


The Church: Obama, And Berlusconi. Confusion in Power

Among the Italian bishops and clergy, those who shout the loudest against the government and its leader are winning. The cardinal secretary of state is trying to restore order, but even the Catholic newspaper “Avvenire” has ended up in the commotion. It’s much the same in the United States, with the Vatican and bishops divided

ROME, August 31, 2009 — For a few months, two political leaders of the highest order have been under critical observation by the Church hierarchy in two key countries for worldwide Catholicism: Barack Obama in the United States, and Silvio Berlusconi in Italy.

In both cases, the Holy See and the respective national episcopacies are not taking the same approach. The Vatican authorities appear more inclined to a peaceful and conciliatory relationship, while the national episcopacies appear more critical and combative.

And in both cases, two Church newspapers are also participating in the conflict: “L’Osservatore Romano,” an organ of the Vatican, and “Avvenire,” the newspaper owned by the Italian bishops’ conference.

1. THE OBAMA CASE

With Barack Obama, the stance of the Holy See diverges so much from that of a significant portion of the American bishops that it has repeatedly induced some of these to lodge lively protests against the Vatican authorities themselves.

Some of the American bishops, for example, were scandalized by the editorial with which “L’Osservatore Romano” commented, on April 30, 2009, on the first hundred days of the new president.

Not only did the newspaper of the Holy See express a mostly positive view of the start of the Obama presidency, but it even saw in this a “rebalancing in favor of motherhood,” exactly the area in which the bishops’ criticisms were, and are, the most biting.

Another element of conflict was the decision of the University of Notre Dame — the most famous Catholic university in the United States — to award Obama an honorary degree on May 17. About eighty of the bishops, one third of the United States episcopacy, contested the appropriateness of granting the honor to a political leader whose positions on bioethics were manifestly contrary to Church teaching.

The critics of the Obama presidency include figures of great stature in the American hierarchy: from Cardinal Francis George, president of the episcopal conference, to Denver archbishop Charles Chaput. As archbishop of Chicago, George shares a home town with Obama and is successor to Joseph Bernardin, the archbishop and cardinal who died in 1992 and whom the current president of the Unites States often recalls with great warmth and emotion, as teacher of a Christianity not of conflict, but of dialogue.

Before and after the honorary degree from Notre Dame, various American bishops expressed their disappointment at having seen their criticisms virtually ignored by the Vatican.

That isn’t all. They were even more irritated by the fact that the Vatican did not stop at overlooking the bishops’ criticisms, but even heaped enthusiastic praise on Obama as if he were a new Constantine, head of a modern empire generous toward the Church.

This impression was given by an article by a former theologian of the pontifical household, Swiss theologian and cardinal Georges Cottier, published in advance of Obama’s visit to Benedict XVI in a magazine connected to the diplomatic circles of the Vatican curia, “30 Days.”

The most critical American bishops were somewhat appeased by Benedict XVI, who, during the audience with the president of the United States on July 10, put the focus on “the defense and promotion of life and the right to abide by one’s conscience,” and gave him as a gift the documents of the Church on this subject.

But again in the past few weeks, the conflict between the bishops and Obama seems far from dying down. Another matter of dispute has surfaced in the proposal for health care reform, which the bishops fear would include public funding for abortion.

And the controversy sparked by the degree from Notre Dame remains a heated one within the same hierarchy. “America,” the “liberal” magazine of the New York Jesuits, has published two contrasting commentaries in its new August issue: the first, extremely critical of Obama and of the bishops who support him, by Bishop John M. D’Arcy of the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, where the university is located; the second by bishop emeritus of San Francisco John R. Quinn, a leading proponent of progressive Catholicism, supporter of a “policy of cordiality” with the Obama administration.

The heart of the controversy came to light again at the end of August, on the occasion of the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, a Catholic who — as he himself wrote in a letter to Benedict XVI made public in recent days — fought his entire life for help for the poor, the care of the sick, the welcoming of migrants, the abolition of the death penalty.

“Had this deeply talented man found the means to include the protection of the infant in the womb among the good causes he promoted, had he been able to witness boldly to a consistent ethic of life, I believe the Catholic community’s mourning and prayers would have been even fuller, more whole-hearted,” commented a priest and theologian of Boston, Robert Imbelli.

Fr. Imbelli is is also a commentator for “L’Osservatore Romano,” and has written similar things in it about Obama. If it were up to him, the critical American bishops would have had no reason to protest against the Vatican newspaper.

2. THE BERLUSCONI CASE

With Italian head of state Silvio Berlusconi, for the past few months there have been two main causes of friction with the Church.

The first is immigration. The Berlusconi government applies very strict rules in deciding admission and keeping out clandestine immigrants. And this provokes critical reactions from many Church organizations, for which “welcome” is the first precept, if not the only one.

The official stance of the episcopal conference, according to which welcome must instead be accompanied and balanced always by legality and security, is therefore accused — by the Catholic clergy and laity most involved in social assistance, and by some of the bishops themselves — of being excessively moderate, or worse, subservient to the Berlusconi government. The same thing happens in the newspaper owned by the bishops, “Avvenire.”

But if one compares “Avvenire” with “L’Osservatore Romano,” the latter appears by far more respectful of the government’s decisions on immigration. Giovanni Maria Vian, the history professor who directs the Vatican newspaper, in an interview with “Corriere della Sera” last August 31 said that some of the articles in “Avvenire” have been so “exaggerated and imprudent” in criticizing the government that they have caused concern at the Vatican. He denounced two of these in particular: an editorial comparing the shipwreck of African migrants in the Mediterranean with the extermination of Jews to the indifference of all; and another article contesting the statement of the Italian foreign minister that Italy is the European country that has helped the most immigrants at sea.

Even at the Vatican itself, there is no lack of voices of disagreement. On the contrary. Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the pontifical council for migrants, is extremely critical of the stance of the Italian government, and is the favorite of the opposition newspapers, in spite of the fact that the secretary of state has made it known more than once that he speaks in a personal capacity, and represents only himself.

Another loose cannon against the government’s immigration policy in the curia is Cardinal Renato Martino. But he was recently replaced as president of the pontifical council for migrants by Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò, who comes from the world of diplomacy and is prudence personified.

In short, “relations between the two shores of the Tiber are excellent,” Professor Vian said in the same interview, meaning by the two shores the Italian government and the Holy See.

In confirmation of this, the director of “L’Osservatore Romano” cited and defended his newspaper’s total silence on the second element of the current clash between Berlusconi and the Church.

***

This second element concerns prime minister’s private life, in particular the escapades that he summed up like this: “In Italy there are so many pretty girls, and I’m not a saint.”

The campaign of accusations against Berlusconi’s private life was ignited in mid-June by his second wife — from whom he is separating — and above all by “la Repubblica,” the leading newspaper of the Italian left, which, paradoxically, has always preached liberation from the bonds of Catholic morality.

Since then, this curiosity about Berlusconi’s sex life continually occupies the pages of many newspapers, not only in Italy, but also around the world. Not, however, those of “L’Osservatore Romano.” Not even one line. And “for excellent reasons,” Vian says, refusing to get the pope’s newspaper mixed up with a journalism “that seems to have become the continuation of the political struggle by other means.”

At first, it was also this way in “Avvenire,” the newspaper of the Italian bishops. Silence. Or at the most, a highly restrained wish that the prime minister eliminate “shadows” and “situations uncomfortable for all.”

But in the meantime, among the bishops, clergy, and laity, the impulse to raise a vigorous protest against Berlusconi on account of some of his behaviors contrary to Catholic morality was getting stronger and stronger. And it erupted most of all in “Avvenire.”

At the end of June, twice in a row, the newspaper published a pair of opinions side by side: in the first case, by two editorialists for the newspaper, Marina Corradi and Piero Chinellato; in the second case, by two outside commentators, Antonio Airò and Professor Pietro De Marco. The match ended at 3 to 1. Only Chinellato sided with the public denunciation “ad personam.” The others, with different arguments, maintained that one should hate the sin but not the sinner, and that a politician must be judged for what he does politically: for employment, the family, education, immigration, etc.; not for his private life, which belongs to the “internal forum.”

And what about the publisher of “Avvenire,” the episcopal conference? On July 6, the feast of Saint Maria Goretti, a young martyr who died in defense of her virginity, the secretary of the CEI, Mariano Crociata, lashed out against “the display of a gleeful and irresponsible libertinism,” which all of the media interpreted — without any denial — as alluding to Berlusconi.

