Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100717

Financial Crisis
»Fed’s Volte Face Sends the Dollar Tumbling
»Greece: Piraeus Offer for Atebank and Postabank
»Italy: In 2008 Between 255 and 275 Bln Underground
»Italy: Istat: More Than 2 Mln Poor Families in 2009
»Black Tea Party Spokesperson Rebukes Biased NAACP Resolution
»Book Review: Is Obama Administration Full of Criminals?
»Ex-Prosecutor: Obama’s Kenyan Activities May be ‘Criminal’
»Scott Brown: Is He Stupid or Corrupt?
»The Russian Agents, Obama, And the Cover-Up
»US Freezes Terror Imam’s Assets
»Virgin Galactic’s Private Spaceship Makes First Crewed Flight
Europe and the EU
»France: Mosque in Construction Vandalised Near Caen
»France: Riots in Grenoble After Police Shooting
»French Town Hit by Riots After Man Killed by Police
»Grenoble Rioters Fire Shots at Police and Burn Cars
»Science: First Electronic Molecule is Italian
»UK: Did Police Kill Raoul Moat? Wounds Inconsistent With Gun, Say Family… And Officers Seemed ‘Excited’ To Get New Tasers
»UK: Moat’s Popularity Reflects Society’s Warped Values
»UK: Tory MP Refuses to Meet Muslim Women Wearing Burkas
Mediterranean Union
»Confitarma Chair, Italy Out Without Port Development
»Sace: 3.9 Billion in Guarantees Med
North Africa
»ENI: Libya Concessions Renewed for 35 Years
»Tunisia: Cosmetics; Prickly Pear Oil Production Grows
Middle East
»Debating Obama Policy Doesn’t Require Screaming But Logic and Honest Discussion
»Egypt Versus Gaza
»Italy-Syria: Trade to 420.5 Mln Euros, +80.7% in March
»Lebanon: Shoe Imports Total 52.4 Mln in First 5 Months
»Slow Food Istanbul Fights to Rescue Bluefish
»Turkey: Red Meat Consumption Drops After Rise in Prices
»Turkish Aselsan Among World’s 100 Giant Corporations
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Marine Gets Blown Up, Walks Away Unfazed
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Obama-Supported Kenyan Constitution Forces Sharia Law
»Britain Pays Calais Migrants £3,500 to Go Home — Before They Even Get Here
»Immigration Solution: ‘Enforce the Law’
»UK: Somali Refugee Given £2.1million Taxpayer-Funded House Owed £7,000 in Rent on Previous Home
»Plants Cannot ‘Think and Remember, ‘ But There’s Nothing Stupid About Them: They’re Shockingly Sophisticated
»Sperm in All Animals Originated 600 Million Years Ago

Financial Crisis

Fed’s Volte Face Sends the Dollar Tumbling

Rarely before have a few coded words in the minutes of the US Federal Reserve caused such an upheaval in the global currency system, or such a sudden flight from the dollar.

The euro rocketed to a two-month high of $1.29 and sterling jumped two cents to almost $1.54 after the Fed confessed that the US economy may not recover for five or six years. Far from winding down emergency stimulus, the bank may need a fresh blast of bond purchases or quantitative easing.

Usually the dollar serves as a safe haven whenever the world takes fright, and there was plenty of sobering news from China and other quarters on Thursday. Not this time. The US itself has become the problem.

“The worm is turning,” said David Bloom, currency chief at HSBC. “We’re in a world of rotating sovereign crises. The market seems to become obsessed with one idea at a time, then violently swings towards another. People thought the euro would break-up. Now we’re moving into a new phase because we’re hearing alarm bells of a US double dip.”

Mr Bloom said a deep change is under way in investor psychology as funds and central banks respond to the blizzard of shocking US data and again focus on the fragility of an economy where public debt is surging towards 100pc of GDP, not helped by the malaise enveloping the Obama White House. “The Europeans have aired their dirty debt in public and taken some measures to address it, whilst the US has not,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Greece: Piraeus Offer for Atebank and Postabank

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JULY 15 — The private Piraeus Bank today announced that it has made an offer to purchase 77% of Atebank and 34% of the Hellenic Postal Bank (both state-run) for a total value of over 700 million euros.

The stock market has recorded a 2% rise, drawn forward by financial shares. Just before the announcement by the Piraeus chairman, Michalis Sallas, the Athens Stock Exchange had suspended the three shares involved. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: In 2008 Between 255 and 275 Bln Underground

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 13 — The added value produced in Italy’s underground economy ranged between 255 and 275 billion euros in 2008, ISTAT reports. The Italian statistics institute adds that the underground economy makes up between 16.3% and 17.5% of the country’s GDP (in 2000 between 18.2 and 19.1%).

The most substantial part of the grey economy “consists of too low sales declarations, of inflated costs for the production of income, of illegal construction activities and paying rent without the existence of a contract. In 2008, ISTAT states, the total of non-declared added value of the above-mentioned illegal activities reached 9.8% of GDP (10.6% in 2000)”. Around 6.5% of GDP covered by the underground economy can be traced down to the use of black labour.

Tax evasion is most widespread in agriculture (32.8%) and in the service sector (20.9%), but is substantial in industry as well (12.4%).

Regarding black labour, ISTAT reveals the 2.966 million people are not working legally in Italy, 12.2% of the total workforce, according to 2009 data.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Istat: More Than 2 Mln Poor Families in 2009

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 15 — 2 million 657 thousand families lived in relative poverty in Italy last year, 10.8% of Italian households. The total number of poor individuals was 7 million 810 thousand, 13.1% of the entire population.

Also in 2009, 1,162 thousand households (4.7% of resident households) turned out to live in absolute poverty, a total of 3 million 74 thousand individuals (5.2% of the entire population).

Both relative and absolute poverty — the 2009 figures are listed in a report issued by Italian statistics office ISTAT — were essentially the same as in 2008.

The relative poverty threshold for a family of two members is equal to the average monthly expenses per person, which in 2009 turned out to be 983.01 euros (-1.7% compared with the 2008 threshold). The calculation of absolute poverty is based on a poverty threshold that corresponds with the minimum monthly expenses necessary to buy goods and services which, in an Italian context and for a certain household, are considered to be essential to reach the lowest acceptable living standard. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Black Tea Party Spokesperson Rebukes Biased NAACP Resolution

The NAACP Resolution proclaiming the Tea Party Movement to be racist is motivated by hate and fear. Though well disguised in intellectual rhetoric, underneath festers hate and fear. Along with their underlying resentment of whites and non forgiveness of America’s sins of the past, the NAACP has become zealots for the religion of Progressivism which preaches victimhood-ism and entitlement. The NAACP are the true racists whose secret motto is “Keep Hate & Victimhood-ism Alive.”

The NAACP fears the Tea Parties because they are effective; getting conservatives elected and giving We The People a voice to challenge the “deaf to the will of the American people” Obama administration.

