Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100503

Financial Crisis
»Finland: Tuomioja Hits Out at Greek Bailout Loan
»German ‘Prudence’ Fed Speculation
»Greece: Frattini, Damage Worse Due to Germany’s Doubts
»Greece: Public Sector Unions Call 48-HR Strike
»Greece Faces “Herculean Task”
»Greece: Lagarde, Change Stability Pact Working
»Greece: Unions on Strike After Accord With EU-IMF
»Italy: Fitch: No Situations Comparable to Greece
»Spain: Governor Central Bank Calls Greek Plan Ambitious
»Spain: Economy at Cenre of Zapatero-Rajoy Talks
»The Mother of All Bubbles
»A Tale of Two Protests
»Analysis of the Times Square Bombing Attempt
»Audio: ‘Absolutely, There Will be More Attacks in New York’
»Frank Gaffney: The Oil Leak’s Silver Lining?
»NYC SUV Bomb Construction Patterned After AQ Manual
»Powerful Forces Calling for a Constitutional Convention
»The Obama-Ayers Meeting: What You Haven’t Been Told
»Climate Policies Based on Distorted Temperatures
Europe and the EU
»Berlin Backs Unpopular Greek Bailout
»Broken Britain: Boy, 14, Beaten to the Brink of Death for His iPod
»Extradition Request Based on Lie, Says Polanski
»France: Tunisian Dissident in Paris, I Want to See Sarkozy
»Iran: Election to UN Women’s Body a ‘Tragedy’
»Italy: Il Croccante E I Pinoli, Stories of Food and Family
»Italy: Calderoli: Fini Doesn’t Like Being Dauphin Forever
»Italy: Burqa Wearer Risks 500-Euro Fine
»Italy: Slain Moroccan Woman’s Memory ‘Honoured’
»Spain: Monument for the Fallen Wanted by Franco May Collapse
»Spiegel Interview With Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi: ‘Switzerland Should be Dissolved as a State’
»Swedish Media Groups Call for Eritrea Aid Ban
»UK: ‘We Cannot Treat Broken Hips’: Nurses Tell Pensioner as She is Left Waiting for Ambulance After Collapsing at Hospital
»UK: Anglican Bishops Meet Vatican Officials to Plot ‘Cloak and Dagger’ Plan to Convert to Catholicism
»UK: Man ‘Evading Arrest’ On Bristol Rooftop
»UK: Our PM Has Lost the Plot — and the Authority to Rule
»UK: Right-Wing Protesters in Stand-Off With Riot Police Over Plans for £18m ‘Mega Mosque’
»UK: Tories Attack Israel, Accuse Labour of Atrocities and Promise to End Expensive Wars
»Defence: Serbia-Kuwait, Accords on Several Projects
»Serbia-US: Military Cooperation Plan for 2011 Signed
Middle East
»Death Penalty: UAE; Man Who Murdered Lover’s Husband Sentenced
»Iraq: Car Bomb Targets Christian Student’s Bus Near Mosul
»Kuwait Airport to Install Hi-Tech Explosives Scanner
»Lebanon: Only 10% of Solid Waste Recycled
»Lebanon: UNIFIL, After Almost 4 Years, Italy Leaves Tibnin
»Mideast Demand Grows, $300 Bln in Orders Forecast
»Saudi Arabia: New Rules to Pardon Unrelated Couples in Car
»Syria-Iran: New Memorandum for Economic Cooperation
»Turkey: Men Dominate Country’s Bureaucracy, Figures
»Turkish PM’s Comparison Draws Ire of Inönü Family
South Asia
»Homegrown Terrorists: German Jihadist Eric Breininger Killed in Pakistan, Group Claims
Far East
»Hong Kong — Macau: May 1: Minimum Wages and Hours as Workers Get Poorer
Australia — Pacific
»Gang Rape Brother to be Freed From Jail
»A Reasoned Moment From an Arizona Perspective
»Sans Papiers to March From Paris to Nice
Culture Wars
»UK: The Orwellian Logic That’s Turning the Faith Britain Was Built on Into a Crime

Financial Crisis

Finland: Tuomioja Hits Out at Greek Bailout Loan

The Social Democrat Chair of the Parliamentary Grand Committee, Erkki Tuomioja has warned of the risk posed by loaning money to Greece. He believes Finland will never get all of its money back. As an alternative to loaning the cash, he would be willing even to accept the dissolution of the eurozone.

Tuomioja, a former Foreign Minister, criticised a statement by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen that loaning money to Greece would be good business. He believed Greece could go bankrupt even with the EU 110 billion euro loan.

Tuomioja added it had been an error to accept Greece as a member of the common euro currency.

It is unlikely the Grand Committee will issue a statement on the loan as the bailout package — part of a supplementary budget — is being fast tracked by the Parliamentary Finance Committee.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

German ‘Prudence’ Fed Speculation

Italy first to say Greece needed bailout, Frattini says

(ANSA) — Rome, May 3 — Germany’s initial reluctance to support a bailout for Greece allowed speculators to make more out of the debt crisis than if action had been quicker, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Monday.

“We respected the prudence of a great country like Germany, we gave them time to think, but in that period the damage increased because international speculators got to work and an initial weakness was turned into a completely unsustainable situation,” Frattini said.

“The later you intervene the worse it is. To avoid damage, the talk at the beginning was of 50 billion euros. We only decided on 110 billion ten days later”.

He called Sunday’s European Union ministers’ approval for the bailout “important, albeit tardy”.

Italy “was the first country to say that the euro as a group had to intervene immediately to help Greece and that any delay would cause further damage,” Frattini said.

Greece sealed the deal Sunday with the EU and International Monetary Fund by launching a major deficit-slashing plan.

The EU is footing 80 billion euros of the bill, with the IMF putting in the remaining 30 bn.

Frattini said: “The collective action by the Euro Group showed that the common home of the euro is an umbrella, an advantage, an unrepeatable opportunity for all those who are part of it”.

“It’s thanks to the euro that countries in the group are stronger”.

Greek Premier Georgee Papandreu telephoned Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Monday to thank Italy for being the first European country to urge intervention for Greece, Cabinet Secretary Gianni Letta said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Frattini, Damage Worse Due to Germany’s Doubts

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 3 — Italy was among the first countries to assert that “it was necessary to intervene immediately to assist Greece: we respected the caution of an important country the likes of Germany, we gave them time to reflect, but in this period the damages increased because international speculators went to work and an initial weakness became an actual situation of unsustainability”. This was the comment made by Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, who then defined the decision made yesterday by the European ministers to deal with the Greek crisis as “important, although late”. “The later intervention takes place,” added the minister, “the worse the situation becomes.” In Frattini’s view, “in order to avoid damages, initially 50 billion euros of aid was discussed. We decided on 110 billion euros just 10 days later.” Undersecretary Gianni Letta also said that decision was made “very late” and that “Italy is not at all responsible for this”. For European Policy Minister Andrea Ronchi, the timetable to intervene for Greece was extended due to “the self-centredness of several countries”. “Too often,” underlined the minister, “self centred tendencies in Europe cause precious time to be wasted and this occurred with the Greek crisis, but also concerning immigration, where Europe has left us alone despite our continued calls for help.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Public Sector Unions Call 48-HR Strike

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 3 — The Greek public sector workers union Adedy has called a 48-hour strike beginning tomorrow — instead of a 24-hour one scheduled for Wednesday — against the “cruel and brutal, unprecedented measures” announced yesterday by the government in exchange for 110 billion euros in aid from the EU and the IMF. While town council workers are striking today against the austerity plan for 30 billion in three years, the executive council of Adedy has urged Greeks to “respond forcefully” tomorrow to the “plundering of workers’ incomes and rights, both in the public sector and the private”. On Wednesday May 5, Adedy’s strike will converge with the general one — the third against the austerity plan so far -in which also the private sector union Gsee and the communist one Pame will be taking part. Air transport will be halted due to protests by air traffic controllers, as will its maritime and land-based counterparts, both urban and national. Hospitals, schools and public offices will also be closed. Premier Giorgio Papandreou has said that the latest measures are the only way “to save the country from bankruptcy”. Unions and the opposition have instead accused him of pushing the country towards a “deep recession” and a “social explosion” with harsh cuts to salaries and pensions for state employees, as well as regulatory interventions in the private sector and a rise in taxes. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece Faces “Herculean Task”

The Swiss press believe Sunday’s announcement by eurozone ministers to bail out debt-crippled Greece is necessary but not without risk.

“Belt tightening”, “crash diet” and “bitter pill” were frequent phrases in editorials on Monday, a day after the European Union and the International Monetary Fund agreed on a €110 billion (SFr158 billion) aid rescue.

Eurozone ministers, meeting in an emergency session, approved the three-year package of emergency loans after Greece committed itself to the painful austerity measures that have sent thousands of Greeks into the streets in protest.

The Greek drama was the top story in Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger, whose editorial said there was “simply no alternative” to providing financial aid.

“The Greeks are certainly not receiving [the rescue package] out of sympathy and definitely not out of solidarity from their eurozone partners. Its sole aim is to stabilise the exchange rate and to prevent the debt crisis spreading to other euro states.”

The only question that people should be asking themselves was how this bought time would be used, the newspaper said.

The answer, in its eyes, was a three-parter: first, Greece had a responsibility to come up with detailed plans on implementing the aid packet, “however painful the consequences for most Greeks”. Second, other European states that were “on the ropes” had to initiate a credible reform programme. Finally, the eurozone itself needed to strengthen its institutions.

Der Bund, in Bern, also headlined with Greece and said the national finances in Europe were a potentially considerable risk for Switzerland. It quoted Philipp Hildebrand, president of the Swiss National Bank (SNB), who warned that a wobbly euro would automatically have a negative effect on “safe haven” Switzerland.

A strong franc hampers Swiss exports because they become expensive and it also puts a brake on tourism. The SNB has spent more than SFr40 billion ($37.2 billion) buying up euros this year to prevent the Swiss franc from gaining further in value.

“Crash diet”

Der Bund also examined the discontent felt among the Greek population, saying they didn’t want to bleed for mistakes made by their government. It quoted a headline in a Greek newspaper: “Greece saved — Greeks destroyed”.

The main picture on the front page of the Fribourg-based La Liberté was of a Greek riot policeman in front of flames at a May 1 demonstration in Athens.

The Basler Zeitung said few nations were as skilful at frittering away money as the Greeks. One of the many “dodgy” schemes it listed was the 40,000 unmarried or divorced daughters of government officials who can inherit their deceased parent’s pension, costing the state some €550 million a year.

Le Temps in Geneva believed the “crash diet” imposed on Greece was a “dangerous cure” that would “mercilessly hit the most disadvantaged members of society”.

“The [IMF aid] will certainly enable Greece to keep its head above water, but it won’t be enough to help it out of the water. Greece is changing creditors, but it isn’t free of the hellish cycle of debt.”

“Greeks receive money but no blank cheque,” was the headline in the Tribune de Genève, which said the eurozone ministers had agreed a quid pro quo deal that would force the Greek government to tighten its belt. It too acknowledged that it wouldn’t go down well with the Greek in the street.

