Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110526

Financial Crisis
»20 Questions to Ask Anyone Foolish Enough to Believe the Economic Crisis is Over
»Greece: The Angry Ones Bug Hits Athens
»Greece: Tens of Thousands Protest Against Austerity
»Pending Economic Train Wreck Made by Congress
»UK: Vince Cable Warns of ‘Economic H-Bombs’ That Threaten Britain
»ACLU Turns Blind Eye to Sharia in America
»American Ignorance
»Another Protest of ‘Radical Islam’ Planned Saturday in Dearborn
»GOP Lawmaker: I Saw TSA Pat Down ‘Little Old Lady,’ Child, But Not Arab Man
»Key Jewish Donor Breaks With Obama
»Linguists Break Into Skype Conversations
»Senator McCain Becomes Shill for Al-Jazeera
»Southside Residents Say No to Planned Neighborhood Mosque
»Strauss-Kahn Moves to a Manhattan Loft
»Two New York City Officers Acquitted of Rape
»Canada Deplores Iran’s Election to the UN Commission on Population and Development
Europe and the EU
»Bin Laden Called for Attacks on Denmark, US Officials Say
»Find Wilders Not Guilty of Inciting Hatred, Says Prosecution
»Finland: Hakkarainen Censured After Racial Comments
»French Politician Hit by Sex Harassment Claims
»Gun Smuggling on the Rise in Sweden: Police
»Italy’s PM Says Left-Wing Voters Lack Brains
»Italy: Fiat Chief May Want to Boost Chrysler Stake to Above 51%
»Malta to Hold Divorce Referendum on Saturday
»UK: Elderly Patients Dying of Thirst
»UK: Four Muslims Who Battered Man for Teaching RE to Girls Jailed for Being ‘A Danger Due to Their Extreme Religious Beliefs’
»UK: Mother Killed by a Blood Clot Weeks After GP Told Her ‘Don’t Worry, You Won’t Drop Dead’
»UK: The Gloating ‘Killer’: Burglar Boasts on Facebook After Being Told He Wouldn’t Face Charge Over the Death of His Elderly Victim
»UK: Unlabelled Clone Meat Allowed on Shop Shelves as Food Safety Proposals Are Ripped
»Serbia: Belgrade to Curb False Asylum-Seekers After EU Threat to Re-Impose Visas
Mediterranean Union
»EU: Brussels Begins New Neighbourhood Policy With Extra 1 Bln
North Africa
»African Union Asks NATO to Stop Bombing Gaddafi
»Arab Spring Boosts Dream of Desert Power
»Egypt: Brotherhood Leader: Next Govt to be Islamist
»Egypt: Brotherhood Leader: We Shall Apply Islamic Shariah
»Egyptian Activists ‘To Form Nazi Party’, Newspaper Reports
»Libya: Habeshia: Ethnic Cleansing Risk for Black Libyans
»Libya: Italy: Napolitano: Those Challenging UN Must Desist
»Yemen: Fighting Breaks Out in the Streets of Sanaa, As Saleh Refuses to Go
Israel and the Palestinians
»Egypt’s Opening of Gaza Crossing Prompts Hamas Welcome, Israeli Concern
»The Truth About the Israeli ‘Occupiers’
»Tom Friedman: Bring Tahrir Square to Jerusalem
Middle East
»Jordan: Journalists Protest Against Attacks on Press
»Jordan: King Abdullah Pardons Thousands of Prisoners
»Lebanon: Hezbollah Leader Urges Syrians to Support Assad
»Nasrallah Rejects Obama Claim About Hezbollah
»Saudi Arabia: Facebook Campaign, Let’s Beat Up Female Drivers
South Asia
»Pakistan: Anti-Christian Violence in Faisalabad: Tombs Desecrated, Young Woman Gang-Raped
Far East
»U.S. Throwing Taiwan Under Bus
Sub-Saharan Africa
»African Land Grab Could Lead to Future Water Conflicts
»Seychelles to Take Pirates
»Congressional Hearing After Fox Undercover Report on Illegal Immigrants
»Immigrant Children Shortchanged by Swedish Schools
»Italy: Population Up 0.5% ‘Thanks to Foreigners’
»More Than 1,400 Perish Trying to Reach Italian Shores
»Sweden: Unemployment Up Among Immigrant Youth: Report
»UK: Immigration ‘Out of Control’ As Numbers Coming to the UK Booms to Pre-Recession Levels
»UK: Mugabe Torturer Who Pulled Out Man’s Teeth With Pliers is Granted Asylum in UK
»UK: Net Immigration Hits Six Year High in Blow to Coalition
Culture Wars
»The Truth About Genderless Babies

Financial Crisis

20 Questions to Ask Anyone Foolish Enough to Believe the Economic Crisis is Over

If you listen to Ben Bernanke, Barack Obama and the mainstream media long enough, and if you didn’t know any better, you might be tempted to think that the economic crisis is long gone and that we are in the midst of a burgeoning economic recovery. Unfortunately, the truth is that the economic crisis is far from over. In 2010, more homes were repossessed than ever before, more Americans were on food stamps than ever before and a smaller percentage of American men had jobs than ever before. The reality is that the United States is an economic basket case and all of these natural disasters certainly are not helping things. The Federal Reserve has been printing gigantic piles of money and the U.S. government has been borrowing and spending cash at a dizzying pace in an all-out effort to stabilize things. They have succeeded for the moment, but our long-term economic problems are worse then ever. We are still in the middle of a full-blown economic crisis and things are about to get even worse.

If you know someone that is foolish enough to believe that the economic crisis is over and that our economic problems are behind us, just ask that person the following questions…

#1 During the 23 months of the “Obama recovery”, an average of about 23,000 jobs a month have been created. It takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000 jobs a month just to keep up with population growth. So shouldn’t we hold off a bit before we declare the economic crisis to be over?

#2 During the “recession”, somewhere between 6.3 million and 7.5 million jobs were lost. During the “Obama recovery”, approximately 535,000 jobs have been added. When will the rest of the jobs finally come back?

#3 Of the 535,000 jobs that have been created during the “Obama recovery”, only about 35,000 of them are permanent full-time jobs. Today, “low income jobs” account for 41 percent of all jobs in the United States. If our economy is recovering, then why can’t it produce large numbers of good jobs that will enable people to provide for their families?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Greece: The Angry Ones Bug Hits Athens

Ta Nea, 26 May 2011

“Playing with fire,” headlines Ta Nea, which reports that the Spanish “Los indignados” [The Angry Ones] movement has sparked copycat protests in Greece. On 25 May, thousands of young people demonstrated in the main squares of cities throughout the country. In Athens, 30,000 gathered before the national parliament chanting “Thieves, thieves!” — an accusation leveled at MPs who have voted in a series of austerity measures over the last 12 months. The protests, which “were completely calm and without incident, continued until four o’clock in the morning,” notes the Athens daily, noting that “Greek anger with the latest batch of austerity measures will prompt further sit-ins today [26 May].” Ta Nea predicts that this “could be the beginning of a long-drawn out protest movement.”

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

Greece: Tens of Thousands Protest Against Austerity

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 26 — The Greek EU Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, has said that there is talk in Brussels of Greece returning to the drachma, while in Athens, the government and industrial representatives are discussing a referendum on the memorandum and Greece’s European future. In this backdrop, thousands of Greek citizens of all ages and social categories yesterday reacted to the new austerity measures decided by the government, by peacefully taking to the streets of the country’s major cities, following the example of Spanish citizens, who for days have been protesting in Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol.

The large turn-out for the protests in Greece shows the level of desperation of many citizens, today’s press observes. In Syntagma Square, in the centre of Athens, newspapers reported crowds of more than 20,000, including young unemployed, students, mothers and children, shopkeepers and pensioners, all of them chanting “Take your memorandum and leave”.

Meanwhile, representatives of the so-called “troika” — International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank — currently in Greece to monitor the strict implementation of the economic programme launched by the government, yesterday asked to meet senior officials from Neo Dimocratia (ND), the main centre-right opposition party, for talks on the country’s economic situation and the party programme presented a few days ago by its leader, Antonis Samaras. The meeting, which lasted over two hours, took place “in a positive atmosphere”, Neo Dimocratia said in a statement. Newspapers say that representatives of the troika listened to the comments of ND officials and pledged to relate the party’s comments to their superiors.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Pending Economic Train Wreck Made by Congress

“No fewer than 44 states are bleeding serious red ink, while unprecedented costs of social programs, unemployment claims and natural disasters are draining their remaining coffers along with the reserves of the insurance companies. This is the same story; exponential growth and exponential decline.” Mike Folkerth

In this ongoing series with my friend and economist Mike Folkerth,, and author of The Biggest Lie Ever Believed, he writes, “No other mathematical possibility remaining than for the US to pitch into a full blown depression.”

Today, the U.S. languishes with a $14.2 trillion debt. Our Congress has dug our hole so deep, that when we look up, we cannot see the bottom. Give us an idea of what we face and why Mr. Folkerth:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Vince Cable Warns of ‘Economic H-Bombs’ That Threaten Britain

Vince Cable warned yesterday that ‘hydrogen bombs’ in the economy are set to plunge Britain into new economic disaster.

The Business Secretary was accused of talking down the recovery after telling the New Statesman magazine that governments had not ‘got to grips’ with problems in the economy.

The comments put Mr Cable on a collision course with Chancellor George Osborne, who has repeatedly insisted that Britain was out of the ‘danger zone’.

Mr Cable said: ‘I think the thing that worries me more than anything else [is that] we really haven’t engaged with the real depths and seriousness of the financial crash.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


ACLU Turns Blind Eye to Sharia in America

Daniel Mach, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, and Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights program, recently co-authored an article on the Huffington Post attacking legislative efforts to prohibit the application of foreign laws inconsistent with the rights granted by the U.S. and state constitutions or state public policy.

The article posits a series of disjointed, hypothetical misapplications of the legislative efforts to prevent sharia from encroaching into our legal system. Yet, the authors cite no actual examples of misapplications of laws already passed and in force, in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arizona. The authors fail to distinguish this American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) legislation from other legislative efforts, such as the Oklahoma constitutional amendment, which do not explicitly reference the protection of constitutional rights and public policy in prohibiting application of sharia or foreign law.

Further, the authors contend that these laws, explicitly protecting established constitutional rights, are superfluous because the First Amendment already protects these rights, and then allege that these laws violate the religious freedom granted by the First Amendment. The authors thereby dangerously conflate the judiciary’s interpretation and enforcement of secular law with interpretation and enforcement of religious doctrine. The freedom of religion and establishment clauses of the First Amendment do not address the application of foreign law, including sharia, in American courts, and, as demonstrated below, have not been applied to prevent such application.