Obama and the NAACP are kindred spirits in their disdain for America and the tea parties. Speaking at an NAACP event, President Obama fed the mostly black audience red meat sure to please. Obama said racism is still very much alive and a problem for blacks in America. The audience erupted in cheers and applause. In essence the NAACP audience was saying, “Hallelujah, we’re still victims in America!”


The NAACP perceives race relations in America and functions as if stuck in a 1950’s time warp. Ignoring the reality that the leader of the free world is a black man, the NAACP mantra is America sucks and we still have a long way to go.

Slandering the Tea Party patriots as racist is a disgusting, divisive and evil lie from the pit of hell. I am a black tea party patriot entertainer/spokesperson who has attended over 200 tea parties across America with Tea Party Express.

For the ga-zillionth time, the tea party attendees are not racist. They are decent hard working Americans motivated by love for their country. These patriots oppose Obama’s policies, not his skin color.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Book Review: Is Obama Administration Full of Criminals?

Michelle Malkin exposes White House’s ‘tax cheats, crooks and cronies’

It’s the No. 1 New York Times best-seller that exposes the astonishingly crooked records of President Barack Obama’s staffers, revealing corrupt dealings, questionable pasts, and abuses of power throughout his administration, …

In her latest investigative tour de force, bestselling author Michelle Malkin delivers a powerful, damning and comprehensive indictment of the culture of corruption that surrounds Team Obama’s brazen tax evaders, Wall Street cronies, petty crooks, slumlords and business-as-usual influence peddlers. In “Culture of Corruption,” Malkin reveals:

  • Why nepotism beneficiaries first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are Team Obama’s biggest liberal hypocrites — bashing the corporate world and influence-peddling industries from which they and their relatives have benefited mightily;
  • What secrets the ethics-deficient members of Obama’s cabinet — including Hillary Clinton — are trying to hide;
  • Why the Obama White House has more power-hungry, unaccountable “czars” than any other administration;

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Ex-Prosecutor: Obama’s Kenyan Activities May be ‘Criminal’

McCarthy says Obama’s foreign dealings as senator possibly illegal

In a new best-selling book connecting Islam and Obama-style socialism, a former top terrorism prosecutor chides the national media for failing to investigate Barack Obama’s “borderline criminal” activities in Kenya as a U.S. senator.

Andrew C. McCarthy, the former U.S. attorney who investigated the American embassy bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, charges that Obama interfered in Kenya’s internal politics possibly in violation of the Logan Act.

The centuries-old law bars Americans who are “without authority of the United States” from conducting relations “with any foreign government … in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.”

In “The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America,” McCarthy says Obama undermined U.S. relations with a strong anti-terrorism ally in an African region where al-Qaida operates. In 2006, he details in the book how Obama campaigned for a pro-communist candidate running against Nairobi’s pro-American government — “in outrageous contravention of U.S. policy and, probably, federal law.”


Obama’s interference “was more than reckless,” McCarthy writes. “It was borderline criminal (and that’s being generous).”

Earlier, Odinga had visited Obama in the U.S. — in 2004, 2005 and 2006 — and Obama had sent an adviser, Mark Lippert, to Kenya in early 2006 to plan a trip by the senator timed to coincide with Odinga’s campaign.

McCarthy notes that Obama and Odinga, who named one of his children after Fidel Castro, are “leftist soulmates” whose families go way back. Their fathers belonged to the same Luo tribe — and both Barack Hussein Obama Sr. and the elder Oginga Odinga worked inside the Kenyan government as communist agitators.

There is also an Islamist connection.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Scott Brown: Is He Stupid or Corrupt?

In one of the greatest upsets in modern political history, the people of Massachusetts, sick and tired of the free spending, economy destroying ways of Obama and Democrats in Washington, came together to elect Republican Scott Brown to take over Ed Kennedy’s old Senate seat with the intention of ushering in a new age of federal fiscal responsibility.

But what a sorry joke that has turned out to be… instead of acting as a brake to the Obama agenda that the people had thought they voted for, Brown has become a bigger enabler to the President’s anti-business policies than the guy who shows up to an AA meeting with a bottle of gin.

The ink wasn’t even dry on the election certificate before the self-described “fiscally conservative” candidate turned his back on the Massachusetts electorate and joined with Democrats to pass Obama’s “jobs” bill.

He has tried to maintain his so-called conservative credentials by questioning the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and claiming he doesn’t support comprehensive energy reform that contains carbon emission limits, but who really knows what this man will do when push comes to shove? It seems to me that whenever a Democrat bill makes it to the Senate floor, Brown can’t wait to hit the “Aye” button.

Brown’s latest act of conservative betrayal was his clinching vote for the monstrous 2,500 page financial reform bill that contains liberal nonsense like minority and gender hiring quotas for financial firms, union representation on corporate boards, and not one single mention of the actual cause of the economic meltdown, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Russian Agents, Obama, And the Cover-Up

Our media do not seem to be interested in the curious matter of why the Russian agents accused of trying to acquire sensitive nuclear information from the U.S. Government were so quickly released. Why were they were sent back to Moscow less than two weeks after they were arrested?

It is certainly the case that a continuing spy scandal threatened to undermine U.S.-Russia business “opportunities” and “cooperation.” It is also true that there is evidence that the Russian agents targeted the Obama Administration and former Clinton Administration officials.

Just before the scandal broke, a $4 billion deal had been announced between Boeing and a Russian firm. During the visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the U.S., Cisco Systems had announced it was going to spend $1 billion in Russia, in part to develop a Moscow version of Silicon Valley. The United States Export-Import Bank had also announced a new deal to underwrite, with U.S. taxpayer dollars, U.S. business exports to Russia.

Plus, Obama had submitted a U.S.-Russian nuclear cooperation agreement, backed by powerful business interests, to the U.S. Congress.

All of this was clearly in jeopardy if the Russian spy scandal led to additional revelations of Russian spying on the American government and businesses. So the scandal had to go away—and quickly.

The exchange was hammered out so quickly and was so advantageous to the Kremlin, however, that it should have become apparent to some journalist somewhere that there was much more to the story. But the issue was just as quickly dropped by the media, liberal and conservative alike.

Fortunately, some people are paying critical attention to what has transpired.


Even more significant, just four days before the Russian spy scandal broke, the U.S-Russia Business Summit was held, coinciding with the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in Washington, D.C. The June 24 event, which featured the chief executive officers of U.S. and Russian companies and business associations, included the announcement that Boeing and Russian Technologies were moving forward with a $4 billion deal on 50 Boeing 737s.

Other announced deals included:

* U.S. engine manufacturer Cummins and Russian truck-builder Kamaz are going to jointly produce a lower-emission engine in Russia.

* The United States Export-Import Bank and Russia’s VneshEconomBank signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation to “finance U.S. sales of medical equipment, energy efficiency equipment and other goods and services to support Russia’s economic and technological growth, and U.S. exports and jobs.”

On June 13, as part of his U.S. tour, Medvedev visited the headquarters of Cisco Systems in San Jose, California. Cisco CEO John Chambers used the occasion to announce that it would commit $1 billion to “the Russian technology innovation agenda over the coming decade,“ including a high-tech innovation center outside of Moscow, a Russian version of Silicon Valley.

