Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110604

Financial Crisis
»Bank of America Gets Pad Locked After Homeowner Forecloses on it
»Barcelona Protesters Vow to Remain
»China Has Divested 97 Percent of Its Holdings in U.S. Treasury Bills
»Coca-Cola Denies Planning to Leave Greece
»EU Calls on US to Quicken Wall Street Reform
»Give Brussels Power to Veto Britain’s Tax Policies, Urges Euro Bank Chief
»Greece Wins 11th-Hour Pledge of Fresh Aid
»Obama’s Toughest Re-Election Challenge May Come From Economy
»18 U.S. Veterans Commit Suicide Daily; Largely Due to Psychiatric Drugs
»American Al Qaeda Adam Gadahn’s Chilling Video Shows How the Gun Lobby Hampers the War on Terror
»Burglary Victim Remotely Controls His Stolen Laptop to Photograph Thief — and Then Hands Image to Police
»Democrats in Drag
»Forget Weinergate: Obama is Impeachable Over Libya
»John Edwards, Disgraced But Determined, Readies for New Trial
»Obama Commerce Nominee Entangled With Chinese Business
»Radical Muslims, Environmentalists, And the Green Jihad
»TV Historian Niall Ferguson is Having a Child With His Somali-Born Feminist Partner
»Accused Paris Bomber Faces Canada Extradition
Europe and the EU
»Britain and France Will Share Aircraft Carrier to Combat Defence Cuts, Says Admiral
»E. Coli Superbug Outbreak in Germany Due to Abuse of Antibiotics in Meat Production
»E. Coli Outbeak in Europe is the Deadliest in History
»Germany: Search for E. Coli Clues Leads to Lübeck Eatery
»Germany: Hundreds of Facebook Users Crash Teen’s Birthday Party
»Greek Parents Spend 1 Bln on Private Tutoring
»Italy: Paolo Berlusconi Indicted in Unipol Case
»Italy: Fazio Receives 4 Years and a 1. 5 Mln Fine in Antonveneta Case
»Netherlands: Men Earn More: Women Choose How to Spend
»Poland: A Chinese Road Going Nowhere
»Scotland: Aberdeen Jewish Family Living in Terror After a Bloodied Pig’s Head is Left on Their Doorstep
»Sicily: Cultural Heritage: Morgantina Goddess is Home Again
»UK: ‘Riding Bikes is for Children and the Strange’: Why Britons Are Still Reluctant to Saddle Up
»UK: Northamptonshire Sex Attack: CCTV Pictures Released
»Croatia: Papal Visit Sparks Protests and Political Spat
»Serbian Prosecutors Want to Question Mladic
Mediterranean Union
»EIB: 142 Mln to Sorek Seawater Desalinisation Plant
North Africa
»Attack Choppers ‘Logical Extension’ In Libya
»Egypt: Protesters Demand Sharia Law Implementation, Tourism That Respects Islam
»Former Egyptian Interior Minister Accused of Collusion in Alexandria Church Bombing
»Libya: NATO: Military Mission Extended, 90 More Days
»Libya: NATO Strikes Hit Tripoli and Kill Police West of Capital
»Tunisia: Prickly Pears as Economic Opportunity
»Tunisia: Sister of Former President Ben Ali Arrested
»Tunisia: Poverty Rate at 24.7% According to Minister
Israel and the Palestinians
»Palestinians Storm Gate at Rafah Crossing
Middle East
»Emirates is World’s ‘Largest’ Airline
»Obama is Too Optimistic About Middle East Democracy
»Official: Powers Transferred to VP After Attack on Yemeni President Saleh
»Speculation Grows on Yemeni President’s Condition
»Syrian Protesters Turn on Iran and Hezbollah
»UNHCR Slams Qatar’s Move to Return ‘Raped’ Libyan Woman
»US to Offer Turkey Peace Process Role to Stop Flotilla
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Carabinieri Officer Killed, Common Crime Victim
»Top Jihadist Leader Killed, Followers Say
Far East
»EPA Gave $1.29 Million to China
»Italian NGO’s Complaints Before ICC Unlikely to Start Trial Against Malta
»Malta: Twenty-Seven Illegal Immigrants Land at Xlendi
»Maltese Government Defends Policy to Detain Asylum Seekers
»We’re Coming Because You’re Kind Say Migrants
Culture Wars
»Go Ahead for Surrogacy for Gays in Ghent
»Schlafly: Outrageous Transgender School Curricula
»Closest Habitable Planet 20 Light Years Away
»Sociologist: Every 5 Minutes a Christian is Martyred

Financial Crisis

Bank of America Gets Pad Locked After Homeowner Forecloses on it

Collier County, Florida — Have you heard the one about a homeowner foreclosing on a bank?

Well, it has happened in Florida and involves a North Carolina based bank.

Instead of Bank of America foreclosing on some Florida homeowner, the homeowners had sheriff’s deputies foreclose on the bank.

It started five months ago when Bank of America filed foreclosure papers on the home of a couple, who didn’t owe a dime on their home.

The couple said they paid cash for the house.

The case went to court and the homeowners were able to prove they didn’t owe Bank of America anything on the house. In fact, it was proven that the couple never even had a mortgage bill to pay.

A Collier County Judge agreed and after the hearing, Bank of America was ordered, by the court to pay the legal fees of the homeowners’, Maurenn Nyergers and her husband.

The Judge said the bank wrongfully tried to foreclose on the Nyergers’ house.

So, how did it end with bank being foreclosed on? After more than 5 months of the judge’s ruling, the bank still hadn’t paid the legal fees, and the homeowner’s attorney did exactly what the bank tried to do to the homeowners. He seized the bank’s assets.

“They’ve ignored our calls, ignored our letters, legally this is the next step to get my clients compensated, “ attorney Todd Allen told CBS.

Sheriff’s deputies, movers, and the Nyergers’ attorney went to the bank and foreclosed on it. The attorney gave instructions to to remove desks, computers, copiers, filing cabinets and any cash in the teller’s drawers.

After about an hour of being locked out of the bank, the bank manager handed the attorney a check for the legal fees.

“As a foreclosure defense attorney this is sweet justice” says Allen.

Allen says this is something that he sees often in court, banks making errors because they didn’t investigate the foreclosure and it becomes a lengthy and expensive battle for the homeowner.

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Barcelona Protesters Vow to Remain

Protesters decrying Spain’s economic crisis vowed to remain encamped in a central Barceona square, where dozens were injured last week when police moved in to disperse them. More than 1,000 protesters took the decision in a vote late on Wednesday in the Plaza Catalunya. “The assembly decided not to leave the Plaza Catalunya until there is a consensus on how to do it,” the protesters said in a Twitter message. They also pledged to find other ways to ensure that the spirit of the nationwide movement continues. Spain’s protests over the economic crisis began May 15 and fanned out to city squares nationwide as word spread by Twitter and Facebook among demonstrators known variously as “the indignant”, “M-15” and “Spanish Revolution”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

China Has Divested 97 Percent of Its Holdings in U.S. Treasury Bills

China has dropped 97 percent of its holdings in U.S. Treasury bills, decreasing its ownership of the short-term U.S. government securities from a peak of $210.4 billion in May 2009 to $5.69 billion in March 2011, the most recent month reported by the U.S. Treasury.

Treasury bills are securities that mature in one year or less that are sold by the U.S. Treasury Department to fund the nation’s debt.

Mainland Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury bills are reported in column 9 of the Treasury report linked here.

Until October, the Chinese were generally making up for their decreasing holdings in Treasury bills by increasing their holdings of longer-term U.S. Treasury securities. Thus, until October, China’s overall holdings of U.S. debt continued to increase.

Since October, however, China has also started to divest from longer-term U.S. Treasury securities. Thus, as reported by the Treasury Department, China’s ownership of the U.S. national debt has decreased in each of the last five months on record, including November, December, January, February and March.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Coca-Cola Denies Planning to Leave Greece

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 3 — Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. on Friday denied reports that it plans to leave Greece and relocate to other countries, in an announcement to the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), following a relevant question from the Hellenic Capital Market Commission.

“Recent media speculation regarding its potential relocation is unfounded,” the company’s CEO Doros Constantinou said, noting that Greece is an “important market for the Group”, as ANA reported.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU Calls on US to Quicken Wall Street Reform

Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier laid bare transatlantic tensions over banking rules Friday, urging quicker reform and warning Europe’s patience was “running out” on at least one niggling issue.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Give Brussels Power to Veto Britain’s Tax Policies, Urges Euro Bank Chief

The boss of the European Central Bank sparked anger yesterday after demanding the right to veto the economic policies of EU governments.

Jean Claude Trichet put himself on a collision course with George Osborne after he called for the creation of a European finance ministry with sweeping powers to meddle in tax and spending policy.

The Frenchman said he wanted to see central control from Brussels ‘well over and above the reinforced surveillance that is presently envisaged’.

Britain has already rebuffed attempts by the European Commission to see details of the Chancellor’s budgets before they are delivered.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Greece Wins 11th-Hour Pledge of Fresh Aid

Drowning in debt, Greece won Friday the pledge of a new bailout on top of a July cashflow fix, but only after surrendering some of its financial autonomy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Toughest Re-Election Challenge May Come From Economy

President Barack Obama is facing a rising threat from potentially his toughest re-election opponent: the American economy. The Labor Department reported yesterday that job growth slowed to 54,000 in May, down from 232,000 in April and the smallest gain in eight months. The unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent, the highest level this year. “If job creation doesn’t continue on the pace it’s been on in recent months, that’s going to be an enormous hurdle for the president,” said Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist who worked for the party’s 2000 and 2004 presidential nominees.

Ronald Reagan, who faced an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent on Election Day in 1984, was the only U.S. president to win re-election with a jobless rate above 6 percent since World War II.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


18 U.S. Veterans Commit Suicide Daily; Largely Due to Psychiatric Drugs

“If mentally incapacitated troops are being drugged with dangerous, mind-altering drugs and deployed to battle against their will, how can we say that we have a volunteer army?” asked Alliance for Human Research Protection, the national network dedicated to advancing responsible and ethical medical research practices.