Additionally, American courts have repeatedly held that freedom of religion does not require the judiciary to void secular laws which may incidentally conflict with religious doctrine, and that the First Amendment prohibits the judiciary from interpreting or enforcing religious doctrine. For example, in the case of S.D. v. M.J.R., the New Jersey Superior Court of Appeal reversed a trial court judge who did not find sexual assault to have been proven when a husband admitted forcing his wife to engage in sex, because the husband lacked criminal intent as he was a Muslim, and sharia, as described by an imam, mandated that a wife submit to her husband’s sexual advances. The New Jersey appellate court cited several U.S. Supreme Court decisions that held that freedom of religion does not include violating criminal laws, including Reynolds v. United States and Cleveland v. United States regarding polygamy, and Employment Div., Dep’t of Human Res. of Oregon v. Smith regarding smoking peyote, even when religious doctrine permits or mandates the prohibited practice. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Presbyterian Church in the United States v. Mary Elizabeth Blue Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church and its progeny, have also consistently held that deciding disputes over religious doctrine violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Most egregiously, the title of the article, “Anti-Sharia Law: A Solution In Search Of A Problem,” suggests that the enforcement of sharia law in the United States is simply not a problem worth addressing. The authors completely ignore dozens of published state appellate decisions in which American courts addressed litigants who demanded the enforcement of sharia, and on many occasions succeeded.

A recent study entitled “Shariah Law and American State Courts: An Assessment of State Appellate Court Cases,” released by The Center for Security Policy, identifies 50 such appellate court cases from 23 states. Many of these cases involve blatant violations of constitutional rights, usually to the detriment of women and children, including the enforcement of foreign custody orders to wrest children from their mothers.

For example, a Maryland appellate court in Hosain v. Malik enforced a Pakistani custody order, issued under a sharia rule granting sole custody to the father when the child reaches age seven, handing a little girl brought to America by her mother over to the father. The Maryland court bowed to the Pakistani court order even though the mother did not appear for the Pakistani proceedings, because, although she may have been arrested for adultery if she returned to Pakistan for the hearing, and been subject to “public whipping or death by stoning,” the court found such punishments were “extremely unlikely.” The judges explicitly proclaimed that the best interest of the child should not be “determined based on Maryland law, i.e., American cultures and mores,” but rather “by applying relevant Pakistani customs, culture and mores.” The court, explaining that “in the Pakistani culture, the well being of the child … is thought to be facilitated by adherence to Islamic teachings,” intentionally applied Islamic, rather than American, cultural and legal precepts.

In contrast, the Louisiana Supreme Court refused to favor sharia in Amin v. Bakhaty. In Amin an Egyptian wife and mother committed the Egyptian crime of leaving Egypt without her husband’s permission. She traveled to Louisiana with her child in an attempt to improve her relationship with her husband who lived in the U.S. and visited her only once per year in a hotel room in Egypt. Her husband, upon learning she traveled to the U.S., traveled to Egypt, had her convicted of the crime, filed for divorce and custody under Egyptian law, and then traveled to Louisiana to seize their child under the Egyptian custody decree. Louisiana’s highest court explicitly rejected the demand to enforce Egyptian child custody law because “Islamic family law … structures some of the rights between family members based solely on gender” and not “the minor child’s best interest.” The Louisiana Court explained that under Louisiana law “a parent’s interest in a relationship with his or her child is a basic human right.” However under the sharia-based law of Egypt “it is most likely that [the mother] will be deprived of a relationship with [the child] if she is forced to return to Egypt to pursue custody or visitation rights.” Thus, the Louisiana Court rejected the sharia-induced award of sole custody to the father.

These two cases, as well as dozens of others cited in the Center’s study, including similar cases involving child custody and misogyny, demonstrate that American courts have followed divergent paths on addressing sharia law. Legislatures, as representatives of the people, should appropriately direct the courts to avoid the enforcement of sharia law when such enforcement violates American constitutional and public policy norms. Clearly, the child custody cases in Maryland and Louisiana involved issues of gender discrimination, denial of freedom of travel, disregard for the best interests of a child, lack of procedural due process, and cruel and unusual punishment. The ACLU, claiming to be the defender of American constitutional rights, should be sensitive to the obvious breach of those rights implicated in applying many aspects of sharia, and not ignorantly stereotype all efforts to address such breaches as religious intolerance.

Legislative efforts, such as the passage in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arizona of the ALAC legislation, drafted by the American Public Policy Alliance, should be applauded, and similar efforts in other states encouraged by all Americans who support upholding American constitutional rights, including, ostensibly, even the ACLU.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

American Ignorance

Americans are greatly misinformed when it comes to socialism and communism. Winston Churchill said it best, “socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

Socialism is ownership and control by the government of the means of production and of distribution. It is the stage following capitalism in the transition to communism. During this stage, according to Marxist theory, collectivism is implemented imperfectly. Communism, the ultimate utopia, refines this process.

“Socius” is Latin for comrade and ally. You had to be very careful whom you allied with, lest you found yourself in jail or dead. “Communis” is Latin for “shared.” I can attest first hand that nobody shared anything under communism except misery and poverty, except for the ruling elite. Although communism is described in textbooks as having no classes, in reality there were two: the proletariat (the majority) and the ruling elite (communist party members).


The “creeping socialism” that Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, and Friedrich von Hayek have warned us about is now blatant and a daily reality: illegal government takeover of Chrysler, GM, student loan programs from banks, banking industry, health care, internet control, FCC radio programming content, stifling of conservative speech, attack on Christianity, its symbols, and Judeo-Christian values. Private sector of our economy is shrinking every day; our economy is becoming more and more socialist. “We are all socialists now,” said Newsweek on its cover.

Having lived under socialism and communism for twenty years, I can attest that there is nothing “shared” except misery. There is nothing “equal” under communism except poverty; doctors, lawyers, mechanics, teachers were paid the same miserable salaries and had to work in less than desirable places, dictated by the communist party upon graduation. There is no “leveling of the playing field,” to use the Democrat euphemism. There is no “economic security” but insecurity. There is no “living wage,” another darling euphemism of the Democrats, but a barely surviving wage. The communist work ethic is, “we pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Another Protest of ‘Radical Islam’ Planned Saturday in Dearborn

Dearborn —Another protest over what organizers call “radical strains” of Islam is planned on Saturday in front of Dearborn City Hall.

The Order of the Dragon, a pro-Israeli group, is planning the 3 p.m. demonstration to call attention to the “implementation of Sharia” or Islamic law in some court rulings, said Frank Fiorello, the head of the group’s Michigan chapter.

“We have a lot of people worried about Sharia creeping into family court,” said Fiorello, a Marlette resident. “There are 23 different jurisdictions where Sharia is being implemented in family court.”

Fiorello did not provide specifics, but said there are recent cases in Ann Arbor District Court.

Other groups participating in the rally include the American Defense League, ACT! For America and David Horowitz’s Freedom Centers Palestinian Wall of Lies, Fiorello said.

Fiorello, a Detroit native, was scheduled to host controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones’ protest in Dearborn on April 22 but Fiorello backed off his protest after meeting with Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly and a member of an interfaith group.

Jones ended up protesting a week later after being ordered by a Dearborn district judge that he would have to post a peace bond if he wanted to protest outside the Islamic Center of America on Good Friday.

Fiorello also said he backed away from Jones after a difference of option about how the protest should be handled.

“We’re not wanting to be involved in shock tactics,” said Fiorello. “That is not our route.”

Jones, meanwhile, has planned to protest against “radical Islam” at the Arab American International Festival in Dearborn next month.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

GOP Lawmaker: I Saw TSA Pat Down ‘Little Old Lady,’ Child, But Not Arab Man

The Transportation Security Administration is too worried about “political correctness,” according to a Republican lawmaker.

Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said TSA is too politically correct when it chooses which passengers to search at airport security checkpoints.

During a recent trip, Broun said he saw TSA pat down an elderly person and a child, but not a man he himself deemed suspicious.

“I walked through … right behind me there was a grandmother — little old lady, and she was was patted down,” Broun said on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”

“Right behind her was a little kid who was patted down. And then right behind him was a guy in Arabian dress who just walked right through. Why are we patting down grandma and kids?”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Key Jewish Donor Breaks With Obama

One of the most important Democratic donors in the past two decades, whose generous contributions helped pay for the DNC headquarters in Washington, D.C., has indicated that he will not contribute to President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, because of the administration’s stance on Israel.

Billionaire financier Haim Saban told CNBC last night that Obama hasn’t done enough to show support for Israel. He also said that he has no plans to contribute to the president’s campaign.

“President Obama has raised so much money and will raise so much money through the Internet, more than anybody before him. And he frankly doesn’t, I believe, need any of my donations,” said Saban.

“I’m very perplexed as to why the president, who’s been to Cairo, to Saudi Arabia, to Turkey, has not made a stop in Israel and spoken to the Israeli people,” he continued. “I believe that the president can clarify to the Israeli people what his positions are on Israel and calm them down. Because they are not calm right now.”

There have been reports that Obama is losing Jewish support after his clash with Prime Minister Netanyahu last week, but this development is the most significant so far. If a key donor like Saban has decided to break with the president, then there are likely others who will follow suit.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Linguists Break Into Skype Conversations

Chatting over internet phone networks like Skype may not be as secure as once thought: security researchers have shown that encrypted voice-over-internet-protocal (VoIP) conversations can be partially understood by an eavesdropper.

Transmitting voice data through the internet securely involves encoding and then encrypting speech. This combination of two signal-processing techniques means the size of the encrypted data packets reflect properties of the original speech, a key vulnerability that allowed a team of computer scientists and linguists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to reconstruct words and phrases from a VoIP call.

The team listen in by splitting the sequence of encrypted VoIP data packets into sequences that correspond to phonemes, the short sounds that form the building blocks of speech. They then apply linguistic rules to turn a string of phonemes into words — for example, the spoken conjunction that sounds like “zzdr”, which occurs in the middle of “eavesdrop” (say it out loud and you’ll hear it) never appears at the start of an English word.

The researchers compare the technique to the way infants learn to understand speech, segmenting the stream of sound coming from an adult’s mouth into words by using linguistic clues such as separating out their own name.