This homily was like the breaking of a dam. What a variety of bishops, priests, and laity had already been doing on their own account — criticizing the prime minister’s sex life — also had to be done from that point on by the director of “Avvenire,” Dino Boffo, in responding to the increasing pressure from readers, some of them highly placed.

Boffo would say something, and immediately someone else would tell him that he had to say more. A perfect specimen of this relentless pressure was the letter from a priest in Milan, published on August 12 with the umpteenth response from Boffo.

This performance — unintentionally staged by “Avvenire” — of an episcopal conference devoid of an authoritative and energetic guide, in which control belongs to the one who shouts the loudest against the government despite the fact that it is so attentive to the Church’s interests in the life and family, has met with remedial efforts from Vatican secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone, who arranged a meeting with prime minister Berlusconi in Aquila on August 28, on the occasion of the feast of “Forgiveness” instituted by Pope Celestine V.

Ahead of the meeting, Cardinal Bertone gave an extensive interview to “L’Osservatore Romano,” in which he was very reassuring in discussing relations between the Church and the Italian government.

On the same day, in “la Repubblica,” the editorialist-theologian Vito Mancuso accused the secretary of state of wanting to dine at the table of Herod, instead of denouncing his misconduct. But “L’Osservatore Romano” immediately responded that the Church does not accept “partisan involvement in contingent political matters,” because its concern is for “the individual care of consciences,” and not the public condemnation of the sinner.

At the last moment, the meeting between Berlusconi and Cardinal Bertone was scrapped by an unexpected attack against the director of “Avvenire,” Boffo, by “il Giornale,” the newspaper owned by Berlusconi’s brother.

This was the full-page headline in the August 28 issue of “il Giornale,” directed by Vittorio Feltri: “Sexual incident of ‘Avvenire’ director. The supermoralist charged with harassment. Dino Boffo, at the helm of the newspaper of the Italian bishops and involved in the fiery press campaign against the transgressions of the prime minister, intimidated the wife of the man with whom he had a relationship.”

In the following days, the attack was revealed to be of dubious foundation. Boffo declared his innocence. The current president of the CEI, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, defended him completely. And so did his predecessor, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who had asked for Boffo as director of “Avvenire” and had confirmed his trust in him even after, in 2002, accusations against him began to circulate. The accusations have been made on anonymous fliers, distributed any time there was a desire to attack, through Boffo, the presidency of the CEI, for example during the dispute over the appointment of the rector of the Catholic University of Milan, when Ruini’s man, Lorenzo Ornaghi, faced stiff opposition from then-secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano, former president of the Italian Republic Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, former prime minister Emilio Colombo, and the director of the university at the time, Carlo Balestrero, all members of the Istituto Giuseppe Toniolo that oversees the university and of which Boffo is also a member.

Recently, these anonymous fliers have come back into circulation, for the added purpose of changing the direction of the newspapers and television and radio stations of the Italian Church, all of which are currently concentrated in Boffo’s hands. Making himself a spokesman of these demands, on August 31 the bishop of Mazara del Vallo, Domenico Mogavero, former undersecretary of the CEI and now president of the legal affairs council, said that “for the good of the Church and of his newspaper,” Boffo “might consider whether it is not fitting for him to resign.”

The attack against Boffo in “il Giornale” — against the interest of its own publisher, Berlusconi, in a peaceful relationship with the Church — brought only a brief quote from Cardinal Bagnasco in “L’Osservatore Romano.”

As for the confusion being seen in the Italian Church, Cardinal Bertone will now be tempted to take back in hand the letter that he wrote on March 25 of 2007 to Cardinal Bagnasco, on the occasion of his appointment to as president of the CEI, in which he asserted “the respectful guidance of the Holy See, as well as my own [. . .] concerning relations with political institutions.”

Written when the extraordinary leadership of Cardinal Ruini was still at its peak, that letter was interpreted by the CEI as a slap in the face. And it was marked return to sender.

Now it has become strangely relevant again.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UK: My Mother Hired a Hitman to Kill Me: The Shocking Story of a Muslim Woman Whose Parents Disapproved of Her Western Lifestyle

By Sofia Hayat

The text message forwarded to me from my younger sister Saira was concise and chilling: ‘Mum’s sent a hit man to kill you,’ it read. ‘Be careful.’

As I read those words, my first instinct wasn’t fear or even shock, but simply survival.

I’d become accustomed to behaviour like this from both my parents — behaviour that anyone else would find abhorrent — and I was emotionally numb to their threats.

But I also knew that my sister’s warning was deadly serious and my life was in real danger. I’d been in hiding for several weeks when I received the text.

I was born in Gravesend in Kent in 1974 and brought up there in a devout Muslim family with three sisters and two brothers.

My father Zammurrad, a factory worker, was a deeply religious man but violent towards my mother Surriya and my sisters Zarqa, now 38, Saira, 33, and Tahira, 32.

I tried to be an obedient daughter, praying up to five times a day, but I never felt loved by my parents — or that I really belonged.

In turn, my parents viewed me as something of an oddity. Perhaps it was because I loved performing.

From as young as five, acting and singing was in my blood and at school I won so many competitions for writing songs that if the teachers wanted a song for an assembly they’d ask me to write one and I’d get up on stage and sing it.

My love of singing and dancing wasn’t exactly encouraged at home, but it wasn’t a big problem when I was young. But as I hit my teens, my parents told me I could no longer continue.

I was to forget my childish fantasies of becoming an actress, as in their eyes singing and dancing were on a par with prostitution.

As I grew older, my father started placing increasingly severe restrictions on my life. I was forbidden from making friends with other children and lived a very lonely existence.

On the one occasion I was given special permission to attend a birthday party of a girl who lived 100 metres down the road, I was allowed to stay for only an hour. My life was just school and home, with no free time for myself.

I was to forget my childish fantasies of becoming an actress, as in their eyes it was on a par with prostitution Throughout my childhood, my father grew more aggressive towards my mother and sisters, regularly throwing plates and knives at us in anger.

My brothers Majid, now 31, and Wajid, 29, were allowed to do as they pleased, but my sisters and I were told that Muslim girls were like a white sheet; once stained, forever ruined.

If ever I returned home even five minutes late from the park or school, my father would hit me with his belt, often until I bled. It got so bad that my sisters and I used to wear five layers of clothing to protect ourselves.

On one family outing to Margate when I was about nine, I was ten minutes late back to our meeting point, as I’d stayed to watch a Punch and Judy show.

My father broke a branch from a tree, stripped off all the leaves and started whipping me with it in broad daylight.

Incredibly, the rest of my family stood there and did nothing. As an adult I can see how wrong this was, but at the time I just accepted it. We all did.

I had grown up under Dad’s tyrannical rule and I knew no different. Even when I’d been sexually abused by a male relative as a young teenager, instead of supporting me my parents blamed me for accepting presents from him and accused me of lying.

It was from that day on I realised that I had to look after myself. When I was 13, I was flown to Pakistan to meet my 14-year-old cousin, who I was told I would marry when I turned 18.

Why are we women so cruel to each other when it comes to mothering?

As soon as he saw me, he said I was too ugly to marry and rejected me in favour of my 12-year-old sister Saira. They married six years later.

While in Pakistan, my mother took me to see a Holy Man to ask him what was wrong with me.

He told her I had a bad spirit in me and gave me a prayer to say every day and a bracelet to wear.

I was so angry that my own mother seemed to be listening to a man she’d only just met, but had never had the time for me.

I knew then that my only way to escape a future of misery was through education.

If ever I returned home late from the park or school, my father would hit me with his belt, often until I bled Despite the control they had over me, my mother and father thought that a degree in science, medicine or law was the perfect goal for one of their unmarried daughters and so, at the age of 18, I started a Biology and Management degree at Sussex University and moved into student accommodation in a square near the old pier in Brighton.

I hated the course and secretly switched to a performing arts and music degree at Brighton University, which I loved.

But as my parents were unable to finance me, I supported myself with three different jobs — including three nights a week earning £50 a night as a dancer in a nightclub.

Finally, I was enjoying my life and my freedom. But one evening a TV camera crew came to the club and captured me wearing just a cowboy hat, a short skirt and a Wonderbra.

