Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100403

Financial Crisis
»Greece: Privatisation Programme Ready to Start
»Greece: Privatisations, Investor Wanted for Railways
»10,000 Flowers Sent to Netanyahu After White House ‘Ambush’
»Army Suggests Brain Scan for Eligibility Challenger
»Lawmakers Ripped Over 9/11 Mosque Fundraiser
»Marine Base Can’t Censor Criticism of Muhammad
»More States Sue EPA as Agency Issues First Climate Change Regulations
»Palm Sunday With Rev. Jeremiah Wright
»Sarah Palin Blasts President Obama’s Oil Drilling Decision
»To Some Brave Danes, Thank You
»Tom Tancredo: Death and Dishonor in Cochise County
»US Begins “Seen and Unseen” Profiling of Air Travelers
»Toronto Muslims Scream “We Want Another Holocaust” At Jewish Protesters (Video)
Europe and the EU
»Drunken Norwegians Storm Strömstad
»France: Police Escorts for Buses Following Banlieue Blazes
»France: Important Investments by Italian Firms
»Germany: Church Admits Abuse Victims Came Second
»Italy: Fastweb, Sparkle Avoid Administration
»Italy: Tradition of Large Family Feasts No Longer Reality
»Poland: The Tygodnik Powszechny Has Just Turned 65
»Spain: Historical Memory, ‘No’ To Caudillo Square
»Spain: Iberia Protest on Runway, Workers Sentenced to 2 Years
»UK: 4.20pm Update: English Defence League and UAF Dudley Protests: Seven Arrested
»UK: Betrayed: Iraq Hero is Placed Behind Criminals in Queue for a Home
»UK: Cancer Patients Denied 15 Life-Saving Drugs by NHS Rationing Body
»UK: Police Left Stumped Over £10k Watch Theft… As DNA Found at Scene Belongs to Identical Twins
»UK: Power of the Pupils: Child ‘Spies’ Allowed to Sabotage the Careers of Teachers
»UK: Seven Arrested Over Rival Protests in Dudley
»UK: Triple Murderer Demands Thousands of Pounds From Prison Staff Over ‘Breach of Human Rights’
»Vatican Newspaper on Vulgar Propaganda Against Pope
»Bosnia: CPT Asks to Improve Poor State of Prisons
»Serbia: Foreign Office, Srebrenica Move Step Towards EU
North Africa
»Egypt: Parliament Debate Antiquities Bill Next Week
»Reconcile Faith and Reason, Workshop in Algiers
Israel and the Palestinians
»Air Raid: Hamas Asks Armed Groups to Use Caution
»Gaza: Israel Retaliates Against Qassam Launch
»Gaza: Rocket Fired at Ashqelon, No Victims
»Raid in Gaza: Another Hamas-Israel Face-Off
Middle East
»Desert Spreading Like Cancer in Middle East
»Elbaradei Hits Out at West’s Support to Repressive Regimes
»Iraqis in Military Uniforms Kill 24 in Sunni Area
»Pirates ‘Attack Italian Ship’ Near Oman
»Saudi Conference Condemns Extremism, Embraces Shari’a
»The Offensive of the Muslim Scholars on Terrorism
»Bombing a Prelude to Islamic Emirate?
»In the Arms of Her Militant Husband, The Baby-Faced ‘Black Widow’ Who ‘Blew Herself Up on the Moscow Metro’
»Russian Media Agrees… US Moving Rapidly Towards Soviet Style Economy
South Asia
»Czech Military Presents Artillery Radar for Afghanistan
Sub-Saharan Africa
»At the Mercy of the Machete Mob: The Terrifying Isolation and Almost Suicidal Courage of Zimbabwe’s White Farmers
»South Africa: President Zuma Visits ‘White’ Slums
»South African White Supremacist Leader Eugene Terre’blanche ‘Hacked to Death at Home at Home by Workers’
Latin America
»‘Mexican Rebel’ Really an Italian
»Australia: ‘G’day Mate, Can You Give US a Lift?’ Cheeky Asylum Seekers Phone Australian Police From Boat to Ask to be Taken Ashore
»France: Migrants: Toward Harsher Measures, Associations Protest
»Italy: From Eritrea to San Lupo, A Generous Village Near Naples
Culture Wars
»Italy: Abortion Pill Distributed Amid ‘Emotional Climate’
»Italy: Northern League’s Regional Presidents Reject RU486 — “Not in Our Hospitals” Says Zaia
»Spain: Employer Faces Prison for Urging Abortion
»A Superstorm for Global Warming Research
»Amnesty International Condones Jihad?

Financial Crisis

Greece: Privatisation Programme Ready to Start

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 2 — The privatisation programme will be announced soon, while the bill on the implementation of the European directive on the so-called “closed professions” (like notaries and pharmacists) has already been presented in the Greek parliament. Greece’s Finance Minister, Giorgos Papaconstantinou, said this in an interview in the newspaper Imerisia. Talking about the spread applied by the markets in the case of Greece, the Minister said that “the debt is not reduced, and confidence is not boosted by lies”, accusing the previous government of hiding, instead of resolving, the country’s problems. Regarding the support mechanism of the euro, Papaconstantinou spoke of a great success of Greece and the Eurozone. He explained that “Greece needed a ‘credible threat’, against those who have taken advantage of our country’s difficult situation, but also a web of confidence”. This mechanism, he added, “exists already, but Greece doesn’t intend to use it”. Regarding the parliament bill on the tax reform that will be discussed in parliament after Easter, the Minister underlined that the government wants to put an end to impunity through this move. The reform will make it possible to close activities that systematically evade taxes. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Privatisations, Investor Wanted for Railways

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 2 — The partial privatisation of Trainose — the company that manages the operating section of Greece’s national railways — and the increase in value of property owned by OSE, the company responsible for the maintenance of the trains, are at the centre of a privatisation programme for 2010, which will begin with large railway stations. With the State’s main objective to raise around 2.5 billion pounds from the privatisation, the Finance Minister, Giorgios Papaconstantinou, will launch the project after Easter, according to the newspaper Kathimerini. Among Trainose’s objectives, the paper says, is the rationalisation of human resources — which could result in staff being halved — in order to stop generating deficit. Beyond Trainose, the Ministry is also weighing up the increase in value of OSE property, with the potential sale of stations to private buyers. At first, the move would concern a few railway stations such as those at Salonika and Larissa. In this case, control will remain with the State, while the private buyer, with the increase in the new company’s share capital, will be in charge of station development. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


10,000 Flowers Sent to Netanyahu After White House ‘Ambush’

‘Obama needs to wake up and smell the roses; Americans stand with Israel’

Americans are reportedly sending nearly 10,000 yellow roses to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a sign of friendship following what the effort’s organizers are calling “the worst treatment from any president in American history.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Army Suggests Brain Scan for Eligibility Challenger

Flight surgeon questions Obama’s right to be commander in chief

The U.S. Army is — unofficially — suggesting a brain scan and medical evaluation for an officer who announced he would refuse to follow further orders until and unless President Obama documents his constitutional eligibility to be commander in chief.

A spokeswoman for the developing case of Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, a flight surgeon with 18 years in the service, said the recommendation came to Lakin today from an officer whose name was not being used who implied that those higher up the chain of command thought it was a good idea.

The suggestion was described to WND by spokeswoman Margaret Calhoun Hemenway, a veteran Washington appointee and now volunteer spokeswoman, as being presented in a “solicitous” manner.

Officially, the U.S. Army says it has no plans for formal action at this point against the officer. But the controversy also raises the prospect that the government may be unwilling to pursue a prosecution because of the possible ramifications — including a defense demand for a court-ordered discovery process that would target Obama’s historical documentation.

As WND reported, Lakin is an active-duty flight surgeon charged with caring for Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey’s pilots and air crew.

The top-ranking, highly decorated officer says he’s refusing all orders until Obama releases his long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate to prove his eligibility to serve as commander in chief.

“I feel I have no choice but the distasteful one of inviting my own court martial,” Lakin said in a statement. “The Constitution matters. The truth matters.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Lawmakers Ripped Over 9/11 Mosque Fundraiser

Democrat congressmen ‘trashed their oath to protect U.S.’

An anti-jihad watchdog group has slammed two U.S. lawmakers for breaking their oath to protect the country by agreeing to appear as special guests at a fundraising dinner Saturday night for a radical Saudi-funded mosque tied to the 9/11 hijackers and the Fort Hood shooter, among other Islamic terrorists.

Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Jim Moran, D-Va., have “trashed their oath to protect and defend the U.S.” by agreeing to attend the annual banquet for Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, a large mosque in Falls Church, Va., a suburb of Washington, according to the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force, or VAST.

The group also criticized Virginia Democrat Gov. Tim Kaine for agreeing to attend the event, while praising Democrat Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia for withdrawing from the event following complaints from concerned constituents.

“While brave young Virginia men and women are risking their lives to fight terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, Connolly, Moran and Kaine are yucking it up with them and slapping each other on the back over at the Marriott,” charged VAST Chairman James Lafferty.

He noted that the three politicians’ campaign war chests are heavily funded by radical Islamists who support the mosque.

“Look at their Federal Election Commission reports,” Lafferty said. “These spineless politicians are owned and operated by the radical Islamists and their sinister front groups.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Marine Base Can’t Censor Criticism of Muhammad

‘Pro-Islamic messages … may be just as incendiary as anti-Islamic messages’

A federal judge has permanently banned officials at Camp LeJeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina from censoring bumper stickers and window decals critical of Islam and its prophet, Muhammad.

The ruling came in the case of a civilian employee who had served 25 years in the Marines including two combat tours in Vietnam before he retired.

Jesse Nieto lost his youngest son, Marc, in the Oct. 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole by Islamic terrorists and subsequently carried bumper stickers and decals critical of the violence of Islam, including “We died, they rejoiced,” “Islam = Terrorism” and a picture of Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes cartoon fame, urinating on a cartoon illustration of Muhammad.

The camp base ordered the criticisms of Islam censored, and when Nieto refused, brought court action against him.

Yesterday’s ruling from Senior U.S. District Judge Malcom J. Howard reversed the order.

“Because defendants have applied Base Traffic Regulation BO 5560.2M … in a manner that discriminates against plaintiff’s message, they have violated his individual rights as protected by the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the judge wrote.


Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, which worked on Neito’s case, said, “Political correctness is destroying our military. Nine-eleven was caused by Islamic terrorists, and our troops are being killed by Islamic terrorists overseas and on our very own military bases; yet, our commanders are more concerned about ‘diversity’ and not offending the Muslim community. And here, the military re-victimized a father anguishing over the murder of his son by Islamic terrorists because they don’t want to offend Muslims.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Militia Member is a Democrat

Most indicted members of militia group are voters

Most of the indicted militia members accused of being anti-government extremists have active voting records, a check with area voter registration offices showed yesterday. One is a registered Democrat, and the party affiliations of the rest could not be determined.

Jacob J. Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio, voted as a Democrat in the 2004 and 2008 primary elections. He also voted in 10 other elections since 2000. Party affiliation in Ohio is determined by which party’s ballot they requested in the most recent primary election.

[Return to headlines]

More States Sue EPA as Agency Issues First Climate Change Regulations

The battle over global warming escalated this week with the Environmental Protection Agency issuing its first rules ever on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions even as more states lined up to legally challenge the new regulations.

On Thursday, the heads of the Transportation Department and the EPA signed final rules setting fuel efficiency standards for model years 2012-2016, with a goal of achieving by 2016 the equivalent of 35.5 miles per gallon combined for cars and trucks, an increase of nearly 10 mpg over current standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The rules come after 12 states joined petitions filed by Virginia, Alabama and Texas against the EPA for ruling in December that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide endanger human health — a ruling that cleared the path for the agency to start issuing mandatory regulations to reduce them.

“While we made the decision to intervene based on what was in the best interests of Virginia and her citizens, it is gratifying to have the support of so many other states,” Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli said recently in a written statement.