Users don’t need to worry about people listening in on their entire Skype conversation though, as the success of their technique varies widely. The team tested it on 6300 recordings in eight American English dialects and evaluated the performance using METEOR, a widely used scoring system for comparing machine translation techniques. Only 2.3 per cent scored over 0.5, meaning they are generally considered understandable, though some scores were much higher with near-perfect recovery of full sentences…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Senator McCain Becomes Shill for Al-Jazeera

The Arab-funded Al-Jazeera is hosting a two-day inaugural “Al Jazeera U.S. Forum” in Washington, D.C., featuring Bob Woodward of The Washington Post among the celebrity journalists. But of particular interest is Politico’s revelation that Republican Senator John McCain showed up at the opening night of the forum to praise the channel’s coverage of the Middle East.

“Over dinner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. John McCain praised Al Jazeera’s role as a catalyst in the Arab Spring uprisings before a room of journalists…” the publication reported. In fact, the “Arab Spring” has resulted in a government in Egypt that is less friendly to the U.S. and more accommodating to the Iranians and the terrorist group, Hamas.


McCain’s praise of Al-Jazeera was also curious because the channel, during the 2008 presidential campaign, had savaged the McCain-Palin ticket by running a piece depicting Republican voters as country bumpkins and racists. Casey Kaufmann, the Al-Jazeera reporter who did the story, contributed $500 to the Obama-for-president campaign, a violation of basic standards of journalism ethics.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Southside Residents Say No to Planned Neighborhood Mosque

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Some Southside neighbors are saying ‘no’ to plans for a mosque moving into their community.

At a public meeting in the Regency Library, residents of Anniston Road told attorneys and city councilman Bill Bishop the planned mosque is a bad idea.

Some said they are against the zoning exemption the property needs to move forward, not against the Muslim religion.

“They want the entrance right there, 75 feet from my front door,” said Sam Taylor, who lives across the street from the lot.

“It’s a nice little quiet spot and you don’t need something like [a mosque] to basically destroy it all,” Taylor said. “I mean they’ll turn that whole property into a parking lot.”

Taylor doesn’t mind the church parking lot next door, saying it’s a small church with little traffic. He fears another place of worship would change that.

The owner of the property is Ehsan Bayat, whom attorneys said is an American citizen originally from Afghanistan who does not live in the Anniston Road neighborhood. Attorneys said Bayat was unable to attend Wednesday evening’s meeting because he was out of town.

Along with traffic, people also expressed concerns about loud music and times of worship.

Attorney T.R. Hainline said the mosque would not have loud speakers or project music, and that worship would be only once a week on Friday afternoons.

Neighbors didn’t buy it, and signed a petition against zoning exemption approval for the mosque. They said they still have a lot of concerns but religion isn’t one of them.

“I’m not prejudiced. I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body,” Taylor said. “I’d help them do anything they need to do except build that [mosque].”

Builders are waiting on approval of zoning exemption needed because of the lot’s size before the mosque can be built.

If the zoning exception is approved, attorneys said the mosque would be built sometime next year.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Strauss-Kahn Moves to a Manhattan Loft

(AGI) New York — Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF director accused of raping a maid, moved into a new apartment in southwest Manhattan. DSK arrived last evening at 153 Franklin Street, in the Tribeca neighborhood, a formerly industrial area, home of hangars and factories transformed in the early ‘90s into un elegant lofts.

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

Two New York City Officers Acquitted of Rape

Two New York City police officers were acquitted on Thursday of the most serious charges in the rape of a drunken woman who had been helped into her apartment by the officers while on patrol.

The verdict provides some measure of vindication for the officers, Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, and brings to an end a criminal case that drew outrage across the city when the officers were indicted in 2009.

Still, the jury convicted both officers of official misconduct for entering her apartment, but found them not guilty of all other charges, including burglary and falsifying business records.

[Return to headlines]


Canada Deplores Iran’s Election to the UN Commission on Population and Development

(No. 142 — May 26, 2011 — 11:45 a.m. ET) John Baird, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, issued the following statement regarding Iran’s election to the UN Commission on Population and Development:

“Canada deplores the election of Iran to a seat on the United Nations Commission on Population and Development.

“At the UN, Canada vocally opposed Iran’s candidacy and worked with our allies and like-minded countries to defeat its candidacy. We acted strongly by calling for a vote and then voting against Iran in this election.

“In order to ensure the continued credibility of the Commission on Population and Development and similar UN agencies, Canada would expect that all members live up to the principles on which the UN was founded.

“Canada remains extremely troubled by the outrageous human rights abuses committed by Iran against its own citizens, and by Iran’s threats and actions to undermine the safety, security and stability of its neighbours.

“The Iranian people, like all peoples, deserve to live in dignity and free of government-sanctioned persecution.

“Furthermore, Iran’s neighbours deserve the chance to let freedom, democracy and civil society reign without fear of retribution or interference.

“Canada will persist in urging Iran to improve its human rights record, including in the areas of religious freedom and the rights of women.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Bin Laden Called for Attacks on Denmark, US Officials Say

American intelligence uncovers proof that terrorist named several Danish targets for attacks

Material confiscated by the American military at Osama bin Laden’s house proves the al-Qaeda leader encouraged jihadists to strike several targets in Denmark, reports Politiken newspaper.

Two American officials confirmed to AP news service that Bin Laden was intent on punishing the Danish people for the Mohammed cartoons published by Jyllands-Posten newspaper in 2005. However, the officials did not give details about the specific acts Bin Laden challenged his followers to carry out in Denmark.

In the wake of publication of the Mohammed drawings, widespread protests ensued in several Islamic countries, in which Danish embassies were burned and Danish products boycotted. In addition, fatwas were issued against the cartoonists and editors responsible. In the years since, Danish police have foiled several assassination attempts on cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, and also a number of planned attacks on Jyllands-Posten’s head office.

American intelligence decided to inform Denmark’s intelligence agency PET, as well as other European intelligence agencies, of what they found in Bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, following the raid on May 2 in which American navy seals killed the al-Qaeda leader.

Some of the materials discovered revealed that just prior to Christmas last year, Bin Laden encouraged followers living in Europe to carry out terrorist attacks in European countries.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Find Wilders Not Guilty of Inciting Hatred, Says Prosecution

The public prosecution department on Wednesday called for PVV leader Gert Wilders to be found not guilty of inciting hatred, as it tied up its case against the MP.

Prosecutors say Wilders’ remarks are critical of Islam which is not the same as inciting hatred against muslims themselves.

Earlier in the day the prosecutors said Wilders’ should be found not guilty of insulting a group because he has not stated any conclusions about muslims. Instead he has merely criticised their religion, the prosecutors said.


The decision to call on judges to find Wilders not guilty follows on from fact the department did not want to take the PVV leader to court in the first place.

However, it was forced to do so by the appeal court following protests from a number of ethnic minority groups.

The final charge against Wilders, incitement to discrimination, will be discussed later today.

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

Finland: Hakkarainen Censured After Racial Comments

The True Finns parliamentary group has issued a censure to freshman MP Teuvo Hakkarainen following comments printed in the newspaper Jämsän Seutu. The group also issued a statement condemning racism and discrimination.

The interview published by Jämsän Seutu quoted Hakkarainen using the word neekeri, which is considered a racial slur.

In the interview, Hakkarainen suggested that refugees are lazy and should be put to work “clearing up forests …in the sleet” and be sent to live in abandoned buildings in the countryside. He said that, in his own work in various countries as a forestry consultant, he had noticed people of European descent worked harder.

Hakkarainen told the True Finns’ parliamentary group leadership on Tuesday that he had not himself used the word neekeri in the interview.

“Completely Uninhibited”

However the journalist, Ilkka Palmu, insisted that he had, describing Hakkarainen as “completely uninhibited”. Palmu added that he had not reported Hakkarainen’s most provocative statements for fear that the newspaper would be sued.

The True Finns’ parliamentary group considered the matter and the evidence in a three-hour meeting on Wednesday. The group settled on issuing a censure to Hakkarainen over his general recent behaviour, which it said was not in keeping with the dignity required of his position.

Party chair Timo Soini says that Hakkarainen accepted the reprimand.

The new MP was involved in another interview scandal a month ago, when he used the same offending word and a mocking tone to describe immigrants in a video interview with the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Hakkarainen is a 51-year-old Pentecostalist sawmill owner from Viitasaari, central Finland, who dropped out of school after ninth grade.

True Finns Condemn Racism

The True Finns’ parliamentary delegation also agreed on a statement condemning all types of discrimination, racism and violence. The statement was read out by its author, MP Jussi Halla-Aho. He himself was convicted of defaming religion last year after making anti-Muslim comments.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

French Politician Hit by Sex Harassment Claims

Two women have accused a government minister of sexually harassing them under the guise of giving therapeutic foot massages, a prosecutor and French media said Wednesday.

One of the women told a French newspaper that she had been inspired to break her silence by the attempted rape accusations against ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a case that has prompted widespread soul-searching in France about whether powerful men have been allowed to harass women without consequences.

District prosecutor Marie-Suzanne Le Queau told The Associated Press that she had received a complaint against junior civil service minister Georges Tron, who is also the mayor of the Paris suburb of Draveil.

Le Parisien newspaper reported that two former municipal employees, 34 and 36, claim Tron harassed them several times between 2007 and 2010 under the guise of giving them foot massages.

The newspaper quoted one of the women as saying she was spurred to take action by the arrest of Strauss-Kahn in New York after a hotel chambermaid said he tried to rape her. The paper quoted Tron as saying the women’s claims were driven by a personal vendetta. Tron, a member of Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP party, joined the government in 2010. Tron’s lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The lawyer who filed the complaint, Gilbert Collard, also could not immediately be reached for comment. Since Strauss-Kahn’s arrest on May 14, other women have come forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior, including writer Tristane Banon, who says Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her in 2002.

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

Gun Smuggling on the Rise in Sweden: Police

Firearms are becoming more readily available in Sweden with smuggling increasingly difficult to control, according to the police.

While only 12 weapons have been seized by Swedish customs to date this year, the problem is far more extensive with a large number of unrecorded cases, according to a report by Sveriges Radio (SR).

“We are talking about the post, containers, rail goods, trucks and commercial vessels. There is a huge flow. There are many channels and we are not even close to being able to control everything,” said Lars Bäckström at the Swedish customs to SR.

Swedish cities, primarily Gothenburg and Malmö, have been the scene of several shootings in recent months.

Witnesses to a shooting in a Malmö car park on May 11th described the killing as an “execution” in what was apparently a hit with links to organized crime, an increasing problem in both cities.

Police fear that the greater availability of illegal weapons could be behind the rise in gun crimes in Swedish cities with the number of weapons seized increasing from year to year.