Of course, I knew I was being filmed and I knew there was a slim chance my parents might see it. But I was living away from home, enjoying the independence and, naively, I also thought that if they did see me performing, it might make them realise how passionate I was about acting.

Needless to say, a friend of my parents saw the programme. A couple of nights later, as I returned to my flat at about 3am someone pulled the door open as I shut it.

‘You’re coming home with me now. I’m taking you away from this lifestyle,’ said a voice.

It was my mother. I told her I wasn’t going anywhere and she started screaming at me.

That’s when my 15-year-old brother Majid, who’d illegally driven my mother all the way from Kent, appeared from behind her brandishing a kitchen knife.

Majid was heavily built, so I genuinely feared that he was capable of using the knife.

My mother had once said ‘If anyone dishonours this family, first I will kill them and then kill myself’, so I knew that she too was serious.

I got into the car and we arrived back in Kent in the early hours of the morning. I was marched into the cellar, which had been turned into a makeshift bedroom, and my brother stood in the doorway holding the knife.

My mother calmly said: ‘From now on, we’re going to look after you and you’re going to do what we say.’

There was nothing I could do. I sat there in silence, thinking my new life was now over.

To my relief, my father was abroad at the time. I’m still not sure how instrumental he was in my abduction, but if he had been there in person I’m sure things would have turned even nastier.

For several weeks I lived in that cellar. My meals were brought to me and I was accompanied to the toilet.

My mother had once said ‘If anyone dishonours this family, first I will kill them and then kill myself’Although I wasn’t physically locked in the room, there was no way I could escape without being noticed, because the only exit was through the adjacent living room, which was always occupied.

I was allowed no communication with the outside world, so I had no idea whether anyone from college had tried to contact me.

Initially, I was so traumatised that I didn’t even think about escaping. But as the days turned into weeks, I pleaded with my mother to let me return to my old job at the local supermarket, where I’d worked part-time before I went to college.

Eventually, she agreed, provided I was escorted to and from work. It was a relief to be finally able to escape and only a fortnight after I returned I confided in a colleague, Graham, about what was happening at home.

Horrified, he offered to help me escape. It was a dangerous plan, but I could see no other way out.

My family had me under close surveillance, but at about noon one October lunchtime I sneaked out of the shop and jumped into the back of Graham’s car and lay flat on the floor, out of sight.

All I had with me were the clothes I was wearing and nothing else. But I didn’t care — I was getting away. Graham took me to Brighton, but when I arrived at my old flat, my flatmate greeted me at the door.

‘You’ve got to go,’ he said. ‘Your mother saw you sneaking into a car outside your work and has just called me to check if you were here. She’s on her way here now to check the house.’

I was terrified. Graham immediately drove me to another friend’s house 30 minutes away, where I laid low, too scared even to leave the house. That’s how I remained for the next month.

Every time I heard a car pass or a door open, I thought I was about to be recaptured.

People might wonder why I didn’t contact the police at this stage. The truth was, I was too embarrassed and confused to tell them that my own family were trying to kidnap me.

I just wanted to hibernate. Then my sister forwarded my mother’s fateful text message and I felt more alone than ever.

I managed to summon up the energy to report the text to Hove police, who were amazing.

They went straight to my mum’s house and warned her that if she came anywhere near me she would be immediately arrested and sent to prison.

They didn’t pursue the hitman claim, but told me that if any more threats were made, I should contact them straight away. That seemed to work.

The police gave me an emergency number to contact should I receive any more threats and for two months I heard nothing.

Then my old flatmate called, saying that my mum had phoned, desperate to speak to me as my father had suffered a heart attack. Despite everything that had happened, I called my mum to ask about my father.

She assured me she wouldn’t try to kidnap me again, but needed to talk. We arranged to meet in a public place in Brighton, with the police watching.

As I walked to meet her, I wasn’t hoping for a reconciliation. How could I repair a mother-daughter relationship that never existed in the first place?

The first thing my mother said was that she wasn’t going to harm me or take me away, but it quickly transpired that my dad hadn’t had a heart attack at all.

Instead, my mother wanted to make one final appeal to me to give up my performing and my lifestyle and return home to get married and live a respectable Muslim life.

I flatly refused. ‘Fine,’ she said, coldly. ‘From now on you’re dead in our eyes and I don’t want to see you again.’ She walked away.

I don’t blame my parents for what they’ve put me through, I blame the fact that Islam has become so distortedAs we parted, I wept. I’d never felt like I’d belonged in my family, but at that point I did feel truly, truly alone in the world.

But a part of me dared to hope that she’d meant what she’d said, so that I could finally get on with my life unimpeded.

And that’s exactly what happened for the next ten years. I completed my degree and since then I’ve gone on to appear in many TV programmes, such as Waterloo Road and Footballers’ Wives, as a supporting actor.

I recorded a song which reached No6 in the MTV charts and sang at the Royal Albert Hall. I’m even appearing in a movie called The Unforgettable later this year. I’m really living the life I dreamed of all those years ago.

I’ve broken off all contact with my father, but I did start seeing my sister Saira again about four years ago, when her arranged marriage collapsed and she remarried and had children.

I see her family regularly and through her children I eventually came back into contact with my mother two years ago.

I was petrified that she’d reject me again, but she is now separated from my father and seems quieter and more at peace.

We see each other every couple of months, but there’s little mention of what happened before and I know deep down she will never be proud of what I am and who I’ve become.

It’s taken a lot of therapy to come to a position of understanding and self awareness but, despite everything that has happened, I don’t blame my parents for what they’ve put me through.

I blame the fact that Islam has become so distorted and warped. I don’t believe that the Muslim religion condones any sort of violence; Islam literally means ‘peace’.

The greeting from one Muslim to another — ‘aasalamolaykom’ — means: ‘Peace be with you.’ If only people would actually read the Koran for themselves, they would see the love and peace it radiates and the equality among men and women it promotes.

If only my parents had been able to give me that kind of love.

           — Hat tip: A Greek Friend[Return to headlines]


UK: Muslim Arrested for ‘Making Up BNP Kidnap Story’

A Muslim community leader who claimed he had been kidnapped at knifepoint after a BNP hate campaign has been arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

Noor Ramjanally, 36, of Valley Hill, alleged in August that he was abducted by two men, bundled into a car boot, driven to Epping Forest in Essex and told to stop his religious work.

The BNP had been accused of whipping up racial tensions in the area after it issued an inflammatory leaflet about Mr Ramjanally’s Islamic community group, the first in Loughton.

His alleged ordeal became a cause célèbre among the Muslim community after it was reported in national press.

But today, Mr Ramjanally was himself arrested amid suggestions that he made the whole incident up.

He had also alleged that his Loughton home was firebombed in July and that he had received hate mail threatening his family.

Recalling the alleged abduction, he said: “I have got the whole UK Muslim community behind me now. I am not just on my own.”

After the alleged arson attack, high-profile community figures, including Loughton Mayor Ken Angold-Stephens, religious leaders, teachers and members of the police attended the hall where he holds prayer sessions in a show of support.

Mr Ramjanally, who was involved in organising Friday jumu’ah prayer sessions in the town’s Murray Hall community centre, had claimed he feared he was about to be murdered when the car stopped and one of the kidnappers said Let’s do it here.”

The pair were then said to have marched him deep into the forest before warning him: “We don’t want the Islamic group in Loughton’.

The father-of-one said he thought the attack had been inspired by the BNP. He said: “I thought that my life was over.

“They just said Get out’ and walked with me for two or three minutes into the forest.

“[When] we were deep into the forest. They said: We don’t want the Islamic group in Loughton. I feared for my life. They said, If you don’t stop, we’ll come back’. Then they disappeared.” He said he then used a passer-by’s mobile to dial 999.

An Essex police spokesman said: “Police were contacted on 24 August by a man who stated that he had been abducted from his home in the Valley Hill area of Loughton. [Today] police arrested a 36 year-old man from the town on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.”

[Return to headlines]


UK: Noor Ramjanally Has Been Arrested for Perverting the Course of Justice

THE Muslim community leader who claimed he had been kidnapped by two men and dumped in Epping Forest has been arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, the Guardian understands.

Noor Ramjanally, of Valley Hill, Loughton, had alleged last week that two men abducted him from his flat and forced him into a 4x4 at knifepoint.

He said they drove him to Epping Forest in the boot of the vehicle before taking him out and telling him to stop the Muslim prayer services he had begun at Murray Hall in March.

