Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110618

Financial Crisis
»Italy: 2.4 Billion Euros of Broadcast Spectrum at Risk
»Liberal Twisted Logic Why Gas is Expensive
»Playing With Fire: IMF Chief Warns Failure to Get Grip on Greek Crisis Threatens Global Economy
»Senator: Obama Lizard Agenda Undercutting Economy
»Thousands of Protesters in Front of Greek Parliament
»$1.5 Million Food-Stamp Fraud Scheme Gets O’Fallon Man Two Years
»Court Order Allows Christian Leaflets at Arab Fest
»‘Gunwalker’ Much Worse Than ‘Iran-Contra’
»Obama Not Subject to Charges of Treason?
»Panetta Report 3: Leon Panetta and the Santa Cruz Socialists
»Shariah Law is a Muslim Killer — Now They Want to Use it on us
»Tensions High as Protestors Arrive at Dearborn Arab International Festival
»Weiner’s Mother-in-Law a Member of Muslim Brotherhood
Europe and the EU
»Austrian National Arrested for Planning Bundestag Attack
»Germany: Facebook-Posted Party Turns Into Riot
»Germany: Koch-Mehrin Keeps European Parliament Seat Despite Plagiarism
»Italy: Female Soldier Among 11 Arrested in Anti-Mafia Operation
»Pope Says Institutions Should Help Roma’s Integration
»Spain: Murder in Fuengirola
»Sweden: Malmö Police Station Attacked by Gunfire
»UK: Christians Are More Militant Than Muslims, Says Government’s Equalities Boss
»UN ‘Greatly Concerned’ At Dutch Foreign Policy Shift: NRC
»Wife of Congo Diplomat Arrested for Alleged Cigarette Smuggling
North Africa
»Egypt: Mubarak Associate Arrested in Spain
»Italy Wants Libyan Campaign Boosted to Avoid ‘Quagmire’
»Italy Should Reconsider Libya Mission, Says League
»Italy: Interior Ministry Reports 78 Migrants Deported This Week
»Obama Ignored Pentagon Lawyers’ Opinion on Libya
»Tunisia: Ben Ali’s Assets in Switzerland Total 45 Mln
Israel and the Palestinians
»Jerusalem Mayor Dreams of Beach, Rabbis Outraged
Middle East
»London Asks Britons to Leave Syria “Immediately”
»Two Iranian Doctors Accused of Conspiracy Awarded Prize for HIV Treatment
»Ukraine’s Interests in Moldova & Pridnestrovie
»Ukraine: Tycoon’s Mysterious Death and an Internet Bride Battling His Family Over £1.5m Fortune
South Asia
»India: Karnataka: Three Christians Arrested on False Charges of Forced Conversions
»Qaeda Woes Fuel Talk of Speeding Afghan Pullback
»Shamed BBC Could Lose Prestigious TV Award Over ‘Faked Footage of Child Labour’ In Primark Panorama Expose
Far East
»U.S. Soldiers Are Targets in Chinese Training Game
Latin America
»Italy Takes First Step to Reverse Battisti Decision
»HRC Adopts Resolution on Migrants and Asylum Seekers Fleeing North Africa; Calls for Inquiry Into Allegations of Failures to Rescue Boats in Distress
»More Refugees Arrive in Sicily, Escorted by a Maltese Patrol Boat
Culture Wars
»Gay Lover Kidnaps Groom Before Wedding in China
»UK: Royal Ascot Fight: Death of Civility and Rise of the Vulgarians

Financial Crisis

Italy: 2.4 Billion Euros of Broadcast Spectrum at Risk

Rome, 14 June (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italy, trying to cut its deficit, may be thwarted in a bid to raise 2.4 billion euros by auctioning frequencies as broadcasters and phone companies resist the “chaotic” sale.

Local television channels, who occupy most of the frequencies to be sold, say they may refuse to free the spectrum if the government doesn’t offer higher compensation. Mobile- phone operators, the likely buyers, say the frequencies aren’t worth the price if the broadcasters don’t allow immediate access.

The Italian auction has been handled in “a quite chaotic way,” Tommaso Valletti, a professor of economics at London’s Imperial College, said in an interview. “There’s been a bit of the ‘Wild West’ in the Italian frequency sector. It won’t be easy to disentangle.”

The broadcasters’ resistance may hamper the country’s deficit-cutting plans and expansion ambitions by mobile-phone operators. Italy, whose credit-rating outlook was lowered on May 21 to negative from stable by Standard & Poor’s, included the expected auction proceeds in its 2011 budget. Operators such as Telecom Italia and Vodafone Group need bandwidth to meet surging data demand as clients use smartphones to watch films and surf the Web.

The broadcasters have been allocated 10 percent of the proceeds as compensation for freeing spectrum, according to government plans.

The compensation the government is offering local TV networks “isn’t fair,” said Filippo Rebecchini, chairman of Italy’s Radio Television Association. The government would need to double its offer to potentially convince the more-than 100 broadcasters his group represents to vacate their frequencies, he said.

Rebecchini said that without an accord the frequencies won’t be free in time for the auction. “First they should free up the spectrum, then sell it,” he said. “You can get a lot more for a vacant house than for one with a tenant.”

A government official declined to comment on whether the authorities may change the design and procedure of the auction.

The dispute comes as operators are seeking access to the valuable 800 megahertz band that can travel long distances with fewer expensive base stations. The frequencies can also be used for faster fourth-generation wireless services based on so- called long-term evolution technology, or LTE.

Phone operators aren’t prepared to pay high prices for frequencies if access isn’t guaranteed, Telecom Italia chairman Franco Bernabe said at a hearing in parliament in April. Uncertainties “may make it difficult for the government to raise the 2.4 billion euros,” he said.

At a separate hearing the same month, Vodafone Italia CEO Paolo Bertoluzzo also said prices will have to come down if the access issue isn’t resolved. The value of the frequencies “is lower if they aren’t free,” he said.

Italy is not the only European country struggling to make new frequencies available.

A spectrum auction in the UK has been delayed for more than two years amid legal challenges, as Vodafone and Telefonica SA’s O2 unit opposed restrictions on the amount of low-frequency spectrum they could bid for. The frequencies set to go on sale in the first quarter of 2012 may raise as much as 2.6 billion pounds.

Spectrum sales are also scheduled in France, Spain and Switzerland this year.

The Italian government “wants the money first, and that’s the big issue between the telecom operators and the government,” Enzo Savarese, commissioner of Italian communications regulator Agcom, said in an interview, adding that he expects the auction process to begin in September. “The operator would like to have the frequencies at the same time or at least pay in installments.”

The government hasn’t set a timeline for the auction yet. Agcom may address the auction at its annual meeting in Rome today.