This is just one of the many criticisms being levied against the U.S. military in light of its liberal use of prescription medication, which is now being linked to rising suicide rates among soldiers.

A study released by the Army in June 2009 indicated that nearly as many American troops at home and abroad committed suicide in the first six months of 2006 as the number who had been killed in combat in Afghanistan during the same time period

An average of 18 American veterans commit suicide every day (link). Now, the increasingly high number of deaths among both veterans and active duty soldiers — including suicides, accidental overdose, and lethal drug interactions — have now been linked to the exponential increase in the prescribing of drugs for post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other psychological illnesses. (link)

Prior to the Iraq war, American soldiers in combat zones did not take psychiatric medications, according to PBS Frontline documentary The Wounded Platoon, which aired in May 2010. (link) But by the time of the 2007 surge more than 20,000 of our deployed troops were taking antidepressants and sleeping pills.

These drugs allowed soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder to remain in combat when they otherwise could not.

Well over 300,000 troops have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with P.T.S.D., depression, traumatic brain injury or some combination of those, according to The New York Times (link). Following the lead of civilian medicine, the military has relied heavily on medications to treat those problems, resulting in more widespread use of drugs in the military than in any previous war.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

American Al Qaeda Adam Gadahn’s Chilling Video Shows How the Gun Lobby Hampers the War on Terror

A chilling Internet video confirms what has long been suspected: Al Qaeda terrorists are eager to launch a gun-fueled rampage against Americans — and they know just how to do it.

Spotted on jihadist forums, the video shows American-born Al Qaeda fighter Adam Gadahn almost cheerily urging followers to action:

“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”

We don’t say this often about Al Qaeda types, but: He’s right on the facts.

Gadahn owes thanks to the National Rifle Association, whose political muscle has kept open two indefensible gun-rights loopholes that all but invite terrorists to buy weapons.

Unlike those who purchase guns from a dealer, people who buy firearms from private sellers at gun shows don’t have to pass a background check.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms says 30% of illegally trafficked weapons are linked to gun shows. In fact, an undercover investigation of private sellers at gun shows found that nearly two-thirds broke the law by selling to people who they thought could not pass a background check.

Then there’s the so-called terror gap, which prevents gun sellers from checking purchasers against terrorism watch lists. More than 1,450 people on terror watch lists tried to buy guns and explosives from February 2004 to December 2010; on 1,321 occasions, 91% of all tries, the FBI was powerless to stop the sale.

Common sense and national security argue powerfully for reform. The NRA and its allies argue reflexively against it.

In November 2008, radical Islamist terrorists killed 164 people and brought Mumbai to its knees with a coordinated rampage on targets including hotels, a cafe, a Jewish community center, a hospital and a movie theater.

To Al Qaeda, it was a moment of triumph. This is what Gadahn has in mind for the U.S. The NYPD is well aware of the threat.

Unless Congress develops the backbone to override the NRA on critical public safety measures, Mumbai could well be a preview of an American and New York horror.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Burglary Victim Remotely Controls His Stolen Laptop to Photograph Thief — and Then Hands Image to Police

A DESIGNER who had his laptop stolen helped police by using a spy camera program to take pictures and catch the thief red-handed.

Joshua Kaufman thought he had lost his Apple MacBook when a thief broke into his apartment and stole the computer in March.

And with police giving his burglary report a low priority, he was resigned to never recovering the expensive laptop until he remembered the software he had installed on his MacBook.

Using ‘Hidden’ software, he remotely took pictures of the thief using his stolen computer — before handing the evidence to police to make an arrest.

Mr Kaufman captured the thief in a variety of bizarre locations — including using the stolen MacBook in bed, and in his car.

‘Hidden’ also provided him with location information, which police in Oakland, California, used to identify the thief as a taxi driver.

Officers then caught the thief by arranging for a ‘pick up’ from his car firm and arresting the man when he appeared in person.

           — Hat tip: Blogger[Return to headlines]

Democrats in Drag

When I began this project a decade ago, I recognized the title I chose, “Democrats in Drag,” would be provocative and controversial, offensive and humorous, hated and praised, cursed and hallelujahed. I also knew it was marketable. Yet the bottom line is the title was chosen because it reflected an issue I felt passionately about, namely: The Republican Party speaks conservative, but legislates liberal, gets all dressed up for church, but drives down to the brothel.

If there ever was any truth to the claim that the Republican Party was conservative, constitutionally based, and morally sound, its 1990s flying leap into the arms of Progressive Government and the Third Way, and its follow on act in the 21st Century with Compassionate Conservatism, insured that honest men would soon come to believe otherwise. Yesterday’s defenders of the Republic are today’s champions of the New World Order and the corporations that figure to cash in most on the megalomaniacal prize.

In claiming this, I am not indicting the whole crew of Republicans, or Democrats for that matter, as co-conspirators against our country, nor making a case for such—though conspiracies always have and always will exist whenever power and men cross paths. Jefferson and Madison’s instructive that “men are not angels” should be warning enough that almost all men, whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent, given their day in power, thirst for more, and sad to say more than a few betray their country along the way. But that is not my aim, I write about principles, and in this case an expose on the principles of Compassionate Conservatism (or Centre Right/Conservative Futurist/Third Way) as the perfect answer for the grasping politician as well as the political revolutionary, for the Democrat as well as the Republican— for it is the ‘safe’ middle ground, both conservative and progressive, communist and capitalist, moral and amoral, tolerant and intolerant, friend of local government and friend of the United Nations. It is everything and anything. It is never what it seems to be and always what it seems to be. It is the master of double-talk and the partner of deceit. And, as such, come election time, it is wisdom’s path, so say the campaign agencies, for both the stouthearted statesmen and the pussilaneous panderer to get elected.

Would to God that such a safe middle ground was Wisdom’s path; but I suspect, and I feel you will as well, that the path is more like Marx and Lenin’s, Mao’s and Keynes, then Wisdom’s.


On November 11, 1994, in a post-election victory speech, Republican House member Newt Gingrich revealed to Congress what his Contract With America, his Republican Revolution was all about. (1) He called it “The Third Way,” a progressive movement he would interchangeably refer to as the Third Way, the Third Wave, or Conservative Futurism in speech after speech from that day forward. To understand what Congressmen Gingrich meant by that he recommended the reading of two books, the first, “The Third Wave” by ex-Marxist Alvin Toffler, and the second, “The Tragedy of American Compassion” by ex-Marxist Marvin Olasky, founding father of George W. Bush’s, “Compassionate Conservatism,” and the editor in chief of World Magazine.

What is the Third Way/Wave? What is its child Compassionate Conservatism? The early history of the catchphrase sends us our first disturbing hints.

[Comments: links to this investigative 8 part article series at bottom of the article.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Forget Weinergate: Obama is Impeachable Over Libya

If you want an indication of why Republicans may lose to Obama in 2012, look at the pass they are giving him over his illegal war in Libya. Nothing is more important than committing a nation to war. The military intervention could be the basis of impeachment charges. But Republican leaders in the House —and Republican Senator John McCain in the Senate—don’t want to hold Obama accountable.

We have pointed out that the war is illegal and that the media—and now the House Republican leaders—have failed to acknowledge the facts.

On the other hand, there is growing media fascination with “Weinergate,” in which the Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner has obviously stonewalled about the origin and distribution of a lewd photo sent to a coed.

In contrast to the Weiner affair, the facts about Obama’s violations of the law and the Constitution are clear.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

John Edwards, Disgraced But Determined, Readies for New Trial

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) — John Edwards doesn’t dispute he was a cad, but he’s defiant that he’s not a criminal.

And it appears this may be one point in which the disgraced former North Carolina senator and 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee may get some sympathy in his home state and beyond.

John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, a conservative North Carolina think tank, said Edwards may be right.

“To act like a heel is not to be a criminal,” Hood said. “We have to distinguish between Edwards’ disgusting behavior and allegations of criminality.”

Edwards was indicted Friday on six federal charges related to cash gifts. The money was used to cover up an extramarital affair he had while seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. A trial has been set for July 11, though it is expected to be pushed back, perhaps by several months.

“I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I’ve caused to others,” Edwards said at a court appearance in Winston-Salem Friday. “But I did not break the law. And I never, ever thought that I was breaking the law.”

The gifts that allegedly violated campaign finance laws were not given to the Edwards campaign, but to his girlfriend, Rielle Hunter, and a former aide, Andrew Young. Prosecutors say the gifts were an attempt to circumvent election laws. Edwards lawyers say the gifts were an attempt to keep the affair hidden from Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth.

Indications are that his defense is finding support in the court of public opinion. Some question whether the government is over-reaching in bringing criminal charges in a sordid, but nonetheless personal matter.

In North Carolina, some people cautioned against a rush to judgment and others were concerned that Edwards defense may turn a broad abuse of political funding into a narrow debate about campaign finance laws.

Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a group focusing on ethics, money and politics, said, “There can be cases where giving to something other than the campaign should be regulated. Whether this is one of those cases is in dispute. It’s not a slam dunk.”

[Return to headlines]

Obama Commerce Nominee Entangled With Chinese Business

John Bryson, President Barack Obama’s nominee for commerce secretary, may be best known as co-founder of the radical activist group Natural Resources Defense Council and as CEO of Edison International, parent company of giant electric utility Southern California Edison. But one of his biggest obstacles to Senate confirmation may be his relationship with troubled Chinese-backed electric car company Coda Automotive.

Bryson has been a vocal advocate for Coda since 2008. He sits on the firm’s board of directors and is reportedly an investor, and he is an evangelist for the company. Bryson has said: “This is the only board I actually enjoy since I’ve left Edison.” In March of last year at the University of Berkeley Energy Symposium, he singled out Coda by name as an inspiring model for a new technology company.