The lawsuit seeks to force the EPA to reopen hearings on its December finding or block the regulations.

The states argue that the EPA’s finding depends on faulty data from the U.N.’s climate science panel, which included information that overstated the melting of Himalayan glaciers.

“The original proponents of man-made global warming now admit that there is no scientific evidence that the Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035, or that the seas are rising due to warming, or that African agriculture will collapse by 2020 — all predictions that have formed the central narrative for climate action,” Cuccinelli said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Palm Sunday With Rev. Jeremiah Wright

The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing “God Bless America.” No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.

~ Jeremiah Wright (2003 sermon)

As I drove up to Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit last Sunday, I knew something big was going to happen this day. How did I know? Because I couldn’t get a parking place within three blocks of the church. What was going on?

I got my answer as I looked at who was seated in the pulpit: none other than the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, pastor Emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, Ill., whose church Barack and Michelle Obama attended for 20 years as members.

My pastor, the Rev. Dr. Charles G. Adams, and Jeremiah Wright have been very good friends for over 35 years. Both pastors came of age during the 1960s and the civil-rights era. Both pastors are big-city liberal Democrats, believers in redistributive wealth, unionism, social justice and liberation theology — applying Marxist politics and economic philosophy to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Initially, as I listened to Dr. Wright with my 13-year-old son, Stone, using his Bible, I was expecting a non-political, non-controversial sermon, but that was a fool’s dream. Rev. Wright’s messaged was titled, “What You Can’t See!” based on the following passage from 2 Kings 6:8-17:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sarah Palin Blasts President Obama’s Oil Drilling Decision

Writing in National Review Online, she said that “behind the rhetoric lie new drilling bans and leasing delays; soon to follow are burdensome new environmental regulations. Instead of ‘drill, baby, drill,’ the more you look into this, the more you realize it’s ‘stall, baby, stall,’“ Palin wrote.


“I’ve got to call it like I see it,” she wrote. “The administration’s sudden interest in offshore drilling is little more than political posturing designed to gain support for job-killing energy legislation soon to come down the pike. I’m confident that GOP senators will not take the bait.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

To Some Brave Danes, Thank You

Sometimes the hardest thing to find is the person you want to thank.

What began as a casual hallway conversation between two Minneapolis lawyers has turned into a small-scale international search for Danish fishermen who helped rescue Jews during World War II. The obstacles include the passage of time — 67 years to be exact — and a well-deserved cultural reputation for stoicism and modesty.

In October 1943, in German-occupied Denmark, Danish Jews were about to be rounded up and deported to concentration camps. But, in one of the few upbeat chapters of the Holocaust story, an underground network rallied to coordinate a massive boat lift of 7,200 Jews from Denmark across the Oresund Strait to nearby neutral Sweden.

Danish fishermen risked their lives by cramming Jewish families into the holds of hundreds of small fishing boats. It’s estimated that all but about 450 Jews found freedom.

The legend of the Danish boat lift has resonated with Jews. Children in Hebrew school learn that they should appreciate the Danes, even if they are not clear why. One of the most famous boats used in the rescue — the “02” — is part of the permanent exhibition of the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

It’s also a reason Mark Savin had a Danish flag in his garage in St. Paul. He read about the boat lift in an article in the New Yorker magazine and decided to hold a party to commemorate the event, a celebration and acknowledgement of the Danes’ sacrifices.

“It was a way to say, ‘Thank you,’ to the Danes as one Jew,” said Savin, 64, an attorney with Faegre and Benson.

He got to talking with fellow lawyer Rikke Dierssen-Morice, 47, who has been working as the co-chair of the fundraising committee for the local Danish American Community Center. Built in 1924, the former retirement home nestled along River Road in Minneapolis is the subject of ambitious plans to expand into a Danish cultural center for the Upper Midwest. They decided to use the boat lift as a dual event for the Twin Cities’ Danish and Jewish communities, with a fundraiser celebration planned for May 16 to honor the Danish rescue.

The fishy odor of freedom

Now they need to find some Danish rescuers.

Two boat-lift survivors are already scheduled to speak, including Gustav Goldberger, who was a 9-year-old boy when he fled in the darkness with his parents and three brothers, wading out into the frigid October waters to stow away in the hold of a tiny boat. A trip that normally took an hour lasted three times as long as the fisherman masked his actions to appear that he was going about his daily business. They never learned his name and never saw him again.

To this day, freedom smells like fish for Goldberger.

“We were helped from that hole and my father, being a cantor, started to sing a prayer of thankfulness for being in Sweden,” said Goldberger, now 75 and a retired Maryland attorney. “We didn’t know it then, but it was very well planned by the local Gentiles in the community. Here’s a country where they could have treated the Jews like they did in Poland and elsewhere, with total disrespect.

“But in Denmark it was just the reverse. This was Denmark’s way of telling the Germans to go to hell. ‘The Danish Jews are Danes and we’re going to take care of them,’ and that’s exactly what they did.”

Now, the search is on for a fisherman or a relative to tell their side of the boat-lift story — and to accept the gratitude from a receptive audience.

The Danish center has a small amount of funding to bring someone to Minneapolis. They’ve made attempts to locate a participant, hoping that the longevity of the Danes might mean a young fisherman in 1943 might still be alive.

Even in the age of the Internet, their attempts so far have proved fruitless. They’ve published requests for survivors and participants in the Danish Pioneer, a U.S. newspaper published for Danish immigrants. They’ve met with the curators of museums in Denmark who have agreed to provide materials for the celebration but have been unable to locate rescuers.

“Finding people who actually participated in 1943 has been really tough,” Dierssen-Morice said. “Obviously, the age of those who participated is a huge challenge for us.”

For many years, the Danes appeared reticent to discuss their role in the boat lift, even as organizations such as Thanks to Scandinavia (with entertainer Victor Borge, a Danish Jew, as one of the founders) emerged to piece together and tell the tale.

In 1993, the Washington Hebrew Congregation feted Frode Jakobsen, a Danish author and politician who was remembered for his work with the Danish resistance during World War II. Jakobsen reflected the sentiment of Danish homogeneity in an interview with the Washington Post:

“When we are praised by the Jews from Israel or America, I protested,” he said. “Some Danes helped some other Danes who were in danger.”

Anelise Sawkins, honorary Danish consul in Minneapolis, was a young girl in Denmark during World War II and remembers the sentiment.

“No one saw anyone as a Jew or not a Jew,” she said. “We were all Danes.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Tom Tancredo: Death and Dishonor in Cochise County

A week ago today, third-generation Arizona rancher Rob Krentz was murdered on his ranch 15 miles from the Mexican border. Border Patrol and sheriff’s deputies followed the assailant’s tracks back to the border. It may be too much to hope that our national self-delusion about border security on the cheap also died that day.

The myth of border security is the grand self-delusion of our governing class, but Obama’s secretary of homeland security has fortified this delusion with persistent lies about the border fence. It’s time to stop the lies and face the truth: We have no border security.

The belief that our border security is “imperfect but adequate” is a gold-plated bipartisan charade, the kind of charade that never goes out of season in Washington, D.C. There are Republicans as well as Democrats who perpetuate the lie of border security. Why? It allows the amnesty parade to move forward while denying there is any price to be paid. Dick Armey, Grover Norquist and Lindsey Graham are prominent Republican cheerleaders in this farce.

Rob Krentz was not a crusader; he was not a Minuteman or a political activist of any kind. He was a rancher whose family roots in Cochise County go back to 1907. Over the past 15 years, like many Cochise County residents, he and his brother had spoken publicly about the financial and human costs of the rising tide of intruders crossing their land — the vandalized water lines, dead cattle, robberies, car-jackings, assaults and home break-ins.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US Begins “Seen and Unseen” Profiling of Air Travelers

The US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned Friday, April 2: “Passengers travelling to the United States from international destinations may notice enhanced security and random screening measures throughout the passenger check-in and boarding process.” They will be applied to US citizens as well as foreign travelers. She said the new measures “utilize real-time, threat-based intelligence along with multiple, random layers of security, both seen and unseen, to more effectively mitigate evolving terrorist threats.” These would include “the use of explosives trace detection, advanced imaging technology, canine teams, or pat downs, among other security measures”. Our counter-terror sources report that these probably already include federal marshals on high-risk flights.

The DHS has been reviewing safety procedures measures ever since the botched bombing attempt last Christmas by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national trained in Yemen by al Qaeda, who boarded a Detroit-bound plane at Amsterdam, notwithstanding an advance warning relayed to US intelligence. debkafile’s counter-terror sources report the new system is a radical departure from the former lackadaisical measures in force and will apply to US airports, incoming and domestic flights, American and foreign airlines and points of departure. It also covers many more countries than the 14 named after that incident, since when full body scanners are already in operation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Toronto Muslims Scream “We Want Another Holocaust” At Jewish Protesters (Video)

Today Blazing Cat Fur blogger attended the JDL organized demonstration against Palestine House in Toronto, the Islamist Front organization that is funded by several millions of Canadian tax dollars. The pro-Palestinian protesters screamed, “We want another Holocaust,” at the Jewish protesters:

Frumpy has more outrageous video from the protest at Palestine House.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Drunken Norwegians Storm Strömstad

Thousands of drunk Norwegians stormed the Swedish border to invade the town of Strömstad on the Swedish west coast — as they do every Maundy Thursday.

“They come in their cars, blaring music as loudly as possible and they get drunk. Then they drive to a parking lot, continue to play music and drink,” Henrik Rörberg of the Strömstad police told TT news agency.

When it began to get dark, police had arrested around 30 individuals for drunkenness. All of them were Norwegians.

“But everyone was still relatively well-mannered: there were no incidents of assault or property damage,” Rörberg said.

The annual Norwegian pilgrimage to Strömstad on Maundy Thursday began early in the day. There are an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 visitors and at least 1,500 vehicles that descend upon the Swedish town of 6,000 each year. Police shut down several streets to reduce accessibility.

“But we make sure that (residents) are let through,” Rörberg said.

For the third year in a row, the city’s two state liquor shops (Systembolaget) were closed on Maundy Thursday.

“Since we started that we have noticed a major improvement. Violent crimes have been reduced and the order at the end of the day is significantly better since they can’t get more booze during the day,” Rörberg said.

In the evening, the Norwegian revelers returned to their native country, likely to continue the festivities there.

Two police patrols from the Strömstad police also travelled across the border to support their Norwegian counterparts.

Strömstad is a favorite destination for Norwegian alcohol shoppers as Swedish alcohol prices are lower than those of their Nordic neighbours. In 2008, the local city council elected to close Systembolaget on Maundy Thursday in hopes of minimizing the havoc wreaked by the Norwegian invaders.

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

France: Police Escorts for Buses Following Banlieue Blazes

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, APRIL 2 — A team of police officers was deployed today to provide an escort for public transport vehicles travelling through Tremblay-en-France, the Parisian banlieue where two buses were set ablaze on March 31 in retaliation for a large-scale swoop on drug dealers. The move was announced by Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux as he visited the TRA public transport company, the owner of the trashed vehicles. The French government will not allow “small-time criminals” to lay down the law in the banlieue”, the Minister commented, “and it shall continue to wage war on drug peddlers and gangs”. “We shall not let up: we shall intensify our actions — multiplying the number of initiatives. These criminals are not the lords of their city areas”. With the police escort for public transport travelling through the troubled areas, the government is meeting a request for greater safeguarding of law and order made by bus drivers over the past few days, after they stopped work in a gesture of protest. An “extraordinary measure,” which, the Minister explained, “shall be maintained for as long as necessary”. At the same time, the country’s President, Nicolas Sarkozy, met the drivers of the two attacked buses at his Elysee offices. The drivers managed to leave the vehicles before being overcome by the flames. As a note from the President’s office states: “We take the opportunity to state that no part of our territory can remove itself from the rule of the laws of the Republic and that a fight without let-up will now be conducted against drug dealers, wherever they are to be found”. Meanwhile, in Tremblay, the situation is tense: the locals are still under shock from Wednesday’s events. ““We are used to incivility,” one resident told France Presse, “but a bus carrying 40 or 50 people being stopped and set on fire is an extremely rare occurrence”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: Important Investments by Italian Firms

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 2 — Several Italian investments in France have deserved a mention by French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde. Lagarde, whose statement was quoted by the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) office in Paris, mentioned: Sorin Group, world leader in the development of medical technology, which will develop its CRM (Cardiac Rhythm Management) programme creating 150 research jobs by 2013 in Clamart, in the outskirts of Paris; Cartarie Tronchetti Industries, specialised in the production of toilet paper, which will create 150 jobs in the first stage in Montargis, in the center of France; Eurotech SPA, the multinational specialised in high-tech electronics, which will open a European Direction in Suresnes, in Ile de France. The direction will be used to coordinate commercial activities, creating 10 jobs. Several more jobs have been created thanks to investments by the Italian companies Finmeccanica, Fassa Bortolo, Bertani Trasporti, Siav Sistemi Digitali SpA and Solar Venture.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Germany: Church Admits Abuse Victims Came Second

The head of Germany’s Catholics has admitted in a Good Friday message that victims of child abuse had been inadequately cared for because of the Church’s effort to protect its reputation.

