Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100329

Financial Crisis
»Greece: Lawyers to Strike Again Tomorrow and Wed
»‘Chilling’ New Video: How to Slit Throats
»‘Christian Warrior’ Militia Accused in Plot to Kill Police
»Dossiers ‘R’ U.S. Part I
»Hijacking the Faith: The Obama Way
»Little-Known Health Care Law Provision is a Budget Buster, Critics Say
»Seven Arrested in FBI Raids Linked to Christian Militia Group
»The VAT Cometh
»To Conquer a Continent: The Elite Re-Configuration of North America
»Watch High-Profile Dems Squirm Over Health-Care Questions
»White Men Shun Democrats
Europe and the EU
»Catalonia: First Offshore Wind Farm
»Child Pornography: Spain, 32 Arrested in 5 Operations
»Cyprus: EU: Work on New Green Line Crossing Point Important
»France: Council of State, Limited Ban to Full Veil Approved
»French Bishops ‘Ashamed’ of Abuse
»Germany: Duisburg Braces for Trial Amid Biker War
»Greece: Attack in Athens, Anti-Terrorism Inquiry Ongoing
»Greece: Launches 5 Bln Euros 7-Year Bond Issue
»Italian Arctic Project Resumes
»Italy: Regionals: Projections, 4 to Centre-Right, 6 to Centre-Left
»Italy: School Installs Condom Machines
»Sicily Governor Probed for Mafia Links
»Spain: Jimmy Carter Wins 2010 ‘Catalunya’ Award
»Spain: Domestic Violence, 5 Killed in 24 Hrs
»Spain: 10 Pledges for African Women in Valencia Declaration
»Spain: Inquiry Into Lobby Money for U.S. Medal to Aznar
»UK: Dying Hospital Patient Phoned Switchboard Begging for a Drink After Nurses Said No
»UK: RAF Fighter Jets Shadow Passenger Flights as Fears Grow of Terror Attack
Mediterranean Union
»Africa: Solar Power to Europe Under Mediterranean Sea
»EU: Damascus and Fez Key Cities for ‘Hammamed’
»EU-Tunisia: Visit by Fule to Boost Relations
»Italy-Morocco: 25 Scholarships for Young Moroccans
North Africa
»Morocco: Abu Dhabi, Search for Emir’s Brother Continues
Israel and the Palestinians
»Has the Obama Administration, Against U.S. Interests, Declared Diplomatic War on Israel?
»Tunisia-PNA: Ben Ali to Mahmoud Abbas, We Support Your Cause
Middle East
»Defense: Turkish Minister Begins Talks in Qatar
»Dubai: British Man Faces Six Months in Dubai Jail for Making Offensive Gesture at Iraqi Student
»Italy-Syria: Trade in Decline
»Turkey and Syria to Cooperate in Science & Technology
»‘Black Widow’ Suicide Cell Suspected in Metro Blasts
»Hunt for ‘Black Widow’ Terror Gang After Female Suicide Bombers Kill at Least 37 in Bomb Attacks on Moscow Trains
»Russia: Bombs Kill Dozens on Moscow Metro
Far East
»Ford Sends Volvo to China’s Geely for $1.8 Billion
»Rio Tinto Employees Sentenced in Chinese Bribery Case
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ghaddafi Urges Nigeria Split Into Ethnic States
»20 Million Americans Unemployed: Case for Immigration Moratorium
»IOM to Open Office in Cyprus, Minister Says
»Diana West: The Enforcer
»Following the Herd: Fear Dictates What Music Teenagers Listen to

Financial Crisis

Greece: Lawyers to Strike Again Tomorrow and Wed

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MARCH 29 — The Greek Assembly of the Lawyers Associations Presidents has called another strike for tomorrow and the day after to protest against the government’s decision to apply VAT to them as well. Meanwhile, filling stations in regions in which the government decided to apply a maximum price limit for petrol are getting ready for a 48-hour strike set to take place during the Holy Week celebrations. (ANSAmed) .

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


‘Chilling’ New Video: How to Slit Throats

Jihad maneuvers taught at New York compound

A new video released by the Christian Action Network shows Muslim women at a compound in New York state practicing throat-slitting techniques and assault weapons attacks.

The video was distributed by the makers of the movie “Homegrown Jihad: The Terrorist Camps Around the U.S.,” which documents how a jihadist group has developed dozens of training camps across the nation.

WND reported at the time how Jamaat ul-Fuqra has built 35 compounds — mostly in the northeastern corridor of the U.S.

Now the organization has posted on YouTube a “chilling” training video provided to CAN by an unnamed law enforcement source about the Muslims of America headquarters in Hancock, New York.

[Comments from JD: Warning: Graphic content.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘Christian Warrior’ Militia Accused in Plot to Kill Police

(CNN) — Nine people federal prosecutors say belong to a “Christian warrior” militia were accused Monday of plotting to kill a Michigan law enforcement officer and then attack other police at the funeral.

A federal grand jury in Detroit, Michigan, indicted six Michigan residents, two Ohioans and an Indianan on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade and Andrew Arena, FBI special agent in charge, announced.

The five-count indictment unsealed Monday charges that since August 2008, the defendants, acting as a Lenawee County, Michigan, militia group called the Hutaree, conspired to oppose by force the authority of the U.S. government.

Attorney General Eric Holder called it “an insidious plan by anti-government extremists.”

The group says on its Web site that Hutaree means “Christian warrior” and proclaims on its home page, “Preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive.”

In the Web site’s “About Us” section, the group says, “We believe that one day, as prophecy says, there will be an Anti-Christ. All Christians must know this and prepare, just as Christ commanded.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based nonprofit organization that monitors hate groups and other fringe organizations, lists the Hutaree as a “Patriot” group militia.

“Generally, Patriot groups define themselves as opposed to the ‘New World Order,’ engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing or advocate or adhere to extreme anti-government doctrines,” the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report, “Rage on the Right: The Year in Hate and Extremism.”

The law center also defines Patriot groups as “militias and other organizations that see the federal government as part of a plot to impose ‘one-world government’ on liberty-loving Americans.”

The suspects were identified as David Brian Stone, 45; his wife, Tina Stone, 44; his son Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, of Clayton, Michigan; and another son, David Brian Stone Jr., 19, of Adrian, Michigan; Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield, Michigan; Michael Meeks, 40, of Manchester, Michigan; Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Indiana; Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio; and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio.

Eight of the nine defendants are in custody, and seven made their initial appearance Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald A. Scheer, prosecutors said. Joshua Stone is a fugitive, according to prosecutors.

A bond hearing was set for 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Court-appointed counsel will be assigned to the seven suspects who were in court Monday because none of them had attorneys.

According to the indictment, Hutaree members view local, state and federal law enforcement authorities as the enemy and have been preparing to engage them in armed conflict.

The indictment alleges the Hutaree group planned to kill an unidentified law enforcement officer in Michigan and then attack officers who would gather for the funeral.

According to the plan, the indictment said, the Hutaree wanted to use improvised explosive devices to attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession. The indictment said those explosive devices, commonly called IEDs, constitute weapons of mass destruction.

Subsequently, the indictment said, Hutaree leader David Brian Stone obtained information about IEDs over the Internet and e-mailed diagrams to a person he believed could manufacture them.

He then had his one of his sons, Joshua Matthew Stone, and others gather materials necessary to manufacture IEDs, the indictment alleges.

According to the indictment, David Brian Stone and David Brian Stone Jr. taught other Hutaree members in June how to make and use explosive devices.

In addition, the grand jury charged all nine defendants with carrying or possessing a firearm during a crime of violence on at least one occasion.

“Because the Hutaree had planned a covert reconnaissance operation for April which had the potential of placing an unsuspecting member of the public at risk, the safety of the public and of the law enforcement community demanded intervention at this time,” McQuade said.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Dossiers ‘R’ U.S. Part I

On Tuesday, March 23, 2010, a type of article typically known in journalistic circles as a “fluff piece” was published in the Washington Post by staff writer Justin Moyer, entitled “Government surveys high school seniors, then tracks them for decades.” In his first-person narrative, he described how, in his not-terribly-distant younger days, he had been given a survey as a high school senior that “looked like the SAT [Scholastic Achievement Test],” as it was printed on the same type of paper such official questionnaires and tests are printed on. He didn’t think too much about it and was told “[p] articipation was voluntary” and that “[a]nswers…would remain anonymous.”

What he found were questions about drugs (“Had I used tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines? How often?”), some sex-related queries (“Had I had it? Oral sex? Intercourse? How often?”), and questions on driving (“Did I drive? From where? To where? How often?”).

Mr. Moyer says he “answered them all. My willingness to record intimate details about my love life and car use says less about my fear of authority than my sheer innocence. I was 16, or maybe 17. There wasn’t much to hide.”

Then, there was that all-important “but” in hindsight: “But there was no taking it back,” Mr. Moyer wrote. “Apparently I’d signed up for a long-term project: No matter where I went or what I did, follow-up surveys dogged me like broken-down cars and poor career choices. After graduation in 1994, I moved to Connecticut. I moved to Cape Cod. I moved to Washington. I moved around Washington. But, about once a year, I’d open the mail and see that same wan blue ink on that same heavy paper: another survey, embossed with a clip-art logo (silhouettes holding hands across a wan blue America) and headlined ‘Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth.’ Return address: the University of Michigan.”


