Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110314

Financial Crisis
»China to Spend 1.3 Trillion Yuan to Cool Housing Market
»European Funds: South and East Fight for the Money
»Italy: Central Bank Chief Warns That the Mafia is Hurting Economy
»To Save America, We Must Wake Up and Dethrone Obama
Europe and the EU
»Forced Marriages ‘At Record High’ — South Wales Police
»Gang War in Copenhagen Claims New Victim
»Government Greenlights Law Reform — Berlusconi Looks Forward to Hearings
»Hege Storhaug: Europe Must Stand Up to Islamism
»Netherlands: PvdA Wants ‘Quaility Label’ For TV Programmes
»Nuclear Disaster ‘Will Have Political Impact as Great as 9/11’
»Spain: 80% Europeans Have No Confidence in Political Leaders
»UK: A Shocking Snapshot of Britain: The Small Town Where More Than 50 Families Rely on Free Food Handouts So They Don’t Starve
»UK: Europe and the Case for a Referendum
North Africa
»Egypt: Puntid: Never in the Hands of Muslim Brotherhood
»Libyan Armed Forces Will “Free the Region From All Rebels”
»Libya: Romanian Mercenaries to Rescue Gaddafi?
»Libya: Ship With Hundreds of Migrants 150 Miles From Augusta
»Libya: Gaddafi Advances, ‘Marching Towards Benghazi’
Israel and the Palestinians
»An Open Letter to Harvey Weinstein
»Caroline Glick: Three Jewish Children
»Netanyahu: Palestinian Public Must Hear Abbas Condemn Itamar Attack
»Photos of Fogel Family Murder
»PNA: EU: 20 Mln to Wages and Salaries in February
Middle East
»Bahrain Royal Family Welcomes Saudi Troops to Face Down Violent Protests
»Global Free Press Outcry is ‘Defamation, ‘ Say Turkish Prime Minister
»Iran Creates Cyber Army
»Italians Offer Turkey Partnership on New Military Aircraft Plan
»Revolts: Bahrain: GCC Armed Forces Expected Today
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Suicide Bomber Kills 33 in Recruitment Centre
Far East
»Cover Up of Fukushima Chain Reaction Underway
»Japanese Death Toll to Far Exceed 10,000
»Japan’s Chernobyl
»Japan Nuclear Plant Rocked by Another Explosion
»Japan Faces Prospect of Nuclear Catastrophe as Employees Leave Plant
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Somali Pirates Cut Ransoms to Clear Hijacked Ships
»France’s Le Pen Visits Italian Arrival Point for Thousands of North Africans
»Hundreds of Tunisian Immigrants Wait to Set Sail for Sicily
»UK: Finally, British Workers Come First: Jobs for Migrants Slashed by Half in Visa Clampdown
»UK: Vicar Arrested and Church Searched as Police Probe Hundreds of ‘Sham’ Marriages
Culture Wars
»Former Neo-Nazi Becomes Leftist After Sex Change
»Interview With One of the Main Thinkers Behind the Sexual Revolution
»UK: Killer Jailed for Life to Have £45,000 Sex-Change Operation ‘Funded by the Taxpayer’

Financial Crisis

China to Spend 1.3 Trillion Yuan to Cool Housing Market

Housing prices are rising despite government attempts to rein in market speculation. Beijing announces plans to build 10 million new housing units for low-income families.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — In 2011, China plans to invest 1.3 trillion yuan (US$ 200 billion) to build 10 million housing units for low-income families priced out of the housing market by unfettered speculation, Deputy Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development Qi Ji said in an announcement. In his statement, he slammed speculators for leading to “unreasonable” prices.

“China’s problem with home prices will be gradually solved with the implementation of government policies and the strengthened responsibilities of local governments,” Qi said.

The central and local governments will provide some 500 billion yuan in funding. Companies and families benefitting from the programme will provide the rest. Easy loans, subsidies and tax incentives will also be offered to people who build their own home.

In the meantime, housing prices continue to climb, for a 19th month in a row in December. Experts expect however that home prices will rise only 0.5 per cent in February, the slowest monthly gain since August.

So far, government action has had little impact. Measures include raising the minimum down payment for second-home purchases and introducing taxes for homes in Shanghai and Chongqing where prices are higher.

Experts are divided over such policies. Some believe prices should drop in the near future, whilst others think they will continue to rise because of ongoing migration towards big cities.

A few days ago, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao told the National People’s Congress that his government would “resolutely” press ahead with controls on the property market to curb speculation. The government would also “severely punish” irregularities in the real-estate market, implement differentiated credit and tax policies.

The high prices of housing and essential items, like food, are chipping away at middle class incomes. The government is very concerned that inflation—related hardships might lead to social protests.

Indeed, not only has the government failed to rein real estate speculation, but big state corporations have been accused of engaging in speculative activity themselves.

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

European Funds: South and East Fight for the Money

As the EU prepares a programme of economic and political support for a North Africa in the throes of change, some member states are arguing that Europe’s Eastern Neighbourhood Policy, particularly with regard to the Caucasus, shouldn’t be forgotten.

Evita Neefs

Who has a greater right to support from the EU? The Arab revolutions or the political opposition in Eastern European countries? Within the EU, the debate has sparked conflict between the Southern and Eastern member states, which European leaders will be hoping to defuse later this week. A recent proposal presented by six Southern European countries to transfer financial support from the EU’s Eastern Neighbours to countries on the southern shores of the Mediterranean has prompted a dismayed reaction from Central European governments.

France, Spain, Greece, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta are arguing that the significant disparities which characterise the distribution of the EU budget for neighbouring countries “are not justified”: for each member of their populations, Egypt and Tunisia receive just 1.8 and 7 euros respectively, while Moldova benefits from more than 25 euros per capita. Worse still, it now appears that the funds to help countries to the south are all but exhausted.

Support for south cannot be allowed to undermine aid for east

Southern member states, which have to contend with most of the pressure exerted by a huge influx of refugees in the wake of the Arab revolutions, are arguing that events on the other side of the Mediterranean are of major importance for the EU. Central European governments, who have responded by contesting figures on the latest inflow of migrants, insist that the same is true of Europe’s eastern borders. They are also keen to highlight ongoing tensions prompted by “latent conflicts” on Europe’s eastern borders, where fear of Russia remains a major preoccupation — a fact that was clearly evident at the Global Security Forum in Bratislava earlier this month.

The region, which was traumatised by the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia, is facing the prospect of yet more conflict in Nagorno-Karabak. The enclave “is about to explode” insists Oksana Antonenko of London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies, who points to the same warning signs that preceded fighting in South Ossetia. Given the fragility of Central Asian governments, “the region will face major dangers, especially when US troops withdraw from Afghanistan. I am very pessimistic,” she says.

At the Forum, the foreign ministers of Georgia and Moldova spoke of the merits of European support for modernisation in their countries, while their Hungarian colleague, Janos Martonyi, fired a warning shot in response to the demands expressed by Southern Member States: “Support for the south cannot be allowed to undermine aid for the east.”

Financial difficulties are only part of ENP problem

The stage has been set for a heated meeting on 10 March, when Stefan Füle, the European Commissioner with responsibility for the EU’s Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) will attempt to calm the mood in Central Europe: “No one is suggesting that the EU should focus all of its efforts on the South. No, our commitment to the East will remain unchanged.”

Explaining that the existing budget does not allow for an easy reallocation of funds, the Commissioner nonetheless pointed out that “we succeeded in finding an extra 17 million euros for Tunisia. And we are also examining ways to use the existing allocation of 80 million euros for the 2007-2013 period more efficiently. As for Egypt, a number of options are still under consideration. And we are also developing a new approach in consultation with monetary institutions.”

