Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100703

Financial Crisis
»Algeria: Trade Balance, +6 Bln USD in First Five Months
»Clinton Speech Encourages Remittance Use for Micro-Lending
»House Democrats ‘Deem’ Faux $1.1 Trillion Budget ‘As Passed’
»Spain: Madrid Still in Chaos With Total Metro Stopped
»Diana West: GOP Cracking?
»Facebook Photo of Baby With Bong Sparks Outrage
»Health Law Risks Turning Away Sick
»Is Sharpton ‘Race-Mongering’ In Indiana?
»CSIS Director Deserves Praise, Not Criticism
Europe and the EU
»German Man Facing Jail for Having Hitler Speech as His Mobile Ringtone
»Italy: Fishermen Stop Using Drift Nets for Environment
»Cooperation, Agreement Between Abruzzo and Montenegro
»Marija Bistrica Sanctuary Unites Croatian People
»Serbia: UNHCR to Close Refugee Chapter by End of 2011
Mediterranean Union
»France-Morocco: Paris Sending 600 Mln in Aid by 2012
North Africa
»El Alamein: Bedouins Against Land Mines, Still Deadly
»Libya: Order for First Arab Cruise Ship
»Tunisia: Leather and Footwear Exports Increase
»Whaling: IWC Meeting in Morocco, Japan Accused of Bribery
Israel and the Palestinians
»Desalinisation Plant to Reduce Water Needs
Middle East
»Syria: Gov’t Approves Jewelry and Precious Metals Import
»Syrian 2009 Honey Production at 2,700 Tonnes
»Syria: Planner of Munich Olympics Attack Dies in Syria
»U.S. Policy and Debate on the Middle East: Whatever Happened to Adult Supervision?
»Alleged Spy Was Devoted to Her KGB Dad, Ex-Husband Says
»Russian Spy Ring May be Last Straw for Obama Nuclear Arms Treaty
»Ariz. Governor’s Comments Draw Fierce Criticism
»N. Miami [Haitian- American] Mayor Invites 55,000 Immigrants Into City
Culture Wars
»Italy Upbeat Over Crucifix Appeal
»Genetics: Venter to Study ‘Mediterranean Micro-Organisms’

Financial Crisis

Algeria: Trade Balance, +6 Bln USD in First Five Months

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JUNE 22 — Algeria reported a 6.04-billion dollar trade surplus at the end of May compared to a deficit of 572 million dollars during the same period in 2009, according to ‘Le Financier’, which cited data from the customs office. Exports increased by 22.32 billion dollars (+34.10%) compared to 16.64 billion dollars in the first five months last year. The positive figures were due to the price of hydrocarbons, which on the international markets since the beginning of the year have oscillated between 70 and 78 dollars per barrel. On the other hand, imports were in decline, dropping from 17.22 billion dollars last year to 16.28 billion in the first five months of 2010 due to price decreases to numerous goods including food products, which were decided by the government in order to favour domestic production. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Clinton Speech Encourages Remittance Use for Micro-Lending

Representing the Obama Administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a very telling speech in Ecuador on June 8, 2010. You would not have heard about it in the MSM. The corporate owned media has no real interest in informing Americans, only in distracting them. You can read the full transcript of her speech here.

I wonder if Sec of State Clinton would have to guts to give this exact speech to a town hall meeting in Anywhere, USA. I would like to see her try and explain this to Americans standing in line at the unemployment office.

While American families struggle to find work, lose their homes and their ability to care for their children, the Obama administration is concerned about improving the lives of foreign families through micro-lending and foreign aid which he intends to foster using American dollars, drained from our economy, and paid in part, through remittances.

So many of our government leaders speak to a broader constituency and seem not to differentiate between United States citizens and citizens, of other nations, in our hemisphere.

This explains so many of the decisions they make which leave honest Americans at a loss and feeling unrepresented. The globalist mindset is completely different from the average American.

They think ‘hemispherically,’ and globally.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

House Democrats ‘Deem’ Faux $1.1 Trillion Budget ‘As Passed’

Last night, as part of a procedural vote on the emergency war supplemental bill, House Democrats attached a document that “deemed as passed” a non-existent $1.12 trillion budget. The execution of the “deeming” document allows Democrats to start spending money for Fiscal Year 2011 without the pesky constraints of a budget.

The procedural vote passed 215-210 with no Republicans voting in favor and 38 Democrats crossing the aisle to vote against deeming the faux budget resolution passed.

Never before — since the creation of the Congressional budget process — has the House failed to pass a budget, failed to propose a budget then deemed the non-existent budget as passed as a means to avoid a direct, recorded vote on a budget, but still allow Congress to spend taxpayer money.

House Budget Committee Ranking Member Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) warned this was the green light for Democrats to continue their out-of-control spending virtually unchecked.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Spain: Madrid Still in Chaos With Total Metro Stopped

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — Serious travel problems are continuing to affect over 2 million passengers in Madrid on the third day of strikes by workers on the city’s underground system, the second day of total blockages. With the minimum service not provided, there are long queues at bus stops, chaotic traffic jams and an insufficient number of taxis. The Deputy Prime Minister, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, today asked the chair of the Community of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, to “exercise her responsibilities”, and begin talks with unions, in an attempt to “channel the conflict”. De la Vega made the comments on Telecinco. The vice-chairman of the Community, Ignacio Gonzalez, said on Punto Radio this morning that “there will be no solution” to the conflict caused by 5% wage cuts imposed by the government as part of the financial redevelopment plan, adding that he considered the protest “an attack on the rights of citizens”. The regional administration is examining the possibility of requesting intervention from the army to drive underground trains. At the same time, some 200 disciplinary proceedings have been launched against striking workers. The Deputy Prime Minister repeated that “it is up to the regional administration to guarantee minimum service” of replacement transport and called on unions to collaborate. The unions, who are part of the striking committee, have asked workers to guarantee essential transport links for tomorrow and Friday, and to suspend the protest on Saturday and Sunday, resuming on Monday instead. The metro workers’ assembly meets today to decide on the conditions of the strike. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Diana West: GOP Cracking?

RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s comments on Afghanistan — Afghanistan is a war of Obama’s choosing, and if Obama is a student of histroy (who said?), he should know that you don’t engage in a land war in Afghanistan — have triggered calls for his resignation from Bill Kristol, Liz Cheney, Charles Krauthammer and no doubt others by now. Aside from the fact that Afghanistan is not a war of Obama’s choosing — he has merely chosen to intensify and prolong the nation-building policy (agony) begun by George W. Bush — the main point of neocon/con concern here is Steele’s disavowal of the war effort. Kristol writes:

It’s an affront, both to the honor of the Republican party and to the commitment of the soldiers fighting to accomplish the mission they’ve been asked to take on by our elected leaders.

There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan, and they’re certainly entitled to make their case. [Thanks, Bill.] But one of them shouldn’t be the chairman of the Republican party.

It’s regrettable that Steele made such a clumsy and ill-informed showing, although his record as chairman has not been what you might call deft. Still, if it’s the “honor” of the Republican party that’s at stake, as well as “committment of the soldiers fighting,” both that honor and that commitment are ill-served by a truncated debate over the mission — the fundamentally flawed, counterinsurgency (COIN) mission, a mission now directly commanded by COIN guru Gen. Petraeus, whose confirmation hearing, not incidentally, went by without any such COIN debate, or even discussion.

Liz Cheney writes:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Facebook Photo of Baby With Bong Sparks Outrage

A Florida mother is being investigated after she posted a photo on Facebook showing her infant son apparently smoking a bong.

The photo shows the 11-month-old baby in a diaper, sitting on a carpet with his face leaning over the glass smoking pipe.

The baby’s 19-year-old mother claims the pipe didn’t have tobacco or drugs in it at the time, and that the boy didn’t inhale any smoke. She says she posted the photo online as a joke to show one of her friends.

The picture was widely distributed around the Internet, and eventually landed on the desks of Florida child protection officers, who didn’t think it was so funny. The state Department of Children and Families has launched an investigation into the woman’s parenting skills, and says she could face charges if it’s revealed that the child was exposed to drugs.

“We are alarmed that any parent would take pictures of their child next to what is obviously drug paraphernalia,” department spokesman John Harrell said in comments carried by several news outlets.

The Florida TV station WJXT used Facebook messaging to contact the woman, who lives in Keystone Heights, northwest of Gainsville, and questioned her about the photo.

“If u look at the picture u can see that there is no bowl in the TABACCO pipe,” she responded, with grammatical and spelling errors. “And i took a pic to show one (expletive) person and it was a mistake. I would never ever ever let him get high.”

The mother is undergoing drug tests as part of the investigation, and her son is being examined by state doctors, she said. In her interview with the TV station, the unnamed woman accused the media of getting her into trouble.

“Do you realise how serious this is? i can go to jail and he can be taken away from me. WHY would you do something so (expletive) stupid?” she asked. “i know what i did was stupid but i would NEVER put by baby in harm.. im so nice to everyone idk (I don’t know) why you would do this to me.”

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Health Law Risks Turning Away Sick

By Julian Pecquet

The Obama administration has not ruled out turning sick people away from an insurance program created by the new healthcare law to provide coverage for the uninsured.

Critics of the $5 billion high-risk pool program insist it will run out of money before Jan. 1, 2014. That’s when the program sunsets and health plans can no longer discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.

Administration officials insist they can make changes to the program to ensure it lasts until 2014, and that it may not have to turn away sick people. Officials said the administration could also consider reducing benefits under the program, or redistributing funds between state pools. But they acknowledged turning some people away was also a possibility.

“There’s a certain amount of money authorized in the statute, and we will do our best to make sure that that amount of money insures as many people as possible and does as much good as possible,” said Jay Angoff, director of the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “I think it’s premature to say [what happens] when it’s gone.”

The administration has not discussed asking Congress for more money down the line if the $5 billion runs out before Jan. 1, 2014. Uninsured sick people could start applying for participation in the high-risk insurance pools on Thursday.

Healthcare experts of all stripes warned during the healthcare debate that $5 billion would likely not last until 2014. Millions of Americans cannot find affordable healthcare because of their pre-existing conditions, and that amount would only cover a couple hundred thousand people, according to a recent study by the chief Medicare actuary.

Republicans continued to hammer that point on Thursday, asking HHS officials to brief them about the program.

We are “deeply concerned that these pools may not provide quality coverage or will limit enrollment,” Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Michael Burgess (R-Texas), the ranking members on the Energy and Commerce panel and its health and oversight subcommittees, wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The letter requests a briefing on high-risk pools by July 15, particularly on three topics: protections and services in place “to make sure that access is efficient and unimpeded; whether HHS believes the program is financially sustainable through 2013; and details about how each state’s pool will be administered and what options they’ll have available.”

