Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100710

Financial Crisis
»Economy’s Stall Spreads to Shoppers, Retail Sales
»Tunisia: Women and Young People Hardest Hit by Unemployment
»Deliberate Nonfeasance at the DOJ
»While We Debate Climate Change, The Rest of the Planet Prepares for Mass Migration
Europe and the EU
»Climate: EU Ministers Focus on Low-Consumption Homes
»Film: EU Heritage at Risk, 80% Silent Films Already Lost
»French Public Anger Grows at Government Sleaze Allegations
»Italy: New Extinct Volcano Discovered Off Calabria Coast
»Italy: 90 Libyan University Grads to Study in Central Italy
»Spain: Law Approved Requiring Translating Films Into Catalan
»Spanish Court Sentences 14 Members of Neo-Nazi Group
»UK: British Foreign Office Bows to Israeli Pressure, Takes Down Ambassador’s Personal Opinion
»UK: British Ambassador as Whore Pleading With Her Pimp
»UK: The Problem With Diplomatic Blogging
»UK: William Hague Must Sack British Ambassador Over Hizbollah Tribute
»Wine: Household Consumption Rises in Spain
»Croatian Ambassador in Molise Celebrates Ties With Italy
»Italy-Serbia: Agreement for Ibar River Power Stations
Mediterranean Union
»Summit of 6 EU Countries on Surveillance Plan
North Africa
»Egypt: Encyclopedia on Islamic Architecture, Arts
»Egypt: Indian Investments in Port Said Biggest in Mideast
»High Consumption of Tomatoes in Tunisia
Middle East
»Lebanon: Resistance Land
»The Forgotten Minority
»Turkish Firms May Export to Africa Via Yemen, Expert
»UK Envoy Finesses ‘Terrorist’ Label on Hizbollah’s Armed Wing

Financial Crisis

Economy’s Stall Spreads to Shoppers, Retail Sales

By MARIA HALKIAS / The Dallas Morning News

Stores discounted and consumers selectively shopped in June, leading to mixed sales trends reported Thursday by the nation’s major retail chains.

It marked the second month of tepid consumer spending and left retailers without the strong momentum they wanted heading into the back-to-school shopping season.

Department stores, including Plano-based J.C. Penney, Macy’s and Nordstrom, beat forecasts. The trio also outperformed discounters and teen apparel chains, which are especially under the spotlight as families start thinking about outfitting 56 million kindergartners through high schoolers for their return to the classroom.

American Eagle and Wet Seal cut their income forecasts after heavy discounting in June. The Buckle and the Gap posted results that were below expectations. Abercrombie & Fitch and Aeropostale both beat analysts’ projections.

The International Council of Shopping Centers’ index of June retail sales rose 3 percent, the low end of its growth forecast, which ranged from 3 to 4 percent. That compares with a 5.1 percent decline last June.

The rocky recovery and ongoing consumer frugality are inspiring retailers to get creative. In June, stores still faced easier comparisons from a year ago, but that mathematical lift will begin to moderate as the year progresses.

Retailers have prepared major campaigns and promotions to grab market share during the back-to-school period, which is second only to the Christmas season for apparel chains.

Abercrombie & Fitch has been passing out 20 percent off coupons to be used the last two weeks of July when stores are stocked with fall apparel. American Eagle is giving away a smart phone and $25 gift card to every customer who tries on a pair of jeans between July 21 and Aug. 3. Kohl’s Corp. is giving away $10 million in back-to-school contests.

Discounting was the big story in June, said Eric Beder, analyst at Brean Murray, Carret & Co. “There is just not enough consumer demand, even with weak comparisons, to justify higher levels of inventory and me-too product offerings at inflated prices.”

Target said sales were soft for the second month this quarter, but its apparel sales were strong.

Nordstrom said its 14.1 percent increase in June same-store sales benefited from its women’s half-yearly sale and Penney said its 4.5 percent increase was held back by less clearance inventory. Penney’s June sales were led by Father’s Day purchases of knit polo shirts, shorts and branded athletic wear. Men’s, women’s and children’s apparel sales each posted increases in the midteen percentage ranges as shoppers spruced up their summer wardrobes with in-season clothes, Penney said. But those sharp gains were tempered by less clearance inventory.

Home merchandise, which has been a laggard since 2007, “continues to be a work in progress,” Penney said, but home textiles are outperforming furniture and window coverings.

After hitting 52-week lows recently, J.C. Penney’s stock gained $1.46, or 6.7 percent, to close at $23.24 Thursday.

Luxury shoppers took a break in June. Last month, Neiman Marcus posted its weakest monthly sales increase since the Dallas-based retailer’s sales turned positive in December.

Neiman Marcus reported a 1.9 percent increase in same-store sales. Revenue growth was strongest in the West and New York City.

Competitor Saks Inc. said its sales increased 2.5 percent, slightly better than the 2 percent rise analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected, but also lower than its recent trend.

Data released Wednesday by MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse said luxury spending dropped 3.9 percent in June for the first time since November. Upscale shoppers may have been spooked by stock market declines, which tend to influence them more than middle-income consumers.