Standard & Poor’s cited slowing economic growth and “diminished” prospects for reducing government debt that reached almost 120 percent of gross domestic product last year when it lowered Italy’s credit outlook in May. Italy’s Treasury said after the rating report that it will “intensify” structural changes to the economy and push ahead with measures following a deficit of 4.6 percent of GDP last year.

Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said 9 June that he plans an additional 3 billion euros in deficit-reduction measures this year to meet a goal of reducing Italy’s shortfall to 4 percent of gross domestic product.

Italy’s 0.1 percent growth in the first quarter lagged behind the euro region as a whole and its two biggest economies. The German economy expanded 1.5 percent and French GDP grew 1 percent, while the 17-member region’s economy expanded 0.8 percent.

“The government has already included these proceeds in the 2011 to 2013 budget law,” said Chiara Corsa, an economist at UniCredit Bank in Milan. “Failing to raise these funds would certainly force the government to find the money elsewhere.”

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

Liberal Twisted Logic Why Gas is Expensive

Liberalism is a mental disorder. This faux journalism is media bias and gross dereliction of duty.

Recently, two Washington Post writers, in a half-page spread resplendent with meaningless pie charts and graphs that even a high school student would laugh off, failed miserably to explain, “Why we feel pain at the pump.”

The two “progressive thinkers” stated that the perception that gas prices are soaring must be misleading because gas prices have soared before. Yes, we are feeling the pain, 71% of us, according to their poll, but the portion of income spent on gas is “relatively small.” I am not sure about you, but spending $500 per month to fill up my gas tank is not an insignificant percentage of the average middle class family’s disposable income; it may represent a car payment, a mortgage payment for some, and the food budget for the month, or the prescription bill.

Lutz Kilian, a quoted economics professor at the University of Michigan, apparently believes that “results do not provide any reason for panic.” If I have to choose between food and fuel for my car to go to work, it is time to panic.


The suffering of the population from increased prices on all goods and services due to higher energy prices is not important to liberals as long as Obama is painted in a positive light. It is not about the American people, our country, and the economy, it is always about Obama.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Playing With Fire: IMF Chief Warns Failure to Get Grip on Greek Crisis Threatens Global Economy

Desperate international efforts to save Greece from bankruptcy were under way last night as fears grew that the country’s economic crisis threatened the ‘whole world economy’.

Experts said it appeared to be a question of if, not when, Greece defaults on its massive debts, sending shockwaves across Europe.

Bank losses across the Continent would be enormous, and there is mounting concern that Portugal and Ireland would then be hit by a ‘domino effect’ as international markets turned on other debt-laden nations.

Some economists believe the euro could disintegrate as a single currency, causing unprecedented turmoil.

Last night the International Monetary Fund issued an extraordinary warning to debt-laden nations, warning them they were ‘playing with fire’ unless they took immediate steps to reduce their budget deficits.

The IMF said a lack of political leadership in dealing with the debt crisis in countries including the United States could create major financial volatility in coming months.

Jose Vinals, director of the IMF’s monetary and capital markets department, said: ‘You cannot afford to have a world economy where these important decisions are postponed because you’re really playing with fire.

‘We have now entered very clearly into a new phase which is, I would say, the political phase of the crisis.’

Another giant bailout for Greece appears inevitable to try to stave off disaster, though there are doubts about whether the country is sufficiently politically stable to agree to austerity measures attached to it.

Germany and France set aside differences over how to respond, insisting last night that a new rescue package for Greece must be agreed as soon as possible.

In a sign of the increasing degree of international concern, and China’s emergence as the coming economic superpower, Beijing weighed in with a promise of help.

It said it had a vital interest in countries across Europe overcoming their debt woes and was increasing its holdings of euro debt, but gave no figures or timeframe.

‘Whether the European economy can recover and whether some European economies can overcome their hardships and escape crisis is vitally important for us,’ vice foreign minister Fu Ying said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy held emergency talks in Berlin after a public dispute over whether private investors, rather than taxpayers, should be forced to assume a greater burden to resolve the crisis.

‘There is no time to lose,’ Mr Sarkozy told reporters with Mrs Merkel at his side.

France’s banks are particularly exposed to Greek debt and Mr Sarkozy is warning that the row threatens the future of the euro.

Britain is resisting attempts to be drawn into having to stump up more cash towards a Greek rescue package through a European bailout mechanism.

Chancellor George Osborne insists eurozone countries must shoulder the burden.

The UK was not involved in an original bailout for Greece last year, which was funded via bilateral loans within the single currency area.

But European Central Bank officials have warned the EU bailout fund could have to double to 1.5trillion euros, equal to more than £1.1trillion.

Lord Lamont, chancellor under Margaret Thatcher, said: ‘Make no mistake about it, this is a threat to the whole world economy.

Allister Heath, editor of the City AM newspaper, said ‘a Greek tragedy would all too soon become a British one’.

Analysts expected as much as three-quarters of Greek debt to have to be written off, wiping out most Greek financial institutions and costing European banks £100billion.

‘Britain is especially vulnerable because London remains at the heart of Europe’s financial networks, the nerve centre for the management and allocation of capital across the continent,’ Mr Heath added.

This could be another Lehman momentThe difference in opinions over the Greek debt crisis between Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy may well be explained by the fact the French banking system is at more immediate risk from any meltdown than its German counterpart.

France is the most exposed of any developed country to Greece reneging on its huge debts.

The French are sitting on a £35billion exposure compared with £21billion for Germany, according to the Bank for International Settlements.

UK banks have a relatively small exposure of around £9billion.

While the Germans wanted creditors to accept some write-offs on their lending to Greece, the French were reluctant — understandably so given the threat that would pose to their banking system.

The three top banks in France — BNP Paribas, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole — have already been warned they face a downgrade by credit rating agency Moody’s.

The Greek economy is relatively small and in itself would not be enough to bring down eurozone banks.

But, as economists point out, the turmoil in Athens could be another ‘Lehman moment’, threatening the entire banking system in Europe and beyond because of the possibility of contagion in other weaker euroland nations such as Ireland, Portugal and Spain.

Rating agencies and the European Central Bank have both warned any sort of debt default by Greece is likely to send panic through the international money markets and push up borrowing costs for these countries.

German and French banks have lent hundreds of billions of pounds to smaller members of the single currency so, if not contained, the Greek tragedy could be only the beginning.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Senator: Obama Lizard Agenda Undercutting Economy

Says proposed protections for reptile could disrupt Texas oil patch

A small brown spiny striped lizard is causing a Texas sized controversy for those concerned about how conservation efforts could damage the economy. And now there are accusations that protections proposed by the Obama administration are being pursued to undercut the economy in the Republican-dominated state.

The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard is a proposed candidate for the Endangered Species List by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. If added, the lizard and its habitat would be protected by government regulation, raising concerns about interference with thriving Texan industries such as oil, gas and ranching.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Thousands of Protesters in Front of Greek Parliament

(AGI) Athens- Despite the cabinet reshuffle, protests are still underway in Greece against the government’s austerity measures.