Today, even toddlers are assessed for such things as individualistic tendencies in state-sponsored early-childhood programs. When (and, more to the point, if) you manage to get your hands on the professional interpretive literature to these assessments, you soon learn that being a “free-thinker” is not necessarily a plus. Teamwork, flexibility and amenability long since have replaced “principle” as virtues in the workplace — or, for that matter, in school and politics. If a child even appears to demonstrate inflexibility or dogmatism, these run counter to educational psychiatrists’ visions of mental health. The National Institute of Mental Health and the National Science Foundation funded a $1.2 million study in 2003 which was said to determine that adherents to traditional moral principles and limited government are sick. NIMH-NSF researchers from the Universities of Maryland, California at Berkeley, and Stanford attributed the notions to “dogmatic” and “rigid” thinking in a paper entitled “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition” (Jost, J. T., J. Glaser, et al. (2003); Psychological Bulletin 129(3): 339-375). That is why “firm religious belief” now has a bad rap and ranks high as a “marker” for poor mental health.

Follow-up research at NCES’ website revealed how identification numbers are assigned to children — ostensibly by the state, but under the auspices of a federal mandate, leaving the states as “fall guys.” Apparently, each state is supposed to craft its “own” ID procedures using federal guidelines, then transmit all the gathered data to the federal government, where private information is cross-matched with other information already in hand from non-school sources. Clueless parents can spend years getting the runaround on that one.

When this columnist entered the State of Nebraska at random, it was discovered that its “Uniq-ID System” student numbers were linked to the youngsters’ federal Social Security numbers, according to a table.

[Comments from JD: Be sure to read part 2 also, url at link above]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Hijacking the Faith: The Obama Way

As with most hijackings, the targets don’t know about it until it is happening. As with every hijacking, it is about control. This time it is about controlling the word of God as preached in churches across the land. Behind it, is the force and support of the White House. Note the man reported to be President Barack Obama’s newest spiritual advisor, a man with reported sentiments not unlike Jeremiah Wright’s, but without the raw public image. Yet, Obama’s new front man on religion, Rev. Jim Wallis, is creating his own explosive rhetorical baggage as he takes on the word of the God of the Bible.

Obama’s stated goal is to change America. Having rammed through health care for physical control of American lives, his administration is now emboldened to venture into the heart and soul of America — its religious foundation and the Judeo-Christian Bible.


The radical left started the hijacking process by creating many of their own churches under the guise of the Judeo-Christian faith and began teaching social justice — as in redistribution of wealth, socialistic control of the nation’s economy, the green movement, global warming — as if such issues are mandated by scripture. It is a fraud against scripture since there is no such doctrine of “social justice” anywhere in the Bible. The radical left would do well to understand that when there is Biblical justice to be meted out, it will be by the sovereign God, their Creator — not by a transitory government seeking a globalization agenda under pious posturing that masquerades their political hijacking and usurping of Biblical doctrine. What they postulate is a sin against God, a lie against people of doctrinal faith and a threat to uproot the Judeo-Christian founding of this nation and its Constitution. Danger is afoot and it comes in the meaningless terminology of man-conceived and politically designed “Biblical Justice.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Little-Known Health Care Law Provision is a Budget Buster, Critics Say

While Congress spent the last year debating how to provide health insurance for the uninsured, a little-known provision slipped into the heath care law that could cost some Americans upwards of $2,000 a year.

The Class Act, otherwise known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act, is the federal government’s first long-term care insurance program.

Under-reported and the under the radar of most lawmakers, the program will allow workers to have an average of roughly $150 or $240 a month, based on age and salary, automatically deducted from their paycheck to save for long-term care.

The Congressional Budget Office expects the government will collect $109 billion in premiums by 2019.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Seven Arrested in FBI Raids Linked to Christian Militia Group

At least seven people, including some from Michigan, have been arrested in raids by a FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana as part of an investigation into an Adrian-based Christian militia group, a person familiar with the matter said.

The suspects are expected to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Detroit on Monday.


Mike Lackomar, of, said both The Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia and the were not a part of the raid.

Lackomar said he heard from other militia members that the FBI targeted the Hutaree after its members made threats of violence against Islamic organizations.


One of the Hutaree members called a Michigan militia leader for assistance Saturday after federal agents had already began their raid, Lackomar said, but the militia member — who is of Islamic decent and had heard about the threats — declined to offer help. That Michigan militia leader is now working with federal officials to provide information on the Hutaree member for the investigation, Lackomar said Sunday.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The VAT Cometh

WASHINGTON — As the night follows the day, the VAT cometh.

With the passage of Obamacare, creating a vast new middle-class entitlement, a national sales tax of the kind near-universal in Europe is inevitable.

We are now $8 trillion in debt. The Congressional Budget Office projects that another $12 trillion will be added over the next decade. Obamacare, when stripped of its budgetary gimmicks — the unfunded $200 billion-plus doctor fix, the double counting of Medicare cuts, the 10-6 sleight-of-hand (counting 10 years of revenue and only 6 years of outflows) — is at minimum a $2 trillion new entitlement.

It will vastly increase the debt. But even if it were revenue-neutral, Obamacare pre-empts and appropriates for itself the best and easiest means of reducing the existing deficit. Obamacare’s $500 billion of cuts in Medicare and $600 billion in tax hikes are no longer available for deficit reduction. They are siphoned off for the new entitlement of insuring the uninsured.


That’s where the value-added tax comes in. For the politician, it has the virtue of expediency: People are used to sales taxes, and this one produces a river of revenue. Every 1 percent of VAT would yield up to $1 trillion a decade (depending on what you exclude — if you exempt food, for example, the yield would be more like $900 billion).

It’s the ultimate cash cow. Obama will need it. By introducing universal health care, he has pulled off the largest expansion of the welfare state in four decades. And the most expensive. Which is why all of the European Union has the VAT. Huge VATs. Germany: 19 percent. France and Italy: 20 percent. Most of Scandinavia: 25 percent.

[Comments from JD: Canada is implementing their version of VAT (HST) this year.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

To Conquer a Continent: The Elite Re-Configuration of North America

NOTE: This report was originally published a few years ago in Forcing Change, yet the information it contains is vital to understanding the move towards continental unification.

Disbelief was the first emotion. Not because I didn’t comprehend the message, but because of the brazen nature of the broadcast. After the evening news was over, I immediately placed phone calls to friends in the United States. Was it on your evening news? Did you see it?

The response was the same regardless of which state I called. No, there’s nothing about this story here. Are you sure it exists?

While America appeared to have a news blackout in early 2005, flashed coast-to-coast across Canada was a report of monumental significance: a story that will impact every citizen of Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

The piece that caught my breath was the proclamation of an unveiling. The New York-based Council on Foreign Relations would be releasing a study on integrating the continent, a move that would take us well beyond NAFTA. For the observant, it was clear that all three nations would have to re-configure their priorities.

Released in early 2005, the CFR document titled Building A North American Community would eventually trigger a ground swell of criticism in the United States.[2] Over the next two years a variety of watchdog and citizen organizations would voice concerns that continental harmonization would be an affront to national sovereignty, with a dozen or so states introducing bills of opposition. Adding fuel to this fire was the realization that other integration programs have been underway with little public knowledge or debate.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Watch High-Profile Dems Squirm Over Health-Care Questions

Shock journalist corners congressmen with actual text from reform bill

U.S. Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., fielded a pair of questions he didn’t see coming — from someone who has actually read the federal health-care reform bills.

But when the provisions Obey voted for were brought to light by the unexpected questions, his staffers got so upset, witnesses say, one aide actually assaulted the cameraman.

“Which provisions are going to lower cost?” the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee was asked on camera. “Is it the provision that provides funding for Native American child molesters? Or the provision that provides funding for veterinarians?”

The shocking questions came right out of the pages of the health bill the House had passed previously, a bill Obey voted for, which included rehabilitation of “perpetrators of child sex abuse who are Indian or members of an Indian household,” quoted from H.R. 3962, p. 1950, line 22.

The questions were asked by Jason Mattera, hailed as one of the country’s top young conservative activists and already widely known for his ambush interviews caught on camera.

[Comments from JD: See URL for video of the attack.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

White Men Shun Democrats

Millions of white men who voted for Barack Obama are walking away from the Democratic Party, and it appears increasingly likely that they’ll take the midterms elections in November with them. Their departure could well lead to a GOP landslide on a scale not seen since 1994.

For more than three decades before the 2008 election, no Democratic president had won a majority of the electorate. In part, that was because of low support — never more than 38 percent — among white male voters. Things changed with Obama, who not only won a majority of all people voting, but also pulled in 41 percent of white male voters.

Polling suggests that the shift was not because of Obama but because of the financial meltdown that preceded the election. It was only after the economic collapse that Obama’s white male support climbed above the 38 percent ceiling. It was also at that point that Obama first sustained a clear majority among all registered voters, according to the Gallup tracking poll.