According to the latest national police figures for 2008, 850 weapons were seized in Sweden, but police report coming across an increasing number of illegal weapons.

Lars Bäckström told SR that the customs service is need of reinforcements in order to cope with the influx.

“If you compare with other information and intelligence which we work with then you could say the information on weapons and arms smuggling is thin,” he said to SR.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy’s PM Says Left-Wing Voters Lack Brains

(AGI) Rome — Italy’s PM today said the Left’s “only chance of winning election ballots is if Italians leave their brains home”.

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

Italy: Fiat Chief May Want to Boost Chrysler Stake to Above 51%

Turin, 25 May (AKI) — Fiat could increase its stake in Chrysler to more than 51 percent ahead of an initial stock said of the American carmaker, said Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of both companies on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters in Turin, Marchionne declined to say whether a Chrysler IPO would happen later this year or in 2012, but stressed that North American market were strong.

Fiat on Tuesday increased its stake in Chrysler to 46 percent, from 30 percent after the company based near Detroit paid back 7.6 billion dollars in loans from the US and Canadian governments. Fiat paid $1.27 billion for the 16 percent Chrysler stake.

Marchionne is pushing Chrysler to increase its global sales 32 percent in 2011 and post its first annual net profit since emerging from bankruptcy reorganization in 2009.

Fiat expects to raise its stake by an additional 5 percent during the fourth quarter, Marchionne said told journalists in Turin, Italy, where the company has its headquarters.

Marchionne said he may merger the two companies, though he has no timing in mind.

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

Malta to Hold Divorce Referendum on Saturday

(AGI) La Valletta — Next Saturday Maltese voters will vote in a referendum on whether or not to introduce divorce to the country. Malta and the Philippines are the only two nations in the world not to allow it. The referendum is purely consultative and will then need to be ratified with a law in Parliament.

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

UK: Elderly Patients Dying of Thirst

Doctors forced to prescribe drinking water to keep the old alive, reveals devastating report on hospital care

Doctors are prescribing drinking water for neglected elderly patients to stop them dying of thirst in hospital.

The measure — to remind nurses of the most basic necessity — is revealed in a damning report on pensioner care in NHS wards.

Some trusts are neglecting the elderly on such a fundamental level their wards could face closure orders.

The snapshot study, triggered by a Mail campaign, found staff routinely ignored patients’ calls for help and forgot to check that they had had enough to eat and drink.

Dehydration contributes to the death of more than 800 hospital patients every year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Four Muslims Who Battered Man for Teaching RE to Girls Jailed for Being ‘A Danger Due to Their Extreme Religious Beliefs’

Four Muslim men were jailed today after they carried out a brutal attack on an RE teacher because they did not approve of him teaching religious studies to Muslim girls.

Gary Smith, 38, received ‘appalling injuries’ after he was set upon by the gang as he walked to work at Central Foundation Girls’ School in Bow, east London, on July 12 last year.

Armed with a metal rod and a brick, they punched, kicked and attacked Mr Smith, leaving him unconscious and covered in blood on the pavement in Burdett Road, Tower Hamlets.

Simon Alam, 19, of Whitechapel, Azad Hussain, 26, of Wapping, Sheikh Rashid, 27, of Shadwell, and Akmol Hussein, 26, of Bethnal Green, all in east London, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent earlier this year.

Sentencing them at east London’s Snaresbrook Crown Court, Judge John Hand QC said he believed they all remained a danger to the public due to their extreme religious beliefs.

Addressing the defendants one by one, he said: ‘Your belief is that you carried out a duty to your God and you did so with no mercy.’

‘If you think that people around you in society present an insult or threat to God then you will not hesitate in attacking again in the way that you have acted.’

After hearing how Mr Smith suffered multiple injuries, including lacerations and bruising all over his body, has a permanent 12cm long deep scar across his left cheek, and how the whole of the facial part of his skull was broken, he said: ‘Literally, this man had his face smashed in.’

The court heard how the men were only caught out because Akmol Hussein’s car was being bugged on an unrelated matter.

On the surveillance tape they were heard to plan the attack and it was also clear that they had lain in wait for Mr Smith as he walked to school on other mornings as they spoke of how they had been unsuccessful on other occasions.

Hussein, who had a niece at the school, was heard to say: ‘He’s mocking us and he’s putting thoughts in people’s minds.

‘How can somebody take a job to teach Islam when he’s not even a Muslim himself?’

He was also recorded as saying that he did not care if he had to go to prison over the attack as he was doing it for the sake of Allah.

The court heard that the men had admitted their motivation behind the attack was their religious belief. None of them other than Hussein had a connection with the school, which teaches pupils of mainly Bangladeshi origin.

Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse said of Mr Smith: ‘He was targeted as the victim of this attack quite simply because of his position as head of religious studies at the school.

‘The defendants held very strong religious beliefs and they chose him because they did not approve of his teaching.’

Mr Smith, who had been head of religious studies at the school for eight years, was ‘by all accounts an able, enthusiastic and popular teacher’.

He followed the national curriculum by teaching his pupils all six of the main religions along with ethical issues such as abortion and euthanasia, the court heard.

Some of the defendants had also claimed the reason behind the attack was because of rumours that he had raped a girl at the school, but this was found to be ‘utterly without foundation and a complete mistake’ when it was investigated.

Judge Hand said that, if the defendants had a real issue with Mr Smith’s lessons, they should have gone about dealing with it in other ways.

He said: ‘If you do not approve of particular teaching then recourse can be had with the employer, with the local education authority, or the school governors, or to the headteacher.

‘There are no doubt other avenues by which dissatisfaction with teaching can be addressed.’

Mr Smith was found lying on the pavement by two passers-by following the attack just after 8am, and was rushed to hospital, where he did not regain consciousness for two days.

The court heard that he cannot remember anything of the assault, and has problems with his memory now which affects his abilities as a teacher.

His injuries have left him unable to be the active and healthy man he once was and he has had to give up his passion for martial arts.

He suffers from depression and anxiety and ‘is unable to enjoy life and lives in constant fear of being attacked again’, the judge said.

He said he deemed Akmol Hussein, a social worker and self- employed builder, and Azad Hussain, a finance worker, to have played the greatest role in the planning and execution of the attack and sentenced them each to an indeterminate sentence with a minimum of five years.

Student Alam was told he must serve a minimum of five years in prison before being released on licence for a further five years, while bus driver Rashid was handed a four-year sentence with a further five years on licence.

A fifth defendant, Badruzzuha Uddin, 24, also of Shadwell, was also jailed for two years after previously admitting a charge of assisting an offender after he hid the men’s bloodstained clothes.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Mother Killed by a Blood Clot Weeks After GP Told Her ‘Don’t Worry, You Won’t Drop Dead’

A woman who feared her continual migraines were life-threatening died weeks after a GP allegedly told her: ‘Don’t worry, you won’t drop dead.’

Lucy Rudol visited her doctor up to 50 times to voice her worries at the headaches which were leaving her in pain and confused, an inquest heard.

After four years she was eventually given a scan which revealed blood clots on her brain and showed that she had suffered a series of minor strokes.

Her mother, Julie Harrison, a nurse, said: ‘Lucy started feeling numbness down her left side and she developed terrible headaches.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: The Gloating ‘Killer’: Burglar Boasts on Facebook After Being Told He Wouldn’t Face Charge Over the Death of His Elderly Victim

A teenage burglar who broke into an 80-year-old woman’s home gloated on Facebook, ‘Bring it on, easy!’ just minutes after a judge ruled he and his accomplice would not face manslaughter charges over her death.

Pauline Reddick suffered a stroke after Louis Corbett and Liam Cunliffe broke into her home at 3.30am. She died in hospital eight hours later.

After her death, the two 18-year-olds were charged with manslaughter and the case against them was put before a judge.

Prosecutors argued that they were culpable because they would have been aware that an elderly person lived at the house after hearing her call out and by looking at the decor.

But although Judge Neil Ford, QC, admitted that Mrs Reddick ‘may not have died’ if the two thugs had not broken into her home, he told Bristol Crown Court that the pair could not have known she was susceptible to strokes — and were therefore not responsible for her death.

Both Corbett and Cunliffe have pleaded guilty to burglary and will be sentenced next month.

After yesterday’s ruling, the teenage burglars bragged about the decision on Facebook.

With no regard for his victim, Cunliffe, from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, wrote: ‘Liam Cunliffe is a happy bunni. All i can say DROPPED!! YAA.

‘I’m only lookin at six months. Haa. Bring it on. Easy!’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Unlabelled Clone Meat Allowed on Shop Shelves as Food Safety Proposals Are Ripped

Food from the offspring of cloned animals, including meat and milk, has been approved for sale without labels.

The Food Standards Agency yesterday tore up proposals that would have required it to go through a safety assessment.

It comes despite research showing eight in ten shoppers oppose the cloning of farm livestock.

Unlabelled food produced using the offspring of clones, such as dairy products, meat pies and ready meals, can now go on sale without any threat of legal action.

But animal welfare groups say the cloning technique is cruel, with a high number of miscarriages, deformities and gigantism.

And consumer groups say labels are essential to give shoppers choice.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Serbia: Belgrade to Curb False Asylum-Seekers After EU Threat to Re-Impose Visas

Belgrade, 25 May (AKI) — Serbia has taken steps to curb false asylum-seekers in west European countries after the European Union proposed on Tuesday it might re-impose visas on Balkan countries from which the number of asylum-seekers has sharply increased.

The European Union abolished visas for citizens of Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro with biometrical passports in December 2009 and thousands of people from these countries had flocked to west Europe to seek political asylum.

The most affected countries, Belgium, Germany and France have sounded the alarm, demanding urgent measures to stop the influx of illegal migrants. German officials said that from January until October last year 3,032 citizens of Serbia and 1,790 of Macedonia applied for asylum in that country, which was topped only by applicants from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Most applicants were Roma and ethnic Albanians and it is believed they were motivated by financial gains, because some countries were paying up to 600 euros for rejected applicants who agreed to return home voluntarily.

The abolition of visas was considered one of the main achievements of Serbia’s pro-European government and re-imposition of visas would be a serious set back in the pre-election year, analysts said.

Prime minister Mirko Cvetkovic said on Wednesday the government had enacted measures to stop the flow of false asylum-seekers, but it was “too early to assess how efficient they were”.

He said the number of applicants has been reduced lately, but it has to be determined whether it was just seasonal, or a long-range trend.

