Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110508

Financial Crisis
»Greece: Troika Targets Private Sector
»ABC News Needs New Religion Correspondent
»Bin Laden’s Anti-US Strategy
»Columbia U. Awards Top Journalism Prize to Al Jazeera
»LA Protesters Say Imam Rauf Plays Taqiyya
»Muslim Group: Community College Speaker Spreads Hate
»Roadblocks to the US Passport
»Treasure Trove of Materials Seized From Bin Laden’s Hideout Reveal Terror Attack Plans Against US Big Cities
Europe and the EU
»Belgium-Netherlands: Common Army to Battle Budgetary Crisis?
»Berlusconi: Sovereignty Now in the Hands of Leftist Judges
»Brawl Forces Norwegian Plane to Make Unscheduled Landing
»Chilling Al-Qaeda Email Sent to Undercover Reporter Details How Extremists Plan to Strike Britain With Mumbai-Style Terror Attack
»Germany: Farms Getting Bigger and Fewer, Figures Show
»Germany: Islamist Preacher Ditches Prayer for Bin Laden
»Green Energy — But Not in My Back Yard!
»Italian Politics: Coalition Troubles
»Italy: The Army Patrols Streets in Naples for Waste Emergency
»Italy: Lombard Vineyard Castelveder Launches New White Wine
»Italy: Indictments Asked for Berlusconi ‘Sex Procurement’ Trio
»Lega Euro MP Says Naples is Foul, Not Worthy of Italy
»More and More Foreign Billionaires in the UK
»More Swiss Train in Islamic Militant Camps
»Netherlands: PVV Drops Mosque Ban in Limburg
»One Spanish Person Out of 5 Has Esoteric Beliefs
»Spain: Civil Servant to Decide Order of Newborn Baby Surnames
»Telecom Italia Profit Falls as Competition Increases
»UK: Nicki Pike Describes How an Affair With One of the 7/7 Bombers Nearly Cost Her Life
»UK: Now Muslim Militants Target Prince Harry: Outrage After Extremists Post Chilling Online Hate Video
»UK: Police Pay Muslim With Links to 7/7 Leader to Teach Them How to Fight Terror
»Croatia: Remaining War Crimes Fugitives Must be Arrested Chief UN Prosecutor Says
North Africa
»Cairo: Killed in Violence Between Muslims and Copts
»Cairo’s Copts Organize Militias for Self-Defense
»Clashes Between Copts and Muslims in Cairo, 9 Dead
»Egyptian Coptic Youth Protect Cathedral During Pope’s Sermon
»Libyan Rebels Want Hatred-Instigating Regime TV Black-Out
»Libya: Tripoli: Rebel Fund Plan Like Piracy
»Muslims Attack Christians in Egypt, 12 Killed, 232 Injured
»Public Libyan TV Shows Mass Surrender of Rebels in Misrata
»Sahel Countries Ink Anti-Al-Qaeda Pact, Press
»Tunisia: Former Minister Threatens Coup at Islamist Win
»Vatican: War Against Libya a Reckless Outrage
Middle East
»Dissident Says Syria Uses Torture After Iran’s Example
South Asia
»Kazakhstan is the Leading Supplier of Uranium to World Giants
»Pakistan: Bin Laden Killing ‘Second Biggest’ National Tragedy
»Shot in the Back by the Taliban: Girl, Seven, Is Tiniest Victim of Wave of Insurgent Attacks in Afghanistan
»Uzbekistan: Protestant Leader Arrested for Importing Religious Books and Cds
Far East
»China/Arab League Build Ties: Encirclement of the West Advances
»Japan, After March 11
Australia — Pacific
»Inverbrackie a ‘Powder Keg’, Say Police, Amid Claims Violent Incidents Are Being Covered Up
»Migrants: Clandestines Land in Calabria

Financial Crisis

Greece: Troika Targets Private Sector

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 6 — The Greek private sector, where wages already fell by 20% with the implementation of flexible working hours and the replacement of collective contracts by personal contracts between company and worker, is now targeted by the “troika” (EU, IMF and ECB) which is on a mission in Athens since Tuesday.

Goal of the troika mission is to make sure that the agreement signed a year ago with Greece on a 110 billion euro loan is correctly applied and to pave the way for the arrival of officials of the involved institutions. Now the troika insists on a wider application of flexible forms of labour in order to further reduce labour costs in the country.

Meanwhile the European experts and officials of the Labour and Welfare Ministry have reached a technical agreement on a special financing for the country’s welfare institute (IKA) and labour agency (OAED). Previously the troika opposed this move, claiming that the increase in unemployment is not high enough to justify additional funding to the two agencies. Based on the agreement, IKA will receive 600 million euros and OAED 500 million from the State budget. The political aspect of the issue will be discussed next week in a meeting between the Finance Minister and the troika officials, because the question where the necessary funds will have to come from still has to be resolved.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


ABC News Needs New Religion Correspondent

According to the man ABC News relies on for religious analysis, it’s impossible to say whether Osama bin Laden was “evil.” Father Edward Beck, the network’s religion correspondent, appeared with Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday and offered moral equivalence on the subject of the terrorist’s death.

When the O’Reilly Factor anchor pressed Beck on whether bin Laden truly represented malevolence, Beck replied, “That’s not for me to judge. His actions were certainly were evil.”

O’Reilly pressed Beck on this point, prompting the ABC News analyst to assert, “No, I think that’s up to God to ultimately decide who’s evil.” After asserting that the United States shouldn’t celebrate bin Laden’s death “like a Super Bowl,”

Beck compared American happiness over the terrorist’s death to Middle East examples, such as celebrating on 9/11: “Yes, but when you watch these people celebrating, how does it make us any better than those in the Mid East who celebrate when America falls?”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Bin Laden’s Anti-US Strategy

According to materials in the cache of documents recovered in the U.S. Navy SEAL raid that brought down the terror leader, bin Laden planned to specifically recruit African-American Muslim converts to carry out attacks on the homeland. The goal was to not only kill and maim in the actual operations, but to create a divisiveness that would cause more damage than al Qaeda could ever hope to do on their own.

“Because there were many blacks in the U.S., he wanted to capitalize on them to further the jihadi cause,” one U.S. official told ABC News. “Al Qaeda sees the black convert community as ripe for recruiting.”

While it has long been known that radical preachers and some prison imams have targeted the convert community for jihad recruitment, the references show core al Qaeda’s keen interest in the tactic.

“This is pretty heady stuff,” another person briefed on the material said.

But it’s also strategy that civil rights activist and President of the National Action Network Rev. Al Sharpton said was “radical” and outrageous.

“I think it would be the most cynical abuse of African-Americans and America in general,” Sharpton told ABC News. “Remember, Osama bin Laden killed blacks, whites, Latinos, everyone on 9/11… For him to use race relations in the U.S. in a way to support his terroristic barbarism is the absolute height of cynicism.”

brahim Hooper, National Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said those incidents are not indicative of the American people and any belief by bin Laden that he could prompt widespread violence in such a way between any groups was a “fantasy.”

“I think the viewpoint reflects more of a Neo-Nazi, white supremacist outlook on American whites than anything based in reality,” he said. “I think it’s fantasy based on a fundamental misunderstanding of American society.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Columbia U. Awards Top Journalism Prize to Al Jazeera

Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture at the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, told he wasn’t surprised by the selection.

“It isn’t surprising that the liberal and Soros-funded Columbia Journalism School is also fond of the anti-American Al Jazeera,” Gainor said in a statement.

“Promoting Al Jazeera has become a new media cause célèbre, especially at The New York Times where criticism of America is a badge of honor. But awarding a state-funded propaganda network that supports radicals in the Arab Street cheapens what is left of the Columbia Journalism School name.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

LA Protesters Say Imam Rauf Plays Taqiyya

Imam Feisal Rauf of the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy spoke at U.C.L.A. on Wednesday, May 4, 2011. He was invited/sponsored by the Levantine Cultural Center, an “independent,” non-profit organization based in L.A., which “presents the arts and cultures of the Middle East and North Africa,” according to their website.

(Not the “arts and cultures” of Jewish Israelis or Lebanese Christians I presume, since on their site they state one of their goals as “Outreach to mainstream and alternative media, with more in-depth and often positive information about Arab/Muslim cultures.”)

U.C.L.A. (University of California, Los Angeles) is the site where the 13th annual Islamic Conference, sponsored by the Muslim Students’ Association (M.S.A.), took place in mid-January, which I have been blogging about since.

You can read my other blogs (“Locals Petition to Abolish Muslim Students’ Association at U.C.L.A”) and (“U.C.L.A. Jihad-Pledge Muslims Will Stay So Far”) for reference. (Find them here or Google them)

A Calabasas, CA Chapter of ACT for America, a watchdog group monitoring radical Islam and founded by Lebanese Christian Brigitte Gabriel, sent a petition with more than 1,000 signatures to the Chancellor of U.C.L.A., after the conference. The petition demanded the abolishment of the M.S.A. It was rejected.

ACT Calabasas, led by Chapter Leader Shari Goodman, showed up at U.C.L.A. to protest the Imam’s lecture before it started. The “mature” protestors passed out a DVD about the Ground Zero Mosque and distributed a reader called “Six Suicidal Assumptions about Islam.” Representatives from ACT Los Angeles, Stop The Islamization of America (SIOA), and American Freedom Defense Initiative, (AFDI) also participated in the protest.


One ACT member described his experience at the protest this way in an email: “Our pushback was met with indifference.” He said there were a few heated discussions, but no one paid much attention to their tables or questioned their right to protest. He also referred to Rauf’s lecture as “a smooth let’s-all-love-one-another address.”

The Imam and lecture host Reza Aslan, (A writing professor, author, and apologist for Islam), tried to present themselves as voices of “moderate Islam.” Aslan is affiliated with the Levantine Cultural Center. Apparently only a few questions were permitted during the question and answer period, and they were carefully regulated by Aslan.

The protest and lecture were taped by Democast T.V. In an taped interview, Shari Goodman said she believed that Rauf was practicing “Taqiyya,” a Koran-based method of deception when trying to manipulate non-believers. (Hiding your true intentions or feelings) This practice is tied to another method known as “stealth jihad” or “soft jihad.” It’s a tactic that uses mainstream western institutions like courts and universities to infiltrate host societies, and slowly sway them toward Islamic law and culture.

Many U.C.L.A. students and L.A. residents have Persian or Middle Eastern friends who fit into a strange cultural category. These friends are highly assimilated. Their lives have more to do with BMWs and shish kabob, then Sharia (Islamic Law) or foreign policy. I wouldn’t refer to them as “moderate Muslims,” but rather as secular materialists with emotional ties to the Middle East and Islam.

They are people born of Islamic descent who have embraced L.A. life. They’re basically the same as the modern Persians we saw demonstrating in the streets of Iran recently. I’m not saying they are pro-America, or pro-Israel, but they want a normal Western life.

Having such friends, may make it difficult for some non-Muslim Americans to condemn Rauf and his ilk. They’re afraid they would be condemning their secular Persian, Turkish, or Syrian friends from their biology class, or their bowling league, whom they perceive as “moderates.”