Today (September 3), Mr Ramjanally has been arrested and is being questioned at Harlow police station.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “A man has been arrested in connection with an ongoing police investigation into an alleged abduction in West Essex.

“Police were contacted on Monday August 24 by a man who stated that he had been abducted from his home in the Valley Hill area of Loughton.

“On Thursday September 3, police arrested a 36 year-old man from the town on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.”

[Return to headlines]


Workers in Dublin First to Face New €200 ($294) Parking Levy

WORKERS who get a free parking space will be hit with a new €200 ($294) annual levy in the new year.

Problems surrounding the plan, first announced in the Budget last October, are being ironed out as the Government seeks to drum up an extra €10m in revenue.

The levy will be introduced in Dublin first, and then phased-in for the urban areas of Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. Some 50,000 parking spaces will come under the new levy.

Workers — including teachers, Gardai (police), judges, civil servants and private sector employees — with an entitlement to a parking space will have to pay the full €200.

Employers who fail to deduct the levy from workers’ salary payments will be fined €3,000 ($4410).

Burden

Employers will have responsibility for working out these rates, based on who uses the spaces and when.

But the levy has been criticized because it taxes everyone the same amount regardless of whether they are on a lower, middle or upper income level.

For a worker on the minimum wage, the levy represents around a week’s wages and it is argued that this will place an undue burden on them.

There will be exemptions for motorists with disabilities and employees of the emergency services.

The levy will be taken out of net salary after income tax, PRSI, the health levy and the income levy have been deducted.

The idea has been dogged by complications since it was first announced last October, but Finance Minister Brian Lenihan will be in a position to name the start date in the coming weeks.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance said: “Planning for the introduction of a car parking levy for urban areas, which is intended to reduce congestion, is at an advanced stage and details of its introduction will be announced shortly.”

He added the plan was to avoid imposing the levy “on a disproportionate basis on those who avail of car parking facilities in areas without excessive congestion problems”.

Legislation to be published by Mr Lenihan will legally oblige employers to deduct the levy from employees and remit the Office of the Collector-General at the same time and manner as the PAYE system.

But Labour’s Ciaran Lynch has described the levy as “grossly unfair”.

“I would have genuine concerns that this scheme will end up being far too complicated and that given its complexity, it could cost more to administer than it will actually recoup,” he said.

The Government cannot argue the purpose of the levy is to reduce traffic congestion when it is currently reducing the number of buses operating in Dublin, Mr Lynch added.

[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Albania: USAID Begins Training Court Personnel

(ANSAmed) — TIRANA, SEPTEMBER 2 — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has started training future judges and personnel for the Albanian administrative court system. While awaiting the approval of a law to form the administrative court, reports the Italian Trade Institute (ICE) office in Tirana, the agency has started the training operations that are part of the agreement ‘Challenge of the Millennium’ between the government of Albania and the United States. Based on the deal, the project calls for 10 training courses for administrative law and the organisation of work in the administrative court system. The administrative court is considered by businesses as an independent body to which they can appeal. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Auto: Renault Transfers Production Line to Morocco

(ANSAmed) — DOUAI (FRANCE), SEPTEMBER 2 — One of the three production lines at the Renault factory in Douai, in the north of France, will be dismantled by the end of 2009 in order to be transferred to another of Renault’s plants, probably in Morocco. The news was announced by the south union of Renault Douai. “Line 18, which produces car bonnets and doors, will be put to rest and should be dismantled by the end of the year, to then be transferred to a new Renault factory in Tangiers,” said union leader, Lionel Lereche. This is news that has caused concern amongst workers at the site. “Two out of four lines have already been stopped in the last two years. Now with Line 18, 30% of the production potential is leaving,” explained Lereche. The directors of the site have confirmed the upcoming dismantling of Line 18 judged to be “obsolete”, but not its transfer to Morocco. “This operation will have no consequences, not on the production capacity, nor on jobs,” stated a spokesman, pointing out that Renault has just invested 250 million euros in the Douai plant for production of the Renault Scenic. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Energy: ENI Starts Offshore Gas Field Production in Egypt

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Eni has started production activities in the North Bardawil gas field in Egypt, in the concession by the same name in the Mediterranean offshore area of the country. So announces a company statement which said that the maximum production from the field will stand at 2.7 million cubic metres per day, equivalent to about 17,000 barrels of oil equivalent, of which about 6,000 would be Eni’s share. The project consists in two offshore wells, 24 kilometres of underwater oil pipelines installed at a water depth of between 110 and 350 metres and the connection to the Barboni production platform, already up and running. The partners in the project are IEOC, the company through which Eni works in Egypt, with a 60%, and the Kuwaiti company Kufpec Egypt with 40%. The operator of the field is the company Petrobel, a joint venture between IEOC and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Libya: 40 Years of Gaddafi, Death Sentences Commuted

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, SEPTEMBER 2 — On the day of the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of Muammar Gaddafi’s access to power, a pardon has been issued to 1,273 prisoners and the death sentences faced by all those due to be executed today has been commuted to life imprisonment. All Libya’s newspapers, and those across the Arab world, from Jana to Al Manara, today carry news of the sentence by the Council of the Supreme Court of Justice, Libya’s judicial executive. 823 Libyans have been pardoned: 21 of them women, 126 Chadians, 89 Nigerians, 57 Egyptians and of other Arab and African nationalities. A pardon on the part of the country’s leader had already been announced locally at the beginning of July, but the sentence enacting it only came yesterday. Over the years, Gaddafi has always made such gestures on the occasion of the September first celebrations, but this is the largest such gesture to date. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Med: Fruit: Vegetables Sector Grows But Fears Competitiveness

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 26 — The Mediterranean market of fresh produce is a resource for the region but also on a global level given the uniqueness of some of its fruit and vegetables products and the nutritional needs of an ever-growing world population, says a study by the GreenMed Forum. Published in time for the second international meeting of the GreenMed forum which took place in Egypt in May, the report shows how the world’s fruit production has increased by 31% since 1997, going from 1,545 metric tonnes of produce to 2,025 million tonnes. This comes as part of the response for growing demand for fresh produce going back as far as 1950. And according to GreenMed’s figures, the market of the Mediterranean countries is responding well to meet this demand. Top of the list is Egypt, whose fresh produce sector has undergone explosive growth of 46%: from 17,157 tonnes produced in 1997 to the 25,080 produced in 2007. They are followed by Turkey, where production has grown from 33,354 to 41,279 tonnes since 1997. Spain’s sector has also shown marked growth of 10%, from 28,491 to 31,393 tonnes of produce since 1997. However, Italy is lagging behind, with very modest growth statistics of a mere 0.1% over the period. The most popular products — not only for the internal Mediterranean market, but also in terms of exports to the rest of the world, are tomatoes, whose production has seen an increase of 33%, followed by melons, up 22%, and apples, which have increased production by 10.4%. The value of exports to other world markets has grown by a healthy 40% since 1998. Nonetheless, according to GreenMed, over the coming years, fresh production in the Mediterranean will have to face ever tougher competition from goods arriving from other parts of the world, above all from those giants China and India. Indeed, since 1997, the volumes exported by these countries have been growing at an impressive rate of 110%. This competitive challenge can only be met, say GreenMed analysts, by increasing the Mediterranean’s market-garden productivity: keys to achieving this goal are upgrading logistics, developing wholesaling and tightening the regulation of quality standards. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Tunisia: Textile-Clothing Sector Recovering

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, AUGUST 13 — The textile-clothing sector in Tunisia recorded an increase of 5.1% in exports in July, compared to the same month last year. This is the first positive result in 11 months. Imports were also on the up (+4.3% compared to July 2008). Observations on this month’s performance reveal that the sector is holding well. The data was released by CETTEX, the technical textile centre. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Tunisia to Hold WHO International Anti-Smoking Confererence

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, AUGUST 24 — The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated Tunisia as the country to host the international anti-smoking conference in November. Tunisia, which has proclaimed 2009 as the “National Anti-Tobacco Year”, “has adopted a strategy that aims to reduce the number of smokers over the next five years beginning in 2009”, as the press agency TAP noted. The goal is to reduce the number of smokers by 2% every year (currently at 35% of the population, including many young people and women). (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Jerusalem: Arab Cab Driver Attacked by Orthodox Jews

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, SEPTEMBER 2 — Israeli police are looking for a group of ultra-orthodox Jews who, yesterday in the religious neighbourhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, attacked a Palestinian cab driver, beating him severely and taking his days earnings, reports Israeli military radio. In the meanwhile, in Jerusalem, police have elevated the state of alert due to the repeated acts of violence by zealots. An individual who witnessed the attack reported to the radio station that the cab driver by chance was caught in the middle of a demonstration of Orthodox Jews in Sabbath Square in the centre of the neighbourhood. After finding out that the man was an Arab, the demonstrators attacked the man and his automobile. “It was a vicious attack, I feared for his life,” added a second witness who said that the police were nearby, but did not act quickly. A police spokesperson confirmed the episode and added that the cab driver preferred not to file a report against his attackers. Repeated acts of serious violence in orthodox neighbourhoods in Jerusalem are creating growing worries among Israeli politicians and religious officials. Statements against the acts have come in the past hours from Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and former Chief Rabbi Meir Israel Lau. Both appealed to orthodox rabbis to convince extremists in their communities to stop the violence. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Stakelbeck Sits Down With Former Palestinian Terrorist

Tass Saada was once a sniper for the Palestinian group Fatah. His job? Picking off and killing Israelis.