The European Commission — the EU’s administrative body — has proposed a temporary six-month re-imposition of visas on countries from which the number of asylum-seekers increases by 50 per cent from the present level. The proposal is expected to be approved by EU interior ministers next month.

Serbia now requires a return ticket, the proof of accommodation and 500 euros for passengers traveling to Schengen zone countries. Police minister Ivica Dacic said the legislation should be enacted to take away passports from false-asylum seekers who had abused visa waivers.

EU officials have said there were no true political asylum-seekers from wet Balkans countries, ascribing the influx to economic motives.

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

Mediterranean Union

EU: Brussels Begins New Neighbourhood Policy With Extra 1 Bln

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAY 25 — Extra funds are on the way for the EU’s new neighbourhood policy, which was launched in Brussels today by the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Lady Catherine Ashton and the Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule. The EU Commission has allocated an extra 1.24 billion euros for the scheme on top of the 5.7 billion euros already agreed for the period between 2011 and 2013, in support for 16 partner countries south and east of EU borders.

“More funds for more reforms” is the slogan of the new strategy, which is geared in particular towards the “Arab Spring” and change in general from the advent of democracy to the protection of human rights. EU funds will no longer be made freely available and will instead become subject to conditions.

“This is not a unilateral approach, but one in which each neighbour is recognised differently,” Ashton said today. “Our support will go to countries that see through significant reforms, not according to geography,” Fule added. There are five parameters upon which the new EU strategy will be based: free and fair elections, freedom of association, expression and movement and freedom of the press, state of law administered by an independent judiciary and access to a fair justice system and fair court, the reform of the security sector (including the police) and democratic control over the armed forces and security. The new neighbourhood policy is aimed in particular at supporting civil society, “in order to promote sustainable growth, new jobs, to facilitate mobility through partnerships and greater access to visas, but also cooperation in other fields such as the environment, information technology and transport,” Fule said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

African Union Asks NATO to Stop Bombing Gaddafi

(AGI) Addis Ababa — The African Union has formally asked NATO to stop their bombing campaign against Libya. The announcement came at the end of an emergency two-day summit in Addis Ababa and was taken in an effort to find a political solution to the conflict, said Ramtane Lamamra of Algeria, the AU’s High Commissioner for Peace and Security.

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

Arab Spring Boosts Dream of Desert Power

Desertec is a multi-billion-dollar energy initiative that hopes to meet Europe’s energy needs with solar power from the Sahara. The recent upheavals in North Africa have put the project in question. But many experts argue that the Arab Spring will actually help Desertec’s grand vision become reality.

The images projected on the wall of the conference hall were familiar shots of Egyptian protesters, with youthful faces juxtaposed by the harsh countenances of dark-clad security forces. But for once this wasn’t a discussion about the causes of the Arab Spring or the revolutionary potential of the Internet. Instead, it was a conference on solar power: more specifically Desertec, the hugely ambitious energy initiative that hopes to exploit the Saharan sun to produce abundant clean solar power.

Desertec may have been labeled the energy megaproject of the 21st century, but some critics argue that the Arab Spring unrest will put an end to dreams of desert solar energy. But at a major conference on Desertec and the uprisings in the Arab world held this week in Berlin, experts expressed optimism about the revolutions’ impact on the project’s future. Many see the recent push for democracy as a step towards the stability necessary to establish projects like Desertec in the region.

“Many critics are saying that the Desertec project is dead because of the unrest in the region. But I would say the exact opposite is true,” Kirsten Westphal, an energy expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), told SPIEGEL ONLINE. She argues that a pro-democracy movement can open up opportunities and lay the foundations for long-term economic development.

Meeting Europe’s Energy Demands

The Desertec project first got energy experts and the public buzzing back in 2009, when the plans were announced. The grand — some would say grandiose — idea is to construct a network of concentrating solar-thermal power systems in North African deserts to produce green electricity that can be used at the local level — and ultimately exported to European countries…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Brotherhood Leader: Next Govt to be Islamist

A new video posted on the internet shows a prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader saying Egypt’s next government will be Islamist.

The clip shows Sobhi Saleh, a senior Brotherhood figure who was a member of a judicial panel that laid down Egypt’s current interim constitution, making statements to the group’s younger members that became controversial.

In the clip, Saleh said younger Brotherhood members should marry wives from within the group, saying those marriages will produce children and families that will form a “Brotherhood community able to impose its presence on life in Egypt.”

He further said that getting married to non-Brotherhood members hinders the group’s bid to achieve its “fourth victory” — namely, to enter Parliament and form an Islamist government.

On an internet forum, younger Brotherhood members demanded that Saleh apologize for his remarks.

“Is the Brotherhood acting as a state that can limit marriages to holders of its nationality?” one contributor said.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Brotherhood Leader: We Shall Apply Islamic Shariah

The Muslim Brotherhood would apply Islamic sharia if it came to power, said leading Brotherhood figure Sobhi Saleh, adding that sharia protects non-Muslim citizens.

“Terms like civil or secular state are misleading,” he said. “Islamic sharia is the best system for Muslims and non-Muslims.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Egyptian Activists ‘To Form Nazi Party’, Newspaper Reports

‘Al-Masry Al-Youm’ report says Facebook pages launched to attract followers; Nazi parties operated secretly in Egypt during Mubarak regime.

A group of Egyptian political activists have announced plans to set up a local version “of the Nazi party,” an Egyptian newspaper reported on Thursday.

Citing a leftist Egyptian news portal, the Al-Masry Al-Youm daily said that “the party’s founding deputy is a former military official,” and that the party would be aimed at bringing “together prominent figures from the Egyptian society.”

The report cited founding member Emad Abdel Sattar as saying that party “believes in vesting all powers in the president after selecting him or her carefully,” and that “preparations are underway to choose the most competent person to represent the party.”

Al-Masry Al-Youm added that an Egyptian Nazi party “operated secretly under former President Hosni Mubarak, whose regime prevented party leaders from carrying out their activities freely.”

Al-Masry Al-Youm said it could not verify the report, but said it found “two Facebook pages” that “appeared recently under the title of “the Egyptian Nazi Party,” which have so far attracted 70 followers.

Members are “increasing at an unexpected rate, and several people came to ask about the nature of the party and its plans,” the report said.

The party has a one-year plan to develop Egypt, unlike the “marginalized liberal parties, which are like dead bodies,” a source was quoted as saying.

“The idea to start it came after some fundamentalist religious waves emerged, which, according to the source, created a state of chaos and led to the burning of churches, the destruction of shrines and assaults on unarmed civilians,” the source added.

Responding to the report, Dr. Mordechai Kedar, of Bar Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said Egypt was going through a highly turbulent period, adding that all manner of bizarre individuals were launching Facebook groups and attracting members.

Historically, he said, the German Nazi party saw three attempts to copy it in the Arab world of the 1930s; In Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Libya: Habeshia: Ethnic Cleansing Risk for Black Libyans

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 25 — Black Libyans risk an ethnic cleansing action in Libya because of the determination against them by Libyans of Arab origin that sympathise with the rebels, who attack them as though they were Gaddafi’s mercenaries. Such is the warning raised by don Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean priest who in Rome presides the Habeshia cooperation and development agency and who reported the “massacre of 800 Africans in Misrata alone”.

He pointed out that the massacre was directly reported to him by African refugees who landed in Italy. It is allegedly documented in a number of videos of the Habeshia agency website that depict “cruel episodes and fury on lifeless bodies”, which are “manifestation of deep held hate”. In Libya there are two ethnic groups not of Arab origin, said don Zerai, and the risk that they may become the victims of ethnic cleansing during the bloody clashes between Gaddafi’s supporters and the rebels is very high. The clergyman claimed that there is still indifference despite the previous warning.

Don Zerai thus asked for the attention of the international community so that “black Libyans are not massacred”, while “hundreds of thousands of Darfur Sudanese” also trapped in Libya, risk “being crushed by this intolerance that is spreading in the territories occupied by the rebels”. Because in his opinion the authors of these murders and violent acts are the anti-Gaddafi rebels. Don Zerai asked “What guarantees is Europe asking from the new lords of Libya freed from Gaddafi? We need at all costs to avoid another genocide in the African continent”. In the past other organisations reported that the risk is also being run by many other immigrants of African origin in Libya, which from the very start of the war have been mistaken for black mercenaries working for Gaddafi.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Italy: Napolitano: Those Challenging UN Must Desist

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 25 — “Unfortunately, in Libya there is still a harsh conflict taking place. Italy is working there to fully enforce UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973. We hope that those who go against the appeals of the international community and continue to challenge it desist as soon as possible,” said Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Africa Day. This is necessary, said Napolitano, for “the Libyan people to be able achieve their legitimate aspirations of freedom, justice and democracy”.

“Today is a time to reflect together on how much our future — I am mainly referring to the Mediterranean and Europe — is linked to the future of Africa”, while he stressed that “airtight geographical or cultural districts” at this point in time have given way to international relations “with closer ties and bonds of interdependence”. In reality, we are witnessing “deep seated tendencies in the direction of growth in the demand for democracy, respect for human rights, justice and legality which accompany and uphold processes of economic and social development.” This marks the end of the line for autocracies and “in Africa the key players in this renewal are young people, women, the productive classes emerging in the cities and countryside” who are expressing “their will to change quickly”. In this context, Napolitano observed with satisfaction that “Egypt and Tunisia at this point in time have overcome a tumultuous political and social period without any serious trauma thanks to the sense of responsibility of the people and the authorities”. “We hope,” he said, “that their path to democracy continues in this complex and delicate phase of transition which has begun. We hope that the protection of human rights and minorities becomes stronger. The support of Italy and Europe will not be lacking in the processes to build institutions in these countries.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Yemen: Fighting Breaks Out in the Streets of Sanaa, As Saleh Refuses to Go

The country is on the verge of civil war. In the past few hours, dozens of people are killed in the capital. Residents try to flee as the United States orders the evacuation of its citizens. The opposition pledges to intensify its protests against Saleh, in power for 33 years.

Sanaa (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Dozens of people have died in the last few hours when fighting broke out in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, as forces loyal to President Abdullah Saleh battle his opponents, backed by fighters from the Hashid tribe, led by the al-Ahmar family.

The Defence Ministry said in an online posting that at least 28 people were killed in an explosion at a weapons storage area held by the Hashid tribe.

Yemen’s state prosecutor ordered the arrest of “rebellious” leaders of the tribal group led by the al-Ahmar family. A government official also announced that the headquarters of an opposition television station had been “destroyed,” without giving details.