But there’s more…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US Freezes Terror Imam’s Assets

The US government on Friday approved financial sanctions against Yemeni-American Imam Anwar al-Awlaqi who has been identified as a leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The Treasury Department has now frozen Awlaqi’s financial assets.

Awlaqi is wanted by US authorities for his role in a plot to blow up a A Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines plan on Christmas Day.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Virgin Galactic’s Private Spaceship Makes First Crewed Flight

A private suborbital spaceship built for the space tourism firm Virgin Galactic made its first flight with a crew onboard Thursday as it soared over California’s Mojave Desert beneath its enormous mothership.

The commercial spaceliner — called VSS Enterprise, one of the company’s fleet of SpaceShipTwo spacecraft — did not try to reach space in the test flight. Instead, it stayed firmly attached to its WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve mothership.

The two crewmembers riding onboard VSS Enterprise evaluated all of the spacecraft’s systems and functions during the 6-hour, 12-minute flight, Virgin Galactic officials said in a statement. In addition, automated sensors and ground crews conducted thorough vehicle systems tests. [Photos from the SpaceShipTwo test flight.]

“Objectives achieved,” Virgin Galactic officials said in a statement on the company’s website. “Congratulations to the whole team!”

Three other crewmembers flew aboard the Eve mothership, which is designed to carry SpaceShipTwo to an altitude above 50,000 feet (15,240 meters) before the spacecraft drops and fires its hybrid rocket motor to launch into suborbital space.

Virgin Galactic was founded by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson. The SpaceShipTwo spacecraft and their WhiteKnightTwo motherships are built for Virgin Galactic by Mojave, Calif.-based Scaled Composites, which was founded by veteran aerospace designer Burt Rutan.

SpaceShipTwo is built to carry eight people (six passengers and two pilots) on suborbital flights that would reach outer space for a few minutes, though would not go high enough to enter Earth orbit.

The flights will provide a weightless experience and a view of the blackness of space and glowing Earth below. Tickets cost $200,000 per person.

Rutan and Scaled Composites also built SpaceShipTwo’s predecessor, the smaller suborbital craft SpaceShipOne financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, which won the $10 million Ansari X Prize for reusable, manned suborbital spacecraft in 2004.

Thursday’s captive flight test was the 33rd voyage of the mothership VMS Eve, one of company’s the WhiteKnightTwo craft. It was the third captive-carry flight for VSS Enterprise. The first of these joint flights occurred earlier this year in March.

The mothership crew consisted of Mark Stucky, Peter Kalogiannis and Brian Maisler, while Peter Siebold and Michael Alsbury rode aboard VSS Enterprise.

The VSS Enterprise is the first in a planned fleet of suborbital SpaceShipTwo spacecraft for Virgin Galactic. While the first test flights are being flown from Mojave, Calif., Virgin Galactic is building a terminal for space tourism flights at Spaceport America in New Mexico as well.

The VSS Enterprise named after the fictional starship of the same name from the science fiction television franchise “Star Trek.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

France: Mosque in Construction Vandalised Near Caen

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JULY 15 — Racist and Islamophobic graffiti has been found on the outer walls of a mosque being built in Herouville-Saint-Clair, a small town on the outskirts of the French city of Caen.

The mosque was covered in swastikas and Celtic crosses and featured abusive graffiti such as “Islam out of Europe” and “No Islam, no burqas”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: Riots in Grenoble After Police Shooting

Rioters in France have torched cars and opened fire on police offers during an overnight confrontation in the southeastern French city of Grenoble.

The incident begun in the early hours of Saturday morning when rampaging youths stoned a tramway and attacked it with baseball bats and iron bars.

The gangs then set cars on fire and opened fire against officers. The officers returned fire.

Regional security official Brigitte Julien says no one was injured in the incident but one youth, in his twenties, was detained.

The riots came after the death of a Grenoble resident during a robbery in a nearby town.

Karim Boudouda, 27, was one of two men believed to have held up a casino, escaping with more than 20,000 euros (£17,000).

He was killed in a shoot-out with police following the robbery. Violence flared after his memorial service.

Mr Boudouda, 27, had three previous convictions for armed robbery. The other suspect escaped and is still on the run.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux was planning to travel to the town to monitor events.

The riot in Grenoble recalled civil unrest that exploded across France in late 2005 after two teenagers from a rough Parisian suburb died as they were fleeing police.

The deaths touched off almost three weeks of riots across the country, often in the rough suburbs that ring France’s major cities.

These high-rise neighbourhoods, built in the 1950s and 1960s to house a growing population of industrial workers and immigrants, have become near-ghettos where unemployment is high, public services are poor, and resentment boils.

During the 2005 riots, some 300 buildings and 10,000 cars were burned, while 130 police and rioters were hurt.

Since then, unrest has flared often after residents have run ins with the police.

Police and government officials have a lingering fear that the poor suburbs could explode again because the underlying causes — high unemployment, few opportunities, drug trafficking and a sense of exclusion from society — have changed little.

Police unions have raised concerns about a rise in violent crime spurred by the recession and a resurgence of drug trafficking in some areas.

           — Hat tip: bewick[Return to headlines]

French Town Hit by Riots After Man Killed by Police

The southeastern French town of Grenoble was hit by riots on early Saturday with shots fired and cars set alight after a man accused of robbing a casino was killed by police. Police spokeswoman Brigitte Jullien said, shots had been fired at police who returned fire four times. A youth was arrested at the scene of the riots, the working class district of La Villeneuve.

Thirty cars and several businesses were torched, while angry youths armed with baseball bats and iron bars attacked a tram and forced the passengers to get out.

The incidents started after a Muslim service for 27-year-old Karim Boudouda, who died 24 hours earlier in a shootout with police after the Uriage-les-Bains casino near Grenoble was held up.

           — Hat tip: Reinhard[Return to headlines]

Grenoble Rioters Fire Shots at Police and Burn Cars

Dozens of cars were set alight in Grenoble during the trouble Rioters in the south-eastern French city of Grenoble have fired shots and burned cars after police shot dead a man accused of robbing a local casino.

The violence flared early on Saturday morning after a memorial service for the man, who was killed 24 hours earlier in a shootout with police.

He was one of two men believed to have held up a casino, escaping with more than 20,000 euros (£17,000; $26,000).

The rioters also attacked a tram with baseball bats and iron bars.

The French interior minister Brice Hortefeux is to visit Grenoble on Saturday afternoon, his office said.

Police said they pursued two men suspected of holding up the casino at Uriage-les-Bains early on Friday morning.

The two men fired shots at them, police said, wounding an officer. Police returned fire, killing one of the men, Karim Boudouda.

Mr Boudouda, 27, had three previous convictions for armed robbery.

The other suspect escaped and is still on the run.

           — Hat tip: Reinhard[Return to headlines]

Science: First Electronic Molecule is Italian

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 13 — The first electronic molecule, made up of a pair of electrons closed in a nanocrystal semiconductor with the help of a laser, bears an Italian stamp. The phenomenon had been predicted theoretically for some time, but had never been directly measured until now.