I have a friend from a Muslim country. Out of guilt she speaks proudly of her birth country and her culture, but she married a Christian, she celebrates Christmas, she is liberated, does not fast on Ramadan, nor eat Halal (Muslim Kosher) meat, and she loves sexual humor.

I have another friend from another Muslim country, who was educated in England, goes to Jewish weddings frequently, and is your basic suburban soccer dad. Imam Rauf is a practicing Muslim. I don’t know that these people would have much in common with him, and I don’t know if they support the Ground Zero Mosque.

What does Rauf want? If you believe those who are very suspicious of him, like ACT for America, then he is practicing “soft jihad,” with the goal of a much stronger Muslim influence on this country in the future, or worse. He’s been quoted referring to all the Muslims that America has killed, and blaming terrorism on America’s meddling in the Middle East. He is also affiliated with the sponsors of the Gaza Flotilla.

If you believe him, then all he wants is for us to understand Muslims and validate them and their institutions in America and abroad, but nothing more.

Our watchdogs have read the core Islamic books and doctrines. We know that a Muslim can’t passively live under a non-Muslim culture without trying to overtake it. Rauf poses himself as a reasonable man, yet he can’t understand why Americans would be uncomfortable with a giant monument to Islam, a few blocks from the death of their loved ones, who died in the name of Islam.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Muslim Group: Community College Speaker Spreads Hate

EVERETT, Wash. — A controversial speaker at Everett Community College has sparked outrage among a Muslim civil rights organization who says the speaker spreads hate.

The Council on American Islamic Relations asked the college not to allow Raymond Ibrahim to speak. But the college didn’t budge.

Everett Community College invited Ibrahim, an author and blogger, to share his viewpoint on Islam even though some local Muslim leaders say he’s filled with hate.

Ibrahim denies it.

“I’m just a messenger, and I’m bringing it,” he says.

Ibrahim won’t say if he’s Muslim or not — only that he’s spreading the truth about Islam. The published author, born to Egyptian parents, says he wants Americans to understand the religion.

Quoting a verse he claims is from the Quran, Ibrahim says, “This verse is 3:28 and it says let believers — Muslims — not take infidels — non-Muslims — for friends and allies.”

Ibrahim says Muslims like Osama bin Laden and others believe they are carrying out Sharia law — the Islamic code of law — which says Muslims are obligated to convert non-Muslims by persuasion or violence.

“Because it’s divine. It cannot be changed if you’re a true believer. If God is telling you to live this way,” he says.

“Well, it’s the 21st century, and we have to make things a little more lax. If you’re a Muslim, you’re free to do that. But I find it not logically consistent.”

Not so, says the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR. The civil rights group and dozens of local religious leaders asked the college to close the door on Ibrahim. They say he incites fear, hatred and violence against Muslims.

“Just as they would not bring a known anti-Semite to campus to speak about Judaism or Jews in America, they should not bring a known Islamaphobe to talk about Islam in America,” says Arsalan Bukhar of CAIR.

But Everett Community College officials told KOMO News they won’t silence free speech, even if some feel that speech is filled with hate.

“We believe that when we have open dialogue, and students can hear different views on things, it can lead to the development of critical thinking,” says Craig lewis of Everett Community College.

The college allowed local Muslims to speak to students around three months ago. They shared their viewpoint, and on Thursday, Ibrahim shared his.

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Roadblocks to the US Passport

For American readers who do not travel, this article may only set off a vague sense of disquiet.

But for those who either have traveled out of the country, or believe they might “someday” what you are about to read will disturb you.

According to a 60-day notice in the Federal Register, the State Department is seeking approval for a proposed new passport application form, Form DS-5513.

The new Biographical Questionnaire for U.S. Passport allegedly would require 45 minutes to complete, according to the notice. That estimate includes “the time required for searching existing data sources, gathering the necessary data, providing the information and/or documents required, and reviewing the final collection.”

If approved it will be a mandatory form. Failure to provide the information requested “may result in the denial of a United States passport, related documents, or service to the individual seeking such passport, documents or service.”

The notice states that the questionnaire would be submitted in conjunction with the regular application for a passport, and would be required to “establish citizenship, identity, and eligibility for a U.S. Passport Book or Passport Card.

According to the Privacy Act Statement on the proposed form, the information solicited on the form may also be made available as a routine use to other government agencies and private contractors “to assist the U.S. Department of State in adjudicating passport applications and requests for related services, and for law enforcement, fraud prevention, border security, counterterrorism, litigation activities, and administrative purposes.

“The information may be made available to foreign government agencies to fulfill passport control and immigration duties. The information may also be provided to foreign government agencies, international organizations and, in limited cases, private persons and organizations to investigate, prosecute, or otherwise address potential violations of law or to further the Secretary’s responsibility for the protection of U.S. citizens and non-citizen nationals abroad.

“The information may be made available to the Department of Homeland Security and private employers for employment verification purposes. “

The proposed form requests the full names of relatives living and deceased, their birthplace (city, state, country), full date of birth, and whether that person was/is a U.S. citizen, for parents, step-parents, siblings, step-siblings, spouse, and children. It’s not clear whether aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins are included as well.

Other items include requests for one’s mother’s residence one year before applicant’s birth (street address, city, state, country) and residence at time of the birth, as well as residence one year after applicant’s birth. Another question asks whether the applicant’s mother received prenatal or postnatal medical care, and where it was performed — including address, name of doctor and dates of the appointments.

Another question: “Please describe the circumstances of your birth, including the names (as well as address and phone number, if available) of persons present or in attendance at your birth.”

The form also asks for information on baptism, circumcision, confirmation and “other religious ceremony” occurring around the time of birth. Again, details are requested including the name, location of the institution and date of the ceremony.

On the third of five pages, the form asks the applicant to list all residences inside and outside the United States, starting with birth up to the date of the application.

The fourth page requests a list of all current and former places of employment in the United States and abroad. This table includes the name of the workplace, address, city, state, country, time employed, supervisor’s name and phone number. Also on this page is a request to list all schools attended by the applicant, inside and outside the U.S., including name, full address and dates of attendance.

The fifth and final page is a signature that all of the above was answered truthfully, under threat of arrest for perjury if not.

According to the proposed form, comments on the accuracy of the 45-minute estimate “and/or recommendations for reducing it” may be sent to: A/GIS/DIR, Room 2400 SA-22, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2202. Note: You must include the DS form number (DS-5513) and the form title number (Biographical Questionnaire for U.S. Passport) as well as OMB control number (none yet assigned; 1405-XXXX requested by Dept. of State) in the correspondence.

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Treasure Trove of Materials Seized From Bin Laden’s Hideout Reveal Terror Attack Plans Against US Big Cities

A treasure trove of materials taken from Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan indicates that Al Qaeda has been mulling attacks on key US cities and railways timed to significant dates, according to US officials.

Material recovered from the raid on bin Laden’s Abbottabad hideout indicated that Al Qaeda members were discussing a plan to derail trains in the US on the 10th anniversary of the Sep 11, 2001 attacks by placing obstructions on tracks, multiple media reports said.

Other material gathered from the site also suggests that Al Qaeda was particularly interested in striking Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, the CNN said. US authorities have found that Al Qaeda appears especially interested in striking on significant dates like America’s July 4 Independence Day, Christmas and the opening day of the United Nations.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Belgium-Netherlands: Common Army to Battle Budgetary Crisis?

De Standaard, 5 May 2011

“Military top brass targets De Crem”, Belgium’s Defence Minister,headlines De Standaard. In an internal memo, senior officers deplore “the cumulative effect of a disastrous cocktail of numerous missions abroad, a further salvo of cost-cutting to the tune of 35 million euros, downsizing and the absence of investment credits.” Pieter de Crem wants a smaller high performance army, but according to senior figures in the military, “De Crem has ruined the army’s credibility.” On 4 May, Piet De Crem met with his Dutch counterpart Hans Hillen, who is currently faced with similar budgetary issues. The two ministers discussed “increased collaboration” between the armies of both countries. An opinion piece in De Standard highlights the importance of a European army but notes, which “for the moment, this has only been recognised by smaller countries.” In the meantime, the newspaper argues, more military “integration with the Netherlands could reduce the scope of the problem. We could establish a common navy, or make the Netherlands responsible for the navy.”

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

Berlusconi: Sovereignty Now in the Hands of Leftist Judges

(AGI) Latina — Silvio Berlusconi says “sovereignty belongs to the people so the Constitution must be changed and justice reformed. It is unprecedented for so many draft laws to be blocked by the Constitutional Court, where there are 11 Leftist judges and that they are blocked because of Leftist magistrates. These days sovereignty is not in the hands of the people but in those of the magistrature.” Italy’s Prime Minister was speaking by telephone link to the election rally being held for Giovanni Di Giorgi, a candidate in the mayoral elections.

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

Brawl Forces Norwegian Plane to Make Unscheduled Landing

Brawl forces Norwegian plane to make unscheduled landing. Norwegian Air Shuttle Boeing 737-800, LN-DYF, Performing Flight DY-1890.

Copenhagen — A Norwegian Air jet made an unscheduled landing Saturday at Copenhagen’s international airport after a brawl involving several passengers, Danish police and the airline said.

The Boeing 737-800 jet was carrying some 120 people, including crew, Norwegian Air spokeswoman Anne-Sissel Skanvik told the German Press Agency dpa.

The plane was en route from the Norwegian capital Oslo to Cyprus when the fight broke out.

It started when a 29-year-old left his seat and urinated in the aisle before sitting down in one of the crew’s seats, police officer Soren Wiborg told dpa.

The man then refused to return to his seat and two other men joined the fray, resulting in the pilot’s decision to land the plane, Wiborg said.

Police took the three men — aged 29, 27 and 21 years — into custody, and they were to be held until they had sobered up.

A woman who was travelling with the three also left the plane that continued to Cyprus after a 45-minute stop.

The 29-year-old man was later involved in a scuffle at the police station and would likely face charges for assaulting a police officer, Wiborg said.

Skanvik said it was likely the brawlers could face costs for the unscheduled landing.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Chilling Al-Qaeda Email Sent to Undercover Reporter Details How Extremists Plan to Strike Britain With Mumbai-Style Terror Attack

A horrifying email sent to an undercover reporter posing as an extremist has revealed a terror chief’s instructions to commit an atrocity in Britain. The chilling exchange between the reporter and Anwar al-Awlaki — widely tipped to succeed Osama Bin Laden as Al Qaeda leader — outlines the various options open to extremists who want to launch an attack on British soil.

In the correspondence, al-Awlaki allegedly advises ‘pipe bombs, assassinations or using a firearm at a location crowded with enemies’. This is believed to be a reference to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in India where gunmen rampaged through the city, killing 164 people.

The undercover sting by a Sun reporter posing as two British extremists follows a warning by Britain’s most senior police officer that ‘there can be no let-up in our vigilance’ following Bin Laden’s death.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Germany: Farms Getting Bigger and Fewer, Figures Show

The number of farms in Germany is declining at an alarming rate, according to figures compiled by the Agriculture Ministry.