Many automobile analysts have asked if Coda’s car will be an American or Chinese car. While Coda executives say it will be an American vehicle, the company has forged deep relations with Chinese federal authorities, Chinese state banks, and state-owned manufacturing companies.

This association is at odds with the mission of the American secretary of commerce. His role is to build American companies that can compete with foreign competition, not to send jobs overseas.

Bryson is not shy about Coda being heavily underwritten by the Chinese government, to the tune of $500 million. This is more than twice the U.S. private investment, reportedly $201 million. He told the audience at Berkeley:

[Coda is] working with the advanced battery development arm of the Chinese federal government [and] they’ve contributed in a big way.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Radical Muslims, Environmentalists, And the Green Jihad

Rep. Keith Ellison, the Muslim Congressman from Minnesota who shed tears in protest over the congressional hearings on the growing radicalization of Muslims in the U.S., wrote the foreword to a book entitled Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet. In Arabic, “deen” means religious creed. The author of Green Deen is Ibrahim Abdul Matin. He wrote his book to demonstrate that there is a close relationship between Islam and modern environmentalism.

It turns out Ellison would have been a good witness to how Muslims are being radicalized as foot solders not only for global Jihad but for a “green” future. It is an unholy alliance that threatens our future but which escapes the attention of media predisposed to believe that radical Muslims working with environmentalists could only produce positive results.

What is fascinating is that Matin works in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s environmental planning department as a policy advisor for New York City’s long term sustainability, and was one of the Muslims promoting the idea that the new mosque being considered near Ground Zero should be a green one. In fact, Matin devotes one whole chapter of his book to “Green Mosques” and provides a list of environmentally friendly practices that can and should be implemented at each local mosque. Being the progressive Muslim that he paints himself to be, Keith Ellison was very impressed with Matin’s abilities and proudly decided to endorse his book.


While there is certainly no small controversy over exactly what a caliphate may be, especially with regard to how Sunnis and Shias view it, or how closely it may be tied to the ushering in of Sharia law, Islamic totalitarianism, terrorism and violence, it is a word that shows up often in Matin’s Green Deen. Matin innocuously translates the word “caliphah” to simply mean “steward,” a very environmentally-correct term. While this may satisfy the environmental consciousness of modern Western elites, this definition is, of course, very far removed from how most of Muslim history has understood this word.

However, no matter how green a Muslim may or may not be, by definition, the caliphate must still be an Islamic theocratic state under the dominion of Allah. Even though Matin maintains that he wrote his book to help rebrand Muslims from being considered terrorists to environmentalists, he still prefaces his entire book with the idea that “the earth is a mosque.” This means at once that the environmental holism being espoused by Matin must necessarily be subject to Allah’s totalitarian authority over the earth. In other words, environmental holism and Islamic totalitarianism go hand in hand in Matin’s Green Deen.

Secret Conquest

If the entire earth is a mosque, as Matin maintains, then Allah’s boundaries are boundless, and this means that simultaneously Americans must live under the theocratic dictates of Allah, and environmentalism can easily be used alongside Sharia law to help bring America to its knees under Islamic jihadist control. While many on the left would naively consider such a possibility beyond the pale, something along these lines is exactly what the Muslim Brotherhood has in mind for the future of America. Indeed, in 1991, the radical Muslim Brotherhood espoused that “the process of settlement…in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and by the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” In other words, something like environmentalism can be easily used as a jihadist tool in the hands of a green Muslim to help sabotage America from within. After all, Matin says that “Muslims have a personal connection to the color green,” and that “the favorite color of the Prophet Muhammad was green.”

More troubling is that Keith Ellison’s pilgrimage to Mecca in 2008 was paid for by the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, which is just another name for the Muslim Brotherhood. Ellison also likes to attend Hamas rallies, and has even worked with communist front groups like the National Lawyers Guild. He even once went so far as to praise the terrorist record of Bernardine Dohrn —the wife of the infamous Bill Ayers. After converting from Roman Catholicism to Islam, Ellison also praised the likes of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam during his college days. This hot-wiring of the anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, together with environmentalism, only helps to serve up an explosive eco-fascist concoction not seen since the 1930’s.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

TV Historian Niall Ferguson is Having a Child With His Somali-Born Feminist Partner

His partner has often talked of her desire to have children. So TV historian Niall Ferguson must be a happy man after news that Somali-born feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali is expecting.

The 41-year-old writer has told friends in America she is five months pregnant.

Ferguson, 47, already has three children by his wife of 17 years, former newspaper editor Sue Douglas. The couple are not divorced but split up after the historian met Ms Ali in May 2009 at Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People In The World party.

Ms Ali has often talked of her wish to have children.

In her latest memoirs, Nomad, a follow-up to her bestseller, Infidel, she includes an epilogue called Letter To My Unborn Daughter.

In it she writes: ‘I have struggled whether to have you on my own or to marry your father . . . having a child is a personal choice. It’s not only a personal choice; it’s a very selfish choice. I want to have you for me, for my delight, to enrich my existence.’

She also writes how she asked her doctor to freeze her eggs but he refused, saying she was still a healthy 37-year-old at the time. Ms Ali’s friend said: ‘We’ve known for a long time that she wanted children so it’s really good news. She’s now five months and she’s very excited.’ Ms Ali lives under a fatwa after she wrote the script for a film that criticised Islam and resulted in the assassination of its director, Theo van Gogh, in 2004.

She suffered genital mutilation as a child and fled to Holland to avoid an arranged marriage.

She later became a successful lawyer and MP. Ferguson has produced 16 books and five TV series in the past 16 years.

His estranged wife lives with their children, aged 15, 14 and ten. She refused to comment last night.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Accused Paris Bomber Faces Canada Extradition

A Canadian court is set to announce Monday its decision on whether or not to allow the extradition of accused Paris synagogue bomber Hassan Diab to France to face prosecution. The Canadian-Lebanese national was arrested in a suburb of Canada’s capital at the request of French authorities in November 2008 for his alleged role in a 1980 Paris bombing that killed three Frenchmen and a young Israeli woman, and injured dozens. French prosecutors want him extradited to face charges of murder, attempted murder and willful destruction of property.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Britain and France Will Share Aircraft Carrier to Combat Defence Cuts, Says Admiral

They are neighbours and former enemies.

But Europe’s only nuclear powers — with a centuries-old history of military rivalry — are edging towards military cooperation as they look to cut costs.

In a new age of collaboration, Britain and France could end up sharing aircraft carriers, Admiral Pierre-Francois Forissier — the head of the French navy — has revealed.

The admiral also said he had been ‘stunned’ by the cuts to the British navy.

The cooperative between the two navies could see the their defence industries sharing nuclear submarines and military satellites.

Britain’s BAE System’s and France’s Dassault Aviation have already said they will work on an unmanned spy plane capable of launching weapons.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

E. Coli Superbug Outbreak in Germany Due to Abuse of Antibiotics in Meat Production

The e.coli outbreak in Germany is raising alarm worldwide as scientists are now describing this particular strain of e.coli as “extremely aggressive and toxic.” Even worse, the strain is resistant to antibiotics, making it one of the world’s first widespread superbug food infections that’s racking up a noticeable body count while sickening thousands.

Of course, virtually every report you’ll read on this in the mainstream media has the facts wrong. This isn’t about cucumbers being dangerous, because e.coli does not grow on cucumbers. E.coli is an intestinal strain of bacteria that only grows inside the guts of animals (and people). Thus, the source of all this e.coli is ANIMAL, not vegetable.

But the media won’t admit that. Because the whole agenda here is to kill your vegetables but protect the atrocious practices of the factory animal meat industries. The FDA, in particular, loves all these outbreaks because it gives them more moral authority to clamp down on gardens and farms. They’ve been trying to irradiate and fumigate fresh veggies in the USA for years.


The mainstream media is predictably pretending it has no idea where this new strain came from. They’re all scratching their heads and just focusing on the “killer cucumbers” which is of course a particularly lame bit of disinfo.

Want to know where this e.coli really came from? The abuse of antibiotics in factory animal farms.

Factory animal farm operations, you see, raise cattle, pigs and chickens in such atrociously bad and dirty conditions that they have to pump them full of antibiotics just to avoid the rapid spread of infection. This constant dosing with antibiotics creates the perfect breeding ground for superbugs in the guts of these animals.

Then, these animals defecate and drop billions of e.coli bacteria with their stools which are then collected and used as crop fertilizers. So the crops are actually grown in this stuff that’s contaminated with animal fecal matter containing antibiotics-induced superbugs.

The veggies grown in the e.coli fertilizer then get shipped to supermarkets, where people buy the produce and fail to wash it properly. Once they consume it, the e.coli goes to work in their own guts which are largely devoid of friendly flora because many people are also on antibiotics which wipe out their own intestinal flora, creating a perfect environment for food borne infection.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

E. Coli Outbeak in Europe is the Deadliest in History

The rapidly developing European E. coli outbreak that has killed 18 people and sickened thousands, including four suspected cases in the United States, has become the deadliest outbreak of E. coli in modern history.

Where exactly people are being infected with the disease is still unknown, although 17 people fell ill after eating in the northern German city of Luebeck in May, according to the local media. Researchers from Germany’s national disease control center are inspecting the restaurant in question.

Other health experts suspect the disease first spread last month at a festival in the northern German city of Hamburg that was visited by 1.5 million people. But as of yet, there is no concrete proof that either site is the cause of the outbreak.

In a briefing Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the four suspected cases in the United States are all people who likely contracted the infection while in northern Germany in May and brought it back to the United States. Three of the victims are hospitalized with hemolytic-uremic syndrome and the fourth reported bloody diarrhea consistent with the outbreak strain of E. coli.

Two American military service members stationed in Germany are also suspected cases. The CDC said both of them have a similar diarrheal illness.