Researchers succeeded in trapping two electrons in the space of very few nanometers within a nanocrystal semiconductor. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Did Police Kill Raoul Moat? Wounds Inconsistent With Gun, Say Family… And Officers Seemed ‘Excited’ To Get New Tasers

Raoul Moat’s family has accused the police of firing the shot that killed him.

Police say he shot himself with a shotgun, but the family say his injuries were ‘inconsistent’ with this type of wound and have forced a second post-mortem.

They believe he was shot at point-blank-range by officers armed with the controversial XRep Taser.

The Taser, which has not yet been ‘type approved’ by the Home Office, fires a dart delivering a shock lasting 20 seconds, four times longer than conventional models.

Hours before the showdown on Friday last week, police were seen looking ‘excited’ to receive a box of the stun devices.

Jason Potts, a worker on an industrial estate where police officers set up their Moat operation base told Sky News: ‘They came in a plain cardboard box, a brown cardboard box, and in that there was three other boxes.’

Asked what the officers said when they saw the delivery, he replied:’ They said: “We’ve been waiting for these for a while, we’re getting them now, what a coincidence.”

‘They all seemed excited for them, you know.’

Mr Potts said police fired training rounds into rubbish bags before returning to the van to sign forms.

‘Eventually the van went away and they were all left with these guns,’ he added.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Moat’s Popularity Reflects Society’s Warped Values

By any sane standards, Raoul Moat was an utterly reprehensible man. His mind twisted by steroid abuse, he repeatedly beat and raped the mother of his children, shot and wounded his girlfriend, murdered her lover, and gunned down a police constable.

If you were looking for candidates to become a national folk hero, a successor to the gallant Robin Hood, Moat would be just about last on the list — or so you might think.

But, to the horror of those of us who think of ourselves as decent, law-abiding people, the reverse has happened.

For the Facebook page ‘RIP Raoul Moat You Legend’, rightly condemned this week by the Prime Minister, was only just the tip of the iceberg.

Browse the internet for a few minutes and you find hundreds of comments praising a ‘misunderstood’ hero, a ‘modern-day Robin Hood’ who dared to stand up to the forces of authority.

Almost unbelievably, it seems that there are thousands of people out there who sympathise not with poor PC David Rathbone, the policeman who is now blinded for life, but with the lunatic who tried to kill him.

It should hardly need saying that to call Raoul Moat a hero does a grotesque disservice not only to the great heroes of Britain’s past, but to the modern-day heroes overlooked by his deluded mourners — from the unsung men and women who spend their time caring for others, to the brave troops risking their lives in Afghanistan.

But the truth is that societies get the heroes they deserve.


And yet behind the Moat story, I would suggest, lies a disturbing lesson about the transformation of our moral imagination since the days of Errol Flynn and Sir Walter Scott.


Many of the people calling this man a ‘legend’ have grown up utterly ignorant of British history.

They hail Moat as a hero because they have never been taught to respect authority, to value order or to respect the unfashionable virtues and quiet decencies that our ancestors took for granted.

Even robbing from the rich to give to the poor no longer makes sense to a generation for whom self is all and society irrelevant, a generation blighted by family breakdown, welfare dependency and a lack of male role models.

Somehow it says it all that their idea of a hero is a self-pitying, misogynist, lone killer — who significantly never knew his father — skulking in the bushes.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Tory MP Refuses to Meet Muslim Women Wearing Burkas

A Conservative MP today declared he would refuse to meet Muslim women wearing full Islamic dress at his constituency surgery unless they lifted their face veil.

Phillip Hollobone made the comments after launching a Private Member’s Bill to ban women in the UK wearing the burka or niqab in public places.

It comes after France banned women wearing the full-face veil, making it an illegal offence.

But Muslim groups have condemned the Kettering MP and accused him of failing in his duty as a member of Parliament.

Mr Hollobone told the Independent: ‘I would ask her to remove her veil. If she said: “No”, I would take the view that she could see my face, I could not see hers, I am not able to satisfy myself she is who she says she is. I would invite her to communicate with me in a different way, probably in the form of a letter.’

He added that the majority of Muslim women wore dress allowing people to see their face and claimed wearing the burka or niqab was not a religious requirement.

‘It is not a necessity,’ he said.

‘I just take what I regard as a common sense view. If you want to engage in normal, daily, interactive dialogue with your fellow human beings, you can only really do this properly by seeing each other’s face.

‘Seventy-five per cent of the usual communication between two human beings is done with personal experience. God gave us faces to be expressive. It is not just the words we utter but whether we are smiling, sad, angry or frustrated. You don’t get any of that if your face is covered.’

His Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill is due to have its second reading on December 3 but, as it lacks the official coalition Government;s backing, is likely to run out of parliamentary time.

Shaista Gohir, executive director of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, said: ‘He is just being pedantic and trying to fan the flames of intolerance. He would be failing in his duty as an MP.

‘If someone has made an effort to come and see him and participate in a democratic society, he should take the opportunity to engage. He might learn from the process.’

In 2006, Jack Straw sparked controversy when he revealed that he asked Muslim women to lift their veils at his surgeries in his Blackburn constituency.

The then Leader of the House of Commons said he was concerned about the ‘implications of separateness’ and the development of ‘parallel communities’.

However, Mr Straw told The Independent he did not agree with Mr Hollobone’s stance.

He said: ‘I was seeking to generate a debate within a framework of freedom. I see constituents wearing a burka on a regular basis. I don’t need to ask them (to lift it) and I see them regardless. About half agree and half refuse.’

Mr Hollobone has previously come under fire for criticising the burka during a Commons debate.

He claimed the garment was the ‘religious equivalent of going around with a paper bag over your head with two holes for the eyes’.

He was investigated by police for alleged racial hatred after the Northamptonshire Race Equality Council complained.

Debates in Parliament are protected by Parliamentary privilege and the police decided there was no case to answer.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Confitarma Chair, Italy Out Without Port Development

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, JULY 13 — Italy has great potential in the maritime transport sector. However, its leadership in the Mediterranean is up for serious debate. Despite having a young and technologically advanced fleet, the ports are not completely functioning. The significant gaps in maritime transport in Italy were exposed this morning during the Mediterranean Economic Forum in Milan by Paolo d’Amico, the chairman of Confitarma.

Despite the number of passengers and the number of links guaranteed thanks to the so-called Motorways of the Sea have risen, and despite the fact that the country has a “young and technologically advanced fleet that in 10 years has doubled its substance, with almost 16.5 million tonnes, ships from around the world do not come to our ports”. This, as d’Amico explained, is because “they do not find facilities able to receive them, or simply because the seas are not deep enough”. Institutions, d’Amico added, are the solution. A rapid response is needed from Parliament and the government, beginning firstly with a reform of the law on ports.

This reform is widely expected but as yet remains non-existent.