Residents were fleeing Sanaa by the hundreds, hurriedly fastening possessions to the roofs of cars, hoping to escape the violence that has killed many people since Monday and threatened to spread into other areas of the capital Sanaa. The capital’s airport was also closed for a few hours.

The United States has ordered US nationals to leave Yemen.

Some observers believe that today’s battle could turn into a full-scale civil war. The most recent clashes have been concentrated in a part of northern Sanaa where fighters loyal to powerful tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar have been trying to take over government buildings, including the Interior Ministry.

Clashes broke out after Saleh, for the third time, refused to resigned in accordance with a deal brokered by Gulf States. Under the agreement, the president would quit and a national unity government would be formed.

Abdullah Saleh has ruled Yemen for 33 years. In February, in the wake of demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia, a movement in favour of democracy and reforms began emerging.

Barack Obama has renewed calls for president Saleh to go. But the latter has hit back. “We don’t work according to a foreign agenda,” he said. “We don’t take orders from outsiders. This is an internal affair.”

Opposition groups say they will step up their protests if the president does not stand aside.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Egypt’s Opening of Gaza Crossing Prompts Hamas Welcome, Israeli Concern

Egypt’s decision to open its border crossing with the Gaza Strip permanently from May 28 has been welcomed by Hamas, which controls the Palestinian enclave, while raising concern in Israel.

In addition to ending restrictions at the Rafah crossing, Egypt will waive visa requirements for most Palestinians entering from other departure points, except neighboring Libya, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported yesterday.

“These measures are the right decision in the right direction to facilitate the daily life of the population and ease its suffering,” Hamas, the Islamic movement that controls Gaza, said in an e-mailed statement today.

The Egyptian move is a “problematic” first step, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Israel Radio today, though he said it doesn’t constitute a violation of the Camp David accords between the countries. Israel’s Foreign Ministry will withhold comment until it sees what the arrangements at the border with Gaza will be, spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

Israel maintains an embargo on the Gaza coast in what it says is an effort to prevent weapons smuggling. It has restricted the flow of goods and people in and out of Gaza through its own border crossings since Hamas gained full control of the area in 2007.

Egypt has also restricted the passage of Gazans through its own crossing since Hamas clashed with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, breaking apart their unity government.

Reconnecting Gaza

Opening Rafah will “again reconnect the Gaza Strip with the Arab world and the international community,” said Mohsen Abu Ramadan, a Gaza-based economist. “It would be helpful to businessmen to make deals with Arab and foreign businessmen and investors, and consequently this would lead to ending the Israeli siege imposed on Gaza.”

Egypt’s move to open the border is part of its efforts to back the Palestinian groups’ reconciliation, its state-run news agency said. The new Egyptian leadership, which has taken a more favorable approach to Hamas since President Hosni Mubarak was forced out in February following anti-government protests, brokered an agreement between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo this month that paves the way for a new unity government.

Hamas is defined as a terrorist group by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union.

Restoring 2007 Rules

In easing the border restrictions, Egypt is restoring the rules that existed before the 2007 Gaza clashes, with only Palestinian men 18 to 40 requiring visas, MENA said. As a result of the turmoil in Libya, all Palestinians entering from there will also need visas, the agency said.

Tunnels dug underneath the Egypt-Gaza border have become a central means of smuggling goods and people back and forth to evade restrictions at the Rafah crossing. Israel says the tunnels are also used to bring in weapons and the rockets fired into the country’s south.

Humanitarian and pro-Palestinian groups have repeatedly tried to break the sea blockade by sailing ships toward Gaza, and nine Turkish activists from one such flotilla were killed in a clash with the Israel navy a year ago. Another Gaza-bound aid flotilla is scheduled to leave Turkey next month.

Israel eased restrictions on essential goods and fuel brought into Gaza via its Kerem Shalom crossing over the past year, in part as a reaction to international pressure spurred by the flotilla clash.

Gisha, an Israeli group that advocates Palestinian rights of movement, said today that Israel should respond to the opening of the Rafah crossing by also permitting the “passage of people and goods between Gaza and the West Bank.”

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

The Truth About the Israeli ‘Occupiers’

In 1967, after years of threatening to “wipe Israel off the map,” Egypt and other Arab countries finally mustered the courage to attack. They huffed and they puffed and … well, they blew their own house down, humiliating themselves and the entire Arab world in the process. Israel’s superior military forces crushed the puff-prone Arabs in six days, from whence came the name “Six-Day War.”

Since then, land annexed by the Israelis following that war has been referred to by the Muslim world and progressives in the Western world as “the occupied territories.” But what those who rail on about “Israeli occupation” of these territories either don’t realize or fail to acknowledge is that immediately following the Six-Day War, the Israeli government, in a gesture of goodwill, offered to return the Golan Heights to Syria, the Sinai peninsula to Egypt and most of the West Bank to Jordan in exchange for peace.

The defeated Arab nations responded to Israel’s offer by arrogantly declaring “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel.” Hmm … not a whole lot of incentive for Israel to try to please their attackers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Tom Friedman: Bring Tahrir Square to Jerusalem

By Phyllis Chesler

This week, Tom Friedman more than earned his keep at The New York Times by essentially calling for the “non-violent” destruction of the Jewish State. I am not exaggerating. Wait until you read exactly what he’s written in his column: “Lessons From Tahrir Square.”

First, Friedman calls for a “Tahrir Square alternative” in terms of the Israel-”Palestine” impasse.

Tahrir Square? Did the man sleep through journalist Lara Logan’s mass gang rape there? Does he view such a mob as “peaceful” or “non-violent?” Does he not understand that the young Egyptian Wael Gonim has, perhaps unintentionally, paved the way for the far more organized Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists to assume power? Does Friedman actually believe that the Islamist factions at war with each other and with their overlords, chieftains, and dictators, are all engaged in “non-violent” social change?

Friedman does not focus on Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi or Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa —all of whom have been shooting down their own people in cold blood in the streets. He does not call for people of good will to “nonviolently” go and face these evil men down. No. Instead, listen to Friedman’s clarion call. He suggests that we should:…

[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Jordan: Journalists Protest Against Attacks on Press

(ANSAmed) AMMAN, MAY 24 — Journalists in Jordan on Tuesday observed a one hour work strike in protest against state sponsored attack on press members while covering demonstrations, according to union officials. “We have formed an investigation committee to probe attacks on journalists to prosecute any side responsible for this act,” said Tareq Moumani, president of the Jordan press Association (JPA).

Dozens of journalists have been attacked by anti-riot police and thugs affiliated to the security services while covering a recent demonstration in the Jordan Valley town of Karameh.

The latest incident was the latest in a series of attacks on journalists in which several were injured and equipment were damaged.

The government was forced to station a police patrol outside al Jazeerah office since more than a month after pro-regime tribes accused the pan Arab station of provoking anti-regime sentiments.

Officials from the Jordan Press Association said the move is part of a campaign launched to expose official practices against journalists.

Jordan has recently been swept by protests calling for political and economic reform but voices of change have been met with fierce resistance from influential groups in control of security apparatus and key government positions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Jordan: King Abdullah Pardons Thousands of Prisoners

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, MAY 26 — King Abdullah of Jordan has issued a royal pardon to free thousands of prisoners to absorb some pressure triggered by reform demands. The pro-west Abdullah made the decision during the kingdom’s celebration of the 63rd anniversary, which coincided with growing demands for political and economic reform.

Nearly 6000 prisoners are expected to walk free in the coming two weeks, awaiting the government to issue a legal framework for the move, Mohammad Khatib, spokesman of the public security department told ANSA. Convicted people in espionage cases, corruption and murder, rape, drug trafficking will not be among who will walk free, said officials.

The pardon is the second for the pro-west monarch since he took over from his father a decades ago. Abdullah has stressed that the move “was not weakness, but leniency to relief families of prisoners.” In his speech, Abdullah also hit out at some groups that accused his wife, Queen Rania of corruption, and called for punishing those who spread rumors.

The monarch has been struggling to ward off criticism over disappointing performance by his government on issues related to fighting corruption and carrying out political reform.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Hezbollah Leader Urges Syrians to Support Assad

(AGI) Beirut- Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has sided with Bashar al-Assad’s regime and urged Syrians to support him.

Nasrallah diffused his video message on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar broadcasting network, and exhorted “all Syrians to preserve their country as well as the ruling regime, a regime of resistance, and to give their leaders a chance to cooperate with all Syria’s communities”.

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

Nasrallah Rejects Obama Claim About Hezbollah

BEIRUT (Daily Star) — Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday rejected claim made by U.S. President Barack Obama that the resistance movement was behind the assassination of Rafik Hariri, adding, the remarks prove that an international court’s investigation has been politicized.

In a live speech via video link to a rally celebrating Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah leader said Obama’s remarks during an AIPAC meeting that Hezbollah was behind political assassinations and car bomb attacks were aimed at pleasing Israel.

“These accusations are baseless,” Nasrallah said, adding that Obama had played judge and jury, issuing a verdict before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon had even issued an indictment in the case.

This confirms Hezbollah’s assertion that the tribunal was politicized, he said.

Nasrallah also denied any role in unrest in several Arab countries.

He urged the Arab League to withdraw its initiative for the Middle East peace process in response to recent speeches by the leaders of the United States and Israel.

Citing Israel and the United State’s unwillingness to offer the Palestinians anything, Nasrallah said the Arabs were left with only one option: armed resistance.

“They have left nothing for the Arabs but the choice of resistance,” Nasrallah said, adding that speeches required a response from Arab governments.

“The speeches offered a knockout blow to the Arab peace initiative. I call on the Arab League to take that initiative off the table … it’s time to withdraw it,” Nasrallah said to cheers from the crowd, waving the yellow flag of Hezbollah.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Facebook Campaign, Let’s Beat Up Female Drivers

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 25 — Thousands of Saudi men are “gearing up” to go to “beat up” all the women who will dare to breach the driving ban scheduled for June 17, when thousands, according to the intentions posted on social networks, will challenge the law to claim the right to move by car without a driver. The “Iqal campaign”, named after the rope Saudi men use to hold their headgear, is travelling on Facebook and has already achieved thousands of supporters.

The website of Algerian daily El Watan reported that some of the supporters are proposing the idea of gifting entire cases of “iqal” to the young to place them along the roads of Riyadh and other cities in the Kingdom to “beat up” the impertinent females caught driving. But many have already made preparations: shops have been taken by assault, according to some web surfers who report that iqal prices have risen since the start of the campaign.