The Papandreou-led government imposed said measures in order to escape default. Thousands of protesters continued to rally in front of the Parliament. The Prime Minister tried to defuse dissent within his Socialist party by substituting the Finance Minister, George Papaconstantinou, who drafted the 5-year ‘blood and tears’ program which triggered the protests, with Venizelos. The reshuffle came at the same time as France and Germany’s decision to continue to bankroll Athens, in a move which will afford Greece and the Eurozone countries some breathing space so as to avoid bankruptcy, even though doubts regarding long-term debt solvency have not been resolved.

Reforms are the condition the EU and IMF have set for the new aid package worth some 120bln euros. Greece will need the entire sum to fund itself until 2014.

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


$1.5 Million Food-Stamp Fraud Scheme Gets O’Fallon Man Two Years

An O’Fallon man who managed a Washington Park convenience store will serve two years and nine months in prison for a food-stamps-for-cash scam that cost the government $1.5 million.

Rami Mohammad, 33, a Jordanian citizen who entered the United States in 2004, received the sentence Thursday in federal court in East St. Louis. Mohammad was the manager of the Quick Stop store in Washington Park.

After receiving reports about the store being involved in food-stamp fraud, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General began an undercover investigation.

The investigation showed that people were going into the store and conducting transactions with food stamps — which involves the use of a card similar to a credit card or debit card, rather than actual paper stamps — but the customers weren’t carrying any groceries when they exited the store.

Mohammad told agents he was accepting prepayment for items that he had to specially order. But he was caught on audio and video engaging in a cash-back scheme in which Mohammad took the value from people’s food-stamp cards and gave them smaller amounts of cash in return.

Steve Wigginton, U.S. attorney for the southern district of Illinois, said the food-stamp program was defrauded of more than $1.5 million.

“The theft of government funds, in any form, through any scheme, by any person, will not be tolerated.” Wigginton said.

The court also ordered Mohammad to pay restitution, though it was unclear whether he’ll be able to make any repayment. In addition, the court informed Mohammad that he’ll likely be deported after he finishes his sentence.

Mohammad’s wife testified at his sentencing Thursday, saying she doesn’t want him to be deported because health care isn’t as good in Jordan as it is in the United States, and their children would have to go to inferior schools in Jordan.

The investigation involved the use of an undercover agent and confidential informants. One informant, for example, was given $110 in cash from Mohammad in exchange for all of the credit remaining on her food stamp card, $206.21. On another day, she was given $165 in cash for the balance on her card, $317.10.

On one day, the informant was given $450 in cash in exchange for $738 from an Illinois Link card and $248 from a Missouri food stamp card.

           — Hat tip: RRW[Return to headlines]

Court Order Allows Christian Leaflets at Arab Fest

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — A Detroit federal judge has signed an order allowing Christian evangelists to work the sidewalks of a popular Arab-American festival in Dearborn.

The three-day festival starts Friday in the heavily Arab Detroit suburb. Christian activists led by a California pastor like to attend the festival to try to convert Muslims.

A federal appeals court in May said Dearborn couldn’t prohibit the evangelists from passing leaflets on sidewalks inside the festival boundaries. The court found that past restrictions violated free-speech rights.

Judge Paul Borman signed an order Tuesday reinforcing the decision by the appeals court. He says it applies to city officials, Dearborn police, festival organizers and the Wayne County sheriff’s office.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

‘Gunwalker’ Much Worse Than ‘Iran-Contra’

Pay attention to this era-defining event: The 2,000+ weapons are implicated in an estimated 150 shootings of Mexican officers and soldiers, two American officers, and an unknown number of civilians.

On December 14, 2010, a special unit of the U.S. Border Patrol came across a group of heavily armed suspects near Rio Rico, Arizona. The Border Patrol team identified themselves as law enforcement officers, at which point the armed men open fire. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was hit in the pelvis by a single bullet and died the next morning. One of the suspects was captured, and two AK-pattern semiautomatic rifles recovered at the scene were identified by serial number as weapons that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) — acting in concert with and with the blessing of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) — allowed weapons smugglers to purchase at U.S. gun shops. The weapons were just two of more than 2,000 firearms that ATF supervisors and the highest levels of DOJ management allowed to be “walked” across the border to narco-terrorist drug cartels in Mexico, in a scandal that promises to be more damning and deadly than Iran-Contra.

The ATF named their operation Fast and Furious, but it will go down in history by its more descriptive title: “Gunwalker.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Not Subject to Charges of Treason?

Obama begins immediate attacks against USA and We-the-People

Prior to his announced campaign for President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama was never vetted as to his eligibility to run for the office. Almost immediately after Barack Hussein Obama’s 2008 election to the most powerful position in the USA and, arguably the world, one of his first—if not the first—Executive fiats issued was that all of his prior records (school transcripts, passport information, his birth certificate etc) were to be sealed and summarily hidden from the American people and the world. Since that time, Obama has produced multiple “birth certificates” that have each been proven to be fraudulent, including the ostensible long-form birth certificate released 27 April 2011.

Almost immediately thereafter and within the first week of his ostensible presidency, Obama issued Executive Orders to fund foreign countries’ abortions, donate at least $20Millions to terrorist Hamas (under the guise of “Palestinian relief”) and began testing his ability to censor and/or end the First Amendment by order via another Executive Order to ban showing or posting the video of his retaking the Oath of Office. Along with myriad other mysteries, one has to ponder why this was a great concern to Obama.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Panetta Report 3: Leon Panetta and the Santa Cruz Socialists

It is now fairly well known that President Barack Obama enjoyed a close relationship with the socialists, Trotskyites and “former” communists, who made up the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America.

It is less well known that while a California Congressman, Obama’s Secretary of Defense nominee Leon Panetta also worked closely with Santa Cruz based members of the US’s largest Marxist organization.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Shariah Law is a Muslim Killer — Now They Want to Use it on us

H. R. 973: Prohibit foreign law from our U.S. Court system; protecting United States citizens, particularly women, from being tried under foreign law.

A (CAA) online report on June 12, 2011 stated that in March of this year of 2011, U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL) introduced H.R. 973, which would prohibit foreign law from our U.S. Court system; protecting United States citizens, particularly women, from being tried under foreign law. The United States Constitution would be the sole governing authority for all American courts and American citizens. She has only 56 co-sponsors. Why aren’t more Congressmen, and women, committing to this very important bill?

Every man and woman in America should be behind Rep. Adams’ bill, especially women, who would suffer most if Shariah Law makes its horrifying way into our court system.