Leading health reform advocate Ron Pollack, founding executive director of Families USA, said the pools were a “very imperfect tool that could be implemented quickly” but were the best option available for the interim period before 2014.

“The pools are going to be helpful for a significant number of people,” he told The Hill, “but nobody thought they’re the ultimate answer for helping people with pre-existing conditions.”

Still, he didn’t rule out that Families USA could press lawmakers to allocate more money in a few years if it looks like the program needs it.

Each state has a certain budget allocation for its pool, and the first step to stay under budget would be to shift money around between states that don’t see a lot of applicants and those that do, said Richard Popper, deputy director of the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at HHS…

           — Hat tip: REP[Return to headlines]

Is Sharpton ‘Race-Mongering’ In Indiana?

Author reveals how tentacles of ‘Negrophilia’ coloring everyday issues

The only persistent “disparities in racial justice” in America concern perception, said Rush, which is distorted by the prevalence of Negrophilia, “an undue and inordinate affinity for blacks,” combined with the “reflexive demonization of whites as inherently wicked.”

Rush maintains that most racial discord is high theater — the result of carefully orchestrated or exploited events. Undergirding the drama is Negrophilia, rooted in leftist tactics of division and aimed at advancing policies that keep blacks “obedient,” whites “silent” and “political control” secure.

To expose how Negrophilia is implemented, Rush has pledged to adopt a Glenn Beck-style blackboard approach toward revealing the intents and tactics of the “professional race-baiters who seek to manipulate, intimidate and subjugate Americans of every color.”

Sharpton’s “victim-mongering” is but one example of Negrophilia’s tentacles, Rush maintains. After noting the kneejerk cries of racism in an Obama graffiti incident at a Bronx firehouse as a “Pavlovian response in line with far-left racial orthodoxy,” Rush sees Negrophilia contaminating the debate around illegal immigration. At the recent U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, Elena Herrada, a community activist, attacked Border Patrol agents.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


CSIS Director Deserves Praise, Not Criticism

To intelligence officers, it is called “foreign influenced activity”—FIA. The law books call it manipulation that is “detrimental to the interests of Canada and . . . clandestine or deceptive or involve(s) a threat to any person.”

Either way, it is a direct threat to the constitutional order of Canada, and Canadians should be grateful to CSIS Director Richard Fadden for saying as much in his recent televised warning.

Those who find his portrayal that Canadian politicians are being used as pawns by foreign government agents of “influence activity” overblown may not understand its insidious possibilities. Or why Parliament specifically named FIA in the CSIS Act as one of only four defined threats to the security of Canada.

Fadden’s alert came to this: there may be Canadian municipal politicians, provincial cabinet ministers and perhaps some bureaucrats operating under the influence and control of foreign countries.

Fadden is worried because FIA is the jujitsu of intelligence assaults. “Influence ops” use a country’s own system of governance against it. Such operations enable foreign operators to secretly mould Canadian policy and decision-making to accommodate alien and possibly hostile interests. In the process, this activity menaces the principle of national sovereignty, democratic accountability and, in an age of strategic threats and mass terror, public safety.

Yet FIA can be among the most subtle and versatile of ventures known to the clandestine realm.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

German Man Facing Jail for Having Hitler Speech as His Mobile Ringtone

A German man is facing up to six months in jail for having a speech by Adolf Hitler as his mobile phone ringtone.

The 54-year-old had a Hitler speech — in which the Fuhrer pledged the ‘destruction of world Jewry’ if Germany was ‘dragged’ into war — programmed into his Nokia phone.

Passengers aboard a train in Hamburg heard the bizarre ringtone several times during a journey and reported him to police who seized him when the train stopped.

When he was taken into custody, police also found swastika stickers and a photo of Hitler on the telephone with the words: ‘The greatest commander of all time’.

He was charged with violating the German constitution which expressly forbids public displays of the Nazis and all their works.

           — Hat tip: ICLA[Return to headlines]

Italy: Fishermen Stop Using Drift Nets for Environment

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 22 — A age-old tradition, which today they decided to put to an end: fishermen from the town of Bagnara Calabra, one of the oldest and most respected groups in southern Italy announced today that they will no longer use drift nets. This Friday in Bagnara, during a press conference called at the Municipal Hall, they will explain the reasons behind their decision. Afterwards, their nets, harshly criticised by environmental groups and the EU, will be turned over a specialised centre that will destroy them. “We want to respect the environment,” explained one of the fishermen, “and we decided to do this to respect the request that was made mainly by environmental groups to not use these nets anymore.” An ending that just a few years ago was almost unimaginable, because the sea and protecting endangered species put in danger, according to environmentalists, by unscrupulously using these nets has been a dispute that has been going on for years. Even the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in October of last year criticised Italy for allowing the use of drift nets despite the fact that the EU has banned their use since 2002. Already in 1992, Europe banned drift nets longer than 2.5km. Ten years later, the ban was extended to all drift nets. But in Italy, also due to a lack of effective monitoring, the use of these nets continued. After a series of inspections followed by detailed reports, the European Commission verified that there is little monitoring in Italy and many infractions, allowing the use of the nets to remain widespread. Thus, Brussels decided to question Italy about their lacking inspections, which translated, according to the judges, into an extremely low number of net seized and fines and sanctions issued. Inspections have now been carried out by Italian authorities, and in May of last year, they resulted in the confiscation of 20km of drift nets and 1,700kg of bluefin tuna. A month later, 12km of drift nets and 2,000kg of fish were confiscated. (ANSAmed).