Tabloid Blick on the other hand reckoned it was “raining money” over Greece last night, adding that Swiss banks played a side role in the affair, housing billions of euros gained from Greek tax fraud.


The Berner Zeitung also talked of a “drastic cure” and described the measures agreed as “draconian”, which, classicists will know, derives from Draco, an Athenian legal scribe under whom small offenses had heavy punishments.

The classical references continued in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, which, next to a picture of protestors attacking riot police in Athens, quoted Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou as saying his government faced a “Herculean task”. The paper said the country’s “unprecedented modernisation” would also require great sacrifices from the population.

Frontpage of the week goes to The Economist in London: “Acropolis Now” was how it titled its latest edition, referring to Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam classic, Apocalypse Now. Over pictures of EU helicopters swooping to the aid of Athens, a combat-clad Angela Merkel is muttering “the horror, the horror”, the last words in the film of Colonel Kurtz, a highly decorated officer who goes renegade.

“There comes a moment in many debt crises when events spiral out of control … The Greek crisis — or more properly Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis — looked dangerously close to that,” said the paper’s editorial, admittedly before Sunday’s deal was announced.

United States President Barack Obama said on Sunday he welcomed Greece’s ambitious reform programme and praised the support Athens had from fellow eurozone members.

However, Papandreou struck a more sombre note. “It is an unprecedented support package for an unprecedented effort by the Greek people,” he said during a televised cabinet meeting while wearing a dark purple tie, the colour used for funerals in Greece.

Thomas Stephens,

Debt bailout

European nations aim to formally launch the biggest-ever financial bailout of a country this week, hoping to calm markets wary that Greece’s rescue may be the first of several, expensive measures to shore up other economies.

The euro fell on Monday despite the EU/IMF bailout announced at the weekend on doubts about whether Greece can sustain the austerity measures it has promised in exchange for the €110 billion euro (SFr158 billion) package and if other eurozone countries are vulnerable.

Greece intends to bring its fiscal deficit down to the EU limit of three per cent of gross domestic product by 2014 from 13.6 per cent in 2009.

The first rescue of a member of the 16-nation bloc aims to stem a debt crisis that has shaken markets, dented confidence in the euro and begun to spread to fellow eurozone weaklings Portugal and Spain. Berlin’s hesitancy has fuelled market panic.

Eurozone leaders will hold a special summit on Friday to formally launch the aid, following weeks of tough talk and procrastination due to public opposition to handouts for Greece.

German politicians have voiced reluctance to approve the rescue, posing a challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel who said she would fight for parliamentary approval by the end of the week. Berlin’s share of the loans is the biggest of any EU state at about €22 billion out of €80 billion.

International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn forecast the IMF board would approve its €30 billion contribution to the package this week.

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

Greece: Lagarde, Change Stability Pact Working

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, MAY 3 — “We must change the way the stability pact works”, the pact closed by the euro countries, said French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde in an interview with Le Monde. “We must imperatively place under our radarscope the monitoring of competitiveness and financial stability,” Lagarde continued, “and we must act more effectively if debt, deficit or competitiveness get out of hand. Implementing prevention and warning systems to know when a country may start to get out (of the pact’s boundaries)”. “I am no eurosceptic” she added. “If we want to have an impact on the world’s destination we must act as one. Anything that weakens Europe weakens our position on the global chessboard”. La Lagarde stressed that she is certain that the plan developed by the EU and IMF will “completely protect Greece for two and a half years”, eliminating the need to loan on the bond market. “It will be protected against external risks” she added, “which will allow the country to implement its reorganisation”. The Minister then attacked the rating agencies and the “scandalous conditions” in which they downgraded Greece’s rating. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Unions on Strike After Accord With EU-IMF

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — The Greek public sector workers union Adedy has called a 48-hour strike beginning tomorrow — instead of a 24-hour one scheduled for Wednesday — against the “cruel and brutal, unprecedented measures” announced yesterday by the government in exchange for 110 billion euros in aid from the EU and the IMF. While town council workers are striking today against the austerity plan for 30 billion in three years, the executive council of Adedy has urged Greeks to “respond forcefully” tomorrow to the “plundering of workers’ incomes and rights, both in the public sector and the private”. On Wednesday May 5, Adedy’s strike will converge with the general one — the third against the austerity plan so far -in which also the private sector union Gsee and the communist one Pame will be taking part. Air transport will be halted due to protests by air traffic controllers, as will its maritime and land-based counterparts, both urban and national. Hospitals, schools and public offices will also be closed. Premier Giorgio Papandreou has said that the latest measures are the only way “to save the country from bankruptcy”. Unions and the opposition have instead accused him of pushing the country towards a “deep recession” and a “social explosion” with harsh cuts to salaries and pensions for state employees, as well as regulatory interventions in the private sector and a rise in taxes. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Fitch: No Situations Comparable to Greece

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 3 — Marco Cecchi Dé Rossi, Fitch’s number one in Italy, has ruled out the existence in Europe of situations as difficult as that being faced by Greece. “We are convinced that there are no comparisons to be made with the current state of affairs, and we reflect this in the ratings,” said Cecchi Dé Rossi during a meeting at Bocconi on ratings agencies. Cecchì De Rossi added that “the rating in Greece is extremely different from that of Italy, Portugal, France, Germany and Spain”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Governor Central Bank Calls Greek Plan Ambitious

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 3 — Both the agreement with EU and IMF to help the Greek economy with 110 billion euros and the austerity plan promoted by the Greek government are “very important steps forward” to resolve the crisis, said the governor of the Bank of Spain Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordoez, today. He called the Greek programme “correct and ambitious”. The governor stressed that the Spanish situation is very different from the situation in Greece: “In our country the system makes it almost impossible to deceive with official statistics”. Fernandez Ordoez recognised however that Spain has a tax problem. He said that “many countries would like to have our level of public debt”. The governor insisted that Spain has to learn from the crisis in Greece and carry out the necessary reforms, particularly reforms of the labour market, to align itself with the Eurozone countries. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Economy at Cenre of Zapatero-Rajoy Talks

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 3 — A year and a half on from the last meeting in the government palace, Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the leader of the opposition People’s Party, Mariano Rajoy, are to meet at Moncloa Palace on Wednesday to discuss the aid package for Greece and the situation of Spain’s financial system. The news was announced by sources close to the executive and quoted by the agency EFE. The meeting is the initiative of the socialist Prime Minister, who last met the PP leader at Moncloa on October 14 2008, when Rajoy committed himself to helping the government launch the bail-out of the financial sector. The aid programme agreed between Greece and the EU and the IMF will cost Spain around 10 billion euros. The meeting between Zapatero and Rajoy will be the third in this parliamentary term, and comes at a time when more than 8 out of 10 Spaniards (81%) disapprove of the measures adopted by the government, according to a survey by Metroscopia that was published yesterday by El Pais. The survey also found that 62% of Spaniards are against the measures ratified by the EU. The worst figure for Zapatero, however, comes in the form of the 64% of the electorate that consider his economic remedy insufficient, while 62% of those questioned said that contamination of the country by Greece was fairly or very probable. Overall, 87% consider the economic situation to be negative and believe that it will be some time before the country is lead out of the crisis. 66% disapprove of Zapatero’s leadership, with 83% saying that he is “constantly improvising” while 77% believe that he deserves “little or no confidence”. The head of government, though, is not the only one to be damaged by the recession. Mariano Rajoy, the PP leader, has an even lower approval rating, with 49% of those who vote for his own party saying he deserves “little or no confidence. In general, 3 out of 4 Spaniards believe the political situation in Spain to be negative. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The Mother of All Bubbles

Huge National Debts Could Push Euro Zone into Bankruptcy

Greece is only the beginning. The world’s leading economies have long lived beyond their means, and the financial crisis caused government debt to swell dramatically. Now the bill is coming due, but not all countries will be able to pay it. By SPIEGEL staff.

Savvas Robolis is one of Greece’s most distinguished economics professors. He advises cabinet ministers and union bosses. He is also a successful author and a frequent guest on the country’s highest-rated talk shows. But for several days now, it has been clear to Robolis, 64, the eminence grise of Greece’s left-wing academia, that he no longer has any influence.

His opposite number, Poul Thomsen, the Danish chief negotiator for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is currently something of a chief debt inspector in the virtually bankrupt Mediterranean country. He recently took three-quarters of an hour to meet with Robolis and Giannis Panagopoulos, the president of the powerful trade union confederation GSEE. At 9 a.m. on Tuesday of last week, the men met behind closed doors in a conference room in the basement of the Grande Bretagne, a luxury hotel in Athens. The mood, says Robolis, was “icy.”

Robolis told the IMF negotiator that radical wage cuts would be toxic for Greece’s already comatose economy. He said that the Greeks, given their weak competitive position, primarily needed innovation and investment, and that a one-sided fixation on cleaning up the national budget would destroy the last vestiges of economic strength in Greece. The IMF, according to Robolis, could not make the same mistake as it did in Argentina in the early 1990s. “Don’t put Greece on ice!” the professor warned.

But the tall Dane was not very impressed. He has negotiated aid packages with Iceland, Ukraine and Romania in the past, and when he and his 20-member delegation landed in Athens on April 18, they had come to impose a rigorous austerity program on the Greeks, not to devise long-term growth programs.

Thomsen’s mandate is to save the euro zone. And any Greek resistance is futile.

Time to Foot the Bill

Robolis versus Thomsen. For the moment, this is the last skirmish between the old ideas and ideals of prosperity paid for on credit and a generous state, against the new realization that the time has come to foot the bill. The only question is: Who’s paying?

The euro zone is pinning its hopes on Thomsen and his team. His goal is to achieve what Europe’s politicians are not confident they can do on their own, namely to bring discipline to a country that, through manipulation and financial inefficiency, has plunged the European single currency into its worst-ever crisis.

If the emergency surgery isn’t successful, there will be much more at stake than the fate of the euro. Indeed, Europe could begin to erode politically as a result. The historic project of a united continent, promoted by an entire generation of politicians, could suffer irreparable damage, and European integration would suffer a serious setback — perhaps even permanently.

And the global financial world would be faced with a new Lehman Brothers, the American investment bank that collapsed in September 2008, taking the global economy to the brink of the abyss. It was only through massive government bailout packages that a collapse of the entire financial system was averted at the time.

A similar scenario could unfold once again, except that this time it would be happening at a higher level, on the meta-level of exorbitant government debt. This fear has had Europe’s politicians worried for weeks, but their crisis management efforts have failed. For months, they have been unable to contain the Greek crisis.

Attacked by Speculators

European governments agree that saving Greece is imperative. They are worried about the euro, and the Germans are concerned about their banks, which, lured by the prospect of high returns, have become saturated with government bonds from Greece and other southern European countries. They are also terrified that after a Greek bankruptcy, other weak euro countries could be attacked by speculators and forced to their knees.

There are, in fact, striking similarities to the Lehman bankruptcy. This isn’t exactly surprising. The financial crisis isn’t over by a long shot, but has only entered a new phase. Today, the world is no longer threatened by the debts of banks but by the debts of governments, including debts which were run up rescuing banks just a year ago.