The initiative is gaining broad resonance on the Saudi press, which generally speaking supports women and their desire to drive. Al Watan reported that on Okaz writer Abdo Khal deplores the enforceable ban on female drivers and said that he is not aware, as regards the campaign by “thugs”, whether it is better to “laugh or cry”, while on al-Watan an editorialist, Ahmed Sayed Atif, suggested pursuing female drivers “without a driving license”.

Meanwhile a group of intellectuals launched a petition to set free Manal al-Charif, one of the promoters of the ‘Women2drivecampaign’ campaign who was arrested on Saturday because she was filmed while driving and then posted the video on Youtube. Set free after a few hours, Manal, a 32-year-old IT expert, was again arrested on Sunday morning and charged with “inciting women” to drive.

In the video posted on Youtube, Manal claimed that “no Islamic law prevents women from driving”, and added that the ban is the fruit of the ultra-conservative regime. But the iqal campaign shows that it is not only the regime, but also a macho mentality rooted in society that women have to fight against to gain emancipation, a fight that now starts from the right to drive but which in truth chases after much more important achievements, such as the right to vote, to work independently or to choose a husband. A right which may be, compared to the “iqal campaign”, much more desirable to them.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Pakistan: Anti-Christian Violence in Faisalabad: Tombs Desecrated, Young Woman Gang-Raped

Muslim landowners use tractors to plough over a Christian cemetery in order to seize the land illegally. A 29-year-old mother is drugged and raped by six men. In both cases, police covers up for the culprits. Government must act, Faisalabad priest says.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) — Christian tombs were recently desecrated and a young Christian woman was gang-raped for an entire night. In both cases, police refused to file a First Information Report, allowing the culprits to escape justice. These are examples of the ordinary violence visited upon Pakistan’s Christian minority. Whether it involves Christian-owned land and property or individuals who are targeted because they are defenceless, victims will not find justice with the country’s legal system. Gradually, Pakistan’s ‘Islamisation’ slowly progresses, especially in the densely populated province of Punjab.

The Pakistan Christian Post reports that, in Chak Jhumra (Faisalabad), Muslim landowners destroyed and desecrated a Christian graveyard, using a tractor to plough over a number of tombs. Buried coffins were broken and the bones of the dead were brought to the surface. The local police refused to open an inquiry, whilst the landowners utter threats against local Christians to get them to stop legal proceedings.

The Faisalabad chapter of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Pakistani Catholic Church has intervened in the affair. A team sent by the commission visited the desecrated graveyard and collected evidence.

However, a local Muslim has filed a claim, saying he owned the land on which the cemetery is located. The first hearing in the case is scheduled for 13 June 2011.

Fr Joseph Jamil, a Faisalabad priest, strongly condemned the anti-Christian violence. “The Church,” he said, “is closing monitoring the issue.”

“Landowners and extremists are actively involved against the Christian minority in Punjab,” he told AsiaNews. “Most attacks happen in the central part of the province.” The government, he said, should “take charge of the situation and defend the minority.”

As additional evidence of the prevailing atmosphere of violence, a story came to light involving a 29-year-old Christian woman who was abducted by a Muslim co-worker, roughed up, drugged and gang-raped.

Afshan Sabir is a factory worker and a mother of three. She was assaulted over night on 27 March in an unspecified area near Gojra. When she woke up, she sought help in a state of disorientation. She later tried to file a complaint with the local police station. However, instead of helping the woman, police officers helped the rapists cover their tracks.

On this occasion, the National Commission for Justice and Peace also intervened, providing the victim with legal counsel and following the case on her behalf.

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

Far East

U.S. Throwing Taiwan Under Bus

Idea of allowing Beijing to ‘incorporate’ island becoming ‘acceptable’

U.S.-Taiwanese military ties are beginning to show signs of strain as pressure from Beijing on Washington becomes increasingly intense and the notion that China ultimately may incorporate Taiwan appears more and more to be an acceptable outcome in Washington, although no U.S. officials openly will admit that, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Analysts saw this development as the head of the People’s Liberation Army chief of the general staff, Gen. Chen Bingde, paid a visit to sensitive U.S. military installations after a year-long freeze on those military exchanges following a $6.3 billion U.S. arms sale last year to Taiwan.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

African Land Grab Could Lead to Future Water Conflicts

IS THIS the face of future water conflicts? China, India and Saudi Arabia have lately leased vast tracts of land in sub-Saharan Africa at knockdown prices. Their primary aim is to grow food abroad using the water that African countries don’t have the infrastructure to exploit. Doing so is cheaper and easier than using water resources back home. But it is a plan that could well backfire.

“There is no doubt that this is not just about land, this is about water,” says Philip Woodhouse of the University of Manchester, UK.

Take Saudi Arabia, for instance. Between 2004 and 2009, it leased 376,000 hectares of land in Sudan to grow wheat and rice. At the same time the country cut back on wheat production on home soil, which is irrigated with water from aquifers that are no longer replenished — a finite resource.

Meanwhile, firms from China and India have leased hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland in Ethiopia. Both China and India have well-developed irrigation systems, but Woodhouse says their further development — moving water from the water-rich south to northern China, for instance — is likely to be more costly than leasing land in Africa, making the land-grab a tempting option.

But why bother leasing land instead of simply importing food? Such imports are equivalent to importing “virtual water”, since food production accounts for nearly 80 per cent of annual freshwater usage. A new study into how this virtual water moves around the world offers an explanation for the leasing strategy. Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe of Princeton University and Samir Suweis of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have built the first mathematical model of the global virtual water trade network, using the UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s data on trade in barley, corn, rice, soya beans, wheat, beef, pork, and poultry in 2000. They combined this with a fine-grained hydrological model (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2011GL046837).

The model shows that a small number of countries have a large number of connections to other countries, offering them a steady and cheap supply of virtual water even if some connections are compromised by drought or political upheaval. A much larger number of countries have very few connections and so are vulnerable to market forces.

Most importantly, the model shows that about 80 per cent of the water flows over only about 4 per cent of the links, which Rodriguez-Iturbe calls the “rich club phenomenon”. In total, the model shows that in 2000, there were 6033 links between 166 nations. Yet 5 per cent of worldwide water flow was channelled through just one link between two “rich club” members — the US and Japan.

The power of the rich club may yet increase. The model allows the team to forecast future scenarios — for example, how the network will change as droughts and spells of violent precipitation intensify due to climate change. Predictably, this will only intensify the monopoly, says Suweis. “The rich get richer.”

China and India are not currently major players in the virtual water network on a per capita basis, and as the network evolves they could find themselves increasingly vulnerable to market forces and end up paying more for the food they import.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Seychelles to Take Pirates

New deal with island nation will help with the prosecution of pirates

Denmark has reached an agreement with the Republic of Seychelles that the island nation will accept, jail and prosecute pirates captured by the warship Esbern Snare. Convicted pirates will thereafter be incarcerated in Somalia’s autonomous regions of either Somaliland or Puntland.

The agreement, which was announced by the foreign minister and defense minister on Wednesday, is the latest development in Denmark’s strategy to help fight piracy in the Somali basin and off the east coast of Africa.

The Esbern Snare, Denmark’s largest warship, has been actively patrolling the Horn of Africa for pirates as part of the Nato-coordinated anti-piracy action Operation Ocean Shield. The Esbern Snare is one of some 28 ships from several Nato countries involved in the effort.

Until this week, the Esbern Snare had no recourse but to set the pirates it was catching free on land, due to a lack of an international procedure for their prosecution.

“First and foremost we can make it more risky to be a pirate and that’s something we are doing by, for example, creating an effective means for prosecution,” foreign minister Lene Espersen said of the new agreement.

“The arrangement with the Seychelles ensures that going forward we will be able to prosecute pirates in the region they come from instead of dragging pirates by the dozen back to Denmark to prosecute them here,” Espersen added.

The new strategy to fight pirates also entails some changes in the Danish military’s efforts.

From now on, the Esbern Snare will patrol for pirates for at least six months of each year. Currently, the ship has been averaging ten months per year on pirate patrol.

“Six months is a very generous contribution to the international effort to fight piracy,” Espersen said. “Especially in view of the fact that Denmark should not carry the burden alone, but should naturally share it with a group of other Nato countries.”

In addition, the government is considering whether to deploy surveillance airplanes to search the seas and whether to give Nato a Danish mandate to precision-bomb land-based pirate camps in Africa. But those decisions are pending.

“For the time being, it remains a navy operation,” said the foreign minister.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Congressional Hearing After Fox Undercover Report on Illegal Immigrants

A loophole exposed by FOX Undercover is in the national spotlight today as lawmakers in Washington, DC hold a congressional hearing.

It comes after our investigative team discovered the federal government releasing illegal immigrants with violent criminal records, even though it wants to deport them.

Fox Undercover’s local example of the national problem was front and center at the hearing before the Immigration Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Immigrant Children Shortchanged by Swedish Schools

Immigrant children who arrive in Sweden during the school year don’t get the education they deserve due to schools’ inability to address their individual needs, according to Sweden education watchdog.

The number of Swedish students who don’t qualify for high school (gymnasium) when finishing their primary education (grundskola) has increased in the last five years.

And falling furthest behind are kids who have immigrated to Sweden during their primary education.

Among these, only 51 percent qualified for high school last year compared to 58 percent five years ago, according to the National Agency for Education (Skolverket).

The Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) is critical of the figures, charging that these students often don’t get the education they deserve.

Moreover, not qualifying to receive a high school in Sweden will have a detrimental effects on the students’ chances to compete in society and in the labour market, according to the inspectorate.

The inspectorate is especially of how schools treat students who have recently arrived in the country.

Often newly arrived immigrant children are all lumped together in a communal preparatory class, regardless of their different levels of education.

They can remain in such courses for several years, meaning they often they don’t get a chance to study all the subjects on the standard Swedish schools curriculum, according to the inspectorate.

Sweden’s deputy minister for education and minister for integration and gender equality, Nyamko Sabuni, thinks that schools must get better at mapping the education levels of recently arrived students and avoid placing them in preparatory classes.

“I strongly criticise preparatory classes where students are isolated with other new arrivals and separated from Swedish-speaking students. That slows down integration,” Sabuni told news agency TT.

But she doesn’t think that the problem lies in lack of financial resources.

“Most importantly, schools must be organised better. It is very much about following the guidelines that are there to ensure that these students have a better chance,” said Sabuni.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Population Up 0.5% ‘Thanks to Foreigners’

60.63 mln residents, up 286,000

(ANSA) — Rome, May 24 — The Italian population rose 0.5% last year “exclusively” thanks to immigrants and babies born to them, Istat said Tuesday.