There could be a “glass is half-full” scenario ahead for the back-to-school season.

June’s lackluster results don’t necessarily mean shoppers will act the same way when they begin shopping in earnest.

“Mid- to low-income consumers may be looking ahead and banking some money for back-to-school shopping and to see what happens to the recovery,” said Ken Perkins, analyst at RetailMetrics Inc…

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Women and Young People Hardest Hit by Unemployment

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 7 — In Tunisia, the rate of unemployment is at about 14% and is especially high for women and those under age 25, reports a survey by Tunisia’s General Labour Union (UGTT), underscoring that “at 14.2% the rate of unemployment is still high, especially as concerns women (16%), those under age 25 (30%) and those with only high school education.” The survey says that at the basis of the problem is the process of economic liberalsiation, which has given rise to a “model of competiveness and organanisation of work” which led to “ a position at the bottom of the value chain”. In addition, as a consequence, the high rate of unemployment “leads to accepting of under-qualified and underpaid jobs”. President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has pledged to reduce the rate of unemployment by 1 and a half points by 2014. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Deliberate Nonfeasance at the DOJ

John Steele Gordon

If this article (see below) is even half true, it should be a major scandal and pretty much proof positive that the Obama Justice Department is totally politicized.

The so-called Motor Voter Law of 1993 (a time when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency) requires states to provide voter registration materials at many state offices, such as state departments of motor vehicles and welfare offices. Also, it requires the states to purge their voter rolls of the dead, felons, people who have moved, and others not eligible to vote.

According to J. Christopher Adams, who recently resigned from the DOJ and has been testifying in front of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission — which the department had forbidden him to do when he was an employee, despite a subpoena — the Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes told the Voting Rights Section at a meeting that, “We have no interest in enforcing this provision of the law. It has nothing to do with increasing turnout, and we are just not going to do it.”

Nothing equivocal about that. Indeed, it’s a plain and simple statement that the Obama Justice Department intends to commit nonfeasance regarding the enforcement of this provision of a duly enacted law. But that, of course, puts Ms. Fernandes and her boss, Eric Holder, in flat violation of their oaths of office:…

           — Hat tip: DS[Return to headlines]

While We Debate Climate Change, The Rest of the Planet Prepares for Mass Migration

[Welcome to the newest and most outrageous way to justify flooding Europe and the West with even more Muslim colonizers. Supposedly, Warble Gloaming … er, Global Warming is now to blame for having to relocate some 6,000,000 Bangladeshi Muslims and that’s just for starters! How many more unlettered and technologically illiterate people will the West have to absorb in order to please the Carbon Credit snake oil gang? — Z]

While we here in the good old U.S. of A. are still debating climate change (whether it exists, whether it is man-made) the rest of the planet not only agrees it is real, but is planning for its impact on mankind. One such change has generated a term hardly ever heard in the U.S.. but well known to the rest of the globe: environmental refugee.

[You can be damn sure they’re already plotting how to make “Environmental Refugee” into a new expedited immigration category for special needs cases. — Z]

We let ourselves be held back by those who refuse to admit sea temperatures are rising due to human activity.

[ANY PROOF OF THAT? Or are we just supposed to take your word for it that “sea temperatures are rising due to human activity”? But even without any proof, suddenly those who demand scientific analysis of this pseudo-crisis are responsible for these bleeding hearts being “held back” from their sob sister mission of mercy that will further drain Western coffers to no useful end. — Z]

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is busily planning how to handle the fallout when larger portions of the globe become uninhabitable. Millions of people have already been forced from their homes due to climate change. Millions more will soon be forced out by floods, cyclones, tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, droughts, increased storm cycles and other environmental catastrophes.

The following statement by the European Union’s European Commission for the Environment was issued in 2008. It describes the massive planning already underway to prepare for huge surges of people made homeless by nature.

[Insert photo of wailing Muslim women >here<. — Z]

“Environmental refugees already number some 25 million, and it is estimated that by 2020, some 60 million people will move from desertified areas in Sub-Saharan Africa towards Northern Africa and Europe.. But this south-north migration is nothing, compared to internal migrations within Africa itself. Most internal refugees settle in bloated megacities, a trend that — given the scarce water resources — is regarded as a potential disaster.. Trapped in a deteriorating environment without access to freshwater and plagued by rising food prices, refugees and locals alike may be prone to poverty, disease, and unrest.”

The Europe Parliament is beginning to weigh the following questions:

1) How many environmental refugees should be allowed to settle on that continent?

2) Should European countries contribute greater sums to non-developed nations so they can try to absorb their own displaced residents?

There’s no international consensus on the definition of an “environmental refugee,” much less on how to deal with them. Natural disasters have been displacing people for centuries. Remember biblical references to the cedars of Lebanon? Those trees were so popular in ancient times, for building everything from palaces to furniture, that mankind essentially deforested Lebanon and desertification followed. Back then, global human population was but a smidgen of its current size. There were plenty of habitable regions available to refugees fleeing famines, droughts, massive storms and so on. That is no longer the case.