The banking crisis has turned into a crisis of entire nations, and the subprime mortgage bubble into a government debt bubble. This is why precisely the same questions are being asked today, now that entire countries are at risk of collapse, as were being asked in the fall of 2008 when the banks were on the brink: How can the calamity be prevented without laying the ground for an even bigger disaster? Can a crisis based on debt be solved with even more debt? And who will actually rescue the rescuers in the end, the ones who overreached?

‘Great Sacrifices’

Take, for example, the countries that will pay for the Greek bailout. The country could need as much as €120 billion or €130 billion — or even more — over the next three years.

At the weekend, euro-zone members and the IMF agreed on a €110 billion bailout package over three years. The EU will provide €80 billion in loans, with Germany’s share over three years amounting to €22 billion, including €8.4 billion in the first year alone. Greece will have to impose further austerity measures in return. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said they would involve “great sacrifices,” saying: “It is an unprecedented support package for an unprecedented effort by the Greek people.”

Euro-zone leaders will formally launch the package, which still needs to be approved by the German Bundestag and a number of other euro-zone parliaments, at a summit on Friday. The aid will be released ahead of May 19, when Greece next needs to make debt repayments.

Caught in the Maelstrom

The money would be well invested if Athens succeeds in getting its state finances under control within the three-year time period, through rigid austerity measures and successful economic management.

But if it doesn’t? Then the money, or at least some of it, will be gone. Then all the things that the rescue measures were intended to prevent could in fact transpire: Lenders would have to write off their claims, banks would have to be rescued once again, speculators would force the rest of the weak PIIGS nations (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) to their knees — and the euro would fall apart.

If that happened, the rescuers themselves would be at risk. Even Germany, in international terms a country with relatively sound finances, has amassed enormous debts. If it became caught up in the maelstrom of a euro crisis, the consequences would be unforeseeable. The credit rating of Europe’s strongest economy would be downgraded and Germany would have to pay higher and higher interest rates for more and more loans. Future generations would shoulder an even greater burden as a result.

But what is the alternative? Should Europe simply allow Greece to go bankrupt instead? In that case, the possible future scenario would happen right away instead.

One might argue that it is better to get things over quickly, even if that is painful, rather than prolonging the agony. But one can also hope that everything will turn out for the best in the end. The euro-zone countries prefer to hope, which is why they have agree to a rescue program that will provide Greece with the funds it can no longer borrow on the open market, now that it is being forced to pay such high interest rates.

Part 2: Living Beyond Their Means

By Alexander Jung, Armin Mahler, Alexander Neubacher, Christoph Pauly, Christian Reiermann, Wolfgang Reuter, Hans-Jürgen Schlamp, Thomas Schulz, Daniel Steinvorth and Helene Zuber

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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


A Tale of Two Protests

During coverage of the Tea Parties, conservatives were equated by my own, washed-up representative as Brown Shirts. The protesters were portrayed by the media as an angry, racist mob. The Department of Homeland Security issued warnings that health care opponents, ex-military members, abortion foes and Ron Paul supporters had all the markers of domestic terrorists. They were derided as “Tea-Baggers” and mocked by everyone from pimply-faced ObamaBots steeped in so much liberal claptrap they are clueless to the reality that their Savior has bankrupted their entire generation, to Barack Obama himself. Liberals hurled allegations of racist and homophobic epithets and Congressmen being spat upon, but no conclusive proof has ever materialized, despite a large monetary award. Indeed, no effort has been spared to demonize Americans who have profound and unwavering ideological differences on the direction their country has taken.

Contrast that with the softball treatment that illegal aliens and their supporters are receiving while trying to convince Americans to dissolve the border and devalue US citizenship even more than it already is by granting it to those who cut in line and have no legal right to it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Analysis of the Times Square Bombing Attempt

During interviews yesterday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano described the failed vehicle bomb in Times Square as “one off,” suggesting, by definition that the event appears to be a one-time occurrence. Other counter-terrorism officials and commentators have further depicted the bomb assembly as “amateurish.”

Meanwhile, political agendas appear to be overruling logical analysis and common sense. Liberals and progressives are speculating that the person or persons behind the failed attack are likely to be angry right-wing “tea-baggers,” while the right wing conservatives are suggesting possibilities that range from Islamic terrorists to a possible false flag operation intent on curtailing more of our liberties. Let’s look at the facts outside of the influence of politics and political correctness: Bomb composition: The bomb was composed of three filled propane tanks, two 5-gallon containers of gasoline, an ammunition locker type of box filled with inert fertilizer. The triggering mechanism was identified as a can filled with about 2 dozen M-88 type commercial firecrackers hooked to at least one alarm clock. A second alarm clock inside the vehicle was destroyed by fire.

The construction of the bomb is very similar in design to the vehicle bombs used in the attempted attack in London in 2007. The vehicle bomb in London failed to detonate due to an incorrect fuel-air mixture. The Times Square bomb failed, perhaps, due to design flaws, although further investigation will bear that out. In both cases, however, the bombs were noticed when smoke began coming from each vehicle.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Audio: ‘Absolutely, There Will be More Attacks in New York’

Muslim extremist warns America: Times Square just the beginning

A Muslim extremist who earlier warned that TV’s “South Park” creators should be “afraid for their lives” for insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad now says that yesterday’s car bomb attempt in Times Square will be just the beginning of a new wave of terrorist attacks.

Younus Abdullah Muhammad, author of, told WND senior reporter Aaron Klein on New York’s WABC Radio that America should “absolutely” expect more jihadi violence in New York City.

When asked if the Times Square attack was specifically aimed at the offices of nearby Viacom, which owns the “South Park” series, Abdullah Muhammad deflected the question to condemn U.S. foreign policy instead.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: The Oil Leak’s Silver Lining?

It is hard to see anything positive about the offshore drilling debacle that has countless barrels of oil washing ashore in Louisiana, and perhaps soon in other Gulf states. The environmental and economic damage will come at an incalculably high price to a region— and, for that matter, a country— that can ill-afford either.

Those costs would only increase, possibly exponentially, in the event regulators responded to public concerns that further oil leaks might emanate from offshore platforms by cutting back on production in the Gulf of Mexico. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was at pains over the weekend to point out that 30% of the nation’s energy supplies come from those wells, and there would be grave harm to the U.S. economy if there were any appreciable suspension of such flows.

Still, it would be foolish to ignore the possibility that the repercussions of the present crisis will be made much more far-reaching if it precipitates the sort of panic that took hold after the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear facility in 1979 or the oil leak off Santa Barbara a decade earlier…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

NYC SUV Bomb Construction Patterned After AQ Manual

A six-part law enforcement sensitive investigative analysis published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in April 2009 also warned of the increasing likelihood of a bomb of this type (propane tanks and fuel canisters) being used in against civilian targets to cause significant casualties. Buildings with glass windows, underground parking garages, and areas crowded with pedestrians (such as Times Square) were identified or suggested as prime target areas.

The operational tactics studied by U.S. DHS officials of al Qaeda’s tactics, specifically those written by now-jailed Islamic terrorist Dhiren BAROT (depicted in image at left), served as the basis for this study. Officials found that BAROT spent a great deal of time in New York City in 2000 and 2001, engaging in surveillance of target selection. As a result, BAROT compiled a 39-page “instruction manual” that outlined the selection of targets, how to create bombs using propane tanks and fuel containers, and the use of SUVs and vans. BAROT also gave instructions on when to use such bombs to cause the maximum number of casualties.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Powerful Forces Calling for a Constitutional Convention

In December, 2008, my American Policy Center (APC) led a fight to stop Ohio from becoming the 33rd state to call for a Constitutional Convention (Con Con). In the 1980’s 32 other states had passed Con Con resolutions for the specific purpose of passing a balanced budget amendment. Had that resolution passed the Ohio legislature, we would have been just one state away from such an event. We argued then that one cannot call a Con Con to discuss just one issue. Once a Con Con is in place, there is no controlling the agenda.


The main groups pushing for a Con Con are the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative association of state legislators; and a new group calling itself the 10 Amendments for Freedom, Inc, chaired by William Fruth, President of POLICOM Corporation, which provides independent economics research

While ALEC is working behind the scenes to build support for a Con Con among state legislators, Fruth and his 10 Amendments for Freedom group has moved into the public eye to sell the Con Con idea to mainstream America. In March, Fruth kicked off his campaign by mailing out a slick, expensive package to conservative leaders and to over 7,000 state legislators. The package contained a book written by Fruth entitled “10 Amendments for Freedom.”


The fact is, once 34 states petition Congress to convene a Constitutional Convention, the matter is completely out of the States’ hands. There is absolutely no ability to control what the delegates do in the convention. Attempting to instruct delegates to discuss only a specific issue like a balanced budget — or the whole package offered by the 10 Amendments for Freedom group — is absolutely impossible. Instead, once the convention starts, the delegates become super delegates which can take any action they desire concerning the Constitution. In short, at the convention the Constitution can be literally put on an operating table and the delegates can take a “scalpel” (pen) to it and change any section or even the entire document if they desire.

What proof do I offer? Here are the exact words of Article V of the Constitution: “…on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, (Congress) shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which…shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States.”

Article V gives absolutely no guidelines as to how it will be run, how delegates can be selected and who can do the selecting. Once the 34 states make the request, the entire matter is in the hands of Congress to decide. It does not matter if the states passed resolutions as Fruth proposes, containing absolute guidelines for delegate selection. The Constitution provides no rules — it is up to Congress to decide how delegates are selected and what qualifications they will have. The guidelines proposed by Fruth carry absolutely no weight in the final process — even if every state passes the exact same resolution including those rules. Again, Article V simply says that when 34 states have called for a Con Con the Congress “shall call a Convention…” Period.

And there is more legal proof in support of the argument that delegates are not bound by any instructions or resolutions from the states.

First, of course, is the famous letter written by former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger to Phyllis Schlafly, President of Eagle Forum. In the letter Burger writes, “…there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the convention to one amendment or to one issue, but there is no way to assure that the convention would obey. After a convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the convention if we don’t like its agenda. The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed by the confederated Congress…”


Today, we have Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. These are the people who will decide the rules for the convention, including delegate selection. Keep in mind, these are the people who just managed to ram through a health “reform” bill that the overwhelming majority of Americans opposed. These are the same people who managed to pass the bailout package opposed (according to polls) by almost 80% of the American people.

Do you trust them to follow the rules dictated by state legislatures? Do you think Pelosi and Reid would pass up an opportunity to set their own rules to guarantee a Constitution to their liking? Do you think for one minute that they would take any steps to protect our Constitution?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Obama-Ayers Meeting: What You Haven’t Been Told

Most exhaustive investigation ever into prez’s background, radical ties

A new book released today uncovers for the first time where and how President Obama first met Weather Underground terrorist-group founder William Ayers — and it is much earlier than previously believed.

The book reveals the two were brought together by a student of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky, whose name, it has emerged, was obscured in Obama’s autobiography “Dreams from My Father.”