2010-06-22 17:23

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Cooperation, Agreement Between Abruzzo and Montenegro

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 21 — The figure in charge of employment in the Abruzzo region, Paolo Gatti, and the regional director, Giovanna Andreola, have held talks in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica with Gordana Djurovic, Montenegro’s Minister for European Integration. The meeting was part of an institutional mission geared towards expanding strategic agreements on the activation of mutual opportunities for employment, training and cooperation between the two countries. The meeting opened with analysis of Montenegro’s prospects of entering the European Union in the next few years. Gatti underlined the similarities between the Abruzzo and the Balkan state, indicating that one of the priorities was development of cooperation between the two sides. Particular attention was given to the chance to use EU resources for the IPA Adriatic programme for the development of cooperation projects favouring employment advantages. Minister Djurovic highlighted the importance for the Montenegrin government of projects financed as part of the IPA Adriatic programme, in that they are an element facilitating the country’s entry into Europe. The Minister also thanked the Abruzzo region for its positive collaboration thus far. Both sides confirmed their commitment towards working together on forthcoming opportunities provided by EU resources planning. Gatti later met the national chairman of the Montenegrin Employers’ Union (MUE), Predrag Mitrovic, with whom he discussed a number of different initiatives concerning the launch of collaborations between industrialists from both countries. Mitrovic will soon travel to the Abruzzo to continue the positive collaboration activity already underway. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Marija Bistrica Sanctuary Unites Croatian People

(ANSAmed) — MARIJA BISTRICA (CROATIA) — JULY 2 — A monumental Stations of the Cross almost seems to defy the height of the church’s bell tower, or at least so it seems at first sight of Marija Bistrica, Croatia’s most important Marian sanctuary. At the foot of the “Calvary” — works on which began in 1941 at the request of the Archbishop of Zagreb, Alojzije Stepinac — a large square that can hold thousands of devotees acts as a cornice for the exterior altar. Many of them, almost a million every year, are pilgrims paying homage to the black Virgin with Child which is kept in the sanctuary, around 40 kilometres outside Zagreb. Attachment to this sanctuary, which in the first few months of this year was the most visited site in Croatia with around 22,000 pilgrims, begins some while back. The story of Marija Bistrica begins with a statue of the black Virgin (from the late 1400s) which was twice hidden — in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries — to protect it from continuing attacks by the Turks. Since the second time it was found, in 1684, over 200 miracles were attributed to the Virgin of Bistrica. But for Croatians, this sanctuary represents a bastion of faith and, especially, of memory for the silent martyrdom of Cardinal Stepinac (1898-1960), an intrepid defender of Catholicity, who was condemned to 16 years in prison by the Communist regime, who accused him of collaboration. “Under the regime of Tito, Catholicism had an extremely important role”, father Zlatko Koren, rector of Marija Bistrica, tells ANSAmed. “It united the people”. In many peasant villages, communism never managed to take root nor to affect the faithful’s great attachment to the Church. “All the same, it was better not to be seen. Tito himself, who came from a very religious family, set foot in Marija Bistrica for the last time in 1947,” says father Zlatko, who has presided over the sanctuary since 2006. With the end of Yugoslavia and the Patriotic War (1991), religion once again began uniting Croatians. With the small crown of the rosary around their necks, as part of their uniform, Croatian fighters were victorious. Since 1992, soldiers also have a day set aside for a pilgrimage to the sanctuary (on the first Sunday of September). Eighteen years later, however, things have already changed in the country, particularly the relationship between young people and faith. “The ills afflicting Europe, hedonism and individualism, have also hit Croatian society,” the rector says. “Young people often take for granted the possibility of watching a mass on television or listening on the radio. This would have been unthinkable in Tito’s time”. Bistrica, the rector says, must remain a place of peace and serenity and must not be turned into “a commercial space”, as was the case with the sanctuary of Medjugorje, in nearby Bosnia. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Serbia: UNHCR to Close Refugee Chapter by End of 2011

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, JUNE 21 — Head of the UNHCR office in Serbia Eduardo Arboleda said that the UNHCR will have to close its refugee chapter in Serbia by the end of 2011, adding that before that the organization will do everything in its powers to provide lasting solutions regarding refugees and internally displaced persons, reports Tanjug news agency. UNCHR does not have enough money to fund the quick ending of the refugee crisis, Arboleda said. We are determined to give our best and put an end to this chapter in Serbia by the end of 2011 because UNHCR has been present in the country for the last 15 years, he said. We have created a positive dynamics and we are trying to attract sponsors but I am not sure how much we would be able to do after 2012, the UNHCR official explained, adding that the aid depends on the amount of money that will be available and the number of people who need help. In order to take care of the most vulnerable refugees within the following two years Arboleda expressed hope that a permanent solution will be found for all by a regional project to be created by the governments of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. The issue was first discussed in Belgrade on March 25, when the ministers of the four countries gathered to discuss ways on how to end the refugee crisis in the region, Arboleda concluded. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