In one of the frankest admissions yet to come out of the scandal-battered Catholic Church, the head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, said help given to the victims of abuse “had not been enough.”

The statement, posted on the Archbishop’s website, came as controversial Bishop Walter Mixa, accused of hitting children in a Catholic kids’ home, was rebuffed in his efforts to meet and speak with his alleged victims.

In a statement provided to Süddeutsche Zeitung daily, Bishop Mixa denied hitting children and offered to meet his accusers, but two of these alleged victims dismissed his protests and rejected his overtures for a meeting.

Archbishop Zollitsch, meanwhile, admitted that the Catholic Church had made mistakes in the way it handled victims of child abuse.

He said the revelations of child abuse filled the Church with “sorrow, horror and shame.”

It shocked the Church, “how much suffering had been inflicted on the victims, who often, decades afterwards, could not express their injuries in words,” he wrote in his Good Friday address.

He went on to say that “misplaced fear about the reputation of the Church” had meant help for the victims of abuse “had not been enough.”

“That is a painful reality into which we have put ourselves,” he wrote.

In one of the most high-profile cases, Bishop Mixa, who had previously claimed the sexual revolution was partly to blame for child abuse in the Church, has been accused of hitting children at the St. Josef children’s home in Schrobenhausen, north of Munich, in the 1970s and 1980s. One alleged victim has told Süddeutsche Zeitung: “He punched me with full force in the face.”

In his statement, Mixa said: “I am deeply shaken by the allegations that have been raised against me. I affirm once again that I have at no time used physical violence in any form against children and adolescents.

“I am ready to speak to men and women who lived at the St. Josef Children’s Home in the youth about their memories, experiences and accusations, to listen and learn about what weighed upon them in childhood.

“Ensuring the welfare and the future of children, adolescents and families has always been of the utmost concern to my pastoral work.”

Two of the six alleged victims declared themselves appalled by his offer and said they would refuse to meet with him.

Hildegard Sedlmair from the town of Stadtbergen near Augsburg, where Mixa is now bishop, said she was “shocked” by the offer and added that Mixa was “deceiving himself.”

Jutta Stadler from Pfaffenhofen, north of Munich, branded Mixa’s statement “dishonest and brazen.”

She added that she would have been willing to meet and speak with Mixa, had he acknowledged in his statement that he had hit her.

“Under no circumstances will I speak to someone who portrays me as a liar,” she said.

The Catholic lay organisation, “We are the Church,” meanwhile called upon Mixa to step aside from his office until the claims against him could be resolved.

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

Italy: Fastweb, Sparkle Avoid Administration

Parisi steps down for duration of probe

(ANSA) — Milan, April 2 — Two Italian telecommunications companies have successfully taken steps to avoid being placed under court-appointed administrators because of a probe into a suspected two-billion-euro VAT dodging and international money laundering scam.

Italy’s second-biggest broadband operator Fastweb and Telecom Italia unit Sparkle said they had satisfied judges that the move was not needed.

Among the measures taken by the two companies, Fastweb CEO Stefano Parisi temporarily stepped down and handed his powers to Chairman Carsten Schloter, CEO of its parent company Swisscom. Earlier this week Fastweb founder and ex-CEO Silvio Scaglia, directly implicated in the probe, resigned from the board in another move aimed at averting administration.

Scaglia, Italy’s 13th-richest man, has been in jail for three weeks and repeatedly denied wrongdoing in the alleged scam, which concerns suspicious operations during his last years at the helm of the company.

Some 56 people have been arrested in the probe including a Rome businessman with a far-right militant past, Gennaro Mokbel, the alleged ringleader, and a former right-wing Senator, Nicola Di Girolamo, who has resigned after being accused of election fraud involving the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia.

Fastweb has already removed two executives linked to the 2003-2006 suspected scam which allegedly involved a ‘merry-go-round’ of VAT transactions on phone services involving offshore shell companies.

It has stressed it severed ties to other suspects in 2007, when Scaglia sold his majority stake to Swisscom.

Sparkle, TI’s Web TV unit, also already took a number of steps to avoid being placed under an administrator.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Tradition of Large Family Feasts No Longer Reality

Milan, 1 April(AKI) — Italy’s tradition of abundant family feasts overseen by a masterful grandmother chef is fading into mere memory as the quality of ingredients declines in the country with one of the world’s most celebrated cuisine, according to a new survey by Italian lifestyle magazine “Vie del Gusto.”

Nobody is able to cook like grandma, according to 77 percent of the 1,800 Italians surveyed, while according to 57 percent, the ingredients that made traditional plates unique have disappeared.

Italians are increasingly foregoing neighbourhood butchers , greengrocers and open-air markets for less expensive supermarkets, while workers who only a few years ago went home for lunch now often snack on processed food close to the office.

Around half of Italians prefer to eat in restaurants to the traditional large family lunch or dinner at home, according to the Milan-based magazine. But 80 percent of those surveyed said it was very hard to find taste of home cooking when they ate out.

Only 21 percent of Italians have regular family feasts, but only on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter when grandmothers prepares 87 percent of the meals.

Mothers cook only 35 percent of the time during these holiday get-togethers, according to “Vie del Gusto.

Italian fans of traditional and wholesome cooking in 1989 created the Slow Food Association to combat the growing trend toward convenience food. The association has over 80,000 members in 100 countries, according to its website.

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

Poland: The Tygodnik Powszechny Has Just Turned 65

Tygodnik Powszechny 28.03.2010 (Poland)

This liberal-Catholic weekly has just turned 65. To celebrate, it publishes a birthday supplement under the title of “Zydownik Powszechny” (or Jewish Weekly, the derogatory name given to the paper under communism) featuring its best essays and articles on Polish-Jewish relations. The editor-in-chief Adam Boniecki writes: “Someone who in 2010 reads an article by (the former Tygodnik Powszechny editor) Jerzy Turowicz may be surprised at his forceful statement of the obvious, namely that it is impossible to be a true Catholic and an anti-Semite at the same time. Precisely this obviousness is the wonderful fruit of past labours. But is it really that obvious to everyone?”

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

Spain: Historical Memory, ‘No’ To Caudillo Square

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 30 — Today the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) asked the mayor of Madrid to urgently remove the name of the main square in Pardo, Plaza del Caudillo, named after dictator Francisco Franco. In a statement, the association pointed out that this is “a violation of the historical memory law and an aggression against the victims who suffered violence during the Franco era, who are forced to tolerate a place-name in the capital that exalts the perpetrator of a coup and numerous human rights violations”. The ARMH made their request based on the resolution of the constitutional committee in the Chamber of Deputies, approved unanimously on November 20 2002, which urges governments, and local administrations in particular, to give heed to the initiatives undertaken by the family members of the victims. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Iberia Protest on Runway, Workers Sentenced to 2 Years

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 29 — Two years in prison each for 23 of the 27 Iberia workers who protested on the runway at El Prat airport in Barcelona in July of 2006 during a worker demonstration. The severe sentences of the court of first instance — with suspended sentences — were issued today by the Audiencia Nacional of Barcelona to the workers convicted of disorderly conduct, who were recognised by the many witnesses as participants in the protest. Four of the accused were acquitted, informed judicial sources cited by Efe. These include two union leaders accused of promoting the protest. The episode, which stemmed from a dispute with Iberia over the renewal of the employees’ labour contracts, led to problems for over 100,000 passengers and long delays for about 600 flights in the middle of the August holidays. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: 4.20pm Update: English Defence League and UAF Dudley Protests: Seven Arrested

A Seventh person has been arrested in Dudley, where two events by the EDL and UAF are ongoing.

The seventh arrest was for possession of an offensive weapon.

Police at the EDL venue quickly restored calm after a brief outbreak of disorder among protesters at around 3.20pm.

Police have now contained a group of EDL supporters who broke away from the main section of their party as they were being taken back to their coaches.

Officers responded rapidly to the incident near the EDL protest venue shortly after the event’s 4pm deadline had passed.

Officers dealt with sporadic incidents within the protest group after barriers were knocked over.

Meanwhile a seventh person has been arrested, for possession of an offensive weapon.

Two people were arrested late yesterday for criminal damage to a wall beneath a bridge in the town.

A further four have been arrested today on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon. Two of them were also arrested for possessing a Class A drug.

Chief Insp Mark Payne, of West Midlands Police, said at 2.30pm: “Many of the protesters and people attending the multi-faith event are now in place and at this stage are getting their messages across peacefully.”

[Return to headlines]

UK: Betrayed: Iraq Hero is Placed Behind Criminals in Queue for a Home

Fighting on the hellish battlefields of Iraq, he risked his life for his country every day. But when Private Joe MacDonald asked his local authority to help find his young family a house, his sacrifice counted for nothing.

He first met with a point-blank refusal, followed by the offer of nothing more than a room in a hostel for himself, his wife and three young children.

The council, which organises the provision of social housing through housing associations, put his case behind the unemployed, single mothers, criminals freed from prison and asylum seekers.

It claimed that because he was leaving the Army he was deliberately making himself homeless. The bizarre loophole could affect thousands of military personnel when they end their service.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Cancer Patients Denied 15 Life-Saving Drugs by NHS Rationing Body

Thousands of cancer patients face an early death because the NHS rationing body has rejected or only partially endorsed 15 new drugs.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence totally blocked a quarter of the cancer drugs made available since 2008 and heavily restricted others — despite Government promises to make more treatments available.

Medicines rejected include bowel cancer drug Avastin and Nexavar — the only treatment offering any chance of survival for patients with advanced liver cancer.

Routinely used in other European countries, such drugs typically offer three to six months of extra life but some patients can survive for years.

Although NICE agrees they work, it says the NHS cannot afford them.

Up to 20,000 people have died needlessly based on restrictions affecting ten drugs, according to a report from the Rarer Cancers Forum charity last month.

Professor Karol Sikora, medical director of Cancer Partners UK, a private provider of cancer services which works with the NHS, said thousands of patients were losing out and were likely to die earlier.

NICE does not ban the use of all the new drugs completely.

Instead, it has put very tight restrictions on how they can be used meaning far fewer patients are given access.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Left Stumped Over £10k Watch Theft… As DNA Found at Scene Belongs to Identical Twins

Police are unable to solve a crime despite finding blood believed to be from the perpetrator at the scene — because it belongs to one of two twins with identical DNA.

James and John Parr were both arrested after watches worth £10,000 were stolen from a shopping centre.

The only clue at the scene was blood found on a piece of glass which detectives traced to the 25-year-old twins through DNA tests.

But both James and John denied the theft and, because they have the same DNA, it has been impossible to prove if either of them was responsible.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Power of the Pupils: Child ‘Spies’ Allowed to Sabotage the Careers of Teachers

Pupil ‘spies’ are attempting to rid schools of strict teachers by sabotaging their promotions and snitching on their lessons, it has been claimed.