It looked for a moment as though Democrats had finally reached the men of Bruce Springsteen’s music, bringing them around to the progressive values Springsteen himself has long endorsed. But liberal analysts failed to understand that these new Democrats were still firmly rooted in American moderation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Catalonia: First Offshore Wind Farm

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 29 — Catalonia, Spain’s pioneer in land-based wind energy, will be the first to install wind turbines in the Mediterranean Sea as well. The so-called project ‘Zefir’ in fact is Catalonia’s way to challenge the competition in offshore wind farms installed in the North Sea. It is a project of the Catalonian institute for energy research (IREC), a group of companies, universities, public administrations. The group is chaired by the Economy Councillorship of the autonomous government, which announced the projects. The first operational stage will be completed in two years time. During this period, two or four offshore wind turbines will be installed for a total of 20 megawatt off the coast of Tarragona, between the cape of Tarragona, Salou and Tortosa, 3,5 km from the coast. The depth of the water, 35m, makes it possible to anchor the turbines directly on the sea bed. The final installation of the small wind farms will depend on the environmental assessment study. The farms will have to fit into the plans made for marine wind farms by the Environment Ministry. In the second stage of the project, which includes the installation of six to eight turbines for a total of 50 MW, the central government will make the environmental impact assessment. In this case, the turbines will be positioned 20km off the coast, in waters with a depth of 100m. Here the turbines will be anchored to floating structures, which will in turn be fixed to the sea bed. The advisor for Innovation, Universities and Enterprise of Catalonia, Josep Huguet, explained that the location for the second stage has not yet been selected. For project ‘Zefir’ a windy stretch of coast has been found. The project organisation has already asked Endesa, a subsidiary of the Italian Enel, to distribute the energy generated by the offshore wind turbines. The energy generated after the first stage should be enough for 8,000 households. The Spanish government’s alternative energy plan includes the installation of 4.000 to 5.000 MW of off-shore wind power by 2020. This type of energy has so far only be developed in the North Sea, thanks to the continental shelf that makes it possible to place the turbines as far as 60-70 km from the coast and still anchor them to the sea bed at a depth of 25/30 m. In the Mediterranean Sea, where the continental shelf has different properties, the installation requires the development of new technologies. Future commercial wind farms in the Mediterranean, the Catalonian Generalitat explains, will be placed on floating anchored platforms between 15 and 20m off the coast. The only example of this system is the Statoil wind farm, off the Norwegian coast. The group of Catalonian enterprises wants to collaborate with manufacturers of components like Siemens, Alstom, Prysmian, Gamesa, Meteosim, and with companies like Iberdola, Gas Natural or Acciona, to build the platforms for the wind turbines. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Child Pornography: Spain, 32 Arrested in 5 Operations

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 29 — The Spanish police have arrested 32 people in 17 provinces, during five operations against the spreading of child pornography via internet. Police sources say in a statement that 39 houses have been searched, 32 people have been arrested, 9 people have been investigated and that thousands of archives of child pornography have been confiscated. The investigation started in Estremadura and Valencia and was later expanded to the provinces of Madrid, La Coruna, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Barcelona, Las Palmas di Gran Canaria, Guadalajara, Alicante, Albacete, Palencia, Logroo, Murcia, Gupuzcoa, Seville, Girona and Navarra. During the operations, in which the computer crime group of the Valencia Direction participated, 8 computers were confiscated, as well as 69 hard disks, around 1,600 dvds and cds containing child pornography and one camera. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Cyprus: EU: Work on New Green Line Crossing Point Important

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MARCH 29 — The launch today of the works for the opening of the crossing point at Limnitis (Yesilirmak in Turkish) on the green line that separates the two parts of the island “marks an important step forward in building confidence between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities” for the European Commission. A statement issued by European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule, reads that “I welcome that today works start on the road between Kato Pyrgos/Asagi Pirgo and Limnitis/Yesilirmak with the financial support from the EU. This will allow later in the year to open a new crossing point at the Green Line, offering new opportunities in the every day lives of many Cypriots.” The decision to open this new opening was made by the two leaders, the Greek Cypriot Demetris Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Ali Talat, on June 26 2009. Today marks the start of the concrete works on the upgrading of the 5.7 km road between Kato Pyrgos/Asagi Pirgo and Limnitis/Yesilirmak in the northwest of the island. The EU has financed the feasibility study and is the largest contributor to the project with 5 million euros. Europe is contributing 2.5 million euros to the works from the 59 million euro aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community managed by the European Commission. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: Council of State, Limited Ban to Full Veil Approved

(ANSAmded) — PARIS, MARCH 29 — The French Council of State, the highest administrative body in the country, should rule this week on the ban of the full Islamic veil, as long as it is limited to public services. According to the French press, the Council of State — in a report due to be delivered on Tuesday to French Premier Francois Fillon — discards the idea of a general ban of the full veil in the streets or in squares. In summary, in the view of the Council of State, a possible law to ban the veil — strongly desired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy — can only be implemented for public services, such as public buses and post offices. At the end of January, Fillon had asked the Council of State to offer “legal solutions” to allow the government to draft a bill that provides for a “ban of the full veil that is as broad and as effective as possible”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

French Bishops ‘Ashamed’ of Abuse

NYT says pope knew about Munich case

(ANSA) — Vatican City, March 26 — French bishops wrote to Pope Benedict XVI Friday voicing “shame” over the Catholic Church’s widening child sex abuse scandal after it appeared to move closer to the pope.

“We all feel shame and dismay over the abominable acts perpetrated by some priests and religious,” the bishops wrote from their spring plenary session.

But they also sent a “cordial message of support” to the pontiff “in the difficult period our Church is going through”.

On Thursday the New York Times claimed Benedict in his past role as the Vatican’s pointman on abuse cases failed to act against a Milwaukee priest who abused some 200 deaf children as head of a school from 1950 to 1974.

The Vatican daily l’Osservatore Romano reacted by saying the report was part of an “ignoble” campaign to smear the pope.

On Friday the Italian bishops’ daily Avvenire, said the pope was the victim of a “ferocious” attack.

On Friday the NYT returned to the issue of Benedict’s past, claiming that, as Munich archbishop in the 1980s, he had been aware of the case of a paedophile priest reassigned to Church work.

Earlier this month the pope’s ex-No 2 in the German city took responsibility and claimed the future pontiff had not been informed.

But the NYT said Benedict, then archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, was “copied in” to the letter transferring the priest.

On Thursday the US daily claimed Ratzinger, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ignored appeals from US bishops in 1996 to defrock Father Lawrence Murphy.

The Vatican replied by saying the pope was only informed of the case shortly before Murphy died two years later.

The NYT accusations against the pope gained worldwide headlines Friday, picked up by the BBC, The Times, Al Jazeera, Le Monde and El Pais among others.


Also on Friday, the Legionaries of Christ order issued an official apology to the victims of its founder, Mexican Father Marcial Maciel, who died in 2008 in disgrace after it emerged he had abused scores of seminarians over decades and fathered several children.

After a long campaign by victims, Benedict ordered an internal probe which reached its conclusions earlier this month.

The Legionaries said in their statement that they would accept “with filial obedience” any action resulting from the probe, whose findings remain secret.

Back in Germany, the latest country after the US, Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Netherands and Austria to be touched by scandal, a fresh case emerged Friday of alleged abuse at an orphanage in Schleswig-Holstein, already reported to the police.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated Friday that “we must do everything we can in future to evert such terrible crimes”.

German daily Der Spiegel asked Friday “Why is the pope still in charge?” after allegedly overseeing cover-ups.

Italian conservative politicians rallied to the pope’s defence Friday with Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, a member of Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, calling the “attacks” on the pontiff “scandalous and shameful”.

On Thursday evening PdL heavyweights claimed there was a “very clear plot” against the pope.

Benedict recently sent a much-awaited letter to Ireland expressing revulsion at decades of abuse and cover-ups, but did not announce any action against the hierarchy.

The pontiff has accepted the resignation of one out of four bishops who offered to stand down after two damning reports.

Another bishop resigned in a case that pre-dated the reports.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Germany: Duisburg Braces for Trial Amid Biker War

The Hells Angels and Bandidos biker gangs are at war in Germany. Michael Remmert reports on how Duisburg is bracing for what’s being billed as the most dangerous trial of the year.

Last week, more than 600 police officers locked down the centre of the Duisburg to prevent a gang war from spilling out onto the streets of the gritty industrial city in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The massive police presence was aimed at discouraging open confrontation between rival bikers — the infamous Hells Angels and Bandidos. The two sides are involved in a bloody turf war across Germany that culminated in the murder of a police officer earlier this month.

“Germany is in the midst of a war between these gangs,” said Thomas Jungbluth, a lead investigator with North Rhine-Westphalia’s state police. “When it comes to defending their turfs, they can be brutal and ruthless.”

The authorities in Duisburg are now afraid the trial of Timur A., a pimp with ties to the Hells Angels, could lead to more violence. Timur A. is accused of shooting dead Rudolf Heinz “Ashley” E., a 32-year old member of the Bandidos, in October 2009. He also faces two counts of attempted manslaughter for narrowly missing two women suspected of working as prostitutes for the Bandidos.

The first day of the trial last week ended prematurely due to a legal technicality postponing it until March 31, but police will be on alert for as long as it continues to prevent another spasm of biker violence.

Immediately after Ashley E.’s death, the Duisburg Chapter of the Bandidos declared war on the Hells Angels on their website by posting: “Expect no mercy.”