Tass also participated in bloody, hand-to-hand battles against Israeli troops. But his most prestigious job was working as a personal driver for his hero, Yasser Arafat.

Born Muslim, Tass’s goal in life was to drive Israel into the sea.

That was then. Now, Tass is a committed friend of Israel and a devout Christian.

You can watch my story about Tass’s amazing transformation by clicking the link above.

[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Environment: Turkish Experts to Prepare Syria’s Forest Plan

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, AUGUST 17 — Experts of Turkish Directorate General of Forestry will prepare Syria’s ‘Forest Management Plan’, Anatolia agency reports. Turkish Director General for Forestry, Osman Kahveci, and his Syrian counterpart, Ziad Jibawi, held a news conference in the Aegean province of Izmir on the ‘Management Plan’ of the Syrian forests that would be prepared within the scope of “ecosystem-based comprehensive planning” principles. Kahveci said areas of cooperation between Turkey and Syria boosted gradually and noted that a project on planning of Syrian forests would take effect with the support of United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). According to Kahveci, experts would also prepare an application plan to implement Turkey’s ‘Fire Management System’ in Syria. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Fatwa ‘Takeaway’: Responses Via Internet and Mobiles

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 1 — Religious councils and fatwa via internet, text messages or through ‘question and response’ TV programmes: certainly fast, but are they accurate? The debate was covered by the Saudi English language newspaper, Arab News. On one hand there are those that believe that the religious men have too little time to think in order to give appropriate responses. On the other hand there are those who maintain that there is no need to worry because the questions are repetitive enough and already widely discussed: the risk for errors therefore is very low. The biggest critic seems to be the Saudi writer Abullah Manna who coined the term ‘fatwa takeaway’ and maintains that this new way of spreading Islam’s precepts is only a question of business: religious authorities take advantage of these technologies to compete in popularity and the broadcasters don’t only earn in terms of advertising but also on the calls placed by the faithful. “Emitting a fatwa requires patience and study in minute details. The religious man is obligated to evaluate differing opinions and to consult other Koranic schools before giving a response”, Manna commented. Sheikh Abdul Moshin Al-Obaikan responded that there are no risks: “if a fatwa arrives from a scholar and is clear, then there are no problems”. According to the religious man, most of the questions that come in regard what is and isn’t permitted, therefore the responses can also be communicated through text messages or other means of communication. But this year, Arab News informs, some of the inquiries have been unique in nature: other then questions on participation in the little pilgrimage (Omra), the faithful also ask if Mecca and Medina, in that they are Holy places, are immune from swine flu. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Jordan: 10,000 Under Age Girls Married in One Year

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, SEPTEMBER 2 — Around 10,000 minor girls, under the age of 18 married during the past one year in Jordan conservative society, official sources said today. Records at Jordan civil court also showed that around 500 of these marriages ended in divorce. In this tribal dominated society, arranged marriage is common, with such marriages happening in poverty stricken communities, where a burden of an extra mouth to feed is high. Ripples of the global credit crunch countinue to be felt in this debt ridden nation, with poverty and unemployment estimated by independent institutions at 25 per cent. The Jordanian law bans the marriage of women under the age of 18, but gives the religious cleric the right to allow “exceptional” cases. Lobbyists have been pushing for an amendment to civil marriage law to trim the number of such marriages. Activists in Jordan took a leapfrog in their drive to improve rights of women, when the parliament emdorsed an international agreement that improves women’s right in these society. But the Islamist lead conservative opposition condemned such agreements as unfit for this society.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Jordan: 10:000 Under Age Girls Married in One Year (2)

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 2 — In the spring, Parliament withdrew its reservations about paragraph 4 of article 15 of the UN Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW), a paragraph about the free circulation of people and freedom of choice of residency or domicile. A regulation approved by a royal decree on May 5 that fundamentalist movements and the opposition asked the government to withdraw since, in their opinion, it would degrade family values and would lead to a series of social problems. The CEDAW was adhered to by Jordan in 1980 and was ratified in 1992 with reservations about certain articles, including article 15. There still reservation about the equal rights of women regarding citizenship for children (paragraph 2 and article 9), equal rights and responsibilities in marriage and divorce, in addition to issues regarding children unrelated to marriage, the custody of assets, and the adoption of minors, as well as equal rights to choose one’s surname, profession, or occupation (points c, d, and g of paragraph 1, article 16). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Lebanon: Press Says Tehran Offering Arms to Lebanese Army

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, SEPTEMBER 2 — According to the Shia anti-Israeli movement Hezbollah, Iran has, “for the first time” offered to supply weapons to the Lebanese army, as reported today in the Al Akhbar daily of Beirut. The commander-in-chief of the army, said the same source, received a letter from the Iranian embassy in Lebanon in which Tehran inquired into the need of the Lebanese armed forces in terms of armaments. The army thereafter sent a “detailed response” concerning in needs, especially as concerns anti-air defence systems, wrote Al Akhbar, without specifying when the offer and response took place. In June, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah — whose group has a much better supplied arsenal than does the Lebanese army, and which Israel did not manage to defeat in a 34-day war in 2006 — publically pledged to convince Tehran to supply modern weaponry to the Lebanese armed forces.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Neutrality on Iraq-Syria: Obama Administration Betrays Ally and Doesn’t Even Defend Its Own Soldiers

By Barry Rubin

On August 26, State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly, was asked what the United States thought about the Iraq-Syria dispute. His answer shockingly recalls the last time a U.S. government made the mistake of being neutral between an enemy radical dictatorship and a friendly moderate government.

First, some background. Iraqi leader Nuri al-Maliki visited Syria on August 18 to discuss the two countries’ relationship. He offered Syrian dictator-President Bashar al-Assad a lot of economic goodies in exchange for expelling 271 Iraqi exiles involved in organizing terrorism against their country. Assad refused. Maliki left.

The next day, huge bombings struck Baghdad, directly targeting the government’s foreign and finance ministries. More than 100 Iraqis were killed and over 600 were wounded. The Iraqi government blamed the very same exiles living in Syria who Maliki was trying to get kicked out and implicated the Syrian government directly in the attacks. The two countries recalled their ambassadors; the Iraqis are calling for an international tribunal to investigate.

Enter the United States. Since the Iraqi government was created by elections made possible by the U.S. invasion, since the same terrorists murdering Iraqis have killed American soldiers, and since Iraq is a U.S. ally while Syria is a terrorist sponsor allied with Iran, what U.S. reaction would you expect?

Why, support for Iraq, of course. For decades under several U.S. presidents, Syria has been unsuccessfully pressed to kick out terrorists targeting Israel, and later Lebanon. This is an old issue and a very clear one for about a half-dozen reasons.

And what did the Obama administration do instead? Declare its neutrality!

Here’s what Kelly said, reading from his State Department instructions…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]


Report: Russia Has MiG Contract With Syria

A Russian newspaper is reporting that Russia has a contract to provide Syria with powerful MiG fighter jets but has not begun delivering the planes.

Kommersant cited the head of Russia’s state-run United Aircraft Corporation, Alexei Fyodorov, as saying a 2007 contract to sell MiG-31E interceptor fighters to Syria has not entered into force.

The paper said Russian arms sales officials have denied such a contract exists.

The speedy MiG-31E can fire simultaneously at several targets up to 180 kilometers away. Deliveries to Syria might compromise Israel safety.