Last year there were 300,700 farms, 20,900 fewer than there were three years previously, according to the 2011 agriculture report, which has been seen by the Passuer Neue Presse daily paper.

Last year 1.1 million people were employed in agriculture, representing a 2 percent decline on the previous year — slightly under the 2.2 percent reduction in the number of farms.

Farms are getting bigger as their number is becoming smaller, with the average area of land under cultivation up from 52 hectares to 56 hectares since last year. More than half of all farmed land in Germany is being cultivated in large farms with more than 100 hectares.

In 2009 farms accounted for 6.5 percent of Germany’s economy, raising €140 billion. Agricultural exports were growing during 2010 after the crisis of 2009, the paper said.

Direct payments from the European Union accounted for around 52 percent of the average income of German farmers, the ministry report admitted.

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

Germany: Islamist Preacher Ditches Prayer for Bin Laden

The radical Islamist preacher Pierre Vogel stepped back from plans to pray for Osama bin Laden at a rally in Frankfurt on Saturday evening.

While planning the meeting, Vogel had said he would pray for bin Laden’s soul with a prayer for the dead on the Roßmarkt in the centre of the city, attracting immense criticism and arousing serious concern for security.

Authorities granted him permission for the rally only after he promised not to speak about bin Laden, and moved it from the city centre to the Rebstockgelände out of town.

The 32-year-old German convert to Islam from the Rhineland region had initially said he would pray for bin Laden regardless, but on the day he did not mention him.

Around 450 people showed up to hear him speak — along with many police. But shortly before Vogel arrived in Frankfurt, an entry on his homepage apologised for what he called his, “clumsy actions,” and distanced himself from the idea of praying for bin Laden.

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

Green Energy — But Not in My Back Yard!

Il Post Milan

Odd as it may seem, the main victims of environmental conservation appeals are not nuclear power plants or incinerators, but the hydroelectric power stations, solar energy installations and wind farms much-loved by the Green and ecologically minded

Filippo Zuliani.

The English have dubbed this phenomenon “the NIMBY syndrome (NIMBY being an acronym for ‘not in my back yard’). The Italian government’s recent about-turn on its plan to re-introduce nuclear power — which took place only a few days ago — is a text book case of NIMBY syndrome. In plain English, the difficulties at Fukushima showed that nuclear power stations remain vulnerable to the risk of serious accidents, prompting a wave of public hostility. Not in my back yard! Build them elsewhere. Everywhere else. Only not here, because we don’t trust them!

The trouble is that NIMBY syndrome not only affects nuclear power plants and incinerators. According to the Nimby Forum, which monitors the extent of the NIMBY syndrome in Italy, 70 percent of appeals lodged to block the construction of power stations concern infrastructure that makes use of hydroelectric, biomass, wind and solar energies — projects that aim to promote the use of renewables, which could reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Nonetheless, these installations are opposed by ad hoc committees, mayors and municipal councils as often, or even more often — there is no denying that we are up to our necks in contradictions — than industrial infrastructure and installations, which have a 20 percent chance of being targeted by an appeal.

Citizens’ electoral lists, which cut across traditional political divisions, are the acclaimed champions of NIMBY and responsible for 60 percent of NIMBY appeals. Their motives are obvious: concern for the public interest, fear, a desire to combat disinformation, a distrust of the political establishment, but also — and most importantly — the quest for popularity in the short term. NIMBY syndrome is an easy vote winner, and some of its exponents can and do hit the jackpot.

The Italian government’s change of course on nuclear energy [in 2010, the excutive decided to reintroduce nuclear power, which had been outlawed by a 1987 referendum, before suspending its decision in March of this year] clearly demonstrates the results that can be obtained by tapping into the mood in the country. However, this is not good news: in fact it is bad news for everyone who was hoping that getting rid of nuclear would promote the development of renewable energy sources. Paradoxical as it may seem, it is now easier to construct a nuclear power station in Italy than it is to build wind farms with an equivalent power generation capacity.

The reason for this is quite simple: in order to obtain the capacity that would be generated by three or four nuclear power stations, we would have to build thousands of wind turbines at sites all over the country — in Italy today wind power is the only option that can compete with nuclear in quantitative and economic terms. The figures speak for themselves: the four 1600MW nuclear power stations, which were planned by the government would have produced 44 TWh per year, the equivalent of 15 percent of the electricity generated in Italy.

To generate the same quantity of energy with wind power, we would have to construct 12,000 turbines: bear in mind that these are 100-metre high towers, equipped with blades that are 75 metres in diameter, each requiring 1,100 tonnes of concrete steel and aluminium. And even if we only installed half of this number, and sought to make up the shortfall with biomass, solar and energy conservation, we would still have to build 6,000 towers.

That means more than 7 million tonnes of concrete and steel. When you consider that the Empire State Building weighs 275,000 tonnes, we would have to build the equivalent of 25 of these, which would be spread over the 2,400km2 of eligible sites, mainly located in Sicily, Sardinia and Puglia which are the regions with the best potential.

Problems posed by the environmental impact of wind turbines are also a concern for other countries. In Denmark, the installation of 150 metre high turbines in Copenhagen’s North Harbour provoked a furious reaction from the deputy mayor and residents of the local area of Gentofte. In other words, it is certainly possible for us to live using only renewable energy, but this is subject to two caveats: we will have to plan on using much less energy — i.e. a major adjustment and not just the removal of two or three bulbs — or we will have to accept the environmental consequences of wind turbines, solar panels, and biomass power stations etc. In short, we will have to get over our NIMBY syndrome and accept that renewable energies have disadvantages as well as advantages.

If this does not happen, future governments regardless of their political hue will be forced to fight an unending series of battles with mayors, deputy mayors, environmentalists, regional presidents and other local smart alecs to install every one of the thousands of wind turbines, solar panels and biomass power stations that we will need. In a regionalist country like ours and in the absence of a national plan with strict rules on energy production, an arduous process like this could quite simply take thousands of years.

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

Italian Politics: Coalition Troubles

Tensions rise both inside the ruling party and with its coalition partner

A NEW month, a new heir apparent. On May 4th Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister, told a television interviewer that, were he to step down, Giulio Tremonti, his finance minister, would be a “possible candidate” to take over: the best, in fact, among the names on offer. Less than a month ago, Mr Berlusconi, who has never worried much about consistency, picked Angelino Alfano, his justice minister, as successor. The latest announcement appears to be an attempt to halt speculation over a growing rift between him and the parsimonious Mr Tremonti.

Suspicions were aroused when Il Giornale, a daily owned by Mr Berlusconi’s brother, published an interview with Giancarlo Galan, the culture minister, in which he called Mr Tremonti a closet socialist who could lose the right the next election. In-fighting between ministers is not uncommon in Italy. But attacks on Mr Tremonti worry markets. Thanks to his fiscal rigour, Italy has not so far gone the way of the euro-zone periphery despite its huge public debt (soon to hit 120% of GDP).

The lugubrious Mr Tremonti and his flamboyant prime minister were never a natural match. But the grounds for dispute have multiplied. Mr Tremonti has been reluctant to defend the prime minister against the charges levelled by Milan prosecutors (this week, Mr Berlusconi made his latest court appearance at a pre-trial hearing in a fraud case involving the trading of film rights). The prime minister is also increasingly exasperated by the fiscal straitjacket into which he has been strapped by Mr Tremonti’s austerity. His frustration is especially acute at election time: on May 15th-16th his People of Freedom (PdL) party faces local elections that will decide, among other things, who will run Milan and Naples, Italy’s second- and third-biggest cities respectively. If the right does well, the friction between the two men should disperse like pollen in spring.

However, their relationship is strained also by pressure from a minority within the PdL for a change in policy, with the aim of revitalising Italy’s moribund economy. Mr Galan said in his interview that he wanted a return to the spirit of 1994 when he and others had “gone into politics in the name of liberal ideas”, but added that any economic reorientation was impossible so long as Mr Tremonti’s goal was just to impose equal, across-the-board cuts.

Then there is the finance minister’s closeness to the PdL’s coalition partner, the Northern League. For years, he has acted as a useful liaison. But the relationship between the two parties has become increasingly thorny, and his position trickier. Many grassroots League supporters are disturbed by revelations about Mr Berlusconi’s private life being aired in the “Rubygate” trial that began on April 6th. The League’s leader, Umberto Bossi, has been resolutely loyal, aware that only the government’s survival can protect its programme of fiscal decentralisation, the League’s main goal.

On April 25th, in a characteristically spontaneous move, the prime minister announced that, after a telephone conversation with America’s Barack Obama, he had reversed course and agreed to join the air offensive in Libya. This is anathema to the League, which fears that bombing will merely increase immigration to Italy and may force the government to raise extra taxes. Worse, Mr Bossi was not even consulted. On May 4th, after a frosty stand-off, the PdL joined the League in pushing through the lower-house Chamber of Deputies a motion to limit Italy’s involvement. But the affair has left an air of mistrust over their partnership that may be harder to disperse than spring pollen.

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

Italy: The Army Patrols Streets in Naples for Waste Emergency

(AGI) Naples — The army is at work to clean up the streets of Naples. ‘Reconnaissance’ operations on the heaps of waste began two days before schedule and they will be disposed of on Monday. The first inspections were performed in the area of Ponticelli, an eastern district of the city of Naples, that is characterized by a persisting special situation requiring a preliminary technical assessment.

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

Italy: Lombard Vineyard Castelveder Launches New White Wine

Filemone e Bauci blends chardonnay and pinot nero

(ANSA) — Milan, May 5 — Nestled among the vines and forest of the Franciacorta region of Lombardy — a rural patch between Brescia and Bergamo, south of Lake Iseo — a new wine will be uncorked May 9.

The Castelveder vineyard has married Chardonnay with Pinot Nero to bring forth Filemone e Bauci, a wine that harmonizes the contrasting flavors of two of the region’s most distinguished grapes.

The structure and tannin of the Pinot Nero is complimented by the floral bouquet, balance and smoothness of the Chardonnay, creating an austere, yet enveloping wine with the finest touch of effervescence.

Intense notes of dried fruit, liquorices, coffee and cocoa accompany its floral aroma. The wine is seductive and complex in the mouth, its finish fruity, light, with tones of bitter lemon and grapefruit.

“Worship of the family, wine and poetry of the earth are values that, together with an unstoppable desire to create, compelled us to build the world of Castelveder,” explained Elena Alberti Nulli, who founded Castelveder in 1975 with her husband Renato Alberti.

Filemone e Bauci is part of a new line of wines called Diamante, coinciding with the founders’ 60th — or diamond — wedding anniversary. The new wine takes its name from a mythological couple in Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, figures that inspire the founders.

As the story goes, the impoverished, elderly couple offered shelter to Zeus and Hermes, who had wandered long and about, disguised in human form, knocking on doors and being turned away.