Financial difficulties are only part of the problem for the ENP, which historically has been characterised by two significantly different types of approach. In the Arab world, where it supported regimes to safeguard the flow of oil, links with opponents of current governments were not a priority. In contrast, the policy towards Eastern countries has been marked by cooperation with civil society and the political opposition.

“We will have to define very clear objectives”

That said, in the context of diminishing hopes for democracy in countries like Belarus, the situation in the region on Europe’s eastern borders increasingly resembles the one that prevailed on the other side of the Mediterranean before the current wave of revolutions, which has now become the subject of some regret. Recently, Stefan Füle presented an official apology for Europe’s long-standing policy of supporting dictatorial regimes.

In the future, things will have to change. The ENP is an instrument to achieve a goal. But what exactly is this goal? Accession to the EU? Access to European markets? Or quite simply to ensure that our neighbours do not constitute a threat to the EU? As it stands, we do not have a clear answer on this, admits Stefan Füle. Once it has been re-evaluated, the funds made available by the new ENP will be distributed differently.

“We will have to define very clear objectives on human rights, respect for the rule of law, democracy, good governance, and on the fight against terrorism. The quantity of aid on offer will be directly determined by progress towards these objectives.” In short, the new slogan for Europe’s policy towards its near neighbours will be: “More for more.”

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

Italy: Central Bank Chief Warns That the Mafia is Hurting Economy

Milan 11, March (AKI) — The mafia is one of the biggest reasons for the sluggish growth of the European Union’s fourth largest economy, Italian central bank governor Mario Draghi said on Friday.

“Among the most inhibitory factors…is mafia infiltration in the structure of productivity, which has increased during the last ten years, at least in how it has spread throughout our national territory,” Draghi said during a speech in the northern city of Milan, the centre of Italian business.

Draghi’s comments followed an annual report by Italy’s national anti-mafia directorate (DNA) this week which said the Calabrian mafia or ‘Ndrangheta was continuing to grow in Italy and abroad thanks to “unlimited” financial resources.

Lombardy, the affluent region around Milan was the victim to a “full-fledged colonisation”, the DNA said in its Wednesday report.

The Italian economy grew just 1.3 percent last year from 2009 when it shrank 5.1 percent amid the worst recession in more than six decades. Italy’s gross domestic product grew at an average rate of 1.5 percent a year from 1999 to 2007, compared with 2.2 percent for the European Union.

Italian organised crime groups’ revenue in 2009 totalled 135 billion euros, according to according to the Rome-based anti-mafia organisation SOS Impresa.

The three biggest Italian crime networks, the Sicilian mafia or Cosa Nostra, the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta and the Camorra, have their roots in the country’s south. But authorities say they have invested money from from traditional crimes like extortion and drug trafficking in seemingly legitimate enterprises.

In July thousands of police conducted raids through Milan’s Lombardy region where Milan is located, and the Calabria region in the south to arrest around 300 suspected members of the ‘Ndrangheta.

The ‘Ndrangheta is considered Italy’s most powerful crime syndicate, whose financial clout has been estimated at more than 3 percent of Italy’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The same month interior minister Roberto Maroni announced the arrest of more than a dozen alleged “Ndrangheta mobsters for infiltrating Milan’s Expo 2015. Milan mayor Letizia Moratti says the event will draw 29 million visitors, create 70,000 jobs and generate almost 4 billion euros billions in revenue.

“The price that society pays is high when it is contaminated by organised crime,” he said. Fighting the mafia “serves to strengthen the social fibre of the country and to remove one of the brakes that has been slowing our country’s path forward.”

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


To Save America, We Must Wake Up and Dethrone Obama

Incredibly, Obama continues to boldly go where no other president has gone before. Apparently, none of the rules apply to him. Without consequence, at will, Obama ignores laws and the Constitution to implement his progressive/socialist agenda.

America’s first black president has morphed into America’s first king. All hail King Obama, our supreme ruler. Think about this folks, King Obama has put together his royal court of an unprecedented 32 czars who only answer to him. His czars consist of people who have socialist and communist leanings, many simply do not like America. King Obama’s czars, without congressional over sight, set new rules and regulations for our lives; boldly ignoring laws and the U.S. Constitution.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Forced Marriages ‘At Record High’ — South Wales Police

South Wales Police say they are dealing with the largest number of cases of forced marriage and honour based-violence they have ever seen.

Ch Supt Neil Kinrade, head of South Wales Police’s communities and partnerships department, said forced marriage was a “hidden harm” among some sectors of the community.

Kinrade added: “We do understand the issues and I think we are becoming more effective at dealing with it but what I sense is happening is there is an East v West clash.” He said young people were being educated in south Wales and were “very westernised” then their families give them the news that they have had a partner chosen for them. “And that often comes as a complete shock to them, against their intent to go to university, to maybe follow a career path. And that’s where many youngsters are rejecting it,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Gang War in Copenhagen Claims New Victim

A 19-year-old Danish man was shot and killed near Blågårds Plads square in the Inner Nørrebro section of Copenhagen on Sunday evening. It was the latest episode in an ongoing gang war in which one other person was killed and two others were shot in the past week. The dead man, who was a Danish citizen with an immigrant background, died of a single bullet wound to the back. At least four shots were fired around 10 o’clock in the evening on Sunday in the vicinity of Blågårds Plads. In the past week, four people have been injured and two killed in a total of five shooting episodes in the Copenhagen area.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Government Greenlights Law Reform — Berlusconi Looks Forward to Hearings

Council of Ministers unanimously approves draft Prime minister claims “it is in everyone’s interest”

ROME — The Council of Ministers has given the thumbs-up to the constitutional bill on law reform. Approval was unanimous. Government sources said that after the vote, the entire council applauded justice minister Angelino Alfano. Since it involves modifying the constitution, the bill will have to be approved twice by both chambers of Parliament. If the bill wins a two-thirds majority, it will take effect immediately. Otherwise, it will require confirmation by popular referendum.

“CITIZENS AND PROSECUTORS ON THE SAME FOOTING” — Immediately after the bill’s approval, Mr Alfano explained the details, summing up the spirit of the measure in a metaphor: “The new system puts the judge on top, with prosecutor and citizen on the same footing”. The prime minister illustrated the concept later with a cartoon showing two sets of scales. The first is lower on one side because the judge and public prosecutor are in one pan and the defence lawyer is alone in the other. The second cartoon shows the judge atop the central pole and the pans equally balanced, with the prosecutor on one side and the defence lawyer on the other. Mr Alfano defended the overall structure of the reform, saying that he could see no reason for magistrates to strike or mobilise in opposition as “it is not punitive for them”.

“A REFORM FOR ALL” — During the night, Silvio Berlusconi explained at a meeting held at Palazzo Grazioli that it was not a personalised law but a reform “in everyone’s interest”. Later, he stressed that the bill “is a key element of the government’s action, an organic reform, with long-term prospects and far-reaching changes, which has nothing to do with trials currently under way”. Moreover, it has been one of Mr Berlusconi’s objectives since 1994, the year he “took the political field”. The prime minister stressed: “This constitutional reform will be implemented in ten laws that will go through Parliament independently, and will be submitted one after the other”. Mr Berlusconi reiterated at the media briefing: “We will do everything we can to discuss these regulations with the opposition. The minister of justice will be doing this”. Above all, he said: “These issues have been pursued by the Left for 50 years”. In charge of the dialogue, said the prime minister, “will be Alfano”.