They are being allowed to rate members of staff through observing their teaching, filling in anonymous questionnaires and even sitting on interview panels.

The Government has put greater emphasis on schools allowing the ‘voice’ of youngsters to be heard in recent years.

In Ofsted forms, school heads need to illustrate how the views of pupils are taken into account.

From September, headteachers will have a legal duty to consult pupils on major changes to school policy.

Now teachers say that increased pupil power means youngsters ‘seem to be running schools’ and feel no guilt about ‘putting the boot in’.

Some pupils are complaining about strict teachers and ruining their chances of internal promotion by sitting on interview panels.

They are also using their positions on these panels to humiliate staff by asking silly questions such as: ‘If you could be on Britain’s Got Talent, what would your talent be?’ Headteachers stress that pupils only make recommendations on interview panels and their views are useful.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Seven Arrested Over Rival Protests in Dudley

Seven people were arrested during rallies by the English Defence League and Unite Against Fascism in a Black Country town.

The two groups organised demonstrations in Dudley, West Midlands, which resulted in the market closing and shops being boarded up.

There were “brief outbreaks of disorder” with barriers knocked over.

A group of EDL supporters broke away as they were being taken back to their coaches but were “quickly contained”.

About 2,000 people took part in the demonstrations.

Five people were arrested on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon.

Two more people were arrested on Friday evening on suspicion of causing damage to a wall beneath a bridge in the town.

‘Additional heat’

Ch Insp Mark Payne said police knew who some of the main protagonists were.

“As part of the preparation we have made some arrests overnight to deal with some people who might be placing additional heat on the demonstration.

“We look very closely at who we think it is going to cause trouble and we have people on the ground who will be able to indentify them to local officers,” he said.

Police said they had met with organisers from both groups prior to the demonstrations.

Unite Against Fascism began its protest during the morning with the EDL one getting under way in the afternoon.

The EDL said one of its issues was the building of a “mega mosque” in Dudley which the council had opposed on planning grounds but which was permitted by the government.

The council said it had closed the market following discussions with traders.

Police said it did not welcome the EDL protest in Dudley, but was committed to making sure it was peaceful.

“Disorder and violence will not be tolerated,” a spokesman said.

Seventy-four people were arrested during a protest in Bolton in March and police made several arrests at a protest in Stoke-on-Trent in January.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Triple Murderer Demands Thousands of Pounds From Prison Staff Over ‘Breach of Human Rights’

A triple murderer is demanding thousands of pounds in compensation because he claims prison staff breached his human rights by ignoring his needs during a meeting.

Kevan Thakrar claims the workers ‘acted unprofessionally’ during a routine discussion examining his chances of probation.

The prison officers wrote him letters of apology but Thakrar said they were ‘meaningless’ claiming he was further ‘offended’ as they contained spelling errors.

Thakrar is serving three life sentences for killing three men with a 1,000-round-a-minute machine gun over a £10,000 drug debt.

The gangster forced his victims to kneel on the ground before pumping them full of bullets in August 2007.

Thakrar’s complaint relates to his treatment at maximum security HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire. He had previously been held at HMP Frankland in Durham where he attacked three prison guards with a broken vinegar bottle.

His claim for compensation is expected to be funded through Legal Aid and was launched after the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Stephen Shaw told a prisoner’s magazine that two prison staff had treated a prisoner ‘unfairly’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Vatican Newspaper on Vulgar Propaganda Against Pope

(AGI) — Vatican City, 3 Apr. — The Osservatore Romano’s headline today was “Vulgar propaganda against the Pope and Catholics.” The newspaper . reported on the many messages of support received by Benedict XVI “for the slanderous attacks and defamatory campaign created around the tragedy of sexual abuses committed by priests. Many Bishops are expressing their solidarity to the Pope also for his firm work in favour of the truth and the measures implemented to prevent that such crimes be perpetrated again. In addition to these messages, the Church has also made a painful admission of its past mistakes, proving that no intimidating attempts will dissuade the Church from clarifying matters.” .

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Bosnia: CPT Asks to Improve Poor State of Prisons

(ANSAmed) — STRASBURG, MARCH 31 — The authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina must act immediately to improve the situation of the country’s prisons, also to deal with the probable increase of the number of inmates and the detention of war criminals and members of organised crime. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), an organisation of the European Council, has sent this message to the Bosnian government in its latest report that was released today. The Committee is particularly concerned about the situation of the prison of Zenica where, according to the report, there is much violence between prisoners. Part of the institute is in the hands of real gangs, due to the high number of prisoners and the low number of guards. This not only puts the prisoners at risk, but the prison’s staff as well. In its report, the Committee complains that it already warned the Bosnian authorities as early as 2007 to develop a coherent policy for the country’s prisons. The Committee also made it clear that if the government does not immediately follow up on its recommendations, an official admonition will be filed. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Serbia: Foreign Office, Srebrenica Move Step Towards EU

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MARCH 31 — The condemnation by the Serbian parliament of the Srebrenica massacre is “welcomed by Italy”, it is an “extremely important step for the continuation of Serbia’s European development and its full reconciliation in the region”, said spokesman of the Italian Foreign Office Maurizio Massari, when asked about Serbia’s resolution on the Srebrenica killings.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Parliament Debate Antiquities Bill Next Week

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, April 1- The People’s Assembly will continue debates on a proposed antiquities bill next Wednesday and Thursday, reports MENA news agency. The Assembly (the lower house of parliament) will discuss a report by a joint panel of the parliamentary constitutional and cultural committees on the bill, proposed by chairman of the planning and budget committee MP Ahmed Ezz with the aim to amend the current antiquities law to close its loopholes and harshen penalties for robbers, smugglers and those knowingly hiding stolen antiquities. Under the proposed amendments offenders will be put behind bar for up to seven years and fined 3,000 to 50,000 pounds. Also, next week the Assembly will start deliberations on a bill on human trafficking submitted by the government.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Reconcile Faith and Reason, Workshop in Algiers

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, MARCH 30 — Reconcile Islam and science, faith and reason, are the main objectives of the international workshop on Islam and rational sciences between the past and present that is currently being held in Algiers. “We are here to find a conciliation between Islam and science, faith and reason making our culture known as presented by the experts that trained in the West or in the East”, stated the president of Algeria’s High Islamic council Sheikh Bouaamrane during a press conference. Bouaamrane emphasised that Muslims believe in the Torah and in the Gospel, “which are the holy books that are constantly studied. To these holy books we added human sciences, because the past feeds the present and the present prepares the future”. As for the image of Islam painted in the West, Bouaamrane criticised the book by Sylvain Gougunheim, a Lyon professor of Jewish origin, which carries the title “Aristotle on Mont Saint-Michel, the origins of Christian Europe”. He stated that the piece of work talks about a hermit who lived on Mont Saint Michel suggesting that he translated Aristotle’s work from Greek to Latin, without the slightest comment on Ibn Rochd (Averroes) who first brought philosophy to the Arab world. He added that “It is a piece of work that should not have been published, but today it is fashionable to take it out on Islam and with the Islamic civilisation”. According to the president of the High Islamic council “the truth must be reasserted without aggression and without insulting anyone: it is the Muslims that translated Aristotle’s logic from Arab to Latin, while the West was experiencing its dark ages”. The workshop, that will end tomorrow, is attended by academics, teachers and religious people that deal with all the branches of knowledge: from history and philosophy to medicine, mathematics, physics and chemistry. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Air Raid: Hamas Asks Armed Groups to Use Caution

(ANSAmed) — GAZA/TEL AVIV, APRIL 2 — Hamas has started consultations with the leaders of the other armed Palestinian factions in Gaza, in order to reach a joint position on the gradual escalation of military tensions with Israel. The statement was made by local Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who accused Israel of being responsible for the military escalation. According to Palestinian press agency MAAN, Hamas is trying to convince the varied armed Palestinian groups to keep a low profile, “to avoid a spiral of violence in the area”. Israeli military sources replied that Hamas will be held responsible for any new attack. Last night the Israeli air force hit several targets in the Gaza Strip, in retaliation against a series of Palestinian attacks, including yesterday’s rocket launch on Negev. The targets of Israel’s raids, according to a military spokesman, were two weapons factories (one north and one south of Gaza) and to weapons depots. This morning the alarm was sounded in the Israeli city of Ashqelon, north of the Gaza Strip, but reportedly due to a technical failure. According to Israeli military sources, in March Palestinian militia have carried out several attacks on the border of the Gaza Strip and against the people of the Western Negev. Around 20 rockets and mortar salvos have been fired from Palestinian side, making three victims on Israeli side in the past two weeks: a labourer from Thailand was killed by a Palestinian while working in the fields of a kibbutz near the border; two troops died in a shootout with Palestinian militia, around a hundred metre inside the Gaza Strip. On Palestinian side at least 5 people have been killed. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Gaza: Israel Retaliates Against Qassam Launch

(ANSAmed) — GAZA/JERUSALEM, APRIL 2 — The rising number of rocket launches on Israel by Muslim militia in the Gaza Strip has triggered a response from the Israeli air force, which yesterday carried out at least seven air raids. The raids caused damage and injured two children. A skirmish that was similar to the start of the military campaign against Hamas Muslim fundamentalists in Gaza carried out by Israel, operation ‘Cast Lead’, started last night with the launch of a Qassam rocket from the north of the Gaza Strip. The rocket came down in an uninhabited area without causing damage or making victims. Soon after Israel retaliated using fighter aircrafts armed with missiles and combat helicopters. The two children, injured only mildly as Palestinian hospital sources said, were hit by the debris scattered by an explosion in Gaza City, where a cheese factory was targeted. Four more raids were carried out near the city of Khan Younis, where last week bloody clashes took place between Israeli troops and Palestinian militia. Yesterday two caravans were destroyed in the same area, but nobody was injured. Helicopters have hit the central refugee camp of Nusseirat two times, destroying a smelting works. The rocket that triggered Israel’s retaliation had come down in open field close to the kibbutz of Yad Mordechai, a few kilometres from the coast city of Ashqelon (south of Tel Aviv). The number of rockets fired by Hamas militia increased in the past two weeks and people in the Gaza Strip were expecting Israel to hit back, also in response to last Friday’s border conflict in the Khan Yunes area, in which two Israeli troops were killed. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Gaza: Rocket Fired at Ashqelon, No Victims

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, APRIL 2 — A Palestinian rocket fired from the north of the Gaza Strip has exploded near the Israeli city of Ashqelon, without causing victims or damage. The news was reported by Israeli military radio. The alarm was sounded during the attack on Ashqelon, but the population, not hearing any roar, was under the impression that a technical failure had set off the alarm. In a field near the city debris of the rocket has been found. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Raid in Gaza: Another Hamas-Israel Face-Off