Those who had unknowingly shunned the gods were condemned to destruction. But the hospitable couple saw their humble cane shack transformed into a magnificent stone temple to Zeus, who offered to fulfill the husband’s and wife’s deepest desires.

The devoted couple asked only to serve as priests to Zeus for the rest of their lives and to die together.

Upon their death, Zeus transformed them into a lime and an oak in front of the temple, whose trunks wound tightly around each other, a symbol of enduring love.

The Alberti’s four children, Alessandro, Emanuela, Michele and Cristina, and their grandchild, Camilla, also run Castelveder.

“Often the generational shift proves a difficult obstacle to overcome in the life of a company. For us it was not so….The support of the grandparents has transformed, day after day, into the sharing of an entrepreneurial project that brought, with the years, to produce wines of excellence,” said Camilla Alberti.

In Italy and abroad, the Franciacorta region has become celebrated for sparkling D.O.C.G. wines, whose roots go back to 1957, when Guido Berlucchi released a pioneering, still white wine called Pinot di Franciacorta. Its success was followed by a Berlucchi sparkling wine debuting in 1961.

The number of producers grew over the years as well as their efforts to ensure the highest quality designations available. The region’s wine earned a D.O.C. status in 1967. In 1995, Franciacorta sparkling wines were awarded D.O.C.G.


The Castelveder vineyard produces five Franciacorte D.O.C.G. sparkling wines as well as red, white and rose’ wines.

Its total production is roughly 100,000 bottles per year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Indictments Asked for Berlusconi ‘Sex Procurement’ Trio

Fede, Minetti, Mora accused of getting girls including Ruby

(ANSA) — Milan, May 6 — Milan prosecutors on Friday asked for the indictment of three people accused of aiding and abetting alleged prostitution for Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

The three are Berlusconi’s former dental hygienist, ex-showgirl and now Lombardy regional councillor Nicole Minetti; a veteran news anchor at one of Berlusconi’s TV channels and close personal friend of the premier’s, Emilio Fede; and a showbiz talent scout and self-styled ‘VIP impresario’, Lele Mora.

They are suspected of procuring young women for the premier’s alleged sex parties.

According to prosecutors, 33 young women including a minor were involved in alleged prostitution at parties held by Berlusconi between the start of 2009 and January 2011.

The case has generated intense media attention worldwide, largely focused on then 17-year-old Karima El Mahroug, a Moroccan runaway and belly dancer known as Ruby.

Ruby allegedly spent the night at Berlusconi’s villa outside Milan 13 times in mid-2010.

Fede first met Ruby at a beauty contest at Taormina, Sicily, in September 2009, prosecutors say.

He is alleged to have later taken her to Berlusconi parties which prosecutors say ended in sex.

Minetti is accused of helping manage a stable of girls, most of them allegedly handpicked from Mora’s young talent pool.

Fede, Minetti and Mora deny the charges and like Berlusconi claim the parties were innocent affairs.

Berlusconi’s position is separate from the three because prosecutors asked for a fast-track trial for him, which opened in Milan on April 6.

The next hearing in that trial is on May 31.

Berlusconi denies the charges of allegedly paying for sex with Ruby when she was underage and alleged abuse of power to get her out of police custody after an unrelated theft allegation.

Paying for prostitutes is not illegal in Italy but paying for underage sex is and carries a jail term of up to three years.

Abuse of power spells a possible jail term of 12 years.

The premier says he is the victim of allegedly left-leaning prosecutors who he has vowed to rein in.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lega Euro MP Says Naples is Foul, Not Worthy of Italy

(AGI) Rome — Mario Borghezio (Lega) has said “We should chuck Naples: we should steer well clear of that foul city. I wonder if the state Naples is in isn’t a good enough reason for becoming independent and separate from that part of the country. The Neapolitans and Naples have no place in civilised Europe. We need to escape this mess … We want to be free of Naples, with its stench of refuse and the Camorra. It needs a radical clean-up operation.” Lega Nord Euro MP Mario Borghezio’s remarks were made on KlausCondicio.

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

More and More Foreign Billionaires in the UK

(AGI) London — In the UK the number of billionaires is increasing, but they tend to be foreign and not as rich as they once were. According to the Sunday Times, the 1000 richest people in the UK, 73 of whom are billionaires, own assets worth 395,8 billion pounds, but in 2008 the 1000 “happy few” owned assets worth 413 billion pounds. Once again, the first place went to Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal.

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

More Swiss Train in Islamic Militant Camps

Defence Minister Ueli Maurer says there has been an increase in the recruitment of Muslims for militant training camps.

In an interview with the SonntagsZeitung newspaper, Maurer said the government was aware of Swiss who went to these training camps, and others who visited Koran schools.

He said the federal intelligence service had a good overview of Switzerland’s “Jihad fighters”, but refused to give any figures.

According to the intelligence service, a militant Islamic network was set up last year in Switzerland in order to find recruits who are sent to countries like Somalia and Yemen.

Maurer told the newspaper that under current Swiss laws it is difficult to prevent Islamists from raising funds.

“The intelligence service can only observe and provide analyses,” he said. “We have at our disposal very little means [to fight Islamic militant activities] since parliament has up to now rejected them.”

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

Netherlands: PVV Drops Mosque Ban in Limburg

The make-up of Limburg’s new provincial executive has been finalised, with the anti-Islam PVV providing two out of five board members.

The Christian Democrats also have two and the VVD one. The PVV narrowly beat the CDA to emerge as the biggest party in the province in the March elections.

However, the party’s main campaign issue, a ban on any more mosques in the province, has been dropped, the Volkskrant reports.

Instead, the new provincial authority is to focus on merging the two regional water boards, a €50m cut in subsidies and improving public transport.

CDA councillors still have to vote on the new alliance.

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

One Spanish Person Out of 5 Has Esoteric Beliefs

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 3 — In Spain one person out of every 5 believes in wizards, horoscopes, clairvoyants or astrologers, while 76% of the population considers them charlatans who have no credibility whatsoever. These are the revelations of a survey commissioned by Metroscopia, whose results were published in ‘El Pais’, which claims that 20% of respondents believes that astrology, tarot cards and predictions of the future are alternative knowledge sources to be deemed just as valid and reliable as scientific knowledge. According to the survey, the increasing level of education in Spain in the last decades has not eradicated, but merely dulled, their propensity for giving credence to esoteric beliefs. The survey reveals that women are more gullible than men and the young are more likely to be gullible than the elderly.

Practicing Catholics and atheists are among the most sceptical; of this group, only 17% believes in clairvoyants and astrologers, while 23% of non-practicing Catholics does so. Metroscopia analysts put the results in perspective with a reference to German 20th century philosopher and sociologist Max Weber’s beliefs. The authors of the study note, “Even the most developed societies, characterised by the prevalence of rational and scientific criteria, continue to fell the need to seek explanations of the world which are not rational, or irrational.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Civil Servant to Decide Order of Newborn Baby Surnames

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 5 — In Spain the registry office civil servant will be the one to decide in which order to place newborn children’s maternal and paternal surnames in case of disagreement or when parents forget to state the order, according to a reform bill for the Civil Registry approved yesterday by Congress’ justice committee. Representatives from every political party voted in favour of the bill, rejecting the Socialist Party’s (PSOE) proposal that the surnames be placed in alphabetical order. Therefore, the only criterion which will apply, according to Spanish media, will be the subjective opinion of the registry civil servant, who will need to bear in mind the minor’s best interests. Currently in Spain the father’s surname comes before the mother’s, even though both make up the official registered name.

The debate within the Justice Committee was fraught with heated arguments, triggered by the Socialists’ proposal that the matter be dealt with by placing the surnames in alphabetical order in case of parental disagreement. The rationale was that this measure would respect the principle of gender equality provided for in the Constitution. The motion was strongly opposed by the People’s Party (PP), which made the father’s surname its emblem.

The party claims the end of the paternal surname’s prevalence is a frontal attack by the Zapatero government on the family institution. PP leader Mariano Rajoy expressed his disagreement with a reform he deems “unnecessary”, announcing that there was a battle to be waged. While the PSOE claims the paternal surname’s prevalence is “patriarchal society’s legacy”, the PP believes this to be a “smokescreen” to distract civil society from the real issues and believe” it is not an urgent matter for citizens to deal with”, as MP Luisa Fernanda Rudi highlighted before the committee. CIU (Catalan Convergence and Union) spokesman Jordi Jane’ i Guash also downplayed the importance of the reform, because it addresses a “residual” matter. However the controversy also involved parents’ associations, in particular the Institute for Family Policy, which defined the bill as “a frontal attack on family as an institution”. The Conservative platform (Hazteoir: Make yourself heard) issued criticism in the same vein; they believe equality among surnames is a formula “with which to untie people from their family bonds”. As for Catalan independence-seekers ERC, who had proposed the order be selected at random, like a coin toss, in the end the formula which puts the decision in the civil servant’s hands prevailed. The approved text states that “in case of disagreement or of a failure to declare the order in which the surnames are to be placed on the registration form, the officer in charge at the Registry Office will ask the parents or legal guardian to make their decision known within three days, at the end of which he will have to make the decision himself, in line with the minor’s best interests.” The ERC has announced it will submit its amendment to its contribution toward the debate on the bill to Senate. As for the PSOE, the party declared, through its spokesman on Justice Julio Villarubia, that it considers the agreement reached to be a step forward toward gender equality, the paternal surname’s prevalence, which was previously compulsory in case of disagreement, having been done away with. The CIU spokesman to the committee claims the agreement “brings an element of common sense to the provisions laid out in the bill.” The unanimously approved text will now be placed before the Higher Chamber. The legislation updates the Civil Register and brings it in line with new technology. One of the amendments approved enables the children and grandchildren of abused women to change their surnames.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Telecom Italia Profit Falls as Competition Increases

Milan, 6 May (AKI) — Telecom Italia said its first-quarter profit fell as the former Italian telephone monopoly faces increasing competition in its domestic market.

The Milan-based company on Friday said it’s net profit for the first three months of 2011 fell almost 9 percent to 549 million euros, compared with 601 million euros during the same period last year.

Italy’s biggest telephone company stemmed some of its declining profit in its home market by expanding in emerging markets.

“The international businesses sustain group growth with an 18 percent increase in organic revenues in Latin America,” Chairman Franco Bernabe said in the statement.

Telecom Italia controls Telecom Argentina and Brazil’s third-largest mobile phone company, Tim Participacoes. That company earlier this week reported a first-quarter net profit of 213.5 million reais (91 million euros), from 54.6 million reais a year earlier.

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

UK: Nicki Pike Describes How an Affair With One of the 7/7 Bombers Nearly Cost Her Life

The girlfriend of July 7 bomber Germaine Lindsay has spoken for the first time — and revealed how he tried to trick her into going with him on his suicide mission. Nicki Pike, 23, dated the 19-year-old in the weeks before he killed 26 people on a Piccadilly line train near King’s Cross station with a homemade bomb.

Today she reveals how the Yorkshire-raised terrorist begged her to join him in a London hotel the night before the attacks in 2005 — and told her he had a ‘surprise’ and a ‘treat’ in store for her the next day.