The new book, “The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists, Socialists and other Anti-American Extremists,” charges Obama has deep ties to an anti-American extremist nexus that has been instrumental not only in building his political career but in crafting current White House policy.

The book exposes an extremist coalition of communists, socialists and other radicals working both inside and outside the administration to draft and advance current White House policy goals.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Climate Policies Based on Distorted Temperatures

A speaker from Natural Resources Canada followed me at a conference on “Global Climate Change: Forest Industry Impacts and Responses.” He was speaking in a section titled, “Science and Climate Change Modeling” presumably providing the official government position. Did the Minister approve his position? Government employees doing research almost guarantees a compromise with science. Worse, they have the entire power of government to impose their views. It is at the heart of the problems with climate science because Maurice Strong promoted the bad science through the bureaucracies of the UN and then weather agencies in every country. Instead of disproving the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) hypothesis following normal scientific procedure they worked to prove it. The conference tells the story. It was more about dealing with government policies than with the validity of the science on which those policies were based.

[…] Governments continue to impose rules and regulations based on incorrect climate science using their own manipulated data. They control the research in-house or through funding and are the source of the data that is poorly measured and modified inappropriately, always to create warming. Government scientists are caught between practicing true skeptical science and buying, without question, the government position.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Berlin Backs Unpopular Greek Bailout

The German government on Monday thrashed out details of Berlin’s unpopular contribution to a Greek aid package, dubbed the “fattest cheque of all time” by the mass-circulation Bild daily.

Chancellor Angela Merkel aims to rush the legal framework for Germany’s slice of the €110-billion ($146-billion) package, around €22 billion over three years, through an accelerated parliamentary procedure by Friday.

In the teeth of public opposition and with a key regional election looming, Merkel has been seen as cautious to helping out Greece, but stated on Sunday that the bailout was “the only way to ensure the stability of the euro.”

Merkel has enough support to push through the legislation without the help of opposition parties, but the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) seemed to be leaning towards supporting the bill, as did the Greens.

The European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, met SPD leaders on Monday and said after talks that he could “count on the support” of the party in a vote in parliament on Friday. And the co-head of the Greens, Claudia Roth, told rolling news channel NTV that “there is no alternative to European solidarity …. there must be support” for aid to Greece.

Market analysts saw little risk of the legislation being blocked.

Dirk Schumacher from Goldman Sachs said: “While there can be little doubt that many MPs do not like the package at all, things have progressed too far to be stopped now in our view. We see only a very small risk that the financial help will be stopped by parliament.”

However, public opposition to bailing out Greece remains strong, with the most recent poll, on Sunday, showing 56 percent of people believe handing aid to Athens is wrong. Just 39 percent were in favour.

In a bid to soothe opposition, German officials have stressed taxpayers’ euros are not on the line, saying loans to Greece would come from the state-owned development bank, the KfW, with Berlin offering loan guarantees.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told mass circulation daily Bild on Monday: “I am confident that there will be no damage for the German taxpayer if the programme is fully implemented.”

And a top economist also rode to the government’s aid Monday, saying that German taxpayers could even make a profit on the deal.

“We have a good chance of seeing the money again,” Michael Huether, head of the influential IW economic institute, told the Hamburger Abendblatt daily. “At the end of the day, we could get five percent on the money we have handed out and we ourselves only paid three percent for it. In the longer-term, the rescue package should not impact the taxpayer,” he added.

Nevertheless, the government is also bracing itself for a likely challenge in the constitutional court, Germany’s highest, from academics who campaigned against the creation of the euro in the first place.

On Sunday, eurozone nations agreed to offer a loan package to Greece worth €110 billion over three years, with the IMF providing €30 billion.

And next Sunday, Merkel, who won a second term in September, faces voters from Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, in an election that could see her coalition lose its majority in the upper house.

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

Broken Britain: Boy, 14, Beaten to the Brink of Death for His iPod

Surrounded by tubes and medical technology, a 14-year-old boy clings to life in intensive care.

Tyler Molloy was beaten nearly to death by a gang of teenagers after they stole his iPod.

He was in a coma for two days and will not be able to return to school until September at the earliest.

Last night his mother called for action on the gang culture.

‘One of the worst mistakes this Government has ever made was taking away the rights of parents to chastise their children,’ said Jerry Molloy, from Clapham, south-west London.

‘Maybe if there was more discipline and better parenting, these children wouldn’t end up in gangs, destroying people’s lives.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Extradition Request Based on Lie, Says Polanski

In an open letter published in Swiss newspapers on Monday, film director Roman Polanski has argued in his own words why he should be set free.

The Oscar winner is under house arrest at his chalet in Gstaad while awaiting possible extradition to the United States for sentencing in a child-sex case stemming from 1977.

“Thirty-three years ago I pleaded guilty, served my sentence in a normal prison, not a VIP jail, which should have covered the entirety of my term. When I left prison, the judge changed his mind,” he writes.

In the letter titled “I can no longer keep quiet”, Polanski says it was time to break his silence seven months after his arrest in Zurich because a Californian court recently rejected his request to be sentenced in absentia.

Polanski says the extradition request by justice authorities in the United States is “based on a lie” and ulterior motives.

“I can no longer keep quiet now because the same causes produce the same effects and the new attorney handling this case … is also on the campaign trail and in need of media fame!” Polanski wrote.

The 76-year-old French-Polish national lays out eight points in support of his case. He says prosecutors from the original case have testified under oath that the director has already served enough time, that his victim has repeatedly requested the case be dropped and that the courts are issuing rulings that contradict themselves.

“This is what I have to say in the hope that Switzerland will recognise there are no grounds for extradition and that I will be able to find peace again and join my family in freedom in my country,” he concluded.

Swiss authorities responded on Monday afternoon, saying it is up to US justice officials to review Polanski’s arguments.

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

France: Tunisian Dissident in Paris, I Want to See Sarkozy

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, MAY 3 — The dissident Tunisian journalist Taoufik Ben Brik, who was freed last Tuesday after spending six months in a Tunisian jail, arrived in Paris this weekend, where he expressed his desire to meet the French President Nicolas Sarkozy. “For a persecuted Tunisian, France will always remain the promised land,” Ben Brik told the French media, calling for the Head of State to “establish peaceful dialogue with the Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali”. The journalist then explained that he would turn to the U.S. President Barack Obama if Sarkozy refused to meet. Ben Brik also said that he dreams of becoming President of Tunisia, in elections to be held in 2014. “I have been working towards this for twenty years,” he said. “I dream of becoming the first democratically elected Arab President. It’s a Martin Luther King-style dream.” The journalist was arrested on October 22 last year and sentenced to six months in prison on November 26, after being accused of attacking a driver in Tunis after a collision. Ben Brik has maintained throughout that he was the victim of an organised plot, on account of his opposition to President Ben Ali. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Iran: Election to UN Women’s Body a ‘Tragedy’

New York, 3 May (AKI) — Iran’s election to an influential United Nations panel that promotes women’s rights has provoked fierce opposition in Italy and elsewhere. The Italian daily, Corriere della Sera described the appointment to the UN Commission on the Status of Women as a “tragedy.

“Who knows how this commission will defend women’s rights when it comes to the Gohar Dasht prison in the northern Iran city of Karai where in 2005 dozens of women prisoners were reported missing and feared to have been the victims of rape and other unimaginable violence,” asked Corriere writer Pierluigi Battista in an editorial published on Monday.

On Thursday, the UN announced that Iran, and 10 other countries, had been elected to the high-profile commission for the term beginning in 2011.

Apart from Thailand, Iran was the only nation that put forward candidates to fill two empty seats for the commission’s Asian bloc.

Earlier, Iran announced it was dropping a bid for membership in the UN Human Rights Council after facing strong criticism over its human rights record and major opposition from Western nations.

Often critical of the UN, The Wall Street Journal’s European edition on Monday published an editorial attacking Iran’s seat on the commission and referred to the “nightmare” faced by Iranian women.

“Ending the kind of nightmares lived by Iranian women was precisely what Eleanor Roosevelt had in mind in 1946, when she read an open letter to “the women of the world” that would help inspire the UN’s women’s commission,” the editorial said.

“Its goals were lofty and remain as important. Reality, as practiced by the UN, has been otherwise.”

The United States made no formal gesture of disapproval during an acclamation vote affirming the Islamic nation’s appointment to the 45-nation group.

But US congressman Thaddeus McCotter, a congressman from the state of Michigan condemned the move.

“By electing the Tehran butchers to its commission on the status of women — a morally rancid United Nations has salted the wounds of the Iranian freedom movement’s regime-murdered martyrs.”

Canadian foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon issued a statement on Saturday expressing “serious concerns” about Iran’s treatment of women.

“We deplore this development but will use Iran’s membership on this body to take the Iranian authorities to task for their systemic human rights violations,” Cannon said.

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

Italy: Il Croccante E I Pinoli, Stories of Food and Family

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 30 — Telling the story of a family, but also the story of a world — the Jewish world — through the kitchen, the place where food and scents evoke memories and where each dish is rooted in tradition: this is the amusing and original approach of Antonella Ottai, who has published “Il Croccante e i Pinoli” for Sellerio. The book was presented yesterday afternoon in the central library of Rome. Six recipes, but also six typical moments in a family of different origins and traditions, which Antonella Ottai — who has a Jewish-Hungarian father and a mother from Abruzzo — has selected to tell her daughter, Giorgia, who is about to form her own family. The book in fact was written by chance as the writer explains: “after a simple request of my daughter to write her some recipes”. This request triggered an explosion of memories in the writer’s mind. “Writing down the family meals became an opportunity to think back to the past and to my roots”, said Ottai, who teaches performing arts and multimedia at Rome’s La Sapienza University. That way, the Magyar traditions described in the Tokany (dishes based on meat, onions, peas and cream) and the traditions of the Roman Jewish kitchen with endive and anchovy are combined with recipes from Abruzzo (poor food and “always the same”). While dishes based on yoghurt and cucumber are mixed with the flavour of rose marmalade and the poppy seed strudel of aunt Rosa (who fled Hungary in 1956 keeping its secrets to herself), they take the reader by the hand making food the leitmotiv which keeps identity and family membership together. “An elegant story about gastronomic traditions and a sense of family” commented Luca De Filippo, son of the great Eduardo, a friend of Ottai. And in fact “Il Croccante e i Pinoli” alternates practical and amusing advice and ironic unfiltered stories of the ups and downs (losses, traumas, separations) experienced by uncles and aunts, fathers and mothers. “It was my task to tell these stories” the writer concluded, specifying that “there are no recipes. There are only doses, elements that can be combined”. The secret of tradition does the rest. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Calderoli: Fini Doesn’t Like Being Dauphin Forever

(AGI) — Rome, 2 May — Gianfranco Fini feels “frustrated being a dauphin forever.” “He should win his medals struggling on the battlefield, proving he represents the future, “ said Roberto Calderoli commenting on the Pdl debate. .