Government officials stressed that the outbreak has not affected the United States directly.

The Food and Drug Administration is monitoring lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers from Spain and Germany based on information it has received from European investigators. Produce from those countries accounts for less than 0.2 percent of produce imported into the United States every year.

The FDA says it is also stepping up its food safety regulations.

[Return to headlines]

Germany: Search for E. Coli Clues Leads to Lübeck Eatery

German health authorities scrambling to find the source of a deadly E. coli outbreak are zeroing in on a restaurant in Lübeck. Reports also say a harbour festival that took place in Hamburg in May could be linked to the killer bug.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Hundreds of Facebook Users Crash Teen’s Birthday Party

Some 1,500 people showed up outside the house of a Hamburg girl celebrating her 16th birthday on Friday, after she posted an invite on social networking site Facebook but mistakenly listed the party as a public event.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greek Parents Spend 1 Bln on Private Tutoring

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 1 — Greek parents spend almost 1 billion euros a year on private tutoring for their children, either at home or at cramming schools, daily Kathimerini reports citing results of a research published on Tuesday by the Network of Experts in the Social Sciences of Education and Training (NESSE). NESSE, a European Commission-funded network of scholars working on social aspects of education and training, found that Greek families invest 952 million euros a year, or 18.6% of total household budgets, on tutoring. This represents 20.1% of what the state spends on education each year. More than 50% of Greek pupils have private tutoring and their parents spend far more on this than any other families in the EU, the report found. Spanish parents spend a combined 450 million euros on private lessons, while it costs Italians 420 million a year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Paolo Berlusconi Indicted in Unipol Case

(AGI) Milan — Paolo Berlusconi has been indicted for receiving stolen property, false pretences and conspiracy to reveal secrets. Preliminary Hearing Judge, Stefania Donadeo, has charged Berlusconi over the publication of a phone tap of a conversation between Piero Fassino and Giovanni Consorte in which the former secretary of the DS, talking about the purchase of BNL, asked: “Do we have a bank?” The trial will begin on 4 October in the fourth section of the Milan Court.

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

Italy: Fazio Receives 4 Years and a 1. 5 Mln Fine in Antonveneta Case

(AGI) Milan — Former governor of the Bank of Italy, Antonio Fazio, has received a prison sentence and fine for insider trading. At the conclusion of the Antonveneta takeover trial, Fazio was sentenced to four years in jail and a fine of 1.5 million euro. The judges of the Second Criminal Section of the Court of Milan also sentenced the former chairman of Unipol, Giovanni Consorte, to three years in prison and a fine of one million euro, the PDL Senator Luigi Grillo to two years and eight months, and the ex managing director of BPI, Giampiero Fiorani, to one year and eight months. However there was an acquittal for former head of the Supervisory Board of Bank of Italy, Francesco Frasca. Unipol had 39.6 million euro confiscated and was sentenced to pay a fine of 900,000 euro.

Fazio’s lawyer said that “we believe the sentence unjust in terms of the facts and its severity and that it is in some ways, puzzling.” ..

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

Netherlands: Men Earn More: Women Choose How to Spend

Dutch men earn more than their partners, but women decide where the money should go, according to a survey by ING Bank’s Economic Bureau. In the ING survey, around one in three said it was the man in the household who took most of the decisions on how money should be spent. Only when it came to major long-term financial choices did the men take an equal part in decision making.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Poland: A Chinese Road Going Nowhere

Rzeczpospolita, 3 June 2011

“Poorer, dearer, later,” headlines Rzeczpospolita describing problems and delays to construction of a national stadium in Warsaw and a major motorway ahead of the Euro 2012 football tournament in Poland. In both cases companies offered bargain basement prices to win the contract and now find themselves unable to meet deadlines or quality standards. With the tournament approaching, they are hoping to renegotiate price terms, the Warsaw daily notes. In what was expected to be a bridgehead for further road investments in Europe, the Chinese Covec consortium asked for 1.3bn PLN (€330m) to build a 50-km stretch of the A2 motorway between Warsaw and Lódz, or 420m PLN (€106m) below other bids. Struggling to pay the Polish subcontractors, Covec was forced to stop construction works and now may lose the contract and have to pay the Polish investor 740 m PLN (€186m) in damages. “These problems are the consequence of awarding contracts based on the lowest price”, says transportation expert Adrian Furgalski. “In most EU countries ‘the most cost-effective’ bids are preferred, which does not mean the least expensive”, Rzeczpospolita concludes.

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

Scotland: Aberdeen Jewish Family Living in Terror After a Bloodied Pig’s Head is Left on Their Doorstep

A JEWISH mum and her six kids are living in fear after a sick yob left a bloodied pig’s head on their doorstep with a knife stuck in it.

The mother said last night: “It seems to be some kind of death threat.

“I can’t think why this has happened, apart from the fact we are Jewish.”

Jewish religious teaching forbids eating pork. The woman’s children saw the pig’s head and the gruesome sight left some of them in tears.

“The eldest ones are taking it the worst,” said the mum, who is too afraid to be named. “My daughter hasn’t been eating and we’ve all been finding it hard to sleep.

“The police have offered us protection and we have a panic alarm. I’m taking the children to school.”

The family’s ordeal began after the mum saw a scruffy, “rough-looking” man walking towards their front door in Aberdeen on Friday evening.

She said: “I went to the door and saw the pig’s head on the top step. It had a big knife stuck through it. I jumped over it and ran after the man but I lost him.”

The frightened mum added: “I locked the door and called the police. I was shaking.

“I feel very vulnerable at the moment. It was just so shocking.

“I don’t know why it happened or who is behind it. If I knew the reason why, it might be better to deal with.”

Police were called to the scene in the north of the city at about 7.45pm on Friday and made door to door inquiries.

A spokesman said: “Positive action to address this incident is being taken.”

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Sicily: Cultural Heritage: Morgantina Goddess is Home Again

(ANSAmed) — AIDONE (SICILY), MAY 17 — The Morgantina goddess, the Hellenistic statue that was stolen thirty years ago, returns to its home and is receiving visitors. The statue was bought by the Paul Getty Museum in Malibù and returned a month and a half ago to Sicily. It is owned by the Region and is exhibited as of today in the museum of Aidone, a small village in the inlands of the island in the Enna Province. The exhibition was opened by important guest: Culture Minister Giancarlo Galan, the President of the Sicily Region Raffaele Lombardo, US consul general in Naples Donald Moore, presidential advisor for artistic heritage Luis Godart and senator Francesco Rutelli, who initiated the statue’s return when he was Culture Minister. The inauguration of the Morgantina goddess in what will be its final home for the Region concludes a long exile that started when a group of grave-robbers took possession of an exceptional find: a 2.20m high statue in drapery, the arms and head sculpted from white marble from the island of Paro. The style and technique point in the direction of an artist of the school of Phidias. Since the statue is finished on all sides, scholars think that it was made as a centre piece, perhaps in a holy place. In that case what at first had been called the “Venus of Morgantina” would actually be a pagan divinity that was venerated in Greek Sicily: Demeter or Persephone. After the find, the “grave robbers” separated the statue into three parts to sell it on the illegal art market.

Investigators discovered that it was sold in 1985 by a dealer in Gela to a moneychanger in Lugano, who resold it for 5 million 500 thousand USD to an English collector. On July 25 1988 it was bought by the Paul Getty Museum for 18 million USD. After reconstructing the voyage of the Morgantina goddess from Sicily to the USA, former Minister Francesco Rutelli started a diplomatic initiative to get it back to Italy. After 30 years, the goddess is home again.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Riding Bikes is for Children and the Strange’: Why Britons Are Still Reluctant to Saddle Up

Despite years of the government promoting cycling, Britons are still reluctant to saddle up, according to a study.

And most people believe bikes are either children’s toys or for enthusiasts in Lycra shorts.

The coalition has pledged more than £500m over five years on supporting pro-cycling campaigns.

But the university research found efforts to gets Britons on their bikes fell flat and had almost no impact on the population.

Only those already interested in cycling welcomed the backing. But any chance of a Dutch-style mass two-wheel culture appears to be a long way off.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Northamptonshire Sex Attack: CCTV Pictures Released

CCTV images have been released of a man wanted by Northamptonshire Police for a sexual assault.

The man followed two 14-year-old girls through the covered walkway over the A45 from the Weston Favell Shopping Centre at about 1400 BST on 8 May.

He then asked both girls for sex, in exchange for supermarket vouchers and touched one of them, police said.

He is Asian, aged 30-35, slim and about 5ft 9in (1.75m) tall and was wearing a black polo shirt.

He was also wearing camouflage trousers.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or who has any other information is asked to contact police.

           — Hat tip: Seneca III[Return to headlines]


Croatia: Papal Visit Sparks Protests and Political Spat

Zagreb, 3 June (AKI) — Human rights organisations are planning protests at Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Croatia on Saturday and Sunday, which has also sparked a political row, local media reported on Friday.

During his first visit to the Croatian capital, Zagreb, Pope Benedict XVI was due to meet with Croatian political and religious leaders, prominent public figures and representatives of non-governmental organisation.

He will hold prayers on the main city square in Zagreb.

Foreign minister Gordan Jandrokovic said the visit was a confirmation of traditionally good ties between Catholic Croatia and Vatican.

“History confirms the exceptionally good relations between Croatia and the Holy See,” Jandrokovic said.

But several human rights organisations have planned protests against the pope’s visit which will cost up two million euros.

The human rights organisation David blamed “irresponsible government” for “squandering the money of impoverished people on an individual”.

The organisation blamed Croatian Catholic clergy for “immoral and unethical behaviour and for inciting intolerance and hatred against everything that isn’t Catholic.”

Croatia is expected to become the 28th member of the EU next year and officials hope that Benedict’s visit will extra momentum to the conclusion of yhr the country’s access talks with the European Union this month.

But several opposition politicians said they would refuse to meet the pope, claiming that the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party was manipulating Benedict’s visit for its own political ends.