CAA gave the following as an example of why we need this protection against Shariah Law: “In late May, four Muslim men were tried in London, England and were found guilty of a vicious attack against a local schoolmaster named Gary Smith, who was the head of religious studies at the Central Foundation Girls’ School, an academically prestigious school for girls ages 11 to 18. Mr. Smith’s head was smashed by a concrete block; his face was slashed by a knife; and his body was beaten by a metal rod. THIS IS WHAT SHARIAH LAW TEACHES…AND IT IS ALREADY HERE INSIDE THE U.S.A.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Tensions High as Protestors Arrive at Dearborn Arab International Festival

DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Arab International Festival attracts more than 300,000 people to Dearborn every year. This is the 16th year for the event that turned rowdy and at times dangerous when religious beliefs and protesters clashed.

The protesters waved signs plastered with sayings like ‘Islam is a religion of blood and murder’, many at the Arab International Festival saw hate.

“Talking dirty about the Koran. Dirty about Muslims,” said Mustafa Kahwaji.

They call themselves the bible believers—men and women assembled from all over the country.

Their posters and shouting caused the 16th annual festival to come to a standstill around 5:30 Friday night. Their organizer Ruben Israel comes from California.

“We’re here in Dearborn because they have issues with free speech,” said Ruben Israel.

He says the group was enraged about the four missionaries arrested last July at the Arab American Festival, for their shouting their own religious message. It was a protest that officials deemed disorderly.

“When you arrest men for passing out literature, you’re going to get guys like us,” said Israel.

Tensions mounted and people in the crowd of 40-50 thousand started throwing things.

I myself was hit during my live shot when a full water bottle whipped from the crowd. It was an angry message meant for a protester.

No one was arrested, but police removed disorderly people from the crowd and asked them to leave the festival.

“Why are you going to come to our city and disrespect us like that,” said on angry onlooker.

Barricades were provided in an effort to separate protesters from furious festival goers. But after three hours, organizers were ready to take them down.

“If this is how they are going to behave, then his has gone beyond free speech at this point,” said Ahmad Chebbani, Chairman of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce.

“Things are going to get real pushy on the sidewalk. And whatever happens, blood is on his shoulder,” said Israel.

Israel and his group agreed to leave at 9pm. But a half hour early, they voluntarily jumped in their unmarked vans. They were escorted out of the area by police and a mob of angry people.

The Bible Believers are going to Columbus Saturday to protest at a Pride Parade. They expect to come back to Dearborn on Sunday to again speak their message at the festival.

Organizers said most people apply for a permit to protest at their festivals. This group did not apply for a permit. But according to the law, a permit is not needed because they are in a free speech zone.

           — Hat tip: RE[Return to headlines]

Weiner’s Mother-in-Law a Member of Muslim Brotherhood

Tasked with advancing movement that aims to establish Saudi-style regime in U.S.

The mother-in-law of disgraced Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia, according to Arabic news sources cited by a former Palestinian Liberation Organization operative.

Walid Shoebat, an ex-Muslim Brotherhood activist in the Holy Land, translated sources that say Huma Abedin’s mother, Saleha Mahmoud Abedin, a professor of sociology in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, belongs to the Sunni movement’s women’s division known at the Muslim Sisterhood.

One of the Sisterhoods aims, reportedly, is “to spread the Brotherhood’s ideology by infiltrating universities, schools and homes.”


Shoebat also noted that it has been reported in Arab media that Huma Abedin’s brother, Hassan, is a fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies at Oxford University in England.

A number of Muslim Brotherhood members sit on the center’s board, including Qatari cleric Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has incited violence against Jews and Israel.

Ahlert said Huma’s brother has been a key to furthering the Islamic agenda in the West.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austrian National Arrested for Planning Bundestag Attack

(AGI) Vienna- An Austrian national was arrested in Vienna and charged with terrorism. Detectives believe he was planning to crash a plane into the Bundestag, German parliament headquarters in Berlin. The suspect, 25-year-old Thomas al-J., is a young man who has converted to Islam. He was arrested Wednesday in his apartment in the Austrian capital and has also been accused of recruiting terrorists in order to send them to jihad training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and of funding terrorist organizations. The Bundestag hypothesis was published in Austrian newspaper ‘Kronen Zeitung’.

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

Germany: Facebook-Posted Party Turns Into Riot

A huge party in the western town of Wuppertal organized anonymously via Facebook resulted in a riot on Friday night, leaving 16 people injured and three charged with public order offences.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Koch-Mehrin Keeps European Parliament Seat Despite Plagiarism

Free Democrat politician Silvana Koch-Mehrin, who was stripped of her doctorate after it was found that she plagiarized parts of her thesis, will keep her mandate in the European Parliament, it was reported on Saturday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Female Soldier Among 11 Arrested in Anti-Mafia Operation

Naples, 14 June (AKI) — A 25-year-old woman soldier was among 11 people arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of association with the Naples mafia or Camorra, police said.

The soldier, named as Laura Titta, from Naples, was arrested by at her military barracks in Ascoli Piceno in the central Marche region where she was recently stationed.

She allegedly worked as driver for fugitive members of the Camorra’s powerful Casalesi clan around and delivered meals to their hideouts.

Titta and the other 10 people arrested face charges of abetting Casalesi boss and most-wanted fugitive Giuseppe Setola prior to arrest in 2008 as well as other Camorra fugitives.

Setola, the Casalesi clan’s former boss in the Campania cityof Caserta, allegedly ordered a string of murders, including the massacre of six African immigrants in a drive-by shooting in September, 2008 in Castelvolturno, some 25 kilometres northwest of Naples.

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

Pope Says Institutions Should Help Roma’s Integration

(AGI) Vatican City — The Pope said that “ gipsy peoples have enriched Europe thanks to their significative cultural expressions such music and songs and new opportunities have now opened up for them”. This is what he said during a speech before some Roma communities that he welcomed today in the Nervi room of the Vatican Palace. He addressed the gipsies by saying: “You are gaining a new awareness. Many ethnic groups are no longer nomadic, but they are trying to find stability with new expectations about life. The Church is walking hand in hand with you and invite you to live according to the strict requirements of the Gospel and to rely fully on Christ and his force in order to aim to a better future. Europe is now offering you new opportunities by removing its fronteers and considening peoples’ and cultural diversity an asset. He was very clear when he said that “institutions should help you adequately along this path”.

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

Spain: Murder in Fuengirola

A 20-year-old Swedish woman was murdered on the night between Friday and Saturday, in the Spanish city Fuengirola. Another woman has been injured. According to Spanish newspaper Diario Sur, the police have arrested a 30 year-old man, suspected of the murder. The man is reported to be a Spanish resident, and was staying at the same hotel as the Swedish women when the crime occurred. Several Spanish newspapers have reported that the suspect broke into their hotel room, tried to molest them sexually, and then attacked them with a large kitchen knife when the women attempted to stop him.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Malmö Police Station Attacked by Gunfire

The police station in Malmö district Rosengård, in the south of Sweden, was fired upon early Saturday morning.