Nicki initially agreed to go with Lindsay and it was only a chance reunion with a long-lost friend that persuaded her to spend the evening elsewhere. ‘I am convinced he wanted to take me on that train that day,’ she says. ‘It has haunted me ever since.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Now Muslim Militants Target Prince Harry: Outrage After Extremists Post Chilling Online Hate Video

An extremist group is believed to be targeting Prince Harry after a propaganda hate video has come to light following the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.

The 26-year-old, third in line to the throne, is the subject of a three-minute video posted last week by an organisation calling itself Muslims Against Crusades.

It is believed that Harry is being targeted to avenge the death of the Al Qaeda leader, who was shot by American commandos last Sunday, as six years ago he dressed as a Nazi and has served the British Army in Afghanistan.

The video, entitled ‘Harry the Nazi’, shows the young royal — who was best man to his elder brother William just over a week ago — serving for the British Army against Taliban forces in 2007 and 2008, saying that ‘all my wishes have come true’.

It begins with the Muslims Against Crusades sign looming large and imposing, and then sounds of soldiers marching are accompanied by Arabic voices.

Originally posted on the group’s jihadist website, the video continues to show snippets of Prince Harry talking to the media while in action in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

It also shows the royal — who spent 10 weeks in Afghanistan and joked that he is a ‘bullet magnet’ — using derogatory Asian terms ‘Paki’ and ‘Raghead’ in videos taken while he was in the Middle East, and exposed by the News of the World.

The clips are spliced together and framed in a central box, as though someone is watching the footage on a television, flicking through Harry’s actions.

Outside of the frame, there is a dark border, and smoke rises from beneath.

The clips stop suddenly, and all that remains is a picture of Harry dressed as a Nazi — a decision which caused outrage, when he wore the outfit for a fancy dress party in 2005 — and then the production abruptly ends.

The film is designed to incite hatred against Harry — who has recently been promoted to captain in the Army — and it appears to have worked. Below the video, posted on YouTube, people have written aggressive, threatening messages in response to it.

One person wrote: ‘May Allah? curse and destroy him.’ Another, calling himself Brother Younis, said: ‘May he rot in hell.’ And a third poster pointed out that both Harry and Hitler begin with the letter H, and added: ‘Harry the royal British Nazi.’

‘Prince Harry is inevitably at risk,’ a security source told the News of the World. ‘As risks go up then the protection capability has to be increased.’

Muslims Against Crusades’s website claims that their members are ‘raising the banner for Islam’ and reveals why Prince Harry — and William — are targets.

In the Frequently Asked Questions section they write: ‘It would seem fitting and appropriate to condemn individuals, who sympathise with such a brutal mob (referring to the British Army who are fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya), or who promote their literature or glorify their cause.

‘William and Harry are not exempt from accountability, and their conscientious decision to enrol in an army that engages in the aforementioned crimes, cannot be taken lightly.’

The extremist organisation today claimed that the video was not meant to be inflammatory, and inist that it is not a call to arms for terrorists to target Harry.

The group’s spokesman, Islamic cleric Anjem Choudary did admit, however, that the video was designed to direct Muslim anger towards the Royal Family’s involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said the video was created to promote the group’s aborted attempts to protest at the Royal Wedding.

‘There is a real anger with the Royal Family about their participation in war against Iraq and Prince Harry because of his tour fighting against Muslims in Afghanistan,’ said the 44-year-old.

‘Prince William has also expressed a desire to fight in Afghanistan.

‘This video was being used to explain why we were planning to protest at the Royal Wedding.’

He continued: ‘I can assure everyone that the Muslims Against Crusades has no intention of targeting Prince Harry or any other member of the Royal Family.

‘We believe in political action, not military action. We believe in the covenant of security; in return for our wealth and well-being protected it is not permitted to target wealth and life of those with whom we live.

‘It is the objective of this, and videos like it, to draw attention to the Royal Family’s involvement in wars that kill our Muslim brothers and sisters.’

Last Friday Choudary organised a 200-person strong protest outside the U.S. Embassy in London, so that Muslims Against Crusades could voice their opinions against ‘arrogant’ President Obama, who ordered the commandos to attack Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, northern Pakistan.

They organised a mock funeral for the 54-year-old Al Qaeda leader, and carried placards which read: ‘Royal Family baby killers’ and ‘William and Harry watch your back’.

And Al Qaeda-supporting cleric Choudary warned that Britain is likely to suffer another 7/7 terrorist attack.

‘Following the boasts and gloats of the arrogant President Barack Obama that he ordered the murder of “unarmed” Sheikh Osama Bin Laden without trial or consideration of his rights and the shooting and kidnapping of his defenceless wife and son, Muslims around the world are witness to America’s utter disregard for fairness or justice,’ the Muslims Against Crusades website explained.

Police stepped in to separate the protesters and members of the English Defence League amid threats of violence from both sides.

Though many were shocked that the protest was allowed to go ahead, coming as it did shortly after the verdict into the 7/7 inquest was released by Lady Justice Heather Hallett.

She recorded that the 52 victims had been ‘unlawfully’ killed when four terrorists attacked three London Underground trains and a bus in 2005.

While the Metropolitan Police refused to answer questions about the extremist group asked by MailOnline directly, a ‘police source’ told the News of the World: ‘The Met are constantly monitoring activity by Muslims Against Crusades.

‘If a direct threat is made we will respond.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Pay Muslim With Links to 7/7 Leader to Teach Them How to Fight Terror

Tafazal Mohammad received more than £80,000 of taxpayers’ money to lecture Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officers on how best to ‘engage’ with Muslims.

A Muslim who attended a training camp organised by known extremists with the ringleader of the July 7 suicide bombings was later paid by police to teach officers how to combat terrorism.

Tafazal Mohammad, 46, was described at the inquest into the Al Qaeda-inspired attacks in London as a suspected ‘terrorist sympathiser’ who was twice placed under surveillance by MI5.

Yet he received more than £80,000 of taxpayers’ money to lecture Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officers, council workers and youth leaders on how best to ‘engage’ with Muslims.

Families of 7/7 victims reacted with disbelief at Mr Mohammad’s lucrative consultancy work. ‘Anyone who has been involved with terrorists needs to be fully vetted,’ said Graham Foulkes, whose son David was killed in the Edgware Road train attack.

Mr Mohammad ran an Islamic bookshop in Leeds with Mohammed Sidique Khan who, along with three other bombers, launched Britain’s deadliest terror attack since the Lockerbie bombing, killing 52 innocent people in 2005.

Last night, Patrick Mercer MP, a former Conservative security spokesman, accused the police of ‘gross incompetence’ for failing to carry out checks. ‘How someone who has been the subject of surveillance by MI5 for alleged extremism can end up teaching counter-terrorism officers beggars belief,’ he added.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Croatia: Remaining War Crimes Fugitives Must be Arrested Chief UN Prosecutor Says

Zagreb, 4 May (AKI) — The chief prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Serge Brammertz, said on Wednesday the two remaining war crimes fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic must be arrested.

“The arrest of these two fugitives is a matter to which I pay the utmost attention and it has no alternative,” Brammertz said on a visit to Zagreb. “But the fact is that my office has no police to arrest those who run away from justice,” he added.

General Mladic, wartime Bosnian Serb military commander, and Goran Hadzic, a leader of rebel Serbs in Croatia, are believed to be hiding in Serbia, but the authorities have said they had no knowledge of their whereabouts.

Brammertz said Serbian authorities “should do a lot more to confront the prevailing public belief that Mladic and Hadzic are war heroes who should not go to the Hague”. The failure to arrest them would remain a “dark chapter” in the tribunal’s history, he added.

Mladic has been charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for the 1992—1995 Siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre.

has been charged with: the murder and persecution of the Croat and non-Serb civilian population; the prolonged imprisonment of civilians in detention facilities where torture, beatings and killing was not uncommon; and the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of non-Serbs from across the area under his control.

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

North Africa

Cairo: Killed in Violence Between Muslims and Copts

In violent clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians is Saturday evening in the Egyptian capital of at least six people were killed late on.

As the Ministry of Health announced that more than 50 people were injured. According to eyewitnesses Imbaba were hundreds of conservative Muslims in the Cairo slum drawn from a church because they suspected that there was a recently converted from Christianity to Islam young woman was being held. Shots had fallen, and Molotov cocktails were thrown. Among the casualties were also at least two Muslims, it said.

The woman, who was held in the church alleging that, converted to Islam to marry a Muslim man can. Love relationships mixed-religious couples in Egypt are always triggers of violence. Women in both religions it is usually not allowed to marry men of faith to another.

Shortly after the incident in Imbaba Coptic Christians moved from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. They announced that there will endure until the U.S. ambassador talk to them about the “injustices against the Christian minority”.

Last were the beginning of March in Cairo in clashes between Muslims and Copts, 13 people were killed and around 100 others injured. Triggers of violence in the suburb Mokattam Church were protests against the destruction of a south of the Egyptian capital.

Coptic Christians are in the predominantly Muslim-inhabited Egypt a population of about 10 to 15 percent.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Cairo’s Copts Organize Militias for Self-Defense

Members of the Coptic community in the working-class neighborhood of Imbaba in northwest Cairo are forming militias for self-defense after recent sectarian clashes left 12 dead and hundreds injured.

Copts in Imbaba, who expect more clashes in coming months, say they have organized small groups to protect churches as well as homes and businesses owned by Copts.

The clashes broke out Saturday night after a group of Muslims attempted to storm a church under the pretext of rescuing a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity. A second church was set on fire.

A small group of Copts who gathered near the US Embassy in Cairo on Sunday called for international protection of Egypt’s Christian community and criticized the government for not doing more to protect them.

Sunday night, thousands of protesters staged a sit-in front of the state TV building calling for immediate investigation into the clashes and church burning.

Tens of Copts gathered inside the church at the center of the clashes while the army blocked nearby streets.

“We haven’t slept since yesterday,” said Raouf Naguib, a young man inside the Saint Mina Church. “We are gathered here to protect our church even with the presence of the army.”

This is the second time in recent years that Copts have taken up arms to protect religious sites. In 2008, Copts defended the Abu Fana Monastery in the Western Desert after it was attacked.

Erian Aziz, a retired military officer, said that he tried to negotiate with the mob and convince it that the church was not hiding anyone, but he was unsuccessful.

“The angry Muslim mob grew larger and we heard the sound of bullets from every corner and then they started to attack the church and Copt-owned stores,” Aziz said.

Eyewitnesses to the clashes said that the initial gathering was small, but grew after Copts fired bullets into the air to disperse the crowd.

Imbaba is a stronghold of Cairo’s Coptic minority. Within a space of three blocks, there are five Coptic churches and four Anglican churches.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said on Sunday that 190 people were arrested in connection with Saturday’s clashes, “as a deterrent to all those who think of toying with the potential of this nation.”

On Sunday the military increased its presence in Imbaba, cordoning off the area around the church of al-Wehda and sending military police to guard other churches.