The state police believe the Bandidos have already mapped out several routes of revenge.

“A lot of it is about losing face and money,” said Jungbluth. “The Bandidos and Hells Angels are involved in gambling, both legal and illegal, prostitution, arms dealing, extortion, money laundering and drug trafficking.”

But the Hells Angels, with strongholds in nearby Düsseldorf and Dortmund, signaled that they were not in the least afraid of their rivals. There was an uncontrollable melee involving more than 100 bikers last November as Bandidos attempted to storm a Duisburg bordello controlled by the Hells Angels. Police only managed to restore order after several hours of violence and a state-wide call for backup.

That sparked the German authorities to crack down on both gangs with a series of raids, confiscating illegal weapons, drugs, counterfeit money, stolen motorcycle parts and other contraband. Several powerful members from both the Hells Angels and the Bandidos were arrested and taken out of circulation for months, leading to relative calm.

Until March 17. On that day, a Hells Angel allegedly murdered a member of Rhineland-Palatinate’s special police unit by firing two shots through the door of his house when officers were trying to serve a search warrant. This led Germany’s powerful police union GdP to demand a total ban on bikers gangs.

But Udo Potthoff, a spokesman for the Duisburg police, said that would drive criminal biker elements underground.

“If we let them operate under their colours and from their various headquarters in different cities, at least we’re able to know where they are and keep some control over their actions,” he told The Local.

The biker war began to escalate about six years ago in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Cities like Kiel, Flensburg, Lübeck and Hamburg used to be “controlled” by the Hells Angels, but the Bandidos — who began their march through Europe after gaining their first bridgeheads in Denmark and Sweden in the early to mid 1990’s — are moving southward into the lucrative German market.

The result is an angry and fearful public caught in the crossfire.

Gina Holstenbrink, 31-year old mother of two young children, lamented the exorbitant cost of security in Duisburg during the 13-day trial.

“They said on the radio that the cost of having this excessive police force here in Duisburg is roughly €180,000 per day,” she said outside of the courthouse. “That’s insane. How many meals can be cooked for kids at kindergarten? How many unemployed folks could start on schooling programs for that kind of money?”

But the authorities are determined not let the bikers have any opportunity for violence.

“We won´t be caught with our guard down, that’s for sure,” said Potthoff. “We’ll be here with those big numbers, each and every day.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Greece: Attack in Athens, Anti-Terrorism Inquiry Ongoing

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Greek anti-terrorism agents are continuing their investigation at the scene of late yesterday evening’s attack in Athens, when a bomb exploded and killed a young Afghan man and injured his mother and younger sister. According to the latest police statement, anti-terrorism squads are investigating an anonymous telephone call made by someone with a foreign accent at 8.46 in the morning to the Alter TV station, in which it was announced that within the next few minutes a bomb would explode in front of the offices of “EVEE”. Police searched in vain for the head offices of some department with the initials reported by the one who made the call. Moreover, the bomb did not go off in the time announced in the call but much later, in front of the Civil Servants Training School. The question to which police are now called upon to answer is whether the bomb was in some way connected with the anonymous call but with a mistaken target, as well as why a second call was not made since the bomb did not go off at the time announced. Otherwise, it is believed that the bomb may have been placed there a few minutes before it was discovered by the family of immigrants and that the perpetrators of the attack did not have the time to make another warning call. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Launches 5 Bln Euros 7-Year Bond Issue

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MARCH 29 — Four days after the agreement of the European summit in Brussels, the Greek Finance Ministry has launched a new seven-year bond issue, for a total that depends on market performance. The Ministry, according to reporters in the capital, hopes to collect at least five billion euros, against a stabalised rate of 6-6.10% and with a spread around 310 base points. According to the Public Debt Management Agency, the bank consortium will include Alpha Bank, Emporiki Bank, ING, Merrill Lynch and Societé Generale. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italian Arctic Project Resumes

Climate change research returns to North Pole

(ANSA) — Rome, March 29 — An Italian climate change project in the Arctic is fully operational once again, after a difficult three-year period in which it looked as though it might be permanently shelved. Operating from Italy’s base at the small settlement of Ny-Alesund in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, the operation was set up to study the effects of climate change in the North Pole.

“The aim is to gather enough date to build models mapping the evolution of the climate,” explained the environment director of Italy’s National Research Council (CNR), Giuseppe Cavaretta. The Artic Climate Project was launched some years ago but was put on hold in 2007 when funds dried up.

However, renewed interest in the findings, prompted by growing concern over climate change, has generated a fresh injection of cash. The CNR has managed to drum up 400,000 euros, supplemented by a further 250,000 euros from the Italian Education and Research Ministry. Researchers started returning to the base in early March and the operation will run until September.

More than 40 Italian scientists will work on the project over coming months. Cavaretta explained why those involved believed the project was critical, as it focused on short-term rather than long-term models, enabling scientists to assess the impact of ongoing changes to the environment. “We hope to build more efficient models of how the climate evolves, with a detailed look at the next ten years and not just the next 50-100 years as in the past,” he said. “This is the only way that we will be able to map and track very sudden changes.

“This is more important than ever given the major business investments in the Arctic that are seeking to exploit mineral resources such as oil and gas”. Italian researchers will collect, record and reconstruct the results of ongoing interactions between the air, snow and water. The information will be recorded by scientific equipment located in two Arctic towers: Norway’s Zeppelin Station and the CNR’s own Armundsen-Nobile observation tower. The 30-metre-high Armundsen-Nobile tower, which was finished last year, was named after the Italian and Norwegian explorers Umberto Nobile and Roald Amundsen, who were among the first to fly over the North Pole in 1926.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Regionals: Projections, 4 to Centre-Right, 6 to Centre-Left

(ANSAmed) — ROME — According to the initial projections of the results of the regional elections, the centre-left has won in six regions, while the centre-right has taken four, and the other three are up for grabs. Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, the Marches, Umbria, Basilicata and Apulia will remain in the hands of the centre-left. The centre-right will hold onto its strongholds in Lombardy and the Veneto and will take Calabria and Campania from the centre-left. Piedmont and Liguria both could go to either side, while projections indicate an even race in Lazio. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: School Installs Condom Machines

Vatican condemned move

(ANSA) — Rome, March 29 — A Rome high school has become the first Italian school to install condom machines, in the face of strong opposition from the Vatican.

Students at the Keplero scientific school will find the six machines waiting when they get back from their Easter break on April 7.

“I’m satisfied that we’ve finally got them, as part of our programme to educate students on sexually transmitted diseases,” said Keplero Principal Antonio Panaccione.

The Vatican condemned the move on March 9, saying it would spur “irresponsible sexual activity” but the school’s religion teacher came out in favour, saying it would promote “greater awareness”.

Youth Minister Giorgio Meloni, a member of Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative People of Freedom (PdL) party, said she was “neither embarrassed nor upset” about the arrival of the machines.

The case has gained headlines in the international media.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sicily Governor Probed for Mafia Links

Raffaele Lombardo in Catania boss probe

(ANSA) — Catania, March 29 — Sicily Governor Raffaele Lombardo is under investigation for suspected links to a Catania Mafia boss, judicial sources said Monday.

Police say Lombardo and his brother Angelo, an MP for Lombardo’s Movimento per l’Autonomia (MpA) party, swapped votes for favours with Vincenzo Aiello, a prominent member of the powerful Catania-based Santapaola clan.

Aiello was arrested in October on a range of Mafia charges.

Also involved in the two-year probe is a member of the Sicilian regional assembly, Fausto Fagone of the centrist Catholic UDC party.

Lombardo denied the charges, saying he didn’t know Aiello.

He said he would sue anyone who repeated that he was linked to the jailed boss.

“It’s an accusation that is out of this world. I don’t know Aiello; I don’t even know who he is”.

Lombardo’s lawyer, Carmelo Galati, said he would ask to see prosecutors “as soon as possible to see what this is about”.

“We have no idea what the probe concerns,” Galati said.

Lombardo called a meeting of the regional executive in the early afternoon, amid opposition calls for him to step down.

Prosecutors opened an investigation into how the news was leaked to the press.