Today’s environmental catastrophes are markedly more destructive and create more refugees because the volume of the displaced has magnified by geometric proportions due to population increases.

Here’s but one recent example. A series of record cyclones during this decade has wiped out human habitat for millions of people along Bangladesh’s Bay of Bengal coast and its inland mangrove forests and deltas — 6 million, to be precise.

The Bangladesh city of Dhaka was home to a mere 200,000 people 30 years ago, according to the Guardian website. As a result of the flooding, it is now the fastest-growing city in the world and has 15 million residents. Most of the population increase has been driven by villagers deserting coastal homelands after cyclones and tidal flooding. Climatologists predict one-third of Bangladesh could be under water by the year 2050. ( has a series of riveting videos profiling the victims of Cyclone Aila whose villages are permanently underwater.)

But Americans should not hold out hope nor fool themselves into thinking that environmental refugees will be limited to flooded mangrove forests in Asia or drought-stricken populations in Africa.

Some astute planners believe sea level increases during this century could make much of New York City uninhabitable. As science writer Bruce Stutz notes:

With only a foot and a half of sea level rise — a realistic prediction for 2050 — a storm as severe as Katrina could require New York City to evacuate as many as 3 million people. A three-foot rise in sea level — which could well occur by the 2080s — could turn major storms into minor apocalypses, inundating low-lying shore communities in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island; shutting down the city’s metropolitan transportation system; flooding the highways that surround the city; and rendering the tunnels that lead into the city impassable.

[Evidently, the notion of one or two meter high sea walls has entirely escaped Mr. Stutz. — Z]

What is strikingly similar in all the literature on environmental refugees is the lack of reference to the basic cause of the problem: human overpopulation.

[Again, ANY PROOF? Some of the world’s major population centers, like Europe, are going through a DECLINE. — Z]

Most of the concern is raised by progressive human rights or church assistance organizations, who see the “right” to emigrate (to higher, safer habitats) as a human or natural right. [emphasis added]

[Boy howdy! Immigration as a human right. Is there no limit to this idiocy?!? — Z]

They demand money and assistance from developed nations, some of which may well — and should — be forthcoming. But the problem calls for another consideration too politically incorrect to utter: human population growth must be slowed. And until that aspect of the problem is dealt with, every other attempt to deal with what could soon become unprecedented levels of homelessness could be in vain. [emphasis added]

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Climate: EU Ministers Focus on Low-Consumption Homes

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 22 — The battle against climate change should be fought starting at home and one of the strategic objectives set by Europe is that, starting in 2020, buildings be constructed according to “zero pollution” and practically zero energy consumption standards. Therefore, building regulations that adopt the European directive will be more demanding regarding energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in homes as a result of the objectives set by the EU. This was explained today by the Spanish Minister of Housing, Beatriz Corredor, who chaired the informal meeting of ministers for urban building and development of the 27 member-states yesterday and today in Toledo, as part of the Spanish 6-month term as EU president. Corredor, cited by news agency Europa Press, indicated that the meeting ended with the approval of a final statement, the Toledo Declaration, which proposes to the European Commission for housing to play a role in the energy efficiency objectives indicated by Brussels. They also proposed to stimulate the restructuring in the residential sector of the member states to create jobs, encourage economic recovery and cohesion and social integration, in addition to energy efficiency. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Film: EU Heritage at Risk, 80% Silent Films Already Lost

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JULY 6 — Around 80% of European films made in the era of silent films are probably already lost, but also those made in the digital era are at risk. The European Commission today issued this alarm, saying that Europe’s film heritage could disappear. Despite the fact that the digital era has made it possible to produce and present films in new ways, it has also introduced new challenges to the traditional techniques of preserving films. “Films” said the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, “should remain accessible for everybody forever. Europe’s productions form a modern cultural treasure. Digital technology is coming to the rescue of this fragile heritage, but we must make sure that the process of preservation is done in the best possible way, to obtain the best possible results in all EU countries”. Digital technologies, Brussels explains, are in constant evolution and what looks modern to us today, could look old in 2020, like the “ancient” videotapes. The EU institutions that are responsible for the protection of this heritage must therefore keep up with time, adopt new technologies and progress together with them. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

French Public Anger Grows at Government Sleaze Allegations

When a poll this week found two thirds of French people consider their politicians “mostly corrupt”, many were surprised at how low the figure was.

Suspicions about financial irregularities have plagued Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration since he came to power in 2007 and immediately awarded himself a 140 per cent pay rise.