Copts account for up to 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 85 million and frequently complain of discrimination. During the Mubarak era, they were frequent targets of sectarian attacks.

Sectarian violence has increased since Mubarak’s ouster on 11 February. In March, a church in Atfeeh, Helwan, was set on fire by an angry Muslim mob. In the same month, dozens of Copts were shot dead in street clashes that took place in the Cairo neighborhood of Moqattam.

Saturday’s clashes came hours after a TV interview with Kamilia Shehata, a Coptic woman who some Muslims allege converted to Islam and is now being held against her will by the Church. Shehata appeared on Al-Haya, a Christian channel broadcast from the US, and said that she has not converted to Islam.

She was a major focus for Salafi activism in 2010, with several marches in Alexandria calling for her release and attacks on Coptic Pope Shenouda III. Last month Salafis held a massive protest in front of the Ministry of Defense calling for Shehata’s release. In another march they threatened to attack churches and mosques in order to free her.

Experts argue that the rise of Salafis and other Islamic factions could ignite sectarian violence in the country after the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

Mohamed Hassan, a prominent Salafi figure, is taking much of the blame. Hassan has, controversially, mediated a number of recent sectarian conflicts in Egypt, but is also widely seen as a provocateur.

“I want to tell Mohamed Hassan that you are the reason for all of this,” said Atef Erian, a young Copt in Imbaba who was injured in yesterday’s clashes. “Please don’t worsen the relations between Muslims and Copts with your harebrained ideas.”

“He and like-minded sheikhs were behind the whole case of Kamilia Shehata, and then he pretends to be a peaceful man seeking to bridge the differences between Muslims and Copts,” added Erian.

Arshileadis Mar Mina, a priest at the Mar Mina church, expressed his own concerns after the fighting in Imbaba. “Now we are really afraid,” he said. “They are people who are systematically attacking us and there are no police or military to protect us.”

Despite their agreement that the former president was corrupt, some Coptic voices say they felt safer under his rule.

“At least you didn’t have that nightmare where you are concerned now with protecting your family and your churches. During Mubarak we were safer,” Aziz said.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Clashes Between Copts and Muslims in Cairo, 9 Dead

(AGI) Il Cairo — Nine Copts are dead and at least 100 injured following clashes with Muslims in Cairo on Saturday. A church was burned. The riots were started by a group of Muslims bent to assault the Coptic Saint Mena Church in the Imbaba neighborhood of the Egyptian capital. The mob was motivated by a rumor about a Christian woman kept prisoner in the church because of her desire to convert to Islam.

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

Egyptian Coptic Youth Protect Cathedral During Pope’s Sermon

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Egyptian police and armed forces were heavily deployed around St, Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo yesterday as Coptic Pope Shenouda III delivered his weekly sermon to nearly 10,000 church members. The sermon was also attended by the media and Muslim journalists to show their opposition to the Salafis and the actions against the church. A large number of veiled Muslim women were also in attendance.

Hundreds of Coptic Christians also guarded the Cathedral. The Maspero Coptic Youth Federation announced they will guard the Cathedral until Friday because the Salafis warned they will stage this Friday another demonstration in front of it, to “free” the Christian converts to Islam whom the church detains.

Islamists websites had warned Copts not to attend today’s sermon and had called for retaliatory action against the Cathedral during the sermon in response to the church’s decision not to release Camellia Shehata, who Muslims believe has converted to Islam and is being held against her will.

The Pope’s sermon was titled “Forgive” and stressed the virtue of being good to the offenders. The Pope said every human being sins, even the saints, and “forgive the people so that you are forgiven.”

Thousands of Salafists staged a march to the cathedral last Friday to demand the appearance of Camellia Shehata and Wafaa Constantine, both wives of clergy, whom they claim converted to Islam. The church has denied they converted to Islam (AINA 4-30-2011). The prosecutor requested of the appearance of Camellia to investigate the claims that she was allegedly kidnapped and detained by the Church. She is expected to appear before them in the very near future.

“Camelia said she was 100% Christian, is proud of her religion, has not converted to Islam and never went to AlAzhar for conversion,” said Dr. Naguib Gobraeel, her attorney. “She confirmed that she had had a misunderstanding with her husband, Father Tedaos, and left their home and stayed a few days with some relations, until friends and relatives intervened and reconciled them.” Dr. Naguib Gobraeel said she now lives a quiet and happy life with her husband and her two and half year old son Anton in Cairo.

Gobraeel said he advised Camellia to appear in the media to refute the claims of her conversion to Islam and that she is being held by the church, but she refused. He added that Camellia told him that her biggest wish is to return to the simple life, like any normal Egyptian woman, away from the media and the dispute between Copts and Muslims regarding her.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Libyan Rebels Want Hatred-Instigating Regime TV Black-Out

(AGI) Benghazi — The Libyan rebels asked that the regime TV, Al-Jamahiriya, be blacked out. It is accused of “instigating hatred and violence”. A Benghazi magistrate has already accepted a request sent to the operator of the Nilesat satellite, which broadcasts the signal, but what is needed now is the authorisation of the Egyptian agent in Libya. A team of Benghazi lawyers said that the TV network is also used to transmit coded messages, with the cities mentioned by Gaddafi in his speeches being immediately bombed by his troops.

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

Libya: Tripoli: Rebel Fund Plan Like Piracy

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, MAY 6 — Yesterday’s decision made in Rome during the meeting of the Contact Group on Libya to create a special fund to assist the Libyan rebels, using the frozen funds of colonel Muammar Gaddafi, is “like piracy on the high seas”, Libyan deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said today. “Libya is still a sovereign State according to international law and any use of its frozen funds is like piracy on the high seas”, Kaim said in a press conference. Kaim also rejected the Contact Group as a whole, claiming that “this group is ambiguous, it is a strange body, and we consider it a non-entity”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Muslims Attack Christians in Egypt, 12 Killed, 232 Injured

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Christians Copts in the area of Embaba were attacked Saturday evening by Muslim Salafis. The attacks lasted for 14 hours. The Muslims fired guns and rifles and hurled Molotov cocktails at Coptic churches, houses and businesses. 12 Copts were killed and 232 injured.

The church of Saint Mina church was the first to be attacked. According to its pastor Fr. Abanoub the attack started at 5.30 PM on Saturday May 7, when church parishioners noticed a large number of Salafis, estimated at 3000 men, congregating near the church. Anticipating trouble, the army was called. The Salafis went to the church and asked to search it because they believed a Christian girl named called Abir, who had converted to Islam, married a Salafi and wanted to revert back to Christianity, was hiding inside the church. The Muslims circulated a rumor that the husband of Abir received a call from her asking him to save her as she was being “tortured” inside the church.

The governor of Giza said that there are no girls hiding in St. Mina Church. He falsely claimed that things were under control and a “reconciliation” meeting will be arranged for tomorrow. The army later cordoned off the entire district of Embaba.

Father Yohanna Mansour from Giza Bishopric confirmed that no one knows this alleged girl called Abir. He said the congregation was meeting at church and the Salafis wanted to break into the church and force a search to look for this alleged convert, he said in an interview with the Egyptian State TV. “Muslims always come invited to church, but this would have set a precedent that Muslims would use to search our churches.” He refused the “reconciliation” meeting and insisted on the application of the law.

According to Fr. Abanoub the Salafis started shooting at 5:30 but the army arrived at 10 PM. “I called everyone, but no one bothered to come.” He said six policemen came and left when they saw the shooting. There were also snipers shooting the parishioners from rooftops. “I mourn all those young people who died. We now must ask for international protection.”

The second church attacked by Salafis was St. Mary and St Abanob, also in Embaba. Muslims prevented the fire brigade from reaching it. Copts were also shot. This video shows the wounded brought inside the church.

The third church attacked was St. Mary Church in Wehda Street in Embaba, the ground floor of which was completely torched (video).

An apartment complex inhabited by Copts, near St. Mina Church, was set on fire after being looted. Another two houses were torched (video).

Youssef Edward, a deacon at St. Mina Church, said the army and security forces stood watching while Muslims threw Molotov cocktail at homes. He said the Muslims who attacked the church came from outside, as Muslims from the area live peacefully with them. “The army was not able to control the situation, and the mob was chanting ‘Islamic’, ‘Islamic’“ (video showing wounded Copts and a dead Copt named Medhat in St. Mina).

As soon as Copts heard of the Salafi attacks, they rushed to protect their churches. There were contradictory reports of Copts using guns to defend themselves.

Witnesses reported the Salafis were wearing Taliban style clothes. “I believe they are of the 3000 Jihadis who returned lately from Afghanistan,” Saber Loutfi, one of the Embaba residents told Coptic Free Voice.

Renowned Muslim liberal writer Nabil Sharaf el Din said on the Coptic Hope Sat Channel “The army is either incapable or is an accomplice to the Salafis.” He believes that what took place today exceeds anything else that had previously happened to the Copts. “If the army does not takes a stern position with the Salafis they will look real bad.” He said that all moderate Muslims and Copts should stick together to overcome the Salafis. In his opinion the Salafis, who were encouraged and nurtured by the old State Security, are like the genie who has come out of the lamp and now cannot be restrained or controlled.

The Bishop of Giza, Anba Theodosius, said “These things are planned.. We have no law or security, we are in a jungle. We are in a state of chaos. One rumor burns the whole area. Everyday we have a catastrophe.” Addressing the Salafis he said “We will never leave our country”.

Most witnesses interviewed asked for international protection of the Copts, as the army does nothing when it comes to attacks on Copts. Others accused the army of complicity.

Camelia Shehata, who the Muslims claim had converted to Islam and was held by the church against her will, appeared today on Hayat Christian TV and said Muslim claims are groundless and that she is 100% Christian. She denied that she had met any of the Salafi sheikhs who claimed they went with her to Al-Azhar to convert to Islam.

A large number of Copts are presently staging a sit-in in front of the US Embassy in Cairo, asking for International Protection for the Copts.

Coptic groups have called for a “million-man” protest in Cairo and Alexandria on Sunday to protest the Embaba attacks. The march will start at the High Court and end in Maspero, in front of the State TV Building.

The funeral of the Coptic victims will take place on Sunday at St. George’s Church in Giza.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Public Libyan TV Shows Mass Surrender of Rebels in Misrata

(AGI) Tripoli — Groups of Libyan rebels who up to now have been fighting to defend Misrata reportedly all surrendered to Gaddafi. The news was broadcast by the Public Service TV network ‘al-Jamahiriyah’ without however indicating the exact number of people who have surrendered. The same State TV network quoted an anonymous military spokesman according to who the rebels that surrendered to the Government forces allegedly released ‘confessions’ that were recorded and will be broadcast in a later point in time.