Kommersant cited Fyodorov as saying a contract to provide Syria with Mig-29M fighters is being implemented.

State arms sales company Rosoboronexport declined to comment on the report.

           — Hat tip: A Greek Friend[Return to headlines]


Roger Scruton: Dealing With Iran

IT IS NEARLY 30 YEARS SINCE Islamist students and Revolutionary Guards, with the support of the Iranian government, invaded the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 52 American citizens into captivity—a captivity that would last 444 days, and which included the usual humiliations of blindfolded parades before the media and scripted confessions. President Carter chose not to regard this outrage as a declaration of war, though de facto, and probably de jure, that is what it was. His subsequent attempt to rescue the “hostages” was a disastrous failure and, instead of learning from the experience, the president left office with the determination to brand himself as the exponent of soft power in a world of violence. His failure to retaliate at the moment when retaliation was called for is the root cause, in my view, of Khomeini’s triumph, and of the growth in the belligerence and military capacity of Iran, which will shortly be a nuclear power able to threaten all of us. It also enabled the Iranians to believe that “hostage-taking” is a cheap and effective way of humiliating adversaries and achieving short-term political objectives. Two years ago Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized 15 British navy personnel from a patrol boat in the Gulf and enjoyed the opportunity to show the powerlessness of the Royal Navy in the new world of “war by media.” The 15 were released, after the usual humiliations, and Iranian power, belligerence, and self-confidence was ratcheted up another notch.

In the dispute over the recent elections it has been possible to glimpse the real source of policy in Iran-the paranoid old geezers in beards who emerge from behind the president to declare that Britain and America are the “evil enemies” of their country. At their behest innocent people are taken prisoner from the British embassy—Iranians, this time, but accused of collaboration with a hostile foreign power. And again we rush around in a flurry of doubt, consulting our feeble partners in the EU, wondering whether to break off diplomatic relations, while the BBC goes out of its way to remind us that Britain and America have a long and disgraceful record of interference in Iranian affairs, and that after all the paranoia might be justified.

Actually, paranoia is always justified. The paranoid is the person who creates the enmity that he begins by suspecting. When reasonable people witness the Iranian Revolutionary Guard parading their blindfolded hostages, or the bearded loons delivering their humorless indictments of the Great Satan, they respond with indignation. Who are these people, they ask, who assume the right to threaten and intimidate whomsoever they choose? Nothing makes me regret the decline of the Royal Navy more vividly than witnessing Iranian belligerence, in all its primitive self-deception, put on public display. So yes, these guys are right to believe they have enemies, and they can count me among them.

But what about our governments? Do they respond as you and I respond to the sight of flag-burning, air-punching, slogan-shouting men who seem to have nothing behind their beards save teeth? The answer, I fear, is no. Their response may not be as feeble as President Carter’s was. But it still falls far short of anything that the Iranians need to take seriously. The Iranians have been permitted a run of cost-free bellicosity, during which we maintain embassies and trade relations that serve no purpose but to maintain the supply of innocent victims, should victims be needed. We constantly endeavor to enter into dialogue with senile buffoons who have mastered no style of speech save that of the monologue; we tolerate the presence of President Ahmadinejad in New York, where he is able to address Columbia University without fear of being blindfolded and paraded on television as he deserves; we negotiate with the Islamic Republic through the UN and the EU, but without making any threat that Iran needs to take on board. We even go so far as to neutralize the only country, Iraq, that has made war on Iran, so leaving the Islamic Republic over-armed and under-threatened. And in all this, it seems to me, we repeat a mistake that caused all the great catastrophes of the 20th century: the mistake of not taking paranoia seriously.

The paranoid personality is the one who cannot accept the Other. Although he recognizes that other people exist after their fashion, he responds to them as threats and mysteries that he must do his best to bring under his own control. Only when dominated by the self is the Other acceptable, since only then is he not truly other. The paranoid has no conception of equal dialogue or partnership, and it is impossible for him to look on himself from outside, and to judge what he finds. He receives all criticism as an assault, self-criticism included. He proceeds through life with uniform motion in a straight line until encountering some external force or immovable obstacle.

STATES CAN BE PARANOID in the same way…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Syria: Chinese Sinochem Buys British Emerald

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, AUGUST 31 — The Chinese company Sinochem is taking over the British Emerald Energy for USD 878 million. Emerald Energy holds 50% of rights on oil Block 26, in the north-east of Syria. Emerald is a partner of Gulfsands Petroleum in the exploitation of the Khurbet East and Youffefieh fields, which in the first half of 2009 increased their production by 165%. Sinopec recently also acquired the shares issued by Tanganyka Oil. The most active Chinese company in the oil industry is currently China national Petroleum, which has a share in Al-Furat Petroleum and which has signed an agreement with the Syrian government for the construction of a refinery near Deir-ez-Zor. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkey to Become Production Base of Total’s Bostik

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 2 — French oil giant Total is building a plant in western Turkey for its brand Bostik, an adhesives and sealants manufacturer, Anatolia news agency reports quoting a company’s statement. Turkey will become a production base in the region — covering Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa — for Bostik, a worldwide division of oil, gas and chemicals company Total, after the production facility in Corlu (near Istanbul) is built. Bostik produces and supplies customized adhesives, sealants and coatings for automotive and aircraft interiors, the marine and transportation markets, industrial and product manufacturing, packaging, disposable nonwovens/hygiene, residential and commercial construction markets, as well as a comprehensive line of flooring installation products serving the entire flooring industry. Company’s operations will shift to Turkey from France and Germany after the Corlu plant is completed in 2011, the statement said. Bostik entered Turkish market in 2005 after it acquired Turkish chemicals company Cuhadaroglu Kimya and its brand Cekomastik. Bostik later acquired another Turkish company Tekbau and the two companies merged and started to operate under Bostik. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Assault on Two Protestant Churches in Karnataka. Police Accused of Aiding and Abetting

The Global Council of Indian Christians attributes the attack to local leaders of Sangh Parivar, the Hindu movement accused of many acts of violence against Christians. For the past year the Indian state has been the scene of attacks especially against Protestant churches.

Bangalore (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Two Protestant churches attacked, Bibles and prayer books destroyed or sequestered, pastors and believers threatened. This happened in the district of Tumkur in the state of Karnataka in southern India. The crime is reported by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), which attributes the attack to members of the Sangh Parivar and accuse local police officers of aiding and abetting the violence.

Local sources say that in the late evening of 28 August, a group of Hindu radicals stormed the Gypsy Prayer Hall in Mavunakatte Palay. Led by three well-known activists (Rangantha, Ramalingayya Gowda and Ramesh) members of the Sangh Parivar were seen aboard a jeep along with three deputy superintendents of police, the chief inspector and deputy chief inspector of the district.

The group has accused Hanuma Naik, the 33-year old pastor the place of worship, of forced conversions and deception, to the detriment of the local inhabitants. After having been beaten along with a student present at the time on the site, police dragged Naik to the police station opening a case against him.

The GCIC reports that after the incursion in Mavunakatte Palay, some of the attackers directed their rage on the Baptist church in Krupashraya. There too the scene was repeated. In the absence of the pastor, the group threatened his wife with punitive actions and confiscated Bibles and prayer books.

The Sangh Parivar activists then stopped at the Protestant church of the International Cooperation Ministries (ICM) near Agrahar. They failed to cause any major harm given that the pastor barricaded himself into his house for fear of attacks.

Karnataka has long been the scene of assaults and violence against Christians. Already in coincidence with the pogrom in Orissa last summer, the Indian state had recorded attacks on local churches and communities.

Local sources say that the increase in violence has coincided with the coming power in state government of Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In 2009, Karnataka has recorded at least 10 attacks against Christians, the last dating back to August 11. Mainly Protestant churches are targeted in the attacks accused of carrying out forced conversions.

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

Far East

Delhi and Beijing Join Forces Against the The West Regarding Climatic Changes

India and China have many contentious issues: delimitation of borders, commercial competition, neuclearized Pakistan. But now they are standing together to face the industrialized nations on the problem of the control of emissions for climate change.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — From delimitation of borders, to the commercial competition in Africa; from the support to the guerillas in the north-eastern states of India to the support of Pakistan in military, nuclear and political fields, many are the contentious issues that keep separated India and China, but now they are getting together to face the pressure of the industrialized nations on the reduction of emissions.