“At 4:29 a.m. police on location alerted us about the gunshots,” Hanna Berndtsson, Skåne police information officer, told the TT news agency.

No one was physically injured by the shooting.

“There were police officers on the second floor of the building, but the shots were fired towards the first floor, so there were no injuries.”

Security at the police station has now been tightened, and a forensic investigation squad is on location to find out what happened.

Thus far the forensic investigation has revealed that live ammunition was used in the shooting, and therefore an attempted murder probe has been initiated, according to the Malmö police force.

At this moment the police have no information about the type of weapon used, or the reason for the shooting.

“We don’t know the origins of all this yet,” said Hanna Berndtsson.

Rosengård, centrally located in Malmö, is an area commonly associated with social difficulties, and has been the place of several riots and clashes between local youths and authorities in recent years.

           — Hat tip: Freedom Fighter[Return to headlines]

UK: Christians Are More Militant Than Muslims, Says Government’s Equalities Boss

Muslims are integrating into British society better than many Christians, according to the head of the Government’s equality watchdog.


In contrast, Muslims are less vociferous because they are trying to integrate into British “liberal democracy”, he said.

“I think there’s an awful lot of noise about the Church being persecuted but there is a more real issue that the conventional churches face that the people who are really driving their revival and success believe in an old time religion which in my view is incompatible with a modern, multi-ethnic, multicultural society,” Phillips said.

“Muslim communities in this country are doing their damnedest to try to come to terms with their neighbours to try to integrate and they’re doing their best to try to develop an idea of Islam that is compatible with living in a modern liberal democracy.

“The most likely victim of actual religious discrimination in British society is a Muslim but the person who is most likely to feel slighted because of their religion is an evangelical Christian.”

Senior clergy, including Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, have attacked equality laws for eroding Christianity and stifling free speech, but Phillips said many of the legal cases brought by Christians on issues surrounding homosexuality were motivated by an attempt to gain political influence.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UN ‘Greatly Concerned’ At Dutch Foreign Policy Shift: NRC

The United Nations is ‘greatly concerned’ about Dutch foreign policy, the NRC reports on Thursday, quoting the head of the UN’s environmental programme.

UNEP chief Achim Steiner says in an interview that the Netherlands is withdrawing from the international arena.

‘The Netherlands was one of the 10 countries which had a pioneering role in the battle to control climate change,’ he told the paper. ‘But we at the UNEP and within the UN as a whole, are greatly concerned that the Netherlands is letting go of its international role.’

Steiner is in the Netherlands to meet politicians, business leaders and crown prince Willem-Alexander.

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


Wife of Congo Diplomat Arrested for Alleged Cigarette Smuggling

Belgrade, 14 June (AKI) — The wife of a Democratic Republic of Congo diplomat, accredited to Belgrade, has been arrested at Serbia’s border with Romania on suspicion of cigarette smuggling, Belgrade media reported Tuesday.

Quoting Romanian prosecutors, the media said that Esther Pascaline Bombeto was arrested by Romanian police at the Moravitza border crossing after getting through Serbian border controls.

Romanian organised crime prosecutor Mircea Andres was quoted as saying that Bombeto, whose husband is an aide in the DR Congo’s embassy in Belgrade, claimed diplomatic immunity and police had to smash windows in order to search her automobile.

Bombeto’s driver, a Serbian national, and two other Serbian nationals who were escorting her in another car, were also arrested, Mircea said. The police discovered 18,500 packs of Albanian-made cigarettes hidden in the automobile.

Mircea said Bombeto has been under surveillance for several months.

“Using diplomatic immunity, the smugglers were bringing cigarettes to Romania at least twice a week,” he added.

The DR Congo embassy in Belgrade refused to comment on the case, saying it was waiting for an official report from the Serbian foreign ministry.

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

North Africa

Egypt: Mubarak Associate Arrested in Spain

Madrid, 17 June (AKI) — A close associate of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been arrested at his home on the Spanish island of Mallorca, according to news reports.

Spanish police on Thursday arrested Hussein Salem, an Egyptian businessman, on an international arrest warrant stemming from charges on suspicion of corruption and bribing Mubarak and his family. He is also accused of squandering public finances.

Salem, 77, fled Egypt a week before Mubarak was forced to resign on 11 February following 18 days of demonstrations, according to the Associated Press.

He is one of Egypt’s wealthiest businessmen and is suspected of using his links to Mubarak to acquire riches.

The head of Egypt’s Interpol office, Brigadier General Magdy el-Shafei, was cited by news agencies as saying that authorities were preparing the necessary extradition documents to return Salem to Egypt.

In the meantime Spanish police have placed him under house arrest.

Egyptian authorities say that Salem is a trove of information about corruption by the Mubarak family.

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

Italy Wants Libyan Campaign Boosted to Avoid ‘Quagmire’

Berlusconi hopes Gaddafi can be toppled soon

(ANSA) — Rome, June 16 — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday that the NATO-led campaign to support rebels against Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year rule in Libya should be stepped up to avert the danger of the allies getting bogged down in the conflict.

“We joined the group of the willing… we are there and we are following the situation, which we do not want to transform into a quagmire,” Berlusconi said.

“We hope the situation can finish soon with the end of the current regime and we are in favour of an intensification of operations to achieve this outcome”. Berlusconi would like to see signs that the conflict is ending, with the Northern League, his People of Freedom (PdL) party’s key partner in government, pressing for Italy’s involvement to be reconsidered. “The United States House of Representatives rejected (President Barack) Obama’s request for more funding for the offensive in Libya,” Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said Wednesday. “The Italian government and other European governments should do the same and put money into developing democracy, not bombs”.

Some League officials, who were against Italy joining the campaigns from the outset, have said they want the nation’s military missions abroad scaled down to finance tax cuts and boost the government’s popularity after some big electoral setbacks.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Should Reconsider Libya Mission, Says League

Berlusconi’s allies want tax cuts to revive govt popularity

(ANSA) — Rome, June 15 — The Northern League, the key partner of Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party in government, has suggested Italy should reconsider its involvement in the NATO-led Libya mission.

The League is pressing for tax cuts to boost the government’s popularity after some big electoral setbacks, including defeat this week in a referendum on plans to revive Italy’s nuclear programme. “Yesterday the United States House of Representatives rejected (President Barack) Obama’s request for more funding for the offensive in Libya,” Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said Wednesday. “The Italian government and other European governments should do the same and put money into developing democracy, not bombs”.

The League, who were against the mission to support rebels against Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year rule in Libya from the outset, blame the PdL for the recent setbacks, which included defeat to a leftwing candidate in the contest to be mayor of Milan.

As well as calling for tax cuts, they have also asked for two ministries be moved from Rome to Milan.