FAIR TRIAL — Mr Berlusconi is particularly passionate about one of the reform’s many points, as he explained at the Palazzo Chigi media briefing, the “regulation of irrevocability for acquittals in courts of first instance”. He said an ordinary citizen, acquitted at the first trial but tried again on appeal and in the third degree, “has his whole life ruined: him, his family, his social relations and his finances”. He added that the heart of the reform was the “fair trial”, which “should not merely be concluded in a reasonable length of time but should guarantee cross-examination and the equal status of defence and prosecution. A fair trial is the right of every citizen”.

RUBYGATE — When asked whether the Ruby affair had had any influence on the timing and content of law reform, Mr Berlusconi was unequivocal: “None. It was conceived in 1994”. He then talked about personal matters: “This time I am going to enjoy being present in court. I’ve set Sunday aside for preparation and Monday for attending the hearings. I think I’m going to enjoy it very much and I’ll be explaining to Italians the way things really are”. He went on: “I have never taken an interest in these laws because I swore on the lives of my children and grandchildren that the trials to which I have been subjected are based on nothing”. He explained: “I am confident of being acquitted at these trials, as I have been 24 times in the 30 trials that have been organised against me, and as I will be in the ones I still have to face”.

“IT WILL BE APPRECIATED” — The first comments from ministers who approved the measure were also positive. “It’s a reform that has been awaited for years. Citizens will appreciate it and if they are called to confirm it in a referendum, they will vote for it en masse”, said Gianfranco Rotondi, minister for the implementation of the government’s programme. People of Freedom (PDL) spokesman Daniele Capezzone claimed approval of the bill was “also an opportunity for the civil rights activists of the Left”. According to environment minister Stefania Prestigiacomo: “It’s a serious reform, far-reaching, careful to keep democracy’s checks and balances in place and respectful of citizen’s rights and the substantial equilibrium of prosecution and defence. It was in our founding manifesto”.

“WRITTEN UNDER DICTATION” — The reform was rejected out of hand by Italy of Values (IDV) leader Antonio Di Pietro: “What has been proposed is an anti-democratic reform that overturns the rule of law. We will be presenting a single amendment to rescind the entire reform”, which the former public prosecutor said was “unworthy of the former state of South Africa at its worst”. The reform was also rejected in toto by Oliviero Diliberto, national spokesman for the Federation of the Left, who said it was a “pseudo-reform” and “nothing more than yet another personalised law, written under the direct dictation of a now-desperate prime minister”. Gianfranco Fini supporter Benedetto Della Vedova was less categorical: “We will examine the drafts and make our own assessments without prejudice”.

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Hege Storhaug: Europe Must Stand Up to Islamism

While actual terrorists are relatively few in number, Islamists are not. Their influence is growing across Europe, especially among young people. Among 15-year-old German Muslims, 40% consider Islam more important than democracy, while 37% want Europe’s Muslims to live under sharia law. In Britain, 28% of all Muslims want that country to be governed according to sharia; this sentiment is strongest among the young, with 37% of those between ages 16 and 24 supporting the idea. Among Muslim university students in Britain, fully 40% support sharia either strongly or relatively strongly. One in three of those students considers it legitimate to kill in the name of Islam.

If Europeans continue to ignore these facts, in the hopes the problem will just go away, Europe risks being plunged into a new Dark Ages, comparable to the Nazi era. While politicians’ pronouncements are a good start, they are far from enough. Across Europe, Islamism and sharia law have spread their tentacles into major social institutions. To root out their destructive influence, Europe needs to take decisive measures today, and into the next decade.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: PvdA Wants ‘Quaility Label’ For TV Programmes

AMSTERDAM, 15/03/11 — The Lower House attacked Labour (PvdA) yesterday after the party suggested equipping current affairs programmes on public TV channels with a quality ‘hallmark.’

Current affairs programmes currently seem too much like discussion programmes, or even political propaganda, says PvdA MP Martijn van Dam. “Here I am thinking mainly of Uitgesproken WNL”.

WNL is a new broadcaster affiliated to media concern De Telegraaf Media Groep (TMG). WNL was admitted to the public broadcasting system by the previous government, together with Powned, also affiliated to TMG. The main reason was that rightwing voters had no voice on TV.

Apparently the PvdA feels threatened. Van Dam now wants a journalistic hallmark for public broadcasting programmes. “It must be clear that a programme offers quality journalism.”

The Christian democratic (CDA) and conservative (VVD) government parties reject a journalistic hallmark. Opposition parties are also not supporting Van Dam in any way whatever. “A crazy plan,” said centre-left D66 MP Boris van der Ham. “You must be kidding me”, twittered leftwing Green (GroenLinks) MP Ineke van Gent.

ChristenUnie suggested that the PvdA would likely have been furious if another party had made the same proposal. “Then it would of course have been censorship!” sneered party leader Andre Rouvoet.

In fact, Van Dam considers it no problem if the public broadcaster produces a discussion programme in which the presenter has a clear social view. “But you do have to be honest to the viewers and say: This is a coloured programme. Otherwise, you are put on the wrong foot.”

Uitgesproken WNL is presented by former Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) MP Joost Eerdmans, currently an alderman in Zoetermeer. Van Dam considers the question of whether a politician can be a presenter “a prime discussion point.”

This is remarkable as numerous TV presenters are former politicians from the PvdA and other leftwing parties. Marcel van Dam, Naima Azough and Paul Rosenmoller are but a few examples.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Nuclear Disaster ‘Will Have Political Impact as Great as 9/11’

The nuclear disaster in Fukushima makes it hard to ignore the vulnurabilities of the technology. It could spell the end of nuclear power, German commentators argue on Monday. The government in Berlin may now cave in to mounting pressure to suspend its 12-year extension of reactor lifetimes, they say.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: 80% Europeans Have No Confidence in Political Leaders

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 14 — Almost 8 out of 10 European have hardly any or no confidence in their political leaders and their honesty, and just 14% of citizens have some expectations that their political leaders will manage to deal with the crisis situation. So emerged from a survey carried out by the British newspaper The Guardian from February 24 to March 8 in the UK, Spain, France, Germany and Poland. The project was realised in collaboration with Le Monde, Der Spiegel, Gazeta Wyborcza and El Pais and was published today by the Spanish newspaper. The serious financial crisis has played a crucial role in the erosion of the image people have of their political leaders. In the UK, 66% don’t believe that the Cameron government will be able to lead the country out of the crisis; 86% of Germans are not sure that the country’s economy will regain its competitiveness under the current government, and 78% of people in Spain are dissatisfied with Zapatero. That same percentage of Spaniards think that the government has spent too much money, showing a lack of anticipation and sense of responsibility; French and Polish citizens are more convinced of the waste in their public administration, with respectively 82% and 84%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: A Shocking Snapshot of Britain: The Small Town Where More Than 50 Families Rely on Free Food Handouts So They Don’t Starve

A charity which sends food parcels to impoverished Eastern Europe has had to redirect some of its aid nearer home — to the South West of England.

More than 200 people a week are picking up ‘basic foodstuffs’ such as cereals and tinned goods from a help centre at a Baptist church in Okehampton, Devon.

The crisis arose after the closure of three factories, leaving 350 workers redundant.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Europe and the Case for a Referendum

The launch today of a cross-party campaign for a referendum on whether Britain should stay in the European Union is likely to lead to a debate the Government is very reluctant to have.

With the largely Eurosceptic Conservative party and the ardently Europhile Lib Dems at odds on the issue, David Cameron and Nick Clegg both fear the subject of Europe could be fatally damaging to the Coalition.