France-Morocco: Paris Sending 600 Mln in Aid by 2012

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, JULY 2 — As well as an agreement for collaboration in the field of civil nuclear power, France is to support Moroccan development with a financial contribution of 600 million euros by 2012. The news came from France’s Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, during a joint press conference with his Moroccan counterpart Abbas El Fassi. “Relations between Morocco and France have never been better, but our countries can, and have decided to do better still”, Fillon said, adding that, apart from the 147 million euros in agreements signed today, “the French Development Agency (Afd) will add its contribution of at least 600 million euros by 2012 to aid Morocco in its development and modernisation efforts”. The amount will go to, among other things, increasing France’s financing of the high-speed rail link between Tangiers and Casablanca and to the planned 500 MW solar power station being built at Ouarzazate. “We are convinced that the solar energy project constitutes and opportunity for strengthening collaboration between Paris and Rabat” Fillon said, pointing out that France is already involved in developing wind power. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

El Alamein: Bedouins Against Land Mines, Still Deadly

(ANSAmed) — LONDON, JUNE 29 — More than six decades after the battle of El Alamein, the epic clash between Allies and the Axis that marked the start of decline for Hitler and Mussolini, Egypt is again experiencing tension between the local community and the authorities over the management of the deadly legacy left behind by Germany, Italy and Great Britain. A legacy that still kills after so many years, making life hard for residents and Bedouins. The residents of the El Alamein area set up a group to force the Egyptian government and the old rulers, the British, to deal with their responsibilities. Ahmed Kassim, age 43, maintenance director for an oil company, reported to the Guardian that “It is a scandal. The government removes mines when it is a matter of favouring private investments but not to protect the life of our children”. In 1981 Kassim lost two brothers and a cousin when a mine went off. He stated that “My family did not receive any compensation money from Egyptian authorities and no one, in all these years, worried about removing mines in the areas we live in”. On the other hand, the government is about to clean up 6.25 million square metres of land in the Marassi area to allow the creation of a luxury resort and golf course. Egyptian officials instead draw attention to the fact that, given the lack of resources, they have to strike a balance between decontamination for commercial and humanitarian purposes. A balance that, according to the locals, leans too much towards companies. Kassim spared no criticism against the UK either, which to date has rejected any claim for compensation by the victims of its minefields or to offer assistance for mass clearings. Tired of awaiting a reply, the committee set up by north-eastern Bedouins promised to take legal action to drag the British government to the European court of human rights and its ambassador to trial in Cairo. In truth the chance of success is very limited, but Egypt’s Bedouins see the legal action as a first step towards acknowledgement of their rights. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Order for First Arab Cruise Ship

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, JULY 1 — Libya’s General Maritime Transportation Company has signed a contract with STX Europe for the delivery of what has been called ‘the first Arab cruise ship’, which is to be built in Saint Nazare, France. At the ceremony marking the signing of the contract, which will result in Libya having its own cruise ship, a number of Libyan ministers took part, including the Transport and Economic Ministers, as well as Hannibal Gaddafi, son of the Libyan leader and head of the National Maritime Company. According to the Libyan company, the ship will be ready by 2012 and have 1739 cabins with the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers. The design of the interior will be entrusted to an Italian studio, according to an announcement during the evening.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Leather and Footwear Exports Increase

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 21 — In the first five months of the year, in the leather and footwear sector, exports totalled 381.1 million dinars (about 197.,1 million euros), with a 13.1% increase compared to the same period the previous year. An essential contribution was provided by the finished footwear sector, with an increase of 19.5% to 234.6 million dinars (about 121.1 million euros), which is equivalent to 61.4% of all production in the sector. The main buyers are in Italy (48.7%), France (29.2%) and Germany (11.4%). On the import market, an 11.2% increase was registered, also compared to the same period in 2009. Italy is the top supplier to the Tunisian leather industry, with 53% of the market and 135 million dinars (about 69.7 million euros), followed by France and Germany. Tunisia also imports from China (6.4 million dinars; about 3.3 million euros) and India (5.7 million dinars; about 2.9 million euros). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Whaling: IWC Meeting in Morocco, Japan Accused of Bribery

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, JUNE 21 — The 62nd meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) opened today amidst accusations against Japan of bribery. The commission must decide whether or not to maintain, modify or revoke the moratorium on whaling in effect since 1986. Japan, Norway and Iceland are three countries that until now have obtained a derogation to the moratorium and hunt about 2,000 whales each year. Pressure is mounting from these countries to revoke the moratorium, contrary to the stance taken by the majority of the countries present in Agadir and the hardened environmental associations, which are calling for the derogation to be reduced even further. Negotiations will be conditioned by speculation and suspicion regarding Japan, which, according to an investigation by the Sunday Times, has paid several countries to obtain their votes. According to the newspaper, Japan has provided aid, money or prostitutes to Guinea, the Ivory Coast and the small island-nations of Grenada, Kiribati and Saint-Christophe-et-Nieves. A week ago the same newspaper revealed that a company linked to a Japanese businessman made an advance payment of the hotel bill in Agadir for IWC Interim President Anthony Liverpool. According to the Sunday Times, the American-based business, Japan Tours and Travel Inc., linked to Hideuki Wakasa, paid 5000 euros for Liverpool’s hotel bill in Agadir. The IWC President did not deny the report, and only replied that this was not a payment from the “Japanese government”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Desalinisation Plant to Reduce Water Needs