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

Italy: Burqa Wearer Risks 500-Euro Fine

Woman stopped by police under new local ‘burqa ban’ law

(ANSA) — Novara, May 3 — A woman visiting a post office in the northwest city of Novara could receive a 500-euro-fine for wearing a burqa after she was stopped by police under new local rules. The foreign-born woman was swiftly identified by police but she is still eligible for a penalty under a city ordinance that took effect in January. The new regulation prohibits any clothing that prevents the immediate identification of the wearer inside public buildings, schools and hospitals. The city police said the woman was stopped during a series of spot checks.

“The ordinance is being applied in the instant case because the woman was inside the post office at the time, which is a public building,” said police chief Paolo Cortese.

The maximum fine for violating the ordinance is 500 euros but Cortese said his office was still assessing the circumstances of the incident and an appropriate penalty.

The ordinance was introduced by Mayor Massimo Giordano, a member of the populist Northern League party that favours tougher immigration controls. It was issued under a 1975 national anti-terrorism law, which forbids any mask or clothing that makes it impossible to identify the wearer.

Cortese said the Novara ordinance had been sent to the Interior Ministry to ensure its compliance with the national law. “The ministry commented on the technical aspects of the ordinance, limiting its application to schools, hospitals and public buildings,” he said. Commenting on the decision to fine the woman, Mayor Giordano said he had hoped issuing the ordinance would be sufficient to deter women from covering up.

“But unfortunately it is apparently not yet clear to everyone that clothes preventing the wearer’s identification can be tolerated at home but not in public places, in schools, on buses or in post offices,” he said. “There are still some people that refuse to understand that our community in Novara does not accept and does not want people going around wearing the burqa”. The mayor described the ordinance as “the only tool at our disposal to stop behavior that makes the already difficult process of integration even harder”. Novara is not the first local authority in Italy to introduce such rules under the 1975 law.

Fermignano in the Marche and Montegrotto Terme near Padua have both issued identical ordinances, while a burqa-clad woman in Treviso was taken to a police station in 2008 during a post office visit. The current law permits exceptions for ‘justified cause’, which has been interpreted as including religious reasons in court rulings against local bans on the burqa.

However, a Northern League bill currently before parliament would amend the 1975 law to make specific reference to Islamic face coverings. The proposed wording would prohibit “the use of female garments common among women of Islamic faith known as burqas and niqabs”.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Belgium’s lower house on Friday voted unanimously to prohibit women from wearing full face veils in public. If the bill receives a green light from the Senate, it would become Europe’s first national ‘burqa ban’.

Around 30 of Belgium’s half a million Muslims are thought to wear full face coverings. No equivalent estimates have been made in Italy, where Islam is the second largest religion after Catholicism Italy with around 1.2 million faithful.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Slain Moroccan Woman’s Memory ‘Honoured’

Udine, 3 May (AKI) — As the trial of a Moroccan man accused of stabbing his daughter to death in an honour killing opened in the northern Italian city of Udine on Monday, a Muslim politician said all Italians “are on the side of women”.

El Ketawi Dafani is facing murder charges after allegedly stabbing his 18-year-old daughter to death for falling in love with an Italian man in the small town of Montereale Valcellina, northwest of Trieste.

Sanaa Dafani was stabbed in the throat in September, while she was sitting in a car with her 31-year-old boyfriend.

Souad Sbai, an Italian MP for prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party, who heads the Association for Moroccan Women in Italy, attended the opening day of the trial on Monday.

“Our presence here doesn’t only honour the memory of Sanaa, whose only guilt was being free, but it is a symbol of our fight to protect women locked up in their homes deprived of their dignity,” said Moroccan-born Sbai (photo) in a statement.

“Women too often pay with their lives because of their desire to determine their own existence,” said Sbai, who attended the trial’s opening day with other members of her group.

Italian media reports said that Muslim El Ketawi Dafani, objected to religious differences between his daughter and her boyfriend and their plans to live together.

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

Spain: Monument for the Fallen Wanted by Franco May Collapse

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 3 — La Valle de los Cados (in English: Valley of the Fallen), the monumental memorial in the valley of San Lorenzo dell’Escorial for those who have given their lives for the country, is close to its collapse. It has been partially closed for the public amid serious controversy. It was ordered by Francisco Franco and built between 1940 and 1957 by 20,000 war prisoners and is located inside the abbey ‘Santa Cruz della Valle de los Caidos’, at the foot of the 150 metre high cross, with the basilica dug out 260m inside the rock, at a distance of 58km from Madrid. The monument contains the tomb of ‘generalissimo’ Franco and of the founder of the ‘Falange’, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, together with the remains of 33,872 national and republican army war victims. According to historians, their mortal remains have been brought in from mass graves found on several locations in Spain. A report of National Heritage — the national institute that manages the country’s architectural heritage — quoted today by newspaper Pubblico, revealed on November 11 that the monument in the past years has been showing “considerable and dangerous deterioration”. The danger of collapse is highest for the eight groups of sculptures made by Juan de Avalos on 150 blocks of stone, 30kg each, on the foot of the enormous cross, representing the four cardinal virtues. One of these block came loose on July 11 2008 and nearly hit a tourist. Last week work started to make the place safer. The sculptures were removed for restoration, starting with Piety, located above the main entrance. Despite the work daily religious ceremonies continue as usual, though the basilica, where 23 Benedictines live, now has to be accessed from the back entrance. The Associations for the Defence of Valle de los Caidos, which promotes the location where many people with a desire to go back to the Francoist period come as ‘pilgrims’, has protested against the partial closing. On April 27, the association presented its case against National Heritage to the High Council of Madrid. According to sources in the association, “the authorities have taken a decision that seriously reduces freedom”. They have asked the court to restore “normal visiting hours”. The controversy reflects the defence of what up to now has been a symbol of Francoism. A law approved in 2007 by all parties establishes that these symbols must be de-politicised and converted into memorials for the fallen. The report of the technicians of National Heritage clearly shows the weakness of the sculptures due to “serious construction problems”, but also to the “natural alteration of the sedimentary rock” caused by rain and friction between the blocks, causing pieces to come loose. The removal of the statues could take months. The report also underlines the “ineffectiveness of all previous attempts to keep the tonnes of rock in place”. The most recent intervention goes back to 1990, when steel meshes were put in place in an operation that continued until 2004, with a cost of 2.5 million euros for the government at that time, led by José Maria Aznar. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spiegel Interview With Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi: ‘Switzerland Should be Dissolved as a State’

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi talked to the SPIEGEL about his friendship with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the ‘youthful exuberance’ of his sons, and why he thinks Switzerland is a mafia.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Gadhafi, for years you repeatedly got into shouting matches with the Western world before making your peace with arch-enemy America four years ago. Now you have declared a holy war on tiny Switzerland, of all countries. Why?

Gadhafi: Switzerland is one country among many; sometimes you have trouble with one country, sometimes with another. We never had difficulties with Switzerland before. We used to appreciate it as a holiday destination. We used to appreciate its companies and its watches. But then Switzerland began to treat us badly. For example, the minaret issue and the publishing of nasty portrayals of the Prophet. It was necessary to draw a line with the Swiss. That is what I did in my speech in Benghazi to mark the Prophet’s birthday.

SPIEGEL: And now Swiss national Max Göldi, who has absolutely nothing to do with this, has to pay for your anger against Switzerland? A man whose visa allegedly expired, who has not been able to leave Libya for nearly two years and has been in prison for months. Why are you doing nothing for him?

Gadhafi: Only the courts can decide on this.

SPIEGEL: Do you mean to tell us that you don’t have the power to pardon him?

Gadhafi: This is a matter for the legal system. But I’m talking now about Switzerland. Switzerland is a state that stands outside the international community. It is not bound by any EU regulations. It is good that it joined the United Nations in 2002, but the whole time before that it was not a member. Why? It wanted to stand above international law. And that has made Switzerland into a mafia.

SPIEGEL: Whatever you may now say about Switzerland, previously it didn’t bother you in the least. You did business with the country — your company Tamoil Suisse has dozens of filling stations in Switzerland.

Gadhafi: Money is laundered on a grand scale in Switzerland. Anyone who robs a bank later invests the money in Switzerland. Anyone who evades taxes goes to Switzerland. Anyone who wants to deposit money in secret accounts goes to Switzerland. And a large number of owners of such secret accounts have died under mysterious circumstances.

SPIEGEL: Excuse me?

Gadhafi: Yes, Switzerland is behind it all…

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

Swedish Media Groups Call for Eritrea Aid Ban

Swedish media and rights groups on Monday called on the EU to halt aid to Eritrea until Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak and other prisoners are released from a “death camp” near the capital Asmara.

“The EU’s aid to Eritrea must gradually be halted,” said the heads of the Swedish chapters of rights groups like Reporters Without Borders and PEN, along with journalist and publishing associations in a statement to mark World Press Freedom Day.

No aid should be given to Asmara “until the Eraeiro death camp is closed, its prisoners are given medical care … and released or given an open trial on the ‘crimes’ they are suspected of,” they wrote in an opinion piece in the Dagens Nyheter daily.

According to the piece, the EU’s total aid package to Eritrea in coming years totals $413 million.

Their appeal came amid new reports on harsh conditions at the high-security Eraeiro secret prison near Asmara, where Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak and a number of other reporters and opposition politicians are reportedly being held.

An Eritrean with Swedish citizenship, Isaak was arrested in September 2001 along with a dozen newspaper owners, editors and journalists accused of being Ethiopian spies.

A number of demonstrations were planned across Sweden Monday calling for the release of the reporter, now 45.

“The prisoners are dying one by one. How long will it take before the world reacts and puts pressure on Eritrea to release the political prisoners?” Isaak’s brother Esayas told the TT news agency.

Last month, the first information in years pinpointing Isaak’s whereabouts and describing the conditions of his detention emerged in Sweden, and on Monday new accounts from a former guard at the Eraeiro prison surfaced.

Isaak “complains all the time, asking for ‘medicine, medicine,’ and all the time asking for help from a doctor … I think he has mental problems,” ex-guard Eyob Bahta Habtemariam told the Expressen daily.

Habtemariam, in hiding in Ethiopia, said he had last seen Isaak on January 5th, right before he himself fled from Eritrea.

He said Isaak was held handcuffed nearly around the clock in solitary confinement in a windowless cell measuring only 12 square metres at the secret prison, some 50 kilometres from Asmara.

The prisoners there, which include former government ministers opposed to President Isaias Afeworki, were not tortured, but according to Habtemariam, the suffocating heat and isolation “was worse than torture”.

“When I started working (at the prison) nine years ago, there were 35 prisoners. Fifteen of them are dead today,” he told Expressen, adding that three of the dead had killed themselves.

“There is a risk (Isaak) will kill himself,” Habtemariam insisted.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘We Cannot Treat Broken Hips’: Nurses Tell Pensioner as She is Left Waiting for Ambulance After Collapsing at Hospital

When Angela Bignall fell and fractured her hip at hospital, at least she could console herself that she was in the right place to receive prompt treatment.

But the 70-year-old was left in agony on the floor after nurses told her they no longer had a casualty department that could help her.

Instead she had to wait an hour for an ambulance to come to take her 16 miles to the nearest hospital with an accident and emergency unit.