It prompted Arnaud Montebourg MP to say: “You get the feeling that the political class is helping itself while the French people are abandoned on the edge of the pavement.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy: New Extinct Volcano Discovered Off Calabria Coast

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 21 — Italy has a new volcano: it doesn’t have a name yet, it has been extinct for a long time, probably between 670,000 and 1,000,000 years and is located in the southern Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of Calabria across from Capo Vatiano. The discovery by the National Geophysics and Volcanology Institute (INGV) in collaboration with the University of Calabria, will be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research. The new volcano is medium-sized, its peak is 120 metres below sea-level, it covers an area of about 15 kilometres and is located on the same fault that produced the Messina earthquake in 1908. “It is a volcano that is no longer a cause for concern,” said Massimo Chiappini, who is part of the group of researchers that also includes Riccardo De Ritis, Guido Ventura, Iacopo Nicolosi and Fabio Speranza. “However, its discovery,” he added, “sheds new light on the geodynamic models in the area,” like those explaining the formation of the Aeolian Islands. The number of Italian volcanoes is now up to 29. Sixteen of these are extinct and 9 are active (Vesuvius, Etna, Vulcano, Lipari, Stromboli, Panarea, Ischia, Campi Flegrei and Pantelleria) while four are being examined (Palinuro, Salina, Marsili, Colli Albani). (ANSAmed).

2010-06-21 18:47

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: 90 Libyan University Grads to Study in Central Italy

(ANSAmed) — PERUGIA, JULY 8 — Tomorrow, ninety Libyan university degree-holders will begin linguistic-cultural training at the University for Foreigners in Perugia. They will study Italian language for three months before signing up for specialised and doctorate studies programmes in their relative disciplines in several Italian educational institutions. Making use of scholarships that were granted by the North African country, the Libyan students will receive free lodgings at the institutes during their stay in Perugia and will also be granted special rates for meals and services. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Law Approved Requiring Translating Films Into Catalan

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 30 — Today, Catalonian Parliament approved (with 117 votes in favour and 17 against) a controversial film law requiring half of analogue format copies of films distributed or screened in the region to be dubbed or subtitled in Catalan. The law was supported by PSC, ERC and ICV representatives, which form the three-party government, as well as the CiU, which is the main opposition party. opposed to the law were the PP and a mixed group of representatives, according to La Vanguardia’s website. The law, which is made up of 53 articles, regulates aspects of the industry, culture and distribution in the film sector in the region. The most controversial point, which is strongly opposed by the major film production and distribution companies, is article 18, which sets “linguistic quotas”. The controversial provision requires dubbing or subtitles in Catalan for half of the copies in analogue format of the films distributed in the region, except for European films, which have to be translated only if over 16 copies are distributed.Films in the digital format must all be dubbed or subtitled in Catalan. The translation requirement involves not only distribution companies, but also theatres and companies in charge of screening films, which must guarantee 50% of the copies of films in Catalan, as a function of a series of criteria (population, hours, box offices), which will be calculated annually. The law also establishes a planned network theatres, both public and private, to complement the offer, which will mainly provide films produced in Catalonia, in EU member-states or non-EU films of particular cultural or artistic interest. The latter, if not of Spanish or Catalan origin, must be screened in the original language with Catalan subtitles. (ANSAmed).

2010-06-30 17:57

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spanish Court Sentences 14 Members of Neo-Nazi Group

MADRID — A Spanish court on Monday ordered the dissolution of the neo-Nazi group Blood & Honor in a verdict that sentenced to prison terms 14 of the 18 members of the group who were on trial for illicit association and weapons possession

According to the sentences handed down on Monday, the main accused — Roberto L. U. and Francisco Jose L. P., each sentenced to between three and four years, were the founders of Blood & Honor Spain, and held leadership posts within the group.

In the homes of both, examples of the statutes of the association and other documents were found, along with magazines linked to the neo-Nazi ideology, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, as well as items praising Adolf Hitler and Rudolf Hess.

Among the rest of the accused, one received a prison term of two years and 11 were sentenced to a year in prison each, all of them for illicit association. The court absolved four of the accused for lack of evidence.

In addition, the court ordered that Blood & Honor be dissolved in accord with the Penal Code, which deems to be illegal groups that promote discrimination, hate or violence against people or associations on the basis of their ideology, religion, race, nationality, sex or sexual orientation.

           — Hat tip: Reinhard[Return to headlines]

UK: British Foreign Office Bows to Israeli Pressure, Takes Down Ambassador’s Personal Opinion

After the cases of CNN anchorwoman Octavia Nasr and veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas had made headlines, it was now the turn of Frances Guy, Great Britain’s ambassador to Lebanon, to loose her right to voicing out a personal opinion. While Nasr was sacked for having expressed her admiration for the late Grand Ayatollah Fadlullah on her personal blog and Thomas for having called on Jews in the world to stop colonizing Palestine, the British ambassador in Beirut aroused anger in Tel Aviv for having commemorated the renowned Shiite cleric as a decent man. In an obituary she also wrote on her personal blog, Frances Guy described the sympathy she felt in her encounters with the Grand Ayatollah: “When you visited him you could be sure of a real debate, a respectful argument and you knew you would leave his presence feeling a better person. That for me is the real effect of a true man of religion; leaving an impact on everyone he meets, no matter what their faith…..Sheikh Fadlullah passed away yesterday.. Lebanon is a lesser place the day after but his absence will be felt well beyond Lebanon’s shores.”