Many political pundits believe the regionalist party is ready to withdraw its support from the government if its demands are not met, a move likely to lead to early elections. Berlusconi, who is fighting four criminal trials in Milan including one regarding allegations he paid for sex with an underage prostitute, is struggling to keep the government afloat with a slender majority in parliament and divisions within the PdL.

Opposition leaders have demanded Berlusconi step down. But the 74-year-old premier has said he intends to stay in power until the end of the current parliamentary term in 2013.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Interior Ministry Reports 78 Migrants Deported This Week

(AGI) Rome — The interior ministry reports that 78 migrants, mainly Tunisians, Egyptians and Algerians, have been deported this week.

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

Obama Ignored Pentagon Lawyers’ Opinion on Libya

(AGI) New York — On deciding the participation of the US in the war in Libya, Obama rejected legal opinions. The opinions were those of the best lawyers of the Pentagon and of the Department of Justice. The news was disclosed by the New York Times, quoting sources “knowledgeable” of the “debates inside the Administration”. According to the newspaper, Jeh C. Johnson, Counsel General of the Defense Department, and Caroline D.Krass, in charge of the legal office of the Department of Justice, had told the White House that the intervention amounted to “hostility”.

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

Tunisia: Ben Ali’s Assets in Switzerland Total 45 Mln

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 9 — The assets accumulated by former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Switzerland total about the equivalent of 45 million euros and the Tunisia government is now trying to regain possession of them. TAP reports that the money is held both in nominative accounts and in numbered ones under the name of companies of convenience or names which can be traced back to the former president or members of his family’s clan. In order to look into how to bring the assets back to Tunisia, which were accumulated in over twenty years of dictatorship under Ben Ali and his family, the provisional Tunisian prime minister Beji Caid Essebsi chaired a technical meeting which saw participation by Sami Remadi, chairman of the Tunisian Association for Financial Transparency, which works alongside the Justice Ministry, according to whom it is necessary to set up a pressure group to convince Swiss banks to collaborate.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Jerusalem Mayor Dreams of Beach, Rabbis Outraged

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, JUNE 17 — Jealous of Tel Aviv and its seafront, the Mayor of Jerusalem (a city that sits in a mountainous area at an elevation of about 1000m) is planning to offer the residents a “beach” this summer, where people can relax over the weekend, sunbathe and listen to music. The idea — reports orthodox website ‘Be-hadrey Haredim — is to dump 80 tonnes of sand near the wall of the Old City at the end of July, and to make beach chairs and umbrellas available to residents. According to the website, rabbis in the city immediately were against the idea, fearing that when they go to pray at the Wailing Wall they will be forced to see scantily-clad women.

“Mayor Nir Barkat must be insane, he has to stop copying Tel Aviv”, said an Orthodox city council member. Other religious officials have threatened to combat the initiative with a powerful and ‘muscular’ opposition. The City Hall has replied by saying that Jerusalem seeks to be an open city and this initiative, like similar ones, “serves to give a boost” to the city’s secular residents.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

London Asks Britons to Leave Syria “Immediately”

(AGI) London — The Foreign Office announced that the deterioration of the situation in Syria urged the British government to ask its nationals to leave the country “immediately”.

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

Two Iranian Doctors Accused of Conspiracy Awarded Prize for HIV Treatment

Kamiar and Arash Alaei were arrested in June 2008 for an alleged plot aimed at overthrowing the regime. The eldest is still in prison. They are authors of a care program for people with HIV used globally.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Two Iranian doctors imprisoned on charges of plotting to overthrow the government have received an award for their work in caring for people with HIV. Kamiar and Arash Alaei were arrested in June 2008, accused of communicating with the United States to overthrow the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. One of two brothers, released this year, was able to receive the award in Washington. Kamiar Alaei, 37, said he had never dealt in politics.

The project for which the brothers were honored began in a small clinic, but had such a success that it has been replicated nationally and even in neighboring countries, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. “It was beyond borders really and the programme became part of the national strategic plan. When it was part of a national strategy all we did was part of the strategy and we never went into politics or other [things]”said Kamiar Alei.

The brothers began to treat patients with HIV in the late 90s, and developed a three-step program that integrated prevention, care and social support. Kamiar Alaei said that the demographic situation in Iran, a country where 70% of the population is under 30, means that many are at risk of HIV / AIDS. “About 50% of the population — they say — is between 17 and 21 years of age. So we have a very large number of people who are at risk of sexually transmitted infections and other HIV-related risk factors.”

Kamiar’s older brother, Arash, 42, remains in prison (Evin) in Tehran where he is serving a sentence of six years imprisonment. The brothers were awarded the Jonathan Mann Prize for global health and human rights. Kamiar, which was initially locked up in solitary confinement, said he will not feel free until her brother out of prison. “I do not feel I have been released yet. Many nights I dream of returning to prison, and it seems to me that I continue my life in prison. “

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


Ukraine’s Interests in Moldova & Pridnestrovie

by Srdja Trifkovic

(Dr. Trifkovic’s keynote address at the AIU Round Table in Kiev on June 14, 2011)

An American looking at the map of Pridnestrovie could be forgiven for assuming that it is an island or a peninsula — a rugged-edged Baja California lookalike, perhaps — rather than a landlocked aspiring country. Its unnatural shape reflects the unnatural circumstances attendant to its birth.

By any political, geographic, economic, historical, ethnic and cultural criteria, the natural border between Ukraine and Moldova is the Dniestr. The fact that a narrow strip on its left bank was carved out of Ukraine in 1924 and turned into an artificial construct, known between the wars as the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, was a Bolshevik geopolitical ploy aimed at spreading revolution to Romania or at least staking an irredentist claim to Bessarabia.1 Years later, by pretending that there is a “Moldavia” in the USSR, Stalin could also pretend that he had a valid claim to rescue “the rest” of Moldavia — i.e. Moldova itself — from the clutches of the post-Versailles Greater Romania, built in the vacuum created by the collapse of the two neighboring empires.

Stalin and his cohorts are dead but we are still stuck with their legacy in the form of arbitrarily drawn boundaries. For reasons never fully explained, those borders are still regarded as inviolable and effectively sacrosanct — in the former Yugoslavia and in the former USSR alike — even though the manner of their creation lacked both legality and legitimacy.2 It is noteworthy that, as far as the “International Community” (i.e. the United States and its clients) is concerned, the communist-era internal boundaries — which were turned into international frontiers twenty years ago — are the only legacy of those two states worth preserving and upholding.