At one stage the retired civil servant was in such pain that she had to be given gas and air while lying on the wooden floor of Wycombe Hospital.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Anglican Bishops Meet Vatican Officials to Plot ‘Cloak and Dagger’ Plan to Convert to Catholicism

Leading bishops in the Church of England have secretly told Vatican officials they are ready to defect to Rome, it was claimed on Sunday.

Senior Anglican bishops met the Pope’s advisers for ‘cloak and dagger’ talks about plans which would allow large numbers of clergy to convert to Catholicism.

Traditionalists have been angered over the introduction of women bishops, due to be debated at a crucial General Synod meeting in July.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Man ‘Evading Arrest’ On Bristol Rooftop

One of the main routes into Bristol city centre has been closed after a man started to throw objects off the roof of a building.

Fire crews that had been sent to Cheltenham Road to assist were forced to move back amid fears for their safety.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said a man in his 40s was on the roof of the building “evading arrest”.

It is not yet known how long the road will be closed for.

“We are confident the man will be in custody fairly soon,” the police spokesman added.

[JP notes: BBC News blackout, however, on the Dudley Mosque protest. This is pathetic and will only increase the impression that the authorities are panicking in the face of anti-supremacist Islam protests.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Our PM Has Lost the Plot — and the Authority to Rule

LABOUR is staring into the abyss. This Thursday it now seems likely that Gordon Brown will suffer the heaviest defeat ever inflicted on a British Prime Minister.

According to several of the latest polls, fewer than a quarter of voters back Labour, far behind the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.

Never before in the history of Britain has a governing party slid into third place. But a crushing defeat would be no more than Labour deserves.

After 13 years of the partyâ€(tm)s mismanagement, lies, corruption, dogmatism and bullying, there would be a tremendous sense of justice in a mass expression of revenge by the British people against their arrogant socialist rulers.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: Right-Wing Protesters in Stand-Off With Riot Police Over Plans for £18m ‘Mega Mosque’

Two members of the far-right English Defence League scaled the roof of a derelict building in Dudley, West Midlands, yesterday waving anti-Muslim banners.

They climbed to the rooftop on Sunday evening as dozens of protesters gathered at the site after an internet campaign by the EDL.

That evening around 30 masked protesters were ordered off the site as fights broke out. A police officer and local teenager were taken to hospital for minor injuries after the clashes

Several EDL members clambered onto the roof of the building, which had been earmarked for the super mosque development.

The protest came just a month after 2,000 of far-right EDL protesters descended on Dudley to march against Islamic extremism.

Some bashed down metal fences, threw metal brackets at police and even fought with their own stewards who were trying to calm them down.

This morning, the men — who were dressed in balaclavas and army fatigues — remained on the roof of the old clothing factory where they unfurled banners reading ‘no to the burka’ and ‘no mosque’.

The EDL’s website claims the protesters ‘have food and water to last them weeks, and a PA system to give speeches’.

It adds: ‘I believe they even have a Playstation. They will be playing the call to prayer to let those who are not bothered by this mosque know what to look forward to.’

An eyewitness said: ‘They’re waving England flags and blaring out Islamic music from a loud speaker.’

But this afternoon the men disappeared from the rooftop and have arrested on suspicion of having broken into the disused factory.

Chief Inspector Matt Markham from West Midlands Police said the two men were ‘helping police with enquiries’.

Earlier, he said: ‘We have always facilitated peaceful protests by members of the EDL and other organisations, but we do not welcome this kind of protest.

‘Our priorities are to minimise any disruption to the local community in Dudley and to prevent any further incidents of disorder from occurring.

‘Our message to anyone thinking of turning up with the intention of causing disorder is not to, as we have police resources available and any such activity will be dealt with swiftly and robustly.’

The protest came as the Dudley Muslim Association announced they were scrapping plans for the £18million mosque which have caused such controversy in the town.

The mosque, which would have been built on derelict land, would have had a 65ft minaret, and the proposals have been dogged by controversy from the beginning,

Two petitions of more than 50,000 signatures were gathered in opposition.

Residents who objected said the mosque would dominate the skyline and be out of keeping with the town’s medieval character.

They also objected to the mosque being built on land designated for employment use.

Dudley Council threw out the application in 2007, but it was granted at an appeal the following year by a government inspector.

In 2009 the council launched a High Court bid against the inspector’s decision but the judge upheld the ruling, granting outline planning permission.

Deputy council leader, Les Jones, told a local paper today that the Muslim Association had instead agreed to develop their existing site after months of delicate negotiations.

He said: ‘The current mosque is not really fit for purpose and we have been working with them to come up with some plans and would have been looking to submit an outline planning application in the next few months.’

Despite claiming to have the support of Dudley residents, locals today branded the EDL protest as ‘racist’ and ‘a waste of police time’.

Sarah Williams, 23, said: ‘They’re just here to cause trouble, these people, and playing that music like that is outrageous and racist. They are just asking for trouble.

‘These people just want to live here peacefully.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Tories Attack Israel, Accuse Labour of Atrocities and Promise to End Expensive Wars

That’s the Tories in Blackburn, to be precise, where the campaign of Conservative candidate Michael Law-Riding has circulated a pamphlet in the seat’s Asian areas packed full of statements that defy the party’s official policy. It’s printed on a side of A4 under the headline “Labour shows its true colours” and challenges Labour’s claim to serve the Muslim vote. It says:

“We cannot be deceived by their hollow claims. We have in front of us a whole saga of atrocities committed in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Palestine and as if this was not enough, the Labour government allowed the Israeli government to create havoc in Lebanon and Gaza in Palestine, destroying their infrastructure and killing and maiming thousands of innocent civilians. The Labour government did nothing, absolutely nothing for a number of days while the Israelis carried on their inhuman killing of innocent men, women and children.”

It accuses Jack Straw, who is the MP for Blackburn, of insulting “our religion and culture and…our sisters and mothers” by refusing to hold meetings with women constituents wearing a full veil. “We should not forget that today they are criticising our women’s(sic) veil, tomorrow it will be ou caps and our beards they will attack,” the pamphlet declares.

It goes on to urge a vote for Mr Law-Riding ‘if you want to see an en to unnecessary and very expensive wars, shedding of innocent blood and save Britain from bankruptcy.”

The Guardian has an account of the pamphlet here, which reports CCHQ saying the pamphlet was not sanctioned centrally (no kidding) and has been ordered removed.


UK: When will the Tories stop trawling for the Muslim vote?

Benedict Brogan mentions here the disgustingly divisive and opportunistic leaflet circulated by the Conservatives in Blackburn. The Tory candidate there is the not especially Muslim-sounding Michael Law-Riding.

The leaflet claims: “We cannot be deceived by [the Labour government’s] hollow claims. We have in front of us a whole saga of atrocities committed in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Palestine and as if this was not enough, the Labour government allowed the Israeli government to create havoc in Lebanon and Gaza in Palestine”

Gosh — it certainly sounds like these Tories expect a lot of the Labour government. I didn’t know that it was in Gordon Brown’s power to “allow” the Israeli government to do anything.

The pamphlet goes on to accuse Jack Straw, the MP for Blackburn, of insulting “our [sic] religion and culture and … our sisters and mothers.”

Quite a claim. Apparently this is because Jack Straw once asked a Muslim woman to show her face during a one-to-one constituency meeting. What lesson does the scurrilous, semi-literate leaflet take from this?

“We should not forget that today they are criticising our women’s veil, tomorrow it will be our caps and our beards they will attack.”

Really? Personally, I think there’s very little likelihood of the Labour Party launching an all-out war on beards. Apart from anything else it would lead to the most terrible internecine conflict. The cull on the back-benches would be appalling. (WARNING: do not click on this link if you do not wish to see a picture of Frank Dobson.)

As it happens, this is not the first time a Conservative campaign has stooped to these levels. Lest anyone forget, in the 2005 election Sayeeda Warsi stood for Dewsbury. She failed spectacularly to get elected, making her obvious material for elevation, via David Cameron, into the Upper House.

In her spectacularly unsuccessful one-time-only turn in front of the electorate, Sayeeda (as reported here) distributed different leaflets in Muslim and non-Muslim areas of Dewsbury. In the Muslim areas her campaign leaflets went particularly big on the Labour Party’s hardly outlandish policy of equal rights for gays. Sayeeda was quoted in the leaflets saying:

“I will campaign strongly for an end to sex education at seven years and the promotion of homosexuality that undermines family life.”

These leaflets might be dismissed as the embarassing one-offs of a campaign.. But put them together with the footage Damian Thompson carried here a couple of days ago, of the Lib Dem’s Simon Hughes fawning over a Muslim audience, and they suggest something more.

All three of the major parties continue to think that the identity-group era of politics is still alive and well; that as part of the multiculti mindset it is inevitable that you say different things to different “communities”; and that therefore you can say anything at all to get the alleged “Muslim community” to vote for you.

Yet another reason why so many voters are fed up with the mainstream parties.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Defence: Serbia-Kuwait, Accords on Several Projects

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, APRIL 28 — Serbian Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac said, thanks to contracts arranged during his two-day visit to Kuwait, the Serbian defense industry would become the biggest exporter from Ankara to Vienna, reports Tanjug news agency. On a visit to Kuwait on April 25 and 26, Sutanovac discussed cooperation on several defense projects and equipment and arms export. “Impressive contracts were reached, which will be the flywheel of development both of Serbia and the region,” Sutanovac said, but would not specify any details. He said topics of his talks in Kuwait also included education, the exchange of commissioned officers and military health care cooperation. Some of the profit from the contracts will go to Serbia’s military industry, the minister added.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Serbia-US: Military Cooperation Plan for 2011 Signed

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, APRIL 30 — Representatives of the Serbian Defense Ministry and the US European command signed in Belgrade a plan for bilateral military cooperation for 2011, reports Tanjug news agency. The most important activities envisaged by the plan are the continuation of the educational program for members of the Serbian Army in the U.S., and the modernization and providing equipment to the Serbian Defense Ministry and Army. Also included in the plan are the activities envisaged by the State Partnership Program (SPP) with the Ohio National Guard, namely the organization of joint exercises and the training of Serbian soldiers for participation in multinational operations. The plan was signed by head of the International Military Cooperation Department Milorad Peric and the head of the U.S. delegation of US European command, Colonel David Watson. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Death Penalty: UAE; Man Who Murdered Lover’s Husband Sentenced

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, MAY 3 — The court of first instance of the Sharjah emirate (one of the United Arab Emirates) has sentenced a man to death for killing the his lover’s husband, reports the local press. The accused, a 27-year-old Indian, beat to death and then used acid to disfigure his lover’s husband, and then left the body in the desert. The 26-year-old woman, also of Indian origin, has been given a life sentence in prison for acting as an accomplice. The number of death sentences issued since the beginning of the year in the United Arab Emirates in now 10. Crimes punishable by death in the UAE include murder, rape, armed robbery, apostasy and drug trafficking. However, the sentences are rarely carried out. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Iraq: Car Bomb Targets Christian Student’s Bus Near Mosul

The toll is one dead and 100 wounded. For over five years the University of Mosul has been in the sights of Islamic extremists who want to convert students and kill the girls who do not wear the veil.

Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Another targeted attack on the Christian minority. Iraqi police said the two attacks took place yesterday in the north, where the community decimated by years of religious persecution now live en masse. The attackers used a car bomb and improvised explosive device, detonated by the passage of buses carrying students residing in the town of Hamdaniya, 40 km east of Mosul. The toll is of 100 wounded and one person dead, a Christian, owner of a shop located near the site of the explosions.

The students, all Christians, “we were traveling by bus from the University of Mosul, despite constant threats under which they live,” said Nissan Karoumi, Mayor of Hamdaniya. For over five years the University of Mosul has been in the sights of Islamic extremist groups fighting for the conversion of young students. Often leaflets circulate in the university that promise to “kill every Iraqi woman who does not wear the veil” and anyone wearing “Western” clothes.

Mosul itself has long been the most dangerous area of Iraq for the Christian minority. The Diaspora increases daily and many now argue that the city may soon become completely Muslim, if authorities do not take serious measures to curb the violence and punish those responsible for attacks that mostly remain unknown.

The political and sectarian tension is rising and the parliamentary elections of 7 March, have not yet shown a real winner. The country is in the grips of a power vacuum, while the various factions fight for a place in the new government, under pressure from rival outside powers like Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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

Kuwait Airport to Install Hi-Tech Explosives Scanner

(ANSAmed) — KUWAIT CITY, MAY 3 — Kuwait International Airport is to install a new hi-tech scanning device to detect explosive devices, following a recent terrorist alert, as Arabian reports. Lieutenant Ibrahim Al-Rushaid, the undersecretary for ports security affairs at Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior’s (MoI) told Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al-Rai that Kuwait International Airport is set to install a new ‘CTX 9000’ scanning device in order to increase detection of biological, chemical or explosive devices. Al-Rushaid said this measure was been taken after the airport was put on high alert following information of a potential terrorist attack. “As a result of this, instructions were given to intensify the search procedures for passengers without exception”, he concluded. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Only 10% of Solid Waste Recycled

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, MAY 3 — Every year Lebanon produces 1,500,000 tonnes of solid urban waste, of which only 10% is recycled, with 40% ending up in dumps and 50% stored on land, according to the Lebanese Environment Ministry, cited by the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE) office in Beirut. The Ministry went on to note that organic waste accounts for 50% of the solid waste, followed by paper, cardboard and plastic (17% each), textiles and waste (5% each) metals (3%) and other types of solid waste (3%). Although in recent years projects have got underway for waste collection and recycling, the use of terrain for storage purposes is the most frequently used method in Lebanon, even for organic waste and that which ferments. Also according to reports from the Ministry, 19% of Lebanese territory has integrated systems for solid waste management, covering about 60% of the population, while solid waste from the rest of the territory is eliminated in 200 dumps, 27 of which are in need of urgent measures. In order to deal with the situation, the Environment Ministry has brought in a number of measures (collection, light selection, recycling, thermal disintegration and optimal storage) for the next 25 years, two for preparation and two others for implementation. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: UNIFIL, After Almost 4 Years, Italy Leaves Tibnin

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, MAY 3 — After almost 4 years, the headquarters of the Italian contingent and the western sector of UNIFIL, the UN mission deployed in Southern Lebanon, has left the base in Tibnin, east of Tyre, and moved to Shamma, also in the western part of the area where UN forces are present. In an official ceremony, the responsibility of the “Ficuciello” based was transferred from the Italian to the Malayan contingent: Lieutenant Colonel Riccardo Renganeschi, the commander of the “Friuli” unit and head of the base, handed over control to Lieutenant Colonel Abu Baka Rizuan, deputy commander of the Malayan contingent. The Tibnin base, part of the UN mission since 1978, has hosted the headquarters of the Italian contingent and the western sector of UNIFIL since the autumn of 2006, following the interruption of hostilities between Israel and Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mideast Demand Grows, $300 Bln in Orders Forecast

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, MAY 3 — Airlines in the Middle East will need 1,710 airplanes to meet the growing demand in passenger traffic and cargo over the next two decades, for a value of 300 billion dollars. This was seen in Boeing estimates which show that orders will include 850 double-aisle planes, 689 single-aisle ones, 130 superjumbos and 50 regional jets. Solid growth in the sector within the region — which is expected to rise to an 11% annual rate — is led by six companies from Gulf state: Emirates and Etihad Airways, both of which from the United Arab Emirates, Gulf Air from Bahrain and Qatar Airways are among the national carriers. Also seeing growth are the low-cost companies Air Arabia from Sharjah and Flydubai in the lead, followed by Al-Jazeera Airways from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia’s Saudi-Nas Air. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: New Rules to Pardon Unrelated Couples in Car

(ANSAmed) — RIYADH, MAY 3 — Saudi is examining the introduction of new rules which could see unrelated men and women receiving a pardon for being caught in the same car, as the Saudi Gazette reports. These rules include: not resisting the authorities; for the man and woman to have no previous record; the nonexistence of preludes (such as flirting) for an immoral act by the arrested man and woman in a public place; and that the man and woman should not have been arrested in a secluded place. The Commission for Investigation and Prosecution (Cip) has started implementing the rules for dealing with those accused in such cases, including those arrested by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Haìa). However, the Cip said that those caught could be held in police custody for 24 hours, up to no more than five days. Informed sources said that the rules were drafted by the Morals Bureau of the Cip and have now come into effect. Under the rules a car is considered to be a semi-public place. In another development, the Haìa launched Sunday a wireless telecommunication service at its field centers. The technology will serve field supervisors and link them directly with their superiors. This is expected to contribute to accuracy in carrying out work and enable Haìa field staffers to receive instant guidance and directives on how to deal with situations. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria-Iran: New Memorandum for Economic Cooperation

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, MAY 3 — Syria and Iran are strengthening economic cooperation following the 12th meeting of the Syrian-Iranian joint commission, which has been held over the last few days. The Italian embassy’s newsletter says that the two countries signed a memorandum deal at the end of the talks, which will see collaboration agreements finalised in the fields of trade, industry, finance, transport, telecommunications and health. The joint committee meeting was chaired by the Syrian Prime Minister, Naji Otri, and my Iran’s first Vice-President, Mohammad Reza Rahimi. The talks were centred on the reactivation of the free exchange agreement between the two countries, which favours circulation of goods, with particular attention paid to gas imports from Iran. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Men Dominate Country’s Bureaucracy, Figures

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, MAY 3 — Men dominate the Turkish bureaucracy, as Anatolia news agency reports today quoting data released by the State Personnel Department. Out of 8,284 high level bureaucrats, 7,713 are men while 571 are women. According to figures of the State Personnel Department, there are 2,330,909 permanent positions within the Turkish bureaucracy. Only 1,769,730 of these positions have been filled while 561,179 positions wait to be filled. All undersecretaries in Turkish ministeries are men. Out of 79 deputy undersecretaries, only 2 are women. Out of 96 director generals in Turkish ministeries, 91 are men. All 175 governors in Turkey are men. Out of 450 deputy governors, 12 are women. Out of 989 sub-governors, 19 are women. The number of women are greater than men only for the positions of legal counsel and assistant health personnel within the Turkish bureaucracy. 46% of all teachers, 40% of all academicians and 31% of all doctors in Turkey are women. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkish PM’s Comparison Draws Ire of Inönü Family

Turkish prime minister’s comparison of Turkey’s second president, Ismet Inönü, to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler has been met with harsh reaction from the Inönü’s family.

“It is entirely an improper and relentless remark. The statements could only be uttered by those who aren’t equipped with historical knowledge,” Gülsün Bilgehan, granddauhgter of Ismet Inönü, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Monday.

“National heroes shouldn’t be exploited for daily political conflicts. They are supra-party figures. The remarks are so cruel for a person who embraced and applied the intra-party democracy in a best way and tried to keep the country away from Hitler during World War II,” she said.

Referring to the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, leader Deniz Baykal’s vow to fight the government-led constitutional amendments everywhere, Erdogan Sunday said: “He is making an irrelevant comparison by likening himself to Winston Churchill and the government to Adolf Hitler. If he is looking for a political figure who looks like Hitler, let him take a look at the photographs of their former party leaders at their party headquarters.”

“They will see one of their leaders smiling under his Hitler-like mustache who called himself ‘National Chief,” said Erdogan, speaking at the Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, parliamentary group meeting on Sunday.

Erdogan’s remarks sparked a controversy among the ruling and opposition party in Parliament on Monday, also receiving a harsh reaction from the Inönü family.

Bilgehan on Monday criticized Erdogan’s efforts to change the country’s agenda. “Besides the social problems including unemployment, the recent fallen soldiers should have been in the agenda of prime minister. Instead of dealing with the problems of 80 years ago, he should handle the country’s current problems.”

Pointing to the danger in polarizing the society between pro- and anti-Inönü members, Bilgehan said, “There is a wide public reaction to the remarks not only from the social democrats but from the affiliates of other parties. They even embarrass AKP members as well. Such statements further bring us together.”

Inönü’s daughter Özden Toker, meanwhile, said the remarks denied the history.

“The Turkish nation doesn’t forget Inönü’s role in the independence war, adoption of reforms of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as well as making Turkey pass the troubled times of World War II with the least harm and the establishment of the multi-party democracy,” Toker said.

“Those who don’t believe in democracy can’t understand my father’s struggles,” she said.

Meanwhile, Parliament’s General Assembly, where the reform package was being discussed, was also the scene of tension between the AKP and CHP deputies on Monday.

AKP’s Mustafa Elitas said although Inönü was a historic figure, he could be criticized.

“The party leaders should be careful while criticizing the political parties and making comparison,” Elitas said, referring to Baykal’s remarks.

CHP’s Kemal Anadol reacted to the remarks, saying Inönü was a national hero and Inönü’s family was open to criticism. “But it is a treachery to liken Inönü to the biggest criminal of the history of humanity,” Anadol said.

Who is Ismet Inönü

Born in 1884, Ismet Inönü was a famous commander in the Turkey’s War of Independence and Turkey’s second president.

He is regarded as the “second prominent figure,” after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the founding of modern Turkey.

As the chief negotiator of the Turkish delegation, he became famous for his resolve and stubbornness in defending Turkey’s demands especially at the Treaty of Lausanne talks, which led to the international recognition of the sovereignty of the new Turkish Republic as the successor state of the defunct Ottoman Empire.

Following the death of Atatürk in 1938, Inönü was elected Turkish president and CHP leader. During World War II he scrupulously tried to maintain Turkish neutrality and establish multilateral relations with the powers engaged in the conflict to keep Turkey out of the war.

Inönü also played a crucial role in establishment of the multi-party system in Turkey. He died in 1973.

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

South Asia

Homegrown Terrorists: German Jihadist Eric Breininger Killed in Pakistan, Group Claims

By Yassin Musharbash

Eric Breininger, one of Germany’s most wanted suspected terrorists, has been killed in a battle with Pakistani troops in the Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan, according to an unconfirmed statement by a jihadist group. Breininger had appeared in several Internet videos trying to recruit terrorists in Germany.