Damir Kajin, a member of parliament from the opposition Istrian Democratic Alliance said that despite being a “faithful believer” he would not attend the meeting with the pontiff in the Croatian National Theatre in protest at HDZ’s alleged manipulation of the event.

“I have the impression that the meeting is reserved exclusively for reformed communists from the ranks of HDZ,” Kajin told media.

Former Croatian president and ex-HDZ member Stjepan Mesic said he was offended at not being invited by the Bishop’s Conference to meet the pope.

“I would think that I belonged there, but I wasn’t invited,” Mesic said.

Mesic left HDZ in 1994 and formed a new party — Croatian Independent Democrats (HND) with several other MPs. In 1997, the majority of HND members, including Mesic, merged into the opposition Croatian People’s Party.

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

Serbian Prosecutors Want to Question Mladic

Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor is seeking to question former Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic about crimes committed against Serbs during the Bosnian conflict of the early 1990s.

The prosecutor’s office said Saturday that it wants permission from a United Nations tribunal to ask Mladic about crimes allegedly carried out by Bosnian Muslim forces led by Naser Oric. Oric was the commander of Muslim troops in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

The U.N. court in The Hague acquitted Oric, but Serbian prosecutors say their questions involve incidents that were not included in the U.N. indictment against him.

Serbs say thousands of their own were killed in and around Srebrenica before the 1995 massacre of Muslims that Mladic is accused of masterminding. The massacre killed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

Mladic was captured last week after 16 years on the run. He told the U.N. tribunal Friday that he fought for his country and his people, not for himself, during the fall of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. He denied the charges of genocide and war crimes against him, calling them “obnoxious” and “disgusting.”

Widows and mothers of Bosnian war victims who attended Friday’s hearing cried and shouted at the defiant Mladic, calling him a “monster” and “butcher.” Kept behind a soundproof glass, it was not clear if he could hear them.

Mladic declined to enter a plea Friday. If he refuses again during the next court session July 4, a court-appointed lawyer will automatically enter a not guilty plea on his behalf.

Serbian President Boris Tadic told reporters Friday that Serbia has proven to be serious about improving its international reputation by arresting Mladic.

Mladic also is accused of masterminding the nearly three-year siege of Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo, in which 10,000 people died.

[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EIB: 142 Mln to Sorek Seawater Desalinisation Plant

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAY 30 — The European Investment Bank (EIB) is financing a 142 million euros contract relating to the design and construction of a seawater desalination plant in Sorek, Israel.

The project will serve to substantially increase the availability of water resources in a water-scarce region through the construction of a plant with a production capacity of 150 million cubic meters per year. The expansion of desalination technology will have a direct impact on people’s daily lives: the blending of desalinated water with fresh potable water from the national water carrier system will improve the quality of water delivered to consumers by reducing hardness and concentrations of salts, nitrates and boron. It will ultimately result in markedly reduced water abstraction and thus the prevention of saline water intrusion into aquifers.

The financing of this project forms part of the EIB’s support for improving wastewater treatment facilities and drinking water supply in the region. In the Mediterranean region as a whole, it has devoted more than 1.05 billion euros to the water sector.

FEMIP (Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership) is also working to reduce pollution in the Mediterranean Sea under the “Horizon 2020” initiative, fully in line with one of the six priorities of the Union for the Mediterranean.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Attack Choppers ‘Logical Extension’ In Libya

NATO’s use of attack helicopters in Libya is a “logical extension” of the military pressure on embattled leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi, British Defence Secretary Liam Fox said Saturday. “No, it’s not plan B at all,” Fox told journalists on the sidelines of a security conference in Singapore, hours after the first helicopter attacks were launched over Libya, striking military forces backing Kadhafi. “The use of the attack helicopters is a logical extension of what we have already been doing,” he added. Fox said the use of the British Apache helicopters from the HMS Ocean showed the willingness of the coalition to “keep the pressure up” on Kadhafi.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Protesters Demand Sharia Law Implementation, Tourism That Respects Islam

Around 300 individuals gathered in Tahrir Square on Friday, chanting “Islamist, Islamist,” and calling for the implementation of Sharia Law in Egypt. Protesters also raised objections regarding tourists who “violate the people’s traditions,” and demanded closer scrutiny of those who receive permission to enter the country for tourism purposes.

The protesters, who held the banner of the “Development and Renaissance Party”, refused a civil state and attacked secularism, arguing that it does not suit the Egyptian people. They stressed that Egypt is a strictly Islamic country. A number of protesters had set up a stage at the same spot that Tahrir revolutionaries used to spread their message. A number of passers-by and street vendors gathered around the group.

The protesters called for tourism that respects cultural norms, saying Gulf tourists visit to violate Egyptian women. Foreign tourists who do not respect the Islamic traditions should also be more strictly regulated, they said.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Former Egyptian Interior Minister Accused of Collusion in Alexandria Church Bombing

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — The Egyptian attorney general has reopened the investigation into the bombing of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve, which killed 24 Copts and injured more than 90. On May 25 Coptic Church attorney Joseph Malak presented a petition to the Attorney General to reopen the investigations into the church bombing. The petition accused former Minister of Interior, Habib el-Adly, of criminal responsibility and collusion.

The Attorney General assigned the case to the Supreme State Security Prosecution to question the former Minister of Interior, who is presently in prison on other charges, including ordering the shooting of more than 900 protesters in Tahrir Square on January 28.

“We expect el-Adly to appear for interrogation before prosecution within the next few days,” said Malak in an interview on Egyptian TV. He said that everyone was surprised when in mid April it was reported that all 20 Muslim suspects in the church attack were released and that they had been held as “political detainees.”

The bombing of the church shocked Egypt and the world and brought international condemnation of Egypt, including from Pope Benedict, for not protecting its Christian minority against violence, especially as Egyptian churches had received repeated threats of retaliatory action from al-Qaida militants in Iraq, immediately after the massacre of 58 Assyrians at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad.

In both the Iraq and Egypt attacks the reason was allegedly over female Christian-converts to Islam who were held against their will by the Coptic Church. The Coptic church has denied the accusation.

The lack of security forces guarding the threatened Egyptian churches was heavily criticized, especially as the security forces withdrew nearly one hour before the blast, leaving only four policemen and an officer to guard the church and nearly 2000 people attending the midnight mass. Coptic activists had called at the time for the resignation of Habib el-Adly, who was then Interior Minister, and pointed fingers at Muslim Salafists in Egypt (AINA 1-2-2011). Following this announcement and the arrest three weeks later of 20 suspects in the church bombing, a media blackout was imposed by the General Prosecutor’s Office.

The church in Alexandria assigned Malak to pursue the case. “I had an unofficial meeting with the prosecution in Alexandria, requesting information on the decision to release the suspects in the church bombing, the disclosure of the investigations conducted with them, as well as the progress in the case and if it was still open.”

Malak said he was stunned to learn the case had been “frozen” since January 25 and the file was transferred to the Supreme State Security Prosecution. Also, there were no accused, as previously claimed by the Interior Minister, and those who were detained were never investigated. “I was told by prosecution that they do not even have the names of the accused, and the only role they played was investigating the witnesses and the injured.”

Malak said he sent a complaint to the Military Council, but never received a reply, so he approached the Attorney General.

“We believe the Interior Minister had a security breach and there was a certain security policy which was evident in this case.” He added that after the Egyptian church got direct and clear threats from Al-Qaida in November 2010, the security forces should have been fully prepared for this threat.

On January 23, 2011, during Police Day celebrations, Habib el-Adly accused the Palestinian group Army of Islam, which has links to Al-Qaeda, of having masterminded the New Year’s church attack in Alexandria, an accusation denied by the group. But the Interior Minister stood by his accusation and named an Egyptian, Ahmad Lotfi Ibrahim, of being the group’s accomplice and who had admitted in writing to his involvement.

An Al-Qaida affiliated group calling itself the “Salafist Combat Group in Iraq” claimed responsibility for the Alexandria church attack. A statement from the group said that a combat battalion went from Iraq to Egypt to perform the operation in order to launch what they called “the release of Muslim captive women from the prisons of the Coptic Church.” The group noted that one of its agents blew himself up.

“After the attack we got mixed messages,” said Coptic activist Mark Ebeid, “was it a car bomb which detonated in front of the church or was it a suicide bomber? No one knows what happened.”

The current Interior Minister, Mansour al-Issawi, ordered on June 1 the arrest of the main suspect in the church bombing, Ahmad Lotfi Ibrahim.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Libya: NATO: Military Mission Extended, 90 More Days

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JUNE 1 — Today, NATO decided to extend its military mission in Libya, Unified Protector, for another 90 days, according to diplomatic sources. “With this decision NATO and its partners are sending a clear message to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “We are determined to continue our operations to protect the people of Libya. We will continue with our efforts to enforce the mandate received from the UN.” Rasmussen also underlined that the extension of the mission, which was initially set at 90 days according to standard procedure, sends a clear message to the Libyan people, which the alliance and the international community will continue to stand by.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: NATO Strikes Hit Tripoli and Kill Police West of Capital

Tripoli, 3 June (AKI) — Fresh Nato raids on Tripoli were carried out late Thursday lasting until dawn on Friday, according to news reports.

According to the Libyan government official, the strikes hit a tribal gathering camp near Gaddafi’s compound in Bab al-Aziziya, CNN reported. The military alliance previously has called the location a vehicle storage facility for Gaddafi’s forces.

Bombs were also reported to have hit Al-Aziziya, a city 55 kilometres west of Libyan capital Tripoli. Two policemen died when a bomb hit a police station, according to reports.

On Thursday, Nato has carried out fresh attacks on Tripoli with at least 10 raids hitting targets in and around the Libyan capital, according to news reports.

Nato has confirmed the Thursday attacks, saying it struck a missile launcher, military vehicles and a radar station.