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

Sahel Countries Ink Anti-Al-Qaeda Pact, Press

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 5 — Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger have decided to step up commitment against terrorism, increasing the number of soldiers deployed along the border and those tasked with preventing infiltration by Al Qaeda-linked groups. The decision was made on April 28 during a secret meeting in Bamako (reporting the news was Mauritanian daily Al Sirradj, quoted by Le Temps d’Algerie) between the chiefs of staff of the four countries’ armed forces, who are dealing with the need to stem the smuggling of goods and arms trafficking. In particular, concerns emerged during the summit that heavy weaponry held by Gaddafi’s armed forces — amid the reigning confusion and uncertainty as to Libya’s future — could end up in Al Qaeda training camps.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Former Minister Threatens Coup at Islamist Win

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 6 — The threat of a coup in the case of victory for the Islamists: is this a case of words, which may be justified but nonetheless spoken in the heat of the moment by one who has been seduced by the lure of power and then left high and dry? Or are these thoughts on the minds of many Tunisians but which he alone has so far had the courage to voice clearly? The statements made by former Interior Minister Farhat Rajhi are sending a trial of fire through a country which could, perhaps, benefit more at this juncture from words of support for the people charged with guiding it on its road towards representative democracy.

Indeed, the main street of the capital city, Bourghiba Avenue, was today once again the scene of an anti-government protest. As demonstrators attempted to reach the Interior Ministry it was broken up with a show of force by baton-wielding police whose use of teargas sparked off panic among thousand of passers by. Speaking on Facebook, the social network which carried the anti Ben Ali manifesto during the “jasmine revolution”, Rajhi said three things, although he was back-peddling today, saying he had fallen into a trap laid by journalists. The first thing: “Premier Essebsi is a liar’ was perhaps the least sensational because most expected. Rajhi has certainly not forgotten how, on March 28, just a few weeks after being nominated, he was removed from his office by the Prime Minister who did not even bother to explain the reasons behind his decision.

But the former Minister used harsher words about the role of General Rashid Ammar, head of the Chiefs of Staff of the Tunisian Army who, having de facto refused to put troops onto the streets to quash the uprising, had ousted Ben Ali, his friend of many years standing (the former president also had a military background).

Essebi appointed Ammar Head of all the armed forces (while retaining his role at the head of the Army). For many, this was a reward for his “non-intervention”, but for Rajhi it was a political move, because it would fall to Ammar to lead a coup should the sectarian Ennahdah Party win at the coming elections.

A move, therefore, aimed at the person who should uphold the secularity of the state: led by the Army and the Bourghibi-protesters (Essebi being one of the latter). Rajhi went even further, saying that the ‘Putsch’ would come from Algeria, where Ammar would base himself in order to organise events more easily: an allied nation which is itself at risk of becoming an Islamist state.

The ‘third and least incendiary’ thing said by Rajhi (who has been, to Essebsi’s delight, nominated Chair of the High Commission for Human Rights and the Defence of Basic Freedoms) touched another raw nerve in today’s Tunisia: regarding figures once (and perhaps still) very close to the former President Ben Ali, but who the “revolution” has left far from weakened.

First among these is Kemal Letaief, a bosom friend of Ben Ali, who Rajhi sees as today working in the shadows with the aim of “normalising” the country.

All these accusations from the former minister have been returned with interest to the sender, but their effect has been incendiary as they split the front of young rebels — who are widely seen as the real driving force behind the revolution — down the middle. Yesterday evening, Bourghiba Avenue echoed with slogans, some praising some insulting — but there has been silence from the Ennahdha camp (and from its leader Rached Gannouchi), now seen by some as a spectre hanging over the future of democracy and secularism in Tunisia.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Vatican: War Against Libya a Reckless Outrage

The Bishop of Tripoli’s appeals for a truce and dialogue go unheeded. The West does not understand Libya, its tribal issues, the positive development of the country, stopping the fundamentalists. And there’s room for Christian witness. Who really has interests at stake in this war?

Milan (AsiaNews) — I have been shocked and surprised by the silence of Italian press and TV regarding the Bishop of Tripoli’s condemnation of the war and proposals for dialogue, because I was in Libya in 2007 and I know Mgr. Giovanni Martinelli, born in Libya to Italian colonists, a bishop for forty years. He is speaking out and no one or very few are listening to him. Following the Pope’s appeals for peace in Libya (even on Easter Sunday) for weeks and months on AsiaNews and Vatican Radio, the bishop of Tripoli has raised his voice denouncing a war without end that exacerbates conflicts, increases’ hatred and violence and prepares a future certainly worse for all Libyans. Three days ago, he said: “Opening a dialogue with all parties is the best thing to do. The NATO bombs are useless and both sides should be considered, not just the rebels “and he asked” to offer the possibility of a dialogue between the parties and the end of hostilities. “ Only yesterday the bishop proposed “ a week long truce, out of respect for human life, for families and Libya. It is an humane gesture and the Libyans are sensitive to these acts, despite the anger caused by the war “and he called on members of the “Contact Group “(which met in Rome)” to consider the possibility of a transitional government also including members of the regime, to prevent the spreading of hatred and distrust among the people”.

In short, despite the appeals of Pope Benedict XVI and the anguished words of the bishop of Tripoli, what was a “humanitarian intervention” to save the Libyans from the violence of Gaddafi has become a war in which the West has sided with Cyrenaica against Tripoli. “Everyone talks about helping the rebels — said Mgr. Martinelli — the papers write about the difficult humanitarian situation in the cities of Cyrenaica, which is dramatic, but no one talks about the population of Tripoli, also devastated by war and NATO bombing. “

The war in Libya becomes increasingly incomprehensible to Italians and people of the West, because it fails to consider three major factors. Here I will briefly outline them:

1) Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt, which have a unitary state, a robust media and intellectual class. A must read is the book “Gaddafi” by Angelo Del Boca, a serious and erudite scholar (Yale University Press 2011), to really understand how Libya is devoid of a modern mature society and instead is divided from into two regions the times of the Ottoman Empire, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, and based on the tribe, the clan, the family and Islamic brotherhoods. By openly taking sides in the Libyan Civil War, rather than trying to initiate dialogue for unity government, the West is sinking the country into an endless abyss of guerrilla warfare, revenge, terrorism, tribal strife. Those who live locally like Bishop Martinelli, who deeply loves the Libyan people, know these things from a lifetime spent on the ground and he should be listened to when he speaks. Over the phone says, “there is no other Italian who knows Libya and loves all Libyan people like me, yet I speak and nobody listens to me.”

2) Gaddafi is a dictator and that word says it all. But in the Islamic world I believe that unlike him no one else was tying to lead their people into the modern world. From the nineties until today he had used the vast resources of oil to build schools, hospitals, universities, medical dispensaries in the villages, he paved roads in the desert, provided low price housing for all, has did a lot for the liberation of women, sending girls to school and university (initially the universities did not want them!), launching more favourable laws for women in marriage, by removing in villages the high walls that bordered the courtyard where women were kept, and so on. He brought water 800-1000 meters into the desert, piping it to Tripolitania and Cyrenaica in to channels (of 800-900 km) in cement cylinders (taller than a man). Today, Libya has running water for all. I could go on. Gaddafi is a dictator and to suppress the insurgency has used means used in similar situations in Syria and Yemen. It is right to stop it, but to present him to the West as a bloodthirsty dictator comparable to Hitler and to be eliminated at all costs, means provoking more hatred not against a man, but against all those who are on his side.

3) Gaddafi did not permit political or press freedom, it’s true. But he started to educate the people of Libya controlling mosques, Koranic schools, imams and Islamic institutions, which in many other Islamic countries (eg Indonesia, recently visited) are totally beyond the power of the state, spreading an anti West ideology and worship “of the martyrs of Islam”, in short the suicide bomber we are all too familiar with. In Libya, this was absolutely not the case. In Tripoli, there is a committee of wise men of Islam that prepares the religious instruction for Friday prayers and publishes it well in advance in all mosques across Libya. The local imam must read that text. If you remove or add something, another is named to lead the mosque.

Not only that. In 1986, Gaddafi wrote to Pope John Paul II asking him to send religious sisters trained as nurses for his hospitals. The Pope sent a hundred, especially in India and the Filipino, but also Italian. Today in Libya there are 10 thousand nurses and eighty nuns especially Filipino, as well as many Catholic doctors from abroad. Bishop Martinelli, told me: “These Catholic women, competent, kind, treating the sick in a humane way, are changing the mindset of the people about Christianity.” And this he told me on the basis of much praise received from Muslims about how Christian women are formed. Libya to date had been one of the few Muslim countries where Christians (there are also thousands of Egyptian Copts) were almost entirely free, except of course to convert the Libyans to Christianity. Who really has interests at stake in this war?

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

Middle East

Dissident Says Syria Uses Torture After Iran’s Example

(AGI) Vienna -A Syrian dissident claimed his country’s regime learnt from Iran how to use torture to put down the popular protest. Rami Nakhleh, a leading Syrian cyberdissident who is living underground in the country and using Facebook and Twitter to circulate news about the situation in Syria, claimed that Assad’s regime is following the Iranian government’s example systematically using similar torture techniques to put down protests.

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

South Asia

Kazakhstan is the Leading Supplier of Uranium to World Giants

Astana has 19% of world reserves of the mineral and is the largest producer. It’s biggest customers are Russia, India, China and Japan to cover the future needs also. But Kazakhstan wants to transform itself from provider of raw materials to energy producer. The environmental problems.

Astana (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Kazakhstan is poised to become the world’s leading supplier of uranium to giants like Russia, China, Japan and India. Many foreign investors are not perturbed at the lack of democracy and pluralism in the country, which they regard as a very reliable partner.

The world uranium production in 2010 increased by 6%, according to the World Nuclear Association, from 50,772 tons in 2009 to 53,663 in 2010. But it is declining in Canada and Australia (-4% and -26%), while in Kazakhstan it has increased to 17,803 tonnes in 2010 compared to 14,020 in 2009, and points to 30 thousand tonnes for 2018.

Despite the Fukushima disaster, the demand for uranium remains high, especially in Russia, China and Japan to the point that the Nomura International institution predicted that by 2015, the production will be insufficient relative to demand. In the world are building 53 new nuclear power plants and a further 500 are planned for 2030. Kazakhstan has 19% of the world’s known reserves and is the world’s largest producer, it supplies Japan, India, China, USA, South Korea, Canada, France and Russia.

But the country lacks technology and technical experts and is in need of foreign technology to develop production. The state KazAtomProm, third largest world producer of uranium with 8,116 tonnes in 2010, works with foreign companies. Astana, however, now wants to develop new power plants and also produce energy and sell it in neighboring countries such as China and India, which have the necessary technology and are starved of energy.

Kazakhstan is perhaps the most stable country in Central Asia. On 3 April, President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who leads the country since 1989 during the Soviet era, was re-elected for another five years with 95.6% of the vote. Foreign investors have invested more than 120 billion since its independence in 1991, and have welcomed his re-election, despite the fact that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has reported numerous irregularities in the vote.

The rest of the country, although it lacks a political pluralism, has grown at an average of 8% over the past 10 years, in 2010 the gross domestic product per capita was more than 9 thousand dollars, 12 times more than in 1994. Although there remain large pockets of poverty, the average monthly salary of 527 dollars is more than 6 times higher than in nearby Tajikistan and unemployment is just 5.5% while in neighboring countries many workers have migrated abroad, to Russia and Kazakhstan itself. It ‘s true that inflation was 7.8% in 2010 and is expected to remain between 6 and 8% over the next five years, but in Kyrgyzstan in 2010, inflation exceeded 19%.