That not all borders are created equal, however, is apparent in the treatment of Pridnestrovan quest for self-rule and Romanian irredentism by the decision-makers in Washington and Brussels. To Pridnestrovie, the answer has always been and still is a ringing “No!” accompanied by renewed insistence on Moldova’s territorial integrity. On the other hand, similar Western condemnation of Romania’s often repeated aspiration to absorb Moldova has been conspicuous by its absence.3 This has encouraged the Romanian elite consensus that Moldovans east of the Prut are Romanians, plain and simple, and that Moldova should be eventually “reunited” with Romania on the basis of its people’s right to self-determination. The policy of Bucharest has been developing accordingly, in coordination with the proponents of the Greater Romanian concept in Moldova itself. That policy represents a sustained security challenge to Ukraine and requires an appropriate response.

UKRAINE’S INTEREST, in the context of this challenge, appears to be the maintenance of an open-ended status quo in preference to any outcome that would force Pridnestrovie to submit to Moldova’s rule — and thus, by implication, threaten Romania’s eventual expansion to the eastern bank of the Dniepr. In practice, however, an enduring settlement is needed in order to bring about long-term political stability to the region and thus create conditions for the unleashing of its considerable economic potential, primarily in agriculture but also in other fields.

Kiev should take a proactive role in the quest for such a settlement, in contrast to its previous passivity on this issue…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

Ukraine: Tycoon’s Mysterious Death and an Internet Bride Battling His Family Over £1.5m Fortune

A millionaire British businessman is feared to have been the victim of a ‘contract killing’ on the night he celebrated his first wedding anniversary with his internet bride.

Barry Pring, 47, was hit by a car doing 80mph as he waited for a cab on the hard shoulder of a deserted dual-carriageway in Ukraine.

The car’s lights were switched off at the time of impact and debris at the scene included a false number plate and a bogus taxi sign.

Initially the case was treated as a ‘hit and run accident’ but police are now investigating the theory that Mr Pring was deliberately targeted. And senior police sources in Ukraine told the Daily Mail that the case is close to being upgraded to a murder inquiry.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Karnataka: Three Christians Arrested on False Charges of Forced Conversions

The men were donating clothes, food and shelter to 70 lepers. Twenty Hindu activists stormed the premises and called the police who took the men away without listening to them or the sick. Sajan K George (Global Council of Indian Christians): “Yet another stain on the history of India, the state must guarantee the safety of the Christian minority.”

Bangalore (AsiaNews) — Hennur police have arrested three men on false charges of forced conversions in Karnataka, reported by 20 Hindu activists. According to police, the men brought about 70 lepers from Dharmapuri (Tamil Nadu) to Bangalore. The Deputy Commissioner N Narasimhaiah said: “The three Christians offered food, clothing, shelter to the sick, before teaching them certain prayers and other Christian religious rites.” For Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), it is “yet another stain on the history of secular India.” The GCIC has petitioned the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Department for Social Assistance, to demand the release of three men.

“The state must guarantee the safety of the Christian minority, vulnerable to the continuing intimidation and violence justified in the name of religion, of far-right groups,” says Sajan George. The Christian community in Karnataka is increasingly being targeted by Hindu radicals since May 2008 when the BJP (Bharatiya Janatha Party, ultra-nationalist Hindu party) came to power. While Christians are systematically taken into custody, interrogated and accused of various crimes by Hindu radicals, their attackers roam about on the loose. “Justice is not pursuing those committing the crimes — reiterates the GCIC president — only innocent Christians suffer humiliation and arrests.”

Like every year, Henry Baptist Reuben, a Catholic, had organized a day of service to the lepers in his house, in which he distributes clothes, food and other household items. In the early afternoon, a local Hindu raided his home with 20 other activists, accusing Reuben and his family of forced conversions. The Catholic was not even allowed to explain the situation, before the Hindus called the Hennur police station. Inspector Hanumantharayappa arrived quickly, taking Reuben and two lepers away under section 295-A of the Penal Code, for “injury to religious feelings.”

Sajan K George criticizes the work of law enforcement: “The police even ignored the cries of the sick who are present there, who tried in every possible way to explain that it was a regular annual activity in which they received help and there was no attempt to force them to convert. “

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

Qaeda Woes Fuel Talk of Speeding Afghan Pullback

As the Obama administration nears a decision on how rapidly to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, high-ranking officials say that Al Qaeda’s original network in the region has been crippled, providing a rationale for an accelerated reduction of troops.

The officials said drone strikes and other covert operations in Pakistan — most dramatically the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden — had left Al Qaeda paralyzed.

The account of success in the counterterrorism campaign, laid out by the officials on the condition that they not be identified, appeared to be an effort by the White House to advance an argument for a steeper pace of withdrawal from Afghanistan than the Pentagon has advocated.

The focus on progress against Al Qaeda runs counter to arguments made by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other military officials that the initial drawdown of troops should be modest, and that combat pressure should be maintained as long as possible.

[Return to headlines]

Shamed BBC Could Lose Prestigious TV Award Over ‘Faked Footage of Child Labour’ In Primark Panorama Expose

The BBC could be forced to hand back a prestigious award it won for the controversial Primark Panorama expose, after footage in the show of child labour in India was revealed to be fake.

The corporation won the Current Affairs Home Prize at the Royal Television Society awards for its show Primark: On The Rack, which was broadcast in June 2008.

However there is speculation that they could lose the award, following the findings of the BBC Trust’s investigation into the show, highlighting ‘serious editorial failings’ and saying footage used of three young boys in a workshop in Bangalore was ‘not authentic’.

[Return to headlines]

Far East

U.S. Soldiers Are Targets in Chinese Training Game

Computerized simulations feature Apache helicopters

Soldiers in China’s People’s Liberation Army are training for a possible future conflict through the assistance of a video game featuring U. S. soldiers as the enemy.

A report by China’s CCTV television shows PLA officers in front of screens that have M16-wielding soldiers and Apache gunships as potential targets.

Retired military veteran Bill Watkins sees something ominous in the PLA producing a game with American targets.

“In 1967, I predicted war with China in 50 years, as we slowly withdrew from the Western Pacific. I said we’d lose that war, leading to remilitarization of Japan, leading to nuclear war between China and Japan, wrecking both and allowing for the growth in 400 years or so the rise of the next world civilization, based on Indonesia.”

He adds that he was severely criticized because of his prediction.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Italy Takes First Step to Reverse Battisti Decision

Rome asks Brasilia to activate ‘commission of conciliation’

(ANSA) — Rome, 17 June — Italy on Friday took the first step in its battle to reverse Brazil’s decision not to extradite Italian ex-terrorist Cesare Battisti.

At the request of Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, the Italian embassy in Brasilia asked Brazilian authorities to activate a commission of conciliation set up by a 1954 convention between the two countries.

An expert on international law, Mauro Politi, will represent the Italian government on the commission.

The foreign ministry said Italy was “determined to take all necessary steps” to reclaim four-time convicted murderer Battisti, who was released by Brazil’s supreme court last week, sparking Italian ire.