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, JUNE 21 — A new desalinisation plant, which will satisfy “one-fourth of the total water needs that is lacking to Israel each year,” was how Premier Benyamin Netanyahu defined the structure, whose plans were approved yesterday by his government. A plant, which, according to most experts, that will be among the largest in the world and should become operative in 2013, for a cost of 420 million euros. The complex will include structures to pump in seawater, the desalinisation plant itself, which will cover an area of 30 hectares, and special water conduits and power infrastructure. The plant will be built between Palmahin and Rishon LeTzion (south of Tel Aviv) and in the future, after the necessary government approval, it will work together with another facility, which will be of a similar size and located in the same area. Once completed, it will provide Israel with an additional 600 million cubic metres of water, and, together with existing facilities planned for the recycling and purification of a portion of the water used, the structure should reduce an excessive exploitation by Israel of its existing and non-renewable aquifers, including those in the West Bank claimed by the Palestinians, as well as the water of Sea of Galilee and Jordan River. It will also allow for a partial renewal of the costal aquifers, which are now drying up and affected by increasing salinity. The government decision has been harshly criticised by an Israeli environmental NGO (Adam Teva VeDin), according to which, upon completion, the percentage of drinkable water for domestic use from desalinisation will increase to 40%, with harmful effects on public health due to a lack of important minerals needed by the human body. In Israel there are already three desalinisation plants operating, which produce a total of almost 300 million cubic metres of drinking water. The total water needs of Israel, including the agricultural and industrial sector, have been forecast to be 2.5 billion cubic metres in 2015. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Syria: Gov’t Approves Jewelry and Precious Metals Import

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, JULY 1 — The Syrian government has approved the import of jewelry and precious metals. Over the past few days the Trade and Economy Minister had issued the authorisation for purchases abroad of trinkets and jewelry and gold objects, precious metals, the cutting of fine and cultivated pearls, of precious stones (gems) and semi-precious ones.” Also according to the Syrian sources, as reported in a statement from the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE) office in Damascus, imports will be through customs at the international airport in the Syrian capital. The ban on imports will be substituted by the imposition of customs duties yet to be decided on. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syrian 2009 Honey Production at 2,700 Tonnes

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, JULY 1 — In 2009 Syria produced 2,700 tonnes of honey, according to the president of the Apiarists Committee of the Damascus Chamber of Agriculture, Mohammad Said al-Attar. According to Italian embassy reports in its newsletter, Al-Attar noted that at the end of 2009 Syria had 570,000 bee hives, 30% of which traditional and the rest modern. The number of beekeepers in the country is about 19,500 producers. Al-Attar also noted that the use of bees for the pollination of agricultural crops, flowers and vegetables increased the production of the latter products by 40%, with revenues of about 425.5 million dollars every year. On the basis of the studies by the Damascus Department of Agriculture, continued the newsletter, every kilo of honey has a market price of about 17 dollars, while the wholesale price varies between 5 and 12 dollars. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Planner of Munich Olympics Attack Dies in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Mohammed Oudeh, the key planner of the 1972 Munich Olympics attack that killed 11 Israeli athletes, died Saturday morning in Damascus, his daughter said. He was 73.

Oudeh died of kidney failure a day after he was rushed to Damascus’ Andalus hospital after falling sick, Hana Oudeh told The Associated Press .

Mohammed Oudeh — also known under his guerrilla name Abu Daoud — did not participate in the Sept. 5, 1972 attack. Two Israeli athletes were killed in the assault, and nine others died in a botched rescue attempt by the German police. A German policeman and five Palestinian gunmen also were killed.

The Munich attack shocked the world as the most high-profile and brazen assault on a sports team, and later led to a wave of assassinations of top Palestinian officials.

Oudeh was a leader of “Black September,” an offshoot of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s Fatah group that was established to avenge the 1970 expulsion of Palestinian guerrillas from Jordan.


He remained militant to the last.

“Today, I cannot fight you anymore, but my grandson will and his grandsons, too,” Oudeh said, addressing Israelis.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

U.S. Policy and Debate on the Middle East: Whatever Happened to Adult Supervision?

by Barry Rubin

If you take any given 24-hour period, it is amazing to see the drumbeat of silliness and misinformation prominently displayed and distributed by (formerly?) prestigious institutions. Let’s take just four examples in the period just finished.

First, Thomas L. Friedman is an expert on the Middle East. Unfortunately, however, he is only an expert on the Middle East as seen by the Washington DC establishment at any particular moment. This fact also requires him to jump around between contradictory positions.

His gimmick this week is, “The Real Palestinian Revolution.” Now one might call the way Hamas threw Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) out of the Gaza Strip and turned that territory into a radical Islamist state is a real Palestinian revolution. Or one might say that a real Palestinian revolution would take place when Fatah, the PA, and Palestinian public opinion really changed toward accepting a two-state solution.

Instead, his “real revolution” is merely a matter of image, as in the following paragraph:

“It is a revolution based on building Palestinian capacity and institutions not just resisting Israeli occupation, on the theory that if the Palestinians can build a real economy, a professional security force and an effective, transparent government bureaucracy it will eventually become impossible for Israel to deny the Palestinians a state in the West Bank and Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem….It is the only hope left, though, for a two-state solution, so it needs to be quietly supported.”

By the way, it isn’t clear that anything is really changing at all but rather that the whole big state-building campaign is purely a public relations campaign as this Carnegie report suggests…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]


Alleged Spy Was Devoted to Her KGB Dad, Ex-Husband Says

Anna Chapman, the high-society party girl accused of being part of a ring of Russian deep-cover spies operating in the United States, is the daughter of a former KGB agent, her ex-husband told the Daily Telegraph. “Anna told me her father had been high up in the ranks of the KGB. She said he had been an agent in ‘old Russia,’ “ said Alex Chapman, a British psychology student.