The MpA is an ally of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. The UDC is an opposition party.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Jimmy Carter Wins 2010 ‘Catalunya’ Award

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 29 — Former US President Jimmy Carter was named today as the winner of the ‘Premio Internacional Catalunya’, as a man of “heart and courage” in his defence of peace and human rights worldwide. The event has reached its 22th edition. The award is worth 100,000 euros and a sculpture, ‘La clau i la terra’ from Antoni Tapies. The Catalonian government awards the prize to people who have contributed to the development of cultural, scientific or human values. This year 197 candidates from 54 countries were nominated. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Domestic Violence, 5 Killed in 24 Hrs

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — MARCH 29 — Domestic violence resulted in a tragic weekend in Spain, with three killed in less than 24 hours and two of the alleged killers subsequently committing suicide. The bodies of two spouses who had been shot and killed were found late yesterday evening in a car near Benahadux (Almeria), according to Civil Guard sources quoted today in the press. According to initial reports, one of the victims (Juan Tortosa, a truck driver) shot his wife (Carmen) several times, killing her — to then kill himself afterwards. The couple’s three children had reported the couple missing on Saturday. In Vic (Barcelona), a 35-year-old man was arrested yesterday on charges of having killed his wife, also 35 years old. According to Catalan police sources, the woman was found strangled to death in her home. She was found by police who came to the scene after having been alerted by a call to the emergency number. In addition, a 64-year-old woman was found dead in Atzeneta del Maestrat (Castellon), on the Mediterranean side, killed by shots fired from her husband’s rifle. According to initial reports by the police, the murder occurred at 0.30 a.m. on Sunday when, following a violent argument, the woman left her house running and chased by her husband, who fired a few shots at her from a hunting rifle. Once home again, the man allegedly shot and killed himself. No reports had been filed of previous incidents of domestic abuse by the victims. However, there is heated debate over the non-use of electronic bracelets as a preventative measure to monitor men under court orders to stay away from their victims. In an interview today with the Spain’s national radio station, the government delegate for gender-based violence, Miguel Lorente, acknowledged that electronic devices “are used very infrequently”. Currently only 9% of the 3,000 electronic bracelets to locate attackers made available by the government are in use. Apart from the victims of the last three days, the four victims of domestic violence recorded last week had all been subject to protective measures with restraining orders against their attackers: none of whom, however, were wearing an electronic bracelet. Lorente note that “I think that it is important that these resources are known about and that they be applied to ensure the safety of women.” (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: 10 Pledges for African Women in Valencia Declaration

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 29 — Ten pledges against discrimination contained in the Declaration of Valencia signed by over 500 women from Africa, Europe and Latin America came at the end of the fifth Africa-Spain Women for a Better World conference which took place over the weekend. The ten points, cited today by the media, focus on four principles: politics, entrepreneurship, education and health. To encourage “the leadership of women, which enriches the democratic fabric”, a permanent political and social programme will be developed at the Regional Training Centre of Barneko, which will open in the coming months. The objective of “facilitating women’s access to productive means and resources” will drive the development of businesses led by women, with the creation of two regional business promotion centres and with easier access to microloans, which will be the focus of a global summit on microfinance that will take place in Valladolid in 2011. An important role will also be played “by regional continuing education courses in management, commerce and agricultural associations”, which will be held at the Mali Training Centre. In the education field, a training programme organised by the Spanish National University of Distance Education (UNED) will be promoted to “increase the number of teachers in various African nations”. The declaration also mentions the start of “a training programme for nurses and midwives” in several African countries in order to guarantee better primary care for women. In his closing speech at the encounter in Valencia, Spanish Premier José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero drew a parallel between international development aid and gender equality, since “women suffer most from the effects of economic underdevelopment”. He also stressed that in five years Spain has increased its aid to Africa by fourfold from 300 million euros to 1.4 billion euros. The next Spain-Africa Women for a Better World conference will take place in Namibia. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Inquiry Into Lobby Money for U.S. Medal to Aznar

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 29 — The Spanish Tribunal de Cuentas has launched an investigation into “bookkeeping responsibilities” regarding 2.3 million euros authorised to be spent on an American lobby approved by the Spanish cabinet in 2003 to promote the candidacy of premier at the time, José Aznar, for the prestigious U.S. Congress Gold Medal. The Spanish state auditor’s court, reports the press, sent files on the inquiry, which was opened in February, to its preliminary investigations department to verify possible bookkeeping responsibilities in the payment of American lawyer Piper Rudnick promote the candidacy for the U.S. Congress Gold Medal to the former head of state: a medal which was not even awarded to Aznar. The department responsible for preliminary investigations must now make a proposal to appoint an investigating magistrate, who will lead the investigation, to a government commission. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Dying Hospital Patient Phoned Switchboard Begging for a Drink After Nurses Said No

A patient desperate for a drink of water had to telephone the switchboard of the hospital he was being treated in to beg to see a doctor.

Derek Sauter, 60, used his mobile phone to request medical attention after his pleas for help were ignored.

But when the doctor arrived he was turned away by ward nurse Caroline Lowe, who said Mr Sauter was ‘over-reacting’ and threatened to confiscate his phone.

Eight hours later the grandfather-of-three, who was suffering with a chest infection, was dead.

Rather than offering sympathy to Susan, Mr Sauter’s wife of 41 years, Miss Lowe later told her that he could have been prosecuted for harassing the doctor on call.

Yesterday his daughter, Ruth Sauter, 42, said she was appalled at the way her father, a former administrator for the Healthcare Commission, the former NHS watchdog, had been let down by the NHS.

‘My father went into hospital for a routine chest infection, but never came out,’ said Miss Sauter, of Thurrock, Essex.

‘His condition was not life threatening and the nurses had specific instructions to keep close tabs on him.

‘But their appalling lack of care, and cruel behaviour killed my father. He should not have died that weekend; it was not his time.

‘It’s so much worse knowing that he died alone, thirsty and scared on that ward.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: RAF Fighter Jets Shadow Passenger Flights as Fears Grow of Terror Attack

RAF fighter jets have been scrambled twice in the past month as fears grow of a possible terrorist attack on passenger airliners.

The revelation comes amid reports of an increasing number of intelligence documents which claim Islamic groups are intent on a 9/11-style attack in Britain.

In the last 18 months alone, British fighters have been scrambled more than a dozen times to shadow suspect transatlantic flights.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Africa: Solar Power to Europe Under Mediterranean Sea

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, MARCH 29 — France intends to form a consortium of businesses with the task of creating a vast network of electrical lines that will run through the Mediterranean Sea to bring solar energy produced in Africa to Europe. The project, according to Le Monde, which cites a source close to the dossier, is called Transgreen, and is part of the framework of the ‘Mediterranean solar plan’ and should be announced during a meeting of energy ministers from the 43 member-countries of the Union for the Mediterranean, which will be held on May 25 in Cairo. Europe is currently connected with Africa only by one double 1,400-megawatt line that passes through the Strait of Gibraltar. The consortium’s first task will be to propose a master plan for underwater high voltage infrastructure. Transgreen will complement German company Munich Re’s Desertec project, which plans to build a group of solar plants in the Sahara desert that will cover 15% of Europe’s electricity demand for a cost of 400 billion euros over 40 years. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU: Damascus and Fez Key Cities for ‘Hammamed’

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAR 29 — Damascus in Syria and Fez in Morocco are the key cities for Hammamed, the 1,19 million euros three year project under the Eu funded Euromed Heritage IV programme. The project wants bring back to life an important element of the traditional islamic city, the hammam. This place, which is falling into disuse, according to the Enpi website ( — is historically playing an integral role in public life, serving multiple purposes — hygienic, social, and religious. “The project — Andreas Oberenzer, Hamamed deputy project coordinator, said — conducts specific actions for two selected hammams, Hammam Ammuna in Damascus and Hammam Saffarin in Fez”. Among the activities, the project is producing an architectural guide on issues for rehabilitation, and a business and management plan for hammam managers, with web-based business plan tools to ensure feasibility. “By pooling the knowledge we have accumulated — said Oberenzer — we are able to share the tools to turn hammams into successful business ventures. In this way, the good practice generated through actions on specific hammams can be extended across the region”. What are the challenges you face? “One of the main challenges — said the expert — is simply social and economic evolution. For many people, the hammam was perceived just as a bath, and now with running water in every home, it has lost its hygienic raison d’etre. At the same time, there was the religious factor: many imams raised their voices againt women using the hamman. We have worked a lot with women to rediscover rituals to break the taboo”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU-Tunisia: Visit by Fule to Boost Relations

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MARCH 29 — Today and tomorrow European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule, will pay an official visit to Tunisia, during which he will have a series of meetings with several ministers. “The ties between EU and Tunisia are strong” Fule said. “I am convinced that we will be able to further develop our bilateral relations, with the support of many positive factors and in particular the stability of the region”. Fule added that “I want to give a new impulse to our relationship, working on the basis of trust and existing mutual understanding, for a constructive, ambitious dialogue aimed at the future”. Ties between Tunisia and the EU are regulated by the association agreement, the first signed by Europe with a Mediterranean country, in 1995. The agreement includes political, economic, social, scientific and cultural cooperation and, on the long term, a free trade zone between the two parties. In the framework of technical and financial cooperation between EU and Tunisia, several financial protocols have been signed since 1980. This type of cooperation is funded, since 2007, by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), with subsidies in several fields: economy and commerce, education and employment, energy and environment, agriculture and justice. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy-Morocco: 25 Scholarships for Young Moroccans

(ANSAmed) — BASTIA UMBRA (PERUGIA), MARCH 29 — Twenty-five Moroccan students will be granted scholarships for agricultural sector training in Perugia, according to a three-year protocol of understanding signed in Bastia Umbria during Agriumbria by ADISU ( Umbria-Region Agency for the Right to University Study) head Maurizio Oliviero, Akka Ouluhaboub (director of the teacher training and research department of the Moroccan Agriculture and Sea Fisheries Ministry), and, for the Perugia Town Council, Deputy Mayor Nilo Arcudi. ADISU, after the initiatives sponsored by the Perugia town council, the city council for immigration and the Italy-Morocco association, has developed a project for cooperation and information and culture exchange with Moroccan authorities. “It is an important step for the training of young Moroccans,” said Oliviero. The Moroccan representative also spoke on the importance of agriculture in the economy of the African nation, and the implementation of the Atlantic-Green Morocco project by the Moroccan kingdom to foster internationalisation of enterprises in the agricultural, agro-food and zootechnical sectors. Among the initiatives in the works is the setting up of an Agrimed production chain in Tangiers in October, with the collaboration of Umbriafiere, the body which organises Agriumbria. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Morocco: Abu Dhabi, Search for Emir’s Brother Continues

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, MARCH 29 — Moroccan divers have continued search efforts for the brother of the emir of Abu Dhabi, Ahmed Ben Zayed al-Nahyane, for the past three days after his airplane crashed near Rabat. The incident took place on Friday when the ultralight aircraft that the sheikh was travelling on crashed into the water of the Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah artificial lake in the Bouregreg Valley. The pilot, a Spanish national, was found safe and in good health and was brought to a Rabat hospital. No trace of the sheikh has been found yet also due to mud, which is hindering the work of divers. Helicopters equipped with a system to identify metal objects underwater (the sheikh was wearing a helmet and was carrying various metal items) are taking part in the search. Ahmed Ben Zayed is the managing director of the Abud Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), which with 600 billion dollars of reserves is considered to be one of the most important sovereign wealth funds in the world. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Has the Obama Administration, Against U.S. Interests, Declared Diplomatic War on Israel?

by Barry Rubin

Up to now my view has been that the U.S. government didn’t want a crisis but merely sought to get indirect negotiations going between Israel and Palestinians in order to look good.