Putting into words what many, far beyond the Shiite community of Lebanon felt at the news of Fadlullah’s passing away, the British Ambassador wrote: “The world needs more men like him willing to reach out across faiths, acknowledging the reality of the modern world and daring to confront old constraints. May he rest in peace!” The Israeli government at once voiced out its outrage over the British ambassador’s personal sympathy for a man Tel Aviv wants to be slammed as “an inspiration to hostage takers, suicide bombers and warmongers of Hizbollah”. Today the British Foreign Office backed away from the principle of free personal opinion it had tried to defend yesterday, and declared it had taken down the blog “after mature considerations.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: British Ambassador as Whore Pleading With Her Pimp

Comment by mettaculture at Harry’s Place, 8 July 2010, 10:54pm:

“Blow the image up it is quite a bright semiotic delight.

He is ticking off items on his pudgy pale as a corpse-be-ringed fingers, all pompous, pious, pedagogue with Cheshire cat smirk.

She is a skeletal patrician (of the one can never be to slim variety) doing her eager, culturally-sensitive supplicant act, hunched forward with rictus smile and utterly unsmiling eyes.

All very Madeleine Bunting in her cool pale grey tailored linen and understated silver and semi-precious stone dangly earings and necklace, with her Phoenician blue headscarf.

The trouble with her semiotics though is that her dress code only signals to its intended effect in ‘Harvey Nick’s’ among Ladies who lunch.

Within the culture she so manifestly, woefully, fails to grasp, her desperately affected appearance, gives her the air of a malnourished, drug-addicted whore pleading with her pimp.”

[JP note: Some punctuation added. The most entertaining as well as most perceptive comment I have read on this particular case. Mdelaine Bunting is a Guardian columnist notorious for publishing a fawning interview with Qaradawi in 2005 see here Harvey Nichols is a department store in Knightsbridge, London, frequented by fashionably-dressed women. Even if there is a hint of misogyny in mettaculture’s analysis this is outweighed by the insight it provides into this touching scene depicting cordial relations between a British ambassador and a theologian of the suicide bomb.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Problem With Diplomatic Blogging

The problem with diplomatic blogging is that you risk being anodyne or controversial. Clearly in the last few days I have been the latter. This was not my intent. My comments on the late Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah have now been removed because they were leading to confusion about British policy. I would like to be clear.. I have no truck with terrorism wherever it is committed in whoever’s name. The British Government has been clear that it condemns terrorist activity carried out by Hizballah. I share that view. I believe that it should be possible for Hizballah to reject violence and play a constructive, democratic and peaceful role in Lebanese politics, in line with UN Security Council Resolutions, including UNSCR 1701. This is something I discussed often with Sheikh Fadlallah when we met.

The blog was my personal attempt to offer some reflections of a figure who while controversial was also highly influential in Lebanon’s history and who offered spiritual guidance to many Muslims in need. I recognise that some of my words have upset people. This was certainly not my intention. I have spent most of my career in the Arab world working to combat terrorism, and the extremism and prejudice which can fuel it. I am sorry that an attempt to acknowledge the spiritual significance to many of Sheikh Fadlallah and the views that he held in the latter part of his life has served only to further entrench divisions in this complex part of the world. I regret any offence caused.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: William Hague Must Sack British Ambassador Over Hizbollah Tribute

The Foreign Secretary should take swift action over British Ambassador to Lebanon Frances Guy’s disgraceful eulogy for Hizbollah terrorist mastermind Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah. Fadlallah was no saint, as some of his supporters have claimed. As Con Coughlin noted in his excellent post earlier this week:

“Don’t be fooled by all the tributes that are pouring out following the death in Beirut at the weekend of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the so-called spiritual leader of the radical Shi’ite Muslim militia Hizbollah. The U.S. State Department’s classification of Fadlallah as a terrorist was spot on, and when you look back at his track record you can see he was right up there with other infamous terror masterminds, such as Abu Nidal and Carlos the Jackal.”

The Ambassador’s post on the official Foreign Office blog lauding Fadlallah, a prominent supporter of suicide bombing, was removed following disquiet in Whitehall, but Melanie Phillips has recorded it here. This is what the Ambassador actually wrote in her tribute, “The Passing of a Decent Man”:

“One of the privileges of being a diplomat is the people you meet; great and small, passionate and furious. People in Lebanon like to ask me which politician I admire most. It is an unfair question, obviously, and many are seeking to make a political response of their own. I usually avoid answering by referring to those I enjoy meeting the most and those that impress me the most. Until yesterday my preferred answer was to refer to Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, head of the Shia clergy in Lebanon and much admired leader of many Shia muslims throughout the world. When you visited him you could be sure of a real debate, a respectful argument and you knew you would leave his presence feeling a better person. That for me is the real effect of a true man of religion; leaving an impact on everyone he meets, no matter what their faith. Sheikh Fadlallah passed away yesterday. Lebanon is a lesser place the day after but his absence will be felt well beyond Lebanon’s shores. I remember well when I was nominated ambassador to Beirut, a muslim acquaintance sought me out to tell me how lucky I was because I would get a chance to meet Sheikh Fadlallah. Truly he was right. If I was sad to hear the news I know other peoples’ lives will be truly blighted. The world needs more men like him willing to reach out across faiths, acknowledging the reality of the modern world and daring to confront old constraints. May he rest in peace.”