Italy has said it will appeal against the decision at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


HRC Adopts Resolution on Migrants and Asylum Seekers Fleeing North Africa; Calls for Inquiry Into Allegations of Failures to Rescue Boats in Distress

The UN Human Rights Council, 17th Session, on Friday, 17 June, adopted a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.13) on Migrants and Asylum Seekers Fleeing from Events in North Africa. The Resolution recalls states’ obligations under human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law, including the obligation of non-refoulement and called for ships patrolling the Mediterranean Sea to provide assistance to non-seaworthy boats leaving North Africa.

The Resolution also calls for “a comprehensive inquiry into the very troubling allegations that sinking vessels carrying migrants and asylum seekers fleeing the events in North Africa were abandoned to their fate despite the alleged ability of European ships in the vicinity to rescue them, and welcomes the call made by the Council of Europe in this regard on 9 May 2011.” [NB — this quoted text is taken from a 15 June version of the Resolution and may not reflect the final approved language. frenzen]

The Resolution was adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 14 against, and no abstentions:

In favour (32): Angola; Argentina; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Brazil; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Chile; China; Cuba; Djibouti; Ecuador; Gabon; Ghana; Guatemala; Jordan; Kyrgyzstan; Malaysia; Maldives; Mauritania; Mauritius; Mexico; Nigeria; Pakistan; Qatar; Russian Federation; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Thailand; Uganda; Uruguay and Zambia.

Against (14): Belgium; France; Hungary; Japan; Norway; Poland; Republic of Korea; Republic of Moldova; Slovakia; Spain; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom and United States.

Excerpts from the Afternoon 17 June summary of the HRC meeting:

“OSITADINMA ANAEDU (Nigeria), introducing draft resolution L.13, said the African Group recognized that due to the recent crisis situation in North Africa, migrants had suffered great hardship. Migrants were fleeing, not flowing out of North Africa. People were running away because their lives were at risk. Other root causes for migration did not apply in this case. This resolution had been difficult to establish. Nigeria thanked all partners for their efforts in developing the draft resolution. The information emanating from North Africa was such that while neighboring countries did quite a lot in accommodating migrants, there were substantial difficulties in traveling from North Africa. Some people had even died at sea. Nigeria took note that some countries did provide assistance through their offices of migration or other mechanisms. The hardship suffered by migrants should be investigated in order to clarify the problems that arose and ensure this situation was not repeated. Nigeria believed that the Special Rapporteur, working with the High Commissioner, would be able to provide information about how to deal with such a situation in the future. The African Group would appreciate if the draft resolution would be approved by consensus.


ANDRAS DEKANY (Hungary), speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted that the European Union had assisted greatly with the humanitarian effort in Libya. >From the outset the European Union had been at the forefront of humanitarian response. The European Union had been active in repatriating third country nationals. This had been vital in reducing the stress on neighboring countries. The draft text was circulated late. The European Union had engaged in a constructive spirit on the text, while retaining a specific focus that would address the issue at stake in a more balanced and legally accurate manner, notably when referring to issues related to refugee law and law of the sea. It noted that this was particularly true with regard to PP7 and operative paragraphs, which introduced new language that was not consistent with public international law. The resolution did not capture the multi-dimensional aspects of the problem. There was no reference to the overall human rights situation in the region, and therefore the root causes of the plight of migrants. The resolution did not refer to the responsibility of criminal traffickers and continued to characterize the situation in an unbalanced way. The European Union and its Member States had continued to observe the principle of non-refoulement. Not a single refugee had been subjected to refoulement. The European Union called for a vote and noted that it would vote against the resolution.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN (United States), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on L. 13, said the United States shared concern for the migrants and asylum seekers fleeing the violence in Libya. A resolution requiring countries to recognize their obligations under international law and support victims of violence and migrants from Libya was important. However, this resolution assigned the sole responsibility to countries of destination and avoided reference to the root causes of the problem. The draft resolution used language that misconstrued State obligations and responsibilities regarding those migrants and asylum seekers. The sponsors had delayed introduction of the draft resolution, thus allowing only a restricted period to review and provide comments on the draft resolution. The United States regretted that the manner the resolution was developed belied its importance and sent the wrong message to the Gaddafi forces.”

Click here for UN News Centre summary.

Click here for the AFTERNOON 17 June 2011 summary of the HRC meeting.

Click here or on this link [ L.13 Document As Received ] for Resolution “document as received.”

Click here for Resolution “document as issued.” [NB — this may not be the final approved version.]

Click here or on this link [ L.13 Oral Revision ] for Resolution “oral revision.”

Click here, here or here for final versions of resolutions when available. [HRC Extranet registration may be required.]

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

More Refugees Arrive in Sicily, Escorted by a Maltese Patrol Boat

A boat carrying 235 migrants, all from sub-Saharan Africa and fleeing the conflict in Libya, arrived in southern Sicily today, authorities said.

Six of the migrants, who suffered from hypothermia and malnutrition, were taken to a hospital.

The group which included 19 women and five children arrived in Italian waters under Maltese escort after they were spotted yesterday.

(Malta insists all boats have right of transit through Maltese waters and the Maltese authorities do not need to interfere unless the boats are in distress.)

Italian customs, police and coastguard boats had earlier assisted another 159 migrants, also from sub-Saharan Africa, as they neared the Italian island of Pantelleria.

Since the start of the year more than 11,000 African refugees have landed in southern Italy after fleeing the conflict in the north African country, with their numbers increasing after NATO launched its campaign to oust the Kadhafi regime.

Catholic aid group Sant’Egidio said 1,820 African migrants, most from south of the Sahara, had drowned in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Gay Lover Kidnaps Groom Before Wedding in China

Amateur video footage taken in China shows a bride and a groom on their way to get married only to be stopped by the groom’s boyfriend, Dogan news agency, or DHA, reported.

The gay lover quarrels with the bride for some time and then runs off with the groom.

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

UK: Royal Ascot Fight: Death of Civility and Rise of the Vulgarians

Hookers and hooligans; drugs and assault charges — welcome to Ladies’ Day at Ascot where this week there were more tattoos on parade than on an average Ibiza booze cruise. And that was just the women.

When a brawl broke out between eight men, I suspect the only thing that prevented serious injury was the fact that the brawlers were so drunk they could hardly stand.

We even had a guest appearance from Wayne Rooney’s hooker Helen Wood who, far from displaying the smallest hint of shame or embarrassment, paraded around as if she were a duchess.

What a tawdry decline for an event that is said to be the Queen’s favourite date in the racing calendar.

It’s further proof that step by depressing step, the vulgarians are taking over Britain — a country that, when I arrived here from Australia 26 years ago, was characterised by civility, courtesy and good manners.

This is not about class. A few decades back no self-respecting member of any class would behave in such a vulgar way in public.


The fact is, when you lower your standards, you get a lower standard of person.

That applies not just to Ascot but to society in general.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]