Astana is being courted by neighboring giants. Russia has difficulties in extracting uranium from its rich deposits, because many are in remote and inaccessible areas. So it buys it from Australia and Kazakhstan and it has agreements to carry out nuclear power stations and provide enriched uranium.

China is the largest investor in Kazakhstan, buying raw materials and energy and uranium and floods the nation with its own factories at low prices: in 2011 the two countries agreed on the supply of 55 thousand tonnes of uranium over the next 10 years.

Japan, before the April tsunami, planned to cover 41% of its electricity needs with nuclear power by 2017 and its companies are involved in the development of major Kazakh oil fields, including the Kharasan-1 and Kharasan-2 that is expected produce 160 thousand tonnes of ore in 2050.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Astana on 15 and 16 April, to discuss cooperation and trade, as the purchase of 2,100 tons of uranium from 2014 for the Indian nuclear facilities. New Delhi alone produces 3,700 megawatt hours of energy through nuclear power and wants to get to 20 thousand. Astana is vital for India, after Australia refused to sell uranium until it signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty against its use for military purposes.

But Astana has the issue of developing nuclear power safely and have limited technical and professional experience. If there are problems, there could be strong popular opposition, because many people are still paying the consequences of the over 450 nuclear weapons tests carried out here during the Soviet era, often with little caution.

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

Pakistan: Bin Laden Killing ‘Second Biggest’ National Tragedy

Islamabad, 6 May (AKI) — By Syed Saleem Shahzad — Pakistani opposition leader Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan reacted to the killing of Osama bin Laden by American special forces by declaring the act a national tragedy and demanding the resignation of many of Pakistan’s top leaders.

“This is the biggest tragedy in the history of Pakistan after the fall of East Pakistan in 1971 (now Bangladesh),” he said. “heads should roll. Those who breached the sovereignty of the country by the US intrusion in the country, including the president, prime minister, minister of defence and minister of interior should immediately resign,” he told reporters in front of national parliament in Islamabad on Friday.

Much of Pakistan’s mood can be described as deeply shocked by the 2 May raid on bin Laden’s compound by an American Navy SEAL team in the upscale town of Abbotabad. The operation was reputedly carried out without the knowledge of Pakistani authorities because of the suspicion by Washington that they could tip off the Al-Qaeda leader.

Mass demonstrations in Pakistan were called for Friday to protest the killing of bin Laden, while the country’s biggest Islamist political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, called for protests s against what it said was a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty by the US raid.

The operation has further strained relations between the US and Pakistan as some American officials say that bin Laden could not have been living in a relatively luxurious mansion close to capital Islamabad without the knowledge of authorities. At the same time, many Pakistani’s are indignant at the accusations and angry over a perceived breach of sovereignty by the Navy SEAL squad.

Soem 1,500 Pakistani Islamists demonstrated on Friday against bin Laden’s killing near Quetta, saying he other figuressimilar to him would emerge to wage holy war against the US.

Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir on Thursday warned of “disastrous consequences” if the US staged a similar attack on its territory.

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

Shot in the Back by the Taliban: Girl, Seven, Is Tiniest Victim of Wave of Insurgent Attacks in Afghanistan

A seven-year-old girl was shot in the back during insurgent attacks in Kandahar, Afghanistan yesterday.

The girl is seen crying as she is stretchered into the back of an American medevac helicopter, with her father close by, clutching one of her cuddly toys.

The Taliban unleashed a major assault Saturday on government buildings throughout Kandahar, an attack that cast doubt on how successful the U.S.-led coalition has been in its nearly yearlong military campaign to establish security and stability in the former Taliban stronghold.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Uzbekistan: Protestant Leader Arrested for Importing Religious Books and Cds

He brought thousands of banned material into the country. An investigation is opened. No end to religious persecution in the former Soviet nation.

Tashkent (AsiaNews) — Uzbekistani authorities continue ti clamp down on religion. According to Interfax news agency, the leader of the Protestant missionary group Iso Masih was arrested this week for bringing “illegal literature” into the country. According to a source, the police, after detaining Anvar Razhapov seized more than 350 books of Protestant literature from his house. “ “Among other material taken away, all considered illegal, are 180 CDs and DVDs, 44 videotapes and 22 audio cassettes with content aimed at ideological control and the education of young people in the spirit of Protestantism,” the source added.

According to preliminary investigations, Razhapov violated the law — which prohibits the introduction of Protestant literature in Uzbeksitan — importing several titles from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In addition, the missionary used funds paid monthly by foreign sponsors to buy a car and other property in Tashkent. The judicial authorities have opened a file on the case.

Religious persecution is systematic in the ex-Soviet country. Article. 8 of the ‘law of religion’ only allows registered groups to practise their faith, but often it takes years to receive registration. Conversions are prohibited among Christians and Protestants are the most targeted. The state controls and especially targets the Islamic religion, which counts 92% of the population. Under the guise of fighting radicalism, the authorities have their own media and educational institutions to educate a class of imams for the faithful, who are then put in charge of mosques.

Currently, according to data from InterfaxReligion more than 2,220 religious organizations of 16 different denominations operate in the country, of which 2 thousand are Muslims. 159 Christian organizations are registered, eight Jewish ones and six Bahai. There is also a Buddhist temple and a Krishna community. (NA)

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

Far East

China/Arab League Build Ties: Encirclement of the West Advances

The US’s great friends China and the Arab League are getting further into bed together. Why?

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa on Monday to discuss cooperation between China and the Arab world.

China and the Arab countries decided last year to promote the strategic relationship of cooperation, which marked a new era of bilateral ties, Yang said.

[Return to headlines]

Japan, After March 11

by Guy Sorman

The country, resilient as ever, remains Asia’s true power.


The crisis—described by Prime Minister Naoto Kan as his country’s “worst in the 65 years since the war”—has led some commentators to predict that Japan will never recover. This is an absurd contention, as was already evident in the immediate aftermath of March 11, when the remarkable characteristics of Japanese society shone through. Accustomed to natural disaster, the Japanese people showed little panic even at the peak of the horror. Looting, which one often sees after earthquakes in other societies, was nonexistent. Japan proved itself astonishingly well prepared: the quake itself, it turned out, caused relatively little direct damage to buildings, even in Sendai, thanks to strict construction codes imposed after the 1995 Kobe earthquake, which killed 6,000. Perhaps most striking of all was that the Japanese export machine was so little damaged. Production and delivery of many goods, ranging from computer chips to industrial components, were interrupted for only a matter of hours, though shortages have slowed things down sporadically.


[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Inverbrackie a ‘Powder Keg’, Say Police, Amid Claims Violent Incidents Are Being Covered Up

VIOLENT incidents at Inverbrackie are being kept secret amid claims the centre is a “powder keg”.

The Federal Opposition claims incidents at the Woodside centre are being covered up amid concerns about the ability to control a major disturbance such as the recent riot at the Villawood Detention Centre.

Federal MP for Mayo Jamie Briggs has lodged Freedom of Information applications seeking details of security breaches at Inverbrackie.

He warned a major incident could quickly escalate because of a ban on SA Police entering the centre’s grounds.

Police sources have described the centre, which has 323 detainees including 96 children, as a “powder keg”, predicting a major incident would occur.

“It is being discussed among police and there are fears it could blow at any time,” an officer said.

The Sunday Mail understands from independent sources who have been on the site that several violent but isolated incidents have occurred at Inverbrackie where detainees face high stress levels while waiting to find out if they have been accepted as refugees.

Earlier this year hard-pressed staff had to resort to a “Code Black” call for emergency assistance, after a fight erupted among female residents, although it is believed the situation was quickly calmed.

Other incidents have included several where staff members have been assaulted and one in which a child was disciplined after hitting a bus driver with a piece of wire.

The Sunday Mail has been told of an incident where a man was injured when he deliberately smashed his head through a plate-glass window, although an Immigration Department spokesman said the only record of such an incident was a man banging his head against a door.

Centre operator Serco is reviewing security procedures after a couple briefly breached the facility’s perimeter last month by walking out of the front gate while pushing a baby in a stroller.

An Immigration spokesman confirmed security incidents had occurred at the centre but stressed they were all minor in nature and were “past history”.

Mr Briggs said he had had to resort to Freedom of Information after encountering great difficulty in finding out details about incidents at the centre.

“I’m concerned that Immigration may say they are not aware of incidents but that may be because Serco is not telling them,” he said.

“The community panel also have been made to sign confidentiality agreements for privacy reasons so they can’t alert the public to what may be happening.”

Staff are forbidden from talking about incidents but it is known some are feeling stressed from working 12 hour-plus shifts while dealing with people frustrated at the time taken to process their applications.

The vast majority of the detainees are said to be well behaved and keen to learn English. However, it is understood some are using “aggressive and antagonistic” behaviour in order to trigger fast-tracked meetings with Immigration officials — on the basis that “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”.

A common way is a short-term refusal to eat meals.

Last month a riot at the Villawood Detention Centre, Sydney, saw large sections set on fire and and more than a dozen detainees stage an 11-day rooftop protest, but NSW Police were powerless to intervene as the facility is federal property.

In March, there were two large scale breakouts of detainees at the Christmas Island facility as well as rooftop protests, and a protest was also staged at the Curtin Detention Centre in WA’s far north.

Serco referred all inquiries about security to the Immigration Department, which said there were no plans to expand the centre beyond its capacity for about 400 people.

Mr Briggs has written to Police Minister Kevin Foley seeking clarification of SA Police powers in the event of a major disturbance, and what legal protection SAPOL officers have if they are called to intervene in an incident on the compound’s perimeter.

“There is a culture of secrecy surrounding Inverbrackie and I have had numerous calls from residents concerned about exactly what is going on there but find it hard to get straight answers,” Mr Briggs said.

“We have seen significant violent incidents at Villawood in Sydney and on Christmas Island, and it concerns me that bureaucratic hurdles may impede the ability of SAPOL to act against disturbances at the facility.

“In the interests of the local community I would not want to see a situation occur where SAPOL is sidelined while a disturbance at Inverbrackie becomes destructive and out of control.”

A spokesman for Mr Foley confirmed the centre was under the jurisdiction of the the Australian Federal Police and Immigration officials.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]


Migrants: Clandestines Land in Calabria

(AGI) Bianco — More clandestine migrants land in Calabria near Locri. The alert this morning at 7.20 when some of them were spotted walking along the Statale Jonica 106 road, near the Sant’Anna hamlet in the Africo municipality. On the spot Police, Carabinieri, Tax Police and Coast Guard; 29 people, men between 20 and 30 yers of age, have been stopped. They are 25 Pakistani aliens and 4 Indians, who landed on the Jonian coast -known as the “Jasmine Riviera” — with a speed boat which pulled away immediately after.

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