You can also read her less than convincing, half-hearted retraction here.

It is important that William Hague sends a clear message that the new British government will not appease terrorism in any way or form, not least in the midst of a global war against Islamist terrorism. Frances Guy’s remarks praising a key Hizbollah leader are a stain on the reputation of the Foreign Office, and her views are incompatible with that of the British government and the British national interest. It is impossible to see how she can continue to conduct her duties after making fawning remarks about a brutal terrorist with blood on his hands, including that of 299 American and French servicemen murdered in the Beirut barracks bombing in October 1983. The Foreign Secretary must show clear leadership on the matter by removing Ambassador Guy from her post, and by condemning her remarks unequivocally.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Wine: Household Consumption Rises in Spain

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JULY 7 — According to data supplied by the Environment, Agriculture and Sea Ministry, wine consumption within the home is on the rise. In the first four months of the year, consumption rose by 1.5 in volume to 141.5 million litres and by 2.3% in value (326.6 million euros). The average price rose in the same period by 0.9% to 2.31 euros per litre. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Croatian Ambassador in Molise Celebrates Ties With Italy

(ANSAmed) — CAMPOBASSO, JULY 7 — “Bilateral relations between Italy and Croatia have never been this good”, said Croatia’s ambassador to Italy, Tomislav Vidoseciv. The ambassador made his remark during the commemoration in Termoli (Campobasso) of the arrival on the coast of Molise, around 500 years ago, of a group of Croatian refugees. These refugees were on the run after the invasion of their territory by the Turks. The diplomat added that “we have discussed a possible twinning of Ploce and Termoli, two port cities that face each other. We are certain that there is a great prospect for the ties between our two countries”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy-Serbia: Agreement for Ibar River Power Stations

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, JULY 5 — The Italian group Seci Energia, from the Maccaferri group, and Elektroprivreda Srbije (ES), the biggest electricity company in Serbia, have signed an agreement in Belgrade today for the creation of a joint venture aimed at building ten hydroelectric power stations on the Ibar river, in the central southern Serbia. The agreement, the first step in the implementation of the strategic agreement on energy between Italy and Serbia, was signed on the Italian side by Gaetano Maccaferri and Luciano Scipione, the head of Seci Energia, and on the Serbian side by Dragomir Markovic, the general director of EPS. Serbia’s Energy Minister, Petar Skundric, and Italy’s ambassador to Belgrade, Armando Varricchio, also attended. The new mixed company, of which 51% of annuity will belong to Seci Energia and 49% to EPS, will build ten hydroelectric power stations on the Ibar with a total capacity of 103 megawatts and an annual production of 450 gikawatts per hour. The total value of the investment is 285 million euros. It was explained that the energy produced by the nine power stations will initially be channeled towards Montenegro, from where it will be directed to Italy. In the future, the building is planned of another three power stations along the river Drina with a capacity of 150 megawatts each, and with an annual production of 1,500 gikawatts per hour, with a further investment of 650 million euros. The energy agreement signed between Italy and Serbia in the last few months by the former Minister for Economic Development, Claudio Scajola, means that a total production of around a thousand megawatt will be produced. At the moment, 103 will be produced on the Ibar, a little over 400 on the Drina, with the rest coming from other hydroelectric micro-power stations, all of them under 10 megawatts, which will spring up in various parts of Serbia. The signatories of the agreement in Belgrade and the Serbian Energy Minister underlined the importance of the projects, which mark a concrete beginning of collaboration between Italy and Serbia in the energy sector, a union decided during the inter-governmental summit held last November in Rome. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Summit of 6 EU Countries on Surveillance Plan

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 5 — Monitoring and maritime surveillance over 2,500,000 square kilometres of the Mediterranean basin. This is the aim of the European project “BlueMassMed” (Blue Maritime Surveillance System Med), which uses the most up-to-date satellite technology. The project, which is being overseen by Admiral Jean Marie Van Huffel from the French Secretariat General of the Maritime Affairs, was discussed this morning in Rome during the conference “Maritime Surveillance in the Mediterranean Sea — needs, possibilities and hopes for users”, organised by the Logistics Centre of the Financial Police at Villa Spada. The Mediterranean — which laps at the shores of 23 European, African and Asian countries — often sees the passage of illegal trafficking of drugs, arms, contraband cigarettes and human beings. To provide a truly capillary surveillance action, in a maritime context this vast, is very complex. For this reason, the governments of six EU member states that look onto the Mediterranean (Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Malta) have decided to take part in the project that involves both civilians (experts, government agencies and officials) and military personnel (armed forces and police). And it is not just about security but also about environmental prevention. By using satellite technology that is capable of discovering, for example, traces of polluting substances released by ships in transit, and providing for the adoption of necessary measures such as the delimitation and the decontamination of the polluted areas and the identification of those responsible, BlueMassMed in fact aims to respond also to the environmental catastrophes such as the one that has recently hit the Gulf of Mexico. BlueMassMed will also have available the satellite system for the observation of the so-called ‘Cosmo-Skymed’ area. Developed by the Italian Space Agency and the Defence Ministry, the system is made up of 4 satellites equipped with X-band radars, which allows the earth to be observed by day and by night, in any weather conditions. The time necessary for the configuration of the constellation of satellites, say experts, is very rapid: it will be possible to obtains images of the area desired in 72 hours in routine conditions and in as little as 18 hours in emergency conditions. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Encyclopedia on Islamic Architecture, Arts