“We must avoid alternative routes springing up in terms of the Motorways of the Sea and Short Sea Shipping”, d’Amico added, as these are strategic resources for the country’s economic development and its capacity to emerge from the crisis. In view of the opening of the free trade area, d’Amico ended by saying that “Italy cannot allow itself to stay at the window of an opening process for such important markets”. Without adequate infrastructure, “the geographic centrality of our country has no use”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sace: 3.9 Billion in Guarantees Med

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 13 — With an exposition of 3.9 billion euros in Mediterranean countries, 11% of the total portfolio, Sace confirms its role as supporter of Italian businesses operating in emerging markets. President Giovanni Castellaneta, speaking at the Mediterranean Forum in Milan, illustrated Sace’s role in sustaining business opportunities for Italian firms in the region.

The main countries for exposure in the area are Turkey, which with 2.6 billion euros is the third foreign country in the Sace portfolio, Algeria with 317 million euros, and Egypt with 219 million.

“For dimension, activity sectors and geographic location”, said Castellaneta , “the Italian SMEs are privileged interlocutors for the markets of the Mediterranean. With a wide selection of insurance products dedicated to businesses which export, operate or invest in the area, Sace is an active part of the expansion process of Italian businesses in the Mediterranean basin markets, which it guards through agreements with primary financial institutions and local financial operators”.

By March 31 2010, Sace had in its portfolio guarantees for Mediterranean countries worth over 240 million euros for the infrastructure sector alone, with more consistent exposure with regard to Turkey, but with significant imports also Libya, Algeria and Egypt. The guarantees for infrastructure in Mediterranean countries represent 18,2% of those undertaken on a global level. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

ENI: Libya Concessions Renewed for 35 Years

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, JULY 12 — Over the next ten years the Italian oil company Eni is to invest “almost 20 billion dollars in Libya”, said Paolo Scaroni, Eni’s managing director, speaking at the energy conference included in the Euromed 2010 Forum.

“We have renewed the concessions in Libya for 35 years and shall therefore stay until 2045”. Eni had signed the agreement in 2008.

Scaroni stressed the importance of Northern Africa for Eni, where it has invested over 50 billion dollars over the past 10 years, employing more than 5 thousand people. “For us — said Scaroni — Northern Africa is a key area in our strategic plans.

The north African oil countries (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt) may only stand for 5% of the world oil production, but they represent almost 35% of our production”.

Furthermore, Eni is about to sign a “great agreement” with the Egyptian state oil company Egpc, which shall include “participation in our projects in Iraq, first and foremost the one in Zubair”. “On July 21st — Scaroni announced — we’ll sign with the Egyptian oil minister a very important agreement”.


           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Cosmetics; Prickly Pear Oil Production Grows

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 13 — Production of prickly pear oil, aimewd at the cosmetics sector and produced in the new laboratory in Knayes (in the province of Msaken, region of Sousse), will be of 4,500 litres by the end of the year.

The production is geared towards exports and is of particular interest to European Union countries, towards which over 500 litres have been exported so far. Prickly pears cover a vast area of the Sousse region. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Debating Obama Policy Doesn’t Require Screaming But Logic and Honest Discussion

by Barry Rubin

As I look at the occasional responses to the arguments I’m making by defenders of the Obama Administration, the arguments used to avoid thinking and talking about these issues seriously become increasingly apparent. They generally feature a refusal to discuss the substance of issues and put up instead a barrage of insults, characterizations, and non-logical or non-factual claims.

1. The right-wing argument. This says: you’re basically a right-wing person who is against a two-state solution and wants to do mean things to Arabs or Muslims. Therefore, we can ignore anything you say.

People who are conservative or right-wing have their own answers. For me, though, I need merely cite the following points. In American terms, I am not only a registered and life-long Democrat, but I worked for Democrats in both the Senate and House of Representatives; at one time worked at Democratic National Headquarters as a volunteer; worked on several presidential campaigns, was a consultant for a few Democratic senators, organized a Democratic group of foreign policy experts to prepare for the next presidency one of whose members (Madeleine Albright) became the secretary of state.

In Israel, I have always been active in the Labour Party or one of its offshoots, was an outspoken supporter of the Oslo effort, volunteered to teach courses for Palestinian institutions on the West Bank, was at the peace rally where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered in November 1995, and have backed a two-state solution-under the right conditions, of course—for about 20 years.

And, believe me, I have a lot of contacts with Arabs, Turks, Iranians, and Muslims whose worries about Obama’s policies are just as intense as my own.

The Turks feel the U.S. government is supporting or being very soft on a regime that wants to crush their democracy and turn their society into something else. The Iranians worry that the U.S. government has been playing into the hands of the dictatorship in Tehran and not helping the democratic-oriented opposition. Some Arabs—especially Lebanese—think U.S. policy is delivering their country into the hands of Hizballah, Syria and Iran. Others feel it won’t protect them from Iran and domestic Islamist revolutionaries…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Egypt Versus Gaza

by Barry Rubin

There is a bit of silver lining, even in the Gaza cloud. It’s this: the Egyptian government, aware that the West won’t help it get rid of the revolutionary Islamist regime there, that Israel cannot do it, and that Hamas won’t voluntarily accept subordination to the Palestinian Authority, now understands it has to protect itself from that threat.

For Egypt, the threat is multiple. Most directly, Hamas is a close ally to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a group that wants to overturn the nationalist regime and give Egypt an Islamist state that would enjoy all the blessings of Iran and Taliban Afghanistan. In or after their revolution, the Egyptian elite would be murdered and all of its property confiscated.

A second threat to Egypt comes from the fact that Hamas is an Iranian client…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Italy-Syria: Trade to 420.5 Mln Euros, +80.7% in March

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, JULY 13 — In the first three months of 2010, according to ISTAT data, worked out by the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) office in Damascus, the value of trade between Italy and Syria totalled 420.5 million euros, an increase of 80.7% compared with the first quarter of 2009 (232.7 million euros).

Over the whole year 2009, the ICE points out, the value of trade totalled 1.1 billion euros, a 38.5% decline compared with 2008 (1.8 billion euros).

In March 2010 Italy’s trade balance showed a deficit of 65.7 million euros, while one year earlier, in March 2009, a surplus of 35.5 million euros was booked. In the first three months of this year, Italy exported goods to Syria for a total of 177.4 million euros, a 32.3% increase compared with March 2009 (134 million euros). The value of Italian imports from Syria was 243 million euros (+146% compared with the result recorded in March 2009, 98.6 million euros).(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Shoe Imports Total 52.4 Mln in First 5 Months

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, JULY 12 — In the first five months of 2010 Lebanese footwear imports reached 52,4 million dollars. According to the latest numbers diffused by Lebanese customs, elaborated by the ICE Office in Beirut, Italy affirms its position as the number two supplier to Lebanon, with 13 million dollars worth of goods exported .. The percentage of Italian imports rises as well from 22% in 2009 to 25% in the first five months of this year.