Rajiv Gandhi, as prime minister, took a major step to ease tensions and dispel suspicions when he shrugged off conventional advice and traveled to Beijing in December 1988. With this single gesture he broke the ice that had frozen bilateral relations for 34 years. China acknowledged it as a major event.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit in January 2008 was equally important. It signaled India commitment to continuing the normalization process and highlighted the economic benefits of the relationship

For the borders issue they had 13 round of talks, but the impression in India is that China is gaining time to consolidate its military presence and build up. Just before the13 round, the Chinese ambassador in new Delhi, Zhang Yan, has lent his name to a highly favorable editorial in August by the People’s Daily, saying that Sino-Indian relations had advance in all round way and with a fast pace in recent years and that the two countries complemented each other.

But only two months before, in June, an article in the Global Times, ran an aggressive attack reprimanding India for unwise military move of marshaling forces along the Arunachal border.

On the positive side, Zhan’s article talked about how India an China were jointly influencing global affairs by taking similar approaches on issues concerning environmental protection, climate change, food an energy security at the Doha round of trade talks.

The two countries largely agree regarding the climatic changes. On a recent visit to China, , India’s environment and forest minister, Jairam Ramesh, met with Chinese authorities to discuss a strategy to shift the blame on large development countries for their own failure to control carbon emissions.

Western nations are calling for emission reductions in developing countries but have not made credible commitment to do so themselves. This, despite the fact that the West bears both historical and current responsibility for the bulk of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Nothing much has transpired on the promise made by developed countries to provide substantial financial aid as well as subsidized technology transfers to developing countries to help the to leapfrog to cleaner development processes while simultaneously addressing poverty.

The recently passed US Climate Bill, for example, seeks to impose a carbon tax on goods imported from developing countries like India.

India has only just begun honing its negotiating skills at international climate change conferences where the tendency for long has been for large and formidable delegations from the West to take over the proceedings. Both nations. India and China, can make a common bargaining front since they represent one third of the global population.

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


Ethnic Tension Flares Over Syringe Attacks in Chinese City of Urumqi

Thousands of angry protesters marched in China’s only Muslim-majority region today to demand government action over a series of hit-and-run syringe attacks blamed on the ethnic Uighur group.

The unrest is certain to unsettle the authorities, coming just weeks after angry Uighurs rampaged through the streets of the city of Urumqi in riots that left 197 dead in the worst violence in China in 50 years.

The Government will be desperate to calm tempers and restore order as the leaders in Beijing are preparing for the Communist Party’s biggest party in a decade to celebrate 60 years of party rule.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


‘My Soul Rode on a UFO to Venus… It Was Very Green’: Japan’s New Prime Minister’s Wife Embarrasses Husband With Bizarre Claim

The wife of Japan’s next prime minister claims to have had a close encounter on another world.

Miyuki Hatoyama believes she visited outer space 20 years ago — before she married premier-elect Yukio Hatoyama.

‘While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular- shaped UFO and went to Venus. It was a very beautiful place and it was really green,’ the 66-year-old former actress wrote in Strange Things I have Encountered, a book published last year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Afghan Detainees Allowed in Australia Without Visas

THE Rudd government last night moved to overturn John Howard’s controversial policy of processing all asylum-seekers offshore, allowing a group of detained Afghan youths to leave Christmas Island and arrive on mainland Australia without visas.

In an unprecedented move that coincided with the arrival of yet another boat of asylum-seekers at the Indian Ocean territory, the 10 boys boarded a chartered Qantas jet carrying 56 newly recognised Afghan refugees from the island to Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne, The Australian reported.

The move, confirmed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, was welcomed by the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre as a “substantial departure from the previous policy of condemning everyone including children to detention on Christmas Island”.

The flight departed Christmas Island, which was excised from Australia’s migration zone in 2003 by the Howard government, just hours before a further 52 asylum-seekers and three crew landed on the island after being intercepted by HMAS Ararat near Ashmore Reef on Saturday.

Sorry, I’ve done a little more research and found that I was wrong. They’re not economic refugees… The correct term is economic migrants. By the time they get past all tho…

There are now 665 people in immigration detention on Christmas Island; 571 of them are single men being kept at the Howard government’s $400 million immigration detention centre on the island’s northwest point; 62 are living in a converted construction workers’ compound; and 32 are in houses on the island in what is termed “community detention”.

The 10 boys allowed to leave the island yesterday arrived at the island on May 7 without their parents or guardians. They will now live at a department-owned hostel called Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, which is usually reserved for people who have just arrived from Christmas Island after being granted protection visas.

They are the first group of asylum-seekers permitted by the Federal Government to come to the mainland from Christmas Island for processing. The decision comes just two months after the department moved a depressed Kurdish man off the island and into community detention in Melbourne on compassionate grounds.

An Immigration Department spokesman said the decision to allow the boys to travel to the mainland with their paid carers would give them access to a range of classes and recreational activities.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]


Police Seek Assistance Following Attempted Armed Robbery — Lakemba

Police are seeking public assistance following an attempted armed robbery at a financial institution in Sydney’s south west this afternoon.

About 12pm, a man wearing a balaclava and carrying a firearm entered a financial institution on Haldon Street, Lakemba, and allegedly threatened staff before firing a number of shots and leaving in a car.

Initial investigations suggest no money was taken and no person was injured during the incident.

Police from Campsie Local Area Command attended a short time later and established a crime scene which was examined by officers from the Forensic Armed Robbery Unit.

Meanwhile, acting on information from members of the public, police attended Phillip Street at Roselands a short time later where a perimeter was established.

Police from Campsie Local Area Command, with the assistance of specialist officers, conducted investigations on Phillip Street, including a canvass of surrounding homes.

The occupants from number of homes have been spoken to by police, however no arrests have been made, while inquiries into the incident continue.

During the operations, Phillip and Morton Streets were closed for a number of hours as a precaution, however have since been re-opened.

A car was located in Phillip Street and has been seized by police for forensic examination.

Investigations into the incident continue and police urge anyone with information about the incident who has not already spoken to investigators to contact Campsie Police via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]


Police ‘Search for Gunman’ In Sydney

Streets in southwest Sydney remain in lockdown as police search for an gunman who earlier held up a bank.

The streets at Lakemba and Roselands were closed to traffic and pedestrians early on Thursday afternoon, with residents told to remain inside their homes.

“A police operation is under way involving officers from Campsie Local Area Command and specialist officers (and) as a result Phillip Street and Moreton Street are expected to be blocked for some time,” a NSW Police spokesman said.

“Motorists and people are asked to avoid the area where possible.”

Youngsters at a childcare centre within the locked down area were held at the facility until mid-afternoon, when police officers escorted them to waiting parents.

Police refuse to give details of the operation but media reports say the action follows an attempted armed robbery at a National Australia Bank branch in Lakemba.

The attempted robbery occurred during the morning when a man armed with a gun entered the bank, but later left empty-handed, the Seven Network reported.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]


Siege Brings Sydney Suburb to Standstill

A siege is underway in south western Sydney with police blocking off two streets from traffic in the suburb of Roselands.

The operation by conducted by specialist officers reportedly follows an armed bank robbery attempt in nearby Lakemba earlier this afternoon.

Officers from Campsie local area command surrounded Phillip Street and Morton Street at 1pm.

The Nine Network reports police involved in the operation are hunting a robber who held up an NAB bank at midday in Halden Street, Lakemba.

A police spokesman told ninemsn a balaclava-clad man armed with a firearm burst into the bank and threatened staff.

The man fired several shots but fled in a car without any money.

The same car was then reportedly spotted in Phillip Street, sparking the police siege.

No one was injured in the attempted robbery.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Abortion: Spain, Conscientious Objection is Civil Disobedience

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, AUGUST 12 — Conscientious objection is not allowed due to ethical or moral reasons for abortion doctors because it would be tantamount to “an act of civil disobedience” said Justice Minister Antonio Caamano today in an interview with Europa Press. The minister said that a registry of doctors and medical professionals who object to a new law under the examination of Parliament will not be created. “In our country there is no conscientious objection other than the specific cases stated explicitly in the Constitution or by lawmakers in the General courts,” confirmed the minister. “Personal ideas cannot free a person from abiding by the law,” he added, “otherwise, this would lead to civil disobedience.” While acknowledging that “there are situations in which there must be conscientious objection,” the head of the Justice Ministry underlined that this right must be regulated “by the only constitutionally warranted group that can regulate the rights of citizens,” or Parliament. “When there is not a law that allows for it,” he explained, “there is no possibility for conscientious objection.” On the most controversial point of abortion reform, which allows minor aged 16 to get an abortion without the approval of their parents, Caamano pointed out that “beyond” negotiations in Parliament, this is the age in which a patient is considered an adult according to the Spanish health care system and “in all surrounding countries”. However, the minister underlined that “trust is not replaced by rights”. Rights “regulate marriage, but not love, they regulate family relationships, but not trust between family members”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Living Will: Senate PDL, No Lessons in Secularism

(AGI) — Rome, 21 Aug. — “The living will law approved by the Senate is the result of the senators being freely debating.