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JULY 8 — The Islamic Universities League issued an encyclopedia on Islamic arts and architecture with an aim to shed light on Muslims’ innovations and getting Islamic arts and architecture to be included as part of Islamic universities curricula, the league’s secretary general said Thursday. The encyclopedia consists of six chapters focusing on the link between arts and architecture and Islamic principles; Islamic arts and architectural studies at Arab universities as well as characteristics of Islamic architecture and arts and their impact on our daily life and on the West, Ga’far Abdel-Salam said. The league’s general secretariat will publish such unique work at the league’s Islamic universities and other institutions concerned to magnify the benefit of the encyclopedia which contains more than 70 researches and studies of key Arab, Islamic and European researchers, he said. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Indian Investments in Port Said Biggest in Mideast

(ANSAmed) — PORT SAID, JULY 6 — India’s investments in the Suez Canal city of Port Said are the biggest by the country in the Middle East, Indian Ambassador in Cairo R. Swaminathan said. The Indian investments in the city hit 2 billion dollars run by 45 Indian companies, the diplomat said during a meeting with Port Said Governor Mostapha Abdel-Latif. The volume of trade exchange between Egypt and India hits 3 billion dollars, he noted. TCI Sanmar Chemicals LLC, the biggest Indian project in the city, created 600 job opportunities, the diplomat noted. The meeting between Port Said governor and the Indian diplomat tackled preparations for the Indian cultural week, to be hosted by the city in September. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

High Consumption of Tomatoes in Tunisia

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 8 — Every Tunisian eats an average of 55 kilos of tomatoes per year according to a working meeting organized by the food and agriculture industry group Korba on the plan for tariffs linked to the quality of the tomatoes to undergo processing. Tunisia is one of the top ten countries in the world for the tomato industry, with an annual production ranging between 700,000 and 800,000 tonnes of tomato concentrate. For the current year, a million tonnes are expected to be produced. In Tunisia, the processing system has 28 units which run at 65% of capacity. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Lebanon: Resistance Land

Hezbollah’s new tourist park, meant to indoctrinate visitors with the ideals of the Islamic Resistance, may be the latest sign that another war is on the horizon.

On a hilltop overlooking Israel’s former occupation zone in south Lebanon, Hezbollah has built what the international press has dubbed the Shiite militia’s “Disneyland.” Mleeta, Hezbollah’s new “Tourist Landmark of the Resistance,” is designed to celebrate the party’s long war against Israel. As it pulls in the masses, Mleeta also provides another sign that Israeli deterrence in Lebanon is disintegrating.

A former Hezbollah command center, Mleeta is located 27 miles (44 km) southeast of Beirut. Built at a reported cost of $4 million, Mleeta attracted over 130,000 visitors in the first ten days following its opening on May 25 — the 10th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Forgotten Minority

by Jonathan Spyer

On March 21, 2010, the Syrian security forces opened fire with live ammunition on a crowd of 5,000 in the northern Syrian town of al-Raqqah. The crowd had gathered to celebrate the Kurdish festival of Nowruz. Three people, including a 15-year-old girl, were killed. Over 50 were injured. Dozens of injured civilians were held incommunicado by the authorities following the events. Some remain incarcerated. This incident was just one example of the repression taking place of the largest national minority in Syria — namely, the Syrian Kurdish population.

Kurds constitute 9 percent-10% of the population of Syria — that is, around 1.75 million in a total population of 22 million. Since the rise of militant Arab nationalism to power in Damascus, they have faced an ongoing campaign for their dissolution as a community.

All this is taking place far from the spotlight of world attention. The current US Administration pursues a general policy of considered silence on the issue of human rights in Middle East countries. The Syrian regime remains the elusive subject of energetic courting by the European Union and by Washington.

As a result, the Kurds of Syria are likely for the foreseeable future to remain the region’s forgotten minority.

The severe repression suffered by the Syrian Kurds has its roots in the early period of Ba’ath rule in Syria. The Arab nationalist Ba’athis felt threatened by the presence of a large non-Arab national majority, and set about trying to remove it using the methods usually associated with them.

In 1962, a census undertaken in the area of highest concentration of Kurdish population in Syria — the al- Hasaka province — resulted in 120,000-150,000 Syrian Kurds being arbitrarily stripped of their citizenship.