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

Tunisia: Prickly Pears as Economic Opportunity

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 11 — When driving along the roads of southern Tunisia, one sees not only wild landscapes and “poor” fields alternating with stretches of desert land, but especially two things: thousands and thousands of row of olives and many prickly pears or, as the Tunisians call them, “Barbary figs”.

Plants originally from Mexico (so much that they are even depicted on the country’s national flag) which, over the centuries, have been brought by men and birds spreading their seeds and invading areas of the rest of the world ensuring them a favourable climate with high temperatures and sun: in many regions of southern Europe prickly pears have become a characteristic element of the panorama. Like more or less everywhere else in the hottest countries of the Mediterranean, they grow quickly and Tunisian farmers, in planting them along the edges of their land holdings, use them as a demarcation line. Very popular as a fruit, prickly pears have never been granted much attention in Tunisia beyond their use as food, despite being widely liked. Produced in large quantities especially in the Kesserine region and particularly in Thala, they are always found on the tables of Tunisians for their quality in aiding digestion. Prickly pears (called ‘k’rmous el Hindia’, or ‘Indian figs’ in Arabic) are very rich in vitamins -especially vitamin C — as well as magnesium and iron. Medical science also credits prickly pears with positive effects to reduce glucose rates in the bloodstream as well as cholesterol and triglycerides. However, a Tunisia now seeking new employment possibilities for its economy, which is finding it difficult to recover after the problems linked to the transition from dictatorship to democracy, is focusing on prickly pears through two new industrial plants in the Siliana governorate as part of an agreement between a Tunisian investor residing abroad and an Italian entrepreneur. Initially the initiative calls for an investment of about 300,000 dinars (just under 150,000 euros), which will bring in two production units — in Bargou and Somrani — with 10 jobs created directly and 150 indirectly. However, what sectors does the initiative focus on? Above all the pharmaceutical one, with the desiccation and grinding of the leaves, while the flowers will instead be treated and exported to European cosmetic firms.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Sister of Former President Ben Ali Arrested

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 3 — Last night national security officials arrested former President Ben Ali’s sister, Najet, who had been in hiding for some time. She was hiding in a house in the region of Sousse, according to a report from a source in the Interior Ministry to TAP. An investigating magistrate at the Court of First Instance of Sfax had issued a restrictive order against Najet Ben Ali. It has not yet been announced what the accusations are against her. Meanwhile, the former leader has launched a legal offensive against orders — the most recent of which has been issued by officials in Qatar — to freeze his assets accumulated abroad over more than 20 years. According to satellite TV network Al Jazeera, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (who is currently in a city in Saudi Arabia with his wife, Leila, and his two young children), reportedly hired a Lebanese lawyer, Akram Azouri, to legally fight the accusations that have been made against him in Tunisia and abroad which have resulted in the freezing of the immense assets that he accumulated together with members of his family, mainly outside of Tunisia. Ben Ali’s defence strategy is reportedly based on a challenge to the legitimacy of the order to seize his assets, which, says his lawyer, can only be issued by a legal authority and not through a decision made by a ministry, which has occurred in this case. His lawyer has reportedly not ruled out taking legal action for defamation against those who have made accusations, unfoundedly in his opinion, against the former Tunisian dictator. Ben Ali continues to observe the silence imposed upon him by Saudi authorities in exchange for allowing him to stay in the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Poverty Rate at 24.7% According to Minister

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 30 — The poverty rate in Tunisia is currently 24.7% according to Social Affairs Minister Mohamed Ennaceur. At the end of last year, the poverty rate, which is assessed according to international standards of two dollars per day, was 13-14%. The increase, reports news agency TAP, mainly affected the inhabitants of the western regions in the country, whose protest movement has demanded “better living conditions”. There are currently 700,000 unemployed, 69% of whom are under the age of 30; an estimated 170,000 unemployed have secondary school diplomas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Palestinians Storm Gate at Rafah Crossing

Jerusalem (CNN) — Palestinians traveling to Egypt stormed a gate at the border crossing on Saturday after waiting for hours in buses, Gaza officials told CNN.

It is the first kink in cross-border travel after Egypt reopened the crossing with Gaza last week, a symbolic move that signaled the Cairo government’s greater support of Palestinian aspirations.

The Rafah Crossing had been subject to frequent closures by Egypt after the Islamic militant group Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

The closure of the border had been part of an embargo policy by Egypt and Israel aimed at cutting off Hamas, but the embargo created an economic hardship on the Palestinian territory by limiting shipments of goods in and out of the country.

Saturday’s incident occurred when a few busloads of Palestinians arrived at the main crossing but couldn’t get through.

Egyptians were doing maintenance on the vehicle crossing from Gaza into Egypt and had to close it down for the repairs. But Egyptians didn’t inform Gaza officials about the work.

Some of the passengers on the four buses at the gate became agitated after waiting for hours, got out of their buses, and forcibly pushed the gate until they broke the chain on it and went across the border.

There were no injuries in the incident and tempers cooled down.

Egypt escorted the passengers back to the Gaza side and the buses went back to their destinations in Gaza.

The traffic crossing from Gaza to Egypt is expected to be reopened by Sunday.

The border is open to pedestrian crossings and traffic is permitted from Egypt to Gaza.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Emirates is World’s ‘Largest’ Airline

Largest by scheduled international passenger kms flown: Ahmed

As the initial euphoria of The Emirates Group and airlines’ stellar results dissipates into analysis, forecast and growth buoyancy for Dubai, it is note-worthy that the airline and its management now see the title of ‘world’s largest airline’ within their grasp. Amid the myriad notes that formed the annual report released yesterday here in the emirate lay this statement by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group: “With 182,757 million available seat kilometres, we are now the world’s largest airline by scheduled international passenger kilometres flown.” Needless to say the claim comes on the back of the Emirates Group marking its 23rd consecutive year of profit with a record performance of Dh5.9bn ($1.6bn) net profit, despite a challenging business climate.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Obama is Too Optimistic About Middle East Democracy

by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is concerned about President Barack Obama’s ‘soft-focused’ approach towards the democracy movement in the Middle East. He fears it may instead lead to a new tyranny, that Bin Laden may be hailed as a martyr and his death a rallying cry. He asks whether Obama’s approach to Islam actually reflects a dhimmi-mentality.

Tyranny of the majority?

President Obama referred several times to the desire for democracy among the demonstrators, but is this enough? Democracy can lead to a tyranny of the majority. Unless there is a strong charter of liberty that safeguards the rights of women and non-Muslim communities, democracy on its own may prove chimerical. There needs also to be a commitment to one law for all and to equality under the law.

The retention in Egypt of Sharia as the sole basis for law cannot be a good omen for the future of such equality. These difficult questions cannot be bypassed by soft-focused references to democracy. Obama mentioned a “fierce contest for power” but did not say that some of those engaged in that contest may be ideologically committed not to relinquish such power once they have acquired it.

We should never forget the lessons from Iran in 1979, where many secular, moderate, and non-violent elements joined with Islamists in the struggle to oust the Shah. Once he was toppled, however, the Islamists got rid of their erstwhile allies one by one. Egypt, of course, is not Iran, and we pray that what happened there will not also happen in Egypt, but we need awareness of the parallels.

Dhimmi mentality?

Some scholars have written about the dhimmi mentality, i.e. a subservient attitude developed towards Muslim rulers by Christian, Jewish, and other communities that were allowed to survive, but under heavy restrictions, in the Muslim world.

It has sometimes been held that the West’s response to events in the Muslim world betrays a similar mentality, brought about by fear. Was the President’s speech an example of this?

Bin Laden

The President seems understandably but unduly optimistic about the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death. It will undoubtedly affect some of al-Qaeda’s operations, but extremist Islamism is now so decentralised that it will have little effect. It would be a great mistake to see bin Laden’s death as the end of radical Islam. It may in fact lead to his becoming an icon or a martyr in exactly the way that the President does not wish.

Arab Spring?

Has the “Arab Spring” been as non-violent as the President claims? Certainly there are many in the Middle East who want it to be — and to remain — non-violent. But the Copts whose churches have been burned, whose young people have been killed, and whose women have been abducted will hardly see it that way…

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Official: Powers Transferred to VP After Attack on Yemeni President Saleh

(CNN) — Effective Saturday night, Yemeni Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi took over Ali Abdullah Saleh’s responsibilities as president, Yemeni government spokesman Abdu Ganadi told CNN.

The power transfer comes as a source close to the Saudi government said that the long-time Yemeni ruler arrived in Riyadh around midnight Saturday, a day after being hurt in an attack on a mosque in his palace.

Some Yemeni officials continue to insist that Saleh, who for months has resisted calls to step down, is still in Yemen. Yaser Yamani, Sanaa’s deputy mayor, told Yemeni state TV Saturday night that “Saleh is still being treated in the military hospital in Sanaa.”

Yet the Saudi source said that Saleh was immediately taken to a nearby hospital after his plane landed in Saudi Arabia.

A senior Yemeni government official had told CNN that Saleh was fine after sustaining a slight head injury in Friday’s attack, and he gave a nationally broadcast speech later that night. But Saleh’s medical condition is worse than originally thought, according to the Saudi source.

[Return to headlines]

Speculation Grows on Yemeni President’s Condition

CAIRO — Yemen’s president accepted an offer Saturday to receive medical treatment in Saudi Arabia for wounds sustained a day earlier in a rocket attack on the presidential palace, the Associated Press reported, citing unnamed Yemeni officials.

But Yemen’s deputy information minister said that there would be no need to move the president to the neighboring kingdom, which has superior medical facilities.

The conflicting reports fueled speculation that the injuries President Ali Abdullah Saleh suffered in Friday’s attack could have been more serious than the palace has suggested.

Also Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah brokered a temporary cease-fire between Yemeni government forces and opposition tribesmen, tribal leaders said.