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, APRIL 2 — Following months of relative calm, Hamas and Israel are once more involved in a diplomatic stand-off. Statements issued by each side claim the moral high-ground, blaming the other side for the succession of outbreaks of violence which is becoming increasingly frequent as weeks go by. Numerous observers are now warning of a break-down in the situation. One of these voices is that of Russian Foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who discussed the Gaza situation with Hamas’s political leader, Khaled Meshal, yesterday. He is joined by the British Foreign Minister, who has also expressed concern. By now it has become difficult to disentangle the sequence of attacks and reprisals. In chronological order, yesterday’s rocket launch from Gaza on Neghev was followed by several Israeli raids striking four objectives in the Gaza Strip — according to a military spokesperson in Tel Aviv. These included two arms factories and two military depots. For its part, Palestinian press agency Maan described the buildings hit in Gaza as follows: in Khan Yunes, a building in which Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV station was housed; in Gaza, in the Sabra district, the Daloul cheese factory; in the Nusseirat refugee camp; in Gaza City, a telecommunications company. Medical sources report that splinters from the Israeli bombs injured three children: Malak al-Arabid (one year old); brother Saad (4) and Abdul Rahm Sarsur (11). Sirens were sounded for some hours today in the northern Israeli port of Ashqelon and military radio reported that a Palestinian rocket had hit a nearby area. This report was later amended to a false alarm. For the population of Neghev, now inured to daily air-raid sirens, the psychological stress is taking its toll. The leader of the Hamas executive, Ismai Haniyeh, today stated that Hamas has established contact with other armed Palestinian factions to agree on a joint course of action as the situation worsens. According to the Maan press agency, Hamas is split between a wish to keep up its “fight to the death” banner against Israel, but at the same time trying to avoid an all-out conflict. A different perception is emerging in Israel: Hamas, it is said, is only against the firing of rockets into Neghev, but finds the continuation of attacks on Israeli border patrols and attempts at armed infiltration into Israel legittimate. The situation is being further destabilised by the appearance of Palestinian groups identifying with al-Qaeda, which act according to their own lights. The past few weeks have seen attacks on Israeli objectives using techniques “imported” from other scenes of conflict. A communiqué issued by the Israeli armed forces states that Israel is not making any distinction between political affiliations, given that Hamas is the de-facto ruler of Gaza, it is their responsibilty to prevent any type of attack. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Desert Spreading Like Cancer in Middle East

ROME, APRIL 2 — The desert is making a comeback in the Middle East, with fertile lands turning into barren wastes that could further destabilise the region, experts said at a water conference on Thursday in Alexandria, Middle Est Online reports. “Desertification spreads like cancer, it can’t be noticed immediately,” said Wadid Erian, a soil expert with the Arab League. Its effect can be seen in Syria, where drought has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, ruining farmers and swelling cities, Erian said. The United Nations Development Programme’s 2009 Arab Human Development Report said desertification threatened about 2.87 million square kilometres of land, or a fifth of the Middle East and north Africa. Erian said a large portion of rangeland and agricultural land was under threat, with little effort taken so far to reverse the process. Burgeoning populations, which put further strain on the environment, and climate change are accelerating the trend, he said. “The trend in the Arab world leans towards aridity. We are in a struggle against a natural trend, but it is the acceleration that scares us,” he said. A 2007 UN study spoke of an “environmental crisis of global proportions” that could uproot 50 million people from their homes by 2010, mostly in Africa. Erian said that if unchecked, the trend could emerge as a threat to international stability, a conclusion shared by the UN report. “It will lead to more immigration and less security. It will lead to people losing hope,” he said. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Elbaradei Hits Out at West’s Support to Repressive Regimes

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 1 — Western governments risk creating a new generation of Islamist extremists if they continue to support repressive regimes in the Middle East, the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, has told the Guardian. In his first English-language interview since returning to Cairo in February, the Nobel peace prize-winner said the strategy of supporting authoritarian rulers in an effort to combat the threat of Islamic extremism had been a failure, with potentially disastrous consequences. “There is a need for re-evaluation”, he staded, “the idea that the only alternative to authoritarian regimes is [Osama] Bin Laden and co. is a fake one, yet continuation of current policies will make that prophecy come true,” he said. “I see increasing radicalisation in this area of the world, and I understand the reason. People feel repressed by their own governments, they feel unfairly treated by the outside world, they wake up in the morning and who do they see — they see people being shot and killed, all Muslims from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Darfur.” ElBaradei, who has emerged as a potential challenger to the three-decade rule of Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, said western governments must withdraw the unstinting support for autocrats who were seen to be a bulwark against extremism. “Western policy towards this part of the world has been a total failure, in my view. It has not been based on dialogue, understanding, supporting civil society and empowering people, but rather it’s been based on supporting authoritarian systems as long as the oil keeps pumping.” The popularity in the Middle East of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, he said, should be seen as message to the west that its “policy is not reaching out to the people. The policy should be: ‘We care about you, we care about your welfare, we care about your human rights.’“ On his return to Egypt, ElBaradei was greeted at Cairo airport by more than 1,000 supporters, despite a ban on political gatherings. He has not yet announced whether he will stand in next year’s elections against Mubarak, a key US ally who has ruled the Arab world’s largest country for 28 years. ElBaradei said western governments needed to open their eyes to the realities of Egypt’s “sham” democracy, or risk losing all credibility in the battle against extremism. “Only if you empower the liberals, if you empower the moderate socialists, if you empower all factions of society, only then will extremists be marginalised.” he underscored. Current Egyptian law effectively prohibits independent candidates from getting their name on the ballot paper, which has fuelled ElBaradei’s demands for a “constitutional revolution” to make the poll free and fair. Analysts believe Mubarak, who is 81 and currently recovering from a gall bladder operation, is planning to engineer a succession of power to his youngest son, Gamal. ElBaradei said he was not afraid of intimidation by Egypt’s vast security apparatus, but revealed that several foreign governments had expressed concern about his safety in the country, following recent reports of his followers being arrested and tortured by police. Speaking at his home, he said: “I hear that from so many different governments, people coming to me and saying ‘you should be careful’. But I don’t want to go around with bodyguards. People who are extremely poor and deprived are coalescing around me in the streets saying ‘we need change’, and I want to listen.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Iraqis in Military Uniforms Kill 24 in Sunni Area

BAGHDAD (AP) — Gunmen trying to pass themselves off as U.S. and Iraqi soldiers raided a Sunni village outside Baghdad and killed at least 24 people in an execution-style attack, apparently targeting a Sunni group that revolted against al-Qaida in Iraq, authorities and witnesses said Saturday.

The bloodshed late Friday comes amid increasing concerns that insurgents will take advantage of Iraq’s political turmoil to further destabilize the country, nearly a month after parliamentary elections failed to give any candidate a decisive win. Many fear a drawn-out political debate could spill over into violence and complicate American efforts to speed up troop withdrawals in the coming months. Iraq

Details remained sketchy, but police said gunmen traveling in at least four cars raided three homes in Hawr Rijab, killing 19 men and five women after binding them in handcuffs. Some of the victims, police said, were marched onto the roofs of their homes and slain there.

Some had broken arms and legs, indicating they had been tortured before they were shot, police said. One witness said many were so badly brutalized that they were “beyond recognition.”

At least seven people were found alive, bound with handcuffs, authorities said.

The killings were reminiscent of those that plagued Iraq at the height of the sectarian bloodshed of 2006 and 2007, when men, sometimes dressed in police or army uniforms, snatched people from their houses at night before killing them and dumping the bodies.

Similar violence still plagues the country, but it has ebbed sharply.

In November, gunmen in Iraqi army uniforms abducted and killed 13 people in the village of al-Saadan near the town of Abu Ghraib on Baghdad’s western outskirts.

One survivor said the gunmen gained entry to her home by speaking English and convincing her mother they were Americans on a patrol.

“My mother thought they were Americans who came to search the house, that’s why she opened door,” said the woman, who ran to another room after seeing the attackers. Her mother and two brothers were killed.

“I heard four gunshots,” the woman said. “It was all over in a second.”

The woman did not give her name, but she agreed allow an AP Television News crew to tour her home, where blood was spattered on the white kitchen cabinets and pooling on the floors.

A senior Iraqi army official who arrived at the scene of the crime Friday evening said witnesses told him the gunmen were wearing uniforms that resembled those of the American military, and that they tricked the residents by saying they were coming to ask them how they were faring in their village.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details publicly.

The U.S. military did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment. The American presence on Iraqi streets has been drastically reduced since the U.S. withdrew from cities last summer, the first step toward a full withdrawal by the end of next year.

U.S. raids of people’s homes were common in the years that followed the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein, but the Americans have turned over authority to the Iraqis and no long have free rein in the country.

Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said some witnesses reported Friday’s attackers were wearing Iraqi military uniforms, a claim echoed by other police officials and villagers.

Many of the dead were members of a local Sahwa, or Awakening Council—one of several names for the Sunni fighters who changed the course of the war when they revolted against al-Qaida in Iraq and joined the Americans in late 2006 and 2007, said Mustafa Kamel, a Sahwa leader south of Baghdad.

Al-Moussawi blamed the killings on al-Qaida, which has frequently targeted the groups.

Police cordoned off the area and forced residents to stay inside their homes as helicopters swarmed overhead and authorities searched for suspects.

By late afternoon, 25 people had been arrested, al-Moussawi said.

“The area has many orchards and streams, so it is difficult to secure,” he said.

Members of the Iraqi military have been accused in the past of taking part in past extra-judicial killings, but their uniforms are also widely available on the open market and have been used by insurgents as disguises.

Militants also have pretended to be Americans in attacks, including a daring ambush on a local government headquarters in Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers on Jan. 20, 2007.

Friday’s violence happened in the Arab Jabour area a former insurgent stronghold about 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of Baghdad that is a collection of industrial zones, villages and palm and citrus groves. Arab Jabour is a gateway to the capital that was used by insurgents before they were crippled by the U.S. troop surge and the Sunni militia uprising.

Many Iraqis fear the insurgents are trying to regroup after indecisive national elections. Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s cross-sectarian bloc tapped into heavy Sunni support to come in just two seats ahead of the mainly Shiite list of the incumbent, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the March 7 vote.

But neither side has enough seats to govern alone. On Friday and Saturday, an influential anti-American cleric—and potential kingmaker—Muqtada al-Sadr held an unofficial poll of his supporters, asking them to decide which candidate he should support.

The winner was expected to be announced by Sunday.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Pirates ‘Attack Italian Ship’ Near Oman

Aden, 2 April (AKI) — Crew members aboard an Italian container ship have survived a violent attack from pirates in the Persian Gulf. Pirates reportedly fired rocket launchers and machine guns. at the 46,000 tonne vessel, ‘Italagarland’, owned by Italia Marittima from the northeast city of Trieste, around 300 nautical miles off the coast of Oman.

It set sail from the Malaysian port of Danjung, and was en route to the port of Aden in southern Yemen when it was attacked.

The container ship was carrying a crew of 22 people — including nine Italians. Officials from the port authorities police central command told Adnkronos no-one was injured in the violence.

Eight pirates on two small ten-metre boats reportedly fired on the ship and the crew sounded the alarm with the local port authorities.

After making contact with port authorities’ central operations, the captain of the ship ordered a series of manouevres and stepped the speed of the vessel to escape further attack.

The Italian naval vessel, Etna, which was around 300 nautical miles from the boat under attack, also received the alarm.

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

Saudi Conference Condemns Extremism, Embraces Shari’a

A conference in Saudi Arabia this week ended with a condemnation of terrorism and appeals for Muslims to reject extremism, but it also recommended that all Muslim governments apply shari’a (Islamic law) “in all aspects of life.” A long list of adopted recommendations included an implicit call for terrorism to be defined in a way that excludes resistance against “foreign occupation.”


More than 80 research papers were examined in 12 sessions over four days, after which a 2,500-word document of recommendations was compiled and released.

Among these, Muslim parents were encouraged to foster moderation in their children and to shield them from Web sites belonging to “deviant and extremist groups.”

Muslim young people were urged to create Web sites that “defend Islam, bring to light its lofty values of tolerance and moderation, and invite others to it.”

And “extremist groups that identify with Islam” were advised “to think seriously and carefully about the ramifications of their actions and the negative impact they have on Islam and Muslims.”

The document also said Muslims should “learn their religion from trustworthy scholars known for being moderate” and reject “unreliable” teachings relating to jihad and takfir (apostasy).

It said jihad was “a noble concept and is different in its legitimacy and objectives from the condemnable acts of those that have deviated from Islam.”