They and their descendants remain non-persons today…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Turkish Firms May Export to Africa Via Yemen, Expert

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JULY 5 — Yemen offers a “commercial gate” opportunity to the Turkish businessmen to reach African markets, Sadik Yildiz, founder chairman of Turkish-Yemeni Business Council, told Anatolia news agency today adding that historical ties between Turkey and Yemen were strong. Yildiz said Turkish private sector did not know much about Yemen, “Turkish-Yemeni Business Council was established. Four separate delegations from Yemen visited Turkey in June. Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey will organize a tour of Yemen in July to seek business opportunities.” “Only nine Turkish companies are actually operating in Yemen. There is a very high cooperation and investment potential there. European and U.S. companies are not eager to make investments there because of security reasons. However, Turkish companies are welcomed there. We do not have any security problems,” Yildiz said adding that Turkey and Yemen could cooperate in third countries. “Yemen is a neighbor of Africa. It has a port 10 miles to Djibouti. Turkish companies may export from Yemen to Africa and use Yemen as a base. Organized industry zones were established in Yemen. They expect support from the Turkish party to operate the industry zones,” he said. Yildiz said foreign trade of Turkey and Yemen was around 400 million USD, indicating that Turkish exports was 380 million USD, “we target to achieve 1 billion USD by the end of 2012,” he said. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK Envoy Finesses ‘Terrorist’ Label on Hizbollah’s Armed Wing

The British ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Mary Guy, clarified her government’s recent move to classify the military wing of Hizbullah as a terrorist organization in an interview published in the Lebanese daily As-Safir Friday.

Guy denied implications that the announcement’s timing was suspicious after wide-spread speculation that it was intended to coincide with the prisoner exchange deal between Hizbullah and Israel.

“This decision has been studied for a long time and it became necessary to announce it quickly due to the legislative process of the United Kingdom,” she said. “The Ministry of the Interior presented its request to Parliament on July 2 so that it could be researched before its session on the 22nd of this month.”

Guy also emphasized that the ban did not apply to Hizbullah’s political wing, and the British government was open to direct communication with the party as long as “that communication is encouraging its members to abandon violence and play a constructive role in Lebanese politics.”

“We respect Hizbullah’s political, economic, and humanitarian role in Lebanon, and we encourage it to share in the political process like all the other Lebanese factions,” She said.

The decision was motivated, Guy said, by evidence Hizbullah is training and supporting insurgent groups in Iraq, especially in the use of roadside explosives that have killed numerous Iraqi civilians as well as members of the allied forces in Iraq.

“There was no pressure on the British government [from Israel and the United States],” she said. “The government has been studying this issue carefully for some time and the decision is based on our evaluation of Hizbullah’s role in terrorist acts in the region including violent acts targeting the allied forces in Iraq.”

Guy denied that the decision was intended to punish Hizbullah for its role in the conflict in early May that led to opposition forces briefly taking over most of western Beirut, saying: “The United Kingdom condemns Hizbullah for the violence of the events of last May, but we make this decision to ban the military wing of Hizbullah for completely separate reasons that have no connection to those events.”

The UK banned Hizbullah’s “external security organization” in 2001, but stopped short of declaring the entire military wing a terrorist organization. The new classification, if adopted by Parliament, would make working with, raising funds or encourage support for Hizbullah’s military wing illegal.

Hizbullah secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday that Britain’s decision to blacklist the Lebanese resistance group’s military wing as a terrorist organization was an “honor” but questioned the timing of the move.

“Each time there is such a decision by the colonialists, we consider it a medal, an honor which attests that we are on the right path for our people,” Nasrallah said in a press conference.

“But the timing is suspect because it coincides with a prisoner swap,” he said, referring to an agreement that will involve Israel releasing five Lebanese fighters and the remains of Hizbullah members in exchange for two Israeli soldiers captured in a cross-border raid two years ago — or their bodies.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Siegetower said...

Regarding this article: "While We Debate Climate Change, The Rest of the Planet Prepares for Mass Migration"

It names Bangladesh repeatedly as an example. If the Bangladeshis continue to cut down the mangrove forests at the fringe of their river delta national coastline, and hence expose the rest of the country to the effects of the tropical cyclones which happen EVERY year and have NOT gotten stronger or more frequent, well I'm sorry it is THEIR fault entirely if they suffer from their environment and it is no other nations' responsibility to take their excess population.

The Maldives always wail about their islands sinking. If they continue to harvest the barrier coral reefs for building materials, reefs which protect their islands from the natural tides and coastal erosion we can all imagine, then it is entirely THEIR fault if their islands wash away through a new hydrography. It is no other nations' responsibility to take their excess population.

The article speaks about New York possibly being inundated. I'm sure the authors and lefties the world over will relish the 9 million educated New Yorkers migrating to somewhere more elevated and displace the existing population. Perhaps of somewhere which is already taking in new migrants...perhaps Tibet?

Zenster said...

Liked that one, did 'ja, Siegetower? Quite the little gem of a hysterical pesudo-science screech, eh?