Even assuming this limited goal, the technique was to keep getting concessions from Israel without asking the PA to do or give anything has been foolish, but at least it was a generally rational strategy.

But now it has become reasonable to ask whether the Obama White House is running amuck on Israel, whether it is pushing friction so far out of proportion that it is starting to seem a vendetta based on hostility and ideology. And if that’s true, there is little Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or any Israeli leader can do to fix the problem.

A partial explanation of such behavior can be called, to borrow a phrase from the health law debate, a “single-payer option” as its Middle East strategy. That is, the administration seems to envision Israel paying for everything: supposedly to get the Palestinian Authority (PA) to talks, do away with any Islamist desire to carry out terrorism or revolution, keep Iraq quiet, make Afghanistan stable, and solve just about any other global problem.

What makes this U.S. tactic even more absurd is doing so at the very moment when it is coddling Syria and losing the battle for anything but the most minimal sanctions on Iran.

During his visit to Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to defuse the tension. His partners in government, we should never forget, are Defense Minister Ehud Barak, leader of the Labour Party, and President Shimon Peres, who has done more to promote Middle East peace than any other living Israeli leader.

But according to reliable sources, Obama went out of his way to be personally hostile, treating Netanyahu like some colonial minion who could be ordered around.

It is not entirely clear what demands the White House has made on Israel. Those most often mentioned are the release of more Palestinian prisoners, the permanent end of construction in the West Bank, and the permanent end to construction in parts of Jerusalem over the pre-1967 border.

Palestinian prisoners: It is ironic, given U.S. statements that Israel must “prove” its commitment to peace, that there have been so many prisoner releases in the past. Thus, Washington is not giving Israel credit for these. Moreover, many of those arrested have committed terrorism against Israeli civilians in the past and may well do so in future. Finally, releasing prisoners will not bring any gratitude from the PA or increased willingness to negotiate. If such a release is forced, the PA will merely assume that it doesn’t matter if Palestinians attrack or kill Israelis because Washington will secure the release of those captured in future without the PA having to do anything.

West Bank and Jerusalem Construction: Only five months ago, the U.S. government agreed to a temporary halt to construction and Israel’s government agreed. If this did not prove Israel’s commitment to peace—and the White House broke the deal—why should Israel assume that it will get any credit for this step either? What is its incentive for such a big concession? Such construction should give the PA an incentive to make a deal faster. But, again, if this goal is achieved by U.S. pressure, why shouldn’t the PA presume that all settlements will be removed in future by a similar mechanism without its having to make full peace and any concessions?

I won’t take space here to restate all the arguments regarding Israel’s claims to areas of Jerusalem under Jordanian rule before 1967. Note that President Clinton, in the Camp David and Clinton plan proposals in 2000, supported Israeli rule over much—though definitely not all—of east Jerusalem.

Why should the administration believe that it can press Israel to make big concessions, a: with no PA concessions; b. with its U.S. ally showing itself so unreliable that it is unlikely to credit Israel with concessions it does make or to keep agreements based on Israeli concessions; and c. at a time when the U.S. government is not workin very hard to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons campaign?

The one answer the administration gives is so factually inaccurate as to call into question—if I may coin a phrase—its analytical sanity.

Judging from the evidence, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s AIPAC speech, the administration thinks it can force Israel’s government to give in because it knows better what Israelis want than do Netanyahu, Barak, and Peres.

Actually, a poll by the highly respected Smith Research company for the Jerusalem Post, found that only 9 percent of Israeli Jews considered the administration pro-Israel, while 48 percent said it was more pro-Palestinian. To understand these figures, you have to know that most Israelis are very reluctant to say anything critical of the United States, out of genuine respect, concern not to damage relations, and speaking on the basis of their hopes.

So does the administration want to resolve this issue or to break Israel’s willpower? Is it going to keep piling on demands in hope of giving the PA so much that it will agree to talk about getting itself even more unilateral Israeli concessions? Is the goal to overthrow Netanyahu-which isn’t going to happen-or turn him into a servant who will follow orders in future-which also isn’t going to happen?

Doesn’t this U.S. government understand that if it proves itself hostile that will destroy any incentive Israel has to enter negotiations with Obama as the mediator? If he’s this much acting solely based on PA interests now, does any Israeli government want to make him the arbitor of the country’s future, deciding on its borders, security guarantees, and other existential issues? Of course not…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Tunisia-PNA: Ben Ali to Mahmoud Abbas, We Support Your Cause

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MARCH 29 — On the occasion of Earth Day, the Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ali has sent a message to Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), President of the Palestinian National Authority, to reaffirm “Tunisia’s constant, absolute and unwavering support to the Palestinian cause and to the Palestinian people in their fight for their national rights and the construction of an independent State on their territory”. In his message, Ben Ali, press agency TAP writes, urges the international community “to double its efforts for the support of the Palestinian people and to make Israel respect international legality”, that way opening the doors for a constructive peace process. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Defense: Turkish Minister Begins Talks in Qatar

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, MARCH 29 — Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, who is in Qatar to attend a defense industry fair, began talks with Qatari officials as Anatolia news agency reports. Gonul met with Qatar’s Chief of General Staff of Qatar Gen. Hamad Bin Ali Al-Attiyah as part of his talks on Sunday. Gonul will also have meetings with Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Apparent Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani. On Monday, Gonul will participate in the Doha 2nd International Maritime Defense Exhibition & Conference (Dimdex 2010). The three-day exhibition to begin on Monday will host 129 companies from 26 countries, including 16 firms from Turkey. Meanwhile, Turkish Naval Forces Commander Adm. Ugur Yigit also arrived in Doha to take part in the exhibition. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Dubai: British Man Faces Six Months in Dubai Jail for Making Offensive Gesture at Iraqi Student

A British man is facing six months in a Dubai jail for making an offensive gesture towards an Iraqi.

Simon Andrews, 56, is said to have lost his temper during an argument with aviation student Mahmud Rasheed.

Mr Rasheed complained to police and the Briton was arrested for outraging public decency and has been banned from leaving the country as he awaits trial.

But eight months on the trial was adjourned until April 4 after Mr Rasheed failed to appear to give evidence against Mr Andrews.

A court source told the Sun: ‘Mr Andrews says the offensive gesture never happened. The Iraqi has never appeared in court to testify against him and there are no witnesses.

‘Mr Andrews has told the court there is no evidence he did anything wrong and that it is Mr Rasheed’s word against his.

‘He has been banned from leaving the country and has been warned he could be jailed then deported.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy-Syria: Trade in Decline

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, MARCH 29 — Italian exports to Syria in 2009 totalled 717.1 million euros, a 30.4% decrease, while imports from Syria totalled 421.3 million euros, a sharper decrease of 48.5%, according to Italian national statistics institute (ISTAT) data from the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE) office in Damascus. However, consideration of the difficult economic trend seen at the international level should be taken into account in assessing the figures. The drop in Italian exports was due to the 70.3% decrease in refined oil exports, the value of which went from 386.8 million euros in 2008 to 114.9 in 2009, a consequence both of the drop in crude oil prices and the slow-down in the global trend. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey and Syria to Cooperate in Science & Technology

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, MARCH 29 — Turkey and Syria would work together on science and technology areas besides social and cultural relations, Anatolia news agency reports quoting Turkish State Minister Mehmet Aydin as saying. Aydin told reporters that he had participated in Turkey-Syria 1st Scientific Researches Forum that continued three days in Syria, adding that he had held meetings with Syrian president, vice president and other officials, and those meetings were very fruitful. Aydin said that the second forum would take place in Gebze town of Turkish province of Kocaeli in May, adding that Syrian scientists would attend the meeting at the High Technology Institute. Friendship Dam, which would be built by Turkey and Syria on River Asi, would solve irrigation problem in agriculture of the two countries, Aydin said and added that lifting of visa between Turkey and Syria and the Friendship Dam would help Turkey’s integration with Syria. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


‘Black Widow’ Suicide Cell Suspected in Metro Blasts

Moscow, 29 March (AKI) — Russian security services said they believe a gang of so-called ‘black widow’ Muslim extremists could be behind Monday’s twin attacks by female suicide bombers on Moscow’s underground which killed at least 38 people and injured over 60. It was the first major act of terrorism in the Russian capital since 2004.

Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) told Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev in an emergency meeting at the Kremlin that the bombers were probably ‘black widows’ women radicalised by a security crackdown in the northern Caucasus region, which includes Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.

‘Black widows’ have usually lost their husbands, brothers or close relatives in one of the two Chechen wars Russia fought in against Islamist rebels since 1994 and can be recruited by Islamist militant groups with relative ease.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Federal prosecutors said they had opened an investigation into “suspected acts of terrorism”.

Detectives were said to be preparing to publish CCTV images in an attempt to track down the accomplices of the two bombers, whose explosives belts were packed with bolts and iron rods to maximise death and injury.

The bombers have been identified from surveillance video filmed inside the underground trains, sources were cited as telling Russia’s Interfax news agency. Recordings from other cameras installed in the halls and crossings of Moscow Metro stations had pinpointed two other women and a man, according to Interfax.

Fragments of the two women suicide bombers’ bodies, including the head of ‘a young woman’ and the remains of ‘an older woman,’ were recovered from the underground.

The first blast occurred about 8 a.m. at Lubyanka subway station. Another blast happened about 30 minutes later at Park Kultury station, on the same train line.

Past suicide bombings in the capital have been carried out by or blamed on Islamist rebels fighting for independence from Russia in Chechnya.

Prime minister Vladimir Putin cut short a visit to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk and said a crime that was “terrible in its consequences and heinous in its manner” had been committed.

World leaders have condemned the attacks. US president Barack Obama described them as heinous, British prime minister Gordon Brown said that such acts could never be justified and France’s president Nicholas Sarkozy expressed France’s “total solidarity” with Russia.

Russia’s military have scored a series of successes against militants in recent weeks. In February, at least 20 insurgents were reportedly killed in an operation by Russian security forces in Ingushetia.

At least 39 people died in a bomb attack on Moscow’s metro in February 2004, while six months later a suicide bomber killed ten people outside a station. Moscow blamed Chechen rebels on both attacks.

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

Hunt for ‘Black Widow’ Terror Gang After Female Suicide Bombers Kill at Least 37 in Bomb Attacks on Moscow Trains

Police in Moscow were tonight searching for female accomplices of two women suicide bombers who killed at least 37 people and injured 65 by targeting two packed tube trains during the busy rush hour.

President Dmitry Medvedev declared Russia would act ‘without compromise’ to root out terrorists as he ordered airports to be put on alert and security to be stepped up throughout the country.

The two bombs are the worst attack on the Russian capital for six years and no group has yet claimed responsibility.

But suspicion has fallen on Muslim militants from the North Caucasus, where the Kremlin is fighting a growing Islamist insurgency spreading from Chechnya to neighbouring Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, said the terrorists were likely to have been ‘black widows’, Muslim women radicalised by the situation in the North Caucasus.

‘Body parts belonging to two female suicide bombers were found and, according to initial data, these persons are linked to the north Caucasus,’ he said.

Police are tonight expected to publish CCTV images of the suicide bombers, along with two women of ‘Slav appearance’ who accompanied them.

Witnesses spoke of panic at the two underground stations this morning after the blasts as people fell over each other in dense smoke and dust, trying to escape.

In scenes that will have been chillingly familiar to Londoners after the July 7 bombings in 2005, bloodied and injured passengers emerged onto the streets looking bewildered.

The first explosion tore through the second carriage of a metro train just before 8am as it stood at the Lubyanka station, close to the headquarters of Russia’s main domestic security service FSB. It killed at least 23 people.

About 40 minutes later, another blast in the second carriage of a train waiting at the Park Kultury metro station, opposite Gorky Park, killed 12 to 14 more people.

Both bombers wore explosive belts packed with bolts and iron rods to maximise casualties.

The bombers have believed to have been identified from surveillance videos inside the Red Arrow underground trains.

Analysis of footage from other cameras in Moscow Metro stations has also helped identify the faces of two women and a man.

The report also quoted a source saying earlier that the female suicide bombers boarded the train at Yugo-Zapadnaya station in southwest Moscow.

One passenger told the RIA news agency: ‘I was in the middle of the train when somewhere in the first or second carriage there was a loud blast. I felt the vibrations reverberate through my body.

‘People were yelling like hell. There was a lot of smoke and in about two minutes everything was covered in smoke.’

Another called Alexei added: ‘I was moving up on the escalator when I heard a loud bang, a blast. A door near the passage way arched, was ripped out and a cloud of dust came down on the escalator.

‘People started running, panicking, falling on each other,’ he said.

Some of the injured were airlifted to emergency hospitals in helicopters.

Dozens of commuters were helped from each station to waiting ambulances.

Surveillance camera footage posted on the internet showed several motionless bodies lying on the floor or slumped against the wall in Lubyanka station lobby and emergency workers crouched over victims, trying to treat them.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov told reporters that female suicide bombers had carried out the attacks.

Prosecutors said they had opened a ‘terrorism investigation’ after forensic experts found the remains of a female bomber.

The Russian rouble fell to 34.25 from 34.13 against the central bank’s euro-dollar basket, on concern the blasts could indicate the start of a bombing campaign against Russian cities.

Russian equity markets were little changed, with the rouble denominated MICEX index up 0.04 percent.

Medvedev ordered officials to fight terrorism ‘without hesitation, to the end’.

In a nod to accusations of Russian troops acting with brutality against civilians in Chechnya, he said human rights must be respected during police operations.

The President will make a statement to the nation later today, according to a Kremlin source. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is being updated regularly on developments.

Gordon Brown was ‘appalled’ by the attacks and has sent a message of ‘condolence and support’ to Medvedev, Downing Street said.

The current death toll makes it the worst attack on Moscow since February 2004, when a suicide bombing killed at least 39 people and wounded more than 100 on a metro train.

Chechen separatists were blamed for that attack and suspicions are likely to focus on the North Caucasus where rebel leader Doku Umarov, who is fighting for an Islamic emirate embracing the whole region, vowed on Feb 15 to take the war to Russian cities.

‘Blood will no longer be limited to our (Caucasus) cities and towns. The war is coming to their cities,’ the Chechen rebel leader said in an interview on the unofficial Islamist website.

The Chechen rebellion began in the 1990s as a largely ethnic nationalist movement, fired by a sense of injustice over the transportation of Chechens to Central Asia, with enormous loss of life, by dictator Josef Stalin.

In recent years, Russian officials say Islamic militants from outside Russia have joined the campaign lending it a new intensity.

Russian leaders had declared victory in their battle with Chechen separatists who fought two wars with Moscow.

But while violence subsided in Chechnya, it has spread and intensified in neighbouring Dagestan and Ingushetia, where clan rivalries overlap with criminal gangs and Islamist militants.

Vladimir Putin cemented his power in 1999 in launching an ultimately successful war to overthrow a separatist government lodged in the Chechen capital Grozny.

Russian leaders fear the loss of this region endangering energy transit routes could destabilise other areas in a country spanning 11 time zones.

‘I was in the middle of the train when somewhere in the first or second carriage there was a loud blast. I felt the vibrations reverberate through my body,’ an unidentified man who was on the train at Park Kultury told RIA news agency in a video interview.

The Moscow subway system is one of the world’s busiest, carrying around seven million passengers on an average workday, and is a key element in running the sprawling and traffic-choked city.

The blasts practically paralysed movement on the city centre’s main roads, as emergency vehicles sped to the stations.

Helicopters hovered overhead the Park Kultury station area, which is next to the city’s renowned Gorky Park.

Passengers, many of them in tears, streamed out of the station, one man exclaiming over and over: ‘This is how we live!’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Russia: Bombs Kill Dozens on Moscow Metro

Moscow, 29 March(AKI) — At least 37 people were killed and dozens more injured Monday when two suspected suicide bombs exploded on Moscow’s metro system during the peak of morning rush hour.

The first blast occurred about 8 a.m. at Lubyanka subway station. That explosion killed 25 people — 14 aboard the train and 11 on the platform.

The Lubyanka station is near the Kremlin and the nation’s intelligence service, the Federal Security Service.

Another blast happened about 30 minutes later at Park Kultury station, on the same train line. The Emergency Situations Ministry reported 12 dead in the second explosion. Russian TV said the blast killed 15 people and injured at least 10 others.

Authorities in the Russian capital have declared them “terrorist” incidents.

Moscow’s chief prosecutor, Yuri Syomin, told reporters that preliminary reports indicated the incident at Lubyanka was a suicide bombing.

“We can assume that belts with explosive devices were attached to their bodies,” he said. “The scenario was similar at Park Kultury.”

Moscow’s mayor said investigators believed the suicide bombers were women.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, currently on a state visit to Siberia, is “receiving detailed information from security agencies and social services about the work on helping the victims”, a spokesman said.

Russia’s military have scored a series of successes against militants in recent weeks. In February, at least 20 insurgents were reportedly killed in an operation by Russian security forces in Ingushetia.