The deal followed a day of intense fighting in the capital, Sanaa, on Friday that heightened fears of growing lawlessness in a country where Washington is trying to root out a sophisticated branch of al-Qaeda.

After Saleh and top officials were wounded in the afternoon attack on the presidential palace in southern Sanaa, government forces reportedly struck tribal leaders’ homes with artillery fire, killing 19 people and wounding 40, tribal leaders said.

Yemen’s state news agency reported Saturday that the country’s prime minister, Ali Mujawar, and the speaker of parliament, Yahya al-Raee, were among a handful of dignitaries flown to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.

Saleh was wounded in the head and was being treated at the Defense Ministry hospital, a Yemeni official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s condition.

Deputy Information Minister Abdu al-Janadi said Saturday that Saleh was in “good health and is able to make decisions.”

Janadi said the president “does not like to take revenge,” and indicated that the “response to this crime is patience and waiting for the official results of the investigation.”

The remarks appeared to be an effort to temper Saleh’s angry vow on Friday night to “defeat” the tribesmen, whom he referred to as “gangs.”

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Syrian Protesters Turn on Iran and Hezbollah

Syrian opposition protesters are not just calling for the fall of President Bashar al-Assad: they have recently begun directing their anger against his regional allies, Iran and Hezbollah. Our Observer says this is a new and unexpected turn of events.

Videos of recent protests in Syria show demonstrators chanting slogans against Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution, as well as the Hezbollah, an Islamist political party from Lebanon with a powerful armed wing. Even more surprising has been footage of protesters burning posters of Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary-general and a widely respected figure throughout the Middle East.

Their anger is a result of Tehran’s and Hezbollah’s unwavering support for the Syrian government, even as it ruthlessly crushes its own people’s calls for more democracy. The last straw for Syrian protesters was a speech pronounced by Hassan Nasrallah on May 25, in which he assured Assad of his “everlasting friendship and support”.

The recent anti-Hezbollah protests have mainly taken place in the town of Douma, not far from the Syrian capital Damascus, and in Homs, Syria’s culture capital and third-largest city.

[videos at link]

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

UNHCR Slams Qatar’s Move to Return ‘Raped’ Libyan Woman

The UN refugees agency on Friday slammed Qatar’s decision to send back to Libya a woman who had accused Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s soldiers of having raped her. “Yesterday’s forced return of Libyan national, Iman al-Obeidi, by Qatar to Libya violates international law,” said Adrian Edwards, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

US to Offer Turkey Peace Process Role to Stop Flotilla

The Obama Administration may soon present the Turkish government with a proposition to stop the upcoming flotilla to Gaza and restore relations between Ankara and Jerusalem, Turkish daily Today’s Zaman reported on Friday.

Talks, which have been stalled since late last year after Palestinians demanded Israel extend a freeze of West Bank settlement building, would be resumed in Turkey following the model of the Madrid conference or the secret Oslo talks that followed in the early 1990s, Today’s Zaman reported.

Israel has been making great diplomatic efforts in recent weeks to pressure Turkey to stop a repeat of the Gaza flotilla that took place just over one year ago. Nine Turkish nationals were killed by Israeli commandos who boarded one of the six ships that attempted to break Israel’s blockade of the Strip. Another flotilla is expected to head for the Gaza Strip later this month.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Carabinieri Officer Killed, Common Crime Victim

(AGI) Rome — A Carabinieri police officer, lieutenant colonel Cristiano Congiu was killed in Afghanistan, the Italian Foreign Ministry reported. 50-year-old Congiu was a drug trafficking expert and worked at the Embassy in Kabul. His death occurred as a result of a common crime incident, and not of a terrorist attack.

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

Top Jihadist Leader Killed, Followers Say

(CNN) — The man described by counterterrorism officials as al Qaeda’s “military brain,” Ilyas Kashmiri, was killed in a drone strike Friday night in Pakistan, a spokesman for his group, the jihadist Harakat-ul-Jihad-Islami, said.

Pakistani and U.S. officials, however, said they have not confirmed Kashmiri’s death.

Kashmiri was killed, along with some aides, in a strike at 11:15 p.m., spokesman Abu Hanzla Kashar said.

“The oppressor U.S. is our only target and, God willing, we will take revenge on the U.S. soon with full force,” he said.

A senior Pakistani military official said that in all, nine were killed by the drone strike. The official reiterated that they had not confirmed Kashmiri’s demise.

Kashmiri, who was known to operate in North Waziristan, had moved to South Waziristan and was seen at the site of the attack on Friday, the official said.

If confirmed, his death would be the first major kill or capture since Osama Bin Laden, and the highest profile drone target since Beitullah Mehsud in 2009.

It could also be seen as an embarrassment for Pakistanis, who have twice in just over one month, had a major al Qaeda figure killed on their territory without their participation.

U.S. drones now operate entirely autonomously in Pakistan, a Pakistani intelligence source has told CNN. Whereas before the United States cooperated with Pakistan and used their intelligence, today, the Americans have an intelligence network that allows them to go after terrorists unilaterally.

Kashmiri, a veteran jihadist, is considered one of the most dangerous men in the world by counterterrorism officials on three continents.

He was commander of “Brigade 313” of Harakat-ul-Jihad-Islami, which has formed a close relationship with al Qaeda.

Kashmiri is also said to have ties with David Coleman Headley, the U.S. citizen who confessed to helping scout

targets for the Mumbai attack in November 2008. After his arrest, Headley said he had twice met Kashmiri.

During questioning by India’s National Intelligence Agency, which was given access to him in Chicago, Illinois, in June 2010, Headley said he’d been taken to Pakistan’s tribal territories to meet Kashmiri early in 2009.

A copy of the interrogation obtained by CNN reveals that Kashmiri sent Headley on another trip to survey targets in India. One place he said he videotaped was a bakery that was later attacked in Pune in February 2010.

Kashmiri in his early years fought the Indians in the disputed territory of Kashmir and the Russians in Afghanistan, where he lost an eye.

He famously escaped from an Indian jail and went to fight with a unit of Pakistan’s special forces. Eventually, he fell out with his sponsors in the Pakistani military, and moved his operations to North Waziristan.

At one point, he was arrested in connection with an attempt to assassinate Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in 2003. For reasons unknown, Kashmiri was released a short time later.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Far East

EPA Gave $1.29 Million to China

The Environmental Protection Agency has given at least $1,285,535 in grants to China to promote environmental research in the country. In all, the EPA issued six grants that went to China, most of which pertained to researching methane in Chinese coal mines and reducing carbon emissions in China, a communist dictatorship long criticized by human rights groups. Two of those grants were awarded during the Bush administration; four were awarded during the Obama administration.

The issue, at a time of mounting debt and deficits, is about fiscal responsibility, said Robert Gordon, senior advisor for strategic outreach for the Heritage Foundation, who has closely monitored EPA grants, and recently wrote a piece criticizing the Chinese grants.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Italian NGO’s Complaints Before ICC Unlikely to Start Trial Against Malta

It is unlikely that the complaint filed before the International Criminal Court against Malta will lead to a case being instituted, according to legal experts.

An Italian confederation of consumer organisations (Codacons) on Monday filed reports with the ICC and the International Court of Justice repeating Italian Home Affairs Minister Roberto Maroni’s claims that. on May 29, Malta had “washed its hands” of a boat in distress with 209 migrants aboard in the island’s SAR zone and that it had passed the buck to the Italian authorities.

Malta said the drifting boat of immigrants was indeed in its SAR area but it was 126 nautical miles away from Malta and just 50 nautical miles south of Lampedusa.

The NGO might be knocking on the wrong door. While the ICC might take up a report by an NGO or an individual, investigate it and start prosecution only a State can start a case against another in the ICJ.

Human rights lawyer and lecturer Neil Falzon believes the matter is too trivial to be taken up by the Court, which handles cases of genocide and mass breaches of human rights.

“The ICC is an international court that deals with human rights crimes on an enormous scale; genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity… I doubt it would take up the case against Malta,” Dr Falzon said.

Similarly, Jon Hoisaeter, representing the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Malta, said: “One may question whether these are the most appropriate and relevant institutions for Codacons’ request for an assessment of the specific responsibilities that apply within the Maltese search and rescue zone”.

The consumer organisation’s complaint hinges on the presupposition that Malta did not do its duty in its own SAR area.

Codacons president Carlo Rienzi said the organisation’s aim was “to ascertain whether a state is violating international norms that oblige asylum and help to those who find themselves in difficulty at sea”.

“We’re trying to see if what we read on the papers is true. The last report we read was that the Maltese authorities did not assist a boat and asked Italy to handle it. If this happened, it would be very serious. It seems that no boats land in Malta… why is that,” Mr Rienzi asked.

When faced with the Maltese government’s oft-repeated explanation that Lampedusa — Italian territory — would be 100 miles closer than Malta, Mr Rienza insisted that the Court at The Hague would see the Guardia di Finanza’s reports and if “it sees that Malta did not assist them in its territorial waters, then it could open international proceedings against the perpetrators”.

An SAR region, international law expert Patricia Cassar Torregiani explained, was a specific area in which a particular state has the responsibility to coordinate rescue operations.

The SAR Convention laid down that it was the states’ responsibility to cooperate with other rescue coordination centres to identify the most appropriate place(s) for disembarkation of persons found in distress at sea and whenever necessary cooperate with neighbouring states, Dr Cassar Torregiani said.

Malta was not party to a treaty signed in 2004 that placed the burden on the state operating the SAR region to receive passengers in distress.

“Italy has accepted the 2004 amendments while Malta has exercised its sovereign right and formally objected to the 2004 amendments as well as IMO’s circular (which would bind Malta to take migrants rescued in its SAR). Malta continues to follow its long-term practice and international law obligation that disembarkation should occur at the nearest safe port to the site of the rescue, which in the Maltese SAR areas is often a port in Italy,” Dr Cassar Torregiani said.

“Legally, both states are in the right”.