The document did not elaborate on what would be regarded as a “reliable” interpretation of apostasy, one of the most contentious tenets in Islam. But the recommendations went on to urge all Muslim governments to “apply Islamic shari’a in all aspects of life.” It is under shari’a that some governments, including Saudi Arabia itself, treat apostasy as a capital crime

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Offensive of the Muslim Scholars on Terrorism

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 2 — The Mardin conference held in late March in Turkey had the objective of discrediting anyone using Islam to justify terrorism, by recasting an ancient fatwa by Muslim theologian Ibn Tayminyya. But soon after the conference came the suicidal attacks of two kamikaze women in Moscow’s underground system, killing around forty people, and two days later two fresh terrorist attacks in Daghestan claimed a further, followed by a third explosion causing more deaths. Not to mention the neverending series of attacks going on in Iraq, or the Al Qaeda campaign that the Saudi authorities said they have halted with almost a hundred arrests. It is into this hazardous minefield that several oulemas, muftis, theologians and Islamic jurists are venturing with their offensive against anyone who believes and tries to persuade others that ‘jihad’ is synonymous with terrorism and that the indiscriminate killing of innocent victims with suicidal attacks can mean conducting a holy war and an entry into heaven as a martyr. The ‘sages’ offensive has been carefully planned with the preparation for the conference in Mardin, the Turkish city that gave its name to that 13th century ‘fatwa’ (religious edict) so often quoted in Osama Bin Laden’s messages to incite the overthrowing of the Saudi monarchy and the destruction of the United States of America. A fatwa born in the context of the Mongolian invasion, now devoid of significance, the scholars say, in a globalized world where international treaties guarantee security and peace to all humanity, as the final declaration reads. “Anyone who seeks support from this fatwa for killing Muslims or non-Muslims has erred in their interpretation and has misapplied the revealed texts”. In short, the Islamic sages went to Mardin from all over the world (from Saudi Arabia to Kuwait, from Morocco to Indonesia) invited by London’s Global Center for Renewal and Guidance, to say that terrorist acts are not ‘jihad’, but arbitrary murders that destroy the faith and disparage Islam. Since Salafi scholars are included among the signatories, there is hope that — as Libyan scholar Aref Nayed said — the young people more inclined to radicalism will stay out of it. A similar message was launched early in the month by a renowned Pakistan scholar in a 600 page-long fatwa condemning London’s terrorist attacks, and by another in Dubai against violence in Somalia. Once more in Dubai, on the Center Kalam Research & Media’s website, a specific condemnation of the Iraq, Moscow and Daghestan attacks was issued. “Islam absolutely upholds the sanctity of human life, and no grievances, even when legitimate, can ever be used to justify or legitimise such murderous and evil acts”. The signatories of the document are twenty-four top-ranking Muslim scholars, such as the grand muftis of Syria, Dubai, Egypt and Bosnia Herzegovina. And something similar was stirring in Medina, Islam’s second holy city: a new message against terrorism and a plea for repentance to all fundamentalists has come from another international gathering of ulemas and muftis. The request to follow a “tolerant and moderate Islam” went out to young Muslims all over the world. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Bombing a Prelude to Islamic Emirate?

Taking on Russians only opening shot of renewed struggle

The twin suicide bombings in the Moscow subway that killed 40 people and injured 64 may be only the opening shot of a broader fight with Russia to establish not just a Caucasus emirate but re-establish the ancient Islamic Emirate of Khurasan, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Ancient Khurasan included the present-day Central Asian countries of Turkmenistan, Uzekistan, Tajikistan, as well as major portions of Afghanistan and parts of Iran and Pakistan.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

In the Arms of Her Militant Husband, The Baby-Faced ‘Black Widow’ Who ‘Blew Herself Up on the Moscow Metro’

This is the baby-faced ‘Black Widow’ suspected of blowing up herself and scores of commuters on the Moscow underground this week.

Looking like an Islamic extremist version of Bonnie and Clyde, Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, 17, and her husband, a notorious militant leader, pose with guns.

Abdurakhmanova became a widow last year when Umalat Magomedov, an Islamist rebel in the southern republic of Dagestan, was shot by Russian agents.

Police believe she blew herself up at the Lubyanka metro station on Monday, underneath the FSB security service headquarters, to avenge the deaths of those killed by Russian troops fighting rebels in the Caucasus region.

[Cpmments from JD: One commenter pointed out: “ she cannot use that much trotted out rubbish of “i turned extremist because my husband was killed “ because she is pictured with him before he died holding guns and grenades,so she was already an extremist…]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Russian Media Agrees… US Moving Rapidly Towards Soviet Style Economy

U.S. President Barack Obama has finally brought America closer to European universal healthcare systems. It took him almost a year to persuade Congress to approve his healthcare reform. The House approved it by a majority of only seven votes (219 to 212) on March 21. The amended bill will be submitted to the Senate but this will be a sheer formality, since the Senate is dominated by Democrats and the endorsement procedure has already been agreed upon.

The 44th U.S. president could sign the bill this week. He will then go down in history not only as the first black president, but also as the first “red” president: Obama’s Republican opponents maintain that the bill is too socialist.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Czech Military Presents Artillery Radar for Afghanistan

Jince — The Czech military today presented the artillery radar system Arthur that the government plans to send to Afghanistan to protect the Polish base in the Ghazni province.

The device is able to detect a shot missile before it hits the target and causes damage. Its crew can warn soldiers at the Afghan bases against the Taliban attacks.

The addressed soldiers say the prompt detection of flying missiles is of crucial importance for them.

“On the basis of experience of the foreign armies that have already used this radar, we know that Arthur is really able to save people´s lives at the allied bases,” said 13th artillery brigade commander Josef Medal.

Arthur can distinguish whether flying projectiles are artillery grenades, mortar shots or missiles and assess their calibre within the scope of 20-40 kilometres.

The radar can be in full operation for 24 hours continuously. Thanks to a special system its operation can be extended to up to four days if need be.

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, has received the government proposal for the deployment of some 40 soldiers and two Arthur radars to protect the Polish contingent in Afghanistan.

Deputies are to debate the proposal in about two weeks.

However, the left wing parties, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Communists (KSCM), is against any reinforcement of the Czech contingent in Afghanistan, and without the left deputies´ votes the proposal has no chance to make it through the lower house.

Chief of staff Vlastimil Picek said the unit to be deployed in Afghanistan would be perfectly prepared.

The soldiers would be disappointed if they did not leave for Afghanistan after the hard training, Medal indicated.

The Arthur radar is made by the Ericsson Swedish company. The Czech military paid almost two billion crowns for three radars.

Other countries have also these radars in their armament, such as Sweden and some NATO members states — Britain, Denmark, Greece and Norway.

Picek said the Czech military had acquired the Arthur radars within its upgrading. With time it is to buy modern guns and other equipment, he added.

($1=18.868 crowns)

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

At the Mercy of the Machete Mob: The Terrifying Isolation and Almost Suicidal Courage of Zimbabwe’s White Farmers

‘See that place down there?’ said Dad, when I arrived on one of my infrequent visits home. He was pointing to a run-down farmhouse, just across the road.

‘That was Frank Bekker’s place — he was one of the first. One night, Frank and his wife were attacked in their house. He was cut in the head with an axe, but somehow fought his assailants off.

‘He heard the leader shout at the others: “What’s wrong with you — you can’t kill one white person?”‘

I looked down at the house again. You could tell as soon as you set eyes on it that something was wrong. Instead of the usual green fields, all I could see were a few listless crops on rough, unploughed ground. Dozens of mud huts had sprung up where maize and tobacco once grew.

It was alarmingly close to my parents’ farm; you could practically throw a rock at it. And it was clear that if Mum and Dad didn’t leave fast, they could soon be meeting a brutal, bloody, all-too-African end.

It was 2002. I’d left Zimbabwe nine years before and was living in London, but my parents, Rosalind and Lyn Rogers, were still at Drifters, the backpackers’ lodge and game farm that they’d created after Dad retired from being a lawyer.

By then, almost half of the white farmers in their part of Eastern Zimbabwe had lost their homes to armed looters — yet Mum and Dad were still enjoying their usual games of bridge and golf, and showing no signs of packing up.

Two years before, I’d phoned home in a panic when news broke that the first white farmer — who lived only an hour’s drive from their farm — had been savagely beaten by a mob and shot at point-blank range. When my mother finally answered, I blurted out: ‘What’s happening? Are you guys all right?’

‘It’s terrible,’ she said. I pictured my parents barricaded in the house, a mob rattling their gates.

‘Yes,’ she explained, ‘we’ve already lost four wickets.’

‘Four what?’ ‘Four wickets, darling. Not going very well at all. It’s 91 for four.’

They were watching a cricket match! I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or horrified.

‘Jeez, Ma. Not the cricket. The farm. Have you any idea what’s going on?’

There was a long pause. ‘Oh, that,’ my mother finally said, her voice fading through the static. ‘Yes, well, it doesn’t look very good, does it? I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see.’

Even then, ‘wait and see’ didn’t seem a wise option, but they clearly weren’t going anywhere.

‘Darling,’ my mother said, ‘don’t be ridiculous. We are Zimbabweans. This is our land.’

And then I heard steel in her voice. ‘Over my dead body will they take this place. Over my dead body.’

She had the stoic, breezy air of someone who’d lived through a lot and expected to live through this, too. After all, her ancestry in Africa went back to the 1820s — and Dad’s family had been there for 350 years.

‘We’re Zimbabweans now, better get used to it,’ my parents had told my sisters and me, when white rule ended in 1980. Three years later, they’d sent me to a government boys’ boarding school which, by the time I graduated, was 80per cent black.

One day, we were fighting a race war; the next we were sitting in classes sharing notes on Jane Austen with the sons of black men our fathers had fought against.

But that was then. By the time of my 2002 visit, the farm invasions were in full swing, the economy was in freefall and eight more white farmers had been murdered. . .

My mother was in the kitchen when I arrived from London.

‘Welcome to the frontlines,’ she said with a wry chuckle…

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

South Africa: President Zuma Visits ‘White’ Slums

Accompanied by no fewer than six ministers as well as several local political leaders, president Jacob Zuma has visited, for the second time in two years, the slum area of ‘Bethlehem’, in the suburbs of Pretoria. Zuma has heard the requests of the 2000 or so residents of the famous slum, and he made a commitment to ensure that they be ensured such basic rights as the home health coverage and such and jobs. “Our Constitution says that the government services have to be given to all South Africans — said Zuma — beyond any difference of race, religion or creed. The public services have no color”. The peculiarities of the Bethlehem slum is that its inhabitants are Afrikaners, which is to say they are descendants of the Dutch and British colonizers who arrived to Southern African Horn centuries ago. Unlike the majority of the South African whites — who, not surprisingly, seeing as only 15 years have passed since the end of Apartheid still maintain control of most of the land and economic activities in the country — the inhabitants of Bethlehem are poor evidently.

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

South African White Supremacist Leader Eugene Terre’blanche ‘Hacked to Death at Home at Home by Workers’

Notorious South African Far-Right leader Eugene Terreblanche was murdered yesterday — hacked to death in his bed by two disgruntled farmworkers.

It is understood the white supremacist was attacked in a bedroom at his home with a machete and wooden club after a row with the men over money.

He was apparently alive when police arrived at the scene in Ventorsdorp, North West province, but died shortly afterwards.

‘He was hacked to death while he was taking a nap,’ a family friend said. Police arrested two farmworkers — they will appear in court on Tuesday.

Terreblanche, the Boer-Afrikaner leader, had recently returned to politics with his Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging Party (AWB), which was notorious during the apartheid era.

The party has been pushing for a separate Afrikaner state within South Africa.

The death raises fears of reprisals against blacks by supporters of Terre’blanche’s Nazi-like AWB Party who may think it was a racially motivated murder.

The murder of Terre’Blanche comes at a time on increased tension in South Africa.

Recently, the ANC has attempted to stop its youth wing leader Julius Malema from singing the anti-apartheid song Shoot The Boer. Malema’s critics claim the song has incited violence against Afrikaners.

Police Captain Adele Myburgh said was attacked by a man and a teenager who worked for him after they allegedly had an argument about unpaid wages around 6pm.

She Myburgh said Terre’blanche was alone with the two workers at the time of the attack.

Captain Myburgh told the Saturday Star: ‘Mr Terre’blanche’s body was found on the bed with facial and head injuries. There was a panga on him and knobkerrie next to the bed.