At least 39 people died in a bomb attack on Moscow’s metro in February 2004, while six months later a suicide bomber killed ten people outside a station. Moscow blamed Chechen rebels on both attacks.

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

Far East

Ford Sends Volvo to China’s Geely for $1.8 Billion

With continued strong growth and highly competitive companies, China has been trying to press into global markets. However, the politics of growth can get difficult — not to mention the cultural issues.

On Sunday, a pivotal deal got done that highlights China’s growing power: Zhejiang Geely Holding announced it has agreed to pay $1.8 billion for Volvo Cars, which is a part of Ford Motor (F). The transaction consists of $1.6 billion in cash and a $200 million note.

As a result, Ford will have some fresh capital to pay down its massive debt load and to focus more on its core operations. Over the past few years, Ford has also sold Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover.

Into Another League

Despite the tough recession, Volvo has continued to innovate and maintain its reputation for quality and safety. For example, the company is going to launch the 2011 S60 sedan, which competes with the BMW 3-series and the Infiniti G37. And as China’s population gets more affluent, demand will certainly rise for cars like the S60. According to a study from J.D. Power and Associates, the luxury car market spiked 29% in China last year.

But the competitive landscape is fierce, with players like BMW, Lexus, Mercedes and Audi all jostling for market share. Keep in mind that Volvo sold only 22,405 cars in the country in 2009.

However, for Geely’s ambitious founder Li Shufu — who’s called China’s Henry Ford — the deal brings tremendous opportunity. He has the goal of selling 200,000 Volvos in China by 2015. To do so, Li plans to build a new plant and find ways to leverage his low-cost business model.

Lingering Questions

Despite the enthusiasm, Geely still faces many challenges. The company is ranked #11 in China and has certainly had difficulties with the Chinese government. In fact, Geely has little experience selling into foreign markets. To help things out, Geely will maintain Volvo’s current management as well as its R&D and manufacturing operations. On its face, this makes sense. But then again, Volvo hasn’t necessarily been a case study in financial success. Last year, it posted a loss of $934 million.

Other major issues include the tough European unions and the complex sourcing arrangements with Ford (such as with the development of powertrains).

Finally, the history of cross-border deals has been dreadful, as seen with mergers like Daimler-Chrysler and GM-Saab. Ford paid $6.5 billion in Volvo in 1999, and despite extensive efforts, it wasn’t able to make the deal work. So, Geely’s acquisition of Volvo now won’t be likely be as simple as a Sunday drive.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Rio Tinto Employees Sentenced in Chinese Bribery Case

Four employees of the British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, including an Australian citizen, were convicted by a Chinese court on Monday and sentenced to seven to 14 years in prison for accepting millions of dollars in bribes and stealing commercial secrets.

The case has drawn international attention and even led to diplomatic wrangling between China and Australia over concerns that the four employees had been arrested on trumped up charges and questions about whether they could get a fair trial.

[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghaddafi Urges Nigeria Split Into Ethnic States

Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi, who enraged Abuja after suggesting Nigeria be partitioned between Muslims and Christians, has now proposed the country is carved into “many” ethnic states, a report said Monday.

His comment followed violent clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs that killed hundreds of people around the central Nigerian city of Jos and prompted Nigeria’s government to question whether Libya might be sponsoring the violence.

“In fact, Nigeria’s problems cannot be resolved by dividing the country into two states, Christian and Muslim,” Ghaddafi was quoted as saying by the official Jana news agency.

Like the former Yugoslavia, he said, Nigeria comprises “other populations who want independence” without religious considerations.

He cited “the Yoruba people in the east and south who demand independence, the Ibo people in the west and south” as well as the Ijaws.

“Nigeria … resembles the Yugoslav union which included several peoples, like Nigeria, and then these people gained independence and the Yugoslav union was ended in peace,” said Gaddafi. “The model that fits Nigeria is the Yugoslav one.”

The Libyan leader said earlier this month Nigeria should be partitioned between the Christian and Muslim communities to end its sectarian violence.

He proposed that it should follow the partition model of Pakistan, which was born in 1947 after the Muslim minority of predominantly Hindu India founded their own homeland, led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

“Irresponsible utterances”

Ghaddafi, until recently head of the African Union, had suggested a Christian homeland in the south with Lagos as its capital and a Muslim homeland in the north with Abuja as its principal city.

The remarks enraged Nigeria which recalled its ambassador to Tripoli over what it said was Ghaddafi’s “irresponsible utterances” which had made a mockery of his calls for African integration and unity.

The Libyan leader’s comments had “diminished his status and credibility,” said foreign ministry spokesman Ozo Nwobu, reading from a strongly worded statement which expressed the government’s “very serious concern”.

The statement also accused Ghaddafi of “theatrics and grandstanding at every auspicious occasion”.

Nigeria’s 140 million population is almost equally divided between Muslims and Christians.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


20 Million Americans Unemployed: Case for Immigration Moratorium

In the winter publication of The Social Contract, , notable economist Edwin S. Rubenstein, president of ESR Research, wrote, “The Economic Case for a Moratorium.” Vol.XX, No.2, Winter 2009-10, The Social Contract Quarterly.

In it Rubenstein said of earlier immigration, “In economic terms, immigration was a win-win proposition—benefiting immigrants as well as natives. Our immigration policy reflected this…until the 1920s there were no limits on immigration. Eventually the frontier vanished and American lives became overcrowded. Our physical capacity to absorb new arrivals eroded. Immigration became a zero sum game: the gains accruing to immigrants were more than offset by losses suffered by natives.”

Today, in March 2010, over 20 million Americans cannot procure a job, but the U.S. Congress imports over 100,000 legal immigrants every 30 days. At the same time, 35 million, yes, you read that number correctly, 35,000,000 Americans subsist on food stamps because they cannot secure a job. CBS’ Katie Couric reported that 13.4 million American children live in poverty.

Yet, as we import millions of immigrants, they record even more children.

“In 2000, native-born Americans averaged 13 births per 1,000 population, while immigrants averaged more than 28 births per thousands,” said Rubenstein.


“This gargantuan rate of increase since 1965, [100 million people added to USA in 40 years], has led to an immigration disaster that adds an immigration dimension to every public issue—government debts, health care, the housing bubble, crime, school overcrowding and cost of living,” said Rubenstein. “Nowhere is the immigration employment more evident than in employment. Nearly eight million jobs vanished since December 2007. Economists estimated 100,000 new jobs must be created each month just to absorb new labor force entrants.”

Tell me how we can put to work 20 million unemployed American workers by only adding 100,000 jobs monthly when we add 100,000 immigrants every 30 days. As a math teacher, I can tell you unequivocally, it doesn’t add up; it cannot be done; and in the end—it means we are screwing ours own citizens.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

IOM to Open Office in Cyprus, Minister Says

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, MARCH 29 — The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which is based in Switzerland, will open an office in Cyprus this year, as CNA reports quoting Cyprus’ Minister of the Interior Neoclis Sylikiotis as saying. The IOM, Sylikiotis added, supports programs of voluntary return of refugees to their homelands. Speaking at a press conference on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, observed annually on 21 March, Sylikiotis said that the government will continue efforts to proceed with policies that combat racism and xenophobia. He added that government immigration policy aims to deal with growing challenges, as well as increasing opportunities as a result of the great immigration flow into Cyprus. Replying to questions, he said that in Cyprus there are around 70,000 immigrants from third countries, non EU members, adding that 35,000 of them are housemaids. Regarding asylum seekers, he said that the government has managed to combat successfully the abuse of the asylum system, adding that there are now less than 1.000 asylum seekers, while in 2008 their number reached 8.500. Sylikiotis said that the majority of asylum seekers are Palestinians and Kurds. He noted that most illegal immigrants come to the southern government controlled areas of Cyprus through the northern Turkish occupied areas, which have been under the control of Ankara since Turkish troops invaded in 1974. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Diana West: The Enforcer

In two posts at Commentary magazine’s blog Contentions (“I Make No Apology, Ms. West” and “A Rare Praise for Andrew Sullivan”), Max Boot still hasn’t addressed a single point from my analysis of David Petraeus’ 1) written Senate testimony 2) spoken Senate testimony or 3) non-denial denial, all of which are in sync with the Arabist outlook that sees Israel at the center of the galaxy of ills that afflict the Middle East region and wider world. Recap below.

Now, however, in order to duck his due admission of nolo contendere, Boot has declared my arguments inadmissable in his”ideological precincts.” Like a cop — or, better — like a commissar on the beat, Boot is now enforcing thought-purity on the Right. Why? You might think it’s because I wuffled his feathers, but his answer is: “I do believe there is a duty to police one’s own ideological precincts….”

Does he now? What is this, New Masses magazine, and I’m Albert Maltz and he’s John Howard Lawson? (Look it up, kids.)

After basically calling me a liar for the second time — all smears, no evidence — he concludes:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Following the Herd: Fear Dictates What Music Teenagers Listen to

It’s no secret that peer pressure influences many teenagers’ lives.

But a new study has found that adolescents choose to listen to music that has been approved of by their peers rather than because they like it.

The study looked at teenagers listening to music on social networking sites such as MySpace, where a song’s popularity can be gauged by how many times it has been downloaded.

The results suggest that if their musical choices do not match those of others, their brains recoil in fear.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]