Of course, before the election it was a very different story. Both parties tried to win votes by promising a referendum on different aspects of EU membership and Mr Cameron seemed passionate about repatriating some of the powers relinquished to Brussels during 13 years of Labour obeisance.

Now, the only referendum on their minds is the entirely unwanted May 5 poll on Alternative Voting at general elections, which could replace the centuries-old, trusted system of first-past-the-post with a crude and confusing variant of proportional representation.

According to a poll for the new internet-based campaign — People’s Pledge — twice as many Britons would prefer a referendum on EU membership, which now costs the taxpayer £8.3billion a year, than on AV.

It is 36 years since the UK last voted on whether to remain a member, in which time the EU has changed beyond recognition from essentially a trading organisation to a would-be superstate.

The Mail doesn’t support a wholesale withdrawal from the EU. There are many important trade partnerships to preserve.

However, five major treaties have been signed without a referendum since 1975, giving Brussels ever more power over vast areas of our day-to-day lives. From the Human Rights Act to open-door immigration, we have lost far too much of our sovereignty to Europe.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Puntid: Never in the Hands of Muslim Brotherhood

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MARCH 14 — “Egypt cannot fall into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, they will split before occupying power. The spirit of Tahrir Square truly represents a profound change in mentality for Egyptian society. But in order to emerge from this period of transition a contribution from the entire nation is needed. Coptic Christians must also roll up their sleeves and take part in the reconstruction of the new Egypt,” said Tarek Heggy, one of the most important liberal thinkers in the Arab world, who according to some could run for president in 2011. “It is too soon,” he told ANSAmed, extinguishing the rumours from the very beginning,” because I am not ready.” Now, he said, is the time to look at what is happening in the country and to “sharpen our weapons.” And as an intellectual, his weapons are liberal principles and forming his new party, which has already signed up 2,500 members little more than a few weeks. Raised in the ‘50s in a modern and secular Egypt, after earning a degree in law at Ain Shams University in Cairo and specialising at the University of Geneva and spending 20 years living abroad, Heggy has returned to Egypt imbued with the liberal ideas which today constitute the basis upon which the new political party has been founded. “Religion, communist ideology and Nasserism are not the solutions to reform the country, revive the economy and education, and create a true parliamentary republic,” said the puntid who will take part in an encounter this afternoon in Rome entitled ‘The democratic revolution in the Muslim world,’ organised by the Magna Carta Foundation. He will spend the next four years promoting his party, which after the approval of the Supreme court, will be called ‘The Egyptian Nation Party’. It will be based on three cornerstones: “political pluralism, the defence of women’s rights and the defence of minorities, with Coptic Christians, Nubians and Bahais in particular,” he added. The idea is to actively bring the Copts into the political arena. Proof of the importance of this principle is the fact that “the second highest ranking official in the party will always be a Copt. “If they do not want to be crushed by the Muslims,” said Heggy, the author of numerous texts on the Arab world and Islam, “they must take part in building this country.” There is a potential basin of 25 million voters, he warned: “from liberals, who number between 6 and 7 million, to Coptic Christians, whose numbers total between 12 and 15 million, and liberal women, who I consider to be between 4 and 6 million total.” Following the excitement of the days of the peaceful revolution on January 25, how can we believe that the “spirit” of Tahrir Square will not evaporate in a brief period of time, and mainly, how can we believe that the unity between Copts and Muslims during the protests can last? “Many of the events that occurred,” he says, “such as the attack on New Year’s Day in Alexandria, were engineered by the Interior Ministry,” replied Heggy, who does not deny that tension existed and continues to exist between the communities. What can we expect in the upcoming presidential elections? “I think that ElBaradei has a good chance, but the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Hussein Tantawi, could be the candidate supported by the military.” It is necessary to start over from the Constitution, concluded Heggy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libyan Armed Forces Will “Free the Region From All Rebels”

(AGI) Tripoli — The Libyan Armed Forces have announced they are marching on Benghazi after “releasing the people from terrorism”, according to army spokesman Minad Hussein who has held a press conference. “Our raids,” he said “are obliging the terrorists to leave. We have freed Zawiya, Ugayla, Ras Lanuf and Brega and now moving forwards to free the entire region” ..

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

Libya: Romanian Mercenaries to Rescue Gaddafi?

Jurnalul National, 10 March 2011

“Romania exporting its warriors” to Libya, reveals Jurnalul National. Reporting that several Arabic newspapers have revealed the presence of Romanians among the mercenaries who are defending the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, the Bucharest daily wonders whether Romania is providing mercenaries around the globe. “This should come as no surprise, though, since more than 15,000 Romanian troops have participated in wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Their experience and contacts among foreign militaries [like their previous experience for the most part in the French Foreign Legion] have made them soldiers of choice for private security companies who recruit for conflict zones.”

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

Libya: Ship With Hundreds of Migrants 150 Miles From Augusta

(ANSAmed) — PALERMO, MARCH 14 — A ship named the ‘Mistral Express,’ which seems to have left from Tripoli yesterday afternoon with over 1800 migrants on board (mostly Moroccans), is about 150 miles from Augusta (SR). The harbour office is monitoring its route with electronic instruments. Patrol boats are on stand by and are ready to intervene if the ship enters into Italy’s territorial waters (within 12 miles). Reports from the harbour office indicate that if the ship heads towards Sicily it will not reach the island before 11pm. There are 1,836 people on board of different nationalities: 1,715 from Morocco, 39 from Libya, 35 from Algeria, 26 from Egypt, 7 from Tunisia, 6 from Mali, 4 from Sudan, 2 from Syria and 2 from Mauritania.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Gaddafi Advances, ‘Marching Towards Benghazi’

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, MARCH 14 — A blitzkrieg worthy of the name: in five days the armed forces under Muammar Gaddafi have retaken Zawiya west of Tripoli as well as oil wells, surrounded Misurata and are now on their way to Benghazi. Soldiers also say that the green flag has been raised in four areas of Tobruk. The Libyan government is now urging oil companies to come back to load up the crude oil and workers from plants to go back to work, saying that it is in favour of an African Union Commission coming to the country to help find a solution to the crisis which has been gripping the country for the past month.

In Misurata, which is now under siege, soldiers are negotiating a surrender with the “terrorists paid by foreigners”, while further to the east troops are advancing which their first target being Ajdabiya, which is about 250 kilometres from Benghazi and the closest objective after the retaking of Ras Lanuf and Marsa El Brega yesterday. The final destination is Benghazi, where the population “is being held hostage by a few terrorists threatening slaughter”, according to the military, for whom these “small groups” do not pose any sort of tactical problem.

And while in Tobruk, the last large city before the Egyptian border, the situation may flare up after the announced uprising of forces loyal to the government who have raised the flag in some areas, in Tripoli normality has been restored, with the compulsive traffic typical of any Arab metropolis, all shops open, people in the streets and a fairly discrete presence of the forces of order.

On the diplomatic front, Gaddafi’s government has received the support of some neighbouring countries, and called the majority-backed resolution of the Arab League — which urged the US Security Council to impose a no-fly zone in Libya — “unacceptable”. The League — which the leader’s son Seif Al-Islam has told to “go to hell” — has suspended Libya’s membership and declared — after the same was done by Gulf monarchies — that the Libyan government has lost all legitimacy.

The no-fly zone will be the centre of the mission by Hillary Clinton, who will be arriving in Cairo tomorrow. The US Secretary of State will be meeting with Egyptian military leaders as well as representatives of the Libyan opposition, who arrived in the Egyptian capital on Saturday to take part in a special meeting of the Arab League.