She is a British citizen, the Telegraph says, and the British counterintelligence service MI5 is investigating whether she was operating as a spy during her time there. Alex Chapman told the paper that he’s not surprised to learn that his ex-wife is suspected of espionage. He describes their courtship and marriage as something like a Russian-British version of “Meet the Parents,” with a stern KGB vet standing in for Robert DeNiro’s retired CIA agent.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Russian Spy Ring May be Last Straw for Obama Nuclear Arms Treaty

A U.S.-Russia arms treaty is teetering in the Senate, lacking support from Republicans and set back by an alleged spy ring.

The White House was hoping that the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), signed three months ago by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, would move quickly through the Senate. But now it may not get a vote on the floor until after the November elections.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Ariz. Governor’s Comments Draw Fierce Criticism

Comments by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer that most illegal immigrants enter the United States to smuggle drugs rather than seek work have prompted a wave of criticism.

[Has anyone considered the possibility that these illegals come across the border with smuggled drugs only to seek illegitimate employment afterwards?

Honestly, there are too many of these illegal aliens for all of them to be involved in the drug smuggling. Still, linking them with the drug trade has nothing to do with being inherently racist. There is plenty of cause for concern about crime statistics related to their activities once inside America’s borders. — Z]

But Brewer is standing by her comments.

Speaking Friday, Brewer said that “the majority of illegal trespassers” entering Arizona “are bringing drugs in,” Fox News reported.

Now, representatives of the National Border Patrol, Mexican politicians and human rights groups are attacking her claim and calling on her to provide hard evidence to back it up.

“That governor is racist,” Francisco Loureiro, who runs an immigrant shelter in the Mexican city of Nogales, told Fox. “She has to look for a way to harm the image of migrants before American society.”

T.J. Bonner, president of the union that represents Border Patrol agents, told CNN that Brewer’s comments, don’t “comport with reality — that’s the nicest way to put it.”

In April, Brewer enacted a controversial law that grants the local police greater authority to check the legal status of people they stop. Brewer has seen her popularity soar since the bill and has traveled to the White House to discuss the law with President Barack Obama.

The White House plans to mount a legal challenge to the law, which Obama described as “misguided.”

Late on Friday, Brewer issued a statement defending her comments. The statement cited a report by the Los Angeles Times that highlighted the increasing roles of Mexican drug cartels in the business of smuggling people into the United States. Brewer added that “many federal government reports have drawn the same conclusions.”

The statement did not quell the criticism.

[As if anything is going to quell the Left’s criticism of Americans actually exercising their right to protect and defend this nation from invasion. — Z]

Jaime Farrant of the Tucson-based Border Action Network told Fox News that he has “no evidence” that most people are entering to smuggle drugs, while Mexican Senator Jesus Ramon Valdes, who represents the Mexican border state of Coahuila, said the comments were racist and ignorant.

“Traditionally, migrants have always been needy, humble people who in good faith go looking for a way to better the lives of their families,” Ramon Valdes told Fox News.

[How does that change anything? There are HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of “needy, humble people who in good faith go looking for a way to better the lives of their families” but that doesn’t mean that all of them should be given admission to America or that attempts to illegally gain such admission should be countenanced without rancor. All of which has absolutely NOTHING to do with being “racist and ignorant”. — Z]

Still, some are in agreement with Brewer’s comments. On the Governor’s Facebook page, commenters described her as “gutsy”, and one called for her to run for president in 2012.

Jimmy Cuneo left a comment describing Brewer as “the only politician in the USA doing their job!”

Larry Birns, Director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, D.C., called Brewer’s comments “an exaggeration, but not by much,” as Mexican drug cartels become more and more influential in illegal immigration.

[If anything, Mexico’s drug cartels are escalating the amount of illegal immigration in order that their own mules can more easily swim submerged in a flood of other aliens. In this way, Brewer may be correct with her observation that illegal immigrants in general are facilitating the drug cartels’ agenda. — Z]

The people-smuggling industry “has gone from a sort of do-it-yourself, small guy operation, to big business,” Birns said. “There’s going to be a lot more violence on the border.”

[Try not to forget that, just like with Islam’s own predation upon Muslims, a majority of any violence is coming from the Mexican side and not from our own Border Agents. Much like with how Muslims excel at killing other Muslims, nobody preys upon Mexicans better than other Mexicans. With the looter mentality bestowed upon them from colonial occupation, they now have it down to a studied art that few can hope to surpass. — Z]

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

N. Miami [Haitian- American] Mayor Invites 55,000 Immigrants Into City

As President Obama addressed the nation for the first time on immigration reform Thursday; North Miami’s mayor Andre Pierre sat in his city hall waiting to hear about Haiti. The President never mentioned it, or Pierre’s latest offer to the White House.

“I’m inviting them to come and live and settle in the City of North Miami.” said Pierre. “Them” are 55,000 Haitians currently on waiting lists for visas to the United States.