China, continues ICE, retains its number one supplier position, with 19.6 million dollars, but with an over all share of total imports down slightly from 2009 (37% compared to 39% last year). Following up, at a distance, are Spain in third position and Vietnam in forth. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Slow Food Istanbul Fights to Rescue Bluefish

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 16 — Conserving biodiversity, protecting and promoting sustainable development, defending food traditions: these messages from Mother Earth materialize in Istanbul in the battle of the local section of Slow Food for one of the city’s symbols: the ‘lufer’.

The “sultan of all fishes”, as the species is called in Istanbul, is the local bluefish. It is much-loved and present in culture and traditions: from the famous rolls prepared on the boats along the shores of the Bosporus to the more creative dishes in the better restaurants. “The lufer” the founder of Slow Food Istanbul, Defne Koryurek, told ANSAmed, “migrates from the Black Sea through the Bosphorus and the Aegean Sea to the Mediterranean. During this journey, its flavour changes and when it arrives in Istanbul it is perfect, in our opinion”.

This fish is important for the city’s inhabitants, but recently the size of the catch and the size of the individual fish has decreased progressively.

The cause of this, Defne Koryurek underlines, is “pollution and, most importantly, overfishing. The lufer is in fact caught well before it reaches maturity, which takes three years, so before it can reproduce”.

Besides, “in 2002, the Ministry of Agriculture approved a modification which reduces the minimal required length to catch them from 21 to 14 cm”. This change launched a new campaign, “Don’t let the lufer go extinct!”, to make the public opinion aware of the consequences of an unbridled consumption which cannot be sustained on the long run. Among other initiatives, Slow Food Istanbul has promoted a petition in which it asks not to catch, serve or eat fishes that measure less than 24 cm in length. Many people support the initiative: local fishermen, shopkeepers and famous chefs — including Mehmet Gurs -, who also put the campaign’s sticker in their windows. The battle, Defne confirms enthusiastically, is “also supported by the traditional fishing communities which are aware of the problem and are working to protect the fish”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Red Meat Consumption Drops After Rise in Prices

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JULY 13 — Red meat consumption dropped in Turkey after recent rise in meat prices, Anatolia news agency reports quoting a vocational federation. The chairman of the Turkish Butchers’ Federation said that red meat consumption per person p.a. dropped below 12 kilograms in Turkey due to the recent rise in meat prices. “This figure reaches 62 kilograms including pork in European Union (EU) countries,” chairman Fazli Yalcindag said. Meat production has dropped in Turkey due to decline in sheep and cattle numbers, which has resulted in rise in meat prices.

“White meat consumption in Europe is lower than red meat consumption, on the contrary to Turkey,” Yalcindag said.

Yalcindag said meat production in Turkey was down 14.5% year-on-year in 2009 according to figures of the statistical board, TurkStat. Meat production would regress 20-25% in 2010, Yalcindag forecast. “A 20% decline means that consumption per person p.a. is below 10 kilograms, which also means that daily meat consumption per person was down to 27 grams from 32.8 grams,” Yalcindag said. The daily meat a person has to consume for a healthy nutrition is at least 100 grams. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkish Aselsan Among World’s 100 Giant Corporations

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JULY 13 — One of Turkey’s leading defense industry companies, ASELSAN, continues to rise in the global list of defense industry companies. For the past four years, as Anatolia news agency reports, ASELSAN joined the list of 100 global giant defense corporations as prepared by the U.S. based Defense News magazine. In 2009, ASELSAN was ranked as the 93rd biggest defense corporation of the world. In 2010, Defense News magazine rated ASELSAN as the world’s 86th biggest defense corporation. As the 86th biggest defense corporation of the world, ASELSAN left behind many U.S. companies as well as Japanese ones, including Fujitsu Corporation. ASELSAN also left behind two Russian defense firms and renowned Brazilian aerospace corporation Embraer. In Defense News’ 2010 list, U.S.

Lockheed Martin Corporation was ranked as first while Britain’s BAE Systems ranked second. There are four Israeli defense corporations in the world’s top 100 companies. It is ASELSAN’s aim to be part of the world’s biggest 50 defense corporations.

ASELSAN is a Turkish electronics company that designs, develops and manufactures modern electronic systems for military and industrial customers in Turkey and abroad. With 3,550 employees, ASELSAN allocates 7% of its annual revenues to research and development, and exports equipment to 36 countries worldwide.


           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Marine Gets Blown Up, Walks Away Unfazed

SOUTHERN SHORSURAK, Afghanistan (July 12, 2010) — Cpl. Matt Garst should be dead.

Few people survive stepping on an improvised explosive device. Even fewer walk away the same day after directly absorbing the force of the blast, but Garst did just that.

A squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Garst was leading his squad on a patrol in Southern Shorsurak, Afghanistan, June 23 to establish a vehicle checkpoint in support of Operation New Dawn.

The men were four miles from Lima Company’s newly established observation post when they approached an abandoned compound close to where they needed to set up their checkpoint. It would serve well as an operating base — a place for the squad to set up communications and rotate Marines in and out of. But first, it had to be secured.

As they swept the area with a metal detector, the IED registered no warning on the device. The bomb was buried too deep and its metallic signature too weak. Two men walked over it without it detonating.

At six feet, two inches tall and 260 pounds with all his gear on, Garst is easily the largest man in his squad by 30 or 40 pounds — just enough extra weight to trigger the IED buried deep in hard-packed soil.

Lance Cpl. Edgar Jones, a combat engineer with the squad, found a pressure plate inside the compound and hollered to Garst, asking what he should do with it. Garst turned around to answer the Marine and stepped on the bomb.

“I can just barely remember the boom,” Garst said. “I remember the start of a loud noise and then I blacked out.”

Since Garst’s improbable run-in with the IED, his tale has spread through the rest of the battalion, and as often happens in combat units, the story mutates, the tale becoming more and more extraordinary about what happened next: He held onto his rifle the whole time … He actually landed on his feet … He remained unmoved, absorbing the impact like he was muffling a fart in a crowded elevator …

What really happened even eludes Garst. All went black after the earth uppercut him. When he came to, he was standing on his feet holding his weapon, turning to see the remnants of the blast and wondering why his squad had a look on their faces as if they’d seen a ghost.

Marines in Lima Company think Garst is the luckiest guy in the battalion, and while that may seem a fair assessment, it was the enemy’s shoddy work that left Garst standing. The three-liters of homemade explosive only partially detonated.

Marines who witnessed the event from inside the compound caught glimpses of Garst’s feet flailing through the air just above the other side of the building’s eight-foot walls. The explosion knocked him at least fifteen feet away where he landed on his limp head and shoulders before immediately standing back up.

Not quite sure of what had just happened, Garst turned back toward the blast, now nothing but a column of dirt and smoke rising toward the sun.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh s—-, I just hit an IED,’“ he said. “Then I thought, ‘Well I’m standing. That’s good.’“

Garst’s squad stared at him in disbelief. The square-jawed Marine has a tendency to be short-tempered, and the realization that the blast was meant to kill him spiked his adrenaline and anger.

“It pissed me off,” he said.

He directed his men to establish a security perimeter while letting them know in his own way that he was OK.

“What the f—- are you looking at?” he said. “Get on the cordon!”