Eric Breininger, a German-born convert to Islam wanted by German police on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist cell, was killed on April 30 in a firefight with Pakistani troops, according to an unconfirmed claim by a Jihadi group on Sunday.

Breininger, 22, was a member of the Islamic Jihad Union and had contacts with the homegrown group of terrorists who plotted to bomb US targets in Germany in 2007. Three of the members of that group, known as the Sauerland cell after the region of western Germany where it was based, were arrested in September 2007 as they were preparing to carry out bombing attacks. They were sentenced to long jail terms in March this year.

A Turkish Islamist known as “Salaheddin,” who was in charge of the Islamic Jihad Union’s Internet site, is also reported to have been killed in the fight. German authoritities believe Salaheddin is Ahmet M., who was born in Germany and deported to Turkey 10 years ago.

German authorities said they were checking the report. The written statement made by the group called Taifatul Mansura and seen by SPIEGEL ONLINE says the two men were attacked by “Pakistanis who have deserted their faith” near the town of Mir Ali. It is likely to be referring to Pakistani soldiers. Ahmet M. had killed four attackers by exploding a hand grenade even though he had already been severely wounded, the statement said.

Propaganda Videos

Eric Breininger was believed to have been in the Waziristan border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan since September 2007. He had appeared in several propaganda videos posted by the IJU in recent years and had tried to recruit new members in Germany.

If his death is confirmed he will be the fourth German-born jihadist to have died in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.

Cüneyt Ciftci from Bavaria in southern Germany committed a suicide attack in Afghanistan in March 2008 in the name of the IJU. Javad S. from Bonn, who had joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, died last autumn in a clash with Pakistani soldiers. Saadullah Kaplan, who like Breininger and Ciftci had been recruited by the Sauerland cell, died in autumn 2007 in a gun battle.

Taifatul Mansura is a mainly Turkish group which operates under the command of the Afghan Taliban and is closely linked to the IJU. Its statement says: “We, those responsible for the region Germany, regard it as important to mention that the jihad is getting increasing numbers of supporters from Europe, especially from Germany.”

German authorities believe several dozen German-born jihadists are currently in Afghanistan and Waziristan.

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

Far East

Hong Kong — Macau: May 1: Minimum Wages and Hours as Workers Get Poorer

Demands for a minimum wage of 3.2 Euros per hour. Catholics and Protestants in the forefront in defending the dignity of work. More than 160 000 Hong Kong households live on less than 400 Euros per month. In Macao, demonstration degenerates with clashes between police and workers.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) — Thousands of Hong Kong residents demonstrated on 1 May asking for laws that guarantee a minimum hourly pay of 33 Hong Kong dollars (about 3.2 Euros). Journalists also many Catholics were among the demonstrators and, underlining that the Church’s social doctrine imposes a minimum wage linked to human dignity.

Several groups have also demanded collective agreements and payment of overtime, when in excess of eight hours per day, while there is a growing disparity between rich and poor.

In Macao the workers march, organized by a dozen groups, gathered together at least 1,500 people, demanding the end of illegal work and better conditions of employment. Some workers and some journalists were injured in a clash with security forces who wanted the demonstration route to move to secondary roads.

In Hong Kong, protesters also demanded universal suffrage and full democracy in the territory. The event was supported by the confederation of trade unions, social organizations, Catholic and Protestant students, and groups in favour of women’s rights, construction workers and political parties.

Lina Chan Li-na, executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Committee of the diocese, told AsiaNews that several workers in the area earn less than 3 Euros per hour and are exhausted from long working hours. “We Catholics — she said — continue to fight for decent pay because the social doctrine of the Church requires fair wages and full human dignity in the workplace.”

According to the Protestant based Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee, at least 160 000 households have a monthly salary of less than 4 thousand HK dollars (less than 400 Euros), compared to 2008, and in 2009 they increased by 3.9% .

The Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs organized a Way of the Cross for workers and their conditions. In a statement on April 30, it denounced that the government refuses to pass a law setting maximum working hours, forcing many local employees to do overtime. More than one million people work over 48 hours per week.

The event was also attended by foreign immigrants, including Nepalese, Filipinos and Indonesians, who demand higher pay and full employment.

Even local journalists are calling for better pay and press freedom. Some representatives of the association of journalists have asked the owners of newspapers for higher pay and better working conditions as well as for a five day working week.

The Hong Kong government is to propose a decree for the minimum wage. Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Labour and Welfare, said he hopes to fast track the launch of the norm. But he also stated that the government will not support a mandatory annual review of wages to allow more flexibility.

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

Australia — Pacific

Gang Rape Brother to be Freed From Jail

One of four Pakistani brothers jailed over the gang rapes of teenage girls in Sydney eight years ago has been granted parole and will be released from prison despite opposition from NSW’s head of Corrective Services.

The brothers — who cannot be identified because two were aged under 18 at the time of the sexual assaults — were each convicted over the attacks on two girls aged 16 and 17 in 2002.

Known as MRK, the second youngest brother was 17 when the girls were gang raped at the brothers’ Ashfield home in Sydney’s inner west on July 28, 2002.

A spokesman for the State Parole Authority on Monday confirmed that the man, now aged 25, was granted parole last Thursday and will be released from Long Bay jail between May 18 and May 25.

“I can confirm that a parole order was made last Thursday,” the spokesman told AAP.

MRK was sentenced to serve at least six years and nine months in custody with an earliest possible date of release in July 2007.

The sentence came after a trial that attracted great public interest and in which MRK was convicted of nine counts of aggravated sexual assault in company.

“He has been refused bail in 2007, 2008 and 2009,” the spokesman said, adding that in 2009 MRK was convicted of another historical criminal matter while in custody, which delayed his original non-parole period until April 30, 2009.

“In making its decision the authority would have had in mind that his full-time (sentence) expires in July 2012, so there is a need for supervision in the community right through until July 31, 2012.”

MRK has been granted parole to live at an approved address, believed to be in Sydney.

NSW Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham had opposed the decision.

“The commissioner opposed the release of (MRK) and made submissions to the State Parole Authority to that effect,” a Corrective Services spokesman said on Monday.

The State Parole Authority said the decision came after consultation with the Serious Offenders Review Council, which had been partly responsible for MRK’s progress while in custody.

“The parole order includes that he live at an approved address, continue to receive psychological counselling and comply with all conditions of the Child Protection Register,” the parole authority spokesman said.

“That order prohibits him from being in the company of any person under the age of 16 unless accompanied by a responsible adult.”

MRK is also prevented from contacting or approaching any of his victims or frequenting areas where they live or commonly visit.

After the brothers’ sentencing, an investigating police detective described the offences as one of the most violent rapes he had ever investigated.

“No sentence, no matter how harsh, will ever compensate the victim(s),” he said.

MRK immigrated to Australia from Pakistan with his family. He is not expected to be subject to deportation upon release.

His three brothers, aged between one year younger and six years older than him, remain in custody.

NSW shadow attorney-general Greg Smith said he believed the brothers were all Australian citizens and had immigrated “years ago” with their family.

“I’m very concerned that the parole board has been so quick to grant parole in the face of opposition from the corrective services commissioner,” Mr Smith told AAP.

He said MRK’s involvement — which included detaining the girls and taking away a mobile phone which one of the victims tried to use to call for help — had been denied by the offender throughout his court trial.

“That lack of contrition makes it difficult for him to face any kind of guidance or counselling or rehabilitation,” he said.

“He showed a lack of respect for Australian women which is totally unacceptable to the community.”

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]


A Reasoned Moment From an Arizona Perspective

CNN’s Jack Cafferty said, “Obama said the new law was ‘misguided’. What’s misguided Mr. President is the federal government’s refusal to enforce current immigration laws on the books. Instead of closing the borders so we can deal with the federal debt, and that the country is bankrupt. It’s patently dishonest from the top down. No enforcement; no border security. When Arizona, faced with 460,000 illegal aliens, does something about it, the president says that’s misguided. What a shame.” Click here to here it live.

Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen explained the new law from the Arizona perspective. Over 70 percent of Arizonans approve of the law from the simple standpoint of their safety in combating over 460,000 illegal aliens running amuck in their state.

“Rancher Rob Krentz was murdered by the drug cartel on his ranch a month ago,” said Senator Allen. “The people who live within 60 to 80 miles of the Arizona/Mexico Border have for years been terrorized and have pleaded for help to stop the daily invasion of humans who cross their property. One Rancher testified that 300 to 1200 people a DAY come across his ranch vandalizing his property, stealing his vehicles, cutting down his fences, and leaving trash. In the last two years he has found 17 dead bodies and two Koran bibles.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sans Papiers to March From Paris to Nice

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, APRIL 30 — A group of 80 undocumented immigrants will begin a long march tomorrow from Paris to Nice to protest against the immigration policy of President Nicolas Sarkozy and to obtain stay permits. The long walk should end on May 31, when a Franco-African summit will begin in Nice, hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. For the occasion, says French daily La Croix in a long article entitled “Without documents, but marching for their dignity”, the 80 immigrants will make an appeal to African leaders at the summit to not give the French government approval to deport illegal immigrants and to not sign an agreement on managing the flow of migrants. The march will pass through 10 French cities. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: The Orwellian Logic That’s Turning the Faith Britain Was Built on Into a Crime

Terrifying as this may seem, the attempt to stamp out Christianity in Britain appears to be gathering pace.

Dale McAlpine was preaching to shoppers in Workington, Cumbria, that homosexuality is a sin when he found himself carted off by the police, locked up in a cell for seven hours and charged with using abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

It appears that two police community support officers — at least one of whom was gay — claimed he had caused distress to themselves and members of the public.

Under our anti-discrimination laws, such distress is not to be permitted.

And so we have the oppressive and sinister situation where a gentle, unaggressive Christian is arrested and charged simply for preaching Christian principles.

It would appear that Christianity, the normative faith of this country on which its morality, values and civilisation are based, is effectively being turned into a crime.

Surreally, this intolerant denial of freedom is being perpetrated under the rubric of promoting tolerance and equality — but only towards approved groups.

Never has George Orwell’s famous satirical observation, that some people are more equal than others, appeared more true.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]



Rest assured that MO is gonna win the game in the end!
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May 4, 2010
How much would it cost to solve some of the world's biggest problems? King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia says about $10 billion — that's the endowment he's given to the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or KAUST, a huge research facility devoted to solving some of the major problems facing the planet.
The brand new school — it opened just this past fall — rises from the desert north of Jeddah like the secret research lab in a James Bond movie. The desert blooms here, thanks to a private desalination plant and an army of gardeners. With a private Red Sea beach, knock-your-socks-off architecture and world-class labs, KAUST hopes to lure the world's brainiest scientists to this Xanadu for nerds.
This isn't a university in the traditional sense, says KAUST President Choon Fong Shih.
"KAUST is a global university of the 21st century," Shih says, "a place where we integrate graduate education with research and the cutting edge."

"There's something else KAUST's huge budget can buy, according to David Keyes, dean of math and computer sciences."
"You can purchase good friends, and we've purchased, if you will, a lot of very good friends," Keyes says."We will buy them all."

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