While acknowledging that the issue of disembarkation had been a “contentious one” for some time, Mr Hoisaeter said “disembarkation at the nearest port is often a preferred option”.

“There are situations when urgent health and safety considerations would require that those rescued are brought to the nearest safe port of call. This is also recognised by the new Frontex guidelines. Hence, this is clearly not an illegal act.

“In cases where disembarkation at the nearest port of call may not be possible or the most appropriate option, it can become a question of defining the responsibility of the country coordinating the rescue. On this Italy and Malta are not always in agreement,” Mr Hoisaeter noted.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Malta: Twenty-Seven Illegal Immigrants Land at Xlendi

Twenty-seven illegal immigrants landed at Xlendi Bay at around 6.00pm this evening. The group comprised of twenty-three males and four females.

Gozo police were called immediately to the scene and said that four of the males required medical treatment and needed to be hospitalised in Gozo.

A police bus was also despatched to the scene and is now transporting the remaining twenty-three immigrants to Malta for further investigations by the immigration police.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Maltese Government Defends Policy to Detain Asylum Seekers

The government stood by its mandatory detention policy for asylum seekers yesterday in spite of recommendations by the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner to abolish it.

The government maintained that detention was a necessity “in view of Malta’s geo-social realities and the fact that the identity of irregular migrants cannot be ascertained upon arrival”.

In a report, COE Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg strongly criticised the detention policy as “irreconcilable” with the European Convention on Human Rights and case law of the Strasbourg Court. This was especially so since, last July, the Court had found Malta guilty of violating the right to liberty and security of Louled Massoud, an asylum seeker whose claim had been rejected.

The Maltese authorities were encouraged by the commissioner to bring their procedure in line with the judgment and to provide for the presumption in favour of liberty under national law by establishing a framework for alternatives to detention.

However, in its reply, the government maintained that alternatives to detention were not feasible in Malta because migratory influxes were disproportionate to the country’s size and capacity.

The 17-page report follows the commissioner’s visit to Malta in late March. It not only speaks about detention problems, which many human rights organisations have long criticised, but also recommends changes in living conditions for migrants, lack of opportunities for long-term livelihood and asylum procedures, among others.

The Hal Far tent village, it said, was “clearly inadequate” as larger open centres posed difficult conditions for migrants living there. Moreover, since specialised facilities for vulnerable groups had a limited capacity, these often ended up in the bigger open centres “that are totally inadequate for this purpose”.

Moreover, vulnerable persons, including pregnant women, unaccompanied minors and persons with disabilities, were also subject to mandatory detention although they were released earlier, Mr Hammarberg said.

Refugee determination procedures also needed to be improved by including the need to provide access to a legal aid, among other recommendations.

The government’s stand was that efforts had consistently been made to provide the best possible reception conditions, further to providing detainees with all relevant rights, including the right to challenge their detention decision.

“However it has to be recognised that the consistently large number of migrants residing at the centres imposes limitations vis-à-vis refurbishment initiatives,” the government said. Moreover, Malta’s ability to absorb migrants over the long-term remained limited, especially in view of its small labour market.

The commissioner’s recommendation to close the Hal Far tent village was not realistic because Malta’s reception facilities remained overstretched and appeared likely to experience more pressures in the near future, the Justice and Home Affairs Ministry said.

The COE report concludes that the system in place to support migrants “currently perpetuates their social exclusion and leaves them at serious risk of destitution”.

Mr Hammarberg recommended that the system that made financial support for migrants dependent on residence in open centres be discontinued to favour migrant’s self-reliance and integration into society.

He also encouraged the Maltese authorities to keep the country’s borders open for people in need of international protection forced to flee from Libya.

However, he stressed the need for international solidarity to relocate and resettle migrants.

Mandatory detention

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees and human rights group Aditus did not agree with the government’s insistence on mandatory detention procedure.

The UNHCR continues to advocate a review of the policy. It encouraged the authorities to explore alternatives to the system including through arrangements such as semi-open centres and early release for a broader group of vulnerable individuals.

Aditus strongly criticised the “effectively dismissive” stand by the authorities with regard to Mr Hammarberg’s recommendations.

Malta’s size or the ministry’s lack of knowledge of the asylum-seekers’ identities were not criteria enough to deprive a person of his/her liberty, according to international human rights law, it said.

“Furthermore, since all persons are, anyway, released after a number of months, Aditus would like the ministry to explain the actual and continued benefits achieved from detaining them throughout those months,” it added.

The ministry also failed to justify the locking up for weeks, if not months, of children, babies, pregnant wo­men, persons with disabilities, elderly persons and other vulnerable persons, group chairman Neil Falzon said.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

We’re Coming Because You’re Kind Say Migrants

We love England, say migrants at the port area yesterday

ILLEGAL migrants in Calais told yesterday how reports of Britain’s crumbling asylum ­system gave them the “courage” to try to reach the UK.

Many had travelled thousands of miles across Africa and Europe and paid out thousands to get to the French port.

As they prepared to sneak aboard lorries and ferries, they said they knew all about the chaos in the immigration system across the Channel.

“It is something which is made clear every time we check on the internet or watch TV,” said Mohammed, 24, who said he was from Libya.

“Leaving a country at war is difficult but the way the English welcome immigrants gives me courage. It is the same with all my brothers waiting in Calais — we are all given the courage to carry on to England.”

Mohammed, one of thousands displaced by the turmoil in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, said he had paid around £5,000 to reach France. “It comes from friends and family savings but it will all be repaid when I claim asylum in England and start working,” he said.

The UK Border Agency, which is meant to police ports like Calais, was this week described as “still not fit for purpose” by Labour MP Keith Vaz. More than 100,000 asylum seekers have in effect been granted an amnesty to stay because of blunders in the UK system.Mohammed and hundreds of other migrants are living in a disused factory in Calais dubbed “Africa House”.

Police raids are a daily occurrence, with both migrants and charity workers complaining that beatings are common.

Amman, 30, who claims to come from Afghanistan, said: “If we try to claim asylum in France we are treated like dogs. Nobody respects us and we are beaten by the police.

“The British system is completely different. Money is available and people are friendly. We will be given asylum and we can find jobs and houses. My aim is to bring my family over from Afghanistan once I am settled.”

Many of those sitting around Africa House were wearing England football tops and one had a Union flag T-shirt.

“We love everything about England,” said Abdul Kaim, 26, from Eritrea. “The people are good people. They want to help others and welcome strangers.

“All the countries we pass through are the complete opposite. Nobody wants to know us. We are shunned and given no food or water, let alone jobs.”

As exclusively revealed by the Daily Express yesterday, Home Secretary Theresa May will hold a meeting with her French opposite number in Calais on Monday to discuss the migrant crisis

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Go Ahead for Surrogacy for Gays in Ghent

The ethics committee of Ghent University Hospital has given non- commercial surrogacy for gay couples the green light. In future gay people who want a child of their own will be able to enlist the services of the hospital after they find a surrogate mum.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Schlafly: Outrageous Transgender School Curricula

Students in all grades at Oakland, California’s Redwood Heights Elementary School were given two days of gender diversity lessons designed to teach them that gender is not confined to the “binary concept” of two options. The lessons promoted “gender neutrality,” the concept that no distinctions between male and female should be legally allowed.

These lessons were taught by an anti-bullying group called Gender Spectrum and paid for by a $1,500 grant from the California Teachers Union. The course featured all-girl geckos and transgender clownfish.

The major message was that “gender identity” means people can choose to be different from the sex assigned at birth and can freely “change their sex.” According to Gender Spectrum, “Gender identity is a spectrum where people can be girls, feel like girls, they feel like boys, they feel like both, or they can feel like neither.”

Kindergartners were introduced to this new subject by asking them to identify toys that are a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” or both, and whether they like the color pink. They were read a story called “My Princess Boy.”

Fourth-graders were told that if someone were born with male “private parts” but identified more with being a girl, he should be “accepted” and “respected.” They were taught “gender fluidity,” which means a boy might be a boy one day and a girl the next.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Closest Habitable Planet 20 Light Years Away

(AGI) London — The first planet almost inhabitable with liguid water has been discovered 20 light years from Earth and astronomers belief is is almost as inhabitable as earth. The planet is called Gliese 581d and orbits around a red dward star. Gliese appears to be a lucky planet situated on the edge of the so-calle ‘Goldilocks zone’ or Green Belt of space where condisitions favour the presence of life. A study published by the Astrophysical Journals Letters reports that this planet has a mass six times that of Earth and is double it’s size .

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

Sociologist: Every 5 Minutes a Christian is Martyred

Speaks of Emergency in Religious Discrimination

ROME, JUNE 3, 2011 ( A sociologist representing a European security organization says that the number of Christians killed each year for their faith is so high that it calculates to one martyr’s life being taken every five minutes.

Massimo Introvigne of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported this data at a conference on Christian-Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, which concluded today in Hungary. The conference was sponsored by the Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union, and included a variety of high-level representatives from the three monotheistic religions, as well as political and social leaders.

Introvigne reported that Christians killed every year for their faith number 105,000, and that number includes only those put to death simply because they are Christians. It does not count the victims of civil or international wars.

“If these numbers are not cried out to the world, if this slaughter is not stopped, if it is not acknowledged that the persecution of Christians is the first worldwide emergency in the matter of violence and religious discrimination, the dialogue between religions will only produce beautiful conferences but no concrete results,” he stated.

Egyptian diplomat Aly Mahmoud said that in his country laws have been passed that will protect Christian minorities, for example, prosecuting those who give speeches that incite hatred and banning hostile crowds outside churches.

“However, the danger is that many Christian communities in the Middle East will die from emigration, because all Christians, feeling threatened, will flee,” he said.

The diplomat suggested Europe prepare for “a new wave of emigration, this time from Christians fleeing the persecutions.”

For his part, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, chairman for the Russian Orthodox patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations, reminded that “at least 1 million” Christian victims of persecutions are children.

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