Garst quickly radioed back to base, calling an explosive ordnance disposal team and quick reaction force.

“I called them and said, ‘hey, I just got blown up. Get ready,’“ he said. “The guy thought I was joking at first. ‘You got blown up? You’re not calling me. Get out of here.’“

Once EOD cleared the area, Garst led his squad the four miles back to their observation post — just hours after being ragdolled by an IED blast.

“I wasn’t going to let anybody else take my squad back after they’d been there for me,” he said. “That’s my job.”

The next day Garst awoke with a pounding headache and was as sore as he’d ever been in his life.

“Just getting up from trying to sleep was painful,” he said.

But he saw no reason being sore should slow him down. He popped some ibuprofen and after a day of rest, Garst was back out on patrol, showing his Marines and the enemy that just like his resolve — Garst is unbreakable.

           — Hat tip: Seneca III[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Obama-Supported Kenyan Constitution Forces Sharia Law

Yesterday, it was reported that Barack Obama is illegally funding a pro-abortion referendum in Kenya. But, it gets worse…

The Constitution Obama is supporting forces Sharia Law in the country.


U.S. financial and rhetorical support for this constitution has some members of Congress calling for an investigation. In a letter to inspectors general of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Republican representatives Chris Smith of New Jersey, Darrell Issa of California, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida raised questions about American constitutional lobbying in Kenya: “The Obama Administration’s advocacy in support of Kenya’s proposed constitution may constitute a serious violation of the Siljander Amendment and, as such, may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Britain Pays Calais Migrants £3,500 to Go Home — Before They Even Get Here

British taxpayers have paid out more than £1 million to persuade hundreds of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants to return home — before they even enter the UK.

Foreigners attempting to cross the English Channel at the French port of Calais are offered free flights and awarded up to £3,500 to help start businesses back home.

The Home Office-backed Global Calais Project has persuaded 468 ‘irregular migrants’ to return to their countries of origin at a cost of £1.2 million to the UK Exchequer.

Among those to take up the offer were 50 Afghans, 20 Sudanese, eight Libyans and five Indians — none of whom had a legal right to travel to or live in Britain.

Last year, 281 illegal immigrants took advantage of the generous offer, a rate of more than five a week. The bizarre incentive is equivalent to 14 years’ wages for a worker in Afghanistan.

The Home Office claims the payout scheme, which began in 2007, helps avoid long, costly legal battles once the migrants arrive in the UK.

The payments emerged in a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office by The Mail on Sunday. The department spent a year battling the release of the figures and agreed only after an intervention by the information watchdog.

The Home Office also admitted paying out almost £80 million in resettlement grants to 21,506 people who had already reached the UK. The sum is equivalent to the annual salaries of 800 family doctors or 3,200 teachers.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘It may look unpalatable to pay money to people who have not even arrived in the country, but ultimately it makes our borders safer and saves the taxpayer money. It is the least-worst option.

‘I will continue with the programme but I am reviewing it as I am determined to drive down on any waste.’

Taxpayer-funded repatriation schemes began under Labour in 1999 but were widened dram­atically in 2005 when Ministers raised the maximum payout from £1,000 to £4,000 in an attempt to combat the soaring number of illegal immigrants.

All the schemes are operated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), an independent body that organises migrant removals for governments around the globe.

Created in 1951 to cope with the 11 million people uprooted by the Second World War, the IOM now employs 7,000 people in 127 offices worldwide. Since 2007, IOM officials have been paid by the Home Office to approach illegal immigrants stranded in Calais and tell them life will not be easy if they manage to get to Britain.

They offer to transfer them to Paris, pay for flights home and promise retraining or business grants of up to £3,500 if the migrants agree to halt their journey into the UK. The grants are distributed from IOM offices in the migrants’ countries of origin once they return home.

Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, said: ‘There is a real risk that people will hear of this and it will create a bizarre incentive for people to try to smuggle themselves into Britain. The solution could be worse than the disease.’

Back in Britain, the IOM administers other Home Office-backed schemes from its plush head offices in Westminster, Central London.

The Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP) pays failed asylum seekers who are already in the country up to £4,000 to drop their appeals and return home voluntarily.

Almost 17,000 failed asylum seekers from 122 countries have taken advantage of VARRP so far, including 1,597 Albanians, 289 Indians and 39 Poles.

In total, the Home Office admitted paying the IOM a total of £79.2 million over the past five years. Last year, this newspaper revealed that an immigrant convicted of the horrific killing of a 17-month-old baby was given £4,500 by the Government as a ‘bribe’ to leave the country.

Malaysian Agnes Wong, 29, was jailed for five years in 2008 for the brutal manslaughter of a toddler she was supposed to be child-minding.

She was let out of prison in July last year and four months later was put on a plane at Heathrow and sent to Malaysia with a ‘voucher’ worth £4,500 to spend when she got there.

In 2007, it emerged that asylum seekers had used British taxpayer-funded grants to set up dozens of businesses, including an ostrich farm in Iran.

In addition to the resettlement payments, the Freedom of Information request also revealed that the Home Office awarded £6.2 million to foreign countries to help them improve their own border controls — including £1.4 million for training border officials and buying fingerprint scanners in France, Turkey and China.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Helping France remove irregular migrants from the Calais region is integral to reducing intake to the UK.

‘The vast majority of the funding goes directly on providing and promoting reintegration, which persuades those barred from entering Britain to go home.

‘This ultimately saves the British taxpayer from the cost of enforcing a removal.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Immigration Solution: ‘Enforce the Law’

Newcomer to Congress says he has border fix

WASHINGTON — Jason Chaffetz knows all about winning an uphill battle. In 2008, he booted six-term Congressman Chris Cannon from the ranks of his own Republican Party to win the nomination for Utah’s 3rd District seat in Congress.

Chaffetz did not have big money to spend, but he did have some big ideas, including building a volunteer grass roots organization that focused on issues that were frustrating the voters of his district.

One of those issues was illegal immigration, and Chaffetz is not shy about stating his beliefs regarding one of the most heated controversies in the nation’s capital.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Somali Refugee Given £2.1million Taxpayer-Funded House Owed £7,000 in Rent on Previous Home

After last week’s MoS revealed how a refugee moved from ‘too poor’ an area to Kensington, his former landlord says thousands in housing benefit has disappeared

A former asylum seeker from Somalia who was given a £2.1million luxury townhouse at the expense of the taxpayer has been accused of leaving rent arrears of £7,000 when he and his family moved out of their previous home.

Abdi Nur, along with his wife and their seven children, moved into the three-storey property in West London last month because he didn’t like the ‘poor’ area of the city they were living in.

His case was labelled ‘an outrage’ by the Prime Minister last week after The Mail on Sunday revealed the public was footing the townhouse’s £8,000 monthly rental bill.

Now, the owner of Mr Nur’s former home in North-West London has claimed the 42-year-old ex-bus conductor owes him £7,000 in rent arrears.

Under the Government’s scheme, housing benefit is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It sends the money to housing authorities, which then pass it on to the claimants, who use the money to pay rent.