They cannot be accused in any way of clericalism, but they had the possibility of expressing their freedom of conscience regarding the groups they are a part of, also when — as in the case of the People of Freedom Party (PdL) — as the result of a long, in-depth, and secular discussion a wide majority was reached,” read a statement from Maurizio Gazparri and Gaetano Quagliariello, the PdL Party whip and vice-whip in the Senate.

“We would like to point out,” he continued, “that in about 60 secret ballot votes during the approval of the Calabro’ draft law, and especially on the most hotly disputed articles like food and hydration, the votes approving the law were in the vast majority. We believe that the Senate, and in particular the majority senators of the PdL, have done a good job, returning to Parliament its privileges that were threatened and identifying another synthesis between a patient’s freedom to decide before their family’s right, the respect of the doctor’s role, the inviolable right to life, and the secular principle of civility, according to which no one in our country should die of hunger and thirst at the hands of the state. We naturally hope that the debate in the Lower House further improves the text of the draft law, but we cannot accept PdL senators being given lessons in secularism. Also since,” they concluded, “in this phase of history, secularism is much more threatened than clericalism by dogmatism in which commonly champions of an alleged secularism in this way transform into secularism.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


U.N. Report Advocates Teaching Masturbation to 5-Year-Olds

NEW YORK — The United Nations is recommending that children as young as five receive mandatory sexual education that would teach even pre-kindergarteners about masturbation and topics like gender violence.

The U.N.’s Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released a 98-page report in June offering a universal lesson plan for kids ranging in age from 5-18, an “informed approach to effective sex, relationships” and HIV education that they say is essential for “all young people.”

[…]

“At that age they should be learning about … the proper name of certain parts of their bodies,” said Michelle Turner, president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, “certainly not about masturbation.”

Turner was disturbed by UNESCO’s plans to explain to children as young as nine about the safety of legal abortions, and to advocate and “promote the right to and access to safe abortion” for everyone over the age of 15.

“This is absurd,” she told FOXNews.com.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

Is Islamic Terrorism Reactive or Proactive?

In the conventional politically correct narrative, terrorism is a kind of desperate activism taken in reaction to oppression or some form of action taken against it. So for example, Osama bin Laden carried out 9/11 in reaction to US foreign policy. A Fatah or Hamas suicide bomber blows up an Israeli bus in reaction to the assassination of their leader. In reaction to their participation in the War on Terror, Spain and England suffered bombings.

Cars are torched in Paris, gang rapes happen in Oslo, rockets are fired in Lebanon, teachers are beheaded in Thailand and journalists are beheaded in Pakistan all because something made them do it. Within this narrative, each terrorist atrocity is a reaction to a provocation that can be prevented by nullifying the provocation. So the “Reactive Theory of Terrorism” argues that if the US improves its image with Muslims, Israel gives up territory to the terrorists, England and Spain withdraw from the War on Terror—terrorism will no longer be a problem for them. Reactive Theory of Terrorism

The “Reactive Theory of Terrorism” consciously or unconsciously dominates most talk of terrorism. Reactivists push for negotiations and commonly use phrases such as “We need to explore the root of the conflict”, which is Reactivistspeak for, “We need to understand what we’ve done to make them hate us.” Reactivists further argue that fighting terrorism is essentially useless, because terrorism is itself a reaction to the measures we take against it. Kill a terrorist, and “in reaction ten more will rise in his place”. The Reactivist position is that only addressing the source of the terrorists’ grievances can bring peace.

But is any of that actually true? The Reactivist assumption hinges on the supposed power imbalance between the terrorists and the nations they target. They argue that since the nations have more freedom of action and more power than the terrorists do, they function as proactive players, while the terrorists react to their actions. This conveniently fits into left wing ideas about class and their need to romanticize third worlders as “Noble Savages” who cannot originate plans of attack, but only respond to oppression. It also fits into the ideas of some isolationists on the far right.

Their understanding of the power imbalance itself however is altogether wrong…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Swine Flu Alert: Medicinal Chemist Says “Think Before You Vaccinate”

By Shane Ellison M. Sc.

The People’s Chemist

As a young chemist working in the chemistry labs of corporate America, I watched as they promoted cancer causing drugs as anti-cancer remedies (tamoxifen). I also witnessed the pharmaceutically compliant media convince the world that depression was a disease and you needed the so-called antidepressant drug Prozac(tm) to treat it. I began to wonder, “How gullible are the masses?” The reaction to the swine flu scare answered this.

It’s been said that “a sucker is born every minute,” but not even this aphorism could explain the hysteria that set in courtesy of swine flu alerts. With graphic images of the 1918 flu pandemic and Hispanics wearing face masks, American’s can’t seem to roll up their sleeves fast enough. With the cheap sales rhetoric of a late night infomercial, Big Pharma scum has risen to the top of the commercial vat with a “swine flu vaccine.” Yet, nobody is asking the important questions; “Is the swine flu a real threat?” And, “Is the swine flu vaccine safe?”

Americans, being bombarded by The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) public service announcements, are surrendering reason to fear. Hopefully I can restore it by writing articles like this one — but probably not. Oh well, I’d rather immerse myself in the autonomy that comes with writing than fielding ridiculous questions from the “Facebook friends” who want a cure for everything from toe fungus to erectile dysfunction. And besides, it’s inevitable that someone leaves endless messages on my cell phone asking if they should get the swine flu jab. So I might as well confront it now. It’s simple; keep your arm closely guarded and “think before your vaccinate.”

The swine flu isn’t a real threat. To understand why it isn’t, you have to look back to 1976. This was the last time the U.S. Government colluded with big Pharma to sell swine flu vaccines via fear tactics. The LA Times referred to it as the “swine flu debacle.”

Apparently, a dehydrated, stressed, and overworked U.S. soldier keeled over on a morning run. They discovered he had the flu. With sweeping generalizations, the media reported that he had the swine flu — a “strain similar to the virus believed to be the cause of the 1918 pandemic.” Without considering the many complications that exacerbated his flu conditions and ultimately led to his unfortunate death, swine flu sissies cried for a vaccine.

Big Pharma’s marketing machine emerged and vaccines were hastily distributed. The CDC admitted that no single swine flu case was ever confirmed. Yet, it was confirmed that hundreds of patients suffered from the debilitating, neurological disorder known as Guillain-Barré syndrome as a direct result of being vaccinated.

It was later discovered that the fatigued soldier suffered from good ol’ fashioned flu and was overcome by pneumonia — complicated by the stress and workload that come with being in the military. The U.S government prevented patients from taking action against negligent pharmaceutical companies by offering indemnity to the manufacturers.

Today’s swine flu threat is being promoted with the same fuzzy generalizations that spurred the demand for vaccines in 1976. “The virus is still around and ready to explode,” warned William Schaffner, an influenza expert (or pharmaceutical lapdog depending on how you look at it) at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “We’re potentially looking at a very big mess,” he insists.

Yet, he provides no laboratory evidence whatsoever to back up his alarmist claims. In fact, as highlighted on the nationally syndicated Robert Scott Bell radio show (Google it), the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a directive “to stop testing for the virus and just assume it’s there based on symptoms” — so much for state-of-the-art testing methods. If swine flu were a real threat, surely we’d be testing for it.

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2 comments:

Danny said...

I really enjoyed some of your posts. If you would be interested in guest posting on my blog (www.prometheuslearnings.blogspot.com) then please e-mail me at: prometheuslearnings@gmail.com

Call Me Mom said...

Wonderful job on the headlines, as usual. You forgot this one:50,000 Muslims expected for Islamic prayer on Capitol Hill

Does this mean that as far as the world of Islam is concerned, Capitol Hill will belong to them after this event?