Pierre, a Haitian immigrant and immigration lawyer, is suggesting North Miami be refuge for thousands currently living in tents in earthquake ravaged Haiti.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Italy Upbeat Over Crucifix Appeal

European Human Rights Court hears crosses in schools appeal

(ANSA) — Rome, June 30 — The Italian government has voiced its optimism over the outcome of an appeal heard Wednesday against a landmark European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling on the display of crucifixes in school classrooms. Last November, the ECtHR said the compulsory display of crosses in Italian schools violated children’s and parents’ freedom of belief, prompting Rome to request that the matter be referred to the court’s appeal body, the Grand Chamber. Following the three-hour hearing, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Italy had “everything in order to ensure a positive result”. “This is a great battle for the freedom and identity of our Christian values”, he added. European Policies Minister Andrea Ronchi said the appeal offered the court an opportunity to “re-establish common sense principles”.

“It is obvious the crucifix is not a symbol that damages the principle of secularity in education and it threatens the rights of no one,” he said. “I am therefore confident of a positive outcome to this appeal”.

Both ministers also underscored the significance of the fact that eight member states from the Council of Europe, the human rights body that founded the ECtHR, had intervened in support of Italy. The Grand Chamber also authorized written observations from ten non-governmental bodies, including Human Rights Watch, Interrights, the Italian Christian Workers Association and the Central Committee of German Catholics. In addition, 33 members of the European Parliament, which has no link to the ECtHR, were for the first time ever given permission to intervene.

The Grand Chamber only rarely agrees to hear appeals and only on matters deemed of particular significance throughout the Council of Europe’s 47 member states. The 20 European judges present at Wednesday’s hearing will reconsider the original arguments afresh and are not expected to publish their decision for several months. In November’s decision, the Strasbourg court unanimously upheld an application from a Finnish-born Italian mother, stressing that parents must be allowed to educate their children as they see fit.

It said children were entitled to freedom of religion and said that although “encouraging” for some pupils, the crucifix could be “emotionally disturbing for pupils of other religions or those who profess no religion”.

It said the state has an obligation “to refrain from imposing beliefs, even indirectly, in places where persons are dependent on it or in places where they are particularly vulnerable”.

But arguing against the court’s comments, the Italian government’s representative Nicola Lettieri said crucifixes in Italian classrooms are “a passive symbol that bear no relationship to the actual teaching, which is secular”. He said there was “no indoctrination” involved and said the cross did not deprive parents of the right to raise their children as they saw fit. The jurist representing the eight countries supporting Italy, Joseph Weiler, said that “Italy without the crucifix would no longer be Italy”.

“The crucifix is both a national and a religious symbol,” he said, suggesting that religious references and symbols are pervasive in Europe and do not necessarily connote faith. “Britons who sing ‘God Save The Queen’ are certainly not all believers,” he said.

Crucifixes are a fixture in Italian public buildings although the postwar Constitution ordered a separation of Church and State, and Catholicism ceased to be Italy’s state religion in 1984.

Two Fascist-era decrees from 1924 and 1928, which were never repealed, are usually used to justify their status, although a 2007 Education Ministry directive also recommended they be displayed in schools. The woman who took the case to the ECtHR, Soile Lautsi, started her legal battle in 2001 when her sons were aged 11 and 13, and reached Italy’s Constitutional Court in 2004. However, the Constitutional Court declined to rule on the matter, pointing out the crucifix provisions stemmed from secondary decrees predating the constitution, rather than parliament-made law currently on the Italian statute books.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Genetics: Venter to Study ‘Mediterranean Micro-Organisms’

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 22 — Craig Venter, the father of the artificial cell and of the sequencing of the first cell of a living being, has embarked on a new project in the Mediterranean. After hitting the front pages around the world after the publication of his research into the first lab-manufactured cell, Venter will mark the tenth anniversary of the human genome sequence by crossing the Mediterranean on board his yacht Sorcerer II in search of genes allowing the “creation” of organisms capable of producing biofuels, beginning with carbon dioxide, which will have to replace oil. The scientific expedition is based in the port of Valencia, where the scientist explained during a press conference that the aim of the mission is to catalogue the Mediterranean’s microbiological variety, which is made unique by the sea’s isolation from other oceans, a “closed sea” in which the waters are slow to change. Forms of life that have adapted to pollution will also be examined. “In every cubic centimetre of water, there are around a million bacteria and over 10 million viruses,” Vender explained. “Some micro-organisms die from pollution and others adapt to it,” he added. “Most of this diversity consists of adjustments that are unique to the local environment, adjustments to the intensity of sunlight, to temperature or to the pollution of the local environment. The Mediterranean is among the seas that has the most human pressure in the world and this certainly means that it has organisms that are very varied and adjustments that are very different to those in other seas,” the biochemist observed. The founder of the Institute for Genomic Research, who ten years ago succeeded in privately operating the first human genome sequencing, hopes to discover at least 80 million new genes during his journey, which could provide the key to understanding the functioning of ecosystems, offer solutions to the planet’s environmental problems or allow the discovery of new boundaries of clean energy that could potentially replace oil. The scientist says that only the J.C. Venter Institute, the research centre that he directs, has the necessary technology and financial resources, thanks to the support of the San Diego Foundation or of Life Technologies, to process the considerable number of samples that the “Sorcerer II” has already collected since it left San Diego in March 2009. Venter explained that 95% of genes known to the “library of planet earth” come from samples obtained by his expedition ship, some 40 million genes, which he hopes to double. Among the possible discoveries that could be hiding in the genome of a marine micro-organism, the scientist underlined “the possibility of planning new organisms that could help to fight climate change, with new bacteria able to eliminate carbon dioxide and to find new clean energy. A new fuel for the future”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]