The two told the police that the argument ensued because they were not paid for the work they did on the farm’.

South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), expressed its ‘outrage and concern’ at Terre’blanche’s murder.

‘This happened in a province where racial tension in the rural farming community is increasingly being fuelled by irresponsible racist utterances by the leader of the ANC Youth League Leader Julius Malema and the North West Cosatu secretary Solly Pheto,’ said DA MP Juanita Terblanche.

She said the DA did not share Terre’blanche’s political conviction but an attack of this nature could damage relations between the country’s once bitterly divided races.

Miss Terblanche sent her condolences to the family and called to the people to remain calm.

Provincial Public Safety boss Howard Yawa reacted with shock at the news of Terre’blanche’s death and appealed for calm in the province.

He condemned the ‘callous murder in the strongest terms possible’ and also called to the people to allow the law to take its course.

Many of the AWB’s major figures live in Ventersdorp, including Terre’Blanche’s former driver JP Meyer.

Terre’Blanche’s security firm was rented out to the town council for a long time as an almost private police force.

In 2000 the new black mayor of Ventersdorp terminated this contract.

Shortly thereafter he disappeared, never to be seen again and his car was found in a nearby field.

The Mayor’s cousin was found guilty of his murder, but some people, particularly black people, believed that Terre’Blanche had ordered the murder and that the AWB influenced the outcome of the trial.

Terreblanche, who was jailed for six years in 1997 for assault and attempted murder, remained synonymous with the worst of the apartheid years despite living a life of relative obscurity in recent years.

His self-styled militia terrorised blacks and fought to retain the system of racial segregation introduced in South Africa by the National Party in 1948.

Terre’Blanche angrily denounced the reformist leaders of the National Party, FW de Klerk, who had released Nelson Mandela and paved the way for majority rule.

In 2008 he said: ‘God punished us with the Government of de Klerk and the new order was forced upon us.

‘I ask you, what is it that you want? We are a pitiful little nation but we will never ask forgiveness for apartheid.’

Terreblanche was lampooned in a 1991 documentary The Leader, His Driver And The Driver’s Wife, by British film-maker Nick Broomfield. A sequel by Broomfield, His Big White Self, was broadcast in 2006.

A 21-year-old man and 15-year-old boy were arrested and charged for his murder.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Latin America

‘Mexican Rebel’ Really an Italian

‘Subcommandante Marcos’ photos turn out to be of aid worker

(ANSA) — Rome, April 2 — Recently published photographs allegedly showing the face of masked Zapatista rebel leader ‘Subcommandante Marcos’ are actually of an Italian aid worker who has been in Mexico for the past two years, it was learned on Friday.

When he saw the photos published in the Mexican daily Reforma, Leuccio Rizzo wrote to the paper’s editor to clarify that they were of him and ask that the paper correct its report or face legal action.

In his letter, the 38-year-old aid worker also expressed his admiration of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) for its efforts on behalf of the indigenous Mayan people of the economically depressed southern Chiapas state and his respect for ‘Subcommandante Marcos’, whom he described as a “revolutionary”.

According to the Italian foreign ministry, after it heard of the case of mistaken identity, the Italian diplomatic mission in Mexico contacted Rizzo to see if he needed assistance.

However, the aid worker said he was not at all worried but did ask that he be able to phone his family in Italy to reassure them, the ministry said.

Rizzo is a native of the town of Galatina, near the southeastern city of Lecce, and is working in Mexico on behalf of the Bergamo-based Chiapas ‘Maribel’ Committee, which has posted his letter to the Mexican daily on its website.

‘Subcommandante Marcos’ has been identified by the Mexican government as 53-year-old Rafael Sebastian Guillen Vicente. He is the most recognizable EZLN spokesman with a black balaclava hiding his face through which he is usually smoking a pipe.

The rebel leader gained international attention in 1994 when he led a revolt of Mayan farmers in Chiapas to protest against the Mexican government’s treatment of indigenous peoples.

In 1997 the then-leader of Italy’s Communist Refoundation party, Fausto Bertinotti, met with ‘Subcommandante Marcos’ in a much-publicized trip to Chiapas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Australia: ‘G’day Mate, Can You Give US a Lift?’ Cheeky Asylum Seekers Phone Australian Police From Boat to Ask to be Taken Ashore

Asylum seekers stunned immigration officials when they rang police from a mobile phone and asked to be picked up from their leaking boat off the Australian coast.

The 64 refugees from Kurdistan caused red faces for the authorities by evading border controls to arrive one mile off Christmas Island, the official reception point for asylum seekers.

After police received the call via the Australian emergency number 000, a navy patrol boat was despatched to meet the tiny vessel.

Those deemed to be genuine asylum seekers after questioning on Christmas Island gain admission to Australia.

Meanwhile, those considered to be ‘economic refugees’ who have the finances to try to jump the immigration queue are sent back to their home countries.

The new arrivals bring the total number of asylum seekers reaching Australia since Labour came to power to 4,450.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

France: Migrants: Toward Harsher Measures, Associations Protest

“The text’s technical language disguises measures that seriously damage migrants’ rights”, say dozens of human rights defense groups reacting to the new draft law proposed to the government by Eric Besson, France’s minister for Immigration. The text — the sixth in eight years on the subject of immigration — provides among other things a five-year “ban on return” for foreigners who enter and live in any part of the European Union illegally, it limits the powers of the judge of liberties (who ensures the procedures launched against migrants) and also provide for new detention measures. “Multiple obstacles reduce the right of asylum” suggest the organizations, including ‘Secours catholique’ (Caritas-France), ACAT (Christian Action to Abolsih |Torture), and the Primo Levi association. Shortly after having presented the text, 250 illegal migrants, workers without papers most of whom Africans, were evicted from the building they had been living in for over a year in Paris.

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

Italy: From Eritrea to San Lupo, A Generous Village Near Naples

A group of 34 refugees (33 Eritreans and a Somali woman) has spent their first night in Italy in a former elementary school in the village of San Lupo, in the Sannio region, outside Benevento (not far from Naples). They were welcomed by the mayor Irma de Angelis in accordance with the project “Small Municipalities, Large Solidarity”, as part of a wider EU initiative for the 12007-2013 period. The refugees were also welcomed by representatives from the NGO’s “Connecting People” and the “Amistade Consortium” of Benevento. In the town hall there was a related event attended among others by Soulib Briss and Fabiola Conti from UNHCR Italy. The group of refugees began their ordeal five years ago, traversing several African countries; the group include nine women, two of whom pregnant. “As mayor and citizen of San Lupo — said Irma de Angelis yesterday — I am pleased to be here today to welcome you and assure you that the town and the local people are happy to receive you. San Lupo, even if small, is generous and all of us will try to help you integrate in our territory”. Orazio Micalizzi, vice-president of ‘Connecting People’, which manages the facility offered in San Lupo as well as the welcome Center where the fefugges were housed before in Salina Grande (Trapani, Sicily), told the refugees: “Our consortium, with the backing of Amistade, will assure you will get all the services that you need; at the end of the Easter holiday, the various activities provided by the project, starting from Italian language classes, and all the children will be promptly enrolled in local schools and kindergartens”. Connecting People shall also handle the management of training, socialization and orientation programs, apprenticeships in small artisanal factories and tourism facilities in the area of Benevento. Giuseppe Lorenti, training and research manager at Connecting People stressed: “the consortium shall ensure for the 24 month duration of the project all services and activities needed to achieve a true socio-economic integration of the recipients, aimed at ensuring them, once the project is over, the greatest possible degree of independence. Apart from the basic housing and foods services, the guests will be given cultural mediation services, social, first-aid and psychological assistance.” As for San Lupo, it was rebuilt after an earthquake in the XV century on a spur of rock at 500 meters elevation now traversed by a municipal highway linking Benevento to the town of Campobasso. San Lupo is famous for its olive oil but its citizens over the past century have spread throughout the world, from North America to Australia, the country shall now reach, thanks to the newly arrived residents, a total population of some 800 people. Remembering the 18th century fountain of Capodacqua and, through its saint, the ties to France, the mayor conclude a chat with MISNA saying: “Milca, a nine year old vivacious Eritrean girl, made me smile when she said: yes, I like San Lupo, but I was hoping that it had the sea..”

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

Culture Wars

Italy: Abortion Pill Distributed Amid ‘Emotional Climate’

Rome, 2 April (AKI) — As the release of the RU486 abortion pill provoked bitter opposition from the Catholic Church and key political leaders throughout Italy, the pill’s distributor hit back at the critics on Friday. Marco Durini, gynaecologist and medical director at Nordic Pharma, told Adnkronos he was concerned that the political opposition had generated an “emotional climate”.

“A heightened emotional climate has been generated around the RU486,” Durini told Adnkronos. “I am very worried. I hope they will soften the tone.”

“Also because we are speaking about a product that has been approved by law and by all the bodies which control pharmaceutical products.”

The first shipments of the pill were being sent to the southern region of Puglia and the central region of Tuscany, Durini said.

On Thursday two newly-elected local leaders from the north of Italy condemned the introduction of the abortion pill and vowed to stop it from reaching hospitals.

Luca Zaia, the governor of the north-east Veneto region, announced the move the same day the abortion pill was due to become available in Italian hospitals.

“We will look at ways of preventing RU486 from reaching hospitals,” Zaia told Adnkronos.

Another newly elected governor in the northwestern Piedmont, Roberto Cota, also pledged to stop the abortion pill from reaching hospitals in the region which surrounds the city of Turin.

Italy is one of the last European countries to make the RU486 pill available. The abortion pill, also known as mifepristone, has been available in France since 1988.

In a pre-Easter mass on Thursday Pope Benedict XVI censured the abortion pill urging Christians not to accept “wrong” laws that sanctioned the practice.

Benedict criticised abortion, saying laws that protect the practice are “wrong.”

In a strong message to Italian leaders, he made the remarks the same day the controversial abortion pill was due to be made available in the country’s hospitals.

“It is important for Christians not to accept a wrong that is enshrined in law — for example the killing of innocent unborn children,” the pontiff said during a service at St Peter’s Basilica.

Abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978. Renata Polverini, an ally of conservative prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, last week won a hard-fought election battle to govern the Lazio region, which includes capital Rome.

Anti-abortion Polverini on Thursday said she would respect the law that allows for RU486 to be administered in hospitals.

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

Italy: Northern League’s Regional Presidents Reject RU486 — “Not in Our Hospitals” Says Zaia

In Piedmont, Cota issues first pronouncement: “Health authorities should suspend abortion pill”. Mgr Fisichella’s approval

MILAN — Distribution of the RU486 pill in Italy has started, and so have the arguments. Since Thursday morning, health authorities and hospital pharmacies have been able to order the “morning-after” abortion pill. The headquarters of Nordic Pharma, licensed by manufacturers Exelgyn to distribute Mifegyne in Italy, has been bombarded by phone calls. So far, no pills have actually been sent out but deliveries should commence after Easter. Meanwhile, two Northern League regional governors, Robeto Cota in Piedmont and Veneto’s Luca Zaia, have taken the first political decisions of their respective administrations. Both have said a firm no to the pill’s distribution, despite the fact that regional authorities have little actual competence in the matter. The stance-taking has annoyed opposition politicians. The Democratic Party’s (PD) Ignazio Marino called it abuse of power and Pierluigi Bersani noted pointedly: “They are regional presidents, not emperors”.

CALL FOR HALT — Roberto Cota refused to change tack, despite the controversy whipped up by his statement on Wednesday, when he said that the boxes of abortion pills “can rot on the warehouse shelves”. His stand was praised by Mgr Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life and chaplain of the Chamber of Deputies (“Cota has my approval”). Piedmont’s new regional president has actually asked hospital general managers to suspend use of the pill until he takes office. “My position on the RU486 pill has always been clear. I am pro-life and will do all I can to halt its use”, said Mr Cota. “Obviously, I will stay within the law, I cannot do otherwise, but it is equally clear that my ideas on values in Piedmont are different from those of the former president, who failed to secure re-election. I think the abortion pill should at least be administered in hospital”, said Mr Cota on Wednesday.