As of December 31, 2010, Italy’s resident population was 60,626,442, an increase of 286,114 on the same date in 2009, the statistics agency said.

The boost from immigration was 380,000.

Among the native population, births were almost 7,000 down. More than two thirds of the population rise took place in northern Italy.

The number of households was just over 25 million, with an average 2.4 members in each.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

More Than 1,400 Perish Trying to Reach Italian Shores

Lampedusa, 25 May (AKI) — More than 1,400 migrants have died this year while trying to reach Italian shores from North Africa, according Fortress Europe, an Italian blog that tracks the deaths through media reports. The figures were widely reported by the Italian press.

Through 23 May 1,403 people reportedly perished in the Strait of Sicily aboard boats sailing toward the island of Lampedusa — which is closer to Africa than the Italian mainland — while 1,510 have lost their lives in transit to Europe in the entire Mediterranean, the site said.

Over 30,000 people have come ashore aboard ships that had set sail mostly from Tunisia and Libya, where patrols were interrupted amid popular uprisings and civil war in the Middle East.

The trip can turn fatal when rickety vessels break up or drift for days upon weeks while transporting hundreds of would-be illegal immigrants.

Italian police last week rescued about 500 migrants from Libya after a small fire broke out on their boat close to the Italian coast.

More migrant lives have been lost during the first five months of this year than in all of 2008, the year before Italian law permitted forced repatriation, according to Fortress Europe.

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

Sweden: Unemployment Up Among Immigrant Youth: Report

Youth unemployment among immigrants has risen sharply despite a record number of vacancies in the Swedish labour market.

Unemployment among foreign-born young people has increased by more than three percent over the past year at the same time as it has declined by ten percent among Sweden-born.

“They are a vulnerable group with a fragile educational background which we have seen find it hard to take advantage of the upswing,” said Tord Strannefors, forecasting director at the National Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen).

More than every fifth young person with an immigrant background lacks high school qualifications and twice as many get stuck in long-term unemployment in comparison with Sweden-born counterparts.

“This is serious. There is a risk that will be excluded from the labor market,” Strannefors said.

Many also feel discriminated against because of their background.

“Sweden has great ambitions for integration. But there is nothing in practice,” said one young job-seeker.

“Employers must get accustomed to having people with different backgrounds in the workplace. Many have never had it, they hire through their own networks and then it is only Swedes.”

The image of the fragmented labor market is both alarming and of concern, according to Sweden’s integration minister Erik Ullenhag.

“If you as a young and foreign-born do not secure a foothold in the labor market the risk is that you feel a very weak connection to society. You feel that that there is no future,” Ullenhag said.

The reasons behind the increase in unemployment within the group is explained by the international crisis and economic downturn, Ullenhag said.

“We know that in a situation where the economy is declining, it is mainly young and foreign-born who are not able to establish themselves or remain in the workforce.”

Ullenhag identified education and schools as having a key role.

“To break the cycle more investments are required. Secondary schools have a key role, as well as an apprentice system that will soon be launched in full,” he said.

Ullenhag also said that a review of the system of income support (socialbidrag) could be required.

“This is a group that is likely to be dependent on income support and there we need to consider whether we can have a clearer line on jobs.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Immigration ‘Out of Control’ As Numbers Coming to the UK Booms to Pre-Recession Levels

Immigration has rocketed once again to levels not seen since before the beginning of the recession.

Nearly 600,000 people arrived in the UK as Government Minister, Damian Green admitted migration was ‘out of control’.

Despite the coalition pledging a cap on the number of migrants coming to the UK from outside the EU, there is very little that politicians can do to stop EU migrants.

Every year a quarter of a million more people arrive in Britain than leave, leading the charity Migration Watch UK to say that firm measures are now ‘absolutely essential.

Chairman Sir Andrew Green who said: ‘The impact on British-born workers is a particular concern that has been brushed under the carpet for too long.’

The figures were released by the Office for National Statistics and show that net migration is at its highest level for five years as the number of people leaving the UK falls.

The number of migrants coming in to the UK has remained constant, taking net migration to 242,000, up from 198,000 at the end of 2009 and 163,000 the year before.

Immigration Minister Mr Green said: ‘These statistics show that immigration was out of control thanks to the old system — that is why we have already introduced radical changes to drive the numbers down and we will shortly be consulting on a range of new measures.’

In the year to September, 344,000 people left the UK — a drop of 20 per cent in 2008 — outweighed by the 586,000 people who arrived in the country.

the Government had previously said it will cut net migration to the tens of thousands by 2015, but the Institute for Public Policy Research has suggested the target is not achievable.

Matt Cavanagh, associate director at IPPR said the government should admit the target ‘makes little sens, an can’t be achieved without damaging Britain’s economy.

‘When they set the target in opposition, the Conservatives clearly hadn’t planned for emigration continuing to fall.

‘Today’s figures show that emigration of British nationals is down by more than 25 per cent since 2008. This means the Government will have to take even more drastic measures to try to meet their chosen target.’

He added that not only does the Government have no control over immigration from the EU, but it would also find it difficult to reduce the numbers using the family route into the UK.

‘So they will have to tighten up even further on students or skilled workers coming from outside the EU — the most valuable kinds of immigration for our economy,’ he said.

The number of migrants arriving in the UK from eight Eastern and Central European countries the joined the EU in 2004 has reversed from 12,000 leaving in 2009 to 43,000 arriving — the same level seen in the year ending September 2008.

Two years ago, net migration amounted to 12,000 people leaving the country but then in 2010, 43,000 extra people arrived.

Mr Green continued: ‘We accept that employers need to attract the brightest talent frmo across the world to fill jobs gaps but this should never be at the expense of UK workers.

‘Employers are prohibited from employing low-skilled workers from outside the EU and this Government will apply transitional controls for all the new EU member states in the future.’

The number of students coming to the UK grew by a third up from 185,000 to 241,000.

Martin Ruhs, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: ‘There are some very basic problems with focusing policy debates so closely on long-term net migration data.

‘It is perfectly possible that a decline in long-term migration could be accompanied by an increase in short-term migration, which may lead to flat, or even faster, growth in the migrant population.

‘Net migration plays an important part in understanding the broader picture of how migration changes the UK, but it is only one element and we need to consider a more complete picture to allow the best policies to be developed.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Mugabe Torturer Who Pulled Out Man’s Teeth With Pliers is Granted Asylum in UK

(and we’ll also have to pick up the tab for him and his wife’s HIV treatment)

A murdering asylum seeker who worked as a torturer for the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe will not be deported — because of concerns for his safety if he returns home.

Phillip Machemedze smashed a man’s jaw with pliers before extracting his teeth, one of his many victims while working for Zimbabwe’s notorious Central Intelligence organisation.

The 47-year-old also gave electric shocks to a white farmer, whipped a woman before pouring salt in her wounds and took part in the ‘slow’ killing of one of Mugabe’s political opponents, The Sun reported today.

However, Machemedze ‘grew tired’ of his work as a torturer and apparently fearing Mugabe would turn against him, he fled to Britain 11 years ago.

Despite only having a temporary visa, Machemedze has remained in the country ever since, receiving taxpayer-funded treatment for HIV.

Thanks to the Human Rights Act, Machemedze and his wife Febbie, 40, who also has the disease, will continue to live and be treated in Britain at the taxpayers’ expense.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Net Immigration Hits Six Year High in Blow to Coalition

Immigration flows have hit their highest level for six years in a major blow to the Coalition pledge to cut numbers.

Last year some 242,000 more people moved to the UK than left, after numbers leapt by around 45 per cent in just a year.

David Cameron has pledged to cut net immigration to the “tens of thousands” but the latest official figures show an upward trend in continuing instead.

And the rise has been partly driven by a sharp increase in the number of Eastern Europeans returning to the UK to look for work — a trend the Government’s recently imposed immigration cap cannot alter.

It has also been driven up by a 20 per cent fall in people emigrating, amid reports that many are put off by a rising cost of living abroad.

Separate figures, from the Office for National Statistics, showed one in five low-skilled jobs are now filled by migrants, fuelling concerns over jobs for British workers.

The quarterly review of immigration statistics also revealed the number of people granted settlement has increased by four per cent and asylum claims are up 11 per cent.

Some 344,000 people left the UK in the year to September, down 20 per cent in the 12 months to December 2008, according to the ONS.

But the number of migrants coming in to the UK remained constant at 586,000, taking net migration to 242,000, up from around 166,000 in mid-2009.

It is the fifth consecutive rise in net immigration, based on quarterly figures, over the last two years.

Damian Green, the immigration minister, said: “These statistics show that immigration was out of control thanks to the old system — that is why we have already introduced radical changes to drive the numbers down and we will shortly be consulting on a range of new measures.”

The Government introduced a cap on the number of migrants coming to the UK from outside the EU last month, as well as a crackdown on bogus students and those seeking to settle in the UK.

The ONS figures showed net migration — the number coming to the UK less the number leaving — of non-EU citizens rose by a third in the 12 months to September last year, up to 215,000 from 161,000 the previous year.

The number of non-EU migrants coming to the UK rose from 274,000 to 312,000 while the number leaving only dropped from 113,000 to 97,000.

But the number of migrants coming to the UK from the eight accession countries which joined the European Union in 2004 also rose significantly, up 72,000 in the 12 months to September last year from 45,000.

With a fall in those leaving from 57,000 to 29,000 over the same period, the flow of migrants switched from 12,000 leaving the UK to 43,000 arriving and is now at the same level seen in the year ending September 2008.

The number of migrants coming to the UK to study also continued to rise, up 30 per cent from 185,000 to 241,000.

           — Hat tip: Swenglish Rantings[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

The Truth About Genderless Babies

Beyond the online condemnation for two Toronto parents who reportedly refuse to make public the gender of their youngest child, there’s a deeper question on how gender forms, scientists say.

Though there are no solid answers, experts on gender say whether a child identifies as a male or female comes from a mix of biology, environment and something deep inside themselves. And at the end of the day, the “genderless” baby, a 4-month old named Storm, will more than likely figure out which gender he or she identifies with.

Raising a child without a public gender is indeed unusual (In 2009, a Swedish newspaper reported a couple doing the same thing with their 2-year-old, nicknamed Pop), and experts say the jury is out on how or if the doing so will influence Storm’s development. But the response to the case has revealed how deeply gender issues resonate, said Diane Ehrensaft, a California psychologist and author of “Gender Born, Gender Made: Raising Healthy Gender-Nonconforming Children” (The Experiment, 2011)…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]