Heating up the situation even further yesterday was Al Qaeda, who through one of its leaders urged the rebels in Libya to continue their “struggle”. It is the first officially expressed position by the terrorist network under Osama Bin Laden since February 15, the beginning of the upheaval. Today’s declaration ended by confirming the government’s accusations: those in revolt are terrorists who have never advanced any political requests, are armed and have carried out killings because they want to destabilise the country and hand it over to the West, including those that Gaddafi never fails to mention: the Italian former colonial masters, to whom Libyans were once “slaves”.

“We are not using the sophisticated weaponry we have at our disposal,” army spokesman Milad Hussein Al Ghilani said yesterday, “and we will not use them ever against our people.” Journalists have been given gruesome videos of summary executions, decapitations and shreds of human flesh being used as trophies. “We’ll take you to other cities, to show you other barbaric acts,” the military has promised. All the way to Benghazi.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

An Open Letter to Harvey Weinstein

[Comments: WARNING: Graphic descriptions.]

On the same day that a family of five were being murdered in their home in Israel, Harvey Weinstein ran a self-congratulatory promotional piece for his company’s terrorist propaganda flick, Miral. The photos stand out. The fat smirking face of Harvey Weinstein contrasted with the sleeping baby, the smiling little boys and the earnest couple who were their parents. They are all dead, and a Harvey Weinstein lives on to smirk another day. So it is with perpetrators and victims. The innocent children and the fat ugly men who profit from trafficking in the narrative of their killers.

Harvey Weinstein denounces Peter King and urges him to go watch Miral. But perhaps it is Harvey Weinstein who should drive to a small town lost in the Samarian Mountains and retrace the steps of the murderers in the name of the nationalistic mythology that movies like Miral glamorize.

To fit himself through the living room window where the two terrorists entered, moving quietly in the dark, not seeing the six-year-old boy sleeping peacefully on the couch. That six-year-old boy who survived because, like so many other little boys during the Holocaust, the men who were coming to murder him went right past him without seeing him. The six-year-old boy who was being orphaned around the same time that Harvey Weinstein and his PR people were conferring on a final draft for their Miral puff piece.


If you want to know the real narrative, then put Miral on a shelf and ask where the Christians of the region have gone. Where have the Zoroastrians gone? Why are there so few left? The answer would make for a much better movie, but it is not a movie that you will ever make. It is not a movie that any theater would ever show. It is a story of bigotry and genocide. It is an old story and a new one. You can find its oldest chapters in the Koran, along with the graves of the Jews of what is today Saudi Arabia. Its latest chapters are being written in Europe, where Jews once again flee European cities, not from men in uniforms, but in long robes. And unless that narrative is understood, there will be no peace in the Holy Land, or anywhere else.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: Three Jewish Children

Ruth Fogel was in the bathroom when the Palestinian terrorists pounced on her husband Udi and their three-month-old daughter Hadas, slitting their throats as they lay in bed on Friday night in their home in Itamar.

The terrorists stabbed Ruth to death as she came out of the bathroom. With both parents and the newborn dead, they moved on to the other children, going into a bedroom where Ruth and Udi’s sons Yoav (11) and Elad (4) were sleeping. They stabbed them through their hearts and slit their throats.

The murderers apparently missed another bedroom where the Fogels’ other sons, eight-year-old Ro’i and two-year-old Yishai were asleep because they left them alive. The boys were found by their big sister, 12-year-old Tamar, when she returned home from a friend’s house two hours after her family was massacred…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Netanyahu: Palestinian Public Must Hear Abbas Condemn Itamar Attack

Prime Minister cites ‘great importance’ to Palestinian president’s declaration on Israel Radio that murder of family was despicable, immoral and inhuman, but says such expression of condemnation cannot be heard by Israelis alone.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to express to the Palestinian public his condemnation of the deadly attack at a West Bank settlement over the weekend.

In an interview with Israel Radio earlier Monday, Abbas called the stabbing of five members of a family at the settlement of Itamar a despicable, immoral and inhuman act.

[A THREE MONTH OLD INFANT KNIFED TO DEATH! Yet, Abu Mudhen cannot bring himself to condemn this act on Palestinian radio nor censure a Government Minister who suggests that this is the work of Israeli settlers themselves. Who here is unsure that this same Minister will not be celebrating this glorious victory by Palestinian forces once the cameras and microphones are turned off?

Israel must learn to ignore world opinion and simply flush the Gaza Strip into the Sinai while pushing out the West Bank into Jordan. Only then will there ever be peace within Israel’s borders. — Z]

“A human being is not capable of something like that,” Abbas told the radio. “Scenes like these — the murder of infants and children and a woman slaughtered — cause any person endowed with humanity to hurt and to cry.”

Netanyahu responded to the interview by saying it was not enough for Abbas to express such condemnation on Israeli radio — he must also take it to the Palestinian airwaves.

“I hear Abu Mazen [Abbas] condemn the murder in Itamar on Israel Radio this morning,” Netanyahu told members of his Likud faction at the Knesset. “His words hold great importance in my eyes, but it is more important that he say these things on Palestinian radio, not just Israel.”

Netayahu added that at the same time Abbas spoke with Israel Radio, a Palestinian minister indicated that the murder seemed to have been “carried out by settlers and the State of Israel to evade commitment to the peace process.”

Expressions such as these are reminiscent of the responses heard immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks, said Netanyahu. “It would have been bad had it been said by just some guy off the street, but this was said by a minister in the Palestinian Authority’s government, and to my great sadness, he was not the only one to say it.”
[emphasis added]

Following the Friday night attack in Itamar, Netanyahu had repeatedly called on the Palestinians to condemn the murder explicitly, expressing dissatisfaction at the PA’s immediate statements to that effect.

In his interview on Monday, Abbas said the Palestinian Authority would have prevented the attack — in which five members of the Fogel family were stabbed to death by two Palestinian terrorists — if it would have had prior information about it. He noted that he agreed with Netanyahu’s proposal to launch a joint investigation into the matter.

Abbas added that that he does not expect a wave of terror attacks in the immediate future and stressed that he would not allow it.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Photos of Fogel Family Murder


Photos of the murder of the Fogel family in the town of Itamar, north of Jerusalem, on March 11, 2011 by Arab terrorists.

These photos were released by the family. They have given full permission for their use in order to report on the horrific reality of murdering children and babies in their sleep, “simply because they are Jewish.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

PNA: EU: 20 Mln to Wages and Salaries in February

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MARCH 10 — The European Union has provided a contribution of 20 million euros to help the Palestinian Authority pay the February salaries and pensions of almost 85,000 palestinian public service employees and pensioners, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

According to the Enpi website (, this contribution, channeled through the european mechanism for support to the palestinians (PEGASE), is part of the initial 100 million euros financial package for the palestinian territories in 2011, which the European Union agreed to frontload in order to help the Palestinian Authority continue providing essential public services to the people.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Bahrain Royal Family Welcomes Saudi Troops to Face Down Violent Protests

Opposition group says deployment of Saudi troops amounts to declaration of war

Saudi Arabia has moved decisively to bolster Bahrain’s embattled royal family, sending military forces across the causeway linking the two kingdoms after violent weekend pro-democracy protests by Shia demonstrators all but overwhelmed police.

Although the deployment on Monday was at Bahrain’s request and came under the guise of the Gulf Co-operation Council, whose other members also sent troops, it marked another stage in Saudi Arabia’s reluctant emergence as the key regional policeman, at a time when the Arab world faces unprecedented turmoil.

Confirming local media reports, Nabeel al-Hamer, a former Bahrain information minister, said the reinforcements were already in place. “Forces from the Gulf Co-operation Council have arrived in Bahrain to maintain order and security,” he said.