Shashi Pindoria, a property tycoon in North London, said Mr Nur had secretly moved his family out of the house in the London borough of Brent shortly before June, after being chased for the outstanding debts.

‘He was supposed to pay me £790 a week but he left without paying around £7,000,’ said Mr Pindoria, 52.

‘He was receiving the money from the council but his payments had been falling short for quite some time. We asked him to catch up with the payments and then he suddenly left without ­telling us.’

Mr Pindoria also claimed he was forced to spend more than a £1,000 on repairs after Mr Nur and his family moved out.

‘There was damaged furniture, there was a missing bed and the worktops were badly damaged. I had to put in a whole new kitchen.

‘They never touched the garden, despite everything being provided for them to look after it. They never touched it — it was a right mess.’

Mr Pindoria said his letting agent was now intending to pursue Mr Nur through the courts for the money he allegedly owes.

The Nur family moved into the five-bedroom house in Kensal Rise in December 2008, but Mr Nur said they were unhappy because the area was ‘very poor’, there were no shops and the school was ‘four or five bus stops’ away.

However, next-door neighbour Marek Olszta said the family were ‘spoilt’ and had always planned to move to a more lavish property.

‘I think they planned from the beginning that this house would just be an intermediate step,’ said the stained glass window designer, who is in his 40s.

‘When people live in council flats they have a hard time, but the house they had here should have been a dream come true.

He added: ‘They never touched their garden until a few months before they left when they started trying to weed it with socks over their hands.’

A Brent Council spokesman said: ‘The DWP passes housing benefits to the local authority who administer its distribution, generally by passing it direct to the tenant. I am unable to confirm if in this case this was by cheque or a bank transfer. How the rent is then paid to the landlord is part of the letting contract between tenant and landlord.’

A DWP spokesman said: ‘We are urgently reforming housing benefit and it’s right that we return fairness to a system that is out of control. It’s not right that some families on benefits are able to live in homes that hard-working families cannot afford.’

Despite numerous attempts to contact him, Mr Nur was unavailable for comment.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Plants Cannot ‘Think and Remember, ‘ But There’s Nothing Stupid About Them: They’re Shockingly Sophisticated

New research shows that plants “can think and remember,” according to a news story published this week.

Plants can transmit information “from leaf to leaf in a very similar way to our own nervous systems,” BBC News wrote. The article continues to assert that plants remember information and use “information encrypted in the light to immunize themselves against seasonal pathogens.”

Plants cannot think or remember. These borrowed terms do not accurately describe how plants function. However, like most organisms, plants can sense the world around them, process information from their environment, and respond to this information by altering their growth and development. In fact, plants respond to changes in their environment in ways that many would find surprisingly sophisticated, although botanists have known of these abilities for centuries.

“A big mistake people make is speaking as if plants ‘know’ what they’re doing,” says Elizabeth Van Volkenburgh, a botanist at the University of Washington. “Biology teachers, researchers, students and lay people all make the same mistake. I’d much rather say a plant senses and responds, rather than the plant ‘knows.’ Using words like ‘intelligence’ or ‘think’ for plants is just wrong. Sometimes it’s fun to do, it’s a little provocative. But it’s just wrong. It’s easy to make the mistake of taking a word from another field and applying it to a plant.”

The BBC News story is based on a study set for publication in The Plant Cell. Co-author Stanislaw Karpinski of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland recently presented his research at the annual meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology in Prague, Czech Republic.

The story maintains that, according to the study, stimulating one leaf cell with light creates a cascade of electrochemical events across the entire plant, communicated via specialized cells called bundle-sheath cells just as electrical impulses are propagated along the nerve cells in the nervous system of an animal. The researchers found that these reactions continued several hours later, even in the dark, which they interpreted to indicate a kind of memory.

This is like saying that because the surface of a pond continues to ripple once struck by a pebble, the water is “remembering” something. The analogy doesn’t quite hold. But plants do produce electrical signals and the function of these signals in response to light is the real focus of the new study—the most recent contribution to a growing body of work about electrical signaling in plants.

Although plants don’t have nerves, plants cells are capable of generating electrical impulses called action potentials, just as nerve cells in animals do. In fact, all biological cells are electrical.

Cells use membranes to keep their interiors separate from their exteriors. Some very tiny molecules can infiltrate the membranes, but most molecules must pass through pores or channels found within the membrane. One group of migratory molecules is the ion family: charged particles like sodium, potassium, chloride and calcium.

Whenever different concentrations of ions accumulate on opposite sides of a cell membrane, there exists the potential for an electrical current. Cells manage this electric potential using protein channels and pumps embedded in the cell membrane—gatekeepers that regulate the flow of charged particles across the cell membrane. The controlled flow of ions in and out of a cell constitutes electrical signaling in both plants and animals…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sperm in All Animals Originated 600 Million Years Ago

A gene responsible for sperm production is so vital that its function has remained unaltered throughout evolution and is found in almost all animals, according to a new study. The results suggest the ability to produce sperm originated 600 million years ago.

The gene, called Boule, appears to be the only gene known to be exclusively required for sperm production in animals ranging from an insect to a mammal.

“Our findings also show that humans, despite how complex we are, across the evolutionary lines all the way to flies, which are very simple, still have one fundamental element that’s shared,” said Eugene Xu, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The discovery of Boule’s key role in perpetuating animal species offers a better understanding of male infertility, a potential target for a male contraceptive drug, and a new direction for future development of pesticides or medicine to fight infectious parasites.

The study will be published July 15 in the journal PLoS Genetics.

Sperm search

Prior to the new findings, scientists didn’t know whether sperm produced by various animal species came from the same prototype. In many evolution scenarios, things develop independently. As an example, birds and insects both fly, but the wings of each originated and evolved completely independently.

For the study, Xu searched for and discovered the presence of the Boule gene in sperm across different evolutionary lines: human, mammal, fish, insect, worm and marine invertebrate. The search required sperm from a sea urchin, a rooster, a fruit fly, a human and a fish.

The findings were unexpected because many sex-specific genes, including other genes involved in sperm production, are usually under evolutionary pressure to change.

“It’s really surprising because sperm production gets pounded by natural selection,” Xu said. “It tends to change due to strong selective pressures for sperm-specific genes to evolve. There is extra pressure to be a super male to improve reproductive success. This is the one sex-specific element that didn’t change across species. This must be so important that it can’t change.”

Helping humans

The sperm-gene discovery could have many practical uses for human health. For instance, when the researchers knocked out Boule from a mouse, the animal appeared to be healthy but did not produce sperm.

“A sperm-specific gene like Boule is an ideal target for a male contraceptive drug,” Xu said.

Boule also has the potential to reduce diseases caused by mosquitoes and parasites.

“We now have one strong candidate to target for controlling their breeding,” Xu said. “Our work suggests that disrupting the function of Boule in animals most likely will disrupt their breeding and put the threatening parasites or germs under control. This could represent a new direction in our future development of pesticides or medicine against infectious parasites or carriers of germs.”

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and Northwestern Memorial Foundation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]