ZAIA: “NOT IN OUR HOSPITALS” — When it came, the no from the Veneto regional president, Luca Zaia, was even more emphatic. “As far as we are concerned, we will never authorise the purchase or use of this pill in our hospitals”, declared Mr Zaia. In a note, the Veneto president said that the regional authority would “examine ways of asserting a point of view sharply opposed to a pharmacological instrument that trivialises the very delicate procedure of abortion, abandoning women to themselves and allowing younger people to shirk responsibility. I cannot ignore the pope’s invitation, which prompts us all to act according to conscience”. Mr Zaia ended by saying that “AIFA, the medicines agency, also prescribes administration of the abortion pill in a protected environment and under controlled conditions, a clear sign that everyone involved should act on this matter with extreme caution.” The new president of Lazio president, Renata Polverini, said that the abortion pill would be available in the region “with the same procedure applied for surgical abortion, which means it will be given in hospital”. Ms Polverini went on: “There is a law, number 194, that has to be obeyed”. She added: “I am pro-life and I will do everything necessary to defend life in observance of the law”. Roberto Formigoni, president of the Lombardy regional authority, said that the RU486 pill was in conflict with law 194 on abortion, “one of whose goals is to stop women being left to their own devices and having to go through the drama of abortion on their own. RU486 shifts the entire psychological and physical burden of this traumatic experience onto the woman”.

VIALE: “I’M CARRYING ON” — Silvio Viale, the doctor who trialled the drug and a Radical Party member, vowed to carry on. The Sant’Anna hospital in Turin has ordered 50 boxes of RU486 pills, which could arrive as early as Friday, or just after Easter at the latest. Dr Viale explained: “The first consignments are unlikely to be used for voluntary interruptions of pregnancy. They’ll probably be for spontaneous abortions or therapeutic second semester interruptions”. Silvio Garattini, a pharmacologist and former member of the Italian medicines agency, maintains that “a regional authority cannot suspend distribution, unless AIFA’s authorisation is revoked. Regional authorities have competence in healthcare issues to lay down how distribution is carried out”.

MEDICINES AGENCY — There is also a debate within the debate. AIFA’s director general, Guido Rasi, points out that “regional authorities cannot do what they like. They have considerable autonomy over how, when and through what channels a drug is administered, a good operating margin in fact, but sooner or later they must find a way of making available drugs that have already been approved”. The leader of the People of Freedom (PDL) group in the Senate, Maurizio Gasparri, pulled no punches: “It is increasingly evident how inadequate AIFA’s director is. He continues to take curious initiatives on RU486, and behaves increasingly like a pharma rep. I will be putting the issue of AIFA’s management before the government”. AIFA replied that it has no influence over how medicines are distributed around the country “because it is the regional presidents’ responsibility to make decisions, partly in the light of what the ministry of health said recently”.

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Spain: Employer Faces Prison for Urging Abortion

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 1 — A restaurant manager has been sentenced to eighteen months in prison and fined 6,000 euros by a court in Girona (Catalonia) after attempting to force a female employee to go through with a abortion under threat of being sacked. As reported in the media today, the court found the restaurant manager guilty of intimidation, ruling valid the accusations of the victim whose first recourse had been to the country’s Ugt union. The woman, who decided against ending her pregnancy, did indeed lose her job. In an interview given to Radio Girona, the employee today explained how she “had to overcome the fear of reporting” her employer. She said she decided at the time to go through with having a baby despite the pressure she was under not to “bring a new life into the world”. Sources inside the Ugt union have noted their satisfaction at the court’s sentence, which condemned the intimidation inflicted on the woman three years ago as “a serious case of discrimination at work”. The employer’s defence has announced its intention to appeal. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


A Superstorm for Global Warming Research

By Marco Evers, Olaf Stampf and Gerald Traufetter

Plagued by reports of sloppy work, falsifications and exaggerations, climate research is facing a crisis of confidence. How reliable are the predictions about global warming and its consequences? And would it really be the end of the world if temperatures rose by more than the much-quoted limit of two degrees Celsius?

Life has become “awful” for Phil Jones. Just a few months ago, he was a man with an enviable reputation: the head of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, an expert in his field and the father of an alarming global temperature curve that apparently showed how the Earth was heating up as a result of anthropogenic global warming.

Those days are now gone.

Nowadays, Jones, who is at the center of the “Climategate” affair involving hacked CRU emails, needs medication to fall sleep. He feels a constant tightness in his chest. He takes beta-blockers to help him get through the day. He is gaunt and his skin is pallid. He is 57, but he looks much older. He was at the center of a research scandal that hit him as unexpectedly as a rear-end collision on the highway.

His days are now shaped by investigative commissions at the university and in the British Parliament. He sits on his chair at the hearings, looking miserable, sometimes even trembling. The Internet is full of derisive remarks about him, as well as insults and death threats. “We know where you live,” his detractors taunt.

Jones is finished: emotionally, physically and professionally. He has contemplated suicide several times recently, and he says that one of the only things that have kept him from doing it is the desire to watch his five-year-old granddaughter grow up.

‘100 Percent Confident’

One of the conclusions of his famous statistical analysis of the world’s climate is that the average temperature on Earth rose by 0.166 degrees Celsius per decade between 1975 and 1998. This, according to Jones, was the clear result of his research and that of many other scientists.

“I am 100 percent confident that the climate has warmed,” Jones says imploringly. “I did not manipulate or fabricate any data.”

His problem is that the public doesn’t trust him anymore. Since unknown hackers secretly copied 1,073 private emails between members of his research team and published them on the Internet, his credibility has been destroyed — and so has that of an entire profession that had based much of its work on his research until now.

Those who have always viewed global warming as a global conspiracy now feel a sense of satisfaction. The so-called climate skeptics feel vindicated, because Jones, in his written correspondence with colleagues, all of them leading members of the climate research community, does not come across as an objective scientist, but rather as an activist or missionary who views “his” data as his personal shrine and is intent on protecting it from the critical eyes of his detractors.

An Entire Branch of Science in Crisis

The Climategate affair is grist for the mills of skeptics, who have gained growing support for their cause, particularly in English-speaking countries. What began with hacked emails in the United Kingdom has mushroomed into a crisis affecting an entire scientific discipline. At its center is an elite and highly influential scientific group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Working on behalf of the United Nations, the scientists organized under IPCC’s umbrella — including Phil Jones — regularly prepare prognoses on the Earth’s looming greenhouse climate. Without the IPCC reports, governments would not be embroiled in such passionate debate about phasing out the age of oil and coal.

In late 2007, the IPCC was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with former US Vice President Al Gore. IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, as the personification of the world’s conscience, accepted the award on behalf of his organization. “Climate change poses novel risks,” Pachauri told his audience, saying that the decision to award the prize to the IPCC was “a clarion call for the protection of the earth as it faces the widespread impacts of climate change.” He also warned of the risk of not taking action: “Every year of delay implies a commitment to greater climate change in the future.”

Sloppy Work

Since then, the IPCC has experienced a dramatic fall from grace. Less than three years after this triumph, more and more mistakes, evidence of sloppy work and exaggerations in the current IPCC report are appearing. They include Jones’ disputed temperature curve, the prediction that all Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 — which was the result of a simple transposition of numbers — and the supposed increase in natural disasters, for which no source was given.

In mid-March, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon slammed on the brakes and appointed a watchdog for the IPCC. The InterAcademy Council, a coalition of 15 national academies of science, will review the work of the IPCC by this fall.

There is already a consensus today that deep-seated reforms are needed at the IPCC. The selection of its authors and reviewers was not sufficiently nonpartisan, there was not enough communication among the working groups, and there were no mechanisms on how to handle errors.

Offering the Skeptics an ‘Unprotected Flank’

Also at issue is the position of IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, who is praised as a “leading global thinker” in his official biography. A railroad engineer by trade, Pachauri wrote an erotic novel and recommended that people reduce their meat consumption while traveling around the world to save the climate. He has cut a miserable figure during the current crisis. The climate guru summarily dismissed justified objections to the IPCC report as “voodoo science.”

Germany’s Leibniz Association, an umbrella group which includes several climate research institutions as its members, is the first professional organization to call for Pachauri’s resignation. Leibniz President Ernst Rietschel believes that climate research is now “in a difficult situation” because the skeptics have been “offered an unprotected flank.” Rietschel told SPIEGEL: “Rajendra Pachauri should take the responsibility for this and should resign.”

On balance, the entire profession has been seriously harmed by the scandal. “We are currently suffering a massive erosion of trust,” concludes German climatologist Hans von Storch. “Climate research has been corrupted by politicization, just as nuclear physics was in the pre-Chernobyl days, when we were led to believe that nuclear power plants were completely safe.”…

           — Hat tip: Henrik[Return to headlines]

Amnesty International Condones Jihad?

by Ed Morrissey

People used to accuse Amnesty International of being pro-jihadi for their attacks on the interrogation and detention policies of the US regarding captured terrorists, which most passed off as hyperbole. As it turns out, though, AI appears pretty comfortable partnering with jihadis, as long as AI considers them “defensive” terrorists:

A SENIOR official at Amnesty International has accused the charity of putting the human rights of Al-Qaeda terror suspects above those of their victims.

Gita Sahgal, head of the gender unit at Amnesty’s international secretariat, believes that collaborating with Moazzam Begg, a former British inmate at Guantanamo Bay, “fundamentally damages” the organisation’s reputation. …

Sahgal describes Begg as “Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban”. He has championed the rights of jailed Al-Qaeda members and hate preachers, including Anwar al-Awlaki, the alleged spiritual mentor of the Christmas Day Detroit plane bomber.

Awlaki also counseled Major Nidal Hasan, the man who went on a shooting spree in Fort Hood last fall, killing 14 people. Awlaki is also still considered a suspect in the 9/11 attack plot. He escaped the US before law enforcement could catch up to him, but the 9/11 Commission publicly suggested that Awlaki played an operational role in the conspiracy, having had contact with several of the plotters before the attacks.

Sahgal tried warning AI about allying with the Taliban in an e-mail in January, but was ignored:

“I believe the campaign fundamentally damages Amnesty International’s integrity and, more importantly, constitutes a threat to human rights,” Sahgal wrote in an email to the organisation’s leaders on January 30. “To be appearing on platforms with Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban, whom we treat as a human rights defender, is a gross error of judgment.” …

“As a former Guantanamo detainee it was legitimate to hear his experiences, but as a supporter of the Taliban it was absolutely wrong to legitimise him as a partner,” Sahgal told The Sunday Times.

Let’s consider the ramifications of an AI-Taliban partnership on its face. What exactly are the Taliban’s methods of detention, interrogation, and adjudication? The Taliban conducts kidnappings for ransom, beheads its victims when ransoms don’t get paid, and routinely torture people in villages they control for violations of their radically strict religious code. Somehow, this appeals to AI’s sensibilities while Gitmo remains their bete noir?

This reveals AI as little more than haters of Western civilization, willing to ally themselves to the worst abusers of human rights on the planet just to score a few points against the US and the West. Andy McCarthy is outraged over AI’s defense of their new bestest buddies:

In response to the petition, AI Secretary-General Claudio Cordone has issued a letter in vigorous defense of AI’s collaboration with Begg and Cageprisoners. Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism has the story, here. In the letter, Cordone states AI’s position outright: advocacy of “jihad in self defence” is not antithetical to human rights. That Islamists reserve unto themselves the right to determine when Islam is, as they put it, “under siege,” and when, therefore, forcible jihad is justified, is plainly of no concern — only actions America’s self-defense are worthy of condemnation.

This has long been obvious when it comes to such Leftist bastions as AI and Human Rights Watch. AI has now made the obvious explicit.

AI chose beheaders, torturers, oppressers, and kidnappers as their partners. Does anything more really need to be said?

           — Hat tip: Freedom Fighter[Return to headlines]