“GCC forces will arrive in Bahrain today to take part in maintaining law and order,” the Gulf Daily News reported. “Their mission will be limited to protecting vital facilities, such as oil, electricity and water installations, and financial and banking facilities.”

The deployment followed clashes in Bahrain on Sunday that injured dozens of people in what was one of the most violent demonstrations since troops killed seven protesters last month.

Responding to demands for more democracy and an end to sectarian discrimination, Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, has promised national dialogue, enhanced powers for parliament, electoral reform, and a nationwide referendum on any new deal.

But opponents, including the largest Shia party, Wefaq, remain sceptical. Wefaq said today it had held talks with the prince about a national dialogue. But it deplored the GCC intervention, reportedly saying a deployment of Saudi troops would be an occupation and amount to a declaration of war.

Anticipating further trouble, Britain has advised against all travel to Bahrain and warned British nationals to stay at home until further notice.

[Return to headlines]

Global Free Press Outcry is ‘Defamation, ‘ Say Turkish Prime Minister

The foreign press has been contributing to a “defamation campaign” against Turkey with its inaccurate coverage of recent debate on press freedom, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday.

“We notice that the debate started recently in Turkey about the freedom of the press has moved into international platforms, where it has been turned into a systematic defamation campaign against Turkey through unrealistic news and comments,” Erdogan said in his opening speech at the Leaders of Change Summit being held in Istanbul on Monday and Tuesday.

The prime minister called on the foreign press to properly analyze what is going on in Turkey and reflect these analyses in the international arena. “For we know there is no media supporting state coups in developed countries and democracies,” he said.

Both Turkish and foreign media outlets have picked up the press-freedom story following the arrest earlier this month of reporters Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik after raids on their homes and those of other journalists as part of the ongoing probe into the alleged Ergenekon gang, which is accused of plotting to topple the government.

Characterizing operations made under the full oversight of the judiciary as moves to restrict press freedom is the greatest injustice that can be done to Turkey, Erdogan said. “The Turkish press has reached very advanced standards in the last eight years, through our reforms and our courageous steps, thus bringing to [the country’s] agenda what seemed to be unspeakable, undisputable, unprintable,” he said.

According to Erdogan, the 27 journalists currently kept under arrest in prison are behind bars because they are suspected of serious crimes such as being members of terrorist organizations or having carried out joint activities with such groups.

In his speech, the prime minister also responded to the European Parliament’s adoption Wednesday of a report containing sharp criticism of Turkey on press-freedom issues.

“I believe it would be fair [to ask] institutions such as the European Parliament that conduct research and prepare reports on Turkey to be competent on the essence of the issues they give opinions on,” Erdogan said.

Turkey takes into consideration any structural criticism addressed to it and tries sincerely to fulfill all its obligations regarding such criticism, the prime minister said, while adding: “But we also care that criticism is kept clear from evil-minded intentions and prejudices and being used by purposeful campaigns.”

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

Iran Creates Cyber Army

(AGI) Tehran — Iran has announced it is to create a cyber-army to tackle attacks from hackers and to attack “enemy websites”.

The cyber battalion will include amy personnel, students, religious scholars and above all people chosen from the Basiji militia, Islamic para-military groups created by Ayatollah Khomeini after the 1979 revolution.

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

Italians Offer Turkey Partnership on New Military Aircraft Plan

AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, has a multibillion-dollar contract to lead joint production for the Turkish Army’s T129 attack helicopters. AA photo.

Italian defense giant Finmeccanica, a top international group operating in Turkey’s defense and aerospace industries, is proposing a partnership to meet Turkey’s future military aircraft requirements, a top company official has said.

“In the short and medium term, for example, Turkey already has or will soon have requirements for passenger and military air transport and latest-generation trainer aircraft, for which the Finmeccanica Group companies offer themselves as partners for national companies,” Finmeccanica commercial director Paolo Pozzessere told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview earlier this week.

AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, has already secured multibillion-dollar contracts to lead the joint production of the Turkish Army’s T129 attack helicopters, a Turkish version of the A129. Finmeccanica’s Telespazio is also building Turkey’s first military satellite.

AgustaWestland is competing with the United States’ Sikorsky Aircraft for a Turkish program to build 109 new-generation utility helicopters in a deal worth up to $4 billion. Turkey’s decision-making body on defense procurement may announce the winner later this month.

MBDA, a Finmeccanica-related company, is also in competition with U.S., Russian and Chinese rivals for Turkey’s program for the acquisition of long-range anti-missile and anti-aircraft defense systems in a contract that would also be worth billions of dollars. Turkey is expected to announce its selection at the end of this year or in 2012.

Analysts have predicted Turkey will spend tens of billions of dollars on various requirements for its military aircraft over the next 15 years.

Finmeccanica’s goal

Pozzessere said Finmeccanica’s main objective was to maintain its current leading position in the Turkish market and to use Turkey’s potential to increase penetration into countries in the region.

He also said Finmeccanica’s strategic objective in the Turkish market was to reach a global agreement with the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation, a top Turkish defense group.

“We cannot fail to dedicate special attention to this group, which is very similar to our own,” Pozzessere said. “Today, we are looking to focus on defense electronics, where we regard Turkish companies, particularly those of the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation, as our main partners.”

Pozzessere said “this model can also be found in our proposals relating to air defense and antimissile land systems, where we are able to offer highly competitive systems and products.” His remarks referred to MBDA’s participation in the Turkish air defense competition.

Pozzessere said Finmeccanica and local Turkish companies could also jointly cooperate in international competitions.

“The defense electronics segment should be developed further by cooperating with local industries in international tenders,” he said. “Our companies have long had production agreements with small- and medium-sized Turkish firms that combine excellent quality with competitive prices.”

The Turkish Armed Forces Foundation owns majority stakes in the country’s top defense companies, including the aerospace firm Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI; military electronics firm Aselsan; software company Havelsan; and rocket manufacturer Roketsan. These four are among Turkey’s five biggest defense companies. AgustaWestland is already working with TAI on the T129 program.

Finmeccanica S.p.A., meanwhile, is the second-largest industrial group and the largest of the high-tech industrial groups based in Italy. It works in the fields of defense, aerospace, security, transport and energy and is partially owned by the Italian government, with the Treasury holding about 30 percent of Finmeccanica’s shares. In 2009, its global revenue exceeded $18 billion.

Top Finmeccanica companies also include aircraft makers Alenia Aeronautica and Alenia Aermacchi; space company Thales Alenia Thales; and electronics manufacturer Selex.

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

Revolts: Bahrain: GCC Armed Forces Expected Today

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MARCH 14 — Contingents of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) armed forces will be arriving in Bahrain today to help the armed forces of the oil-rich emirate to ensure respect for public order after particularly violent days shook the capital, Manama.

The intervention forces of the GCC, reports the daily paper Gulf Daily News, will have as its main mission the protection of strategic infrastructure such as oil facilities and water and electricity stations.

GCC forces, which were created in 2009 by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman to respond to regional crises, will also be deployed to protect banking and financial institutes.

At the end of the most violent day seen since the beginning of the uprising three weeks ago, two parliamentary groups — Asala and the Independent Bloc (the second largest with 12 seats after the Shia Al Wefaq with 17) — have asked Emir Hamdan Bin Eisa Al Khalifa to impose a curfew and apply martial law for at least three months. The representatives have also requested immediate army intervention to protect the population, the government and strategic institutions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Suicide Bomber Kills 33 in Recruitment Centre

(AGI) Kabul — At least 33 died and dozens were wounded in a suicide attack at an army recruitment centre in Kunduz. Most of the dead were volunteers wanting to enlist.

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

Far East

Cover Up of Fukushima Chain Reaction Underway

All the nuclear reactors at the earthquake stricken Fukushima nuclear plant are under threat of melting down and exploding in a chain reaction that will signify the world’s worst ever nuclear disaster and send clouds of radioactive particles hurtling towards the United States — that’s the scale of the crisis facing Japan as officials admit for the first time that three nuclear reactors are already in a meltdown.

While the mainstream media continues to argue over the definition of a “meltdown” while unquestionably regurgitating the dubious claim of Japanese officials that the two massive explosions witnessed at the plant were caused by pressurized hydrogen, radioactive isotopes cesium-137 and iodine-121 have been detected by helicopters flying 160km (100 miles) away from the nuclear plant, which can only mean one thing, according to the Seattle Times: “One or more of the reactor cores is badly damaged and at least partially melted down.”

After claiming for three days that the explosions did not damage reactor cores and downplaying the severity of the situation, Japanese officials have now been forced to admit the obvious, that nuclear fuel rods in three reactors are melting. Given the sequence of events, it is entirely probable that all six reactor sites will now go into total meltdown and start spewing radioactive particles into the atmosphere that threaten not only Japanese citizens but also those living on the west coast of the United States.

The two explosions have already compromised the surrounding facilities. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from a 20-km exclusion zone around the plant which keeps growing. Latest reports suggest that the exclusion zone is already at 50km and expanding. Casualties in the immediate vicinity of the nuclear facilities are likely to be far higher than reported.

Japanese authorities, presumably in an effort to prevent hysteria, have engaged in a cover-up of the true scale of the Fukushima crisis from start to finish, and they have been largely aided by a mass media that has slavishly repeated their lies without question, despite the fact that there is a long history of covering up nuclear catastrophes in Japan. This process has only put the Japanese people in more danger.

Amidst the disgusting spectacle of a castrated and inept corporate mass media failing to ask hard questions about the true scale of the Fukushima crisis, a handful of nuclear experts are attempting to blow the whistle.

[Return to headlines]

Japanese Death Toll to Far Exceed 10,000

Tens of thousands believed to have died as result of tsunami and huge earthquake that triggered it

The death toll from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami is expected to exceed 10,000 as local and international rescue teams search through the ruins of north-eastern coastal cities for survivors of last Friday’s disaster.

Two thousand bodies have been found on the shores of Miyagi prefecture, which suffered the brunt of the damage, according to the Kyodo news agency.

Despite the deployment of 100,000 Japanese troops and more than 500 foreign rescue specialists, the relief operation is being hampered by the damage done to the country’s transport infrastructure, with roads and rail, power and ports crippled across much of the disaster region.

Officials say at least 10,000 people in more than a quarter of Japan’s 47 prefectures are likely to have been killed in the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that followed it.

According to the Japanese media, the provisional death toll is as follows:…

[Return to headlines]

Japan’s Chernobyl

Fukushima Marks the End of the Nuclear Era

Japan was still reeling from its largest recorded earthquake when an explosion struck the Fukushima nuclear plant on Saturday, followed by a second blast on Monday. Despite government assurances, there are fears of another Chernobyl. The incident has sparked a heated political debate in Germany and looks likely to end the dream of cheap and safe nuclear power.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Japan Nuclear Plant Rocked by Another Explosion

A buildup of hydrogen gas causes another explosion, destroying the outer shell of a reactor at the quake-damaged Fukushima No. 1 plant. The blast comes after the pumping of seawater stalled, exposing the fuel rods to air and increasing the risk of radiation being released. Death toll continues to rise as 2,000 bodies are found in a single province

Reporting from Tokyo and Natori, Japan A hydrogen explosion Tuesday morning destroyed the outer building of a quake-damaged Unit 2 nuclear reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. Engineers had been struggling overnight to cool the nuclear core and stave off a meltdown that could release radioactivity over a wide area. It was the third reactor at the site whose external structure had been damaged by such an explosion.

Neither of the reactor containment vessels of Units 1 and 3 had been damaged in the earlier explosion and there is no evidence so far to suggest the vessel of no. 2 had been damaged either.

Officials had feared the possibility of such an explosion because the fuel core had been exposed to air for more than two hours, allowing it to overheat. When the zirconium cladding on the fuel rods was subsequently exposed to seawater used for cooling, it released hydrogen gas, which built up to dangerous levels in the plant and was most likely ignited by a spark.

Japan’s nuclear crisis had already taken a frightening turn for the worse after officials acknowledged that fuel rods at the Fukushima No. 1 reactor had been exposed to air, heightening the risk of an uncontrolled release of radiation into the environment.

In extraordinary televised scenes, three executives from the utility that runs the crippled complex in Fukushima prefecture, about 150 miles north of Tokyo, acknowledged that pumps funneling seawater into one of the reactors had halted temporarily, a major setback in efforts to cool the superheated core.

“We are trying to reopen the valve,” said one of the officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. as they passed the microphone back and forth among themselves. “The fuel rods are exposed. We are trying to get the pressure down and pump water into the pressure vessel again.”

It was the gravest development to date in the crisis brought by Friday’s devastating temblor, which triggered a tsunami that wreaked massive destruction on the nation’s northeastern coast. More than half a million people have been displaced, and the death toll is widely expected to soar into the tens of thousands.

About 2,000 bodies were discovered Monday at two sites in a single prefecture, or state, one of several pummeled by the earthquake, the worst in Japan’s recorded history. Whole coastal villages were wiped from the map, and a full assessment of the extent of deaths and damage was expected to take weeks. Meanwhile, hardship and privation in the quake zone grew, with tens of thousands of people spending a fourth night in chilly shelters.

In the parallel crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi )plant in the town of Okuma, fuel rods twice were not covered by the seawater being used to cool down the reactor, resulting in exposure for about 140 minutes, the Kyodo News agency reported. Prolonged exposure of fuel rods to air can cause them to heat up and melt at least partly. If they melt completely, they could burn through the containment vessel, causing release of radioactive material into the environment.

Officials at Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety agency were cited by Kyodo as saying that, even in a worst-case scenario, the three troubled reactors at Fukushima No.1 had been depressurized by the release of radioactive steam, which would decrease the destructive effect of any breach.

Japan’s nuclear crisis began Friday soon after the earthquake, when the huge tsunami destroyed seawalls and pushed far inland, damaging or destroying pumps and generators crucial to safe operations at the complex. The cooling systems of two reactors were seriously compromised, leading to hydrogen explosions on Saturday and again Monday in their outer containment buildings.

The current problem is focused on another reactor at the Fukushima No.1 plant, where a 12-mile evacuation zone was established, forcing nearly 200,000 thousand people to flee.

Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, had said earlier that the hydrogen explosion at the third reactor posed little threat of a large-scale release of radiation — an assertion that drew anger and skepticism from some in the earthquake zone.

On Monday, there were signs that the legendary patience and politeness of Japanese in the face of such adversity was wearing thin. A widely held sentiment among disaster victims and millions more who haven’t been directly touched is resentment at what many feel is the lack of clear, direct information from government officials on the state of the nuclear reactors in Fukushima…

[Return to headlines]

Japan Faces Prospect of Nuclear Catastrophe as Employees Leave Plant

Japan faced the likelihood of a catastrophic nuclear accident Tuesday morning, as an explosion at the most crippled of three reactors at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Station damaged its crucial steel containment structure, emergency workers were withdrawn from the plant, and much larger emissions of radioactive materials appeared imminent, according to official statements and industry executives informed about the developments.

Prime Minsiter Naoto Kan of Japan was preparing to make a televised address to the nation at 11 a.m. Tokyo time.

The sharp deterioration came after government officials said the containment structure of the No. 2 reactor, the most seriously damaged of three reactors at the Daichi plant, had suffered damage during an explosion shorly after 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Somali Pirates Cut Ransoms to Clear Hijacked Ships

MOGADISHU, March 13 (Reuters) — Somali pirates said on Sunday they would lower some of their ransom demands to get a faster turnover of ships they hijack in the Indian Ocean.

Armed pirate gangs, who have made millions of dollars capturing ships as far south as the Seychelles and eastwards towards India, said they were holding too many vessels and needed a quicker handover to generate more income.

“I believe there is no excuse for taking high ransoms. At least each of our groups holds ships now,” pirate Hussein told Reuters from Hobyo on the Somalian coast. He said the pirates were holding more than 30 ships at the moment.

“We have lowered the ransom only for the ships we have used to hijack other ships. We sometimes release these ships free of charge for they generate more (money). But we shall not lower the ransom for the bulk ships we are sure can bring bulk money.”

Using captured merchant vessels as launchpads for new hijackings, the pirates have grown bolder despite a loosely coordinated global response, and insurance premiums for shipping lines have rocketed.

Pirates hold seized ships for an average of up to 150 days before freeing them for ransoms, some as high as $9.5 million for the release of Samho Dream, a South Korean oil supertanker. [ID:nLDE7210Y5]

Abdullahi, another pirate, said any decrease in ransom would be calculated by the ship’s value, its cargo and the length of time it had been held.

“We have changed our previous strategies. We have altered our operations and ransom deals with modern business deals,” he said from the port town of Haradhere.

“We want to free ships within a short period of time instead of keeping them for a long time and incurring more expenses in guarding them. We have to free them at a lower ransom so that we can hijack more ships.”…

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]


France’s Le Pen Visits Italian Arrival Point for Thousands of North Africans

Rome, 14 March (AKI) — Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front party, on Monday was greeted by protesters as she arrived on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa where she was toured a detention centre for illegal immigrants.

About a dozen protesters gathered outside a detention centre armed with signs in French and Italian. one banner read: “Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood, even for those without documents.”

“Madame Le Pen is a xenophobe, racist and neo-Fascist, and we don’t want her here,” said Giacomo Sterlazzo, a demonstrator.

Around 9,000 migrants have arrived on Lampedusa since popular uprisings in the Middle East swept the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt from power after decades of rule. Other protests in the region are prompting authoritarian leaders to pledge reform, while demonstrations escalated into civil war in Libya.

“ Receiving the immigrants means opening ruthless competition in the job market,” Le Pen said in an interview with Italian newspaper Secolo XIX

The migrants who have made it to Lampedusa — around 113 kilometres from Tunisia and 205 kilometres south of Sicily — aboard boats have been held a detention centre before being transferred to other locations in Italy. Almost all of them are Tunisian men, but the Italian government has warned that an immigrant “wave of biblical proportions” can arrive amid violence in Libya.

“If I listened only to my heart, I would throw myself in the water to save them (the refugees). But we would all drown because my boat is too fragile,” she told French news agency Agence France Presse.

Le Pen in January took the helm of the National Front party from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen. In a recent survey on candidates for national elections due in 2012 she polled higher than incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy.

If elections were held today she would win 23 per cent of the vote, ahead of Sarkozy, who would get 21 per cent, according to the poll by Harris Interactive

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

Hundreds of Tunisian Immigrants Wait to Set Sail for Sicily

(AGI) Zarzis- Hundreds of young Tunisians in Zarzis are waiting for calm seas to depart for Lampedusa, Sicily. Whilst the refugee emergency continues in Ras Jdir close to the border with Libya, 70 kilometers away the mass of Tunisian youths anxiously await better weather in the coastal city, Zarzis.

“After five days of rough seas,” says Issam, an immigrant smuggler, “we’re waiting for the first good night for the barges’ departure, because tensions are starting to be felt in the homes where young Tunisians are being crowded together.” .

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

UK: Finally, British Workers Come First: Jobs for Migrants Slashed by Half in Visa Clampdown

The number of jobs open to migrants from outside the European Union is to be halved, ministers will announce today.

Foreigners are currently able to obtain work permits for around 500,000 posts that bosses say cannot be filled by British or EU workers.

But from April that will fall to 230,000 when non-graduate jobs are taken off the Home Office ‘shortage occupation list’.

Non-EU beauty salon managers, estate agents, florists, pipe fitters, steel erectors and welders will be among those barred.

The Home Office has commissioned an expert review of all the remaining categories on the list.

If the Migration Advisory Committee finds there are enough unemployed British workers with the required skills, tens of thousands more posts could be closed.


Officials estimate around 65 per cent of the 8,400 work permits issued last year to workers on the shortage list would not have qualified under the new rules.

The shake-up is part of efforts to cut net migration — the number that migration adds to the population every year — to the tens of thousands by 2015. Last year it hit 226,000.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Vicar Arrested and Church Searched as Police Probe Hundreds of ‘Sham’ Marriages

Police probing hundreds of possible sham marriages have arrested a vicar, it emerged today.

Rev Canon Dr Patrick John Magumba, 58, was taken into custody after officers swooped on his home in Rochdale.

Worshippers were told about the arrest during the service at St Peter’s Church in Newbold yesterday morning. The vicar is now on bail.

He has been suspended on full pay as the UK Border Agency investigates allegations he staged bogus weddings to help people gets visas.

The Ugandan, is currently team vicar for the South Rochdale Team Ministry and oversees three churches in the area — St Peter’s, St Luke’s in Deeplish, and St Mary’s in Balderstone.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Former Neo-Nazi Becomes Leftist After Sex Change

Before undergoing a sex change to become a woman, Monika Strub was a member of Germany’s neo-Nazi NPD party. But ten years later, she is running for Baden-Württemberg’s state parliament for the socialist Left party. “I have completely broken with the NPD,” Strub told German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung this week, referring to the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party (NPD). “I am a true socialist.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Interview With One of the Main Thinkers Behind the Sexual Revolution

German Sexologist Volkmar Sigusch Was One of the Main Thinkers Behind the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s.

SPIEGEL: You are viewed as having been one of the main theorists behind the sexual revolution of the late 1960s. How profoundly did our sex lives change at the time?

Sigusch: I will always be referred to as a theorist, but I was only a fellow traveller with a degree. The sexual revolution produced cultural convulsions that were unparalleled in the 20th century. The female sex was historically sexualized and required to have orgasms for the first time. Sexual “deviants,” particularly homosexuals, achieved partial emancipation.

SPIEGEL: Free love produces free people and a free society — that was the idea, at least. But it didn’t work.

Sigusch: At the time, the idea that the entire, despised society would come crashing down if things became liberated sexually seemed to make sense. But, in truth, a “King Sex” was set up. And the things that could be derived from the sexual sphere — happiness, endless fun and the end of capitalism — were grossly overestimated.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Killer Jailed for Life to Have £45,000 Sex-Change Operation ‘Funded by the Taxpayer’

A man who killed a prostitute after she mocked his performance is to have a £45,000 sex-change operation in prison funded by the taxpayer.

Matthew Richardson, 55, stabbed 13st grandmother Margaret Bolingbroke, 65, in a frenzied attack after paying her for sex 25 years ago.

He was jailed for life for the murder in Brighton and was most recently being contained at Blantyre House jail in Goudhurst, Kent.

But it has emerged that the lifer is to undergo hormone treatment as he builds up to the costly operation which will be funded through the taxpayer.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]